Weblog Archives




  Saturday   October 11   2003


A Little Perspective on $87 billion.
or "A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it starts to add up to some real money."

On September 7th, 2003, President Bush announced on national television that he was asking the Congress to grant him an additional $87 billion dollars for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1, to continue the fight on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But $87 billion is an impossibly high number for anyone to visualize. Let's have a look....

  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

No money, no play: US on the brink in Iraq

What the donor government negotiators will be bringing in their pockets to Madrid, however, will not be their personal money nor that of the corporations, but that of their country's taxpayers. The Madrid meeting is an effort by the US to transfer the burden of Iraq from the Americans to, say, French, Japanese and German taxpayers. Borrowing from the IMF and the World Bank on behalf of the Iraqi people will pass the liability to future Iraqi generations, who will then be indebted to the IFIs and subjected to their conditions. For the burden they'll bear, others will be reaping the profits.

Whether the US would still consider it financially worthwhile to continue occupying Iraq thus depends on the following: how quickly Iraq's oil wells can rake in cash, the US taxpayers' willingness to part with their money, and the readiness of the donor countries to infuse funds. The Iraqis seem not to figure anywhere in the equation. Relying on oil is simply impossible today. When the going gets really tough, the second could still be an option, but not something Bush – as champion of tax cuts for the rich and presiding over a weak and deficit-ridden economy – would really want to push. The third then could be the only available option left

Rift grows between Iraq's interim council and US led coalition

A rift is growing between Iraq's interim government and the United States-led coalition over the deployment of Turkish troops to Iraq.

Turkey to Deploy Troops in Defiance of New Iraqi Leaders, Turmoil Deepens

Ankara moved on to a collision course with the interim leadership in Baghdad after deciding to send troops to its war-torn neighbor as the turmoil deepens in Iraq.

Attempts to Moderate Stance of IGC on Turks

The Bush administration is saying that it will not take "no" for an answer from the Interim Governing Council on the issue of Turkish troops. Washington naively tends to lump all Muslims together and had assumed that Sunni Muslim Turkish forces would be welcome in Iraq, especially in the Sunni Arab areas. In fact, there are Arab nationalist resentments against Ottoman rule, and Sunni Islamists in Iraq view the largely secular Turkish army as a horde of Voltairean infidels. Of course, Iraqi Kurds are most exercised, fearing that Turkey will find a way to interfere in their region.

AWOL State of Mind: Calls From Soldiers Desperate to Leave Iraq Flood Hotline

Morale among some war-weary GIs in Iraq is so low that a growing number of soldiers - including some now home on R&R - are researching the consequences of going AWOL, according to a leading support group.

Everywhere and nowhere, Saddam retains his grip on Baghdad's imagination
Suzanne Goldenberg finds six months after the dictator's statue fell, the US authority has not extinguished his legacy

A more substantial assault on Saddam's legacy is under way in the Republican Palace, where the occupation authority is making preparations to dismantle the food distribution system which gave free rations of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to every Iraqi.

Described by the UN as the world's most efficient food network, the system still keeps Iraqis from going hungry. But the US civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, views it as a dangerous socialist anachronism. The coalition provisional authority (CPA) is planning to abolish it in January, despite warnings from its own technical experts that this could lead to hunger and riots.

Such haste in obliterating all traces of Saddam is disconcerting for many Iraqis, especially the educated elite who were part of his bureaucracy. Many say the US has yet to appreciate how that bureaucracy functioned, and they fear that their national history is being replaced with another, without their consent.

"I don't want absolutely everything then to be portrayed as negative," said one former bureaucrat. "If they portray everything then as bad, then the world they will portray now is that just because Saddam is gone we are happy."

Since returning to Baghdad I have received several lectures from CPA officials and Washington lobbyists on what it was like in Iraq under Saddam and under America's bombardment. They bear no relation to anything I experienced during my weeks in Iraq at that time. The lobbyists insist it is the truth.

So it is easy for me to understand the disorientation of Iraqis as they try to sort out which truths will be relegated, and which will survive.

Jewelry and Raids...

Yesterday afternoon we went to visit a relative who had recently come home from London. He wasn’t a political refugee there, nor was he a double-agent… or anything glamorous… just a man who had decided to live his life in England. He came to visit every year, usually during December. He was in a state of… shock at what he saw around him. Every few minutes he would get up in disbelief, trailing off in mid-sentence, to stand in the window- looking out at the garden like he could perhaps see beyond the garden wall and into the streets of Baghdad.

“We watch it on television over there… but it’s nothing like *this*…” And I knew what he meant. Seeing it on the various networks covering the war is nothing like living in its midst. Watching the 7 o’clock news and hearing about ‘a car bomb in Baghdad’ is nothing like standing in the street, wary of the moving vehicles, wondering if one of them is going to burst into a flying ball of flames and shrapnel. Seeing the checkpoints on Al-Jazeera, CNN or BBC is nothing like driving solemnly up to them, easing the car to a stop and praying that the soldier on the other side doesn’t think you look decidedly suspicious… or that his gun doesn’t accidentally go off.

Slaves of the Foreigners

By radically opening up the Iraqi economy, America wants to attract international corporations to the banks of the Tigris. Iraqis are concerned that their country is being sold out.

A Shi'ite warning to America

 02:55 AM - link

  Friday   October 10   2003


Subhankar Banerjee


“Gravel and silt, washed down from the interior of the mountains by the swift, north-flowing rivers, have interacted with coastal currents to build a system of barrier islands and shallow, brackish lagoons along the northern edge of the refuge. During summer months, these lagoons become centers of biological productivity.”

Fran Mauer

  thanks to wood s lot

 11:07 PM - link

This piece puts a human face on the Palestinian tragedy. It's long, so lock that attention span down and read it.

The Keys of Palestine
by Robert Fisk

When David Roberts toured the Holy Land, he was an explorer as well as an artist, a romantic who filtered the hot and crude realities of the Middle East through a special screen. As he journeyed on horseback through Palestine and then up the coast of southern Lebanon in the 1830s, he was an adventurer, staying overnight with the governor of Tyre, crossing the snows of the Chouf mountain chain to the gentleness of the Bekaa Valley where he sketched the great temples of the Roman city of Heliopolis.

In the world that he created, there were no wars, no political disputes, no dangers. His lithographs of Palestinian villages and of Lebanon, of Tyre and the peninsula of Ras Naqourra, of the temples of Baalbek, are bathed only in the peace of antiquity, a nineteenth-century dream machine that would become more seductive as the decades saw the collapse of the Turkish and then of the British Empire.

For today, Roberts’ delicate sketches and water-colours of Ottoman Palestine can be found in the hallways, bedrooms and living rooms of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon. In the dust of the great Elin Helweh Palestinian camp just east of Sidon, cheap copies of Roberts’ prints — of Nablus, of Hebron, of Jericho and Jerusalem — are hung on the cement walls of refugee shacks, behind uncleaned glass, sometimes held in place by Scotch tape and glue. His pictures of Lebanon’s forgotten tranquillity hang in Lebanese homes too. Volumes of Roberts’ prints of Lebanon and Palestine can be bought in stores all over Beirut. They can be purchased in almost every tourist hotel in Israel. They are a balm in which anyone can believe.

In Roberts’ drawing of Jaffa, the old city seems to bend outwards with domes and minarets and dusty tracks, watched from a distance by a pastoral couple with a donkey. At Acre, the ramparts of Richard Coeur de Lion’s massive fortress stretch down to a tideless Mediterranean while tiny Arab figures promenade in the dusk past the serail. From time to time, the dun-coloured hills are washed with a light green, faint proof for the Palestinians perhaps that the desert bloomed before the Israelis created their state. In his epic landscape of Jerusalem executed in April of 1830, Roberts draws the Holy City in silhouette, its church towers and minarets, the Dome of the Rock, mere grey outlines against a soft evening sky. Six Arabs — their headdress and robes suggest they are Bedouin — rest beside an ancient well of translucent blue water. A broken Roman column lies beside the pool, its mammoth pedestal a reminder of the immensity of history. Roberts’ prints have become almost a cliché, corrupted by overuse, representative of both a cause and a dream. If it was like that once, why cannot it be so again, a land of peace and tranquillity?

David Roberts


Explaining the occupation to the occupier
By Amira Hass

How can a tiny Palestinian organization like Islamic Jihad produce so many walking bombs, suicide bombers who choose babies in strollers and their grandparents as targets? And how does an organization that once declared it would only target soldiers send its latest suicide bomber to a mixed Jewish-Arab city, to sow death and sorrow in a restaurant whose owners, workers and customers are Jews and Arabs, old and young.

Intelligence experts and Arabists on our side say it's because of Islam, which sanctifies wars, that there is unceasing incitement in the mosques, that Iran and Syria are behind it, that the suicide bombers and those who send them are out to destroy the State of Israel, that the people who blow themselves up are animals and that Arafat encourages terror.

There's a concept behind all these explanations, in which this sickening form of the Palestinian struggle has nothing to do with the occupation, that Israelis should not believe Palestinians who say there is a connection to the Israeli occupation. The concept says there is no connection between the proliferation of suicide bombings and the prevailing view in Palestinian society, which is that Israel, as a military and nuclear power, wants to squeeze a surrender out of the Palestinians that will legitimize the Israeli takeover of land in the West Bank and Gaza.

In other words, the concept is that the historical, political and geopolitical connections, the sociological and psychological
ramifications - none of it is relevant. The concept is that there is something inherent to the heritage of the suicide bombers and those who send them that is to blame, because the Palestinians won't give up their dream of destroying Israel and that Muslims only believe in the most radical interpretation of their


Israel's date with a runaway freight train

Once more, the deceptive "calm" was shattered on Oct. 4 by the horrifying suicide attack in Haifa, that took the lives of 19 restaurant diners, among them men, women and children, both Jews and Palestinian Israelis. "Calm", as used by the news media in this context, does not mean that Israelis and Palestinians stopped attacking each other, but applies to Palestinian actions alone. Ongoing Israeli violence, no matter who its target, is never considered to disturb such a "calm".

The Haifa attacker was a young woman training to become a lawyer. Why would a person who ought to have had everything to live for choose, instead, to end her life in such a cruel and devastating manner? As we learned about her victims, we also learned that she too was a victim -- just a few months ago, her brother and her cousin were killed in Jenin by the Israeli occupation forces. In her mind, she may have been retaliating for the pain she saw inflicted on her family and country.

According to rules written in the blood of so many innocent people, it was Israel's turn to exact revenge for the revenge. Within hours, Israel bombed Gaza and demolished the family house of the suicide bomber, creating new victims whose pain and suffering may, in turn, harden into a desire for yet more revenge. And so on.

To this, Israel added the novel step of bombing what it claimed was a Palestinian "terrorist" camp close to the Syrian capital, Damascus, a measure hitherto absent from Israel's standard menu of measures after a suicide attack. But let us look at the standard list.

Israel's Attack on Syria: The Impotence of Power

Sharon's target is not Arafat, but Palestinian solidarity
Until Hamas is drawn into a political role there can be no peace

It's the Policy, Stupid
Muslim Antipathy Driven Home by Latest White House Comments

Once again American strategic interests in the Islamic world have been sucker-punched by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and much of the U.S. body politic remains oblivious to the fact that they are even in the fight.

President Bush's defense of Israel's attack on Syria in the wake of Saturday's suicide bombing in Haifa has strengthened the hand of the radicals and left Muslims who favor a dialogue with the West shaking their heads in disbelief.

The president's declaration that Israel "must not feel constrained" in striking out at its enemies and Ariel Sharon's promise that Israel will "hit its enemies any place and in any way" have been headlines across the Islamic world.

In the view of Muslims, the comments drive home what they already know: American policy is inextricably linked with that of Israel.

"Israel has started enjoying its strategic 'gains' from the American occupation of Iraq, initiating a game of expanding the confrontation in the region," wrote one commentator in Lebanon's Al-Hayat newspaper, reflecting a common perception.

For the past two years, Americans - and their president - have been asking the question, "Why do they hate us?" But they have not wanted to hear the answer, which lies, in part, in the blood-soaked soil of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 10:56 PM - link


Scott Greene

1994, Lithograph


  thanks to wood s lot

 10:06 PM - link


Lantern Slides of Classical Antiquity

Many colleges have image collections that have been used as educational aids in classrooms and libraries. Bryn Mawr College is typical, though its collection is unusually large. The College's collection of slides and prints has been in use since before the turn of the twentieth century, and many of the images of archaeological subjects are truly irreplaceable. In fact, some of those images are now of interest and importance not only for classroom use but for students and scholars who need to examine monuments in detail. Many of the medium-format glass plates (lantern slides) from late in the nineteenth or early in the twentieth century, all black-and-white of course, were taken of monuments that have subsequently been damaged or eroded. There are also photographs of excavations in progress and of monuments in stages of repair/restoration that provide unique information to contemporary users. Thus, these images are not simply classroom aids now; they are invaluable resources for serious scholarship.


  thanks to plep

 01:27 AM - link

what went wrong

The Mission
By William Rivers Pitt

The right-wing politics that had forced the scandal were alien and unknown to much of the White House senior staff. To them, what the right was doing seemed so far-fetched, so impossibly convoluted, that they couldn't quite credit it. The self-enclosed hothouse nature of the right-wing world made it difficult to explain what was going on to those who lacked contact with it. Many had never even heard of people like Scaife."
- Sidney Blumenthal, 'The Clinton Wars'

I am writing this essay from an internet cafe nestled in a blue-collar neighborhood in Berlin, Germany. I have been, in the last week, to Amsterdam, Antwerp and The Hague. I will go from here to London, Oxford and Paris. I have been giving talks to ex-pat American groups and large crowds of confused Europeans. The Europeans are not confused because they are ill-informed; they are, in fact, far more aware of what is happening in America than most Americans are back home. These Europeans know all about the Project for The New American Century, they know all about the Office of Special Plans, they know all about the lies that have been spoon-fed to America and the world. They know all of this, simply, because the news media in Europe is not owned and operated as an advertising wing for General Electric, AOL/TimeWarner, Viacom, Disney or Ruppert Murdoch.

What these Europeans don't understand, and what they keep asking me, is why. "America had everything going for it," said noted Dutch author Karel von Wolfen to me the other day. "America had the respect of just about the whole world. No one here can possibly fathom why they would so quickly and so brazenly throw that all away."

Explaining this whole phenomenon is a bit like trying to unravel a Robert Ludlum plot. It is part fantasy, part madness, part greed, bound together with the barbed wire of an unyielding ideology. I try, again and again, to make it all clear.

I tell them that all this started in 1932 with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This election ushered in the phenomenon known as the New Deal - the rise of Social Security, the eventual rise of Medicare, the development of dozens of other social programs, and the enshrinement of the basic idea that the Federal government in America can be a force for good within the populace. Even in 1932, such an idea was anathema to unrestricted free-market profiteers and powerful business interests, for the rise of a powerful Federal government also heralded the rise of regulation.

 01:22 AM - link

earth art

Stan Herd
Earth Works

For over 20 years the artist Stan Herd has worked the earth using indigenous materials to produce evocative and mystical works. From 160 acre plowed portraits to one quarter acre intimate stone designs, his work has become a platform for discussion of mankind's contemporary relationship to the land.


  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

 01:14 AM - link

the republican vision


Earlier this week I had lunch with my mother. We got to talking about politics and she asked, "What's happened to the Republican party? They used to just be the party of rich people."

That's actually a penetrating question, and I want to try and answer it. In fact, I mainly want to try and answer it for conservatives who wonder why liberals treat them like lepers.

The Republican party, of course, still is the party of rich people, but if that's all it was then liberals like me would simply treat it as an ordinary opposition party to be fought civilly and compromised with when necessary. But it's become much more than that over the past couple of decades. It has become completely unhinged. Try this on for size:

Republicans won't rest until abortion is completely outlawed, Social Security is abolished, the welfare state is completely rolled back, the book of Genesis is taught in science classes, and the federal income tax is abolished.


 01:00 AM - link


Extreme Pumpkins.com

Extreme Pumpkins.com - Pumpkin carving at its wildest!


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 12:47 AM - link

wilson/plame affair

Executive Privilege, the Plame Affair and Ted Olson

Lisa English at Ruminate This raises the specter of "executive privilege" as a possible White House tactic in forestalling the Justice Department's investigation of the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. English cites a Boston Globe piece headlined, "Executive privilege seen as leak-case option":

The very words "executive privilege" evoke memories of scandal-plagued presidents trying to use the power of their office to hide from public view politically damaging information, and White House press secretary Scott McClellan was careful not to use the term. Still, he would not rule out the use of executive privilege, saying: "I think it's premature to even speculate about such matters."

Presidents can invoke executive privilege to shield from public view some aspects of their internal decision-making process. "It's used to shroud advice that's sometimes inflammatory or has been rejected," said Thomas Sargentich, a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C. "Executive privilege is not supposed to be a shield in criminal investigations."

Particularly disturbing is the news that all of the White House information regarding the investigation is being filtered by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales' office:

 12:42 AM - link


I've seen links to Janet Klein's site popping up in a number of places. The site is visually very interesting but I first knew about Janet from listening to her at Whole Wheat Radio. Go ahead and wander around her site but remember that she is primarily a musician, so go to Whole Wheat Radio and request her music. They have two CDs of her songs. It's great stuff!

Welcome to the Parlor of Janet Klein


We hope you will enjoy our Lovely, Naughty and Obscure Music of the 1910's, 20s and 30's. You'll find intriguing Music and lovely Photos for your entertainment.

My band Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys are here and I'm Janet! Together we hope to wow you with our tunes of Old Time Jazz, Rag-Time, Blues and Novelty Songs.

 12:39 AM - link


California Here We Come...

To commemorate California's histrionic, er… historic recall election, I thought it fitting to take a closer look at the economic picture of the less-than-golden state, and how it may affect the national economy.

First, unlike what many of the replacement candidates seem to have done, I spent a few hours online to actually look at the California budget to get a sense of the size of the problem and to see for myself how the media reports hold up to the spreadsheets (you can do this too -- see an official summary or the whole shebang).

First, to set the backdrop, California's Budget is just under $100 billion this year, and determined without much wriggle room: 40% is mandated for spending on K-12 education by Proposition 98. Almost all of the rest is federally mandated spending on programs including health and welfare. Only 2.5% of the budget is discretionary -- available for cuts and reapportionment. So why are the big cuts needed now?

Focusing on the two items in revenues that really stand-out, it's clear that a sizeable increase in personal income and capital gains taxes in the late 1990's lead to quite a boost in government revenues. Let’s look at the numbers (from the official budget, a study of the tax base, and statistics from RAND. Since I'm an economist, I can't resist making tables):

  thanks to Cursor

 12:24 AM - link


Photographs From the Chicago Daily News

This collection comprises over 55,000 images of urban life captured on glass plate negatives between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News, then one of Chicago's leading newspapers. The photographs illustrate the enormous variety of topics and events covered in the newspaper, although only about twenty percent of the images in the collection were published in the newspaper. Most of the photographs were taken in Chicago, Illinois, or in nearby towns, parks, or athletic fields. In addition to many Chicagoans, the images include politicians, actors, and other prominent people who stopped in Chicago during their travels and individual athletes and sports teams who came to Chicago. Also included are photographs illustrating the operations of the Chicago Daily News itself and pictures taken on occasional out-of-town trips by the Daily News's photographers to important events, such as the inauguration of presidents in Washington, D.C.


  thanks to 12.s

 12:19 AM - link

  Wednesday   October 8   2003

If Americans Knew

Americans have an enormous, often little known, connection to the ongoing and dangerous tragedy that is Israel and Palestine. As lives of the young and old are increasingly lost and devastated, due in part to short-sighted US policies, it is inevitable that these policies will endanger American lives as well. American citizens have the power to end this carnage.

We must be informed.

The U.S. gives $15,139,178 per day to the Israeli government and military and $205,479 to Palestinian NGO's

884 Israelis and 2,491 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.

The Israeli unemployment rate is 10.4%, while the Palestinian unemployment is estimated at 37-67%.

1 Israeli home has been destroyed by Palestinians and 2,202 Palestinian homes have been completely destroyed (14,436 partially destroyed) since September 29, 2000.

60+ new Jewish-only settlements have been built on confiscated Palestinian land between March 2001 and July 11, 2003. There have been 0 cases of Palestinians confiscating Israeli land and building settlements.

Israel Is Losing

I talked recently with an American who had just returned from more than 20 years in Israel. We did not talk for the record, so I will withhold his name and what he does for a living. But I will say he is somewhat well-known in Israel and that he loves it dearly but he has left, probably permanently, because he cannot take life there any longer. He is a nonstatistic -- a living victim of terrorism.

How many others there are like him I cannot say. He has the most valuable of all commodities in this world, an American passport, and with much regret and with questions about his courage, he used it to get out. His business had gone to hell, his life was always in danger and he simply could not take it any longer.

  thanks to Information Clearing House

 11:55 AM - link


La Torre de Pisa

The Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral. Its construction began in the august of 1173 and continued (with two long interruptions) for about two hundred years, in full fidelity to the original project, whose architect is still uncertain.

In this site you will find:

Tower's Gallery
Every detail of the Tower in 6400 pictures accessible interactively.

Tower's Events
Complete information about the Tower from 1173 up to the present.

Information on the inclination and the restoration interventions in 14 displays.


  thanks to plep

 10:55 AM - link

middle east

Israel's attack is a lethal step towards war in Middle East
by Robert Fisk

Israel received the Green Light. It came from what is called the Syria Accountability Act, moving through the United States Congress with the help of Israel's supporters, that will impose sanctions on Damascus for its supposed enthusiasm for "terrorism" and occupation of Lebanon.

Speaker after speaker in the past week has been warning that Syria is the new - or old, or non-existent - threat previously represented by Iraq: that it has weapons of mass destruction, that it has biological warheads, that it received Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction just before we began our illegal invasion of Iraq in March.

The Israeli lie about "thousands" of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has been uncloaked yet again. In reality, there hasn't been an Iranian militant in Lebanon for 20 years. But who cares? The dictatorial Syrian regime - and dictatorial it most decidedly is - has to be struck after a Jenin woman lawyer, who has probably never visited Damascus in her life, blows herself and 19 innocent Israelis up in Haifa.

And why not? If America can strike Afghanistan for the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and if America can invade Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 11 September, why shouldn't Israel strike Syria?

But no. Yesterday, we took another little lethal step along the road to Middle East war, establishing facts on the ground, proving that it's permissible to bomb the territory of Syria in the "war against terror", which President Bush has himself declared now includes Gaza.

Will Syria reply via Lebanon?

The Lebanese-Israeli border, the traditional venue for Syria to settle scores with its arch enemy, was bracing yesterday for a possible flare-up of violence after Israeli jets bombed a Palestinian camp in Syria.

A eulogy for the Arab state system

The Arab system has often been pronounced dead and this time it may indeed be true. What do I mean by the Arab system? Ideally, I mean a reasonably stable regional order, seemingly dedicated to Arab interests, managed by sovereign Arab states, accepted by many of its citizens and able to keep external enemies at bay, if not defeat them.

No one would recognize this as a description of today’s decimated and divided Arab world, bereft of all nationalist pride, lacking any solidarity or self-confidence, more subject to foreign domination than at any time since World War II, and at war with its own angry citizens.

 10:41 AM - link


Polar Image

Hi, since 1973 night and day sky have been my inspiration in photography. These pages show sample images of 60000 entries in my archives.


  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

 10:28 AM - link


Karzai Faces Revolt In Fragile Coalition
Northern Alliance May Back Another for President

Hamid Karzai, the interim Afghan leader who announced his candidacy for president Wednesday during a high-profile speaking tour of the United States and Britain, has returned home to confront an open political revolt by powerful rivals in his fragile coalition government.

Leaders of the Northern Alliance, the predominantly ethnic Tajik Islamic militia movement that includes the defense minister and a half-dozen regional militia bosses, held an unusual meeting here last week during Karzai's absence. Over the past three days, several spokesmen said the group has decided not to support Karzai's run for the presidency and to field its own candidate instead.

The threatened internal defection from Karzai comes at a critical time for Afghanistan's troubled transition to democracy, already a source of concern to the Bush administration, which strongly backs Karzai.

"There was discussion of cutting political ties with Karzai, finding another candidate and creating a new political party," Hafiz Mansour, publisher of a weekly magazine that represents Northern Alliance views, said of last week's meeting. "It is too early to say the results, but what is clear is that from now on, Karzai will be isolated."

 10:16 AM - link

postcard art

The Vintage Postcard Catalog


  thanks to amberglow

 10:11 AM - link


This is a good overview of Iraq.

Burn Baby Burn

The security situation in Iraq appears to have deteriorated rapidly over the past few days -- not so much because of the insurgents (although the toll of dead and wounded Americans continued to grow) but because the accumulated anger and frustration is beginning to boil over among a number of groups and in an number of places.

Loss of control in the Iraqi streets increasingly is mirrored in the palace suites. The Interim Governing Council, notionally an arm of the American occupation goverment, today rejected the idea of allowing Turkish troops into Iraq -- even as the Turkish parliament was voting to send them. (It's amazing what $8.5 billion in loans will do for a country's fighting spirit.)

But an actual Tet-style offensive seems very far fetched. This isn't Vietnam, and the Sunni insurgents, whoever they are, don't appear to have the men, the resources or the command-and-control networks needed to launch anything so ambitious.

A more plausible risk would seem to be something comparable to the 1968 urban riots here in America -- a wave of civil unrest that breaks out in many cities at once, and quickly spirals out of control. The insurgents, no doubt, would be happy to fan the flames any way they can.

Such a scenario could leave the Coalition with two choices: Crack down very hard, with indiscriminate use of lethal force, or, let the riots burn themselves out before trying to restore order. Either way, the Bush administration would be looking at a PR disaster, one that would make it impossible to pretend that things are gradually "getting better" in Iraq.

Iraqi raids fostering fresh enemies
Once-supportive, critical villagers now openly anti-American

Five months after President Bush declared the end of "major combat" in Iraq, the war may indeed be over for most of the country.

But not for Sheikh Mishkhen al Jumaili. Last month, American troops killed nine of his relatives, including his son, in the span of just four days.

"They mean to kill as many Iraqis as possible," said al Jumaili, weeping silently as his younger relatives quietly lowered Beijiya's coffin into the parched yellow cemetery ground.

Bowing slightly over the red velvet cloth that draped the coffin of his cousin Beijiya, al Jumaili said a solemn prayer and wiped his eyes. Then he turned his back and stepped away, unable to watch yet another member of his extended family vanish under heavy chunks of dry clay.

  thanks to The Agonist

 10:03 AM - link


Car Owners' Hero Dresses for the Job

As is so often the case, the trickiest part came when he had to explain himself to his family.

"I got kind of a lukewarm response," said the masked Englishman who calls himself Angle-Grinder Man and who has been trawling London for four months dressed in a homemade superhero outfit, complete with gold lamé underpants and cape, removing the security boots from people's illegally parked cars.

"Any parent who gets a phone call from his son saying, `Oh, you might see me in the newspaper; I'm a superhero wheel clamp vigilante' — it might take them a little while to formulate their views," he said in an interview.


  thanks to Badattitudes Journal

 09:44 AM - link

electronic voting fraud

Diebold Machines and Your Vote: Part II
Timeline of the Diebold Case
Susceptibility to Election Tampering Revealed; Legal Battles Ensue

On September 28, 2003 the Agonist published an exclusive, “Diebold Machines and Your Vote” outlining the susceptibility of electronic voting machines to tampering and election fraud.

Here in Part 2, for the first time in print, the Agonist discloses in extensive detail the Diebold case timeline, and the legal battles that ensued. The phases of this timeline are as follows: A) Diebold system becomes available to outside scrutiny, B) Revealed: Diebold system is susceptible to election tampering, C) Computer scientists demonstrate many critical vulnerabilities, D) Diebold CEO promises to “deliver electoral votes” to Bush in 2004, E) Evidence that Diebold illegally tabulated votes before polls closed, and F) Diebold responds with legal action to silence critics.

blackboxvoting.org is down but blackboxvoting.com is still up. Bev Harris' book Black Box Voting can be ordered at blackboxvoting.com. It can also be read there, too. The book is available as PDF downloads.


Republicans and Brits Will Count California's Recall Votes

When will the Democrats wake up and smell the fix? There is a reason why George Bush and his cronies wear a perpetual smirk on their faces. There's a reason for their cocksure confidence. They may not win every election, but if they don't, it will because they chose not to. For nothing is clearer than this, Republicans dominate voting technology companies in America. And they have foreign partners.

  thanks to Progressive Review

 12:41 AM - link


The American Stripper XXX

"Yeah, it's for the money."

Jezebel is probably the strongest woman I've met. I'd watch the coldness in her eyes as she stared at her own naked body in a mirror while she danced and then feel the suffocating warmth of her voice when she talked about her dying son.

Jezebel began dancing three nights a week and every other weekend when she found out her seven-year-old son had a brain tumor. Within weeks the tumor had spread. He was in and out of hospitals every couple of days.

One day you're an accountant, at a desk all day, phone calls, lunch breaks, errands, carpools. The next you're given a $20 bill to sit on a man, press against him, hold him, touch him - until he gets off. Trip.

  thanks to cipango

 12:25 AM - link


Fiscal Doomsday in the Offing

Some members of Congress of both parties have argued for months, if not years, that the lack of spending restraint, coupled with the penchant for ever-larger tax cuts, cannot be allowed to go on. Their cautions have gone unheeded.

Now they are finding credible allies. David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, is an appointed official with a 15-year term that gives him complete political security. His staff in the General Accounting Office provides the fullest range of information on government finances. Last month, Walker went to the National Press Club to raise a public alarm where he hoped it would be heard. "Our projected budget deficits," he said, "are not manageable without significant changes in status quo programs, policies, processes and operations."

Last week three organizations that had not previously collaborated joined at the press club to spell out in specific terms what David Walker meant. The Committee for Economic Development, a group of business and education leaders; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning research and advocacy group; and the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization focused on sound fiscal policy, issued their first joint statement on fiscal policy. They called the current budgetary situation "the most fiscally irresponsible" in American history.

Staff members of the three groups said that a realistic picture of the next decade shows it is likely that annual deficits will rise from current levels of $400 billion to more than $600 billion and total $5 trillion between 2004 and 2013 -- even assuming a quick return to healthy economic growth and lower unemployment.

Those numbers are incomprehensible. But a better sense of their meaning comes when the groups say that if current policies remain, balancing the budget by 2013 will require raising individual and corporate income taxes by 27 percent, cutting Social Security by 60 percent, cutting defense by 73 percent or cutting all programs -- except defense, homeland security, Social Security and Medicare -- by 40 percent.

  thanks to BookNotes

 12:14 AM - link


Here is a magazine that looks interesting...


Malcolm MacLean - An Leabhar Mòr / The Great Book of Gaelic - Introduction
Theo Dorgan - Twentieth Century Irish-Language Poetry
Twenty-Two Irish and Scottish Gaelic Poems, Translations and Artworks
An Leabhar Mòr - Resources
Patricia Sarrafian Ward - from THE BULLET COLLECTION
Eleanor Ross Taylor - Our Lives Are Rounded With A Sleep
Anant Kumar - The Mosques on the Banks of the Ganges: Apart or Together?
Peter Turnley - Audio Report - Seeing Another War in Iraq 2003
Katherine McNamara - The Only God is the God of War: On BLOOD MERIDIAN, an American Myth


  thanks to wood s lot

 12:09 AM - link

  Tuesday   October 7   2003

wilson/plame affair

Plamesville Diary: Cover-Up!

I sort of expected today to be rather quiet in Plamesville, with nothing to listen to but arguments back and forth about the journalistic ethics of either revealing your sources or compounding, by silence, a serious crime of which your sources tried to make you an instrument. I figured I could report that, make fun of the Wall Street Journal for openly rooting for whoever did it to get away with it, and get to bed early for once.

No such luck.

Instead, the town was rocked by two bombshell announcements, one of them seemingly designed to distract attention from the other.

In the news likely to dominate the current news cycle, the President, whose supporters have been arguing for ten days now that revealing Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA undercover officer was somehow not a crime, calmly announced that it was, indeed, a crime.

If you're not old enough to remember Watergate, and have been feeling bad about missing it, you should start feeling better. Listen closely, and you can hear John Mitchell's growl and the voice of White House Counsel John Dean saying to Sam Ervin, "And then I told the President..."

  thanks to Magpie

 10:55 PM - link


Virtual Theremin

Come one, come all, roll up and out with the old, the bathwater, the baby and the barrel, clean your ears and hearken, hearken to me as I proudly present to you, the bonny and beautiful public people that you are, a mechanism of musical magnificence, a device of deliciously demonic derring-do (in mildly musical a manner), a scintillating selection of sine waves, a hair-raising hotchpotch of heterodyning oscillators, a wealth of the wonderfully weird wrapped up in a handy hold-all... we proudly present for your entertainment, the worlds first mouse-controlled theremin with backing orchestra!


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:44 PM - link


Last night's TestingTesting with Andy Baker is in the TT archives. A wonderful show. Great songs and stories.

 12:30 PM - link

  Monday   October 6   2003

the capped crusader

The Guardian has some excerpts from Michael Moore's new book Dude, Where's My Country?.

How to talk to your conservative brother-in-law
There are a lot of fair-minded, pretty decent Republicans out there, believes Michael Moore - approach them in the right way, and they're ripe for conversion. He tells how in the first of our extracts from his brilliant new book, Dude, where's my country?

You know the scene all too well. Thanksgiving dinner. The family has gathered around the table to share good times and a hearty meal. The cranberries are ripe, the bird is plump, and that brother-in-law of yours is at it again. "The Bush tax cut is going to put this country back on the road to prosperity!" The room goes uncomfortably silent and somebody tries to change the subject. The brother-in-law continues. He goes through the familiar litany: "too many deadbeats are on welfare"; "affirmative action is reverse discrimination"; "they should build more prisons and throw away the key". Finally, your cousin Lydia has heard enough and calls him a "racist" and a "dick". Suddenly Grandma's special dilled mashed potatoes are flying across the table like an American missile on a sunny morning in residential Baghdad.

How to talk to your conservative brother-in-law (part two)

Answers please, Mr Bush
Michael Moore fired his opening salvo against George Bush and his rightwing cronies with his bestseller Stupid White Men. Now the president is in his sights again. In this second extract from his new book he asks his old enemy seven awkward questions

I have seven questions for you, Mr Bush. I ask them on behalf of the 3,000 who died that September day, and I ask them on behalf of the American people. We seek no revenge against you. We want only to know what happened, and what can be done to bring the murderers to justice, so we can prevent any future attacks on our citizens.

3. Who attacked the US on September 11 - a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friend, Saudi Arabia?

I'm sorry, Mr Bush, but something doesn't make sense.

You got us all repeating by rote that it was Osama bin Laden who was responsible for the attack on the United States on September 11. Even I was doing it. But then I started hearing strange stories about Osama's kidneys. Suddenly, I don't know who or what to trust. How could a guy sitting in a cave in Afghanistan, hooked up to dialysis, have directed and overseen the actions of 19 terrorists for two years in the US then plotted so perfectly the hijacking of four planes and then guaranteed that three of them would end up precisely on their targets? How did he organise, communicate, control and supervise this kind of massive attack? With two cans and a string?

If I sell another website this week I will probably buy this book at that time. So, if anyone wants to buy me a book, your time is running short. If you don't buy a book for me, get one for yourself. You could also get one for your conservative brother-in-law. I'm sure he would enjoy it.

 10:15 AM - link


It's Monday and time for another webcast from my living room. Click on over to TestingTesting for a show with Anchorage singer/songwriter Andy Baker. Derek Parrott, Joanne Rouse, and Steve Showell will be the TestingTesting House Band and Barton Cole will be back with one of his Commentary from the Wirres. Enter a comment in the show guestbook and I will read it to the performers. Click on in for an evening of living room music. A good time will be had by all.

Andy Baker

 09:48 AM - link

Can things get worse in Israel/Palestine? Just wait a few days. Sharon will find a way. While everyone is looking at an invasion of Gaza or the elimination of Arafa, Sharon bombs Syria.

Israeli Security Barrier: Bar to Terror or to Peace?

To a visitor who last saw the West Bank a few days before the current uprising began in September 2000, the length of barrier already completed and the wider changes in the territory brought about by the intifada are a shock. Three years ago, an air of hope and growing normality prevailed. Mostly, Israelis and Jewish settlers moved safely through Palestinian areas, visiting casinos and shopping at roadside bazaars.

Now, the West Bank has the appearance of a wasteland. Life is mostly at a standstill, with big cities, as well as the towns and villages, cut off from one another by a maze of Israeli-built "bypass roads" — open to settlers but closed to most Palestinians — Israeli Army checkpoints and new concrete-slab walls and fencing and piles of bulldozed rubble blocking roads everywhere.

To a Westerner with a permit to travel the territory, it seems like an archipelago of brooding ghettos, of weary men, women and children crossing a patchwork quilt of checkpoints and barriers. East of Jerusalem, where only limited sections of the fence have been completed, it cuts across the hills near Bethlehem. North of Tel Aviv, at Palestinian cities like Qalqilya, which has been surrounded by the fence, farmers heading for their lands and children heading for school must reach gates operated by Israeli soldiers at the set opening hours, especially at dusk, or face camping out overnight.

The deep divide between Palestinians and Israelis is captured by the mood here and in Ariel. Ariel projects modernity and middle-class prosperity, with its blossom-lined avenues, attractive stone houses and apartment blocks, arts and sports centers, well-equipped hospitals and schools, and its own Japanese-financed mini-golf center. It is the citadel of settlements, a vision that the 230,000 Jewish settlers across the West Bank and Gaza, many still in trailers, see as their future.

Haris, barely two miles away, is deeply dispirited. Here, only two of the men, among a dozen who stopped to talk about the fence, had work of any kind. The men focused part of their recriminations on President Bush, dismissing as "theater" American pressure on the Israeli government over the fence. Mostly, they spoke of their fears.

The future can wait

In case you haven't noticed, the future has disappeared. And not necessarily because it looks bad. It's gone. No one talks about it. Even the Hebrew language, an important harbinger of Israeli trends is being spoken today chiefly in the present tense. Previously, it heralded the birth of a confused younger generation that can barely make itself understood with all the "likes" and "you knows" it uses for padding.

Army Radio, for example, has forgotten how to conjugate verbs. The noontime newscasters always say that the chief of
staff "says this morning," and the government "decides yesterday." But the real significance of this takeover of the present goes much deeper, of course. Here are a few explanations why the past and the future have only a bright present in this country.

Future shock: The Yom Kippur season is particularly appropriate for reminding us how obscure the future has been - sometimes even tomorrow afternoon - at critical points in Israeli history. Bitter surprises have created a fear of even thinking about the future. Rabin once said that Israeli intelligence has bungled things at every strategic juncture. At a conference this week on the Yom Kippur War, Dr. Ephraim Kam of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Strategic Research Center (and a retired military intelligence colonel) listed a whole slew of reasons why more surprises are almost inevitable, despite all the experience under our belt. Former military intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit scared us silly with a line-up of 12 strategic surprises. The future? Br-r-r.

 09:41 AM - link


Signed and Sealed

'Signed and Sealed' is a series of 30 Limited Edition Lithographs by artist, Pat Elliott Shircore. The images were created by blending extracts from the original documents marking the beginning and end of Hong Kong's colonial history, the Treaty of Nanking (or Nanjing as it is now called) of 1842, when China ceded Hong Kong 'in perpetuity' to Britain, and the Second Convention of Peking of 1898, when the area under British rule was extended by lease for 99 years.


  thanks to plep

 09:01 AM - link


White House to Overhaul Iraq and Afghan Missions

The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

The new effort includes the creation of an "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries.

I'm sorry, but seeing Condi in charge of anything more complex than a stapler is really scary.

Senate: No extra funds for personal combat gear

An attempt Thursday night to provide more money to the Army so soldiers deploying to Iraq don’t have to buy their own combat gear failed after the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman showed little sympathy for the idea.

  thanks to Magpie

This is so wrong. Any soldier that thinks the Republicans give a shit about them should take this as a sign.

Left waiting in Iraq

My son-in-law is a member of the Missouri National Guard, currently stationed in Baghdad. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently visited Iraq. A few days before Rumsfeld's visit, my son-in-law's unit had received the news it had been awaiting eagerly: Its departure date from Iraq would be Dec. 3. This was the first time the men had been given an actual date after many months of wondering and questioning.

My son-in-law was among a small group of men who had lunch with Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was queried about the Dec. 3 departure date, and he assured the men that it was correct.

Three days later the media reported that the Defense Department was extending the tours of reservists and national guardsmen well past the one-year deployment. (Some of the men actually received this new from their families over the phone.) My son-in-law's unit now has a departure date of April 22.

  thanks to Eschaton

Lying sack of shit.

Force reduction in Iraq 'years' off
But general says coalition winning

The U.S. Army general who heads coalition forces in Iraq says it will be years before the United States is able to "draw down" its forces here, and he warned Americans to brace for more casualties, including a "significant engagement where tens of American soldiers or coalition soldiers" are killed.

  thanks to Eschaton

It appears that they are starting to recycle newspaper articles from the Vietnam era. Were winning. Right! And there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Seeing Another War in Iraq in 2003

I entered Iraq from Kuwait on the first day of the ground invasion by U.S. and British military forces, sharing a four-wheel-drive SUV with two other friends, both Italian photographers. For the following five weeks I worked independent of the military. I made this choice consciously, as I had during the Gulf War in 1991, hoping it would let me have the broadest possible exposure to the war. While I appreciate the great work of many of my colleagues who were “embedded” with the military, that approach to covering war was not the one I preferred.

It must be said that, regardless of the benefits that do exist of allowing embedding, the full story of a conflict can never be told to the public without those journalists who work independently. It is difficult, if not impossible, while you are with an advancing military unit to linger in an area and report on the casualties seen in hospitals, or witness the aftermath of battle on the civilian population, or cover the humanitarian and refugee crises.

At Al Asskan Hospital in Baghdad, a pediatric hospital, two doctors perform cardiac massage on 10-year Worood Nasiaf, who died a few minutes later. She suffered from pulmonary pneumonia, and she was unable to be brought to the hospital for treatment by her father, because of traveling conditions during the war, and because many hospitals stopped functioning during the fighting. In the bed next to hers' lay patient, 2-year-old Mortalha Hameed, and her mother Eman Ali, 23. After the doctors declared Worood Nasiaf dead, they put her hands together on her chest, and covered her face, and her father entered the room and wept.


Iraqis' patience wears thin as America delays handover
As Europe and UN put pressure on Washington, Iraqi leaders say they fear being 'puppets' of US

When Paul Bremer, the US civilian administrator in Baghdad, appointed the Iraqi governing council, he held out the promise of a significant Iraqi influence on America's postwar reconstruction.

But nearly three months later, widening differences are emerging between the chosen Iraqi leaders and Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that threaten American attempts to bring stability and security to Iraq. In a series of interviews with The Observer, several members of the council complained they had only a limited influence over American policies and were deeply frustrated at their lack of control over security and spending plans.

'They want to keep all the control for themselves,' said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish politician and one of the 24 council members. 'When you are not controlling the budgets, when the security file is not under your control, and when you cannot create jobs, what can you do? It is better to give up.'

'We will be looked at as puppets of the Americans and we will fail. If we fail, they fail.'

First Day of School...

Today was the first day of the new academic year. Well, it was actually on October 1, but most students didn’t bother going on Wednesday. University students have decided they are not going to start classes until next week.

Yesterday, I went with my cousin, his wife and my brother, E., to shop for school supplies for his two daughters- a pretty 10-year-old and a loud 7-year-old. Every year his wife, S., takes the girls to pick out their own pencils, notebooks and backpacks but ever since the war, she hasn’t let them step outside of the house- unless it is to go visit a relative.

So we packed into the car and headed off for a shopping area in the middle of Baghdad. We don’t have shopping malls or huge shopping centers in Iraq. We have shops, big and small, up and down commercial streets and located on corners of residential blocks. School supplies are sold at ‘makatib’ or stationary shops that sell everything from toys to desk sets.

We pulled up in front of a little stationary shop and all got down. It felt a bit ridiculous- four grown people all out shopping for Barbie notebooks and strawberry-scented erasers… but I knew it was necessary. E. and the cousin loitered outside of the shop while we went inside to make our purchases.

 01:57 AM - link


S T I L L N E S S  &  O C C U R R E N C E
D A V I D  W I L L I A M S

Stillness and Occurrence is a series of fifteen large-scale colour photographic seascapes first exhibited at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, in September 2000. Produced using long exposures and very particular lighting conditions these evocative images have a mesmeric quality, blurring and subverting our perception of time and space. They have the appearance of paintings, but with one crucial difference: these 'events' actually happened.


  thanks to Conscientious

 01:06 AM - link

wilson/plame affair

Brian Flemming has gone to the trouble to document the day by day efforts of Bush to get to the bottom of this.

76 Days

July 14, 2003. President Bush discovers a breach of national security. Two "senior administration officials" have apparently exposed the identity of a covert CIA operative while attempting to discredit one of Bush's critics.

President Bush immediately swings into action to cure this shocking, illegal breach. Here is a detailed, day-by-day chronology of the president's decisive action:

  thanks to Eschaton

It's worth looking at a Salon ad to read Daniel Ellsberg's reaction to Bush's plumbers...

"The plumbers are back"
The man who sparked Watergate, Daniel Ellsberg, has deja vu watching the Bush administration try to spin the Plame leak.

Watching the Valerie Plame scandal unfold, Daniel Ellsberg has déjà vu. In 1971, Ellsberg became the most famous leaker in American history with his release of the 7,000-page Pentagon Papers, a Defense Department study of the country's sordid involvement in Indochina. Besides revealing the lies and hypocrisy of American policy in a war its leaders knew was futile, Ellsberg's leak led Nixon to create the plumbers, the dirty tricks squad that broke into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office looking for information to discredit him. Nixon's henchmen would use similar tactics against Democratic opponents, leading to the Watergate scandal and the president's downfall.

Today, Ellsberg says, America is in the early stages of a similar crisis. Once again, he says, the country is embroiled in a foreign war for murky reasons. Once again, he says, the White House has justified its policy with lies, and is smearing a whistle-blower who exposed those lies.

 01:01 AM - link


Mayo Foundation Libraries 90th Anniversary Exhibit:
Anatomy Books from the Bequest of Dr. Anthony H. Kelly


  thanks to 12.s

 12:52 AM - link


George W. Bush's Medieval Presidency

It should have been an embarrassing admission for him and a flabbergasting one for us: President Bush told Fox News recently that he only "glanced" at newspaper headlines, rarely reading stories, and that for his real news hits, he relied on briefings from acolytes who, he said flippantly, "probably read the news themselves." He rationalized his indifference by claiming he needed "objective" information. Even allowing for the president's contempt for the press, it was a peculiar comment, and it prompted the New York Times to call him "one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House."

But in citing this as a personal deficiency or even as political grandstanding, critics may have missed the larger point. Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency — one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. And just as in medieval days, this willful ignorance can lead to terrible consequences.

The difference between the current administration and its conservative forebears is that facts don't seem to matter at all. They don't even matter enough to reinterpret. Bush doesn't read the papers or watch the news, and Condoleezza Rice, his national security advisor, reportedly didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate, which is apparently why she missed the remarks casting doubt on claims that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. (She reportedly read the document later.) And although Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hasn't disavowed reading or watching the news, he has publicly and proudly disavowed paying any attention to it. In this administration, everyone already knows the truth.

A more sinister aspect to this presidency's cavalier attitude toward facts is its effort to bend, twist and distort them when it apparently serves the administration's interests. Intelligence was exaggerated to justify the war in Iraq. Even if there were no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or of ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, the CIA was expected to substantiate the accusations. In a similar vein, the New Republic reported that Treasury Department economists had been demoted for providing objective analysis that would help define policy, as they had done in previous administrations. Now they provide fodder for policy already determined. Said one economist who had worked in the Clinton, Reagan and first Bush administrations, "They didn't worry about whether they agreed; we were encouraged to raise issues." Not anymore.

His self-confidence is certainly admirable at a time when most politicians mistake opinion polls for empiricism. It is also scary. As writer Leon Wieseltier recently observed, this is a presidency without doubt, one entirely comfortable with its own certainties, which is what makes it medieval. But as Wieseltier also observed, it is doubt that deepens one's vision of life and often provides a better basis for acting within it. It is doubt that helps one understand the world and enables one to avoid hubris. A presidency without doubt and resistant to disconcerting facts is a presidency not on the road to Damascus but on the road to disaster. By regarding facts as political tools, it compromises information and makes reality itself suspect, not to mention that it compromises the agencies that provide the information and makes them unreliable in the future. And by ignoring anything that contradicts its faith, it can vaingloriously plow ahead — right into the abyss. The president and his crew may well live within a pre-Enlightenment lead bubble where they are unwilling and unable to see beyond themselves, but their fellow Americans must live in the real world where even the most powerful nation cannot simply posit its own reality. If you need proof, just read the newspapers.

  thanks to daily KOS

 12:45 AM - link


Jack Spencer

Parasol, San Miguel de Allende (2001)


  thanks to wood s lot

 12:38 AM - link


Latest in Bush's War on Labor

If you go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website you might think the Bush administration's most important labor initiative of late was having Labor Secretary Elaine Chao meet with singer Ricky Martin. What the DoL is not trumpeting on their website is their latest salvo in their war against organized labor.

This week the DoL imposed a new set of reporting requirements that one member of Congress described as “Draconian.” He and over two dozen colleagues protested the rules when they were proposed last Spring as “costly requirements would be unduly burdensome. We believe that Union resources are best utilized when representing members during negotiations or grievance handling, not adapting and complying with an unprecedented level of detailed financial information and government forms.”

This initiative has one purpose—to inhibit the ability of democratically-elected union leaders to use their unions’ resources to educate their members about public policy and political candidates. The more time union officers spend reporting every finance transaction to the Department of Labor, the less time they have to tell their members about George Bush’s latest attack on their right to bargain collectively and their right to earn a decent living.

 12:24 AM - link

mechanical drawing

Industrial Art Gallery

One day in about 1997, I was poking around in a mostly uninteresting used bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sifting aimlessly through books in the sciences section, when I stumbled on a bland-looking old Book with the title Engineering Descriptive Geometry. The books around it had straightforward titles (Geology, etc.), but I drew a complete blank when I tried to imagine what "engineering descriptive geometry" would refer to. I opened the Book and found out: "engineering descriptive geometry" means manually doing everything that is now done by CAD programs on computers. It's plans and blueprints -- not of buildings, but of machine parts.


  thanks to 12.s

I was a drafter "on the board" between 1965 and 1979 at the Boeing Company. I was really good at descriptive geometry. In 1979 they brought a strange new contraption in. They put it into it's own air conditioned room. Four terminals for a 2D CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing) system. I got on the system as soon as I could and never looked back. I really appreciate a well done hand drawn mechanical drawing. I would as much want to go back to the board as to go back in a darkroom. I'm just a digital kind of guy. But part of me misses laying down a good line. It's a lost art.

 12:21 AM - link