Monday, October 31, 2005


I don't know about you all, but I am tired. I am tired of George W. Bush and everyone in his White House. I am tired of Bill Frist and Tom DeLay. I'm tired of Harriet Miers and now I'm going to be tired of Samuel Alito. I'm tired of Scooter Libby and tired of Karl Rove. I'm tired of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I'm tired of Tony Blair and Osama Bin Laden. I'm tired of Judith Miller and Tim Russert.

I'm just tired, tired, tired.

Buddenbrooks and Super Novas

I read Buddenbrooks, by Thomas Mann, many, many years ago. It was one of his first books and, I thought at the time, a good read. It describes the slow decline of a German mercantile family (in Hanover, I believe.) According to the Britannica, it attributes the decline to the struggle between the artistic spirit and that of commerce. You can't have both worlds. (This has some parrallels to C.P. Snow's mid century examination of the two cultures, Science and Literature.) The whole novel is a lecture on hubris.

In any case, at one point in the story one of the protagonists (Mann used himself as a model) and his sister are outside a family party, looking at the night sky. There, high above them, is a Super Nova, easily the brightest star in the sky. The protagonist turns to his sister and observes that even as the light from this event reaches them, the star is dead! We as the readers, of course, take this as a prophecy for the family, and it comes true with the last heir dying off at the end of typhus.

Think back to November 2, 2004, when we were all sitting around the television being alternately encouraged, and ultimately devastated by the election returns. Think how George W. Bush might have looked at that "star" and felt that it would last forever as the brightest in the sky.

George, I have news for you.

(o.k., o.k. its a picture of Mars. But there were no good pics of super novas on the Web)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Geography Answer

Alright, nobody took me up on it, but the answer is, Ta Da:

5. North West to South East!

The Tiresome Threesome

Scooter, Dark Eyes and Big Time discuss future accomodations in Leavenworth.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hello, from the Alternative Universe

The White House is defending Libby. In part, due to:
In 1992, Libby and former Pentagon deputy Paul Wolfowitz wrote a paper favoring the use of pre-emptive force to prevent countries from developing weapons of mass destruction. The paper later won praise from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, which called it "a blueprint for maintaining U.S. pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival."
Excuse me, EXCUSE ME! This is just bogus feces. No one can fault the United States from trying to prevent the rise of a "great power rival." Unfortunately, the great power rivals have already risen: China and India. They both have nuclear weapons. Oh, and let's not forget North Korea and Pakistan. And, of course, there is Israel, who would bomb us in a second if it suited their purposes.

But Iraq? Iraq? There were a lot of munitions in Iraq. They are now all in the hands of people who hate us. There wasn't as much as a nuclear pea shooter.

The problem in this country is that the press doesn't engage in reality testing.

Geography Question:

Going from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which direction does the Panama Canal traverse?

1. East to West?
2. North East to South West?
3. South East to North West
4. North to South?
5. North West to South East?

Answer tomorrow (no cheating).

Where is Bob Dylan when we need him?

Now that the memory lane molecules are activated in my grey and bare cerebral cortex, I want to know who's going to encapsulate this for us like Dylan did? How come I still feel like:
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Bob Dylan, Mr. Tamborine Man

Last one to the Fallout Shelter is a Rotten Egg!

Hunter at DailyKos has a very prescient analysis of the Libby idictments entitled: Will There Be More Indictments?. I won't pretend to get into the nuances of it all. Suffice it to say that this Administration is in deep doo-doo. If I were in the White House, I would be running for the Fallout Shelters.

These were a fixture in my youth. We used to practice getting under our desks in elementary school (called grammer school then.) We even wore dog tags! However, most of us swapped them with our boy/girl friends so anyone macabre enough to go sorting through a lot of nuked 7 year olds would have been very confused. The whole thought of it now makes me wonder at our sanity.

My father took me to a science exhibit at the local field house about that time. In one room that had a simulated atomic attack. Around the walls was an outline of a city. The lights went out, there was the sound of an explosion, and the buildings came down and a wreckage appeared. I didn't sleep for months I was so scared.

It is unfortunate that George Bush, Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby didn't see the same exhibit. Then again, they might have laughed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Let the Games Begin!

Oh, this would be fun, if it wasn't so sad:
9. On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA. (emphasis added)
And then Kos has collected these:
When the White House was asked specifically whether Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams or Lewis Libby told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands." [White House Briefing, 10/10/03]

"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action." [Bush Remarks: Chicago, Illinois, 9/30/03]
You see, these people knew all along what had happened. And, it tooks us


to find out.

Bush never would have been elected if this was known.

Friday Crab Blogging (abstract day)

What goes through the mind of a three year old when asked to draw a crab?

Lyndie England Wants YOU!

For some fun and games at her hideaway in Iraq. Be sure and bring some Egyptians for the pyramid game, and some whips and chains for ooooooh "you know what."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Oh, Harriet, we just were getting to know ya!

Beautiful, Beautiful Dark Eyes Blue Eyes
Beautiful, Beautiful Dark Eyes Blue Eyes
Beautiful, Beautiful Dark Eyes Blue Eyes

I'll never love Dark Eyes again!


You are feeling very sleepy. You are going to give somebody Republican all of your money. You never heard of Valerie Plame, and you want to give me a big, wet, sloppy kiss!
And if you don't, I'll use my death ray!

Fitzgerald For The Supreme Court!

Fitzgerald for the

Supreme Court!

Fitzgerald for the

Supreme Court!

Fitzgerald for the Supreme Court!

Fitzgerald for the Supreme Court!

Oh, well. It was a good idea while it lasted.

Attention, Attention! Tax Cut Needed!

The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobile Oil Company announced that it was urgently applying to the Congress of the United States of America for an immediate tax cut. They felt that, being the largest business in the United States they were entitled to a bonus given their excellent performance in the last Quarter with Hurricane Katrina:
Actually, 57% is a little low:
IRVING, Texas - Exxon Mobil Corp. had a quarter for the record books. The world's largest publicly traded oil company said Thursday high oil and natural-gas prices helped its third-quarter profit surge almost 75 percent to $9.92 billion, the largest quarterly profit for a U.S. company ever, and it was the first to ring up more than $100 billion in quarterly sales. (emphasis added)
Just in case you were wondering why your gas went up to $3.00 a gallon and why they can't get gas in Miami. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Bastards are at it again

Republicans Cut Several Programs in Budget

Ah, so:
Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs.
Simply putting Our Fearless Leader's words into action:
"I encourage Congress to push the envelope when it comes to cutting spending,"
How about this one:
"...delay some lump-sum payments to very poor and elderly beneficiaries of Social Security's Supplemental Security Income program."
Very Poor and Elderly, did you hear that you creep?

Very Poor and Elderly.

Three more years of this pumpkin head. Can we handle it?

Dum Di Dum Dum

Jack Webb and Dum-di-dum-dum; my gosh, what more could you want. Maybe this (from Richard Sale via Digby):
The probe is far from being at an end. According to this reporter's sources, Fitzgerald approached the judge in charge of the case and asked that a new grand jury be empaneled.
Stay Tuned. Fitzmas is postponed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2,000 Wasted Lives

Wasted. Never had a chance. Died in agony.

For What?

Master of Suspense

(Brian / Edward Jr. Holland / Lamont Dozier)

Diana Ross & The Supremes - 1966
Vanilla Fudge

Set me free, why don't you babe
Get out of my life, why don't you babe
'Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hanging' on
You don't really need me
But you keep me hanging' on

Why do you keep a coming around
Playing with my heart?
Why don't you get out of my life
And let me make a new start?
Let me get over you
But you keep me hanging' on

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jonathan Strange, Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins and....Jerry Falwell

Suddenly we are inundated by magic. Many of us read the Lord of the Rings series back in the sixties when it became popular. We had our conceptions of hobbits and orcs at that time, since replaced by the movie. (of course, now that they have found the real hobbits on an island in the South Seas, we are waiting for an orc skeleton to be uncovered in the East Village of New York). But no one could have predicted this onslaught of the white and black magic of the past few years.

I am in the midst of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (JSAMN) by Susanna Clarke. At first I was bored, but towards the end it has gotten pretty interesting. I am fascinated how similar in many ways, particularly thematic, JSAMN is to the Harry Potter series. Both are about magic. Both have human magicians newly learning their art. Both have older, wiser magicians. Both present a world where magic is an accepted practice. And, of course, both are pure fantasy.

We have similarities in the battle between the human magicians (Norrell and Strange) and the fairies in JSAMN book and the battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort in Rawlins' series. Furthermore, both JSAMN and the Potter series have similarities to the LOTR, especially in each one of them holding up a picture of English rectitude and coziness (e.g. the whole thing about the "Shire" in LOTR) while launching into epic battles with the forces of evil (interestingly the French, the traditional English Foe, are included in JSAMN, ). While Harry Potter has moved a little towards becoming more complex, he still reads like a fairy tale. JSAMN claims depth for its major characters, but they really do not have it. The minor characters are actually caricatures(Wellington, Childermass, etc.).

What ever happened to nuance? Everyone from George Bush to Jerry Falwell seems to want to see the world in black and white and these books carry out this agenda in spades (no pun intended). I would argue that it is the same with fundamentalist religion. Black and white. Good and Evil. Black and White (and throw in a little racism while you're at it).

Most of the problem in Iraq is that a vast number of people there are now allied with the insurgency. These people are immediately classified as "evil" by our government. It is legitimate to kill them, according to our government. This is just, patently false. It is the result of black and white thinking and, just as the novels of Hemingway and Fitztgerald mirrored the Jazz Age, the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell mirror ours.

Jerry Falwell comes in because Christian Fundamentalism in no different than magic. I don't have the specific quotes, but Falwell and others of his ilk have repeatedly invoked magical thinking. As if there has ever been a documented example of divine intervention in the human world. Miracles are just spells (particularly if, like Harry Potter, you say them in Latin).

So, why? I have a thought. Its not very profound, and it is probably a little elitist. Could it be that large segments of the population can't grasp the technological advances of the past 100 years? Magic and Christian Fundamentalism in this view are responses to this scientific and secular remaking of society. Probably an inevitable reaction.

I find this over and over again in medicine. The real frustration of people when confronted with technology such as bone marrow transplantation. Of course, we in medicines, like the magicians. have often misled people into expecting outcomes that are probably not going to happen. It is our way of retaining the magicians robes.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Mad Beast

There is this:
Lt. Colonel Haitham Akram was driving his two young sons in his own car when a bomb hidden on the roadside blasted the vehicle at 8 a.m., engulfing it in flames.... Another car parked nearby also burned, killing two girls aged 7 and 9,....

A short time later, another roadside bomb exploded in Tikrit near a car carrying children to school, wounding three... (emphasis added)
For a while, I agreed with Juan Cole and was against immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Recently, he has changed. So have I. We don't have any choice. We must get out. Our presence does nothing but fuel the insurgency which, like a mad beast, is feeding on the lives of its own children.

Waiting for Godot


To the Editor:

If the first casualty of war is truth, the first casualty of politics is the child. This has never been truer than in these unsettled times. Children are under siege from a number of sides. First and foremost, children are experiencing the downdraft of a crisis of confidence we adults are having in the leaders and institutions of America. It does little for our president to perseverate about the “War on Terror” when, at home, children see their peers wading through the brackish swamps that once were New Orleans. And at some point the horror of Iraq penetrates even the most adamantly fortified homes. Add to that the constant inflection of violence from our TV screens and we have a recipe for the creation of a compromised future populace.

For some children, health care is a given. For many others, it is in jeopardy. The Federal Government is in a fiscal tailspin and the safety net of Medicaid is an easy target. All cynical politicians (a tautology) know that kids don’t vote.

Of all the servers of children, education must be the most maligned. But education is dependent on the tax structure and this, too, is easy pickins when the times get rough.

All one asks is that we at least think about the effect of our decisions on children. As a voter, sound out the politicians. Hold their feet to the fire if they don’t produce. Children are our future.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Young Lawmaker Likens Congress to Jr. High

Yep, its just like Junior High, where you get to vote to support your Principal going across town and trashing your rival's classrooms. Except that that's more fun.

"This place is a much more sophisticated junior high school," 30-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said recently in an interview. "There are the nice guys that everybody likes, the jocks, the geeks, the bullies — they're all here. It's a representative democracy."

I don't know about the "nice guys everybody likes" (please name me one!), the jocks, or the geeks, but I can name you a few bullies. How do you think he got the name "The Exterminator?" (Oh, sorry, that's his real job.)

Borked Again

This guy Robert Bork comes back to haunt us again and again. The following is a recent quote from this idiot in the WSJ:
With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work--for liberals. There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. (emphasis added)
As if liberals had anything to do with Dark Eyes nomination, or this is not the same court that elevated a dyslexic bumpkin to the White House. Jeez. Not that I disagree with his estimation of her abilities, though. But we forget what this man is infamous for:
When the Watergate scandal reached a similar stage in October 1973, President Richard Nixon, ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire the intrepid special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson resigned rather than carry out Nixon's order; and so did his deputy William Ruckleshaus. So Nixon had to reach farther down into the Justice department where he found Robert Bork, who promptly dismissed Cox in the so-called Saturday Night Massacre. (emphasis added)
What might happen if Fitzgerald indicts Cheney? It is inconceivable that Albert "Chico" Gonzales woud ever resign over this. Just the opposite, he would be rubbing his hands in glee. He has much nastier things up his sleeve. Poor Fitzy would most likely undergo "Extreme Rendition" to Kazakhstan or parts nearby.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: U.S. policy is not to send detainees "to countries where we believe or we know that they're going to be tortured." If a country has a history of torture, Washington seeks additional assurances that it will not be used against the transferred detainee. But the government "can't fully control" what other nations do. He does not know whether countries have always complied with their promises (Washington Post, March 8, 2005)(emphasis added).

Oh, its going to be an interesting week.

Scrooge and Tiny Tim Russert

Billmon has a piece today where he analyzes John Dean's contention that Fitzmas will be a big letdown. (Fitzmas is, for those of you who are not blogspheroholics, would be the morning after the great number of brightly wrapped indictments Special Counsel Fitgerald is supposed to hand down this week including, we had hoped, Libby, Rove and unindicted co-conspirator Cheney. My own opinion is that Tim Russert was the original source of the "leak.")

In addition to a large amount of pertinent stuff on the possibility of indicting Cheney or Bush, Dean says about Fitzgerald:
First, he could close down his Washington office; return to his work in Chicago, where he serves as the U.S. Attorney; and simply issue a statement that his investigation has ended. (He has no authority to write a report, for the information he has obtained is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus is secret).

Second, he could extend the grand jury for whatever time he needs to complete his investigation.

And third, he could issue one or more indictments.
Pretty clearly Dean thinks that in the win-place-show categories, Fitzmas comes up wanting. Damn! Dean raises the spectre always present in Washington (and London, and Moscow, etc. etc.) that such indictments would compromise National Security. Of course!

I had a concern about such high level indictments a few days ago (Oct. 15):
We have been kept on tenter hooks and any information that we obtain at this point will be anticlimactic, I can guarantee it. What can Fitzgerald, a good Republican, do? If he indicts Rove and Libby with Cheney as a co-conspirator, we will be forced into a constitutional crisis because, as pointed out before, we are not a parliamentary democracy. We can't remove the government except every four years and we, the dumb idiots that we are, passed up the chance in 2004. Oh, that we were such a government and the will of the people could be more rapidly effected. If these indictments come down, I am not sure we can make it to 2008.
Mr. Fitzgerald, please do not be a Scrooge, you will hear chains rattling for the rest of your life and beyond if you don't do the right thing. We made it through Watergate. Let us try this one too.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tommy, Tommy, my boy

Tommy's lawyer thinks he's a smartass and wants himself another judge:
Rather than the corporate donations DeLay is accused of illegally funneling to candidates, defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin made an issue of the $3,400 in political donations the judge has made to Democratic causes, including one to a group critical of DeLay and Republicans.
Let me ask a question. If a case involving a Democrat comes before the Supreme Court, say a case of a contested election, does that mean all the Judges on the Supreme Court who have ever given money to the Republican party have to recuse themselves?

Paging Al Gore.....Paging Al Gore....

On another note, can Sadam Hussein ask for another judge?


Alright, all you wisacres out there:

Why are we having so many hurricanes?

Why is the greatest hurricane of all time at the end of October?

What is going on?

An internet nickle for the correct answer.

Friday Crab Blogging


Thursday, October 20, 2005

And for an encore I will play.....

....a little something called "Bye, Bye, Dickie Bird"
(as soon as they remove this damn piano cover)

Picture part of Supreme Court Disclosure

From Holden:
Secondly, the questionnaire that she filled out is an important questionnaire, and obviously they will address the questions that the senators have in the questionnaire -- or as a result of the answers to the questions in the questionnaire.

Why is this man smiling?

Poll Finds Baseball Umps Doing Good Job

Jeez, you know the world's coming to an end now.

Aniston and Vaughn Photographed Kissing

This is news?

But if the Vice President of the United States is involved in treasonous activity? Ho, Hum...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Medicaid Cuts

While we were sleeping (actually, while we were enthralled by the Punch and Judy show), the bad guys were at work. Suddenly, up on the radar screen comes the budget vote. And, of course, those elected members of what Billmon calls the Chamber of Deputies have children in their sights. Have they no shame? From the AP:
"We'll bring the first part of our package ... to the floor when we have 218 votes," said Rep. Roy Blunt...the Missouri Republican who has temporarily replaced indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Blunt was referring a bill that Republican leaders had hoped to pass in the House on Thursday to cut mandatory federal programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and student loans, by $50 billion over the next five years, instead of the previously planned $35 billion. (emphasis added)
This is the same Tom DeLay who, according to a blurb on Kos:
A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid.
(I know, I know, Boston elected a Mayor while he was still in jail. But, that's Boston. This is the Chamber of Deputies of the United States!)

Just what is on the table for Medicaid? Well, there are a number of things that affect children. They want to do away with Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) and they want poor people to have to pay a copay for prescriptions. Both bad ideas.

As more and more American families lose their employee sponsored health insurance (and I could go on about this for years) the only health care they can get for their children is State Health Insurance which is really just Medicaid. It is simply unconscionable to cut this program any further. It already functions on the very rim of solvency. A significant portion of my office staff's day is spent trying to get prescriptions and services for Medicaid patients. These are services for which I am not reimbursed. Not screening them for illnesses that cost much more to treat if neglected (dental carries is a good example), and requiring poor people to cough up copays for the pharmaceutical industry to take a dollar bath in are both bad, bad ideas. I don't care how much money Republicans want to "save."

And why do the Republicans led by Tom "Bug Man" DeLay (I know, he is theoretically not the big man any more; any more that Al Capone wasn't the big man, ever)? Why, they want tax breaks for the rich:
Rep. Steny Hoyer...of Maryland, a leading Democrat, also said that Republicans have another motivation for pushing a new round of spending cuts....The Republican budget blueprint calls for $70 billion in tax cuts over five years, which would add about $35 billion to the U.S. debt unless more spending reductions are passed.
Yea Steny!! You've got my vote.

Oh, Merde!

Wilma Now
Most Intense Atlantic Storm


Now, George, do you believe in global warning?

Reaching the Level of Intolerence

This could easily have been drawn by an Iraqi child in Ramadi shortly before she died in a bombing by U.S. warplanes.

Iraqis: Civilians Killed in U.S. Bombing
Monday October 17, 2005 3:31 PM
By THOMAS WAGNER Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two western villages, killing an estimated 70 militants near a site where five American soldiers died in a weekend roadside blast, the military said Monday. Residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians. Sunday's violence near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi .......(emphasis added)
As a little blip on the radar screen, her life came and went. And we sit here in our well lighted, air conditioned palaces and do nothing.


We should be ashamed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Putting Sunni into the Ballot Box

From Holden we have our fearless leader saying:
I was pleased to see that the Sunnis participated in the process. The idea of deciding to go into a ballot box is a positive development.
I swear when I googled "Sunni" for images I got this picture:

So, Voila:

Least We Forget


Sometimes things just dwarf our little problems:
The latest estimate of at least 40,000 deaths in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir alone would mean more than 54,000 people were killed when the magnitude-7.6 quake hit the mountains of northern Pakistan and India on Oct. 8 -- a jump of more than 13,000 from the official toll.

This Pretty Much Sums It Up

It is probably poor taste to reprint a whole blog, but it is that important:

John Aravosis at Americablog (via Kos):
Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Normalization of Treason, the Republicans' gift to America
by John in DC - 10/16/2005 06:52:00 PM

If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:

- It's the criminalization of politics
- Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
- Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
- Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime

Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue.

The GOP has become the party of treason.

It would be one thing for a senior adviser to the president to put the nation's security at risk during a time of war. That could be explained as an aberration - a quite serious one, no doubt - but a fluke nonetheless. But when the president himself refuses to keep his own word about firing that aberration, and when the entire Republican party rallies around that fluke and tries to minimize what is usually a capital offense during wartime, something is seriously wrong with that party and its leadership.

America is ignoring the Geneva Conventions because our president feels that winning this war is so paramount. Our Congress has watered down our civil rights laws. We have jailed American citizens with no access to legal counsel. And our President even believes it is worth lying to the American people in order to wage this so-important battle. All this because we are a nation at war and nothing will be permitted to stand in the way of this life-and-death struggle.

But when a senior aide to the President of the United States endangers the life of an undercover CIA agent, her colleagues and contacts around the world - when he chooses to put at risk our entire effort to undercover weapons of mass destruction before they are used to kill millions in an American city - what response do we get from the Bush White House and the Republican Party? A defensive (offensive) shrug.

The Republican party's gift to the American people, and the Bush administration's legacy, will be the normalization of treason. They are trying to convince Americans that betraying our country during wartime for personal gain is no more serious than running a stop sign or going 60 in a 55 zone.

If a senior aide to the president had intentionally outed an American undercover agent during World War II, an agent whose work was central to our mission of defeating the Germans, that aide would very likely be put to death. While no one is yet arguing that Karl Rove be executed, it is the height of hypocrisy and hubris for the Republican party to attempt to minimize a crime that not only puts our troops at risk, but risks the lives of every American man, woman and child.

It is truly a sad day when the Republican party minimizes treason in a selfish attempt to defend a traitor. President Bush has yet to give a clear explanation as to why 2,000 Americans have given their lives in Iraq. But one thing is for sure. It wasn't to defend our right to treason.

I have nothing further to add. We are entering a dim time in our country's history. Buckle up!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Bird is the Word

From the Guardian:
GPs told: prepare for 14 million flu victims
· Deadly virus enters Europe for the first time
· We are in the dark on epidemic threat, say doctors

Anushka Asthana, Jo Revill and Helena Smith in Athens
Sunday October 16, 2005
The Observer

The bird flu crisis moved a step closer to Britain's shores yesterday as the country's most senior medical adviser demanded that all doctors draw up emergency plans to distribute 14 million doses of drugs to combat the disease.
Excuse me. Excuse me! Aren't there planes that land at JFK from Heathrow every five minutes every frigging day of the year?

Flight: British Airways flight 117 on a Boeing 747 Jet - non-stop
Depart: London Heathrow, UK (LHR) - Sat, Nov 05 at 8:20am
Arrive: New York-Kennedy, NY (JFK) - Sat, Nov 05 at 10:50am
Meals: Meal Served

Flight: British Airways flight 185 on a Boeing 777 Jet - non-stop
Depart: London Heathrow, UK (LHR) - Sat, Nov 05 at 8:40am
Arrive: Newark, NJ (EWR) - Sat, Nov 05 at 11:40am
Meals: Meal Served

Well, you get the idea.

Memo to self: Call the County Health Department tomorrow and ask them if they are stocking Tamiflu. Call the CDC and ask if the current flu vaccine offers any protection against H5N1.

Lean over and kiss...

Flaming Idiot

Click Comic to Enlarge

The Memory Hole

"I'm telling you matey, those Americans must be getting old. They can't keep something on their plate for more than ten seconds. Why Tony here should be swinging from the goal posts for that Memo."

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Little Fishey



Indictus Interruptus

We must admit that this whole Plame affair thing has taken on the aspect of high theater (One that Harold Pinter, who just won the Nobel Prize for literature, would understand). After all, it was July 2003 that the crime took place. And it was a crime, no matter what the simpering idiots of inside the Beltway say. An agent was outed. The agent had sources ("assets") providing intelligence on WMD. Those sources were compromised. This directly affected the famous GWOT. (is the Stateside War On Terror known as SWOT? and the Stateside No-War on Terror SNOT?). But 22 months after the crime, well into the third of three acts, we still don't know diddly about what went on. Little bits and pieces trickle out. Maybe tomorrow when "her fellow reporters" write about Miss Judy (she even looks like Garland) we will learn more. Don't bet on it.

We have been kept on tenter hooks and any information that we obtain at this point will be anticlimatic, I can guarantee it. What can Fitzgerald, a good Republican, do? If he indicts Rove and Libby with Cheney as a co-conspirator, we will be forced into a constitutional crisis because, as pointed out before, we are not a parlimentary democracy. We can't remove the government except every four years and we, the dumb idiots that we are, passed up the chance in 2004. Oh, that we were such a government and the will of the people could be more rapidly effected. If these indictments come down, I am not sure we can make it to 2008.

And this must be Fitzgerald's quandry. And this is why this fracas might very well come to nought. And this is why I predict that Fitzgerald may say "naughty, naughty" but won't go with the big I. It will be an interesting two weeks.

Why did this picture look familiar? Well, I think it is the neck. Note the neck on that bruiser to the right. This is the same neck I saw in Teheran in the basement of a bank where they had the peacock throne on display. O.K. it was 1971 and the Shah was still around. But the neck was on all of the gang of opperatives making sure no one picked any sapphires or rubies off the throne. They had "Shah" stamped all over them. They had the universal mark of the tyrant's men: the neck.

Oh, I almost forgot. What about the Downing Street Memo? Could all this be a mighty distraction and, after the hand slapping is over we will be asked to
"Move along, folks, just move along. Nothing to see here."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Zawahiri Letter to Zarqawi

Much has been made of a letter that is allegedly from Zawahiri (Bin Laden's #2) to Zarqawi, the current Al-Qada big man in Iraq. Make no mistake, this is not a good man. Juan Cole weighs in on this and, for a number of reasons, mostly textual analysis (Jaques Derrida anyone?):
My gut tells me that the letter is a forgery. Most likely it is a black psy-ops operation of the US. But it could also come from Iran, since the mistakes are those a Shiite might make when pretending to be a Sunni. Or it could come from an Iraqi Shiite group attempting to manipulate the United States. Hmmm. (emphasis added)
You know, we can't win in this War when our own side may be propagating crap like this. At some point, we won't believe anybody (not that we do much believing anymore anyway).

Absinthe makes the heart founder

So, at AMERICAblog they're going on about the sidebar ads that appear on the big boy blogs. So looking down the side I see one for Absinthe! Absinthe??? Jeebus, I thought this went out with Paul Valery, or at least John Paul (II) Sartre. Pictures of grungy French Cafes with slouchy spy type individuals (alright, I did read a lot of Alan Furst recently). You, of course, knew that Absinthe is also known under the rubric Wormwood. (Sounds like a C.S. Lewis character, or at least something out of Milton.)
Apparently, absinthe is all the rage in the jet set these days.

I can't imagine why.
Absinthe, the emerald green liqueur associated with excess, is back in business. Having been banned in many countries in the early 20th century, its newly fashionable image...

Originally formulated in Switzerland, absinthe became most popular in 19th century France. Between 1875 and 1913 French consumption of the liquor increased 15-fold. It became an icon of "la vie de bohème," and in fin-de-siècle Paris 'heure verte' (the green [cocktail] hour) was a daily event. Although never as popular in Britain, the fashion of mixed drinks with a "spot" or "kick" of absinthe was reported in London as late as 1930.

Many creative artists had their lives touched by absinthe (Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde, Picasso). The illness of Vincent van Gogh was certainly exacerbated by excessive drinking of absinthe...

Absinthism was associated with gastrointestinal problems, acute auditory and visual hallucinations, epilepsy, brain damage, and increased risk of psychiatric illness and suicide..

Acute auditory and visual hallucinations sounds familiar. Try this link that someone gave me:

Absinthe and wormwood contain thujone. This is the neurotoxic component and, you know, people like their neurotoxins, preferably neat. We even have high Science weighing in:
alpha-Thujone (the active component of absinthe): gamma-Aminobutyric acid type A receptor modulation and metabolic detoxification.

...observations establish that alpha-thujone is a modulator of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) type A receptor. First, the poisoning signs (and their alleviation by diazepam and phenobarbital) in mice are similar to those of the classical antagonist picrotoxinin.

I just don't think I'm interested. I'd rather not be terminally cool.

Apostasy perFidae?

I didn't comment on it in my rant yesterday, but it really struck me that Harriet Miers was once a Roman Catholic and is now a Protestant. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Apostasy perFide as "... the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc." Well, I guess Protestantism isn't apostasy though there were enough wars over this.
The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought between the years 1618 and 1648, principally in the Central European territory of the Holy Roman Empire, but also involving most of the major continental powers. It occurred for a number of reasons. Although it was from its outset a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the self-preservation of the Habsburg dynasty was also a central motive. (emphasis added)
In any case, it seems bizzare to me that the Catholic Bishops in the United States aren't making a bigger deal over this heresy. They certainly jumped on John Kerry and some refused to give him communion if he was at their Mass not because of heresy but because he did not condemn abortion and homosexuality. For crying out loud:
The penalty for a baptized Catholic above the age of 18 who obstinately, publicly, and voluntarily manifests his or her adherence to an objective heresy is automatic excommunication (latae sententiae) according to Can. 1364 par.1 C.I.C..
If a born again evangelical church in Texas isn't involved in heresy against the Roman Catholic Church I would like to know who is.

All this said, it does point up the craziness of bringing religion into the Corridors of Power. Our Forefathers who shaped the Constitution were much smarter than we give them credit for. They wanted a wall of separation between Church and State. That wall is crumbling.

Friday Crab and Jellyfish Blogging

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh, My!

"Beautiful, Beautiful Dark Eyes, I'll never love Blue Eyes Again."

From here:
Miers has worshipped as a Catholic and attended Episcopalian and Presbyterian services, according to Judge Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court, who has dated Miers. She has been a congregant at Valley View for some 25 years and in 1979 was baptized by full immersion, consistent with the church's beliefs. (emphasis added)
This baby is single. Wahoo! Oh Alan,
Alan, you should have waited.
Greenspan, who once dated television journalist Barbara Walters, married Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, in 1997, after a 12-year relationship. They live in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Greenspan, who suffers from back pain, is famous for doing a good deal of his most important work in the mornings, while soaking in his bathtub.
But watch out Nino "The Scallion":
Although many have noted his charms, Scalia's
outspoken advocacy has alienated and at times offended some of his colleagues. Once, after a long tirade concluding that affirmative action constituted the most evil fruit of a fundamentally bad seed, a slightly offended Sandra Day O'Connor expressed her displeasure with the comment: "But, Nino, if it weren't for affirmative action, I wouldn't be here."(emphasis added)
Affirmative action? Affirmative action? Jezus, I never thought Bush would sink so low.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Plan B

Everyone should have a Plan B. I always thought I would open a toy store if the ballon went up and I had enough money. Alternatively, I might sell Chocolate (the cheese factory was a great idea but too expensive My Dutch in-law says I'm crazy to even think about this. She's always right.)

I have no doubt that Fitztgerald is going to issue indictments in the next week or so. The leading candidates are Karl "The Brain" Rove and I. "Scooter" Libby. Could this be plan B?

Children and Natural Disasters

There is a very discouraging article on the op-ed page of the WaPo this AM. The byline is a woman who lives in Baton Rouge, LA. The gist of the article is how the national and international media spotlight has turned away from the victims of Katrina and Rita (the latter was also pretty devastating to southern Louisiana) and how the victims of those natural disasters are still suffering, including children. Of course the media is now replete with horror stories from Pakistan of children still trapped in the rubble from the gigantic earthquake there.

What are we to make of the response to these natural disasters in their impact on children? We have been led over the years to believe that our country actually cared about children. On a personal level, I am sure that is true. On an institutional level, we are coming up pretty short.

One of the most discouraging things that is described in the WaPo article is the lack of jobs for the people in Louisiana. This was most forcefully brought home when we learned that the mayor of New Orleans had to lay off 500 city workers. Excuse me, but these are the people that are going to clean the city up. Where has all the money gone? Don't people realize that the only way to help children is to get society back on an even keel? Are we doing that? No, of course not. We are close to Iraqization of Louisiana.

Its pretty obvious. The money has gone into that same black hole that the money for Iraq goes. As a taxpayer I would like to know why my money isn't being used to hire local residents to do the clean up. What the hell is going on? And if Haliburton
gets a share, I think we should indict Big Time. We need to say "stop" to cronyism. Supreme Court Justices are one thing; basic humanity is another. Instead of building "bunker busters," we should be hiring the people of Louisiana to build levees.

And that goes for Pakistan, too.

Can't Bush do anything right?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Medicine and Stuff

Pundits have told us for a a long time that medical knowledge doubles every ten years. For me, that's eight times the knowledge since I left medical school. Medical school was a pain in the wazoo for one simple reason, the amount of Stuff that one had to memorize. There is no doubt that most of the Stuff we learned there we never used again. It is unclear why someone who is destined to work on the brain needs to know the intricacies of the big toe. However, medical education will much more than a bulldozer to move it along into the 21st century.

Have I been able to keep up? Of course not, not even in a narrow little field. And what is the effect of all this new Stuff? It means that most doctors, no matter what their specialty, can't even know everything about that small little corner of the universe. For those of us who are in the more general practices, it is a disaster. For just as things start getting complicated, and we swallow our pride and reach out for help, our ability to access expert advice (consultations) has become a labyrinthian exercise in frustration.

It is also personally frustrating for physicians not to know what is going on with their patients. Many medical problems are either over simple, or over complex. The over simple we can do in our sleep and the over complex drives us up a wall. Rarely do we get those cases that we can sink our teeth into and come out the other end with a good resolution. All too frequently we have dissatisfied patients and terminally disgruntled doctors.

Of course the Stuff that is useful doesn't increase as rapidly as overall knowledge. The human genome, as an example of escalating knowledge, has little practical application. We are far, far away from useful interventions in human genetics in spite of the hoopla from the high tech medical centers. 99.9999999% of us are going to live and die with the genes we were born with.

Most doctors blame the problems we are having in medicine on the structure, the awful mix of market capitalism and greed that pervades the health care industry. There is that. But I don't think we have spent enough time pondering the complexity of our profession. I would wager that it is just not possible for a man or woman to truly be what the public thinks we are. And when we fail, as is inevitable in the human endeavor, we get slammed up against the wall both financially and mentally.

It is no wonder that the number of applicants to medical school dropped overall in the last ten years (although they may have increased a little last year). Most of my colleagues would not recommend that their children become doctors. That's pretty damning.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the human brain has vast, untapped resources that will be able to subsume all this Stuff and medicine will enter a new golden age.

Maybe pigs will fly.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Our Dear Gov


Man Bites Robot

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. This is from the IndyStar but I read the same article in the WaPo:
Stanford robot wins $2 million race
By Alicia Chang
Associated Press
PRIMM, Nev. -- A driverless Volkswagen won a race across the rugged Nevada desert Sunday, beating four other robot-guided vehicles that completed a Pentagon-sponsored contest aimed at making warfare safer for humans. (emphasis added)
There is only one conclusion:

Reporter Chang Wins Nobel Prize for Irony!

Saturday, October 08, 2005


My condolences to those affected by the earthquake. Kashmir is not an area that has been at peace recently, and it sounds like this is pretty awful. The only hope is that in the rescue efforts, it will bring India and Pakistan closer together.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not Vaulting the Polls

It is clear that W. is in trouble. Billmon has a good commentary on the latest CBS poll so I'll just post the following data:

Right Track

Wrong Track

These numbers are self explanatory. They indicate a growing and deep-set dissatisfaction with the current Administration which still has over three years to run.

I do not think that any other major government is so locked into its leadership as is ours. Many parlimentary democracies can depose an administration with a vote of no confidence in the parliment, or, at least, force new elections. We can't do that. Until now, it seemed like a good thing. Americans were viewed as uneducated and, as such, potentially irresponsible. If we had a different system, we would be changing governments every ten minutes.

The down side is that when we have a truly unpopular government with no relief possible for three years, we are in deep trouble. Even a takeover of Congress by the Democrats would not yield a dramatic change because both the Executive and, in particular, the Supreme Court would still be in the hands of the Bush radicals.

This has all the makings of a serious Constitutional crisis. I just can't see, and here I am echoing Billmon, how America can go on for three years like this. Of course, it won't. But what will happen is anyone's guess.

Friday Crab Blogging

Not Blue Crabs;

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Up Close and Personal with his Creator

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003. Nabil Shaath says:
"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq ..." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
George, I hate to tell you, but you fucked up...

Who Said What When

Who said :
In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves…They seek to end dissent in every form and to control every aspect of life and to rule the soul itself.
Remind me, who arrested Cindy Sheehan?

Bad Boys!

Clinton Official

Violates Parole

........former national security adviser Sandy Berger was accused of reckless driving in Virginia by police who said he was traveling 88 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone.

In other news on the front page of the Wasthington Post:

The possibility that Leandro Aragoncillo was passing the material while stationed as a U.S. Marine security official at the White House marks a dramatic expansion of the case against him...

A Pentagon analyst charged with providing classified information to an Israeli official and members of a pro-Israeli lobbying group planned to
plead guilty to one or more charges, a court said Thursday...

The CIA will not seek to hold any current or former agency officials, including ex-director George J. Tenet, responsible for failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA Director Porter J. Goss said yesterday, despite a recommendation by the agency's inspector general that he convene an "accountability board" to judge their performance.

You see, its o.k. to spy, and to pass information to foreign countries and to leave our own country open to terrorist attacks but, for God's sake,


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Intelligent Design? Someone Out There is Watching You

Here's looking at ya!

The concept "Intelligent Design" is a mental gymnastic undergone by otherwise intelligent people when they are confronted with the absolute minisculity of human existence. If you look through the Hubble Telescope, out beyond where anyone has ever looked before, you see that the universe does not stop. Ever. While the age of the Universe is said to be about 13 billion years , we have still not seen to the end, nor will we ever. Ever. [I don't understand this but it has something to do with the fact that the Universe is like a blueberry muffin in the oven with the galaxies being the blueberries. The muffin keeps expanding so there is greater and greater distance between the galaxies (???) and, since the speed of light is constant, the light from the "end of the Universe" will never reach us. Or something like that.]

To those of us who were born and raised in a Christian environment, such information can pose a severe challenge to the lore that was drilled into us by our parents, teachers and preachers. Not so very long ago, and reinforced by the supposed mastery of Nature (demonstrated by the development of the Atomic Bomb), humans were riding quite high in the world's saddle. We seemed to be in control of everything, always a good feeling. This fit into the idea that Christians were recipients of the Word direct from old White Beard himself, via this enigmatic figure called Christ. The stars were in their heavens and all was right with the World. So said Pip, sorta.

There is also the Jewish concept of being the "Chosen People." Everyone wants to be the "Chosen." It makes for an inventive theology.

But human knowledge never stands still. It is always mutating just like the genes that make us up. And once something is known, the innocence of not knowing can never be regained. It is becoming harder and harder to accept statements from the Jewish Bible written 4,000 years ago. It is becoming almost impossible to conceive of Man as being in charge of the Universe, as is suggested in Genesis. It is becoming more and more obvious that we are but Pips in a tiny pod of a tiny plant in a tiny forest on a tiny world in an infinite universe (sorry, Pip).

Intelligent Design is saying that there is someone, not a human but a sorta-human-god, out there who designed It All. ID at this points does a lateral to Religion. Still on the same ball field, though. Not any religion, but Christian Religion. This claims that we have a personal relationship, sorta, to this sorta-human in an attempt to salvage a world that we should have abandoned many years ago. It is essential for the ID world that human existence has "meaning." The only way to have "meaning" is to be personally related to some kind of supreme being. In this way we are NOT tiny pips in an infinite universe, we are still the sorta boss.

This alleged special relationship to the gods has been around since the advent of humankind and accounts for 99.9% of the bloodshed between humans including our current misadventure in Iraq (don't forget that Georgie Boy "talks" to God.)

The cleverness is that ID says "we aren't related to religion. We are scientists." But the reality is inherent in their contentions. If you accept Intelligent Design, you have to accept this personal sorta-human god with all his accoutrements (notice I didn't say her accoutrements.)

Did you ever wonder why Christians but not Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims came up with this weird concept?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Big Hair and Dark Eyes

And where were you on August 6, 2001?

Musical Chairs

This just in:
Washington, AP. In an ongoing series of surprises, Dick "Big Time" Cheney and his chief of staff, I. "Scooter" Libby, accepted a lateral offer by the Likuds East to fill vacancies that, as Coach "Sherry" Sharon indicated "occasionally come up." Big Time and Scooter also felt that potential time out sanctions by "Fitzy" Fitztgerald might interfere with their play time and that the stadium in Tel Aviv offered more opportunites. Big bonuses were rumored when they signed.
So, what's Coach "Air Guitar" Bush going to do? We here at Central have it from a firm source, speaking sotto voce so as not to be indicted, that Air Head will fill his roster with a pick from the Supremes, Far Right Division. The likely candidate for the VP slot will be "Scallions" Scalia, who has been itching to get across town for some time ever since Haliburton was providing free booze and sex (Jeff Gannon in the stable) for likely players.

Even with his first round draft pick of "Dark Eyes" Miers right out of his own paddock
to fill an empty spot when "Sand Lot" O'Conner retired, this still leaves another place on the Supremes. I have it from my previously mentioned impeccable source that Tom "Bug Man" Delay has agreed to step up to the plate to fill Scallion's shoes. Bug Man, who is also know as the Exterminator, thought he could "mix it up" with the Big Boys on this team. He didn't think there would be any conflict of interest when his case came before Them. "I'm pure as the driven snow," he said in an interview.

Let me recapitulate, sort of a "whose on first." Bug Man to Scallion (with an assist by Dark Eyes) for Big Time and Scooter scores.

Oh, I almost forgot. "Not-Jenna" NotJenna and her sister, "Not-Not Jenna" Jenna just got picked to the Baghdad Baddies. Man, their luck is awesome.

Whew! Air Head keeps mine spinning.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Man Bites Dog (sort of)

I couldn't resist this cartoon by Waechter from HaraldSiepermann's.