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Political Books






Religious Books -- Not Fundamentalist!

The Fundamentalist Xtians should not be allowed to hijack the language of Christianity. They are at least as much heretics to Christianity as the Arians and Gnostics of early Christian days.




Biblical inerrancy is not possible.


The books both above and below show the limitations of language and the impossibility of Biblical Inerrancy.

How can language be misused? Using General Semantics, this book was Written to explain Nazi propaganda and still used as a textbook


Books - Popular Math, Post Enlightenment & Science

This book explains why the above books on Christian Fundamentalism are politically important in America today.


Modern Society measures risk & predicts possible futures. The book below is a higly readable history of insurance, statistics and modern financial instruments.

Compare this to religion, in which it is presumed that the perfect society was known in the past and all that is necessary to do is to return to that perfect society.


Fascinating, highly readable and fun book on modern mathematics and its limitations. If you are interested in ideas, this is your book!

This is a collection of Hofstader's Scientific American articles. Again, a very fascinationg and highly readable book, requiring no mathematical background. (Buy it used - it is one of the books that will keep disappearing.)

Older, very fascinating book on mathematical ideas. Did you know there are three kinds of infinity?


Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Studies: Immigrants work productively, not steal
The LA Times reports the results of studies of the effects of immigrants on American society.
Two new studies by California researchers counter negative perceptions that immigrants increase crime and job competition, showing that they are incarcerated at far lower rates than native-born citizens and actually help boost their wages.

A study released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants who arrived in the state between 1990 and 2004 increased wages for native workers by an average 4%.

UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school dropouts to college graduates, because immigrants generally perform complementary rather than competitive work.

As immigrants filled lower-skilled jobs, they pushed natives up the economic ladder into employment that required more English or know-how of the U.S. system, he said.

"The big message is that there is no big loss from immigration," Peri said. "There are gains, and these are enjoyed by a much bigger share of the population than is commonly believed."
This conclusion rather surprised me, but then I realized it shouldn't. The results simply document the long-made claim that the immigrants are taking jobs Americans won't take. But it also shows that having those jobs filled allows non-immigrants to take higher pay and more productive jobs.
Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined. Among men of Mexican descent, for instance, 0.7% of those foreign-born were incarcerated compared to 5.9% of native-born, according to the study, co-written by UC Irvine sociologist Ruben G. Rumbaut.
This one is not quite so intuitive to me. But I would guess that the dynamic is that any worker who is willing to do what it takes to get to the U.S. to work, legally or illegally, is coming here because he or she wants to work. They could have stayed home and stolen, but they didn't. They really just want a more fair return for their effort and skills.

The next quote tells you where the statistics came from.
Both studies are based on U.S. census data, which includes both legal and illegal immigrants. They were released just days before the U.S. Congress is to restart debate on major immigration reform legislation and as numerous states, including Texas, consider harsh measures against illegal migrants.

The authors say their work shows that immigrants clearly benefit U.S. residents and are being unfairly scapegoated for problems they do not cause.
That conclusion which I highlighted above is the key. Immigrants benefit U.S. residents.

The article goes on to get some opposing responses from right-wingers, but the responses are really quite weak.

[H/T to Kevin Drum who, since he lives in Orange County, CA gets to read the LA Times.]

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posted by Richard @ 4:28 PM   0 comments
Vignette from "The Looming Tower"
Robin Varghese posted a small story about Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (the second in command of al Qaeda) from his time in Sudan. It is so short I can't post just a part of it to tease you into reading it, but it is so graphic that you will not forget it after you have. Please go to 3QuarksDaily and read it.

If the book interests you, here is a link to it at Barnes & Noble.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

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posted by Richard @ 3:58 PM   0 comments
Josh Bevins presents an interesting view of future globalization.
Josh Bevins over at TPM Cafe presents an interesting view of Globalization. It is an overview of the central problems of the U.S. Economy in a world of globalized trade and his suggestions of what has to be done to bring the American economy back into balance with the global economy. He presents it as an attempt to lay out the ultimate goals that people discussing globalization would probably agree on.

I hadn't realized that the way the Chinese have pegged the value of their currency to the value of the dollar keeps the dollar from falling to its proper international value. But it is reasonable when it is pointed out. That makes our currency automatically overvalued, so that our production industries which export are priced out of the global markets.

That has left the American overdepending on interest-rate sensitive industries (like Construction) to keep producing. When the dollar does finally reach the proper (lower) level, then Construction will have too much labor and industrial production will not have enough. The shift back will be difficult for both industries, but especially for the labor that must be retrained - if we bother to retrain older laid off workers.

There is a lot there. Go read it.

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posted by Richard @ 3:28 PM   0 comments
Four to five flag officers will resign if Iran is attacked.
The Times Online offered this excellent story on how the U.S. military is expected to react if Cheney/Bush gives the order to attack Iran.

It should be read along with Seymour Hersh's excellent article in the New Yorker entitled The Redirection. This tells what the Cheney/Bush administration seems to be trying to do.

Both are good sources. Read and make up your own mind.

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posted by Richard @ 4:23 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
How close are we to War with Iran now?
The most recent hoax from Cheney and the Bush administration is the effort to blame the Iranians for the Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) weapons that are being used against the American troops in Iraq.

From the LA Times we get this report:
PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq.
Since these are such “high tech” weapons, the Bush/Cheney administration expects us to make the leap to the conclusion that this is planned and directed by the leaders in Iran.

And if we don't jump to that conclusion ourselves, Cheney is feeding that conclusion to the media. This is from the briefing that the Army anonymously gave the press early in February as reported by the NY Times:
In a news briefing held under strict security, the officials spread out on two small tables an E.F.P. and an array of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades with visible serial numbers that the officials said link the weapons directly to Iranian arms factories. The officials also asserted, without providing direct evidence, that Iranian leaders had authorized smuggling those weapons into Iraq for use against the Americans. The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments.
But here is the problem. Anyone can build an EFP. Here is my description of how to build your own EFP at Politics Plus Stuff. It’s not difficult.

It uses PVC pipe with a cap on one end, plastic explosives (Semtex or C4) and a circular piece of brass, copper or aluminum formed into a bowl set into the "hot" end, the side that would be opposite the painted on note "Point other side towards enemy." [This is written on the backside of every Claymore anti-personnel weapon. Like the Claymore, you plant an EFP and try not to have it pointed back at you when you set it off.]

The only part of the EFP that would be hard to get would be the plastic explosives, and that's because we are not in a war zone here.

[Addendum: Kevin Drum has a post that similarly destroys the myth that the EFPs had to come from Iran, but he uses different sources.]

Then there are the two carrier groups that Cheney has sent into the Persian Gulf. (See also Map of Persian Gulf.) The U.S. Navy has never put a carrier group into the Persian Gulf before because it is too small to maneuver in, and because the Iranians are known to have hundreds of small, fast Patrol boats. Any attempt to take out ships from the carrier groups would find what we in the Artillery used to call "A target-rich Environment."

Those carrier groups are completely vulnerable. Then can send aircraft into Iran, but they will also take high casualties if the Iranians attack (or counter-attack.) Only an idiot would send those carrier groups into the Persian Gulf if the Iranians were considered aggressive. Unless, of course, those carrier groups are there to provide a casus Belli.

Think the Congress would pass a draft law if suddenly the Iranians (or someone) were to sink a carrier and twenty to thirty percent of the carrier groups overnight?

Did the U.S. attack Spain when the Battleship Maine blew up in Havana harbor and the Yellow Press screamed "War?" [Any doubt that FOX is that kind of Yellow Press?]

Do you think that Cheney might have carefully ignored the actions of al Qaeda before they attacked on 9/11? That he might have sort of sat back and let them hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in order to get his war against Iraq off the ground? No sane person would have done that, but we now know that Cheney (and Rumsfeld) have directed the Intelligence and Special Operations functions rather Bush from the beginning of this administration.

The next thing is to ask if anyone in America is crazy enough to start another war, this time with Iran? Well, Dick Cheney clearly has the power, and he did exactly that when he forced the war in Iraq. I have read that a number of Pentagon Generals consider Cheney completely crazy. From his recently reported interviews that is also my impression.

But now his domestic enemies are beginning to close in on him. Patrick Fitzgerald blamed him for the leak of Valerie Plame's name and occupation as a CIA agent. It has been established in the Libby trial that the reason for the leak was because Amb. Wilson's OpEd badly threatened exposure of Cheney's scheme to attack and occupy Iraq. In addition, the Democrats have taken control of Congress and have begun making (a few weak) noises about investigative hearings. The media is slipping up and beginning to pay attention to stories such as the recent one from Sy Hersh in the New Yorker.

So with his domestic enemies closing in, do you think that Cheney will just quietly fold up and take the advice of the Generals NOT to attack Iran? Andrew Sullivan. doesn’t think so, and neither do I. From Sullivan:
If Cheney decides to bomb Iran without Congressional approval, then we're not just headed for a massive increase in violence in the Middle East and the U.S., we're also facing a constitutional crisis and a military revolt. Sane hands would never begin to countenance such a gambit. But Cheney's going down. And people who know they're doomed can do crazy things.
So there it is. That's where we are today. Our only real protection from the Cheney idiocy is that the Pentagon Generals won't go along. Unfortunately, in spite of stories that a number of Generals will resign if directed to attack Iran, the Air Force Generals have been reported to be completely ready to start bombing.

This situation is beginning to feel to me a lot like the October Missile Crisis of the early 60’s, but at least then I felt like our President and Vice President were on our side.

Let me wish you good evening. I hope you sleep well.

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posted by Richard @ 6:03 PM   0 comments
Remember those EFP's that could only come from Iran?
For about two weeks the Bush administration has been pushing the media to report that the explosively formed penetrators (EFP's) that were so high tech that only Iran could be supplying them to the insurgents. Forget that the technology is over 30 years old and is known by every major army in the world that might face tanks. This is supposedly so high-tech that no nation in the Middle East except Iran could produce them. Right?

Well, Paul Kiel at TPM Cafe provides this news:
"A raid in southern Iraq on Saturday seems to have complicated the case. There, The Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.), troops "uncovered a makeshift factory used to construct advanced roadside bombs that the U.S. had thought were made only in Iran." The main feature of the find were several copper liners that are the main component of EFPs. But, The New York Times reports, "while the find gave experts much more information on the makings of the E.F.P.’s, which the American military has repeatedly argued must originate in Iran, the cache also included items that appeared to cloud the issue."

Among those cloudy items were "cardboard boxes of the gray plastic PVC tubes used to make the canisters. The boxes appeared to contain shipments of tubes directly from factories in the Middle East, none of them in Iran."

Possibly, the Times muses, "the parts were purchased on the open market" and then "the liners were then manufactured to the right size to cap the fittings."

But where were the liners made? The Army captain who led the raid doesn't know."

OK. So the casing is PVC pipe. That's the same stuff that is used in waste water drains from every house built in the U.S. in the last thirty or more years. The pipe and the end caps to seal off the rear can be purchased in Home Depot, Lowes or any decently supplied hardware store in the U.S. or its equivalent anywhere in the world.

The explosive can be Viet Nam era C4. It's easily (and safely) placed inside the PVC pipe and shaped by hand. It's about like Playdough. Just don't forget to drill a hole in the cap on the PVC pipe and place the igniter at the bottom before placing the explosive in on top of it, with the wire leading out through the hole in the cap on the pipe.

The copper or aluminum top on the EFP can be machined to fit the pipe and formed into a bowl shape exactly like the metal of an automobile fender is shaped. Even the famed Trabant which was built for over 40 years in the USSR and east European Communist countries could do that machine work with little difficulty. India's automotive industry could easily do it. Making the EFP's is really that simple.

Yet somehow the Bush/Cheney administration is using the existence of these EFP's as proving that (Shiite) Iran is building them, supplying them to the (Sunni) insurgents so that they can be used against the American armored Humvees. Oh, and since the Iranians are supposed to be doing this, supposedly this showed that the top leaders of Iran were responsible.

The New York Times published the following information on February 11, 2007:
In a news briefing held under strict security, the officials spread out on two small tables an E.F.P. and an array of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades with visible serial numbers that the officials said link the weapons directly to Iranian arms factories. The officials also asserted, without providing direct evidence, that Iranian leaders had authorized smuggling those weapons into Iraq for use against the Americans. The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments.

That inference, and the anonymity of the officials who made it, seemed likely to generate skepticism among those suspicious that the Bush administration is trying to find a scapegoat for its problems in Iraq, and perhaps even trying to lay the groundwork for war with Iran.
For anyone who has followed the "Scooter" Libby trial, this is obviously an attempt by the administration to feed the Press vague and unsubstantiated assertions that Iran is responsible for the failures of the Cheney/Bush administration. They have to find someone else to blame for the failures in Iraq since it obviously can't be the brilliant idea of attacking the nation of Iraq so that by some conservative "magic" the whole Middle East will become more America-friendly, quit hijacking airplanes and bulding nuclear weapons, and perhaps even give us their oil.

The problem seems to be that even though Dick Cheney and his cabal of true-believers know how to solve all the foreign policy problems America has - and the solution is to bomb our enemies into a state of fear so that they have to be our friends.

Somehow Cheney et. al. have found that most other people do not see the enlightened wisdom they are peddling, they spread lies and half-truths so that the nay-sayers will become so afraid that they will agree to the use of their sons and daughters as cannon-fodder in the armies that Cheney wants to keep on deploying.

These stories of EFP's from Iran and the related fantasies that the top leaders of Iran are responsible for them are just more Cheney-lies designed to frighten Americans into joining Cheney and his crew in their fool's paradise Hell.


See prior posts on this subject.

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posted by Richard @ 12:38 PM   1 comments
Monday, February 26, 2007
Bush's next War speech.
This is the core of the speech Bush is going to give sometime this Spring or Summer to justify the attack on Iran. From Bush's Future Iran War Speech by Michael T. Klare.
1. "Because Iran is aiding and abetting our enemies in Iraq, we are justified in attacking Iran as a matter of self-defense.

2. "Iran is seeking nuclear weapons in order to dominate the Middle East to the detriment of our friends in the region -- a goal that it simply cannot be allowed to achieve.

3. "After years of describing Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda as the greatest threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East, he now introduced a new menace: the resurgent Shia branch of Islam led by Iran."
I used to think that no one could be this idiotic. Now I have watched Cheney/Bush at work for six years, and I no longer feel that merely being an absolutely stupid move is no bar to this administration. When attacking Iraq has been nothing but a disaster, these people think that they can solve the myriad problems they have added to the ones that were already there in the Middle East and Iraq by attacking Iran.

Once again, the social and economic problems that exist in the Middle East appear to the NeoCons and the Bush/Cheney people as problems with nations. Yet Iraq was an artificial nation held together only by a viscious dictatorship that buried all the sectarian differences. Remove the dictator Saddam and all the rest of the problems are unleashed.

But somehow, an attack on Iran will redound to the benefit of the U.S.? Has anyone ever pointed out to Cheney/Bush that the USSR was highly unstable before WW II, but that the Germans unified all the Soviets by attacking the USSR? We did the same thing by attacking Iraq, and that, together with the massive sectarian differences in that nation, is the basic source of the problems we have unleashed by attacking Iraq?

What will make the attacks on Iran any different? We will unify both the Iranians and all the Muslims against us, make the occupation in Iraq even worse, and finish the destruction of our own military forces.

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posted by Richard @ 2:30 PM   0 comments
One juror dismissed, Jury deliberation continues with 11 jurors.
The Libby trial jury returned this morning, and one juror (the retired Art Curator, 70ish woman who did not wear the red t-shirt on Valentines day) was dismissed. Judge Walton did not seat an alternate, so the jury will continue deliberations with 11 jurors. Since Wells did not request a mistrial, this is probably not grounds for Appeal. Firedoglake has a good discussion of the possible implications of this action.

CNN has a listing of the twelve jurors with a thumbnail description of each. This is a highly educated group! This is the list:

Age: 30s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Comptroller
Age: 30s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Certified public accountant
Age: 40s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Accounting administrator
Age: 30s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Hotel convention booker
Age: 50s
Gender: Male
Occupation: Former newspaper reporter
Age: 50s
Gender: Male
Occupation: Web architect for a federal contractor
Age: 50s
Gender: Male
Occupation: Retired math teacher
Age: 40s
Gender: Male
Occupation: Economist
Age: 50s
Gender: Female
Occupation: No job listed at present (Two Masters degrees.)
Age: 60s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission
Age: 70s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Retired art curator (Dismissed today)
Age: 50s
Gender: Female
Occupation: Retired postal worker


Addendum Feb 26, 2007 12:11 PM CDT
I just located this resource. “The CIA Leak/PlameGate Resource Center.”.This links to a whole lot of articles, offered in date order.

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posted by Richard @ 11:14 AM   0 comments
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Lieberman can't flip the Senate
Most of us, remembering when Sen. Jacobs switched from the Republicans to Independent in 2001, it switched control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat. So we have been thinking that if Joe Lieberman got mad at the Democrats and switched to caucus with the Republicans, then the same thing would happen and the Senate would switch from Democrat to Republican control. Only - the rules aren't the same this time. From the Political Insider:
If Lieberman were to caucus with the Republicans, they would still not take full control of the Senate, despite Vice President Dick Cheney's ability to break 50-50 ties. This is because of a little-known Senate organizing resolution, passed in January, which gives Democrats control of the Senate and committee chairmanships until the beginning of the 111th Congress.

What's the difference between now and 2001? A small but important distinction. When the 107th Congress was convened on January 3, 2001, Al Gore was still the Vice President and would be for another two-and-a-half weeks. Therefore, because of the Senate's 50-50 tie, Democrats had nominal control of the chamber when the organizing resolution came to a vote. With Dick Cheney soon to come in, however, Democrats allowed Republicans to control the Senate in return for a provision on the organizing resolution that allowed for a reorganization of the chamber if any member should switch parties, which Jeffords did five months later. There was no such clause in the current Senate's organizing resolution.
So while the despicable Joe can cause some problems, he can't give the Senate to the Republicans.

By himself.


Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings goes on the describe the whole thing about "Senate Organizing Resolutions."

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posted by Richard @ 9:11 PM   0 comments
America is becoming a Right-wing Dictatorship under Cheney
Today the Times of London Online has a story that reports that a number of senior U.S. Generals will resign if given the order to attack Iran. Seen it anywhere in the U.S. newspapers? I sure haven't. Cheney doesn't want the U.S. to read that - so we can't. Not in an American source.

Then we get from the Democratic Party website a discussion of an OpEd that two individuals who previously signed an agreement that their published writings had to be cleared being told that there was no classified materiel in the OpEd they wanted published in the NY Times, but the Bush administration considered several parts of it put the Bush Administration in a bad light and demanded that those items be redacted.

This is censorship for political purposes, not for national security purposes.

Do you think that when the Republicans fully turn America into a Banana Republic Dictatorship they will begin to grow bananas and give jobs picking them to their supporters and Republican militia members?


See also:

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posted by Richard @ 5:08 PM   0 comments
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Could we win in Iraq? Ask Riverbend.
This is a post from Riverbend of Baghdad Burning, the well known Iraqi blogger:
[A]s the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
Someone needs to tell Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. WE HAVE LOST IN IRAQ!

We lost when we attacked in the first place. There was no chance of "winning." Ever. Iraq has been a fool's errand, carried out by blind ideological fools.

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posted by Richard @ 12:30 AM   0 comments
Friday, February 23, 2007
The New Republic sold, going biweekly.
From The Politico:
The Canadian media giant CanWest has taken a majority stake in the 92-year-old New Republic, and plans to relaunch the weekly as a thicker, glossier – and half as frequent – magazine with a more robust Web site.

The new ownership and redesign completes a period of change at the magazine, which shifted markedly to the political left under its new editor, Franklin Foer, and has sought to shake off its association with the Bush administration’s pursuit of the Iraq war. CanWest, which publishes a dozen Canadian daily newspapers and owns other media properties around the world, is controlled by the family of CEO Leonard Asper.

"I'm hoping the new magazine will look and feel a lot more like a magazine," Foer said, adding that its goal is "to be the New Yorker of politics and to exude that sense of quality in literary terms, and also in reported terms."

While the magazine would carry longer reported pieces and essays, the Web site will be enhanced with, among other things, videos of writers and editors talking about politics, Foer said. He said the sum of content produced for the magazine and the Web site wouldn't change.

"'Newsmagazine' is an oxymoron today – if it isn't hourly it isn't news," said the New Republic's new interim publisher, Canadian Greg MacNeil. "If it isn't on the Web or on CNN, it isn't news. Trying to be current in a magazine is not possible."
I hope it works. I gave up on TNR about three years ago.

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posted by Richard @ 11:55 PM   0 comments
Slow day, waiting on the jury.
Nothing happened in the Libby Trial. The jury deliberated all day, and now has gone home for the weekend.

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posted by Richard @ 8:07 PM   0 comments
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Chimpanzees make weapons. Fascinating.
Humans are not the only weapons-makers on Earth. Chimpanzees in Senegal do it too. Oh, and apparently it is female Chimpanzees who are the more innovative ones. Go read this at Obsidian Wings.

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posted by Richard @ 7:29 PM   0 comments
Seen any proof Bush wants out of Iraq? I haven't.
Or perhaps Bob Novak overestimates the power of his column to cause a Republican administration to do what he considers is important for Republicans to do.

In any case, DavidNYC at dKos has five quotes from the Evans-Novak Political Report over the period beginning Jan. 10 2007 and ending Feb 21, 2007. Go look at them (they're short) and see if you can determine why Novak keeps repeating the same message.

Think he might be feeling desperate? With a Democratic Presidency and both Houses under Democratic control, maybe he's afraid that all his sources will dry up and the Democrats won't even talk to a has-been Republican report who commited an act of Treason by publishing the name of an active CIA officer.

[H/T to Atrios.]

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posted by Richard @ 7:13 PM   0 comments
Blumenthal on the Tuesday Libby trial summations
Sidney Blumenthall summarized the Prosecution and Defense Summanries and the Proscution Rebuttal quite well. Do the Salon "Day Pass." The article is worth it.

Here is one of the best parts of Blumenthal's summary:
Speaking rapidly in order to fit all his facts into the hour allotted to him, Fitzgerald did not slow his clipped delivery as he came to the most dramatic statement of the trial. "You just think it's coincidence that Cheney was writing this?" he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. "There is a cloud over the vice president. He wrote on those columns. He had those meetings. He sent Libby off to the meeting with Judith Miller where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is there. That cloud is something that we just can't pretend isn't there."

"That cloud" was like the sudden appearance of a thunderhead over the proceedings and the administration. In no uncertain terms, in his most public statement, Fitzgerald made clear that he believed that Cheney was the one behind the crime for which he was prosecuting Libby. It was Cheney who was the boss, Cheney who gave the orders, and Cheney to whom Libby was the loyal soldier, and it is Cheney for whom Libby is covering up.

There was more: Fitzgerald on why Cooper was credible and Russert was "a devastating witness," and Libby remembering "Rove's conversation with Novak better than Novak." More: The uniqueness with which the witnesses recalled their conversations with Libby on Plame. And more: The importance of the Wilson matter to him and Cheney. Yet more: Witness after witness recalling Libby's anger, irritation and agitation. "We all know, when you're angry at someone, you remember ... He was angry about Wilson. What Wilson said is that the country got lied into war. One of the people he blamed was the defendant -- and the vice president."
So this trial is actually a preliminary bout in the need to get at Dick Cheney. Libby has lied to FBI investigators, committed perjury in front of a grand jury, and otherwise obstructed the investigation into the real source of the Plame leak. That source is Dick Cheney, and possibly (if he was aware of what was going on and had the capability to understand it) Bush.

When the trial is over Fitzgerald has stated that he will give a single statement and take no questions. If the jury is honest, Libby will be convicted, so that statement should be a doozy.

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posted by Richard @ 3:09 PM   0 comments
Guide to the Thursday (Feb 22) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. Since the testimony and arguments are over, the jury is now out. Liveblogging will be little more than an occasional note or observation until the jury returns with a verdict.

When you reach the end of each Firedoglake Libby trial post you will see a place for a credit card or an address to mail a check to. If you are reading this material, there is no money to pay for publishing it except donations or the pockets of Jane Hamsher and the bloggers, none of whom are wealthy.

Please contribute whatever you can afford.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below) and scroll down to the date you are looking for.

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posted by Richard @ 1:15 PM   0 comments
British withdrawal of Iraq troops a blow to Bush's "surge."
Dan Froomkin does a roundup of media reaction to the Bush/Cheney effort to "Spin" the British announcement of the withdrawal of troops from Southern Iraq.

There are numerous links to other journalists, but the short story is "This is a real blow to the effort of the Bush White House to push the Iraq troop surge."

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posted by Richard @ 1:05 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Guide to the Wednesday (Feb 21st) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Marcy Wheeler [Emptywheel of The Next Hurrah.] Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual live-blogged trial reports. The others are discussion.

When you reach the end of each Firedoglake Libby trial post you will see a place for a credit card or an address to mail a check to. If you are reading this material, there is no money to pay for publishing it except donations or the pockets of Jane Hamsher and the bloggers, none of whom are wealthy. And Jane is delaying the start of her chemotherapy to be in Washington D.C. for this.

Please contribute whatever you can afford.

And if you are teed off (as I am) about how the for-profit news organizations are cutting back on reporters and investigations, this is partly because the newer news media has not figured out how to pay these costs and the older Newspapers and TV are losing revenue they used to get. Go to Frontline (PBS) and check out the series called "News Wars." It explains a lot.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)This trial offers a lot of hints at the many crimes committed by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and others.

It also clearly lays out how our mainstream media has failed us. If you want an extremely clear example of the problem in our media, go read today's column by Glenn Greenwald in Salon. Newsweek's Richard Wolffe describes what a fantastic job the media is doing, and how misunderstood they are by the Bloggers. Glenn then takes his claims and shows the words published by Wolffe himself that demonstrate his lies or psychotic failure to understand the reality of his own failed work.

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posted by Richard @ 12:18 PM   0 comments
the War in Iraq is increasing the terrorist threat
Bush keeps saying that we are fighting the terrorists over in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here in America, and that if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us back and attack us in "The Homeland." [That term is still jarring to me - sounds like something Goebbels would have used.]

The trouble is, Bush never offers any statistics or facts that back up his assertions. So Mother Jones has pulled together the available facts and written this article.
Our study shows that the Iraq War has generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.

We are not making the argument that without the Iraq War, jihadist terrorism would not exist, but our study shows that the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of the Al Qaeda ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea.

In our study we focused on the following questions:

* Has jihadist terrorism gone up or down around the world since the invasion of Iraq?
* What has been the trend if terrorist incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan (the military fronts of the "war on terrorism") are excluded?
* Has terrorism explicitly directed at the United States and its allies also increased? [Snip]

Our study draws its data from the MIPT-RAND Terrorism database (available at terrorismknowledgebase.org), which is widely considered to be the best publicly available database on terrorism incidents. RAND defines a terrorist attack as an attack on a civilian entity designed to promote fear or alarm and further a particular political agenda. In our study we only included attacks that caused at least one fatality and were attributed by RAND to a known jihadist group.

Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups and the rate of fatalities in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the average fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post-Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent respectively.[Snip]

[E]ven when attacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq (the two countries that together account for 80 percent of attacks and 67 percent of deaths since the invasion of Iraq) are excluded, there has still been a significant rise in jihadist terrorism elsewhere--a 35 percent increase in the number of jihadist terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, from 27.6 to 37 a year, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities from 496 to 554 per year.[Snip]

It was the capture and killing of much of Al Qaeda’s leadership after 9/11 and the breakup of its training camp facilities in Afghanistan--not the war in Iraq--that prevented Al Qaeda from successfully launching attacks on American targets on the scale it did in the years before 9/11.

Also undermining the argument that Al Qaeda and like-minded groups are being distracted from plotting against Western targets are the dangerous, anti-American plots that have arisen since the start of the Iraq War. Jihadist terrorists have attacked key American allies since the Iraq conflict began, mounting multiple bombings in London that killed 52 in July 2005, and attacks in Madrid in 2004 that killed 191. Shehzad Tanweer, one of the London bombers, stated in his videotaped suicide "will," "What have you witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq." There have been six jihadist attacks on the home soil of the United States’ NATO allies (including Turkey) in the period after the invasion of Iraq, whereas there were none in the 18 months following 9/11; and, of course, the plan uncovered in London in August 2006 to smuggle liquid explosives onto U.S. airliners, had it succeeded, would have killed thousands.

Al Qaeda has not let the Iraq War distract it from targeting the United States and her allies. In a January 19, 2006 audiotape, Osama bin Laden himself refuted President Bush’s argument that Iraq had distracted and diverted Al Qaeda: "The reality shows that that the war against America and its allies has not remained limited to Iraq, as he claims, but rather, that Iraq has become a source and attraction and recruitment of qualified people.... As for the delay in similar [terrorist] operations in America, [the] operations are being prepared, and you will witness them, in your own land, as soon as preparations are complete."
These conclusions are the result of looking at the publicly available data. They are diametrically opposite of what Bush and Cheney have said which strongly suggests that they have been lying to try to justify the disaster they have created in Iraq and the Middle East.

Has anyone seen that TV ad for telephones in which the pitchman stands up and makes assertions about the qualities of the network he is selling, and after each one he looks back at his attorney for approval. He gets approval for everything he says until he asserts that the network protects customers from meteors, when the lawyer shakes his head "No."

Bush and Cheney should never be interviewed or allowed to give a speech without an honest expert confirming or denying each assertion. The expert needs to be shown on TV in a small window like a sign language interpreter. If they won't accept such a "Truth-teller", they should be ignored and never again given publicity for their lies.

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posted by Richard @ 10:20 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Blair pulling Brits out of Iraq.
It looks like Britain is getting their troops out of the mess in Iraq. This is from the Guardian Wednesday Feb 21.
LONDON (AP) - Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Wednesday a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported.

Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified.

The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain's forces would leave Iraq. Currently, Britain has about 7,100 soldiers there.
If the Brits pull about 3,000 troops out by the end of 2007, and we are increasing our troops numbers by 21,500, this cuts the increase back to 18,500. And we are conducting the increase by holding troops already there longer and sending new troops early, both without all the training or equipment they need, we have clearly gotten to the end of our ability to effect change militarily in Iraq.

See also Victory in Iraq is not an option.


Update: Feb 21, 1:53 PM CDT
This is from Juan Cole today:
"Tony Blair is taking 1600 troops out of Basra in the next few months and will aim to be down to only 3,000 or so (from 7,100 now) by the end of the year. Denmark is also going home.

This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Sadr-controlled Maysan province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.

Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come."
I wonder how long it will take for Gen. David Petreaus to get the idea that he is in a killing field with his troops and has no way of changing the actual situation. It looks like Tony Blair has figured that out and decided to act on it this year and next.

Without a draft, the U.S. simply does not have enough troops to pacify Iraq, no matter what strategy is applied. Bush/Cheney really want to blame the problems they are facing on the Iranian, but the Iranians are just a small side issue in Iraq. The U.S. has lost because it bit off a whole lot more than it had teeth to chew, and then did even that in a manner that can only be described as grossly incompetent.

Twenty-three more months, or a pair of impeachments, or a pair of resignations or other such removal from office of Bush and Cheney. That's probably another 2,000 dead American soldiers, 20,000 or more severely wounded soldiers, and God only knows how many Iraqis dead or wounded. For nothing more important than Bush's ego.

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posted by Richard @ 9:35 PM   0 comments
Guide to the Tuesday (Feb 20) Libby Trial Live-blog
OK. I took Presidents Day off from Libby stuff, but time to get back. Today has been the final summaries and prosecution rebuttal.

This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying
to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by
Marcy Wheeler. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load
or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below in "Labels.")

[Last link added about midnight, CDT.][Then another added Wednesday morning]When the day was over, Judge Walton predicted that tomorrow would take about an hour and a half, and then go to the jury about 9:00AM EDT.

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posted by Richard @ 6:10 PM   0 comments
Victory in Iraq is not an option
I missed this last week, and just discovered it thanks to Glenn Greenwald at his New Salon location. Here is the OpEd that Lt. Gen. Odom published in the Washington Post a week ago Sunday.
The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.

Its gloomy implications -- hedged, as intelligence agencies prefer, in rubbery language that cannot soften its impact -- put the intelligence community and the American public on the same page. The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.
The NIE is the consensus of the best intelligence that all the federal intelligence agencies have, and frankly came a full year after the American public had already reached the same conclusion.

But bubble boy Bush and crazy crackpot Cheney don't want to believe it. So instead of listening to their generals, they have replaced them with a General who agrees with them and with an Admiral to take command of Centcom.

The latter choice is especially interesting. There are only two reasons for choosing an Admiral for Centcom. Reason 1. is that they couldn't find a Four-Star General in the Army or Marine Corps who agreed with them. Reason 2. is that they plan to start an aviation-based attack on Iran soon. [The two reasons are not mutually exclusive.]

Either way, Bush/Cheney/Gates have signalled all of us that the use of reason is not their strong point. But that they have Faith in our ultimate victory as long as we don't turn and leave Iraq.

From a purely political view, I see nothing better for the Democrats in 2008. But that is frankly not worth the American and Iraqi deaths and wounded in the next 23 months.

Gen. Odom has it right. American Victory in Iraq is not an available option. The efforts to achieve it are nothing more that self-destructive and blind-headed idiocy.

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posted by Richard @ 5:05 PM   0 comments
Why are Americans so uninformed? Is it that Geraldo can't get off the Nicole Smith story?
If you have seen the truly excellent stories on how the wounded are being treated at Walter Reed Hospital and you have any heart at all, you will be sick. (Here is one and here is the other. For some odd reason, I'm sure it is just concidence, Walter Reed has just announced a program to improve the older facilities like Building #18.) I'm certain it was in the works already, and it is only coincidence that they start the day after the second of Dana Priest's articles appeared on the front page of the Washington Post.

Especially since Jonah Goldberg at "National Review's The Corner" has real doubt about the source. Dana Priest, Johan says, is unreliable because she has "an agenda." He offers no facts to back this up, but he is certain that she cannot be trusted. He suggests that FOX news put Geraldo on the case.

Glenn Greenwald tells the story of Jonah's doubt from his new digs at Salon.

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posted by Richard @ 12:41 PM   0 comments
Ethics-Schmethics. I took the damned class 8 times!
In connection with the Randy "Duke" Cunningham case, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, until recently the third highest ranking official at the CIA, has been indicted for stearing contracts to a company he had investments in. Here is an interesting part:
Foggo, who retired last year as the third-ranking CIA official, served two years as a "deputy ethics official" and sat through ethics training eight times, according to the federal grand jury indictment handed down last week in San Diego. But Foggo covered up gifts and a job offer he received from his alleged co-conspirator, the indictment asserts. And it quotes an e-mail in which he seems to suggest ethics reporting requirements are burdensome.[Snip]

The 11-count indictment, to which Foggo and Wilkes pleaded not guilty, alleges that Foggo set up meetings for Wilkes with other CIA officials and contractors to grease the skids for Wilkes' companies to receive contracts, including at least one case in which Wilkes wasn't the low bidder. The grand jury charges Foggo expected and received expensive meals and gifts from Wilkes, as well as vacations to Scotland and Hawaii.

Also in 2002, Wilkes offered Foggo a "high-level, high-paying position" with one of Wilkes' companies, where he reserved an office for Foggo in the executive suite, according to the indictment.

Foggo didn't mentioned Wilkes' gifts or job offer on two mandatory annual financial disclosure forms asking about gifts, trips and "future employment," according to the indictment. It says Foggo in an e-mail, where he attached one such completed form, wrote to the ethics officer processing the forms: "Having been the 'Ethic's Guy' in both the (Directorate of Science and Technology) and the (Directorate of Administration), I wish you the best with this annual exercise."
I mean, he submitted the damned ethics paperwork, even though it was an interference with his work. What more could a poor oppressed Republican do?

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posted by Richard @ 12:16 PM   0 comments
Scaife repents from his attacks on Bill Clinton
I'm not sure what to make of this. I've read it in a number of places yesterday and today, and I know that Richard Mellon Scaife was the clearest and most important funder of the right-wing conspiracy to get rid of Clinton. So for him to be reported to say, after six years of Bush 43, that he has learned that Clinton wasn't that bad after all is really news.

But is it just "Old News?" If we cam believe it, it is another indicator of the utter disaster that is Bush 43, and it may be an indication that the right-wingers who are going to go after Hillary Clinton will not be as well-funded, but is it really significant?

I'm not sure of its significance, but as one who has read Blinded by the Right by David Brock and the Hunting of the President by Joe Conason, both of which protray Scaife as a truly evil wealthy conservative Republican (like Joseph Coors), this is not an expected revelation. Or at least, it certainly makes one think that even the most radical conservatives consider G. W. Bush to be the worst disaster to have befallen America in our lifetimes. [Which he certainly is.]

As I say, I am not really certain what to make of it, so this article is going to be muddled. But the news is interesting.

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posted by Richard @ 11:13 AM   0 comments
How does the economy do under Democrats vs. Republicans
Kevin Drum has a fascinating blog on how the U.S. economy fares under Democratic Presidents vs. how it fares under Republican Presidents. The answer is quite clear. Go Read. And look at the graph. It answers a question I have had for years.

Consider the employment claims the Bush administration. They talk about how many jobs have been created under the Bush reign. What they don't talk about is how many additiional people have entered the work force during that time. Every new person who enters the workforce automatically creates new demand for goods and services, so any increase in the working population automatically creates new jobs. So any increase in employment that does not exceed the number of new workers entering the workforce is an automatic effect of the population increast, not of any policies about the economy.

The graphic takes this into consideration, and it will not surprise anyone that the two worst Presidents have been Hoover and Bush 43.

As I say, go look.

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posted by Richard @ 10:35 AM   0 comments
Aaaaand we return to Plame-Gate; Cheney is threatened.
Murray Waas has another of his excellent reports on the Plame leak. This time he describes the effects the Libby Trial is having on Dick Cheney. If Libby is convicted, then Fitzgerald is going to look much more closely at Dick Cheney and his role in the whole mess.

[Thanks to TPM Cafe.]

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posted by Richard @ 9:24 AM   0 comments
Monday, February 19, 2007
Where next in Iraq? Ask Pat Buchanan.
Digby points us to the recent McLaughlin Report:
Pat Buchanan said something quite bracing on the McLaughlin Report this week-end:
What this tells you John is that we are coming out of Iraq. This is the first resolution and it's non-binding, others are coming down the road. There will be no more surges into Iraq, the president has said we are not winning the war with the troops we have, we are coming out. So we had better prepare ourselves for the consequences, not of a defeat for American arms, but a defeat for American policy in Iraq, the potential loss of Iraq. And frankly John, the situation's not looking all that good in Afghanistan either, where the NATO allies are not doing their bit. So we are at a historic turning point, I think, for the United States in the middle east.

We aren't going to be leaving Iraq while George W. Bush is in the white house. But, I think he's got the rest of it right. We certainly have a policy failure in Iraq. Big time.
Politically it is as clear as the fact that the sun rises in the East that the right-wing noise machine will immediately begin the "Who lost Iraq" blame-game to try to claim that the Democrats lost the war. Initially that will be a hard sell, but conservatives do not look at real history. They look at the history they want to create for the past to avoid blaming themselves.

The way to counter this will involve deep and honest investigation of the Cheney/Bush administration and exposure of all of its failures. Iran-Contra was swept under the rug because too many politicians were afraid for their careers if it became well known, and it was clear that Reagan was senile by then anyway. Exposure of all that would have somehow "disrupted" our nation. It was "smoother" (not really better) to just walk off and ignore it. Ignoring Iran-Contra has given us the Cheney/Bush administration and the worst President ever by several orders of magnitude.

We must not let this happen again. The Iraq War must be deeply investigated. [I'd really like to see a Reconciliation Commission, similar to the one in South Africa. But that's another article.]

The next issue is going to be the problems of both "Peak Oil" and the greater competition for the remaining oil. It will cause conflicts that are likely to expand to more war.

Wars over oil will be extremely shortsighted. The energy from oil that is being used for transportation must be replaced, either sooner or later. We can spend a lot of money and lives on wars to control existing oil (with very uncertain likelihood of success), or spend a lot less money on basic research and demonstration projects to develop the required replacement energy sources as soon as possible. Not only is the latter more likely to be successful than war, it is going to have to happen sooner or later anyway!

In either case, the newly clear overriding problem for all the world is global warming. Global warming is going to require something like the Manhattan Project, but it needs to be worldwide. Like the development of the atomic bomb, the many problems caused by global warming are problems for which a massive project fueled by throwing money at them is the best possible solution. The problem of replacing oil as energy for transportation should be considered a part of that massive Global Warming Project.

It is an appropriate role for America. Since replacing oil energy for transportatin will have the side effect of making the American automotive industry competitive again it should have major positive effects on the American export balance of manufactured items. It will NOT be likely to help much in employment of industrial workers, however, since the increased productivity will continue to come from automating production.

What's this have to do with what's next in Iraq? This demonstrates the two paths available to America. We can continue to attempt the Cheney/Bush coercive military methods to force the rest of the world to do things our way, or we can gather the forces of this great productive nation to make the shortage of oil world wide into a problem so miniscule that it is irrelevant. The choice of which of the two paths we take will start with how we disengage from Iraq.

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posted by Richard @ 10:43 AM   0 comments
Are the blogs really "Vulgar?"
Amanda Marcotte uses her recent experience of being attacked by Donohue taking soundbytes out of context in her extensive blogging to accuse her of "Anti-Catholic bigotry" after she went to work for the Edwards campaign to demonstrate the elitism and fatuousness of the mainstream media as it currently dominates American politics. That elitism is used to remove discussion and analysis from modern American politics, making it nothing more than a high-stakes duel contested with money and TV ads to keep the wealthy in control of the political process.

The elitists who currently dominate the mainstream media find the blogosphere "common" or "vulgar." (David Broder is a clear example. He seems panicked by the on-line competition he faces as a pundit.) Yet here is how Amanda describes the left blogosphere:
Blogging is a real counterpoint to the thoughtless, elitist, soundbyte-driven mainstream media, where we're supposed to absorb an endless stream of soundbytes and photo ops and our participation is limited mostly to a vote every couple of years. Blogs are bringing back the 19th century debate culture, where people would attend real debates and political rallies and listen to speeches for hours at a time. The irony about the vulgar people is that the vulgar people crave analysis, debate and participation, because these things validate our intelligence and our right to be citizens. The blogs are still appealing only to a small segment of society right now, but they're still relatively new and have the potential to reach a much larger audience over time.
To answer the question I posed in the tite - no. At this time, blogs are not an example of the common people at work. That's what the mainstream media means by "vulgar". Vulgar is common, crude and not something that the "better people" participate in.

But there are no major barriers of entry to blogging. As broadband access grows cheaper and more popular, we can really hope that the blogosphere or its improved progeny takes over from the current elitist-dominated TV, cable and newspapers. There is a real hunger for better news and improved analysis as a basis for our politics. Maybe blogging by the populace can get more than 50% of American eligible voters to participate in the voting process once they find they don't have to just listen to the wealthy elites bombard them with simplistic slogans and soundbytes taken out of context so that the real meaning is totally lost in games of "gotcha." Let's get Americans back to participating in the election process.

Possibly we can prevent the tragedy of the Cheney/Bush admininstration from ever being repeated!

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posted by Richard @ 8:30 AM   0 comments
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Biden can't get past his vote on Bankruptcy
Booman points out that no significant blogger has been found to support Joe Biden in his run for President. He attributes this to Biden's vote to support the truly despicable Bankruptcy bill that the credit card companies bought a few years ago.

Booman has it right. Joe has his flaws, but he has often been the only Senator who openly stated things about the Iraq War that needed to be said. He has a number of things going for him. But he is going nowhere in his Presidential run largely because of his vote on the Bankruptcy bill.

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posted by Richard @ 1:35 PM   0 comments
Friday, February 16, 2007
Guide to the Thursday (Feb 15) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)
Deborah(?) Bonamici a Prosecution attorney.

This is all there was today. The trial will reconvene next Tuesday for closing arguments.

.

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posted by Richard @ 5:14 PM   0 comments
"Anyone can make an EFP"
Andrew Cockburn at the LA Times describes how (un)complicated the Explosively Formed Projectiles really are.
PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."

EFPs work by using explosives to compress, melt and shoot a metal projectile — formed from those disks, molded in a concave shape — in a particular direction. They are feared above all else by troops in Iraq because not only can they punch a hole through the armor of an M-1 tank, they are small and light, and thus far easier to carry and plant undetected than the traditional Iraqi improvised explosive device, which is often made from hefty artillery shells.

"You can do as much or more damage with a 5-pound EFP, which is aimed, as with a 200-pound conventional IED, where most of the energy is dissipated away from the target," the Pentagon analyst said. The U.S. has (belatedly) responded to the IED threat by "up-armoring" Humvees and other vulnerable vehicles, but EFPs can cleave through the very thickest armor "like butter," as one Iraq veteran told me.
So it appears that the skepticism about whether Iran has been supplying EFPs to the insurgents in Iraq is quite reasonable. Notice that the administration has provided no hard evidence, and when asked for evidence has been backing off the claims that the leadership of Iran is providing weapons to the insurgents.

The fact that the Iranians are Shiite and the insurgents in Iraq are predominantly Sunni and real enemies of the Iraqi Shiites has been a real stumbling block for the Bush administration's allegations. Now we get credible evidence that any reliable machinist can build one, their allegations fall to pieces.

I rather enjoy the fact that this news report supports my allegation yesterday that the EFP's can be made by relatively non-sophisticated machine shops in a variety of nations. Apparently, in fact, I was too conservative in my estimate.

Clearly once again the President's statements are not reliable enough to go to war over. Is anyone really surprised that the ignorant fool inhabiting his information-free bubble within the White House continues to parrot talking points the support the NeoCon fantasies that American is great because of its military power?

[H/T to Kevin Drum.]

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posted by Richard @ 11:16 AM   0 comments
Wonder where al Qaeda is Now? Read Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright provides a brief status report on al Qaeda over at Abu Aardvark.

I find it interesting and plausible, but don't know enough to evaluate it beyond that. I suggest reading it and then looking for confirmation/disconfirmation.

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posted by Richard @ 11:03 AM   0 comments
We are to be saved from the Jewish Pharasee teachings of Evolution!
Georgia State House Rep. Ben Bridges (R), chairman of the retirement committee in the state house has exposed the conspiracy to teach Evolution as a Jewish plot to destroy Christianity! Josh Marshall has the story.

Oh, and did I mention that the same sect of Jewish Pharasees is also selling the false notion that the Earth revolves and also that the Earth circles the Sun?
"It seems that the actual author or analyst, I guess you might say, was a fellow named Marshall Hall, the husband of Bridges campaign manager, Bonnie Hall. Then they sent it out over Bridges' signature to state legislators in Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And they didn't stop by letting the cat out of the bag on evolution. They also blew the whistle on all this hokum about the earth revolving around the Sun.

Barnes' memo pointed fellow state legislators to the information at fixedearth.com which rails against the “a mystic, anti-Christ ‘holy book’ of the Pharisee Sect of Judaism” and claims that “the earth is not rotating … nor is it going around the sun.” They've even caught on to the "centuries-old conspiracy" on the part of Jewish physicists to destroy Christianity.

Now, it was down in Texas that things started to spin out of control. Warren Chisum (R), House Appropriations Committee Chairman in the Texas state House, took the memo from his friend Bridges and used the House operations system to distribute the memo throughout the legislature. (Here's Chisum's cover letter and the Bridges' memo.)

The ADL caught wind of the Bridges memo and now Chisum says he's "willing to apologize if I've offended anyone" if anyone got their big nose bent out of shape."

These people are elected legislators who are voting on laws to apply to all of us, and they are being driven by an irrational heresy of Christianity. They seriously fear that American society in general is out to destroy their beliefs - and they are correct. Society cannot function when a sizeable number of the members adhere to this insanity.

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posted by Richard @ 8:55 AM   0 comments
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Are the EFP's actually from Iran? Or is it another Bush effort to start a new war?
Bush in yesterday's speech sounded quite sure that the Explosively Formed Projectiles which have been being used to attack U.S. forces in Iraq come from Iran. He and others attributed them to the Qud forces of the Iranian Guards. But the Intelligence people cannot be sure where they are actually from. The BBC offers the following:
...the officials who presented the evidence could not make a direct link to Iran.

"The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments," stated the New York Times.

They did make much of the detention in Irbil of five Iranians who were said to be members of the Quds force of the Iranian revolutionary Guards.

The Quds (referring to Jerusalem) force was said by the US officials to be controlled directly by the "highest levels of the Iranian government".

That last statement is significant in that the US is now making a charge against the Iranian government itself, not just against its agents.

Scepticism

Against the inference that this all comes from Iran is the concept that Iraqis themselves would be capable of copying a design and therefore do not need to get bombs from Iran.

And there have been a number of news reports over the last year expressing scepticism, even among military personnel, about the link to Iran.

The Washington Post reported last October that British troops in the south doubted the claim.

A year ago, the London Times said that British officers in Basra had stopped making any such claim, saying only that the technology matched bomb-making found elsewhere in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Syria.
I checked the internet for sources of EFP's, and found a number of American companies, as well as one Australian and one Austrian company who were selling them. I would say that any nation capable of building airplanes could also produce EFP's. That would include all NATO nations, Brazil, Argentina, and the advanced Asian nations. Then they could be sold into the black market and end up in Iraq very easily.

The technology is over 30 years old and widely known. The materials are easy to obtain. The only issue is whether machine shops could shape the explosives and their brass or aluminum cover to the required tolerances. Iraq could have done it before the American invasion, and very possibly still could.

So at this time, none of the reports I have seen excludes other nations besides Iran as a source of EFP's. Nor does any specific information publicly available directly link the ones in Iraq to Iran.

In short, this is something that would require a lot of trust in the Bush administration before we could buy their assertions. With their history of lies and misleading statements - if anyone trusts the Bush people to present honest information then they simply have been looking at the last five years.

So let's keep looking for better information, and for a better plan than attacking Iran.

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posted by Richard @ 6:17 PM   0 comments
Iraq invasion plan 'delusional'
BBC News has it right. They have reviewed the recently declassified Centcom plan for the invasion of Iraq and have found that it has very little connection to the reality on the ground in that country.
The US invasion plan for Iraq envisaged that only 5,000 US troops would remain in Iraq by December 2006, declassified Central Command documents show.

The material also shows that the US military projected a stable, pro-US and democratic Iraq by that time. [Snip]

The documents - in the form of PowerPoint slides - were prepared by
[actually for] the now-retired Gen Tommy Franks and other top commanders at the time.

The documents were presented at a briefing in August 2002 - less than a year before the US invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

They projected that the US forces would be almost completely "re-deployed" out of Iraq at the end of the "transition" phase - within 45 months of invasion.

"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans,"
[No surprise here. But it is nice to see that the plans confirm the FUBAR that actually occurred. That is, the plans were totally delusional. Should I point out that General Tommy Franks, then Centcom Commander and directly responsible for the abortion called the invasion of Iraq, got "The Medal of Freedom" from Bush for this derelictin of duty? The MoF was used to buy his silence, as it was for Bremer and Tenet. ] NSA executive director Thomas Blanton said in a statement posted on the organisation's website.

"First, they assumed that a provisional government would be in place by 'D-Day', then that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and be reliable partners, and finally that the post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere months'," Mr Blanton said.
It's not like a whole bunch of informed people didn't tell the Bush administration that the plan was unrealistic.

Can you say, Dear Reader, the term Groupthink?

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posted by Richard @ 5:12 PM   0 comments
Guide to the Wednesday (Feb 14) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Marcy Wheeler of Firedog lake (and the Next Hurrah.) Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)
Craig Schmall a CIA briefer who had briefed "Scooter" Libby. He was previously called by the prosecution and now is being called for the defense to provide testimony on a different subject.

Fuhrman An FBI Section Chief. He, with others, interviewed Addington July 12, 2004, and Furman prepared the report from which a part of the stipulated information was taken.

John Cline An attorney for the Defense. Reads some of the stipulated data given to the jury.

Jenny Mayfield Jeffress (D) read three articles from her files as part of the stipulation. Jenny Mayfield was Libby's personal assistant during leak week.

Former Inspector John Eckenrode Special Agent in FBI in charge of the investigation concerning possible unauthorized disclosure of Plame's affiliation with CIA. He spoke to Tim Russert by phone on Nov 14 and Nov 24, and wrote reports to record the information Russert provided.

Stipulation An agreement between parties to a court action that a certain fact or set of facts is (are) true or uncontested. The stipulation must be in writing unless it or they are part of the court record

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posted by Richard @ 3:22 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Guide to the Tuesday (Feb 13) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)
Jill Abramson was an editor (not the main one) to Judy Miller at the New York Times.

John Hannah Works at Office of the Vice President, currently VP's NSA. Advising VP on all matters concerning national security and foreign policy.

Jim Marcinkowski former CIA agent who has been publicly outspoken against the outing of Valerie Plame.

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posted by Richard @ 10:53 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Guide to the Monday (Feb 12) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

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posted by Richard @ 10:53 AM   0 comments
Guide to the Thursday (Feb 8) Libby trial liveblog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by Swopa.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

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posted by Richard @ 10:48 AM   0 comments
Guide to the Wednesday (Feb 7) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by Swopa.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

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posted by Richard @ 10:42 AM   0 comments
Guide to the Tuesday (Feb 6) Libby Trial Live-blog
This is an index of links to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Jane Hamsher of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by Swopa.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

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posted by Richard @ 10:37 AM   0 comments
About Me
Name: Richard

The single most important essay that I have published here is Rule of Law vs. Arbitrary Command.

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