Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MSNBC - The Empire's New Clothes

Some blogs are impossible to keep up with. Just too prolific, or too strident, or too repetitive, or all of the above. But I keep them in my Bloglines subscriptions because I do occasionally find something good there. Needlenose is one of those, and today he pointed me towards this MSNBC article, The Empire's New Clothes

A clear head and a calculator will tell you very quickly that the costs of this conflict in Iraq are on a scale far beyond whatever benefits it was supposed to bring. If Saddam had been behind 9/11, OK. But he wasn't. If he'd really posed a clear and present danger to the United States with weapons of mass destruction, then the invasion would have been justifiable. But he didn't, and it wasn't. Bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people is a laudable goal, but not one for which the administration made any worthwhile preparations—which is why the occupation has been so ugly, bloody and costly. Tabloids may amuse their readers with snapshots of Saddam in his skivvies, but it's the Bush administration's threadbare rationales for postmodern imperialism that have been exposed.
I don't know who Christopher Dickey is, but I'll be looking for more of his articles now. Just what I need, eh? More to read on the web!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Art of Science

Wow! You've got to take a look at this gallery that I found via this post on Boing Boing, A Directory of Wonderful Things

Art of Science gallery
Pinceton University asked the university's scientists and engineers to collect and submit images 'produced in the course of research or incorporating tools and concepts from science.' The resulting gallery is mind-boggling.

The whole collection is astounding. Its hard to pick on favorite, but here's one:

Another voice from Iraq

Chris Allbritton is a free lance journalist who had been covering Iraq for years. His blog, is another good example of a first-person blog that goes beyond simple reporting to provide a unique insight into life in Iraq. His latest post, Bumps in the Road is a perfect foil for the heavy delusional spinning by the administration:

I'm not sure who's winning this war, the Americans or the insurgents. But I know who is losing it: the Iraqi people. Those bumps in the road are their graves.

Kerry stands up

Nice to see on the NYT Op-ed page, in front of Bush's Iraq speech. Gives me hope that Kerry won't fade to black like Gore did. Check out The Speech the President Should Give

TONIGHT President Bush will discuss the situation in Iraq. It's long past time to get it right in Iraq. The Bush administration is courting disaster with its current course - a course with no realistic strategy for reducing the risks to our soldiers and increasing the odds for success.

Ok, so the middle of the piece was written with a shotgun. But hey, he doesn't get to make the full-length speech. And he hits his targets more often than not.
The next months are critical to Iraq's future and our security. If Mr. Bush fails to take these steps, we will stumble along, our troops at greater risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face. Our troops deserve better: they deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice.

And unfortunately, they won't be getting that any time soon.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Another answer to, "why do you read blogs?"

When you read a blog for any length of time, you get very familiar with the author's style, their voice, their point of view. Blog writing is less formal, less edited, and more immediate. With a good blog, you feel like you really connect with the author.

For some reason that's been particularly true of the blogs that I follow that cover Iraq. Riverbend, Salam Pax, My War, Dagger JAG, Kevin Sites, Juan Cole... are compelling because they are living the war and relating their personal experiences, not just reporting the news. So when I read that Phil Carter at had been called up it hit my almost as if a nephew was being (re)deployed.

INTEL DUMP - Heading downrange

On Thursday, I received orders from the Army mobilizing me for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These orders followed an earlier set, cut on Tuesday, which transferred me from the Army's individual ready reserve into the 101st Airborne Division. It's an honor and privilege to deploy with such a storied unit -- a band of warriors who have nearly all deployed at least once since 9/11. I'm scheduled to report for active duty in a little under 3 weeks to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After some period of pre-deployment training and preparation, I will deploy with my unit to Iraq.

It's difficult to describe the swirl of emotions I have now. I'm excited about this opportunity to serve, but also apprehensive about what lies ahead. I'm worried for my family and friends (this will be harder on them than me), and I will miss them terribly; but I'm also comforted by the strength they have displayed over the past few days.

INTEL DUMP will go through some changes over the next few weeks as a part of this deployment. [...] To the extent I can, I will contribute notes and dispatches from the field, although obviously my mission and my soldiers will take priority over any writing I might do.

See you on the high ground — more to follow...

I salute you, Phil Carter. Good luck and Godspeed. I sure hope you are able to keep blogging—for the same reasons our families hung on every email from our nephews when they were there.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust

Another winner from Green Car Congress. Amory Lovins tosses some cold, hard, market-driven facts on the nuclear revivalist craze wtih
Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust

In a market economy, private investors are the ultimate arbiter of what energy technologies can compete and yield reliable profits, so to understand nuclear power's prospects, just follow the money. Private investors have flatly rejected nuclear power but enthusiastically bought its main supply-side competitors—decentralized cogeneration and renewables. Worldwide, by the end of 2004, these supposedly inadequate alternatives (see graph) had more installed capacity than nuclear, produced 92% as much electricity, and were growing 5.9 times faster and accelerating, while nuclear was fading.

Read the whole thing. Its a nice and short, and relieves me of my doubts about future needs for nulcear electric generation.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Guantanamo's Long Shadow

Blogs, at least many of the high profile ones, have an annoying tendency to be prolific slaves to the meme of the moment. Hurrying to be the first to make a point. Its exhausting for the reader and, I imagine, the blogger. Here I want to pursue a more relaxed pace. In that vein I know this NYT editorial by Anthony Lewis is old news. I hope you have already read it. Its point resonates even more strongly on a second read, after another week of Durbin's tempest, Rove's provocations, and Cheney's up-is-downism. Lewis is speaking an important truth with, Guantanamo's Long Shadow

No one can seriously doubt now that cruelties and indignities have been inflicted on prisoners at Guantanamo. Nor is there any doubt that worse has happened elsewhere - prisoners beaten to death by American soldiers, untold others held in secret locations by the Central Intelligence Agency, others rendered to be tortured by governments such as Uzbekistan's.

Since the widespread outrage over the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Americans have seemingly ceased to care. It was reported yesterday that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former American commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal, is being considered for promotion. Many people would say the mistreatment of Mohamed al-Kahtani, or of suspects who might well be innocent, is justified in a war with terrorists. Morality is outweighed by necessity.

The moral cost is not so easily put aside. We Americans have a sense of ourselves as a moral people. We have led the way in the fight for human rights in the world. Mistreating prisoners makes the world see our moral claims as hypocrisy.

Beyond morality, there is the essential role of law in a democracy, especially in American democracy. This country has no ancient mythology to hold it together, no kings or queens. We have had the law to revere. No government, we tell ourselves, is above the law.

Over many years the United States has worked to persuade and compel governments around the world to abide by the rules. By spurning our own rules, we put that effort at risk. What Justice Louis Brandeis said about law at home applies internationally as well: 'If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law.'

Friday, June 24, 2005

RealClimate: Gulf Stream slowdown?

Did I mention that RealClimate posts come in fits and burts? Right after the rebuttal of the WSJ junk science I read this one applying the brakes to the sensational reporting on
Gulf Stream slowdown?

There has been an overwhelming popular demand for us to weigh in on recent reports in the Times Britain faces big chill as ocean current slows and CNN Changes in Gulf Stream could chill Europe.

At the heart of the story was a statement at the recent EGU meeting by Peter Wadhams from Cambridge University, that convection in a normally active area of the Greenland Sea was much reduced last winter. Specifically, in an area where a dozen or so convective 'chimneys' form, only two small chimneys were seen.

[...]how does this relatively small-scale observation get translated into headlines forecasting changes in the Gulf Stream and chilly times ahead for Europe? The major problem is that the background story and the climate model results are now very well known, and any scientific result that appears to project onto this storyline therefore gets a lot of attention.

[...]Thus while continued monitoring of this key climatic area is clearly warranted, the imminent chilling of the Europe is a ways off yet.

So the Day After Tomorrow won't be happening any time soon. Too bad for the press–the truth about Climate Change is not as compelling a story.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Daily Howler: Woodward confirms Downing Street

I've been meaning to post more references to the excellent analysis of the Downing Street Memos that have ben posted on the Daily Howler over the past week. As always, he does a thorough and insightful job of reviewing the controversy. His best insight comes from reviewing the implications of the memos with what Woodward writes about in Plan of Attack. Check out
A few weeks after the Downing Street memo, Cheney started pimping the nukes

Did the Bush Admin start faking the intel shortly after the Downing Street memo? In Woodward’s book, it’s clear that they did. Woodward clearly says they overstated the intel about the general WMD question. Indeed, as Woodward stresses, after Cheney overstated the intel on August 26, and the president himself shortly followed, making unequivocal claims for the first time about Saddam’s possession of WMD. Was there "no doubt" that Saddam had WMD? That just wasn’t the state of the intel, Woodward stresses. But he also stresses that major players did believe that Saddam had such weapons.

But those scary nukes were different. Although Woodward downplays this part of the story, it is perfectly clear that the Bush Admin began pimping the nukes shortly after the Downing Street memo. Cheney’s speech on August 26 raised the specter of nuclear attack. "Many of us are convinced that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon," Cheney said–and he implied that "fairly soon" might mean "within a year." Cheney may have been "convinced" of this fact–some are convinced that the earth is flat–but this plainly wasn’t the state of the intel, nor were Cheney’s claims supported in the subsequent October NIE. And uh-oh! Two weeks after Cheney’s speech, Rice went and out and embellished further, baldly misstating the actual intel regarding those aluminum tubes. Soon Bush himself was scaring the voters; in a major speech on October 7, he said "we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." In short, within a few weeks of the Downing Street memo, the Bush Admin was "fixing the intel" by lustily pimping Saddam’s scary nukes. Sadly, though, the liberal and Democratic establishments haven’t put this info to good use in their critiques of the route to war in Iraq.

Read more of the Daily Howler's analysis of Downing Street. I know its changed my perspective.

Tammany on the Potomac

Talking Points Memo has a running investigation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham's corrupt dealing that is worth keeping track of. The story is that Cunningham sold his home at a grossly inflated price to a businessman who subsequently procured lucrative DOD contracts. Straight up pay for play graft. In a recent post TPM's Josh Marshall speaks to the lack of support for an ethics investigation by the Dems in Congress. Check out Tammany on the Potomac:

On Wednesday, the Post's Jeff Birnbaum had a story on the explosion in the lobbying trade since 2000. If the Dems want their knock-out campaign cudgel for 2006, Jeff provided it: 'The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent.'

In explaining these developments Birnbaum writes: 'The lobbying boom has been caused by three factors, experts say: rapid growth in government, Republican control of both the White House and Congress, and wide acceptance among corporations that they need to hire professional lobbyists to secure their share of federal benefits.'

Now, a daily newspaper man works under different constraints and has a different brief than someone in my shoes. And this is what my late advisor Jack Thomas would have called a crackerjack piece. But I think I can cover this ground even more simply.

How's this? In Washington today, everything is for sale so there are a lot more salesmen. And there's so much to sell they're all getting higher commissions.

It may lack the granularity of Jeff's explanation. But that is the essence of the matter. That's why there are so many more lobbyists. The whole place is corrupt to the core. It's Tammany on the Potomac.

This fits nicely with my belief that the Democrats need to learn to be the opposition party —and take aim at entrenched, corrupt power. They need to connect with the issues of liberty and freedom to connect to the independent bent of American voters. Attacking Republican corruptions should be an obvious winner if they do adopt this voice.

Consider the fact that New Hampshire is trending Democratic. Then consider the New Hampsire motto, "Live Free of Die". See the connection?

RealClimate on The Wall Street Journal vs. The Scientific Consensus

RealClimate is the kind of blog that you need Atom or RSS feeds to keep track of. Sometimes they post regularly, sometimes infrequently. And you always want to listen to what they have to say. Here they've posted a long rebuttal to a WSJ editorial, The Wall Street Journal vs. The Scientific Consensus

We are disappointed that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has chosen to yet again distort the science behind human-caused climate change and global warming in their recent editorial 'Kyoto By Degrees' (6/21/05) (subscription required).

Last week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies expressed the consensus view(pdf) that 'there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring' and that 'It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities'. And just last week, USA Today editorialized that 'not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming'.

It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that 'the scientific case....looks weaker all the time'.

While we resist commenting on policy matters (e.g. the relative merits of the Kyoto Protocol or the various bills before the US Senate), we will staunchly defend the science against distortions and misrepresentations, be they intentional or not. In this spirit, we respond here to the scientifically inaccurate or incorrect assertions made in the editorial.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fred Kaplan on Bolton

Slate's Fred Kaplan brings us this on the odious Bolton's chances, Still Ticking? By Fred Kaplan

Will Bush escalate this battle to the next level and simply brush aside the Senate? My guess is, he will. Otherwise, why would he have taken the fight as far as he has? Why would he have kept today's cloture vote on the schedule? Surely he and his whips knew they didn't have enough support to win. The Senate Democrats had made a case against cloture on two grounds—not just on Bolton's dreadful qualifications for the job, but also on Bush's refusal to turn over documents relevant to the Senate's investigation. It was clear that, since last month's motion, the White House had lost — not gained —ground. Most likely, the president and his spokesmen will now repeat, with renewed intensity, what they've been saying for a while now—that the Democrats are obstructionists, that a majority of the Senate favors Bolton, and so he should simply be placed in the job if need be.

Still, President Bush might want to reassess the situation, and not just because Bolton is a lousy pick—a judgment that Bush does not share, in any case. He might want to consider the following question: At a time when he is touting the glories of democracy, does he want his ambassador at the United Nations—America's global spokesman—to have come by the job through such undemocratic maneuvers?

Principles and democracy don't seem to have much to do with the conduct of the Bush administration, do they?

Sacrificial Durban

Why the Daily Howler is not a blog is baffling... His is the proto-blog, the blog before time. And its still a great read. Daily Howler has a lot to say about Dick Durban

Durbin asked an obvious question: If you’d read that report, would you ever have thought that it was describing American conduct? Or would you have thought what Durbin said—that it must describe an evil regime, the type we have long denounced? The answer to that is perfectly obvious—and so is the state of our fallen culture, the culture being trampled under by the Russerts, the McCains and the Wallaces.

But we’ve now reached a miraculous point in the crumbling of our discourse. We’ve reached the point where citizens are mocked by major scribes for wondering if we were lied into war—and where United States senators are told to apologize for denouncing the conduct described in that report. But then, lunacy has spread throughout our discourse over the course of the past dozen years. And your fiery “career liberals” have known to be silent. They looked away again and again. Now we see what that has bought us.

And of course, it gets worse. Now he's apologizing for his Godwin's moment, and of course it won't be enough.

Leave it to The Medium Lobster to put the matter to rest:
But the men and women in the United States military don't just learn how to twist arms into stress positions and chain detainees to the ceiling. They also learn to forgive. And they've decided to forgive you, senator.

On behalf of all the torturers working hard today in the United States military, the Medium Lobster would like to say: apology accepted, Senator Durbin.

How do I read your blog?

The simple answer is, visit this site. Frequently.

But that gets old real quick. Who can remember to check a site again and again? And sometimes when you visit there's nothing new, and other times there's a flood of too much stuff. Eventually you just forget about it and stop visiting.

That's why we have syndication. Syndication allows me to post whenever and whatever I want. It allows you to see only what's new whenever you want. You can preview the new content, and in many cases read it completely, without visiting the blog website. You can browse new posts by title and date. And when you see something you like, you can jump to the blog to see it exactly as I want it to look.

There are many ways to subscribe to a feed and many desktop programs and websites that support feeds. Many email programs support feeds. Firefox, Opera, and other web browsers support them. Bottom feeder? Feed burner? I don't really know which desktop clients are better than others because I don't use them.

I use web sites that let me read all my subscriptions. Using a web service is nice because you can view your feeds from any web enabled screen, and you can view all your subscriptions from one screen. There are two services I can recommend: and

Bloglines is what got me so deep into blogs. I have about 100 subscriptions at any given time. With bloglines I can visit one site and see them all. I can see each subscription individually or I can sort them into directories and see a summary line for the whole directory. You can browse my public subscriptions here, but that does not give you a true feel for how you browse and read your own subscriptions. Being able to see who's posted and browse the titles of new posts makes it possible to follow many blogs easily. is newer, and takes a different approach. I have not spent as much time there as at bloglines, but I find it very interesting. Rojo works with tags, which allow you to sort your feeds into categories. It also allows you to browse posts from your feeds and from other Rojo users by keywords or tags. They also put new posts on a common timeline, and make it easy to see what's new among all your feeds.

Its funny how blog publishing is so easy and so suddenly popular, it seems like there are more people who know how to publish a blog than there are people who know how to effectively read a blog. The media is evolving and changing rapidly. Yet with services like bloglines and now rojo, its also getting more mature and more useful for all web surfers.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by spyzter.
Time to leaven all the politics with something fun. I just love this shot.

Molly Ivins: Destroying PBS

Here's a follow up on the PBS thread. Molly Ivins, one of my all-time favorite op-ed writes, gives us this: Destroying PBS

I have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. 'The Three Tenors,' 'Antiques Roadshow,' 'Masterpiece Theater,' 'Wall Street Week' and nature programs do not have a political agenda. 'The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer' is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. 'Washington Week in Review' is a showcase for 'Inside the Beltway,' conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism -- there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now. The Bush administration is introducing a political agenda to public broadcasting. They are using the lame pretext that PBS is somehow liberal to justify it into a propaganda organ for the government.

Read the whole article. She's right.

That cheatin' no-good Bin Laden!

I just love Fafblog. Medium Lobster says, go read it now! UPDATE FROM THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN

'Marco!' says me. We sit an wait with the radar an the sonar an the complicated listenin devices but there is no response.
'Marco!' says me again.
'He's cheating,' says Giblets.
'Nah, I think maybe we oughtta try those mountains over there,' says me. 'Wait, did you hear that?' There's a sound like lotsa feet runnin real quick.
'Fish outta water!' says me. Everybody gets real quiet. A coupla sheep go by chewin grass.
'He's totally cheating,' says Giblets.

AG lies. says we haven't lost enough of our rights yet

I can't even read the tech news without running into yet more outrageous Bush administration bullshit. This one courtesy of AG Alberto Gonzalez. Ars Technica reports on Yahoo! chatrooms busted for profiting from sex

Finally, I can't let this article pass without noting one truly bewildering statement from US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
...'Short of changes in the law in Congress, we may be limited about what we can do in this area,' U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said.

Gonzales told the station he can't use the laws now on the books to shut down Yahoo!'s child sex site. But back in 2002, the station broke the story when federal officials shut down a Web site called 'Candyman' with those existing laws.

The article is right to point out that existing laws have always been sufficient to shut down sites that traffic in child porn or that try to sexually exploit minors. It boggles the mind to think that Gonzales actually has the temerity to claim, with a straight face, that existing laws can't shut down a chatroom where older men try to seduce underage girls by broadcasting pics of their privates to them. With this (false) statement, Gonzales is not-so-subtly angling for new, tougher anti-obscenity laws, and apparently he's willing to lie through his teeth to get them. Some reporter should contact him and ask him exactly what he means when he says that he can't shut down a child sex chatroom with existing US laws.
So now we're expected to believe that, in order to protect our kids from predators, we'll have to give more powers to law enforcement. Maybe they'll call it the No Rights Left Intact law? I'm sure they'll only use their new powers to bust perverts, right?

Helena Cobban Takes Aim

I'm a big fan of Helena Cobban's Just World News, and this post is her in fine form: on troop levels, unwinnability

So it seems that many US officers, including the tight-lipped generals, may well have reached the conclusion that the war in Iraq as presently configured, is quite unwinnable.

I reached that conclusion a while back-- and the total political failure of the US command authorities to take advantage of the 'negotiated way out' of the imbroglio that was made available to them in the wake of the January elections means that the ending of this war may well be extremely messy and vindictive for everyone concerned. Especially, the Iraqis-- but not excluding the US forces.

Thank you, Chandler

Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
We love what we do, and we do it for love...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hullabaloo: Why oh Y

Go, Digby, go. Why oh Y:

It is not just cynical 'told you so' partisan sniping to question the motives of those who took us to war based upon the reasons stated above. That resolution reminds us that the primary justifications have simply not been born out in fact and the Downing St Memos now show that they were aware they would not be borne out in fact before they submitted to the congress for authorization. The taxpayers of this country are shelling out a billion fucking dollars a week on an inscrutable action in a very dangerous part of the world and so far, they have nothing to show for it. The evidence that formed the legal bases for action as stated in that resolution has been shown to be false. We have a a right to know what in the hell they were really thinking.

[daily dose of imagery] backlit leaves

Here's another site I love to visit, with a shot that just feels like summer: [daily dose of imagery] backlit leaves

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Waldlaw Blog: Adoption Day in Alameda County

One reason to read my humble blog is to hear about other blogs and interesting voices on the web. Its a way for me to give some small gift back to the strong voices and wonderful people I run into on the web. Its an especially beautful thing when I get a chance to give props to a good friend and fellow blogger whose blog I helped get started.

So I'm happy to recommend my friend Debbie Wald's blog about non-traditional family law, WaldLaw Blog. I've known Debbie as a friend and fellow parent for many years now, and suddenly I'm getting a chance to get to know her professional self. And its all good. Take, for starters, today's post, Adoption Day in Alameda County :

With all of this 'family values' stuff in the newspapers each day, I wish some of the folks who make their livings spewing bile at same-sex families would come to Alameda County on adoption day. What they would see is a rainbow of families — Asian, Latino, African American, Caucasian — with children of all ages, from infants to early teens — all having the love, the patience, the commitment to withstand whatever hurdles the State throws in front to them to assure that the children they are parenting are provided with the stability, love and protection that every child deserves. Talk about family values!!

Lost History Escapes the Sensor's Grasp

This should be an interesting story to follow.
SPECIAL REPORT: A Great Nuclear-Age Mystery Solved:

One of the great mysteries of the Nuclear Age was solved today: What was in the censored, and then lost to the ages, newspaper articles filed by the first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the atomic attack on that city on Aug. 9, 1945?

The reporter was George Weller, the distinguished correspondent for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News. His startling dispatches from Nagasaki, which could have affected public opinion on the future of the bomb, never emerged from General Douglas MacArthur's censorship office in Tokyo. Carbon copies were found just two years ago when his son, who talked to E&P from Italy today, discovered them after the reporter's death.


Anthony Weller, a novelist who lives near Gloucester, Mass., told E&P that it was one of great disappointments of his father's life that these stories, "a real coup," were killed by MacArthur who, George Weller felt, "wanted all the credit for winning the war, not some scientists back in New Mexico." Others have suggested that the real reason for the censorship was the United States did not want the world to learn about the morally troubling radiation effects for two reasons: It did not want questions raised about the use of the weapon in 1945, or its wide scale development in the coming years.

My son did a report for his 5th grade class this year on the Manhattan Project, so my ears have been tuned into stories from that time. And sure enough, a number of stories have been breaking. Some of the most reknowned scientists from the project have passed away recently, and its been interesting to read about the ethical and moral struggles that these scientists grappled with both during and after the project and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Its a fascinating story that we and our kids need to hear more about lest we relax our guard and begin to accept nuclear weapons as just another implement of war.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Got any more outrage in you?

Do these people know no shame? The Downing Street Memos show that the Brittish were leary of our case for going to war. Now Informed Comment shows that we also lied to the Brittish about our use of napalm-like chemical weapons during the war:

"As the scandal of the Downing Street Memo continues to percolate, it was confirmed on Thursday that the United States military used napalm-like incendiary bombs called MK77 in the Iraq War and then lied to their British allies about it. MK77 and napalm materials cling to the skin an inexorably burn the victim, and most countries in the world consider their use barbaric and something close to a war crime. The UK is signatory to a pledge not to use the weapons. British parliamentarians are now revisiting the question of whether MK77 was used against Fallujah last November. Persistent rumors circulated that the US used chemical weapons in that attack. Although MK77 is not classified as a chemical weapon, if it were used, it might help explain the rumors."
Watching all this unfold is just dizzying in the most sickening sort of way. How could we have come to this? This is not my nation.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Countercolumn Dissassembles the DSM

Just in case we delude our reality-based selves into thinking that a smoking gun like the Downing Street Memos will have an immediate impact on all sides of the debate, I bring you an eloquent milblogger's response to teh growing controversy, The Downing Street Memo:

"It also takes a year to plan a military campaign of that size. The idea that it's somehow a scandal that serious planning was underway 9 months before the war is just laughable.

And I regarded war with Iraq as inevitable by August of 2002, myself. Does that mean I was part of some frigging conspiracy? No. It meant I could read the ti leaves, and I could tell that Bush had staked his very presidency upon the disarming of Saddam, and Saddam was not going to budge, and he was never going to be in compliance with the Security Council resolutions, because his weapons program was just too huge to ever give a full accounting for. Nor would he comply witht the terms of the 1991 cease fire.

OK fine. So prudent military planners were prudently making plans and positioning men and equipment, knowing the odds were good for taking out Saddam. I don't think that is the point. The point is that we were committed to going to war before we had just cause, before we built any sort of alliance, before we had any kind of plan for winning the peace. And we went forward on the cynical belief that we could manipulate the UN and diplomacy to justify our intended course.

Downing Street Get Legs

Talking Points Memo is running a juicy quote from the Nelson Report on the growing Congressional interest in the Downing Street Memo. Talk of the I word?:

"Two examples of related concerns to the “Downing Steet” memos: DOD Secretary Rumsfeld’s pre-positioning of thousands of troops and large stores of equipment, months before the final decision was made; the top-level White House involvement in the “torture memo” process that led directly to the international humiliation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, despite internal warnings from then-Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage.

Add those up, add your own examples, and you will know why you hear conversations in the past couple of days using the “impeachment” word...not as a prediction, this is way too soon and/or extreme for now...but as part of an attempt to measure historic parallels, and to think aloud on how far this process might go. Maybe nowhere? Or, maybe we’re just seeing the beginning of something. We mention it tonight because the conversation is being held less quietly than before, and politics in Washington may be about to get even worse, if you can imagine anything worse."

Just to be Fair and Balanced® I'll also post a reference to a milblogger who is contemptuous of the DSM...

No wonder I like to throw

Boing Boing: Why did hominin brains triple in size over the past 6 million years?

How could angel NOT be on the web?

Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
Well she is now. Ready for her close-up>

Chicago Trib on "30 Days"

Venturing away from all that news, news, news... towards having a life... here's a post about a TV show I actaully liked. "30 days" on Fx. Here's a review:

"Social critic and documentarian Morgan Spurlock is something of a Michael Moore Lite

That's not to say that his work, famously taking on the fast-food industry in the movie 'Super Size Me,' is any less iconoclastic or hard-hitting. But Spurlock himself is more amiable, next-door neighborly and less contentious than Moore, at least in personality, and his West Virginia good ol' boy roots may well enable him to go down more palatably in red states. In terms of attacking the establishment, though, Spurlock is every bit as subversive." Grilled Lemon Chicken

So I'm wondering when I'l be able to post an interesting recipe here and get feedback on the recipe before I get to try it? Consider this a challenge. Grilled Lemon Chicken at

"The chicken picks up a bright citrus flavor in an unusual marinade made with lemon, oil, and egg. Dad likes to serve it with homemade potato salad and iced tea spiked with mint leaves."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kill Big Bird? Call Nina Totenberg!

Let's face another fact. PBS is moribund. Gone are the teeth. Pretty far gone is the voice. Ideologues are in charge and on top, and the network is withering away under malign stewardship. It has one foot in the grave.

And I held those views before I found this site, Free Press : Save PBS from partisan operatives:

Kenneth Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — the government-funded organization that was designed to shield PBS from political pressure — is aggressively pressing PBS to correct what he considers "liberal bias."

This top-down partisan meddling goes against the very nature of PBS and the local stations we trust. Let the people speak and decide the future of PBS, not secret dealings by White House operatives.

I found it funny that the email that referred to this site had to go to some pains to convince its readers that this was not the famed "Save PBS...Nina Totenberg" urban legend email hoax. I know I was dismissive at first. But go to or and follow it. This is for real.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Secrecy News: Defending Scientific Openness

Steven Aftergood publishes an email called Secrecy News, which does an excellent job of covering issues related to secrecy policy and practices. This post speaks to an issue that I think is hugely important and largely undiscussed: our post-9/11 obsession with sealing the borders and classifying everything is a prescription for killing our economy. If the US stops being the locus of scientific research and higher education, a magnet drawing in the brightest minds from around the world, our economy will stagnate and die. Secrecy News weighs in with "DEFENDING SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS:

Openness in scientific research is vital to national security and must be preserved, argued a distinguished panel of senior scientists and former national security officials in a new report.

With the exception of research that is properly classified for national security reasons, dissemination of other scientific research should remain unrestricted as far as possible, the Commission on Scientific Communication and National Security said.

This policy 'does not assert that the open dissemination of unclassified research is without risk. Rather, it says that openness in research is so important to our own security -- and to other key national objectives -- that it warrants the risk that our adversaries may benefit from scientific openness as well.'"

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Daily Howler on Dean's Gaffe

The The Daily Howler gives us this new take on Dean's gaffe. I have counted myself among those who support Dean's use of sharp elbows. But this makes me wonder about his judgement in this case:

"MILLER V. DEAN: Superlative spunk from Stephanie Miller, right at the start of this Howard Kurtz profile:
KURTZ (6/13/05): Stephanie Miller is watching Fox News, as she does every night, looking for laughs.

'It's like Comedy Central for liberals,' says the Los Angeles radio host. 'They don't know they're funny—they just are. It's a right-wing freak show.'

Huzzah! It’s something liberals have to tell conservative voters—you’re being played for absolute fools, by a gang of liars, con-men and “freaks.” Yes, we’re in favor of tough, tough talk (see below)—as long as that talk isn’t stupid.

Which brings us around to Howard Dean, who has recently been an undisciplined nightmare. Note that Miller unloaded her insults on a small group of Fox hosts—not on Republican voters in general. We’ve been amazed at Dean’s clumsy statements—and at the vast array of Dems and libs who think that he’s been just superb.

When did Dems become so easy, that they can’t demand leaders who are tough and not-stupid? And are we wrong, or are bloggers starting to pander to the fire-breathing Dem herd? We cringed at this fawning from Kevin Drum, who surely understood his slick edit:

DRUM (6/11/05): What was it that Howard Dean said about Republican leaders? Oh yes: 'A lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.'
But Dean didn’t say that “about Republican leaders.” He simply said it about “Republicans”—in fact, by clear inference, about Republican voters. Here’s what the firebrand actually said—and yes, it was totally stupid:
DEAN: The idea that you have to wait on line eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida, there's something the matter with that. Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, 'cause there's a lot of them that have never made an honest living in their lives.
That’s an amazingly dumb thing to say, especially given the strength of the underlying issue. But for some reason, many Dems seem to think they can’t insist on tough and not-stup"

Informed Comment: Roasted Duck

Juan Cole delves into the way the blogosphere has managed to force the media and the political establishment to pay attention to the Downing Street Memo(s), The Downing Street Memos and the Revenge of the Bloggers:

"Conyers and his staff are well aware that ordinarily hearings held by members of the minority party in Congress (which therefore are unlikely to have teeth) are routinely ignored by the corporate media. They are placing their hopes in the blogging world to cover the hearings and get the word out. They are planning to release further documents corroborating the Downing Street Memo.

This entire affair could be a harbinger of what is coming in 2007. If the Democrats can take back the Senate in 2006, all of a sudden they could schedule real investigatory hearings at the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee, into Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans, into Cheney's pressure on the CIA analysts, into the fabrication of intelligence and the political lies that dragged this country into the Iraq quagmire. Imagine what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton for merely fibbing about a desultory relationship (13 meetings) with a young woman that did not even involve intercourse. What would be the appropriate punishment for lying about Iraq's non-existent nuclear weapons program? Or launching a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter? Bush knows very well he will be a lame duck by January 2007. The real question is whether he will end up being roasted duck."

Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose

Love today's Doonesbury. Doonesbury@Slate - June 13, 2005 Great recent Bushisms!:

""Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all over the country." -Sep 6, '04"

BBC: US behind Bolivia crisis - Chavez

Get this, we're "blaming" Hugo Chavez for stirring up trouble in Bolivia? Not so fast, says Hugo. Looks like he's getting the last laugh!
BBC NEWS | Americas | US behind Bolivia crisis - Chavez:

"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has blamed Washington's brand of capitalism for the recent troubles in Bolivia.

Speaking on his weekly TV programme, he said US open market policies in Latin America had led to 'exclusion, misery and destabilisation'."

Defense Tech: Agency: Tests = Bad

That Missile Defense that Bush deployed during the election? Always knew it was a fraud -- and unbelievably expensive fraud -- didn't you? Well feast your eyes on this article cited over at Defense Tech, Agency: Anti-Missile Tests = Bad:

"The general effect of these recommendations is to create a presumption against conducting any scheduled flight test—what the IRT calls 'Prove why should fly.' For good measure, the IRT recommends making the next integrated flight test a 'non-intercept' test.

Imagine that: First, MDA rushes a defense that won’t defend to meet a deadline that just happens to coincide with a Presidential election. Then, MDA scales way back on necessary testing, lest the bad guys figure out the damn thing doesn’t work."

Juan Cole: Leaked Cabinet Briefing Shows British Knew War was Illegal

More on this latest bombshell news from London from another of my favorite blogs, Informed Comment, Leaked Cabinet Briefing Shows British Knew War was Illegal:

"It makes me deeply ashamed as an American in the tradition of Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln, and King, that in their private communications our international allies openly admit that the United States of America routinely disregards international law. The Geneva Conventions were enacted by the United Nations and adopted into national law in order to assure that Nazi-style violations of basic human rights never again occurred without the threat of punishment after the war. We have an administration that views the Geneva Conventions as 'quaint.' The US has vigorously opposed the International Criminal Court."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

TPM: Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’

Josh Marshall cites the smoking gun published by the Times of London showing the full extent of the hypocracy of Bush's run up to the Iraq war. Old news? Sure. Scandalous? Incredible? Sure. Worse, its just SOP for Bush. Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’:

"MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal."

Krugman: Losing Our Country

What better way to christen this blog than by citing Paul Krugman. Especially when he goes after the economic uncertainty and growing class divisions of our times.

From Losing Our Country - New York Times:

Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's America was a place in which very few people were extremely wealthy, many blue-collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security.

But as The Times's series on class in America reminds us, that was another country. The middle-class society I grew up in no longer exists.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Fafblog! Shadows, Fog, and Money

Medium Lobster knows junk science when he sees it.
Shadows, Fog, and Money:

"One can't be too careful when deliberating over the shifting and byzantine web of confusion and doubt that is so-called 'climate' 'change.' Whom should we believe: the unruly mob of every reputable climatologist on the planet, or the selfless sages at Exxon-Mobil? Uncertainty abounds, even among higher beings like the Medium Lobster. We must examine all sides of the issue, take input from all corners: from the side of science, and from the side of oil industry whores paid to lie about science. Someday, somehow, between these complex and opposing points of view, we may just find an answer."

Grist : New Apollo Energy Act

I bet Faux News will be headlining this Democratic intiative. (Yeah right.) Rep. Jay Inslee (D WA) introduced an alternative energy bill and offered a summary on Grist Magazine: New Apollo Energy Act contrasts sharply with "Jurassic" GOP energy bill:

"Instead of this petroleum-soaked energy policy, some of my colleagues and I have been promoting a new vision for our energy future, one that would avoid drilling in our pristine areas, while creating jobs, enhancing our national security, and protecting the environment. This clean-energy vision, called the New Apollo Energy Act, is based on optimism rather than self-doubt, on new technologies rather than archaic methods, and on faith in Americans' innovative talent rather than capitulation to narrow special interests. New Apollo will commit our nation to clean energy to increase domestic high-tech employment, reduce the effects of climate change, and advance our country toward independence from foreign oil. Though the Republican leadership refused to allow us to offer a version of New Apollo as an amendment to the energy bill, I will soon be introducing it as a separate bill in Congress."

First Post

I hereby claim this territory! BernalKC reigns supreme!