Random Musings
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
 
How to Solve the Terrorism Problem...
Yahoo! News - Militant Blows Himself Up in Uzbekistan: "TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - A lone militant who was holed up in a house blew himself up early Thursday, ending a standoff in the Uzbek capital. "

I say we create a row of inexpensive homes, and allow any militant terrorists who want to blow themselves up to go inside and do so. No sanction or penalty whatsoever. For those who prefer to blow themselves up outside, we'll create a large field where terrorists can go, without any restriction or checkpoint, and blow themselves up at anytime they want. Perhaps we could even provide them with some explosive and a comfortable place to sit when they blow themselves up in these designated "Martyr Zones."

-B-

 
And then...desperation set in.

Yahoo! News - Martha Stewart Seeks New Trial: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Martha Stewart (news - web sites) sought a new trial on Wednesday arguing that one juror lied on the jury selection questionnaire and made public statements after the trendsetter's conviction showing his bias against the upper class. "

Write your own comments, folks. Obviously Martha and her team are fighting for her life, figuratively speaking, and they've dug down deep to find this scrap to hang her hopes on. At least it keeps her out of jail while they argue about it.

-B-

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
Women look best once a month: A woman's face is most alluring at the height of her cycle.: "Roberts does not yet know what hints people are extracting from the pictures in order to judge their attractiveness. The colour and condition of their skin may be important, he says. Previous studies have shown that skin tone becomes lighter during ovulation. 'But there may be more factors; we have to look into that more,' he says."

I don't suppose they considered the possibility that during their menstrual cycle the women may be a little more self-conscious about how they look and thus may put a little extra effort into it?

-B-

 
CNN.com - Attorney:Woman thought God told her to kill sons - Mar 29, 2004"The dilemma she faced is a terrible one for a mother," Files said. "Does she follow what she believes to be God's will, or does she turn her back on God?"

Files said he would present witnesses who would corroborate Laney's love of her children as well as her belief "that the word of God was infallible."


Just because you think God told you to kill your sons doesn't mean you don't know it's wrong to do so. Why would she have called 9-1-1 after killing them if she thought she was doing the right thing?

-B-


Monday, March 29, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - Shiites Organize to Block U.S. Plan: "Here, the gaunt, 38-year-old said, was a leaflet that enumerated the objections of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most powerful cleric, to Iraq's interim constitution. This, he said, was the letter the ayatollah sent to the United Nations (news - web sites) in protest. And here, displayed proudly, was the petition denouncing that constitution in what he said amounted to a 'popular referendum.'"

This is a very interesting story. My one regret with it is that it takes far too long to get to the specifics of what they object to and even then doesn't really offer the kind of exploration of that subject that I would like.

Ultimately I worry that the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq run too deep for there to be the kind of unified government that we all would like to see them have.

"This is freedom of expression," Awadi said, thumbing yellow worry beads. "This is freedom of opinion."

This is a freedom they never had before last year. That's a pretty big deal, I think.

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Shiites Organize to Block U.S. Plan: "Here, the gaunt, 38-year-old said, was a leaflet that enumerated the objections of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most powerful cleric, to Iraq's interim constitution. This, he said, was the letter the ayatollah sent to the United Nations (news - web sites) in protest. And here, displayed proudly, was the petition denouncing that constitution in what he said amounted to a 'popular referendum.'"

This is a very interesting story. My one regret with it is that it takes far too long to get to the specifics of what they object to and even then doesn't really offer the kind of exploration of that subject that I would like.

Ultimately I worry that the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq run too deep for there to be the kind of unified government that we all would like to see them have.

"This is freedom of expression," Awadi said, thumbing yellow worry beads. "This is freedom of opinion."

This is a freedom they never had before last year. That's a pretty big deal, I think.

-B-

 
CNN.com - Bush-appointed judge rejects racist label - Mar 29, 2004

Does this headline surprise anybody? I'm waiting for "Bush Appointed Judge Embraces Racist Label."

-B-

Saturday, March 27, 2004
 
Does anybody else find it interesting that Kiefer Sutherland, the ruthless sniper from the movie "Phone Booth" is also the spokesvoice for MCI. Is that really the voice you want to hear over the telephone?

By the way, Phone Booth is a gripping film. If you have a chance to see it, I recommend it. Sutherland was a perfect choice.

-B-

 
CNN.com - Iran starts up uranium site - Mar 27, 2004: "VIENNA, Austria (Reuters) -- Iran has begun operating a facility for converting uranium, a key step toward enriching it for use as fuel or in a nuclear bomb, a spokeswoman for the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Saturday."

I guess we're just taking their word for the fact that they aren't using it for weapons?

-B-

Friday, March 26, 2004
 
Thanks to Blogstreet.com we now have an RSS feed for this blog! Just click here or the "Syndicate This Site (XML)" link in the sidebar to the right in order to access it.

-B-

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
 
CBS News | 5-Year-Old's 'Wacky' Spice | March 23, 2004�12:19:56 (AP) A 5-year-old boy took a bag of marijuana to school and was sprinkling it over a friend's lasagna like oregano when a monitor intervened, police said.

Also on Monday, authorities in Indianapolis said a 4-year-old boy took crack cocaine that police said was worth up to $10,000 to his preschool class and showed it to classmates, saying it was flour.


Some people really shouldn't be parents. If it turns out that the kid with the marijuana got it at home then his parents should go to jail.

The kid with the cocaine is, thankfully, already away from that family.

-B-


Monday, March 22, 2004
 
Today Israel had Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin killed.

My intial reaction was disappointment. Clearly this is an escalation in the violence between Israel and the Palestinians and it's virtually certain, at least in the short run, to increase tensions and violence in the region.

The more I think about it, though, I consider the possible parallel to Osama Bin Laden - who is obviously the "spiritual leader" of Al Qaeda. If our forces were to kill Bin Laden I would certainly be pleased. I'm having a difficult time reconciling that with what occurred today. If Yassin was the Palestinian "Osama" then I certainly can't fault the Israelis for striking against him.

Regardless of whether "justice was served" or not, the killing is certainly going to result in an escalation of violence and is not conducive to furthering the peace process. At least not in the near term.

-B-



 
ABCNEWS.com : Cincinnati Police Cleared in Custody Death CINCINNATI March 22 — Police committed no crimes during a videotaped fight with a black man who died after lunging at officers as they took him into custody, a prosecutor said Monday.

That was my reaction when I first saw the tape and I'm glad that the prosecutors finally agree.

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Polls: Young Back Same-Sex Weddings More

Strikes me as interesting that virtually everybody being quoted as opposed to same-sex marriage in this article is identified as having a strong religious affiliation.

I don't begrudge people their rights to religion, in fact I strongly believe that we are each guaranteed our individual rights to worship (or not) as we see fit in the U.S. Constitution. However, I'm wary of legislating something based entirely upon what somebody thinks an invisible, unprovable, diety's opinion of it is.

-B-

 
Obsidian Wings: Corroboration of Clarke's account

This is yet another account, this one from the former British Ambassador to Washington, which seems to confirm the allegations that the Bush Administration was pushing for war with Iraq immediately after September 11th despite the fact that Iraq was not connected to the attacks.

How many people have to testify to this before the claim is taken seriously?

-B-

 
CNN.com - Bush administration rejects�Clarke charges - Mar 22, 2004 Some administration officials questioned Clarke's motives, suggesting he had a partisan agenda. Clarke has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Step 1: Discredit the accuser by claiming he is a Democrat and thus anything he says are just politically motivated lies.

In her interview with CNN, Rice pointed out repeatedly that Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism efforts in 1998 when U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed and in 2000 when the USS Cole was bombed, as well as during "a period of the '90s when al Qaeda was strengthening and when the plots that ended up in September 11th were being hatched." She said Clarke holds a more "narrow view" of combating terrorism than Bush does.

Step 2: Imply that the accuser is just as guilty, if not moreso, and thus somehow hypocritical for accusing.

"If Dick Clarke had such grave concerns, why wait so long? Why wait until the
election?" Instead, McClellan said, Clarke "conveniently" released a book in the middle of the campaign season.


Step 3 (see Step 1): Accuse the accuser of having ulterior motives.

The answer to McClellan's rhetorical question is rather obvious: Because Mr. Clarke wants to sell a lot of books and during election season people are interested in this stuff. By next March only the extremists will care about this subject. Of course, that doesn't mean his story is false.

-B-

Saturday, March 20, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - Aide: Rumsfeld Urged Iraq Attack on 9/12: "WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately urged President Bush (news - web sites) to consider bombing Iraq (news - web sites) after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington, says a former senior administration counterterrorism aide. "

I'm not the least bit surprised. I believe Paul O'Neill when he says that plans and interest in the invasion of Iraq were in the air from the earliest days of the administration. It was evident to me in the entire way that the administration approached the Iraq situation -- they didn't really want inspectors in Iraq and they didn't want any compromise bill. It seemed clear to me that the solution they wanted from the start was troops and tanks rolling through Baghdad. That's why they disparaged and dismissed the work of Blix and his inspectors from the very beginning.

They insisted Hussein had weapons despite what Hussein said ("He's lying!") or what the inspectors said. Now, of course, it looks like Hussein may have been telling the truth and that Blix was right. But we have new reasons for the war now. The war the administration was itching for from very early on.

In my opinion.

-B-

Friday, March 19, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - Bush Hails Iraq War as Boost for Mideast Stability: "On the eve of the first anniversary of the start of the Iraq (news - web sites) war, blasts echoed across Baghdad from a suspected mortar or rocket attack on the headquarters of the U.S.-led administration. The U.S. military said there were no casualties."

Does it seem sort of odd to be declaring Iraq as a boost for middle east stability while they are experiencing almost nightly mortar and car bombing attacks? Is that really our idea of "stable?"

-B-

Thursday, March 18, 2004
 
Tuesday night I attended a neighborhood watch meeting where an HPD Detective who specializes in white collar crime talked to us about Internet crime and identity theft. He said that most identity theft is NOT perpetrated on the Internet. Rather it's still very common for the crooks to get your information by "dumpster diving" -- going into your trash for discarded bills, credit card statements and so forth.

These days it's important to shred any of that stuff before you toss it out. Don't have a shredder? Use scissors.

Or buy one of these: Fellows Shredder, $25.99.

-B-

 
It occurs to me that back when President Clinton so blatantly lied to us, wagging his finger at the camera while he intoned "I did not have sexual relations with that woman...." we all snickered.

Now we have a situations where a number of officials in the Administration have been caught in what can at best be described as mistakes, if not outright lies, regarding the war in Iraq (remember Rumsfeld telling us that he "knows where the WMD is"?) and yet nearly half the population doesn't seem to mind.

I'm a Republican and I voted for Bush in the last election. It disturbs me to see so many failures of intelligence, failures of communication and failures of consideration. Especially when they seem to have been exacerbated by a desire, even anxiousness, to go to war.

Being a "war president" is not something to be proud of, Mr. Bush. Being a peace president is. Now I realize that we didn't choose the larger war we find ourselves in. Mr. Bin Laden thrust it upon us and it is essential that we fight, and win, the war against terrorists. But our war in Iraq seems very much like a war of choice to me. The ancillary benefit of having created a "honeypot" that now attracts terrorists for us to fight is little consolation -- especially as it seems that our heavy-handed policy is creating even more anti-American sentiment and breeding a whole new generation of terrorists.

-B-

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
 
CNN.com - Sources:�C-section mom to face fewer charges - Mar 16, 2004 Prosecutors filed the child endangerment charges two months ago when, they say, one of Melissa Ann Rowland's twins, a daughter, was born with traces of alcohol and cocaine in her system.

I'm not sure what to make of the claim that she allegedly refused a c-section but if it's true that the daughter was born with alcohol and cocaine in her system then this woman needs to go to prison. That's as clear a case of child endangerment as I can imagine.

(and is this really the best photo of this woman they could get?)

-B-

 
Outside the Beltway: "Terrorists Win in Spain II"

Outside the Beltway has some very interesting commentary on the Spanish terror attacks of last week.

-B-

Monday, March 15, 2004
 
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Survey finds hope in occupied Iraq: "The poll suggests that Iraqis are happier than they were before the invasion, optimistic about the future and opposed to violence. "

This story really is good news.

-B-

 
CNN.com - White House to Kerry: Names names - Mar 15, 2004: "Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter shot back that if McClellan was going to take on campaign issues, Bush 'ought to get him off the taxpayers' payroll and stop using the White House for political purposes.'
'The bottom line is this White House would be better off spending its time repairing our alliances around the world so we can collectively fight the war on terrorism and better protect the United States, rather than using the White House press room as a place to carry out political attacks,' she said in a written statement."


This somewhat angry-sounding retort is actually well-taken. When did it become Mr. McClellan's job to make campaign statements or challenge the president's political opponents?

-B-

 
CNN.com - Popcorn worker awarded $20 million in lawsuit - Mar 15, 2004: "People cried and hugged his wife, Cassandra, as the jury ruled against International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. and its subsidiary Bush Boake Allen Inc., the manufacturers of the flavoring. They were ordered to pay $18 million to Eric Peoples and $2 million to his wife for compensatory personal injury damages. No punitive damages were awarded."

Not to comment on the merits of the case or Mr. Peoples injuries but I wonder how the jury arrived at these particular figures. Mrs. Peoples gets $2 million? I could understand if some of that was punative damages, but apparently the jury decided that there was $20 million in compensatory damages. Seems like a lot to me.

-B-

 
Nominee: Understatement of the Week

ABCNEWS.com : Democrat Sharpton Endorses Kerry for White House March 15 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Civil rights activist Al Sharpton dropped his longshot White House bid on Monday and endorsed John Kerry, saying it was time for the party to rally around the nominee.

In my opinion Al Sharpton has as much chance of being the first American on Mars as he does of being President of the United States. While it's theoretically possible that America would elect a black president (I certainly would if the right candidate was presented) I don't think Sharpton could ever draw that kind of support. He has too much controversy in his past.

-B-

 
The Register: "Apple's calculated annual run rate of 130 million songs a year equates to $43.9m of revenue per annum. Napster is expected to announce revenues of $9.1m for its first five months of selling downloads.

Of course, how much of that ends up on Apple's bottom line is another matter. In any case, that figure has to be put alongside the company's annual revenue of $6.2bn (FY2003) selling computers and associate software, services and peripherals. ITMS might be a high profile activity, but it's certainly not high revenue, relatively speaking. "


It may not be high revenue but I suspect it's high margin. It gets to piggy-back on the very successful iPod marketing and sales and I have to wonder what it really costs them to make those songs available. They pocket $.33 per song, that sounds pretty profitable to me.

-B-

 
The Register: "Apple's calculated annual run rate of 130 million songs a year equates to $43.9m of revenue per annum. Napster is expected to announce revenues of $9.1m for its first five months of selling downloads.

Of course, how much of that ends up on Apple's bottom line is another matter. In any case, that figure has to be put alongside the company's annual revenue of $6.2bn (FY2003) selling computers and associate software, services and peripherals. ITMS might be a high profile activity, but it's certainly not high revenue, relatively speaking. "


It may not be high revenue but I suspect it's high margin. It gets to piggy-back on the very successful iPod marketing and sales and I have to wonder what it really costs them to make those songs available. They pocket $.33 per song, that sounds pretty profitable to me.

-B-

 
Politics in the Zeros: "The leader of Spain's victorious Socialists said Monday he will withdraw his nation's support for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, restating a campaign promise"

Bob Morris' "Politics in the Zeros" blog points out this story today. My take is that this isn't really a new position for the Socialists in Spain; I suspect they were opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning. The tragic train bombing merely helped propel them into power and gave them a good excuse to claim withdrawal of support from Iraq.

Unfortunately I don't think that's a good idea at this point. The horse is already out of the barn. I agree that we rushed into a war of choice against an Iraq that really wasn't a threat to the U.S., but we're there now and we need to do the job of rebuilding Iraq properly. I doubt Al Qaeda is going to be placated by a Spanish withdrawal, if anything it will merely embolden them. Especially if the Spanish government uses the train bombings as justification -- they'll simply be demonstrating that terrorism can get political results.

-B-

 
CNN.com - Kerry pressed on international�claim - Mar 15, 2004 "I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," he said Sunday. "I have heard from people, foreign leaders elsewhere in the world who don't appreciate the Bush administration and would love to see a change in the leadership of the United States."

Pressed on the campaign trail and by reporters to name the leaders, Kerry declined, although he said they were U.S. allies.


I'm afraid that's just not a satisfactory answer. Anybody can claim that anonymous people told them something -- this is worse than hearsay evidence. At least with hearsay the person alleged to have said it is identified.

I think it was a mistake for Senator Kerry to go down this road if he's not willing to name the foreign leaders. I think this is going to dog him for quite some time.

-B-

Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
AP Wire | 03/14/2004 | Orange County teachers accept pay cuts to avoid layoffs, larger classes

This is the first time I've seen the teachers union blink on salaries. I think teachers are generally underpaid, but I also recognize the limited resources given to education in this country and the great challenges they face.

-B-

Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
KR Washington Bureau | 03/12/2004 | Medicare cost analyst says he was ordered to provide skewed figures: "Medicare cost analyst says he was ordered to provide skewed figures"

Hmmm...another disturbing story out of the Bush administration.

-B-

Friday, March 12, 2004
 
CBS News | Welcome To Bushworld | March 11, 2004�17:40:24 What's different is that the Bush administration stands accused of politicizing and bullying processes of the government that are designed to be above the fray of partisanship and ideology, such as intelligence gathering and science policy-making. Put bluntly: they don't much care about facts, science and truth.

An interesting article -- an opinion piece - which claims that the Bush administration systematically suppresses and obfuscates scientific and intelligence information that runs contrary to their beliefs and policies. Worth a read.

-B-

Thursday, March 11, 2004
 
FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Report: Al Qaeda Claims Credit for Madrid Blasts MADRID, Spain — Al Qaeda has reportedly claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in Madrid Thursday that left at least 190 people dead and 1,240 wounded.

This doesn't surprise me - when I first heard the description of the attacks it really didn't sound like the way that ETA conducts their attacks.

-B-

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
 
Salon.com | The new Pentagon papers: "The new Pentagon papers
A high-ranking military officer reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war."


Whether you agree or disagree with what is said here this is a powerful article making some very serious claims about the intelligence that was used to support the war in Iraq. It is definitely worth a read.

-B-

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
 
I really like CSI: Miami but David Caruso is the William Shatner of our generation. In the 1980s and 1990s it was David Hasselhoff. Today it's Caruso. Every line he delivers is the most important line in the show. The man could make ordering a pizza into a crisis.

-B-

Monday, March 08, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - Bush Accuses Kerry of Trying to Cut Intelligence: "'Once again, Senator Kerry is trying to have it both ways. He's for good intelligence, yet he was willing to gut the intelligence services,' Bush told a Houston fund-raiser. 'And that is no way to lead our nation in a time of war.' "

While Kerry's proposed cuts are troubling it is important to remember that they were proposed in 1995. 1995, as far as I know, was not "a time of war."

Bush seems just a bit too proud of being a "war president" for my tastes.

-B-

 
: "Plame probe update"

This is a mildly interesting article but I guess I'll take this opportunity to reiterate my views on the whole Plame thing:

1. If it was a political dirty trick by the administration then it's despicable.

2. If a law has been broken then there MUST be some consequences and prosecution. We can't let this one slide.

3. It's entirely possible that no law was broken. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) has some pretty big loopholes in it for prosecution. For example: Robert Novak, the journalist who printed Ms. Plame's name even though he admits that the CIA asked him not to, has no legal liability under the law. He may have some moral liability, but that's my opinion and not subject to actual prosecution. Furthermore it hasn't even been publicly confirmed that Ms. Plame was an operative who was covered by the IIPA. Not all CIA employees are subject to IIPA protection. The fact that the Justice Department is pursuing the case, and that the CIA filed a complaint regarding Novak's column would seem to indicate that the CIA and Justice (at least) believe she is covered, however.

4. (and this is the big summary) I seriously doubt anybody will be succesfully prosecuted in this case. Even if the investigators determine that a law was broken it will be very difficult to prosecute. In order for any White House staffers to be prosecuted for this it has to be proven that they both had security clearance AND knowingly leaked the name for publication. I suspect that unless the Administration decides they need a fall guy to take the blame for this in order to make it go away of that nobody in the administration will successfully get prosecuted. It's just too easy to evade this charge if you want to.

-B-

 
Failure to read well by 3rd grade makes it tough for kids to catch up - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper: "After third grade, students stop learning to read and start reading to learn. If they have not mastered reading before entering fourth grade, they begin falling behind in all other subjects.
Schools superintendent Pat Hamamoto has set a goal of having all public-school kids reading by the end of third grade, but there are many ways parents can make the path to literacy smoother."


This story is extremely important and echoes what I've said before. We need to focus resources on building those reading skills at an early age. More college scholarships and such are worthless if our kids don't show up for High School prepared. A major part of our problem, in my opinion, is that our foundational skills, such as reading, are not being built properly in the early grades.

We need more early childhood education, parents need to emphasize and practice reading with their children at home, and school districts need to add resources to improve reading BEFORE the child falls behind. If they leave the third grade unable to read to the level they should have, then they're already on a path to problems later in school and later in life.

-B-


 
iWon News: "Bush, who was traveling to Dallas for a fund-raiser Monday, planned to call attention to a 1995 bill that Kerry sponsored to trim intelligence spending by $1.5 billion over five years. The cut was part of what Kerry called a 'budget-buster bill' to strip $90 billion from the budget and end 40 programs that he said were 'pointless, wasteful, antiquated or just plain silly.'"

I think Senator Kerry is going to have to find a good answer to this question because it does hurt him.

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Supreme Court Won't Revisit Boy Scouts' Ban on Gays: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) allowed Connecticut on Monday to remove the Boy Scouts from a list of charities that receive contributions from state workers because the group excludes gays. "

As an Eagle Scout myself I guess I should weigh in on this matter. So here it is:

1. I support the right of Conn. to remove the Boy Scouts from a list of charities that receive contributions because they discriminate against homosexuals.

2. I support the right of the Boy Scouts, as a private organization, to exclude homosexuals.

3. I don't believe the Boy Scouts should exclude homosexuals.

"The group, which also does not accept atheists or agnostics, says it has the right to decide who can join."

And yet this agnostic is an Eagle Scout. Go figure. Maybe heterosexual agnostics are o.k., it's just the gay ones they turn away.

-B-

Saturday, March 06, 2004
 
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | David Crosby seized in drug bust: "Veteran rocker David Crosby has been arrested on drug and gun charges at a hotel in New York City where he had been staying during a concert tour. "

David Crosby arrested for having drugs? That health nut? Who would have thought...

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Bush Defends Campaign Focus on Sept. 11 Attacks: "The commercials have angered many victims' relatives, outraged at what they say is an attempt to politicize one of the darkest days in the nation's history. The Bush administration has defended the ads as relevant and 'tasteful.' "

While intellectually I don't like the notion of exploiting the Sept. 11th attacks for political gain, I have to admit that I'm having a difficult time getting upset about these particular commercials. They do seem tasteful and it's true that September 11th attacks were a very important event in the nations history and in Bush's presidency.

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Bush Defends Campaign Focus on Sept. 11 Attacks: "The commercials have angered many victims' relatives, outraged at what they say is an attempt to politicize one of the darkest days in the nation's history. The Bush administration has defended the ads as relevant and 'tasteful.' "

While intellectually I don't like the notion of exploiting the Sept. 11th attacks for political gain, I have to admit that I'm having a difficult time getting upset about these particular commercials. They do seem tasteful and it's true that September 11th attacks were a very important event in the nations history and in Bush's presidency.

-B-

Friday, March 05, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - USA Today's Top 25 U.S. Bestsellers: "USA Today's Top 25 U.S. Bestsellers"

How well is Dan Brown (Author of "The DaVinci Code") doing?

4 of the top 15 bestsellers on the list are his. Wow!


-B-

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
 
World Press Review - World Press Wire: "Kerry Promises a Kinder, Gentler Foreign Policy"

The headline of this article made me a little nervous, but reading it I can find little to object to. I agree with trying to rebuild alliances and that we do need the cooperation of allies in the fight against terrorism.

That shouldn't mean that we never use our military strength to defeat enemies, but it does mean that we shouldn't throw our weight around indiscriminately. "Who's Next Diplomacy" is a formula for making enemies.

-B-

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - GOP Plans Votes to Put Democrats on the Spot: "A top Edwards aide said the senator is 'not thrilled' to be voting on gun control one week before southern states such as Texas hold their primaries. Kerry, who has missed every Senate vote this year -- plus several key votes last year -- canceled a Florida campaign event tonight to be on hand for the gun votes, several of which are expected to be close."

I wonder...is Senator Kerry still drawing his senate paycheck even though he has missed every vote this year?

-B-

 
AxisofLogic/ World News/CommentThe former senior American intelligence official was equally blunt. He told me, “Khan was willing to sell blueprints, centrifuges, and the latest in weaponry. He was the worst nuclear-arms proliferator in the world and he’s pardoned—with not a squeak from the White House.”

It's rather remarkable to me how quietly we've accepted this situation. Khan has actually done what we invaded Iraq to prevent. The answer, of course, is "quid pro quo" which is to say that in exchange for looking the other way on this heinous proliferation of nuclear weapons the Pakistani government is stepping up support for our pursuit of Osama Bin Laden.

Is that a fair trade? I guess that's what we'll have to figure out.

-B-

 
al Qaeda = Iraq, right?

A lot of Bushies shrug off the notion that there is any confusion or that Iraq and Al Qaeda have been wrongly conflated. This post from the "Don't Switch Horsemen Mid-Apocalypse" blog points out yet another example of where nobody actually SAYS that Iraq and Al Qaeda are the same thing, it's just implied.

-B-

 
World Press Review - World Press Wire: "'How is it possible that any man, let alone a Muslim man, does this on the day of al-Hussein?' asked Thaer al-Shimri, a member of the Shiite Al-Dawa party. 'Today war has been launched on Islam.'"

Following up on my earlier post. This has the rumblings of something that could get out of hand. The Middle-East has never been known to be peaceful and they aren't a "forgive and forget" kind of people. Attacks and reprisals are common currency in that region and it's entirely possible that this incident could escalate the situation not only in Iraq but it could spread to neighboring Iran as well.

There is also a great danger that in their grief and anger they could lash out at innocent parties which could cause the problems to esacalate exponentially. It is very important that cooler heads prevail, that the culprits are carefully identified and then dealt with accordingly. Otherwise the already-violent middle-east could be plunged into an even more dramatic period of war and instability.

-B-

 
Yahoo! News - Qaeda Blamed as Attacks on Shi'ites Kill 170 in Iraq: "Leaders of the country's 60 percent Shi'ite majority said the bloodbaths were intended to ignite civil war. The Iraqi Governing Council blamed a Jordanian who Washington says is working for al Qaeda and trying to fuel chaos in Iraq. "

Seems to me that killing Muslims during a religious ceremony is not a good way for Al Qaeda to win sympathy amongst other Arabs and Muslims. As tragic as these killings are it would seem as though these actions could well spark an Arab backlash against Al Qaeda.

-B-

Monday, March 01, 2004
 
Yahoo! News - Bryant Lawyers Eye Accuser's Sex Life: "At the heart of the defense attack is a contention that the 19-year-old accuser had a 'plan' to have sex with Bryant to attract attention from an ex-boyfriend. Bryant's attorneys say injuries found on the woman could have been caused by sex with someone other than the Los Angeles Lakers (news) guard.
Prosecutors have urged the judge to bar any evidence about the woman's sexual past, saying it is not relevant to whether she was raped."


While I am certainly an advocate of victim's rights and while I don't think the lady's sexual past bears much on whether or not she was raped, in this particular case I think it bears directly on the evidence. The physical evidence that is claimed to implicate Bryant in the rape is compromised if, in fact, she had sex with a number of other parties both before and after the rape occurred. How can it possibly be proved that the injuries resulted from her time with Bryant?

This would seem to invalidate the physical evidence which leaves you with just a "he says, she says" in which case I think it's very difficult to convict Bryant of rape.

Let me conclude by saying that I have no idea if he raped her or not. If he did rape her then I hope he gets convicted and goes to prison. If he didn't rape her then obviously justice requires an acquittal. Unfortunately we may never really know for sure.

-B-

 
World Press Review - World Press Wire "The removal of President Aristide in these circumstances sets a dangerous precedent for democratically-elected governments anywhere and everywhere, as it promotes the removal of duly-elected persons from office by the power of rebel forces.

This does raise some difficult questions. Naturally I think we all feel it's abhorent to allow the tyranny of some armed thugs to drive a rightfully elected government from office. Of course, Haiti may be an unusual circumstance where the duly elected government, despite possibly still enjoying majority support (no matter how slim) among the people, did not have the resources to defend itself against these armed rebels. Haiti has no army (ironically it having been disbanded by Aristide himself a few years back) and their police apparently lacked the resources or the will to stand and fight.

There are no easy answers. International support would seem to have been welcome to help defend the duly elected government, but at the same time I'm reluctant to send American troops to get dragged into the civil war of yet another nation.

CARICOM seems to have had strong feelings about it, I wonder why they didn't send troops to support Aristide and try to calm the rebellion?

-B-

 
Salon.com Technology | Will the election be hacked?: "What she found alarmed her. The machines were state-of-the-art products from an Ohio company called Diebold. But the code -- which a friend of Jekot's had found on the Internet -- was anything but flawless, Jekot says. It was amateurish and pocked with security problems."

I'm not questioning her conclusions, but does it strike anybody else that "code a friend found on the Internet" would be assumed to be legitimate? Nowhere in this story, that I saw, did Diebold confirm that the code she found was authentic. A friend of my found some "code" on the Internet that said that if he replied to the message Bill Gates and Disney Corp. would send him $100,000. As a general rule you shouldn't assume anything you find on the Internet - including this blog, I suppose - is authentic or true.

That said this article does paint a very disturbing picture of what's going on in the electronic voting machine business. It's worth a read and hopefully our legislators have read it as well.

-B-


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