Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Alive and well in Moscow

After a long trip from Portland, ME to Boston to NYC and onto Frankfurt and Moscow, I am alive and well. One of my bags was lost, but it was with lufthansa so i might be able to get it. More later,


Monday, August 30, 2004

setting off

I'm heading out at 4.30 tomorrow morning, flying from Portland, ME to Boston, and from Boston onto JFK in New York. I get to rub elbows with republicans and maybe even some of their famous jesus rockers for most of the day in JFK. Flight for Hamburg leaves JFK sometime around 4. From Hamburg I'll be flying on to Moscow and arriving some time tuesday. I haven't really been able to bring myself to check and see when the flight actually arrives.

Anyway, i'm off. Hoping to goad myself into a little sleep (at 10 pm?). Also need to finish packing. I'd like to draw attention, once more, to one of my favorite internet bush games. Ok. до свидания.

Cheerleaders for Truth

Cheerleaders for Truth:
'Did George Bush actually win a Varsity letter in Cheerleading at Yale? Or was this another 'no show' like the National Guard?' current and alumni Yale cheerleaders are asking. 'Why haven't any member of Bush's Cheerleading Squad come forward and verified that he actually attended practice and the games?'

Well played. Visit the Cheerleaders For Truth.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The World's Shortest Blog

The World's Shortest Blog

Excellent. Please just check this out for yourselves. Offers a reward to the first person to pose a certain question to the President in a public forum. Also features a paypal button so you can contribute to the bounty.


a brief apology for the time stamping. it's currently set for +3, as i'll be in Moscow and then Yaroslavl starting next week. Also sorry for all the bush hating today. I'm getting it all outta my system now so I can write a bit about Yaroslavl when I get there. But you've gotta admit that Dole video is priceless.

The Greatest Generation...and it's idiot.

Read the full article and see the video at For those of you who are just joining us, this is considering Bob Dole publicly said that Kerry's wounds were superficial and that he never really spilt blood.
Democrats now have an unlikely ally in their quest to prove that Bush has a history of these kinds of dirty tricks: Bob Dole. No one has done more to lend establishment respectability to the falsehoods being peddled against Kerry than Dole. The former Senate majority leader and 1996 presidential nominee of the Republican Party made several demonstrably false statements about John Kerry's war record this past Sunday on CNN's Late Edition before saying that 'not every one of these people can be Republican liars. There's got to be some truth to the charges.'

But Dole also made another statement that day, one that hasn't been aired until now. Of McCain's charge to President Bush during a 2000 debate 'You should be ashamed' Dole told Wolf Blitzer, 'He was right.' Dole made the remark off-air, while CNN broadcast the Kerry ad called 'Old Tricks,' the one featuring McCain's 2000 debate remarks. The campaign stopped airing it recently at McCain's request.

Well Bob, that's pretty embarrassing. Maybe it's time for you to stick to pharmaceutical endorsements. And maybe it's time to start taking something for your memory.

Carl Lewis on Bush's use of the Olympics

I told my father recently that I was secretly hoping the Iraqi soccer team would lose and lose quickly, and not out of any dislike for the team. Indeed, under any other American administration I certainly would be pulling for them. I had this fear, however, that the Bush team would have half the American south believing that Bush himself coached the Iraqi team. Anyway, here's a little passage I snatched from the Drudge report, which makes me feel better about it all.

Olympic gold hero accuses Bush

Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals in athletics in a record-breaking career, condemned Bush for using the presence of Iraqi and Afghan teams in Athens in a television advertisement to boost his chances of re-election. Criticizing Bush for linking his foreign policy with the two countries being allowed to compete here, Lewis said: 'I felt that was disingenuous. It is funny that we boycotted the 1980 Games [in Moscow] in support of Afghanistan, and now we're bombing Afghanistan,' he told the Athens News yesterday.


Iraq's footballers, who unexpectedly reached the semi-finals here, made clear last week they disliked the advertisement and regarded American soldiers in Iraq as occupiers rather than liberators. Bush was planning to visit the Greek capital and attend yesterday's football final if Iraq had been involved, but they lost in the semi-finals last week. He was also criticized for misusing without permission Olympic symbols, which are protected emblems.

I'll bet I'm not the only one who was guiltily hoping they'd fall short of the gold....right? right? c'mon...

michael moore's open letter to bush

while it's true, i've never been nuts about michael moore, his new open letter to president bush is pretty funny. here's the bottom half, after his 'praise' of bush's war service.
So, to make it up to you, I have written some new ads you can use on TV. People will soon tire of the swift boat veterans and you are going to need some fresh, punchier material. Feel free to use any of these:

ANNOUNCER: "When the bullets were flying all around him in Vietnam, what did John Kerry do? He said he leaned over the boat and 'pulled a man out of the river.' But, as we all know, men don't live in the river -- fish do. John Kerry knows how to tell a big fish tale. What he won't tell you is that when the enemy was shooting at him, he ducked. Do you want a president who will duck? Vote Bush."

ANNOUNCER: "Mr. Kerry's biggest supporter, Sen. Max Cleland, claims to have lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm! How did that happen? One word: Cowardice. When duty called, he was unwilling to give his last limb. Is that the type of selfishness you want hanging out in the White House? We think not. Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush."

Hope these help, Mr. Bush. And remember, when the American death toll in Iraq hits 1,000 during the Republican convention, be sure to question whether those who died really did indeed "die" -- or were they just trying to get their faces on CNN's nightly tribute to fallen heroes? The sixteen who've died so far this week were probably working hand in hand with the Kerry campaign to ruin your good time in New York. Stay consistent, sir, and always, ALWAYS question the veracity of anyone who risks their life for this country. It's the least they deserve.


Michael Moore

P.S. George, I know you said you don't read the newspaper, but USA Today has given me credentials to the Republican convention to write a guest column each day next week (Tues.-Fri.). If you don't want to read it, you and I will be in the same building so maybe I could come by and read it to you? Lemme know...
I admit it. well done, mr. moore. don't make me take it back by being an ass at the RNC.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

GOP Celebrities

I thought this was pretty funny. It first struck me when i heard about moveon's vote for change tour with bruce springsteen, dave mathews band, pearl jam, the dixie chicks, death cab for cutie, and bunch of other bands that i'd at least heard of.
But the sad truth is, the real difference between Democrats and Republicans is that their celebrities are, like, actually famous and ours are, well, singing weirdly erotic songs about Our Savior.

i think i'll be on the plane to russia when the entertainment section of the RNC is on the air. bummer.

Police Confirm Pipe Bomb Blast at Stem-Cell Lab

well this is pretty classy. brought to you by the folks who invented abortion clinic bombing. but hey, it worked to stop abortions right? why not give it a try with the stem cell research. that's top notch work, guys, top notch.
BOSTON (Reuters) - An explosion that blew out a number of windows at a Boston-area laboratory specializing in stem-cell research was caused by a pipe bomb, local police said on Friday. No one was wounded in Thursday's early morning blast at Watertown, Massachusetts-based Amaranth Bio, which says on its Web site its technology is focused on organ regeneration and that it is working on cures for diabetes and liver disorders.

In a statement, Watertown police confirmed the explosion was the result of a pipe bomb and said they believe someone broke into the facility. No arrests have been made, police said. Local radio station WBZ reported that police had identified a "person of interest" in connection with the explosion. Watertown police were not immediately available for comment on the report.

site changes

a few small changes to the site last night and today. the search bar at the top of the screen (not new) can be used to search just this site, and the search box on the sidebar at the right launches to google. cool. also i changed to haloscan for my commenting system. i didn't have any real problems with the blogger one, but haloscan is nice because it's easier for users to use. also all the good blogs seem to use it, and while i don't understand all of their secrets, i sure as hell can copy them. also added a blogroll in lieu of my older blog list. this won't appear much different to you, but let me assure you, it's way cooler than before. if you notice anything quirky or buggy, please let me know. also, as you can see, instead of a benign "comments" link, i now have a verging-on-pathetic plea for comments. it changes to something nicer after the first comment. so you should feel bad and give it a try. all my old comments were canned when i switched systems. ok. that's all for now.

Friday, August 27, 2004

a first

Bush Acknowledges Iraq 'Miscalculation'
WASHINGTON - President Bush said for the first time on Thursday he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" after U.S. troops went to Iraq, The New York Times reported. The insurgency, he maintained, was the unintended result of a "swift victory" that led to Iraqi troops disappearing into the cities and mounting a rebellion.

Bush also told the newspaper he did not believe his Democratic opponent had lied about his time in Vietnam. The group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has aired advertisements challenging John Kerry's account of his service, and claiming Kerry lied about circumstances surrounding his war medals. Kerry has accused Bush of using the group as a front to run a smear campaign. "I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record," Bush said. "No, I don't think he lied."

Public opinion initially favored Bush's decision to go to war but, after months of casualties and chaos, the public is evenly divided on the subject now. In a separate interview with USA Today, Bush said Thursday that he believes he made the right decision to invade Iraq and thinks voters will not deny him a second term even if they disagree with the war.

i'm not really sure what this is going to mean, but it's major news. this is either the first time or one of the very first times that the bush administration has admitted to making a mistake; certainly it's the first time that they've said (and not only 'they,' but bush) that iraq didn't quite pan out. I have no idea whether this will be good or bad for him, but i think it was a smart and well timed move by the bush campaign. it follows a recent pattern - bush makes a small concession once, e.g. saying something positive about kerry's war record, and then scott mclellan uses it as a sweeping answer to inconvenient questions.

so i do think this will help bush, but i also think it's a sign of fear in the reelection campaign. bush has now taken the at least reasonable stance on iraq - that mistakes were made, so he can deflect criticism of the war without actually admitting that the whole damn thing was a mistake. in fact, it's such an utterly reasonable statement, i really don't understand why it wasn't made a long time ago. it's clearly a move to convince undecided voters who are dissatisfied with the war that the war shouldn't in and of it self be reason not to vote for bush. which, of course, it is.

Liberal MP has no apology for calling U.S. missile defence supporters idiots

i guess i'll join the coalition of intolerant zealots too, although i've no real interest in damaging american-canadian relations. i've only met good canadians.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has urged Carolyn Parrish to withdraw her latest anti-American slur but hasn't demanded she apologize. The maverick Liberal MP says she won't back down. Parrish was just stating the obvious when she called missile defence supporters a "coalition of the idiots," she said in an interview. And she'd do it again. "I believe in free speech and I am a colourful speaker. I occasionally will use terms that other people find bold.

"This is too important a debate to be derailed by those kinds of comments," he said after a cabinet meeting Thursday. But Parrish won't be penalized, he said. Critics said that's a failure to rein in an intolerant "zealot" who will further damage Canada-U.S. relations.

Parrish made international headlines last year for publicly muttering: "Damn Americans, I hate the bastards."

well, i never!

in other good news

middlebury finally over-nighted me my visa and passport, so in all likelihood i will be flying to russia on monday. i sold two more textbooks on, including ben rifkin's opus, grammatika v kontekste. now if someone will only buy the damn workbook...

also - another note for russian school comrades, or anyone else going abroad next year. i'm not sure if this is particular to maine, but i was able to vote already even though the state hasn't received absentee ballots yet. in maine at least (maybe in your state too!), i was able to fill out a blank absentee ballot request form or something like that. basically it's a ballot without the candidates' names, so you'll have to remember not only whom not to vote for, and whom else not to vote for, but also john kerry and john edwards. that goes out especially to Матвей Матвеевич и Алина Ктознаетовна in arizona. also Даня in ohio. i'll bet Даня won't see this though. also, be sure to find out ahead of time if you have any other democrats running for national office in your state! tom allen for maine's first district in 2004!

scott rose out.

Manifesto - A press release from PRKA.

Thanks to Scout at And Then... for the link. Check out the full text.

Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.

At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man's penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings.

During Phase IV, just after lunch, we were able to avoid bulldozing a single home. Furthermore, we set, on roads in every city, in every nation in the world, a total of zero (0) roadside bombs which, not being there, did not subsequently explode, killing/maiming a total of nobody. No bombs were dropped, during the lazy afternoon hours, on crowded civilian neighborhoods, from which, it was observed, no post-bomb momentary silences were then heard.... -George Sanders

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

a few changes

in anticipation of my impending departure, i've made a few minor changes. i am in the united states until monday, but i've updated the timestamping and what not to where i'll be in russia. i likely won't be on aim much if at all for the next year, so if you're looking to get a hold of me, email is the safest bet. also posts to this blog are automatically emailed to me, so that works too.

what else. hopefully i'll be able to post pictures from russia, but i'll have to find some place where i can run google/blogger's photo uploading program. also i should mention that this blog is going to take a turn for the more personal, although i'll try to keep it above the standard livejournal material. i've already cast my vote for novemeber 2004, so i think i might step back from our domestic problems and focus more on russia and russian american politics. those are the changes for now. if anyone has any ideas for cool site design changes, those would be appreciated. for those who haven't noticed, this blog is designed from a template with only very minor modifications. for example, someone should probably make me a spiffy header graphic. for example.

Krugman: The Rambo Coalition

I can't remember reading a Paul Krugman column that I didn't want to cut out and show to everyone I know. You should read him now and henceforth. He is my president. Here's an excerpt:
After 9/11, Mr. Bush had a choice: he could deal with real threats, or he could play Rambo. He chose Rambo. Not for him the difficult, frustrating task of tracking down elusive terrorists, or the unglamorous work of protecting ports and chemical plants from possible attack: he wanted a dramatic shootout with the bad guy. And if you asked why we were going after this particular bad guy, who hadn't attacked America and wasn't building nuclear weapons - or if you warned that real wars involve costs you never see in the movies - you were being unpatriotic.

As a domestic political strategy, Mr. Bush's posturing worked brilliantly. As a strategy against terrorism, it has played right into Al Qaeda's hands. Thirty years after Vietnam, American soldiers are again dying in a war that was sold on false pretenses and creates more enemies than it kills.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Mr. Bush - who must defend the indefensible - has turned to those who still refuse to face the truth about Vietnam.

All the credible evidence, from military records to the testimony of those who served with Mr. Kerry, confirms his wartime heroism. Why, then, are some veterans willing to join the smear campaign? Because they are angry about his later statements against the war. Yet making those statements was itself a heroic act - and what he said then rings truer than ever.

-paul krugman

Report: Two Russian Airliners Crash

In an ap news release it was just reported that two airplanes have crashed in Russia, and as of yet there is no word on survivors. assuming no problems with the air travel, i'll be in Russia a week from today.

in any event, keep an eye on this story. simultaneous mechanical failure seems unlikely to me, especially with presidential elections sunday in chechnya. but we'll see.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I don't care if it's close, at least there's hope in a pretty map.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Scream

Edvard Munch's famous painting, "The Scream" was stolen in an apparently well organized attack on the Munch Museum in Oslo. I sure hope they find it.

GOP coordination with the Swiftboat Captains

turns out the bush reelection campaign and the swiftboat smear campaign have been collaborating. I hope the federal election committee does something about it, especially since Bush has become such an obnoxious crusader for campaign finance reform laws. Anyone remember who was supporting campaign finance reform in 2000? I snatched the picture from the AP. No matter how this turns out, it should at the very least be pretty embarrassing for team bush. I wonder how long the mainstream media will report it?

Woman eats 38 lobsters in Kennebunk, Maine

the story

Well, I was out of town for the "World Lobster Eating Contest," but I'm delighted to report that it happened in Kennebunk. I wish I could have been there to do some on-the-scene reporting, but sadly that was not in the cards. Anyway, I'd be out of line if I didn't mention it at all.

The best part, of course, is that Kennebunk (not Kennebunkport) got the byline in the AP news release; in that vein, I'm thinking about organizing the World Squirrel-meat Eating Championships in Old Alewive (part of West Kennebunk, ME) sometime next year. Maybe if I hold it the same weekend we can get some repeat competitors too, and maybe even a two-event maine-eats combined champion? We'll see.

I am sorry to see that a Mainah didn't win it, although not surprised. It would take someone from out of state to want to participate seriously in something like this. We could have at least had that little Japanese guy who eats 50 something hot dogs on cony island once a year? Anyway, congratulations to Sonya Thomas of Alexandria VA, who regardless of her stomach capacity, is probably not feeling so hot today. Maybe the $500 prize will cover the cost of having her stomach pumped?

Friday, August 20, 2004

You mean...Iraq wasn't al-Qaida?

some numbers

WASHINGTON - More than half of Americans, 54 percent, continue to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a program to develop them before the United States invaded last year, according to a poll released Friday. Evidence of such weapons has not been found. Half believe Iraq was either closely linked with al-Qaida before the war (35 percent) or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country (15 percent).

This is why we might still lose the election. The Administration lied, and half of America accepted it as truth because they heard it on the (Fox) news. This isn't a matter of speculation...This Iraq al-Qaida deal. It was a deliberate bid to mislead the American public, straight from Dick Cheney. Why hasn't MoveOn done an ad yet with a message like: "Actually, no. This was never true, and we know that for a fact. for someone who won't lie to you about why we're going to war." I don't see why we couldn't drag this back out into the news and make a big stink about the fact that it was never true. The Administration has already had their war, and the best they can offer now is that Iraq is now a hotbed and a haven for al-Qaida because we turned it from a ruthless secular regime into a ruthless occupational regime and are currently watching it slide toward several mutually hostile ethnic/theocratic regimes. Way to go champs, way to go.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Pentagon breast implant policy

I was not previously aware that the pentagon has a breast implant policy. Not a policy for or against implants, mind you, but rather a policy of giving women free breast implants. "The military [is] offering free plastic surgery, including breast enhancements, to soldiers and their families so military doctors can practice their skills." Now I don't know a lot about military doctoring, so maybe putting silicone implants in healthy women is a useful way to practice emergency reconstructive surgery, but somehow this policy strikes me as ringing a little shallow. I guess you can probably figure out the implications for yourselves. Considering everything else the US military is busy with at the moment, it's hard to get too riled up about some fake boobs. And hey, it's probably better than giving more money to halliburton, since at least with the breast implants the military is getting something for American taxpayers' money. Also, while we're on the topic of Halliburton, why aren't the good old "conservative" Republicans concerned with Halliburton's blatant graft? At some point other Republicans are going to start realizing that lining up behind the President doesn't always serve them, their constituents or their (collective) interests.

they're breaking ranks!

AP News:
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- A top Republican congressman has broken from his party in the final days of his House career, saying he believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified and the situation there has deteriorated into "a dangerous, costly mess."

"I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action," Rep. Doug Bereuter wrote in a letter to his constituents. "Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action," he said.

Bereuter is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He is stepping down after 13 terms to become the president of the Asia Foundation effective Sept. 1. The letter, sent to constituents who have contacted him about the war, was reported by the Lincoln Journal Star in its Wednesday editions.

In 2002, Bereuter had spoken out in support of a House resolution authorizing the president to go to war. President Bush has continued to argue the war was justified because Saddam represented a threat to the United States, his neighbors and the people of Iraq. Most Republicans and top administration officials say the war was justified even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

However, after a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded in early July that intelligence agencies had provided false assessments of the Iraqi threat before the war, the panel's Republican chairman - Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas - said Congress might not have approved the Iraq war had lawmakers known the truth.

Roberts said that without an immediate threat that Saddam had and was trying to get weapons of mass destruction, military action against Iraq still could have been justified on humanitarian grounds but that the battle plan might have been different from a full-scale invasion.

Bereuter said that in addition to "a massive failure or misinterpretation of intelligence," the Bush administration made several other errors in going to war. "From the beginning of the conflict, it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force," he said. "Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess, and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world."

Bereuter said as a result of the war, "our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened."Bereuter declined to answer questions Wednesday about the letter. His spokesman Alan Feyerherm said the congressman "feels the letter speaks for itself."

Lincoln City Council member Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican, is facing off against Democratic state Sen. Matt Connealy to replace Bereuter.

i hope this is the start of something, i hope this is the start of something!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Who needs assault weapons?

kristoff's new op-ed piece

nicholas kristof has a pretty good op-ed in the times about bush's policy on assault weapsons.
These days Mr. Bush still says that he'll sign an extension of the ban if it happens to reach his desk. But he knows that the only way the ban can be extended on time is if he actually urges its passage, and he refuses to do that. So his promise to support an extension rings hollow - it's not exactly a lie, but it's not the full truth, either. Mr. Bush's flip-flop is surprising because he has generally had the courage of his convictions. Apparently he's hiding from this issue because it's so politically charged.
and some interesting statistics, with an important caveat:

While gun statistics are as malleable as Play-Doh, they do underscore that assault weapons are a special problem in America. They accounted for 8.4 percent of the guns traced to crimes between 1988 and 1991, and they are still used in one in five fatal shootings of police officers. If anything, we should be plugging the holes in the ban by having it cover copycat weapons without bayonet mounts, instead of moving backward and allowing a new flood of weapons and high-capacity magazines. The bottom line is that Mr. Bush's waffling on assault weapons will mean more dead Americans. About 100 times as many Americans are already dying from gunfire in the U.S. as in Iraq. As many Americans die from firearms every six weeks as died in the 9/11 attacks - yet the White House is paralyzed on this issue.

security security security!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Kerry's One-Point Plan for America

The Onion | Kerry Unveils One-Point Plan For Better America:
"'If I am elected in November, no inner-city child will have to live in an America where George Bush is president,' Kerry said, addressing a packed Maize High School auditorium. 'No senior citizen will lie awake at night, worrying about whether George Bush is still the chief executive of this country. And no American regardless of gender, regardless of class, regardless of race will be represented by George Bush in the world community.'"

the onion is really solid this week. check it out.

Science, the menace

Yahoo! News - Science, Politics Collide in Election Year: "Top Stories - AP

Science, Politics Collide in Election Year

Last November, President Bush gave physicist Richard Garwin a medal for his 'valuable scientific advice on important questions of national security.' Just three months later, Garwin signed a statement condemning the Bush administration for misusing, suppressing and distorting scientific advice. "
So far more than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel prize winners, have put their names to the declaration.
The scientists' statement represents a new development in the uneasy relationship between science and politics. In the past, individual scientists and science organizations have occasionally piped up to oppose specific federal policies such as Ronald Reagan's Star Wars missile defense plan.


But signers of the declaration include scientists with ties to both Republican and Democratic administrations: Lewis Branscomb, a Harvard University professor, headed the federal Bureau of Standards in the Nixon administration. Russell Train was director of the Environmental Protection Agency under Presidents Nixon and Ford and supported George H. W. Bush during the 1988 presidential campaign. Physicists Neal Lane and John Gibbons were both science advisers to President Clinton.

I guess I really don't feel like talking about this after all. Just compare the administration's behavior on the science front to how it handles security/military intelligence for its political ambitions. I don't understand how undecided voters can't be really turned off by the very obvious pattern of disregard for intelligence to further the administration's ends. That seems a little more serious that the Bush administration's slur that Kerry is a "flip-flopper." I'm trying to think of things that would be more deleterious to our state's wellbeing than misusing/stifling/ignoring intelligence (security or scientific) for the sake of a few interested parties. Even if this hasn't been enough to offend on-the-fence voters, they should be picking up the pattern and maybe even realizing that in a second term it could get worse...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Yahoo! News - Al-Qaida planning major assassination to disrupt US vote

Yahoo! News - Al-Qaida planning major assassination to disrupt US vote

Time for a little news analysis, kids. Because apparently the AP isn't doing it.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Al-Qaida is reportedly planning a high-level assassination against a US or foreign leader to disrupt the US presidential election, that will be set in motion by a new tape from its leader Osama bin Laden. Quoting from unnamed US intelligence officials, The Washington Times said besides the United States, two possible places where the assassination would take place are Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The assassination would signal the launch of more terrorist attacks involving "multiple targets in multiple venues" across the United States, the officials said. They said the "very detailed" plans were found on a laptop computer of suspected Al-Qaida computer expert Naeem Noor Khan, arrested in Pakistan last month. "The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the US economy and to undermine the US election," an intelligence official said, referring to the November 2 presidential election pitting Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry. "The view of Al-Qaida is 'anybody but Bush,'" said the official. The officials said the likely trigger for Al-Qaida's new terrorist campaign would be a new video and audio message from bin Laden, which they expected to surface soon. "The message likely will be the signal for the attack to be launched," one official said.

First things first. Unnamed sources. The NY Times' public editor wrote an excellent piece on the use of unnamed sources. If you're at school you can probably find the article on Lexis Nexis or something along those lines. It's no mystery that the vast majority of the unnamed sources are merely Washington bureaucrats who are making a statement they don't want to be held accountable for. I'm not going to rant on this. This isn't Deep Throat Nixon-era anonymity.

It is not holding our political leaders and our journalists accountable.

For seconds. In this instance, we have an unnamed source making a statement directly to the Washington Times, which should already be setting off bells. That is to say, sooooomebody in Washington has chosen an extremely conservative publication to speak to anonymously, as opposed to, say, a respected news outlet.

The other thing that really set me off about this article was the really insightful comment: "The view of Al-Qaida is 'anybody but Bush,'" said the official. I shouldn't have to spell this one out either. An anonymous official in Washington has said that Al-Qaida's goal is to elect anyone but Bush. id est, a vote for Kerry is a vote for Osama. Yeeeeeah. This is not news, folks. Nothing of value to the American public was reported in this article.

You mean Al-Qaida has thought about killing people? Yes. Yes, they've done that. The article says that specific information was found on this Noor fellow's computer. The information was not provided in the article, which is fine. Intelligence is intelligence, security is security. However. Unless you are an American, Saudi or Yemeni politician, I don't think this article is going to help you much. And on the off chance that you are such a politician, well, you'd better watch out because Al-Qaida doesn't like YOU.

If valuable intelligence has been passed on to American intelligence agencies because of Noor's arrest, I am certainly glad. I would also be glad if we all knew why Noor's cover was blown at just the moment when the press was criticizing the apparently convenient timing or Ridge's last terror spook. That is, why was a valuable Al-Qaida insider's name released to the press while he was still helping American and Pakistani police locate and arrest more Al-Qaida. Would the Bush administration give up a rare turncoat in Al-Qaida to save some skin in an election year? I don't know! I just don't know. I certainly hope not.

So anyway, here's my challenge to you: Start reading the news twice. Unfortunately Fox News and the Washington Times aren't the only GOP mouthpieces. The AP, major papers and major TV outlets spit this stuff out all the time - not necessarily maliciously, but merely through sloppy reporting. Clearly, it's time to start holding our politicians accountable. That's the first step. The second, and equally important step is to start holding our journalists accountable. They're our front line, and when they know people are watching, they work harder to present the real news through all this miscellanea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Yahoo! News - U.S. Marines Say Readying for Final Assault in Najaf

Yahoo! News - U.S. Marines Say Readying for Final Assault in Najaf

Ok. The "final" assault? Whose idea was this? The final assault for how long? Are we going to kill everyone in the city? Or just fighting age men, or what? I've the sneaking suspicion that this insurgency isn't going to end without either A) prosperity, security and independence for Iraq or B) genocide. It's pretty clear that al-Sadr is going to remain a problem since we've made him our problem, so to some extent confrontation here is inevitable. So, assault away guys, you're already there. But at some point we're going to have to realize that "the terrorists" or "the insurgents" are not a finite groups. You can shoot them, blow up their houses, wound and imprison their families, and take over their countries, and they can keep recruiting. The idea of the "final assault" and further the fact that someone somewhere thinks that that makes a modicum of sense scares the hell out of me.

< /middlebury >

I'm coming home tomorrow.

Everything here is done. I still need to pack. The final exam was silly. We watched Lebowski last night instead of studying. It turned out to be the right choice. I don't remember when watching The Big Lebowski was not the right choice.

And so...

After a full year in Middlebury, I'm pretty excited to be getting the hell out of here. We have a bunch of ceremonies and parading tonight, apparently. The Russian school had a relatively bright moment Monday night - most of our class and our two professors went to mister ups to celebrate the imminent end of summer school. We were seated with another Russian class out on the patio. I guess it got a little noisy, but the two tables of people that left looked like they were pretty much already finished. Stuart (one of my teachers) got on a chair and recited a few of his poems. The Russian professor at the other table did a 10 minute passage of Pushkin in response. Some of the singing that ensued was ill advised, but that shouldn't have come as a tremendous surprise... будь со мной? нет. спасибо, нет. БОЛЬШЕ НЕ МОГУ. ради бога, вас никогда снова не будьте со мной. а если я когда-либо слышу эту fucking песню (или тех, кто ее поет) опять, будет слишком скоро. On a lighter note, here is Stuart reciting one of his poems at the bah.

stuart goldberg

In other good news, Alec, the Canadian, (coincidentally featured in the same picture, foreground.) found me a few new Bush games to add to my roll near the bottom of the right column. A little less involved than the original Bush game, but what are you going to do? Nothing. You're not going to do anything. I'm coming home tomorrow.

wow, Alan. wow.

Alan Keyes has really refined his vision since his two stunning presidential attempts. Views like these are going to help him a ton in his underdog race against Barack Obama. I guess the GOP chose him as a concession candidate? Then again, I'm not really sure I understand choosing Keyes even in that case. Maybe the singled him out as one of the few who could make Bush look like a 'compassionate conservative' by comparison now that it's election time again? Here's one little sound-bite I couldn't pass up:

"I would still be picking cotton if the country's moral principles had not been shaped by the Declaration of Independence," Keyes said. He said Obama "has broken and rejected those principles - he has taken the slaveholder's position." -Alan Keyes, US Senate Candidate

Wait if America's moral principles were shaped by the Declaration of Independence, why was slavery permitted under the US Constitution eleven years later? Why weren't women allowed to vote until 1920, and why couldn't blacks vote in most parts of the country until even later? I don't think portraying Obama as the anti-Declaration of Independence candidate is going to get you too far, bud. Eventually someone is going to ask you to explain how, exactly, he "has taken the slaveholder's position," and you're going to be just as baffled as I am. Only you're going to look sillier because you're the one who said it.

I couldn't find this quote in context anywhere. I'm not sure I can even imagine any context in which it would make much sense. If anyone knows where or why this was said, that'd be good. Post it in a comment. I just stole it from a yahoo/AP news article. Anyhow, good luck champ. You've never won an election in your life, and I'm certain that you're going to shine this time around.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


i don't know who's crazier. i'd really like to know them. i like passionate people, generally. in america people only get that crazy about jesus.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

we licked em good

aside from the lives and credibility lost, and aside from the new enemies made, here's a little look at what we could have been doing. that is, if we hadn't gone into iraq to squash the "imminent threat" to america's security.

the bomb

I'm sure glad we had the A-team working on curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction! Way to go guys! And now that we've taken care of Iraq, I think we all know who should be dealt with next...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

a happy 50th birthday to Mr. Robert A. Rose!

two sharp op-eds

two really sharp op-ed pieces in the times. check out bob herbert and paul krugman. And for those of you who hadn't heard of it yet, Bush had one of his greatest slips the other day.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - George W. Bush

Yeah. Our commander in chief. Yeah we all make mistakes. Try and think of the last time you said something this dumb.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Unabashed Racist Wins GOP Primary in Tenn.

Yahoo! News - Unabashed Racist Wins GOP Primary in Tenn.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - An unabashed racist will represent the Republican party in the November election for a congressional seat after a write-in candidate failed to derail his effort.

With 86 percent of the primary vote counted Thursday, write-in candidate Dennis Bertrand had just 1,554 votes compared to 7,671, or 83 percent, for James L. Hart, a believer in the discredited, phony science of eugenics.
In November, the GOP candidate will oppose Rep. John Tanner (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat who has represented the northwest Tennessee district for 15 years.
Hart, 60, vows if elected to work toward keeping "less favored races" from reproducing or immigrating to the United States. In campaign literature, Hart contends that "poverty genes" threaten to turn the United States into "one big Detroit."
"I didn't expect to win," Hart said. "I thought their network would beat my ideas."
He has run for the 8th District seat before and drawn little attention. But people began to notice this time because he was the only Republican on the ballot.
Since the deadline for getting on the ballot had passed, Bertrand, also a Republican, began a write-in campaign, saying he wanted to protect the party's honor.
"I think his beliefs are not beliefs of any party that I know of," Bertrand said Thursday night. "I knew it was going to be a really long shot, but in good conscience, I had to at least give it an attempt."
Bertrand, a financial analyst and former military officer, was on active duty with the National Guard when the deadline to get on the primary ballot passed.
Hart said he will have lots of time to campaign for the general election since he was forced Wednesday to resign from his job as a real estate salesman because of the attention he drew during the primary.
"They didn't say 'You're fired' in exactly those words, but it was pretty clear what they wanted," Hart said.
While campaigning, Hart sometimes wears a protective vest and carries a .40-caliber pistol, but he said he has run into no trouble.
"When I knock on a door and say white children deserve the same rights as everybody else, the enthusiastic response is truly amazing," he said.
If a black person opens the door, he says he simply drops off campaign literature and leaves.

Yeah, this isn't even a joke. You've got a lot to be proud of, America.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

thus spake the boss

on the off chance that you are one of the three or four random people who finds my site on google every day because i mentioned brigitte bardot once...and on the further off chance that you are also undecided about the election in november, and on the truly remote chance that in addition to those things you are a huge springsteen fan, well i have the article for you.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

another great photo

President George W. Bush holds an ear of raw sweet corn that he ate on a visit to the Bettendorf farmers' market during a campaign stop in Iowa, August 4, 2004. Bush is on a three-day campaign swing through middle America in the hotly contested states of Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan. REUTERS/Jason Reed US ELECTION

Iraqis on Tour Banned From Memphis Hall

Yahoo! News - Iraqis on Tour Banned From Memphis Hall

I've already had one good rant today, so i'm just going to let this one speak for itself. I just wanted to draw attention to this AP article. Actually, i'm not even going to make you click the link. The most amazing thing is the delegate's response about Memphis at the end.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Iraqis visiting on a civil rights tour were barred from city hall after the city council chairman said it was too dangerous to let them in. The seven Iraqi civic and community leaders are in the midst of a three-week American tour, sponsored by the State Department to learn more about the process of government. The trip also includes stops in Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. The Iraqis were scheduled to meet with a city council member, but Joe Brown, the council chair, said he feared the group was dangerous.

"We don't know exactly what's going on. Who knows about the delegation, and has the FBI (news - web sites) been informed?" Brown said. "We must secure and protect all the employees in that building."

Elisabeth Silverman, the group's host and head of the Memphis Council for International Visitors, said Brown told her he would "evacuate the building and bring in the bomb squads" if the group entered.

"They are in charge of setting up processes in their country. They have to educate themselves about how it works in this country," Silverman said.

Silverman did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday seeking comment, and it was not clear whether the group had run into trouble elsewhere on their tour. But the delegates seemed in good spirits Monday, after they were able meet with Carol Chumney, the city council member, elsewhere. Shahla Waliy, a 31-year-old native of Baghdad, said she was intrigued by the city's civil rights history.

"I heard there was a kind of majority-minority conflict in Memphis, especially in history," she said. "We have these smaller provinces, and we have majority-minority conflicts in these places."

makes me so damn proud.

Cheney on the soap box

Yahoo! News - Cheney Blames Democrats for Gas Prices
"Cheney said the heart of the strategy for the war in Iraq is to do what the coalition is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq training, supporting and equipping locals to take over the political and security responsibilities for their own country.
'We don't want to leave too soon and leave a mess there,' he said. 'The bottom line is ... to leave behind the kind of government that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists.' "

I guess I must have snoozed off at some point...when were Iraqi terrorists bothering us before the war? You can dicker all you want about how mean Saddam Hussein was. That's fine. No arguments here. Saddam was a real jerk. But if you're going to argue that the whole point of this war was to leave a government where terrorists won't be protected, you might need to take another look at the map. That was Afghanistan silly! You've started a new war since then!!

Cheney's statement doesn't even stand up to the faintest scrutiny, and thanks to the American media, it didn't. There were no Iraq / al-Qaida ties before the war. How much longer can the vice president insinuate or say that there were? It's not being misleading, it's being flat-out dishonest.

While we're on the subject...for those who don't remember,(and apparently there are some who don't remember because they're still running the executive branch of our government), where did 15 of the 19 hijackers come from? Saudi Arabia. And who's buddies with the Saudi royal family? The president? You're right. That's downright peculiar, but it probably doesn't have anything to do with all this.

So...we invaded and toppled a secular (granted, very very bad) regime that was doing a very thorough job of repressing Islamic fundamentalism, opened a new front in the 'war on terrorism' while Afghanistan was still a mess, and all the while we've ignored the (also brutal) Saudi regime? All in the same of American security? Why is this ok? Let me get a few things straight, too. I don't see how the neo-con's were ok with this; the oil we'll get out or Iraq can not possibly be worth the tremendous military commitment we've made (not to mention hurting our ties with Europe, giving bin Laden a new front, and driving the deficit through the roof). At some point the Republicans who still have opinions independent of the White House are going to have to debate seriously whether Kerry better represents the traditional/historical (excluding, obviously, the evangelistic) interests of the republican party. McCain might have lost the primary 4 years ago, but with hindsight it's pretty clear that his administration would have been more "in the mainstream" than Bush's has been.

Furthermore, I'm not advocating war with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, or any where else that is obviously a more likely sponsor of Islamic fundamentalism than Iraq, but I'd gently suggest that burying our military for the foreseeable future in a country where it wasn't needed for American security was, uhm, dumb. So the Republicans can gleefully call Kerry a flip flopper and keep it comprehensible for the NASCAR crowd, but the way I always figured it, when you make a mistake (as the Bush administration's dubious handling of pre-war intelligence allegedly was) you learn from it. If Americans really believe that changing your position when you've been deliberately mislead is a sign of weakness or stupidity, America deserves another four years of Bush and whatever atrocities that come with it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

russian visa application

here are some selected questions from my russian visa application for americans. to their credit, most of this used to be on a separate form for american males...

-Do you have any specialized skills, training or experience related to fire-arms and explosives or to nuclear, biological or chemical activities? If yes, please explain:

-Have you ever performed military service? If yes, indicate the country, branch of service, rank, military occupation and dates of service:

-Have you ever been involved in an armed conflict, either as a member of the military service or a victim? If yes, please explain:

-Have you ever been sick with a communicable disease of risk for the public or suffered a dangerous physical or mental disorder?

-Have you ever abused drugs or been a drug addict?

While it's true that I don't spend a lot of time filling out visa applications, these seem a little unusual. for example, if i had significant experience with nuclear, biological or chemical activities, i suspect i might think twice about detailing them on a visa application. i did very well in mr. johnson's 11th grade chem lab, and even better in biology in 10th grade...even funnier is that i had to get a notarized letter on hospital stationery that certifies that i do not have HIV/AIDS, and another letter certifying that i am in good general health. the good old duma is treating the russian aids crisis like some problem from abroad because it's easier to enforce visa laws than to accept that the real problem is home-grown drug abuse and prostitution...

helpful caption

Victor Daniel Paiva (front), who worked at the Ycua Bolano supermarket, co-owned by his father, Juan Pio Paiva, walks into the district attorney's office in Asuncion, August 2, 2004. The Paivas are being investigated for possible involvement in the deaths of more than 320 shoppers when a fire raged through their market on the outskirts of Asuncion on August 1. Officials are investigating reports that the market's doors were ordered shut during the blaze to prevent looting. (PARAGUAY OUT) REUTERS/Stringer
ohhh! i thought victor was one of the guys behiiiiind him!

Sunday, August 01, 2004


thirty days from now, i'm flying to russia. twelve days from now i'm going home. tomorrow i have three of my five russian school exit exams. tonight is up in the air.