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The Tally Ho

Friday, March 31, 2006

An Economic Interpretation of Quagmire

There's a great piece at Tom Dispatch by Michael Schwartz, which ties the ongoing violence and despair in Iraq to the efforts of the neocons in the Coalition Provisional Authority to administer "shock therapy" privatization to the Iraqi economy in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

I think this is an important part of the equation, although I don't think it's the whole story. For one thing, a low-level ethinic/religious conflict has been raging in Iraq since at least 1991, and this account, like the neocons', does not recognize that the ethnic and sectarian divides in Iraq are real. But the impact of the catastrophe that was the short lived CPA should not be forgotten. In addition to the wrongheaded economic policy administered by neophyte idealists straight out of think tank land, we should also remember the crippling corruption that characterized the CPA's efforts at "reconstruction" - most funds appropriated for this purpose were simply stolen, handed over to multinationals for work which was never done, or are otherwise unaccounted for to this day.

But for all its limitations, it's still a great piece that will enhance your understanding of what's really going on. Here it is. Go check it out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More Blame the Meida; Hannity and Baldwin

If you have watched Fox News Channel at all, you will find this link a bit amusing. Sean Hannity calls up to confront Alec Baldwin on a radio show, and while it sounded like a school yard shoving contest - I was left wondering why more guests don't give it right back to the talking heads. I mean, how often do you flip by a Fox News show and just laugh? Example, Crooks and Liars has this screen shot, Only on Fox. I mean honestly, "Could 9/11 been avoided if Moussaoui was tortured?", with Oliver North as a guest! At least North said torture doesn't work - but still. If you need more reason to not take Fox News seriously, ask Jon Stewart.

Tom Tomorrow weighs in on the Blame the Media Campaign, Shoot the Messenger.

Future Organic Foods

Like many of you, I try to buy organic food as often as I can afford to do so. If not for the health reasons, to support local independent farmers. Today I was pointed in the direction of an article in Business Week, Wal-Mart's Organic Offensive. I realize that as more families want to consume more organic food the market will expand and more farmers will switch to cash in - and thats a good thing if you don't want to pay outrageous prices for apples. Of course Wal-Mart is going to drive down production costs - and of course it is less expensive in China or Brazil. I have pretty much given up on believing there is a realistic alternative at this point. But this is a primary concern
SHIFTING STANDARDS. The worries that the corporatization of organics could lead to more imports aren't unfounded. Cummins estimates that already 10% of organic foods like meat and citrus are imported into the U.S. Silk soy milk, for instance, is made from organic soybeans that are bought in China and Brazil, where prices tend to be substantially lower than in the U. S. Cascadian Farms buys its organic fruits and vegetables from China and Mexico, among other countries (see BW Online, 3/27/06, "Imports From China Aren't Pricier -- Yet").

And large companies have tried to use their muscle in Washington to their advantage. Last fall, the Organic Trade Assn., which represents corporations like Kraft, Dole, and Dean Foods, lobbied to attach a rider to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would weaken the nation's organic food standards by allowing certain synthetic food substances in the preparation, processing, and packaging of organic foods. That sparked outrage from organic activists. Nevertheless, the bill passed into law in November, and the new standards will go into effect later this year.

Organic farmers are straining to meet rising demand, one of the reasons that legislators have been willing to drop certain requirements for organic foods. In the past year, the demand for organic milk outstripped the supply by 10% and created acute shortages. That even prompted organic dairy company Stonyfield Farms to stop producing its fat-free 32-ounce cups of yogurt. Now Stonyfield has resumed its production, but organic milk consumption nationwide is growing 30% annually.

My emphasis added. Weakening the standards to meet the need for 'organic' is not an option unless you accompany it the slogan 'New Weaker Standards!' I know what I can afford to buy and what I can't. If the price goes up to a point where I can't buy it then I won't. But don't fool customers into thinking they are purchasing something that they are not. And that is my fear.

Yankee Stadium; Baseball

Listen to yesterday's Brian Lehrer show about the controversy surrounding the new Yankees Stadium, Out of the Park.

Speaking of the Yankkes, I would be a horrible worker in the GM office due to competency issues, I have a proposal for the Yankees and Angels this coming June. Trade Gary Sheffield for either Kelvim Escobar or free agent Jeff Weaver. Hear me out, the Angels are a pitching rich organization that desperately needs protection for Vlad Guerrero. Is it clear that the Yankees want Sheffield back next season? I think it is obvious that they should go after Barry Zito - then again the let Pettite, Wells, and Clemens go after the 2003 season. As I see it now, the Angels will have a very tough time advancing in the playoffs without a second power hitter while the Yankees will have the same issue because of their lack of starting pitching. Sure, this does hurt the Yankee offense a bit - but without Sheffield they can still have Damon, Jeter, Giambi, ARod, Matsui, Cano, Posada, Williams, and someone like Crosby. Maybe it is a bad idea, but the Yanks need pitching.

The Red Sox have too many outfielders now. They announced that their roster will include Adam Stern (has to stay in the majors 17 more days) and Willie Mo Pena. Dustan Mohr and Willie Harris were left off, while Gabe Kapler is working his way back. Mohr will probably be traded, and I assume they will hold on to Harris as he can also play in the infield. But what happens when Kapler comes back? While none are power hitters, Boston is not without outfielders in AAA. Just when things looked ironed out in the infield with Tony Graffanino going to the Royals, they bring in Hee-Seop Choi - I assume as insurance in case Youkilis ends up as the everyday third baseman if Lowell can't hit. I have a feeling that the April very of the Red Sox may not look like the September version.

Also, Buster Olney writes that the National League stinks this year.
Scouts and talent evaluators will look at the same thing and still often disagree, but they are in harmony on one note this spring: The National League stinks.

"If the Devil Rays were in the NL," a scout said, "I really think they would be a wild-card contender."

That's not to suggest that an NL team can't evolve into a powerhouse during the year, or that a NL team can't win the World Series. But the overwhelming consensus is that the best five to seven teams in the majors reside in the American League, and that while a group of elite teams will fight like rabid dogs to win playoff spots, the NL will be a battle of mediocrity.

This is like the old NFC-AFC disparity of the early '90s, when it seemed that the true test of greatness was to see who emerged from the games played by the 49ers, Giants, Bears, etc.; the Super Bowl was usually a wipeout of some weak AFC team.

It appears that there will be a fine line between being good and bad in the NL this year; solid seasons from one or two key guys -- the X-factor players -- might lift a team from third or fourth to first in its division. I'm curious to see the readers' list of X-factor guys -- not necessarily the stars, but the middling guys who could surprise and lift the NL team. With apologies to Colorado, Arizona, Cincinnati and Florida (teams that are still a few pitchers away from contention), here is my list:

Go to the post to read the rest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I heart Adam Felber

Today he describes how he won the war on terror. That's all, kids. You can go home now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Must Read Post

Elwood's digital opus; On Monsters. I don't even know where to start a comment.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blame the Media

Crooks and Liars has this great piece on CNN with Lara Logan. While not as good, Peter Dau and John Mcintyre discuss the same topic.

Bill Maher discussed religion and torture Friday.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cegelis, Hacket, and the Primary; Even more Kevin Phillips!

I realized that the IL Primary was on Tuesday, and for the first time since moving I didn't pay attention. And why should I, Elwood does a fantastic job at doing that. But over at MyDD, Matt Stoller offered his thoughts on Cegelis and the primary. Read the whole post, but the part that I found most important was this
Now, just so I don't leave anyone out in my post getting everyone angry, let me say that Cegelis proved that Paul Hackett was a coward. Hackett refused to put his choice to the voters, and Cegelis did. And this is because Hackett didn't believe in the people working for him. He didn't believe in the grassroots and the volunteers. He didn't like doing call time, so he blamed party leadership for kneecapping him and refused to organize. And then he went on a bunch of TV shows to announce his decision before coming onto the blogs, and we were his first supporters. Cegelis did the most honorable thing possible. She didn't have Hackett's advantages. She is not nationally known, she didn't have Hollywood throwing money at her. And she had a hell of a lot more firepower arrayed against her, the whole Chicago machine as against a few phone calls from Chuck Schumer. But she organized and gave the finger to the establishment that tried to crush her.

I'm not concerned with the Machine or a Chuck Schumer-Paul Hackett cage match, but I like Stoller's point. I often hear the left and other activists constantly knock the Democratic Party for being corporate DLCers, not being liberal or progressive enough, not speaking for them, being on the outside and all the rest of the tired talk. Yes, our system has not provided a stable and useful third party - but we have primaries, and activists vote in primaries. If you don't like the Democratic Party candidates support an alternative and challenge for open seats or knock off an incombent. The fact that Hackett didn't even try to beat out Sherrod Brown is disappointing. This brings me to the latest Kevin Phillips post over at TPM Cafe (while you are there, check out After the Leeves). Phillips writes
I apologize for a tight schedule and internet-denied Thursday that has kept me from posting, but one last thought. I believe that Democrats and liberals in 2006 stand to have their greatest opportunity since 1992 (which was lost). You will have the substa ntial support of many lapsed Republicans and doubters of Bush conservatism like myself. But I also have the sense that many Democrats and liberals have an instinct for for the capillaries, not for the jugular. If that leads to failure in 2006, there will be a majorprice to pay, not just for theUnited States but in terms of the credibility of your party and movement.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

McCain continues to fall & More Kevin Phillips

Once positioning himself as the Maverick anti-GOP establishment candidate... this is him now, via Josh Marshall. Remember a few weeks ago during a straw poll asking GOP activists to vote for President Bush instead of the other GOP candidates even though he can't run for a third term? Anyway, watch Bill Maher's commentary on McCain during his New Rules segment.

I really try not to repost everything I read from TMP or TMP Cafe, but when they have guest bloggers such as Kevin Phillips, it is hard not to. He writes
This true-believer endgame has been accelerating for many decades, especially since the creation of Israel satisfied the biblical prophecy of the Jewish return to Palestine. As we will see shortly, the growth during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in the numbers of Protestant fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Pentecostals was explosive. Many became Republicans and helped to give the GOP an increasingly religious coloration. Although the stunning sales of the Left Behind series grabbed most of the cultural attention, other books and videos during the late nineties descrived how Saddam Hussein was rebuilding Babylon, the citadel of evil. Still others pondered whether the antichrist was already alive and who he might be. (Saddam himself was a frequent choice.) Nearly one-quarter of Americans polled in 2002 even believed that the Bible had predicted the events of September 11, 2001! While these beliefs were surely a factor in Republican invasion planning, they are difficult for politicians to acknowledge—and they are especially tricky to discuss publicly, so they are instead quietly promoted in clandestine briefings or loosely signaled by phrases and citations that reassure the attentive faithful.

Jim Webb

Jim Webb is running for the US Senate against George Allen in Virginia. Over at TPM Cafe he writes about getting back the Reagan Democrats.
The end result of this voter migration is that the Democrats have struggled in national elections since 1968, having lost much of their support base in the South. Republicans have won 5 of the last 7 presidential elections, and Bill Clinton’s victories owed much to the Perot vote.

It’s time for the Reagan Democrats and others who left the party to understand that their natural base is in the traditional Democratic Party – the party that best gives a voice to those who lack a full voice in the halls of power. To start with, the Republican party of George W. Bush is not the Republican party of Ronald Reagan. Other than with those who identify with the Christian right, it would be wrong to think that the Republicans have the firm loyalty of those who left the Democrats for Reagan. The decline in public education and the outsourcing of jobs has hit this culture hard. Their sons and daughters serve in large numbers in a war whose validity is increasingly coming into question.

It's that Time of Year Again!

Yes, it is baseball season - but also when baseball tell columnists that they are idiots. In Buster Olney's great post on the Pena-Arroyo trade, he mentions his favorite emails,The You-Must-Hate-My-Favorite-Team-So-You're-An-Idiot e-mails. In it he examines Pena's numbers against the NL Central's best pitchers
The You-Must-Hate-My-Favorite-Team-So-You're-An-Idiot e-mails mentioned that since Pena's batting average is .275 against those pitchers, and the average hitter bats .240 against the pitchers I picked, then in fact Pena is adept at hitting good pitching and of course any suggestion otherwise is only possible if you have a double-digit IQ.

Look at the strikeouts again: 53 in 120 at-bats. Project those numbers over a full season of 600 at-bats against that kind of pitching, and Pena would strike out 265 times. Those are numbers that suggest he's overmatched. Rival scouts and good and experienced pitchers love to see those kind of guys in the lineup in important games, because they can work around the hitters in front of them and go for the strikeout. A hitter who strikes out at that rate is like a potential lifeline for a pitcher struggling to work his way out of a rough inning (see Alfonso Soriano in the 2003 World Series).

This goes on, and I won't bore the non-baseball fans with all this. What I don't get is why fans would think that Bronson Arroyo, Boston's seventh starter this spring, would yield an already great player. Cincinnati is in an entirely different position as Arroyo will probably be the Reds second or third starter. Boston traded a pitcher that they would never get the full potential out of the next two years for a young player with natural power who needs more work. Did you remember when David Ortiz was 24? Didn't think so. Still, Arroyo is my favorite Red. Schilling and Wakefield will be back next year with Wells retiring. Trading Clement won't be easy, and if he has a comeback they won't. Thus there is still not room for both Papelbon and Lester in the rotation for 2007.

Speaking of pitching, I think the AL East looks interesting. While Toronto does have the division's best pitcher in Roy Halladay, I'm not sure they have enough to pass the Yanks or BoSox. However, seeing that the BoSox are unsure about the closer situation and the bottom of the order and the Yankees starting pitching is once again suspect - it could be closer than in previous years. The end result may be the AL East not getting the Wild Card - AL Central looks real tough, especially if Bobby Jenks can't locate the strike zone.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Am I Missing Something?

Is it that the Bush Administration never took a civics course or is it that the US Constitution is 'just a piece of paper?' I'm just a bill
For anyone who took fifth-grade social studies or sang "I'm Just a Bill," how legislation turns to law always seemed pretty simple: The House passes a bill, the Senate passes the same bill, the president signs it.

"He signed ya, Bill -- now you're a law," shouts the cartoon lawmaker on "Schoolhouse Rock" as Bill acknowledges the cheers.

But last month, Washington threw all that old-fashioned civics stuff into a tizzy, when President Bush signed into law a bill that actually never passed the House. Bill -- in this case, a major budget-cutting measure that will affect millions of Americans -- became a law because it was "certified" by the leaders of the House and Senate.

After stewing for weeks, Public Citizen, a legislative watchdog group, sued yesterday to block the budget-cutting law, charging that Bush and Republican leaders of Congress flagrantly violated the Constitution when the president signed it into law knowing that the version that cleared the House was substantively different from the Senate's version.

The issue is bizarre, with even constitutional scholars saying they could not think of any precedent for the journey the budget bill took to becoming a law. Opponents of the budget law point to elementary-school civics lessons to make their case, while Republicans are evoking an obscure Supreme Court ruling from the 1890s to suggest a bill does not actually have to pass both chambers of Congress to become law.

Right, so remind me why we need both the House and the Senate? Oh, yeah - that pesky constitution thing again...

"The most effective response to Roe is not to pretend that it does not exist."

More fallout on the South Dakota abortion ban, with some unexpected arguments on both sides:

The National Review argues that the recent SD legislation is actually misguided in the fight to take Roe down. (The title quote is from that article, entitled "Costly Gestures".)

Meanwhile, the DCeiver argues that the best thing PP could do is not present a legal challenge to the SD ban. DCeiver makes a persuasive argument, though in the final analysis I disagree. (See quote above.)

Bitch. Ph.D points out that the NYTimes.com is letting men frame the abortion debate, particularly when they're skeptical/dismissive of choice issues. Perhaps I should be spending more time on the LATimes.com instead.

And leading the category of "strange and outrageous", the Kaiser Daily RH notes that Amazon.com has finally removed the search engine feature that asks, "Did you mean 'adoption'?" when users enter a search for "abortion". First, thanks to them for presenting a bias-less search. Second, why was that "correction" there in the first place?

More Cops, Cameras in NYC

Yesterday I came across this NYTimes article In a Shift, New York Says It Will Add 800 Officers. I am not against the addition of new police officers, and certainly am for reducing crimes of all kinds. Today the NY Daily News is reporting that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has ordered 505 surveillance cams. The results of such surveillance are questionable at best. While the cameras look to be coming from Homeland Security funds, the added police seem to be city funded. We are continuously told that NYC crime rates are lowering - and they are. But remember it wasn't that long ago the Mayor Bloomberg reduced the size of the police force - and crime still continued to drop. But two weeks ago a NY Times article discussed the lack of funding in public housing, thus introducing new fees to residents. I guess my larger point is that we paying a lot attention to security and safety but what about poverty, housing, wages - and other issues that exist in a city as expensive as ours?

Read the latest on Kid Politics, How to spot a baby conservative.

Does anyone STILL take this guy seriously?

Well, I guess if you are in support of Catholic hospitals being able to deny emergency contraception pills for rape victims - then yes. Any guesses? None other than everyone's favorite Fox News Democrat, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Bush-CT). Read Colin McEnroe's piece Cats And Dogs: Of Chaos And A Feline Who's Barking Like Rover. A few highlights
Lieberman at times seems to be working hard to make it almost impossible to vote for him. Consider his remarks about the controversy here in the state over a bill that would force all hospitals to offer emergency contraceptive pills to rape victims.

Lieberman said the Catholic hospitals shouldn't have to hand out the pills and that transportation should instead be provided, for the rape victim, to some other hospital. He said, "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."

Wow. You've got a woman who has been raped. She's shattered, shivering, sobbing, frightened. It's 3 a.m. She just spent hours at St. Somebody for the humiliating and invasive process of evidence collection. Now you're going to hustle her into a cab or shuttle bus to go somewhere else and get a pill that would keep her from bearing the rapist's child because you can't stand to prick the conscience of a hospital administrator?...

...As much as I admire Lieberman's willingness to stand on principle, I've noticed an arrogance creeping in. It's one thing to support the war and the president, which he does. It's another to say, as he did last year, that those who do not parrot his support are unpatriotic.

"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril," Lieberman said.

Does anyone take this guy seriously?

I'm serious - who is this guy? He is a barking lunatic! Who am I speaking of? Yup, you guess it, Pat Robertson. From Crooks and Liars: Robertson hearts David Horowitz. He refered to faculty memembers as 'killers.' Were you beaten into submission or brainwashed by professors during your university studies?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Favorite Places


This is a picture of one of my favorite places to visit - County Dorset in England. I visited Dorset for the first time this past summer. This past weekend I was in New Orleans for the first time since Katrina - and it was more depressing than I imagined. There has always been a lot to enjoy about New Orleans, and I am happy to report that many people I met are dedicated to staying in New Orleans and wanting to see the rebuilding to be fair and equitable - but regardless it is heart breaking. The politics is something to keep an eye on, and this only a taste of BushCo speak.
Two weeks before, the administration had rejected Louisiana's housing recovery plan. Mr. Powell's own idea of housing aid excluded thousands of homeowners, many of them poor, who lived in the flood plain but did not have flood insurance when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Asked about those who had counted on federally built levees to protect them, Mr. Powell, a wealthy man from the dry Texas Panhandle, noted that he had been responsible enough to buy flood insurance for his home in Amarillo.

The members of the Louisiana Bankers Association were not won over. Nor was The Advocate, Baton Rouge's newspaper, which demanded Mr. Powell's dismissal, calling him a "flint-souled" bean counter whose only concern was "guarding the money."

Those with a more charitable view, Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, among them, complained that he lacked the authority to be effective, and some critics wondered if he was simply another presidential crony.

See, blame poor people for not being responsible. Let's ignore poverty, roots of poverty, and the harsh realities of the society we will in and divorce yourself from reality. In any case, I can't really explain it - but these two places felt worlds apart.

Also watch Lou Dobbs on Bill Maher and Lou Dobbs with Kevin Phillips. Speaking of Kevin Phillips, read Alan Brinkley's review of 'American Theocracy.' Lastly, go read the Financial Times piece by Hywel Williams titled How the City of London came to power. Here is a bit
The ability of the British political elites to cut a good financial deal as a result of their power arrangements has been a constant theme. There is a direct line of crooked dealing that connects the church lands grabbed by early 16th-century politicians because of the Protestant reformation with the share options and directorships ­garnered by their late 20th-century successors because of the Thatcherite ­privatisations.

The hegemony of today's City elites is, however, very different from the eminence of their predecessors, who had to compete and coexist with other forms of elite power. Britain's once self-regulating professional elites have had the heart ripped out of them by the benchmarking, target-focused state and by a bogus consumerism, with its empty jargoneering about "customer-shaped service delivery".

This is as true of doctors and of dons as it is of teachers, soldiers and policemen. In the process, Britain has lost its independent-minded public service elite. City lawyers and accountants now derive their status from the firms they work for rather than from their membership of a professional body.

WBC Champs and the Arroyo Trade

Did anyone catch last nights game between Cuba and Japan? Personally, I thought it was a great game. I stayed up to watch it, and to me it was every bit as exciting as an MLB playoff game. Due to the length of the major league baseball season I'm not sure there is ever a good time for the WBC, but it sure beats the Olympic Games version. In any case, I am glad that he US did the right thing and allow team Cuba to play - making it a true World Baseball Classic.

So Bronson Arroyo's agent was right, taking a 'home team' discount made him the most desired extra pitcher on Boston's roster. Is this a bad move? From the standpoint that Boston fans could view Arroyo as they view Wakefield - a lifer, willing to pitch in the rotation or pen and never have injuries - then yes, it is a bad move. From the standpoint that counting Jon Lester Boston had 8 starters, none with a history of arm or shoulder injuries while lacking both a fourth outfielder and power in the minor league system - then yes, it was a good move. In the end Boston has too many pitchers and Cincinnati has too many outfielders. Thus, a natural move. Plus, I think Arroyo will do well in the NL Central.

Boston didn't really want to trade David Wells for three reasons. Firstly, his lifetime record in Fenway Park is outstanding. Secondly, he is the only left handed starter. Thirdly, he is a big game pitcher. Boston couldn't really move Matt Clement to the Reds as he costs way too much. Earlier I wondered if Boston was going to try and move Clement and Nixon to Philadelphia for a prospect and Bobby Abreu. But this deal seems better as the Sox potentially have Nixon's replacement in the fold and if Lowell or Youkilis does not work out Aubrey Huff is a free agent at the end of the season. The only downside I see is if two major injuries occur to the Red Sox rotation. I still think the biggest question mark is the health of Keith Foulke - and if he isn't ready to go will Francona go with Hansen or Papelbon to close? What this trade also tells me is that Boston is not happy with their potential line-up offensively and want more options.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ugh: Why money matters in this city

I'm a big, big fan of Eric Zorn's weblog, opinionated though he may be, and every time I take a few weeks off from it I find I've missed things that should be required reading for every member of my fair city. This week it's about how being rich can get you more polite treatment while they're manhunting you. No kidding. I was talking with my awesome spouse about if and why Americans perceive Chicago as qualitatively different, and we had a great discussion over what we were and what we may become. Do you think, reading this, that in other parts of the country people would read this and say, "Egh, Chicago."? Or would they perceive that this could be their town, too?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Daily Show Hackett Link and Boston Legal Link

Here is the Daily Show's Paul Hackett piece with Ed Helms. Also check out this link to a Boston Legal segment, both from One Good Move.

For (and about) the girls

All of you counting on me to bring you the latest SD news? I ain't got it. There is no March for Women's Lives this year, at least not that I know about. Those of you who are praying folk, please remember that keeping Stevens on this earth and motivated to adjudicate is our highest priority. Meanwhile, Wampum educates us on what the lack of a health exception means in real life. Go read; it's quick.

I've been spending time in high schools (did you know that class there begins at 8 am??) and have been pleasantly surprised to find that this year, all my students can read English. It must be because of that terrific reading material they've got nowadays. Naomi Wolf reviews, in this NYTimes article, an example of recent young adult fiction, and how it glamorizes the materialism and self-absorption* we generally claim to abhor about adult media culture. Be very afraid.

Neither here nor there: this article, "Silent Struggle", presents a new resource-competition theory of pregnancy as it relates specifically to pre-eclampsia. When I have more energy, perhaps I will get cool and find the real science article. Til then, it's secondary sources for you!
_____________
*I love that I, too, can rail about self-absorption while posting to my third blog tonight. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week.

Stewart & Colbert

For those of you who don't work as late as I do, thus have a life - did you see the report by Ed Helms with Paul Hackett on the Daily Show? Helms played a Democratic consultant advising Mr. Hackett to be a bland and not take a stand. Its hilarious and unfortunately true. I'm sure One Good Move will have it tomorrow and it comes on a day when Sen. Feingold correctly states on Faux News, err Fox (link from Think Progress), that
I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues. … [Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists.

I like Russ, and I miss Paul Wellstone.
Colbert's interview with Keith Olberman was pretty good as well.

Monday, March 13, 2006

SAS Soldier Quits and More Links

Sean Rayment in the Telegraph writes, SAS soldier quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq
He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.

The decision marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.

It immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary, eight-year career in which he also served with the Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan.

Peter Baker of the Washington Post writes, Senior White House Staff May Be Wearing Down
Of all the reasons that President Bush is in trouble these days, not to be overlooked are inadequate REM cycles. Like chief of staff Card, many of the president's top aides have been by his side nonstop for more than five years, not including the first campaign, recount and transition. This is a White House, according to insiders, that is physically and emotionally exhausted, battered by scandal and drained by political setbacks.

This may be, but I doubt that the White House troubles are due to lack of REM sleep. The decisions on Iraq, declaring the President infallible, the Katrina response, Iran having nukes, major budget problems - it seems to me that he needed a new staff long ago.
Michael R. Gordon writes for the NY Times, Dash to Baghdad Left Top U.S. Generals Divided
From the first days of the invasion in March 2003, American forces had tangled with fanatical Saddam Fedayeen paramilitary fighters. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, who was leading the Army's V Corps toward Baghdad, had told two reporters that his soldiers needed to delay their advance on the Iraqi capital to suppress the Fedayeen threat in the rear.

Soon after, General Franks phoned Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of allied land forces, to warn that he might relieve General Wallace.

The firing was averted after General McKiernan flew to meet General Franks. But the episode revealed the deep disagreements within the United States high command about the Iraqi military threat and what would be required to defeat it.

The dispute, related by military officers in interviews, had lasting consequences. The unexpected tenacity of the Fedayeen in the battles for Nasiriya, Samawa, Najaf and other towns on the road to Baghdad was an early indication that the adversary was not merely Saddam Hussein's vaunted Republican Guard.

The NYT Editorial, The Death of the Intelligence Panel, is spot on.
The Senate panel has become so paralyzingly partisan that it could not even manage to do its basic job this week and look into President Bush's warrantless spying on Americans' international e-mail and phone calls. Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman, said Tuesday that there would be no investigation. Instead, the committee's Republicans voted to create a subcommittee that is supposed to get reports from the White House on any future warrantless surveillance.

It's breathtakingly cynical. Faced with a president who is almost certainly breaking the law, the Senate sets up a panel to watch him do it and calls that control. This new Senate plan is being presented as a way to increase the supervision of intelligence gathering while giving the spies needed flexibility. But it does no such thing.

The Republicans' idea of supervision involves saying the White House should get a warrant for spying whenever possible. Currently a warrant is needed, period. And that's the right law. The White House has not offered a scrap of evidence that it interferes with antiterrorist operations. Mr. Bush simply decided the law did not apply to him.

The piece by Times reporter Janny Scott titledNew York Asks Help From Poor in Housing Crisis is rather eye opening if you aren't aware the state of urban public housing. Also, check out Elizabeth Warren's report over at TPM Cafe, Multiplying the Risks. Lastly, Temple men's basketball coach John Chaney retired today and Adrian Wojnarowski adds more. I would check the Philly media for more coverage than a national one like ESPN. I will always remember Chaney's match-up zone and some of his great teams in the past. Can you imagine the Atlantic 10 without him? My bet is that the next coach will be U Penn's Fran Dunphy. If not, I bet it will be someone with Philly roots.

Sorry for the unoriginal content, but I'm busy!

Friday, March 10, 2006

We Miss you Already

NPR: O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Suppressing the Body Count

Read Erin Knickmeyer's piece in Washington Post this morning, Official Says Shiite Party Suppressed Body Count.
BAGHDAD, March 8 -- Days after the bombing of a Shiite shrine unleashed a wave of retaliatory killings of Sunnis, the leading Shiite party in Iraq's governing coalition directed the Health Ministry to stop tabulating execution-style shootings, according to a ministry official familiar with the recording of deaths.

The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because he feared for his safety, said a representative of the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, ordered that government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings...

...Abductions and killings of Sunni Arab men, usually by gunshots to the back of the head, have occurred with increasing frequency over the past year and are widely blamed on government-allied Shiite religious militias and death squads alleged to be operating from inside the SCIRI-dominated Interior Ministry. In particular, Shiite militias have been accused of abducting and executing large numbers of Sunni men in the days immediately following the Feb. 22 destruction of the Askariya mosque, a revered Shiite shrine in the northern city of Samarra.

After a lull in recent days, abductions and killings flared again in Baghdad on Wednesday. Police in west Baghdad found a minibus that contained the bodies of 18 bound and strangled men, and 50 employees of an Iraqi security firm were kidnapped on the east side of the city.

I think it speaks for itself.

Items

A couple things that caught my eye this morning. Apparently the GOP Senate has agreed to give the administration 45 days of wiretapping before going to a court - and read the 'oversight.' The article points out Sen. Specter may not be happy about it, but he seems to eventually back the administration after making critical statements. Read Sen. Rockefeller's comments. He writes “As one of the few members of Congress who have been briefed on this program, I can honestly say the worst mistake we could make at this juncture is to legislate or attempt to amend FISA without having all the facts.” Also check out Big Brother is Listening from the April Atlantic. Here is a tease
Such facts worry Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who worked for the NSA as an intern while in law school in the 1980s. The FISA “courtroom,” hidden away on the top floor of the Justice Department building (because even its location is supposed to be secret), is actually a heavily protected, windowless, bug-proof installation known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. “When I first went into the FISA court as a lowly intern at the NSA, frankly, it started a lifetime of opposition for me to that court,” Turley recently told a group of House Democrats looking into the NSA’s domestic spying. “I was shocked with what I saw. I was convinced that the judge in that SCIF would have signed anything that we put in front of him. And I wasn’t entirely sure that he had actually read what we put in front of him. But I remember going back to my supervisor at NSA and saying, ‘That place scares the daylights out of me.’”

Lamberth bristles at any suggestion that his court routinely did the administration’s bidding. “Those who know me know the chief justice did not put me on this court because I would be a rubber stamp for whatever the executive branch was wanting to do,” he said in his speech. “I ask questions. I get into the nitty-gritty. I know exactly what is going to be done and why. And my questions are answered, in every case, before I approve an application.”

It is true that the court has been getting tougher. From 1979 through 2000, it modified only two out of 13,087 warrant requests. But from the start of the Bush administration, in 2001, the number of modifications increased to 179 out of 5,645 requests. Most of those—173—involved what the court terms “substantive modifications.”

This friction—and especially the requirement that the government show “probable cause” that the American whose communications they are seeking to target is connected in some way to a terrorist group—induced the administration to begin circumventing the court. Concerned about preventing future 9/11-style attacks, President Bush secretly decided in the fall of 2001 that the NSA would no longer be bound by FISA. Although Judge Lamberth was informed of the president’s decision, he was ordered to tell no one about it—not even his clerks or his fellow FISA-court judges.

Also from the Times, 'Brokeback Couples.'

It looks like Mr. Abramoff is talking, writes TPM Muckraker, and here is the Vanity Fair article.

Today on the Brian Lehrer Show they were discussing the potential impact of South Dakota law banning abortion. But something caught my ear - the guest, Slate's Emily Bazelon, made some interesting comments. Most interesting was how if a woman's right to choose is rejected by a future court on the grounds that it is not a right of privacy, the 14th Amendment would be argued on the grounds that it interferes with ones religious faith - that banning abortion could be viewed as the government choosing one religion over another. The example given was Orthodox vs. Reform Judaism. There were a few good calls as well. Long live Justice Stevens!

Pam files this under "Republicans," "bad ideas"

Via Pam at Pandagon: the National Republican Senatorial Committee is sending out a fraudulent-sounding "survey" and money grab. To read a first-hand account and see copies of the "survey", check out BlueNC. Even the opt-out option is a scam:

Your Survey is REGISTERED IN YOUR NAME ONLY and MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR upon completion of this project. If you decide not to represent your local voting district in this important Republican Senate Leadership Survey - please RETURN THE SURVEY DOCUMENT - AT ONCE - IN THE ENVELOPE PROVIDED.
...
No. I do not wish to particiapte in the Survey, nor do I wish to make a donation to help the Republican Party. I am returning my Survey Document, along with a contribution of $11 to help cover the cost of tabulating and redistributing my Survey.

This is built to look like a governmental document. (Which might be confusing, because the government also wants your money. Try to keep up.) How many checks for $11 do you think they have so far received?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Women's work

Shall I mention that this is International Women's Day and also the day when the fem-libs Blog Against Sexism? Oh, I guess I did. Here are my highlights so far: Twisty provides a great roundup, and manages to editorialize without too many four-letter words. (I love her blog every day, though the understandable rage and sailor-iffic swearing is sometimes a shock to one's system.) WBEZ had a paid dedication this morning on the way to work from a guy named Paul to "all women everywhere" in honor of this day. I got a little misty-eyed. Damn hormones. This was quickly followed by a "Morning Edition" report on the effort in NH to change child support structures to reduce payments for non-custodial parents who spend lots of time with their children. This report made me cry for real, because although it seems sensible on its face, it continues to reduce time with children to an economic formula, where time spent per hour is supposed to cost (or earn) a certain amount of money. Women know, of course, that time spent with children costs money, but I've never heard women clamoring for billable hours. The idea of tracking visit time and applying it to a "total child cost" makes me heartsick. Children are people, not a project or an investment. And you have to spend money on them, because they are family and sometimes you have to spend resources to take care of people you care about. The basic argument of this re-structuring is that it would be terrible if some non-custodial parent "overpaid" and provided too much money or too much time with his kid (yes, they're mostly male parents we're talking about). Can you EVER spend too much time with a young kid? If parents purchase quality stuff for their kids instead of cheap bare-minimum clothes from Wal-Mart, is that a bad thing? And if YOU decide to buy a nice bicycle for your kid, does that mean you should get to take it out of the child support check? Absolutely not. Parenting to the minimum acceptable standard is what too many folks are doing already, and I don't want to see NH write into the law that if you pay $X you don't have to spend time with your kid, or if you spend X time you don't have to pay additionally for him. It just doesn't work like that.

Everyone needs to go watch the progress of Ema at The Well-Timed Period, as she spots incorrect info at the National Institute of Health about the morning-after birth control pill, calls them on it, and receives the response that "this is handled by another company, we'll have to talk to them and check it out." It's nice that they replied to her, but lame that they would post information from an outside agency without doing any fact-checking first. Aren't they supposed to be, like, health experts or something?

That's all for now, as I must go educate more young minds on the mystery of the menstrual cycle. A woman's work is never done.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Huff Post: Howie Klein on Lieberman

Click here for the whole piece at the Huffington Post, but I wanted to post part of the text here, a piece good for discussion and why so many are supporting Ned Lamont's primary challenge to Joe Lieberman later this year. I hope Lamont wins.
One thing I always noticed about people who are naturally predisposed towards the political right is that they inevitably seem to think that when they are called on their crap they can declare, as if by fiat, that reality is something more malleable than it is. In his letter, Dan attributes "slanderous statements [to me] about Lieberman being a racist and a homophobe. Those accusations are not open to debate."

Is that so? Let's debate them anyway.

Now I never called Dan's old boss a racist, of course (Dan, who prides himself at being a communications expert, made that up to make a point). What I said was that Lieberman "made racism quasi-acceptable by framing it as being against unfair affirmative action." Dan points out that in 1963 Lieberman "marched with Martin Luther King, hardly the work of a racist" (Dan's strawman again). Well today Joe Lieberman marches with George W. Bush. And between his heady student days in the 60's and his taking up residence deep in Bush's posterior, he had been marching with William F. Buckley, Rick Santorum, Lynn Cheney and Bill Bennett.

I'm not an African-American. But I'll invoke Dr. Manning Marable, Professor of History and Political Science and the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, as he assessed what Lieberman's addition to the Gore ticket meant for African-Americans in 2000:

I looked at the staged New York Times photograph of Senator Lieberman standing before the meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus at the recent Democratic National Convention. Standing o either side of Lieberman are Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Only hours before, Herman and Waters had engaged in a spirited public disagreement over the selection of Lieberman. In the photo, Herman looks relieved, and Waters appears sad. Perhaps Maxine reflects the grim realization of other black Democrats, who are now forced to campaign for candidates and a party platform they privately oppose. All they are left with is to frighten black voters to the polls with the spectre of a Republican victory.

They don't realize the obvious: the Republicans have already won. By accepting Lieberman onto the ticket, as NATION writer David Corn states, Gore "has accepted -- or surrendered to -- the Bush terms of battle." Bush, Cheney, Gore and Lieberman, in the end, only reflect variations of the same bankrupt political philosophy.

Anyway, read the whole piece. I am sure we will hear endlessly about the next few months.

Era of State Activism Cont.

This is a piece by Nathan Nemwan over at TPM Cafe is about how states have changed a WalMart national policy - this one dealing with the Illinois Governor and Connecticut A.G. Newman's point is
This victory reflects the power that states wield to change the policies of even the largest company in the country. This is also reflected in Wal-Mart's scrambling in recent weeks to upgrade health benefits for its employees as states move increasingly to require large companies to provide health benefits. And in many cases, workers denied overtime or minimum wages by Wal-Mart have used more favorable state labor laws to bring lawsuits against the company-- putting pressure on the firm to improve conditions.

The lesson from the various Wal-Mart campaigns is clear-- progressives don't have to wait for action on Capitol Hill to fight for and win national victories.

There was a Yahoo article that no longer exists from December 2003 which claimed that it will be the states bringing progressive reforms, not the federal government. That article, I believe, was based on Elliot Spitzer's job as New York A.G., as well as Lisa Madigan of Illinois.

Monday, March 06, 2006

OTM: Revisiting Postman

If you did not catch OTM's story this week titled "Re-musing Ourselves" - I suggest giving it a listen or read the transcript tomorrow. Also, check out Jay Rosen's Press Think.

36% in Indiana; Duh

Indiana has figured something out that Joe Lieberman apparently hasn't yet, Mr. Bush is not doing a good job according to Hoosiers.
Robert Schmuhl, a professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame, called the poll numbers a "very revealing" portrait of a presidency gone awry.
"Since his inauguration to the second term, we have seen something akin to a reverse Midas touch," in which everything Bush handles turns not to gold, but lead, Schmuhl said.

Though I am not sure Americans know just how bad these people have been. As Lewis Lapham wrote in the Haper's article below regarding his article "The Case for Impeachment"
Although the abuses and usurpations are self-evident, obvious to anybody who takes the trouble to read the newspapers, the Bush Administration makes no attempt to conceal the Object evinced in the design of its purpose, because it counts on the romanticism as well as on the apathy of an American public reluctant to recognize the President of the United States as a felon. Who wants to believe such a thing, much less acknowledge it as a proven fact?

Also, Andrew Lehren and John Leland article in the New York Times, "Scant Drop Seen in Abortion Rate if Parents Are Told"
For all the passions they generate, laws that require minors to notify their parents or get permission to have an abortion do not appear to have produced the sharp drop in teenage abortion rates that some advocates hoped for, an analysis by The New York Times shows...

...But some workers and doctors at abortion clinics said that the laws had little connection with the real lives of most teenagers, and that they more often saw parents pressing their daughters to have abortions than trying to stop them. And many teenagers say they never considered hiding their pregnancies or abortion plans from their mothers.

"I would have told my mother anyway," said a 16-year-old named Nicole, who waited recently at a clinic in Allentown, Pa., a state that requires minors to get the permission of just one parent. Nicole's mother and father are divorced, and it was her mother she went to for permission to have an abortion.

What amazes me is that someone actually thinks a parental notification law would decrease either pregnancy or abortion rates among teens. I hope Trope comments on this, but it seems to me just as silly as saying that the death penalty decreases murder rates.

Monday Baseball News: Wells Stays in Boston

As a fan of major league baseball, specifically the AL East and the Central Divisions, I thought I would provide a bit of my geekdom over the next several weeks. This article about David Wells resciding his trade demand is actually big news - but it also creates a problem for Terry Francona and the General Manager Theo Epstein.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Apparently, those waves of San Diego can wait a year for David Wells. The ageless left-hander, who asked the Red Sox to trade him to a West Coast team as far back as October, reversed his stance on Sunday, saying that he'd be fine with spending what is likely to be the final season of his entertaining and successful baseball career in a Boston uniform.

For as much as Wells loves to hop on his surf board on blissful San Diego mornings with his kids, he also loves to win.

"I'm just looking at the situation we have here. I think we're a better team this year than we were last year," said Wells, who won 15 games for the Red Sox in 2005. "If you're going to go out on top, you might as well do it with a team you feel good with."

This is a luxury, and a problem. The Red Sox have seven big league starters, none of the them have a history of arm problems – and with the exception of Wells, none are slow this spring training. This surely means that once the early season rest days are over, Terry Francona will carry twelve pitchers: Schilling, Beckett, Wells, Wakefield, Clement, Arroyo, Papelbon, Riske, Seanez, Tavarez, Timlin, and Foulke. This means that Triple A will consist of Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, Manny Declarmen, and Lenny DiNardo – all of top prospects right below the bigs. This also means Dustin Pedroia will also be in the minors. This pitching staff is young, old, in their prime, and with arms below in case of injury or flexibility. The three biggest questions I have about the Red Sox this years are: 1) is Keith Foulke 100%? If not, this flexibility allows Francona use Papelbon or Hansen as the closer – or make a trade closer to the deadline. The Dodgers have two closers in the final year of contracts and look as if they could use one more starter. 2) The outfield. Kapler will not be back for sometime, and Boston continues to platoon Nixon in right. A Jay Payton type player is not available for the job either. Boston has brought in Dustin Mohr for the role this year. Nixon is in the last year of his contract, and I can see Boston sending him with Clement to Philadelphia for a prospect and Bobby Abreu. 3) What will Lowell, Youkilis, and Gonzalez give offensively at the bottom of the order?

More later...

Update: Article from Boston Globe states
But assuming Wells is healthy -- ''My knee is still hurting, I'm not getting any younger, my arm feels great and the rest of me is subpar" was his self-assessment -- it appears more likely that the Sox will hold onto Wells while fielding offers for Matt Clement and perhaps Bronson Arroyo. Ideally, this is the rotation the Sox would like to open the season with: Curt Schilling, Wells, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Jonathan Papelbon. In that scenario, Arroyo goes to the pen as a swingman, and Clement is pitching in another uniform.

Trading Clement and Wells retiring really doesn't change the outlook for the rotation and staff in 2007.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

From Harpers, with Pic

How many of you read Harper's? Well, the Harper's index may be worth the yearly $15 subscription price! Here are a few choice ones:
Average percentage decline in U.K. child injuries during weekends when a new Harry Potter book is released: -46

Percentage change since 1995 in the number of U.S. fantasy books about dragons: +91

Number of the 193 "laughing episodes" during Supreme Court arguments last term that were caused by Antonin Scalia: 77
Number caused by Clarence Thomas: 0

Minimum number of sex offenders who evacuated during Hurricane Katrina and cannot be accounted for: 2,000

Minimum number of times Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld's vacation home: 25

Percentage of U.S. House contests in 2004 that were decided by few than 10 percentage points: 5

Number of U.S. counties where more than a fifth of "residents" are prison inmates: 21
Number of these that are in Texas: 10

A list of things

Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post write on top Democrats questioning DNC Chair Howard Dean's spending.
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) challenged the former Vermont governor during a session in Pelosi's office, according to Democratic sources. The leaders complained about Dean's priorities -- funding organizers for state parties in strongly Republican states such as Mississippi -- rather than targeting states with crucial races this fall.

Neither side was willing to give ground, according to several accounts of the meeting. Dean argued that his strategy is designed to rebuild the party across the country, and that he had pledged to do so when he ran for party chairman. Reid and Pelosi countered that if Democrats squander their opportunities this year, longer-term organizing efforts will not matter much.

Democratic congressional leaders are particularly worried because the Republican National Committee holds a huge financial advantage over the DNC. One congressional Democrat complained that Dean has -- at an alarming rate -- burned through the money the DNC raised, and that Republicans may be able to swamp Democrats in close races with an infusion of RNC money.

I agree with Howard Dean on this one. Mrs. Pelosi is an improvement from Mr. Gephardt and I think Mr. Reid is a large improvement over Mr. Daschle, but the Democratic Party cannot continue to run elections in a handful of places and continue to think they can have a majority. Every seat needs to be challenged. Every state needs a Democratic infrastructure. Mississippi will probably always be more conservative than Illinois or New York, but that shouldn't matter. Democrats have to be a national party.

Check out this New York Times editorial about Bush Administration policy failure towards Iran and the rest of the "axis of evil".
During the period before the Iraq invasion, the president gave lip service to the idea that Iran and Iraq were both threats to American security. But his advisers, intent on carrying out their long-deferred dream of toppling Saddam Hussein, gave scant thought to what might happen if their plans did not lead to the unified, peaceful, pro-Western democracy of their imaginings. The answer, though, is now rather apparent: a squabbling, divided country in which the Shiite majority in the oil-rich south finds much more in common with its fellow Shiites in Iran than with the Sunni Muslims with whom it needs to form an Iraqi government.

Washington has now become dangerously dependent on the good will and constructive behavior of Shiite fundamentalist parties that Iran sheltered, aided and armed during the years that Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. In recent weeks, neither good will nor constructive behavior has been particularly evident, and if Iran chooses to stir up further trouble to deflect diplomatic pressures on its nuclear program, it could easily do so.

There is now a real risk that Iraq, instead of being turned into an outpost of secular democracy challenging the fanatical rulers of the Islamic republic to its east, could become an Iranian-aligned fundamentalist theocracy, challenging the secular Arab regimes to its west.

The New York Times also has a nice piece by Andrea Elliot titled "A Muslim Leader in Brooklyn, Reconciling 2 Worlds".
"America transformed me from a person of rigidity to flexibility," said Mr. Shata, speaking through an Arabic translator. "I went from a country where a sheik would speak and the people listened to one where the sheik talks and the people talk back."

This is the story of Mr. Shata's journey west: the making of an American imam.

Over the last half-century, the Muslim population in the United States has risen significantly. Immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa have settled across the country, establishing mosques from Boston to Los Angeles, and turning Islam into one of the nation's fastest growing religions. By some estimates, as many as six million Muslims now live in America.

Leading this flock calls for improvisation. Imams must unify diverse congregations with often-clashing Islamic traditions. They must grapple with the threat of terrorism, answering to law enforcement agents without losing the trust of their fellow Muslims. Sometimes they must set aside conservative beliefs that prevail in the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam.

Meanwhile in France, Dominique de Villepin has ruled out the privatiztion of a major electrical supplier.
His move followed the controversial plan to push Gaz de France into the private sector through a merger with Suez, the Franco-Belgian water and power company. While elsewhere in Europe this proposed merger has prompted allegations about French protectionism, it has also triggered domestic anxiety from unions about the effect on jobs of privatisation.

Mr de Villepin told a newspaper that EdF, SNCF, the train company, and Areva, one of the world's top nuclear power groups, were "major pluses" for France. "The French like them being in public ownership, for good reason," he told le Parisien newspaper. "This would therefore exclude an attempt to go down the path of privatisation for these public services."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Seriously, Folks . . .

Image hosting by Photobucket
"All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could it be a good thing?" Keeping all that tension and stress pent up inside is bad for your blood pressure and crippling for you emotional life. Just let it out folks! Nothing like a good old fashioned civil war to release those tensions and find an outlet for your pent-up feeling of aggression and hate.

Gotta love Fox News. Seriously, ya gotta. Or else.

ETA: I'm making this loony screenshot into a contest over at my blog, just because it made my day. Submit your responses as comments, and you too could win a prize and get drunk!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Was it this Obvious?

Did any of you click over to This Mordern World today? If you did - you would have seen the post The thin line between reality and satire. It was written two weeks after the invasion. Also, check out Sen. Kerry's post at Kos, Fighting Democrats. Kerry writes
I think electing Iraq war veterans in 2006 is the single most important thing we can do to change that. Here's why. Stars and Stripes reported that "Seventy-two percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year." Imagine that. No matter what you think the right course is in Iraq, what does it tell you that many American troops see that a long term, massive military presence in Iraq with no end in sight isn't the answer? In that article - which I hope everyone will read - the man who organized the survey makes an important point: "there are those in the U.S. who will speak for the troops, so there is a real value in seeing what they are actually saying." That's what counts here. To hear the Administration and their Republican allies talk, anyone who has a different view than George Bush is lacking in patriotism and doesn't support the troops. Remember freshman GOP Congresswoman Jean Schmidt who invoked our troops in smearing Jack Murtha? I wonder what Jean Schmidt would have to say confronted by the informed and expert opinions of soldiers home from Iraq -- whatever they believe. The Republicans might just be forced to debate the merits of the issue! Talk about throwing a wrench into the partisan smear machine these Republicans rely on to stifle debate. That's why I want people like Jean Schmidt to have to stand face to face on the floor of Congress and be forced to debate a veteran who's been there. It will elevate the dialogue in our country, it will change the voices in the conversation.

That's what this is all about. Imagine if the voices of today's veterans weren't just reflected on the front page of Stars and Stripes, but in votes and voices on the floor of Congress. That's what I'm committed to getting done.