Friday, April 30, 2004


If you missed it, well, you missed it.

And it was a hell of a thing to miss.
The Joys Of Privatization, Cont.

Part of the problem at the Abu Ghraib prison, though this in no way excuses the actions of the soldiers involved in torturing Iraqi prisoners, was that some of the staff were private contractors, and, as such, not accountable to military rules (see earlier posts about mercenary soldiers).

"Myers [a lawyer for one of the accused soldiers] said two U.S. firms — CACI International of Arlington, Va., and Titan Corp. of San Diego — were involved in providing private interrogators and interpreters at Abu Ghraib.
Both firms were named in a military investigative report looking into the allegations. According to the report, a CACI employee was terminated from duty at the prison because of the infractions.
Myers said it was difficult to know what percentage of the prison's staff consisted of private contractors, but he said those figures and other elements of the operations would be disclosed during a trial."

Again, the use of private contractors is not the whole problem. But, also as mentioned earlier, the continual "outsourcing" of military jobs to private, UNNACOUNTABLE firms can probably be written off as a Bad Idea.

Though I don't agree with all of his analysis ("Sociologically, Americans are about as well prepared for the burdens of modern imperialism as they were for the cultural revolution of the 1960s," for example), Billmon has a good post up about the prison affair and the odd divergence between US and foreign media coverage of it.
You've GOT To Be Kidding Me

US Sends Guantanamo warden to Iraq, ostensibly to make sure that the prisons in the occupied country are run correctly. Please tell me this is a sick and late April Fool's Day joke.

"Kimmitt said Miller would help ensure proper detention and interrogation practices in Iraq."

Wow. The Pentagon actually tells the truth for once. Of course, what they mean by "proper" might not be what you mean.
Hearts And Minds

Now who could have seen this coming?

Anyone with half a brain, that's who. Which, of course, disqualifies the Boy King, but that almost goes without saying. Not that I don't like saying it.

I'm glad that War On Terra (tm) is going so well! I know I feel so much safer, what with millions more people driven to blind rage!

For instance: "['Simulated' forced sex acts among the prisoners] really, really is the worst atrocity," Atwan said. "It affects the honor and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them."

Also in news from the Middle East, the Bush people are planning to impose sanctions on Syria. Now, Syria really does have ties to international terrorism. But this idea would have been much better, say, BEFORE anyone decided to invade a neighboring country that had NOTHING to do with anti-US terrorism.

Syria was on the list of states supporting terrorism until 1991, when we and they became good buddies. The Administration of Bush the Smarter cozied up to Hafez al-Assad, a notoriously brutal dictator in his own right, because the Bush people wanted Syrian troops, bases, and promises not to attack Israel during the first Gulf War, while the government of Assad wanted off of the blacklist. Syria didn't do anything about actually ending its support for terrorism; but the deal was struck, and their country was taken out of the little black book.

Why they're going after Syria now is a mystery. The US military is not going to be able to back up these sanctions with any aggressive action other than aerial bombardment --which, while mind-bendingly destructive, won't stop anyone from supporting terrorism.

Apparently, no one has ever advised the current Bush Administration of the First Law of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

I usually don't open spam - but damn I'm glad I opened this one. Here is the text:

"He would have taken in poor simple Hercules, but 6that Our Lady of Malaria was there, who left her temple and came alone withhim: all the other gods he had left at Rome. Quoth she, "The fellow's taleis nothing but lies. I have lived with him all these years, and I tell you,he was born at Lyons. You behold a fellow-burgess of Marcus. [Footnote:Reference unknown.] As I say, he was born at the sixteenth milestone fromVienne, a native Gaul. So of course he took Rome, as a good Gaul ought todo. I pledge you my word that in Lyons he was born, where Licinus[Footnote: A Gallic slave, appointed by Augustus Procurator of GalliaLugudunensis, when he made himself notorious by his extortions. See DionCass. liv, 21.] was king so many years. But you that have trudged over moreroads than any muleteer that plies for hire, you must have come across thepeople of Lyons, and you must know that it is a far cry from Xanthus to theRhone." At this point Claudius flared up, and expressed his wrath with asbig a growl as he could manage. What he said nobody understood; as a matterof fact, he was ordering my lady of Fever to be taken away, and making thatsign with his trembling hand (which was always steady enough for that, iffor nothing else) by which he used to decapitate men. He had ordered herhead to be chopped off. For all the notice the others took of him, theymight have been his own freedmen. "
Benjamin Franklin Rolling Over In Grave

Again. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, who have already produced the wonderful Trust Us, We're Experts, Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, and Weapons of Mass Deception, have a new book coming out: Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America into a One-Party State (the book can be found here at Here's a small excerpt:

"The pattern is this: Companies like Halliburton give money to support Republican politicians, who in turn use their clout to ensure that the companies get fat contracts, who in turn give a portion of their profits to keep Republicans in power. Around and around the circle goes, and everybody gets a piece – except, of course, for the rest of the American people, who pay the bill for all this fun with their tax dollars and the mounting federal deficit."

If that doesn't make you fighting mad, I don't know what would.

If you know anyone who's considering voting for Nader this November, tie them up Clockwork Orange-style and make sure they know about things like this:

"Republican dominance on K Street has further enhanced the party's fundraising advantage over Democrats. "An analysis of political donations by industry groups shows that over the past decade, 19 major sectors have shifted from a roughly 50-50 split between the two main parties – or in some cases, a slightly pro-Democratic tilt – to a solid alignment with the Republican Party, which now enjoys advantages exceeding 5 to 1 in some of these sectors," the Washington Post reported in November 2002.
Key industries that have shifted Republican include accounting, aerospace, alcoholic beverages, commercial banking, defense, health care and pharmaceuticals. "Just like the Democrats get a 90-10 split from the trial lawyers and labor, we will have 90-10 in the staffing on K Street and 90-10 business giving," Grover Norquist gloated in November 2002. But trial lawyers and labor give only a fraction of the amount that corporations donate to election campaigns. In 2002, contributions from businesses accounted for 73 percent of all election giving, compared to only 7 percent for labor. (Most of the remainder came from "ideological" or "other" donors, such as environmental groups, the National Rifle Association, clergy or nonprofit organizations.)"

One of Nader's big talking points is that Republicans and Democrats have the same "corporate paymasters." While that statement was true 15 years ago, it's not the case now.
We Got A Great Big Convoy

Ain't she a beautiful sight? Convoy!

"LOS ANGELES -- Truckers parked their rigs on a busy freeway outside Los Angeles on Friday morning, snarling rush-hour traffic for miles in a wildcat protest over high diesel prices."

Okay, so it wasn't a GREAT big convoy--only five trucks. Still, it seems that they've got a pretty legit grievance.
For those of you who really want to know...

This is me. I wear that blue bodysuit all the time, ask Jude.

Thanks to Brenda.
Prodigal Son

Sorry I have been away. I hope all of my loyal fans have enjoyed Jude's rants untempered by my soothing mellow wit. I in fact have enjoyed Jude's longer posts. Keep it up, pal.

I haven't been around recently because I have been franticly downloading porn before the Black Shirts start coming around knocking on doors. Just kidding kids - my porn downloading has not increased - I have actually been studying for finals. I've done two and have two left.

My constitutional law final (8 hours) had an excerpt from the Padilla opinion (Appeals Court) and we had to discuss the court's reasoning regarding the inherent powers of the executive branch. We also had two questions about Elk Grove v. Newdow - pledge of alligance case.

Anyway, I'm a busy little 1L. So not much to say. I've been keeping an eye on the NBA Playoffs - Go Pistons - and the NFL Draft was excellent - Go Saints! Manning ended up with the Giants as I predicted.

So it's back to the books, and I'll give you suckers something read when I feel like. Until then read Jude and feel repulsed that your country tortures prisoners.
Cheney Cements Deal With Satan; Endorses FOX News

Truly, this is a disturbing universe. I can't think of any other episode where a high-level government official personally endorsed any news organization. That's unconscionable. And can Cheney really believe this:

"It's easy to complain about the press -- I've been doing it for a good part of my career," Cheney said. "It's part of what goes with a free society. What I do is try to focus upon those elements of the press that I think do an effective job and try to be accurate in their portrayal of events. For example, I end up spending a lot of time watching Fox News, because they're more accurate in my experience, in those events that I'm personally involved in, than many of the other outlets."

It seems that wise leaders would not want simply to be told what they want to hear. Oops. There I go, using that "wise" word again.

As regards Iraq:
"The fact is that we spend a lot of time talking to a broad range of people out there to make sure we've got a good fix on what's going on," Cheney said. "You can't simply rely just upon the press coverage. The situation today is clearly -- we've made enormous progress when you think about where we came from a little over a year ago. Saddam Hussein was in power. Tonight, he's in jail. His sons are dead. The government is gone. It's been taken down. The extent to which you had a regime there that hosted terrorists over the years and also pursued and used weapons of mass destruction -- that's all been dramatically changed."

You can't simply rely just on the press coverage??? Well, since I can't reach all of the Iraqis that I normally keep on my speed dial, what else should I do, Dick?

Cheney is right about a couple of things--Hussein is in jail, and his insanely cruel sons are dead. However, the government is not gone. In fact, former Ba'ath party officials are being allowed back in power in a desperate attempt to bring order to Iraq.

And a regime that has hosted terrorists over the years and pursued and used weapons of mass destruction is in charge.

(Edited: first link added--d'oh!)
Another Intelligence Report

So the NYT ran this story yesterday, citing an intelligence report by the DIA which claims that most of the resistance in Iraq was planned before the end of the war.

This report may or may not be true. However, keep the follwing in mind:

--"While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong." An important caveat, but not a falsification of the report.

--Saddam's military was never trained to act independently. Again, this fact does not mean that it is impossible that said report is not accurate.

--The NYT, while acknowledging that US intel has been less than stellar, quietly ignores the fact that the Paper of Record itself has been wildly inaccurate concerning that little matter of Ahmed Chalabi, Judith Miller, and Iraqi WMD. More importantly, the NYT has never issued any corrections or apologies, and the publisher has even publicly defended Miller.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Herbert & Krugman

As always, excellent reads. Here you go for Paul Krugman. And here's Bob Herbert.

Krugman: "It's not a good sign when, a year into an occupation, the occupying army sends for more tanks."

Herbert is even more straightforward: "At least 10 more American soldiers died yesterday in George W. Bush's senseless war in Iraq.
"They died for a pipe dream, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as a fantastic notion or a vain hope. "Pipe dream" originally referred to the fantasies induced by smoking a pipe of opium. The folks who led us into this hideous madness in Iraq, against the wishes of most of the world, sure seem to have been smoking something."

And:"My problem with the warrior fantasies emerging from the comfort zones of Washington and Crawford, Tex., is that they are being put to the test in the flaming reality of combat in Iraq, not by the fantasizers but by brave and patriotic men and women who deserve so much more from the country they are willing to defend with their lives."

Finally, he gives us: "[W]e've destroyed countless homes and legitimate businesses and killed or maimed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including many women and children. That was a lousy strategy for winning hearts and minds in Vietnam and it's a lousy strategy now.
Equally unsurprising is the erosion of support for the war among Americans. There's no upside. Casualties are mounting daily and so are the financial costs, which have never been honestly acknowledged or budgeted.
Mr. Bush has enmeshed us in a war that we can't win and that we don't know how to end. Each loss of a life in this tragic exercise is a reminder of lessons never learned from history. And the most fundamental of those lessons is that fantasy must always genuflect before reality."

Damn straight.
Shameful Moments In American History
(by no means an exhaustive list)

--Mexican-American War

--Wounded Knee

--Plessy v. Ferguson

--"Bull" Connor turns police dogs on children

--Gulf of Tonkin "Incident" and Resolution

--Watergate/Nixon resignation

--Reagan elected

--Reagan re-elected

--Congressional hearings and impeachment over oral sex

--Bush v. Gore

--2003 State of the Union speech

And, most recently,

--Bush and Cheney's Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy act today

Truly, truly shameful. Not only did the President refuse to appear alone, he also refused to appear under oath; in addition, the Administration demanded that the session not be recorded, and that no stenographic records be kept.

Then there's this:

"It was Bush who responded to most of the questions, officials said. Cheney spoke only when Bush turned to him about details he didn't know, according to one participant."

Yet Bush himself, later in the very same report, says:

"[Bush] said Cheney 'answered a lot of their questions.'"

If you choose to believe the first quote, what could the VP know that Bush would not? I mean, would that sentence be acceptable for any other President in the last century? Okay, maybe Warren G. Harding. But any others?

Fact Checking

Next time you hear someone repeat some crapola they heard on Limbaugh, or FOX News, or from Scott McClellan, you can reference this handy claim vs. fact database provided by the Center for American Progress. Enjoy!

If you're not going out on Friday, watch ABC's Nightline. Please.
News Of The Incompetent

And that's being generous. It was revealed today that the Bush Administration received yet another warning about its pre-9/11 attitude about terrorism (that is, its refusal to care about the issue at all), and the imminent danger facing the country. A long-serving public servant made the remarks at a speech in February of 2001. He said that the Bush administration was:

"Paying no attention" to terrorism.
"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this.'"

So who said this? Richard Clarke? Paul O'Neill? Joseph Wilson?

No. It was L. Paul Bremer, current Viceroy of Iraq.

Not Scott McClellan's blatant lie, refuted by the aforementioned Messrs. Clarke and O'Neill:
"The actions we took prior to Sept. 11 demonstrate that we took the terrorist threat seriously. The first major foreign policy directive was a comprehensive, aggressive strategy to eliminate al-Qaida."

(edited for spelling)
Holy Crap

The military is asking for more troops in Colombia.

What's that? You didn't know we even had troops in Colombia? Well, yes we do. And we have for a long time. How many? About a battalion.

"BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - U.S. troops advising Colombia in its war against rebels and paramilitary forces are hampered by Congress' cap on the number of American soldiers, a senior U.S. military commander asserted Thursday.
U.S. Army Gen. James Hill, the commander of U.S. military operations in Latin America, said Washington's ability to provide advice and training as Colombia carries out offensives against the insurgent groups has been hurt by Congress' stipulation that no more than 400 U.S. troops and 400 American contractors can be in this Andean country at one time.
President Bush has asked the U.S. Congress to allow up to 800 U.S. military personnel and 600 U.S. citizen civilian contractors to help Colombian government forces."

The really interesting bit, though, comes at the very end of the article. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, when remarking to Congress on the perceived need for more troops, says that "We don't have that many extra personnel."

The Army does not have 400 troops to spare for anywhere in the world. One battalion. That's not good news, folks.
Commentary On The DOJ

Mark Morford lays out a really funny column on the anti-smut crusading of John Ashcroft (R-Choad). It's good stuff, and not at all like the rest of today's rather serious posts.

Punch and Jude regulars will note that we have been on top of this story (get it? ha ha!) for a while now.
To You, Jon

Any thoughts on Cheney vs. U.S. District Court?
60 Minutes II

I watched this story last night. It was truly awful. I don't know why there is no link to the pictures discussed--they certainly showed them on TV.

This is wrong for so many reasons. First, it's simply against the rules that the Army is bound to obey. Second, these things NEVER stay secret. If Saddam Hussein couldn't keep what went on in Abu Ghraib quiet, do you think anyone else could? Third, when the secret does come out (and it will), any US soldier captured can expect to face mistreatment as bad or worse than what went on in Abu Ghraib.

And if some captured soldiers do get tortured, that, too will become public. Which will just serve to inflame the armchair generals in this country, who will demand swift and severe retribution. Which, of course, since some of the vengeance will inevitably fall on the heads of some innocents, will serve to create more guerrillas.


This bit was striking:

"Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes II received an appeal from the Defense Department, and eventually from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to delay this broadcast -- given the danger and tension on the ground in Iraq.

"60 Minutes II decided to honor that request, while pressing for the Defense Department to add its perspective to the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison. This week, with the photos beginning to circulate elsewhere, and with other journalists about to publish their versions of the story, the Defense Department agreed to cooperate in our report."

I'm not sure why they sat on the story for two weeks. Anyone got some perspective?
Et Tu, NYC?

New York denies protestors permit due to patently BS reason.

"In denying the permit, city officials said the Aug. 29 event would exceed the 13-acre lawn's capacity of 80,000 people and 'cause enormous damage to the lawn.'"

So a lawn is now more important than the First Amendment. This is a joke, right? How about the protestors chip in ten bucks each (for a total of $2.5 million, for those of you who, like me, went to school in Mississippi)? Wouldn't that be enough?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Morley Safer Swings For The Fences

The venerable 60 Minutes correspondent was telling it straight in Connecticut.

Safer, who covered the Vietnam War for CBS, brought up former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's mea culpa on the Vietnam War. "McNamara's plea was that he had no idea that Vietnam had a history of longing for self-determination, a history of resisting foreign invasion."

"The stupidity is unbearable," Safer said. Libraries are full of books on that history, he said - and "reading one would have been enough."

Safer sees a similar problem with the Bush administration, noting the criticism Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received last year when he referred disparagingly to France and Germany as "old Europe." In the Bush administration, Safer said, "there is a kind of pride in the ignorance."
End Excerpt

Also, Gail Collins was just awful. Awful. She shouldn't be at the same event as Safer. Ugh.
So It's Come To This

I think the New York Times needs to go on vacation. Today's article about John Kerry's aide is one of the most useless things ever printed in a newspaper. Well, aside from the total hatchet job that the press did on Gore in 2000. This garbage is on the front page today! Above the fold! At the top of the page on the left!

Throughout the entire length of this ridiculous clowning, there is not a single word about Kerry's policies, his history, his campaign themes, or anything else that would qualify as political reporting. But there it sits. Front page. Jodi Wilgoren pulls off an amazing feat--she slams Kerry for being both too much like a Joe-Six-Pack (He eats PB & J! He wears cheap reading glasses!) AND too "patrician" (He has a valet! He would deign to share a bathroom with a commoner! "Mr. Kerry is comfortable being catered to. He has his moods and his myriad personal needs.") at the same time. Good lord. Have we warped back in time to 2000?

I'm sure Bob Somerby will be all over this soon, too.

Could someone please tell me where the journalism is in this stupid, stupid article? What's the point? Kerry has an assistant? That's news? Don't get me started on that snarky little "The Things He Carries" graphic. I think Michael Herr needs to write a letter to the editor.

It's gonna be a long summer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

There Just Aren't Words

For the incompetence of this administration or its hand-picked lackeys in Iraq. The new Iraqi flag, unveiled yesterday, is yet another indicator of how badly the occupation of Iraq is being handled. If simple things like this can get so horribly bungled, what happens when important things come up?

Hamid Kifaie, spokesman for the council of stooges Iraqi Governing Council, had this to say: "We are not imposing this flag on the people; it was chosen by the legitimate representatives of Iraq. When a new national assembly is elected, it can decide whether to keep it or change it."

The legitimate representatives of Iraq? The IGC? Ha ha ha ha! These people were put into power by the US. The people who live in Iraq know this; why doesn't Mr. Kifaie?

Yet another Charlie Foxtrot. And screw-ups in occupied countries always come with a cost in lives.

Just go read.
More About Uranium

But not the "lost" fuel rods from Vermont. No, this is about depleted uranium, the byproduct of uranium enrichment. As mentioned below, most naturally-occurring uranium is in the form of the isotope U-238, which is not well suited to be a fissile fuel. Therefore, for commercial and military reactors, uranium is enriched to separate as much U-235 as is necessary for the desired application (and to almost completely get rid of U-234). The leftover material, mostly U-238 (with that 4.5 billion year half-life discussed earlier), is referred to as depleted uranium, is weakly radioactive, and has a variety of civilian and military uses. It has, of course, gained notoriety as a result of military applications.

DU ammunition, surprisingly, is not another one of the Pentagon's evil offspring. The Soviets were the first to successfully develop DU munitions. However, they restricted its use almost exclusively to armored units. Many countries use DU ammo today, and it is produced by at least 17 countries, including our good friends in Pakistan.

The US, however, has taken the lead in going bananas with DU use. It is used in Abrams, Bradley IFV, and LAV rounds as well as in the armor of newer Abrams tanks. The Navy uses DU ammo in its 20 mm "Phalanx" CIWS and on USMC Harrier jets and Cobra helicopters, while the Air Force puts DU rounds into its A-10 tank-killer aircraft.

DU is extremely good at what it does; it is some 70% denser than lead, and the rounds just knife through armored vehicles. They don't need explosive charges; the kinetic energy brought to target and the properties of the round itself are enough to destroy just about any tank hit. A DU projectile burns and melts as it penetrates steel, becoming 'sharper' rather than blunting. As the projectile passes through armor, the heat build-up causes it to catch fire and disintegrate into fine particles on re-encountering air, causing it to emerge from the other side of the armor accompanied by a white-hot ball of fire and a shower of molten shrapnel (these last two sentences are from wikipedia). Of course, none of this is very good for the actual humans in the tank hit by the DU shell.

The real problem with DU, of course, is that it has just atrocious effects on humans--not just the soldiers in the targeted tanks, but other soldiers (friend and foe) in the area, and, of course, the civilians whose homes and groundwater supplies are on or near the battlefields. It's not the radioactivity of the DU--it's its toxicity. Human bodies don't tend to react very well to the introduction of heavy metals, especially if the metal is in the form of a fine aerosol mist.

Well, that's about enough of that from me. Just so you don't think that the only people opposed to DU are left-wing partisans writing for InterventionMag, I direct you to the following sites:

The Royal Society's DU report
The United Nations Environment Programme, which has monitored areas where DU ammo was used.
U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute study, courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists.

It doesn't look like DU munitions are going away anytime soon. They're just too damn good at what they do. However, if enough civilian and military pressure can put an end to the use of land mines, there's hope that DU might end up in a similar position. Unfortunately, the Pentagon, especially under Rumsfeld (R-Idiot), never met a weapons system it didn't like (and the US is not a signatory of the treaty--in fact, the Bush Administration has reneged on the half-measures undertaken by President Clinton during his terms).

Remember all of this in November, folks.
Vietnam Comparisons

From the Vietnamese.

It's an interesting little article, and worth the couple of minutes it takes to read. As an interesting sidebar, one should note that the Vietnamese have long since gotten over what they call the "American War." So these ruminations are not given by people who obsess over the former American presence in South-east Asia.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Dueling Headlines

In referring to exactly the same event, the International Herald Tribune (using an NYT story), runs the following headline:

"Tens of thousands march in Washington"

While Yahoo, running an AP wire report, gives us:

"Some 500,000 Rally for Abortion Rights"

Who's shilling for whom here? In the IHT/NYT article, the lowest estimated number of marchers is 250,000 (that's CNN's low-balled bid).

So, is it tens or hundreds of thousands? You could argue that both headlines are, technically, correct. The former, however, is correct in the same way that the following statements are correct:

It's hundreds of miles to Australia from here.
Bill Gates is worth thousands of dollars.
The Vietnam War memorial displays names of the dozens of American soldiers killed in that war.

Economics For Everyone

Even me. Since lots of those who relentlessly pound the drums for war talk about how it will somehow, magically, be good for the economy, I'm glad Galbraith explains this for the reader:

"The U.S. had one good economic experience with war. World War II conquered the Depression, reindustrialized the country and built the middle class. But that was special. The U.S. fought WWII with full mobilization, super-high taxes, super-low interest rates, big deficits, price controls and rationing. Iraq isn't going to be like World War II.

"Economically, the Iraq war is more like Vietnam: insidiously underestimated, sold to the public and Congress on false premises, improperly budgeted and inadequately taxed. During the Vietnam years, there was also economic growth at first. But then came creeping inflation, followed by worldwide commodity shocks, the oil crisis of 1973, international monetary disorder and a decade of economic troubles."


Sunday, April 25, 2004

Once More

Donald Rumsfeld is an idiot. A negligent idiot, at that.

"The Army's 1st Cavalry Division—which includes the unit in Sadr City—left five of every six of its tanks at home, and five of every six Bradleys."

You leave your armored IFV's home, at the behest of the Pentagon, and you come home in a different aluminum-sided container.

Then there's this: "A breakdown of the casualty figures suggests that many U.S. deaths and wounds in Iraq simply did not need to occur."

Well, yes. Many US deaths and wounds in Iraq simply did not need to occur. Like all of them. Hey, Georgie--where are those WMD's, again?

(edited for egregious spelling error)
Cracks In The Edifice

Trent Lott (R-Klan) is unhappy with the Republican Party. Ha ha ha!

For all of Lott's reactionary conservatism, he's not one of the neoconservatives. Frist, on the other hand, is an insane ideologue committed to the PNAC "War is Peace" foolishness.
Women's Rights March

No word yet on whether or not most were barefoot.

That's a joke, son.

Not surprisingly, CNN is running a very low estimate of the number of protestors. And the NYT, perhaps in the interest of "fairness," spends too much article space on people protesting the protestors.

So, even though there were several hundred thousand marchers, a couple of hundred anti-choice people get column space. You do the math.

Finally, Karen Hughes, after emerging from her crypt and removing most of the layer of slime that normally covers her, had the following to say:

"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."

(Emphasis added)

If Karen Hughes values life so much, perhaps she can explain this. If that's valuing life, I don't want to know what devaluing it looks like.

But back to her statement. According to her logic, Planned Parenthood is no longer an organization committed to women's health, sexual education, and responsible procreation. Rather, it, like the NEA, is at the very least a group that sympathizes with terrorists, if it doesn't support them outright. I'm sure that John Ashcroft (R-Choad) is gleefully awaiting applying the might of the DOJ to fight these America-hating terrorists.
Get Out The Broom

The Sox swept the Yankees.

Woo hoo!

I'm really busy studying but I just had to post this. Truly amazing. I don't even know what to say about it.
Tee Hee

A little humor. Warning: If you are opposed to, er, somewhat racy language, you might not enjoy. Of course, if you were opposed to racy language, you wouldn't be here at Punch and Jude, now would you?
Jimmy Breslin Talks To God

And hears some interesting things. The best part of this column is the giant pimp-slap Breslin delivers to FOX News and Rupert Murdoch.

"For a year now, our temporal authorities have tried to keep all signs of war dead out of our sight. Act like nobody dies. God is on our side and none of us die. Suddenly, pictures of many coffins with flags on them were published. The country reeled. The president's people said this was a terrible thing, using dead bodies to let the country see that the war is real. God is on our side. You cannot show pictures of the new dead. One of their cheap yes-men, publisher Rupert Murdoch, did not print the picture in his New York Post newspaper, nor allow it on his Fox television network. Thus committing the one most blatant fraud we have had in decades of news in America. Deny it if you can."

I Must Admit

That my characterization of Donald Rumsfeld as an Idiot simply cannot hold a candle to Ben Tripp's turn of phrase: Donald Rumsfeld, Belching Rectum Beast of Arabia.

The article isn't totally about Rummy, but it's worth a read.
Worth 10,000 Words

Just go look.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Irrationality of Rational Actions

Instrumental rationality gone berserk: EPA-approved nuclear missiles.

You read that correctly. Environmentally-friendly ICBM's. Here's my favorite bit: "Thus, if the Minuteman III ICBMs have to be used in some future nuclear war, their rocket motors will not pollute the atmosphere. EPA regulations do not apply in foreign countries, so no changes are being made to reduce the harmful environmental effects of the nuclear warheads."

Ha ha ha ha ha! Now that's comedy!

Found this gem over at Tom Tomorrow's popsicle stand.
And Now For Some Good GREAT News

The Boston Red Sox have beaten the Evil Empire again.

It wasn't like yesterday's 11-2 spanking, but it still goes in the "W" column.

Hey--what a great game. Twelve innings, a sacrifice fly ends up winning the game, the Yankees' lead-off hitter is the final out--that's fine baseball.

I realize it's still April, and it's a long season. Still. That's five out of six to the Sox so far this year.

Oh, and a couple of sports had playoff games, I believe, and there was something about an "NFL Draft," I think. But I can't be sure.
Secrecy, Incomptence, Corruption

All involved in a multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Defense contractors get richer, well-placed stooges get to steal from the Treasury, Republican legislators get more lobbyists' checks, and national security is actually harmed by the deal.


Not this time, though it does fit the above description to a "t."

No, it's the Missile Defense Program, that useless recycling of a Reagan-era fantasy.
Charlie Foxtrot

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Donald Rumsfeld is an idiot .

In particular, note that: "To the surprise of some, even while the fighting intensified the military moved forward with plans to dramatically reduce the number of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Iraq."

So, in addition to rotating in a bunch of new Guard and Reserve units, who don't have the same level of weapons training and expertise as the regular Army, and who also don't have the latest in equipment updates, Rummy's Pentagon is making sure that they don't have any armor to hole up in when things get hairy. And they will.

Also, and this is impossible to overemphasize: We're out of troops, folks. Retired General Barry McCaffrey observes that "We literally have 72 percent of our combat units deployed or deploying in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Eastern Africa."

Is it just me, or is it a bit drafty lately?


Friday, April 23, 2004

Can't Get Over Losing You

This sort of thing makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And then nauseous, then dizzy, then I can't breathe, and so forth.

I used to work with nuclear power. Of all the things one could lose, I don't understand how it could be spent fuel rods. Which, incidentally, I do not think would be sent to a "low-level" waste storage facility. Spent fuel is by definition high-level waste.

For example: "Spent nuclear fuel is used fuel from nuclear power plants. Spent fuel contains some reusable material that may be recovered. That recovery process is called reprocessing, and everything left over after the reusable material has been recovered is classified as high-level radioactive waste. The United States is not presently reprocessing spent nuclear fuel."

You might ask, but Jude, since the rods were removed in 1979, a good long 25 years ago, doesn't that mean that the dangerous isotopes involved would have mostly decayed away by now?

Dream on.

The majority of the uranium in commercial fuel rods is the most commonly found isotope, U-238. U-238 is a bad fissile fuel, though, and, as such, the rods are enriched (a mechanical process done to separate the different isotopes of a single element based on their atomic weights) to 2-3% U-235. Both isotopes decay through spontaneous fission (releasing neutrons and gamma radiation) and alpha decay (releasing alpha particles). U-235 is the nasty stuff that they make atomic bombs out of--the good thing is that there wouldn't be enough in this spent fuel rod to make a nuclear explosive.

U-235 has a half-life of slightly over 700 million years. You heard me. 700 million.

U-238's half-life is about 4.5 BILLION years.

To put that in geological terms, 700 million years ago, there were no plants or animals yet. None. That was in the Proterozoic Era in the Precambrian period. 4.5 Billion years ago, THE EARTH WAS BORN.

There's no way that uranium isotopes are going to decay away any time soon. It's commonly given that it takes five half-lives for a substance to be considered a non-concern, radioactively speaking.

So, there's no danger of this stuff being used to make atomic explosives, as noted. However, it's dangerous, dangerous stuff. Lethal. And there's no excuse for it being "lost."

The Memory Hole, run by Russ Kick, has been absolutely overwhelmed with traffic in the past couple of days, due to his successful FOIA appeal.

If you can't get through, a mirror site for the photos can be found here.
Medical Cannabis

Boston University School of Law Professor Randy Barnett (Volokh Conspiracy Member) says that the Supreme Court has been petitioned for a writ of certiorari in the Medical Cannabis case from the 9th Circuit. Barnett is arguing that the Federal Government has no power to seize home-grown marijuana grown for medical reasons because it doesn't affect the interstate commerce. I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

John Ashcroft (R-Choad)

Is all over the big threats to the Republic--kids downloading mp3's. Read all about it here.

Remember during the 2000 campaign, when Candidate Bush, after giving a laundry list of things that he was for, was asked what, if anything, he was against?

In his typical bumbling style, he answered, "Uh, I'm against big Hollywood, big trial lawyers...what was the question?"

Good thing he wouldn't ever side with Big Hollywood: "The raids are reflective of a new effort by the Justice Department to treat copyright enforcement as a higher priority, something that motion-picture and music-industry officials have been urging."

Hey, John Ashcroft, remember that Osama bin Laden dude? You know, the one who murdered 3000 people in one day? How about finding that guy, and THEN worrying about those dastardly threats to FREEDOM (tm) who are busily downloading songs and movies, eh?

Since some people like statistics, we here at Punch and Jude offer the following quantitative jewel:

Number of people killed due to actions of Osama bin Laden: 2,976 (just from 9/11)

Number of people killed due to teenagers downloading music: 0

Meanwhile, in Vietnam Iraq

Paul Krugman talks about what went wrong.

"[The Bush Administration] also systematically blocked proposals to have Congressional auditors oversee spending, or to impose severe penalties for fraud.

"Cronyism and corruption are major factors in Iraq's downward spiral. This week the public radio program 'Marketplace' is running a series titled 'The Spoils of War,' which documents a level of corruption in Iraq worse than even harsh critics had suspected."

If there weren't millions of people's lives at stake, this sort of unfettered boobery would be funny.

Unfortunately, it ain't.
Opinions from Madison

John Nichols, of Madison's own Capital Times (link to the right) offers us an opinion on the Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy act appearing before the 9/11 Commission in one week.

The op-ed piece really doesn't have anything new. However, the picture of GW Bush that accompanies it is absolutely priceless.

John Nichols, it should be noted, is not to be confused with Jen Nichols--who, I believe, is in Mississippi at this time. Hi, Jen!

Page 2's Eric Neel says Bonds will hit .400. I think he's off his rocker, but check out these numbers so far:

"Through 15 games, he's got a line straight out of Little League. He's hitting .500, nine homers, 20 walks, 19 RBI, a .672 on-base percentage, and a 1.342 slugging average."

Punch and Jude Readers might be asking, "Well, Jon, what are you numbers going into the intramural playoffs?" I'm glad you asked.

I'm hitting .250 with 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 1 strikeout. I also have a very poor fielding percentage. But hey, I'm feeling an upswing. I'm about to hit my prime. Ask me later how the playoffs went.
politics and the environment

"On the Democratic side, John Kerry said Tuesday of the environment, "For the first time in history, our generation may pass this country on to our children in worse shape than we were in fact handed it by our parents." Forget the ungrammatical garble of the phrasing, factually the statement is unadulterated nonsense. Air, water, and toxic pollution are dramatically down during "our generation." In the 1960s, each morning in Pittsburgh or Cleveland you could write your name on the family car in the sulfur dust that had settled the night before; today these cities have clean air, though industrial production continues. In the last five summers, Los Angeles has experienced just one Stage One smog alert; 20 years ago, the average was almost 100 per season. The Chicago River in the 1950s was an open sewer; now, dinner-cruise boats ply it. The Potomac River in the 1960s was an open sewer; now its waters are so inviting police have been unable to stop a rash of Potomac drownings, because people keep jumping in to swim. Pollution is declining, park and preservation areas are expanding, more environmental rules are being imposed on development, land disposal of untreated toxic wastes has ended, ocean disposal of municipal sewage has ended--this list goes on and on.

"To say that the country is in worse environmental shape now than it was in our parents' generation either exhibits total lack of knowledge and perspective on Kerry's part--doesn't he remember what Boston Harbor was like before the multibillion dollar cleanup?--or, more likely, simply shows that Kerry knows voters have been conditioned to believe things are getting worse when in fact they're getting better."

Read the rest of Greg's Earth Day post.
Another Day

Another great post from Billmon. Go read him, today and every day.
Have We Fired Up the Wayback Machine?

I think we're moving backwards in time to the 1980's. Which is awful for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that we'll all have to go through the career of Madonna again.

So, John Negroponte, who never met a genocide he couldn't look the other way over, has been appointed as ambassador to Iraq. He speaks no Arabic, but he does have a long history of working well with death squads, so he might have found his niche again. You can find more about this world-class turd through Atrios by following this link.

Well, if that wasn't enough, you've got the Pentagon secretly and illegally funding its adventures. How many times in the last three years have we had to read sentences like this one: "The administration has denied any intention of misleading or concealing information from Congress, the paper said, citing an unidentified senior official," anyway?
We Have Always Been At War With Eastasia

Tami Silicio, whose photo of flag-draped coffins ("transfer tubes" in military parlance) in the interior of a C-5 provided Americans with their first view, after over a year of fighting, of rows of the deceased, has been fired.

You cross the famiglia, you pay.

God forbid that we should see that there are consequences, paid in blood, of Bush's Vanity War.

Not surprisingly, the Bush people's antics bring to mind Orwell's 1984:

"About five years after this, in 1973, Winston was unrolling a wad of documents which had just flopped out of the pneumatic tube on to his desk when he came on a fragment of paper which had evidently been slipped in among the others and then forgotten. The instant he had flattened it out he saw its significance. It was a half-page torn out of The Times of about ten years earlier -- the top half of the page, so that it included the date -- and it contained a photograph of the delegates at some Party function in New York. Prominent in the middle of the group were Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. There was no mistaking them, in any case their names were in the caption at the bottom.

The point was that at both trials all three men had confessed that on that date they had been on Eurasian soil. They had flown from a secret airfield in Canada to a rendezvous somewhere in Siberia, and had conferred with members of the Eurasian General Staff, to whom they had betrayed important military secrets. The date had stuck in Winston's memory because it chanced to be midsummer day; but the whole story must be on record in countless other places as well. There was only one possible conclusion: the confessions were lies.

Of course, this was not in itself a discovery. Even at that time Winston had not imagined that the people who were wiped out in the purges had actually committed the crimes that they were accused of. But this was concrete evidence; it was a fragment of the abolished past, like a fossil bone which turns up in the wrong stratum and destroys a geological theory. It was enough to blow the Party to atoms, if in some way it could have been published to the world and its significance made known."

(Emphasis added)

Naturally, Cheney, Rummy the Idiot, and Ashcroft (R-Choad) want photos like Ms. Silicio's to go down the memory hole; better yet, they'd prefer not to have them exist in the first place.

So this woman and her husband have lost their jobs because she dared to take a picture. She received no money for her submission, and her only stated intent was to let people back home see that the remains of their loved ones were attended to carefully.

I'm kind of cynical, but I get the impression that Rove and his gang wouldn't have ordered her fired if there had been an overwhelmingly negative response to the pictures, instead of the positive one received at the Seattle Times.

NOTE: Edited for spelling.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Sounds like J.D. Drew/ Steve Francis all over again

It looks like Archie will be bulling the Chargers into trading the first draft pick since Eli doesn't want to play there. Apparently he wants to play in... um, wait, let me see here... ah... ok... yes. He wants to play in New York!

Are you serious? Forget about the fact the the Giants already have their Golden Boy (Shockey) for a second. Why would anyone want to live in New York instead of San Diego. San Diego people. Beaches, sun, beautiful women. Not having to play the Eagles twice. Handing the ball off to Tomlinson 30 times a game. Archie is screwing this up.

Well since my Clarrett prediction didn't work out, I'll make a couple more. Browns trade to get the first pick, take Gallery so Garcia will have someone to block for him. Giants somehow end up with Manning. But Manning won't be half the QB Peyton is. Write it down.

Why am I always bringing the good news?

Jude never has anything positive to say, so I'll just have to try to be the shining light in your life. I present... Today's Good News!
Headlines You Probably Expected

Bush's Vanity War To Cost More Than Expected.

Duh, duh, duh.

Note, if you will, that bit about a "generational," "25-year war." That may be some election-year posturing, but hey--Hagel's a Republican.

Blood and treasure, both being poured out--and for what?
Financial News?

Does somebody wanna tell me why this story is in Financial News? Huh?

"ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Harris Poll finds that public perceptions of the facts that led up to the invasion of Iraq remain almost unchanged in spite of a barrage of media reports that might have changed them.
For example:
-- A 51% to 38% majority continues to believe that "Iraq actually had
weapons of mass destruction," virtually unchanged since February.

-- A 49% to 36% plurality of all adults continues to believe that "clear
evidence that Iraq was supporting Al Qaeda has been found." These
numbers have scarcely changed since June 2003.

-- A 51% to 43% plurality continues to believe that "intelligence given
before the war to President Bush by the CIA and others about Iraqi's
weapons of mass destruction" was "completely" or "somewhat" accurate.
In February a 50% to 45% plurality believed this.

-- While a 43% plurality believes that the "U.S. government deliberately
exaggerated the reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to
increase support for war," a 50% plurality (also virtually unchanged
over the last eight months) continues to believe that the government
"tried to present the information accurately."

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 979 adults surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive® between April 8 and 15, 2004."

So it's not just that Richard Perle (see below) is insane; it's that he's got a lot of company. Insane or ignorant, the outcome is apparently the same.

Shouldn't the Kerry Campaign be out every day repeating the mantra of "There were no WMD, there were no WMD," or what? How about "No Iraq-to-al-Qaeda links"? The Bush people have mastered the art of repeating a lie often enough to make it the truth. Well, the Kerry people need to learn how to repeat the truth often enough to re-establish it as such. All they've got to do is keep saying it.

I realize, of course, the giant ethical morass that exists should people simply start using repetition to establish whatever "facts" they choose. The problem is that some people (see also: Bush Administration, Rumsfeld the Idiot, and Ashcroft the Choad) are already doing that. If people listened to the lessons in their ethics courses (ha!), or even took the courses at all, maybe that would help.

Speaking of ethics, I should say that I found the link in the comment board over at Eschaton (link to the right).
The Milkshake Man

Jim Mayer is a gem of a human being. However, his job shouldn't exist. I'd really like to see Jim be unemployed from this occupation--Jim probably would, too. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

As Juan Cole informs us, fighting around Fallujah has broken out anew. And US troops are still fixed in positions around Najaf. Too many milkshakes; too many folded flags.

Make sure you guys check out Doonesbury for the next few days--go back to Monday the 19th, when the storyline starts. You can find that comic (and lots of others) at
Attention Males Aged 18-to-26

Remember: Canada is to the north. We here at Punch and Jude know geography isn't a strong point for a lot of people, so we provide this helpful reminder.

A draft? Geez. I heard that they're digging down in hell, just to make it deep enough for the Bush crew when they arrive.

Also, Richard Perle is crazy. I mean, what sort of evidence would it take to change his mind?

"Richard Perle, a former White House adviser who currently serves as a fellow at a conservative think tank, advised against adding troops or extending the date of handover of Iraqi sovereignty beyond the currently-set June 30 date.

"'It is essential that we not delay the handover of sovereignty set for the end of June, even if there is continuing violence by those who know they have no place in a decent, democratic Iraq,' he said."

What the hell is this man babbling about? Yet he continues:

"'A large UN contingent in Iraq ... would do more harm than good,' Perle said.

"'It would discourage the assumption of sovereignty by Iraqis themselves. It would drain resources urgently needed for the development of Iraq's economy,' Perle said."

Welcome to Cloudcuckooland. Population: Richard Perle.
Does a large US contingent in Iraq similarly do more harm than good? Does that discourage the assumption of sovereignty? Good lord, how is it even possible to do more harm in Iraq, short of compelling everyone to engage in wrestling matches in crocodile pits?

I've gotta stop reading this kind of crap.

Memo to Conservatives

Vote Democratic if you're really conservative. This is something I've been saying for a while. Defending the status quo is conservative; the status quo includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, labor laws, OSHA, separation of church and state, free speech, honesty, accountability, right to trial by jury, due process, habeas corpus, and, oh, a little thing about not starting wars just for the hell of it.

So, please, be conservative in November. Stop the radical changes that the radical Bush Administration has wrought. "Conservative" is the last thing those people are.

George Bush getting the unfavorable end of a comparison is, of course, nothing new.

George Bush being unfavorably compared to Ariel Sharon is.

George Bush being unfavorably compared to Ariel Sharon in the Guardian is definitely something new. Ariel Sharon isn't everyone's favorite guy; he's certainly not popular in the pages of the Guardian.

This article isn't news in the American sense--there's definitely opinion involved. But that's journalism in the UK. And many other places. Anyway, you three are smart enough to disentangle fact and opinion. So I leave the matter to you.

Just incredible. I almost spit out my coffee when I read this story in the Washington Post.

Sending troops off to war is a hell of a thing.
Sending troops off to war with glee when you desperately avoided the same situation in your youth is something else, and more than a bit dodgy.
Sending troops off to war with glee when you desperately avoided the same situation in your youth and the war is based on a pack of lies and enriches your family and friends is even sorrier.
But sending troops off to war with glee when you desperately avoided the same situation in your youth and the war is based on a pack of lies and enriches your family and friends, BUT THE TROOPS DON'T HAVE ENOUGH WEAPONS, AMMUNITION, OR EVEN (for Chrissakes) HELMETS AND BOOTS is so beyond the pale that I can't imagine that the situation would ever come up. Yet it has.

"The military already has identified unmet funding needs, including initiatives aimed at providing equipment and weapons for troops in Iraq. The Army has publicly identified nearly $6 billion in funding requests that did not make Bush's $402 billion defense budget for 2005, including $132 million for bolt-on vehicle armor; $879 million for combat helmets, silk-weight underwear, boots and other clothing; $21.5 million for M249 squad automatic weapons; and $27 million for ammunition magazines, night sights and ammo packs. Also unfunded: $956 million for repairing desert-damaged equipment and $102 million to replace equipment lost in combat.

The Marine Corps' unfunded budget requests include $40 million for body armor, lightweight helmets and other equipment for 'Marines engaged in the global war on terrorism,' Marine Corps documents state. The Marines are also seeking 1,800 squad automatic weapons and 5,400 M4 carbine rifles."

So let's see: the Bush people started a war and didn't put enough troops in theater, choosing instead to fire or smear the generals who pointed out that more soldiers were needed. Then, as if the first part wasn't bad enough, they leave the troops there, who, again, do not have sufficient numbers to keep order, without enough guns, ammo, and protective clothing.

Just how incompetent can one group of "leaders" be?

Billmon, over at the Whiskey Bar, has an absolutely outstanding analysis of current foreign policy and its consequences.

Please go read the first link. Any summary I would try to provide just would not do Billmon justice. I know when I'm outclassed, and this is definitely one of those times.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Legal Battles

I'm busy with my own legal battles (finals) but two of my fav are in the news today.

First of all Clarrett's (and now Mike Williams') case might be heard before the Supreme Court. What a mess! Check out any of the news links to the right of the page for more detailed information. My take is that the rule will eventually fall, but I don't think that it should. The NFL has a legitimate interest in keeping the quality of the play high.

What saddens me is that the NCAA is now joined forces to keep the youngsters in school. How many of us think this is because the NCAA cares about the education of its "student-athletes" and NOT due to the billion dollar industry that is collegiate sports? Not I.

And secondly, The Guantanamo Detainees are finally getting heard. Again check all the news links, if you are interested, but as for my thoughts:

The president doesn't really need congressional approval to start wars. If he, as Commander and Chief can hold whomever he wants for however long he wants without the prisoners having access to the courts, then two out of three branches are gone. Can the executive branch do whatever it wants as long as the military is involved and tell the Congress and Judiciary to piss off?
Blair Finds Spine

Breaks with Bush over Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Diplomatically, that's a big deal, even if it doesn't sound like much in the article.

Will someone please tell me why this guy signed on to be Bush's attack poodle over Iraq? He seems a lot smarter than that.
Extremely Unfavorable Editorial

From The Nation? Nope. Working for Change? Nuh-uh. That dastardly liberal New York Times? Wrong.

It's in Business Week. Not exactly your flaming socialist pinko commie tree-huggin' kind of publication.

Granted, they bash Rummy more than the Boy King, but still. Business Week.

I don't agree that sending in more troops is such a simple, effective solution, either. While that may have been the answer in the beginning of this mess, it may simply be too late for that.

And remember this: Bush is Rummy's boss. As such, he is ultimately responsible for what goes down. Where does the buck stop? Not in the Pentagon--in the Oval Office, baby.
Maps and Legends, Or: Can't Get There From Here

From Fables of the Reconstruction. I confess, I used to be a pretty big R.E.M. fan. But, hey--it was the late 1980's. Cut me some slack.

However, it seems as if the author of the document in the above link may also have been aware of the Athens, GA, music scene during the pre-sellout heyday.

Note: "[T]he document is not only notable for its candidly troubled assessment of Iraq's future. It is also significant, according to the intelligence official, because its author has been a steadfast advocate of 'transforming' the Middle East, beginning with 'regime change' in Iraq."

In other words, this highly critical document was written by a supporter of the whole "democratizing the Middle East through force of arms" fantasy.

More good news: "Sunnis, Shias, and Kurd professionals say that they themselves, friends, and associates are buying weapons fearing for the future." The memo also notes that while Iraqi police "remain too fearful to enforce regulations," they are making a pretty penny as small arms dealers, with the CPA as an unwitting partner. "CPA is ironically driving the weapons market," it reveals. "Iraqi police sell their U.S.-supplied weapons on the black market; they are promptly re-supplied. Interior ministry weapons buy-backs keep the price of arms high."

Also, all of that looted radioactive waste can go anywhere in the world, and probably already has:
'The memo also characterizes the CPA's border-security policy as "completely irrelevant," going so far as to state that "it is undeniable that a crumbling Baathist regime did better than we have" in that regard.'

Which of course leads to: '[T]he memo recommends that the US "deploy far greater numbers [of soldiers] than we have now" to the borders.'

That's all I'll quote for now. Remember--even if you supported the war, in spite of the lack of Iraqi threat or WMD or al-Qaeda ties--the people in charge of it are screwing up badly. They didn't plan; or, if they did, they counted on the best possible scenarios unfolding. That's not planning, that's dreaming. And we need a foreign policy based on something more realistic and workable than dreams.
Nutball Alert

But they're politically powerful nutballs, so it's scary, as opposed to just kind of sad and funny.

I recommend going to the "raptureready" link. It's bizarre. There is, however, advertised to the left, a book that is quite interesting. "Do Our Pets Go to Heaven?" is the title. There's more than a little sympathy there, and sadness, and humanity. But that has to be put into context--it seems as if the people concerned about that are kind of like the Prioress in the Canterbury Tales:

She was so charitable and so pitous
She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.
But soore weep she if oon of hem were deed.

She's a hypocrite. She cares excessively for those things that are visible and pitiable, and she doesn't give a damn about things outside of her vision.

So those rapture-seekers can be filled with charity for their own cuddly pets, and ignore the real sufferings of people (Israelis and Palestinians) in the present, and actively look forward to the day when the angels bound in the River Euphrates will come forth and slay the third part of men, and to the seven-year Tribulation, when those on Earth will be beset with plagues and horrors, and, if I recall correctly, "In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it." The faithful, of course, will be watching all from the safety and comfort of Paradise, enjoying the spectacle of the unrighteous finally getting their due.

Once again, it seems, the concept of cognitive dissonance, attractive though it may be, has been rendered useless with respect to explanatory power--apologies to Dr. Leon Festinger.

Molly Ivins

If you read only one article from Punch and Jude today, make it this one.

She's damn right about the anti-choice crowd wanting to do more than simply restrict abortion. These people want a return to medieval ignorance. Do we really want that to happen?
David Corn

In The Nation, once again scaring the hell out of all of us.

Well, most of us. At least those of us who are "fancy-pants intellectuals." Oy.
Brigadier Nick Carter

How long before Bush denounces him as a terrorist?

Why would such a thing happen, you ask?

Because he's got the audacity to tell the truth about how long occupying forces will have to stay in Iraq.

A decade. Think about that. Children in fourth grade now will be in Iraq before this mess is overwith. Thanks, Georgie.

Decides it wants no more part of George, Dick, & Rummy's mess-o-potamia.

They're leaving, along with the Spanish. And the Thais have just stated that, if attacked, they will also leave. Look for a car bomb or a rocket attack on a Thai outpost in the next day or two.

Man, paying for your mistakes sucks, don't it, George? Oh, you mean you've never had to before? How presumptuous of me to assume that you'd led an adult life.
Stating The Obvious

Hosni Mubarak (who isn't the nicest guy in the world) lays it out, speaking ver-r-r-r-r-r-y slowly, so that even a jackass like Rummy can understand:

Your actions have consequences.

I already used "File under 'N' for 'No Shit, Dick Tracy,'" and that's a damn shame. I find it really difficult to understand that the neoconservatives couldn't see this coming. I mean, they're not stupid--ideologically blinded, perhaps, but not stupid. It seems rather elementary to connect the following dots (Hume's questioning of causality aside):

1. There is a place in the world where most of the people do not like America already because of our foreign policy and support of the State of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.

2. Expressing near-total support for the extremist head of the State of Israel might lead a lot of those people in that region of the world to further dislike and distrust the US.

3. If #2 is true, then invading and occupying a country in the region, which involves dropping a lot of bombs in urban areas and killing a lot of noncombatants, based on a pack of lies and a clear lust for oil and geostrategic dominance, is REALLY going to piss some people off.

But no one could see that coming, right?

Monday, April 19, 2004

You Cross the Famiglia,

You pay. Looks like 60 Minutes will be the next entity to feel the wrath of the newly-puritanical FCC. Gee, that wouldn't have anything to do with the damning Bob Woodward story they ran yesterday, would it?

Nah. Gotta be a coincidence.

Disclosure: I (shudder) got this story from Drudge.
The Truth Shall Set You Free

Or it will get you a ticket to the Hague. In which case you don't want the truth to be known.

Okay, reporters, out the door, line on the left, one muzzle each. Play nice, now.
Mas Deportes

Jon, it's nothing but good sports news from the Bay State today.

Could the Pats go back-to-back? I mean, New England with a running game?

Look out, world. Now if they can only stay off of the cover of Sports Illustrated...
Yo, Jon

What are your thoughts on the latest Clarett news?

I defer to your wisdom and authority in all things NFL draft-related.
Goin' Up The Country

That's where the Amish wanna go.

I think it's mighty cheap that they use trucks driven by non-Amish to move. But that's just me.

Because we want to keep our readers alert, informed, and busy:

Our public service for the day.
Ha ha ha!

Go Sox!

Yes, I know it's early in the season. But you gotta savor these things while you can.
While You Were Distracted

by events in Mesopotamia, another country in Africa is enduring another awful war. And who pays? As always, the people who can least afford it.

The Sudan has seen its share of violence, including a long war with neighboring Chad.

Will most of the rest of the world sit around on its ass again while an African country self-immolates? Will the US get involved? Here's a clue: the American military is already tied down due to the ill-advised neoconservative screw-up in Mesopotamia, and Sudan isn't sitting on the world's second-largest reserves of petroleum.
Could It Be?

Could it be that conservatives are finally waking up to the fact that the Republican Party is no longer conservative? Now if only poor white people can realize that they've been snookered for the last thirty or so years, we'll really be moving in a better direction.
What Would You Do

In an impossible situation?

When the locals are indifferent, it's hard to win. When the locals secretly loathe you, it's impossible. Don't look for the situation in Husaybah to cool down anytime soon.

It's not that the Marines are complaining, either. They're trying to do their jobs. But the job they've been sent to do don't seem to have a very good probability of ending up with a favorable outcome. Yet again, the military is being weakened by a bunch of chickenhawks. And the people of Iraq? They get the worst deal of all. Occupation, looting, rampant crime, and looming civil war.

And Cheney thought they'd be happy to see us?
Deja Vu

All over again. I'm sure, though, that these developments are just another sign of the progress we're making.
Two Big "Oh Shits"

Buried in wire dispatches.

Oh Shit #1: The military can't keep the roads open. Roads important; trucks and tanks on roads bring food and water and guns and bullets. No can use roads? Oh shit.

Oh Shit #2: The "cream" of the new Iraqi security forces won't fight, partly because they claim that they are outgunned. This bad, this very not good. ARVN--I mean Iraqi Army no fight? Oh shit.
Thanks to Errol

For enlightenment.

Let's see if we can change things a bit.

Woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward woodward.
Boston Marathon

I'll be out all day enjoying the show. Suckers.
Bob Herbert

Fighting the good fight.

Do you think that even one of the supporters of this vanity war will ever apologize? I don't just mean the President and his inner circle. I mean those old guys at the barber shop, your cantankerous aunt, that preacher who endorsed the modern Crusade, Andrew Sullivan, or anyone else?

I don't.
South Carolina Supports Insurgents

It's true. South Carolina is an ardent supporter of the insurgency against US troops. According to George Bush logic, then, South Carolina is "against us."

Why does South Carolina hate America so much?

Among the stunningly stupid things said that day, a "descendant" of one of the CSS Hunley's crewmembers said the following: "They really were true war heroes because they forever changed the landscape of how we fight wars."

And that's what passes for thought in so many people.

Reporter Anthony Bartelme was astute enough to notice that "Few blacks were among the crowds." He's gunning for that Pulitzer!

I lived in South Carolina for a little while, and, while there is some genuine "Southern Pride" in the place, there also exists a whole lot of "Fuck the US and especially black people" sentiment, too. This entire ceremony is mostly just more neo-Confederate bullshit. You know, the kind endorsed by John Ashcroft (R-Choad).
Just How the Hell

Does Blogger determine what sort of ad to put in the header? Iraq business?

Somebody fill me in.
"Private Security Firms"

Newspeak for mercenaries.

Mercenaries, whose actions are not held up to the same accountability as those of national militaries.

Mercenaries, whose bills are eating into money euphemistically earmarked for "reconstruction."

Of course, we here at Punch and Jude were all over this earlier. Is the NYT following our lead?

Not in Iraq. In the White House.

Remember when all of the zealous right-wing types were so happy after the stolen election a few years ago, giddily proclaiming that "the grown-ups" were back? Right. I know I've always seen adulthood as characterized by petty squabbles, childish name-calling, avoidance of even the tiniest semblance of responsibility, and endless cries of "It's their fault! Not mine!"

And, apparently, Massa George is unhappy with the Secretary of State.

Could it be that Powell's conscience hasn't been starved to death quite yet?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Music Was Better

When Peter O'Toole was on the screen. The NY Times has something on the giant shit sandwich that Bush made in Iraq.

Note the quoting of Juan Cole near the end of the article.

From Adlai Stevenson III.

If you're pressed for time, here's a synopsis: The Bush people are morons.
What's For Dessert?

A big helping of shit, that's what. More great news.

How many mistakes does the Bush Administration get to make, anyway?
Brits Face Reality

Brigadier Nick Carter says that he will not needlessly sacrifice his soldiers, nor will he flatten a city to further George W. Bush's Vanity War.

Juan Cole, with his usual brilliance, has the scoop.

Why does Brigadier Carter hate America so much? He's just giving aid and comfort to the enemy, encouraging the thugs and murderers, what about the rape rooms, blah blah blah.

"'The moment that Sayid Ali says, "We don't want the Coalition here," we might as well go home,' Brig Carter said."

Nod to Atrios for the link.

Fungible: adj. Interchangeable, transposable.

Asshole: n. See Donald Rumsfeld.

That's how Colin Powell referred to Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans. When a US Secretary of State throws words like that around, shouldn't we be concerned?

Note also that the Bush people lied, they knew they were lying (even the President), and worked hard to create a more convincing lie.

What exactly constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors," anyway? Does there have to be a blowjob involved, or does starting a vanity war count?
Sunday Thoughts

It's Sunday, and lots of people are getting ready for church. I'm willing to bet that readers of this site aren't thinking of going to a Unification Church, though. We probably don't attract a lot of Moonies to this site. That's right, Moonies. You'd thought they had gone away, hadn't you?


John Gorenfeld has a lot of great stuff on how much influence the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, famous megalomaniac religous nutball, has in this country. He owns the United Press International wire service (bought that one a few years ago; prompted Helen Thomas to resign), the Washington Times (loony conservative paper set up to promote loony right-wing ideas; masquerades as journalism; loses a boatload of money every year), and a bunch of other, more transparently Moonie-ish publications. The Unification Church was also a big part of the "faith-based initiative" nonsense.

These people have influence in the federal government that is hard to imagine. Moon has literally bought himself a place at the table. Though the Moonies are really in bed with conservatives, they ingratiate themselves with lots of Democrats, too. And, lately, they've been making a concerted effort to woo black politicians.

None of this is fantasy; it is, unfortunately, all too true.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Maybe John Ashcroft (the Choad)

Won't have to go after the adult business after all. Nah. He wants this too badly.

Friday, April 16, 2004


US Army War College to Bush: You Don't Know Shit.
God Damn Those People

Who frivolously send young men off to go through things like this.

I realize it's an imperfect world, and that soldiers go to war and get maimed and killed. That's tragic enough as is. But when you think that the people in charge, who have not only never been near a FEBA, but also assiduously avoided service in their youths, gleefully send young men and women off to go through the utter fucking hell that is infantry combat, it makes me want to cry and puke and scream.

The total fucking lack of concern and responsibility by this administration for the soldiers, sailors, and Marines that serve this country is a shame, a disgrace, and a crime. When you have the very lives of other men and women in your hands, and you cannot act with anything other than diffidence, disdain, and occasionally outright contempt, you are a soulless, useless human being.

Of course, we knew that Bush had no regard for the living long ago. This is the man who mocked a woman named Karla Faye Tucker. She was a convicted murderer, it's true. As is often the case in Texas, she was sentenced to death for her crime. However, she claims that (like Bush himself) she later found Jesus and repented. I am not a fan of capital punishment; nor am I a believer in Christ. However, capital punishment is the law in Texas, and, according to the laws of that state, her conviction, and her sentence, she deserved that penalty. Also, according to her faith, and according to basic dictates of humanity, she deserved decent treatment. Remember "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," do you?

Bush doesn't. He sent her to the execution chamber in Texas after publicly scorning her. The man couldn't even let a fellow Christian die with the barest shred of dignity. This from the tireless "pro-life" crusader.
Ask him to stand on his head

Jude says I need to pick up the slack, but exams are bearing down on me and I'm trying to get a poker night going so I'm swamped.

Anyway - here's something interesting from MSNBC's Bioethics page.
Neat Stuff

If you're looking to build a deck, this stuff is really, really neat.

I almost took a job with a company that made a similar product about five years ago. Good thing I didn't, because I think they're out of business now. Anyway, the way they make this stuff is fascinating. And it's all recycled material. It doesn't break down in the sunlight the way polyethylene usually does--the wood fibers somehow keep the UV from sunlight from breaking down the cross-links in the plastic polymers, which aren't the main contributor to structural strength anyway, and, well, now I'm just trying your patience, aren't I?

Kerry unveils a college-tuition assistance plan.

I'm not sure if this is such a smart idea--going after young voters usually backfires. However, it's nice to see that he's floating this idea.

Oh, George Bush has a plan for college-age kids, too. College-age males, anyway. It's called the draft.
US to Rest of World: Drop Dead!

Economically Speaking.

I seem to remember a time when the Republican Party was the party of fiscal responsibility. Or at least so they claimed. Well, if you want to look historically, they were once the party of Lincoln and abolitionists. This is one case where "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" just don't apply.

"Under the Bush program to reduce the deficit, U.S. economic growth will be depressed by 1.88 percent in the long-term, compared to 3.68 percent under the more adverse deficit path."

So they're agreed that Bush's deficits, even if he reduces them (ha! This guy spends money like a drunken sailor just back from deployment.) will still hamper what sluggish economic growth there's been. Is there anything this guy can't screw up? Why did we have to get the anti-Midas?

Thursday, April 15, 2004


Honestly. The entire War On Iraq has made us so much less safe, as this AP report shows.

It took me a long time to find this story on a site that doesn't require registration and logging in. The lengths we here at Punch and Jude go to for you, our three readers, are extraordinary.

Note that this article, though it appears in the left-ish Guardian, is an AP wire story, and has not been edited in any way.

News from me will be scarce for a couple of days. Got a lot of grunt work to do for a conference.

Jon, you gotta pick up the slack. You can't let all three of our readers down.

Oh Hell Diddly Ding-Dong Crap

Can't these morons get anything right? I'm kind of tired of top government officials and right-wing bloviators "misspeaking" all the time. Once upon a time, that was called lying.

I mean, this was his one happy talking point during that stuttering, bumbling disaster of a scripted press conference. And they couldn't even get a simple number right?