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November 30, 2005

Quotes of note regarding 9/11

Please disregard the mess. Just saving these for posterity.

As Jeb Bush once told retired Naval Intelligence Officer Al Martin (cited in Bushwhacked, Sept. 2002, by Uri Dowbenko)...


The truth is useless. You have to understand this right now. You can't deposit the truth in a bank. You can't buy groceries with the truth. You can't pay rent with the truth. The truth is a useless commodity that will hang around your neck like an albatross -- all the way to the homeless shelter. And if you think that the million or so people in this country that are really interested in the truth about their government can support people who would tell them the truth, you got another think coming. Because the million or so people in this country that are truly interested in the truth don't have any money.

As Condoleeza Rice once told the 9/11 Commission...


We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to try and eliminate the al Qaeda network. President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."

This new strategy was developed over the spring and summer of 2001, and was approved by the President's senior national security officials on September 4th....

MR. KERREY: Did -- you've used the phrase a number of times, and I'm hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future. You said the President was tired of swatting flies. Can you tell me one example where the President swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11?

MS. RICE: I think what the President was speaking to was --

MR. KERREY: No, no, what fly had he swatted?

MS. RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on.

MR. KERREY: No, no --

MS. RICE: When the CIA would go after Abu Sayyaf, go after this guy, and -- that was what was meant.

MR. KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't -- we only swatted a fly once, on the 20th of August, 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?

MS. RICE: We swatted at -- I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

MR. KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think -- especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of August -- October 2000. It would have been a swatting a fly. It would not have been -- we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan. Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations as a -- he turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration, military plans in the Clinton administration. In fact, just since we're in the mood to declassify stuff, he included in his January 25th memo two appendixes: Appendix A, “Strategy for the Elimination of the Jihadist Threat of al Qaeda;” Appendix B, “Political- Military Plan for al Qaeda.”

So I just -- why didn't we respond to the Cole? Why didn't we swat that fly?

MS. RICE: I believe that there is a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense, whether or not you decide that you are going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every -- on a kind of tit-for-tat basis. By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit for tat, doing this on a time of our choosing.

I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein. That's a strategic view. (Applause.) And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -- quite frankly I was blown away when I read the speech because it's a brilliant speech. (Laughter.) It talks about, really, an asymmetric approach.


As an ancient Arabic proverb warns us...


One tiny insect may be enough to destroy a country.

As an ancient Chinese proverb tells us...


Don't use an ax to remove a fly from a friend's forehead.

Posted by Mike at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Honest Abe would be proud

While it does not say that the stories are false, you would think it might make more sense to hire Iraqis to write them if they were true:


The US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to print stories written by US soldiers in an effort to polish the image of the American mission in Iraq, a US newspaper reported....

The Lincoln Group helps translate and place the stories. The contractor's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance journalists or advertising executives to hand the stories to Iraqi papers.

Some senior US military officers in Iraq and at the Pentagon have criticized the operation, saying it could ruin the US military's credibility in other countries and with the US public.

"Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it," a senior Pentagon official who opposes the planting of stories was quoted as saying.

Much of the effort was being directed by the "Information Operations Task Force" in Baghdad, part of the multinational corps headquarters commanded by Army Lieutenant General John Vines, the newspaper said.

The task force has even bought an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, a military official said, refusing to name the outlets to protect their staff from insurgent attacks.

Of course, the Iranians and Saudis are probably doing much worse, but at least they do not pretend to be interested in truth, justice, etc.

Posted by Mike at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2005

Edmonds case dismissed, Supreme Court crumbles

There is no way these two stories are not related.

Supreme Court turns down appeal from fired translator


Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:57 AM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Monday the dismissal of a lawsuit by a former FBI linguist who said she had been fired in 2002 for speaking out about possible security breaches, misconduct and incompetent translation work.

Without any comment, the justices rejected an appeal by Sibel Edmonds, who worked as a contract linguist at the FBI's Washington field office from shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks until her dismissal the following March....

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the case after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used "state secrets privilege."

He warned that further disclosure of the duties of Edmonds and other translators could cause "serious damage to the national security interests of the United States."

Walton ruled that secret declarations from Ashcroft and a top FBI official demonstrated that the lawsuit could reveal classified information about intelligence-gathering methods and could disrupt diplomatic relations with foreign governments....

Justice Department attorneys said the appeals court's decision upholding the dismissal of the lawsuit was correct and that further review of the case was unwarranted. They said Ashcroft properly invoked the state secrets privilege after personally considering the matter.

Piece Falls From Supreme Court Facade


Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:52 AM ET

A basketball-sized piece of marble moulding fell from the facade over the entrance to the Supreme Court, landing on the steps near visitors waiting to enter the building.

No one was injured when the stone fell. The marble was part of the dentil moulding that serves as a frame for the frieze of statues atop the court's main entrance.

A group of visitors had just entered the building and had passed under the frieze when the stone fell at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Jonathan Fink, a government attorney waiting in line to attend arguments, said, "All of a sudden, these blocks started falling. It was like a thud, thud."

Ed Fisher, a government worker, said some of the marble pieces shattered, spraying the area with smaller chunks of stone. A group of students from Columbus, Ohio, pocketed some of the fragments as souvenirs, Fisher said.


Posted by Mike at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2005

Here is the video

You can download it here (4.8 MB), mirrored from Bare Knuckle Politics.

From DailyKos:


Oh, that's just great. Just great. From the Sunday Telegraph (UK):

A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

According to the Telegraph reporter, the video is even set to music: "Mystery Train", by Elvis Presley.

Posted by Mike at 06:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2005

To pre-merge or not to pre-merge?

One of life's greater mysteries, no doubt.

In general, I am not a Freakonomics fan, but Kos linked to this and I read it:


When I used to commute, there was one particular interchange where incivility ruled. (For those who know Chicago, it is where the Dan Ryan feeds into the Eisenhower.) There are two lanes when you exit the highway. One lane goes to other highway, the other goes to a surface street. Hardly anyone ever wants to go that surface street. There can be a half-mile backup of cars waiting patiently to get on the highway, and about 20% of the drivers rudely and illegally cut in at the last second after pretending they are heading toward the surface street. Every honest person that waits in line is delayed 15 minutes or more because of the cheaters.

Social scientists sometimes talk about the concept of “identity.” It is the idea that you have a particular vision of the kind of person you are, and you feel awful when you do things that are out of line with that vision. That leads you to take actions that are seemingly not in your short-run best interest. In economics, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton popularized the idea. I had read their papers, but in general have such a weak sense of identity that I never really understood what they were talking about. The first time I really got what they meant was when I realized that a key part of my identity was that I was not the kind of person who would cut in line to shorten my commute, even though it would be easy to do so, and seemed crazy to wait for 15 minutes in this long line. But, if I were to cut in line, I would have to fundamentally rethink the kind of person I was.

The fact that I don’t mind when my taxi driver cuts in these lines (actually, I kind of enjoy it) probably shows that I have a long ways to go in my moral development.

All this is actually just a rambling prelude to my main point. I was in New York City the other day and my taxi cab driver bypassed a long line of cars exiting the freeway to cut in at the last second. As usual, I enjoyed being an innocent bystander/beneficiary to this little crime. But what happened next was even more gratifying to the economist in me. A police officer was standing in the middle of the road, waving every car that cut in line over to the shoulder, where a second officer was handing out tickets like an assembly line. By my rough estimate, these two officers were giving out 30 tickets an hour at $115 a pop. At over $1,500 per officer per hour (assuming the tickets get paid), this was a fantastic money making proposition for the city. And it nails just the right people. Speeding doesn’t really hurt other people very much, except indirectly. So to my mind it makes much more sense to go directly after the mean-spirited behavior like cutting in line. This is very much in the spirit of Bratton’s “broken windows” policing philosophy. I’m not sure it cuts down the number of cheaters on the roads in any fundamental way since the probability of getting caught remains vanishly small. Still, the beauty of it is that (1) every driver that follows the rules feels a rush of glee over the rude drivers getting nailed, and (2) it is a very efficient way of taxing bad behavior.

So, my policy recommendation to police departments across the country is to find the spots on the roads that lend themselves to this sort of policing and let the fun begin.

A commenter immediately points out the corollary:


I gotta blame road designers for these “extended merge” situations also. The proliferation of stop lights on many road contributes to the problem as it creates more bottlenecks – more opportunities to pass people who have “pre-merged”.

The interesting thing to me, is that many of these situations would largely go away if a large number of drivers refuses to “pre merge.” I would like to see more drivers would do this as it’s “difficult” for one vehicle to occupy the empty lane as the “blocker” to prevent opportunists from racing by, but it is “easy” for a many vehicles to achieve the same end by filling up both lanes until the merge must occur. There’s something to strength in numbers.

It is true. If everyone waited until the merge point to merge, line jumping would not be a problem. I've even seen road signs in New York telling people not to merge yet, which is why I'm suprised about those traffic tickets being issued. However, I am a pre-merger myself, because the truth is that in many cases it is not possible or practical to wait for the merge point, and the only ones who do are usually the line-jumpers. As a result, a lot of pre-mergers will not let you merge. Single-lane exits are a clear case where you should pre-merge, but I think the easiest solution would be signs on the roads to clearly indicate when drivers should actually wait until the merge point and when they should not. If no sign, then pre-merge.

That way the cops would be on much clearer legal ground to give line-jumpers tickets, and drivers would no longer have to struggle with one of life's unanswered questions. To pre-merge or not to pre-merge?

Posted by Mike at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2005

Tis the Season

Maybe Laura Bush will bring them some hot chocolate:


Finding affordable housing in New York is hard enough for most, but victims of Hurricane Katrina are facing eviction from hotels and may end up ringing in the New Year in the city's homeless shelters.

That prospect led to shouting, anger and disgust at a meeting on Friday where officials took questions about the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to stop paying for hotel rooms beyond Dec. 1 for those stranded by Katrina.

FEMA says the decision is part of a push to get people into permanent housing, but those stranded in one of the world's most expensive cities complain of receiving scant help from a government that does not understand their desperate plight.

"When I lived in New Orleans, I had a house, a good job, an SUV and a Cadillac," said Joseph Melancon, 45, who left the meeting in frustration after many questions went unanswered. "And now I have a job here, but I don't have a place to live."

Melancon works as a cook, and said he "would be out of the street if it wasn't for the church."

After Dec. 1, the city of New York will help pay for some hotel bills for the 487 Katrina victims in New York hotels, but shelters might be the only option for some.

"While it's not the city's goal, we do have homeless shelters available," said Monica Parikh of the Department of Homeless Services.

I saw something about this on the news last night. They said the city agreed to pick up the tab for an extra month, which would mean they get kicked out of their hotel rooms on New Year's Day, instead.

Posted by Mike at 05:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cheney must have no sense of irony

From the AP:


"The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight. But any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false," Cheney said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Here is a quick pop quiz. Which of the following are true about AEI?

A) Cheney used to work there and his wife still does.
B) Main backers of Chalabi who also gave a speech there recently.
C) Supplied most of the "researchers" for the Office of Special Plans.
D) All of the above.

If you answered D, you're right, but D is for dishonest so you ought to be ashamed of yourself:


At the same time, Cheney pressed the administration's high-voltage attack on war critics, particularly Senate Democrats who voted in October 2002 to give Bush authority to go to war in Iraq and who now oppose his policy, calling them "dishonest and reprehensible."

Posted by Mike at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Syriana short for Say Iran?

Just a few interesting anagrams, inspired in part by the movie Syriana. I have seen a few of these before on the web.

SYRIANA
SAYRIAN
SAYIRAN

ABLEDANGER
ARBLEDANGE
ARABLEDNGE
ARABLEGDNE
ARABLEGEDN
ARABLEGEND

TORABORA
ATORBORA
ARTOBORA
ARATOBOR
ARABTOOR
ARABRTOO
ARABROTO
ARABROOT

POLOSTEP
LPOOSTEP
LOPOSTEP
LOSPOTEP
LOSTPOEP
LOSTPOPE

Posted by Mike at 02:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2005

Lying for a just cause?

We will hear a lot more of this in the months and years to come. Two responses come to mind. First, when you have a secret strategy that no one knows about, what happens if you are wrong? Second, how do you reconcile lying to justify a war and this small oath the President took in January 2001? As prescribed in the Constitution:


Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

From Jonah Goldberg:


A lie for a just cause

...What if Bush did lie, big time? What, exactly, would that mean? If you listen to Bush's critics, serious and moonbat alike, the answer is obvious: He'd be a criminal warmonger, a failed president and — most certainly — impeachment fodder. Even Bush's defenders agree that if Bush lied, it would be a grave sin. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently accused Harry Reid & Co. of becoming "Clare Boothe Luce Democrats" for even suggesting that Bush would deceive the public. Luce, a Republican, had insisted that FDR "lied us into war." And this, the Journal editorialized, was a "slander" many paranoid Republicans took to their graves.

...Even the most cursory reading of any presidential biography will tell you that statesmanship requires occasional duplicity. If great foreign policy could be conducted Boy Scout-style — "I will never tell a lie" — foreign policy would be easy (and Jimmy Carter would be hailed as the American Bismarck). This isn't to say that the public's trust should be breached lightly, but there are other competing goods involved in any complex situation.

Now, you might say that Iraq was no WWII, Saddam was no Hitler, and 9/11 was no Pearl Harbor. Those are all fair arguments with varying degrees of merit. But WWII wasn't "the good war" in our hearts until after Pearl Harbor and even until after the Holocaust, and a lot of Hollywood burnishing.

The Bush Doctrine is not chiefly about WMD and never was. Like FDR's vision, it balances democracy, security and morality. Still, the media and anti-Bush partisans have been bizarrely unmoved by the revelations of Hussein's killing fields, his torture chambers for tots and democracy's tangible progress in the Middle East.

If Bush succeeds — still a big if — the painful irony for Bush's critics is that he will go down in history as a great president, even if he lied, while they will take their paranoia to their graves.

As a reminder, here is the definition of faithful:


faith·ful

adj.

Adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, cause, or idea; loyal.
Having or full of faith.
Worthy of trust or belief; reliable.
Consistent with truth or actuality: a faithful reproduction of the portrait.


Posted by Mike at 07:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Want to hide something from Congress?

Put it in a reading room. Apparently none of them read very much.

From CNN:


STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: They were looked at by the Silberman-Rob Commission. They were looked at by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Both of them concluded that there was no manipulation of intelligence.

ENSOR: But, in fact, no commission or committee has yet spoken on whether the White House misrepresented pre-war intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee, under pressure from Democrats, is working on it. The orders to the Silverman Commission from the White House specifically left it out.

LAURENCE SILBERMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, IRAQ WMD COMMISSION: Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policy makers and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.

ENSOR: There is, however, plenty of blame to go around. Congress may have voted on Iraq without doing its homework. Members could read the 92-page national intelligence estimate by signing in at a reading room to do so. "The Washington Post" reported that no more than six senators and a handful of house members took time to read beyond the five-page executive summary.

From former Senator Bob Graham:


Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.

The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.


Posted by Mike at 01:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Former General Odom on the Iraq War

The former head of the NSA lists nine reasons people say we have to stay the course:


1) We would leave behind a civil war.

2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.

3) It would embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy.

4) Iraq would become a haven for terrorists.

5) Iranian influence in Iraq would increase.

6) Unrest might spread in the region and/or draw in Iraq's neighbors.

7) Shiite-Sunni clashes would worsen.

8) We haven’t fully trained the Iraqi military and police forces yet.

9) Talk of deadlines would undercut the morale of our troops.

Then he explains why the opposite is true in every single case.

Finally, he concludes:


The US invasion of Iraq only serves the interest of:

1) Osama bin Laden (it made Iraq safe for al Qaeda, positioned US military personnel in places where al Qaeda operatives can kill them occasionally, helps radicalize youth throughout the Arab and Muslim world, alienates America's most important and strongest allies – the Europeans – and squanders US military resources that otherwise might be finishing off al Qaeda in Pakistan.);

2) The Iranians (who were invaded by Saddam and who suffered massive casualties in an eight year war with Iraq.);

3) And the extremists in both Palestinian and Israeli political circles (who don't really want a peace settlement without the utter destruction of the other side, and probably believe that bogging the United States down in a war in Iraq that will surely become a war between the United States and most of the rest of Arab world gives them the time and cover to wipe out the other side.)

I disagree. The invasion itself is not the problem. The occupation is the problem. Why is their an occupation? The real reason for the invasion was to "strength our position in the region" not to liberate Iraq. They were so fearful of giving up control of the occupation to the UN that they failed to realize the UN - or NATO - was in fact the only possible path to strengthen our position in Iraq, not weaken it.

Posted by Mike at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Alito versus the Warren Court?

Alito has some serious explaining to do. People can change, but has he?


The Warren Court, as it became known, ended public school segregation and established the election principle of one-man one-vote.

"The part that jeopardizes it (Alito's nomination) more is his quotes in there saying that he had strong disagreement with the Warren Court particularly on reapportionment — one man, one vote," Biden told "Fox News Sunday."

"The fact that he questioned abortion and the idea of quotas is one thing. The fact that he questioned the idea of the legitimacy of the reapportionment decisions of the Warren Court is even something well beyond that," Biden said.

In the document, Alito wrote, "In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause and reapportionment," he said.

Biden said the chances of a filibuster against Alito had increased because of Alito's assertions in the document.

"If he really believes that reapportionment is a questionable decision — that is, the idea of Baker v. Carr, one man, one vote — then clearly, clearly, you'll find a lot of people, including me, willing to do whatever they can to keep him off the court. ... That would include a filibuster, if need be," Biden said.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision in 1962 in Baker v. Carr, ruled that arbitrarily drawn legislative districts can be challenged in federal court.


Posted by Mike at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2005

Belly Slap?

You know someone threw in "Belly Slap" to downplay the other ones on the list. My high school teammates used to do that one. It was a freshman initiation right and far short of a mock execution:


The six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," as sources called them, were used on a dozen top Al-Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe, ABC said.

In "Belly Slap," interrogators deliver "a hard open-handed slap to the stomach" intended to cause pain but not internal injury.

In "Long Time Standing," prisoners are forced to stand handcuffed and shackled for more than 40 hours.

In "The Cold Cell" a prisoner is made to stand naked in a cell kept near 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) and is continually doused with cold water.

Water Boarding brings results within seconds, the sources said. A prisoner is tied onto a board with his feet higher than his head, and his face is wrapped in cellophane. When water is poured over him, he begins to gag and begs to confess, sources told ABC.

"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told ABC.


Posted by Mike at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2005

List of Congress members supporting Able Danger

From Weldon's office:


Below is a list of those who have signed Congressman Weldon's letter to Secretary Rumsfeld requesting open hearings for ABLE DANGER members...

Republican (144)

Curt Weldon (R-PA)
David L. Hobson, (R-OH)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Joel Hefley (R-CO)
Todd Russell Platts (R-PA)
Tom Davis (R-VA)
Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
Charles W. Dent (R-PA)
Jim Ramstad (R-MN)
Mark Souder (R-IN)
Phil English (R-PA)
Michael McCaul (R-TX)
Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Christopher Shays (R-CT)
Walter B. Jones (R-NC)
Charles H. Taylor (R-NC)
John L. Mica (R-FL)
John T. Doolittle (R-CA)
Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)
Nathan Deal (R-GA)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Donald A. Manzullo (R-IL)
Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA)
Ralph M. Hall (R-TX)
John E. Peterson (R-PA)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Michael N. Castle (R-DE)
Geoff Davis (R-KY)
J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
Fred Upton (R-MI)
Rob Simmons (R-CT)
Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Henry Bonilla (R-TX)
Virgil H. Goode, Jr. (R-VA)
Howard Coble (R-NC)
Jim Gibbons (R-NV)
Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY)
Dan Burton (R-IN)
Joseph R.Pitts (R-PA)
Jim Gerlach (R-PA)
Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Rodney Alexander (R-LA)
Ellen Gallegly (R-CA)
Don Sherwood (R-PA)
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Chris Chocola (R-IN)
Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Ron Lewis (R-KY)
Rob Aderholt (R-AL)
Randy J. Forbes (R-VA)
Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ)
John E. Sweeney (R-NY)
Michael R. Turner (R-OH)
Dennis R. Rehberg (R-MT-At Large)
Tom Osborne (R-NE)
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
John Linder (R-GA)
Todd W. Akin (R-MO)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
Robin Hayes (R-NC)
John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN)
Bob Inglis (R-SC)
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Lee Terry (R-NE)
Dave Weldon (R-FL)
Nancy L. Johnson (R-CT)
Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
Melissa Hart (R-PA)
John Sullivan (R-OK)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Adam H. Putnam (R-FL)
Don Young (R-AK-At Large)
Peter King (R-NY)
Daniel E. Lungren (R-CA)
Michael T. McCaul (R-TX)
Katherine Harris (R-FL)
John Hostettler (R-IN)
Paul E. Gillmor (R-OH)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Michael Simpson (R-ID)
Tom Price (R-GA)
Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
Michael Bilirakis (R-FL)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
Henry E. Brown, Jr. (R-SC)
Thomas G. Tancredo (R-CO)
Terry Everett (R-AL)
Robert Ney (R-OH)
Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
Wally Herger (R-CA)
Mark Foley (R-FL)
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)
Mike Rogers (R-MI)
John J. H. "Joe" Schwarz (R-MI)
Jon C. Porter (R-NV)
Kay Granger (R-TX)
Greg Walden (R-OR)
Mary Bono (R-CA)
Anne Northup (R-KY)
John Kline (R-MN)
Frank D. Lucas (R-OK)
Candice S. Miller (R-MI)
William Jenkins (R-TN)
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
Sue W. Kelly (R-NY)
Mike Pence (R-IN)
Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)
Cathy McMorris (R-WA)
Ralph Regula (R-OH)
John Carter (R-TX)
Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
James Leach (R-IA)
Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
John McHugh (R-NY)
Tim Murphy (R-PA)
Barbara Cubin (R-WY-at large)
Michael Conaway (R-TX)
Chris Cannon (R-UT)
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Jim Ryun (R-KS)
Jeb Bradley (R-NH)
Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH)
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Bill Young (R-FL)
Melissa Bean (D-IL)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Ed Royce (R-CA)
Tom Cole (R-OK)
Patrick Tiberi (R-OH)

Democrats (100)

John Murtha, John P. (D-PA)
Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)
Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX)
Joe Baca (D-CA)
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)
James R. Langevin (D-RI)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Ed Pastor (D-AZ)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Loretta T. Sanchez (D-CA)
Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)
Neil Abercrombie (D -HI)
Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Madeline Z. Bordallo (D-GU)
Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)
Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV)
Robert Brady (D-PA)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Tim Holden (D-PA)
G.K. Butterfield (D-NC)
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)
James E. Clyburn (D-SC)
Steve Israel (D-NY)
Harold Ford (D-TN)
John Larson (D-CT)
Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS)
Ken Meek (D-FL)
John Dingell (D-MI)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Vernon J. Ehlers (D-MI)
Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL)
Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN)
Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA)
David Wu (D-OR)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Ruben HinoJosa (D-TX)
John M. Spratt, Jr. (D-SC)
Norman D. Dicks (D-WA)
Edward Markey (D-MA)
Jane Harman (D-CA)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Bart Stupak (D-MI)
Susan A. Davis (D-CA)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Hilda Solis (D-CA)
Gene Green (D-TX)
Martin T. Meehan (D-MA)
Marion Berry (D-AR)
Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
James P. Moran (D-VA)
Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Lane Evans (D-IL)
Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
Bill Delahunt (D-MA)
Rick Larsen (D-WA)
Robert E. (Bud) Cramer, Jr. (D-AL)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA)
Richard E. Neal (D-MA)
Al Green (D-TX)
Robert Wexler (D-FL)
John T. Salazar (D-CO)
Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Mike Thompson (D-CA)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Joseph Crowley (D-NY)
Robert Andrews (D-NJ)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
George Miller (D-CA)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Michael Honda (D-CA)
Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Jerry Costello (D-IL)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)
Allen Boyd (D-FL)

Independent (1)

Bernard Sanders (VT-at large)


Posted by Mike at 07:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2005

Open Source Media at OSM.ORG?

This AP story does not say, but that's the URL they are using. If you go there and click on the forgot your password link you get a message telling you that you can contact some one at pajamasmedia.com. It also looks like they are using Zope to run the site. Here is what you get if you leave off the www and type http://osm.org:


Zope Quick Start

Welcome to Zope, a high-performance object-oriented platform for building dynamic Web applications.

Let's just say I am skeptical of how bi-partisan this will be, considering that it was founded by Roger L. Simon and Charles Johnson. The long list of liberal bloggers included as contributors seem to consists of David Corn and.... David Corn.

Anyway, here is the story:


A media Web site scheduled to debut Wednesday will seek to blend traditional journalism with the freeform commentary developed through the emerging Web format known as blogs.

Some 70 Web journalists, including Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and David Corn, Washington editor of the Nation magazine, have agreed to participate in OSM — short for Open Source Media.

OSM will link to individual blog postings and highlight the best contributions, chosen by OSM editors, in a special section. Bloggers will be paid undisclosed sums based on traffic they generate.

The ad-supported OSM site will also carry news feeds from Newstex, which in turn receives stories from The Associated Press, Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service and other traditional media organizations.

The URL is apparently still secret, but it was not very hard to guess. You can preview the site here.

Here is a post by Kos about Pajamas Media:


I have no opinion on that Pajamas Media project by a bunch of mostly conservative bloggers. It's hard to have an opinion on something that is so utterly undefined as their new blog venture. No one knows what the heck it's supposed to be. Weblogs Inc just sold to AOL for $25 million, so there's money to be made with these things if done correctly. Whether the Pajamas folks have a winning formula remains to be seen.

But seriously, if it's true that Judy Miller is keynoting their big announcement gala, it's not exactly the most auspicious beginning.

The Poorman had a great post on PJ last week, too.

Also see this post by Atrios:


PJ Media's name gets worse.

Don't anyone tell Chris Lydon. Something tells me his Open Source Media, Inc., isn't the same one...

Here is an interesting post, too:


I’ve received a number of emails asking me for details about what happened to Luke Ford. As many of you know, I wrote a post yesterday questioning the wisdom of Pajamas Media bringing Ford on as a contributor given his associations with the pornography industry. Well, I can confirm the fact that Luke is no longer part of Pajamas Media. And as I don’t want speculation to rule the day on this particular subject, I’m going to share what I know.

Posted by Mike at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

November 13, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck nationwide

Great review from Harold Evans of the BBC with some quotes I did not want to lose track of once the article expires:


I remember years later asking Fred Friendly about it. "Here's the answer," he roared, his big hand gripping my shoulder: "Television makes so much money doing its worst it can't afford to do its best."

...The film pointedly opens not with a McCarthy scene but Murrow on stage telling television's merchant princes that they had given over their medium to "decadence, escapism and insulation".

...Murrow had warned it would happen: "If we go on as we are then history will take its revenge and retribution will not be limp in catching up with us."

...Let Murrow himself have the last word: "The instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes and it can even inspire. But it can only do so to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box."

Even better, here is the full speech. Keep reading for the text.

EDWARD R. MURROW

RTNDA Convention
Chicago
October 15, 1958

This just might do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous thoughts. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television.

I have no technical advice or counsel to offer those of you who labor in this vineyard that produces words and pictures. You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know.

You should also know at the outset that, in the manner of witnesses before Congressional committees, I appear here voluntarily-by invitation-that I am an employee of the Columbia Broadcasting System, that I am neither an officer nor a director of that corporation and that these remarks are of a "do-it-yourself" nature. If what I have to say is responsible, then I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Seeking neither approbation from my employers, nor new sponsors, nor acclaim from the critics of radio and television, I cannot well be disappointed. Believing that potentially the commercial system of broadcasting as practiced in this country is the best and freest yet devised, I have decided to express my concern about what I believe to be happening to radio and television. These instruments have been good to me beyond my due. There exists in mind no reasonable grounds for personal complaint. I have no feud, either with my employers, any sponsors, or with the professional critics of radio and television. But I am seized with an abiding fear regarding what these two instruments are doing to our society, our culture and our heritage.

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.

For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally. If there were to be a competition in indifference, or perhaps in insulation from reality, then Nero and his fiddle, Chamberlain and his umbrella, could not find a place on an early afternoon sustaining show. If Hollywood were to run out of Indians, the program schedules would be mangled beyond all recognition. Then some courageous soul with a small budget might be able to do a documentary telling what, in fact, we have done--and are still doing--to the Indians in this country. But that would be unpleasant. And we must at all costs shield the sensitive citizens from anything that is unpleasant.

I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable, restrained and more mature than most of our industry's program planners believe. Their fear of controversy is not warranted by the evidence. I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is--an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate.

Several years ago, when we undertook to do a program on Egypt and Israel, well-meaning, experienced and intelligent friends shook their heads and said, "This you cannot do--you will be handed your head. It is an emotion-packed controversy, and there is no room for reason in it." We did the program. Zionists, anti-Zionists, the friends of the Middle East, Egyptian and Israeli officials said, with a faint tone of surprise, "It was a fair count. The information was there. We have no complaints."

Our experience was similar with two half-hour programs dealing with cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Both the medical profession and the tobacco industry cooperated in a rather wary fashion. But in the end of the day they were both reasonably content. The subject of radioactive fall-out and the banning of nuclear tests was, and is, highly controversial. But according to what little evidence there is, viewers were prepared to listen to both sides with reason and restraint. This is not said to claim any special or unusual competence in the presentation of controversial subjects, but rather to indicate that timidity in these areas is not warranted by the evidence.

Recently, network spokesmen have been disposed to complain that the professional critics of television have been "rather beastly." There have been hints that somehow competition for the advertising dollar has caused the critics of print to gang up on television and radio. This reporter has no desire to defend the critics. They have space in which to do that on their own behalf. But it remains a fact that the newspapers and magazines are the only instruments of mass communication which remain free from sustained and regular critical comment. If the network spokesmen are so anguished about what appears in print, let them come forth and engage in a little sustained and regular comment regarding newspapers and magazines. It is an ancient and sad fact that most people in network television, and radio, have an exaggerated regard for what appears in print. And there have been cases where executives have refused to make even private comment or on a program for which they were responsible until they heard'd the reviews in print. This is hardly an exhibition confidence.

The oldest excuse of the networks for their timidity is their youth. Their spokesmen say, "We are young; we have not developed the traditions nor acquired the experience of the older media." If they but knew it, they are building those traditions, creating those precedents everyday. Each time they yield to a voice from Washington or any political pressure, each time they eliminate something that might offend some section of the community, they are creating their own body of precedent and tradition. They are, in fact, not content to be "half safe."

Nowhere is this better illustrated than by the fact that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission publicly prods broadcasters to engage in their legal right to editorialize. Of course, to undertake an editorial policy, overt and clearly labeled, and obviously unsponsored, requires a station or a network to be responsible. Most stations today probably do not have the manpower to assume this responsibility, but the manpower could be recruited. Editorials would not be profitable; if they had a cutting edge, they might even offend. It is much easier, much less troublesome, to use the money-making machine of television and radio merely as a conduit through which to channel anything that is not libelous, obscene or defamatory. In that way one has the illusion of power without responsibility.

So far as radio--that most satisfying and rewarding instrument--is concerned, the diagnosis of its difficulties is rather easy. And obviously I speak only of news and information. In order to progress, it need only go backward. To the time when singing commercials were not allowed on news reports, when there was no middle commercial in a 15-minute news report, when radio was rather proud, alert and fast. I recently asked a network official, "Why this great rash of five-minute news reports (including three commercials) on weekends?" He replied, "Because that seems to be the only thing we can sell."

In this kind of complex and confusing world, you can't tell very much about the why of the news in broadcasts where only three minutes is available for news. The only man who could do that was Elmer Davis, and his kind aren't about any more. If radio news is to be regarded as a commodity, only acceptable when saleable, then I don't care what you call it--I say it isn't news.

My memory also goes back to the time when the fear of a slight reduction in business did not result in an immediate cutback in bodies in the news and public affairs department, at a time when network profits had just reached an all-time high. We would all agree, I think, that whether on a station or a network, the stapling machine is a poor substitute for a newsroom typewriter.

One of the minor tragedies of television news and information is that the networks will not even defend their vital interests. When my employer, CBS, through a combination of enterprise and good luck, did an interview with Nikita Khrushchev, the President uttered a few ill-chosen, uninformed words on the subject, and the network practically apologized. This produced a rarity. Many newspapers defended the CBS right to produce the program and commended it for initiative. But the other networks remained silent.

Likewise, when John Foster Dulles, by personal decree, banned American journalists from going to Communist China, and subsequently offered contradictory explanations, for his fiat the networks entered only a mild protest. Then they apparently forgot the unpleasantness. Can it be that this national industry is content to serve the public interest only with the trickle of news that comes out of Hong Kong, to leave its viewers in ignorance of the cataclysmic changes that are occurring in a nation of six hundred million people? I have no illusions about the difficulties reporting from a dictatorship, but our British and French allies have been better served--in their public interest--with some very useful information from their reporters in Communist China.

One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the coporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this. It is not easy for the same small group of men to decide whether to buy a new station for millions of dollars, build a new building, alter the rate card, buy a new Western, sell a soap opera, decide what defensive line to take in connection with the latest Congressional inquiry, how much money to spend on promoting a new program, what additions or deletions should be made in the existing covey or clutch of vice-presidents, and at the same time-- frequently on the same long day--to give mature, thoughtful consideration to the manifold problems that confront those who are charged with the responsibility for news and public affairs.

Sometimes there is a clash between the public interest and the corporate interest. A telephone call or a letter from the proper quarter in Washington is treated rather more seriously than a communication from an irate but not politically potent viewer. It is tempting enough to give away a little air time for frequently irresponsible and unwarranted utterances in an effort to temper the wind of criticism.

Upon occasion, economics and editorial judgment are in conflict. And there is no law which says that dollars will be defeated by duty. Not so long ago the President of the United States delivered a television address to the nation. He was discoursing on the possibility or probability of war between this nation and the Soviet Union and Communist China--a reasonably compelling subject. Two networks CBS and NBC, delayed that broadcast for an hour and fifteen minutes. If this decision was dictated by anything other than financial reasons, the networks didn't deign to explain those reasons. That hour-and-fifteen-minute delay, by the way, is about twice the time required for an ICBM to travel from the Soviet Union to major targets in the United States. It is difficult to believe that this decision was made by men who love, respect and understand news.

So far, I have been dealing largely with the deficit side of the ledger, and the items could be expanded. But I have said, and I believe, that potentially we have in this country a free enterprise system of radio and television which is superior to any other. But to achieve its promise, it must be both free and enterprising. There is no suggestion here that networks or individual stations should operate as philanthropies. But I can find nothing in the Bill of Rights or the Communications Act which says that they must increase their net profits each year, lest the Republic collapse. I do not suggest that news and information should be subsidized by foundations or private subscriptions. I am aware that the networks have expended, and are expending, very considerable sums of money on public affairs programs from which they cannot hope to receive any financial reward. I have had the privilege at CBS of presiding over a considerable number of such programs. I testify, and am able to stand here and say, that I have never had a program turned down by my superiors because of the money it would cost.

But we all know that you cannot reach the potential maximum audience in marginal time with a sustaining program. This is so because so many stations on the network--any network--will decline to carry it. Every licensee who applies for a grant to operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity makes certain promises as to what he will do in terms of program content. Many recipients of licenses have, in blunt language, welshed on those promises. The money-making machine somehow blunts their memories. The only remedy for this is closer inspection and punitive action by the F.C.C. But in the view of many this would come perilously close to supervision of program content by a federal agency.

So it seems that we cannot rely on philanthropic support or foundation subsidies; we cannot follow the "sustaining route"--the networks cannot pay all the freight--and the F.C.C. cannot or will not discipline those who abuse the facilities that belong to the public. What, then, is the answer? Do we merely stay in our comfortable nests, concluding that the obligation of these instruments has been discharged when we work at the job of informing the public for a minimum of time? Or do we believe that the preservation of the Republic is a seven-day-a-week job, demanding more awareness, better skills and more perseverance than we have yet contemplated.

I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained study of the state of the nation. Heywood Broun once said, "No body politic is healthy until it begins to itch." I would like television to produce some itching pills rather than this endless outpouring of tranquilizers. It can be done. Maybe it won't be, but it could. Let us not shoot the wrong piano player. Do not be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste. All are responsible to stockholders, and in my experience all are honorable men. But they must schedule what they can sell in the public market.

And this brings us to the nub of the question. In one sense it rather revolves around the phrase heard frequently along Madison Avenue: The Corporate Image. I am not precisely sure what this phrase means, but I would imagine that it reflects a desire on the part of the corporations who pay the advertising bills to have the public image, or believe that they are not merely bodies with no souls, panting in pursuit of elusive dollars. They would like us to believe that they can distinguish between the public good and the private or corporate gain. So the question is this: Are the big corporations who pay the freight for radio and television programs wise to use that time exclusively for the sale of goods and services? Is it in their own interest and that of the stockholders so to do? The sponsor of an hour's television program is not buying merely the six minutes devoted to commercial message. He is determining, within broad limits, the sum total of the impact of the entire hour. If he always, invariably, reaches for the largest possible audience, then this process of insulation, of escape from reality, will continue to be massively financed, and its apologist will continue to make winsome speeches about giving the public what it wants, or "letting the public decide."

I refuse to believe that the presidents and chairmen of the boards of these big corporations want their corporate image to consist exclusively of a solemn voice in an echo chamber, or a pretty girl opening the door of a refrigerator, or a horse that talks. They want something better, and on occasion some of them have demonstrated it. But most of the men whose legal and moral responsibility it is to spend the stockholders' money for advertising are removed from the realities of the mass media by five, six, or a dozen contraceptive layers of vice-presidents, public relations counsel and advertising agencies. Their business is to sell goods, and the competition is pretty tough.

But this nation is now in competition with malignant forces of evil who are using every instrument at their command to empty the minds of their subjects and fill those minds with slogans, determination and faith in the future. If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon us. We are engaged in a great experiment to discover whether a free public opinion can devise and direct methods of managing the affairs of the nation. We may fail. But we are handicapping ourselves needlessly.

Let us have a little competition. Not only in selling soap, cigarettes and automobiles, but in informing a troubled, apprehensive but receptive public. Why should not each of the 20 or 30 big corporations which dominate radio and television decide that they will give up one or two of their regularly scheduled programs each year, turn the time over to the networks and say in effect: "This is a tiny tithe, just a little bit of our profits. On this particular night we aren't going to try to sell cigarettes or automobiles; this is merely a gesture to indicate our belief in the importance of ideas." The networks should, and I think would, pay for the cost of producing the program. The advertiser, the sponsor, would get name credit but would have nothing to do with the content of the program. Would this blemish the corporate image? Would the stockholders object? I think not. For if the premise upon which our pluralistic society rests, which as I understand it is that if the people are given sufficient undiluted information, they will then somehow, even after long, sober second thoughts, reach the right decision--if that premise is wrong, then not only the corporate image but the corporations are done for.

There used to be an old phrase in this country, employed when someone talked too much. It was: "Go hire a hall." Under this proposal the sponsor would have hired the hall; he has bought the time; the local station operator, no matter how indifferent, is going to carry the program-he has to. Then it's up to the networks to fill the hall. I am not here talking about editorializing but about straightaway exposition as direct, unadorned and impartial as falliable human beings can make it. Just once in a while let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey of the state of American education, and a week or two later the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thoroughgoing study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the stockholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen other than that a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country, and therefore the future of the corporations? This method would also provide real competition between the networks as to which could outdo the others in the palatable presentation of information. It would provide an outlet for the young men of skill, and there are some even of dedication, who would like to do something other than devise methods of insulating while selling.

There may be other and simpler methods of utilizing these instruments of radio and television in the interests of a free society. But I know of none that could be so easily accomplished inside the framework of the existing commercial system. I don't know how you would measure the success or failure of a given program. And it would be hard to prove the magnitude of the benefit accruing to the corporation which gave up one night of a variety or quiz show in order that the network might marshal its skills to do a thorough-going job on the present status of NATO, or plans for controlling nuclear tests. But I would reckon that the president, and indeed the majority of shareholders of the corporation who sponsored such a venture, would feel just a little bit better about the corporation and the country.

It may be that the present system, with no modifications and no experiments, can survive. Perhaps the money-making machine has some kind of built-in perpetual motion, but I do not think so. To a very considerable extent the media of mass communications in a given country reflect the political, economic and social climate in which they flourish. That is the reason ours differ from the British and French, or the Russian and Chinese. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live. I would like to see it done inside the existing framework, and I would like to see the doing of it redound to the credit of those who finance and program it. Measure the results by Nielsen, Trendex or Silex-it doesn't matter. The main thing is to try. The responsibility can be easily placed, in spite of all the mouthings about giving the public what it wants. It rests on big business, and on big television, and it rests at the top. Responsibility is not something that can be assigned or delegated. And it promises its own reward: good business and good television.

Perhaps no one will do anything about it. I have ventured to outline it against a background of criticism that may have been too harsh only because I could think of nothing better. Someone once said--I think it was Max Eastman--that "that publisher serves his advertiser best who best serves his readers." I cannot believe that radio and television, or the corporation that finance the programs, are serving well or truly their viewers or listeners, or themselves.

I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.

We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small traction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure would grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure--exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.

To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.

Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, "When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival.


Posted by Mike at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Great quotes from McCain about torture

From his op-ed accompanying the Newsweek article:


I was once physically coerced to provide my enemies with the names of the members of my flight squadron, information that had little if any value to my enemies as actionable intelligence. But I did not refuse, or repeat my insistence that I was required under the Geneva Conventions to provide my captors only with my name, rank and serial number. Instead, I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse. It seems probable to me that the terrorists we interrogate under less than humane standards of treatment are also likely to resort to deceptive answers that are perhaps less provably false than that which I once offered.

It was not until just now I realized waterboarding is mock execution. (It sounds almost like a candidate for a new Olympic event). Maybe we should start calling it what it is, a mock execution. Apparently, mock firing squads were also used:


Soldiers also staged mock executions with Sabbar and other detainees to terrorize and humiliate them. During one such execution, Sabbar and others were forced to stand against a wall in front of a firing squad. The squad simulated gunfire and then laughed as the detainees lost control of their bladders. Sabbar was also threatened by soldiers who told him they would send him to Guantánamo, where he would be killed.

Anyway, back to that McCain op-ed:


For instance, there has been considerable press attention to a tactic called "waterboarding," where a prisoner is restrained and blindfolded while an interrogator pours water on his face and into his mouth—causing the prisoner to believe he is being drowned. He isn't, of course; there is no intention to injure him physically. But if you gave people who have suffered abuse as prisoners a choice between a beating and a mock execution, many, including me, would choose a beating. The effects of most beatings heal. The memory of an execution will haunt someone for a very long time and damage his or her psyche in ways that may never heal. In my view, to make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture.

From the Wikipedia entry for mock execution:


Historical instances

In 1849, Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky became the victim of a now famous case of a mock execution. This traumatizing experience also shows up in his literary works.

Reports of mock executions by the US Marines in Iraq have surfaced in December 2004, as the ACLU published internal documents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents were written seven weeks after the publication of the photographs which triggered the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

From a biography of Dostoevsky, who happens to be my favorite author:


"Life is in ourselves and not in the external," writes Fyodor Dostoevsky in a letter to his brother dated December 22, 1849. "To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter--this is what life is, herein lies its task." (The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, xii)

This passage was written immediately after Dostoevsky underwent the traumatic experience that Tsar Nicholas I ordered for several prisoners condemned to death for supporting the expression of free thought within the Russian state--a mock execution in Semyonovsky Square, a staged performance so terrifyingly real that it induced insanity within one of the author's fellow prisoners. (The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Garnett, x) The quote is evidence of Dostoevsky's strength of character; his would be a difficult life--living in bleak poverty, he would helplessly watch as many of the people closest to him died from the ailments of the poor. It also exposes the significant flaw common to some of his characters and tragic heroes--through despair, and weakness before the weight of misfortune, they falter, and commit barbaric acts that render them unfit to operate within the context of humanity. This is the case with both Baklushkin and Shishkov from The House of the Dead, as well as with Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.

Obviously, Dostoyevsky was not a suspected terrorist, but it is interesting that mock execution techniques do not appear to have improved much in 150 years:


At a meeting in 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested by the order of Tsar Nicholas I, who had established laws controlling the expression of free thought. Dostoevsky was sentenced to death and was marched out to face a firing squad in Semenovsky Square, St Petersburg. At the last minute, it was revealed that the execution was staged and his sentence was commuted to exile and penal servitude, to be followed by army service.

Of course, there is also that famous chapter in The Brothers Karamazov entitled "The Grand Inquisitor", too:


"'The wise and dread spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and non-existence,' the old man goes on, great spirit talked with Thee in the wilderness, and we are told in the books that he "tempted" Thee. Is that so? And could anything truer be said than what he revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst reject, and what in the books is called "the temptation"? And yet if there has ever been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that day, on the day of the three temptations. The statement of those three questions was itself the miracle. If it were possible to imagine simply for the sake of argument that those three questions of the dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had to restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered together all the wise men of the earth -- rulers, chief priests, learned men, philosophers, poets -- and had set them the task to invent three questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but express in three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of the world and of humanity -- dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal to the three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the wise and mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions alone, from the miracle of their statement, we can see that we have here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but with the absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole subsequent history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into one whole, and foretold, and in them are united all the unsolved historical contradictions of human nature. At the time it could not be so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that fifteen hundred years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions was so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled, that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.

Posted by Mike at 09:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teenagers and guns

I think instead of treating gun-ownership like a drivers license, we might want to think about treating it more like alcohol, at least in terms of age. Obviously, you don't need a license to drink, which is not what I mean, but make people wait until they are 21 - and less impulsive - to legally own a gun. Sure, they can still go hunting with dad, but using his gun and with him along on the trip. Think of it as a learner's permit if you want to regulate it. When I read this article, the first memories that it brought to mind were not one but three incidents involving guns that happened among my otherwise normal classmates during my senior year in high school. The first one was almost exactly identical to the details below, same age range and same type of event, except that in that case the father ran for his own gun and instead of shooting him, the young man paused, never intending to shoot anyone. Then instead of killing him, the dad just grabbed the shot gun away from him. (The other two incidents both involved shots fired with hand guns, but neither really came close to hitting anyone). If you multiply that by a few thousand high schools nationwide, eventually something goes horribly wrong. From the AP:


LITITZ, Pa. - A 14-year-old girl was missing after her parents were shot to death in their home Sunday morning, and authorities were searching for her 18-year-old boyfriend, who reportedly abducted her at gunpoint.

Michael and Cathryn Borden, both 50, were found shot to death shortly after 8 a.m., Lititz Police Chief William Seace said.

The couple's 9-year-old son David, the youngest of five children, had fled to a neighbor's house and called 911, Seace said. An older daughter still living at home and two adult sons were also safe, he said.

But Kara Beth Borden, 14, was missing. Police said she was last seen that morning at the family's home in Warwick Township, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia, and was reportedly abducted at gunpoint....

Stephanie Mannon, 16, said Ludwig and Kara Borden had been seeing each other secretly.

"Their parents didn't approve of them being together" because of the age difference, she said. "It wasn't because he was a shady character, because he wasn't."


Posted by Mike at 06:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who is this Gordon England?

Weldon mentioned England in his press conference yesterday, saying that he had called Weldon and requested a meeting about Able Danger. After ninety minutes, England left shaking his head and saying "I don't know where I'm gonna go with this from here on." Anyway, how about that zinger buried in the second paragraph I pasted below. It's from near the end of the Newsweek cover story about the McCain amendment and torture:


Even McCain recognizes there could be rare instances when a president disobeys the law and orders a suspect tortured — say, if Al Qaeda had hidden a nuclear bomb in New York and a suspect involved in the plot had been captured. "You do what you have to do," McCain told NEWSWEEK. "But you take responsibility for it. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the Civil War, and FDR violated the Neutrality Acts before World War II."

Taking responsibility would be a new concept for the Bush administration. No high-ranking officer has been prosecuted in connection with the abuses, and no Pentagon official has even been publicly reprimanded. There are a number of senior officials openly pushing for some clear legal standard on detainee interrogations. Lately, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been warning Bush that America's low image in the world requires positive steps to take a stand against prisoner abuse. She is backed by national-security adviser Stephen Hadley and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. But Rumsfeld's position is unclear (often the case with the blunt but slippery Defense secretary), and Cheney remains adamantly opposed to any check on executive power. His new chief of staff (replacing the recently indicted I. Lewis Libby), the hawkish David Addington, has strongly attacked a draft directive from DoD's England that would require detainees to be treated in accordance with language drawn from Article Three of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture and cruel — "humiliating and degrading" —treatment. "Addington is not happy about the draft," says a Pentagon official who requested anonymity because the discussions are still confidential. He added sarcastically that Addington "would like us to be able to pull fingernails with pliers."

From England's Defense Department profile:


The Department of Defense announced May 13, 2005, that the President has designated Secretary of the Navy Gordon England to be Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, replacing Paul Wolfowitz whose resignation was effective May 13.

On April 7, 2005, the President nominated Secretary England for appointment as Deputy Secretary Defense. That nomination is pending in the Senate.

Gordon England was confirmed as the 73rd Secretary of the Navy on 26 September 2003 and sworn in on 1 October. He becomes only the second person in history to serve twice as the leader of the Navy-Marine Corps Team and the first to serve in back-to-back terms. Prior to his return to the Navy Department he was the first Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security was established on January 24, 2003, to integrate 22 different agencies with a common mission to protect the American people.

Secretary England served as the 72nd Secretary of the Navy from May 24, 2001, until he joined the Homeland Security in January 2003. As Secretary of the Navy, Mr. England leads America's Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $110 B and more than 800,000 personnel.

Prior to joining the administration of President George W. Bush, Mr. England served as executive vice president of General Dynamics Corporation from 1997 until 2001. In that position he was responsible for two major sectors of the corporation: Information Systems and International. Previously, he served as executive vice president of the Combat Systems Group, president of General Dynamics Fort Worth aircraft company (later Lockheed), president of General Dynamics Land Systems Company and as the principal of a mergers and acquisition consulting company.


Posted by Mike at 05:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2005

This is disturbing if it's true

From American Prospect:


NAME THAT CREEP. From Save Darfur:

The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127/S. 1462) continues to slowly move forward as Congress enters the home stretch of the legislative year prior to an as yet undetermined adjournment date in late November or early December. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar has favorably reported the bill out of committee, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has indicated his support for bringing the bill to the floor as soon as an anonymous hold is lifted. [Emphasis added]

Last April the White House sent a letter to House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis asking him to quash the Darfur Accountability Act (which was then attached to the Iraq supplemental) by the time it came out of the conference committee. I got ahold of that letter, as did Nicholas Kristof, and we held it up as yet another example of the administration's lily-livered response to genocide. It seems that the White House wanted to avoid repeating that embarrassment this time around so they gave their favorite hack a call and told that senator not to let the legislation even make it to conference committee. Disgusting.


Posted by Mike at 04:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2005

Weldon press conference on Able Danger tomorrow

From Congressman Weldon's web site:


PRESS CONFERENCE ON ABLE DANGER; NEW INFO EXPOSES MORE BLUNDERS BEFORE 9-11 & POINTS TO WIDER COVER-UP

WASHINGTON, Nov 8 - U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, will hold a press conference on Wednesday, November 9th at 12:30 p.m. in the House Radio/TV Gallery to discuss the latest findings from his investigation into Able Danger.

The latest findings include: information Able Danger provided to defense officials about terrorist activity in the Port of Aden prior to the terrorist attack on the USS Cole back in October 2000; a discovery of another Able Danger member who confirms a set of Able Danger data not accounted for by the Pentagon; recent statements by the 9-11 Commission about Able Danger; and the latest efforts by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to smear Able Danger member Lt. Col. Shaffer who broke the silence about the Pentagon’s efforts to track al-Qaeda worldwide prior to September 11.

WHAT: Press Conference with Congressman Curt Weldon on Able Danger

WHERE: House Radio/TV Gallery, The Capitol (H-321)

WHEN: Wednesday, 9 November 2005 at 12:30 p.m.

CONTACT: John G. Tomaszewski, (202) 225-2011

**Print media who do not have credentials may obtain a day pass at the House Print Gallery in H-315.


Posted by Mike at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Please hang up and dial 9-1-1

If you are an internet phone user you should read this CNN transcript:


COOPER: Cheryl, thank you so much for being with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.

CHERYL WALLER, INTERNET PHONE USER: Thank you.

COOPER: I know -- I can only imagine how painful this is for you. But take us back to that night. You realized the baby wasn't breathing. You called 911, what happened?

WALLER: The only thing I received on the other end was hang up and dial 911. If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911. So I did. Several times. And eventually I realized I wasn't getting anybody. So I grabbed her and I ran across the street and I had my neighbors call 911.

COOPER: And how long was it before help arrived?

WALLER: I don't know. It seemed like forever.

COOPER: When you signed up for phone service through the Internet with Vonage, you actually signed an agreement that acknowledged you weren't going to receive the traditional 911 services. They said that when you dial 911 the call is routed from the Vonage network to the public safety answering point or local emergency service personnel. That's what it said in the agreement. Did you realize you were signing that?

WALLER: That was never made clear to me. There's no way I would have ever had a 911 service in my house that was connected to a non- emergency number. I have several children in my home and now I have one less.

COOPER: Mike, you haven't filed a lawsuit yet. I understand the issue is being looked at by a number of states. What do you want to see happen?

MIKE SMITH, WALLER'S ATTORNEY: Well, Anderson, there's several things that we are hoping to accomplish. First of all, awareness. We want the public to be aware of the fact -- for those people that are signing up for 911 Internet service. We want them to be aware of the fact that what they are getting may not actually be the traditional 911 service that they think that they are getting.

In fact in this particular case Ms. Waller received an 11-page service agreement. And buried within the service agreement that had 54 sections -- buried within that is the terms that actually told you it's really limited 911 that you are getting. And we want the public to ask questions. Those people that have Vonage or any other Internet phone we want them to ask the question so when an emergency happens they don't find themselves in a situation that Ms. Waller did. COOPER: Cheryl, did you try to call Vonage? The next day I understand you called them. What did they say to you?

WALLER: They actually laughed and said they could not revive a baby.

COOPER: The person you called to that company laughed?

WALLER: Yes. They were -- it was a woman named Marcia (ph). She was laughing at me. She says, I can't revive a baby and then she thought she put me on hold and went in the background for another five minutes and laughed about it and joked about it.

COOPER: We spoke to a representative of Vonage who refused to address specifically the question of whether the death of your daughter had to do with the service but they did say this, they said, quote, "Our hearts go out to the Waller family and we are doing everything in our power to make sure that this never happens again. In the meantime, we are sending calls to live manned emergency centers. In the event we cannot send the calls to a live, manned emergency service center, we are sending the calls to a live manned phone line at a local law enforcement agency."

Cheryl, is this enough?

WALLER: No, because that live manned phone they say is at a police station, it could be the front desk where an operator went home for the day. That is not enough. Stop advertising you have 911. You don't have it. Stop advertising it.


Posted by Mike at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 04, 2005

Effort to make Able Danger disappear continues

The mainstream media has moved on, but the Pentagon maintains its stubborn focus on destroying Shaffer to keep others from speaking out.

Quoted verbatim from Captain Ed:


November 03, 2005

Shaffer Loses His Appeals

Earlier today, I received a message from Mark Zaid, attorney for Able Danger whistleblower Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer. The Defense Intelligence Agency has decided to proceed in revoking Col. Shaffer's clearance, a necessary component for his civilian job at the agency, and will likely terminate his employment. Zaid says:

Ed, in record breaking speed that to me clearly denotes selective retaliatory attention, the DIA's SAB has affirmed the revocation of Tony's security clearance. Unfortunately DIA has seen fit to completely disregard our submissions, and Cong Weldon and Hunters' formal requests to refrain from acting against Tony. This was the final stage of the process. There are no more administrative appeals left with respect to the clearance. A response to the indefinite suspension will be filed tomorrow. I expect that Tony will receive a notice of termination also in record breaking speed. That will take effect no sooner than thirty days from when received.

Since the Judiciary Committee has decided to schedule the Alito hearings in January, that gives them some free time between now and the end of their work sessions to haul the DIA in front of them and demand some answers. Given the old and picayune nature of the infractions that the DIA has used to challenge Shaffer's security clearance, their haste in closing this case strongly suggests that Zaid has it pegged; this termination surely comes as a vindictive ploy to warn other potential Able Danger witnesses not to cooperate with Congress.

That sounds like a terrible message to allow to pass unnoticed by the American public. While we understand the need for secrecy in dealing with some issues about the war on terror, we need to know that we have all the effective assets of intelligence work on line and functioning properly. We need to know exactly what Able Danger found, and what information got passed along and which got blocked by the DIA and Pentagon lawyers. Mostly, though, when the people's representatives demand that a government agency opens its books, it damned well better cooperate.


Posted by Mike at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2005

Coming full circle on Iraq

What possible better location could there be for a speech by the future democratically elected Prime Minister of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi?

Apparently Scooter Libby had a prior engagement and will not be available to make the introduction.

An Insider's View: Democratic Politics at Work in Iraq

A Foreign Policy Briefing from Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi

Start: Wednesday, November 9, 2005 2:30 PM

End: Wednesday, November 9, 2005 3:45 PM

Location: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

In the last year, Iraqis successfully elected a transitional government and overwhelmingly approved a new constitution. Despite continuing security challenges and a deepening sectarian divide, Iraqis are moving toward a functioning democracy. And while sectors of Iraq continue to lag, there is an untold story of economic reform.

Will the constitution provide the foundation for a democratic system that can be a model for the Middle East? What can be expected of the upcoming December parliamentary elections? Is Iraq moving beyond sectarian politics, or does the federalism model in the new constitution deepen the divide?

To address these and other issues, AEI welcomes Ahmad Chalabi, deputy prime minister of Iraq, to deliver his first public speech in the United States in more than two and a half years.


2:15 p.m. Registration

2:30 Introduction: Christopher DeMuth, AEI
Keynote Address: Ahmad Chalabi, deputy prime minister of Iraq

3:45 Adjournment

Posted by Mike at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Free expression is a basic human need

I still don't appreciate how DNC or RNC types characterize bloggers as "angry" but I do think these two news stories are probably related.

Anger is good for you


Anger is good for you, as long as you keep it below a boil, according to new psychology research based on face reading.

People who respond to stressful situations with short-term anger or indignation have a sense of control and optimism that lacks in those who respond with fear.

"These are the most exciting data I've ever collected," Carnegie Mellon psychologist Jennifer Lerner told a gathering of science writers here last month.

Lerner harassed 92 UCLA students by having experimenters ask subjects to count backward on camera by 13s starting with an odd number like 6,233, telling them it was an intelligence test and then telling them they weren't counting fast enough and to speed it up as they went along....

The researchers also recorded people's blood pressure, pulse and secretion of a high-stress hormone called cortisol, which can be measured in the saliva and collected with a cotton swab.

The people whose faces showed more fear during the test had higher blood pressure and higher levels of the hormone. The findings were the same for men and women.

Blogging for health


“When you find out you have cancer it changes your life completely. You go through shock you go through denial you go through a lot of deep emotions,” admitted Kairis.

So after chemotherapy, came a new prescription: online therapy, in the form of an internet journal.

Kairis' doctors now encourage patients to help themselves, and others, by writing about their experiences on the hospital's website.

“The benefits are tremendous,” according to Dr. Chinn treating Kairis. “You're basically creating your own virtual therapy and the good thing is you can cut in and cut out when you choose to and you can do it at your own pace.”

Kairis said, “It was a good chance to vent to tell the good and the bad and then other folks can know what to expect on a cancer journey.”


Posted by Mike at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 02, 2005

Talking about Able Danger is "unhelpful to our country"

Rumsfeld speaks, or double speaks as the case may be:


Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Lee Rodgers, Hot Talk KSFO San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

RODGERS: Since we mentioned several days ago that we had a few minutes with you this morning, I have gotten more e-mails from listeners asking me to ask you one question, more than on any other subject. The question has to do with this Able Danger investigation, and why can't military people involved talk about it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, they do and have talked about it. They've been up and testified before congressional committees and briefed people on a classified basis. What's been in the press is that some people feel that everything they say should be on an unclassified basis and the judgment apparently was made by the people involved that that would be unhelpful to our country. But in terms of talking to people about it, they've done it extensively.

The interesting thing about that is it's such an interesting story, of course it's something that occurred well before this Administration came in, back in the '90s as I understand it, and it's an interesting story.

The problem we've had is that our folks have spent a large amount of time trying to go in and look at all the records and see what they could find and haven't been able to validate it, which doesn't mean something wasn't so. It just means they've not been able to validate it.

The Department of Defense has provided literally volumes of information to multiple committees up there and if anyone else has any insights we're happy to open it up and go look somewhere else. But at some point if you can't find something, you can't find it.


Posted by Mike at 07:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Did Chalabi pass on the Niger forgeries?

From La Repubblica in Rome:


SISMI's War in Iraq: The Iranian Connection

...Twenty men are gathered around a large table, covered by maps of Iraq, Iran and Syria. The big cheese are Lawrence Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans, Michael Ledeen of the AIE, a SISMI chief accompanied by his assistant (the former is a balding man between 46 and 48 years of age; the latter is younger, around 38, with braces on his teeth) and some mysterious Iranians.

Pollari confirms the meeting to La Repubblica: When [Defense Minister Martino] asked me to organize the meeting, I became curious. But it was my job and I wasn't born yesterday. It's true—my men were also present at the meeting. I wanted to know what was cooking. It's also true that there were maps of Iraq and Iran on the table. I can tell you those Iranians were not exactly "exiles". The came and went from Tehran with their passports with no difficulty whatsoever as if they were transparent to the eyes of the Pasdaran.

So the Iranians were not exiles. They were not opponents of the regime of the ayatollahs. These men are members of the regime, sent by Tehran. If someone in Washington is wondering what the devil they were doing there on the eve of the invasion, in Rome, elbow-to-elbow with people from the Pentagon, we can supply some elucidation. But to make some sense out of the confusion, you have to listen to an American intelligence source, who has requested anonymity. He tells us: You Italians have always underestimated the work of conversion carried out Ahmed Chalabi, the chairman of Iraqi National Congress. You tend to omit this chapter from your side of the story because you think Ahmed concerns only the Americans. But that's not the way it is: he is also your business, far beyond anything you currently believe or imagine....

The bogus Italian dossier on the Niger uranium turns up [at the meeting] also—and we don't know exactly why--because Chalabi is in possession of it. Brooke is responsible for liaison between Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz and between the Pentagon and the Iraqi National Congress. He is more heeded in Tehran than Chalabi.

Hmm. Early 2002 was not exactly the "eve of the invasion" unless you count the Downing model. Which we might need to consider. It's also possible they got the date wrong. Anyway, see more details and speculation here.

Posted by Mike at 05:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This is not good news

From the Washington Post's blockbuster tomorrow:


More than 100 suspected terrorists have been sent by the CIA into the covert system, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials and foreign sources. This figure, a rough estimate based on information from sources who said their knowledge of the numbers was incomplete, does not include prisoners picked up in Iraq.

In other words, some of the prisoners are from Iraq. Here's hoping they were Al Qaeda transplants, not insurgents, or you could argue that's a war crime. Of course, you could argue Abu Ghraib was too, but it's a little harder to say this one didn't come from the top.

Posted by Mike at 12:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 01, 2005

Ahmed Chalabi - The Great Peacemaker

Please read this whole post or you will miss the punchline.

From the AP this afternoon:


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Politically savvy and a sharp dresser with a perpetual grin, Ahmad Chalabi has gone from Washington insider, to alleged Iranian spy, to someone the Bush administration cannot afford to ignore — all in the space of two years.

Chalabi, a deputy prime minister, plans to travel this month to Washington to refurbish a reputation tainted by the since-discredited claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. At home, Chalabi has quit a Shiite political alliance criticized for its strong ties to Iran.

All this points to one thing: Chalabi is maneuvering to become Iraq's next prime minister after elections in less than two months.

That might seem a long-shot for Chalabi, an MIT graduate and former banker who is a controversial figure at home and abroad. But his political acumen and ability to survive leave both friends and foes in awe....

In Washington, administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make announcements to the media, said efforts were under way to arrange meetings for Chalabi with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Chalabi's top aide, Haider al-Mousawi, said meetings with Treasury Secretary John Snow and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley also were in the works....

"Chalabi is entertaining hopes of an alliance between his new coalition, the Sadrists and Fadhila," said Ali al-Adeeb, a senior official of Dawa party. "He knows that it's the Islamic trend and not the liberals who will prevail in Iraq."

Chalabi is contesting the election on a single ticket that includes his Iraqi National Congress, a group that supports restoration of the monarchy and small Kurdish and Turkomen factions.

It's too late for other groups to join Chalabi before the election since the deadline for registering candidacies passed last Friday. But others such as Fadhila and the al-Sadr movement could forge an alliance in the new parliament.

Just ask Iraqis:


These days, when the U.S.-run administration in Baghdad takes confidential polls to gauge public support for its hand-picked Iraqi Governing Council, Chalabi's approval ratings are "the most negative by far" among the 25 members, says an official who's perused the results. "The numbers I've seen run around 60 percent negative to 30 percent positive." (March 8, 2004)

Even ask The New Yorker:


Iraqis have long seen him as an American puppet with no constituency at home; in polls, they have given Chalabi approval ratings lower than those for Saddam Hussein. (May 29, 2004)

For an added bonus, ask Doug Feith:


RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Salem Chalabi has been to the Hague and he's looked at post-war tribunals in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Balkans.

Now he's been appointed Director-General of the new Iraqi tribunal. He's appointed the seven judges and four prosecutors who will try Saddam Hussein and other from his regime who will be charged by the new tribunal.

SALEM CHALABI: We're trying to meet international standards of due process of law, so we don't want to do this in a very quick fashion. We have to organise it, we have to prepare it, we have to get the judges trained, we have to get the investigative judges to review the evidence – this is a long process.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Salem Chalabi may be a controversial choice. Many Iraqis are already frustrated with their inability to reach those in power, and the man running the tribunal is seen by some as one of those special few who access and control the corridors of power.

Iraqis want the tribunal and they want Saddam Hussein on trial, but the tribunal's critics say any perception it's an American creation, not genuinely independent, could diminish the public perception of its power.

According to the US newspaper The Hill, Chalabi's business partner Mark Zell runs a law firm with the US Undersecretary of Defence Douglas Feith, a key neo-conservative architect of the Iraq war. Feith's Pentagon office oversees the distribution of those reconstruction contracts.

But Salem Chalabi is confident the tribunal will be accepted. (April 22, 2004)

Even critics agree:


Chalabi for the Nobel Peace Prize...

At some point there is silence. This is the point when both sides are convinced that the other one is completely inane and ridiculously intractable. It’s sort of a huffy silence, with rolling eyes and lips drawn into thin slits of scorn.

I’ve learned the best way to mediate these arguments is to let them develop into what they will. Let the yellers yell, the shouters shout and the name-calling and innuendos ensue. The important part is the end- how to allow the debating parties to part friends or relatives, or (at the very least) to make sure they do not part sworn enemies for life. It’s simple, no matter what their stand is, all you have to do is get a couple of words in towards the end. The huffy silence at the end of the debate must be subtly taken advantage of and the following words murmured as if the thought just occurred that moment:

“You know who’s really bad? Ahmed Chalabi. He’s such a lowlife and villain.”

Voila. Like magic the air clears, eyebrows are raised in agreement and all arguing parties suddenly unite to confirm this very valid opinion with nodding heads, somewhat strained laughter and charming anecdotes about his various press appearances and ridiculous sense of fasion. We’re all friends again, and family once more. We’re all lovey-dovey Iraqis who can agree nicely with each other. In short, we are at peace with each other and the world.

And that is why Ahmed Chalabi deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. (March 9, 2005)

Chalabi for Prime Minister! 99.11% YES!!!

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"Forget about heart and eyes"

I wonder why the Chinese would be so interested in this?


Stomach tells who is lying

BEIJING, Nov. 1 -- Do you want to detect a liar? Looking into someone's stomach directly and forget about heart and eyes.

Changes in gastric physiology are a better indicator than standard polygraph methods in distinguishing between lying and telling the truth, a study released by the University of Texas suggests.

Polygraphs use electrocardiograms (ECGs) to measure changes in heart rate and sweating to detect lies. But researchers say the stomach and gastrointestinal tract are also extremely sensitive to stress, and this mind-stomach connection may betray even the best liars.

In the study, researchers measured changes in the stomach using an electrogastrogram (EGG) in 16 healthy volunteers while they did nothing, told the truth, or told a lie. The participants also had a simultaneous ECG to measure changes in heart rate. An ECG records electrical signals of the heart muscle; an EGG records electrical signals of the muscles of the stomach.

"We concluded that the addition of the EGG to standard polygraph methods has clear value in improving the accuracy of current lie detectors," said Pankaj Pasricha, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch. "The communication between the big brain and the little brain in the stomach can be complex and merits further study."

Researchers presented their results this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Honolulu.

Oh, now I remember, that's why:


Photo Evidence Tells of Grisly Torture in China

Abuse of Falun Gong Woman, Mutilated Breasts, “Too Disturbing to be Adequately Described in Words”

NEW YORK (FDI) — The Falun Dafa Information Center recently obtained photographs that provide startling evidence of torture in China at the hands of authorities. The photos reveals horrific mutilation of the breasts of Falun Gong adherent Ms. Wang Yunjie and bespeak of the continued violence perpetrated in China.


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