Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Me on my Birthday

This is me on my birthday, which happens to be today. No smile. I had a crappy day at work. Note to self: Next year, take the day off.

The Face of Big Oil

Rich white men. Surprised?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TO Blows

Guess how happy I am that TO got canned by the Eagles? Happy doesn’t just quite cut it. This reinforces my belief in justice, in karma, in character. This reinforces my belief that football is the greatest game ever played in professional sports. Name one NBA team that wouldn’t put up with TO’s antics to get the extra production on the court. Name one baseball club that wouldn’t look the other way to get a shot at the series. One hockey team that wouldn’t love to have a brawler like TO on the team.

I’m sure TO will get picked up by another team, but only a team so desperate that they’re willing to hand over the reins to him. Celizic thinks a few teams might find a way to fit him in, including the Broncos. I disagree that Owens could ever, under any circumstance, find a place in Denver, but he summed up the feelings of “the good citizens of the Mile High City” perfectly here:
Their idea of a hero is John Elway, an all-around great guy with a piano-key smile and an aw-shucks response to his own greatness.
I'll agree with that one. If you had John Elway, what more could you want?

Prison Break

I noticed a new sign on the highway near the exit onto Havana. I don't recall the actual wording, but it basically says "County Jail Nearby. Don't pick-up hitchhikers." And it's true. The Denver County Jail is right there on Smith Road and Havana, surrounded by barbed wire and overlooking the women's jail behind it. I drive by it all the time. The jail has been there for years and during the three years I've lived in this neighborhood, I've never seen a comparable sign, so it struck me that they would put it up now.

But then I see this. I do know that the Denver County Jail erected a tent in the yard to house prisoners because of over-crowding. You can see it from the road. Is that how this guy escaped? Is that why they put up the sign? Hmm...points to ponder.

Lame Duck Blues

President Bush gets the verbal take-down in the NYT this morning. (No NYT links on this blog, sorry.) The first line says all you need to know:

"After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run."


And yes, it is unnerving, not because I'm idealogically opposed to many of the president's policies, which I could live with since I believe the difference between right and left is largely rhetorical and thereby practically meaningless, but because it's clear that President Bush has been, as Google would say, a miserable failure. About the only feather in his cap is the removal of Saddam Hussein, which though hardly inconsequential, is certainly not a "Great American Accomplishment." Bush's reckless quest for Saddam is akin to the groundskeeper who tears up his golf course to kill a gopher.

Let's review. In 2001, Bush was more concerned with faith-based governing than terrorism. In August of that year, we learned that Bin Laden was determined to attack America, but at the same time, Bush was determined to clear his Crawford ranch of brush. A few months later, Bin Laden sent his men on a suicide hijack mission. Bush sent his men to "undisclosed locations." Leaving no job unfinished, Bush and his men started planning the invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that to this day Bin Laden remains free and presumably, still planning attacks. It soon became clear that invading Iraq had more to do with unfinished business than imminent WMD attacks or terrorism, and now, almost three years after the invasion, it's clear that our war plan was cooked up by naive amateurs guided by misplaced optimism. And that's just the foreign policy!

If Bush has proven anything in his five years in office, it's that he excels at campaigning and really sucks at governing. His presidential signature has been little more than a rubber stamp on every piece of legislation that has crossed his desk. His only threatened veto has been against the anti-torture legislation that takes away his ability to degrade and abuse his enemies. His ideas have gone over like lead balloons: a mission to Mars, heavy-handed federal oversight of the education system, massive tax cuts combined with massive spending increases, a "guest worker" plan for illegal immigrants, new inefficent bureacracies stocked with cronies, institutionalized discrimination against gay people, legislation written specifically for a single vegetative citizen, attempting to legalize torture. The list goes on.

The guy has been nothing but incompetent and wrong on almost every issue, even the conservative ones. And yes, I suppose you could say I'm biased, because I'm not exactly a Republican stooge, but I feel that Bush's supporters, and there are still a few (few being the operative word) are victims of low expectations. They're blinded by the fact that one of their own (ie, a Republican) is in charge, that they don't stop to consider whether he's doing a good job. They don't consider the future damage Bush's policies will do to our country.

Try getting even friendly Muslims to back us after Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. Try balancing the budget after Bush's economic policies managed to squander trillions in surplusses. Try managing a national economy hobbled by crushing energy prices and foreign competition. Try convincing anyone in the world that America should still be considered the preeminent model of a free state. It certainly isn't going to happen during the Bush era.

Which is why the NYT is right to say "it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run." Is he going to spend the next three years undoing the mistakes of his first five years? Don't count on it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bush Lie #43252

President Bush told another lie today during a meeting with the president of Panama:

>"Q Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.

1) Who exactly are these terrorists that are being brought "to justice?" What are their names? What are their crimes? Where is their jury? Hell, where is their courtroom? Sorry, Mr. Bush, holding someone in a hole down in Gitmo without charges for several years is not justice.

2) And uh, Mr. Bush, if we don't torture, how do you explain Abu Ghraib? How do you explain the CIA "gulags" in the Eastern Bloc? How do you explain your threatened veto of anti-torture legislation? Why is your Vice President so pro-torture?

Can anything this man says be taken seriously?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Torture you? That's a good...that's a good idea.

Carol Platt Liebau posts a bold defense of torture on Huff Post, prompting this comment from me:


You are assuming the same thing that the VC assumed when they tortured John McCain. You assume that torture results in actionable intelligence, when more often the opposite is true. You torture someone long enough, they'll tell you anything. They'll confess to riding broomsticks and having sex with the devil.

I paraphrase Resevoir Dogs: "I don't give a good fuck what you know, or don't know, but I'm gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It's amusing, to me, to torture a (terrorist)."

It's vengeful sadism...that's all. If a terrorist is committed enough to blow himself up for his cause, sticking punji sticks up in his rectum isn't going to make him sing.

Instead, we need to take the prudent course by banning torture outright, not the psychotic Mr. Blonde one, amusing ourselves with Muslims smeared in exrement.

How about a little fire, Scarecrow?

Taking a purely results-oriented view (setting aside for the moment any moral qualms arising from a "Christian" nation that tortures its enemies), it's clear that Dick Cheney's torture policy needs to be reversed. There aren't any numbers on the subject, but I feel comfortable saying that for every case where torture results in useful information, there are two cases where the information is essentially useless, provided only to end the torture. That's a conservative estimate, because I suspect that were the numbers actually crunched, we would be looking at a much larger ratio, maybe 5:1, but even at 2:1 we are talking about an ineffective policy.

At my (low) guess, that means that only one out of 3 interogation attempts resulted in anything useful. What would you do if your car started only one out of three tries? You'd get a new car, of course, a reliable car.

And that's exactly what the United States needs to do. Get a new policy. One that works, one that's reliable, one that doesn't subvert our moral superiority, making us look like ignorant hypocritical sadists.