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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Plame Situation

Did you know that Valerie Plame Wilson was an undercover CIA agent? If you still think there's some debate about that, don't worry. It's not your fault. You're just misinformed.

Been watching Fox News again, haven't you? What did I tell you about that, man? Oh sure, they're fair and balanced, if by "fair" you mean White Anglo-Saxon Protestant and if by "balanced" you mean balancing the truth with outright lies.

Here's an example, stolen from Think Progress:
Washington Post editorial: “The trial has provided…no evidence that she was, in fact, covert.” [Washingotn Post, 3/7/07]

Mort Kondracke: “I frankly don’t think since Valerie Plame was not a covert officer that there was a crime here.” [Fox, 3/9/07]

Sean Hannity: “She did not meet the criteria, in any way, shape, matter or form as a covert agent.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Robert Novak: “No evidence that she was a covert agent was ever presented to the jury.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Brit Hume: “Whether the woman was covert, Valerie Plame was covert within the meaning of the law, remains at this point, still unclear. Unlikely she was.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Victoria Toensing: “Plame was not covert. She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak’s column.” [Washington Post, 2/18/07]
There's the partisan hackocracy take on it. Mort Kondracke, Sean Hannity, Robert Novak, and Brit Hume all say she wasn't covert.

(Novak and the Washington Post share the distinction of being technically correct, but incredibly wrong -- Yes, it's true, the Libby trial didn't provide any evidence that Plame was covert, but then again, jurors were instructed to ignore Plame's status as irrelevant and so whether she was covert or not wasn't even discussed. The trial didn't provide any evidence that Jimi Hendrix is dead either...is that still an open question too? Probably not, but in the Libby trial it's just as relevant.)

Now where is Kondracke, Hannity, Novak and Hume getting their information? Who the fuck knows? You want my opinion? I think it's a mix of wishful thinking and self-deception. Novak, who has proven himself to be little more than a puppet (You want me to help you expose a CIA agent? Okay!), probably wants to reassure himself that he did nothing wrong. As for the others? Man, I don't know.

By denying that Plame was covert, they don't have to embrace the nasty idea that the politically motivated exposure of undercover intelligence agents is good and right. They can defend it as a valid response to critics. "See? She wasn't covert, so we're not giving away any secrets here."

There is one slight problem with that concept. The CIA considered Plame to be covert and they tooks steps to make sure her status was classified. Now whether you think that her CIA job shouldn't have been considered covert, or that the details about her desk job at Langley should have never been classified, doesn't really matter. I don't think the Star Wars prequels should have been made, but that decision was up to George Lucas. The decision on Plame was made by the CIA and no amount of parsing by the Bush apologists in the media can change that.

So you'll have to forgive me if I ignore the amateur analysis from the Kondrackes and Hannitys and stick with the professionals.

I also happen to agree with Plame's testimony from yesterday when she said:
"They all knew that I worked with the CIA," Plame said. "They might not have known what my status was but that alone - the fact that I worked for the CIA - should have put up a red flag."
Indeed! One must think twice about exposing a CIA employee as part of a political maneuver, and one would hope the idea would lose some appeal the second time around.

But then again, look at the jokers we're talking about. To these guys, second thoughts are something other people have.

Remember, when you work for George Bush or Dick Cheney, the ends justify the means.

On KSM

I got a call from Uncle Jim telling me I needed to put something up on the blog about KSM, aka Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. I think he secretly wants me to support the dude, seeing as I'm a liberal Bush-hater and we liberal Bush-haters want to elect Osama Bin Laden to the head of the UN and rename our country the United States of Islamerica.

Well, if you were to believe the goons on talk radio, that is...

As for KSM, Michael Hirsh's take from Newsweek probably most closely resembles my own. The relevant parts:
Let’s get one thing straight: despite his touching claim that he doesn’t like to kill “kids,” KSM is a very bad man. Most people frankly wouldn’t have much of a problem if he were waterboarded or beaten to an inch of his life in a dark room somewhere—which is almost certainly what happened to him in one of the CIA’s secret prisons.

But the fact that four years to the month after he was captured—near Islamabad in March 2003—KSM is just beginning the process of being deemed an “enemy combatant” at the “Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing” at Guantanamo Bay shows that something is indeed very wrong.
Of course, there are those who probably don't see anything wrong with that. "He's a terrorist," they say, "let him rot in hell."

And while I agree with that sentiment, I don't want to make KSM the exception to the rule of law.

John Sifton of Human Rights Watch sums it up pretty well with this statement:
“This really is an example of how the war paradigm for counterterrorism—that it is only armed conflict—has backfired. Now we have a man comparing himself to George Washington. It might have been more appropriate to just call him a criminal and indict him in federal court, to say, ‘You’re no warrior, you’re no George Washington. You, sir, are a criminal'.”
But we can't call terrorists criminals in Bush world. No, sir. Then we'd have to "serve them with papers." Actually in the real world, where criminals are apprehended and tried, not just "served papers," we'd have to acutally build a case against them, hopefully one that stands up to a reasonable doubt, while observing defendant rights and all that other legal junk called "quaint" by the Bush Administration. Who has time to do that? Better to just legitimize them in the eyes of our enemies as anti-imperialist heroes.

Hirsh's conclusion I whole-heartedly agree with:
The next American president will be well advised to replace the “war on terror” with the kind of coordinated effort that the fight always should have entailed. In other words, the hunt for the culprits of 9/11 was never simply a war or a criminal manhunt. It was always both, a hybrid covert-war-and-criminal roundup—one in which clear legal rules should have been set to brand terrorists like KSM as outlaws in the international system. The Geneva Conventions should have been applied; suspects should have had lawyers; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment should have been expressly prohibited. Only if the next president sets the rules more clearly and does a better job of discriminating who the enemy is can we have any hope of winning.
Here's hoping we get the president we need next time around.

On a semi-related note, I wonder....how many supporters of the Bush torture policy have seen the movie In the Name of the Father?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Barack Obama, a Good Fella, One of Us.

I love this picture of Barack Obama. It reminds me of that scene from Goodfellas where Tommy is talking about his mother's painting. "And this guy is saying, 'What do you want from me?'" That could be the caption for this pic. "What do you want from me?" The best part, I think, is the stoge dangling out of his mouth. Deniro sums it up: "Looks like somebody we know."


And this picture is great, too, for the symbolic interpretations. You have Obama, if only for a moment, literally looking down his nose at Hillary Clinton, who is in the foreground, but is a bit fuzzy and out of focus. It reminds me of another scene in Goodfellas, when Deniro's Jimmy the Gent asks Henry if he thinks Maury tells his wife everything.

An Oldie but a Goodie


Stolen from some joke site cuz I can't tell a joke:

The young Indian boy had spent most of his life in a quandry... He felt different yet... couldn't figure why... he was just so depressed. He went to the Chief for answers... He asked the chief how his brother Red Deer Running had gotten his name...

The chief answered in his typically poetic way..."When Red Deer Running was born, at the moment of his birth, the first thing his mother saw was a beautiful deer running off into the forest... and so Running Deer was named. It is the custom of our tribe to name the offspring according to the spirits in nature visiting upon the birth."

Then, the boy said to the Chief... And how did my sister "Thundering Bird" get her name? The chief described again, how at the moment of her birth Thundering Bird's mother had heard a roar of thunder and looking up, saw a bird flying in the sky...

The boy asked again, how his cousin "White Crouching Bear" had been given such a name... And the chief, looking down once more at the boy, explaining the traditions of their tribe.... White Bear's mother had seen a rare white bear crouched over a stream at the moment her baby's birth. Then he asked the boy...

"Why do you ask, Two Dogs Fucking?"

The Fall of Bob Dole

You know, if Bob Dole hadn't fallen off that campaign stage, maybe he would have won that election. Unfortunately, now when I think of Bob Dole, all I can think of that fall, the look on his face, the image of the puny old man struggling to get up with his gimpy arm. Saying this will only give me an express ticket to hell, but I still think it's damn funny.

Tire Tiers

This is what I did yesterday.I need some more rocks and some more dirt, but I'm fairly pleased with the result. Yes, the colors are weird. I, um, didn't really put too much thought into the color scheme, and it shows. All silver would have been cool, or maybe just brown to give it that earthy feel.

This bed is reserved strictly for flowers, annuals in the tires themselves, and perennials in the surrounding bed. The tires have been layered with a couple inches of compost at the bottom for healthy roots, then filled in with rough top soil in the side walls of the tires and finally topped off with a premium potting mix I've been concocting the last couple years. The good thing about tires is that they allow for both water retention and good drainage, allowing for more vigorous healthy growth.

With the construction of my tire tiers, the Ghetto Garden is nearly complete. I must still mix my remaining compost in the other vegetable beds and build a fence to seal the area off from canine interference, but I don't have anything else to build, or anywhere else to build it.

Here's a rough sketch of what I've got so far.
It's not to scale of course, and I'm a terrible artist, but it gives you an idea of the lay out. To give you some idea of size, the big vegetable bed is 10X8' and the smaller ones are all 8X4'. All told, including the areas designated for flowers, I think I have over 200 square feet of growing space.

Yeah, that's right. I wanna be a farmer.

In Bad Faith

I haven't really been following the US Attorney purge scandal all that closely. Of all the Bush scandals, this is probably the most uninteresting one. It seems obvious to me that the attorneys were shitcanned for political reasons, an idea that gets more weight when the defense is "US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president," the implication being that if the president wants to fire them for political reasons, he can.

Whether the firings were good or bad, I can't say. Whether they were handled properly or not, I don't know. But I do know this little episode is shining further light into how the Bush administration operates, and it's not good.

Take this excerpt from this Wash Post story:
In testimony on Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department had no intention of avoiding Senate input on the hiring of U.S. attorneys.

Just a month earlier, D. Kyle Sampson, who was then Gonzales's chief of staff, laid out a plan to do just that. In an e-mail, he detailed a strategy for evading Arkansas Democrats in installing Tim Griffin, a former GOP operative and protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

"We should gum this to death," Sampson wrote to a White House aide on Dec. 19. "[A]sk the senators to give Tim a chance . . . then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in 'good faith,' of course."
So let me get this straight. You were planning on making a "good faith" effort to stall until you run out the clock? What part of "good faith" is that again?

What is the difference between "good faith" and "bad faith" anyway? After seven years of the Bush administration, do we as a society even know anymore?

In other news, the Post's Charles Krauthammer remains part of the 30% of this country that doesn't have Bush Derangement Syndrome. Experts think it's due to the hermetical right-wing bubble he's sealed himself into.

Speaking of, Bush's poll numbers remind me of that old saying, "Twenty percent of everyone is against something." I know that's not statistically true, but it does seem to be an all too common tendency.

Four out of five dentists recommend Crest, but there's still that one fucker that likes Aquafresh.

I doubt the president finds those numbers reassuring, if he cares at all.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The United States of Dubai

Halliburton to the US government: No, no no, you don't understand. You pay us.

So Halliburton is moving their CEO to the new corporate HQ in Dubai. Hey, I don't mind. Go for it, dude. I hear it's real nice there. They're an international banking hub. They have a very business-friendly tax code. They don't care if you're a terrorist or a child molester.

So if Halliburton wants to move to Dubai to be closer to the oil and reduce their tax liability, I say go for it. Have fun. Good luck.

But you're not getting any more government contracts. Neither is KBR, or any of your other subsidiaries.

(Halliburton to the US government: No, no no, you don't understand. You pay us.)

Don't worry, the government of the United Arab Emirates will probably need your services, and I'm sure there are many other governments in the Middle East you could do business in. And hey, we're not saying you can't do business in the US, either.

You're just not going to do our government's job anymore. We'll feed our own troops, or get an American contractor to do it for us. It's nothing personal. We're not being xenophobic here either.

It's just that we're talking about the American government here, and I don't think any of it should be run out of Dubai. Sorry.

Who's Got the Herb?

My weekend starts in about three hours. Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it was a short week for me. Daywalkers lost an hour of sleep. I lost an hour of my shift.

I've got a list of things to do this weekend, which include closing on my loan, watching 300 (thanks to my free movie card), and doing laundry. I've got so much laundry to do, I can't even see the rug in my bedroom. If you were to walk in there now, you'd think it was carpeted with dirty clothes.

In my daily reading, I came across a few things I'd like to discuss.

First, Cenk Uygar's hilarious take-down of Foxnews. The overall point:
Fox has jumped the shark. Fox News needs to come out, as professional wrestling did, and finally admit they are fake. It's just entertainment, not the real thing. The World Wrestling Federation eventually changed their name to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Fox has it even easier. The name will almost be the same as before. Fake News Channel.
Ha!! To me, years of Fox News claiming they are "Fair and Balanced" has just proven that they don't know the definitions of the words "fair" or "balanced."

I mean, if you don't eat meat and aren't particularly bright, then you're not really lying when you say you're a "veterinarian," right?

True Story: Our state government has elevated John Denver's song "Rocky Mountain High" to official status. I would have much preferred Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints" or 311's "Who's Got the Herb?"

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Uwe Boll, Film Genius

Dear Uwe Boll,

Last night I watched your film House of the Dead (2003) and I have to say, it was one of the best films I have ever seen. I had low expectations, as I had seen your other film Blood Rayne (2005) and thought the casting of Matthew Davis as your hero was a bit suspect and that Kristanna Loken could have been a little more, well, nude.

I am glad to report, however, that viewing House of the Dead has allayed those fears. When your biggest stars are Jurgen Prochnow and Clint Howard, you really can't go wrong. I mean, their acting ability is beyond doubt, but thanks to your competent direction and clever costume design, they hardly even have to act. When you see Prochnow in his white skipper hat, you know he's a wizened man of the sea. And Clint Howard, with his yellow raincoat and curiously long arm that ends in a hook, has that gleam in the eye that says, When MTV gave me a lifetime achievement award, I thought they were serious.

Of course, Uwe, little did you know that you would capture your own star-making performance with the casting of Erica Durance as Zombie Victim #1. Erica has gone on to star as Lois Lane - yes, Lois - on Smallville. I don't know if you've been keeping up on the show, but the plot lines I've seen lately have featured Lois pretty heavily. First she hooked up with Aquaman and then she hooked up with the Green Arrow, and of course, we all know she'll eventually hook up with Clark so they can have their asthmatic super-progeny.

Erica Durance, of course, makes the perfect Lois. With her sculpted face (maybe it's her genes; maybe it's Dr. Gene), her sculpted body (definitely from daily two-hour workouts and lots of protein shakes), her saline enchancements (definitely Dr. Gene), and yummy kittenish grin, I can't imagine anyone else playing Lois Lane. Not Margot Kidder, not Kate Bosworth, not even Teri Hatcher. I've become quite a fan of Erica Durance.

I knew I was in for a treat when in your film Erica says "Come on, let's go swimming." Oooooh yeah. Bump-bump. Chick...chicka-chick ahhhh.

And being a horror film, I knew she was going to die. And die she does, which is quite unfortunate because your whole film could have been Erica walking around topless on the beach. I wouldn't mind.

I must admit, Uwe, that once Erica was dead, my interest in the film declined. Not even the gratuitous clips of video game graphics could keep me interested. Yes, I thought the girls were hot, but where did you get the zombies? They look like rejects from a college Thriller party?

Later, though, my interest was peaked again when the brunette (what's her name again?) lost her jacket and started running around in that low cut strappy number. What you lack in zombies, you make up for in breasts. Although, if I can offer my professional opinion, you should have made the actress wear a sports bra during the slow motion explosion sequence. You wanted us to concentrate on the pyrotechnics, but all I saw was the jiggle.

Basically what I'm trying to say, Uwe, is that you need to keep making movies. But don't try to be Michael Bay. Be true to yourself. Be Uwe.

Your biggest fan,

J