Thursday, March 31, 2005

Darwin Award, Politics Division

State Rep. Charged in Anthrax Hoax

Well-summarized by Josh Marshall:

George Radich is a constituent of Allegheny County State Rep. Jeffrey E. Habay.

Radich and four other constituents petitioned a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to audit the records of Habay's political action Committee, the Friends of Jeff Habay.

So, according to charges filed today, the next time he received a letter from Radich, Habay sprinkled some white powder on to the envelope and then called the cops, claiming that Radich had tried to take him out with an Anthrax mailing.

Unfortunately for his sake, Habay is apparently a fool since Radich had, uncharacteristically for a Anthrax mailer, included a return address. And things went even worse for him when it turned out that he had paid for the postage with a credit card.


Self-destructing politicians seem to suddenly be as plentiful as pollen this spring. Tom DeLay would seem a shoe-in for the award, but the level of unprovoked stupidity on display here might elevate Habay form dark horse to legitimate contender.

Dr. Frist gets some Continuing Ed credits

There's always something happening down on Sesame Street:



(Sesame Workshop)

Rosita and Elmo explain to Dr. Bill that today's letters, P, V and S, cannot be properly identified just by looking at a videotape.

Tune in tomorrow, when Bert and Ernie break it to Senator Santorum that they've been together longer than any of the heterosexual couples he knows.

Midnight Wounded Supply

Steeling against rain and cold night air, clutching candles and placards, a group of activists are standing nightly vigils at the entrance to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, protesting what they believe is the Pentagon’s attempt to hide the human toll of the war in Iraq.

With wounded troops arriving from Germany, where most receive treatment after being stabilized in the field, flights to the United States are arranged so that soldiers are admitted into Walter Reed for follow on care at night.

“When we first heard about this, we were appalled,” said vigil organizer Gael Murphy, part of nationwide grass roots women’s group dubbed Code Pink. “Why are they bringing them in only at night? Is it because they don’t want the media to cover it? Is it because they don’t want Americans to see the real cost of this war?”

FBI Reportedly Studies Possible Yucca Mountain Fraud

The FBI is investigating possible document falsification by workers on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project in Nevada, a congressional staffer said Wednesday.

Chad Bungard, deputy staff director and chief counsel for a House Government Reform subcommittee, said he learned of the probe from the inspector general's office at the Department of Interior, which also was investigating.
...
Bungard's panel is holding a hearing on the possible document falsification next week, and staffers are preparing to release e-mails from a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist that suggest the falsification occurred.

The e-mails were written from 1998 to 2000 and circulated among scientists studying how water moves through the planned dumpsite, a key issue in determining whether radiation could escape, and how much.

USGS scientists validated Energy Department conclusions that water seepage was relatively slow, so radiation would be less likely to escape.

The Energy and Interior departments revealed the existence of the e-mails March 16, and handed them over Tuesday to the House Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce and agency organization.

The subcommittee, led by Rep. Jon C. Porter (R-Nev.), plans to make redacted versions public on Friday.

"We don't want to compromise the criminal investigation," Bungard said, adding that the agencies were doing the redacting.

The Energy Department inspector general is also investigating the suspected document falsification, and the department is conducting a scientific review as well.

The revelation about the potentially falsified documents was the latest setback to the planned dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Yucca Mountain, approved by Congress in 2002, is planned as the nation's only underground repository for 77,000 tons of defense waste and used reactor fuel from commercial power plants. The material is supposed to be buried for at least 10,000 years.

But the project has suffered serious problems, including funding shortfalls and an appeals court decision last summer that is forcing a rewrite of radiation exposure limits for the site. The Energy Department recently abandoned a planned 2010 completion date, and department officials have not given a new date.



As it begins to dawn on the powers that be that the fossil fuel well is running dry, the energy cartel is going to start pushing nuclear energy again-- and the American public will accept anything that doesn't require conservaton or giving up 3-ton SUVs.

So continuing SNAFUs at the last best hope for a dumpsite are going to loom increasingly large, unless, of course, they can be convered up. But Nevada's (justifiable) NIMBY backlash may make that difficult.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yadda Yadda Yadda

John Danforth in today's New York Times:

"BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.
...
The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.
...
During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots."

Read the whole thing, it's worth the price of free (for now) registration at the Times website. Danforth is right, of course, and his standing as an ordained Episcopalian minister in addition to being a senator certainly gives him the moral legitimacy to make his case.

But this brings to mind the thrust of Christine Todd Whitman's book about moderates taking back the Republican party. And my question whenever I hear this argument is, when the hell is this alleged majority of reasonable Republican voters and legislators going to stop acting like unicorns and show up to overthrow the fundies?

And another thing. Whilst riffing in righteous indignation, it might have been nice for Senator Danforth to apologize for sponsoring the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Thomas--as you probably do not recall, as it got next to zero attention in the Corporate Media--opined in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow last year that there is nothing in the constitution to prevent individual states from establishing state-sponsored religions.

I'm sure the geologists were born again

Lo, there came oilmen from the West

"WHEN oilmen go prospecting they usually put their faith in geologists to help their risky ventures. John Brown prefers to trust God and the Bible to make him and the State of Israel rich.

Later this week his company, Zion Oil, will begin drilling in a patch of dusty earth of northern Israel pinpointed by ancient biblical prophecies.

For the 65-year-old Michigan businessman the moment will mark the culmination of a two-decade journey that started when the evangelical Christian first came to Israel and read passages from the Old Testament suggesting great wealth lay below the Israeli landscape.

No matter that little oil had been discovered there. Mr Brown has persuaded hundreds of other American evangelical Christians to help him to raise the £3.6 million required for 'Project Joseph'. He believes it is his life’s mission to unearth Israel’s oil wealth, secure the future of 'God’s covenanted people', and lay the ground for the Messiah’s return.

'I know in my heart that what God told me was true,' he said. 'I’ve no doubt we will find oil. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’. I believe it’s my purpose in life. We’re going to help the people of the nation of Israel."
...

Mr Brown, who made his money in the tool business, first visited Israel in 1983 as a newly 'born again' Christian, and he says that over the years he was guided to biblical passages that pointed to riches beneath the Holy Land.

Tracts from the Old Testament books of Genesis and Deuteronomy foretold wealth in the ancient lands of the tribes of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and Jacob’s son, Asher. Moses says in Deuteronomy xxxiii, 24: 'Most blessed of sons be Asher. Let him be favoured by his brothers and let him dip his foot in oil.'

When Mr Brown superimposed a map of the 12 tribes of Israel on the modern-day Holy Land, he decided that the most likely spot was the site near Maanit kibbutz, near Nazareth.

In what Mr Brown describes as another 'miracle', the oil exploration licence for the area became available in 1999 when an Israeli company ran out of cash after drilling down 2,300 metres and finding nothing.

Mr Brown formed Zion Oil and Gas, based in the Texas oil hub of Dallas, in 2000 to explore the Maanit site. He found old geological surveys that showed any oil could be much deeper, at 4,500 metres."

Well, OK. I'm just wondering if he and his backers would be drilling without the "old geological surveys" and more recent scientific studies suggesting there might be something down there.

And by the way, Mr. Brown, we really do believe you when you say all those evangelical Christians out there really do love their Jewish bretheren, yes indeedy. This being the case, you might want to refrain from referring to an Israeli bankruptcy as a "miracle" in future interviews.

John Bolton's Iran-Contra past

from David Corn:

Beyond his UN-bashing, Bolton has not just been extreme in his foreign policy views, he has been wrong and reckless: accusing Cuba of developing biological weapons and Syria of posing a serious WMD threat without proof. (The CIA felt obliged to block him from testifying before Congress on Syria and WMDs.) He also has had his brushes with scandal, receiving money from a political slush fund in Taiwan and advocating for Taiwan in congressional testimony (when he was not in government) without revealing he was paid by a Taiwanese entity to write policy papers for it. (He might have even broken the law by failing to register as a foreign agent.)
...
Bolton's record as Assistant AG for the Office of Legislative Affairs in 1986 and 1987 merits special scrutiny. He "tried to torpedo" Sen. John Kerry's inquiry into allegations of contra drug smuggling and gunrunning, a committee aide says. When Kerry requested information from the Justice Department, Bolton's office gave it the long stall, a Kerry aide notes. In fact, says another Congressional aide, Bolton's staff worked actively with the Republican senators who opposed Kerry's efforts.

In 1986 this chum of Meese also refused to give Peter Rodino, then chair of he House Judiciary Committee, documents concerning the Iran/contra scandal and Meese's involvement in it, Later, when Congressional investigators were probing charges that the Justice Department had delayed an inquiry into gunrunning to the contras, Bolton was again the spoiler.


The reason Bolton is getting the position is evident: he has been a made man for at least 20 years.

Yahoo! News - C-Murder Loses Murder Conviction Appeal

C-Murder, who lost in his latest bid to get his second-degree murder conviction thrown out, is hopeful Louisiana's Supreme Court will be more favorable to his appeal than the lower courts have been.

"I'm just trying to bring darkness to light the best way I know how," the rapper said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "I'm hoping everything turns out all right."

The rapper, whose real name is Corey Miller, was convicted Sept. 30, 2003, in the death of Steve Thomas, 16, at a nightclub in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey. He faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.


Dear C-Murder:

OK, I know this outs me as both old and white, but if I wanted to beat a murder rap, I don't think I would rap under the name "Murder."

Sincerely,

Artist formerly known as C-I Didn't Do It

US admits killing Arab journalists in Iraq

The US military has acknowledged it was responsible for killing two journalists working for Dubai-based satellite channel al-Arabiya who were shot close to a checkpoint in the Iraqi capital earlier this month.

Al-Arabiya cameraman Ali Abd al-Aziz died on 18 March from a gunshot wound to the head. Correspondent Ali al-Khatib died from his wounds in hospital the next day. Both were Iraqis.

Colleagues said US troops fired on their car near a checkpoint in central Baghdad. The US military initially said it was unlikely its bullets had killed them.

On Monday, a US military official said an investigation into the deaths showed troops were responsible, but had acted "within the rules of engagement".

US soldiers were aiming at a different car, a white Volvo that had driven through the checkpoint at high speed, the investigation said. Al-Arabiya's grey Kia car was 50m to 150m down the road, trying to turn when it was accidentally hit, the military said.


OK, got that? Our boys were aiming at car A, and two people in car B, roughly a football field away, but who just happened to be Arab journalists, got hit. In the head.

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.

Gannon @ the National Press Club

The blogosphere is agog at the decision of the National Press Club to invite JimmyJeff to speak on a panel about blogging. (I tried posting on it, but Blogger ate my homework.)

Paul Lukasiak, who did some truly heroic digging into Shrub's military records before CBS screwed the pooch (still available here), found a bit of humor in it all:

The room at the National Press Club where the Gannon/Guckert Blogger/Journalist panel discussion will be held is.... (wait for it)

Holeman Lounge.


I love this game.

Pigs @ the Trough: the series

From the UK-based Independent, natch:

Halliburton, the world's largest military private contractor, has made at least $8bn (£4.3bn) in war-torn Iraq - doing everything from washing American troops' laundry to setting up vital oil supplies. Now, a critically well-placed army employee says contracts were unfairly awarded to Halliburton, whose chief executive used to be US Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, the highest-ranking civilian in the US Army Corps of Engineers, saw the contracts handed to Halliburton pass over her desk. She objected to all of them on the grounds that the government was being too generous to the Texas-based company. Now she might lose her job.

The army tried to demote her last autumn after her performance ratings swung from excellent to sub-standard. An alternative offered to the 60-year-old, who followed her husband into the army, is a swift retirement.

According to Ms Greenhouse, who is hanging on to her job under American laws that protect whistleblowers, her superiors want her out because she is "a stickler for the rules". She hopes to stay on at the corps until she is ready to retire, even though many of her colleagues "treat me like I have the plague".

Having worked in government and army procurement for 23 years, she says her duty has been clear as the principal assistant responsible for contracting, known as the Parc. "In a time of war on terrorism, we as a government have to make sure there is a fairness, there is an integrity, and that there is an arm's length approach in the business of contracting," she said.

But when it came to Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, whose services range from oil and gas to meeting all of soldiers' living needs, Ms Greenhouse found her commanders did not share her vision.

Time and again, there was little or no competition for the huge contracts the US administration awarded, and repeatedly, it seemed that senior army people were stepping in to overrule her attempts to make KBR accountable.

On top of that, there was a "revolving door", with senior army employees joining Halliburton. These included Tom Quigley, who had previously done Ms Greenhouse's job, and Chuck Dominy, a three-star general who is now Halliburton's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.


I know, I know. Steering bazillions of dollars in business to a company to which a sitting Vice President retains close financial ties is, well, the real American way. I should take my medication and get on with my daily does of Certainly Not News. But this orgy of baksheesh has somehow included me out, and I reserve the right to my sputtering outrage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Missing WMD Report

Remember the pre-election Senate Intelligence Committee's WMD whitewash? The one that blamed it all on bad intelligence?

Jay Rockefeller, the committee's senior Democrat, noted that the report outlined "one of the most devastating...intelligence failures in the history of the nation."

But the committee's report did not cover a crucial area: how the Bush Administration used -- or abused -- the prewar intelligence to build support for the Iraq invasion. Roberts claimed his committee was hot on that trail: "It is one of my top priorities," he said. The problem, he explained, was that there was not enough time before the November election to complete the assignment. Rockefeller took issue with that and complained that the "central issue of how intelligence was...exaggerated by Bush Administration officials" was being relegated into a "Phase II" investigation that would not begin until after the election. A Democratic committee staffer said that such an inquiry could easily be completed within months.

Still, Roberts succeeded in his transparent effort to kick that inconvenient can down the road. (Imagine the headache for the Bush campaign if news stories appeared before the election reporting that the committee had found Bush had stretched an already stretched truth.) Now -- with Bush re-elected -- Roberts no longer considers Phase II a priority. In mid-March, Roberts declared further investigation pointless.


You would think that after pointing out for the hundredth time that irony is deader than than doornail, I would stop being surprised at the the things Republicans say without cracking a smile. Yet I am gobsmacked again.

Well sure it is pointless, Mr. Roberts. I'm sure members of the Politburo thought exactly the same thing when they looked at Stalin's excesses. It is pointless because swells like yourself have decided that the rule of law is one of those ancient aires and dances Alberto Gonzales dismissed as "quaint." It is pointless because there is no line the boy king can cross that will shake you from your slumber. It is pointless because no failure of logic or demonstration of monstrous illegality will deflect your headlong lunge toward collective oblivion.

Wanker.

Monday, March 28, 2005

...but he's still fat

Yahoo! News - Documents show FBI helped Saudis depart after 9/11 attacks: New York Times

The FBI played an active role in arranging chartered flights for dozens of well-connected Saudi nationals -- including relatives of Osama bin Laden -- after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York Times reported that the documents show Federal Bureau of Investigation agents gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, while several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, citing newly-released US government records.
...
FBI officials contacted by the daily reacted angrily to the allegation of preferential treatment for the Saudis.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, when queried by the Times about the airport escorts said "we'd do that for anybody if they felt they were threatened -- we wouldn't characterize that as special treatment."

The Saudis' chartered flights -- arranged in the days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks when most aircraft were still grounded -- long have been a topic of allegations related to close family ties and associates of US President George W. Bush and the Saudi royal family.


Score one more for Michael Moore, who made this argument to a veritable shitstorm of a response.

And the anonymous FBI source is right -- we give "personal airport escorts" to a large number of middle eastern types on a regular basis. Only the generally accepted term for those flights is "extraordinary rendition."

Queer Eye for the Republican Guy

Another bloviation up @ Raw Story.

Daily Kos :: J.D. Guckert/Jeff Gannon: These Are Your Lives!

A whole bunch o' investigative reporting (you remember investigative reporting, don't you?) at dKos on the life and times of JimmyJeff. As with most such endeavors, it raises more questions than it answers.

When I look at the timeline they constructed, one thing that jumped out immediately is that nowhere in his reverse-engineered CV is there a place to insert his claimed stint in the Marines.

Oh, well... pretending you served in the military doesn't seem to disqualify one from becoming President, so why should it trouble a mere "reporter."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Less life of culture in our culture of life

Michigan To Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Gays

(Lansing, Michigan) Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.
The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.


But what if the stars of "Queer Eye" or "Will & Grace" get sick?

Easter Sunday Sermon

Discrimination Against Christians? Oh, Please ...

In honor of the day, and our secular humanist sensibilities, a sermon from www.secularhumanism.com.

As individuals, majority Christians can’t be blamed for feeling like victims, or even for whining about it. But other Americans – including moderates and liberals within the Christian majority – should be encouraged to reject these claims of victimhood, just as most Americans rejected the victimhood claims of white segregationists in the South.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Naomi Klein Reveals New Details About Sgrena Shooting

Naomi Klein talked with Giulana Sgrena, and reveals some very suspicious goings on. Read the whole interview, but the money quote is this:

The other thing she told me that was surprising to me was that they were fired on from behind. Because I think part of what we're hearing is that the U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car, because they didn't know who they were, and they were afraid. It was self-defense, they were afraid. The fear, of course, is that their car might blow up or that they might come under attack themselves. And what Giuliana Sgrena really stressed with me was that she -- the bullet that injured her so badly and that killed Calipari, came from behind, entered the back seat of the car. And the only person who was not severely injured in the car was the driver, and she said that this is because the shots weren't coming from the front or even from the side. They were coming from behind, i.e. they were driving away. So, the idea that this was an act of self-defense, I think becomes much more questionable. And that detail may explain why there's some reticence to give up the vehicle for inspection. Because if indeed the majority of the gunfire is coming from behind, then clearly, they were firing from -- they were firing at a car that was driving away from them.

Media wanker of the day (so far)

Fla. Judge Nixes Schiavo Parents' Request

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer

"CLEARWATER, Fla. - A state judge on Saturday rejected another attempt by Terri Schiavo's parents to have her feeding tube reconnected, rejecting what the couple's lawyer described as their last chance to keep their severely brain-damaged daughter alive.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer denied a motion filed Friday in which Bob and Mary Schindler claimed their daughter tried to say 'I want to live' just before her feeding tube was removed, saying 'AHHHHH' and 'WAAAAAAA' when asked to repeat the phrase.


Doctors have said Schiavo's past utterances were involuntary moans consistent with someone in a vegetative state.

David Gibbs III, the Schindlers' lead attorney, described the motion before Greer the couple's last legal option, saying the couple had ended their federal appeals less than a week after Congress passed an extraordinary law to let them take the case to federal court.

'There is nothing that can be brought back to the court federally that will in any way help Terri,' Gibbs said.

The Schindlers are still holding out hope for an unlikely intervention by Gov. Jeb Bush, who has said he has done everything in his power to take custody of Schiavo.

As of Saturday afternoon, Schiavo had been without food or water for eight full days, and doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of her feeding tube being pulled.

Her lawyers, however, have said Schiavo — whose dehydrated body has begun to shut down — may not survive the weekend."

Um, Mr. Schneider? Gibbs, et al, are her parents' lawyers, not Ms. Schiavo's. Sort of an important distinction in this particular case, no?

Waiting for the Sky Taxi

Good piece on Rapture monkeys on DU.

Heh

Libertyordeath, a diarist over at Kos, has a good post on The Scientific American's decision to come out swinging in an editorial in their April edition. Excerpts include the following:

"Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence."

and

"Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong."

Good stuff; no one can snark like pissed off scientists. Sadly, the editorial is unlikely to open many eyes. Corporate media has made the decision to present entertainment rather than information, since it's far more profitable. The politicians....well, you know. And as for the true believers? This is like explaining the principles of buoyancy to witch-dunkers; the best you can hope for are blank stares.

Schiavo and the American Taliban

AP reports:

A North Carolina man was charged by the FBI on Friday with offering a $250,000 bounty for the murder of Michael Schiavo, the husband of a brain-damaged Florida woman dying in a hospice after years of legal wrangling with her parents.

Richard Alan Meywes was arrested without incident at his home in Fairview, the FBI said. Tim Stutheit, an FBI spokesman in Charlotte, declined to give Meywes' age.

Meywes was charged in Tampa, Fla., with murder for hire and with the transmission of interstate threatening communications.
...
Meywes is accused of sending an e-mail putting a $250,000 bounty "on the head of Michael Schiavo" and another $50,000 to eliminate a judge who denied a request to intervene in the Schiavo case, the FBI said in a prepared statement. The FBI did not identify the judge.

"It is my understanding that whoever eliminates Michael Schiavo from the plant while inflicting as much pain and suffering that he can bear stands to be paid this reward in cash," the e-mail said, according to a text of the message contained in an affidavit prepared by Tampa FBI agent A.J. Gilman.


Here, in all its glory on this Easter weekend, is the Culture of Life, Fatwa Division.

For the benefit of any wingnuts who might wander here by mistake, a few relevant selections from the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
...
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a
tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever
shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other
also.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy
coat, let him have thy cloak also.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him
twain.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of
thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy
neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you.


That Jesus fella had some good ideas; it might be interesting to see what would happen if someone organized a religion around this stuff.

Just a thought.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ralphie Boy seals his legacy

For the two or three of you out there who weren't quite convinced that Ralph Nader has jumped the shark, we offer you this tidbit via Raw Story:

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader, Author Wesley Smith call Upon Florida Courts, Gov. Bush and Concerned Citizens to Take any Legal Action Available to let Schiavo Live

"Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, author of the award winning book 'Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America' call upon the Florida Courts, Governor Jeb Bush and concerned citizens to take any legal action available to let Terri Schiavo live.

'A profound injustice is being inflicted on Terri Schiavo,' Nader and Smith asserted today.
...
The medical and rehabilitation experts are split on whether Terri is in a persistent vegetative state or whether Terri can be improved with therapy. There is only one way to know for sure- permit the therapy. That is the only way to resolve all doubts."

Ralph, the only disagreement is coming from a fundamentalist quack on Jeb Bush's payroll in Florida, Bill Frist and Tom Coburn. She's already had extensive therapy, to which she did not respond because she cannot respond.

What a fucktard.

Strategic partners

Just after last November's election, David C. Mumford, the U.S. Ambassador to India, said that George W. Bush regarded India as being one of the U.S.'s key strategic partners, and promised that Indo-US relations would continue to improve--"the best is yet to come" is how he put it.

Today, Georgie started delivering on his promise:

U.S. Near Sale of F-16's to Pakistan Over Indian Objections

"The United States was reported today to have agreed to sell Pakistan F-16 fighter planes in a major policy shift that was meant to reward Pakistan for its help in combating terrorism but was also certain to deeply antagonize Pakistan's longtime adversary India.

The State Department is expected to announce the decision in news conference today. But well in advance of the session, several news organizations were reporting that President Bush had personally telephoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his ranch in Crawford, Tex., and that Mr. Singh had voiced 'great disappointment,' according to a spokesman.
...
People opposed to the idea have said that Pakistan gets enough military aid from the United States as it is. And India has lobbied against Pakistan's acquisition of the planes because it fears Pakistan would use them if war between India and Pakistan broke out again, as it has several times in the past half-century."

Given that India is a growing nuclear and economic power, and was just one of two nations on the planet in which the citizens supported Bush's re-election last fall, you'd think that he'd try not to piss on their shoes. But then, getting your shoes showered on pretty much defines what it means to be one of our "strategic partners" these days. Just ask Tony Blair.

Terry Schiavo, the Easter Martyr

We have a winner!

Yesterday I challenger our extensive readers base to find a wingut casting Terry Schiavo as Christ. Reader Allison came through. Thanks, and a tip o' the hat - you are the Memian of the Week..

Lots of wingnuttery on display at the main site, like this headline: "Scientists to make 'Stuart Little' mouse with the brain of a human." Need I lay out the punch line about what a perfect bookend that mouse will be?

Iran has underground uranium enrichment facility, exile asserts

From Knight-Ridder:

Iran has built a secret underground facility inside a tightly guarded military complex to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, an Iranian exile charged on Thursday.
The allegation, which couldn't immediately be confirmed, was leveled by Alireza Jafarzadeh, an exile whose previous claims helped reveal that Iran had been conducting clandestine nuclear activities for some 20 years.
Iran doesn't have diplomatic relations with the United States, and the Iranian mission to the United Nations didn't immediately return two telephone calls seeking a response to Jafarzadeh's latest allegation. Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for electricity production and denied Bush administration allegations that it's secretly developing nuclear weapons.


A U.S. official, who insisted on anonymity because the matter involved intelligence methods, said the claim could not be substantiated "at this point."


Puh-leeze.

This exile doesn't happen to go by the name of Chalabi, does he? How many times is the press going to sit on the same damned whoopee cushion?

Cheney 2008?

via the LA Times via The Smirking Chimp:

In the summer of 2000, Dick Cheney was appointed to find a vice presidential candidate for George W. Bush, and, as we now know, the winner of the search turned out to be Dick Cheney.

Today, Republicans are casting about for a successor to Bush. And the winner of that search just may turn out to be … Dick Cheney again.

The Draft Cheney movement is burbling just below the surface. Fred Barnes suggested it earlier this month in the Weekly Standard. Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times and Lawrence Kudlow of National Review Online echoed Barnes in columns this week.

Cheneymania has reached critical mass.


I was absolutely certain that Cheney would have a convenient infarct about now to open the inside track for Jeb or some other worthy winger for 2008. I just can't imagine Cheney carrying a general election. But the "keep the dream alive" meme will certainly appeal to the red meat Republicans.

For now, this is too strange to fully process.

Wolfowitz, Lothario

From the Mail online: Will a British divorcee cost 'Wolfie' his job?

The British press is perhaps even more obsessed with bedroom scandal than our own. Today they have an interesting American in the crosshairs: that handsome comb-licker, Paul Wolfowitz.

Downing Street 'furious' at nomination

Wolfowitz became known around the world as one of the fiercest proponents of invasion of Iraq. The Mail on Sunday has learned that Downing Street is "furious" about his nomination, fearing his hardline attitude could alienate large sections of the international community.

But it is his tangled private life that could stop him taking up the World Bank post.

Critics say it would be impossible for Wolfie - as he is nicknamed by Bush - to make independent decisions when his lover, who works on Middle Eastern and North African issues, is so committed to overthrowing Middle Eastern regimes.

"His womanising has come home to roost," a Washington insider said. "Paul was a foreign policy hawk long before he met Shaha but it doesn't look good to be accused of being under the thumb of your mistress."

One of his opponents at the bank said: "Unless Riza gives up her job, this will be an impossible conflict of interest."

National security risk

Wolfowitz married Clare Selgin in 1968. But they have lived separately since 2001, after allegations of an affair with an employee at the School of Advanced International Studies where he was dean for seven years.

According to one Republican Administration insider, Clare was so upset by rumours about the affair that she wrote to then President Elect Bush, saying if the story were true it could pose a national security risk.
...
The bank's staff association has told executives it has been swamped with complaints from employees about Wolfowitz.

However, Wolfowitz's only comment on the complaints has been a terse statement issued through a Pentagon spokesman. He said: "If a personal relationship presents a potential conflict of interest, I will comply with bank policies to resolve the issue."


The Clinton administration was largely scandal-free but for Willie's willy, and it was dogged by incessant press coverage of his womanizing. It is almost certainly a vain hope, but since the only line the current junta hasn't obliterated is the marital infidelity taboo, perhaps this story can help turn the tide.

Plus, I think the American public would rather do just about anything than visualize Wolfowitz schtupping anybody.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Frank Rich follows my lead...

Last week me, regarding the Rapturized churchgoer who gunned down 5 fellow believers:

Oh, my. Homicidal wackos tied to an apocalyptic religion. Where have we heard that before?

Now if only the mainstream press would follow this one where it leads....



This week him:

Faith-based news is not far behind. Ashley Smith, the 26-year-old woman who was held hostage by Brian Nichols, the accused Atlanta courthouse killer, has been canonized by virtually every American news organization as God's messenger because she inspired Mr. Nichols to surrender by talking about her faith and reading him a chapter from Rick Warren's best seller, "The Purpose-Driven Life." But if she's speaking for God, what does that make Dennis Rader, the church council president arrested in Wichita's B.T.K. serial killer case? Was God instructing Terry Ratzmann, the devoted member of the Living Church of God who this month murdered his pastor, an elderly man, two teenagers and two others before killing himself at a weekly church service in Wisconsin? The religious elements of these stories, including the role played by the end-of-times fatalism of Mr. Ratzmann's church, are left largely unexamined by the same news outlets that serve up Ashley Smith's tale as an inspirational parable for profit.

OK, he said it better, and the NY TImes has a few more readers. But you (both of you) heard it here first.

Bullshit talks, terror walks

Government Document Confirms Bin Laden Evaded Capture

"A suspected al Qaida operative who allegedly helped Osama bin Laden evade capture in Afghanistan is being held by the US, it emerged today.

A US government document confirms for the first time that the al Qaida leader was camped out at the Tora Bora mountain hideout before managing to escape.

Both President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have repeatedly claimed that they did not know whether bin Laden was at Tora Bora when it was attacked by US forces in December 2001.

The document, obtained by the Associated Press under freedom of information legislation, says the unidentified terrorism suspect 'assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora'.
It describes the detainee as being associated with al Qaida, having bodyguards and calling for a jihad against the US.


The document was presented as evidence against the detainee at a hearing to determine whether he was being correctly held as an enemy combatant at the US naval base detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The issue was a source of contention during last year’s presidential election and both Mr Bush and Mr Cheney referred to a column written by the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, who said bin Laden 'was never within our grasp' as evidence of their claims.

General Tommy Franks wrote in the New York Times: 'We don’t know to this day whether Mr bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001.”'

If nothing else, Jebbie is doing a pretty good job of providing covering fire for his big bro by keeping the macabre Schiavo circus going as long as possible. The central message of the Social Security trustees (It's the Medicare, Stupid!) was driven below the fold, and this item was relegated to something like page B12,728 in my edition of the Boston Globe.

Not that The Artists Formerly Known As the Media would have found much in a story like this even on a day when the pickings were limited to Jacko and the American Idol scandal. Bush and his henchmen lying through their teeth hardly counts as news anymore.

NO Military Service for Gannon/Guckert?

A regular at Daily Kos has done a bit of digging and has perhaps caught JimmyJeff in yet another whopper: lying about (non-existent) military service. The story isn't fully nailed down yet, but it sure doesn't look good for our favorite gay prostitute.

Science, religion and Terri Schiavo

The medical diagonosis is as unambiguous as science can be (via
TCS: Tech Central Station):

The medical reality of Ms. Schiavo's case is this: She has been in what is medically referred to as a "permanent vegetative state" for the past 15 years, ever since her heart temporarily stopped (probably due to the severe effects of an eating disorder), depriving her brain of oxygen. Brain scans indicate that her cerebral cortex ceased functioning -- probably just after she experienced cardiac arrest in 1990. Ms. Schiavo's CAT scan shows massive shrinking of the brain, and her EEG is flat. Physicians confirm that there is no electrical activity coming from her brain. While the family video repeatedly shown on television suggests otherwise, her non-functioning cortex precludes cognition, including any ability to interact or communicate with people or show any signs of awareness. Dozens of experts over the years who have examined Ms. Schiavo agree that there is no hope of her recovering -- even though her body, face and eyes (if she is given food and hydration) might continue to move for decades to come.

The problem, for the wingnuts trying to keep her alive, though, is precisely that: science says Terry Schiavo the person disappeared long ago, but this case is merely another skirmish in their assaullt on the real enemy, which is science.

Science says the universe is billions of years old, people evolved over millions of years from monkeys, and the Bible, though perhaps useful as myth and metaphor, cannot possibly be literally correct. Science is therefore the enemy.

So when complicated machines that simple folks don't understand tell a story those simple folk don't want to hear, it is just another collision between data and belief. And when your worldview is centered in faith, belief trumps all possible data.

Next: Who will be the first wingnut to draw parallels to the Easter story?



Plame Case May End With Criminal Going Free and 'Witnesses' Jailed

via Editor & Publisher

As I have said all along, the point of the Plame leak prosecution was never punishing, or even identifying, the leaker. The point was to deliver a horse's head between the sheets of anyone else in government who might think about ratting on Maximum Leader, and any reporter who thinks about writing a story about it. And the result is another great success for dictatorship.

The bloom is definitely off this case. No longer does one hear it described as a once-in-a-generation showdown between the government and the Fourth Estate over the First Amendment. It’s not that it is being ignored by the working press; indeed, several reporters told me that, unfortunately, the Plame affair is often mentioned by would-be confidential sources when explaining their skittishness in talking about classified matters, doubly so given the obsession with secrecy of the Bush White House.

The chief of one top chain's Washington bureau speaks of leads on stories that have "fizzled." A senior investigative reporter for a prominent national newspaper made the point that there is no way to measure the insidious effect of the Fitzgerald probe, in that it has become an invisible part of the warp and woof of the relationship between a free press and a security-obsessed administration.

One of Miller's former colleagues put it this way when describing her problematic role in the Plame case: "She has made it tougher for us all" by, in his view, essentially inventing the claim that she was contemplating a story about Plame.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat, Rocky

Regular readers will recall that yesterday I lit into James Langevin, a Democratic congressman from RI and potential opponent for Linc Chafee in 06, for supporting the Republicans' efforts to shred the consti--er, to "save" Terri Schiavo's life.

Apparently, all forty-seven of you who dropped by yesterday were similarly outraged and called Langevin's office to give him a piece of your minds, because the Providence Journal reported today that Langevin will not be running for Chafee's seat. Patrick Kennedy, who had previously announced his support for Langevin, is now the odds-on favorite to take on Chafee. Kennedy brings to the race everything you'd expect of a Kennedy, including tons of money and a tendency to exercise terrible judgment at times. There's a pretty good, if semi-coherent thread over at Daily Kos that offers up the skinny on the prospective candidates; stick to the comments by posters who live in the neighborhood.

Now, if only I could have the same effect on Scalia...

Quelle surprise

The New York Times reports that William Cheshire, the latest mouthpiece to pop out of Jeb Bush's clown car, has an approach to his work that is thoroughly grounded in Red State Science:

"William P. Cheshire Jr., the Florida doctor cited by Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday in his announcement that he would intervene again in the case of Terri Schiavo, is a neurologist and bioethicist whose life and work have been guided by his religious beliefs.

Dr. Cheshire directs a laboratory at the Mayo Clinic branch in Jacksonville dealing with unconscious reflexes like digestion, and he is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by 'more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists,' in the words of its Web site.
...
Mr. Bush called Dr. Cheshire a 'renowned neurologist,' but he is not widely known in the neurology or bioethics fields. Asked about him, Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, replied, 'Who?'
...
Dr. Cheshire entered the field of bioethics relatively late in his career. A profile of him on the Web site of Trinity International University, where he enrolled in the master's program in bioethics in 2000, states that he was 'searching for how he should integrate his faith with his medical career.' After getting the degree, he became an adjunct professor of bioethics there.

A search of his publication record in the online medical library PubMed yielded articles in medical journals, with a focus on headache pain, in particular trigeminal neuralgia, a painful disorder originating in a cranial nerve called the trigeminal. None of the papers dealt with persistent vegetative states.
...
He was also the author, with others from the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, of a paper opposing stem cell research."


And there's more. When he's not undermining science by arriving at diagnoses-by-belief, which requires no actual examination of the patient, Dr. Cheshire turns his attention to the arts with an equally adept hand:

"He has also written poetry, including 'Exit Ramp,' a poem about the movement to allow physician-assisted suicide that uses the metaphor of a highway off-ramp to warn of a different kind of slippery slope:

Such killing fast degenerates,
Despite concern for patients' best,
Into a plot that terminates
Without explicit prerequest."


It's hard to guess at Jebbie's end game here, but in the Land of Hanging Chads and Elian Gonzalez, anything can happen. And usually does.

Gov. Bush Seeks to Take Custody of Schiavo

Terri Schiavo's parents saw their options vanish one by one Wednesday as a federal appeals court refused to re-insert her feeding tube and the Florida Legislature decided not to intervene in the epic struggle. Refusing to give up, Gov. Jeb Bush sought court permission to take custody of Schiavo.

Given that Jeb's own daughter has had real problems with nose candy and prescription drug fraud, I'm not sure a court would agree that he would be a fit guardian. And, of course, there are the interesting words of Governor Bush, one of the authors of the current media circus, when his family was under the klieg lights:

"This is a private issue as it relates to my daughter and myself and my wife."

But I digress.

Two Schiavo points that I have not seen elsewhere:

1. Would Bill Frist, Tom Delay and Jeb Bush be falling over themselves in orgiastic "culture of life" rituals to save a gay black man felled by complications from AIDS? Judging by the right-wing silence regarding the sad case of Sun Hudson in Texas, one must assume the answer is no. Which brings us to:

2. Many of the articles on this case point out that Schaivo's heart atack was brought on by bulimia. The jury in the malpractice case brought on her behalf whacked about 2/3rd of the award because the jury thought she was partly to blame for her collapse.

The Bush Social Security plan and the Republican-sponsored evisceration of the bankruptcy laws are both evidence of a general dedication on the Right to the individualization of risk -- if your life doesn't pan out, don't come looking to society to bail you out. And yet, incredibly, these paragons of consistency seem bound and determined to bring the full force and effect of the entire federal government to bear to rescue this woman who, though unfortunate, had a hand in her own tragedy.

Wanker of the Day: Jeff Gannon

JimmyJeff seems to think the REAL story on the shooting incident in Minnesota is that the kid was a liberal. How does he reach that conclusion? Because

The teenager who went on a shooting rampage at a Minnesota high school Monday, killing ten people including himself, apparently had links to a neo-Nazi website that promotes environmental extremism and eco-terrorism.

Despite those connections, don't expect the establishment media to make it an issue, said a spokesman for a free market think tank.

"A real Nazi killer commits horrible acts, and much to the media's disappointment, he's linked to green groups. Not convenient, not gonna go down that path," Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Cybercast News Service Tuesday.


Understanding this bit of twisted logic requires wading through some industrial-strength slime. The link on JimmyJeff's website takes you to a story at the wingnut Cybercast News Service. That site in turn sends you to www.nazi.org, which JimmyJeff seems to think is a branch of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Sure, JimmyJeff. And TomDelay gives a rat's ass about Terry Schiavo. And you are a journalist.

Here is what the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party" themselves say about their "green" connection:

Green is a fraction of the National Socialist view on land. "Blood and Soil" is our doctrine of homeland, or origin to each person, and thus which ground is sacred to them and they upkeep for generations. Each ethnic group should have a homeland, because in a consensus group one can declare poisoning the earth to be a great offense.

If that doesn't tip you off that this ain't exactly a liberal group, take a gander at this:

While ethnic mixing can be beneficial, as in the case of Southern Italy, it is important that the original Arctic tribes remain undiluted, and thus among these we have a strict prohibition on breeding outside of the tribe, as to incorporate the genetic histories of those who did not make the Arctic migration is to adulterate all that it signified, then and now, as a philosophy of believing in life enough to endure great hardship for the purpose of growing stronger. Indeed, the tribes of the south and east have clearly different standards than those of the Nordic-Germanic people, and this is why we demand separation and the right to self-determination.

Or perhaps this:

However, we also believe that there is no way for people with a Jewish ethnic and cultural identity to exist among us, thus they must be deported to their homeland, Israel, with our blessing.

And then there is the flyer on the www.nazi.org website that proclaims that "The average Black commits murder 7.9 times as often as the average White."

Reading is fundamental, JimmyJeff. You have to get past the labels. I know that not all gays are prostitutes, that not all gay prostitutes are liberal, and that not everyone who claims to be conservative views really thinks there is something inherently heinous about buggery for pay. You might want to learn how to do research, and perhaps graduate to the realization that not everything with "green" in the title is on our collective lefty buddy list.

Wanker.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

IRS hits church over Sen. Kerry visit

viaThe Raw Story:


A Florida church’s tax-exempt status is in jeopardy as the IRS has launched a probe into a visit by former candidate John Kerry last fall, the (registration-restricted) Miami Herald reports Tuesday. Some wonder if the probe is politically motivated. Excerpts follow.

The probe is related to an appearance last October by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several black leaders, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The reason for the investigation, an IRS official wrote in a 10-page letter obtained by The Herald, is that “a reasonable belief exists that Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status as a church.'’



This move is a complete red herring. Team Bush does NOT want to keep church and state separate. They are doing this because they know that us libruls believe in the rule of law, and they want to establish the precedent of defending the right of churches to cross the line. They WANT preachers telling their flocks that they will all rot in eternal damnation unless they vote Republican.

New EPA Mercury Rule Omits Conflicting Data

Cooking the books, EPA style:

When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study's author.


When you consider this in the context of the report issued last week about the health effects of mercury, the "culture of life" tripe rings rather hollow.

Oy

From today's Providence Journal :

"Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy vote[d] against legislation allowing a federal court to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, while Rep. James R. Langevin vote[d] for the bill that passed easily.

The Palm Sunday debate that wore on past midnight in Congress continued to reverberate yesterday as Rhode Island's congressmen weighed in on the emotional question of whether a federal judge should be allowed to decide Terri Schiavo's fate.

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, a Democrat, voted against the legislation passed by Congress early yesterday, by a vote of 203 to 58, while Rep. James R. Langevin, also a Democrat, voted to allow a federal court to intervene.
...
Kennedy was critical of Congress' intervention, noting that the Schiavo case has been fought out in the courts for seven years, with nearly a dozen court decisions, and 19 judges in at least six different courts ruling that it was not Schiavo's wish to live in a 'persistent vegetative state.'


For Langevin, his support of the legislation came down to 'the extraordinary circumstances and heightened controversy regarding the patient's wishes.'


'Congressman Langevin believes it is important to ensure that every aspect of this situation is examined and understood thoroughly before an irreversible decision is made,' said Michael K. Guilfoyle, Langevin's communications director, in a statement.

Langevin, who was returning to Rhode Island from Washington, was not available for further comment."

Langevin, as you might recall, is a potential Democratic candidate for the senate in '06, and trounced Linc Chafee in a heads-up straw conducted last month. He is also anti-choice, which may well work to his advantage with a large chunk of RI voters in a race against Chafee.

I've never been much excited by Langevin, and there are two or three high profile Dems that I would rather see get the nomination. However, given that his voting record as a whole does not warrant a diagnosis of DINOism, I had been prepared to support him in the general election if he is the Democratic nominee.

But he lost me here. Sorry, Mr. Langevin, every aspect of this situation has been examined and is understood thoroughly. It is a tragic story that has been thrashed out in several courts before several judges over a period of several years. The moral and emotional dimensions of this story will live long after Ms. Schiavo is finally laid to rest, but the legal aspects of it have been settled. Period. Your opinions about the cast of characters, about end of life decisions and about anything else pertaining to this case are irrelevant. Your inability to recognize the rule of law and the extent to which the legislation violates a range of basic constitutional principles is disturbing, as is your willingness to provide the likes of Tom DeLay with a superficially "bipartisan" victory when there was no need for you to vote at all.

Matt Brown or Bust in '06.

Schiavo in context: the war on science

from the Guardian, viaThe Smirking Chimp:

The interference by the White House in the case of Terri Schiavo - the woman at the centre of America's latest right-to-die controversy - marks another milestone in President Bush's campaign for faith over fact. More concerned with the wonder of miracles than Schiavo's 15-year irreversible vegetative state, Bush and his allies have blithely overturned multiple court decisions to maintain artificial feeding and let evangelical populism triumph over medical opinion.

Thanks to the policies and prejudices of the Bush administration, science has become a dirty word. The American century was built on scientific progress. From the automobile to the atom bomb to the man on the moon, science and technology underpinned American military, commercial and cultural might. Crucial to that was the presidency. From FDR and the Los Alamos laboratory to Kennedy and Nasa to Clinton and decoding the genome, the White House was vital to promoting ground-breaking research and luring the world's scientific elite. But Bush's faith-based, petro-chemical administration has reversed that tradition: excepting matters military, this presidency exhibits an abiding aversion to scientific inquiry that is in danger of affecting the entire country.


I'm not sure why, given the debacle of undermanned Iraqi forces, and the billions spent on "shoot down bullets with bullets" weapons systems, why the author exempts the military. but never mind.

I think there is an additional nefarious aspect to the Schiavo case. Think about the perfect American from the Republican standpoint -- compliant, obedient, cranium filled with tapioca -- sound familiar? Terry Schiavo isn't filing FOIA requests or asking awkward questions about Social Security. Rush has pointed out that by supporting abortion, Democrats are murdering potential liberal voters. The Republicans won't make that mistake. indeed, I'll wager they will try to find a way to let her parents fill out ballots for her.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Circus Circus

My wife likes watching CNN while getting ready in the morning. I usually can't stand to watch.

This morning they interrupted wall-to-wall Terry Schiavo only to show Michael Jackson's perp walk into court.

Not exactly how I would have stacked the top stories. Perhaps they could be persuaded to change their name to Circus, Not News.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Americans are just plain better people, part XIV

from Roachblog, a blog I had never seen, talking about Iraqis and Afghans who "expired" in US custody:

Suddenly, the count of prisoners dead in captivity is up to 108. Boy, that happened fast, didn't it? When I did my seven year hitch in the Navy, the gold standard for horrible, communist, totalitarian, non-Geneva convention deadly bastards who you never wanted to get captured by was the North Vietnamese.

They were happy if you died in your cell. They tortured. They hated. They abused just for perverse commie, Stalinist fun. They were the worst. Worse than Nazis, even, because the Nazis at least sometimes pretended to be civilized about POW treatment. The North Vietnamese didn't even pretend.

So how many American POWS died while captured by the insane and lawless North Vietnamese during the entire Vietnam war? One hundred and fourteen.


But those dead folks must've hated freedom, or we wouldn't have killed them.

Times gives Gannon hand job

viaEditor & Publisher:

In an interview to be published on Sunday in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, former White House correspondent/ escort Jeff Gannon (real name James Guckert) predicts, “At some point in the future, everyone is going to have a picture on the Internet that they are unhappy about.”

He also reveals that he’d “like to get back into journalism. I’m hoping someone will offer me a job as a commentator or one of those political analysts that you see on the news shows all the time.”

Asked about running a gay escort service, he pulls a Mark McGwire. He does not deny it, but says, “Don’t let that confuse the issue. We have driven so many good people from public service through the politics of personal destruction.” But, cryptrically, he admits that people in the White House press office “probably treated me better than I deserved.”

The one-page interview, by Deborah Solomon, which carries the headline “Blogged Down,” and refers to Gannon as a “shill,” is accompanied by a warm and fuzzy black and white photo of Gannon in a sweater, a far cry from the naked torso familiar to millions in recent weeks.


Can we just change the subtitle of the Times to "All the News George Bush Wants You to Read" and be done with it? And I have proudly called myself a liberal against all enemies, but I want to make damned sure that I'm not whatever they call the Times -- if they are liberal, I must be something else.

Rox Populi : Road Paved for Michelle Malkin to Join Reserves

The recent changes in the age cut-off for U.S. military recruiting presents an awkward situation for under-40 hypocrites like Michelle Malkin and Jonah Goldberg -- or would, if they saw hypocricy as something to be avoided, rather than a chance for them to perhaps earn their own Medals of Freedom.

The whole "fodder unit" thing is a lot less funny now, ain't it?

More on the Falluja killings

Aljazeera.Net - Journalists tell of US Falluja killings

All is quiet in Falluja, or at least that is how it seems, given that the mainstream media has largely forgotten about the Iraqi city. But independent journalists are risking life and limb to bring out a very different story.

The picture they are painting is of US soldiers killing whole families, including children, attacks on hospitals and doctors, the use of napalm-like weapons and sections of the city destroyed.

One of the few reporters who has reached Falluja is American Dahr Jamail of the Inter Press Service. He interviewed a doctor who had filmed the testimony of a 16-year-old girl.

"She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters.

She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything. They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead," Jamail relates.


I really wish I could dismiss this as the raving of lunatics. But I can't -- I fear the lunatics are the ones doing the dismissing.

Zimbabwe Bars Critics As Poll Monitors

The government of President Robert Mugabe has hand-picked observers for Zimbabwe's upcoming parliamentary vote in what critics call a shallow and transparent attempt to restore legitimacy to the country's discredited democracy.

It has systematically barred observer missions from countries and groups that said elections in 2000 and 2002 were flawed and probably stolen by Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party amid massive vote-rigging and state-sponsored violence and intimidation.

Observers for the March 31 elections have been invited from generally pro-Mugabe African states such as South Africa, friendly countries such as China, Iran (news - web sites) and Venezuela, and from the Southern African Development Community, a generally supportive regional body.

"They left out everybody who gave them a negative report," said University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe.

"Essentially it says the regime has something to hide, that it can't stand close scrutiny," Makumbe said in a telephone interview from the United States, where he is a guest lecturer at Michigan State University.


I'm sure there is no truth to the rumors that Katherine Harris and Kenneth Blackwell have served as consultants to the Mugabe government. No truth at all.

When life gives you lemons...

Wolfowitz Says He Won't Impose U.S. Agenda on World Bank

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After helping lead the United States to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz is fighting a different kind of fight -- to secure approval as the next World Bank president by portraying himself as a consensus builder.

From his spacious but cluttered office, the Pentagon's No. 2 official this week waged a campaign to ease fears in Europe and elsewhere that he would change policies at the bank to reflect the conservative Bush administration's foreign and social priorities.

Wolfowitz telephoned U2 rock star-turned-debt relief advocate Bono, a potentially key ally; cheerfully endured interviews by major media, especially those with European audiences; and courted key finance and political officials from around the world."

You must admit, there's a perverse elegance in the Boy King's decision to hand over the World Bank, a bank with an essentially moral mission, to one of the most morally bankrupt souls on the planet. Isn't he running out of fingers to stick in the eyes of the EU at this point?

On the upside, the prospect of Wolfie actually sitting down with Bono creates the tantalizing possibility that I will finally have a good go-with for this photo on the wall of my study:

The image “http://www.frenchquartercitizens.com/graphics/nixon-elvis.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.




Saturday, March 19, 2005

Did US troops use chemical weapons in Fallujah?

It is from The Moscow Times, which 20 years ago would have made it laughable, but could not possibly be more full of shit than what we now get at home.

Earlier this month, the American media completely ignored an important announcement from an official of the Iraqi government concerning the oft-maligned U.S. operation to clear insurgents from the city of Fallujah last November. Although the press conference of Health Ministry investigator Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was attended by representatives from The Washington Post, Knight-Ridder and more than 20 other international news outlets, nary a word of his team's thorough investigation into the truth about the battle made it through the filter's dense mesh. Once again, the American public was denied the full story of one of President Bush's remarkable triumphs.

Dr. ash-Shaykhli's findings provided confirmation of earlier reports by many other Iraqis -- reports that were also ignored by the arrogant filterers, who seem more interested in hearing from terrorists or anti-occupation extremists than ordinary Iraqis and those like Dr. ash-Shaykhli, who serve in the U.S.-backed interim government vetted and approved by President Bush. But while the media elite turn up their noses at such riffraff, the testimony of these common folk and diligent public servants gives ample evidence of Bush's innovative method of liberating innocent Iraqis from tyranny:

He burns them to death with chemical weapons.


The article backs up this accusation with specific, verifiable details. Is there a line Bush won't cross?

Draft alert

A dKos diary reports on the coming draft.

On March 31st, the Director of the Selective Service System (the SSS) is due to report to the Pentagon that the agency is ready to open 1,980 draft board offices around the country and be ready to operate lotteries by June 15th.

The next several weeks I believe will be crucial on the draft question. The generals have all gone before the nation and the press and said the recruitment is down and things look grim.

The only thing holding back the draft at this point appears to be Bush's losing fight on Social Security. He must wait until that vote is won or lost before he can take the unpopular and long-planned step of reinstating the draft.
...
The week after Social Security is voted up or down, expect legislation for the Skills Draft and Updated Medical Draft to appear on the Republican side. As soon as that goes through in the dead of some night, the draft will be reinstated soon after.


Time to learn the words to "O, Canada."

You go, Arianna

Salon.com The Washington establishment fails Logic 101

I just got back from a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Didn't ride the teacups, though. Because I wasn't in Disneyland but in Washington, D.C., where everyone is walking on air, swept away by the Beltway's latest consensus: President Bush was right on Iraq, and as a result, Tomorrowland in the Middle East will feature an E-ticket ride on the Matterhorn of freedom and democracy.

The political and cultural establishment has gone positively Goofy over this notion. In the corridors of power, Republicans are high-fiving and Democrats are nodding in agreement and patting themselves on the back for how graciously they've been able to accept the fact that they were wrong. The groupthink in the nation's capital would be the envy of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.

Even heroes of mine like Jon Stewart and my buddy Bill Maher have hopped on the Bush bandwagon. "I've been supportive of President Bush," Maher told Wolf Blitzer this week, "now that I think Iraq is turning around ... He had a bigger and better idea than the rest of us."

She gets the logical fallacy wrong (it's post hoc ergo propter hoc). But it is still a strong, insightful piece. And she seems as worried as I am about how the Kool Aid is getting around.

The Dennis Millerization of Bill Maher

In my very first substantive post on this blog, when the anger and shock of the November election was still an open wound, I talked about the hollowing out of Bill Maher's final show of the season:

Pretty much all you need to know about what life will be like after election '04 was on display on the last Real Time of the season. The tenor of the show was rather different from the pre-election shows, as you might expect. The scary part was the anger and vicousness of the conservatives. A foul-mouthed Alan Simpson became Zell Miller, browbeating Maher, ignoring his questions and essentially threatening him. And Andrew Sullivan, whose relatively moderate blog I had been reading, was strident and nasty, falling over himself to show his Republican bona fides. The more liberal voices were generally subdued. By the end of the hour the air was completely out of the balloon. It would not surprise me if the show does not come back, or if they give it to Dennis Miller next time around.

I have watched the last few shows, and my prediction was only slightly off. Bill Maher is still the host, only now he seems to be channeling Dennis Miller. The guest panels lean right, and Miller/Maher talks about Bush as a man of vision on both Iraq policy and Social Security. And the next show will feature -- I'm not making this up -- Bill O'Reilly.

At this rate, soon the only thing worth watching on HBO will be The Sopranos, and you'll be able to get the equivalent just by watching C-SPAN.

Weekend Diversion: Kobes to the Lottery

With last night's loss to the Pacers, the L.A. Kobes have probably cemented their coveted place in the 2005 draft lottery. The Kobes are now below .500 with only 17 games left in the regular (and their only) season.

Steve Kerr on the great unravelling:

Bryant's desire to lead his own team to a championship may one day yield him another title, but at this point it seems like a distant mirage. Entering Friday's games, the Lakers trailed 1½ games behind Denver for the West's eighth and final playoff spot, and their schedule does not lend itself to a strong finish.

One wonders if Kobe spends any time at all pondering the events that led to Shaq's departure. Does he stay up at night thinking about what might have been? Does he wonder if he made a huge mistake in letting the Big Fella leave town? Does he ever consider that the two of them could have formed the NBA's greatest duo ever? Does he realize he could have worn six or seven championship rings by the end of his career?

Be careful what you wish for indeed.


I know most basketball fans are focused on March Madness about now. My preferred version is here.

Hunter who accidentally shot pregnant woman pleads guilty to hunting law violations

"Craig T. Wetzel, 46, of North Whitehall Township, was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to pay $2,700 in fines for the Nov. 30 shooting of Casey Burns, 18, also of North Whitehall Township.

Wetzel also lost hunting privileges for five to 10 years and will be required to pay $3,175 in restitution.

After the plea, Burns asked Wetzel if he was sorry. He remained silent. Burns began crying and said, 'I just think that's really, really mean.'


Burns was shot while she sat in a car in her driveway. She was seven months pregnant at the time and gave birth to a healthy girl, Hailey Alexis, last month."

Why the hell should he apologize for shooting a woman while she's sitting in her driveway? It's not like he hurt the fetus, or anything. And besides, look at the price he's paying--no hunting for five years and will have to take the time to visit his P.O. every week for six whole months.

A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano

Of course, the Bible is winning bigtime right now:

"The fight over evolution has reached the big, big screen.

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.

The number of theaters rejecting such films is small, people in the industry say - perhaps a dozen or fewer, most in the South. But because only a few dozen Imax theaters routinely show science documentaries, the decisions of a few can have a big impact on a film's bottom line - or a producer's decision to make a documentary in the first place.

...

Hyman Field, who as a science foundation official had a role in the financing of 'Volcanoes,' said he understood that theaters must be responsive to their audiences. But Dr. Field he said he was 'furious' that a science museum would decide not to show a scientifically accurate documentary like 'Volcanoes' because it mentioned evolution.


'It's very alarming,' he said, 'all of this pressure being put on a lot of the public institutions by the fundamentalists."'

Nice to see that the men and women of science in charge of our museums are following in the footsteps of the educators at the College Board, who decided to create special versions of the SAT exams including questions about creationism rather than evolution for those whose tastes in science run to the faith-based rather than the, well, scientific. All of this is doing a great job of positioning our next generation to develop cutting edge faith healing techniques to counter naturally occuring epidemics as well as bioterror attacks.

The fundies pushing their agendas are going to believe what they believe, period. But one can only hope that there's a special place in hell for the educated custodians of our scientific and educational institutions who know better and are caving...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Study: Abstinence May Lead to Risky Acts

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.


Given the source of the push for abstinence, and his well-known lack of empathy for the fodder units of the world, an Antoinette-inspired alternative name for our imperial President's favored program suggests itself: Let them eat cock.

More on Taiwan, China and the balance of trade

On Monday I linked to Steve Soto's observation that the U.S. is unlikely to have any effect on the brewing Taiwan-China situation. Yesterday Tom Friedman echoed:

The excessive tax cuts for the rich, combined with a total lack of discipline on spending by the Bush team and its Republican-run Congress, have helped China become the second-largest holder of U.S. debt, with a little under $200 billion worth. No, I don't think China will start dumping its T-bills on a whim. But don't tell me that as China buys up more and more of our debt - and that is the only way we can finance the tax holiday the Bush team wants to make permanent - it won't limit our room to maneuver with Beijing, should it take aggressive steps toward Taiwan. What China might do with all its U.S. T-bills in the event of a clash over Taiwan is a total wild card that we have put in Beijing's hands.

The conventional wisdom, as voiced by Dick Cheney, is that deficits don't matter. I sense imminent refutation, though such logic-based concepts have become increasingly quaint.

A Connecticut Democrat in Joementum's Court?

Salon reports that there may be a primary challenge for George Bush's favorite Democrat in Name Only:

Bloggers have begun to suggest that it's time for a "real" Democrat to challenge Lieberman in the 2006 primary. It appears they may get their wish. John Orman, a politics professor at Fairfield University, tells the Associated Press that he's thinking about making a run. "Our party's senator is no longer a Democrat," Orman told the AP. "He has joined the Republicrat Party. After 17 years as a safe-seat senator, Joe has lost touch with his party and with his state."

Orman may be half-right. While Lieberman has set himself apart from other Democrats, the man Josh Marshall calls "the dean of the fainthearted faction" remains wildly popular among Connecticut voters: According to the New York Times, recent polls show that more than two-thirds of the state's Democrats -- and more than two-thirds of the state's Republicans -- approve of the way Lieberman is handling his job. Orman says he understands that challenging Lieberman would be a challenge, but he sees a benefit in just trying: Having someone run to his left "could make Joe Lieberman be a Democrat for a year."



His campaign can count on a few dollars from me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

GOP boards up the 'town hall'

Sure, it is dumbed down. But man, USA Today sure hits hard.

Republicans in Congress have a game plan to avoid "March madness" when they go home this weekend to talk to constituents about Social Security during a two-week holiday recess.

Shaken by raucous protests at open "town hall"-style meetings last month, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio and other GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to hold lower-profile events this time.
...
This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable," says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.


Uh, yeah. Like democracy.

Republican leaders are urging their party's lawmakers to take the spotlight off themselves by convening panels of experts from the Social Security Administration, conservative think tanks, local colleges and like-minded interest groups to answer questions about the federal retirement program.

The shift in venues and formats, Santorum says, is aimed at producing "more of an erudite discussion" about Social Security's problems and possible solutions.


"Erudite" translates as "make sure nobody with a friggin clue is allowed within a hundred yards of us."

Santorum was among dozens of members of Congress who ran gantlets of demonstrators and shouted over hecklers at Social Security events last month. Many who showed up to protest were alerted by e-mails and bused in by anti-Bush organizations such as MoveOn.org and USAction, a liberal advocacy group. They came with prepared questions and instructions on how to confront lawmakers.

MoveOn, which campaigned against Bush's re-election and is now focused on defeating his Social Security proposals, has issued a guide for activists. It includes such tips as: "Ask pointed questions that put the representative or senator on record on important issues like benefit cuts, raising the retirement age and new debt necessary to pay for privatization." It also includes a section on "How to talk to a conservative about Social Security (if you must)." The group says it sent activists to 28 meetings.

Pryce says of such efforts: "It's 'Rabble Rousing 101.' " She contends that the groups gave their followers "everything but eggs to throw at us."


The nerve of those rabble rousers -- armed with actual questions. Didn't the Patriot Act ban those?

Pryce says many Republicans "came back amazed at the depths that the opposition is going to and a little wiser about how to promote our issues." She says opposition tactics scared away constituents with "legitimate concerns," and Republicans now want to "put a little more control back into it."

It is common knowledge that responsible leaders value control above the free exchange of ideas. You know, like ... Stalin. And Mussolini. And that little Austrian guy.

But many other Republican lawmakers didn't hold Social Security events last month. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas says he was "disappointed" by how few Republicans held town halls during the Presidents Day recess: 95 out of 232.
...
"There are some people who are probably shying away" from holding meetings, says Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who offered advice on how to avoid disruptions to her fellow Republicans at a House caucus meeting last week. Capito, a veteran of town-hall meetings in other years that she has "not been able to control," reported that two recent district meetings went off without a hitch.

"You don't call on (protesters) when you see them in the audience, because you know who your constituents are," says Capito, who doesn't plan any public events on Social Security this month.


Well duh. If they protest, they aren't constituents. Only the folks who vote for us are constituents, right?

Pryce denies that her party's members would limit participants or audiences to supporters, as the Bush administration has done during its current 60-day Social Security tour.

I sure feel safer knowing USA Today is out there speaking truth to power.

BBC NEWS: US planned Iraq invasion before 9/11

The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks, sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed.

Two years ago today - when President George Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad - protesters claimed the US had a secret plan for Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.

In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department "pragmatists".

"Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.

Insiders told Newsnight that planning began "within weeks" of Bush's first taking office in 2001, long before the September 11th attack on the US.



This is big -- bigger even than steroids in baseball. Yet my Google News search reveals that exactly zero mainstream American news sites are picking it up. Zilch.

I guess the "accountability moment" has passed on this issue.

Mercury, Autism Connection Found in Study

Coming on the heels of the recent promulgation of regulations allowing coal-fired power plants to continue pumping out mercury-laden emissions, this story should resonate -- but won't:

Texas researchers have found a possible link between autism and mercury in the air and water.

Studying individual school districts in Texas, the epidemiologists found that those districts with the highest levels of mercury in the environment also had the highest rates of special education students and autism diagnoses.

The study does not prove that mercury causes autism, cautioned the lead author, Raymond F. Palmer of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, but it provides a "provocative" clue that should be further investigated.

"Mercury is a known neurotoxin," said Dr. Isaac Pessah of UC Davis' MIND Institute, who was not involved in the study. "It's rather intriguing that the correlation is so positive," meaning that there was a strong, direct relationship between mercury and autism levels. "It makes one worry."

Scion of traitors and warlords: Bush's Irish links

The Guardian reports on a newly discovered aspect of Dubya's geneology:

The US president's now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke - known as Strongbow for his arrow skills - is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations.

Reminds me of the old joke about the difference between a catfish and a personal injury lawyer -- one is a scum-sucking bottom feeder and the other is a fish.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Crooked Timber: Further religious news

In the newly revised, more accessible edition of the New International Version of the Bible, “stoned” has been changed to “stoned to death” for fear that modern readers may get the impression that the reward for adultery is a big spliff.

SUV trifecta: GM's Blazer Ranked Deadliest Car on U.S. Roadways

The two-door Chevrolet Blazer from General Motors Corp. has the highest driver death rate of any passenger vehicle on U.S. roadways, a research group with links to the insurance industry said on Tuesday.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (news - web sites) based that conclusion, and its embarrassing result for the world's largest automaker, on an extensive study of passenger vehicles from the 1999-2002 model years.

The study focused on the rate of driver deaths in various types of crashes, including both single- and multiple-vehicle accidents.

The overall driver death rate, for 199 models studied during the 2000-2003 calendar years, was 87 per million registered vehicles annually, the Insurance Institute said.

Weighing in at more than three times the overall rate, the Insurance Institute said the two-door, two-wheel-drive Blazer -- a midsize sport utility vehicle -- had an average of 308 driver deaths per million.

The Blazer also had the highest rate of driver deaths in rollover accidents at 251 per million.



Sure, you buy an SUV to show off your profligacy by wasting as much gasoline as possible. But sleep easy knowing you get a death trap at no extra cost.

Very shrewd.

And kudos to the General for doggedly pursuing such a wise and responsible strategery.



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