Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Friday, January 30, 2004

Weapons and Lies II
by Lee

When it comes to justifying the Iraq invasion, Krauthammer nails it.

The intelligence failure is quite spectacular, but its history is quite prosaic. When the U.N. inspectors left in 1998, they assumed that the huge stockpiles of unaccounted-for weapons still existed. What other assumption could they make? That Saddam had destroyed them and not even reported that to the very agency that could have then vindicated him and gotten sanctions lifted?

Read the whole thing.  Now, this begs the question, if it is this easy for a columnist to make this case, why isn’t Bush making it himself?  He’s heading into a campaign to be reelected.  He knows his opposition is going to make the WMD issue the centerpiece of their campaign.  Why not go on the offensive now, take the battle to the Democrats?  Why not head this off at the pass, so to speak, and avoid looking like someone with something to hide?  I just don’t get it.

Posted by Lee on 01/30/04 at 02:28 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Lack of Intelligence
by Lee

This is just what is needed.

The House and Senate intelligence committees have unearthed a series of failures in prewar intelligence on Iraq similar to those identified by former weapons inspector David Kay, leading them to believe that CIA analysts and their superiors did not seriously consider the possibility Saddam Hussein no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction, congressional officials said.

The committees, working separately for the past seven months, have determined that the CIA relied too heavily on circumstantial, outdated intelligence and became overly dependent on satellite and spy-plane imagery and communications intercepts.

Like Kay, the committees have found that CIA operatives and analysts failed to detect that the Iraqi chain of command for developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons had fallen apart, and that Iraqi scientists and others were engaged in their own campaign to deceive the Iraqi leader, telling him they had weapons that did not exist.

“It was like a runaway train,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, referring to the CIA’s assessment of Iraq’s weapons program. “Once it left the station, it kept going faster and faster. Some analysts may have been trying to slow it down, but it just kept going.”

It’s a shame that President Bush didn’t take the lead in instigating this investigation.  He’s acting like a man with something to hide.

Posted by Lee on 01/30/04 at 01:18 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Fallen Hero
by Lee

America has lost a true hero.

Former Navy Cmdr. Lloyd “Pete” Bucher, who commanded the spy ship USS Pueblo when it was captured by North Korea in 1968 and helped his crew survive months of brutal captivity, only to nearly face a court-martial back home, has died.

Bucher, 76, a San Diego resident, died Wednesday evening at a nursing facility in suburban Poway. He had been in declining health for months, partly the legacy of his captivity, said Stu Russell, who served under Bucher and is president of the USS Pueblo Veteran’s Association.

The lightly armed Pueblo was monitoring communist ship movements and intercepting messages in international waters near the North Korean coast when it was attacked by torpedo boats Jan. 23, 1968.

One sailor was killed and 82 were taken prisoner. Bucher, who was wounded when the Pueblo was shelled, was beaten and tortured into signing a confession. During their captivity, crew members said, they were beaten with pieces of lumber, burned on radiators and had their teeth kicked out by North Korean soldiers.

“The man was a giant,” Russell said from his home in Eureka, Calif. “Being the focal point between the Koreans and the crew, he took the brunt of everything. No matter who did what, he was always punished. I simply don’t know where he got the strength and courage to go through what he did.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of the USS Pueblo you can read about it at the official USS Pueblo site.  And if you’ve never heard the infamous story about the Hawaiian good luck sign, here it is.

As October turned into November the chill was in more than just in the air. The General’s prediction of our repatriation occurring in October had fallen flat. He had laid a lot on the line, and as a result had lost much face. Something had gone wrong. The relationship between the guards and ourselves had fallen flat. You could tell something was not right. It was as if they were ready to take back all the kindliness of October and return to their true selves. To hell with public relations. It was the calm before the storm.

The duty officers we asking about the finger gesture, what did it mean? What did it really mean. We stuck to our cover story, it was the Hawaiian Good Luck sign. This was buying time and we knew it, but not much. The treatment worsened and Vic Escamilla and Bob Hill were severely beaten for what had been a minor infraction of the Rules of Life. Unlike Easter, there was no Thanksgiving observance, it was just another day. The KORCOMs were trying to ferret out the truth. The Robot began asking questions.

Bucher passed on to Charlie Law that they were on to us. We had been victorious, we had ruined their propaganda efforts. The only problem was that they figured it out before we left town. Bucher warned the crew to prepare for the worst. Our treatment and food continued its down hill slide. We knew that if we weren’t out before winter hit, many of us would not be around for spring. Along with the fear of torture and pain was a very real fear of death. Then to wrap the whole thing up, the Bear was back. He had been absent for some time and his return was a portent of things to come. The Bear strode the halls to make sure that everyone knew he was back. The first shoe fell on December 7.

Room 13, the guys in that famous room photo with four out of eight guys giving the finger, were summoned before the Robot. After being questioned they were returned to their room. Shortly after a guard came and called out Berens, Bland, Layton and Goldman. Bland was the first to return. The Bear had beaten him, his face was red and swollen, one eye was nearly shut. Jim Layton returned next. Berens returned next, he too had been savaged by the Bear. Goldman was the last to return. A veteran of the Korean War whose service record listed service on a minesweeper that had mined Wonsan harbor, received extra attention, he had been beaten by the Possum. His face was bleeding, his lip was split and his ear was badly torn.

All was quiet until Saturday afternoon, the General called and all hands meeting. We had not been sincere, we would be punished. The gloves were off.

You can see the photograph here.  If anyone ever doubts just what evil bastards the North Koreans are, they have simply to have a read of the USS Pueblo site.

Bravo Zulu, sir.  You will be missed.

Posted by Lee on 01/30/04 at 01:00 AM in Deep Thoughts  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, January 29, 2004

A Bunch of Jerkoffs
by Lee

Ah, the old Ninth Circuit. has come through for us once again.  It seems that donating money to political campaigns is not covered by the first amendment, but this is.

A San Diego policeman who sold videos of himself masturbating after removing a police uniform was wrongly dismissed from the force, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

An officer named in court documents only as John Roe sold the videos on the Internet vendor eBay Inc., where his hobby was discovered by his supervisor. Roe never identified himself as a San Diego police officer in his sales pitch and gave a fictitious address in northern California.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Roe that his dismissal by the San Diego Police Department in 2001 was unjust because his off-duty actions were protected by First Amendment rights to free speech.

“We hold that when the employee’s speech is not about his government employer or employment, is directed to a segment of the general public and occurs outside the workplace, that speech satisfies the public concern test,” the court found.

Judge Kim Wardlaw, dissenting from the three-judge panel, called the decision absurd, saying his actions were not free speech but conduct violations related to his job.

This ruling would be easier to take if there had not been such a ridiculous interpretation of the first amendment by our court system recently.  If a guy jerking off on a videotape is protected by the first amendment, surely donating money to political parties in the weeks leading up to an election should be as well.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 06:56 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Yin and Yang
by Lee

The Good News:  I got my work contract extended today, meaning that I’ll have a steady paycheck coming in through January, 2005.

The Bad News: I’ll be living in the Bay Area at least through January, 2005.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 04:48 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Government Bloat
by Lee

"Free” health care costing more than projected?  I’m shocked, I say… shocked!

President Bush’s new budget will project that the just-enacted prescription drug program and Medicare overhaul will cost one-third more than previously estimated and will predict a deficit exceeding $500 billion for this year, congressional aides said Thursday.

Instead of a $400 billion 10-year price tag, Bush’s 2005 budget will estimate the Medicare bill’s cost at about $540 billion, said aides who spoke on condition of anonymity. Bush will submit on Monday a federal budget for the fiscal year 2005, which starts next Oct. 1.

Bush just signed the Medicare measure into law last month. While it was moving through Congress, Bush, White House officials and congressional Republican leaders had assured doubting conservatives that the bill’s costs would stay within the $400 billion estimate.

Some conservatives voted against the legislation anyway, and many of them are already angry that Bush has presided over excessive increases in spending and budget deficits.

“I’m not the least bit surprised,” said conservative Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., who voted against the Medicare bill in November and who said he had heard that the cost estimate would rise. “Historically, our estimates of what these programs will cost have been so far off as to be meaningless.”

This once again proves true P.J. O’Rourke’s famous quote, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” Remember, my friends, this is only for a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.  Can you begin to imagine what a full-service health care system for everyone would begin to cost?  Can you begin to comprehend the tax increases?  In a few years we’d have one of the highest tax rates in the world.  We’d be just like Sweden, minus the bestiality.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 04:20 PM in Health Care  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

A New Job for David
by Lee

Something I’ve been saying for ages is that George Tenet needs to be replaced as head of CIA.  I also think that we need huge investigations into the intelligence failures leading up to Iraq.  Writing in National Review, Frank Gaffney suggests solving both problems at once.

David Kay has returned from Iraq, having failed to locate the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) he was sent there to find. President George W. Bush’s would-be successors and other critics have seized upon his conclusion that — notwithstanding U.S. and foreign-intelligence assessments to the contrary — they ceased to exist in large quantity after 1991 to justify charges of presidential malfeasance.

President Bush could be forgiven for feeling annoyed with Dr. Kay. A heated reelection campaign is not exactly the moment any candidate would chose have new turmoil engendered over one of his most controversial decisions.

The president should, instead, feel grateful to the erstwhile head of the Iraq Survey Group, both for his past, courageous public service and for his present candor. And there is no better, or more appropriate, way to express his appreciation than to ask him to replace George Tenet as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI).

David Kay has, after all, demonstrated once again the qualities of intellect, integrity, and independence that are always desirable in leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, but rarely more necessary than right now. Although he has expressed a view about the status of Saddam’s missing weapons programs that is debatable — and may ultimately be proven wrong — the former weapons inspector has certainly said many things that have long needed saying.

I think this is a brilliant idea.  I’ve thought since 9/11 that Giuliani would have made a great DCI, but right now there is nobody in the world who would make a better, more credible DCI than David Kay.  I sincerely hope that this suggestion makes it to the president, and that he acts on it.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 04:11 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Swedish Animal Bikini Team
by Lee

They’re for socialism, hate Americans, and love animals.  They’re the Swedes!

Animal sex is not illegal in Sweden, and every year between 200 and 300 pets are injured because of sexual assaults.

The estimate was presented by Svenska Veterinärforbundet, the Swedish veterinary organization, and it is now trying to make the authorities and the public more aware of animals’ suffering. The organization claim the problem has increased during the last couple of years, even if most people are unaware of it.

“We have seen an increase since 1999 when child pornography became illegal,” said Johan Beck-Friis. “It appears, in other words, as there are some people who have replaced children with animals. In both circumstances, it is sex with defenceless individuals.”

The injuries inflicted on animals after sexual assaults are of the same character of those children get. Beck-Friis said that the most common injuries are wounds on the sex organs and blisters.

The fact that animal sex is becoming an increasing problem can be indicated by the mere fact that there is an increasing selection of animal porn at video rentals and there an increasingly number of websites with animal pornography is surfacing.

No one knows for sure how many animals that are abused, but a British study from 2001 indicates that every 20th dog or cat that receives treatment at veterinaries, the injuries are not a result of a direct accident, but the animal has been inflicted the injury as a result of a sexual assault.

Swedish anti-war activist Dag Olaffson was overheard remarking, “Americans are brutal fascist regime.  They kill all brown people for the oil!  Bush is Hitler!  Now, I’m going home to have sex with my cat.”

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 02:15 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Go Al, Go!
by Lee

Techno/electronica king and notorious left-wing asshat Moby has chimed in on the upcoming election.

ok, so in the interest of further alienating my fans, etc, i have to express my true thoughts regarding the next election…
and that is that al sharpton is the democratic candidate who would, in many ways, be the best nominee....
have you heard him speak?
he’s bright and personable and aware and informed and all of the things that we want all of the other candidates to be.
when al sharpton speaks you feel as if you’re listening to a human being and not a political robot.
the other candidates, dean, clark, & kerry are all good men who are principled and qualified.
but if any of them want to actually win they should hire al sharpton to teach them how to be quick and genuine and honest and personable.
if al sharpton actually had a chance i would support him in a heartbeat.
maybe in 2008 or 2012…
here’s hoping…
if you doubt me, just listen to him speak.
i will support whoever gets the nomination, but damn if al sharpton isn’t the most compelling of all of the candidates.
moby

What do you know, Moby has something in common with just about every conservative in America.  We all want to see Al Sharpton get the Democrat nomination, too!

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 02:00 PM in Election 2004  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Weapons and Lies
by Lee

More on David Kay.

‘’We were all wrong’’ — Iraq had no remaining arsenals of germ-warfare weapons, no poison gas or a nuclear-weapons program, the White House’s former chief weapons sleuth said yesterday, a stunning indictment of U.S. and Western intelligence agencies that undermines President George W. Bush’s original justification for ousting Saddam Hussein.

David Kay’s calm but candid and sweeping repudiation before the U.S. Senate’s armed-services committee will also fuel the political firestorm over whether Mr. Bush misled Americans and the rest of the world when he launched a pre-emptive attack against Iraq last spring. The White House’s core claim at the time was that Mr. Hussein, armed with weapons of mass destruction, posed a real and imminent threat to the United States.

“It turns out we were all wrong,” said Mr. Kay, a former United Nations weapons inspector and top Central Intelligence Agency adviser who led the postwar Iraq Survey Group’s search for banned weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Kay, who included himself among those who were incorrect, quit last week after uncovering no stockpiles and finding that the Pentagon was shifting resources from his group.

In effect, Mr. Kay’s testimony lends credence to Iraq’s insistence before the UN last year that it no longer had stocks of germ-warfare weapons, poison gas or an active nuclear-weapons program.

Mr. Kay laid the blame on deeply flawed intelligence gathering, not only by the CIA but also by France, Germany and others who agreed with the assessment that Baghdad had failed to destroy its stocks of banned weapons and might still be producing them. [Emphasis added]

Now, look at the highlighted section and compare it to the rest of the quoted text.  It doesn’t make any sense.  If anything this proves that Bush didn’t lie to anyone.  Assume for a second that the intelligence reports of every western country did not all state that Saddam had these weapons, and that Bush knew Iraq did not.  Why, in the name of God, would Bush then choose WMD as the centerpiece to justify his invasion, knowing that subsequently none of the weapons would be found?  It simply doesn’t make any sense at all.  If you want to believe that Bush knowingly lied you have to actually buy the argument that he got up in front of the world and said something he knew was patently untrue, knowing the whole time that he was going to find himself in the situation he’s in now.

“Bush lied, people died.” Asinine.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 11:33 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Bush Recession
by Lee

You know that recession that was caused by Bush and his horrible economic policies?  Well, it looks like Bush is such an incompetent president he caused the recession to start two months before he took office.

The committee of economists that sets the dates of U.S. recessions and expansions is considering moving the starting point of the latest recession to as early as November 2000—which could provide some political cover for President Bush.

The business cycle dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private research group, will soon decide whether or not to change the starting date of the latest recession from March 2001, its current estimated starting month, NBER spokeswoman Donna Zerwitz told CNN/Money.

The story was initially reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, though Zerwitz said NBER economists had been discussing the changes since a meeting early in January.

“The committee is waiting for more data at this point in time, and there might be changes to the historical dates of other recessions,” Zerwitz said, noting the committee has set dates for every U.S. recession and expansion since 1854.

She added that, while the revision could be as dramatic as moving the starting date of the recession all the way back to November 2000, it could also be less drastic—moving the date back to February 2001, when payrolls outside the farm sector peaked, for example, according to Labor Department measures.

Any date before January 2001 would be good news for Bush, who took office that month and is seeking re-election this year, as he could argue the recession began during the administration of his predecessor, President Clinton.

But… but… but… Bush=Hitler!  We all know he intentionally destroyed the economy so that he could get his massive tax cut program passed to benefit his wealthy contributors!  I mean, he’s Hitler!

(Link via Sipidation.)

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 11:31 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

I Wonder…
by Lee

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, and I don’t really see the Bush administration as being all that Machiavellian, but I wonder if this isn’t part of a larger plan.

The former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq said yesterday that there should be an independent investigation into the flawed intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons capability, fueling a partisan feud over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the former inspector, David Kay, said it is “important to acknowledge failure.” Responding to questions from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), he said: “I must say, my personal view, and it’s purely personal, is that in this case you will finally determine that it is going to take an outside inquiry, both to do it and to give yourself and the American people the confidence that you have done it.”

The administration has been completely silent about the monumental intelligence failure.  Perhaps they’ve been waiting for Kay to get the ball rolling, so to speak?  This way Bush can call for an investigation without looking like he’s instigating it.

Posted by Lee on 01/29/04 at 12:19 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Economics in Action, Part II
by Lee

I’d now like to post a follow-up to this post from a couple of days ago.  It seems that a couple of state senators in Colorado are doing their bit to keep jobs in America.

Companies that send jobs overseas could kiss their state contracts goodbye if two Colorado lawmakers have their way.

Democratic state Sens. Deanna Hanna of Lakewood and Terry Phillips of Louisville said too many companies are moving jobs out of state or overseas, hurting the state economy.

Hanna said she was shocked when workers for EDS, a Texas-based company that has a contract for computers for the state human services programs, recently told lawmakers it was sending technical support jobs to workers in India and Pakistan.

Hanna said her measure (Senate Bill 170) would require companies to keep workers assigned to state contracts in the United States.

“I know profits are important to companies, but we in Colorado need to do all we can to make sure people have jobs,” Hanna said.

I understand the sentiment here.  I don’t necessarily like seeing these jobs go overseas, but this just flies in the face of any sort of coherent economic understanding.

Company X wants to move jobs to Pakistan to reduce costs, increase profits, and remain competitive.  Colorado law says that companies who do so are not eligible for state contracts in Colorado.  Company X can either send the jobs to Pakistan and lose the Colorado contracts, or vice versa.  If they keep the jobs in America their competitors will have an advantage, especially international competitors.  If they send the jobs to Pakistan and decide to take a loss on Colorado business, the company will probably have to lay off workers as a result.  Since the costs of production are being artificially maintained through legislation these costs will be passed on to consumers.  The higher costs will result in less business for the company, resulting in decreased hiring or even layoffs.  Business consumers, who buy Company X’s products, will pass the increased costs on to their consumers, and so on.  In short, this legislation to save American jobs will most likely end up costing more jobs than it saves.

Take the typewriter industry for example.  In the 1970’s typewriters were big business.  Then computers came on to the scene.  If we had enacted legislation to save typerwriter manufacturing jobs it would have stunted the growth of the computer industry.  The computer industry has created millions of jobs and created hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars in wealth.  Would America, or the world, be better off with a stunted computer industry, all in the name of “protecting” American typewriter jobs?

Let the free market do its magic.  Everything will work out in the end.

Posted by Lee on 01/28/04 at 07:30 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Ceasar = Hitler
by Lee

A few weeks ago Michael Moore published a message called Letters the Troops Have Sent Me.  My contention was (and is) that the vast majority of mail he received was of, shall we say, the opposite opinion to the select few that he published.  At any rate, I thought that this story puts a little historical context to Mikey’s assertions.

Nearly 2000 years ago a young Roman soldier wrote home, asking his father’s permission to marry his girlfriend.

In another letter, he asks for boots and socks to keep his feet warm during a cold winter. And he tells how he must violently put down those who revolt and riot in Alexandria.

All this - and more - about life for Tiberianus, who lived in Roman Egypt, is being advanced through the work of a Princeton High School graduate now attending the University of Michigan.

Last fall, Robert Stephan (Class of 2001) found some papyri - ancient writings on papyrus, made from the reed plant - stored but forgotten in the university’s vault. The papyri had been collected during UM excavations at Karanius, southwest of Egypt’s Nile River delta, in the 1920s and ‘30s.

Amazing, isn’t it, how little has changed in 2,000 years?  I remember an HBO documentary a year or two back which published letters from the front lines of WWII.  They were all remakably similar to this one:  questions about family, complaints about the day-to-day life on the front, requests for items, that sort of thing.  This is what soldiers like to communicate when they write their families.  When you’re separated and alone, even the mundane aspects of humdrum family life become precious memories, and letters are a way to connect to that which you are separated from.  Duty, reality, and honor are the hallmarks of a soldier’s life, whether it was a revolt in Alexandria or the deposing of the Hussein regime in Iraq. 

The letters Mike received, provided he didn’t invent them or edit them completely out of context, are the exception, not the rule.

Posted by Lee on 01/28/04 at 05:21 PM in Michael Mooron  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Edwards Rules It Out
by Lee

Edwards has said no dice to the veep slot.

Presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday rejected any notion of sharing the Democratic ticket with front-running rival John Kerry—unless he is at the top.

Asked on NBC’s “Today” show if he would accept second place on the Democratic slate to face President Bush in the fall election, Edwards said: “I think you’ve got the order reversed. I intend to be the nominee.”

Edwards said he would not be willing to be No. 2. “No, no. Final. I don’t want to be vice president. I’m running for president,” he said.

I still think that Clark has been positioning himself all along for a VP slot.  Don’t get me wrong, he’d take the nomination if he got it, but I think he’s been gunning for the #2 slot the whole time.

Posted by Lee on 01/28/04 at 03:56 PM in Election 2004  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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