May 292007

In a press conference last week, Preznit Bush answered a question from David Gregory:

Q Mr. President, after the mistakes that have been made in this war, when you do as you did yesterday, where you raised two-year-old intelligence, talking about the threat posed by al Qaeda, it’s met with increasing skepticism. The majority in the public, a growing number of Republicans, appear not to trust you any longer to be able to carry out this policy successfully. Can you explain why you believe you’re still a credible messenger on the war?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m credible because I read the intelligence, David, and make it abundantly clear in plain terms that if we let up, we’ll be attacked. And I firmly believe that.

Look, this has been a long, difficult experience for the American people. I can assure you al Qaeda, who would like to attack us again, have got plenty of patience and persistence. And the question is, will we?

Yes, I talked about intelligence yesterday. I wanted to make sure the intelligence I laid out was credible, so we took our time. Somebody said, well, he’s trying to politicize the thing. If I was trying to politicize it, I’d have dropped it out before the 2006 elections. I believe I have an obligation to tell the truth to the American people as to the nature of the enemy. And it’s unpleasant for some. I fully recognize that after 9/11, in the calm here at home, relatively speaking, caused some to say, well, maybe we’re not at war. I know that’s a comfortable position to be in, but that’s not the truth.

Failure in Iraq will cause generations to suffer, in my judgment. Al Qaeda will be emboldened. They will say, yes, once again, we’ve driven the great soft America out of a part of the region. It will cause them to be able to recruit more. It will give them safe haven. They are a direct threat to the United States.

And I’m going to keep talking about it. That’s my job as the President, is to tell people the threats we face and what we’re doing about it. And what we’ve done about it is we’ve strengthened our homeland defenses, we’ve got new techniques that we use that enable us to better determine their motives and their plans and plots. We’re working with nations around the world to deal with these radicals and extremists. But they’re dangerous, and I can’t put it any more plainly they’re dangerous. And I can’t put it any more plainly to the American people and to them, we will stay on the offense.

It’s better to fight them there than here. And this concept about, well, maybe let’s just kind of just leave them alone and maybe they’ll be all right is naive. These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they’ve been attacking ever since. They are a threat to your children, David, and whoever is in that Oval Office better understand it and take measures necessary to protect the American people.

Oh, where to start? First of all, yes, Al Qaeda is a threat to the U.S. . It is inevitable that someone claiming affiliation with them (whether it’s true or not) will succeed in pulling off another attack on U.S. soil and it doesn’t matter who’s the President when it happens. It’ll happen anyway. Whether or not I blame an administration for it kind of depends on the circumstances and magnitude of the attack and if I believe that we reasonably did all that we could to prevent it.

However, the argument that we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here is a load of horseshit. On top of that, nobody is advocating that we leave Al Qaeda or any other terrorists who intend to attack us alone. To insinuate that anyone is advocating that is offensive, petty and wrong. The majority of the violence is sectarian violence that we unleashed by attacking a country that didn’t have any credible ties to Al Qaeda.

Here’s a few good links from over the weekend:

I’m currently reading The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the 2007 NonFiction Pulitzer Prize winner from Austin-based author, Lawrence Wright. It’s reinforced for me even more that giving up the moral high ground with incidents like Abu Ghraib, Jose Padilla, etc. is one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made over the last 7 years. We’ve given Bin Laden way more power than he ever actually had and it’s the fear mongering of the Bush administration and it’s propaganda machine, Fox News, that’s to blame.

 Posted by on May 29, 2007 at 3:09 pm
Apr 122007

The Internets are full of acknowledgments of the death of Kurt Vonnegut who died last night from complications of a fall he recently took. He did seem a bit frail and out of it the last time he was on The Daily Show to promote his last publication, a collection of essays called A Man Without A Country. I first read Vonnegut in either 1992 or 1993. Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five and Welcome to the Monkey House were among my favorites. His writing is amazing. I never did get to hear him speak in person. It sounds like I should check out God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Anybody have any other recommendations besides the ones that I’ve mentioned?

I have one interesting story related to Vonnegut. When I was living in Manhattan, there was a bookstore at the corner of Stuyvesant and Third Avenue, if I remember correctly. I can’t recall the name. Anyway, I was in there one afternoon buying something and I heard the clerk talking to a guy at the front of the checkout line about Vonnegut. I looked up and there was Woody Harrelson with a handful of Vonnegut books. It was clear he had decided to check out Vonnegut for the first time and was grabbing several of his books to read. I recommended Breakfast of Champions. I think Harrelson was in town to film Money Train at the time.

Not to imply that Rollins is on Vonnegut’s level, but tomorrow night is the beginning of the second season of The Henry Rollins Show on IFC at 10pm CDT. I really enjoyed the first season. He gets a good mix of guests for the interview portion and the musical performance. He kicks off with Marilyn Manson as his interview guest and Peaches, who interviewed last season, as his musical guest.

[tags]kurtvonnegut, death, woodyharrelson, henryrollins, ifc[/tags]

 Posted by on April 12, 2007 at 9:55 am
Feb 092007

WTF? I’ve seen four stories in the last 24 hours from different parts of the country where parents have left their kids in the cold and they’ve either died or nearly died.

  1. A father in Pittsburgh who abused his daughter and then left her outside in the snow. She died.
  2. A mother in Newark is charged with child endangerment for, among other things, making her 10 year old son stand outside in the cold, naked.
  3. A father in Minnesota left his 4 year old child in the car while he gambled in a casino. The child nearly died of hypothermia.
  4. A mother in Wisconsin left her two kids in the car while she went to a tanning salon.

Parent of the year awards for all of them. Nice job, morons.
[tags]cold, kids, abuse, parents[/tags]

 Posted by on February 9, 2007 at 2:12 pm
Feb 092007

After years of not much news from the West Memphis 3 case, there’s an update this week that the results of the DNA testing are coming back and one of Damien Echols’ defense attorneys sounds optimistic. I really hope they’re able to get a new trial.

Mara Leveritt, who wrote Devil’s Knot, a book about the case (and who I had the good fortune to meet at a signing in Chicago in August of 2005), was also interviewed by KARK and is updating news on her site.

P.S. The links to the KARK story are screwed up. It looks like they moved to a new domain name and didn’t bother to redirect properly. I contacted the WM3 site to let them know. The correct links are here (story and video).

[tags]wm3, westmemphisthree, westmemphis3, damienechols, dna, law, crime[/tags]

 Posted by on February 9, 2007 at 12:05 pm
Nov 212006
  1. A WSJ editorial from Virginia senator-elect Jim Webb who defeated racist incumbent George “Macaca” Allen. I have no illusions that any of the democrats are going to make it better for the vast majority of the working and middle class, but it can’t be any worse. The fact that this senate race was as close as it was is a sad commentary on the state of things.
  2. Keith Olbermann with a commentary on Bush in Vietnam and his answer to the question of whether or not lessons from Vietnam could be applied to the current situation in Iraq. He’s a bit overly dramatic, but he makes some really good points. I’m glad someone’s doing it.
  3. An excerpt from reporter Patrick Cockburn’s book, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso, 2006) on Nevada Thunder, an excellent repository for articles pointing out the myriad of problems with the current administration’s policies.
  4. And Texas proposes a clue but continues to show incredible stupidity thanks to Governor Goodhair and The Hammer.
 Posted by on November 21, 2006 at 3:19 pm
Nov 012006

There’re quite a few posts on security screening and its shortcomings over the past week or so, which prompted me to do a little round-up:
Bruce Schneier and Xeni at BoingBoing have posts about the poor performance of security screeners at Newark airport. My relatives just went through that airport on their way back from here. The also had stories of a run-in with an overly zealous screener in Midland.

Then there’s another BoingBoing article about a mouthbreathing screener in New Zealand who wouldn’t allow a passenger to bring on his clearly marked insulin, causing the passenger to go into DKA and require hospitalization.

These reminded me of a Scott Adams post about dangerous containers. And if you haven’t already heard about it, check out his post about how he cured himself of Spasmodic Dysphonia. You should read Scott’s blog because he’s a political genius and because this last run of Dilbert strips was hilarious.

And don’t forget your Kip Hawley Is An Idiot baggie when you’re on your way through screening so you can test the War on Free Speech as well.

P.S. I totally forgot the part where I make this all about me…because everyone knows that’s all that matters. The most important casualty in the War on Moisture is that I can no longer get relatives (mainly my sister) to smuggle bottles of Stone Pale Ale, Ruination or other special flavors that I can’t get deep in the heart of Texas in carry-on luggage when they happen to be in more enlightened parts of the country. Damn you, Greg Koch! Distribute all of your highly addictive products in Austin! Stat!

 Posted by on November 1, 2006 at 10:48 am
Oct 232006

It’s a good thing Crooks and Liars posts segments from Bill Maher’s show so I can enjoy them without forking over the dough to HBO since I probably wouldn’t watch much else. I opted to wait for the last season of The Sopranos to come out on DVD instead of paying the extra monthly fee.

Check out the last two clips:

Maher on Neocons.

Maher on Bush, Bolton, Foley, Hastert, Republicans, Democrats, and… maybe, you.

[tags]crooksandliars, realtimewithbillmaher, billmaher, newrule, hbo, commentary[/tags]

 Posted by on October 23, 2006 at 11:05 am
Oct 172006

My parents and my father’s two brothers were in town for a visit this past weekend. I was putting the kids to bed last night and came back downstairs to find my sister and father watching the last 10 minutes of the No Reservations episode with Tony Bourdain in Beirut during the Israeli bombardment this past summer. We’d watched a saved episode of No Reservations earlier in the day and it seemed that dad liked that particular episode and took a liking to Bourdain. Dad’s become more and more conservative in the last 10 years and commented at the end of the Beirut episode, “a liberal saved by the marines” or something to that effect.

My immediate thought was something along the lines of being able to disagree with the policies that put him in that situation, but being supportive and appreciative of the marines themselves. Instead, I said nothing. Since he doesn’t do “the Internets”, I intend to bring this back up over the phone the next time I talk to him.

Along similar lines, The Rude One graces us with his take on the situation in Iraq and the Lancet study released last week (something I’d love to get Andy read in depth and provide his take on the methodology even though he’s not particularly versed in mortality projections).

[tags]anthonybourdain, noreservations, beirut, foreignpolicy, iraq, rudepundit, lancet[/tags]

 Posted by on October 17, 2006 at 2:49 pm
Oct 032006

Glenn Greenwald on the still unfolding Mark Foley scandal:

The Big Revelation has not yet occurred. That is going to be the first confirmed report of Foley’s having actual, in-person sex with one of the pages. At this point, there is no doubt that he did so. He wasn’t inviting them over to his apartment to drink alcohol in order to watch television with them. Still, that hasn’t been reported yet. We’ve been building up to it incrementally and Brian Ross is, I have no doubt, scouring his inbox at this moment for the lead that will take him there.

These endless, incremental disclosures are much more painful for the Republicans — not unlike Chinese Water Torture (which, coincidentally enough, is a technique that the President now has the power to use, thanks in part to legislation approved last week by Denny Hastert, John Boehner, Tom Reynolds and Mark Foley).

[tags]markfoley, glenngreenwald, scandal, torture[/tags]

 Posted by on October 3, 2006 at 1:22 pm