horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Shoot first Cheney may be in more trouble

White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak
The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.

Cheney was not under oath when he was interviewed. He told investigators how the White House came to rely on Niger documents that purportedly showed that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country.

Not a lawyer, so I don't know how it will play out legal wise, but it isn't going to do much for the Whitehouse politically, especially in light of the ports deal. People seem to be finally catching on these folks can't be trusted.

Bad day for Bush at the National Review

via Middle-Earth Journal, Bad day for Bush at the National Review
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

Its kind of odd that for years whenever anyone accused Democrats if being elitest I always thought of Bill Buckley. Since Bill has apparently learned a little humility I guess I'll have to use a mental image for elitest hypocrite of someone like Bill O'Reilly or Dick Cheney or maybe an arena filled with Republicans.

A Jurassic Beaver, which an admittedly juvenile part of my brain finds amusing.

Jurassic beaver swims into view and here

As a Jurassic predator, it was hardly in the big league. But compared with the shrew-like stature of the earliest mammals, it was a fearsome giant.

Meet the Jurassic ‘beaver’ from China. Living 164 million years ago, it’s the oldest known furry member of the mammal family, and the first known to master swimming.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Are corporations abusing Voluntary EPA Program, Bushie connections to UAE deal

Companies Given Free Ride on Pollution Violations with Voluntary EPA Program
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that is supposed to give recognition and flexibility to companies that are good environmental citizens may in fact be giving a free pass to some firms that are heavy polluters and even lawbreakers, according to a coalition of environmentalists.

....Eric Schaeffer, former enforcement chief at the EPA and now director of the Environmental Integrity Project, to rally the leaders of 29 environmental organizations -- including Greenpeace, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Friends of the Earth -- to weigh in on the matter. Earlier this month, the groups sent a joint letter to EPA chief Stephen Johnson. [3] In the letter, they point out that 14 program participants appear to have violated one or more federal environmental laws in at least six of the past 12 quarters -- hardly the "continuous environmental improvement" that Performance Track asks of its members.

According to Schaeffer, the main problem with Performance Track is that "Bush officials never imposed an oversight system to evaluate the performance of these supposed industry eco-heroes." He also says the application process for vetting candidates is far from rigorous.

This kind of thing seems to happen at regular intervals, "friends" of the administration get favorable treatment above that accorded by law or ethics. Either that or the administrative personel that are supposed to oversee application of laws/regulations are either cronies or incompetent, or both.

U.S. terror fears, stoked by Bush, now bite him
and here,
It is a strategy that has served him very well in persuading Americans to support the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and warrantless wiretapping, among other policies. Now that same strategy is exploding in his face.

Since I have reservations about this, according to at least a few of the Bush apologists blogs, I must be a racists against Arabs. Never have been much for racism. Racism is counterproductive and I'll I admit that its one of those things in life that is beyond my comprehension. My concern is that if the ports could be operated by an American company even at a slightly higher costs that would be better both in terms of security and American jobs. It doesn't help me see this whole affair in a wholesome light when the Bushies have connections to the UAE, Money and Connections
1) Bush’s family and members of his administration have long-standing business connections with the United Arab Emirates.

2) The UAE is “a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm where President Bush’s father once served as senior adviser and is a who’s who of former high-level government officials. Just last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout firm, invested in an $8 billion Carlyle fund.”

3) Bush’s brother, Neil Bush has reportedly “received funding for his educational software company from the UAE investors.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Things you buy cost more but thats not inflation?

CPI reveals that except for everything going up in price, there is no inflation
"In January, energy prices rose 5%, after falling 2.1% in December. The advance was led by a 5.5% surge in electricity costs, the largest increase on record for that component. Gasoline prices last month rose by 6.4% and natural-gas prices increased 1.7%. Year over year, all energy prices advanced 24.8%.

Food prices were up 0.5% due to sharply higher fruit and vegetable prices. Medical-care prices increased 0.1%. Housing prices, which account for 40% of the index, rose 0.5%. Prices for new vehicles increased 0.6%. Clothing prices increased 0.3%, while education and communication rose 0.4%."

Inflation and a national debt that's being floated by China. No wonder most people don't think America is headed in the right direction.

Something Strange about this article from Opinion Journal: Ports of Politics

Ports of Politics
Some of us are scratching our heads all right, but we're wondering why Mr. Graham and others believe Dubai Ports World has been insufficiently vetted for the task at hand. So far, none of the critics have provided any evidence that the Administration hasn't done its due diligence. The deal has been blessed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multiagency panel that includes representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security.

OpJ is scratching their heads. I read the word "vetted" and what fllowed and to me it gives the impression that there's nothing to worry about, every little bit of screening has been done, all procedures followed. .... Administration Failed To Conduct Legally Required Investigation Before Approving UAE Port Deal
The Dubai World Ports purchase triggers the automatic investigation. First, the company is “controlled” by a foreign government. Second, it’s undeniable that port operations “could affect the national security of the United States.”

Yet, the investigation never happened. Bush administration officials “could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur.”

You can't always count on the truth from OpJ, but you can count on them for providing covering Bush's latest screw-up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quote from Bush on UAE deal

Got this quote from Josh Marshall by Bush on the UAE company deal,
"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto ... they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully. Again, I repeat, if there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn't go forward."

Most folks trusted him on the WMD deal, to handle emergencies like Katrina, we trusted him to manage the budget. If we all go by the Bush record, there is no reason to trust him with anything.

Mysterious Bird of Paradise: Lost and Found

It sounds like a headline from a tabloid, but apparently this is true, Mysterious Bird of Paradise: Lost and Found
The month-long expedition began 25 years ago in the imagination of Conservation International (CI) scientist and vice president Bruce Beehler. At least a dozen others had tried unsuccessfully to reach the virtually untouched and unexplored Foja Mountains of western New Guinea. Beehler hoped to succeed where others had failed and close the case on a near century-old scientific mystery. In December 2005, his plans were realized and the lost bird of paradise was found.

With an international team of 11 scientists, the majority from the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), Beehler conducted the first thorough survey of biological diversity in the Foja Mountains – the largest nearly pristine tropical forest in Asia. There they uncovered a trove of new and "missing" species, among them the mysterious and legendary Berlepsch's Six-wired Bird of Paradise (Parotia berlepschi). On their second day in the forest, the team became the first outside scientists to observe a male bird of paradise, finally putting to rest the mystery of the origin of this species.

Its not an especially attractive bird to be associated with paradise, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I could see rare bird collectors going after the Golden-fronted Bowerbird - Amblyornis flavifrons. Thats not the first thing I think of when scientists find or rediscover a rare species, but collecting rare animals for the underground market is still thriving in some places.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dubai company set to run U.S. ports has ties to administration

Dubai company set to run U.S. ports has ties to administration
WASHINGTON - The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose department heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and who was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"The more you look at this deal, the more the deal is called into question," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who said the deal was rubber-stamped in advance - even before DP World formally agreed to buy London's P&O port company.

The Heretik has more, Entering the Harbor
SOME AMERICANS YEARN FOR A SIMPLER AGE when you knew who your friends were and our enemies certainly knew who we were. Some Americans remember a golden period of who knows when, when the government could be trusted in its decisions, when Americans did jobs only Americans could do. Memory picks out the pretty lights and forgets the darkness in its same path. Here comes our history steaming in to port.

Pilfered Penguin's Parents Have Chick

Pilfered Penguin's Parents Have Chick
The penguins who had their 3-month-old chick stolen just before Christmas have hatched another egg at a zoo in southern England.

Penguins Kyala and Oscar had looked up and down for their missing chick named Toga when he disappeared from the Amazon World Zoo on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast and rewards were posted for his safe return.

But come the New Year, the parents began beak tapping and twig gathering, sure signs of courtship. One stopped coming out of the cave to feed, and a new egg was spotted mid-January. The couple took turns keeping the egg warm and on Valentine's Day their new penguin chick was hatched.

Kyala and Oscar's new chick has yet to be named and its sex was not yet known. The parents will only let the new chick out of their sight for a few minutes, and only if it's in the arms of their keeper, Lisa Simkins.

I saw the chick on TV today, M's Simkins was holding him/her and he or she is a cutey. They said that some thought a collector of rare animals may have taken the other one and if so it may have survived.

Monday, February 20, 2006

If we're exporting democracy at the point of a gun at least Bush could look out for worker's rights

Baghdad Embassy Bonanza
American contractors witnessing the plight of some of these migrants at military camps around Iraq have openly complained that the Asians endure abysmal working conditions, live in cramped housing, eat poor food, and lack satisfactory medical care and safety gear.

Typically, these migrants work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, and earn just dollars a day performing tasks considered unsuitable for US war fighters. They work construction, drive trucks, run laundries, clean latrines, pick up rubbish and operate stores, dining facilities and warehouses. Without them, and the "body shop" contractors that provide such laborers, the US and coalition military camps -- virtually small cities -- would shut down.

It can be a lucrative business, one that has helped trigger explosive growth of al-Absi's company where he acts as both general manager and co-owner.

Less than three years ago FKTC boasted $35 million in assets. Today, the firm has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. contracts in Iraq, pushing the company well past the $1 billion mark. With 7,000 employees in Iraq, the company claims to be holding $800 million in construction and supply contracts directly with the Army for military camps, plus more than $300 million under Halliburton 's multibillion dollar contract to perform military logistics for the occupation forces in Iraq.

It's the kind of success that allows al-Absi to enjoy finely tailored suits with French cuff shirts, send his children to American universities and enjoy the fruits of being a newly-minted millionaire. "I love America," he says freely.

he loves George Bush's Amerika where there's a lot of talk about democracy and human rights, but the talk doesn't live up to the facts on the ground. The right-wing bloggers will never post on a story like this because it would disturb their kool-aid induced delusions that there's no difeerence between Baghdad and Dallas. After Neoconservatism

As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.

and this take from Legal Fiction, Francis Fukuyama-The New Marxusts ?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rice a step behind Al Gore

U.S. urges wary Arabs to threaten to isolate Iran
"I would hope that those states that are worried about this ... are prepared to really say to the Iranians: 'You are going to be isolated from us too if you continue down this road,'" Rice said in an interview with Arab-based media about her planned talks on the trip.

Rice is a step behind Al Gore, who said four days ago,
On Iran, Gore complained of "endemic hyper-corruption" among Tehran's religious and political elite and asked Arabs to take a stand against Iran's nuclear program.

Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes but the United States and other Western countries suspect Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"Is it only for the West to say this is dangerous?" Gore asked. "We should have more people in this region saying this is dangerous."

A thief uses sympathy as emotional blackmail, camera unlost, but not quite found.
I hadn't posted here in a while, because just after the last post, I got a call from an excited park ranger in Hawaii that "a nice Canadian couple reported that they found your camera!" She gave me their name and number, and I eagerly called to reclaim my camera.

"Hello," I said, when I reached the woman who had reported the camera found, "I got your number from the park ranger, it seems you have my camera?"

We discussed the specifics of the camera, the brown pouch it was in, the spare battery and memory card, the yellow rubberband around the camera. It was clear it was my camera, and I was thrilled.

"Well," she said, "we have a bit of a situation. You see, my nine year old son found your camera, and we wanted to show him to do the right thing, so we called, but now he's been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can't bear to take it from him."

I listened, not sure where she was going with this.

"And he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he's now convinced he has bad luck, and finding the camera was good luck, and so we can't tell him that he has to give it up. Also we had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card."

It started to dawn on me that she had no intention of returning the camera.

There's plenty of advice on what they should do in comments at the site

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