My DD214

Veterans should be a thing of the past.

Moussaoui Escapes Death Penalty

Somewhat breaking news: Jury Decides Against Execution for Moussaoui.

The lead from the Times piece:

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 3 — A federal court jury spared the life of Zacarias Moussaoui today, voting to send him to prison for the rest of his days rather than condemn him to death for the carnage of Sept. 11, 2001. The jury of nine men and three women deliberated seven days before telling District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema this afternoon that it had decided not to impose the death sentence on the only person to stand trial in the United States for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

I, for one, am relieved. I know that of all three of us liberal wussies here on this blog, I'm the liberal wussiest, but this actually fills me with some hope.

I remember being a child, and telling my mother about a fight that I had been in on the playground. With all of her motherly authority she told me that if someone hurts you, stooping to their level and retaliating in kind only sullies you both. This jury (at least in part, as the death penalty would have required unanimity) has chosen to turn the other cheek, and I thank them for that.

Moussaoui yelled, "America, you lost!" as he was escorted out of the courtroom when the verdict was announced. But he's wrong. Zacarias Moussaoui will lose, and America will win, when we forgive him. I hope that that idea occurs to him someday; he'll have plenty of time in prison to figure it out.

3 May, 2006 7:36 PM Posted by | News | 1 Comment

My DD214: The straw that stirs the drink

As if you needed any more proof that all of the great minds of the world are reading our fair blog, mere hours after our mention of Stephen Colbert's performance at the WH Correspondents' Dinner, the New York Times reacts with this front page headline:

After Press Dinner, the Blogosphere Is Alive With the Sound of Colbert Chatter.

Just wait until one of us weighs in on Iran and see how fast the wheels of public opinion start turning.

3 May, 2006 12:06 AM Posted by | News | Leave a comment

When the going gets tough..

Confronted with the President’s lowest ever approval ratings, the White House has turned to adorable bomb-sniffing dogs to turn the tide of the public opinion war.

13 March, 2006 9:29 PM Posted by | Linkage, News, Politics and other hazardous materials | Leave a comment

Dubya’s funny story

The Bush administration, needing something to pull their lagging poll numbers out of the toilet and desperate to salvage their illegal surveillance program, came out with the details of an alleged terrorist plot to fly a plane into a the skyscraper in Los Angeles. Although aesthetically, LA’s skyline would be way better off without it the ugly thing, the White House and their dehumanizing anti-terrorist policies finally have a real averted tragedy that they can point to as a success.

There’s two things that bug me about this story. First of all, nothing that Bush or Press Secretary Scott McClellan said today shows any link between the NSA domestic spying program and this thwarted terror plot. Not one connection. Much like he did in the State of the Union speech, Bush is throwing out marginally related stuff, hoping some of it will stick in the minds of Americans who aren’t really paying attention. We’re still waiting to hear one single success story from this legally and ethically dubious program.

Secondly, we have a matter of practicality. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I wonder if the White House (taking cues from James Frey) hasn’t embellished this story a little bit. The White House says that terrorists planned to use shoe bombs à la Richard Reid. That doesn’t strike me as remotely plausible. I’m no physicist, but it seems to me that an explosive shoe used to breach a cockpit door would likely also breach the fuselage, depressurizing the cabin and killing everybody. Terrorists would never have the opportunity to fly the crippled plane into an ugly building in LA.

The saddest part is that my opinion of this administration’s capacity for lying is so high that I’m even willing to consider tinfoil-hattery of this magnitude.

9 February, 2006 8:34 PM Posted by | News, Politics and other hazardous materials | Leave a comment

State of the Union Liveblog

9:13pm – Woke up late from my nap. Dubya’s already talking about the economy. Good thing I’m not a journalist.

9:15pm – Dubya says eliminating terrorism is not idealistic nonsense. And that democracies respect their neighbors. Does that include by not invading them?

9:17pm – Dubya calls Iran out on the carpet again. Ooh, now he calls radical Islam “the perversion of a noble faith”. Al-Qaeda “wants to establish a totalitarian regime in the Middle East”. Seems to me that our allies the Saudis have got that covered.

9:19pm – Number of times he’s said “freedom” so far: 4

9:20pm – “We will never surrender to evil.” Followed by standing ovation. That’s just digging for applause isn’t it? Who the hell is gonna stay sitting down and look disapproving after “We will never surrender to evil”?

9:20pm – Iraqi forces are “increasingly more capable of defeating the enemy every day”.

9:23pm – Laundry list of “victories” in Iraq. You gotta be kidding me. The Bush administration is still the only group of people on Earth that doesn’t think the situation in Iraq is a huge goatrope. I thought Bush was out of the bubble now.

9:24pm – Ooh! “Hindsight is not wisdom and second-guessing is not strategy”. Nasty.

9:26pm – Here comes the personal story from a Marine on the ground. Straight of the Clinton playbook this is. Bush reads a letter from a jarhead who says “I died so you didn’t have to.” The real tragedy of this is that the poor guy probably believed that sentiment, that somehow the war in Iraq prevented American deaths.

9:28pm – “The United States of America supports democratic reform across the Middle East.” Unless you vote for Hamas. Oh, or unless you’re the Saudi people. You don’t get to vote.

9:30pm – He’s reading my mind. Hamas must disarm, and don’t worry, Saudi Arabia is “taking steps.” A-ha.

9:31pm – “Nuke-u-lar”. Still. After five years. Nobody takes him aside and says, “Mr. President, you sound like an eight-year-old-kid.”

9:32pm – What the hell? Dubya starts addressing the Iranian people, then non-sequiturs into “America cares about African babies with AIDS”. I think he skipped a page.

9:33pm – A vague imperative to Congress that it must not short-change international humanitarian aid. I didn’t even know this was an issue. Bush is all over the place; now we’re going to the PATRIOT Act.

9:34pm – Huh. Bush says that two of the 9/11 hijackers placed calls from the US to Al-Qaeda overseas, and he invokes this to defend his domestic spying program. Interesting, as he always says that the NSA spying program involves only calls originating overseas and coming into the United States.

9:36pm – Bush says that there is essentially no alternative to US global leadership. Scary.

9:37pm – “Freedom” count so far: 10
“Victory” count so far: 4

9:39pm – A long-winded intro leading up to another defense of tax cuts. ‘If Congress lets the tax cuts expire, American families will wake up to unwelcome tax increases.’ Huh? American families in Malibu, apparently.

9:40pm – Bush alludes to the stratospheric increase in “discretionary spending”. Yeah, that’s the two simultaneous wars we’re fighting. Now he asks for the line-item veto. I’ve never heard Bush bring this up, but it’s well in keeping with his tendency to want to muck the balance of powers.

9:43pm – Name drops Bill and alludes to how tight he and Bush Sr. have gotten. Amusing.

9:43pm – Ironic cheering by Democrats when Bush mentions how his Social Security reform didn’t get passed. Holy cow, Congress is turning into Parliament.

9:45pm – “With a level playing field and an open market, no one can out-produce the American worker.” Da, comrade!

9:46pm – Did I just hear that right? “Keeping America competitive requires federal healthcare.” What? Don’t tease me, Dubya.

9:47pm – It was a tease. He meant for the poor and elderly. We get “health savings accounts”. And now we move on to tort reform. (sigh)

9:48pm – Here’s the much-touted “America is addicted to oil” line. No one told Bush that it was important, because he cruised right through it. Apparently, we’re going to invest in coal and “nuke-u-lar” energy. What about cars?

9:49pm – Hydrogen cars, and ethanol “not just from corn”, but from “swish grass”. Don’t get all technical on me now, Dubya.

9:50pm – We’ll eliminate oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. Whoa, where’s the fire! Twenty years, huh.

9:51pm – A new domestic initiative (the “American Competitiveness Initiative”) to increase math and science education for American children. I will bet you ANYTHING that this will include a hidden provision for intelligent design. Mark my words. Look at the datestamp at the top of the post.

9:53pm – “In recent years America has become a more hopeful nation.” This assertion is backed up by stats about reduced crime and abortions. Take note, abortions and hopefulness have an inverse relationship, apparently. That reminds me of the inversely proportional relationship between the number of pirates and the average global temperature that is one of the pillars of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

9:55pm – Parents are “concerned about unethical conduct in public officials” and “activist judges who seek to redefine marriage”. Bush says that we cannot believe that American culture is unravelling. Isn’t this supposed to be the End Times?

9:56pm – More Republican talking points about judges “not legislating from the bench”. The right loves that idea. I wonder if the Democratic rebuttal will address legislating from the Oval Office?

9:57pm – Another surprise: Bush calls for cloning to be banned, and cites it as ‘devaluing a gift from the Creator’. Interesting that the strategy here is to couch it in similar terms as the movement against same-sex marriage.

10:00pm – Some very vague talking around the Hurricane Katrina debacle.

10:01pm – Bush calls for using faith-based groups to administer AIDS tests. Shouldn’t Planned Parenthood do that?

10:02pm – Here comes the conclusion. “The destination of history is chosen by human action.” Name drops Lincoln and Martin Luther King, and America’s intervention in World War II. “Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage.” Pretty. But pretty irrelevant.

Final counts
“Freedom”: said at least 10 times
“Victory”: said at least 7 times

Analysis
Yamn. I’ve heard this all before. We’ve gone from the “Axis of Evil” president to one whose harshest words are reserved for his Democratic critics. No domestic stuff worth hearing really. The “ending American dependence on Mideast oil” bit was absolutely underwhelming. We’re not going to have ethanol cars in twenty years and Bush knows it. His petro-business friends were all high-fiving each other after that section.

I’m also not impressed with the defense of the NSA domestic spying program. Not at all. The example he gave would not have been covered by the supposed limits of the program. Go fig. More thoughts tomorrow.

31 January, 2006 9:16 PM Posted by | News, Politics and other hazardous materials | 3 Comments

A vegetable oil-powered Hummer in every garage

According to this CNN article, President Bush is going to call for less American reliance on petroleum in his State of the Union tonight. My ass. He’ll say it, but White House and Congressional GOP policy will say otherwise. This isn’t the first time that this administration has said talked a bunch of garbage that its legislatin’ hand just can back up.

I think I’ll live-blog the State of the Union address at 7, more for my entertainment than anything else. I’m also kind of embarrassed to admit, Clay, that I thought “knackered” meant “drunk”, but apparently it means “tired”. I’ve always been kind of a half-assed anglophile anyway.

31 January, 2006 5:47 PM Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Google bends over for China

Google has agreed to censor search results for users in China, and thus joining MSN and Yahoo who already sold out last year.

In other news, money continues to talk, I guess. Google are the good guys of big business, but they’re still big business.

Encouragingly, I found the story on Google News. There’s two ways to look at that: a) the Google News bots automatically throw Google-related stories up on the front page, regardless of content or, b) Google News reports everything, regardless of how deleterious the content may be to Google’s public image.

24 January, 2006 8:25 PM Posted by | News | Leave a comment

From the “What-Was-Your-First-Clue” Department

In today’s New York Times:

MANHATTAN: MUSIC EXECUTIVE CONVICTED The chief executive of a reggae music production company has been convicted of smuggling more than a ton of marijuana a week from California to New York over the past eight years, federal prosecutors said. The executive, Horatio Hamilton, president of Lords of Yard Inc., was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in marijuana, Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney, said yesterday in a written statement. Mr. Garcia said Mr. Hamilton jumped bail after he was arrested in 1999 with nearly two tons of marijuana in Los Angeles. He later became a prominent music producer and creator of Sashi, a three-day reggae concert in Jamaica. Mr. Hamilton, who was rearrested last year, faces a mandatory sentence of 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors said. (NYT)

18 January, 2006 6:59 PM Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Marines could have been saved by better body armor

Here’s something to piss you off first thing in the morning: the Times is reporting that a Pentagon study shows that 80% of Marines killed in Iraq could have been saved by improved ceramic body armor that has been available since 2003.

Awesome. Remember what Rummy would say back when he still did press conferences about Iraq? “You fight with the army you have, not with the army you want.” Easy for his draft-dodging ass to say. That remark gets even more sinister in the light of that report.

7 January, 2006 10:36 AM Posted by | News, Politics and other hazardous materials | 1 Comment

American hypocrisy is a comedy goldmine

Best headline of the day so far: “US demands Iraq protect prisoners“, courtesy of the Beeb. That’s hilarious. It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer asking you to use a napkin because you’re grossing him out.

26 December, 2005 9:44 AM Posted by | News | 2 Comments