:: eyedot ::: images information ideation ::

:: EYE (anatomy), light-sensitive organ of vision in animals.
:: EYE (verb), to look at to look at something or somebody inquisitively.
:: EYE (noun), an ability to recognize and appreciate something; a point of view or way of thinking.

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:: 10.29.2004 ::  

Al Qaqaa, revisited

It's worse than we thought:
The barrels were found inside sealed bunkers, which American soldiers are seen on the videotape cutting through. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency sealed the bunkers where the explosives were kept just before the war began.
It remains unclear how much HMX was at the facility, but what does seem clear is that the U.S. military opened the bunkers at Al-Qaqaa and left them unguarded. Since then, the material has disappeared.
On ABCNews, link c/o Fark.

Fox News has a story about an officer who came forward today to say that:
a team from his 3rd Infantry Division took about 250 tons of munitions and other material from the Al-Qaqaa arms-storage facility soon after Saddam Hussein's regime fell in April 2003.

Explosives were part of the load taken by the team, but Major Austin Pearson was unable to say what percentage they accounted for. The material was then destroyed, he said.
He admitted he was not an explosives expert.
Which really, doesn't do much to answer the ABCNews story. There were a lot of different types of munitions and explosives stored at Al Qaqaa, and this guy has no way of knowing whether they destroyed any HMX at all. Read the article for yourself, there's not much else in there.

:: Deb 1:50 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.28.2004 ::  

Picture time!

This is an incredible sunset I caught from our backyard:

:: Deb 5:16 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Scarecrow or Tin Man?

Pollster Zogby found that voters who were still undecided about the current election picked the Tin Man over the Scarecrow by a margin of 9%. He believes this actually shows a preference for Kerry (brains, no heart) over Bush (heart, no brains). More on that on his website.

Oh, and he'll be on the Daily Show tonight, so I hope he and Jon about this.

:: Deb 4:19 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Go Packers!

Snopes has confirmed a rumor that the last Redskins home game before a presidential election has correctly predicted the outcome of that race - for the past seventeen of them. If the 'Skins lose, the incumbent party gets voted out of office, and if they win, the incumbent party has stayed on for four more years; this has been true since 1936!

So watch that game this Halloween, and keep your fingers crossed.

Thanks to Bill for the link.

:: Deb 10:35 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.27.2004 ::  

Download Fahrenheit 9/11

Go to Marc Perkel's site for several options. Michael Moore has said the following about this movie: "I don't agree with the copyright laws and I don't have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they're not trying to make a profit off my labour." He has stated that he is more interested in sharing his vision than profiting off the film.

:: Deb 3:47 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

58,000 absentee ballots missing in Florida
While some had begun to be delivered, her office had been inundated with calls from anxious voters who still had not received their ballots.

"It's really inexplicable at this point in time and the matter is under investigation by law enforcement," [Broward deputy supervisor of elections Gisela] Salas told Reuters.

"It was basically our first major drop of the absentee ballots," Salas said. She said postal service officials had assured Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes that the ballots had moved out of the post office to which they had been taken by the elections office.

U.S. Postal Service Inspector Del Alvarez, whose federal agency is independent from the U.S. Postal Service, said it had yet to be determined if the ballots reached the post office.

"It's highly unlikely that 58,000 pieces of mail just disappeared," he said. "We're looking for it, we're trying to find it if in fact it was ever delivered to the postal service."
What a mess. YahooNews, c/o Fark.

A side note: Did you know that Gisela Salas was Miami-Dade county's assistant supervisor of elections in 2002? Broward and Miami-Dade have the largest voter turnout of all Florida counties, and they keep ending up in the news with voting problems, with the same (often governor-appointed) officials responsible for those areas: David Leahy, Gisela Salas, and Brenda Snipes (who was appointed by Gov. Bush to replace Oliphaunt after the 2002 voting debacle). I'm not saying any of this is their fault; I just find it interesting.

Here's a story that confuses me:
Some Republican Party leaders are pressuring the GOP candidate for Broward supervisor of elections to drop out of the race in an effort to reduce black voter turnout during the general election in November, according to both GOP and Democratic insiders.

Their apparent goal is to give the incumbent, Democrat Brenda Snipes - who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush last November - a clear shot at victory.

The Republicans hope to prevent a competitive race between Snipes, who's black, and Steven Shin, a Korean-American. Their fear is that a strong challenge to Snipes would boost black voter turnout in Broward, according to both Republican and Democratic insiders.

High black turnout almost certainly would help Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and Democratic Senate candidate Betty Castor in what's expected to be a very close Florida election. Democrats have charged that Republicans are trying to suppress black voter turnout across the country, which some but not all Republicans deny.

"If [Shin] and [Snipes] are not on the ballot, that will mitigate or hurt turnout in the African-American community," said Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward Democratic Party. "[Snipes] is a positive symbol in the black community. They're not doing this to help Dr. Snipes but to help George Bush."

But Shin, 41, a Hollywood certified public accountant and developer who was recruited by the GOP to enter the race, said he's staying in unless he gets a "concrete" offer.
Found on Shin's campaign website.

:: Deb 1:56 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.25.2004 ::  

Nearly 380 Tons of Explosives Missing from Iraq atomic site

I can't wait to hear how the administration justifies this.
The New York Times report cited White House and Pentagon officials -- as well as at least one Iraqi minister -- as acknowledging that the explosives vanished from the site shortly after the U.S.-led invasion amid widespread looting.

The minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the explosives were missing in an interview with The Times and CBS Television in Baghdad.

A Western diplomat close to the IAEA, who declined to be named, said it was hard to understand why the U.S. military had failed to secure the facility despite knowing how sensitive it was.

"This was a very well known site. If you could have picked a few sites that you would have to secure then ... Al Qaqaa would certainly be one of the main ones," the diplomat said.
The above quote is from a YahooNews story; here's one from the NYTimes story from this morning:
The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.
Yet another mistake? That list is getting pretty long.


As Rich pointed out to me, there is actually some doubt as to whether the explosives in question were still at Al Qaqaa when the US invaded Iraq:
In the NBC report cited by the Bush campaign, the reporter embedded with American troops when they visited Al Qaqaa on April 10, 2003, the day after Baghdad fell, said she did not see any explosives.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said the NBC report showed that Kerry's allegations were "baseless."

But the reporter, Lai Ling Jew, said in an interview Tuesday on the network's cable arm, MSNBC, that the 24-hour visit by elements of the 101st Airborne Division was "more of a pit stop."

U.S. troops did not conduct a detailed search of the compound nor did they try to prevent looting, she said.

The IAEA said Tuesday the last time it can vouch for the presence of the explosives at Al Qaqaa was in March 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam.
From CNN.

:: Deb 10:46 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.22.2004 ::  

Bush signs $140 billion corporate tax cut into law on Friday

Alone, on Air Force One, rather than at a lavish public signing ceremony (as he did with his other tax cuts). It's almost as if... he doesn't want people to know about it. John McCain pulled no punches; he called the measure "the worst example of the influence of special interests that I have ever seen." More in Reuters.

:: Deb 4:00 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Iraqi support for US-backed government dropping
Just over 45 percent of those surveyed said Allawi had been effective since taking office in June, down from over 66 percent in July, and support for his government plummeted from 62 percent to 43 percent over the same period.

The survey was carried out by the International Republican Institute, a government-funded body that promotes democracy around the world and which is helping oversee efforts to build political parties in Iraq.
More than 45 percent of Iraqis believe their country is heading in the wrong direction, up from 31 percent 10 weeks ago; 55 percent do not believe the interim government represents their interests.
In Reuters.

:: Deb 3:48 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Sinclair sued for using copyrighted images and footage in "Stolen Honor

The saga continues.

:: Deb 3:43 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

The supply issue

According to this op-ed piece in USAToday, "18 Army reservists ...refused what some of them called a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel in a dangerous area near Baghdad on Oct. 13". First I've heard of it, so let's see...

The story cites unprotected vehicles ("Since May 2003, more than 200 soldiers riding in everything from Humvees to fuel trucks have been killed by improvised explosives."), supply shortages (families have been forced to buy and send armor to their loved ones on the field), and second-rate defenses as systemic problems in the Iraq war effort. These are problems I remember hearing about since last November, when a shoulder-fired missile took out a National Guard helicopter, and troops in Iraq complained that reservists were flying helicopters without the up-to-date missile-defense systems carried by some choppers.

Sounds like it's going really well over there, eh?

A CNN story from Sunday confirms the basic facts, i.e. that 18 reservists refused a mission to deliver fuel, citing safety concerns. Here's more detail about what happened, in an Online Newshour interview with the reporter who first broke the story.

:: Deb 3:14 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Worldwide consumption outstripping natural resources
Consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil increased by almost 700 percent between 1961 and 2001, [the World Wide Fund for Nature said Thursday in its regular Living Planet Report]. But the planet is unable to move as fast to absorb the resulting carbon-dioxide emissions that degrade the earth's protective ozone layer.
Populations of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species fell on average by 40 percent between 1970 and 2000.
Scary stuff.

:: Deb 3:00 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Bush supporters largely wrong, Kerry supporters generally right

...on several key issues, according to a study published yesterday by The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA):
1. Iraq, WMD, and al Qaeda
A large majority of Bush supporters believe that before the war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a major program for building them. A substantial majority of Bush supporters assume that most experts believe Iraq had WMD and that this was the conclusion of the recently released report by Charles Duelfer. A large majority of Bush supporters believes that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda and that clear evidence of this support has been found. A large majority believes that most experts also have this view, and a substantial majority believe that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Large majorities of Kerry supporters believe the opposite on all these points.
2. What the Bush Administration is Saying About Pre-War Iraq
Large majorities of Bush and Kerry supporters agree that the Bush administration is saying that Iraq had WMD and was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. In regard to WMD, these majorities are growing.
3. The Decision to Go to War
Majorities of Bush supporters and Kerry supporters agree that if Iraq did not have WMD or was not providing support to al Qaeda, the US should not have gone to war with Iraq.
4. World Public Opinion on the Iraq War and George Bush’s Reelection
Only three in ten Bush supporters believe that the majority of people in the world oppose the US going to war with Iraq, while an overwhelming majority of Kerry supporters have this view. A majority of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would like to see Bush reelected, while a large majority of Kerry supporters believe the opposite. Bush supporters also lean toward overestimating support in Islamic countries for US-led efforts to fight terrorism, while Kerry supporters do not.
5. Candidates’ Foreign Policy Positions
Majorities of Bush supporters misperceive his positions on a range of foreign policy issues. In particular they assume he supports multilateral approaches and addressing global warming when he has taken strong contrary positions on issues such as the International Criminal court and the Kyoto Agreement. A majority of Kerry supporters have accurate perceptions of Kerry positions on the same issues.
Interesting stuff. You can read the full report (it's not terribly long or wordy) here. Thanks to Rich for the link!

You can find links to more source material around these issues at the Daily Mislead for today.

:: Deb 10:16 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.20.2004 ::  

Why a huge deficit is so bad for the US

Well, one big reason, anyway:
"The dollar continues to lose ground against the major currencies as traders assess just how quickly the United States can plug its growing trade deficit," said Paul Jackson, a senior foreign exchange dealer at CMC Group.

Amid lingering doubts over the widening trade deficit, weak equity portfolio flows and outflows of foreign direct investment, some market watchers said the dollar may weaker [sic] even further.

"We now project the euro at 1.27 dollars in one month and at the all-time highs of 1.29 in three months," said Daniel Katzive at UBS.

West LB analysts said political considerations were also playing a hand in depressing sentiment on the dollar.

"Not only is the (US presidential) election outcome too close to call, but media coverage about the risk that a re-elected Bush government may allow the differences with Iran to escalate do not calm market nerves," they said.

The dollar's decline comes a day after JP Morgan said net foreign capital flows into the United States fell to 59 billion in August dollars from a revised 63.1 billion in July.

The bank's analysts said such data highlight the lack of capital inflows into the United States at a time when the trade deficit is set to "test new all-time highs."

JP Morgan economists believe the current account deficit could reach six percent of GDP by year end due to high oil prices and a persistent US-foreign demand growth gap.
Yuck. Full story here.

:: Deb 3:53 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Texas redistricting shot down by Supreme Court
The court refused Monday to uphold a Republican-engineered redistricting scheme in the state of Texas that is likely to win the party up to six additional House seats and sent back for review an earlier US federal court ruling that had found it legal.
Coming just two weeks before the US presidential election, the ruling will not be able to affect the November 2 vote.

But legal experts said it was likely to give rise to legal challenges to congressional election results in Texas, a state that sends to Washington a whopping 32 members of the House of Representatives.
A step in the right driection, for sure; found on YahooNews.

:: Deb 2:20 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Nickelodeon poll predicts Kerry will win
An unusual opinion poll that has correctly predicted the winner of the last four presidential elections has given Democratic challenger Kerry 57 percent against 43 percent for Bush, according to results released on Wednesday.

The Nickelodeon cable channel... conducted "Kids Vote," an online survey of almost 400,000 children on Tuesday.
Strange but true.

:: Deb 2:10 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

A cute photo of me and my friend Eleanor

This was taken with her phone-camera:

[That's me on the left, in case you've never met me]

:: Deb 10:57 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.19.2004 ::  

Faith-based President

If you haven't yet read this article in the New York Times Magazine from this past Sunday, please do. Some excerpts:
"This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts," Bartlett went on to say. "He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence." Bartlett paused, then said, "But you can't run the world on faith."
[Bruce Bartlett was a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush - D.]
"I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad," [Democratic Senator Joe Biden] began, "and I was telling the president of my many concerns" -- concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. "'Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?'"

Biden said that Bush stood up and put his hand on the senator's shoulder. "My instincts," he said. "My instincts."

Biden paused and shook his head, recalling it all as the room grew quiet. "I said, 'Mr. President, your instincts aren't good enough!'"
The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.

"I don't know why you're talking about Sweden," Bush said. "They're the neutral one. They don't have an army."

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: "Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army." Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. "No, no, it's Sweden that has no army."

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. "You were right," he said, with bonhomie. "Sweden does have an army."
I don't know about you, but the idea of this man continuing to steer America's foreign and domestic policy terrifies me.

Lots of people sent me this link!

:: Deb 3:33 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Sinclair group to curtail anti-Kerry broadcast

Sort of. They'll show only part of 'Stolen Honor', and claim that's what they intended to do all along. They will also show "a special news program on Friday called 'A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media' that would discuss the allegations surrounding Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities." Uh huh. Any bets on how much time ABC affiliates spent analyzing Bush's Vietnam record?

Thanks to Leslie for the link.

More info on this in an earlier post, here.

Here's some activism info from my friend Mike

Check out this web site. It lists the phone numbers of Sinclair's 10 largest advertisers, and it encourages you to call them up and tell them what you think about what Sinclair is doing. They have a sample letter here.

If you have the time and inclination, make some phone calls!

:: Deb 3:13 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Kerry's management style
Perhaps the strongest case for Kerry's fact-finding and consensus-building was his work to normalize U.S. relations with Vietnam in the 1990s. It began when Kerry agreed to lead a voluminous congressional investigation into the fate of more than 2,200 Americans missing since the Vietnam War -- an effort his advisers unanimously warned him against, calling it a quagmire. But Zwenig, chief of staff to the select committee, said Kerry "had a point of view and sense of mission from the beginning. He trusted his gut and he trusted his head."

The panel took more than 200 depositions, questioning every living secretary of state, secretary of defense, national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who had served since the Vietnam War began, said Codinha, who was the committee's chief counsel. They traveled to Vietnam, Laos and Russia, questioning officials, searching prisons and combing through records.

Anguished families packed every hearing. Kerry, other Democrats and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) concluded no Americans remained in captivity; panel vice chairman Robert Smith (N.H.) and some other Republicans insisted there were too many unanswered questions. Codinha remembered seeing no hope of consensus.

"I remember taking a break at noon one day near the end, and saying to John: We'll never persuade these guys," Codinha said. "And he said, {grv}'We're gonna persuade them because we're right on this, and the evidence is there.' "

McCain said Kerry walked the committee through the evidence like a courtroom lawyer, ultimately winning unanimous approval for the conclusion, "There is, at this time, no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia." That consensus removed the biggest roadblock to U.S. reconciliation with Vietnam, which came about after two more years of work behind the scenes by Kerry and McCain.

"It wouldn't have happened without his very hard and active work," McCain said.

Kerry's presidential campaign is a study in how his management style works when his direction is unclear or changing with events: in a word, chaotically.
From an interesting article in The Washington Post, linked from this Daniel Rezner post, which also has some interesting things to say about Kerry's potential in foreign policy. Zak pointed me to that.

:: Deb 2:57 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.18.2004 ::  

Jon Stewart tears Crossfire hosts a new one

Awesome, truly. Thanks to Kevin for the link.

:: Deb 10:12 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.14.2004 ::  

Voter-registration tampering rampant

An RNC-supported consulting firm is apparently tossing Democratic registration forms in several states; follow the links at Kos for more detail. There's more here. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for this one.

Make a difference this election day - sign up to be an election protection volunteer!

:: Deb 2:22 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Kerry polling well after final debate with Bush

That's according to Gallup, CNN, and ABC.

What did you think?

:: Deb 11:34 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.13.2004 ::  

Fun link for Wednesday - a catalogue of Dubya's flip-flops

On Sean Bonner's site; thanks Toshi!

:: Deb 11:11 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.12.2004 ::  

Turnabout is fair play - Fox fined $1.2M for indecency by FCC
The Federal Communications Commission said the material, which featured male and female Las Vegas strippers in a variety of sexual situations, was indecent and patently offensive, intended to "pander to and titillate the audience."
Full story on YahooNews.

:: Deb 6:18 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Quote of the... term?
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

– Dwight D. Eisenhower, before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 4/16/1953
I saw this quote while watching this movie, to which my friend Zak had linked on his blog.

Very true.

:: Deb 2:48 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Another photo from my trip to NM

Loved the texture of the bark on this tree.

:: Deb 10:59 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Another reason to fire this administration: poor civil rights record

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently released a report that concludes the administration has "failed to exhibit leadership or define a clear focus, relegating civil rights to a low priority." The highlights:
* Voting Rights: The Bush administration did not provide leadership to ensure timely passage and swift implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. As a result, Congress did not appropriate funds for election reform until almost two years into the administration.

* Equal Educational Opportunity: The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) does not sufficiently address unequal education, a major barrier to closing the achievement gap between minority and white students.

* Affirmative Action: Instead of promoting affirmative action in federal contracting and education, the administration promotes "race neutral alternatives," in many instances not applicable and in others not overly effective at maintaining diversity.

* Environmental Justice: EPA has taken few actions to ensure disparate impact of minority communities to environmental contamination.

* Racial Profiling: The administration responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by instituting regulations that facilitate profiling rather than prevent it. Immigrants and visitors from Arab and Middle Eastern countries were subjected to increased scrutiny, including interviews, registration, and in some cases removal.
Notice a trend? You can read the full report here. Link c/o Fark.

:: Deb 10:52 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.11.2004 ::  

Sinclair Group to air anti-Kerry movie on ABC primetime

This is the same group that ordered 7 affiliates not to air a "Nightline" segment that featured a reading of the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq; a Sinclair executive called that broadcast "contrary to the public interest." And guess what?
Sinclair executives have shown support for the Bush campaign. Sinclair CEO David Smith contributed the legal limit of $2,000 Bush-Cheney 2004, and vice president Frederick Smith gave $175,000 to the RNC and maxed out his Bush-Cheney contribution.

FEC records show that two other top level Sinclair executives gave the maximum amount they could to Bush-Cheney.

Sinclair executives have given nearly $68,000 in political contributions, 97 percent of it going to Republicans, since the beginning of the year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Read the full story on CNN, link c/o Fark.

:: Deb 3:55 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.08.2004 ::  

A sci-fi film I'm excited about

Primer looks very interesting, and is garnering quite a mountain of acclaim.

:: Deb 5:17 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Homeland Insecurity

If there was still any question about the Bush administration's priorities, here's a breakdown of their spending on beefing up national security, contrasted with actual need (and compared to costs of the current Iraq war).
Amount needed for basic security upgrades for subway and commuter trains in large cities: $6 BILLION (Iraq spending equivalent: 20 days)
Bush budget allocation for train security: $100 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 8 hours)

Amount needed to equip all U.S. airports with machines that screen baggage for explosives: $3 BILLION (Iraq equivalent: 10 days)
Bush budget allocation for baggage-screening machines: $400 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 32 hours)

Amount needed for security upgrades at 361 U.S. ports: $1.1 BILLION (Iraq equivalent: 4 days)
Bush budget allocation for port security: $210 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 17 hours)

Amount needed to buy radiation portals for U.S. ports to detect dirty bombs in cargo: $290 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 23 hours)
Bush budget allocation for radiation portals: $43 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 3 hours)

Amount needed to help local firefighters preparefor terrorist attacks: $36.8 BILLION (Iraq equivalent: 122 days)
Bush budget allocation for firefighter grants: $500 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 40 hours)

Amount needed to get local emergency medical crews ready for terrorist atttacks: $1.4 BILLION (Iraq equivalent: 5 days)
Bush budget allocation for emergency medical training grants prior to eliminating program altogether: $50 MILLION (Iraq equivalent: 4 hours)


All Bush allocation figures taken from administration estimates of FY 2005 budget

Subway and rail security upgrades
Amount needed: Statement by William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, 5/20/04

Baggage screening
Amount needed: Government Accountability Office, "Aviation Security: Challenges Exist in Stabilizing and Enhancing Passenger and Baggage Screening Operations" [PDF], 2/12/04, p. 28

Port security upgrades
American Association of Port Authorities, "AAPA Concerned FY '05 Lacks Funds For Port Facility Security", 2/2/04

Radiation portals
Amount needed: Calculation based on figures from House Committee on Appropriations (Total cost of radiation portals: $495.5 million. Amount already spent: $205.5 million. Remaining amount: $290 million)

Firefighter preparedness
Amount needed: Council on Foreign Relations, "Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Underprepared", p. 34

Emergency medical preparedness
Amount needed: Council on Foreign Relations, "Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Underprepared", p. 37
Lifted straight from the current issue of MoJo. Total needed for the above homeland security improvements: $48.59 billion; total allocated: $1.303 billion. Total allocated for the war in Iraq so far: $200 billion. Could their priorities be any clearer?

:: Deb 11:40 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.07.2004 ::  

The ways of Washington

In September I posted ten Senate bills or resolutions introduced by Senator Kerry in 2003, none of which made it onto the Senate floor for a vote. Why? All ten were stalled in committee. The committees now have complete control over Congress, and since the majority rules the committees, well, there ya go. Congress did not always function this way, as recounted in this Boston Globe story:
The Accenture episode is emblematic of the way business is conducted in the 108th Congress, where a Republican leadership has sidelined legislation unwanted by the Bush administration, even when a majority of the House seemed ready to approve it, according to lawmakers, lobbyists, and an analysis of House activities. With one party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, and having little fear of retaliation by the opposing party, the House leadership is changing the way laws are made in America, favoring secrecy and speed over open debate and negotiation. Longstanding rules and practices are ignored. Committees more often meet in secret. Members are less able to make changes to legislation on the House floor. Bills come up for votes so quickly that elected officials frequently don't know what's in them. [Hm. Could this be what happened with the Patriot Act? - Deb] And there is less time to discuss proposed laws before they come up for a vote.

"There is no legislative process anymore," said Fred Wertheimer, the legendary open-government activist who has been monitoring Congress since 1963. "Bills are decided in advance of going to the floor."


....longtime Congress-watchers say they have never seen the legislative process so closed to input from minority-party members, the public, and lobbyists whose agenda is unsympathetic to GOP leadership goals.

[emphasis added]
Thanks to Mom for the link!


In fact, that is exactly how the Patriot Act got passed with so few Congressmen knowing what was in it:
The USA PATRIOT Act, too, underwent a Rules Committee remake in 2001. Urged on by the Bush administration, Republicans and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee engaged in painstaking negotiations to write compromise language they believed gave law enforcement the tools it needed to fight terrorism while protecting the civil liberties of US citizens. The measure passed 36-0 in committee, drawing the support of such disparate political voices as Representatives Barney Frank, Democrat of Newton, and James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin.

But after Attorney General John Ashcroft complained that the measure didn't give law enforcement enough new authority, the Rules Committee heavily rewrote the bill and presented to the House a new version greatly expanding the government's power to search people's homes without notice. The House spent just one day debating the matter before approving the historic expansion of search-and-seizure rules.

[emphasis added]
Why haven't we heard more about this?

:: Deb 4:29 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Want to see who giving how much to whom?

FundRace.org has it all - you can search by address, or look at the nation and city maps to see who's giving how much to which party. You can even see the candidate's hotel and air travel bills! Thanks to Leslie for the link.

:: Deb 1:06 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.06.2004 ::  

In their own words: the Bush administration's record of misjudgement

Yay for Tom Tomorrow!

:: Deb 4:36 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

House votes to break up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

News to me! Found this on my local news station's website. It was a close vote, and would have been defeated had some CA Republicans not changed their votes at the last minute. But it's said to be doomed in the Senate, and looks to be yet another pre-election political move, a la Marriage Amendment.

:: Deb 10:06 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

VP debate fact-check

An AP article, found on the Fox News website.

What did you think of the debate?


Here's a better post-debate fact-checker [link fixed] that contrasts Cheney's barrage of outright lies with Edwards' occasional and slight distortions. FactCheck.org, which Cheney mentioned during the debate (tho he got the suffix wrong), does the same.

And on the whole tort reform issue, MoJo had a great article in this month's magazine.
As for the broader "lawsuit crisis," a report from the nonprofit National Center for State Courts found that tort filings have been falling steadily over the past decade, dropping by 9 percent between 1992 and 2002. In Texas, the rate of tort filings fell by 37 percent between 1990 and 2000; in California, it plummeted 45 percent. What's more, plaintiffs lose about half the time they go to trial in state courts, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics; in medical malpractice cases, doctors win almost three-quarters of the time.

When plaintiffs do win, the "jackpot" is getting smaller all the time. New data released in April by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that in jury trials in state courts, the median award fell by almost half during the 1990s -- from $65,000 to $37,000. Punitive damages, the tort reform campaign's top target, were awarded in only 6 percent of all jury trials in 2001, and the median award was $50,000.
The guy who started it all? Our friend Karl Rove, who in 1994 encouraged Bush to use tort reform as a top campaign issue in his first race for governor of Texas. As a result, Rove told the Washington Post, "Business groups flocked to us;" the strategy has continued to benefit Bush up thru the current campaign.

:: Deb 10:02 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 10.05.2004 ::  

It's been a while since I posted any images...

...so here's one from my recent trip to Silver City, New Mexico, where I visited my Mom.

These are some rocks I liked, on a hike called "the Catwalk".

:: Deb 3:45 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

If you're in the US and of voting age, you could win $100,000 at the VOTEorNOT sweepstakes

:: Deb 11:16 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

A very funny video montage of the GOP Convention

Thanks so much to Rich for the link!

:: Deb 11:01 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Vice-Presidential debate tonight

I recommend C-SPAN. You can watch their live feed of the broadcast starting at 9pm EST, 6pm PST.

:: Deb 10:10 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

One more reason to fire this administration
Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.

One result was a largely one-sided presentation to the public that did not convey the depth of evidence and argument against the administration's most tangible proof of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

[emphasis added]
From the New York Times; link found on BoingBoing, a cool site Lucas pointed me to.


Here's another great quote from the above article:
The Energy Department team concluded it was "unlikely that anyone" could build a centrifuge site capable of producing significant amounts of enriched uranium "based on these tubes." One analyst summed it up this way: the tubes were so poorly suited for centrifuges, he told Senate investigators, that if Iraq truly wanted to use them this way, "we should just give them the tubes."

[emphasis added]
Hardly seems like those tubes posed much of a threst, eh?

:: Deb 10:02 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

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