Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Suffer the children

British medical journal The Lancet has published the first peer-reviewed, methodological study of civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion. Their tally, making what they call "conservative assumptions," is 100,000 -- most of them women and children.

Let's be conservative ourselves and split that into thirds: roughly one-third men, one-third women, one-third children.

33,000 children killed in your name.
33,000 children killed to keep you safe.
33,000 children killed, many of them no doubt suffering intense pain and incredible fear before they died.
Ten World Trade Centers, all filled with children, obliterated by America.
One hundred Beslan school seiges, with Americans in the black masks.

Even if this had made us safer, I would not want safety at this price. I would rather face the danger, whatever it was. Anyone who feels otherwise is a coward.

This above all else is what drives my loathing of the Bush administration, and the man himself. To kill children while assuming the stance of warriors is obscene and inhuman. Impeachment is too good for them.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

30 mm

This is what war looks like.

Background info here.

Boo!

If you're looking for the photo of our Halloween lawn display, go here. Blogger makes it hard to post photos from a Mac.

The buck stops in the rats' nest

AP is still on the trail of Bush's missing National Guard records. And lordy, who'da thought -- they keep finding more!

But even when the government insisted in sworn affidavits that all documents about Bush had been made public last month, AP persisted and won permission to allow two law professors to review boxes of files in Texas to make sure nothing was missed.

The professors found dozens of pages of new memos overlooked in the government's searches. The government's only explanation was that dust and rat excrement in the boxes made it hard to review the files.

Our president's military service, obscured by rat excrement. Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

And listen, "goverment," rat shit doesn't make it "hard" to sift through a stack of papers; it just makes it "gross." But you really should deal with the gross factor if you're going to take an oath that you looked through everything.

For heaven's sake, couldn't they just clean out the rat shit first? Or is the rat shit classified material?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Say, why are people talking about civil war all of a sudden?

If you haven't seen Eminem's Mosh video, watch it now.

This is the music being bought, watched, listened to by the cute little 18- and 19-year olds I teach . . . the ones with the piercings and the confused ideas about what it all means and the desperate desire to get laid . . . the same ones we will promptly ship off to be slaughtered in the Middle East when it becomes clear we've started World War III. And what do you know, they seem to be a little pissed. Surely they won't actually do anything about that, will they?

Sample lyric:
Imagine it pouring, it's raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone's trying to tell us something, maybe this is God just saying
we're responsible for this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this, without pumping our fist
Now this is our final hour
Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply it by six-
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al Quaida through my speech
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight

Rudy Giuliani - a special kind of asshole

David Englin was foolish enough to watch Giuliani's appearance on the Today show, where the Man of Action blamed U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq for not securing the 380 tons of explosives at Al QaQaa:
"The actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"
Atrios has a link to the wmv if you want to watch it.

And to think, only three years ago I was glad a building didn't collapse on this guy.

Monday, October 25, 2004

We don't endorse them, we just fund them

When line workers at the Land's End factory in Dodgeville Wisconsin were invited to see American hero Rudolph Giuliani, they thought they'd be hearing a motivational speech. After all, CEO Mindy Meads had e-mailed them only hours beforehand, saying, "Please note, Lands' End does not endorse any political candidate." But in fact the workers were treated to a campaign pitch, including some hard-core Kerry bashing.

Lands' End was acquired by Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 2002 for $1.9 billion.

Sears (a publicly-held company) was indicted last month for allegedly making illegal corporate campaign contributions to Tom DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC).

Anyone who owns stock in Sears (NYSE: S) might consider sending a letter questioning whether Giuliani's speech was in the shareholders' best interest, given that the company is currently under indictment.

Friday, October 22, 2004

PIPA passes

Everyone's talking about the new PIPA report that shows how delusional Bush supporters are ("Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda . . . Bush Supporters Misperceive World Public as Not Opposed to Iraq War, Favoring Bush Reelection")

Here's the money quote:
"To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
Substantial cognitive dissonance. Yes, I think that covers it nicely. It's what you get when you don't live in the reality-based community. Ooh, small brains hurt so very much!

(If you don't get the Browning joke, read the poem. The snail's on the thorn, the WMDs are in Iraq, and all's right with the world! Really! Really!!!)

Watching TV

She's everybody's sister
She's symbolic of our failure
She's the one in fifty million
Who can help us to be free
Because she died on TV

Remember that song from Roger Waters' album Amused to Death?

Fafblog is channeling it.

Now you see it . . .

. . . now someone catches them moving it.

The White House continues to use your tax dollars to clean up those messy old facts that make history so inconvenient. The Brad Blog notes that, since the third debate, audio and video of Bush's "I'm not that concerned about Bin Laden" comment have been scrubbed from their places on the White House web site. The White House's "List of Coalition Members" has also disappeared. And a few other things. Pay no attention to that webmaster behind the curtain!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Toad today

Oh yeah, there's new stuff on Toad.

People who wear bow ties do not get to call other people ridiculous

Tucker Carlson is now going around saying he thinks Jon Stewart "looked ridiculous" in the recent Crossfire appearance where Stewart essentially tore Tucker and Paul Begala a pair of bright shiny new assholes. Carlson doesn't seem to understand that The Daily Show and Crossfire are different kinds of shows; he wants to pre-empt Stewart's criticism of Crossfire by levelling the same charges back at him: "You don't promote serious discourse."

Well, you know what? Here's the difference: Jon Stewart is a comedian. Tucker Carlson is a joke.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I voted

I'm back in town after an exciting trip to Houston to see if I have any bugs in me (I don't). Thanks to Texas's curbside early voter program, I have already voted in the presidential election. So just in case I get hit by a bus, or the terrorists blow up the UT Tower and it falls on my office and crushes me, my vote will still count (as much as it can in Texas, anyway).

While I was gone, I hope you did not miss:

Ron Suskind's piece in the NYT Magazine. Are you a member of the reality-based community? I am!

The continuing death spiral of Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment problems. While The Smoking Gun is still overwhelmed with people trying to read the amazingly detailed (quite obviously from taped conversations), hilarious and disturbing lawsuit, you can read Steve Gilliard's excellent commentary.

James K. Galbraith (whom David Halberstam referred to as "Jamie" when I was at dinner with the two of them YES, I DO DROP NAMES ASK ME ABOUT MY DINNER WITH ANDREW SULLIVAN SOME TIME) has written an excellent summation of exactly what is and isn't wrong with Social Security. You have to watch a little ad to get to the full article but it's well worth it. Short version: There is nothing wrong with Social Security.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Iraq, the final irony

So yesterday in class one of my friends, a Vietnam Vet with 3 tours of duty under his belt, and I, were doing a tag team review of the Iraq situation. He was explaining to the students why Iraq now is like Vietnam then - fighting "insurgents" who call themselves "freedom fighters" or "nationalists", telling them how much urban guerilla fighting is just like jungle guerilla fighting, explaining how our soldiers control exactly the ground upon which they stand and nothing else. Interestingly, one of the things he says is that in Vietnam we controlled the cities but they controlled the country; in Iraq it's the opposite. Why? Most of the people are in the cities in Iraq, most were in the countryside in Vietnam. Since no one gives a hoot about controlling the desert, we are allowed to do so. Thus the reverse, but worse: the desert has nothing. The cities are everything.

At the end of class I was left to sum up our presentation with the observation that now, we must leave, yet we must not. It is the ultimate irony of this ridiculous exercise in futility.

We must leave for the sake of both our military and their people. This war is re-creating the exact same kinds of nonsense that turned people against Vietnam and helped radically lower the morale and ability of our military: "body counts"; civilian casualties; blowing up buildings and claiming we wiped out "nests of insurgent leaders" (no proof, never any proof, and the next "nest" is in the next building); controlling the ground our soldiers stand on and nothing else; fighting against determined guerillas on ground of their choosing where our mechanized army can't use its mechanized tactics; making new guerillas with every one we kill. And it's killing their people - over 20,000 at last count - most of whom are civilians caught in crossfires, collateral damage.

Yet we must not leave, for the sake of our nation and their people. What happens the day we pull out? Civil war between Shiite and Sunni, with the Kurds hungrily lapping up the ruins. The Shiites (70% of the population) will attack and decimate the Sunni (15%) in a bloody civil war the Shiite can't lose. Sunnis most likely butchered, ethnic and religious "cleansing." The Kurds come down from the north and grab what they can in the ensuing chaos. End result: a slightly larger Kurdistan making Turkey even more nervous, and an Iraq run by Shiites allied with Iran. A power bloc of 2 large Islamic Republics utterly at odds with the US. What does that bode for "terrorism" in the future? Does anyone remember that little list Iran was on for 20 years? You know, the one that describes which countries sponsor, support, and fund terrorist organizations? Add now a Shiite Iraq, and all the lies Bush told about "working hand in glove with terrorists" become true. Bush creates what he claims existed, yet did not until now, and it really is a threat to the safety and security of the US and other Western nations.

So, we MUST leave, yet we must NOT leave. We must "win," yet we can not "win."

Good job neo-cons. I dont think anyone could have created a more perfect no-win situation if they had tried.

That's a kill

This has been spreading much more slowly than it should - it's a transcription of recent remarks by Seymour Hersh, who broke the Abu Graib prison scandal and, before that, the My Lai Massacre. Via Tiny Revolution. Read it and weep:
I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy.

It was a call about this. He had been bivouacing outside of town with his platoon. It was near, it was an agricultural area, and there was a granary around. And the guys that owned the granary, the Iraqis that owned the granary... It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouaced, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...

They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."

You read those stories where the Americans, we take a city, we had a combat, a hundred and fifteen insurgents are killed. You read those stories. It's shades of Vietnam again, folks, body counts...

You know what I told him? I said, fella, I said: you've complained to the captain. He knows you think they committed murder. Your troops know their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Just shut up. Get through your tour and just shut up. You're going to get a bullet in the back. You don't need that. And that's where we are with this war.
Not only can our kids be drafted and forced to butcher people, but they now run the risk of getting shot in the back if they object.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Town hall wrap-up

Don't miss Fafnir's report on the debate at Fafblog:
George Bush says he has protected the environment with such policies as his Healthy Smog Initiative an his Delicious Mercury Act. John Kerry says that mercury is not really as delicious as the president says it is an says he has a plan to protect the environment by holdin a summit with it. George Bush follows up by sayin he has a plan to preserve all creatures by leadin them two by two onto a real big boat.
Fafblog readers will be pleased to know we served pie at our debate party. Apple pie, because it seemed suitably civic-minded for a town hall meeting. There was ice cream and everyone was happy, as you would naturally expect with pie.

Even Wonkette noted that Bush's joke, "That answer almost makes me want to scowl!" was a complete dud. A couple of people have pointed this out but it struck me that this was essentially the same joke he told in his new foreign policy address/stump speech last week: "
After reciting a laundry list of Kerry's criticisms on Iraq, Bush said: 'You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face.'" That line drew laughs and a standing ovation from his hand-picked audience. Do you think he'll learn anything from the fact that it left the rest of America cold? Yeah, I know what you think.

Lastly, we have new material up on Toad. And wonder of wonders, it's debate-oriented.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Radio Free President

James Wolcott nails the "Is Bush wired?" question.

Debate highlights

The debate party at our place last night was a happenin' event, folks. I'm totally sold on watching these things with a good support group. It makes the painful parts less painful and the fun parts way more fun. In fact, we're now committed to hosting again next Wednesday for the third and final slapdown, as well as Election Night. So mark you calendars and email me if you need directions.

Some of our favorite moments:

(NYT transcript) Mr. Bush Yeah, great question, thanks. I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft.


Internets. The Internets. He "hears there's rumors on the Internets." Do you think he really believes in Internets? I hear there's a pot of gold behind every rainbow. It's cute. Kind of like the draft.

Someone in our audience commented that Bush actually wanted to get on the Internet, but Al Gore wouldn't give him a password.

(NYT transcript) Mr. Bush: Yeah, I mean he's got a record.

Ah, Kerry's record. My husband the three-degree doctor pointed out that the president also has a record - it's just been expunged.

Finally, there was this jaw-dropper:

Q. Mr. president, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who do you choose and why?

(NYT transcript) Mr. Bush I'm not telling. I really don't have, haven't picked anybody yet. Plus I want them all voting for me.

Yes, you heard that right. He's joking about the fact that his dad's hand-picked psuedo-justices were the only thing that got him his current office. I am laughing so hard! His self-deprecating humor is hilarious, isn't it? Will someone please shoot me now?

Actually, my absolute favorite moment was when Kerry referred to the Duelfer report while looking at Bush and Bush actually laughed. If I had the technological wherewithal I'd post a clip because it just blew my mind. Bush was obviously trying to project disbelief at what Kerry was saying but it was a lot like his little jokes to the press corps about trying to find weapons of mass destruction in the Oval Office. People are dying. It's not the time for folksy knee-slapping humor. Self-deprecation is not humility.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Wow, you mean they can read?

The local paper in Crawford, Texas endorses Kerry for president, and how do those straight-shootin' Texans respond? With threats, naturally.

The editors, God bless 'em, have responded with much more thoughtfulness than some of their readers deserve, noting that:
In the past, when individuals disagreed with an editorial, they would write a letter to the editor politely expressing a different point of view in contrast to the views of the publishers, which we have usually published. Occasionally someone would cancel a subscription or an ad, but this was rare.
The goal of the editorial page has been to provide an arena for the expression of a variety of thoughtful opinions, some by the publishers, some by columnists, and some by our readers.
The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.
We do understand peoples’ rights to pull subscriptions and ads, and to express a differing opinion, but we have some trouble understanding threats and payback since in politics there are often a variety of options. For the publishers to herald one of the options should be no cause for persecution.
They've also posted all the emails they've received. Hearteningly, they run about 10:1 in favor of the endorsement. The people who didn't like the endorsement come across pretty much like the troglodytes they are. Here's a good one:
To Whom It May Concern:
After reading an article on the internet about your publication endorsing John Kerry for president I went to your website see for myself if this was true. Sure enough the website says "Iconoclast endorses Kerry for President." I did also see that it is in the editorial section, but to use the newspapers name as the backer of the editorial is outrageous and irresponsible. Newspapers are supposed to be unbiased, and state the news leaving it up to the reader to decide his or her own opinion. Again, if someone at the newspaper has a preference for presidential candidate and wants to place an editorial then so be it, but what a laughing stock you've made of yourselves by having a newspaper back a certain candidate…whichever candidate that may be!!!
Any TRUE journalist or new publication would know the ENTIRE BASIS of any journalistic outlet is to give the public the news, with no opinion or bias.
Sincerely,
CS
Educated citizen

Silly, silly newspaper! With this kind of logic, "Educated citizen" would not have passed my freshman composition course at a Texas university. I wonder what he or she thinks "news" consists of, if not opinion. What would a newspaper consisting entirely of "fact" look like? Would it have stories like "Water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit"? "Hot things can burn you if you touch them"? "The president wore a red tie?"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Factcheck.who?

So, who is responsible for redirecting traffic from "Factcheck.com" (mistakenly touted by Cheney as the Source of Ultimate Truth re: Halliburton) to George Soros' Web site? A quick check of Register.com turns up this ownership info:
Registrant:
Name Administrationn Inc. (BVI)
Box 10518 A.P.O.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands B.W.I.
KY

Domain name: FACTCHECK.COM

Administrative Contact:
Domain, Administrator admin@nameadmininc.com
Box 10518 A.P.O.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands B.W.I.
KY
+1.345.946.6879
Technical Contact:
Domain, Administrator admin@nameadmininc.com
Box 10518 A.P.O.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands B.W.I.
KY
+1.345.946.6879

Registrar of record:DomainNameSales
Record last updated on 12-Sep-2004.
Record expires on 04-Feb-2007.
Record created on 04-Feb-2004.

Domains servers listed in order:
NS1.15X.NET 66.199.187.170
NS2.15X.NET 66.199.187.171

Domain status:
REGISTRAR-LOCK
So the domain name was purchased earlier this year by a company sufficiently cold-blooded to have decamped to the Grand Cayman Islands to avoid taxes. Hardly some left-wing subversive organization, methinks. Can anyone out there discern more about the owner from this information?

At the time of this posting, Factcheck.com is still redirecting to GeorgeSoros.com, but his site is down. Atrios says he has put up a response to all this, though (and as Josh Marshall points out in the post linked above, Soros and his people claim they had nothing to do with the redirect).

What I love most about all this is, though the Bushies try to use the Internet to lie and obfuscate, they are too old-fashioned, arrogant, and/or stupid to take the trouble to find out how it actually works, and thus they are easily undone in their efforts. Cheney couldn't even be bothered to understand the important difference between .com and .org, for God's sake (I'm not surprised he defaulted to ".com" instead of the non-proft ".org"). And remember when the WhiteHouse.gov Webmasters changed their robots.txt file to stop search engines from crawling the site, so Google, for example, wouldn't be able to index pages with things like "Mission Accomplished" on them that the administration might want to go back and change and leave no earlier record of? Yeah, nobody snapped to that, did they?

Update: Washington Monthly has more on the people behind factcheck.com (via the Wall Street Journal).

Maybe digging faster will get you out of that hole, sir

So, this is how the president is preparing for the second debate:

Retooled Bush Speech has Zingers
Bush seemed to enjoy the exercise of leveling new attacks as much as he seemed to dislike Thursday's debate with Kerry.

He was energized by a crowd of some 1,000 fervent supporters in an art-deco theater packed to its gilded balcony. Reading from a prepared text, Bush chuckled to himself as he delivered his cutting new lines.

He shook his head to convey disbelief as he read the charges against Kerry. Bush thumped an open palm against his lectern as he declared: "The world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell."

After reciting a laundry list of Kerry's criticisms on Iraq, Bush said: "You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face." It was Bush's way of explaining his debate scowls and looks of annoyance.

His friendly audience laughed, leaped to their feet and gave him a standing ovation, led, among others, by political aide Karl Rove, sitting in the third row.

Perfect. Adjust for being too negative, too unused to opposing views, and too uninformed in the first debate by going more negative, speaking to even more partisan audiences, and making your charges even more vague.

What's most appalling to me is the image of Bush and Rove smacking their nasty little lips over this performance. I wonder if Rove has read Dante's Inferno. Does he have any idea what awaits him after this life? He may have a choice between the fifth and sixth ditches, if he's lucky.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hmmm, this sounds familiar.......

Was anyone other than me feeling a bit odd about Edwards' "responses" to the questions in the "debate" tonight? I kept thinking, well, hell, boy, answer the question. Why is he going back to the campaign talking points instead of answering the question? I mean, who else , during debates for Governor and then President, have we heard answering debate questions with campaign talking points, instead of answering the question itself? I mean, can you think of anyone that would, for example, say "I believe all Americans should have the right to own guns" when asked about his policy on health care in Texas?

Hmmm?

Anyone?

I just hope the right wingers are furiously screaming about Edwards not answering the questions. I hope they are furious that he kept "on message" instead of answering questions. Then I hope they remember who taught Edwards to do that in "debates".

At least there was no wardrobe malfunction

I kind of saw this debate as analogous to the Super Bowl halftime show. You know what you're going to see, you know it's going to be awful, but you feel compelled to watch it anyway.

After this evening, I have no trouble believing Dick Cheney ordered the Air Force to shoot down hijacked passenger airliners on 9/11. I find it harder to believe that he doesn't order them to shoot down one or two passenger planes every blessed day, just for fun. What a mean, evil bastard.

Poor Giblets

If you don't read Fafblog, you missed Giblets' response to the first presidential debate:

Instead of the weak-kneed flip-flopping elitist being put in his place by the simple-talkin' cowpoke who squints ABMs in the face of terror, Giblets had to endure seeing the leader of the free world whine like an old woman with an expired aspirin coupon while Mr. Monument trounced him in rich, dulcet tones!
Poor, poor Giblets.

One less hug needed

Thank heavens, our hard, hard working president will get a small break from all the widow-hugging he's had to do lately.

Woman Dies After Son Killed in Iraq
October 5, 2004 10:35 AM EDT
TUCSON, Ariz. - A 45-year-old woman collapsed and died days after learning her son had been killed in Iraq, and just hours after seeing his body. Results of an autopsy were not immediately released, but friends of Karen Unruh-Wahrer said she couldn't stop crying over losing her 25-year-old son, Army Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh, who was killed by enemy fire near Baghdad on Sept. 25.

"Her grief was so intense - it seemed it could have harmed her, could have caused a heart attack. Her husband described it as a broken heart," said Cheryl Hamilton, manager of respiratory care services at University Medical Center, where Unruh-Wahrer worked as a respiratory therapist.

Unruh, a combat engineer, had been in Iraq less than a month when he was shot during an attack on his unit.

Several days after learning of his death, his mother had gone to the hospital complaining of chest pains, Hamilton said. She was feeling better the next day but saw her son's body Saturday morning and collapsed that night in her kitchen.

Her husband, Dennis Wahrer - also a respiratory therapist - and other family members performed CPR but Unruh-Wahrer was pronounced dead that night.

Autopsy results won't be released until relatives are notified, said Dr. Bruce Parks, Pima County chief medical examiner. There was no immediate response to a call to his office before business hours Tuesday.

Robert Unruh will be buried Friday at the Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery. His mother's body will accompany her son's in the procession to the cemetery.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Do the right thing

Uh huh. That didn't take long:

Mon Oct 4, 2004 03:57 PM ET
By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The man named by the new CIA director for the third-highest position at the agency said on Monday he would not take the job following reports that he was caught shoplifting more than two decades ago.

"As a result of recent press articles and attendant speculation, I have decided that I cannot accept an appointment as CIA's executive director," Michael Kostiw said in a statement.

He will however work at the agency as a senior adviser to the new director, Porter Goss, the former Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sticky fingers at the CIA

Porter Goss, who promised to be non-partisan, began his tenure as head of the CIA by appointing four Republicans to top jobs. So much for promises. But who cares about political affiliations, as long as he picks the right person for the job, you say?

Goss Choice Quit CIA In 1982 Under Fire
By Walter Pincus
Sunday, October 3, 2004; Page A09

Michael V. Kostiw, chosen by CIA Director Porter J. Goss to be the agency's new executive director, resigned under pressure from the CIA more than 20 years ago, according to past and current agency officials

While Kostiw, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, longtime lobbyist for ChevronTexaco Corp. and more recently staff director of the terrorism subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has been through the CIA security vetting procedure, final clearance to take the job has not been completed pending review of the allegations. The job is the third-ranking post at the CIA

In late 1981, after he had been a case officer for 10 years, Kostiw was caught shoplifting in Langley, sources said. During a subsequent CIA polygraph test, Kostiw's responses to questions about the incident led agency officials to place him on administrative leave for several weeks, according to four sources who were familiar with the past events but who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
Way to go Porter. I feel safer already.

And yes, everyone makes mistakes, but the reason you try not to make mistakes is that they can have serious ramifications for you far down the line. This is one. You steal one lousy package of pantyhose, and you never, ever get to control the budget of the largest intelligence agency in the world. Isn't that the lesson we all teach our children?

And for cripes sake, a longtime lobbyist for ChevronTexaco? Do you have to be in the back pocket of big oil to get a job in this administration? Oh, don't even answer that.


Friday, October 01, 2004

Now, this is just bizarre

Media critic James Wolcott starts his entry on last night's debate with kind of a cute conceit:
Tweet Smell of Success
Posted by James Wolcott

Birding has been slow in Cape May. Warbler action has been weak. Even Pete Dunne, local birding deity, said the other day that it was dead out there--his most recent hawkwatch had been a dud.

But this morning as I walked to the general store to pick up the papers, there were birds everywhere aflutter. Bluejays. Cardinals. Mourning doves. Sparrows of every persuasion. A peregrine falcon or merlin (I didn't get my binocs up fast enough) winging overhead. Later, at Sunset Beach, a quartet of pelicans floated over like a band heading to a gig. Some would attribute this to a shift in wind direction or a change in temp, but I know different.

Nature is celebrating last night's presidential debate.

The trees are alive with the sound of Kerry.

Cute, right? Birds don't really know anything about this stuff though, of course--except that, this morning before I left for work, a freakin' parakeet landed in our backyard. No shit. It was looking for food in one of the dog's dishes and we enticed into our own parakeet's cage before I left for work.

Hmmm . . . .

Thoughts on the debate

  1. On ABC, which we were watching, they adjusted the split-screen image so the two candidates' heads were at the same level. Thus, Bush's podium took up more of the screen. Did any other split-screen image (I heard CNN's was pretty devastating - evidently it was up the whole time so you really got the full effect of W's monkey-mouthing) put the podia on the same level, so you could see how much taller Kerry is?
  2. Bush's quip about how Kerry would pay for homeland security was outrageous - look for Kerry to refer back to it in debate #3, domestic policy (unless he gets a chance earlier, in the "town hall" mockery up next week).
  3. The three-degree doctor thought Kerry's biggest blooper was his comment that "Certainty can get you into trouble." I see some people online saying that was a great line. I didn't see it myself, as one of the young future doctors in the family needed a diaper change at that time.
  4. Bush looked like a little troll doll, or the peevish Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Prime Minister. I hate to impugn the late great Nigel Hawthorne with that comparison, but I think it's apt. He was like H. Ross Perot, but without a brain in his head. Just the giant sucking sound.
  5. I thought it was kinda cute that Teresa and Laura wore almost identical outfits, and obviously said something about it to each other afterwards. I thought Laura actually looked better in hers though - Teresa's seemed a little bunchy somehow. Like I know anything about dress suits.
  6. You just know that if it came to blows, Kerry could take this guy out without breaking a sweat.
UPDATE: It was C-SPAN, not CNN, that had the constant split-screen - they called it the "Debate Podium Watch." You can see some great clips from it here.