Seven Degrees from Normal

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

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Spreading democracy

Boy, this is working out well:

Iran Hard-Liner Calls For Unity After Vote
President-Elect Vows to Make Country a 'Role Model'
By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Western diplomat stationed in Tehran said the replacement of President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government by a hard-line administration would stiffen Iran's position.

"If the regime decided to change its position while he's president, it would make it more palatable to the hard-liners," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomacy. "But it dramatically reduces the likelihood that they would settle -- on nuclear issues, on relations with the United States, or on a host of things."

"I'm depressed," said Azar Mia, a professor of French at Tehran Polytechnic University, who had supported the reform movement. "All of the reform programs of the last eight years are vanished now. We have gone back to the Middle Ages, perhaps earlier."

Somehow I don't think that when Bush extols "democracy" in the Middle East, he's thinking about democratically-elected leaders who call for downward redistribution of wealth.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Proud to be Italian

This is a Big Deal:

Italian Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Operatives for Kidnapping

Published: June 24, 2005
MILAN, June 24 - An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency accused of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and sending him to a prison in Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said today.
A bit of payback for our gunning down their agent, perhaps?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


(CNN) -- Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

WASHINGTON, June 19 - Five months after President Bush was sworn in for another four years, his political authority appears to be ebbing, both within his own party, where members of Congress are increasingly if sporadically going their own way, and among Democrats, who have discovered that they pay little or no price for defying him.

Place your orders now.

(Don't miss "What's Your Ducktype?" while you're there.)

The Washington Note

Steve Clemons' TWN is hardly a secret but if you are following the Bolton nomination at all it's a must read. All the inside skinny.

Chris Smith, what's your email?

Just got back from a fabulous 20-year high school reunion. Wow. For those whom I haven't already spammed, I put some photos up here.

Chris Smith, send me your email address! Blogger's "anonymous" posting feature doesn't allow replies.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I've been remiss in mentioning new postings at Toad a la Mode. There you go.


Forgot to source that "majority of Americans think Iraq was a bad idea" claim in the last post: here's the latest poll.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Be all you can be

Chris Hedges has a powerful, heartbreaking essay at A small sample:

I have felt the attraction of violence. I know its seductiveness, excitement and the powerful addictive narcotic it can become. The young soldiers, trained well enough to be disciplined but encouraged to maintain their naive adolescent belief in invulnerability, have in wartime more power at their fingertips than they will ever have again. They catapult from being minimum wage employees at places like Burger King, facing a life of dead-end jobs with little hope of health insurance and adequate benefits, to being part of, in the words of the Marines, "the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth." The disparity between what they were and what they have become is breathtaking and intoxicating. This intoxication is only heightened in wartime when all taboos are broken. Murder goes unpunished and often rewarded. The thrill of destruction fills their days with wild adrenaline highs, strange grotesque landscapes that are hallucinogenic, all accompanied by a sense of purpose and comradeship, overpowers the alienation many left behind. They become accustomed to killing, carrying out acts of slaughter with no more forethought than they take to relieve themselves. And the abuses committed against the helpless prisoners in Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo are not aberrations but the real face of war. In wartime all human beings become objects, objects either to gratify or destroy or both. And almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.

Hedges' point: we are only too willing to swallow the santized myth of war fed to us, and refuse to see the reality. But at least, at least, even with the thin gruel of patriotism being fed us on Iraq, a majority of Americans now say it was a bad idea. Too little, too late, perhaps, but when the next batch of photos breaks at the end of this month . . . who knows?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Paging Derek Soltes

Dude, what's your email address? Will you be at the reunion?

Summer reading

If you haven't been following Coingate in Ohio, let me direct your attention to the fabulous series of articles in the Toledo Blade. My personal favorite details GOP fundraiser (and Presidential "Pioneer") Tom Noe's ignominious collapse:

$10M to $12M missing from Noe's coin funds
Local dealer to face criminal charges, surrender passport

COLUMBUS — Federal and state authorities are pursuing criminal and civil charges against Tom Noe for allegedly misappropriating $10 million to $12 million from the state’s rare-coin investment.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said yesterday that he has “reason to believe” Mr. Noe, a prominent Toledo-area Republican fund-raiser and rare-coin dealer, has misappropriated “more than $10 million” in state assets.

“I have reason to believe it is more than just missing assets or lost assets or otherwise,” said Mr. O’Brien, a Republican. “I have reason to believe there is actual misappropriation of state funds involved ... I’m talking about conversion for personal use.”
It just gets better and better. In Texas, we have corrupt thugs who openly bully and buy their way into power. In Ohio, it seems, they lean more toward incompetent shysters who think $50 million in Worker's Comp funds is a petty cash jar they can pilfer from at will.

Makes you how much of this goes on elsewhere that isn't caught--the Blade got onto this totally by chance. They were initially only investigating the wisdom of investing state funds in such a risky venture.