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Showing posts from September, 2005

How to Succeed

Kevin Drum finds this oddity in General Casey's testimony:
Asked whether the insurgency has worsened, Casey said it has not expanded geographically or numerically, "to the extent we can know that." But he noted that current "levels of violence are above norms," exceeding 500 attacks a week. "I'll tell you that levels of violence are a lagging indicator of success," he added So the more successful we are this month, the higher the level of violence next month? Or maybe his brain just exploded from all the cognitive dissonance.

Judy Talks. Judy Walks.

David Johnston and Douglas Jehl in the NYT:
Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to testify in the C.I.A. leak case, was released from a Virginia detention center this afternoon after she and her lawyers reached an agreement with a federal prosecutor to testify before a grand jury investigating the matter, the paper's publisher and executive editor said.

Ms. Miller was freed after spending more than 12 weeks in jail, during which she refused to cooperate with the criminal inquiry. Her decision to testify came after she obtained what she described as a waiver offered "voluntarily and personally" by a source who said she was no longer bound by any pledge of confidentiality she had made to him. She said the source had made clear that he genuinely wanted her to testify.

That source was I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, according to people who have been officially briefed on the case. Very intere…

A Message from my Congressman

An excerpt from a message from my Congressman:
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce today issued the following statement regarding the indictment and temporary resignation of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) as House Majority Leader:

"The charges against Congressman DeLay have been brought by a District Attorney who has an extensive track record of prosecuting opponents for the sheer political effect. . ."
The full text of my reply.
Bullshit!

More Where He Came From

Not to worry, the Republican party is in no danger of running out of crooks to be majority leader.

Arctic Warming

The NYT and everybody else talk about the latest Arctic warming results. The Arctic has been heating up fast, and most think greenhouse gases are implicated. Fortunately for the doubters, James Inhoffe, Senator from the State of Confusion, has found a science fiction writer to set the record straight. (via Wonkette and Brad Delong.)

I wonder if Lubos is available.

Hammer Time

Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum and all the usual suspects have stories on Tom Delay's troubles and the resulting convulsions in GOP House leadership. Nobody seems to have the details that (apparently) implicate Delay.

New Award?

Brad Delong is the scorekeeper in this year's hard fought "Stupidest Man Alive" contest. One of his recent posts inclines me to believe we might need a new category - call it the Jonathan Swift "There is none so blind . . . " SMA category. So how about it, Brad? His post hints that David Frum is a good candidate:
Frum: [M]uch of the trouble is the president’s own fault. He chose to appoint Michael Brown to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He chose to spend lavishly on highways and farmers and a new prescription drug benefit at the same time as he was fighting a global war on terror. And of course it is he who remains the final decision-maker on national security....

[A]s one who... still critically supports him, I find the sudden surge of public disenchantment with Mr Bush very difficult to understand. If you were looking for a diligent manager of the office of the presidency, a close student of public policy, a careful balancer of risks and benef…

Murder One

It must have been just an imaginary shudder I thought went through Jack Abramoff today. He is under indictment for wire fraud and other crimes, but sometimes having options is not that big a comfort. Florida, for example, gives the condemned the choice of lethal injection or the electric chair.

This point must have become a bit more immediate with the arrest for murder and conspiracy of three men linked to the Gambino crime family. James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt have laid this and much else out in a very nice Washington Post Story.

The chain of events got underway when Abramoff and Kidnan bought Santa Cruz Casinos from (the late) Gus Boulis. The murdered man was a former partner who had been complaining that Jack and his business partner (and old College Republican buddy) Adan Kidan had cheated him out of several million dollars. The problem for the partners is that a nice fat ($240,000) money trail leads from their enterprise to the alleged perps. Their troubles are not thei…

R'ithmetic

The LA Times has discovered why Americans can't do math. In Why Johnny can't calculate David Klein and Jennifer Marple blame those who teach the teachers.
The root cause of the LAUSD's shortcomings in math is its failure to place its best math teachers in charge of math policies. Cronyism substitutes for knowledge of subject matter. The district should systematically require those in authority over math policies to pass rigorous math tests and interviews at the chalkboard before a panel of university mathematicians and veteran math teachers.
They also complain that the curriculum committe ignored the advice of, among others, Caltech mathematicians. I personally would treat that recommndation a bit lightly, since I have it on good authority that most of those guys can't even teach their own 800 Math SAT students.

The item stirring some controversy in the region of the blogosphere that I read concerns fractional division as repeated subtraction. Here's Kevin Drum&#…

Here's a Shocker!

RIP Serge Lang

Serge Lang, noted mathematician and contrarian, and author of 40 mathematics books, including the influential Algebra, died Sept 12 at the age of 78. The NYT has this story.

Delphic Prophecy

Croesus, the legendairily wealthy King of Lydia consulted the Oracle of Delphi before attacking Persia, and according to Herodotus received the answer "if you do, you will destroy a great empire." (Adapted from theWikipedia) Croesus considered this a favorable omen, and attacked, resulting in the destruction of a great empire (his).

George Bush set his sights on smaller game, but the same result appears to loom. He has already destroyed our reputation. Our Army is still intact, but showing lots of strain. The economy looks all but doomed.

Satan's Junior Legion

So how does an up and coming brown shirt get his start these days? Kevin Drum of Political Animal has a note on College Republicans and so does Wonkette. Both link to and quote from The New Republic article (free but login required).

It seems that this Junior GOP is not only incorporated as a 527, and generously funded, but also benfits from the advice of distinguished alumni like Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, and Grover Nordquist. Jack Abramoff is another, but he's a bit preoccupied lately. Nordquist's advice: "There are no rules in a knife fight."

They practice the basics on each other, forged letters, accusations of homosexuality, the like. Wonkette's favorite is this:
The College Republicans sent out their solicitations on the letterhead of such nonexistent groups as "Republican Headquarters 2004" and "Republican Elections Committee." Next, it helps to fill the missives with as much emotion as a Wagnerian opera. "Apparently the Democrat…

Special Prosecutor

There has been an eerie silence from the Plamegate prosecutor lately, and if I understand correctly, his grand jury's term is up at the end of the month. It will certainly be anti-climatic if he closes shop with no result.

On the other hand, a few key indictments, with maybe some unindicted co-conspirators, might bring Bush's increasingly shaky house of lies tumbling down. Don't forget that Delay and Frist also have potential criminal exposure.

Extrication

Regular readers, if any, will know that I'm deeply pessimistic about the Bush-Rumsfeld policy in Iraq, in any of its incarnations. So what can we do?

Option I: Get the hell out, and let the Devil take the hindmost. This is what we ultimately did in Vietnam, and the result was less than catastrophic, for us and for Asia. Unfortunate side effects would be that our enemies would be greatly emboldened, our tattered prestige tattered even more, and our Middle Eastern Allies would be at great risk. Probably even more seriously, there would almost certainly be a civil war, a civil war that would likely bring in several other nations, with a likelyhood of making Iran the regional superpower. There would be a good chance that we could kiss Middle East oil goodbye, with catastrophic economic effects.

Option II: If I could figure out what the Bushies were actually trying to accomplish, that would be my Option II. We are turning the country into a vast anti-American terrorist training c…

Peaceniks for Bush

I've been watching a singularly inept anti-war demonstration on C-SPAN , one that could hardly have been more counterproductive if it had been organized by Karl Rove - and perhaps he had his hand in it. If you want to make a case against the war, you need to speak to the American people have NOT yet made up their minds. A few of the speakers, especially the mothers of soldiers living and dead, made that case simply and movingly.

Somebody, though, thought it was a good idea to include any old left-wing nutjob or political opportunist (yeah, I was thinking of you, Ralph) with an axe to grind. I can almost guarantee that the dreadlocked anti-Israel lefties didn't win any net converts. Ditto for those who thought this was a forum to advance lesbian rights.

Republicans are never so stupid about politics. Their speakers are as meticulously selected as fashion models, and no message deviation is tolerated.

Any nostalgia I might have for the sixties is completely eclipsed by my di…

Swagger

Jim Vandehei and Peter Baker have a story in tomorrow's Washington Post entitled President Struggles to Regain His Pre-Hurricane Swagger. They see a loss of self confidence, at least among the WH staff.

The cheerleaders are still on the bus though. They claim the President is undaunted by adversity - sort of like the Monty Python knight undeterred by the progressive loss of all his limbs. Presidential consultant and friend Mark Mckinnon says:
. . .if anything Bush thrives under the pressure. "I've never seen the president burdened by the presidency," he said. "He's built to deal with really big events. It's in his DNA."
Too bad always screwing up is also in that DNA.

A Policy of Torture

This New York Times article provides yet more testimony and evidence that torture in Iraq and Afghanistan was policy. One of many shameful aspects of this is the despicable behavior of senior military commanders and their civiliian supervisors in sending low ranking enlistees to prison for crimes those senior officials authored.

It's very disturbing to me how easily the civilians at the top were able to corrupt senior military officers and get them to betray their duty and their soldiers. So far only one general officer, the guy who investigated Abu Ghraib, has put patriotism and duty before career.

Thanks Again GW

Josh Marshall has good article on how the Bushies are working to turn Katrina into another major graft opportunity. He's got a nice intro too:For all of us who criticize from the sidelines, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the sort of tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts that the White House puts into into screwing the middle class and abandoning those displaced and uprooted by Katrina.

Rove the Fixer?

Be sure to catch R. Jeffrey Smith WaPo story on the Abramoff-Rove connection.
Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).
Flanigan is Bush's nominee to be Deputy Attorney General.

And
Rove's personal assistant at the time, Susan Ralston, formerly worked as Abramoff's secretary.Rove doesn't recall anything about it. I know that gives me a lot of confidence.

Bad Words

George Carlin made himself famous with the "seven dirty words" that couldn't be said on television. American political discourse has it own set of "bad words," the utterance of which marks one as nutjob, naif, or at least an uncouth person. Most famous among them are the "F" and "C" words.

Naturally then, when Andrew Sullivan, conservative blogger and former GW love slave, felt an "F" coming on, he resorted to a slightly more delicate circumlocution: An arresting analysis of the Bush administration's governing "philosophy." More like Spain and Italy in the 1930s than anything resembling Anglo-American conservatism.

Rita: Is Texas Screwed?

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Rita has now outdone her older sister Katrina - 898 mb central pressure, the 3rd lowest ever for an Atlantic Hurricane. Galveston is very near the bullseye of her projected path. It also seems possible that Rita will stall out over Texas and dump up to 30 inches of rain.

Note the rapidly expanding wind field at right.

A conservative Republican scientist said to me today "It's got to be global warming."

The experts aren't convinced, but I find the storms a lot more suggestive than a cold winter day or two in Boston in Boston.

Heat of Confusion

I wanted to reply in some detail to Lumo's comment on my last post, so I'm doing so in a new post. Lumo's comments and my responses:Lumo – “ok, let me talk to you as to a student. You can't say that anything in the actual numbers has proved any point that Connolley has ever made because such a conclusion is nothing else than faulty logic.”
Student – The student, who is flattered to be addressed as such even though he had a PhD before Lumo was born, disagrees. To review:

Connor: “. . . the Arctic sea ice, the northern hemisphere's major "heat sink" that moderates climatic extremes.“
Connolley: “No. The arctic sea ice *isn't* a major heat sink . . .”
My numbers showed that the seasonal heat transfer to and from the Northern hemisphere (NH) oceans is more than 25 times that to and from the Arctic sea ice. The major NH climate moderating heat sink is the ocean.

Lumo - The main quantitative calculation has shown that the truth was closer to me by 3 orders of…

Commie Climatology

Some recent action in the Republican War on Science, Climatology Edition, with Lubos Motl leading the cavalry.

Climatologist William Connolley had a comment on Steve Connors’ article on climate change. This provoked a response, and ultimately, a declaration of war from noted physics blogger Lubos Motl. Here’s the original comment’s that provided Lumo’s starting point:

Connor: “. . . the Arctic sea ice, the northern hemisphere's major "heat sink" that moderates climatic extremes.“

Connolley: “No. The arctic sea ice *isn't* a major heat sink . . .”

Note that the context here is “the northern hemisphere,” since Lumo will conveniently try to change the subject later. The arctic sea Ice has an areal extent that averages about 10^7 km^2. The surface area of the northern hemisphere is about 2.5 x 10^8 km^2, of which roughly 1.5 x 10^8 km^2 is ocean. The wintertime production of sea ice in the arctic averages about 1.3 m in thickness(P&O, pg 362), so the overall volume…

S S Titanic: Sleeping with the Fishes

I thought I ought to check out what the other side is reading, just in case Kevin, Brad, Josh, et. al. are giving me a biased view of the world. Episode the First.

The editor of The American Daily asks: "Why does the "Left" encourage/support Muslim Extremists?" You may not be surprised to find he thinks he knows the answers:
1) The Muslim Extremists want the USA to fail, so does the Left-Left.

2) The Left -Left loves to control the populace, so do the Muslim Extremists.

3) The Left-Left is stupid enough to think they will exist after the Muslim Extremist takeover and the Muslim Extremists are smart enough to know how dumb the Left-Left folks are.


And he knows what to do about it:
However the "Left-Left" of the "democrat party" are a serious threat to the existance(sic) of the USA and deserve to be visited by some social and political extermination crews.
Is this a great country or what? The author claims to have worked on the Space Telescope for …

S. S. Titanic: Supper

Riverbend has been reading her proposed new constitution , but it's a bit complicated and contradictory, since even the Arabic versions don't agree with each other, and the English version is different from them. Unfortunately she doesn't read Kurdish, so who knows about that.

She also remembers 9/11/01:
I remember almost immediately, Western media began conjecturing on which Islamic group it could have been. I remember hoping it wasn’t Muslims or Arabs. I remember feeling that way not just because of the thousands of victims, but because I sensed that we’d suffer in Iraq. We’d be made to suffer for something we weren’t responsible for.

E. looked at me wide-eyed that day and asked the inevitable question, “How long do you think before they bomb us?”

“But it wasn’t us. It can’t be us…” I rationalized.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s all they need.”


Four years later, the war on terror is no closer to being won, but some have lost:
It has been four years today. How does it feel four ye…

SS Titanic: Sunday Brunch

Lubos Motl has a post up with an interesting quote from Tony Blair:
"...My thinking has changed in the past three or four years. No country is going to cut its growth. [China and India] are not going to start negotiating another treaty like Kyoto. What countries will do is work together to develop science and technology. … There is no way that we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology to do it. ... How do we move forward, post-Kyoto? It can only be done by the major players coming together and pooling their resources, to find their way to come together." This is first of all an admission of the obvious - an anti-pollution treaty can't work when the biggest polluters refuse to play. The guy who chopped down the last tree on Easter Island might have made a similar remark. Perhaps he hoped that some technological advance would intervene to save the island from ecological catastrophe, or, more likely, he, like Bush and Blair, was a sk…

Breakfast on the Titanic

Juan Cole has a post up this morning entitled Security Situation in Baghdad Sinking like the Titanic. He quotes a contact in Bagdad:
The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. According to his contact, the insurgency now controls most parts of Bagdad, except for Sadr City, the power base of our onetime nemesis, Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army.

More from Bagdad:
A few minutes ago Jaafari came on television to tell everyone in Baghdad to stay home. Can't wait for his next bold move. . .

Notwithstanding Al-Hayat's claim that Zarqawi and the Sunni resistance are not together, my street listeners claim otherwise. . .

More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing . . . It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all . . .

Recently, a group from State and the military par…

Carpetbagging II

Anyone interested in the details of Bush's plan to convert the Hurricane disaster into yet another opportunity to rape and pillage the environment, the Federal treasury, and the American worker while enriching his cronies needs to check out Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo. He has the details and is helping organize resistance.

Leo Bosner

Leo Bosner is a FEMA official whose job it is to keep track of crises and alert his bosses to the need for action. He was on NPR Morning Edition today talking about the urgent messages he was sending to Brown and Chertoff three days before Katrina struck. The messages were sent to Chertoff's and Brown's emails and Blackberries. Their response: nothing. The fire alarm sounded but the firemen slept and vacationed on.

It's pretty obvious that any civil servant getting on the radio to provide compelling evidence against his political bosses, especially in the supremely vindictive Bush era, has sacrificed his career, but the American people owe him a debt of gratitude for letting some of the truth out.

What in the hell was Chertoff thinking? Or why was he so evidently not thinking?

Bush is easy to understand. The small-minded and nasty tyrant who surrounds himself with sychophants terrified to tell him the truth is an all-to-familiar character type. But Chertoff looked lik…

A Brookie I can Almost Like

David Brooks has a humorous column on the Roberts hearings and it's actually funny:
John Roberts Jr. Aw, shucks. This has been a humbling experience, Mr. Chairman. To think that a boy from an exclusive prep school and Harvard Law could grow up and be nominated for the Supreme Court...And this:
Tom Coburn Well put, Judge Roberts. Yet when I think of the polarization that still divides this great nation ... waaaahhhh ... waaaahhhh. (Senator Coburn breaks down weeping.)

Jeff Sessions This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don't write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.
More of that and I could almost learn to like Brooks. Too bad he's disappearing behind this nasty subscription wall, though Paul Krugman is a few zillion times the loss.

Brad DeLong Listens to the Wise Men

Of economics, and guess what. They don't know shit either.
Those who analyzed or forecast the U.S. domestic macroeconomy agreed that a steep decline in the value of the dollar sometime in the next five years was overwhelmingly likely, but by and large they did not think that such a decline would pose a big problem for the U.S. economy. (They agreed that it might well pose a very big problem for some of America's trading partners.) By contrast, those who analyzed or forecast the international economy as a whole were typically terrified by the prospect of a steep (30% or more, perhaps much more) decline in the value of the dollar: they thought a severe U.S. recession was a definite possibility, and that the situation would require exceptionally skillful handling to keep from becoming a serious economic problem.

It's a nice article, and I strongly recommend it - but you won't likely come away with any better prediction of the future.

My own guess: not so good.

Pack Your Carpet Bag Karl, There's Money to be Made

At any rate, Josh Marshall thinks so.
As we suggested last night, and as President Bush has now put us on notice, the Gulf Coast reconstruction effort is going to be run as a patronage and political operation.

That's not spin or hyperbole. They're saying it themselves.

The president has put Karl Rove in charge of the reconstruction, with a budget of a couple hundred billion dollars.Maybe it's time to stop relaxing and trying to enjoy this particular ...This is a time when the country needs an opposition party. Every Democrat should be hitting on this. Take the politics out of the reconstruction effort. He put his chief spin-doctor in charge of the biggest reconstruction and refugee crisis the country's probably ever faced.Come to think of it I predicted this myself, nine days ago.

Incompetent or Worse?

Kevin Drum has now posted a long list of FEMA's failures in New Orleans. One oddity that struck me in Kevin's list and others was the number of times FEMA actively interfered with efforts to get aid to the people in New Orleans. They prevented aid trucks from unloading, they failed to give permission for helicopters to enter into the rescue, they wasted the time of firefighters trying to deploy to New Orleans, they even cut the emergency communications of some local officials, and they put large red tape obstacles in the path of those bringing aid. Could all these things have happened by accident?

Well maybe. Regular readers may remember my earlier post concerning the scandal of the unburied bodies, which, it turns out, were being saved for a contract with Bush and Allbaugh cronies ISC. Given that, how far fetched is it to believe that Brown and crew were delaying aid to save some contracts for other cronies?

We need an independent investigation, and we need it now. A s…

David Brooks: Aviator and Avatar

I watched The Aviator last night. The dramatic high point of the movie occurs when Howard Hughes, already living in seclusion as a naked wretch paralyzed by his phobias and other demons, is summoned to oppear before a Congressional committee. Juan Tripe, the head of Pan American Airways, and his flunky, Senator Brewster, want to destroy Hughes so that Pan Am can be guaranteed a monopoly on overseas air travel. Hughes, revived by the crisis, pulls himself together with a little help from Ava Gardner and routs his enemies with a brilliant performance before the committee.

Similarly, the trajedy of New Orleans managed to wake David Brooks into the real world long enough to condemn the incompetence. Like Hughes awakening, it was brief. In today's New York Times column he can no longer remember the gross incompetence and venality that produced the disaster. The things that went wrong went wrong because government is inherently incompetent. His demented ideological blinders conven…

Carrion Men

... this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1

One of the seemingly inexplicable obscenities of the New Orleans catastrophe has been the bodies lying dead on the street day after day. Now, thanks to Josh Marshall, we have a plausible and horrifying explanation. Although there were volunteer morticians from all over the country willing to go to NO, it seems that it took a while for FEMA to get in place a contract for Service Corporation International (SCI), another Houston-based corporation, which bills itself as the "dominant leader in the North American death care industry."Unsurprisingly, this Houston based company has longstanding political ties to Bush, and to former FEMA director and Bush chief of staff Joe Allbaugh (Michael Brown's college roomate, and the guy who hired him). SCI was also the central subject of the so-called funeralgate scandal during Bush's time as Texas Governor. Another …

Unlikely Sequels

I know that it's considered a terrible faux pas among the artistically correct, but I'm quite fond of Andrew Lloyd-Weber musicals. I especially like Sunset Boulevard. To continue this stream of consciousness, it seems to me that there are a lot of good stories out there that don't have sequels. In the case of Sunset Boulevard, there would seem to be some substantial obstacles to a sequel, like the demise of one central character and imminent incarceration of another. These odds have not daunted many previous authors.

The Illiad ends with the slaughter of all the Trojan men, but Vergil didn't let this stop Aeneas. Sherlock Holmes survived his death and the dislike of his author to triumph again.

It's true that sequels are rarely very good, but there are some outstanding counterexamples. Most often cited are Huckleberry Finn and The New Testament, but how about The Lord of the Rings, and Seven Pillars of Wisdom? Not to mention Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Redux o…

Bagdad on the Bayou

Little Tommy Friedman in today's NYT, approvingly quoting Michael Mandelbaum:
"The U.S. military presence in Iraq today is like the dikes and levees that were protecting New Orleans from the flood. The equivalent of the flood for Iraq is a civil war between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The U.S. military right now is holding that back."
A more precise analogy would have called the US military presence Iraq's Hurricane Katrina X 100.

He goes on to advise the Kurds and Shia that they should get their constituional act together. Good advice. I imagine they pay as much attention to Tommy as he does to me.

What went Wrong?

The NYT has a very administration friendly version of what went wrong here. It's written by Eric Lipton, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, but I'd be surprised if they didn't get some coaching from their Bush sources.

This NYT editorial is less of a soft touch: It's not really all that surprising that the officials who run FEMA are stressing that all-important emergency response function: the public relations campaign. As it turns out, that's all they really have experience at doing.

Michael Brown was made the director after he was asked to resign from the International Arabian Horse Association, and the other top officials at FEMA don't exactly have impressive résumés in emergency management either. The Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday that neither the acting deputy director, Patrick Rhode, nor the acting deputy chief of staff, Brooks Altshuler, came to FEMA with any previous experience in disaster management. Ditto for Scott Morris, the third in command un…

Genes and Brains

The subject of genes and the brain is a kind of third rail in human biology. Any results become targets for racists who use them to promote their theories and for many of my fellow liberals who denounce the very idea of such research. But it's still too important to ignore.

Bruce T Lahn and colleagues have some papers in Science discussing recent genetic changes in genes that affect brain size. The Science papers are behind a subscription wall, but many of the points are summarized in Nicolas Wade's NY Times article. They considered some genes in a group which, in mutated form, produce microencephaly (very small brains). They focussed on two of these genes that have alleles (variants) that appear to have arisen recently and spread widely, implying that they have a strong selective advantage.

Besides the connection with microencephaly, there is another hint that the genes could be connected to brain size and intelligence. In earlier work, Lahn showed that a group of 20 bra…

Coverup: Phase II

Republicans have decided that an independent investigation modelled after the 9/11 commission would be too risky, so they will manage the coverup by themselves.

(via Josh Marshall)

Coverup Report

The coverup is in full swing. Check out Josh Marshall:
At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story.
And this from Kevin Drum, including this quote:At the National Guard checkpoint, they are under orders to turn away all media. All of the reporters are turning they’re TV trucks around."
from Bob Brigham

Impeach Bush.

Do it now!
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Do it now!

Tom Friedman Still Doesn't Quite Get It

Friedman on Bush, Osama and Katrina: :
On the day after 9/11, I was in Jerusalem and was interviewed by Israeli TV. The reporter asked me, "Do you think the Bush administration is up to responding to this attack?" As best I can recall, I answered: "Absolutely. One thing I can assure you about these guys is that they know how to pull the trigger."
So the country gave Bush a blank check, and Tommy, my boy, you were one of his ardent pitchmen. But now you aren't happy about what he's done domestically.
If the Bush-Cheney team seemed to be the right guys to deal with Osama, they seem exactly the wrong guys to deal with Katrina - and all the rot and misplaced priorities it's exposed here at home. You've got the last part right, TF, but in case you didn't notice it, bin Laden is still on the loose, and natural causes seem more likely to do him in than W is. These guys know how to pull the trigger, yes. Unfortunately, they never learned how to aim. …

Coming up Roses

In President Nero's world, every disaster is an opportunity, especially an opportunity for some war/disaster profiteering. Watch closely as the government starts spending 150 billion dollars in reconstruction aid. Rove figures he can buy a lot of friends for 150 billion of your dollars.

Emergency Response in Bushworld

The Salt Lake Tribune has a story on 1400 firefighters, recruited to aid in disaster relief, sent to Atlanta: As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta. FEMA was training them to do public relations - handing out FEMA flyers. Finally though, some got their first real assignment: But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
(via Josh Marshall)
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Imperial Capitalists

Juan Cole, one of the best informed and most astute Iraq observers, has an article today which includes this shot at the true believers in President Nero's war and their wavering faith: These bellicose intellectuals--a band of Wilsonian idealists, cutthroat imperial capitalists, Trotskyites bereft of a cause, and neo-patriots traumatized by Sept. 11 are now increasingly divided and full of mutual recriminations. Let the record show that this Pig may be bellicose, but has never cut a throat.

74%

According to a new ABC poll, 74% of Republicans approve of Bush's handling of the Katrina disaster, and only 47% of all Americans disapprove.

Via Kevin Drum, the Army Corps of Engineers knew of the Levee breach early Monday, and FEMA has been busy preventing aid from getting to New Orleans.

At what point does incompetence shade into genocide?

Pots & Kettles

Reading a blogger we know castigating those who would use the hurricane to flog their favorite ideologies. Natuarally, he uses the occassion to flog his favorite ideologies. My outrage spigots are pretty much empty though.

Love thy Neighbor

An AP story in my local paper quotes a Richard Gibbs of Gulfport, Mississipi:I say burn the bridges and let 'em all rot there. We're suffering over here too, but we're not killing each other.It's pretty hard not to wish him a long, miserable wait, but I think we need to remember that Rove, Bush, Haley Barbour, the Faux News gang and the other usual suspects are trying their hardest to portray the NO victims as undeserving animals. Their current scam is the same old refrain: turn American against American to exploit the wedge. I doubt if any traitor has ever given more aid and comfort to America's enemies than this gang.

And the Good News Keeps Coming

From the Houston Chronicle: Halliburton hired for storm cleanup.

via Josh Marshall

Liar! Liar!

When Michael Chertoff was appointed to preside over Homeland Security I actually got the impression that he might be a stand up guy - certainly an improvement over his hapless and somewhat buffoonish predecessor. Unfortunately, events have proven him an incompetent, lying piece of political crap. See, e.g. CNN here.

(via Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.)

Rudy Rudy Rudy Rudy

Conservative half wits are starting to moon over Rudy Giuliani's stout leadership in the wake of 9/11. Exactly what was it he did once he figured out that his command post was destroyed? Essentially all the victims were already dead. No critical threat to the rest of the population actually existed.

The failures in New Orleans were manifold: 1) failure to prepare (Rudy flunks that one too - the failure of the firemen's radios killed dozens or hundreds.) 2) Failure to act quickly to aid survivors (since no one, or almost no one, survived the towers collapse, this wasn't a problem for Rudy), 3) Failure to even look like they gave a damn - Rudy wins this one hands down, 4) A steady parade of ignorant and dishonest statements from Brown, Chertoff, and Bush - I'll give Rudy this one too, but once again, for him, since there was nothing to be done, not doing much didn't matter.

Like Bush and Louisiana, Rudy was not prepared for the calamity. He has a much better excuse…

Imagine

"Heck of a job Brownie" George Bush congratulating Michael Brown on the great job he had done managing the New Orleans and Gulf Coast disaster.

No one could have imagined that a man who had failed miserably at his previous job of "as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association" might prove less than capable at managing the greatest natural disaster in American history, or at least no one utterly lacking a brain could have imagined it.

Kevin Drum has some details.

Shame

The outrage that has consumed me for the last five days is gradually being replaced by shame and despair. How could our country have sunk so low? How could the American people have elected this Nero of a President who parties on while thousands of our citizens drown?

Maureen Dowd says it better here.
Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in "the great city" of N'Awlins. He was clearly moved. "You know, I'm going to fly out of here in a minute," he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, "but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen." Out of the cameras' range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal.

Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could…

Off the Mass Shell

In a rational world, President Bush would start by ordering Chertoff to fire, or preferably shoot, Michael Brown. After that, he should fire Chertoff, and resign.

In Bushworld, it seems certain that Brown and Chertoff will get the Medal of Freedom, and that Bush will appoint a panel of partisan hacks to do a coverup.

Since the government won't do an honest investigation, somebody else should.

A news consortium? Do any of them have the guts?

Bye Bye, BlackHole?

Einstein didn't believe in black holes, and neither did Oppenheimer. A new paper today, http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0509007, looks to me like a possible confirmation of their intuition, if it's correct. Andreas Aste and Dirk Trautman find that:

A test particle falling into a classical black hole crosses the event horizon and ends up in the singularity within finite eigentime. In the ‘more realistic’ case of a ‘classical’ evaporating black hole, an observer falling onto a black hole observes a sudden evaporation of the hole. This illustrates the fact that the discussion of the classical process commonly found in the literature may become obsolete when the black hole has a finite lifetime...
The description of the evaporating black-hole is the semi-classical Hawking-Unruh description, so that the real physics near the horizon is of course not understood, but I found the result highly suggestive. Also suggestive is this recent paper http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0508048 by Christia…

Why do they Shoot at Rescue Convoys?

I don't know the answer to this question, but after reading this Los Angeles Times story, I have a theory. It's the story of a heroic group of firefighters who rescued many from drowning only to have to abandon them on isolated patches of dry ground where no further help came. The climactic mission was to rescue doctors and patients from a hospital. Along the way they passed hundreds of desperate people, begging for water, food, and rescue, but they needed to keep rolling. Eventually they were stopped by a human wall across the road, and fled. Mothers were cradling dead babies, or dying children - people were dying by the roadside, but their mission was elsewhere. Is it then so strange that some desperate people would shoot as potential aid rolled right by them?

Not to me.

An NPR reporter told of watching a young woman dying in front of her of asthma, while heavily armed national guardsmen stood around, focussed on their mission - keeping order. She begged the guardmen …

Faith Based Impeachment

From NPR today: A tabletop exercise, "Hurricane Pam" was conducted this year where they considered the worst case scenario for New Orleans. They determined that there were 112,000 households in NO that had no transportation. How would these people evacuate? They assumed that the "faith based community" would pick up the slack. The Bush administration has now had four years since 9/11 to figure out how to cope with large scale disasters. They've spent tens (or hundreds) of billions and the best they can do is "God will provide?"

"No one could have anticipated that the levees would be breached." - GW this AM.

"No one could have imagined that terrorists would fly planes into the World Trade Center." - Condeleeza Rice

Can anybody in the Bush administration imagine what will happen when peak oil hits, and gas goes up to $6.00/gal permanently? I doubt it.

Can they imagine what happens when we have offended so many of our allies th…

Incompetence: Not a Bug but a Feature

Kevin Drum. has links and comments outlining how the Bush administration's deliberate gutting of the Federal Emergency Management Administration was inspired by conservative philosophy. This story predicted just the present type of disaster a year ago. By ContrastIn the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby, said James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director under President Clinton.President Bush this morning: "No could have imagined that the levees would be breached."

Condi, a year or so ago: "No one could have imagined that terrorists would fly planes into buildings."

Unfortunately, the world is full of things not dreamt of in their philosophy.