Archive for June, 2006


SCOTUS gets another one wrong

June 29, 2006

With regard to the Supreme Court ruling striking down Vermont’s campaign finance law:

“If money is speech, why can’t I recite the Edda at Safeway to pay for my groceries?”

(Hat tip to Aleta S. of Salon Tabletalk.)


Vampire malaria fighting

June 17, 2006

I’ve just learned that over on dailyKos, one hekabolos runs a scrumptious weekly diary called Science Spider Friday. This week, the guest of honor is the jumping spiderEvarca cilicivora, a beastie from East Africa who specializes in mammalian blood.

Now, jumping spiders are small and wouldn’t be able to break human skin with their jaws. So they can’t drink human blood directly. They ply their trade by hunting down mosquitoes, but they will smell the difference between the ones that are empty and the females that have just taken a blood meal, feeding only on the freshly engorged. As predators of the carriers of malaria, they qualify as beneficial vampires.

More detail (and pics) at the link.


Fobbit holes on parade

June 16, 2006

Be vewy, vewy quiet… we’re hunting fobbit holes.

George Bush never tires of reciting the mantra, “As they stand up, we’ll stand down.” But he doesn’t expect them to stand up for some decades to come, as he demonstrates by authorizing the construction of a dozen permanent military bases around Iraq.

Friends Committee on National Legislation has served up a web page with a handy map of the dozen bases built or under construction. Mouse over the “x” to get additional text information on each little GI town.


Reporters, too, have the right to remain silent

June 15, 2006

All the reporters at Gitmo were tossed out yesterday, per Rummy’s orders, in the wake of the triple suicide by inmates. Their sin appears to have been writing up not only Admiral Harris’s spin, but also the reactions of the detainees’ lawyers. Harris notoriously declared, “I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of assymetrical warfare waged against us.” One wonders whether the neocons, in a brilliant tactical coup, will now retaliate with their own act of warfare against Al Qaeda, by committing mass suicide themselves?

Editor & Publisher reports that the rebuffed news services are neither happy nor impressed. In the interpretation of some, the summary ejection smacks of panic. My interpretation? Seeing as how Rummy’s “Enemy” – that is to say, civil libertarians and what remains of the free press – has the howitzers of truth on its side, and the neocons have only the popguns of lies, secrecy, and repression on theirs, they find themselves enmeshed in an asymmetrical conflict. And so the poor dears must resort to whatever poor weapons are available to them.


The Tice testimony: a damp squib?

June 15, 2006

Russell Tice delivered his testimony to a select handful of members of the House Armed Services Committee. He says he told them “everything he knows”; the testimony was given in closed session, and they are sharing none of it with the class.

For some while the House Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, in the persons of its chair, Christopher Shays (R-CT), and its ranking member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), has tried to get the same debriefing. The NSA is balking, withholding permission, and refusing to say why. Think Progress on June 6 (yes, I’m playing catchup here), cited CongressDaily:

Tice said his information is different from the terrorist surveillance program that President Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts last month that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. Because he worked on special access programs, however, it has not been clear on Capitol Hill which committees have jurisdiction to debrief him. Shays and Kucinich gave the NSA until Friday to explain any legal reason why they cannot interview him. But that deadline passed without a response, and a subcommittee aide today called the missed deadline troubling.

Shays and Kucinich had originally asked the NSA to give them a reason by May 26, but the agency asked for an extension until June 9.

If NSA refuses to allow Congress to do its job, Tice cannot presumably speak to the press to get the word out, since his own phones are certainly tapped (without a warrant), and so are the phones of the most influential reporters (without a warrant).

The Bush regime has pitched the Fourth Amendment, requiring warrants for searches and seizures, out the window. Others are following behind it. Used to be that “You have the right to remain silent” was a clause of the Fifth Amendment. These days, it seems to be turning into the substance of the First as well.



June 13, 2006

Eight straight days without a television, a net connection, or a newspaper has left me feeling dazed and confused. You mean the all-purpose bogeyman Zarqawi actually existed in the first place? Karl Rove is not going to be Fitzed after all? The HPV vaccine was approved without a murmur? The attempt to wrongfoot Ahmedinejad led to a rightfooting? The GOP surprised everybody by winning a by-election in Cunningham’s massively Republican district? The Iraqi government-in-exile in Baghdad actually finished naming a cabinet?

My head is whirling. How did I ever manage to keep drinking from this firehose?

I’m sure I’ll be oriented in a day or two.

Meanwhile, my lifetime total of redwinged blackbirds identified rose by a factor of fifty in one week. That’s got to count for something. What do you mean, it’s cheating if you do it by going to Iowa?

I’ll say only this about Zarqawi. His passing is (sadly temporary) good news for Iraq. But it’s likely to be bad news for the occupation. And both for the same reason: it will tend to return the energies of the insurgents from sectarian killing to attacking soldiers and cops. Wahabbist intolerance had been helping the new governmnent by giving the insurgency a bad name; now the “coalition forces” are going to have to win their propaganda victories inch by bloody inch.


The wrong alien invasion

June 3, 2006

Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman figured that if only they could get Congress and the media squawking loud enough that we are being invaded by Mexicans, no one will notice that all the organs of our government have been seized by Ferengi.

So far it’s working.