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May 2005
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Posted May 29, 2005
Git along, little weeklies

Another shot was fired in the *yawn* war between Seattle's two leading free weekly papers. No, you knuckleheads, not the Little Nickel and the Auto Shopper: Seattle Weekly and The Stranger.

This time the shooter is The Stranger, and the target is Weekly editor Knute Berger. It's not ad hominem, but it's close. According to writers Josh Feit and Erica Barnett (Barnett, a former Weekly reporter, is taking potshots at her former boss), Berger has no business critiquing Seattle growth policies because he lives in Kirkland. As if Kirkland and Seattle have no impact on each other. If Berger is old Seattle, Lakeside-schooled, Lesser Seattle, then Feit & Barnett are anti-regional, urban dillentantes.

It's devolved into a poisonous (and pointless) battle for relevance. Boys & girls, please stop fighting and get along—you're BOTH equally irrelevant.

Maybe that's unfair. OK: equally mediocre.

Between ads for laser facelifts and boudoir photography, The Weekly tries to speak for longtime residents who are worried about being priced out of their homes, in a Bushconomy that is doing little to help the middle and lower-middle class keep up.

Whereas The Stranger—hey guys, density does not automatically equal "Smart Growth" (any more than density makes New York the Big Apple or Paris the City of Lights), it just means Crowded. Your vaunted Monorail may not provide any net benefits for the cost, just as Light Rail won't either (2 million saved car trips per year means nothing when there are millions of car trips in the Central Sound region every day).

And for the record, urban densification IS already occurring, in the form of in-fill by those neo-Craftsman townhouse, condo and megabloc apartment developments. And you know what? Most of them are nowhere near the future trains stations. "Dumb Growth."

Without legislation that would make driving more expensive, more urban development—even "transit-oriented" development—just breeds more car trips and congestion.

So time to separate land use and transit policies. An automated, on-demand, low marginal cost personal monorail network—reaching all urbanized parts of the metro area—would be a good start. It would mean every neighborhood could have modern rapid transit without having to be gentrified beyond recognition. Then land use policies could be decided on the basis of neighborhood character and desirable urban forms and usages—NOT on whether it is dense enough to justify installation of a train station.

Blarchive: When the editorial policy gets predictable, the predictable get a tongue stud (5/31/2004)

Issue 2: Elvis Costello's best album—Imperial Bedroom or Punch The Clock? Discuss.

M- m- m- My Retainer. Dear Mr. Gates: Since in all your wisdom you've seen fit to cut Ralph Reed loose, can I have his $20,000 a month and do absolutely nothing in return? Because that's what "on retainer" means, right? I won't do you any special favors, just like Reed didn't use his influence with the Justice Department, or the Commerce Department, or advise you about what to do about the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. Nope, just pocket the free money like it was manna from heaven. With absolutely no quid pro quo, no siree Bill.

"Magic Carts" (or, Every Day I Get in the Queue)

The hunt for runaway grocery carts

What an amusing article. The real question is why the Seattle city government is operating a program to retrieve shopping carts. Maybe if the big grocery chains weren't so eager to install automated check-out machines, they would still have enough employees to collect their inadequately secured private property. Can I get Mayor Horizontal to drop by and look for a rare book that I misplaced? It's probably worth 3 or 4 shopping carts.

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Posted May 27, 2005
Dear Leader
by Kim Jong Il
Link This

Dear Leader,
I wrote you recently about my relationship with the leader of a global superpower. Well things have gotten even worse. My country's newspaper of record got hold of one of our secret letters, and published it. Now everyone knows that while we were telling our respective electorates that we wanted to work things out, we were secretly planning to run off together and move into a Middle Eastern country. Now I'm on thin ice at home, and I'm probably going to have to move out. But my friend's electorate still claims it loves him, they don't want to know about him and me, "Stand By Your Man" and all that. What do I do now?
—Still Tired Of Nitwit Yankee, But Likes An International Relationship


Dear Still TONY, BLAIR: Let me give you the advice my late father gave me: Create an international incident by seizing one of his spyships. His type is usually extremely insecure about the size of his spyship fleet. Once you grab hold of his spyship, and squeeze, he'll start to behave. If that fails, isolate yourself politically, culturally and economically. Use your Caller ID, and then don't return his calls. Start paying for your own defense, then take yourself out to a nice airshow.

Dear Leader,
I want to be a Dear Leader someday too, maybe in 2008. This week I had the chance to complete my party's total domination of the legislative branch, and I blew it. I thought, "what would Dear Leader do?" And the answer came to me: "Go Nuclear!" So I did, I tried to go Nuclear! But 14 "moderates" ganged up on me and now I'm the laughingstock of the capital. Where did I go wrong?
—Dr. Bill


Dear Dr. Bill: I once tried the Nuclear Option, and the thing to keep in mind is that it's only good as a threat—you don't actually attempt to Go Nuclear. Because it's a no-win scenario every time. Your real problem is that you still have "moderates" running around free. How do you recognize a moderate? My father always said that they quack like a duck—remember that. My country dealt with moderates, with a program called No Child Left Un-reeducated. Your Northern Alaska sounds like the perfect site for a reeducation camp: cold, fresh air, nature, wildlife and (soon) oil rigs needing a steady supply of forced labor.

Blarchive: Dear Leader (Mar 8)
Smoking Gun memo (Times of London, May 1)

Overheard: "Just because you're 13 and past your bar mitzvah, it doesn't mean you don't have responsibilities."

Dept. of Hollywood Security. How is P2P file sharing a matter for Homeland Security? "Oh! Iran might try to send us another movie about voting!" Isn't P2P basically the equivalent of friends sharing videotapes? If so, I know some Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans who need to flee the country. Sites that charge for downloading using Bittorrent software are illegally profiting, but what about the many free sites? No one's making money off those—especially Hollywood, which I guess is the point.

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Posted May 25, 2005
Nothing to hide

To whom it may concern:

First of all, I just want to say that I think all of you in the National Security Apparatus are doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances. I remember those stories about how one agency's computers don't talk to other agencies' computers, and how you can't even do Internet searches. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't use Google at work. Hang in there!

Anyway, I know the whole Real ID thing is going to encounter massive resistance from across the political spectrum, so I thought you might appreciate that this citizen is fully on board with the concept. In fact, I am going to set an example by voluntarily reporting to you my movements and contacts. Here is my report for the past Saturday:

9:30a- Left house, shopped at Lowe's hardware (verify security cam tape LSEA252-12), purchased Made In China products (verify with debit V##############).
11:00a- Visited Souk grocery store on Pike Place. Purchased saffron from Pakistan (cash, verify bill ID #L12764527A). Arabic script on paper packet (no direct translation available). Saffron is a powdery substance used in cooking.
2:00p- Lunch, McMenimin's Dad Watson (booth 4). 'Reuben Kincaid' sandwich (verify with debit M##############).
3:45p- Shopped at Continental halal meat shop (lamb shanks, cash, verify bill ID #L76545598A). 'Halal' is not a political organization, it is the Muslim equivalent of kosher; they would appreciate no alarmist headlines concerning "the butcher of Aurora Avenue."
4:15p- Returned home (verify SDOT traffic cam N27, tape 050521).
4:40-7p- Worked in yard; backyard lawn destroyed by weeds from overgrown rental property next door (owner Mr. C. Kwan, immigration status unverified).
7-9p- Dinner (lamb shanks; Messina Hof of Texas cabernet sauvignon—hook 'em horns!).
10:30p- Sexual activity (church-approved practices).

Other subjects of topical interest:
Jennifer Wilbanks- Don't know her.
Mayor of Spokane- Don't know him.
Brad & Jen- That damn Angelina.
Filibuster- No thanks, I've already eaten.
Social Security Crisis- There's a crisis? Haven't seen anything about it lately.

I really think Real ID has possibilities. If people don't want to divulge personal information to get a drivers license, maybe a large number will give up driving and start riding bicycles, walking, or taking transit. Real ID= exercise, cleaner air, less traffic, less oil consumption... the impact could be far reaching.

Yours truly,
Mr_Blog

Speaking of transit, the Seattle city council has released a report on Mayor Horizontal's South Lake Union streetcar plan. It seems an estimated 30 to 35 people an hour are expected to ride the $48 million, 2.5 mile, retro-chic rail line. Oh, and it'll cost $1.5 million a year to operate. And another $4 million to set up a local business taxing district to raise the $25 million share which the private sector is supposed to contribute toward construction. $3 million is supposed to come from "naming rights."

Lessee... that adds up to $28 million, leaving $20 million to raise—although the Council says that $20 million is really $6 million. Where will that come from? Well, after you take away the private sector contribution, that only leaves... the public sector.

$48 million up front plus $1.5 million a year for 30-35 people an hour. Not much of a transit system, is it? That's because transit isn't the streetcar's job. No, its job is to use taxes to stimulate private redevelopment (gentrification) of the South Lake Union/Cascade neighborhood:

An appraiser hired by the city has estimated that the streetcar line would increase nearby property values by $70 million to $80 million. Source

And who stands to gain? Why, billionaire Paul Allen of course; he owns 58 acres in the neighborhood.

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Posted May 23, 2005
Beat until consistent

Gates: "World is failing billions"
"The world is failing billions of people," the Microsoft billionaire told the assemblage of health experts, policy-makers and foreign dignitaries. "There is a tragic inequity between the health of people in the developed world and the health of those in the rest of the world." Source

I wonder if Gates is concerned with the effect Republican policies are having on the health of people he is trying to help. On the one hand, he directs the lion's share of his philanthropy to disease prevention, only to cancel it out by making the majority of his political contributions to the GOP. Their boy-king Dubya puts forward regressive actions such as gag orders, and attempts to ban US government support for family planning overseas. And allows inferior medical care to continue here at home—the differential between developed and developing is lessening, and not in the good way.

And how about thousands upon thousands of Iraq civilian casualties resulting from our weapon sales to Saddam, and two wars? Because, y'know, those were preventable.

Rimasto Orfano: Emio Greco/PC at On The Boards (May 21). This Amsterdam-based company of three women and three men displayed steely, rippling, sinewy physiques as they slammed through a performance that evoked butoh, ballet, flamenco and tango. And at the end of the thrilling, sweaty 1H 45M they still appeared fully capable of kicking your scrawny ass out in the alley.

Emio Greco/PC
Body over mind
(advance)
Primal, graceful must-see
Random acts of deviation
Audience blog
(Seattle)

IDebunker. Thanks to The Generik Brand for this link to an extensive analysis of Creationists, their motivations, their war on Evolution using Intelligent Design—and how the rest of us can fight back:

Creationist fears, behaviors (Panda's Thumb)

Illuminating ancient texts with multispectral imaging.

Secrets of ancient papyrus fragments NPR
2nd renaissance?
LDS magazine
Oxyrhychus Papyri
Scientific American
Oxford Papyrology Lab
Oxford Papyrology Lab photos

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Posted May 20, 2005 | 0000-GMT
Calipari shooting: still muddled by Media Link This

The whole issue of the secure road to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), the one Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena says her car was on when she and Nicola Calipari were shot up by US troops, continues to fascinate. Few people were present at the incident, and one of them is dead, so you'd think a single, accurate account of events would be easy. You'd be wrong.

Despite being reported by Naomi Klein of The Nation, and despite Sgrena herself said the car took the secure road, the Tamestream Media® still reports the Italians took the main airport road, 'the most dangerous road on Earth.'

Even when mentioned, the secure road is treated like Sasquatch. In an article with no byline, the Christian Science Monitor on May 5 dismissed the "'secret' secure road"—merely because Sgrena didn't mention it in an email to the paper!

The Monitor article is accompanied by an AP graphic reconstructing the scene of the attack. What is interesting about it is that, like the official US report, the geography doesn't work.

The car is shown merging from "Route Vernon" onto "Route Irish." This matches the Army report.

But the location, marked in the graphic by a red box, is on the Airport's doorstep, in the US military's "Zone 5". In reality, Route Vernon (aka "Route Force") is an

"expressway in north-west Baghdad (Zone 28 section) from BIAP road [north] towards Taji [al Taji]." Source

The roads intersecting the airport road in Zone 5 are not expressways going toward Taji.

Therefore the conclusion is that Route Vernon doesn't enter Zone 5. The location that accurately matches the Army description is 4 miles to the east, the interchange at Al Firdaws in Zone 36. Still on the main airport road, only in a different place. Not the 'secret' road. Still wrong.

So what if they were on the secure road? What is gained (or concealed) by doubly mislocating the site in this way?

Blarchive: Questioning an underpinning of the US investigation

Troops in the War on Evolution. Sandeep Kaushik writes in The Stranger this week:

...it's hard to avoid seeing [Charismatic Christianity among young adults] as more than a little worrisome. In a country where the teaching of evolution is under sustained and growing assault--a 2004 Gallup poll showed that only 35 percent of Americans believe that evolution is a theory well supported by facts--and where the religious right is increasingly willing to use its growing political muscle to force science to conform to religious beliefs, or to influence social policies according to conservative Christian tenets, the basic worldview expressed by Shakina[.net] is troubling. [Shakina.net founder Salil] Jain and his cohorts do not have a political agenda, but he concedes to me that if the spiritual revival fostered by Shakina leads some Christians to express their faith in political activism, then that is just part of God's plan.

If anything, this sort of Christianity is a repudiation of the Enlightenment, which proposed that truth was not revealed but was to be found through the application of human reason. This new form of aggressive Christianity is predicated fundamentally on the idea that reason is a dead end, and that justification comes by faith alone. Monday evening... I press [Jain friend] James Hua on Shakina's social agenda. "Jesus loves everybody," he says when I ask him what he thinks of gays. "Our goal is to love people, we're not condemning people. However, that's not how God made people," he says. Source

Earlier: Hey, you got your Church on my Science (May 17)
Switch gears: Bill Moyers in Seattle: video (Realplayer)

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Posted May 18, 2005
We don't want the Smoking Gun to be a cloud of apathy

Today: Americans slow to notice Smoking Gun Memo
DowningStreetMemo.com

Or a smoking mountain:

Today: Mt St Helens eruption 25th anniversary
Future cloudy for USGS vulcanology

Mayor Horizontal goes Vertical:

Manhattan Project

Republicans on CPB Board recommend revisions to NPR schedule:

M-FSatSun
Morning Farm Report

Underfunded local programming

Talk of the Nation with Regis & Kelly

Clear Skies
with Terri Gross

A List of Screened & Approved Items to be Considered

The Dyan Cannon Show

The Motley Trump
SUV Talk

Exiled to France
with Rick Steves

Wait Wait Don't Mock Our Leader

This American Pro-Life

Red Prairie State Companion
with Norm Coleman
Whad'ya Don't Know with Michael Medved

Junk Food Splendid Table

Off The Media

Center, Right and Right

Sounds Top 40
with Nic Harcourt

Related: Bill Moyers in Seattle (Realaudio) Expires in about 3 weeks

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Posted May 17, 2005
Hey, you got your Church on my Science Link This
In which Mr_Blog coins a wildly popular new term

I don't object to individuals believing whatever they want, or if they espouse their belief to others.

I don't object to anyone Designing whatever theory they want, Intelligent or not.

What I do object to is organized groups of fundamentalist theocrats who take that theory and use it as a political wedge in their actual holy war against what was called "heresy" in simpler times (followed by actual burning in the town square), but what is now referred to as "secular humanism" and (GASP) "LIBeralism" (followed by figurative burning in the Tamestream Media®).

I don't care what the fundamentalists claim to want—ID and Evolution taught side by side—because the clear pattern of their movement from the mid 1970s to the present day is to achieve political dominance, for the purpose of making (they would say "taking back") the United States of America a "Christian Nation."

Just in the span of the current administration in the other Washington, we've seen—

:: a born-again president who once thought the job of the Executive Branch is to interpret the law (and maybe he still does);

:: granting of tax dollars to religious organizations;

:: churches allowed to retain their tax-exempt status despite engaging in political activity;

:: attempts to place the Ten Commandments (you know: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt... You shall have no other gods besides Me...") above other religions under US law, by physically placing them in courts;

:: de facto religious test for federal judicial appointments, combined with current attempts to undermine the Senate's Constitutional advise/consent role;

:: "Justice Sunday", basically a Focus On The Family Nuremberg rally, at which the current Senate majority leader was the featured speaker;

:: statements by Republican members of Congress tsk-tsking "activist" judges, and attempting to BLAME "judicial activism" for recent spate of courthouse violence.

And here in Blue Seattle, in Blue western Washington, we have an organization that by all appearances is pursuing a valid civic agenda—albeit a center-right one—with many things to be said in its favor, such as putting lids over Interstate 5 so as to reclaim a wide swath of Seattle now used just for driving.

The agenda of this Discovery Institute includes Technology, Democracy, Science, Culture, Bioethics, Economics and Justice. Americans may not agree on what to do about them, but they are all real issues that need to be discussed, with real problems that need to be addressed.

And yet there is one item that stands out like a sore thumb: "Intelligent Design."

Why THIS issue? Why NOW? If ID were just a minor backwater of scholarship it would be one thing. But Discovery is prominently featuring Stephen C. Meyer's pro-ID work (as well as those of Discovery's Center for Science and Culture Fellows) with no balance that I can see, except to present pro-Evolution views for the sole purpose of attacking them.

Discovery's mission is "to make a positive vision of the future practical... [with] ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty".

ID flies in the face of that mission. The ID "controversy" (distinguishing it from the actual academic work) is the creation (heh) of the fundamentalist hard-right, which is using it as a major wedge issue. Wedges are divisive, not positive. The controversy is not about scholarship or a free marketplace of ideas, it is fundamentalist theocrats waging war, and they want Evolution to lose.

I predict that promoting ID will bring Discovery nothing but trouble, generating inflammatory press from the right and left, and creating suspicions about its agenda—thereby detracting from whatever good it is attempting to do in the community.

Irony: Ever notice that Creationists seem to have no problem with Social Darwinism?

Also today: Norm Coleman is a mother...
...Maybe it's hemmorhoids

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Posted May 13, 2005
Just so we're clear on the Timeline

It's not like we didn't already know Dubya was lying, and the invasion of Iraq was premeditated from the earliest, pre-9/11 days of his rule (and confirmed by Paul O'Neill), but the Times of London's smoking gun memo serves as further confirmation.

Just so we're clear: the memo, by a foreign policy aide to Tony Blair, is minutes of a July 23, 2002 prime ministerial meeting:

:: A person named as "C" says he's talked to Washington. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

:: "C" also said the US was prepared to attack based on a cause of war ("casus belli") by Iraq. Which of course had not yet occurred--but clearly the attitude was that one could happen if needed!

:: "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity"... the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections."

:: "The Foreign Secretary said... It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action"

However, at this point in the summer of 2002 Bush was still building his case for war, acting at least publicly as though options were still being discussed with allies. While golfing on August 10, 2002, in response to a reporter's question about whether he saw Iraq as "the enemy" Dubya replied,

But as I've said in speech after speech, I've got a lot of tools at my disposal. And I've also said I am a deliberate person. And so I'm -- we're in the process of consulting not only with Congress... but with our friends and allies. And the consultation process is a positive part of really allowing people to fully understand our deep concerns about this man, his regime and his desires to have weapons of mass destruction.

And then when asked if Americans were prepared to accept military casualties in Iraq:

Well, I think that that presumes there's some kind of imminent war plan. As I said, I have no timetable.

July 23: determined to attack, and use the midterm elections to build support for an early 2003 start. August 10: no imminent war plan. Obviously, the latter statement is a big, fat, juicy, impeachable lie. Smoke is positively billowing out of the gun now.

Not that the mainstream media is running with the story. Search in Google News for the phrase "facts were being fixed around the policy," and there are 245 hits. That for a story now 13 days old. But search for the new story "john paul" sainthood benedict and there are already 1,430 hits. Ayala wendy's returns 3,820 articles. But Wilbanks still nets a whopping 6,660 stories, which may say something about who might be in control of what the media covers...

President Bush Discusses Iraq Waco, TX 8/10/02
Smoking Gun
Times of London

Bad case of loving you. Today's selected readings:

Left Behind
Bolton's Retreat
Jim West update: FBI involved; state AG in the wings

The Farce is strong with Podhoretz

Wingnut revisionism extends to the Clone Wars

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Posted May 11, 2005 0318GMT
Out with a whimper

The Sierra Club/Judicial Watch suit to force Montgomery Burns Dick Cheney to divulge the names of energy companies who had input on Bush energy policies is over, and it's a loss for the good guys.

Court Sides With Bush on Secrecy of Cheney Energy Panel
      The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held, in an 8-0 decision that reinforced the power of the executive branch, that Mr. Cheney does not have to disclose the names of energy industry officials he consulted in helping to formulate policy early in President Bush's first term.
...
      "Neither Judicial Watch nor the Sierra Club explicitly claimed that any nonfederal individual had a vote on the N.E.P.D.G. or had a veto over its decisions," the court held...
      The only people actually named to the energy development group were federal officials, the court noted, and only they signed the group's final report. The judges also brushed aside arguments that participation - "even influential participation"... made outsiders members of the group.
...
      The vice president's office said it was pleased...
      But the senior lawyer for the Sierra Club, David Bookbinder, said the issues raised in the lawsuit were "more relevant today than ever," given the Bush administration's pending energy legislation, which he called "an energy industry wish list." Source: NY Times, 5/10/2005

The court held what I've long felt about the case. Cheney and his "energy task force" may have been a sleazy, greedy, back-room feeding frenzy for Big Energy, but there was nothing illegal about it. A president gets to consult—or not consult—with whomever he wants (except as provided by law, such as administrative rulemaking and open-meeting statutes). The only thing I've never understood is why Cheney insisted on keeping the participants a secret— although the idea that the Energy Plan and the War Plan used the same map of Iraq is a seductive one.

What does Sierra/JW still hope to prove at this date? The Misadministration lied us into a war resulting in over 1600 casualties, does anyone think getting them to admit to doing deals with Chevron will cause them to feel shame? Better to invest resources in reversing the ANWR vote, and stopping expansion of offshore drilling. And how about campaigning for new mass transit technology that will get more people out of their cars?

If we don't like the results of this case—and I'm sure most who are paying $2.50 a gallon feel that way—the only ones we have to blame are the "majority" of voters who allowed themselves to be fooled into electing and reelecting the Shrub.

Also today (1126PST)--
Where Are They Now File: Dino still loses

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Posted May 10, 2005
And Barney's gonna sue

But before there was a Purple Revolution in Iraq or an Orange Revolution in Ukraine or a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, there was the Rose Revolution in Georgia.
—George W. Bush. Source: AP 5/10/2005

Purple Revolution??? How does that poorly organized, violence plagued, intimidation-ridden electoral disaster in Iraq earn the status of Tinky-Winky-colored revolution? Before we stipulate the facts, let's compare:

Orange Revolution (Ukraine) Widespread anger over a presidential runoff election rigged, Florida-style, led to nationwide protests, sit-ins and threats of general strikes by opposition supporters. A court-ordered revote was held with international observers, resulting in virtually problem-free, legally valid victory for the opposition's Viktor Yushchenko.
Cedar Revolution (Lebanon) The name was coined earlier this year by an optimistic US State Department official. The assassination this year of a popular Lebanese political figure led to a series of demonstrations and civic activism, resulting in resignation of the prime minister (accused by the opposition of complicity in the assassination) and Syria's reduction and planned full withdrawal of occupying forces. The situation is still in flux; there is disagreement as to whether anything has really changed, but a genuine popular political takeover still seems possible.
Rose Revolution (Republic of Georgia) Anger over rigged parliamentary elections led to widespread nonviolent civil acts of disobedience and anti-government demonstrations. Opposition supporters stormed the legislature as the illegitimate Parliament was being seated, forcing President Eduard Shevardnadze to flee in mid-speech. Unable to gain backing of the military, he was forced to resign.
American Revolution Enlightenment-influenced political and philosophical thought converged with popular resistance to British abuse/exploitation of the 13 colonies, leading to armed uprising and an 8-year military conflict. European powers did not actively intervene on the side of the rebels until 1779-80.
"Purple Revolution" World's superpower is hit by Genuinely Evil Terrorist but lets him get away. Superpower fabricates evidence to frame Unredeemedly Sleazy Dictator of Iraq as G.E.T's accomplice, invades Iraq and captures U.S.D.   Superpower protects the oil resources while letting civil infrastructure go to hell in a handbasket. Remnants of U.S.D's forces combine with new arrivals who support G.E.T. and create Vietnam-esque violent insurgency. Superpower installs puppet government which calls for National Assembly election, even though there is no census, no voter rolls, and insurgency threatens safety of voters and security of polling places. Elections are held anyway: candidates are anonymous, voters aren't anonymous (clearly marked by purple thumbs), and Sunnis stage a boycott. The UN not involved. Election monitors stay in Jordan. Turnout was 58%.

It's appropriate that the initials of Purple Revolution are "PR"; Dubya and Karl Rove excel at PR.

Also today:

Franken in Seattle: Enthusiastic welcome
Just in time for the Mayoral election: Seattle ready to spend $1M on streets
Shades of Cronenberg: OB-GYN, twin brother sued for sexual misconduct

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Posted May 9, 2005
Don't Know Much About Revisionist History

And here I thought we could relax for a few days while Bush is safely out of the country. But it seems that Dubya couldn't let Victory in Europe Day observances pass without taking another swipe at Franklin D. Roosevelt, Great President.

Having spent his 60 day Lies Across America Tour 2005 spitting on FDR's Social Security legacy, Dubya now flicks manure at Roosevelt's wartime leadership:

Saturday, during a speech to Latvian leaders, the U.S. President ... suggested that U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt may have misjudged Soviet designs on vast swaths of Eastern Europe at the 1945 Yalta conference. He compared U.S. complicity in the parcelling of postwar Europe to the prewar appeasement of Adolf Hitler. Source

Which in Dubya's (picture) book makes FDR, perhaps the greatest president of the 20th century, Neville Chamberlain. The Every Child Left Behind president thinks he can get away with this unpatriotic smear because he is counting on most Americans not knowing the historical situation at the end of the European phase of WWII:

:: The Soviets were our Allies.
:: The Soviets attacked Germany from the east, the US and UK attacked from the west.
:: The Allied pincer closed in central Europe, and on VE Day the US and UK (okay, AND France) controlled western Europe, Russia the eastern half.
:: There was still fighting in the Pacific.

Eastern Europe wasn't ours to parcel out, or "give away" as so many bashers accuse FDR of doing. This is not to apologize for Stalin's later crimes against humanity, but rather a recognition of the geopolitical realities at that moment in 1945. What was Roosevelt supposed to do—turn on our ally and demand they not exercise power in their sphere of influence (while the US meddles freely in Central America)? Turn on them and start a new war (when we still had Japan to deal with)? Should Truman have nuked millions of Russians before they got The Bomb?

The answer is we couldn't tell Russia it couldn't act in its own back yard: the war was still on, we needed the alliance, and we had to proceed as though that alliance would continue after the war. But Bush has no problem pretending otherwise by glossing over the details. Presidenting is about workin' hard on the big issues, let others handle details!

Meanwhile, the hard work of turning Iraq into Bush's very own version of the Baltic States goes on. And on and on and on.

Are you a President who wants to know more about Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Ask your Librarian of Congress for Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Kathleen Kudlinski (208 pages; ages 8-12; review; Aladdin Publishing, "Childhood of Famous Americans" series).

Not that I have anything against them, but why do artists seem to be the only profession routinely singled out for assistance as a special class in saving or establishing affordable housing? Seattle has a history of worrying about its artists' living and working situations, and now the city government appears to be starting yet another effort.

I don't object to artists having affordable places to live and work, if it's a civic priority that's okey-dokey. But why don't our elected officials express the same, high-profile, mediagenic concern for people in other vital professions? Schoolteachers. Home care workers. Social workers. People working for nonprofit organizations. People who are just plain poor.

Just asking. After all, artists aren't the only ones affected by the gentrification process that starts "when artists move into inexpensive housing or studio space... that eventually prices them out" of the area.

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Posted May 6, 2005
Ballmer reboots gay-rights stand

Microsoft again supports gay rights legislation
Microsoft will formally support efforts to pass gay rights legislation in Washington state, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told employees today in an e-mail...
      "Obviously, the Washington state legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it," he said.
...
      Ballmer's mail acknowledged that today's decision was influenced by input from employees concerned about Microsoft's commitment to diversity issues. He also said the company will improve the way it communicates its legislative positions in the future.
      "After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Ballmer said. Source

Real Sleazy ID. If you're a hacker, you're going to love a centralized national identification card—one-stop identity theft! The right wing is all for HR 418,* the new so-called "Real ID" proposal, and O The Hypocrisy: Google the subject judiciously and see that just as many right wingers as left have opposed National ID in the last few years (see examples 1, 2, 3, 4).

* Republicans voted 219-8 in favor of passage; Democrats 42-152 against. To look up who voted for "Real ID":
    Go to thomas.loc.gov
    Bill Search: HR418
    Click on HR 418.EH
    Click on Bill Summary & Status file
    Click on All Congressional Actions with Amendments
    Scroll to end and click on Roll no.31

Also today: News less important than the Runaway Bride:

Long Overdue: Impeachment Time! MI-6 memo; who is C?: "C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." (same as Conyers inquiry, May 3)

MI-6 smoking gun memo

And finally: Bush proposal— 8-member Presidential commission could kill any Federal program
Tony Blair's Ohio:
journalists say they were denied right to vote

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Posted May 5, 2005
Oh, but he isn't gay

Republican Jim West, former conservative state senator and current mayor of Spokane, WA, has been outed by the Spokesman-Review newspaper.

The Spokesman-Review said West offered gifts, favors and a City Hall internship over the Web site Gay.com to someone he believed was 18 but who was actually a forensic computer expert working for the newspaper.
      West, who has opposed gay rights, abortion rights and teenage sex, said he had had online relationships in the past year through Gay.com and considers them private.
...
      Concerning his sexual orientation, "I wouldn't characterize me as 'gay,' " West said.
      He made no similar assertion about bisexuality when asked about his online aliases, "Cobra82nd" and "RightBi-Guy."
      "The Gay.com thing has only been, I can't recall, but it hasn't been very long," he said. "I can't tell you why I go there, to tell you the truth ... curiosity, confused, whatever, I don't know." Source

I would feel sorry for West, if it weren't for an added dimension beyond mere ideological hypocrisy: there are accusations of molestation.

Two men have accused Mayor James E. West of molesting them when they were boys and he was a sheriff's deputy and Boy Scout leader, ...West, 54, said the accounts... were "flat lies."
...
"I didn't abuse them. I don't know these people. I didn't abuse anybody, and I didn't have sex with anybody under 18, ever, woman or man," the mayor said. Source

We certainly hope the molestation charges aren't true. What we don't need more of is the perception that right wing religious Republican homophobes are really just child molesters seeking cover.

The complete S-R investigation
Also today: Who gets to be on the enforcement team?
Bond. Different Bond

Hutcherson: "Join in or get run over by me"

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Posted May 4, 2005
Today's assigned readings

Just a few quickies:

Microsoft caved in to anti-gay activist: More evidence emerges
Franken interview: Seattle saved Air America
About science: I got your transitional evolutionary fossil right here
About ignorance: Wreck of the HMS Beagle

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Posted May 3, 2005
Calipari/Sgrena: Questioning an
Underpinning of the US Investigation
Link This

Remember this scoop from Naomi Klein? The mainstream media depiction of the Italians' car braving the Baghdad airport road 'shooting gallery' failed to report this: According to Giuliana Sgrena, they were on a different road. Naomi Klein:

ėShe was on a completely different road that I actually didn't know existed. It's a secured road that you can only enter through the Green Zone and is reserved exclusively for ambassadors and top military officials." Source

Luciana Bohne:

The [driver] didn't take the "most dangerous highway on earth." He took the alternative route. "Did you recognize the road?" asked the Corriere della Sera to Sgrena (Interview, 11 March).
     "Yes, because I know that road. It is the alternative road to the airport, the one that passes through the Green Zone, controlled by the Americans. It bypasses the inhabited zones. It's a road I traveled on several times."
    "Did you meet checkpoints?"
    "Not a one. We were never stopped."Source

At the time I made a mental bookmark of this. Now that the US has released its investigation report on the incident, I was interested in seeing whether it would dispel the media confusion over the roads. The US report, as reported by Corriere della Sera (unclassified version):

"This mission took place at a southbound on-ramp from Route Vernon (also known as Route Force on MNF-I graphics) onto westbound Route Irish, the road to BIAP [Baghdad International Airport]. The intersection of these two routes has been designated as Checkpoint 541. For purposes of this report, the position will be referred to as Blocking Position 541 (BP 541).

2.Brief Description of the Incident
      On the evening of 4 March 2005, personnel of XX Company of XX Infantry (attached to XX Brigade Combat Team, XX Division), were patrolling Route Irish, the road linking downtown Baghdad with BIAP. Seven of those Soldiers were then assigned the mission of establishing and manning a Blocking Position (BP) on the southbound on-ramp off Route Vernon to westbound Route Irish. They were to man the BP until relieved, which was anticipated to be after a convoy transporting the U.S. Ambassador to Camp Victory had passed and arrived at its destination.
      The Soldiers established the BP by approximately 1930 hours and began executing their mission. At approximately 2050 hours, the car carrying Mr. Calipari, XX, and Ms. Sgrena, traveling southbound on Route Vernon, approached the on-ramp to enter westbound Route Irish." Source

"Route Irish, the road to BIAP." Is that the 'shooting gallery' road, or Sgrena's secured road?

A security brief by the risk management firm DME describes Route Vernon/Force as an "expressway in north-west Baghdad (Zone 28 section) from BIAP road towards Taji." Examining this map at GlobalSecurity.org, Route Vernon/Force must be the red route running north-to-south from Al-Mawsil Road, past the "28" zone number, to the interchange just south of Al Firdaws.

Route Irish, "the road linking downtown Baghdad with BIAP," can only be the MAIN road, "Matar Sadam Al-Duwali (Airport) Road." There are three other east-west routes between downtown and the airport, but Abu Ghraib Expressway is not a direct link to the airport, nor are the other two, which in addition do not appear to have ramped interchanges where they cross Route Force/Vernon.

So the Al Firdaws interchange is where the US locates BP541, the crossing of the Taji expressway and the main airport road. But Sgrena knows the difference, and she knew they were on the alternate road. Furthermore, if she entered the secure road in the Green Zone, why does the US place them driving south on Route Force/Vernon, which does not enter the Green Zone?

If the American report is wrong about the road, the easiest-to-determine fact in the case, where else is it wrong?

The Italian government investigation does not go out of its way to contest the US description of the location, instead focusing on what it says was stress among our soldiers, and errors in our military's traffic control methods. However, the road where the shooting occurred is characterized as "unlit." You'd expect the main airport highway would have lighting; or maybe it has lights but there was no power.

What, then, was Calipari & Sgrena's real route? The key again is "It bypasses the inhabited zones." To travel from the Green Zone to the airport avoiding populated areas (tan on the map), I submit there is only one good candidate: exit the west end of the central Green Zone on the Qadisiya Expressway, then head south on Hilla Road between zones 41 and 25, west below zones 40, 42 and 43, then north at zone 44.

Also today: Italy disputes US report
Berlusconi softened report
March 8: IT foreign minister contradicts US account
Lead up to invasion: Conyers seeks inquiry into secret US-UK plan
Travelscam®: Unwanted publicity for Preston Gates

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Posted May 2, 2005
Gee, They Liked It When It Was Richard Gere and Julia

We interrupt scheduled blogging for a special report. >From Mr_Blog Studios in New York, here is Tim Snide.

This is the Slam Book®, I'm Tim Snide.

The happy conclusion of the Jennifer Wilbanks disappearance is bad news for FOX, which has been been forced to cancel three highly anticipated television projects associated with the Georgia woman.

The problem for FOX is that the three projects presumed Wilbanks's murder and arrest of her fiance, John Mason. Cancelled were a 3-hour made-for-television movie which was to have served as a pilot for a weekly series, "Jennifer: The Search," already greenlighted as a limited-run series of 22 episodes starring Kristin Davis ("Sex In The City").

Also scrapped is a planned spinoff to be produced by FOX News, "The Trial of John Mason: America Can't Help Watching." It will be replaced on the schedule with repeats of "The Scott Peterson Trial."

Ripple effect of the cancellations reaches all the way to Wilbanks's hometown of Duluth, GA, where the three projects were to have been filmed on location. Community members who contributed countless hours to the exhaustive four-day search for her body had expected hundreds of TV-related jobs to be created in the community, as well as increased tourism. Wilbanks's return from Albuquerque means all that is gone, and some are calling for her to be prosecuted, or at the very least invitations to sit in the studio audience of VH-1's new reality series, "Jennifer & John's Wedding."

I don't give that one a chance of getting past episode 2, 'The Rehearsal Dinner.'

One media feeding frenzy ends, and another begins. I'm Tim Snide, and that was the Slam Book®.

Also today: Bye-Bye Mandate, Realignment

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