"This will be known as the year macho politics failed – mainly because it was macho politics by marshmallow men."
- During the Napoleonic Wars, the poppy drew attention as the mysterious flower that bloomed over the graves of fallen soldiers.
- In the 20th Century, the poppy again was widely noticed after soils in France and Belgium became rich in lime from rubble during the First World War. The little red flowers flourished around the graves of the war dead as they had 100 years earlier.
- In 1915, Guelph, Ontario native John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian Forces Artillery, recorded this phenomenon in his famous poem In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
In the US poppies are handed out for donations by the American Legion Auxiliary.
I vote for point.
Exclusive: Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
Well OK I'm just jumping in here but after all they're a weekly so it'll be a week yet before they have an opportunity to clarify that headline for themselves - when they say "exclusive" they mean exclusive for "news" magazine having four-letter names that start with T and end with E. The story also appears in The Nation, in a whole bunch of newspapers, and has been all over the blogs for about a week.
(TIMES ONLINE) - Competing for space on the newsstands with siliconed starlets, muscular football players and the cats of Rome later this month will be a new calendar: 14 full-colour photographs of the Pope in leisurely poses.
At least he keeps his dress on.
(NYTimes) - “We have to give ourselves a good honest scrub about what is working and what is not working, what are the impediments to progress and what should we change about the way we are doing it to make sure that we get to the objective that we set for ourselves,” Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview on the CBS “Early Show.”
Pace says military is "taking a hard look" at the situation in Iraq.
Maybe they've decided a soft look doesn't work.
Hundreds to compete for rock, paper, scissors title
TORONTO (Reuters) - Top players from around the globe will gather in Toronto this weekend to compete for a C$10,000 ($8,840) prize and the title of world champion.
LONDON (AP) - A 22-year-old man suffered internal injuries after lighting a small firecracker he had inserted into his buttocks, paramedics said Thursday. The incident took place Sunday, when Britain celebrated Bonfire Night, traditionally marked with fireworks to celebrate the Guy Fawkes' gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament in the 17th century.
Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.
You can find copies of the VoteHere lobbying forms here: http://sopr.senate.gov/cgi-win/m_opr_viewer.exe?DoFn=0 ...
VoteHere was a company shilling cryptographic solutions and filled with NSA types (another director was Admiral Bill Owens, another crony of Rummy, Perle and Wolfowitz). For some reason this company claims it was unable to prevent itself from being hacked. In this alleged hack, VoteHere claims that someone stole their source code....
VoteHere never sold any voting machines that I can find, but apparently did set up some deals to embed its cryptography into some voting systems. We found memos in the Diebold trash about VoteHere's crypto-crap, and Maryland Director of Elections Linda Lamone shows up in VoteHere-related letters. Sequoia Voting Systems signed an agreement with VoteHere, but its not clear to me whether they ever did anything about it.
(NYTimes) - In a rare move, Microsoft said yesterday that it had agreed to pay a percentage of the sales of its new portable media player to the Universal Music Group....
“Each of these devices is used to store unpaid-for material. This way, on top of the material people do pay for, the record companies are getting paid on the devices storing the copied music.”
(Says record executive David Geffen. Emphasis mine.)
So then. People who buy Zunes (Microsoft's upcoming attempt at being iPod) will be assumed to be music "pirates." Pay a tax for it. And presumably get no price break on Universal music in the bargain.
Sound good to you?
WALL STREET JOURNAL WASHINGTON WIRE - There's another potential problem for those touch-screen voting machines that millions of Americans used on Tuesday: It's tough to recount their votes....
The backup memory records the same data as the memory card, moreover. That means that any glitch will be recorded the same way in both memories. Some voters complained on Election Day of a software glitch called vote jumping, which occurs when a vote for one candidate jumps to that of another. If that happened, and a voter didn't correct it, the wrong vote would show up on both tallies....
Most election offices don't have the technical skill to retrieve the screen shots, and most vendors don't allow them access, claiming the software is a trade secret.
Welcome to the party, WSJ. Turn off the lights when you leave.
(BOSTON GLOBE) - Looking to become a major player in the Boston market quickly, New York-based Citigroup has purchased the naming rights to the Wang Center for the Performing Arts for about $34 million.
A Massachusetts company, Wang was a powerhouse in the computer industry before the IBM PC came along. From Wikipedia:
Wang Laboratories was a computer company founded in 1951 by Dr. An Wang and Dr. G. Y. Chu. The company was successively headquartered in Cambridge (1954-1963), Tewksbury (1963-1976) and Lowell, Massachusetts (1976-1997). At its peak in the 1980s, it had revenues of $3 billion/year and employed over 30,000 people.
Wang is best known for having introduced word processing to the corporate world and an early PC DOS word processor, Multimate, was essentially a clone of the Wang word processor's interface.
(RAW STORY) - Conservative activist Richard Viguerie has released a statement that blasts the GOP's Congressional leadership in the wake of the loss of both the House and Senate.
"Every single member of the Republican leadership in the House should be replaced," says Viguerie. "They have failed the conservatives who put them in office, and they have failed the people of this country."...
"This election," Viguerie said, "was also a referendum on the so-called 'neoconservatives' -- the Big Government Republicans who took us into a nation-building war while they busted the budget and enriched Big Business and its K Street lobbyists."
"But we were too freaking stupid to figure this out two years ago," he failed to add.
Watch them splash.
I've turned off comment moderation yet again - I never actually moderated anything anyway except egregious spam - and turned on that word trick thing, where you see a little picture of some letters and numbers and then type them in to a box. I want to see if that's enough to keep the craZies away.
NEW YORK (AP) - Shares in military contractors plunged Wednesday after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned midday, causing uncertainty about the future of some Pentagon programs ahead of the fiscal 2008 defense budget.
And by the way, now's a good time to fill up on gas.
Rainfall records were set Monday across Western Washington, including 8.22 inches at Stampede Pass in the Cascade Mountains. That station broke an all-time rain record of 7.29 inches set on Nov. 19, 1962.
New records for Monday's date included 3.29 inches at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and 4.31 inches at Olympia Airport. A record temperature of 61 degrees was set in Seattle on Monday, beating the 1997 record of 60 degrees, the Weather Service said.
Guess so. All along the Washington coast, it seems. Some guy from Packwood, in the southwest part of the state, reports the Cowlitz River, rising, looked "like chocolate milk." To a Seattlite (Is that right? Seattlite? Seatlonian?) that'd be like a latte, only darker.
If I recall correctly from something I read last night, a margin of less than 10,000 triggers an automatic recount in Virginia. Which makes it likely the final result in Virginia will be a time in coming.
I suppose arresting him and shipping him off to Gitmo would be too much to hope for.
The new nominee is former CIA Director Robert Gates, a figure from the Iran-Contra era. From Wikipedia:
Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, Charles E. Allen, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the contras.2 Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard Kerr. The issue was whether Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with Allen in October.
Could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Deliberately not telling the truth. Claimed not to have remembered.
Sounds like he'll fit right in.
Meanwhile Ohio's Second District - that would be Cincinnati and environs - re-elected Jean Schmidt, the one with the wacky flag sweater.
In fact there are 195 districts - as things stand now, with 13 still undecided - representing nearly 45% of the population, willing to send Republicans to Congress, even after the devastation the Rs have visited upon our country and its Constitution - after Iraq, after Katrina, after the torture and the secret prisons and the warrantless domestic evesdropping, after more than 750 presidential "signing statements," after more corruption and downright lawlessness in Washington than I've seen, myself, in more than half a century of watching politics. If that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Listening to candidates debate may not be the best way of guessing who will win an election....
Moreover, co-author Jesse Shapiro of the University of Chicago said: "Hearing what they say make you worse at predicting."
Pollsters, on the other hand, did a somewhat better job this time around. The Senate widget that's appeared in the sidebar these past few weeks wound up at 51 Ds and 49 Rs, which is what will be the case if Ds pick up both Montana and Virginia. Currently they're running ahead by hairline margins in both states, with some kind of recounting thing occurring in Montana and Virginia forced into a recount by state law. I wouldn't bet on either one quite yet myself. And even if they both do wind up in the D column whent he smoke clears, there's always Lieberman.
As to the House, well my advice is if you're a D celebrate early and celebrate often, because it won't last long. IMHO everything, but everything that goes wrong for the Rs in the next two years will be the fault of the House Ds, and you're in for two years of serious bashing before we all go to the polls in '08. Two years, in which the Rs will attempt to transfer all their failings, going all the way back to Nixon, to the vengeful, spiteful, extremist Ds. Pretty it will not be.
In fact, when it comes to deploying its Executive power, which is dear to Bush's understanding of the presidency, the President's team has been planning for what one strategist describes as "a cataclysmic fight to the death" over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is "going to assert that power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."
- The Next Hurrah
(MYWAY) - After 24 years at the same pier on Manhattan's West Side, the warship that survived five Japanese kamikaze attacks began inching backward out of its berth, but the tugs moved it only about 15 feet before its giant propellers jammed in the thick mud. The decommissioned war ship no longer has engines of its own.
WASHINGTON --Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will not be allowed to use a memory expert at his perjury and obstruction trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday, blocking a key tactic in Libby's defense strategy.
Libby, who is accused of lying to investigators in the CIA leak case, wanted an expert to testify that memory is unreliable, especially during times of stress.
I can't remember squat. And I don't need an expert to say so, either - hey, anybody who knows me will do. Imagine the possibilities.
Williams, Russert, Brokaw ready for big night
Sorry to be such a spoilsport, but my own opinion is that election returns should be embargoed for 48 hours and then released at the same time, nationwide. A two-day wait would make no difference at all to the national fortune, be endurable by all but the most crazed political junkies, and give everybody time to get the vote counted right. Releasing all the totals at the same time would prevent returns in the East from affecting returns in the West. And the whole arrangement would spare us all a lot of truly bad TV.
That said, I'll probably find a TV and watch for a little while myself, and I'll certainly be checking the Internets from time to time. With that in mind, here's a cheat sheet (I don't vouch for its accuracy in every detail but it seems to make a certain amount of sense) for interpreting the results.
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES) - The Bears (7-1) were good enough to escape one six-turnover performance this season, but the Dolphins (2-6) proved, if anything, that they're not the Cardinals. This one wasn't all on quarterback Rex Grossman, either, although he was downright awful, completing 18 of 42 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions -- one returned for a touchdown by Jason Taylor -- and a fumble.
Alas. But then of course the only team to beat the Bears in their last Super Bowl year was Miami. So the season's not quite over yet.
“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”
Attributed to T.S. Eliot.
(Harry Shearer) - I know what my rooting interest is: I want my hearings. It's been twenty years since Iran-Contra, and we are due. I want people raising their right hands and swearing to tell the truth, and then lying their asses off. I want gory details. I want the boring details....
Perhaps, as the hearings unfold and perjury is discovered, Administration miscreants will stand boldly on the Capitol steps and tell the cameras, "I didn't lie to the Committee, but I did buy some meth."
Shearer's excellent radio program, "Le Show," is available as a free podcast from Audible.com or in streaming RealAudio from Shearer's web site.
"Microsoft has admitted that the Windows operating system in use in Maryland's Diebold voting systems is subject to at least 75,000 known exploits," Spoonamore told us. "The unredacted version [of the SAIC report] reveals that none of them have been defended against in these Diebold machines."
SAIC is the Scientific Applications International Corporation, which Maryland commissioned in 2003 to study its voting machines. The SAIC report, publically available until yesterday only in a heavily redacted version, has become in the electoral world as the Pentagon Papers of E-Voting. BRAD BLOG has more, in horrible yellow on green.
(TPM Muckraker.com) - In at least 53 competitive House races, the National Republican Campaign Committee has launched hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls, known as "robo calls."....
(Talking Points Memo) - What we're seeing is an apparent coordinated effort from the NRCC -- the House GOP committee -- to place calls that appear to be from the local Democratic candidate and then automatically call the same number back as many as seven or eight times each time the caller hang-ups. If the caller listens to the whole message it goes on to bash the Democratic candidate. But if the caller hangs up prematurely, the computer calls right back. Hang-ups are the achilles heal of robo-calls. So this seems to be an attempt to cover for that weakness by making those who hang up think the Democratic candidate is basically harassing them with phone calls. The GOP wins either way.
(HUFFPO) - The U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue.
Early in WWII Japanese naval officers played a war game that envisioned encountering a large American fleet near Midway Island. In the game, senior admirals played the Japanese side while junior officers played the American role. The junior officers attacked the Japanese fleet with aircraft and had managed to sink several capital ships before the older admirals cried foul. No way, they said. Couldn't happen. The game umpires agreed and the sunk ships were returned to the game, enabling the Japanese fleet to win.
When very nearly the same scenario played out for real the American fleet attacked by air and the sunk ships stayed sunk.
TICONDEROGA, N.Y. -- Twin screws will begin to turn in a rented metal hopper sometime Monday, pulling little nuggets of ground-up vehicle tires onto a conveyor belt at the International Paper Co. mill beside Lake Champlain.
The tire chips will be mixed with bark and wood chips. Pneumatic tubes will suck the mixed fuel to the top of the plant's six-story powerhouse, where the fuel will be blown into the boiler. The chips will ignite and burn during the fall toward the grates far below.
International Paper's long-planned, long-disputed test of used-tire fuel will have begun.
"The real culprit in all this [Iraq] is Wolfowitz," Chalabi says, referring to his erstwhile backer, the former deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz. "They chickened out. The Pentagon guys chickened out."
Chalabi still considers Wolfowitz a friend, so he proceeds carefully. America's big mistake, Chalabi maintains, was in failing to step out of the way after Hussein's downfall and let the Iraqis take charge. The Iraqis, not the Americans, should have been allowed to take over immediately - the people who knew the country, who spoke the language and, most important, who could take responsibility for the chaos that was unfolding in the streets. An Iraqi government could have acted harshly, even brutally, to regain control of the place, and the Iraqis would have been without a foreigner to blame. They would have appreciated the firm hand. There would have been no guerrilla insurgency or, if there was, a small one that the new Iraqi government could have ferreted out and crushed on its own. An Iraqi leadership would have brought Moktada al-Sadr, the populist cleric, into the government and house-trained him. The Americans, in all likelihood, could have gone home. They certainly would have been home by now.
Which was, no doubt, Chalabi's plan all along - kick some Iraqi ass, they'll be grateful. And now that we're doing away with the old Saddam we'll need to find ourselves a new one before we can bring the troops home.
The common sentiment that runs through neocon protestations these days is, more or less, they wouldn't have started it if they'd known how poorly it would turn out, which is the exit line of nearly all history's losers.