Saturday, December 10, 2005

Two good editorials

A pair of excellent editorials today, one in the NYTimes and one in the San Antonio Express-News.

The NYTimes explains why torture is bad aside from just being illegal and immoral. It has been demonstrated many times over that it produces bad information as well.

The Express-News editors get it right on the Texas redistricting scandal.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tortured reasoning

Funny they didn't mention this earlier...

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.
The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

Bad policies beget bad intelligence which begets bad justifications for a bad war....
But wait! Let's not say it's a "bad war." Rather, it is the wrong war fought at the wrong time and led by incompentent and corrupt officials who did not know what they were getting into and therefore planned poorly for it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ann Coulter IS smarter than you

I don't like Ann Coulter. I think she is arrogant, mean and contemptible. But I also think that is part of her shtick and she plays it up as part of her persona.

Nevertheless, I wish these student groups would just let the woman talk and quit giving her all the extra publicity.
By booing and shouting her down and not allowing her to speak at these campus events they are just making her more sympathetic and making themselves and their cause less so.

As for her reported statement that she is smarter than her audience, I would have to agree. At least at the time and place when she is speaking she can easily demonstrate that point by noting that she is being paid to be there and her audience is not. So who is smarter?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tom DeLay, meet Tom Foley

The Hammer is apparently being smashed flat in the latest opinion polls to come out of his Sugar Land district. He will most likely share the same fate as another former House Majority Leader - Thomas Foley of Washington - who was swept out of his seat in 1994. And Foley wasn't even involved in any significant scandals at the time!

Meanwhile, DeLay's hopes of making a quick return to his leadership post were dealt a serious blow the other day when the judge in the case refused to throw out the most serious charges against him. That means the case will go to trial and won't be completed until after House Republicans hold new elections for their leadership.

Failing grade for Bush administration

In what should have been the most important and most pressing measure by which to judge our nation's leadership these past three years, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have recieved a big, fat F.

A final report from the former 9/11 Commission on Monday gave Congress and the White House a blistering review of their work to secure the nation, warning that terrorists will strike again and could cause catastrophic destruction with nuclear weapons.

Some of the sharpest criticism of this administration came from the Repubican members of the bi-partisan commission:

"The American people ought to demand answers," said James R. Thompson, a Republican commissioner and a former Illinois governor. "Why aren't our tax dollars being spent to protect our lives? What's the rationale? What's the excuse? There is no excuse."

Wow! Imagine if Al Gore had been president when 9/11 occurred and then three years later we still have no idea where Osama bin Laden is and a report like this comes out. Needless to say, Repubicans would be writing up articles of impeachment as we speak.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Abuse of power

Damn right there needs to be an investigation into this!
Why even bother to have staff attorneys at the Department of Justice who are experts in various fields if their opinions ultimately carry no weight?

What I want to know is what does it mean specifically under the 1965 Voting Rights Act for states to get Justice Department approval for redistricting maps? Does it mean that a political flunky can just rubberstamp any old plan that suits the partisan purposes of the party in power without regard to how it effects minority voting rights? I somehow don't think that was the intent of the law.

This is really sad if they can actually get away with this. For people who think our government system is screwed up today, here is a classic example of why.
And let's not forget that this is not an isolated case. There is a clear pattern of this abuse of power happening continuously with this administration:

In recent weeks, developments in the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government have involved instances in which political appointees countermanded the judgment of professional staff experts whose conclusions were not in line with the administration's philosophy.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department lawyer who has led the civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry for five years announced that she was retiring because of disagreements with supervisors.

"I didn't feel like I had the support at all times of the political team," the lawyer, Sharon Y. Eubanks, said.

Last month, the nonpartisan examiners at the Government Accountability Office said that the Food and Drug Administration had relied on politics and ideology rather than science in rejecting over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraceptive Plan B.

In broadcasting, the inspector general of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting found that its former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, had repeatedly crossed boundaries in the law intended to protect public television and radio from political interference.

And to think we have three more years of this garbage to contend with. I just hope people get good and sick of it by then.