Archive for July, 2005

The Animated Iraq Coalition Casualties Map

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Here’s a very compelling graphical treatment of my favorite depressing data. From Tim Klimowicz of Iraq War Fatalities.

tim klimowicz\'s animated Iraq casualties map

Besides being impressed by the overall presentation of the information, I was also impressed by the following sentiment expressed on the “about” screen:

Although I originally set out to create something as objective and apolitical as I possibly can, this project has raised a few questions in my mind concerning the government’s role in controlling information during wartime, and how that might sway the public’s perception of reality. In addition, it also made me question the notion of objectivity itself, as I found myself having to omit so much information, both voluntarily and involuntarily, in the process of creating this. Though my intent was to be objective, how objective can it really be when something as profound as a human death — which, in itself can have infinite interpretations — is represented with little more than a tiny black dot on a computer monitor? In the end, I suppose, my goal to encompass the entire war in a single animation instead ended up showing just a tiny sliver of the much larger reality — an unavoidable attribute inherent to all forms of communication, even those that are meant to be “objective”.

Color-Coded Marriages of the Subgenius

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Via Miniver Cheevy I learned of these extremely fun color-coded marriages as delivered by the Church of the Subgenius: ShorDurMar categories.

Corn: Newsweek to Out Rove on Plame Today

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Via Norm (again! again with the Norm!) I learn of David Corn’s arianablog posting to the effect that Newsweek is going to deliver an important update later today on Rove as the source of the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity to Matt Cooper: Explosive new Rove revelation coming soon?

Yet tonight I received this as-solid-as-it-gets tip: on Sunday Newsweek is posting a story that nails Rove. The newsmagazine has obtained documentary evidence that Rove was indeed a key source for Time magazine’s Matt Cooper and that Rove–prior to the publication of the Bob Novak column that first publicly disclosed Valerie Wilson/Plame as a CIA official — told Cooper that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife apparently worked at the CIA and was involved in Joseph Wilson’s now-controversial trip to Niger.

To be clear, this new evidence does not necessarily mean slammer-time for Rove. Under the relevant law, it’s only a crime for a government official to identify a covert intelligence official if the government official knows the intelligence officer is under cover, and this documentary evidence, I’m told, does not address this particular point. But this new evidence does show that Rove — despite his lawyers claim that Rove “did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA” — did reveal to Cooper in a deep-background conversation that Wilson’s wife was in the CIA.

This story is very evocative of the Downing Street memo for me. It’s not that it’s news that the Bush administration is willing to compromise our national security in pursuit of a self-serving political agenda; there’s been overwhelming evidence of that for years. It’s that this new evidence (assuming Corn’s information about the Newsweek story is accurate) is so damning that it reduces the Bush defenders’ wiggle room perilously close to zero.

Human nature being what it is, I’m sure plenty of people will choose to argue that black is white, it REALLY REALLY IS, rather than acknowledging that they were wrong to trust Bush. But we may also see a few people actually going through that most amazing of mental events: a true conversion, a moment of satori, scales falling from the eyes, the realization that, as shocking as it is, they were completely, pathetically wrong.

Those of us who’ve been operating on the basis of reality for a while now should do our best to be patient with the earnest expressions of surprise and dismay from these folks. (Oh my god! Did you know that Bush is actually running a very bad administration? Who would have thought?)

Yes. Depressing, isn’t it? Welcome to the real world.

Iraq War Dead for June 2005

Friday, July 8th, 2005

US military deaths in Iraq mostly held steady in June, with 78 deaths (compared to the 80 deaths that ended up being counted in May).

Again, I’m getting these figures from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville’s page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the first 28 months of each war. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the same chart, with the Vietnam numbers extended out to cover the first four years of the war:

Finally, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

Disclaimer: I’m aware that we have more troops in-theater in Iraq than we had during the corresponding parts of the Vietnam War graph. Vietnam didn’t get numbers of US troops comparable to the number currently in Iraq until shortly after Johnson won the 1964 election, some three-and-a-half years after the starting point of the Vietnam graphs above.

These graphs are not intended to show the relative lethality of the two conflicts on a per-soldier basis. I was just curious how the “death profile” of the two wars compared, and these graphs let me see that. You are free to draw your own conclusions.

Disenfranchisedmusic’s How Many Lies

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Courtesy Norm of Onegoodmove, I enjoyed listening to Disenfranchisedmusic’s How Many Lies? (mp3 file).

It’s white-boy rap, basically, by a pissed-off Bush hater. Definite parental advisory sticker for rude lyrics; don’t listen if you find that kind of thing offensive.

The beginning is a bit off-putting; the first line (“How many lies can an asshole tell? Before we wise up and throw him in a prison cell?”) doesn’t seem to promise much in the way of originality or artistic merit. But somehow, for me at least, about halfway through it really started working. It isn’t the lyrics, so much, which are pretty much what you’d expect, but rather the way the singer delivers them. He gets to this place where there’s a brutal honesty to his voice, not so much about how lame Bush is (which, again, isn’t anything new), but about the reaction that Bush’s words produce in him.

Anyway, if you’ve ever yelled “bullshit!” back at your radio or television in response to some outrageous Bush statement, you’ll relate.

Hm. Maybe I’ll write and see if they’ll license it for inclusion in a podcast. Would be an excuse for me to do another one of those, anyway.

Conservatives on Intelligent Design

Friday, July 8th, 2005

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which is, btw, a spectacularly good movie, one that you haven’t seen me gush about previously only because of my own pathetic sloth), Clementine talks to Joel on the train back from Montauk about how she wishes she could be the person whose job it is to pick wacky names for hair dyes. Joel expresses skepticism about there actually being a job like that, and Clementine responds, with characteristic certainty, “Someone’s got that job.”

In that vein, I bring you The New Republic’s Ben Adler, whose job it apparently is to call up prominent US conservatives and ask them what they think about the Intelligent Design movement: Evolutionary war.

Man. I want that job.

Zombie vs. Nerd

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Everyone else is linking to it, so why not me? From the scourge: Hipster zombies versus knights of the nerd table!!!


Friday, July 8th, 2005

To think I was lucky enough to live in these days of miracles and wonders: GoDogGo! The Automatic Fetch Machine! Remote Controlled!

GoDogGo is the first, and still the only, Automatic Fetch Machine for dogs.

Philosoraptor on FDR’s ‘War on Sneakiness’

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Here’s a short item that I liked from Philosoraptor: GWOT: WTF?

People have complained about the confusions–semantic and otherwise–surrounding this issue many times, and perhaps more griping isn’t in order. It’s been said that declaring a war on terrorism after 9/11 was like declaring war on Mexico after Pearl Harbor…but that’s not right.

Rather, it’s as if after Pearl Harbor we had, instead of declaring war on Japan, declared war on sneak attacks–that is, on the tactic rather than the institution that employed the tactic.

But linguistic sloppiness and the pressures of political rhetoric have confused things even more, making the war on terrorism into the war on “terror.” So, to stick with our WWII analogy, it’s as if we’d responded to Pearl Harbor with a “War on Sneakiness.”

As I mentioned in the comments to that item, it was Richard Clarke who first made the “like bombing Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor” observation, and he was talking about bombing Iraq after 9/11, not about waging war on “terrorism,” which Clarke would probably support, albeit (obviously) not in the form that the Bush administration has actually conducted it.

Cole, Sirota Comment on the London Bombings

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Here are a few comments that tie in yesterday’s bombings in London with the larger issue of al Qaeda-sponsored terror. From Juan Cole: Implications of London bombing. And from David Sirota: Iraq, London & America’s homeland insecurity.

The idea that, because our troops are in Iraq, terrorists will only attack us there and not “in the streets of our own cities” is, first and foremost, an insult to our troops because it treats them as if their entire mission is to serve as bait for terrorists. That’s not what our troops – or America – was told this was all about.

Secondly, are we really supposed to believe the same terrorists who masterminded the 9/11 attack can’t walk and chew gum at the same time? I mean, maybe George W. Bush and the dolts around him are so intellectually impaired they can’t do two things at once – but Al Qaeda sure can, and any sentiment to the contrary is idiotic.

On Violence and Freedom

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

There are two things that I read the other day that I wanted to post about. Individually, they probably wouldn’t have motivated me enough to bring up the old Editing screen, but having read them a few hours a part — they really caught my eye.

The first comes from a monologue in John Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit. Written in 1969, I can best describe it as a distopian prediction of race relations and racial equality on par with Orwell’s prophecies on privacy…

How could you expect a man to be a good neighbor when he’s spent years shooting at shadows, moving tree-branches, silhouettes on window-shades? Hos could you expect him to be a good citizen when he’s seen his government authorize the killing of thousands, millions of other human beings? How could you expect him to be a good father when he’s spent his early twenties torturing children to get information about enemy troop positions?

The second quote comes from Hunter S. Thompson in the May 2005 issue of Playboy Magazine. The article is a loose collection of thoughts on a variety of subjects. This coming from “On Free Will” …

In Orwell’s 1984, rigidity is imposed by the will of the state. Whereas with soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, it’s the will of the people. I’ve always operated on that second theory. Nobody is stealing our freedoms. We’re dealing them off. That’s the dark side of the American dream.

I don’t really have anything to add to them, I just thought they were interesting. Seperately, and together.

More on Rove as (Possible) Plame Outer

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

Here’s some more detail on the “Karl Rove was the source of the Valerie Plame identity leak” allegations.

From the Washington Post, last Saturday (July 2): Lawyer says Rove talked to reporter, did not leak name. And there’s this from the Sunday LA Times: Rove talked but did not tattle, attorney says.

The gist of this seems to be that Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, made the rounds of the mainstream media over the weekend, giving interviews in which he went on the record saying that:

  • Rove did talk to Matthew Cooper in the days before the Novak column that outed Plame.
  • Rove didn’t knowingly reveal as part of that conversation that Plame was an undercover CIA agent.

So, reading between the lines on all this, it sounds like Patrick Fitzgerald (the federal prosecutor investigating the Plame outing) may be interested in pursuing perjury charges against Rove, based on his having said one thing during his grand jury testimony and another thing being implied by Cooper’s notes. Or something.

More analysis of this is provided by David Corn, the Bush-hater who was the first mainstream media person to point out the potential legal implications of the Plame outing: Is Rove it?

If Luskin is telling the truth, Rove has nothing to fear. But defense lawyers have been known to spin the facts. The contents of Cooper’s emails and notes might support or challenge Luskin’s account. They might be inconclusive. (You should see my notes sometimes.) That Rove, a top White House aide, spoke to Cooper, who was covering the White House for a major newsmagazine, during this white-hot episode would not be unusual. And the piece Cooper co-wrote covers far more ground than Plame’s post at the CIA (which accounted for only two sentences). It is certainly conceivable that Rove was tossing other anti-Wilson information at Cooper (and others) at this point. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, also talked to Time for this article, and he was quoted by name saying that Cheney had been interested in the Niger allegation but didn’t know about Wilson’s trip to Niger. (After Libby gave permission to Cooper to tell Fitzgerald about their conversations, Cooper did so.)

Rove talking to Cooper days before his piece–and Novak’s–was written is an intriguing lead for Fitzgerald. But this does not solve the mystery. Before anyone can expect to see Rove frog-marching, Fitzgerald will have to determine what was said in these conversations.

And if that’s not exciting enough, you can enjoy the over-the-top (yeah, even for me) partisan japery of Bob Brigham at The Swing State Project: Karl Rove: It’s not the lying, it’s the treason. Brigham looks forward to the Rove investigation leading to a re-opening of the issue of Jeff Gannon’s getting White House press credentials, and Rove’s involvement in that. Brigham posts a transcript of an Air America broadcast he did with Janeane Garofalo back in February, at which Garofalo said:

Janeane Garofalo: May I throw my two cents in Bob, because you’ve be unbelievably polite about this. Here’s exactly is going to happen. Here is what the Gannon/Guckert sexual hypocrisy, whatever the scandal is, beyond the scandal we all know about. My gut feeling is that Karl Rove is either bisexual or gay, Scott McClellan, either bisexual or gay and either one of those two men – I tend to think it is Karl Rove – has had an affair with Ganon/Guckert. We report. You decide.

Doolittle on Bush’s Ignorance

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

I [heart] Jerome Doolittle of Bad Attitudes: Notes from a reformed speechwriter.

Ellsberg’s theory, we should note, only applies to presidents shrewd enough to understand what they are doing. This does not describe George W. Bush, who is as comfortable in his ignorance as a pig is in shit.

Trevor McDonald Interviews Bush

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

Apparently what it takes to get a few tough questions put to Bush is to have him do an interview with someone from Europe, where they still have this thing called “journalism”. Anyway, here you go: Per a Guardian Unlimited transcript, Sir Trevor McDonald does the job on ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald show: The Bush interview.

My favorite part:

TONIGHT: Is the administration at sixes and sevens about the insurgency in Iraq? The vice-president said that we’re in the last throes, or seeing the last throes of the insurgency. Donald Rumsfeld comes up and says we could be there for five, eight, 10, 12 years. Which is it? Which do you believe?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I believe that we will succeed in Iraq, because, one, the Iraqis want to live in a free society.

TONIGHT: But how long will it take, Mr President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: And, two, that the Iraqis want to take the fight to the enemy. And people want me to put a timetable on things; that’s a huge mistake. Putting a timetable on this – on our stay there in Iraq simply emboldens the enemy and discourages our friends. And so, therefore, my answer is just, quickly as possible, and we are making progress.

TONIGHT: Do you ever think maybe this was not such a good idea?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I’m actually confident it’s the right thing to do.

TONIGHT: You have never had any doubts at all about it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I am absolutely confident that we made the right decision. And not only that, I’m absolutely confident that the actions we took in Iraq are influencing reformers and freedom lovers in the greater Middle East. And I believe that you’re going to see the rise of democracy in many countries in the broader Middle East, which will lay the foundation for peace.

Hagel: ‘Show Business for the Ugly’

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

Here’s a really cool (though short) interview with Senator Charles Hagel (R-NE) from the New York Times magazine: Fighting words. Hagel, of course, recently set anti-war hearts aflutter by making statements critical of Bush on Iraq.

A brief excerpt:

In terms of the deficit, we have blown the top right off. We’re a bunch of Democrats.

I’ve never heard anyone call President Bush a Democrat.

That’s my point. We’re less honest about it. We built the biggest government history has ever seen under a Republican government. The Democrats are better because they are honest about it. They don’t pretend. I admire that. They’ll say: ”We want more money. We need more money.”

I also really liked this part:

Actually, I think it’s warped to talk about 2008 so much. Pundits care too much about betting on the next winner, and then they lose interest once the contest is over.

That’s because there’s a dynamic to politics that has lately been overtaken by show business. Politics is show business. It’s just show business for the ugly. It’s Hollywood without all the beautiful people.

Was Karl Rove the Plame Leaker?

Monday, July 4th, 2005

No time to comment at the moment, but a quick roundup of links: