November 29, 2005

Bob Woodward's entanglements

Update. Nora Ephron on why someone who believes everything he is told by insiders can't discern a lie when he regurgitates it.
   "...why people love to talk to him; he almost never puts the pieces
          together in a way that hurts his sources...
    ...his sources can count on him to convey their version of events.
    ...Woodward spends most of his life reporting. He knows everything.
          What’s more, he has no idea what it adds up to."

Update. "Consternation" expressed by Broder and Robinson of WashPost, at end of Meet the Press, Nov. 27.
Update. Matt Cooper was no mere stenographer, in 2003. He remained a journalist with integrity (and brains, still).
Washington Post's internal message board discussions of Woodward's participation in the PlameGame -- his dismissing the investigation and investigator on various tv news shows while not mentioning his own involvement as an early Leakee.
From the Wikipedia, an amusing earlier assessment, by Joan Didion of America's most well-known payola pundit:
"The narrative, reporting-driven style of Woodward's books also draws criticism for rarely making conclusions or passing judgment on the characters and actions that he recounts in such detail.
Didion concluded that Woodward writes 'books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent' and finds the books marked by 'a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.' "
To prove the point: Eskow's "Embedded Crony" and
Lies? Or Huge new leak?
Columnist married to a Washington Post editor tries to justify Woodward's actions, drawing a lot of venom from blogspace. She says we know more about the war due to his quiet access;
actually, we know only what they told him to write for us.

November 27, 2005

L.A. Times - End this war.

The newly-conservative L.A. Times mgmt wrote a stinging Iraq editorial today, excerpts below:
    . IRAQ'S SUNNI, SHIITE AND KURDISH leaders have finally found an issue on which they agree: a timetable for the U.S. to leave Iraq.  That's fine.  They have also agreed it's permissible for insurgents to kill U.S. soldiers.  That's dreadful.
    . Murtha was right to say U.S. forces in Iraq "have become the target."  Gen. George W. Casey, the top commander in Iraq, made that assessment two months ago, saying the presence of an occupying army was "one of the elements that fuels the insurgency."
    . Despite the periodic increases in troop strength, the insurgency shows no sign of waning. The number of trained Iraqi troops also fluctuates;
earlier this year, U.S. generals said three units had attained the highest state of readiness, but months later they downgraded the number to one.
    . The administration needs to set specific goals for progress in Iraq and timetables to meet them...
    . Last Sunday's Times report on the Iraqi informant with the apt nickname "Curveball" was a devastating portrait of the deeply flawed prewar intelligence constantly promoted by the administration as it lined up the tanks, planes and troops in 2003.
        The report quoted German intelligence officials as saying they warned U.S. colleagues of the unreliability of Curveball, a defector who was critical to the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein possessed biological weapons...
    . Cheney's speech on Monday worked in the usual reference to 9/11 in the same sentence as Hussein.  Yet once again it's necessary to point out that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The vice president also cited the prewar declarations from many nations that Hussein probably had the most devastating weapons. But he neglected to say that Hussein at the eleventh hour allowed U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, that the initial inspections turned up nothing and that the administration refused to wait for more complete searches.
    . The administration used too few troops for postwar reconstruction, misunderstood how occupation forces would be viewed, did not dispatch enough who understood the language and culture and refused to listen to those experienced in nation building.
    . ...The longer suicide bombers devastate Iraq and U.S. troops die with little signs of progress, the greater will be the cry to withdraw no matter the result. The U.S. needs to tell Iraqis we will be gone before too much longer, although we won't yet say just when. And the administration needs to shore up its own credibility with Americans to maintain their support for this nation's engagement in world affairs.

November 22, 2005

"Extremely critical IE flaw"

The exploit code, made public on Monday, aims to take advantage of the "extremely critical" vulnerabilities in IE 5.5 and IE 6 running on XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), and IE 6 running on Windows 2000 SP4, security researcher Secunia said in an advisory.
    Once a PC user is tricked into visiting a malicious website, the exploit can be triggered automatically, without the user doing anything . . . "An attacker could use the exploit to run any code they want to on a person's system. It could be they want to launch some really nasty code on a user's system."  How to disable active scripting.

November 21, 2005

An amazing keyboard player

It takes balls to play the piano like this! - available for fast internet and dial-up modems.
    If there's trouble loading this, here's a later alternative site

That pre-war intel same for all?

Naturally not.  And, as shown:
"...the White House had access to intelligence assessments such as the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) that Congress never was able to review, and the administration failed to provide lawmakers with certain dissenting views within the intelligence community. The administration also received information directly from two alternative intelligence sources that were doubted by the Intelligence Community at the time and have since been discredited: The Office of Special Plans and Iraqi National Congress."

The Washington Post reported that the White House ignored "a 2002 report by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that seriously questioned the reliability of a captured senior Al Qaeda operative at the time that the administration was relying on the detainee to allege a connection between the terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein's regime."

US Lt. Col. on our use of white phosphorus at Fallujah

BBC:  US Lt. Colonel Barry Venable retracts denial that we used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon in Fallujah against "enemy combatants" who remained in the city.  From the BBC article:
    "The US state department had earlier said white phosphorus had been used in Falluja very sparingly, for illumination purposes.
    Col Venable said that statement was based on 'poor information' ..."
    'The combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives,' he said."

    "White phosphorus is highly flammable and ignites on contact with oxygen. If the substance hits someone's body, it will burn until deprived of oxygen., a defence website, says: 'Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful... These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears... it could burn right down to the bone.' "
Rai broadcast documentary and other articles at DemocracyNow
Other WP links: emedicine on WP, with a caution to avoid contact with contaminated clothing to avoid burns;     Guardian: "gloves off";     BBC: re what US Admin admits re WP use;     The Fight for Fallujah - by Captain James T. Cobb;     Christian Science Monitor's roundup of pro-con stories on WP and Fallujah;     North Country Times story by embedded reporter;     Birmingham Post: when WP would probably be considered "chemical weapon";     The Independent: Excusing the Inexcusable
The Guardian: Training in use of white phosphorus

New Fitzgerald grand jury - what it means

Washington Post explains, "Experts said that Fitzgerald is not trying to shore up his case on Libby. Under court rules, Fitzgerald cannot use a new grand jury to gather additional evidence for an indictment he has already brought, or to wrap up unanswered questions in preparation for Libby's trial. He can only call on a grand jury to hear evidence if he is considering new charges against another person or additional charges against Libby."
Update - Nov 21:  Andrea Mitchell's inconsistencies re Wilson-Plame info

Sony's hard disk attack gets another class-action suit.

Update - Nov. 21, from Information Week, on Sony's "ineptware"
The Washington Post reports that Sony's now infamous "rootkit" has drawn a potential-50-state class-action suit.... " 'To date, over 3 million copies of XCP encoded disks have been sold. It is probable that millions of consumers have played these discs on their PC's and thus compromised their systems without knowing it,' the lawsuit claims."
    US corporate offices and more info from Infoworld.
    Sony-Europe here (ZDNet UK).

November 19, 2005

Cutting and Running?

Interesting points by William Odom about the concept of cutting and running from Iraq.   Here's a thinking conservative's take on Murtha vs Mirtha by David Adesnik.  And defense hawk Rep Norm Dicks laments the labelling of dissenting voices as "peaceniks," etc.

Some thoughts I have though:
    The Republicans in Congress offered a resolution of their own as a red herring the other day, in a very dishonest and cynical move.   Murtha's proposal involved termination and deployment "at the earliest practicable date," leaving  "a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines" in the region.  The Republicans decided to offer NO planning stage at all and then called it a referendum on Murtha's idea.   Clownish.  That was a low point.
    Were they right that most Americans would be fooled anyway?
    Bush is a curiosity.  He risked going it alone while begging others to join us in taking down a ruthless dictator (among so many in this world), creating a fantastic opportunity for Bin Laden -- the one we should have gotten -- and Al Queda to enter via unprotected borders and recruit wildly based on the instability and destruction that followed.  Now Al Queda has a central staging area and over-willing recruits they couldn't have managed without W's help.
    So, no, some of us are not for 'cutting and running' without some plan in place to protect the Iraqis who chose to be on our side.  On the other hand, it's crucial to stop sending young people there (with many mandatory repeats) to be maimed or killed to help GWB  'free' other countries to go crazy, so that he could get the guy who "tried to kill my dad!"
    One other thing:  Bush said this week that we wouldn't leave until the mission was accomplished.   Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he already tell us it was - some time ago?

November 17, 2005

Bush Sr.'s hand-written note to Joe Wilson re Valerie Plame leak

The Berkeleyan's Barry Bergman reports in the UC weekly, dated Nov 17, that Joe Wilson mentioned, in response to a question, the following nugget (here is the wording from the weekly:
Soon after he went public with his findings, Plame's identity was revealed, effectively ending her undercover career and — according to Wilson and others, including some of her colleagues — potentially jeopardizing the identities of operatives with whom she had worked both here and abroad.

That, Wilson suggested, explains why George H.W. Bush, a former CIA director, wrote him a "long handwritten note about how distressed he felt" over the outing of Wilson's wife. Wilson quoted the first President Bush as having said on several occasions that "those who would betray the sources of our intelligence are the most insidious of traitors," then added: "If it's good enough for George Bush it's good enough for me. I'm not his rebellious son."
    I thought I'd heard wrong about the note before and called Barry Bergman for a verification, and he pointed me to the Webcast -- go to 1 hr,2 minutes and 42 seconds into the podcast. Wilson says he wouldn't be divulging the contents of Bush Sr.'s note but that it was heartfelt and meaningful.

Sky drama last week

November is a month for dramatic, colorful skies in the East Bay.

I am just a sucker for these.

(Click on photo for more of same.)

November 16, 2005

GOP Senator Hagel explains Patriotism to Bush Administration

Senator Chuck Hegel (R-Neb.), in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, stressed that "...the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."
    "...To question your government is not unpatriotic
     -- to not question your government is unpatriotic ...
    America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
    He accused the administration of "dividing the country" with its rhetorical tactics and suggested, "You could probably argue it is worse in many ways in the Middle East because of consequences and ripple effects."
Full story at Washington Post here.

November 13, 2005

Bishops from Bush's church regret "complicity" in Iraq war

FoxNews reports that "Ninety-five bishops from President Bush's church said Thursday they repent their 'complicity'  in the 'unjust and immoral'  invasion and occupation of Iraq.
    'In the face of the United States administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent,' said a statement of conscience signed by more than half of the 164 retired and active United Methodist bishops worldwide."
Full story here

November 12, 2005

When it rains . . . ? [ WH & Katrina subpoenas]

Republican Senator Tom Davis threatens subpoenas of 3 White House Cabinet members and WH Counsel Harriet Miers.
    "...During a committee hearing yesterday, Davis decried the failure of White House officials to release e-mails and other communication records related to the [Katrina] hurricane and its aftermath.  Davis set a hard deadline of Nov. 18 for all federal agencies to comply with his requests."
    Full Capital Hill story here.

November 10, 2005

Should the Republican Party be concerned?

Little reported election results that should give some pause, collected by William Rivers Pitt and Mark Green.
"Beyond the epic victories of Mr. Kaine in Virginia and Mr. Corzine in New Jersey, beyond the ... defeat handed to the Governator in California, beyond the defeat of an anti-gay ballot initiative in Maine, there were these ...:
  . In the 94th District legislative race in Missouri, Democrat Jane Bogetto stunned locals with a 58 percent victory, becoming the first Democrat to win the seat in 58 years.
  . In Erie County, New York, Mark Polocarz, a young Kerry '04 activist, became the first Democrat to capture the county comptroller's race in 30 years, winning easily by 18 percentage points.
  . In Suffolk County, New York, Democrat Kathleen Rice defeated 30-year incumbent Dennis Dillon for DA, and Brian Foley got elected town supervisor of Brookhaven, the country's largest township, after a 30-year reign.
  . In St. Paul, Minnesota, Democratic mayor Randy Kelly lost 2-1 to another Democrat because Kelly had crossed party lines to endorse President Bush in 2004.
  . In Corning, New York, Democrat Frank Coccho, a self-employed plumber, became the first Democratic mayor in 50 years."

November 09, 2005

Frist and Hastert demand investigation of leak by Republicans.

I'm sorry, but this one is just too funny.
    UPDATE Nov. 9...Tonight it's Also, Who Leaked Frist/Hastert letter? :-) and Lott is now saying he meant another leak.
    MSNBC and The Financial Times reports that Senator Lott explained that Cheney told Republican Senators about secret CIA prisons during a GOP-only luncheon the day before this classified information was leaked to the Washington Post.
    CNN points out that. in a letter requesting an investigation, Senator Bill Frist and Representative Dennis Hastert had complained that:
"If accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks."
    CNN adds that "Lott told reporters the information in the Post story was the same as that given to Republican senators in a closed-door briefing by Vice President Dick Cheney last week.
    'Every word that was said in there went right to the newspaper,'  he said. 'We can't keep our mouths shut.' "

Fitzgerald still actively investigating Rove

Update Nov. 9 - Rove's top assistant Susan Ralston is scheduled for more interviews with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.  Backgrounder at Asian Week
    Washington Post reports (Nov. 3) that Fitzgerald was talking by phone "in the last 3 days" to Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper's attorney about conversations with Rove.
  Re "Official A" in Fitzgerald's indictment and his conversations related to the Plame leak, The Washington Post points out:
    "That kind of pseudonym is often used by prosecutors to refer to an unindicted co-conspirator, or someone who faces the prospect of being charged. No other administration official is identified in this way in Fitzgerald's indictment."
Update 2, Nov. 9 - Rebuttals of Limbaugh claims re Wilson 'outing' his wife earlier
    Hume takes advantage of Andrea Mitchell's Oct '03 statement twice this week.
        She explains, "I found it out from Novak." and adds "...we've got a whole new world of journalism out there where there are people writing blogs who grab one thing and not everything else that I've written and said about this and go to town with it. And if it, you know, supports their political point of view, then --"

November 07, 2005

Getting your goat isn't always so easy.

Trampolines and emotional connections

Fascinating story.   As a neighbor, what would you do?

    Here's another great shot and (updated 7/23/08) a page with even more excellent pics.

Update: Here are follow-up summary of how this turned out!

November 06, 2005

Noteworthy Republicans on Plamegate (WMDgate)

  William F. Buckley Jr writes about Covert Questions, summing up with
" becomes almost inapprehensible what it is that Cheney/Libby/Rove got themselves into. But the sacredness of the law against betraying a clandestine soldier of the republic cannot be slighted."

  John Dean, on A Cheney-Libby Conspiracy, Or Worse? says, "Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued.  In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted."  He adds that after reading the transcript of Fitzgerald's press conference, he feels that Cheney shouldn't be sleeping easily after Fitzgerald's analogy of a player throwing sand in the umpire's eyes, an Obstruction of Justice in Libby's case that prevents Fitzgerald from being able to determine Intention to leak an undercover agent's identity.  Yet.

November 05, 2005

What the... !

This is the first entry in a blog that will include a potpourri of news, some music notes without staves, a few photos, and will function as a sort of database of info-links that I'd otherwise lose. And, mainly, I'm typing so I can preview the blogpage, currently a mystery to me. The title is from my brother Glen's favorite exclamation when young and suits the title of this blog, eh?