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Tenet Falls On His Sword

Posted by Ogged
on 07.11.03
CIA Director George Tenet is taking responsibility for the inclusion of the false claim about Iraq and Nigerien Uranium in Bush's State of the Union speech. Ok, let's take a look at the final lines from his statement today.
From what we know now, Agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct - i.e. that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. This should not have been the test for clearing a Presidential address. This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for Presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed.
But almost the entirety of Tenet's statement is a catalog of reasons the CIA was uncomfortable with the information. It's obvious that the CIA did not put the information in. Tenet is taking responsibility only for not taking it out. To blame the CIA for the inclusion of the false claim is like blaming the bartender for a drunk's crash. The barman may bear some responsibility, but who's the drunk? MORE: Josh Marshall makes the same point. And I just heard NPR's Tom Gjelten make it too. Incidentally, this should answer the question of why George Tenet kept his job despite the CIA's many mistakes. You keep guys who are willing to take the fall for you around.

 

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Wesley Clark

Posted by Ogged
on 07.11.03

Here's a profile of Wesley Clark, who is a mystery to me so far. I haven't read the profile yet, but in the comments at Calpundit (where I got this link; I'll stop snagging things from Kevin as soon as he stops posting good stuff), squiddy nicely sums up my trepidation about backing a former general.

Yes, send us a strong, manly authority figure to lead us. Yes, yes YES oh YES RIGHT THERE YES--
er.. ahem. As you were.

Doesn't everyone vote their Oedipal complex?


 

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Zoom Out!

Posted by Ogged
on 07.11.03

Before I knew his blog existed, Brett Marston posted this great piece detailing specific differences between television coverage in Germany and here in the US.


 

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Howard Dean Wakeup Call

Posted by Ogged
on 07.11.03
A while back I linked to this Nick Denton post. Nick wrote.
Dean's interesting, because he's unpredictable: a budget hawk, and pro-gun, and a supporter of national health insurance of some sort, and gay marriage. He's against the invasion of Iraq, but his position is more than the usual reflexive angst at the Hobbesian world we live in. In short, he's an intelligent candidate, designed to appeal to the coastal intelligentsia. So he can't win.
I think that's right. Salon spells it out today. (That's not totally accurate: John Judis spells it out in Salon, and from what little I know of these matters, Judis, a New Republic guy, will likely be found backing Kerry or Lieberman in the future. So maybe this story is more interesting for being an attempt to undermine Dean in a publication that has credibility with those voters to whom he appeals. Unf, any insight on this?) Regardless of the inside baseball, Nick's still right. And I'm not sure why anyone would back Dean. He's not particularly liberal, he's just strident. And stridency, while it plays well with the "base," has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt. There's a reason politicians are bland and cautious. Does anyone remember that McCain lost?

 

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Bah!

Posted by Ogged
on 07.11.03

Busy at work today, I'll try to post later...

Meanwhile, if you're philosophically inclined, John Holbo has a good post up and he's also a beta tester for TypePad, and is using it for his new Nietzsche blog.

And though I haven't often linked to it, The Agitator is a blog I check regularly.


 

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More on Niger Uranium

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
The Iraq-Niger Uranium story is getting serious. In fact, it's the first serious political problem for Bush. Here's a quick recap. In his State of the Union, Bush claimed that Iraq had tried to obtain Uranium for use in building a nuclear weapon. As a matter of fact, Iraq had done no such thing. After much dissembling, this week the White House finally admitted that the charge should not have been included. Since that admission, they've been trying to explain why it was included if it wasn't true. All the explanations are some variant of "it was an honest mistake," but the story just doesn't hold up. The White House wants to blame the CIA, but the CIA isn't standing still for that. Tonight, two damning reports have come out, both likely leaked by people in the CIA who don't like the way the Bushies are spinning. First, there was this CBS story headlined "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False." Josh Marshall explains the story this way.
For what it's worth, I think the headline gets out a bit ahead of what the story actually reports. But not by much ... Let's be clear what this means. The White House ran the charge past the CIA. Folks at the agency said, we don't think it's true. The White House's response was to say, well, okay, we won't say whether it's true or not. We'll just say that the British say this. And the Brits are saying this. So we're good.
That's bad enough, but Friday's Washington Post is carrying a story headlined "CIA Asked Britain to Drop Iraq Claim." Ouch. Add to this the fact that Colin Powell, while trying to defend the inclusion of the charge in the State of the Union, tried to say that something changed between the SOTU speech and his own speech a week later, such that he didn't feel comfortable including the charge. Kevin Drum takes care of that line of defense. This is really not looking good for the Bushies. I don't know how important it will be, but it could be the first chip in Bush's heretofore infuriating Teflon.

 

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Untwisted Truth

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
Michael Kinsley had a characteristically smart column on tort reform today, but what I found must illuminating was Kevin Drum's post here. There are lots of interesting things to read in the blogosphere, but it's not often someone actually explains what's at stake in an informative and fair way. Kevin's done it.

 

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Getting Back

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
An ex-Guantanamo inmate is suing the US. Of course, his suit may not go anywhere, but insofar as there's been very little accountability concerning "Camp X-Ray," I'm happy to see someone try to introduce a bit.

 

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But Black Guys Will Always Jump Higher

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
Nick Kristoff has a nice, balanced discussion of the "reality" of race as a biological concept. The whole thing is worth reading (and not too long), but his conclusion seems to be that, yes, there are genetic differences between the groups we think of as different races, but they're much less important or distinguishing than we have thought. And I particularly liked this part.
When I lived in Japan in the 1990's, my son Gregory had a play date with a classmate I hadn't met. I asked Gregory, then 5, whether the boy's mother was Japanese.
"I don't know," Gregory replied.
"Well," I asked sharply, "did she look Japanese or American?" Although he'd lived in Tokyo for years, Gregory replied blankly, "What does a Japanese person look like?"
He was ahead of his time.

 

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Deceived

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03

My fiancee finally agreed to go back to a local Jamaican restaurant with me tonight (I love spicy food, she doesn't) where I ordered Hot Curried Goat. Sounds at least a little exotic, no? Well, I'm almost certain I was served beef and this. By the Asian family that seems to have bought the place. But they were playing Bob Marley. Oy.


 

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...Continued

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03

I was in the middle of a discussion on the Invisible Adjunct's site that was in danger of taking over the thread. I'm opening a thread here for anyone that wants to take it up.


 

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Miyazaki

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
There's a Salon article today about master animator Hayao Miyazaki. I saw "Spirited Away" last year and was totally floored. It's amazing. Definitely worth seeking out.

 

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No Niger

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03

If you have any interest in the false claims made by Bush--regarding Iraq trying to obtain nuclear materials from Niger--in his State of the Union speech, go to Josh Marshall's blog and just keep reading. And if you read any defenses of Bush, check Josh Marshall's blog again, because he's likely already debunked them.


 

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More on Museum Looting

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03

If you are like me, you heard that the Baghdad Museum had been utterly sacked and looted. Then you heard that those stories were false, and that perhaps "only" 67 items were missing. Gary Farber notes that neither extreme seems true and the story hasn't played out yet.


 

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Hide Your Cache

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
Obviously, I'm watching this with particular interest. So far, it sounds as if caching is in the clear, but perhaps not for long.

 

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Mmm, Portions

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
Kraft, trying to reverse a trend, has decided to cut its portion sizes. That sounds reasonable, now I'll just have to eat three packages of food before I'm full. But what I love about the news story is this bit.
Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed in California seeking to ban Oreos.
The suit, which drew criticism in legal circles for potentially abusing the U.S. court system, was withdrawn less than two weeks later, with the attorney saying news coverage of the lawsuit made people aware of the alleged health risks from eating one of America's favorite snacks.
Right, mission accomplished. Some people really will say anything.

 

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The Juice??

Posted by Ogged
on 07.10.03
I was reading Anthony Lane's review of T3 in this week's New Yorker and saw this.
By now, [Schwarzenegger] is so seamlessly joined to the part that we find it hard to conceive of another arrangement, yet the fact remains that at one point, when James Cameron was devising the original picture, of 1984, the name pencilled in for the Terminator was that of O. J. Simpson. The trouble was, as Cameron told Esquire, "People wouldn't have believed a nice guy like O.J. playing the part of a ruthless killer."
I guess he was right.

 

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Ugh

Posted by Unf
on 07.10.03

This post seems indicative of a lot of the unwarranted snarkiness that has crept into Instapundit over the last several months. I mean, for people to argue that American intervention in Liberia is all about oil would require, you know, actual American intervention in Liberia.

Also, is it just me, or is this cartoon strip he keeps posting little more than a more conservative and poorly drawn Doonesbury?


 

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If You Haven't Heard

Posted by Ogged
on 07.09.03

Some excellent bloggers have created a group blog that promises to be lively. Take a look.



 

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Protests In Iran

Posted by Ogged
on 07.09.03

There is, as has been noted, shockingly little coverage of events in Iran. (Go here, here and here for bloggers doing a great job keeping track of events.) Very large protests were expected today but were called off when the regime made it clear that it was willing kill students rather than let the protests occur. This is indicative of even greater brutality than you might imagine. In Iran, children (particularly students, and particularly students at the extremely competitive University of Tehran) hold a uniquely exalted position. This isn't about love of one's children, which is universal and immeasurable, but about how the society sets goals and organizes itself. I'd love to hear other Iranians' takes on this, but if I were to sum up the goal of the life of an Iranian in a phrase, I'd say, to raise educated children.

That the regime has let it be known that it will kill those children before it loosens its grip is both damning and disheartening; a peaceful transition to real democracy seems less likely than ever. I don't know if US intervention is necessary for democracy to flower in Iran; I hope not. But a young man in Iran wrote to me last week to say this.

the only source of hope among iranian is US affort to topple this prehistoric rejeim people are really disapointed because the rejeem is very rich and with paying bribe to other countries like euroupian countries can distorb US affort to persuade world that iran really is a threat for civilian world .Take our helo to probably the only safer of iranian J.W.BOSH.

 

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Modafinil

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03
What do the good folks of blogdom know about Modafinil? Am I nuts to want some? I am seriously tempted.

UPDATE: There's a good collection of links and some valid concerns about Modafinil (brand name, Provigil) here.

 

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Can I Turn Myself In?

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03

Here's a thought: every day you probably do something illegal.



 

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The Yellow Cake Affair

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03

We'll have to wait to see how credible this is, but Kevin Drum posts about someone present for meetings in the White House who, in effect, calls Bush a liar.

Doug Thompson, the author of the original story, defends it here.

UPDATE: This story is bogus. Thanks to Kevin Drum for being on top of it.


 

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Powell and MediaCon

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03

FCC Chairman Michael Powell reveals fairly nuanced views about media consolidation, but ultimately, his argument breaks down.

It's easy to vilify a corporate mogul. But when you understand you make money producing what interests the public, the argument becomes quite a bit more queasy, doesn't it? Are you really indicting the mogul, or what your countrymen like to watch? The media companies, if they have one sin, is that they're too responsive," he said.
"Eighty percent of this debate often is about either not enough content that some community would prefer to see or too much of something that a community does not want to see. And it wants the government's aid in having that come out more like they want. And this starts to make me queasy.

He's appealing to our justifiable aversion to having government involved in programming decisions. But, as I've argued before, the "demand" for informative broadcasts is unique in being subject to atrophy and we should think of government involvement in this situation as a constraint we place on ourselves in advance; like locking yourself in a room before you turn into a werewolf.


 

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This is heavy, man.

Posted by Unf
on 07.08.03

I usually think I'm a pretty culturally literate guy. However, I have absolutely no idea where the phrase, "he's not heavy, he's my brother" comes from. I find this especially irksome given that I have brothers and find the phrase quite clever from time to time. Anyone know the answer?


 

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Adaptation

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03
Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said blacks and Latinos were better suited to heat than whites. Now people are trying to string him up for racism. I'm no biologist, but isn't he right? And in what reprehensible sense could he be "racist" even if he were mistaken? Or are all misapprehensions about race now "racist?" Luckily, Baker isn't the type to back down.

 

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Cuz?

Posted by Ogged
on 07.08.03

Does anyone else get telemarketers that don't even bother with English? I've been called by about five Farsi-speaking telemarketers. Mostly it's for phone service, but they've also called to sell me books and financial planning services. It's novel enough not to annoy me yet, but it's also a bit overwrought: all telemarketers leverage interpersonal norms, but Iranian culture has such baroque rules of ritual politeness (they even have a name: tarof), that it's much harder for me to get rid of someone speaking Farsi than English. I also feel some immigrant bonding that makes me less willing to be as firm as I should. I don't buy, of course, but I do let them go on for quite a bit longer than I would otherwise. Well, except for the guy last night, who actually said my name incorrectly. It's one thing when English speakers muck it up, but really, how hard is it to say "Ogged?"


 

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No More Mr. Nice Goob

Posted by Ogged
on 07.07.03

I think it was the Sci-Fi channel having a Twilight Zone marathon this weekend. I just left it on while preparing for Sunday's festivities and caught some great episodes. Part of what's fun is that actors who became famous in other roles had parts in Twilight Zone episodes. Donna Douglas, soon to become Elly Mae of the Beverly Hillbillies, played a freakish outcast and George Lindsey, who was to be Goober on the Andy Griffith show, played a mean-spirited racist deputy.

Goober the Villain, definitely the Twilight Zone.


 

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The Dowser

Posted by Ogged
on 07.07.03

I'm not sure what to think of this.

Forget Hans Blix, the UN and inspectors schooled in the art of uncovering biological, chemical and nuclear agents. There is a quicker way to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
Gather the latest intelligence, decide where the weapons are stashed, and fire a high-velocity projectile at the target. High-tech sensors packed into the projectile will then instantly beam back confirmation that the weapons are there.

The article helpfully adds,

Others point out that firing such a weapon could itself be interpreted as an act of war.

Thank god for the perspicacity of "others." It's not hard to imagine the specious justifications that could be used to launch missiles at other countries, but I can also see why this is an attractive option: not only could you avoid the UN, you could potentially avoid war altogether, and just go straight to the site, so to speak. In any event, I imagine it will be technology that keeps this from being a useful option: you can always bury thing deeper underground.


 

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How Cute

Posted by Ogged
on 07.07.03

I'm as amazed as the next guy that Maureen Dowd has a NY Times column, but it's just a bit too clever for conservatives to slam Dowd in the guise of their own reasonableness by calling Ann Coulter "the Maureen Dowd of the Right."

"Yeah, my brother is in jail for cutting up his family and burying them in the backyard, but now that your brother got that speeding ticket, I guess we both have criminals in our families."

Or something like that.


 

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Who knew....

Posted by Unf
on 07.07.03

...that Canadians could be so funny. Here's the first paragraph from a story in today's National Post:

Jennifer Lopez has filed suit against her former manager, Benny Medina, whom she accuses of misappropriating funds. Medina contends that it's J.Lo who owes him money, and says he intends to pursue legal action to collect. Alas, experts doubt Medina can win, noting it would take a truly formidable case to successfully sue that ass off.

The full story is here.


 

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No More Vacation, Please

Posted by Ogged
on 07.07.03

Note to grillers everywhere: If you don't use your grill for over a year, there's a good chance wasps will decide to nest in it. We opened our grill to clean it and discovered three wasp nests. These in addition to the ones we could already see elsewhere on our patio. My fiancee and I waited until dark, when wasps are supposed to be docile, and went out with our MacGyvered wasp disposal gear: tongs, paper bags (for the initial nest capture) and ziploc bags (for secure disposal). It's bad enough when you're bagging a nest you know has wasps in it, but it's much worse to drop a nest you think is empty into a bag only to hear BZZZZZ! Add to this the fact that someone was staying with us who is so allergic to wasps that her last sting caused her to lose sight and hearing for several minutes. Oy.

We did manage to bag them without being stung. Which brings me to note two: if you don't use your patio furniture for over a year, there's a good chance wasps will decide to nest in it. This fact was discovered by my fiancee's extremely helpful mother when she decided to take a couple of our plastic deck chairs into the bathtub for a rinse. Apparently, wasps who nest on the underside of deck chairs don't appreciate being showered. My fiancee's mom went into the bathroom, two minutes later I heard a yelp, and my fiancee's mom came out looking...rather alarmed. She had counted five wasps.

Enter Ogged. Outfitted in long sleeves, yellow plastic dish gloves and armed with this contraption, which we had received a couple of years ago as a gag, I went into the bathroom. Luckily, wasps are dumb. Or about as dumb as bad guys in martial arts movies. There were four hovering on the ceiling and they took turns dive-bombing me, which meant that I got a good swing at each one. God bless the battery-powered bug zapping racket. A couple of the wasps damn near exploded in sparks. Very satisfying. I found the fifth wasp hiding in the shower curtain. The flyby of my head was but a waystation on his path to glory. I was feeling pretty satisfied, but there was, of course, the nest. I looked under the chair in the bathtub and could see at least four more wasps hanging out there.

I've got my limits. I called for the Raid. We were trying to avoid the chemical option, but I wasn't about to poke a nest full of wasps in a little room with the door closed. To make a long story a bit shorter, I unleashed a holy river of Raid. They fell out of as much from the weight of the liquid as the poison.

Summertime grilling indeed. But don't get the wrong idea, we had a great time. About 25 people came for steaks, hot dogs and ice cream (and other, greener things; how do you know when a Tofu dog is done??) I am, however, glad to be back at work where other people are responsible for keeping nature at bay. And so, blogging resumes.


 

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