Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2005

WB: The 51st State Revisited

Billmon:
A little bird tells me that Rosen could tell the feds some very interesting stories about AIPAC's political fundraising machine -- stories that would not sound entirely out of place at Tom DeLay's trial.

The 51st State Revisited

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 04:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Man....Oh Man

by anna missed (lifted from a comment)

This image keeps running through my head of all those generals lined up at the hearings spewing out these military-speak answers to bureaucratic double-talk questions, all skirting around why the worlds most sophisticated military/intelligence complex cannot, for all its worth, deal with a few thousand guys in tee-shirts with AK47s.

It seems they all are lost in an eddy of prima-facie question and answer dance with death played to an eternally skipping record -- I cannot see why they bother -- it's s as if the wheels of government have concluded we be best hypnotized by mixing the look of creditability and credulity into a real life government sponsored remake of Last Year at Marienbad we are all then forced to watch and endlessly ponder, year after fucking year.

And its not as if this is some new and novel quandary, we have history here, 15 years of history in Vietnam, millions dead, and all justified by the same parade of gasbag clowns just as oblivious to the trail of death and destruction left behind like some back ally abortion left in a trash can.

I'm really sorry for those that have to endure this mind-bending pantomime, either in real fact or mental distress, enduring, until the trickle of awareness finally, and blindly filters down into the dark recesses of dolthood toddling atop a fat beer fart somewhere in some pickup truck somewhere, or as a reborn thunderstruck revelation stroke of brilliance moment by some geek as he helicopters into a very important meeting at some think-tank somewhere.

Man....Oh Man.

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Scrap of Paper

Billmon:

Scrap of Paper

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 03:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

WB: Going Backwards

Billmon:
Going Backwards

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (43)

Sign of the Time?

Each time has its Lingua franca. A language widely used to communicate in cultural exchanges between different countries and populations.

Greek, Latin, French, German have been used as such in the western hemisphere. Today the lingua franca is English. It sneaks itself into the native languages. It is modern, hip and cool to use it.

Walk through any European city and you will see lots of English words used in public space. There are "Sales", "Beauty Shops" and "Happy Hours" everywhere.

So when I saw this sign in front of an 'elite' bar in a hip part of town in Hamburg, Germany, I was awestruck by the use of German. I have seen "Happy Hour" signs in Turkey, Spain, France, Poland and elsewhere throughout Europe. I never noticed one announcing a 'happy hour' in the native language.

Maybe this is just an aberration. But it also could be something else.

After WWII the European cultures have been dominated by the Anglo-american. Is this about to change?

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

WB: Enter the Turd Blossom ++

Billmon:

III. Another Partisan Fanatic

---

II. Pinch and Judy Show

---

But it would be funny if after all his posturing and protestations of innocence, DeLay shuffled into the courtroom and copped an Agnew. Still, stranger things have happened. It might also be the prudent thing, if, as some rumors have it, one or both of DeLay's co-conspirators have started singing to the grand jury.

I. Enter the Turd Blossom

Posted by b on September 30, 2005 at 02:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

September 29, 2005

WB: Coming Soon to a Nightmare Near You

Billmon:

Coming Soon to a Nightmare Near You

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

WB: Roberts Rules of Order

Billmon:
But the ghost of Ronald Reagan can rest easy: the civil rights rollbacks of the 1980s are surely safe in Judge Roberts' hands, and might even be extended, albeit probably not as aggressively as he and his band of anti-soul brothers once hoped.

Roberts Rules of Order

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 03:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: Teamster Player

Billmon:

Teamster Player

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Open Thread 05-98

Just another ...

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 02:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (61)

WB: Down the Memory Hole ++

Billmon:

III. Ken Starr on Steroids

---

II. Shorter Washington Post

---

I'm worried that one day I'm going to point out something like this -- and no one is going to have the slightest idea what I'm talking about.

I. Down the Memory Hole

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 02:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: Quiz Show

Billmon:
Bashing Brownie is the whitewash. Mr. Horse Butt Inspector is now the designated fall guy -- a human biowaste container for disposing of all the Cheney administration's post-Katrina failures.Quiz Show

Posted by b on September 29, 2005 at 02:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

September 28, 2005

WB: Who Says God Is Dead?

Billmon:

The Lord shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.

Who Says God Is Dead?

Posted by b on September 28, 2005 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

WB: Moore's Law

Billmon:

Moore's Law

Posted by b on September 28, 2005 at 01:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Aaarrggghhh !!!

Atrios cites from today's Tom Friedman column The Endgame in Iraq (NYT pay content)

That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.

Posted by b on September 28, 2005 at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

September 27, 2005

WB: General Morons

Billmon:
Given that the auto makers are, in a sense, the oil industry's biggest customers, I bet the Cheney administration would have been willing to comp them.

General Morons

Posted by b on September 27, 2005 at 04:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (89)

Underserved Shelter

Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)
President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina, Sep. 2, 2005

The White House yesterday confirmed, that even four weeks after Katrina hit the gulf coast there are still underserved shelter where people are in dire need of everything from mattresses to pants and unskilled labor is in short supply.

Because FEMA can not solve the problem and the Bush administration is unable to deliver the needed supply, the press staff of First Lady Laura Bush stepped in. It is sending her to help deliver Sears sponsored items to those in need. TV cameras, and the associated advertising dollars, will be rolling.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.

In its standard format, the popular ABC series finds hard-pressed but deserving families, sends them away for short vacations and then, in a whirlwind of carpentry and appliance-shopping, gives them new homes. This time, though, the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.
Laura Bush to appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", Sep. 27, 2005 [emph. added]

When Dan Froomkin had a bit on this yesterday, I though he was joking.

Bush's remark cited above was already over the borderline and certainly not received well by the press.

Now why would the Bush PR machine come up with something like this?

They never had decency but now the seem to have even lost the last touch to reality.

Posted by b on September 27, 2005 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

WB: Men of Honor

Billmon:
It appears that in the Army of Looking Out for Number One, "honor" now has approximately the same meaning as "cover my bureaucratic ass."

Men of Honor

Posted by b on September 27, 2005 at 03:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

WB: Blessed No More

Billmon:
Blessed No More

Posted by b on September 27, 2005 at 02:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

September 26, 2005

Spring Offensive?

In USNews.com "White House Week" column there is this piece small piece which leads me to some questions.

When in Doubt, Shoot the Staff

Conservatives chafing at President Bush's Hurricane Katrina spending plan and depressed with his low poll numbers are beginning to blame his top staff for moving too slowly to reverse the slide. Indeed, some suggest that the president needs to bring in new top staff to invigorate his administration. "He needs a new group of people with energy and ideas around him," says a GOP strategist with ties to the White House. "They're like a dying cellphone battery." Ever since the re-election campaign ended, the president's supporters have worried that his top staff was worn out. It's a feeling administration staffers have often concurred with. But White House insiders balk at calls for changes, claiming that the president knows exactly what his political situation is and has a long-term plan built on new initiatives that will drown out the critics next spring.

What is Bush's long-term plan? What new initiatives  could possibly drown out critics? A Spring Offensive?

Posted by b on September 26, 2005 at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Open Thread 05-97

News, views ...

Posted by b on September 26, 2005 at 02:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (43)

September 25, 2005

WB: Heart of Darkness

Billmon:
As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.

Heart of Darkness

Posted by b on September 25, 2005 at 02:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (108)

September 24, 2005

The Curse

Thesis: The U.S., left and right, has fallen into a trap that will be hard to escape from. A foreign power has infiltrated the decision process. It has replaced justifiable national goals with interests that are incompatible with those goals but further the foreign powers objectives.

That thesis may be too strong, but there are trails, that may explain why it can be a thesis at all.

At the center-left TPM Cafe Larry Johnson states in a sidenote:

The countries in the Middle East genuinely believe that we are encouraging and cultivating the suicide bombers and the break up of Iraq. Why? Because they cannot conceive that a country as large and powerful as the United States could be impotent to deal with this threat. Instead, they are convinced that we have a secret plan we are not sharing with them. They believe that our sincere goal is to create chaos and control the oil resources. They look at me with disbelief and bewilderment when I tell them there is no secret plan and we are as incompetent as they fear.

Johnson thinks the current catastrophe it due to incompetence. He doesn´t believe the Middle Eastern view is correct. "Sorry we can´t do any better."

But there are some serious hints that what is happening in the Middle East is not incompetence, but an intended picture of incompetence with a deliberate strategy behind.

Let's first check how real that "break up" of Iraq is. Here is a very, very U.S. friendly foreign minister with 30 years of experience in volatile environments:

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war.

[..] He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message "to everyone who will listen" in the Bush administration.
...
The prince said he served on a council of Iraq's neighboring countries - Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Kuwait as well as Saudi Arabia - "and the main worry of all the neighbors" was that the potential disintegration of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict."
Saudi Warns U.S. Iraq May Face Disintegration, NYT, Sep. 23, 2005

After talking to the Bush administration and being rejected, Saud al-Faisal is so desperate, that he goes public. This is unprecedented!!!

He is rallying against the Cheney's administrations Middle East policy in the name of six Iraqi neighbors. He knows what actions the US could take and is not taking. He is asking why.

He may also remember these, not so incompetent, writings:

The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unqiue areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.
...
In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. [..] Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.
A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon, Feb. 1982, ISBN 0937694568

Saud al-Faisal is an experienced politician. He was already some years into his job when the Yinon/Likut concept was published. He has seen how it evolved. He has also seen how the US administration evolved under several Presidents. He understands America's situation and goals and has accommodated it for 30 years.

But by now he will agree with another conservative's, Tom Clancy's, evaluation of a senior Cheney neocult administration official:

CLANCY:  Is he really on our side?

NORVILLE:  You genuinely ask that question?  Is he on our side?

CLANCY:  I sat in on—I was in the Pentagon in ‘01 for a red team operation and he came in and briefed us.  And after the brief, I just thought, is he really on our side?  Sorry.
'Deborah Norville Tonight' for June 3, Tom Clancy  on MSNBC, June 4, 2004

The Cheney administration is not on the side of Saudi Arabia or Iraq. It is not on the side of the United States. As Seymore Hersh cited an alarmed European Sec. State in a recent talk: "These are Trotskiets - in the sense that they believe in permanent revolution." 

Permanent revolution = permanent war = permanent profits?

Larry Johnson and most of the commentators and analysts in the United States, for whatever reason, are still not able to make the connection such opposite characters as Tom Clancy and Seymore Hersh can agree on.

There is a handful of permanent revolutionaries in deciding positions in the United States' administration who do think that a general, major series of wars across the Middle East will benefit their cause. They have, somehow, advanced this cause so far, that further steps seem inevitable, even to people who are not of their mind:

Larry Johnson, in 2005, continues:

In the coming years the United States may face the unsavory prospect of actually having to invade Saudi Arabia to secure and protect its access to oil.

Odit Yeon, 1982, in a paragraph following the one cited above:

The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia. Regardless of whether its economic might based on oil remains intact or whether it is diminished in the long run, the internal rifts and breakdowns are a clear and natural development in light of the present political structure.

The United States - left and right - Repubs and Dems - seem to be in a trap set up by a handful of Cheney administration officials, their political mentors and the Israeli Likut interest expressed in Yinon's directions. Have all fallen in the above-assumed trap or is there anther explanation?

How can we break this curse?

Posted by b on September 24, 2005 at 04:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

WB: Karma

Billmon:
But tonight I'm going to bed in a vicious mood, with a stomach so full of contempt for this poisoned republic and its brain-dead citizens that I can taste it in my mouth, like bile.

Karma

Posted by b on September 24, 2005 at 02:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (47)

September 23, 2005

WB: Frist Fuck +

Billmon:

Roots

---

Frist Fuck

Posted by b on September 23, 2005 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Hersh on the Neocults

Two days ago Seymour Hersh gave a speech at a conference about Economic Strategies in the Fight Against Terrorism.

A video stream in WMV-Format is available. The Hersh talk starts 5:30 minutes into the stream. Unfortunately there is no transcript (yet). (Maybe that's why the blogsphere has  so far ignored this.)

Some of his talking points were already known, like the "madness of King George II", but there are several things Hersh is revealing which, to my knowledge, are not widly known.

  • Six weeks ago there was a putsch in Mauritania. Hersh says the United States did initiate and supported the coup.
  • The rendition process, to vanish people and deliver them to some torture place in this world or worse, is still going on. Hersh calls it Murder Incorporated and thinks it recently even accelerated.
  • The success in the North Korea negotiation has been made with throwing a lot of US money at the problem. Hersh says he has been told four weeks ago, that a deal has to be done with North Korea to clear the deck for the obligations towards Israel.
  • A deal has been made between the US administration and Israel's Prime Minister Sharon. To keep Sharon in the game in Gaza the US administration promised to take care of Israel's assumed biggest strategic danger - Iranian nuclear weapons (if there are such).
  • Pakistan is developing small nuclear weapons in the kiloton range, essentially at landmine size, transportable. Pakistan is protecting OBL. Pakistani hardcore leadership is afraid they will be next after Iran.
  • Shinseki was seen as a "witch" by the the Neocons because he broke out of the Neocon cult.
  • The government is off-the-books. They don´t trust the CIA. They are using private contractors with ex-CIA folks who don´t have the legal obligations the CIA has.
  • There is plenty off-the-book money the administration is spending with congress eager to look the other way. There are billions from the Iraqi oil deals and $3 billions of Saddam's personal money. This time, there is no need for something like an Iran-Contra deal.
  • If you need to "drink the Kool-Aid to get into the White House" - Negroponte is the one "mixing the Kool-Aid". He has direct access and control over the CIA station chiefs without a need to use the chain of command.

His closing conclusion:

"Since March 2003 the most critical danger to us and to the world is George Bush."

I agree.

Posted by b on September 23, 2005 at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Open Thread 05-96

News and views ...

Posted by b on September 23, 2005 at 02:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (46)

September 22, 2005

WB: Hurricane Force +

Billmon:

Waiting for Bianca

---

MR. McCLELLAN: Sinjay? Q Now that the BJP government in Assam State has been voted out of office, what impact does the President expect the upcoming elections to have on the Multi-Fibre Agreement negotiations on underwear tariffs currently underway in the Doha round of the World Trade . . .

Hurricane Force

Posted by b on September 22, 2005 at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

War War

You know, something we -- I've been thinking a lot about how America has responded, and it's clear to me that Americans value human life, and value every person as important.  And that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. 

You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break.  They're the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it.  We're in a war against these people.  It's a war on terror.

These people are misguided followers of Islam.  They even allow themselves to marry more than one wife.  Such people look at Katrina and they look at Rita. They wish they had caused both of them.  So now we need to double our efforts.  We are in a war war against these people.  It's a war war on terror.

But as I say to my wife, Condi, I say, freedom is on the march and on the april. It is coming and coming.

I want to thank you for your friendship, thank you for the love of America. Thanks to you and to the Hurricanes.

Cheers!

President's Remurks at Republican Jewish Coalition 20th Anniversary

Posted by b on September 22, 2005 at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

WB: Appeasing North Korea

Billmon:

Just as the disastrous failures of the first year of the occupation left the United States so deep in the hole it could never get out, the last two-and-a-half years of unrestrained North Korean proliferation have changed the equation in ways can't be reversed now.

Appeasing North Korea

Posted by b on September 22, 2005 at 02:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 21, 2005

9/11 Anyone?

Duncan linked to a Cafferty CNN show.

The question asking for viewers' responses was:

What should be cut from the federal budget to pay for Katrina?

Silly question of course. But what hit me was one answer from one Andrea shown and read on the screen:

Let the oil companies, Halliburton and others with an interest in Iraqi oil fields finance their own enterprises, it should not be a public expense.

9/11 anyone?

How many are needed before people even start to understand?

Posted by b on September 21, 2005 at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Rita Squeeze

From comments at the Oil Drum:

Refiners: "We are at our limit, can't use the sour crude, pushing off repairs and closing down production in anticipation of Rita"
OPEC: "Want more Heavy Sour Crude? Here's 2 mbd. Otherwise we are at our limit."
Nigeria: "We are in a civil war and cannot guarantee production."
Iraq: "We are in an insurgency/civil war and cannot guarantee production."
Iran: "We are going to leave OPEC and cut exports if you keep trying to block our Nuke plants"
Venzuela: "America is going to invade us for our oil"
Non-OPEC: "We are at our production limit"
GM: Hey, everybody!  Look at the new SUV's we're announcing!  Shiny!

Well, at least you can be sure that Bush will be there:

The president won't be happy until he dons a yellow slicker and actually takes the place of Anderson Cooper, violently blown about by Rita as he talks into a camera lens lashed with water, hanging onto a mailbox as he's hit by a flying pig in a squall, sucked up by a waterspout in the eye of the storm over the Dry Tortugas.

Bush may even recover in the polls on disaster response - if the people see a "strong" president in a Texan hurricane and forget about a very weak president in the Louisiana hurricane. Well, Karl Rove will see to that.

But the price at the pump is the most immediate factor that counts in the polls. Rove has no way to avoid that slump.

If Rita really hits the dangerous spots, Bush will be made responsible.

The folks who once lived in New Orleans will be screwed anyhow. Those 200 billions that somehow will be cut out of any decent program that is left will now go to Texas and directly into Bush's friends pockets. And that will be totally independent of Rita's real strenghts and the real devastations.

Posted by b on September 21, 2005 at 05:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

WB: Sex Police ++

Billmon:

III. The Insider

---

II. Great Moments in Political Leadership

---

I. Sex Police

Posted by b on September 21, 2005 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

WB: The New Black

Billmon:
Did you hear the one about the nun, the monkey and the New Orleans?

The New Black

Posted by b on September 21, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

September 20, 2005

WB: Let's Make a Deal

Billmon:
I've got a sneaking suspicion that some morning soon Shaalan is going to wake up dead.

Let's Make a Deal

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

WB: Safe Hands

Billmon:

But Townsend's previous dirty work assignments at least involved her area of expertise -- intelligence policy and the arcane, Orwellian laws governing the national security state. On the other hand, her resume contains absolutely no job experience whatsoever in the fields of disaster response, emergency relief or the management of large, bureaucratic organizations.

Safe Hands

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

WB: Paging Dr. Mengele

Billmon:

Paging Dr. Mengele

---
Bernhard writing:

Hmm - not quite so. That Baltimore Sun report Billmon cites avoids a lot of context. It is mostly pure manipulation.

We usually blame the right-wing for avoiding context and bending the facts to their liking. We probably should not fall into the same hole (though I admit, sometimes it just happens and sometimes is even fun to do so.)

Please see for yourself:

The EPA briefing is "inviting public comment on a rulemaking", it is not rules set forth. A fair but critical article about the proposed rules would be welcome. But like in any text you can take bits and put them into a bullet point "Ethically deficient" like the Sun or manipulative cite them like this:

Unless there is clear evidence that the conduct of that research was fundamentally unethical (e.g., the research was intended to seriously harm participants or failed to obtain informed consent), or was significantly deficient relative to the ethical standards .., EPA will generally accept and rely on relevant, scientifically valid data from research

Nasty, isn´t it? They really allow unethical studies - these assholes.

But here is the full text (emph. mine):

Sec.  26.601  Human research conducted prior to [effective date of the final rule].

Unless there is clear evidence that the conduct of that research was fundamentally unethical (e.g., the research was intended to seriously harm participants or failed to obtain informed consent), or was significantly deficient relative to the ethical standards prevailing at the time the research was conducted, EPA will generally accept and rely on relevant, scientifically valid data from research that:
(a) Was initiated prior to [effective date of the final rule],
(b) Involved intentional exposure of a human subject,
(c) Did not involve intentional exposure of a pregnant woman, fetus, newborn, or child, and
(d) Is being considered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Can we use data today from studies about pesticitey influence on human health done in the 1960s? We better do so in my view, even if we would probably never allow such studies again.

Another example for a bit of redacted citing are the "neglected or abused children". Read the paragraph:

.. if the IRB [an independent oversight group] determines that a research protocol is designed for conditions or for a subject population for which parental or guardian permission is not a reasonable requirement to protect the subjects (for example, neglected or abused children), it may waive the consent requirements in subpart A of this part and paragraph (b) of this section, provided an appropriate mechanism for protecting the children who will participate as subjects in the research is substituted, and provided further that the waiver is not inconsistent with Federal, State or local law.

Not quite Dr. Mengele's empty pages rulebook.

The "direct benefit" bullet point the Baltimore Sun cites as a negativ is not only not bad, it is good and standard procedure. The EPA paper says:

EPA will conduct or fund research in which the IRB finds that more than minimal risk to children is presented by an intervention or procedure that holds out the prospect of direct benefit for the individual subject, or by a monitoring procedure that is likely to contribute to the subject's well-being, only if the IRB finds and documents that:
(a) The risk is justified by the anticipated benefit to the subjects.
(b) The relation of the anticipated benefit to the risk is at least as favorable to the subjects as that presented by available alternative approaches.
(c) Adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children and permission of their parents or guardians, as set forth in Sec.  26.408.

The EPA paper also asks specifically for public comment on the above rule.

Imagine having children with some kind of very nasty, painful skin condition and no current medicine is helping. Would you allow the use of something that "might well" help but "maybe might" harm? Well, I probably would. Essentially it is the question some parents have to answer when allowing chemotherapy on children with cancer. Usually they go for it.

The last point the Baltimore Sun makes is on the use of foreign studies. Yes, there are countries with bad testing ethics, but there are also countries with good testing ethics and EPA has been accused before for NOT allowing test results from Sweden and elsewhere to influence its ruling. So this point, like the others, depends on the frame you choose to use.

I would love to blast on EPA for several issues. There are even good points to make against the proposed ruleset. But the Baltimore Sun here is not doing a reporting job. It is manipulating the reader with fear by taking issues totally out of context.

That is a typical right wing tactic and I see no reason why the left should go down that path.

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Other Topics Thread

News and views ...

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 03:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

WB: Beyond Satire

Billmon:

.. God has subcontracted the fashioning of reality to the spirits of Mark Twain and Franz Kafka, who are sitting around in heaven like a couple of coked up screenwriters, dreaming up ever more ridiculous characters and swapping increasingly absurd story lines.

Beyond Satire

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 01:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

WB: Hearts and Minds ++

III. Freaks of Nature
---
II. America the Beautiful II
---
I. Hearts and Minds

Posted by b on September 20, 2005 at 01:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (77)

September 19, 2005

WB: America the Beautiful

Billmon:

America the Beautiful

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 05:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

WB: Looters

Billmon:

Looters

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

WB: Body Counts

Billmon:

Body Counts

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

WB: Here We Go Again

Billmon:
Here We Go Again

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

WB: Base Emotions

Billmon:

I'd say the Rovians have meddled with the primal forces of nature -- or at least, with their own dogmatic view on the importance of always pandering to the most reactionary elements within their own political base. It will be interesting to see how the forces of nature respond.

Base Emotions

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 02:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

WB: Back to Iraq

Billmon:

Lind also says he's not been able to confirm that report. But if it's true -- or if other Marines even think its true -- the implications for Iraqification are stark. How do you "stand up" an Army when you can't risk turning your back on the troops once they stand up?

Back to Iraq

Posted by b on September 19, 2005 at 01:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

September 18, 2005

German Elections

I don´t really like to write about Germany - at least not in English - so let me point you to the SPIEGEL German Election Primer to get you some feel for the politics involved.

But let me explain a bit about the German state and election system which, I think, is one of the best systems in today's world and the U.S. and many other countries could need some of its features.

Germany is a federal state. The lower house of the parliament (Bundestag) is elected by popular vote, the upper house (Bundesrat) is filled with representatives selected by the state governments (between 3 and 7 representatives per state relative to its population size).

Regular federal lower house elections are every four year and usually lead to a stable coalition majority. State elections are in between and the majority in the upper house is often different than in the lower house and may change throughout a federal election period. This leads to the need for compromises and helps to keep general politics always  somewhere near the middle of the road.

People in Germany are registered at the place where they live and have a public ID. Four weeks before the election an election card is send to every voter. This card can be turned in to receive an absentee ballot and to vote via mail, or it can be carried to a voting place on election date, always a Sunday, to exchanged for a ballot and to cast a vote.

Voting places are in public buildings usually within a 10 to 15 minutes walk. There are about 1,000 voters to each location. Lines, if there are any, are very short. Ballots are pen on paper. Manipulations are nearly unheard of. Voter participation is around 80%.

Everybody has two votes. Half of the lower house seats go to direct candidates who are elected in their district in a "first past the pole" matter. The first vote on the ballot goes for a direct candidate.

The other half of the lower house seats go to people on party lists in proportion to their overall vote share through the second vote. A party has to collect a minimum of 5% of all votes to get any seats. The Anarchistic Pogo Party may not get past that hurdle.

Reliable results are usually know within a few hours after the vote closes. But as this is a very close race and elections around Dresden had to be postponed three weeks because of the sudden death of a direct candidate, it could be possible that those votes will become decisive and the real results will be unknown until Dresden's results are in.

Chances are for Angie Merkel to win for a CDU/FDP right wing government with a neoliberal economic program. A program it might be, but it will not become reality. The mechanism in place will restrict her to more acceptable policies. The general wish is for a "Grand Coalition" of CDU and SPD to get some controlled reform in place. The vote is on the margin with as much as 20% undecided as of yesterday evening and nobody dares to predict an outcome. But people agree that the outcome will be very narrow and not include a mandate.

So however this election may end, I don´t fear of a radical or doom scenario. If this vote goes to the right, the next state elections will go to the left and the pendulum will swing back. Germany is a very rich and stable country with a lot of resources and possibilities. The current general Zukunftsangst is widely overblown and will change again to willpower for success.

News of the death of the German model has been greatly exaggerated.

Posted by b on September 18, 2005 at 07:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (37)

WB: Big Spender

Billmon:

Maybe Bush's Great Society rhetoric can be sold to the ideological heirs of George Wallace, if Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are willing to run it through the stupidity filter and spend a hell of a lot of air time recasting it as a clever way to stick it to the liberals. But I think the Rovians are taking a real risk of splitting their base in a way it hasn't been split before, ..

Big Spender

Posted by b on September 18, 2005 at 01:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (28)

September 17, 2005

Dancing on Razor's Edge

Commerce beats satire:

The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture.

But you know what happened next?

Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. [...] Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades,
The Onion,  February 18, 2004

The Gillette Company today announced the launch of Gillette Fusion(TM) and Gillette Fusion(TM) Power, revolutionary new wet shaving systems for men [...] Both shaving systems feature a breakthrough 5 blade Shaving Surface(TM) technology on the front of the cartridge, with blades spaced 30 percent closer together than MACH3 blades.
Gillette Introduces Fusion: The Future of Shaving,
The Gillette Company, September 14, 2005

The market? Listen, we make the market. All we have to do is put her out there with a little jingle. It's as easy as, "Hey, shaving with anything less than five blades is like scraping your beard off with a dull hatchet." Or "You'll be so smooth, I could snort lines off of your chin."
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades,
The Onion,  February 18, 2004

Both products feature a superbly engineered handle with an elastomer coating to provide a secure grip, better control, and a design that is elegant, highly functional and as next generation as the products' performance.
Gillette Introduces Fusion: The Future of Shaving,
The Gillette Company, September 14, 2005

Here she comes: Put another aloe strip on that fucker, too. That's right. Five blades, two strips, and make the second one lather. You heard me—the second strip lathers. It's a whole new way to think about shaving.
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades,
The Onion,  February 18, 2004

An Enhanced Indicator Lubrastrip fades to white when optimal shave conditions have been reduced.
Gillette Introduces Fusion: The Future of Shaving,
The Gillette Company, September 14, 2005

Don't question it. Don't say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we're on the edge—the razor's edge—and I feel like dancing.
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades,
The Onion,  February 18, 2004

[S]aid Mr. Hoffman: "We listened to consumers and developed products that meet the shaving needs of all men, with or without facial hair, to help them look and feel their very best."
Gillette Introduces Fusion: The Future of Shaving,
The Gillette Company, September 14, 2005

Posted by b on September 17, 2005 at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Another Weekend Thread

News and views ...

Posted by b on September 17, 2005 at 06:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)