Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 6th, 2007

Megs’s favorite canned food

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This is cool: I found Megs’s food on Amazon. She loves this food—if I mix it with the Cat-Man-Doo extra-large dried bonito flakes. And, to my surprise, that second link is to the very store in PG where we buy the stuff. Amazing. The Web in my own backyard.

Posh Pets is important to us because it is where The Wife found Sophie. Well, in fact, it was I who found Sophie, and pointed out the very pretty little girl kitten who was sitting quietly with her paws neatly crossed while her cagemate bit off her whiskers. Whiskers all grown back now, and Sophie is now a very, very BIG girl. But still cute, and still crosses her paws when she’s sitting quietly.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs, Sophie

Looking for Monica in all the bad places

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Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 6:58 pm

If we don’t fight them there, will they follow us here?

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William Douglas explains:

It’s become President Bush’s mantra, his main explanation for why he won’t withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq anytime soon.

In speech after speech, in statement after statement, Bush insists that “this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”

The line, which Bush repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California’s Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on American streets.

But is it true?

Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn’t. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland.

“The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem – that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.”

U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush’s own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States.

Foreign-born jihadists are present in Iraq, but they’re believed to number only between 4 percent and 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgent fighters – 1,200 to 3,000 terrorists – according to the Defense Intelligence Agency and a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a center-right research center.

“Attacks by terrorist groups account for only a fraction of insurgent violence,” said a February DIA report.

While acknowledging that terrorists could commit a catastrophic act on U.S. soil at any time – whether U.S. forces are in Iraq or not – the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best, experts say.

James Lewis, a U.S. foreign policy analyst at CSIS, called Bush’s assertion oversimplistic, but added that there’s a slight chance a few enemy combatants could make their way to the United States after a U.S. troop withdrawal.

“There’s a grain of truth in Bush saying it’s better to fight them there rather than here, but it’s also overstated,” Lewis said. “It’s not like there’s going to be gun battles in the United States.”

Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, agreed.

“There are very few foreign fighters who are going to be leaving the area because they don’t have the skills or languages that would give them access to the United States,” said Benjamin, who served as the National Security Council’s director for transnational threats from 1998 to 1999. “I’m not saying events in Iraq aren’t going to embolden jihadists. But I think the president’s formulations call for a leap of faith.”

“The war in Iraq isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on America,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he’s contradicting the president and other top officials. “If anything, that – along with the way we’ve been treating terrorist suspects – may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy.”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 4:06 pm

Why they want “loyal Bushies”

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From TPMmuckraker:

In the wake of what the U.S. attorney firings scandal has revealed about the Bush Justice Department, it’s hard to imagine a more troubling scenario than this:

A Bush-nominated U.S. Attorney launches a corruption case during an election year that implicates the Democratic governor. He pushes the case, which targets an obscure state bureaucrat and obtains a conviction in June; she’s sentenced to 18 months in prison in late September. The case is featured prominently by Republicans in attack ads against the governor.But when the case is appealed (after the election), the circuit court, in a remarkable reversal, rejects the conviction out of hand, saying that the evidence against the bureaucrat “is beyond thin.” Says one of the three circuit judges, “I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is.”

Well, it happened — in Wisconsin. And the U.S. attorney in the case is Milwaukee’s Steven Biskupic, appointed by Bush in 2002. Somehow he’s been given the privilege of serving beyond his four year term.

Dozens of readers have written in, asking if this is what a “loyal Bushie” looks like. It’s hard to see it otherwise.

Steve Benen has more.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 1:30 pm

Our media: foolish, shallow, easily distracted

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Sigh — it’s hard to believe that we can have a national media so uniformly bad, especially in the sphere of television. It used to be thought that watching television would make you stupid; it now appears that being on television is even worse.

Glenn Greenwald dissects the phenomenon today. The issue at hand now is, of course, Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria. Never mind that a group of GOP representatives are also visiting (the media and the White House are quiet about that). Never mind that Hastert, a Representative under Clinton, visited Columbia and told its leaders to ignore Clinton.

No, all that falls under IOKIYAR. But also the Right also expresses complete shock and outraged at the photo of Pelosi wearing a scarf in a mosque. Yet this same group of outraged journalists and columnists was strangely (and utterly) silent when Laura Bush wore a scarf in a mosque. IOKIYAR.

Read Glenn’s piece this morning and mourn the passing of intelligent journalism.

UPDATE: More IOKIYAR: Newt Gingrich’s trip to the Middle East when he was Speaker of the House and during which he bashed Clinton policy.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 8:44 am

Guantánamo Follies

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An exceptional editorial in the NY Times today. Well worth reading. Here’s an extract:

… It is past time for Congress to undo the grievous damage done by President Bush’s abuse of the Constitution when he created his system of secret prisons and public internment camps to detain selected foreigners indefinitely without any real legal challenge.

In the months since Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the administration has pushed ahead with the show trials permitted by the law. Each development in that courtroom brings fresh evidence of how urgent it is for the courts to strike down that law and for Congress to rewrite it.

The plea bargain: Last month, after being held at Guantánamo for five years, David Hicks, an Australian citizen, pleaded guilty to a single, relatively minor charge in exchange for his freedom. This deal should infuriate any side of the debate.

Americans who support Mr. Bush’s policy on prisoners accepted its premise: that the people in Guantánamo are so dangerous that letting any out will compromise American security. If an injustice were committed here or there, Americans would just have to grit their teeth. How does that square with allowing Mr. Hicks to go home and quickly go free? Worse, the plea bargain seemed timed to help Prime Minister John Howard, a Bush ally whose inaction on the case was becoming a re-election issue in Australia.

For Americans, like us, who are sickened by the Guantánamo prison, the Hicks bargain was emblematic of its lawless nature. If there was evidence that Mr. Hicks was a terrorist, we have yet to see it. He was declared an illegal combatant by a kangaroo court created to confirm that designation, which had been applied long before. He was denied a lawyer and censored by the court when he tried to pursue abuse charges. Under his plea bargain he gave up his right to sue, repudiated his own accounts of abuse and was even barred from talking to the news media about his experience.

To understand why Mr. Hicks still found that sort of deal attractive, remember that once a person is declared an “illegal enemy combatant,” he faces a lifetime in detention. He might be released by a “combatant status tribunal,” but his chances are very slim, and the process mocks civilized standards of justice. If the prisoner is one of the very few that the Pentagon plans to charge with a crime, he will be brought before a military tribunal. That court may use evidence obtained through hearsay, coercion or even torture. If convicted, there is little likelihood that he will be released after serving his time. If acquitted, he just goes back to being an illegal combatant who can be held for life.

The censored confession: On March 14, Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, accused of the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and other crimes, went before a combatant status tribunal. According to a transcript, Mr. Nashiri said he was tortured. But it is Mr. Bush’s policy that no prisoner may allege torture in public, so this is what appeared in the transcript:

PRESIDENT (of the tribunal): Please describe the methods that were used.

DETAINEE: (CENSORED) What else do I want to say? (CENSORED) There were doing so many things. What else did they did? (CENSORED) After that another method of torture began. (CENSORED) They used to ask me questions and the investigator after that used to laugh. And, I used to answer the answer that I knew. And if I didn’t replay what I heard, he used to (CENSORED).

Officials defended this censorship by arguing that interrogation methods are so secret that they cannot be discussed, even by the prisoner. But they also said that Al Qaeda members are trained to claim torture and that Mr. Nashiri lied. If so, why censor the transcript? His answers can’t help Al Qaeda. Tragically, the most likely answer is to spare United States intelligence agents and their bosses, who could face charges if the Military Commissions Act is ever repealed or rewritten. The law gives a retroactive carte blanche to American interrogators for any abuse they may have committed.

The lawsuit: …

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 8:14 am

Outdoorsy shave

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This morning I used Em’s Place Outdoors shaving soap: “Cedarwood, Rosewood, Frankincense, Geranium, Lime, Pine Needle and Lemon essential oils. Has a woodsy-citrus aroma with a hint of floral-spice. Great all-around skin care properties.” (She uses her same fragrances across her products—shaving gel (non-lathering), shaving cream (lathering), aftershave, massage and body oil, etc.)

I built a good lather with the Rooney Style 2 and then mowed down the stubble mercilessly with the Vision. Extremely smooth shave. Alum bar and Pinaud Clubman finished it.

The Gillette black-tipped Super Speed I used yesterday didn’t give me a very long-lasting shave. It may be a good razor for someone just starting because it’s very unaggressive, but the shave it gives is not up to the mark—at least for me. I’ve put it in the box of surplus equipment.

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2007 at 8:10 am

Posted in Shaving

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