Later On

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

Archive for July 4th, 2007

Interesting report on the architects of the Iraq War

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This report is probably worth getting and reviewing every few years:

More than four years after the initial invasion, the decision to go to war in Iraq has come to be widely viewed as the “worst foreign policy mistake” in our nation’s history. But the architects of the Iraq war have largely avoided taking accountability for their respective roles in that terrible decision.

In April 2006, ThinkProgress produced a report reviewing the key architects of the Iraq war. ThinkProgress has updated the report with the latest information on where the key architects are now, expanding it to include a few more integral planners of the conflict.

The original thesis remains the same: President Bush still has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war; instead, they continue to reap rewards for their disastrous incompetence. Just this week, we witnessed two glaring examples of this fact:

Paul Wolfowitz: As deputy secretary of defense, he aggressively pushed for war, repeatedly making false assurances about the ease of victory in Iraq. Bush later rewarded him with a post at the World Bank, which he was forced to resign in disgrace after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal. But last week, Wolfowitz announced he was landing at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank that “has the President’s ear” on national security issues.

Scooter Libby: Even though the administration had failed to hold him accountable, a jury of his peers did. But, like many of his Iraq war architects, Libby was given safe refuge by President Bush and spared from serving any prison time, despite lying and obstructing justice in a federal investigation that had its roots in the decision to go to war.

Check out the updated report HERE.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 3:31 pm

Wow! Sicko seems to be working

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Look at this report by Josh Tyler:

Long time readers of this site no doubt know that I live in Texas. As everyone knows there’s no more conservative state in the Union than here. And I don’t just live in Texas; I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Dallas isn’t some pocket of hippy-dippy behavior. This isn’t Austin. Dallas is the sort of place where guys in cowboy hats still drive around in giant SUV’s with “W” stickers on the back windshield, global warming and Iraq be damned. It’s probably the only spot left in America where you stand a good chance of getting the crap kicked out of you for badmouthing the president.

So when I went to see Sicko for a second time this afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the audience. I wasn’t watching it downtown, where the city’s few elitist liberals congregate and drink expensive lattes. I went to a random mall in the mid-cities, where folks were likely to be just folks. As I sat down, right behind me entered an obligatory, cowboy hat wearing redneck in his 50s. He announced his presence by shouting across the theater in a thick Texas drawl to his already seated wife “you owe me fer seein this!”

Sicko started; the stereotypical Texas guy sat down behind me and never stopped talking. He talked through the entire movie… and I listened. The first ten to twenty minutes of the film he spent badmouthing Moore to his wife and snorting in disgust whenever MM went into one of his trademark monologues. But as the movie wore on his protestations became quieter, less enthusiastic. Somewhere along the way, maybe at the half way point, right before my ears, Sicko changed this man’s mind. By the forty-five minute mark, he, along with the rest of the audience were breaking into spontaneous applause. He stopped pooh-poohing the movie and started shouting out “hell yeah!” at the screen. It was as if the whole world had been flipped upside down. This is Texas, where people support the president and voting democratic is something only done by the terrorists. Michael Moore should be public enemy number one.

By the time the movie was over, public enemy number one had become George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy all rolled together. When the credits rolled the audience filed out and into the bathrooms. At the urinals, my redneck friend couldn’t stop talking about the film, and I kept listening. He struck up a conversation with a random black man in his 40s standing next to him, and soon everyone was peeing and talking about just how fucked everything is.

I kept my distance, as we all finished and exited at the same time. Outside the restroom doors… the theater was in chaos. The entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is Texas goddammit, not France or some liberal college campus. But here these people were, complete strangers from every walk of life talking excitedly about the movie. It was as if they simply couldn’t go home without doing something drastic about what they’d just seen. My redneck compadre and his new friend found their wives at the center of the group, while I lingered in the background waiting for my spouse to emerge.

The talk gradually centered around a core of 10 or 12 strangers in a cluster while the rest of us stood around them listening intently to this thing that seemed to be happening out of nowhere. The black gentleman engaged by my redneck in the restroom shouted for everyone’s attention. The conversation stopped instantly as all eyes in this group of 30 or 40 people were now on him. “If we just see this and do nothing about it,” he said, “then what’s the point? Something has to change.” There was silence, then the redneck’s wife started calling for email addresses. Suddenly everyone was scribbling down everyone else’s email, promising to get together and do something… though no one seemed to know quite what. It was as if I’d just stepped into the world’s most bizarre protest rally, except instead of hippies the group was comprised of men and women of every age, skin color, income, and walk of life coming together on something that had shaken them deeply, and to the core.

In all my thirty years on this earth, I have never ever seen any movie have this kind of unifying effect on people. It was like I was standing there, at the birth of a new political movement. Even after 9/11, there was never a reaction like this, at least not in Texas. If Sicko truly has this sort of power, then Michael Moore has done something beyond amazing. If it can change people, affect people like this in the conservative hotbed of Texas, then Sicko isn’t just a great movie, seeing it may be one of the most important things you do all year.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 11:24 am

Weird takes on the Libby case

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From The Anonymous Liberal:

… What I don’t understand, however, are the people like Marty Peretz and Alan Dershowitz, who clearly don’t suffer from the same partisan psychosis as the Mark Levins of the world, but nevertheless share the view that Libby’s prosecution was some sort of liberal conspiracy. Today, in the midst of a totally unhinged rant, Peretz wrote:

This case has been a foul one from the beginning, if for no other reason than that the special prosecutor already knew the name of the federal official–Richard Armitage–who had leaked Ms. Plame’s name–arguably not a violation of any law–when he set out to trap Libby on perjury counts . . .

That’s quite some perjury trap Fitzgerald set given that Libby had already given his false story to investigators months before Fitzgerald was appointed to the case. And as a factual matter, Libby had leaked Plame’s identity to Judith Miller well before Armitage leaked the same information to Bob Novak. It’s pure happenstance that Novak ran with the information and Miller didn’t. But Marty doesn’t care about the facts. This is the realm of truthiness.

Remarkably, though, Alan Dershowitz has a post over at the Huffington Post that actually makes Peretz look sane by comparison. In it, Dershowitz accuses not only Fitzgerald and Judge Walton (both Republican appointees) of being partisans out to get Libby, but he levels the same accusation against the panel of Appeals Court judges who affirmed Walton’s bail decision. As Orin Kerr points out, that three-judge panel included “Federalist Society favorite David Sentelle and solid conservative Karen LeCraft Henderson.” In Dershowitz’s alternate reality, however, all of these Republican appointees are somehow engaged in a political battle with the White House and Libby is just some poor schmuck who got caught in the middle.

Now I realize that both Dershowitz and Peretz hold neoconservative views that make them more likely to view Libby sympathetically. But I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone who isn’t hopelessly blinded by partisanship could think that Libby is the victim of a political prosecution. As Professor Kerr, certainly no liberal himself, recently observed:

The Scooter Libby case has triggered some very weird commentary around the blogosphere; perhaps the weirdest claim is that the case against Libby was “purely political.” I find this argument seriously bizarre. As I understand it, Bush political appointee James Comey named Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Fitzgerald filed an indictment and went to trial before Bush political appointee Reggie Walton. A jury convicted Libby, and Bush political appointee Walton sentenced him. At sentencing, Bush political appointee Judge Walton described the evidence against Libby as “overwhelming” and concluded that a 30-month sentence was appropriate. And yet the claim, as I understand it, is that the Libby prosecution was the work of political enemies who were just trying to hurt the Bush Administration.

I find this claim bizarre. I’m open to arguments that parts of the case against Libby were unfair. But for the case to have been purely political, doesn’t that require the involvement of someone who was not a Bush political appointee? Who are the political opponents who brought the case? Is the idea that Fitzgerald is secretly a Democratic party operative? That Judge Walton is a double agent? Or is the idea that Fitzgerald and Walton were hypnotized by “the Mainstream Media” like Raymond Shaw in the Manchurian Candidate? Seriously, I don’t get it.

Yeah, me neither Orin.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 11:09 am

More on the Libby case

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From Political Animal, by Steve Benen:

In light of Scooter Libby’s scandalous commutation this week, here’s an apples-to-apples comparison that the White House may struggle to spin.

[I]n a case decided two weeks ago by the United States Supreme Court and widely discussed by legal specialists in light of the Libby case, the Justice Department persuaded the court to affirm the 33-month sentence of a defendant whose case closely resembled that against Mr. Libby. The defendant, Victor A. Rita, was, like Mr. Libby, convicted of perjury, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice. Mr. Rita has performed extensive government service, just as Mr. Libby has. Mr. Rita served in the armed forces for more than 25 years, receiving 35 commendations, awards and medals. Like Mr. Libby, Mr. Rita had no criminal history for purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines.

The judges who sentenced the two men increased their sentences by taking account of the crimes about which they lied. Mr. Rita’s perjury concerned what the court called “a possible violation of a machine-gun registration law”; Mr. Libby’s of a possible violation of a federal law making it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents in some circumstances.

When Mr. Rita argued that his 33-month sentence had failed to consider his history and circumstances adequately, the Justice Department strenuously disagreed.

Both Rita and Libby are first-time offenders; both were convicted of the exact same crime. One lied about gun registration; the other lied about his role in outing a covert CIA operative during a time of war. The president believes the prior should be away for nearly three years, but believes the latter shouldn’t spend a single moment behind bars.

I anxiously await the explanation from White House sycophants about Bush’s deep and abiding respect for a justice system in which all Americans are equal under the law.

A few other commutation notes to keep in mind today:

* Sentencing experts cannot find a single other instance in American history in which someone sentenced to prison had received a presidential commutation without having served any part of that sentence. (Bush is quite a trailblazer.)

* Defense attorneys can’t wait to take advantage of the can of worms the president has opened. One legal expert said, “I anticipate that we’re going to get a new motion called ‘the Libby motion.'”

* According to federal data, the average sentence for those found guilty of obstruction of justice was 70 months, not zero.

* And Bush couldn’t even thumb his nose at the rule of law competently. In his commutation order, the president said Libby should still get two years probation. The law says that “supervised release,” as it is called, can only follow an actual prison sentence. Now, Judge Walton doesn’t know how to reconcile Bush law with real law.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 10:51 am

Open a beer with a sheet of paper

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This could be important this summer.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 10:41 am

High-heat, sturdy, portable grill

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This looks like a great grill:

Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Grill

High-powered, on-the-go & nautical BBQ

solaire-grill-sm.jpg

The Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Grill is a full-sized, no-compromises top-quality grill wrapped up in a super-portable package — it even comes with its own carrying bag, and — a very nice touch — has flip locks that hold the lid closed when stowed. This grill is small in size but not cooking power, putting out 14,000 BTUs, or nearly twice what is typical for portable grills. The secret is that instead of conventional burners, it uses a ceramic infrared grid that heats in seconds (less than three minutes), cooks in a flash, and cools down fast (pack away in about 15 minutes) with no coals to dispose of. It uses 1-lb. propane bottles or a 20-lb. tank with optional adaptor, and can also be converted to use natural gas.

The surface area of the grill (155 sq inches) may seem small, but things cook so fast, it will handle a meal for four without any trouble. Proof of the Soliare Anywhere grill’s no-compromises performance lies in the fact that its distributor, Rasmussen’s, recommends that customers buy this small grill as an introduction if considering purchase of the larger Soliaire patio grills that cost thousands of dollars.

Best of all, the Solaire is elegantly designed and ruggedly built for a lifetime of use. The basic unit is commercial grade 304 stainless steel, but one can get a marine grade version in 316 stainless as well. And the unit is super easy to clean: the burner self-cleans simply by letting it run at high for a few minutes after everything is off the grill — anything on the burner simply vaporizes. Both the grilling grate and burner easily lift out, allowing for easy wipe-down of the steel housing.

I never take my grill anywhere beyond our patio, but I wanted a high performance grill that I could set up in an instant and hide away in a closet, as I hate the look of those big grills that take up deck space (it is 21″W x 12″H x 13″D, including the carrying handles, and weighs 20 lbs. with the carry bag). The Solaire fits the bill perfectly, but it is really designed for RV-ers, car-campers, tailgaters and boaters — anyone who needs convenient, portable no-compromises grilling. It also has some nice accessories: car-campers will like the collapsible tripod base, while boaters should check out the gimbaled deck rail clamp.

The only hitch is cost — at $285-$400 the Solaire is more expensive than other portable grills. But as our parents told us, sometimes spending a bit extra on quality saves money (and grief) in the long term. Cost kept me from buying the Solaire three years ago; instead, I purchased another brand name portable for $150. It was great at first, but it was hard to clean and started failing in the second season. I repaired it and donated it to a charity — and then bought the Solaire.   — Paul Saffo

Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Grill
$290 from PatioFurnitureCovers.com
Or $325 from Amazon
Manufactured by Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 10:31 am

Aftershaves and colognes

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If you want to explore the world of men’s fragrances—aftershaves, colognes, and the like—The Wife points out this site, which provides a substantial discount from retail prices. She has always had good experiences with them. Take a look to brighten up the aftershave portion of your ritual.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 7:45 am

Posted in Shaving

Summery shave

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Gillette Executive

Juicy Strawberries: that’s the fragrance of the Honeybee Spa shea-butter shaving soap I used this morning. Very nice summer fragrance, and excellent lather, thanks to the Simpsons Emperor 2 Super brush, a favorite. Good handle, good action, holds plenty of lather.

Three passes with the Gillette Executive that just arrived—a wonderful US razor that looks very like the British Aristocrat and seems as well made and substantial as one of the English Gillettes. Today was an exceptional shave. Aftershave: Lustray Spice, which I like much better than the present-day version of Old Spice.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2007 at 7:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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