Lies And More Lies

Conservatives repeated Bush administration’s misleading comparison between explosives, other munitions

Media conservatives have echoed the Bush administration’s misleading argument that the reported 380 tons of explosives that went missing from the Al Qaqaa facility in Iraq pales in comparison to the reported 405,944 tons of munitions that have been captured in Iraq so far. In fact, explosives — many of which were reportedly in the form of white powder — weigh far less than some other types of “munitions,” which include explosives, but also “rockets, guided and ballistic missiles, bombs … grenades, mines, torpedoes … and devices and components thereof,” according to the Pentagon.

Moreover, one pound of C-4 plastic explosive — of which HMX and RDX, the missing explosives, are key ingredients — was enough to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, as an October 25 Associated Press story noted.

Nonetheless, Vice President Dick Cheney has advanced this misleading comparison, and media conservatives have dutifully repeated it. On October 26, Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Senator John Kerry, saying Kerry “doesn’t mention … the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that our troops have captured and are destroying.” The next day, the Pentagon released two pages of talking points in which it asserted “that the missing explosives are ‘less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the 400,000 tons of total munitions coalition forces have destroyed or lined up to destroy,’” according to an October 28 Washington Times article. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice underscored this point in an October 28 radio interview: “370 tons is a lot, but 400,000 tons is really a lot.”

But the administration is not just making a misleading comparison between tons of powder and hundreds of thousands of tons of artillery shells, bombs, and other ammunition. It is also neglecting a far more apt comparison — between the ammunition captured and the hundreds of thousands of tons of ammunition that are thought to exist but have not been captured. As the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out: “At least another 250,000 tons from Saddam’s regime remain unaccounted for, and some has undoubtedly fallen into the hands of insurgents.”

Sorry about the lengthy quote, I just can’t believe the people out there that refuse to think for themselves and look for the facts on this.

I should note that anything, ANYTHING printed in the Washington Times should be taken with a very large grain of salt (25# salt-lick block recommended). It was founded by members of the Unification Church.

The Washington Times Foundation, a charitable organ/front of some sort, are the same fine folks that brought us the coronation ceremony of Sun Myung Moon and his wife in the Dirksen Senate Office Building earlier this year. Several elected Congresscritters and Senators were in attendance at different points, but to their credit most left quickly when they realized it was some sort of Moonie publicity stunt. My own Congresscritter, Phil Crane, was listed as a member of the “Host Committee,” but in his typical do-nothing way failed to have any real connection with the festivities and didn’t show up (most attendees thought it was a reception honoring various people, and thus only showed up for the refreshments). Apprently, they were all sent “opt-out” invitation letters, and their names might appear on the official invitations unless they specifically said they weren’t attending.

That’s it! It’s like spam for the mind! The vast unthinking masses suck it up without question, ordering more and more political V*gara to keep their shpirits up. The Rethugnicans (not the Grand Old Republicans of yore, but the Neo-con Rethugnicans) are taking tactics out of the mind-control Moonies’ playbook. Why didn’t I think of that?

The fact that the Pentagon released its “400,000 tons” talking points memo via the WT is… interesting. And all the conservative pundits are lined up to endlessly repeat the same misleading, incomplete, and willfully untruthful figures, so that the unthinking believers are calmed and justified in their mindless faith.

My God. What have we come to?

I didn’t expect this in Utah

For 23 years, Carol Sheehan and her husband, Frank, have lived in the same Holladay neighborhood and their politics have remained about as constant as their address.

“My ballot is so stiff it doesn’t bend,” Carol Sheehan said. “It is very straight Democrat.”

But Thursday, her right to place that Democratic vote was challenged by a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives – who also challenged the legal registration of 1,495 other residents in House District 37.

Republican candidate Brice Derek Carsno claims all of those residents do not live in the precincts they are registered in and therefore should not have the right to punch a ballot Tuesday.

State and county election officials, however, disagree and at least one says Carsno’s challenge could be criminal.

“There is no validity to his claims,” Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said Saturday. “It looks to me like what he has done is challenge everyone with another political affiliation than his own.”

He probably just wants to play like the big boys in the swing states. It’s an elegant solution – just challenge every damn Democrat and third-party voter in your district.

Various Republican officials, such as the state elections officer, have condemned the move as “over the top.” The Democratic county clerk may persue misdemeanor voter intimidation charges – possibly even federal charges, since it’s during a presidential election year.

The latter is probably over the top. If he were challenging all those horrible, fishy Demos on behalf of the national campaign, that would be one thing, but Utah will likely turn in the lowest numbers for Kerry, just as they returned the lowest numbers for Gore of any state in the 2000 election.

Perhaps this guy is running scared, as the incumbent he’s campaigning against is a Democrat, and a woman.

Go, District 37! I wonder if that’s my sister Timmy’s district. If so, I wonder if she’s on that list.

Ooh! Stitch! I Love Me Some Stich!

Just in case I have to retreat from the Reality-Based Community into absurdity, the new Stitch’s Great Escape attraction opens Nov. 16 in Disney World. A cow-orker is taking vacation time then specifically for this very event. When we went to Dizzy Whirled and did the Alien Encounter (which has been re-worked with a Stitch theme) it was a pretty good freak-out, and we bought funny pictures in the gift shop.

Could be much, much more fun to have Stitch running around in the dark breathing down our necks…

Hybrid Vigor

my husband David and I had a chance to test-drive a Ford Escape Hybrid today – meaning a partly gas-powered, partly electric-powered vehicle (a decent sized SUV) that gets great gas mileage and is touted as environmentally friendly.

The technology behind it is interesting, innovative, and impressive from my point of view, since it’s designed to be fully integrated and automatic. There is no maintenance required on the battery pack and it never need be recharged (in fact, it can’t be recharged the way it’s designed) because it is continuously recharged by either the generator motor or by “regenerative braking.”

Apparently they’ve figured out how to convert some of the kinetic potential energy generated by the car’s momentum into electrical energy via a braking system that translates excess energy (usually lost as heat) into storable energy that gets fed back into the battery. Clever idea, that – and your brake pads last longer too, because there’s little or no heat buildup owing to the energy conversion.

Actually driving it was the real test – I’m not a terribly enthusiastic driver at the best of times, and very nearly chickened out. However, the demo was conducted as a duck parade, with a lead car, a follow car, and all us ducks in a row in between, five vehicles at a time. The leader was in contact with all of us via low-power FM radio (much as driver’s ed classes are conducted with multiple vehicles). So when we got to the changeover point (which was something called the Peabody Estate, worth another visit sometime) I hopped into the driver’s seat.

First of all, the feel of it is very similar to driving David’s RAV4, so I was very comfortable right off the mark. The line of ducks on parade got started, and I felt for myself the oddity of starting out on electric power, as the gas engine turns itself off and switches to electric power at low speeds or when stopped. There seemed to be plenty of power when I needed it, such as turning right on a red light to keep up with the rest of the pack. And it was a very, very smooth ride.

My own car is a 5-speed stick Corolla – nothing fancy, but it’s good basic transportation. As a clutch driver I am pretty aware of the engine revs, and the momentary feeling of coasting without acceleration when shifting between gears. I even notice when David’s car shifts itself (David does not unless it does something unexpected). But with this car it’s just one smooth acceleration, with no noticeable jumps or thumps between ranges.

The model we drove had an options package that included a schematic power-flow screen that shows what’s going on under the hood. Also it seemed to be GPS-ready and had a CD player as well.

David’s driving patterns differ radically from mine – he drives at highway speeds almost all the time, so he wouldn’t see as much benefit from the electric motor kicking in, we think. The fuel savings calculator they have is fun to play with, but there’s no way to plug in any value for average speed, and the savings are greatest for lower speeds. And when I put in my estimated MPG, my fuel savings are very, very tiny, because I drive a short distance at a relatively high average speed (not as high as David’s, though).

Still, the environmental advantages are very interesting, and the Escape sales literature at the trade show today touted how a lot of the plastic molded parts are made from recycled materials, which I thought was pretty slick (also the fact that they were marketing to the environmental crowd was a given). They’ve formed partnerships with the National Parks Service and with an organic tea company, too.

As a part of the demo, but before we got to drive the car, there was a scavenger-hunt quiz, so we had to find answers at all of the booths. We missed out on a buffet breakfast (dang!) but made do with snacks from Whole Foods and drinks from Honest T teas. The Ford people weren’t like smarmy salesmen… my last remaining worry was that we’d have to sit down for some kind of sales pitch afterward. However, for the most part their demeanor was that of bright people full of enthusiasm and pride for the product. It turned out to be a fun, smoothly organized event (even though it had to be held indoors due to high winds)((not the driving part, silly)).

We came away from it knowing more about hybrid vehicles, and also I felt a lot of admiration for the efforts Ford was making to be more environmentally aware. I don’t know if David will end up buying the Escape Hybrid for his next car, but it made me really think about the environmental issues and the capabilities of the technology. In the real world, my next car (probably 2 or 3 years down the line) will be a gently used Subaru of some kind, but this vehicle definitely makes it possible to be a guilt-free SUV driver.

Support Our Cloned Troops

bushad.jpg
From Salon.com (subscription or ad-nag screen), apparent proof that for some purposes Bushco does not oppose cloning. Such as, making it appear as if a very large crowd of soldiers has got your back.

Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign responds:

“Now we know why this ad is named ‘Whatever it Takes.’ This administration has always had a problem telling the truth, from Iraq to jobs to health care. The Bush campaign’s advertising has been consistently dishonest in what they say. But today, it’s been exposed for being dishonest about what we see.

“If they won’t tell the truth in an ad, they won’t tell the truth about anything else. This doctored commercial is fundamentally dishonest and insults the intelligence of the American people. The Bush campaign has no choice but to take this ad down immediately and issue an apology for its latest attempt to mislead the American people. Unless George Bush has changed his position on human cloning, it’s got to pull this fundamentally dishonest ad immediately.”

P.S. Not one of the 80,000 people at the Bruce Springsteen concert in Madison, WI had a ticket! Not one signed a loyalty oath! And I don’t think there’s any Photoshopping in this picture. Maybe that’s why the Rethugnicans think we progressive liberrrrls are amateurs.

Big Time

Boing Boing makes the Beeb: their item on the official website of Resident W blocking international visitors showed up on the BBC News website.

It seems they found the information about alternate ways to access the site useful.

The One-Fingered Victory Salute

wfinger.jpgYep, that’s the Resident. This was back when he was governor of Texas. If you click on the image, the clip should play (but it’s from Salon.com, so it may throw you into a nag screen first).

Kinda makes you wonder whether that smirking badass fratboy still roams the halls of the White House after the handlers have left for the day.

My Marriage Is NOT Irrelevant

Keyes was also asked about another comment he made last week critical of gay marriage in which he declared: “Where procreation is in principle impossible, marriage is irrelevant.” Keyes said the logic of that statement would not preclude elderly people past child-bearing age from getting married.

Overshare Alert!

Well, in my case “procreation in principle is impossible,” because reproduction has been permanently circumvented. However, this doesn’t stop us from fooling around anyway. Yay!

Therefore, I’m childfree, and Alan Keyes would think I’m a monster, with an irrelevant marriage. Apparently, he would have people who are unable or unwilling to have children remain unmarried and celibate.

Here’s a cluestick for you, Mr. Keyes: My marriage is NOT irrelevant. This is not “logic and philosophy,” it is the rantings of a mentally unbalanced religious kook.

And what’s more, my marriage is NOT threatened if gay people are extended the same right to marry that benefits me and my husband.

IN fact, I happen to think that the institution of marriage is strengthened when more people are legally allowed to marry. I actually think my marriage is threatened if some people are legally prevented from marrying the person of their choice. Just my personal “logic and philosophy;” your mileage may vary.

Otherwise, if we’re going to continue to enforce some hoary old Biblical restrictions on our lives, we’ve got to enforce them ALL. Meaning, we’ve some ‘splaining to do about wearing Godless heathenish cotton-wool blends. Not to mention Lycra and stretch denim jeans (for which I personally thank God). We Christians are woefully slack (except in the matter of our too-tight jeans).

And another thing: Keyes is so not a member of the Reality-Based Community. Eric Zorn had this to say in his column in the Trib, which he titled “Full Metal Alan” and subtitled “Obtusion Confusion:”

In the post-debate news conference at WTTW, a reporter asked Keyes, “Do you think you have a chance of winning this election?”

Keyes responded: “I think I am winning this election, and I think it’s going to be proven on Nov. 2. But, as I say, this is for God to know and for the obtuse media in Illinois to find out.”

He thinks he’s going to win, and we’re obtuse?

See, in his reality he’s winning the election, because God is right and he’s a God-fearing man, and so as he’s right with God, he’s also right about winning the election. God would not let him fail. Right? Riiiiiiight.

Either that, or Republican monkeys will fly out of his butt next Tuesday, armed with provisional voters’ registrations. And they will all look like Karl Rove and Nathan Sproul, and sport natty little 3-decker capes and pillbox hats, just like they wore in the Wizard of Oz.

And golly, won’t we all be embarassed to find out that like the media, we’re obtuse, too. Shucks.