“CIA report? What CIA report?”

The CIA is sitting on their 9/11 responsibilty analysis until after the election. Gee, I wonder why?

“The agency directorate is basically sitting on the report until after the election,” the official continued. “No previous director of CIA has ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress.” None of this should surprise us given the Bush administration’s great determination since 9/11 to resist any serious investigation into how the security of this nation was so easily breached. In Bush’s much ballyhooed war on terror, ignorance has been bliss. The president fought against the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, for example, agreeing only after enormous political pressure was applied by a grass-roots movement led by the families of those slain. And then Bush refused to testify to the commission under oath, or on the record. Instead he deigned only to chat with the commission members, with Vice President Dick Cheney present, in a White House meeting in which commission members were not allowed to take notes. All in all, strange behavior for a man who seeks reelection to the top office in the land based on his handling of the so-called war on terror.

From the LA Times (reg required), via BoingBoing. No-reg version of story here.

In which we review amusements before they expire

Some time ago, some of us went to a certain US city to perform a certain pre-nuptual ritual for a friend of ours. In what can only be described as a stunning lack of discretion, said trip was well-documented with photographs, which (in a further lapse!) found their way to the Internets at CarlsGoneWild.com.

We here at Heathen Central have received word, however, that this domain will expire in a little over two weeks. The pictures are safe, but the domain itself will vanish sometime before Thanksgiving. Go back and enjoy the pictures again — if you know the password. And then, once you’ve done it, go congratulate Carl for surviving the weekend, and for actually (finally!) marrying that girl.

So this is a test of something new

Like most geeks, I have a favorite editor. Unlike some, though, it’s not a religion for me. On my Mac, for years I’ve used and love BBEdit, which has been the King Hell editor in the Apple world for a long time. The advent of OS X allowed things like Emacs and Vim to make some inroads as some folks converted from Planet Unix, but BBEdit remained the “hometown” favorite for most the Mac hackers I know.

Well, comes now TextMate which, while perhaps not as fully featured or mature as BBEdit, does include some tempting tricks — like folding sections of a file, not to mention what is probably better integrated project management, plus bone-simple invocation of system commands from within the editor and some rather elegant and not at all “Clippyesque” smart-typing features. It’s cheaper, too, so I’m giving it a whirl.

Of course, the lack of a Perl syntax highlighting mode is off-putting (though I could roll my own pretty easily, it appears), and I’m vexed by the lack of a “normal” application preferences menu, so it’s not without its drawbacks. It’s also short on docs (outside of their site; nothing comes in the downloaded bundle), which is almost criminal, and its “project” construct isn’t as flexible as BBEdit’s new drawer feature (though in being less flexible, it actually offers features BB doesn’t, so it (like everything else [HDANCN?]) is a tradeoff). More subtly, I note (via this review) that it lacks a Print option, which somewhat puzzling, but presumably they’ll address this at some point.

Just so you know

The Feds want to know every bit of travel data the airlines have from June of 2004 as a pilot (heh) for a new program called “secure flight.” Think of it as Son of CAPPS II. While the government may even believe this is to fight terrorism, it goes without saying that eventually, it’ll get abused and warped into something else.

Needless to say, we feel this is a very, very bad idea. We continue to fear creeping government intrusion into private life far more than we fear random terrorist attacks, particularly when 9/11 itself may well have been prevented if so many folks hadn’t been asleep at the switch or too partisan to pay attention to warnings from the prior administration.

This looks an awful lot like desperation to us

A week or so ago, John Kerry mentioned that Dick Cheney’s daughter was a lesbian. As we and others have noted, this is in no way news; Mary Cheney has been very open about her sexuality for years, even serving in official and unofficial gay & lesbian outreach roles. Kerry, for his part, said nothing negative at all about this; he merely noted that the VP’s daughter was gay, and that he didn’t think she had any choice in the matter:

We’re all God’s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.

Well, you’d never know the context from the shitstorm the right side of the press has stirred up; they’ve spent an awful lot of ink describing this as somehow akin to pointing out that someone was unfaithful, or had an abortion, with all the assumed moral equivalency that implies. Clearly, the reasoning goes, Kerry was hitting below the belt here.

Er, what? How’s that again? Kerry notes Mary’s orientation — in a pretty fair and basic statement, with no value judgements attached — and in doing so calls attention, subtly, to the GOP’s position on All Things Gay. The GOP, in response, goes into a frenzy of weird accusations, and in doing so say (or imply) all sorts of nasty things about gay people. And yet somehow Kerry mentioning Mary’s orientation is the problem. Wow.

Have a look at the Media Matters roundup for more.

“We’re an empire now. . . when we act, we create our own reality.”

Another scary passage from Suskind’s faith-based presidency article:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency. The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”


The Jon Stewart Media Smacktown

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart went on Crossfire (big-ass file) to spank Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. The audience was with him; the hacks were a bit taken aback. The best part may be this exchange (transcript here):

STEWART: But the thing is that this — you’re doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great. BEGALA: We do, do… (CROSSTALK) STEWART: It’s not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it. CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you’re accusing us of partisan hackery? STEWART: Absolutely. CARLSON: You’ve got to be kidding me. He comes on and you… (CROSSTALK) STEWART: You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: What is wrong with you? (APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I’m just saying, there’s no reason for you — when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy’s butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It’s embarrassing. STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far — you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think. STEWART: You need to go to one.

As it happens, ol’ Tucker didn’t quite like getting called on the bullshit state of TV news, eh?

More Confirming the Obvious

A Knight Ridder review of the administration’s Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions. cite

“Mission Accomplished” indeed.

Why We’re Doomed

A NYT article about the faith-based presidency Bush has given us includes the following passage:

[an introducing supporter] said he ”looked to God” and said what was in his heart. ”The United States is the greatest country in the world,” he told the rally. ”President Bush is the greatest president I have ever known. I love my president. I love my country. And more important, I love Jesus Christ.” The crowd went wild, and they went wild again when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush’s periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it — and ”it” was the faith. And for those who don’t get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ”You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. ”No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!” In this instance, the final ”you,” of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

It’s a long article, but it’s worth reading.

We’re so fucking doomed. People are idiots.

More on Mary Cheney

Fafblog, of course, does it better than we could:

Dick and Lynne Cheney are right to be outraged [. . . ]. And this outrage comes not because they feel that homosexuality is shameful or icky or full of cooties. It is because they know that the greatest shame one can bring to a lesbian is to note their existence. Before John Kerry’s terrible words, Mary Cheney only had to be gay to her family, her friends, the Coors Corporation, the staff of Bush/Cheney Re-Elect, and the gay community at large to whom she acted as a liason. But John Kerry made her gay to the entire world, effectively making her more gay than ever before. (Emph. in original)

Okay, so, this sucks

I can’t seem to find an answer for this, so I may as well post here. I’m probably fucked, since I think I’m very nearly the most technical person who reads this damn thing, but hey, a man can dream.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been wholly unable to use the new builds of Firefox or Thunderbird. Either tool launches fine, and works great for its first run — but only that. If I quit and restart, the tool comes up fine, and even shows an appropriate window, but all the menus to the right of the application menu are gone, and keyboard shortcuts that would trigger functions from those menus are similarly impotent. Trashing the profile directory will make it work again, but that’s a bit too much of a PITA for me. I’m running Mac OS X (10.3.5), and I’ve observed no other weirdness.

Any advice?

It Just Keeps Getting Better.

The Justice Department has intervened to delay the discovery and despositions in a 2002 New Hampshire felony election fraud case until after the election. Said discovery is almost certain to be embarrassing to the GOP, since it’s likely to involve the actions of one Jim Tobin, a so far unindicted co-conspirator in the case (two others have already entered guilty pleas, and their statements name Tobin). Tobin is New England regional chair for BC’04.

Josh Marshall has more, including cites to local paper coverage.

If you vote for Bush, remember what you’re voting for.

Dept. of Desperate Measures

Presumably, everyone who reads Heathen is just as puzzled as we are about the right-wing response to Kerry mentioning that Mary Cheney is gay. I mean, the woman’s been out for years, and did outreach work into the gay/lesbian community for Coors. Being gay is part of her resume. She’s also got a high-profile job with BC’04, so it’s not like she’s not political.

It occurs to us that perhaps they only reason they’re (pretending to be) pissed off about this is because the GOP thinks being gay is something to be ashamed of.

As always, Josh Marshall has more, and there’s a fairly even-handed treatment from the wires over at Salon.

Dept. of Shit We Wish We Were Making Up

UNITED NATIONS – The United States has refused to join 85 other heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman’s right to education, health care, and choice about having children. President Bush (news – web sites)’s administration withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to “sexual rights.” cite

“I truly am not that concerned about him.”

The title quote is Bush, speaking about Osama bin Laden. This is what Kerry was talking about in the debate. Of course, around the same time, Bush was doing his level best to get us to attack someone who hadn’t actually threatened us. Some might call this a lack of focus.

Josh Marshall, of course, has more, as does Atrios, who references a Washington Post story worth noting for its unusual focus on the degree to which Bush has simply ignored bin Laden in favor of his hard-on for Saddam.

A bit more: MediaMatters notes the bizarro-world spin some major media outlets put on the obvious falsehood. What’s that about the “liberal media” again?

Dept. of In-No-Way-Good Developments

Approximately a jillion people have passed this TinyRevolution post our way in the last day or so. Precis: Sy Hersh spoke in Berkeley last week, and had a very disturbing story to relate passed to him by a soldier in Iraq. Hersh, for those with short memories, also wrote the more authoritative pieces on the Abu Grahib scandal.

Shining City on a Hill? Who, us?

Dept. of PowerGrabs

CNet is reporting that the DOJ has requested sweeping new powers to prosecute piracy. Not the “Arrr!” kind, but the kind where you copy a CD or a movie. Heretofore, these pursuits have been the responsibility of the rightsholder; now, that powerful lobby is trying to get the government to stack the deck in their favor even more.

This is a profoundly bad idea, but so was copyright extension, and Congress bent over for the RIAA/MPAA cabal then, too — this time, it’s even more attractive to the Feds, since it means more power for them. Remember, once governments get power, they’re loathe to give it up — which is why laws like RICO, PATRIOT, and provisions like these are such bad ideas.

Yet More Data On Why Microsoft Sucks

I noticed my machine was slowing down, so I checked the activity monitor tool. I’d loaded a large (2.5MB) document into Word, but wasn’t using it at the moment — nevertheless, Word was chewing up TWENTY PERCENT of the CPU despite being a background task.

What the hell is wrong with those people in Redmond?