Archive for October 12th, 2006|Daily archive page


Dana Milbank has a wonderful snark post about the forum on school violence moderated by President Bush on Tuesday. In a weird ‘Don’t Mention The War‘ moment, Bush managed not to utter the word ‘gun’ once.

President Bush has always been a disciplined man, but yesterday he set a new standard for self-control: He moderated an hour-long discussion about the rash of school shootings in the past week without once mentioning the word “guns.”

First lady Laura Bush was nearly as good, giving a seven-minute speech at yesterday’s White House Conference on School Safety without mentioning guns. Two longtime aides, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, deftly led hours of panels at the National 4-H building in Chevy Chase with only a few glancing references to weapons.

This was no misfire. The White House, hastily arranging yesterday’s forum to react to shootings over the past fortnight at schools in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin and Missouri, neglected to invite any gun-control advocates. In fact, how the killers had carried out their deeds might have remained a mystery if 19-year-old twin brothers Theo and Niko Milonopoulos hadn’t infiltrated the gathering.

This is one of the reasons I don’t live in America anymore. I understand owning guns. I also know that there is absolutely no easy or, to be honest,  fair way of solving the problem. Unfortunately, what happens in every American election cycle is that the problem is ignored or politicians offer platitudes. Between elections, the issue is swept under the rug as long as there aren’t any major shootings and the NRA and other gun ownership lobbyists work their magic in Washington the rest of the time. 

George W. Bush is an expert in the technique of misdirection and the issue of gun control is no different. Well – Bush is a political expert if not exactly a verbal virtuoso.

[…] He labeled the violence “inexplissible,” apparently merging “inexplicable” and “inexpressible.” And he had to guide the discussion away from one panelist’s remark about “computer predators” — a dangerous topic during the Mark Foley scandal.

Thus, I remain – Inexplissibly Yours

Quicky: Cute Break

The following cuteness paws pause is brought to you by the Chicago Tribune. (Both open new windows)

 Cat and Mouse

An Otter Yawn

Whew! I needed that.

Bush Misquotes Movie

The Washington Post devotes it’s front page to George Bush’s press conference. There really wasn’t much new but I did manage a chuckle, a cluck and a comment.

My chuckle moment came reading the following passage.

“We’re constantly changing tactics to achieve a strategic goal,” the president said, adding that “stay the course” is only a partial description of his strategy in Iraq. “My attitude is, ‘Don’t do what you’re doing if it’s not working; change,’ ” said Bush, who met yesterday with the senior U.S. commander in Iraq to review the progress of the war. ” ‘Stay the course’ also means don’t leave before the job is done.”

This made me think of the 1985 Steve Holland movie ‘Better Off Dead.’ The main character Wayne, played by John Cusack, is planning on trying the most dangerous run at a local ski resort. He is standing on the edge of the abyss and asks a friend for advice. The friend (after snorting an amazing amount of ‘snow’ and freezing the left side of his brain) has the following advice: ‘Go that way – really, really fast. If something gets in the way – turn.’ I am not comforted by the fact that the American policy in Iraq can be accurately compared to a 1980’s teenage angst comedy. (Even if it is one of the best films ever made. Two! Dollars! – Fans know what I mean.)

In further snarking… the following paragraph managed to get my dander up.

Answering a question about the North Korean nuclear test, for instance, he explained his reluctance to engage in direct talks with Pyongyang by saying that the Clinton administration tried such an approach and it did not work. He said that North Korea violated a 1994 agreement in which Pyongyang promised to shut down its nuclear reactor and keep spent nuclear fuel under international supervision, and that the U.S. government promised certain benefits such as providing oil for energy production.

For shame Washington Post, for shame. While I am sure this is what Mr. Bush said and that the reporting of the comment is accurate, the spin involved in the statement makes my head – well – spin. You see, Pyongyang had shut down its nuclear reactor and did have the spent nuclear fuel under international supervision. What Pyongyang had done was process some of the rods prior to international supervision. I give you version as related on PBS’ Frontline,

When the Yongbyon faculties were closed, 8,000 fuel rods containing about 50 metric tons of uranium were removed. from the five-megawatt reactor to a storage facility. This spent fuel was estimated to contain 25 to 35 kilograms of plutonium.

It is still uncertain exactly how much plutonium was extracted before the Yongbyon facility was shut down. An unclassified January 2003 CIA report estimated that North Korea “probably has produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two, nuclear weapons.”

In December 2002, following the U.S. discovery of its uranium enrichment program, the North Koreans turned off all monitoring equipment at Yongbyon and expelled the IAEA inspectors. Three months later, they restarted the five-megawatt reactor. At its current rate, the reactor would have to operate for almost a year to produce enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon.

If the North Koreans begin reprocessing the spent fuel that was removed in the 1994 shutdown, however, they could have enough plutonium for five or six bombs within months. If they complete construction on the two larger reactors that were halted in 1994, some estimate that within several years Pyongyang could be producing 30 to 50 plutonium-powered nuclear weapons annually.[my emphasis]

And further from William J. Perry in the Washington Post

Then in 2002, the Bush administration discovered the existence of a covert program in uranium, evidently an attempt to evade the Agreed Framework. This program, while potentially serious, would have led to a bomb at a very slow rate, compared with the more mature plutonium program. Nevertheless, the administration unwisely stopped compliance with the Agreed Framework. In response the North Koreans sent the inspectors home and announced their intention to reprocess. The administration deplored the action but set no “red line.” North Korea made the plutonium.

Note, as I understand the story, the plutonium for the bomb was extracted very slowly during a covert program during the Agreed Framework of 1994. Had the Clinton administration not started talks, North Korea would be producing even more plutonium. And since the covert enrichment program had been discovered, even that wasn’t a further realistic threat. I won’t even go into Donald Rumsfeld’s involvement with the sale of the light water reactors designed to replace the two plants closed by Pyongyang. (Hat Tip: MoxieGrrrl)

Finally, my roundup of this review ends with the question as to why I learn of this Lancet article in the last two paragraphs of an article about a speech by the American President?

Bush said he does not find credible a new report in the British medical journal the Lancet that estimates that 655,000 more Iraqis have died since coalition forces arrived than would have died without the invasion. In a comment in the journal, the editors said the study was reviewed by four outside experts, all of whom recommended publication, with one noting the “powerful strength” of the research method. The findings, however, have a large margin of error. The low-end estimate of excess deaths (both civilian and military) is 393,000, while the high-end estimate is 943,000.

Bush disputed the study’s numbers but did not supply his own. “I do know,” he said, “that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me, and it grieves me

Excuse me? According to the premier British medical journal 655 THOUSAND more Iraqis have died since America invaded and this is on the second page in the ‘Fluff and Cuddle’ part of the article? For once I am speechless.

Maybe I really would be ‘Better Off Dead.’