Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Painting On-Line: Jackson Pollack Style

This is the COOLEST thing ever!! Click this and start painting. Make your own Jackson Pollack creation.

Added: Click the mouse to change colors

Hatttip: Seeing the Forest

A Classic Case of Torture Not Working

From Think Progress we get a sneak peak at Ron Suskind's new book, "“The One Percent Doctrine." He tells the story of Abu Zubaydah. A crazy man, literally, who was tortured for information when he had none. Of course, he told them whatever they wanted (he had quite the imagination) and the American government ran around chasing bad leads.

From the Washington Post'’s review of the book:

Bush "“was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,"” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "“Do some of these harsh methods really work?"

Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep.

Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety - —against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "“thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each... target."” And so, Suskind writes, "“the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."”

Update: From TPM we learn more.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
After finding out from the CIA that Abu Zubaydah was a crazy man who was nothing more than a glorified chaeffeur for al-Qaeda wives, the President makes a major speech highling Abu Zubaydah as a high level agent for al-Qaeda.
"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied.
So we tortured him.

UPDATE II: Matt Yglesias provides a timeline.

How Bad Is It Really In Iraq?

Below is a Baghdad Embassy cable regarding the current conditions in Iraq. PDF Link

Iraq is slowly transforming into a radical Islamic Republic in the image of Iran, or it may devolve into a Afghanistan/ Taliban model. These are bad omens.

Hattip The Agonist.

“You did not stutter . . .”

Raymond James explains what they see going forward. "Trading Lows"
Last Monday I was on the Nightly Business Report (NPR), again on Tuesday morning I did CNBC. On both of those venues I stated a “trading low” was likely at hand that would hopefully begin the bottoming sequence seen at most of the tradable “lows” of the past five years. That sequence typically begins with a trading low, followed by a sharp “throwback rally,” and then a subsequent pullback to those recent trading lows for a successful retest before the bottoming sequence is complete. And “You did not stutter,” was the comment from one portfolio manager shortly after our interview where I flatly stated that a “trading low” was at hand and recommended a scale-in buying approach for “trading positions” using the various indexes. That strategy was reprised repeatedly in our comments last week where we recommended buying a one-third trading position on Tuesday, another one-third position on Wednesday, and the final one-third on Thursday. While we recommended buying the first two tranches on Tuesday and Wednesday’s opening prices, we did not “buy” the final one-third position due to Wednesday’s outsized rally (DJIA +110 points). Plainly, our “buy ‘em” recommendation has played in spades even though we “flinched” on the final tranche of our buying program during Thursday’s upside explosion, refusing to “pay up” for a complete “trifecta.”
Read the whole thing from Raymond James.
while this current “throwback rally” in the U.S. equity markets has been impressive and may last another few sessions, we are worried about the subsequent downside retest . . . and continue to defensively position accounts accordingly.
Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worse. Bear market here we come.

Hattip The Agonist

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Fathers Day!

To all the dads out there, happy fathers day. I personally am not the best person on the planet, but I know for sure I would not be worth a damn if it wasn't for my dad. Anyone man can be a father, but not all men earn the name "Dad". My dad more than earned that name, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Today is the day everyone should take a moment to do something nice for their father. For those who don't get along with their fathers so well, you can still do something nice for them, and for others as well. For example, if you don't get along with your father and he is a Republican, send him a nice fathers day card letting him know you have made a donation to Hillary Clinton's re-election campaign. If they are a hunter, make a donation to PETA for them, the possibilities are endless, so make sure you do something nice for them on their day.


So why was Iraq a bigger threat then North Korea?

Whether or not North Korea is going to test a long range missile that can hit the U.S. mainland at this point really makes no difference to me. I am just so angered by the entire North Korean problem, that not much else could make me feel any madder.

There was a time many years ago when Bush was speaking about the dangers of nukes and WMD's. He spoke about rogue nations and the threat of them spreading these weapons to terrorist organizations around the world who wished to harm Americans. We were told that this threat must be dealt with, we now lived in a post 9/11 world and if we don't act now, another 9/11 even worse could befall us.

So flight suit Bush with cod piece and all took to the safety of his secured fortified bunker complete with maps that were decorated with toy armies, and plans began to take shape. This was good because in another region of the realm, the evil, but comical "Dear" leader was starving his people to keep a secret underground lab to build diabolical weapons of evil.

The "Dear" leader was not without humor though, as he did have the largest Daffy Duck collection in the world, or some weird thing like that. Anyway, the "Dear" leader back in his lab was making sure evil would be done, even if it meant engineering "sharks with frikkin laser beams on their heads".

So, it was good that flight suit Bush was putting plans together. Until he unveiled the plans, and they called not for a civilized, sane approach to deal with "Dear" leader, but a completely un-civilized, insane approach to deal with some other madman who was not an actual threat to the U.S.

So now, many years later, we catch up to the story in progress, and "Dear" leader, has nukes. He has WMD's of all kinds. He now wants to test or not test rockets that can hit the U.S. Should I be angry about this? Does this seem completely insane, or am I just missing something? Either way, this doesn't make me any angrier, like I said, I am already beyond that point on this subject.

Time for some dear Prudie action

Just some random rants and suggestions of problems some of us may have had to deal with. Who knows, we all have crazy family members. Remember, if your entire family is extremely normal, that means your the crazy one.

Taliban getting bolder

I am starting to think that we may have dropped the ball in Afghanistan. I seriously hope I am wrong, but my gut tells me that the Taliban are sensing a weakness in the U.S. military structures, and they are trying to see if they can exploit it. It really is no secret that our military is stretched pretty thin at the moment, with our troops so heavily deployed in and around Iraq, that Afghanistan may pay the price.

With all the recent events, Iraq, Katrina, the border, etc.., we may have our military to spread out to quickly and effectively respond to an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan. This is were I think the Taliban our hoping to exploit the situation. They have large numbers of fresh, battle trained fighters from the Iraq war, that are most likely in my guess fading back to Afghanistan to further fight the western infidel.

Iraq is so jacked up that all our focus is there, so while our attention is diverted, the Taliban will take advantage, and increase attacks. They don't have to actually be all that effective, they just have to increase the level of overall hostility in the country. With increased attacks, and the U.S. military's lack of ability to respond with extra troops on the quick, the situation will not disintegrate completely, but it will start to look like it may. If in country, things begin to feel worse, and sentiment towards the U.S. gets worse, slowly the tempo rises, and more and more young people with nothing to do will find something to do.

As the slow, but building cycle of attacks increase, and the inevitable inability of the U.S. military to respond properly, things are going to get worse. If the appearance of Taliban success increases, we will have a real problem in that country. If they have moved from attacking with 100 men to now using up to 400 men, they have increased their ability to achieve their objectives by 4 times. While they are increasing their success rate, our success rate is sure to fall. If we don't actively have the ability to counter their moves with more men of our own, how can we keep Afghanistan stable?

The Taliban think if they step it up enough, we won't be able to respond, and they may be right. What happens if that is the case? What does the U.S. and the international community do if the Taliban are to actually start taking over meaningful areas of territory? How well is the American public going to stomach another "Iraq" type situation in Afghanistan? The reality of the situation is, when all is done and over with, the U.S. and the Bush legacy may leave a completely shattered Middle East. The rest of the world may see the U.S. go into a region with the military, one place with justification, one without, but both left off worse then they were before.

Or of course, my gut may just be being extremely cruel to me, and I am just off the deep end on this. It may be entirely possible that the Taliban are just trying to "take advantage of a closing window", and they know they are losing what little control they have left. I hope that is the case, but this is not the first time I have heard the enemy is in its last throws.