Okay, I’m confused.

So I’m reading this article in the New York Times about the shakeups in the CIA, and a question crystallizes in my mind that’s been there for months… Wasn’t the Director of Central Intelligence roughly equivalent to this “National Intelligence Director” that they’re proposing, and couldn’t a small alteration of the job description meet the 9/11 Commission’s reccommendations??? What’s up with that???

From the CIA’s website:

The Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Truman. The National Security Act charged the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) with coordinating the nation’s intelligence activities and correlating, evaluating and disseminating intelligence which affects national security.

Seems like a no-brainer to me, this National Intelligence Director thing is an attempt to un-do what the old party did and/or re-do it with the current administration’s stamp (funny how much of a tradition that is).

Speaking of liking to “do” things, Mr. Goss is a real winner, all sarcasm intented. Take a look at this:

The report did not mention Ms. Miscik by name, but it criticized the intelligence directorate’s leadership and senior managers, among other things, for devoting too much time and attention to providing updates for policy makers, thus “squandering scarce analytic resources that could be put to better use.”

Because, of course, there’s no need to keep the policy arm of the Bush administration informed.

Bin Laden bites self, plays to own base.

Informed Comment has an astute analysis of the possible impacts of the latest Bin Laden videotape. It is wonderful (despite the darkness of the subject matter) to find a truly three-dimensional view of the Middle East, when all the U.S. media usually gives us is cartoony allegories masquerading as news. I truly believe that the situation in Iraq is more complicated than either the Dems or the Repubs truly wish to admit. A clear examination of the issues is not in the interests of either party – for the Repugs, it would highlight not only that the insurgency does have significant popular support, it would underscore that we shouldn’t be there at all. The Dems, on the other hand, would rather not address the fact that a good portion of the insurgency there is composed of radical terrorists who are killing more Iraqis than Americans.

In this entry is also mentioned a rather interesting change for al-Qaeda, as Zarqawi has just changed the name of his group to “Mesopotamian al-Qaeda” and pledged fealty to bin Laden. Truthfully, apart from noises of solidarity made among like-minded groups after 9/11, I don’t recall hearing about a solid statement of fealty to al-Qaeda from anyone before (then again, I live in the Middle East news vacuum that is the U.S., so who knows). It will be interesting to see if Zarqawi’s pledge is only one of political convenience, since according to Cole’s article, they can only do damage to the reputation the other has with the world at large, and Iraq in particular.
Yes, I know I’m speaking of fundamentalist Muslim groups and the topic category icon has a Christian emblem. Perhaps it would explain things if I told you that the icon is also the logo of an excellent punk band named Bad Religion. [SB 1/18/05 – this refers to when the entry was on the PHPNuke site] Speaking of which, I reccomend you go to their site and pick up a copy of the lead singer’s PhD Dissertation!!!!

Revisiting a sick feeling in my stomach.

I was reading Debi Smith’s article A Christmas Story” over at Alternet, and when I followed a link within it and went back to her commentary on the suppression of dissent that was taking place before the election, and probably still is. My hope is that the artificial things created to divide us and shroud the truth fail sooner, rather than later. My Christmas wish is that we get our country back… I think it’s been a lot longer than we realize since it’s been gone.

Note from SB 07/14: “/b/ was never good.” is a sentiment that can be applied to almost any human enterprise. We look into the past with rose-colored glasses quite often, but that’s no reason to not try and make things better.

Do we want this, I mean really?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Shrub is claiming that Social Security privatization would look much like the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (our gratitude to the Wonkette for her pointing at the article in the late summary for Dec 22nd). For the WSJ to be as pessimistic about a pro-business plan as it is in this article, it must stink to high heaven. As a good friend of mine says, however, “but wait, there’s less!”

“Safe is not an adjective I would use” to describe the TSP investment options, says William Shipman, chairman of Carriage Oaks Partners LLC, co-chair of the Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security and a backer of private accounts who advocates an initial limit on workers’ exposure to stocks. Just because an investment option is an index fund “does not get around the risk” of the underlying investments.

While the article goes on to say a few token good things about the TSP, it then describes how people lost their shirts in the stock market bubble.

Okay W, when the friggin Cato Institute, one of the biggest cheerleaders for your “Ownership Society,” is dissing your plan you’ve got no credibility.

Yet another Shrub Flip-Flop

According to The New York Times, (link to IHT.com), the Department of Education is trimming back Pell grants. CNN reports that this is the first change in the program in 50 years.

Because of the changes, which take effect in the 2005-06 academic year and are expected to save the government $300 million annually, at least 1.3 million low-income students will receive smaller Pell Grants, the primary federal scholarship, according to two analyses of the new rules. In addition, 89,000 students or so who would otherwise be getting some Pell Grant money will get none, the analyses found.

The Neo-Cons, focused on their dream of merging Capitalism and Feudalism, are working for it in a thousand different ways, all the time. This is going to force people trying to pay for college to look for alternative funding, and commercial lending organizations are probably overcome with joy.

Interestingly enough, Kerry claimed incorrectly that Bush had cut Pell grants (when actually, what he had done was reneg on the promise to increase them). I guess it’s just a matter of timing.

Gov. Rowland Resigns.

Governor Rowland is resigning over corruption charges, and apparently he had quite a career, going from most loved to most disliked Conneticut Governor ever. Imagine my surprise (I mean it, seriously!) when CNN did not announce his party afilliation, and I looked him up and discovered he was a Republican. (I’m clueless and didn’t know that the Conneticut Governor was a Republican. I am young in the ways of political information, give me time.) And from the timeline in USA Today (see link above) he’d been corrupt for a long, long time.