Saturday, December 06, 2003

Iran Contra On and On...

I'm so tired of this crap.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — When clandestine meetings between Pentagon officials and Iranian dissidents were first revealed last summer, the Bush administration played down the importance of the contacts, particularly with one participant — a discredited Iranian deal maker who had played a role in the Iran-contra affair in the late 1980's.

But now officials say the initial meeting with the Iranians was organized with the knowledge of a top national security adviser to President Bush, who also informed George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is examining the December 2001 and June 2002 meetings, which were initiated by Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian who acted as a middleman in the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration and was long ago labeled a fabricator by American intelligence officials. One important question is whether any senior administration officials were aware of his involvement before the meetings.

Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush's deputy national security adviser, raised no objection when Pentagon officials told him of plans to meet with the Iranians in late 2001, several officials said. A senior administration official familiar with Mr. Hadley's version of events said Mr. Hadley did not remember being told that Mr. Ghorbanifar would be at the meeting.

When the contacts with Mr. Ghorbanifar and other Iranians were first reported in the press last summer, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that nothing came of the meetings and that beforehand, "Everyone in the interagency process, I'm told, was apprised of it." But the high-level attention the meetings received at the White House and other agencies was not disclosed then.

The fresh details about the contacts also illuminate a schism between American intelligence agencies and more hawkish officials at the Pentagon and in the White House who pursued the contacts.

As part of its review of intelligence agencies' work before the war in Iraq, the Senate Intelligence Committee is also examining the influence of a small group of analysts working for Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy and planning. The Pentagon officials who met with Mr. Ghorbanifar worked in Mr. Feith's policy office.

Mr. Ghorbanifar's involvement caused concern within the Bush administration because it evoked memories of Iran-contra and questions about whether the Pentagon was engaging in rogue covert operations. The Pentagon has conducted its own internal review of the Ghorbanifar matter, officials said.

Kucinich Ad

This is interesting. It's the kind of thing scrappy snowballs-chance-in-hell candidates should be doing. I'm not quite sure if the nation is at the point where they're ready to see such things. In fact, I doubt any network would even run it (has it been run?)


...Just to clarify, what I meant was I'm not entirely sure that running an ad like that (for real, not just on the website) would be effective for the more general cause of electing a Dem for president. It may or may not, what do I know. But, if I were such a candidate whose only hope (in fact, primary realistic purpose) was to make a little noise and stir things up a bit that's what I'd be doing.

And, while I'm continuing to violate my no primary rule, let me just say that I dislike Kucinich both because I disagree with much of what he says, and even when I agree with him I don't think he's very good at packaging his message to appeal to a wider audience. I think he's very successful at appealing to his audience. I went to see him speak once and he got me to my feet cheering with the rest of them, but it didn't make me think Kucinich should be our next president. I think the party could use a few more like him - we need to shore up our left flank a little bit - but that's not the same thing as saying our party should be run by people like him.

Kucinich, despite his charms, is no Paul Wellstone - who also wouldn't be elected president, but would have had a lot greater chance had he ever decided to do such a thing.

Have You Seen the Little Piggies

Gotta love those small guvmint Republicans:


Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, persuaded key lawmakers to set aside $50 million for the rainforest project in Coralville, just outside Iowa City. Organizers call the project an unparalleled opportunity to teach children the wonders of the jungle, showcase clean energy concepts and boost the local economy by drawing tourists from across the Midwest. It would including a 20-story translucent dome.

...

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nevada, says his swimming-pool project has more to do with polliwogs than pork.

He says he and some friends were responsible for clogging the drain with tadpoles, causing the pool to be temporarily shut down in the 1950s. He expects Congress to approve the $225,000 to repair the 61-year-old pool in the working-class neighborhood where he grew up in Sparks.

"I have an enormous guilty conscience for putting frogs in the swimming pool when I was about 10 years old," he said.

Then and Now

Then:

Democrats were infuriated when Governor Bush said at the Republican convention in Philadelphia last month that two U.S. army divisions, if called into action by the president, ''would have to report 'not ready for duty, sir.'''

Those divisions are now combat-ready, Democrats argued, a fact confirmed by General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Now:

Four Army divisions -- 40 percent of the active-duty force -- will not be fully combat-ready for up to six months next year, leaving the nation with relatively few ready troops in the event of a major conflict in North Korea or elsewhere, a senior Army official said yesterday.

The four divisions -- the 82nd Airborne, the 101st Airborne, the 1st Armored and the 4th Infantry -- are to return from Iraq next spring, to be replaced by three others, with a fourth rotating into Afghanistan. That would leave only two active-duty divisions available to fight in other parts of the world.


Obviously after a long term deployment there's going to be a decrease in readyness. Cheney knew that when he made his false charge in the campaign.

Angels in America

Don't forget, it's on this Sunday on HBO, which I don't get though I'll find someone to tape it for me. The reviews are all stellar. Arthur Silber has some comments.
Of course, if someone could send me a screening DVD, that'd be great too.

Fatal Mistake

Eric Alterman describes a meeting at Al Franken's place with John Kerry and a bunch of other people. [How come you never get invited to these things?--ed. Dunno.]

I think there are a lot of reasons that the Kerry campaign has failed to catch fire. Count me as one who, 8 months or so ago, would have bet money on him becoming the candidate. I still don't think he's done with, and nor do I believe in the inevitability of Dean. But, I agree that one of Kerry's main problems is this:

Kerry and I had what candidates call a “spirited exchange” in which he defended his vote. He said he felt betrayed by George Bush, whom he had believed, had not yet made up his mind to go to war when the vote was taken. He never expected a unilateral war given the way Powell, Scowcroft, Eagleberger and others were speaking at the time. He defends his willingness to trust the president of the United States, but now realizes that this was a big mistake. At one point, after answering somebody else’s question, he turned back to me and pointedly—one might even say “passionately”—insisted, “And Eric, if you truly believe that if I had been president, we would be at war in Iraq right now, then you shouldn’t vote for me.”

Unlike plenty of pundits who pretend they don't understand what Kerry's position on the war has been, or pretend that he's being inconsistent, I understand what Kerry's is. He claims he truly believed that voting for the resolution was voting for a show of strength to put the pressure on Saddam. I'll take him at his word about that... but that's precisely the problem.

I think for the Dem base, the issue isn't supporting the war or being against it. To a surprising degree Dem voters were for - and continue to not regret - this war. The issue is just how thick can one have been to have not believed war was inevitable the minute Andy Card and the boys rolled out the "new product" after Labor Day. I think Kerry could have been strongly pro war (and still critical of the occupation) and be doing well. I think he could have been strongly anti-war and be doing well. His sin was trusting the Bush administration. Even more than the obvious dubiousness of the WMD threat, it should have been obvious to anyone that we were going to go to war no matter what Saddam did

Should that be enough to sink someone? I don't know - but maybe it will.

More generally, I've stopped having any opinions on who is the "most electable." After reading numerous pundits, amateur and professional, pontificating about this issue I've concluded that no one has any better clue than anyone else. There are some things which can be quantified - fundraising, poll numbers, etc - but none of these more quantifiable things break strongly enough for any of the leading candidates, largely because they tend not to be mutually reinforcing. So, people are just groping for external validation of what are basically their own personal biases. I know I sure don't have a handle on what does or doesn't appeal to the Amurcan people, and I haven't seen much evidence that anyone else does either.

What I do know is that this is truly going to be one nasty political campaign. Even more "respectable" pundits like Krauthammer are reaching levels of deranged and anger-filled dishonesty that didn't show up until much later the last time around (partly because they still had the Clenis to kick around). None of the candidates are innoculated against any of it (Clark's military service won't stop them from calling him a disloyal American, or a war criminal, Dean's fiscal conservatism in Vt. and his pro-gun stance won't stop them from calling him a tax and spend liberal who wants to take your guns away, etc... The media will play along because that's their script for Democrats.)

[Didn't you promise a primary free zone? --ed. So sue me.]


...and Jesse Berney had me beat by 24 hours on this point.

Snitchens

My good friend Christopher Hitchens actually lets slip a bit of truth on this Democracy Now show:

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I do think that would bear direct indictment on him, but I do think it's the reason why there's a foot-dragging about the indictment. I will cut short what I was going to say before. The reason why it hasn't been done is so. The best-documented atrocities, mass murder with genocidal intent, torture, aggression, and so forth were committed when Saddam Hussein was the recipient of Western favor and protection. That's the dead silence that surrounds that subject.

Miserable Failure

Newsday picks up on the google bombing, and interviews Don Waller of Blah3. Kudos to OldFashionedPatriot who I believe started this bit of silly fun.

Nancy to GOP Idiots: Stop It

Nancy Reagan is asking the Reaganites to stop their quest to put him on the dime. Not that they'll listen.

Gropehnfuhrer

Well, Arnold's little bond plan failed so now he's reviving Gray Davis's "illegal" borrowing plan.

Form Letters

The Bushies have been going around implying that Bush has been personally writing the families of soldiers who have been killed. Unsurprisingly, it's just the standard identical form letter.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Pass the Popcorn

Bob Dornan is going to run against Dana Rohrabacher in the primary.

The Budget Outlook

Max has a long post on the budget outlook. He has a lot of good points, but I still think he's a bit too sanguine about the whole thing. He's right that we're not Argentina and we're not Indonesia which makes us much much much less likely to have a total meltdown. But, the thing is you don't actually have to have a total meltdown for things to be fairly bad. All of the forecasts are made under fairly rosy assumptions, which is fine for their purposes, but at some point higher interest rates will start choking off that growth pretty severely, and that's when things begin to spiral out of control. A big problem is that the Fed has nothing left - if we hit a minor bump for whatever reason and are running huge structural deficits then fiscal policy won't be an option either. I wonder if Alan Greenspan is trying to figure out a way to increase inflation expectations (and therefore inflation) in the economy. Part of the reason he's rather limited in his powers right now is that inflation is so low. If inflation were higher, the zero bound on nominal interest rates would provide for a much lower real interest than we have now (But, the other reason is that it is unclear how low interests are going to spur much investment spending in a period of severe excess capacity, and consumers maxed out their credit due to a combination of easy availability of credit and the illusory wealth effect of the market boom.) It also has the added bonus of reducing the real value of the US debt. It would be amusing if anti-inflation Greenspan ends his career by having to bring it on partially because of his obscene support of the Bush tax cuts.

We aren't Argentina and Indonesia - we're the US of fucking A and we goddamn deserve to have our cake and eat it and everyone else's too. I also worry about the broader impact of even a fairly "minor but serious" economic downturn. While our country has no shortage of poverty and a sizeable underclass, much of the "rest of us" are a few too many degrees of separation from any notion of real poverty. It's quite hard to imagine the effects of a year or so of 9-10% unemployment across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Anyway, as I see it there are two bullets - the short term disaster bullet and the longer term disaster bullet. I'm not convinced we've dodged the short one yet, but come April 1 or so if things are still humming along I'll be more than happy to admit I'm wrong about that. And, as for the longer term disaster bullet, that one's pretty easy to dodge if there's any will. Cut some corporate pork, cut a few loopholes and broaden the base a bit. Put the estate tax back. Oh, and up those top rates a few points.

With those happy thoughts, it's time to brave the snow and find a drink somewhere...

We Know They Think It...

... but they rarely come right out and say it.

A guest on Scarborough's show:

In this case, this man’s richness, the fact that he is a zillionaire, exonerates him. He is not a drug dealer. We don’t need to be prosecuting him.

Noncombat

Getting hit by an artillery shell apparently isn't enough to make you eligible for a Purple Heart.

Funny Headlines

Someone sent this to me but I forget who it was.

Rumsfeld meets rival warlords in Afghan visit.

Stupid Weatherpeople

They're almost as bad as the Bush economic forecasters. Last night they were promising 1-2 inches today and about the same tomorrow. Now it's 4-8 today and 4-8 more tomorrow.

Repealing FDR

Reader dk writes in about the attempt to put Saint "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague" Reagan on the dime. dk suggests that this provides an excellent opportunity for the Democrats to remind Americans exactly what repealing FDR's legacy would mean.

I agree.

Limbaugh Search Warrant

If the facts asserted in the warrant are true, he's clearly guilty of a crime.

Gift for the WH Press Corps!

Here's the perfect gift for your favorite members of the White House press corps and their editors.

Bush Background Generator

Fun for the whole family!

Here's a good one.

Craphammer

Somerby takes care of it.

Fake President

Has rehearsals for "Town Meeting."

More Flight Nonsense

Story still makes no sense:

The White House yesterday made a third approach in its attempt to land the controversy about whether a plane spotted Air Force One on its secret flight to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day.

...
Press secretary Scott McClellan said that the aircraft inquiring about Air Force One was, in fact, "a non-UK operator." The spokesman said there had been a British Airways plane "that was in the vicinity of Air Force One as it was crossing over for a good portion of that flight." The presidential pilots thought the query "was coming from a pilot with a British accent, and so that's why they had concluded that it was a British Airways plane."

...

The White House released a statement from Britain's air traffic service confirming that a "non-UK operator" radioed the control center in Swanwick, England, at "0930 Zulu" time to ask if the aircraft behind it was Air Force One.

That seems to check out, but mysteries remain. Who was this "non-UK operator"? And how is it that a British Airways plane could have been with Air Force One "for a good portion" of the flight if the president's plane was averaging 665 mph -- far beyond the speed of commercial aircraft?

Jobs/Unemployment

Comrade Max has the details. Nothing really changed in Nov.

Not Just a River in Egypt

Krugman:

The prevailing theory among grown-up Republicans — yes, they still exist — seems to be that Mr. Bush is simply doing whatever it takes to win the next election. After that, he'll put the political operatives in their place, bring in the policy experts and finally get down to the business of running the country.

But I think they're in denial. Everything we know suggests that Mr. Bush's people have given as little thought to running America after the election as they gave to running Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. And they will have no idea what to do when things fall apart.


This is the part I really don't understand. When Paul "Stalin" Krugman came to town he mentioned that investment fund newsletters which he invariably received tended to claim that they expected a return to fiscal sanity after the '04 election. This just makes no sense. There are no serious policy people in the White House. The Legislative Branch is run by Tom Delay, who is a huge fan of lower taxes and bigger spending - on his friends. Where's the discipline?

Despite the popular myth, most people love the few entitlements we get. We may not like other peoples' entitlements - particularly if they're black - but we like the ones we get. There isn't much to cut in the federal budget, and most of what can be cut would be offset by matching increases in state and local expenditures.

The economy may not collapse before Nov. '04, but it should give us all pause that financial markets are apparently betting on the notion that Bushonomics will not continue.


Thursday, December 04, 2003

Those Wacky College Republicans

What will they think of next?

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A black student organization at Penn State called on the chairman of the university's College Republicans to resign over photos on his personal Web site of a white man in blackface and another photo with a Ku Klux Klan reference.

Black Caucus president Tiffanie Lewis on Thursday said the pictures were inappropriate for the leader of a student organization and urged the resignation of Brian Battaglia, chair of the College Republicans.

"It's not an isolated incident. We believe that it's part of the contentious racial climate at Penn State," Lewis said.

The pictures on Battaglia's Web site were among dozens of pictures from a Halloween party Battaglia hosted at his off-campus home.

One shows a white man in blackface, with the caption: "Apparently Takkeem was released long enough to come to our party. We thank the local police department." The caption was a reference to Undergraduate Student Government vice president Takkeem Morgan, who paid a fine last month after pleading guilty to criminal mischief regarding a stolen bicycle.

A second photo shows a white man wearing a pillow case as a hood with the caption: "He took a break from cross burning to drink a cold one."

Battaglia removed the photos from his Web site Thursday, but said it wasn't because of the Black Caucus' request. He added that he might post them again.

In a written statement, Battaglia decried the reaction as that of the "radical left."

"Their viewpoints, which posit that any action or speech that gives discomfort to a vocal minority should be cause for censorship, persecution, or demands for public apologies, are the greatest threat to liberty in our time."


bbattaglia@psu.edu

Limbaugh Doctor Shopping

This is actually quite serious. 3rd degree felony.

Merry Christmas

From Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

Why are Jews so anti-Semitic?

It's really time for the minority of Jews in the US who are on the right and their faux philo-Semitic conservative fellow travelers to stop believing they speak for All Jews (or at least all good ones) and for Israel. It's patronizing and condescending... and wrong.

It's Finally Here!

The top 20 most annoying conservatives of 2003!

Secret Media Memo Discovered!



(thanks to ryeland for the idea)

More Nonsense

Here:

Q Scott, you promised us more information about the Air Force One sighting. Was it a British Airways plane?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I'm actually -- I'm going to give you a copy of a release that was put out by the National Air Traffic Services, which is the London-area control center. Let me just read that to you first, and then I'll be glad to get into any follow-up you have.

"NATS has now concluded its investigations and can confirm that a conversation between the crew of an aircraft belonging to a non-U.K. operator and its control center took place around 9:30 GMT, on Thursday, the 27th of November, 2003.

"The pilot of the aircraft asked whether the aircraft behind it was Air Force One. After consulting the flight plan of those aircraft in the sector at that time, the center responded that the aircraft was a Gulfstream V. NATS notes reports that U.S. officials have said that for security reasons, Air Force One had filed a flight plan which stated that the service would operated by a Gulfstream V."

So as they pointed out, it was a non-U.K. operator. What Colonel Tillman and the pilots on board Air Force One believed at the time when they heard the conversation was that it was a British Airways plane, because there had been a British Airways plane that had been in the vicinity of Air Force One on the way across. And Colonel Tillman -- and, in fact, they knew it was there because they had been using the call sign that British Airways uses when they communicate with the control center. Colonel Tillman and the pilots then heard the conversation, and to them the conversation sounded like it was coming from a pilot with a British accent. And so that's why they had concluded that it was a British Airways plane.

Q Scott, the conversation itself was as it was relayed?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct. I think that that was in here. Go ahead, Norah.

Q Why then did the White House, repeatedly, in two different versions, tell reporters that it was British Airways? How could the White House be so wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons I told you. Colonel Tillman and the pilots in the cockpit believed that it was British Airways for the reasons I just stated. And what we always try to do for you all in the press corps is to provide you a little color of important events, because we believe that's helpful to you for your stories, and to do your reporting to the American people. And so we reported it based on what we knew, and the conversation did take place. It was heard by the pilots on Air Force One. That was relayed to White House staff, and it was shared with you all in the media to help you keep the American people informed about what was a very important event.


mmm... I don't see this release at their website...

Bigots Not Backing Down

Lafayette Parish schools:

Lafayette Parish's school superintendent Wednesday said there would be no apology over an incident in which a lesbian mother says he son was disciplined for saying he has has a gay mom.

"An apology is not due," Superintendent James Easton said. "The child was not singled out because his parent is gay." Easton said the grade two student was disciplined for behavior problems.

Sharon Huff says her son Marcus McLaurin was reprimanded and forced to repeatedly write “I will never use the word ‘gay’ in school again.”



Holy crap. The ACLU has posted the school's forms documenting the incidents. Go read them. This is crazy stuff. It's hard to really believe until you see it.
(thanks to Kevin Lyda)
Here's a cropped version of one of them:

Gropennonsense

So, the Gropenfuhrer is claiming that borrowing by issuing a 15 billion dollar bond is somehow different than other kinds of borrowing. I'm sure the media will do its job and explain this to the moron-Americans of California (hah).

But, there is an ad campaign which will hopefully do what the news media won't. You can watch it at this website. Treasurer Angelides is sponsoring it.

It was quite sickening the other day when he was talking to the loathsome Judy Woodruff. Angelides kept explaining how Arnold had broken all of his campaign promises, and Judy kept saying things like "but he won! Shouldn't you just do whatever he wants?!?!"

Go watch the ad.


...here's the Woodruff transcript:

WOODRUFF: All right. You're talking about raising taxes for wealthier Californians. But this is a governor who ran on a platform of no higher taxes. He not only won, he won by a big margin.

I mean, why should you expect the people of California, the state legislature to support your plan when he was the one who just got elected on that idea?

ANGELIDES: Well, he didn't campaign on the basis that he was going to stick our children with a $15 billion bond and have children and grandchildren pay the bill for 30 years. He never said that. He never said he was going to continue to deficit spend.

He said he would balance the budget as he protected essential services. And all I'm saying is, he ought to be true to his word. And kiting the check and mortgaging our children's future is not what he campaigned on, Judy. He never said, I'm going to balance this budget by putting the state further in hock.

WOODRUFF: But what he did say in the campaign was that he didn't want to raise taxes. And I'm asking you, if that's what the voters support, how can you expect him to turn around and do what you're asking?

ANGELIDES: Well, here's what I'm saying. What he told the voters is that he was going to balance the budget, protect education, health care for kids, and he was going to balance the budget while doing it. And all I'm saying, Judy, is he ought to try to do that first.

And merely borrowing more and more money and putting the state further and further into debt, and sending the bill to our children, is not what he promised and not the right thing to do. So come January 10, he's required to have a balanced budget plan. We ought to see it. Btu he ought not be asking to borrow $15 billion plus without a plan on how to balance the budget. He doesn't have one.

Maine School Update

It's a .pdf file so I can't easily post an excerpt, but a reader forwarded some information about the Maine school curriculum from their superintendent. According to the document, World History, which is taught in 9th grade, does indeed teach the history of a variety of cultures. So, who knows...

UPDATE: Allen Brill has a reponse from the plaintiff's attorney:

The ninth grade class is an elective, so students who choose not to take ninth grade world history will have never have learned about a part of the world, such as Iraq, where they might be asked to fight and die.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 365K new jobless, and the 3K who were missed last week.

Not terrible news, but still no real good news on the jobs front. Continuing claims are still near their peak.


The monthly report is out tomorrow. I predict 6.0-6.1%, either flat or a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, and many fewer than the promised 300,000 per month that would be created if the Mighty Mighty tax cuts (The Solution to All Problems) passed, which they did.

Blog Over

I just got this in email. I think I'm going to retire. Thanks all, it's been fun!

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Still Waiting

Hurry up Jesse. You're late.

Yet Another Story

Now the liars at the White House are claiming that it wasn't British Air pilots that saw Air Force One, but rather a "British based carrier."

Idiots in Maine

A School Board has imposed a curriculum which forbids teaching anything about non-Christian civilizations or religions.

Which, as far as I can tell, should prohibit teaching anything about much of US history too.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Gettin Your Cred Back

After his silly Baghdad bound performance, Mike Allen gropes for redemption.

Etiquette

How should one react when the special guest lunges for the centerpiece, picks it up, and starts parading it around...

What the Hell

This is mostly an overhyped piece of nonsense from reliable shit-peddler Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, but the notion that that EU is even contemplating capital controls...

It's Their Job

Jerome Doolittle makes the obvious but overlooked point that throughout history the job of the military has been to invade, occupy, and hold territory.

Collective Punishment

Another fun letter to the editor. What a day!

Executions would halt killings

We can stop the murders of American soldiers in Iraq by those who seek revenge or to regain their power. Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter.

After all this is a "Holy War" and although such a procedure is not fair or just, it might end the horror.

Machiavelli was correct. In war it is more effective to be feared than loved and the end result would be a more equitable solution for both giving us a chance to build a better Iraq for the Iraqis.

- EMORY METZ WRIGHT JR., M.D.

Torture Lou

It's an easy one.

Kaus Explained

This post on Kaus is a gem.
tee hee
(via Uggabugga)

Terrorism is a Many-Colored Thing

Yes, why the hell isn't this story of a poison gas plot getting any attention? A Muslim with some spoiled food in his fridge would get front page headlines.

Rwandan Media Execs. Guilty of Genocide

Good.

"The power of the media to create and destroy human values comes with great responsibility," the court said in a 29-page summary of its judgment. "Those who control the media are accountable for its consequences."

Mystery Solved

David Raitt explains why Bush's claim to have eliminated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is perfectly legitimate.

(via Charles Kuffner)

Worst Moment

It's time for all those end of the year lists. I nominate this media moment as the worst moment in "journalism" for 2003.

PHILLIPS: Does he understand why... Doctor, does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the meaning? Does he understand it?

Amazing Powers

Fascinating. Former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame has superhero powers. Apparently, by being partially photographed for a national magazine she has actually managed to travel backwards through time and personally rewrite the US criminal code.

...haha. Point, game, set, match, and a lifetime achievement award to Tbogg.


...slyblog comments.

...as does Pandagon.

I Keed

I'm usually not a huge fan of song parodies, but someone more creative than me should definitely re-write this song by Triumph and make it an ode to the Media Whores.

Kill the War Protesters

A newspaper prints a letter calling for the death of war protesters.

I am a United States sailor. I have chosen to defend my country and the freedom some take for granted.

I love my country, my family, my freedom. Only by the blood which was shed by the service members before me did we receive this freedom.

There are some, though, who do not appreciate this freedom. I call these people traitors; they call themselves protesters. They are nothing more than an infectious disease that infests the minds and hearts of the Americans we are defending. It consumes the honor and courage within its host until it kills the very patriotism that made this country.

There is no cure for this disease. Never will everyone be satisfied. But let it be known what this guardian of America's freedom thinks of these protesters: Traitors should be hanged. I hold our enemies in higher standing. At least they are willing to fight for their beliefs and the country they love.

Sonar Technician

Derik L.Jobe

U.S. Navy


Gitmo

The Bush gang should be sharing a cell with Slobo.

Um... Andy?

I know being a fan of somebody who, well, thinks you're evil is nothing new to you, but before lovingly quoting Orson Scott Card, you should really look into his views on homosexuality...

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

'Tis the Season

I promised no fundraising begging posts until February. So, I won't beg. But, if you're feeling generous and have an extra nickel or two, Suburban Guerrilla could use them.

Bush Background Generator

Fresh Laundry provides.

Here's one example.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Amen

Kristof has a decent column.

No force is more divine than love, and if some people are encoded to love others of the same sex, how can that be unholy? To me, the blasphemy is not in those who want to share their lives with others of the same sex, but rather in anyone presumptuous enough to vilify that love.

Indeed.

Revolving Door

Oy.

Top 10 Worst Movies

Charles Kuffner has his.

Here are mine:


The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient
The English Patient

Honorable Mention: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Mystery Solved!

Link:
Bush made a 20-minute speech to a crowd of about 500 party faithful in the main ballroom of the Hanover Marriott at a $2,000-a-plate evening fund-raiser.

Not breaking any ground, Bush highlighted the accomplishments of his administration, saying he had eliminated the terror threat from Afghanistan and weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and ensured that Medicare will remain solvent.

"I came to this office to solve problems and not pass them on to future presidents and future generations," Bush told the crowd.


There are no WMDs in Iraq because Bush eliminated them!

Poor Colmes

Link:

Alan Colmes Loses Argument With Nephew
NEW YORK—Alan Colmes, the liberal co-host of the Fox News debate program Hannity & Colmes, lost an argument to his nephew Bryan while babysitting the 8-year-old Monday. "I wanted to stay up late to watch television, but Uncle Alan said, 'There's already too much self-parenting in America,'" Bryan said. "So I started screaming, 'Mom lets me, Mom lets me,' real loud. He gave in after, like, 20 seconds." In the past two years, Bryan has won arguments with Colmes on the subjects of Pok√©mon cards, Crunch Berries cereal, and steel tariffs.

The War on Humor and Satire

Lou Dobbs and Matt Drudge are outraged about a movie about a fake Bad Santa. Not a Bad version of the "real" Santa who, by the way, doesn't actually exist, but a creepy mall Santa - a longtime comedy staple.

Meanwhile, over in the alternate reality that is FoxNewsLand, someone is very very upset because Tim Robbins' obviously satirical play about the media coverage of the Iraq war... get this... ISN'T REALISTIC.

Damn

Tom DeLay backs off his boat plan.

Still Lying

BA pilot sighting update:

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a footnote to President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, the White House identified the location and time when Air Force One was spotted en route to Iraq last week by a British Airways pilot.

The sighting occurred Thursday morning, just after daybreak, off the western coast of England, said White House communications director Dan Bartlett. If it had led to public disclosure of Bush's trip, the mission would have been scrapped, Bartlett said.

He said the pilot of the British Airways plane radioed the tower in London and reported the apparent sighting of Air Force One. The tower, apparently relying on phony flight-plan information filed to protect Air Force One's identity, radioed back that it was a Gulfstream Five, a much smaller plane.

Bartlett said he had left the wrong impression Thursday that the conversation had taken place between the British Airways pilot and the pilot of Air Force One, Col. Mark Tillman.

Those Tomatoes Look Good Enough to Poop On

Nathan Newman tells us about the latest bit of judicial activism.

Torture Lou

Zen Poll Master Lou finally slipped. Go get him!

Lies and the Lying Liars

Kicking Ass reminds us of a few statements by the White House which are, as they say, no longer operative.

Feeling Dirty

Phyllis Schlafly is on the right side of a cause for once.

Idiot in LaHood

So, is Rep. LaHood (R-Sounds French) making stuff up, leaking important intelligence information, or do they have Saddam on ice and are just waiting for the appropriate moment?

Report from the Scene

There's obviously no way to confirm the veracity of this report from a soldier in Iraq, but it does mesh with a certain interpretation of news reports about what really happened in Samara.

I think we've given up on the whole hearts and minds thing.

Hillary for Majority Leader?

Not 100%, but I may just agree with Ezra.

But, I definitely agree that Daschle has to go. '04 has to be a national campaign, and we need all the party leaders to realize that and be able to run with it.

That Liberal NPR

Today, Morning Edition had an entire, basically uncritical, segment about Choicepoint, without mentioning their role in the massive disenfranchisement of minority voters in Florida.

Open the FBI Investigation

Attempted bribery.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Atrios Revealed!

Someone just wrote in asking what the hell the name "Atrios" means. It doesn't actually mean anything. At some point while reading political message boards I had to come up with a nickname to register, so I pulled one from memory. The name I meant to use was actually "Antrios," who was an unseen character in the play Art, by Yasmina Reza. The central set piece of the play, which drives the plot, is a featureless all-white painting. Antrios was the name of the artist who painted it. But, I remembered the name incorrectly, so I is Atrios.

But, what is Atrios? In Spanish, it means "vestibules." It's also the name of a planet from Dr. Who.

Otherwise, Atrios is me.

The last lines of Art (delivered by, in the performance I saw, Stacey Keach):

Under the white clouds, the snow is falling. You can't see the white clouds, or the snow. Or the cold, or the white glow of the earth. A solitary man glides downhill on his skis. The snow is falling. It falls until the man disappears back into the landscape. My friend Serge, who's one of my oldest friends, has bought a painting. It's a canvas about five foot by four. It represents a man who moves across a space and disappears.

Hack the Vote

Krugman has a pretty good column about electronic voting machines. I think he gets it just about right. The only reason this is a partisan issue is that all the top voting machine companies have deep links to Republicans, but it *shouldn't* be a partisan issue. I have no idea if Diebold machines have been rigged, but nor do you and nor does anybody else and most importantly...nor can anyone else. Even if these machines aren't an evil plot being drummed up in Dick Cheney's undisclosed location, they are incredibly easy to manipulate. It doesn't take an RNC-led conspiracy to do it - just tech savvy people with access to the machines.

It's really very simple. Electronic machine prints ballot. Voter reads ballot, confirms their vote choices. Voter drops ballot in old fashioned ballot box. A random sample of old fashioned ballot boxes are manually counted every election night, as should be any locations where there are possible problems, technical or otherwise. It's so obvious - and simple - what should be done that it should scare us all that it isn't being done.

Fun with Amber

Amber's been linked many times before, but for an entire week's worth of giggle-generating bad objectivist prose, go here...

(the stuff on sex and sexuality is the best)

Fun With Google

Check this out.

(thanks to armchairpunditry)

A miserable failure

Life in Amurca

Lovely:

Dec. 1, 2003 | LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) -- A 7-year-old boy was scolded and forced to write "I will never use the word `gay' in school again" after he told a classmate about his lesbian mother, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Monday.

Second-grader Marcus McLaurin was waiting for recess Nov. 11 at Ernest Gaullet Elementary School when a classmate asked about Marcus' mother and father, the ACLU said in a complaint.

Marcus responded he had two mothers because his mother is gay. When the other child asked for explanation, Marcus told him: "Gay is when a girl likes another girl," according to the complaint.

A teacher who heard the remark scolded Marcus, telling him "gay" was a "bad word" and sending him to the principal's office. The following week, Marcus had to come to school early and repeatedly write: "I will never use the word `gay' in school again."

...

"I was concerned when the assistant principal called and told me my son had said a word so bad that he didn't want to repeat it over the phone," Huff said. "But that was nothing compared to the shock I felt when my little boy came home and told me that his teacher had told him his family is a dirty word."


Well, it isn't as if there are very many homosexuals in southern Louisiana.... [/sarcasm]

Not Funny

Nathan Newman on a line from a TV show which shouldn't be a joke, but sadly it is.

Lies and the Lying Liars

There really isn't anything these people won't lie about:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British Airways said on Monday that none of its pilots made contact with President Bush (news - web sites)'s plane during its secret flight to Baghdad, contradicting White House reports of a mid-air exchange that nearly prompted Bush to call off his trip.

Honor Verrier, a spokeswoman for British Airways in North America, said two BA aircraft were in the area at the time and neither radioed the president's plane to ask if it was Air Force One.

"We have spoken to the British Airways captains who were in the area at the time and neither made comments to Air Force One nor did they hear any other aircraft make the statement over the radio," Verrier said in response to a question from Reuters.

The White House had no immediate comment on the discrepancy.

Bush aides recounted with excitement last week the moment during the flight to Baghdad when they said a BA pilot thought he spotted the president's blue and white Boeing 747 from his cockpit.



Dan Bartlett
is a big fucking liar. Every story which contains his name should have the qualification, "Dan Bartlett, proven liar..."

Crass Commercialism

Only 14 sold so far, but the I Am Atrios! army is slowly growing...

Disconnect Overload

George Will shouldn't be allowed to write columns about divorce and Phyllis Schlafly shouldn't be allowed to write anything about gay issues.

Read this Book

University of Wisconsin Press has just published a 10th anniversary edition of Michelangelo Signorile's book Queer in America: Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power. It's really a fascinating read - part personal memoir, part description of the gonzo activism used by the gay community to bring attention to the AIDS crisis, and part scathing indictment of the media's double standards (or really, lack of any coherent standards) regarding the personal lives of public figures.

The centerpiece of the book is probably the story of the "outing" of then-Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams. This was at a time when the justifcation for not allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military was partially because they were claimed to be a security risk due to their susceptability of being blackmailed over their personal lives. So, the sexual orientation of Williams, who wasn't really "in the closet" anyway, was a relevant issue. The story of how this "open secret" swirled around various media circles and outlets before finally bubbling up, as well as the hysterical reactions to the very notion of talking about the personal lives of gay people in the same way that you would unthinkingly do for straight people are quite interesting.

Times have changed somewhat since then, but these issues keep coming up again and again.


...Jim C. remembers.

Rant on Brother

Jim Henley. He concludes with:

Go read the real crackpots. They've been more right than I was.

Indeed.

Brain Turning to Mush

Just go read this Howler on Russert/Goldberg.

Colorado Redistricting Smacked Down

Good news.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Fabulous

Link:

You know, some research says that those who are the most homophobic are the most likely to actually BE homosexuals. So what does that say about President George Bush? Well, we don't know if the Prez might hiding out with the queers in secret, but we do know his daughter isn't shy about hanging out with them in public. Bush's daughter Barbara was spotted recently having a gay old time at a concert by all-gay punk band Pansy Division. Barbara and friends cozied up in the back room drinking, while out front the band screamed their queer hearts out. The band reportedly dedicated their rabid anti-Bush song, Political Asshole, to the first daughter during the show. Daddy's just got to love that.

A Meeting of True Patriots

Where's my invitation?

Opposing a president who locked up people for two years based solely on the word of people who were given a "per head" payment for their information is a true act of patriotism. It can be nothing other than patriotism that motivates people to oppose a president who supported preventing the accused from having due process in our legal system. Bush has betrayed literally everything this country stands for, and we now know that political considerations have delayed the release of the innocent.

Dear Mickey

Hillary Clinton is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which means she "has a central role in the actual decision-making structure."

Love,

Atrios

Innocent

Well, now we know how our Calvinball Justice Department worked in Gitmo. We offered tribal leaders in Afghanistan reward money for handing over bad people. They kidnapped some people, told us they were bad, and we promptly paid them and shipped their kidnap victims off to Gitmo without a trial.

The Founding Fathers were a little concerned with this kind of thing. I believe they were fans of something called "due process."

There are days I'm ashamed of this country. This is one of those days.

Similes for Me and Thee

If Senator Clinton had made a disparaging remark about congress "spending money like a drunken sailor," one can imagine the national furor which would erupt because Hitlery had dared insult our Navy in this time of war...

A Roger Ailes Thanksgiving

Roger Ailes tells us what he did for Thanksgiving.

Neilsy

Is there any doubt that if Neil Bush were the brother of a prominent Democrat it would be a 24/7 story? Chelsea, even when the media was mostly leaving her alone, got more press than Neil is, when she did absolutely nothing wrong.

I mean, Jeebus, the president's brother, who gets paid for no good reason by relatives of top Chinese officials and firms doing business in Iraq, was busted shagging prostitutes in Asia, and is now involved in messy divorce and is being tested for the paternity of the child of another woman?

This is like the mother of all tabloid stories - there's *something for everyone* here.

Ah well.

The Book on Bush

Santa Claus dropped an advance copy of Alterman and Green's forthcoming book on my desk. I've read all of the introduction so far, but it's clear that this is going to be a much different kind of book than the recent pack of liberal books. The Bush Dyslexicon was mostly about how a lot is actually communicated in Bush's verbal gaffes. Alterman's last book specifically addressed the non-existence of the "liberal media." Conason's book was about incorrect stereotypes by the Right of both Right and Left which continue to be perpetuated. Franken's was basically a funny and satrical hybrid of Alterman and Conason. I haven't read Ivins' or Corns', but the former is about the effect of the administration's policies on ordinary people and the latter seems to be more a well-researched laundry list of Bush misrepresentations.

From the introduction, and from glancing through bits of it, the Book on Bush appears to be a more comprehensive analysis of the administration's record and the mismatch between it and their rhetoric. Not simply media criticism or a partisan food fight, it's a post-mortem on (most of) Bush's 1st term - a very detailed one.

Crass Commercialism

I'm playing around with merchandise, mostly for fun. Design isn't exactly my strong point. But, in case anyone is interested...

As for prices, I'm basically just adding a buck or buck-fifty on top of cafe press's "base prices." They get the base price, I get the extra. So, if the prices seem high it isn't really my doing.

Operation Media Fluffing Not Working

Bush poll numbers still suck.

Bush’s overall approval rating in the Ipsos poll is at 50 percent, the lowest rating they’ve recorded for him since 9/11. Even his approval rating on the economy has snapped back to net negative (46 percent approval/51 percent disapproval) after reaching the break-even point in early November. And, for the first time in this poll, the number who would “definitely vote to re-elect Bush as President” is identical with the number who would “definitely vote for someone else” (37 percent to 37 percent). (Another 25 percent say they would “consider voting for someone else”.)

Official Eschaton Endorsement

I, Atrios, officially endorse Blake Ashby as the 2004 Republican Party candidate for president.


Blake Ashby is approaching his bid for the White House with the same build-from-scratch fervor that helped make him a millionaire businessman before he was 40.

As the University City entrepreneur sees it, he's got nothing to lose - and a lot to gain - by taking on President George W. Bush, a fellow Republican whom Ashby voted for in 2000.

Ashby, 39, launched his first political bid this week when he filed against Bush in the Republican presidential primaries in New Hampshire and Missouri. So far, Ashby is the president's only GOP opponent in New Hampshire and among two in Missouri.

More primary filings are in the works, Ashby said Wednesday, adding that he's prepared "to spend whatever is necessary" - including some of his own millions - to promote his message.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Yes, yes, politicians lie. But, for some reason there's something extra despicable about going on national television and flat out lying about a constitutional amendment that you've written.

Small Government

It should be at least a little amusing to note that the apex of the era of small government was right at the end of Clinton's second term.

Too many analyses of the future of our government ignore the point I keep hammering on - that the changing demographics of voters ensure that old people at least will get all the government goodies they want. The one government program which will likely take a hit, both from the feds and state/local, will be public education. Current research demonstrates that while elderly people won't necessarily vote against funding education for other peoples' children, there are two big exceptions to this. The first is that cross-cohort racial heterogeneity has a giant impact on the willingness of old people to fund education. That is, old white people living in communities with young brown people will consistently vote against money for the local schools. The second is when old people migrate -- if they retire and move to new places they aren't into spending money on the natives.

EconSpeak

Lerxst over at Econ4Dean has some comments on recent economic figures.

Martial Law

Kevin Phillips has an interesting Op-Ed about the upcoming political season. At the end he raises the real possibility that during the RNC convention, NYC will likely effectively be operating under martial law. Sad but true. I don't know what to do about it except to implore the media to put the cameras outside as well as inside.

The RNC has already clearly stated that they've learned much from the way they handled the starry-eyed reporters during the Iraq war, and are planning to "embed" them into the convention as well. To do your jobs you need to look not just where they're pointing you, but where they're trying to point you away from.

Anti-War, Anti-Death Penalty

But what's *really* important is being anti-gay.

BS Detector

This story set off my bullshit detector for a variety of reasons. Most likely it was, indeed, bullshit.

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - One of the most suspenseful moments during President George W. Bush's secret flight to Baghdad, according to the White House, came when a British Airways pilot spotted Air Force One soaring over the Atlantic.

The mid-air encounter, which aides say nearly prompted the president to call off the trip, became an instant news sensation, memorialised by tourist pins which went on sale at a store in Crawford within hours of Bush's return to his Texas ranch.

But two days after the sighting, the identity of the pilot remains a mystery, even to British Airways.

...

An airline spokeswoman said on Saturday that no crew member had come forward to report the unusual encounter, as is standard practice.
In response to press inquiries, British Airways checked with its crews. But so far, no one has come forward.

"It is normal practice for our crews to report anything out of the ordinary," the airline spokeswoman said. "Despite the amount of media coverage, we can't confirm this."


Send Dinh to Gitmo

I never thought I'd applaud Viet Dinh, but I'm glad he's now objecting to the biggest flaw in the "enemy combatant" nonsense - it isn't that some type of alternative system of justice could never be appropriate, it's that there needs to be a coherent and consistent system, and not the kind of Calvinball that Bush is famous for.

Free T-Shirts

Jesse has some idea for bringing high school and college students into politics. I think they're pretty good, and I also think a lot of the things that can be done are really easy and really cheap.

Farce

Josh Marshall has the latest on the unfolding tragedy that is our short-lived imperial adventure.