Saturday, May 04, 2002

I'm overcome with embarassment watching the White House Correspondents' dinner.

What a pathetic group of back-slapping hacks.
Tucker Carlson deserves a good cockpunching. Jeff Koopersmith did it five years ago , but he's due for another.

Subject: greetings
From: Tucker Carlson
Dear Jeff,

Fuck you.


Tucker Carlson

I've been watching this adolescent nemesis for about a year now. Carlson, who is easily spotted as a thug who accidently "made it" too quickly, must have
read something I wrote about him in American Politics Journal. I'm not sure what it was; he isn't that important, but I'm sure it wasn't flattering.

My response to his ever-present creamy white skin on pundit television: huh? Who's he?

It turns out that Carlson was spawned by the ever-truth-twisting Heritage Foundation where he was a shooting star that landed at Bill Kristol's Weekly
Standard, where he's now a staff writer.

Carlson must have one brilliant agent, because you can hardly turn on the television lately without seeing him making a fool of himself -- often sporting a bow
tie in honor, I suppose, of George Will.

I've seen entire tribes of Tucker Carlsons come and go during my 25-odd years in Washington, and I can't understand why Kristol -- who's one of the few
conservatives with a good mind -- keeps him around. Maybe it's because he's so cuddly.

Anyway, I fired off copies of Carlson's e-mail to the Heritage foundation, the White House and the Weekly Standard -- for openers. Sometime today we'll get
around to faxing it to the FBI, which frowns on such language in uninvited discourse, and then to most House Republicans and as many Christian
Coalition-type leaders and organizations we can find.

It will be fun.

Tucker's suicidal note reminded me of my own boarding school antics. Only difference is, Carlson is in his late 20s and we were 14.

In addition to driving vaara to the gun store, the fine citizens of the Free Republic unsurprisingly are unable to distinguish satire from fact.
Woah! Novakula just put the smackdown on Fleischer and the administration over the mythical 9/11-Iraq connection.

But then Al Hunt ran with the equally mythical Clinton talk show story.

Strange days indeed.

Once the obligatory discussion of Clinton's cock was out of the way, Kurtz actually had a good show. He was incredibly fair and reasonable in his discussion with David Brock, and even showed a few highly critical emails of the press's lapdog coverage of the maladministration.

So, even though Clinton isn't going to do a talk show, Howie Kurtz is still talking about it.

This is funny:

If you covered him with garbage,
Joe Conason still has style
But if you medicated Peggy Noonan, she would still
have Dubya's child.
It's time to cut off dearest Snitchens, cause he's an
angry drunk
You'll end up betrayed like Sid and Steele
And you'll be libeled and smeared on Drudge.

In that same issue of the Economist one Luis Giusti, former head of Venezuela's state oil company and now a Senior Advisor at CSIS, disputes in a letter to the editor the magazine's contention that he has connections to the White House and to the Venezuela coup.

I don't know about the latter, but as for the former...

Both MSNBC and the BBC seem to think otherwise.

I guess they could be wrong too..
This article in the Economist misses the point I think.

Compare this paragraph:

Criticism of Israel’s government
does not, of course, equal
anti-Semitism. But many Jews are
horrified by what they see as a new
and wilfully false moral equivalence
between the Israelis and the
Palestinians and a tone of
anti-Israeli hostility that has
become so strident as to smell of
anti-Semitism. Many are
particularly upset by what they
consider to be the editorial
virulence and one-sided reporting of two quality newspapers
read mainly by leftish Britons, the Guardian and the
Independent, and of a leading left-wing magazine, The New
Statesman, once enthusiastically Zionist.

with the last one:

Growing hostility to Israel is a more complex trait. Anyone
defending Israel’s government nowadays is bound to have a
harder time of it. But that does not itself mean that heavily
anti-Semitic sentiment goes beyond a very small proportion of

[emphasis mine]

While the thuggish anti-Semitic sentiment expressed in crude political rhetoric and in vandalism against synagogues is of course only visibly evident in a small proportion of Europeans, it is the more sophisticated kind that is most disturbing. It is precisely because "elite" opinion betrays its inexplicable bias - devoting more column inches to lamenting uprooted olive trees in Palestinian settlements than to innocent Israeli victims of suicide bombers - that there is cause for alarm.

It is wrong to raise the bar so high that only violent acts or absolutely explicit rhetoric qualifies as anti-Semitsm (or, in differerent contexts racism and homophobia). Just because some anti-Semitic sentiment is expressed in a more sophisticated fashion, either because its purveyors are more skilled at hiding it or even because they are unaware of it themselves, does not make it less a cause for concern. In fact, quite the opposite.

My guess is that Jews in Europe are far more concerned with the disturbing editorial trend in their media than with vanadalism or even violent personal attacks. The former provides the climate that allows the latter to exist.

Tomorrow provides for a moment of truth for France. We'll see if Le Pen gets his expected 22% or so or if he manages to pull in some wider support. Obviously his base on the Right will vote for him - including those who voted the first time around as well as voterss from some of France's other Traditionalist/Nationalist/Righty parties, but there are two other main sources of votes which could up his numbers. First, one would expect him to peel off some of those who voted for Chirac the first time around. The real question, however, is how much of the anti-Semitic Left will jump the fence. I doubt too many, but we shall see.

Eschaton Prediction: 28%.

I'm really getting tired of the New York Times burying all of the important political stories in their business section.

WASHINGTON, May 3 — Harvey L. Pitt, the chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Commission, denied today that he had
discussed a fraud investigation with the head of KPMG, which had
once been a client, despite a memorandum to the contrary from the
firm's new chief executive.

In a memo sent this week to employees of KPMG titled " Xerox —
Anticipated Media Coverage," the firm's new chairman and chief
executive, Eugene D. O'Kelly, said that in his "first official act" he met
privately with Mr. Pitt last week and urged him to drop the agency's
investigation into the firm for its auditing of Xerox.

In the interest of fairness, I present the other side, by Snotglass:

The liberal media has focused attention on the latest unemployment figures while ignoring the more important story. Recent studies conducted by the authoritative Vodun School of Economics at the American Enterprise Institute reveal that, contrary to the sensationalized and speculatory tales published by
the liberal media, the American economy is poised to expand exponentially as a direct result of the dynamic economic stimulus provided by President Bush's visionary program of targeted tax cuts.

This ground-breaking study, virtually ignored by the uninformed and politicized popular press, is fully supported by collateral data collected by noted economist Jonah Goldberg. After years of stagnation due to the failed economic policies of the previous administration, President Bush's elite economic team developed a comprehensive plan to end the Clinton recession.

Relying on input from successful leaders of the business community, the President's far-sighted plan re-directed surplus funds from the bloated Federal government to top corporations and the neediest segment of the American electorate. Aside from the noble philanthropic aspects of this policy, re-directing these funds has provided an immense pool of capital in the private sector from which the Federal treasury can borrow in times of war and recession.

The liberal media exaggerates the negative effects of unemployment and suppresses the positive aspects. According to prize-winning economic theorist John Carlson of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, unemployment is a certain indicator of imminent commercial expansion and exerts a positive influence on the remaining labor force by stimulating individual worker productivity. Knee-jerk limousine liberals hyave long failed to recognize the value of moderate unemployment rates as an economic force multiplier.

You people should be grateful for the economic wisdom of our elected President.

Get Your War On Part 10!

Friday, May 03, 2002

How did I miss that the latest military operation is called Operation Snipe?

Sometimes I think they're messing with me deliberately...

[note to self: remember to renew prescription for anti-psychotic meds]

Who knew libertarians had a sense of humor?

This Andrew Stutterer guy seems to find amazing parallels between All Evil Forces On The Planet and the American Left...

WHY NOT JUST NUKE THE FRENCH?: [Andrew Stutterer] David Horowitz has an interesting observation: If you don't count his anti-tax policies, his zero-tolerance crime prevention plan, his plans to repeal abortion laws, stop immigration, and beef up the military, his opposition to public schools and his support for Israel, there's very little difference between Le Pen's policies and those of the extreme anti-globalization left.
Posted 8:54 AM |

The 10 Conserva-Clans!.

Instapundit and I inhabit separate universes, but he nonetheless did manage to convey in one sentence what I tried to convey in a few meandering paragraphs below:

Sure, you can criticize Israel without being antisemitic. But when you criticize Israel for things you ignore in others, it raises certain doubts.

[as linked by Ted Barlow, who also wonders why Instapundit seems be willfully ignorant of the NRA's inner Freeper]
D.M. provides the first entry in the Find Spikey Mikey's errors and other attempts to distort the truth:

1. `[Clinton and McDougal]' concocted a scheme to route business to
Hillary Clinton by placing her on a $2,000 a month retainer.

The Rose firm was on a retainer, which was prepayment of fees
(not a payment in addition to fees). The Clinton's take from
this would be measured in tens of dollars per month.

2. Jim and Sunsan McDougal (longtime business partners of the
Clintons in the Whitewater real estate venture)...

Partners in the careless, common usage of the term, but not
partners in the legal sense (the Clintons invested in a
coporation set up by the McDougals and were not executives,
or officers in the business, nor were they informed about
its dealings (until much later when Hillary Clinton went in
to clean up the mess).

3. portray the entire Whitewater scandal as the fevered
concoction of a ... right wing conspiracy...

No one has (to my knowledge) ever suggested that McDougal
was not a crook. The question is, what did his misdeeds
have to do with the Clintons.

4. McDougal, a convicted crook, was running a corrupt savings
and load that was regulated by Bill Clinton's appointees.

McDougal was not a convicted crook when he ran the S&L.
While it is technically true that Clinton appointed
Arkansas bank regulators, it is hard to see how he could
have done otherwise, being governor and all, and thus
responsible for such appointments. However, the
regulatory power of those officials was minimal.
(Basically, the FSLIC was on the hook for any loses and
so they ran the regulatory roost. In their wisdom,
they chose to ignore the requests by Clinton's
regulators that they deal with McDougal's S&L. And do
not get me started on the decision that and S&L could
issue stock (any S&L, not Madison specifically, though
they asked the question). That decision is so firmly
grounded in the law, how could any other decision be

5. At the same time, [McDougal] was both covering Clinton's
debts in a floundering real estate investment firm...

The Clintons did cosign the Whitewater mortgage. If
Whitewater went bankrupt, they would be on the hook for
whatever portion of the mortgage was not paid.
McDougal did invest money in Whitewater in order to
keep it afloat. So, in some narrow legalistic sense,
the statement might be true. However, the Clintons
were not informed about this, were not asked whether
they wanted it, indeed were not told any business
details. If they had been told business details, it is
most likely they would have said that Whitewater should
be disolved. McDougal and the Clintons had very
different interests in Whitewater. To the Clintons, it
was a pure investment. Investments of that sort pay off
pretty quickly or not at all. There is typically no
pourpose in additional investment if the initial
investment is insufficient: in that case, it is a
loosing bet and additional investment throws good money
after bad. McDougal was a promoter. Nothing would be
worse for him than for people to know he had lost the
Governor money. His other businesses were shakey, and a
failure might cause the whole house of cards to
collapse. So McDougal had to keep Whitewater afloat.
In fact, doing so did not benefit the Clintons at all.

Also, Whitewater was not a `real estate investment
firm' as that description is normally understood, but a
real estate development. (Investment firm makes it
sould as if it had other irons in the fire.)

6. and steering monthly payments to Clinton's wife.

See 1. above.

7. showing among other things that she had undertaken
crucial legal work on a questionable transaction that led to
McDougal's undoing.

This is a murky area. If I understand it, Hillary
Clinton wrote the documents associated with teh sale of
property between McDougal and Seth ???. The sale was
arguably a sham (not at arms length) and designed to
provide a record showing an inflated value for real
estate. I do not actually know what responsibilty a
lawyer has in this situation, if any. Someone comes in and
says `Please write up the documents so I can sell this
property to Joe here for 100,000 dollars.' Does the
lawyer have to ask whether the property is worth that,
whether the tranaction is arms length, etc. If the
people say, yes, worth that much, yes arms length, must
the lawyer check this independently? I do not know, but
I doubt it. As usual, details of the `crucial legal
work' is left out.

Speaking of Noonan the Loonan:

As befits our subject, I will begin this piece with an assertion of my brilliance.
Years ago when asked what I thought Bill Clinton would do after his presidency, I
began answering that he would probably have a TV talk show called "Here's Bill!"
People would always laugh. I would explain that talking is what Bill Clinton does,
that the subject matter of daytime chats would be congenial to him, and that he is a
handsome, sunny-seeming and, as they used to say in the Clinton era, compelling
figure. So why not?

His entire presidency seemed like a talk show. Or actually his entire presidency
seemed like daytime TV--a talk show followed by a soap opera followed by a news
bulletin followed by another talk show. Sometimes the last show of the day had the
tone of "Washington Week in Review," sometimes "Jerry Springer." Looking back, one
sees that at the end of his presidency Mr. Clinton was like Dave Attell in
"Insomniac," the Comedy Central show in which a charming and apparently aimless man
stays up all night looking for company.

So: I was ahead of the curve in saying the talk show would happen. Now I wish to be
ahead of the curve in telling you why it won't. And no, it doesn't have anything to
do with the debate on whether he'd be sponsored by Haines Underwear or The Gap.

She gives herself credit for predicting something which did not happen and then gives herself credit for saying with hindsight she was wrong.
Eschaton Contest!

Spikey Mikey defends Ken "god I fucked up my career" Starr

Let's play... Count the errors! Please send any mistakes (there are many) in this article to me. Either comments or email...

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Ted Barlow attempts to divine Ann Coulter's League Table of Hate (maybe we could call it Annie's Desert Island Genocide).

He has it as:

1. Muslims
2. liberals
3. the French in general
4. Le Pen

I would put it as:

1) Liberals
2) Liberals
3) Liberals
4) Le Pen

In Annie's mind, anything she doesn't like is "liberal". As for Le Pen, well... he ranks #4, but that's only because she LOVES him.
Matt Drudge on Crossfire tomorrow.

That could be interesting.
My pal the O'Rourkian got pretty excited when he found out that Peggy Nooner was a consultant for the West Wing.

I thought he'd enjoy this: Noonan Madness!.

warning: may cause deep psychosis
Tom Tomorrow, of This Modern World fame, throws a bone to the tinfoil hat crowd, and a wakeup call for everyone else:

I mean, we know for a fact that the U.S. Government has engineered coups and assassinations all over the globe, made secret deals with drug runners and terrorists from Nicaragua to Iran, harassed and spied on politically active U.S. citizens, knowingly exposed its citizens to radioactivity and biological agents, and even dosed them with LSD on occasion--and this is just the short list off the top of my head as I'm sitting here sipping my coffee. I'm sure most of you could come up with another couple dozen examples, without even beginning to veer into questionable conspiracy territory.

Do you really imagine the psychology of control is so different today? Do you imagine that in these days of secrecy and lies, when the ends justify the means and the administration is grabbing power like some crazed contest winner who can keep anything he can shove into his shopping cart in the space of five minutes--except it's worse because there's no time limit on this one yet--do you really think the really scary blood-curdling stuff is all over, ancient history, nothing that could ever happen today?

Piggybacking onto comments by Ted Barlow about my alternative-universe friend Instapundit...

Instapundit feels that the anti-gay slurs spewed at the NRA convention are just no big deal. (See here for the story). Proving, once again, that Those on the Right just don't get it when it comes to bigotry, racism, and homophobia.

So often I've found myself in conversations with conservative folk about racism. At first I think they are just in utter denial about its still significant presence in this country, saying things like "I've never really witnessed racism." (wuuh?) Inevitably, I come to realize that what they mean by "Racism" is, say, a public lynching. Things that don't rise to that level are just somehow unimportant, and anyone who cares about bigoted speech is just too sensitive.

If such comments were made in isolation, they could be easily laughed off. But, being brought up repeatedly in a forum completely unrelated to such issues, combined with the fact that it was in a room filled with people toting guns, well.... here's what should have happened (A little re-run from earlier by Eschaton friend B.N.):

Imagine--if Tom Boyer of the Pink Pistols, the gay observer quoted in the PlanetOut article, had made his way to that panel discussion and stood right up during the question-and-answer session (assuming there was the customary question-and-answer session as there usually is at these shindigs) and said right out to the panel:

"I'm gay.
I'm armed in self-defense against homophobic lowlifes like you.
And I'm part of a whole organization of queers armed likewise.
What do you say to that?"

Of course, he probably would have been gunned down on the spot. But at least it would have been a hell of a news story, even if Norquist, Fitzpatrick-Conway, Debbie Schlussel et al got off scot-free at the ensuing trial--to the benign neglect of Andrew Sullivan and the stormy applause of their fellow media whores nationwide.

Take a peek at the always entertaining Chickenhawk Database.
Instapundit and I obviously inhabit different universes generally, but this comment by him demonstrates by just how much. He was apparently impressed with C.J.'s speech on the West Wing last night (reproduced below) blasting the Saudi treatment of women...and impressed that "even liberals" are starting to knock the Saudi government.

I'm sure that in Instapundit's universe, liberals are either of the E.J. Dionne kind or the Noam Chomsky kind, with not a bit of air inbetween. Human Rights Groups, Feminist Groups, all manner of "liberal groups" have spent years screaming about Saudi Arabia. But, because it didn't break through quite loudly enough into the punditverse, it must not have happened.

This is much like the sudden turnabout on the Taliban post-9/11. Until that time, it was Righties who were throwing around arguments of cultural relativism to justify the Taliban's treatment of women, and liberals who would have been more than happy to topple them. After 9/11, Righties accused wobbly liberals of supporting the Taliban (or, in Ann Coulter's case, being the Taliban), because some of us were slightly concerned about how many innocent civilians would be killed in the process.

As Charles Murtaugh points out, it isn't liberals who generally have the Realpolitik bent.

Here's CJ's speech [on the Saudi schoolgirls who burned alive]:

Outraged? I'm barely surprised. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive a car. They're not allowed to be in the company of any man other than a close relative. They're required to adhere to a dress code that would make a Maryknoll nun look like Malibu Barbie. They beheaded 121 people last year for robbery, rape, and drug trafficking. They have no free press, no elected government, no political parties, and the royal family allows the religious police to travel in groups of six, carrying nightsticks, and they freely and publicly beat women. But Brutus is an honorable man. Seventeen schoolgirls were forced to burn alive because they weren't wearing the proper clothing. Am I outraged? No, Steve, no Chris, no Mark. That is Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace.

On the other hand, Dick Armey has this to say about Israel:

MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Tom Delay's, whose resolution you're going to put on the floor tomorrow and schedule, has said that the entire West Bank, he calls it
Judean Samaria, belongs to Israel. How can you say that this resolution doesn't support the Delay position which is Israel has a right to grab the entire West Bank?

Rep. ARMEY: No, I--I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank. I'm also content to have the Palestinians have a homeland and even for that to be somewhere
near Israel, but I'm not content to see Israel give up land for the purpose of peace to the Palestinians who will not accept it and would not honor it. It is time to...

MATTHEWS: Well, where do you put the Palestinian state, in Norway? Once the Israelis take back the West Bank permanently and annex it, there's no place else for the
Palestinians to have a state.

Rep. ARMEY: No, no, that's not--that's not at all true. There are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land and--and soil and property
and opportunity to create a Palestinian state.

MATTHEWS: So you would transport--you would transport the Palestinians from Palestine to somewhere else and call it their state?

Rep. ARMEY: I would be perfectly content to have a homeland, just as--most of...

MATTHEWS: But not in Palestine?

Rep. ARMEY: Most of the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world to that land and they made it their home. The Palestinians can do
the same, and we're per--perfectly content to work with the Palestinians in doing that. We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland.

MATTHEWS: Right, no. No, that's not the question and that's not your answer. The question here is: What is the future of the Palestinians who are fighting Israel right
now? You say there future is somewhere besides Palestine. That runs in the way of US policy going back to 1948. It runs--it runs completely against the president's
policy and every policy I've heard a president take, which is that Israel has to give up its settlements on the West Bank and give it back to the Arabs in exchange for
peace. You say the deal should be the Palestinians leave?

Rep. ARMEY: That's right. Palestinians say the deal should be the Israel--that--that the Israelis leave.

MATTHEWS: Have you talked about this with the president?

Rep. ARMEY: I happened to believe that the Palestinians should leave.

MATTHEWS: Have you ever told George Bush, the president from your home state of Texas, that you think the Palestinians should get up and go and leave Palestine
and that's the solution?

Rep. ARMEY: I'm probably telling him that right now. This is...

MATTHEWS: Have you thought this through?

Rep. ARMEY: I have thought this through. I've thought it through for a lot of years. I believe that Israel is the state for the Jewish people. It needs to be honored. It
needs to be protected.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. That's not what you're saying. You're saying Israel should expand its borders to the Jordan River...

Rep. ARMEY: No.

MATTHEWS: ...and kick out all the Palestinians? That's what you just said.

Rep. ARMEY: I am--I am content to have Israel occupy that land that it now occupies and to have those people who have been aggressors against Israel retired to some
other arena, and I would be happy to have them make a home. I would be happy to have all of these Arab nations that have been so hell bent to drive Israel out of the
Middle East to get together, find some land and make a home for the Palestinians. I think it can be done.

MATTHEWS: So the president, who has been dutifully, for the last couple of weeks, trying to get the Israeli army to withdraw from the West Bank, should stop that, let
the Israeli defense force take over the West Bank and hold it and make it part of Israel? You completely disagree with the president's policy then?

Rep. ARMEY: I am--I am perfectly content to have Israel hold and occupy the land that it has at this moment.

MATTHEWS: Well, how about though-how about the Jenin in Samaria? Tom Delay, whose measure you're putting on the floor tomorrow, says that all the West Bank,
Jenin, Judea, Masada, everything belongs to Israel. It's not occupied territory. It's Israeli. Is that your position?

Rep. ARMEY: Well, first of all, Chris, I think we have to be real careful on how you are interpreting jo--Tom's provision. I think Tom's provision is principally and
primarily that the Jewish people have a right to defend themselves.

MATTHEWS: Well, just to repeat, you believe that the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?

Rep. ARMEY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. More with Congressman Dick Armey coming back. You're watching HARDBALL.

More evidence of the liberal media:

Bill Schneider, political analyst for CNN, is a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Isn't that...a problem?
I try and stay out of the whole Israel vs. Palestine debate as much as possible, but much like a certain member of the Corleone family - every time I try to get out they keep sucking me back in...I'm certainly not an expert on the history of the Middle East, which seems to be written as a series of charges and countercharges, with the truth unknowable and unkown, and any discussion devolving into who did what to whom first. But, in any case, I see people who are otherwise quite intelligent throwing around some of the most ridiculous horseshit, literally right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, so occasionally I feel inclined to correct a few misonceptions, at least to the extent that I can. As I said, I'm no expert, and occasionally my facts are wrong as well.

For some reason, I regularly find that even trying to jump into the debate in the gentlest fashion - that is, not even attempting to defend Sharon's current actions but simply trying to correct factual errors, provide a slightly broader context, or correct obvious errors in reasoning - so often I'm confronted with people screaming back "just because I'm criticizing Israel doesn't mean I'm anti-Semitic!".

True, of course, but the thing is I haven't accused them of being anti-Semitic. I usually haven't even really argued with them too much. Just added a fact, or perspective to shift the balance of debate without really even debating. I wonder if the lady doth protest too much.

Vaara links to an atricle in the Seattle Weekly which tries to get at the question of why the Left is obsessed with Israel, and why the Palestinian plight is the cause du jour. The author fails to come up with much of an answer, or at least a satisfying one, but she does raise the important questions.

Sadly, the only answer she does come up with is the one we like to pretend isn't the reason - that anti-Semitism is alive and well on the Left. I'd like to think that there is another reason - but the obsession and focus on the misdeeds, real or imagined, of Israel while completely ignoring the misdeeds of its neighbors both to the Palestinians within their own borders as well as other human rights abuses defies explanation.

One argument people make is that our involvement in the region - our financial and other aid to Israel - makes it our problem, and therefore worthy of the obsessive attention paid to it. However, we currently give quite a lot of aid to Russia which has massacared Chechnyans in numbers orders of magnitudes higher than any Palestinian (or Israeli) death toll. The money paid to Saudi Arabia for our military aid and presence presumably rivals our contributions to Israel (though I haven't run the numbers), and their human rights record speaks for itself. One could rattle off list after list of unpleasantries in that region, so why is Israel the focus?

Maybe someone can explain it to me.

and don't even get me started on Europe...

Seymour Hersh makes what should be an obvious point about Zacarias Moussaoui.

"The justification for this extraordinary
procedure of not letting his lawyers have
unfettered access to him is because, the
government says again and again he is
capable of passing a message—'By God, if we
let him have an unfettered exchange that we
don't monitor, even with a lawyer, the Sears
Tower will go down tomorrow.' You have to
understand what's driving this. What's driving
this is fear. Underneath all of this bluster,
this administration is in tremendous
fear because we really know nothing
about what happened on 9/11. They're
telling us that they've stopped all sorts of
things. They tell us, 'Don't worry, we're
stopping things.' You know, you can believe
it. I don't. I think we know nothing, because
we're not very good at it. It might get better
in five years, but we know nothing. We're the
kind of society in which terrorism, frankly, if
you wanna do it, you can do it, and all the
after-the-fact gesturing doesn't make much
difference. The real issue is to try and deal
with the real world, and not make more
terrorists. But that's another story, and go
tell that to the Israelis. But you know, the
bottom line is that we're making more
. . .

"So there was a hearing that you all read
about. When the hearing began, he raised his
hand and the judge let him speak, and for
50 minutes he buried himself. This is
what's interesting to me about it. This is a
man who the federal government says
cannot be allowed to communicate with
anybody unfettered in any way, because he's
gonna pass the message . . . .He spoke for
50 minutes. It was live on the Internet.
Hundreds of reporters were listening. The
court reporter had the transcript. And not
once did the government jump up and say,
'Your Honor, clear the court!' Not once did it
say, 'Your Honor, let's go into chambers with
this. He has a right to speak but we can't
have him speak publicly because we think
he's capable of doing something.'

"Which means to me, of course, it's cheating.
They're just doing it because they can do it.
They truly aren't worried about it, because
they would have stopped him. Here he had
his big chance, and for 50 minutes they let
him go on.

It is disgusting that they've justified the monitoring of attorney-client conversations, with government appointed laywers, on the grounds that this guy is gonna send evil voodoo messages through his nostrils.

Read the whole article. There's more there.

Dan Kennedy has a nice piece on how Dubya lost his groove.

MAYBE IT ALL began to go bad during Bush's State of the Union address, in January, when he declared war -- metaphorically, if not in reality -- against an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. "Axis of incoherence," sniffed Slate.

As Slate's dismissal suggests, it wasn't so much that Bush's harsh rhetoric offended the Europeans. After all, everything offends the Europeans. It was that it made no sense. It lumped Iraq, a country that may be developing nukes and that may, indeed, need to be taken out, with two other very bad countries that pose little threat to us and that may, slowly, be turning more moderate and less warlike. Bush made no distinctions and offered no guidance as to what, if anything, we are likely to do about Iran and North Korea. It was weird and puzzling.

Phillippe and Jorge chime in as well (scroll down):

Dubya goes down

Has there been a darker day in American history than when Dubya the Dumb stood there on his hind legs and was lectured by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah about how America should be behaving, never mind getting slapped around in his own house?
Fun Quote for the Day

"I even like prison now." --Mike Tyson
One of my commenters takes issue with my contention that we have no real evidence linking Bin Laden to the WTC attacks, assuming I was trying to imply that the Bush administration was somehow responsible (I wasn't).

The only evidence we have is a tape released 3 months later in which Bin Laden talks about it, as well as video tape of the apparent hijackers released way after the fact (though obviously recorded before) spliced into other video.

My point is not to shed doubt on the Bin Laden connection, but to wonder how we devised an entire war plan based on...nothing.

Either we really had nothing, or we had something. If we had nothing, then how did OBL become public enemy #1 in about 3 hours?

If we had something, we must have had it before 9/11 - and that is why the info has never been released.

By saying that I am not accusing the Bush administration of complicity. I'm just suggesting that there must have been a colossal screwup of our intelligence industry. Not a failure to get the information, but a failure to respond to it. I'd like to know how that happened.
Been glancing through the Slashdot disccusion about PVRs (Tivo, etc...). One poster's comment caught my eye. I hadn't realized that the original Betamax cause was decided 5-4 by the Supremes, Rehnquist among the dissenters. Imagine if that had gone 5-4 the other way.
Grover Norquist wants to name everything after that senile old bastard Reagan.

Fair enough.

If I ran an underfunded, falling down urban schoolI'd name it after Ronnie.
Oh, Ann, please stop drinking your own urine.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Oh no. I just took the what kind of blogger are you? test. I refuse to reveal the results...I'll just say that perhaps there's truth in the notion that we are what we hate most...

Redistricting has always been a ridiculous sham. But, check out some of the new districts in this article in the Economist.
I'm pretty sure I ranted about this already, but I just cannot believe that Worldcom lent their CEO $350 million to cover his margin call.

Apparently, we still know nothing about what led to 9/11.

Given that we know nothing, one wonders how we knew Osama had something to do with it.

Of course, we didn't and we don't. Hey may have - what do I know? What do WE know?


To follow up on Ari's nonsense below - the legislation he is referring to authorizes funds for insurgent rebel groups, not to start a war. This raises the question - was this just more of Ari's verbal diarrhea or will this be their plan - claim this authorizes them to do it, and then question the patriotism of those who dare defy Great Leader's actions. Getting a bit creepy. Of course the real question is..


Just askin'...

[on edit] Here is the Act.

The important bit is (Thanks to Dr. Limerick):

It's amazing how often the "anti-Clinton" administration uses either the "Clinton did it too" or the "It was Clinton's policy" defense of their various bumblings:

Helen gets Ari to do it once again today:

HELEN THOMAS: What is the President's rational for invading Iraq? I've been reading stories every day of preparations, no set plan yet I admit, but anyway,
all of the senior administration officials talk all the time, including the President, about a change of regime. What is the rational for that?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, Helen, the President does believe that the people of Iraq, as well as the region, would be better off without Saddam Hussein in charge
of Iraq.

HELEN THOMAS: A lot of people would be better off in a lot of places.

MR. FLEISCHER: Can I continue? And if you recall, Helen, the Congress passed last year -- or in a previous administration -- legislation that made regime
change the official policy of the government. And that was signed into law by President Clinton. So President Bush is continuing --

HELEN THOMAS: What law was that?

MR. FLEISCHER: It's called the Iraqi Liberation Act, signed -- passed by --

HELEN THOMAS: Did it say we were going to overturn --

MR. FLEISCHER: -- passed by the House and the Senate, signed into law by President Clinton. Regime change, in whatever form it takes, is the policy of the
United States government, under President Clinton, continued under President Bush.

HELEN THOMAS: So what is President Bush's rationale for that?

MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated, that the President believes that the people of Iraq, as well as the region, will be more peaceful, better off without Saddam
Hussein in charge of Iraq, given the fact that Saddam Hussein has invaded two of his neighbors.

HELEN THOMAS: That's not a reason. There are a lot of people all over the world --

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you were the President, you could have vetoed the law. (Laughter.) President Clinton signed it, and the President will keep it

HELEN THOMAS: That's not an answer, either.

MR. FLEISCHER: Campbell.

Belo has got to be the stupidest company ever. First Cue-Cat, and now they are the latest in a fairly short line of Stupid Companies who get angry that people link to "deep links" instead of to their front page. I had a slight bit of sympathy for the case involving Ticketmaster (only slight), but in the case of a newspaper..

In addition, the Providence Journal which was never a perfect paper, really went downhill after being bought by them.
It's kind of sad and pathetic watching crazy Andy look for any hint of approval from his conservative masters. Today he's all a-twitter because Bill Buckley throws him a bone.
I try and stay away from my local paper, the Orange County Register because its news coverage is generally pathetic, often ignoring the various criminal misdeeds of the Newport Beach crowd (aside from Denis Rodman's antics), and its editorial page makes the WSJ's look like a monument to fairness and sanity. But, I thought I'd poke in and see what latest liberal outrage had them in a huff today. Today it is the erosion of property rights in the context of the recent Supreme Court decision to not consider all temporary delays on development a "taking" which would require compensation.

It's the usual screed in favor of personal freedom and against big government and crazy environmentalists, so don't bother reading it, unless you like that sort of thing.

In any case I sympathize with concerns about the erosion of property rights, though I agree with the Supreme Court's decision. On the other hand, in this neck of the woods the greatest infringements on private property rights for most people, meaning people other than large-scale developers, are the large scale-developers themselves and so-called "Shadow Governments" or homeowner's associations. The proliferation of these quasi-governments, established by the developers, which enact draconian restrictions on land use that often go way beyond land use restrictions enacted by any local authority, is a disturbing trend. For those of us who aren't likely to buy a wetland and put up condos, it is these very undemocratic pseudo-governments that tell us what we can and can't do with our land.

Of course, any libertarianoid type will happily tell me that such restrictions are fine because those who purchase into these neighborhoods have voluntarily entered into a contractual arrangement. So, absent coercion, everything is peaches and cream in Randroid land. On the other hand, such neighborhoods are increasingly the only choice in certain locations, such as Southern California. In addition, I can make the same argument about the zoning restrictions of local governments - don't like them? move elsewhere. Vote with your feet and all that.

What is different about these pseudo-governments is that those living under them are not in anyway given any constitutional protections. So, nothing about them - their lack of one-person (or one household) one-vote in some cases, for example - cannot be challenged.

One can make the same argument about, say, tightly run condo boards in NYC apartment buildings. However, they usually do at least cover only one building, and not an entire block or neighborhood. Scope and scale matter. Once a "condo board" is essentially governing a small town, it is behaving as a government does, performing many of the same functions as local governments do, without any of the legal requirements. But, I say, if it walks like a duck..
I don't want to be too hard on the poor teenagers.. The fact that they are Republican pages doesn't necessarily say anything about their political or ethical beliefs. On the other hand, not only do we have the drug use, we also have a narc...

[on edit] Does this mean they should be arrested for terrorism? They *are* supporting terra, after all...
MSNBC is reporting that a high ranking official is saying that Powell is likely to quit any day.

Whether this is a deliberate leak by Powell for a power play or just the simple truth (or completely false), remains to be seen...
I want to apologize toTed Barlow for ripping off his template. I promise to differentiate mine a bit from his as soon as I figure out how to without messing everything up.
I should just let B.N. take over this site. Here are the comments he posted regarding the NRA:

Imagine--if Tom Boyer of the Pink Pistols, the gay observer quoted in the PlanetOut article, had made his way to that panel discussion and stood right up during the question-and-answer session (assuming there was the customary question-and-answer session as there usually is at these shindigs) and said right out to the panel:

"I'm gay.
I'm armed in self-defense against homophobic lowlifes like you.
And I'm part of a whole organization of queers armed likewise.
What do you say to that?"

Of course, he probably would have been gunned down on the spot. But at least it would have been a hell of a news story, even if Norquist, Fitzpatrick-Conway, Debbie Schlussel et al got off scot-free at the ensuing trial--to the benign neglect of Andrew Sullivan and the stormy applause of their fellow media whores nationwide.

Come to think of it, maybe there's a reason there wasn't a question-and-answer session at that panel.

Andy Sullivan as Luther?

I always figured he fancied himself a Moses myself, but...

Sad as it was, I hope the NRA hate-fest was a wakeup call to those like Tom Boyer of the Pink Pistols (who did walk out of the meeting) who have genuine crossover issues. It is okay to be gay and want tax cuts. It is okay to be gay and be against gun control. It is okay to be gay and think that the "gay left agenda of idenity politics" (whatever that is) is ultimately self-defeating. However, option two - the Republican Party and its money laundering operations like the NRA are not inclusive. The Party has been eaten from within by the cancer of bigotry and it is difficult to understand how that can possibly be trumped by other genuine policy concerns.

How about Gay Rights and a bit of tolerance first, tax cuts later...

B.N. on Andy Sullivan's acting debut:

"The opera world, shaken from last February's news that Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel was cancelling all his future non-European engagements to spend more time with his family, breathed a collective sigh of relief as it was announced today that Christopher Hitchens has graciously agreed to fill all Terfel's cancelled engagements, notably his first-ever Hans Sachs with Australian Opera in 2003...Still no word from the Met as to whether Camille Paglia will or will not replace Renée Fleming in its new production of Bellini's Il Pirata next fall...All Broadway is agog with the prospect of next season's long-awaited revival of Funny Girl, starring Beltway bombshell Ann Coulter taking on the mantle of Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice. Speculation is rife as to whether Christopher Hitchens's busy opera and concert schedule will allow him to play Nicky Arnstein as originally announced. Names being floated as replacements include Bill O'Reilly, John Podhoretz, John Derbyshire and Gary Aldrich ...Word is also that the major revival of Hamlet with Andrew Sullivan in the title role, fresh from his recent triumphs as Benedick in Much Ado, is definitely on. Further casting for this all-star revival includes Peggy Noonan, Lynne Cheney, and Rush Limbaugh as the First Gravedigger... But the
latest scoop is that the producers of the new musical Sweet Smell of Success are looking to revive their box-office fortunes by replacing John Lithgow with-- Matt Drudge ...Rumor from Hollywood is that for Lethal Weapon V Mel Gibson is looking to replace Danny Glover by Stanley Crouch or Thomas Sowell; Clarence Thomas's salary demands proved too excessive even for Hollywood ...Meanwhile, in a move that shocked the classical-music recording industry, Peter Gelb of Sony Records announced that William F. Buckley, Jr. had been signed to a multimillion-dollar contract to record the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The initial release in this series, scheduled for Christmas of this year, is the complete solo cantatas for bass featuring Attorney General John Ashcroft as soloist..."

As B.N. makes clear in the comments below, one would have thought the NRA would've wished to have bonded with the pink pistols.

I guess not.
Though I initially objected to Ashcroft for his ideology, I now object to him because of his dangerous incompetence. Molly agrees.

Since the attorney general has so
amply demonstrated his clueless
incompetence, it may seem difficult
to plumb why it should be so. But it is
precisely, you see, because liberals
consider John Ashcroft a dangerous
nincompoop that the administration
thinks he's doing a good job. They
really are that simple.

LePen says some nasty things about immigrants and Jews and the world press screams in outrage.

But, the NRA meeting turns into a gay-baiting hate-fest and.....silence?

If the media were as liberal...1/2 as liberal... 1/10 as liberal... as is claimed, Kelly Anne and Grover wouldn't see their disgusting mugs on TV for quite some time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I was wrong. Good, and surprisingly lucid and not about the church.
MoDo Time...Good, or evil?

I say... well..I say it's probably Good, and about the Catholic Church's little problem
Anthrax is so October 11.
It looks like Bush has chosen his new candidate for Vice President in '04.

Click here to find out who it is.

I've added comments. We'll see how that goes. Say hello.
Bob Novak just gave members of Congress who wish to get Tom Ridge to testify under oath a game plan.

You see, it was okay to drag Clinton aides in to testify over unspecified nebulous allegations.

So, it's time to invent some possible wrongdoing by Ridge and drag him in to talk about it.

Their rules.
The American Prospect is off to a pretty good start with their new blog of sorts, TAPPED. Hopefully they'll make me eat my snarky comment about their boring wonkishness. Welcome to the game.
Tucker Carlson in that TV Guide article linked below:

Even for conservative Carlson, Crossfire is the gold standard of political talk shows and Hannity & Colmes, Fox's conservative-versus-liberal show, is a joke. "Hannity & Colmes is a place for cut-rate Al Sharptons to go on," says Carlson. "Nobody with serious ideas wants to be seen on it."

Good point, bow-tie baby.
Howie Kurtz does this almost every single week, and he's not alone. He pits one or more conservative pundits or reporters for right wing publications against journalists for mainstream newspapers.

Here's his take on that:

Bedford, Tex.: Hi, I watched "Reliable Sources" on Saturday and I was curious why
there was a conservative (Laura Ingraham) but no liberal pundit. I consider Roger
Simon and Dana Milbank to be beat reporters and not liberal pundits.

Howard Kurtz: They're certainly more liberal than Laura Ingraham. I refuse to play
the Crossfire game of matching up partisan liberals and conservatives and let them
go at each other.

The liberal media rears its ugly head once again.
Someone I met this past weekend in D.C. (and, I met lots of interesting and entertaining people) made a somewhat obvious point that had never occurred to me before. I'm no strong advocate of draconian gun control, but nonetheless the paranoid antics of the NRA piss me off quite regularly. In any case, much of the paranoia surrounding things such as gun registration and background checks on gun purchases involves the concern that if government has that information, it will be all too easy for them to round all the guns and gun owners up when the U.N. takes over, or whatever.

But, why bother - the NRA has already collected the names and addresses of a huge number of gun owners in this country. One-stop shopping when the black helicopters land.
Cat fans, go here .
Vaara is too quick for me. He has found another Le Pen endorsement!

I still stand by my point - that there isn't all that much air between Le Pen and some of our own elected right wing nuts...

Now, if some reporter would just ask Trent Lott what he thinks of Le Pen...

George W. Bush says that Ronald Reagan has no soul.

Mr Bush claims a man who dyes his hair cannot be trusted and
"doesn’t know who he is ... has no soul".

From TVGuide

"It used to be I could do [Crossfire] in my sleep, but not with [Begala and Carville]. It's going to
take a few years to get used to them." - Bob Novak

After years of having nothing but too-bland liberals like Bill Press (whom I admire a lot) and Alan Colmes (whom I don't) arguing "from the Left" it is refreshing to finally have a pair that can fight back. I know there are plenty of people who wish shows like Crossfire would just go away and think that they do nothing to elevate the quality of political discourse in this country. But, it is time to expend energy playing by their rules, and not waste time trying to change them.

Bow-Tie Baby Tucker Carlson's rhetoric is not more hyperbolic than either Carville's or Begala's. None of them come close to the rhetoric of the right wing TVpundits and pundettes that have been legitimized by our mainstream media for years - Hannity, Malkin, Coulter, Ingraham, diGenova, Toensing, Babs Olson, nor even the rantings of "respectable print pundits" like Michael Kelly, William Safire, nor of course the non-stop barrage of hate-radio wingnuts like Limbaugh, Liddy, Savage, "Dr." Laura, etc... Somehow, they've managed to lobotomize the Left - and even Lefties find firebrand centrists Begala and Carville a bit off-putting for some reason.

A show like Crossfire isn't for everyone. But, no one on the Left should be anything but thrilled that Carville and Begala are finally stepping up to the plate. The politicos and pundits on our side need to take a page from the Harry Truman/LBJ school of rhetoric.

On a related note, thanks to James Carville for being a gracious host AND guest this past weekend.
According to this article, House Republicans prefer to continue their support for domestic terrorism organizations than pass a bankruptcy bill.

The steaming pile of dung of a bill shouldn't pass, period. So, one cheer for them, I suppose.
John Dean doesn't make clear if he really knows, or just really suspects, the identity of Deep Throat. But, he's planning to out DT nonetheless, and says that he's an 'ole pal of Fat Tony Scalia.

Let the games begin..

Monday, April 29, 2002

I'll pile on along with the rest of the country... WHAT WAS CARDINAL LAW THINKING? All but calls a 6 year victim of child molestation a little tramp.
Vaara has been busy tracking down various endorsements of Le Pen by individuals and groups in the U.S. Now, I know that there are those who would argue that just because Lott, Barr, and Ashcroft are "associated with" a group does not mean they endorse all of their views. But, on the other hand, as the leader of the free world once said - You can judge a man by the company he keeps. (This article ties Ashcroft a bit more closely to the CCC, or at least some of its members).

While the National Review doesn't quite endorse Le Pen, this article, under the guise of simply arguing that Le Pen's chances are greater than some think (which I agree with), doesn't do so without sounding somewhat gleeful at the prospect. Again, it is not quite an endorsement of Le Pen's views, but rather a kind of "serves you right" indictment of his opponent[s].

Who's next?
Hey, it isn't racial profiling....

My sixth-grade teacher once told me the thing
that makes this country great is that in the United
States, we are free to speak our minds. I began
to seriously doubt the truth of that sentiment on
April 19 when I was detained overnight in
Milwaukee along with several others of the
well-known, non-violent organization Peace
Action ("Security fear keeps peace group at
airport," April 20).

We were on our way to demonstrate and lobby
our representatives in Washington, D.C. As I
approached the airline ticket counter at Mitchell
International Airport to get my boarding pass, I
was told that I couldn't fly because my name
appeared on a "no fly" list.
Over at the The New Republic they flesh out something I've been thinking for some time now - what on Earth is Glenn Hubbard doing to his career? Mainstream academic economists cover the political spectrum from ever-so-slightly center-left, like Paul Krugman, to far right (much like our punditocracy). But, this comment has nothing to do with Hubbard's political or economic views, but the fact that he has managed to turn the Council of Economic Advisors into yet another prop shop for the malAdministration.
Vaara, using his powers of real-time translation, comments on an article in Le Monde about Chechnya. With all the column-inches, blog-rants, and forum fighting spent on Jenin, why does no one care about Chechnya?

I also noticed he makes the same point I do about federal government money loving red-staters... I hadn't actually seen that on his Blog before I posted it.
May I see your papers please?.

— In a rare disagreement,
White House and Justice
Department officials are
divided over whether to declare
that local and state police
departments have the power to
track down illegal immigrants as a new tactic in the global war on

If adopted as policy, an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel at the
Justice Department would reverse a longstanding legal tradition and
allow local police officers to make arrests for civil violations of
immigration law, such as overstaying visas.

Independent of what one's feelings are for immigration and immigrants - legal or illegal - this is a very disturbing development. When I lived in a certain European country, as a non-citizen I was required to carry a passport or equivalently suitable identification with me at all times. Of course, so were the citizens of that country. If Ashcroft's latest great idea is implemented, police will have the right to ask for such identification. Who carries their passports with them? Hell, what percentage of Americans even have a passport? One might argue that we are already required to carry identification such as a driver's license, which is effectively if not literally true, but a driver's license says nothing about whether or not you are a legal resident or citizen. People can get them and then have a residency permit expire.

Since few or no Americans carry their passports, if individuals are required to provide positive proof of their legal status every time a policeman feels like giving someone a hard time, a lot of people are going to find themselves in annoying situations.

There is a simple solution - just bug the brown people with funny accents. Lots of them are citizens too. So much for equal treatment.

Americans abroad expect to be treated the same as, if not better than, than the locals are. In another European country I spent some time in the foreigners were easy to spot - they put a big red stripe on their license plates.

In addition to frightening the civil libertarians, these measures and their potential consequences should worry the States' Rights people. Blurring the roles of federal and state law enforcement, federalizing driver's license and identificaton requirements, and the like, will all erode the independence of states in these matters.
Living as I do in a Blue State, I'm getting really tired of having to subsidize the Red States. Though Andy Sullivan waxes rhapsodic over all those parts of the country that he has never actually been to, the conservative libertarian in him should be shocked at the fact that they seem to survive only due to the generous contributions of tax dollars by Blue Staters like me. As those liberals (cough) over at the Tax Foundation make clear, so many of those havens of rugged individualism sure do seem to enjoy sucking on the federal government's tit.

A quick glance at the numbers (very quick, so give or take a state) shows us that out of the 30 Red States that Crazy Andy idealizes, 21 of them received more than $1.05 in federal tax dollars for every $1.00 they sent to D.C. in '00.

In those crazy big government liberal states, only 7 out of 20 did.

It seems that Vaara and I get similar criticism - too juvenile, too sophomoric, etc. While I take these criticisms somewhat seriously, as I am still trying to find the appropriate voice for this, why is it people seem to think us lefties have to emulate the boring wonkishness of The American Prospect? As Vaara also points out, every other citizen of blogistan is doing their best to emulate P.J. O'Rourke, the Michael Moore of the Right, so what's wrong with us CommucRATS having a bit of fun?

I've gotten this criticism from people who appear to be (you can never tell) both Lefties and Righties and, all I have to say is - lighten up and look around. What I write here can't possibly be any sillier than Ann Coulter's stuff, and she gets paid for it.

Of course, she gets paid by lying bigotboy David Horowitz who has been busted yet again by the fine folks at MWO.
Washington Post in plagiarism scandal.

I wonder if Howie Kurtz will be covering this...