Saturday, June 14, 2003

There may be some hope for the Times

Dim though the hope is.

The gravest questions of fiscal responsibility for the nation are being ignored in the freakish sideshow now under way in Congress over yet another tax cut in these fiscally difficult times. President Bush and the Republican leaders should be candidly debating the $2 trillion-plus mountain of deficits and debt they are rolling onto the backs of future generations through the administration's serial tax cuts. Instead, they are obsessed with the 2004 election cycle, wrangling over how best to throw a last-minute bone to low-income Americans shortchanged in last month's tax giveaway to the most affluent Americans.

The Bush cuts offer too little short-term stimulus while choking the long-term revenue flow for the looming time when Social Security and Medicare costs will balloon. Mr. Bush's growing need to float the federal government on borrowed money will crimp economic growth. This is the stuff of real debate. Instead we have the G.O.P. worrying a modest share for the poor. The outcome promises to position the president as a compassionate "moderate" in a cynical bit of right-wing theater produced by the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, the president's indispensable ally in budget politicking.

The Times brain trust does not seem to realize that "candid debate" is not an option right now, even if aWol didn't lie like a rug; this is no longer "business as usual."

They seem to think that "choking the long-term revenue flow" that enables the government to "promote the general welfare" (Preamble, US Constitution) is some sort of accident.

It isn't; it's the plan. The Thugs are out to trash the New Deal and loot what they can, now, because they can.

When will the Times stand up?


Obviously, it's good news when theocratic thugs are brought under the rule of law, instead of acting with impunity. Here:

TEHRAN (AP) - Iranian police arrested dozens of pro-clergy militants Saturday who smashed their way into university dormitories and beat up sleeping students in a wave of violence aimed at putting down protests against Iran's Islamic government.

The militants, who pledge allegiance to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, usually act with impunity, breaking up demonstrations and punishing protesters.

We could use some of that good news here!

Winnebagos of Mass Destruction


An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist.

The conclusion by biological weapons experts working for the British Government is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who has claimed that the discovery of the labs proved that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction and justified the case for going to war against Saddam Hussein.

Instead, a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.'

The revelation that the mobile labs were to produce hydrogen for artillery balloons will also cause discomfort for the British authorities because the Iraqi army's original system was sold to it by the British company, Marconi Command & Control.

Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.

Don't miss the farmer!

We've been posting so vociferously that the farmer's brilliant "bump-monkey pox" post might be missed.

Both bump-monkey pox and Limbaughian dung swine fever often exhibit the following symptoms:
#17- The dreaded CAPS-LOCK disease!

Scroll down and read! Mix 'em, match 'em! Share 'em with your friends! It's important to structure the discourse to our advantage, and this the farmer does.

NGOs in Iraq

Jack Epstein of the SF Chronicle writes:

Five leading U.S. humanitarian organizations have clashed with the Bush administration in recent weeks over the Pentagon's role in the rebuilding of Iraq, saying military oversight jeopardizes their work and puts aid workers at risk.

Late last month, IRC, CARE and WorldVision Inc. all declined to participate in a $35 million program to rebuild schools and health clinics administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, a State Department agency that in Iraq reports to an authority established by the Pentagon.

Kevin Henry, CARE's advocacy director, echoed Bartolini's concern, saying his organization turned down the offer to participate in the USAID initiative for fear of "losing our credibility and putting our staff at greater risk."

last week, Save the Children and Mercy Corps, a Portland humanitarian organization, objected to a demand that all contact with journalists be filtered through USAID in order to qualify for the same development program turned down by CARE, IRC and WorldVision.

The media restriction, which one NGO official called "unprecedented," was imposed soon after USAID Director Andrew Natsios told a forum of InterAction, the largest alliance of American humanitarian groups working overseas, that NGOs fulfilling U.S. contracts are "an arm of the U.S. government" and should do a better job highlighting ties to the Bush administration if they want to continue receiving funds for overseas projects.

According to an NGO executive who asked not to be named because his group is involved in dealings with USAID, "The Bush administration is having real problems in Iraq and doesn't like the bad press. They think NGOs are behind it, whispering into the ears of reporters."

Typical. Controlliing the message (to who? Us!) is more important than schools and food for children.

Meanwhile, the missionary NGOs are experiencing no such difficulties. From Robert Gee of the Austin American-Stateman:

For hundreds, perhaps thousands of American evangelical Christians, Iraq is fertile ground for humanitarian relief work -- and introducing Muslims to the story of Jesus.

It's great that the Iraqi people are being helped, whether by missionaries or not. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine how some in this country would react to aid that came from the Red Crescent and included verses from the Koran.

Sharon's Road Map

I always hesitate to bring up Israel and the Palestinians; even this far away from the suicide bombings and the answering missiles, there seems to be a green line of sorts, across which those of us who care about this tragedy but have differing takes on it, can't hear one another.

But this story, unreported here, as far as I can tell, describes a development too stunning to be ignored.

Is Sharon to blame? Israelis wonder
PM's bid to kill Hamas leader condemned

It is a question rarely asked by Israel's Jews, and almost never in public. But yesterday one member of the Israeli parliament, Roman Bronfman, cautiously wondered if the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, did not have Jewish blood on his hands.

In carefully couched terms, he raised the question after the militant Islamic movement Hamas responded with its favorite weapon - the suicide bombing of civilians - to Israel's botched attempt to kill its political leader.

"It is necessary to examine government policy which may not have been helpful in progressing the "road map" and seems to have taken us back to death, pain and sorrow," Mr Bronfman said

The article goes on to describe the surprising array of Sharon critics, including twenty-five Israeli millitary officers, who were planning to sign an advertisement praising Sharon for embracing a Palestinian state and who now worry he hasn't.

Among those who initiated the advert was Brigadier-General Asher Levy, Mr Sharon's commanding officer in the 1948 independence war.

"We fought together and we were wounded together, so I know him well. We had a long conversation a year ago and I believed he had changed. Now I'm not sure," he said.

Most Americans have no idea of the range of opinion in Israel. And now there appears to be emerging the return of a willingness there, to take a look at the efficacy as well as the morality of pursuing security Sharon's way. (CNN seems to be reporting, in one of those crawls across the bottom of the screen, that a new poll shows sixty percent plus of Israelis think Sharon's actions played a role in provoking the Hamas attacks.)

Go read; it's a point of view you won't get on cable news.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

Here's word from the Brits on the fate of empires. And, after all, they had centuries of success doing it, even if we did escape, and later best them.

From Eric Hobsbawm: (I'm quoting far too much of it, I know, but an analytical perspective on what we are experiencing is so refreshing.)

America's imperial delusion
The British empire was the only one [of Spain, Russia, Rome] that really was global in a sense that it operated across the entire planet. But the differences are stark. The British empire at its peak administered one quarter of the globe's surface. The US has never actually practised colonialism, except briefly at the beginning of the 20th century. It operated instead with dependent and satellite states and developed a policy of armed intervention in these.

The collapse of the Soviet Union left the US as the only superpower. The sudden emergence of a ruthless, antagonistic flaunting of US power is hard to understand, all the more so since it fits neither with long-tested imperial policies nor the interests of the US economy. But patently a public assertion of global supremacy by military force is what is in the minds of the people at present dominating policymaking in Washington.

Is it likely to be successful? The world is too complicated for any single state to dominate it. And with the exception of its superiority in hi-tech weaponry, the US is relying on diminishing assets. Its economy forms a diminishing share of the global economy, vulnerable in the short as well as long term. The US empire is beyond competition on the military side. That does not mean that it will be absolutely decisive, just because it is decisive in localised wars.

Iraq was a country that had been defeated by the Americans and refused to lie down. It happened to have oil, but the war was really an exercise in showing international power. The emptiness of administration policy is clear from the way the aims have been put forward in public relations terms.

Domestically, the real danger for a country that aims at world control is militarisation. Internationally, the danger is the destabilising of the world. The Middle East is far more unstable now than it was five years ago. US policy weakens all the alternative arrangements, formal and informal, for keeping order. In Europe it has wrecked Nato - not much of a loss, but trying to turn it into a world military police force for the US is a travesty. It has deliberately sabotaged the EU, and also aims at ruining another of the great world achievements since 1945: prosperous democratic social welfare states.

How long the present superiority of the Americans [will last] is impossible to say. The only thing of which we can be absolutely certain is that historically it will be a temporary phenomenon, as all other empires have been.

There are internal reasons, the most immediate being that most Americans are not interested in running the world. What they are interested in is what happens to them in the US. The weakness of the US economy is such that at some stage both the US government and electors will decide that it is much more important to concentrate on the economy than to carry on with foreign military adventures. Even by local business standards Bush does not have an adequate economic policy for the US. And Bush's existing international policy is not a particularly rational one for US imperial interests - and certainly not for the interests of US capitalism. Hence the divisions of opinion within the US government.

The key questions now are: what will the Americans do next, and how will other countries react?

Of course, as Keynes said, "in the long run, we're all dead." One thing we can be sure of is that by the time their delusions are exposed, aWol and all his cronies, Pioneers, and Rangers will be well ensconced in bunkers with sacks of cash.

Dean throws down a marker

Mike Glover of AP writes: writes:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he's "throwing down a marker" with a $300,000 television ad campaign designed to set himself apart from the field of Democratic presidential candidates.

"My message is very clear: Democrats need to stand up and be proud to be Democrats again," he said.

"We're not being shy about this," said Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager. "We're not running a sit-back-and-watch campaign. We're being very aggressive, because that's what we think is needed to beat George Bush."

Personally, I'm a "yellow dog" Democrat--I'll vote for a yellow dog over any Republican. But one thing I like about Dean is that he's unafraid to take aWol on. Whether this resonates with the electorate remains to be seen.
From the Comments to Tresy's post, SullyWatch adds this important insight:

What's really funny about this is that AEI, the Federalist Society and all the other Scaife-spawn have had exactly the sort of effect on the US that they now fret about "NGOs" (and which NGOs are they talking about?) having on other countries.

To quote from their website:

NGOs have created their own rules and regulations and demanded that governments and corporations abide by those rules. Many nations’ legal systems encourage NGOs to use the courts-or the specter of the courts-to compel compliance. Politicians and corporate leaders are often forced to respond to the NGO media machine, and the resources of taxpayers and shareholders are used in support of ends they did not intend to sanction.

Some of the paper titles deserve to be republished here as well:

"The NGO Challenge: Whose Democracy Is It Anyway?" Gary Johns, Institute of Public Affairs, Australia

"Increasing NGO Openness and Accountability" David Riggs, Capital Research Center

This gets better when you go over to NGOwatch:

Do NGOs influence international organizations like the World Trade Organization? What is their agenda? Who runs these groups? Who funds them? And to whom are they accountable?


This site will, without prejudice, compile factual data about non-governmental organizations. It will include analysis of relevant issues, treaties, and international organizations where NGOs are active.


Non-governmental organizations are a time-honored tradition, in the United States and throughout the world. With greater transparency for NGOs, there will be greater accountability, and with that, we hope, greater responsibility and effectiveness for the many who are engaged in great work.

Lessee ... this from the same general crew that got the courts to seal the results of the conflict-of-interest investigation in the Hiatt Steele trial and the Arkansas Project investigation (itself the result of a case study in non-profit opacity).

The site begs for suggestions. We’re sure they wouldn’t mind hearing from us, would they?

Oh, and lastly, the irony of conservative groups complaining about misuse of the private sector by groups when government can’t do the job is just ... well, Alanis Morrisette couldn’t do it justice.

This kind of attack, accusing all attempts to extend democracy of being elitist, has a long, dishonorable history in the Republican Party, two classics being Reagan's attempts, from Governor to President, to get rid of the Legal Resources Corp., and the on-going conservative, through-the-looking-glass arguments, from Bork to Wm Pryor, against one man, one vote.

Even Dean Broder is starting to get it

Bush sounds sincere--but he lies like a rug.

Broder describes the bait:

[President Bush's] advocacy seems entirely sincere .....

In his two most recent State of the Union addresses and in dozens of speeches around the country, this president has urged Americans to devote time and energy to community projects. And he has pledged his best efforts to expand government programs of national service.

At his road stops, Bush likes to introduce AmeriCorps workers, while telling audiences that "we'll increase AmeriCorps by 50 percent." That goal was also set forth in the president's budget for fiscal 2004, which administration documents said would take AmeriCorps up from 50,000 to 75,000 people.

Then the switch:

But despite the rhetoric, skeptics noted that Bush actually reduced his request for AmeriCorps grants from $364 million for fiscal 2003 to $324 million for fiscal 2004.

Remember when the (mal)Administration "forgot" to budget for Afghani reconstruction? Standard operating procedure for these guys.

Like falling off the scooter: aWol wants the photo op bad, but when it comes time to find the "on" switch, he gets a little, well, clumsy. (Then again, maybe we don't want aWol to get comfortable with pushing buttons....)

Winnning the hearts and minds of the people

Borzou Daragahi of the AP writes: Townspeople: U.S. Forces Killed Five Civilians in Response to Attack on Tank Patrol

Jaafar Obeid, a farmer, told The Associated Press that five male relatives - including a 70-year-old man and three of his sons, - were shot by American troops who apparently mistook them for militants fleeing after attacking a U.S. tank patrol.

Lt. Col. Greg Julian, a U.S. military spokesman, declined to comment on reports of civilian casualties in the incident, which started late Thursday on the outskirts of Balad, a rural area 30 miles north of Baghdad.

"If they're wearing civilian clothing and shooting weapons at you, they are not classified as civilians," Julian said Saturday.

But townspeople said the five men were trying to douse fires in their wheat fields set by U.S. flares when soldiers shot them. Mourners set up three tents for funeral services in Elheed, the village near Balad where people said the men were killed.

Obeid said an American officer came and apologized to the family Friday morning for the deaths, which he said have devastated the village.

Sometimes, of course, "sorry" doesn't help. Oh, and the body counts are off, too. Sound familiar?

There were no American casualties but conflicting reports of Iraqi deaths. U.S. Central Command said American forces killed 27 Iraqi insurgents but officers at the scene put the number much lower, at five or seven.

But don't worry! We've got search and destroy missions underway already.

"We will maintain that pressure, causing him to react to us, rather than vice versa," said Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, U.S. ground forces commander in Iraq. "Are there bad guys still out there? Absolutely. Are we going after them? Absolutely."

For weeks, American forces have been targets of hit-and-run attacks, usually by individuals or small groups throwing grenades, or firing rockets or small arms, and then fleeing. Forty-nine U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since May 1, according to the U.S. Central Command.

Hmmm.... Who's pressuring whom, here?

"Mission Accomplished" my Aunt Fanny. RMA this, Rummy!

Who Cares What You Think?

That welfare program for lumpenintelligentsia known as the American Enterprise Institute is concerned about the influence of nongovernmental organizations--you know, dangerous outfits like Amnesty International and Greenpeace, with their tiny, 3-million member mailing lists. They even held a "debate" about their influence this week. The title?

We're Not from the Government, but We're Here to Help You
Nongovernmental Organizations: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few

The program's co-sponsor? NGOWatch--a project of.... The Federalist Society.

Comment would be superfluous.

Meanwhile, spotted in Albuquerque, this bumper sticker: Ask your mother what democracy was like.

I want one.

Why aWol fell off the scooter

We think.

Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe writes:

If only the leader of the free world hadn't fallen off.

On Thursday, President Bush failed to flip the "on" switch to the scooter he had purchased for his father, so the self-balancing mechanism didn't work. The president tumbled to the ground, unhurt. And news photographers, lingering outside the compound with long lenses, picked up grainy images of a presidential spill.

What, his handlers flip all the switches for him, so he's forgotten how?

From a public policy perspective, this whole episode is really too bad. If the Chinese, for example, bought into the Segway instead of following our path to a petroleum-hooked car-topia, maybe aWol's war planners could slack off a little, since the Chinese would be consuming less of "our" oil.

aWol on Flag Day

His little speech:

Americans also can show their respect for the freedom in their nation by volunteering to help fellow citizens, the president said.

``There are so many ways to improve the lives of fellow Americans - by answering the call to feed the hungry, or caring for the elderly, or teaching a child to read, or joining with neighbors to support the police, fire fighters and medics who respond to emergencies,'' he said.

"So many ways" -- except, well, having the federal government actually budget for these things. But then, we gave away all that money in tax cuts to hose the New Deal and the safety net, so that option isn't available any more.

Yep, I guess I'll just cancel a golf game or two and march down to my local police station, and, since aWol isn't budgeting for preventing shoulder-fired missiles from taking down an airplane, ask to help on that little problem.

Then again, I could show respect for freedom by donating for regime change.

Tom Delay, Westar, and the Free Market

Thomas B. Edsall and Juliet Eilperin of our own Pravda, WaPo, write:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) have said they backed a 2002 legislative provision sought by a Kansas energy company because it fit their deregulatory, free-market philosophy. Good policy, not politics, was their chief concern, they said, and the company's contributions to several Republican committees did not influence their actions.

But the head of a Kansas regulatory agency said the Republican-backed provision was more likely to help the energy company's top executives than its thousands of customers.

Well, surprise! You have to understand that in the Thug lexicon, "free market" means free for the insiders to loot. A la those fine Texas-based bidnesses Enron, Harken, and so on.

The company, Westar Energy Inc., is under federal investigation for alleged fraud. A simultaneous company-initiated inquiry, meanwhile, disclosed e-mails in which top executives last year said they believed Congress would enact the provision -- which would exempt Westar from federal oversight under the Investment Company Act -- if they donated $56,600 to campaign committees associated with four GOP lawmakers, including DeLay and Barton.

Of course, once again, this was simple faith on the part of these deluded executives ("the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"(Heb.11:1). And indeed, there is nothing to see here. How could there be?

"It never ceases to amaze me that people are so cynical they want to tie money to issues, money to bills, money to amendments," said DeLay, whose Texans for a Republican Majority PAC received a $25,000 Westar corporate contribution.

Move along, people, move along. Nothing to see here!

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who received Westar contributions as a Senate candidate, this week declined to say whether he would recuse himself from matters involving the company, the Associated Press reported.

"Never ceases to amaze me"... So stunning in its stark, simple beauty. So sublime in its boldness, its audacity, in the rich, rich flavor of its deeply unctuous and Pharisaical holier-than-thou-ness. So very, very duck pit-ready. It would bring a tear to my eye, if I were not already, with Atrios, banging my head on the table.

CIA will "find" the WMDs

From Greg Miller at the LA Times:

The CIA has reassigned two senior officials who oversaw its analysis on Iraq and the deposed regime's alleged banned weapons, a move that a CIA spokesman said was routine but that others portrayed as an "exile."

The officials served in senior positions in which they were deeply involved in assembling and assessing the intelligence on Iraq's alleged stocks of chemical and biological arms.

One of the officials was reassigned last week to the CIA's personnel department after spending the last several months heading the Iraq Task Force, a special unit set up to provide 24-hour support to military commanders during the war.

The other, a longtime analyst who had led the agency's Iraq Issue Group, was dispatched on an extended mission to Iraq. [italics mine] The group is responsible for the core analysis of all the intelligence the United States collects on Iraq.

Harlow, the CIA spokesman, said the woman "is moving on to an assignment in Iraq to support important issues out there." He noted that, as an expert on the country, she welcomed the opportunity to work there. Before Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, he said, "we didn't have positions in Iraq."

This week, the White House put Tenet in charge of the ongoing weapons hunt, a job that had belonged to the Pentagon.

"They handed the whole ball to George," said one intelligence source familiar with the details of the assignment. He said the message being sent to Tenet seemed clear: "You said [the banned weapons] were there. You go find them. [italics mine]"

Great. Now I'm all reassured about this too....

Bush "juggernaut" in 2004

Bob Kemper of the Chicago Tribune writes about it here.
Money talks. (See ePatriot button at left.)

"Most Republicans are referring to it as the Bush juggernaut," said GOP strategist Scott Reed.

As he did in the last campaign, Bush will lean heavily on the so-called Pioneers, the fundraisers who brought in at least $100,000 each in 2000. They will be asked to raise at least $200,000 each this time, Bush advisers said.

The Bush campaign once said there were 212 Pioneers. Forty-three of them received public jobs after the election, including 19 ambassadorships and two Cabinet posts, according to campaign watchdog groups. But documents recently made public show there were more than 500 Pioneers.

Oops! 500 versus 212. But who's counting?

And about that cornerstone (well, sorta):

James Zogby, a former Gore adviser who now is with the Arab American Institute, recalled that before the 2002 midterm elections, the White House successfully refocused the campaign on national security by initiating a debate over the invasion of Iraq. That gave Republicans an edge they used to take control of the Senate.

The Bush team appears poised to try a similar tactic in 2004, Zogby said, this time by playing up the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GOP is starting with an unusually late nominating convention in New York, not far from the World Trade Center site and just days before the third anniversary of the attacks.

Republican strategist Charlie Black, who worked for Bush's father, said the White House never would manipulate memories of Sept. 11 for political purposes. "That's a ridiculous charge," Black said.

Great. Now I'm all reassured, since up is down, black is white, ignorance is strength, and so forth.

Thug's budget strategy

Jack Beatty in The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting analysis. Go read.

By any definition, not acting now to narrow the gap between revenues and outlays is a dereliction of fiduciary responsibility. Cutting taxes in the face of it is willful recklessness. But this policy failure is a political success for the Rove/Bush strategy of keeping the sun from setting on the GOP era. Rove is open about the alchemy required. He laid it out for his Boswell, the invaluable Nicholas Lemann, of The New Yorker. Tax cuts and budget deficits will starve the government of funds for discretionary spending on things like after-school programs, health care, and public transportation. Receiving fewer services, Americans will demand tax relief. The idea is to create a permanent constituency for tax cuts, especially among poorer Americans, those "lucky duckies," in the words of a Wall Street Journal editorial, who pay little or no federal income taxes now. The Journal, the Administration's oracle on taxes, says the key to cutting government is to shift more of the tax burden on to the people at the lower end of the economic spectrum—those who work at Wal-Mart, who clean office buildings, staff nursing homes and school cafeterias. Since most state tax codes follow the federal template, the Bush cuts will trigger state income tax cuts, which will force more reductions in state spending and/or increases in state sales and local property taxes to balance state budgets. Sales and property taxes fall with painful severity on the less affluent. Piece by piece, under successive tax revolts, the regulatory responsibilities assumed by the federal government beginning a hundred years ago will be abandoned, and the programs of the Great Society (Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Aid to Education, Head Start, etc.) and the New Deal (Social Security) will be hollowed out, dismantled, or privatized.

Alert reader MacJazz classifies such a strategy as Hypertaxica Evisceralis, adding to the Farmer's brilliant (and frightening) taxonomy of the symptoms of Bump-Money Pox.

Back to the gilded age....

Puke 2

Maggie Haberman of the NY Daily news writes:

In another development yesterday, Pataki insisted he doesn't plan to lay the cornerstone for a 1,776-foot spire at Ground Zero during next year's Republican convention.

The comments came after a published report suggesting that rebuilding officials were pushing to break ground for the so-called Freedom Tower during the convention, which will be held in the city in August 2004.

Patakis's non-denial denial raises the next question -- Which Republican does plan to lay the cornerstone duringthe Republican Convention?

Of course, this whole problem could be solved very simply. The White House could simply issue a statement that they have no plans to politicize 9/11 in any way. How hard could that be?

More Bad News From the Front

According to Reuters:

Fire, Explosions Hit Iraq-Turkey Pipeline

The main oil export pipeline linking Iraq (news - web sites) and Turkey, halted since the U.S.-led war on Baghdad, was hit by fire and explosions caused by a gas leak, U.S. authorities in Iraq said on Friday.

Turkey said investigations were under way to establish whether sabotage was to blame for the blast in the Iraqi section of the pipeline in northern Iraq late on Thursday.

The Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian said its correspondent in Iraq had reported another explosion on Friday afternoon around 30 miles from the previous blast. It gave no explanation for the latest explosion.

Odd that on my occassional strolls through the room where my dog, Apu, watches the cable news shows, I heard no mention of anything like this.

An Agence France Presse correspondent was on the scene:

Sabotage Hits Iraq Pipeline as US Prepares to Resume Exports
"It's to stop the Americans taking the oil out to Turkey"

An Iraqi oil pipeline was burning after being sabotaged as the country's crude was set to return to the world market, and despite an offensive by US-led forces against opponents of their occupation regime.

Fires blazed on the major pipeline from Iraq's northern oilfields after what residents said were twin bomb attacks aimed at sabotaging exports through Turkey.

Of course, as patriots we should take anything the French have to say about Iraq with a soupcon of sel de mer, (yes, it's more expensive, but you can taste the difference) - still, they do a good roundup of how well our stay there isn't going.

Something I didn't know:

Four European companies, a Turkish firm and the US company ChevronTexaco were awarded contracts to buy 9.5 million barrels of Iraqi oil, returning it to the international market after a three-month suspension, industry sources said.

If oil revenues are to be used to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq, does that include the cost of our occupation? Will those revenues go directly to the companies awarded the reconstruction contract? Has any of this been explained to Iraqis?

If it were the express purpose of the Bush administration to convince Iraqis that their most precious resource is being hijacked by a foreign occupier, could they be doing a better job? I think not.


I´ll have much more to say about this at a later date, but the page B3 headline in the New York Times (in the print edition, not online, according to reader de) which says "GOAL IS TO LAY CORNERSTONE AT GROUND ZERO DURING G.O.P. CONVENTION" makes me want to puke.

This is sick, and we have to do something about it.

A POX - Loosed upon the land!

I don't know about anyone else out there but I'm worried about the bump-monkey pox. I've been following along with the latest developments on television and the whole business is giving me the creeps. They had a picture of some guy who'd been bitten on the neck by some foul infected creature and now he's squirreled away in some E-4 containment facility in Virginia or Atlanta or some god-forsaken outpost like that.

So I did some sneaking around on my own time and I think I found the source of the bump-monkey pox. Or at least a whole festering pool of the slippery little buggers.

Yeeks, huh! See what I mean. And ugly buggers they are. I contacted The Center for the Study of Ideological Conservatism (C-SIC) and asked them what they knew about the bump-monkey pox and if they could send me any information they might have collected concerning the mutant scourge. They seemed frightened by my request and redirected me to Ehrlich Altermon, director of the NCSIML, National Center for the Study of Infectious Media Lunacies. Good thing too because this guy filled me in on all the awful details.

As I was to learn, Dr. Altermon has examined thousands of cases of the bump-monkey pox and its impact over the years. The bump-monkey pox it seems is very similar to the ditto-parrot squawk virus, that has been migrating for many years to otherwise healthy populations by way of infected avian media-mogul droppings. The bump-monkey pox is similar but it spreads primarily via pet lapblogs and similarly infected domestic critters.

Altermon, predicts a possible rise in infection rates as rabid right winged belfry bats and fuzzy tongued GOP shrub shrews colonize media talk show rafters and gnaw away at the roots of independent critical journalism and representative democracy.

Investigators learned that the bump-monkeys were probably first infected with the virus after contact with the salivary secretions of the giant Limbaughian dung swine, which is native to many parts of the country. Both the bump-monkey pox and the Limbaughian dung swine virus are hosted by the GOP-elephantiasis filial worm, which has been reproducing at an alarming rate in the United States in recent years.

Infections seem to be greatest in the red regions shown on this map. While the blue regions seem less susceptible to infestation. At least for now. Good thing too because pandemics similar to bump-monkey pox and Limbaughian dung swine virus have occurred in past years in countries such as Germany, Italy, Venezuela, Spain, Vichy France, Austria, Chile, and elsewhere. Infecting large numbers of the population and resulting in millions of deaths and untold amounts of misery and terror and pain and general all around out of control horror.

Bump-monkey pox is not necessarily transmitted by casual initial contact or short interaction with an infected carrier, but may in some cases display early warning signs of it's presence. Doctors who initially observed early symptoms believed they were facing Limbaughian dung swine fever, which displays many of the same characteristics as bump-monkey pox, but no, they are in fact not exactly the same animals because their avenue of infection is essentially different. This is the bump-monkey pox. And it's a pox on all of our house. Stop the pox.

Both bump-monkey pox and Limbaughian dung swine fever often exhibit the following symptoms:

#1-Christianus Psychosis - Irrational often deranged feelings of conservative Christian persecution. May result in damage to rational thought processes or loss of contact with temporal reality. May result in the removal of children from public schools or a book deal for Trent Lott (R- NeoConfederate States of America).

#2- Clenis(tm) Envy - Hyper agitated obsessive compulsive fascination with the Clenis(tm). A wish by these same infected agents to have a Clenis(tm). This neurosis can range from mildly disturbing feelings of inferiority to full throttle ritualistic Clenis(tm) obsessed behavioral disorders.

#3- Spinning Disease - Characterized by fanciful circular arguments that are often accompanied by bouts of childish taunting and repetitions of nonsensical anecdotal story telling. May result in lightheadedness, dizziness, and projectile vomiting.

#4- Hydraphobia Liberalis - Mental disorder. A quasi religious system of irrational beliefs and delusions characterized by terrifying manufactured fears of liberalism, humanist plots, cabals of tax supported demonic public school system fiends, communist conspiracies, and other mythological beasts and phantasms capable of delivering up all variety of grave horrors and menace designed to thwart the errand of the true believer.

#5- Linguistic Intolerance - An inability to digest foreign languages and French cheese.

#6- Homoflagaphobia - Irrational fear of rip-stop nylon rainbow flags.

#7- Punditestinal Gasbagoenteritis - May include sporadic uncontrollable verbal diarrhea often followed by incontinent bouts of Palter-paludism (see below #8)

#8- Palter-paludism - Feverish bouts of pathological lying including sweaty handwringing and chilly non-responsive catatonic memory blackouts and desperate attempts to evade the truth. Some severe cases may display an inability to differentiate reality from scripted stage-managed fantasy.

#9- Intellectualis Constipare - Inability to go inside public libraries and art museums.

#10- Delusus Fallacia: includes delusions of heroic grandeur and Blood of Kings heritage fantasies often accompanied by a swollen or over inflated sense of entitlement, or, in severe advanced cases, paranoia and a complete loss of contact with reality. (physical side effects may also include: Confederosis Halitosis below #14)

#11- Undescended Testicular Fortitude: Often characterized by a dangerous abuse or misuse of feminism. May result in impotence, sterility, or long months condemned to ice fishing with lonely guy buddies.

#12- Affirmative Refraction - Inverted or bent perceptions of racial realities - historical objects in mirrors may appear smaller than actual size. Characterized by an abnormal production of hysteron proterons in the brain.

#13- Hillaryosis Neurosia - (hustera hillaria) characterized by hysterical, often uncontrollable excessive emotional outbursts, including severe panic attacks at the mere mention of Hillary Clinton.

#14- Confederosis Halitosis - A stale reminder of old bad breath.

#15- Patriotic Paramnesia - A delusion of historical memory in which hyper-nationalistic authoritarian fantasy and objective democratic reality are confused. (also see: Patriotic Correctness)

#16- NRAbies: An infectious viral disease often transmitted by infected batty reactionary card carrying members of the colony. Symptoms may include frothing paranoid ravings, a violent irrational fear of "strangers", (see: hydraphobia liberalis), hallucinations followed by nightmarish visions of fanged foreign invaders or domestic predators absconding with second amendment. Severe cases may result in full blown buggy-eyed insanity and possible quarantine.

#17- The dreaded CAPS-LOCK disease!

There are many more where those come from....but you get the idea.
So, like I said. Lets stop the bump-monkey pox from reaching out and biting our loved ones.
Support a national campaign to immunize the world against the ravages of the bump-monkey pox.

DONATE TODAY! Before the POX is upon us all.


Moral Clarity

Turning to the Taliban for help...

KARACHI - Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the return to the country of a large former Afghan communist refugees, that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart.

Every time somebody starts complaining that the Democrats need a coherent foreign policy I just want to bang my head against the table and ask them just what the coherent Bush foreign policy is.

I admit that the Democrats have lost the rhetorical war, but only because the media lovingly approved of such inanities as "dead or alive" and "you´re with us or you´re against us."

Now that those twin pillars of the Bush doctrine are, as they say, no longer operative, can we have a reasonable discussion again?

Friday, June 13, 2003

Forgive them ....

AP in the Chicago Tribune: Mrs. Clinton: I Feel Sorry for Lewinsky:

Former U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton says she feels sorry for everyone who was caught up in the scandal of her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky -- including Lewinsky herself.

In a British television interview broadcast Friday, Clinton -- now a U.S. Senator for New York -- said she felt sorry for everyone hurt by the "relentless, partisan" 1998 investigation into her husband's relationship with the White House intern.

Asked by broadcaster Trevor McDonald whether that included Lewinsky, Clinton replied, "Absolutely."

Clinton said political forces hostile to her husband had driven the frenzy surrounding the Lewinsky story, which led to President Clinton's impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted by the U.S. Senate.

"There were so many victims, and these people were willing to destroy anyone in order to end my husband's presidency," she said.

"That is a point I tried to make in the book is that this very personal, painful experience for us as a couple and a family was brought to public light not by people who cared about my husband's soul or our marriage," she added. "You know, they were motivated by political malice."

Have it it! You know you want to!

Eleanor Clift weighs in in WMD

In Fall Guy? she writes:

Republican leaders have for now headed off a full-blown investigation into the Bush administration’s prewar claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But unless inspection teams come up with something soon that President George W. Bush can call a smoking gun, a formal inquiry is inevitable.

The stakes are too high to gloss over what got us to this point. Bush created the expectation that large stores of chemical and biological weapons would be found in Iraq and that Saddam had an active nuclear program. Nothing of consequence has yet been uncovered—suggesting either a colossal intelligence failure or the selective use and manipulation of the data that was available to suit the administration’s political aims.

These are serious charges that go to both the administration’s candor and its competence. The only predicate to a policy of preemption is good intelligence, so you know what you’re preempting. If you don’t have that, the new Bush foreign policy has no merit.

Of course, there's a gratuitous slam on the Dems in here, but it looks like the CW is turning rancid for aWol very fast. Maybe the "Mission Accomplished" codpiece-fest on the Abraham Lincoln really was that jumping-the-shark moment we've all been dreaming of.

Then again, can the Thugs truly be so arrogant and incompetent that they haven't put a backup scheme for "discovering" the weapons in place, presumably in a Faux exclusive? Is this any way to run an empire?

Some detail on the Texas Killer D's

Michael King of the Austin Chronicle writes DPS Documents: More Questions About Killer-D Manhunt:

The DPS postings substantiate what DPS officers have said: They were taking orders from Republican officials, who were nowhere near as "hands off" as Craddick and Perry have claimed. Even more alarming are the materials suggesting that other, as yet unidentified, personnel were also involved in the search: According to notes provided to the DPS by Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, a couple of legislators' spouses were apparently followed or watched by plainclothes operatives of whom the DPS claims no knowledge.

Whatever the complete and unredacted story of the state's pursuit of the absent House Democrats, the surviving DPS documents make clear it is yet to be fully revealed.

Hmmm.... Plainclothes operatives....

Lieberman was on this one, right? Hope he doesn't feel the need to be too polite.

Rapture Index down 2 points


I guess this is a good news/bad news type of thing.

Of course, government decision making would never be based around bringing on the Rapture.

I mean, Nancy Reagan had her astrologer, but that was harmless enough, in all conscience. Yes?

Reserves under strain

James Hannah of the AP writes:

Anthony Fish, her husband, is one of 212,560 reservists and guardsmen on active duty, either overseas or for homeland security, according to a Pentagon count released Wednesday.

That's down from a high of 224,528 on April 30. But with no clear exit point for U.S. troops in Iraq, the number of reserves on duty may stay elevated for some time.

While reservists can be activated for up to two years, some relatives back home say deployments this year have already left them struggling financially and emotionally.

Jay Farrar, a former Marine Corps officer and now vice president and military analyst at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the situation reflects the changed nature of the military.

The Guard and Reserves have been needed for specialist functions, such as civil affairs, in recent conflicts dating back to the Balkans, he says.

"It isn't one weekend a month and two weeks a year anymore," Farrar says. "There is no such thing as a 'weekend warrior' anymore in the Guard and Reserve. These people operate so much more as part of an overall security framework."

That means more people putting lives on hold.

Sounds to me like deploying additional force to Korea is going to be hard (military people please correct me).

So, how does aWol plan to take the North Korean nukes out, anyhow? Oh, I know, patient diplomacy.

Good news! aWol actually had more evidence on African uranium!

Of course, it would hardly be possible to have less evidence, eh? Since the original evidence was exposed as a crude forgery?

John J. Lumpkin of the AP writes:

White House Says Bush Had More Evidence Iraq Sought Uranium in Africa

The White House on Friday stood by President Bush's assertion that Iraq has sought uranium in Africa in recent years, saying that his allegation in January was supported by more evidence than a series of letters now known to have been forged.

Additional intelligence pointed to Iraq also seeking uranium in Somalia and possibly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said a senior Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The uranium reportedly sought was in a raw form that would have to undergo a complicated enrichment process before it could be used in a nuclear weapon.

Officials did not specify the sources of any such additional intelligence. Intelligence officials have previously described other evidence of recent Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Africa as fragmentary.

After Bush repeated the British claim in his State of the Union address in January, the United Nations sought U.S. documentation. The purported Iraq-Niger letters were turned over to the United Nations, which found them to be forged.

In retrospect, officials said, it would have been better to have left the uranium claim out of the president's speech, even though the speech was fact-checked by the CIA and other agencies. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the report was not central to the president's case that Iraq had prohibited weapons and programs.

Hmmm... The uranium "would have [had] to undergo a complicated enrichment process"... But I thought the threat was imminent? And what would the Iraqis have processed the uranium with? Those aluminum tubes?

"And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude [sing it!]" -- forgeries, that is. Big Lies. Shifting stories. Spin. Insults to the intelligence of the American people....

UPDATE: The "money quote" from TNR, thanks to alert reader David:

Are we expected to believe that the administration has been sitting on a mountain of evidence suggesting Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from multiple African countries, but that the only piece of evidence it actually ended up citing in public was the one that happened to be bogus? Are we expected to believe that, once Niger story was publicly revealed to be bogus, the administration decided it'd be better to keep sitting on the legitimate evidence that Saddam had been trying to purchase uranium from Africa and, instead, to just let the bogus evidence speak for itself?

Well, Dick, I guess we could share this incredibly incriminating, incredibly damning pile of evidence with the rest of the world. But then that would probably prove the merits of the war beyond a reasonable doubt, and getting help from all those second-rate European armies would be much more trouble than it's worth. Good point, Don. Why don't we just keep that stuff quiet and rest our case with the forged Niger documents...

Are you kidding us? THERE ARE NO OTHER SOURCES. It's about time the administration owned up to it.

Brace yourselves....

And again from Mr Lind:

The U.S. is now moving rapidly to relocate its forces in South Korea well to the south of the DMZ. I suspect the real reason is to move them out of range of North Korean artillery. At present, if we launch airstrikes on North Korea, Pyongyang can respond with a massive, World War I-style artillery bombardment of U.S. ground troops that could kill thousands. The sudden withdrawal of Americans to positions south of the Han river reveals our intention to go after North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities. A possible North Korean riposte: demand Japan expel all American forces or kiss Osaka goodbye.

Seems reasonable. Eh? Think Unka Karl is planning the marketing now, as he did the last time aWol was on vacation? Or maybe it will just be a surprise! (Strategically, this would make more sense. Copenhagen them....)

NOTE: Give me an honest paleo any day over one of these blow-dried, cell-phoned, talking-point-spouting, Self-Identified "Christian" weasels ....

Even the paleos get it!

William Sturgiss Lind of the Free Congress Foundation writes:

It is now evident that Saddam Hussein's possession of vast quantities of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is about as likely as Mars having canals, complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers. Remember, it wasn't just a couple of stink bombs we accused him of possessing. According to data compiled by columnist Nicholas Kristof, the governments of the United States and (once) Great Britain told the world that Saddam had 500 tons of mustard and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum, almost 30,000 banned munitions and the tornado that abducted Dorothy. So far, all we have found is two empty trailers. Presumably, American troops had sufficient time to paint over the "Allied Van Lines" logos.

Since Saddam's WMD were one of the principal stated reasons for this strategically curious war, their absence is something more than a social faux pas. Were the American and British publics, as Pat Buchanan puts it, lied into war? If they were, it would not be the first time. In Britain, the practice goes back at least as far as the 18th century and the War of Jenkin's Ear. Americans were lied into World War I by cartoons of German soldiers bayoneting Belgian babies and into Vietnam by a Tonkin Gulf torpedo boat attack that never happened.

It may be -- though I doubt it -- that our intelligence agencies really believed Saddam had all that stuff. But even if that is what they reported to the decision-makers, the decision-makers should have known better to swallow it. If they did not know that, they are not fit to be making military decisions. They lack the most basic understanding of the nature of military intelligence, a nature no technology can alter (and can easily make worse, by making the errors more convincing).

The upshot is that we went to war and wrecked a country over something that, barring an unlikely revelation, was not true. The American people don't seem to care. Perhaps they expect to be misled by their government, or, more likely, they have just changed the channel.

But the rest of the world does care. The international credibility of American assertions based on military intelligence is now zero. When we make claims about other countries -- as we are now doing about Iran -- not a soul will believe them, even when they happen to be true. At this point, Americans should not believe them either.

These clowns lie to themselves, too, as well as to us. Oh, wait, let's call it faith. "Now faith is the substance
of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"(Heb.11:1). So even though there is no real evidence, that's OK--because aWol has faith, we can have faith, and go to war about unseen things on the basis of hope. Now don't you feel better?

Deja vu all over again

Micheal Gordon in Isvestia does some actual reportage (fancy that!).

The Next War

After American M-1 tanks rolled into Baghdad to depose Saddam Hussein, one of the central military questions was where the United States might fight next. Would American forces continue their march to Syria? Or would the Bush administration step up the military and political pressure on Iran?

Two months after the battle for Baghdad, we now know the answer: the next fight is in Iraq.

For the Americans, this is a campaign of raids, bombing strikes and dragnets, as American commanders try to isolate and destroy remnants of the old regime. It is more like a counterinsurgency than an invasion. The Americans' goal is to keep the pressure on and whittle down their foes until a new Iraqi authority is able to maintain order.

Geography is another factor. Iraq is a larger country and there are many hiding places. American forces are only now venturing west and north of Baghdad in substantial numbers. As the Americans fan out, they will increasingly encounter armed resistance. There is not new resistance. This is old resistance that the American troops here are only now taking on as they extend their reach in Iraq.

This is not a fight that allied commanders expect to settle with a single hammer blow. The American assessment is that much of the resistance is organized. That is clear from the signaling systems that enemy fighters use in towns like Falluja to notify their fighters of the approach of American troops, the leaflets that have been found promising rewards for Iraqis who attack American troops, the ambushes that Iraqi fighters try to set for American troops and the enemy camp in the west. But American officers do not believe that the assaults are controlled by a single enemy commander or organization.

American military commanders, in fact, seem to be trying to prepare the public for a campaign that could be prolonged and in which progress is not at linear as the expeditious march toward Baghdad.

Anyone seen hide or hair of this "new Iraqi authority"? Maybe they're with the WMDs and we'll get a two-fer?

And let's lay this "liberal bias" canard to rest right now. From the decidedly not liberal Joe Galloway at

If winning the war in Iraq was so easy why is securing the peace so difficult? After all, the same 190,000 American and British troops who blasted their way from the Kuwait border to Baghdad in just three weeks are still there.

But since the fall of Baghdad everything that could go wrong has.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld early on dismissed the wild scenes of looting and shooting as the sort of "untidiness" one must expect when a dictator falls and a new day dawns. If it was to be expected, why was there no coherent plan to deal with it?

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan says the 190,000 coalition soldiers he won the three-week war with is nowhere near enough to secure law and order in a nation the size of California with 24 million increasingly angry people.

When Army chief of staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki suggested to Congress last February that securing Iraq after the war might require "several hundred thousand troops," he was instantly slapped down by Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. They have suggested that 100,000 ought to be enough. Clearly it is not.

But if the slide into anarchy isn't halted quickly, no amount of American troops will be able to prevent fundamentalist Shiite Moslem leaders from stepping into the convenient vacuum and crafting an anti-American regime.

"Mission Accomplished" my Aunt Fanny. Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. These clowns don't even know they're lying, it comes so naturally to them!

Stealing the Democrats clothes

By Jonathan Weisman in Pravda:

Ten years after President Bill Clinton first proposed expanding Medicare coverage to include prescription drugs, the lobbying on the issue has fundamentally changed, lobbyists on all sides of the issue say. For 10 years, major pharmaceutical companies stymied drug legislation. Insurance companies often stood in the way, while senior advocates such as AARP simply pleaded with Congress to act.

This time, competing interest groups realize, Congress is serious.

The well-financed, increasingly powerful pharmaceuticals lobby has made perhaps the most dramatic shift in position -- from outright opposition to cautious support. With Republicans in control of the White House, House and Senate, the industry has decided this is the time to lock in the best deal it can get, one GOP pharmaceutical lobbyist said.

Although the prescription drug coverage may prove too skimpy for many seniors, legislation will at least take the pressure off Congress temporarily to impose more draconian price controls, the lobbyist said.

Feed big pharma, get the voters off their backs, put the whole thing on federal plastic because of the tax cut for the rich, and get out of Dodge before the bills come due. Does that sum up Thug policy on this?

aWol steals the Dems clothes on this one, and triangulates against his paleo ("government shouldn't help people") base. It's positively Clintonian! I could come to love aWol, if only I didn't know who--and what--he is.

"Weeks After Bush's Declaration of Victory, U.S. Troops Still Fighting and Dying in Iraq"

Nice headline, AP:

When President Bush declared on May 1 that major combat operations had ended in Iraq, there was little discussion of what he meant. For all practical purposes, it seemed the war was over.

It is not.

Since the president made his statement to waves of applause from sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, 45 American servicemen have died in Iraq. Commanders say there is much more fighting ahead.

Although large parts of Iraq are relatively peaceful and U.S. military control overall is not in doubt, an amalgam of shadowy resistance forces, including unknown numbers of non-Iraqi fighters, are carrying out almost daily hit-and-run attacks against the American occupation forces.

Does "support the troops by bringing them home" still cut it? Now, is it more like "We broke it, we bought it"?

Anyone have any thoughts on this that go beyond invective? For example, what's the way forward for the people of the US that leaves us with (some would say restores) a constitutional form of government? Empires and republics, notoriously, do not play well together.

Robert Kagan Does DaDa

Noted foreign policy surrealist, defender and promotor of the Bush Doctrine, Robert Kagan thinks there's something "surreal about the charges flying that President Bush lied when he claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.".

And he knows whereof he speaks. What could be more surreal than Mr. Kagan's use of the word, "discrepancy" in the following passage:

Yesterday The Post continued the barrage, reporting that Defense Intelligence Agency analysts claimed last September merely that Iraq "probably" possessed "chemical agent in chemical munitions" and "probably" possessed "bulk chemical stockpiles, primarily containing precursors, but that also could consist of some mustard agent and VX," a deadly nerve agent.

This kind of "discrepancy" qualifies as front-page news these days. Why? Not because the Bush administration may have -- repeat, may have -- exaggerated the extent of knowledge about what Hussein had in his WMD arsenal. No, the critics' real aim is to prove that, as a New York Times reporter recently put it, "the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may mean that there never were any in the first place."

Kagan provides us with an impressive list of all the people besides members of the Bush administration who have said Saddam had those WMD - everyone from Jacque Chirac to Al Gore, and BTW, suddenly Hans Blitz's opinion matters, hey, so does Bill Clinton's.

And if you'd like to see a master surrealist doing his dadaistic best to boggle your mind, check out this last paragraph:

So if you like a good conspiracy, this one's a doozy. And the best thing about it is that if all these people are lying, there's only one person who ever told the truth: Saddam Hussein....

Objectively speaking, that is.

Trust Josh Marshall not to let his mind get boggled:

The president's defenders want to frame the argument like this: the president said there was WMD; his critics said there was WMD. If he's wrong, everybody was wrong. If there was a 'plot' to deceive the American people, as Kagan would have it, even the president's critics were in on the plot. So what kind of plot would that be?

This is just a head-fake with an advanced degree and it's deeply dishonest.

Josh reads the head-fake, stops Kagan at the scrimage line and scores something of a rhetorical touchdown himself:

It does Kagan no credit to tar critics as conspiracy theorists or muddy up the water enough so that the debate can't be had.

The fact is that the administration and its advocates are now doing everything they can to run away from a year's worth of arguments about the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein.... conservatives are often fond of saying that 'ideas have consequences.'

Lies do too.

Let's hope.

Consumer confidence slumps, surprising CW


Consumer confidence in the economy fell more than expected in mid-June, according to a Friday report from the University of Michigan.

The consumer-sentiment index fell to 87.2 in mid-June, from 92.1 at the end of May, said market sources with access to the report.

The number missed economists' target for a reading of 93 and was disappointing as many had expected an improvement in consumer confidence now that the war in Iraq is over.

The expectations index was said to have fallen steeply to 84.2 from 91.4 in May, suggesting that a sluggish U.S. economy and stagnating job creation is weighing on consumers.

Maybe most people have figured out that the Thugs tax "relief" doesn't mean diddly (for them).


At the Bill Blass fall showcase in Bergdorf Goodman, Ellen Harris made her biggest wardrobe investment for quite a while, ordering a dress and jackets that together cost several thousand dollars.

But at a Wal-Mart in West Little Rock, Ark., bookkeeper Vanessa Wilson said she was holding back on purchases.

"My husband's job is kind of iffy," the Benton, Ark., resident said. "So I'm not frivolous."

The professional and business service industries lost 900,000 jobs since the end of 2000, but Koropeckyj said that sector has stabilized, and expects to see a modest increase in hiring this year.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector lost 2.5 million workers, and Koropeckyj said, unlike the last downturn, most of those job losses are permanent.

Wal-Mart speculated recently that its consumers were nervous about spending because sales spiked after biweekly paychecks and then slowed between paydays.

And maybe most people have figured out that aWol's "Mission Accomplished" banner was for photo-op purposes only.

As usual, CW thinks the American people are stupid. They aren't.

NOTE: "CW" == "Conventional Wisdom".

CIA declines to take the hit for aWol on "crude forgeries"

Au contraire, Walter Pincus. From Knight-Ridder:

Making his case for war with Iraq, President Bush in his State of the Union address this year accused Saddam Hussein of trying to buy uranium from Africa even though the CIA had warned White House and other officials that the story didn't check out.

A senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 - 10 months before Bush's nationally televised speech - that an agency source who had traveled to Niger couldn't confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country.

Despite the CIA's misgivings, Bush said in his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa."

Three senior administration officials said Vice President Dick Cheney and some officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon ignored the CIA's reservations and argued that the president and others should include the allegation in their case against Saddam.

The claim later turned out to be based on crude forgeries that an African diplomat had sold to Italian intelligence officials.

"And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude" -- forgeries, that is. Big lies. Texas matters of emphasis....

And So It Begins

I´d been waiting for this to happen. Via Big Media Matt I see that the right wing hacks have started on a new meme - if George Bush isn´t elected in ´04 then the terrorists will have won.

Actually, Monsieur Babbin, of the National "All Hillary All The Time" Review isn´t quite making that point, but a somewhat more insidious one - that international terrorists will commit some terrorist act for the sole purpose of stopping the re-election of George Bush. I have to say this is a beautiful bit of propaganda. Congrats, Babbin, you get the Goebbels Gold Star of the Week!

So, when your family gets blown up you should understand that they weren´t really attacking them, just Dear Leader.

Show me the money!

Diana Schemo of the Times writes: House G.O.P. Drafts Bill to Overhaul Head Start

Over the opposition of Democrats, Republican lawmakers drafted legislation today to overhaul Head Start, the national day care program for poor children, ending a 38-year history of bipartisan consensus as old as the program.

Advocates of the current Head Start program complain that the bill's high ambitions are not matched with the money to meet them. The advocates and Democratic lawmakers also contend that they had not seen the bill under discussion until Wednesday evening, not leaving enough time for study and debate.

The bill would also allow religion-based groups that run Head Start programs to consider religion in hiring, exempting them from antidiscrimination clauses in the bill.

The measure, however, would still require all Head Start teachers to have four-year college degrees by 2008.

Amy Wilkins, executive director of the Trust for Early Education, estimates that Head Start would have to increase by $2.2 billion a year to pay its teachers a competitive salary at the higher educational level. But that money is not in the bill.

The Thugs talk the talk. But when it comes time to talk the talk -- that is, to actually appropriate some money -- it's "See you later! We gave already gave the money away in the tax cut for the rich!" True for Afghanistan, true for Homeland Security, and true here. All hat and no cattle.

Lieberman Senate Opponent Gets 37 Years

Oddly enough, one of his campaign issues was the fact that Lieberman had supposedly been "soft" on child molestation.

I guess he knew what he was talking about.

(x-post with Lambert...the dangers of a group blog...)



Though The Newspaper of Record (not!) somehow forgets to mention the party of the Mayor involved in the story. (Hint: they talk about "family values" and "moral clarity" a lot. Bill Bennet, where are you? We need you!

Can we prove the CW wrong?

Today's Note writes:

[W]e don't rule out at all a close presidential election or a Democratic win.

Terry McAuliffe and the other DNC masterminds are working parallel to a growing coalition of "outside" groups to try to be ready for the day when a nominee emerges from the current chaos that is the nomination process.

But on the eve of the party's first (unsanctioned) straw poll, and the virtual eve of the kick-off of the president's fundraising juggernaut, there are likely to be many more days than not in 2003 in which Democrats (inside and outside the presidential campaign staffs) ask themselves:

"When are we going to be organized enough and effective enough to take on the president's weak record and right-wing agenda?" (Not, of course, our characterizations, but, rather, the way most Democrats think about this whole thing, and probably the best energy-builder the Democrats have going for them now.)

Let us be the first (we think) to say: the chances that there will be a true, growing-in-strength Democratic front-runner by the end of the year are very remote.

I have to say, I think Atrios has the right of it. It going to take money.

Rethugs to the right of Otto von Bismarck

Bismarck (Kaiser Wilhem's chancellor) first implemented social insurance.

Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889, designed by Germany's Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. The idea was first put forward, at Bismarck's behest, in 1881 by Germany's Emperor, William the First, in a ground-breaking letter to the German Parliament. William wrote: ". . .those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state."

Coupled with the workers' compensation program established in 1884 and the "sickness" insurance enacted the year before, this gave the Germans a comprehensive system of income security based on social insurance principles. (They would add unemployment insurance in 1927, making their system complete.)

So FDR didn't invent all this stuff. And Kaiser Wilhelm thinks that the government is supposed to help people. Surprise!

I mean, I arleady know the Rethuglicans want to take us back to the 19th century. I just didn't know it was 19th Century Prussia, pre-Bismarck.

Amazon Sales Rankings

Recently released:

The Clinton Wars: #22.
Living History: #2 (not even Hillary can beat Harry).
Anyone Can Grow Up!: #9950.

From the past:
The Hunting of the President:#3197
Uncovering Clinton: #5347.

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: #4,186.
The Way Things Oughta Be: #79,705.

Yet to be Released:

Big Lies: #1,947.
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: #240.

aWol on vacation

AP's Scott Lindlaw writes:

It won't all be rest and relaxation. Bush gets regular daily briefings on pressing matters whenever he spends his time away from the White House. This weekend, salvaging Mideast peace looms large. But Bush ignored a reporter's question about that.

Maybe the constant sycophantic applause has damaged aWol's hearing.

And why do I get this uneasy feeling when I hear that aWol's on vacation but getting briefings?

You Go Girl!

Jebbie gets a good spanking from a high school girl in Florida.

I think I´m in love.


Today in Pravda, Howie Kurtz basically quotes all of Dick Morris´s little screed about Hillary and his claims that Bill Clinton beat him up. He then links to Joe Conason´s column in Salon, stating that he "challenges Morris´s account," without quoting any of it.

Conason doesn´t challenge Morris´s account - what he does is point out the fact that Morris HIMSELF is contradicting his previous stories.

Email Kurtz at and ask him why in a column from a media critic it´s more important to display in full accusations of Clinton´s violence than the fact that the accuser himself has contradicted those claims in the past

Lucky duckies

From Canada's (right wing, by Canadian standards) National Post:

The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits hit a 20-year high last week, again pointing to a jobless economic recovery and a likely cut in interest rates later this month.

Although new claims dropped by 17,000 to 430,000 last week, the number continuing to collect state unemployment cheques hit 3.8 million, up from 3.68 million during the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department said yesterday.

"The bottom line is that the much anticipated post-war bounce in spending remains elusive and we will have to wait to see how the coming wave of tax relief and mortgage refinancing will influence the consumer in the third quarter," said David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York.

Oh well....

Pelosi stands up

[Nancy Pelosi,] a top congressional Democrat slammed as "totally inadequate" a decision by Republican lawmakers to hold closed door hearings on the quality and accuracy of intelligence reports used to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq.

"If you want the public to have ... confidence in our intelligence, then there will have to be a fuller, more open" probe.

More than eight weeks after the ouster of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the US military has yet to find Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, which the White House gave as its primary motivation for invading Iraq.

And stand up tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And the next. All the way to 2004.

Providing for the common defense?

EJ Dionne writes in WaPo:

"When the orange alert goes on, it rings at City Hall, not at the State House and not at the White House," says Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the outgoing president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

The conference estimates that when Washington raises the threat level to Code Orange, it costs the nation's localities $70 million per week. Menino figures that in Boston alone, Code Orange costs about $100,000 per day. "We have to put police on alert," Menino said in an interview. "We have to put fire on alert. We need more EMTs. People go on overtime. We have to staff emergency centers. All that is coming out of your operating budget."

"The most fundamental reason we have a federal government is to provide for the common defense," said Mayor Martin O'Malley of Baltimore, chairman of the conference's homeland-security task force. Yet the common defense against international terror has become a local burden. "When we're threatened by foreign attack," he said in an interview, the cities provide "the front-line troops."

It's easy to be cynical about money battles among levels of government. But there is something amiss when the cost of providing homeland security requires mayors to move police away from their normal crime-fighting duties. And it's troubling that the financial burdens may force these mayors to lay off some among the very cops and firefighters who are carrying the domestic burden of the battle. As O'Malley says, financing the struggle against international terror "off firehouse bingo proceeds and the local property tax" seems a strange choice for the world's only superpower.

Can the Republicans handle money? Inquiring minds want to know.

Secret arrests

From an editorial in the LA Times:

The abuses against the immigrant detainees who were rounded up after Sept. 11 have been amply detailed in a report released by the Justice Department's inspector general.

But the ultimate abuse, in our opinion, was the shroud of secrecy ordered by Atty. Gen. John D. Ashcroft over the entire process.

On Sept. 20, 2001, he directed the department's chief immigration judge to keep secret all information about the detainees. As a result, the government refused to disclose the names of those arrested and then closed their hearings to the public. This made any outside review of the Justice Department's actions virtually impossible; the department was not accountable to anyone outside the government until the inspector general's report was released this month.

And the report is only the tip of the iceberg. The inspector general examined the cases of only 119 out of the 762 aliens detained.

And it is clear from the Justice Department's "no apologies" response to the inspector general's report that it is not taking seriously the findings or recommendations.

Congress should demand that the Justice Department release the names of the detainees, and it should act to prohibit secret arrests and secret hearings in the future.

Unfortunately, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, members never even addressed the secrecy of the arrests.

So this is going to keep happening, right?

Move On

Move On is currently conducting their own "presidential primary" with their members. The idea is to poll them all, and then the candidate that wins will get Move On´s endorsement and considerable fundraising backing.

Give Give Give!

Okay, we´re off to a good start here. We´re up to $740 in donations! Go give more! If Kos gets more than me then God has promised to strike me down!

Poor Margaret Carlson

Bob Somerby dispatches her with ease.

Dick Morris Lies

I look forward to his being drummed out of the media for contradicting his own statements. He was full of it then, or full of it now - either way he is a liar. And, as David Brock knows - once you are caught lying you are shunned by the entire news media. Email Howard Kurtz at and ask him why he doesn´t comment on Morris´ prevarications.

Ezrak has more. As does Tbogg.

And we let aWol take the controls of a plane?

Fun pictures of aWol and the Segway here:

U.S. President George W. Bush is pictured in this combo image falling off a Segway personal transporter on the front driveway of his parents' summer home ...

Somehow managed to delete the earlier posts on this from blogger. Here it is again!

Krugman on Delay

The man who keeps Times readers from complete despair at the state of journalism writes:

The really important stories about Mr. DeLay, a central figure in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, involve his continuing drive to give his party a permanent lock on power.

Consider the case of Westar Energy, whose chief executive was indicted for fraud. The subsequent investigation turned up e-mail in which executives described being solicited by Republican politicians for donations to groups linked to Mr. DeLay, in return for a legislative "seat at the table." The provision Westar wanted was duly inserted into an energy bill. (Republican leaders deny that there was any quid pro quo.)

There's every reason to believe that the Westar case is unusual only in the fact that the transaction came to light. Under Mr. DeLay's leadership, Republicans have established a huge fund-raising advantage, based not just on promises — special interests have always been able to buy favorable policies, but never so brazenly — but also on threats. Mr. DeLay pioneered the "K Street strategy," which — in a radical break with tradition — punishes lobbying firms that try to maintain good relations with both parties.

A telling anecdote: When an employee tried to stop Mr. DeLay from smoking a cigar on government property, the majority leader shouted, "I am the federal government." Not quite, not yet, but he's getting there.

So what will Mr. DeLay and his associates do with their lock on power, once it is firmly established? They will push through a radical right-wing agenda.

There's no point in getting mad at Mr. DeLay and his clique: they are what they are. I do, however, get angry at moderates, liberals and traditional conservatives who avert their eyes, pretending that current disputes are just politics as usual. They aren't — what we're looking at here is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country. Yet it's considered uncool to point that out.

Many of those who minimize the threat the radical right now poses to America as we know it would hate to live in the country Mr. DeLay wants to create. Yet by playing down the seriousness of the challenge, they help bring his vision closer to reality.

In other words: "You ain't seen nothin' yet." Gutless Beltway Dems...

Depending on student loans?

Greg Winter of the Times writes that Change in Aid Formula Shifts More Costs to Students:

Millions of college students will have to shoulder more of the cost of their education under federal rules imposed late last month through a bureaucratic adjustment requiring neither Congressional approval nor public comment of any kind.
The changes, only a slight alteration in the formula governing financial aid, are expected to diminish the government's contribution to higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars, starting in the fall of 2004.

And because state and local governments are making up for aWol's shortfalls on homeland security, unfunded mandates on education, and tax giveaways to the rich, student loans are shrinking.

Whether furnished by colleges, states or the federal government, the vast majority of the nation's $90 billion in financial aid is dictated by a single, intricate equation known as the federal need analysis. Its purpose is to decipher how much of a family's income is truly discretionary and therefore fair game for covering college expenses.

Much like the federal income tax, the formula allows families to deduct some of what they pay in state and local taxes. But, this year, the department significantly reduced that amount, in some cases cutting it in half. On paper, at least, that leaves families with more money left over to pay for college, even though state and local taxes have gone up over the last year, not down.

And so much for your Pell grant.

the changes should shave off a few hundred million dollars in grants to low-income students, known as the Pell Grant. With the faltering economy and the swelling popularity of college, the program has surpassed $11 billion a year. The new formula should constrain some of that growth, the department says, though it maintains that was never the intent of recalibrating it.

Don't you love those "bureaucratic adjustments"?

China and oil

Interesting read from alert commenter antiphone.

Let's not go to war with China just yet, OK, aWol? After you gut Social Security, I'm going to have to do all my shopping at the dollar stores in my old age, and everything there is Made In China.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Learn a little, laugh a little

Andrea Stone of USA Today writes that Hillary Clinton's poll rating rises. Her royalties are rising too.

Whether people believe the book's author or not, they've been snatching up the memoir since it came out Monday. Publisher Simon & Schuster estimated first-day retail sales at 200,000. Tuesday's sales continued at record-breaking levels. The publisher has ordered 300,000 more copies to supplement the initial run of 1 million.

Clinton's TV appearances also have been popular. About 13.5 million people watched Barbara Walters' TV interview with Clinton, the most-watched show Sunday night.

''The response has been very gratifying,'' Clinton said. ''If people learn a little from this book, laugh a little, and can apply anything that I say to their own lives, then that will be the real success.''

Go on, wingers, have at it. You know you want to!

Whatever happened to the 9/11 commission?

The one that aWol tried to have Kissinger chair?

Here's the site of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.

Has anything at all been going on over there? Here's the media contact:

Al Felzenberg
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
Telephone: 202-331-4062
Cellular: 202-236-4878
Fax: 202-296-5455

Maybe Al would know...

Whatever happened to Republican activist Katrina Leung?

The latest I can find here: Secure rooms to be built for Leung trial

A government architect, prosecutors and a U.S. marshal reported to a judge Thursday on plans to construct two secure rooms in the federal courthouse for use of classified documents in the trial of a retired FBI agent and his alleged lover, who is accused of taking FBI documents while working as a China contact. ...

The defendants, James J. Smith, 59, and his intelligence "asset,' Katrina Leung, 49, of San Marino, are alleged to have mishandled classified documents during their 20-year relationship

By now, of course, the "Republican Activist" part of the story has been carefully airbrushed away by the SCLM. Move along, people! No story here, at least not as long as the room is secure. But still:

Leung, who is married and has a teenaged son, is well connected in Los Angeles Republican circles. She hosted a fund-raiser at her home for Richard Riordan's short-lived gubernatorial campaign, eventually transferring her support to Republican candidate Billl Simon after Riordan withdrew. Rep. David Dreier named her as a delegate to the California Republican Party convention in February.

(The Republicans, naturlich, have successfully suppressed any Congressional inquiry.)


Via the Note, this.

Many [Democratic] party leaders fear the president may be immune to accusations that his rhetoric falls short of the facts, and not just on Iraq, but on education, tax cuts, trade, the environment, homeland security and other policies.

The way to get the word out is to get the word out. But how?

No child left behind (except for the poor ones, that is)

House leaves low-income families out of this year's child tax rebates.


As Maine Goes....

Glenn Adams of the AP writes: Maine Moves Closer to Universal Health Program; Final OK Could Come This Week

Maine lawmakers moved closer to enacting one of the nation's most far-reaching health insurance plans Thursday, burnishing the state's reputation as a pioneer in expanding access to medical care.

Both the state House and Senate gave the bill preliminary approval.

Final approval could come by Friday, and first-year Democratic Gov. John Baldacci has already endorsed the plan, which would create a quasi-public agency to help people secure medical coverage through private insurers.

"This is the only state in the country that has a clear plan, funded to provide universal health care in five years," state Sen. Michael Brennan said.

"Maine is way out front on this stuff," agreed Arthur Levin, director of the New York-based Center for Medical Consumers. "In the absence of the feds not moving in the right direction, it falls to the states to pick up the pieces."

Under the Dirigo Health plan, all 180,000 people in Maine who cannot otherwise afford coverage would have access to it by the year 2009. Dirigo, the state motto, is Latin for "I lead."

Listening, Democrats?