Saturday, July 05, 2003

Internet as organizing tool

J.P. Gownder of WaPo writes:

But had helped Dean reach new constituencies, such as African Americans, other ethnic communities, working class people, non-liberals? Not based on what I saw. Without the Internet, it was likely that Dean would find support among affluent, white, liberal professionals. With the Internet, he attracted affluent, white, liberal professionals who spent a lot of time online. was just a continuation of politics by other means.

But the Internet can't become a substitute for the gritty, difficult work of true grass-roots campaigning in diverse ethnic and socio-economic communities. As it stands, Meetup mostly preaches to the choir. And the quasi-religious New Economy hoopla I heard at the meetings shifts the focus away from the candidate and onto his organization. As a postmodernist would say, with Meetup the virtual becomes more real than the real. So while campaign staffers and political pundits relish Dean's considerable lead over his rivals in membership, there's no guarantee of real-world electoral success.

This accords with my experience at MeetUp. I think it's a problem. Thoughts?

Can We Talk?

Amongst ourselves? About what is acceptable in the way of political rhetoric? Without getting verklempt?

Not if any of those guys at Spinsanity are listening, or we'd better be damn careful. And absolutely clear in how we phrase our ideas.

For instance, are we on the left being unfair to the Bush enviornmental policies?

Ben Fritz at Spinsanity thinks so, and chastizes Howard Dean, in particular, for "repeating a deceptive tale about the Bush administration over and over on the campaign trail.

In speeches and in interviews, Dean frequently implies that a Bush administration environmental policy called "Clear Skies" would actually lead to increases in pollution from current levels. "This country's in a lot of trouble," he said last week on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It's in trouble because we have a radical right administration that are dismantling the New Deal and it is not telling the truth about a lot of things that they say. The Clear Skies Initiative ... basically allows you to put more pollution into the air."

What's Spinsanity's complaint? Mr. Fritz admits that environmental groups have made the point that the Clear Skies Initiative may diminish the level to which dangerous emissions would otherwise be reduced, if current policies and trends were left just as they are. And apparently, nothing less than that kind of nuanced explanation is acceptable political rhetoric.

While some environmental activists are upset about "Clear Skies," it's not because the plan would actually lead to increases in pollution beyond current levels

Okay, let's grant that Dean could have been clearer in what he was saying, but also please note that he was making a larger point about the administration's purposes, not participating in a detailed discussion of environmental policy. This was MTP and Tim Russert, for heaven's sake.

Ben claims Dean makes a similiar statement in his speech officially announcing his candidacy. Here's the only reference I could find that might fit Ben's description.

Our leaders have developed a vocabulary which has become meaningless to the American people.

There is no greater example of this than a self-described conservative Republican president who creates the greatest deficits in history of America. Or a President who boasts of a Clear Skies Initiative which allows far more pollution into our air. Or a President who co-opts from an advocacy organization the phrase "No Child Left Behind," while paying for irresponsible tax cuts by cutting children's health care.

Sorry Ben, but what's the problem with this statement again? Where's the implication that the "increase in pollution" is above current levels.

Maybe if it had just been Governor Dean, Ben might not have made a fuss. But he thinks he's spotted a worrying trend.

Unfortunately, the former Vermont governor is not the only one to spread this canard. The liberal journal accused Bush of implementing "a 'Clear Skies' plan that leads to more pollution" in one of its "op-ads" that ran in major newspapers.

The "op-ad" in question was a companion piece to the "Misled" commercial. It's basic point is that Bush/Rove have a habit of producing variations on popular programs that often do the opposite of what their catchy titles imply. Here's what I presume is the offending graph:

And it’s been showing cracks from the strain between the rhetoric and the reality of Mr. Bush’s policies: endorsing Medicare while trying to undermine it; a "Clear Skies" plan that leads to more pollution; promising to "leave no child behind" but underfunding his own education plan; and Robin-Hood-in-reverse tax policies masked as "compassionate conservatism."

Well, excuuuuuussssse us, but the Clear Skies initiative will lead to more pollution by any number of criteria.

Bush global warming plan will allow more pollution

President Bush’s global warming plans will allow more greenhouse gas pollution to occur at a faster rate than if the nation maintained the pollution trends of the past five years, a new study has found

Analysis by the National Wildlife Federation, of data released by the US Department of Energy (DoE), shows that over the last five years carbon dioxide emissions have gone up by 4.9% despite Bush saying he wanted to, “set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions.”

This increase is set to continue to 10% over the next ten years, if current trends continue.


The pollution increases we have seen for the past five years are bad enough for the environment, but the White House’s global warming plan would allow more pollution to occur at an even faster rate,” said Jeremy Symons, climate change and wildlife manager for the National Wildlife Federation.


The report comes in the same week that it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withheld key findings of its analysis of Bush’s Clear Skies initiative for power plant emissions.

The Clear Skies initiative is designed to reduce emissions from power plants over the next twenty years, yet does not address carbon dioxide – largely considered one of the most important greenhouse gases.

The EPA found that a separate senate plan to combat air pollution would be more effective in reducing harmful pollutants, if marginally more expensive. Crucially, the senate proposal has a carbon dioxide reduction plan that can be carried out at ‘negligible’ cost to industry.

Environmentalists have described the Clear Skies bill as a dilution of current EPA air pollution requirements and criticised the EPA for not releasing their full results.

I guess it depends on what your definition of "current levels" is.

This is nitpicking on an epic scale.

Spinsanity does useful, sometimes excellent work, and I don't only mean when they're taking it to rightwingers. I'm willing for my side to take its lumps when it's deserved. But something else is going on here besides non-partisanship.

Understand, I'm not accusing anyone of bad faith. I am accusing Spinsanity of seeing all political rhetoric through the distorting lens of conventional wisdom about what is or isn't "spin."

They are not alone in this. The mainstream media treats all campaign rhetoric as an enemy of truth. That attitude, along with a perceived need to appear even-handed and balanced produces a cynical attitude towards the political process, if not governance itself. Not good in a democratic society.

To be continued: Next: a historical example

Even Their Fig Leafs Need Fig Leafs

That's what the "Clear Skies Initiative" was in the first place, wasn't it? A way of packaging the naked truth about this administration's faith based certainty that "ennvironmental extremists" were ruining the country with their insistence that extractive energy companies shouldn't be the ones setting environmental policy for the country.

So Rove & co came up with a Repubican initiative dedicated to a future of clear skies for us, and clear sailing for a Bush reelection, and a general all round triumph of Republican values.

Damn, if those environmental extremists, from the Sierra Club to the Atlantic Salmon Federationweren't all over their proposals, tearing apart the details; it's the focus on details that makes the environmental movement so extreme.

But most Americans are still worried about the air they breathe, and they're beginning to worry about global warming, so...back it was to the drawing board for the Bush administration.

EPA Issues Rosier 'Clear Skies' Analysis, Based on New Model
Agency Denies Hiding Data on Rival Bill

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new, optimistic assessment of the benefits of President Bush's anti-air-pollution bill yesterday and disputed claims that it had intentionally hidden data showing that a competing Senate plan would provide greater long-term public health benefits at only a slightly higher cost.

Here's what those claims EPA is disputing are all about:

EPA Withholds Air Pollution Analysis
Tuesday, July 1, 2003; Page A03


The Clear Skies proposal is designed to reduce power plant emissions over the next 20 years. A centerpiece of Bush's environmental policy, its passage could burnish his 2004 reelection credentials. But the president's plan does not address carbon dioxide emissions, which many scientists consider an important greenhouse gas that may contribute to the Earth's warming.

Bush's stand has drawn sharp criticism on several fronts, and a bipartisan group of senators has proposed an alternative bill that would limit carbon dioxide emissions. Unreleased information from an EPA internal analysis concludes that the competing bill would provide health benefits substantially superior to those envisioned under Clear Skies.

The administration does have it's supporters, none of whom could be characterized as "extremists."

Utilities push Clear Skies Act

WASHINGTON - The electric power industry is lining up "grassroots" support among its employees, retirees and stockholders for President Bush's beleaguered Clear Skies air pollution bill.

The bill would change the Clean Air Act, creating a new way of policing air pollution from power plants. In place of mandatory pollution controls, it would create a national "cap and trade" system in which utilities could buy and sell pollution allowances and choose their own technology for reducing pollution.

Nothing extreme about good old-fashioned self-interest; where would this country be without it?

Frank O'Donnell clears up what's so muddy, environmentally speaking, and yet so transparent politically, about Karl Rove's version of clear skies here.

Feel Better About Your Country

courtesy of Jeanne d'Arc:

Julia knows how to do it. If you missed this, Enjoy

Statistics Of War: Some Suggestions

Courtesy of the comments to Atrios' post "Stop It." (read them if you haven't yet)

Steve Gilliard reminds us that even "killed in combat" is traditionally narrowly defined by the military as a death caused directly by enemy actions.

Michael (in DC) rejects the distinction, and reminds us "they're dying in service to their country and to the bush junta. Most troop deaths don't happen in "battle," that's been true throughout the history of warfare & it's no less true now."

NTodd points us to the folks (elvis56 among them) at Lunaville who are paying special attention to this subject. And keeping count here. You'll also find there a link to The Onion's brilliant take on the Pres's "bring them on."

steve laudig contributes additional casuality tracking links here, here, and here.

I'm overloading you with all this information because Demetrios makes the excellent point that this is a perfect subject for "letters to the Editor."

The letters can challenge the use of such confusing and misleading statistics without editorial comment as to what's being counted, if that's what you local paper is doing.

Or the letters can call attention to the use of the "low" death rate often quoted by people like Byron York (see July 4th PBS NewsHour), which, like "security grandmother" I wondered about when I heard him dismiss the postwar death rate as an historic low. There's also the issue of what kinds of wounds our military personnel are suffering.

An email to the NewsHour might be a good idea, too, asking that Mr. York's statistic be clarified.

If you need something to inspire your letter, check out this article from Maine (courtesy of NTodd). And there's more good stuff in that comments thread.

Clueless in Arabic

From The Command Post:

U.S. authorities discovered that the acronym of the reconstituted Iraqi army, the New Iraqi Corps, is an Arabic slang word for fornication. The name has been changed to the New Iraqi Army.

Oh well, at least we caught this problem in time... The Ayatollahs we're going to need to run Iraq for us wouldn't have liked that one bit.

No hard intelligence on WMDs before Iraqi war

Walter Pincus in WaPo:

U.S. intelligence analysts lacked new, hard information about Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons after United Nations inspectors left Iraq in 1998, and so had to rely on data from the early and mid-1990s when they concluded in months leading up to the war that those programs continued into 2003, according to preliminary findings of a CIA internal review panel.

On another controversial Iraq intelligence issue, the preliminary report indicates that although al Qaeda and Hussein had a common enemy in the United States, and there were some ties among individuals in the two camps, "it was not at all clear there was any coordination or joint activities," said one individual inside the CIA who is familiar with the report

Five year old data?!

Let's ask "What would Saddam do?"

So you're Saddam, and despite the shell game, the sanctions have worked. You've had to bury the centrifuge part that you've got under a rosebush. What would you do? Would you say (a) "I'm powerless" by showing that you have no WMDs? Or would you say (b) "I could be powerful" by continuing to play the shell game, even with no WMDs?

Just guessing, it seems to me the choice was (b). That would explain two things: why the WMDs are so hard to "find," and why (despite Saddam's evil nature) there was no use of them in the war.

It would also explain a third thing: aWol's maladministration had no hard evidence from normal channels, so they went with what they could get. Anything they could get. From anywhere they could get it. In fact, they lied..

Bush lies, people die.

Yellow dog Democrat


Ann MacKinnon, a part-time postal worker from Lee, N.H., also disagreed with Kerry's vote on the war but is leaning his way nonetheless. "I'm in a pragmatic mood," she said. "I think he can beat Bush, which is what I want."

What she said.

The coveted Rove endorsement


Privatization farce

Or tragedy. AP:

Law enforcement officials are investigating why an escape from a privately run county jail went unreported until one of the four fugitives, injured jumping from the jail roof, showed up at a hospital a few hours later.

Two of the inmates, including one charged with murder, were still on the run Saturday morning.

''We in law enforcement are totally disgusted, and it's disheartening,'' said McKinley County Sheriff's Deputy Ron Williams.

''There obviously was human error,'' said jail warden Cody Graham, who runs the facility for Management Training Corp., a private jail operator under contract with McKinley County.

Has anyone ever reflected on the craziness of a creating a system that has an incentive to build more prisons for profit, and then an incentive to run them as cheaply as possible?

Trial balloon on Iraqi ayatollah

Yep, maybe we can use the moderate Shiites as a shovel to dig ourselves out of a jam. Patrick Tyler of the Times writes:

Mr. Wolfowitz asserts that he was not among the Shiite bashers, and is not now. Given his remarks, it is hard to imagine that the Bush administration has not considered that an ayatollah might be Iraq's first postwar leader.

Last month, Grand Ayatollah Sistani sent a private message to L. Paul Bremer III, the American occupation administrator, admonishing him that he was making mistakes in how he was treating Shiites, especially in Najaf where the American-appointed governor was accused of running a corrupt and unjust administration. It appears that Mr. Bremer got the message. The governor was arrested last week. But Mr. Bremer also blocked Najaf's attempt to vote the alleged scoundrel out of office, arguing that elections are premature.

Premature for whom, some Iraqis ask. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has issued a fatwa, or religious decree, against allowing Mr. Bremer to appoint the Iraqis who will draft a new constitution. Rather, the cleric urged Iraqis to demand general elections to select the constitution's framers. Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress leader and a secular Shiite contender to lead Iraq, went to see the grand ayatollah last week and seemed to endorse the election plan.

Mr. Bremer has resisted on grounds that Iraq won't be ready for elections until it has had a census and an electoral law. But dissent is growing, and is only a symptom of the unease between the occupation authority and the Shiites.

The question for President Bush is whether he could ever accept an ayatollah as an ally. He may have to and, in any case, it will be up to the Iraqis.

Well, it was going to come to this sooner or later, wasn't it? Facts on the ground...

Stop It!

Reading through google news I´m getting increasingly angry. If the Pentagon wants to try and minimize the number of casualties reported by the press by labelling everything a traffic accident, fine. But, increasingly our media has stopped bothering to even report the distinction - there are too many articles reporting that only 20something US troops have been killed in Iraq since May 1, without clarifying that this is only the killed-in-combat number. The total number is triple that.

US v. Turkey

We´ve detained a bunch of Turkish special forces.

What happens when two NATO countries go at it? So confusing...


As I´ve said before, I really try hard not to emphasize every single negative aspect of this ridiculous war we´ve gotten ourselves into. But, at least from where I´m sitting right now (admittedly away from US TV news), there´s been very little attention paid to the families of the soldiers who are suffering the consequences of this disgusting situation.

Via Tom Spencer I see this article in the NYT which touches on this issue. This paragraph, which Tom highlights, jumps out in particular:

"When my husband first deployed, the people at work were so sweet, giving me days off, saying take whatever time I need," recalled Ms. Franklin, who answers telephones at a financial institution near the fort. "But it's not like that today. Now they look at me kind of funny and say: `Why do you need a day off now? Isn't the war over?' "

This reminded me of some passages in Christian Bauman´s excellent novel The Ice Beneath You. It´s much less of a "war novel" than one might think from the marketing, but some of the pivotal events take place in Somalia during a time when most Americans were unaware that we even had troops there. I imagine there´s something about being in a hell hole with your friends getting killed and wondering why it doesn´t even make the evening news.

In the runup to the war the media didn´t hesitate to bring the cameras to the bases to capture the brave-if-tearful goodbyes as our soldiers went off to Iraq. Now some of those same families have been damaged or destroyed, with parents killed or maimed. And, that doesn´t include the unimaginable (by me) psychological trauma these soldiers are experiencing or any possible "Gulf War II Syndrome" health effects.

As this Army Times editorial (which had previously disappeared, but has now returned) makes clear, the Bush administration cares nothing for what happens to these men and women once, Jeebus-willing, they make it home.

For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

Then there’s military tax relief — or the lack thereof. As Bush and Republican leaders in Congress preach the mantra of tax cuts, they can’t seem to find time to make progress on minor tax provisions that would be a boon to military homeowners, reservists who travel long distances for training and parents deployed to combat zones, among others.

If we really had a liberal media we´d be hearing far more about the families of fallen and maimed soldiers than we do about Scott Peterson or whatever it is Larry King is talking about these days. If we really had compassionate conservatives we´d be hearing more about where to donate money to help out military families having financial hardships (and, if anyone knows of any reputable charities with low marketing overheads that deal with this kind of thing let me know). With summer here and school out one wonders how many temporarily one-parent full time military and reservists´ families are managing to pay the bills and handle child care duties (I´m sure Mickey Kaus can explain it). Extended family isn´t much of an option for military families who frequently move.

Anyway, I could rant about this more but it´s depressing me.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Microsoft ...

Who'd a thunk it? Convicted monopolist Microsoft just can't seem to reform itself. Kristi Heim of the San Jose Mercury News writes:

Microsoft has delayed proper licensing of data that allows its software to operate with other programs and devices, raising ``numerous concerns'' about its compliance with a government antitrust settlement, according to a report released Friday.

The Justice Department and 16 states, including California, said Thursday that a court order may be needed for Microsoft to lower the rates it charges other companies for the data.

Microsoft's failure to implement appropriate licensing terms on time is a serious worry, they said, because it could make the core of the settlement ``prematurely obsolete.'' The licensing provision was intended to be the ``most forward-looking provision'' in the settlement, directed toward ``unfettering the market and restoring competition.''

Microsoft thinks they can act with impunity. But why would they think otherwise? In the corporatist state that Bush and his gang are creating, allowing corporations to act with impunity is exactly the point!

UPDATE: Plus, they're going offshore.

The "G"IA program

Hiawatha Bray of the Glob writes:

Annoyed by the prospect of a massive new federal surveillance system, two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are celebrating the Fourth of July with a new Internet service that will let citizens create dossiers on government officials.

The system will start by offering standard background information on politicians, but then go one bold step further, by asking Internet users to submit their own intelligence reports on government officials -- reports that will be published with no effort to verify their accuracy.

"It's sort of a citizen's intelligence agency," said Chris Csikszentmihalyi, assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab.

He and graduate student Ryan McKinley created the Government Information Awareness (GIA) project as a response to the US government's Total Information Awareness program (TIA).

Check it out!

Can't work out how submit information, though (like aWol's Texas Air National Guard record. Anyone?

Flag sales decline

Ross Kerber of the Glob writes:
For retailers, not even the stars and stripes are forever. After providing a burst of revenue last year, sales of American flags, USA-themed picnic supplies, clothing, and other patriotic paraphernalia have lagged this Fourth of July season, as controversy over the US war with Iraq and fading passions over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have cooled consumers' ardor for the red, white, and blue.

It's quite a comedown for merchants still using the colors of Old Glory to move everything from flip-flops to SpongeBob T-shirts. Some report adequate sales of star-spangled items, but well below 2002's record-breaking levels. Other explanations range from a weak economy to a rainy June that cut demand for paper plates.

What a shame! The hucksters and shills are finding Old Glory isn't a draw....

Or maybe people are starting to figure out that waving the flag is one thing, and patriotism is another?

Presidential "Press Conference"

With not one single question. Shameless.

UPDATE: I just checked the URL again to see if aWol's monologue was still billed as a press conference. It was. Seeing all the "(applause)" in the text, I was reminded of this oldie-but-goodie:

The White House asked if President Bush could address the European Parliament, Baroness Williams revealed on BBC One's This Week show on Thursday. But, she said, Euro-MPs were told there was a condition attached to him making the speech: a standing ovation should be guaranteed. The speech has never taken place.

This guy really does live in a bubble, doesn't he? Nothing but applause...

MWdom at its finest

Will Lester of AP writes, after checking out his kneepads:

The day was a nonstop birthday celebration, as the former pilot from the Texas Air National Guard visited this Air Force base to commemorate the 100th anniversary of powered flight.

"Former" covers (up) a multitude of sins. Here is the story. Bush was:

Suspended and grounded from flying duty on verbal order of the TX 147th Group's Commanding Officer for "his failure to accomplish annual medical examination"

after mandatory drug testing had been instituted.

Among much else! See the whole disgraceful time-line of aWol's "service" in the Texas Air National Guard..

Completely shameless!

That wasn't the Constitution itself collapsing?


PHILADELPHIA — What was to have been a spectacular opening of the National Constitution Center was marred Friday when a huge wood and steel frame collapsed on the stage, injuring several people and narrowly missing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"We could have all been hit, bumped," O'Connor said into a microphone.

We were, Sandra. We were. In Florida 2000....


Schwarzenegger Promotes Film in Iraq. And promoting with quotes like these:

"It is disastrous financially [in Iraq] and there is the leadership vacuum, pretty much like in California right now."


The Constitution, Corporatism, and "Loot, Repeat"

For July Fourth

The Constitution made us, as Americans, who we are. The Bush administration has been quietly revising it:
We the people rulers of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general corporate welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to profits for ourselves and our posterity associates, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Satire? I wish. Establish justice? The Patriot Act. Provide for the common defense? Our ports, airways, and reservoirs, power plants, and mass transit are little more secure now than they were before 9/11. And how is the Iraqi war the common defense when it's never been shown that it will make one single American safer? Domestic tranquility? Sure, through Clear Channel and the suppression of dissent. Promote the general welfare? I'd laugh, if I weren't banging my head on the table...

But forget about the easy shots. Let's follow the money. Trying to figure out what the Republicans are really up to (to model their behavior) I think there are two essential notions:
  1. Corporatism
  2. Loot, Repeat

For Corporatism, here again is the relevant clause as revised by Bush:
Promote corporate welfare, and secure the blessings of profits for ourselves and our associates.
Corporatism is what Bush does, as opposed to what he says. Does this seem about right for the Republican's long-term, strategic goal?

Republicans use Loot, Repeat tactics, as analyzed by Nicholas Confessore (go read!) in service of Corporatism. Here are the steps:

(1) Target: Pick an existing government revenue stream
(2) Transmit memes: Focus on the Mighty Wurlitzer on the target
(3) Privatize: Write the legislation "privatizing" the revenue stream
(4) Loot: Steer the privatized service to a wired (Republican) firm, and
(5) Repeat: Take a payoff from the wired firm, as campaign contributions or otherwise. With the payoff money, return to step (1) and pick new targets.

Some Republican factions -- wingers, self-identified Christians, militia types -- are useful primarily in the targeting, meme transmission, and legislative phases, and as thugs. They are, as the Trots would say, "useful idiots." Bush, DéLay, Frist, and our own Rick Santorum are fully implicated in all the steps to Corporatism. IOW, it really is all about the money.

Loot, Repeat is not a conspiracy theory -- it's something very familiar: A political machine. If anything, it's good old-fashioned party building, just as the Democrats used to be able to do.

Loot, Repeat is parasitic. Nothing of value is created; it is only possible for the Republicans to plan to loot Social Security because FDR created the New Deal. Loot, Repeat diverts existing revenue, and delivers less value to citizens for a higher price (see Paul Krugman for how Loot, Repeat is playing out in Florida).

Here is an UggaBugga-style sketch of the steps of Loot, Repeat. It's incomplete; maybe readers can help fill in some blanks. Some of the projects, like privatizing Social Security, are not yet complete; a Loot, Repeat cycle can take years to play out.

The repeat column -- the money trail to where the payoff goes -- is most incomplete. Aggregated, however, this column provides the answer to the question: "Where did the Bush contributors get their $200 million from, and what are they doing with it?"

1. Target Revenue Stream2. Transmit memes3. Privatize4. Loot5. Repeat
Defense DepartmentNeo-cons, PNACOutsourcingthe Iraq warNo bid contracts, etc. 
Medicare Prescription drug benefitRebates to big pharma; cherry picking 
Social Security  Commissions for mutual fund industry 
Public Schools Vouchers, contracting with private companiesE.g., wired EdisonCampaign contributions
Prisons  Wackenhut, etc. 
Stategic Petroleum Reserve  Contract to wiredKoch IndustriesCato Institute
Public utilitiesEasily manipulated California initiative process Kinda deregulate electricityCriminal manipulation of the power market fleeces Californians of billions - Bush FERC still says it's OKEnron dollars are a top source for Bush campaign contributions in 2000.
Jeb Bush funnels Florida taxpayer money into Enron stock
Proprietary software instead of free, open-source solutions. 
Electronic voting machinesFlorida debacle due to "hanging chads" instead of outright fraud 

UPDATE: Thanks to alert readers Dave Johnson and Tom for Edison, and Dave Johnson for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Thanks to alert reader EssJay for Enron (how could I forget?!)

Loot, Repeat in the service of Corporatism. I'd like to think that all Republicans don't want to shred our Constitution and abuse the American people in this way.

Our CEO President

aWol says:

I base our foreign policy based upon deep-seated principles.


Meanwhile, in the other qWagmire

Amir Shah of the AP writes:

U.S.-led coalition forces launched an operation in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan aimed at denying al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives a haven in Pakistan border regions, a military spokesman said Friday.

''The purpose of this operation is to prevent the re-emergence of terrorism, deny anti-coalition fighters sanctuary and prevent further attacks against NGOs (nongovernment organizations), coalition forces and equipment,'' Lefforge said.

Attacks against foreign aid workers and international soldiers in Afghanistan have increased in recent months. The violence is usually blamed on al-Qaida, Taliban remnants and loyalists of renegade rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Sounds like they've already emerged. But maybe aWol took his eye off the ball with AQ for some reason?

Say it isn't so...

Hal Varian (of the excellent Information Rules) has some analysis in the International Herald Tribune:

Even the formerly moribund technology sector is reviving, with the Nasdaq showing a 26 percent return since January.

According to recent reports, much of this renewed vigor is driven by individual investors. Is this a rational response to undervalued technology stocks, or the start of another bubble?

the market is still susceptible to irrational exuberance on the part of small investors.

Unfortunately, it is reportedly the most speculative stocks - biotech, Chinese Internet and penny stocks - that are showing the biggest price surges, and most of the interest appears to come from individuals. Analysts, whose views might be more representative of institutional investors, appear to be sitting on the sidelines.

If this pattern persists, it does not bode well for the current technology recovery.

Sigh... I thought we'd done the technology bubble already....

Jebbie's continuing troubles

From the Florida Department of Children and Families: Computers that track at-risk children collapse on first day.

Jeb Bush's DC&F is the department that , well, keeps losing kids...

C'mon Jeb! Get it together! There's a dynasty at stake!

SCLM Alert

Right vs. Right on the Today Show.

In Defense of Fascism

Apparently Michael Ledeen´s a fan.

Why am I not shocked.

This Weak

I´m no fan of either George, but why doesn´t anyone ever ask the rather obvious question - who the hell wants to watch George Will? Does anyone like that guy?

Here There Be Monsters

13 tons of dead octopus.

Joe on Ann

Joe Conason discusses Ann´s book, but don´t worry it´s still very interesting reading and provides us all with some nice history lessons.

Coulter discusses McCarthy's impressive high school record in considerable loving detail. But somehow she neglects to mention McCarthy's first moment in the national spotlight. That was his infamous 1949 campaign on behalf of Nazi S.S. officers who were convicted of war crimes for the massacre of American troops in the town of Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge. On their orders, 83 American prisoners of war had been murdered by Waffen S.S. machine-gunners. The S.S. officers were sentenced to death, but McCarthy insisted that the entire case was a frame-up, with confessions obtained by horrific torture. He intervened in Senate hearings on the case and lied repeatedly during his defense of the Nazi murderers. His most spectacular claim was that the American investigators had crushed the testicles of German prisoners as an interrogation technique. McCarthy was later shown to have served as the pawn of neo-Nazi and communist provocateurs who were using the Malmedy case to whip up anti-American sentiment in postwar Germany. The main source for his false charges concerning Malmedy was a Germany lawyer named Rudolf Aschenauer, whose closest ties were to the postwar Nazi underground and to American right-wing isolationists, but who has also been identified as a communist agent. Aschenauer testified at U.S. Senate hearings in Germany that he had passed information about Malmedy to McCarthy. The S.S. officers were guilty, as the Senate report confirmed -- although most of them later got their death sentences commuted in a gesture to former Nazi officials who aided the West in the Cold War. But McCarthy had succeeded in his larger purpose, winning publicity for himself and casting a negative light on the war-crimes trials.

We may remember, that it wasn´t long ago that Jonah Goldberg was defending this man.

As Jonah told us, "What makes McCarthyism so hard to discuss is that McCarthy behaved like a jerk, but he was also right."

Aside from everything else, it´s shocking that he could be so profoundly ignorant as to not realize that McCarthy was as much about Jew-baiting as it was about red-baiting.

Bush at War

War is Peace

Elaine Chao trumpeted the high unemployment rate as a sign that the economy is in recovery. Why? Well, because the labor force grew by 600,000 in June. To some degree it´s a change in the denominator which is driving the increase.

Using logic that only a Real Business Cycle theorist could love, dear Ms. Chao has determined that all of those people are re-entering the labor market because of renewed economic opportunities.

I´ve always had fun mocking real business cycle theory, which can be described simply as claiming that all unemployment is purely voluntary and recessions are caused when small decreases in wages due to external factors cause people to voluntarily leave their jobs. When wages are lower than normal people choose to enjoy some leisure time, figuring they´ll go back to work when wages are higher.

Actually, during this downturn I gained some new respect for RBC theory. In my sphere I´ve seen one member of two-earner households use the soft economy as a reason to, say, have/raise children, or pursue a more independent (less lucrative) endeavour of some sort.

But, people burn through their savings (or, borrow 110% on their inflated house price) pretty quickly. And, while it is true that people re-entering the labor market is driving the changes in the unemployment figures, anyone who has picked up the classifieds knows that it isn´t renewed economy opportunity that is driving them there - they´ve spent their savings and maxed out their equity and credit cards and it´s time to find a job before the bank takes their houses.

The numbers support my personal observations - women, the traditional primary caregivers, are swarming back into the labor force. 415,000 women 20 and over started pounding the pavement again in June.

Cardassian Justice in Gitmo

Everyone is guilty, the problem we face is figuring out who exactly is guilty of what...

Thursday, July 03, 2003

The quicker picker upper

About that bounty for Saddam and his sons...

Worked great for OBL, didn't it?

And what's that old AA definition of insanity -- "Doing the same thing again and expecting a different result"?

Plus, the first Iraqi to claim the reward better do like the Turks did before the war -- cash on the barrelhead, son. Given that tendency to "bait and switch" that aWol's malAdministration has.

The problem with Dean


"He has a very aggressive style in terms of arguing with the refs."

Working the refs does the job for the right, doesn't it? As Alterman shows. So why not for us?

(See the incomparable Howler for more.)

UPDATE: NPR transcript here.

They brought 'em

U.S. 'Still at War,' General Declares; 10 G.I.'s Wounded:

The statement from the commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez of the Army, came on a day in which 10 American soldiers were wounded in three separate attacks.

The multiple attacks today came a day after Mr. Bush seemingly invited confrontation with militant Iraqis, saying, "Bring 'em on." The American-led alliance, he said, has adequate force to deal with the security situation.

Today's attacks seemed to defy that assertion.

"Mission accomplished"? But that wasn't a lie! That was just for a photo-op!

Our CEO President

On troops to Liberia:

As to whether or not -- look, once the strategy is in place, I will let people know whether or not I'm airborne or not. In other words, I'm not trying to make any -- I don't need to dramatize the decision. It's getting plenty of attention here at home. But we've got -- and look, I'm just gathering enough information to be rational in what we do.

Great. Especially the "rational" part.

Our ever-changing stories on WMD

More rosebushes?

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. officials in Iraq have solid evidence of weapons of mass destruction programs and details probably will be released soon, two leading Senate Republicans said Thursday, after returning from Iraq.

But Democrats on the same trip said the evidence wasn't definitive. They said the Republicans were trying to shift the focus from proving that Saddam Hussein had weapons to proving he was developing them.

``That was not the basis on which the nation went to war,'' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Gosh, can't these guys get their stories straight? Can't they just plant the weapons and have done with it? The wait is getting really tiresome.



"Please turn the TV cameras off," Bush said as he got ready to tee off.

Heck, what is it, Cheney's Energy Task Force or something?

Stealing your overtime

Bob Herbert's good today:

The Bush administration, which has the very bad habit of smiling at working people while siphoning money from their pockets, is trying to change the federal Fair Labor Standards Act in a way that could cause millions of workers to lose their right to overtime pay.

The act, one of the last major domestic reform measures of the New Deal, gave Americans the 40-hour workweek and a minimum wage (which began at 25 cents an hour in the late 1930's). It wiped out grueling 12-hour days for many workers and prohibited the use of child labor in interstate commerce.

The act's overtime regulations have not been updated since 1975, and part of what the administration is proposing makes sense. Under existing rules only workers earning less than $8,060 a year automatically qualify for overtime. That would be raised to $22,100 a year.

But then comes the bad news. Nearly 80 percent of all workers are in jobs that qualify them for overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half for each hour that is worked beyond the normal 40-hour week. The administration wants to make it easier for employers to exempt many of those workers from overtime protection by classifying them as administrative, professional or executive personnel.

I wonder how many Americans really think that working longer hours for less money is a good thing.

Looting your pockets! After lying, looting is what the Republicans do best!

Community Wizards

Interesting series of articles here.

A Community Wizard is someone who can be trusted to act as a fiduciary of his or her place. Their mastery is all the more special as they have typically acquired it through long years of hard work and patience in an environment that was not conducive to achieving mastery. The knowledge of how to become a great Wizard was not particular accessible, more often than not it was handed down within a family, or through a network organized around the Farm Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, the women’s club or some local organization or network.

Perhaps these concepts are worth thinking about as we consider what kind of country we want on America's birthday.

Where's Steve McQueen When You Need Him?

Okay, being dead's a damn good excuse. But this hardly seems like a good substitute.

U.S. Offers $25 Million Reward for Saddam

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States placed a $25 million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein on Thursday as rocket-propelled grenades fired by suspected Saddam loyalists wounded more American soldiers.

Paul Bremer, U.S. administrator for Iraq, also offered $15 million for information leading to the capture of his two sons Uday and Qusay, calling all three "among the most evil men the world has known."

Bremer's appeal for information leading to Saddam's capture or confirmation of his death, televised to the Iraqi people, suggested Washington does not know whether he is alive.

The Reuter's writer doesn't forget to remember that Saddam had been labelled as irrelevant immediately after the war.

Note the picture of Bremer facing the nation. Whose nation is it again?

Mention also of the missing Osama.

And the museum is open. CNN showed a few of what's going on display - astounding, I've never seen artifacts like these; apparently many of them are a recent find and have changed perceptions of Assyrian culture. If even one of these had been lost, I mean, if there's a world in a spec of sand...

NPR's'MarketPlace' is interviewing someone apparently in the know, who's saying the price on Saddam's head is excessive and a sign of desperation. What, are there acturials for how to figure out such things?

The Other Shoe

From the Seattle Times:

Huge influx of troops sought to secure Iraq

Amid growing indications that some of the attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq are organized and coordinated, the chief civilian administrator and Army officers on the ground would like an increase of as many as 50,000 troops in the theater, according to knowledgeable sources.

A plea by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer for the additional troops was discussed at a national-security council meeting several days ago. The White House has indicated it would be reluctant to agree to such a large increase, the equivalent of more than two divisions, the sources said.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was reviewing the request from Bremer, U.S. officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A source outside the administration but familiar with the deliberations said, "The White House is aware that Bremer wants them," he said. "They're not happy about it. They don't want a formal request because then, politically, there's fallout."


The issue of troop strength to stabilize a postwar Iraq is a sensitive one.

In February, then-Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki was publicly ridiculed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq policy, for telling Congress that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to guarantee stability.

President Bush, meanwhile, began preparing the American public yesterday for a prolonged U.S. role in Iraq, citing the need for "a massive and long-term" effort to bring democracy and prosperity to the war-torn country. (italics and bold face mine)

I'd clip this article and keep it around. It's a perfect snapshot taken with a wide lense that picks up all the relevant data.

It seems clear that Rove has decided to try and get done some of what the critics say needs doing as sub-rosa as possible, to avoid any discussions of mistakes made.

In the meantime, what he's mapped out for the President is a trip to another continent, and a rhetorical strategy that welcomes references to Vietnam and quagmires (think Eastwood's "make my day"), because they are the easiest criticisms to counter.

I suspect that all critiques of how we're failing to secure the peace and begin to move towards democracy in Iraq will be treated as if they're calls to retreat. Even questions about those cancelled elections can be characterized as attempts to rush the process so we can get the hell out of there.

We need some thinking about how to continue the critique, without finding that we're playing Karl's game.

That's my two cents. Tell me yours.

The War On Criticism

Others have said it before me, with any luck, others will have reason to say it after me: The Onion just keeps getting better and better.

How To Love Your Country: A Primer

Dinesh D'Souza wants to help you count the ways.

Worried that clueless Americans are getting all the wrong clues from the forces of negativity, both left AND right, (he's nothing if not fair and balanced) Dinesh has prepared sort of a "Patriotism For Dummies" in the form of a list of "Ten Great Things About America," subtitled, "What to love about the United States."

They include:

America provides an amazingly good life for the ordinary guy.:

Work and trade are respectable in America, which is not true elsewhere

People live longer, fuller lives in America

America, the freest nation on earth, is also the most virtuous nation on earth

Each reason comes with its own commentary. It's easy to make fun of D'Souza, much less easy to critique his writings:he has this knack of sounding so reasonable. What's noticeable here is the sheer lack of energy he is able to bring to his task.

For some genuine inspiration - in a comment to my 4th of July suggestions, Michelle explained who is behind that flyer which caught my attention, and provided this link to their homepage, "The Peace Pretzel," where their more partisan loyalities are clearly on view. Here's a hint:

"Counterpropoganda For The People"

The Poorman Poormouths Bush's Chances

(courtesy of Patrick Neilson Hayden)

Just in time for your patriotic 4th of July pleasure, Andrew Northrup does the numbers and tells us that W isn't as invincible as all those other guys keep telling us.

I really think Bush is going to be very weak in the next election, and that questions of competence will be his weakness. Looking at the NY Times today, the top stories are the highest unemployment rate in almost a decade, and ten American soldiers wounded in Iraq on the day after Bush said "There are some who feel like — that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on." These do not speak to me of wise leadership.

I suspect that those single question Bush approval ratings are something of a chimera. Most Americans, including non-conservatives, want the best for their country, which means they want to believe that Bush knows what he's doing, whatever sandy Andy (that would be Sully I have in mind) may think.

Andrew N. makes an important patriotic point here, for anyone who wants to deprive Bush of those extra four years; keep up the intelligent pressure, but be patient too, it takes time for bad news to sink in.

Despite Threats, Some Dare To Talk Back To Travis Bickle

Dr. Dean didn't waste any time; his best line:

President Bush should focus on encouraging the keeping of the peace, since that is now our mission.”

Here's a Reuter's compendium:

Bush Taking Heat for 'Bring Them On' Remark

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, said condemned the comment, saying, "The deteriorating situation in Iraq requires less swagger and more thoughtfulness and statesmanship."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed the criticism and said Bush viewed his comment as a way to express confidence in U.S. troops.

No doubt.

Here's how Dana Milbank and Vernon Loeb handle it in the WaPo:

President Bush yesterday delivered a colloquial taunt to militants who have been attacking U.S. troops in Iraq, saying "bring 'em on" and asserting that the forces in Iraq are "plenty tough" to deal with the threat.

The colorful challenge by Bush provoked indignation from some congressional Democrats, who said the president's bravado was inviting attacks on U.S. soldiers. It came as the president continued to face questions about the chaotic postwar scene in Iraq. Some retired officers, warning of a serious shortage of military manpower, have called on Bush to take the unusual step of activating National Guard divisions to relieve overtaxed troops.(italics mine)

The Pentagon, which is studying whether it needs additional troops in Iraq, is straining to sustain more than half the Army in Iraq while maintaining other troop commitments in Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans. Other countries are also resisting entreaties to help in Iraq. In the latest sign of the squeeze, the foreign secretary of India, from which the administration is seeking an entire division, said yesterday that his government remains wary of sending troops to Iraq.


The administration has been struggling to enlist other countries to contribute troops to the Iraqi occupation force and reduce the strain on the U.S. military. Despite vigorous appeals from the president and his senior advisers, however, foreign governments have been reluctant to provide large numbers of troops. While the administration has queried 70 countries about the possibility of contributing forces, 10 have thus far agreed to contribute about 20,000 troops by the end of the summer. Only Britain, Ukraine and Poland have provided substantial assistance so far.

Can't imagine why? Maybe statements like this one?

"Anybody who wants to help, we'll welcome the help," Bush said. "But we've got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure." The president left open the possibility of increasing U.S. troop strength, however, saying "we'll put together a force structure who meets the threats on the ground."

Don't thiink this was what these folks had in mind when they made these suggestions:

As a first step, the President should set the direction for his administration by making a major foreign policy address to the nation, explaining the importance of seeing the task through, as well as the costs and risks of U.S. engagement in postwar Iraq.


Develop a clearer political vision and strategy

Employ a wiser approach to communicating with the Iraqi people

Promote public security and the rule of law

Oh well, no one's perfect.

Bring ´Em On

10 more soldiers wounded.


Holy crap.

And, reading the details we see the following:
Over the past month black over 20 unemployment rose an entire percentage point to 10.8%, with almost all of that jump being due to female black over 20 unemployment rising from 8.0 to 9.8%. I´m sure MK Ultra Hack will step up to the plate to give these lazy folks a lecture on "ghetto thinking."

...and, let´s give a very special shout out to the 430,000 new jobless!

Ad Strip

Not sure why it´s so wide at the moment, will be fixed soon...

Bush Double-Dog Dares Militants to Hurt US Soldiers

Even outraged, Adam Felber can make you laugh:

" fact," the President continued, "I don't think Iraqi militants have the guts to kill more Americans. I think they're yeller." Bush, who during Vietnam war bravely combatted an extremely inconvenient schedule, made his remarks a mere 6,211 miles from the front lines.

Of course, sometimes the line between laughing and crying....

What's It All About, Annie?

At The Sideshow, Avedon Carol demonstrates that she has a better grasp of that subject than does the congenitally clueless Coulter, and in the process demonstrates the elegance that is reasoned discourse.

A few brickbracs get aimed at the richly deserving Richard Cohen, who columnizes Coulter in his habitual mode of being a little bit pregnant.

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind. The evidence for this is her most recent book, "Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said...Fairness compels me to say that Coulter scores some points.

There's an even bigger problem with Cohen's take on Coulter, and Avedon pounces on it.

Best of all is her nearly definitive statement of why, in a sane and just world, the right would occasionally have to answer the question, 'Why do you hate this country?' rather than always getting to ask it.

Let's be absolutely clear about this: Both the alleged left-wing judgment that Coulter describes and the version that the right prefers blame the world's problems on the United States. The right-wing thinks US diplomatic policies of the last 50 years have been a mistake. The right-wing hates the UN, which is, as much as anything, a US project. The right claims that US foreign aid has been responsible for creating or exacerbating the problems of other nations.

There's more just as good.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Republicans about to trash Medicare with prescription drug bill

If you or your parents or grandparents depend on Medicare, you need to understand this issue, since it could affect their life and health.

Business as usual with aWol's malAdministration is bait and switch. The prescription bill is no exception.

Jacob Hacker writes in The Times: How Not to Fix Medicare:

Bluntly put, the House legislation is a ruse. The bill delivers a prescription drug benefit, but this benefit is simply the attractive window dressing for the legislation's ultimate aim: fundamentally revamping Medicare to create a competitive system based on private health plans.

That is, the ruse is "bait and switch" for privatization.

Consider the bill's major features. Private health insurers would be given increased government payments so that they could sweeten their benefits to lure the elderly and the disabled out of the traditional Medicare program. Beneficiaries choosing private plans with lower premiums would get a rebate from the government; those choosing plans with higher premiums would have to pay more. In 2010, the traditional program would be forced to compete with private plans. From then on, the amount that beneficiaries paid for Medicare would be set not by law, but by market forces.

This might sound like a great way to encourage consumer choice — until one realizes that the cost of alternative insurance options would be mainly determined by the health of those enrolled. Since the least healthy enrollees would most likely stay in traditional Medicare rather than brave the private market, the program's premiums would likely rise substantially. This would encourage healthier beneficiaries to seek lower premiums in the private sector, leaving only the sickest behind.

So, cherry picking by the private firms, while those who actually need help are thrown away. It's happened before:

beneficiaries would be forced to turn first to private insurers, which would be able to set their own premiums for drug coverage. (The Senate bill allows for a drug benefit directly through Medicare only if a beneficiary does not have access to more than one private drug insurance plan in his region.)

Because drug costs are risky and expensive to cover, few insurers seem eager to sign up for this complex and untested idea. But even if private plans emerged, the likely result would be chaos as insurance companies continually dropped coverage and altered their benefits — which is precisely what has happened to millions of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in private H.M.O.'s over the past five years.

But don't worry! By the time this disaster unfolds, aWol and his friends will have left town!

Not coincidentally, perhaps, none of this will become clear until after the 2004 election. Republicans may ride a prescription drug benefit back into office. But the bills on the table now are mainly a prescription for resentment and dashed expectations — and, most fearful of all, for the unraveling of the social compact that has made Medicare an integral part of American social policy for nearly 40 years.

I wonder what the chances are that the companies making the money on privatizing Medicare will be big contributors to the Republican party?

Why any Democrat, even the most gutless or feckless one, is voting for this fraudulent bill is beyond my imagination. Remember Max Cleland? He compromised with the Republicans on the tax cut, and then they ran ads against him calling him a traitor on homeland security -- and he was a VietNam veteran and triple amputee. You can trust the Republicans -- to be Republicans.

The horse is back!

And better than ever.

Too much good stuff to quote. Go read!

UPDATE: But I can't resist quoting this:

Democrats understand the country needs someone who can burst into the people's White House, grab the incompetent and corrupt squatter sitting in the Oval Office by the lapels, drag him to the curb, and leave our national shame in a crumpled heap to be forgotten by history.

Yes! Free and fair elections in 2004!

To A More Meaningful Fourth

Here's a suggestion for really celebrating America, from a nice little website you can find here.

What these very nice folks have done is to provide a downloadable flyer, on the front, a large, impressive American flag, and inside, quotes to please the heart of any progressive from such notables as the father of our country, that guy who wrote that Declaration, the one who wrote a lot of the Constitution...well, you get the picture.

Their suggestion is that if you're going to any gatherings, family or otherwise, bring some of these along to pass out.

My added suggestion:

That wonderful speech Bill Moyers gave at that Washington conference - it came with instructions from Bill himself: This is Your Story - The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On.

Why not do just that by printing it out and tucking a copy inside each flyer.

The original website links to this one, which has more of the same type of good stuff.

Faux: Troops to Liberia?

Thought I'd check The Agonist, now that our mission in Iraq has been "accomplished," and all that, to see what was up there, and found this: Faux

"We have the green light to do something in Liberia, we are working on that something right now," a senior defense official told Fox News.

There is a "fast-team" of 50-75 Marines, specifically trained to provide security to the U.S. Embassy, on standby in Spain, according to defense officials.

Another administration official said the White House did not want to take the military option off the table for fear of making headlines just before Bush starts a trip to Africa next Monday.

Right. Plus, there might be photo ops!


OK, there aren't a lot of swamps in Iraq, so maybe qWagmire is wrong. Iraq does have a lot of sand, so alert reader Seth proposes qWicksand.

Both qWagmire and qWicksand convey that trapped, endless, sinking feeling -- and both, of course, have the "W" for the ... the ... the ... person who got us into sucked into them.

On the other hand, qWagmire is starting to propagate, so perhaps it has sufficient power, and why tamper with success?

UPDATE: Of course there were swamps in Iraq -- the famous reed marshes that Saddam, in one of his evil acts, drained. qWagmire it is.


The reality today:

From Philly's own Inky, Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel write:

The top American administrator in Iraq, confronting growing anti-U.S. anger and guerrilla-style attacks, is asking for more American troops and dozens of civilian officials to help speed up the restoration of order and public services.

The neo-con job:

Ken Adelman:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.

Some cake. Some walk.

UPDATE: This from alert reader Squiddy.

Here's the part where the soldier figures out he's been taken by aWol's bait and switch:

The anger towards their own senior officers is obvious. Cpl Richardson said: "We weren't trained for this stuff now. It makes you resentful they're holding us on here. It pisses everyone off, we were told once the war was over we'd leave when our replacements get here. Well, our replacements got here and we're still here."

But read the whole story. If 10% of the material on how we're handling civilian casualties is true, we' re in for a long, hot summer.

(This article brings up another parallel with VietNam, BTW: young men with extremely heavy weapons fighting a guerilla war in the midst of a civilian population. I don't blame the soldiers: they are not in an enviable position. And Who put them there?)

Problems it's nice to have

WaPo headline: Surge of Cash Puts Pressure on Dean.

Gosh, I'd like some of that kind of pressure too!

Sometimes the SCLM is just ... so ... transparent. So very, very duck pit ready.

Lautenberg stands up


New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg sharply criticized Bush for the "bring them on" comment.

"I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops," said Lautenberg in a statement.

aWol's comment would be funny if it weren't so disgusting, and if lives weren't at stake.

When his silly posturing gets people killed, what will he tell the families? And how is he able to sleep nights?

UPDATE: Alert readers point out that aWol's inane comments might well be just playing to his domestic base, now that he's in fund-raising mode. The point being?

Alert reader Dave John points to The Drudge Report, which is giving aWol's rock-stupid remark big play.

Funny, in Drudge's photo (this is the best they can do?) Bush is starting to look a little, well, blotchy again. I wonder why?

Credibility 3

Jae-Suk Yoo of the AP writes:

A U.S. intelligence report about a North Korean nuclear testing site drew skepticism Wednesday from South Korean experts, who said the information appeared to be old.

But... but... Why on earth would US intelligence reports about WMDs elicit skepticism?

Tell me again why the Republicans are better on national security?

The 9/11 report is coming (soon...)

Looks like aWol's done censoring it. Cox News here:

A long-awaited report detailing intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks could be released as early as next week, but it arrives amid rising political tensions and debates over declassifying sensitive material.

And Graham stands up:

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has charged that the delay is nothing short of a government cover-up.

"I think what they are shooting at is to cover up the failures that occurred before Sept.11th, even more so the failures to utilize the information that we have gained to avoid a future Sept. 11th," said Graham, a presidential contender, recently on the Sunday morning talk show "Face the Nation."

Oh, heck, what a nervous nelly Bob Graham is. I'm certain that Our Leader would never have said "bring it on" without full confidence that the country was safe from another 9/11 attack! Aren't you?

Torture Bill Frist

GOPUSA is running a poll on Frist's "define a family for all eternity' amendment here. So far we're losing. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.

While you're there, check out this story:

Democrats, Bureaucrats, Unions Fight Bush's Competitive Sourcing Plan

President Bush's Management Agenda, a plan that would put as many as 425,000 of federal jobs up for competitive bid to the private sector is under attack in Congress.

I should hope so. Plug your ears and shout again and again, "Crony Patronage" "The Spoils System no, Civil Service, yes."

A little detail on Darrell Issa

Issa is the multi-millionaire who's leading the "do-over" recall effort to unseat elected governor Gray Davis in California. Lance Williams and Robert Salladay of the Chronicle write:

Rep. Darrell Issa, within months of leaving Army service in the early 1970s, was arrested twice on illegal-weapons charges, including an incident in Michigan that led to a misdemeanor gun conviction, The Chronicle has learned.

Issa, speaking with reporters late Monday, implied that the issue of his gun conviction should be off limits in the campaign because it was personal and old.

Right. This is "old" too:

Anti-recall forces [showed a] videotape of the Great Western Gun Show from May 1998, where the Issa campaign set up a booth. The video showed people selling Nazi flags and German army helmets inside the show, along with hundreds of guns, and a lone Issa worker sitting outside the entrance of the show in a booth with a large Issa sign.

Or maybe that was Darrell's brother Darrell, or his other brother, Darrell?


If it weren't for, well, eruptions like this one, the wingers would find it easier to shake that nasty "f" word, wouldn't they?

(To pre-empt the Godwin's law postings, Orcinus has a serious and scholarly discussion of meme transmittal from the wingers to the mainstream. See top left, at "Rush.")

Doing Something: A Suggestion

The President's remarks, this morning, sucked, big time.

Maybe enough to become a major mis-step.

I'll settle for a minor turning point.

But remember Eric Alterman's conceptual breakthrough - "working the refs" - what the right does?

The storyline already in place re: Bush, Iraq made him invincible. Nothing the media tarts hate more than revising the CW.

They're going to need help.

Think back to how the right made a memorial service for a much-loved Senator an occasion to bash everything he stood for, while claiming that's what the memorial service was doing.

Even a pandering media notices polls. Well, they'll notice if they detect a shocked reaction to Bush's "bring them on" remark.

One possibility.

During the ten O'clock AM (on the west coast) hour, MSNBC Anchor Lady, Natalie Morales used the "bring them on" phrase in her introduction to a tape of Bush's remarks. The video contained not a hint of the phrase.

Why not send an email to MSNBC, or make a call, expressing your outrage that Ms Morales would characterize the President's remarks that way; you find it impossible to believe the President could have said anything like that....


Keep an eye on the broadcast evening news shows, and the primetime CNN and MSNBC programs; forget Fox. Whichever way they play it, let them know there are folks out there who think the President's words matter;aside from the families of our military personnel, imagine the Iraqis' reaction to hearing that.

Don't pretend you're a Republican, don't say you're a Democrat. Say or write what's true, that such a remark is unthinkable coming from an American President.

You could also point out that the President is ignoring the actual questions being asked about our reconstruction efforts, and because he doesn't do press conferences he remains unavailable to those he serves, the American public.

Probably, a lot of you have better suggestions. Let me know.

It only took a hundred telephone calls to a single TV station to turn what happened at the Wellstone memorial inside out. And an election got lost because of it.

We need to get organized.

Luckily, we have time to do it.

But just barely.

A thousand here, a thousand there...

...and pretty soon you realize no one, including Fat Tim, has any clue how many soldiers we have in Iraq. Dean made up a number, Tim made up another one, and the Pentagon has provided a third.

Dean “incorrectly estimated the number of troops in Iraq,” the troubled Barabak said. In fact, Dean said there were “in the neighborhood of 135,000” such troops. The next day, the New York Times said the real number was 146,000. Four days later, Brian Lamb did a segment about Dean’s interview on Washington Journal; he had asked the Defense Department, and the number they gave was 132,00.

Sure is Dangerous There

The military is claiming that of the 64 or more US soldiers who have died in Iraq since May 1, only 23 or so were actual combat victims.

The rest were killed by the Grue.


qWagmire, noun. A massive and long-term undertaking.

OK, now we can stop arguing about whether Iwaq is or is not a quagmire. It is.

And we've got, what, one quarter of our army there? With no light at the end of the tunnel?

And we need international cooperation to (a) get more troops to do the occupation and (b) get more money to pay for the operation -- except we trashed the the international institutions in the run-up to the war, and lost our credibility because of the lies we told...

Can someone tell me again why Republicans are better on national security? I think it's time to start using the "F" word -- call this neo-con job the fiasco that it is. If lives weren't at stake, we'd all be ROTFL.

Worst Decision Ever

Apparently it was Brown v. Board of Education. Who knew?

Bring Them On

We have hit a new low.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) on Wednesday challenged militants who have been killing and injuring U.S. forces in Iraq (news - web sites), saying "bring them on" because American forces were tough enough to deal with their attacks.

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is 'bring them on'. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Wonder how many of these families he´s hugged.

Takes two hands to handle a whopper

Alert reader Rick in Davis points out that in my quick list of Bush's lies on Iraq ("credibility") I left out the one where Bush said that, according to the IAEA the Iraqis were six months away from developing nuclear weapons, when in fact the IAEA found "no indication" of that. See The Likely Story for a partial compilation of Bush lies.

Yep, I missed a Bush whopper. But then, there are so very, very many....

Jonah Goldberg, Little Wimp

Looks like Jonah is frightened of the vewwy scewwy Michelangelo Signorile. Here is Mike´s letter to Medianews about his recent ordeal at the hands of the liberal NPR. I´ll quote it in full since the letters section doesn´t have any permanent link system:

Just in case you needed one, here's yet another example of the fallacy of the so-called liberal media -- and a great example, too, of what utter wimps many conservative pundits really are.

Yesterday, a producer at Boston's NPR-affiliate, WBUR, was so eager to get in touch with me that she contacted my editors at both New York Press and Newsday with urgent missives, and also sent me e-mail via my web site. Writing on behalf of the news program The Connection, she wanted me to participate on a show this morning on same-sex marriage. The other guests would be writer E.J. Graff and National Review's Jonah Goldberg. I was on the air myself at the time, doing my own daily three-hour radio program, and didn't get the messages until 4 p.m. I called the relieved producer at that time and told her I could do it. She said she'd have me go to an NPR studio in Manhattan, but also inquired if I could do it from my studio at Sirius Satellite, so definitive was she about having me on.

Then I received a phone call back at 6:30: I was "off the hook" for the show, thank you very much. Turns out conservative pundit Goldberg would not do the show with me. The producer noted that they don't usually let a guest "dictate" who the other guests are, but that it was late and thus hard to find another conservative. That sounded pretty bogus: finding a conservative pundit to do a radio program is about as difficult as finding a drag queen at gay pride.

And what exactly turned fire-breathing, macho Goldberg into a little sissy, running away from a homosexual columnist? The producer said that Goldberg implied to her that we'd had some words, though Goldberg and I have never spoken nor have we ever even exchanged an e-mail. He did "admit," she said, that I am a "powerful" gay columnist (yes, I laughed at that one), but that I'd put out "misinterpretations" of his work. I guess one of those "misinterpretations" was when I criticized him in New York Press after he floated the totally unfounded idea that the Washington, DC sniper suspects were really gay lovers and then gleefully called the capture of the suspects a possible "threefer" (because they were Muslim, African-American and, in the minds of Goldberg and his fellow right-wing smear artists, possibly homosexual).

The other "misinterpretation" might have been when I wrote a column in New York Press exposing one of his editors at the Washington Times, Robert Stacy McCain, as a member of the League of the South, a racist Southern secessionist group. Goldberg had just spent a week piously calling on Trent Lott to step down as Senate Majority leader because of his racially insensitive remarks and now he was exposed as working for an out and out racist himself. (The folks at the American Prospect's blog soon called on Goldberg to follow his own advice to Lott and step down from the Washington Times, but he did not -- nor did he respond at all.)

So, here you have a perfect example of how liberal voices are shut out of the so-called liberal media at the behest of cowardly conservative columnists who spend much of their time railing that the media favor liberals. Even more curious was when the producer of the supposedly liberal NPR affiliate told me that Goldberg said he didn't like my journalism or my "tactics" -- particularly around the issue of "outing" -- and I replied to her how supremely ironic that was given that he is the child of Lucianne Goldberg, the salacious web-maven who helped expose Bill Clinton's sex life and whom Jonah has defended to the hilt. The producer's response: Who is Lucianne Goldberg? Yes, more evidence of that well-informed, agenda-driven liberal media.

I guess this means Goldberg really is homophobic..

If you want, you can go express your interest in this little situation on their forums here.

Credibility 2

City and state officials are figuring out that those color-coded alerts are really a waste of money for them, besides being an unfunded mandate.

"There is broad consensus that the (federal alert) system just isn't effective," Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske says. '"It isn't working."

Some officials, questioning the value of the federal alerts, are designing their own regional warning systems that kick into gear only when there is a specific threat to their area.

"When the federal government put (its alert) system together, they did it in a hurry,'' Phoenix Police Chief Hurtt says. ''I agreed with what they did in the beginning. But we need . . . to be able to determine what level (of) threat we are confronting. We don't want the system to lose credibility with the public. You could bankrupt the country if we do nothing but depend on direction based on terrorist chatter.'"

Who was it who said the Republicans were better on homeland security?

Republicans on redistricting

Sen. John Andrews, R-Centennial, president of the Colorado Senate, writes in the Rocky Mountain News:

There are only two kinds of Congress to choose from - one where ... Republicans hold the majority, or one where ... Democrats do. Nonpartisanship is not an option.

There you have it, folks!


We spent our credibility with fake intelligence in Iraq: aluminum tubes, crude fakes on Niger Uranium, Powell's use at the UN of a British report with uncredited material from a grad student found on the Internet, the trailers that were only trailers, and the constantly changing stories on where the WMDs (if any) are (here, there, looted, hidden, just not found in a country the size of California).

Now when we need our credibility on North Korean nukes we don't have any.

Who was it who said the Republicans were better on National Security?

Property Rights

Via Calpundit I see that little Jonah Goldberg and various other libertarian-conservatives/conservative-libertarians are all in a muddle about the new national do not call list as they sorta like the desired effect but are horrified that there isn´t any market solution to the problem.

This is rather silly. This is a market solution, though not in the way people like Goldberg tend to see it, where there is some explicit financial transaction. Instead, what the government has done is clarified and/or redefined property rights, depending on how you look at it.

Previously, you didn´t own the right to determine who did or didn´t cause the telephone in your home to ring. Well, you could do the equivalent of putting up fences by having various electronic gizmos and caller ID or whatnot, but no one could be prosecuted for climbing over those fences. Now the federal government has strengthened your ownership of your phone by enforcing your ability to exclude certain classes of callers.

Of course, nothing is now stopping you from selling or renting that particular asset you now have - perhaps we can look forward to companies offering people money to take themselves off the no call list and then marketing that list to telemarketers...

All Them Hispanic Mayors Look Alike

Presidenting sure is hard.

In Little Havana, Mr. Bush got tangled up in his remarks, confusing the independent mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, who was in the crowd, with the Democratic mayor of Miami-Dade County, Alex Panelas, who was not.
"We've got el alcalde de Miami," Mr. Bush said, using the Spanish for mayor. "Thank you, seƱor. Thank you very much, Alex, for coming — I mean, Manny, for coming.

"And Alex Panelas is here as well, the mayor of — donde?" Mr. Bush said, using the Spanish word for where. When it became clear that Mr. Panelas was not in the crowd, Mr. Bush said, laughing: "O.K. At least he got his name mentioned. That's a smart move."

Ann Coulter, Bigot

Yes, I know that isn´t exactly a new concept. And, I promise not to spend too much time on my good friend Ann Coulter. But, even I was a little shocked by a passage in her book, as quoted by Richard Cohen, where she refers to the Japanese military as "savage Oriental beasts."

(via Rittenhouse Review)

Flippity Floppity

It´s like this guy doesn´t even know who he is, you know? From that same Milbank article linked below:

On the affirmative action case, Bush announced on Jan. 15 that the administration would file a brief opposing both programs in question, for Michigan undergraduates and law students. He called both programs "a quota system" and said they were "unconstitutional."

But when the Supreme Court last week upheld the program for Michigan law students -- widely seen as a major affirmation of affirmative action -- Bush joined in the celebration. "I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity on our nation's campuses," he said in a statement issued by the White House.