Saturday, September 06, 2003


It appears that has more or less come clean about the whole Bin Laden Family Flight thing. I say more or less because it's late and I've had a drink or two and I'm not going to parse every word. They're still emphasizing some less-than-important parts of the issue, which isn't such a big deal, but I'll link and let you all judge.

Identity Politics

Consider yourselves all on notice. Even my own staff. I'm a bit pissed off at the sudden random jabs by not only the SCLM, but the ACTUAL LM against identity politics.

Your pretty white faces will all be on display soon. This will be nothing more than proof that, as Al Franken says, you haven't fallen for that affirmative action crap.

Good Things

I've started reading William Greider's latest book. After reading a bit, I have a feeling I'll disagree with a lot of it, even though I'd suspect Greider and I are fellow travelers in a lot of ways. In any case, it's shaping up to be a provocative book.

Middlemarch. Best Book Ever.

Still Life, the beginning of a now four-book series by A.S. Byatt. The fourth was forgettable, but the the first three deserve a look. Occasionally works of fiction manage to enhance and modify your views, these books did that for me.


If anyone has a tape of the most recent Bill Maher program on HBO, could you provide a transcript of the bit where Wolf Blitzer comments on Britney Spears?


Chocolate Genius

Good... very good.


It saddens me to say that while I'd like to blame the Bush administration, and the SCLM, for perpetuating the idea that Saddam may have had anything to with 9/11, I honestly can't. While they share some responsbility - the fact that 70% of the American public believes this cannot solely be blamed on this.

While the Bushies did their part, the truth is this ability to be completely ignorant about the Most Important Day In Recent History has less to do with the success of the Bushies' attempts to perpetuate this idea, and more to do with peoples' willingness to embrace the idea of collective guilt. I'm fairly sure that any poll question which replaced Saddam's name with any other prominent Arab or Persian leader (assuming there was one with name recognition) would receive a similar affirmative response.

One towel-head is as good as another.

Bush Haters

I don't believe I've ever called Bush a "shitstain," though it is kind of catchy. Those Republicans can sure be mean.

...compassiongate has a larger list. The truth is that the "right" has often been as critical of the Bush administration as has been the left. But, that same Right has been more concerned with preserving their perceived right to have a monopoly on the public discourse than on actually having these criticisms be heard.

The Shifting Timeline for Bernard Kerik

Needlenose has the details.

..and Josh Marshall comments.

Popular Wartime President

Bush at 45% favorable, 54% unfavorable, according to Zogby.

A majority (52%) said it’s time for someone new in the White House, while just two in five (40%) said the president deserves to be re-elected. Last month, 45% said re-election was in order, and 48% said it was time for someone new.

Snopes Playing Games

There's no reason that the site has to be seen as a Higher Authoriy. There's also no reason to expect them to be 100% correct all the time, if for no other reason than new facts sometimes come to light.

On the other hand, when you make a mistake you fess up and fix it. Instead what Snopes has done is a bit of revisionism. Their original page about the Bin Laden family being jetted around the country was dedicated to focusing on this "rumor":

Claim: Two days after September 11 -- while all other planes were grounded -- a secret flight arranged by George W. Bush flew Osama bin Laden's relatives out of the USA.

Status: False.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
BIN LADEN FAMILY ALLOWED TO FLY DURING GROUND STOPPAGE? Michael Moore was on the Daily Show on Comedy Central and alleged that when all the nation's planes were grounded for 3 days after 9/11, the Bush Administration gave permission for a private Saudi jet to visit 5 cities to pick up around 20 members of the bin Laden family, over the objections of the FBI.

The key issues, of course, being that the Bush administration allowed the Bin Laden family to fly while most flights were grounded in order to hasten their departure from the country. That, we now find out, is true.

Now Snopes has expanded on the pieces of this "rumor" by emphasizing other, less important and rarely claimed aspects of it, in order to continue to pretend to "debunk it" even though the crucial parts now appear to be true. For example, they now act as if whether or not the Bin Laden family flew out of the country before the flight bans were lifted is somehow important, rather than their simply being allowed to fly at all. See Shock and Awe for more.

They also owe Michael Moore an apology.

Lust in Their Hearts

Slacktivist explains the sins of Jimmy Carter and Saddam Hussein.

Molly Shoots and Scores

A list of sexed-up quotes.

Popular Wartime President

Hoffmania brings the numbers to our attention:


If George W. Bush runs for reelection in 2004, would you say you will definitely vote for him, might vote for or against him, or will you definitely vote against him?”

Definitely For Bush: 29%
Might Vote For Or Against: 25%
Definitely Against: 41%


"Overall, do you approve, disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?" If "mixed feelings" or not sure: "If you had to choose, do you lean more toward approve or disapprove?"

Approve: 52% (down from 56% last month)
Disapprove: 45% (up from 40%)
Mixed Feelings: 2%
Not Sure: 1%

Friday, September 05, 2003

Rummy's First Baby

Is defective:

Sept. 5 — The Bush administration’s military predicament in Iraq has suddenly gotten worse.
JUST A MONTH before the next U.S. Army unit is due to deploy in Iraq to relieve the hard-pressed forces already there, the military is confessing to a potential showstopper. The deploying unit’s new armored vehicles may have faulty armor which would leave them vulnerable to machine-gun fire and to the rocket-propelled grenades that are the Iraq insurgents’ favorite weapon.
The vehicle is the prized new Stryker wheeled troop carrier, advertised as the first fruit of the Army’s plan to transform itself into a lighter, go-anywhere-fast force.
Worse still: the Army has known it might have a problem since February, but has kept quiet about it. An Army memo sent yesterday to the head of the Stryker program, and obtained by NEWSWEEK, reports: “Evidently this issue was first raised in February 2003. Am unsure how this issue escaped public scrutiny for six months.” Not even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was told, NEWSWEEK has learned. “Understand that ARSTAF [Army Staff] have been told to treat this issue as if it were ‘classified’,” says the memo, which is addressed to Lt. Gen. John Riggs, the head of the Stryker program. At a recent Army meeting to discuss the faulty armor, the main topic on the agenda, according to a DOD source, was: “How do we tell Secretary Rumsfeld?” Rumsfeld is now in Iraq. According to the memo to Riggs, the Army briefed “selected staffers” on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Unlike the massively thick steel that tanks are made from, the 19-ton Stryker has a light steel and aluminum structure. But this is clad in 130 ceramic tiles, supposedly tough enough stop heavy machine-gun fire and deflect the blast of incoming RPGs. More than 600 Strykers have been built by General Dynamics, which has a $4 billion contract to produce 2,100 in all. But the ceramic armor tiles are produced for GD by a German subcontractor. The problem arose when the German firm apparently changed the mix of ingredients in the tiles. (The firm could not be reached for comment.)
The Army discovered this in February, sources say, when, as standard quality control, some tiles were X-rayed. Further tests revealed that, on some batches of tiles, the subcontractor had changed not only the ingredients but parts of the manufacturing process too. In August, a tile from one of those errant batches failed to stop machine-gun bullets in a live-fire test at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in northern Maryland, according to Army sources.

Hey, Where'd he Go?

Ex NY police chief Bernard Keirk has apparently quit his job in Iraq, though no one appears to be saying when or why, aside from the usual "it was all a part of the cunning plan" nonsense.

He Bravely Ran Away

More on That's My Bush: The Movie:

With its action thriller score, exposition-packed dialogue and enthusiastic airbrushing of a chief executive who's still in power, it suggests not the typical American made-for-TV docudrama, but a Soviet propaganda effort from the 1970s that was designed to be aired on May Day.

Left wing fantasies like "The West Wing" and "Primary Colors" pandered to the daydreams of their core audience, but at least they gave their presidential heroes massive, often unpleasant flaws. This Bush has no flaws. He's a two-fisted smiley face. The movie should have ended with a 1-800 number telling people where to send campaign donations.

Odd, back when it came out Primary Colors was portrayed as a vicious scathing attack. I thought it was a somewhat, though not entirely, affectionate satire. I'm not sure how it should be lumped in with the West Wing, in any case.

Limbaugh and ESPN

I meant to link to it before, but somehow forgot. And, hey, now it's an ad. Click the link for some good commentary on ESPN's disgusting decision.

Meanwhile in Oz

A bit creepy:

On the night of Wednesday, August 27, two men dressed as computer technicians and carrying tool bags entered the cargo processing and intelligence centre at Sydney International Airport.
The men, described as being of Pakistani-Indian-Arabic appearance, took a lift to the third floor of the Charles Ulm building in Link Road, next to the customs handling depot and the Qantas Jet Base.

They presented themselves to the security desk as technicians sent by Electronic Data Systems, the outsourced customs computer services provider which regularly sends people to work on computers after normal office hours.

After supplying false names and signatures, they were given access to the top-security mainframe room. They knew the room's location and no directions were needed.

Inside, they spent two hours disconnecting two computers, which they put on trolleys and wheeled out of the room, past the security desk, into the lift and out of the building.

The brazen theft has prompted Australia's top security agencies to conduct emergency damage audits amid fears that terrorists may have gained access to highly sensitive intelligence from the computers.



Democrats are planning a political fundraiser two days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that will reward major donors with lapel pins honoring the Pentagon casualties," the Washington Post reports.

Now, now, of course that isn't what it really says. I just made that up so we could imagine the reaction if it were true. Here's the true story:

"Republicans are planning a political fundraiser two days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that will feature a homeland security chat by former governor James S. Gilmore III (R) and will reward major donors with lapel pins honoring the Pentagon casualties," the Washington Post reports.

That's My Bush!

Apparently the movie version is even better than the TV show was. Perhaps there's a successor to the Rocky Horrow Show.

I gotta get a copy of this...

Blitzer Time


Glenn Reynolds, Fascist Hatemonger

All the evidence is here.

In An Alternate Reality...

McCain won the Republican primary in the year 2000, both the Weekly Standard and the New Republic endorsed him for president, and TNR was finally free of its liberal taint and could finally own up to what it was - a Center-Right magazine.

But, now they're stuck looking like fools trying to prop up Joe Lieberman.

Look, all, in 1992 Clinton had some success running "against" his own party because a) he at least appeared to be an outisder, b) the Democrats were, like in charge of Congress, and c) a general anti-government, anti-people in power sentiment was sweeping the nation. But, Lieberman's cunning plan to try and kick a dead donkey to propel himself into the presidency is just idiotic.


God, John Lott is still lying, and lying about really stupid things.

How Many More...

Digby on 'Two Straws.'


Unemployment at 6.1% and payrolls declining 93,000. Over to Max.

If Only Things Were Funny

Remember when Iraq had WMDs that were going to kill us all? And then they had WMD programs which would kill us all REAL SOON NOW? Now, it appears that the real danger wasn't that Iraq had WMDs or that they had WMD programs it's that the sought to have WMD programs.

"The issue I think has been the capability that Iraq sought to have ... WMD programs," Bolton said at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Comical Wolfy

Marshall has his number. Of course, Wolfowitz is just spewing the same crap Instahack and the rest of the right wing glee club are. Must be fun looking like fools.

Perhaps the Krenis puts it best:

Just four months after Operation Flight Suit, the superpower has become a supplicant to nations it used to insult. Mission accomplished!

Sneak and Peak

So, I'm watching this Nigthline show about the Patriot Act. Forget partisan issues - I realize most Democrats voted for the I love babies and mom and apple pie, I mean Patriot Act. But, do any of the conservatarian trolls really support the government (think CLENIS) having the right to do secret searches?

Foley Out

Out of contention for Senator from Florida, anyway.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Big Government

The Bush administration is turning the Federal Government into a national patronage machine, turning civil service jobs into private sector jobs. More of them.

That Crazy Michael Moore

Tom Tomorrow gives us the evolving spin on the Bin Laden Family Flights.

Lesson for the Dems II

From Patrick Leahy:

Among the nominees we consider today is Steven Colloton, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Mr. Colloton’s confirmation process has been very smooth, and stands in stark contrast to an earlier nominee to the Eighth Circuit from Iowa, Bonnie Campbell. Ms. Campbell, a former attorney general of Iowa, a former head of the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, a nominee who had the support of both of her home state senators including Senator Grassley, did not ever receive a vote before this Committee following the hearing on her nomination. Neither the nominee nor we were ever told why the Republican majority refused to accord her nomination a Committee vote, and when given the chance to do right by her, President Bush instead decided to withdraw her nomination.

Today Mr. Colloton is being accorded a vote in Committee to recommend his nomination to the full Senate. I have great respect for the Iowa Senators, and I trust them, as I did with Ms. Campbell.

Obviously the Republicans are misogynists.

Pension Time Bomb

Why we (heart) Social Security. Any private pension scheme, or investment fund, is subject to bankruptcy or looting. There's no way to have confidence in the enforcement of contracts over a period of 50+ years.

Fear of a Brown Planet

The O.C. Weekly has a fair and balanced look at the MEChA-Nazi-Commies.

Lesson for the Dems

As the Republicans demonstrated throughout the unholy reign of the Clenis, you can block as many judicial nominees as you want and no one will give a damn.

You've let in enough of Starr's panty-sniffers, don't let in anymore

Stealing Music

I don't want to discuss the morality and legality of file-sharing. I'd instead like to to stipulate that regardless of the rightness or wrongness of it, it's not going to go away.

Having said that, I really just don't believe that it has had a significant impact on CDsales. Sure, I bet purchases by college kids has dropped off somewhat. On the other hand, back in the dark ages when I was in college, we all spent hours copying each others CDs onto cassette. Back before George Bush raised the federal beer tax, 16 bucks got you almost all the way to a half keg, and you know where our priorities were.

But for older fogies like me who might engage in a bit of music downloading (not that I'd ever do such a thing of course!), I really can't imagine that the time and effort to download and burn a quality full copy of a CD is worth it. If I were to engage in such activities, I might imagine that it would involve "trying it before you buy it," and if I liked something I'd get the CD and if I didn't I'd delete the files, or at the very least just not listen to them which is almost the same thing.

The thing is, it's obvious that the music industry's promotional organ has lost the thread. All the homogenization of and payola in the radio business means that there's little chance of hearing any kind of variety new music unless you seek it out. Now, this has been a standard complaint for a long time but it seems to only get worse. The industry focuses on trying to get a mega-hit, a strategy which surely sacrifices long term revenue streams. Of course I have no way of knowing this, not being privvy to their numbers, but it's doubtful that anyone will be actually buying Britney's or [insert latest pop phenomenon]'s CD 5 years from now. Bands which manage to build up a dedicated fan base will continue to sell their old stuff and have a built in bunch of fanboys (and girls) ready to purchase their latest without need for an expensive marketing campaign.

Creating "the latest sensation" is surely the way to get promoted, but it hardly seems to be the way to keep the money flowing into your company year after year.

Shorter George Bush

We are now in the era of personal responsibility, in which other people should be blamed for everything that is wrong with the economy.


Obviously the trade embargo on Cuba has done nothing to destabalize the Castro regime and if anything it probably helps keep him in power. Having actually visited Cuba (yes, legally), I can make a few observations about the place, which might dispel some myths which both Left and Right cling to about the place (and, no, I'm not saying that because I went there for a few days I'm an expert on the place). Gross generalizations of course, so usual caveats for such things apply.

  • Cubans don't like Castro much, but they distrust and dislike the American government even more (though, they like Americans and inevitably have several brothers daughters and cousins and aunts who are living somewhere in the U.S.) Castro is successful enough at turning American assaults on him as American assaults on Cuba and Cubans. While I have no doubt that some of the rallies at the anti-Imperialist Park (conveniently located in front of the American "not an Embassy") are filled with Castro flunkies, outrage about things such as the Elian Gonzalez event are genuine.
  • Cuba sucks. Life is hard. While they may get "free medical care," they also have no drugs or equipment, etc. You largely get what you pay for in that sense. Havana was once a beautiful city, with street after street of beautiful buildings of all architectural styles. They are almost all now sad slums. Most buildings have had zero maintenance or paint jobs for 40 years. One of my bigoted trolls accused MEChA of trying to foment a communist revolution by having "cultural exchanges" with Cuba. Nothing will cure one's fondness for some misplaced ideals faster than a trip to Cuba.
  • Cuba doesn't suck in quite the ways that the Right thinks it does. There is (now) much more freedom of religion than there once was. The status of gay people, which is oddly a concern of the Right only in other countries, has greatly improved. At least in Havana, plenty of gays are out - rainbow flags and ribbons and pins, as well as small "out and proud" type parades seem common. Contrary to some propaganda, AIDS patients are not put in camps for life. They are temporarily removed from society, given treatment and education for a few months, and then allowed to reintegrate. I believe, but am not sure, that even this is only "required" if one desires treatment. In either case, while one can find obvious objections to this practice it isn't quite as draconian as it is often portrayed.

    In addition, life goes on. Cuba is not North Korea. The people do not live in an impenetrable cultural and propaganda bubble. People have access to plenty of international media and information (perhaps 'plenty' should be 'some'.) While one does not have political freedom in any sense (organization, expression, etc...), this matters less at the individual level that one might imagine. Again, I'm not in anyway defending this or trying to minimize it, I'm just saying that for most people life goes on. If the US government started locking up and/or executing substantial numbers of political dissidents, by branding them as "terrorist supporters," for most people life would go on as normal as well.

  • Cuba sucks economically. Life is hard. Government wages and rations barely cover subsistence for people. Much of life is spent trying to get that little necessary extra, by scamming a buck out of a tourist, catching a fish, bartering with your neighbors, etc. In addition, a two-tiered economy is growing, with those who have "tourist jobs" getting additional valuable hard currency. But, even with hard currency they have limited access to goods. Housing conditions suck. There is no money for maintenance. Having devoted most of the country's fertile land to tobacco and sugar, there is not sufficient food at times.

  • Lifting the US travel ban would probably do more for the Cuban economy than lifting the trade embargo itself would. Currently European tourism is propping up the country, as European companies purchase the country, building tourist resorts and hotels, bit by bit.

  • The travel ban itself is a joke, and the Cuban community who support it largely hypocrites. People of Cuban descent can go to Cuba yearly to visit family, and many obtain waivers which give them limitless travel. Many mules travel the Miami-Havana route constantly, carrying goods and money either for black market sale or as gifts to family members still in Cuba. Customs agents look the other way on both ends.

Brief Bio

Atrios is the pseudonym of Duncan Black, a 32 year old recovering economist living in Center City Philadelphia. This blog has been online since April, 2002, and currently gets an average of over 100,000 visits per day.

Estrada Out

Out of contention for a judicial nomination, that is. Cue wingnuts, fresh off their MEChA jihad, explaining how this proves that liberals and Democrats are anti-Latino.

More Ethnic Separatism

Oh My God!

Hillel's mission is to maximize the number of Jews doing Jewish with other Jews.

Segregationists on our college campuses! Where is the outrage? Why aren't these people being condemned?

Insidious Plot Uncovered


The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is the major advocate in Washington, DC for nearly 25 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group.

Its mission is to preserve and protect Italian American heritage and culture. Through its many programs, the NIAF:

*Helps young Italian Americans with their educations and careers
*Works closely with Congress and the White House to promote the appointment of Italian Americans in government
*Encourages the teaching of Italian language and culture in U.S. schools
*Monitors the portrayal of Italian Americans by the news and entertainments industries
*Strengthens cultural and economic ties between Italy and the US

Working to have Italian replace English, and plotting to take over the government. These people must be stopped.


Now our bungling fools are getting their foreign policy advice from movies. Of course, they'll inevitably miss the actual lesson to be learned from it.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congrats to the 413K new jobless!

The Puke Funnel

David Neiwert tracks the MEChA meme.

In other words, for perhaps the first time since the early days of the civil-rights era, we have seen a mainstream, clearly multiculturalist organization being broadly portrayed as "racist." And if MEChA is "racist," in short order we will be hearing that the NAACP and the Urban League and the ADL and other ethnic "uplift" organizations, too, are "racist." Which, as I mention, is what white supremacists have been claiming for years.

The logical end point of this meme is the spread of the belief that multiculturalism itself is a kind of racism, an argument we also see in the easy dismissal of "identity politics" by people like Reynolds and Mickey Kaus.

Frog Funnies

Who said the French didn't have a sense of humor? Check out this AFP photo/caption.

Triumph of the Will

How long will George "stolen debate tape" Will be allowed to spew his crap...

All signs point to: forever.

Michael Moore, Not So Crazy After All

So, the NYT is on this. White House is not commenting.

The article depicts an elaborate but hurried evacuation carried out within a week of the hijackings in which private planes picked up Saudis from 10 cities. Some aviation and bureau officials said they were upset by the operation because the government had not lifted flight restrictions for the general public, but those officials said they lacked the power to stop the evacuation, the article says.


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Krugman Book Shipping

Order yours now!

Perles of Wisdom

Thank God for the death of the UN

Its abject failure gave us only anarchy. The world needs order

March 21, 2003:

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The "good works" part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions.


The most dangerous of these states are those that also possess weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is one, but there are others. Whatever hope there is that they can be persuaded to withdraw support or sanctuary from terrorists rests on the certainty and effectiveness with which they are confronted. The chronic failure of the security council to enforce its own resolutions is unmistakable: it is simply not up to the task. We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a threat to a new world order, we should recognise that they are, by default, the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of the abject failure of the UN.

After reading the title, it suddenly hit me - Perle's just been watching too much goddamn Babylon 5.

Revised State Department Terminology

From Uggabugga.

Looks Young Enough to Fight to Me

Go, Stanley, go! Our military needs you!

American Masters

A show about Kazan, McCarthy, Miller, etc...On PBS now, ET.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Who continue to lie about the lies they lied about when they were lying. And whatnot.

Coo Coo ca Choo

When eggs appear, Drudge gets excited.

And, Drudge shares this:


Thanks, O'Lielly!

Identity Politics is Great

As long as it's about confederate identity. You know, celebrating slavery and treason and the like.

Here it Comes

As Arthur Silber notes:

If you doubted my point about the religious fervor of the true believers' mentality, take a look at this entry. (But damn it, providing a link to that place I just delinked!) The fact that we need to go to the U.N. is the fault of all those who oppose the administration's foreign policy. It can't be that the policy itself might be deluded, or correct but badly executed, or any other explanation. Oh, no: it's the fault of anyone who even dares to criticize what we are doing. Here's a prediction: look for much more of this kind of thing. And if you thought the debate just before and during the war got unpleasant, you ain't seen nothing yet.

These people are truly demented. It's hard not to conclude that it all doesn't stem from some massive insecurity complex. They can't be happy running all branches of government and dominating the media. Oh No, that's Not Enough. They can't be happy until everybody on the planet agrees with every stupid slimy un-American word that comes out of their mouths.

Wow! A New Book By a Racist!

Jonah Goldberg is wetting his pants over it he's so excited.

(via NMMNB)

"Audit Everything"

This is Arnold's solution to California's budget problems.

Chocolate Makers

Oh yes, we're still displaying our mastery of diplomacy...

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States sneered at plans by four European countries to create an autonomous European military command headquarters near Brussels separate from NATO (news - web sites), referring to the idea's proponents as "chocolate makers."

In unusually blunt language that drew surprised gasps from reporters, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher scoffed at Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg for continuing to support the proposal that they first introduced at a mini-summit in April.

He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them collectively as "the chocolate makers."

This would all be funny if these buffoons weren't killing our soldiers and trying to usher in the rapture by screwing up North Korea.

Poor Wolf

He's gonna need a big drink after this one.

Fascinating, if True

So, remember when crazy people like Michael Moore (and probably me until it had been "debunked") went around saying that the Bin Laden family had been allowed to fly - and then fly out of the country - immediately after 9/11 and before normal travel was allowed in our airspace. Remember when everyone was claiming that no, no, no... they did leave, but they left after normal flights had resumed.

According to Sky "Yes, that's one of Rupert's" News, Richard Clarke has said to Vanity Fair that they actually did get permission to get out of Dodge while the airspace was officially closed. They report, you decide:

Members of Osama bin Laden's family were allowed to fly out of the US shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, a senior official has said.

Even though American airspace had been shut down, the Bush administration allowed a jet to fly around the US picking up family members from 10 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Houston.

Anyway, I'd sorta like to see this one confirmed or denied one way or another.

This Should Worry the Might Makes Right Crowd

Billmon makes an interesting point which I hadn't yet seen made so directly:

But the Bush Administration has let the cat out of the bag. It has exposed to the world the limits of U.S. military power -- both ithe size of the forces (divisions, troops) and the relative ineffectiveness of those forces on a complex social and political battlefield like the one America faces in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Even more to the point, Bush has signaled that the financial and political burdens of unilateralism are simply too great for any U.S. administration to carry for long. Forced to choose between greater mobilization at home (more troops, less tax cuts) and compromise abroad, Bush appears to have opted for the latter.

To the extent that this is true, the Captain Cluelesses of the world must be a little unhappy right now. In trying to project an aura of invincibility, we did the opposite.


Of course, cue the might make right crowd informing us that it's simply the lack of our steely resolve which is to blame.


Identity Politics II

From Salon:

No Republicans returned calls for this story. But the redistricting standoff comes at a time when blacks and Latinos are on track to become majorities in Texas, leading some Texas Democrats to believe Republicans are using redistricting to limit the effect of demographic changes. One exiled Democrat recalls the candid comment of a Republican colleague: "We have 10 years until Hispanics take over."

Pasty chubby white men are the biggest most powerful players in the identity politics game.

Let Them Die

We can blame each death on Bush.


So, earlier on that horrible NPR/Slate thingy Mickey Hackenkaus said he believed that back in the 70s Arnold had just been making up the stories about gang banging to get attention. Since Arnold himself hasn't specifically claimed this (though he has tried to hint it without stating it outright), I'm glad that Mickey is there to tell us what the Arnis wants us to believe.

Hey Mick....Mecha's gonna own Santa Monica in a few years, and there's nothing you can do about it! BWAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Pulling Your Punches

Friedman on Mistah Kurtz's show:

FRIEDMAN: Because we really did not capture the reality of Iraq. What was the reality of Iraq? This country had been driven into a ditch by Saddam Hussein.

I must say, I was shocked to see outside of Baghdad how poor this country is. These are people living in mud huts. This was Babylon with electricity poles.

We defeated the Flinstones in this war, Howard. I mean, this was not some modern army by any stretch of the imagination. That was not captured. I fear sometimes reporters, news organizations pull their punches to get their visas and didn't really capture how much Saddam had driven this country down, which now we, in being responsible to rebuild it, now have to dig it out.

It's hard to imagine anything more pathetic than seeing someone with a twice weekly column in the Paper of Record complaining about the lack of press attention to a particular issue. I mean, if I had 730 words in the NYT twice a week I'd hopefully use them for something other than spewing an unending stream of bad metaphors.

But, okay, maybe Tom didn't quite understand what was going on in Iraq until his recent visit. Fair enough. However... I'm pretty sure I missed the Friedman column where he got outraged about the fact that the Bush administration was apparently making visas to Iraq for journalists contingent on receiving favorable coverage of Operation Enduring Shit.

Perhaps he should stop pulling his punches.

UPDATE: Perhaps Friedman was referring to the pre-war coverage of Iraq. In which case, it's a somewhat different issue. But, still, the general point remains. Maybe he should just ask his bosses at the New York Effing Times if they had a policy of providing favorable coverage to maintain their access.

Acceptable Discourse from Armchair Murderers

So a good Reverend, collar and all, just said on CNN that the to-be-executed abortion doctor killer of course did the right thing in killing the doctor and saving the "32 innocent lives." By obvious implication, the sweet and lovely Reverend is doing the wrong thing by not grabbing a shotgun and going on an abortion doctor killing spree.

God will not be pleased.

Ha Ha

I think Al Franken should hire Jesse to be a writer on his new radio show.*

Make sure to send your resume here...

*Assuming it's a go.

Party of Personal Responsibility

From CNN:

MALVEAUX: John, another part of the strategy is for the president essentially to say: It is not my fault, the situation that we're in now.

He says that, of course, he inherited the recession. He talks about 9/11, the terrorist attacks that hit the economy, corporate corruption, the war on terror, the fact that he has moved every step of the way to remedy those situations, and that he should get a chance at a second term.

Beware the Photo Op

I believe it's Molly Ivins who points out that if you want to know what popular program Bush is going to cut next, you should check his most recent photo op. The mother of all administration photo ops is on its way...

Identity Politics

CNN: 6 am to 11pm and Main Weekend Talk Shows:

I've put the post here due to bandwidth complaints (it's a bunch of pictures).

(And, in the process I somehow managed to change the time on this post... )

DVD Release

Hey, Angel Season 2 is out.

(damn I wish someone would get me a copy of Buffy Season 2 already...)

Franken Excerpt


"[M]ainly it was Coleman’s proxies who played it dirty," Al Franken writes. "The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) ran an ad called ‘Pork’ that hit the hypocrisy jackpot. It savaged Wellstone for voting ‘to spend thousands of dollars to control seaweed in Maui,’ claiming that he prioritized seaweed control over national defense. In fact, Wellstone did vote for S.1216, as did Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott and 84 other senators. That bill did appropriate the seaweed control spending—but it also provided $21 billion for veterans’ health care, $27 billion for veterans’ compensation and pensions, and block grants to assist New York City’s recovery from 9/11. The NRSC was chaired that year by Bill Frist, who later replaced Lott as Senate majority leader. Before the memorial, Frist spoke with the Wellstones’ older son, David, who later recounted the conversation to me.

"‘I’m sorry about your parents and your sister,’ Frist told David.

"‘Did you authorize the seaweed ad against my dad?’ David asked.

"‘Yes,’ said Frist.

"‘And did you vote for the seaweed bill?’

"There was a pause. They both knew that the answer was yes. Finally, Frist said, ‘It wasn’t personal.’

"‘My dad took it personal,’ David said. ‘Thanks for coming to my family’s memorial.’"

If you need a pick-me-up after that, you can always go back and reread the chapter "You Know Who I Don’t Like? Ann Coulter."

The Final Word on MECHA

From David Neiwert. The fact that people like InstaHack and the numerous trolls are unable to differentiate between MECHA and La Voz de Aztlan tells us something about them.

Oh, and Ted Barlow has the last last word, too. Apparently La Voz de Aztlan has endorsed Arnold.

...just want to stand by my earlier contention of "bring it on." The Republicans and their henchmen like Krauthammer are doing wonders to drive Latinos to the Demcoratic party by equating the Latino equivalent of Hillel with the KKK.

Franken on Letterman

Two thumbs up. Those on the Left Coast can still catch it.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Fair Trade

A couple people have pointed out that it is more than possible that Bush's new belief in "fair trade" will likely revolve around gutting those "unfair regulations" which ruin "American competitiveness."

Odd those unfair regulations didn't seem to matter during the unholy reign of the Clenis.

Richard Chamberlain is GAY?!?!??!!?

Larry King just called it a "shocking revelation." The probability that King, like everyone else in 'the business,' hasn't known this for years is about 0.

But, in case it's news to you buy the book.

The Lying Years

A Dick Cheney flashback, thanks to Al Franken... (p.218)

..Then you cross the Potomac, on approach to the Pentagon. But just before you settle down on the landing pad, you like upon Arlington National Cemetary, its gentle slopes and crosses row on row.

I never once made that trip without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans, and what a terrible price thousands have paid so that all of us - and millions more around the world - might live in freedom.

From his speech to the RNC in 2000.


It appears that George Bush is going to gamble that the conservatarians don't really care too much about that whole free trade thing after all, and will instead pick up some agriculture/textile/rust belt votes.

Of course, he's making the right gamble. The conservatarians really only have one ideology - hating Democrats. Oh, and tax cuts.

So, now prices will rise, third world countries will get screwed again, etc...

Just What the Country Needs

Another Republican who can't keep his zipper zipped.

Actually, I have no idea if infidelity played any role in the sudden separation of Governor Owens and his wife, but if it does I'm putting Howie Kurtz on notice that he'd better include that line when he writes about it.

And if he can't think of OTHER prominent Republicans whose zippers are abnormally affected by gravity, I'll be happy to provide a list.

Lord Help Them All

...if this is true.
SOLDIERS and civilians in Iraq face a health timebomb after dangerously high levels of radiation were measured around Baghdad.

Levels between 1,000 and 1,900 times higher than normal were recorded at four sites around the Iraqi capital where depleted uranium (DU) munitions have been used across wide areas.

And, uh, Amurcan media? This is a pretty easy one to check. I'm pretty sure you can find $199.95 in your budgets somewhere for one of these:

Though, because I care so deeply about you all, I also suggest you spring for one of these:

Might be a bit hot in there, but your chromosomes will thank me.

Wish Blitzer Happy Labor Day

Go vote in his poll.

That Coalition

Thank God Azerbaijan, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan are still on board. I retract all earlier pessimism.

Al's Still #1

This is pretty impressive, really. I'm about half way through the book and I'm quite pleasantly surprised, and not because I had low expectations.

Oh, and let's hope his promised sequel "I Fucking Hate Those Right Wing Motherfuckers!" wasn't just a joke...

Happy Labor Day

Go kiss a union member* then read this from Nathan Newman.

*Please get permission first.

Good news: US workers most productive in world. Bad news: It's only because we work more hours.

Good news: New jobless claims drop below 400,000 for a couple weeks in a row. Bad news: It isn't enough to cause unemployment to fall.

Quagmires and Root Causes

Kieran Healy has an analysis of both.

There’s some irony — but maybe also some hope — in how the official position on Iraq has evolved. As it has moved away from dealing directly with Al-Qaeda and towards reconstructing the entire political economy of the Middle-East, the administration’s actions have inevitably begun to imply an analysis of terrorism focused on root-causes. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, any talk of root causes was dismissed as watery left-wing handwringing. Terrorists were simply evil and there was no point in thinking about their origins any further. Now the official view is that the way to eliminate terrorism is to turn countries that produce them into capitalist democracies. If there is a realistic exit strategy from Iraq, it may depend on having believable measures of terrorism’s root-causes. It’ll be interesting to see the people who sneered at the very idea of thinking in those terms eventually pointing to such measures as evidence of the success of their policies.

How to Sell Books

Should we put this cover on it...

Or maybe this one...

Same author, same number of pages, different publishers...

(thanks to hoffmania)

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Moral Clarity

Bush on gays:

Maxey said Bush once took him aside to draw a line between his personal relationships and his politics.

"He pulled me over really close, almost nose-to-nose, and said, 'Glen, I like you as a person. I respect you as a human being. I want you to know that what I say publicly about gay people doesn't apply to you,'" Maxey recalled in a telephone interview.

Maxey, who was angered by Bush's opposition to gay adoption, said he replied, "Governor, when you say that a gay person is not fit to be a parent, you're talking about me."

I'm sure we can look forward to the spin on this being "See! Bush isn't against gays! He just exploits anti-gay bigotry to obtain power!" as if that makes it better somehow.

When in doubt...

obsess about the Clenis.

But, regardless of the failures of the Clinton administration - real, imagined, or simply made up - the question is, what did the Bush administration do?

Some Harsh Words

From the normally mild-mannered man from (shudder) O.C.

Unconventional Wisdom on Clark

I like Wesley Clark. Given what I know about him I'd probably like him as a president, and I think it's possible that given enough time and organization in an alternative universe he could be a strong general election candidate.

But, I'm going against what seems to be the opinon of people like Gene Lyons, Joe Conason, Robert Kuttner, and others, who think that at the very least a Clark primary entrance will shake up the primary. I really don't think Clark's running will have much more impact on the overall primary - both the process and outcome - than if I threw my hat into the ring.

Note that this isn't my wish - as I've said I think he could possibly make a good general election candidate if he managed to get there. I just think he's an "insider's outsider." Unlike other Former Generals, like Ike or Powell, Clark hasn't built up any kind of national brand.

Anyway, I don't really care if I'm wrong on this one. I do think he's a little bit of white knight candidate for people, which I don't think is such a good thing if I'm *right*, but if I'm wrong it matters not one bit.

This Is Creepy From Start to Finish

Through the goddamn Looking Glass we've gone:

Posner elaborates in startling detail how U.S. interrogators used drugs—an unnamed "quick-on, quick-off" painkiller and Sodium Pentothal, the old movie truth serum—in a chemical version of reward and punishment to make Zubaydah talk. When questioning stalled, according to Posner, cia men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where "two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces," pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.

Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden "personally" told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom. The Pakistani contact, high-ranking air force officer Mushaf Ali Mir, entered the equation, Zubaydah said, at a 1996 meeting in Pakistan also attended by Zubaydah. Bin Laden struck a deal with Mir, then in the military but tied closely to Islamists in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), to get protection, arms and supplies for al-Qaeda. Zubaydah told interrogators bin Laden said the arrangement was "blessed by the Saudis."

Jack Shafer, Idiot

So, I was hunting around for Jack Shafer's recent idiocy equating Sean Hannity with Joe Conason, when I came across this article about Donahue. It's amazing one can write an entire article about why Phil Donahue was doomed to failure on MSNBC without mentioning one key fact... PHIL DONAHUE WAS THEIR HIGHEST RATED GODDAMNED show.

One of Shafer's brilliant observations is that cable news audiences skew right... MAYBE THAT'S BECAUSE CABLE NEWS SKEWS RIGHT.

And, since MSNBC'S RATINGS have FALLEN ACROSS THE BOARD since FIRING DONAHUE, maybe there's a lesson there, eh Jackie boy? Maybe MSNBC's little marketing plan ain't so hot? Maybe if they'd stuck 2 more liberals alongside Donahue, in addition to not forcing him to put on so many D-list conservatives on, their ratings would have gone up.

Where's Shafer's column about what a mistake it was to continue to emloy Chris Matthews, or their strategic blunder in hiring Joe Scarborough now that their ratings have dropped?
Sorry for the caps, you know what it takes to get through to idiots.

And I don't even like Phil Donahue.

Jeebus. Someone get me a Slate column, so I can get paid for being this stupid.

Two Dead in Afghanistan

Remember that.

EPA Lies, Whitman's Husband's Company Saves Money


In her first interview since the release of the report, Whitman tells NEWSWEEK that she did not object when the White House edited out cautionary notes by EPA scientists. “We didn’t want to scare people,” she said, explaining that spikes in asbestos readings tended to return quickly to acceptable levels. She believes that much of the data were open to interpretation, and that the public wasn’t harmed by the White House’s decision to adopt the more reassuring analysis. But New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is calling for an investigation, saying she knows how the White House works and that somebody surely leaned on the EPA to lie. “We were not told to lie,” says Whitman.

What, scare them into taking precautions like trying to keep their LITTLE KIDS AWAY FROM THE GROUND ZERO AREA AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE?

EPA’s former ombudsman said soon after 9/11 that Whitman had a conflict of interest because of her husband’s connection to Citigroup, which owns Travelers Insurance. By pronouncing lower Manhattan safe, critics say, Whitman saved the insurance giant millions in cleanup costs. Whitman was cleared of the conflict by the EPA inspector general. “There’s no way in hell—excuse my language—that I would ever, ever play games with this kind of information.”


According to the folks at Usenet, the Boss plugged Al Franken's book at his concert last night.

I used to like Bruce Springsteen back when he was playing music, but now that he's become more political I think he's just shrill.-Random MBF

R. Robot

Make sure to check out R. Robot, the right wing pundit-bot, from time to time.

69% Want UN in Charge

God what a bunch of America haters. Even a majority of Republicans feel this way.

(link thanks to Arthur Silber)

More on Arnie and US English

From Nathan Newman.

...and Body and Soul.