Saturday, September 20, 2003

Entire Reserve on War Footing

God, they really are going to succeed in creating a military with a 'hollow middle.'

More Truth from the Strib


Bush is wrong. He's trying to spin what Cheney said. It's true that the vice president didn't come right out and say the Iraq-Sept. 11 link exists. But he certainly implied it in ever so many ways. He said he wasn't surprised that 70 percent of the American people believe the link exists. He said, "We don't know" if there is a link, when he could and should have said, "We have no evidence of such a link." That would have been so much more honest.

Cheney also said that success in Iraq would strike a blow at the "geographic base" of the terrorists behind Sept. 11, a statement that left people asking, "Huh?" He was clearly trying to have it both ways: avoid an explicit statement that could be proven wrong while still spinning the question with all he had -- which was very little.

Defenders of the administration want to label those who have doubts about the truthfulness of the White House as "liberals" or "anti-American" or "unpatriotic." Those labels are just so much name-calling. There's nothing liberal or conservative, unpatriotic or anti-American about being upset that those who hold the highest offices in the land somehow find it impossible to level with the American people on such serious matters as national security and foreign policy.

If lies about private, consensual, albeit adulterous, sex can bring the impeachment of a president, it's not remotely wrong to raise questions about misstatements on issues that go to the very survival of this nation

Cost Benefit Analysis


I heard an estimate that it would take $8 billion per year to inspect all shipping containers coming into U.S. ports. At $160 billion and climbing for Iraq, this means we could have inspected all those crates for 20 years. Feel safer yet?

William Chapman

San Diego

Help Talk Left

Jeralyn needs a bit of help.

Even More Librarians

Dave Appell raises the question, as have others, whether libraries are being contacted under Patriot Act powers or previously existing powers. It's a fair question, which is why I've been in "questioning" mode when I've posted on this. I'd like some answers. The immediate question is - was Ashcroft lying? The second question is - if these powers aren't being used, then why are they needed?

More on Librarians

Viet "Clenis Envy" Dinh appears to have contradicted Ashcroft's claim in testimony to congress. Is Ashcroft lying? Come on reporters, do some reporting!

The Trouble with Metaphors

Calpundit wonders if Wesley Clark is irresponsibly suggesting we should invade Egypt when he says the following:

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and to a lesser extent, Egypt, those are the central fronts in the war on terror.

This really highlights the problem of even calling it "the war and terror," combined with the conflation of an actual war - the invasion of Iraq - with the "war on terror." Like the "war on drugs" it's just a metaphor. However, unlike the "war on drugs," it's a hideously horribly bad one (As opposed to a just basically bad one). "War on terror" is a metaphor for a global police and intelligence operation, backed up with the usual diplomatic carrots and sticks that these things need. So, no one should think that Clark is suggesting we invade Egypt or Pakistan when we use that language, but of course they might now that we've pretended the Iraq invasion and the operation to minimize global terrorism are one and the same.

16 Words

Jerome Doolittle finds a soldier who sums up the Bush foreign policy in 16 words.

I know they hate my guts, but they can’t say so because I’ve got a gun.

The Fantasies They Believed

You know, if I were the Bushies I'd be figuring out how to get Chalabi's head on a pike. It's pretty cleary they bought his fantasies wholesale, and that's largely the reason why they screwed the pooch.

Representatives of the Iraqi National Congress, however, claimed to control a vast underground network that would rise in support of coalition forces to assist security and law enforcement. They insisted that the entire Iraqi Army be immediately disbanded. The Pentagon agreed, in the end leading many Iraqi soldiers who might otherwise have been willing to work with the coalition to take up arms against it. Mr. Chalabi's promised network didn't materialize, and the resulting power vacuum contributed to looting, sabotage and attacks against American forces.

Shorter David Brooks

If only brown people would try and be more like me, with my sense of the universal eligibility to be noble, their lives would be much better.


All Their Dreams Torn Asunder

I'm not sure I agree with everything in this Newsweek column, but it does provide an interesting perspective on some things (and, when Newsweek is willing to run an article entitled 'The French Were Right' you know something's up.) Particularly in its closing:

Because the bitterest contradiction of all may be that this war was waged—first and foremost—to save face after the humiliation and suffering of September 11. It was meant to inspire awe in the Arab and Muslim world, as former CIA operative Marc Reuel Gerecht and others insisted it should be. And in that it truly has failed. Every day we look weaker. And the worst news of all it that it’s not because of what was done to us by our enemies but because of what we’ve done to ourselves.

In the end, this was the reason why most of the warbloggers were so in love with this endeavor. Afghanistan just didn't satisfy their bloodlust, so they wanted to go punch someone else. Anyone else. The Neocons were on record all over the place (pre and post 9/11) discussing the need to project American might through a major military conquest so that nations would tremble before us. It isn't an agenda I'd sign up for, but aside from that the the obvious problem with is that if it fails - and regardless of what eventually unfolds in Iraq it already has failed - the consequences aren't desirable. I may not want projecting our military might to be the cornerstone of our foreign policy, but I sure as hell don't want projecting our weakness to be it either.

On a related note, the military is going to have a big retention and recruiting problem...

Local Control

Charles Kuffner brings us a lovely tale of a Houston Congressman doing his best to obstruct the will of his constituents.

Reader rp fleshes the story out some more:

This is a story about a big city called Houston, my local Republican congressman by the name of John Culberson, & mass transit.
The Metropolitan Authority of Harris County has built a light rail line that is supposed to open on Jan 2004. This Nov.4, there will be a bond election on the next segment of rail to be built. However, Rep. John Culberson has announced he has gotten the Federal Transit Administration to agree to make Houston ineligible for federal transit funds because of the current ballot language, that is, the ballot doesn't list all the rail segments to be voted on. This would effectively kill the rail plan.

What is interesting is that Culberson is also pushing the expansion of I-10 in West Houston. The Texas Dept. of Transportation's plan calls for building ten lanes in each direction [!]. Some people object to this. They are suing TXDoT to stop construction. They also want room left on the freeway for future rail. The current plan for expanding the freeway was speeded up when the Harris County Toll Road Authority announced it would build a toll road down the middle of the Katy Freeway. HCTRA is controlled by the Harris Co. Commissioner's Court, which is controlled by County Judge Robert Eckels and two other Republican Commissioners. Judge Eckels has stated he thinks that the transportation needsof the Houston area could be filled by the Toll Road Authority building more highways. He also has talked about building a toll road through Memorial Park, Houston's biggest, on railroad right-of-way. The Toll Road Authority has previously talked about building a bridge to replace the Bolivar ferry in Galveston County ,and seems to be interested in building part of the Grand Parkway in Brazoria County .

All of this raises questions about why Rep. Culberson is trying to keep Houston from having a rail system like Dallas . John Culberson could be defined as a cheap-labor conservative, who mistrusts public transportation or other public infastructure. He also may want to increase the power of Judge Robert Eckels by increasing the power of the Toll Road Authority. He may want to make developement in the Houston area keep heading outward towards the Grand Parkway instead of being refocused inside Loop 610. No matter, I just wish folks will tell him to stop.

The anti-rail fanaticism really confuses me. The highway fetish freaks out in LA and OC in California have fantasies about double decking all the highways, which is the only way to do much expansion without starting to knock down lots of properties, and I don't think mowing down entire neighborhoods like they once did to construct urban highways is gonna fly anymore.

I'm not very familiar with the Houston area, but from what I understand they have in spades that problem that many areas increasingly have. Since modern subdivisions are frequently built with only one access road to the "main" road (often gated, but either way), you can have huge traffic problems where there really need not be any. There's only one way to get from point A to B, so there's no way for excess traffic to spillover to smaller routes. Obviously it's understandable why people want to restrict traffic access to their cozy neighborhoods, but once everyone does it ...Houston, we have a problem.

I'm a big rail fan, though I recognize that it's only going to "work" if attitudes about land use radically change. Unless it's accompanied by a willingness to allow some transit-oriented development - higher residential and commercial density around the stations instead of giant parking lots and garages - even this fan has to grudgingly admit it's mostly a waste of money. Of course that high density development isn't putting little Manhattans everywhere, it's just putting a modern version of the center of the "small town" we're all supposed to be nostalgic about.

In Orange County, CA, my former home and home to blogger extraordinaire Calpundit, they've been trying to push a light rail system through forever. The people seem to roughly want it (barely), but they just don't want it running through their neighborhoods. I heard a story that years back the then (and now current again) mayor tried to establish a plan for a high density corridor for a proposed rail system, and printed up nice advertising pictures of a small urban center with people strolling and sidewalk dining and whatnot. Opponents took the pictures and added in numerous homeless people and circulated them. There's OC for ya.

Once upon a time the Red Line went all the way to Balboa. Ah, the good old days...

Is Ashcroft Lying?

Ashcroft says no library records have been sought. The libraries claim otherwise. Get him under oath.

Google Conspiracy

So, for the past few days my ISP (comcast cable) has been having intermittent google DNS problems, and today I haven't been able to access it at all (well, I can because I went and looked up the IP address and I can get to it that way).


Bad Oprah, Bad


The sight of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver perched on Oprah Winfrey's sofa and demonstrating the perfection of their marriage made more than a few of the talk-mistress' fans more furious than women scorned, more angry than wet hens and so forth. The message board is crowded with complaints about the appearance of the candidate and adoring wife -- see how he respects women -- on nationwide TV under Winfrey's auspices.

"America's woman role model has let us down," writes one woman. "First she has some rah-rah show on going to war with Iraq," writes another, "and now this. It makes me sick. I am no fan of hers anymore."

"As a Californian," writes a woman, "I am offended that Oprah is doing an interview with the one celebrity candidate and his famous wife. . . . We are already seeing our legitimate votes, rendered last November, hijacked by a media circus, with Arnold serving as ringleader. Oprah, don't pander to your famous friends, please."

I had heard a few reports about her pro-war show. Apparently it was a an hour (someone says 3?) of Tom Friedman waxing metaphoric about death and destruction as the jaws of the audience dropped closer and closer to the floor.

Hint, Oprah - some of their kids are in Iraq. No one you know is.

Oprah long ago lost any connection to her audience. I don't know why she still has one.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Shorter Tom Friedman

Billmon nails it.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Bush's good friend Berlusconi is another one.




This really is just unbelievable. I mean, I don't even know where to begin. Thank Jeebus it's almost happy hour.

More on Saletan

He's reaching Kausian heights of hackdom. In comments below, Technical Blandishmentiser provides this:

Yesterday, a Saletan co-authored a horrible hack job on Kucinich (one of a series on Democratic candidates) appeared on Slate.

A sample:

Flip: During a July 1998 Hardball appearance, Kucinich rejected efforts to impeach President Clinton. "To flat out call for an impeachment without the evidence takes us back to Alice in Wonderland," said Kucinich.

Flop: In October 1998, Kucinich voted to impeach Clinton and force a Senate trial.

I looked it up. Lewinsky's testimony was delivered in August, same as Bill Clinton. The Starr report came out in September. For the calendar-impaired, AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER COME BETWEEN JULY AND OCTOBER. Regardless of what you think of the impeachment vote etc., application of the term "flip-flop" to a change of view in the light of evidence is gross misreprentation.

Ergo: Saletan (and his co-author) are vicious (as in, filled with vice) hacks.

The fact that Kucinich voted for impeachment is yet another reason I have little interest in his candidacy, but this is only a flipflop over at
UPDATE 2: Actually, Saletan is completely wrong. The impeachment vote was in December, and Kucinich voted no 4 times.

All together now... HACK!

UPDATE: Slate has now posted a correction.


Bob Somerby notices that Saletan doesn't care too much about the truth.

Threat Matrix

Apparently it's porn for Bush fans.

Bruce Willis at Davis Fundraiser

That's rather odd. Willis was always an uber-Republican - you know, that class of hollywood celebrities that are allowed to express their opinions without being mocked.

Not Worth It

Why do so many Americans hate America?

Fewer than half of Americans (43%) think the war was worth the loss of life and other costs, the lowest number yet in CBS News polls, while more (47%) think it was not worth the costs. Last month, the public was evenly split on this question.

It's these kinds of polls that give aid and comfort to the enemy, whoever they may be. CBS is irresponsible for running the information, and when more soldiers die they will be to blame.

The Horse suggests emailing Tom Friedman about this. Perhaps we could ask if it's time for America to invade America - given how disloyal it is.

The Rule of Law

Ashcroft doesn't think it applies to him.

A federal judge who is considering whether to order Attorney General John Ashcroft to come to Detroit to face contempt charges warned top officials about not violating a gag order nearly a year ago, a court document shows.


At a closed hearing held in October, U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told the No. 2 official in the Justice Department, Larry Thompson, to ensure that no federal official violate his order by leaking information to the public.


At Rosen's direction, Thompson wrote a two-page memorandum on Oct. 16 that was sent to Ashcroft's office reminding officials about the gag order.

Ashcroft is accused of twice violating the gag order.


Rosen should dismiss the request without holding a hearing, said the filing by the U.S. Justice Department on Ashcroft's behalf.

"Compelling the attorney general's appearance to address the defendants' allegations -- where he has not sought to influence the jury's deliberations or the outcome of the defendants' trial -- is inadvisable because it would likely serve only to chill legitimate public briefings in the future," said the 16-page statement.

For Shame

The media know they have failed to do their jobs, and they're too embarrassed to try and correct that mistake.

On a related note Eric Alterman tells us that the press has never bothered to even try and figure out what the hell George Bush was doing on 9/11, and has instead been perfectly happy to digest and regurgitate several competiting versions of events.


Matt Taibbi has a really nice article about the Dean campaign up over at the Nation. At first glance it might look like a somewhat critical view of the campaign, but it's really a meta-riff on campaigns and campaign coverage which is quite interesting. It's quite long in this ADD age, but well worth the read.

(thanks to sdf for the heads up)

Friedman's War

Andrew Greeley makes us all understand why this really is Tom Friedman's war:

''War on terror'' is a metaphor. It is not an actual war, like the World War or the Vietnamese or Korean wars. It is rather a struggle against fanatical Islamic terrorists, exacerbated if not caused by the conflict in Palestine. When one turns a metaphor into a national policy, one not only misunderstands what is going on, one begins to slide toward the big lie. One invades Iraq because one needed a war.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

A Bad Day in Iraq

It's hard to tell what's going on. This BBC report from earlier says at least 3 soldiers dead in an incident in Khaldiyah, though the military hasn't yet commented on this situation. They are however stating that 3 soldiers have died in what seems to be a separate incident in Tikrit. We also have another soldier falling victim to a "non-hostile gunshot incident," and another killed by a power line. There are also several reports of soldiers being wounded.

I Love Republicans

Sometimes they just can't do anything right. The whole Texas redistricting farce is continuing...

Maybe you're thinking of "tornado"

God Sullivan is an idiot.

Friedman Found Crying


Some more righteous Friedman bashing can be foud here and here and here and here and here(scroll down) and here.


Excellent Op-Ed from Max Cleland.

A Puppet Show in Three Acts

Cheney takes one for the team.

If I were in the media, and I knew that I had failed to correct the misperception by 70% of the Amurkan people that Saddam was behind 9/11, I would consider it my responsbility to put this story on page A1, rather than on pages A18 and A22.


We can't let Sullivan have all the fun with his silly awards. In comments, space does the honors:

I hereby grant Tom Friedman the 2003 Colin Powell Award.

This award is bestowed upon a noted person in the field of Foreign Affairs who has completely lost all credibility and dignity in a 12 month period. Recipients are selected based upon their ability to take a reputation for cross-ideological sensibility and totally tarnish it beyond what could have possibly been forseen.

2002 winner, British PM Tony Blair, will not be able to attend the award ceremony as he is busy "sexing up" the Kay Report.

Will add more as I think of them or as they're suggested.

We of course have to give the Marcus Tullius Tiro Lifetime Achievement Award for Stenography to Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post.

Somalia Moment

Kos wonders if yet-to-be-confirmed reports of an incident in which 8 soldiers were killed is a "Somalia moment." Even a "Beirut Moment" wouldn't be a Somalia Moment - the media just won't cover it like they did back when Clinton was in office.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

399K, plus a few they missed last week. Lucky Duckies, every one.

3 Limbs for a Passport

At least he got the passport.



It's time for the NYT to put this guy out to pasture.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Not Going to Take it Anymore

Many have wondered why the Bushies have been clearly distancing themselves from Cheney's appearance on Timmy's show. As Josh Marshall points out, Cheney's behavior hasn't changed - it's the reaction of the press that has changed. After it, some of the press had a "we're just not going to take this crap anymore" tone, which is really a first for this administration. They're just trying to defuse the pack mentality of the press - once it's cool to pile on, they'll keep doing it.


From the Guardian:

Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.
This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear programme.

A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:

· To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;

· To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;

· To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.


Elton Beard has posted the transcript of the Bush exchange with John King.

JOHN KING: Mr. President, Dr. Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld both said yesterday that they could see no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with September 11th. Yet on Meet The Press on Sunday the vice president said that Iraq was the geographic base for the terrorists and he also said "I don't know", "we don't know" when asked if there was any involvement. Your critics say that this is some effort, deliberate effort to blur the line...
GEORGE W. BUSH (interjects): Yeah...

JOHN KING: confuse people. How would you answer that?

GEORGE W. BUSH: No, we've had no evidence that Saddam was involved with the September the 11th..., what the vice president said was that he has been involved with al-Qaeda, and Al Zaqarawi (ph), al-Qaeda operative, in Baghdad, he's the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat, he's a man still running loose, involved with the poisons network, involved with Ansar Al-Islam. There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties.

Cheney on MTP:

Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. With respect to 9/11, of course, we’ve had the story that’s been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we’ve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.

A brief reminder

From Tom Tomorrow:

Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate
March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.


(Emphasis added)

Now There's an Idea...

From the WaPo:

Cheverly, Md.: There's been a lot of talk about Gen. Clark as a vice presidential running mate. With him now running for president, who do you consider to be feasible VP candidates to run alongside him?

John Hlinko and Josh Margulies: To be honest, my favorite candidate is North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad. Why? Just imagine the slogan -- "Clark Kent: A Super Ticket for America"

Boycott Jet Blue

This is pretty incredible.

Zoning Problems

Uh oh.

Barkley says armed men from across the country are ready to occupy that trench to defend him, as he approaches a Thursday court deadline to remove three mobile homes he installed on his land.

In April, District Judge Richard May found that Barkley violated the zoning laws of Bay Township when he brought in the homes without permits. May reaffirmed that ruling Tuesday afternoon, denying a petition by Barkley to rescind his order.

The case has drawn widespread interest from local media outlets, not to mention radio talk shows from Arizona to Texas to Washington.

It also has attracted the scrutiny of patriot and anti-government groups, including a Colorado-based organization that threatens to send 600 armed members to protect Barkley.

Denver resident Rick Stanley, founder of the Second American Revolution Militia Mutual Defense Pact, vowed Barkley will not stand alone.

"They have subverted the intentions of what our forefathers say our government should be," he said. "We have a fascist tyranny.

"I call it the police state of America, and we are going to stop it one way or another," Stanley said.

Better Tell Your Vice President

Bush just now:

"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11" attacks.

If anyone can find the full exchange, let me know, I think he said something about Cheney too.

Hey, Gregg, That's Alleged Extortionist...

Roger Ailes catches Gregg Easterbrook doing a really nasty hit job.SOP over at TNR.

Shell Game

The Liquid List informs us that Ashcroft declassified the library snoop data. Of course, as Tarek says, "there's no indication how thorough the disclosure will be nor if this is a one-time thing or will become an ongoing privacy-based component of the DOJ's work."

Mo Money Mo Money

I forgot to check the totals right before I made my plea, but it looks as if we made Terry Mac $1000 happier today.


Wow, the Strib goes nuclear on the Bushies.

Land Reform

Quite often you'll hear economists throw the phrase 'land reform' around. It's a neutral-sounding rather ambiguous term, and it's generally lumped in with a bunch of other reforms that not-so-developed countries should be doing.

They don't spend a lot of time on it, however, because unlike plenty of other recommended reforms it's the hard one. Most of the time land reform means taking land from massive hereditary land owners and handing the title over to either residential squatters or tenant farmers. This isn't simply about redistribution -- it's about providing clear title to the people who occupy and use the land anyway, which will provide them with assets they can use to obtain credit, etc... Sounds radical, but one way or another it happened throughout Europe during the past century and they seem to be doing okay. For obvious reasons, it's the reform that never seems to happen.

But, it's good news that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela seems to be carrying out some reforms.

Perhaps most important, tens of thousands of people like Lopez have been given title to land that their families have been squatting on for generations, both in poor urban slums like this one and in vast rural tracts. Using new government credits, poor families are planting crops, organizing businesses, fixing up their homes and redesigning their neighborhoods.

For the record, I'm no real fan of Chavez. The largely dishonest propaganda campaign against him has been rather sickening, but there are very good reasons to be wary of him. Still, this is a good step.

Kicking Ass

The DNC has a new blog with a nice in-your-face name. Check it out.

James Carville Wrote Me

Okay, it was Spam. But, it was DNC needs money spam and he's right. The DNC does need money. It's fun to give to your favorite primary candidate, and I'm not going to discourage you from doing that, but during the lull between the primary season and the general campaign (next summer), the DNC are going to be the ones carrying water for the national campaign. They need cash. They need lots of it. They need it now. Go give through this link. If you give enough I get to go hot tubbing with Ann Lewis, Molly Ivins, and Ann Richards. Please help make my dream come true.

Holy Crap

Dear Leader pays tribute to himself.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Okay, I know that my mighty blog isn't as, well, mighty as I'd like to think sometimes. But, nonetheless I'd thought I'd pretty much given (archives bloggered, scroll down to 'george will, then and now) the full smackdown on George "debate tape" Will's credibility. Even the respectable folks at findlaw picked it up.

Nonetheless, the lies of George Will refuse to die.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I Miss the 50s

Ah, the conservative utopia. What is it about the 50s that excites them so?

I mean, from a liberal's point of view we had no minority voting rights (that is, no minorites voting), racial covenants restricting home sales to blacks, jews, etc... So, stuff like that's bad.

What do conservatives miss then? Maybe it was the 91% top marginal tax rate that gets them all nostalgic? No? Poverty rate at 30%? No? Well, then just what the hell was so great about that magical time?

(related post at Calpundit.)



WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he had no reason to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about a poll that indicated nearly 70 percent of respondents believed the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved.

"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that," Rumsfeld said.

Torture Lou!


Shorter Saletan

From B^3.

Digby has a longer but also amusing discussion of Saletan.

Ha Ha

A delightfully nasty cartoon.

Doing the Right Thing

Three cheers to Chrysler for hiring back a former employee who had just been exonerated after 17 years in prison.

More on Lewis

From Orcinus, who says we should contact the senators on the armed services committee, and Joe Conason.

Clark's In

I've expressed my reservations about his entrance for a couple of reasons, but they aren't strong reservations and aren't based on anything negative about him. My guess is he has about a month to "catch fire" and if he doesn't... well, he doesn't.

CalPundit Interviews Krugman

Go take a look.

...then you can buy the book here.

Dumb and Dumber

How dumb is V.D. Hanson? You read here and think "dumb." Then you read here and realize - no, wait, he's even dumber!

Lucky Duckies!

At least they don't have to pay much in taxes:

U.S.-led coalition forces insist that stability is returning to Iraq. The ledger in the Baghdad morgue tells a different tale.

The number of reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Before the war began, the morgue investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms. In June, that number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518. Moreover, the overall number of suspicious deaths jumped from about 250 a month last year to 872 in August.

The Baghdad morgue is beyond full. Refrigeration boxes that usually hold six bodies are crammed with 18. An unidentified corpse is dragged across the floor beneath the blue glow of an insect-repelling light. Five others — two pocked with gunshot wounds — lie on steel tables. With quiet determination, pathologists lift their scalpels, chart their findings and fill the waiting coffins.

Most of the dead here are not casualties of military actions or terrorist attacks, such as last month's bombing of the United Nations headquarters, which killed at least 20 people. Nor are they American soldiers.

Instead, they are everyday civilians, victims of the violence that has become a fact of life in a city that wakes and sleeps to the cadence of gunfire and unrelenting crime. The coalition forces and the new Iraqi police have been unable to stop the torrent of mayhem springing from robberies, carjackings and just plain anger.

eight hundred and seventy two in August. I'm sure Brit "I love my dead gay son" Hume will figure out how this doesn't even exceed the murder rate of Pittsburgh. or something.

(oops. URL fixed)

Even the Republicans...

have polls saying Bush is under 50%.

Everything in this Article is False

How do we know? It's by Judith Miller.

Fictional Reality

So, Drudge has a little teaser for something he probably pulled off the wires:

U.S. sanctions Moscow-owned firm for Iran sales; But Bush doesn't halt aid to Russia in the 'national interests'...

Hmmm... I seem to remember there was a US owned firm which was doing business with Iraq and Iran and boasting about it... I can't quite remember the name though...

Monday, September 15, 2003

If I Were a Lawyer...

I'd consider rounding up a bunch of MEChA members and filing a nice big lawsuit.

And they pull Boondocks for being 'controversial...'


No matter what the laws are, the "serious news media" (snort) has a responsibility to provide some amount of equal time to the top candidates in CA.


Go go go...

Full Circle

We're back to Clinton's North Korea policy...

The End of Torture Wolf

It's time to retire it for now. All he's doing is putting up the main page poll on his page. That's no fun., it's time for TORTURE LOU DOBBS!

p.s. that's the old poll. New one will be up soon.

More Lies

Now Bush is lying about his education budget. Not accidental minor mistake slip-up, but a baldfaced lie.

What will we tell the children?

More on the Recall

From the Liquid List. Tarek rightly points out that the momentum was going "our way." Still, from a purely partisan practical perspective (wow, what alliteration), if this thing gets postponed 'till March it's hard to imagine that being a net Bad Thing.

And, no, I can't imagine the Supremos getting anywhere near this one. They don't want the feces of Bush v. Gore being shoved into their faces.

Wow, Even More Truth Today

On Powell:

While past error is no indication of future action, the Kurds have not forgotten that Secretary of State Colin Powell was then the national security adviser who orchestrated Ronald Reagan's decision to give Hussein a pass for gassing the Kurds. Dick Cheney, then a prominent Republican congressman and now vice president and the Bush administration's leading Iraq hawk, could have helped push the sanctions legislation but did not.

And much of the country hasn't forgotten who was in charge when we let the Iraqi resistance get slaughtered after encouraging them to rise up against Saddam, either.

A responsible administration would stop doing these photo-ops for domestic consumption and propaganda, and start thinking of how to do some photo-ops that might actually please the Iraqis.

The Anti-Globos Were Right

Daniel Davies has a cogent post about what just happened in Cancun. I hope it's widely read. It clearly explains how one can be a "free trader" (As, roughly, I am) and also be an "anti-globo," in the sense of believing that organizations such as the WTO are mostly about wealthier countries attempting to ram an agenda, which has absolutely nothing to do with trade, down the throats of poorer countries.

Recall on Hold


Well, my guess is good for Davis, bad for Arnold, good for Bush as the press will do their best to ignore the Dem candidaates...

Shark Jumping Moment

The speech 8 days ago really was Bush's jump the shark moment. I was shocked about one poll that showed a majority was against the $87+ billion spending request. Now we have another poll which shows a whopping 61% are against it.

Move On, Get Over It

From Big Time Dick:

Sept. 11 is "over with now, it's done, it's history and we can put it behind us."

UPDATE: I think Demagogue is right on this one. Out of context this is something quite different than what he actually meant. Though his intended meaning is pretty odious, too.

When Journalists Whine

God this is pathetic:

Regular readers of this column may have noticed something missing from the Tribune's Business section lately. For the last few weeks, the column was moved from the front page and published on Page 2.

That will no longer be the case after today. The column won't run on Page 2. It won't run on the front page, either. It will not run at all.

This turn of events started with a decision by my editors. Two months ago, the editors decided to move the column off of the front page. My gut told me, almost immediately, that I didn't want to write for Page 2. Eight weeks of trying has not changed my mind.

Wee Resume Fibs


But that's not true at all, as we can see from his biography on the Treasury Department Web site: "Snow's knowledge of international industry stems from his tenure as Chairman of the Business Roundtable, the foremost business policy group comprised of 250 chief executive officers of the nation's largest companies. During his tenure as Chairman from 1994 through 1996, he played a major role in supporting passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement."

Hmm . . . Let's see. President Clinton signed NAFTA on Dec. 8, 1993, and it went into effect Jan. 1, 1994.

Cheney Versus the Truth

Holy crap. In the Post no less.

They're All Insane

Here's a fairly innocent article until you hit this line:

Gore spent so much time discussing his wardrobe and image that it crowded out his larger message warning against tax cuts and global warming.

Yes, that Al Gore, he just wouldn't shut up about his wardrobe.

God I need a drink.

Blue State Cannon Fodder

If there's any truth to this...

The soldiers have been thrown one bone: since they are staying longer in Iraq they will be allowed to come home for two weeks leave at a time to be determined by the Army. The airline ticket is their problem. They'll have to pay for it on their own. Kathy Rarang is hoping Americans will donate their frequent flier miles and she's trying to organize a very special Christmas for reservists' kids who, this year, won't have their moms or dads.

Some National Guard troops are coming home earlier. Congress is investigating complaints that they are from states that supported the Bush election campaign.

Even Fox's PR People...

So, Christiane Amanapour says this stuff:

As criticism of the war and its aftermath intensifies, Amanpour joins a chorus of journalists and pundits who charge that the media largely toed the Bush administrationline in covering the war and, by doing so, failed to aggressively question the motives behind the invasion.

On last week's Topic A With Tina Brown on CNBC, Brown, the former Talk magazine editor, asked comedian Al Franken, former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke and Amanpour if "we in the media, as much as in the administration, drank the Kool-Aid when it came to the war."

Said Amanpour: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

And the Fox spokeswoman responds with:

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said of Amanpour's comments: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

Um, hello, she was talking about IRAQ!

It's time for the goddamn media to rip the covers off this bullshit once and for all.

They won't.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Impending Doom

Cal Pundit gives us the bad news from Professor "Cass" Krugman.

It occurred to me the other day that you can never go wrong predicting a happy future. If you're a stock market bear, and you're wrong, you're chastized for being a pessimistic gloomy gus. Maybe it's the business equivalent of "why do you hate America?" Simply being a bear means that you can be accused of doubting the infallibility of American capitalism, even though its infallibility hasn't exactly been proven.. Year after year you can make happy predictions about the economy with impunity, like our pals Glassman and others. But, make a wrong negative prediction and you lose your forecasting license.

The Economist had a fascinating little article a couple of weeks ago about the annual Macro Pow Wow in Jackson Hole. Brad DeLong has various posts about his experiences there (hunt around for them). From the Economist:

A guide to the future

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming, is a good place to spot bears, moose or buffalo. But a rarer beast can be observed in late August, when a herd of 100 or so central bankers and economists from around the world gather for the annual symposium of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (see article).

Two weeks ago, we revealed the remarkable forecasting record of America's top economists who attend this event. Our economics editor has conducted informal polls each year on the terrace (after the Western barbecue, for which one is invited to dress cowboy-style). In late 1999 our gang was confident that the stockmarket would not crash; in 2001 they ruled out an American recession; and last year they predicted that interest rates would not fall to 1%. In short, they have provided an excellent contrarian indicator. What might they get wrong this year?

Hearty thanks are due to the 200 readers who suggested questions for the 2003 poll. The most popular by far was: “Does America have a house-price bubble?” So we asked our terrace gang: “Will average house prices fall in the year to mid 2004?” All but one firmly answered “No”. We then made them work harder with a second poser: “Will the dollar fall to $1.25 against the euro at any time in the next 12 months”? When the question was put, one euro bought $1.10. Again with one exception, the answer was a resounding “No”.

Accordingly, your correspondent is betting that the dollar and house prices will fall over the next year. On the other hand, many of these economists probably read our article two weeks ago and therefore gave the opposite answer to what they really think. As one reader says, “it would be dumb for them to reply in any other way.”

Orcinus on Lewis

David Neiwert gives us some more reasons why it's outrageous to give this serial perjurer a top oversight job at the Pentagon.

Florida Owes Feds Big Bucks

Janet Rehnquist suppressed this little report until after the election:

TALLAHASSEE -- A federal audit that was delayed at the request of Gov. Jeb Bush's office during his re-election campaign found that Florida's public pension fund owes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services $267 million.

The department's inspector general's office said the state, which receives federal money to pay employees working in federally funded programs such as Medicaid, charged too much for pension benefits between 1999 and 2002.

The audit said the state should refund the money from the $12.8 billion in surplus funds in the $93 billion pension plan, either by paying all at once or over the long term by reducing future pension costs for the federal agency.

More on Lewis

From Gene Lyons' Fools for Scandal, p. 121:

First he [democratic counsel Ben-Veniste] confronted her with an FBI agent's contemporaneous notes to the effect that -- contrary to her deposition -- she'd begun pestering him about her 1992 referral within days of filing it and had made "very dramatic" pronouncements about altering history. There had been similar testimony from the U.S. Attorney's staff. Evidence showed Lewis had made a minimum of eight attempts to prod the thing along before the 1992 election. In her deposition, she'd sworn she'd made none."

The papers of record, of course, ignored all this in favor of screaming GENNIFER FLOWERS because her name had come up.

John Lott Award for Statistical Analysis

Goes to Fox News Sunday.

methinks it deserves a Dr. Pangloss award, too.

That Liberal Academia

More proof.

A sign?

...great minds.

Oh My God

This is unbelievable. I mean, insane. I mean totally screwed up. I mean, what the fucking fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck?

Sept. 22 issue — The Bush Administration has quietly installed a surprising figure in a high-level Pentagon post: L. Jean Lewis, the former federal fraud investigator who kicked up major controversy in the ’90s over her allegations about the Clintons’ Whitewater dealings.

ALTHOUGH THERE’S BEEN no public announcement of her return to government, Lewis has been given a $118,000-a-year job as chief of staff in the traditionally nonpartisan Defense Department’s inspector general office. With 1,240 employees and a budget of $160 million, this office is the largest of its kind in the government.

It investigates fraud and audits Pentagon contracts, including the billions of dollars being awarded in Iraq to companies like Halliburton and Bechtel.

As an investigator for the now defunct Resolution Trust Corp. in 1993, Lewis drafted a criminal referral alleging illegal Whitewater dealings that eventually became the basis for Ken Starr’s probe. Republicans praised Lewis as a whistle-blower; Democrats blasted her as a partisan. (In a private letter on her computer, she once called Bill Clinton a “lying bastard.”) Lewis told NEWSWEEK she got her new job last year after interviewing with top administration officials at Defense. Although they were aware of her background, she says, “I would prefer to think it was my ability and skills they were interested in.

Jean Lewis flashback:

Enter L. Jean Lewis. Lewis, who had grown up in a military family in Texas and proudly identified herself as a conservative Republican, was hired as an investigator for the federal Resolution Trust Corporation, although she was neither a lawyer nor an accountant, and had no training in law enforcement. The R.T.C. had been set up to hunt down crooks who in the Eighties had caused hundreds of savings and loan organizations to collapse, costing taxpayers an estimated $500 billion. From her office in Tulsa, Lewis sifted through the records of failed Arkansas thrifts looking for evidence of criminal fraud. At the top of her list of suspects were two thrifts that together had cost taxpayers $1.5 billion. At the bottom of her list – and properly so – was James McDougal’s Madison Guaranty, the failure of which had cost taxpayers one-twentieth as much.

That was until Lewis read Gerth’s Times story, when her priorities abruptly and radically altered. Although neither the Whitewater operation nor the Clintons had ever borrowed money from McDougal’s thrift, it now jumped to the top of her list, and she made a criminal referral of tiny Madison Guaranty, naming not only James and Susan McDougal as suspected felons but also every contributor to a 1985 Clinton fundraising event held at Madison Guaranty. Bill and Hillary Clinton were cited as "possible witnesses," as were former U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and several other top Democrats.

Lewis filed her criminal referral just two months before the 1992 presidential election. The timing was so embarrassingly obvious that it pissed off the Little Rock F.B.I. office and the U.S. attorney. They told their bosses in D.C. that it looked like Lewis was playing politics, and that in their opinion there was "absolutely no factual basis to suggest criminal activity on the part of any of the individuals listed as witnesses," including the Clintons. But later Lewis tried again, this time charging that deposits in McDougal’s S&L had been illegally diverted to Clinton’s campaign fund. When, once again, her charges fell into a void, friendly reporters, who had been getting loads of leaks from her, began to imply that she was the victim of a bureaucratic cover-up. The cry of Cover-Up, once sounded, reverberates for a long time, and it made Lewis something of a heroine to the right wing. She was duly called to testify at the Senate’s Whitewater hearings, run by Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato (also known as "Senator Shakedown," because of his own ways of raising money). But the Democrats were ready for Lewis. As they began reading the Justice Department’s low opinion of her grasp of the law, she began to tremble, and then fainted dead away. While thousands watching C-SPAN saw her swoon, the Times and Post reporters were apparently looking elsewhere, because neither paper reported it, nor mentioned the Justice Department’s stern judgment.


Battlefield casualties include not just deaths, but any soldier who has to be removed from the field of combat. According to the Guardian, there have been over 6000 flown out for medical reasons. Leaving aside the issue of how many of those will be permanently scarred, one way or another, it is quite problematic from a practical point of view. That's an extraordinary high rate of casualties, not a small one. We can be thankful that the mounting death toll isn't higher than it is, but the military has to be concerned. :

Arnis - Illegal Immigrant


Those Were the Days...

We must do all we can to keep the days of deficits in the past. Budget deficits force the Government to borrow money in the private capital markets. That borrowing competes with (1) borrowing by businesses that want to build factories and machines that make workers more productive and raise incomes, and (2) borrowing by families who hope to buy new homes, car, and other goods. The competition for funds tends to produce higher interest rates.

From the White House produced Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget, 2001.
(thanks to innerlooper)