Saturday, November 29, 2003

What Was Supposed to Happen

Juan Cole reminds us what the hawks were saying back in the Spring:

Last spring, before the war, he was told by Ahmad Chalabi via Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, that the Iraqi people would welcome him this November with garlands and dancing in the street. They would regard him as the great liberator, a second Roosevelt or Truman. The US military, having easily defeated the Baath army and wiped up its remnants, would have departed. Only a US division, about 20,000 men, would remain, at a former Baath army base and out of sight of most Iraqis. Engineers and decontamination units, Feith told him, would be busy destroying chemical and biological stockpiles, and dismantling the advanced nuclear weapons program, carefully securing the stockpiles of Niger yellowcake uranium. Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress would be ensconced, running the country and dictating policy to the Baath military (minus its senior officers) and the Baath ministries (minus their ministers and deputy ministers). The educated, secular Iraqi Shiites would be busy stamping out priest-ridden superstition and covertly helping to undermine both the Iranian hardline ayatollahs and the radical Hizbullah militia in South Lebanon. The captured Baath generals would have given up Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, identifying the caves they were hiding in with Iraqi help, in Waziristan. Chalabi would already have recognized Israel and bullied the Palestinians into acquiescing in the loss of the rest of their land, so that Arafat's followers had been reduced to shuffling with their eyes fixed on the ground before their White betters. Air Force One would land in full daylight at Baghdad International Airport. W. would emerge from the plane, waving and smiling, his cowboy boots glinting in the desert sun. He would pass in review of the Iraqi military with its new generals, which might do some goose stepping for him just for show, the now reformed lads smiling warmly under their freshly waxed moustaches. A grateful and obedient country, pacified and acquiescent in Chalabi's presidency for life ("a clear move toward democracy after the brutal dicatatorship of Saddam"), would shout out "Bi'r-ruh, bi'l-dunya, nufdika ya Dubya" (With our spirits and our world, we sacrifice ourselves for you, O W.!).*

CNN Headline

I don't watch the network much, but it seems to be much more critical of the Bush administration than is the main CNN, which never finds fault with Dear Leader.

Odd Indeed

Big Media Matt also brings us this Jim Hoagland column with a rather odd (in these times) final paragraph:

Quitting while ahead does not seem to occur very often to master-class politicians. Without second terms Nixon would not have known the shame of impeachment and resignation, Ronald Reagan would have avoided Iran-contra and Bill Clinton would not have had to fight the Lewinsky scandal in the White House. These are precedents that George W. Bush probably should consider -- and almost certainly won't.

We Wuz Right

In a couple of posts Matthew Yglesias (here and then a followup here) discusses how incompetent the Bush administration is and that anti-war folks who argued against the war on this basis were ultimately correct.

This wasn't my only reason for opposing my war, but it was to me what always should have been reason enough to convince on the fence liberal hawks (which, if I remember correctly, did ultimately sway people like Kevin Drum). Hussein was neither a threat to us or his neighbors. The case that Saddam was a threat required proving the existence of WMDs, or at the very least an active WMD program designed to produce something truly nasty. This case, which we are now supposed to pretend was never made, was clearly fraudulent and dishonest - and this was obvious at the time. If your cause is so just, why be so dishonest about it?

The second reason to invade, for the minty fresh testogel crowd, was to simply show that we could. America's giant penis needed to impress the world with its mighty power by invading a sovereign state, just to prove that we could do it, so a bunch of other sovereign states would fearfully bend to our will. It was going to be quick and easy, and it would prove to the world that we could do it anytime we wanted to, so the axis of countries we didn't like that week would start obeying us. I don't even feel the need to explain why this is a bad idea, though one thing that the testogel crowd should have considered is the effect on the size of our mighty penis if this cunning plan didn't work out so well.

The third reason, trotted out about June or so, was that Saddam was a bad guy and he had rape rooms so the world is better off without him. All true, perhaps, but at what cost? For some reason the cost-benefit analysis crowd, always obsessing about the costs of minor environmental regulations, went AWOL on this one. If I'm of a humanitarian mind, I can quickly come up with many many many better ways to spend 430(and counting) lives and 200 billion or more tax dollars.

For me, the only possible reason to invade, once March rolled around, was reason number 3. And, if this were the reason, for the operation to be a success would require an administration which didn't campaign on an anti-Nation Building platform, and didn't generally express contempt for the values they were embracing.

As for the competence issue, about which Matt writes:

It's been clear for a while that something like this was the story, but I still find it almost literally unbelievable. It's just too crazy that anyone could have believed this. As I watched the administration publicly downplay the difficulty of handling the postwar situation and the scope of the commitment, I just assumed they were just trying to mislead people à la Clinton and Balkans peacekeeping. I wasn't even sure how much I disapproved of this policy of misleading. But it's turned out that they weren't lying at all -- they really believed this bizarre INC fairy tale and didn't do any real backup planning. They fired many of the people who had the situation correctly figured out and ignored the rest. It's shocking. I mean no one who'd looked at it seriously thought this stuff was right. At any rate, go read the whole story about the administration's pathetic Plan A for postwar Iraq. It's just bizarre.

What more evidence of incompetence did we need than this:

In his book It Doesn't Take a Hero, retired U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf describes the evolution of the plans he and his staff made following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As his mission to defend Saudi Arabia quickly grew into an offensive plan to drive Iraqi troops out of everyone's favorite oppressive rococo emirate, Schwarzkopf developed a four-step course of action intended to grind his enemy down into miserable fighting condition before finishing him off with an overwhelming and elaborately staged ground attack. Problem is, all of that grinding and staging took time — and quite a few of the people Schwarzkopf worked for wanted to see the lion eat the fucking gladiator already. Following one White House meeting at which he'd asked for more time and more troops, Stormin' Norman reports, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell called to warn the Desert Storm commander that he was being loudly compared, by a top administration official, to George McClellan. "My God," the official supposedly complained. "He's got all the force he needs. Why won't he just attack?" Schwarzkopf notes that the unnamed official who'd made the comment "was a civilian who knew next to nothing about military affairs, but he'd been watching the Civil War documentary on public television and was now an expert."

And then, twenty pages later, Schwarzkopf casually drops the information that he got an inspirational gift from Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney right before the air war finally got under way. Cheney was presenting a gift to a military man, and he chose something with an appropriate theme: "(A) complete set of videotapes of Ken Burns's PBS series, The Civil War."

But that wasn't the only gift that Dick Cheney had for Norman Schwarzkopf. Having figured out that the general was being too cautious with his fourth combat command in three decades of soldiering, Cheney got his staff busy and began presenting Schwarzkopf with his own ideas about how to fight the Iraqis: What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad? Schwarzkopf charitably describes the plan as being "as bad as it could possibly be... But despite our criticism, the western excursion wouldn't die: three times in that week alone Powell called with new variations from Cheney's staff. The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait." (Throw in a Pete Rose rookie card?) None of this Walter Mitty posturing especially surprised Schwarzkopf, who points out that he'd already known Cheney as "one of the fiercest cold warriors in Congress."

But, if you want more evidence of incompetence... how about their belief that the man who hadn't been in Iraq for 50 years would be welcomed by the people as their new leader? How about Big Don Strangefeld's insistence that this war prove once and for all that our military didn't need any actual soldiers?

The "grownups" in this administration were supposed to be people like Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Perle. Oh Sweet Mother of God Help Us.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Money Supply Dropping?

Nathan Newman points us to this interesting article about the possibility of a falling money supply.

As Newman states, it's too early to make too much of this. But, the fact is that Greenspan doesn't have godlike control over the money supply. While certain monetary aggregates can be essentially directly influenced if the Fed so wishes (and, as the article correctly states, the Fed has focused on influencing the price of money), the other ones really can't be. So, while the measures of the most liquid forms of money - M1 and M2 might be increasing, other measures incorporating more illiquid assets, could be falling.

Quick primer - there are various measures of the amount of "money," as it isn't entirely clear what exactly money is. The lower the number X in the measure MX, the greater the degree of liquidity (speed at which the asset can be converted to cash) of what is being counted. From the Fed:

The money supply measures reflect the different degrees of liquidity -- or spendability - that different types of money have. The narrowest measure, M1, is restricted to the most liquid forms of money; it consists of currency in the hands of the public; travelers checks; demand deposits, and other deposits against which checks can be written. M2 includes M1, plus savings accounts, time deposits of under $100,000, and balances in retail money market mutual funds. M3 includes M2 plus large-denomination ($100,000 or more) time deposits, balances in institutional money funds, repurchase liabilities issued by depository institutions, and Eurodollars held by U.S. residents at foreign branches of U.S. banks and at all banks in the United Kingdom and Canada.
There are also M4, M5, ...


Finally watched the special edition version that someone was kind enough to purchase for me. I thought it was more of an improvement over the original in some ways and less in other ways compared to the Fellowship special edition. For the first movie, the improvements mostly fleshed the existing narrative out and made for a much better movie over all. Nothing that was put back in was critical to the plot, but made for a movie which didn't feel like, as the theatrical version did, "battle... move... battle... move." The additions improved the pacing of the movie greatly.

The Two Towers special edition, on the other hand, does add back in some things which are rather important to understanding the basic narrative and the motivations of the characters - so in this way it's even more of an improvement over the original. But, I didn't feel that it improved the flow of the movie as was the case for the Fellowship. It didn't detract from it, but it still didn't feel as if the pace of the movie was ever quite right.

Still, definitely better than the theatrical version.

An Act of Supreme Bravery

Count me as one who thinks that Bush's little trip is, on balance, a "good thing." I mean, it's better than him not doing it. But, what's with the press acting like, as Hesiod says, Bush grabbed a machine gun and personally stormed a building filled with armed insurgents?

He didn't meet with any locals. He didn't meet with the governing council. He flew into a heavily fortified military base and then flew out again. bad, he did meet with 4 council members.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Bush in Baghdad

BBC reporting.

... link

BAGHDAD, Iraq - President Bush (news - web sites) made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Baghdad Thursday, flying secretly to violence-scarred Iraq (news - web sites) on a trip tense with concerns about his safety.

It was the first trip ever by an American president to Iraq.

Air Force One landed in darkness at Baghdad International Airport. Security fears were heightened by an attack last Saturday in which a missile struck a DHL cargo plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing at the airport with its wing aflame.

Bush was to spend only two hours on the ground, limiting his visit to a dinner at the airport with U.S. forces. The troops had been told that the VIP guests would be L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Bush's trip — on the large plane he most frequently uses — was a well-guarded secret — announced only after he landed in Baghdad.

In a ruse staged in the name of security, the White House had put out word that Bush would be spending Thanksgiving at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with his wife, Laura, his parents and other family members. Even the dinner menu was announced.

Instead, Bush slipped away from his home without notice Wednesday evening and flew to Washington to pick up aides and a handful of reporters sworn to secrecy. Plans called for the trip to be abandoned if word had leaked out in advance.

Evil Heathens Growing in Number


Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade, to nearly 30 million. Organized as a religious denomination, they would trail only Catholics and Baptists in members.

They are the "nones," named for their response to a question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion, if any?"

Some nones are atheists, others agnostics, still others self-styled dabblers in a variety of faiths and philosophies. Despite their discomfort with organized religion, many consider themselves quite spiritual.


Whatever the reason, nones grew from 8 percent of the U.S. population in 1990 to more than 14 percent in 2001.

That's the conclusion of religion experts who compared results of the National Survey of Religious Identification, conducted in 1990, and the American Religious Identification Survey, which in 2001 sought to update the earlier poll.

"That makes nones the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, if you think about them as a religious group," said Patricia O'Connell Killen, a professor of religious history at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. "We're just coming to grips with the reality that this group even exists."


Let me join the chorus of people who approve of this article written for an alternate universe version of the Weekly Standard.

The second thing to remember, for most of the people declaring where they'd rather fight the terrorists, is that they are not personally doing much of the fighting. Who's to say if you were coming up on the 11th month of your deployment in a hostile country where the natives, instead of showing gratitude, showed you the business-end of an RPG-launcher, that you might not enjoy fighting the terrorists in a place where you could claim home-field advantage, have a warm bed, a cold beer, and the occasional conjugal visit from a woman whose name you could pronounce.

For it is the luxury of those who talk about fighting, rather than of those who fight, to dispense smiley faces and silver linings. In the November 24th New Yorker, in a piece entitled "War After the War--What Washington Doesn't See in Iraq," George Packer writes in a painful reminder from Baghdad, "All the soldiers suffer from the stress of heat, long days, lack of sleep, homesickness, the constant threat of attack . . . and the simple fact that there are nowhere near enough of them to do the tasks they've been given."

Not to mention the fact that nearly 200 of them have been killed since major combat operations ended. Fight the terrorists where you will. But it's probably best to avoid diminishing the sacrifice of soldiers, by burying them with respectful silence, rather than with idiotic clichés.


Just wanted to put a plug in for the show. It started out as a poor Buffy ripoff, and I stopped watching for awhile, but lately it's differentiated itself and managed to have some good stories and interesting plot arcs. The ending of last week's show, with Luthor in a straitjacket as Johnny Cash's cover of NIN's Hurt played was a powerful bit.

A Marine's Girl Returns

To this new undisclosed location.


Jim Henley has a bit of fun with Instahack.

Glenn writes, in his sole reference to Julian's brief item, "It seems, at any rate, a bit simplistic to cast this as a simple press-freedom issue." Maybe it's just me, but what seems simplistic is basing your every reaction to current events on whether or not Bill Clinton got an adequately hard time about something at the close of the last century.

Grey Revolution

Wow. I had no idea this could happen. 15,000 or more AARP members have quit.

Thanksgiving Reading

David Neiwert's essay on the personal and the political.

An Army of Quiet Americans

This Matt Taibbi takedown of Joe Klein's truly bizarre take on how we need to win the war on whomever we're at war with is hilarious. The whole thing is quite frightening, of course.

This one passage of Klein’s says just about everything you need to know about why the war effort in Iraq isn’t "working." Our current pro-war crowd simply doesn’t understand the emotional imperatives required of a conquering military society. You cannot lead people into the breach for the cause of "Freedom…or whatever." Language is more important than a hat. If you want to get people to run through gunfire and sulfur smoke with knives in their teeth, you need appropriate slogans: "Destroy the Seventh Snake!" "Ya Basta!" "Victory or Death!" Klein wants to use the language of a liberal arts college brochure to build a warrior society.

Which brings us to the next problem–the kind of people Klein thinks we need fighting this war. This is his biggest mistake. The last kind of person we need in Iraq is a young, idealistic intellectual. These people make lousy conquerors, as was proven repeatedly in Vietnam. In colonial wars, what you really need to get the job done are efficient professional killers, like the French Foreign Legion or the Korean mercenaries we used in Indochina. People like this, when they go into a "problem" village, they don’t spend a lot of time with the Inspector Closeau search for the hidden insurgents among them. They just chop everyone’s heads off and move on.

Basically, this is Klein playing out a personal fantasy that if only the military had, you know, catered to people like him he would've gone off and done really brave things. When he was younger, of course. He's too old for that now. But, he wouldn't want to deprive a new generation of young, idealistic, liberal arts graduates the opportunity.

Joe Klein embodies the mass psychosis of the baby boom generation. No, not all boomers are nuts, but he just continues to play out his personal demons that certain members of his generation just can't get over.

And, everyone should read Graham Greene's book or at least see the pretty good if somewhat miscast film.

Electric Boogaloo Heating Up

Republicans are panicking over what they might find if the investigation is a broad one.

Happy Thanksgiving

Don't feed the trolls. They can make their own.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Dumbest Cut Ever

One of Arnold's proposed cuts is to California's rather excellent program for in-home services for the elderly and disabled. It's a good program, which basically pays home health care aids, who work at dirt cheap rates, to help these people for a few hours each week to take care of a few things that they can't manage by themselves. It's designed for people who are mostly - but not completely - able to live independently if they just get help for the few things they can't manage. If they get the help - they can stay in their home or apartment and won't need to go to a nursing home, which will go from costing the state a couple hundred bucks per month to Jeebus knows how much...

Feds Keep Lady Liberty Shut

Between this and that cracked bell down the street for me...

Message Discipline



On the same day that President Bush told a Las Vegas audience that things were “getting better” for the United States in Iraq, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist hedged that bet after a Memphis speech Tuesday night, responding, “No, it’s as bad as it looks,” when asked if there was “light at the end of the tunnel” in Iraq.

Norman's Pissed

As he should be:

The Medicare prescription drug vote -- three hours instead of 15 minutes, hours after a clear majority of the House had signaled its will -- was the ugliest and most outrageous breach of standards in the modern history of the House. It was made dramatically worse when the speaker violated the longstanding tradition of the House floor's being off limits to lobbying by outsiders (other than former members) by allowing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on the floor during the vote to twist arms -- another shameful first.

The speaker of the House is the first government official mentioned in the Constitution. The speaker is selected by a vote of the whole House and represents the whole House. Hastert is a good and decent man who loves the House. But when the choice has been put to him, he has too often opted to abandon that role for partisan gain.

Democracy is a fragile web of laws, rules and norms. The norms are just as important to the legitimacy of the system as the rules. Blatant violations of them on a regular basis corrode the system. The ugliness of this one will linger.

The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

More Hostages!

Yay! More collective guilt! Any principles we haven't sold out yet?

Some Good News

Big Pensions are just a ticking timebomb, which will be, of course, paid for by the taxpayer when they blow up. So, measures allowing businesses to underfund them even more are just obscene. Measure delayed for the moment.

Bad Writing

I'm trying to keep this a Michael Jackson free zone, but this paragraph over at the NYT is pretty icky:

But according to accounts of his close advisers and industry friends and court records, he is also an extravagant spender whose wealth is being consumed by an appetite for monkeys, Ferris wheels and surgery.

Electric Boogaloo

As Kevin Drum notes, the theft of private files from Democrats is being universally ignored by the SCLM. Of course, literally all of their files could have been compromised by Republican operatives, but this only merits a yawn.

Look! Al Gore grew a beard!


It's absolutely amazing that the former governor of a small New England state who currently holds no elected office and is a member of the party not currently running the executive or legislative branches of government has such power over the activities of our military.

...JPAC says:

JPAC was created from the merger of the 30 year old U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, and the 11 year old Joint Task Force - Full Accounting. This 425-person organization, commanded by a flag officer, is committed and dedicated to bringing home the nation’s service members and civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice....

Repatriation ceremonies are conducted to honor the sacrifice made by those individuals whose remains have been recovered. As a sign of respect, the remains are placed into an aluminum transfer case and draped with a U.S. flag. An arrival ceremony is held in Hawaii with a joint service honor guard and senior officers from each service. Veterans, community members and local active-duty military often attend the ceremonies to pay their respects as the remains are transported from a U.S. military plane to JPAC's CIL.

Ah, those Republicans, always pissing on graves for sport.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Stability No More!

Daniel Drezner has a solid post on the death of the EU's Stability and Growth Pact. As he notes, the agreement had put a limit on the deficits of member states, and repeated violations were supposed to trigger harsh fines. It was implemented to get those silly irresponsible countries like Italy, which had serious fiscal problems, to behave. Now that the unsilly and responsible France and Germany are misbehaving, it's time to chuck it out.

The truth is the S&G Pact does need to go, though the proximate cause of its death shouldn't have been this kind of "crisis," but rather a sober reassessment. On one hand, the EU needs something to keep its member states fiscally responsible (oddly, in the US, a wave of balanced budget amendments had states impose it on themselves). On the other hand, unlike the US the EU doesn't have countercyclical federal spending policies which guarantee that, to some degree, states which are performing poorly relative to the average get an infusion of federal dollars. Telling underperforming countries that the central bank isn't going to help with monetary policy, and that expansionary fiscal policy is off the table, may not be the right approach.

And, yes, we're all Keynesians now...

Watergate II: Electric Boogaloo


Hatch, who had initially ridiculed the allegations, also said a former staffer "may also have been involved," but declined to identify either person by name.


Hatch had suggested that the memos had been turned over to the news media by a "conscience-stricken" Democratic staffer.

(title thanks to peskyfly)


18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(3):

"Whoever intentionally, without authorization to access any nonpublic computer of a department or agency of the United States, accesses such a computer of that department or agency that is exclusively for the use of the Government of the United States or, in the case of a computer not exclusively for such use, is used by or for the Government of the United States and such conduct affects that use by or for the Government of the United States shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section."

18 U.S.C. 1030(c)(2)(A):

"The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) ... of this section is ... a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in the case of an offense under subsection ... (a)(3) ... of this section which does not occur after a conviction for another offense under this section, or an attempt to commit an offense punishable under this subparagraph ...."

(thanks to jpn)

UPDATE: reader rl writes in:

I think you're focusing on the wrong part of section 1030. I think it will be difficult to show that the theft of these items "affected" THE USE OF THE COMPUTER by the Government.

However, 18 USC 1030(a)(2) fits this perfectly:

"Whoever . . . intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains . . . information from any department or agency of the United States" commits a crime.

"Department or Agency of the United States" is defined in the statute as including "the legislative . . . branch of government."

The penalty for violating 1030(a)(2) can be five years if "the offense was committed in furtherance of any . . . tortious act in violation of the Constitution or law of the United States or of any State."

More Freedom of the Press


In another sign of a harder line coming from Baghdad, the Washington-appointed Iraqi Governing Council pulled the plug on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite television network yesterday, saying it would no longer be allowed to report from Baghdad until it agrees to stop "encouraging terrorism."

Its crime appeared to be airing an audio tape purported to have come from deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It aired the audio tape, in which a voice calls for a holy war against occupying troops on Nov. 16. The CIA said it could not confirm the voice was, in fact, Saddam's.

"I would like to you know that we are serious in fighting terrorism and the Governing Council will exert more efforts," Jalal Talabani, current head of the council, told reporters in Baghdad. "We will have an active political, media and military role against terrorism."

CNN reported yesterday that it and the BBC had also been warned that they, too, could face sanctions if they did not toe the line.

Imagine if Clinton.... Oh never mind, you can't.

Imagine if...

Roger Clinton had gotten $2 million from well-connected Chi-Coms...

Neil Bush, younger brother of President Bush, detailed lucrative business deals and admitted to engaging in sex romps with women in Asia in a deposition taken in March as part of his divorce from now ex-wife Sharon Bush.

According to legal documents disclosed today, Sharon Bush's lawyers questioned Neil Bush closely about the deals, especially a contract with Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., a firm backed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, that would pay him $2 million in stock over five years.

Marshall Davis Brown, lawyer for Sharon Bush, expressed bewilderment at why Grace would want Bush and at such a high price since he knew little about the semiconductor business.

"You have absolutely no educational background in semiconductors do you?" asked Brown in the March 4 deposition, which was seen by Reuters.

"That's correct," Bush, 48, responded.

"And you have absolutely over the last 10, 15, 20 years not a lot of demonstrable business experience that would bring about a company investing $2 million in you?"

"I personally would object to the assumption that they're investing $2 million in me," said Bush, who went on to explain that he knew a lot about business and had been working in Asia for years.

UPDATE: Here's Bush:

There's another humanitarian crisis spreading, yet hidden from view. Each year, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world's borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year -- much of which is used to finance organized crime.

There's a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life -- an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.

And, here's Rich Lowry on "Bush's moral eye."


Apparently one of Orrin Hatch's staffers was responsible for stealing the memos from the Judiciary Committee's computers....more when there's a link. it is:

WASHINGTON - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Tuesday he had put one of his staffers on administrative leave for improperly obtaining data from the secure computer networks of two Democratic senators.

Hatch, R-Utah, said preliminary interviews suggested that a former Republican member of the committee staff may have also been involved in penetrating the Democratic computers.

"I was shocked to learn that this may have occurred," Hatch said in a statement. "I am mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files may have occurred on my watch."

Hatch launched an investigation after Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., protested what they said was the theft of memos from their servers. The memos, concerning political strategy on blocking confirmation of several of President Bush's judicial nominations, were obtained and reported on by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle informed Hatch on Monday that the committee's four computer servers had been disconnected and that daily backup tapes had been given to the U.S. Capitol Police for safekeeping. He said an outside expert would conduct a forensic assessment to determine if there had been unauthorized access to files.

Hatch said that, at his direction, two federal prosecutors assigned to the committee had conducted interviews with about 50 people.

He said the interviews revealed that at least one current staff member had improperly accessed at least some of the documents that appeared in the media reports and which have been posted on the Internet. The person has denied leaking the information to the press, he said.


Raed is showing insufficent gratitude towards Gnat and her great sacrifices in the war on terror.

Freedom of the Press


COLORADO SPRINGS - Before the press was herded into the giant hangar in advance of George W. Bush's pep rally/photo op with the Fort Carson troops, we were given the rules.

No talking to the troops before the rally.

No talking to the troops during the rally.

No talking to the troops after the rally.

Porn of Mass Destruction

This is just unbelievable:

Army Capt. James Yee (search), who worked at the prison camp for terror suspects in eastern Cuba, was released from custody Tuesday after being served with the additional charges, Raul Duany, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command in Miami, told The Associated Press.

He was arrested earlier this year in Florida and confined to the military brig in Charleston, S.C.

Military officials brought the additional charges after an investigation, Duany said. The charges include storing pornographic images on his computer, having sexual relations outside marriage, disobeying an order and making a false official statement.

Especially, since just yesterday we had:

WASHINGTON - The Army chaplain charged with mishandling classified material at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba says he has been held in harsh conditions, barred from practicing his Islamic faith, and deprived of his legal right to a speedy trial.

Army Capt. James Joseph Yee, a West Point graduate, laid out his complaints in a letter that his attorney sent yesterday to President Bush. Yee was arrested in September.

Hey, a New Book

Triumph O'Reilly

The Hamster has posted a partial transcript of Rober Smigel's recent conversation with Terry Gross, which was clearly inspired by Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day.

Ha Ha Ha

Doctoring the SOTU address. Shameless, dishonest, and quite possibly illegal.

When President Bush laid out the potential threat that unconventional weapons posed in Saddam Hussein's hands last year in his State of the Union address last year, he became tongue-tied at an inopportune moment.

The line read, "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate, slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." But Mr. Bush stumbled between the words "one" and "vial." And when at the word vial, he pronounced the "v" as if it were a "w."

Yet in a new Republican commercial that borrows excerpts from that speech, Mr. Bush delivers that line as smoothly as any other in the address, without a pause between "one" and "vial," and the v in "vial" sounds strong and sure.


The difference between the speech and excerpt was noticed by strategists for former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. They saw it as they put together their own advertisement attacking the spot, which presents the Democratic candidates as undermining the fight against terrorism. Word trickled back to Democratic officials, who retrieved the tape and confirmed that there was, indeed, a difference.

The Democrats asked whether the Republican National Committee had gone to the White House with sound equipment to have Mr. Bush recite the line anew for what was the first Republican commercial of the campaign season here. That might have meant that the party was not being truthful when it said it had not coordinated with Mr. Bush when it made the advertisement, a possible violation of law.

(via Hesiod)


I suppose it depends on the meaning of off the table.

August 20:

SCHWARZENEGGER: Now, does this mean we're going to make cuts? Yes. Does this mean education is on the table? No


Education would absorb $160 million in cuts this year and next under the proposal Schwarzenegger presented to legislative leaders Monday.

Rogue Cops

Nathan Newman argues that the ends do sometimes justify the means.

PBS is Now Fair and Balanced


When "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" invited author Michael Wolff on the program, his reputation as a scathing media critic was hardly a secret. Wolff, a columnist for New York magazine, was peddling his new book, "Autumn of the Moguls," which describes said moguls in personal and rather unflattering terms.

But the PBS program abruptly killed the taped interview Friday, a week after it was recorded.

"It doesn't make any sense," Wolff said yesterday. "You invite an author on, he's going to give you the view he wrote about." He said that "these guys must be super-sensitive" that his remarks would "annoy" powerful media executives such as Sumner Redstone, Michael Eisner, Barry Diller, Mel Karmazin and Rupert Murdoch.

Les Crystal, the program's executive producer, dismissed Wolff's criticism. "We did the interview, we looked at it and felt it was unbalanced, and decided not to run it," he said.

Crystal acknowledged that other authors have "expressed strong points of view" on the show. But in the case of the Wolff interview, "we didn't think it was fair and balanced."

The interview was conducted by "NewsHour" media correspondent Terence Smith, who called the decision "an internal matter" and referred questions to Crystal.

You know what to do:

1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-739-5000
Fax: 703-739-8458

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:

... here's Wolff's response.

Health Care

I can't find the story anywhere online, but on NPR earlier they noted that a Ford Motor bigwig had come out in favor of the government taking over the responsibility for health insurance, in some form. I expect more big businesses to follow. As Big Media Matt notes, our health care system is just much more expensive than it should be. Some sort of universal payer system will come within the next 10-20 years - the only real question is how much money the insurance/HMO industry can loot before then.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Victories and Failures

We can be glad that the Energy Bill has been at least temporarily put down, even though the crappy Medicare Bill is likely to pass. As for the latter, well, if there's any silver lining it's that it doesn't really start working until 2006. But, look, more importantly, the Democrats need to pick some issues and run with them. They're in the minority in both houses. The only way to mount an offense - and to therefore define themselves as a party - against the highly partisan Republicans is to filibuster things. I don't think they should filibuster everything, but this Medicare Bill was an obvious one.



The General explores the sacred institution homosexuals are trying to destroy.

Read Until the End

The thought of the long hard slog through the Quinnster's article prevented me from reading it, but Jerome Doolittle brings out an interesting anecdote nestled within the article:

“Nobody knows how the president will finally come down on Chalabi. Right now Bush reportedly remains unconvinced that Chalabi is the one to lead Iraq into a democratic future. Jordan's King Abdullah didn't help matters: When he met with Bush recently, he is said to have delivered a broadside against his old nemesis, who was convicted of embezzling millions from a Jordanian bank. According to a friend of Abdullah's, the president reacted to the information with outrage at Chalabi.”

So, Bush had previously been unaware of this minor bit of information?

Holiday Shopping

If you plan to do any of your holiday shopping through Amazon, please feel free to do it through this link, or through any of the other Amazon related links cluttering up the sidebars. You pay the same, they get less, I get more. Don't shop there just to do me a favor, but if you are going to anyway....



Relatively Busy

A situation which will likely be true, on and off, through the holiday weekend.


KKK initiation ceremony goes bad:

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) - A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said.

Gregory Allen Freeman, 45, was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the Saturday night incident that wounded Jeffery S. Murr, 24.

About 10 people, including two children, had gathered for the ceremony. The man who was being initiated was blindfolded, tied with a noose to a tree and shot with paintball guns as Freeman fired a pistol in the air to provide the sound of real gunfire, Sheriff Fred Phillips said.

A bullet struck Murr on the top of the head and exited at the bottom of his skull, authorities said.

Let's hope the idiot who fired the gun gets put away from a long time, and that the idiot who got hit begins to rethink his associations.

Uh, Mickey?

It was a joke. Shrill's the word of obsessed Krugman stalkers, so when I use it I'm either making fun of them our using it as a compliment.

But, for the record, the UK cover of the Krugman book is kind of funny in an ironic sort of way, though it would be lost on most people. If I were a tenured Princeton professor of economics it probably wouldn't be the cover I would choose for that book (nor was it the cover that Krugman chose), because, as Krugman said, it's a bit undignified. but, uh, people, it's an Oil Mustache, not a Hitler mustache on Big Time Dick.

(Scroll down)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Somebody Exhumed the Quinnster

The Man Who Would Succeed Saddam
Ahmed Chalabi's First Big Political Test? Surviving Washington.
By Sally Quinn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 24, 2003; Page C01

Ahmed Chalabi, a leading candidate to head Iraq's new government, is making the rounds on Capitol Hill. He can barely contain his glee. He is doing what he loves most and what he does best -- lobbying the U.S. government for his cause, Iraq. As rotating president of the Iraqi Governing Council this September morning, he is going for grants, not loans. He smiles a knowing smile. He's got this baby in the bag. But then, he always does. That's what makes his detractors crazy -- and his supporters so loyal. Never, they say, underestimate Ahmed Chalabi. It is always a mistake.

At first glance, Chalabi is an unassuming man, 59 years old, slightly overweight, balding, conservatively dressed in a dark suit. But it's his eyes and his eyebrows that draw attention. One eyebrow seems permanently raised, as though he is sharing his secret only with you. A fellow Arab acquaintance describes him as "from the bazaar," and you can envision him, his eyes gleaming, negotiating with you. Partly it is for fun, for love of the game. But the part about the money is deadly serious.

This morning he's already met with 50 Senate Republicans. "They applauded when I came in," he reports proudly. "Senator Santorum said that he had been defending me to the president so much that the president started calling him 'Ahmed.' "

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I understand this is Terry Gross's little revenge on O'Lielly.


Not being near the Canadian border I don't get CBC, but here's the companion website for a 2 hour broadcast they did about what the embeds saw but didn't broadcast.

You know, the schools and hospitals and rose petals.

5 Dead in Africanistan

Or whatever that place is called.

How Ungrateful

This is just horrible, and is not a good sign:

The 101st Airborne Division said its soldiers in Mosul were shot while driving between U.S. garrisons. Several witnesses also said the soldiers were shot during the attack in the Ras al-Jadda district, though earlier reports by witnesses said assailants slit the soldiers' throats.

Bahaa Jassim, a teenager, said the soldiers' vehicle crashed into a wall after the shooting. Several dozen passers-by then descended on the wreckage, looting the car of weapons and the soldiers' backpacks.

After the soldiers' bodies fell into the street, the crowd pummeled them with concrete blocks, Jassim said.


Witnesses to the Mosul attack said gunmen shot two soldiers driving through the city center, sending their vehicle crashing into a wall. The 101st Airborne Division said the soldiers were driving to another garrison.

About a dozen swarming teenagers dragged the soldiers' bodies out of the wreckage and beat them with concrete blocks, the witnesses said.

"They lifted a block and hit them with it on the face," Younis Mahmoud, 19, said.

Another teenager, Bahaa Jassim, said some looted the vehicle of weapons, CDs and a backpack.

"They remained there for over an hour without the Americans knowing anything about it," he said. "I ... went and told other troops."

Television video showed the soldiers' bodies splayed on the ground as U.S. troops secured the area. One victim's foot appeared to have been severed.

The frenzy recalled the October 1993 scene in Somalia, when locals dragged the bodies of Marines killed in fighting with warlords through the streets.

Ann Coulter, anti-Semite


In addition to having a number of family deaths among them, the Democrats' other big idea – too nuanced for a bumper sticker – is that many of them have Jewish ancestry. There's Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew – along with the long lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering."

Defying CW

Majority in Mass. agree with their recent SC decision.

Massachusetts residents, by a solid margin, said they supported the Supreme Judicial Court's landmark decision legalizing gay marriage, according to a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll.

The poll of 400 people, the first survey of Bay State residents since the court's historic ruling, indicated that 50 percent agreed with the justices' decision, and 38 percent opposed it. Eleven percent expressed no opinion.

The poll also indicated that a majority opposed efforts by the Legislature, Governor Mitt Romney, and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly to block same-sex marriages and allow civil unions instead.

A majority, 53 percent, also opposed a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriages by defining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Thirty-six percent supported the amendment.

Mass., while being a fairly reliable Democratic stronghold, has never been particularly "liberal," at least given contemporary meaning of that term. This is nice to see.


Jack Balkin notes that the Federal Marriage Amendment does far more than its supporters claim. It explicitly would forbid the conferring of any of the "legal incidences" of marriage on unmarried couples or groups. Forget gay marriage - this is absolutely astounding. It would appear to not just forbid states from enacting sweeping civil unions laws, it could also forbid numerous other things affecting all unmarried couples. Taken to its logical extreme it could really make all single people second class citizens.

Opus Online

Anyone know where the new cartoon is?

Almost There... THERE!

Only 82 more dollars and I can pull down the thermometer.

You can add to a bundled donation by clicking this link or mail one directly to:

Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama
122 Commerce Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

(please let me know if you mail one directly)

More information about the EJI can be found here and here.

....and we've hit $3000!

Thanks to all who contributed. As promised, anything donations to this site that come in through Dec. 10 will be forwarded on, but no more begging.


So, a business interest which profits greatly from the war machine is going to help bail out the corrupt steward of a media empire which has been very good about promoting it:

A powerful banking group with close links to the Pentagon, which has also invested money on behalf of the Bin Laden family, is in talks to bail out beleaguered Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black. The revelation suggests that Britain's bestselling broadsheet - coveted by rival newspaper barons because of its political influence - may not go under the hammer after all, as Lord Black tries to quell a shareholder rebellion in the face of allegations that he and several acolytes pocketed millions of dollars that was not theirs to take.

Daily Express owner Richard Desmond and the Daily Mail & General Trust, which owns the Daily Mail, are keen to buy the Telegraph titles, despite the fact that questions over the concentration of media ownership would be raised.

The Carlyle Group, known as the Ex-Presidents Club because of the number of former world leaders it employs, is considering taking a stake in Hollinger International, which owns the Telegraph titles, the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, according to those close to the firm.

'It's unusual for a group of assets to come to the market like this. We would look to sell off the Jerusalem Post and Hollinger's stake in the New York Sun. Conrad [Black] would have to step out of management, but that does not mean he would have to let go of his equity stake,' said a Carlyle source. 'Ideally, we would look to take a 25-40 per cent stake. That would allow us to put people on the board,' the source added.

The move would represent a coup for Black, who is desperate not to sell the Telegraph titles, which have given him considerable influence within British politics and earned him a close friendship with Margaret Thatcher.



BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 23 — Insurgents slit the throats of two U.S. soldiers Sunday as warplanes pounded targets in central Iraq, and at least three people were wounded when mortar shells hit an oil company compound in the northern city of Kirkuk, witnesses and company officials said.