Saturday, December 20, 2003

Why does America hate America?


Most voters believe, as Dean does, that the U.S. is no safer from terror in the wake of the arrest of Saddam Hussein.


Democratic primary voters
All voters

Still the same
Democratic primary voters
All voters

Democratic primary voters
All voters

Chicks in Iraq

So far we haven't been too good about giving them political representation. Or, maybe it's just that no woman in her right mind would want to get anywhere near Chalabi.

Speaking of Muddled Positions

How can the media let anyone get away with being both against the morning after pill and not against people using various in-vitro fertilization methods.

...just to clarify, the "morning after pill" is basically a quadruple dose of birth control which can prevent fertilization if it hasn't taken place or can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus. This is separate from RU-486 which is indeed an "abortion pill," as it induces miscarriage. The former has some unpleasant side effects but is far less of a dangerous cocktail than many over the counter drugs.

The reason it's ridiculous to oppose the morning after pill and not IVF treatments is that IVF treatments inevitably create many more embryos than come to term. Multiple embryos are implanted at a time, and extras are frozen for later use or destroyed. If the concern over the morning after pill is that the just-fertilized eggs are "human," then the same would apply to the many embryos which are destroyed during IVF treatments.

There is no way to square the two positions. In fact, any consistent ethical system would lead to much more vocal opposition to IVF treatments. But, of course, babies are a good thing and wanting to create more of them is a good thing and members of the religious right sometimes have fertility problems too. So, it's worth "killing" a couple dozen embryos in order to carry on the line. Or something.

Anyway, I really don't understand why a morning after pill prescription isn't handed out to every woman at her OB-GYN appointment.


New poll data about support for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage (and lots of other things, potentially, but that's for another post) has the Kevin Drums of the world concerned about what it means for Democrats.

There's something that Democrats need to realize - we're going to be the party of those icky gay people no matter what we do. The Dems have three basic choices. One, they can fall all over each other to condemn the evils of gays and gay marriage more loudly than the Republicans. Two, they can take an incomprehensibly muddled position and hope the issue just goes away. And, three, they can take a strong and unequivocal pro gay rights position.

The first choice does nothing for them except repel voters. The second ensures that the issue will be brought up constantly. The third is the only way out.

As we all know, Democrats are the party of homosexuality, adultery, and divorce. They're also soft on crime and they hate the military. For some of these issues you can try and out-Republican the Republicans - propose giant military budgets, police budgets, minimum sentences, etc... - to neutralize that perception. There is nothing Democrats can do to recast themselves as they anti-gay party without completely abandoning their place as the party of Civil Rights. Besides, I don't think that even putting execution for homosexuality into the Dem platform would be enough to change the perception.

I'm still with those who think that if the Democrats handle this correctly it's a net loser for Republicans. But, to do so they have to stop being on the defense. As with everything else. They can start by bring up the words of Dick Cheney every time Tim Russert brings it up:

The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. We don't get to choose, and shouldn't be able to choose and say, "You get to live free, but you don't." And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

The next step, then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship, or if these relationships should be treated the same way a conventional marriage is. That's a tougher problem. That's not a slam dunk.

I think the fact of the matter, of course, is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.

I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can, and tolerant of those relationships. And like Joe, I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.

The Reagan Revolution

From Brad DeLong:

The "Reagan Revolution" did not shrink the size of the federal government: in 1980 when Ronald Reagan ran for president federal spending (gross of offsetting receipts) was 22.7% of GDP; in 1992 when Bill Clinton ran for president federal spending was 23.2% of GDP. The "Reagan Revolution" did change the shape of federal spending: one-third of domestic federal spending outside of the entitlement programs went missing between 1980 and 1992, replaced primarily by debt interest and secondarily by higher military spending. (A truly amazing fact, and testimony to the strength of the military-industrial complex: defense took a higher share of GDP in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union than it had taken in 1980). Higher debt interest came from the huge debts run up to finance Reagan's unfunded tax cuts. Debt held by the public amounted to 48% of GDP in 1992, compared to 26% of GDP in 1980. The 4.7% of GDP deficit of 1992 was a structural one: forecast--given then-current policies--to persist and grow as far out as the eye could see (my own winter of 1993 forecasts saw a then-current policy debt-to-GDP ratio of 72% of GDP by 2000).

The first Bush term has been a tragedy. The second one, if it happens, will be the farce.

Back from Middle Earth

I thought in many ways ROTK was the best of the 3. The first two movies never got away from feeling like "a book come to life" instead of movies in their own right. ROTK felt like a complete movie.

The Guardians of Information

Just one comment. I am really really really tired of "open secrets" about politicians and media figures not seeing the light of day due to the chummy nature of the kool kids of the Beltway.


Only in this upside down world could making peace with Ghadafi be hailed as a mighty victory in the "war on terror" by the moral clarity crowd. This is a guy who has been begging for years to normalize relations. This is a guy who has taken responsibility for blowing up a commercial airliner and has used chemical weapons in war. This is a truly nasty dictator. And we're supposed to cheer because this man, who has shown no interest in making any international mischief for years, is now our jolly old pal in exchange for us letting weapons inspectors in?

Libya's one of those countries whose position on the UN's Human Rights Commission made warbloggers (rightfully) condemn the institution as something of a gross joke (human rights organizations weren't too thrilled either).

I'm glad we're not invading but we're setting the bar rather low for the moral clarity crowd I think.

Chewbacca Lives on Endor

Love how the moral clarity dissappears when it's one of their own.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Clark and Dean

Forget style. Forget campaigning and fundraising talent. On substance, how different are they? The media paints Dean (usually) as an angry ultra-liberal peacenik McGovern. I don't think they've quite gotten the Clark meta-narrative down yet, but it definitely isn't that. In terms of stated policy - the war, gay rights, etc... - I don't see much daylight between them. So, why the different media treatment?

By different treatment I don't mean that I think they've been hard on one candidate and soft on the other, I just find it odd that their positions on the "controversial" issues seem to be pretty consistent, yet only Dean gets hit on them. Clark gets hit for other reasons of course.

Fish Report with a Beat

So, for some reason I fell for some scamster of a travel agent who sold me on fishing trip on the Hudson River. Needless to say, the fishing there sucks as I realized pretty quickly so I was forced to go and do non-fishing things in New York City.

In addition to my usual wandering around while thinking "why won't someone pay enough so I can live here in style," I put on the Groucho glasses to conceal the secret identity and paid a visit to the Sirius radio studios to say hello to Michelangelo Signorile.

The Sirius organization was quite impressive in a spooky sort of way. They take up a couple of floors in the McGraw Hill building in Rockefeller Center. It's one part NASA and 4 parts sweatshop for DJs. The giant satellite tracking screen in the front lobby with the associated knobs and buttons which do who knows what was stunning. The rest of the place is row after row after row of soundproofed studios - some of reasonable size, some tiny closets - filled with people chained to their microphones.

Anyway, even if you lack a satellite radio system you can listen to Signorile's show streaming on the internet from 1-4 EST here at SiriusOutQ.

and no red snapper


Flash from American Stranger.

Cutting Out the Middleman

Remember how all the warbloggers were criticizing state run media? Well, here we go...

News executives of most Boston television stations are decidedly unenthusiastic about a Bush administration plan to transmit news footage from Iraq for local TV outlets in an attempt to supplement media coverage from that war-torn country

The satellite link, dubbed "C-SPAN Baghdad," is designed to put a more positive spin on events and circumvent the major networks by making it possible for press conferences, interviews with troops and dignitaries, and even footage from the field to be transmitted from Iraq for use by regional and local media outlets, according to news accounts.

"I'm kind of appalled by it. I think it's very troubling," said Charles Kravetz, vice president of news at the regional cable news outlet NECN. "I think the government has no business being in the news business."

"We have no interest in this," said WBZ-TV (Channel 4) news director Peter Brown. "The Fourth Estate is independent and should remain so. As news providers, we should go there and see for ourselves."

Nice words, but I'm sure they'll be running it unedited in no time.


If you're a Republican you can lie with impunity and engage in corrupt practices because God says it's okay.

You can have children out of wedlock.

No matter what - It's Okay If You're A Republican!

Children's Prison

It'd be nice if Lileks and his fellow travellers would occasionally muster a bit of outrage over stuff like this.

Oakley houses about 325 boys and Columbia houses about 200 boys and girls. Most are non-violent offenders. The average stay is two to three months.

Among the abuses uncovered: suicidal girls were stripped naked and placed in solitary confinement in a dark cell with only a drain for a toilet, boys were forced to run with mattresses strapped to their backs, girls who threw up while running in the heat were forced to eat their vomit, and youths were tied to poles or hog-tied.

Time for some regime change in Mississippi.

Jolly Old Pals

The WaPo tells us what Rummy and Saddam chatted about way back when.

Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States' public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington's attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents.

Rumsfeld, then President Ronald Reagan's special Middle East envoy, was urged to tell Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz that the U.S. statement on chemical weapons, or CW, "was made strictly out of our strong opposition to the use of lethal and incapacitating CW, wherever it occurs," according to a cable to Rumsfeld from then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

The statement, the cable said, was not intended to imply a shift in policy, and the U.S. desire "to improve bilateral relations, at a pace of Iraq's choosing," remained "undiminished." "This message bears reinforcing during your discussions."

Unhappy with the filter? You can read the minutes here.

Spousal Privelege

Signorile's column this week highlights one right not shared by gay people because of their inability to marry which hadn't occurred to me before.

"If you are a homosexual talk show host," O’Donnell continued, "and you’re sued by a corporation, anything you have ever said and/or written to your spouse/partner/wife is allowed to be entered into the record."

14:56 . . . 14:57 . . . 14:58 . . .

Thumb's Excellent Adventure.

Obviously my best attempts to prevent Atrios from re-taking precious from me have failed. Probably for the better, this is much tougher than it looks (I'm beginning to think Atrios is really two or three different people . . . there's just no other way). As I look back on my week of unadulterated power (preciousssss) I want to thank everyone who sent in tips and leads. I'd also like to tell people that the marriage poll has already been posted. That was for some reason the most frequently requested link and links still keep coming in for that. I also want to extend a special thanks to Dave from Seeing the Forest, Stranger at Blah3 and David at Orcinus for their rapid response to my emergency flare Tuesday. All and all a great week, if you ignore that little episode where I drove Eschaton into the power pole that feeds Blogger and blacked out half of the Blogosphere [hehe, oops!]. But there was one moment that will always stand out as a highlight of my week; having The Virgin Ben threaten me with legal action:


Please take my phone number down from your website immediately (in the comments section). If this is not done, I will resort to legal action.

Thank you,
Ben Shapiro

To which I was able to reply:

As a guest poster I don't have the ability/knowledge to delete/edit comments. Maybe Atrios can help you when he gets back from where ever he is this Saturday. Is your number not public information? How did this guy get it? BTW - Why aren't you eager to enlist? Doesn't it bother you to be a sideline cheerleader in the style of Pravda or is it really just about the money (I understand Republicans pay their sycophants much better)? Do you really still live with mom and dad? Dude, get a life.

He never replied. ::sniff::

Now, without further ado, I slip back into the safety and comfort of sniping, griping and snarking from the trenches that are the comments section, where the real heavy lifting gets done, right Holden?

Science Friday

Actually I was really looking forward to a little Friday Cat Blogging and had the perfect photo of "Yoda" all prepared. Unfortunately I'm a computer troglodyte and so I gave up trying to figure out uploading and posting a picture before I crash blogger. Again. Sooo, as a very close second I'll honor Kos' Science Friday with one of my favorite obscure science subjects, polar shift:

The North and South Poles have not always been in their present locations. Several theories have been offered to explain observed and suspected movements of the poles in relation to the surface of the Earth. Plate tectonics, the prevailing theory, suggests gradual movements of the surface of the Earth. This theory has been called into question by recent measurements of relative movements of the earth's surface, and by accumulating seismological data. Alternative theories include: Axial shifts; polar wander; and a catastrophic form of polar wander known as Earth crust displacement.

Earth crust displacement?

"An earth crust displacement, as the words suggest, is a movement of the ENTIRE outer shell of the earth over its inner layers. If you remove the peel from an orange and then reattach it to the fruit you can visualize the possibility of the peel moving over the inner layers. The earth's crust, according to Charles Hapgood, can similarly change its position over the inner layers. When it does the globe experiences climatic change. The climatic zones (polar, temperate and tropical) remain the same because the sun still shines on the earth from the same angle in the sky. From the perspective of people on the earth at the time, it appears as the sky is falling. In reality it is the earth's crust shifting to another location. Some land moves toward the tropics. Others shift, with the same movement, toward the poles. Yet others may escape such great changes in latitude."

"Working on the assumption that the earth's magnetic poles are usually close to the poles of rotation, Hapgood collected geomagnetic rock samples, finding evidence that the most recent earth crust displacement must have occurred between 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. The North Pole would have moved from the Hudson Bay area of northern Canada to it's current place in the Arctic Ocean. More recently, Langway and Hansen (1973) gathered climactic data pointing to a dramatic change in climate at 12,000 years ago. At that time, the Pleistocene extinctions, rising ocean levels, the close of the ice age, and the origins of agriculture all seem to coincide."

Simply stated imagine the earth as a giant gyroscope. As ice builds up in the polar regions weight is moved from the equator to the poles. Try this with a gyroscope at home and see what happens. Not a pretty site. Anyway, this weight displacement theoretically reaches a critical point whereas the outer crust of the planet shifts slightly bringing the ice caps into warmer regions (where they immediately begin melting) and regions that were warmer into newly created polar regions where the ice can begin to reform. Hence we have a region of Siberia where there's been hundreds of thousands of warm climate animals found frozen whole and ancient maps of Antarctica showing an exposed coastal line that only satellite radar imaging can find today.

Silver lining? I don't think we have to worry about excessive polar ice building up this time around.

Back from Fishing

I've returned and gone through about 250 emails. Much appreciation to Thumb for helping out while I was gone - he may be with us for a day or two longer if he wishes as I get caught up...

I mean, you're a great guy and all, buuut . . .

I think we all need to put our arm around his shoulder and whisper in his ear.

Deja vu

So, after taking a moment to clean the spittle from my screen, I'm reading through the comments this morning and came across this largely innocuous post:

The Washington Post has decided to join the VRWC. Their editorials these days seem to be written by Rover at the WH.

In their cockeyed estimation, the war is great, the economy is resurgent and the deficits are only a temporary illusion.

While the NYTimes fires reporters for lying and making things up, the WP doesn't even reprimand Dr. Strangelove Krauthammer for making up whoppers in his columns on regular basis.
Rudy || 12.19.03 - 8:06 am |
And I'm thinking I've recently read something that sounded so familiar. I recognized it from one of the dead trees I carry around. Unfortunately there's no linking so I track the book down, flip through a few pages, find the right passage and give dictation to my wife (I . . . I . . . I still type with two fingers ::sob::). Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

As it became apparent that the [recession] was more than a temporary downturn, President [Bush] appointed [Karl Rove] to his three-member presidential Emergency Committee for Employment. "It was really a public relations committee, " [Rove] recalled. [Bush’s] refusal to countenance "socialist" ideas such as social security and public works programs left the committee with few options. "We encouraged various ways of spreading employment: through reduced daily and weekly schedules, shorter shifts, alternating shifts and rotation of days off...We urged employers to find personnel willing to go on furlough without pay; to disclose duplication of wage earners in the same family, as a measure of spreading wages; to maintain lists for preferential employment and to determine the adequacy of part-time wages." In the end, however, [Karl Rove]realized, "These efforts were all ineffective. Particularly unsound was the share-the-work idea, which put the onus of sacrifice on the shoulders of the wage earner instead of the employer." Advertisers and businesses offered empty slogans such as "Be patriotic and spend money," "Spend ten cents more each day and help drive hard times away," or "Help the jobless by doing your Christmas shopping now." As the economy careened into deeper and deeper trouble, newspapers resorted to desperate cheerleading. "Optimism Gains as U.S. Speeds Jobless Relief," read one headline. "[Bush's] Drive to Aid Jobless Shows Results," read another. "President Declares Voluntary Cooperation of Industry Will Solve Problems."

[Karl Rove] joined [Bush’s] doomed campaign for reeelction. He helped line up experts to sing [Bush’s] praises, including a pair of Yale economists who predicted the economy was now on a "sound foundation" and "the run of the dollar had been stopped." He formed a "Non-Partisan Fact-Finding Committee" which issued a poll showing [Bush] trouncing his opponent, [any Democratic contender]. Outside the circle of businessmen and their sycophants, however, no one believed a word of it. The election of [any Democratic contender] brought new experts into power, with new and grandiose ideas about what could and should be done to secure the general welfare. For [Bush] and the old guard, it was the end of an era and everything that they believed in, but for [Karl Rove] and the propaganda industry, business was booming like never before.

Of course the year is 1932 and you need to replace [recession] with depression, [Bush] with Hoover, [Karl Rove] with Edward Bernays and [any current Democratic contender] with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Taken from this book, pages 51,52.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


[Credit alert commenter Cheryl for the assist]

SAN FRANCISCO -- At least five convicted felons secured management positions at a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, according to critics demanding more stringent background checks for people responsible for voting machine software.

Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records.

The programmer, Jeffrey Dean, wrote and maintained proprietary code used to count hundreds of thousands of votes as senior vice president of Global Election Systems. Diebold purchased GES in January 2002.

According to a public court document released before GES hired him, Dean served time in a Washington state correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that "involved a high degree of sophistication and planning."

What the hell is wrong with this country!?!? Screw Saddam. Screw Michael Jackson and screw every other stinking story the press thinks we should give a flying shit about. There should be no other story more important!!! None! Period. Nothing cuts to the core of our democracy, any democracy, like voting. Voting is democracy! Why did we fight the British for independence? Why did we fight the Nazis? The communists? What the hell have we been shedding blood over if not to defend the right of a free people to choose their own Representative government!?!?

Hello 60 minutes? Hello 20/20? Hello Nightline? Hello anyone??? Sure we can all call Barbra Boxer's office and we can all call our local rep's office and we can all call our state senator but maybe it's time we start a full court press on the press! Have we fallen so far into one party rule that one party control of our voting apparatus just doesn't matter??

Here's a plan. Go here and print out any of the stories. Take a big black marker and hand write WHY IS THIS NOT BEING COVERED?? over it and mail it to every paper in your city. Start sending in letters to editors. Start sending letters to your favorite candidates campaign. Hey DNC: want a talking point? How about PRESERVE DEMOCRACY NOW! If this story can't be taken seriously then nothing else matters! Game over. Pack it up.

If this isn't corrected by the '04 elections then our wildest dreams will be little more than our worst nightmares.

God this story just pisses me off.

You be the judge has been putting together a competition for Bush attack ads, set to be televised during the week of the President's State of the Union Address this January. In their own words:

When we announced the launch of our "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest back in October, we expected maybe 300 people would take the time to make a TV ad that tells the truth about President Bush. But when we reached the submissions deadline in early December, we had over 1,000 ads -- including some of the best political ads we've ever seen.

Now, we're counting on you to help us narrow the field from 1,000 ads to 15 finalists. Our panel of celebrity judges will pick the winning ad from among those finalists, and we'll run it in January during the week of Bush's State of the Union address. All 15 of the top ads will be featured in a Bush in 30 Seconds awards show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on January 12th.

Here is the page to register to vote. I assume the sign up is to avoid multiple votes by any one person. I personally think is doing things exactly right. Not only are they one of the largest progressive advocacy groups but they're finding ways to make use of thousands of people who want to help in some way but that the DNC doesn't know how to work with (stuffing envelopes is so 20th century).

If you're not a member of MoveOn, you should be. Here's your chance. Do the right thing.


Demagogue make me laugh.

(oh, and his post below on Diebold is good too)

Go, go, go . . .

Or the terrorists win.

Speaking of American citizen terrorists . . .

From David Neiwert I learn that his friend and fellow reporter Daniel Levitas has more information coming out about those Terrorists in Texas:

In April, as Baghdad fell and American soldiers began searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, federal officials uncovered a cache of deadly chemicals much closer to home — in the eastern Texas town of Noonday. The stockpile included a fully functional sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing hundreds, as well as neo-Nazi and antigovernment literature, illegal weapons, half a million rounds of ammunition, and more than 100 explosives, including bombs disguised as suitcases.

Now if only they had found a copy of the Koran on them maybe they'd be in a Navy brig today somewhere near Padilla, Ashcroft would be holding a press conference in front of a screen with dozens of stenciled "Making America Safer" slogans on it and it would be leading the all news cycles. Just like Padilla. But they weren't like Padilla. They were red blooded American Militia.

William Krar, a 62-year-old manufacturer of gun parts and a right-wing extremist who had rented the storage locker in which the cache was found, has pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing a chemical weapon and faces a possible life sentence. Two others — Judith L. Bruey, Mr. Krar's companion, and Edward Feltus, a member of a paramilitary group called the New Jersey Militia — are awaiting sentencing.

But surely Ashcroft is all over this, right? Right?

Americans should question whether the Justice Department is making America's far-right fanatics a serious priority. And with the F.B.I. still struggling to get up to speed on the threat posed by Islamic extremists abroad, it is questionable whether the agency has the manpower to keep tabs on our distinctly American terror cells. There is no accurate way of analyzing the budgets of the F.B.I., Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to discern how much attention is being devoted to right-wing extremists. But in light of the F.B.I.'s poor record in keeping tabs on the militia movement before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, one wonders whether the agency has the will to do so now.

"Unfortunately, keeping track of right-wing and neo-Nazi hate groups isn't necessarily a path to career advancement in the Bureau," a Justice Department official told me not long after the Oklahoma City attack. "Agents get ahead by solving real crimes, like bank robbery, espionage and murder."

Remember folks, sodium cyanide bombs, illegal weapons, half a million rounds of ammunition, and more than 100 explosives, including bombs disguised as suitcases don't threaten American security, terrorists do. And they're not terrorists if they're Americans with real American names like William, Judith or Edward. But it would be a very different story if their names were Mohammad. Or Jose.

Well, maybe not a different story. But I'm sure it's a story we'd at least be able to hear about.

Someone send Bush a hanky

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The president of the United States does not have the power to detain an American citizen seized on U.S. soil as an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, in a serious setback to the bush administration's war on terror.


"Where, as here, the President's power as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the domestic rule of law intersect, we conclude that clear congressional authorization is required for detentions of Americans on American soil...."

Of course the Bush administration had a perfectly good reason for tearing up the Constitution, um, I mean extra-judicially holding an American citizen:

Federal prosecutors have argued Padilla should not have access to attorneys because they said he posed a threat to national security and defense lawyers would interfere with his interrogation. They also believe defense lawyers could unwittingly be used to pass messages to al Qaeda operatives.

Isn't that just like a defense lawyer? Always getting in the way of a good interrogation. And don't even get me started on how often defense lawyers are unwittingly used to pass on secret messages to international terrorists. That always makes me so mad.

Update: Make that a full box of Kleenex:

US court grants Guantanamo rights

"Even in times of national emergency... it is the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike," said the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It added it could not accept the position that anyone under the jurisdiction and control of the US could be held without "recourse of any kind to any judicial forum, or even access to counsel, regardless of the length or manner of their confinement".

This might be a good time to run out and by a lottery ticket. Can't trust the stars and planets to stay aligned forever now, can we?

Say what?

Today, unlike yesterday, I figured I should make the effort to peek in on the comments after I post something. Sure enough, I can't get more than a half dozen comments into it before I'm overcome with the need to jump into the fray.

But, unlike any normal day, I'm keeping the precious warm and I can't resist making this response in the main window.

Power is funny that way.

Anyway, to the post below Carnovsky has this to say:

Oh, how I wish we were still in the mid-90s when the administration was oh so forthcoming with documents that could be used against them.

But, Democrats have always been for complete disclosure! We have always been at war with Oceania!

To which I would just like to point out this:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge handed the [Bush] Justice Department a victory this week by upholding the Bush administration's request to keep secret documents about pardons President Clinton considered during his final days in office.

In a 14-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said the "presidential communications privilege" invoked by President Bush's lawyers should be preserved to allow aides to give their most candid advice in confidence.

Maybe Carnovsky should just change his name to Winston Smith now and save us all the confusion.

Yeah, what he said.

"We watch the American government be friends with this dictator over here and support him, because he will give you the oil or minerals or something that you want," one person stood up to say. "But then with this other dictator over there, who is not so friendly and cooperative, you will start talking about democracy just so you can get rid of him. This is so hypocritical, to use democracy this way, like a weapon. Do Americans think that the world does not understand what it is you are doing?"

Of course it doesn't help when your self anointed administration, "is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation, distrust, deceitfulness)."

And speaking of manipulation, distrust and deceitfulness:

White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which turned out to be a gross understatement of the tens of billions of dollars the government now expects to spend.

Recently, however, the government has purged the offending comments by Natsios from the agency's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished.

This is not the first time the administration has done some creative editing of government Web sites. After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, administration Web sites have been scrubbed for anything vaguely sensitive, and passwords are now required to access even much unclassified information. Though it is not clear whether the White House is directing the changes, several agencies have been following a similar pattern. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead. The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, scrapped claims on its Web site that there was no association between abortion and breast cancer. And the Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site.

For all those long years of the cold war, I think somebody should have reminded these guys that if you fight the same enemy long enough, you become them.

Smarter Officials Please

Officials say Saddam capture could help in capture of bin Laden, others

Their reason?

"The fate of Saddam Hussein will increase the human intelligence the people here are already giving us as they help in the fight against the enemies of Afghanistan," he told AP from Bagram Air Base, U.S. military headquarters.

"Ohh, now I'm remembering where Osama is hiding. Yes, yes, it's starting to come back to me."

Officials say Sunday's images of a captured Saddam, looking tired with a wild, unkempt beard, might give pause to potential militants thinking of taking on the U.S.-led coalition here.

"I saw Saddam's picture in the news. Hooo nooo, he didn't look good. And that beard? You think maybe we should just put down our arms? That's a fate I'm not prepared for."

"A lot of what we see (in Afghanistan) is irrational and misguided," said German Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth, commander of a 5,500-strong international peacekeeping force that patrols the Afghan capital. "Whoever tends toward extremism might now think twice about it."

Because now, through the magic of Saddam's capture, they're rational and guided? Uhh, yeah. Whatever you say. That makes perfect sense. Uh huh.

"There is a psychological synergy between the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, so if there is any setback in Iraq it will have a ripple effect in Afghanistan," he said. "Bin Laden and his group will be on the defensive and demoralization may set in."

Synergy? I tend to doubt that the Afghan Warlords are paying much attention to The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership. Besides, wasn't the removal of Saddam and his non-secular rule one of Osama's goals, along with the removal of US bases in Saudi Arabia (I wonder how that ever turned out)? Demoralized? Yeah, you betcha.

Well, you can't argue with experts like that. Expect the Afghans to give up and turn over Omar and Osama any day now.

Oh look, monkeys flying out of my . . .

Ho hum . . .

I think the saddest part of this story is that I don't think my outrage meter moved an inch (not that there's a lot of room to move). But still, what's it going take to pry the rest of the press away from the shiny bounce ball?

The Federal Election Commission has determined that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's unsuccessful 2000 Senate reelection campaign violated election laws by accepting $110,000 in illegal contributions from a committee Ashcroft had established to explore running for president.


"Spirit of America PAC and Ashcroft 2000, respectively, violated the [law] by making and receiving this excessive contribution. Additionally, Spirit of America PAC and Ashcroft 2000, respectively, violated the [law] by failing to disclose the making or receipt of the excessive contribution," the FEC declared in a news release.

Shouldn't we have a higher standard for Attorney General? How bad have things gotten when this looks like small potatoes? How far have we come since Whitewater?

Sad. Very sad.

- Thumb

Update: Great line from Good German, "Anyone remember when we needed a special prosecutor because Al Gore used the wrong telephone?"

Buddy, that was a millennium ago.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Pass the popcorn

Kos beat me to it.

For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

I just knew I'd regret leaving my computer for even a second.

- Thumb

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha . . .

Interesting Newsweek poll. I'm not sure if it's been net-bombed, yet, but there is a huge discrepancy between net based responses and normal responses (where those came from I didn't notice).

Plus, I know that Dean has become the center of the political world and all, but when did Newsweek start taking its political advice from Ted Rall?

(For the record I agree with Digby, but for different reasons)

By popular request . . .

Okay, I passed on this the first time it was sent to me. And I passed on this the second time it was sent to me. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth . . .

Paris Hilton should get this much attention.

It's a poll by some goofball American Family Association and I figured they're going to ignore or lie about ["technical" problems] any results they don't want to see anyway. And they've split the opposition vote already. And they ask for a form to be filled out first. I wanted to ignore them. My fans [I love you all] don't want me to ignore them. Point: fans.

America's Poll on Homosexual Marriage


- Thumb

Running for Vice president?

From CNN:

BLITZER: Senator Glenn, while I have you, I remember interviewing you many times where you were in the U.S. Senate, a member of the Armed Services Committee, a member of the Intelligence Committee. In terms of the war on terrorism, is the American public safer today now that Saddam Hussein has been captured?

GLENN: The American public? Well, I'd be hard pressed to say that, that the American public. I didn't see Saddam Hussein as being quite the danger that some other people did.

His neighbors were not really afraid of what he was doing over there. We haven't found any weapons of mass destruction yet. I'm glad we have him. He was a bad man, there's no doubt about that.

But as far as, do I feel safer because he's been captured? Well, I'm glad he was captured. But do I feel safer? No, I guess I don't feel that much safer.

Hmmm . . . didn't I just hear something similar from Dean?

"Anti-war candidate Howard Dean said Monday 'the capture of Saddam has not made America safer,' directly contradicting President Bush and drawing the wrath of two Democratic presidential rivals. "


Sen. Joe Lieberman, said Dr. Dean is in a 'spider hole of denial,' a reference to Mr. Hussein's ignominious hideout and Dr. Dean's assessment of the capture's impact. "

Why does Lieberman hate John Glenn?

(Thanks to Frank Lynch for the assist)

- Thumb

Support Our Troops!

Oliver at The Liquid List has an idea:

"It turns out that soldiers are writing to their families from Iraq asking for toothpaste, shampoo, and other basic needs that the military makes them buy. Yes, makes them buy. Why, you may ask, isn't the military providing this stuff for free? That's a damn good question, and should be directed to Don Rumsfeld, pronto. But while we await his answer, we can send necessities from Operation USO Care Package.

Along with the package, OUSOCP allows you to include a personal note to a soldier. Atrios commenter Spocko offered this example: 'This package brought to you by a liberal democrat who loves America and disagrees with the policies that got you there, but cares about your health and safety.' I think it's a perfect message."

So do I.

[PS - take that you sniveling little twit. Get back to me if you ever see the inside of a recruiting office without crapping your pants]

Target Rich environment

Body and Soul talks about an idea that I think is central to our purpose as Watchers of the Watchdogs, er, make that Watchkittens:

"A once a week open thread on press atrocities -- the articles that transcend normal press incompetence and rise to high levels of jingoism or sycophancy. The worst of the week."

Now, any of us can tune into Faux, MSNBC, CNN [Clinton News, Not] et al any time of the day and find an abundance of supporting evidence, and I'm willing to bet that any of us can open any paper from just about any metropolitan area and be bombarded with more evidence (as my mailbag proves) of blatant sycophancy on a case by case basis, but what really cooks my noodle is when the press moves collectively to the call of the RNC:

"The Bush administration is moving to quash any public airing of such scandalous pardons as that of fugitive Marc Rich, and the sleazy activities of first brother Roger Clinton in trying to arrange pardons-for-a-fee for convicted felons.


The White House warns that documents dealing with the last-minute pardons issued by the former president should not be revealed to the public because releasing them would set a precedent that would hamper a president's ability to get confidential advice from parties outside the White House. "The president is entitled to receive confidential advice and candid assessments from government attorneys," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "

What's always struck me as troubling about this is not so much Bush's desire to keep the press away from anything he might want to do with his own pardons [shudder], that's just par for the course, but that at the height of a full blown press feeding frenzy Bush can say, "Oh, pardons? I want unfettered pardons. Stop going there." and POOF, overnight pardons are no longer an issue. The press, the whole mainstream press community, drops the issue with all the subtlety of "Yes sir, right away sir, anything you say, sir!"

Trees, meet forest.

- Thumb

Up, down . . . black, white . . .

SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

BUSH: So what’s the difference?

Anyone else remember a time when semantics mattered?

Yeah, me neither.

The [not so] full transcipt can be found here, but it took Bill Scher
at the Liberal Oasis to find that the best parts didn't seem to make the web. Go figure.

- Thumb

Jee Billy, you broke Blogger. Dad's gonna be mad at you.

Well, not in a technical sense. It's just my luck.

This is reminding me of that first drive in the Mazda more and more, except that then I didn't wonder if the RNC wasn't secretly trying to prevent me from making it home.

- Thumb

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Preznit no giv me turkee

"Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away.

The newspaper, quoting two officials with the Army's 1st Armored Division in an article last week, reported that "for security reasons, only those preselected got into the facility during Bush's visit. . . . The soldiers who dined while the president visited were selected by their chain of command, and were notified a short time before the visit."

The paper also published a letter to the editor from Sgt. Loren Russell, who wrote of the heroism of his soldiers and then added: "Imagine their dismay when they walked 15 minutes to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, only to find that they were turned away from their evening meal because they were in the wrong unit. . . . They understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away?"

Russell added that his soldiers "chose to complain amongst themselves and eat MREs, even after the chow hall was reopened for 'usual business' at 9 p.m. As a leader myself, I'd guess that other measures could have been taken to allow for proper security and still let the soldiers have their meal."

It really is all just stagecraft at this point, isn't it.

- Thumb


The Bush administration is catching and punishing far fewer polluters than the two previous administrations, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of 15 years of environmental-enforcement records.


Those pollution citations dropped 12 percent from 2001 to 2002, and another 35 percent from 2002 through the first 10 months of 2003. …

Some current EPA enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from their bosses, say they're getting the signal to slow down enforcement cases.

"It's very discouraging," said one official. "We're concerned about people's health. We have a job that we're supposed to be doing and we're not doing it. And we should be." …

"It's a sign that this administration is flat-out falling down on the job," said Dan Esty, a deputy assistant EPA administrator during the first Bush administration and now director of the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

The statistics - examined by Lowrance and other former top EPA officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations - are the standard way the EPA measured enforcement progress.

"They measure presence. They measure whether the enforcement cop is on the beat," Lowrance said, adding: "And increasingly the cop is absent."

"The cop is absent" is the halmark of the Bush administration . . . unless you're selling dildos or bongs.

- Thumb


Let me just say that I've already got Saddam Fatigue. Yeah we got him, wonderful, great, better than sex, yada, yada, yada, but at this point it's just so much celebrity/bad guy naval gazing by a press that's to cowed or too lazy to report stories that, oh, I don't know, affect our lives in the here and now:

"Today is the EPA's deadline to announce its plan for regulating mercury from coal-burning power plants. A leaked draft indicates it will downgrade mercury as a toxin while weakening efforts to clean up mercury emissions.

This weakening comes just days after the Food and Drug Administration announced that it plans to warn women of child-bearing age and children to limit consumption of canned tuna because of high levels of mercury, which can cause learning disabilities and other serious problems in fetuses and young children.

On Dec. 5, the White House summoned EPA and FDA officials to discuss the awkward timing of the contradictory mercury announcements. White House officials wanted the two agencies to brief them "to ensure federal communication about mercury risks can be defended," according to the trade publication Inside EPA.

"No one's saying what happened at the meeting," Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, told "What we do know is that President Bush's EPA is slated today to formally announce a dramatic weakening of emission limits for mercury, a potent poison for children and the unborn, from coal burning. It presents the appearance, and perhaps the reality, of allowing children to be poisoned for the sake of campaign contributions."

But like George Will said in a recent column when Kerry had the gall to contrast the war on terror to the number of people dying of AIDS, "Pthbthbppt! Now pick up that flag and start waving it." (Not an exact quote, I can't find the specific link, but close enough for horseshoes)

- Thumb

Well, that was convincing . . . NOT!

Q: "Howard Dean recently seemed to muse aloud whether you had advance knowledge of 9/11...."

Bush's response.

(I suppose it was too much to hope for a follow up question about the progress of that investigation)

- Thumb

Shorter David Brooks

From Dustin in Indianapolis:

"Sure Bush is a narrow-minded, ignorant buffoon. But at least he's willing to tell the world to 'Fuck Off!', which is a far better strategy than that angry, inexperienced Dean's strategy of trying to work with people who are different from us."

- Thumb

Low hanging fruit of the day

So I get back to the office and find 60 new emails (not counting Paris Hilton offers) with suggestions and links. Wonderful! It's like a candy smörgåsbord.

Well Saddam seems to still be a hot topic for a lot of people, so I'll just jump in there.

Rosanne in Florida links me to an article in Debka File that suggests Saddam was actually a prisoner of the Turks, who were apparently trying to negotiate for the reward when Saddam was whisked away by the Americans (I wonder if they got a receipt?). A captive of the Turks? Possibly, but I'm not sure why they would have given Saddam a pistol if he was a captive and not a fugitive. Maybe Saddam thought he was a fugitive and was unaware of the ongoing negotiations? $25 million can buy off a lot of friends.

I also got a good link from Eric C pointing to this article in the Philly that gives some [virtual] ink to several bloggers' coverage of Saddam, including our own:

"Philadelphia's anonymous blogger Atrios, writing on, agreed, saying, 'Capturing Saddam isn't going to end the resistance to the U.S. occupation in Iraq. It may improve things slightly, or it could even make it worse, but the net effect will probably be negligible.'"

To which I'd like to add; no shit Sherlock.

While the Right goes bananas over this, as if it suddenly justifies the entire operation (and undoubtedly those operations yet to come), this really should have as much affect on ending terrorism as the capture of Pablo Escobar had on ending illegal cocaine shipments. Probably less, considering that Pablo was actually central to a vast cocaine production/transportation system while Saddam was tangentially involved in terrorism (at best) and otherwise living in a hole in the ground.

Want to suck the joy out of your favorite neo-con at work? Try this: Our UPS driver, a real Gun in One Hand Bible in the Other Republican struts in yesterday, happy as could be.

"Heeeey! You hear they got Saddam?"

Me - with straight face: "Yeah, this is great news! The attacks should stop now, shouldn't they?"

"Uh, I don't know about that . . ."

". . . but we can at least start bringing our troops home, right?"

"Uhhh, [changes subject] but hey, the Iraqis are sure happy about it."

"And I'm sure they'd like to go about putting their country back together now, too. So, now that Saddam is caught, how long do you think until we get to bring our troops home?"

"Uhh, I gotta go."

He didn't have quite the same bounce in his step as he left.

Troll prophylactic: Saddam was a BAD, BAD man and the world is a better place with him in custody. But, at $150,000,000,000, how many more BAD men do we take out next?

- Thumb

First, They Came for the Vibrators...

Gotta love Texas.


Bad Headline Writing



The Big Easy

Wife's birthday today so it's off for Birthday Breakfast and some shopping. With that I turn the asylum over to the inmates. But just for a few hours.

Open thread. Knock yourselves out.

- Thumb

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Learning Curve

I was always afraid of the water. Around my 9th or 10th birthday my mother decided that I was going to learn how to swim. She took me to the pool, walked me to the deep end and told me we weren't leaving until I jumped in and swam to the shallow end. No questions. After testing her resolve (i.e. much kicking and screaming) I jumped in and feverishly paddled my way to the shallow end.

Seven years later, shortly after receiving my drivers license, Dad decides I need a car of my own. He takes me to a friend of his selling an old Mazda. We get there, he pays the man and I get in my new car. Dad says to follow him home. 25 miles through the city. I look down and see this strange third peddle. "What's this?" I ask. Dad leans his head in the car and says, "It's called a clutch. You push it in to change gears [points to stick shift]. Let it out slowly to make the car go. Now follow me home."

So yesterday Atrios emails me asking if I want to fill in for a few days. [After picking myself up off the floor] I say, "sure." Then he sends me a link to and says, "Jump in and swim to the shallow end." No, wait, that was Mom. He said, "Now follow me home." No, no, that wasn't it. Well, it was something like that. I was too busy doing the Happy Snoopy dance to notice.

- Thumb



The one thing on which everyone now agrees is that this man caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own people and kept most of the rest in fear and misery. Ironically, that was a vision first painted nearly 15 years ago by international human rights groups, during a period in which American presidents, as well as most of the rest of the world, treated him as a valuable ally and a bulwark against Iranian extremism.



Some Americans still seem to feel that even suggesting the possibility of profiteering is somehow unpatriotic. They should learn the story of Harry Truman, a congressman who rose to prominence during World War II by leading a campaign against profiteering. Truman believed, correctly, that he was serving his country.

On the strength of that record, Franklin Roosevelt chose Truman as his vice president. George Bush, of course, chose Dick Cheney.

Bow Ties Over Baghdad

Kudos to Tucker Carlson for actually going to Iraq. I hate the conservative hack buffoon he usually plays on Crossfire, but elsewhere he generally plays it pretty straight. He seems to be a fairly decent guy:

CARLSON: Well, I just got here, so I don't know much about the security situation other than people act like it's very dangerous.

We heard gunfire within moments of getting to Baghdad. We left about noon from the Kuwait border to the south, rolled right across the border. I never spoke to a single official. It's pretty wide open, it seemed to me.

Didn't see a single American soldier until we arrived at the CNN bureau here at the Palestine Hotel. Not a single one.

And drove very fast. I went with Kelly McCann, a CNN contributor, a frequent CROSSFIRE guest and guys who work for him, mostly ex-Special Forces. We drove about 100, 120 most of the way, heavily armed.

Pulled over for gas at one point. There are these enormous gas lines here, four-mile long gas lines in some cases. Pulled in, you know, nine armed guys with machine guns got out of our cars, out of our convoy, sort of took over the gas station, you know, blocked off entrance, searched cars, looked through cars, that kind of thing, while we filled up.

People seem like it's threatening. One of the guys I was traveling with is a former Marine recon guy, Special Forces guy, who spent five months in Somalia in the early '90s. And he said he believed after living here for six months that it's more dangerous than Mogadishu, is what he said.

Again I don't quite know how to evaluate that. But spending the rest of the week here, I'll find out. But that's what people say.


But I will, I think, get a better sense of how the country is running. And it seems to me, you know, is it safe to walk outside is a pretty good measure. Again, I don't know that.

I can tell you that coming over here, we're staying far outside the Green Zone in a house. I'm staying with Kelly McCann and some of the guys he works with.

Just coming over here to the CNN bureau, we put on body armor, and they, you know, got a whole carload of weapons. And it was night. Most people don't travel at night here. But there was a sense, you know, it's dangerous to go to the CNN bureau.

Again, I don't know what that means. It seemed perfectly safe. But who knows?

CARVILLE: Let me get on a human thing, there's a four-mile gas line, and you guys pull up in front of the line and people get out with machine guns and sort of commandeer the gas station.

CARLSON: That's right.

CARVILLE: And fill you up with gas. You don't think that the Iraqis might -- as a human being, they might resent that?

CARLSON: No, that's absolutely right. It's exactly the kind of behavior that I've always resented, frankly, watching the Secret Service behave that way as they invariably do, as you know. And so of course, it is bad.

However, as a Westerner traveling here, there's really no option. You put yourself at some risk if you don't do that. If you were to, for instance, get boxed in by traffic...

CARVILLE: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

CARLSON: Well, that's right. But more damned if you don't. CARVILLE: Dead if you don't.

NOVAK: This is an occupied city in a country that was defeated in the war. What's the traffic situation like? Is the -- Are the streets free of cars?

CARLSON: Well, they're not at night. But it's interesting. Apparently part of the reason there are these incredibly long gas lines is because there are so many more cars in Baghdad.

Apparently the CPA, the coalition, lifted the duty on cars. Good for them. And so somewhere between -- CNN is saying somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 new cars have come just in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of new cars. That's part of the problem; it's just there aren't enough gas stations. And there are other reasons for it.

But yes, there's a ton of traffic on the road, which suggests that it's not that dangerous, if people are conducting commerce, and they are. I don't know; I've only been here 12 hours.


A few people sent me this flubbed captioning at CNN, but I didn't have a chance to confirm if it was real or someone's editing job.

11 O'Clock News Teaser

"We'll look at whether the capture of Saddam Hussein has provided a boost for the holiday shopping season..."

Going Fishing

I'll be absent from tomorrow through Friday, and during my absence Thumb will be helping me out by guest blogging. During that time any blog-related items that aren't meant for my personally (news tips, etc...) should be sent to

Torture Lou!


More Torture! More!

Another great moment in journalism. Leslie Stahl practically begs Rumsfeld to torture Saddam. For what reason? Who the hell knows.

Mr. RUMSFELD: Well, we don't know yet, but to the extent he was involved in the insurgency after the war. That one would--a lawyer might is that--that he might be something either different from or in addition to. And that--that's why I just said he would be accorded the protections for the time being of a prisoner of war, and--and certainly his treatment would be governed by the Geneva Convention.

STAHL: Let--let me ask you--raise the whole question of--of--for lack of a better term--torture. Let's say he's not forthcoming. Would we deprive him of sleep? Would we make it very cold where he is, or very hot? Are there any restrictions on the way we treat him to get him to cooperate more than he has been?

Mr. RUMSFELD: You know, the--to even raise the word "torture" in terms of how the United States military would treat this person, it seems to me, is--is a--unfortunate. We don't torture people. And here's a man who has tortured to death tens of thousands of people, conducted rape and--and--and brutality the likes of which it would be difficult find a--a--a--a more vicious and brutal dictator who--in--in--in our adult lifetimes. And I just told you that he would be treated according to the Geneva Conventions.

STAHL: Well, you know, some...

Mr. RUMSFELD: And--and to suggest that anyone would be engaged in torture or conduct inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions it seems to me is--is not on the mark at all.

STAHL: Sleep deprivation? No? You're ruling it completely out, is what you're telling us?

Mr. RUMSFELD: I'm not telling you anything other than I have just told you. He will be treated according to the Geneva Conventions, and given the protections of a prisoner of war.

From 60 minutes last night.



WARNER: And thanks to you, Wolf. You have worked hard in this and spent many hours around this table with many colleagues of the Senate and the House in this government. And I see a twinkle in your eye this morning that I've not seen before. You have -- you deserve a little credit in your reporting of this thing all the way.

BLITZER: You're much too kind, Senator Warner. Thank you very much.

WARNER: Thank you.

(done with nedra....aarrrrgh)

Eliminationist Rhetoric

When "Travis" posts "your kind deserves to perish," he neglects to tell us whether he puts his left or right jackboot on first.

Political Hate Speech

When right wing morons and members of the White House Press Corps use this phrase, they neglect to actually tell us just what the fuck it's supposed to mean.


When Nedra Pickler expresses puzzlement that Saddam's capture hasn't caused the Democratic candidates to give up on the election entirely, she fails to inform her readers that not cancelling elections is considered by most citizens of a Democracy to be a good thing.

Low Dollar

When the liberal media reports that the dollar has reached new lows against the Euro, it fails to inform us that just yesterday the liberal media was promising that Saddam's capture would cause the dollar to soar.


In Alterman's column about Soros, he fails to inform his readers that the PATRIOT Act forbids people from donating money to liberal causes.

Regarding Soros, the editors ask Democrats "thrilled with the Soros millions" to "imagine conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife opening his bank account on behalf of Mr. Bush." Actually it's not so hard. Post editors might wish to check out a terrifically reported two-part front-page 1999 Post story by former managing editor Robert Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, which clearly demonstrates that Scaife's giving to archconservative Washington organizations dwarfs anything Soros is even contemplating. And many of these Scaife-funded groups, like those alleging the murder of Vince Foster and Bill Clinton's involvement in drug-running out of an Arkansas airport, are a great deal less healthy for the quality of public discourse than anything to which Soros has contributed (although they may have provided sources for both the Post and the Journal in their frenzied reporting on Clinton's sex life).

Perhaps the strangest sentence is the Post's demand: "Who is he [Soros] to determine the public interest?" Are these people really so wedded to the idea of themselves as the permanent governing establishment that it didn't occur to them to ask themselves, "And for that matter, who the heck are we?"


When Bob Somerby writes about Kathleen Parker, he fails to use a sufficient number of obscenities to truly express how profoundly stupid she, and the editors who run her, are. Try, if you can, to read these two consecutive sentences without having your brain explode (Eschaton not liable for expense of cleaning brains off of monitor);

Gore “loves” Dean for what Dean can give him. A Supreme Court nomination. A Cabinet position. Another vice presidency? And Dean loves Gore for bringing him the establishment credibility he needed.

What makes this folie a deux so entertaining, of course, is that Gore deeply wants the man he endorsed to lose. Gore’s endorsement is the kiss Fredo gets before his little boat ride with Michael Corleone’s hitman.

Shorter Kathleen Parker: Gore is endorsing Dean so that he will lose and be unable to appoint him to the Supreme Court.


When the Liberal media reports on the success of the Philadelphia Eagles, they fail to mention that it's only because NFL refs' desire to see teams with black quarterbacks succeed.

Go iggles!

Insufficiently Enthused

When Jesse of Pandagon notes that it was only about 5 seconds after Saddam was captured before the right wing patriotism police began to search the internet to find liberals they could chastize for being insufficiently enthused, he expresses insufficient enthusiasm about the capture of Saddam.


When World O'Crap writes its Nedra Pickler edition of Townhall Roundup, it fails to mention that Town Hall always contains insightful and intelligent political commentary.


When Jim Henley writes about Russia, he fails to mention that Russia has a flat tax. Which, according to the doctrine of Supply Side Jesus, means that it is an economic paradise unmatched by any country in the world, no matter what those lying statistics tell you.

Temp Agency Racism

When Nathan Newman writes about racism in temp agencies, he fails to mention that many African-Americans manage to make a lot of money, particularly in the sports and entertainment industries.

Powell has Prostate Cancer

In their breaking news alert informing us that Powell is undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, CNN fails to inform us that Powell's virility is unmatched.


When Juan Cole writes that the capture of Saddam may make things worse in Iraq, he fails to note that many statues have been toppled and no American soldiers have died yet today. He also fails to point out that with a name like "Juan" he isn't really a part of the Anglo-American contigent who, with either their guns or their keyboards, led to this tremendous victory which ensures that the Bush dynasty will rule far into the future.


Begins with next post.


I really hope they're right, but on NPR this morning there was a segment on jubilant military families - jubilant because they think Saddam's capture will mean their kids/spouses are coming home soon. I hope they are right, but I just can't see it. Even if this leads to a serious reduction in hostilities (again, which I doubt, but I'm happy to be wrong about this as with many things), a best case scenario still doesn't see many troops coming home any time soon.

White Man's Burden

Holy Crap.

Sunday, December 14, 2003


Professor Roger Payne has some interesting commentary on a VOA interview he did regarding Iraq.

Billmon has some comments on it.


Did CNN's transcript people stay home today? There were some doozies on Blitzer's show...

Secret Memo Found!

Another secret memo was found, and leaked to me:


Dear Saddam,
I write to update you on the progress of our massive program to create weapons of mass destruction to destroy the West. Here is our current inventory:

25,000 liters of anthrax
More than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin
500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.
Several mobile biological weapons labs.
We have an advanced nuclear weapons development program, a design for a nuclear weapon we are working on, and five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. We have sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa and are in the process of purchasing high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.


Mohammad Atta

P.S. Loved your plane plan! Keep watching CNN!
P.P.S. Osama's pissed! He's tired of being blamed for everything you do!

Enemies at Home

The NYT finally takes a look at the right wing terrorist plot that fortunately (and accidentally) was, at least for the moment, thwarted.

David Neiwert comments.

Worst Debate Ever

Jules Witcover slaps Koppel around:

Thanks a lot, Ted Koppel, for the worst presidential nomination debate yet.


Mr. Koppel's opening gambit of calling on all the candidates who thought former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean could beat President Bush next year to raise their hands immediately set a destructive tone for what was supposed to be an exploration of the issues facing the country.

When only Dr. Dean reached half-heartedly for the sky, the 90-minute farce started on a downhill slide from which it never recovered.


There was a time when news folk were supposed to keep themselves out of the story.

As an embarrassed member of the news fraternity, all I can say is: Thanks again, Ted. We needed that - like a hole in the head.

George Bush Today

Why does George Bush fail to expressed unqualified glee over the capture of Saddam? Why does he have to say "this is good, BUT..."? Why does he need to focus our attention on the negative? How dare he offer any nuance on this glorious day? Why does he want our mission in Iraq to fail?

I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East.

It Will Happen Again

Oh Jeebus:

...The cineplexes showing our Christmas war movies are already running a trailer for "The Day After Tomorrow," an epic from the creators of "Independence Day" in which an apocalyptic conflagration lays waste to major American cities. On Memorial Day, the legend on screen informs us, "It Will Happen Again" and asks, "Where Will You Be?"

What exactly is that ambiguous "It"? The vivid images in the trailer are of a devastated Los Angeles, a tempest-tossed New York.

Which is it?

Jesse's on the latest bit of nonsense being peddled in the Telegraph.

The Capture

These are just some unorganized idle thoughts before I've had a cup of coffee. Capturing Saddam is a good thing - he was a bad guy. I'm really glad he was captured and not killed.

But, it really doesn't change much. Capturing Saddam isn't going to end the resistance to the US occupation in Iraq. It may improve things slightly, or it could even make it worse, but the net effect will probably be negligible. Saddam was a bad guy, but it isn't clear he's any worse of a guy than some of the folks who are a part of our "Coalition of the Willing," so this pretense of moral clarity, etc... is ridiculous.

Saddam wasn't a threat to us. This was a war of choice and we made a bad choice (and many more bad choices subsequently). Kosovo was also a war of choice. Whether or not that was a bad choice, consider the disparity in the media coverage of those wars.

And, cynical me just has to ask - who's the enemy now? The base needs one.

Did they really call it "operation Red Dawn?" oy

Open Letter to Kerry

Dear Senator Kerry,

We write this open letter as a group of bloggers whose audience you
respect enough that you advertise on our web sites.

We are deeply disturbed that former staff members of your campaign and
other Dean rivals now working at the so-called “Americans for Jobs,
Health Care and Progressive Values” have resorted to the Willie Horton
campaign tactic of linking Howard Dean to Osama Bin Laden. Vigorous
competition among Democrats is expected and welcome, but all
Democratic leaders should denounce these kinds of tactics.

Given your staff link to this attack through your former press
secretary, Robert Gibbs—the new group’s spokesman— we feel it is
incumbent on you and your campaign to make it clear that this kind of
attack is unacceptable. Otherwise, there will be the appearance of
covert cooperation by your campaign in supporting this effort.

If your campaign does not make clear that you have no link to this
scurrilous attack, all of us will have to reevaluate our willingness
to allow advertising by your campaign on our web sites.

We don’t expect to have to make that decision, since we have faith in
your integrity and expect you to quickly make clear your denunciation
of this destructive and anti-democratic operation.


Atrios- Eschaton
Jeralyn Merritt- Talk Left
Nathan Newman-
Oliver Willis- Oliver Willis
Jesse Taylor and Ezra Klein- Pandagon

Something Right

Captured, not killed.

Be on the look out for any media people who link this to 9/11 somehow.