Saturday, January 18, 2003

Hey, tomorrow, Jan. 20th, marks the halfway point of the Bush misadministration. Humpday! (Thanks to MadKane for the reminder)

US yanks TV ads on Muslims after outcry Allied nations hit out at campaign to win the hearts and minds of Muslim and Arab populations
WASHINGTON - The US government is abandoning a high-profile television campaign, backed by President George W. Bush and aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the world's Muslim and Arab populations, after meeting stiff resistance from some crucial allied nations.
The much-hyped advertising drive, known as Shared Values, was developed by Ms Charlotte Beers, a Madison Avenue veteran who is now a State Department official.

Expanding on my previous post: I actually find it encouraging that the anti-war movement is developing without any prominent national leadership. Our media is obsessed with personalities. If any one or two individuals were to rise to that level then the whole movement would become, in the media's presentation of it, a minor adjunct to those people's personalities. Furthermore, when there is a prominent leader the movement becomes that much more vulnerable to being killed off at the head (either by a convenient scandal or a real death). I like the way this is developing and I'm not sure I want anyone to become to prominent. Especially not if they are a politician who is looking to make a name for themselves by riding the crest of a new wave.

Isn't this one of the most obnoxious things you've ever heard?
Rambo May Take on Osama & the Taliban Stallone Might Dust Off His Green Beret for Sequel
Sylvester Stallone may bring his one-man army out of retirement and send him back into Afghanistan 13 years after his last mission, London's Sunday Times reports.
In the new movie, Rambo will kick some Taliban butt, several sources report. Stallone is in Miami, reportedly working on the script. The movie, presumably Rambo IV could go before the cameras before the end of the year for a release next summer.
It was bad enough when Stallone made money off the memory of the Vietnam POW/MIA problems in Rambo II. But he has sunk even lower here.

Somebody alert Tom Brokaw!
WWII Generation Asks What This War Would Be Good For
WASHINGTON -- They survived the Depression and World War II, lived through Vietnam and Watergate, witnessed the Iranian hostage crisis, the Persian Gulf War and the Internet boom and bust. Shocked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they saw terror replayed in the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Now, members of the World War II generation are worried about a possible war in Iraq. Of all the generations studied by pollsters, these Americans -- now in their 70s, 80s and 90s -- are showing the most resistance to an invasion in Iraq in surveys of American opinion.
Members of the World War II generation interviewed for this story do not shrink from war. They almost universally supported the U.S. campaign to rout the Taliban from Afghanistan, and most would endorse further efforts to defend the United States against terrorism. Some wish the United States had been more aggressive earlier with North Korea, and one even suggested going to war against Saudi Arabia.
Instead, concerns center on the view of some that Washington has not made its case. Many are unconvinced that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is harnessing weapons of mass destruction, and they are dubious about invading his country before he has attacked the United States. Others are suspicious that President Bush and his war cabinet are motivated by a desire to avenge the first President Bush's mistakes or to capture a ready supply of oil.
My father-in-law is a 70 year old Korean war vet, strongly Republican, hated Clinton and voted for Bush. Yet he has also expressed reservations similar to those printed in this article. We need to encourage these people to speak out.

Portland also had belly-dancers. Bet they didn't have that at the "Patriots Rally". We also had a great group of cheerleaders but I haven't found any pictures of them yet.

Some pictures from the "Patrios Rally" in Washington (the pro-war rally) Anybody know what kind of military service record Curtis Sliwa has? Better watch out! The rally is in danger of being overwhelmed by the journalists sent to cover it.

Here's one of the more creative caricatures at the Portland march

More poll numbers courtesy of Drudge (via Atrio)
New York -- Over half of Americans (53%) polled approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, according to the latest TIME/CNN poll. His approval rating has dropped slightly from 55% a TIME/CNN poll in December.
Some suggested previously that the under-reported TIME/CNN poll that had Bush at 55 might have been an outlier. But there have been more polls putting him in the 50s since then. And now the newest TIME/CNN has him at 53. Maybe it's more of a leading indicator then an outlier?

Hey! For once the media reports accurate numbers in a protest rally. I just came back from the Portland march to find this on The Oregonian's web page:
More than 20,000 attend Portland peace march By GILLIAN FLACCUS The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- More than 20,000 people marched through downtown Portland Saturday to protest a possible war in Iraq in one of the city's largest peace rallies ever.
Downtown streets rang with drumbeats, cheers and peace hymns, and marchers hoisted signs that read "War is Just Terrorism With a Bigger Budget," "Preventative War: An Oxymoronic Idea" and "Grandmas for Peace."
Elderly women in wheelchairs joined families with small children, couples with dogs and hooded protesters dressed in black as the eclectic crowd wound through the city, at times stopping traffic.
I'd say 20,000 was a pretty accurate estimate. There were so many people there that the parade lapped itself. The organizers thought about continuing the march, but they had other events planned and so decided not to. To bad. It might have been fun to see how long we could have gone marching around in a big unbroken circle (Conga line!) They also said it was the largest demonstration ever of any kind in Portland history. I don't know if that is true or not, but it was impressive. The "ordinary citizens" (as opposed to the more usual group of peace activists, anarchists, etc.) easily outnumbered everyone else. I saw only three counter protestors. One was an old guy standing in his uniform on the side of the street holding a sign up to the crowd saying simply "Attack Iraq, support our corageous troops" and two other 30 somethings carrying signs of Hussein saying "Dictators don't deserve peace". The old guy got a respectful reception from what I could see and the younger guys were pretty much left alone except for a few cries from the crowd that Bush was a dictator as well. I know of no reports of any confrontations with the police. Everyone was on their best behavior and a good time appeared to be had by all. I have to say that there are two truly inspiring aspects of the growing anti-war movement: (1) it took years after the Vietnam war started for crowds of this size to develop and (2) these demonstrations are forming despite the lack of any prominent national organization or leader. For the life of me I couldn't name a single major organizing figure behind the current anti-war movement. Which is a really great thing, in my opinion, since it makes it harder for the people in power to try and kill it at its head.

I think many of the critics of Bush's economic policies have it wrong. They aren't Voodoo Economics. They are Doodoo Economics.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Here's a blast from the past.
The Attack of the Wolves The Matt Drudge & MataHariette Story January 15, 2003
On June 5, 2000, Matt Drudge in his cybercolumn The Drudge Report attacked writer John Connolly and a book he was writing for Talk Books with the working title, The Insane Clown Posse. Drudge boasted that he had somehow obtained a copy of the whole manuscript and went on to accuse the book as an attack on the sexual lives of a number of the folks involved in the events leading up to the Impeachment of then President William Jefferson Clinton.
Drudge pressed the attack for the duration of the week and the chorus was soon joined by Right -wing Conservative writer Ann Coulter and a host of other Starr supporters. Four days later, on June 9, Talk Books killed the book deal. Not long afterward, Connolly sued a woman named Hariette Surovell, a sometime writer from Manhattan, who Connolly charged had bartered parts of his manuscript to Drudge. A copy of the lawsuit follows this story.
We have obtained documents and other material that make it clear why Drudge and his right-wing pals wanted Connolly's book to never see the light of day. There is information in that book that proves that the people who went after President Clinton, and it could well be argued that he did deserve what he got, were as bad or worse as Clinton when it came to honesty and integrity. The book also raises very serious questions which go the very heart of Watergate Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's sworn testimony as to how he learned of Linda Tripp's tape recordings of Monica Lewinsky. We have also learned that the supposed "Right-wing conspiracy" theory espoused by Senator Hillary Clinton may or may not have been a reality, but they certainly circled the wagons and went on a jihad to stop Connolly's book.
The story contains links to all sorts of court documents from a lawsuit by John Connolly against the woman who allegedly leaked the book to Drudge. There are several emails where you can see the way the elves operate. Just as an example:
In July, when Surovell was served with the lawsuit, she E-mailed Drudge begging him to help her. She desperately wanted Drudge to get her a lawyer. He responds that he has contacted Ann Coulter and Richard Porter to either represent her, or recommend someone who will. Eventually Drudge E-mails Surovel, "Attorney Mark Smith of Manhattan will handle the case. He writes, "He (Smith) would consider doing a scorched earth on Connolly, etc...Keep me updated. This is the Coulter pal. I am now trying the others."

I always feel like somebodies watching me!

(cough) (cough) warming up for my "I told you so" speech...
Recession redux? Commentary: NBER may put too much weight on payrolls By Dr. Irwin Kellner, CBS
NEW YORK (CBS.MW) -- Here's a splash of cold water: The National Bureau of Economic Research, the widely acknowledged umpire of the business cycle, has just said that the U.S. may still be in the recession that began nearly two years ago
Either that, or we may have double-dipped into a new recession.

UggaBugga is the master at puting things into graphical form. Here he takes on Bush's military service history.

Bush decides that Congress doesn't matter anymore...
States Can Limit Emergency Access in Medicaid Cases
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 — In a reversal, the Bush administration has ruled that managed care organizations can limit and restrict coverage of emergency services for poor people on Medicaid.
The new policy, disclosed in a recent letter to state Medicaid directors, appears to roll back standards established in a 1997 law and in rules issued by the Clinton administration in January 2001 and by the Bush administration itself in June 2002.
Under the 1997 law, states can require Medicaid recipients to enroll in health maintenance organizations or other types of managed care. But certain safeguards for patients were built into that law. Congress, for example, stipulated that managed care organizations had to provide coverage for Medicaid patients in any situation that a "prudent layperson" would regard as an emergency.
Now the Bush administration has decided that states can place certain limits on coverage of emergency services "to facilitate more appropriate use of preventive care and primary care," the letter said.
Administration officials said today that the new policy was consistent with President Bush's desire to give states greater flexibility in the operation of their Medicaid programs.
Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, a principal author of the 1997 law, said the new policy "would undermine access to essential emergency services for low-income Americans," including children, the elderly and the disabled.
Mr. Graham said he did not understand how the administration could, by a letter, make such profound changes in a policy established by statute.
Because he is George W. Bush, Bob, and because your fellow Democrats didn't do enough to convince the guy that he isn't god.

I have a quick thought on affirmative action. I'm not a big follower of this topic, so bear with me in my amateurish attempts to solve this long-standing problem. I agree, in principle, with the stated Republican argument against affirmative action. To wit: if it is true that we want people to be judged only on their merit and not on the color of their skin (or other non-merit based characteristics), then isn't it contradictory for the government to impose a system that forces institutions, such as the colleges in Michigan, to take skin color into account in their admission policies? Ideally, we don't want a world in which anyone, government or private institution, uses factors like race, creed, religion, etc. against individuals (well, unless your one of the sheethead crowd that is). But this, as most Republicans will admit, is not an ideal world. A fundamental disagreement at the core of liberal vs. conservative views of government is what role government has to play in correcting for injustices in our society. Everyone falls on a wide spectrum of opinion on this matter. But all but the most cold-hearted would admit that racism and the evils it has bred were and are a particularly egregious injustice. If we believe that government has a role in correcting injustice then it is logical that it has a role in correcting this particular injustice. Given the assumption that government should be involved in solving this problem, the question comes down to this: can you correct for the injustices caused by a philosophy that has race-based assessment at its heart without yourself resorting to any form of race-based assessment? How do you even measure the success of any program of this nature without making some kind of race-based assessments? And, if an institution does not meet up to the standards defined in that measurement, how do you correct them without requiring them to make race-based assessments?

Digby (thanks for the link) has two excellent posts up this morning. One is a delightful skewering of the way the establishment press talks about politics. The other is a thoughtful rant on Bush's decision to oppose the Michigan affirmative action program.
Democrats have to recognize that the “compassionate conservative” agenda is Bush’s Achilles heel. Republicans don’t really believe in compassion as a governing principle. They think compassion enables dependency. Their operating principle is self-sufficiency. But, the GOP cannot win national elections with religious conservatives, CEO’s and white male gun owners alone. They’d like to say to hell with all this caring and sharing bullshit but they can’t because those swinging suburban women expect the government to do things to affirmatively better the lives of citizens who need help and that includes racial minorities. The Republicans don’t expect to win non-white votes, but they have to win a few of those whites who are sympathetic to the cause and it’s not easy with the confederates expecting Bush to honor the unspoken promise that if they stay quiet, he'll deliver.
I think one of the fundamental mistakes the Democrats have made in recent years is to assume that when a Republican talks about "caring" they mean it in the same way that they do. Republican ideology holds as a principle that people are best off when left to manage their own destinies. To "care" for someone means to free them from the outside influences of government. Thus, to the Republican mindset, cutting off government benefits is compassionate since it releases them from the bonds of slavery to the state. It's called "tough love". Rove and company are smart enough to know that this philosophy doesn't sell very well to the middle-class white suburbanites. So they obfuscate the issue with ambiguities about exactly what they mean by "compassionate conservatism". They fool them into thinking that what the Republicans are offering is the same kind of "caring" that the Democrats are offering, with the added benefit that they will offer it without all that pesky government interference that everyone complains so much about. Less fat, tastes great!
[The Republicans] have a problem and, in my opinion, from a strategic as well as a principled standpoint the Democrats should dig at that scab every time they try to cover it over. It is an internal inconsistency that makes them vulnerable.
I have said that the Democrats need to expose any attempts the Republicans make to woo the sheetheads. The GOP knows that their public image of compassion would suffer tremendously if held up side-by-side with their private efforts to appease the cockroaches. This is why they were so quick to eject Lott. It was the closest they have come to that particular nightmare becoming a reality.
And substantively, this whole issue is a crock. The country is veritably overwhelmed with unfair practices, from absurd drug laws to rich people buying their way out of trouble to corporations draining pension funds to red-lining to off shore tax dodges and the list goes on and on and on. We Democrats spend our lives decrying the inequality of opportunity that pervades the entire system – a progressive’s raison d’etre is to try to level the playing field. So, how absurd it is that this particular "unfairness" is such a rallying cry for Republicans, seeing as they normally consider such concerns to be examples of weak individuals who aren’t tough enough to “suck it up” “get on with it” “work harder and stop whining.”
When the Democrats try to hold the Republicans accountable for Southern-Strategy inspired politicking the GOP tries to cover up for it by screaming about political correctness and government interference. But, if you examine the pattern of issues that Republicans choose as their focus, it inevitably brings into question their true egalitarian leanings.
It is beyond comprehension that in a country with a 300 year history of slavery, apartheid and discrimination against racial minorities (that clearly persists to this day) the single most important equal rights issue presently on the table is the case of a relative handful of white people who maintain that they were unfairly denied access to the college of their choice because racial minorities were granted a small advantage roughly equal to that of a football lineman or an alumni’s idiot offspring. This is the country's burning civil rights issue that must be taken all the way to the Supreme Court, again and again and again?
Sure it is. When Republicans respond with as much outrage and passion to something like this and like this then maybe I’ll believe that they are acting out of conviction. Until then, I have to assume that the fact that the only time they get worked up about discrimination is when they perceive it to be toward white people means that they are doing what they have been doing since 1968 --- pandering to losers who are so primitive that they believe their problems would all be solved if it weren’t for those uppity blacks, lazy Mexicans and ugly women stealing away all their opportunities in life.

The History Channel last night rebroadcast a David Frost program called Lessons from the Gulf War Leaders. In it, Mr. Frost interviewed various leaders in that conflict during and soon after the war. One of the people he interviewed was George HW Bush. I only caught a few minutes of the broadcast, but it was an interesting few minutes because it dealt with the question of why we didn't go into Baghdad and remove Sadaam. Poppy made many of the same arguments we have heard in recent months about how difficult it would be to do this. How it would involve a lot of dirty, house-to-house, street fighting. How it would likely result in the use of chemical weapons against our troops. etc. etc. etc. Bush went on to say that not going in was a difficult decision to make but that he felt confident that history would prove it to have been the right one. I wonder if he would still say that now?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The only empty warheads I'm sure exist are the ones currently working in the White House.

As always, go to foreign sources to get more complete information (the BBC in this case):
Chemical warheads seized in Iraq
United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq say they have found nearly a dozen empty chemical warheads while searching an ammunition storage depot.
Eleven warheads which could be used to carry chemical warfare agents were found at the Ukhaider depot and are currently being examined by experts, a UN spokesman said.
"The warheads were in excellent condition and were similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980s," said Hiro Ueki.
He did not elaborate on the significance of the find, but the UN office in Baghdad has since told the BBC that they did not consider the discovery to be a "smoking gun" at the present time.
Could the talking heads on TV be suffering from premature wargasms? Better check those warheads and scratch off the "Made In The USA" stickers.


Wednesday, January 15, 2003

A special video preview of Bush's upcoming State Of The Union speech

Q: Ari, two things. Last week Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that soldiers drafted to service in the military, "added no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services." The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation called this an egregious slur and a great insult to the memory, sacrifice and valor of those who lost their lives in Vietnam. One Vietnam vet, Thomas Gohan (phonetic), of Rochester, New York, said this, as a draftee who spent a year of his life in Vietnam: "I would like to suggest that perhaps my inferior service to our country wouldn't have been necessary if those proud, flag-waving patriots like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the cowards had come forward to enlist. I would like to see Secretary Rumsfeld repeat his speech in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day."
Does the President agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that soldiers drafted to service added no value to the United States armed service?
MR. FLEISCHER: Russell, Russell, Russell, while I'm honored that you chose -- in the face of a Rumsfeld briefing at the same time as mine -- to come here, I'm sure that if you took the entire text of what Secretary Rumsfeld said to Secretary Rumsfeld and asked him, and shared with him the entire context of what Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would have thought twice about taking any one statement. I think if you look at everything Secretary Rumsfeld said, you'd have a very, very different picture.
This is an actual press briefing transcript. Someone must have given the press corps a shot of testorone or something for one of them to talk about the possibility that Bush was a coward (yes, the reporter was quoting a letter. But it was the reporter who made the decision to quote that letter.) (Courtesy atrios)

FYI: Blogging updates have been light of late because I have a major project milestone I'm working on.

Howie skips a step.
Let's face it: Running for president is like submitting to an endless psychotherapy session.
Everyone and his brother-in-law gets to put you on the couch and blather on about what makes you tick.
Every embarrassing thing you ever did comes trickling out into the press.
Bill Clinton's Gennifer Flowers period and non-inhaling of marijuana. George Bush's DWI arrest and unexplained break from National Guard service. Al Gore's alpha-male ambitions and earth-tones wardrobe makeover. Gary Hart's spooky changing of his name and age. Thomas Jefferson and that Sally Hemmings thing.
Why, you wonder, do people put themselves through this sort of hazing, other than, say, an insatiable lust for power? ...
Umm... Did I miss something? When was there ever any national media attention focused on Bush's AWOL status? Kurtz talks about this incident from the 2000 race as if it were a big to-do that has now passed on into the history books.

Remember when Drudge and friends made such a big deal about a few scattered boos that Hillary received?
Boos for Bush silenced at AMA?
Jan. 15 — Did ABC censor a crowd’s disapproval of George H. Bush? The former president — and father of the current president — delivered a taped message at the American Music Awards on Monday night, and sources who were there tell The Scoop that the crowd booed him.
When the band Alabama received the Award of Merit, the elder Bush’s face appeared on screen. “I’m very proud to be part of tonight’s tribute honoring one of the most highly successful bands country music has ever known,” said the former president, but his image was met with a loud chorus of boos.
One source says Randy Owen, the lead singer for the band, was “pretty shaken” by the crowd’s reaction.
The boos from the crowd, however, were not audible in the broadcast, leading some to believe that they were deleted by censors.
“To be honest, I can’t tell you,” a spokesman for ABC told The Scoop, who referred the question to a spokesman for the production company.
“I don’t know and I can’t tell you,” said a spokesman for the production company, who referred questions back to ABC.
Actually, I wouldn't necessarily read a conspiracy into the lack of boos on the broadcast. I believe it is common practice to cut out the audio feed from the auditorium when TV broadcasts cut to a message being delivered from somewhere else (either live or via tape). I think the MTV award shows are some of the few who don't do this. What is more interesting though is the fact that there were boos to begin with and that they weren't the scattered boos that we heard about for Hillary but were, instead, "a loud chorus of boos". I wonder if Drudge will report on this. (Thanks to Testify! for this item)

A telling piece of information from the Jan. 3-6 Knight-Ridder poll (courtesy
"As far as you know, how many of the September 11th terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens: most of them, some of them, just one, or none?"
Most of them 21% Some of them 23% Just one 6 % None 17% Don't know 33%
From this we can see why there is any kind of popular support for attacking Iraq and why Karl Rove earns the kind of money he makes. Face it: if I believed that Iraq was in anyway behind the 9/11 attacks then I would probably support the effort to attack them. It's just that the trivial fact that no evidence of any connection has ever been established keeps me from making that kind of comittment. But I pay attention to these things. A lot of people don't. And thus they are persuaded by the simple say-so of the Bushies that he did have something to do with them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Doxieone on Table Talk mentioned that John Stewart had a suggestion for watching Ari Fleischer: just add the words "in bed" after every statement he makes. For example:
Q But does the President think that it's wrong for the Confederate flag to be flown in public places?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President believes it's a judgment for the states to make in bed.
Q What's his personal feeling, though? Is it right or is it wrong?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a question for the states to decide. That's the President's view in bed.
Q Well, he can voice his opinion without telling the states what to do.
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a question for the states to decide, not for the President of the United States to dictate in bed.
Fun fun fun

Josh Marshal brings up a good point about the capabilities of the Bush foreign policy team:
Here's the point: if your chosen Korea point man (Kelly) goes to the region and makes a major announcement and is then undercut or repudiated by other officials back home, by definition, that's a screw up. Whoever's right, whoever's got the right policy, it's a screw up. One hand doesn't know what the other's doing. The administration can't negotiate effectively with its allies or 'talk' with the North Koreans because it hasn't even gotten to the bottom of its negotiations with itself.
This isn't even an ideological issue. It's leadership 101. You can't deal with anyone in good faith if you go into it without a consensus on what you should do. The more it is apparent that you haven't got a clue the more damaging it is to your position. It's not the size of the ship, it's the motion of the ocean. Right now the world is feeling mighty queasy.

Sauron is sick of all the fans mooning over Frodo, Legolas and Aragorn. He demands some respect!

Remember when we used to have a real president?
Dow's peak, 3 years later Jan 14, 2000 was a lofty day for the blue chips. How times have changed.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Memories of the 1990s bull market will surface once again Tuesday when the Dow Jones industrial average marks the three-year anniversary of its record high.
On Jan. 14, 2000, the Dow closed at 11,722.98. It has been downhill ever since, with the century-old index off 25 percent from its peak through Monday.

Monday, January 13, 2003

It's official. According the George W. Bush, the GOP has no racial problem.
No pandering, policy change over Lott remarks, Bush aides say Mike Allen Washington Post
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The White House and the Republican Party have decided against taking overt steps to make amends for racially charged remarks by Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., because President Bush's aides think he has nothing to apologize for and should not pander, officials said.
Once again, the problem with Lott was not that he had racist views but that he talked about them in public. As long as the racists stay in the closet the GOP will continue to pretend that they aren't providing them with aid and comfort.

Josh Marshall, once again, has a salient rundown of the foreign policy failure that is the Korean 1) The Clinton administration became aware of the uranium enrichment program in 1999. 2) The Clinton administration briefed the incoming Bush administration on this matter in January 2001. 3) The Bush administration sat on this information for two years. In the meantime, making all sorts of bellicose noise about NK being part of the axis of evil and being lead by a "pygmy".
Some critics claim that what I have been arguing in these virtual pages is that the Bush administration simply shouldn't have called the North Koreans out on their uranium-enrichment program. This has never been my argument. What I am saying is, first, that the administration has spent the last two years pursuing a confused, provocative, and counterproductive policy which played a significant role in fomenting this crisis and, possibly, complicating a potential solution. Secondly, one has to question the timing of seeking a showdown over the North Koreans' uranium-enrichment program just as the US is girding itself for a major regional war on the other side of the globe. If we had just found out about it, then perhaps it's pressing enough to bring it up right now even though it complicates the Iraq situation and threatens to leave us awkwardly overextended. Perhaps. But if the administration had been sitting on the information for almost two years, what possible rationale could there be for choosing this moment to blow the whistle? What other explanation beside incompetence?
I can't think of any. If there is one, it behooves the Bushies to come up with it. Trying to blame the Clinton administration for their failures simply won't cut it anymore.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Digby on George Ryan's commutation act and the reaction of other right-wingers to said act:
Can we get down to brass tacks on this? When the judicial system is as arbitrary, corrupt and prone to error as the Illinois judicial system (along with most jurisdictions in America) it is immoral to entrust it with the ultimate punishment of death. And if one defends such systems in the name of the authority of the State, and believes that it is destructive to the State to question its infallibility, then one is a Totalitarian. Many conservatives are flirting openly with Totalitarianism these days and their lack of empathy and moral judgment, even in the face of a gross miscarriage of justice, is indicative of a frightening will to power. All those years of studying Stalinism in order to defeat it seems to have evolved into a sort of Stockholm Syndrome in which the student has come to identify with the subject.
Digby, you make us proud.

Back when Gore announced that he wasn't going to run in 2004 I said that it was a mistake if, for no other reason, that he would become immediately persona non grata in the establishment press. Heard anything about him since? Well, you would if you go to more obscure sources (link courtesy Avedon Carol):
Gore Slams U.S. Aim to Seek “Military Dominance” of Rivals
DUBAI, January 11 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) – Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore warned against the grave repercussions if U.S. war threats to Iraq were to materialize, saying that any potential war in Iraq would be between the world community and the Arab country.
“There is an uncertainty associated with a war on Iraq that also weighs heavily on the economy: not knowing what consequences (the war might have), what a post-war Iraq would look like, what effect there would be on world markets and what the Arab street reaction would be,” Gore was quoted by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying in the Second Gulf Economic Forum launched here on Saturday, January 11.
Gore who has accused Washington of losing focus in its war on terrorism by erroneously pinpointing Iraq, praised the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council for its anti-terror stance.
Any war in Iraq would “not be between the United States and Iraq but the world community and Iraq,” stressed Gore, U.S. President George W. Bush’s rival in the 2000 presidential election.
Nobody could justify, he said, the “reign Saddam Hussein has been responsible for in Iraq and his failure to comply with resolutions ... (after which) he embarked on a mission to build weapons of mass destruction.”
Gore, who won the popular vote for president two years ago but failed to gain enough electoral college votes to win the White House, rounded on the Bush administration, saying its desire to seek “military dominance of political adversaries was wrong.”
(cut to sound of crickets chirping in Washington)

In response to my previous post about the failure of certain right-wing blogophiles to be equally critical of the Pickering nomination as they were of Lott's pronouncements Barney Gumble commented, "What's missing is VIDEO. Trent said it on TV." No. What's missing are Republicans who are ashamed of their party's deliberate attempt to coddle racists even when those attempts are not visible to the public. That Sullivan and company were hard on Lott was good. But, if the reason they did it was because he was so public in his expression of racism, then that is not good. If they want to prove that they really don't like that aspect of the party then they have to be willing to be critical even without the kind of video record that Lott provided.

Some encouraging news...
STING LIKE A BEE By David Podvin bx0108 : $749 AUD
For Democrats who are exasperated because their party is unwilling to go on the offensive, the following words are manna from heaven:
“George W. Bush is the first president of my lifetime I don’t have an ounce of respect for. I’m going to bash him. My goal is to beat the bejesus out of him.”
With that bold and inspiring pronouncement, consultant Garry South confirmed that he will no longer be guiding the fortunes of California Governor Gray Davis, and that his new vocation is the political destruction of the trespasser in the White House.
It's enough to make you wish cloning were a reality.

Cheney Warns of Downturn if Tax Cuts Stall By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stepping up pressure on the U.S. Congress to act swiftly, Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) said on Friday that failure to pass the administration's new tax cut plan "might well" trigger another economic downturn.
What does this remind me of? Oh yeah...

All hail the era of personal responsibility!
Bush Administration Shifts Blame for N. Korea Crisis Clinton-Era Agreement Signed in '94 With Pyongyang Is Called Flawed
By Karen DeYoung and T.R. Reid Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, January 12, 2003; Page A22
A senior Bush administration official suggested yesterday that the nuclear crisis with North Korea was the predictable result of a flawed 1994 agreement signed by the Clinton administration with Pyongyang that "frontloaded all the benefits and left the difficult things to the end" -- for the next president.
"I didn't do it! Nobody saw me do it! You can't prove anything!" --Bart Simpson
The comments marked a sharp change of direction from the administration's insistence in recent weeks that only North Korea was to blame for the crisis. As recently as last week, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he gave "great credit" to the Clinton administration for freezing North Korea's plutonium enrichment program with the 1994 Agreed Framework.
Haven't people learned by now that there's nothing the Bushies like to do more then undercut Powell? Especially when he starts embarassing his boss? Remember, it was Powell who approved the meeting between the North Koreans and Richardson.

I've been away from the blogosphere for a day so I've been spending the last hour or so catching up. I notice that the air is full off all sorts of articles pointing out all the reasons why Charles Pickering should not be elevated to the appeals court. In fact, the last time I saw such a flurry of evidence of the racial problems of a white Republican it was the Trent Lott affair, and that led to the quick dismissal of Lott. Yet the Pickering story is being pretty much ignored. What's the difference? Well, it doesn't help that, unlike the Lott situation, none of the usual suspects on the right of the blogosphere (Glenn, Andy, etc.) are pretty much silent on these matters. Could it be that it wasn't so much Lott's attitudes that bugged these defenders of the right so much as the fact that he expounded on them so publicly? In other words, racists are accepted in the GOP fold, just so long as they stay in the closet.