Saturday, February 01, 2003

There is a Reuters' story out there quoting some Iraqis as saying that the Columbia disaster was god's vengence on America. Naturally many are outraged by those comments. I don't like them any better then anyone else. However... Consider this: if our country was under imminent threat of obliteration by a superior power and that power was to suddenly lose one of the shining symbols of its greatness, wouldn't we feel like cheering as well? Note: this is NOT an attempt to draw "moral equivalence" between America and Iraq. It is an attempt to say that every country is made up of human beings who react to situations in very human, if not always very moral, ways. Be outraged at their comments. But don't be surprised. And don't think that they are an indication of some inferiority on their part.

I happen to think Shrub did all right in his comments this afternoon. He simply expressed the condolences of the nation, said we would not back down from the space program, tried to comfort people as best he knew how by quoting some scripture, and then wished everyone well. No attempt to take political advantage as far as I could see. And he did seem genuinely broken up near the end. I still don't want him as President and consider him one of the greatest threats to our safety. But I'm not going to criticize him when he doesn't deserve any criticism.

I was just thinking about the question of why we mourn the loss of seven astronauts more than we mourn, for example, the loss of thousands who die every year in car accidents. I think it is because the injury that occurred today goes beyond just the loss of seven lives. It is a blow against our very hopes for the future. The assassination of JFK. The killing of John Lennon. The Challenger and Columbia. The fall of the WTC. These are all events that involve more than just the deaths of the individuals involved but also the death of hopes, dreams, and perhaps a certain childlike naivete. The anonymous person killed in a car accident. The faceless Iraqi citizen killed by a U.S. bomb. The old man who dies hacking to death on the remains of lungs ravaged by cigarette smoke. These are all tragedies in that they are the loss of a human life. But we have little to no emotional investment in their lives. So their deaths just don't mean as much to us. Only God can care about all human beings equally. Only God can mourn all human beings equally. The best we can do is hope to emulate his example as best we can.

Someone has started a blog specifically to track Columbia related information.

Here's the NASA web page for STS-107. Note that, while this was STS-107, this mission was actually delayed from last July. There have been missions since then, so this was actually the 113th mission.

Debris track. Click for larger picture. Source for picture here. This is a constantly updating radar image, so this will eventually fade. Hurry and you can catch a loop for the last hour. In fact, this image is a bit deceptive since it shows the track over Lousiana, but the trail has drifted a lot since the initial breakup.

A bad week for space exploration

Apollo 1: fire kills 3 astronauts on launch pad. January 27, 1967 Shuttle Challenger: Explosion kills 7 astronauts during launch. January 28, 1986 Shuttle Columbia: Break up on re-entry (apparently) kills 7 astronauts. Feb. 1, 2003
You think maybe there should be a moratorium on space activities for the week including Jan. 27th to Feb. 1st?
Note: I checked and Apollo 13 took place in April 1970. But then they survived.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. 'High Flight' by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


Glenn has some comments up about a report that some CBC broadcaster asked a guest whether the Columbia accident was caused by American arrogance. You can imagine that he isn't all that pleased at the suggestion. Now, I am getting this 3rd hand (from Glenn who got it from the Ghost of a flea, but I would agree that blaming American arrogance for causing the accident is stupid and premature to say the least. However, I do think there is an element of arrogance involved in this tragedy. Namely the arrogance that believes that shit doesn't happen to us and therefore, when it does, someone must be found to blame for it. The irony here is that I was just commenting to my wife the other day that shuttle flights had become routing in the publics eye, just as they had prior to the Challenger accident. That's arrogance. Space flight will always be dangerous. To think otherwise is to become to comfortable in your view of your own invulnerability. 9/11 showed us that terrorism can happen here. Columbia shows us that Murphy still rules the universe. And "It can't happen here" is a disease of the mind that will always come back to haunt us.

No words. Just a feed from Space Flight Now More later.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Iraqi Warheads Test Negative For Chemical Agents

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- U.N. arms inspectors have concluded that the 122 mm chemical rocket warheads found in an Iraqi bunker earlier this month did not contain any chemical agents, diplomats said on Wednesday. The inspectors had sent one of the warheads that appeared to be filled to a laboratory for tests that turned out negative, chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix told U.N. Security Council members, the envoys reported. Iraq said the rocket warheads were overlooked from a 1991 batch of some 2,000 warheads. They were found at Ukhaider, an ammunition storage area, 75 miles (120 km) south of Baghdad in a relatively new bunker, which the inspectors said meant they were moved there in recent years, A few days later Iraqi officials reported another four chemical rockets found at another storage depot. Blix in his critical report to the Security Council on Monday said the discovery of a few rocket warheads did not solve the problem of what happened to thousands of other warheads not accounted for in Iraq's 12,000-page arms declaration submitted to the United Nations on December 7. "The finding of the rockets shows that Iraq needs to make more effort to ensure that its declaration is currently accurate," he said in the report.
Was this ever reported anywhere in the establishment media?

From today's press conference:
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to provide the undeniable proof of Iraq's guilt that so many critics are calling for? THE PRESIDENT: Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty good job myself of making it clear that he's not disarming and why he should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own neighborhood. He will also talk about al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain, anybody else who loves freedom.
"But enough about me. Let's talk about me." There are none so arrogant as those who tout their own humility.

Dre, in the comments section to this post:
... The only body on earth that can check [Bush] is the Democratic Party. Back in August the threat to Bush's power was the Democrats in Congress. By changing the topic of discussion from corporate scandals and the economy to war, he was able to neutralize that threat. Having put Saddam into play he might have to deal with some messy consequences, but that was a gamble worth taking to gain control of Congress. ...
An interesting theory. Except that Bush has been hot for Sadaam's tail since before he occupied the White House. Using him for electoral advantage was convenient, but not the only reason for banging the war drums. I agree that, by putting Iraq into play in the 2002 election, Bush effectively put himself into a corner as far as action is concerned. The congress may have given him the authorization to attack, but does that authorization have no real or practical expiration date? People won't let him go forever without doing something. Otherwise his lack of action would become an issue in the 2004 race. Does anyone know if the authorization act was open ended or time-limited?

From PollingReport, a Fox News opinion poll dated January 29-30. "Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?"
Approve Disapprove Don't Know
1/29-30/03 59% 28% 13%
1/14-15/03 63 28 9
The margin of error is 3%. So much for a post-SOTU bump.

Dick Cheney says something right, though not for the reasons he thinks.
Cheney: 'Survival of civilization' at stake Reiterates U.S. reserves right to act unilaterally against Iraq Thursday, January 30, 2003 Posted: 4:40 PM EST (2140 GMT) ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated Thursday that the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally against Iraq, and said that U.S. efforts against terrorism could affect the "survival of civilization itself."

via Romensko's MediaNews (thanks to Ben Brackley):
ABC: It's OK for Cokie to serve on Bush's volunteerism panel Cleveland Plain Dealer ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts has been named to President Bush's Council on Service and Civic Participation. Stephen Koff writes: "Though ABC's Roberts provides analysis on subjects including Bush, an ABC News spokeswoman said the network gave its approval and saw no conflict of interest in her serving on the president's council." That spokeswoman says Roberts "has a very strong and distinguished track record of being an absolutely fair and objective observer and analyst." Posted at 11:18:59 AM

Hmmm. This puts my previous post about those images I saw on TV in a slightly different light.
War Crime or an Act of War? By STEPHEN C. PELLETIERE MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured." The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein. But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story. I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair. This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.
So. The dead children I saw on TV this morning may not have been killed deliberately. However, the fact that anyone would use weapons that would produce that kind of horror is indicative of a monstrous nature. And Bush is willing to join the club? BTW, this article brings up an interesting but under-reported fact: oil isn't the only natural resource that makes Iraq valuable. It also has a lot of another resource: water.

Reporters Without Borders publishes the first worldwide press freedom index ... The index was drawn up by asking journalists, researchers and legal experts to answer 50 questions about the whole range of press freedom violations (such as murders or arrests of journalists, censorship, pressure, state monopolies in various fields, punishment of press law offences and regulation of the media). The final list includes 139 countries. The others were not included in the absence of reliable information.(...) The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings.(...)
And here's the 2002 Index:
1 Finland 2 Iceland 3 Norway 4 Netherlands 5 Canada 6 Ireland 7 Germany 8 Portugal 9 Sweden 10 Denmark 11 France 12 Australia 13 Belgium 14 Slovenia 15 Costa Rica 16 Switzerland 17 United States

Do you think Sharpton will get the hint?
Democratic presidential hopeful Rev. Al Sharpton responds to President Bush's State of the Union address during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Atrios is having flashbacks to Arlingtongate. One thing to remember: Arlingtongate was one of the more embarassing fauxgates since it blew away so quickly in the face of serious investigation. You know what was the next scandal to follow it? Lewinsky. And some people wonder why so many of us were so skeptical of that story for so long.

The Liquid List and Atrios have both talked about this Post article.
Sticker Shock By Al Kamen Friday, January 31, 2003; Page A25 At the Conservative Political Action Conference, which featured Vice President Cheney as its opening luncheon speaker yesterday, one of the various exhibition booths hawking paraphernalia had some virulently anti-Muslim vinyl bumper stickers, for $3.95, including one that said: "No Muslims -- No Terrorism."
While it is...amusing...that Cheney might be made to feel uncomfortable about this kind of association. I have to wonder if criticizing him for this isn't equivalent to the kind of criticism some anti-war people have received for participating in demonstrations that were sponsored, in part, by A.N.S.W.E.R. We should be careful who we associate with. But, just because we associate with a group of people does not necessarily mean we endorse everything that those people stand for. Update while posting: I just noticed that Atrios has a link to DailyKOS who brings up much the same point, albeit in a more snarky manner. Update while posting the update while posting: And DailyKOS has some additional comments from Tacitus as well as this:
But here's the kicker -- Cheney's people asked the conference organizers to pull down the "kill all Arabs" bumperstickers, but didn't ask them to take down the Confederate Flag or anti-Reno stuff. Why not? In effect, that glaring omission seems to indicate that the office of the VP has no problem with that sort of material. Genocide was out (thank the gods). But the rest passed muster with Cheney.
Selective outrage is an indicator of potential hypocrisy.

Sean-Paul (of The Agonist) posted a rant yesterday about the tactics some warbloggers use to dismiss the criticisms of those who oppose the war. He follows it up today with his reaction to some of the feedback he is getting. I agree pretty much with everything he has said. It really pisses me off when "the other side", rather than argue with you on the facts, would rather disparage your motives and cast you into the pot with the worst of the worst. It is a form of intellectual cowardice. "Oh, I can't spend the time necessary to dispute your points. So I'm going to just dismiss you as a deluded fool." His comments neatly tie into my previous post. The range of opinion on Iraq is not as black and white as some would like to make it. And the warbloggers aren't the only ones guilty of making this mistake. Not everyone who supports the removal of Hussein is a warmongering imperialist bent on asserting U.S. power worldwide and seizing control of Iraqi oil so that they can drive their SUVs on cheap gas. Not everyone who opposes removal of Hussein is a weak-kneed appeaser who hates America and sympathizes more with the plight of poor Muslims than the victims of 9/11. Can't we at least acknowledge that some of us have intellectually honest reasons for our opinions even if we don't happen to have the same opinion?

This is a difficult post to write. It is my attempt to get at the heart of the problem with Bush's approach to Iraq. Bear with me. I was flipping through the channels this morning and ended up watching a segment on FOX. They were showing photos of Iraqi citizens who have been killed by Sadaam Hussein. Now, I know that FOX is propaganda central. They can never be trusted to tell the truth, even when they are telling the truth. But, the photos shown this morning were extremely disturbing. Piles of bodies. Children and babies sprawled on the ground, contorted in agony from the gas they inhaled. Images as disturbing as anything that came out of Auschwitz or Buchenwald. These images force me to come to terms with core issues. I believe, in my heart, that there is a case to be made for removing Hussein from power. Yes, even if it means going to war to do it. The problem is, I simply do not trust Bush to do it right. Any proposed solution to a problem has to meet three criteria in order for me to support it: 1. Show that it is a problem that needs solving. 2. Show that there is a solution that will fix the problem 3. Show that the solution will not cause as many problems, if not more so, than the original problem to be solved. If any proposed solution fails to meet any of these three criteria then I will not support it. This is based on the conservative principle that "no solution" is better than a "bad solution". How does Bush's proposed war stack up? 1. There most certainly is a problem, but the nature of the problem has been badly stated. Bush has chosen to focus on the WMD and terrorism issues (all valid concerns) with only a sprinkling of the human rights question thrown into the mix. I believe his choice of priorities is dictated more by the desire to scare people into supporting his action more than by any facts in evidence. WMD and terrorism are of concern. But human rights are even more important. Now some may say, "Hey, what difference does it make WHY he wants to do it, just so long as the result is what you want?" I believe this is what Tony Blair thinks. I was listening to NPR this morning and they were discussing Blair's so far unqualified support for Bush. Blair seems to be motivated by a believe that being in power means that you have to use that powers to make the world a better place. Thus, when he saw that Milosevic was a monster that needed to be removed from power, he actively worked to get the European community to join the US in the Kosovo campaign. He sees Hussein as a similar monster and has ended that he also needs to be removed from power and that America is the only one with the means to do so. I agree. I supported the campaign in Kosovo (I am not a pacifist). It was, in my opinion, the first time since WWII that America has used force for a noble purpose. All intervening military actions were either imperialistic adventures or simple necessities brought on by the conditions of the time. There was no strategic advantage to the United States to get involved in the campaign to remove Milosevic. But we did it anyway because, in this one case, it was the right thing to do. If we were to go after Hussein with a similar purpose then I could support it. But, if our motives are questionable, then my support will be hard, even if the result is something that I desire. Why? Because I do not like being lied to. I do not like being manipulated. How can I trust Bush to give me a fair assessment of the problem if I know that he lies about aspects of it? I firmly believe that lies and deception will ultimately destroy any hope we have for a positive result. This ties in to the third criteria and I will talk more about it below. But I want to talk a little more about lies and deception. As I said, I do not appreciate being talked down to by my leaders. I lose faith in that leadership when it does nothing but treat me like a child. If my leaders have to trick me into giving my support then how can I ever trust them with anything? The simple truth is that Bush does not trust me to do what he thinks is right. I see no reason to trust a leader who does not trust the people he leads. 2. Now there is little doubt in my mind that, if we were to attack, that we would remove Hussein from power. But would that really solve the problem? Is the problem only the man or are there deeper problems that cannot be solved by simple military action? And do I trust Bush to understand those additional problems and solve them correctly? Sadly, the answer is no. While I believe that we could remove Hussein from power if we decide to do so, I am not convinced that doing so will ultimately solve the problem. 3. Which leads us to the biggest question of all: what happens next? It is here where I think Bush has completely failed to make the case. It is bad enough that I do not trust him to give me a fair presentation of the problem. But I do not trust the man to comprehend the consequences of a unilateral pre-emptive strike against Hussein. Some will poo-poo these concerns as just being weak-kneed. But I would characterize the lack of concern for consequences to be arrogance of the worst sort. The Bush administration is populated with people who think that they are strong enough handle any of the problems that come along. Maybe. Maybe not. But might it not be the wiser course to minimize the consequences instead of just assuming that there are no consequences that could really harm us? Isn't that the very definition of hubris? Tragedies are built on such arrogance. To conclude: I do not trust Bush to tell me the truth about the real reason we are going to war. I do not trust him to use the war machine at his disposal in a judicious manner. And I do not trust him to either assess the consequences of his actions handle them when they come up to bite him (and us) in the ass. Yet I still would support a military action to remove Hussein from power. Hussein is a monster. Anyone who would do the kinds of things I saw in those pictures deserves to be dragged through the streets by their testicles. But how we go about it will tell as much about our character as his actions tell about his. So, how should we do it? 1. Give a full accounting of the problem to be solved: Hussein is a monster, as Milosevic was a monster, as Hitler was a monster. Monsters should not be allowed to rule because they bring down all humanity by their presence. 2. Remove him from power by forming as large a coalition of humanity as is possible to address the existence of the Monster in our presence. Do not lie or deceive potential allies. Do not threaten or cajole them. Make an appeal to the better angels of their nature. Pre-emptive strikes can be moral if you can persuade the jury of nations to join in removing the Monster from power. You can do this by showing that action can be required for moral as well as practical reasons. 3. Fully assess and take responsibility for what comes next. Do not sweep in, remove the Monster, and then sweep out to leave the people of Iraq to fend for themselves. This is the lesson of WWI, WWII, and the Marshal plan. Investing resources to rebuild a conquered nation can return dividends for years to come. The price of not doing so is far higher than the price of not doing so. If we had a leader who could make a case like this, I could support an attack on Iraq. But we do not. Therefore, despite the pain it brings me given those haunting images I saw this morning, I cannot support this war. And that really pisses me off.

I've heard from some that this blog has problems displaying under certain browsers. Lis Riba says that it never wants to open under Opera. I am not an HTML guru in anyway. I only know the basics. Is there anyone who could take a look at the source for this page and give me an idea of what might be causing the problem? Thanks.

Greetings Earthlings! We have this little book we'd like to give you. It's called "To Serve Man". >burp<

I wonder if Bush didn't like finishing his homework in school either.

I have to agree with Oliver Willis. Mandela went to far in his comments about Bush not liking the UN because Kofi Annan is black. Really, Bush has a lot of reasons not to like the UN that have nothing to do with who leads it. If nothing else, it provides a platform for all those pesky people who actually think he might be mistaken about Iraq. That alone is enough reason for Bush to hate the institution.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dubya is such a fashion setter

From the bartcop forum:
"Flowers For Helen Action Announcement" I realize all the details aren't set in stone yet and don't worry, I won't do anything with the money before we all decide on those. But if you want to get started, send money to Paypal via: I just got confirmation through Paypal that I have switched to this address as my primary address for my account so if there are any hiccups please let me know as soon as possible. I will keep all the paypal receipts that are sent to go into our final accounting documentation. Anyone who wants to write me can do so at that address or through the forum. Ready, go!

Ahead of speech here Helen Thomas decries Bush By Diana Louise Carter Democrat and Chronicle ... After 57 years with UPI, Thomas quit when The Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s News World Communications bought the ailing news service. She joined Hearst News Service as a twice-weekly syndicated columnist covering the White House. She is happy at Hearst, she says, having worked through a difficult transition in writing style. After decades of writing news, Thomas says, “I barely realized how much I censored myself. I didn’t bow out of the human race, but I always kept my opinion to myself. Now I can say what I think.” That freedom comes at a price, of course. “I’m hating to read my e-mail,” she says. “No one seems to agree with me.”
You know what to do:

Bush certainly is a uniter isn't he? Now he's got members of the European Union snapping at each. Of course, a disunited Europe is probably the preference of the neo-imperialists who dominate this administration. Less competition is the best competition, no?

Guess who said this?
HMM. SCHWARZKOPF WAS SKEPTICAL, BUT NOW HE'S CALLING BUSH'S SPEECH "COMPELLING." You don't think the whole thing was scripted, do you? Surely not.
This is the kind of comment, and the kind of thinking, I would expect to find on amongst the harshest of Bush critics. After all, this is exactly the kind of crass political maneuvering we have come to expect from people, like Bush and Rove, who like to play politics while the lives of Americans hang in the balance. Yet it wasn't an anti-Bush blogger that produced that quote. My question now is: does said blogger actually think it is a good thing that the Bushies are manipulating public opinion as he suggests?

We must persevere my brothers.
Anti-war protesters announce Feb. 15 rally for `millions' AMY WESTFELDT Associated Press NEW YORK - Anti-war protesters on Wednesday predicted "literally millions" of people in New York, San Francisco and more than 30 international cities would march the weekend of Feb. 15 against war in Iraq.
Allah be praised! We will have victory!

Allah have mercy!
Report: Iraqi spies in U.S. By JAMES GORDON MEEK DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU WASHINGTON - Iraq sent spies from Canada to New York and Washington this month to snoop and stir up anti-war demonstrations, according to a government report obtained by the Daily News.
There goes our plan to use A.N.S.W.E.R. to distract Insty and his pals from our true motives

The DailyKOS brings up a good point:
I went back and reread the SOTU address to confirm something that had nagged me all day: Bush didn't tells us about the state of the union. Not a thing. Funny how he's been in charge for two years, and he had nothing domestically to point to with pride. NOT ONE THING.

U.N. Finds No Proof of Nuclear Program IAEA Unable to Verify U.S. Claims By Colum Lynch Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, January 29, 2003; Page A13 UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 28 -- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said today that two months of inspections in Iraq and interviews with Iraqi officials have yielded no evidence to support Bush administration claims that Iraq is secretly trying to revive its nuclear weapons program.
They obviously aren't speaking in small enough words for Mr. Bush to understand.

Pssst. Mr. President? Maybe you should try out this little simulator before you decide to do anything rash.

Could it be true? Are the Democrats finally starting to recognize that they have a massive political asset within their midst? (courtesy Taegan Goddard's Political Wire):
Democrats Look To Clinton For Strategy Bill Clinton will speak at the House Democratic retreat this weekend "designed to help the minority party plot strategy and design a message for the 108th Congress," Roll Call reports. "Thursday's sessions will focus on Democratic electoral losses in 2002 and how the party can win in the future." On the Senate side, The Hill says "a group of Democratic senators organized" by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) "has begun meeting regularly in an attempt to shape a progressive agenda and message after their party's losses in the midterm election."
It's about f'n time these guys realize that they are the opposition party and should start acting like it. We can only hope they get their act together before 2004.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Joseph Lieberman. A new kind of Democrat. The Republican kind. "I'm just a regular Joseph"

David Neiwart takes on moral clarity. There is one thing to keep in mind about this term: it doesn't explicitly make clear that it is talking about "good" moral clarity. Indeed, those who repeat it seem to think that clarity is, in and of itself, a moral stand irrespective of the thing that one is being clear about. Charlie Manson had a certain moral clarity as well. (counting the minutes until someone accuses me of saying that Manson and Bush are morally equivalent)

Kieran Healy has some interesting things to say about the "Reverse Tinkerbell Effect" (a term coined by David Post of the Volokh Conspiracy)

Olive Willis discusses the Democratic Problem. In his comments section I posted the following: I agree with you Oliver and have been saying as much for quite some time. The reason the Democrats backslid after Clinton left office is because they never really developed a spine during the 90s. Clinton was just propping them up for the 10 years he was on the national scene. The Democrats have made the mistake time and time again of allowing the opposition to define their political strategy. They honestly seem to think that if they find just the right plank and just the right candidate that the Republicans and their lapdogs in the media will simply leave them to actually make their case to the American people. Gore thought it was all about Clinton and that he would catch a break because he was not Clinton. He didn't. The Democratic contenders now seem to think it was all about Gore and that they will catch a break because they are not Gore. They won't. The first Democrat to fully acknowledge this reality is the first that will have any chance of electoral success.

Hmmm? Has Drudge noticed little old me? He's got the following two pictures up on his site with the heading "MAN OF STEEL TURNS GRAY" Drudge doesn't provide a link for either photo, but a glance at his sources shows the photo on the right as coming from here. Here's another that appears to be part of the same set and thus provides a better context, including the date (today). The one on the left appears to be from one of the debates (I recognize the red tie). Does Bush dye his hair? Or was the previous photo (also, I note, from the same AP source) just a trick of the light? I'm not a photographic expert so I will leave that question open for answering.

All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)
Nothing like a little blood humor to lighten things up.

U.N. Orders Wonka To Submit To Chocolate Factory Inspections

The Dr. Seussian response to the State Of The Union

Ignatz may have found another example of a Bush circuit court nominee playing fast and loose with the truth.

The State of the Union by the Numbers (courtesy Emma)

Joe Conason on Bush's plan to ban the internal combustion engine (hey, that's what they accused Gore of wanting to do):
So someone should ask Bush if he remembers who wrote this: "We have a partnership with the American auto industry…to develop cars that achieve three times today's mileage with the same pricing, comfort and safety; the companies and research scientists are making remarkable progress toward revolutionary change in the design and development of fuel cell vehicles. "I was criticized for suggesting…that we should move away from the internal combustion engine over the next quarter-century. The attack was never more than smoke-and-fumes; I was calling not for an end to the car industry but for new types of cars." That's Al "Ozone Man" Gore, in the revised foreword to the 2000 reissue of his 1992 book, "Earth in the Balance." Back then the Republican Party apparatchiks and all the conservative pundits ridiculed Gore's kooky ideas about replacing the internal combustion engine (See the Daily Howler for copious details.). The moronic Jim Nicholson, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, used to stand at the fax machine all day, sending out messages that attacked Gore for wanting to do away with the internal "combustible" engine, which were duly repeated by all the right-wing hacks. They used Gore's farsighted ideas against him in places like Michigan and Tennesseee, where lots of cars are built. Now they will all tell you that Bush is simply brilliant for supporting this visionary technology. Do the math, as my friend Jack Gillis did, and it turns out that Gore's notion of replacing the internal combustion within 25 years, as he suggested in 1992, is within a year of the date now proposed by Bush for the same goal.
I happened to have received the same email from Jack Gillis that inspired Joe's column. Here's the relevent part (re-printed with permission):
Hyrdogen. Great stuff. Quote from Bush's speech: "A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free." Let's do some math. In 1992, Al Gore published a book in which he predicted the replacement of the internal combustion engine in 25 years (probably by a hydrogen engine), for which comment he was cruelly, deceptively and dishonestly excorciated by the GOP. 1992 + 25 = 2017. Last night, Bush said substantially the same thing except he said "the first car driven by a child born today." If Learner's Permits are granted at 15 1/2 (as in most states, I think), 2003 + 15 = 2018. So, according to the GOP logic, calling for hydrogen cars by the year 2017 is "Banning cars!" "Destroying freedom!" "Absolutely flaky!" but calling for hydrogen cars by 2018 is "Visonary!" "Brilliant!" "Bold!"

Lis also links to a prescient article posted by JMS, creator of B5, back in 1996. JMS makes the point that it is a mistake to think that the incidents in B5 are recapitulations only of past events. They are also warnings for the future. I have said it before that one of America's greatest weaknesses is our inability to admit that all the horrors we see happening around the world could ever happen here. We just assume that our leaders are better that, or that we are better then that, and thus dismiss any suggestion that we are going down that road. Consider this the Andersen corollary to Santayana's principle: those who think that evil is done only by others are condemned to commit evil themselves.

GACK!!!! I haven't mentioned it before, but I happen to be a big fan of Babylon 5. Well, considering that and my opinions of Bush, you can imagine my reaction to the following:
From: Jms at B5 ( Subject: Things You Don't Expect to Hear View: Complete Thread (116 articles) Original Format Newsgroups: Date: 2002-11-27 05:02:17 PST So I was talking to Doug Netter this afternoon, who had in turn spoken with Bruce Boxleitner earlier in the day about the year 2 DVD. In the course of that conversation, Bruce mentioned something that Doug in turn mentioned to me. To wit: Bruce had been at the White House about a month ago, in the company of wife Melissa Gilbert, president of the Screen Actors Guild, for a discussion with some of the functionaries there concerning acting roles moving north of the Canadian border. As they're talking, in a long conference room, in the middle of the meeting the door oens and Karl Rove -- main strategist for the Republican Party and power behind the White House throne -- comes in. He says (paraphrased from memory) to Melissa, "I hope you'll forgive me, but I actually here to see Bruce." He then tells Bruce, "I just wanted to tell you that I'm a big science fiction fan, and that Babylon 5 is the best science fiction television series *ever*." Then there's a pause, and he adds.... "And the President thinks so too." Upon hearing this, I went to lie down for a spell, but I fully expect to be back on my feet by Spring, latest. jms ( (all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd., permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine and don't send me story ideas)
God have mercy! President is a B5 fan? This shakes me to the core. (Thanks to Lis for bringing this to my attention)

Bush budget deficit to hit $300 billion in 2003 and 2004, topping Poppy's record of $290 billion in 1992. Dubya: "You want a piece of me dad? I can take you anytime! Anywhere! You limp-dicked old weasel!" (Tom Spencer has more here)

Kurt Vonnegut: I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.” But, other than that Kurt, Dubya's an okay guy with you right?

An interesting thought: is it possible that many of the people who continue to say that they approve of Bush's handling of his job, while disapproving of pretty much all of the particulars of what he is doing, are doing so simply because to say otherwise would require them to admit that the world is far scarier then they want to admit and that, without some big daddy to step in for them and make it seem all better, they would have to face the storm head-on with no (apparent) weapons at their disposal? Could it be as simple as people being afraid that, if they reject Bush, they won't have any strength to fight the battles to come on their own? Bush is eatable folks. But only if the people see a viable alternative to step in and take his place. It's all about the opposition right now. Where is the David to Bush's Goliath?

MoDowd wasn't impressed.

TBOGG has one of the bets rundowns of the SOTU this morning. He doesn't just run it down. He backs up over it a couple of times just to be sure.

Consider this: generally speaking, when giving a list of particulars, the rhetorically correct thing to do is build to a dramatic finish with your best points. What did Bush use to finish his list of reasons-why-Iraq-is-a-bad-place-and-we-should-bomb-it-back-to-hell? Aluminum tubes:
Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
This aluminum tube canard is so old that it is turning as green as Bush's hair. It has been repeatedly debunked just as recently as Monday's inspection report to the Security Council. It is by far the weakest link in Bush's chain of evidence of Sadaam's perfidy. Yet he chose this item to conclude his list. Why? If Bush's point was to prove the case against Sadaam, why would he close off the bill with something so obviously weak? Perhaps because that wasn't his purpose last night. Bush doesn't care about proving anything. He cares about scaring the living bejeesus out of the American people. Nook-u-lar weapons are scarier then chemical and biological weapons so they are the best choice for concluding a list of terror. For years I never understood the hullabaloo that was the multiple Clinton scandals. All of that noise, yet very little sense was to be made of it all. That is until I realized that most of the accusations against the Clintons were easy to understand so long as you didn't presume the Clintons were guilty. Similarly, most of the rhetoric from the Bushies is confusing as hell, but only so long as you presume that they actually have the best interest of the American people at heart. Once you acknowledge the possibility that they would deliberately scare the citizenry in order to get what they want then most of what they do makes perfect sense. Occam's razor strikes again.

Eric Alterman asks the question: What Liberal Media?

This is to good not to steal (thanks to the Horse). The following is a letter written to Andrew Sullivan:
Since breezy theories are all the rage among the punditocracy these days (your slap at the "intelligentsia" is amusing, given that almost all political and media elites throw themselves at Bush's feet) try this on for size: Those who support Bush, who cram their theories to fit a man of his stature, are simply afraid to admit to any flaw in him because it will bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. So you invent a jut-jawed man of action, determined and resolute with a clear vision of world harmony. But the whispering in your head won't stop: he's a vile and craven little momma's boy, a snooty insider trader and coward who deserted his National Guard post while the great unwashed were still dying in Vietnam, and who rushed off to save his candy ass on September 11 and invented a lie about Air Force one being a target while the great unwashed were once again dying under the rubble. But you're too damned afraid to admit it. Sick of it? Too bad.
This is not a new phenomena. The same forces were at work during the Clinton years. Not every journalist who went after the guy was a Republican shill, just as not every journalist who sings the praises of Bush is a GOP plant. But, once they started down a path of presuming that the initial spin (Clinton did something wrong, Bush is a natural born leader) they were forced to continue down that path lest they had to admit that their initial assessment was wrong. Pundits never admit they are wrong. At least not if they want to keep being called back to be on the air. Read the horse for more astute commentary on this.

A breakdown of Bush's SOTU and where it comes up short (in quite a few areas):
Bush Address Short on Specific Evidence Wednesday January 29, 2003 4:10 AM WASHINGTON (AP) - In asking Americans to accept his account of Iraqi misdeeds Tuesday night, President Bush issued a kind of promissory note: allegations now, evidence later. Not for the first time - but certainly in front of his biggest U.S. audience as well as those paying heed around the world - Bush stated flatly that Iraq is hiding banned weapons and has had dealings with the al-Qaida terrorist network that conducted the Sept. 11 attacks. As before, he did not lay out the supporting facts. In his State of the Union speech, Bush left Americans to take those points on faith, or to choose not to, at least a while longer. Officials say new evidence is coming soon. As usual in a president's summary of the nation's condition and where he wants to take it, nuances were left out - sometimes material ones.

I've come to a decision. I'm not going to watch and/or listen to political speeches anymore. Listening to these speeches doesn't give you any more substantial information than you would get from just reading the transcript. When you don't have to listen to the pontificators, or their sycophants and critics in the media, then you can avoid having your opinion influenced by irrelevant factors such as their physical appearance or their tone of voice. As the old saying goes, sincerity is your greatest asset. If you can fake that you can get anything. I just don't have any more patience for the subtle nuances of lilt and tremble, beat and alliteration, a quick smile and a steely gaze. This crap and the analysis of it has brought down even the most astute political analyzers. So much so that our national dialog is dominated more by questions of "did he sell it" then by questions of "does he have something worth buying". Here's my advice to everyone: turn off the TVs, turn off the radios, listen to your own hearts and your own minds. God knows you won't find much of those on the air.

Here it is, as promised.
Kennedy to seek new measure on war with Iraq 'Much has changed' since Congress authorized force, he says From Jonathan Karl CNN Washington Bureau Wednesday, January 29, 2003 Posted: 12:28 AM EST (0528 GMT) WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Edward Kennedy will introduce a measure requiring President Bush to get new congressional approval before launching a military strike on Iraq, he announced Tuesday. "Much has changed in the many months since Congress has debated war with Iraq," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement released after President Bush's State of the Union address, in which Bush tried to rally the American people to the need to disarm Iraq.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

'THE COURSE OF THIS NATION DOES NOT DEPEND ON THE DECISIONS OF OTHERS' - Dubya Perhaps. But our standing in history may depend on the opinions of others.

Ted Kennedy shows how to seize the initiative: he is apparently going to submit a resolution saying that Bush must come back to Congress and ask their okay for war. More when I get a solid link on this.

Bush's attempt to tie Sadaam to Al Qaida:
And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
I hear that Sadaam is also hanging out around lover's lane with a hook in one hand.

The meat of Bush's "proof":
The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it. The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it. Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
Notice the clever obfuscation in the comment about the aluminum tubes. Bush gets around the inconvenient fact that there is no evidence that they are being used for "nuclear weapons production" by asserting the undisputed claim that they have "attempted to purchase" them and then leave it as an exercise to the listener to conclude that the only reason this was done was for "nuclear weapons production".

"If war is forced upon us ..." -- Dubya Um. Who, exactly, is doing the forcing here George?

So. Bush mentioned the aluminum tubes again? I agree with Atrios: this is proof positive of Bush's "complete ethical bankruptcy". And if the media doesn't rake him over the coals for it then they are as bankrupt as he is.

I'm not watching/listening to the SOTU speech. But I am following it online via Table Talk and the DailyKos, both of which are posting regular in-time updates on the speech. Kos:
"Hitlerism" was defeated by the US. Okay... First of all, what the heck is "Hitlerism"??? And if we're talking about Nazism, didn't the Russians have a small part to play?
I wonder how the Russians will appreciate Bush taking all the credit for beating Hitler.

Some people have commented that the dye job on Bush makes it look like he has green hair. I don't know... I don't think it looks all that green.

Some Republicans have criticized Daschle and Pelosi for their pre-emptive strike against Bush. Well, the RNC has come out with a pre-emptive strike against Gary Locke, the man the Democrats have tapped to give the response to Bush's speech.
GOP sees easy target in Democratic responder Washington governor to respond to Bush From John Mercurio CNN Washington Bureau Tuesday, January 28, 2003 Posted: 8:24 PM EST (0124 GMT) WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Searching for a strong response to President Bush's State of the Union address, Democrats made a curious choice. They turned to Washington Gov. Gary Locke, an obscure, two-term executive at a political low point, whose state is grappling with one of the nation's highest budget deficits ($2.5 billion) and rates of unemployment (6.8 percent). Republicans didn't have to dig hard to craft a comprehensive hit piece on him. Shortly after Democrats said Locke would deliver the 10-minute response to Bush's speech, the Republican National Committee fired off an e-mail attacking his leadership skills and vision, areas which even state Democrats concede he is weak in. The RNC criticized his handling of the state budget and his plummeting poll numbers.
They criticized him for plummeting poll numbers? What cheek!

Is this the first instance of a Democratic congressman speaking at an anti-war rally?

Did I fall asleep?
'This Country Has Many Challenges' January 28, 2003 By KOMO Staff & News Services WASHINGTON - President Bush, girding the nation for war, said Tuesday in his State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein has shown "utter contempt" for the world community and must be held to account. Bush also pledged to help the ailing economy with lower taxes and a stronger health care system. "The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving," the president said. For the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks transformed him into a wartime president, Bush faced serious questions about his leadership as he addressed the nation. Most Americans don't approve of his handling of the economy, polls show, and only a bare majority support his foreign policies - an area where the president enjoyed support of more than 80 percent a year ago. "This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, other presidents and other generations," Bush said in excerpts released by the White House. In the 9 p.m. EST address to Congress and a global television audience, the White House said Bush was drawing from recently unclassified intelligence to argue that even U.N. inspections can't contain the threat posed by Iraq's hidden weapons of mass destruction and its terrorist allies unless Saddam Hussein has a sudden change of heart. Bush fears Iraq could give chemical or biological weapons to terrorists, aides said.
One problem. It is now, by my clock, 7:31 PM EST. Which means that Bush won't be giving his speech for another hour and a half. Did Marty and the Doc fire up the DeLorean?

Dennis has provided me with an even better comparison photo
November 8th, 2002:
January 28th, 2003:
And, once again, from Bruni's Ambling Into History:
Bush saw Gore as "equal parts pompous blowhard and preening chameleon, a spineless panderer ready to be anything for anyone." For Bush, this opinion was distilled in a single detail: "The man dyes his hair." Bush would ask, "What does that tell you about him?" and then answer his own question: "He doesn't know who he is."
(updated to correct date on 2nd photo)

Speaking of snarky press coverage, it's even infecting the Washington Post (that part not already snarkified by Dana Milbank).
President Bush, giving a sneak preview of tonight's State of the Union address, said this morning that his themes will include peace and prosperity, both of which appear to be eluding his administration.

Whoa! Looks like at least one pundit in Washington has reached the breaking point (courtesy of BartCop)
"The old economic team was a disaster. The new economic team is selling the same stupid policy. They'll be a disaster, too. Ari Fleischer is a mouthpiece. He gives away nothing. The press can't stand him. The president loves him because this is the most secretive and arrogant administration we have seen — probably since the days of Richard Nixon. I'd like to have Richard Nixon back. I think he'd be a huge improvement." -- Eleanor Clift, the only honest panelist on 'The McLaughlin Whores'

You know things are getting bad when they roll out Poppy to defend his son.
Former president says his son seeks peace, not war By Tobin A. Coleman Staff Writer January 28, 2003 ... "I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that the president is giving peace a chance and that the president does not want war," Bush said last night at the Westin Hotel in Stamford, where he received the sixth Altschul Award from the Stamford-based World Affairs Forum. "At the end of the day, he's determined to use whatever means necessary to stop Saddam Hussein from continuing (to be) a threat to the rest of the civilized world," Bush said.

Pleasae note where the tail end of that rocket launcher is pointed.

Update on the Bush dye job: look at those photos, and then take a gander at this review of Frank Bruni's book Ambling Through History:
That "laughter is Bush's favorite sound," as Bruni says, is revealing about the man and his character, especially when you consider that much of his wit is at his own expense. So is the fact that he got so homesick during the campaign that the press got tired of hearing him talk about his three cats and his dog Spot. So is the fact that Bush didn't like Gore and, although he never said so publicly, he saw Gore as "equal parts pompous blowhard and preening chameleon, a spineless panderer ready to be anything for anyone." For Bush, this opinion was distilled in a single detail: "The man dyes his hair."
Thanks to Dennis Crews for reminding me of this little anecdote.

An excellent interview with Daniel Ellsberg:
So what exactly are the lies you say the press should be examining more deeply? The first lie is: Saddam represents the No. 1 danger to U.S. security in the world. To allow the president and Rumsfeld to make that statement over and over is akin to them saying without challenge from the press that they accept the flat-earth theory. To say Saddam is the No. 1 danger is being made without real challenge from the press, with few exceptions. More dangerous than al-Qaida? North Korea? Russian nukes loose in the world? An India-Pakistan nuclear war? I'm impressed by the testimony of Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's mediator in the Middle East, who said he'd place Saddam sixth or seventh on any list of dangers we face. The question is, are we helping our cause against threats one through five by going after number six or seven? Two: That we are reducing the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by attacking Iraq. This is one of the most dangerous assertions since all evidence is that we are increasing the threat of such terrorism by the attack, as CIA Director [George] Tenet said in his letter to Congress. Tenet said the danger is very low that Saddam will use weapons if not attacked and fairly high if he is attacked. Three: The reason we are singling Saddam out is that he cannot be contained or deterred, unlike other leaders in the world, and again this is largely unchallenged by the mainstream press. No one brings out the following point: This is a man who had weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gas, and missiles capable of hitting Israel and ready to go in the 1991 war -- which he does not now have -- and he kept his finger off the button. So how unreliable is he if not on the brink of being deposed or killed?

Damn! What is with all of these anti-American Americans?
Nobel Laureates Sign Against a War Without International Support By WILLIAM J. BROAD Forty-one American Nobel laureates in science and economics issued a declaration yesterday opposing a preventive war against Iraq without wide international support. The statement, four sentences long, argues that an American attack would ultimately hurt the security and standing of the United States, even if it succeeds. ... The declaration reads: "The undersigned oppose a preventive war against Iraq without broad international support. Military operations against Iraq may indeed lead to a relatively swift victory in the short term. But war is characterized by surprise, human loss and unintended consequences. Even with a victory, we believe that the medical, economic, environmental, moral, spiritual, political and legal consequences of an American preventive attack on Iraq would undermine, not protect, U.S. security and standing in the world."

Compare the following photos: The one on the left was taken today. The one on the right is older. In fact, it is older in more ways than one. I wonder what brand he uses?

A long, sometimes funny, and well-worth-the-reading write-up of the DC anti- (and pro-) war rallies. The description of the pro-war rally is especially funny:
My hands were numb because I had kept them out of my pockets for long stretches in a frantic attempt to record for posterity the amazing rhetoric of the MOVE-OUT speakers. Some of the speeches were of a type not seen since Bluto rallied the troops in Animal House. Only this slapstick comedy, this was real. Martin, the corpulent Oreo, gave a typical speech: "Our troops have always been there for us," he said, "from the time of World War I, when our soldiers beat back the fascists in France...." I turned to Paul. "France?" I said. "Fascists? What the fuck is he talking about?" Paul shrugged. "Forget it," he said. "He's on a roll." I turned around. Behind me there was a man in a mesh baseball hat and glasses listening with rapt attention to Martin and brandishing a lovingly hand-drawn sign that read, painfully, "DISARM SADAM." I moved over to him. "You're missing a D," I said. "What?" he said. "'Saddam' is with two Ds," I said. "You're missing a D." He looked down at his sign. "Listen," he said. "I can spell it any ways I want. Faggot."
And one of the non-funny bits:
Back to the size later. The second thing that was striking about this crowd was that, despite the fact that it was comprised of largely middle- to upper-middle class whites, there was no name politician from either major party there to address it. Given that a Pew survey taken this week showed that a majority of Americans (52%) felt that President Bush had not yet made a convincing case that war was necessary, one would have thought that at least some opportunistic politician from the Democratic party would have decided to attach his name to the anti-war effort. But the only politician of any stature at the event was the Reverend Al Sharpton, a doomed candidate for president with too much political baggage to really be an effective champion for anything. Put two and two together and what you get is the amazing realization that this crowd, perhaps the largest to gather in Washington in the last thirty years, has no political representation whatsoever in today's America. Almost certainly representing a vastly larger number of people in the general population, the anti-war crowd has simply been excluded from the process. The 80 nitwits at the MOVE-OUT event could reasonably claim one sympathetic U.S. Senator per demonstrator: the 200,000+ at the A.N.S.W.E.R. event couldn't claim even one between them. The only real clout it could claim was its own physical presence at that particular moment. All of which makes sense, because from the very beginning, the character of this war has been that of a giant end run—an end run around common sense, around international law, around political reality, even around basic human logic. When you've spent half a year getting your head around the idea that a terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalists somehow necessitates the immediate invasion of an unrelated secular dictatorship, or that opposing an offensive war is somehow evidence that one "hates America " and is a traitor, it isn't hard to see how 250,000 people in this country these days can actually, in real terms, be numerically fewer than 80.

Yet another American who hates America...
U.S. Guilty of 'Double Standards' on Iraq - Butler SYDNEY (Reuters) - Former U.N. arms inspector Richard Butler said Tuesday that Washington was promoting "shocking double standards" in considering taking unilateral military action to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Butler, who led U.N. inspection teams in Iraq until Baghdad kicked them out in 1998, said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) undoubtedly possessed weapons of mass destruction, and was trying to "cheat" his way again out of the latest U.N. demand to disarm. But a U.S. attack, without United Nations (news - web sites) backing, and without any effort to curb the possession of weapons of mass destruction globally, would be a contravention of international law and sharpen the divide between Arabs and the West.
My but it is refreshing to see more and more people saying in the mainstream what I and others have been saying for the last two years. I guess the veils of illusion are finally starting to be pierced.

Norman Schwartzkopf, objectively pro-Sadaam?
He's had time to think. He likes the performance of Colin Powell -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, now secretary of state. "He's doing a wonderful job, I think," he says. But he is less impressed by Rumsfeld, whose briefings he has watched on television. "Candidly, I have gotten somewhat nervous at some of the pronouncements Rumsfeld has made," says Schwarzkopf. He contrasts Cheney's low profile as defense secretary during the Gulf War with Rumsfeld's frequent television appearances since Sept. 11, 2001. "He almost sometimes seems to be enjoying it." That, Schwarzkopf admonishes, is a sensation to be avoided when engaged in war.

Bush stimulus plan scrubbed (from the web that is):
Bush Stimulus Plan Is Out of Site By Al Kamen Monday, January 27, 2003; Page A17 When the White House Council of Economic Advisers explained President Bush's $674 billion economic stimulus proposal on Jan. 7, the plan seemed to suggest only 190,000 jobs would be created in 2003. Economists and Democratic critics went wild, saying Bush should be "embarrassed" to put forth such a plan, and pointing out that 1.5 million jobs have disappeared in the last couple of years, according to a New York Times account the next day. By Jan. 9, the CEA plan, which had been posted on the White House Web site, was nowhere to be found. It was gone. ... No doubt non-economists will be set straight, in some decent facsimile of the English language, when the CEA puts the newer, better version up on its Web site. Meanwhile, visitors to the site where the original analysis was posted are told: "The file you have attempted to access cannot be found. Please check the URL you entered to make sure there were no typing or copy-and-paste errors. You may also use our search facility to help you find the file you are looking for. "Please note: many files associated with the previous administration have been removed from this server . . . " Ah ha! It was Bill Clinton's plan!
Note: the snarky tone in this article is yet another indication that the bloom is falling off the press' relationship with Bush.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Lis of Riba Rambles has much more information on the possible genesis of the confederate memorial wreath story. She(?) found more on this stuff before I ever did.

Hillary Faults Bush On Security Says U.S. just a bit safer after Sept. 11 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS January 25, 2003 Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a blistering critique of the Bush administration's domestic anti-terror effort Friday, saying the nation's new homeland security plan is a "myth" and the country is only marginally safer than it was before Sept. 11. "Our people remain vulnerable, nearly as vulnerable as we were before ... Sept. 11," the New York Democrat told an audience attending a homeland security conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. "Our vigilance has faded at the top, in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., where the strategy and resources to protect our nation are supposed to originate, where leaders are supposed to lead," Clinton said. Clinton's challenge to President George W. Bush's domestic security efforts comes four days before he is to deliver the State of the Union address and on the same day that Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. "We have relied on a myth of homeland security - a myth written in rhetoric, inadequate resources and a new bureaucracy instead of relying on good, old-fashioned American ingenuity, might and muscle," Clinton said. "The truth is we are not prepared, we are not supporting our first responders, and our approach to securing our nation is haphazard at best," Clinton said. "Somewhere along the line, we lost our edge. We let our guard down." ... Clinton also tried to tie security concerns to criticism of Bush's $674 billion economic stimulus proposal that would eliminate taxes on dividends. "Will ending the dividend tax make air travel safer?" Clinton said. "Will it keep a dirty bomb out of New York Harbor? Will ending the dividends save one police officer or firefighter his or her job? In short, will it make America safer, more secure? Of course, the answer is no." Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Friday that the Bush administration's top priority is homeland security and that Clinton's criticism only exposes the country to more terror. "I just think it was a cheap shot," King said. "It just invites the enemy to attack again."
I'm disappointed in King's response. He's generally one of the more level-headed Republicans in congress. He was one of the few to come out against the impeachment, correctly seeing it as the GOP going nuts.

Could it be that the Democrats are forming their own policy of "pre-emptive strikes"? First we have Nancy Pelosi introducing a Democratic stimulus package the day before Bush unveiled his own, stealing a bit of his thunder and giving the Democrats nearly an entire of wall-to-wall coverage of their priorities. Now we have Daschle and Pelosi coming out and broadsiding Bush the day before his SOTU speech. The 2000-2002 Democrats would have waited for Bush to say something and then responded to it. By responding first, they start to put Bush more on the defensive and influence the ground rules by which his speech will be analyzed tomorrow night. It's about fucking time.

Dave Barry has joined the blogosphere.

Re: Garafolo vs. Kurtz. I didn't see the show, but from the transcript it appears that Howie was as glaringly oblivious as usual. Garafolo brings up the point that the media spends more time focusing on the celebrities who are anti-war then the ordinary citizens or the experts. Yet then the media goes on to subtly criticize the celebrities for putting themselves forward as experts on the matter. Howard, of course, completely misses the point and then proceeds to question why we should listen to her since she isn't an expert on these matters. [bangs head on table]