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Saturday, August 30, 2003

Now We Know 

What Whistle-Ass did on his summer vacation.

He was playing with his new copy of Webmonkey for Kids.

See the results here.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #9 

9. He can wear a codpiece with the best of 'em.

UPDATE: A history of the codpiece, from alert reader Ned Christy.

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #10 

10. He can wear an earpiece with the best of 'em.

Flypaper 

Synonym: Clusterfuck.

The Mendacity Index 

Guess Who Wins?

Today's Daily Howler is also excellent (even more excellent than usual) on the "Liar, Liar" topic.

God Help Us, Any God, All Gods 

A massive car bomb timed successfully to hit during Shi ia Friday morning prayers at the Iman Ali gold-domed mosque, one of the holiest of shrines in Iraq, in the holy city of Najaf. One of George W. Bush's worst nightmares? Probably not. With his pristine conscience, he sleeps too well to have nightmares.

This morning, I woke up to an NPR report on this real, daytime, nightmare, broadcast right from the scene; the actual explosion caught on tape, only an oddly distant thud, at least on the radio in an American bedroom, the haunting lilt of sung prayer suddenly suspended, replaced by expressions of disbelief, horror, despair, by people who don't feel in control of the most fundamental aspects of their own existence.

AP is reporting the number of deaths, thus far, at 75; l50 more were injured enough to be taken to hospital.

The blast dug a crater about 3 1/2 feet wide in the street in front of the mosque and destroyed nearby shops. People screamed in grief and anger as they searched the rubble for victims. Nearby cars were torn into twisted hunks of metal by the explosion.

Accompanying the AP report, a link to a "Slideshow" of the event, if you have the heart and stomach for it: I didn't; right below, a link to this story, "Ceremony Honors Iraqi Police," an irony so cheap I almost wished I hadn't noticed. But then, ironies abound here:

No coalition troops were in the area of the mosque out of respect for the holy site, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jim Cassella said in Washington.

And what do we do with this irony: Among the dead, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, only moments away from having offered a sermon and prayers for the unity of all Iraqis.

"I saw al-Hakim walk out of the shrine after his sermon and moments later, there was a massive explosion. There were many dead bodies," said Abdul Amir Jassem, a 40-year-old merchant who was in the mosque and said the cleric had prayed for Iraqi unity.

The mosque itself appeared to have suffered only minor damage, with some mosaic tiles blown off.

Well, that's something, I guess.

Ayatollah al-Hakim returned to Iraq in May from exile in Iran, an army at his disposal, but he turned out to be an elder statesmen, wise and pragmatic, who counselled his brethren, including one of his own nephews who has become a leader of a younger Shiite faction that wants to see an Islamic republic in Iraq, to be patient with Americans and mindful of Iraqi national unity. As this BBC profile makes clear, here was a man who had every reason to dislike and distrust Americans.

Five of Ayatollah Hakim's brothers and more than a dozen other relatives were killed during three decades of struggle against Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

In 1991, after the first Gulf War, President Bush senior encouraged Iraqis to rise up against their leader.

The opposition, including the Kurds of the north, believed this would mean the US would back a rebellion.

His discovery that he was wrong occasioned the start of his years of Iranian exile.

The Ayatollah did oppose American occupation in principle, but his opposition remained non-violent, he publicly disavowed Iranian style theocracy, and he chose to have his brother participate in the American appointed Governing Council. What now?

Al-Hakim's supporters and family are fingering Saddam supporters for this atrocity, Viceroy Bremer, too. If, as I understand it, a car bomb usually requires a driver willing to commit suicide, I wonder. The Iraqi Baathist party, made in the image of the Stalin-admiring Saddam, was higher on sacrificial other-destruction than on sacrificial self-destruction. Strange to ponder - in the last decade of Saddam's genuinely hated regime, no such suicide bombings took place against that regime. Against what is supposed to be seen as a benign "liberating" occupation, there are been two such bombings thus far.

Yes, Saddam ran a police state, and we seem incapable of running a state with so much as a barely adequate police function, but look at all the arms and explosives around Iraq. How many Iraqi's were really ever that committed to Saddam personally that, with the nearly complete disappearance of his regime, they would battle like this on his behalf? Curious. It does make one wonder what kind of Bin Laden inspired fundamentalism has infilitrated into Iraq. The better for us to do battle with it, we're told, by an number of useful idiots. Especially better there than here. That "Iraq as flypaper" meme is really catching on in the lower brain-strata of the right; Sean Hannity was recently so enamoured, I thought he might explode, right on air. Clever, incurious George.

Do any of these progeny of Dr. Pangloss ever wonder how Iraqis might view the notion of themselves and their country as flypaper-covered cannon fodder in the grand crusade against global terrorism? Perhaps some wealthy conservative might offer to finance a lecture tour of Iraq to a small team of distinguished conservatives, Andrew Sullivan, Wm Kristol, Fred Barnes, Jim Pinkerton, the goddess-warrior, Ann Coulter, well, there are so many from which to choose, who could explain all this directly to Iraqis.

I wonder if any conservatives bother to read a blog like Baghdad Is Burning? I recommend reading it regularly, and not because everything I read there confirms my own ideas. Because there, American readers can find an intelligent, thoughtful, anguished, authentic, female Iraqi voice, telling us, with the kind of detail weneed to hear, what our occuaption of their country feels like to a young woma who loathed Saddam, wants an Iraq run democratically by Iraqis, and writes in superb English. The only comfort I could find today I found there, in an epigraph on her cite: "...I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend..." Please, whatever Gods may be listening, please make that possible for both our countries, one of these days, and soon.

Oh, and BTW:

In violence elsewhere in Iraq today, an American soldier was reported killed and at least five others were wounded in two separate attacks on American troops.

In the deadly attack, one Fourth Infantry Division soldier was killed and three others were wounded when their convoy was hit by rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire near Suaydat, the American military reported.

Two other American soldiers were injured when their Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade near a mosque in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, said Spec. Margo Doers, a spokeswoman at coalition command in Baghdad.

Yet another definition of American innocence: Thinking that because you are the most powerful nation on earth, with the strongest military ever known to humankind, "shock and awe" describes possiblities limited exclusively to you.


Shrill 

A ritual term of abuse thrown at liberals by wingers when the winger lacks a substantive response to an argument. Synonym: "Shut up!" Sometimes used ironically by liberals.

Usage example, with irony: I used to like Paul Krugman when he wrote about economics, but lately he's been getting too shrill (from Atrios).

Bush administration to troops: Drop dead (just not too close to the 2004 election, though) 

Via Atrios, this gem from Georgie Anne Geyer of UPI in the Chicago Tribune:

Perhaps the only hope lies in the story going around town that President Bush has told the Pentagon he wants "no more American dead" after next March.

Ah! So this is why the administration wants other countries to "help." Check. Got it.

Read the whole thing.

Coming in September, to a book store near you. 

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy by William Greider.

Greider writes:
My new book (due in early September) is a bit different from my previous work -- a head-on critique of American capitalism that (I hope) leads people toward the sunlight, not darkness. My premise: we have reached a rare moment in history when Americans have the opportunity (and obligation) to confront the destructive qualities of the U.S. economic system and reform it in profound ways.


Letters to Kindred Spirits: The Question of Power
This new book offers a challenging proposition for American democracy: we are unlikely to revive a governing system that begins to resemble our democratic faith until we have confronted and reformed the malformed distributions of power within American capitalism itself. Though it may sound audacious, I think this is possible to achieve. In fact, I see glimpses of this great undertaking already underway in many places across the nation. Scattered and experimental to be sure, but these efforts are powered by brave pioneers who have compelling insights on how to rearrange the economic system so it will respect and support a far more humane and equitable country.


More from William Greider at, www.williamgreider.com

Addendum William Greider writes:
But an ugly corollary always accompanied the triumph of markets: Left unprotected by legal guarantees and restraints, the people are ignored, abused and screwed, then often have to pay to clean up the mess.

Above all, what was lost and forgotten over many years was the original genius of New Deal reforms--the understanding that social protections and economic well-being are not separate and incompatible but public values that can and should work together. A banking system cannot be sound if it is dominated by a few behemoths that regard themselves as above the law or if millions of Americans are left "unbanked" because they can't afford the sky-high fees of a checking account. A telecommunications industry cannot be healthy if it shuts off ownership and access to the diversity of Americans. The electricity sector cannot be efficient when it breaks down catastrophically and bilks its own customers.


For complete context see: "Lessons of the Blackout"

Bush administration to energy conservation: Drop dead! 

H. Josef Hebert of the AP writes:

"Energy Star" is the Bush administration's most highly touted energy conservation program, but that has not kept the Environmental Protection Agency from quietly slashing its budget by shifting millions of dollars to other programs.
The Energy Star label - used in the EPA program as well as a much smaller program within the Energy Department where funding was increased - has become synonymous with energy efficiency.

The program produces $70 in benefits for every dollar spent on it, according to EPA officials. Last spring, Whitman singled it out as "a shining example" of government-business cooperation to cut energy use, saying it has spurred $7 billion in energy savings.

More bait and switch. The Bush administration wants to sell energy, not save it!

Keeping the labor in Labor day 

Sensible words from WaPo columnist EJ Dionne here:

The simple truth is that the standard of living of most Americans depends on getting jobs that pay well. This means that unemployment matters not just for those out of work but also for those whose wages are depressed when too many people are competing for too few jobs. For most Americans, the best economic policy is still low unemployment. That's why the late 1990s produced income growth for the poor and the middle class as well as the wealthy.

I am all for a nation of owners and investors. But most people need jobs. For 25 years, we have been hearing that labor depends upon capital. It's time to resurrect the other, buried truth: that capital depends upon labor. Our prosperity really does require keeping the "Labor" in Labor Day.

Excretory Waste is Good for You 

Bush's EPA has just decreed that "pollution" under the Clean Air Act doesn't include carbon dioxide, hydroflourocarbons or other greenhouse gases. A Bush contribut--er, auto industry spokeserson explains:
"Why would you regulate a pollutant that is an inert gas that is vital to plant photosynthesis and that people exhale when they breathe? ...That's not a pollutant."
I look forward to new regulations relaxing prohibitions on the release of untreated sewage into our water supply just as soon as Waste Management Inc. divvies up its tax cut with the RNC.

BTW, under sec. 302(g) of the Clean Air Act, carbon dioxide is indeed defined as a "pollutant." But you knew that.

YABL.

So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

Mark Gongloff of CNN writes:

Bank One senior economist Peter Glassman said he expects job creation in "the next several quarters," but he echoed the Philly Fed's consensus estimate that the unemployment rate would average 5.9 percent in 2004, only slightly lower than July's rate of 6.2 percent.

"We don't think the unemployment rate will be any lower than 5.5 percent by the 2004 election," Glassman said.

Can't put food on my family with no work!

Thanks, Atrios 

Thanks for the kind words. And we haven't left you behind—let us know if you ever need us to fill in again. It was a pleasure and an honor.

And yes, those substitute gyms sure are hard to teach....

Whorefest in Crawford 

Bush held an off-the-record barbecue for the press at his Crawford hideout ("Prairie Chapel Ranch," gag). Dana Milbank of WaPo writes:

The reporters, though invited to bring their swimsuits, elected not to take a dip.

But they sure have taken a dive, haven't they? Right into the tank....

Denial ain't no river in Egypt 

The Shrill One opines:

For now, the administration is in denial. "There will be no retreat," President Bush says — Churchillian words, but where are the resources to back them up?

Mr. Rumsfeld won't admit that we need more troops in Iraq or anywhere else. We could use help from other countries, but it's doubtful whether the administration will accept the kind of meaningful power-sharing that might lead to a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, which might in turn bring in allied forces.

Still, even the government of a superpower can't simultaneously offer tax cuts equal to 15 percent of revenue, provide all its retirees with prescription drugs and single-handedly take on the world's evildoers — single-handedly because we've alienated our allies. In fact, given the size of our budget deficit, it's not clear that we can afford to do even one of these things. Someday, when the grown-ups are back in charge, they'll have quite a mess to clean up.

Maybe Blotchy should try going to a meeting? Along with his enablers?

Republicans and the rule of law: part 1,000,000 ... 

Reuters here:

[Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow] was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Friday, two weeks after the long-time South Dakota politician allegedly sped through a stop sign, striking and killing a motorcyclist.

[Janklow] has a history of speeding in the state, having been cited for driving faster than the law allows on at least 12 occasions since 1990. He has been involved in at least seven traffic accidents since 1992, according to state records.

The accident and the two-week lag in filing charges had sparked controversy and debate across the state, with speculation growing over whether Janklow should resign his seat in Congress.

Sigh...
UPDATE: From AP via USA Today here:

A self-proclaimed speeder, Janklow got 12 speeding tickets in 11 South Dakota counties from 1990 to 1994 and paid more than $1,000 in fines. He often drove 15 mph to 20 mph faster than legal speed limits and once got caught going 90 mph in a 65-mph zone.

Not just a law-breaker, proud of it! Those loveable old coots, the Republicans! Still, it's not like he got a blowjob or anything, so why worry about it? And could the press have asked any questions before a man got killed? Forget about it!


Contest: "What I did on my summer vacation, by George W. Bush" 

"Our" President will return from his hide-out in Crawford shortly. You remember what the Bush krew cooked up last year about this time—they figured out how to "market" the war of choice in Iraq (and that turned out so well for all of us).

Suitable topics include "How I decided what to do with the $200 million in campaign contributions I got, even though I am running unopposed," "How, Where, and Why I am still a Christian," "Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness," "How to Choose the Codpiece that's Right for You," "Xanax Cowgirls," and "How I kept my Complexion Clear and Clean in 100 Degree Heat," but let your imaginations have full scope!

So, "What I did on my summer vacation, by George W. Bush"

Submit as many entries as you like to us with subject heading "Contest" and we guarantee to have to our home office treat them in an entirely random and discourteous fashion. Employees and relatives of Corrente are, of course, encouraged to enter.

There should be a prize, but we don't know what it is yet. Any suggestions? Contact the us.

Oh, and please keep your entries to under 200 words. We'll publish a random selection of what we like in a week or so. (If you want to write an entry in your own blog, and submit the URL, that's fine too.)

Finally, "by George W. Bush" means that you should try to make the entry read like our Dear Leader was actually writing it (that is, not like you were writing it.

The other qWagmire 

Noor Kahn of AP via the Austin American-Statesman here:

Afghan soldiers were waging a fierce battle with entrenched Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan after a night of heavy U.S. bombing that left many Taliban dead, an Afghan intelligence chief said Friday.

Entrenched?!

Do steroids affect the memory? 

The Arnispleads loss of memory:

When queried about the interview at a press conference Thursday in Fresno, Schwarzenegger said he could not remember it, repeating three times, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"I am here to talk about my economic agenda," he said. "I have no memory of any of the articles I did 20 or 30 years ago."

Except it isn't the articles that are at issue.

Personally, I don't care what Schwarzenegger does in the bedroom, any more than I care what Clinton did. But a lot of Republicans seemed to care a lot about what Clinton did, so I'd expect them to care what Schwarzenegger did, unless there's some kind of double standard at work. I mean, if the Republicans aren't the kind of people who will do and say anything in the pursuit of power, which of course we know they aren't.

What does Bush think of Schwarzenegger's inhalation of marijuana and hashish, and his participation in group sex? And when will a reporter ask Bush whether he's going to backtrack on his approval of Schwarzenegger's candidacy?

Fonts 

Any blogger techies out there who can give us advice on how to make the fonts a reasonable size on "smallest" in Internet Explorer? Specify font sizes in pixels? Or what?

A diplomatic post mortem 

The current Foreign Affairs might as well be entitled "The Red Meat" issue; it's got a lot of great stuff in it. One particularly excellent article is by James Rubin (a former assistant secretary of state under our last elected President) which gives a blow-by-blow description of every diplomatic gaffe committed by the malAdministration in the run-up to the war of choice in Iraq. If it isn't a very long article, that's because Rubin writes well—and time flies when you're having fun. An excerpt:

What went wrong? Why, when the leader of the free world went to war with a brutal and hated dictator, did so many countries refuse to take America's side? How much collateral damage was caused in the process? And what lessons can be learned from this debacle? After extensive debriefings of key participants in Europe and at the United Nations, as well as of a number of informed American diplomats, some important lessons from the recent crisis are starting to emerge.

First, the fact that Washington's justification for war seemed to shift as occasion demanded led many outside observers to question the Bush administration's motives and to doubt it would ever accept Iraq's peaceful disarmament. Second, the United States failed to synchronize its military and diplomatic tracks. The deployment of American forces in the Middle East seemed to determine American policy, not the other way around, and diplomatic imperatives were given short shrift. Third, the failure to anticipate Saddam's decision to comply partially with UN demands proved disastrous to Washington's strategy. Fourth, the belated effort to achieve a second Security Council resolution could still have succeeded, had the United States been willing to compromise by extending the deadline by just a few weeks. But such a compromise was not forthcoming, which leads to the last lesson: the Bush administration's rhetoric and style alienated rather than persuaded key officials and foreign constituencies, especially in light of Washington's two-year history of scorn for international institutions and agreements.

Read the whole thing.

Credit card Republicans 

Robert Reich writes for the LA Times here:

So what's the problem with Bush's deficits? The crunch will come a few years from now, once the economy is back on track. Then, the projected deficits will create havoc because they will use up scarce capital. The Medicare drug benefit that Bush wants is likely to balloon as boomers retire. Huge military outlays, combined with the billions needed for rebuilding Iraq and ensuring homeland security, will continue because the war against terrorism is likely to go on and on. And if Bush gets his way and makes permanent his temporary tax breaks, the budget gap will only get worse.

This means interest rates will go sky-high. They may already be heading that way. Wall Street is just beginning to feel nervous about the projected deficits. Mortgage rates are moving upward in many parts of the country. It stands to reason. Who wants to lend money at 6% for 15 years when there's a good chance of a capital squeeze in a few years that pushes long-term rates north of 10%?

Higher long-term rates can stall the recovery and hurt Bush's chance of being reelected. In other words, if Bush chokes on the projected red ink, it won't be because of Democrats or Republicans. It will be because Wall Street starts to worry about the future.

But who cares? The bill will come due after Bush and his cronies have left town, bulging sacks of cash over their shoulders.

Man-slut The Arnis 

Alert reader pansypoo points out that The Arnis™ is not nearly as powerful as The Clenis™—and could never be, since The Clenis™ is all powerful.

Hence, I suggest the following typographic revision: not The Arnis™, but The Arnis™. Maybe this will make things more proportionate.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Just curious 

As we are reminded ad nauseam by the snake handlers, unreconstructed seccessionists and other yahoos wrapping themselves in the flag down in Montgomery, AL, they claim the 10 Commandments form the basis of all our laws.

Really?

Sure, we have nos. 6 and 8, against killing and stealing, but so did the Code of Hammurabi as well as every other religion on earth. It's rather self-evident where we'd all be without laws against each (though perhaps fans of pre-emptive war and capital punishment do need reminding). As for the others, well, I suppose the admonition against false witness covers the law of slander, but like Nos. 9 and 10 against coveting, strict enforcement of these would put a severe crimp in the Wingnut Way of Life. So they can't seriously mean those. And the one against adultery is clearly only intended to apply to Democrats.

The rest--a hodgepodge of injunctions mostly proving that if nothing else, the Christian God is indeed a jealous mofo--hardly begin to cover any political issues more complex than Blue Laws and public profanity. So we've potentially addressed about 0.001% of our public laws. What about, say, trade issues? Labor laws? Hell, what about speeding? Can someone please explain to me how the most elemental political issues can be derived from this overhyped melange of the obvious and the psychotic?

Extra points for doing so without violating the fundamentalist no-no of "interpretation".

Buffet bets on oil—Chinese oil 

William Pesek of Bloomberg via the Herald Trib writes:

Warren Buffett, the Nebraska-based financier, is known among investors as the "The Sage of Omaha." But it may be time to add another monicker: The Sage of China.

The world's second-richest man has made a big - and, so far, very profitable - bet on China.

It all began in March, when Buffett told shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company he chairs, that American stocks were too expensive. The search for better value brought a man not known for risky international plays to a surprising place: China. In April, he began acquiring shares in PetroChina, the country's biggest oil producer.

Hmmm...


Trial balloon from Hillary? 

Richard Reeves in the Herald Trib:

If Bush is in trouble, Kerry and Dean could be the Gene McCarthys of their generation if Hillary decides to be Bobby.

Read the whole thing.

qWagmire 

AP via the UK Independent here:

A British soldier was killed and a second injured when their convoy was caught between two crowds and fired on with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades in southern Iraq, the British military reported Thursday.

He said the soldiers met a crowd of about 30 people who formed a roadblock. Soldiers moved around the crowd, only to be stopped by a second crowd blocking the road near Fort Jennings.

Commander Walters said the the soldiers got down from their vehicles, fired two warning shots trying to disperse the groups when the Iraqi's opened fire with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, killing one soldier and wounding the second in the hand.

Gee, if the Iraqis have figured out there's safety in numbers, security may turn out to be a problem....

Take two stone tablets and call me in the morning 

Bush flack Buchan weasels on the monument loons here:

Asked about the president's view of the controversy, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said: "It is important that we respect our laws and our courts. In some instances the courts have ruled that the posting of Ten Commandments is OK. In other circumstances they have ruled that it's not OK. In either case, there is always opportunity for appeal of courts' decisions."

What a ringing endorsement of the separation of church and state!


Why "corrente"? 

The Farmer writes:

corrente meaning stream or current (Italian). In this case, as in a stream or current of information...ideas and so forth. Like a blog...which is a constant moving current/stream of information.

Lambert writes:

Atrios graciously asked the four of us to be guest bloggers over the summer, and we decided that we liked working together—and maybe that we had something to say. So we started this blog. Deciding on the name took longer than setting up the blog! (Incidentally, Farmer's design contains the subtle hint that we can deal with shades of grey....)

VRWC 

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, originated by Senator and best-selling-though-not-bulk-ordered author Hillary Clinton.

See Federalist Society, Bush Administration.

So why did Wellstone's plane go down? 

Frederic J. Frommer of AP via the Chicago Tribune writes:

The National Transportation Safety Board has not determined the cause of the Oct. 25 crash, although the board's preliminary reports this spring suggested pilot error was partly to blame.

Hmmm....

Power corrupts, and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely 

For anyone who has ever had to endure such corporatist garbage, from uber-designer Edward Tufte.

Man-slut The Arnis™ 

Here via Atrios.

Or should we say The Schwenis™?

Iraqis may have "duped" intelligence agencies on WMDs 

Bob Drogin of the LA Times writes:

Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.

Are there no limits to the subtley of the middle eastern mind?!

The goal, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, "is to see if false information was put out there and got into legitimate channels and we were totally duped on it." He added, "We're reinterviewing all our sources of information on this. This is the entire intelligence community, not just the U.S."

Carefully heaving the Brits over the side yet again... Since we can't blame it on the French or the Italians!

"They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official. "Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us."

Ah... I guess these polygraphed defectors must have been those "other sources" we heard so much about after the 16 word lie blew up in aWol's face.

Critics had charged that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence on Iraq to bolster support for the war. The broader question now is whether some of the actual intelligence was fabricated and U.S. officials failed to detect it.

One U.S. intelligence official said analysts may have been too eager to find evidence to support the White House's claims. As a result, he said, defectors "were just telling us what we wanted to hear."

Whoever heard of such a thing?

Well, it looks like the administration has to make of their mind:

Are they going to look like liars, or just stupid? Of course, it's always possible to have the best of both worlds!

They must be desperate 

Yes, those paragons of consistency in the White House are now floating trial balloons about getting the UN involved in Iraq after all. Guess they've figured out how to protect UN personnel....

So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

Jeannine Aversa of AP via WaPo writes:

The 0.7 percentage-point improvement to GDP reflected more military spending for the Iraq war and more robust spending by consumers and businesses than the government previously thought. ...

Keynes was right!*

Even if the economy perks up in the second half, the job market probably will remain sluggish for a while, economists say.

Too bad. I guess I'll have to write "GDP improved by 0.7%" at the bottom of my phone bill and hope things work out with Verizon...

The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 6.2 percent in July, but that was mainly because a lot of people left the civilian labor force. Businesses cut jobs for the sixth month in a row.

More discouraged workers! (And why not?) More lucky duckies!

Economists say businesses will want profits to improve and want to feel secure about the economic rebound before they go on a hiring spree.

Of course, no one says the hiring spree will be for US workers, eh?

* Ironic footnote: Roosevelt was right too; good to see the Republicans adopting some of his ideas...

Operation Cheney's Pension a massive success 

And about the only thing in Iraq these days that is.

Halliburton's getting $1.7 billion in Iraqi contracts so far.

"More than previously thought"—Goodness, what a surprise!

"No bid contracts"—ain't crony capitalism grand?

Maladministration redefines "chutzpah" 

How? By using the phrase "responsible numbers."

David Gregory of MSNBC writes:

“We don’t have the numbers at this point, and until we have responsible numbers, we’re not going to go to Congress,” [White House spokesperson Claire Buchan] said, speaking at President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Not, of course, that Congress's authority to appropriate and authorize funding would have any bearing on the matter ...

Anyhow, Buchan's straightfaced piety aside, Congress may be waiting for these "responsible numbers" for awhile. She was talking about Iraq, but there's Social Secuurity, Red Sta—uh, Homeland Security, Medicare, those pesky "average" tax cuts... Responsible numbers, my Aunt Fanny.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

"Staggering crowds" for Dean says Times 

Jodi Wilgoren of the Times writes:

The staggering, seemingly spontaneous crowds turning up to meet him — about 10,000 in Seattle on Sunday and a similar number in Bryant Park in Manhattan last night — are unheard of in the days of the race when most candidates concentrate on the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and would seem formidable even in October 2004.

10,000? That's a lot of Birkenstocks!

Nice spin on "seemingly spontaneous," Jodi. Personally, I don't care whether the crowds are spontaneous or not. In fact, if they are aren't, so much the better. It's would be nice if Dean were not just from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," but from the organized wing of the Democratic Party.

Halliburton all set! But the rest of us .... 

I'm pleased for Halliburton. After all, I'm one of their biggest fans!

Peter Slevin and Vernon Loeb of WaPo write:

Iraq will need "several tens of billions" of dollars from abroad in the next year to rebuild its rickety infrastructure and revive its moribund economy, and American taxpayers and foreign governments will be asked to contribute substantial sums, U.S. occupation coordinator L. Paul Bremer said yesterday.

Just couple of points I'm not too clear on.

(1) Most of that money won't be spent here at home, so even though "our" government's spending the money, there's no jobs for us, right? Except with Halliburton, of course. Or with Wackenhut's Overseas division.

(2) The foreign governments that will be "asked" to contribute won't have their citizens protected (since the UN didn't) and won't be given any authority in the reconstruction, right? So review for me again why they are going to contribute?

So, really, "dollars from abroad" means we're on the hook for it all?

Say, where are those Japanese troops, anyhow?

Monument loons lay in food 

From the Birmingham News, the monument standoff continues:

Nearly a week after a court's deadline for its removal, the Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Judicial Building had not budged as of late Tuesday, with no indication when it might be removed.

Hundreds of monument supporters, meanwhile, remained entrenched at the state judicial building Tuesday in a scene that's become part religious revival, part siege.

Fried chicken, pizzas, bags of cookies and cases of drinking water were laid in for the long haul as the growing throng prayed, sang and ate beneath towering columns just a glance away from the 5,300-pound monument inside.

"It's real biblical as far as I'm concerned," said Lorraine Adams, who drove in from Birmingham last week. "I can see the two fish, loaves of bread happening here. It's a feast for God's people."

Let 'em stay and fatten themselves up, as far as I'm concerned. The longer it goes, the more ridiculous it gets, and the greater the likelihood these theocratic SICs will be exposed for the out-of-the-mainstream winger throwbacks they are.

"War on terror" 

More Orwellian language... Kos (I believe) pointed out that "war on terror" is, conceptually, the same as "war on let flanking maneuvers," and just as nonsensical.

That is, "terror" is a tactic. Whatever we go to war with, it isn't a tactic. And since you can't define what it means to win a war with no clear objectives, the "war on terror" is, by definition, endless. Probably what the PNAC types want.

So much for the NGOs 

D'Arcy Doran of the AP writes:

International relief agency Oxfam said Wednesday that it had pulled its foreign staff out of Iraq because the security level in the country had deteriorated to the point where the group could no longer operate. ... The London-based aid group had been working on water and sanitation projects with UNICEF in Iraq.

Oh well. What's a little cholera in the "war on terror"?

The Road to Obscurity 

I try to help people as best I can. I'm just that kind of guy. And I'm glad to do it. I recently sent my new friend Wayne this quote: "It's time to return Al Franken to the obscurity that he's normally accustomed to." - and some other stuff - and he was more than grateful because he likes to collect important historical quotes. Hey, who doesn't? Liberals like Al Franken could learn a few things from my grateful conservative friend Wayne. Listen:

Dear the Farmer,
Thank you for the secret map of the location of the secret buried Confederate gold. That's the best $150 map I ever bought! I can just tell by looking at it that it is athentic. And thank you for the sending me that fuck nut Al Franken's home phone number and street address. I didn't know he lived in Frankenmuth, Michigan not too far from Otter Lake. But it figures he would be hiding somewhere like Michigan which is full of old left behind lberal socialist labor union cry baby shits and illegal immigrants from Canada. Al Franken is such a ass-monkey! He was just afraid of Fox Murdoch's boys. They was gonna take him to the woodshed but then they let him off the hook. Probably best too since the liberal Christian haters would have all cried racist! This whole Fox News joke on Franken reminds me of the time I rode my ATV down near the interstate and was yelling at cars full of liberals on the interstate just last week. Those fucking stoopid liberals in their cars would approach me from one direction and I wood commence to flipping them off with the bird and hurling colorful remarks at their chicken shit liberal cars. You can suck my big Hannity! I would scream. And fuck you, you big fuck-wad fuck faced fuckhead liberal rest area fag fucks! Scary intimidating stuff like that that I knows scares liberals. Off course they would blow their wimpy car horns and point and at me and laugh at me like I was the ass-wipe jerk but I knew they were scared of me because they just kept right on going up the highway. They never stopped to debate me once in person. Right up the road to Obscurity they kept going. Which is just a couple of hours up the road from here. But I never go up there myself because its full of homos and other loser horn honking liberal bitch monkeys who are scared of me and liberal ass-kicking real Americans like Bill O'Riley. Plus, I have some gold to dig up thanks to you!

Always Your Frend,
Wayne.


America could use a few more guys like Wayne. And I can always use the extra $150. God bless the Confederate States of America and the interstate highway system and Obscurity.

*

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Maybe the Pentagon is smarter than Rummy 

And that's a frightening thought. Anyhow, WaPo columnist David Ignatius writes:

Pentagon sources report one hopeful sign that the military is thinking creatively and unconventionally about Iraq. The Pentagon's special operations chiefs have scheduled a showing tomorrow in the Army auditorium of "The Battle of Algiers," a classic film that examines how the French, despite overwhelming military superiority, were defeated by Algerian resistance fighters.

A Pentagon flier announcing the film puts it in eerie perspective: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. . . . Children shoot soldiers at point blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

Could be that "more troops" isn't the answer, or at least not the only answer.

Our ever-changing stories 

Proconsul Bremer ratchets down the test for success in the WMD hunt here:

"[CIA adviser] David Kay has now got about 1,200 people in country working for him on weapons of mass destruction. He's making progress. . . . I'm confident we will find evidence of the biological and chemical programs."

It used to be weapons... Then it was weapons programs... Now it's evidence of weapons programs.... And—please note—"biological and chemical." Nothing nuclear.

And I like the Freudian-slippy wording of "working for him on weapons of mass destruction"—not working on finding them, just "working on them." No crude forgeries this time, eh?

California Republicans form circular firing squad 

Phew! I thought only Democrats did that! Judy Woodruff of CNN interviews Tom McClintock here:

WOODRUFF: How do you argue, though, with the math -- and this is what Schwarzenegger himself was referring to yesterday -- that Republicans have a much better shot, in fact, their only real shot at unseating Gray Davis, if they have one person in the race?

MCCLINTOCK: Well, I think that's a good point. And that's why I'm prepared, at the appropriate time, to accept Arnold Schwarzenegger's endorsement.

WOODRUFF: Seriously speaking, do you think Republicans have a real...

MCCLINTOCK: I am serious.

WOODRUFF: You don't think there's a chance he would do that. So, my question...

MCCLINTOCK: But, Judy, to answer you seriously, I've gone, in the last three weeks, from an asterisk in the polls to double-digits.

Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger, with unprecedented media coverage, has been absolutely dead in the water. He is consistently polled in the low to mid 20s. So the momentum is clearly on my side. We have still got 42 days, six full weeks, until the election. And the momentum is all in my direction right now.

And I thought only Democrats defied the CW... This California race is just getting weirder and weirder. It's like a full moon, every night, for the next six weeks. With every winger howling and baying...

The Clenis™ 

Abbrev. The Mighty Member of the Big Dog, our last elected president: The Cl[inton P]enis.

Who could begin to define a signifier of such mighty power?

The Clenis™ is worth about $10 million per inch as measured by the Republicans investigating it.... And to hear the Republicans tell it, The Clenis™ is responsible for everything that's wrong with the country, then and now.... Watch them shift the subject to The Clenis™ whenever they start losing an argument on the merits; it's fun!

He don't need no stinkin' codpiece ....

Originated by "Jennifer" of the Atrios comments section.

Why a lexicon? 

Well, sometimes newbies ask for the definitions. "What does SCLM mean?" comes up pretty frequently in comments.

But why a lexicon of invective?

I think that free and fair elections in 2004 are important. To achieve that goal—and unseat the Bush regime— we have to sharpen our rhetorical weapons to a very fine edge.

If readers will pitch in, we'll refine the glossary, propagate those memes, and maybe add in a meme watch too—keep our eyes on the vectors of transmission.

Yeah? When? 

Bush:

Having fought under the American flag ...

In the Texas Air National Guard? YABL, YABL, YABL... And he says this to actual veterans!

UPDATE: Oh dear! And to think I was an English major. I got sucked in by a leading gerund, as alert reader Harry Cheddar points out. Here it is:

Having fought under the American flag and seen it folded and given to families of your friends, you are committed, as am I, to protecting the dignity of the flag and the Constitution of the United States ....

My bad. Of course, the beauty part—from the speechwriter's perspective—is that having lunged for the bait of "having fought" I missed all the other untruths in the sentence, like asking if the Texas Air National Guard duty is how he shows his commitment, asking if the Patriot Act is consonant with protecting the Constitution... Well, learn from it! Man, these guys are good...

What does he mean, "sometimes"? 

Patricia Wilson of Reuters writes:

"Sometimes when this president talks, the opposite of what he says is true and if we don't call him on it we can't win," Dean told reporters in Chicago.

Republican tactics 101: If at first you don’t succeed, change the rules and try again 

In Texas, Rove's tactics have failed—so far:

Tuesday was the 30th day of the 30-day session. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has indicated he would call yet another special session to try to get approval for new congressional boundaries. But he has not said when it would start. ...

Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent a warning to the Democrats.

"Let me pass on a very clear message to our 11 colleagues out in Albuquerque. The mood in the Senate is changing. We're tired. We're tired of sitting here and waiting," Dewhurst said. "It is in our 11 colleagues' best interest to come back sooner rather than later."

I always enjoy it when Republicans try to help Democrats understand what their own best interests are. It's cute, and doesn't really do anyone any harm.

Then again, Rove's tactics are metastatizing to Pennsylvania and in Nevada that they've already tried in Texas and California (via Atrios).

Crony capitalism at work (though maybe you're not) 

Martin Hutchinson of UPI writes that the US economy is starting to look a little, well, Soviet-style (modulo the Hummers, of course).

The United States economy has changed significantly since the September 11 attacks, in a thoroughly unpleasant direction. While Gross Domestic Product has risen by 4.6 percent (in real terms) from the third quarter of 2001, government consumption has risen by 8.2 percent, while private fixed asset investment has declined.

And of that 8.2%, how much is being looted by Bush and his cronies? Let's start with Halliburton...

Coincidence? You be the judge 

Consumer confidence rises as Bush re-election prospects fall.

Signage! 

Bloomberg reports:

Protesters waved signs that read ``We Want Truth,'' ``What Economic Recovery,'' and ``Support the Troops, Bring Them Home'' as Bush's motorcade reached the Minnesota fund-raiser.

Sounds pretty mainstream to me.

Duck pit, The 

The origin of the term is obscure; everyone talks about the duck pit, but nobody ever says where it is, what it is, or how the people destined for it will get there. Believed to be a Babylon 5 reference, however....

Usage example: Aux duck pits, citoyens!

The F-word 

Fascism.

In UseNet discussions (and indeed, most discussions) the use of the F-word signals the end of useful discussion, via the operations of Godwin's Law. Unfortunately, this prevents the F-word from being used analytically. Orcinus sometimes uses the similar but more neutral term corporatist.

Blotchy 

George W. Bush. Synonyms: Pretzel Boy, aWol.

Poss. from Bush's intermittently roseate complexion.

Usage example: Blotchy hasn't had a press conference in awhile. Has he broken out again, or is he shopping round for a new ear-piece?

Pretzel Boy 

George W. Bush. Synonyms: Blotchy, aWol.

Poss. from TV commercial catchphrase: Prove it, pretzel boy! (see YABL). Then again, Bush likes pretzels. (Actual pretzels, not pretzel logic, or Pretzel Logic, though here Becker and Fagen's lyrics are surprisingly suggestive.)

aWol 

George W. Bush. Synonyms: Blotchy, Pretzel Boy.

From Bush's Absent-WithOut-Leave Texas Air National Guard "duty" during the Viet Nam war, not his disappearance on 9/11.

Fruitcake 

A right-winger. Synonyms: Winger, wing-nut.

Usage example: That fruitcake theocrat, Antonin Scalia, is nuttier than Mussolini!

SCLM 

So-Called Liberal Media, from Eric Alterman's book, What Liberal Media?

WMD 

Weapons of Mass Destruction. See YABL. Synonyms: Weapons of Mass Distraction, Winnebagos of Mass Distortion.
Usage example from David Mamet:

Chemical and biological weapons are not ''weapons of mass destruction'' - they are battlefield weapons, and inefficient ones.


CW 

Conventional Wisdom.

Usage example: The slightly stale CW, as promulgated by bigfoot "Dean" Broder.

MW 

Media Whore.

From the site Media Whores Online.

Usage example: Rove's bumboy, Howie Kurtz, is a true MW.

SIC 

Self-Identified Christian. Those who identify as Christians but are, in fact, not. Generally "practice their piety before others in order to be seen by them." (Mathew 6:5)

Propagation node: I like SIC for its euphony ("Sounds like ....").

My personal theology: It's the height of hypocrisy to parade one's religious beliefs as a means toward political power. And it's the height of arrogance to believe that one is "saved," let alone to say it, let alone run for office on that basis. Only God can know if we are saved. It isn't up to us to say anything about it. Hope and belief are not knowledge. "Self-identified" points this out. Bush says he's a Christian, but "by their fruits shall ye know them." (Matthew 7:16) We don't have to take his word for it.

MBF 

Moronic Brownshirt Fuck. Originated by dave.

Usage example: Oh, that's just Anonymous—what an MBF!

YABL 

Yet Another Bush Lie. Possible formation from Seinfeld "yadda, yadda, yadda." As Felix Deutsch points out, the "Yet Another" construction comes from Geek Speak

Usage example:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." (source)
YABL!

Winger  

A right-winger. Synonyms: Wing-nut, fruitcake. See also The F-word.

Usage: Tom DéLay is a real winger.

Wing-nut 

A right-winger. Synonyms: Winger, fruitcake. See also The F-word.

Usage example: Do you need a wing-nut with that screw?

Dean on Cuba (eyeing Florida?) 

Peter Wallsten of the Miami Herald writes:

''If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have said we should begin to ease the embargo in return for human-rights concessions,'' he said, responding to a question from a Herald reporter at a dinner Sunday night in Seattle. ``But you can't do it now because Castro has just locked up a huge number of human-rights activists and put them in prison and [held] show trials. You can't reward that kind of behavior if what you want to do is link human-rights behavior with foreign trade.''

''I can't say I know him, but I appreciate his sensitivity to the issue,'' said Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and one of the harshest recent critics of Bush's Cuba policies. ``He's saying what any reasonable person would say.''

''Look, the road to the White House goes through South Florida, and anyone who's running for president is looking at the numbers,'' Garcia added.


Maybe Bush did jump the shark on the Lincoln after all 

D'Arcy Dornan of AP via the Glob writes:

"They need to get more help (for the troops) or maybe get them out of there," said Ronda Quarterman of Galesburg, Ill., whose son Chad is an infantry soldier in Iraq. "We're concerned that (Bush) said it is over when we still have guys that are being killed."

YABL, YABL, YABL: Seems this idea's getting some traction in middle American. And why not? It's not we don't have a history with Bush, at this point. He can't fool even some of the people, all of the time.

Once-proud 60 Minutes franchise stoops to aWol reruns 

From the NY Post's Entertainment section (they got that right):

On Sept. 10, CBS' "60 Minutes II" is planning to re-air last year's exclusive interview with President George W. Bush in which the president talked about what was going on behind the scenes at the White House the day terrorists hijacked four jet airliners and killed 3,000 people.

Right. "Behind the scenes." As if Unka Karl would show us anything except PR drivel—on the day when aWol was reading stories about goats and flying hither and yon trying to find a bunker and figure out whether to tell us anything. Where's that George W. omorashi site I keep hearing about, anyhow?

ABC, meanwhile, looks like it's actually going to do some reporting, instead of an "encore presentation":

Among the questions ABC News hopes to answer are:

  • Has the U.S.-led global war on terrorism done real damage to al Qaeda?

  • After a two-year search, why hasn't Osama bin Laden, the world's most notorious terrorist, been caught?

  • Two years later, are members of al Qaeda still living among us? What makes them pledge allegiance to America's enemies?

  • $20 billion has been spent to prevent and respond to possible terrorist attacks. Is some of that money is being wasted?


Reportage... We can dream, anyway...


Let's keep it simple 

We'll make a note when we think Bush is telling the truth. Otherwise, we'll just assume he's lying.

A lot less work for everyone, right?

Republicans to "solve" power outage problem by drilling in Alaska wilderness 

You heard it right... Juliet Elperin of WaPo writes:

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said Republicans will have a hard time arguing that new drilling would do anything to address problems linked to the massive blackout that started Aug. 14. "The Republicans are saying to find the answer to the electricity crisis by going to the Arctic," Markey said. "The Democrats are saying to find the answer to the electricity crisis, go to Cleveland," near the spot where the problems began. "It's very difficult to argue it's related to the electricity crisis, because we don't use oil to generate electricity."

Gotta keep those (now tax-deductible!) Hummers humming!

Morning elision 

I just heard NPR's "Morning Edition" on those 10 commandments loons down in Alabama. No coverage of the fact that these SICs are winger theocrats, even though this information has been out for days (from the invaluable Orcinus, who actually thought to go to the web sites of the SICs whose names were mentioned in the news coverage).

Nice sound bites of the hymn-singing, though.

Let's hope it's just all-too-typical-these-days NPR sloppiness.


Tipping point 

Bradley Graham of WaPo writes:

With the death yesterday of another U.S. soldier in Iraq, the number of U.S. troops who have died there since May 1, when President Bush declared an end to major combat operations, rose to 138 -- the same number as perished during the six weeks of fighting that marked the fall of Baghdad and its immediate aftermath, according to Pentagon records.


Mission accomplished, my Aunt Fanny.

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