Saturday, September 13, 2003

Dead men tell no tales... 

Remember how the Booblicans kept prating about the "rule of law" when they were trying to overthrow Clinton? Well...

Scheherezade Faramarzi of the AP writes:

"The choice will be [Saddam's]," Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 101st Airborne's 2nd Brigade in Mosul [who led the raid on the hide-out of Saddam Hussein's sons two months ago], told The Associated Press. "He'll always be given the opportunity to surrender," said Anderson, adding, however, "personally, I think the world is better off if he's dead."

Human rights groups and many Iraqis have said they would want Saddam Hussein put on trial for crimes against humanity, including the killing of 4 million people during the Baath Party's 34 years in power. Saddam's forces used chemical weapons to kill 5,000 Kurdish people alone.

But Anderson doesn't see any need for such a trial.

"We don't need to parade him around," he said. "What good is (former Serbian leader Slobodan) Milosevic on trial. ... It's a circus. What in the end does it prove?"

Uh, it would prove we could bring a dictator to justice? Instead of just shooting him? Soft power, guys, soft power!

Color those greenbacks yellow (for bananas) 

Tresy's $200 banknote (back) is way a propos.

Floyd Norris of the Times writes:

There were demonstrations around the world against the war.

But guess who was financing it? The world was. Figures released this week showed that private foreign citizens bought an unprecedented $129 billion in United States government and agency securities. Official accounts, mostly central banks, added $43 billion more.

All told, foreigners bought almost 80 percent of the net increase in Treasury and agency debt during the quarter. They now own 38 percent of outstanding Treasuries, more than double the figure of a decade ago.

We need that capital because of the huge current account deficit this country is running. That deficit — largely reflecting the trade deficit — went above 5 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter for the first time in history. The second-quarter number, when it is released Monday, is likely to be about the same.

It's a nice situation while it lasts. We get cheap imports, which hold down inflation and enable consumers to buy more. The flood of foreign money helps to keep interest rates low while supporting the dollar. The war can be financed relatively cheaply at those low rates.

But borrowers may eventually need to pay attention to the views of the lenders. It would not be fun if foreigners began to invest the way they talk.

Or until they figure out that the US is turning into a fiscal Banana Republic.

The Wecovery 

Edmund Andrews of the Times writes:

The American economy finally seems poised to roar ahead at rates not seen since the late 1990's, but economists and some political analysts say the surge may not help President Bush's re-election campaign next year.

A wide range of data suggests that the economy will probably grow at an annual rate of nearly 5 percent in the final months of this year and nearly 4 percent next year — rates that would normally be spectacular news for an incumbent president.

But in a disparity with no real parallels in the last half-century, most economists predict that unemployment will remain almost unchanged at nearly 6 percent through the elections in November 2004.

Personally, I think the disparity—since we know how these people operate now—comes from the fact that the books for a "booming economy" can be cooked, but payroll data can't.

Bloomberg should just give the money back 

Bloomberg should just give the Booblicans their money back, and ask them to hold their Convention elsewhere, since they are no longer welcome in Manhattan—after poisoning its population with the "chemical factory" from 9/11.

If he doesn't do it now, New Yorkers will find more vivid and compelling ways to tell them they're not welcome later, so it would be best for all concerned simply to bite the bullet.

Friday, September 12, 2003

When (Canadian) Conservatives Attack 

I just love it when those lovable Canadians try to descend to our level. According to a Tory Party press release, Toronto Liberal Party politician Darryl McGinty is "an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet." This apparently in response to accusations of incompetence by the Liberals.

Tory Party leader Ernie Eves acknowledged that the insult was "over the top."

Over the top? That was a love tap.

How They Plan to Pay Down the Deficit 

Story here. The funniest aspect (or saddest, depending on point of view) is that this appears to be a pro-Bush effort. You just can't satirize Moron-America anymore.

You'll Feel So Good, And Even Better In The Morning 

FCC ALERT: Total Rollback Of New Powell Rules Now Possible!

Here's where we are: Sens Kerry, Dorgan, Hollings & Lott have introduced a "Resolution of Disapproval," (known for some unknown reasons as a "CRA" ), that would roll back pretty much everything that Michael Powell and his two Republican cohorts thought they were achieving with their rewriting of the rules governing media concentration.

The CRA is a rarely used vehicle but it has the advantage of bypassing both a filibuster and Billy Tauzon's ability to hold up action in the House. The President could still veto to protect some of the biggest corporate interests extant, to which we say, "Make our Day, Mr. President." For a more complete discussion, see http://www.mediareform.net/

There's a time limit by which a CRA has to be voted on by the full Senate and it's coming up. MoveOn has generated more than 217,000 phone calls to the Congress since this last Monday.

Here's what you can do.

First, call your two Senators and your Representative, even if you don't think they're sympathetic. If you have difficulty getting through, call the local office; every member of Congress has their own web page with all of their telephone numbers. (Bookmark this site, if you haven't already)

Be polite, be specific, mention you are a constituent, try and talk to pertinent staff member, but if you can't get any further than the receptionist, treat her/him as that person has the congressperson's ear (and who knows?) and voice your fervent support for a yes vote on the Resolution of Disapproval on the new FCC rules. If you're dealing with a Republican, use the words that strike fear into Republican hearts - big media, big business, big contributors, too much Corporate influence.

2. Call several other members of House and Senate; they'll all be voting. You might want to focus on Republicans; most of the Democrats are fairly locked in. If you have concerned friends who might want to get in on this, divide up the task - you call five members who don't represent you, friend calls five different congresspersons no their own, etc., etc., etc., to the thirteenth power.

Act For Change has good advice on contacting congress, but the site referenced above, http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/, often referred to as Juan's, but not to be confused with Juan.com has the easiest way to find telephone numbers for specific members of Congress.

Phone calls work; they've already worked on this issue. Go!

Republican tactics 101: bait and switch 

Yes, the war too.

First Krugman, then Dionne nail Bush on the bait and switch. (back). Now Molly Ivins (via Tresy, back) takes the gloves off:

The biggest bait-and-switch move of this whole administration has been to substitute Saddam Hussein for Osama bin Ladin. Iraq had nothing to do with the acts of terrorism perpetrated against the United States. The real villains, both Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are now regrouping in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, while we're stuck in the quicksand in Iraq.

Read the whole thing. It's pleasantly shrill.

Bush to UN: "Please don't kill me!" 

Since, as Krugman (back ) points out, the Bush gang is now operating out of fear, not greed....


President Bush plans to address the upcoming meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, the White House announced Friday.
This year, the United States is pushing for a new U.N. resolution authorizing a multinational military force to help with the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

Again, I just don't get how the Bush gang thinks diplomacy works. Step One: Piss all over them. Step Two: Demand their help...

Maybe Bush should start out his speech with "This time, I'm not lying...."

Changing the Tone 

The doggedly sweet but droll Molly Ivins is apparently fed up:
Great, anybody who opposed this war in the first place was accused of lack of patriotism, and now anybody who points out that it's not going well is guilty of defeatism. If you raise your hand and ask where the weapons of mass destruction we were told were the reason for this war are, you're instructed to just Get Over It.

Well, I ain't gonna take it anymore. I am not shutting up for Bill O'Reilly or anyone else. I opposed our unprovoked, unnecessary invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it would be a short, easy war followed by the peace from hell. I predicted every terrorist in the Middle East would be drawn to Iraq like a magnet. I was right, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

Good. I've been waiting for Molly to get in touch with her inner Barbara ("It rhymes with 'rich'") Bush and drop her folksy, can't-we-all-just-get-along tone. (She was on the infamous BookFair panel with Franken and O'Reilly where she appeared somehwhat ashen at Al's attack.) Nice just doesn't cut it with these people.

At least Molly doesn't have to apologize for supporting Whistle Ass's PNAC folly in Iraq, unlike pundit William Saletan, who hastens to make clear that he never supported Bush for the reasons stated by Bush, which he says he knew were lies, but simply because the U.N. wouldn't take action. As a justification for supporting a stupid policy, this makes John Kerry's explanation look positively airtight. I bet Saletan wished he'd thought harder about the answer to the question he posed in the Spring, when he advised, "Give [Bush] the gun": Whom do you trust? Bush or the United Nations?

Dean to be Gored 

Howie the Whore starts the ball rolling. Surprise!

For Goring, see here, and here.

September 12 

Appropriate today, I think: http://september12.org. Give it a look!

Johnny Cash 


The Wecovery 

The WSJ forecast (in a ridiculous popup) here:

Unemployment is expected to hold steady through year end and edge lower early next year. Payrolls are expected to grow over the next 12 months.

So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? Hey, where's that Jobs Czar? Just asking....

Top 10 reasons not to hate George Bush 

In the interest of restoring civility to political discourse in the US, we've developed the Top 10 Reasons not to Hate George Bush. Here they are.

But #1 is proving unexpectedly difficult.

Can readers help?

10. He can wear an earpiece with the best of 'em.
9. He can wear a codpiece with the best of 'em.
8. He pronounces "nuclear" like a regular guy.
7. No issues with dogs.
6. He doesn't have pasty white thighs.
5. He only turns vicious when cornered.
4. He restored honor and dignity to the oval office.
3. You can watch with the sound turned down.
2. George Bush omorashi!
1. ______________________________________

My thought has been "#1: One word: Xanax" ... But maybe that just isn't civil enough...

Booblicans to nation: "No more Mr. Nice Guys!" 

Krugman here:

Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it's driven by fear. ...

In the first months after 9/11, the administration's ruthless exploitation of the [9/11] atrocity was a choice, not a necessity. The natural instinct of the nation to rally around its leader in times of crisis had pushed Mr. Bush into the polling stratosphere, and his re-election seemed secure. He could have governed as the uniter he claimed to be, and would probably still be wildly popular.

But Mr. Bush's advisers were greedy; they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to get everything they wanted, from another round of tax cuts, to a major weakening of the Clean Air Act, to an invasion of Iraq. And so they wrapped as much as they could in the flag.

Now it has all gone wrong. The deficit is about to go above half a trillion dollars, the economy is still losing jobs, the triumph in Iraq has turned to dust and ashes, and Mr. Bush's poll numbers are at or below their pre-9/11 levels.

Nor can the members of this administration simply lose like gentlemen. For one thing, that's not how they operate. Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals - involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence - that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost.

The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history. Four months ago it seemed that the 2004 campaign would be all slow-mo films of Mr. Bush in his flight suit. But at this point, it's likely to be pictures of Howard Dean or Wesley Clark that morph into Saddam Hussein. And Donald Rumsfeld has already rolled out the stab-in-the-back argument: if you criticize the administration, you're lending aid and comfort to the enemy.

This political ugliness will take its toll on policy, too. The administration's infallibility complex - its inability to admit ever making a mistake - will get even worse. And I disagree with those who think the administration can claim infallibility even while practicing policy flexibility: on major issues, such as taxes or Iraq, any sensible policy would too obviously be an implicit admission that previous policies had failed.

In other words, if you thought the last two years were bad, just wait: it's about to get worse. A lot worse.

Guess we're on track with this concept of "liberal invective"... Maybe I should put whistle-ass in the lexicon after all...

People, get ready...

SCO vs. Linux 

Given that it's important to have operating systems and programs that are not corporatist, this is interesting.

Begging for help 

No, not the war—the economy! From AP:

"The No. 1 issue facing the global economy is the need for more engines of growth." Treasury Secretary John Snow, as he prepares for next week's meeting of finance ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of Eight nations in the Middle East.

Right. "Drive that jobs message."

Still, I guess I'm missing something. I just don't understand the Bush approach to diplomacy. It seems to have three steps. Step One: Piss all over them. Step Two: Demand their help, since it's in their interest. Step Three: Actually get help.

Snow is in Step Two mode here. But the Bush gang seems to have trouble getting to Step Three. I wonder why?

Annals of shamelessness 

Deb Reichmann of AP reports the words of Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan:

"The president will personally express his gratitude to the troops of the 3rd Infantry for the sacrifices that they have made in defending freedom in Afghanistan and, more recently, Iraq," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday. "The 3rd Infantry led the coalition offenses to liberate the people of Iraq, and they helped to begin the work of rebuilding Iraq."

Funny, that's not what they said at the time...

It's one thing to lie your way into a war, as Bush did.

It's another thing to pin a medal on a guy who lost his leg because of your lies, as Bush will.

It's quite another thing to pin a medal on a guy who lost his leg because of your lies, and then repeat the lie, as Bush will.



Winning hearts and minds...

Patrick Quinn of the AP writes:

U.S. soldiers mistakenly opened fire on a group of Iraqi policemen chasing bandits Friday, killing eight Iraqis and wounding seven others, witnesses said. It was the deadliest friendly fire incident since the end of major fighting.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a firefight during a raid earlier Friday in the town of Ramadi, 30 miles west of Fallujah, the military said.

The Fallujah region has been one of the most dangerous for U.S. soldiers, with support for Saddam Hussein running strong in the area.

"Bandits", eh? Not guerillas?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Wecovery 


"I ask that you please be attentive to driving a jobs message more than ever before," added Pryce, fourth-ranking in the GOP leadership as head of the Republican Conference. "I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to communicate that job creation is our top priority."


All hat and no cattle...

20 questions on 9/11 

William Bunch in the mainstream Philadelphia Daily News writes:

1. What did National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tell President Bush about al Qaeda threats against the United States in a still-secret briefing on Aug. 6, 2001?

2. Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?

3. Who made a small fortune "shorting" airline and insurance stocks before Sept. 11

4. Are all 19 people identified by the government as participants in the Sept. 11 attacks really the hijackers?

5. Did any of the hijackers smuggle guns on board as reported in calls from both Flight 11 and Flight 93?

6. Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?

7. Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?

8. How did Flight 93 crash in western Pennsylvania?

9. Was Zacarias Moussaoui really "the 20th hijacker"?

10. Where are the planes' "black boxes"?

11. Why were Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials so quick to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks?

12.Why did 7 World Trade Center collapse?

13. Why did the Bush administration lie about dangerously high levels of toxins and hazardous particles after the WTC collapse?

14. Where is Dick Cheney's undisclosed location?

15. What happened to the more than $1 billion that Americans donated after the attack?

16. What was the role of Pakistan's spy agency in the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl?

17. Who killed five Americans with anthrax?

18. What happened to the probe into C-4 explosives found in a Philadelphia bus terminal in fall 2001?

19. What is in the 28 blacked-out pages of the congressional Sept. 11 report?

20. Where is Osama bin Laden?

But one thing we do know: We need to give the administration more power, and more money. What could be simpler?

Two beacons of sanity 

The Onion, of course:

WASHINGTON, DC—In light of recent budget concerns, President and Mrs. Bush attempted to take out a third mortgage on the White House Monday, but were denied. "Unfortunately, we're unable to serve the president's needs at this time," Washington Mutual loan officer Judy Schamanski told reporters. "Within the next 30 days, Mr. Bush will receive an adverse-action notice in the mail, which will outline the specific reasons for the denial. But, for starters, I would suggest that he get current on his second mortgage before he even considers a third." Schamanski added that Bush is more than welcome to reapply in the future, should his credit profile improve.

Then again, humor is one thing, and analysis is another. Paul Krugman, of course:

How, then, can the government pay for Medicare and Medicaid — which didn't exist in the 1950's — and Social Security, which will become far more expensive as the population ages? (Defense spending has fallen compared with the economy, but not that much, and it's on the rise again.)

The answer is that it can't. The government can borrow to make up the difference as long as investors remain in denial, unable to believe that the world's only superpower is turning into a banana republic. But at some point bond markets will balk — they won't lend money to a government, even that of the United States, if that government's debt is growing faster than its revenues and there is no plausible story about how the budget will eventually come under control.

At that point, either taxes will go up again, or programs that have become fundamental to the American way of life will be gutted. We can be sure that the right will do whatever it takes to preserve the Bush tax cuts — right now the administration is even skimping on homeland security to save a few dollars here and there. But balancing the books without tax increases will require deep cuts where the money is: that is, in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

The Booblicans can handle money, alright... Right out of your pocket into theirs.

The Shorter George Bush 

From the remarkable "riverbend" at Baghdad Burning. She refers to it as an "abridged" edition of the President's speech last Sunday night, which she was able to watch on TV in Baghdad:

“Friends, Americans, Countrymen, lend me your ears… lend me your sons and daughters, lend me your tax dollars… so we can wage war in the name of American national security (people worldwide are willing to die for it)… so I can cover up my incompetence in failing to protect you… so I can add to the Bush and Cheney family coffers at your expense and the expense of the Iraqi people. I don’t know what I’m doing, but if you spend enough money, you’ll want to believe that I do."

Pretty damn good, huh? Like she was reading our minds, right?

"river," (which is how she signs her posts) does a longer "fisking" on the President's text, despite the difficulty she had watching the broadcast in more than snippets. This young woman, like, apparantly millions around the world, doesn't like our Dubya.

I listened for as long as I could tolerate his inane features and grating voice, then turned off the television. Then turned it back on. Then turned the channel. Then turned it back. Then almost threw a cushion at the screen. Then thought better and decided he wasn’t worth it. Is it possible that someone like that is practically running the world? Is it possible he might see another term in the White House? God forbid…

From her lips to....our iron determination to do whatever it takes consistent with demoracy not to let that happen.

In every post, an illuminating specificity is brought to bear on how this occupation is felt by Iraqis on the ground. Riverbend doesn't speak for all Iraqis of course, but she has a writer's eye for what the connections are between words and actualities, events and the people they happen to. In this post she connects Bush's enumeration of the number or "raids" carried out around the world with the tragic results for one Iraqi family of a "raid" carried out by coalition forces, no doubt, for the most defensible of reasons.

From supporters of the Bush doctrine at work in Iraq we often hear the question, well, what's your answer, and even harsh critics of the occupation are quick to state they're not talking about any kind of immediate withdrawal of US troops. Riverbend doesn't shrink from answering the question of what needs to get done, and soon:

Everyone is asking, ‘What should be done?’. Pull out the American troops. Take them home. Bring in UN peace-keeping troops under the Security Council- not led by America.

Let real Iraqis be involved in governing Iraq. Let Iraqis who actually have *families* living in Iraq be involved in governing their country. Let Iraqis who have something to lose govern the country. They aren’t being given a chance. As long as any Iraqi isn’t affiliated with one of the political groups on the Governing Council, no one bothers to listen.

We have thousands of competent, intelligent, innovative people who are eager to move forward but it’s impossible under these circumstances. There’s no security, there’s no work and there’s no incentive. AND THERE’S NO ONE WHO WILL LISTEN.

Why won't they listen? Why isn't this a welcome message?

One reason the Bush gang doesn't get it 

Robert Wright has an interesting think-piece on soft power in the Times here:

Paradoxically, the increasing volatility of intense discontent puts Americans in a more nonzero-sum relationship with the world's discontented peoples. If, for example, unhappy Muslims overseas grow more unhappy and resentful, that's good for Osama bin Laden and hence bad for America. If they grow more secure and satisfied, that's good for America. This is history's drift: technology correlating the fortunes of ever-more-distant people, enmeshing humanity in a web of shared fate.

The architects of America's national security policy at once grasp this crosscultural interdependence and don't. They see that prosperous and free Muslim nations are good for America. But they don't see that the very logic behind this goal counsels against pursuing it crudely, with primary reliance on force and intimidation. They don't appreciate how easily, amid modern technology, resentment and hatred metastasize. Witness their planning for postwar Iraq, with spectacular inattention to keeping Iraqis safe, content and well informed.

Nor do they seem aware, as they focus tightly on state sponsors of terrorism, that technology lets terrorists operate with less and less state support. Anarchic states — like the ones that may now be emerging in Iraq and Afghanistan — could soon be as big a problem as hostile states.

Of course, the use of soft power does't provide a lot of photo ops...

So, do you feel safer under the Bush administration? 

Howard Kurtz—of all people; this is a media story?!—of WaPo writes:

ABC News says it has exposed a crucial weakness in the nation's port security system by shipping depleted uranium from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Los Angeles. Federal officials say the network seems to have committed a crime.

Heck, LA is in a Blue State. Fuck 'em.

And while we're at it, let's send the FBI after the network and the staffers.

How about a moment of silence for the Constitution? 


UPDATE: Alert reader hadenough lists the following sites for protests during the Booblican National Convention in NYC (talk about shameless!);


It would be nice if the organizers would recognize that, electorally, the country is balanced on a knife edge... A repeat of the 1968 Chicago Convention wouldn't play to well, I feel.

Rummy supports lettre de cachet 

The lettre de cachet was the power that the kings of pre-revolutionary France had, to hold citizens indefinitely, without trial, on the word of the king (in our case, George I).

Stephen Mcdonough of the AP writes:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says most suspected terrorists at a U.S. prison camp in Cuba will probably be detained for the course of the global war on terrorism rather than face trial.

And since the global war on terrorism is an endless war (particularly the way these guys are fighting it), these prisoners will be held indefinitely.

Oh, but don't worry—this will only happen to "bad guys."

And if you want to know who the bad guys are, just ask the Republicans. They'll be more than happy to tell you.

Berlusconi: Mussolini only sent Jews "on vacations" 

Tom Rachman of AP here:

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was quoted Thursday as saying that Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini never killed anyone and only sent people away on vacations in internal exile, a claim that distressed Jewish leaders.

Berlusconi's party was quick to say that the quotation had not been confirmed. The newspaper that published the comments said they were as close as possible to those transcribed from a tape-recorded interview.

Reminds me of the people "rehabilitating" Joe McCarthy in this country....

Revisionist history, anyone?

The Wecovery 

"Wecovery" as in weak...

"Wecovery" as in "Whaddaya mean, we?"

"Wecovery" as in "W-style recovery."

Anna Willard of Reuters writes:

WASHINGTON - Americans are finding it unexpectedly tough to hold onto their jobs but other areas of the economy are showing signs of a pickup, two government reports out on Thursday showed.

The number of U.S. workers lining up to claim first-time unemployment benefits showed a surprise increase last week, the Labor Department said, adding to a dismal labor market picture.

"It's surprisingly bad news," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service.

Anna? John? Some of us weren't surprised...

UPDATE: Alert reader Rob Salkowitz adds "wee-covery," as in, really, really tiny. Yep!

RIAA Amnesty deceptive business practice? 

Roy Mark of Internet News writes:

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which filed 261 civil lawsuits earlier this week against alleged online music pirates, became a litigation target itself after a Novato, Calif., man slapped an injunctive action against the music trade group claiming its "clean slate" amnesty program is a deceptive business practice. ...
Eric Parke, a 37-year-old mortgage broker, says in a lawsuit filed in Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael that the amnesty offer is "hollow and deceptive" and provides "no real legally binding assurance" that those who sign the amnesty offer will not be sued at some later date by copyright owners.

Of course, if the bottom-line-driven corporate pap the RIAA is defending was any good...

Gotta get rid of that Blogger banner 

I accidentally clicked on it, and what did I get?

An "IRAQ & HEROES PLAYING CARDS"—love the all caps, it's so refreshing—with a grinning aWol himself as the ace of spades.


The Wecovery 

New jobless claims figures out

Date: Sep 11
ET: 08:30
Release: Initial Claims
For: 09/06
Actual: 422K
Briefing.com: 395K
Consensus: 400K
Prior: 419K
Revised From: 413K

So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? Not only have claims gone up, they've gone up more than the consensus forecasts.

MoDo losing her patience 

Maureen Dowd of the Times writes:

I've actually gotten to the point where I hope Dick Cheney is embroiled in a Clancyesque conspiracy to benefit Halliburton. Because if it's not a conspiracy, it's naïveté and ideology. And that means our leaders have used goofball logic and lousy assumptions to trap the country in a cockeyed replay of the Crusades that could drain our treasury and strain our military for generations, without making us any safer from terrorists and maybe putting us more at risk.

It's a dessert topping! It's a floorwax! 

9/11 for aWol, that is.

He'll use 9/11 to try to justify anything.

Mike Allen of WaPo writes:

In the past six weeks, Bush has cited "9/11" or Sept. 11, 2001, in arguing for his energy policy and in response to questions about campaign fundraising, tax cuts, unemployment, the deficit, airport security, Afghanistan and the length, cost and death toll of the Iraq occupation.

Krugman is right:

The general modus operandi of the Bushies is that they don't make policies to deal with problems. They use problems to justify things they wanted to do anyway.

Oops, they did it again 

Robert Burns of the AP writes writes>:

Just days after the United States began pushing for a new U.N. resolution authorizing a multinational military force for Iraq, senior administration officials are seeking to lower expectations that large offers of foreign troops will be forthcoming.

No surprise. The Bush recipe for getting help seemed to be: Step (1) Piss all over them... And I never did figure out how they thought they were going to get to Step (2).

Clark in? 

Ron Fournier of the AP.

POST 911 

Winged Demon - Blowtorch of Mass Destruction - Metamorphosis - Resurrection.

Doc. Rummy takes a big swill a corn fire and sets down his pint and draws his blowtorch, lights it up and begins a waving it round the bunkhouse like a fourth-a-July sparkler. There was also a fella they called "Perley Boy" there too and he opened up a cupboard and commenced to launching cans a beans at the winged demon that was by now diving at the cascade of electrical sparks and Doc. Rummy's propane deployment. Then it happened. One of Perley Boys bean can missles went awry and knocked the propane torch clean out of Doc. Rummy's grasp. The darn torch went a skitterin' and a clankin' across the floor knockin over Doc. Rummy's pint of shine on the way and come to rest right next to Paulie Jug-Ears tinder box full of tip-fiddle rearrangements and trail-maps to the promised land. The whole mix of volatile stratergeries and homespun went up like a refinery, ignitin' the blankets and beds and the checkered curtains and the Hubris Bat which was now trailin fly-paper and swirling around the room like a burning campfire ember caught up in a dust devil. I heard that Colin Powers fella at this point tellin Ms Condi on the phone that sure as shootin' gunslingers in Dodge there is batshit all over this place down here and he'd collected a few samples for prospectin' sake, and then he just slammed down the phone and he grabbed up his batshit soiled saddle bag and his batshit splattered hat and walked out the door and sat down on a old upside down bucket to stew in his own batshit for a spell.

Ms Condi was a high tailin' it down through the yard toward the bunkhouse imbroglio at this point, flappin' her arms and making quite a noisy racket as she came all the while shouting about how no one could ever have imagined that a tipsy rogue Hubris Bat in a Circle W bunkhouse could result in such calamities and any such misunderestimations of such calamitous possibilities would be due to some sort of misunderstanding of the importance of snake oil and moonshine on the part of naysayers and those who seek to undermine the rebuilding of burnt-up bunkhouses in general. Yup it was quite a stir but that ain't the end of it. Nope, not by a longhorn.

The rest a them boys came stampedin' out of that bunkouse like a nest a wasps smoked outta a rotten hole in a old hickory. First one scampered out was the boss hisself and the others followed right behind. Paulie Jug-Ears comes out a shriekin' and a wailin' and a waving Uncle Karl's smoldering socks over his head like Uncle Karl had just been scalped by a buggy fulla' Kansas Yankees and that Tom Delay feller come a skitterin' out on all six legs and scurried off to the fringes to cool out under a big damp sack of corn pone. Ever one of 'em made a break for it, one after the other, even Barney, who'd locked on to Uncle Dicks knickers and was dragged snarlin' and thrashin' to salvation while Uncle Dick whupped on him with his fish-pole. Ever one of 'em boys 'cept Uncle Karl. They'd forgot to snatch the rest of Uncle Karl from the fray and it looked to be too late to save him or mount any kind of he-roic rescue on account of the rapidly ripening holocaust.

Well, as you might imagine it was all pretty much bedlam what with all the smoke and heat and yellin' and Perely Boy all flustered over the bean can misfire incident and G.W. swattin and cussin' and accusin Barney of all sorts a disloyalties and subversions and species warfare and other disobiedient qualities and behaviors while Uncle Dick took to lookin' real pale and clutchin' at his chest like a Southern Baptist Conventioneer at a can can dance and the twins was a rollin around drunk in the underbrush with some of them PMC fellers from the DynaCorp crop duster crew and Doc. Rummy was a babbling away about unknowns and unforseens and known unforseen unknowables and spilled swamp root and other such convoluted ditherings and what have yous and what have you nots when suddenly there was a big crackle and a moan and another big crackle and the roof of that batshit blinkered Silver Spoon Circle W-SS Ranch bunkhouse started to give way altogether.

Everyone just hushed up and became quiet at that point and turned to watch as the roof gave way to the rapidly advancin' pyrolysis. And sure nuff....as that roof commenced to cave and the flames shot up into the darkness that darned bat came a flyin' out of the smoke and the simmer and the pother screechin' sumpin' awful-like a crazy woman at hangin', wings flappin and trailin a burnin' flypaper streamer and writing a trail of sulfurous black doom in the big Texas night sky like a bottle rocket dispatched from the abyss. Yup, that critter went a whirlin' up up up into the sooty firmament and blazed off into the darkness like a dying lone star comet. And just as everyone was watchin' the dying comet from the abyss careen off into the west the roof caved in and the walls of the Circle W bunkhouse folded and sparks and smoke and exploding cans of beans went splatterin' up after it. And low and behold when the final can of cluster beans had delivered its scalding sticky payload and the flames collapsed onto themselves and the ash and sparks and sizzle began to recede there was Uncle Karl just a standing right there in the center of it all, lookin' a sickly translucent yellowish color like a great big boot blister about to pop! Yup, a scorched phoenix amid the glowing coals and spent aluminum bean cans, leering back at the whole gawking rubberneck Silver Spoon outfit like a bone picker eye-ballin a pretty girls party dress. And a set of oily jet black wings fanned out from between his shoulders and two piked protrusions poked from either side of his forehead and Saint Elmo's fire danced around the cornuted bone like atomic halos circling two little moons and Uncle Karl stood there gurgling bile like Old Nick hisself. A half-broiled Belial arch-angel hellborn of an archetype and resurrected from the relics of some terrible charred attic, returned to lead his batshit battered colony into the promised land.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Summing it up 

One of many Krugman gems:

The general modus operandi of the Bushies is that they don't make policies to deal with problems. They use problems to justify things they wanted to do anyway.


If there is a God, thank her for making Krugman.

I'll never say anything bad about Tom Friedman again, I swear 

From the Buzzflash interview with Paul Krugman;

BUZZFLASH: Many of our readers don't realize that you are an economics professor at Princeton. How did you come to write a column for The New York Times op-ed page?

KRUGMAN: Well, they just called me out of the blue. Actually it was Tom Friedman who acted as intermediary, because I'd met him.

Read the whole thing.

Booblicans and the rule of law 

As usual, the rules they apply to others don't apply to them. Jerry Markon of WaPo writes:

The Justice Department today for a second time defied the federal judge overseeing the case of accused terror conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, saying it would not comply with her order to turn over two top al Qaeda detainees for interviews by Moussaoui and his legal team.

Don't these guys see that a reputation for a functioning system of justice is a good thing to for te US to have?

Japanese view of Bush demand for help 

From Asahi Shimbun here:

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will likely greet U.S. President George W. Bush with open arms next month-but the wallet may be closed.

The Japanese government has yet to define its strategy on Iraq. Even the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces to the country-the topic of fierce debate-is up in the air because of instability in Iraq.

Equally unclear is financial assistance. The government, financially strapped itself, has not compiled an estimate on how much it is willing-or able-to contribute, according to a government source.

And an editorial here:

Often, when we actually see a person we usually see only on television, that person strikes us as unexpectedly small. The White House struck me the same way when I saw it in the U.S. capital for the first time.

The small White House has sent out massive ``bills.''

The mess in Iraq has fundamentally resulted from the Bush administration's pursuit of unilateralism.

In his farewell address, George Washington, the first American president, said, ``Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. ... Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded.''

Washington's farewell address holds out eternal lessons to be learned by all leaders.

Oh well. At least the Poles are with us...

Heaving Rummy over the side 

Helena Cobban of the Christian Science Monitorwrites of one step Bush could take to get the UN and the Europeans to pull our chestnuts out of the Iraqi fire:

Let's be frank. Many key members of the UN Security Council would find it hard to lend their troops, the UN's name, and the enormous legitimacy that the UN enjoys around the world to a venture headed by Rumsfeld, a man who has gratuitously denigrated many friendly countries in public.

It would be easier to reach the needed agreement if Rumsfeld were no longer secretary of Defense. But there are other reasons, too, that Bush should consider letting Rumsfeld go. It was, after all, his decisionmaking at key points in the past two years that led the US into the present mess in Iraq.

Silly! The Bush regime believes accountability is for other people.

of course, it's interesting to see opinions like this surfacing in the mainstream media. Then again, job one is to get those guys outta there, so maybe it's best to leave Rummy twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. Anyone else think Rummy's smile is getting even goonier than usual?

Iraqi reconstruction, mafia capitalists, and the bait and switch 

Trudy Rubin of my own Inky writes:

Reconstruction must be treated like a strategic campaign, not a pork barrel for Republican buddies. Contracts should be awarded to whoever can turn the lights on, or stand up a phone network, whether they are local Iraqis, or gulf Arabs, or Europeans or Turks.

And ideological experiments should be curbed in a situation where they can reap disaster. Example: The administration wants to privatize state-owned Iraqi firms as soon as possible, with the exception of oil. But the only people with enough money to buy them are Saddam cronies who got rich off sanctions-busting. Such projects will only increase unemployment and anger at the occupation, while creating a Russian-style class of mafia capitalists.

And while we're on the subject of reconstruction funding, Bush still hasn't leveled with Americans about the cost. Republican officials say the real price of reconstruction will be $75 billion (apart from military costs), of which $42 billion is supposed to come from our allies.

As they used to say in the 1970s, is somebody smoking weed?

To sell the allies and the American public on such a massive project, the President has to tell them what went wrong - and how he'll change it. For starters, why did Bush officials lull the public into believing that occupation would be cheap?

Trudy, it was a bait and switch operation, and that the invasion would be cheap was part of the bait.

And it seems to me that the Bush gang would be entirely comfortable with creating a class of mafia capitalists—people just like themselves.

Bush administration and the ICC 

Marjorie Cohn of FindLaw via CNN>:

Even after the recent, tragic attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the United States was not willing to unreservedly support a U.N. Security Council resolution to help protect U.N. and other humanitarian workers. Instead, the U.S. greenlighted the resolution only when its reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was deleted.

The situation couldn't be clearer: Despite its vast power, the United States feels trapped. Because its invasion of Iraq violated the U.N. Charter and defied the Security Council, it opened itself to a potential war crimes prosecution. Now, to avoid such a prosecution, it is forced to lose allies or potential allies -- such as the 35 countries it abandoned and alienated -- and to delay or impede important goals such as protecting peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, the U.S.'s own soldiers are in danger, dying every day in Iraq, and the U.S.'s past decision to flout the U.N., and invade in the first place, is doubtless harming its ability to protect even its own. It needs U.N. help for political cover, even though it threatened the U.N. with "irrelevance" before the war.

Interesting to see material like this in the mainstream media. It's yet another indication that the pre-war debate was short-circuited, and that the Democrats who voted for the war have a lot to answer for.

From The Annals Of Shamelessness 

Lack of shame; an inability to feel shame, or be shamed by any aspect of your own behavior. Pause for a moment, dear reader, and try and remember when keeping track of that lamentable characteristic, as it manifested itself in the political life of the nation, was a major concern of the SCLM.

Yes, the Clinton years, because who has ever been as shameless as either and both Clintons. As far back as the first Clinton inauguration in Jan of '93, the mere presence of the Clintons in Washington, in the White House, attending a presidential inaugural, struck Sally Quinn, our Balzac-manque (tres manque), as somehow shameless; the fact that Bill Clinton had won a presidential election just didn't cut it, not for our gal, Sal.

Even out of office, the Clintons have continued to provide our SCLM with telling examples of shamelessness, none more shameless than the sheer fact that either and both Clintons continue to play any sort of role in the public life of the nation.

Quite naturally, with a new, downright, upright, right right Republican administration came fewer discussions of shamelessness. Recently, Howard Fineman did manage to find a non-Clinton example during a discussion on Hardball of the shift in the Bush Iraq policy toward internationalization:

MATTHEWS: Well, what about avoiding what happened in Somalia, Howard? If we put a big U.N. force of Pakistanis and Turks and Indians in there, and a bunch of our guys get pinned down in some small town and they’re not there to help them, what happens then?

FINEMAN: Well, that’s why the Pentagon and, I think, the president want to keep military matters under the control of the United States command and the control of the coalition forces. That’s the problem that they’ve got. We want complete military control, and indeed all the Iraqis are going to continue to look to us for security while we try to turn over nonmilitary matters, civilian matters and such and reconstruction projects to the U.N.

It’s a very difficult sell. George Bush gave a great speech to the U.N. last year. He didn’t count on the fact that the U.N. can’t be shamed into doing anything, and he’s going to have to go back and give another great speech. But, I’m afraid it’s not going to shame them into helping this time either.

MATTHEWS: You know what? I think like in every other enterprise there needs to be a boss. It’s either the U.N. or us, and I think- Howard, am I right?


Here at "corrente," we found this use of "can't be shamed," too confusing to be persuasive; for instance, "the UN" meaning what? The member countries, the staff, the building, Kofi Annan? And how does Fineman know the President wasn't actually counting on UN shamelessness to insure his ability to act unilaterally, especially in view of the aggressively insulting tone he took in his speech last year?

To fill what we perceive to be this "Shamelessness Recognition Gap," the "corrente" Quartet propose, in a feature that may, and then again, may not become a regular one, to identify the most shameless moment of the previous week. E-mailed future nominations from readers are welcomed.

Picking just one such moment from last week has been no easy task. Not surprisingly, for the first week of September which brings with it this President's now traditional return to the Capital from his August vacation in Texas, and with him, annoucements of changes in policy as not changes, and restatements of unchanged policies as evidence of the bold pro-active engagement of the President in an on-going problem that ain't getting better.

Last year, the major not-really-a-change policy shift was vis a vis the UN's role in the Bush Iraq policy, and this year, it was also vis a vis the UN's role in the Bush Iraq policy; this year, as last year, the same old same old policy presented as a bold, pro-active engagement of the administration with a worsening national problem was the economic "Wecovery," (thank-you Lambert), both areas rich in shameless possibilities, and the Bush administration did not disappoint.

The President had several outstanding such moments. Careful to lay blame on the Clinton recession, and claim credit for its shallowness, the President proclaimed the economy was improving, and lauded his adminstrations strenuous concern for each and every American, especially those looking for a job.

"Had we not taken action, this economy would have been in a deeper recession," Mr. Bush said. "It would have been longer, and as many as 1.5 million Americans who went to work this morning would have been out of a job."

To back up Mr. Bush's assertion, White House officials cited a Treasury Department analysis but provided no details.

In the face of the loss of 2.6 million manufacturing jobs under the Bush watch, the Presidents's "bold" assertions were impressively shameless.

We are happy to report a noticeable lack of shameless pandering in the press coverage of the White House's " the President does too care about jobs" PR campaign, and offer this example.

And speaking of the SCLM, George Will did have a strong early entry with his harangue, prompted by the car bombing in Najif, on the August 31st edition of ABC's This Week with young George S.

‘Iraq Is Not a Real Nation’

ABCNEWS' George Will called the bombing proof that, "Iraq is not a real nation, shouldn't be a nation. Yugoslavia wasn't a nation, and we found that out as soon as the tyranny that held it together was loosened. The Soviet Union wasn't a nation, [and] we found that out as soon as it flew apart, given a chance. Iraq is in the process of flying apart.

"Ask yourselves this," Will added, " 'Is there a majority in Iraq that the rest of Iraq would consent to be governed by?' "


George Will said retreat is not an option: "What we learned is that the vacuum of what we now call the failed state is something that nature abhors, and into [which] flows al Qaeda and the rest. We are not going to leave. … but we have to understand that all of our vocabulary of democracy simply does not fit this when there is no majority that a minority will consent to be governed by."

It's all the fault of Iraqis, you see, who just aren't ready for nationhood. Or democracy. Now he tells us. Since it was too early to know who the perpetrators were, why is Mr. Will so anxious to assume it's a sign of tribalism, except to exempt himself and the Bush administration from accusations of a policy failure. And what event was it that turned Iraqi into a failed state? Pretty damn shameless.

When we ran across this CNN interview with Paul Wolfowitz from last Friday, we thought, "this is it, it just don't get more shameless than this.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Thursday the Bush administration has been pushing for months for a new U.N. resolution to internationalize the force in Iraq, but it took the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad to change the "atmosphere in New York."


Seeking a new U.N. resolution, he said, "didn't sort of emerge out of nowhere a few days ago."

"It's been on our agenda ever since the fall of Baghdad," Wolfowitz said.

He described last month's deadly bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad as a "breakthrough -- a sad one" -- in bringing the international community aboard.


"Things change. You exploit opportunities, you deal with surprises."

I'll say. And thereby explain away policy failures, too.

Awed though we were, we should have realized that with the Secretary of Defense on tour in Iraq, checking out his own handiwork, we had a situation rife with shameless possiibilities, and indeed, our award for the most shameless moment of the week was grabbed, at the very last moment, by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. And no, it wasn't the moment when our Secretary of Defense "lashed out" at Iraqi critics of our inability as occupiers to provide minimal security and order.

"Instead of pointing fingers at the security forces of the coalition, ... it's important for the Iraqi people to step up and provide information," Rumsfeld said at a news conference.

Here is the moment that surpassed any other last week:

Earlier, Rumsfeld visited a mass grave site and a Saddam Hussein execution chamber, paying grim homage to atrocities of the deposed Iraqi president's rule.

Rumsfeld stood atop a mound of powdery dirt overlooking the graves of about 900 people summarily executed during a Shiite Muslim uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. They were the unidentified among more than 3,000 massacre victims unearthed in Al Hillah, a 1,000-year-old city near the site of ancient Babylon, shortly after American forces moved through last spring on the way to Baghdad.

Dr. Rafid al-Hussuni, a physician who lost two uncles and two close friends in the massacre, stood beside a somber Rumsfeld and explained his efforts to safeguard mass graves around the country.

Al-Hussuni was involved in the Al Hillah exhumations and started a volunteer group to counsel patience among Iraqis desperate to open the mass graves to find the remains of loved ones. Hasty and haphazard searches could destroy evidence in possible criminal prosecution of those responsible.

"If you can arrest all those people and put them on trial, the hearts of the Iraqi people will be satisfied," said al-Hussuni, who still has not found the remains of his uncles or his friends.

It was a good thing for Mr. Rumsfeld to go to such a site, and to a notorious Baathist prison, even if it was only a pro forma gesture. What made it shameful was the appalling pretense, echoed in the statements, gestures and actions of everyone in this administration, that America had no role in making it possible for Saddam to put down the Shiite rebellion with massacres such as this one, and no role in keeping the light of public awareness from shinning on the grotesque depredations of human rights which made his rule possible. Nor was our passivity at the end of the Gulf War, with an army and a navy right on the scene, prompted by our promise to our allies not to go to Baghdad. We didn't have to go to Baghdad to stop Saddam's massacres. We had only to do what we later did in the North, to stop his transfer of Kurd's from their homes into the mountains. We didn't because of fears that Iraq would break apart.

That Saddam Hussein was once "our SOB," does not mean that we could never have challenged him in good conscience. Nor does it mean that we wish Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq. But the recklessness of the particular challenge chosen by this administration and the chaos it has brought to Iraq was also a function of its shamelessness.

Please notice, too, the pro-active role of this Iraqi physician, almost as if he was ready for both nationhood and democracy.

You can check out Human Rights Watch to read more on the issue of mass graves, the coalition response to the issue of securing them, and what kind of tribunal could give Iraqis the kind of justice that would be accepted by the rest of the world here, and here, and here.

The Great Unravelling 

Krugman gets a good review in the New Yorker here:

The Great Unraveling is, in part, an attempt to explain how the federal government has been transformed into a political-action committee for the well-to-do. Instead of dealing with the problems facing the country, Krugman thinks, Administration officials and lawmakers spend most of their time trying to divide the spoils among their wealthy backers. "American politics has become highly polarized," he writes. "The center did not hold. Underlying that political polarization is the growing inequality of income. The result is a form of class warfare" driven not by attempts of the poor to soak the rich, but by the efforts of an economic elite to expand its privileges."

Film at 11...

Da bomb 

Walter Rodgers of CNN writes:

What the Iraqis do is they set off these roadside bombs, homemade explosive devices, remotely detonated beside the road. They know the routes that the U.S. patrols are going to take, and when the U.S. patrols go by, they detonate it. And they've been doing a fair amount of these attacks, at least a dozen a day, so many sometimes that they don't even get reported

Seems a strange standard for reporting, eh?

Booblican Undead Seek the Seats of the Living 

Texas, again .. They just keep coming back don't they?

What about Kenny Boy? 

Kristen Hays of AP via The Miami Herald here.

A former Enron Corp. treasurer pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal conspiracy charge and became the first executive sentenced to prison in the scandal that toppled the energy company.

Winger talk radio as "entertainment" 

Tim Rutton of the LA Times writes:

An unnamed "senior advisor" to Schwarzenegger's campaign conceded to the New York Times on Tuesday that "Arnold's" reliance on friendly talk show hosts has alienated many women.

That doesn't surprise media scholar Martin Kaplan, who directs the Norman Lear Center at USC's Annenberg School of Communications. He suggests that "the anthropology of talk radio explains its predominately male audience. After all, when you listen to one of these shows, it's all about screaming and chest thumping — sort of like what you see in those studies of the great apes. Think of the host as the silverback: He screams and thumps his chest, and the listeners call in to emulate him.

"That's not a mating call," Kaplan says wryly, "it's a macho dominance game."

The Rush mating call... Eeeeew... Let's just leave things as they are, OK?


Car bomb hits US intelligence headquarters in Irbil, Iraq.

Republican tactics 101: Bait and switch 

Not the war, too... Yes, the war.

It's now clear that the Iraq war was the mother of all bait-and-switch operations. Mr. Bush and his officials portrayed the invasion of Iraq as an urgent response to an imminent threat, and used war fever to win the midterm election. Then they insisted that the costs of occupation and reconstruction would be minimal, and used the initial glow of battlefield victory to push through yet another round of irresponsible tax cuts.


Was this just a big bait-and-switch operation? First persuade Americans to fight the war by minimizing the costs. Then, once we're there, argue that we can't cut and run and demand $87 billion in new spending, and who knows how much more later.

Let's remember that the administration is on the record as predicting the opposite of the long struggle in Iraq that was the theme of Bush's Sunday speech. On March 24 an administration spokesman justified the request for more than $70 billion to cover the costs of the war for the next six months with the prediction of "a period of stabilization in Iraq, and the phased withdrawal of a large number of American forces within that six-month window." Oops.

The same official spokesman said that there was still hope of "substantial international participation in the stabilization and the reconstruction of Iraq."

That was wrong too

And the cost of the switch? Atrios.

The Other 9/11 

Instead of wallowing once again in our own "lost innocence" tomorrow, we might shed a tear or two for another country's citizens, whose lives were also forever altered on that fateful day, only 28 years earlier.

September 11 1973 was a day of terror and bloodshed in Chile. After months of rising tension, army troops stormed the presidential palace, leaving President Salvador Allende dead and thousands prisoners throughout this previously democratic nation.

Now, on the 30th anniversary of the coup, professors, journalists and citizen activists around the world are continuing to expose the full role of the US government in financing and promoting this bloody coup, which ushered in the 17-year military dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet.
The top secret documents accumulatively detail the crude workings of Washington during the Cold War. "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup," reads a CIA document from October 1970. "It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [US government] and American hand be well hidden."

Two days after this document was written, top CIA officials proposed a terrorist campaign to stun the Chilean people into accepting a military regime.

"Concur giving tear gas cannisters and gas masks ... working on obtaining machine guns," reads a CIA memo dated October 18 1970.

Read the whole thing.

And consider that under the Bush Doctrine, Chile had every right to attack the United States.

Proverbs for Paranoids, 2: The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master. --Gravity's Rainbow

Missing the Point 

Sometimes you wait and wait for them to get it, and when they finally act like they get it, they still don't get it. Case in point: the NYT's "Presidential Character."

The NYT's central indictment of Bush is that he consistently refuses to risk political capital in pursuit of his policies. The op-ed cites the underfunding of his No Child Left Behind package, faith-based charities, his AIDS initiative, and the soft-pedaled cost of occupying Iraq as prime examples of this alleged fecklessness. As a result, implies the Times, "Most of the Bush domestic agenda is a sad deflated version of its earlier incarnation."

Oh really? The Times' editors apparently aren't reading their own star columnist. This editorial's train of thought violates Krugman's first rule of reporting: "Don't assume that policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals."

Apparently the Times still buys into the idea that this Administration cares about its stated "compassion" agenda. News flash, guys: They don't, except insofar as they are useful cover for advancing its revolutionary agenda of crippling government's ability to advance the general welfare and projecting hegemonic U.S. power abroad. On the former front we are staring at a massive redistribution of wealth up the income ladder, the dismantling of Social Security, the wrecking of Medicare/Medicaid, erosion of the wall between church and state, and the neutering of all environmental and workplace regulations. On the latter, well, the Pentagon is now staring at an infusion of $87B. How bad can that be? War is the health of the state, as Randolph Bourne first pointed out nearly 100 years ago.

If this is a "sad, deflated version" of the Bush agenda, I'd hate to see the happy, inflated one.

The fact is, contra the Times, Bush has demanded sacrifice of the voters in the pursuit of his agenda, in the form of insecure jobs, higher long-term interest rates, rationed health care, a poisoned environment, an unhappy old age, and increased vulnerability to terrorist attack. He just hasn't informed them of those sacrifices.

And as long as the dimwits in the press continue missing the point, he won't have to.

Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers. --Gravity's Rainbow


Part 2 of the continuing saga of the Rancho BushCo Circle SS Silver Spoon Gang.

Where was I? Oh yeah....that Big Hubris Bat was feedin' on Uncle Karl and that woke up GW who was a hootin' and a yellin' and all manner a hell was comin' unleashed.
See: Part 1

Uncle Dick, that train robber fella with the crooked smile, near jumped outta his long-johns and was-a-flailin' all about all wild like and swingin' a graphite fly rod at the rafters where that big angry bat, which had givin up gnawin' on Uncle Karl was a flapping around in the strips of flypaper and a squawkin' and a squeakn' and generally pretty much making a big noisy fuss. Then Barney the little dog come a runnin' out from under a bed and commences running around the strategery table yappin' and yelpin' and snappin' at Uncle Dicks heels. That jug-eared fella they called Paulie Jug-Ears was slid over to Uncle Karl by then and was pullin' on Uncle Karls boots to try to wake him up while at the same time trying to keep low to the floor because of that crazy bat and Uncle Dicks fishin pole harassments and interdiction efforts. That Tom Delay local fella was there too. He'd been invited to sleep over with the boys and was now hoppin' around the room like a big flea with a silver wash basin on his head and a can of oven cleaner in one hand while trumpetin' dire warnins' of Kingdom Come and black fiends and messengers of the final days and other such bombastic hooplah, all the while dispatchin' poisonous oven cleaner emissions all over the earthly place like it was a aerosol can of caustic press releases. That Tom feller was, as they say, somewhat touched. If ya know what I mean. I seen that Colin Powers fella too...sittin' in a corner hollerin' at a telephone...trying to get through to Ms. Condi up at the big house to ask her bout some bat-shit he found in his own bunk. Ms Condi and Ms Karen and Ms Laura was up at the main house and were set to study that Antique Roadshow program on the TV. That was that free comminus TV channel show that was very popular back in them days so they weren't interested in hearin' 'bout any bat-shit in the bunkhouse what with Bolshevik nick-nack speculators running rough-shod over the antique nick-nack marketplace and all.

I didn't see that Don Rumsfeld feller right then. Apparently Rummy, "Doc. Rummy" they called him, had run off to fetch some moonshine over at Grover's Grove at some unforetold hangdog location before all the foretold foregone excitment even first started or didn't, who can say, and I don't know when he left but he soon came a scamperin' back with a shotgun under one arm and one of those handy propane blowtorches on his hip and a pint of swamp root tucked in his right-side coat pocket. Doc. Rummy, not one to waste time with overly elaborate prognostications, summed up the situation right quick and immediately loosed a barrage of demonstrative deterrence into the rafters and blew out all the bunkhouse overhead lights which threw out all kinds of sparks and set the wiring to popping and fizzling and generally compoundin' problems even further, all the while jawin' about whats good for what ails ya and pre-emptive actions and surgical strike capabilities and other healin' and pacification measures. Doc. Rummy, squinty eyed and grinning the whole while like one of them chatterin' halloween skulls that they used to sell in party favor mail order catalogs back then. Looked like a Chinese New year in that bunkhouse it did.

Now what needs to be pointed out here and wasn't known about till much later is like this. Doc. Rummy and Ms Condi and the other boys, including the boss hisself, even Uncle Karl, had been feeding that Hubris Bat moonshine and snake oil for quite some time leadin' up to the summer of 2003. Thats right. Sure enough that fuzzy swaggering Hubris Bat was in so many respects the Circle-SS outfits own sinister creation got to big for its own bunkhouse britches and gone AWOL from the usual chow time agenda. All that medication would of course explain the general all round fuzziness and swaggerin', but what none of em expected was for that bat to take up a natural hungerin' for Uncle Karl's precious bodily fluids. Ya see, that Hubris Bat looked down at Uncle Karl just layin' there in his bunk as a kind of natural occurin' in-house source of nourishment. Uncle Karl, just a layin' right there in his top bunk all pulpy and bloated, distillin' his own potent mash of white lightnin'. Yes sir, that old bat had simply got tired of waitin' for Doc. Rummy to return with the fix and instead had tapped into Uncle Karl for a early summer evenin' eye-popper.

So what I'm gettin' at here is this: that in a manner of speakin', that fuzzy swaggerin' Hubris Bat had simply done what Hubris Bats naturally do, he'd come on home to feast.

[end of Part 2: Next - Paulie Jug-Ears and the tinder box full of tip-fiddle tunes.]

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

More Iraq Bumper Stickers 

Our loyal readers do not disappoint. Here's a fine assortment from MJS:
"Dead Child Onboard"

"Just Tell Me Who to Hate"

"So This is What Jesus Would Do!"

"Brother, Can You Spare $87 Billion and Counting?"

"Is That a Gusher in Your Pants or are You Just Happy to See Me?"

"Killing Me Softly for Bechtel"

Bring 'em on, guys...


How about we pitch in to get our troops in Iraq those cutesy license plate holders for their Humvees? You know, the ones that read "We're spending our children's inheritance"?


What I did on George W. Bush's summer vacation 89 years ago.

Via The American Memory Loss Project: Sept. 05, 2092.
"The Big Bunkhouse Bat Attack and Bean Fire" - by Calvin S. Countryman.

PART 1: The Big Swagger and a Big Bug up the Pant Leg.

I recount this story to the best of my memory. It was a long time back and I was young then but I can remember pretty much every one of the details of that night like it was last week. See, I was pretty much just a green-horn GOP cow puncher in them days and had just come back from a voter drive in Austin. Country was leavin' footprints all over New Mesopotamia at the time, and a hell of a mess-o-pot-o-mania that was. Big shoot-em-up in what they called I-Racky back in them days, and so I took up workin' with the Silver Spoon Circle-W Ranch boys in Crawford. The Circle-W SS they called it at the time. It was part of that President George W. Bush family spread there in Crawford back then and I'd done some private military security wranglin' and campaign staff ropin' mostly so they asked me to hire on. Keep an eye on things, that sort of work. Mostly pretty simple chores....check some fences here and there, beverage runs for the twins, help drive a few hundred golf balls out Midland way, but mostly keepin' an eye on some of the older fellas from getting lost in a gullywash or tangled up in the big old tire swing down by the crick. Had to wrassle one old timer Evangelist out of some motel room out near Hillsboro when he run off to shack up for the weekend with a couple of the local real estate gals. Little stuff like that. But I never have forgot the night of the The Big Bunkhouse Bat Attack and Bean-fire Conflagration for as long as I've lived, thats for sure.

I was keepin a look-out over at the golf-cart stable that night and things was pretty quiet. The boss and the big boys were mostly gone off to the bunkhouse for the night because they'd had a big day inseminatin' media cows, corrallin' campaign donors and stage-coachin' photo-ops in front of a bulldozer earlier that mornin' and were pretty much in need of some shut-eye. By the boss and the big boys I mean G.W. hisself and Uncle Dick and that Karl Rove fella and all those other boys who used to hang around the Silver Spoon in those days, and up there in DC too.

How all the trouble started was something like this. The boss and the boys had turned in early for the night and were countin' "snowflakes" when G.W. woke from his deep snooze and noticed that some critter was hunched over that Karl Rove fella. At first G.W. thought it was that little dog he always carted around with him. Barney, that was the little dogs name as I recall... anyways, G.W. thinks Barney is over there lickin' and chewin' on Mr. Karl's ear or sumpin', but then he wised up a tad and wondered how Barney got up top the bunk and he got real scared because he looked at Uncle Karl more closely there in the top bunk right next to him and seen that Uncle Karl was just-a-layin' there all pale and ghostlike with big ugly reddish purple lips and layin' there all kinda just bloodless-like. Layin' there glowing like some kind of translucent steamed fish. The boss started in to hootin' like a crazy barn owl because a big fuzzy swaggering Hubris Bat was sucking on Uncle Karl's jugular like a fancy-lady on a fatcat Pioneer campaign donor. And it was a BIG bat too! Biggest bat I ever seen this side of McCarthy! One a them giant Hubris Bats that always followed the Circle SS boys around when they was workin'. When the big chill of summer 2003 set the country to a shiverin' that swaggerin' Hubris Bat headed straight for the Mockingbird state right ahead of the boys who got outta Washington DC fast as a card cheatin' backdoor Bible salesman, just like they all was told Jesus was a seen skippin' across Lake Waco with a inside line on a horse race. Anyways, I heard the ruckus and came a running and what I saw when I got there was like this: G.W., he was a yellin' and hollerin' about evil-doers and French devils and godless gov'mint entitlement thievin' savages and lookin' pretty confounded and his eyes looked like two little jaundiced pea-stones stuck out on their stems and he was a holdin' his hands over his ears while jumpin' up and down next to his bunk like a man with a bug up his pant-leg! Yup. Jumpin' up and down next to his bunk! Thats how I will always remember that GW feller. A man hootin' and a yellin' and jumpin' up and down next to his own rickety bunk like a preacher with a bug up his god-dern pant leg.

[end of part 1- to be continued.]

Talk amongst yourselves... 

I'm on the road tomorrow, uh, later today.

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #4 

George Bush omorashi!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Rules of the Game 

Rumsfeld's First Rule: Actions of U.S. government don't encourage terrorism. Only actions of U.S. government critics do.

Rumsfeld's Second Rule: When the terrorists appear strong, they are actually weak. When we appear weak, we're actually strong.

To be continued...

The Bitter Tears of Donald von Rumsfeldt 

Reuters via WaPp:

"Terrorists studied...instances when the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in, and persuaded themselves that they could in fact cause us to acquiesce in whatever it is they wanted to do," he said. "The United States is not going to do that, President (George W.) Bush is not going to do that."

Critics are traitors, blah blah blah...

Actually, the interesting thing about Rumfeld's statement is that it assumes that our war of choice in Iraq has something to do with terrorism other than causing more of it. Iraq had nothing to do with AQ, as the 9/11 report pointed out.

I like the concept of an evidence-based foreign policy (as opposed to a faith-based one). Say, Don, found those WMDs yet?

The Widening Gyre 

It's become something of a press meme lately to point out the credibility problem most of the leading Democratic contenders have when criticizing Bush over an Iraq policy that they themselves voted for. True enough, and they deserve all the criticism they are getting. But what about the press itself? Where was the press in the run-up to catastrophe? Taking handouts from the White House, that's where, uncritically printing anything and everything uttered by the most brazen liars ever to occupy it. Are we likely to hear a mea culpa from the Fourth Estate? Only if we demand it.

For at least a decade now there has been an ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the system of checks and balances that is supposed to ensure that the ship of state does not go on the rocks. Democrats have been selling out their constituencies for campaign cash, the Left has been trafficking in its own fantasies of "moral clarity" by indulging in infantile tantrums, and even decent conservatives have opted for their short-term political survival by remaining silent as their own movement is hijacked by people who make a mockery of every value that honest conservatives espouse.

But politicians are expected to be venal and self-serving if given the chance. Above and beyond their nonfeasance and misfeasance, aiding and abetting it, has been the press, which with the occasional honorable exception, spent much the last decade watching, with cynical indifference at best, and amusement at worst, the apparatus of democracy being repeatedly attacked, often in broad daylight, until, in November 2000, the last, perhaps fatal blow fell. (Like tens of thousands of others, I was in D.C. on Inauguration Day to bear witness to the crime, but we could have been the proverbial tree falling in the forest for all the coverage the celebrity press gave this unprecedented event.)

When you let thugs stab the beating heart of democracy, you can hardly affect surprise when things later don't go so well.

The culmination of this is the present unfolding catastrophe, which required the moral connivance, in one way or another, of nearly every sector of civil society. There is going to be no easy exit. When the smoke clears and we finally survey the wreckage left by the vandals who visited this on us, there needs to be reckoning, not just for the participants, but for those who stood by and said nothing. This will be, I fear but also hope, our Kitty Genovese moment.

We must not let it happen again.

Moral clarity 

Re: Bush asking the rest of the world for money and troops after pissing all over them:

"Moral clarity" is always so easy when someone else is paying the bill, isn't it?

And that's aWol's little psychodrama: someone else always pays the bill (Arbusto, Harken). Sigh...

Now that Bush has wussed out on the UN, how about wussing out on tax cuts for the rich? 

Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to say "wussed out." I meant to say "made a mid-course correction." Ronald Brownstein of the LA Times writes:

Next year, the federal government is projected to take in revenue equal to just 16.2% of the economy. That's the lowest level since 1959 — long before Medicare, Medicaid and large-scale federal aid to schools, much less a massive obligation to strengthen homeland defenses and rebuild Iraq.

Surely it wouldn't be easy for Bush to acknowledge that his tax-cut agenda has left Washington without the funds to meet his other goals. But could it really be more difficult than rattling the tin cup for Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder?

"Rattling the tin cup"—that's pretty good!

Finally a Democrat with brass ones 

AP via KESQ:

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is accusing President Bush of manipulating terrorism fears while seeking support for occupation in Iraq.
Dean spoke on N-B-C's 'Today' show, in response to the president's national address last night.

Dean says Bush deliberately left a false impression that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September Eleventh attacks -- and that terrorists had been operating out of Iraq. According to Dean, there is no evidence proving either.

What the SCLM don't understand is that Dean is not the "anti-war" candidate at all. What people (not just Democratic activists) are hungry for is someone, anyone, to stand up to this administration.

Dean does that. He's not a McGovern, certainly not a Eugene McCarthy. If anything, in his centrism, his occasional abrasiveness, and the way he "talks sense to the American people," he's a Truman.

Booblican whining reaches new heights 

From the Washington Times, this just in:

"I think history will show that this field has taken presidential discourse to a new low," Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The kind of words we're hearing now from the Democratic candidates go beyond political debate — this is political hate speech," he said

But Ed! I've now to #5 on the top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, so what's with the "hate speech" thing?

Translation: We're getting to them. Keep it up!

New Yorkers not convinced by "flypaper" theory 


Two-thirds of New Yorkers are more concerned now about another terrorist attack in New York City than they were on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a poll has found.

Heck, New York is a Blue State. Fuck 'em.

Lies coming home to roost 


Questions about other key issues also remained.

In his speech, Bush avoided the failure to find weapons of mass destruction or to determine the whereabouts of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden.

The omissions left some foreign leaders unconvinced.

Reconstruction begins at home, and the first step is to raze the Bush adminisration to the ground. That's going to be the only way to restore our credibility with anyone.

Warren Zevon 


Heh heh 


Biden also said he supported Bush's call for spending $87 billion on military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, although he said the administration should consider deferring tax cuts to pay for it, instead of simply increasing the deficit.

"I think the American people are ready to sacrifice to win, and I think if we went back to the American people and said, 'Look, the very wealthiest among us, we're going to postpone your tax cut a year or two to pay for this,' I think they would embrace it," he said.

15 minutes of YABL, YABL, YABL ... 

When I wasn't banging my head on the table, I scribbled a few questions and notes.

From Bush's Address to the Nation here here:

by destroying the training camps of terror and removing the regime that harbored Al Qaeda.

Surely "a" training camp? "A" regime?
And we acted in Iraq, [a] where the former regime sponsored terror, [b] possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, and for [c] 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council.

[a] Not AQ, certainly. [b] Not after the inspections and sanctions, and not after 1991. [c] Higher marks for UN support, though!

Some of the attackers are former members of the old Saddam regime, who fled the battlefield and now fight in the shadows. Some of the attackers are foreign terrorists, who have come to Iraq to pursue their war on America and other free nations.

And others are simply indigenous Iraqis. Funny he never uses the word "guerrillas", which is the word the military uses.

Most, but not all, of these killers operate in one area of the country.

And 70% of the population lives in this "one area," right?

The attacks you have heard and read about in the last few weeks have occurred predominantly in the central region of Iraq, between Baghdad and Tikrit ....

Artful wording! The speechwriter writes "in the last few weeks," leaving it open whether that's when the attacks occurred (no) or when most people focused on them (probably)

Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war ... Iraq is now the central front.

But AQ and their ilk are decentralized, as are the guerillas in Iraq. How can there be a "front" in such a war?

Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there and there they must be defeated.

Like the Alamo?? The flypaper theory? What is he thinking?

First, we are taking direct action against the terrorists in the Iraqi theater, which is the surest way to prevent future attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqi people.

And the American people?

Since the end of major combat operations

Gotta love the guy... He just doens't give up, does he?

I recognize that not all our friends agreed with our decision to enforce the Security Council resolutions and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Yet we cannot let past differences interfere with present duties.

Translation: We really need the money and more bodies!

Later this month, Secretary Powell will meet with representatives of many nations to discuss their financial contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Next month, he will hold a similar funding conference for the reconstruction of Iraq. Europe, Japan and states in the Middle East all will benefit from the success of freedom in these two countries, and they should contribute to that success.

Yep, I got the translation right.

We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness.

Really? AQ attacked the Twin Towers because they thought we were weak? I don't think so. They thought we were evil, not weak.

Bottom line: If you don't understand the nature of a war, the nature of the enemy, or the ground on which the war is fought, the war is going to be very long. I don't think Bush understands any of these things. And—given the two years of experience we have with the Bush gang—I cannot imagine why anyone would trust them to get the numbers right, the planning right, or to keep their words to other countries or to the American people.

Posting dearth 

Mea culpa.... I've had some actual billable hours (making me an unlucky ducky, I guess, but maybe soon I can stop whining about the phone bill!)

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #5 

You can watch with the sound turned down.

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