Saturday, September 27, 2003

Payback is a bitch, isn't it? 

Gosh, the Bush administration really is a criminal enterprise...

Once again, the Rovelicans confirm that while they burble about the rule of law, they only mean it to apply to other people.

An unnamed reporter in The Times writes:

The C.I.A. has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether senior Bush administration officials broke the law by revealing the identity of an agency operative, a government official said today.

Revealing the identity of an agent is a felony, by the way...

The operative is the wife of a former envoy to Iraq, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who has publicly voiced skepticism about the Bush administration's policies on Iraq and on Iraq's reported weapons program.

After Mr. Wilson went public with his criticism, his wife was identified as a Central Intelligence Agency operative by the columnist Robert Novak, who attributed the information to senior administration officials.

Josh Marshall is all over, as is Atrios. Here is what Dean had to say:

"President Bush came into office promising to bring honor and integrity to the White House. Instead, the President took us to war on what appears to be false pretenses and is now using every means possible to obfuscate that fact. If the allegations are true, someone within this Administration has sought retribution against a former U.S. diplomat who sought only to bring truth to an otherwise murky situation by revealing the identity of his wife, an undercover analyst. This is a very serious charge. If it is true, they have gone way beyond petty retribution - they have undermined a key national security tenet and violated two federal laws.

Like butter!

Colorado: Where the Wal-Marts Grow 

Former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers wonders:

Let me make sure I understand this correctly: Here in Colorado, a state that largely deplores welfare, affordable housing assistance and other entitlement programs, the city of Denver wants to give $10 million in welfare benefits to Wal- Mart?

Why yes, of course - we must all help, SAVE the FAMILY RETAILER!

Foxy Pitch Doctors 

The fox was very sick and needed food so he wouldn't die.
So the sly fox convinced the hens to give him a portion of their nest eggs so he would be all better. The End.

Keeping in mind the Edison/Liberty Partners venture in Florida.
(See "Pigeon Drop" below)

William Greider, writing for the September 29 issue of the Nation, discusses the problem of financial service companies who invest clients money against those clients best interests. All too often when that client money belongs to a labor union pension fund.


Organized labor is widely disparaged as a weak and anachronistic force in American life, but, in one important matter, the labor movement is the vanguard: determined to reposition the capital that effectively belongs to working Americans to serve the true interests of those workers and, therefore, society's long-term interests too. Labor may be greatly weakened from its heyday, but one thing it possesses is capital assets--the power of the $400 billion in union-managed pension funds and the trillions in public-employee pension funds, where labor unions can exercise real influence over the patterns of investment.


Morgan Stanley, the "all-service" financial house, provided one of the most blatant examples of how Wall Street firms betray their clients from organized labor. Three Morgan Stanley analysts issued an advisory on investment strategy in November 2002 urging investors: "Look for the union label...and run the other way." Labor officials were not amused. Scores of union pension funds hire Morgan Stanley for investment advice and park huge sums in the firm's various investment funds. As the labor clients raised protests, Morgan Stanley changed its tune, drafting a pro-union declaration for the AFL's approval.

Beware of the fox that crows like a rooster.

The primary target for education and informed pressure, however, are the pension fund trustees, starting with the Taft-Hartley pension funds that are directly supervised by labor and management representatives. Until quite recently, most labor trustees have been as passive and conventional as their corporate counterparts. "The culture of the financial industry is intimidating," Blackwell explains. "The trustees are spirited off to conferences in Hawaii or wherever there's a golf course, and the fear of God is put into them on their fiduciary responsibility. On top of that, these trustees are workers. They don't have the time to become experts, or the technical and legal support to question the investing decisions. So we are providing that."

"The capital that belongs to working people should serve their purposes and values; right now it doesn't," - Ron Blackwell, head of the AFL-CIO's corporate affairs department

Read full article: The Soul of Capitalism | A transformation of Wall Street's core values is possible, using financial tools." By William Greider, The Nation Sept., 2003.

Blog Resource: Visit the Joe Kenahan Center for insight on labor issues.

The Arnis™ wusses out 

Refuses to debate Davis on Larry King.

The Pigeon Drop 

Jeb Bush's Boiler Room Bucket Shop Operation

A pigeon drop involves a con game in which a mark is convinced by con man #1 to turn over his own funds in order to secure a share of "found" money. The mark agrees to invest a portion of his own funds to secure the share of the "found" money. This security payment is paid to an "attorney" or "money manager" who will oversee a profitable return of a portion of the "found" money to the mark. The "money manager" is actually a second con artist who is complicit in the scam. The mark of course, after turning over his funds to the "money manager", receives an envelope full of worthless paper for his troubles. The "money manager" and accomplice vanish with the marks security down payment.

"So, you start a company to privatize education and take on the teachers unions. Your company fails miserably both in terms of the market and academic success. Then after you've hollowed the company out to cover your other bad debts friendly pols come along to bail you out with a couple hundred million from the teachers' (and other public employees') pension fund. I love symmetry." - Josh Marshall commenting on this Edison/Liberty Partners swindle.

For more on Liberty Partners and the buyout of Edison Schools Inc. see:

State fund buys school operator

Florida's state pension fund is investing $174-million in a controversial for-profit school management company.

Through one of its money managers, Liberty Partners, the pension fund has agreed to buy out the shareholders of Edison Schools Inc., taking the New York company private.

In effect, the fund that provides for the retirement pensions of Florida teachers and other public employees will own a company that has played a leading role in privatizing school management. - By Helen Huntley, Times Personal Finance Editor, Published September 25, 2003

Further details from:
The American Federation of Teachers

Additional comment and discussion via: Tom Spencer at HNN and Atrios at Eschaton.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The Blind Spot 

Jack Beatty gets it mostly right:

Bush's victory would testify to a civic failure more dangerous to the American future than any policies implemented or continued during a second Bush term. A majority would have demonstrated that democratic accountability is finished. That you can fail in everything and still be re-elected president.

You can preside over the most catastrophic failure of intelligence and national defense in history. Can fire no one associated with this fatal chain of blunders and bureaucratic buck-passing. Can oppose an inquest into September 11 for more than a year until pressure from the relatives of those killed on that day becomes politically toxic. Can name Henry Kissinger, that mortician of truth, to head the independent commission you finally accede to. You can start an unnecessary war that kills hundreds of Americans and as many as 7,000 Iraqi civilians—adjusted for the difference in population, the equivalent of 80,000 Americans. Can occupy Iraq without a plan to restore traffic lights, much less order. Can make American soldiers targets in a war of attrition conducted by snipers, assassins, and planters of remote-control bombs—and taunt the murderers of our young men to "bring it on." Can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nation building—and pass the bill to America's children. (Asked to consider rescinding your tax cut for the top one percent of taxpayers for one year in order to fund the $87 billion you requested from Congress to pay for the occupation of Iraq, your Vice President said no; that would slow growth.) You can lose more jobs than any other President since Hoover. You can cut cops and after-school programs and Pell Grants and housing allowances for the poor to give tax cuts to millionaires. You can wreck the nation's finances, running up the largest deficit in history. You can permit 17,000 power plants to increase their health-endangering pollution of the air. You can lower the prestige of the United States in every country of the world by your unilateral conduct of foreign policy and puerile "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric. Above all, you can lie the country into war and your lies can be exposed—and, if a majority prefers ignorance to civic responsibility, you can still be reelected.

Of course, this assumes the profession that Beatty works for bothers to apprise the voters of any of this. Seriously, everybody reading this knows most of this stuff, but we're as typical as that insectivore they found down in Cuba. Meanwhile the average American has forgotten more lies about Whitewater than he has ever even heard once from the press about most of the above. This election is their test, even more than the voters'. Frankly, I'm not optimistic.

When the Chinese put up an astronaut ... 

... in two or three weeks, will the Bush administration take the opportunity to spread fear?

I wonder....

Segway recall 

Damn. Too bad, since anything that points the way forward from the Age of the Automobile is good.

Let's You and Him Fight 

The real question in last night's dustup between Gephardt and Dean was whether Gephardt's charge that Dean "stood with Newt" on Medicare cuts was accurate, so of course the press stayed away from answering it in favor of thumbsucking about Dean's temper.

Luckily Liberal Oasis has a seemingly fair rundown of the evidence pro and con here. Whether you think Dean's 1995 Medicare remarks merit criticism, it's no violation of The Pledge to note that there has to be sanctions on a candidate who tries to personally slime another Dem by comparing him to the loathesome Gingrich. Overlooked in the thumbsucking about Dean's (rather restrained, in my opinion) "outburst" was that he carefully finished it by reminding his comrades of the need to fight the common enemy: Bush. More of that, please.

And yet more YABL, YABL, YABL ... 

What was Bush really doing on 9/11, asks Eric Alterman in the indispensable Nation:

Bush repeated the same story on January 5, 2002, stating, "First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake...."

This is false. Nobody saw the jetliner crash into the first tower on television until a videotape surfaced a day later.

But it's hardly "civil" to mention these things...

What's more, Bush's memory not only contradicts every media report of that morning, it also contradicts what he said on the day of the attack. In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush said, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." Again, this statement has never been satisfactorily explained. No one besides Bush has ever spoken of these "emergency plans," and the mere idea of their implementation is contradicted by Bush's claim that at the time, he believed the crash to have been a case of pilot error.

I guess the "emergency plans" were the "shadow government," which we don't talk about.

The panic motif runs through the rest of the President's actions that day.

George Bush omorashi!

Bush's aides later offered, and retracted, the excuse that he spent the day flying around the country because of threats to Air Force One believed to have been received at the White House. What nobody has ever explained is this: If you think Air Force One is to be attacked, why go up in Air Force One?

Sigh ....


You know, I think this "Bush is a liar" meme might be gaining some traction.

A little ammo from the Nation's David Corn...

If only there was some way to let people know the lies were coming, so they could get out of the way, or hunker down....

On to Syria! 

Because Saddam hid the WMDs in the Bekka Valley... Well, at least it's a plausible theory.... Though why hide them instead of use them, I don't know .... The fathomless subtlety of the Middle Eastern mind...

Say, is there a line item in the $87 billion for decommissioning/decontaminating WMDs? Didn't think so.

Lessons of science for Republicans 

Scientists successfully clone rat.

Maybe... For vice-president in 2004... Naaaah.

Today's Friday numbers: Poverty up, income down 

No shit, Sherlock! The US Census reports:

Poverty rose and income levels declined in 2002 for the second straight year as the nation's economy continued struggling after the first recession in a decade, the Census Bureau reported Friday.

The poverty rate was 12.1 percent last year, up from 11.7 percent in 2001. Nearly 34.6 million people lived in poverty, about 1.7 million more than the previous year.

Median household income declined 1.1 percent between 2001 and 2002 to $42,409, after accounting for inflation.

Even before the data was made public, House Democrats charged the Bush administration was trying to hide bad economic news by releasing the numbers on a Friday when people are paying more attention to the upcoming weekend. In previous years, the estimates were released on a Tuesday or Thursday.

Census Bureau spokesman Larry Neal said the time change wasn't politically motivated. It was originally scheduled to be released this past Tuesday, he said, but was moved to Friday because statisticians asked for more time to process the numbers.

"These are the official estimates of income and poverty in America and every debate on income and poverty for the next year will rehash them," Neal said. "The notion that we should, could or would suppress these numbers doesn't pass the laugh test."

You might not, Larry... And if the Laugh Test ... Oh, let's not even go there.

Lieberman calls Clark a closet Republican 


Talking Bill O'Reilly 

Today is talk like Bill "Me Later" O'Reilly ("later" being when the chickens come home to roost)... But it's really not easy

STRETHER: I want to talk like Bill O'Reilly!
O'REILLY: Shut up.
STRETHER: But how can I talk like you if I have to shut up?
O'REILLY: Shut up!
O'REILLY: Shut up. Shut up! Shut. Up.
Et cetera.

Actually, the Howler makes the point that O'Reilly isn't a 100% asshole 100% of the time. He is an Yvette Mimieux fan, after all.

Krugman: An encore presentation 

Paul Krugman is off doing a tour supporting his new book The Great Unravelling. So here is an excerpt from one of his past columns:

Another Friday outrage
Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis. Why on Friday? Because the settlements were a joke: the companies got away with only token payments. It was yet another demonstration of how electricity deregulation has gone wrong.

Most independent experts now believe that during 2000-2001, price manipulation by energy companies, mainly taking the form of "economic withholding" — keeping capacity offline to drive up prices — added billions of dollars to California's electricity bills. A March FERC report concluded that there had been extensive manipulation of prices in both the natural gas and electricity markets.

Using methods widely accepted among economists, the California Independent System Operator — which operates the power grid — estimated that withholding by electricity companies had cost the state $8.9 billion. This estimate doesn't include the continuing cost of long-term contracts the state signed, at inflated prices, to keep the lights on during the crisis.

Yet the charges energy companies agreed to added up to only a bit more than $1 million. That is, the average Californian was bilked of more than $250, but the state will receive compensation of about 3 cents.

Californians have a lot to thank the Friends of The Arnis for!

Say, is Kenny Boy still on the street, or is he in jail yet? Think being Bush's biggest campaign conributor has anything to do with that?

How stupid do they think we are? 

The Republicans are packaging together a bill to reduce asbestos litigation and class action lawsuits, and calling it a "jobs bill."

Maybe they should call it "A bill to protect Halliburton and Walmart," since a Halliburton is going into chapter 11 due to an asbestos litigation-encumbered subsidiary whose purchase Cheney masterminded, and Walmart is being sued for sex discrimination in a class action lawsuit this legislation would cripple.

Remember those drones? YABL 

Bradley Graham of WaPo writes:

Flipping through photographs of drone aircraft uncovered by U.S. search teams in Iraq, Robert S. Boyd, the Air Force's senior intelligence analyst, stopped at one showing the inside of a fuselage.

Two glass viewing ports could be seen at the bottom of the metal frame. Fastened above was a bracket, which Boyd said was likely for mounting "a camera or recorder of some sort." Also squeezed into the cramped space were the flight controls, leaving little room, Boyd noted, for much else -- certainly not anything capable of dispensing biological or chemical warfare agents.

One more Bush lie... But who's counting?

"A Correction" 

Mike Allen of WaPo writes"

Bush issued what amounted to a correction of another statement Cheney made on "Meet the Press." When asked about the possibility of a connection between former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Cheney said, "We don't know." Three days later, Bush said in response to a question that the government has no evidence of such a link.

George, you got some correctin' to do!

Seriously, it's good that the SCLM is starting to pick up on this stuff, even if this little factoid is buried in a story about Cheney's shady finances. And it's good for a wrong reason that turns out to be right:

The SCLM, being, as the Howler points out, lazy, likes to write stories that are "easy and fun". That's how they gored Gore. Too bad, but that's how it is.

Now, we know that goring Bush is really, really easy, and really, really fun. It's like shooting fish in a barrel! So why shouldn't the SCLM have the same wonderful experience? Perhaps we can show them the way...

Ha ha  

From the maladministration's budget demand:

$900 million to import petroleum products such as kerosene and diesel to a country with the world's second-largest oil reserves

Well, maybe not "ha ha." We laugh that we may not weep.

Our friends, the Pakistanis 

Graham Fraser of the Toronto Star writes:

Musharraf said there were four conditions under which he would send troops: when there is a request from the Iraqis, when he feels the troops would be welcome, when there are other Muslim troops participating in a multilateral force, and when there is a Security Council resolution authorizing such a force.

Well, that's DOA, isn't it?

Then again, Musharraf is only saying what every other country is saying; too bad the administrations brutal and deceptive approach to diplomacy has foreclosed this option. Oh well, what are a few more Reservist lives and limbs?

Works for me! 

From the Democratic debate via UPI:

Dean, who opposed the war, said he would vote -- if he was in Congress-- to give the administration the requested funds, but added that the $87 billion should come from the "excessive and extraordinary" tax cut that Bush "foisted upon us."

It's his war, and he's their boy. Let them pay. Those "average taxpayers," I mean.

Leaving the larger policy considerations aside. Personally, I think the first step toward a sensible Iraq policy is regime change at home, since the administration no longer has the required credibility to get the job done, here or abroad.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Even the dimmest bulb can shed a little light 

Tomposity opines:

When it comes to the political and economic sacrifices and strategies that are also required to fight this war successfully, [the Bushies] are cowardly wimps.

[BUSH THOUGHT BALLOON: Even — Friedman — is — connecting — the — dots — Mom — will — kill — me]

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." 

How come we never hear that from this administration? Just asking....

Dems call DéLay on his Orwellian Doublethink 

David Espo of AP writes:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "is in no position to question the patriotism" of President Bush's critics on Iraq, having once scathingly condemned President Clinton's military strategy in Bosnia, a Democratic leader said Thursday.

Rep. Steny Hoyer quoted DeLay as saying that the 1999 NATO-led bombing campaign was "President Clinton's war."

"It was ... as if DéLay has blocked out from his memory" what he and other Republican critics said about President Clinton's response to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in 1999, said Hoyer, the Maryland lawmaker who is the second-ranking Democratic leader in the House

What does he mean, "as if"? That's how these ideologues think. They literally do not retain the idea they once held. ("We have always been at war with Oceania.") Wonder if it's a consequence of NPD?

NOTE For "ideologue," Jassalasca Jape suggests:

Ideolator, n. One who prostrates his thinking before an ideology in the same way that an idolator kneels before a graven image.

See ya later, ideolater!

Powell lies on Iraq 


Reuters here:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell tried on Thursday to explain away remarks on Iraq dating back to the beginning of the Bush administration, before the United States decided to invade Iraq.

Speaking in Cairo in February 2001, on his first Middle East trip, Powell said that Iraq had not developed "any significant capacity" in weapons of mass destruction and was not able to attack his neighbors with conventional weapons

"He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place," he added.

Ah well... Let's try to imagine Colin singing the immortal words of Greg Allman: "That was then, this is now / Don't ask me to be Mr. Clean / 'Cause baby I don't know how."

Pass the popcorn!

Cheny lies on his finances 


AP here:

Cheney said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that since becoming vice president, "I've severed all my ties with [Halliburton], gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."

Democrats pointed out that Cheney receives deferred compensation from Halliburton under an arrangement he made in 1998, and also retains stock options. He has pledged to give after-tax proceeds of the stock options to charity.

Some winger foundation, no doubt.

[Senator Frank] Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked the Congressional Research Service to weigh in.

Without naming Cheney or Halliburton, the service reported that unexercised stock options and deferred salary "are among those benefits described by the Office of Government Ethics as 'retained ties' or 'linkages' to one's former employer."

Cheney was chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1995 through August 2000. The firm's KBR subsidiary is the main government contractor working to restore Iraq's oil industry in an open-ended contract that was awarded without competitive bidding.

And they really need the money, too, after the mess Cheney got them into by purchasing a subsidiary encumbered by asbestos litigation.

Not that it matters, anyhow, since I'm sure Pretzel Boy will heave Cheney over the side in 2004 in favor of some Bright Young Thing like Bill "Here kitty, kitty!" Frist.

Truer words... 

From Proconsul Bremer here:

"Well, there are lots of ironies in the situation in Iraq," Bremer said.

And you thought irony was dead after 9/11!

Arnold the man-slut 

MoDo swoons.

Oh, puh-leeze....

Edward Said: RIP 

Here's the NYTimes obit, written, interestingly, by Richard Bernstein, not merely because Bernstein is Jewish, but also because he's spent signifigant time and energy riding the anti-multicultural bandwagon. Bernstein does all right by Said; the obit is worth reading.

Professor Said died of leukemia, which he apparently found out about in 1991. He must have considered it a private struggle; no one I know knew of his illness before today. He was only 67.

Edward Said was a public intellectual in the best sense of both of those words. He was unrelenting in his concern for and outrage on behalf of the Palestinian people. It could be immensely upsetting to read Mr. Said, especially if you were Jewish liberal, like myself. It was always vital to do so.

He endured so much abuse at the hands of the gangs at Commentary and TNR, the worst being the accusation that he himself was a supporter of terrorism, to which Said's response was so unrelenting, so unbowed, it was sometimes too easy for those of us who wanted to believe in Oslo, in that picture of Rabin and Arafat, in Clinton's sheltering embrace, shaking hands, not to credit the profound strain of decency to be found even in Said's most angry and skeptical writings.

So let me credit it now; Edward Said was first, last and always, a humanist. His own rendering of the only viable solution for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict may seem impossibly idealistic, or, as some Israelis would no doubt view it, a clever ruse to destroy the essentially Jewish nature of the Israeli state, but in view of the horrors of the last three years, its fundamental humanism cannot be denied.

In the years after Oslo, he argued that separate Palestinian and Jewish states would always be unworkable and, while he recognized that emotions on both sides were against it, he advocated a single binational state as the best ultimate solution.

"I see no other way than to begin now to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, and sharing it in a truly democratic way, with equal rights for each citizen," he wrote in a 1999 essay in The New York Times. "There can be no reconciliation unless both peoples, two communities of suffering, resolve that their existence is a secular fact, and that it has to be dealt with as such."

Imagine the despair such a man must have felt over the years, to which he never gave in.

Nor should we.

The Wecovery 

As in W's Weak Recovery...

Amy Baldwin of AP writes:

The Commerce Department issued disappointing economic data showing demand for durable goods dropped by a sizable 0.9 percent in August, raising doubts about the manufacturing sector's delicate recovery. The decrease in new orders for durable goods, items including cars and home appliances expected to last at least three years, was the first and largest decline in four months and bigger than the 0.5 percent dip economists anticipated.

And for the lucky duckies:

new applications for jobless benefits fell last week by a seasonally adjusted 19,000 to 381,000, a seven-month low, the Labor Department said. But at least half of the decrease was attributable to workers not being able to file claims because of Hurricane Isabel, which hit the East Coast, a department analyst said.

Hail, the Conquering Heroes 

Excerpted from a signed email forwarded by a buddy in the National Guard:

Back here on Dogwood, tensions are running high as well. We have had three mortar attacks this week. Two have managed to land rounds within our little compound in one case injuring 3 soldiers and causing one to run panicking into some concertina wire injuring himself. So far non of my soldiers have been injured, but we are taking more precautions as a result of the recent attacks. One big change is all exterior lights in the compound are now kept off at night so as to prevent the enemy from using them as aiming point. Additionally, soldiers are keeping their body armor and helmets closer to them and we have practices getting everyone to the bunkers several times in the last few days. We are also looking at building sandbag walls around each tent, but that will take us a couple of weeks to complete as we have a lot of tents and soldiers.

Poor kids.

UN cuts staff in Iraq 

The Beeb. Well, since we can't protect them...

"Bush hating" 

Don't do it! We've got to be clinical about this. We need to learn from our enemies, and do what works. That's why language is important. And it's a DIY effort because the SCLM won't help us. Josh Marshall makes the good point that:

For quite some time this White House has functioned like a heavily leveraged business, an overextended investor that suddenly gets a margin call. To extend the business metaphor, the White House has been surviving not on profits but expectations of future profits or, in other words, credibility. The White House has been able to get the public to sit tight with a lot of objectively poor news (a poor economy, big deficits, bad news from abroad) on the basis of trust.

One of the things that we are doing here and many other places in the blogosphere is developing a language to show why trust in the Rovelicans is undeserved; in other words, to make the only real asset they have, credibility, depreciate as rapidly as possible.

So language that is fun to use, but doesn't depreciate Republican assets, should be discarded.

For example, calling Bush "stupid" or "chimpy" may feel good, but it's preaching to the choir, and doesn't work toward the goal of getting those guys outta there.

Calling Bush aWol, however, seems to work. More and more people have picked it up, and "aWol" has three nice features: (1) it subverts the "W" thing (which the Republicans aren't using anymore, have you noticed?); it (2) provides a teachable moment—we call him aWol because he was; which (3) goes to depreciate the Republican asset of being seen as strong on the military. Oh, and (4) it's short and sweet and will fit nicely on signs.

Of course, the Rovelicans would like to stigmatize this exercise in rhetorical research and development as "hate speech." It isn't. It's clinical.

But being clinical doesn't mean we can't have fun!

WMD embarassment 

Walter Pincus and Dana Priest of WaPo report:

A much-anticipated interim report by the Bush administration's chief weapons hunter in Iraq will offer no firm conclusions about the former Iraqi government's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, senior officials said yesterday.

The weapons inspector, David Kay, is expected to present his report to Congress late next week -- an event that senior U.S. officials had just weeks ago pointed to as providing a possible vindication for the administration's prewar claims that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and had restarted its efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

But officials yesterday sought to play down expectations that Kay's report will contain any major revelations. Kay, who is in Washington this week finishing the document, is "still gathering information from the field," the CIA's chief spokesman, Bill Harlow, said yesterday. "Don't expect any firm conclusions. He will not rule in or rule out anything." ...

Gosh, they haven't been able to find anything. Would could be more conclusive than that?

[THE BUSH THOUGHT BALLOON: Must—not—admit—mistake—Mom—will—kill—me...]

More recently, however, other officials, some of whom have spent time in Iraq, said the survey team had not gathered any substantial information, in part because the military members of Kay's group were threatening and arresting some Iraqi scientists and technicians who had in the past worked on weapons programs.

Yep, its the Bush Shorter Diplomacy again: Step 1, piss all over them, Step 2, demand their help.

Sigh... That's "WMD" for "Winger Meme Development" ....



A big explosion was heard Thursday in central Baghdad and smoke could be seen billowing from the scene.

It was the third known blast in the capital on a day that began with a bomb attack on the hotel where NBC-TV had operations. A Somali night watchman was killed

More dead-enders...

The shorter Bush diplomacy 

Step 1: Piss all over them. Step 2: Demand their help.

Hey, it used to work with the Democrats!

But it's not working now. AP's Barry Schweid reports:

A resolute speech and two days of personal diplomacy by President Bush are failing to soften resistance to his postwar strategy for Iraq, and a U.S. resolution designed to bring fresh peacekeeping troops and financial support remains stalemated.

Resistance from other nations is so stiff that Bush did not solicit contributions from the leaders of France, Germany, India and Pakistan and none were volunteered. Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the possibility of Turkish peacekeepers with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul - without getting a clear commitment.

Funny thing. Diplomacy and multilateralism would have saved American lives in Iraq. Now they figure it out. But since they're SOL, all they can do is play to the base and talk about evil and the sex trade. What a sorry spectacle!

What does Bush tell the reservists? What does he tell the kids?

Our friends, the Pakistanis 


Bush's failure to win a promise of fresh soldiers in meetings with the leaders of India and Pakistan -- aides said the president did not even ask --

Wow! Profiles in (Bush) courage!

What will he tell the reservists, let alone their kids?

Just because they're "adults" doesn't mean they aren't fuckups 

Rajiv Chandrasekaran of WaPo reports:

BAGHDAD -- When grease-stained technicians at the Baghdad South power plant needed spare parts recently, they first submitted a written request to Bechtel Corp., the engineering firm given more than $1 billion in U.S. government contracts to fix Iraq's decrepit infrastructure.

Then they went to the junkyard.

They scoured piles of industrial detritus for abandoned items that could be jury-rigged into the geriatric plant, such as the hydraulic pump from a bulldozer that was used to restart a broken water condenser.

"Of course we'd like new parts," sighed Ahmed Ali Shihab, the senior operations engineer. But he said repeated appeals to Bechtel and the U.S. military had not yielded any significant new equipment. "All we have received from them are promises," he said.

Now that sounds familiar! Maybe tax cuts would help?

Although U.S. officials said the requests for new parts were beyond the scope of Bechtel's contract, the failure to get much-needed equipment to Baghdad South more than five months after the first reconstruction teams arrived here illustrates the dearth of planning, funding and coordination that has fettered the overall American effort to rehabilitate Iraq.

This is the same deal as Proconsul Bremer not being able to get a working cell phone.

In fact, Iraq's decayed infrastructure is a result of the sanctions regime—the ideologues on Team Bush had faith that the sanctions weren't working, and therefore never bothered to do any intelligence work to get the facts on the ground.

Anyone know a really good abusive term for "ideologue"? I'm getting so tired of this faith-based neo-con crapola...

NOTE: Read the whole thing. It's got lots of good, vivid detail, which so much Iraq reportage lacks. It's really great to see "Washington Post Foreign Service" on a byline. More like that!

UPDATE: Farmer suggests "ideolackey." I like it...

The Arnis™ roundup 

So how did the master debater do?


Still, it would be difficult to say Schwarzenegger "won" the debate so much as survived it as the candidates frequently interrupted one another and strayed from the specific topic. Schwarzenegger did not have the grasp of state government as Bustamante and State Sen. Tom McClintock, nor did he display any more passion than independent Arianna Huffington and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo.

The other four candidates largely agreed that decisive action was needed to right the ship, but they challenged Schwarzenegger from both the right and the left in ways that made his views seem overly generalized and lacking an awareness about the perils of politics and navigating state government.


At the Revere House restaurant in Tustin, a largely conservative crowd booed when Huffington wisecracked about Schwarzenegger's treatment of women, then cheered when Schwarzenegger responded that he had the perfect part for her in "Terminator 4."


At times, the exchanges among the candidates were so sharp that the audience groaned or gasped. ... Throughout the debate, Schwarzenegger was directly and aggressively confronted for the first time by his opponents -- especially columnist Arianna Huffington ... When Schwarzenegger kept interrupting at another point in the debate, Huffington retorted: "This is the way you treat women, we know that. But not now."

LA Times:

As television reporters jammed the south lawn behind the Student Union for their 5 p.m. newscasts, dozens of red-faced Schlowarzenegger supporters chanting, "Yes on recall, yes on Arnold!" collided with a batch of anti-recall demonstrators who were countering with "No on recall!"

Red faced?! The San Francisco Chronicle has the transcript:

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... Remember one thing, in California we have a three-strike system. You guys put wool over the people's eyes twice, the third time now, you're out. On Oct. 7, you guys are out. It's that simple, OK?

Look out....

So, anyone see the debate?

Halliburton needs your help 

Won't you send some tax dollars their way?

Hmmm.... From Morningstar via DittoHead Recovery:

If all remaining conditions are timely satisfied, Halliburton anticipates that DII Industries, Kellogg Brown & Root and the other affected units would make the Chapter 11 filing in November.

I don't pretend to understand the ins and outs of the Halliburton asbestos recovery suits (or how they got Dicked by them) but maybe the Rovelican stress on tort "reform" is more understandable now...

Say, isn't Cheney still collecting from Halliburton?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

What's up with the shadow government? 

Just asking... I don't hear much about it these days.

"Do you suffer from winger flatulence?" 

Yep, Le Comte de Bugville, Tom "Don't Call Me French!" DéLay is at it again.

The Democrat leaders must finally decide: Are they going to be the party of Franklin Roosevelt's moral clarity, or the party of Ted Kennedy's extremist appeasement," the Texas Republican said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

"Our critics can try to change the subject, but the debate will come down to one question: Are we at war or not? One choice, one vote."

0. Let me take a moment to laugh hysterically at the party that wants to destroy FDR's legacy, a social safety net, laying claim to his heritage; that's one for Leah's Hall of Shamelessness.

[Pause for helpless laughter, followed by sound of head banging on desk.]

OK, I'm done now.

1. And let me try not to laugh at the People of the Lie claiming to have moral clarity about anything, especially the Iraqi war they lied their way into (and asked our troops to give their lives for these lies).

2. And now we come to "extremist appeasement," which must have been brewed up down in the RNC basement labs for Winger Meme Development (ooh, nice acronym). I can hear Herr Rove saying, "Fax that puppy!"

I suppose "moderate appeasement" would be OK? Who is being appeased? AQ? They're laughing in their caves, saying "Mission accomplished!" Kim Il Sung? I don't think so; now that we're bogged down in Iraq. The only extremists I see here are DéLay's troops, and appeasing them never does a bit of good (ask Max Cleland).

3. "Are we at war or not?" Yes, Tom, you idiot, you winger spawn, we're at war, and we know it. A war the Rovelicans got us into through lies, and with no plan to win the peace. A war whose ill-framed declaration was delayed for partisan purposes until just before the 2000 elections. A war that is part of a larger war against Rovelican opponents, the constitution, and democracy itself. A war that started with the slow-moving, media-fuelled VRWC coup against Clinton, continued through Florida 2000, and continues today in the recall and redistricting battles.

It's all one war, and yes, you moron, you bat-winged avatar of hubris and deceit, we know we are in it. Aux duck pits, citoyens!

4. Downwind, boy!

George Bush omorashi 

UPDATE: Readers ask: What are omorashi?

Here is a usage example from the Montreal Mirror's famous Rant Line:

M Hey, all this schoolgirl talk over the last few weeks made me realize one thing - there are no USED PANTIES SHOPS in Montreal, like the ones they have in Japan. I sure would love to get my hands on some pissed-in panties from a cute Japanese girl! Man, just think about it - the white cotton, the yellow-stained crotch, the perfume. They even have panty vending machines in Japan! Yup, Montreal definitely needs dirty panty shops. Any cutie who's into OMORASHI, please get back to me. [BLEEP!]

The implication is that winger's would actually find Bush's post-9/11 omorashi erotic, and be willing to buy them if, say, they were auctioned on eBay... That is why "George Bush omorashi!" is #4 on the "Top 10 reasons not to hate George Bush" (back).

Where #1 ("You can watch with the sound turned down") is looking better all the time, especially after the "interview" last night.

What You Mean, "We"? 

When last we met loyal Republican Bruce Ramsey, he was doing his bit for the coupon-clipping class by advocating the privatization of unemployment insurance.

Well, it looks like the coupon clippers are a mite concerned, both about their portfolios and about the future of their useful idiot in the White House.

George, here's what to do in Iraq: Declare victory and bring the troops home.

The reasons, in ascending order of importance, are: lives of American troops, GOP electoral prospects and, above all, business confidence. As for the voters, Ramsey advises, don't worry: they are morons who will believe anything, and it's all bread and circuses for them anyway.

Certainly, the American people would accept a change in policy. They have accepted the official story from the start — the weapons of mass destruction, the "link" between Saddam and bin Laden, the "Woman Warrior" story about Pvt. Jessica Lynch. They are not paying much attention to Iraq. They will accept a pullout.

As for Iraq itself, who cares? Displaying that sang froid that marks the true Republican heart, Ramsey sees Iraq as another Bush venture that's been profitably looted, and it's time to take profits before the roof caves in:

Your war, a Republican war, of which the politically profitable part is over. We are now in the losing part. The occupation of Iraq could drag on well past November 2004.

Funny how a "sure thing" can turn out, eh? Analytically ludicrous and morally bankrupt, to be sure, Ramsey's column also echoes with the footsteps of him and his fellow first-class passengers, hastening for the lifeboats.

Too bad the rest of us are stuck in steerage.

DéLay embraces flypaper theory 

Yep. Le Comte de Bugville is going with the flypaper theory. If that's the best they can do:

"Isn't it smarter to fight the war on terror in the streets of Baghdad than the streets of Brooklyn?"

Funny. I thought the war was about bringing democracy to the Iraqis (after selling off their national assets to the highest bidder and securing their oil supplies, of course.

I wonder if the Iraqis know that's why we're doing this?

How to steal the 2004 Presidential elections 

Use Diebold electronic voting machines. Salon (go on, get the one-day pass) has an interview with Bev Harris by Farhad Manjoo here:

[MANJOO:] It was brought to their attention two years ago?

[HARRIS:] Right.

[MANJOO:] So what was the flaw?

[HARRIS:] Specifically the flaw was that you can get at the central vote-counting database through Microsoft Access. They have the security disabled. And when you get in that way, you are able to overwrite the audit log, which is supposed to log the transactions, and this [audit log] is one of the key things they cite as a security measure when they sell the system.

[MANJOO:] So you can break in and then hide your tracks.

[HARRIS:] You don't even need to break in. It will open right up and in you go. You can change the votes and you can overwrite the audit trail. It doesn't keep any record of anything in the audit trail when you're in this back door, but let's say you went in the front door and you didn't want to have anything you did there appear anywhere -- you can then go in the backdoor and erase what you did.

[MANJOO:] Who would have access to this? Are we talking about elections officials?

[HARRIS:] A couple situations. Obviously anybody who has access to the computer, whether that's the election supervisor, their assistants, the IT people, the janitor -- anybody who has access to the computer can get into it. ,

Lots of good stuff here, including the fact that the CEO of Diebold is a major Republican contributor and has promised to deliver Ohio to them.

Why is it that the Republicans are so sensitive about some secrets (Cheney on energy, anything on 9/11) and so encaring about others (your vote)? Just asking...

What the 9/11 families want 

Laurence Arnold of AP via my own Inky here

Some family members of Sept. 11 victims are unhappy with the pace and direction of the commission's 18-month inquiry, which passed its midway mark in late August.

They want the committee to pinpoint government failures and, where necessary, to name those accountable.

"What we want is investigative hearings with witnesses who answer questions pertinent to the investigation," said Carol Ashley, whose daughter Janice was killed at the World Trade Center.

Ashley is a member of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, which released a midterm report card giving the commission poor marks, including D's for the public meetings it has held.

It's be a cold day in hell when those "family values" Republicans let that happen!

"We can't just leave" 

In a perfect world, that is.

I agree, maybe, with those who would rather not "just leave" Iraq—though I think the only way to make Iraq the sort of relative success that Kosovo was is to bring on a Democratic administration—but "we can't just leave" is a simple minded argument.

In reality, there's a lot of stuff "we can't just."

Like "we can't just have Mom eating dogfood from the Dollar Store because we gave away the Social Security money to the super-rich in tax cuts."

Since there's not an infinite amount of money, we have to choose. Leah's "Costs of War" meter makes this point forcefully. The "we can't just leave" argument leaves out the element of making hard choices, and the sacrifices we make when we do that.

Even in the national security realm, would I "just leave" Iraq if I could nobble AQ? In a heartbeat, especially since the Bush gang has never shown a link between Saddam and AQ. Would I "just leave" Iraq if doing that would solve the North Korean crisis? Sure.

So enough with the "we can't just leave" argument.

"Minute amounts" 

The Beeb:

[BBC reporter Mr Neil said that according to the source, the [draft Kay Report] will say its inspectors have not even unearthed "minute amounts of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons material [in Iraq]".

They don't even care enough to fake it!

There's a lot that the Bush regime has "minute amounts" of, including good sense, but I frankly expected them to find or at least "find" some WMDs.... Documents, more stuff buried in the backyard... What is going on with these guys?

What the Iraqis think 

AP via the Sidney Morning Herald here:

Two-thirds say they think that Iraq will be in better condition five years from now than it was before the invasion. Only 8 per cent think it will be worse off.

But they are not convinced that Iraq is better off now - 47 per cent said the country was worse off than before the invasion and 33 per cent said it was better off.

The survey found that 62 per cent thought ousting Saddam was worth the hardships they have endured since the invasion.

Six in 10 said they viewed the new Iraqi Governing Council favourably, but most saw its priorities as set by coalition authorities.

The methology:

The poll, of 1178 adults, was conducted face to face in the respondents' households from August 28 to September 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Gallup plans to poll extensively in Iraq and has established a centre in Baghdad to co-ordinate the polling effort.

Conspicuously absent is the Iraqi definition of "better off five years from now" ...

The Costs Of War 

Not counting anything but the dollars, that is.

Here's an interesting site that let's you ponder that particular cost in a variety of ways, using one of those clock counters that makes graphic at what speed individual dollars are being spent; it's dizzying.

How the figures are arrived at (estimates by the Congressional Budget Office) is made clear. There are comparisons to other kinds of expenditures we could have chosen instead, Pre-School, Kid's Health, Public Education, College Scholarships, and quaintly, Public Housing.

Better yet, you can click on specific towns and cities across the nation to find out what their portion of the cost is, and what it could have bought the citizens there.

Best of all, the intergenerational citizen-activists (their delightful description) have put on their site an inspiring quote from Dwight David Eisenhower; you remember him, four-star General, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WW2, two term President of the United States at a time in our history when to be a Republican did not mean allegiance to a definition of America that excluded approximately 60 to 70 percent of its citizens.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

And yes, I am aware that using "bolded" text in a post is a form of screaming.

Here's another scream from the same Eisenhower statement:

The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.

Ever wondered what Eisenhower might have made of the Bush doctrine? Wonder no more:

Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953 after being shown plans to launch a preventive war against the Soviet Union; as quoted by Jonathan Schell, in the Nation (March 3, 2003)

"All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time....I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing."

Check out the website, and then send the link via email to all friends and family members. In the Bush era, we're all "the media" - we have to be.

An IP monopolist whose name starts with "M" 

Monsanto, silly:

David Barboza of The Times writes:

A federal judge on Friday let proceed an antitrust case that accused the Monsanto Company and other big agricultural seed giants of conspiring to control the world's market in genetically modified crops.

In a 13-page decision, Rodney W. Sippel, a federal district judge in St. Louis, dismissed part of a class-action lawsuit that was filed in 1999 by a group of farmers who said they had suffered huge losses because of global opposition to genetically modified crops.

But Judge Sippel allowed the antitrust portion of the case to proceed, possibly setting the stage for a court battle over whether the world's biggest producers of agricultural seeds got together in the late 1990's to fix prices and control the market for those valuable biotechnology seeds, which are now planted on more than 100 million acres worldwide.

Excellent! Particularly if you want some other diet than a corporatist one. (See the slow food movement.)

When we're talking real jobs, not "tax cut" jobs, the Rovelicans can't get it together 

Even though I deplore The Car Economy, this is absurd. Ledyard King of Gannett
of US Today writes:

Congress will miss its Sept. 30 deadline to enact a highway and transit funding bill, a delay that states say could cost 90,000 people their jobs and billions of dollars in extra construction costs because of delays.

The adults are in charge of all three branches of government, and they can't pass a simple piece of pork?

Say, what about that Jobs Czar? 

Just asking...

More reservists for the qWagmire 

Robert Burns of AP writes:

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more reservists could be called upon if other countries do not soon pledge thousands more troops to form a third multinational division in Iraq.

When it announced a troop rotation plan in July, the Pentagon assumed that it would have available a third multinational division of 10,000 to 15,000 troops to replace the Army's 101st Airborne Division early next year.

"There are many countries out there talking about it, and we have every hope that that will happen," [Pace] said, "but hope is not a plan."

No, it isn't, is it?

Funny thing—diplomacy and multilateralism save American lives.

About that Iraqi oil ... 

Bruce Stanley of AP writes:

Earlier Wednesday, Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum said Iraq plans to remain a member of OPEC, dismissing any suggestions that the U.S.-occupied country would withdraw from the producers' group it helped found.

Iraq's role in the cartel has been the subject of debate for months, with some U.S. officials suggesting it drop out of the cartel to avoid the constraints of export quotas that would one day apply to its slowly recovering oil output.

Got it. Use Iraq to split OPEC and drive oil prices down. Worth going to war over? For some, perhaps.

ACLU sues on "protest zones" 

Those zones, of course, being very far away from either aWol or the press.
Jonathan D. Salant of the AP writes:

The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday asked the federal courts to prevent the Secret Service from keeping anti-Bush demonstrators far away from presidential appearances while allowing supporters to display their messages up close. The civil liberties group filed the lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania on behalf of four advocacy organizations that claimed that the Secret Service forced them into protest zones or other areas where they could not be seen by President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or be noticed by the media covering their visits.

Overturning "protest zones" (what an affront to democracy) will, of course, be very important at the Republican National Convention in Manhattan....

The ACLU complaint lists several incidents where protesters were forced to assemble blocks away from where the president or vice president was speaking, while supporters of the administration's policy could hold their signs up in front of the building.The civil liberties group cited examples across the country, including Philadelphia; Columbia, S.C.; Phoenix; Stockton, Calif.; and St. Louis.

Heaven forfend that the Boy King should see all his subjects!

Good for the ACLU! Send them money....

Round up the usual rhetoric 

Bush UN speech draws universal yawns. Peter of the Globe writes:

For the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, Bush seemed to be in a crisis that was purely political, and largely of his own making.

His address to the United Nations, replete with his usual good-and-evil rhetoric ..

Ho hum...

Could the SCLM be catching on at last?

If we want to make the Iraqi governing council look like lackeys, here's how 

AP here:

Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council yesterday barred journalists from two leading Arab satellite news channels from government buildings and press conferences. The council said the two-week ban was imposed on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya (two of the most popular television news stations in the Middle East) because it suspected that the stations had violated rules that include not disclosing information about pending attacks on American troops.

Sign of faulty intelligence—if our guys were any good, we'd have someone on the inside and wouldn't have to worry about disclosure....

The continuing coup: Texas 

Looks like Rovelican Texas redistricting plan is going through—thanks to one Democrat who broke ranks. There's a lesson for us there, eh?

The SCLM takes the Republican line that this is about bringing Texas congressional seats in line with current state voting patterns. And yes, current state voting patterns favor the Republicans.

But redistricting has always been driven by the 10-year Census, not the election cycle. This is good, since (politicians being what they are) otherwise we'd have a redistricting fight after every election. The system is healthier on the 10-year cycle.

But the Republicans don't care about the health of the system because they intend to abolish it entirely.

The Republicans believe (if we look at their actions) that once they seize power, they will never have to give it up again (can you say "Diebold"?). They are radicals who are playing for keeps, and the Democrats are still playing business as usual.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever."

Sound familiar?

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Administration on WMDs: "Never mind!" 

John Lumpkin of AP writes:

[David Kay,] the man in charge of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is briefing senior intelligence officials in Washington this week but the public may not be told of his findings right away.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice suggested there are no plans to release Kay's findings immediately. There had been expectations in Washington that the report would come out this month.

Suppressing the Kay Report really should be a candidate for Leah's Hall of Shamelessness, shouldn't it?

If the findings were the teeniest bit favorable to the administration, the MWs would already cranking out reams of copy on it on how everyone who questions Dear Leader is a traitor. So...

"Do you suffer from winger flatulence?" 

Tom "Don't call me French!" DéLay in the LA Times here:

Criticism is welcome.

Ha ha.

But you can't accuse the president of treason without some evidence to back it up.

Tom, I'll see you and raise you. Will this do?

What Bush certified to Congress:

"I determine that .. acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001

Now, a year later, Bush comes clean:

We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th.

Yes, Le Comte de Bugville is a sad, sad case... Probably inoperable... Downwind, boy!

Mr. Diplomacy... 


Bush, who did not sit in the chamber for Annan's [UN] address ...

Uh, this wouldn't be percieved as insulting, would it?

The kindest explanation: There's that Bush NPD again... Lack of empathy...

Denial ain't no river in Egypt 

Josh Marshall writes:

Many of us are familiar with the five stages of grieving identified three decades ago by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross. As individuals face death or any great loss they go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Those stages apply to the demise of major policy initiatives as well and we’re watching that happen now as the White House comes to grips with the collapse of its policy on Iraq.

The administration keeps seeing what the problem is but cannot bring itself to take the cure.

It’s stuck. It cannot get past stages one (denial) and two (anger). And the clock is ticking.

Well, perhaps we can help them work through to "acceptance."

Though the road to "acceptance" runs through "bargaining," and the way to bargain with this people seems to be with a two-by-four, a bat, or a large garden implement.

"A Clear and Present Danger" 

Listen to Digby

I wish it were 1972 again or even 1992 again and I could feel sanguine that the United States was going to toddle along, for better or worse, under a basic bipartisan consensus that recognized certain constitutional boundaries and limits that could not be breached. I wish that we had an independent media that was less focused on entertainment values and instead recognized that it had an intrinsically important role in democracy. I wish that we were not in the grip of a revolution in technology and communications at the same time as a radical group of idealists have seized power. I wish we had the luxury of choosing candidates purely on the basis of their commitment to a bottom-up revolution of the people and progressive ideas.

Unfortunately, it is not that time. The modern Republican party presents a clear and present danger to everything we hold dear --- the social safety net, the rule of law, civil liberties, consumer protection, a clean environment, international legitimacy --- everything. They envision a one-party state. They mean to completely and thoroughly change the way this country works.

Thats from Digby's recent post - For the full context and implications of what hes talking about (and what Tresy is pointing out below) -- read Priorities* - ASAP. See posts for Sept. 23, 2003 / *permalink to specific post seems to be misbehaving.

As a side note to Digby's words above I think that it's important to remember that any commitment to fight for progressive bottom-up ideas and goals can be continued well into the future, well past Nov. 2004, regardless of which Dem is elected. But, if any of those progressive goals are going to be advanced and realized any time soon the first big step on that future course is going to require both a cooperative offensive and defensive team effort dedicated to the removal from office and power of the largest and most serious obstruction to those goals. And I think we all know who and what those obstructions are, and where they currently line up.

On Clark and the Democrats 

So last week my Mormon, Bush-voting, National Guard-serving co-worker walks into my office.

"You hear the news about Clark?" he asks.

Of course, I say.

Says he, "Where do I make a campaign contribution?"

That's why this week's polls don't surprise me. Regardless of how well he reflects my personal politics, Clark is Bush's worst nightmare, an actual incarnation of everything the sniveling, pampered Bush pretends to be, and which voters have finally started to see through. And so it's also why the GOP character assassins already have their weapons on full auto.

To flog the metaphor, if the Dems have any tactical sense, to say nothing of simple solidarity, they will lay down covering fire for whichever comrade happens to be in the GOP crosshairs at the moment. Right now it's Clark, but if they let the lying liars pick him off, it's going to be Dean or Kerry next. It would be sweet to see one of them come out swinging on Clark's behalf.

MWO is right: the principal challengers to Bush are all strong, all electable, which is possibly their most potent weapon, if they choose to use it. By maintaining a unified front and watching each other's backs, they can harry Bush and keep his minions off balance. If on the other hand they don't hang together, they are surely all going to hang separately. And that goes for the candidates' supporters too.

Sleeping with the enemy 

E.J. Dionne opines (in "Anti-Bush Moderates"):

Ask a Democrat about 2002 and it won't take long before the name Max Cleland comes up. Cleland is the former Georgia senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam. Because he favored some union and civil service protections in the homeland security bill, Cleland was attacked in a vicious campaign ad showing pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Cleland lost, and Democrats are still furious over the treatment of this war hero and political moderate.

Actually, Dionne is leaving out the worst part of the administration's behavior.

Cleland was one of the Democrats, back in the days when we didn't understand that the Bush regime was of the radical right, who compromised with the Republicans on taxes and the war. They savaged him anyhow.

Meaning that it makes no sense to try to deal with this administration, no matter how nicely they talk.

Because if they'll rip a triple amputee veteran who tried to compromise with them for being a traitor, what do you think they will do to you? Something that this year's crop of Democrats (and the UN, the Europeans, and the Iraqis) would do well to keep in mind...

the GOP ~ God, Obduracy, Paranoia 

Picked up on this item (excerpted below) via Bertrand de Jouvenal's Fighting Democrat blog.

God, gays and guns
Madison Capital Times
By Rep. Mark Pocan
September 23, 2003

Distraction. If you look the word up in the dictionary, you'll get a couple of definitions.

"The act of distracting, drawing someone's attention away from something." "An obstacle to attention." "Something that serves as a diversion."

The Republican agenda this fall is as follows: a bill to limit birth control to sexually active young women (God); a bill to stop stem cell research that could save thousands of lives in the future (God); a bill to change the definition of marriage from the terribly confusing "husband and wife" to "man and woman" (gays); and a bill to allow residents and nonresidents to carry concealed guns like cell phones anywhere they want to, as well as reducing penalties for having guns and other weapons in schools (guns).

I'm dead serious.

Instead of figuring out how to bring Wisconsin together and find solutions for our weak economy, the Republicans have thrown in the towel and admitted intellectual defeat. Instead, they offer us ways to score political points with narrow special interests, divide our population and create a discussion about anything but their lack of solutions for the economy.


A good day of Bible thumping and safety lock clicking is good legislative theater for sure. But we're calling your bluff.

It's time to offer some real solutions to real problems rather than provide legislative sleight of hand. Do you have that in you?

Ah, the ReShrublicans. Perhaps the next item on their agenda will be to officially shift Wisconsin's state motto from "Forward" to "Reverse".

California: It's a go for October 7 

CNN. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune here:

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the challenge, did not immediately say whether it would appeal.

The appeals court reinstated a ruling by a district court judge who refused to postpone the election. The judges based their decision on the state's constitution, not any precedent set by Bush v. Gore.

UPDATE: ACLU will not appeal.

aWol at the UN 


Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: Between those who seek order and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children, without mercy or shame.


And in 2004 I'm voting for a Democrat.

Any Democrat. See Krugman's remarks below on the Bush regime as revolutionary.

George Bush omorashi! 

The Times:

The mood at the White House is not one of panic.


[BUSH:] My attitude about all of this -- and I really don't pay that much attention to it.

Since the best working assumption with Bush is that he's lying, we know he's paying a lot of attention. I mean, he's out there raising $200 mil, yes? And how extreme would his panic be? Well....

UPDATE: Readers ask: What are omorashi?

Here is a usage example (scroll all the way to the bottom).

The implication is that some Bush supporters would actually find his omorashi erotic, and be willing to buy them if, say, they were auctioned on eBay... The 9/11 ones (for example) would command a very high price. That is why "George Bush omorashi!" is #4 on the "Top 10 reasons not to hate George Bush" (back).

Where #1 ("You can watch with the sound turned down") is looking better all the time, especially after the "interview" last night.

aWol endorses flypaper theory 


[BUSH]: I would rather fight them there than here. I know I would rather fight them there than here, and I know would rather fight them there than in other remote parts of the world, where it may be more difficult to find them.

UPDATE: From alert reader Bushbgone:

Green Bush and Ham

I'd rather fight them there than here
I'd rather fight them far than near
I'd rather fight them in a Box
While getting interviewed on Fox
I'd rather fight them in a tree
I do not like them, so you see

Our CEO president 


HUME: Now, how about this big lawn out here? How did that get here?

BUSH: Isn't it fabulous? Well, we've come out here -- you know, a lot of times, well, after I -- after I made the decision -- not made the decision -- told ...

Not "made the decision"?! Who did? Cheney? The shadow government? God?

... Tommy Franks and Don Rumsfeld that they had -- that they had the orders to move in on Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was in the Situation Room, and it was a dramatic moment. It was a heavy moment for me, and I wanted to come outside and reflect, so I came out and got the dogs and we walked around the South Lawn a couple of times.

Any alert readers know if this chronology is correct? Or is he lying?

All together now! 

Awwwwwww ....


BUSH: It's bad enough that I cannot run.

He can't hide, either.

Krugman: An encore presentation 

Since The Shrill One is on a book tour, his column isn't appearing in the Times. So here is a favorite from the past. It's even more obviously true today. Oliver Burkeman interviewed Krugman for The Guardian, as Krugman discussed the origins of his new book, The Great Unravelling:

The first three pages of Kissinger's book sent chills down my spine," Krugman writes of A World Restored, the 1957 tome by the man who would later become the unacceptable face of cynical realpolitik. Kissinger, using Napoleon as a case study - but also, Krugman believes, implicitly addressing the rise of fascism in the 1930s - describes what happens when a stable political system is confronted with a "revolutionary power": a radical group that rejects the legitimacy of the system itself.

This, Krugman believes, is precisely the situation in the US today (though he is at pains to point out that he isn't comparing Bush to Hitler in moral terms). The "revolutionary power", in Kissinger's theory, rejects fundamental elements of the system it seeks to control, arguing that they are wrong in principle. For the Bush administration, according to Krugman, that includes social security; the idea of pursuing foreign policy through international institutions; and perhaps even the basic notion that political legitimacy comes from democratic elections - as opposed to, say, from God.

But worse still, Kissinger continued, nobody can quite bring themselves to believe that the revolutionary power really means to do what it claims. "Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent," he wrote, "they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework." Exactly, says Krugman, who recallss the response to his column about Tom DeLay, the anti-evolutionist Republican leader of the House of Representatives, who claimed, bafflingly, that "nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes".

"My liberal friends said, 'I'm not interested in what some crazy guy in Congress has to say'," Krugman recalls. "But this is not some crazy guy! This guy runs Congress! There's this fundamental unwillingness to acknowledge the radicalism of the threat we're facing." But those who point out what is happening, Kissinger had already noted long ago, "are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane." ("Those who take the hard-line rightists now in power at their word are usually accused of being 'shrill', of going over the top," Krugman writes, and he has become well used to such accusations.)

Which is how, as Krugman sees it, the Bush administration managed to sell tax cuts as a benefit to the poor when the result will really be to benefit the rich, and why they managed to rally support for war in Iraq with arguments for which they didn't have the evidence. Journalists "find it very hard to deal with blatantly false arguments," he argues. "By inclination and training, they always try to see two sides to an issue, and find it hard even to conceive that a major political figure is simply lying."

tTo quote a state department official who put it pungently to a reporter earlier this year, describing the dominance of the Pentagon hawks: "I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, 'There's been a military coup'. And then it all makes sense."

Our cliche of revolutions is that they are driven from the bottom, by the oppressed.

But this "revolution" (where the VWRC has been at the leading edge) comes from above. It's being driven by people who already have all the power, and all the wealth, that anyone could possibly want. Curious, eh?

Bad news from California 

Broder does some reportage. And Bustamente's tanking.
But Issa (wait for it) now says vote No

Honey, I've really changed! 

Elizabeth Bumiller of the Times quotes winger apologist and MW Kristol:

"Until about two weeks ago [the White House] believed their own propaganda that all was well in Iraq and at home," Mr. Kristol said. "But reality has set in, and they're hard-headed in dealing with the problems they face."

Ha ha. Those "hard-headed" conservatives. At least they aren't being "bold" or "clear-eyed" anymore.

If there's one thing we know about these guys, it's that they don't change. Only the rhetoric changes.

Cutting through the crap on Social Security 

Leigh Strope of AP writes:

[Democractic Sentator Jon Corzine of New Jersey,] former chairman of Wall Street investment bankers Goldman Sachs & Co., reminded Republicans of his 30 years experience with financial markets and said personal accounts invested in the stock market were "an uncertainty and a risk." It would be a mistake for millions of Americans to rely on stock market income for their retirement, he said.

In the current system, "security is guaranteed. Dignity is guaranteed," Corzine said, noting that Bush's tax cuts amount to $12 trillion over 75 years, more than enough to restore solvency.

So all we have to do is leave taxes at the Clinton level, and my Mom's Social Security is safe? Sounds like a bargain to me, especially considering what the economy was like back then.

Of course, I understand some folks on Wall Street are hurting, and naturally the Republicans want to get them some commissions, but does it have to be with my Mom's retirement money?

Iraqi duckies! 

Iraqi reaction to Bush fire sale of their assets—except for the oil, of course——was not positive. Surprise!

Mark Fineman of the LA Times writes:

In the marble-floored corporate offices of Al-Hafidh General Trading Co., Waleed and Hani Hafidh vented the rage of many Iraqi businessmen Monday over the country's new wide-open foreign investment policy.Puffing furiously on imported cigarettes, the Hafidh brothers asserted that the economic reform package unveiled by Iraq's recently appointed finance minister in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday will destroy the country's small yet burgeoning private sector, create a permanent "world occupation" of its economy and render the Iraqi people "immigrants in their own land."

"Everything we asked for was thrown onto the trash heap," said Waleed Hafidh, echoing the thoughts of many business people in the Iraqi capital, some of whom appeared on Arab satellite television stations to air their grievances Monday.

"It's the wrong approach," said Sam Kubba, who heads the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington. "It's a recipe for disaster because it gives the impression that they're trying to sell off all the Iraqi resources. They should go about it much more slowly. Start by getting a democracy in place first and letting the people elect a government."

Oh, "gives the impression"? Wonder who the buyers will be?

Chalabi learns how wingers think 

If "think" is the right word... Liberals think; reactionaries react?

Anyhow, it's pretty funny. If ever people deserved each other, it's Chalabi and his Pentagon backers.

Patrick E. Tyler and Felicity Barringer of The Times write:

In an interview today in New York, Mr. Chalabi professed gratitude to the Bush administration for toppling Saddam Hussein's government, but his specific proposals were directly at odds with the policies Washington is pursuing in Baghdad and at the United Nations. He demanded that the Iraqi Governing Council be given at least partial control of the powerful finance and security ministries, and rejected the idea of more foreign troops coming to Iraq.

Mr. Chalabi's strategy, he says, is to get from the United Nations General Assembly sovereign status for the unelected 25-member Governing Council. This move to lobby other nations for a swift transfer of some sovereignty is going down poorly in Washington, according to the Iraqi leader's aides.

Mr. Chalabi has sent representatives to France and Germany to discuss putting Iraqis back in charge under a new United Nations mandate that would end American control of the occupation, even if American troops remain in Iraq. His aides say he also plans to tell the Senate that the United Nations could save billions of dollars on Iraq's reconstruction by allowing an Iraqi administration to handle it.

"People in D.C. are accusing us of `conspiring with America's enemies,' " one aide said, describing the reports of his advance men on the mood in Washington.

Not to worry, Ahmed! They say that about anyone who disagrees with them!

What to do when there's only so much money? 

Jonathon Wiseman and Juliet Elperin of WaPo write:

Howard Dean recently noted that his health care plan would cost about $87 billion, "which happens to be almost exactly the amount the president . . . asked to wage war in Iraq for another year." Given a choice, he said, Americans would choose "health insurance that nobody can take away."

He's talkin' sense, Wayne!

Of course, we could roll back those tax cuts for the rich... Which they have generoulsly volunteered to do ... Oh, wait ...

Why is this story dying? 

At least it's made WaPo, in Dana Milbank's Politics column right down at the very bottom:

MOVING TARGET: "Acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 [congressional authorization for military force in Iraq] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

-- President Bush, March 18 letter to Congress.

"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th."

-- President Bush, Sept. 17.


Seriously, why isn't this front page news? I mean, I know it's not about whether Bush got a *******, or anything important, but still...

This admistration will say anything to get what they want in place (the old bait and switch). We should keep this in mind with the new funding request for Iraq.

Damage control at Jet Blue 

Dow Jones via AP here:

JetBlue Airways Corp. hired Deloitte & Touche to assist the company in the analysis and development of its privacy policy following the release of customer information as was disclosed last week.

New York-based JetBlue said it shared passenger itineraries, but no payment information, with the Department of Defense for a Department of Defense project related to military base security.

Military base security? With Jet Blue data? Huh? Sounds like the bureaucratic cover story to me. What was DOD really doing?

The information was released to Torch Concepts, a Defense Department contractor, which has since disclosed that no identifiable customer data was released to any third party.

Leaving open the question of what was released...

Anyhow, Torch is a data mining/pattern recognition company. It's not relevant that Jet Blue didn't release payment information; for all I know, DOD got Torch got "identifiable customer data" from some other source than Jet Blue and merged the two.

Jet Blue has some 'splainin' to do...

UPDATE: Now they're being sued. Good!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Paul Bremer's Good Morning To America: "87 Billion Isn't Chopped Liver" 

Thanks, Paul. We were wondering.

In Iraq, it was another terrible morning .

Saturday and Sunday weren't so hot either, definitively for three young Americans, definitely, but one hopes not definitively, for Akila Al Hashimi, whom "riverbend" of Baghdad Burning explains is a fascinatingly complex and important female member of the Iraqi Governing Council.

I couldn't find the names of the American soldiers; perhaps they haven't been released yet. Jim Lehrer on PBS's NewsHour ends each broadcast with the names of any new American fatalities, along with a moment of silence. The names should be important to us, important to say, to write down, to think about in silence. Then, perhaps, we can avoid having to erect another sacred black wall to engrave them on.

Three hundred and three American soldiers have now died in Iraq, since the start of military operations in March. This figure does not include, please remember, the number of wounded. I know we're not supposed to make those foolish, defeatist, comparisons to our American experience in Vietnam, and who would be so reckless as to compare 60,000 deaths with 303.

On the other hand, some years back while working on a script set in 1965, I had occasion to look up the number of American military deaths in Vietnam during that year; I was astonished to discover that they were below 400 until late in the year. By the time of Kennedy's death, we had but 16,000 troops in Vietnam. That figure went up by the end of 1965 to close to the number of troops we have now in Iraq, where we've been for less than a year, and still we're hot on the trail of that 400 death mark. Yes, the situation on the ground in Iraq is markedly different from what was happening in Vietnam, but isn't it well to remember that a death toll of 60,000 was once a death toll of 303?

The chilling details of that suicide bombing outside the UN headquarters are useful reminders of why Goya used the title, "Disasters Of War."

The blast occurred at the entrance to a parking lot next to the U.N. compound at the Canal Hotel, scene of a devastating car bombing last month that killed about 20 people, including the U.N.'s top envoy.

The powerful blast was heard throughout the city and hurled the hood of the car some 200 yards. The detached arm of one victim lay more than 100 yards away.

Master Sgt. Hassan al-Saadi, among the first on the scene after the explosion, said he was told by injured policemen that a gray 1995 Opel with Baghdad license plates had approached the entrance to the parking lot.

"A guard went to search the car, opened the trunk and the car exploded, killing him and the driver. When I arrived, there was fire and smoke, even the guard's body was ablaze," he said.


Authorities identified the slain policeman as 23-year-old Salam Mohammed.


In Baghdad, Hanan Tahir, a nutritionist with the World Food Program, said the attack near the U.N. building caused panic among staff.

"They were screaming, shouting," she said. "They were crying and they were running."

Aqeel Abd Ali, a guard at the building, said the torso and head of the bomber had been found, and the face was still recognizable. Police were trying to identify him.

At a nearby hospital, Wahid Karim, who had a chunk of metal removed from his head, said: "I didn't even hear it. I lost consciousness. I came round in my car. The driver was bleeding."

U.N. spokeswoman Antonia Paradela said 19 people were wounded, two of them Iraqi U.N. staff.

"This incident today once again underlines that Iraq remains a war zone and a high risk environment, particularly for those working to improve the lives of the Iraqi people," Kevin Kennedy, the senior U.N. official in Baghdad, said in a statement read out by Paradela at the scene.

Paradela said U.N. staff did not know why they were being targeted. "It's not really for lack of security that this happens," she said. "If people are willing to kill themselves there's not a lot we can do."

She said security was being reviewed.

"People are just talking here and seeing if we can operate in these conditions. There are deliberations here and deliberations in New York."

Not to worry. The adults are in charge and they know what they're doing.

With the cost of the occupation mounting, Iraq's U.S. administrator said Monday he believed the $87 billion that Bush requested from Congress last week would suffice to put Iraq back on its feet.

"It's a lot of money no matter how you slice it, even here in Washington -- $87 billion is not chopped liver," Paul Bremer told ABC's "Good Morning America" show.

"We have done a very careful analysis of what is needed and we are confident that this will put Iraq on the path to peace and stability," he added.

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