Saturday, October 25, 2003

Gay Marriage 

So the GOP thinks it's found a winning issue in '04: gay marriage. And to judge from a random sampling of the liberal blogosphere, it looks like our side is worried they're right, with folks like Kevin Drum, Hesiod and Atrios ginning up principled strategies for combatting them should they really decide to demagogue the issue. More of this, I say.

At the same time, I also have to say that if they're serious, it could once again demonstrate why the GOP's nickname is the Stupid Party. First, as the party in power, '04 is a referendum on their policies, which have, of course, been a disaster on every front. Playing the gay card practically begs for Democrats to point out the utter bankruptcy of everything else they ran on in '00.

But more to the point, 1992 and 1996 demonstrated pretty convincingly that culture war politics have a nasty way of backfiring. Though long forgotten by now, I sense, in 1991 the Republicans were crowing about making "political correctness" a major campaign issue, no doubt to cover up for Poppy's washout on the fiscal front. It never gathered steam and the Republicans continued to thrash about for wedge issues for the remainder of the campaign. 1996 was of course the high water mark of the culture wars, with Pat Buchanan addressing the Republican convention and scaring the beejeejus out of everyone in a speech Molly Ivins memorably described as "sounding better in the original German."

Indeed, as Joe Conason among others point out, Bush II was picked by the party largely to put daylight (dishonestly, to be sure) between itself and its extremist roots and tactics, which had backfired on them twice in a row. Now, having bankrupted the government, shed milions of jobs, and traduced every promise of moderation sold to the public in 2000, they seem prepared to revert to fearmondering, negative, divisive type. That's a good sign from my point of view, not a worrisome one.

UPDATE: In comments, Patrick Nielsen Hayden corrects my porous recollection about Buchanan's speech, which was in fact given in 1992. Mea culpa.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Turkish Troops in Iraq 

Of course the Kurds were dead set against it from the gitgo. Then the Iraqi leadership quickly added its opposition.

Now the Turks don't want Turks in Iraq either.

Another success for Bush diplomacy. Who says the guy's not a uniter?

What if they gave an occupation and nobody came?

No, none of the money is missing! 

How could anyone think such a thing?

Financial Times:

The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad on Thursday came under renewed fire for a lack of transparency as Christian Aid, a leading British relief organisation, said it had not properly accounted for $4bn in Iraqi assets.

Rummy's memo 

My head hurts.

Look, can someone tell me the difference between Rummy's "long, hard slog", and a qWagmire? And, while we're at it, a cakewalk?

Oh yeah, the memo was leaked. It thought the Boy Emperor had issued a ruling against that?

Billmon's Dishonor Roll 

John Podhoretz has managed to provoke the steady-as-steel Billmon with a Podhoretzian version of "a love note for our soldiers in Iraq from the support-the-troops brigade," as Billmon puts it, who provides this sample from the billet-doux

I'm about to say something nearly impermissible in the present-day discourse on the war in Iraq. Here it is: The death toll among American soldiers remains startlingly and hearteningly low, not horribly and frighteningly high.

That put Billmon in mind of some other well-known pontificators worthy of inclusion in a highly reputable roll of dishonor that includes a former first lady.

Billmon's post produced one of the best comments thread I've read in a long time; don't miss it. Several commentators added other worthies to the list, like George Nethercutt, who seem to think it okay to provide perspective on the toll of dead and wounded young Americans our Iraq project has taken thus far, by claiming they aren't really all that significant, compared to the importance of the task and our "success" in accomplishing it. If they really believe that, why do they always use only the number of dead from enemy fire, and completely ignore the wounded?

Inspired, I'd like to add another name to this Dishonor Roll; Andrew Sullivan. I had in mind a comment he made pre-war about why he was completely comfortable with the idea that young men and women in our all volunteer professional armed services would bear the brunt of the burden of an Iraqi war, but I couldn't find it in his archives. It made the round of blogs at the time, if anyone remembers what month it happened in, please do let me know.

In lieu of that, I'd like to cite the post in which Mr. Sullivan gave us the ultimate definition and justification of the "Iraq as flypaper" theory of the occupation. Reading it once again was a shock and a revelation, and reminded me that their articulation of that theory makes Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and even the President likely contenders for Billmon's increasingly distinguished dishonor roll.

What else did president Bush mean when he challenged the terror-masters to "bring 'em on," in Iraq? Those are not the words of a man seeking merely to pacify a country, but to continue waging war against terrorism. On August 25, Donald Rumsfeld said to a group called the veterans of Foreign Wars: "In Iraq moreover we¹re dealing not just with regime remnants but also with tens of thousands of criminals that were released from the jails by the regime before it fell, as well as terrorists and foreign fighters who have entered the country over the borders to try to oppose the Coalition. They pose a challenge to be sure but they also pose an opportunity because Coalition forces can deal with the terrorists now in Iraq instead of having to deal with those terrorists elsewhere, including the United States." Opportunity knocks.

In case it wasn't clear, that last two word comment outside the quotes is Sully's. Do not ask for whom opportunity knocks, it knocks for thee. Not. Not if you're a rich, snobbish, conservative swell.

It's this unified field theory of the occupation of Iraq that explains why the President finally went to the UN, to free our troops for the real task ahead, as explained by General Sanchez:

"This is what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity... But this is exactly where we want to fight them. ...This will prevent the American people from having to go through their attacks back in the United States." You won't find a better description of the "flytrap" strategy anywhere - or from a more authoritative source.

Who could disagree?

Mr. Sullivan has nothing to say about the morality of invading and occupying Iraq in order to have a theatre far from home in which to fight our war against terrorism, though he has had much to say about how the anti-war left was oblivious to the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam.

There's more such foolishness, including an astounding description of the making of Iraq into a target for Islamic terrorists that isn't Israel as being the "extra beauty of this strategy." Brad DeLong and Jim Henley had some choice remarks to make about all this at the time that are well worth re-reading.

One of Billmon's readers suggests that this Dishonor Roll deserves to be archived; I agree, added to and made accessible on someone's sidebar. And before anyone accuses those of us who questioned this war from the beginning of cynically using US casualities to bolster our arguments, that's not the issue here. At issue is the readiness of so many supporters of the war to devalue the tragic nature of the loss being experienced by too many American families, and far too many Iraqis. Support for the war and the occupation is one thing; lying about its costs is quite another.

Rural Help Need Not Apply 

Liberal Strategy Needed. Don't count on any help from the so called "liberals" below.

Commentors responding to an earlier post featuring that celebrated bastion of right wing peasant ethic, The Nation.

Sorry, but I grew up amongst farmers, and they were to a man slack-jawed, right-wing, fundy christian gun nuts who hate the guvmint but cash the CRP checks.- Aaaargh

"To a man" - Wow. Got that all you rural farmer liberals out there...these are your so called allies on the "left" talking. Big help ain't they. Are you going to tell me next that all Jews are good with money or all Italians are in the mafia or.....
Heres another winner:

"I third Aargh's sentiments. I grew up in the Central Valley. A bigger group of racist motherfuckers sucking at Uncle Sam's teat,all the while bitching about welfare queens driving Cadillacs you couldn't hope to see. These were the pricks that put Reagan into office four fucking times during my life. Maybe there are some who aren't brain-dead slack-jawed yokels, but it's up to them to prove it to me - not the other way around." - dave

>>> Reagan: Yeah, well the proposition 13 crowd and the defense contractor community and big real estate business interests in Southern California aren't exactly rural enclaves. Unless your idea of a rural enclave is Long Beach. And thats a pretty big part of the crowd that elected people like Reagan.

The Central Valley of California is crawling with agribiz corporate farms and isn't representative of most small farms or farmers across this country. The big Central Valley farmers are the same farmers people like Woody Guthrie and Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers of America fought against and the same so called "farm" interest being fought against today from dozens of progressive farm activist goups across the country.

As for "proving" to you that all rural people and farmers are NOT right wing slack-jawed yokels....well, thats kind of what the Nation article is about. If you're to narrow minded to pay attention thats your problem...but you're wasting important allies in the rural parts of the country who are not right wingers and are ignored because people like you are too goddamned pig headed to listen up or help those of us out here trying to explain to people why the Republicans pandering to the big city business interests and big subsidized agribiz interests and corporations and big banks (located in big cities) are not in the best interests of average working rural peoples and communities.

And thats too bad because many rural counties went red only by narrow margins. If you're really interested in furthering the liberal cause with respect to farm policy and political affiliations you might try supporting other liberals who are living in conservative rural areas. Or at least recognizing that a whole lot of them aren't rednecks. Instead of painting all "farmers" and rural people as right wing nuts.

Heres another beauty from comments:

Aaarggh (?sp) has it right. I live among these people, and, while I understand the origins of their practices and preferences, they are profoundly incompatible with those (equally inevitable) of city dwellers. This basic and irreconcilable conflict has destroyed many nations in the past, mostly through efforts to paper it over. The present effort in the United States to impose a peasant ethic on an urban civilization is already disastrous and has nowhere to go but down. - Frank Wilhoit

This is one of those weird "these people" comments.
I'm not sure what this guy is jabbering about but he talks like hes a 19th century missionary living among the aboriginies or something. - "their practices"! - and "preferences"! As if "these people" were naked savages preparing to launch a bloody raid on the good folks at the fort. You want to find some rednecks Frank....take a drive through some of the wealthier suburbs of Columbus. You want to look at some liberals, take a ride through some of the hills and hollers of rural Athens county.

I'm not sure who tried to "paper over" what, (or even what that means) or why this guy thinks that some rural beast has launched some greater evil peasant revolt conspiracy to subdue the gentle city dweller or whatever boing-eyed homebrew he's stewed up about but he obviously lives in a loo-loo land of his own potent concoctions. Maybe Frank has some spooky secret documentation or photos of this impending "peasant ethic" takeover that he will share with us someday?

I'm not making the case that rural districts are not also composed of nutty right wing conservatives. They are. I'm trying to point out (and so is the Nation article) that not everyone who lives in rural America is a nutty right wing conservative. Including farmers.

Likewise - I'm not sure what is so profoundly imcompatible (as Frank says) about rural rednecks and city dwellers especially when you consider the Heritage Foundation (I don't suppose anyone thinks that people like Richard Mellon Scaife and Sam Walton and Bill Kristol live in cornfields?) and the American Enterprise Institute and Focus on the Family and the Free Congress Foundation and the National Review and the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times and Instapundit and the likes of high tech knuckledraggers from Little Green Screwballs and Liberty University and Coral Ridge Ministries and Steve Case and the Weekly Standard and the NY Post and Fox News and the Chalcedon Institute and that closet nazi from Free Republic.com.....on and on....seem to be perfectly compatable with most any redneck anywhere and they don't exactly own homes in Greast Bend PA. Do you think that the people who work for the institutions mentioned above and who drive the right wing message machine and who play the right wing Wurlitzer 24/7 live in the rural ruts of America? Do you think the editors of the National Review are farm boys? Who thinks Tom Delay or Trent Lott or Ken Starr or Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Karl Rove or Grover Norquist are country bumpkins? Those are the people driving the right wing message home to rural America. And they're city dwellers.

Well, for what its worth I think you'll find right wingers and racists pretty much anywhere you look these days. Try the fare on your local big city right wing talk radio call in show menu some time. And teat sucking corporate welfare mongers. No problem. That seems to be the Chicago School ideology chow being served up to all those economics students at backwater rural corndog gobbling schools like Harvard. Celebrated institution of provincial country livin that it is. But if you think that the average "farmer" milking 100 cows gets bales of subsidy boodle and corporate welfare checks then you don't have any idea what your talking about. Do you think the Chevron Corporation or Cargil is a "family farm"? All those city and suburban folks who work in suburban corporate parks and office buildings and so forth --- you know, the companies that threaten to lay everyone off and leave the city or state or country unless they receive big subsidized tax breaks and perks....you know those "high tech" companies - where the "liberal" city and suburban dwellers work. Well, if you work for one of those "farms" you've got a lot in common with the slack-jawed corporate welfare teat sucking motherfuckers in the Central Valley, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Working for the Clampdown? 

As we are now almost daily instructed, things are going swimingly in Iraq, and pay no attention to that dead soldier behind the curtain. In fact, things are going so swimmingly that the Administration has apparently decided to declare the war over (again) and shut down what was starting to look like journalism over there: images of dead bodies, wounded lying in hospitals, that kind of thing. All that unpleasantness wasn't really "real", it was just the product of the media "filter," as Dear Leader has been informing the masses during interviews to select--one might say, filtered-- local media outlets. Nope, nothing disturbing to see here, might as well pack up and go home, or stay and cover school openings.

As if.

No doubt the Bushies feel that, on the basis of abundant past experience, the whore press will once again smile at this latest insult. But as they inevitably do, the Thug Right, drunk on its own arrogance, is stupidly overreaching. If history is any guide, they will have the press at their throats in short order. The reason is that the Bushies have forgotten the First Rule of Press Relations: Feed the Beast.

Mark Hertsgaard's unjustly forgotten critique, On Bended Knee, observed that the fundamental insight of the Reaganites was to avoid Nixon's mistake, which was to antaogonize the press. Instead the Reganites realized that they had what the 24/7 press in modern age most craves, namely footage, sound bites, and information. So instead of fighting them, like Nixon did, they plied them with stand-ups, sound bites and managed news. It didn't even matter particularly if the ultimate story was unflattering. The main thing was feeding the beast. Michael Deaver called it "manipulation by inundation."

Clinton in his first term nearly forgot this lesson, and it cost him dearly. Stung by petty press coverage, the Clinton White House retaliated by ending a longstanding perk of White House journalists that allowed them to hang out in the hallway, banishing them to the windowless basement press room; like Bush, he also began holding "town meetings" that eliminated the celebrity press from its jealously guarded role as interlocutor. The result was a frenzy of petulant, negative coverage that dwarfed the earlier, merely bad coverage. Only when the Clintonites restored their perks did semi-favorable press coverage (briefly) resume.

The Bushies seem about to repeat Nixon's and Clinton's missteps. True, Rove has successfully wielded access like a weapon against reporters in the past, but only against individual reporters. Unwilling to hang together, journalists have until now allowed themselves to hang separately. This latest clampdown, circumventing the prestige press as a whole and attempting to cut off its very life blood--which is, largely, bloody images-- is qualitatively different from anything they have tried so far, and one that historically has boomeranged on every Administration that's tried it. If they persist, the Bushies are going to experience a world of hurt.

I say, bring it on. Pass the popcorn.

Yes, they reallly do want to abolish the New Deal 

From one of aWol's winger judicial nominees:

"You have described the year 1937 - the year in which President Roosevelt's New Deal legislation started taking effect - as 'the triumph of our socialist revolution,'" [Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill] said. "Given that the federal government and its role in our lives is your major responsibility if you're appointed to the D.C. circuit court, I hope you can understand why some people have taken great issue with statements you have made and the philosophy which you bring before this committee."

[Federal appellate nominee Janice Rogers Brown] said she was speaking to an audience of young law students and was trying to make them think. But she stood by the statements. "The speech speaks for itself," she said.

"A Good Farmer" ~ A Great Nation 

Do yourself a favor and fork over $2.95 for the November 3, 2003 issue of the Nation. Then read Barbara Kingsolver's article titled A Good Farmer. Because you won't regret it. And because its not posted online. At least not yet. Also read, in the same issue, John Nichols excellent article Needed: A Rural Strategy (posted online). Just buy the goddamed thing and read it because I suspect that it won't be long before many on the the so-called liberal left go back to characterizing "farmers" and "rural" folk as slackjawed goobers and corporate welfare sucking banjo playin' Jesus shoutin' hayseed parasite hicks. It doesn't matter that most of the Jesus shoutin' parasitic corporate welfare sucking culture war Christian Hick Nation hoo-doo originates from the basements of urban right wing elitist think tanks and multimillion dollar televangelist fun houses and corpoate office parks in expensive Virginia suburbs. (and other hotbeds of theo-corporatist fascism) From people who wouldn't know a real farmer or a real yokel if one dropped a fucking barn full of shit on their heads.

The sanctimonious self-important slackjawed company store courtesans at CNN and MSNBC and FoxNoise are of course more than willing to wallow in whatever shit is dropped on them as long as the price is right and their hair isn't mussed up. Character doesn't really matter to these people....its all about characterization - and The Cult of Personality.

People like Paul Wellstone and Woody Guthrie knew it, but of course they're both dead.


I did happen to catch a President Make Believe moment, speaking in Indonesia, babbling about the wonders of diversity and virtues of a pluralistic society. (Don't know if anyone else has blogged on this because I haven't had a chance to look)

But - Uhm...So whats the double talkin' hypocrisy deal this time? I thought diversity and pluralism was one of liberalisms great cultural demons gnawing at the fabric of our fabulous Christian Nation? At least thats the windy drift we were fed for years from from right wing culture warrior think tank bedwetters and the smug and self delighted Joe Scarborough and shrews like David Horowitz and Pat Buchannan and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and Rush Loodbaugh and on and on...and almost every fat preening overfed TV-Evangelist puffball that slides down the slop-shoot of cable TVnews-noise and right wing squawk radio.

Then again, he ain't called President Make Believe for nothin'.

Mantreemony Protection Week... 

An appeal to cultural conservatives / arguments for the institution of mantreemony.

Chastity and Purity and a Short History of Johhny Appleseed
Naturally one wouldn't want to be having actual sexual relations with an apple tree. Occasional hugging of course, but carnal funny business- NO. Sex is degrading and clammy and sweaty and mostly the fevered obsession of preening overfed fundamentalist Evangelical jackdaws and drunken rutting Catholics. Otherwise most people don't give it much thought one way or another. And certainly there is nothing particularly clammy or sweaty or degrading about an apple tree. This isn't about sex anyway. This is about civil union or marriage or apple husbandtree or whatever the hell you want to call it. Likewise, sex and marriage are two entirely different matters as anyone who has ever participated in either ritual understands. Plus, having sex with a tree is ridiculous. Its a fucking tree for christ sake. And besides, my apple tree has only one small hole in the trunk and god only knows whats living in it. Could be the great possum is living in there, or a nest of squirrels, even a downy woodpecker, and if I were to.....well you know, I shudder to think of it.

Also. Apple trees only get pregnant when Johnny Chapman Appleseed frolics about in the countryside each May blowing magic kisses into the wind while waving his magic pollination wand around and calling upon his children to be fruitful and multiply. Which sounds kind of like what I imagine a Log Cabin Republican voter registration drive might be like. In any case, Johnny Appleseed is not a Log Cabin Republican. First of all, he's married to Idhunn, keeper of the apples of perpetual youth and daughter of Svald the Scandinavian dwarf. Secondly, unlike Johnny Appleseed, Log Cabin Republicans don't actually live in log cabins. They live in tax shelters in Florida and beach houses on Fire Island. Which is why there aren't any apple trees on Fire Island. At least I don't think there are. Maybe there are. If there are it was almost certainly a youthful first time voter indescretion on the part of young Johnny. But, more likely, an apple seed popped out of the Big Apple and floated right up past Breezy Point and past Jones Beach and landed at Fire Island. Just like when Andrew Sullivan floated into Cape Cod Bay aboard the Mayflower and discovered Provincetown.

And besides that... if Johnny Appleseed were a Log Cabin Republican then you'd have wispy Pink Pampass Grass sprouting up everywhere from Appalachia to Applerouth Lane to Apple Valley California. Johnny Appleseed would be called Johnny Pampass Grass and New York City would be called the Big Johnny and you'd be bobbing for Pink Pampass Grass on Halloween and drinking Pink Pampass Grass juice for breakfast. Imagine Rush Limbaugh holed up in a tax shelter in Florida chasing back fistfuls of Seconal with a shot of fresh squeezed Pampass Grass juice each morning. Never happen.

Historical note: There are no apple trees in Florida because Idhunn, being of Scandinavian rootstock, refuses to travel in hot weather.

Yeah yeah....I know, its all stupid bullshit. But I'm busy and haven't had time to keep up with the news.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Seymour Hersh on background of The Plame Affair 

Read the whole thing in The New Yorker (No, I don't miss Tina a bit).

No nukes, lying exiles, neo-cons hearing what they want to hear, Cheney's closed mind, OBL taking a backseat to the Iraqi obsession ...

But here's one very interesting tidbit. Of the forged yellowcake papers from the Italian services that gave rise to the 16 words fiasco:

Once the documents were in Washington, they were forwarded by the C.I.A. to the Pentagon, he said. “Everybody knew at every step of the way that they were false—until they got to the Pentagon, where they were believed.”

The documents were just what Administration hawks had been waiting for.

Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is nothing approaching a consensus on this question within the intelligence community.

[A former senior C.I.A. officer] had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

“The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here’s what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the SISMI[Italian] intelligence.

The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush ...

Funny how the retired operatives assumed that (a) there was any intelligence analysis going on at all on the road to war, and (b) that anyone from the Bush regime is capable of appearing or even experiencing a sense of shame or embarassment.

Krugman's book 

Excellent review in The New York Review of Books (via The Horse) but The Daily Howler gives the usual incomparable perspective.

Philly mayoral election and Republican thuggery 

Our story thus far for those outside of Philly:

The mayoral election is very tight, with a (black) Democrat incumbent, Street, running against a (white) Republican, Katz. Last week, an FBI bug was discovered in Street's mayoral offices, and the FBI carted away papers from various municipal offices. Street says (and no one has contradicted this) that he is a "subject" of the investigation, not a "target"—i.e., he is not threatened with indictment. Meanwhile, Katz actually is being sued by a former business partner for shady business practices, but this story never seems to make the front pages.

Now Street may not be the greatest mayor. But there are some of us who find the timing just a little odd... And some of us ask whether, given that the Mayor's office is regularly swept for bugs, whether the bug was meant to be discovered when it was, just before the election...

Anyhow, the letters have begun to appear, with "silly" apparently being the new winger meme for the idea that, well, the Republicans might just be playing for keeps (i.e, for a one-party state). Here's the argument I like the most for why Democrats should support Katz even though he's a Republican:

If anything, a Republican mayor may bolster the Democratic organization. The desire to unseat a GOP mayor may make Democrats more motivated, thus increasing Democratic turnout in other elections.

Right. Kind of like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, because when you stop, it feels so good.

Anyhow, after a billion dollars worth of winger funding led to the slow-moving, media-fuelled attempted coup against Clinton, after Florida 2000, after Texas, and after California, maybe there's good reason for Democrats to think that the Republicans might, just might, be taking an interest in a mayoral election in the largest city in Pennsylvania, a swing state.... A state where Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum is the kind of Pennsylvanian Republican who's really pretty middle of the road, if you're not from Philly or Pittsburgh...

My view: As usual, the Republicans are playing for keeps. Having taken over the parking authority, the convention center, and the public schools, they now want the whole thing. And why wouldn't they? (Every time they ram another parking garage into historic center city, it's not only more pollution for us and a degraded streetscape, it's money for their patronage operation. We have a winner!)

And suppose that Street is guilt of graft and corruption, which nobody is claiming he is. Given the crony capitalism under the Republican yoke in DC—Say, is Ken Lay in jail yet? Just asking—makes any mayor look like a piker. In fact, given the fraud and theft on the grandest possible scale under Bush, a little "honest graft" (as Boss Tweed put it) would a positive return to progressive values.

So, as usual in politics, things come down to a choice of lesser evils: And given that electing Katz could hand a swing state to Bush, I'm voting for Street.

Who hired David Brooks, anyhow? 

What flaccid prose Brooks writes, to be sure:

Democrats have nominated presidential candidates who try to figure out Middle American values by reading the polls, instead of feeling them in their gut. If they do it again, the long, slow slide will continue.

I love it when conservatives try to "help" the Democrats. It's cute, and it doesn't do any harm, as long as we put whatever they say out of our minds as soon as we've finished reading it.



"My references to Judeo-Christian roots in America or our nation as a Christian nation are historically undeniable," Boykin's statement said.

Cover up those coffins 

Dan Milbak of WaPo writes:

Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets.

To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.


For a long time, people have treated deaths as the proxy for the intensity of the war, not the number of wounded, and this is howIraq has been covered.

However, our troops now have new body armor; great stuff, but only covers the torso. The good news is that deaths are lower than they would have been in past wars; the bad news is that wounds are a lot worse, since a round that once would have killed and taken of an arm now just takes off the arm; and the better marksmen don't aim for the torso any more. This is the reason for the photos and stories about amputations, which the regime has not yet figured out how or whether to suppress.

And we put our troops into this based on lies.

UPDATE: Alert reader MJS suggests:

Can we have an Internet Day of Mourning for the deaths and injuries visited upon our soldiers and upon the people of Iraq? Complete with "illegal" images?

Good idea!

I Married D'Arcy Spice 

Mantreemony Protection Week PART II.
Nine talking points arguing the merits of treehugging and the benefits of mantreemony.
Previously: I Married a McIntosh" / PART I - point 1

PART II points 2 and 3

2- Fortitude, Resignation, Patience:
My feathered maiden is sound of limb and strong of trunk. A good apple tree can stand in a pasture wearing only what mother nature gave her, for months at a time, enduring the worst of winter's raw ungodly bark biting persecutions. Even if its five degrees outside for twenty one days in a row. You try that some time tough guy. But even so, little Vista Bella will be no worse for the wear and look especially fresh and beautiful the following spring when prospects for pollination hangs thick in the dells. All flush with the rosy pink blush of new floretes basking in the warm afternoon sun. Hello my little Duchess, what a lovely day for a picnic!

3- Contemplative, Benevolent, Practical:
Simply put, without an apple tree there is no apple pie for the picnic. A 100% all American apple pie. Just like apple trees have been providing for centuries. With names like Granny Smith, Maypole, Honeycrisp, Fortune, Enterprise, Liberty, Freedom, Discovery, Rome Beauty, Northern Spy, McIntosh, Jupiter and Mollies Delicious. Hows that for some heritage and tradition? Hmm?

To put it plain spokenlike, you can even eat your own offspring! You can even let wild animals eat your own offspring if you like. Uh, talking apples here by the way, so lets not get too jumpy. Anyway, try feeding little Billy or Sally Sue to wild animals. You can't do it. Well, you can, but its illegal and the screaming is something awful, enough to drive you right over the edge. And don't try to tell me that a baked apple pie or fresh homemade applesauce or drinking apple cider is a form of genocide or infanticide. Its not. Its applecide. In absolute black and white terms there is the good cide and the bad cide and the term apple cider derives its meaning from the good cide. Its not the same thing as those other bad cides, so please, lets keep this all in persepctive. I don't want some babbling half cooked meatball from the Apple Defense League shooting holes through my kitchen window one morning while I'm buttering a fresh baked apple muffin or trying to explain to the lady from child protective services how little Billy managed to get himself attacked by owls.

Furthermore, without apple pies there are no bake sales and no apple pie a la mode. There are only incestuous ice cream social fundraiser events. Which will lead to the love of pleasure, and perverted unnatural relationships such as French Vanilla Cough Syrup Swirl parfaits and sundaes topped with chunks of hotdog and yellow rice sprinkles. Lactose intolerance, gluttony, and confusion brought on by a myriad of lesser flavors all competing for vain glorious polytheistic ice cream supremacy which will turn our nation into a pluralistic parlor of debauched ice cream blasphemies and false idols. Like some kind of horrible Hieronymus Bosch meets Baskin Robbins nightmare. The traditional family unit will be reduced to an orgy of depraved ice cream saturnalia and virtue will melt away faster than an Eskimo Pie in hell.

Its important for conservatives to remember that the union of man and tree reinforces the traditional American family institutions of charity bake sales and picnics and pie a la mode. Thereby strenghtening the character of our nation and people as a whole. Afterall, its the apple pie that provides the foundation for the a la mode. Otherwise, all is lasciviousness and frozen deceit. Or even worse, Texas yellowcake a la mode - topped with whipped angry white froth, wing-nuts and hot thirty weight motor oil. Who wants that kind of crap in their picnic basket. I ask ya.

Tomorrow: Part III

Monday, October 20, 2003

From The Annals Of "Hmmm...." 

Top Business News from The New York Times

- Citigroup Posts 20% Increase in Third-Quarter Earnings
- U.S. Posts Record $374.22 Billion Budget Gap

The juxtaposition - theirs, not mine - has some of the force of haiku.

Reflecting its vast size, Citigroup earned more than any company in the world last year, generating $15.3 billion of net income. It has earned more than $4 billion in each of the last three quarters.

Hmm...so even this giant among giants earned in three months what we the people are spending per month on our occupation of Iraq, minus reconstruction costs. They'd have had to borrow to meet that expense. Oh, that's right, so do we, the people, have to borrow that money. And we're able to, because of the power of government to tax. Because institutions that can loan that kind of money, or buy whatever paper IOUs plus interest our government issues know that the US of A will raise taxes before it defaults on interest payments.

Ever wonder who gets those interest payments on our debt? I've checked among my fairly wide circle of friends, not a one of them, as far as they know. Sorry, I don't have the answer, but I'd sure like to know, cue informed readers.

"It is very clear their earnings model is working," said Robert Albertson, chief strategist at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, a New York investment bank. "The only question is about the loan-loss provision."

Most analysts were not expecting that Citigroup's provision for bad loans would decline as sharply as it reported today.

But Citigroup and other big banking companies were under intense pressure from regulators to increase loan-loss reserves a year ago, Mr. Albertson said. That pressure has decreased over the last 12 months.

"It was a big mess a year ago," Mr. Albertson said. "Now we have cleaned up the mess, and this is a normal number. Time after time at the end of a cycle, the banks always over-reserve at the end."

"Given how big they are and that they reflect a pretty good microcosm of corporate and consumer financial conditions, it was good news" that Citigroup sharply cut its loan loss provision, said Guy Moszkowski, an analyst at Merrill Lynch. "But beyond that, the revenue trends from last quarter, which were basically flat, were not spectacular."

Comments by informed readers as to the implications of the above are welcomed and will be shared with other readers.

I'm not suggesting any of us should begrudge Citigroup any good news. And Mr. Moszkowski, despite his hesitation to pronounce revenue trends to be "spectacular," has listed Citigroup stock as "buy." Yes, the economy is recovering, the business cycle is reasserting it's up phase, but all is not right with the world.

When Max "speaks" I do tend to listen and I think he's right about the folly of liberals becoming orthodox deficit hawks. And the current announced deficit, though a record-setter, is less than the administration's own prediction. The real issue is what we're buying with all that borrowing? Nor does it help that the administration flat out lies about how much of the deficit is the result of tax cuts, and how easily that deficit can be managed in the future, not to mention the not so hidden agenda of starving the Federal government to undermine it's ability to do what the vast majority of Americans have made clear, again and again, they want their government to do, that is, to maintain the physical and social infrastructure that undergirds the very notion of the American dream.

Administration officials warned the deficit, which they blame on sluggish government revenues and rising expenses related to the war on terrorism, may be even larger in the current 2004 budget year, which began Oct. 1.

``Although the deficit is still projected to increase in 2004, and will likely exceed $500 billion even with a strengthening economy, we can put the deficit on a responsible downward path if we continue pro-growth economic policies and exercise responsible spending restraint,'' said Joshua Bolten, who heads the White House's Office of Management and Budget, in a statement issued with the budget figures.

Treasury Secretary John Snow said a rebounding economy should help the budget going forward. ``As the economy grows, government revenues will go up, which will help keep the deficit under control,'' he said in a statement.

Under their control, that is. Remember, according to the President, when the Federal government posts a surplus, it's been overcharging someone. Apparently, it doesn't work in reverse.


Daily attacks on the troops in Iraq: 22.

Rhymes with "witch" 

Babs sticks up for her boy.

First Laura and Chirac, now "American's favorite grandmother" (yeah, right). aWol's hiding behind his women awfully early, isn't he?

Meanwhile, aWol's Dad chimed in, accusing Democratic contenders of using "vicious rhetoric." If you can't stand the heat, Mr. Horton ....

Winning hearts and minds 

From Stars and Stripes:

Spc. Joshua Breig of the 203rd Enginineer Battalion goes headfirst into the pool at Freedom Rest, a rest and recuperation hotel opened Saturday by the 1st Armored Division Task Force for its soldiers. The facility was once an officers club for Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.

Man, if I were an Iraqi sweltering with no AC... All I can say is that I'd wish I had a pool too ...

Taking over one of Saddam's officers club for ourselves... Is there any wonder some Iraqis might think of us as an occupying power?

Well, there are felons and felons 

So the whistleblower college student who cracked the airline security system with box cutters, and then told the feds about it faces felony charges.

Meanwhile, the leaker in The Plame Affair—also a potential felon—who certainly did actual damage to our national security... Well, haven't heard too much about that... Though I'm sure Ashcroft and his career prosecutors are making great progres...

I Married a McIntosh - Part 1 

National Mantreemony Protection Week

Today, Oct. 20, kicks of the second anniversary of President Pontius Skybox Pilot's National Character Counts Week October 20 through October 26. Originally decreed in the year of our Lord 2002. Which follows hot upon the high heels of this years "Marriage Protection Week" (translate: National Don't Marry One Of Those Week) which is officially ended but not really over by any hyperventilated stretch of the pop-eyed partisan right wing fundamentalist Christian imagination.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, the farmer, blogger and resident of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 20 thru 26, 2003, as National Mantreemony Protection Week to coincide with the annniversary of National Character Counts Week. Each go branch in hand.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of October, in the year of the Great Possum two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth. ~ the farmer

I am a serious treehugger and I'm gettin' hitched.
I have decided to marry, during a quiet private ceremony at my own home, the lovely little apple tree in my backyard. Because I love the apple tree in my backyard and because I think its the most beautiful apple tree in any backyard anywhere in the entire world of apple trees and backyards. Its the apple tree of my wandering spiritual eye. Oh sure, a few bad spots and an occasional late spring hoar frost that kills some blossoms every so often, if ya know what I mean, but thats all part of the growing old and gad-awful-ugly together thing. Whatever. Any way you look at it I still get all woody just thinking of her standing out there in the meadow, among the bluebirds and bees, overflowing with crisp Golden Delicious goodness and blushing like a Yellow Bellflower June bride.

I'm also hoping that strict family values conservative specimens, especially men-folk of the Christian conservative nomenclature, will strongly back me in my efforts to legally wed my little pippin, thereby allowing each of us to enjoy all the legal rights and benefits such a union provides. Thus providing a stable foundation from which to begin putting down the first rootstocks in our very own family orchard.

Therefore, I have provided a breakdown of nine good reasons why I think such legal civil unions should be easily acceptable to those conservatives who would argue otherwise. Rather, I propose that such man on tree arrangements are well within the bounds of traditional family values and imposing biblical decrees, canons, curfews, and other such hallowed squalls.

And hey, lets face it... if George W Bush were to dress up like Davy Crockett, stuff his basket with Cornish Gillyflowers and strut around the public square in Apple Springs Texas pretending he's Sir Edward Victor Appleton the Nobel physicist who discovered the F layer of the ionosphere, he'd be pronounced a seraph of the first order of angels by Joel Mowbray and a cinch for re-election to six more consecutive terms! So I don't think my humble proposal is all that weird or too far out on a limb.

Yup, character matters - and apple trees are dripping with ripe heavenly character. Therefore, I offer the following case on behalf of the sacred institution of mantreemony (pronounced: man - tree - mony), treehuggers everywhere, and as an appeal to those who cherish traditional family values. For better or worse.

1- Faithful, Humble, Industrious:
Apple trees are exemplars of fidelity and gentle domestication, an asset to any family garden and they love working in the kitchen. Your apple tree will never talk back or walk out on you. Apple trees won't just up and leave if they become upset with you. An apple tree won't run off with some stunted little shrub or cockspur thorn while you're off digging for grubs at the base of the rotten money tree. When you wake up each morning your apple tree is right there where it should be, all covered with fresh morning dew and blossom wilt. Right where you left her the night before. Good morning my little Collet you will burble each morning for better or worse - you made a lovely apple-betty last night.

Tomorrow - point 2 / Fortitude, Resignation, Patience...

Bush league diplomacy 

Mike Allen and Glenn Kessler of WaPo here:

BANGKOK -- President Bush said yesterday that he is willing to commit to a written guarantee not to attack North Korea in exchange for steps by the country toward abandoning its nuclear weapons programs.

"We will not have a treaty," Bush said during a photo session with Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. "That's off the table."

Hmm.... "written guarantee" but "no treaty"... Maybe Bush thinks he couldn't get a treaty through the Senate? Who knows?

Meanwhile, why on earth would anyone believe Bush about anything? First thing the administration does when it gets into office is tear up every treaty they can think of. Then they lie their way into a war. Actions have reactions...

Scientists discover way to generate electricity by pushing water through a tube 


I never grasped the connection between aWol pissing away the Clinton surplus and our energy policy before ... No wonder Cheney kept those task force records secret! He didn't want to give away the undisclosed location of the tubes....

Pooper scoopers for aWol use leaks 

WaPo's Dana Priest writes:

Officials Correct Bush on Indonesia
President Bush misspoke when he said last week that the United States was ready to "go forward with" a new package of military training programs with Indonesia, according to a White House official questioned about the president's remarks.

Asked to explain Bush's remarks, a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "We want to move ahead with increased military-to-military cooperation with Indonesia, which is in both of our interests.

"Progress in building a broader military-to-military relationship with Indonesia," he said, however, "will be pinned on continued cooperation from Indonesia on the investigation into the murders of two Americans" near the town of Timika, in Papua. "The investigation is moving forward due to the improved cooperation by the Indonesia government."

Oops! A leak! Wasn't it just yesterday that Bush said he didn't want any leaks?

Ever wonder why drugs are cheaper in Canada? 

Could be be... it's because they have a single payer system that can exert market power over big pharma?

So why are we tinkering around the edges and arguhing about importing drugs? Why not just fix the problem?

The monkey trap 

Nice column and metaphor by WaPo's William Raspberry, recently woken from slumber.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Just plain pitiful 


"All we want is to be in the room when the decisions are made."

Oh? You don't actually want to make the decisions? What a farce!

Plame Affair being successfully buried 

Google ("Plame"):


And again Google ("Joseph Wilson"):


Ha ha 


The search for "Elvis" - the troops' nickname for Saddam ... goes on ...

Says it all, doesn't it?

And way to manage that morale, Rummy!

Why is it that... 

... the wingers always use anecdotes, and the liberals use statistics and cite sources?

Over the weekend, I've read Krugman, Hightower, and Ivins... Wow... Go thou and do likewise.

Mr. Innocent Bystander 

Howie the Whore with the air of innocent bewilderment that becomes him so well:

Mainstream journalism, with its traditional parameters, has somehow failed to connect with the notion that there are lots of Americans who walk around sputtering about Dubya -- despite fairly healthy approval ratings for a third-year incumbent. The press was filled with stories about Clinton-haters, but Bush-hating is either more restrained or more out of control, depending on who's keeping score. ...

I love it... "Somehow failed to connect"...

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

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