Saturday, January 17, 2004

Triumph of Industry 

Wal Mart. Need I say more?

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Not Going To Mars 

It seems that, although we won't be sending anyone to Mars until 2015 or so, the Hubble Space Telescope has lost its funding as of today. That Bush could use an election-year ploy like going to Mars, which costs too much and won't happen under his administration anyway, to kill one of the most successful NASA missions since the original moon landing, is interesting. I'm gonna go on a limb and say that this is the only thing that comes out of the Mars plan besides blog entries.

Not That Anyone Cares 

But the American Casualties in Iraq just hit 500. It's buried in the news underneath headlines about how celebrities aren't commenting on the Michael Jackson case.

Religious Police Denounce American Poster Campaign 

And it's not even Saudi Arabia! There's been some protest by the new third branch of Government, the Religious Right, over the idea that an American embassy would be preaching tolerance of gay and lesbians in Macedonia. Now we have a photo of the offending ad, which has different scenes of people comforting each other, some of whom happen to be of the same gender. This is something conservatives "Don't want their children to see." I'm not sure how our new government works, whether the War Branch or the Corporate Branch have veto power, but it seems like the billboards are coming down without their consultations anyway.

Movie Time 

The Corporation is a movie by the guy who did "Manufacturing Consent," the "Noam Chomsky Movie That Got Banned." It looks really good. It's currently playing in Canada, so if you want to check it out in your lifetime you should catch a plane ticket to Toronto.

As relentlessly damning in its deconstruction of corporate history and "culture" as Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine was in its assault on American gun craziness, The Corporation — which features Moore, along with Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, Naomi Klien, Howard Zinn and others, its anti-corporate diagnostic witnesses — is also every bit as media-savvy.

Unchecked Corporate Power isn't good for anyone, left or right, and I'm always amazed by anyone who thinks that corporations should be allowed to rule with few regulations, in the spirit of free market capitalism. Capitalism was a system designed to assure the greatest level of opportunity for all people, and when it hinders that expansion it should be adjusted, pure and simple. The idea that this is "communist" glosses over the fact that corporations are causing problems for our society that are overwhelming the good they bring. I'm all for limitations on corporate assets, but not on individual wealth or ownership. But there should be some degree of support for small business, there should be some amount of accountability for corporations to employ the people they sell products to, and to pay taxes for the services they use to deliver those goods. There ought to be some degree of transparency and accountability as well. These ideas shouldn't be "radical" and I don't actually think that they are. Institutions were built to serve society, and if that relationship becomes lopsided, it is in danger of becoming totalitarian.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Suddenly, I Like Them All.  

If you're fed up with politbloggers pontificating publicly on their personal assessments of the weaknesses and strengths of presidential candidates, skip this entry. I just find myself faced with an odd feeling- maybe it's because I've already voted, or maybe it's because of Kerry's surge to the peaks of Zogby's Margin of Error, but looking at the candidates speak, I am finding something to like about all of them.

Despite my floundering between him and Clark, Howard Dean got my vote. (An actual, real absentee ballot.) The reasons for Dean are numerous. He's brought back to life the Democratic party. Even if he fails in getting the nomination (unlikely, but possible) he has managed to change the nature of the Democratic party. He had, initially, cut out polling data from his campaign and spoke without rehearsal (for better or for worse- and usually for better). He was firm on the war, which was a huge point for me. His courage in Vermont- a Governor guaranteed re-election is later forced to wear a bullet proof vest for taking an unpopular stance- makes him a civil rights leader. No matter what happens with his campaign, when the book on the struggle for gay rights is written, he's going to be there. His issues, when I saw him speak, made sense to me, so does his dedication to fiscal responsibility and socially progressive issues.

I've been mostly annoyed with the candidates for their attacks on Dean, but now that we're all in the field, and I am forced to reckon with the possibility that any of them could win, it's made me look at each of them as a potential president, and I like them all.

Wesley Clark is also really starting to look good. I initially liked him- I was in the "Draft Clark" movement even while I was phone banking for Dean- but fell off when I learned he voted for Nixon and Reagan. I still don't know what the fuck that was all about, but his being a Military man, it's maybe coming from a different place. I believe he's a sincere Democrat now. Watching him with Aaron Brown on CNN during the war, standing up for protestors at a moment when war support was at a frothing high, I liked him as a person, before he was a candidate. I like this: "Under Wes Clark's Families First Tax Reform, a family of four making up to $50,000 will pay no federal income taxes and all taxpaying families with children making up to $100,000 will get a tax cut." (Though I worry about the deficit.) I like that he's looking at a 20 year plan instead of four or eight. I liked him at the Rock the Vote debate, when, wearing a black turtle neck sweater, he talked passionately about the rights of gays and lesbians- because he is the only guy who can do that without getting assailed by the moderate conservative voters. (If Dean ever tried that shit, he'd be out of the race by now). I like that he's kind of a weird guy in a very Presidential way. I still believe Wesley Clark could be the nominee- but I'm afraid of what his "push to the center" would look like after the nomination.

Dick Gephardt and John Edwards are interesting, personally. Gephardt has done a lot, as a politician, but he's not an exciting candidate, and that worries me. I know everyone says that Gephardt would do a great job beating Bush, but I really think he might be one of the weakest possible front runners. I think John Edwards is the exact opposite. I think Edwards has a ton of charisma, would excite voters, stay positive and could actually win, but his experience is weak on paper. But it's actually been time brilliantly spent. He's chosen the right issues to go after, he's been using his own money to win. As a person, he's amazing, working his way through college and all that, "the son of a mill worker." I think he's likeable. I think he'd be a great VP.

I don't trust John Kerry or Joe Lieberman. I would vote for them, but I would feel a sense of disappointment if they won. John Kerry because he was in the Vietnam War and voted for the Unprovoked Iraq Invasion anyway, on the basis, I suspect, of a recommendation of the Democratic National Committee. A Presidential Race between John Kerry and George Bush would ask the question: Who do you want, the guy who lied to us, or the guy who betrayed us? I suppose I'd take Judas over Caesar.

As for Dennis Kucinich, well. I like him. But the idea that he's electable doesn't float with me; neither does the idea that he will win the nomination. And while I admire his record as a congressman, and though I think he is a rare animal- a sincere politician- I just don't think he should, or could, be President. God bless him on a run for Governor, or Senate. I'd give money to that campaign.

Who don't I like? I don't trust Joe Lieberman because he's a Republican. But he's less corrupted, Republican Lite as they say. I don't like Al Sharpton because racial division- not unity- is his sole claim to power. Not that he's got much of a shot anyway.

Holy Shit, Indeed. 

A little analysis of the Bush As Christ political strategy, with pictures that are absolutely unbelievable. Of course Bush is Christ, it goes hand in hand with the Bush message that America is a nation full of victims.

30,000 Iraqis March For Real Democracy 

The Iraqi Election Process

I know you're shocked, but Bush's version of Democracy in Iraq is not quite representational Democracy. Much like his own election, it circumvents a popular vote. Makes you wonder what "Democracy" is, exactly.

And doesn't this bring back memories:

"Underpinning Sistani's objections to the current plan is a fear that the United States or established political parties may try to manipulate the votes of the caucus members or even buy votes outright, undercutting both the power of the Shiites and the credibility of the transitional government among all Iraqis. "We have a fear that something, someone, would try to manipulate the whole process, and that is not in the interests of Iraqis, of Muslims and of Shiites," Mehdi said."

The whole article is fascinating, as is this piece of backstory. It's really shocking that the American media is ignoring the entire process of restructuring Iraq's government, which is just as disorganized as the military element of the war. The secondary focus of the war is the ridiculously American-centric "rebuilding", which is pretty much just the process of handing out contracts.

Obviously, a Democratic Iraq wouldn't neccesarily yield American-friendly results. But, you know, Bush probably should have thought of that before we invaded thier country in order to facilitate a working Democracy. Or rather, before he made that the priority after the terrorism/WMD excuses fell through.

Calvin Woodward Strikes Twice 

The AP repeats a seriously bizarre slam on Dean's numbers:

Dean comes up with his finding that a majority of taxpayers only got $304 by looking at the lowest-earning 60 percent. Because many in that group pay little or no federal income tax to begin with, they don't save much from the Bush tax cuts.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center says it would be just as accurate, but misleading, for Bush to look at the highest-earning 60 percent of taxpayers and tell people the majority of Americans are getting almost $2,000 from his tax cuts.

I may have missed class when they went over this, but I could have sworn that anything over 50% is a majority? Is 60% somehow exempt all of a sudden? I mean, 60% is a majority of the population when you go by lowest income, and 40% is, you know, not a majority. I also seriously doubt that 60% of America's lowest wage earners "pay little or no federal income tax to begin with".

This is the second time they've pulled this shit, too. (By "they" I guess I should specifically say "Calvin Woodward", who is safe from getting adopted-journalist treatment because he's a "commentator.")

Judge Pickering is In! 

Hey, hey! As his birthday gift to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, President Bush has appointed Charles Pickering to the Federal Appeals Court on a "recess appointment" meaning that your elected officials have no say in whether he's in or out. Democrats had been blocking his nomination, and since Bush is a "uniter not a divider," as soon as Democrats couldn't do anything he gave Pickering the job anyway. Pickering is best suited for the position based on his civil rights record, including this case:

The case concerned the burning of an eight-foot cross by two men and a juvenile on the lawn of an interracial couple with a young child. The juvenile and one of the men, described as borderline mentally retarded, pleaded guilty and received reduced sentences. The third, described by the Justice Department as the leader of the conspiracy, refused to plead and was convicted after a trial. [...] Pickering took unusual and ethically questionable steps in getting the government to drop the charge with the mandatory minimum and acquiesce in a shorter sentence. Click here if you don't trust my ellipses.

These "unusual steps" included calling higher up judges to try to shorten the group leader's sentence. It's also not necessarily the issue of this case, so much as a long history of blindness to civil rights issues, including his votes against bills that helped African Americans vote.

I Knew I Wasn't Crazy 

News Coverage of Howard Dean is more biased than news coverage of any other candidate. "The study found that 49 percent of the coverage of former Vermont Gov. Dean was positive, compared to 78 percent of the rest of the Democratic field, collectively."

South Park Libertarians 

Reason Online has an article about the political slant of various adult cartoons. One of them, which has been really interesting to me, is the Right-Wing (but not conservative) agenda of "South Park."

There was an episode recently that skewered Rob Reiner and the anti-tobacco crusade and painted cigarette companies as happy people who want you to relax after work. There are several endorsements of religion, albeit a humanistic religion. They argued for the proliferation of free market capitalism by favoring a Starbucks over a local coffee competitor.

But what South Park embraces certainly isn't a "republican" agenda, it's a libertarian one, as is pointed out in the above article. But it seems more to be a sensical libertarianism- human values are still kept in some perspective. It's socially progressive libertarianism. It's what "compassionate conservatives" are supposed to be.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Racial Sensitivity In Bizarro World 

This happened in the UK:

"Mr Rose was sacked from Blundeston Prison, near Lowestoft, in May 2002, after he aggressively threw a set of keys down a metal chute at the prison gatehouse, and jokingly claimed Bin Laden’s picture was at the bottom of it. He made the remarks two months after the September 11 attacks in 2001 after a staff notice had been issued, a fortnight after the terror attack, asking officers to “have continued sensitivity” as the prison had many Muslim inmates.

Isn't the notion that inmates would be upset over an attack on Bin Laden more "racially insensitive" than the guy throwing his keys down a chute? Isn't that implying that, you know, Muslims are just crazy about terrorism?

Kill My SUV, Kill Me 

"SUVOA": The SUV Owners of America organization, dedicated to "give voice to the 24 million SUV owners whose rights are being trampled by special interest and activist groups, as well as to provide consumers with practical information about their SUVs." They've been flying under my radar since 1999. But they caught my eye with this press release:

The President told the nation, 'We have the terrorists on the run. We're keeping them on the run. One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.' Unfortunately within our borders a roving band of eco- terrorists is indeed on the run -- to the next SUV dealership or owner that they have targeted for devastation.

Now, I'm not a big fan of the ELF and the like, and I know that Bush loves going after the wrong guys, but I don't know, I feel like a group of SUV owners who don't want dealerships to be the victims of arson are going a little too far in calling it "terrorism." Terrorism is about widespread death, fear, and humiliation. Terrorism is about, you know, terror. Burning down an SUV dealership is not terrorism. Burning down an SUV dealership is a criminal act, it's an act of arson. There's a law against arson. If you want people to be more vigilant in prosecuting arsonists, that's fine. I'm on your side on that one. But "terrorism"? Don't tell me burning down an empty SUV dealership and the destruction of inanimate objects is anywhere close to on par with flying an airplane into a skyscraper and killing 3000 people.

The War on Drugs 

The War on Drugs has a devestating new weapon.

John Ashcroft Would Have Loved MLK Jr 

George W. Bush, who has done more for human rights than any other President, is planning on visiting Martin Luther King Jr's grave en route to a political fundraiser. There's already protest in the streets "with bullhorns, signs and thumping drums, shouting for the president to stay away."

"His administration has never supported anything to help the poor, education, or children," said the Rev. Raphael Allen, vice president of programs at Concerned Black Clergy. "It's all about isolationism and greed for the upper class. That's not promoting the legacy of Dr. King."

If Bush was president back when Martin Luther King Jr was around, you could just assume he would support those financial policies, presuming he hadn't been secretly arrested and tried under military tribunal after the bus boycott.

[edit: I thought he was going Monday, but he already went.]

Poll Fatigue 

A darkness is descending over Iowa, and it's not the RNC. It's a daily polling cycle in Iowa now, and Zogby's long shadow will block out the light of all rational political discourse across the blogosphere. Every day the sun is gonna rise to fluctuations in the margin of error that make headlines across the country, every 3 point lead proof positive of the emerging "anti Dean" and an ensuing discussion of which candidate has lost "momentum" in the previous 16 hours. When someone at the Dean blog says, "The next poll isn't for 8 more hours," you know you have entered the dark and maddening crack fix of primary politics.

Three reasons Iowa as a Zogby-driven horserace doesn't matter to me:

1. Clark and Lieberman aren't running there, Braun is out of the race, leaving only Dean, Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards as tangible candidates in a race that has inexplicably been expanded to include third place as a show of strength. The absence of Wesley Clark makes the state completely incapable of producing an estimate of any other candidates strength in other states. Also, Dick Gephardt's focus on keeping Iowa is unnaturally inflated by his appeal to moderates, which will be diluted by Lieberman's presence in later primaries, as well as his strong face-saving effort to win Iowa which is as much about the future of Gephardt's political influence as it is about his nomination.

2. Dean has been steady within the margin of error since the 8th, when he scored 25, now he scores 24 after scoring 28 yesterday, with a margin of error of four point five. Kerry's much discussed swing upwards is nothing much when you account for the margin of error. The end result is: It's going to be a close race, and we'll know the future when it gets here.

3. I work in New Hampshire, worked on the New Hampshire campaign, and I am jealous of Iowa.

Angry Howard Dean 

Spalding Gray Missing 

Spalding Gray has gone missing.

Spalding Gray was the author of one of my favorite novels, "Impossible Vacation", and his monologue, "Swimming To Cambodia", is one of the reasons I became interested in politics and political writing. He's difficult to explain- imagine a cross between a sedated Woody Allen and Ira Glass on acid. You can rent the video for "Swimming To Cambodia", performed as a monologue, for an example of his work. He's a brilliant guy and I hope he's just out collecting experiences for a book somewhere.

Moseley Braun Calls It Quits 

Rumor has it that Her Excellency Carol Moseley Braun has dropped out of the race, and only hours after she appeared on the Daily Show. I haven't been following Iowa too much- but she had less than 3% in Iowa, so it would be sheer poli-pundit masturbation to pretend it will have any real impact on the Iowa caucus. The above article mentions that she plans on endorsing Dean, "even as he has faced questions about his record on race issues" which is a bit of a media myth, considering the Black Commentator (you know this, right?) called one of his speeches "the most important statement on race in American politics by a mainstream white politician in nearly 40 years." If people heard what Dean had to say about racism- important precisely because he is from an nearly all-white state, and reflects this genuinely in his understanding of institutional racism- they might see that it is one of the key strengths of his campaign.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Ed Gillespies Blog 

I was over at the RNC blog- "Gillespie's Blog"- and noticed that there are absolutely no comments on the page. I assumed that there would be some interest from, you know, war bloggers and the like, or liberal denunciation. I was going to post a link to my blog, but then I got the "terms of service" and came across this:

Liability. Although the Republican National Committee will attempt to remove postings the contents of which are not in accordance with these Terms of Usage, you expressly waive your right to any damages in any way related to exposure to content posted on Gillespie’s Blog by any party other than the Republican National Committee. The Republican National Committee will, under no circumstances, be responsible for any loss, damages, or other injuries resulting from anyone’s use of Gillespie’s Blog.

Seems about right: "If you post your liberal bullshit here and get 'corrected' by a Nascar dad, you're on your own, fucker."

Start of A Deluge?  

More corroboration on O'Neill's accounts that Bush planned Iraq War prior to 9/11, this time, on the record: "Greg Thielmann, director of the Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the US State Department until his retirement last year."

"Mr Theilmann told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m afraid I think the American public was seriously misled.” The US administration “twisted, distorted, simplified” intelligence in a way that led Americans to “seriously misunderstand what the nature of the Iraq threat was”, he said. “I’m not sure I can think of a worse act against the people in a democracy than a President distorting critical information,” he said. “For a President to abuse that sacred trust ... is to me a very serious development.”

[c/o, whose version of this story is formatted in the ascii version of chicken scratch.]

Osama Bin Nader 

Speedkill has got a great post about Ralph Nader's North Carolina Campaign Manager being investigated for Terrorist links specifically because he was a Green Party member. Also worth reading is a troll's agreement in the comments section that Greens are Terrorists because they would close down factory farms, "essentially restricting American's ability to find food".

O'Neill's "Leaked" "Classified" Documents Have Been Online Since July 

Judicial Watch has had a copy of what could very well be the documents marked "Secret" that appeared on 60 Minutes during the O'Neill interview.

The article is fascinating in it's own right. Apparently, the Energy Task Force that Dick Cheney has been so secretive about for the last two years might be because the task force spoke openly of the Iraq Invasion prior to 9/11:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents [...] concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at: (Check the link if you don't trust my ellipses.)

Maybe I'm ringing the conspiracy bells too early, but is it too much to assume that, if the energy task force that Dick Cheney was desperate to keep secret was discussing Iraq and Iraqi Oil Contracts in 2001, then the war may not have been entirely about "terrorism" or "WMD's". One paper is called "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts". Sounds totally uncorrupted!

What We Were Told vs What We Got 

The Associated Press Published this in bare form today. It probably won't be in any other source, since it is intended as a sort of "cheat sheet" for reporters covering related stories. I hate to quote something off the AP verbatim and call it a "blog entry" but this is really amazing, so here it is:

Some changes in the government's fiscal condition since President Bush submitted his first budget to Congress in 2001.

-Bush's first budget projected annual surpluses from 2002 through 2011 would total $5.6 trillion, before his tax and spending proposals took effect. In its most recent projection last summer, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it expected $1.4 trillion in total deficits from 2004 through 2013 - excluding any future tax or spending changes.

-The cumulative national debt stood at $5.7 trillion when Bush took office, and his first budget proposed reducing it by $2 trillion over the next decade. Today, the debt stands at $7 trillion.

-Bush's first budget projected that in fiscal 2004 - which runs through next Sept. 30 - the government would spend $2.077 trillion. Instead it will spend $2.305 trillion, according to the latest CBO estimate.

Bush's first budget also estimated the government would raise $2.339 trillion in revenue this year. The CBO projects $1.825 trillion in revenue.

All together, the CBO has forecast a 2004 deficit of $480 billion - instead of the $262 billion surplus Bush predicted for this year in his first budget, assuming his policies were enacted.

White Trash Heroes 

An unbelievably intense response to Margaret Cho's stand up routine at the awards ceremony (You can check out the finalists here). I don't personally find that Cho is a comedianne I seek out when I'm ready for an all out laugh riot, but this response is fucking ridiculous, and I think it's hilarious that she's posted the emails with full names and contact information. (c/o Atrios)

This is what got them all worked up for lynching:

"For example, Judge Roy Moore, or Jay Moore or whatever, in Alabama. [inaudible] ... Ten Commandments statue stay in the lobby of a courthouse. 'You can't move the Word of God! You cannot remove the Franklin Mint edition of the Word of God!' [said in Southern accent] People are protesting there and like, I think it could have been solved so much easier if they had just placed a golden calf next to the statue and then people would have started worshipping that. And then they could have moved the Ten Commandments to Bush's office -- which he needs them, desperately. Or maybe he needs a new version of the Ten Commandments -- George W. Bush's Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal...votes. (big applause) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor' (big applause) Thou shalt not kill...for oil. (big applause) Thou shalt not take vain. (big applause) I mean, whatever fu--ing happened to separation of church and state? I mean, you can't like, impose your god on my god. God has many names. God is God, God is Jehovah, God is Allah, God is Buddah, God is Beyonce. (laughter) You know, you cannot impose your God on other people. And ah, George W. Bush is coming out with the weirdest stance on same-sex marriage as well. What he says about it is, well, 'well, we're all sinners.' No we're not! Just because somebody ate an apple one time does not make us all sinners. And if it was from the tree of knowledge, I think she should have eaten more than one. (laughter) Possibly even baked a pie." (applause) "I don't understand the whole same-sex marriage thing. He was quoted by saying, 'well, you you uh, just gotta take the speck out of your own eye before you take the co-- out of your neighbor's.'" [in Southern accent] (laughter)

My favorite joke of the evening would be Al Franken:

"I'm Al Franken. I'm here to present the funniest ad award. I'm a last-minute substitution, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was supposed to be the presenter, but unfortunately he was murdered."

Look for the Fox News headline: "Liberal Activist Al Franken Asserts Paul O'Neill Targetted For Assasination By Bush Administration."

O'Neill Corroboration 

A currently employed, and presumably, non-disgruntled, Bush Administration official who was at the same meeting O'Neill was talking about has corroborated his story. "The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces," the official told ABCNEWS. "That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force."

c/o Atrios

Another Myth Debunked 

Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle American troops, according to a document found with the former Iraqi leader when he was captured, Bush administration officials said Tuesday. - New York Times

Shockingly enough, it seems that the secular, communist Baathists had a different agenda from the Islamic Fundamentalist Al-Qaida Jihad. Who would have guessed a secular communist and an Islamic Fundamentalist wouldn't be best friends? (Apparently, if they both hate America, they must love each other- that's how powerful the United States is!)

On a related note, a poll conducted of my friend's sister's roommates found that 9 out of 9 college girls will vote for Bush again because of the war against Saddam Hussein, who deserved it because "he was responsible for 9/11." I propose the theory that political information takes a full year to disseminate into the minds of (non-activist) college students. In about 1 year, maybe they'll start questioning the link. That said, exposing people to this information might open up the groundswell of outrage that has so far been missing over how this bullshit has been conducted.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Is it too easy? Here's what passes for "a good point" over at the NRO. Regarding Howard Dean's wife staying off the campaign trail so that she can administer medicine to sick people:

I think you missed commenting on the most disturbing part of that quote. "I just think she should do what she needs to do for her own happiness and satisfaction." So, in light of these thoughts, how does Howard define marriage?

Jesus Christ, are you fucking serious? Would you prefer she wears a fucking Birka?

The Red Zone 

This Animal Keeps Its Head In The Sand.

An amazing interview with a reporter based in Iraq. Atrios has got this one too.

The CPA is a total mess, as should be pretty clear. It's actually kind of shocking. It's hard to even know where to start. You probably know all of this: the CPA is locked inside the Green Zone, this massive area in the heart of Baghdad that's protected by armed guards, tanks, and lots of big concrete walls. Most of the people in the Green Zone never leave, or only leave with massive army escort and then only to go directly to meetings in ministries. They call the area outside of the Green Zone, the Red Zone. In other words: all of Iraq is the Red Zone. So, very few people in the CPA have the slightest idea what's going through the minds of Iraqis. They either have brief conversations with people on the street, when they're surrounded by armed troops. Inevitably, the Iraqis tell them they are very happy with the US occupation. What else would they say? I never, ever meet Iraqis who are happy with the US occupation.


The ACLU is acting on behalf of Rush Limbaugh. c/o Buzzflash

The Election Trinity: Think Green, Donate Libertarian, Vote Democrat 

In an article discussing Ralph Naders potential presidential bid, it mentioned another "third party" candidate (There's more than three parties, by the way)- the Libertarian Gary Nolan, who wants to be "the Republican Ralph Nader." I think we should help him get 3% of the vote, what do you say? 3% of Republicans going to Nolan is 3% less for Bush. I say we make Gary Nolan a financial power house.

More on O'Neill's Allegations 

Tom Tomorrow has a great post that reveals the exact leftist folly I've been falling for. That is, now that we know that Bush planned to invade Iraq from pretty much step one of his administration, it's not only solid proof that the war was tied to 9/11 purely for convenience. It's also proof that Bush lied, numerous times, prior to 9/11.

For example, in his debate with Al Gore, which I have selected for it's full fledged irony, Mr. Spectacle declared: "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. I'm going to prevent that."

You can say "But 9/11 changed everything", but that isn't the point. The point is that within three months of making this statement, Bush was making plans to oust Saddam. So the above statement is as much a lie as when he was announced the winner of the White House: "Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect."

O'Neill Under Investigation 

Former Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who has been actively criticizing the Bush Administration's war on Iraq, Bush's managerial style and the sanity of his tax cuts, is now under investigation by the Bush Administration because he may have leaked classified documents related to pre-9/11 plans for the unprovoked war on Iraq.

Never mind that when Bob Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent on July 16th, an investigation to find the leaker wasn't launched until September 26th. This time around, Paul O'Neill appeared on "60 Minutes" on Sunday and on Monday morning the Treasury Department announced an investigation. Maybe the Treasury Department just has more resources for launching investigations than the Justice Department does?

I'm also noticing that Bush is saying nothing about the allegations themselves, but rather allowing a throng of Republican henchmen to come out and say things like, "Not since Julius Caesar have I seen such a blatant stab in the back - et tu, Mr O'Neill?" Really gets into the issues at hand, does it not?

But I ask: Et tu, Lieberman?

"What Paul O'Neill says there is what a lot of other people are beginning to conclude, that there was an overstatement by the Bush administration of the weapons-of-mass-destruction part of the argument for going to war against Saddam Hussein," [Lieberman] said. "But let me be really clear. I decided long before George Bush became president, more than a decade ago, that Saddam Hussein was a terrible tyrant, a brutal dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of his people, did have weapons of mass destruction because we know he used them against the Iranians and Kurds. [...] "He also supported terrorism. He was an enemy of the United States."

That's right. Lieberman is coming to the side of GW in his time of need. Good one, Joe, you really got the whole "speaking truth to power" thing down. I guess when the President says there are WMD's, and there aren't WMD's, then that's an "overstatement." I guess that when Saddam used Chemical Weapons against Iran and the Kurds in the 1980's that means "now". ("The 80's are totally back!")

I don't know why I have to repeat this all the time. I am glad Saddam is gone. But the idea that war was the only way to handle the overthrow of a ten-cent despot in a country filled with people who hated him just seems absurd, and it is even more absurd when you consider that it's been planned by Bush administration officials since 1998 (before they were even in office). In 6 years they couldn't have come up with a fucking assassination strategy? The question of whether the war is a "success" is a huge distraction from this question, because the answer is pretty simple: Weighing War vs an Assasination, the War was a miserable failure.

I should also point out that Bush's response to the criticism is, classically, a denial coupled with an admission. Here's what he said:

"And no, the stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear," Mr. Bush said at a news conference in Monterrey, Mexico, when asked whether he had begun planning within days of his inauguration for an invasion of Iraq. "Like the previous administration, we were for regime change."

"And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines," Mr. Bush continued, apparently referring to confrontations with Iraq over the no-flight zones. "And then all of a sudden September the 11th hit."

Then he had to take into account his solemn duty to protect the security of the American people blah blah blah. But isn't he basically saying that he was looking at a way to get Saddam out, and then 9/11 came "and then all of a sudden" he had an excuse? (Especially when you consider the ridiculously underreported notes by National Military Command Center aides to Donald Rumsfield that he advocated a war against Iraq within five hours of the World Trade Center attacks.)

Monday, January 12, 2004


Comments are gone because Blogspeak, who hosted my comments, is gone. I'm open to suggestions for a new comment system or comments in general, but you'll have to email me: o n e 3 8 @ o n e 3 8 . o r g

[edit: I've started using haloscan, hopefully that works out better than blogspeak. Sorry to everyone who has left comments here, there's no getting them back. So: make up for lost time!]

Bush Slightly Overstates His Legacy 

George W. Bush in the New Yorker this week: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

"In Texas, George W. Bush personally supervised the executions of 152 people -- and is proud of it." Recently we've executed a man with schizophrenia who was only lucid enough to stand trial because he was force fed medication, and we're the only nation (besides Iran- a human rights powerhouse) that executes juveniles.

There's that, and more.

"Mr. Fix It" Tackles Howard Dean's "Mean Mouthing Problem" 

This article requires registration, but you'll probably see it in other papers across the country anyway. (Here's a different story on the same event, which has its own fundamental problems.)

At a church in Oelwein, Iowa, Dale Ungerer, a registered Republican, wearing a "Mr Fix It" Tee Shirt, stood up to ask Howard Dean a "question". It was a three minute long lecture, even according to Nedra "Righty" Pickler at the AP, who actually seemed to favor Dean in the exchange, if only because she reported it more or less as it happened. It went like this:

"Please tone down the garbage, the mean mouthing, the tearing down of your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer told the former Vermont governor and Democratic front-runner. "You should help your neighbor and not tear him down."

"George Bush is not my neighbor," Dean replied.

"Yes, he is," Ungerer said, to which Dean responded: "You sit down. You've had your say and now I'm going to have my say."

According to Reuters, what Dean said next was: "George Bush has done more to harm this county right here with unfunded mandates, standing up for corporations who take over the farmers' land, making it impossible for middle class people to make a real living, sending our kids to Iraq without telling us the truth first about why they went," Dean said. "It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."

It's interesting to note here that Nedra "Righty" Pickler leaves that out, as well as a comment that Jodi Wilgoren at the NYTimes leaves in. In it, Dean says: "I love my neighbor, but I want that neighbor back in Crawford, Tex., where he belongs," Dr. Dean said. "The president is always my president but the president is not my neighbor if he takes 500,000 kids off their health care benefits." Nedra skips this by summarizing:

Dean said Bush has harmed communities like Oelwein by failing to fund education programs, by fighting for corporations rather than family farms and sending American troops to Iraq without telling the truth about why they were deployed.

"That is exactly the problem. Under the guise of 'support your neighbor' we're all expected not to criticize the president because it's unpatriotic," Dean said to enthusiastic applause. "I think it's unpatriotic to do some of the things that this president has done to this country."

Sounds perfectly reasonable, but look for Fox News to have an audio-free video of the exchange in which you only see Dean looking angry, while talking heads analyze "what it means for the Dean Campaign" now that his "Temper is out of control."

[Edit: Just wanted to mention the launch of Patricia Wilson Watch, a website dedicated to tracking the author of the aforementioned Reuters news story]

Occupational Fatigue 

A study published by The Army War College, a bastion of liberal peacenik thinking, has declared that "[T]he global war on terrorism as currently defined and waged is dangerously indiscriminate and ambitious, and accordingly . . . its parameters should be readjusted," Record writes. Currently, he adds, the anti-terrorism campaign "is strategically unfocused, promises more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security."

It was written by a guy who worked for a Democrat (Corporocrat Sam Nunn of Georgia) so expect it to be roundly dismissed. It's being endorsed pretty hardcore by people at the Army College, but not the Pentagon. It also has this little tidbit on the layout of our upcoming puppet regime in Iraq: "...the United States should scale back its ambitions in Iraq, and be prepared to settle for a "friendly autocracy" there rather than a genuine democracy." -c/o Buzzflash

My, Aren't You A Friendly Autocracy?

Riots Erupt As Iraqis Run Out Of Rose Petals To Throw At The Feet Of their Liberators 

Riots in Iraq. Who would have thought those ungrateful motherfuckers would start protesting all of a sudden? What, our invasion and occupation of your country while we work out the installation of a puppet government at the cost of thousands of civilian casualties isn't good enough for you?

Turns out they're protesting the deaths of other protestors, and so, true to form, these protestors are being shot at (but magically, not killed or wounded, according to our side, though the people being shot at seem to disagree). Iraqis are well on their way to becoming real Americans: they have a high unemployment rate, they're disgruntled about a war they didn't start, and they don't trust our President, who they didn't vote for and doesn't listen to them. (Oh, and I almost forgot: A Media that only broadcasts messages approved by the occupational authority). I am sure that somewhere in Bush's mind, invading a country that hates us and then randomly shooting at protestors "prevents terrorism", but it strikes me as a wee bit counterintuitive.

This Isn't Patriotism, it's Fetishism 

The ultimate kitsch or just a natural regression to state-inspired art?

Sunday, January 11, 2004

New Layout 

Care of MDaines. You should hire him. Comment, please!

Weekly Blog Outsourcing 

Hilarious. The whole site is really an incredibly clever satirical take on politics in a fake-news format similar to the Onion's. Other headlines and articles include: "Bush Announces Manned Mission to Library", "Conservatives criticizing Bush's Immigration Plan Unsure Whether or Not to Call Themselves Unpatriotic", ("I mean, I really disagree with this new proposal to reform immigration, but he's the President, and we're at war and all...") It's going on the permanent blogroll. (Another really good satirical blog is Norbizness, particularly this Wall Street Journal Editorial Deconstruction.)

I also want to specifically mention the return of the champion discus thrower, Mister Pants, to the 2004 blogging season. It's not a political blog, but I politblogs aren't in short supply, really.

The Emerging Democratic Majority blog has got some good analysis on the latest Bush poll numbers, not mentioning the "Christmas Tree" effect by name but alluding to it nonetheless. The Christmas Tree effect on Bush's poll numbers is this: Bush, since 9/11, has had huge spikes in support (and huge drops in disapproval) which then trail off. It looks exactly like a Christmas tree right now because 9/11 was his biggest spike, which then descended slightly until we were level, at which point we engaged in an unprovoked war with Iraq. This gave him another spike, not as big, which trailed off, and then he caught saddam. Which gave him another small spike. The good news is, his spikes are getting smaller. There's a picture of the effect and a long analysis over at "The Blogging of the President." from a while ago.

Corrente has book-closing comments on the Dean/McGovern comparisons- as well as pointing out that Nixon wasn't exactly the best guy for this country, and the Vietnam War didn't work out too well.

Steve Gilliard has a story that I didn't mention because it lacked enough verification (it's an American Incident but has only been published in the British Press. While I certainly expect our side of the sea to have crappier Journalistic standards, I'd like to see three sources before I post something this outrageous.) Nonetheless, it's a hell of a good read and a story that is, as they say, "true, even if it's not true." (And, I should add, it probably actually is true.)

Echidne has got two really good posts this week. One, on the subject of radical anti-feminist Dr. Laura, particularly her statement that if a woman doesn't give her husband sex whenever he wants, it's as irresponsible as the husband deciding not to go to work one day because he doesn't feel like it. I take great offense to this article because it implies that women should "feel like" having sex in a way not prescribed by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. (Read that, it's worth sitting through the ad for a free day pass to the article). Remember when the Moonies were a cult? Well, now they're a right wing funding powerhouse, particularly in the subject of abstinence only sex education and- to put it in their words- the "extermination of gays." Which may explain why Echidne's second post is on our friends at the NRO on how sexuality is pretty much defined as men overcoming women's objections to sex.

Sooner Thought has a lengthy and well done post on the relationship between Paul O'Neill and the Bush Administration.

In purely self-referential news, Andante has got a post regarding my own post, "On 'Relief' and the New American Victimhood". I hadn't thought of some of his points- that even "No Child Left Behind" implies Victimhood. (Even though it was coined in 1999, the terminology resonates for that reason.) If you liked my post you'll enjoy his reading of it.

That's it for Sunday's Blog Outsourcing.

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