Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Bush Has Lost Cronkite

Well, NewsMax, anyway...

Geesh, when even your friendliest news outlet is saying this is bad, I'm guessing your list of allies grows thin. I think it's official: Traitorgate is big.


You Heard It Here 888th

Atrios has it on good authority that the WH leaker is Unka Karl. Could one of my predictions actually be right?


Offline For A Few Hours

In the meantime, give Howard Dean 145 bucks: "the price of a one-way bus ticket back to Texas for George W. Bush." We Deaniacs have broken $14M this quarter, and we're shooting for 15 by midnight. Click on the bat to give, or go to Howie's blog for the latest...


Schumer On C-SPAN2

I have CSPAN on while I pack for an overnight trip to Billerica, MA, for a video shoot. Not sure I caught it all over the sound of zipping up my bags, etc, but I think Schumer is talking about an amendment to the DC Appropriations Bill that was to be debated today. The amendment apparently calls for a special counsel to investigate Traitorgate. Instead, the Majority is not allowing the bill to be debated via a parliamentary procedure, effectively stopping Schumer from offering his amendment.

What's the phrase? Ah yes, good thing the adults are in charge...


Memo To The White House Staff

To: All WH Employees
From: Alberto R. Gonzales, White House Counsel
Subject: Traitorgate:

We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee.

The Department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you.

In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the Department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the Counsel to the President's office. The President has directed full cooperation with this investigation.

Addendum: We hope all materials that might in any way be related to the investigation have already been disposed of. If not, make sure you have disposed of them before you officially read this memo. And please, please, please don't forget the lessons learned during Iran-Contra: just deleting an e-mail does not remove it entirely from your harddrive.


OSP Today

You must read all three of today's posts in the United States section of Open Source Politics:

* A MATTER OF TRUST - Susie Madrak explains why the Valerie Plame Affair is completely in character, and why her dishes aren't clean.

* "I have a little list . . ." - This is your National Security. This is your National Security, fried. Lilith Devlin has a rehabilitation plan you should follow.

* The Politics of Power - Jeff Alworth explores the administration's hunger for power - and wonders what they'd jeopardize, to keep it.

Also check out Jack Cluth's Be careful what you ask for, which provides a different view of telemarketing than you've seen here.


Yet Another For The No Duh Files

It seems like just a few days ago, I was opining that Powell's deadline of six months to create an Iraqi constitution just wouldn't fly. Looks like the Iraqis agree:

Iraqis involved in the effort to write a new constitution said today that completing the document in six months, the goal set by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell last week, will be impossible to meet because of differences over how to select the drafters and more profound disagreements over the role of Islamic law and the basic contours of a new political system.

If a constitution is our minimum requirement for leaving Iraq, notwithstanding the elections and other elements of a democracy, then we are truly knee deep in it.



Today California Governor Gray Davis signed into law California's secession from the Union. At the signing ceremony, the Governor said, "The United States can keep its power failures, its gutted environmental protection laws, its stagnant economy, its corporatist policies, its ballooning deficits, its anti-democractic redistricting, its wars of aggression. California declares itself a free republic and will re-establish our democratic ideals in a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

California residents, 97% of whom are running in next month's recall election, are evenly divided on the issue. Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Spicoli observed, "This is gnarly, dude. I mean, history is going to be really short now and like, will be easy to remember." Yet another candidate, Stacy Hamilton, disagreed that secession is the right thing to do. "We live in a state that's roughly the size of Iraq. How are we going to bring stability and security to California without the help of the United States?"

President Bush's hands are tied in this matter. Not only does his party believe firmly in states' rights, but with US forces deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Uzbekistan, the Philippines and other "central fronts" in the War on Terror, he has no troops available to quell any rebellion. While officially offering no comment on events on the West Coast, the White House was reportedly caught off guard by Davis' actions. A senior administration official indicated that "Condi forgot to read the CIE [California Intelligence Estimate] last month."

In contrast to the somber mood of most members of the Bush administration, Karl Rove is ecstatic at the prospect of California leaving the Union. He confided that the President "was going to get his ass kicked there in '04 anyway. It's great that we don't have to worry about campaigning for those 50 something electoral votes, so now we can spend $200 million on TV ads to keep Arizona in line." Rove added, "By the way, Davis' wife Sharon is a CIA operative who goes by the codename 'The Jackal'."

The secession does not impact the current recall election, which will go on as scheduled to determine who will be the next President of the Democratic Republic of California.


Monday, September 29, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

File Under "Why Did You Leave The Camera Upstairs?"

Amazing sunset:
Purple, orange, and pale blue.
A moose in the field!

Yup, I violated my policy of keeping the camera in the car. In a fit of cleaning, I put it in my disaster area of an office yesterday. On the way back from a brief diner dinner in Jeffersonville, we saw an incredible sunset taken straight out of Fantasia and a bull moose with an immense set of antlers trudging through the middle of a field by the Lamoille river. Ah well, it might not have been recorded for posterity, but it was an absolutely beautiful reminder of why we live here.


Shorter Bob Novak

On CNN's Crossfire right now:

I just got my Rovian talking points, there's nothing to Traitorgate, it's just Bush bashing, now please all you real reporters stop calling me. Oh, I've been in this business for 46 years, and that's got to count for something.


The Toughest Job In The World

Answering questions about Traitorgate:

Poor, poor Scott McClellan. [Update: the briefing transcript.]

For more on Traitorgate (aka the Plame Affair), check out Mark Kleiman's work at OSP and his regular blog, as well as Billmon, TPM, and for a balanced view from the right (really), look at Daniel Drezner.


Bush Does A Good Thing

Okay, so he's never once exercised his veto, and this one is a no-brainer (heh), but I have to give Bush credit:

President Bush signed into law Monday a bill giving the Federal Trade Commission the authority to administer a new "do-not-call" registry -- a move opposed by telemarketers.

Bush said the move was necessary to cut down on "intrusive, annoying, unwelcome telephone solicitations."

Separately, the Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it would begin enforcing the "do-not-call" rules against telemarketers starting October 1.

Now if only we could cut down on "intrustive, annoying, unwelcome" violations of our civil liberties. Damn, I was going to try posting sans snarky comment, but it just didn't happen.


That's *General* Clark To You

Interesting tidbit from Political Wire (via Value Judgement): Pollsters note former Gen. Clark leads only in surveys where he is named by his military title.



Novak Reveals His Source

Well, not in so many words:

Until now, George W. Bush always had risen to the occasion. But failure marks current efforts of the president and his vaunted political team, headed by Karl Rove.

Now we know who's behind the Valerie Plame leak. Clearly Bobby's setting Unka Karl up for the fall. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!


PS--Read the rest of the article. It will do wonders for you to read a conservative columnist frankly discuss how much trouble BushCo is in. 

Reflecting On The I/P Conflict

Natalie Davis over at OSP suggests "that everyone open themselves up to the message of Rosh Hashana: Look backward at one's sins. Look ahead to what one can do to atone for past sins and work to create a better world -- a world of peace, justice, and mutual respect." Great advice.

Here are some headlines marking the start of the current intifada's 4th year:

* San Diego Union-Tribune: Palestinian security official says armed struggle has been a mistake.

* IslamOnline: Palestinians Mark Intifada Anniversary, Vow Resistance.

* Palestine Chronicle: Emerging Alternatives in Palestine (an article from January 2000 by the late Edward Said).

Okay, some people aren't reflecting so much.


Flashback: China And North Korea

ATimes today:

"So far as you know, how many soldiers will be sent here?" I asked.

"Maybe more than 100,000, I'm not clear about the exact number," he said, confirming the news of China's military buildup on the border.

"Why so many solders?"

"A war will break out between the US and the other side [of the border], won't it?" No sooner had he finished his words than he realized that his remarks had been improper. "Recently public order has worsened, with more of them [North Koreans] smuggling here. So soldiers are sent to bring everything to order," the policeman said, trying to correct himself.
"Actually it is nothing big to put some 100,000 soldiers along the 1,400-kilometer-long border. It is none of our business whether the US will wage a war against North Korea. We are merely frustrated by the possible influx of refugees caused by the war. What should we do then? Shall we fight with North Korea against the US as we did in the 1950-53 Korean War?"

My, wouldn't that be fun. Clearly at this point war with the DPRK, let alone Chinese involvement, is not going to happen, but you never know what tensions and concentrated forces can produce.

The soldier's statement did remind me that it was about this time that the US was considering whether to head north of the 38th parallel after beating back North Korean forces in 1950. In fact, today's the day that Defense Secretary George C. Marshall told MacArthur that he had permission to do so without telling the UN. Students of history will recall that once our troops approached the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from China, 380,000 Chinese troops invaded the peninsula in a defensive move. We overreached and the war stretched another three years as a result.


This Just In: Telemarketers Not 100% Evil

I guess I have to give them credit:

The nation's largest telemarketing association yesterday said its members would comply with the government's do-not-call list on Wednesday, even though a federal judge has ruled that the registry is unconstitutional.

I'll not even mention the more cynical interpretations that ran through my mind.


Iraqi Ethnic Tensions Bubble Over


Although a rift between Sunnis and Shiites is relentlessly discouraged by leaders of both communities, tensions have escalated in recent weeks, raising new prospects of strife. Small bombs have been planted at a handful of mosques in Baghdad. In Khaldiya, a Sunni-dominated town west of Baghdad, unknown assailants ransacked the green-domed shrine of a Shiite saint and set off an explosive last month that damaged his brick tomb. In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, some residents suspect that recent killings of former Baath Party members are inspired by religious zeal, and leaders of Shiite religious parties openly argue that vengeance is warranted against officials of a government that subjugated Shiites, particularly in its last decade of rule.

Hussein's Baath Party, which was in power for 35 years, was dominated by Sunni Arabs and treated Shiite Arabs, Kurds and ethnic Turkmens as second-class citizens. Although Hussein's ethnic and religious favoritism fostered animosity, those feelings and past grievances were largely kept in check by his iron-fisted rule. When he was deposed, Iraqis suddenly found themselves with the freedom to redress old grudges -- and many have sought to right what they regard as injustices of the past.

The deepening divisions between Iraq's principal ethnic and religious groups have unsettled many Iraqis, who generally oppose the idea of their country breaking apart. They contend that U.S. and British occupation forces have played down or ignored many warning signs of a larger conflict that have bubbled forth in the tumult of postwar Iraq.

Gee, never saw this coming. But I'm sure we'll resolve these problems, just as we have all the others. Our great pre-war planning guarantees success.


PS--WaPo also reports that BushCo may have spun the results of recent polling in Iraq. Wow, that's so out of character. 

The Valerie Plame Affair: Whodunnit? And Why?

Get thee to OSP and read Mark Kleiman's excellent update on the latest potentially explosive revelations:

This may be remembered as the weekend the wheels started to come off the Bush White House.

In the two months since Robert Novak's infamous column, sourced to "two senior Administration officials, revealed the identity of a covert CIA officer in apparent retaliation for her husband's role in revealing the falsity of the Yellowcake Road story, not very much has happened, and the media silence has been deafening. The White House was stonewalling, with apparent success, and no one had confirmed in print even the basic fact that Valerie Plame's role at the CIA was supposed to be covert.


Sunday, September 28, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Survivor: Bush Islands

From the official homepage of CBS' Survivor: Bush Islands:


Location: FOX News Sunday

Description: The tribes raced across varied TV shows to transport the latest talking points through the talk show jungle and to the American people. Both tribes had to dissemble at the various obstacles throughout the day. The first to cross the finish line, with their incompetence, ignorance, and prevarication ignored, wins.

Winning Tribe Gets: Immunity

Winning Tribe: Democratic Party

Having lost Sunday's Immunity Challenge, the BushCo tribe voted Condoleeza Rice off the island.

Condi's Final Words:

Well, guys, I can't say this came as a big surprise. I had a hunch that I was going off this afternoon when everything started to fall apart. I knew going in that my biggest weakness was going to be keeping my mouth shut.

Condi's Current Popularity Rating: 3.8

Well, one can dream.


Ann Coulter IDs A Traitor

Annthrax opined a couple weeks ago:

I am prepared – just this once – to name a traitor: Pinch Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times.
[T]he clincher was an editorial on the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack, in which the Times endorsed the principle of moral equivalence between the United States and the 9-11 terrorists. In the Times' meandering, mind-numbing prose, it explained that the terrorists may have slaughtered thousands of Americans in a bloody attack on U.S. soil – but the U.S. has had imperialistic depredations of its own!

I didn't know the bar is so high to be considered a traitor. I eagerly await when she similarly condems the administration officials who illegally leaked the identity of Valerie Plame.


Brits In The Crosshairs


A major terrorist strike against British forces in Iraq is 'inevitable', according to senior government sources in Iraq and intelligence officers in Britain and the Middle East. Any such attack would cause massive casualties and further destabilise the current US-led occupation government.

A member of the Iraqi governing council told The Observer that a major bombing aimed at UK forces in southern Iraq was 'a matter of time' and that intelligence indicated a number of different groups had been making preparations for such an attack.



$12.5M And Counting

Wow. Click on the bat to donate.


I Guess It Wasn't About Liberation

Condi on MTP today:

The premise of the war was that Saddam Hussein was a threat, that he had used weapons of mass destruction, that he was continuing to try to get them and that was everyone's premise...

Glad we cleared that up.


Ashcroft Abuses PATRIOT


The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.
Justice Department officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals — terrorists or otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence the administration is using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda.
[A] new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this month...cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to terrorism in which federal authorities have used their expanded power to investigate individuals, initiate wiretaps and other surveillance, or seize millions in tainted assets.

Add this to the "told you so" files on BushCo. What bothers me about this "mission creep" wrt PATRIOT is that it represents yet another teeny bit of erosion of our civil liberties. When you pass a law that creates powerful tools to combat terror, it certainly makes a great deal of sense to expand its use to fight other types of crime, right? And then from that point, it might make sense to move the line just a little more, then a little more, and at each stage the people say "oh, well it's not that big a deal" because it's not so out of line compared to where we were before.

Now from the perspective of pure logic, that's arguably a slippery slope fallacy. Yet history is replete with examples of this happening, and we must be ever vigilant against these little attempts to give more and more power to the government. I've excerpted this part of Mein Kampf before, and I'll do it again:

A shrewd victor will, if possible, always present his demands to the vanquished in installments...The more extortions are willingly accepted in this way, the more unjustified it strikes people finally to take up the defensive against a new, apparently isolated, though constantly recurring, oppression, especially when, all in all, so much more and greater misfortune has already been borne in patient silence.

Let us not bear PATRIOT and its spawn in patient silence.


PS--One way to combat this might be to join the ACLU... 

Bush-Cheney Energy Plan

Meteor Blades, one of Kos' guest bloggers, has a great post on the energy bill that's coming out of Congress:

After nearly two years of "debate," Congress is reaching the end game on legislation that started out as the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan, and remains pretty much that. The President could sign this monster package of mostly backward-looking policies before November 1. There’s enough lard in it to fry up a catfish for every American man, woman and child. But, of course, its largesse won't be distributed quite so equitably.

Just about everywhere you look, there's something to dislike in the Energy Bill. Section 223, for instance, would repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. While it might seem that an energy-related law that’s nearly seven decades old should be repealed, it’s worth checking out Public Citizen’s PUHCA for Dummies for a detailed counter argument.

Dozens of other sections and subsections deserve a pummeling as well. Like fuel economy standards. Like the "clean" coal initiative. Like continuing subsidies for nuclear power. The "hydrogen economy" proposals are flawed, too. Indeed, a book-length blog is needed to evaluate this bill thoroughly. Obviously, I don't have space for that. So let's take a closer look at just one example, the breathtaking kowtowing to the oil and gas industry.

It's a long entry, and well worth the time to read. MB does a nice job synthesizing a lot of stuff, and provides many interesting sources of information. Check it out.



Drip Drip Drip

First, WaPo tells us (via A Rational Animal):

Leaders of the House intelligence committee have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

And then WaPo reports (via CalPundit):

At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday.

The operative's identity was published in July after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons. Bush later backed away from the claim.

The intentional disclosure of a covert operative's identity is a violation of federal law.

The officer's name was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Oh, how I hope this signals the beginning of the end for BushCo. The arrogant bastards have overreached in just about everything they've done, and gotten away with it by playing the terrorism card while a docile press looked on. The worm is turning, however, and the more the press senses that, the more they'll actually do their jobs and pursue the myriad stories about administration excess. The public will finally get a clue as more is revealed, and Bush will not have a prayer in '04.

That's my dream, anyway. This administration is poison and must be removed from power. Alas, impeachment is probably out of the question, but I think beating Bush next November is soon enough--the Dean administration will still be able to undo most of the damage, though it will be hard and take a long time.


Saturday, September 27, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Queer Eye For George And Vladimir

"So, Vlad, did you like the Foie Gras and pork rinds?"

"Da, Georg. And I love what you have done with Camp David. Real horror show [sic]. Now perhaps we could go shoot a bear, then have some vodka while we discuss future oil revenues in Iraq?"



History Channel's Mail Call has its own action figure, Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey:

(Thanks to CdrRayChevrolet at Eschaton)

Buy it now, maggots! Way better than the Empty-Flight-Suit-in-Chief...


Development And Archaeology

Interesting tidbit about a dig in Vermont:

Evidence of an ancient Native American settlement that dates back some 10,000 years, the first of its kind ever found in Vermont and one of only a few known to exist in the eastern United States.

University of Vermont archaeologists are thrilled with their astounding find. Preliminary analysis suggests the site was a hunting camp where Native Americans removed and replaced spear points broken during hunts. They also found other tools that indicate the people butchered animals and prepared their hides at the site. They have christened it the Mazza site, named for landowner Sam Mazza.
Here's something to think about: These ancient Native American treasures were only found due to the construction of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway. Before the road is built, archaeologists have been given a chance to dig so they can identify, evaluate, and develop management plans for prehistoric and historic sites that may be affected by the construction. WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont reports that ironically, the highway has probably led to more archeological discoveries in the state than any other single factor--so far 79 and counting.

One of those 79 discoveries was not too far from my folks' house.


New Twist To Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Judging by the spam I just received, you can either know the exact size of a penis or its exact location, but not both simultaneously:

Bigger Penis is Better heisenberg

I guess I didn't know as much about physics as I thought...


WTF: Corrente AWOL?

So I tried visiting corrente just now, and I got an unexpected tagline: ...this time, is whatever I want it to mean. I just really tired from poker night, did I enter an alternate dimension, or wasn't this at one time a site by Leah, Lambert, Tresy & the Farmer? Maybe I'm losing my marbles. An alternate theory is something's screwed up at BlogSpot--nah, they never have problems. Regardless, I want my old corrente back!


[Update: the "real" corrente is back. Am I being gaslit here, or was it merely another damned unexplained BloggerFart? I s'pose I'll never know...] 

Dean's Still Got Mo

Though it ain't so big, according to Zogby:

The momentum of former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination continues with a 10-point lead over his closest challenger in New Hampshire. Dean earned 30%, compared to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s 20%. Newly-announced contender retired General Wesley Clark placed third in the Granite State at 10%, and may have reduced Dean’s 2-1 lead over Kerry in August.

The Good Doctor was leading 38-17 over Kerry last month. So Clark has indeed shaken up the race, but even then Dean is holding on pretty handily. Still a long way to go, and it will be interesting to see what happens when the Good General's novelty wears off.

I do see that Howie's having a bit harder time earning money in his latest push as the quarter comes to a close: he's "only" raised $1.5M the past few days. That is a bit of a bummer, but he's still going to shatter Clinton's old records I think. Go help him out! But don't give too much, because my legal defense fund will need money when I get thrown into the Pit of Despair as a traitor to Dear Leader for posting about Dean.


Rummy Poeticizes While High On Afghan Opium

How else to explain his latest work?

Clearly throughout the
history of mankind,
there've always been individuals who have
gotten through screens and
done bad things.
There've also been people who
go through a screen
not intending to do bad things and
arrive at some point later and
decide they're going to
do bad things that are harmful to the intent of the activity.
So I guess how do I respond?
I respond to the fact that
can repeat

Audio to come soonish... now available.


PS--the DOD transcript had two instances of "they've", which I think is an error and have replaced with "there've". If the transcript was correct, then Rummy has a serious problem and it's time for an intervention. His opium habit was easy to overlook when things were going well, but it is now clearly impacting his job function. 

Iraqi Constitution: Unrealistic Goal?


UN officials yesterday questioned US calls for Iraqis to prepare a constitution within six months, leading to elections thereafter, warning that a credible process could take considerably longer.

Colin Powell, US secretary of state, said yesterday: "Six months seems to be a good timeline for the creation of this constitution, to give a sense of momentum and purpose to the effort of moving toward full restoration of authority over Iraq to the Iraqi people".

I question this timeline as well. First, as Rummy is so fond of pointing out, it took a long time for us to move from the Articles of Confederation to a new Constitution: about 5 or 6 months in convention, then another 8 or 9 months for ratification. That was after several years of experience of democracy under the Articles, and presumably learned debate amongst the Framers for some time, in a relatively homogenous population in a relatively peaceful situation. Now you want to take a more ethnically and religiously diverse population that is just emerging under true tyranny amidst chaos brought by invaders, and have them gin up a constitution based upon a timeline imposed by occupiers? That's an interesting fantasy world.

For a picutre of creating constitutions in an unstable environment, we need only look to Afghanistan (Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 9/9):

After a week of rumours and denials, President Hamed Karzai has finally announced the worst-kept secret in town - approval of Afghanistan's new constitution is to be set back two months.

A Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, will be convened to discuss and pass the constitution in December, not October as originally scheduled.
The failure of the commission drafting the constitution to publish a final version by a September 1 deadline had already signalled that the process had fallen behind.
Azizullah Wasefi, deputy head of the recently-formed monarchist movement opposed to the entire political process, seeing it as the work of foreign interests, "This constitution and the Loya Jirga do not have the support of the people. Instead, they are about the wishes of the Bonn meeting [where the current peace accord was signed in December, 2001]."

Recent history doesn't bode well for Powell's timeline.


Quote Of The Day

Over six years, Bush’s policies will add $87 billion to our debt burden every 51 days!

- Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, in a recent report on the increasing US debt burden resulting from Bush's tax cuts


Baghdad Security Report

Iraq Today:

Coalition estimates that attacks on its forces in Iraq are now averaging more than fifteen days. [Ed: I believe this means "15 attacks per day".]
CMCC sites in Adhamiyah, Rusafa, Al- Sadir city, al-Muthanna, Shaab, Hurriyah, Shuala and Al-Ameriah ( the area around Baghdad International airport )
Are classifies as uncertain or hostile areas.

Carjacking is rife in the capital. Do not walk around the streets with bags or mobile/satellite phones.

The curfew in Baghdad begins at 11pm and ends at 4am; most governorates have no curfew.
Iraq's highways are considered dangerous. Highway 10 between Baghdad and the Jordanian border is especially hazardous, particularly around the Ramadi area. Armed bandits operate this route, using fast cars to stop large convoys of vehicles.
Highway 8, between Baghdad and Hillah is also considered a no go route by humanitarian organisations.
Highway 1, between Baghdad and Qasim is also very dangerous.

Be careful out there.


CNN/Money Calling '04 Election For Bush

This just in, George W. Bush has won the 2004 election, according to CNN and Money magazine:

Yale economist Ray Fair...has created a model featured in his book, "Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things"...

CNN/Money used Fair's model to come up with a prediction for the 2004 election, assuming the Philly Fed's projected 3.7 percent GDP growth rate for the first three quarters of 2004, growth above 3.2 percent for the last two quarters of 2003, and average inflation of 2.2 percent during the first 15 quarters of Bush's term.

The result: Bush should win more than 60 percent of the vote on election day -- an unequivocal landslide.

I guess I should stop giving money to Howard Dean.


I Have Seen The Light

Wow, I've never seen anybody work so hard to change reality as the good folks at AEI:

[D]on't believe the widely reported loss of millions of manufacturing jobs since the Bush administration took office. All these alleged facts are either wrong or greatly exaggerated, based on the same faulty source.
There are two sources of labor market statistics, the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey--both conducted by the Labor Department. The first asks manufacturing and service sector companies how many employees they have. The second asks a sample of people whether they have jobs.
For the year ending in August, the Establishment Survey shows a loss of 463,000 jobs. The Household Survey shows that the economy added 313,000 new jobs in the same period. The Establishment Survey also shows the much discussed job loss since the Bush administration took office--2.7 million jobs. The Household Survey reduces the loss to 220,000, not good but far more typical of a period with recession and slow recovery. As the speed of recovery picks up, the latter loss will disappear by early next year.

Well, I'm glad we cleared that up. I wonder when BushCo will be touting this line: "You're looking at the wrong report. Only a couple hundred thousand jobs have been lost, not a few million." Thank god for those tax cuts! I take back all the mean things I've said about the administration's brilliant economic policies, and I hereby announced I will be voting GOP until the day I'm thrown in a Navy brig and identified as an "enemy combatant" for having once supported Howard Dean.


Bullshit, Part II

Bullshit: The Do-Not-Call Registry in Two Movements...


For the Federal Trade Commission, Judge Edward W. Nottingham's ruling invalidating the nationwide do-not-call registry illustrates the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

Nottingham voided the FTC registry because it offered consumers the option of banning unwanted calls from for-profit businesses but not calls from charitable organizations, which, the judge reasoned, are just as intrusive. This "content-based" discrimination between two otherwise indistinguishable forms of speech, Nottingham ruled, violated the First Amendment.

Yet the FTC created the exemption for charitable calls in the first place because it believed that the First Amendment required it to do so.
Although most telemarketing calls are commercial calls, Nottingham noted, the FTC registry...was discriminatory because, in terms of invading privacy, there is no difference between a charitable or other noncommercial call and a profit-making one.

I'm with the FTC: corporate phone solicitations are corporate speech, calls from charities are not. Thus, we have the right to make a distinction in how the two are restricted. The points are well-taken that all phone calls during dinner invade my privacy, but I think that's moot. Yes, I find any unsolicited call to be annoying, but I'm more inclined to listen to a charity than I am a sales pitch, and therefore find it less of an intrusion overall. They are two easily distinquishable forms of speech.

The industry and its lawyers are really equivocating here. They claim this is a free speech issue, but when confronted with precedents that allow the FTC to distinguish between telemarketing calls and other calls, they fall back on the "well, they're all annoying" argument. Sorry, you lose on free speech, and the Constitution doesn't give a rat's ass about whether your calls bug us as much as charities'. And 50 million people rushed to sign up for the registry, which I say is equivalent to voting with their wallets.

That said, my BS detector is going off here:

Several legal analysts said the problem might have been avoided if the FTC had permitted consumers to choose for themselves between banning only commercial calls, or both commercial and noncommercial calls. That way, any content-based discrimination would have been a function of individual choice, not government action.

The FTC considered that option, but rejected it.

"The commission believes that such an approach may be impractical because of cost considerations and because of the difficulty for consumers to understand and deal with the complications of such a system," the FTC said in the Federal Register. "Thus, these factors may render a bifurcated registry an insufficient or excessively cumbersome response."

This is the freaking 21st century. The FTC set up a very simple website to register with the current system. It would be a trivial exercise to create an additional selection for consumers that indicated whether they would like to receive charitable calls or not. Setting up either separate fields in a single database or even two databases for the different types of calls shouldn't be an onerous task either. Saying it's too complex is a hollow refrain when we see how successfully e-commerce companies have been doing more complicated stuff on their backend. The FTC must realize that they are providing a service to consumers, and we expect it to be good. Figure it out and deliver.


PS--To sign up for the registry, go to the FTC's special website

Worst. Poker. Ever.

Oy. Neither my cards nor my wits were with me tonight. I had my worst showing at poker ever: lost 13 bucks, and that was only after digging myself out of a worse hole in the last 2 hours. I blew some big hands when I started over analyzing, and talked myself out of the correct course of action. Just dumb.

Blogging resumes tomorrow, er...later today.


Friday, September 26, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Bush's War On The Segway

Okay, so he likely had nothing to do with it, but CBS reports:

The maker of the Segway Human Transporter has agreed to recall the motorized scooters because riders have been injured falling off when its batteries are low.
"Under certain operating conditions, particularly when the batteries are near the end of charge, some Segway HTs may not deliver enough power, allowing the rider to fall," the CPSC warned. "This can happen if the rider speeds up abruptly, encounters an obstacle, or continues to ride after receiving a low-battery alert."

The Manchester, N.H.-based company has sold about 6,000 of the scooters so far. The recall involves all Segway HT i167 ("i Series") models sold to consumers. Two models sold in test markets — the e167 and p133 models — are also being recalled. Customers can call 877-889-9020 for information on getting a free upgrade.

In June, President Bush fell off a Segway he was trying to ride.

Heh. I'm so glad to be reminded that Bush fell off one. I think in that case, it was his batteries running low, not the scooter's.


With Allies Like These


After Russia's most reputable polling agency reported last month that support for President Vladimir Putin's war in Chechnya had fallen to 28 percent, the messengers were targeted by a state-ordered purge. Soon the center's founder and research team were out, replaced by a 29-year-old who once campaigned for Putin's political party.
Putin called it a simple financial dispute, but many reformers and political analysts saw it as emblematic of a broader rollback of democratic gains of the post-Soviet period. In the past few months alone, the last independent national television network was shut down, new rules drastically restricting political coverage were imposed on surviving news organizations, challengers to the Kremlin favorite in next month's election in Chechnya were driven out of the race and a spate of investigations were launched against an oil tycoon who funded rival political parties.

Few if any of these issues will take a prominent place on the agenda when Putin meets President Bush at Camp David for a summit Friday and Saturday, according to officials from both governments. In the two years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Putin has positioned himself as a chief ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism and, while he disagreed with Bush on the invasion of Iraq, the Russian president still occupies a special place in the White House's hierarchy of foreign friends.

Yet another problem with the so-called "war on terror". We give our allies a free pass on a lot of abuses, giving lie to our professed noble rationale for things like invading Iraq. This whole bogus house of cards is going to come crashing down some day if we don't truly start upholding our ideals.


Brief Debate Analysis

WaPo says Clark, Dean Survive Spotlight:

Both easily survived the two hours of back-and-forth on a host of economic issues. Clark demonstrated flashes of the persona that has made him attractive to many Democratic voters, and Dean, although occasionally annoyed at the potshots aimed his way, mostly held his ground.
Dean reached for ridicule to defend himself. "You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I'm anti-Israel, I'm anti-trade, I'm anti-Medicare and I'm anti-Social Security. I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party."


NPR Commentary On The Middle East

Heard this on the dark, foggy drive in to work a few hours ago:

Commentator David Ehrlich, who owns a bookstore and cafe in Jerusalem, shares his thoughts and anxieties about the course of peace negotiations in the Middle East. This essay is part of Morning Edition's continuing series of commentaries on the Middle East.

Give a listen.


Busy Day

I have a bunch of stuff to do today: a lot of administrivia (e.g., insurance stuff), finalize several things for next week's video shoot (script markups being the biggest thing), get feedback to students in my online class (their final assignment was due last night), an early FAC (Friday Afternoon Cocktails) at the office, then an early poker night (so Trevor can get home in time to watch the Aussie rules Grand Final). Blogging will be haphazard until after midnight--lunch will give me some time to pontificate, however.

In the meantime, read my OSP post: In Search Of Monsters To Destroy, in which I offer three slices of history that illustrate what happens when nations go abroad "in search of monsters to destroy" as John Quincy Adams so aptly stated.


[Addendum: also check out John William's post: Conservative-Sounding Policy Initiative - Conservatives say we have no chance of winning unless the Democratic Party becomes more conservative. But what if we just sound conservative? John Williams has some ideas.] 

Thursday, September 25, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Parody Lives

So there's been a little exchange over at corrente about the death of irony and, more importantly, parody. I noted that it's been hard for me to write any satire of late, which is why I'm so impressed when Tom Burka and Neal Pollack can do so:

* Today over at Opinions You Should Have:

Saddam Hussein had an advanced invisibility program, a draft report on the search for WMD's is to say. David Kay is set to reveal next week that there are countless untold WMD's virtually everywhere in Iraq, but we just can't see them.

The revelation set off a new search in Iraq. "We're searching for invisible bacteria, invisible viruses, invisible missiles, invisible anthrax, invisible pixie dust, and invisible atoms, which could be used to develop invisible nuclear weapons," said Captain Kronic Fatigue of the Weapons Detection Divison of the Twenty-Third Battalion Expeditionary Force.

* Tuesday at The Neal Pollack Invasion:

I'm very proud, for instance, by Attorney General John Ashcroft's recent dictum to virtually eliminate plea bargains in federal criminal cases. I've long argued in this space that our justice system contains far too much nuance, and Ashcroft's decision guarantees that everyone in America who's charged with a federal crime will go to jail for a very long time, if not forever. Hooray!

Perhaps this means the final curtain for Faith Fippinger, a 62-year-old former schoolteacher who dared to travel to Iraq during the war as a "human shield." The government is charging her with violating U.S. "trade" sanctions against Iraq, and they also seem upset that she engaged in such terrorist-type activities as teaching in schools and volunteering in hospitals. Here's hoping that the government silences this insane voice as quickly as possible so she can stop prattling on about the Iraqi "people" who "died horribly" during the war. I've said it before here and I'll say it again: Informed dissent has no place in a functioning democracy.

I'm in awe.


Cato Reminds Us About Afghanistan

Cato Institute foreign policy brief:

A blanket policy of early and aggressive intervention in overseas hotspots is likely to be counterproductive and costly. Although the United States cannot afford to ignore national security threats in the post 9-11 era, neither can it afford to get entangled in the innumerable conflicts and tensions around the globe...

I disagree with a number of elements in the brief, and think it disregards non-violent means to achieve our ends, but I do think the conclusion is spot-on.


Quote Of The Debate

Bring them home. - Rep. Kucinich's message for the troops in Iraq in today's Dem debate.

Runner-up: [W]e need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other. - Howard Dean, the next President of the United States.

2nd Runner-up: [I]f I've learned one thing in my nine days in politics, you better be careful with hypothetical questions... - The Good General Clark.


PS--WaPo has a transcript

AFSC And Israeli Refuseniks

I just learned today that my peeps, the Quakers (specifically American Friends Service Committee), have been working fairly quietly (how appropriate!) with War Resisters International and New Profile to support Israelis who refuse to participate in the occupation of PA territories. According to Bill Pierre, Regional Director of International Programs at AFSC, in an e-mail that was forwarded t to me:

The AFSC Jerusalem QIAR [Quaker International Affairs Representatives] was instrumental in bringing together an international conference this year for COs [Conscientious Objectors] to help them understand their rights (COs in Israel are not protected by law, and refuseniks like the pilots are in even hotter water if they refuse to obey orders.)

The meeting was officially hosted by AFSC, War Resisters International and New Profile, an Israeli organization we've worked with for a while which got started around the question of Israeli troops serving in Southern Lebanon. We'll continue to support the activities of COs in a quiet way keeping in mind that our own legal status in Israel could be questioned. (It is very difficult for internatinoal NGOs like AFSC to officially register and for ex-pat staff to get work permits. ) As a result we keep a pretty low profile within the country.

To learn more about the refusenik movement, you can also check out Yesh-Gvul (There is a limit) and Courage to Refuse.

Peace out,

Tight Ballgame


The president would outpoll any of the current leading Democratic contenders if the election were held today. He would earn 45% of the vote against retired General Wesley Clark's 35%; would beat former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean, 47% - 37%; would poll 47% against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's 37%; and would win over Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, 49% - 37%.

Yet when matched against an unnamed (generic) Democratic presidential contender, Bush would lose that theoretical match-up with just 41%, compared to the Democrat's 45%.
Clark and Dean share the lead among Democratic presidential hopefuls, with 12% each. No other candidate reaches double digits, and Kerry leads them with 7%, followed by Gephardt at 6%.

Bush's numbers improved slightly over previous Zogby polls, but Zogby attributes some of that to a bounce from his UN appearance and Clark: Americans do like their President to be seen as a leader on the world stage. Bush was also helped by Clark's entrance into the Democratic race, which muddied the waters a bit.

Anyway, it's still anybody's ballgame.


The House Does Something Right


The House voted Thursday to grant the Federal Trade Commission explicit authority to create a national "do not call" list for telemarketers, and Senate action was expected later in the day.

The quick action comes a day after a federal judge ruled the FTC overstepped its congressional mandate to create the wildly popular list.

"Fifty million Americans can't be wrong," Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., declared Wednesday, referring to the number of people who have signed up to block the unwanted solicitations.

Ignoring the ad hominem "appeal to popularity" fallacy, Tauzin is 100% correct, and so is Congress as a whole. Another smackdown of corporatism. Power to the people!


Dean declares war on "King George"

HoHo's speech in Copley Square in Boston on Tuesday is available at Salon (do the free Day Pass): Presidential candidate Howard Dean calls upon today's Sons of Liberty to overthrow a government that is "of, by and for the special interests." It's a darn good speech, IMNSHO. I especially liked the deconstruction of the Constitution and the PATRIOT Act.


OSP Selections For Thursday

One is from yesterday, but here are three I read this morning:

* Civility Dawns on Bush, then Runs Away, Screaming - A Bush appointee calls upon the ghosts of Nazis past to drive another fear-based initiative, but Kevin Hayden calls it a card trick.

* I need a new job - Where are the jobs going to be in five years, and can you please send me one that pays good money and requires minimal work? Fred Henning says "CEO of NYSE would do fine, thank you."

* How to be a gargoyle - Earl Dunovant provides the technogadgetry to hack your brainstem, just like the characters in Neil Stephenson's "Snow Crash".


Quote Of The Day

CA Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on the idea of the recall in last night's debate:

I think the recall is a terrible idea. I think it's bad for democracy. I think it's bad for our state. I know people right now who are organizing to recall the next governor if it's a Republican. I think that's a bad way of doing politics. I think it's a perpetual type of politics. I agree with my colleagues that there is some good that could come from this as a result. But I think that to do it in this way, even Hiram Johnson as Arnold talked about in terms of him creating the recall process, even in his inaugural address said that it wasn't the panacea. The recalls are not the panacea for government.

Runner up: Ladies and gentlemen, this is not Comedy Central. I swear. - moderator Stan Statham.

What a circus.


Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Chasing The Almighty Campaign Dollar


Front-runner Howard Dean has broken former President Clinton's Democratic record for most money raised in a three-month burst, while new rival Wesley Clark is turning to some of Clinton's most loyal and effective fund-raisers to help him jump-start his presidential campaign.

No Democrat is coming close to President Bush's fund raising, however. Bush is expected to collect about $43 million by the time the third quarter ends next Tuesday, bringing his total this year to roughly $78 million, GOP officials said.

Dean, raising millions on the Internet, is likely to take in $13 million to $16 million this quarter, a campaign insider said. That would lift him to at least $23.5 million for the race so far and likely make him the Democratic money leader for the year.

Bush is going to have maybe $500,000,000.00 in the bank before this is all said and done. I kid you not. Dammit, click on the bat and give Howie some money.


Still Lying

Or maybe since Bush only gets the news from his "objective" staff, he isn't aware that this has been debunked:

Saddam Hussein's monuments have been removed and not only his statues. The true monuments of his rule and his character -- the torture chambers, and the rape rooms, and the prison cells for innocent children -- are closed.

The exact same load of crap he laid out in July.


Lowest. Rating. Ever.

I believe the phrase is "neener neener neener":

George W. Bush is in the worst political trouble of his presidency, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday night. Bush’s approval rating now stands at 49 percent, the lowest point of his tenure.



55 Years

So Stef and I met a couple at the Trapp Family Lodge last night who have been married 55 years as of today. They won't read this blog of course, but congratulations anyway to Royal and Betty from South Carolina. One hopes we make it that long.

It was really quite funny last night. Stef had the Trapp baker make us a small version of our wedding cake (yummy spice cake) since we barely got any ourselves last year. The server brought it out for us with a cake topper (which we refused to have at our wedding) and a couple of candles. That got the attention of the rest of the dining room, which was populated by elderly folks on one of those "Freedom Years" tours. People kept coming up to us yesterday and even today congratulating us on our anniversary. Very cute.

And now back to our anonymous lives.


Yes Virginia, There Are Such Things As Turntables


SHARMAN NETWORKS LTD., the company behind the Kazaa file-sharing software, filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the entertainment companies of using unauthorized versions of its software in their efforts to root out users. Entertainment companies have offered bogus versions of copyright works and sent online messages to users.

Take that, you greedy bastards.


Why Did The Turkey Cross The Road?

Because the other 30 turkeys did.

About 2 miles from my house I almost literally ran into a curious sight: over a dozen wild turkeys on my right, more than a dozen on my right, and several in the middle of the road trying to get to the right. I've been driving around with my camera in the car so I could get foliage shots, but I happened to bring it inside today and of course didn't put it back in the car, so no picture. Anyway, they parted like the Red Sea for me, and I drove on to volleyball...

...where we served up a few turkeys ourselves. We actually played very well in the first and third games, and by all rights should have kept our focus enough to win at least the first one. We had a big let down our second game, which I'll note I spent mostly on the sideline due to our rotation. My serve is getting back into shape, though still erratic--I did have a nice 6 point run during the first game. A few nice blocks and a couple notable spikes as well. So we've dropped below .500, but I'm very pleased overall by how we did against one of the best teams in the league. If we would just stop with the slumps.

One other note: I jammed my right thumb hard. At first I thought I might have broken it again (did that playing hoops in college), but it's nothing that some Advil and an icepack won't cure. Not the first time I've done that in volleyball. Soon my thumb is going to be as gnarled as my grandfather's.

Rock on,

Winning The War On The Sex Trade

I'm not sure this is what Bush meant yesterday when he spoke at the UN, but the AP reports:

Bombs rocked a teeming quarter of Baghdad and a sex-film theater in Mosul on Wednesday, reportedly killing at least three Iraqis and wounding dozens.

Apparently local religious leaders are none too happy about the lack of censorship in the post-Saddam era.

In other attacks not related to sex-films, the US killed 9 Iraqis as part of the ongoing "Operation Bodycount". The AP also reports that we might send more troops to Iraq, given that Bush somehow hasn't managed to convince anybody else to send any. Where's Westmoreland when you need him?


Haloscan Down

No commenting for a while. Sorry, but hey, you can't comment at Atrios or corrente or other Haloscan-based blogs either!


Peaking Too Soon


(via Bohemian Mama)


What Bush Could Have Said

Maybe something like this:

The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation's right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

And then he could have said "I'm sorry we violated these precepts when we invaded Iraq. I humbly ask the United Nations to help us right our wrong as we renew our committment to America's ideals."

That would've been great.


Saving The Tsalagi Language


The kindergarten teacher speaks to her class in Cherokee, telling the children to pull out their mats for nap time. Using their Cherokee names, she instructs "Yo-na," or Bear, to place his mat away from "A-wi," or Deer. Soft Cherokee music lulls them to sleep.

These youngsters' parents were mocked for speaking Cherokee. Their grandparents were punished. But Cherokee is the only language these children will speak in their public school classroom.

By immersing the youngsters in the language of their ancestors, tribal leaders are hoping to save one of the many endangered American Indian tongues.




The Angry General

The Hill:

Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark was conspicuous by his absence on last Sunday's talk shows. It's almost routine for anyone entering the White House race to be booked instantly for grilling.

But the word is that Clark's advisers, one of whom is the political operative formerly known as President Bill Clinton, have decided to carefully limit his media availability.

Apparently Clark has an anger management problem like my main man Dean. Or at least that's the meme people are trying to propagate.


Closer To Home

A bit alarming how much our engagement in Colombia appears to be flying under the radar:

U.S. involvement in Colombia is deepening rapidly and with relatively little public debate. With more than 2,000 personnel from 32 U.S. agencies, the embassy in Bogotá now surpasses that in Cairo as the largest U.S. embassy in the world. The U.S. now has more troops and civilian contractors on the ground in Colombia than ever before. As of July 2003, 358 U.S. troops were in Colombia. This represents a tripling of the 117 U.S. troops stationed in Colombia in November 2001, although it remains beneath the congressionally mandated cap of 400. Five U.S. citizens employed as contractors were killed in Colombia this year, and 21 U.S. government-titled aircraft have been downed there since 1998. the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel and Egypt.




A U.S. court in Oklahoma has blocked the national "do not call" list that would allow consumers to stop most unwanted telephone sales calls, the Direct Marketing Association said on Wednesday.

The U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City said the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its authority when it set up the popular anti-telemarketing measure, according to the DMA.

We must be ever vigilant against the corporatist scourge.


I Should Have Written This

ATimes echoes what I've said in the past, only better: Bush's dangerous singleminded dualism.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Shorter Pew Poll

The American public thinks Bush has screwed the pooch in Iraq and it costs too much.


Bush Reads Speech At UN

My fave graf from Bush's speech today:

Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides:

Ah, more binary "with us or against us" rhetoric. Must be great to have such moral clarity and such a simple worldview. What do you expect from a guy who ignores the news and only listens to the "objective" reporting of his staff?

between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos;

My first reaction was "yeah, and the chaos we spread in Afghanistan and Iraq show which side you're on." But I also see Bush's dictatorial bent here: he craves order. And if everybody would play by his rules, the world would be just fine. And ordered.

between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters;

Such a target-rich environment. I'm betting he's thinking AQ and Saddam are the gangsters. No sense of irony has this President.
between those who honor the rights of man, and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children without mercy or shame.

Bush linguistic gymnastics at its best. It's only bad when you deliberately kill several thousand people. Since we only accidentally killed all those Iraqis (the thousands of Iraqi soldiers notwithstanding), we're still the good guys, honoring the rights of man [sic].

Well, he certainly swayed my opinion, and I'm sure that of the international community. I expect they'll be lining up to bail out the US now. We'll be getting billions of dollars of reconstruction aid and hundreds of thousands of troops any day now.


A Stinky Anniversary

No, it's not been a bad day, but it literally has been stinky. Cairo tangled with a skunk for the second time in four years, though fortunately it wasn't as bad as her first encounter. For all you dog owners, here's a neat recipe for a wash that does a good job removing the skunk juice from your stupid animal:

1 quart of hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon dish soap

That's for a small dog--Cairo's about 50 pounds, so we used a double recipe. May your dog never bring the horrific odor of skunk into your home.


I Have A Bad Feeling About This

More on Bev Harris' work on the dangers of Diebold voting machines at Salon (do the free Day Pass):

Not only is the country's leading touch-screen voting system so badly designed that votes can be easily changed, but its manufacturer is run by a die-hard GOP donor who vowed to deliver his state for Bush next year.

The more I read about this, the more tinfoil I need.


Quote Of The Day

The administration fought against a $200 million boost for America's police officers, firefighters and paramedics, but Iraqi first responders would get $290 million.

- Sen. Byrd yesterday in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Bush's proposed Iraq reconstruction budget


BlogSpot Down Again

Looks like BlogSpot has gone on strike again for the past few hours. Sigh.



Today is the Autumnal Equinox, when the noon sun is overhead at the equator and night and day are equal length in all parts of the Earth. This astronomical event has marked holy days in many different religions for thousands of years. It is traditionally a time of family reunion, feasting and ritual to celebrate the harvest, and thanksgiving and rejoicing for all good things that have come throughout the year; it is a time of letting go of the past and turning to face the future. We decided it was the perfect day to celebrate the union of two equals in our marriage, and to recognize the continuity of humanity over thousands of years.

Unlike last year, when the rain moved off so we could have our wedding outside, this year it promises to stick around. Ah well, I have to work today anyway, but this afternoon the celebrating begins...


Monday, September 22, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Contrasting Headlines

Which one is the foot soldier for the Bush Administration?

* Faux: Bush Seeks Cooperation in Iraq.

* Guardian: Bush demands UN help in Iraq.

* FT: Shadow of Iraq looms large over Bush's speech to UN.


Changes To The Blogroll

There's been a little shuffling in the DM blogrolls:

Added to the Main Blogroll in the top nav: blogAmY, skippy and corrente.

Moved to the Fair And Balanced Blogroll in the left nav: Timshel, TPM, and Salam Pax.

That is all.


Clark Family Values


Somewhere between his stint in the Army and selling his first screenplay, Wesley Clark, Jr. -- Wes the son, the candidate's only child -- went three years without health insurance.

That's a remarkable detail, the sort of thing that would be inconceivable for a member of the Bush family, or the Deans, or the Kerrys. In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone in the Bush family wanting for a thing -- least of all Jenna and Barb, W's robust twins.

It's not widely known, but General Wesley Clark -- Wes the father -- is about to be a grandfather, courtesy of Wes Jr.'s wife, Ingrid.

And Wes the father knows that the only reason Wes the son has health insurance is because of a union contract...

Read all about the LA For Clark kickoff rally as reported by OSP's own Major Barbara.


PS--Yes, still watching LOTR. Just got an e-mail announcement about this, and felt compelled to post. 


Finally splurged on the 2nd Lord of the Rings DVD, and it arrived from Amazon today. See you in a few hours...


Clark Rises, Beats Bush

Interesting poll on CNN's Inside Politics just now. Can't find a story to link to yet, but IIRC Clark garnered 22% support from registered Dems, to Dean's 14%, with a 3.5% margin of error.

More intruiging is the finding that Clark beats Bush 49% to 46% (MOE 3%) and Bush beats Dean by the same narrow margin. But really, the race is tied folks.

More info when I can find it. [Update: finally got the link. I think Bill Schneider on CNN rounds a bit...]


Shorter Taliban Redux

Heck, all I need to do is copy and paste this headline from ATimes: US revives Taliban tryst in Afghanistan. Why don't we just work out a deal to tax the poppy farmers and be done with it.


Tough Road For IT Professionals

Just finished writing a draft script for a little video project I'm working on. Checking the trade rags, I read this in InfoWeek:

It's been only a few years since business-technology professionals commanded top-dollar salaries and job-hopped with impunity. That tide has turned, leaving IT pros unsure of how to regain the footing they once had--or whether they ever can. Once standing at the helm as American business explored an exciting new frontier, many workers now feel they're being left at the dock as employers ship more and more tech jobs overseas and--in the face of persistent U.S. IT unemployment--testify to Congress about the need to continue supporting the H-1B visa program to bring in foreign technology workers.
[T]he feds haven't been much help. A case in point is the Department of Labor's refusal to extend cash and job-training benefits to technology workers who have applied for aid under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which was established some 40 years ago to help manufacturing workers whose jobs were sent overseas. The reason: IT workers are usually classified by the Labor Department as services providers, not manufacturers who produce tangible "products."

The Dept of Commerce apparently has noticed the problem, but solutions beyond that aren't forthcoming. There's some sentiment that unionization isn't the answer, if only because the world of IT is actually quite large and diverse, though I'm not entirely convinced that should prevent organization and lobbying.

What bothers me about the situation is that we have an increasingly service-oriented economy, and the DOL isn't adapting with the times. Or maybe, given their attitude on overtime regulations, this just illustrates that they care as little about IT professionals as they do millions of other workers. Or perhaps I'm being too cynical.


PS--Is the training video I'm working on considered a product? I hope so. 

Dean's True Colors

From the BTV Free Press this weekend:

Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean wants a late charge waived for failing to pay his Burlington property taxes on time. He said he sent in a check before the deadline that city officials say they never received.
Bob Rogan, Dean's deputy campaign manager, issued a statement late Friday defending Dean's decision to ask that the late fee be waived.

"The governor is exercising his right, as a citizen of Burlington, to appeal the $76.01 in interest and penalties and will abide by the decision of the board," Rogan said. "This will come as no surprise to Vermonters, who are well aware that Howard Dean is a tightwad."

See? Fiscal conservative. :-)


Wow: WaPo On Dean

Really positive article in WaPo today: Dean, Driven by the Grass Roots - Bottom-Up Strategy May Turn Politics Upside Down. I won't even bother to excerpt. Just read.


Bush Jobs Program


The slumping American economy has proved to be a boon to the Army's efforts to recruit the 100,000 enlisted soldiers it says it needs this year to fill its active-duty and reserve ranks, senior Army officials say, so far relieving concerns that the turmoil in Iraq could crimp new enlistments.

There, Bush just created 100,000 jobs. I take back all the mean things I've said about him.


Sunday, September 21, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Fame Comes To Bill S

Faithful reader Bill S is now world famous, having just been featured in Ignatz award-winner* James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diary today:

Bill is the dude in the red hat. I am not making that up. Whether Bill can leverage this new-found fame into great fortune remains to be seen. Regardless, you should bookmark James' website and you should also buy his books.

Rock on,

* 2002 and 2003.


Brief K Street

So I just watched last week's K Street on HBO. Howard Dean was in this episode, and I thought he was actually pretty good--did a mean James Carville impersonation. Interesting behind-the-scenes peek at politics and I think I could get into the show.


Funny Analogy

Arab Times op-ed:

I am embarrassed to admit that I derive considerable amusement watching various members of the current US administration eating humble pie. I watched Colin Powell’s performance in Geneva with interest and was reminded of a story widely known in the Arab world.

A long time ago, a Turkish pasha (general) after retiring from the army fell upon hard times. His friends advised him to sell radishes in the market in order to earn a living. So he put some radishes on a tray and went down to the market to sell them. As he approached the market he remembered his days in the army where he commanded hundreds of men and was feared by all, and suddenly he felt humiliated. So he began to shout: "Radishes, you dogs! Fresh radishes, you donkeys!"

Need I say more?

Sorry, but I found that story funny.


Galileo Is Dead

At least I'm assuming so because a) we were s'posed to lose signal by now (takes 52 minutes to reach Earth from Jupiter), and b) I can finally get onto the JPL site. I had trouble with RealAudio, so couldn't watch the webcast in any case. The probe wasn't as cute as the Mars Rover, but the end of this chapter makes me sadder. Thanks again, Big G.


Pat K On BBC

FYI, Pat K from Lunaville will be on the BBC tonight:

We are in the process of setting up an On Air BBC interview for tonight.
Pat Kneisler will be discussing Coalition casualties. Hamit Dardagan the researcher for the Iraq Body Count web site will also be interviewed.

Listen online at The BBC FiveLive
When: 7:00 pm eastern time
Subject of the interview:

Is the public is becoming numb to the daily reports of deaths and injuries in Iraq, or is it that the sheer number of casualties has never been made clear? Is it dawning on the american public how costly Iraq is becoming in terms of the number of dead and seriously wounded US soldiers?

Have a listen.


Watch Galileo Live

Sorry this is late, but NASA's running a webcast at 2PM Eastern on Galileo's finale. The show will also be broadcast on NASA TV. For more info, go to JPL.


War's A-brewin'

Or maybe not. But Rick in Davis at The Likely Story has bailed on Dean (scroll down and read the five posts where you can watch the dark forces take over Rick's body and mind), while Billmon still defends him (in Billmon's usual dry whiskey manner), while Josh Marshall apparently blames him for everything bad about Clark (again, scroll down and read the myriad of Josh's "dirty tricks" conspiracy theories and other silly things). I don't have time for a debate, but I think Rick and Josh are misrepresenting a bunch of stuff and overreacting. Time for them to have a nice drink over at the Whiskey Bar.


Cato On The Rummy Gang

Cato Institute commentary yesterday:

[L]et us not insult the Best and the Brightest of the 1960s with those who accused Saddam of supporting Osama, who had promised to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and who were so sure that Americans would be welcomed as 'liberators' in Iraq and succeed in making the country a model of democracy for the entire Middle East. The Dumb and the Dumbest sounds a more appropriate title for the current crew.

Harsh, and accurate.


Shorter History Repeating

The PNAC types have given us a new twist on an old term: Iraqification.


Insightful Ha'aretz Op-ed

Ha'aretz on the recent UN vote wrt to "removing" Arafat:

Not every UN decision expresses political truth or an immaculate moral policy approach; and it has frequently happened that a legitimate, necessary Israeli measure has stirred automatic (and sometimes absurd) castigation in UN institutions. Yet the series of recent events in international diplomacy, a sequence that has perpetuated a situation in which Israel stands against a decisive majority of world countries (including European states), stems from a foolish, irresponsible decision reached by Israel's government.

Yasser Arafat, a cunning politician and a failed leader, bears responsibility for a large degree of Palestinian society's inability to transform as an orderly country; and under Arafat's regime, several of the most loathsome terror groups prosper and operate. Yet Arafat now has widespread international backing.

It is not that all countries of the world applaud his actions; and it can be assumed that many world statesmen are cognizant of the devastating damage that has been wrought by Arafat's policies. Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine that any country can condone the Israeli cabinet's decision to "remove" the rival leader, especially when government ministers make concerted efforts to clarify that the decision relates to Arafat's actual arrest, his expulsion or his being killed.
None of this means that the Palestinians ought to celebrate their victory. They are stuck with their leader no less than Israel is stuck with him; and, in all likelihood, the fact that Arafat's status is virtually unassailable in the international arena portends that the Palestinians, along with Israelis, can expect another period of impasse and bitter hardship.


The Bat Is Back (Again)

Matthew Gross at Blog for America:

We have ten days left in the September to Remember, and now is the time for us all to demonstrate that we have the power to take on Bush's Rangers and Pioneers-- and that we have the ability to take our country back from the special interests and win the White House in 2004.

You can see by the graphic on the right: We have five bats. Our goal is $5 million in the next ten days.

I've contributed the first $100 to the bat. And now, I'm reaching out to you-- asking you to contribute whatever amount you can, large or small.

I'm contributing knowing that my action, when combined with the actions of thousands of Americans who are part of our campaign, has the power to make a difference not just in our campaign, but in the future of our country.

Looks like it's time for the Troll Tax to be collected again. Click on the bat if you'd like to help.


US vs. the World: GPS And Misguided Men

BBC (via PRC News via Modulator):

[T]here's a European challenger to America's GPS supremacy, and after years of Euro-wrangling, the Galileo satellite constellation is about to enter its critical final phase. The European rival is deeply unnerving for the American military.
Due to be up and running in five years, and billed as the first wholly-civilian navigation system, Galileo consists of 30 small satellites...working together in a constellation.
Europe and America have clashed because America wants what amounts to a veto over Galileo in times of military need, in other words, to be able to knock out the entire Galileo system. The problem is that one of the main signals Galileo will use for its public service is the same as one the US military has also set its sights on. America claims this risks interference problems. The Pentagon also wants to be able to switch off any civil system at any time. But if it blocked the Galileo frequency, it would also be blocking its own military signal, obviously a disaster.

I find this all interesting because I have a couple handheld GPS receivers and find them extremely valuable while hiking and when I'm in unfamiliar cities. Plus I'm a geek.

Anywayz, the US has enjoyed a monopoly on GPS technology and apparently the military is reluctant to give that up, even when it's our allies providing the competition. Now Russia and China are signing on to this project as well, which only increases the concern. Recall that our posture is to prevent anybody from threatening our superiority of arms and technology, so this looks to be yet another area where a rift could develop that further cements the "US vs. Everybody Else" dichotomy.

I mentioned an article in a comment thread below that seems to be germane here as well. Niall Ferguson asks in the Summer 2003 issue of Hoover Digest: What Is Power?:

[P]ower is not just military power; or rather, military power depends on economic growth and political institutions.

Another line of argument is that power is diplomatic, not military: Precisely the threat posed to smaller countries by the power of the United States is encouraging them to combine against America.

This is an argument that has a special appeal to Europeans. They know that the EU is a military pygmy...However, by acting collectively and through the institutions of the postwar international order—the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, NATO—the Europeans may be able to restrain the United States. Samuel Huntington once argued that European integration was "the single most important move" as the rest of the world responded to American hyperpower and that it would ultimately lead to a "truly multipolar" twenty-first century. The fact that the United States spent weeks vainly trying to persuade France and Germany to back military action against Iraq suggests that there is at least some truth in this view.

So we might still have great military/technological power at the moment, but there are other forms of power and to a large extent BushCo has weakend the US in that respect. By valuing and exercising our military might over all else, we have lost standing and leverage in the world. In light of our quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq, where even bringing our great military power to bear has not produced the expected raging success, I submit that we have projected power from a position of weakness only to our detriment.

I especially like Ferguson's conclusion: partly about material things: guns, butter, men, money, oil. But it is also about morale. In a world characterized by the diffusion of most of the material elements of power, real power may therefore come to depend on having credibility and legitimacy. Faith cannot move mountains. But it can move men.

If we stay true to our ideals, we can be incredibly strong. Unfortunately, BushCo has undermined our founding principles at home and abroad, and we are no longer a real beacon of freedom or a constructive force for change in the world. That will have a greater negative impact on our security than Europe and China getting their own GPS.

As MLK said: "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."


[Update: changed the title and fixed some typos.] 

June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 April 2007


Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.

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