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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015 01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015 03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015 05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015 06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015 07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015 08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015 11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015 12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016 01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016 02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016 03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016 04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016 05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016 06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016 07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016 08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016 09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016 10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016 11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016 12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017 01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017 02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017


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Tuesday, February 25, 2003


At what point did this simpering, inarticulate, embarrassing excuse for a leader decide that all of these men were irrelevant, and that he and he alone possessed greater knowledge and insight than all of them and those before them? When and how did his minions and cheerleaders suspend disbelief, conjuring up hallucinations of emperor’s clothes that are not there, to arrive at the conclusion that this man, this lucky sperm club poster boy, has opinions or even a fleeting random thought that should be weighed on the same scales as great men of intelligence and accomplishment?

And now, we are to let this buffoon and his shadowy handlers lecture us and the rest of the world as to what is irrelevant?

OK, then. Whatever. No wonder we are the laughing stock. History will judge us for electing (if you can call it that) this imbecile. This President will be the one judged irrelevant, if he doesn't destroy the planet first. We can only hope that the rest of the world doesn't decide WE are irrelevant and leave us behind before we can remove this embarrassment and apologize for inflicting him on the world.

Thanks South Knox Bubba. I needed that.

Snow Art

Avedon Carol directs us to this beautifully composed snow picture. Notice how it clings so prettily to the trees.

To an Alaskan however, snow is abstract art, smashing all the conventions and everything in its way.

copyright1999-2002 by the very talented Alaskan art photographer, Kate Salisbury Wool

Our ships must all sail in the same direction. Otherwise, who can say how long your stay with us will last. It's not personal, it's only business. You should know, Godfather"

Bush Message Is That a War Is Inevitable, Diplomats Say

As it launches an all-out lobbying campaign to gain United Nations approval, the Bush administration has begun to characterize the decision facing the Security Council not as whether there will be war against Iraq, but whether council members are willing to irrevocably destroy the world body's legitimacy by failing to follow the U.S. lead, senior U.S. and diplomatic sources said.

In meetings yesterday with senior officials in Moscow, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told the Russian government that "we're going ahead," whether the council agrees or not, a senior administration official said. "The council's unity is at stake here."

A senior diplomat from another council member said his government had heard a similar message and was told not to anguish over whether to vote for war.

"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."

They figure that everyone is like a moderate Republican or a battered liberal. Do as we say or it'll only get worse for you. They assume that everyone will fall into line once they thwack their meaty virility on the table with a big huge thump. Maybe so. But, trust and esteem are destroyed and all you have left is force.

The fallout from this could be enormous.

UPDATE: Chris at Interesting Times has a great series of posts and links on the issue of Bush's credibility gap and how it affects our "diplomatic" efforts.

Federalist Society Star

Ashcroft said the defendants are alleged to have knowingly and intentionally sold the items for use with illegal narcotics. Many of the items were disguised as common objects like lipsticks or hi-lighter pens, used by students to elude detection as drug paraphernalia.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He said sellers of drug paraphernalia were just as responsible as others for the illegal drug trade. "They are as much a part of drug trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide," Brown said.

But...silencers are legal.

The Dauphin and his Advisors

John Judis provides a clear, succinct rundown of the screw-up otherwwise known as the Bush administration Iraq policy and strategy.

Again. This would be much less likely to happen if the person actually charged with making the decisions weren't an empty slogan in a suit. Everybody thought it would be a great idea to have a presidency run by a committee of grown-ups, just like say...Enron.

As ye sow and all that jazz.

Monday, February 24, 2003


Bush Faces Increasingly Poor Image Overseas

Passing Thought

Scott Rosenberg in Salon says of Al-Arian/Rove-gate:

In the meantime, the strange saga of Al-Arian should remind us all that defining terrorism is a far more complex problem than our current president's blunt moral compass allows. After all, Bush's own most trusted advisors, with all their intelligence resources, embraced the same Al-Arian whom they now seek to convict. Should Rove now show up on an FBI watch list for consorting with known terrorists? (And can anyone doubt that if 9/11 hadn't happened, Rove would still be courting the Al-Arian vote?)

Picture if you will the same story circa 1996. Would the words "resignation" not be in the frenzied headlines by the second day?

Lethal Technicalities

The other day I wrote a post asking people to suport the Innocence Protection Act. I wrote, "Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, I think it's fair to say that nobody believes in executing innocent people."

I was completely wrong.

Please, law and order types, please spare me any more whining about somebody getting off on a technicality. You live by technicalities, whether it's conflicting deadlines for counting votes or arbitrary cut-off dates for claims of actual innocence. And worse, you do it in the name of efficiency. At least the laws protecting defendents are in place to keep the country from turning into a lawless police state. You guys just want to make the trains run on time.

Sick, amoral and unjust. What is happening to this country?

Public Relations War

The Better Rhettor:

For months both major U.S. cable news networks have acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war.(Paul Krugman)

And how is this done, exactly? How is a population made to believe that war is inevitable, the enemy implacable, the government a source of unerring wisdom and might? Let us count the ways:

o The news programs with their zingy, multi-colored, eye-snagging graphics: "Target Iraq; "Countdown Baghdad" etc, as though war were comparable to a Monday night football game or an upcoming TV mini-series.

o The seemingly endless rounds of interviews with miscellaneous generals and preening pundits who discuss in lascivious detail the mechanics of war, i.e., the capacity of American missiles, the ideal weather for infantry attacks, the armaments of the Iraqi Republican Guard, as though questions of "why" and "whether" were irrelevant and all that remained were "how" and "when."

o The demonization of the enemy into a single malevolent personality—quick, who has the trendier one-word name these days, "Shaq," "Kobe," or "Saddam"?—who serves as a cartoon figure that forestalls more complicated discussions of history, politics, and economics. (What happened to "Osama," by the way? He’s off the "A-list," at least for now.)

o The relentless assaults on talk radio against the patriotism, character, morality, and mental stability of those who dare to oppose the war. You are either with us or you are morally defective.

The good folks at Political Research Associates have done a nice job of cataloging some of these antics as they have taken place on the covers of the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard in 2001-2002. The covers, when you consider them together, offer a fine example of how citizens are prepared to accept war as inevitable, their leaders as noble, and their enemies as vile, terrifying characters who deserve pretty much whatever they’ve got coming to them. Here’s the visual gallery, with a few of my own comments underneath each image:

Go see the gallery. It's amazing.

Wish I'd Said That

Kevin at Lean Left cuts to the chase of the Bell Curve debate:

The larger point is that it does not matter. Even if there was a strong correlation between race and "intelligence" (defined as you wish), it does not matter. It has no practical effect, other than the spread of racism. Why? Because the individual range is so obviously great.

Try it this way. Duke Ellington is a genius. Dr. Carver is a genius. John Rocker is a moron. History demonstrates that all races are capable of producing genius, and all races are capable of producing people so stupid you wonder if they will forget how to breathe, and of producing both in large numbers. In both "races", history shows us that genius is rare but not unknown, stupidity is less rare, and the vast majority muddle along in the middle. From a practical stand point, it does not matter if the median white is dumber than the median black. As a society, you must allow for the geniuses of both groups to flower, and build institutions to contain the damage the morons of both groups could do. To do otherwise would be to doom your society, in the long run.


Shock Jockying For Power

I was going to write a long piece dissecting Slate's assertion that shock jocks are the voice of liberal radio. There are some aspects of that thesis with which I agree, but the larger point is that they are not explicitly political, and more importantly, they are not consciously aligned with the Democratic Party in the same way the right-wing talkers blatently work hand in glove with the Republicans. To the extent shock jocks are political, they are like Ross Perot or Jesse Ventura -- they represent the male yahoo anti-vote. They are certainly not the answer to the imbalance on the AM dial.

However, Yuval Rubenstein at Groupthink Centraldoes such a thorough job of refuting the central theme of the article that I am going no further. Just go read it.

Talking Past Each Other

Calpundit writes a somewhat poignant post today.

For my part, I never meant to imply that Kevin is anything but a fine person and someone with whom I agree 99.9% of the time. I believe that the argument about "intelligence" is one of semantics and where race is concerned, I think that semantics are a huge issue. Kevin may disagree, but I don't think that there is any fundamental disagreement with respect to how we view race and racism. I wish that I had made that more plain.

Furthermore, I respect the angst and difficulty Kevin has had in coming to his position on Iraq and I recognize that this is so for many liberals. His position is not indicative of a knee jerk support of Dubyah or a sense of adolescent bloodlust like so much of the blogosphere. It comes from a sense that it is better to take care of the problem sooner than later even under our current terrible leadership.

But, I disagree. I do believe that terrorism and petty tyrants with nukes are exceedingly dangerous and that we cannot afford to disengage from those issues. But, I think that the way we do it is almost as important as doing it at all. In this modern world of cable news and internet chatrooms and seething resentment and economic interdependence it is no longer possible to be an imperial power without almost instantaneous blowback.

I believe that terrorism is the biggest immediate danger facing America and that the Axis of Evil could have been kept in a box long enough to subdue that threat, at least to some degree. I think that blowing our relationships with those in the region and allies elsewhere was absurd considering the threat we are under. I grant that my mistrust of this administration is so thorough that I cannot believe anything they say, but they have been singularly unconvincing in the matter of Iraq's immediate threat.

Public record shows that neoconservative foreign policy ideologues have been pushing for invasion for years and it shows that their most important rationale for invasion was to show the despots of the world that we would invade and overthrow those who would attempt to gain WMD. And they believe that this show of strength will change the dynamic in and of itself to one of a more acquiescent mid-east and a more reasonable Kim Jong Il.

This is what's wrong with the invasion. I believe it is likely to have the opposite effect that it is intended to have and indeed the situation in North Korea suggests that I'm right. I believe that to wait would have been a better choice.

But, I too commented back in October on another blog (in answer to the charge that that antiwar rallies would likely turn into pro-Saddam rallies) that says some of the same things that Kevin and others are saying now:

I don't think the pro-Saddam rally will be well attended.

But, there will be prayer vigils and sleepless nights on the part of those of us who hope that this incompetent administration doesn't fuck it up so much that all hell breaks loose in the region, including the real possibility of nuclear war and many american and arab casualties. And we'll be wishing fervently that terrorism on US soil doesn't become something we'll have to learn to live with because we just can't seem to kill all the people who hate our guts and multiply exponentially with every aggressive action that we take. And we'll sure hope that we can get some cooperation from the unstable regimes that finance them without having to invade and depose their leaders, too.

And, if everything works out, let's keep our fingers crossed that we can turn the mideast into a democratic paradise quickly because judging from our experience in Afghanistan, our President meant it when he said he "wasn't into nation building." We really don't need to fight this war again.

And I know that a lot of us will probably get together around the dinner table and water coolers to talk about the enormous sums of money remaking the mideast is costing, and will continue to cost for years to come, while we worry about whether we'll have jobs or health care or a chance of a comfortable retirement.

So, rather than attending pro-Saddam rallies, people who are against this war being waged by someone in whom they have no faith will instead be gathering together to fervently pray that his adventure goes perfectly every step of the way.

Once the die was cast, and I believe it was cast last August during the meetings in Crawford with all the military brass, I don't know that there was ever much we could do but register our doubts, make our statements, protest and go on the record and then hope that it doesn't go as badly as we think it might.

At this point, what choice to we have?

Atrios says it better than I can.

Sorry Kevin. I think I'm getting edgy. Wartalk and terrorism does that, what with the lack of sleep and obsessive internet reading. Enjoy the movie. Make it a comedy.


Charles Murtaugh writes: "Calpundit has become a one-stop shop for all my anguished-liberal needs," which made me wonder: Is there such a thing as an anguished conservative? I can't think of one.

And that observation, in turn, reminded me of the post I linked to from Interesting Times last week:

The two psychologists think that inept people are often self-assured because they lack self-monitoring skills, which are the same skills required for competence. Subjects who scored in the lowest quartile in tests of logic, English grammar, and humor were also the mostly likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they performed.

``Not only do (incompetent people) reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices,'' wrote Dr. Kruger, ``but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it

Ah. That explains it.

Degenerate Art

Why didn’t the artists speak out last night on the Grammys? I don’t know. I imagine it’s for many of the same reasons that many liberals in the US haven’t been speaking out --- fear of being called unpatriotic, the sense that 9/11 is sacred (and Iraq, however inexplicably, is attached to it), knowledge that the war is inevitable and a genuine feeling of ambivalence about the goals if not the motivations of those who are waging it. It is also true that the Grammy’s were in New York City; there are those who feel that it is hallowed ground.

And, one cannot look at this without noting that the corporation that owns CBS also owns MTV and VH1, and that the large corporate entities that created many of these “artists” have a huge stake in the success of George W. Bush’s administration. Self-interest is our civic religion these days even if it's subliminal.

But, I’d like to address another aspect of this issue. From what I’ve read today, it is taken as an article of faith from those on the right that artists are ignorant, ill-informed and so completely out of the mainstream that they should be treated as children and be seen and not heard. I have read at least 5 different comments today, and received several e-mails, saying that awards shows are properly places for the little tykes to clap their pudgy hands and giggle with glee when they get their nice awards, but they should leave the serious issues to the really important people (like warbloggers, presumably.)

(I have to say that calling artists “stupid” in the face of a president who cannot string two words together coherently is so chillingly obtuse that I’m afraid that a few of these people may be beyond reach. But, that’s another post….)

This view shows a complete lack of understanding of the history, function and purpose of art. So, let me try to clear up a few of the misconceptions that seem to be plaguing the right (who, as commenter Cheryl adroitly pointed out, revere the only entertainer to ever ascend to the presidency, Ronnie Reagan.)

There are two reasons why artists speak out on politics and why they tend to be overwhelmingly liberal. First, the practical reason is that they have an audience. It has been asked repeatedly why an awards show should serve as a platform for political sentiment. Well….


If artists/citizens feel strongly about a political issue they may also feel they have an obligation to use their access to large numbers of people to make that point. Those of us who blog or are actually active in politics from either side of the debate should understand this better than anyone. If you care, you try to persuade. And anybody who wants to can participate. It’s called democracy.

Which brings us to the second reason. Artists are overwhelmingly liberal because conservatives are always trying to tell them what they can and cannot say, write, paint, or make. There is nothing more precious to an artist than free speech and history is filled with examples of governments cracking down on art and speech they determine to be a threat to the nation. Even here in the US. And, certainly there. It is only logical that civil liberties would be of prime importance to artists, particularly those who use their art as a means of political expression and it should not surprise anyone that the more conservative and authoritarian governments are always the ones that are trying to curb them. Artists know this and usually support liberal politics as a result.

It is just reverse elitism to assume that the artistic community is any more stupid than any other group of people in this country. Some are, some aren’t. This smug snobbishness is quite revealing, particularly coming from the group that allows the likes of Jerry Falwell to speak for them on political issue ranging from taxes to war strategy.

I think it shows they’re scared. Smart Republicans understand something else about this phenomenon and that is that certain artists bring with them a powerful image that can be extremely useful if applied correctly --- Charlton Heston as Moses for instance --- Reagan in a cowboy hat. If the broad artistic community becomes truly engaged in politics, the right will have a problem on their hands. Popular Culture is a sleeping political and public relations giant and when it is awakened it can be a formidable foe. And it is overwhelmingly liberal.

And they know that the likes of Rupert Murdoch will never forego profits for politics. Ever. If the artistic communities make liberalism visible again, and by extension they make their art explicitly or implicitly political and profitable, the Republicans will be in trouble. FoxNews is only entertaining to dittoheads and masochistic Democrats. Everybody else is watching the real liberal media like Murdoch's most successful television show ever --- The Simpsons --- the most subversively liberal TV show in history.

The musicians did a big el-foldo. Let's see if the filmmakers can do a little bit better.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Imperialist Stunt

I saw this the other night and I almost couldn’t believe it. If it were anyone but Sy Hersh making the claim I would have to say it was tin-foil time.

When the war began, even though this is-- again, you know, this is complicated. Musharraf asked, as a favor, to protect his position. If we suddenly seized, in in the field, a few dozen military soldiers, including generals, and put them in jail, and punished them, he would be under tremendous pressure from the fundamentalists at home.

So, to protect him, we perceive that it's important to protect him, he asked us-- this is why when I tell you it comes at the level of Don Rumsfeld, it has to. I mean, it does. He asked-- he said, "You've got to protect me. You've got to get my people out."

The initial plan was to take out the Pakistani military. What happened is that they took out al Qaeda with them. And we had no way of stopping it. We lost control. Once there planes began to go, the Pakistanis began-- thousands of al Qaeda got out. And so-- we weren't able to stop it and screen it. The intent wasn't to let al Qaeda out. It was to protect the Pakistani military.

But, when you think about it, it actually makes sense in Bush terms. In order to preserve Musharref’s tenuous hold on a nuclear nation that could easily be overwhelmed by Islamic fundamentalists like the Taliban, the US had to agree to evacuate the Pakistani military who were helping to train the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. In the process, we evacuated al Qaeda and Taliban to Pakistan. From the war we were waging in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The more we hear of things like this the more plausible it really is that the Bush administration doesn’t find the terrorist threat to be very serious and the war with Iraq is being waged as an easy, splashy “pageant” meant to put the world on notice that they should simply give up in the face of our awesome Death Star technology. To do this, it must be an easy win. Whatever the consequences, they’ll wing it.

Neal Gabler makes this case in his "A splendid little war"

The Spanish-America War, like the imminent war in Iraq, had its origins not in any direct threat to American security or in treaty obligations to allies or even in some affront to American honor, but in a desire to project a new sense of the country's power and responsibility -- in historian Frank Friedel's words, "to see the United States function like a great nation." Though the world of the late 19th century was not, like ours, dominated by a single superpower, America possessed an abiding faith in her own moral superiority to every other regnant nation, just as it does today. This was (and is) not entirely without justification. At the time, America was certainly more idealistic than Germany, France, England, Japan or Spain. She believed in the values of democracy and equality even if she didn't always believe in their actual exercise -- Third World nations would need a lot of help -- and she increasingly saw her role as international cop, enforcing what other nations were too craven to enforce.

It’s probably only a coincidence, but Karl Rove calls himself a “student” of the McKinley presidency. (This is mostly because McKinley was really a creature of his political handler Mark Hanna, I suspect; they were almost always pictured together, as partners, in political cartoons like the one below.)

There are many other parallels between the two Presidents, not the least of which is that the war was fully supported, if not created, by the press. War --- but most especially victory --- is very good for the media business.

It would be a good idea, considering all this, to keep in mind that the rallying cry of “Remember The Maine,” referring to the incident that precipitated our declaration of war, was very likely an engine explosion, not a Spanish bomb, as we contemplate the impending and inevitable “material breach.”

Gabler concludes with:

In the end, as much as doves may hate to say it, Bush may be right. Why not go to war? The Cuban portion of the Spanish-American War did last less than 90 days, and it resulted not only in Spain leaving Cuba but in America taking Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines and thus asserting her power. But if Spain was quickly vanquished, the Philippine portion of the war dragged on for years as America tried to pacify insurgents there, resulting in 4,000 American dead and hundreds of thousands of Philippine civilian casualties. (Anyone looking for the analogy to Vietnam will find it here.) As the saying goes, watch what you wish for ...

Of course the assumption, in 2003 as in 1898, is that war will be quick and bloodless -- that it won't be hell but a piece of cake. At least, that is what the Bush administration is telling us and that is what many of us want to believe. We are going to war no matter what and no matter why. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is. We have been here before. It is 1898 all over again.

But, there were no Pakistans with nukes or bin Laden’s with al Jazeera. The world is much smaller now and the stakes are much bigger. This kind of adventure is beyond risky in the nuclear age. It's reckless.

Thanks to Testify for the NPR link

The Norwegians—who gave us the term "quisling"—awarded former President Jimmy Carter the Peace Prize
Ann Coulter

Kevin proposes that Jimmy Carter be appointed as civilian leader of Iraq.

Sure, conservatives hate him, but consider: he was president of the United States for four years and knows a bit about running a country. He's a prominent dove and would be trusted by lots of people who otherwise wouldn't give Bush the time of day. He's rather famously sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, which means he'd be trusted by the Arabs. And he's a humanitarian, which means he'd be genuinely motivated to help Iraq and the Iraqi people.

If Bush did this he would cut the Democrats off at the knees. It would be brilliant. It would be right.

It is, therefore, impossible.


Bush Cited Report That Doesn't Exist

Bush and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer went out of their way Thursday to cite a new survey by "Blue-Chip economists" that the economy would grow 3.3 percent this year if the president's tax cut proposal becomes law.

That was news to the editor who assembles the economic forecast. "I don't know what he was citing," said Randell E. Moore, editor of the monthly Blue Chip Economic Forecast, a newsletter that surveys 53 of the nation's top economists each month.

"I was a little upset," said Moore, who said he complained to the White House. "It sounded like the Blue Chip Economic Forecast had endorsed the president's plan. That's simply not the case."

Deputy White House Press Secretary Claire Buchan insisted Friday that the survey, which mentioned "the likelihood that some version of the Bush administration's latest stimulus package will be enacted," justified the president's claim. Moore said that a survey taken in January before the president announced his plan forecast 3.3 percent annual growth between the last quarter of 2002 and the last quarter of 2003. A survey taken in February reached the same consensus.

Sure. That makes sense. And, it's not like it's about sex or anything.

You kin keep yer 1945 Mouton Rothschild, Frenchy. It ain't no different than a 1998 Damianitza Melnik innyhow

BULGARIA is turning into a competitive threat to French wine exports to the US market after members of the US Congress said they were considering a boycott of all French goods, especially wines.

At the end of 2002, Bulgaria occupied sixteenth place in the list of wine exporters to the US with only about 209 000 litres, while France was the second leading exporter of wine to the US with more than 74 million litres, behind Italy, which is the top importer.

US lawmakers, angry over France's opposition to the White House administration's Iraq policies, are considering retaliatory gestures such as trade sanctions against the French, the Washington Post said last Wednesday. The 17 senators that are behind the move have reportedly initiated a subscription list as well.

Bulgarian-language media reports this week said that the US Embassy in Sofia, as well as trade attaches, have been instructed to co-operate in increasing Bulgarian wines' market share in the US.

"France and Germany are losing credibility by the day, and they are losing, I think, status in the world," House of Representatives Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay said, quoted by the Post.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, angered by France's policies on agriculture as well as on Iraq, has told associates he would like to target two of that nation's most sacred drinks: water and wine. Hastert talked to House members about slapping restrictions on French imports of bottled water and fine wine.

Thanks to Stoutdem

Rule 'o Law

Nathan Newman points out that Godwin's Law has already been repealed by...Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice.

But, he forgot my favorite:

"How could any German say such a thing after all the United States had done to liberate Germany from Hitler?"

Our President's national security advisor actually said that, yes she did.

American As Apple Pie

Dwight Meredith To Enter Baseball's Hall of Fame

Congratulations, Dwight! I'd love to attend the ceremony, but I'll be in Las Vegas where I hear the average winner at the Million Dollar Spin gets a million dollars. I could use the money.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

I've Got A Secret

Don't tell anybody, but there is a liberal media. It just isn't explicitly political very often. It's called Popular Culture.

Tomorrow night, some of the more outspoken popular icons will be appearing on the Grammy's. According to the LA Times at the Brit Awards last night:

Coldplay's Chris Martin broke away from the usual thank you speech Thursday at the Brit Awards, the local equivalent of the U.S. Grammys, to declare, "Awards are essentially nonsense, but we're all going to die when George Bush has his way -- it's good to go out with a bang."

Now, according the the esteemed fair and balanced Drudge, CBS has admonished the awards recipients and presenters:

"It, of course, is a final option [to cut the microphone.] But it's a very real option," said the top source, who demanded anonymity. "There is a time for political commentary, this is not one of them!"

Well now, isn't that special. Fred Barnes and Tucker Carlson may think that the entire country believes that loudmouthed, bowtied dough boys are sex symbols, but in the world that real people inhabit Springsteen, Eminem and Sheryl Crow are just a little bit more uh...familiar. The fact is that if more and more people start saying this stuff out loud, it may reach critical mass and result in curbing the radical excesses of this administration.

I think it's time for the real liberal media to start flexing it's muscle.

Via Jesse

(Oh, and for those who think that celebrities speaking out on politics is silly, think again. It certainly isn't any more inappropriate than bloggers like us spouting our political opinons all over the blogosphere. We're a bunch of citizens sufficiently engaged and informed that we feel the need to express our opinions and join the debate. The difference is that celebrities have audiences of millions and I guarantee that the only people who'll really criticize them for speaking out about politics are those who disagree with them. Frankly, from the level of political discourse I hear on cable news these days, the professional pundits sound so tired and programmed that even I can't listen to it anymore it's so boring. Time to change the channel.)


SHOCKER!!! Drudge lied. Hard to believe.

Bell, Book and Crossburning

Ok, so I can’t resist jumping into this debate about race and intelligence with an observation. Kevin Drum says: In particular, liberals are forced to make the following argument[s]: Intelligence isn't really a meaningful trait.

If this is so, then I would have to say that liberals have won this argument hands down. How else can one explain the dizzying popularity of George W. Bush in conservative circles? Ba-dum-pum.


I argued earlier on Atrios’s blog (and he quotes me today) about the obvious racist implications and conclusions of The Bell Curve. It is irrefutable that the science underlying these conclusions and the statistical analysis they used have been thoroughly rebutted. But, that doesn’t really address the main thrust of Kevin’s post.

First, I agree with Kevin that “intelligence” in the sense of somebody being ”a smart cookie” is the common sense kind of assessment we make every day. But, many people who test very well do not appear to be “smart cookies” and the opposite is also often true. The common sense assessment is made through a thicket of personal prejudices and experiences. And history as well as current examples show that cultural influence has a huge effect on how one interprets intelligence. I’m reminded of a work colleague who when faced with hiring one of either a black or a white candidate said to me, “I don’t know, I just lean toward hiring (the white guy). He seems to be more on the ball.” I asked him why he thought that and he replied, “He reminds me of myself when I was his age.”

Kieren Healy ascribes to Kevin a desire to be “reasonable” as the reason he waffles from what appears to be a defense of the idea that IQ tests show that African-Americans are less intelligent to an acknowledgement that socio-economic and other factors properly mitigate the disparities between African- Americans and others.

I think we are talking about two different things there and they get to the main thrust of Kevin’s argument, which is that because liberals are so afraid of the information about intelligence being used to promote eugenics or eugenics based policy that we are “forced to make the following arguments: Intelligence isn't really a meaningful trait. And even if it is meaningful, IQ tests don't measure it well. They are culturally and racially biased. And even if intelligence is measurable, it doesn't have a significant genetic component. It's mostly based on environment and upbringing.”

Atrios argues that liberals merely resist using the word “intelligence” when discussing disparities in test score results because it implies immutability --- something that can lead inexorably to racism in a culture that Kevin and many others would agree finds “intelligence” to be a valuable asset to society as a whole. In his mind the argument is one of semantics and I think that is correct. It is important to understand how the meaning of words is twisted to advantage in areas like race and be cautious about falling into a trap laid by those who are very aware that what they say has multiple layers of meaning to people who care to look.

In many ways, the crux of the entire discussion we’ve been having lately about the Southern Strategy, racism and political correctness is one of semantics. One side argues that “it is what it is” and the other argues that there is more to it. We are arguing the meaning of words and phrases and it doesn’t seem useful, to me, to pretend that these semantic differences aren’t tremendously significant. So, in the interests of maintaining credibility, those who study the differences between the races in standardized test scores should be very specific and resist the urge to use terms like intelligence, or at the very least they should be very careful to state (as Murray and Herrnstein did not --- and in fact did the opposite) that IQ and g are very definitely NOT immutable characteristics.

But, beyond that is Kevin’s assertion that liberals believe that IQ tests don’t measure intelligence well. I think is a fair characterization of one liberal position on the topic. They point to data that suggests that these tests in themselves aren’t very predictive of success in life (which somewhat refutes the point of Kevin’s argument --- that we need to raise the test scores so African-Americans can be more successful.) “Intelligence” as measured by IQ tests does not take into account the huge number of variables that go into potential individual success, for which the IQ often serves as a proxy. It is worth noting again, that when the tests are properly adjusted for SES, the disparities disappear. Therefore, when many people say that IQ tests don’t measure intelligence well, this is the kind of thing they are talking about. In and of themselves, they only present a part of the picture and yet there are those who persist in believing that testable cognitive ability alone is a meaningful measure. It is not a liberal rejection of the science, it is a liberal requirement that the science be careful and complete.

I don’t know whether intelligence has a significant genetic component. I don’t think anybody does yet. I don’t doubt that g is heritable to some degree, but I have seen nothing to indicate that the heritability of g is related to the heritability of superficial racial characteristics, which can be dominant or recessive from generation to generation, like any other genetic trait. From a genetic standpoint, the differences between the races are extremely small and our measurement of g is very crude, so I think the jury is still out. But, I do know that race in this country is an interpretive art, a social construct, more than anything else. When the science is able to do it, it’s going to be very interesting to find out where we all fall in the racial spectrum because it’s been defined up to now by everything from what color your great grandfather was to what you chose to call yourself on the official form you just filled out.

Atrios published an additional comment of mine regarding the scientific vs the political aspect of this debate. Science is under attack from the Right in this country far more than from the Left. I adamantly believe that it is important to fight this in every way at our disposal and that means with scientific as well as political arguments. In the case of racism, it sometimes requires a bit of both to make the point.

But, there is no margin in allowing Murray and Herrnstein even a moment of credibility on any level and it is exceedingly important to recognize that these old and tired eugenic arguments can easily be dressed up in the modern language of science for a lay reader who is looking for something “scholarly” to back up his gut feeling that “those people” just aren’t as smart as they are.. We can argue about logistic regression and the immutability of g until the cows come home, but those people who bought that stupid book (and the media that shamelessly plugged it because it was “sexy”) need to be put on notice that it is nothing more than a racist screed pretending to be science. It’s exhausting, and people get tired of hearing it, but as Kevin points out, we must face the truth squarely. And the truth is that The Bell Curve is a racist book and was written to serve a racist agenda.

Edited 2/22 6 pm for hilarious mistake --- see comments.

Friday, February 21, 2003

"I believe what I believe and I believe what I believe is right."

Chris at Interesting Times finds a very interesting article that will go into the "What Make's These Crazies Tick" folder immediately.

The two psychologists think that inept people are often self-assured because they lack self-monitoring skills, which are the same skills required for competence. Subjects who scored in the lowest quartile in tests of logic, English grammar, and humor were also the mostly likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they performed.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Seth Michaels comments on the article everybody's talking about.

Here's a well-done, if depressing, article on how the concentration of Democratic campaigns in the hands of a few firms is hurting them in elections. I can think of a few good object lessons (the article has a lot of blind quotes and so tends to avoid mention of specific campaigns): 2002 candidates like Jeanne Shaheen and Erskine Bowles and Chellie Pingree got beaten in part because of the bland, prefab feel of their campaigns - especially the August-to-November unblinking drone of social security and prescription drug commercials. On the other hand, the most successful campaigns of 2002, the pleasant surprises, were Tim Johnson and Mary Landrieu, who each found a very specific, very local issue on which to draw contrasts between themselves and Team Bush (drought relief for Johnson, sugar for Landrieu). And I don't think anyone doubts that Paul Wellstone, had he lived, might have won not in spite of his opposition to an
Iraq war but because of the principled contrast it created. Will the D's learn their lesson in time for 2004?

By the way, Seth culls all the blogs and has some sharp commentary and interesting insights into the sausage making and strategic workings of party politics. He is a good place to start when you're pressed for time and you want to get a snapshot of the inside political dope of the day.


It is hard to explain just how thoroughly Rupert Murdoch and his cadre of greedy sharks have ruined my baseball team, the Dodgers. They have systematically destroyed the tradition that survived everything from Branch Rickey's noble decision to sign Jackie Robinson and end the color line in baseball, to the move out to LA to recreate themselves from the Brooklyn Bums to the classiest team in the national league (or at least a perennial contender.)

They destroyed the best farm system in baseball, hired (then mercifully fired) Texas Republican psych case Kevin Malone who Enroned the team for the forseeable future with contracts for old and/or worthless banged up pitchers worth many, many tens of millions and stripped the club of virtually all ties to its century long legacy. (Not to mention treating the best manager in baseball, Mike Scioscia, so badly that he left the organization he'd been born to manage to take our crosstown rivals to the world series instead.)

Now that NewsCorp achieved its goal of keeping Disney out of the sports media market in Southern California, they are selling the team (which they only bought for the purposes of gaining the media rights in the first place.) I'm surprised they haven't fired Vin Scully as a cost-cutting measure.

This week, to add insult to injury, that fishwrap piece of shit the NY Post had to print another speculative "outing" piece in it's heinous gossip pages that has resulted in the embarrassment and resignation of one of the greatest baseball players in history from the only organization he ever worked for.

Koufax Shuts Out Dodgers

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, whose brilliance on the mound captivated fans in the 1960s and defined the Dodgers' greatest era in Los Angeles, has severed ties with the club in protest of another News Corp. subsidiary.

Koufax, a very private man who established a standard for pitching excellence in four of the most dominant seasons in the game's history from 1963-66, recently informed the Dodgers he would no longer attend spring training here at Dodgertown, visit Dodger Stadium or participate in activities while they are owned by the media conglomerate, because of a report in the New York Post that apparently intimated that he is homosexual. The Post is owned by News Corp.

Through friend Derrick Hall, a Dodger senior vice president, Koufax declined comment Thursday night, but officials familiar with the situation said the legendary left-hander, and Vero Beach resident, broke off ties after 48 years in response to a two-sentence gossip item published in the Post on Dec. 19. The Post reported that a "Hall of Fame baseball hero" had "cooperated with a best-selling biography only because the author promised to keep it secret that he is gay. The author kept her word, but big mouths at the publishing house can't keep from flapping." Koufax, who was not specifically named by the paper, is the subject of Jane Leavy's acclaimed biography, "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy," published last September.

News Corp. is undertaking steps to sell the Dodgers, but the timetable doesn't help team officials saddened by what they perceive as the Post's unfair treatment of Koufax.

Expressing his feelings to the Dodgers through Hall shortly after learning of the report, Koufax said "it does not make sense for me to promote any" of the companies controlled by News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, adding he would "feel foolish to be associated with or promote one entity if it helps another." Hall said Koufax stressed, "I have no problems with the Dodgers or their current or previous management. It's more so about [News Corp.]."

Whatever his sexuality, he isn't a whore. And I imagine his sissy, hall-of fame fast ball could still knock Rupert on his ass from 90 feet away.

Folie a Deux?

Reading this interesting post on SullyWatch, I was stuck by an irony concerning the “cheese eating surrender blah,blah,blah” mantra. They wrote:

So, while it's fair to say that the French military hierarchy was outsmarted, the “surrender-monkey” theme is completely inappropriate. But then, I guess it takes a lot more thought to yell “Followers of an obsolete military doctrine!” than “Pussies!”

The French in WWII were the followers of an obsolete military doctrine.

Here is an analysis of The Bush Doctrine from the Commonweal Institute.

In many respects the defense policy initiatives undertaken by the Bush administration in the wake of 11 September do not closely correspond to the threat. For instance, the administration has resurrected a traditional Realist paradigm despite the post-modern (non-state) character of the new terrorism. Also prominent among the administration's policy responses has been an acceleration of the anti-ballistic missile defense program, sterner rhetoric regarding Iraq and North Korea, and a military modernization program focusing largely on traditional military structures and platforms.

The Bush Doctrine is an obsolete military doctrine before it has even been tried. But then, in a rapidly changing world, stale policy papers written by wild-eyed idealistic zealots aren’t usually adopted word for word by great powers.

Oh wait...

I’m Out Of The Loop

Charles Pierce in a (great, as always) letter to Altercation says:

Wait, now. This Michael Savage knucklehead to whom MSNBC shamefully truckles on a weekly basis now is the same Michael Weiner whose association of aluminum with Alzheimer’s Disease once had people tossing out their cookware (bad), and briefly threatened to cause the demise of canned beer (good), and is altogether the cause of no little hilarity every time real AD researchers get together? This is the same guy? This is the new voice of the patriotic Right? A patent medicine salesman? The Whitley Strieber of AD research? What’s next? Art Bell, Biochemist? When did this start making sense?

THAT Michael Savage is this Michael Savage?

The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays Souza, Too

Taking a page from Poppy's successful "they're ripping the babies from the incubators" PR effort in Gulf War I, President Rove created a group called the Committee For An Independent Iraq. It's run by a bunch of PNAC neocons and gullible front men (like Bob Kerrey) to "sell" the war, particularly to the Europeans, which explains why a US lobbyist helped draft Eastern Europeans' Iraq statement

From the W. Post:While the Iraq committee is an independent entity, committee officers said they expect to work closely with the administration. They already have met with Hadley and Bush political adviser Karl Rove. Committee officers and a White House spokesman said Rice, Hadley and Cheney will soon meet with the group.

This article from November 2, 2002 in the Asia Times lays out the history and connections of the "Committee."

It's always the same names and the same faces. And unsurprisingly, the much vaunted Eastern European statement of support, the document for which Chirac has been excoriated for taking the "New Europeans" to task over, turns out to be another Neocon/Rove sell job.

A Radical Foreign Policy Shift

FYI: The following are the three primary documents that explain the Bush policy of "pre-emptive war and American military empire. You will notice that the threat of global terrorism remains an incidental issue (made useful as a opportunistic public relations tool after 9/11) that presented no reevaluation of the overall geopolitical strategy and engenders no fundamental shift in priorities.

Excerpts from Wolfowitz 1992 Defense Policy draft

PNAC document "Rebuilding America's Defenses"

The Bush Doctrine

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Global Manifest Destiny

Did everybody watch this?

Quite a few Americans are probably aware of this, but it's the first time I've seen any mainstream news program tackle this vital story about the real reasons and the tactics being used by the administration to take this country into war. I very much doubt that the majority of this country, both Republican and Democrat, know they signed on to American Empire when George W. Bush assumed the office.

I hope hard working Americans enjoy working 7 day weeks (while the terrible French and Germans are drinking their white wine and eating their brie-n-cheese at the beach) because global military dominance is expensive and nobody's signing on to help.

Faith Based Space Weapons

More Missile-Defense Madness

While the world awaits war in Iraq, little attention has been paid to President Bush's military budget proposal for next year—less still to a line item that would have attracted enormous notice in more placid times. This is the Missile Defense program, the successor to what, in Ronald Reagan's day, was called the Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars." The program's budget, which was released to no fanfare on Feb. 3, is startling for a couple of reasons.


...to go with the big boost, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has asked Congress to exempt Missile Defense from the law that requires all weapons systems to undergo operational tests before being deployed in the field. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee's ranking Democrat (and the only lawmaker raising a fuss about this move), noted that the purpose of this law is "to prevent the production and fielding of a weapon system that doesn't work right." Yet Rumsfeld, justifying the bypass, said, "We need to get something out there," in case, say, North Korea attacks us with ballistic missiles soon.


Finally, if Bush is worried about rogue states and terrorists blowing up Americans, as he has even more reason to be, he should do more to stave off attacks that might take place tomorrow. Last November, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees offered Bush a free ride on this road. It passed an amendment that allowed him to take $814 million out of Missile Defense, transfer it to the Department of Homeland Security, and spend it there in whatever ways he saw fit. Bush turned the offer down.

It vas not in ze plan. Nothing must interfere with ze plan.

Katerina VandenHeuvel said tonight that Rumsfeld should resign. Frankly, I'm not sure he shouldn't be committed. This is so freakishly muddleheaded that somebody, somewhere has got to get him out of there.

He is actually saying that we should spend massive billions to put up a primitive missile shield that has never worked in the past and we shouldn't test it further because "we have to get something out there" in case North Korea attacks. Oooookay.

He thinks that Kim Jong Il and others are really, really stupid (like his boss) and they will stop building ballistic missiles if we put up a useless multi-billion dollar erector set in Alaska and just tell everybody that it can blast every offending missile from the sky kinda like in Star Wars. North Koreans are so dumb they can't even read the Washington Post so they'll never know that missile defense doesn't work and that even if it did, it couldn't possibly stop more than one or two missiles.

So, they'll send a whole bunch! And soon. Just in case the technology might get better later on.

Of course, if Kim Jong Il isn't as stupid as Rumsfeld's boss (actually it's hardly even possible) so he will likely assume that if they do happen to blast 20 or 30 million Americans away, they'll be blown into the stone age by our ICBM's. So, seeing as they cannot possibly be stupid enough to risk that, they will probably not send any missiles our way in the first place.

Kinda neat. I think they should call it Mutually Assured Destruction. (And they should call the untestable missile defense system they are building "Welfare For Rich Republican Contributors")

Meanwhile, Osama's probably been making deals with Pakistan and the former Soviet states for spent uranium and other goodies, but we don't have time for that kind of thing. Micronesia might be planning to unleash a Doomsday machine any day now. We'd better pretend to get prepared by pretending we have a super-duper laser beam bomb annihilator thingy. That'll stop 'em in their tracks.

The Rest Of The World Is Not The Democratic Party

The most dangerous result of the years long ascension of the radical wing of the Republican Party is that they have been so successful at turning the Democratic Party into poster children for Battered Liberal Syndrome. (Witness the stomach churning spectacle of Zell Miller rhetorically sharing a big slurpy soul kiss with President Smirk today.) And in doing this they have become so filled with satisfaction and assurance of the rightness of their strategy that they are now convinced that they can dominate the world by using the same tactics of aggression and intimidation.

The problem is that the rest of the world is not the Democratic Party, so cowed by the endless rhetorical violence against them that they will do anything to avoid angering the unpredictable GOP beast. The rest of the world fights back when they are threatened by a bunch of flaccid bullies because they have dealt intimately with some fearsome monsters that would make schoolyard imitators like Junior and the Retreads reach for a Maxi-Depends.

One of the few Democrats who has been mercilessly treated as a punching bag yet remained intellectually honest and fiercely combative against these nasty tactics is Rep. Barney Frank. In this interview he tells it like it is:

Rep. Frank said he does not believe the administration any longer believes Saddam Hussein is a threat or that its tax-cut program focused on eliminating dividend taxes will stimulate the American economy.

"They have broader ideological goals," he said.

"Those goals are to democratize the Middle East and end the era of social spending on popular government programs," he said.

Saddam Hussein is actually quite limited in his power, as opposed to some place like North Korea, which has at least some nuclear weapons, Rep. Frank said.

"Saddam Hussein is almost kind of like Gulliver. He's tied down. Except he's the Lilliputian and we're the giants," he said. "Yes, he would like to do bad things but he's in no position to do them."

"The right wing believes that the invasion of Iraq is an opportunity to democratize the Arab world, he said. It believes imperialism is good if the imperialist is good," he said.

Junior "gits to decide" who's been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Read My Dictionary

Bush's 2004 Budget Proposes More Fees

If President Bush has his way, some veterans soon will pay more for health care, meatpackers will have to fork over more for government inspections, and visitors could encounter recreation fees at more national parks and forests.

It is all part of a White House plan to increase revenue by billions of dollars next fiscal year through new and higher user fees. Such charges -- generated by services the government provides and the businesses it regulates -- would pull in $176.3 billion under Bush's 2004 budget, an increase of $5.9 billion from this year's estimated receipts.

Bush: A tax raise? 'Not over my dead body'

"Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes," Bush told the wildly applauding crowd.

Mirriam Webster:

Main Entry: tax
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Date: 14th century
a : a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes
b : a sum levied on members of an organization to defray expenses

Of course, he did mangle the language, as usual, and say "not over my dead body," so he can slide out of it on a technicality. Republicans love technicalities. Like "winning" presidential elections with 5-4 votes on the Supreme Court after having lost the popular vote. So, I won't be holding my breath for him to follow through. Still, it would be nice if a Democrat or two mentioned it, don't you think? Just to see the Republicans spin like a top?

Thanks to Pandangon--- and check out his new digs.


In light of what is clearly the utter failure of the administration to follow through on any promise other than "tax cuts for millionaires" and "invade Iraq" (like those photo-op pledges to front line emergency workers like the heroic firefighters) Thomas Spencer asks:

Isn't it pretty outrageous that the Republicans ran that reprehensible campaign for the midterms in November accusing Democrats of not doing enough to support homeland security?

The rule of thumb is that whatever they accuse the Democrats of doing is what they are doing themselves. Projection as political strategy.

Freudian Projection:

"A defense mechanism in which the individual attributes to other people impulses and traits that he himself has but cannot accept. It is especially likely to occur when the person lacks insight into his own impulses and traits."

"The externalisation of internal unconscious wishes, desires or emotions on to other people. So, for example, someone who feels subconsciously that they have a powerful latent homosexual drive may not acknowledge this consciously, but it may show in their readiness to suspect others of being homosexual."

"Attributing one's own undesirabe traits to other people or agencies, e.g., an aggressive man accuses other people of being hostile."

"The individual perceives in others the motive he denies having himself. Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest. The would-be adulterer accuses his wife of infidelity."

"People attribute their own undesirable traits onto others. An individual who unconsciously recognises his or her aggressive tendencies may then see other people acting in an excessively aggressive way."

"Projection is the opposite defence mechanism to identification. We project our own unpleasant feelings onto someone else and blame them for having thoughts that we really have."

Sound familiar?

Get This Guy A Radio Show

Thanks to MWO, this transcript gave me a real belly laugh.

Crossfire Monday:

CARLSON: I would say there is a deep strain of unreasonableness in the French culture.

In the wake of 9/11, one of the single best sellers in France is a book, as you know, called "The Big Lie," that claimed that the attacks on the World Trade Center were all part of a conspiracy by the Bush administration. I mean why should the United States listen to a nation that would buy a book like that?

JUSTIN VAISSE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Of course. But then why should France listen to a nation that has newspapers like [The New York Post]? I mean that's outrageous.


VAISSE: No, I think that -- I really think that's not a good argument to make. And you know you mentioned that Tom Friedman's column saying that France was isolating itself just, you know, to make -- to posture to seem important and all that. But, you know, let me remind you that President Chirac -- in France, people are opposed to the war without the second resolution by 74 percent. But in the rest of the world, it is more like in the 90s -- 90 percent.

And so of course Chirac is isolated. He's somewhat isolated. But you know he's isolated with billions of people. And so I think -- you know, I think it is right that somebody is making the point.


EPSTEIN: Well, you know, I think that it -- again, it's regretful that France has been so public in its I think undermining of the Bush administration. I think that Bush, by the same token -- you know Teddy Roosevelt had the adage walk -- talk softly, carry a big stick. I think Bush has replaced that with a competing version, which is a diplomatic bull in a china shop...

CARLSON: But just, honestly, just correct the misperception here. This is not simply an effort by the administration to beat up on France. This is coming -- there's a deep wellspring of anti-French feeling in this country, and it's going to have consequences. This is a bottle of French wine. This is a bottom [sic] of American wine.


VAISSE: It is bigger.

CARLSON: And it's bigger. That's exactly right. More forceful. There will be Americans who boycott French products. This in the end is really going to hurt France, isn't it?

VAISSE: No, I think it is going hurt wine lovers.

And people think a funny liberal couldn't take down a right wing blow-hard...

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

And Furthermore

"America has been the victim of a horrendous crime, and the barbarians of radical Islam, we know, will again use terror against the U.S. (and against targets in Europe too, don't forget) if they can. They must be rooted out, and the deep causes of the crime addressed, even as we bring the particular terrorist networks to justice. But this complex task cannot be undertaken if we divide the world into the Manichean simplicities of George W. Bush: Those who are not for America must necessarily be against America. This is not good enough from the leader of the free world -- and it's certainly not good enough before the evil of the threat we face. We need sophistication, wisdom, the widest coalition possible, legitimacy -- and, of course, a willingness to use force if every other avenue has been closed. Instead, we hear the language of pre-emptive war (which was outlawed by the Versailles Treaty of 1919) -- and this from the greatest and most admired democratic republic in the world, a country that has always prided itself on its respect for law, at home and abroad. Europeans expect much, much more from America."

Most Americans do, too.

NY ObserverVia Joe Conason

Oh My Yes

Last week Bush careened from restrained but persistent evangelism before a convention of religious broadcasters to casual trash-talking with sailors in Jacksonville, Fla. "The terrorists brought this war to us — and now we're takin' it back to them," he told the troops, leaning an elbow on the lectern, squinting crosswise at the camera, tossing a breathy Clint Eastwood chuckle. "We're on their trail, we're smokin' them out, we've got 'em on the run." One imagined the French Foreign Minister watching this lunch-hour martial spectacle and choking on his baguette.


The American tradition of wartime leadership seems more subdued. The most memorable images are gaunt and painful: the haunted Lincoln; the dark circles under Franklin Roosevelt's eyes; Kennedy standing alone, in shadows, during the Cuban missile crisis. This is a moment far more ambiguous than any of those; intellectual anguish is permissible. War may be the correct choice, but it can't be an easy one. The world might have more confidence in the judgment of this President if he weren't always bathed in the blinding glare of his own certainty.


It's The Incompetence, Stupid

New polls

Every single elected Democrat should be hammering on the sheer incompetence of the George W. Bush administration. Even if it's really Clinton's fault, even if it's a complicated issue, even if the rest of the world is a bunch of nincompoops who just can't be trusted, the job of President is to HANDLE IT AND GET THE JOB DONE.

He's not handling it and people know it.

Power To The People

Check out the cool movie tribute to the week-end demonstrations over on blah3.

And, I've been meaning to link for a couple of days to this great piece by Zizka on the value of hysteria.

Already we liberals have had to get used to the accusations of treason. Once the war starts, these will get worse. The Bush administration has already made comparable accusations against unccoperative Congressmen. We can expect that to get worse too, and the Democrats seem incapable of resisting effectively. If the war goes badly, God forbid, things will get worse yet; and when the economy stalls on top of everything else, as it seems very likely that it will, we can expect a further escalation of unofficial and official attacks on us.

So yeah, I'm paranoid and hysterical. If you have a problem with that, bite me. In certain periods of history it's been the paranoids who survived. Are we living in one of these periods?

We gotcher internal threat for ya right here.

He can always call his daddy, right?

Krauthamer just said that Carol Mosely-Braun, a former US Senator from Illinois, former Ambassador to New Zealand and veteran of 10 years in the state legislature has the thinnest qualifications in Presidential political history.

I can think of at least one other person who ran for the office with even thinner qualifications, can't you?

Meanwhile, back at home, the Federalists are coming

Check out Seeing The Forest's look at Unca Nino and self-government.

these guys are exhausting...
More Evidence

If anyone can stand to be even more impressed by the skillful handling of the Iraq situation by the grown-ups, read this by Jeanne D'Arc.

Blinkered Agenda

Soto over at Daily Kos does some more damage to Tom Friedman and also references this important article by Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker on the Mid-east grand plan.

But as you read the Lemann article and evaluate the arguments by Feith, Cambone, and Wurmser in support of this grand plan, two things may strike you. First, the whole scenario above assumes that Al Qaeda does nothing during this domino-toppling in the Middle East, that all of these quasi-regime changes would take place over months and years against a backdrop devoid of Al Qaeda. Secondly, what is absent in these hoped-for developments are any Israeli actions towards progress with the Palestinians, as if the current situation can be frozen for several years while our grand plan evolves.

In other words, this Administration's world view is based on the premise that only a military solution can deal with 9/11 and the Middle East, resulting in years of occupation, war, nationbuilding, domestic terrorist attacks, deficit spending, and "Pentagon or nothing" budgeting.

I think it’s actually worse than that. These guys never believed, and even after 9/11 still don’t believe, that terrorism is a serious problem. They are focused on their geopolitical gameboard and thus are unwilling and unable to analyse the changing situation in the mid-east (or anywhere else for that matter.) They've got a list and they're checkin' it twice. Don't confuse them with inconvenient details.

Jason Vest wrote the following in TAP in June of last year:

Why wasn't the threat posed by al-Qaeda -- the only entity in recent years to attack U.S. government installations -- foremost in the administration's mind?

There are a lot of potential replies to that question, but the short answer -- and the most convincing one -- is that the Bush administration was still fighting the Cold War. Hence its unhealthy obsession with that weapons relic known as the Star Wars program, and with re-creating a bipolar world in which China would take over enemy duty for the Soviet Union, while Cuba remained a vital threat. Going up against a new evil empire and its satellites, or a regional hegemon, is familiar stuff; asymmetric war against a decentralized enemy with a complex geo-theological worldview isn't.


There's no need to take this critic's word for it; just visit the Center for Security Policy's Web site. Judging from the dozens of "reports" the center has issued since the August 1998 embassy bombings, the most urgent threats to American national security are, in no particular order: China, ballistic missiles, Cuba, Iraq, and threats posed to Israel by Syria and Yasir Arafat. Osama bin Laden's terrorist network doesn't make the cut. Indeed, only two of the center's "reports" since 1998 have dealt with al-Qaeda, and even those have done so only indirectly. According to the center, the most important lesson learned from the 1998 attacks was one illustrated by the U.S. retaliation against the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant: that there's no way "chemical weapons can be effectively and verifiably banned," which proves that it's necessary to kill any form of chemical weapons control.

It would be tempting to laugh this off if Gaffney's group weren't so influential. As one page on the Center for Security Studies Web site proudly notes, no fewer than 22 of the center's advisory council members now occupy key national security positions in the Bush administration.


With Iraq spawning terrorist legions, China girding for World War III, North Korea looking to launch a missile at Alaska, and Fidel Castro plotting to destroy the Colossus of the North, there simply wasn't any room for bin Laden in the pantheon of threats that govern the Bush security orthodoxy.

There still isn’t , even now, and that is the problem.

If Doug Feith and John Bolton say they are going to "do" Iran and Syria next, I'd believe them. Osama bin Laden, economic meltdown, worldwide opprobrium, and a breakdown of international order aren't anticipated in the plan and are therefore to be ignored as much as possible. (North Korea didn't cower and run as they were supposed to when faced with our manly threats, and they are confused about that but undeterred.) All of these things are distractions from the plan.


Tell The Truth? You Might As Well Ask Them To Levitate.

Thomas Friedman, it's too fucking late. And you are one to talk. You are the guy who said:

No, the axis-of-evil idea isn't thought through - but that's what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: "We know what you're cooking in your bathtubs. We don't know exactly what we're going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you're wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld - he's even crazier than you are."

There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right. It is the only way we're going to get our turkey back.

And you have the cojones to accuse the Bush administration of “gratuitous bullying.” Unbelievable. You’re complaining that "The Bush folks are big on attitude, weak on strategy and terrible at diplomacy.” No shit Sherlock. Perhaps you should decline the next time a Bushie offers you a Viagra and Jim Beam cocktail before you write such simpleminded and immature drivel. You and your half-witted friends have enabled this group of Neanderthals since 9/11 with silly screeds like that above. I hope it made you feel all manly and powerful at the time because it sure is causing a lot of trouble now.

It’s too late to be asking the questions that should have been asked by our chickenshit Senators, our lazyass presscorp, good hearted liberals who want to free the Iraqi people from tyranny and realistic centrists who believe that WMD in the hands of belligerent smalltime dictators is a big enough risk that the US should abrogate international law and adopt a very risky doctrine of preventive war. It's too late to look beneath the emotion and the superficial logic of stopping Saddam and try to find out what these people are really trying to do. We're going in and whatever we might have done to plan or delay or mitigate the neocon fecklessness of the operation is irrelevant now.

It’s too late to be asking whether the plan to invade Iraq, which has been on the drawing board since 1992, is the right plan at the right time and for the reasons stated.

It is too late to wonder whether this group of highly ideological and inflexible individuals are able to properly evaluate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in light of the real threat of terrorism on American shores and elsewhere.

It’s too late to be wondering whether this amateur hour of a foreign policy team is capable of handling so many crises’ at the same time, seeing as they “don’t even like to travel.” And the fact that they “spend so much time infighting over policy” is a direct result of not having a real President who guides policy, but one who is guided by whomever is in favor or has his ear at a given time.

It is too late to be wondering whether a party that would spend 100 million dollars to install a callow, empty suit like George W. Bush as President of the United States purely because he had “brand name recognition” is serious enough and smart enough to be leading this country into war. It certainly appears that the rest of the world is very, very nervous about the caliber of our leadership.

It’s too late to be asking the Bush team to “shape up, start dialing down the attitude, start selling this war on the truth, give us a budget that prepares the nation for war abroad not a party at home, and start doing everything possible to create a global context where we can confront Saddam without the world applauding him.”

You might as well be asking them to stop hating Bill Clinton. This is who they are. If you had bothered to read the pre-2000 writings of this foreign policy team or had torn your eyes from the comic book hagiography that grew up around Junior after 9/1, you would have realized that it was a big mistake to support this administration in anything but a laser-like focus on terrorism and the economy. Such things as huge changes in international law (like adoption of a doctrine of preventive war) should have been tabled until an administration with a competent leader and a democratic mandate from the people assumed power.

It's a little too little, a little too late now, Tom, to be noticing that this administration doesn't know what the hell it's doing. It's been obvious from January 21st, 2001. You were just having too much fun playing cowboys and indians with Wyatt Earp and his boys to look any deeper than the sophomoric rhetoric they spewed for the cameras. Now that reality has struck you don't want to play anymore. Too late. You're one of his posse.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Turgid Prose

I think Peggy Noonan may have found her dream man --- a true blue, god fearing' macho Republican named General J. C. Christian

And he's a sensitive poet, too


War is a manly game
it's played for fun
it's played for fame
once Saddam is on the run
we'll bomb the Syrians
and take there guns
and if Korea begins to play
we'll nuke Iran
and then we'll pray
We'll thank the lord
for our good fortune
as we eat the hearts
of some poor persian

Thanks to Atrios for the link.


Thomas Spencer takes the GOP to task for it's little problem with accepting responsibility.

Have you ever noticed, ironically, that the folks who spend so much time talking about “responsibility” are usually the first to try to pass the buck?

Of course, if your entire worldview is based around the demonizing of liberals and claiming that they’re behind everything that’s wrong, that makes the shirking of responsibility a pretty easy thing to do. Nothing is your fault. It’s all the fault of liberals even if you control all three branches of government.

Yes, I have been enjoying watching Tucker Carlson blame Jimmy Carter for creating terrorism and Lyndon Johnson for causing teen pregnancy while acting shocked and dismayed that anyone would dream of pointing out that St. Ronald of Reagan gave Saddam anthrax, George Sr. told the Iraqis to go fuck themselves after the war or that Junior has singlehandedly and in record time turned the economy into a fair imitation of an oversized Argentina.

Of course, Clinton's magnificent member is the fundamental reason for every problem remaining and no one debates that. But, still...

A TBOGG Moment

...the "take that hill, hoo-yah" hyperbole that comes so naturally from those who will be watching the war front-row-center on Fox news, with a Zima in one hand and a box of Screaming Yellow Zonkers in the other

You know who you are. Jane. Rod. Stevie. George.

Can You Say Intellectually Inconsistent?

Avedon Carol Says:


And given the Bush Family Empire's performance in America, just how seriously can we take their occasional flights of fancy about creating democracy in Iraq? They are speaking openly of shifting the burdens of taxation almost entirely onto those who must get up every day and work for a living, and even those who cannot make a living, and relieving the rich of any such obligations to society. They speak openly of removing whatever protections America's working people have against unsafe conditions, fraud, and broken contracts so that the wealthiest and most powerful can treat us virtually as slaves - only without the obligation to feed and house us. The administration itself is comporting itself as if it has a divine right of monarchy, and the changes it is effecting in our laws and official culture really do parallel those of the early Third Reich. If these people are so happy to accept - promote, in fact - such measures in the United States, what makes you think they have any real resistance to the idea of tyrannical leadership in Iraq? Certainly their past (and, for that matter, continuing) history in the area doesn't lend credence to their fidelity to the values of liberty for the people, in Iraq or anywhere else.



Aside from wondering why keeping Saddam in a box, even with sanctions, isn't better than dropping a payload equal to the firebombing of Tokyo on a civilian population, aside from knowing an explosion of terrorism is likely to result from the sight of a massive US army on the ground in the mid-east at this most dangerous moment, aside from being fully aware that the planning for this invasion has been underway for more than a decade undergirded by the same arguments of imminent danger that have not come to fruition, and aside from the fact that the administration has openly and shamelessly cast itself as Ariel Sharon's kindred spirit at a time when such a declaration of solidarity is recklessly stupid...

Aside from all that, the main reason that I cannot support any kind of quasi-unilateral pre-emptive or preventive war is that I am 100% certain that the people who are agitating the strongest for it are hypocritical, incompetent, myopic, twistedly idealistic, mendacious and psychologically crippled.

I think it can wait for another 2 years until smarter, saner people can be put in charge of running the world. I'll support freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny if somebody else is doing the freeing. These guys are far more likely to throw them out of the frying pan directly into the fire. For the sake of the Iraqi people and the people of the world, these people must not be allowed to play with matches.

War Planners Speak of the Risks

NY Times

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 — Senior Bush administration officials are for the first time openly discussing a subject they have sidestepped during the buildup of forces around Iraq: what could go wrong, and not only during an attack but also in the aftermath of an invasion.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has a four- to five-page, typewritten catalog of risks that senior aides say he keeps in his desk drawer. He refers to it constantly, updating it with his own ideas and suggestions from senior military commanders, and discussing it with President Bush.

A top advisor to the Secretary of Defense told the NY Times that Mr Rumsfeld's discussions with the President have been frank but mostly positive. The Secretary is quoted as saying, "Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed."

The advisor stressed that despite the hard choices facing the president that Mr Rumsfeld nonetheless was optimistic that US forces could pacify the Iraqi troops and people in a short time, while "keeping a lid" on terrorist recruitment and possible reprisals at home. Still, he was honest in his assessment that the American people would have to accept some vulnerability to terrorist attacks in the coming days. He reportedly told the President, "I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks."

Vice-president Dick Cheney, who has taken the lead in preparations for possible biological or chemical attacks in here United States was reported to have insisted upon the smallpox vaccination program for all "first line" emergency workers. According to administration sources, however, his concerns are incresingly focused on possible contamination of the water supply.

At a meeting of The National Academy of Creationist Scientists and Christian Astrologers in January, Cheney was quoted as saying, "It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Terrorist works." The orange alert of last week was said by sources in the Office of Homeland Security to have been put in place by Cheney himself when he lost control of his precious bodily fluids during Shania Twain's half time appearance at the Super Bowl.


Monday, February 17, 2003

Whoopsie Daisy

Connie Chung just mouthed the words "Oh Shit" after mangling the word glucose. Heh.

Speaking of bad language .... My favorite protest signs were:

Stop Mad Cowboy Disease


Dick + Bush = We're Fucked

New Kidz

Welcome to a very good writer, Glen England at A Brooklyn Bridge.


Political Parrhesia a political blog with an interesting point of view.

Thanks to The Lefty Directory for including me.

Is It Time For Godwin's Law To Be Repealed?

The Baltimore Sun reports on Ashcroft and his cadre of Federalist ideologues. As with the foreign policy team, the Justice Department is riddled with a bunch of right wing radicals who would be more at home in Pinochet's Chile that the world's oldest democracy.


"In the Justice Department, one of the great tensions is always between the political appointees at the top and the career lawyers in the middle," said Mark Graber, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. "This seems to be an administration where the political appointees are far more determined to set policies on more matters than usual."

Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland law school, agrees: "From what I can gather, there is a tight circle around the attorney general. There is not a lot of vetting of ideas beyond that. A lot of career attorneys who have served the attorney general through a lot of different administrations have been shunted aside."


I think what you have within the Justice Department is a small group of very bright, federalist society lawyers who are talking to each other and coming up with ideas that have a superficial attraction -- military tribunals, detaining enemy combatants -- while anybody practiced in the area will tell you this stuff accomplishes absolutely nothing," Greenberg said. "It's sort of like counterterrorism by headline rather than counterterrorism by a scientific analysis of what law enforcement is all about."

Others are concerned about the damage that Ashcroft-sponsored measures, passed under the guise of fighting terrorism, could do to civil liberties. The first Patriot Act, which saw little opposition in the weeks after Sept. 11, lessened restrictions on wiretaps and allowed long-term detention of material witnesses without charges. The draft of the second measure goes further in these areas.


According to the ACLU's Nojeim, the act "would encourage police spying on political and religious activities, allow the government to wiretap without first going to court and allow it to more readily strip Americans of their citizenship, rendering them stateless in their own country."

Said Warnken: "If you take this to its ultimate conclusion -- and I am only being slightly flippant here -- as long as we are under threat of terrorism you can literally say that the Bill of Rights is de facto repealed until we catch the last terrorist. And that won't be until your great-grandchildren grow old."

You know it's quite difficult to contain the impulse to break Godwin's Law when I read things like this. There is an aggressive and radical global ambition, a total assumption of power in the hands of the executive, an overhaul of the legal system that blatently abrogates fundamental principles and an unprecedented cronyism between big business and government. All that is left is the internal "threat" who must be eradicated.

Oh wait. There is one.

“There are spooky parallels between the way Hussein and American liberals campaign and try to get support. Saddam Hussein is obviously a student of American liberal Democrat politics and Stalin at the same time.”