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Saturday, March 15, 2003

Tin Soldiers And Junior Coming

Vandenberg Air Force Base authorizes 'deadly force' against trespassing protesters

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - Security forces at Vandenberg Air Force Base may use "deadly force" against protesters if they infiltrate the military complex if a war starts, officials said.
Some anti-war activists plan to trespass onto base grounds in hopes of disturbing Vandenberg's mission and to vandalize sensitive equipment they contend helps guide the war effort.

Vandenberg officials revealed Friday that military security police may shoot to kill, if necessary, to protect base residents and machinery.

Anti-war protesters have a habit of threatening "base residents." And protecting "machinery" is a patriotic duty. Shoot the bastards. Where do they think they live, America?


Strangely, I've seen lots of this kind of thing, but I have yet to see any kind of "Down With Saddam" signs. Who, exactly do these people think we are going to war with?

Hesiod links to the following article and explains that this means the "pro-war" rallies are actually "pro-al Qaeda" rallies.

Anger on Iraq Seen as New Qaeda Recruiting Tool

LONDON, March 15 — On three continents, Al Qaeda and other terror organizations have intensified their efforts to recruit young Muslim men, tapping into rising anger about the American campaign for war in Iraq, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.

In recent weeks, officials in the United States, Europe and Africa say they had seen evidence that militants within Muslim communities are seeking to identify and groom a new generation of terrorist operatives. An invasion of Iraq, the officials worry, is almost certain to produce a groundswell of recruitment for groups committed to attacks in the United States, Europe and Israel.

"An American invasion of Iraq is already being used as a recruitment tool by Al Qaeda and other groups," a senior American counterintelligence official said. "And it is a very effective tool."

Another American official, based in Europe, said Iraq had become "a battle cry, in a way," for Qaeda recruiters.

Some of the information about Qaeda recruiting comes from interrogations of captured operatives and from materials found at the house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the third-ranking Qaeda leader, was arrested this month, officials say.

Crystal Ball

Matthew Yglesias says:

I've often wondered what, exactly, the UN's critics proposed that we put in its place. Well, David Gelernter has risen to the challenge with results that are a bit ... odd.

The core of the new organization--call it the Big Three--would be a Britain-Russia-America triumvirate. The underlying principle: No credible world organization could include only countries we like. But Russia's fluid condition gives us an unusual opening. Russia is a big country with a vivid history. No organization that includes Russia could possibly be America's cat's-paw. Yet Russia is uncertain of what she wants; she is open to persuasion. Yes, that means money; but international prestige is worth even more, especially to a humbled former champion. Including Russia (but not China or France) in the ruling committee might impart just the right soupçon of anti-Americanism to the new organization, which must be credible yet not intractable

There is much one can say about this, the most obvious being that this ridiculous concept that time is going to stand still and the US, Britain and Russia will always be in the exact positions they are currently in is well...dumb. But, instead of writing a thousand words I'll offer this instead:

Proud To Be An American

I just saw some fair and balanced footage of rallies, with scrupulously equal time given to the story of the hundreds of anti-war rallies thoughout the world and the one "Patriot" rally in Atlanta on CNN. They reported that the pro-war rally had expected 10,000 but were happily surprised to have doubled that number. The organizers finally feel they are "getting their message out."

To the melodic strains of Lee Greenwood, I watched one of the speakers whip the crowd into a frenzy by saying We thought they were the only ones out there...the ones with hairy underarms...lesbians or whatever. (much hooting and laughing from the crowd) We thought we were surrounded by...California. (booooooo) But that's not true. We surround them!"

The commentator said that most of speeches were primarily concerned with criticizing Hollywood and anti-war protesters.

Has anyone heard a lot of speechifying at the anti-war rallies against fellow citizens? I have been to some and watched a bunch on C-Span, and I don't remember anybody saying anything disrespectful of the American people, but instead confined themselves to the politicians who are making war policy -- which, after all, is the traditional way of politics.

I could respond in kind and insult say...the entire red-state region with rude comments about certain rural stereotypes, but that wouldn't be polite.

Hey, TBOGG....


Here's the transcript. I forgot about the "freaks in limousines." Note the fawning CNN commentary:

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, promoters here were predicting a crowd of about 10,000 here at Atlanta, at the Rally for America, but they're now saying on the podium that they have more than doubled that.

Let's take a look at this crowd. People coming out today, decked out in their red, white and blue, thousands of people. Thousands of people carrying banners and signs, offering patriotic sentiments and supporting U.S. troops.

A part of what you're looking at could also be the power of talk radio. Stations across the country have been promoting rallies for America. They've been striking a chord that seems to resonate deeply with people in this crowd. They are pro-U.S., pro-military.

And some of the featured speakers also taking shots at anti-war demonstrators, particularly Hollywood celebrities protesting war in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were starting to believe that we were surrounded by them, by the ones that are the freaks in the limousine, the ones with the hairy armpits and the lesbian, whatever that is. We thought we were being surrounded by California.

Today, today, I'm proud to tell you they are clear, we surround them


MATTINGLY: Things wrapping up right now. They just had the song, "Proud to be an American" playing. People singing along with it.

Again quite a few thousand more people than they expected for this rally, particularly with this kind of rain. So promoters very happy with the showing here today and people leaving with a very good feeling that their opinion is being made known across the country.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: And David, to make it clear, the folks that are assembling there in Atlanta say this is not a pro-war rally but instead, it is one showing patriotism, showing support of the troops, as you mentioned, as well as the president's plans?

MATTINGLY: That is the theme here, support for the troops, for American soldiers right now in the Middle East. They say they don't want a repeat of what they saw after Vietnam, where soldiers came home and were not treated with respect. They want to make sure that does not happen again this time.

But there are some political undercurrents going on. There's a lot of signs here, a very partisan in support of the president, and a lot of signs critical of anti-war protesters, as we showed you before

That's an undercurrent??

Bush must follow in Queen Victoria's footsteps

Conservative Commentator explains it all:

ASTONISHINGLY GOOD COVER STORY from Daniel Kruger in today's Spectator. His thesis is complex, but essentially he argues that the West as a whole is divided fundamentally into foxes and hedgehogs. The foxes, hippy-dippy postmodernist intellectuals who don't believe in objective truth or ethics - the sort of people who can't bring themselves to use the word 'wrong' without speech marks - are represented by France, Russia, Germany, Belgium, the UN and the EU. The hedgehogs, more simple and single-minded in their ideals, comfortable with certainty and moral truths, are represented by the United States, the UK, Israel, Australia and Canada and NATO. These camps have existed side-by-side for a long while, mainly because of hedgehog American military support for fox France. But that cannot go on:

We stand at a parting of the ways. The coming war with Iraq is going to decide which side goes forward to face the next great threat to the West. If it goes badly, the foxes win. If it goes well, the 1990s myth of a post-modern order - beyond power, beyond war - will be finished. The day of the hedgehog will dawn. He compares tomorrow's chief hedgehog - Bush's America - to that of the 19th Century - Queen Victoria's Britain, and sees a similar role for her. This role is the assertion of liberty, democracy and the rule of law - the morally superior values that prevail in the West but are the right of all. Just as the British Empire saw its duty as the enforcement of its ban on slavery, America's role is to fight for these values across the world, exterminating terrorists and stopping rogue states just as Britain used the Royal Navy to smash the slave trade. Neo-colonialism, he says, is America's future.

Hedgehogs good. Foxes bad. Isaiah Berlin could have saved himself some breath, apparently.

And Pootie-Poot and the Russians are hippy dippy postmodernists just like their soul mates the pansy Belgians. Groovy. Who knew?

This fellow does have a little tiny bone to pick with Queen George, though:

A DAY AND A HALF after it was revealed, I still find it hard to believe that the business contracts for the rebuiling of post-war Iraq have all been given to American companies. It isn't that the war itself has not yet begun that concerns me - planning for after it is over is just sensible forward-thinking. It is the blazen disregard for a loyal ally, and indeed for Iraq itself, which surely can be better served by a greater variety of countries bidding to offer the best services. On what authority were such decisions made? Doesn't the next Iraqi government deserve a say?

Such actions are not only indefensible and petty, but they help put skin on the bones of paranoid conspiracy theories about the war being fought for the sake of US business interests. Just as these were finally being shown for the nonsense we knew them to be, every opponent of war is armed with a fresh arsenal of argument and some solid evidence.

I do not doubt for a moment that this war is right, but this incident alone has made me ask myself why Britain should not merely give America what America gave us as we fought the Battle of Britain single-handedly - our best wishes. Certainly, ending the Baathist Socialist regime in Iraq and disarming its weapons of mass destruction is in Britain's national interest. But if the United States is going to do this anyway, why not allow them, support them and stay out?

I suppose part of the answer is Britain's excellent training and special forces, which are of particular use where brute force and military might are not as effective as something more subtle. We can potentially make this war less bloody for the allies and end it more quickly. And by giving our help and making this an international force that is disarming Saddam, we show ourselves again to be the closest friends of the leading world superpower, which can only be a good thing.

But incidents like these do shake me, and make me ask rationally just what we gain from the special relationship. America's support made an immense difference in the Falklands, certainly, but that was over twenty years ago - and if we are going back decades it seems rather to have been cancelled out by Eisenhower's folly at Suez in trying to curry favour with the Arabs by opposing Britain, France and Israel - a ploy that failed miserably.

If the IRA starts up again in a few years time, will the US help us exterminate terrorism in Ulster the way we helped them in Afghanistan? They'll do their bit with regards intelligence, certainly, and it would be unfair to expect America to fight a threat to Britain alone the way Britain treated a threat to all of Western civilisation. So perhaps it would be unreasonable to expect such help. But that still leaves unanswered the question of what we get out of it. I certainly support the United States and the Bush Administration, but active support is another matter altogether. I think if Britain is to engage in active support for the US, it is right to expect some active support in return. Yesterday's revelations shook my confidence that we do receive such a thing. If they are a freak occurrence, they can be forgotten at once. But if, as is possible, they represent a more general trend, some serious questions need to be re-examined.

Was he under the impression that we were going to share in the spoils of post war Iraq? That Queen George feels some sort of loyalty to the United Kingdom?

Piss off you limey loser. The US 'o A is the only right and true true hedgehog on the entire goddam planet and you'd better get used to it.

Thanks to Baskett's Case for the link. Lotsa good stuff there.

Chile Proposal A Nonstarter

The Freepers,of course, are now boycotting Chili. With and without beans.

Friday, March 14, 2003

No More Time

As usual, the Republicans are in a big hurry. Urgency and technicalities are their main governing principles.

But Republican and Democratic pollsters, economists and operatives said part of the urgency for Bush is tied to his political standing at home. They said the uncertainty related to the war is depressing consumer confidence and postponing the sort of robust economic recovery Bush will need to win reelection.

A Gallup poll this month showed a decline in Americans' confidence to a seven-year low, with 36 percent satisfied with the country's direction and 61 percent dissatisfied. It is a decline that began in December 2001. The ABC News-Money magazine's gauge of consumer confidence released this week showed that 23 percent of Americans thought the economy was in good shape, the fewest in more than nine years.

"The number one concern is the impact [Iraq] is having on the economy and the harness it's putting around certain sectors and causing negative growth," GOP strategist Scott Reed said. "It's reaching into all nooks and corners, and causing great concern in both corporate boardrooms and small businesses and their bankers."

If consumer confidence and employment are not growing substantially by early next year, Bush's reelection could be jeopardized...


Analysts said a further delay also poses risks to Bush's political standing that go beyond the economic. In the most recent poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, 54 percent of Americans approved of his job performance, 3 percentage points higher than in August 2001. At the same time, narrow majorities of Americans favor military action against Iraq without allied support. Both gauges will jump once hostilities begin, but "the question is how long it's going to last," poll director Andrew Kohut said.


Since last year, administration officials have said the weather would be too hot to launch an attack after early spring. But in recent weeks, defense officials have said that is less of a concern than originally believed and that another month's wait could be tolerated.


well, well, well.

Nothing To See Here, Move Along

This is completely illegitimate, I'm sure. Jay Rockefeller wants to have a little investigation into how we happened to be using blatently forged documents to bolster our case that Iraq has nuclear weapons.

Sarah Ross, a spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, said the committee will look into the forgery, but Roberts believes it is inappropriate for the FBI to investigate at this point.

The documents indicated that Iraq tried to by uranium from Niger, the West African nation that is the third-largest producer of mined uranium, Niger's largest export. The documents had been provided to U.S. officials by a third country, which has not been identified.

A U.S. government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was unclear who first created the documents. The official said American suspicions remain about an Iraq-Niger uranium connection because of other, still-credible evidence that the official refused to specify.

In December, the State Department used the information to support its case that Iraq was lying about its weapons programs. But on March 7, Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents were forgeries.

Rockefeller said U.S. worries about Iraqi nuclear weapons were not based primarily on the documents, but "there is a possibility that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq."

Yah think?

Personally, I don't see any reason to investigate this until all congressional committees finally clear up the issue of whether Hillary was involved in firing the travel office staff back in 1993. They only spent 4 years on that subject, so I can't really feel confident that they got to the bottom of it. You've just got to have some priorities.


Forrest Sawyer just asked David Gregory if the White House is in chaos. Gregory said no, the White House says it is "pivoting" in a number of different directions.

This is also known as running around in circles.


Required Reading

Josh Marshall says to read this and he's right. It is devastating.

By Michael Lind

The United States is now more isolated from its major allies and more internally divided over foreign policy than at any time since 1945. The strategy of the Bush administration-and not merely its style-is to blame.

The grand strategy of the Bush administration rests on three axioms: American global hegemony; preventive war; and the so-called “war on terror.” All three axioms are fallacies that inevitably produce counterproductive and misguided policies. What the great French diplomat Talleyrand said of Napoleon’s execution of the Duc d’Enghien applies with equal force to Bush’s grand strategy: “It is worse than a crime; it is a mistake.”


Not Quite Enough

With Democratic presidential candidates under fire for their reluctance to speak out about Iraq, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry delivered a major policy address in San Francisco Thursday -- and omitted any substantive mention of the looming war.

In a 40-minute speech to a packed hall sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California, Kerry offered a stinging indictment of Bush domestic policies on the environment, homeland security, eroding civil liberties and the declining economy. But he saved his comments on the war for a question-and-answer session afterward, and even in those tempered remarks, his position on Iraq was less than clear-cut.

The ongoing failure of the Bush administration to win allies in the U.N. Security Council "displays some of the weakest diplomacy we've ever seen in the history of the continental U.S.," Kerry said after the speech.

Although he voted last fall to authorize the president to use military force against Iraq and said Thursday that he did not regret his vote, Kerry did not say whether he still believes force should be used -- or if so, when. "The United States should never go to war because it wants to go to war," he said, echoing statements made in January. "We should go to war because we have to go to war. And that is not clear at this time."

He did flesh out a rather fine critique, however, of the Bush administration's handling of the diplomacy. Why he couldn't do it in his speech is anybody's guess, but I assume it's because he's afraid of Sean Hannity and Ari Fleischer:

Only one-third of the job of president is to be "CEO of the domestic choices of the country," he said in response to one question. "Two-thirds of the job of president is head of state -- therefore chief diplomat."

And the international chaos of recent months proves the need to have a strong person in that position, he said, suggesting that neither Bush nor Secretary of State Colin Powell have measured up well in the job.

In 2002, there was clearly a path to the inspections process that brought legitimacy and consent to an international endeavor, he said. What led to its demise is an endemic unwillingness to strengthen relationships with European nations. "I don't know if they put the lock and key on the airplane so he [Powell] isn't allowed to travel," Kerry said, "but somehow this has been a secretary of state who's been unwilling to go over and build those relationships."

"I regret the way this administration has conducted foreign policy and given the back of its hand to so many nations," he said. "The United States, the strongest military power on the face of this planet, has not had diplomacy that matches it."

I don't understand why Kerry can't just say that he is for ousting Saddam, but that they hashed it up so much and are so incredibly incompetent that the congress is going to have to assert itself like never before to ensure that they do not create complete chaos in the region, and the next president is going to have to clean up the mess that's been made of our international relations. He should be thundering his criticism of the unilateralist bent of the administration and their inability to convince the world that the invasion scheme is the right one.

He voted for the damned war. If he'd stick to his guns and use the opportunity to show how the Republicans have compromised their own goals, he would be a principled politician that even the doves could respect. Instead, he just seems vague and scared.

People are not going to vote for a candidate who is trying to split the difference on national security.

These Democrats have got to realize that there is no margin in trying to appease the GOP. They are going to get it coming and going, no matter what they say. They have to concentrate, instead, on laying out a principled alternative to Bush Imperialism and let the chips fall where they may. The have got to step up and fight and that does not mean that they must be doves. It just means they must stand for something.

And, it's not like the Republicans haven't given them enough to criticize, for gawd's sake. They've fucked up even on their own terms. How hard is it to make a passionate speech about Bush's failure in international relations?

All The Sock-Puppet's Men

TBOGG is on to Howard Fineman.

Burning CD’s

People are (literally) burning the Dixie Chicks' CD’s because of their treasonous statements objecting to the imminent invasion of Iraq. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, they also said they were ashamed that George W. Alamo is from Texas. The humanity.

I must remind all of you people who would like to show solidarity with the coalition of the willing, it really shouldn’t stop with the Dixie Chicks.

I wrote before that Shania Twain, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Reba McIntyre, Earl Scruggs, Mark Wills, Tom T. Hall, Lee Ann Womack, and George Strait all work for that Saddam loving enemy, Vivendi of….gasp….France.

I urge all righteous God fearing Americans to call Rush and Sean and the rest and let them know you want them to use their clout in the radio industry to put a stop to this traitorous war profiteering on the part of their employers. They, of all people, understand that allowing the radio and record industry to put profits over freedom is Un-American. DEMAND that Rush tell Clear Channel to stop playing the following artists immediately:

U2, Bob Marley, Elton John, Eminem, Nelly, Diana Krall, George Benson, John Coltrane, Enrique Iglesias, Limp Bizkit, No Doubt, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Ashanti, Elvis Costello, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, Melissa Etheridge, Blink 182, Cranberries, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Ja Rule, Nirvana, 50 Cent, The Temptations, Bon Jovi, Ludacris, Jay Z, Shaggy, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie, Hansen, Hooba stanks, Injected, Tatu, Wallflowers, MS Dynamite, 2 Pac, Ms Jade, American HiFi, Def Leppard, Die Trying, Letter Kills, PJ Harvey, Portishead, MJ Cole, Rosy, Shorty 101, Hoobastank, A Teens, Avant, Res, The Roots, Brian McKnight, India Arie, Remy Shand, AZ Black Coffey, Corey, DJ Rogers J,r Melanie Durrant, Dave Hollister, India.Arie, Jene Jose Brian McKnight, Stephen Marley, Remy, Shand, Charlie Haden, Al Jarreau.

These people are making blood money off of the backs of America’s freedom and they need to know that if they don’t quit working for the godless, Iraq loving French enemy, we will end their careers. You know that Rush will put his career on the line for this and require his employer to either stop playing all artists that work for Vivendi or he will quit.

He’s a patriot above all else. You know he is.


YOU can call The Rush Limbaugh Show program line between 12 Noon and 3PM Eastern Time at: 1-800-282-2882

You can e-mail Rush at: rush@eibnet.com

You can fax Rush at: 212-563-9166

You can write Rush at:
The Rush Limbaugh Show
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121

Update II: I can't believe I have to do this, but my comments section proves that I have been much too obscure with my little satire.

I don't really think that we should be boycotting Vivendi and I think the Dixie Chicks are a-ok. What I was trying (and obviously failing) to do, was show that Rush and his hate radio cohorts are being hypocritical in calling for a boycott of French products, when their own employers are making zillions from playing artists who work for one of the biggest French companies in the world.

It would be fun to see whether Rush would be willing to put his career on the line by threatening to quit Clear Channel if they continued to make money from a French company, but I have no illusions that he would give up one single penny in this cause. I would love to see him explain why, though, wouldn't you?


Word To The Wise

I don't subscribe to any GOP e-mail lists and I certainly don't have access to the daily talking points that so obviously are passed around amongst the bow-tied, doughboy Republican cognoscenti, but it doesn't take an insider to figure out what they are since they multiply like bacteria into the media within minutes of introduction.

Here's the current infection:

Yesterday, Perle gave aninterview on RTL in which he claimed that Chirac and Hussein have been "good friends" since the 70's. This is not news, but it was also put forth as a startling revelation on Brit Hume's show on Fox News yesterday. I would bet that it's all over Talk Radio again today.This adds to the contention that Chirac has given so much illegal contraband to his friend in the hopes of good deals on oil leases that he's petrified that good people everywhere will recoil in disgust when they find out the truth.

Charles Pierce pithily retorts to that last accusation today on Altercation saying, "if you’re keeping score at home, it should be noted that it wasn’t the Freedoms who redacted 12,000 pages of the Iraqi weapons report before they made it public. What did we edit out? The receipts?"

No way, Marseilles. Just so's ya knows -- Jacques has promised his lover Saddam a stocking full 'o Nukes for Christmas. And, apparently, out 'o principle, John Negropont and Don Rumsfeld kept those 12,000 pages of love letters from the world in order to spare Mrs. Chirac the embarrassment. Or something.

The Wurlitzer always plays on key.

Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes

A classified State Department report expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a claim President Bush has made in trying to build support for a war, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document.

The report exposes significant divisions within the Bush administration over the so-called democratic domino theory, one of the arguments that underpins the case for invading Iraq.


The domino theory also is used by the administration as a counterargument to critics in Congress and elsewhere who have expressed concern that invading Iraq will inflame the Muslim world and fuel terrorist activity against the United States.

But the theory is disputed by many Middle East experts and is viewed with skepticism by analysts at the CIA and the State Department, intelligence officials said.

Critics say even establishing a democratic government in Iraq will be extremely difficult. Iraq is made up of ethnic groups deeply hostile to one another. Ever since its inception in 1932, the country has known little but bloody coups and brutal dictators.

Even so, it is seen by some as holding more democratic potential — because of its wealth and educated population — than many of its neighbors.

By some estimates, 65 million adults in the Middle East can't read or write, and 14 million are unemployed, with an exploding, poorly educated youth population.

Given such trends, "we'll be lucky to have strong central governments [in the Middle East], let alone democracy," said one intelligence official with extensive experience in the region.

The official stressed that no one in intelligence or diplomatic circles opposes the idea of trying to install a democratic government in Iraq.

"It couldn't hurt," the official said. "But to sell [the war] on the basis that this is going to cause 1,000 flowers to bloom is naive."

Some officials said the classified document reflects views that are widely held in the State Department and CIA but that those holding such views have been muzzled in an administration eager to downplay the costs and risks of war.


Middle East experts said there are other factors working against democratic reform, including a culture that values community and to some extent conformity over individual rights.

"I don't accept the view that the fall of Saddam Hussein is going to prompt quick or even discernible movement toward democratization of the Arab states," said Philip C. Wilcox, director of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and a former top State Department official. "Those countries are held back not by the presence of vicious authoritarian regimes in Baghdad but by a lot of other reasons."

Bush has responded to such assessments by assailing the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

Wow. Move over George Kennan. I thought he said that the new regime would be reformers with results, leaders who knew how to lead. He said he had some stong talks with the Iraqi exiles and felt they would make fabulous leaders. He believes they can be united not divided and he promises to smoke out Saddam and keep him on the run. I never heard him say that not believing in fairy tales was the soft bigotry of low expectations though.

And then, there's the deft handling of US Russian relations.

Oh Dmitri...

Washington had calculated that Putin, a pragmatist, valued Russia's relationship with the United States above all other foreign policy issues. U.S. officials also thought that Moscow's interests in the Iraqi oil business and its desire to see Iraq repay $8 billion of debt would be enough to ensure Russian compliance.

There have been some veiled threats, however, notably from a senior Bush administration official in Moscow recently who warned Russia of the economic costs of blocking U.S. objectives.

"What we have said is that if you're concerned with recouping your $8 billion in debts and if you're interested in economic opportunities in liberated Iraq, it would be helpful if you were part of the prevailing coalition," that official said at a background briefing for reporters last month.

"The Americans failed to understand that in order to make Putin change his position on Iraq, it was necessary to offer and actually give him something," said one Moscow analyst, Viktor A. Kremenyuk of the USA-Canada Institute. "In fact, the Americans have done nothing real to attract Russia and win it over to their side."

These guys are so gooood.

That official, by the way, was likely our suave and debonair Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security --- John "there is no such thing as the UN" Bolton. He's the Zelig of diplomatic screw-ups.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Be Nice To Colin, Junior

I made a private bet that Colin Powell would resign from this administration over policy. That was 2 years ago and I thought I'd lost. Maybe not.

Fineman seems to think that the scapegoating is about to begin now that even he has acknowledged that the administration's diplomacy has been a joke. Powell has his own constituency, particularly in the media. The Bushies had better be very, very careful. A Powell resignation could be the tipping point for a Bush freefall.

Here We Go Again

Even some antiwar Democrats are insisting they won't criticize the Bush administration once the fighting begins. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who's staked out a complex pro-disarming Saddam, anti-unilateral-war approach to the mess, says he'll hit the mute button immediately. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a more unequivocal war opponent than Kerry, told the Boston Globe he's not sure he'll keep it up once the shooting starts. War critics like former Sen. Gary Hart and Florida Sen. Bob Graham may postpone official announcements of their candidacies if war begins, as expected, in the next couple of weeks. Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun, who are not given much chance of winning the nomination, have had the courage to tell reporters that they'll stick with their antiwar message come war.

This timidity is Reason No. 392 for the political question vexing Democrats right now: Why is it that polls show President Bush losing the '04 election to an "Unnamed Democrat," but beating all the Democrats who are currently in the race? Everyone knows this president is supremely vulnerable. He's plundered the surplus and pushed an economic policy that has arguably worsened the recession. He's angered most of our allies and is now on the verge of a potentially disastrous war whose rationale changes every day. His poll numbers dip almost daily, too.

But Bush can still probably beat any of the Democrats lined up against him, because no one yet has shown the charisma or the courage to break out of the pack. And otherwise admirable candidates like Kerry and Dean seem to be faltering in this early test of political integrity


Not just Kerry but the whole pack of '04 candidates seems overmatched by the current global crisis. In a disturbing Adam Nagourney piece in Monday's New York Times, dithering Democrats were featured complaining that in Iowa, nobody wants to listen to their speeches about women's issues or unemployment or the healthcare crisis; they only want to talk about war! Even Dean, who's benefited most from the surge of antiwar feeling in Iowa, whined to Nagourney: "I had a press conference and it was all about the war. And finally I said, 'Would anybody like to talk about the enormous jump in the unemployment rate that was announced in the morning papers?'"


...They may suffer politically, for a while, whatever they do, because it's true that the nation rallies around its president in a time of war.

But they'll suffer more permanent political damage if they look like they're backsliding on their antiwar views. Democrats have to remember this is a mess that's at least partly of their own making. They've been treating Iraq like a tough campaign curveball, rather than a test of leadership and conscience, since before the midterm election. Democratic Leadership Council chair Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana typified the party's cowardice when he told reporters last year: "The majority of the American people tend to trust the Republican Party more on issues involving national security and defense than they do the Democratic Party. We need to work to improve our image on that score by taking a more aggressive posture with regard to Iraq, empowering the president."

Democrats mostly followed Bayh's bad advice, caving on the vote that essentially gave the president a blank check back in October, to polish their "image" and put the issue behind them -- so they could get back to talking about Social Security reform on the campaign trail. But voters didn't listen. "I hope the party learned a lesson in November 2002 about the perils of going into a fetal position," David Wade, a spokesman for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, told ABC News just a few days before his boss issued his statement about not criticizing Bush once war begins.

This is a trainwreck. If the Democrats cannot formulate a respectful, principled opposition to the crazyassed imperialistic foreign policy of this administration we are in big trouble. They have simply got to stop being afraid of the the Republicans. They will be called traitors even if they don uniforms and go into battle themselves. Saxby Chambliss proved that there is no limit to how far they will go to impugn the patriotism of Democrats so they have absolutely nothing to lose by telling it like it is. That the GOP is so brutal and dishonest is actually freeing. Since their characters will be assassinated anyway, they are free to speak their minds.

The question is probably whether they know their own minds enough to speak them. And that's depressing.


Update: Apparently it is unclear that this post is referring to the absurd idea of bringing back remains of servicemen killed in France during WWII. The link below connects to that story. Kevin also has commentary.

They are working themselves into a complete frenzy, now.

This is embarrassing. I thought that only Condi Rice was deluded enough to believe that we joined WWII to "liberate the Germans from Hitler," but apparently this is common knowledge amongst the scholors on the right.

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. In May of 1940, Hitler invaded France using Blitzkrieg tactics.

We didn't rush right in to save the day like Superman as these morons apparently believe. While Hitler cut a swath through Europe we were sending some supplies and debating whether we should help out. When we were attacked at Peal Harbor on December 7, 1941 we declared war on Japan the next day. And on December 11th Germany and Italy declared war on us.

There was no overwhelming public outcry to liberate the French by good and wholesome Americans who cared nothing for their own lives but merely wanted to save all the little children. We went in because we had no choice. We had watched the war from afar for 2 long years before we actually joined and it was isolationist Republicans who were the most vociferous in their objections to doing it.

It was DAMNED LUCKY for us that it was the French women and French children and French old people who had to try to survive in a war zone on their own soil (not to mention for the American Jews who daily blessed their good fortune to escape the fate of the hundreds of thousands of French Jews who were carted off to concentration camps.) It is estimated that at least 150,000 French civilians died from bombing and Nazi terror and that's not even counting those who died in concentration camps. In Britain, from August 1940 to May 1941 alone, more than 40,000 civilians were killed and 40,000 more were seriously wounded in bombing attacks.

This petty French bashing is obviously being coordinated by the Wurlitzer to give their neanderthals somebody new to hate. But to distort the meaning of WWII for partisan reasons is beyond the pale. It dishonors the regular guys like my Dad who fought in that war. I do not recall ever hearing him say that France, England (or even Germany or Japan) owed the United States their blind allegiance until the end of time. To him, doing the right thing was its own reward. This seems to be one of those much vaunted values that the current spoiled, silly trivial warmongers seem to have overlooked.

The French paid their dues in the fight against Hitler. They do not owe us anything. We were on the same side in a war against a tyrant who threatened the entire world and the French people paid a price for that fight that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. To demean their experience in the war as these people are doing is shameful.

We used to be better people than this.

A Certain Kind of Nonsense

A Brooklyn Bridge has a number of good posts up on the Arlon Lindner (R-Homophobe Nutcase) scandal.

He alerts us to yet another fine, upstanding religious ministry that has taken up the fine Christian tradition of lying about history to further its Christian message of hate.

Given his connection to Abiding Truth Ministries ("Helping families protect themselves from the 'gay' agenda"), Lindner's views about gays and the Holocaust are hardly surprising. Of the 19 books and tapes they offer, 15 of them are about gays and lesbians. (The others probably are, too, but they weren't explicit in the descriptions). Like its founder (and author of The Pink Swastika), Scott Lively, ATM seems to be convinced of deep connection between gays and Nazis. In addition to an article, "Is there a Gay Basis to Nietzche's Ideas?", there this book:

"The Poisoned Stream"
Traces the "poisoned stream" of homosexual influences throughout history, particularly in Germany between 1890 and 1945

Is this an emerging meme? Should we expect "homonazi" jokes on Limbaugh? Andrew Sullivan (who so far has managed to miss the Lindner controversy), did catch a truly vile ad in the Weekly Standard.

Unintended Humor Department: among ATM's recommend links are FoxNews, WorldNet Daily, and — rimshot, please — the Drudge Report.

Now, Peggy, I'm sure, will be having none of this. As she so righteously noted:

Republicans by and large don't suffer from blind loyalty or blind antagonism. They would think it irresponsible to the country. They will bolt on one of their own if he insists on a route they think is seriously wrong (the first Bush on taxes). They will kill his presidency if they conclude he is essentially destructive (it was his Republican base in Congress that ended Richard Nixon's career). Recently it was Republicans who did in their own Senate majority leader because they would not accept a certain kind of nonsense.

Needless to say, Peggy would not think it was a matter of conservative political philosophy to blatently lie by saying that gays were not amongst those targeted for extermination in the holocaust. Certainly, she must agree that saying that gays caused German fascism is a "certain kind of nonsense."

Will she lead the charge to purge the party of Lindner's outrageous hate mongering? Of course she will. This is Peggy we're talking about.

Past Not Prologue

Patrick at Electrolite opened his blog up to another round of Nader discourse, otherwise known as beating your head against a wall.

I argued so vociferously during the campaign and vented my spleen so often in the months just after the election that I no longer have it in me. I like Greens and Nader voters and I just want to call a truce. As far as I'm concerned the whole thing is ancient history.

But, I do have one request. Knowing what we all know now, we really have to make a pact that all progressive, liberal, sane normal people band together and promise to work as hard as we can to oust Emperor Bloodlust in 2004.

No one could be worse, not even Joe Lieberman ( gawd forbid.) This administration has taken extreme steps to create an Imperial foreign policy AND an Imperial Presidency. This is what must be halted as quickly as possible. They have assumed so much power in the executive branch that our government is seriously out of balance. Only another party can right that. And, for better or worse, that party is the Democratic Party.

If it is difficult to rationalize with your principles, I say vote for a Green for congress and allow the GOP to maintain control. I will hate it, but compared to this cabal in the white house the congressional Republicans are pikers. The presidency simply cannot be left in the hands of Junior and The Retreads.

There really is no choice. So, I say let bygones be bygones. The campaign of 2000 is over and I'm willing to put it to bed. But, going forward, we need every liberal with a pulse (and even those without one) to vote against George W. Bush.

Can we all agree on this, at least?

Another One Bites the Dust

Atrios goes to the dark side. What's next? Joining the Fox News AllStars? Partying all night with Ceci and Kit? Sharing a bottle of "151" with Hitch? My Gawd, sir! Have you no decency?

Seriously, congratulations to King of Left Blogtopia.May we dare hope that he will be getting some $$$$?


Well, here's a big surprise. It turns out that Shock and Awe is yet another one of those dusty tomes that Strangelovean neocons have kept in their back pocket just waiting for a Chauncey W. Bush to be installed so they could test its crazy theories. Here's the official DOD book on Shock and Awe. It's part of a military doctrine called Rapid Dominance.

Rapid Dominance would seek to be more universal in application through the overriding objective of affecting the adversary's will beyond the boundaries traditionally defined by military capability alone.

I hear that they originally wanted to call it Hegemonic Terrorism, but they figured that might have bad public relations implications.

To affect the will of the adversary, Rapid Dominance will apply a variety of approaches and techniques to achieve the necessary level of Shock and Awe at the appropriate strategic and military leverage points. This means that psychological and intangible, as well as physical and concrete effects beyond the destruction of enemy forces and supporting military infrastructure, will have to be achieved. It is in this broader and deeper strategic application that Rapid Dominance perhaps most fundamentally differentiates itself from current doctrine and offers revolutionary application.

Flowing from the primary concentration on affecting the adversary's will to resist through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe to achieve strategic aims and military objectives, four characteristics emerge that will define the Rapid Dominance military force. These are noted and discussed in later chapters. The four characteristics are near total or absolute knowledge and understanding of self, adversary, and environment; rapidity and timeliness in application; operational brilliance in execution; and (near) total control and signature management of the entire operational environment.

Whereas decisive force is inherently capabilities driven—that is, it focuses on defeating the military capability of an adversary and therefore tends to be scenario sensitive—Rapid Dominance would seek to be more universal in application through the overriding objective of affecting the adversary's will beyond the boundaries traditionally defined by military capability alone. In other words, where decisive force is likely to be most relevant is against conventional military capabilities that can be overwhelmed by American (and allied) military superiority. In conflict or crisis conditions that depart from this idealized scenario, the superior nature of our forces is assumed to be sufficiently broad to prevail. Rapid Dominance would not make this distinction in either theory or in practice.

To their credit, the planners did offer the following caveat:

We note for the record that should a Rapid Dominance force actually be fielded with the requisite operational capabilities, this force would be neither a silver bullet nor a panacea and certainly not an antidote or preventative for a major policy blunder, miscalculation, or mistake. It should also be fully appreciated that situations will exist in which Rapid Dominance (or any other doctrine) may not work or apply because of political, strategic, or other limiting factors.

No shit.

Thanks to High Water for the link. He also links to this analysis called "Awe Shocks" by Joseph Stromberg.

Here's a bit:

Chapter Three catalogues and evaluates recent US interventions and teases out apparent lessons. There is muted praise for our sometime friend Saddam Hussein's ruthless rocket attacks on Tehran, undertaken back when he was still salonfähig, attacks approvingly said to have "amounted to a reign of terror."

It really does: Here's what it says:

When our troops were having difficulty dislodging Grenadian soldiers from their main fortress, Marine tanks were sailed around the island to confront them. At the sight of tank guns, the seemingly stubborn occupants surrendered almost immediately without a fight.

The cease fire in the bloody Iran-Iraq war was quick to follow after the commencement of daily Iraqi long-range rocket bombardments of Tehran that amounted to a reign of terror. Given that both sides were exhausted at that point, a show of force could have been convincing. Strong U.S. action in response to Iran's mining of neutral waters may also have had a sobering effect on the mullahs. Not only were Iran's vulnerable oil-producing platforms in the Gulf boarded and destroyed with impunity by the U.S., but Iranian naval forces that had come out to challenge the U.S. Navy were destroyed. Iraq's reign of terror, and the strong American message to Iran, possibly helped end the war.

You cannot make this stuff up. Read the whole document, if you can stomach it.

All I can say is, "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines."

Thank You Peggy

It was so nice of her to help out the hapless Dems with some sad, heartfelt observations of our snobbishness, elitism and exclusionary tactics. She said:

"Be pro-free-speech again. Allow internal divisions and dissent. A vital political party should have divisions and dissent."

"Stop being the party of snobs. Show love for your country and its people--all its people. Stop looking down on those who resist your teachings

"Stop the ideology. A lot of Democratic Party movers and intellectuals have created or inherited a leftist ideology that they try to impose on life. It doesn't spring from life; it's forced on life, and upon people. Stop doing that--it's what weirdos who are detached from reality do."

That was such good advice. You can't say too much about it. What could be more important to a political party's intellectual vitality
than to allow all points of view?This is what makes Peggy a national treasure. Her consistency, her caring advice to the opposition, her committment to values and principles that all Americans should (and so rarely do) hold dear are the very definition of the American character.

It's called Honor and Integrity

Or, as Peggy says, "It's called, class."

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Eastern Front

MOSCOW - The US envoy to Russia has warned Moscow to think twice about the consequences of using its UN veto to block military action against Iraq.

And in a further sign of deteriorating US-Russia relations over the Iraq crisis, a top Russian official said Washington's bellicose stance could freeze a key nuclear arms pact

Why are we ratcheting up the rhetoric at this particular time? What could be causing this relationship -- with a country that actually has a whole big bunch of nuclear weapons -- to deteriorate like this? It just doesn't seem like a good idea to be even thinking about freezing nuclear arms pacts and withholding economic aid from Russia right now. Who would even think of such a thing?

A Kremlin spokeswoman said US President George W Bush discussed the Iraq crisis with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone on Wednesday.

Not a good idea.

I knew President Merkin Muffley. President Merkin Muffley was a friend of mine. And you sir are no President Merkin Muffley.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Psychotic Break

Kieren and others are talking about how den Beste has lost his bearings, but it's pretty clear it's just symptomatic of a much wider form of mass psychosis on the right.

Michael Ledeen, esteemed fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and intimate of the neocon nutballs who are running our foreign policy has gone completely around the fucking bend:

A Theory

What if there’s method to the Franco-German madness?

Assume, for a moment, that the French and the Germans aren't thwarting us out of pique, but by design, long-term design. Then look at the world again, and see if there's evidence of such a design.

Like everyone else, the French and the Germans saw that the defeat of the Soviet Empire projected the United States into the rare, almost unique position of a global hyperpower, a country so strong in every measurable element that no other nation could possibly resist its will. The "new Europe" had been designed to carve out a limited autonomy for the old continent, a balance-point between the Americans and the Soviets. But once the Soviets were gone, and the Red Army melted down, the European Union was reduced to a combination theme park and free-trade zone. Some foolish American professors and doltish politicians might say — and even believe — that henceforth "power" would be defined in economic terms, and that military power would no longer count. But cynical Europeans know better.

They dreaded the establishment of an American empire, and they sought for a way to bring it down.

If you were the French president or the German chancellor, you might well have done the same.

How could it be done? No military operation could possibly defeat the United States, and no direct economic challenge could hope to succeed. That left politics and culture. And here there was a chance to turn America's vaunted openness at home and toleration abroad against the United States. So the French and the Germans struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs: You go after the United States, and we'll do everything we can to protect you, and we will do everything we can to weaken the Americans.

The Franco-German strategy was based on using Arab and Islamic extremism and terrorism as the weapon of choice, and the United Nations as the straitjacket for blocking a decisive response from the United States.


If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us.

Radio Free France, anyone?

Somebody had a little Ecstasy with his Freedom Toast this morning.

The next time somebody says that the left is full of conspiracy theorists I'm going to pop a gasket. This guy is a MAINSTREAM Republican, writing on the National Review website, for crying out loud. His nutsy wife worked in the Reagan administration and formerly ran the Barbizon School of Dyed-Blond Former Prosecutors.

Michael Ledeen gets invited to the White House. He is crazy as a loon.


"One of the tests of a leader is to convince your allies what's right and what's wrong," Bush said. "And that's what a leader does. A leader builds up alliances."

December 1999, ABC "This Week"

I hear ye, Junior.



Colonel, you better have a look at this radar.


What is it, son?


I don't know, sir, but it looks like a giant--







Take a look out of starboard.


Oh my God, it looks like a huge--






He raises his binoculars.


Over there. A rare red-billed woodpecker!

(looks over with binoculars)

What sort of bird is that? Oh goodness, it's not a bird, it's-



Privates! We have reports of an Unidentified Flying Object. It has a long, smooth shaft, complete with-



Two balls! No strikes.

(looking up)

What is that? It looks just like an enormous--





Yes, sir?


Get on the horn to British Intelligence and let them know about this.

Official transcript

Tory Unrest

If the Tories are starting to falter then there is a faint (very faint) possibility that the Brits will drop out. If that happens, then all bets are off.

Conservative whip John Randall has quit his post because of his concerns over a possible Iraq war.

With the Tory leadership backing Tony Blair's stance on the Iraq crisis, Mr Randall's resignation shows divisions are not exclusively confined to the Labour benches.

His move comes after International Development Secretary Clare Short launched a searing attack on Mr Blair's "reckless" Iraq policy.

One Labour ministerial aide, Andy Reed, has already resigned over his concerns and others have signalled they will follow if war begins without new United Nations backing.


They're coming at Bush's Freedom Poodle now from the right as well as the left. It's probably just a "Ron Paul" moment, but you never know.

A Good Dad

TBOGG proves that it's the smart, sensitive people who are the most devastatingly funny.

Here's my pick for "oh my Gawd, my life just changed" reading:

When you look directly at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he's insane, which is not to see him at all. To see him you must see what he saw and when you are trying to see the vision of an insane man, an oblique route is the only way to come at it. Otherwise your own opinions block the way... The ghost [Phaedrus] pursued was the ghost that underlies all of technology, all of modern science, all of Western thought. It was the ghost of rationality itself."

Oooh baby.

I was 17 years old and the world tipped off its axis and sent me flying in a brand new direction.


If those of us on the left read nothing else, we need to read this series from David Neiwert, called Rush, Newspeak and Fascism.

He is writing about something that we really don't want to hear about. Marshalled with data and first hand experience in the field, he is laying out the scenario --- step by step --- for how the United States of America can slowly but inexorably move into fascism.

This is not hysterical nonsense nor is it tin-foil hat conspiracy mongering. Those of us who like to think of ourselves as fairly earthbound (polemic blogging notwithstanding) and who have grown up in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity where nothing really politically catastrophic has happened to us, are hard pressed to believe that something truly bad can happen here.

I have friends who have maintained until just recently that we would not go to war because well.. it didn't make sense and the wise men who "really run things" wouldn't let it happen. I know other who have faith that our electoral system could never be compromised in any serious way because well...it's America. We don't do that.

And, indeed, we have had an incredible run. We always existed within the context of the time, and as such we perpetrated genocide, institutionalized slavery, pandered to every bigoted and racist proclivity known to man. As a culture we have been no better (and probably no worse) than any other collection of flawed human beings. Rather, it has been the government, while certainly corrupt at times and thoroughly tainted by the necessity for the human species to run it, that has been the fundamental basis of the bold American experiment. A certain committment to that ideal has formed the core of what it means to be an American.

But, there is no guarantee that it remain so. Under stress, whether real or manufactured, the institutions we take for granted are subject to change. We are not immune from the dark side of human ambition or the folly of small men with grand ideas and little know how. It's impossible to know if we are marching toward fascism but there is no law of nature that says it is impossible.

How Inappropriate

Bob Novak (singing along with the Mighty Wurlitzer) is upset that Jimmy Carter is speaking out of turn and criticizing President Legacy:

NOVAK: There was a time when ex presidents acted like elder statesmen, rarely seen, almost never heard. But on "60 Minutes" this past weekend, there was Bill Clinton, basking in the spotlight of big money and criticizing President Bush's proposed tax cut. Even that wasn't as grading (sic) as yesterday's sanctimonious op-ed column in "The New York Times" by Sunday school teacher and ex-President Jimmy Carter. "As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantial unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards."

He's right, as always. But, I really think he needs to have a talk with this guy too:

''We need to make clear the new world order is not some code for American imperialism, but making freedom and self-determination widely accepted norms''

It's highly inappropriate for former presidents to speak out of turn this way.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Ari and Karl Do The Tango

The new NY Times Poll has a roaring headline saying:

Growing Number in U.S. Back War, Survey Finds

Americans are growing impatient with the United Nations and say they would support military action against Iraq even if the Security Council refuses to support an invasion, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

The poll found that 58 percent of Americans said the United Nations was doing a poor job in managing the Iraqi crisis, a jump of 10 points from a month ago. And 55 percent of respondents in the latest poll would support an American invasion of Iraq, even if it was in defiance of a vote of the Security Council.

The problem with this headline is that they didn't mention that while the public feels the United Nations isn't "managing" the crisis well, the Bush administration has a bare 51% of Americans who think that he is. And that number hasn't budged. The same number feel he is doing a good job on foreign policy in general, 51%.

The second question concerning defiance of a Security Council vote has never been asked before, so saying that such sentiment is growing is based upon total conjecture.

On the other hand the answers to many of the questions are so contradictory and incoherent that you really have to wonder what the hell people are thinking.

My personal favorite is:

From what you have seen or heard so far, how much progress have the U.N. weapons inspectors made in finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq --- a lot, some, not much, or none at all?

9% say "a lot", 47% say "some", 33% say "not much", 8% say "none at all", and 3% say "don't know."

56% of the public believe that the inspectors have made some or a lot of progress finding weapons of mass destruction. I suppose they could mean since 1991, but surely a fair number think that Blix and his boys have found them in this last round.


Are We Better Off Now Than We Were Six Months Ago?

Vote Quimby points out that the very hegemony and military dominance so prized by the neoconservative warmongers, and on which they base their starry-eyed plans for a Pax Americana, is being seriously diminished by the incompetence of this administration.

Let's just look at this last few months and ask this simple question: Is America more powerful than it was last summer, or less?

I thought that perhaps the answer was 'more' after seeing the 15-0 Security Council vote that got inspectors back on the ground. Achieving unanimity on a security council that included Syria was no mean feat.

But since then, America's ability to influence events has receded dramatically. We've seen a coalition of the unwilling form between France, Germany, Russia and China; and we've been blown off by Turkey(!). It's unclear how many of these diplomatic failures were caused by massive disagreement over matters of substance vs. team G-Dub's ultra-manly approach to getting what it wants. But it seems pretty clear to me that the most powerful nation in the world gets less powerful every time another country publicly refuses to go along with its positions.

Be careful what you wish for, boys...

Judy Garland Bush

Uppers and Downers:

One of the leaders described Bush as "cocky and relaxed" and said he conveyed the clear impression that he had concluded that attacking Iraq was inevitable. Another lawmaker described Bush as being "in high spirits." This leader said that at the congressional breakfast a month earlier, Bush had "seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders."

The lawmakers' accounts were echoed by Bush's aides, who said he is still an optimist in settings unrelated to the war. People close to Bush said he has kept to his usual schedule of sleeping from roughly 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. And they said he continues to work out for at least half an hour, at least five or six days a week, alternating between weight-lifting and running -- sometimes on a treadmill and sometimes on an outdoor track.

"I do work out daily. And I'm sleeping well at night," Bush told a roundtable for regional newspaper reporters Monday.

How Low Can We Go?

This is just wonderful, just peachy. It makes me proud to be an American.

Now, let's suppose the (suspected) terrorist (supposedly) knows that there is going to be a terrorist attack somewhere at sometime in the future. In order to protect the innocent people who might be harmed, isn't it incumbent upon us to torture his children to find out that information?

Because, if torture is called for because of the number of innocent lives that could possibly be saved, then there really is no limit on who is eligible for the torture, is there? Since the moral argument rests on "we have to do it to save lives" then the calculus is pretty straightforward.

Boys "Quizzed" About Their Terrorist Boss Father

Yousef al-Khalid, nine, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, seven, were taken into custody in Pakistan in September when intelligence officers raided a flat in Karachi which their father had fled hours earlier. They were found cowering behind a wardrobe with a senior al-Qaeda member.

The boys have been held in Pakistan, but this weekend they were flown to America to be questioned about their father.

CIA interrogators confirmed on Saturday that the boys were staying at a secret address.

"We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children," said an official. "But we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care."

Yeah, I'm sure that these kids have a lot of important information to impart.

(Hey, aren't 7 year old's eligible for the death penalty in Virginia? If they aren't, they should be, little terrorist bastards...)

Of course there is that pesky little problem of whether torture actually works.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden posts a spot-on comment from one of his readers, James D. Macdonald, that really should give pause to even the most bloodthirsty proponents of the "torture for the sake of the greater good" school of cruelty:

Oliver, lad, let me explain something to you.

Give me a pair of pliers, a soldering iron, and two hours alone with you, and you will confess to being a member of Al Qaeda. Another half hour or so, and I'll have a list of all the terrible things you did, and most of the details of the things you plan to do. Then I'll get a list of the other secret members of Al Qaeda you know. Give me a little time with them, and they'll confess too, confirming that you're a terrorist.

Are we so fucking deluded that this is not completely and totally obvious?

I give up.

General Dynamic

I hope that the Democrats face up to the reality that national security is going to be the foremost issue in the coming Presidential campaign and find a way to deal with the fact that we are considered to be complete losers on the issue. This is a HUGE problem and it's not going to magically disappear no matter how badly they manage to fuck up the economy. They are going to keep asserting that the economy is in the ditch because of the "war" on evil and there is nothing to be done but to keep cutting taxes and invading countries that might threaten us someday. They are committed to this and they aren't going to budge.

And we are going to lose if we don't find a way to answer the charge that Democrats are pussies.

I like Dean's feisty iconoclasm and I've always thought that Kerry is a good man. Hart is one of the smartest politicians, ever. But, all of these guys are going to be going up against a guy whose hagiography has turned him into a cross between Winston Churchill and Stonewall Jackson. It's bullshit, but you have to picture the flagwaving, near hysterical cheering crowds that will be seen every single day on the whore media for the next two years as President AWOL begins his re-election campign in earnest. And they will consistently portray him as resolute, strong, manly, etc., etc., etc., while Kerry will be seen as a creature of the Senate debating society and Dean as an obscure northern Governor with no foreign policy experience. Hart = Monkey Business.

And, to ignore the importance of the southern constituency at a time when the public is very evenly divided is folly. As Michael Lind pointed out in his fascinating article called "America's Tribes", the martial tradition in the south is a fundamental, defining issue in american politics and we Democrats ignore it at our peril.

I have held off really looking closely at this guy until now because I had no idea of his domestic positions and I wasn't sure if he was going to be a reliable Democrat. This article , called "Mr Credibility" by Michael Tomasky went a long way toward allaying those concerns, at least in the short term. (I also noticed that he has quite a bit of education and some political experience ('75-'76 White House Fellow OMB) in economics.)

Think Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) looks good because he fought in a war? Well, check Clark out. Clark, now 58, fought in Vietnam, too, of course, but that was just his stretching routine. He won a war. He was NATO commander during the Kosovo operation. Granted, this may not be the military equivalent of beating back Adolf Hitler. But it arguably is something of a moral equivalent in that it led to the downfall of a Hitler manqué in the person of Slobodan Milosevic. It was, however sliced, a successful, multilateral mission that largely achieved its objectives, both military and political. And the Kosovo campaign was merely the most recent in a long line of Clark's feats. After graduating from high school in Little Rock, Ark., in 1962, he went to West Point, where he finished first in his class; after that, to Oxford University, where he earned a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics as a Rhodes Scholar (an Arkansas Rhodes Scholar, eh?); to Vietnam in the late 1960s; thence up the ladder, all the way to NATO command, which Bill Clinton bestowed on him in 1997. Although both from Arkansas, Clinton and Clark first met, Clark says, at a 1965 student leadership conference while both were in college. Since then, Clark has won the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and more accolades and decorations than Secretariat.

So there's all that. And there's this: He votes Democratic. In Arkansas most voters enroll with no party affiliation; you show up on primary day and select the ballot of whichever party you want to support. Clark told me he voted in the Democratic primary in last year's state elections. He seriously considered seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Arkansas in 2002, challenging Republican incumbent Mike Huckabee. He told me in an interview that he favors both abortion rights and affirmative action. We spoke just after the Bush administration filed its brief against the University of Michigan's admissions policy, and Clark said he was "surprised and dismayed" by the president's decision. He has "tremendous regard" for the Clintons. And, just as a little sweetener for the culture department, he quotes Bob Dylan toward the end of his book, Waging Modern War, and writes affectionately about the protest folk music that he used to love to listen to as a young man.

A lot of this is still sketchy, but I am gravely concerned that we are going to be in a campaign framed as if it is between John Wayne and Michael Jackson and if that is so, we are going to be in deep shit.

I think he could be the one --- and I mean at the top of the ticket, not the bottom.

Oh, That Explains It

I had long wondered why the very influential Richard Perle, who often acts as spokesman for the administration position both here and abroad, wasn't brought on in any official capacity. They hired Elliot Abrams, John Negropont, John Poindexter and Otto Reich, so they are certainly not constrained by matters of reputation or even criminality when bringing zealots and crazed ideologues in to the administration. So why not Perle?

Well, it would appear to be the oldest reason in the book. Greed. According to that well known terrorist Sy Hersh, he stands to make a great deal of money with his new company (coincidentally, I'm sure) formed in November 2001 that sells homeland security and defense products.

Of course, the good news is that he still maintains all the influece he could possibly want with Rummy and Wolfie, but he doesn't have to give up making huge sums of money to do it. In fact, his crazy-assed scheme to remake the world in his own image is finally being implemented and he can make a boatload of money from it at the same time.

Is this a great country or what?

(But, I still don't think we have the full story on what Bill Clinton knew about that 1985 check they found in the trunk of that rusted out Chevy. Corruption in high places is intolerable.)

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Beware The Ides Of March

Zizka is back and asks the logical question:

What do we do when the war starts? He has a list of possibilities, beginning with the obvious call to arms for regime change at home.

Matt Yglesias has also brought this up a number of times, particularly as it pertains to the anti-war movement shifting its emphasis from stopping the war to re-building Iraq properly.

I have been convinced that the war would happen since last August, barring a miraculous spine transplant from the Democrats or the UK bowing out. Since neither of those things have happened, we're going, (supposedly on the 17th, although just because this group is so incredibly predictable, it will probably be on the 15th. Hail Caesar.)

Leap-frogging over the horrible carnage we are about to wreak but over which we so clearly have no say, I ask all 12 of my readers to weigh in on this because I'd really like to know. Taking all of Zizka's points into account, how can we also persuade the Bush administration to deal with post-war Iraq properly?

The Regents and the Dauphin

The most confounding aspect of this Iraq debate is the question of motivation. Why in the world are we really doing this? Clearly, the official explanations don't make sense, the "case" has been presented over and over again, but it has never been made. We spend hours and days researching the past writings of the advisors, reading 5 pound tomes about the history of the middle east, and desperately scanning the foreign press for hints about what they are really up to. We force ourselves to fight the nausea that listening to the President inevitably brings and make ourselves watch him repeat his bumper stickers mantras over and over again. Oil, Pax Americana, personal revenge, bloodlust, delusions of grandeur, Israel, end-times...it goes on and on.

Oddly, it's a somewhat serious Maureen Dowd who most accurately answers the question of motivations, and illustrates why the "case" has been so shockingly incoherent:

The president wants to avenge his father, and please his base by changing the historical ellipsis on the Persian Gulf war to a period. Donald Rumsfeld wants to exorcise the post-Vietnam focus on American imperfections and limitations. Dick Cheney wants to establish America's primacy as the sole superpower. Richard Perle wants to liberate Iraq and remove a mortal threat to Israel. After Desert Storm, Paul Wolfowitz posited that containment is a relic, and that America must aggressively pre-empt nuclear threats.

And in 1997, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News, and other conservatives, published a "statement of principles," signed by Jeb Bush and future Bush officials — Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Elliott Abrams. Rejecting 41's realpolitik and shaping what would become 43's pre-emption strategy, they exhorted a "Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity," with America extending its domain by challenging "regimes hostile to our interests and values."

And then there is Karl, whose influence is easily as great as any of the above and who weighs in with the electoral calculation and the motivation that has to be a primary one in Junior's mind --- not to be booted out of office after having attained it on a technicality, an asterisk forever after his name, less successful even than his wimp of a lip reading Poppy. Bush family honor, sis boom bah.

And, there is the scary question of Bush believing he is anointed by God, as Jack Beatty writes about so vividly in the Atlantic:

Why? The surface explanations—Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, has used them on his neighbors, on his own people, and "could" use them against us—fall short, don't balance the heaping price Mr. Bush is prepared to pay. To judge by his rhetoric, the President believes God has chosen him to lead the U.S. in a war against "Evil"; beside that eschatological assignment, NATO, the UN, our allies, Arab opinion, world opinion, the war on terror, the budget, are as nothing.

So, the problem isn't that there is one overarching sinister reason for the insane foreign policy actions we are taking. It's that every member of the administration has his own overarching reason, and they are all competing and conniving and complimenting to the extent that we are now being pushed by events and nobody knows quite how or why we are doing it.

All of this comes around, once again, to the absolute folly of allowing a callow, gladhanding brand name to assume the office on the assurance that he would be "advised" by a committee of cool hands with limitless expertise. Human nature and history shows that this never works. An ignorant, childlike Dauphin is always spoiled, stubborn and convinced of his own infallability while also being easily manipulated by his Regents. They battle amongst themselves, and with him, until the government becomes nothing more than a game board upon which each faction presses his advantage of the moment, only to be outmaneuvered or overtaken by a rival. The boy-king, meanwhile, is always also held close by some who whisper in his ear that he has been ordained by God to maintain the power of his forebears.

Democracy and an open meritocratic society were supposed to insure that the government was never led again by a silly boy and his unaccountable cabal. Yet here we are, once again.

The Experts

Right wing talk show hosts have been highly critical of "Hollywood celebrities" like Janeane Garafolo because, while they certainly have a right to speak, they don't have the expertise or credentials to discuss serious issues of foreign policy and national security. They should not be taken seriously, nor should they be given valuable air time when such grave matters as war and peace are at stake.

I agree. Therefore, I think that such celebrities as Rush Limbaugh (3 semesters at Missouri State before dropping out to become a top 40 radio DJ), Michael Weiner Savage (PhD in ethnobotany) and Sean Hannity (biography only states he was a college radio DJ, no mention of where anywhere) should not be allowed to expound for a combined 40+ hours per week on radio and television stations throughout the country about their political beliefs.

Discussions of national security are much too important to be left to unqualified celebrity dilettantes.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

For All of Your Boycott Needs

I keep reading about how the public is getting really charged up about this "grassroots" boycott of French products. They are going to give up eating that smelly cheese, and drinking that icky wine and guzzling that fancy water.

But, I would hate for them to miss out on the opportunity to boycott the traitors who help line the pockets of those French batards in Old Europe by continuing to work for the perfidious company known as Universal...oh wait....Vivendi Universal.

We know that good Americans never buy the products of sick and twisted liberals like Sheryl Crow or U2 anyway, but I think they should get out their phones and start dialing radio stations, because they're going to want to persuade them to stop playing Shania Twain, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Reba McIntyre, Earl Scruggs, Mark Wills, Tom T. Hall, Lee Ann Womack, and George Straight.

Fortunately, Lee Greenwood has released "God Bless the USA" on virtually every one of his albums since he originally recorded it for Universal MCA in 1985, so when they wear out this years tape they can just be sure to buy it on one of the newer CD's.

(They should also be prepared to hold the line by not seeing "The Hulk" or "Bruce Almighty" when they come out and I'd hate to be the one who has to break it to the President, but "The Cat In The Hat" is out, too.
No, "Law and Order", "Blind Date" or "Nashville Star," either. And, I'm afraid that long held dream of being featured on "Jerry Springer" is just a memory, too.)

It's a big sacrifice, but good Americans will be more than willing to make it. Surely, they can live without all those Reba and Shania records. And by the time we need ole Hank's football song, we'll probably have nuked France back into the stone age!

I'm just sure that Rush and Sean and Neal and Mikey are going to get right on this considering their clout on Clear Channel and Premiere Radio. They should put their foot down and demand that their stations stop playing the entire Vivendi-Universal Music Group roster (the biggest in the world.)

It's the patriotic thing to do.

Mr Big

As reported in The New Republic:

Expecting such consistency from intellectual columnists, however, is another matter--and George Will, as the blogger Atrios (atrios.blogspot.com) has noted, isn't living up to expectations.

When is Santorum up for re-election?

You're Just Mentioning This Now?

Thanks to Atrios for sending me in the direction of Jonathan Alter's new piece (web-only, needless to say) headlined "Totally Unconvincing."

It's great to see that the somnambulent press corp have started to stir and all, but I am gobsmacked that they are only now bringing attention to something that has been glaringly obvious since Junior was unveiled as the Official Brand Name of the Republican Establishment 2000:

His habit—on display again Thursday night—is to simply assert, assert, assert until the message sinks in. It’s as if war supporters believe that if they repeat the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection enough, people will eventually believe it.

I understand that this works on the sub-rational superstitious types that make up a large part of his base, but why the liberal media haven't gotten fed up with it by now is truly a mystery to me.

The classic example, of course, is the "Who's your favorite political philosopher?" question in the primary debate. Everyone remembers that he said, "Christ. He changed mah heart," after which he smirked, shifted and did his little curt dismisssive nod. But, what is forgotten is that the questioner actuallly followed up and asked if he would elaborate. He replied, "Well, if they don’t know, it’s going to be hard to explain … when you accept Christ as your savior, it changes your heart, it changes your life.”

None of this assertion as argument is new. The following are quotes from the presidential campaign. He's always done this.

"I’m a person who does in office what I say I will do.

As friends begin to work on my behalf around the country, I hope the people of
America will learn what the people of Texas know: that I base decisions on a
set of core, conservative principles from which I will not waver.

As Governor of this great state, I have proven I know how to lead. I know
that a leader must clearly see a better tomorrow. A leader must make
decisions based on principles. And a leader must be a uniter, not a divider."

I've been underestimated before, and Governor Richards regrets it. (Laughter) I understand labels and how the politics works, and the only thing I know to do is to lay my record out, share my heart as best I can, and in a system that often times gets filtered, I know that. That's why these town hall meetings are important for me. And you can take a look. You can take a look and... and you can say, I trust him. I trust his judgment. Or, you know, got a nice mother, but maybe he doesn't hack it. When I first got going, people said he doesn't want to come to our state that much. But it took a while. I knew it was going to happen. Then they say, he didn't say anything. And now they're not saying that. And now they're saying, you know you know, whatever they said George Bush, you know, he's not smart enough. Well, as I said, I'd rather be underestimated."

"I mean, I'm a doer. I'm a problem-solver. I get things done."

"No, I believe the people are going to elect me president because I’ve got what it takes to be the leader. I’ve got a clear vision. People know that I have a uniter not a divider, that I’ve got a solid record of setting goals and leading people to achieve those goals.

But the point is, my record shows that I’ve been the governor of the second biggest state in the union, and I’m going to talk about that proudly, and I’m going to have Democrats stand by my side and talk about that proudly. But in order to get elected, this country needs somebody to set a positive vision for America. Somebody—people of both parties can understand where I want to lead."

I'm interested in solving problems. That's what a leader does."

As glad as I am that the media has taken its first baby steps to discussing what has been obvious from the beginning, it's hard not to stand up and shout "Where the hell have you people been!"

He's always been completely inarticulate, he's always used circular logic and argument by assertion, and he always repeats his Karen Hughes bumper sticker slogans in a boring matra as an answer to any question no matter how irrelevant. The Emperor has been doing a lap dance on American public but until now, nobody bothered to mention that he was stark raving naked.

oy vey.