Saturday, November 16, 2002

The high-level debate reflects a widespread concern that the FBI has been unable to transform itself from a law enforcement agency into an intelligence-gathering unit able to detect and thwart terrorist plans in the United States. The FBI has admitted it has not yet completed the cultural sea change necessary to turn its agents into spies, but the creation of a new agency is firmly opposed by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who has said he believes the bureau can do the job.

A Bush administration spokesman, who asked not to be named, said no conclusions were reached about a domestic intelligence agency during the Veterans Day meeting. He said an MI5-style agency was just one option considered. The official, and other sources knowledgeable about the issue, said the White House first wants to launch a new Department of Homeland Security, which would include an intelligence analysis division.
Gore interview: "I was surprised that they took the case," he says. "I was shocked because the philosophy that had been followed by the conservative majority on the court was completely inconsistent with a decision to take the case away from the state court.

"The best analogy I can think of is something like that: a disputed call by the referee on the home team's field."

Meanwhile, September 11 had changed the entire political atmosphere. Nobody was thinking about the election of 2000. Nobody was looking back. Nobody doubted that George W. Bush was president. Gore saw this instantly. "I thought President Bush did a magnificent job in the immediate aftermath of the attack," he says. "In rallying the country and mobilizing a speedy response. I thought he did a really good job, and I said so . . . It was a watershed. I think he really came into his own as a president."

Finally, everyone involved might also want to consider whether Adm. Poindexter is the best person to direct this extremely sensitive project. Though his criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, his record of lying to Congress hardly makes him an ideal protector of the legal system, and his conduct of Iran-contra hardly makes him an advertisement for government competence. Even his choice of logo calls into question his tact and taste. Adm. Poindexter's presence on this project, the lack of clear public information about it and the absence of any real oversight already indicate a serious lapse of judgment.
The White House has solid tactical reasons for stating and restating that our fight is only with terrorists, not Muslims. We must face the fact, however, that while the prophet has many moderate followers, the terrorists command great sympathy in the Islamic world not only because Islamic populations are anti-American or anti-Western, but also because the terrorists are attacking infidels. An elderly Afghan freed from detention at Guantanamo last week made a telling statement to a Washington Post reporter: "The Americans treated me well, but they were not Muslims, so I didn't like them."
And this week, some family members found themselves on the outside of an issue that they had long assumed was essentially theirs: the planning for a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
You can't make this shit up: In the complaint regarding Mr. Malvo, his lawyers had said his right to privacy was being infringed by his guards. Among other things, they said, his mattress was too thin, he had been denied reading material, his cell lights glared 24 hours a day and he was being denied vegetarian meals.
Today Ms. Rice responded sharply to that criticism. "Let me start by saying that the president begins his day at 8 a.m. in the morning with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, joined shortly after that by my colleague Tom Ridge, and the F.B.I. director, and his counterterrorism person to review the terrorism threats against the United States," Ms. Rice said. "He does not begin his day on Iraq."

Naww, I better not say anything.
"Get ready for the next generation of wartime propaganda," writes Ed Halter in his story War Games in the Village Voice. The US military is producing big-budget military promotional films and war-based video games to "boost national morale" and "court new recruits".
Mr. Bush's trickiest job will be to balance "zero tolerance" with shrewd patience, to hold the Security Council together and to hold Mr. Blix's feet to the fire, to be both good cop and bad cop. He cannot bomb Baghdad because some Iraqi took 15 minutes to unlock a door. At the same time, he should continue doing all the things he would be doing if we were going to war, because on one point everybody who has had anything to do with Iraq agrees: That is the only thing Saddam takes seriously.

After the Gulf war defeat, the Iraqi army was cut to less than half its original size. The idea was to create a smaller, more disciplined force, ideologically committed to defending the regime. For more than a decade Washington has looked to this army for regime change. Today, the US government still hopes a coup triggered by an invasion will save American troops the high cost of fighting through Baghdad's streets to reach the presidential palace.

Should hostilities start, martial law would be declared and troops brought on to the streets. The ministry of information has developed a highly efficient press handling system. Once bombing begins, with its inevitable civilian casualties, the hope is that international press coverage will put pressure on Washington to stop the war prematurely, as it did in 1991.
Mr. Lott supported Jack Kemp for the Republican presidential nomination against Mr. Bush's father in 1988 and opposed the Bush tax increases in 1990. Since the current president took office, he has overridden Mr. Lott's wishes on a number of personnel and patronage decisions.

Snippy catfight between two ex-cheerleaders!* (sorry, that was sexist and possibly homophobic) Seriously, Trent screwed up in going agains Poppy because the Bush family holds loyalty in high esteem, and they have long memories.

*[Shrub: Phillips Academy, Andover;Lott: Ole' Miss]

Goofy cheerleader trivia II: Both character actor L.Q. Jones ("The Wild Bunch", etc.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison ("Senate") were University of Texas, the Baskett alma mater, cheerleaders, long before him.
Dalton is by no means alone. From Alaska to South Carolina, law enforcement officials said, Mexican traffickers have taken advantage of spreading Mexican immigration and freer North American trade to establish themselves as the dominant wholesale suppliers of illegal drugs across much of the United States.

They have improved the quality and increased the output of Mexican heroin and marijuana. They have negotiated to receive more cocaine from South American producers as in-kind payment for the loads they smuggle into the United States. They pioneered the large-scale production of methamphetamine, the United States' fastest-growing illegal drug, and they have scrambled to start producing other synthetic drugs like MDMA, or ecstasy.

Like the Los Angeles street gangs that helped spread crack in the late 1980's, Mexican traffickers have followed Interstate highways to the Southeast, feeding a surge in methamphetamine use in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. They have also built bases in New York, Florida and other former strongholds of Colombian dealers.

Somebody remind me to put up the links to the Moonie Times series on immigration.

Among other depressing (and private) developments, sums up the shittiness of the day -> Kingsbury threw his sixth touchdown pass of the game, a 25-yarder to Taurean Henderson with 5:41 remaining, as Texas Tech ended the Bowl Championship Series hopes of third-ranked Texas with a wild 42-38 victory.

That offensive line couldn't block me. Fuck it.

Friday, November 15, 2002

In which a pathetic, needy 57- year- old woman with little self-esteem rationalizes being a whore. Not that I know anyone like this: Prostitution. It is an ugly word. And yet if I am paid by clients who hire my time in order to enjoy my body, escorting is merely a euphemism. But to me there is a difference between what I do and the experience of a woman obliged to tout on street corners while sleazy men pass in cruising cars. The Internet has changed the face of the sex industry. Men who wouldn’t dream of going anywhere near a red-light district are happy to make contact with an escort of their choice by email and cellphone. A woman sitting at her computer can be choosy, and very careful, about which contacts she is prepared to follow up.

But ...

Would I want my daughters to do it? In a word — no. I am new to escorting; but, that admitted, I doubt whether it is a career most women could gain much from (except financially) before they have done many other things that are part of a ‘normal’ woman’s life. Being an escort certainly wasn’t on my original agenda.

Fucking loony. She makes the world worse for ALL women. And you do, too, you know who you are.

Daily Kos has this foolishness: Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.

I mean, they fucking NEED translators! Sigh ...
Normally circumspect European intelligence and law enforcement officials have issued a wave of stark warnings in the last two weeks in an echo of U.S. fears that another terrorist attack may be on the way, including the possibility that al Qaeda could employ chemical or other weapons of mass destruction against European targets.
Couple of noteworthies via Eschaton:

This on stuff cut out of Baba Wawa's interview with Gore and family tonight: KARENNA GORE: Well, when we were in the Vice President's house during the recount, it was it was very intense. And one of the things I remember is that there was a … an organized effort by, I don't know whether it was the RNC or it was … it was right-wing groups, it was definitely Bush-campaign-oriented effort to bus in people to have a sort of siege at the Vice President's house, and, so, they were all lining there, screaming, and it was kind of an assortment of groups. I mean, some of them were anti, um, were anti-abortion groups, and some of them were pro-gun groups, and some of them … they all had their different signs. But they were all screaming, "Get out of Cheney's house," the whole time. And I just remember being there next to my dad, because I went for a run, and I ran back through them, and I was very upset when I came into the house. And my whole attitude was, like, "We've got to fight back harder. And where are our crowds?" And my dad, I'll never forget his response. He said, "We have to do what's best for the country, and it is not good for the country to have this kind of divisiveness. And he was on the phone, really calling off the dogs. There were people who wanted to fan the … the flames of the racial issue and have real unrest. And he was on the phone asking them not to, because of what was best for the country not because of what was best for him politically. And that's really who he is.

And this on diddly: Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) was outed for having an affair with Deborah Steelman, a health care lobbyist who routinely had business with Thomas' health care committee and steered huge campaign gifts to Thomas' war chest. Steelman, now a vice president for Eli Lilly, did not deny the affair; rather, she was enraged that anyone would think having sex with Thomas gave her undue advantage: "To suggest I would stoop to an 'inappropriate relationship' to achieve legislative results is repugnant and sexist."
TBogg has a snicker or two with Sully's 'South Park Republicans'.

Sully is making up all sorts of terms lately. Did you see his "eagle" column?
A vaguely similar scenario could follow an invasion of Iraq, which is the most logical place to relocate Middle Eastern U.S. bases in the twenty-first century. This conclusion stems not from any imperialist triumphalism but from its opposite: the realization that not only do our current bases in Saudi Arabia have a bleak future, but the Middle East in general is on the brink of an epochal passage that will weaken U.S. influence there in many places. Indeed, the relocation of our bases to Iraq would constitute an acceptance of dynamic change rather than a perpetuation of the status quo.
Law enforcement officials describe the United States as a one-stop shop for the guns sought by terrorists, mercenaries and international criminals of all stripes. And September 11 has not changed that in any significant way. In fact, Attorney General John Ashcroft has refused to permit the use of gun purchase records to track crimes, a practice that the FBI had previously used and that conceivably could help to identify terrorists. Nor did Ashcroft propose closing gun loopholes as part of the USA Patriot Act. The result of the lax US system, says McBride, is "an ongoing cycle" in which weapons bought here end up fueling violence abroad, and in which America is regarded as the firearms "shopping center for the world."
Hard to believe this is Kristof: Thank God that Menachem Begin overrode his own intelligence agency, which worried that the attack would affect the peace process with Egypt, and ordered the reactor destroyed. Otherwise Iraq would have gained nuclear weapons in the 1980's, it might now have a province called Kuwait and a chunk of Iran, and the region might have suffered nuclear devastation.
Until now, the Bush administration had been pressing government agencies to put 15 percent of jobs that are not "inherently governmental" into private competition. Those jobs are defined as "commercial activities," like running cafeterias, making travel arrangements and other tasks that are routinely done in the private sector. The change would not apply to any policy-making or political job, or most managerial ones. The new policy sets a target of putting half of those jobs out for competition in the next two years or so, and extending this to all 850,000 over the long run.
"In selecting its next targets," the F.B.I. alert said, "sources suggest Al Qaeda may favor spectacular attacks that meet several criteria: High symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy, and maximum psychological trauma. The highest priority targets remain within the aviation, petroleum, and nuclear sectors as well as significant national landmarks."

The F.B.I. warning was the clearest sign yet of the near certainty in intelligence circles that the audiotaped message broadcast earlier this week, praising terror attacks in Bali and Kuwait, was an authentic recording by Mr. bin Laden.

However, not everyone exuded such confidence. "The anxiety level is probably as high as it has been since the anthrax attacks," said one F.B.I. supervisor who asked not to be identified. '

Kristol and Kagan hold out hope that Bush is truly on their side -- and who knows? Bush's herky-jerky approach may yet reflect a masterful strategy. We just don't know which one. The president could be using Powell to build an international alliance to support the war that the hawks (and he) ultimately want waged. Or he could be using the hawks to push the world into supporting much sterner inspections and Iraqi disarmament, as Powell wishes. Or the president may be genuinely undecided, or just waiting.

Or not have a clue.
But this time it was different. The Department of Defense wanted summaries of its war plan published. It was the beginning of a psychological operation to convince the Iraqis -- and our nervous clients in the Middle East -- that we're serious, we're coming and we mean to win.

War is not a testing ground for a defense secretary's pet theories. We tried that in Vietnam. In war, you pile on, with everything you've got. Try to fight a war on the cheap, and you're likely to get what you pay for.

All this might be written off as merely the latest instance of Mr. Mubarak's long-standing political strategy, which aims to prop up his personal dictatorship -- and would-be dynasty -- by encouraging Egypt's poor and oppressed population to blame Israel and the West for their misery. Yet Mr. Mubarak's poisonous tactics are causing increasing harm to American interests in the Middle East. Thanks to satellite television and the Internet, the hate speech of Egypt's writers and broadcasters -- most of them government employees -- is spreading around the region; some 20 Arab channels and networks have picked up the "Horseman Without a Horse" series. A recent Gallup poll showed that most residents of the Middle East do not blame Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and many believe Jews were responsible -- another libel Mr. Mubarak's media have helped to spread. Thanks in large part to Cairo's propagandists, fundamental hatred of Jews, as opposed to opposition to Israeli policies, is playing a growing role in mainstream Arab politics.
"After Sept. 11 of last year, the situation with regard to security at all Russian nuclear facilities changed for the better, but it still has not reached perfection," Vishnyevsky said. He estimated that bringing security to its ideal level at Russian nuclear operations would require about 6 billion rubles, or $200 million.
I didn't think this commission would happen: The White House and key members of Congress agreed last night on legislation to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, breaking a monthlong deadlock that appeared to have doomed the proposal just a day earlier

In one of the last issues to be resolved, it would take six commission members or agreement by the chairman and vice chairman, ensuring at least some semblance of bipartisanship, to issue subpoenas.

Cut from the bill was a Democratic-backed provision that would have prevented the new federal agency from giving contracts to U.S.-based companies that use offshore addresses to avoid corporate taxes.
Several times the legislation had seemed close to passing, but it was repeatedly stalled by House Republicans who insisted that businesses be spared from punitive damages in lawsuits that might stem from an attack. The White House at first also opposed such lawsuits, but reached a compromise in October with Senate Democrats. Democrats argued that the threat of lawsuits would be an incentive to businesses to make every effort to prevent an attack.
The 'war' between the conservative-libertarians and libertarian-conservatives begins! A long-stalled, industry-sponsored bill to make it harder for people to erase their debts by filing for bankruptcy appeared to die in the House today, in what lawmakers saw as an embarrassing miscalculation by the newly installed House Republican leadership of the influence of anti-abortion lawmakers within their party.

The Republican opposition was led by conservative, anti-abortion lawmakers who said a provision of the bill would have unfairly punished anti-abortion activists by restricting their ability to use the bankruptcy courts to write off court fines.

The aides said the vote today had created bitterness among conservative Republicans who were forced by their leaders to choose between two powerful, traditionally Republican constituencies, the business community and anti-abortion groups.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

“Survivor” note: NYC cop Ken kicked off tonight. I was sure it was gonna be porn guy Brian once the others saw his wife, his baby grand piano and his house, but porn guy hangs in there. I guess I'm rooting for Jake now.

I’m just glad Erin and her fake boobs are gone. She’s a bartender on Sixth Street in Austin, but I couldn’t root for her once I saw those ridiculous-looking cantaloupes stuck on that skinny body. She would be a very cute girl if it weren’t for those monstrosities. I don’t understand it. Time to post my ode to fake boobs again:

Why do you do this to yourselves? Stop desecrating your body. It is beautiful as it is. If any dolt of a guy actually likes fake tits he's so much of a knuckle-dragging ape he should probably be shot (It is a mercy killing.). Honestly, fake tits suck! I cannot emphasize how much I despise fakies and the dumb superficial people who would ruin their bodies by making themselves into a cartoon character. Unless you have had breast cancer or so degenerative a disease whereby you actually need these things stop being such fucks. Fake tits are the ultimate in self hatred. You indicate your inability to love yourself, you declare your conformity and lack of all independent thought, and further toss yourself out as someone not to be taken seriously as you will acquiesce to whatever you perceive that society expects or wants from you. Stop trying to fit in or be what you think people want. People hate fucking posers and cheeseballs. Be you. You're fucking beautiful. Hard crunchy cantaloupe like tits are not good.
Isn't this just THE PERFECT photo of Pres. Shrub? The one on the left, with the sneer. It captures the absolute essence of the man.
Conservative wacko warblogger William Quick believes he should receive at least $50/month from his adoring public for writing shit like this.

President Bush plans to subject as many as 850,000 federal jobs to competition from the private sector, administration officials said Thursday, a sweeping reform long sought by Republicans and stiffly opposed by labor unions. Nearly half of the government's civilian work force could be affected by the plan to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. After a 30-day public review period, Bush can impose the new rules without congressional approval.

``The Bush administration officials are at war with reliable and experienced rank-and-file federal employees,'' said Bobby L. Harnage Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees. ``They are systematically conspiring to bust their unions, gut their civil service protections and hand over their jobs to politically well-connected contractors.''

An advisory panel tasked with making recommendations for anti-terrorism efforts in the United States wants the government to create a new domestic spy agency that would engage in both foreign and domestic surveillance.
Democrats were stunned to learn that both the NRSCand NRCChad money left to burn at the end of what was the most expensive midterm elections in history. "That's not a problem we were faced with,"joked a senior House Democratic aide. "We were scraping the bottom of the barrel for every dime we could get."

Gee, if the Republicans had so much soft money left over after outspending the Dems in the most expensive midterm in history, then that must mean they had a hell of a lot more money, period. Hmmm ... That couldn't mean that the Republican donors are richer than the Dems and that the Republican party is the party of the rich could it? Nahhhhh ...
Seen as having been recently updated on Blogger: The My Wet Pussy blog. I hope Admiral Poindexter doesn't have a heart attack.
President Bush took a ride on the Laffer Curve yesterday and espoused a tax-cut theory his father once derided as "Voodoo Economics." After a meeting with his Cabinet, the president was asked about the federal budget deficit. "Well, we have a deficit because tax revenues are down," he said. "Make no mistake about it, the tax relief package that we passed -- that should be permanent, by the way -- has helped the economy, and that the deficit would have been bigger without the tax-relief package."


Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), in his last days as Senate Budget Committee chairman, labeled Bush's statement as "dream-world economics." Said Conrad: "I don't know where he learned his math, but he didn't learn them in North Dakota schools, because we learned that if you subtract money, you have a bigger deficit."
BIG BROTHER IS COMING TO THE US. Indeed, the Orwellian nightmare figure is firmly established there already, but the Homeland Security legislation just approved by the House of Representatives is surely an attack on freedom in the country that laughably calls itself the home of the free. And included in the Department of Homeland Security legistation is a push to punish malicious computer hackers with life in prison.
BUSH SAYS, "WE NEED A PORT SECURITY BILL TO PROTECT OUR PORTS FROM TERRORISTS" (but not if Big Business has to pay one red dime for it): The House and Senate each passed a maritime security bill earlier this year, but the House balked at Hollings' plan for a user fee on shippers to raise $1.2 billion to pay for the measure.
Miss Cleo never saw it coming: ''I'm no psychic but I can foresee this: If you make deceptive claims, there is an FTC action in your future,'' said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis appears to be wrong. Analyses of voting data since the election last week show that the Democrats did pull in their base at normal levels of participation. They lost because Republicans turned out in higher than usual numbers, enough swing voters chose Republican candidates to make the difference, and interviews with voters suggested that most votes for GOP candidates were signals of support for President Bush.
Ideological (guess which) textbook cleansing in Texas: Let's review two facts that Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy has identified as erroneous, and therefore, subject to revision:

* Global warming. Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy pushed for textbooks to describe global warming as a theory. This comes a year after a panel of top American scientists appointed by President Bush to study the issue declared that global warming is real and getting worse. The panel's report was written by 11 atmospheric scientists who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, including a meteorologist who for years had expressed skepticism about some of the dire predictions regarding the significance of human-caused warming.

* Acid rain. Another theory, according to Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. However, that "theory" has done real damage in Franklin, N.Y., according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which describes the city's Little Echo Pond as one of the most acidic lakes in the United States due to the effects of acid rain.
Great line from Max: He has assumed the conventional persona of a right-wing pundit, which means he cries victimization to cover up his own inadequacies. More here.
Atrios drew my attention to this (I missed the 2nd page!): In one last-minute addition, Representative Dick Armey, Republican of Texas, inserted a provision that was apparently intended to protect Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant, from lawsuits over thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative that some parents contend has caused autism in their children.

Also, check out Dwight Meredith's account of his family's experience with thimerosal and autism.

Yep, the Republicans are on your side, common people. Sure.

Update: Dwight again on same subject here.
House Dems elect the GOP choice for minority leader: House Democrats on Thursday made Rep. Nancy Pelosi the first woman ever to head a political party's caucus in Congress.

Update: I told you so.
``We can't find bin Laden, we haven't made real progress'' in finding key elements of al-Qaida,'' the South Dakotan said. ``They continue to be as great a threat today as they were one and a half years ago. So by what measure can we claim to be successful so far?''

Applause for Sen. Daschle, finally. Speak the truth, Senator. Take it to 'em. I'm sure the Freepers are giving you hell for daring to question the competency of our oh so brilliant president and his sterling national security crew, but I say TELL IT. Give 'em hell, or tell the truth and make them believe they're in hell, per Harry Truman. Nice to see a sign of life, Senator.

Update: A reaction.
The battle with Islamist extremism is far from over and is not, as some administration officials asserted in recent months, merely a mop-up job.

To be fair and completly accurate, NY Times, that was asserted only about the Afghan phase.
In addition, Mr. Rove cited other recent data that suggested Republican support among older and younger voters — he did not specify ages — appeared to be growing at a faster rate than the overall population, and that the gender gap among younger voters was narrowing to an even split. In recent elections, Republicans have generally appealed more to men than to women.

Wait until they see this, Karl! -> Well, Lott wants those, too, but his vow was to pass a ban on what opponents of the procedure call "partial-birth" abortions. In an interview with American Family Radio the morning after the GOP midterm election triumph, Lott told the Christian radio network: "We will move the partial-birth abortion bill through. The House did it this year. Once again, Tom Daschle would not call it up. I will."

Sorry, back to Mr. Rove: In the question-and-answer session, a woman politely asked Mr. Rove if the administration was concerned over the possibility that 200,000 innocent Iraqis might die in an American-led invasion. Mr. Rove responded, "I'm more concerned about the 3,000 who died on 9/11."
The second is that Mr. Hussein has no way of knowing what kind of intelligence American officials have about what they say is his development and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. As a result, White House officials say, they believe that the United States has a reasonable chance of making a case that Iraq's detailed inventory of weapons, due on Dec. 8, is deliberately false.

The "Christmas War"?
No passage in the letter said plainly that Iraq would give unconditional cooperation for the inspections. Instead, it said Iraqi officials would be watching to see if the inspectors "perform their duties in compliance with international law.
Bush officials say changes are needed because the war against terrorism requires agile workers who can respond instantly to threats. The goal is to reward the best agents, analysts and investigators through higher pay and bonuses, make it easier to transfer employees across the nation and abroad, and speed the firing of poor performers.

This is total bullshit. Not one person has been fired over the events of 9/11, certainly the most astonishing intelligence failure in the history of the country. NOT. ONE. Neither has there been an official investigation into the events of that day, and probably won't be now that Republicans control all 3 branches of government. Shameful ...

This is ideological union-busting, plain and simple.
President Bush, who last year said he was determined to get bin Laden "dead or alive," bristled yesterday when reporters asked whether the United States should have already brought him to justice.

Yeah, I'll bet the sumbitch "bristled". You blew it, Shrub! Just like you blew it when informed -- in August 2001 -- that there was "chatter" about al Qaeda terrorists interesting in hijacking American planes. Makes you sick, huh? It should.

Government language specialists who have listened to bin Laden before believe he is the speaker on the al-Jazeera tape, according to senior administration officials. The National Security Council also circulated a classified e-mail yesterday concluding that the voice was confirmed as coming from bin Laden, two sources said.

Example of "spin": Within the administration, however, officials insisted that the reemergence of bin Laden had not caused overwhelming concern. They said the administration's course is set, both on Iraq and in the broader war on terrorism. "We're not spending a lot of time changing our views and goals," said a senior administration official. "We can do more than one thing at a time."

The reorganization, the largest in government since the creation of the Defense Department in 1947, is intended to fashion a single agency that would protect America -- along with its seaports, nuclear plants, energy pipelines and other infrastructure -- by using intelligence information. The new agency also would train police officers, firefighters and health workers to respond to terrorist attacks and develop new technologies to detect threats.

I thought conservatives were opposed to big government. Oh, I see; that doesn't apply to largely symbolic gestures to reinforce the people's opinion that they are dependent upon the current administration for their security. Not that that's political ... no.

In July the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, said that the new agency "merges too many different activities into a single department," and warned that managers will be so preoccupied with consolidation details that they might give "insufficient attention to their real job: taking concrete action to counter the terrorist threat at home."

Unlike our nation's whore news media, I will inform you that the Brookings Institution is a "liberal" think tank. It's about the ONLY "liberal" think tank I can think of, too. All the rest you hear about are "conservative" -- translate Republican -- think tanks. (No, this is not a contradiction in terms.)*

* Sorry, I'm just feeling particularly anti-Republican this evening.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I would still vote for Ford: The other is the canny political tactician. This Pelosi raises and doles out more money than any other House member on behalf of her fellow Democrats. She whips votes with steel and cunning. She grew up as the only daughter of an old-fashioned urban ward boss and never forgot what her father taught her: that politics is a matter of winning votes, not spinning philosophies.

Every conservative, Freeper, radio talk-show host, etc., etc. is openly hoping Pelosi will win. What does that tell you?
Hackworth is still not convinced: "I think a policy of containment, not invasion, should be employed against Iraq," the gray-haired and salty-spoken Hackworth said recently at his home in Greenwich, Conn. "And, contrary to what we've been told by Washington, we could suffer catastrophic casualties there from chemical and biological weapons -- which Saddam might be forced into using against us."

Did I mention that -- apart from Joseph Conrad's 'Mr. Kurtz' -- Hackworth was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now"?

"What I did with that outfit was teach our guys how to out-guerrilla the guerillas," Hackworth said.

And this is William Safire: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
That's probably true: Some international lawyers argue that the Iraq resolution is passed under chapter VII of the UN charter and therefore requires prompt action, while resolution 242 does not. But why not? Why is the demand for Israeli withdrawal not backed up with a threat of force? As President Bush himself put it in his speech to the UN general assembly on September 12: "Are security council resolutions to be honoured or cast aside without consequence?" The real argument behind the double standard seems to be this: unanimous UN resolutions assisting US oil imperialism will be enforced with the most ruthless military rigour, while unanimous UN resolutions directed against states friendly to the US will be ignored. Whether that is what the founders of the UN had in mind is not clear. What is clear is that whatever happens in Iraq, Palestine is still the issue.
I, reluctantly and still with reservations, agree with Richard Just: Deterrence is not going to address the "root causes" of terror. It will likely make them worse. At best it will leave a madman in check and leave much of the Muslim world in an ongoing mood of simmering disdain for America. At worst it will empower a madman to bide his time in manipulating the Muslim world's ongoing disdain for America. It is not a policy of hope; it is a policy of little imagination and puny moral spirit.


And while America will be responsible for the casualties we cause during this war, we will also be responsible for the consequences of not fighting. Whether they are tallied in the millions of Iraqis who will go on living under a cloud of torture and fear; or the inevitable casualties of Hussein's future belligerence; or the future American victims of terrorists who convince themselves that America is a weak sleeping giant with no commitment to defending its interests or values; or the millions upon millions of Arabs who will go on living under repressive regimes because we opted for a policy of just leaving things be -- those consequences will be severe indeed.

Was just playing around with some numbers … In Missouri, Talent beat Jean Carnahan by 23,531 votes out of 1,868,041 votes cast. Less than 1%. In Minnesota Coleman beat Mondale by 54,776 votes out of 2,225,060 votes cast. 3 points. Combine the results of the two states and the Republicans won by only 78,307 votes out of 4,093,101 votes cast, or 1.9%. That’s not much, huh?

Let’s say those 78,307 votes and a few more had gone the other way and that both Carnahan and Mondale had won. That would leave the new Senate at 49-49-1 with the Landrieu-Terrell race still undecided, leaving Louisiana as a one state, winner-take-all battleground. A poll released by Southeastern Louisiana University on Tuesday showed Landrieu ahead of Terrell 51.4 percent to 36.4 percent. Now, under our fantasy conditions, that race would be tighter with a lot more Republican money going into Louisiana, but still a sizable lead for Landrieu.

Hmmmm … 78,307 votes doesn’t sound like a mandate to me.

There’s another factor which could have made it really interesting: Osama bin Laden’s rising from the grave. Clearly Tommy Franks -- Shrub’s general from Midland, Texas -- blew it. We already knew that Franks depended too much on Afghan warlords which allowed too many Al Qaeda/Taliban bastards to escape over the White Mountains into Pakistan. Now it appears that the head bastard himself, as well as his second al-Zawahiri, both escaped as well.

If the tape of bin Laden’s voice had been delivered to al Jazeera before the American elections, don’t you think that would have affected the results?
In the days before the Nov. 5 elections, the NRCC transferred $1 million to a new group -- co-chaired by DeLay's recently departed chief of staff, Susan Hirschmann, that is expected to become an influential clearinghouse for "soft money'' in the years ahead, expanding DeLay's reach beyond Congress.
In the wake of historic Republican victories on Election Day that many Democrats blame on their party’s lack of a clear message, Democratic lawmakers and consultants are calling for stronger liberal think tanks. They say the party must find a counterweight to what they call the vast and well-funded infrastructure of conservative ideology.

Party allies even entertained the possibility of a liberal television network to offset Fox News, which they view as an adjunct of the Republican Party.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Ran across this out there: A conservative is a man who fucks a whore, pays up, and walks out the door. A liberal fucks the whore, pays for it with a sad expression on his face, and asks her if she's happy.

Then there's us liberals who've never had the pleasure but loves her anyway and is, of course, concerned with her happiness, but wishes she'd stop.

That's sort of a personal anecdote, not a veiled political manifesto.
The Bush administration argued that libraries are not required to have X-rated movies and pornographic magazines and shouldn't have to offer access to porn on library computers.

Rarely do I agree with Ashcroft's Justice Dept., but I do here. The notion that pornography is constitutionally-protected free speech or free expression is ludicrous. Maybe that's the Baptist in me.
People who have listened to hours of bin Laden tapes said the voice on the latest tape sounds like that of the al Qaeda leader. It is not known when the tape was recorded, but it refers to events as recent as October.

Oh, pish posh. The son-of-a-bitch is dead dead dead. Why no video? The late bin Laden was a ham.
We have just handed the country to a very dangerous group of people because we didn't stand up for what we should be - a party for the small person. The Democratic Party should be, as it once was, the party of the worker, the small business owner, the person standing in the way of the big developer.
--- James Morrell
It is true that recent Republican victories in southern states like Georgia reflect the substantial, though gradual, drift of the region away from its Democratic roots. But this process began well before the presidency, or even governorship, of George W. Bush. The Republican realignment of the South may be traced to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when the infusion of newly enfranchised blacks into the Democratic Party caused the conservative Democrats who then dominated the South to bolt and signaled the end of one-party politics. This process accelerated during the Reagan years. But outside the South, Democrats' advantage in partisan identification — about two-fifths of all voters identify themselves as Democrats, while about a third consider themselves Republicans — has held remarkably stable for 50 years.
Americans have just voted for a cartel economy, whether they realize it or not. They've reinforced the power of a corporate and political elite that serves itself first, and cares little for average people.

Congress and the president will keep on finding ways to reward the people at the top of the wealth charts. They'll expand the reckless new round of budget deficits and let the rest of us (and our kids) foot the bill. Then they'll scream ``class warfare'' when common sense makes people realize the danger of these fiscal acrobatics.


Three months after the Bush administration encouraged them to unite and create a common political platform for the future of their country, Iraq's exile factions are locked in an ethnic, religious and political power struggle.
Hitchens: But now civilians are in the front line as never before, and we shall be needing a more rigorous terminology to reflect that dramatic fact.
The ideological vacuum atop the post-September 11 Democratic Party will inevitably be filled. And if it is filled by Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich, the United States will no longer be a 50-50 nation; it will be a 40-60 nation for a generation.
Hussein has demonstrated unmistakably over the past 11 years that he is determined to possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). At any point during this period he could have had sanctions lifted if he had been prepared to do what was required of him by the cease-fire resolutions that ended the Persian Gulf War: Reveal all his WMD programs, plans and capabilities and accept disarmament. From the beginning he failed the test of Security Council Resolution 687 of April 1991 when he refused to turn over all the documentation on the location of facilities, components and subcomponents of his WMD programs. From the beginning, he failed his responsibility to cooperate with the inspection regime. The inspectors were not supposed to find his programs; he was supposed to reveal them. Instead, he hid them and continued to engage in their development even while U.N. inspectors were in the country.

Again, the Gulf War never ended, the man did not abide by the cease fire agreements, and official U.S. policy the day Clinton left office was "regime change".
Such public pronouncements on the Hill worry Bush aides. It's not because the president objects to the policy – he had said he would sign a ban on the controversial procedure – but because he does not wish to be seen as a captive of his party's ideologues, as President Bill Clinton did when he moved quickly on gay rights in the military. "I don't take cues from anybody," Bush said at last week's news conference.

Right. Shrub stands for things and has the courage of his convictions. The Democrats, we are told over and over ad nauseum by the conservative media, do not. Politicians play politics people. Surprise!
"They still don't know where the terrorists are, how many are here, what their intentions are, what kind of support network they have," said Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has been regularly briefed on FBI plans and the bureau's knowledge of suspected U.S.-based terrorists. "They can't give me an answer because they don't have one. . . . They have so little to show for their work and we have so little time to take action now.
Iraq has imported significant quantities of the nerve agent antidotes atropine and obidoxime chloride over the last two years, the official said, confirming a report in Tuesday's New York Times. Some came from Turkey, and while the administration is trying to stop future deliveries of the antidotes, they are not restricted for import into Iraq.
Thousands of students ignored official warnings and demonstrated today for a fourth day over the death sentence for a reformist scholar charged with apostasy. Some 5,000 students gathered at Tehran University in support of the academic Hashem Aghajari, sentenced to hang for questioning clerical rule in the Islamic Republic.
OCD is believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance that short-circuits information processing in the brain and has been described as a case of "mental hiccups" that won't go away. The condition, which may be hereditary, is related to "tic disorders" such as Tourette's syndrome, but is distinct from psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.

I'm a "counter".

Monday, November 11, 2002

This is a bizarre little story: Some of the Iraqi activity is so visible, intelligence sources say, that it's not clear whether Iraqi agents want to be seen, in order to send the United States a threatening message — or if they are just very clumsy. Regardless of the answer, officials say they can only assume all this activity is for some kind of terrorist activity against the United States at a time and place of Iraq's choosing.

Which Sex and the City Vixen Best Matches Your Sex Style?

I HATE this fucking show. And I'm a guy.
The BCS is total crap. Ohio State gets lucky and hits one pass against a bad Purdue team to escape, 10-6; and Miami blasts Tennessee 26-3 in Knoxville; and Ohio State goes to first in the BCS? Duhhh. And Washington State vaults past both Texas and Oklahoma?

Freepers beatify Shrub.
Astute Middle Eastern observers have made much of the US's post-Vietnam loathing for foreign adventures. In the 1970s, when many Iranians worried that Washington would destroy their revolution if it went too far, Khomeini told them not to worry, saying America "cannot do a damn thing". And as recently as 1998, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor, insisted there was no need to negotiate with the US since Tehran had shown that Washington was too weak to be feared or heeded.
Lots of goodies in this Time piece: Though Rove is often cast as Bush's conservative enforcer, his search for candidates was highly pragmatic. He wanted to know who could win; true believers did him no good if they were left smoldering at 35% on Election Day.

But George W. Bush sees politics and government as seamless; his whole vision of the presidency intertwines the two, and so it makes sense that he keeps his political adviser right next to him.

To this day, Rove tells the story of seeing George W. for the first time in 1973, when he was sent by Bush's dad to deliver the car keys. Rove sounds as though he had just encountered the reincarnation of James Dean, leather jacket and all. "He was cool, "says Rove, who can still come across as the nerd in high school with the pocket protector and briefcase. Where Bush was the carefree product of a loving family, with a Yale degree and money to burn, Rove was the opposite.

There are the now famous nicknames Bush has for Rove (Boy Genius on good days, Turd Blossom on others), and there is the evident pleasure the President seems to take in putting Rove in his place.

When I was in Jr. Hi (middle school to you later models), there was a girl who used to call everyone "Fart Blossom". Her brother claimed to have had sexual relations with a catfish. Yes, this was in Texas.

and ...

"What they did was risky as hell, "marvels Tony Coelho, a veteran operative who served as chairman of Al Gore's 2000 campaign. "They rolled the dice, they won, and now Bush has a huge mandate. It's not about 9/11 anymore. He is the legitimate President. "

Tony Coelho is a crook and an incompetent and maybe drunk when he spoke. Mandate? Please. There was this in the Moonie Times yesterday: "The Republicans had 50 senators in the election in 2000. They have 51 today," Mr. Daschle said, pointing out that "78 million votes were cast; 44,000 in three states would have made us the majority party. So I don't think that there's any mandate here. There isn't any seismic shift in direction. We still have a 50-50 breakdown in our country's voters."

Was Daschle spinning? Of course he was, but he wasn't far away from the truth, either. Those numbers speak for themselves. Shrub and the Republicans got a big win last Tuesday, and a narrow control of Congress. But a mandate? No. Only 30% of registered voters voted, for chrissakes. A big win, yes; mandate, no. Somebody sober Tony Coelho up. Scream "earth tones" in his ear.

Smoking three joints a day might do as much damage to the lungs as do 20 cigarettes, the British Lung Foundation says in a report today. It fears young people are unaware of the medical consequences of smoking the drug, far more powerful than in the 1960s due to a higher ratio of tetrahydro-cabinol (THC), the ingredient associated with its mind-affecting properties.

Not that I partake anymore, but ...
"What can I say?" asks Mr. Peterson, who calls himself a believer in the superiority of New York and its citizens. "Los Angeles is a decadent town."

Ain't it the truth? I still remember the good feeling of a quarter century ago, heading east back to Texas with LA in my rearview mirror and Jerry Jeff Walker singing "LA Freeway" on the (new at that time) cassette deck.

There's no film industry there, but if you want to do "decadent", go to New Orleans. At least it has class.
Few consumers bothered to hunker down during last year's recession or this year's stuttering recovery. Despite the loss of about two million jobs, the steep fall in the stock market and the Sept. 11 attacks, household spending has defied the traditional pattern and grown every quarter since the recession began. As a result, the normal pent-up demand that develops during a downturn and helps propel a strong rebound is now absent.
Herbert: I think of the G.O.P. as the costume party. It wears a sunny mask, which conceals a reality that is far more ideological, far more extreme, than most Americans realize.

The way to cripple such programs without openly opposing them is to bleed the government of the money to pay for them. With the prospect of budget deficits stretching far into the future, and with the first wave of baby boomers already well into their 50's, the day of reckoning for Social Security and Medicare is not far off.

Mr. Bush confronts other risks. After nearly two years of attributing the economy's troubles variously to a hangover from the Clinton years, Osama bin Laden, obstructionists in the Democratic Senate and the business cycle, the president will most likely be forced to take full political ownership of the economy.

For now, Democrats seem likely to spend as much time debating one another as taking on Mr. Bush. In reviewing the election results this week, the centrist Democratic Leadership Council warned against simply "moving to the left" and fighting the president at every turn.
Liberals drew the opposite lesson. Democrats, said Robert L. Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, a liberal advocacy group, need to "fight openly for working families against what will clearly be a flood of special interest, corporate lobby legislation aimed at rolling back environmental protections, larding on corporate welfare and making our tax code even more regressive than it already is."

What is left of a Republican tax program has conservative activists and economists fretting that the Bush administration and Republican leadership are squandering an opportunity to be bold in favor of a calculated effort to position themselves in the political center for the 2004 campaign. Both the White House and the GOP leadership, they say, are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1994 "revolution" by overreaching.

But for now, Republican special interests appear compliant with the developing approach. One case in point is the estate tax. An influential Republican lobbyist said some affluent GOP donors are pushing hard for Congress to immediately repeal the tax, or at least lower the tax rate well below the current 50 percent.

Since succeeding controversial director Louis J. Freeh last September, Mueller has had to cope with a number of high-profile cases involving proclaimed whistle-blowers. One of the most significant involved Coleen Rowley, the Minneapolis FBI legal counsel who complained that headquarters' officials stymied the efforts of local agents to search the belongings of terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

We need an investigation of 9/11, but we'll never get it under a Republican congress.
Carson said Ford could help Democrats chart a middle course in their approach to possible war with Iraq. Pelosi opposed a congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq; Ford supported it. "There's a third option," Carson said. "It's not a binary choice between capitulation to the president on Iraq and blind opposition to him."

Absolutely, Carson. There is common sense.
This day, 84 years after the end of the war to end all wars, the pool of qualified recruits for the Veterans of Foreign Wars is growing again -- in Afghanistan now, and soon, perhaps, in Iraq. Whether we endorse or dissent from decisions our leaders make, in our names, to put young Americans in harm's way, we shirk our duty as citizens if we avert our eyes from what they are about to encounter and, if they survive, what they will live with the rest of their lives. We have many ways to honor our veterans -- parades, monuments, simple expressions of thanks. But this Veterans Day in particular, if we wish to honor the sacrifice of yesterday's warriors, we need to think hard before we ask it of the warriors of today.

Thank you, vets, for serving.

Did ya ever find yourself daydreaming about using Dinesh D'Souza's balls (and they're BIG for a little guy) as fish bait, or practicing your backhand on his face? I have.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

The biggest, vainest (certainly the longest) load of bullshit seen in quite awhile.
Shameful: At least 1,653 Palestinians and 626 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian uprising erupted in September 2000 after peace talks froze.
Truth: Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Fein/IRA, was around town last week - basically flipping the bird to America's war on terrorism.
Some warblogger named JoeUser, via the unctuous Prof. Reynolds, comes all over himself discussing Condoleeza Rice’s appearance today on ABC’s ‘This Week’, and in the process ejaculates this: And of course, the best case scenario for the US is that he publishes a partial list of weapon programs which demonstrates that France was wrong while eventually catching Iraq in material breach later on.

Well, no, it isn't. The best case scenario for the U.S. would be a coup in Iraq, or a "revolution", or outright murder of Saddam (Ari Fleischer is not always wrong). That way the regime falls, the WMD get destroyed and none of those kids with the American flag patch on their sleeves nor Iraqi civilians get killed.

This is the problem with some, if not most, of the warbloggers: they're so blinded by bloodlust that they can't even manage to hope for a peaceful outcome, which is a possibility. I'm all for using the military to crush Islamofascists -- who we're already at war with -- or any other potential foe (read: Saddam) who threatens the security of the U.S. and its people, but it should be the last possible resort. And I find it revolting to laugh and giggle over the deaths of any human being anywhere in the world for whatever reason. True, war/force is sometimes a necessary and useful tool, and it may yet prove to be our best option with regards to Iraq, but it ain't funny and it ain't cool. People die. It would be nice if the (mostly) chickenhawk warbloggers stopped behaving as if they were Roman citizens in attendance at the Coliseum and have some respect for the awesome power of war. Is that too much to ask?

Fox News Channel ran an on-screen headline that blared "Black Death," ...

Cripes, you'd almost think Fox News was owned by a tabloid tycoon or something.
That is difficult news for the employed and even more troubling for those out of work and struggling to keep their families insured. More than 2 million Americans lost insurance last year because of layoffs, according to Families USA, a consumer advocacy group.
According to data from the Center for Voting and Democracy, the average winning candidate received more than 70 percent of the vote. Seventy-eight candidates ran without major-party opposition. In only 75 of the 435 House races did the margin of victory fall short of 20 points.
The chip, called the VeriChip, is about the size of a grain of rice, carries a number that identifies you and, the company says, may eventually provide a way to make sure that only the right people gain access to secure sites, corporate offices or even personal computers. The chip could also carry access to personal data, like medical information. Implantable microchips have already been used over the last several years to track pets.
God and the devil in Saudi: This kingdom is a thicket of unfathomable extremes. Frederick's of Hollywood-style lingerie shops abound, even though female sexuality is considered so threatening that the mere sight of a woman's ankle will cause civilization to crumble. As one cleric put it, women can become "the most dangerous weapon of destruction" for Islamic nations.
The victory margins in the races that ended up shifting the Senate — Minnesota and Missouri — were less than three percentage points.
Once Bush had called for the creation of a Homeland Security Department and talk of war with Iraq intensified, Republicans saw an opening. GOP congressional leaders decided to delay action on controversial domestic items until the elections were over, according to people familiar with the discussions. That would allow national security matters -- the Republicans' best issue -- to carry the day.

To make matters worse, major drug companies were airing positive ads for Republicans, defending them on what Democrats thought was their ace in the hole: prescription drug coverage for seniors. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the deceptively named United Seniors Association -- largely funded by the big drug companies -- spent more than $12 million on television and radio ads such as one that lauded GOP nominee Jim Talent, who won the hotly contested Missouri Senate race, for backing a market-based prescription drug program.

The Bush administration has settled on a plan for a possible invasion of Iraq that envisions seizing most of the country quickly and encircling Baghdad, but assumes that Saddam Hussein will probably fall from power before U.S. forces enter the capital, senior U.S. military officials said.

The dual nature of the U.S. war plan is designed to encourage Iraqis to revolt against Hussein. As an administration official put it in a recent interview, the plan aims to "create the conditions" under which Iraqis can do that. "I think ultimately this is more of a revolution that's going to happen, rather than something brought about by U.S. military power," he said.

The plan resembles the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama more than it does the 1991 Gulf War, people familiar with it noted. "This is looking more and more like a Panama-style takedown, a Special Operation writ large, but with significant follow-on forces . . . to pacify any bypassed pockets, prevent too many reprisal killings of the Baathists and reduce any holdouts," said Tom Donnelly, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute who is co-author of a history of the Panama operation.

"The military piece of defeating the Iraqi army is certainly within our capabilities," Gen. James L. Jones, the Marine commandant, said in a recent interview. But, he added, "there is always the aftermath, and that is one of the great unresolved questions. There are all kinds of questions here." The first one he noted is, "How long are you going to stay?"

One of the best Friedman columns of the year today: With the Dems out of business, the real opposition party on foreign policy will now be the "De Facto Democrats": Colin Powell, John McCain and the British prime minister, Tony Blair. They are the only voices that, if raised in opposition to any Bush foreign policy initiative, could restrain the president and sway the public. That is not true of any Democrat today.

What the last election showed us is what a deep trauma of vulnerability 9/11 etched on the American psyche. "While the Democrats failed to articulate a broad range of policy differences with President Bush," said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute, "their key failure was their inability to persuade Americans — in their guts — that they were prepared to deal with the world as it really is now." That is a world full of terrorists and rogue regimes dedicated to our destruction and not responsive to therapy or social work.