Saturday, November 23, 2002

Could THIS have something to do with Bush's immigration policies? Dowd repeated what he has said since Bush was elected in 2000: Unless Republicans steadily increase their share of the Hispanic vote, they will be defeated in future elections. If Republicans in 2004 win the same percentage of the white, African American and Hispanic votes as they won in 2000, he said, the GOP would lose the election "by 3 million votes."

And I thought it was the Democrats who wanted to use illegals as voters and the Republicans who wanted them for cheap labor.
Could THIS be Bush's achilles heel? The Bush administration wants to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of Mexican illegal aliens now in the United States, according to the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

"Instead, the United States is saying, 'Why wait? Sneak on in. Whether you enter illegally or not, you will be a resident or citizen in no time,'" said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and caucus chairman. "The first lesson these new residents will learn about the United States is it is OK to break the law. Is that the America we want to build?"

Tancredo and I probably don't agree on much, but we agree on this.
The magazine said that under the first phase envisioned by the plan Iraq would be ruled by the military, almost certainly an American general. It said the second phase would be some sort of international civilian administration, entailing a diminished U.S. military presence and an increasing amount of Iraqi responsibility in the government. Under the third phase, power would be transferred to a representative, multiethnic Iraqi government after some sort of constitutional convention, according to the magazine.
Even Prof. Reynolds -- in a backhanded swipe at Dems -- acknowledges the Bush family's deep ties to the Saudis.
A new kind of Barbie doll has hit the stores, one with platform shoes, low-rise jeans, heavier makeup and an exposed navel. Called My Scene Barbie, the doll is Mattel's attempt to stop girls from growing out of Barbie too fast and too soon — and from defecting to Bratz, a line of funky, sultry-eyed dolls that have become must-haves for the 8-to-12 age group since their launch more than a year ago.

Terrific, it's the whore doll, just in time for Christmas. Do they come with detachable gall bladders? Coke spoons?
The Bush administration today announced the most sweeping move in a decade to loosen industrial air pollution rules.

Today's announcement was decidedly low key. It was made with President Bush out of the country by an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in a briefing with no cameras allowed. Critics said the administration wanted to reward its friends in industry with as little fanfare as possible.

In the aftermath of the election, I received hundreds of e-mails from readers suggesting what Democrats might stand for today after standing for nothing brought them their Nov. 5 debacle. "It need not be such a complicated question," wrote one correspondent, cutting to the chase for many others. "Stand up honestly and courageously for workers, consumers, voters, investors, people who breathe air and drink water and eat food. Do what's best for them. Big business can take care of itself."
Gore sounds determined to speak his mind on issues in a way he says he did not in 2000. This time, he said in an interview, he'll be more provocative, worrying less about offering solutions that have been carefully vetted with every possible interest group or constituency. His call for a single-payer national health insurance program is an example.
As described today, the strategy seemed to be at odds with the Bush administration's desire for the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, to quickly order the most intrusive inspections possible, pushing arms experts to probe palaces and other sites off-limits to their predecessors as a way of assessing Hussein's willingness to abide by the new resolution.
Senate Democrats had blocked confirmation votes for both men. Democrats had opposed Scalia's nomination to be the number three official at Labor because of vigorous opposition from trade unions, in part because of his work to defeat workplace ergonomic regulations, which he labeled "quackery." AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney had said Scalia's "extreme views on key worker protections place him outside the mainstream and make him unsuited to hold this important position."
Street violence between Muslims and Christians flared for a third day in the Nigerian city Kaduna today and spread to the capital, Abuja. Local Red Cross officials said more than 100 people had died in the fighting, which began as a protest against the Miss World pageant scheduled to convene in the capital.
Gone, since jet airliners crashed into the Pentagon and demolished the World Trade Center and thousands of lives, is Visa Express, the State Department program that allowed Saudis to obtain visas to enter the United States without having to apply in person or be interviewed. That 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia may have had something to do with the policy change. That point seemed lost on them, however.
The ensuing debate would focus on fundamental issues like whether the wealthy should pay taxes at higher rates than lower-income people. It would challenge the practice of using the tax code to encourage certain types of behavior and to discourage others. It would test the administration's commitment to help big business at a time when corporate scandals have made it politically tricky to do so.
Some in the administration say Mr. Bush is uneasy with what he regards as self-promotion by his aides. He is known to refer to the secretary, with a teasing edge, as the world's greatest hero. This month, Mr. Bush joked in a private meeting with Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, that the United States could have paid up all its United Nations dues with the cost of 150 well-publicized telephone calls that Secretary Powell made while negotiating the recent resolution on Iraq.
American diplomats say that Mr. Putin has often expressed doubts about the trustworthiness of Pakistan as an ally, and has referred to the Pakistani military leadership in private conversations as "a junta with nukes."
The incidents offer vivid evidence that the abrupt slowdown in illegal immigration after the Sept. 11 attacks is over. So do recent statistics compiled by the United States Border Patrol, which show that apprehensions of illegal immigrants — the barometer for measuring activity along the border — are roughly back to where they were before Sept. 11.
White House officials and other senior policy makers pick and choose where to go for their analyses depending on what result they want. If the C.I.A. comes up with a report not to their liking, they can then go to the Pentagon, or the Department of Homeland Security. This follows reports this fall that the Pentagon set up its own secretive intelligence unit to try to find links between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks after the C.I.A. concluded that none appeared to exist. "They are politicizing intelligence, no question about it," said Vincent M. Cannistraro, the C.I.A.'s former counterterrorism chief, referring to the Pentagon.
But other sources describe the financial records as “explosive” and say the information has spurred an intense, behind-the-scenes battle between congressional leaders and the Bush administration over whether evidence highly embarrassing to the Saudi government should be publicly disclosed—especially at a time that the White House is aggressively seeking Saudi support for a possible war against Iraq. “This is a matter of the foreign-policy interests of the United States,” said another administration official, who cited the need to prevent a rift in the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
The committee's preliminary findings, which also accuse the Saudi government of a lack of cooperation with American investigators, have caused a bitter behind-the-scenes dispute between the panel's staff and officials at the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. At each agency, officials have disagreed with the draft findings, saying investigators vigorously pursued all available information related to Saudi Arabia.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Future historians will note that it took a grand total of eight days. When the Republicans swept to victory on November 5, they rushed to reassure the nation that, this time, they would not overreach. They would govern as they campaigned: on an agenda that commands broad popular support. They would not reward their big-money backers at the public's expense. They had learned the lesson of 1994.

Turns out they lied. Eight days into this new era of Republican dominance, George W. Bush's GOP has not merely succumbed to Gingrichism; they've surpassed it. The 1994 revolutionaries, after all, only sacrificed social justice to their K Street cronies. In a time of war, the Bushies have now sacrificed patriotism as well.

The lesson is painfully obvious. Parties show their true colors not during elections, when they need to appeal to swing voters, but after they have won elections, when they feel politically secure enough to do what they really believe.
Yet Limbaugh, especially, is guilty of extremely vicious rhetoric. Consider just a few examples from his frequent diatribes against Daschle over the last two years. On Nov. 15, he asserted that Daschle's criticism of the conduct of the war on terrorism amounted to "an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism," called him "Hanoi Tom" and suggested that he is " a disgrace to patriotism." On other occasions, Limbaugh has suggested that "In essence, Daschle has chosen to align himself with the axis of evil" and has drawn an extended analogy between Daschle and Satan.
Rosenbaum: How can the Left be so blind to who the real enemy is? How can they have so alienated themselves—not just from the electorate, but from reason itself, dumbing down dissidence to paranoid Vidalian mass-murder conspiracy charges? Because, in effect, they have founded their own religion: Bush hatred. It doesn’t have a God, but it does have a Satan: "Bush is the devil.

I don't like the guy (Shrub), either. But is this reason to oppose everything he does? Of course not.

There are people, mostly islamofascists, out there who want to kill us. Iraq does need a regime change. These are American security issues, not Republican issues. Rosenbaum has hit on something here. And the "Godfather" stuff in this article is terrific, too. Read it.
Josh Marshall: -> Liberals are out-of-touch elites, led by a few aging movie stars and public TV hounds, doing constant battle and facing perpetual defeat at the hands of salt-of-the-earth conservatives whose bedrock understanding of real Americans and real American values is liberalism's constant undoing. This is Charles Krauthammer's world. Whatever other causes or effects the election may have had, it popped the cork on a new bottle of conservative conceit and self-congratulation. It gave new life and currency to a bundle of hackneyed phrases, tropes and ideas.
The self-righteous self-loathing of the anti-war lobby is no more attractive than the self-deluding fantasies of the Bush speechwriters. A plague on both the White House, and the whiter-than-white house.
The decision to drill on Padre Island comes as the Bush administration, in order to reduce dependence on foreign oil, is encouraging drilling at more than 50 new sites on federal land in the lower 48 states, in addition to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Critics of the president's energy policy describe the drilling here as a blatant example of what they say is a White House that is turning back decades of environmental progress in energy exploration in the West.

But more than ever, American boys are trying to find designer bodies not just in a gym but also in a syringe of illegal steroids, or a bottle of the legal equivalent from a mall nutrition store, law enforcement officials, doctors and teenagers say.
Meanwhile, a study being published simultaneously today helps explain what may be the most enduring canine mystery of all: What is it about dogs that makes them so compatible with people? In the first direct comparison of its kind between dogs and chimpanzees, dogs demonstrated an uncanny ability to interpret human communicative cues -- gleaning information from subtle hand gestures and even getting the meaning of a human glance -- while the brainy chimps remained clueless to what was going on.
The academy's panel of 16 experts proposed pilot reforms that, if successful, could spark a major redesign of health care. The panel suggested that three to five states explore extending health insurance to all their residents, either through tax credits or by expanding Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. It urged that four or five states create alternatives to medical malpractice litigation that would provide fair and timely compensation to injured patients outside the courtroom. It called for a slew of projects to replace the current paper-based medical records system with computers and state-of-the-art information technology. And it recommended projects to improve primary care at community health centers, provide better care of patients suffering from chronic illnesses and focus on prevention rather than simply treating acute illnesses.
The plan, known as eDNA, called for developing a new version of the Internet that would include enclaves where it would be impossible to be anonymous while using the network. The technology would have divided the Internet into secure "public network highways," where a computer user would have needed to be identified, and "private network alleyways," which would not have required identification.
The complaint appears likely to become a test of the enforcement of the McCain-Feingold law, which went into effect Nov. 6. The political parties and a number of political operatives are openly, and in some cases secretly, forming groups to get around the law and continue the flow of large contributions known as soft money from corporations, unions and the wealthy into federal campaigns.
"The attitude in Washington of some of our elected representatives and the political parties is that there is no sheriff, there is no judge and therefore there is no need to comply with the nation's campaign finance laws," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.

Israel will ask the United States for loan guarantees aimed at jump-strating its economy which has been damaged by two years of violence and the request will total between $8 billion and $10 billion, a senior government official said Thursday.
Has the senator listened to Rush lately? Sure, he aggressively pokes fun at Democrats and lionizes Republicans, but mainly about policy. He's so mainstream that those right-wingers Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert had him on their Election Night coverage.

Howard is so full of it.
This week, after nearly 48 years, 16,348 votes and the longest filibuster in Senate history (an ardent segregationist for decades, he spoke for more than a day to oppose a civil rights bill in 1957), Mr. Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican, appeared in the Senate for the last time. He always said he wanted to live to be 100 and finish his eighth term. With a birthday on Dec. 5 and his term set to expire on Jan. 3, he is on course to do both.

Good riddance, you old bastard.
Rush is paid $30 million a year to protect the illegal Usurper Bush and tell lies about Clinton.
He's the clumsiest liar of all time, yet millions buy into his bullshit.

Good ‘ole Bartcop

One of only 52 American servicemen who lost three limbs in Vietnam, Cleland, an army captain, won a Silver Star at age 25 while Chambliss was home nursing a sore knee from football and collecting four draft deferments, two of them medical. Cleland, who wore two artificial legs when he first entered politics but gave them up for a wheelchair because of the pain, told reporters that Chambliss had "attacked the very fiber of my being."
Just ask the Bush brothers. Talk to Elizabeth Cheney, who holds a specially created State Department job, or her husband, chief counsel of the Office of Management and Budget. Interview Eugene Scalia, the top lawyer at the Labor Department, and Janet Rehnquist, inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services. And don't forget to check in with William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and the conservative commentator John Podhoretz.

The official ideology of America's elite remains one of meritocracy, just as our political leadership pretends to be populist. But that won't last. Soon enough, our society will rediscover the importance of good breeding, and the vulgarity of talented upstarts.
Thinking in Cabinet chess, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said, "If you replace O'Neill now, you can't replace the next guy a year from now." After consulting administration sources, Kristol added, "I would bet that Colin Powell will leave the Cabinet before Paul O'Neill."
A Federal Communications Commission official yesterday called for an overhaul of the government's broadcast indecency standards as hundreds of complaints flooded his office about the Victoria's Secret lingerie fashion show that aired on prime time national television Wednesday night.
Michael Copps, one of five commissioners at the FCC, urged the agency to revise the definition of indecency and look into whether it should be expanded to include obscene, violent and profane programming.

"I would characterize it as a high-tech striptease. I think CBS acted shamefully and certainly not in the public interest, as broadcasters are supposed to do. They weren't selling clothes last night, they were selling women. You had near-naked women going down the runway, and young girls see this and think this is how beautiful women are supposed to act," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America.
Last week, President Bush broke his silence on the subject and distanced himself from the evangelical rhetoric.
"Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans," Mr. Bush said. "Ours is a country based upon tolerance [and] we're not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values."

The Bush statement came two days after Mr. Robertson broadcast a discussion of Islamic anti-Semitism in which he said, "This is worse than the Nazis."
Russian officials say they have reached an understanding with the Bush administration on Russia's economic interests in Iraq, including concerns about the plummeting price of oil as a result of an Iraqi oil boom should President Saddam Hussein be overthrown. While vigorously denying that there has been a specific agreement, U.S. officials say they are aware of Russian concerns and are taking them into account in planning for a post-Hussein Iraq.
An American evangelist, Bonnie Penner Witherall, was shot dead Thursday at the missionary clinic where she worked as a nurse's assistant in this southern Lebanese city, apparently the latest victim in a string of lethal attacks around the region targeting United States citizens.

The Sidon area has been identified previously by Washington as home to at least one extremist organization, Asbat al-Ansar. In addition, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, where Mrs. Witherall, 31, worked in a prenatal clinic, had been involved in a public dispute in recent months for proselytizing Christianity to young Muslims.

One pastor who knew Mrs. Witherall said that derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad made by leading evangelists like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson had added to the ill feeling toward Christian evangelists working in Sidon.

The organization's members had been threatened in recent months after a group of religious leaders learned that they were handing out literature and talking to groups of young Muslims about Jesus. Some Muslim clerics had denounced them from the pulpit.

Mr. Rumsfeld emerges from this book as a petulant, sometimes evasive figure, obsessed, even in the days immediately after 9/11, with taking on Iraq, repeatedly raising the possibility, as Mr. Woodward puts it, "that they could take advantage of the opportunity offered by the terrorist attacks to go after Saddam immediately."
"In traditional diplomacy, you have to back up what you say with a show of force," Bee said. "The constant buildup of forces is a signal to Iraq that we're serious and that we're approaching endgame."

Often when military personnel deploy overseas, little or no public notice is given. But this time, the Marines invited the media to cover the departure.

"They watch CNN in Baghdad too," Bee said.
And, unlike Western countries, with their secular states and secular law, in the East there is no separation between religion and state, or between religion and sharia (religious) law. The only higher power to which Muslims defer is a religious one that respects no national boundaries. So Muslims from all sorts of different countries - and not the Islamic governments from whom they feel so disaffected - take military and political affairs into their own hands. As a result, those ineffectual governments may not be "harbouring" terrorists, just too weak to know how to deal with them.
Rioting by mobs of Muslims and Christians in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna has killed as many as 100 people and seriously injured 500 others, Red Cross officials said Friday as thousands of residents sought refuge in army bases and police stations.
Mobs of Christian youths retaliated against Muslims on Friday in the third day of riots triggered by a newspaper article suggesting Islam's founding prophet would have approved of the Miss World beauty pageant.

Young men shouting ``Allahu Akhbar,'' or ``God is great,'' ignited makeshift street barricades made of tires and garbage, sending plumes of black smoke rising above the city. Others were heard chanting, ``Down with beauty'' and ``Miss World is sin.''
Hitchens: Now put the case of al-Qaida. Its supporters do not live under a foreign occupation, even if you count the apparently useless and now embarrassing American bases in Saudi Arabia. It is partly a corrupt multinational corporation, partly a crime family, partly a surrogate for the Saudi oligarchy and the Pakistani secret police, partly a sectarian religious cult, and partly a fascist organization. Its most recent taped proclamation, whether uttered by its leader or not, denounces Australia and celebrates the murder of Australians—for the crime of assisting East Timorese independence from "Muslim" Indonesia! But this doesn't begin to make the case against Bin Ladenism. What does it demand from non-Muslim societies? It demands that they acknowledge their loathsome blasphemy and realize their own fitness for destruction. What does it demand for Muslim societies? It demands that they adopt 17th-century norms of clerical absolutism. How does it demand this? By a program of indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population of both. (Yes, both: The Afghan population was reduced by as many Hazara Shiites as the Taliban could manage to kill.) This is to demand the impossible, and to demand it by means of the most ruthless and disgusting tactics.

What this means in practice is the corollary impossibility of any compromise with it. It's quite feasible to imagine Hezbollah or Hamas leaders at a conference table, and one has seen many previously "intransigent" forces of undemocratic violence, including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Salvadoran death-squads and the Irgun, make precisely that transition. Even Saddam Hussein, who is certainly irrational but was not always completely so, could perhaps, and certainly until recently, have decided to save his life and his regime. But some definitions cannot be stretched beyond a certain point, and the death wish of the theocratic totalitarians, for themselves and others, is too impressive to overlook. One has to say sternly: If you wish martyrdom, we are here to help—within reason.
Good Lord I agree with Newt Gingrich: For politically correct reasons, the United States is refusing to analyze its opponents, Gingrich charged, including the significance of the fact that 15 out of 19 people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks came from Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis continue to finance radical Islamic Wahabi and Deobandi sects, "and we refuse to confront what that means." Today America in many ways is in the position it found itself in the late 1940s, when the Soviet Union had just begun a worldwide movement against U.S. interests.

"We should quit talking about a war on terrorism," Gingrich said. "We should recognize we are in a head-on confrontation with the 2, 3, or 4 percent of Islam that is reactionary ... [and] consciously try to ally ourselves with all the rest of Islam."

In response, the United States, almost reflexively, is willy-nilly turning itself into Fortress America—with the FBI one day issuing a warning about upcoming massive attacks and the White House pooh-poohing it the next. Trying for this effect or not, the government's policies keep the public in a constant state of jitters, and become a self-propelled rationale for strengthening the fortress. Each week the Bush administration goes further and further down this path, essentially taking Al Qaeda's bait.


If Al Qaeda is out to sabotage the U.S. economy, it's meeting with some success. Already one key cog in the transport system, the airline industry, is crippled and cannot recover without large infusions of government cash. Talk of war is one factor keeping the stock markets depressed, lowering the general standard of living and sucking the value from 401(k) retirement accounts. Meanwhile unemployment continues to rise and consumer confidence to fall—just what bin Laden wants.
Freepers go ga-ga over Rush.
WAR PROBLEM # 132: THE CARLYLE GROUP and The Military/Industrial Complex

Carlyle Group, the Washington-based private equity firm with a reputation for hiring political heavyweights, snagged an industrial celebrity yesterday when it announced that former IBM chief executive Louis V. Gerstner Jr. will become its chairman.

It stayed apart from the New York financial scene and used the access and knowledge of its political heavyweights to sniff out good business deals -- usually in regulated industries such as defense and telecommunications.

Carlucci, 72, who joined Carlyle in 1989 and became chairman in 1993, led the firm through a lucrative run buying defense companies and expects to remain in an active role, sources said.


"Lou Gerstner is a unique figure in American business. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Carlyle to have a businessman of Lou's stature and accomplishments join our organization," said Carlucci.

"I'm not sure what the motive is, but this does seem to be a move away from Carlyle's image of cashing in on the old Washington Rolodex," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research group.

Gerstner is clean and provides better window-dressing and cover. Also, he's not an ex-Secretary of Defense with Pentagon connections. Having him out front -- "20%" of the time -- is good for the old image, with a war coming up.

What is the Carlyle Group? -> But the struggles in its VC business may be offset, at least temporarily, by the expected windfall from the war on terrorism. The federal government has already approved a $40 billion supplemental aid package to the current budget, $19 billion of which is headed straight to the Pentagon. Some of the additional government spending is likely to find its way into Carlyle's coffers.

The Bush administration isn't afraid to mix business and politics, and no other firm embodies that penchant better than the Carlyle Group. Walking that fine line is what Carlyle does best. We may not see Osama bin Laden's brothers at Carlyle's investor conferences any more, but business will go on as usual for the biggest old boys network around. As Mr. Snow puts it, "Carlyle will always have to defend itself and will never be able to convince certain people that they aren't capable of forging murky backroom deals. George Bush's father does profit when the Carlyle Group profits, but to make the leap that the president would base decisions on that is to say that the president is corrupt."

Indeed it would.

More: from Google

Update: Very interesting that the Houston Chronicle, GHW Bush's hometown paper, finds the Gerstner story worthy of only 18 words at the bottom of this business briefs column.

Cynthia McKinney, anyone?

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Neologist and Pet Shop Boys aficionado Andrew Sullivan really wants us to use his latest term "Eagles" because of that tired old hawk/dove paradigm:

Atrios channels Ben Franklin pretty well, too. And it really does sound like Sully!
She's one of nearly 1 million unemployed workers across the country who will start losing jobless benefits three days after Christmas because Congress failed to grant an extension before leaving for the year.
This is the Tom DeLay who called the EPA a ''Gestapo,'' said the Columbine shooting was caused by birth control and day care, and that global warming is a myth. He talks about the ''Nobel Appeasement Prize,'' and doesn't want kids to go to Texas A&M because there's sex on campus.

Shall I go on? He once described Democratic voters as a combo of ''Greenpeace, Queer Nation, and the National Education Association'' while claiming the Republican Big Tent included ''all kinds of people, from the Christian Coalition to the Eagle Forum, from Arco to Exxon.''

But somehow or other Pelosi, who believes in gay rights, was put on a par of extremism with a DeLay, who doesn't believe in evolution. Pass the cranberry sauce, please.
The collision of two worlds – the beauty queens bathed in glamour and glitter and poor African Muslims observing the Ramadan fast in all its modesty – was enough to ensure that the explosion of violence was waiting to happen.
Until Palestinian society gives birth to a significant ideological and political movement that rejects the use of terror, it is difficult to see how Mitzna's doctrine could be accepted by the majority of Israeli voters. It is frustrating and outrageous to realize that the Palestinian public and its leaders do not understand that once again they are going to miss an opportunity for a positive change in relations between the two peoples.
There were children's voices coming from the wreckage of the bus yesterday. As witnesses to the latest suicide bombing in Israel, in which 11 people died, rushed to the charred remains on Mexico Street, they heard the young crying for their mothers.
Despite the swelling budget, there is still a big gap between our resources and the administration's ambitions. The president's new strategy proclaims that we're not only going to meet any military challenge that may arise, but we may attack any country we see as a developing threat. If we're serious about that, even an unlimited budget won't suffice.
Osama bin Laden is back, and no one gives a damn? What is this??!! The White House spokesman announced, "This is about more than one man." The president now says it "really doesn't matter much" if bin Laden is dead or alive. This is the same president who promised to bring him back "dead or alive," isn't it?

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post dismissed bin Laden as "a blast from the past." Well, that was a helluva blast, Howard, and I for one haven't forgotten it. I want that son of a gun dead or alive, and I want him getting him to be this country's top priority in terms of enemies.

The ex-crustacean Phd. sends this "sexy coffin calendar".

And this from the Randster:

By James Sherman

(We take you now to the Oval Office.)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That's what I want to know.

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The Chinaman!

Condi: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya' asking me for?

Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That's the man's name.

George: That's who's name?

Condi: Yes.

George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the
Middle East.

Condi: That's correct.

George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir is in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China.
Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don't want Kofi.

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk.
And then get me the U.N.

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China.

George: Will you stay out of China?!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

(Condi picks up the phone.)

Condi: Rice, here.

George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should
send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get Chinese
food in the Middle East?

The best home page one can have.
Beatty saw it coming: "Getting the money to win makes decent politicians do indecent things. But billion-dollar subsidies and tax breaks, the pork barrel and corporate welfare are only the smaller tumors. There are bigger ones. Our taxpayers are bailing out thieves in Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and other countries and at the same time bailing out major American financial houses who refuse to face the consequences of their bad investments overseas. What we are in danger of experiencing is a slow-motion coup d'etat of big money's interests over the public interest... ."

You can diss the messenger, but certainly not the message. If Gore or Bradley had the courage to break away from the tepid centrism of the current Democratic Party, maybe they might get people excited. Until then, we'll have to settle for a "movie star" to tell us the things no one else has the guts to say.
I firmly believe that future historians will treat the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11 as "bookends" of a distinct era in American life and politics. During that time we got complacent and ignored the rest of the world. Not to let Clinton off the hook for his complete indifference to foreign policy, but I think his attitude really reflected the mindset of the majority of the time. He was at least as much of a symptom and a reflection as he was a cause of how soft, lazy and shortsighted most Americans were in this time period. The degree to which he is the poster boy for that 90's sense of false security is probably going to be his real legacy to future generations. – A Freeper calling him/herself “Media Insurgent”

A lot of truth in this, too. Am I turning right? Aaaaaghhhh ...
It was an awesome domination of national political life, built on a philosophy that won the hearts of ordinary working Americans. That philosophy centered on protecting the rights of the laboring class and restraining big business excesses; establishing a social safety net to prevent destitution among those who could not support themselves; and pursuing a strong, assertive foreign policy to protect American interests and the security of the free world.

Democrats must fearlessly consider the implication of this pattern. Whatever other problems they face, it simply seems that too many ordinary Americans lack confidence that modern liberals will boldly defend the nation and its interests. It's a long-term problem, born with the anti-Vietnam War movement's declaration that America was the villain in Southeast Asia and continuing today in suggestions among progressives that America's enemies have legitimate reasons to hate us. It's not a problem old-style liberals like Truman or Kennedy had.

There is a lot of truth in this. I would describe myself as a "classical liberal". I fit the description in the first paragraph of this column. It's frustrating ...
Herbert tells it like it is: There are those who have long dreamed of the day when governments would be so drained of revenues they would have no choice but to call a halt to many of their functions. The realization of that dream is getting closer, in part because its tragic implications remain obscure to vast segments of the public served by those governments.
At the heart of the probes, which have uncovered internal e-mails deeply embarrassing to Wall Street's toniest firms, is the allegation by regulators that analysts regularly placed inflated ratings on stocks to generate or maintain lucrative investment banking business from those companies. Many of those stocks later crashed, costing investors hundreds of billions of dollars.
That's 'Frahnk-un-steen' :To ensure safety, Smith and Venter said the cell will be deliberately hobbled to render it incapable of infecting people; it also will be strictly confined, and designed to die if it does manage to escape into the environment.

More worrisome than the risk of escape, they acknowledged, is that the project could lay the scientific groundwork for a new generation of biological weapons, a risk that may force them to be selective about publishing technical details. But they said the project could also help advance the nation's ability to detect and counter existing biological weapons.
The program will fund research and development of technologies that will allow the federal government to track the e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone, bank records and every type of available public and private data in what the Pentagon describes as one "centralized grand database."
Spanglish — a hybrid of Spanish and English languages — is increasingly making its way into mainstream America, a trend critics say could hamper the advancement of Hispanics who may not learn proper English.

"A person who doesn't speak English well in the United States doesn't have a future," he said.

Having spent more than $30 million to help elect their allies to Congress, the major drug companies are devising ways to capitalize on their electoral success by securing favorable new legislation and countering the pressure that lawmakers in both parties feel to lower the cost of prescription drugs, industry officials say.

They themselves say so! Look at this, ordinary working Americans!

The money was spent overwhelmingly on behalf of Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress.

The meeting was described by an industry lobbyist as a "strategic planning retreat" and "deep philosophical conversations about our message for 2003." A pervasive theme was how to block proposals that could erode profits by limiting drug prices or making it easier for people to buy low-cost generic versions of brand-name medicines.
But outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said he thinks Republicans blocked legislation on purpose in order to use it for political gain — particularly on homeland security.

Of course they did!

"I don't think they wanted an agreement before the election, so they could make the case that it was the Democrats who were responsible, because we were in the majority, for not having completed homeland security," he said. "I think that was a calculated political decision. They made it, and obviously, it probably assisted in their efforts to regain the Senate."
The frustrations suggest the bureau is still suffering from many of the problems that plagued it before last year's attacks, including a failure to share information and prioritize investigations, officials said. Senior officials blame an institutional resistance, with some of the bureau's 56 field offices finding it difficult to shift from a decades-long focus on solving traditional federal crimes like bank robberies, drug trafficking and kidnappings.
The reason is that only 2 of the 13 appropriations bills to provide money for the government's departments and agencies have been enacted, mainly because the president does not want to spend as much as Congress does. The government is now operating under what is called a continuing resolution, which limits departments and agencies to spending at last year's levels.

But as much as Mr. Bush wanted the department, he has been less concerned than Congress about putting money into its activities.

The General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm, warned in a recent report that putting together 177,000 employees from the disparate departments will cause disruption for years, and possibly degrade security, at least in the short term.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and several environmental groups criticized the proposal as inadequate in the face of a possible war with Iraq that could disrupt Middle East oil supplies. "The Bush administration claims to be striving for energy independence -- yet this proposed increase in fuel economy for SUVs doesn't even come close to what could be achieved using technologies that are already available," Markey said.
The idea is to give Poindexter personal data from governmental and commercial databases from around the world. This information will not be misused, Poindexter swore to my colleague, Robert O'Harrow Jr. of The Post -- although not under oath this time.

Why shouldn't we believe the honorable Admiral Poindexter? And Ollie North has a bridge in Brooklyn he'd like to interest you in ...
Gore has faced open skepticism about a possible 2004 candidacy from many Democratic Party insiders, who believe he squandered a winning hand in 2000 and retreated from the fray too long in the aftermath. A recent Times poll that found almost half the members of the Democratic National Committee surveyed would prefer that Gore not run again.
Most Americans now know that Russia's nuclear stockpiles are under-secured, with hundreds of tons of weapon-grade uranium and plutonium scattered across that country. A few pounds of either material could arm a nuclear device capable of leveling almost any U.S. city. Also widely known is that terrorist organizations have tried to acquire stolen or diverted nuclear materials and warheads.
Pretty sure sign of the coming war: Reporters and photographers who would cover a U.S. war with Iraq are participating in a weeklong "media boot camp to raise the comfort level of journalists" seeking to be placed with troops, said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.

"It's amazing how many bureau chiefs have called us up and said this is the kind of thing we want our reporters to do," she said, adding that the Pentagon is committed to placing reporters with troops in the field if war with Iraq occurs.
We might all enjoy our turkey more -- particularly the younger members of the clan, who could be summoned to the front -- if Woodward told us that Powell told the president not to go to war at all. Powell might have cited the folly of picking a fight with a radioactive lunatic before we finish the crusade against terrorism, might have said that the Arab-Israeli conflict needs to be settled before we invade Iraq. He might have told the president that partiality for Ariel Sharon is not a policy. He might have pointed out also what the bellicose Donald Rumsfeld and Cheney seem to overlook: that Hussein, however loathsome and however close to building nukes, has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, author of our greatest misery, whose existence Bush wants to forget.

Powell apparently did not go into any of that. He didn't tell the president not to go to war; he told him how to go to war in a politically correct way. The president must, despite his disdain for international institutions, go to the United Nations, which his right-wing base loves to hate. It would be wonderful if Woodward could tell us that Powell tried to stop a war; but the secretary only tried to put it off for a couple of weeks and provide a fig leaf for the first American first-strike operation.

Point taken, Mary.
Scowcroft advises Bush the younger to go for peace in Israel: While the inspection process is underway, the administration could launch another diplomatic initiative that could rival the triumph it just scored, and at the same time reinforce the success it has just achieved. This initiative would take the form of devoting the same kind of skill, audacity and laser-like attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Such a move could assuage some of the ill will stimulated in the Middle East and Europe by the hard-hitting Iraq initiative. It would show U.S. determination to deal with the one issue that is the primary lens through which the Arab world views the United States. It would also reduce the appeal of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and the negative reaction that would ensue should force against Iraq prove necessary. In sum, it would not only address a critical security problem but also strengthen and sustain the international coalition that has been forged on the Iraq issue. In so doing it would help doom a "buy time" strategy by Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Bush's tough talk coincided with administration efforts to gauge the level of support America can expect from allies if and when it goes to war against Iraq. The consultation process is "widespread" and involves "many nations," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.

The president addressed the Prague students just hours after telling reporters "the game's over" for Saddam, who has long defied resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. "We're through with that," Mr. Bush said during a joint press conference with Czech President Vaclav Havel. "And now he's going to disarm, one way or the other. In the name of peace, he will be disarmed."i>
If Kerry is seen as leading the pack – or running neck and neck with candidate Gore – the potential downside is that he could seem like old news by the time of the Iowa caucuses. The media have a way of chewing up and spitting out front-runners. But for now, that's a problem John Kerry would likely be happy to have.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Tara’s (age 8) dream:

She and my mom were in a car, and my mom was driving and backing the car up, so far that she backed into Afghanistan. Bin Laden grabbed Tara, but Ethan (10) saved her with a knife. No word on the fate of my mother.
And this over at Eschaton on Sally Quinn's comments that "Republicans make the trains run on time". Shades of il Duce.

And David Ehrenstein has these choice words on Mrs. Bradlee: Ah Sally Quinn!The plucky lass who Monica-ed her way into Ben Bradlee's heart -- through his LAP. I'm sure we all recall her column about how the Clinton's came to Washington and "trashed the place." In other words theymade it less enjoyable for trash like her. Few things are more repellent than a reformed whore

He said that, not me.
Daschle is slowly growing a spine: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle says threats have increased against him and his family and blames talk show host "Rush Limbaugh and all of the Rush Limbaugh wannabes" for an increasingly negative tone in politics.

Ras Nesta has this to say over at Eschaton>: Whatever you do, don't venture into the foaming-at-the-mouth messages posted with that story. To them, criticizing the vulgar pigboy, Lameballs, is a greater offense than mailing anthrax. t's enough to make you lose your lunch...or faith in humanity. ow these pathologically-stupid, Limbaugh-loving members of Bush's cult of personality can hold down a job, I don't know.

What is this man talking about? Freepers react!
Here. Here. And here.

Quite often, their own words just hang 'em.

Lucianne's Lunatics weigh in here.

And this anonymous poster at Eschaton is right: To be generous to Daschle I assume he uses the term 'entertainment' as a subtle put down for Limbaugh. To be less than generous it's always appeared to me that Democrats in general DO NOT understand how effective the AM spewtaters have become. I'd say they're worth several percent of the vote every election. They energize the base with their ranting and over time they do convert the simple minded to their way of thinking. They're a major factor (along with racism and the pseudo religious right wing broadcasters) in motivating white trash morons to vote against their own interests.
Slaughter can't understand why anybody, knowing how serious teenage drinking can be, would suggest that he could have done anything less than suspend his players, no matter what the stakes were on the field. "It's strange," he says, "that we get this much publicity for doing what we consider the right thing."

Terrific story. Inspirational and sad, too.
Sullivan argues that Bush lies because he has to in order to advance the righteous conservative agenda. An agenda so righteous and unpopular that one must lie to advance it. And that's a good thing. His regular readers can only conclude that he too would be willing to lie to advance his agenda, as it is a righteous and unpopular one. This should disqualify anyone from publishing him - his transformation from "journalist" to propagandist is complete. I suppose we can appreciate his "honesty."
If evidence were required that the word has in some sense come of age, the clothing company French Connection has recently opened a giant FCUK store almost next to Harrods. A pseudo-anarchic gesture that would once have been the subject of anger and sensation, today this is not even noteworthy enough to be a bore. It is a true non-event.
A massive database that the government will use to monitor every purchase made by every American citizen is a necessary tool in the war on terror, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Or, as Atrios, tell us, “Freepers get their eyes opened.”

From Buzzflash: Official Website of Dr. "Orwell" Felon Poindexter. Could the "Information Awareness Office" be Used to Blackmail Democratic Leaders? Prosecute Citizen Advocates? You Bet. Will the Democrats Continue to Enable This Stalin-Style Invasion of Privacy?
How and why AstraZeneca has been able to keep the purple profits flowing sheds more light on the nation's prescription drug crisis than reams of policy papers and congressional testimony. The same tactics are being used by just about all the big pharmaceutical companies, which are under intense shareholder pressure to maintain their best-in-business profits as the patents on about 20 blockbuster drugs expire over the next couple of years.
''Every once in a while, somebody will make a crack about `the tank,' and my standard reply is, `I never threw up over the Japanese prime minister,''' Dukakis said, referring to the time Bush got sick in Tokyo in 1992. It was the Bush campaign that had ridiculed Dukakis for riding in a tank in Michigan to deflect charges that Dukakis was soft on defense.
The society survey found that only about one in seven -- 13 percent -- of Americans between the age of 18 and 24, the prime age for military warriors, could find Iraq. The score was the same for Iran, an Iraqi neighbor.

Wait. It gets worse.

11 percent cannot find the United States.

Joe Conason's Journal
Why conservatives get a free pass for "treason" -- but liberals don't.
Just before last night's vote, the frail, 99-year-old Thurmond rose at his desk on the Senate floor to praise Shedd as "a man of great character" who would "uphold the rights of all people under the Constitution." Thurmond's brief statement prompted an unusual round of applause from Senate colleagues.

That's so comforting coming from a man who once ran for president as a racist, segregationist Dixiecrat.
Former vice president Al Gore today accused President Bush of losing focus on the war against terrorism, saying Bush's two-month campaign to "beat the war drums" against Iraq may have helped Republicans win control of Congress this month but left the country less secure against possible future attacks.

Gore had stern words for Bush's economic policies, calling the administration's tax cuts, energy policy and approach to regulation of corporate America "payback and greed" that reward wealthy Americans and big corporations at the expense of middle-income families and individual investors.
Saudi Arabia, normally reluctant to admit to an al-Qaida presence on its soil, conceded yesterday that it had detained more than 100 people and questioned 700. The statement by Prince Nayef, the interior minister, was the first official acknowledgment of so many detainees on terrorism charges in the kingdom since the September 11 attacks on the US last year.
"Saddam Hussein has been given a very short time to declare completely and truthfully his arsenal of terror," Mr. Bush told a student forum at the Prague Hilton this afternoon.
"Should he again deny that this arsenal exists, he will have entered his final stage with a lie. And deception this time will not be tolerated. Delay and defiance will invite the severest of consequences."

In calling on Europe to mobilize militarily against new threats, Mr. Bush sought today to leverage the enthusiasm of the newly liberated countries of Eastern Europe against NATO's stalwarts, most pointedly Germany. A rejuvenated spirit to fight for freedom is needed in the councils of a new Europe, he said. It must be "active in the defense of freedom, not inward looking or isolated by indifference," he said.

"Cathouse," is scheduled to be shown on Dec. 8, right after the season finale of "The Sopranos" and in time for the holiday season.

What a scary society we live in. Hey, just "in time for" the holidays! Ho Ho HO
Coburn was a rare study in contrasts: a genuine screen presence equally adept at portraying jaunty heroes and truly chilling, reptilian villains; an artist of comedy whose obvious delight in his own performance was often the best part of the joke.

There are precious few actors whose work lives in the memory like that, decades after it was seen. There was an instantly seductive quality about Coburn's art that made his performances almost always fascinating even when the movies surrounding them were not.
Tiger, the Times suggests, needs to have a social conscience but other golfers -- read, white golfers -- do not. The men who run broadcast networks do not. I didn't realize that of 248 golfers who have made money on the PGA Tour this year, only one 26-year-old black golfer is supposed to have a social conscience, and everybody else on tour gets a pass. The Times ought to write another editorial explaining why that's so.
An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from major depression -- with the illness occurring twice as often among women as men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A diagnosis of major depression can be made if a person suffers from five or more specific symptoms daily for two weeks or longer. These indicators range from persistent sad mood and loss of energy to feelings of worthlessness and a preoccupation with death or suicide.
The authors of the disclaimer appear to have gotten their legal education from "Law & Order" or "NYPD Blue," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. Investigators "do have the right to operate in an undercover capacity, and many do online," he noted. "That disclaimer is definitely not a get-out-of-jail card."
The National Academy of Sciences said today that the United States health care system was in crisis and that the Bush administration should immediately test possible solutions, including universal insurance coverage and no-fault payment for medical malpractice, in a handful of states. Administration officials said the report would probably become a blueprint for pilot projects to be proposed by President Bush and Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, who requested the study.

The report cataloged the problems this way: "The cost of private health insurance is increasing at an annual rate in excess of 12 percent. Individuals are paying more out of pocket and receiving fewer benefits. One in seven Americans is uninsured, and the number of uninsured is on the rise."
The gay ban, reflecting one of this country's last officially sanctioned forms of bigotry, stigmatizes patriotic Americans by excluding them from military life, often after intrusive witch hunts. By marginalizing those who wish to put useful talents at the service of their country, it also weakens America in its life-or-death struggle, which, as President Bush has repeatedly said, is profoundly different from previous wars. The military can't afford these days to waste human resources or turn away the energy of qualified men and women who wish to help. That is as true of linguists as it is of combat specialists.
The right thing to do: "Since September 11, I think everyone understands that we have a stake in the future of Afghanistan that is not simply nation-building for the sake of the Afghan people, it's security-building to prevent terrorists from returning," the senior official said. "That's not a mission we ever thought about before for the United States.
The resurgent GOP advantage among white men is so powerful that it could threaten one of the most important Democratic assets: the labor movement's turnout machine. Greenberg found that Democrats led Republicans this year among all union households by just 14 points -- half the margin of 1998--and only by six points among white union households. That's sufficiently reminiscent of Reagan's blue-collar appeal that it may soon be time to start talking about Bush Democrats.
And I've always wondered: what are these people so angry about? You say you prefer Republican positions on the issues of the day? Fine. But what is there to be so mad about? Liberals have bequeathed us unemployment insurance, Social Security, and protection against arbitrary discrimination. They have cleaned up rivers that used to catch on fire, contained communism, insisted that corporations manufacture products that don't kill people, and made it easier to get the divorces that so many family values conservatives depend on.
One of the smaller groups in the religious partnership, the Evangelical Environmental Network, is behind the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign. But much of its effort will be done pulpit-to-pulpit by disseminating bumper stickers, pamphlets and magazines on the topic of Christianity and fuel economy. An ad in Christianity Today magazine will show a plaintive Jesus next to a clogged superhighway. TV spots will be shown in four states — Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina — but distribution will be limited with an initial shoestring budget of $65,000.

Such views are not typical of religious conservative leaders. An article on the home page of the Christian Coalition questioned the wisdom of Mr. Ball's advertising campaign and echoed Detroit's claims that toughening long-stagnant fuel economy rules would lead to safety risks with only minimal environmental gains.
Even the judges in the majority acknowledged that they were uncomfortable with the ruling. They wrote that they "can do no more than hope Congress will make good on the promises made in good faith" to soldiers entering the service between 1941 and 1956. "We cannot readily imagine more sympathetic plaintiffs than the retired officers of the World War II and Korean War era involved in this case," Circuit Judge Paul R. Michel wrote for the majority.
Anti-conservation has become a gangland vendetta by George W. Bush and those he entrusts to govern. I cannot see another way to explain the endless string of one-sided decisions and the dripping condescension with which they are delivered. Not much of anything -- not reason, not science, not public opinion, not the future, not process and certainly not fellowship -- stands in the way.

The administration has dismissed science on public-lands forestry, on wildlife and petroleum development and on water flows in salmon rivers. It has disregarded public outcries in defense of roadless areas and park protections and mining policy and, in California (though not Florida, for obvious brotherly reasons), on offshore oil drilling. It has ignored its own resource managers on snowmobiles in national parks and illegal hunting practices in the Rockies. It has turned its back on global warming, shortchanged research and trivialized energy conservation. It has slammed and locked the door on those who represent an honorable and bipartisan movement in American society. Virtually every important conservation law that has guided 30 years of economic and environmental progress is now under attack.

It isn't obvious what part of Woodward's characterization Ailes finds "incorrect." He admits he sent the note ("to a White House staff member," presumably Rove) and gets huffy about any insinuation that it was improper to do so. Chatterbox thinks Ailes is saying that in his note he expressed outrage but didn't tell Bush what to do. So how did the note read? "Dear Karl: The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were a goddamned outrage. All best, Roger." That seems unlikely. No, Chatterbox's money is on Woodward. The only real question is whether Ailes' advice was as pompous and banal as Woodward makes it sound or whether it contained unrevealed subtleties.
The 9/11 attacks unleashed a wave of hatred against any and all Muslims that had the effect of aligning the U.S. with Israel against the entire Arab world. The U.S. is now moving to do in the Middle East at large what the Israelis have done in miniature in the West Bank and Gaza. The conquest and occupation of Iraq will soon be followed by other wars of "liberation." The overthrow of the regional governments, one by one, will either be engineered by a "revolution" in the Panamanian tradition (i.e. one bought and paid for by the U.S.) or, in the event of a shortage of suitable Quislings, achieved by outright conquest and subsequent occupation. These wars will last until a vast MacArthur Regency is established by American force of arms, from Cairo to Kabul, and southward to Yemen, and the oil-rich fields of the Saudi peninsula.
Based on bombing and bribery, without committing ground troops, the White House's cheap Afghan strategy permitted Osama bin Laden to escape -- even though Woodward says the CIA understood its mission to include the killing of the al-Qaida leader and as many of his followers as possible. "Get bin Laden, find him. I want his head in a box ... I want to take it down and show the president," the agency's counterterror chief told the veteran operative who led the Afghan effort. Later, of course, the White House realized that bin Laden is "just one man" who "doesn't really matter." That was after he got away.
To Cheney, who helped Bush's approval rating soar off the charts during Desert Storm, the press coverage had been flawless. "The best-covered war ever, " Cheney said. "The American people saw up close with their own eyes through the magic of television what the U.S. military was capable of doing."
It's hard to say which is worse, that energy provider Williams is shown in newly released documents deliberately driving California electricity prices higher, or that the company's response to this revelation is to lay partial blame on the very people it was taking to the cleaners.

"The arrogance and self-righteousness of these companies is just breathtaking," said Carl Wood, a member of the state Public Utilities Commission. "It's like they're saying: 'I robbed the bank and got the money. Now let's put this behind us and move forward.' "
A Houston energy executive told state senators here Monday how Enron and other traders manipulated gas prices by reporting false information to market indexes.

In response to a question by Dunn, Markey said many of the companies manipulating the natural gas indexes also were benefiting from increased electricity prices.
"Many of the players were one and the same," she said.

Col. Hackworth and George Putnam say there is a better way: Eliminate all of this under-the-table commerce among nations we consider to be our potential present or long-term enemies. Firmly blockade air, land and sea commerce with Iraq, and the need for war will suddenly come to an end.
The civilians -- few of whom have personally experienced fighting -- had an ambitious plan for winning the Iraq war on the cheap. Their idea was that as few as 40,000 men would make a quick "vertical insertion" into Baghdad from the air. The civvies were open in their disdain for uniformed careerists, such as Gen. Tommy Franks, who insisted instead on deploying 250,000 personnel "in theater." But now, when an urban assault comes, it will surely include tanks, which were the missing ingredient in the Mogadishu disaster. And it takes time to ship armor all the way from Ft. Hood, Texas.
What's interesting about this network of contractors isn't just the way that big contributions are linked to big contracts; it's the end of the traditional practice in which businesses hedge their bets by giving to both parties. The big winners in Mr. Bush's Florida are companies that give little or nothing to Democrats. Strange, isn't it? It's as if firms seeking business with the state of Florida are subject to a loyalty test.
But federal officials speaking on condition of anonymity say the stalemate will have serious consequences. The director of the National Institutes of Health told Congress in October that if his agency did not receive requested funding increases soon, he would have to scale back bioterrorism research grants scheduled to be awarded in December and January. Biodefense "is one program that was slated to markedly increase in 2003, so a continuing resolution there for any length of time will greatly impair that program," Director Elias A. Zerhouni warned.
Bush is currently campaigning to make permanent last year's $1.35 trillion in tax cuts, most of which are scheduled to expire around 2010. If they continue after that date, the Treasury will lose more than $200 billion in annual tax receipts, according to Congressional analysts, precisely at the time when Social Security and Medicare costs are expected to surge....Current forecasts by both the Congressional Budget Office and the Bush administration assume that discretionary spending - outlays separate from mandated entitlement programs and interest payments - will increase at the expected rate of inflation, 2 percent a year. But in the last four years, discretionary spending has grown about 8 percent a year. The Concord Coalition calculates that if that continues, and if the government extends all the tax cuts now scheduled to expire, the government will accumulate a 10-year deficit of $1.8 trillion by 2012. All those costs would kick in before the anticipated rise in retirement and health care costs associated with the aging of the population. "We are committing ourselves to a much more expensive government than what we are willing to pay for," Ms. Wait said. "We need a serious conversation with ourselves about what we are ready to pay for." When asked by lawmakers what investors believed the government's long-term fiscal framework might be, Mr. Greenspan responded, 'That there isn't one.'
It's no secret that conservatives in Congress have sought to remove any government program that supports the arts and the media unless the government is able to control its political content. It's also no secret that the Bush Administration knows the propaganda value of the media and has sought to control it since its first day in office. The new Woodward book describes the personal relationship between the Fox boss and Bush, one of Bush's major campaign contributors owns the largest chain of radio stations in the country, and with Colin Powell's kid in charge of the FCC, our entire media network is fast becoming owned by fewer and fewer corporations more interested in making a buck than protecting the diversity of free speech. Now comes word from some Bush Watch readers that NPR is turning conservative. Are they right?
Admittedly, insisting that the public's business be done in public isn't a popular cause these days. Recent surveys show that many Americans are willing to trade significant chunks of their First Amendment rights for the promise of greater security in the war on terrorism. Such surveys must gladden the hearts of Bush administration officials who -- presumably unintentionally -- undermine measures such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Civil libertarians warned Tuesday that the homeland security bill passed by Congress, taken in context with already broadened surveillance powers and new database technology, represented an unprecedented threat to personal privacy.
What Republicans put in the "Homeland Security" bill:

The pharmaceutical industry, which donated $35 million to the last two political campaigns, would gain protection from lawsuits over adverse side effects of vaccines. Conveniently, the restrictions would be retroactive, terminating injury cases that are already in the courts.

Makers of faulty bomb detectors, gas masks or other anti-terrorism devices would be granted immunity from liability, even in cases of intentional wrongdoing.

Companies could cover up violations of the law by hiding behind new restrictions on access to government information.

A provision inserted by incoming House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, would hand Texas A & M University the first department grant: a homeland-security research center.
Lunatic talk show host Mike Gallagher just called the 9 senators who voted against the ludicrous "Homeland Security" bill "enemies of the United States of America".

These HEROES are: Senators Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan and Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland. Senator James M. Jeffords, Independent of Vermont, also voted against it, and Senator Frank H. Murkowski of Alaska was not present.

Inouye is a hero of World War II.

Personally, I would like to stick a pin in Mike Gallagher and bust him.

Call Gallagher or send email telling him to take a flying leap. Rush is left of this guy.

More Woodward/Bush in the Washington Post. I could be nasty and quote something out of context in order to give a false impression; say something like this:

"Of course not," he said. "I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

But that would be unfair.
The result will be subtler than the shrill statements of some civil libertarians yesterday would suggest. The decision does not actually make it any easier for the government to conduct wiretaps or searches. But it grants the government one more sphere in which it gets to unilaterally choose the rules under which it will pursue the war on terrorism. When it identifies a suspect, it can now decide whether to use a regular criminal tap or go to the FISA court. Add this to the powers the government had already taken on: to choose between a regular trial and a military tribunal; to lock up a suspect, if a non-citizen, in secret; or to hold a suspect -- citizen or non-citizen -- indefinitely and without judicial review after designating him an "enemy combatant." The court's opinion should be understood as one more part of a kind of alternative legal system that is emerging to handle terrorism cases -- a system that lets Americans be investigated and locked up without any of the normal protections of the justice system.
But "information" is so broadly defined that virtually anything a company decided to tell the government could be considered secret. A company that feared environmental regulators could "voluntarily" deliver incriminating documents to the government, thereby making them unavailable to anyone else. To make matters worse, the bill also prescribes criminal penalties for whistle-blowers who publicize such information. The combination of the loose definition of "information" with the threat of a jail sentence might be enough, for example, to prevent someone who discovers that a chemical plant in an earthquake zone is not earthquake-proof from revealing that to anyone else. As we have argued in the past, the Freedom of Information Act already shields confidential business information as well as national security information. Those exemptions to the principle of disclosure need no strengthening.
The Republicans in the House of Representatives have just given a demonstration of how their party can squander the opportunity created by the midterm election to become the long-term majority in this country.

So what do they do? At the first opportunity, they demonstrate exactly the penchant for pandering to special interests that got them in such trouble during the Newt Gingrich days, following their first takeover of Congress in 1994.

In an election survey this month, Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan's pollster, found that only one-quarter of the voters wanted a Republican takeover of Congress, barely more than wanted Democratic control of both houses, while a 43 percent plurality favored continued division. On another pair of questions, most said a Republican Congress would be good for business but bad for the economy.

Mr. Byrd, of course, is not one of those timid souls, and his recent speeches have been extraordinary even for the maestro of senatorial rhetoric, who turns 85 on Wednesday. While his colleagues have debated the fine points of the domestic security bill, he has been virtually alone in asking the larger question: Why is this new department suddenly so necessary? What will the largest and hastiest reorganization of the federal government in half a century do besides allow politicians to claim instant credit for fighting terrorism?
Not since Congress and the Truman administration upended the nation's military apparatus to fight the cold war in 1947 has the government been reshaped so dramatically around a single purpose. Once the department goes into existence 60 days from Mr. Bush's signature, it will slowly begin to absorb 22 of Washington's signature functions, including immigration, border protection, emergency management, intelligence analysis and the protection of the president himself.

Many workers in the new department will also find themselves without their customary Civil Service job protections, an issue that held up approval of the department for months. The entire process, in fact, was far more bitter than anyone expected in June when Mr. Bush adopted a Democratic idea for the department and added changes that would give him more management flexibility than in most other departments.

Outright ideological union busting.

Even in the last week, Democrats became incensed at a last-minute move by House Republican leaders to include several pro-business provisions in the bill. Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, called the move "shabby government" and said the Republicans should be ashamed of such actions.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

James Coburn
1928 - 2002

I knew James Coburn. Well, I didn’t KNOW know him. It would be more accurate to say that there was a period of time in the late seventies in which I was acquainted with him. During my Hollywood period, I worked on the crew of a piece-of-shit miniseries called “The Dain Curse”, of which James (call me ‘Jim’) Coburn was the star. He would sometimes play poker with us in between setups. I was in awe of him, which he thought to be hilarious. He knew Sam Peckinpah and I would ask him Sam questions.

See, James Coburn was cool. Very cool. I think I first became aware of this coolness when I saw “Our Man Flint” when I was around 12 or so. Or maybe I’d seen “The Great Escape” (Steve McQueen was cool, too) or “The Magnificent Seven” (Coburn was the guy with the knife). Certainly I’d seen him as inumerable bad guys in TV westerns and, while he had a minor role in it, I’d seen Peckinpah’s “Major Dundee” dozens of times by the time I hit serious puberty, which is the time guys first begin to notice “cool” and become enamored of it. (Richard Harris was cool in that movie, too; and he also died recently; shit.)

In the years between adolescence and the Hollywood period, Coburn had remained one of my favorite screen actors. He was one of those rare people who truly had screen presence. If he was on that screen you watched him, couldn’t take your eyes or attention off him. You know: a movie star. That baritone voice. The teeth. The smile. The laugh. All signature. All cool. I’d even liked “The President’s Analyst”. The Peckinpah films, like the underappreciated (and hacked to bits by studio cutters) “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and the anti-war “The Iron Cross”.

Yeah, I was in awe of him and he thought it was funny. He was a classy, gracious guy who didn’t take himself seriously at all. During the brief time I was lucky enough to be around him, his career was in a downturn. He was getting older. The arthritis that would cripple him and leave him housebound through much of the eighties was starting to get bad. He was doing TV. Yet he would beat the arthritis – cured it himself he said – and stage a comeback.

I was ecstatic when he won his Oscar in 1999 for “Affliction”. I’d read the Russell Banks novel and Coburn was perfect for the part of a bitter, nasty, abusive father because when Coburn wanted to look menacing he could do it well. He played the shit out of that part and I was happy for his comeback, although he said in interviews it was difficult to get work at his age, Oscar or no.

When I heard yesterday that he’d died of a heart attack at 74 I was deeply saddened. His agent said “he died happy”, in his wife’s arms. It’s tough to lose heroes, though, even if they’re just actors. Adios, Jim.

James Coburn
1928 - 2002

Monday, November 18, 2002

From Pete Townshend's "blog": 'I hope I die before I become Pete Townshend'. So wrote Kurt Cobain in these so-called Journals in the middle of one of his rants against the rock press establishment. Why? Because I had become a bore? Because I had failed to die young? Because I had become conventional? Or, simply because I had become old? In fact, in 1993, by the time Kurt was struggling with himself over whether or not to do an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, I was not boring, neither old nor young, and I was not dead. I was, unlike Kurt Cobain, hardened. Tempered, beaten and subjugated by all that rock had delivered to me and via me over the past thirty years. Rock is, I think, particularly hard. And in this statement Cobain appears to be hard on me. But perhaps he is sad for me?
Make your own Bush speech.
A Google game!
Norm Coleman is at a loggers' rally. Walter Mondale is at a political fundraiser. Paul Wellstone is airborne.
Everything is about to change.
U.S. intelligence have concluded that a new audiotape of Osama bin Laden is an authentic, unaltered and recent recording of the al-Qaida leader, U.S. officials said Monday
``Intelligence experts do believe that the tape is genuine,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. ``And it is clear that the tape was made in the last several weeks as well.''
The administration is moving urgently to accomplish its objectives, even before the start of the weapons inspections ordered by the United Nations. One goal is to create a credible threat of force, which might pressure President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to comply with the new resolution of the United Nations Security Council. The other main reason for acting speedily is to be ready for combat in Iraq before the hot weather sets in there next year.
``This monument was snuck in during the middle of the night and they can sneak it out just as easily. It's a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Alabama,'' said Morris Dees, lead counsel and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who urged Moore to remove the monument immediately.
The government is nearly ready to go forward with military tribunals for suspected al Qaeda operatives in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, pending completion of final details and approval from President Bush, according to federal officials.
A secretive appeals court ruled today that antiterrorism legislation approved last year gives the Justice Department broad authority to conduct wiretaps and other surveillance on terrorism suspects within the United States.
The order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review represents a legal triumph for Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had pushed for the broader powers, and a clear setback for civil libertarians who said the new measures would jeopardize the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

Some woman called Limbaugh today and mentioned that Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mary Landrieu were wearing, respectively, an American flag pin and an eagle pin, on their collars during a talk show appearance yesterday. This dittohead bitch then said that she thought Pelosi and Landrieu were projecting a “calculated” image that they were “patriotic” when “everyone knows they don’t support the President”.

Aha! So the dittohead definition of patriotism is: support of President Bush and, if you don’t, you are unpatriotic.

Rush didn’t call her on this, of course.
Blunt -- in replacing his friend and boss, Tom DeLay of Texas, who was promoted to majority leader -- instantly became a leading candidate to replace House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) when he retires, lawmakers said.
The biggest protests in three years against the hardliners who rule Iran appeared to have succeeded yesterday, after the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered a death sentence on a reformist academic to be reviewed.
Ayatollah Khamenei's ruling is evidence that, despite a seeming stalemate over the past few years, the edifice of the mullahs' rule in Iran is being chipped away by the reform process started by President Mohammad Khatami.

The redactions make it difficult for anyone reading the briefs -- other than the judges -- to apprehend the full argument. How are people to understand the magnitude of the corruption the law was meant to address -- or to determine if the law addresses it narrowly enough -- if the worst excesses of the soft-money system are excised from the discussion? The challenge to the McCain-Feingold law is not just a fight in court. It is also a campaign to poison the public against reform. The public should have access to both sides' arguments in full. Under the protective order, the three-judge court may overrule confidentiality designations if the parties cannot agree. It should do so here so that the champions of free speech don't keep the best arguments against their position [REDACTED].