Saturday, November 30, 2002

The House leadership--that would be your speaker, Dennis Hastert, and your majority leader, Dick Armey--going against the will of both the House and the Senate, took out the "Wellstone Amendment," sponsored by the late populist senator. It would have prevented runaway companies, those that set up mailboxes in Bermuda in order to avoid paying their taxes, from getting government contracts related to homeland security. They replaced the Wellstone Amendment with a toothless provision that affects no company.
The polite term for these corporate tax-dodgers is "corporate inversion" or "corporate expatriates," but they are tax cheats, pure and simple. They don't move anywhere, they just get a shell address so they won't have to pay their share of the taxes. And guess who gets stuck paying their share instead? And now we're going to reward these tax cheats with government contracts.

In Texas, the home of the blunt, we call legislators who sell out the people in order to kiss the butts of their campaign contributors "whores."

Sir Paul told the crowd: "Olivia just said with Dhani on stage it looks like we all got old and George stayed young."
On Friday, Nebraska's highest court ruled that a man whose ex-wife may have lied to him about being the father of their child cannot sue the woman for fraud and emotional distress. Why not?
One of the critics, Lynn D. Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University, described the report as a radical effort to equalize the legal status of marriage and domestic partnerships involving unmarried people of the same or opposite sex.

Why the fuck not, Lynn? Why do you have a girls name? Are you ‘funny’ or somethin’?
While the From-Reed paper does not mention Pelosi by name, they clearly see her kind of Democrat as the problem. ''Nothing else we do will matter,'' they contend, if Democrats continue to seem ''not tough enough'' in confronting terrorism. From and Reed dissent from Pelosi, former DLC leader Al Gore and most other prominent Democrats when they advise: ''We should press for regime change in Iraq and a full-scale assault on bin Laden and al-Qaida.''

''Close the cultural gap that, left unchecked, will give Republicans back a virtual lock on the Electoral College and doom any chance of Democrats taking back the Congress,'' they urge. How? ''Half that battle is simply respecting the values of mainstream America in the first place. We will never be the party that loves guns most, but we can respect law-abiding citizens' rights to own them. We will never be the pro-life party, but we can show that we want abortion to be rare as well as legal.''
Of the 11 Democratic representatives who won with the narrowest margins this year, seven will be running in districts -- shown in red on election night television -- that Bush carried in 2000. And 10 of the 19 Democratic senators up for reelection in 2004 will be running in red states.
The three-judge panel hearing the case issued a protective order last summer, allowing witnesses to mark all or part of the evidence they submit as "confidential." The idea for the order began with the parties. Some of them clearly wanted to hide from the public just how unseemly the connection between contributions and influence can get. Others apparently went along so the litigation would not get bogged down in battles over what to make public.
But I worry that the list of issues that dominated the election season was woefully incomplete. As we respond daily to the latest threats of terror highlighted by the administration, I believe other issues that bear directly on the security of our homeland are being dangerously obscured.
Drug czars used to draw a distinction between casual-use drugs like marijuana and the hard drugs whose craving breeds crime and community desolation. But this is not your father's drug czar. Mr. Walters insists marijuana is inseparable from heroin or cocaine. He offers two arguments, both of which sound as if they came from the same people who manufacture the Bush administration's flimsy economic logic.

The moralistic drug war has overstuffed our prisons, left communities fatherless, fed corruption, consumed vast quantities of law enforcement time and money, and led us into some cynical foreign ventures, all without making drugs scarcer or more expensive. Legalization, on the other hand, means less crime and inner-city misery, but more addicts.
Although there is broad agreement that change is inevitable, the possibility that the new rules could erode civil liberties has already prompted critics to complain that some suggestions, like a domestic security agency with sweeping powers to spy on people in the United States, could bring about the same abuses that the old rules were devised to eliminate.
"Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."
The logic of the terrorists is transparent enough: They seem to hope that by targeting U.S. allies they can weaken the anti-terror coalition and that by murdering Israelis they can add to the Arab following of Osama bin Laden. Chances are they are wrong on both counts. Australians, like Germans or French, might have had reason to wonder after 9/11 whether al Qaeda was really a threat to their countries; now they can have no doubt. Similarly, Palestinians, like Indonesians or Tunisians, understand that they can only be damaged by association with al Qaeda; polls show that a majority in the West Bank and Gaza now oppose terrorism by their own militants -- not to mention those Saudis or Somalis who would act in their name.
For Bush and for the country, the outcome of the argument is crucial. The administration, and moderate governments in Arab and Muslim nations, are struggling to prevent the war on terrorism from becoming what Osama bin Laden wants: a war of civilization between the Judeo-Christian West and a resentful and impoverished Muslim world.

In fact, Americans see themselves as increasingly tolerant despite the harsh words from conservatives. In an Ipsos-Reid poll this month, 56 percent of Americans said they had become more likely over the past year to respect cultures that do not share their values, while only 27 percent said they found it harder to have such respect.
To boost its legitimacy, Bush has included the anti-Iraq offensive in the context of the war on terrorism. But if Israel becomes a de facto participant, strategic Arab states whose logistical support would be vital in any military action may withdraw their cooperation.
Earlier this year, Bush had secured Sharon's commitment that, in the event of an attack on Iraq, the Israelis would stay out of the fray -- unless Israel was itself attacked. Following the Mombasa bombing, however, all bets are probably off.

Yet, it is increasingly apparent that the climate of fear promoted by the Bush Administration in the wake of a series of national traumas is having wide effect. It seems clear that the politics of fear and safety has been underestimated by progressives and pundits. This political message likely had more impact on the Democratic losses and Republican gains in the recent elections than the widespread sense that the Democrats had no message.
Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa know that the Wahhabi religious hierarchy in Saudi Arabia preaches hatred and contempt for Christians, Jews, traditional Muslims, Shiites, Hindus, and Sikhs. They know that the same religious hierarchy has operated Islamic outreach and charitable institutions like the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, and the International Islamic Relief Organization (all with offices in the United States) that have served as cover for terrorism. They know that financial gifts or donations to these bodies or their hangers-on are likely to end up in the hands of the terrorists. They know that the cash-rich Saudi Joint Committee for Relief in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to cite the outstanding example, was used as a cover for terrorist infiltration into Europe.
Before he left his hut about 3:30 a.m. Thursday to welcome Israeli vacationers, the troupe's leader, 55-year-old Safari Yaa, kissed his wife goodbye and told her that when he returned, he would have enough money to buy food for their nine children. Yaa never made it back. Three suicide bombers slammed their explosives-laden sport utility vehicle into the hotel's reception area, where the Giriama dancers were performing for arriving guests.
The latest tape statement attributed to Osama bin Laden is not authentic, according to a report by a Swiss research institute.
A Capitol Hill source, who asked not to be named, said recent Pentagon tests had revealed that the older suits are good for only a day or two after they are removed from their protective packaging. If additional testing turns up similar results, the source said, "they've got a big problem."
One leaflet warned Iraqis in Arabic not to attempt to repair fibre-optic cables.
"You are risking your life," it said. "The cables are tools used to suppress the Iraqi people by Saddam and his regime, they are targeted for destruction."
Another leaflet, addressed to Iraqi air defence forces, says: "The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defence locations is a response to your continuing aggression towards planes of the coalition forces.
"No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next."
So if I was a UN weapons inspector I'd go back to the hotel, empty the mini-bar and hope there were enough miniature Johnny Walker bottles to drown the realisation that I was a diplomatic patsy for the US Republican party. Only I wouldn't stay there too long because there'll definitely be plenty of weapons of mass destruction all over Iraq pretty soon. They'll be dropping from US bombers to mark the start of the American presidential campaign, to make sure there's certainly no "regime change" at the White House. If the inspectors can't see that, then frankly they're never going to spot anything.
Two British newspapers, the Times and the Independent, citing unidentified British government sources, reported in today's editions that Hussein has ordered weapons of mass destruction to be hidden in the homes of government officials.

The inspectors do not expect to find flagrant signs of banned weapons at the previously searched sites that they plan to visit over the next few weeks. Rather, they regard these first trips as critical in developing a picture of what has occurred in Iraq since the last inspections four years ago.

Friday, November 29, 2002

George Harrison
1943 – 2001

Damn! The youngest Beatle has been dead for one year today. Nov. 29, 2001. Of natural causes! Aging sucks.

Nice concert lineup at the Albert Hall tonight: "The tribute for George will resound not only within the Albert Hall but hopefully reach the spirit of the man so loved by his friends who will be performing and attending," Olivia Harrison said. How many holes does it take to fill that place these days (OK, that was bad).

Lookout, T.P. and Jeff Lynne (and Dylan wherever he is on the road); the Wilburys are a jinx!
Over the past 15 years, however, much of that system has been dismantled. The fairness doctrine was abolished in 1987. Restrictions on ownership have been steadily loosened, and it seems likely that next year the Federal Communications Commission will abolish many of the restrictions that remain — quite possibly even allowing major networks to buy each other. And the informal rule against blatantly partisan reporting has also gone away — at least as long as you are partisan in the right direction.

In short, we have a situation rife with conflicts of interest. The handful of organizations that supply most people with their news have major commercial interests that inevitably tempt them to slant their coverage, and more generally to be deferential to the ruling party. There have already been some peculiar examples of news not reported. For example, last month's 100,000-strong Washington antiwar demonstration — an important event, whatever your views on the issue — was almost ignored by some key media outlets.

Fox News is the only cable news network with improved ratings in the past year. The network is in prime-time triumph. With an average of 1.4 million nightly viewers this month, Fox has had a 17 percent increase in viewership compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers released Wednesday.

Hey, all terror, all the time. I really don't believe it's the conservatism; those people already watched Fox. And you know what? They're the least lame cable news network in prime time. It's just the truth. Larry King on CNN interviewing has-been celebrities. OK, well, MSNBC may be News For The Stupid, but "Hardball" is OK. Donahue is only sometimes OK. It's the anxiety/terror/war thing, I'm tellin' you. Just like the election.
An excellent post by Michele at 'A Small Victory'.
Some business lobbyists were openly angry about the Business Roundtable, accusing it of undermining goals like lower corporate tax rates and more generous write-offs for plants and equipment. "It's misguided," said Mark A. Bloomfield, the president of the American Council for Capital Formation, a Washington group that lobbies for lower corporate taxes. "Given where the weakness in the economy is, and given the weaknesses in the current tax system, there are places where the money could be used much better."
If China continues to be more concerned with hiding the tragedy than confronting it, then today's Chinese leaders could kill millions of people over the next two decades. We in the West must exert strong pressure on China to act quickly to address the AIDS challenge.
Now, whether or not Al Qaeda was behind today's twin attacks in Kenya, Israelis have clearly fallen victim to terrorism "with a global reach," the scourge that President Bush has pledged to eradicate. Further, why would the fact that Israelis shot dead in Israel were killed locally, rather than globally, make their attackers any less wicked, any less deserving of a declaration of war?
Kissinger now has another chance to be a player in the great game of international strategy, a game in which truth will inevitably be traded off against perceived national interest, a barter at which the American Machiavelli is a master. At the heart of his deliberations will be the role of Saudi Arabia, and the mysterious relationship between the kingdom's royal family, its intelligence services and the 9/11 hijackers, 15 out of 19 of whom were Saudi nationals.

Like Liddy, Poindexter and North, Kissinger has been helped back from eternal obscurity by a deep desire on the part of the nation's conservatives to avenge past humiliations, when men they saw as heroes were forced to answer to the law, and sometimes go to jail. Kissinger's second act is sweeter than most - his murky past has not only gone unpunished, it now looks like the unsettling prologue for US policy in years to come.
Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes. Pretty damn akin, since Kissinger has been accused, with cause, of engaging in war crimes of his own. Moreover, he has been a poster-child for the worst excesses of secret government and secret warfare. Yet George W. Bush has named him to head a supposedly independent commission to investigate the nightmarish attacks of September 11, 2001, a commission intended to tell the public what went wrong on and before that day. This is a sick, black-is-white, war-is-peace joke--a cruel insult to the memory of those killed on 9/11 and a screw-you affront to any American who believes the public deserves a full accounting of government actions or lack thereof. It's as if Bush instructed his advisers to come up with the name of the person who literally would be the absolute worst choice for the post and, once they had, said, "sign him up."
War designers see February as the best time to fight and have considered troop deployments around that date. A February campaign would capitalize on optimum weather in the desert region. A February date also would allow three months for the administration to complete a final war plan, line up support from allies, and deploy and alert the necessary combat units.

Planners are eyeing a "rolling deployment" in which the war would begin before all troops are in the region. The aim: tactical surprise.
The Washington Times has reported that an initial ground invasion of Iraq would involve 60,000 to 80,000 ground troops.
The fight over the multibillion-dollar Stryker program gives insight into the powerful clash of philosophies and wills sparring inside the nation's defense establishment as the world's only superpower decides how it should best defend itself against future enemies.

In saving Stryker, the Army -- after suffering one rejection after another -- gained both the sense that it can reach common ground with Rumsfeld and that it can control its fate as it works to reposition itself closer to the center of U.S. war plans for the 21st century.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

But critics said Mr. Kissinger could create as many doubts about the commission as he settles. "He was not the greatest proponent of openness in government," said one of the critics, Michael Posner, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, citing as an example Mr. Kissinger's role in the secret bombing of Cambodia. "People in this country need reassurance that they are getting the truth and that issues of our security are being publicly vetted. It sends a troubling signal that this is the person who is going to lead this effort."

Some critics say Mr. Kissinger's appointment raises the possibility of conflicts of interest. As the head of an influential consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, he has represented multinational corporations — including ITT, American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and H. J. Heinz — that have a stake in American foreign policy.

But White House officials said that because the commission is not a full-time job, Mr. Kissinger will not be required to release the names of his clients or to suspend his consulting work.
Pharmaceutical lobbyists, Eli Lilly representatives and lawmakers with the most knowledge of the Thimerosal issue have denied any role in the provision's last-minute appearance. Now, White House budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., a former Lilly executive, is the latest person to formally deny a part. He did so in a sharply worded response to an accusatory letter by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

Since the provision's appearance, some Democrats and trial lawyers have charged that it represented a timely payback for the pharmaceutical industry's financial support in the midterm elections. "President Bush and conservative Republicans are going to give the pharmaceutical companies whatever they ask for," said Michael Williams, an Oregon lawyer who represents several families of autistic children and believes billions of dollars could be at stake.
For instance, after pressure from the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, publishers changed references in books to characterize global warming as theory rather than fact, despite agreement by the scientific community that global warming is real. The board approved such revisions without input from scientists or experts regarding their validity.
Nothing of substance was resolved in the ruling. The White House has ignored Judge Sullivan's rulings, going over his head by asking a higher court to exempt Mr. Cheney from having to comply with the judge's orders over the last five months to turn over the documents.
Mr. Bush's move had been opposed by the Teamsters union, which cited safety concerns but certainly worried that the presence of relatively low-paid Mexican drivers would mean fewer jobs for American truckers. Many consumer and environmental groups had also opposed the Mexican trucks, asserting that they polluted more than American trucks and that their drivers had less training and less strenuous safety requirements to meet than American drivers.
"Canadians feel at the moment that the United States is bullying Canada on a number of minor economic issues," said John Ferris, a history professor at the University of Calgary. Yet, saying the current strain was not unusual, he added, "I can't remember a single American president in my lifetime who educated Canadians didn't think was a bumpkin."
The highly enriched uranium at Kharkiv is emblematic of a global proliferation threat that has now become a top priority for the United States: the vulnerability to theft or misuse of weapons-grade uranium kept in scientific institutions, such as research reactors. An estimated 20 tons of highly enriched uranium currently is stored at such locations in about 40 countries, from Russia and other former Soviet republics to Libya and Congo.
Or it could be that, sad to say, the Bush administration is operating a double standard. It could be that the US government is only too aware of the Saudi terror connection, but is not prosecuting it vigorously on behalf of the September 11 victims and the American people because it has other priorities. What might they be? One easy answer is oil. Saudi Arabia provides 17% of daily US oil needs and, more important in strategic terms, controls about 25% of global reserves. Despite attempts to diversify America's supply, US dependence on Persian Gulf oil is projected to increase, not decrease, in the next 20 years.
Osama Bin Laden boasted to his followers that there would be "thousands of dead" in America about six months before the 11 September attacks, a witness at the trial of an alleged al-Qa'ida backer told a German court yesterday.

"All the people in the camp knew that Bin Laden said there would be something done against America, but what he had in mind we did not know," Mr Abdalla told the court through an interpreter.Mr Abdalla said Mr Motassadeq, who was at the camp at the same time, had heard Bin Laden make speeches in which he had urged jihad, or holy war. "All the people there said the aggressors against Islamic lands should be killed," he told the court. When asked by judges who the aggressors were, Mr Abdalla replied: "The Americans, of course."
The estimation in the Israeli security establishment, which has yet to be backed up by any hard intelligence information, is that Osama bin Laden or another extremist Islamic group with connections to his organization, was behind the attacks in Kenya on Thursday morning in which eight people were killed, three of them Israelis.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Something I came across at 'Armed Liberal' which makes sense to me right now: I’m a hippie liberal who thinks sex is great and p0rn isn’t. Not just for the reasons outlined by Raymond above…that it’s anti-erotic and not well done…but inherently, because it externalizes and commodifies what ought to be a core human experience, and because it a part of a dangerous larger trend which risks making us all passive consumers of our lives, instead of participants in them.
It didn't take Christopher Hitchens long to react: There is a tendency, some of it paranoid and disreputable, for the citizens of other countries and cultures to regard President Bush's "war on terror" as opportunist and even as contrived. I myself don't take any stock in such propaganda. But can Congress and the media be expected to swallow the appointment of a proven coverup artist, a discredited historian, a busted liar, and a man who is wanted in many jurisdictions for the vilest of offenses? The shame of this, and the open contempt for the families of our victims, ought to be the cause of a storm of protest.

Go read the rest of it at Slate.
A poll for the Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper yesterday gave Mr Sharon a 24-point lead over Mr Netanyahu going into the leadership election. The smallest predicted victory margin for Mr Sharon was 20 points, in a poll for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Mr Sharon made it clear that any Palestinian state he envisages is strictly limited. He described it as "a state that is completely demilitarised, unarmed", and added: "It will have only police forces, with Israel controlling its external borders and its air space."

"If you are on dialysis, you have a special look. I didn't see any of that," Aziz said, adding that he also gave bin Laden a complete physical in 1999 and found no signs of kidney problems.
Environmentalists said the proposal amounts to a repeal of crucial sections of 20-year-old regulations governing forest use. Opponents of the measure said they considered it no accident that the rule was released with Congress out of town and on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, when the public is less likely to be following the news.
An hour and forty-five minutes into his show, Limbaugh still hasn't shutup about himself. And the Gore and Daschle criticisms. He hasn't mentioned anything else, much less the Kissinger commission. He's his favorite subject.
Some excerpts from the Times story, for what it's worth:

"This investigation should carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the facts, wherever they lead," Mr. Bush said. "We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th."

The president characterized the commission's mandate as one of fact-finding and learning, rather than one of attaching blame for the failure of various agencies to detect the terrorist plot that preceded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Asked if he expected President Bush himself to testify before the panel, Dr. Kissinger said, "One doesn't start with the president of the United States, and so I don't want to make a judgment until we have all the facts, until we have other commissioners. But it will be done on an agreed basis within the commission."

But Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who was a leading advocate of the panel, said he expected the commission to take testimony from the current and former presidents along with other high officials "in pursuit of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Asked how he would deal with American relations with Saudi Arabia, whose regime has come under criticism by those who think it has not done enough in the campaign against terrorism, Dr. Kissinger replied: "Well, I think that's one of the subjects that we will deal with. When I was secretary of state, Saudi Arabia was a good ally. But that was 30 years ago."
Some reactions -- at Democratic Underground -- to Henry Kissinger being appointed to chair the 9/11 commission. ALL of which I agree with, btw. This just makes me sick.

Kissinger remains a toast in NY society, despite the fact that he engineered and directed wholesale slaughter across the globe. He's untouchable in American political culture - the "good" Doctor - which only demonstrates the outright depravity of this nation's elite classes.
That he consorts with all the big media honchos and is even allowed to show his criminal face in public is an indictment of our entire culture.
The same people who complain breathlessly about Manson's face on a T-Shirt willingly drink cocktails and hobnob with an atrocious mass-murderer like Henry Kissinger.

I just called...
my husband at work to tell him this. He simply could not believe the audacity. I'm getting scared now. This is just too bizarre. I shudder to think what BU$H is plotting next.

Dr.Death, a man who is being sought for war crimes, this is too fucking ironic and disgusting for words.
This administration is becoming more arrogant and vile each and every day. It's as if they are rubbing anyone with an ounce of integrity or compassion's face in bull shit each and every day. God forgive these bastards because I can't. It is like living in the twilight zone only this is very Real,SCARY, and so,so SAD!!!!

It's now painfully obvious that this commission is pointless i.e. it will find nothing and establish that this administration knew absolutely nothing in advance. How do you think this reads to the rest of the world? kissinger doesn't even fly anywhere out of the country for fear of being arrested for his war crimes. The whole world has to know bush is truly insane now. Flouting his power like a mad man. The sad thing is there is no one to challenge him in the world, there are no sleeping giants to slap him down. He wins by default.
This powerless commission will rubber stamp anything bushco wants. bushco will use it to show they did everything possible and none of it was their fault at all. A truly compassionate administration, and totally faultless too. Except kephra is right that the commission might end up blaming Clinton and Gore just to keep that threat down.
Interesting reading on the war criminal kissinger

Atrios has already written the Kissinger Commission's report for them. He's probably not far off, either.
"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."

But Mr. Gore has a bone to pick with his critics: namely, he says, that a systematically orchestrated bias in the media makes it impossible for him and his fellow Democrats to get a fair shake. "Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they’ll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they’ll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they’ve pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these R.N.C. talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist."

And during a lengthy discourse on the history of political journalism in America, Mr. Gore said he believed that evolving technologies and market forces have combined to lower the media’s standards of objectivity. "The introduction of cable-television news and Internet news made news a commodity, available from an unlimited number of sellers at a steadily decreasing cost, so the established news organizations became the high-cost producers of a low-cost commodity," said Mr. Gore. "They’re selling a hybrid product now that’s news plus news-helper; whether it’s entertainment or attitude or news that’s marbled with opinion, it’s different. Now, especially in the cable-TV market, it has become good economics once again to go back to a party-oriented approach to attract a hard-core following that appreciates the predictability of a right-wing point of view, but then to make aggressive and constant efforts to deny that’s what they’re doing in order to avoid offending the broader audience that mass advertisers want. Thus the Fox slogan ‘We Report, You Decide,’ or whatever the current version of their ritual denial is."

Of course, some of the harshest criticisms of Mr. Gore have come from distinctly non-conservative quarters. Mr. Gore seemed particularly stung, for example, by an op-ed written by Frank Rich of The New York Times, suggesting that his new spontaneity was a charade. "When people write a line like one that I read this morning—quote, ‘People do not change,’ period, end quote—well, there’s a difference between learning from experience and self-reinvention," Mr. Gore said. "People do change, particularly in America. If you don’t learn from the experiences you have in life, then you’re not trying very hard, and if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not human …. If people who make their living criticizing anybody and everybody want to add me to their list, that’s all right. Hell, they’ve got to make a living."

I'm listening to Limbaugh right now, and he's having orgasms. He said that Tipper Gore's pet issue is mental health and "it might be hitting a little closer to home than she knows". (yuk yuk) He wondered -- out loud, of course -- if Gore was trying to lock up the anti-Rush vote. I hate to say it, but Limbaugh is really having a good, good time with this.

For the first time, about half of the adults infected with H.I.V. worldwide are women, chiefly as a result of sexual intercourse with infected men, the United Nations said today.
"Republicans have historically approached Medicare, and thus prescription drugs, from a fiscal standpoint rather than a standpoint of quality, compassion," he said.

I think Frist knew exactly what he was saying.
The request, if approved by the White House, would no doubt raise the same questions among members of Congress that this year's request did. With the power to wage war increasingly concentrated in the hands of the president, Congress has vigorously guarded its control over military expenditures, and this year's request by the Pentagon for $10 billion with no strings attached left members of both parties uneasy.
Israel is asking the Bush administration for about $4 billion in new military aid and $8 billion to $10 billion in loan guarantees to bolster its economy, a U.S. official said yesterday.
The latest sweep brought to 17 the number of accused extremists captured in raids here since Friday. Although the crackdown on three Islamic networks linked to Al Qaeda grows out of longtime investigations of a web of plots, it also responds to fears that terror cells in Europe are regrouping in order to carry out a major attack.
If the moderate voices of Islam cannot or will not insist on the modernization of their culture — and of their faith as well — then it may be these so-called "Rushdies" who have to do it for them. For every such individual who is vilified and oppressed, two more, ten more, a thousand more will spring up. They will spring up because you can't keep people's minds, feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how brutal your inquisitions. The Islamic world today is being held prisoner, not by Western but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as the majority remains silent, this will be a tough war to win. But in the end, or so we must hope, someone will kick down that prison door.

And wasn't this a terrific little parenthetical?: (Germaine Greer and other British-based feminists, unhappy about Miss World's decision to move the event to London, preferred to grouse about the beauty contest. The notion that the killers, looters and burners should be held accountable seems to have escaped notice.)
You say all this is happening because we support Israel. I know we need to do more to bring peace, but I don't think that nurse was shot, or that Bali bomb was made "holy," because we support Israel. I think it has to do with the rise within your midst of a deeply intolerant strain of Islam that is not simply a reaction to Israel, but is a response to your failing states, squandered oil wealth, broken ideologies (Nasserism) and generations of autocracy and illiteracy. Armed and angry, this harsh fundamentalism now seems to totally intimidate Muslim moderates.

Friends, unless you have a war within your civilization, there is going to be a war between our civilizations. We're just one more 9/11 away from that. So let's dedicate this next year to fighting intolerance within so we can preserve our relations between.

Maureen Dowd opens the Pandora’s box all the way: Flying off in his private Airbus to hunt birds in Spain with his friends George Bush Sr. and Norman Schwarzkopf, entertaining the current President Bush's sister, Doro, at his Virginia farm, and palling around on the D.C. social circuit with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Brent Scowcroft and Bob Woodward.

The case inflamed public suspicion that the Saudi government is more involved than it admits, and that the Bushies are less zealous about getting to the bottom of the Saudi role than they should be.

It would probably be far easier for America to reduce its dependence on Saudi oil than for the House of Saud and the House of Bush to untangle their decades-long symbiosis.

Prince Bandar, the representative of an oil kingdom, is so close to the Bushes, an oil dynasty, that they nicknamed him Bandar Bush. He contributed over $1 million to the Bush presidential library. The former president is affiliated with the Carlyle Group, which does extensive business with the Saudis.
There have been many accusations that the Saudis have not moved forcefully enough to shut down the financing of terrorism and that the White House has been too timid in forcing the Saudi government to show faster results.

Both Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa said they were concerned that the clash of civilizations that President Bush and other leaders had sought to prevent since Sept. 11 was beginning to take hold in both countries.

And who could resist this paragraph?: "Thank you so much for calling," she said to Barbara Bush, the president's mother, who called to express support and sympathy. Alma Powell, the secretary's wife, had called earlier.

The six-page memo was sent by the Israel Project, a group funded by American Jewish organizations and individual donors. Its authors said the main audience was American Jewish leaders, but much of the memo's language is directed toward Israelis, urging them to play down the likelihood Israel would retaliate after an Iraqi attack and asking them not to lecture Americans about the Middle East conflict.
An analysis of political donations by industry groups shows that over the past decade, 19 major sectors have shifted from a roughly 50-50 split between the two main parties -- or in some cases, a slightly pro-Democratic tilt -- to a solid alignment with the Republican Party, which now enjoys advantages exceeding 5 to 1 in some of these sectors. The shift has produced at least $78 million in additional GOP support from these groups over 10 years, while donations to Democrats have declined slightly.

"Tom DeLay and his cronies have been threatening these guys for years," Cardona said. "A lot of these groups would like to give more to the Democrats, but DeLay and the Republicans have put them in quite an impossible position, basically threatening them not to give to the Democrats or they are not going to consider their legislation."

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Until recently, Hamid Karzai was guarded by US military bodyguards. They did a damn good job, too -- foiling an assassination attempt last September. You've got to give our military credit -- when they're doing the right thing, they're the best. But Bush, Inc., of course, has a deep-seated belief that whatever government can do, business can do better. So the State Department hired a private military corporation to guard Karzai. Not surprisingly, the company is one of George Bush's major financial supporters -- DynCorp.

If the name sounds familiar, it might be because this is the same DynCorp whose employees, according to a lawsuit by an aircraft mechanic who worked for the company, participated in a sex trafficking ring while working for the UN in Bosnia -- buying and selling girls as young as twelve as sexual slaves. When Ben Johnston, the mechanic, blew the whistle, he was fired because he "brought discredit to the company." Another employee, Kathryn Bolkovac also spoke out on what was happening. She was fired as well. No one involved in the ring ever faced criminal charges.
AIDS will have killed 3.1 million people by the end of this year, five million more have been infected with the deadly virus and 42 million people, half of them women, are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the latest figures from UNAIDS, the United Nations agency spearheading the battle against AIDS.
At the White House today, Mr. Fleischer and other officials heatedly denied a report in The Washington Post that a National Security Council task force had recommended that President Bush give the Saudi regime an ultimatum: crack down on terrorist financiers within 90 days, or the United States will take steps to bring them to justice.
The Saudis supply about one-sixth of United States oil imports. But what gives Saudi Arabia its considerable political strength is its role as the only producer with the spare capacity to replace millions of barrels a day of lost oil. That amount could be drained from the market temporarily by an attack on Iraq, according to the administration's internal assessments as well as outside experts.
The administration's concept is simple: Countries with a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law and predictable and sound fiscal policy have the best chance of attracting private investors. The foreign aid grants would essentially amount to seed money, and Mr. Bush's aides said today that it might be given to nongovernmental organizations in some countries, rather than just to the central government.
Iraqi officials have told United Nations inspectors in Baghdad that they have no weapons of mass destruction and expressed reservations about inspections of President Saddam Hussein's palaces, Hans Blix, one of the inspections chiefs, said here today.
Briefing the Security Council, Mr. Blix said Iraqi officials had pledged to cooperate fully with the inspections, but had also raised a host of skeptical questions about a declaration of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons due on Dec. 8.
Roughly a week before the inauguration, CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Director for Operations James L. Pavitt gave a secret briefing to Bush, national security adviser Condoleeza Rice and Vice President-elect Dick Cheney in which the Osama bin Laden threat was described as "immediate" and "tremendous." The CIA identified bin Laden and al Qaeda as one of the top three threats facing the country, but the young administration gave the issue lower priority.
Turn on CNN or Fox these days, and it's all war. There is Bush, there is Rumsfeld, there are troops leaving for the Gulf, there are planes on bombing runs, someone on anthrax, someone on Saddam's past tricks, and so on.

The administration has manipulated the media into accepting its assumptions about an unjustified war. A "coalition" will exist; war will be short; the Israelis won't shoot; the Turks will provide bases; the Kurds and Shiites promise not to break away; a U.S. military governor will take over; Iraq will become democratic; the Arab street will remain quiet; terrorism will be contained; oil will flow; etc.
One year on, the crowing has long since faded away; reality has sunk in. After six months of multiplying Islamist attacks on US, Australian and European targets, civilian and military - in Tunisia, Pakistan, Kuwait, Russia, Jordan, Yemen, the US and Indonesia - western politicians are having to face the fact that they are losing their war on terror. In Britain, the prime minister has taken to warning of the "painful price" that the country will have to pay to defeat those who are "inimical to all we stand for", while leaks about the risk of chemical or biological attacks have become ever more lurid. After a year of US military operations in Afghanistan and around the world, the CIA director George Tenet had to concede that the threat from al-Qaida and associated jihadist groups was as serious as before September 11. "They've reconstituted, they are coming after us," he said.
The family represents a changing portrait of the 41 million Americans who do not have health insurance today. Once thought to be a problem chiefly of the poor and the unemployed, the health care crisis is spreading up the income ladder and deep into the ranks of those with full-time jobs.

According to recently released Census Bureau figures, 1.4 million Americans lost their health insurance last year, an increase largely attributed to the economic slowdown and resulting rise in unemployment. The largest group of the newly uninsured — some 800,000 people — had incomes in excess of $75,000. They either lost their jobs, or were priced out of the health care market by rapidly rising insurance premiums, or, like Ms. MacPherson, both.

Because the insurance crisis has hit high-income families and millions of middle-class Americans with jobs, advocates for the uninsured have expressed hope that Washington will finally resolve the problem. High-wage workers and small-business owners are a much more effective lobbying force than the unemployed, children and the poor.

In addition, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers are demanding higher Medicare payments, which will eat up money that could be used to cover people with no insurance. Medical providers are much more effective lobbyists than are the uninsured.

Mr. Flinchum says most of the workers who decline insurance do so because the premiums are costly and the coverage is so meager. "When you look at your benefits, you've got massive deductibles, massive co-pays, and unless you have a heart attack or cancer, which would be devastating in itself, it's like you don't have any insurance," he said.

"I don't know where it stops," Mr. Flinchum added. "With a 20 percent increase each year, over time the only two people in this country who will be able to have health insurance are Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. No one else can afford it."

Raymond C. Scheppach, executive director of governors association, said the problems would affect people across the country. States, he said, are increasing tuition at public colleges and universities, cutting Medicaid eligibility and benefits, increasing taxes on individuals and corporations and laying off state employees.

The Bush administration has opposed bipartisan efforts in the Senate to help relieve budget pressures on the states. Federal officials say they have no money to spare at a time when the federal government faces growing deficits, after four years of surpluses.
Last week the Bush administration announced new rules that would effectively scrap "new source review," a crucial component of our current system of air pollution control. This action, which not incidentally will be worth billions to some major campaign contributors, comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to which way the wind is blowing (from west to east, mainly — that is, states that vote Democratic are conveniently downwind).
Bates is an appointee of President Bush and has many friends in the administration, leading critics of the White House to assume that the fix is in for the Cheney lawsuit. Yet part of Bates's background also gives the GAO reason to hope. Five years ago, he led a fight to force the disclosure of information from a stubborn White House.
The editorial writers are roiled by the fact that the richest Americans, those with incomes of more than $500,000 a year, account for 28 percent of total tax revenue and that the top 5 percent "coughed up more than half of total tax revenue." The Journal contrasts these unfortunate souls with the thriving person who earns $12,000 a year and ends up "paying a little less than 4 percent of income in taxes."
A Square Deal is well within the capacity of a $10 trillion economy, but there's a catch. It is not possible if two things occur in coming years: the government gives $500 billion to a million high-income people via more tax cuts and it gives another $200 billion to even fewer through repeal of the tax on mega-estates. Call that a Raw Deal.
President Bush, a scion of great wealth who has never had to earn an honest living, has abruptly wiped out the jobs, retirement security and health benefits of 850,000 blue- and white-collar federal workers. Always bailed out of losing business ventures by his daddy or a family friend, Bush apparently finds it easy to play games with the livelihood of ordinary Americans as a way of punishing unions that opposed him at election time.

So why would the White House pursue such a policy? Simply put, the Bushies hate unions because they are the steadiest opponents of corporate consolidation,the transfer of jobs overseas and the thievery of greedy accountants and CEOs. In other words, strong unions are still anathema on the corporate gravy train that fattened Bush, Dick Cheney and a historic number of fellow Administration honchos.
At the same time, nearly half of the respondents expressed an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party — the highest percentage with such a view since 1996. Americans said Democrats had failed to offer a plan for the future or a reason to vote against Republicans in this latest campaign, suggesting that the election's outcome was as much a testament to what Democrats did wrong as to what Republicans did right.

Those polled did not appear to be particularly happy about how the election turned out: just 37 percent described themselves as pleased, compared with 26 percent who said they were disappointed. By contrast, in 1994, the last time Republicans took control of Congress, providing a Republican counterpart to President Bill Clinton's White House, nearly 50 percent of those surveyed described themselves as pleased with the outcome.

Monday, November 25, 2002

The volume of junk e-mail, or "spam", has exploded more than 25-fold since the beginning of the year, and now makes up 1 e-mail in 8 received in Britain. Tracking by MessageLabs, an e-mail security company, has found that the number has grown from barely 1 in 200 e-mails at the start of the year. But the problem is even worse in America, where it has grown from 1 in 37 e-mails (about 2.7 per cent) in January to 1 in 3, or 33 per cent, today. And Mark Sunner, the chief technical officer at the company, said: "The situation will only deteriorate in the future."
Freeper Madness. I like post # 4, about the "freaks".
Senator John McCain of Arizona characterized the provision as "among the most inappropriate" in the homeland security legislation. He said: "This language will primarily benefit large brand-name pharmaceutical companies which produce additives to children's vaccines — with substantial benefit to one company in particular. It has no bearing whatsoever on domestic security."
The politicians with their hands out and the fat cats with plenty of green to spread around have carried the day. Nothing is too serious to exploit, not even the defense of the homeland during a time of terror.

And another link to PLA, where Dwight Meredith describes his family's plight with autism and these vaccines.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said the Justice Department's inspector general should conduct an inquiry to determine whether the F.B.I. had properly investigated Saudi connections to the hijacking. "It seems every time the Saudis are involved, we stop," he said.

I wonder why. See below.

Senator Richard C. Shelby, the Alabama Republican who will be chairman of the intelligence committee, said, "I wouldn't look at Saudi Arabia as an ally" on a par with Canada, Britain or France. "They have a lot of oil," he said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press." "We need the oil. We've done a lot of things for them."

But citing Saudi financial assistance to charitable groups that the United States accuses of financing terrorists, he said, "They've got a lot of answering to do in my judgment."

The Bush family's long and well-known links to the Saudis: Here. And Here. Here. More. Lots more where this came from. Another one. One more.
The hypocrisy of our government was never clearer than this month on Veterans Day. While these politicians were using World War II veterans as human props, government lawyers were in court stripping them of their benefits. While officials waxed poetic about the "debt that we owe and can never repay" this greatest generation, the administration was busy contesting any legal obligation to pay at all.
"Maybe it takes some years, 10 years, 15 years," he confesses. "If you do not want to see again the Sept. 11 attacks," he declares finally, "we should continue helping them."
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans seem less interested in a president who will understand their ordinary stresses than one who will protect them against extraordinary dangers. Voters felt terrorism was now such a compelling priority that they essentially gave Bush a pass this year — even for the weak economy; in such a world, it's not likely that they'll give Gore many points even if they decide he has better ideas about balancing work and home.
President Bush's plan to offer tax credits to promote purchase of individual insurance may pass now that Republicans control both houses of Congress. But the president's plan will do little to reduce the ranks of the uninsured and may inadvertently increase them. The reason is that the tax credit is small, and the market for individual health insurance is burdened by administrative overhead. Because insurers charge the highest premiums to those who need care most, the young and the healthy have no trouble finding coverage at reasonable cost, while the old and the sick may find coverage only at exorbitant prices, if at all. Beleaguered employers may treat a new tax credit as cover for dropping sponsorship of health plans. If so, the population of the uninsured could explode.
When the Democrats' 18-month rule of the Senate ends in January, Bush -- backed by a new Senate majority, a larger House majority and what many GOP officials perceive as a new mandate from voters -- will be in a stronger position to make broad social changes than he was during his first two years in office. Republicans plan to use this power to help more religious groups administer government social programs; appoint more conservative judges and outlaw late-term abortions; and increase funding for pro-family initiatives and sexual abstinence teachings as part of a new welfare law.
A crucial point will come on Dec. 8, when Iraq is required to produce a comprehensive list of all its weapons sites and dual-use installations: industrial plants, agricultural sites, medical labs and research centers that could have both civilian and military uses. Iraq has hundreds, possibly thousands, of such sites.

The declaration will immediately be sent to New York, where a team of 17 analysts will begin checking it against a vast archive containing a million pages of procurement records, blueprints, satellite photos and intelligence cables compiled over the last decade.

"If the declaration is patently false and everybody can see it," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on Thursday, "if he does not let the inspectors do their job, then the president is fully ready to take the necessary step, which is military force."

Still, the United States and the Shiite cleric are in the process of forging a political alliance of convenience. It is an arrangement that is strongly supported by Kuwait, Washington's staunchest Arab ally in its campaign to dislodge President Saddam Hussein. The alliance is also quietly backed by Tehran, a subtle signal that Iran seems prepared to offer a modicum of cooperation if the Bush administration mounts a military campaign in Iraq.
"But instead of the usual sober, serious pose, Bush was caught giving a thumbs-up signal and wearing a broad grin, part of an overall facial expression like that of a preadolescent boy when the teacher has just sat down on a whoopee cushion," wrote Don Wycliffe, the Tribune's ombudsman, in a column that ran Friday.
If this sort of thing had been imposed by Bill Clinton, and turned over to Hillary and Janet Reno to administer and enforce, the foolish conservatives now leading the applause would be screaming outrage. An earlier generation of Americans would have had admirals strung from yardarms from here to San Diego for even suggesting such un-American scheming. Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives would have supplied the rope, or at least the rail, with tar and feathers.

Alas, the government, in the name of mindless security, has convinced us that unless we give in to Orwellian solutions the oil tap will run dry, our wives and daughters will be fitted for burkas and we'll all sup on sheep's eyes and stuffed grape leaves in celebration of September 11. It seems not to have occurred to some of us that "our kind" might not be in charge of the database forever. But it has occurred to some others of us. Scienta est potentia — "knowledge is power" — is the chilling Latin motto over Adm. Poindexter's office. The better advice is non illigitimi carborundum est — "Don't let the [illegitimate ones] grind you down." They will if we let them.
Increasingly, the administration's new policy -- along with the steps senior commanders are taking to implement it -- blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other. And, while the policy ostensibly targets foreign enemies, its most likely victim will be the American electorate.
Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director, said his organization obtained the documents confidentially from an EPA whistle-blower who believes the EPA and the Defense Department are failing to adequately address groundwater and soil contamination caused by unexploded munitions on inactive ranges across 30 million to 40 million acres, an area roughly the size of the state of Florida.
The administration's determined efforts to satisfy its corporate allies at the expense of the environment show no signs of abating. On Friday, it unilaterally relaxed the rules governing pollution from old coal-fired power plants without putting any new and improved rules in their place. Meanwhile, a story in Friday's Times disclosed that the Interior Department has authorized new drilling projects in Padre Island National Seashore adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico — a sensitive landscape that is also home to an endangered breed of sea turtle. Such is this administration's appetite for extractable resources that no area seems safe.
"It was never defined as amnesty for illegals so much as moving back to legalized work programs," said Mr. Owens.

But other RGA members, here for their first annual meeting since the midterm elections, agreed that the issue posed at least some problems for the president with his political base.T

The Bush policy was aimed in part at helping Republicans gain Hispanic votes. And RGA members meeting here were reminded by Bush administration representatives and others that Hispanics constitute the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. electorate. The Republican Party must gain a growing share of the Hispanic vote in order to survive.

Many rank-and-file Republicans have viewed the administration's use of phrases such as "guest worker program" and "putting people on the path to citizenship" as politically inspired euphemisms for immigrant amnesty.
Some have accused Republicans of pandering to immigrants in a bid for Hispanic support.
"Pandering I think is an inappropriate term," Mr. Ehrlich said. "The president believes in his heart we are a nation of immigrants and we have to be fair. We are the land of opportunity.

An analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the latest data from the Census Bureau indicates that more than 33 million legal and illegal immigrants live in the United States — an increase of 2 million, or a population four times the size of Washington, D.C. — since the last official count, in 2000.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

First Law of Government runs as follows: Concede no powers to your friends that you would not give to your enemies. If you are a Republican, the Law can be applied in the following form: give no powers of surveillance to the Bush administration that you would not be comfortable seeing in the hands of Hillary Clinton.

Changes things a bit, huh? (Twitching eyebrows at conservative brethren)
One of the under-explored aspects of the upcoming war against Iraq is whether it's really upcoming at all. Whether, in fact, it's much as many of the leading personalities involved – Colin Powell, a plurality of his American peers still in uniform, even by times, President Bush himself (and of course the hapless British) – would have it: that they're talking war to make peace. That to get Iraq, and the rest of the world, to the stage it's at at the moment, required a lot of plausible threats. This isn't to say that the saner faction in the administration were 'bluffing' per se, but that, at heart, they'd rather Saddam gave way without a fight.
"We Russians understand Saddam Hussein," he said, rather noisily. "He is a Stalin-like, totalitarian dictator who responds only to the threat of force. He must be surrounded by a military build-up, so that it is clear if he steps out of line he could be attacked within one hour." "One hour!" he repeated, banging the table in case anyone had not quite got the point.

He agreed to the UN's ceasefire agreement in 1991, under which he was to give up his nuclear, chemical and bio-weapons programmes. He did not. The UN's inspectors found that he lied repeatedly and concealed large stocks of such weapons.
Senior western officials and regional analysts say that Serbia is the centre of the illicit trade which involves at least seven countries in the Balkans and former Soviet eastern Europe. The trade has been going on for some time, and has even increased since the toppling of Slobodan Milosevic, a Saddam ally, in 2000.
Conason: One of the nice things about being Rush Limbaugh is that there's no paper trail. So if you're El Rushbo, you can blather on nastily about your political adversaries for hours, then sit back and grin while the country's most prominent media critic defends you as a "mainstream" figure who mostly discusses "policy." Having criticized both Howard Kurtz and Limbaugh in the Daschle flap, I received a letter from a reader complaining that I had provided no specific examples of the talk jock's "bile." So today I offer a citation from the nonpartisan Spinsanity, where an audio file can be downloaded. (The same remarks also appear today on the incomparable Daily Howler.)

What Limbaugh said a week ago about Daschle needs to be reproduced in full:

"There's a very high likelihood we're going to even face additional terrorist attacks ... No country is safe from this threat, not even us, no country is going to be perfect in its efforts to fight it. And Senator Daschle, you know this. Just as you know that you are hoping to benefit politically when our economy stagnates and people lose jobs, you are hoping to politically benefit with the next terrorist attack. And that's what this comment of yours was about yesterday, Senator, and that's what make it so despicable. This is almost the Wellstone memorial all over again. You know another attack is going to happen and you're setting it up so that you can say, 'See I told you so and this President [did] nothing to stop it.' You are seeking political advantage in the war on terrorism just exactly as you sought political advantage after the war on terrorism started on September 11. Just as you sought political advantage with the economy plundering [sic], just as you sought political advantage with the stock market collapse, just as you sought political advantage with the corporate scandals.

"You seek political advantage with the nation at war. There is no greater testament to the depths to which the Democratic Party and liberalism have fallen. You now position yourself, Senator Daschle, to exploit future terrorist attacks for political gain. You are worse, sir, than the ambulance-chasing tort lawyers that make up your chief contributors. You, sir, are a disgrace. You are a disgrace to patriotism, you are a disgrace to this country, you are a disgrace to the Senate, and you ought to be a disgrace to the Democratic Party but sadly you're probably a hero among some of them today ...

"Way to demoralize the troops, Senator! What more do you want to do to destroy this country than what you've already tried? [pounding table] It is unconscionable what this man has done! This stuff gets broadcast around the world, Senator. What do you want your nickname to be? Hanoi Tom? Tokyo Tom? You name it, you can have it apparently. You sit there and pontificate on the fact that we're not winning the war on terrorism when you and your party have done nothing but try to sabotage it, which you are continuing to do. This little speech of yours yesterday, and this appearance of yours on television last night, let's call it what it is. It's nothing more than an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism for your own personal and your party's political gain. This is cheap. And it's beneath even you. And that's pretty low."

Whether Daschle was right or wrong in his criticism of the war on terror, he was hardly the first to politicize national security issues this year. This time he waited until two weeks after the election to make his criticisms of Bush, so they seem considerably less "political" than the way Gen. Rove and his candidates used homeland security and Iraq. Daschle certainly never sought "political advantage" during the period after Sept. 11, unless Rush thinks he sent the anthrax to himself. It is a sickening lie that Democrats have tried to "sabotage" the war on terror or hope to benefit from another terror attack.

It's also worth recalling the kind of criticism Bill Clinton faced from Limbaugh and the Republicans when he intervened in Kosovo -- or for that matter, whenever he acted against al-Qaida or Saddam Hussein. "Patriots" like Limbaugh always questioned Clinton's motives, scoring political points regardless of the international repercussions. They didn't worry how the troops or the rest of the world would regard such criticism. Nobody accused them of treason for speaking their minds. That was certainly their right -- just as it's Daschle's right and responsibility to raise questions and seek answers about this administration's actions.

I still think Daschle was mistaken to complain publicly about Limbaugh, because it only encourages him and his "dittoheads." But there is no reason to pretend that Limbaugh is anything other than what he seems to be: a demagogue.

Former White House aide Oliver North will lead scores of supporters on a Caribbean cruise next year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Grenada.

Passengers include Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., former Attorney General Edwin Meese, and National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, North said. Former President Reagan's eldest son, Michael, also is invited.

Wild group.
War on Drugs clock.
Atrios calls Howard Kurtz a “media fluffer” (LOL) and refers you here and here.

More Daschle vs. Rush here.
The issue is called "corporate inversion." U.S. companies reincorporate abroad, usually in tiny countries like the Cayman Islands, to avoid paying U.S. taxes. In everything but name, the corporations remain American--in many countries, reincorporation only requires a signed document and a fee. But, by avoiding taxes, they cost the U.S. government an estimated $4 billion per year.
Is Gore nuts? Not on policy grounds. In a single-payer system, the government becomes the nation's health insurance company. Instead of paying premiums to an insurer (either directly or through an employer), each American would pay that money to the government; in turn, the government would pay the providers of medical care--i.e., mostly private doctors and hospitals--in the same way insurance companies now do.
Krugman's primacy is based largely on his dominance of a particular intellectual niche. As major columnists go, he is almost alone in analyzing the most important story in politics in recent years--the seamless melding of corporate, class, and political party interests at which the Bush administration excels. Like most people, the Washington press, and especially pundits, were slow to grasp the magnitude of the shift. Krugman, whether puncturing the fuzzy math of Bush's tax cut or eviscerating the deceptive accounting behind Bush's Social Security plans or highlighting the corruption behind Dick Cheney's energy task force, has nearly always been the first mainstream writer to describe--and condemn--Bushonomics in plain English.
In the US, Pentagon hardliners are drawing up plans to invade Iran once Iraq and its oil are 'liberated.' They hope civil war will erupt in Iran, which is riven by bitterly hostile factions, after which a pro-US regime will take power. If this does not occur, then Iraq-based US forces will be ideally positioned to attack Iran. Or, they could just as well move west and invade Syria, another of Israel's most bitter enemies. Israel's Likudniks thirst for revenge against Syria - and also Iran - for supporting Lebanon's Hizbullah movement, which drove Israeli forces from Lebanon. The unofficial leader of what some call 'the American Likud Party,' Pentagon super hawk, Richard Perle, told our TV program, 'Diplomatic Immunity,' that the US was prepared to attack Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.
President Bush agreed to let U.N. weapons inspectors return to Baghdad because he hoped Saddam Hussein would recognize that the "game is up" and that it would compel him to leave Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.

In an interview broadcast on the new CNN news talk show "The Novak Zone," Mr. Rumsfeld also said Mr. Bush believes that if military action has to be brought against Saddam, broad-er international support would mean a swifter offensive and would "probably represent a lower level of loss of life."
Hackworth: The commander-in -chief has got to change the way the Pentagon conducts counter-terrorism. And a good start would be ordering the SecDef to fire his gang of civvy whizzes who -- along with their counterparts in the CIA and FBI -- get high grades only for gumming up our ability to fight global terrorism.

Then the president should do unto our sick intelligence services what Winston Churchill did unto the broken British intelligence machine during World War II -- replace them with a lean-and-mean action team capable of delivering the hot skinny we need to win World War III.
More Saudi stuff: What worries the Americans most about Prince Naif is not his bid for radical allies but his role as custodian of the multi-billion dollar Dawa (“Invitation to Islam” ie missionary) fund. This fund derives its income from donations from worthy Muslims intent on furthering the dissemination of Islam.

and ...

The rulers of Saudi Arabia are gorging themselves on the country's oil wealth. But, reports John Sweeney in Riyadh, one British man has tasted the cruelty that is maintaining this precarious regime against a rising tide of extremism.

Punditwatch: New York Times columnist Tom Friedman defended Princess Haifa on Face the Nation, as did Senator John McCain, R-Az, on This Week. Friedman attributed the money trail to royal families being “shaken down” by religious extremists, a practice McCain denounced as a “Faustian bargain.”

Friedman went even further in assigning blame, saying Mid-East terrorism is “funded by your gas guzzler.” He has been an outspoken proponent of a national effort to achieve energy independence through technology.

While The Times adds this: Saudi officials and American friends of the Saudi government said that the payments from Princess Haifa al-Faisal, the wife of Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, began more than four years ago, and that they were typical of the charitable gifts she provided to Saudis and others in distress, many of them strangers, who wrote her for help.

Mickey Kaus can’t be all bad if he likes KBON (cajun/zydeco). WWOZ is another good one.
Zevon news. Hey, Warren made it to the opening of the new Bond film!
Interesting, umm, little catfight: If you were really a Bitch, then you would not be acting like such a Doormat. You are not a Bitch, you are a mindless fuck doll that is used and thrown away by men and you pretend to "like it" because you do not have the self-esteem to ask for anything better. Please stop embaressing yourself and realize that you are coming off as nothing more than a first class BIMBO. If you want to lay on the ground and let men stomp all over you while shoulting "Oh baby, give me more! I'm worthless and I know it!" then go right ahead, but do not tell men to treat all women that way and do not DARE tell ME what *I* want because you don't have a single clue what I want. And my theory is that perhaps you don't really know what you want either....


I'm on Lisa's side, BTW.
The 'Observer' says it has the text of a new bin Laden communique': A chilling new message from Osama bin Laden is being circulated among British Islamic extremists, calling for attacks on civilians and describing the 'Islamic nation' as 'eager for martyrdom'.

Full text here. If it is him, the man still cannot write worth a damn.
Gramm was by no means the only Republican to recognize the foolishness of the Sharp strategy. Dave Beckwith, spokesman for John Cornyn, commented that, "This dream ticket is cynical. It is based on a racial quota system. In the end, it will not work because most people vote on issues and philosophy, not on race." Beckwith, however, missed the crucial Gramm insight -- that by deliberately crafting a ticket in ethnic terms, the Democrats had made race an issue, and had highlighted the Achilles' heel of Democratic philosophy that certain races should be favored and others disfavored.
By RS standards, Rock is no longer a style of music but a trendy costume to be whipped up by expensive stylists and slapped onto the latest pop tart barbie doll. Give a girl some tight pants and a spiky bracelet and POOF! She ROCKS!

Found on Free Republic. I wonder if they know Joan is a lesbian.
A $15-trillion lawsuit aimed at bankrupting the alleged financiers of Al Qaeda grew even larger Friday, as the plaintiffs added more than three dozen new defendants, including members of the Saudi royal family.
This is Arafat's ultimate folly. He has not only played into the hands of Ariel Sharon, whose recent actions underline his determination to have Israel dominate the Palestinians rather than separate from them. Arafat has also helped empower extremist Islamic forces that see Palestinian nationalism as another obstacle in their path.
In a little over a year, the United States has done a startling diplomatic about-face on Russia, moving it from second-rate-power status to vital ally, thanks mostly to one thing: oil.
Creating a stable Afghanistan is going to take more resources than Mr. Bush seems willing to commit so far. Unless the president wades in more vigorously, the scattered signs that al Qaeda is regrouping in the country may grow a lot more menacing. If that happens, reasonable people will doubt the value of invading Afghanistan in the first place -- not to mention the wisdom of invading Iraq in the name of regime change.
What is so impressive about South Korea is that after several decades of being obsessed with the Korean Wall, it has refused to let itself be defined by it any longer. The South Koreans decided to focus on the sea that linked them to the world instead of the wall that divided them from the North. Putting all their energy into trade and exports has enabled South Korea to recover so effectively from the 1997 Asian economic crisis that it now has the world's fourth-largest foreign reserves — an astounding feat.
But several times since that new alliance was cemented, American intelligence agencies watched silently as Pakistan's air fleet conducted a deadly barter with North Korea. In transactions intelligence agencies are still unraveling, the North provided General Musharraf with missile parts he needs to build a nuclear arsenal capable of reaching every strategic site in India.

American and South Korean officials, when speaking anonymously, say the reason is obvious: the Bush administration has determined that Pakistan's cooperation in the search for Al Qaeda is so critical — especially with new evidence suggesting that Osama bin Laden is still alive, perhaps on Pakistani soil.
It won't be easy. Hussein has relied on a global maze of front companies and offshore banks, shady arms merchants and factory owners, crooked middlemen and brokers, plus corrupt officials and border guards. Only a fraction of goods are checked at border posts. And only a handful of people have been caught or prosecuted.
One camp advocates coming to terms with the modern world and adapting Islam so the two can coexist. That usually means imposing some separation between state and religion, where, in theory, Islam does not — for example by providing a basis for Iranian and Saudi officials to treat men and women differently as matters of Islamic law.
The Koran is inadequate as a basis for legislation," said Nilufer Narli, a professor of sociology at Bogazici University in Istanbul. "There are too many places where it would conflict with the civil law."
The other Islamic camp preaches rejection. Modernity is a trap, the mullahs intone, and the Islamic world is best served by returning to the religion's purist roots. Bring back the veil. Smash the television.

The answer is 'no', Islamists cannot run a democracy.
"The gulf war did not end in February of 1991," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "For a decade now, we've been fighting this low-level war without calling it such. But barely a day goes by without the Iraqis trying to kill an American or British pilot."

Much as I hate agreeing with Eliot Cohen, again, the Gulf War never ended. There was a cease fire. Iraq did not live up to the conditions of the cease fire.
The US military is trying to send a message, to say it is not afraid of going into the streets, which may in part explain why international journalists, including a television crew from the Arabic channel al-Jazeera, were invited to Fort Polk.

Hopefully that message will be received and someone will put a bullet in Saddam, thus sparing a lot of lives.
All this has been the inevitable product of the central choice made last autumn, which was to opt for a mainly military solution to the challenge of Islamist terrorism. That was a recipe for failure. By their nature, terrorist or guerrilla campaigns which have deep social roots and draw on a widespread sense of injustice - as militant Islamist groups do, regardless of the obscurantism of their ideology - cannot be defeated militarily. And as the war on terror has increasingly become a war to enforce US global power, it has only intensified the appeal of "asymmetric warfare" to the powerless.

This is because of sharia, which, to Muslims, is a God-given code for how a life ought to be lived. Used in varying degrees, for most Muslims it is a guide to such individual activities as prayer, fasting and donating to the poor. Beyond that, many Muslim countries have adopted sharia as their civil law, governing such things as marriage and inheritance. And then there are the countries that use sharia as their criminal law, applying its judgments and penalties to such offenses as theft and adultery, which are known in sharia as Hadd offenses.

While the list of countries that use sharia as their civil law is lengthy, the list of countries that use it to judge Hadd offenses is a much smaller part of the Islamic world. There's Saudi Arabia. There's Iran. There's Sudan. Perhaps most famously, there was Afghanistan under Taliban rule. There are a few other places where criminal sharia is applied regionally, such as in parts of Pakistan. And now there's Nigeria, where Muslims in 12 of the country's 36 states find themselves facing sentences that differ greatly from the sentences handed out to the country's non-Muslims.
September 11 changed that perception, however. If the United States — the most powerful nation in the history of the world — could be attacked by a group of Muslim fanatics whose weapons were commandeered civilian airplanes loaded with fuel, what countries were safe? Europe, with its large Muslim populations in countries like France, Germany and Spain, seemed even more vulnerable than the United States. Islamic terrorists have replaced the Soviet Union as NATO's raison d'etre. Unless nations band together to fight this unconventional threat, no Western country will be immune from attacks on its citizens.
The moves grow from a decision last week by a special appellate panel of the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review in Washington that validated the Justice Department's broad surveillance powers under an antiterrorism law passed last year. The appeals court found that prosecutors were permitted to use wiretaps obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in prosecuting people accused of being terrorists. For more than 20 years restrictions had deterred criminal investigators and intelligence agents from sharing information.
Disputes like the Rivers feud are a growing problem, affecting thousands of blacks across the South and their relatives who have moved away but retained their rights to ancestral lands. Called ''heirs property,'' land purchased by former slaves after emancipation and during the Reconstruction has become a target for developers hoping to cash in on the real estate boom along the coastal South. These land grabs are dividing families and uprooting century-old communities.
"The flag," Mr. Perdue says, "is not really the issue of the day." Instead of plowing ahead with the promised referendum, Mr. Perdue now wants to study the issue.
The Justice Department's Operation TIPS program, which would have enlisted tens of thousands of truckers, bus drivers and other workers as citizen spies, was doomed before it began. The Homeland Security package approved by the Senate last week and slated to be signed by President Bush includes language explicitly prohibiting the government from implementing the controversial initiative. It was hounded by criticism from civil libertarians and targeted for elimination by key lawmakers.
While trying to scare Americans out of their complacency, Hart seems to have given himself a jolt. He has rediscovered his voice and rekindled his passion for public service. In the process, he has stirred rumors of another presidential run -- rumors he has done nothing to discourage.

He doesn't stand a chance in hell, but I'd vote for Hart.
Armey, as staunch a conservative as there is, is unwavering in his belief that government ought not be given unrestricted license to snoop on the citizenry. Gamboa reported that Armey has worked with the ACLU in the past to protest what he considers unwarranted government invasions of privacy. Armey also opposed Attorney General John Ashcroft's Operation TIPS -- Terrorism Information and Prevention System -- that would have encouraged citizens to report activity they consider suspicious.
"There were a lot of Alamo projects floating around Hollywood," Thompson replied. "After Sept. 11, this one was green-lighted." Thompson notes that Disney's current chief, Michael Eisner, specifically wanted a film about heroes in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Gentlemen of the Alamo, meet Osama bin Laden.
Ah, there it was, the code word: South-Central. News organization in every American urban center have one: In Chicago, it's the South Side. In Boston, it's Roxbury. In Houston, the Fifth Ward. Those, the media supposes, are all places where crime happens, as if they are nations and crime is the signature national product. Coverage is always the same: News stories are always about blacks and Hispanics living in poverty and neighborhoods riddled with felons.