Wednesday, December 04, 2002

I caught this -- almost by accident -- last night on, umm, Cinemax I think it was. It worked for me, too. I thought the acting was uniformly excellent (Daryl Hannah can act!) and the very non-glamorous content was very good. Is it accurate? Strippers out there, let me know. And rent it if you get the chance.

"Dancing at the Blue Iguana" is an interesting film that flies in the face of modern film convention. Instead of flashy editing with hot chicks looking like Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls" video, we are given shots in this film that defy the glossy norms of MTV era quick cuts. In particular, one intense scene near the end between Sandra Oh and Kristin Bauer runs what must be an uninterrupted five minutes. This helps create both a feeling of intimacy with the characters and a sense of reality, that we are watching real people. Some plot lines go nowhere or do not resolve. Several characters seem to have no reason to exist in story terms, but not everyone's life out in the real world has a neat, three-act structure. There is involving drama, inspired comedy (Daryl Hannah at the foster parent agency and Jennifer Tilly in a dominatrix session) and a sweetness to some scenes that is refreshing. In the end, the creative folks behind this film apparently wanted to present strippers in a light generally unseen before on film. The filmmakers do not judge, but simply give a window on the worlds of these women. It worked for me; "Dancing at the the Blue Iguana" was a modest artistic success.

President Bush may have put an invasion of Iraq on hold until it can best help his 2004 re-election campaign. The administration would prefer to see change in Iraq by subtler means than 300,000 troops and mass bombing. He does not want to relive his father's experience of winning a war a year too early and finding that come the election the victory was forgotten or, worse, the post-war peace was turning sour.

It wouldn't surprise me, but I don't think so ... 4/1 against, let's say.
Ari again has to clean up after the first idiot: After Bush's remarks this morning, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said there had been no definite determination that al Qaeda was involved. "I think if the president thought it was definite, he would have said it is definite," Fleischer said, adding that Bush was "following up and sharing with you the suspicions that you've heard in previous quarters."
Attorney Kenneth Starr, who is representing McConnell and other opponents of the law, called the legislation a ``dragnet of regulation'' that violated free speech and association guarantees and wrongly infringed on the right of states to regulate their own elections.

And the horse he rode in on ...
The White House has decided that several thousand political appointees across the federal government will be eligible for cash bonuses, abandoning a Clinton-era prohibition that grew out of questionable practices in the first Bush administration.

The policy is causing rumblings of discontent from some career officials. They say the policy threatens to reward employees for political loyalty and could force career civil servants to compete against well-connected political appointees for the millions of dollars in bonus money that their bosses distribute each year. The Bush administration did not help matters last week with the announcement that it was setting pay increases for career federal employees below what Congress was seeking.

The Bush administration has moved in recent weeks to place as many as 850,000 government jobs up for competition from private contractors. On Friday, the White House announced that the raise for federal civil servants next year would be 3.1 percent, lower than the 4.1 percent sought by Congress.

Bush's political appointee intends to claim our government has the right to coerce information from a witness, as long as the evidence obtained isn't used at trial against the witness.
Even Tony Blankley at the Washington Times is fed up with the Kool Kids Klub. You know, the "journalists" who are more interested in whether a candidate is "folksy and warm" rather than report on policy. Because, you know, policy is soooooooo boring. "We want to talk about haircuts and furrowed brows and aren't we witty and totally droll and where is the open bar?"
According to the report, the lawyers assigned to represent death row inmates often are so inexperienced, inept or distracted that they make little or no effort on their clients' behalf. In 39 percent of the cases reviewed, the lawyers presented no new evidence in their appellate petitions -- the equivalent of filing a blank piece of paper, said Jim Marcus, executive director of the Texas Defender Service.
Many who know him well also say he will become an important ally for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who has clashed with Vice President Dick Cheney and others over Secretary Powell's insistence on exhausting diplomatic alternatives before using force in Iraq.
In a new report, the accounting office said that drug company advertising appeared to produce a significant increase in the use of prescription drugs, as well as higher drug spending. The report criticized delays in the enforcement of federal standards for the accuracy of drug advertising and attributed much of the delay to a recent change in procedure by the Bush administration that lengthens the review process.

The report rejected a contention by critics of the pharmaceutical industry, including many Democrats in Congress, who say drug companies spend more on advertising than on research and development. Using data obtained mainly from the drug industry, the report said that drug makers spent much more on research. Last year, it said, companies spent $30.3 billion on research and development and $19.1 billion on all promotional activities, including $2.7 billion for advertising aimed at consumers. But the report said that ad spending rose at a far greater rate than spending on research.
Terrell, 48, is casting Landrieu, 47, as a liberal politician, too liberal for the state, despite her votes to support Bush on his tax cut, the war and other crucial issues.

LOLOL ... or it would be funny if it weren't sad. Atrios says Landrieu "fellated" Bush and is now going to get kicked in the teeth for it. Sigh ...
But it is still hugely important, because it reflects a deepening understanding by many Iranian Muslims that to thrive in the modern era they, and other Muslims, need an Islam different from the lifeless, anti-modern, anti-Western fundamentalism being imposed in Iran and propagated by the Saudi Wahhabi clerics. This understanding is the necessary condition for preventing the brewing crisis between Islam and the West — which was triggered by 9/11 — from turning into a war of civilizations.
More than 130,000 reservists have been activated -- taken from their civilian jobs and their families -- since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Some of them are in their second year of service, because no one is available to replace them. Thousands more will be called up if we fight Iraq. Almost everywhere you look, the element of shared sacrifice that should be expected in a nation at war is missing. A few people are being asked to give up a lot -- measured in time or money -- while others are being indulged in ways no one can claim are fair.
The ruling was a blow to the government, which had argued that Padilla, a U.S. citizen, had no right to challenge its actions in court because of the enemy combatant status.
A critical deadline approaches this weekend for the Baghdad government. On Saturday, a day ahead of the deadline, it is expected to submit a declaration to the United Nations on any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as on nuclear, chemical and biological programs it says are peaceful.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

“I am a recovering child sexual abuser," said the lanky 71-year-old man. "For several years in the early 90's, I abused three of my granddaughters."

This motherfucker should be hanging from the highest tree! Recovering my ass ... Cut his hands off; and his privates.

For the past two decades, nearly all sexual abuse prevention programs have focused on children, rather than the molesters, experts say. Children, abused at a rate of 500,000 a year in this country, have been taught the difference between good touch and bad touch, instructed to say "no" if they are being violated and encouraged to get help. But the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church again highlights how difficult it is for children to come forward and confront the adults who are harming them.

The rising number of girls and women contacting HIV/AIDS portends another tragedy for the children they bear, or will bear: Three million children are living with HIV/AIDS; 13.4 million children younger than 15 are living in single-parent families or are orphans because the disease has killed a mother, father or both.
Wearing pink T-shirts that read "Bad girls like good contracts," dancers banged on pots Monday and chanted, "Two, four, six, eight, pay me more to gyrate!"

"We want respect," said Vivian, 27, who has worked at the Lusty Lady, in San Francisco's touristy North Beach district, for a year and a half.

The poison has seeped so far into the culture that a few weeks ago the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona was welcoming pimps, prostitutes, porn stars and exotic dancers into their classrooms to talk with students about "careers" as sex workers, and to demonstrate that working your way through school as a lap dancer, stripper, "escort" or actor in a pornographic film should not be considered shameful. Maybe not. But the University of Arizona should certainly be ashamed of itself!

And what about those nude pictures of yourself, Laura? The ones you first denied existed and are now all over the internet?

For all the low culture thrills, I left the museum lost in mild, but oddly persistent melancholy.
Post-coital depression by proxy? I doubt it. Intriguing, prurient and more than a little kitsch, the Museum of Sex is certainly worth trying but you won't need a cigarette afterwards.
But The Quiet American and Buffalo Soldiers were finished before they were shelved. We can only guess what's happening to film proposals and projects that haven't gone into production, that raise questions about or poke fun at the military, or foreign policy or "patriotism."
In its first clear indication of its position on a possible strike, Turkey said today that it would not allow the United States to deploy substantial numbers of ground troops for a potential military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein from power but that it would allow the United States to station warplanes and use Turkish air space to carry out a military strike.
To some extent, they're right. Taken together, his views are overwhelmingly conservative. It's hard to see how a true populist can favor the permanent elimination of the estate tax, a burden imposed solely on the wealthiest 2 percent of the nation, Murdoch and O'Reilly among them. And, yes, his 8 p.m. show pulls in only about 2.5 million viewers, which is puny when compared with the 9 million that Jennings's newscast still attracts. But what that criticism misses is how O'Reilly's impact is bigger than both ideology and eyeballs.
Instead, the report's conclusion that as many as 98,000 hospitalized Americans die every year and 1 million more are injured as a result of preventable medical errors that cost the nation an estimated $29 billion commanded attention in a way Leape and his co-authors never imagined.

My next-door neighbor recently had successful cancer surgery in Austin. However, she died 3 days later from an infection she acquired while in the hospital.

Such incidents -- usually attributed to the low pay, poor food and shelter, and threat of hazing that ordinary soldiers must endure -- symbolize Russia's struggle to sustain the world's largest army, which numbers more than 1.1 million, including about 600,000 conscripts.
Even top military officials concede that the capacity of Russia's armed forces has declined dramatically in the decade since the post-Communist government inherited most of the Soviet army's arsenal and bases.

The United States has some leverage with Mr. Sharon these days. Israel has recently requested about $4 billion in new military aid and $8 billion to $10 billion in loan guarantees. The administration would probably look more favorably on the request for aid if Israel did not retaliate against Palestinians now.

Yeah, sure. 91 BILLION dollars and counting.
Even if bin Laden is no longer alive, someone has taken command. The organization is alive and well and its purpose is to draw the Arab countries into a war against the world. For that purpose, fanning the hatred of Israel is good bait. It doesn't matter if Israel concedes or doesn't concede the settlements, if it leaves or stays in the territories. As long as it is in the Islamic sphere, al Qaeda has another flag. For Islamic fundamentalists, Zionism and imperialism justify the mega-attacks against the Western world. This sophisticated gang isn't fighting over borders. The border is their ability to expand and cause damage. To Israel's credit, it must be said that ever since the phenomenon of the suicide bomb for Allah was born, when killing civilians, women and children turned into a commandment that leads to heaven, Israel was the first to point out that it was a worldwide danger.
Let's review Robertson's comments. 1) To win the war, Bush needs to avoid saying Islam is rotten. 2) Islam is rotten. 3) I'm Bush's best friend. 4) I'm not against Muslims; I just want them to stop being Muslims. 5) The only people trying to make this a Muslim-Christian thing are those rotten Muslims. 6) I want everyone watching this TV show to know that this issue is no big deal.
This is a dicey situation. The last thing the United States needs is for the war against terrorism to become one between Christianity and Islam -- or, if you wish, the Judeo-Christian culture and the Muslim one. If that is allowed to happen, then Muslims who abhor Osama bin Laden and all he stands for will be compelled to take sides on the basis of religion, not ideology or politics. That would be disastrous.
DiIulio deplores "the remarkably slapdash character of the Office of Homeland Security, with the nine months of arguing that no department was needed, with the sudden, politically timed reversal in June, and with the fact that not even that issue, the most significant reorganization of the federal government since the creation of the Department of Defense, has received more than talking-points-caliber deliberation ..."
At a late-September weekly luncheon of Republicans, Lott told his fellow Senators that business interests appeared to have finally "gotten the message." His post-election meeting with the associations is a sign that Lott intends to be even more aggressive in pushing business interests toward giving almost completely to Republicans, even with the 2004 elections still two years away. For some groups, the opening months of the 2004 campaign may represent their last chance to get back in the good graces of the new Majority Leader.
It's not hard to imagine Kissinger deciding that Rumsfeld ought to have diverted some of the attention he lavished prior to 9/11 on missile defense (which would have been useless to defend the World Trade Center) and bureaucratic reform within the Pentagon (a dead letter since 9/11) to going after a terrorist organization that was well known to be bent on killing Americans.

Kissinger once wrote that Rumsfeld is the most “ruthless” man he’s ever known.

The Pentagon's recent purge of seven Arabic-language specialists -- people working in a field vital to the war on terrorism -- provides dramatic evidence that the country's policy on gays in the military urgently needs review.
Put it this way: If laws restraining the political spending of corporations and unions are a constitutional monstrosity, then two good Republicans, President Theodore Roosevelt and Sen. Robert A. Taft -- the leading promoters of, respectively, the 1907 and 1947 acts -- were constitutional monsters. If limiting the political privileges of corporations makes us an un-free country, then we have not had a free election since 1907, when Roosevelt's limits on corporate contributions became the law of the land.
In 1998 police were called to the apartment of John Lawrence by reports that an armed person inside was "going crazy." When they entered, they found no weapons, just Mr. Lawrence and Tyron Garner having sex. Instead of just leaving, they arrested the two, held them in custody until the following day, and prosecuted them. Under Texas law, homosexual sodomy -- but not heterosexual sodomy -- is a misdemeanor, and the two were fined $200. A Texas appeals court upheld the law, and Texas's highest court refused to consider the matter. So the two appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing both that its prior holding on privacy was wrong and that Texas's law violates federal equal protection guarantees.
There's nothing like a parade of corporate scandals, and the inevitable federal probes that follow, to make the phones ring in the offices of the nation's top defense lawyers.
Several veteran white-collar-crime specialists say they are busier now than at any other time since the insider-trading and savings-and-loan debacles of a decade ago, balancing multiple business scandals and even having to turn away clients. Some are so overloaded that they rely on law partners and younger staffers to take care of everything but meetings with prosecutors and court appearances.

"This administration is willing to do terrorism insurance for big industry, but they weren't willing to do unemployment compensation for people who are out of work," the senator from Massachusetts said a day after announcing he would form a presidential exploratory committee. "That's the big difference in how we approach the economy."
Around the country, businesses and industries that donated millions of dollars to elect Republicans are mapping out strategies to take advantage of the party's sweep in Washington. The White House was already sympathetic to business concerns, but with all of Congress now under Republican control, industry's expectations are higher.

Common to the relief that all industries seek is a loosening of various regulations that they say hinder growth in the name of protecting air, water, endangered species and wetlands. The new Republican control of the two Senate committees that deal with environmental matters — Environment and Public Works, and Energy and Natural Resources — is sure to bring a more sympathetic hearing for that quest than it received under the Democrats.
What do we learn from this catalog of cruelties? We learn that "compassionate conservatism" and "leave no child behind" were empty slogans — but while this may have come as a surprise to the faith-based John J. diIulio, some of us thought it was obvious all along. More important, we learn how relentless and extremist today's conservative movement really is.
Henry Kissinger seems to have a rather quaint idea about the ethical standards he should follow in directing a comprehensive inquiry into the government's handling of terrorist threats in the years preceding Sept. 11. If we correctly understood his comments over the weekend, Mr. Kissinger believes that he needn't detach himself from his consulting firm and can judge for himself when his work for a client might present a conflict of interest with the investigation. He even declines to identify his clients. That may be his and Dick Cheney's idea of good government, but it won't wash. This isn't the Nixon administration.

Looking more and more like it every day!
Q: How do you relate our new foreign policy with its pre-emptive aspect to the framework of historical context?
A: I think some kind of augmentation of deterrents with pre-emption preventing war is going to happen. It would have to happen. The weapons are simply too powerful. You cannot let another state -- if it is as aggressive and as rich and as risk-taking as Iraq -- acquire weapons of that magnitude. You can't wait until they do.

Phil Bobbitt is another whose opinion I respect. A very sharp guy.
In a report to be released today in Washington, the Saudis detail a number of steps they have taken since Sept. 11, 2001, to keep better track of charities that the Bush administration, members of Congress and outside analysts believe have been a major source of financing for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Hackworth is less sold than ever: Should the president decide to stay the war course, hopefully at least a few of our serving top uniformed leaders - those who are now covertly leaking that war with Iraq will be an unparalleled disaster - will do what many Vietnam-era generals wish they would done: stand tall and publicly tell the America people the truth about another bad war that could well lead to another died-in-vain black wall. Or even worse.

Because if GWB doesn't make sure we've battened down the home-front hatches before heading for Baghdad - which you can count on millions of Muslims viewing as an attack on the Islamic world - the invasion of Iraq will surely activate thousands of Arab kamikazes coiled like rattlesnakes, waiting to strike us from "sea to shining sea."
However, Mr Bush has been persuaded that the risks from a bioterrorism attack on US soil are too dangerous to ignore. If there were an outbreak of the highly contagious disease, some 30 per cent of those affected would die and many survivors would be left blind or disfigured, health experts say.
Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, has been the driving force behind preventive vaccinations. Since the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Mr Cheney has frequently voiced fears that the US was underprepared for a bioterrorism attack.

Despite the tough words, however, Bush and his aides indicated that the administration would not immediately declare Iraq in violation of the U.N. resolution based on what it discloses of its weapons by Sunday. Bush said it would be up to the inspectors to "confirm the evidence of voluntary and total disarmament" -- assuming, as expected, that Hussein asserts that he has no weapons of mass destruction.
Fleischer said the Dec. 8 deadline for Hussein's catalogue "will mark the beginning of a process, a process of verification . . . . The president wants to allow the inspectors to do their jobs."
Bush and his aides are pretty much convinced that Iraq will never disarm with Hussein in power. But to oust him, the administration would like to have international support. And Bush can only get such support if he makes his goal the disarmament of Iraq, not the ouster of its leader.
The administration therefore must embrace a new goal -- Iraq's peaceful disarmament -- that it regards as nearly impossible to achieve, so it can build support for its original goal of replacing Hussein. As Elizabeth Drew reported in the New York Review of Books, the administration acknowledged that the true goal of regime change had to be "played down" to satisfy the United Nations.
But American officials acknowledge that the diplomacy is also an important element of Washington's effort to secure Turkey's backing for a potential military campaign against Iraq.
The statement described them both as a Ramadan greeting to the Palestinian people and referred to the 1998 attacks by Al Qaeda on American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 231 people and wounded more than 5,000. Twelve of the dead in those attacks were Americans. "At the same place where the `Jewish-Crusader coalition' was hit four years ago," the statement read, "here the fighters came back once again to strike heavily against that evil coalition. But this time, it was against Jews."
Government officials said that experts were studying the message and that some regarded it as credible, although the officials cautioned that Al Qaeda had not usually struck specifically Jewish targets or taken direct responsibility for its terrorist actions.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Smirk is not amused: President Bush warned Iraq’s Saddam Hussein that he has until a Sunday deadline to prove he is serious about averting war. After the first week of United Nations weapons inspections, Bush said: “So far, the signs are not encouraging.”

Of course, he made up his mind 14 months ago, so this is technically a news wash.
A FERC administrative law judge ruled in September that Houston-based El Paso wrongly withheld natural gas supplies when California was reeling from blackouts, soaring prices and the bankruptcy of a major utility. Under FERC rules, an agency judge's decision goes to the commissioners, who can accept, reject or modify the initial ruling.

El Paso was the top contributor from the oil and gas sector during the 2002 election cycle, giving $1.4 million, mostly to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
One year after declaring bankruptcy, Enron remains months away from completing its reorganization, while continuing to burn cash at a record rate on fees for lawyers and professionals.

"The biggest difference with Enron was the use of special purpose entities to both get debt off the balance sheet and to buy assets from Enron to show profit. It was a system that was devised by reputable people in many different professions. You had lawyers, accountants and investment bankers coming up with systems that pushed the envelope so far, you had honest people believing it was OK."
The cell phone industry — which has more than 128 million customers — has refused to turn over customer records that would allow researchers to pinpoint whether drivers were in fact on the phone at the time of an accident.
New air pollution rules proposed by President Bush are, at best, a huge disappointment and setback to three decades of efforts to clean polluted air. At worst, they're a thank-you note for campaign contributions from some of the nation's biggest industrial polluters.
Pro-life and pro-choice advocates appear to have one thing in common: They demonize their opponents in order to justify any means to combat their influence.

Yup. Both sides are crazy. Both extremes, that is.
The court will decide by next June if race can be used in college admissions, an issue that the justices have dealt with only once before, in a cloudy 1978 ruling that led to more confusion.

We know how Mr. Pubic Hair Coke Can will vote. Now that he's attained an education through the auspices of affirmative action, he has no use for it. He was born to be a Republican.
Politicians have been reluctant to speak candidly about these problems, probably because they have so little to offer in the way of solutions. Now, with budgets being held together with little more than safety pins and wishful thinking, the only options being presented to startled citizens are substantially higher taxes or draconian cuts in services, or both.
We are a long way from establishing anything like the Taliban in America -- but not far at all from having imposed on us a version of truth that would justify the suspension of our civil liberties and other constitutional inconveniences. We won't stone anybody to death for objecting to having their computers downloaded, or for declining to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or for skipping the "under God" addendum. But there are those who would extract a price for these breaches -- and evidence that the rest of us might let them -- if only for the duration of the "crisis."
For the second week in a row, a player has been carried off the football field strapped to a gurney after a violent and gratuitously violent hit. Two weeks ago, it was Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox; last Sunday, Packers lineman Chad Clifton. In both cases, the downed players initially had no feeling in their limbs. Both are expected to recover, though it isn’t clear when either will take the field again. What is clear is that the NFL should move immediately to ban the sort of sadistic play that our culture celebrates and which the NFL profits from with its highlight mania and the smashmouth video games it licenses.
For decades, the nation's immigration policy has been a subject of intense debate, with critics saying the large numbers strain schools and other government services and take jobs from American-born workers. One of the authors of the Northeastern study argues that the research indicates the opposite: The U.S. economy would have stumbled in the past decade without the new arrivals, and most immigrants contribute more in taxes than they use in services.

Never let it be said I won't link to something I disagree with.
Among the first targets for scrutiny in the next Congress, Republican officials say, are two spending bills that pay for many of the largest social programs. One is for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The other is for the Veterans Administration and the Housing and Urban Development Department.

"The White House and the Republican leadership have obviously decided that they can now go for it all in slashing nondefense domestic spending," said one leading Democratic aide. "The mainstream Republicans don't want to see it cut, but the leaders think that now is the time to strike."

First, consider why the administration is on the defensive. Last June Bush promised $500 million to fight mother-child transmission of the AIDS virus. Unfortunately, this was a substitute for a more generous Senate plan that the White House squashed. But then in August Bush vetoed the first tranche of the $500 million because he objected to other spending that came with it. To date, no money has been appropriated. In the 111 days since the Bush veto, an estimated 222,000 babies have been infected with HIV.

The First Asshole.
All of the scenes in "The Polar Express" will be shot with digital cameras in front of a blank screen, with sets to be filled in later by computers. The actors will be covered in motion-capture sensors so that each move of an arm, each flicker of an eyelid and each wrinkle of a lip will be stored on a computer and used as guide for the digital animators who will create the actual movie footage.

Pitzer, along with many other U.S. colleges, is struggling to contain the flood of unauthorized music and movie files moving through campus computer networks. The actions are spurred in part by growing complaints from the entertainment industry that students are, in effect, stealing copyrighted material.

But colleges also have a more practical concern: The near-constant downloading of songs, movies, games and software is overwhelming many campus networks, slowing their use in research and teaching.
An insightful wag once remarked that foreign aid was the redistribution of wealth from the poor of a rich nation to the rich of a poor country. Double ditto that sentiment for the system of remittances and American taxpayers who live near Mexico. Mexicans have more money to send home because they don't have to pay for health care — that service is provided by American taxpayers, despite their objections. So, when el Presidente Vincente Fox demands that his people living illegally in the United States deserve "dignity," what he really means is more free services so Mexicans will have additional excess cash to send home.
"The aide would get the 'mark' on the phone, then hand me a card with the spouse's name, the contributor's main interest and a reminder to 'appear chatty,' " Miller wrote. "I'd remind the agribusinessman I was on the Agriculture Committee; I'd remind the banker I was on the Banking Committee. And then I'd make a plaintive plea for soft money . . . . Most large contributors understand only two things: what you can do for them or what you can do to them. I always left that room feeling like a cheap prostitute who'd had a busy day."

Well, Zell, if the shoe fits ...
Hart defined the terrorist threat and political problems as a series of concentric circles. At the center he saw a small core of terrorists like al-Qaida. The second circle included governments acting against American interests, beginning with Saudi Arabia -- "Oil. We are financing the people trying to kill us." -- and extending to Germany. The third circle, he said, were 12-year-olds in refugee camps, the next generation of terrorists, kids without hope or opportunity, learning to hate America and Americans. The outer circle included people everywhere who do not hate Americans, but resented what they see as the rich arrogance and bullying of the U.S. government and its closest allies.

Again, I'd vote for Hart in a heartbeat (no pun intended). Think Donna Rice was a plant?
In an interview with Esquire magazine, Mr. DiIulio said: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
"Mayberry Machiavellis" is Mr. DiIulio's term for the political staff and most particularly Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief adviser. He describes Mr. Rove as "enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political-adviser post near the Oval Office."
Mr. DiIulio says the religious right and libertarians trust Mr. Rove "to keep Bush 43 from behaving like Bush 41 and moving too far to the center or inching at all center-left."
Bush first opposed the creation of a Cabinet level Homeland Security Department, but he signed into law Monday. Why the change of heart? Polls showed the public thought it was a good common sense idea. His handlers thought it was a great political issue (especially because it prompted a showdown with Democrats over labor issues). And so Bush created the biggest bureaucracy since FDR’s day. The “era of big government,” as Clinton used to say, isn’t over after all.
The new push comes seven months after Mr. Mueller announced a counterterrorism reorganization that included a restructuring of the management hierarchy at F.B.I. headquarters and a redeployment of some 400 personnel who had been working nonterrorism investigations like narcotics and white-collar crime. Roughly a quarter of the F.B.I.'s 11,000 agents are now working counterterrorism, officials say.

Oh, by all means pull the agents off working on white-collar crime. Fucking Republicans.
Eleven years after the United States committed to helping the former Soviet Union secure and destroy its weapons of mass destruction, and 14 months after President Bush made it a priority to keep them out of terrorists' hands, vast and lethal stockpiles remain ripe for plucking, officials and nonproliferation experts say.

A small number of conservative House members and Pentagon hard-liners who are suspicious of Russian intentions have put key nonproliferation programs in handcuffs.

A leading Israeli research institute warns in a report being released today that the Jewish state — beset by Palestinian attacks and a dismal economy — is rapidly losing its military edge over the Arab world.

The American hawks will take care of that, though, not to worry.

Pat Buchanan is right about Israel's "amen corner" in the U.S. (I think I'm beginning to talk myself out of support for this war ... hmmm)
"We face, according to the consensus view of our intelligence community, a 75 percent or better likelihood of terrorist attacks inside the United States at the point that Saddam Hussein feels that all is lost and he's about to be toppled from power," Graham said.
The answer is ideology. Today’s Islamic terrorism is motivated not by a specific policy but a nihilistic rage against the modern world. The old rule was, terrorists want a few people dead and a lot of people watching. In other words, they sought to publicize their cause but not kill so many as to offend most people. The new Islamic terrorists want a lot of people dead and even more watching. This shift in mentality can be seen even in Israel, where a classic nationalist struggle is slowly being superceded by a messianic-religious one. Islamic groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad broke with the Palestinian nationalists and began routinely attacking not just Israeli public figures, soldiers and settlers but ordinary Israeli civilians—and in large numbers. If this practice spreads, it will mark the breakdown of basic rules of the road on which civilization rests.

But the military and intelligence war must be complemented by an ideological struggle, which is at the heart of this new terrorism. If the pernicious ideology of extremism and intolerance—on display in last week’s riots in Nigeria—spreads through the world of Islam, no one will be safe, no matter how effective the military strategy. You cannot deter someone who wants to die anyway. The people who are losing the most are Muslims. Terror and extremism will make the rest of the world isolate, suspect and abandon the entire world of Islam, leaving it to fester in its backward condition. How many tourists and businessmen are going to go to Nigeria and Kenya in the next few years? Muslim political figures must stop cowering in fear of the extremists and take them on.
U.N. weapons inspectors reported Monday that some equipment tagged by inspectors four years ago was missing from a missile site. The statement, issued after the fifth day of the current inspections, highlighted a possible example of Iraqi noncompliance with a U.N. resolution that could lead to a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Iraq modified Soviet-made Scuds for a longer range and used them in the Persian Gulf War. Iraq is prohibited from having such missiles — which have a range of 400 miles — and inspectors likely wanted to ensure that Iraq is not still producing them.

Another major problem I have with this coming war. Iraq is not a direct, clear and present danger -- NOW -- to the U.S. It is to Israel, though. Check out those missile ranges.
The U.S. would prefer to keep Israel out of its war on al-Qaeda, for the simple reason that Israeli involvement muddies the issue for Washington's Arab allies. Arab governments have struggled even to condemn suicide terrorism by the Palestinians, which is viewed on Arab streets, and even in the corridors of power, as a response to the Israeli occupation. Syria, for example, has cooperated actively with U.S. intelligence services in rounding up al-Qaeda suspects, but has steadfastly refused U.S. demands to close down the operations of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus. Now, al-Qaeda may be trying to cash in on the same phenomenon: By identifying itself with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bin Laden's group may also be hoping to undermine Arab support for the U.S. war on terror.
But Kuwaitis and longtime expatriates here say they have seen a steady and disturbing rise in Islamic extremism.

"I have been here 22 years, and in that time I have seen the country becoming more and more fundamentalist," said a European businessman, who asked that his name not be used. "This country is going backward, not forward." As for any residual gratitude toward the U.S., he scoffed: "Eaten bread is soon forgotten."
In the duel with the Palestinians over the hearts of average Americans, Israel wins hands down. But when Israel puts itself up for judgment, things look different: Israel is seen as a country that is not pursuing peace, is largely responsible for the violence in the territories and is not morally in the right in the conflict. These positions largely reflect the approach taken by the public at large and to an even greater extent, the views of the most influential groups within American society.
For the inspectors, it is a grinding task, burdened by knowledge that hawks in the Bush administration have scant faith in their ability to strip Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, after the evasion and intransigence with which the Iraqis met an earlier generation of United Nations inspectors in the 1990's. To this, some top officials in the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or Unmovic, add the suspicion that Washington hard-liners might prefer them to fail, so as to clear a path to a military showdown.

I wonder how many American spies are with the group this time around.
To avoid an angry reaction from their publics, Arab leaders are putting conditions on the nature of any military action. They say it must be perceived as a means to enforce the United Nations demands that Iraq disarm, not as a unilateral American attempt to redraw the geopolitical map in the Middle East.

Still, there are likely to be gradations of political and military support, as governments calculate how closely they want to align themselves with Washington. There are likely to be different types of rewards from the Americans including, in some cases, financial assistance.


There are signs that Iran may stay on the sidelines this time or even offer limited cooperation. The Iranian Navy has closed its waterways to vessels trying to smuggle oil and other products from Iraq. This has helped the United States tighten its embargo on Iraqi trade that is not specifically authorized.

The 23-page document, and a graphic video played at a Foreign Office briefing made available to television stations, were seen as moves to win public support for action against Iraq, coming just six days before the deadline set by the United Nations for Iraq to make a full declaration of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or face "serious consequences."

Mr. Straw, however, was accused by Amnesty International of a "cold and calculated manipulation" of the human rights situation in Iraq in order to back up the case for possible military action against Baghdad. The United States and Britain have warned that they are ready to act with military force should Iraq fail to meet the demands of the United Nations Security Council.
"Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the gulf war," said the organization's secretary general, Irene Khan.

The woman is right. I'm not trying to minimize any of this, but the simple truth is that we -- especially the Reagan and Bush I administrations -- didn't give a shit about any of this back in the 80's, and it was well-known. I remember reading a quickie paperback book about Saddam the Terrible back in 1990 after he'd invaded Kuwait, by Laurie Mylroie and Judith Miller (both prominent neocons) and all this stuff was in there. Shrub and Blair didn't give a shit until after 9/11. That's just fact. The reason for this release is to hopefully sway liberals over to the cause of war. But it's certainly nothing new.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

I'd forgotten just how good the "Cloud Nine" album was ...

Just For Today
(George Harrison)
Just for today
I could try to live through this day only
Not deal with all life's problems
Just for today

If just for one night
I could feel not sad and lonely
Not be my own life's problem
Just for one night

If just (for) today
I could try to live through this day only
Not deal with all life's problems
Just for today

If just for one night
I could feel not sad and lonely
Not be my own life's problem
Just for one night

Just for today
I could try to live through this day only
Not deal with all life's problems
Just for today

Just for today

How should the Senator have replied? He could have noted how odd it is for Mr. Limbaugh, who avoided the Vietnam draft, to question the patriotism of an Air Force veteran like himself. Or he could have adopted the strategy of Senator John McCain, another frequent target of the radio demagogue’s bombast.

After comparing Mr. Limbaugh to a "circus clown," the Arizona Republican apologized. "I regret that statement," he told an interviewer on Fox News the other night, "because my office has been flooded with angry phone calls from circus clowns all over America. They resent that comparison, and so I would like to extend my apologies to Bozo, Chuckles and Krusty."

hahahahahahaha ...
Wherein Limbaugh does exactly what Daschle has accused him of doing: "He's attacked my president. He attacked our effort in the war on terrorism. He said he's seen no evidence of any victory because we haven't gotten [Osama] bin Laden," Mr. Limbaugh said of Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, in an interview broadcast yesterday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" with Howard Kurtz.
Mr. Limbaugh added: "He's out there broadcasting this to the world. This is getting such coverage, who knows what kind of aid and comfort it might be providing the people that we're attempting to bring to justice, either legally or militarily?"

The man redefines the word "slimy". I'd like to shove that hearing aid down his fucking throat.
Maureen gets off more good lines in this column than, well ... Just read it: It was Dick Cheney's brainstorm, naturally. Only someone as pathologically opaque as the vice president could appreciate the sublime translucency of Henry Kissinger. And only someone intent on recreating the glory days of the Ford and Nixon White Houses could have hungered to add the 79-year-old Dr. Strange—— I mean, Dr. Kissinger to the Bush team.
The discontent on the farm, however, comes at a difficult time for President Vicente Fox, who is already dealing with rising unemployment in the countryside. A main source of illegal immigration to the United States is rural Mexico, where jobs have been lost by the hundreds of thousands in recent years as globalization and free trade make it increasingly hard for Mexican farmers to compete with Iowa corn, Vietnamese coffee and Thai pineapples.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, a higher proportion of the population reported suffering from hunger over a three-year span than in any other region of the country, according to a recent analysis of federal statistics by the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University.
Known for his wide-ranging research on taxes and government spending that examines the ways public policy affects people's behavior, Mr. Feldstein has helped shift the economic consensus to the right over the last three decades. As an adviser to Mr. Bush's 2000 campaign and a frequent contributor to op-ed pages, Mr. Feldstein provided much of the intellectual rationale for the tax cut last year. He continues to push for changes in the Social Security system that would include private investment accounts.
If the Democratic Party's recent midterm election campaign was weak and shallow, the same can be said of its November post-midterm-election debate over whether to move left or right. Bluntly put, the party of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman has been selling its soul to fill its campaign wallet and is now in big trouble, especially among three key longtime constituencies: blacks, Latinos and lower-income Southern whites.
Many of the problems facing the agency, experts say, are traceable to powerful corporate interests on Wall Street and in the accounting profession that continue, both directly and through the help of well-placed allies in Congress, to exert enormous influence on the rule-making process.
As a result, the commission's budget has remained relatively small, less than half a billion dollars, and inadequate to the task. A new law called for a spending increase of 77 percent. But officials now fear that any increase will fall far short of its needs because the agency has no leader to fight for its interests and faces a White House that has wavered over its commitment to raise the S.E.C.'s budget and a Republican Congress that has other priorities.

Looking more like "1984" every day: The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say.

For example, under authority it already has or is asserting in court cases, the administration, with approval of the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, could order a clandestine search of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were aware of it.
Informal estimates by congressional staff and Washington think tanks of the costs of an invasion of Iraq and a postwar occupation of the country have been in the range of $100 billion to $200 billion. If the fighting is protracted, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein blows up his country's oil fields, most economists believe the indirect costs of the war could be much greater, reverberating through the U.S. economy for many years.
The four are part of a generation that has come up through boot camp and training schools since Sept. 11 and who are now wondering whether they will join the war on terrorism or head to Iraq.

The new operation would be an increase in the Pentagon's commitment to combating terrorism in the Philippines by shifting hundreds of troops now scheduled for classroom or routine training in the northern Philippines to a combat zone in the south. The exercise would involve American Special Forces, as well as Army and Marine forces, over much of next year, officials said.
The official purpose of the work at the base, As Sayliyah, is to prepare for a major American military exercise in December called Internal Look. But it will be no ordinary exercise. American officials say that it will be the first time that a war game of its type has been conducted outside the United States and that the command and control procedures practiced would be the same used for a war with Iraq.
In other words, the chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, can invite any Iraqi general or scientist to come outside Iraq and reveal what he knows. And should that Iraqi worry about personal safety, U.S. officials would be prepared to give his whole family green cards and money to live on. And why not? "I am happy to pay for that," a senior Pentagon official said. "It will be a lot cheaper than going to war to find these weapons."
On its frontiers, Islam remains capable of the changes necessary to make it, once again, a healthy, luminous faith whose followers can compete globally on their own terms. But the hard men from that religion's ancient homelands are determined to frustrate every exploratory effort. The extremist Muslim diaspora from the Middle East has one consistent message: Return to the past, for that is what God wants.
The new map would be drawn with an eye to two main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and ensuring Israel's continued regional military superiority. The plan is, in its way, as ambitious as the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between the empires of Britain and France, which carved up the region at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The neo-imperial vision, which can be ascertained from the writings of key administration figures and their co-visionaries in influential conservative think tanks, includes not only regime change in Iraq but control of Iraqi oil, a possible end to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and newly compliant governments in Syria and Iran -- either by force or internal rebellion.
"Muslims here see what is happening in Palestine and Afghanistan," said Sheik Juma Ngao, a prayer leader in Mombasa. "They naturally blame this on Israel and its supporter, America."
Since 9/11, the Bush administration has been fighting two wars. One, against terror, has been fought with creativity and vigor; another, for the hearts and minds of the world's Muslims, has been waged with a baffling lack of clarity and confidence. Instead of recognizing that millions of Muslims dislike America because of the alleged injustice of our policies on contentious issues such as terrorism, Iraq and Israel, we have chosen to believe that if only Muslims knew us better -- our society, values and culture -- they would hate us less. Hence, the administration's "public diplomacy" -- outreach to people in foreign countries over the heads of foreign governments -- focuses disproportionately on "soft" topics, such as values, while shying away from advocating the foreign policies many Muslims don't like and may, in fact, not know enough about.
While both countries say that progress has been made, American officials are finding it hard to stop the longtime flow of money from wealthy Saudis and Saudi-financed charities to people and groups deemed by the United States to be supporting terrorist attacks around the world.
But in the interdependent modern world that the Saudis try to inhabit on a part-time basis, shifting your troubles to others can splash back quickly. The Saudi royal system must now adapt at its very core -- a core built on providing protection money and privilege to obscurantist fanatics -- or endure terminal decline.