Saturday, March 15, 2003

Happy 9th Birthday, Tara !!! I love you VERY much !

Bob Knight's Raiders sent the Longhorns home before the league semifinals for the first time in Barnes' five-year tenure with a bewildering and totally unexpected display of early outside shooting. Now, Texas (22-6) must wait until Sunday's NCAA tournament selection show to see if its upset loss might cost it a No. 1 seed.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, said he was startled by the news that the US Agency for International Development has already been in touch with major corporations to work on contracts for rebuilding Iraq. Democrat Christopher Dodd, another member of the committee, said some US corporate leaders know more about the administration's plans than senators and taxpayers do.

... and this one:

The battle for the first reconstruction contract is only a foretaste of a vast plundering of the oil-rich country by US-based multinationals. This unseemly “scramble for Iraq” even before the invasion has begun is the clearest indication that the impending war is not about “weapons of mass destruction,” terrorism or Saddam Hussein’s regime, but rather about oil, profits and US economic hegemony in the Middle East and beyond.

No, I haven't changed my mind. I'm still a left/center hawk. But this junk is very troubling: the reconstruction bids being extended to American-controlled companies who are extremely connected to the Bush administration; the fake documents; the war-profiteering by military-industrial complex companies (again) connected to the administration; the recent reports, which smell of setup to me, that Saddam is moving troops so that he may be intending to strike first which means that to counter that we have to strike him first (fake border confrontations have started too many wars); etc. etc. etc.

Go get his ass, but: 1) Who profits? and 2) Who benefits in any way, ie. politically, ideologically, etc.?

I don't wanna think about it anymore right now ...

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI on Friday to investigate forged documents the Bush administration used as evidence against Saddam Hussein and his military ambitions in Iraq.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said he was uneasy about a possible campaign to deceive the public about the status of Iraq's nuclear program.
Despite the desire for territory, riches or power that drive most wars, regimes itching to fight almost always find an immediate pretext. When Germany launched its long-prepared blitzkrieg against Poland in 1939, it claimed it was avenging cross-border attacks by Polish soldiers, who seized a German radio station and broadcast hostile statements. Newspapers around the world carried the story. After the war, it was revealed that the attackers were German SS troops dressed in Polish uniforms. As Hermann Goering. commander of the Luftwaffe, said before being sentenced to death at Nuremberg, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. . . . All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
A (faux) Bushie makes a point

:I don't know why you folks are giving our president such a hard time over Irag. It has been widely reported that he is simply doing that which he believes God has told him to do; that's good enough me (and for most Americans) to support the war effort.
At the same time, why is virtually everybody piling on the kidnappers of Elizabeth Smart? According to Wanda Barzee (the woman kidnapper), their actions were a result of revelations dictated by God.
I say that if God commands someone to do something, whether it is to inexplicably attack a country, or to kidnap a child, or whatever, we should all get behind it.i>

``The U.S. is by far the biggest customer of Iraqi oil,'' said Eric Kreil, an analyst at the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. ``Iraqi oil is a pretty good substitute for the Venezuelan grades that were cut off.''
A secret report from the US state department pours cold water on the "domino" theory of democratic change in the Arab world - the idea, promoted by Bush administration hawks, that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq could set off a flourishing of democracy throughout the region. Huge economic and social obstacles would make political change "difficult to achieve for a very long time", the report says, casting doubt on one of the key justifications President George Bush has cited for an attack on Iraq. "Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve," and even if electoral systems were introduced, anti-American feeling runs so strong that they could well elect radical Islamic governments hostile to Washington, according to the report, which was leaked to the Los Angeles Times.
I'm pretty much of the opinion that 'whoever is likely to win in 2004' should get the nomination. But, I do like a guy who says this:

Although details are fuzzy, U.S. intelligence has discovered evidence that Monica Lewinsky is not a RNC operative at all, but is in fact believed to be Azzah al Nuzhah, a transgendered Iraqi agent trained in seduction and espionage, sent to exploit a morally corrupt Massive Weapon of Distraction as a tool of Saddam's bidding.

The Bush administration says it is planning major changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for beneficiaries to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing home care.
George Bush promised to revolutionize public education when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act last year. But his failure to finance the law properly has discouraged recession-strapped states from embracing it fully. His administration has further endangered the reform by emphasizing peripheral parts of the law that win points from religious conservatives while ignoring vital provisions. The Department of Education seems more interested in promoting prayer in the schools — and giving religious groups access to federal education dollars — than in pursuing the most crucial part of the reform, which is providing every child with a "highly qualified" teacher by 2006.
Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "At each stage what Iraq does is introduce concessions which are cynically calculated and calibrated to be the minimum possible to create diversion and discussion in the international community, but to avoid enforcement against them."
"The number one concern is the impact [Iraq] is having on the economy and the harness it's putting around certain sectors and causing negative growth," GOP strategist Scott Reed said. "It's reaching into all nooks and corners, and causing great concern in both corporate boardrooms and small businesses and their bankers." If consumer confidence and employment are not growing substantially by early next year, Bush's reelection could be jeopardized. "The conventional wisdom is: People need to sense that the economy is growing in a way that's benefiting average people's lives anywhere from four to eight months in advance of an election, so that optimism has truly sunk in," said Gene Sperling, who was President Bill Clinton's economic adviser.
In response, the Pentagon began moving warships from the eastern Mediterranean, where they had been loitering pending the Turkish decision. Several U.S. ships capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles sailed toward the Suez Canal, apparently heading toward a zone where the missiles could be fired without passing through Turkish airspace.
President Bush's two bold steps Friday -- announcing a last-ditch summit with Britain and Spain and pledging to release the "road map" soon for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement -- effectively signal the breakdown of diplomacy on Iraq, U.S. officials and analysts say.

"Do they expect us to believe this is new thinking on the peace process? It's not credible. Bush did this to help the British and to indirectly recognize that world opinion believes that progress on (the) peace process is essential to get through the Iraq transition in the least violent and tumultuous way possible," said Ellen Laipson, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council and now president of the Henry L. Stimson Center.
As the military commander in chief, the president will have virtually unlimited power to change and rebuild Iraq as he sees fit, far greater power, for example, than Queen Victoria's over India in the 19th century.
TONY BLAIR has been called ''Bush's poodle'' for his support of the war in Iraq. He may be headed for the pound unless George W. Bush can do some fancy footwork and perhaps eat a little humble pie to rescue him. Blair would be politically terminal if either his party or the Tory opposition had a horse to run against him. Neither does, and the Tories support Bush and Blair on the war. His devotion to the cause is as fanatical as that of the founders of the curious policy of America the Bully, the doctrine invented in 1998 by some hard-breathing, hard-hat nationalists, many of whom are running the government these days. Their open letter to President Clinton, which urged regime change in Iraq and sounds as if it were written in a treehouse, is a declaration of independence from what Jefferson called ''a decent respect to the opinions of mankind'': America should do whatever it wants in the world, a formula eagerly adopted by our Texas chief of state.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, there really is very little question at this point that the documents are forgeries and the question at this point is why did the United States pass them off to the United Nations as being worthy of any kind of seriousness?

ENSOR (voice-over): For the Bush administration and for U.S. intelligence, the matter of the apparently forged documents on Iraq pursuing African uranium is turning into a world class embarrassment.

RAY CLOSE, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I'm sure that the FBI and the CIA must be mortified by this, because it's extremely embarrassing to them.

ENSOR: The question is why did the U.S. and the British government pass on to the International Atomic Energy Agency documents which the IAEA officials say are obvious forgeries, passed on as evidence Iraq might have tried to buy 500 tons of uranium in Niger?

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: It was provided in good faith to the inspectors and our agency received it in good faith, not participating, if that's the suggestion of your question, in any way in any falsification activities.

ENSOR: Knowledgeable sources tell CNN one of the documents purports to be a letter signed by Tandjia Mamadou, the president of Niger, talking about the uranium deal with Iraq. On it, a childlike signature that is clearly not his. Another, written on paper from a 1980s military government in Niger, bears the date of October 2000 and the signature of a man who by then had not been foreign minister of Niger for 14 years.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: The IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are, in fact, not authentic. ENSOR: A former CIA operations official says the Central Intelligence Agency should have known better.

CLOSE: They have tremendously sophisticated and experienced people in their technical services division who wouldn't allow a forgery like this to get by. I mean it's just, it's mystifying to me. I can't understand it.

ENSOR: A U.S. intelligence official says the documents were passed on to the IAEA with the comment, "We don't know the provenance of this information, but here it is." If a mistake was made, a U.S. official suggested, it was more likely incompetence, not malice.

CLOSE: That's a convenient explanation but it doesn't satisfy me because incompetence I have not seen in those agencies. I've seen plenty of malice, but I've never seen incompetence.

ENSOR: What makes the matter all the more embarrassing is that the African uranium plot was highlighted by the president himself.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

ENSOR: U.S. officials say that assertion by the president and the British was also based on additional evidence of Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from another African country. The other countries on that continent that have uranium deposits are Namibia, Gabon and South Africa. U.S. officials would not say which one, but they say that additional evidence was also passed on to the IAEA -- Bill.

HEMMER: Obvious question here, David, as you go forward, trying to figure all this out, who made these apparent forgeries, then?

ENSOR: No one knows, and it's a bit of a mystery. But some of the experts say that the suspects have to include the intelligence services of Iraq's neighbors and other pro-war nations, as well as, of course, Iraqi opposition groups. Most rule out the U.S. or Britain, which, if they wanted to make forgeries, could have made much more convincing ones. U.S. officials are saying that they got the documents from the intelligence service of another country, which was not Britain and was not Israel, which they will not name -- Bill.

HEMMER: The riddle continues.

David Ensor in Washington.

David, thanks.

Friday, March 14, 2003


Last week, I started off my ''Survivor'' column by taking about what idiots the women were. (That's what you get for voting off your strongest player instead of a person who can barely walk.) So, now I have a problem. With Heidi continuing to prove that she just may be the dumbest breast-enhanced broad on the planet (and trust me, that's saying something), I've been sort of backed into a corner.

Hey! I like Heidi! She's very cute. Very very cute and, I think, has a good heart under those fake abominations. Speaking of which, an oldie but a goodie:

Why do you do this to yourselves? Stop desecrating your body. It is beautiful as it is. If any dolt of a guy actually likes fake tits he's so much of a knuckle-dragging ape he should probably be shot (It is a mercy killing.). Honestly, fake tits suck! I cannot emphasize how much I despise fakies and the dumb [Ed. note: He said that, not me!] superficial people who would ruin their bodies by making themselves into a cartoon character. Unless you have had breast cancer or so degenerative a disease whereby you actually need these things stop being such fucks. Fake tits are the ultimate in self hatred. You indicate your inability to love yourself, you declare your conformity and lack of all independent thought, and further toss yourself out as someone not to be taken seriously as you will acquiesce to whatever you perceive that society expects or wants from you. Stop trying to fit in or be what you think people want. People hate fucking posers and cheeseballs. Be you. You're fucking beautiful. Hard crunchy cantaloupe like tits are not good.

I stand by that. But I like Heidi. She's soooooo cute. I love her weird facial expressions. Reminds me of someone I used to know. And even though I think I'm rooting for Deena, I hope Heidi goes far. Why? She's sooooooo cute! Not in the same league with the PGOAT, of course.

But then, who is?

UPDATE: I hate Dave the most. And I hate Roger. And Shawna. And Jenna. And all the rest of the guys. I admire the fact that Alex cleaned himself up w/r/t substance abuse but going for Shawna killed that.

I like Deena, Heidi and Christy. And that's it!

This Times piece on liberal hawks is so two weeks ago. Didn't anyone tell them Josh Marshall's switched sides? And Kevin Drum too! I mean, who are these people? Joseph Nye, Michael Nacht, Michael Ignatieff, Kenneth Pollack, Joseph Nye, Elie Wiesel — none of them even have blogs! If they wanted to quote someone important, they should have quoted me. Bastards.

They didn't call me, either, Matt.
Josh Marshall. More wisdom.

The real story here, however, is the unmistakable cloud of desperation and bumbling that surrounds this announcement. Little more than a week ago, when the scope of the diplomatic train wreck wasn't quite so evident, the White House floated word that the whole Middle East peace process was on ice until we'd finished everything we were going to do in Iraq.

What's so sad and revealing and pathetic about this is that it's only at the eleventh hour and the fifty-ninth minute that the White House realizes that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is one of the moving parts involved in dealing with Iraq. On the whole world stage we're watching the president and his crew driving at eighty miles an hour into a brick wall called reality. Too bad we're in the car with them.
But what if things fall apart diplomatically, the war doesn't go all that well or post-Saddam Iraq turns into a chaotic and expensive mess? Will the human urge to deflect blame trump the orderly bureaucracy that Bush has built? Or will we have to wait for the memoirs to find out who's been shouting at whom behind closed doors?
....I did a little web surfing after I wrote the post about Ginny Brown-Waite, the congresswoman who's introducing a bill to dig up all the soldiers buried in France and Belgium and ship them back to the United States.

Another idiot. Lots of idiots scampering merrily around these days, both left and right.
Atrios, Hagel is a pretty erratic politician who likes to shoot off his mouth loudly in any direction he goes. Sometimes he shoots it off in the right direction.

He's a Vietnam vet who's seen the cost of grandiose policies imposed from DC and oblivious to foreign local history and realities on the ground. And once he's made up his mind on whatever, he's very impatient with people who do jester's tricks around the periphery of what he thinks are stupid policies.

Again, I like Chuck Hagel. I wish Chuck Hagel was a Democrat. Him and McCain.

Freedom fries, anyone?
Proponents say the measure would curb the escalating costs of malpractice insurance, which has prompted many doctors and some hospitals to close. Opponents say it would simply benefit powerful health care groups while preventing citizens from claiming their due in court if they are harmed by wrongful medical actions.

More political payback. Dictated by the health “industry”. Probably written by their lawyers and lobbyists.

One of my greatest fears about war with Iraq is the public-robbing legislation the Republicans will try to sneak by under the cover of war. They did it immediately post-9/11. Why not do it now? You watch.

And anyway, what Washington gives away in tax cuts will be taken back by the states. The federal tax cuts will mainly benefit the wealthy. The burden of state tax increases will fall primarily on the middle class. And the program cuts the states make will especially hurt the poor.
Looming war in Iraq and rising layoffs battered U.S. consumer sentiment to its lowest level in more than a decade in early March as widespread economic gloom shows few signs of lifting any time soon.
The anti-American demonstrations here have suddenly gone poof. U.S. soldiers are walking the streets of Seoul again without looking over their shoulders. The official line from the South Korean government is: Yankees stay here.

Glad they're coming to their senses.
It's too late to threaten North Korea with war. They have the bomb. It is not too late to negotiate. The North Koreans are demanding direct, ''knee-to-knee'' negotiations, as the North Koreans say, with the United States. We, crying nuclear blackmail, say we will talk only in an international framework including China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea.
“Freepers Are Terrorists”

Hey, they said it here.
The group released a statement Thursday saying they have been overseas for several weeks and ``the anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost.''

What is the big deal? Freedom of expression is what the U.S. is all about. All these fascists bitching and moaning and being incredibly nasty to/about “Hollywood” making “anti-American” statements are just that: fascists. We have room for any and every opinion in this country.
The Republicans, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and George V. Voinovich of Ohio, joined two Democrats, Max Baucus of Montana and John B. Breaux of Louisiana, to send a letter to their parties' Senate leaders stating that they were committed to vote against any tax cut beyond $350 billion unless it was offset by tax increases elsewhere or specific spending decreases.
While Mr. Powell may be convinced now that war is the best option, he is nevertheless furious, associates say, at Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom he blames in private for making diplomacy difficult by hurling insults at France and Germany, whose good will he has been trying to win. Mr. Rumsfeld's recent comments that the war could be waged without Britain, though retracted, were another blow, in the secretary's view.
"Diplomacy is slipping away, and Rumsfeld needs some duct tape put over his mouth, but Powell is not coming unglued," a friend of the secretary said. "He's comfortable with the policy of using force as a last resort."

A senior European diplomat said he was convinced that the choice of starting a war this spring was made for political as well as military reasons. Mr. Bush, this diplomat said, clearly does not want to have a war raging on the eve of his presumed re-election campaign.
President Bush is motivated to invade Iraq partly, I believe, by a deeply felt horror of Saddam's repression. But if our claims to be acting on behalf of the people of Iraq are to have credibility and moral legitimacy, we must try to stop Kurds from being slaughtered not only by our enemies in Baghdad, but also by our friends in Ankara. And we should certainly not acquiesce in such steps as a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq, which could trigger a new spiral of clashes and repression in Turkey.
Mr. Bush's inner circle seems amazed that the tactics that work so well on journalists and Democrats don't work on the rest of the world. They've made promises, oblivious to the fact that most countries don't trust their word. They've made threats. They've done the aura-of-inevitability thing — how many times now have administration officials claimed to have lined up the necessary votes in the Security Council? They've warned other countries that if they oppose America's will they are objectively pro-terrorist. Yet still the world balks.
But snippets of private, furtive conversations reveal unease beneath that veneer of unity. Some here worry that a US bombing campaign will instead cause Iraqis to turn on one another, leading to widespread street violence, robbery, looting, and clashes among religious and tribal rivals. And they are preparing themselves - and arming themselves - to protect relatives and property.
The March moon becomes full on Tuesday and starts diminishing each night until April 1, and for American forces, who have long boasted that they ''own the night,'' the darker the better.
According to a number of those in attendance at the closed-door briefing at the Pentagon, Marine General Peter Pace said that while he would rather launch an invasion ''tomorrow'' if President Bush gives the order, waiting a month to invade in hotter weather would slow down US forces but not necessarily cause greater casualties.
That vision includes encouraging internal rebellion in Iran to oust the clerics from power and pressing Syria to end its support for radical Islamic and Palestinian groups. It also entails far-reaching social engineering projects, such as educational reform in Egypt to cleanse schoolbooks of Islamic influence and promote a more favorable image of Israel.

In the respected Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a leading hawk, was quoted last month as telling Israeli officials that Iran would be ''dealt with'' after the war with Iraq. Bolton declined requests for an interview.
The apparent defeat of the resolution would be a stunning diplomatic setback for President Bush and his closest partner, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. U.S. officials have made it clear that they only agreed to pursue a second resolution at the request of Blair, who needed the imprimatur of the Security Council for a war against Iraq to shore up political support at home. But the failure to win all but a handful of votes for military action is an unusually public rebuff of the United States.

U.S. officials also began laying the groundwork today for Bush to reverse his pledge to call for a Security Council vote, no matter how bad the vote count looked, because "it's time for people to show their cards." Under one scenario, the administration could say the resolution was being withdrawn at the request of the co-sponsors, Britain and Spain.
Officials said Iraq had violated the terms of the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf war by refusing to destroy its chemical and biological weapons. Disarming Iraq by force, they said, could be seen as simply a resumption of the Gulf war.
Prime Minister Blair painted an even bleaker picture of unraveling diplomatic efforts, saying that a second resolution on Iraq "is now less likely than at any time" and the prospects of war "more likely."
The calling of an extraordinary weekend session of parliament appeared to have raised US hopes that the government was moving towards a second vote.
However, there is no such vote on the agenda and the session is expected to concentrate on putting the new government in place.
Turkey has negotiated a huge financial compensation package from the US if the deployment goes ahead, but public opinion is not in favour.
Correspondents say that Mr Erdogan, named as prime minister earlier this week, may not wish to be seen flouting public opinion or the will of parliament by pushing too hard for the deployment.
President Bush will travel to Portugal's Azores islands, about 900 miles west of the European mainland, to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in a "final pursuit" of a U.N. resolution on disarming Iraq, the White House said.
"In an effort to pursue every last bit of diplomacy the president will depart Sunday morning for the discuss prospects for resolving the situation peacefully with diplomacy in final pursuit of a United Nations resolution," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

... and in the same article:

French President Jacques Chirac, who has threatened to veto any U.N. resolution sanctioning war, told Blair on Friday that Paris was ready to seek a compromise about disarming Iraq but rejected any ultimatum leading to war.

President George W Bush has said the United States will publish the long-delayed road map for peace as soon as the Palestinian Authority appoints a prime minister "with real authority".
In a brief statement to the press at the White House, he said he expected that to take place soon.

What the hell is this about?

Theory: It is a concession to someone as a pre-condition for Gulf War II. Probably to Blair. Maybe to some of the fence-sitting 6 on the Security Council. Interesting development.

DOBBS: Author Christopher Hitchens says it's well past time for regime change in Iraq. Hitchens says that Saddam Hussein has been pushing this current confrontation for a mere 12 years.

Christopher Hitchens is, of course, "Vanity Fair's" columnist, an extraordinary writer and journalistic talent, author. And joins us tonight from our studios in Los Angeles. Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: The United Nations Security Council making a decision just moments ago there will be no vote on a second resolution on Iraq this week. Your reaction?

HITCHENS: Well, those of us who take the regime change position, as it's become known, have held it for a very, very long time. And so really the way the argument's become muddied by certain kinds of diplomacy and especially by calls for more time is time wasting, from our point of view.

To the independent observer, it must be more extraordinary that Saddam Hussein has been in breach of all known resolutions, and much besides, for 12 years and that he's now being told it's time to decide.

So people who say this is a rush to war or a drum beat or a drive are simply abolishing the history of this question, which is that Mr. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, refused all diplomatic overtures to give him an easy exit, blew up the Kuwaiti oil fields while he was leaving them behind under a truce, which shows he doesn't understand rationality or diplomacy or containment, and has a tremendous thirst for the weapons of genocide to pursue the policy of ethnocide that he's already been able to successfully, I'm sad to say, been allowed to get away with in Kyrgyzstan.

Who wants more time for him? More time means he could join the club that Kim Jong-Il of North Korea now belongs to, the club of those who have deterrent force. And Mr. Kim Jong-Il got there with the help of Mr. Hans Blix, I might remind you.

DOBBS: Let me...

HITCHENS: ... who certified him, inspected him, gave him more time, and said he was in compliance. Anyone who believes this kind of thing, is just advertising their willingness to believe anything.

DOBBS: Well, as you said, they are advertising their belief and their opinion. The critics of the Bush administration and the British government on this issue say there's been -- on the part of this administration, certainly too much of an attempted connection between September 11, the war against terror, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

How do you respond to those critics?

HITCHENS: A few years ago, the name Abu Nidal, I'm sure you'll remember, was almost as well-known as Osama bin Laden. The pseudonym for international gangsterism. Abu Nidal had blown up, if you'll recall, Rome airport, Vienna airport, had assassinated four or five very important Palestinian democrats, had murdered the Israeli ambassadors to London, which helped provoke the war in Lebanon. He was the so-called terror master. I went to interview him, and I think I'm the only journalist around except for Jim Hogan of the "Washington Post" who's had that experience. Well, it wasn't hard to find him. He had telephone number and a villa in Baghdad, as all people like him have always had had there.

If, by any chance, it's the case that the Iraqi party is not supporting or doesn't have a secret understanding with al Qaeda, it would be the first time they hadn't tried that.

And if that is the case, then it would be surprising to find -- or rather unsurprising to find that so many of the al Qaeda refugees in Afghanistan have shown up in Baghdad -- This is important, by the way, Mr. Dobbs -- not before September 11, but after.

In other words, here's a regime that will give them safe hiding places, hospitals, treatment, and safe corner after their attacks on -- not on America, I should add, but on the civilized world, on September 11.

This is a regime that lives on its partnership with and boasts of its partnership with the suicide bombers in Palestine, with every other gangster in the region. Those who say there's no terror connection simply don't know what they're talking about.

DOBBS: And amongst those who are obviously asserting that case are, in particular, the French, who have been helpful in a war against terror. Not helpful to this administration in pursuing an Iraqi policy.

The French position, the German position, that of the Belgians, adamantly opposed to support of the U.S. resolution...

HITCHENS: Not of the U.S. resolution, if I may say so. I mean, Chancellor Schroeder, for example, was helpful enough to say some weeks ago he didn't mind how the U.N. voted. It would make no difference to his policy or that of Germany. His policy wouldn't change whatever the vote was. Mr. Chirac has said the same thing.

I think that should be better understood than it is. These are the true unilateralists, if you like, especially the French. It's also true, as your previous segment helpfully pointed out, that the French policy is the oil-driven one. The French policy is the one that is individual and won't allow any other countries to mandate it or even shape its policy.

DOBBS: Is it your...

HITCHEN: There are elements of President Bush's presentation that I must admit alarm me.

When he says al Qaeda is attacking America, it seems to me stupid. The al Qaeda forces surely, as the Iraqi Ba'ath party, are common enemies of any civilized country or society. It's not an attack on America, it's unilateralist to say so. But of the two unilateralisms, the French is the most selfish and the most colonial and the most -- after all, the French invade Africa every day of the year without asking for anyone's permission. They let off nuclear weapons in the Pacific in the atmosphere without asking for permission.

The French position is the more dangerous, the more sinister, and the more colonial one.

DOBBS: And likely to change? In a few seconds we have remaining.

HITCHENS: And morally different, I would say. For one reason, really, most of us came to this argument this way.

One policy keeps Saddam Hussein in power and asks for that regime to have its life prolonged. What morally serious person can say this national socialist, aggressive genocidal regime should have a longer life and not a shorter one?

In the end, the United States policy, after making many mistakes and blunders, has come out at least morally on the right side. And the French are with Saddam Hussein. They'll have to live with that.

DOBBS: Christopher Hitchens, "Vanity Fair," thank you very much for being with us. Come back soon.

HITCHENS: Thank for having me.

Thursday, March 13, 2003


Tara says Elizabeth Smart is pretty.

Well, she may be, when she grows up (and let's hope she grows up fine and well and is not damaged), but she certainly won't be in the league of the PGOAT.

Then again, who is?
"With the darkness that surrounds us, in these times of the possibility of war that could be coming upon us, a miracle has been brought to us," said David Smart, Elizabeth Smart's uncle. "An incredible miracle has been brought to our family. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the prayers around the world. Do miracles still exist? The answer is yes and we have Elizabeth back."

Well said. It was some good news when we needed some good news. And you don't have a heart if you weren't affected by it.

So now we have Daryl Worley - whose personal photographer must have a degree in Fashion Photography - singing about September 11. The song falls into my special category reserved for songs like Christmas Shoes (What if momma meets Jesus tonight?); I call them flesh-eating songs. See the skin-crawling thing above.

I equate it with Lee Greenwood’s opus which I will not mention. It’s just so PHONY.
Still, the proportions are striking: Nationally, 43 percent of unmarried couples living together are raising children, nearly matching the 46 percent figure for the nation's married couples. And the trend is climbing for unmarried couples, while it is becoming less common for married couples to have children living with them.

Studies show that children of live-in couples are more at risk for behavioral and academic problems, but Urban Institute researcher Gregory Acs said that may be because their parents are often poorer and less educated than married couples, not because they are living together without a marriage license.

The Baptist in me raises its head.
Jim Hightower has a blog.
Pretentious, but interesting:

All we need to do is pay attention to what the Internet really is. It's not hard. The Net isn't rocket science. It isn't even 6th grade science fair, when you get right down to it. We can end the tragedy of Repetitive Mistake Syndrome in our lifetimes — and save a few trillion dollars’ worth of dumb decisions — if we can just remember one simple fact: the Net is a world of ends. You're at one end, and everybody and everything else are at the other ends.
According to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS, 42 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein of Iraq was personally responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, something that has never even been claimed by the Bush administration. According to a poll conducted by ABC, 55 percent believe Saddam Hussein gives direct support to Al Qaeda, a claim that has been made by the administration but for which no evidence has ever been presented. President Bush has lately modified the claim to "Al Qaeda-type" organizations. This is how well journalism has done its job in the months leading up to this war. A disgraceful performance.

Afraid to take a question from an 82-year-old woman? George W. Bush has no class. Equally disgusting was the White house press corps' failure to respond to the insult. What makes that bunch of smug chumps think it won't be done to any one of them?
Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. – Hermann Goering

Bartcop brought this to my attention. Makes ya think, huh?

Bartcop is riled up about this.

And says: As I was typing that, James Miklachevski (sp) of whore MSNBC said Iraq's oil would be used
to pay for these repairs. As guaranteed on this page many times for many months, Bush is going to
steal that oil and claim he's using those billions to rebuild Iraq, but there will be no accounting.
It's the biggest theft in history, done right under our noses - and who can stop them?
That's the ONLY reason we're invading Iraq, to fill the never-full-enough coffers of the B.F.E.E.

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

I repeat: I want to read the Thomas Pynchon novelization.

Stress Toy for Warhawks
Antiwar protesters burned and ripped up flags, flowers and patriotic signs at a Sept. 11 memorial that residents erected on a fence along Whittier Boulevard days after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and have maintained ever since.

For once I agree with Cold Fury.
Either way, the point is the same: there's a reason why "diplomatic" does double-service as a synonym for "polite" and anyone who goes around making remarks about foreign policy as part of his job working for the US government ought to think long and hard about that before he opens his mouth.

Matt is a very bright kid. I mean, really.

Yeah, all that bothers me, too; but isn’t all this a tad naïve?
Get Your War On
Hey, I like CalPundit.
CalPundit has George Bush Sr.'s speech at Tufts University covered from all angles here.
CalPundit lays it all out:

As near as I can tell, here are the (highly condensed) relevant facts:

 Lots of neocons are Jewish.
 Neocons are rabidly pro-Israel.
 It is reasonable to infer that they are pro-Israel largely because they are Jewish.
 They have a strong influence in the current administration.
 Lots of people have a strong distaste for the whole neocon agenda of remaking the Middle East in America's image.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) told a group of more than 150 Orthodox Jewish leaders from around the country yesterday that the Democratic Party "appears to countenance remarks like those made by Representative Moran in the past few weeks."

It is still early in the session, and Dr. Frist's popularity will inevitably diminish once the major legislative battles begin. At some point, to get bills passed in a narrowly divided Senate, Dr. Frist will have to broker compromises that are likely to alienate party factions that have put their hopes in him. Some Republicans express a mild concern that he sometimes seems to agree with everyone he talks to, and may not sufficiently exert his independence from the White House, which backed his ascension.
For Democrats, the House budget document provides what they see as the clearest statement yet of the cost of Bush's tax cuts. Democrats and their allies call the House proposal "Robin Hood in reverse," saying it would cut programs for the poor and elderly to make room for a tax cut on investment dividends that largely benefits the wealthy.
"This budget would have made even [former House speaker] Newt Gingrich blush," said Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), conjuring up the budget battles of the 1990s. "Even Gingrich wouldn't have dared to reward wealthy investors at a time of recession and war while asking the rest of America for painful sacrifice."
While being careful to say that he feels President Bush is sincere in his pursuit of U.N. support, Clinton added: "The question is, do they want the support bad enough to let Mr. Blix finish his work and give enough time to do that?"

Personally, I think the Big Dog should have kept his mouth shut.
Mr. Powell, however, according to diplomats who have talked to him, is cautioning that it would be better to scrap the vote entirely than to go to war against the expressed wishes of a majority of the Security Council.
The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.

Hmmmmmmmm ...
1441 laid bare.

None of this exonerates the Iraqis, who have clearly lied, cheated, and deceived the rest of the world at every chance. Nor does it excuse the French, who have exploited every loophole to evade the fundamental questions of how to deal effectively with Iraq's misbehavior.
Among friends, Clarke is skeptical that the coming war with Iraq is integral to the war on terrorism, as the White House maintains. He describes it as a diversion of scarce resources and a wedge between Washington and critical allies in destroying al Qaeda. Until late last year, he has said, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would not have been among the top suspects should al Qaeda manage to acquire a weapon of mass destruction. Now, with Hussein's regime on the brink of falling, he will.
France, China and Syria all have a common reason for keeping American and British troops out of Iraq: the three nations may not want the world to discover that their nationals have been illicitly supplying Saddam Hussein with materials used in building long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Yeah, I know it's Safire. But I still believe it. I've believed it all along.
Mr. de Villepin said France rejected the "logic of ultimatums," and added in a statement: "It's not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before committing to using force. It's about making resolute progress towards peaceful disarmament, as mapped out by inspections that offer a credible alternative to war."

I hate this guy.
The children in Iraq are already in sorrowful shape. The last thing in the world they need is another war. More than half the population of Iraq is under the age of 18, and those youngsters are living in an environment that has been poisoned by the Iran-Iraq war, the first gulf war and long years of debilitating sanctions.
One out of every eight Iraqi children dies before the age of 5. One-fourth are born underweight. One-fourth of those who should be in school are not. One-fourth do not have access to safe water.
This generational catastrophe is the fault of Saddam Hussein, no question. But those who favor war should at least realize that the terrain to be invaded by the most fearsome military machine in history is populated mostly by children who are already suffering.

At the United Nations, the Spanish envoy, Inocencio Arias, said in an interview that recent comments by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld had been "enormously counterproductive" in the campaign to win support for the resolution. Mr. Rumsfeld said on Tuesday that the United States could proceed in a war without Britain. He quickly backed off the suggestion that Britain would not fight alongside the United States, and this morning the White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said he expected that England would contribute "militarily" to any war against Mr. Hussein.

No shit. Rummy and Shrubs big, bad, muy macho mouths have done more damage than troop deployments.
George W. Bush, it turns out, is actually Gollum.
I'll be more charitable and call this simply a difference of opinion. Taranto, and those who believe as he does, see the decapitation of the Iraqi government as the linchpin of international peace and security. We see it as extremely important, but a means to creating a more stable, safer world order. Fundamentally, we see the preservation of our key alliances and standing in the world, indeed the 'world security system' itself as even more important than Iraq. And when we see the president destroying those to get into Iraq, we have little choice but to say he's on the wrong track.


As to the question of giddiness, one simply can't compete with the young war-hawks of the right in this department. I mean, it's just not possible, is it? Speaking for myself, and perhaps for some other internationalists who feel as I do, part of our frustrated anger over the current impasse is watching the present administration traduce and plow under the work of half a century and seeing the administration's acolytes greet every new disaster and *&$#-up as a grand confirmation of their beliefs and principles. It's like we've been transported into some alternative reality where the debate about international relations is some awful mix of The McLaughlin Group and Lord of the Flies. As these folks should be starting to realize about now, months of this arrogant mumbo-jumbo eventually draws a response -- at home and abroad.

Josh is one of the more level-headed "left/centrist" thinkers out there, and I'm with him on every point here. [Go read it all.] But ... I'm less of an internationalist than he is. More of an internationalist than, say, your average American conservative, but less than what Josh is talking about here.

I worry about the perception of American weakness if we are forced to stand down now. [Although I still don't believe Bush will stand down.] The perception of America as a "paper tiger", as both bin Laden and Saddam have referred to us in the past, is not one we can allow to persist.

Yet I'm conflicted, yes. I think Bush has painted himself and us along with him into a corner and I wish it hadn't happened. Yet, I still don't see how we can stand down. I don't think it's possible at this stage. If that's macho, so be it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Finally some good news, and a lesson: Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped last June in Salt Lake, found ALIVE and in apparent good health, in a suburb only 13 miles from her home.

Apparently some freak kidnapped her and drug her around the country with him for these past 9 months. I had Faux News on and the guy's ex-wife called in and said he was a pedophile, although I guess that's conjecture at this point. God knows what the poor kid has been through but she's alive.

So the lesson: Never give up hope. Never quit. Never say die. Because you never know ... If you've lost someone dear to you, maybe, just maybe, they may turn up. But don't quit!

Thanks for some good news for a change, Lord.
Officials from China's Ministry of Culture has ordered the group not to play "Honky Tonk Woman", "Beast of Burden", "Brown Sugar" and "Let's Spend the Night Together."

"Sympathy For the Devil" is OK?

For Lane, the time (Oscar night, March 23) and place (Hollywood's Kodak Theatre) are finally arriving after a 32-year acting career that ignited with a TIME cover at age 14 and has been simmering quietly ever since. With her Best Actress nod for "Unfaithful," a marital drama driven by Lane's raw, passionate turn as a cheating wife, the 38-year-old star is A-list at last. "I never dared to dream this big," she says. "I just didn't go there."

She won't win, but Diane Lane is a good kid ("Lonesome Dove", remember?) and paralyzingly gorgeous to boot, although she's no PGOAT. Then again, who is?

Statistics do indicate that, overwhelmingly, the majority of prostitutes come from abused families and are abused on the job. In 1991, the local Council for Prostitution Alternatives stated that 85 percent of prostitutes reported history of sexual abuse in childhood and 70 percent reported incest. The same report indicated that "78 percent of women who sought help from the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in 1991 reported being raped an average of 16 times a year by pimps, and were raped 33 times a year by John[s]." Another study, conducted in 1994 by the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in Portland, reported that 85 percent of prostitutes are raped by pimps.

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

Testify, Brother Digby, testify!
Some also hint there's been a subtle shift to the right as a result of the ascension of Fox News. Magazine writers complain about corporate constraints at a time when ad revenues are plunging. The right is very well organized, they say, and not inhibited about complaining.

No shit. MSNBC is openly going after the wingnut audience.
There's been a debate recently over whether it's somehow anti-Semitic to discuss the fact that the president's foreign policy team is heavily weighted with a number of advisors -- a number of them Jewish -- who are big supporters of the Sharon government in Israel and that these advisors have been decisive in pushing the case for war within the administration. (Let's not forget that two of these advisors are Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who are -- in case you didn't know it -- not members of the tribe.) As Mike Kinsley said recently, "It is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it." Lawrence Kaplan notwithstanding, it's a real issue.
There's been a debate recently over whether it's somehow anti-Semitic to discuss the fact that the president's foreign policy team is heavily weighted with a number of advisors -- a number of them Jewish -- who are big supporters of the Sharon government in Israel and that these advisors have been decisive in pushing the case for war within the administration. (Let's not forget that two of these advisors are Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who are -- in case you didn't know it -- not members of the tribe.) As Mike Kinsley said recently, "It is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it." Lawrence Kaplan notwithstanding, it's a real issue.
At the request of the government, a federal judge has dismissed a suit against a contractor for the nation's antimissile defense system. The judge agreed with the government's contention that national security would be endangered if the suit went forward.
The Bush press conference to me was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism, a final announcement that the press no longer performs anything akin to a real function. Particularly revolting was the spectacle of the cream of the national press corps submitting politely to the indignity of obviously pre-approved questions, with Bush not even bothering to conceal that the affair was scripted.
The war would begin with a regime-shattering thunderclap. "It's hard to imagine that Saddam could have any idea of what he's in store for," Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, told TIME last week. "There's no way he can survive," says Levin, who recently visited U.S. forces in the region. "It's too massive."
The Iraqi military would stand largely defenseless before this onslaught. U.S. tanks could destroy Iraqi tanks before the Iraqi tanks could even detect the American armor. B-2 bombers fly beyond the reach of Iraqi guns, and invading U.S. troops should be able to drive around flaming, oil-filled ditches or other defensive measures; U.S. troops call them speed bumps. If the Iraqis elect to stand and fight, the Pentagon fears, they would unleash hidden stores of chemical and biological weapons on advancing U.S. troops.
The family of a woman who died in the West Warwick, R.I., nightclub fire contends in a lawsuit that two large corporations are partly responsible, Anheuser-Busch and Clear Channel Communications.

Go for who's got the money. Shameful.
I hate to admit it, but Hashimite control makes some perverse sense, assuming we ignore the hideous human costs of war. Obviously, the Saudis won’t mind having their cousins controlling the Iraqi oil fields. The 5M Jordanians get a lot richer, the 25M Iraqis would get only slightly poorer. Jordan provides Iraq with a relatively liberal democracy, almost evenly balanced between Shiias and Sunnis. Hell, the new Jordan-Iraq might even be willing to take over the West Bank, eliminating the need to deal with Arafat and the PA.
More ambitiously, Gaddafi wants his country to be the first to be removed from the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring states. To succeed, he must convince U.S. authorities that he has forsworn terrorism. U.S. officials signaled their wariness last year by alleging that Libya is trying to establish nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

The Colonel (what kind of dictator makes himself only a colonel?) seems to be running scared.
The existence of al Qaeda, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are part of the price the United States has paid to contain Saddam Hussein.
The link is clear and direct. Since 1991 the United States has had forces in Saudi Arabia. Those forces are there for one purpose only: to defend the kingdom (and its neighbors) from Iraqi attack. If Saddam Hussein had either fallen from power in 1991 or fulfilled the terms of his cease-fire agreement and disarmed, U.S. forces would have left Saudi Arabia.
But Iraqi defiance forced the United States to stay, and one consequence was dire and direct. Osama bin Laden founded al Qaeda because U.S. forces stayed in Saudi Arabia.
This is the link between Saddam Hussein's defiance of international law and the events of Sept. 11; it is clear and compelling. No Iraqi violations, no Sept. 11.
As the world's attention shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, word of the outsiders spread, first to the Kurdish militia fighters arrayed in trenches facing the enclave, then to the U.S. intelligence teams in northern Iraq. Now, as a U.S. invasion force gathers to fight a war against Iraq, Kurdish officials say the Ansar enclave will be destroyed as part of the larger conflict.
The U.S. government intends to pay the salaries of 2 million or more Iraqi bureaucrats and soldiers to help stabilize Iraq after the fall of President Saddam Hussein, Pentagon officials said yesterday in revealing new details of a broad strategy to occupy and rebuild the country.
The fact that President Bush stresses his Christian faith has given Muslim fundamentalists inside Iraq new ammunition to use against the Christian community here, one of the world's oldest. In recent decades it has shrunk to under a million, or less than 3 percent of Iraq's 24 million people.
"The fanatics in Iraq are using it as an excuse to act against the Christians," Bishop Warduni said. He said Christians are unsettled about the possibility of attacks against them, especially if any war results in the kind of violent anarchy that southern Iraq experienced after the Persian Gulf war.
Operationalizing this philosophy, by all accounts, is not easy. When it comes to Iraq's ground forces the basic goal is what allied planners call "capitulation," that is taking the surrender of Iraq's forces and ensuring that they stay out of the fray. Toward that end, land war commanders have been drafting procedures so that Iraq units can signal their intention not to fight, steps like parking their armor and moving away from their vehicles. Iraqi troops that do so may be allowed to look after themselves and may not even be taken a prisoner, an arrangement U.S. commanders would welcome since it would relieve them of the need to shepherd tens of thousand of Iraqi troops.
Perhaps the hawks' fixation on being the messiahs of the Middle East has unhinged them. I could just picture Wolfy sauntering down the road to Baghdad with our new ally Harvey, his very own pooka, a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit that the U.S. wants to put on the U.N. Security Council.

Mo has been really bitchy lately.
My main criticism of President Bush is that he has failed to acknowledge how unusual this war of choice is — for both Americans and the world — and therefore hasn't offered the bold policies that have to go with it. Instead, the president has hyped the threat and asserted that this is a war of no choice, then combined it all with his worst pre-9/11 business as usual: budget-busting tax cuts, indifference to global environmental concerns, a gas-guzzling energy policy, neglect of the Arab-Israeli peace process and bullying diplomacy.
With frustration rising in the Capitol over French opposition to President Bush's policy on Iraq, Representative Bob Ney, the Ohio Republican who is chairman of the House Administration Committee, which is responsible for House operations, ordered the word "French" stricken from all House menus. The action was unilateral. No vote was required.

Some people are just silly fools.
And it may well be that much of the French machinations are actually motivated by the hope of destroying Blair politically, to cause him to lose his position as Prime Minister, in hopes that Labor would then choose a replacement more aligned with the kinds of positions France advocates both within and outside the EU. Bush personally is not in any kind of significant political peril, but Blair is sitting on a bubble.
Loren Thompson, a Pentagon consultant, said: "The British contribution to this campaign is far more important than any other ally - the coalition of the willing is not a group of equal partners.
"But remember, the US campaign plan calls for a huge excess of force, as an insurance policy against unforeseen developments ... that means that although the loss of the British would be significant, it would not be decisive."

Mr Rumsfeld's comments and Mr Blair's intensive attempts to garner more support for a second resolution mean that the next 72 hours could be the most dangerous of the prime minister's time in power.
Sources tell CBS News that Great Britain – America's closest ally – may find it politically impossible to commit its military to a U.S.-led attack on Saddam Hussein. And that could force the United States to go it alone in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hinted as much Tuesday.

"To the extent that they are able to participate that would obviously be welcomed. To the extent they are not, well, there are workarounds," Rumsfeld said.

Diplomats at the United Nations said the United States might back a plan that would give Iraq 7 to 10 days from passage of a new resolution to come into compliance. The proposals under consideration would establish specific tests of Iraq's willingness to disarm and to cooperate with weapons inspectors. Assuming a vote on Thursday or Friday, such a resolution would extend the deadline under the current American-backed proposal by three days to a week.

And the Post:

The official said it was doubtful the proposal would draw in any of the six undecided votes particularly with the short deadline Washington is demanding. "They've resisted so much pressure . . . if they were going to swallow this so easily, they would have done it days ago," the official said, adding that French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has just returned from a tour of the three African countries "quite confident" they will stand firm in opposition.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Shady The Duck? Lucky duck.
SXSW is going on in Austin. Check it out.

Rob Marshall's high-stepping musical also bagged both the actress awards for Renee Zellweger as lead and Catherine Zeta-Jones supporting.

Haven’t seen it yet, but good for Renee! U of Texas-ex. Also ex-waitress (not stripper) at Don King's The Yellow Rose on North Lamar in Austin. Not that I would frequent such an establishment, of course. (Honestly, I can’t; I can’t go into any type of bar since I stopped drinking 5 years ago.)

Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey (yeah I know they did that horrid “chainsaw” sequel) and Owen Wilson should do a movie together about UT. Hook 'Em.

Renee is cute and Zeta-Jones is gorgeous but neither one even comes close to the PGOAT. Then again, who does?

At least 200 victims of sex slavery are expelled from Britain every year and many are deported before they can talk to the authorities about their experience.

What a lovely world we live in.
If the multilateralists lose in New York, it is not the multipolarists who will be the victors but the out-and-out unilateralists in Washington. They will feel justified in arguing against ever going down the UN route or its like again.

That is why it is crucial for the UN to act decisively in implementing resolution 1441 this week, not because American arguments must prevail but because American unilateralists must not feel vindicated.

It is tragic that military action could occur without full UN authority, when the case for action is so clear-cut and justified by the UN itself. But it would be an equal tragedy for America to fight alone and victory to be handed on a plate to the unilateralists in Washington, with much wider and longer lasting consequences for the future of the world than the fate of Saddam Hussein. Let us still hope it does not come to that.

Peter has his head screwed on straight. Cheers.

Instacracker is losing it:

I don't think so. After all, it's a lie -- and hence an insult -- to suggest that those countries are only with us because they're bribed, coerced or extorted. Does Kerry really think that's why John Howard and Tony Blair, for example, are standing by us?

Of course the notion, implicit in Kerry's statement, that one should never use bribery or extortion in putting together an alliance bespeaks either more dishonesty -- if Kerry knows better -- or a dangerous naivete regarding diplomacy, if he doesn't.
Pretty Miss M.O. emails to say that I am more of a populist than a liberal now that I am “old”. Hmmm … methinks she may be right.
This is a few days old, too, but underreported (to put it mildly) and intensely interesting:

Although not addressed to his son in person, the message, in a speech at Tufts University in Massachusetts, was unmistakeable. Mr Bush Sr even came close to conceding that opponents of his son’s case against President Saddam Hussein, who he himself is on record as loathing, have legitimate cause for concern.

He said that the key question of how many weapons of mass destruction Iraq held “could be debated”. The case against Saddam was “less clear” than in 1991, when Mr Bush Sr led an international coalition to expel invading Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Objectives were “a little fuzzier today”, he added.
Mr Bush Jr, who is said never to forget even relatively minor slights, has alarmed analysts with the way in which he has allowed senior Administration figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, aggressively to criticise France and Germany.
The GOP and companies like Microsoft have had extensive internet operations for some time, paying people to spread their propaganda through this new medium. GOPTEAM leader also lets you earn points for internet forum and chat room activities.

From Maureen Dowd's nastily bitchy column on Sunday:

William Greider writes in The Nation, "As a bogus rallying cry, `Remember 9/11' ranks with `Remember the Maine' of 1898 for war with Spain or the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964. . . ." A culture more besotted with inane "reality" TV than scary reality is easily misled. Mr. Greider pointed out that in a Times/CBS News survey, 42 percent believe Saddam was personally responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in an ABC News poll, 55 percent believe he gives direct support to Al Qaeda.

Isn't that pitiful? There was a poll several months back which found that only 13% of Americans correctly answered the question of where the 9/11 hijackers came from (Saudi,UAE,Kuwait). A number of those polled thought there were Iraqi hijackers.

Gulf of Tonkin and Remember The Maine, indeed.
In the context of the developing game of nuclear chicken that is taking place on the Korean peninsula, U.S. withdrawal does not mean a policy of non-intervention: the North Koreans rightly read it as a prelude to a period of heightened hostilities, and quite possibly a preemptive strike. From the perspective of the North Korean military, which has been in a state of high alert since the beginning of the crisis, it looks like the U.S. is clearing the decks for an all-out attack.
The Federal Election Commission has concluded "there is no reason to believe" that the decision by the Enron Corporation to hire Ralph Reed, the Republican consultant, was actually an unreported sham "in-kind" contribution designed to help George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

LOL And is anyone interested in a bridge in Brooklyn? Cheap!
As CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, across the country a question now comes with every fill-up: Is there gouging at the gas pump?

A wave of mergers has brought together the biggest oil companies. In California the mergers have left just a handful of giants dominating the business from refineries to the corner gas station.

"It's putting the wolf in charge of the hen house. You don't normally let that happen," says San Diego attorney Tim Cohelan.

Of course they'll get away with it with this administration. Big oil and big business put Dubya in. (and 5/9 of the Supremes)

On Monday, the federal government said regular-grade gas in California hit another record, jumping 7.2 cents a gallon last week to $2.084. San Francisco had the highest average price at $2.15. In Los Angeles, a gallon averaged $2.06. Nationwide, it was $1.712.

The oil companies won't discuss their margins, saying higher gas prices are a function of supply, demand and competition.

LOL No , I wouldn't expect them to.

I keep telling my conservative friends that you may get a tax cut, but the oil companies and the other energy companies and the HMOs and insurance companies and drug companies, et. al. ad nauseum, will take it all back and more -- you will LOSE money -- and Bush will let them do it. That's why they gave so much money to have him appointed. I don't understand why my conservative friends can't figure this out.
Faced with limits on how much wining and dining they can do in Washington, interest groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to take lawmakers and aides on out-of-town excursions to deliver their pitches on legislation.
Blame some of it on a fixated press corps. I was astonished and dismayed that in the first opportunity to quiz the president in four months, not one question was asked about the shaky economy or the out-of-control federal budget. The very next day came news of the largest monthly jump in unemployment since the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and an official estimate that Bush's budget proposals would add $2.7 trillion to the national debt in the next 10 years. An economically cushioned set of reporters seemingly couldn't care less about this looming disaster. Talk about being out of touch!
Halliburton, one of the companies in the running for the highly profitable deals, was formerly headed by the US vice-president, Dick Cheney. Halliburton has already been awarded a lucrative contract to resurrect the Iraqi oilfields if there is a war.
Other companies have strong ties to the US administration, including the construction giant Bechtel, the Fluor Corporation, and the Louis Berger Group, which is involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

... and in the Washington Post:

"The United States is probably going to have to pick up the bulk of what's going to happen in reconstruction, at least at the outset," said Bathsheba Crocker, co-author of a report on post-Hussein Iraq at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's acknowledged even by them that it's going to be a drop in the bucket compared to what the overall costs will be."

Be honest. Wouldn't you like to read the Thomas Pynchon novelization of this mess?
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) warned that if Karzai told the committee everything was going well, "the next time you come back, then your credibility will be in question." Hagel said later that he felt the administration had "coached" Karzai.

No doubt. I like Hagel. For a Republican he's OK.
The United States announced Tuesday it would help developing countries track down loose radioactive materials on their soil, the kind of step the chief U.N. nuclear watchdog said was ``urgently needed'' to foil terrorists bent on building ``dirty bombs.''
The U.S. energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, said Washington would spend $3 million in the next year to help poorer governments secure high-risk radiation sources that could be used for terror weapons.

ONLY 3 million??? Jeez! That's nothing.
"He confirmed he met him in December," one official said. "But I don't believe him unless he tells us the location and gives us witnesses." Other Pakistani security officials have said that Mr. Mohammed, described by American experts as a mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, met with Mr. bin Laden as recently as last month.

Bring me the Head of Alfredo bin Laden.
``The inertia has been going on for six months now, as a result of which the economy is coming to a grinding halt. It's very dangerous,'' said David Buik at Cantor Index.
``The retail investor has zipped his pockets up... The quicker the world's politicians realize that they are destroying the basic economic infrastructure of the world, the better chance of a recovery,'' said Buik.
That Iraq's dictator has failed to make that decision has been obvious since Dec. 8, when he submitted a declaration to the Security Council asserting that he had no chemical and biological arms. You don't have to listen to the Bush administration to regard that as a lie; even French officials say they believe Iraq still has those arms.
As U.S. forces gear up for another conflict in Iraq, Pentagon officials promise that coverage will be different this time: More than 500 reporters from America and around the world will be stationed with combat units, shoulder to shoulder with U.S. soldiers, and the public is likely to get a grittier, grunt's-eye view of modern war than the remote, video-game clash that was beamed into living rooms 12 years ago.

To win the battle for public opinion in an age of never-ending news cycles, experts say, the Pentagon had no choice but to give reporters a front-row seat. Beyond the battlefield, there will be an entirely different war fought over TV images and newspaper coverage, and the side that tells its story best can gain a crucial advantage. This is particularly important given the global reach of the Internet, which was in its infancy during the 1991 war and now speeds breaking news, rumors, propaganda, data and a wellspring of alternative opinions to millions.

Blood for ratings. It makes me sick.
From a fiscal point of view the impending war is a lose-lose proposition. If it goes badly, the resulting mess will be a disaster for the budget. If it goes well, administration officials have made it clear that they will use any bump in the polls to ram through more big tax cuts, which will also be a disaster for the budget. Either way, the tide of red ink will keep on rising.
The unfolding mess in northern Iraq is a reminder that if we invade Iraq, we are stepping into an immensely complex region of guns, clans and hostilities that we only dimly understand. The White House thinks it can choreograph the warfare, but if we can't control effete gavel-wielding diplomats on the familiar turf of the United Nations, how will we manage feuding troops with mortars in the mountains of northern Iraq?

Tensions are growing, with Iranian-armed fighters entering Kurdistan and threatening to fight not just Saddam but also the Turks. Our allies could be too busy disemboweling each other to take on Saddam's troops. And the U.S., as one American living in Turkey puts it, "has no clue of the hatreds it's walking into."
March is traditionally a time for valor and courage, but the confrontations most often associated with the month take place on the basketball courts of the N.C.A.A.'s men's national basketball tournament. With an invasion of Iraq now seemingly on a collision course with the start of the annual tournament on March 20, and extended war coverage likely to pre-empt network broadcasts of the most anticipated matches, plans are under way to move the broadcast to cable. If war erupts during the tournament CBS — which is paying $6 billion for the right to televise the tournament through 2013 — plans to move featured games to TVLand, Nickelodeon and other cable channels owned by Viacom, CBS's parent.

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

But a majority of respondents, 52 percent, say inspectors should be given more time to search for evidence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons on the ground in Iraq. Still, that number has dropped over the past month, and there has been an increase in the number of Americans who say the United States has done enough to find a diplomatic solution in Iraq.
Britain and the United States delayed the UN vote on a resolution to give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disarm, as British diplomats suggested compromise proposals to try to win support from Security Council members who oppose a rush to war.
Officials close to Mr Blix also confirmed that inspectors had recently found a number of items that could represent an effort by Iraq to develop cluster bombs for the dispersal of chemical or biological materials. The new report notes that the UN inspectors found a "component of a 122mm [chemical/biological warfare] cluster submunition in a warehouse" last month. The report says: "The foregoing suggests that Iraq's interest in cluster munitions, and the developments it did make, may have progressed well beyond what it had declared."
On anthrax, the report is even more ominous. "The strong presumption is that about 10,000 litres of anthrax were not destroyed and may still exist". It adds that Iraq "currently possesses the technology and materials," including fermenters, bacterial growth media and seed stock, to produce anthrax.

So what does that tell you? Despite all misgivings, and there are a lot of them, clearly Iraq has violated not only UN Res. 1441, but the terms of the cease fire of Gulf War I, which never technically ended BTW. So will these violations be enforced or not? I agree with G.W. Bush on very little, but a child can see this.

As the council headed toward the climactic vote, there was widespread confusion amid the swirl of proposals. "This is a mess," said another diplomat from one of the six. "Nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have been talking, but have no idea what the Americans are thinking. We know that the British have been active, but don't know if their ideas will succeed. The French and others say they accept the benchmarks . . . but don't want 'automaticity.' We say, okay, let's reconvene" the council so that a war decision would not be automatic. "But the Americans would never accept that."
"My position is that whatever the circumstances, France will vote no," Mr. Chirac said. He added that he had "the feeling" that Russia and China, which also have veto power in the Security Council, are prepared to follow France's lead.

Trivia: What came raining down out of the sky at the end of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia"? Esoteric joke, sorry.
Mr. Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, made no effort today to minimize the breach between the White House and the United Nations — clearly one of the most severe since the organization's founding after World War II. He essentially argued that Mr. Bush was within his rights to create an alternative, ad hoc organization — out of whatever coalition of nations he could assemble — to enforce the Council's past resolutions on disarming Iraq.
But the greatest source of concern among senior Army leaders is the uncertainty and complexity of the mission in postwar Iraq, which could require U.S. forces to protect Iraq's borders, referee clashes between ethnic and religious groups, ensure civilian security, provide humanitarian relief, secure possible chemical and biological weapons sites, and govern hundreds of towns and villages.

and ...

"If Afghanistan is the model for Iraq, we're in deep, deep trouble," Daalder said. "The administration has done the minimum necessary there to avoid disaster, and I think what Iraq requires is the maximum necessary to ensure success. It's a different standard. If they do the minimum necessary to avoid disaster, there's going to be a problem."

Great article in the NY Times today by David Carr on the influence of the neocon 'Weekly Standard'. It's sort of a primer on the subject, but a good one:

"Reader for reader, it may be the most influential publication in America," said Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation and author of "What Liberal Media?" (Basic Books). The circulation may be small, but "they are not interested in speaking to the great unwashed," Mr. Alterman said. "The magazine speaks directly to and for power. Anybody who wants to know what this administration is thinking and what they plan to do has to read this magazine."

He acknowledged that the staff he helped assemble seven years ago has made a quick trip from rock-throwing revolutionaries to an amen corner for the administration.

LOLOLOL Touche'! Way to slip that phrase in!

Carville says it best, though:

"They are nice guys about it — Kristol is an affable guy — but I don't think they have calculated the consequences of existing in a world where nobody likes you."

I don't think they have either, Serpent Head.

For more on the neocons and their very real threat (I like to call them Napoleonists; heard on 'Hardball', stolen form Chris Matthews) go here and read all the archives for the past year or so.

Monday, March 10, 2003


Found this on Eschaton ... And was thoroughly appalled at Andrew Sullivan's dangerous bullshit about a "domestic war", but loved the comment by Doug:

Thanks for wasting my time. If you think Glenn's elucidation is any more comforting, you are sadly mistaken. If ever there were a "fifth column" in these "United States," it clearly lies at the feet of the likes of Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan (who, amazingly, isn't even a citizen). I will sleep no better tonight.

I didn't know Sully was not an American citizen! I mean, I knew he was British but I just assumed that since he's been here 20 years or so and comes off as some obnoxious super-American patriot in love with Shrub (no gay jokes, dude! ok ok) that he'd become a U.S. citizen. So I did a Google search on Sully's citizenship and came across another great comment on him, from a guy named Michael Saunders:

Andrew Sullivan's latest performance calls to mind Dr. Johnson's observation about patriotism and scoundrels. In this war of images and self-inflating simulacra, S. seems to be reinventing himself as a character in an Ayn Rand novel. Tacky, boring, stupid.

LOLOLOL. Nothing earth-shattering, I just liked it. Fuck you, it's my blog! I mean, how DARE he, the bastard, he's not even a citizen!?

Speaking of Ayn Rand (lolololol), the apparent devotion to her silly shit by Roger and the rocket scientist dude (Dave?) on "Survivor", the only network show I still watch, is why I want those 2 guys OUT. I HATE Ayn Rand with a passion. Sorry.

Go Heidi! (She's no PGOAT, but then who is?)

UPDATE: Note to S. IMHO one can't be both a Christian and an Ayn Rand-ian (or whatever they call themselves). She said that selfishness is a virtue and altruism is a vice. Again, IMHO, altruism is the very essence of Christianity.

The FBI is conducting an intensive hunt for potential “sleeper cells” of Iraqi agents planted to strike in the event of war after two attachés at Iraq’s U.N. mission in New York were caught filming bridges and tunnels, U.S. officials told NBC News. At least 70 Iraqi nationals are under active surveillance, law enforcement officials said, and agents have spread out to interview thousands of Iraqi men in an attempt to track down hundreds who came to the United States after the 1991 Gulf War and disappeared.

Lisa Meyers is a good reporter, too. Well, shit.
Chelsea Clinton will start a six-figure consulting job after she receives a master's degree from Oxford University later this year, Newsweek magazine reports on its Web site.

Freepers react!

Purely hypothetical situation, of course, but … lesse, what would they say about some dumb rich guy who gets out of college and then, oh, say … hmmmm … Goes into the oil business with his daddy’s money and contacts and somehow manages to run this hypothetical business into the ground, BUT: still manages to sell it for a tidy profit because his father is now not only rich but … lemme think … hmmmm …. I got it! Vice-President of the United States! And, and the people who buy the dumb kid’s bankrupt oil company only do so to acquire influence with the daddy! And then, ummm … the dumb kid likes baseball and wants to own his own major league baseball team so a bunch of rich guys put up the money, again hoping to acquire money and influence from the kid’s daddy who is now PRESIDENT, let’s say. And they make the dumb kid CEO of the baseball team to make him happy so they can make the daddy happy. And then they build a new, state-of-the-art ballpark for the kid and … hmmmm … I got it! They make the PUBLIC pay for the ballpark (since it’s hypothetical, let’s just call it “The Ballpark”) and then when the dumb rich kid and the rest of them sell the team they make a huuuuuuge profit since the PUBLIC paid for “The Ballpark” and increased the value of the team! And then … Nah, forget it, it’s simply too unbelievable.