PAGING GROVER NORQUIST
Your ship has come in.
Under fire from Republicans alarmed at the growth of the federal budget in recent years, Mr. Bush called Saturday for new statutory limits on spending.
"To assure that Congress observes spending discipline, now and in the future, I propose making spending limits the law," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This simple step would mean that every additional dollar the Congress wants to spend in excess of spending limits must be matched by a dollar in spending cuts elsewhere."
Mr. Bush did not say who would set the limits or how they would be enforced. Unlike similar rules that governed Congress in the 1990's, Mr. Bush's proposal would not impose restrictions on new tax cuts.
And since we're in excess of spending limits right now, we gotta cut cut cut cut cut cut. Grover, who equates tax collection with the Holocaust
, is smiling.
It might be Kerry. No one knows at this point. If it is, watch for lots of stuff like this
, but from the GOP
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has made a fight against corporate special interests a centerpiece of his front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years, federal records show.
It does a couple of things for the GOP.
1. It peels off the Howard Dean voters and the Howard Dean-generated excitement for Democrats. Deaniacs are, more than anything, believers in reform of the political system.
2. This, in turns, depresses Democratic turnout, which is worrying the GOP after IA and NH...
Broadband rules. I've never had it at home before.
Read the Decembrist on Cokespoon
It is interesting to note that we now have a president who's been accused, with some cause, of desertion, treason (the exposure of Valerie Plame), and of leading the nation to war on a false premise. That's the Trifecta of crimes against your own country, isn't it? OK, the desertion charge doesn't meet the technical definition, and the other two, while we know that they occurred, we still don't have all the details about exactly who said what to whom. Still, not a record on which I'd want to be running for reelection, in a just world.
AUTHORITARIANS OF A FEATHER
Turns out Rove stole from the Russians' playbook
Putin has repeatedly pledged to rebuild Russia's military might and restore pride to the demoralized service. When he ran for his first term in 2000, he flew as a second pilot in a fighter jet and later donned naval officer's garb on a visit to a nuclear submarine -- images that played well with many voters who are nostalgic for Soviet global power and military prestige.
CHAIT ON AWOL AND THE SLANTY SLANTY PRESS
JUDITH STEINBERG DEAN
. She was
Then it hit me: the birthday rhododendron. Sawyer had found it next to impossible to believe that Judy Dean had actually been pleased when her husband had given her one of the perennial shrubs for her 50th birthday.
"It's not exactly hearts and flowers," chided Diane.
"I'm not a very 'thing' person," explained Judy. "Everything I want, I have ... I'm not that interested in things."
SCOTT MCLELLAN NEEDS A DRINK
. Feel sorry for him, dontcha?
John, do you have something on Iraq?
Q I did. Just an update for me, if you could. What's the White House's position on those aluminum tubes that Iraq was caught with?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, again, we're now trying to get into issues that are continuing to be --
Q No, I'm just wondering if you still believe that they were destined for uranium-enrichment centrifuge work.
MR. McCLELLAN: John, again, a lot of this -- the Iraq Survey -- the Iraq Survey --
Q A simple yes or no --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. Let me finish. Again, you're asking me to get into discussions of what the Iraq Survey Group is looking into, all these matters. There was an interim progress report that was put out that talked about what we have learned so far. It was a public document, but it made very clear -- I mean, you want to go, I know, line by line on --
Q No, I don't. I just want to -- you said that --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you want to go line by line on prewar intelligence. And I'm saying that --
Q The administration says --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- let's let the Iraq Survey Group complete its work. Then we can compare what we knew before the war with what we have learned since the war.
Q It's a simple question. You said prior to the war that those aluminum tubes were destined for centrifuge work --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and I think Dr. Kay has since talked about --
Q -- and I'm wondering if you still believe it.
MR. McCLELLAN: Dr. Kay -- Dr. Kay, in his interim report, has talked about the efforts toward a nuclear program in Iraq. He's already addressed it. So he's already addressed that matter.
Q I'm wondering, do you still believe what you said before the war.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I know what you're trying to do. But I think I've addressed the matter.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you. Thanks.
BROOKS: FIRST OUT OF GATE?
And so begins the use of the Hutton report, which is being roundly criticized overseas, to spin Kay's revelations about Iraqi WMD.
Here's David Brooks priming the starter
on the NewsHour yesterday:
And so Kay made this serious set of conclusions, which suggests we've got a serious intelligence problem and instead of talking about the serious intelligence problem, instead of accepting this testimony which is supported by the Hutton testimony in Britain by the way, that nobody misled anybody, that it was a honest mistake, what we had on Capitol Hill today, led by Carl Levin and Ted Kennedy, was a series of unsubstantiated charges: still, regardless of the evidence, they must have been misleading, must have leaned on the CIA and I think David Kay found there is just no evidence. We have serious intelligence problems but they're playing politics with it up there.
[UPDATE: Mark Shields is such a pansy
The president said, OK, on October 2002 we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud. Now that's about as dire and serious and grave a threat as you can give to the American people. And why isn't the president or anybody at the White House angry or upset if they got this defective intelligence and they gave the defective intelligence to the American people and we went to war based upon it and we're looking at 3,000 American either dead, wounded, crippled or disabled -- as a consequence of that? Now, I mean that's really ... where is the outrage?
Jeebus. It's not about bad intelligence, it's about fucking stovepiping. The CIA gave everything they had -- and it was used selectively by Cheney or those close to him. Why can't Shields talk about THAT?]
NOT OVER YET
The Hutton report has its critics
, apparently, though you wouldn't know it by the behavior of the BBC and Blair.
Gilligan [the reporter who made the original allegations against the Blair government], who has not been on the air since the inquiry began, did not comment directly, but the National Union of Journalists issued a statement on his behalf branding the Hutton report as "grossly one-sided and a serious threat to the future of investigative journalism."
"Whatever Lord Hutton may think, it is clear from the evidence he heard that the dossier was 'sexed up,' that many in the intelligence services were unhappy about it, and that Andrew Gilligan's story was substantially correct," said Jeremy Dear, the union's president.
In his resignation statement, Davies, the BBC chairman, questioned whether Hutton's "bald conclusions" could be reconciled with the evidence and whether they might damage press freedom in Britain. Still, he explained his resignation by saying, "I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final."
And then there's this, from Guardian readers' responses to the Hutton report
Others also felt that Lord Hutton's remit was probably too limited to permit him to criticise the government. "I am not convinced that Hutton carried out a fair inquiry, but even if he did, his remit was so narrow that his report could not help but let Blair off the hook," said one. "It is patently obvious - that the document WAS 'sexed up,'" wrote Andrew Jardine.
"I hope the public reaction [to the report] will be one of enduring disbelief," wrote another reader. "For my part, I can see that the BBC has much to take itself to task about, but the government, too, has its share of responsibility to assume."
Let's hope we're not echoing this after the 9/11 commission report comes out...
[UPDATE: More here
The Independent called Hutton's 740 page report "curiously unbalanced." The liberal London daily also published a column by Charles Kennedy , leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic party, declaring Hutton's report "should be the opening curtain and not the last word."
Even the editors of the conservative Daily Telegraph , who supported Blair and the war in Iraq, declared: "there are very serious issues that Lord Hutton decided not to explore."
Le-yet's move to GEORGIA
Georgia students could graduate from high school without learning much about evolution, and may never even hear the word uttered in class.
New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to "evolution" and replace them with the term "biological changes over time," a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject.
FOR A LAUGH
Check out the comments to posts at the Lieberman campaign's official blog
HIDE THE TOAST
Indirectly, from Jesus' General
The following is an excerpt from testimony before Congress
on January 28, 2004:
What child needs to be exposed to this? Is pedophilia now a laughing matter? Would you want to have to explain to your youngster what "hide the toast" means? Nevertheless, this was broadcast over the public airwaves - the public's airwaves -- right into the family home, "the one place," according to the Supreme Court, "where people ordinarily have the right not to be assaulted by uninvited and offensive sights and sounds."
Hide the toast?
Some technical problems, apparently, at monkey
. Do stand by.
But I understand completely
. Really, I do.
On the results of New Hampshire:
It's not over. Kerry has yet to feel significant frontrunner "heat." Dean and Edwards could make life interesting, albeit in different ways.
Personally, I have deep reservations about Kerry, mostly because I think he's a crap politician -- as Gore was -- and is (more) vulnerable (than other Dems) to press abuse about irrelevancies, like his hair, and his awful speaking style -- as Gore was.
But if it's him, it's him. He'll win in a head-to-head with Bush, but not easily.
[Confidential to JL in CT: Are you serious? You've become an even bigger joke than you were. Please vanish forever, you irritating little twit.]
[UPDATE: A comment to this post
has it right:
I can't help but think that Kerry represents an 'over correction' on the part of ABB voters. Dean was too hot, Kerry is too cold. Dean was not careful enough, Kerry has two answers to every question. Dean would get killed on security, Kerry drones on about a divisive war that we lost and most people would rather forget. Dean made his campaign about ITself, Kerry makes his campaign about HIMself.
The instinct is right. Drop the unelectable guy and get realistic. I just hope there is time to do it twice.
HUTTON REPORT UK
The results from the judicial inquiry into the suicide of UK WMD expert David Kelly were released today.
The Hutton report, on first glance, looks like an indictment of the BBC and a near-total exoneration of the Blair government's claims about Iraq's WMD.
Here are some highlights
Andrew Gilligan's report that Downing Street "probably knew" the 45-minute claim in its Iraq dossier was wrong was a grave allegation and attacked the integrity of the government and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).
The 45-minute claim in the Iraq dossier was based on a report received by the intelligence services that they believed to be reliable.
The dossier could be said to be "sexed up" if this term is taken to mean it was drafted to make the case against Saddam as strong as intelligence permitted.
But in the context of Mr Gilligan's report, "sexed up" would be understood to mean the dossier was embellished with items of intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable. This allegation is unfounded.
The chairman of the BBC has resigned
. Blair wants an apology
from the BBC.
This one event may have saved Blair politically
It should be noted that the claims Bush is often criticized for (yellowcake, tubes, nukular program, imminent threat, etc.) are substantively different than those examined by Hutton. I've also seen no real response to Sy Hersh's allegations of stovepiping of intelligence
by Cheney and the hardlineniks.
is some sort of direct application of the principles of social Darwinism.
Here's a spelling test
your very own self can take.
I think I'm a pretty good speller, and I received a score of 46.
List your results in comments. Be honest.
WELCOME TO 2004, AWOL
"POLITICAL HATE SPEECH"
Welcome to right-wing tactical Orwellianism.
Brendan Nyhan takes apart the phenomenon
KERRY IS A SITTING DUCK
You have to feel sorry for the New Republic. No one saw the Kerry thing coming, of course, but they very publicly didn't even include Kerry in their candidate evaluations pre-Iowa. With that, and their ultra-dubious Lieberman endorsement, and the drubbing they're taking from bloggers (Kos, most directly) -- well, they're just eating shit.
Out of sympathy, then, here is a link to a piece from the New Republic that I think captures an important truth about Kerry's surge
The media (see, for example, yesterday's "Meet the Press") has also pushed the line that Dean's challenge has strengthened Kerry as a candidate--Dean is now credited with everything from livening up and shortening Kerry's stump speech to the Kerry campaign's increased organizational efficiency. But the reality is close to the opposite: If Kerry wins the nomination, the practical effect of the Dean candidacy will be to have made Kerry the beneficiary of an almost an unprecedented confluence of favorable circumstances, which allowed Kerry to win the nomination without ever being tested.
Flee from TNR, Noam Scheiber! Flee to a rag still held in some esteem! And one that isn't fucking owned by Bush supporters
No one seems to know who's gonna win, according to Kos
Aren't news organizations supposed to suppress their projections until voting has finished? Someone enlighten me, please.
has exit polls saying it's Kerry by 4-6 points, with Clark and Edwards in a close fight for third. No Joementum
, thank goodness.]
says about the same.]
BARBARA WALTERS IS GONNA RETIRE
Bob Zelnick, chairman of the journalism department at Boston University and a former co-worker of Walters's at ABC News, called her a "giant" in the field. "This is kind of like when Walter Cronkite retired," he said. "Barbara will never be replaced as one of the great interviewers in the history of television."
Barbara Walters retiring is kind of like when Walter Cronkite retired, except that it's not at all kind of like when Walter Cronkite retired. That is to say, Walter Cronkite is still relevant
, whereas Babs has sucked celebrity ass for so long that she's a joke.
VOTE CAREFULLY, ALL
Liberal Oasis' wise counsel
should be heeded:
The Anybody But Bush attitude is absolutely correct.
But voting against your heart is absolutely not. It shouldn't hurt to vote.
This is not to say that Dean is the only "heart" vote, and Kerry the only "head" vote.
There are plenty of people who are inspired by both of them, as well as the rest of the field.
There are probably folks that like Kerry but worry he'll get tagged as another Massachusetts liberal.
Folks that like John Edwards but worry he'll be derided as an inexperienced ambulance chaser.
Folks that like Wesley Clark but are worried (now) that the media will nitpick him to death.
And folks that like Dean but worry he'll be seen as too far outside the mainstream.
While it's worth considering how a candidate is going to play with voters who aren't hard-core Dems and liberals, nothing is more important that your own gut assessment.
Don't forget the lesson of 2002.
Via Lean Left
Workers dismantling an aging nuclear weapon improperly secured broken pieces of a highly explosive component by taping them together, federal investigators found. An explosion could have occurred, they said.
The incident was among several recent safety lapses at the Energy Department's Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas, noted by the independent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. Last fall, workers taking apart another old warhead accidentally drilled into the warhead's radioactive core, forcing evacuation of the facility.
Off the record, the workers had this to say:
BIRD FLU TRACKER
is a lot scarier than you think.
Asia's economies risk a multi-billion dollar meltdown if bird flu starts spreading through direct human transmission, experts warn.
At present, the casualties have been rural farmworkers and their families, infected by contact with chickens.
However, human-to-human infection could threaten as big a travel and trade standstill as that which accompanied the Sars respiratory virus in 2003.
Human-to-human infection doesn't seem to have happened yet, but if it does
Although it has not happened yet, the so-called 'bird flu' presents a risk of evolving into an efficient and dangerous human pathogen," the three agencies warned.
"This is a serious global threat to human health," said WHO Director General Lee Jong-wook.
"This time, we face something we can possibly control before it reaches global proportions if we work co-operatively and share needed resources. We must begin this hard, costly work now."
You'll be hearing more about this soon, unfortunately.
BUSH WAS AT LEAST AWOL, IF NOT A DESERTER
David Neiwert has the straight story
on Bush's wretched non-record of military service.
Well, the core of the matter is fairly simple, and boils down to two facts that are simply not in dispute:
Bush blew off his physical in the spring of 1972, thereby ignoring a direct order from his superiors.
Bush then definitely performed no drills at all for any unit of the National Guard between early May 1972 and late November 1972 at the earliest. This is a period of nearly seven months.
Here's [a rather lengthly excerpt from] Neiwert's conclusions, which I've yet to see refuted by anyone:
There are many questions that remain unanswered indeed, and most of the bloggers who defend Bush focus on these questions. It remains open to dispute whether Bush's short-circuited service was actually complete. It is also an open question about the relevance of the honorable discharge, since that is the default discharge, and as some have pointed out, any prosecution of Bush on AWOL or desertion charges would have meant. The absence of portions of his military records -- and the failure of Bush to release those records -- has variously been defended, but not convincingly. Others, including Rogers and Marty Heldt, have argued that Bush's AWOL period was for as long as two years, and that the evidence provided by the Bush people to demonstrate his November 1972 service -- comprised, as it was, of a torn sheet of paper -- was bogus; certainly it was questionable at best, but the matter remains open to dispute. Likewise, there is a good deal of speculation (such as Rogers') that Bush's evasions were based on his purported drug use, but there is simply no evidence of that other than circumstantial.
A few of those on the right have tried to compare Bush's behavior here to Bill Clinton's well-chronicled avoidance of the draft. The difference, of course, is not merely one of degree but substantively of kind: Clinton neither broke the law in his behavior, nor flouted or undermined basic rules of military conduct, nor wasted taxpayer dollars in the process.
Though of course, we all remember how many critics of the mainstream right have referred to Clinton as a "draft dodger" -- which, like "deserter," is a term that refers specifically to acts of law-breaking. But then, I can't recall anyone demanding that George H.W. Bush or Bob Dole renounce the people who uttered those characterizations, either
Watch the liberal press jump all over
Isn't it strange that the story was immediately how scandulous the mere accusation of Bush desertion
was? Instead of, y'know...?
MELVILLE ON COLD WEATHER AND LUXURIOUS DISCOMFORTS
Melville says you should turn the heat down.
This is for all the folks enduring the cold snap:
We felt very nice and snug, the most so since it was so chilly out of doors;
indeed, our of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room.
The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part
of you must be cold...[I]f the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be
slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most
delightfully and unmistakably warm.
For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire,
which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort
of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your
snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm
spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.
Moby-Dick, page 55.
OUR TROOPS IN IRAQ ARE SUFFERING
...if they're not committing suicide.
, via Salon:
Up to one in five of the American military personnel in Iraq will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, say senior forces' medical staff dealing with the psychiatric fallout of the war.
This revelation follows the disclosure last month that more than 600 US servicemen and women have been evacuated from the country for psychiatric reasons since the conflict started last March.
At least 22 US soldiers have killed themselves - a rate considered abnormally high - mostly since President George Bush declared an end to major combat on 1 May last year, These suicides have led to a high-level Department of Defence investigation, details of which will be disclosed in the next few weeks.
IT'LL BE DELICIOUS
You know that you're waiting breathlessly for Joe Lieberman to drop out.
I can't tell you the pleasure it'll give me. He is incredibly annoying.
[UPDATE: Jesse Taylor at Pandagon feels me
IS THAT THE POPE?
[UPDATE: Check out the video
, yos. Poper is mad wavin' his hands n' shit! And homes almost spins wildly into
the Popizza! Daaaaaaaaamn!]
not about the San Francisco mayor's race if ye know not of what ye speak!
If you really like Newsom's wife, Oliver, you should see Newsom's hair
. It's made of plastic
DENNIS MILLER WAS ONCE GOOD
Don't you remember when Dennis Miller was cool? Even if his rants were ripped off from Bill Hicks, or whatever, and his references were just-so-conscientiously-obscurantist, and he was kind of a dick sometimes, and...
Wait. Dennis Miller was never cool.
Whatever he was, now he's just another sellout motherfucker
who will be (one of) the first up against the wall when the revolution happens, etc.
The NYT on Soros' book
, amongst others.
Instead, Bush and his team disdainfully chucked out containment and deterrence and declared that America had the right to ensure its security any way it deemed proper, including pre-emptive war. The triumphant America of the 21st century would use multilateral institutions only when it suited American aims. Not only that; guaranteeing its safety required that America impose its democratic values, starting in the Middle East.
Someday Bush may be proven right, and a harmonious chain of friendly democracies may stretch from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. For the time being, the new American order has generated a tsunami of anti-Americanism, with the United States perceived in some quarters as a greater threat to world peace than Al Qaeda. Deep fissures have developed between the United States and its allies; American policies have threatened to undermine Europe's drive toward unity; Muslims around the globe have turned against the United States; many leaders in Asia now look to China for their economic and political security; and Americans themselves have become polarized in their attitude toward the rest of the world. The ''war on terrorism'' has gotten mired in an anarchic Iraq; Guantanamo has come to represent a willful violation of civil rights; and tyrants have seized on the concept of pre-emptive war to justify their own suppression of opponents, now labeled terrorists.
THE AP ON DAVOS
on the irony of sending Dick over to berate the Euros.
on the administration's sudden, convenient internationalist turn.
on Cheney's snarky reponse to the imperialism question.
on crowd applause for hostile, anti-US questions.
The AP should be starting to worry you.
Someone start noticing this byline:
DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
GRAND AYATOLLAH ALI SISTANI IS CALLING THE SHOTS
Patrick Cockburn on the power politics going on in Iraq
At the height of the shortage of petrol in Baghdad a month ago people queued in their cars for as long as 18 hours outside petrol stations. One reason for the lack of petrol was that much of it was being stolen by black marketeers.
One day Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the 73-year-old clerical leader of the Iraqi Shiah who has not left his modest house in the holy city of Najaf for a year, sent out an instruction that Shiites should not be involved in the petrol black market.
"It shows the enormous influence of Sistani that you could see his edict having an immediate effect on the black market in petrol," a Shiiite friend told me, though he added ruefully that Sistani's success showed that most of the black market must be controlled by Shiites.
In the last two weeks the Shiites, some 60 per cent of the Iraqi population, have started to express their frustrations on the street. Tens of thousands of people have marched through the centre of Basra and Baghdad to demand fair elections to select a new Iraqi assembly and government. A yellow flag with a Shiite slogan on it now hangs from the top of the monument which replaced the statue of Saddam Hussein famously toppled in Baghdad last year.
It is a critical moment for the US and British venture in Iraq and perhaps their last chance to conclude it without a political disaster.
If we insist on the caucus model for elections, and Sistani disses it, we're screwed
If we insist on the caucus model for elections, and Sistani doesn't dis it, but it doesn't seem legitimate to Iraqis, we're screwed
If we try to implement direct elections, as Sistani seems to want, we might screw it up, and we'll be screwed
If we try to implement direct elections, and we somehow manage to succeed, we won't be able to control the outcome like we were planning to with the caucuses, and we might be screwed
THIS IS THE FACE OF THE LIBERAL MEDIA
The NYT on Cheney's Davos talk
Vice President Dick Cheney called Saturday for greater global unity to fight terrorism, halt the spread of illicit weapons and promote democratic trends in the Middle East, in the Bush administration's most significant appeal yet to disaffected allies who opposed the Iraq war.
Okay so far.
The administration's choice of Mr. Cheney to lead its delegation here may seem improbable, given his low profile and hard-line reputation. Mr. Cheney was making only his second international trip in three years as vice president, and remains an enigma to many Europeans and other foreigners. The White House also generally avoids the kinds of issues this conference champions, like globalization and multilateral diplomacy.
Cheney is an "improbable" choice. How about Cheney is an "amusing" choice? That
would be liberal bias. How about Cheney as a "laughable" choice? How about "desperate"? Even "ironic" is too strong for the ultra-left New York Times.
And check out that last sentence. The White House "generally avoids" blah blah blah? How about "openly mocks"? How about "regularly derides"? How about "consciously rejected, a decision which isolated the United States from the international community, and more importantly, limited a truly international presence on the ground in Iraq. The resulting lack of international legitimacy may have fueled and amplified the continuing Iraqi insurgency -- meaning that our own international hamhandedness probably, in the end, caused a few more Americans to die in Iraq
, for a war they likely neither wanted nor understood."
Making those sorts of connections is far beyond Our Liberal Media.
Read this next bit, which escapes comment from the Times writers:
Responding to a question after his speech, Mr. Cheney sought to dispel perceptions that the United States was empire-building. "If we were a true empire, we would currently preside over a much greater piece of the earth's surface than we do," he said. "That's not the way we operate."
Cheney: "We'd so kick all y'all's asses if we really wanted to. But we don't, so quit fucking bitching."
The next is just thrown in at the end of the piece, and it's worth noting (barely):
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, applauded Mr. Cheney for pressing for democracy in the Arab world, though he said he was disappointed by most of the speech, which he said was notable for its "complete lack of reference to international law."
Some Arab members of the audience said the United States must step in more forcefully to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, if it wanted to hasten the development of democracy in the Middle East.
"Reform is like a seed you plant," said Nadim Y. Muasher, the chairman of the Arab International Hotels Company in Jordan. "If you plant it between two rocks -- Israel and Palestine -- it won't grow."
Finally, look at this thug:
History will place him right next to Boss Tweed and Dick Nixon in the Tammany Hall of Fame section of the history of this country. It won't even take two decades.
[UPDATE: Was the Times even there? [The byline is not Jayson Blair. -ed
] From the Post
Administration officials said the atmosphere in Davos was much warmer than last year, when the United States was on the brink of invading Iraq and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was met with a barrage of complaints. But the reaction to Cheney's 58-minute appearance was tepid. The audience withheld applause during the speech and then clapped for hostile questions about the U.S. government's handling of Arab visitors and its treatment of military detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Call me a press critic, but I find that newsworthy. The Times is just way too lib, etc.]
IF YOU SHOP AT WAL-MART, YOU ARE, IN FACT, A REVOLTING FUCKHEAD
But then again, if you're reading this, you more than likely know that already.
on Wal-Mart's sad attempt at manipulating its image.
Remind me to tell you that story about my family, Wal-Mart, and New York Times ethicist Randy Cohen (Cohen?).
DID YOU KNOW SAN FRANCISCO IS JUST LIKE NEW YORK?
San Francisco is really the sixth borough of New York, the only place, says my pal Alvin, which has the same inflated property values and inflated sense of self-importance. "[Residents of] San Francisco can look down on their surroundings," continues Alvin. "They think LA is for boobs, Seattle is bland, but they love New York. We share the same reverence for Halloween."
REALLY REALLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
How can you resist listening to an interview of Tammy Faye Messner
[Bakker] by Terry Gross?
I know life is short, but it ain't that
Terri: I'm wondering if you've met gay men who "do" you in their drag show?
Tammy Faye: Oh yes! Many of them! Oh yes! And they do me better than me! [laughs] I love it! I think it's so fun!
Terri: What have you learned about yourself from watching people in drag "do" you?
Tammy Faye: [pause] Ohhhh...nothing new! [laughs] Uh, y'know, mainly, how they dress, it's not what they say or what they do, it's mainly how they dress, and with the long eyelashes, and a lot of hair, and, uh, cute clothes, and lots of jewelry, y'know. [self-satisfied]
Terri: Do you think of yourself as dressing almost like a drag queen, where everything is a bit exaggerated?
Tammy Faye: [pause] Well, I don't think so. No. Uh-uh.
That last question was a world-historical moment.
MATT ON NEDRA
is a primer on not-so-hidden media bias that you really should read if you want an accurate picture of what's going on.
is someone you should be reading every day.
DEAN YAWP RESPONSE
Yes, thankfully, my downtime has allowed me to completely avoid blogging about the Caucuses or
Bush's speech. How wonderful for me!
Regarding Howard Dean's barbaric yawp, here's my favorite response
Dr Dean's fire and brimstone might have inspired his youth army but it raised questions about him.
Waring Howe Jr, a Democratic National Committee member from South Carolina, said: "He's heading to New Hampshire and those people are serious-minded. They're going to be thinking, 'Who's that cat?"'
WHO DAT CAT?
[UPDATE: You know Dean is hosed when the yawp raises doubts, even for Your Own Mom:
I don't know if you caught Dean's address to his supporters last night but I'm apparently not the only one who thought he looked and sounded really freaky, almost manic. I guess he was caught up in the moment, but it wasn't like he was even the victor though he acted like it!
Dean is doomed.]
Yeah, I'm sick. Flu, feels like. Yuckville
. In bed for the last fifteen hours ...
Color me slightly bemused (and secretly delighted) at all of the weird subcultures that are the direct result of easy (and anonymous, if necessary) internet communication. One of Meetup's largest membership groups is, of course, Teen Vampires
; their information page specifies who can join:
Meetup with other Vamps, ages 16-19. There are no posers or role players allowed. THIS IS FOR REAL TEEN VAMPIRES.
Fantastic. And a useful introduction to this group
, which, to me, provokes the same intoxicating mixture of glee and dread.
Are blogs eligible for Pulitzers? 'Cuz Kos and his folks
are really outdoing themselves. Fantastic coverage of what's happening in Iowa on the ground.
In other news, Kevin Drum has posted an indictment of Richard Perle
that is a must-read.
You'd probably feel a little better about yourself if you spent some time at Wellstone Action
is pretty interesting, too. Focus on the part called "The Politics of Conviction."
The San Francisco Chronicle is an unrepentantly bad newspaper. It was an unrepentant supporter of the mayoral campaign of Gavin Newsom, to the point of allowing their bias to slant their coverage of the race. If you don't believe me, go read the last-second profiles of Gonzales and Newsom before the election -- it was near-hagiography for Newsom.
I know that it's been overused to the point of being familiar, but does anyone else have a problem with this phrase? It's from a profile of Sharpton
in today's Chron by unrepentant hack John Wildermuth.
For Sharpton, an unrepentant liberal, that means opposition to the death penalty, the war in Iraq, changes in the welfare program and President Bush's tax cut. It means backing national health insurance, gay marriage, affirmative action and statehood for the District of Columbia.
What a joke. And aside from the obvious, it's such awfully lazy writing.
Someone who still has Lexis/Nexis access (sob) please indulge me and search for these two phrases in the news database:
You could make it more interesting by comparing total hits for the last year -- and then comparing total hits in prior years.
Local readers might want to look into Wildermuth's past writing...
SHORTER [AND FAR LESS POLITIC] RON SUSKIND
Beneath everything, Bush is most likely an authentic moron.
Check this interview transcript
from PBS's NewsHour:
What you see, though, is a president who clearly does not show his mind the way other presidents did. I think that is indisputable. Meaning that generally presidents, to their senior most advisors, certainly folks at O'Neill's level as secretary of the Treasury, at some point take over debate, they command a room and even with strong-willed and maybe fractious advisors, they say, "Here's what I think and why I think it. Here's how I get to my conclusions." And men, often powerful men and women leave the room, no matter where they stood going in, saying, "I like the way he thinks." That's crucial. And that's what other presidents that O'Neill served have done, and something that this president almost never does, certainly never does in this book and never does by the estimations of many people that I interviewed.
[UPDATE: I know Suskind writes for/wrote for the Wall Street Journal. Is there any evidence that he has an ideological ax to grind?]
MARK HALPERIN PLAYS OSTRICH
It's strange that the latest edition of ABC News' the Note
has absolutely no mention of the pathetic smear attempt that everyone and their mother has condemned by now.
I hate when news organizations won't report on their own fuckups.
[UPDATE: There's this:
The New York Times front page (!) on Chris Lehane's black arts--which will be the talk of the Democratic subcommittee of the Gang of 500 this morning.. LINK
But no mention that ABC may have willingly participated in Lehane's tactical buffoonery. Nice.]
PIXIES REUNITED -- DATE CONFIRMED
. I'll totally be there, unless I see them somewhere else first...
Radiohead, Kraftwerk, and The Pixies are among the headlining acts who have now confirmed appearances at this year's Coachella festival in Indio, CA, according to reports from Billboard and MTV. The May 1, 2004 date marks the first official booking of the reunited Pixies lineup, first reported to MTV by an unnamed source last September, though it is as yet undisclosed if the Coachella show will be the band's first public appearance since disbanding in 1993.
[Update: Please, someone with a clue start writing for Pitchfork. Recoil in horror at this sentence from their review
of the new Stereolab record:
Of course, Stereolab never really fell "out of favor," per se, but getting two people to agree on the value of their indie-pop stock is a tall order.
Yuck. On so many levels.]
GOP To Reshuffle Swing States; Plan To Redistrict America
by Tom Burka
Texas, South Carolina Will Decide Election This Year, GOP Congress Declares
In a massive "redistricting" of the country, the Republican-controlled Congress has redrawn the boundaries of the states to favor Republicans.
"There's nothing wrong with it," said Rep. Tom Delay, mastermind of the scheme. "If Democrats were in power, this is what they'd be doing."
The boundaries of New York State now include only the relatively conservative upstate area and Staten Island, which is solidly Republican. Democratic New York City is now part of Rhode Island, which will have four electoral votes in November.
Florida now constitutes only those counties that solidly voted for Bush in 2000 and most of Louisiana, to form "Louisiorida," a "Super State" with, according to Delay, "a zillion" electoral votes.
"You carry Louisiorida, Texas, and South Carolina, you pretty much win the election with 600 electoral votes," said Delay, while Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert knelt beside him, spit-shining Delay's shoes.
DEAN STICKERS DON'T GO DOWN WELL IN THE SOUTH
Political violence and intolerance in this country is on the rise.
, one well-written anecdotal account
of the consequences of daring to have a Dean sticker on one's car in the South.
[UPDATE: Here's another account
. Keep 'em coming.]
SEND THE NYT A LETTER
Thanking them for hiring Kruggies
Finally, any Democrat has to expect not just severely slanted coverage from the fair and balanced Republican media, but asymmetric treatment even from the mainstream media. For example, some have said that the intense scrutiny of Mr. Dean's Vermont record is what every governor who runs for president faces. No, it isn't. I've looked at press coverage of questions surrounding Mr. Bush's tenure in Austin, like the investment of state university funds with Republican donors; he got a free pass during the 2000 campaign.
So what's the answer? A Democratic candidate will have a chance of winning only if he has an energized base, willing to contribute money in many small donations, willing to contribute their own time, willing to stand up for the candidate in the face of smear tactics and unfair coverage.
That doesn't mean that the Democratic candidate has to be a radical -- which is a good thing for the party, since all of the candidates are actually quite moderate. In fact, what the party needs is a candidate who inspires the base enough to get out the message that he isn't a radical -- and that Mr. Bush is.
Is anyone as consistently right-on as Krugman in the mainstream press?
CHRIS VLASTO SEEMS TO HAVE AN AGENDA
Okay. The article
says that Howard Dean had, um, a security guard or something that was a wife-beater.
Even without further details, doesn't that seem kind of a stretch?
Read the article and tell me it doesn't emit a fishy stench.
Then go go go go go read Atrios' multiple posts on Chris Vlasto
, one of the authors of the "piece."
Why do nominally "straight" news organizations keep people like this in their employ?
BRAUN EXPECTED TO ENDORSE DEAN
Howard Dean is unelectable. He's too loony liberal for the American people, way-too-conservative-for-the-Democratic-base, too unpredictably unscripted and prone to gaffes, too calculated to be another straight-talkin' McCain, too rural Vermont, too privileged WASP-y New Yorker, too terribly negative, too unashamedly optimistic, too open to chance encounters with the press, too disinterested in the names of press members' pets, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
I know that endorsements are just endorsements. But why is it that Dean has gotten every significant endorsement to date? Clark's raising money at a pretty good clip, and his campaign has certainly picked up steam. And who's endorsed him? Madonna.
Let's see. Gore, Bradley, maybe-Carter, Harkin, Braun
, and others for Dean. Madonna for Clark (forget about those rumors you've heard). I'm honestly puzzled
why Clark wouldn't have gotten a couple of high-profile endorsements somewhere by now.
Someone wanna help me out?
I'VE ALWAYS WANTED MY OWN STATE
West Virginia is up for auction
...or it might just be stupidity
That may sound like a chore, but Bush would certainly rather be there than here. The early-rising president can get crabby and punchy if he doesn't hit the pillow by 10 or so at night. On Monday, Bush was not scheduled even to arrive at a dinner hosted by Mexican President Vicente Fox until 9:10 p.m. local time (10:10 Eastern).
Bush, who returned to the White House on Tuesday night, sounded tired and bored at the few public appearances during his 28-hour visit. His remarks had unusually long pauses. Cutaway television shots captured Bush glowering into space as other heads of state talked about "economic growth with equity to reduce poverty," "investing in people" and "democratic governance."
Little baby pwesident gets cwabby if he doesn't go seepy ear-wy!
Little baby pwesident gets bored and "glowers" when forced to meet with silly leaders-of-other-countries-in-this-hemisphere!
[Aside: Jenna Bush is looking increasingly hot.]
MAMET AND RICKY JAY AS FAUSTUS
Man, I am so excited about this
It's safe to say that I really love Ricky Jay
Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year's Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron's request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several dazzling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, "Come on, Ricky. Why don't you do something truly amazing?"
Baron recalls that at that moment "the look in Ricky's eyes was, like, `Mort- you have just fucked with the wrong person.' "
Jay told Mort to name a card, any card. Mort said, "The three of hearts." After shuffling, Jay gripped the deck in the palm of his right hand and sprung it, cascading all fifty-two cards so that they travelled the length of the table and pelted an open wine bottle.
"O.K., Mort, what was your card again?"
"The three of hearts."
"Look inside the bottle."
Mort discovered, curled inside the neck, the three of hearts. The party broke up immediately.
From his superb New Yorker profile
by Mark Singer.
MATH FREAKS AND FILM FREAKS UNITE
Me and new roommate Ally and Ally's boyfriend Josh are definitely hitting some of these
(Josh is a big math nerd).
ALUMINUM FOIL II
Via the Butt:
of the incident described somewhere below (permalinks/archives coming, I know, I know).
In San Francisco in April
. I missed a chance to see them a few years ago in New York...
A PERLE FOR LIBERAL MEDIA SWINE OR SOMETHING
, TomPaine.com on Richard Perle
, war profiteer:
And then there are Perle's questionable business deals. As he agitates for war, he advises companies who profit from war. Last year, for instance, he briefed investors on ways to make money from U.S. conflicts with North Korea and Iraq. Such controversies forced him to step down as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. But he didn't resign from the board itself; he can still offer his clients the latest inside scoop.
This kind of a track record would send most armchair generals limping back into private life. But that hasn't happened to Perle. He still has the president's ear. And not one interviewer--not Charlie Rose, not NBC's Matt Lauer, not CNN's Wolf Blitzer--has forced him to fully answer the conflict of interest charges.
[edited because of cut-n-paste weirdness]
GAYS ARE ENDANGERING SOCIAL SECURITY
. By not having babies. Who will contribute to social security.
In a homily delivered in Madrid's Almudena cathedral, the head of the country's powerful bishops' conference, Cardinal Rouco Varela, has claimed gay marriages would help bring the country's social security system to its knees.
The problem, Monsenor Rouco suggested, was that gays were incapable of doing the right thing by making babies, whose future social security contributions might help to cover pensions paid to their bereaved partners. He warned of the "dramatic consequences" of allowing gay marriages, or giving unmarried couples of any kind the same rights as married couples, by referring to what he saw as the social and moral disintegration of other, unnamed, European countries.
What about het couples who don't want to have kids?
On a not completely unrelated topic...deep down, don't you hate the boomers? Even if you are one?
RUMMY IN THE HATCH
US military forces in Iraq "appear" to have committed war crimes by detaining relatives of suspected insurgents or wanted former officials, and demolishing their homes, the US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has warned.
Have we wholly adopted the Israeli model for suppressing insurgency? Does anyone care?
CRITICISM = SMEARS
Read Eric Alterman
on the (increasingly tired) pattern of attack the administration uses on its foes (real or imagined).
Anyway, my point here is that the Bush modus operandi is not a coincidence and it oughta be news. It began when John Diullo, back in December 2002, was forced to issue his Stalinesque show-trial recantation.
Remember what he first told Suskind: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you've got is everything-and I mean everything-being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
I wonder what it took toget him to say, "My criticisms were groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples. I sincerely apologize and I am deeply remorseful."
These are people who are apparently willing to break the law and blow a CIA agent's cover in an attempt to smear a man telling an uncomfortable truth--by casting aspersions on his wife. Given all that, I think O'Neill deserves a Presidential Medal of Honor...from the next administration.
O'NEILL IS A TRAITOROUS PINKO COMMIE HIPPIE SCUMBAG
on Paul O'Neill.
WELCOME TO THE CORPORATE POLICE STATE
is simply unbelievable.
Though no guns were brandished, the bust from a distance looked like classic LAPD, DEA or FBI work, right down to the black "raid" vests the unit members wore. The fact that their yellow stenciled lettering read "RIAA" instead of something from an official law-enforcement agency was lost on 55-year-old parking-lot attendant Ceasar Borrayo.
Some enterprising tort lawyer should start writing the false imprisonment complaint.
(The RIAA would just settle.)
GOING TO MARS
A good idea in theory...
has the best take.
Be sure to read the Easterbrook blog-entry
COMPARING BUSH TO HITLER
Not a particularly effective rhetorical device.
Here's Alex Cockburn
quoting one of his CounterPunch
"It's going a bit far to compare the Bush of 2003 to the Hitler of 1933. Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was. But comparisons of the Bush Administration's fear mongering tactics to those practiced so successfully and with such terrible results by Hitler and Goebbels on the German people and their Weimar Republic are not at all out of line."
I think that this is essentially right. But it's not only the Bush Administration; it is the right, generally, that employs tactics similar to those employed by the Nazis. The most eliminationist rhetoric is on the fringes, but the tactical theme pervades almost all current conservative discourse.
(Orcinus) is always
on top of this stuff.
STEAL FROM BANKS AND GET AWAY WITH IT!
I would never advocate illegal behavior.
That said, you can do some interesting things with cashier's checks
if your bank accidentally overcredits your account for some reason.
(It sounds like one has a great deal of negotiating power once the cashier's check is safely in hand.)
MORE FREE SPEECH
I hate calling people names, but this guy
is either part of the creeping crypto-fascist conspiracy or he's a troll.
[UPDATE: I really don't hate calling people names.]
Some folks who, not coincidentally, don't like President Bush, are whining about security provisions during Bush's travels which keep protestors at some distance from him.
Read the complaint
filed in the protestors' lawsuit and tell me if you think they're "whining."
The comments are pseudo-arguments written by barely articulate monkeys.
RUSS SMITH IS A TOTAL ASSHOLE
DIONNE ON DEAN
I (tentatively) support Dean at this point. That said, E.J. Dionne's observations about Dean
are worth reading.
I'm pro-Dean mostly because of the transformative effect of his candidacy on Democrats. Dionne:
On the one hand: Dean has done an amazing thing by single-handedly building an activist organization and a money machine based on small contributors. This is exactly what the Democratic Party needs.
But I still have serious questions. Dionne again:
On the other hand: Notice how much of the above is about process. What about the candidate? Is he too arrogant, a trust-fund baby, a closet secularist who suddenly discovers religion only after the New Republic writes that his distance from people of faith will doom his candidacy? Why does he keep shooting his mouth off?
Questions about Dean himself are too often ignored by true-blue Dean supporters. Though Dean's missteps haven't seemed to have hurt him too badly yet, there's no guarantee that they won't in the future. Only a portion of Dean's negative press can be assigned to the preponderance of anti-Dean media and the attacks by the other Dem candidates; the rest must be assigned to Dean himself.
Deanies, energized by the candidate's plain-talk charisma and the Dean movement itself, tend to ignore Dean's penchant for political clumsiness.
Dionne concludes with a couple of really important questions:
In an interview, Greenberg posed these questions about Dean: "Can he speak of faith, can he speak of God, can he speak of the culture of rural and working-class America in a way that is natural? Does he transcend the culture of the secular information world that he's part of and speak in a way that people outside that world can see as accessible?"
Those are the right questions, which Dean's awkward forays into theology and Confederate memorabilia did little to settle. Dean won't become president unless he deals with them successfully.
Via the Butt:
A lone book titled "Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends" was untouched.
But nearly everything else in Chris Kirk's downtown Olympia apartment was
encased in aluminum foil when he returned home Monday night from a trip to
The power of aluminum foil
HARKIN (AND THE REST)
, looks like Harkin will endorse Dean
. Assuming that Dean's comments about Iowa
don't dent him too badly, I think this puts Dean over the top in Iowa.
A friend asked me last night for a 30-second version of how the primaries work. The best update I've seen so far is this Kos post
WELCOME TO LATIN AMERICA
Bush is off to Mexico on January 12.
From the International Herald Tribune
A recent poll by Zogby International found that 87 percent of Latin American opinion-makers disapproved of Bush's policy in the region. Another, by Latinobarometro, found that nearly a third of Latin Americans had a negative image of the United States - a twofold increase since 2000.
BLIND MAN'S PENIS
One of my favorite pranks
I picked up a John Trubee
CD at the RE/Search Pranks! conference
here in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. The songs aren't bad. The prank phone calls are absolutely inspired.
THE WU-TANG CLAN AND HOWARD DEAN
allows you to determine your Wu-Tang Clan
Mine is MASTER WARRIOR.
And Howard Dean?
"Howard Dean from this day forward
you will also be known as Erratic Contender"
THE INJURED IN IRAQ
A great NPR piece
The number of injured soldiers is unknown, but is probably greater than 10,000 (the Army alone has evacuated almost 9,000 injured soldiers).
WE'VE WON THE WAR
is essential reading from Calpundit on how liberalism has won the rhetorical war.
Like, as opposed to not reading a newspaper at all?
The new anti-Dean ad
that the "Club for Growth" is running is wonderfully impotent. Watch it -- and then compare it with the stuff at Bushin30Seconds.org
And watch how much money Dean raises because of the ad.
More of the same, please, "Club for Growth."
I really loved Gregg Easterbrook's ESPN football column. It almost (but not quite) made a football fan out of me.
Easterbrook wrote prolifically elsewhere, including a blog for The New Republic which got him in trouble (and eventually fired by ESPN).
The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting article
about the incident, which included criticisms of Tarantino's movie Kill Bill along with allegations of anti-semitism.
(I guess Easterbrook's NFL stuff is now on NFL.com, but I don't seem to get there regularly...)
Rumors have it that Siouxsie
has died. They may just be rumors, though.
Anyone have any tips on any of Musto's latest blind items
BUSH IN 30 SECONDS
are up. Watch 'em.
INSTEAD OF GIVEAWAYS TO THE WEALTHY
This is important.
Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post suggests
that Dean is considering a proposal to cut payroll taxes (check the last para of the article).
If Dean rolls out such a plan, it could offset what many strategists see as a big liability: his support of what amounts to a nearly $2 trillion tax increase by calling for a repeal of Bush's tax cuts.
Dean is being beaten around the face and neck by the other Dems on middle-class taxes; cutting the payroll tax cuts off that debate. And it would be awfully useful as a contrast to the Bush tax cut's skew towards the wealthy.
Here's Reich on payroll tax regressivity
Everyone hates taxes, but the payroll tax has got to be the worst. Four out of five American workers pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. The payroll tax is also regressive as hell -- poorer workers pay proportionately more than richer ones. It's paid out of the very first dollar earned, all the way up to a threshold that's now roughly $80,000. After that, nothing. (Wealthy earners pay only the tiny Medicare portion of the payroll tax on all their earnings.) So the very rich get finished paying almost all their payroll taxes early in the year. Bill Gates is done a few minutes past midnight, New Year's Eve. True, poorer retirees get back more each year from Social Security and Medicare than richer retirees, relative to the yearly payroll taxes they contributed when they worked. But poorer retirees don't live nearly as long as richer ones. So, overall, the system's still regressive.
Reich says cutting the payroll tax would pep up the economy in the long run.)
Which Dems are supporting this now? Only one
that's still in the race. The other is Bob Graham...
What if you actually were what you regularly ordered at Starbucks?
I would be a large, mild drip.
P.S. Starbucks sucks, etc., but their mild morning coffee is leagues ahead of the other Noe Valley joints.
P.P.S. I totally fight the power by not using their special sizing code brainwashing language, i.e., "venti."