I'm off for the weekend -- and starting a new job on Monday or Tuesday -- so this space will be blissfully content-free for a few days.
get to see the Pixies. Wow.
Donate to John Kerry
while I'm gone.
[stolen from Billmon
THIS ONE IS FOR MOM AND DAD
Call Jim Doyle and thank him
THIS IS THE NEW GOP
Silent Assassin is not too busy making bucks in NYC to keep an eye on the the new, improved, "compassionate" GOP
The New Mexico Republican Central Committee has voted to censure the Sandoval County clerk, who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The resolution says Republican Victoria Dunlap has brought disgrace to the party.
"Other than assassination, all we can do is censure her," said committee chairman Richard Gibbs.
DON'T LOOK AWAY
Old friend Zach from Ordo
on the legend
4/19 PRESS GAGGLE? GONE, GONE, GONE
Still not on the WH webpage
. No one's talking about it.
The elephant in the room on the North Korea train collision story is the possibility that it was an assassination attempt
against Kim Jong-Il.
Haven't heard this possibility even breathed
anywhere, even on the BBC.
...well, the BBC at least raises the possibility
on their website:
Correspondents say there are various theories about the explosion; there is speculation that it may have been an attack aimed at Mr Kim though South Korean officials have dismissed this.
...okay, the Guardian
mentions it too. I take it back.
North Korea's ruler, Kim Jong Il, had passed through the area on a specially fitted train only nine hours before en route back to the capital, Pyongyang, after an unannounced four-day summit in Beijing. The talks were aimed at restarting negotiations to dismantle the North's nuclear weapons programs that have been deadlocked for months. Though the timing of Kim's travel through the area raised speculation that the explosions might have been the result of a failed assassination attempt, U.S. and South Korea officials dismissed this hypothesis as unlikely.
"All indications at the moment are that the cause of the explosion was purely accidental," said one U.S. official.
What is this "all indications" baloney? I could understand if this was a reference to internal US intelligence or something, but I seriously doubt that anyone really knows what happened. I'm sure that the current administration would love to chop the head off of one of the "axis" countries, though. If this is a botched covert action on the part of the US, we're all in some serious danger.
IT's SO ... LONG
BigD reports that the press gaggle referenced here
-- the one where poor Scotty M is triple-penetrated, screaming, on the issue of the criminal Saudi gas deal -- is no longer on the White House press briefings page
GET ME REWRITE!
Let's reproduce what Josh Marshall posted of the transcript of the vanished gaggle, just on principle:
QUESTION: Can you describe conversations between the White House and Prince Bandar about his essential promise to lower oil prices before the election?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you heard from Prince Bandar a few weeks ago about --
QUESTION: He didn’t talk specifically about the election.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the most recent conversation that we had with him regarding oil prices. And he expressed his views out at the stakeout to you all that Saudi Arabia is committed to making sure prices remained in a range, I believe it’s $22 to $28 price per barrel of oil, and that they don’t want to do anything that would harm our consumers or harm our economy. So he made those comments at the stakeout and we’ve made our views very clear that prices should be determined by market forces, and that we are always in close contact with producers around the world on these issues to make sure that actions aren’t taken that harm our consumers or harm our economy.
QUESTION: There were no conversations specifically about the President’s reelection?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can ask Prince Bandar to --
QUESTION: But from the point -- I mean, conversations are obviously two ways.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- what his comments were. But the conversations we have are related to our long-held views that we have stated repeatedly publicly, that market forces should determine prices.
QUESTION: To follow up on that then, I would gather that the White House view is one of expectation that the Saudis would increase oil production between now and November.
MR. McCLELLAN: Our views are very well-known to Saudi Arabia. Prince Bandar made a commitment at the stakeout that I will let speak for itself. You all should look back to those remarks.
QUESTION: We’re missing the allegation here, which is that Prince Bandar and the Saudis have made a commitment to lower oil prices to help the President politically. Is that your --
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going to speak for Prince Bandar. You can direct those comments to him. I can tell you that what our views are and what he said at the stakeout is what we know his views are, as well.
QUESTION: Does the White House have any knowledge of such a commitment?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Does the White House have any knowledge of such a commitment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I’m not going to speak for Prince Bandar. You can direct those questions --
QUESTION: Is there a deal?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- I wouldn’t speculate one way or the other. You can direct those questions to him, but I’m telling you --
QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speculate either. Do you have knowledge of such a commitment?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m telling you what our views are and what we've stated, and I'm telling you what I do know, which is that our position is very clear when it comes to oil prices and what our views are. And Prince Bandar spoke to you all just a few weeks ago out at the stakeout after meeting with some White House officials and expressed --
QUESTION: So you have no knowledge of such a commitment?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and expressed their view. I'm not going to try to speak for Prince Bandar. You can direct those questions to him.
QUESTION: The President is confident that the American elections are not being manipulated by the world's largest oil producer?
MR. McCLELLAN: Our view is that the markets should determine --
QUESTION: The market doesn't. It's a cartel.
MR. McCLELLAN: But our view is that that's what -- that the markets should determine prices. And that's the view we make very clear to producers around the world, including our friends in OPEC.
WRITE YOUR OWN HEADLINE
The McDonald's chairman and chief executive, Jim Cantalupo, architect of a dramatic turnaround at the fast food business, has died of an apparent heart attack, the company said yesterday. McDonald's shares closed down more than 2.5% on the news.
I know, not entirely original. Atkins, the diet guru, was supposedly a fatty in terrible shape when he died, right?
Appropo of nothing, this all reminds me of comic Bill Hicks ranting
about the running advocate Jim Fixx:
I'm Jim Fixx and I'm dead now. And I don't know what the fuck happened. I jogged every day, ate nothing but tofu, swam five hundred laps every morning, and I'm dead. Yul Bryner drank, smoke, and got laid every night of his life. He's dead. Shit! Yul Bryner's smokin', drinkin', girls are sitting on his cueball noggin, every night of his life! I'm running around a dewy track at dawn. And we're both fucking dead. Yul used to pass me on his way home in the morning, big long limousine, two girls blowing him, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. "One day that life is going to get to you, Yul." They're both dead. Yeah, but what a healthy looking corpse you were, Jim. Look at the hamstrings on that corpse! Look at the sloppy grin on Yul's corpse! Yul Bryner lived his life. Sure, he died a 78-pound stick figure, okay. There are certain drawbacks.
OUR SLUMPING MILITARY MEN
has another story of our steely resolve in Iraq--our show of strength that will let the world
know that you just don't fuck
with the U S of friggin' A
The Scotsman also reported on the breakdown of negotiations with some pessimism, and noted that ' The pressures appeared to be taking their toll on US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who appeared to briefly lose consciousness during a press conference yesterday. Kimmitt left the podium, apparently feeling unwell, but returned a short time later. '
Someone more poetic than me should construct a grand Kimmitt/situation-in-Iraq analogy.
has a funny for Saturday.
A LITTLE CHILLY
Through Matt Yglesias I found Arkhangel's plan
for winning in Iraq. It includes, of course, boots on the ground:
This almost goes without saying, but it needs to be said. We cannot accomplish our myriad missions with the numbers we currently have. Currently, we're tasked with two big missions: quelling the insurgency and securing the borders. We can do either, but not both--and while we've struggled heroically to accomplish both of these tasks, increasingly, the struggle is becoming more and more taxing.
Note that he's not even talking about Afghanistan here. So what to do? The draft. Draft draft draft.
Here's the politically unpalatable part: the President's going to have to either mobilize the remainder of the Guard & Reserve force, or implement the draft. ... At some point, we have to seriously consider restarting the draft, if only because we're in dire need of bodies, and I'm not certain that, given the situation in Iraq, enough people will volunteer to join the military. If Iraq is truly the epic struggle that it is, then we need to treat it as such. We cannot wage this war with half-measures, as we've been doing. Either we bring the full power and might of our war machine to bear against this enemy, or we might as well quit needlessly tossing lives away in a half-hearted struggle in support of a vague, half-baked notion.
This meme is rising; Juan Cole
said essentially the same thing on the BBC last night. I can agree with all of this tactically; it's obvious that we need more boots on the ground in all of these places if we expect to "win." What these tacticians are ignoring is the political reality of the draft: if the draft is reinstated in the United States, the Iraq war is over
. You think public scrutiny of the war is intense now
? Wait until everyone's sons and daughters are threatened with Iraqi AK fire. You think opposition to Bush among the young is fierce now
? Wait until they are personally threatened by this adminstration's ideological bungling.
Talking about a draft is therefore foolish. It's just not gonna happen. It'd be the end of the Republican party's grip on power for a generation.
(Should the left be pushing for the draft, then?)
...Hagel comes out
for the draft three days later.
SEPARATED AT EXORCISM?
In a time of dark need comes Monster with the following magical photogasmic comparison:
Compare Ariel Sharon
THE MILITARY HATES THE ADMINISTRATION
From esteemed civil rights advocate Robert Novak
But Afghanistan also needs more troops. So where will they come from? Nobody knows, and that connotes an overcommitment by the United States and a miscalculation at the Defense Department. The uniformed military does not speak out publicly, but the generals are outraged. A former national security official considers the relationship at the Pentagon between civilians and the military as worse than at any time in his long career.
If the current president is the one who is so pro-military, and if polls show that the American public trusts Bush in national security affairs more than they trust Kerry, why does the military hate the Bush administration? Why do they hate Rumsfeld? Sour grapes? Liberal propaganda?
Remember, this is Novak
. He ain't exactly an objective journalist.
Saddam has been moved
out of Iraq because the CPA was worried that he'd be busted out by the insurgents.
Two NYT op-eds on questions for Condi Rice tomorrow: here
. Good stuff. Compare and contrast with tomorrow.
I haven't found Juan Cole to be particularly partisan, though I haven't been reading him long. So what follows
is not, as far as I can tell, lefty raving. Instead, it's, well, informed commentary about the reality of what's happening.
But major fighting in most Shiiite urban areas is unambiguous in its significance. It means that the Bush administration rule of Iraq is FUBAR. It seems inevitable to me that the US military will pursue a war to the death with the Army of the Mahdi, the Sadrist movement, and Muqtada al-Sadr himself. They will of course win this struggle on the surface and in the short term, because of their massive firepower. But the Sadrists will simply go underground and mount a longterm guerrilla insurgency similar to that in the Sunni areas.
The United States has managed to create a failed state, similar to Somalia and Haiti, in Iraq.
...and don't be surprised to see stuff like this happen:
The Mahdi Army kidnapped and held 2 South Korean human rights workers from Sunday through Tuesday, but Korean authorities said they had been released. (This development reminds one of the terrible "hostage crisis" in Lebanon during the 1980s, and may be yet another tactic in the quiver of the Sadrists).
Wal-Mart suffered a crushing defeat
in its ballot attempt to create its own sovereign zone close to LA.
(Yahoo: "Leaning away"? 70-30 is not a leaner. Sorry.)
About the seriousness of the Iraq situation can be found in great quantities on Instapundit, if one cared to look.
CONGRATULATIONS, PRESIDENT BUSH
From today's Iraq'd
, from the New Republic:
Congratulations, President Bush. You have turned a marginal enemy, the thuggish and anti-democratic cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, into a symbol of Shia aspirations in a free Iraq. The Washington Post describes the stakes: "If put down forcefully, a Shiite uprising--infused with religious imagery, and symbols drawn from Iraq's colonial past and the current Palestinian conflict--could achieve a momentum of its own."
Read the whole thing.
He's a stumbling, bumbling fool, who can't even come up
with a non-garbled answer to the most important question he's faced with.
: Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back?
: No, the intention is to make sure the deadline remains the same. I believe we can transfer authority by June 30th. We're working toward that day. We're, obviously, constantly in touch with Jerry Bremer on the transfer of sovereignty. The United Nations is over there now. The United Nations representative is there now to work on the -- on a -- on to whom we transfer sovereignty. I mean, in other words, it's one thing to decide to transfer. We're now in the process of deciding what the entity will look like to whom we will transfer sovereignty. But, no, the date remains firm.
I LIVE IN THE STATE OF WAL-MART. YOU?
. Mindblowing example of the exercise of corporate power:
While Wal-Mart has turned to the ballot in a number of cities and towns to win the right to build its giant emporiums, the Inglewood initiative is significantly different. The proposal would essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules. Wal-Mart has hired an advertising and public relations firm to market the initiative and is spending more than $1 million to support the measure, known as initiative 04-A.
The company is blanketing the community, which is roughly half African-American and half Latino, with mailers and telephone calls and is broadcasting advertisements on television stations with black and Latino audiences.
Company officials say that Wal-Mart adopted this aggressive new tactic only after it became clear that Inglewood officials — backed by allies in organized labor, church groups and community organizations — would never approve the complex. Wal-Mart is strongly anti-union.
All four members of the Inglewood City Council oppose the project, along with the area's congresswoman and state assemblyman. One Inglewood council member, Curren D. Price Jr., who is a lawyer and expert on community development, said he had researched Wal-Mart's plans across the country and had not found a single instance in which the company sought such broad exemption from local control.
"That's what's so offensive," Mr. Price said.
"We're talking about 60 acres and an area covering 17 football fields and they don't want to have any give and take on how this thing rolls out," he said.
YGLESIAS ON MCCAIN FOR VEEP
By those criteria, McCain is a great choice. He is by all accounts an honorable man, and has walked the walk for several years now of a responsible budgeter, a good-government type, and of someone who values free markets over a "pro-business" attitude. In one possible universe, this is the future of the Democratic Party. Democrats become the party of reasonable conservatism, allied with a mildly progressive attitude toward the social issues, while the GOP continues to be the party of fanatics and the corrupt. In another, better possible universe, the Republicans become the party of responsible conservatism while Democrats have a chance to advance the progressive agenda.
Now it's not clear to me what kind of decision for 2004 is more likely to bring about the better scenario. Under one theory, if the Democrats stand their ground and fight, they're bound to win sometime -- 2004, perhaps, or else 2008 or 2012 -- and perhaps a Democratic victory will lead the GOP to reform their ways. On this theory, if the Democrats compromise too far in pursuit of victory, then the GOP never reforms and we have Scenario I. The other way of looking at it, is that if you got McCain on the ticket, the Dems might really kick some ass, albeit with a watered-down platform. Said ass-kicking causes the Republicans to realize they're doomed unless they clean up their act, and then Scenario II develops down the road.
I don't really know.
I'd vote for a Kerry-McCain ticket if it were on the ballot, and pretty enthusiastically, but I'm far from certain that would be the right way to go.
McCain is a conservative. So what? Veeps have no power. He would grin and bear it on most things, and maybe he would say that he differs with the administration on other things (abortion?). If he ran with Kerry, it would realign how Americans think about parties, which is very important.
If you're truly ABB, then, with McCain, what is lost for the progressive agenda by having a relatively conservative VP is massively outweighed by removing Bunnypants and his corrupt gang of quasi-fascist thugs from office.
is the person you turn to when you want to know what's really
going on in Iraq.
The problem began in some ways on Sunday March 28, when Paul Bremer decided to close the main Sadrist newspaper, al-Hawza, purportedly for publishing material that incited violence against Coalition troops. Many observers in Iraq said that move was a mistake, since no specific violence could be traced to the newspaper, and closing it was itself a provocation. As it turns out, it seems clear that the newspaper closing played into Muqtada al-Sadr's apocalyptic mindset. He became convinced that it meant the US planned to silence him and destroy his movement, leaving him no choice but to launch an uprising. The Coalition, which just closed a newspaper for 2 months, probably thought of it as a relatively mild response to Sadr's own provocations. But Muqtada saw his father and brothers cut down by Saddam and he is clearly a paranoid personality deeply traumatized by Baath terror against Shiites, and he views the Americans as little different from the Baathists. Saddam also sent warnings to Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, in January of 1999, which were a prelude to Sadiq's assassination in February of that year. In Muqtada's own mind, the Coalition 'warnings' may also have been perceived as a prelude to removing him. The US army appears to have seriously threatened him with arrest or worse last October.
Serious nerds will want to read his article "The United States and Shi`ite Factions in Post-Baath Iraq"
in The Middle East Journal. Volume 57, Number 4, Autumn 2003, pp. 543-566.
'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes.'
Right-wing asshole blogger threatens to put pressure
on lefty blogger Kos's advertisers.
I'm on the side of Kos and Steve on this one. Watch it, Glenn, you fourth-rate monkey. There are lots of lefty bloggers out there too -- enough to disrupt your shit. You link
it, you've used your platform to endorse it, and you're targetted too.
The rest of this space is for Kos
I was angry that five soldiers -- the real heroes in my mind -- were killed the same day and got far lower billing in the newscasts. I was angry that 51 American soldiers paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly in Iraq in March alone. I was angry that these mercenaries make more in a day than our brave men and women in uniform make in an entire month. I was angry that the US is funding private armies, paying them $30,000 per soldier, per month, while the Bush administration tries to cut our soldiers' hazard pay. I was angry that these mercenaries would leave their wives and children behind to enter a war zone on their own violition.
So I struck back.
Unlike the vast majority of people in this country, I actually grew up in a war zone. I witnessed communist guerillas execute students accused of being government collaborators. I was 8 years old, and I remember stepping over a dead body, warm blood flowing from a fresh wound. Dodging bullets while at market. I lived in the midsts of hate the likes of which most of you will never understand (Clinton and Bush hatred is nothing compared to that generated when people kill each other for politics or race or nationality). There's no way I could ever describe the ways this experience colors my worldview.
Back to Iraq, our men and women in uniform are there under orders, trying to make the best of an impossible situation. The war is not their fault, and I will always defend their honor and bravery to the end of my days. But the mercenary is a whole different deal. They willingly enter a war zone, and do so because of the paycheck. They're not there for humanitarian reasons (I doubt they'd donate half their paycheck to the Red Cross or whatever). They're there because the money is DAMN good. They answer to no one except their CEO. They are dangerous, hence international efforts (however fruitless they may be) to ban their use.
So not only was I wrong to say I felt nothing over their deaths, I was lying. I felt way too much. Nobody deserves to die. But in the greater scheme of things, there are a lot of greater tragedies going on in Iraq (51 last month, plus countless civilians and Iraqi police). That those tragedies are essentially ignored these days is, ultimately, the greatest tragedy of all.
How many of these chickenhawks on the right have seen war? A bunch of corpulent, entrenched, privileged white males stinking up the blogosphere and making threats. I've had enough.
...you can find ways to support Kos here
Via Pandagon, looks like the Dem Party offices in Scottsdale, AZ have been broken into twice
in the last few weeks.
The first time
The only thing taken in the first incident was a computer's hard drive with information about precinct committee members, mailing lists and fund-raising.
The computer monitor and keyboard were left behind and there were no signs of forced entry in the burglary, said Detective Sam Bailey, a spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department.
No sign of forced entry suggests either an inside job or a professional.
The second time
On Thursday morning, volunteers discovered that the office's window at the reception area was broken overnight with a rock.
The rock appeared to be from a statue in the office complex. The vandal would have had to bypass three other offices to hit the Democrats' headquarters, Chusid said.
The author of "Home At War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement" reported on March 25th
that three boxes of FBI documents about the Vietnam War-era FBI surveillance of John Kerry were stolen from his home.
"It was a very clean burglary. They didn't break any glass. They didn't take anything like cameras sitting by. It was a very professional job," Nicosia said.
"Was it a thrill-seeker who wanted a piece of history? It could be," Nicosia said. "You'd think there was a very strong political motivation for taking those files. The odds are in favor of that."
"Dirty tricks" is too subtle. This is extralegal action and if it continues, may warrant serious (extralegal) action from the left.
I haven't really listened to Franken yet. Garafolo is sharper than I thought she would be.
The real star for me at this point is Randi Rhodes
. She's sassy and ultra-smart, and she's very, very easy to listen to. No growing pains like the other non-radio people are clearly experiencing.
will only be amusing to hardcore blog readers.
From Al Kamen's In The Loop
Double or Nothing
The White House's request that Vice President Cheney and President Bush be together to chat with the 9/11 commission has sparked the usual snarky and wholly unfair media commentary about how Bush needs Cheney to get his story straight.
It could well be the other way around, as former New Jersey governor and commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean told reporters Wednesday.
"Can you say why you would agree to have the vice president and the president testify at the same time?" New York Post reporter Vince Morris asked Kean. "It seems . . . it might be to allow, you know, Mr. Cheney to help Mr. Bush with the answers. . . . It seems like it compromises your investigation to have them answer questions at the same time."
"Well, we recognize that Mr. Bush may help Mr. Cheney with some of the answers," Kean said to "scattered laughter," according to a transcript. "But . . . it was the suggestion of the White House," Kean said, "and it seemed to us, in exchange for getting all 10 commissioners to be able to ask any questions" and to have a staffer in there as well, "that we'd get the answers to the questions we needed to write the report."
They are just so unfair.
QUESTIONS FOR CONDI
has 'em. In addition, I'd ask about what she knows about the attempt to smear Clarke.
Here's an excerpt:
: Richard Cheney has claimed that before September 11, 2001, Richard Clarke was "out of the loop" on important counterterrorism matters. What important matters relevant to counterterrorism was Richard Clarke--the administration's counterterrorism coordinator--not informed of before September 11?
Follow Up Q
: Whose policy decision was it that the counterterrorism coordinator would not be
allowed to coordinate--would not be informed of--important aspects of counterterrorism?
Follow Up Q
: [If Rice backs Cheney] Wasn't this keeping the counterterrorism coordinator
from having the information he needed to do his job a really stupid idea?
Follow Up Q
: [If Rice contradicts Cheney] So you are saying that Richard Cheney is not trustworthy?
OUR SORDID PAST
Doing some research, and came across this little tidbit -- a blast from the past, if you will:
A Newport News [VA] woman charged with a felony for receiving oral sex in a car is challenging a state law that prohibits certain types of sex between consenting adults.
A police officer says he found the 21-year-old woman in a parked car receiving oral sex from a man about 3 a.m. Jan. 29. Both were charged with a felony under the statute for crimes against nature.
Ha ha! Funny, huh? But, y'know, things were different in 1952. A more innocent time. Blah blah blah.
Of course (not like you didn't see it coming), the punchline is that this tidbit
is from yesterday's Newport News [VA] Daily Press. Unbelievable, right?
But there's even more
. Jacob Levy over at Volokh has the story
THE SOUTHERN STRATEGY?
Mark Schmitt is enormously erudite and this piece
is very, very good.
Here's an excerpt:
With the election of Bush, whose aggressive rejection of his father's Northeastern and Ivy League conservatism makes him the first president to come out of the tradition of the White South since Woodrow Wilson, the White South finally found its dream: it dominates national politics unchecked. It no longer holds the balance of power: Bush, Rove, DeLay, Lott and then Frist hold power, period. And the agenda of military spending, tax cuts, corporate subsidies, minimal social provision, and hate cloaked in religious/moral language, occasionally colored with populist rhetoric unrelated to the policies, which sometimes seems so strange to students of true conservatism, is not unfamiliar to the South. It is the same gruel that conservative Southern governors have been dishing out for dozens of years. The idea that government is an alien and oppressive force, while remaining dependent on military spending, development spending such as TVA, and subsidized industries such as oil and sugar, is a product of Southern, and to some extent Western politics.
Read the whole thing.