Spencer Blog Archives 2-03
Boy, you ought to read this story.
The Kurds are now threatening to fight the Turks if they're allowed to send soldiers into the Kurdish region of Iraq. Now, folks, IraqWar Part II could quite easily blow up in W's face.
This would be a disaster folks and our soldiers would be caught right square in the middle of it.
Surely W's smart enough to rethink this, isn't he?
But you and I know the answer to that question, don't we?
Posted by Tom at 7:44 p.m. CST
It's been a busy day folks!
Unlike W and the boys, it appears that Hans Blix believes the Iraq decision to destroy the missiles is a positive step.
Here's a bit of this article:
Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix hailed Iraq’s announcement Friday that it would begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles on Saturday as “a very significant piece of real disarmament,” setting up a potential showdown with the United States, which dismissed it as a trick that fell far short of U.N. demands.
“MY ATTITUDE about Saddam Hussein is that if he had any intention of disarming, he would have disarmed,” President Bush said in an interview with USA Today. He added: “We will disarm him now.”
Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, denied that Bush’s comments suggested war was inevitable but said the Iraqi announcement was irrelevant.
“The president views this as continued trickery, continued deception. I think it’s fair to say that the Iraqi regime is a deception wrapped in a lie inside a fraud,” he said.
Isn't it great when W, the dope, forgets to follow the script?
Pssst. W, you're not supposed to make it so obvious that the decision for war has been made -- and was two months ago. The White House keeps insisting the president hasn't made the decision for war and then he says something like this that makes it clear he has.
BTW, if it's a trick W, why don't you explain how it's a"trick" to destroy these missiles?
We really are being led by a bunch of morons, aren't we?
It appears we're going to be doing this by ourselves folks. The U.N. isn't going to be providing us with a fig leaf I'm afraid. This is W's war folks. It's not going to be the U.N.'s war too.
Americans want U.N. backing and it doesn't appear W is going to have it.
The war had better go well -- or he's done.
Posted by Tom at 5:00 p.m. CST
The administration has responded to Iraq's agreement to destroy the missiles.
It's as lame and full of innuendo as I thought it would be:
President Bush said on Thursday any Iraqi plan to destroy banned missiles was part of"a campaign of deception" and he called for Baghdad to disarm completely.
"The discussion about these rockets is part of his campaign of deception," Bush said."See, he'll say, 'I'm not going to destroy the rockets' and then he'll have a change of mind this weekend and destroy the rockets and say, 'I've disarmed."'
U.N. arms inspectors say the al-Samoud 2 rockets violate the 93-mile range limit imposed after the 1991 Gulf war and called for Iraq to start destroying them by March 1.
"The rockets are just the tip of the iceberg. The only question at hand is total, complete disarmament, which he is refusing to do," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office.
Now beyond the fact that very little of this statement makes much sense at all, where's your evidence?
Okay, W, and I want you to show me something that hasn't been debunked or isn't just ginned up as evidence.
Show me something that doesn't completely fall apart upon close scrutiny like Powell's presentation.
W is beginning to sound just a wee bit desperate, isn't he?
Posted by Tom at 12:30 p.m. CST
W and the boys just got some bad news. Russia is now threatening a veto of the U.S.-U.K.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq.
It's looking like it's back to unilateralism again.
And now, predictably, the terrorism begins -- this time in, surprise surprise, Pakistan!
And these deaths are apparently directly related to W's drive to go to war with Iraq.
These are the first deaths of probably quite a few to come that are directly a result of W's Iraq policy.
Posted by Tom at 12:17 p.m. CST
You really should read this piece by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times this morning.
It appears W is seriously considering airstrikes against North Korea's nuclear facilities. Honestly, I can understand why he's thinking about this. It is tempting to consider ending the rather serious threat to the world posed by North Korea's nuclear program.
However, there's a rather large problem with this idea.
It would more than likely lead to a war between the two Koreas immediately.
Surely W's smarter than this, isn't he?
Posted by Tom at 9:40 a.m. CST
This morning's Krugman column on the economic and fiscal disaster that is the Bush administration is quite good.
Here's a bit of it:
Why is the administration so uninterested in helping the economy? Here's my theory: The depressed state of the economy provides a convenient if bogus rationale for the huge, extremely irresponsible long-run tax cuts that, after Iraq, constitute this administration's principal obsession. To do anything else to help the economy would suggest that it's possible to create jobs now without putting the country's future solvency at risk — and that's not a message this administration wants to convey.
I almost feel sorry for Mr. Mankiw, who I suspect has no idea what he's getting into; I'm sure he will soon feel frustrated over his inability to have any real influence on this disastrous policy. But on second thought I'll save my sympathy for the two million people who have lost their jobs over the past two years, and are not likely to find new ones any time soon.
Krugman so far has been absolutely on-target all the way back to his predictions from the campaign year of 2000.
You should pay much more attention to what Krugman says than anything that comes out of the self-serving economic and fiscal reports of this administration. They lie more on the economy than any administration in my lifetime.
How long are Americans going to put up with this before they wise up?
I honestly don't know.
Posted by Tom at 8:45 a.m. CST
MWO points us to this statement from Bill O'Reilly on his program last night:
"Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can't do that, just shut up.
Americans, and indeed our foreign allies who actively work against our military once the war is underway, will be considered enemies of the state by me.
Just fair warning to you, Barbra Streisand and others who see the world as you do. I don't want to demonize anyone, but anyone who hurts this country in a time like this, well. Let's just say you will be spotlighted.
Talking points invites all points of view and believes vigorous debate strengthens the country, but once decisions have been made and lives are on the line, patriotism must be factored in."
My goodness. We are an obnoxious venomous loudmouth aren't we?
Digby goes further in his analysis:
The phrase"Enemy of the State" is not usually used by Americans, now is it? But, it certainly has a familiar ring to it. Where have we heard it before??
The Kulaks Are the Enemy of the State
-- Joseph Stalin
The Indian shopkeepers are the Enemy of the State
The white farmers are the Enemy of the State
-- Robert Mugabe
The Jewish shopkeepers are the Enemy of the State
-- Adolph Hitler
Great minds do think alike.
Posted by Tom at 9:01 p.m. CST
Boy, you should go read this post by Ampersand.
I'll warn you though. It's going to make you pretty angry.
W, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell have been lying to us about the testimony of an Iraqi defector.
And it's not a small lie they've been telling.
It's a great big one.
Update:Here's the actual press release from FAIR.
Posted by Tom at 8:47 p.m. CST
I have just now read John Brady Kiesling's resignation letter to Colin Powell. It is a withering -- but absolutely accurate -- critique of this administration's foolish foreign policy.
You owe it to yourself to read all of it. I'll quote only one paragraph here so that you'll want to go read it:
The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to do to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?
And that's just a small portion of it.
Democrats should learn this letter by heart. The critique in this letter effectively destroys the arguments advanced in favor of this administration's warmongering unilateralist foreign policy.
You can never be sure but we may be remembering this letter years from now as the beginning of the end for this administration. After all, foreign policy is the only thing W gets good marks on from the public -- and those marks aren't even that good.
This letter provides the most effective critique I've seen yet of everything that's wrong with this administration's foreign policy.
Go read it.
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 8:12 p.m. CST
what the White House is going to say now that it appears Saddam has agreed to destroy the al-Samoud missiles.
I just can't wait.
Whatever it is, I'm sure it will involve a lot of bluster and innuendo without any real evidence.
In other words, it will be just like the rest of their case against Iraq.
Posted by Tom at 5:06 p.m. CST
I'll be damned.
W and the boys haven't twisted enough arms or bribed enough people yet.
Posted by Tom at 3:04 p.m. CST
Do you want to know how W and the boys manipulate the press corps and pressure them into reporting things their way?
Go here to find out.
I'll warn you. It's pretty depressing stuff.
Here's a snippet of it:
Toward the end of the press conference today, a reporter from South America raises the question of President Bush bribing foreign governments to side with the United States against the will of their own people on war with Iraq.
This is obviously happening, and has been reported just today by the Associated Press and USA Today, among others. The United States is sending billions of taxpayer dollars to countries like Spain and Turkey, where more than 90 percent of the people oppose the war. We bribe their governments to turn against the will of their own people.
And the President talks about exporting democracy?
Nice shot, huh?
Go read the rest of it.
Posted by Tom at 1:25 p.m. CST
I must admit that W's claim that this war will lead to transcendent peace is pretty amazing. It's the"War to End All Wars" I guess now. In many ways, as Dave Johnson has pointed out, W is now claiming, a la George Orwell's 1984, that"war is peace."
However, since we're claiming we're going to install democracy in Iraq, let's review our record in the country we claimed we were going encourage democracy in last time, Kuwait.
Do you understand why many of us are just a wee bit skeptical?
Of course, W said all this stuff last night because, like Poppy in 1990, he's getting absolutely no traction with the American people by making the"biggest danger since Hitler" argument.
It's now time to try to make the gentler and more positive argument that this is going to lead to the encouragement and spread of democracy in the Middle East.
Just like the last one led to enormous change in Kuwait, right?
And surely you remember how these major changes in Kuwait led to major changes throughout the Middle East in the 1990s, right?
Surely Americans aren't stupid enough to fall for this one again, are they?
The same folks who are in charge of this war and foreign policy have promised this before -- and they didn't deliver last time.
Posted by Tom at 11:23 a.m. CST
I'm in a bummer mood already and I'm suffering from the world's worst head cold -- and then I had to read this.
Off to class. I'll try to cheer up.
Update: Be sure to read this wonderful and touching eulogy by Jeanne D'Arc. I'll warn you that you might need a tissue.
Posted by Tom at 7:54 a.m. CST
It's just as we suspected on the Donahue decision. A leaked internal NBC memo shows that MSNBC has decided to be cowards and become a low-rent Faux News Channel:
Although Donahue didn't know it at the time, his fate was sealed a number of weeks ago after NBC News executives received the results of a study commissioned to provide guidance on the future of the news channel.
That report--shared with me by an NBC news insider--gives an excruciatingly painful assessment of the channel and its programming. Some of recommendations, such as dropping the"America's News Channel," have already been implemented. But the harshest criticism was leveled at Donahue, whom the authors of the study described as"a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace."
The study went on to claim that Donahue presented a"difficult public face for NBC in a time of war......He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives." The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes"a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."
A source close to Donahue claims that while he wasn't aware of the specific study, the tone and outcome aren't surprising.
"It's not a coincidence that this decision comes the same week that MSNBC announces its hired Dick Armey as a commentator and has both Jesse Ventura and Michael Savage joining the network as hosts. They're scared, and they decided to take the coward's road and slant towards the conservative crowd that watch Fox News."
MSNBC has decided it's time to wave the flag like everyone else and to hell with any sort of dissenting voice on the war!
Phil Donahue responds in this A.P. Wire story.
And the folks at MSNBC will be replacing Phil Donahue with are about as offensive a group of right-wing bigots as they could find -- headed up by Michael Savage and Dick Armey.
Now isn't that impressive?
Eric Alterman is absolutely right isn't he?
What liberal media?
[Links via Counterspin]
Posted by Tom at 9:06 p.m. CST
Kevin properly points out that the problem with McCarthyism is that it primarily caught innocent folks in its web:
What McCarthy did do was accuse everyone under the sun of being a communist. If you had belonged to the communist party as a student in the 30s, you were a communist. If you belonged to the ACLU, you were a communist. If, like Fred Fischer, you belonged to the Lawyer's Guild for a few months after you graduated from law school, you were tarred as a communist on national TV.
It's not McCarthyism to accuse a communist of being a communist. It is McCarthyism to accuse someone of being a communist who has only a vague association with communist friends, groups, or ideas.
Why is this so hard to understand? Goldberg himself says:Now, I have no problem with Muslims denouncing McCarthyism — if, by McCarthyism, you mean unfairly accusing someone of wrongdoing either through guilt-by-association or through simple prejudice. But that's not what those throwing around the"McCarthyite" smear are up to. When they denounce McCarythism, they are working on the clear assumption that McCarthyism victimized only innocent people.
No, not"only" innocent people, but that's a pretty low bar, isn't it? Shouldn't we aim a little higher?
What we're afraid of is a repeat of the climate of hysteria McCarthy created, where far more innocent people had their careers ruined than were ever actually convicted of any treasonous behavior, where the old saying was turned on its head and ten innocent people were ruined for every guilty person who was sent to prison. I hope this doesn't happen today, but it's right to be on guard against it. I don't know why Goldberg feels the need to disagree.
Heck, using this logic the Salem witchcraft trials were okay because there probably were some witches somewhere in Salem. The Spanish Inquisition also had to have been okay too because there were some heretics back then after all.
However, as the actual historian here let me completely collapse Mr. Goldberg's argument like the house of cards that it is. McCarthyism was a political and rhetorical strategy that actually had little to do with the existence of actual communists in America. Mr. Goldberg's entire argument and Kevin's response to it are based on the false premise that McCarthyism genuinely involved the search for communists in America. Nothing could be further from the truth.
McCarthy and prominent Republicans at the time knew there weren't many communists in America and that those that were here weren't likely members of the Democratic Party. No matter how many times Republicans kept repeating the line that Democrats were guilty of"twenty years of treason," they themselves didn't believe it behind closed doors.
Republicans were simply using the questioning of their opponents' patriotism, like W and the boys did in the midterm elections last year, as an election ploy to gain votes. In the early 1950s, having been out of power for twenty years, Republicans used this McCarthyistic strategy successfully as a way to gain control of the White House and the congress.
Early on, McCarthy told his Republican colleagues that red-baiting really worked as a political tool and that the entire party should begin to use it -- and they did. McCarthy even went so far as to claim that he had"a sockful of shit" and was going to"sling it."
I assume, dear readers, that you all know how many communists and spies Joe McCarthy personally produced the goods on?
Not a single one.
The thing that liberals and others decry about McCarthyism is not just the fact that it destroyed innocent people's lives (which is certainly bad enough all by itself) but the sheer astonishing dishonesty of it -- the false and reprehensible claims made about the character of your opponents merely for political gain.
Like Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s, George W. Bush last year knew that his claims about Democrats were false. He knew Democrats weren't any less committed to national security than he was. However, he said these things merely for political gain. He knew it would energize his base and gain him votes.
Was this dishonest? Absolutely.
That's what makes it McCarthyistic.
Whether we're talking about the commitment of your opponents to national security before the November elections or questioning the motives of those opposing the upcoming Iraq war, it is this dishonest approach to argumentation that marks McCarthyism in the past, present, or future.
It is this strategy that one can frequently see today as evidenced in speeches by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney or columns by Ann Coulter or even in posts by Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit. If you attempt to blunt your opponents' valid arguments for or against a policy by questioning their patriotism or through the leveling of charges you know to be false, you're pursuing a McCarthyistic strategy.
It isn't just that McCarthyism ending up destroying innocent people's lives that is the issue here. The issue here is that its practitioners said things they knew to be false and didn't care what havoc they caused. They were in it merely for political gain.
It is this immoral and dishonest approach to politics and policy that marks that bygone political era and, I'm afraid to say, our own as well.
Update 2: Jonah Goldberg's rather lame response to Kevin's Post (but not mine strangely enough) is here.
BTW, Mr. Goldberg, McCarthy had nothing to do with the finding of the Communist spies in America either.
You're grasping at straws my man.
And surely you've got to admit that, since the overwhelming majority (99.9999%) of the charges leveled by Republicans during the early fifties against their political opponents had no merit or factual basis to them at all and that those making the charges knew it, one could very plausibly make the case that McCarthyism was never really about finding communist spies. It was about winning elections.
Posted by Tom at 4:59 p.m. CST
If you missed last week's excellent Frontline show about the real origins of IraqWar Part II, you can watch it online in its entirety here.
I thought it was quite good. There was very little that I didn't know in it but it was still an excellent show.
If you missed it, you should go watch it.
Posted by Tom at 2:37 p.m. CST
Mexican president Vicente Fox has officially announced that Mexico will vote in favor of the U.N. resolution.
I wonder how much of a bribe we offered him?
It appears the U.S. very well may use bribery and intimidation (read this article for more) to win backing of this resolution.
It won't make this war any more just but it will probably make most Americans grudgingly support it.
Posted by Tom at 2:23 p.m. CST
The K-Mart board has decided that all of its problems over the last three or four years was the fault of their executives.
Heck, I always thought it had something to do with the fact that I've never been into a K-Mart yet that was clean, organized, or apparently had any sort of effective management at all.
But what do I know?
[Link via Counterspin]
Posted by Tom at 11:14 a.m. CST
It's Wednesday about 9:30. It's Gene Lyons time!
Crusader Babbitt[W]ith relation to the Mind or Understanding, 'tis manifest what mighty Advantages Fiction has over Truth; and the Reason is just at our Elbow, because Imagination can build nobler Scenes, and produce more wonderful Revolutions than Fortune or Nature will be at Expence to furnish...How fading and insipid do all Objects accost us that are not convey'd in the Vehicle of Delusion?Hypocrisy in a politician is universally held to be a very bad thing, religious hypocrisy worst of all. Alas, to Americans holding post-Enlightenment world-views, it has come down to this: either we must earnestly pray that George W. Bush is a cunning opportunist merely throwing hay to the great lowing herd of pious cattle who confuse the evening news with the Book of Revelation, or face the prospect that the United States has embarked upon a faith-based foreign policy as distant from reality as the ranting of Osama bin Laden.--Swift,"A Digression Concerning Madness," 1704
Many commentators have noticed that Bush has repeatedly cast the conflict with al Qaeda and Iraq in purely biblical terms--good against evil,"the forces of darkness" against the forces of light, etc. In a speech on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as Bruce Nolan's article in Sunday's Democrat-Gazette noted, Bush hinted that God was stage-managing the"war on terrorism" for divine purposes."I believe there is a reason that history has matched this nation with this time," Bush said.
According to Bob Woodward's book,"Bush at War" even in one-on-one interviews"[t]he President was casting his mission and that of the country in the grand vision of God's Master Plan." This observation followed Bush's pronouncement that"[w]e will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great country and rid the world of evil."
Conquering evil is bin Laden's plan too. Even fighting beside the"socialist infidel" Saddam Hussein, he hinted in a taped statement Feb. 11, was permissible"to establish the rule of God on earth." Quoting the Koran, he assured his followers that"'those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil.' So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan."
So have we really been transported back to the 12th century A.D. with Bush as Richard the Lionhearted and Osama/Saddam as Saladin, in a replay of the Third Holy Crusade? We'd better hope not, because although medieval prophets convinced Richard that recapturing Jerusalem from the Muslims would bring about the Second Coming and usher in the millennium, he dragged back to England defeated in 1192.
To bin Laden, who rails against American" crusaders," this happened the day before yesterday. Bush only plays into his hands with statements like the closing line of his 2003 State of the Union speech contending that"the liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity."
To Saddam Hussein, a garden variety criminal psychopath and reportedly a big fan of the"Godfather" movies, it's unlikely this signifies much. As grandiose as Stalin, Saddam gives no sign of confusing himself with the deity.
The origins of Bush's flirtation with End Times rhetoric, however, are no more remote than the New York Times Best Seller List, specifically the prophetic novels of Hal Lindsey ("Blood Moon") and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins'"Left Behind" series. Selling in the millions, these books are a florid updating of a 19th century school of bible-based soothsaying called"premillenial dispensationalism." Radio and TV evangelists, including the ubiquitous Jerry Falwell peddle this gibberish to millions.
Adepts believe, writes historian Paul S. Boyer, that a series of last day signs including"wars, natural disasters, rampant immorality, the rise of a world political and economic order, and the return of the Jews to the land promised by God to Abraham" will signal the Rapture. True Believers will be magically whisked off to heaven, the Antichrist will seize world power--through the United Nations, naturally--thus ushering in the Second Coming, Armageddon and the Millenium.
Ironically, the incomprehensible imagery in Revelation was borrowed from Babylonian (Iraqi) and Zoroastrian (Iranian) myth in the first place. Bush's flirtation with End Times rhetoric makes some suspect that he actually perceives himself as God's instrument. Many Europeans fear they're trapped between rival fundamentalist zealots whose messianic delusions threaten World War III.
Call me naïve, but I hold with hypocrisy. Everything known about Bush apart from his political rhetoric suggests belief in a conventional rich man's God. His idea of paradise is a country club golf course. His public religiosity is precisely calculated to enthrall fundamentalist Christians whose failure to turn out in 1992 led to his father's defeat--the only Armageddon Junior seriously anticipates.
Posted by Tom at 9:36 a.m. CST
I was going to blog about this last night after reading it on Atrios's blog and watching the clip -- and then the HNN website went down.
Have you ever seen someone say something that was so preposterous, tell a lie that was so big, that they literally got laughed out of the room?
Ari Fleischer did yesterday.
Go here and watch the clip from yesterday's news conference with Ari Fleischer. After the clip buffers, move ahead to about 28 minutes in and start watching.
This was priceless.
You should go watch this.
Posted by Tom at 9:15 a.m. CST
All of HNN and the entire George Mason University webpage was down last night. George Mason is updating its webpage. I think we're back up for good now.
Sorry about that folks!
I've got a couple of things to do this morning. Blogging will resume in a bit.
Posted by Tom at 7:19 a.m. CST
Let me ask a couple of pertinent questions:
How much is this going to cost?
Why hasn't anybody talked about this before now?
In short, we've all apparently been lied to about what the Iraq occupation is going to involve until now when, surprise surprise, it's almost upon us.
You'll note that many in the Pentagon believe the administration isn't providing them with a large enough force to invade Iraq, much less occupy it.
This really is beginning to look like the amateur hour, isn't it?
Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CST
Impatient MSNBC has fired Phil Donahue effective Friday.
I assume Chris Matthews is next, right?
After all, his show has lower ratings -- and isn't even a very good show.
I think I'm detecting one hell of a double-standard.
Liberal media my, er, hind foot.
Feel free to contact MSNBC and voice your displeasure here.
Update: To my right-wing readers coming in from a couple of different righty blogs to this post, it appears I was absolutely right! Go to my later post here for more details!
Posted by Tom at 4:10 p.m. CST
Krugman's column today is quite good. It's about W's enormous credibility gap in the eyes of world leaders and here at home.
Here's a bit of it:
These days, whenever Mr. Bush makes a promise — like his new program to fight AIDS in Africa — experienced Bushologists ask,"O.K., that's the bait, where's the switch?" (Answer: Much of the money will be diverted from other aid programs, such as malaria control.)
Then there's the honesty thing.
Mr. Bush's mendacity on economic matters was obvious even during the 2000 election. But lately it has reached almost pathological levels. Last week Mr. Bush — who has been having a hard time getting reputable economists to endorse his economic plan — claimed an endorsement from the latest Blue Chip survey of business economists."I don't know what he was citing," declared the puzzled author of that report, which said no such thing.
What Americans may not fully appreciate is the extent to which similarly unfounded claims have, in the eyes of much of the world, discredited the administration's foreign policy. Whatever the real merits of the case against Iraq, again and again the administration has cited evidence that turns out to be misleading or worthless —"garbage after garbage after garbage," according to one U.N. official.
Despite his decline in the polls, Mr. Bush hasn't fully exhausted his reservoir of trust in this country. People still remember the stirring image of the president standing amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm around a fireman's shoulders — and our ever-deferential, protective media haven't said much about the broken promises that followed. But the rest of the world simply doesn't trust Mr. Bush either to honor his promises or to tell the truth.
Can we run a foreign policy in the absence of trust? The administration apparently thinks it can use threats as a substitute. Officials have said that they expect undecided Security Council members to come around out of fear of being on the"wrong" side. And Mr. Bush may yet get the U.N. to acquiesce, grudgingly, in his war.
But even if he does, we shouldn't delude ourselves: whatever credibility we may gain by invading Iraq is small recompense for the trust we have lost around the world.
He hits the nail right on the head, doesn't he?
Posted by Tom at 2:42 p.m. CST
Boy this hit me all at once. Go look at the front page of MSNBC.com. Could there be any more depressing things happening in the world at one time?
Here's just a sample:
War fears curb business spending: Prospect of military action in Iraq is damaging the economy
Boy, W sure is working out well as a president, isn't he?
What a freaking disaster he's turned out to be.
I'm not sure things could be going any worse, could they?
Oh yeah. We could be at war.
Well that's coming soon folks.
Posted by Tom at 12:09 p.m. CST
Over the last few days I've added several new blogs to the blogroll: Alas, a Blog, Beautiful Horizons, Ignatz (Sam took Insty's old spot -- no need to publicize that McCarthyistic demagogue anymore), Orcinus, and Through the Looking Glass.
I've vetted these and they're all great blogs. Be sure to give them a look!
Posted by Tom at 11:45 a.m. CST
By the Republicans definition from a little over four years ago, it appears Karl Rove has committed perjury folks.
Where's the righteous indignation from conservatives? Won't this harm the rule of law?
Posted by Tom at 11:27 a.m. CST
I've got class at 8:00. While I'm away, go read this week's column by Phil Carpenter about W's credibility gap here at HNN.
It's quite good. You can hear the slobbering ditto-monkeys swarming around his comment boards already.
Posted by Tom at 7:56 a.m. CST
Today, Washington Post columnist William Raspberry officially got off the Colin Powell / IraqWar Part II bandwagon.
Nice to have you back Bill.
Here's what I had to say the day after Colin Powell's presentation.
Unlike Bill, I don't have to retract anything at all.
I also, if you recall, did a great deal of analysis of the Powell presentation as well as the media and the American people's reaction to it. If you want to read some of this analysis, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere and here.
I hadn't realized I wrote so much about this.
Update: Atrios posts about this today as well.
Posted by Tom at 8:28 p.m. CST
ALTERMAN (page 245): When journalist Karen Rothmyer tried to interview [Scaife] for a Columbia Journalism Review profile in the early 1980s, Scaife avoided her every inquiry. When she finally caught up with him on a Manhattan street…Rothmyer inquired as to why he chose to dedicate his fortune to the cause of conservative politics. Scaife replied in a booming voice, “You fucking Communist cunt, get out of here.” He then volunteered his opinion that she was ugly and that her teeth were “terrible” before warning, “don’t look behind you.”
Richard Mellon-Scaife funds most of the right-wing thinktanks and most of the right-wing publications in America.
How can the people who -- let's be perfectly honest -- essentially work for this guy look at themselves in the mirror every morning?
Posted by Tom at 7:12 p.m. CST
Today, Kos and Hesiod both are saying similar things to what I've been saying the last few days about the sense of desperation at the White House. They're talking about the pathetic display the White House has put on concerning the Governors' Association Meeting.
Clearly this White House is in deep political and diplomatic trouble. W, Rove, and the boys are trying to right themselves before they go down for the last time. I suspect our next round of polls will be quite interesting -- they very well may show W under 50% approval for the first time in his presidency.
We'll see of course.
Posted by Tom at 1:50 p.m. CST
The"we'll look like idiots if we pull out now" argument is just a non-starter for me.
If there's no case for this war, we shouldn't start it. I'm perfectly happy to pay the costs to bring all the soldiers home and to spare both the U.S. and the Iraqi people the unnecessary death and destruction.
I'm more than happy to do so in fact.
Posted by Tom at 12:29 p.m. CST
Now this is perfect.
Update: A friend of mine sent me the link to a great page with a ton of these! They're great!
Posted by Tom at 10:52 a.m. CST
W is about to fire the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
Can you imagine the hack W will replace Greenspan with?
If this new appointee is anything like the losers W has appointed to his economic team since November, I can hardly wait.
And then we'll happily have deficits as far as the eye can see -- and nary a peep from anyone like the Fed chairman.
You can almost smell the desperation from W and the boys now, can't you?
The wheels are coming off folks.
Posted by Tom at 8:44 a.m. CST
W, desperate that no one anywhere wants to support his loser of an economic plan, has recently been lying about the support of leading economists for his economic plan.
Go read the story. This is astonishingly shameless and desperate folks.
Did I mention that W's economic team is beginning to look pathetic?
Oh yeah, that's right, I have.
Posted by Tom at 6:22 p.m. CST
Kevin Drum points us to this piece by Steve Ricchetti, Deputy Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, which takes congenitally dishonest conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer to task for, once again, trying to blame everything that's wrong in the world on Clinton.
Kevin Drum asks, as I have on numerous occasions here, when is the responsibility crowd ever going to take responsibility for anything?
Posted by Tom at 11:46 a.m. CST
The developments keep on coming in the Lott scandal.
Tim Lambert has discovered John Lott apparently fudged his statistical results in a graph about the impact of"right to carry laws" on the crime of rape in his book More Guns, Less Crime.
Go here and read Tim's damning analysis of this graph in Lott's book.
Folks, it now appears Lott may have done more than lie about a single survey. He also apparently misrepresented his own data in a published work.
Now this really is beginning to sound a lot more like the Bellesiles case, isn't it?
Glenn, Clayton, a response perhaps?
Posted by Tom at 10:07 a.m. CST
Have you noticed how John Ashcroft has vanished from the media lately? Here's a good story about Ashcroft.
Here's a bit of it:
Greenberger, who headed anti-terrorism efforts in the Clinton administration Justice Department, wonders if this is a wise use of that department's resources."What is the benefit of putting these two in isolation, not allowing them to consult lawyers?" he asked."It is a high-profile issue that the department has spent a tremendous amount of time on and, really, is the country in a safer situation because of it?"
Greenberger points out that a similar effort went into clearing the way for establishing military tribunals to try terrorist suspects in the weeks after Sept. 11, yet, more than a year later not one such tribunal has been convened. Meanwhile, hundreds of foreign nationals captured in Afghanistan remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as prisoners of a war that could go on for decades.
"I think what you have within the Justice Department is a small group of very bright, federalist society lawyers who are talking to each other and coming up with ideas that have a superficial attraction -- military tribunals, detaining enemy combatants -- while anybody practiced in the area will tell you this stuff accomplishes absolutely nothing," Greenberg said."It's sort of like counterterrorism by headline rather than counterterrorism by a scientific analysis of what law enforcement is all about."
Go read this story. It's a good update on the current status of John"the biggest threat to civil liberties since A. Mitchell Palmer" Ashcroft.
BTW, apparently Ashcroft and W clearly didn't consider alleged terrorist supporter Sami al-Arian too much of a threat since they allowed him to visit the White House in June of 2001.
Be sure to take a look at the picture of al-Arian and W posing together during the presidential campaign on the same page. Al-Arian even campaigned for W in 2000!
I don't know enough of the facts of the al-Arian case but I suspect this is another one of those cases that will disappear from the media radar screen and they'll hold these folks for years awaiting trial.
Let me ask you this simple question: have you heard anything about the folks who were arrested as members of terrorist cells in Buffalo and Washington over the last few months? My understanding is the case against these supposed terrorists isn't particularly strong but they arrested them anyway.
Folks, this is getting pretty scary and if Patriot Act II becomes law John Ashcroft will have the power to make secret arrests.
Ashcroft has apparently suspended the Bill of Rights for the moment and I suspect an outright repeal is on the agenda for, say, 2005 or so.
We live in scary times folks.
Posted by Tom at 9:47 a.m. CST
VIA INTERESTING TIMES 02-23-03
Posted by Tom at 8:18 a.m. CST
It's quite fascinating to realize that the supposedly well-organized and competent"Iraqi Opposition" was essentially a rhetorical construct to bash Clinton with in the 1990s and obviously a figment of the war hawks' imagination.
Now that the administration is actually having to ponder post-war Iraq, this supposedly impressive opposition group is suddenly not going to be playing much of a role at all -- because the folks in the administration know they're incapable of ruling Iraq. It appears the administration actually has bigger roles being played by Saddam's ex-henchmen than these opposition groups.
What's the most entertaining about all of this is that it has exposed the warhawks as serial liars about the Iraqi opposition.
Isn't it about time to ask these guys why they've been lying about this for all these years?
What say you, Richard Perle? Wolfowitz? Rumsfeld?
Posted by Tom at 7:31 p.m. CST
Here's a good summary of how Lott's mediocre and flawed research are about to be used as justification to pass a"right to carry" law in Minnesota even as the embattled scholar is engaged in a fight to save his reputation.
Folks, as I've said before, Lott's flawed (and possibly fraudulent) research has already led to the passage of laws that very well may have made us less safe, not more.
I haven't blogged about this in quite a while, but, as always, Tim Lambert's update site is the place to go to be brought quickly up to speed on this.
Even though I haven't talked about it, it appears that Lott is now in big trouble. Many are saying that it's probably only a matter of time before he loses his position at the American Enterprise Institute.
The posts won't be hard to find.
Expect Insty to be apoplectic with rage on the day when Lott finally does get his come-uppance.
Posted by Tom at 2:19 p.m. CST
Jeanne D'Arc has an excellent post today about how the haggling continues with Turkey and the rather important human rights issues that remain unresolved.
Jeanne D'Arc's blog Body and Soul is truly one of the best at covering foreign affairs. If you want to stay informed, her blog is one of the best places to go in the blogosphere.
In other developments, Germany is now threatening to withdraw its soldiers from the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan because the situation there is deteriorating rapidly.
Why are we not hearing about these things in our mainstream media?
Posted by Tom at 1:36 p.m. CST
I had my 70,000th visitor just a few minutes ago via a link from Eric Alterman's great MSNBC blog Altercation.
BTW, Eric's book What Liberal Media? is quite good. You really should get yourself a copy.
It wasn't that long ago (a little more than a week) that I had my 60,000th visitor since I installed my hit counter on September 18th.
I've now had more than 108,000 hits as well.
As always, folks, I do appreciate your patronage. I hope to give you reasons to come back for more.
Posted by Tom at 12:21 p.m. CST
If you want to read a refutation of much of the administration's spin about the necessity of a war with Iraq, go here.
Posted by Tom at 12:08 p.m. CST
Noelle Bush is back in the news. Do you think anyone else would just get"gently chided" for missing court-ordered drug counseling sessions?
Of course not -- they'd still be in jail.
Posted by Tom at 10:09 a.m. CST
How well is W's new education reform going?
I'll warn you though. It will likely make you mad.
Nathan also reminds us that W's"teaching to the test" education reform in Texas has already been deemed a failure by several scholarly studies.
Given this information, I think it's time for a rather important question: has W truly improved anything in this nation during the last two years?
Has W truly achieved anything of great value domestically?
I think you and I know the answer to that question, don't we?
It's no surprise, therefore, that W's poll numbers are likely to reach negative territory in the next few days, is it?
Posted by Tom at 8:08 p.m. CST
Peter Arnett will be reporting from Baghdad for MSNBC.
This is good news. Arnett generally does an excellent job of reporting about the impact of war on the people -- a perspective that is often missing nowadays. His reports on National Geographic Explorer about Iraq have been top-notch so far.
In light of this development, here's a post of mine from a couple of months ago that you might find interesting. It's about"Live From Baghdad," Peter Arnett, and the decline of the media since GulfWar Part I.
It's good to see Arnett back in the show.
Posted by Tom at 5:24 p.m. CST
Get a load of this story in the Palm Beach Post.
But, hey, at least Noelle's getting a job out of it, right?
Now this one really stinks, doesn't it?
Posted by Tom at 4:43 p.m. CST
Here's a first-hand account of Bruce Kluger's appearance on the demagogue's show.
You know, O'Reilly really does have to be the biggest fraud on television today.
Of course, the Faux News Channel is a channel filled with right-wing hacks masquerading as journalists so he's just the biggest fraud among many.
Posted by Tom at 3:04 p.m. CST
This editorial in the Washington Post certainly destroys W's deceptive argument for his tax cut.
Here's a bit of it:
"Under this plan, 92 million Americans receive an average tax cut of $1,083," Mr. Bush said."That's fair." No, it's deceptive. The vast majority of taxpayers -- 80 percent -- would receive less than that amount, according to data from the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. For the truly typical household -- filers in the middle fifth of the income spectrum -- the average tax cut would be $256. Almost half of all taxpayers would see their taxes drop by less than $100. At the top of the income pyramid, however, the tax savings would be huge; the top 1 percent of filers would receive an average tax cut of $24,100. The average tax cut touted by Mr. Bush is more than $1,000 only because the savings for the wealthiest Americans are so large.
Mr. Bush must know how phony his"averages" are. Any time a salesman has to resort to such deceptive tactics, the customer ought to be wary about what is being sold.
It is astonishing to see a president tell lies like this in public, isn't it?
Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CST
There are so many bad ideas rolled together in W's plan for post-war colonial Iraq, I don't know where to begin.
Unfortunately, at this very moment I'm also too busy to ponder it much.
You'll notice that no part of this plan sounds particularly"democratic," does it?
Therefore, what we've been hearing from the warhawks about creating a democracy and involving Iraqis in their own government is just so much clap-trap.
How do you like the idea that a large portion of the current Iraqi government officials would be retained?
Hussein may be bad but his henchmen, hey, they're okay!
Posted by Tom at 12:10 p.m. CST
Krugman has an excellent column this morning.
Here's a bit of it:
The Marshall Plan was America's finest hour. After World War I, the victors did what victors usually do: they demanded reparations from the vanquished. But after World War II America did something unprecedented: it provided huge amounts of aid, helping both its allies and its defeated enemies rebuild.
It wasn't selfless altruism, of course; it was farsighted, enlightened self-interest. America's leaders understood that fostering prosperity, stability and democracy was as important as building military might in the struggle against Communism.
But one suspects that our current leaders would have jeered at this exercise in"nation-building." And they are certainly following a very different strategy today.
It's not that the Bush administration is always stingy. In fact, right now it is offering handouts right and left. Most notably, it has offered the Turkish government $26 billion in grants and loans if it ignores popular opposition and supports the war.
Some observers also point out that the administration has turned the regular foreign aid budget into a tool of war diplomacy. Small countries that currently have seats on the U.N. Security Council have suddenly received favorable treatment for aid requests, in an obvious attempt to influence their votes. Cynics say that the" coalition of the willing" President Bush spoke of turns out to be a" coalition of the bought off" instead.
As the person who most often uses the phrase"coalition of the bought off" in the blogosphere, I'm beginning to wonder if Krugman's been reading the old blog here. He does periodically so I'm not just blowing smoke folks.
But probably not and even though I've had numerous liberal bloggers link to the" coalition of the bought off" post and credit me with it, I didn't coin the term. As you'll see from the post above, I simply got it from this story in the Chicago Tribune.
Anyway, regardless of whether he got the term from a post of mine or not, it's a great column. Be sure and give it a read!
Now that I've had my brush with greatness for the day, I need to prep a class for next week.
I'll post more later.
Posted by Tom at 8:21 a.m. CST
Boy, get this. So all of our supposed"hot intelligence tips" are, according to U.N. inspectors,"garbage."
Surely we can't go to war because of this sort of"garbage" intelligence, can we? Do you remember a few weeks ago when we said we were holding back our intelligence information because we weren't sure the"inspectors could handle it?"
Obviously, we didn't have jackshit and we knew it. We were apparently just saying that to lead the rest of the world on.
This is really looking like a rather elaborate snowjob, isn't it?
These guys really can't go to war like this, can they?
The Gulf of Tonkin incident is beginning to look downright legitimate in comparison, isn't it?
Why is it we are really going to war?
I plan on watching Frontline tonight and finding out!
Posted by Tom at 7:51 p.m. CST
I can only imagine the incredible and thunderous condemnations we'd be hearing from Glenn if the shoe were on the other foot somehow.
Glenn continues to stoop to new lows every day, doesn't he?
Posted by Tom at 3:03 p.m. CST
How's this for compassionate conservatism?
I'm with Kevin on this:
Bush's treatment of both veterans and active duty soldiers has been appalling since his first day in office and I'm surprised the Democrats haven't made a bigger issue of it. Someone should, that's for sure.
Posted by Tom at 2:52 p.m. CST
For those of you visiting from Julian Sanchez's blog, that post from February 2nd is now in my archives which, unfortunately, changes the link needed to access it.
The post you're looking for about the" coalition of the bought off" is right here.
Enjoy -- and come back often to visit!
Posted by Tom at 12:16 p.m. CST
Here's a good column about how firefighters and other heroes from 9/11 are now at the back of the line for the Bush administration.
Sometime in the past 17 months, they went from being heroes to budget beggars.
The firefighters whose courage was celebrated in eulogies and in documentaries, whose likenesses were etched onto commemorative coins and molded into toys for the holiday season, now roam the Capitol, helmets in hand.
They don't have the protective breathing gear needed for them to survive a chemical or biological attack, they say. Their radios still can't connect with those of police and other rescuers. They don't have a day's worth of training in how to handle a terrorist assault of any kind, let alone the"dirty bombs" - homemade radioactve devices - the men at the top say could be sent our way.
The politicians, from the president on down, were happy to have firefighters as props when the moment called for pictures to be taken with those who had stood tallest. Now the firefighters stand in line with Washington's other lobbyists. Their place is somewhere behind those pushing this or that tax break, for this or that favored group.
Go read the rest of it.
BTW, if we have a terrorist attack in the next couple of years and these problems haven't been solved, it is absolutely all the administration's fault this time. W has had the time now to do something about it and he's focused on"the rich get richer" tax plan and the unnecessary IraqWar Part II instead.
We certainly know where his priorities lie, don't we?
Isn't it pretty outrageous that the Republicans ran that reprehensible campaign for the midterms in November accusing Democrats of not doing enough to support homeland security?
It is even more outrageous since it is becoming increasily obvious that the true culprits for undermining our safety are the Republicans who'd rather cripple the federal budget giving out tax goodies to their rich supporters than help fire and police departments prepare for the next terrorist disaster.
I do think it is certainly disingenuous to blame the administration for the 9/11 disaster. They made some major mistakes (ignoring Berger's briefing on the threat of domestic terrorism for example), but I don't think I'd blame them for the attack itself.
However, if there's another attack and these same problems hamper the response of our fire and police departments, there will be no place to hide for W and the boys.
The responsibility for the failure will be all on them -- and they'll deserve the blame.
Posted by Tom at 11:26 a.m. CST
I'm headed to my second class. Go read this right now though.
Judis is dead-on target folks.
Posted by Tom at 9:33 a.m. CST
The Monkey Media report has an interesting theory about why Glenn is saying the bizarre stuff he's saying right now.
BTW, if you're really looking for an apology for a factual or logic error from Glenn, good luck. I've caught him numerous times making rather egregious errors and not only doesn't he acknowledge it, he ignores those who point it out to him.
I know he's said numerous times in interviews that he apologizes when he makes an error. He doesn't. I don't know anyone who can name a single instance in which he has done so.
I don't know why he lies about this but he does so quite frequently.
Posted by Tom at 7:57 a.m. CST
Joe Klein's column in Time this week is quite good.
Here's a bit of it:
George W. Bush lives at the intersection of faith and inexperience. This is not a reassuring address, especially in a time of trouble. His public utterances are often measured and elegant, but there are frequent and rather grating lapses too. There is a tendency to ricochet between piety and puerility, an odd juxtaposition that raises a discomforting theological question: What is it about the President's religious faith that makes him seem so jaunty as he faces the most fateful decision a President can make?
There are plenty of thoughtful, angst-ridden Evangelicals, of course; the President's simple swagger isn't merely a consequence of his religious faith. He has long disdained the tortured moral relativism he first encountered at Yale. He doesn't come from the most introspective of families. And he has recently found an intellectual home in the secular evangelism of the neoconservatives, who posit a stark world of American good and authoritarian evil. But George W. Bush's faith offers no speed bumps on the road to Baghdad; it does not give him pause or force him to reflect. It is a source of comfort and strength but not of wisdom.
The American tradition of wartime leadership seems more subdued. The most memorable images are gaunt and painful: the haunted Lincoln; the dark circles under Franklin Roosevelt's eyes; Kennedy standing alone, in shadows, during the Cuban missile crisis. This is a moment far more ambiguous than any of those; intellectual anguish is permissible. War may be the correct choice, but it can't be an easy one. The world might have more confidence in the judgment of this President if he weren't always bathed in the blinding glare of his own certainty.
In other news, now that Colin Powell has stooped to calling those who disagree with him cowards, he is essentially done as an effective Secretary of State.
Powell's really come down fast, hasn't he? A couple of weeks ago he delivered a presentation that was a pack of lies and half-truths at the U.N. and now this.
I'm afraid I don't have much respect for him anymore.
And I'm genuinely sad about that.
Posted by Tom at 9:39 p.m. CST
Here's a link to this week's Public Opinion Watch by Ruy Teixeira. This is about as good an analysis as you'll get of the latest polls.
Things aren't looking particularly good for W in the latest public opinion polls. The drive for war is causing him to lose the support of independents and women -- and there's only so many white Republican men to go around.
Here's a bit of it:
Only 54 percent now say they approve of Bush’s job performance. And in perhaps the most remarkable number in the poll, just 38 percent now say they approve of Bush’s job performance on the economy, compared to 53 percent who say they disapprove.
Bush is also faring relatively poorly in his ratings on foreign policy and even on handling the Iraq situation. His rating on foreign policy is down to 47 percent approval, with 44 percent disapproval. The latter figure represents a drop of twelve points from an earlier February poll reading. Moreover, when you look at independents, who Bush hopes will lean in his direction on national security, even if they don’t like him on domestic issues, the news is grim indeed. Only 42 percent of independents say they approve of the job he’s doing on foreign policy, while 48 percent disapprove.
We see the same story, only more so, on handling the situation with Iraq. While overall Bush has a not-so-great approval rating of 53 percent on this issue, it’s only as high as 53 percent because of sky-high support from Republicans (79 percent approval). Independents actually rate his job performance quite negatively (42 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval), only slightly more negative than the ratings Bush gets from partisan Democrats (41 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval).
And the public continues to see al Qaeda (51 percent) rather than Iraq (28 percent) as the greater threat to peace and stability. Independents are even more lop-sided in their views, seeing al Qaeda as the greater threat by 55 percent to 22 percent.
Thus, it doesn’t seem like the Iraq situation is working particularly well as a device for integrating independents into the GOP coalition. And it’s not just independents; other poll data show that women voters are exceptionally worried by the administration’s hardline approach.
The reaction of women voters reveals an interesting paradox. Women are substantially more likely than men to fear being the victim of a terrorist attack, by 57 percent to 36 percent. But women are less likely than men to trust and support Bush administration policies on Iraq and related issues, which are supposedly designed to reduce the chances of the terrorist attacks they are so afraid of.
For example, in the Andres McKenna Research poll, 55 percent of the public said that they trusted the Bush administration most to protect U.S. interests, compared to 35 percent who trusted the UN and its Security Council. Among men, that relationship was even more lop-sided: 62 percent to 28 percent. But among women, the figures narrowed to just a 48 percent to 41 percent edge.
The Los Angeles Times poll shows plenty of these gender gaps. Sixty-two percent of men but only 49 percent of women trust Bush to make the right decision on going to war with Iraq. Sixty-five percent of men but just 50 percent of women approve of his handling of the situation with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Sixty-five percent of men say that they would support a decision by Bush to order U.S. troops into a ground attack against Iraqi forces, while women are practically split down the middle (49 percent in favor, 45 percent opposed). And if the United States takes action without Security Council support, but with the support of some allies like Great Britain (not an implausible scenario!), men would support the action by 61 percent to 36 percent, while women would oppose it by 49 percent to 47 percent.
So not only is the Bush coalition having trouble internationally, it’s also having trouble domestically. How is the GOP going to build its “emerging 9/11 majority” with such poor support from independents and women? It’s not going to be easy, since there are only so many (white) Republican men out there; they desperately need these other voters. But where are they going to get them, if not from this impending war? Independents and women are also unenthusiastic about the job they’re doing on the economy and domestic problems. Karl Rove had better put on his thinking cap.
The war apparently isn't working like W and the boys think it will politically.
Unfortunately for them, it's still the economy, stupid -- and it is the administration's seeming indifference to the suffering out there that is making W's approval ratings near negative territory.
No matter what kind of dog-wagging they try, it is Bush's performance on the economy that will decide if he's going to get a second term.
I heard the talking heads on CNN this morning saying that all indications are that the economy is on the way back up. I hope they're right but they've been saying that for six months now.
I also hate to say this but wars have a nasty habit of dragging the economy down.
If you recall, that's what happened to Poppy -- and I expect that is what will happen to W as well.
As always, we'll see of course.
Update: More bad news for W on the poll front. This Harris Poll shows that now 52% approve of the job he is doing and an astounding 46% disapprove.
The wheels are really coming off now folks.
Posted by Tom at 4:57 p.m. CST
Anyone else think the administration's statement that Iraq will pay for its own reconstruction is, at the very least, foolish and ultimately destined to be proven wrong?
I suspect we'll end up paying for most of it -- as well we should because we're the ones doing the destroying after all. If we're going to kill thousands of innocent people it seems the least we can do is pay for the reconstruction.
This is just yet another of the many lies the administration will tell to try and convince Americans to support this war.
However, it is ironic that the administration mentions Afghanistan. I'd advise W and the boys to avoid mentioning Afghanistan at all.
We haven't done a damn thing to rebuild Afghanistan and it is the pathetic example we've set there that makes many in Europe think we'll screw up Iraq in a similar fashion -- and I can understand that rather reasonable skepticism.
Heck, this administration didn't even include any money in the next budget to help the people in Afghanistan at all -- congress had to ADD IT to the budget.
Clearly, if left up to W and the boys, we wouldn't be spending any money in Afghanistan.
If it doesn't involve the war with Iraq it's clearly just not that important to them, is it?
Is it my imagination or do W and the boys just seem to be stumbling along in foreign policy these days?
I just thought I'd ask.
Posted by Tom at 3:35 p.m. CST
In his weekly column for The Hill website, Josh Marshall chronicles the dirty tricks Republicans are playing with phone banks. And this scandal may go all the way to damned near the top it appears, involving top Republican U.S. senators and representatives.
I think it's time for a congressional investigation, don't you?
Oh yeah, that's right. Republicans never do those when it may involve something they've done wrong.
Now if Democrats had done this we'd be dumping tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into investigations of it as we speak.
Democrats, the chumps, have been known to authorize investigations into the behavior of people in their own party!
I'm sure Republicans routinely chuckle at their naivete.
Posted by Tom at 2:35 p.m. CST
Here's this week's Gene Lyons column:
WHY THE FRENCH RESIST WAR
I met my favorite Frenchman on a tennis court in Texas. Mutual friends thought we would be well-matched opponents. Alain had arrived in the United States only two days earlier. Always the aggressor, he charged the net early in our first match, and I lifted a lob over his head. Rather than retreating to play it on the bounce, Alain leaped into the air, took a mighty swing and fanned.
"Ouf," he grunted."I sink I am Bob McAdoo."
McAdoo was a 7-foot NBA player. What manner of Frenchman, much less a literature professor, I wondered, knew that? It was Alain's way of mocking himself. An avid sportsman, he'd spent his first afternoon in America watching basketball on TV. Fit and muscular, he'd competed for France in volleyball. No Gauloise-puffing café intellectual, he was an ardent outdoorsman, a hunter of birds and wild boars, and a rock climber.
After we knew each other better, Alain confided that he'd been initially taken aback by my asking if he was a Parisian. He feared I'd found him haughty and arrogant. Au contraire, mon ami. His home was Montpellier, a city roughly the size of Little Rock on the Mediterranean coast near Spain. He used to enjoy siding with my wife, whose origins are in French Louisiana, in petty disagreements."We Latins," Alain would announce mischievously, had arrived at a mutual position about who should drive or where to eat dinner. The Latins, it appeared, always chose the more passionate option, or the one with most garlic.
I've been in touch with my old friend by e-mail as the Op-Ed warriors and the country club tough guys of the Bush administration ridicule France in terms appropriate to a Monty Python skit."I have to denounce the vacillation of the [French] Government in the strongest terms," I wrote."They fiddle while Ishmaelia burns. A spark is set to the cornerstone of civilization which will shake its roots like a chilling breath."
It's a passage from Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel"Scoop" I knew Alain would recognize. (If it doesn't make you smile, you've been reading too many editorials.) Quite conservative--Socialists, he thinks, are always incompetent and usually corrupt--his first response, passionately as always, was to assure me that France has not forgotten WWI or WWII, nor the close friendship between our countries. The French have no illusions about Saddam Hussein and would like to be rid of him. But they see no immediate threat. If he can be de-fanged and contained, that would be preferable to risking WWIII.
Most French observers see terrible danger in either of two post-Saddam scenarios: either the U.S. leaves Iraq in chaos and ruins, then bugs out leaving the Europeans holding the bag, as we've basically done in Afghanistan; or we occupy it indefinitely, turning the region into a huge West Bank and insuring an exponential growth of Islamic extremism and al Qaeda terrorism.
What Alain implied but was too polite to say was that if the swaggering puppy Bush was in too big a hurry to seek U.N. approval, he shouldn't have asked. Our allies are democracies, after all, and upwards of 80 per cent of the public opposes invading Iraq. (No doubt reacting to U.S. bullying, an astonishing 87 per cent of the French do.) As millions of anti-war protesters across Europe underscored last weekend, Bush was appointed president of the United States, not France.
CORRECTING THE RECORD
Having questioned the professionalism of the New York Times Book Review, I'm happy to report that its editors have taken pains to repair the damage done by Beverly Lowry's inept review of Susan McDougal's book"The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk." Besides printing a correction of the false charge that she was convicted of obstruction of justice and criminal contempt, The Times also ran a letter from McDougal herself last Sunday politely correcting a couple of Lowry's other more egregious blunders.
Equally heartening was NYTBR editor Chip McGrath's statement to the industry newsletter"Publisher's Lunch," which questioned"why the newspaper hasn't been more forthcoming in its own voice to correct the record." McGrath said he had deliberately used McDougal's letter in an effort to rectify the situation."As for the errors that did appear," he explained"yes, they were sloppy and should have been caught in the editing process; as soon as we became aware that we had erred--and it didn't take long for that to happen--we took steps to set the record straight."
"The Book Review has a particular problem in that we use so many freelancers," McGrath added"not all of whom are trained journalists, and this puts an additional burden on our over-worked staff. I do think we've learned from this one." Meanwhile, I'm equally pleased to report that"The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk," after three weeks on the New York Times best seller list, has cracked the top ten. Case closed.
Posted by Tom at 9:52 a.m. CST
This is just lovely:
Threats by Republicans to cut the General Accounting Office (GAO) budget influenced its decision to abandon a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, The Hill has learned.
Sources familiar with high-level discussions at the GAO said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, met with GAO Comptroller General David Walker earlier this year and “unambiguously” pressured him to drop the suit or face cuts in his $440 million budget.
Walker did say, however, that several lawmakers have threatened in the past year to cut agency funding if it persisted with the controversial lawsuit. He also said the budget threat was among a number of factors that tipped his Feb. 7 decision to halt litigation.
A GAO staff member and several Stevens’s aides attended the meeting.
Stevens’s offices were closed at press time and neither the senator nor his spokeswoman could be reached for comment.
Bates, who was nominated to the bench by the current president, ruled against the GAO because “neither a house of Congress nor any congressional committee has issued a subpoena for the disputed information.”
By not appealing this ruling, House Democrats argue, GAO will not be able to pursue sensitive information in the future without permission from the majority party.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Walker’s decision was a “very unfortunate undermining of GAO’s independence and effectiveness.”
Rep. Bob Matsui (D-Calif.), chair of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, said, “This not only undermines the independence of the GAO, but it also makes it difficult to get information.”
“ With the congressional committees controlled by the Republicans, I think it’s unlikely you’ll see GAO pursue something adversarial, and that’s a problem,” Matsui added. Matsui said he believed that Walker probably faced political pressure to drop the lawsuit.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that Judge Bates apparently thought it was perfectly reasonable as Ken Starr's aide to rifle through Hillary Clinton's panties but in this case he ruled that this information about how public policy was made was beyond the bounds of the"public's right to know."
If this is the sort of even-handed justice we can expect out of W's judicial puppets, why does the Senate need to confirm a single one of them?
Posted by Tom at 9:31 a.m. CST
BTW, Molly Ivins quite effectively tears this particular french joke to shreds in this column. I'll quote the relevant portion here:
George Will saw fit to include in his latest Newsweek column this joke:"How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows, it's never been tried." That was certainly amusing. One million, four hundred thousand French soldiers were killed during World War I. As a result, there weren't many Frenchmen left to fight in World War II. Nevertheless, 100,000 French soldiers lost their lives trying to stop Hitler.
On behalf of every one of those 100,000 men, I would like to thank Mr. Will for his clever joke. They were out-manned, out-gunned, out-generaled and, above all, out-tanked. They got slaughtered, but they stood and they fought. Ha-ha, how funny. In the few places where they had tanks, they held splendidly.
I mean, anyway, we all know Roy didn't come up with these jokes on his own, don't we? Heck, I know that when he used to do that"Missouri Minute" thing on television in the early 1990s as Secretary of State he used to rush into the State Archives office a couple of hours before taping and beg the folks there to write it for him because he had essentially no knowledge of his own state's history and culture.
Therefore, I'm more than positive Roy didn't come up with these jokes on his own. There's a joke sheet out there somewhere and I'm going to find it!
Well, anyway, I didn't find the jokes but I did, however, find this ridiculously cartoonish blog by a fellow who is apparently only marginally literate.
I pass it along for your amusement.
Posted by Tom at 10:16 p.m. CST
How do you describe what the Turks are doing except to call it what it is -- extortion?
The Turks, the leading member of the"Coalition of the Bought Off," know they have us right where they want us. W's hot for war and wants to stage soldiers in Turkey.
That's why the Turks have a gun in our ribs right now and are demanding more than they have in the past.
Give them credit. They've got impeccable timing.
We're now having to issue stern warnings to our"ally."
Boy, now that's impressive, isn't it?
W and the boys sure are pros at this coalition-building stuff, aren't they?
Posted by Tom at 6:28 p.m. CST
Sorry folks we're having technical difficulties here at HNN. The website's been down for a couple of hours. I'll wait to blog again until the website is clearly back up for good.
Thanks for your patience!
Posted by Tom at 5:23 p.m. CST
I've gotten e-mail from readers in the last couple of days and I've heard Republican talking heads say that anti-war demonstrators will be responsible if there isn’t a war and some act of domestic terrorism happens anyway.
I expect it’s just another effort to by the “responsibility crowd” to pre-emptively pass the buck. If something happens, no matter what, they’ll try to blame war protesters and librulz for it.
You just wait. They’ll do it.
If the war goes poorly I’m sure they’ll try to blame war protesters for that too.
To the contrary, I would argue that the heightened threat of terrorism and any terrorist actions that take place during this buildup to war are more than likely a result of a reaction to the administration’s saber-rattling and have absolutely nothing to do with anti-war demonstrations.
Have you ever noticed, ironically, that the folks who spend so much time talking about “responsibility” are usually the first to try to pass the buck?
Of course, if your entire worldview is based around the demonizing of liberals and claiming that they’re behind everything that’s wrong, that makes the shirking of responsibility a pretty easy thing to do. Nothing is your fault. It’s all the fault of liberals even if you control all three branches of government.
It’s awfully convenient, isn’t it?
I tell you what guys, how about this for a “responsibility compromise?”
I’ll accept responsibility for my little opinion on this blog causing a terrorist calamity if conservative Republicans will accept responsibility for these three things:
1. The current disastrous economy that is being so thoroughly mismanaged by the current administration. It’s been going on too long to keep blaming this on Clinton folks.
2. The sky-high federal deficit which promises to only get worse with the “rich get richer” tax schemes being peddled by this administration
3. The administration’s willful incompetence in ignoring the warnings of Sandy Berger in January of 2001 about Osama bin Laden and the real threat of domestic terrorism. If you recall, the administration actually cut funding for anti-terrorism programs!
That’s the deal folks. You guys take responsibility for these obvious and major mistakes by W and the boys over just the past two years and I’ll grant you what you want.
I mean, heck, you guys are always talking about responsibility – so let’s see some!
I think I’m safe. How about you?
Posted by Tom at 12:25 p.m. CST
Kevin Drum has an excellent post up this morning about how we're getting ready to screw the Kurds and have decided that"democracy thing" isn't workable in Iraq after all.
Posted by Tom at 11:48 a.m. CST
Anything wrong with the causal connection made here by Ari Fleischer?:
The global anti-war protests have put the White House on the defensive. Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer began his daily briefing by reading newspaper clips about demonstrations against the staging of missiles in Germany in the early 1980s, and said,"This is not the first time there have been mass protests and in a previous instance America stood on principle ... and as a result the Berlin Wall came down."
How many errors of logic can one have in a single statement?
Boy, this certainly is evidence that the folks in W's administration have a cartoon-like view of history and historical causation, isn't it?
Posted by Tom at 11:10 a.m. CST
Paul Krugman has a good column today about our shameless war-promoting television media:
Most people, though, get their news from TV — and there the difference is immense. The coverage of Saturday's antiwar rallies was a reminder of the extent to which U.S. cable news, in particular, seems to be reporting about a different planet than the one covered by foreign media.
What would someone watching cable news have seen? On Saturday, news anchors on Fox described the demonstrators in New York as"the usual protesters" or"serial protesters." CNN wasn't quite so dismissive, but on Sunday morning the headline on the network's Web site read"Antiwar rallies delight Iraq," and the accompanying picture showed marchers in Baghdad, not London or New York.
This wasn't at all the way the rest of the world's media reported Saturday's events, but it wasn't out of character. For months both major U.S. cable news networks have acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war.
So it's not surprising that the target audience is a bit blurry about the distinction between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda. Surveys show that a majority of Americans think that some or all of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi, while many believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11, a claim even the Bush administration has never made. And since many Americans think that the need for a war against Saddam is obvious, they think that Europeans who won't go along are cowards.
Europeans, who don't see the same things on TV, are far more inclined to wonder why Iraq — rather than North Korea, or for that matter Al Qaeda — has become the focus of U.S. policy. That's why so many of them question American motives, suspecting that it's all about oil or that the administration is simply picking on a convenient enemy it knows it can defeat. They don't see opposition to an Iraq war as cowardice; they see it as courage, a matter of standing up to the bullying Bush administration.
There are two possible explanations for the great trans-Atlantic media divide. One is that European media have a pervasive anti-American bias that leads them to distort the news, even in countries like the U.K. where the leaders of both major parties are pro-Bush and support an attack on Iraq. The other is that some U.S. media outlets — operating in an environment in which anyone who questions the administration's foreign policy is accused of being unpatriotic — have taken it as their assignment to sell the war, not to present a mix of information that might call the justification for war into question.
So which is it? I've reported, you decide.
He mentions Faux News Channel but that's not really necessary. Faux's not really a news network -- just a Republican propaganda channel.
It's a busy day again. Lots of grading to do.
I'll post more of course but I've got class right now.
Posted by Tom at 9:34 a.m. CST
It's been a busy day. I'll just give you a few links of interest as of now.
It appears that his support for IraqWar Part II very well may take Tony Blair down. A 35% approval rating isn't good.
Here's a good column by Molly Ivins about the developing war lunacy of W's administration.
Finally, here in Mizzurah, Roy Blunt, the third-ranking Republican in the House, is making an utter fool of himself with sophomoric humor about the French.
I guess the worst part is that the jokes aren't even funny. I think my eight-year-old son giggled a little at one of them.
If that's what passing for humor in Republican circles these days they're a pretty pathetic lot.
Posted by Tom at 8:53 p.m. CST
Ah, here's another example of the famous journalistic ethics over at the Faux News Channel.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised the folks at Faux would stoop so low as to steal a satellite feed from CNN.
I'm sure the talking heads over at Faux will be blasting away about the immorality of this administration's opponents any minute now -- not that they have any at all themselves.
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 5:10 p.m. CST
My buds at eRiposte sent me a link to this very interesting compilation of polls conducted around the world about support for the IraqWar. It's quite interesting.
Go read it!
Posted by Tom at 3:51 p.m. CST
Here's an article about a frightening interview with Rupert Murdoch. He's for the war and, surprise surprise, so are all 175 of his papers!
How can that be?
Certainly makes you wonder how"fair and balanced" his Faux News Network is, doesn't it?
Off to class!
Posted by Tom at 10:56 a.m. CST
There's more than a whiff of desperation emanating from Tony Blair these days.
Blair's decision to quote a pro-war letter from a 19-year-old Iraqi student at Cambridge, Rania Kashi, has also come in for criticism.
Sunday morning saw Kashi touring TV studios admitting she had never been to Iraq, was born in Kuwait of Iraqi refugee parents and had arrived in Britain at the age of three months.
Her pro-war letter to Blair, quoted by the prime minister to make a"moral case for war and removing Saddam" said,"I want to ask those who support the anti-war movement their motives and reasons behind such support... you are still blind to the bigger truths in Iraq... Saddam has murdered more than 1 m people Iraqis... Are you willing to allow him to kill another million?"
But Kashi has been attacked by, among others, veteran socialist and anti-war Labour MP Tony Benn, who said she had no credentials for advising the West to kill innocent Iraqis in war.
Look for the big lies to come out of the closet now. I'm expecting an enormous lie in the next few days to try and convince Americans to support the war. They've already tried numerous"little" lies.
Given the lack of public support, it's about time for an enormous lie that will get everyone hyperventilating. You know, like the satellitephoto from Gulf War Part I that apparently was a bald-faced lie.
Hang on folks. It's coming.
Posted by Tom at 8:47 a.m. CST
Posted by Tom at 3:49 p.m. CST
Boy, now get this. The administration was behind the infringement of free speech in New York yesterday.
There's a peace march scheduled in New York City today. But it will be more like a peace standstill. Unlike the 602 cities around the globe where protesters plan to march together to protest a war on Iraq, New York authorities won't allow it.
The Bloomberg administration made the decision well before last week's heightened security alert. A federal three-judge panel affirmed it - even though The New York Times reported a police commander told a federal judge that he had no reason to expect violence.
The Bush administration - which is in the midst of trying to sell the war to the public - filed a brief urging the judges to uphold denial of the permit [for a march]. And the Bloomberg administration has no intention of forcing a St. Patrick's Day standstill instead of a parade - even though it's bigger and likely more raucous.
"The court bought, hook, line and sinker, the undifferentiated-fear factor," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which argued marches are a vital form of free speech.
Why didn't our"liberal media" inform me of this?
Why did I not hear that the administration was behind this until now?
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 1:59 p.m. CST
The Turks are playing hardball folks. If we give the Turks what they're asking for, this war now has the genuine possibility of becoming an utter disaster.
Do these folks in W's administration have any idea what they're doing?
Posted by Tom at 1:43 p.m. CST
Impressive stuff going on here in Missouri folks.
It appears that being against the Iraq war is enough to make your fellow Republicans turn on you and ridicule you in public:
Boone County's Republican chairman said some party members have asked him to resign because of his public statements opposing war with Iraq.
But Chairman Jack Walters of Columbia said Wednesday he won't step down because he has a right to free speech.
"Isn't that my right? Isn't that your right? Isn't that the right of every American?" Walters asked."I'm not relishing this ... it's uncomfortable to me, but I've fought all my life, and I'll continue to fight."
Don Bobbitt, treasurer of the county GOP committee, disagreed, saying Walters' personal view isn't shared by most local party members.
Bobbitt said that if Walters doesn't resign, there will probably be a vote on ousting him when the committee meets next week.
"I have a notion that somebody is probably tallying up the necessary votes," Bobbitt said.
Still, he was publicly tweaked Tuesday night during a local Republican banquet by the master of ceremonies, Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane.
"I thought you might still be down there at the peace demonstration at Broadway and Providence," Crane told Walters from the podium.
Crane then received loud applause when he declared:"Nobody would say that we shouldn't have a right to our own opinion. That's including you and including me.
"But when you're talking on behalf of Republicans, I want to go on the record if the press is here that you're not speaking for Kevin Crane.
"And I don't know. Maybe there's some people who you are speaking for. But I'm with President George W. Bush."
Mary Willett, a Republican committee member from Columbia, said Walters was out of line.
"I feel quite sure his views do not represent the majority of people on the committee or the Republicans in Boone County," she said.
Impressive, huh? These pro-war folks sure have been getting grumpy lately, haven't they?
Posted by Tom at 10:03 a.m. CST
Millions around the world protest against the potential Iraq war.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there were some pro-war demonstrations. Get a load of this sparsely-attended pro-war demonstration by Freepers in southern California.
You really should see the folks who will actually protest IN FAVOR of this war.
I will say nothing further. There is no need to do so.
Just go take a look. Be sure to read the posts as well.
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 9:31 a.m. CST
Boy, you really ought to get a load of the bitter posts that Insty is putting up today about the protests.
You sure can tell the pro-war folks are getting a bit desperate, aren't they?
Some of Glenn's posts today are unworthy of someone who presumably is a well-educated and tolerant person who teaches at a university.
I'm a bit embarrassed for him myself.
Posted by Tom at 5:23 p.m. CST
to fire Donald Rumsfeld.
Both Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld shouldn't let the screen door hit them in the ass on the way out.
If only it would happen.
Our standing in the eyes of the world would improve quite a bit just upon the hearing of this news.
You and I know it won't happen of course -- but it should.
Posted by Tom at 2:54 p.m. CST
Boy, read this story. I can almost see the reporter writing this story with a smirk on his face.
The Bush administration dramatically shifted its terrorism message on Friday, downplaying the likelihood of an attack even though it did not lower the official terrorist threat level.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said a terrorist attack is"unlikely,” a week after Attorney General John Ashcroft said there was an"increased likelihood” of an attack on the United States.
Ridge also said that intelligence about a possible attack"more often than not is very vague.” Ashcroft had said"specific intelligence” that was" corroborated by multiple intelligence sources” led he and Ridge to raised the threat status to its second-highest level.
No matter how you spin this folks, Ashcroft was lying last week or Ridge is lying this week.
Impressive stuff, huh folks?
Posted by Tom at 10:39 a.m. CST
It's quite a day folks. Millions are protesting the war across the globe. Maybe we can stop this thing after all.
I can hope, can't I?
Posted by Tom at 10:30 a.m. CST
U.N. support for our "Splendid Little War."
I see that Powell even further undermined his position in world opinion today as well:
Powell was undeterred by the outpouring of anti-war sentiment.
"The threat of force must remain," he told the council, adding that Iraq was strengthening its links with terror groups."We cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to turn up in our cities."
And what's your evidence, Colin? Surely it's not something as lame as this is it?:
In a surprise move, Blix chose to address some of the evidence against Iraq that Powell shared with the council in a dramatic presentation last week.
Pointing to one case Powell highlighted using satellite photos of a munitions depot, Blix said:"The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity" rather than one designed to hide banned materials before inspections.
"In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming," he said.
Look for public opinion to begin coming back our way folks. You never know but this appears to have been a pretty crippling rebuke today.
W and the boys are clearly going to have to go to war without U.N. approval, something that 60-65% of Americans want, so this could get quite interesting.
I can't wait to hear the hyperventilating b.s. from W and the boys tomorrow.
Posted by Tom at 10:25 p.m. CST
Stand Down comment boards are so much fun! As I'm sure you're aware, I double-post many of my blog entries over at Stand Down. I thought I'd share a couple of comment board nuggets with you.
First of all, in response to this mirror post on Stand Down (comments are below the post) about Tommy Franks as ruler of Iraq, we had two entertaining comments.
First, this one:
Screwed up Afghanistan?
I don't think so.
All we heard before Afghanistan was that it was the graveyard of empires. Winters were brutal.... Millions would starve, millions of innocents die in the war.
The war was over in 6 weeks.
The Taliban is gone.
Al Queda has been denied its main sanctuary. We gained tons of intelligence and greatly degraded the terrorist ability to strike us. Since 9/11 there have only been small scale attacks in remote place.
Bin Laden is either dead or totally marginalized.
They play soccer in the soccer stadium instead of chopping off the hands of petty criminals and the heads of woman. Music plays on the streets of Kabul. Girls go to school and women don't live in constant fear of a female apartheid regime
Oh, and in the process, we saved millions from starvation....
Not a bad record for a 'failure'
Now read this rather devastating response that takes this guy's post on the comment board apart bit-by-bit:
Lets focus on the facts here please :
>>>All we heard before Afghanistan was that it was the graveyard of empires. Winters were brutal.... Millions would starve, millions of innocents die in the war.
Up till now there is no exception to the graveyard of empires. Alexander the great, the Indians, The Brits, Sovjet Union. But mind you ALL of these concurred Afghanistan in the beginning; over the years after they lost their hold on the country and were defeated. All held on the big cities and began to loose first in the mountains than the countryside and eventually in the cities, often being trapped in them. Winters are brutal even by admission of The US forces and nobody said millions would die, thousants is the right word in this.
But indeed the US still has the benefit of the doubt; they may be the first to succeed. The point is that we'll now after some time; most likely a few years.
>>The war was over in 6 weeks.
This is just BS isn't it ? Nor Al-queda Nor taliban capitulated. Both are still active and both organisations are still cohesive and able to engage in battles. The last two encagements (anaconda and the recent battle) were remarkably unsuccesful from a US stand point. The vast majority of fighters escaped both events after doing significant battle.
>>The Taliban is gone.
From Bushs perspective maybe. Taliban is still potent in the Pakistani border provinces and among the Pathans. Their fighters are up in the mountains and regrouping according to US army communiques. Therefor the sentence should read :" The Taliban is up in the mountains"; Al queda is still all over the world.
>>Al Queda has been denied its main sanctuary.
As it was when it was evicted from the Sudan several years ago. Just like then they will find a new home. And mind you that only means a new home for their training grounds as their trained cels don't need a special sanctury. After havinf competed a training the blend into all societies all over the world including the US society. Therefor the operational capability will only suffer a few years down the road. As long as these cels have not been discovered any win in afghanistan will not matter much.
>>We gained tons of intelligence and greatly degraded the terrorist ability to strike us.
See my former comment. With regard to intelligence is that you've not won that much of it either. A few books on dirty bombs and how to make a explosive device. I can still download the terrorist cook book from the net if I wanted too. This info is readily available. I for one don't believe at all that the US found heaps of documents on the organisation. Sure enough these were destroyed in the retreat, I mean Taliban and Al-queda had more than enough time to do so because they choose the timing of their retreat.
There have a few more attacks of terrorist over the past year including Bali, in fact this is regarded to be an increase in terrorist activity when compared to the year before. So how does the comment :"greatly degraded the terrorist ability to strike us" hold water ?
>>Since 9/11 there have only been small scale attacks in remote place.
>>Bin Laden is either dead or totally marginalized.
What ever he is he is still not in US custody. Nor is Mullah Omar. Nor will he be anytime soon.
>>They play soccer in the soccer stadium instead of chopping off the hands of petty criminals and the heads of woman.
Haven't been reading much news haven't you ? Sharia is still practiced in the majority of the country; odd exception may be Kabul.
>>Music plays on the streets of Kabul.
That is true
>>Girls go to school and women don't live in constant fear of a female apartheid regime
Ahh, not in Kabul no, in different places ?
>>Oh, and in the process, we saved millions from starvation....
The thousands are stills starving that is why Afghanistan is once again the main heroine supplier of the world since many years. Why, so the farmer can BUY food.
Of course, my favorite is this guy's post on the comment in response to this mirror post of mine about the Colin Powell tape:
there was no strategy, you peace hippies need to learn government documents are confidential for your own safety. PRESIDENT BUSH has to make sure there are no subliminal messages in the recording to activate sleeper cells before it's release to the general public. why don't you ask why clinton did'nt even warn the american people that al quaeda was planning something or why he sold machinery and technology that shows how to split the atom and purify uranium 235 to north korea. then allowed us to be blackmailed for billions of dollars by north korea. maybe we wouldn't be where we are today. you people are so neive.
I couldn't help myself. I had to respond:
I think we've got a geniune tin foil hat guy folks!
You guys ought to head on over for some more comment board fun. The comment boards are humming!
Posted by Tom at 7:11 p.m. CST
Kevin has a good post about W's latest smirking chimp performance earlier today.
I've got a meeting and a Valentine's Day tea to go to!
Posted by Tom at 2:48 p.m. CST
Here's a good article about press censorship and the cleaning up of Gulf War Part I.
As my regular readers know, this is an interest of mine. Go here and you can follow the links back to earlier posts from that post.
Posted by Tom at 1:33 p.m. CST
Boy, now this is just what W and the boys didn't want to hear, isn't it?
He even takes Powell to task, just as I have, on the evidence behind some of his assertions last week.
Now it's time for lunch.
Posted by Tom at 12:33 p.m. CST
I had my 60,000th visitor an hour or so ago via this interesting website/blog.
I've also had more than 94,000 hits since I installed my hit counter on September 18th.
It was only ten days ago that I had my 50,000th visitor.
As always folks, I really do appreciate your patronage. I hope to keep you coming back for more.
I've been pretty busy today. I'll get some more blogging in later after lunch probably. Of course, this afternoon I also need to grade some papers, go to a meeting, take my wife out to a tea for Valentine's Day, etc., etc.
Busy day, huh?
Posted by Tom at 12:26 p.m. CST
MSNBC is about to fire Phil Donahue (whose show consistently out-performs Chris Matthews in the ratings every night) and replace him with loon right-wing talkshow host Michael Savage.
Why not fire Matthews?
Anyway, UggaBugga has managed to get a copy of MSNBC's new weeknight lineup here.
Posted by Tom at 9:50 a.m. CST
Boy, go read this story.
Apparently, the administration knew about the content of the bin Laden tape for five days before it was broadcast. It even seems likely they suggested the timing of the release of the tape.
That means, of course, that when Colin Powell said on Tuesday that the tape proved a link between Saddam and Hussein it was both a strategically-timed and absolutely deliberate lie, wasn't it?
Powell's credibility in the world community just vanished folks.
Posted by Tom at 10:40 p.m. CST
After essentially no bump from the SOTU address and only a small bump from Colin Powell's presentation last week, W's approval numbers are heading south once again.
You really should read the results from this poll. Go take a look at it. None of this is good news for W. In fact, it's the last thing W wanted to see at this point in his campaign for war.
You really should get a load of his approval numbers on the economy. It really does look like he's repeating the mistakes of his dad after all. And his"appease the conservatives" approach may be the worst thing to do in this situation. These economic approval numbers very well may be the beginning of the end for W folks.
W may ultimately end up appearing more heartless to the average American in the midst of a recession than his dad did in 1992 -- especially since he's essentially proposing cuts in federal social programs to pay for big tax cuts for the rich.
Again, it's too early to tell if we're seeing a replay of 1991-1992 but it's eerily similar so far.
No wonder Glenn's getting so grumpy!
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 8:17 p.m. CST
There's some good stuff out there in the blogosphere about the Estrada filibuster.
Nitpicker has an excellent post about it.
Kevin even provides us with a simple chart to show that Democrats were much more efficient and fair about the whole thing the last couple of years:
Republican Control, 1995-2000:
1995: 56 confirmed (45 district, 11 circuit)
1996: 17 (17 district, 0 circuit)
1997: 36 (29 district, 7 circuit)
1998: 64 (51 district, 13 circuit)
1999: 33 (26 district, 7 circuit)
2000: 39 (31 district, 8 circuit)
Democratic Control: (half of 2001, all of 2002)
2001 (July-Dec.): 28 (23 district, 5 circuit)
2002: 72 (60 district, 12 circuit)
The hypocrisy by Orrin Hatch and the Republicans is astonishing. They killed 60 of Clinton's nominees and complained that some of the courts had"too many judges" during the last two years of Clinton's presidency.
Michael Kinsley's got them cold on this:
The seat Republicans want to give Estrada is only open because Republicans successfully blocked a Clinton nominee. Two Clinton nominations to the D.C. Circuit were blocked because Republicans said the circuit had too many judges already. Now Bush has sent nominations for both those seats. Hatch and others accuse Democrats of being anti-Hispanic for opposing Estrada. With 42 circuit court vacancies to fill, Estrada is the only Hispanic Bush has nominated. Clinton nominated 11, three of whom the Republicans blocked.
I'm actually enjoying watching the Republicans in the Senate parade their hypocrisy around for all the world to see.
It's awfully entertaining, isn't it?
Posted by Tom at 3:56 p.m. CST
The new ruler of Iraq after the war will be: General Tommy Franks.
Great. The guy who screwed up Afghanistan will be in charge of Iraq.
I'm sure he'll do better this time, right?
Posted by Tom at 12:26 p.m. CST
Because of an editing error, a front-page article yesterday about diplomatic developments in the Iraq crisis misidentified the Bush administration official who said about the weapons inspectors in Iraq,"At some point it will become obvious that it's time for them to go." It was an administration official speaking on condition of anonymity, not Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser.
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 12:21 p.m. CST
Holy cow! I take a couple of (well-deserved) days off from reading the increasingly illogical Insty, and he loses it! As Hesiod and Roger Ailes have pointed out over the last few hours, Insty has apparently gone over the edge.
As Hesiod points out this morning, Insty continues the Insta-McCarthy routine and seems to be getting even more shrill as the immoral war approaches. Read this bizarre post in which he compares war protesters to Nazis.
Later, Insty once again shows his impressive knowledge of history by asking in this post if anyone in France called FDR a" cowboy" when he declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. The historical errors by Glenn in this post are numerous and really not worth my time to recount. And that's pretty unimpressive considering he only writes two sentences himself in the post. Hesiod's post does a good job of recounting them, go read it.
If you recall, I've demonstrated before that Insty clearly paid little attention in history class in college. InstaPundit's blog would certainly never be confused with History News Network that's for sure.
Glenn claims, predictably, that pretty much everybody in the blogosphere is for this immoral war. What a maroon. Surely even he knows he's lying about that, doesn't he?
Maybe everybody that Glenn reads is for the war but there is a large group of bloggers against the war. Ever been to Stand Down, Glenn?
Well I think I know the answer to that last question, don't I?
What's a courtesan? Well, what do you think? If you want any confirmation, go to the courtesan-in-question's FAQ page here. It's pretty obvious from that page what's going on.
Now folks, I have no problems with what people do to make a living at all and I'm in way a prude on these matters but this is certainly pretty bizarre behavior on Glenn's part isn't it? Is he becoming, as Roger suggests, Insta-Pimp?
I don't know what else to say.
I wonder if Glenn's about to start charging a monthly fee to look at his website?
Posted by Tom at 11:40 a.m. CST
If you want to read more on the Powell mess, go read this post at Liberal Oasis.
It's exam time boys and girls!
Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CST
The Horse is dead-on today:
In an extraordinary development, Secretary of State Colin Powell is shredding his reputation on the world stage in his propaganda war in favor of an invasion of Iraq.
Now he has misrepresented the contents of the purported tape from Osama bin Laden in order to draw a link that does not exist between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Full transcripts of the tape, as provided by the BBC and other corroborating news sources, directly refute Powell's spin.
On the tape, bin Laden attacks Hussein as a"socialist" and"infidel," and calls for the overthrow of other Arab regimes. In this context, Osama bin Laden's call for resistance to the death against a U.S. invasion of Iraq shows that he wishes this apart from what he calls the"survival" of Saddam Hussein. Some link!
The objective facts are:
1) Colin Powell has deliberately distorted the contents of the tape.
2) The rest of the world has noted this.
3) The U.S. media have not, and acts as though Powell's claim is the truth -- when it is not.
All of which raises a large question for the U.S. news media: Will it leap into Powell's credibility gap after him, or will it keep its head and report the facts to inform the American people.
The media now faces its own crisis, the biggest since Vietnam. Are they in fact an independent media or will they simply be an outlet for government propaganda?
Some U.S. newspapers, notably the Philadelphia Daily News, are beginning to tell it like it is. ABC-TV's Peter Jennings has cited the critics. On CNN, Peter Berger has noted that the bin Laden tape says"that if Saddam disappears, it's not not the end of the world." And MSNBC reports pro-war Sen. John McCain saying that he is"not sure" the link was proved. Will the rest of the news media come to their senses?
Just because Colin Powell says it doesn't mean it's true, folks.
I think that about covers it.
Posted by Tom at 8:43 p.m. CST
There should be something to laugh about in these not-so-funny times, right? Andy Borowitz provides us with something today:
VOICE ON BIN LADEN TAPE BELIEVED TO BE RENEE ZELLWEGER
Yet Another Sign of Actress’ Versatility, Experts Say
The voice on a tape broadcast yesterday by the Al Jazeera network, originally thought to be that of Osama bin Laden, is actually Oscar-nominated actress Renee Zellweger, U.S. government experts said today.
“After listening to the tape over and over again, we concluded that something sounded a little off,” said government voice expert Douglas Crittenden at a press briefing today. “And then, we were like, isn’t that the chick from ‘Chicago’?”
While experts were divided as to Ms. Zellweger’s possible motives for recording the chilling tape, some Hollywood insiders speculated that she might have done it as part of a campaign to sew up an Academy Award nomination by further demonstrating her versatility as an actress to Academy voters.
“A lot of people didn’t think Renee could sing or dance, and she proved them wrong in ‘Chicago,’” said Buddy Schlantz, a longtime Hollywood talent agent. “Now she’s shown that she can do a dead-on bin Laden. I’d like to see Julianne Moore or Meryl Streep pull that one off.”
Ms. Zellweger’s performance on the Al Jazeera tape may have had at least one unintended consequence, however, as France, Germany, and Belgium returned to the NATO fold today.
The three renegade nations rejoined the alliance, in the words of French President Jacques Chirac, “to stop Renee Zellweger.”
“There are many in the international community who have been deceiving themselves into thinking that Renee Zellweger could be contained,” President Chirac said. “This videotape, plus the movie ‘Chicago,’ proves that she cannot.”
I needed that. How about you?
Posted by Tom at 4:31 p.m. CST
Today has been one of those days. I'm clearing the decks before the first blue book calamity tomorrow. I'll be getting 120 100-level American history survey essay exams tomorrow. I've tried to get everything I can out of the way so I can concentrate on them tomorrow and part of the day on Friday. I'll still blog some of course but it may be a bit lighter than normal over the next couple of days.
In addition, on Friday my wife and I will be celebrating Valentine's Day by going to a Victorian Tea. So my plate will be pretty full for a while. Of course, as I'm sure you know, I'll continue to blog but I may not be cranking out 7 or 8 posts a day or anything until I can finish grading the exams. Complicating matters is that my two upper-level courses will be having exams the next couple of weeks as well.
Anyway, I thought I'd just give my readers a bit of a heads up. I still haven't seen anything else today that seems particularly compelling to blog about.
When I do, you'll be the first to know.
Posted by Tom at 3:13 p.m. CST
I mean, heck, it will only work on ill-informed people who don't read newspapers at all and get all of their news from our pitiful television media that is essentially cheerleading for a war with Iraq for higher ratings so um, er, uh...
I just realized I described 95% of the people in the United States.
Like I said, never mind.
Update: The German government just agreed with me -- although they put it more diplomatically of course.
Isn't it embarrassing that our allies are now openly calling us liars?
Posted by Tom at 10:23 a.m. CST
Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week!
A War of Convenience
War fever, catch it. That's the Washington theme of the week. Following Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council regarding Saddam Hussein's many sins, the majority of the capital's political class pronounced itself overwhelmed by evidence of the Iraqi dictator's"weapons of mass destruction," or WMDs, as the trendiest pundits style them.
The allegedly"liberal" Washington Post responded editorially with a one-word headline."Irrefutable." Columnist Mary McGrory announced that despite being almost a pacifist by inclination,"I'm Persuaded," mostly by what she described as Powell's unimpeachable integrity. Joining the stampede was NewYork Times columnist Bill Keller, who noted that"The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club includes op-ed regulars at this newspaper and The Washington Post, the editors of The New Yorker, The New Republic and Slate, columnists in Time and Newsweek."
If Keller's list was more than a little bit selective--dissenters do remain, including prominent conservatives like Robert Novak--it was nevertheless clear that many pundits and fence-sitting politicians had decided not to let the war train leave the station without them. Further resistance was deemed futile, and potentially career-threatening. Anybody unpersuaded of the necessity of conquering Iraq, some converts hinted, had to be either stupid or acting in bad faith.
Little effort was expended wondering how and why the Bush administration, following upon the impressive diplomatic feat of uniting the U.N. Security Council behind a unanimous 15-0 vote in favor of resolution 1441, had managed in just three months to convert much of the same body into dissenters against President Junior's excellent plan to establish an imperial outpost on the Persian Gulf.
France, Germany, Russia, China, what do they know? They're spineless, cynical, self-interested, callow, envious and resentful. NATO? Who needs it? Pope John Paul? What's his angle? War, war, war. To the victor belong the spoils. No more quibbling with the Saudis and the Turks. We can change Iraq's name to the Arab Occupied Territories. The U.S. will have a West Bank of its own, complete with oil wells.
To skeptics who remember"intelligence" hoaxes of past decades, however, it wasn't clear that Powell's presentation answered any of the objections his own surrogates like former Bush I national security advisor Brent Scowcroft have put forward for months. Nor did he confront the most basic objection put forward by the French and the Russians: Why now? What's the big hurry? Has Saddam massed troops near the Turkish border? Do satellite photos show ICBMs being moved into place to launch against Tel Aviv? No to both.
For that matter, isn't the phrase"weapons of mass destruction" more than a bit disingenuous? Nuclear weapons, which even Powell made clear the Iraqi dictator can only daydream about, are infinitely more dangerous than the antiquated and much-diminished supply of nerve gas he may be hiding. Chemical weapons don't work when it rains or the wind blows. The only time Saddam used poison gas weapons the Reagan administration helped him acquire was against Iran, a nation with no capacity to escalate to the next level of insanity.
To any skeptic with a computer modem, moreover, it became quite clear why Powell's speech failed to convert few at the U.N. Even"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert reminded Powell of doctored intelligence photos during the Gulf War showing 250,000 Iraqi troops massed on the Saudi border which the St. Petersburg Times proved to be non-existent.
Key parts of Powell's presentation were dubious on their face. That alleged al Qaeda base in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq? If it's what Powell says, why hasn't it been bombed to smithereens? British and U.S. jets have been conducting sorties in the no-fly zone for months. Because it's a dusty outpost not worth bombing reporters for The Observer who visited the place quickly saw.
The mobile bio-war death labs? Please. Even if Hans Blix hadn't told The Guardian that U.S. tips had guided inspectors to mobile food inspection facilities, anybody who's dodged herds of camels, goats and sheep and maniacal drivers on bumpy Middle Eastern highways had to laugh. Bio-war experts told Newsweek the idea was preposterous."U.S. intelligence," it reported"after years of looking for them, has never found even one."
Then there was the embarrassing fact that key elements of a British intelligence document cited by Powell turned out to have been plagiarized from magazine articles and a California grad student's M.A.thesis based upon 12 year old evidence.
The choice, after all, isn't between war and nothing. It's between war and squeezing Iraq through the inspections process to disarm. Already, Saddam's begun haggling like a carpet merchant in a Middle Eastern bazaar, finding"lost" documents, yielding on the issue of U-2 flights.
Too late. The crucial thing about Powell's speech wasn't evidence or logic, but who gave it. The Secretary of State has surrendered to the hawks. War it is. President Junior's" credibility" demands it.
As always, Gene's dead-on target.
Posted by Tom at 8:33 a.m. CST
Phil Carpenter is back from hiatus. You can read his column at HNN here. It's also available at Buzzflash but I want you to read it here so I'm not providing a link to it there.
He writes about how W is trying to turn the clock back to the Gilded Age, something I've suggested here in the past but Phil does it in his wonderful style -- go give it a read!
Phil always attracts the most repulsive of the ditto-monkeys. None yet but I'm sure they'll appear eventually. It's always entertaining to read their torrents of illogic and venom on the comment board.
I can't wait!
Welcome back Phil!
Posted by Tom at 8:02 a.m. CST
Here's a good article by Robert Scheer detailing how W's case for the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection has fallen apart.
Here's a bit of it:
Like their professional counterparts in the United States, British intelligence agencies don't believe there is an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection -- a rather inconvenient fact revealed by the British Broadcasting Corp. on the eve of Blair's visit. The BBC had obtained a top-level report from British intelligence that stated flatly that there were no current ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
"The classified document ... said there had been contact between the two in the past, but it assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies," reported London's Independent newspaper.
This last is the rub. Hussein, himself evil in so many ways, is the secular apostate to the Islamic fundamentalist nuts that are behind our terror fears; that is precisely why the U.S. backed Iraq, nasty weapons and all, in its devastating war with fundamentalist Iran. This is all further evidence that the increasingly frenetic and discredited argument for preemptive war against Iraq is not based on a coherent policy.
Depressing as it is to acknowledge, it now seems clear we are witnessing the tantrum of a woefully untutored and inexperienced president whose willfulness rises in direct proportion to his inability to comprehend a world too complex for his grasp.
In short, a charitable way to put this would be to say we've ginned up the evidence and put the worst possible spin on some very inconclusive stuff.
W and the boys really will do or say anything to get their war, won't they?
Posted by Tom at 9:05 p.m. CST
HOW CONVENIENT. Personally, I think this is evidence that Osama is dead, and that the CIA is supplying these tapes for purposes of its own. (Not that there's anything wrong with that).
But now that he's admitting a"partnership" with Iraq, it's going to be tough for people who've been saying"you can't even catch Osama" to deny this evidence. Heh.
Posted by Tom at 6:25 p.m. CST
This stuff with the Bin Laden tape today is creepy. This morning Colin Powell suggested this morning that a new bin Laden statement would demonstrate the close relationship between Al-Qaida and Saddam. At the same time, Powell also suggested that NATO was endangering its very existence by not doing EXACTLY what we want when we say so.
Anyway, the tape was played on al-Jazeera this afternoon. At first, MSNBC's story stated that the tape demonstrated just the opposite, stating that bin Laden urged the Iraqi people to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Then suddenly, that sentence disappeared entirely from the story. What's up?
Okay, so the administration is now claiming that this tape proves there is a link between them:
In an interview with al-Jazeera aired after the tape, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the recording shows that Iraq and al-Qaida ``are bound by a common hatred.''
``He threatens everybody in the Arab world except Saddam Hussein,'' Boucher said. ``We are saying Iraq is giving a haven to this group.''
You want to hear the offending paragraph that proves this link?
Here it is:
Under current circumstances, there is nothing wrong in Muslim interests converging with those of the socialists in the battle against the crusaders, even if we believe and declare that the socialists are apostates."
In NO way does this say what the administration says it does. No matter how you spin it, it doesn't suggest that at all.
Folks, W and the boys are lying about this in the boldest way possible. This is embarrassing.
We have an administration of liars.
Posted by Tom at 4:44 p.m. CST
Issues Guy has now revealed himself to us as...Dave Johnson!
I've known for months now but have kept his secret. He also makes a couple of wisecracks about the moronic ditto-monkeys appearing on the comment boards at the bottom of his article here at HNN.
Get a load of this guy for example.
Anyway, Dave, these people aren't worth responding to. In fact, if you ignore them, they'll generally disappear over time. I discovered that a while back. They primarily love talking to each other more than anything else.
They also represent the opinions of six or seven of the several thousand folks who've read this article over the last couple of days. Don't sweat it. I learned a while back to ignore such folks no matter how galling their ridiculous comments.
However, I understand that the irony can be pretty rich at times and hard to resist. I love watching these self-unaware geniuses who see the"liberal conspiracy" behind everything bad in America today claim that Dave's article, which provides ample evidence of a clearly well-financed and strategic campaign by conservatives to influence the media, is preposterous!
Certainly this is a wondrous example of people who truly can't see the forest for the trees, eh Dave?
Posted by Tom at 3:10 p.m. CST
Kevin over at CalPundit has an excellent post about Greenspan's testimony before Congress today. The news is quite bad for Republicans. Last week, Paul Krugman wondered aloud if Greenspan had a spine left last week.
Go here for what I've had to say about the subject.
He apparently has a bit of a spine left.
Bully for him.
Posted by Tom at 1:54 p.m. CST
Krugman's column is excellent today. He argues why Europeans have adequate reasons not to trust us -- and it has a great deal to do with what W and the boys haven't done in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Why might Europeans not trust Mr. Bush to follow through after an Iraq war? One answer is that they've been mightily unimpressed with his follow-through in Afghanistan. Another is that they've noticed that promises the Bush administration makes when it needs military allies tend to become inoperative once the shooting stops — just ask General Musharraf about Pakistan's textile exports.
But more broadly, they may have noticed something that is becoming apparent to more and more people here: the Bush administration's consistent unwillingness to take responsibility for solving difficult problems. When the going gets tough, it seems, Mr. Bush changes the subject.
Last week's budget is a perfect example. The deterioration in the long-run budget outlook is nothing short of catastrophic; at this point a fiscal train wreck appears inevitable once the baby boomers retire in large numbers. Should we be reconsidering those tax cuts? Should Mr. Bush tell the American people how he plans to cut Social Security and Medicare?
The White House has an easier solution. First, it has conveniently decided that budget deficits are not a bad thing after all. Second, it has stopped making long-run projections, and now looks only five years ahead. And even those projections don't include any allowance for the cost of an Iraq war.
In the United States it is taken as axiomatic that America is a country that really faces up to evildoers, while those sniveling old Europeans just don't have the nerve. And the U.S. commentariat, with few exceptions, describes Mr. Bush as a decisive leader who really gets to grips with problems. Tough-guy rhetoric aside, this image seems to be based on the following policy — as opposed to political — achievements: (1) The overthrow of the Taliban; (2) . . . any suggestions for 2?
Meanwhile, here's how it looks from Paris: France was willing to put ground troops at risk — and lose a number of soldiers — in the former Yugoslavia; we weren't. The U.S. didn't make good on its promises to provide security and aid to post-Taliban Afghanistan. Those Americans, they are very brave when it comes to bombing from 10,000 meters, but they expect other people to clean up the mess they make, no?
And French officials have made no secret of their belief that Mr. Bush wants to invade Iraq not because he is truly convinced that Saddam Hussein is a menace, but because he'd rather have an easy victory in a conventional war than stick to the hard task of tracking down stateless terrorists. I'm not saying they're right; I have no idea what Mr. Bush is really thinking. But you can understand their point of view.
In the days ahead, as the diplomatic confrontation between the Bush administration and the Europeans escalates, remember this: Viewed from the outside, Mr. Bush's America does not look like a regime whose promises you can trust.
Posted by Tom at 12:04 p.m. CST
We're having network problems this morning here. Posting may be limited due to these unavoidable technical difficulties.
My son also came down with Maryville's bubonic plague stomach virus last night -- at 1:45 a.m. Nothing like a blissful sleep interrupted by an hour of cleaning up, right?
I'm still trying to forget the horrors I saw last night. Did you ever wish you could wash out your brain?
And now, of course, I'm worried about when I'll come down with it.
In short, I'll try to post more but the internet is up for a few minutes and then down for a few minutes so I just don't know if I'll be able to do so.
Posted by Tom at 11:24 a.m. CST
Eleanor Clift has an excellent article on the insanity that is the fiscally irresponsible Bush budget.
I looked like mad for something else more exciting to blog about. This was the best I could do. Sorry folks.
I didn't feel like blogging about the war again. It's pretty damn depressing that this nation is going to go to war for no real good reason other than to commence"Operation Repair Poppy's Legacy."
The scariest thing of course is that more and more Americans are clearly on board with this lunacy. I think my wife is absolutely right about this. Americans don't want to think their government is feeding them a line of bullshit. It makes them uncomfortable -- and understandably so. It made them feel icky. Interestingly enough, Americans didn't buy what W had to say in the SOTU address. However, they apparently watched the two minute digest of Powell's speech on ABC Worldnews Tonight.
"Aha!," they said."There it is. There's my reason! Now I can support the war. I feel so much better now!"
Now they can happily turn off their brains again. They can pretend this is a good cause and move on.
They won't read the stories in the media raising significant questions about Powell's presentation or anything. They'll head back to their state of blissful ignorance. And the media, happily cheerleading for higher ratings, will go right along parroting the administration line for the next several weeks.
I'll stop now.
Hmmm. I said I wouldn't blog about the war and then proceeded to do so.
Posted by Tom at 10:13 p.m. CST
Here's a cool article just published here at HNN about the very small number of folks who are behind the attack on academics who are speaking up against the war. The article is by Dave Johnson of the Commonweal Institute.
It's pretty eye-opening. What sounds like a lot of voices is essentially a few folks who are taking the marching orders and reading scripts paid for by a few sugar daddies.
So, among other things, Dave is helping to explain just how it is that"Crazy Davey" Horowitz makes a living.
Posted by Tom at 3:41 p.m. CST
Iraq has agreed to U-2 overflights for the weapons inspectors.
Predictably, the administration is pretty pissed that something is getting in the way of its war:
The White House said the initiative was meaningless and continued its diplomatic campaign to build support for military action in Iraq. “The bottom line is the president is interested in disarmament,” spokesman Scott McClellan said. “This does nothing to change that.”
We're really beginning to look foolish and bloodthirsty now, aren't we?
Update: Skippy has more on this important story.
Posted by Tom at 3:19 p.m. CST
Is this lame or what?
If your battle plan involves bombing Baghdad back to the stone age this sort of flaccid fig leaf isn't going to be enough to protect you Georgie.
You're responsible for it buddy. Quit trying to shift blame.
Hey, how about finding a peaceful solution?
Wouldn't that be just a bit more humane?
I'm with Hesiod who says this report is just
code for"when you see pictures of dead Iraqi civilians on Al Jazeerah and CNN, it's not our fault, even though we were the ones who bombed them."
Posted by Tom at 12:25 p.m. CST
Over the weekend, about twenty reporters were taken to the site of the alleged "poisons and explosives factory" mentioned in Colin Powell's presentation last week.
Guess what? Once again, something mentioned in Powell's speech isn't checking out:
They found a wholly unimpressive place — a small and largely undeveloped cluster of buildings that appeared to lack substantial industrial capacity. For example, the structures did not have plumbing and had only the limited electricity supplied by a generator.
Roughly half the buildings in the compound appeared to have recently been civilian homes, and one contained the sandals of a small child. The remaining buildings were in military or political use, serving as fighter's barracks or as a television and radio station for the Islamic party.
While I know it is always possible that the site has been cleaned up and that this was a propaganda maneuver (although Saddam doesn't control this part of Iraq at all), the site apparently was far too crude to be fulfilling the function Powell claimed it was.
When confronted with this revelation, here's what the state department said:
A senior State Department official maintained today that no matter the rough conditions at Sarget, Mr. Powell's characterization of the compound was accurate."A poison factory is a term of art," he said,"and it doesn't necessarily mean that people are pumping out thousands of gallons a year."
In short, you caught us but we're not going to admit we're, once again, stretching intelligence past the breaking point. We're taking little shreds of truth and putting the most possible (and apparently at times preposterous) negative spins on them.
Americans, are you listening? It appears that large portions of Powell's speech don't check out!
Do you even care?
Posted by Tom at 9:26 a.m. CST
Is there any bigger threat to public safety than a thirty-year-old woman (or man for that matter, I'm not sure the gender matters really) who is driving a Ford Excursion while talking on a cell phone?
Posted by Tom at 9:06 a.m. CST
Posted by Tom at 4:07 p.m. CST
It appears that what we all suspect about the terrorist alert system is true. It's just a way to deflect criticism and protect the administration's backside:
However, others with access to the intelligence upon which the alert was based said it was largely an effort to make sure government officials could not be blamed for not warning Americans, as they were after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."That's what this whole process is about," said one well-placed intelligence source. They said the information was voluminous but not specific.
Maybe they should rename this warning system. Maybe they should call it the"administration backside protection system" instead. That would be a more accurate name for it.
Americans have already stopped paying attention to these alerts. It is clearly performing more of a political function than anything else.
Posted by Tom at 3:13 p.m. CST
Here's the short version of this argument from Chris:
1) The administration has known about an Al Qaeda camp for months (at least that is what they claim).
2) It knows that it is producing deadly toxins (at least that is what they claim).
3) Yet it has done nothing about it (but won't explain why they haven't done anything about it).
4) But, having now talked about it in public at the UN, the camp, if it ever actually existed, has probably been torn down and its occupants spread to the four winds.
In other words, in order to win people over to its side on the Iraq war question, the Bush administration may have deliberately endangered the lives of Americans by allowing this camp to exist for so long. And, they may have further endangered Americans by blowing the cover on this camps existence in order to win public support for a war on Iraq.
I would say that a President who, by his actions, knowingly endangers the lives of Americans for political gain, has violated his oath of office and ought to be duly impeached and removed from office.
I don't know about going this far. However, I do agree that it is reprehensible if they really knew this camp existed and was a threat but didn't destroy it.
Why didn't they destroy it?
It certainly raises real questions about whether W and the boys really are serious about the war against terrorism, doesn't it?
Posted by Tom at 10:13 a.m. CST
Here's an interesting article by Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe about the potential cost of the war.
I especially like this part of it:
Just as important, the nation has yet to debate how closely Bush's rush to war mirrors Lyndon Johnson's. Without any proof of an imminent threat, it is fair to ask if Bush is foolishly dragging the nation into a personal vendetta against Saddam 12 years after Bush's father was criticized by the right wing for not destroying Saddam's army instead letting it flee home to rebuild after being driven out of Kuwait.
''The cost of war may turn out to be low, but the cost of a successful peace looks very steep,'' Nordhaus wrote. ''If American taxpayers decline to pay the bills for ensuring the long-term health of Iraq, America would leave behind mountains of rubble and mobs of angry people. As the world learned from the Carthaginian peace that settled World War I, the cost of a botched peace may be even higher than the price of a bloody war.''
Avedon Carol also has an excellent post about the upcoming war as well.
Here's part of it:
So, why war, why Saddam, and why now? None of this has been made clear, and until it is, there's no good argument for war. And until there's a good argument for war, based on a solid foundation, the anti-war side doesn't really need a counter-counter argument, because the default, always, must be that War is Bad. And it's the US, not Saddam, who wants to start a war. If the administration is unprepared to back that up - and they clearly are - then they are not yet in position to make Saddam the bad guy. A bad guy, sure - among many - but not the bad guy. And in any normal, sane reality, the invader is the bad guy.
I've also been taking a little heat for that last post in which I suggest that Powell may have been purposefully misleading the U.N. in his presentation. I've been getting the usual high I.Q. Insty-style stuff,"you're repeating Iraqi propaganda, helping Saddam, etc., etc." No one has accused me of treason yet. Yet.
Look folks, all I'm trying to suggest is that the explanation being presented by the Iraqis of what was going on at this supposedly"top-secret" site is at least as plausible as that being presented by Powell. In fact, Powell had to put quite a sinister spin on what he was looking at to claim what he did claim.
I'm also listening with interest to the administration's rather desperate attempt to stop the reasonable plan that the Germans and the French are working on to avert war. Nothing impresses me (and the rest of the world I suspect) more than when an administration refuses to be reasonable.
I'll admit that I'm finding myself astonished, as war draws nearer, that we could actually start a war without any sort of really good reason and steadfastly refuse to pay any attention to the reasonable folks at the U.N. who suggest that war is a bad idea.
Ultimately, the cost of this war, beyond the tens of thousands of innocent folks who will be killed in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars, will be the image of the U.S. as any sort of just power in the world.
We're going to look like a bully that is fighting a weak Iraq for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, I'm afraid in this case that image and reality will be one and the same.
Posted by Tom at 9:49 a.m. CST
Boy, get a load of this story from the Los Angeles Times.
It appears, bit-by-bit the supposed evidence for Colin Powell's presentation is falling apart. First, there was the phony U.K. dossier he cited. Now it appears that the"top secret" weapons facility has been visited numerous times without prior warning by U.N. inspectors since the date of the photo and that the explanations for what the U.S. caught on the satellite photos may not be as malevolent as once thought. Go read the story.
However, I'm afraid the American people won't give a damn. They're probably not paying attention any more. As I said in my last post, they've decided they've heard enough and they apparently believe the administration.
Interestingly enough, the American people still want U.N. approval for military action -- and that probably won't be forthcoming. It will be interesting to see what the polls look like when we move forward with few allies and over the objections of the U.N.
Of course, if the U.N. ever gives its approval, the American people will be on board overwhelmingly.
I mean, heck, who really gives a shit about the lives of tens of thousands of civilians in Baghdad?
They don't really count, right?
Posted by Tom at 5:23 p.m. CST
According to the latest Newsweek poll, more Americans support military force than two weeks ago. However, in contrast to the headline which loudly trumpets that"Powell Made His Case," 59% still oppose a unilateral attack -- which is what we're going to have to do folks.
Of course, to me all this means is that the average American hasn't paid any attention until Powell appeared before the U.N. Powell presented an interesting collection of suggestive evidence (nothing conclusive of course) that Saddam is seeking to evade the U.N. inspectors. What's amazing is that many Americans support this war even if we find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
The American people in this instance remind me of the O.J. jury. They're looking for a reason to believe in this war and they'll take anything, no matter how flimsy it is, and run with it. Americans, like all human beings, want to believe what their government and the folks in authority tell them.
Unfortunately, as a historian, I know that governments -- and American presidents in particular -- frequently lie to the people. Unfortunately, the most egregious lies are often told when war is the goal.
There are a number of whoppers being told by this administration in support of this war.
It'll be up to the historians to tell this story accurately in the years after the war. W and the boys may not like what we have to say.
Posted by Tom at 3:34 p.m. CST
The whole Iraq situation has been yet another demonstration of the overall incompetence of the news media. There is one simple question which no one ever bothers to ask - or at least, one which no one ever bothers try and get a serious answer to - what happens after we win the war?
Friedman is clearly inhabiting a delusional world of his own creation in which he believes, absent any evidence - and in fact, in complete opposition to a mountain of contrary evidence - that the invasion of Iraq will be be followed up with a commitment to the democratization of the Arab world. Our dealings with Turkey regarding the Kurds and the hopeless muddle that is Afghanistan should themselves be evidence enough that this administration's intentions to implement Friedman's desires are not there. But, more to the point - Friedman's desires for invading Iraq are simply not the administration's, and this fact alone precludes his desired outcome from becoming reality absent some serious regime change here at home.
More generally, with all of the ink spilt on Iraq, all of the hours devoted to it television, complete with catchy graphics, ominous music, and yapping pundits, the simple question of what happens after"regime change" has not been explored. The coverage of the war has almost entirely been political coverage - that is, it is seen as a horserace. Will Bush"win" the UN election? If he loses the election, will he assume power anyway? Did his latest speech improve his standing in the polls? The media have not demanded any answers from the administration regarding their plans for a post-war Iraq. Little attention was paid to this detail when we attacked Afghanistan, either, though then the media's willingness to accept the"trust us" answer was more understandable if no less disturbing.
Bloggers and pundits alike can spin their desires or predictions for the post-war Iraq, but shouldn't the media start demanding some answers?
Once again, with this invaluable post, Atrios demonstrates why I read his blog religiously.
There's more high quality analysis in that single post than I've heard from the combined forces of the bubbleheads in the media for the last solid week.
Posted by Tom at 12:55 p.m. CST
My copy of Eric Alterman's book What Liberal Media? came yesterday. I'm reading it now. It's quite good so far.
I encourage you to go buy it.
You can read the first chapter here.
Posted by Tom at 11:12 a.m. CST
The GAO has dropped the lawsuit to get any information about how the energy policy was drafted.
According to W and his cronies on the federal bench, you and I no longer have the right to know what our government does anymore.
Did you watch NOW last night? Secret arrests? Pretty frightening stuff, eh?
Whoever leaked that document is likely to find himself drummed out of the administration.
I'll bet the plumbers are casting about right now trying to figure out who it was.
Update: Speaking of last night's NOW, the transcript of Moyers's interview with Chuck Lewis is here.
Posted by Tom at 8:19 a.m. CST
Boy, now you've got to get a load of this attempt by W, Ashcroft, and the boys to further strengthen the police powers of the federal government -- in short, to create a more efficient police state. They're calling this turkey the"National Security Enhancement Act" of 2003.
This law would allow the government to strip American citizens of their citizenship and expel them. It would also allow the administration to extend further the"veil of secrecy" that pervades many things in this administration.
On top of all this, the administration has been lying to congressional leaders about whether they were working on such legislation. However, you'll notice that Dennis Hastert has seen a copy of the bill in question.
Tonight on PBS, Bill Moyers will devote his NOW program to this troubling development.
I'd suggest you watch it.
Maybe I'm becoming paranoid, but since the terror alerts are often suspiciously timed to be issued on days in which the administration would like to distract the public's attention from something, I can't help but wonder if that's what's going on today with the terror alert.
You have noticed that's all we've heard about today and that the major media hasn't said a thing about this story at all.
Suspicious timing to say the least, eh?
I know what I'm watching at 9:00 tonight.
Posted by Tom at 7:11 p.m. CST
Kristof's column today in the New York Times is quite good:
President Bush and Colin Powell have adroitly shown that Iraq is hiding weapons, that Saddam Hussein is a lying scoundrel and that Iraqi officials should be less chatty on the telephone.
But they did not demonstrate that the solution is to invade Iraq.
If you've seen kids torn apart by machine-gun fire, you know that war should be only a last resort. And we're not there yet. We still have a better option: containment.
That's why in the Pentagon, civilian leaders are gung-ho but many in uniform are leery. Former generals like Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni and Wesley Clark have all expressed concern about the rush to war.
"Candidly, I have gotten somewhat nervous at some of the pronouncements Rumsfeld has made," General Schwarzkopf told The Washington Post, adding:"I think it is very important for us to wait and see what the inspectors come up with." (The White House has apparently launched a post-emptive strike on General Schwarzkopf, for he now refuses interviews.)
As for General Zinni, he said of the hawks:"I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one that I travel." In an October speech to the Middle East Institute in Washington, he added:"[If] we intend to solve this through violent action, we're on the wrong course. First of all, I don't see that that's necessary. Second of all, I think that war and violence are a very last resort."
Kristof points out that even the Reagan administration was wise enough to realize that containment works with militarily impotent and sometimes even with terrorist-supporting regimes. Containment was their answer to the threat of Qaddafi's Libya.
Ironically, at the same time we were cozying up to Saddam because he was our buddy.
Why is war the ONLY option? I take real issue with some of the war-supporting liberals out there (this means you Kevin) who seem to buy the administration's line that continuing inspections is"doing nothing."
Inspections aren't the perfect solution but isn't it a better solution than war and the thousands of deaths that follow?
Why can't W and the boys see that?
It doesn't seem that difficult a point to grasp.
Posted by Tom at 3:20 p.m. CST
E.J. Dionne's column on the budget today is quite good.
Now check this little tidbit out:
Reports out of the White House indicate that the administration hopes to use a quick victory in Iraq to push through this radical agenda.
That won't stop me from hoping for a rapid American triumph over Saddam Hussein. But if the president doesn't rethink his domestic priorities, what we'd hope would be a great moment of national unity and triumph could turn very sour, very fast.
Now this my friends is as cynical and, dare I say, evil a thing as I've ever heard an administration doing.
I can think of nothing that would be more immoral and downright ghoulish than dancing on the graves of the thousands of civilians killed in your"shock and awe" attacks on Baghdad by planning to use the public support gained from this"victory" / humanitarian disaster to pass your radically irresponsible budget.
This is monstrous. It sounds just like the sort of calculating approach Karl Rove takes toward everything.
Wouldn't this be a great example of W's brand of" compassionate conservatism?"
Posted by Tom at 12:16 p.m. CST
Why haven't we heard about this in the U.S. media?
Doesn't it seem like sort of an important news story to you?
Liberal media my, er, hind foot.
Posted by Tom at 10:20 a.m. CST
Here's an excellent column from Paul Krugman who, I must brag, has been known to read this blog.
The column considers the above question about Alan Greenspan.
The answer, in my opinion of course, is"yes."
Now, I do want to make it absolutely clear that I am sure my paltry opinions in November had no impact on Krugman's column today.
I just know he reads this blog occasionally.
Posted by Tom at 9:29 a.m. CST
As my regular readers know, I regularly post about the creepy penchant for secrecy this administration has -- and how they want to restore the secretive pre-Watergate Imperial Presidency. (For a couple of recent examples, go here and here.)
Of course, this only makes sense since close scrutiny of the folks actually running the Bush II administration should convince you that it is essentially the second coming of the Nixon and Ford administrations.
This article in the Christian Science Monitor by Pat M. Holt is an excellent summary of recent events on this front.
Here's a bit of it to whet your appetite:
It is time for Congress or the courts to blow the whistle on the Bush administration's excessive secrecy. The secrecy is especially pernicious when set in the context of the administration's proclivity to spin."Spin" is the fashionable word."Twist,""distort,""deceive," or" cover up" would be more forthright.
Consider these examples:
• The White House tried to obstruct the appointment of an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, implying it doesn't want Congress to know what it knows. Contrast President Truman's cooperation when Congress appointed a joint committee to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor.
• Attorney General Ashcroft insists on closing court proceedings that are ordinarily open, including some the Constitution requires to be open. He's done this under the flimsiest of excuses: The release of names of arrestees would give away to Al Qaeda bosses who has been arrested. Or that release of names would violate the arrestees' right of privacy.
Go read the rest of it. It's quite good.
Posted by Tom at 9:15 a.m. CST
Are we heading toward a"dubya dip" recession?
I don't know but we certainly are having a Poppy-style"jobless recovery," aren't we?
Posted by Tom at 8:07 p.m. CST
Boy, you've got to read this. One of the dossiers the U.K. produced that Colin Powell heralded yesterday in his presentation as helping him make his case about Iraq is not what it appears.
This dossier is a direct plagiarism job from three different articles -- one of them by a grad student! They even misrepresent a few paragraphs that describe a pre-Gulf War Iraq in the original paper as describing the current state of affairs in Iraq!
This dossier was presented by the British government as an up-to-date intelligence analysis -- but it's not at all. This certainly raises questions about the veracity of other things we're hearing, doesn't it?
You can watch the more detailed report here. (It's about twelve minutes in.)
Pretty sloppy, eh?
This would certainly get an"F" in my class.
I guess that's what we should give this report as well, huh?
[Links via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 4:48 p.m. CST
I've been getting smug e-mails from my more bloodthirsty and warmongering readers since yesterday demanding I say something about Powell's presentation. Since I was teaching class at the time I didn't see it. I saw part of it yesterday.
From what I've read about it there are some awfully interesting things in it -- particularly the conversation (if the administration's translation is correct) in which two Iraqi commanders discuss getting rid of a"nerve agent." That's awfully eye-opening.
One of the best roundups of Powell's case yesterday was thisNew York Times article.
You'll notice that the administration in no way proved how Saddam was some sort of immediate threat to the United States like, say, North Korea very well may be. That's a rather large hole in their argument and begs the question as to why hundreds of thousands of Americans should be put in harm's way in Iraq but not in North Korea. BTW, the"mobile chemical laboratories" don't exist according to Hans Blix. So, apparently, that little part of the story doesn't check out on the ground at all. When you're presenting false evidence in front of the U.N. that's not exactly impressive.
But, anyway, I ultimately would argue that containment has worked pretty well so far and Powell et. al really presented no compelling evidence that Saddam is helping Al-Qaeda. Lots of suggestion on this but very little apparent and compelling evidence. In fact, the BBC reports that British intelligence concluded quite a while back that there were no apparent links between Al-Qaeda and Saddam. So, therefore, that dog doesn't really hunt.
Furthermore, unintentionally Powell supplied a great argument for a longer period of inspections since the United States has apparently been withholding this evidence from the U.N. inspectors. It only makes sense that the inspectors now should get more time to investigate this new information that has been withheld from them until now. I have noticed that the inspectors have warned Iraq they're on thin ice only this morning.
Of course, ultimately, the biggest question, even if Saddam is misleading the inspectors, is whether war is necessary to put him back in his box and whether the higher threat of terrorism here and abroad and potential military and civilian casualties is worth the risk.
I mean, heck, Saddam's neighbors don't even consider him a threat to them, why should we?
The biggest thing that bothers me here is that this administration clearly believes that creating a humanitarian nightmare in Baghdad is okay and it's apparently part of their battle plan. This is not something I can see in any way as being appropriate. This is another thing that makes me oppose this war and, for me at least, is becoming one of the more important reasons to oppose this war. If our warplan is this barbaric, how can I in good conscience support it?
I still think this war is totally unnecessary and a fool's errand. Even if it goes well, we'll probably install another strongman who is just as much a tyrant as Saddam and the Iraqi people (at least those that are still alive and weren't killed by the 800 cruise missiles) won't be any better off. And this may be the best-case scenario.
Let me ask my warmongering friends a simple question: What happens if something goes wrong?
Will this war be worth the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians? If your answer is yes, then I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
Okay. That's all I have to say about this at the moment.
Unlike Glenn Reynolds, I don't consciously duck questions and topics I don't want to deal with.
Now you know my views.
This post also appears on Stand Down.
Posted by Tom at 12:06 p.m. CST
Business Week has done a story and interview with Beth Osborne Daponte, the demographer who got into trouble with the Bush I White House for accurately estimating the civilian casualties in IraqWar Part I. If you recall, this is a story that myself and several folks in the blogosphere helped to push into the mainstream media a few weeks ago.
Once we actually begin IraqWar Part II, look for the same sorts of lies about civilian casualties to begin emanating from this administration about the" clean war" and the lack of collateral damage.
In fact, if they pursue the"shock and awe" battle plan to the letter, war crimes charges wouldn't be too outrageous in my opinion.
Update: Folks, MSNBC's website just picked up this story. This story just made it to BIG MEDIA folks! Hurray!
Posted by Tom at 11:20 a.m. CST
I'm in hurry and have class in just a few minutes. Here are a couple of things to read:
This New York Timeseditorial about the steamrolling of judicial nominees strikes about the right tone.
Also, take a look at this on-target editorial in the Washington Post about the trainwreck budget W proposed last week.
I've got to head to class...
Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CST
Be sure to take a look at this week's Public Opinion Watch by Ruy Teixeira. It's quite an eye opener. You never get analysis of this quality from the traditional media. This guy is good. No dishonest, pro-W, chest-thumping analysis from this guy!
Here's just a bit of it -- and this is the positive stuff for W from the SOTU address:
But the real payoff for Bush is increased support for the policy he appears to be most concerned about, judging from the SOTU: war with Iraq. As Public Opinion Watch has documented over the past several weeks, support has been slipping for the projected invasion and concerns have been rising about acting without UN support and a full complement of allies. The SOTU address appears to have arrested these trends, at least temporarily, and sent them back in the other direction. According to the ABC/Post poll, general support (no specification of conditions) for taking military action against Iraq is now five points higher than it was before the SOTU. Also, among those in favor of taking military action, support is now seven points higher than it was for taking action, even if there is UN opposition.
Not that doubts have disappeared; far from it. Most of the public (57 percent) would still like more evidence justifying the use of military force; 68 percent would like the United States to present its own evidence on Iraq’s weapons if UN inspectors are unable to find hard evidence. And note that, despite the data cited above, a net of 61 percent still oppose military action without UN support (31 percent are opposed to military action outright and another 30 percent who are in favor initially switch to opposition in the event that UN support is lacking). Still, the Bush administration is no doubt quite happy to see basic trends switch from decreasing support to increasing support.
That fits nicely with their plans, which appear to include war no matter what, and sooner rather than later. At the point of an actual invasion, they reason, support for the war will spike upward, regardless of levels of UN support. And Bush’s approval rating also will spike upward, as the public rallies around the troops in the field and their commander-in-chief. That’s what they believe and, as far as it goes, they are probably right.
The problem for them is, this scenario doesn’t take us much beyond early March. The actual fighting is likely to be over with quickly, with a messy and expensive aftermath to manage for an indefinite period. That’s when doubts about the Iraq war and how it fits into the struggle against terrorism—now somewhat subdued but hardly gone— are likely to reemerge. Combine that with a troubled economy and a sense the president’s policies aren’t working and don’t make sense—already abundantly present—and you have a recipe for real political trouble.
After all, Bush I had basically the same approval rating as his son at the beginning of the third year of his first (and only) term. And Bush I had a ground action against Iraqi troops a couple of months into his third year, just as Bush II now looks very likely to do. And Bush I got a huge spike in his approval ratings at that point, just as Bush II may now get. But, as we all know, those approval ratings for Bush I sank quickly in the aftermath of the war and continued economic problems that he appeared clueless about solving. The public eventually concluded Bush I didn’t “get it” about the problems of ordinary people and tossed him out. Bush II seems right on course.
Now go read the section on domestic policy. That's where the BAD NEWS for W and the boys is.
Posted by Tom at 9:23 p.m. CST
According to this, ugh, Fox News Story, Senate Democrats have decided to filibuster the Estrada nomination.
I didn't think they had it in them!
Of course, as W's approval numbers keep on dropping, expect Democrats to challenge Bush much more often.
[Link via Counterspin]
Posted by Tom at 4:25 p.m. CST
Here's Gene Lyons's latest column:
Gambling with History
Be it recorded that last time the United States and its allies went to war with Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, I won a dinner bet with a New York editor who'd bought into the idea of a prolonged tank and infantry battle on the Kuwaiti border. Having had a small amount of experience in that region, I doubted that Saddam Hussein's army would stand and fight. I figured once the shooting started, the war would be over in two weeks.
My thinking had nothing to do with the individual courage or"patriotism" of Iraqi soldiers. These qualities are human constants. It had to do with understanding that Iraq isn't really a nation in the sense that, say, Norway or Mexico are: i.e. a people joined by bonds of language, culture, religion, a sense of shared history and common destiny. Awaken most at gunpoint at 4 A.M. and ask them who and what they are, and"Iraqi" would be just about the last answer you'd get.
Instead, most inhabitants of Saddam's desert paradise would name their ethnic group or religious sect--be it Shiite, Kurd, Chaldean, Sunni--their village or tribe. Ethnically, Iraq makes the former Yugoslavia look coherent. It's not a nation, it's a geographical absurdity cobbled together for their own purposes by the British and French after World War I from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire.
Far from feeling loyalty to the Baghdad dictator, most frontline soldiers were unwilling conscripts held in place by fear. Saddam kept his best-trained and most loyal units close to him. The military position they were defending was a meaningless line in the sand. As soon as they became more afraid of the army in front of them than the tyrant behind them, I reasoned, they would surrender en masse.
As indeed, they did. But not before an appalling bloodbath that won't soon be forgotten by the Americans who took part. Even many who merely witnessed the carnage on CNN, which has been careful not to re-broadcast the most disturbing footage of fleeing soldiers and civilians being annihilated from the air, came away horrified.
A friend who served in Desert Storm told me that far from clamoring to push on to Baghdad, most officers felt immense relief when the war ended. Their objective was to push Saddam out of Kuwait, not to conquer Iraq. Slaughtering a fleeing mob offended their honor and cauterized their souls. Much of the he-man rhetoric about"finishing the job the first time," comes from the kind of people who get a vicarious thrill sitting in their studies boasting of American power and sneering at European weakness.
I thought of that conversation recently after reading in the Los Angeles Times of President Junior's plan to reduce the citizens of Baghdad to a state of"shock and awe" with a cruise missile attack of unprecedented scope and ferocity. Certain of the fervid enthusiasts around Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also think that tactical nuclear weapons may be deployed--lovely, antiseptic word--to take out Saddam's deepest bunkers.
But let's assume that this is largely propaganda, scare talk designed to send Saddam running. What worries many in the Pentagon nervous about President Junior's scheme to occupy Iraq is not knowing whether soldiers who fled in terror during Desert Storm will fight desperately to defend their homes and families against foreign invaders.
Will U.S. and British troops, as everybody assumes, race through the Iraqi desert as easily as German tanks penetrated Poland on Sept. 1, 1939? (Historical analogies, see, can cut both ways.) Or will they meet determined resistance, sabotage, booby traps, and other nasty surprises? Nobody knows. The administration's strategy of loudly proclaiming that Iraq poses a dire threat to U.S. security while making a public spectacle of massing troops along its border as if it were scarcely capable of self-defense makes no sense. The Germans, at least, knew that Polish horse cavalry posed no real danger. We Americans are new at this business of pre-emptive war.
It's these uncertainties and more that caused the conservative thinkers at the Cato Institute to object that"the assumptions that underlie the administration's policy range from cautiously pessimistic to outright fallacious." Far from the unpredictable madman portrayed in President Junior's speeches, Saddam Hussein has shown himself as cold-blooded a realist as Stalin.
Left to his own devices and assured of massive retaliation to aggression against the American homeland, he can be and, indeed has been, successfully deterred."If Hussein believes that his political survival is being threatened, and there is nothing he can do about it," they warn"he may respond in a dangerous and unpredictable manner-with weapons of mass destruction."
In short, if Saddam can't retaliate, invading Iraq is pointless; if he can, it's potentially catastrophic. Take your pick.
Posted by Tom at 3:10 p.m. CST
Instead of actually answering Ted Barlow's question yesterday, Glenn resorts to some more of his world-famous obfuscation and even a cheap shot in the comments to the post:
Well, I'm neither a budget-blogger nor a conservative.
But Ted -- you know that I love you, but should a guy who takes months off at a time be complaining about what other people aren't writing about?
Matt Weiner replies to Glenn in the proper fashion:
When Ted is on hiatus, he's not posting because he's on hiatus. You post all the time, on every subject. When you ignore the budget--a pretty big story--it's fair to ask why.
And maybe, instead of" conservatives," Ted should have written" conservatives and self-described libertarians who are always carrying Bush's water."
Posted by Tom at 1:43 p.m. CST
to fire Richard Perle:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance"must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.
Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials.
But while dismissing Germany's refusal to support military action against Iraq as an aberration by"a discredited chancellor," Perle warned that France's attitude was both more dangerous and more serious.
"France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing"deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor."
What possible reason could there be to keep Perle on after this?
Posted by Tom at 10:28 a.m. CST
Tim Lambert has really caught Insty playing fast and loose with the facts in the Lott case today -- and believes Insty is being dishonest in his discussion of the Lott affair. How shocking!
Tim also notes that Insty plays the little power trip / cowardice game with him too by refusing to link to him. Insty, once again, doesn't want his readers to be able to check whether he's mischaracterizing you or check him on his facts so he'll do anything he can to avoid linking to you -- and in this case it's astonishingly dishonest how he does it.
Here's the paragraph from Tim's blog in question (I've inserted the link to Glenn's post as well):
Glenn Reynolds has a post on the Slate piece where he offers exactly the same argument in support of Lott that Sullywatch offered in support of Bellesiles. The surprising thing is that despite being privy to months of discussion about this on fireamrsregprof, and presumably having actually read the Slate piece, and having been corrected on this very point before and, actually quoting a sentence of mine that mentions that he claim was in Lott's book, Reynolds still somehow believes that Lott's 98% claim is not in is published work. Fortunately two of his readers wrote in to correct him. However, instead of admitting his error Reynolds uses an out-of-context quote from me (without providing a link so readers could see all of what I said) to argue against them. Reynolds also pretends that the only proven charge against Lott is using a pseudonym. However, he has also been caught lying, and even if he did do some sort of survey, he is guilty of unprofessional and misleading work for falsely attributing his 98% claim to other surveys, for advancing his 98% number even though the sample size in his survey was too small to allow a meaningful estimate, and for never once giving the estimate from surveys with an adequate sample size.
If you're a responsible and honest blogger, you let your readers read what the other guy has to say. It's also just common courtesy, isn't it?
What's wrong with that? Or do you not want them to?
If not, why not?
Posted by Tom at 10:11 a.m. CST
Ah, those fiscally irresponsible Republicans!
For my most recent post on this, go here.
[Chart via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 9:52 a.m. CST
W's approval rating is the lowest it has ever been in the Los Angeles Times poll, dropping seven points since last month. And, more interestingly, he now polls under 50% when respondents are asked if they'd vote for Bush in 2004. In fact, he polls 45% to 40% against a generic Democratic candidate.
Boy, how things have changed in the last couple of months, eh?
As Gene Lyons and some in the media have said, this will certainly make W lean toward war now -- to bump up those flagging approval ratings!
[Link via Counterspin]
Posted by Tom at 9:37 a.m. CST
A couple of hours ago, I had my 50,000th visitor since I installed my hit counter on September 18th. This visitor came in via a link from Hesiod at Counterspin.
I've also had nearly 80,000 hits since then as well. It really wasn't that long ago that I logged my 40,000th visitor.
I always think about the days not that long ago (September) when I used to get as many visitors in a month as I now get in a day. In fact, I used to get as many hits in a day as I now average every hour. It's sort of mind-blowing how readership has grown just over the last couple of months.
Anyway, as always folks, I do appreciate it and I hope I give you a reason to keep coming back for more.
Posted by Tom at 9:01 p.m. CST
A majority of the American people don't trust W to tell the truth on Iraq according to a CNN/Gallup poll presented on Inside Politics this afternoon.
Here are the questions:
In UN presentation, the Bush administration is very or somewhat likely to:knowingly present inaccurate information:49%conceal evidence against Bush position:58%
This does not portend well for the administration at all.
The American people no longer trust them.
[Link via Atrios]
Posted by Tom at 6:25 p.m. CST
I've been meaning to link to this column by Richard Reeves.
He first tells us about the detainment of Ejaz Haider of the Brookings Institution and concludes:
Haider, who may have been in violation of an INS regulation requiring visitors to contact the service if they stay in the United States for more than 30 days, is a very lucky man. Among other things, he happens to be a personal friend of Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who happened to be meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft that same day. Kasuri demanded to know where Haider was and why he had been picked up.
The scholar was released. Kasuri said later:"If that is the sort of person that can be nabbed, then no one is safe.
Yes. Haider could have disappeared in the American prisons and prison camps that are hidden in the small print of the great war against terrorism. Or he could have been executed without trial or mention.
Reeves then moves on into even more disquieting territory:
Oh, you don't think that happens here? Americans don't do such things?
If so, then you were not watching and listening carefully to the president last Tuesday night. I literally leaped out of my seat when Bush said this:
"To date we have arrested, or otherwise dealt with, many key commanders of al-Qaida. ... All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way, they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
In other words, Americans are out there murdering"suspected" terrorists. And the president smirked and almost wink-winked with pleasure. He was bragging about American assassinations.
How many of you let this one get by you? I didn't see the speech but my wife told me that W was downright gleeful as he delivered this line. I hadn't realized the bone-chilling nature of it until now.
In short, W and the boys are helping assassinate folks around the world -- and they're proud of it.
I'm not naive enough to believe these things don't happen. However, I can't believe that W and the boys are so bloodthirsty as to brag about it in a national address.
I don't have anything else to say.
Posted by Tom at 2:55 p.m. CST
Bushwatch has an incredible and invaluable collection of links today -- most of them linking to media criticism of W's irresponsible budget proposal yesterday.
Just go on over there and pick a link, any link, and start reading.
Okay, so now you've read up on this and I can move on.
I think it's safe to say that W doesn't have any fiscal principles at all, does he? He's creating a fiscal crisis at a time when we can least afford it. BTW, what happens when we need to start paying out Social Security benefits to the baby boomers? His current budgets continue the raid on the Social Security surplus. W has picked the lock on the Social Security lockbox and he's essentially distributing the funds to his rich buddies in the form of tax breaks. Now I understand why didn't want to talk about the"lockbox" during the campaign. He was contemplating stealing from this program even then, wasn't he?
Furthermore, his budget and tax policy will obviously shift the tax burden downward. I especially love the Lifetime Savings Account proposal which will make it possible, as Nathan Newman pointed out the other day, for rich people to essentially live tax-free and to leave their heirs lots of money, all tax-free.
Is it me or is W writing tax policy that will ONLY benefit rich people? He apparently believes tax policy is supposed to make sure that plutocrats like himself, Poppy, Jeb, et. al, can continue to party on while the rest of us have to pay the bills.
After all, who will ultimately pay for this largesse? Well, of course, it's you and me, the poor chumps who have to make a living based on our paltry salaries and don't live on dividends and can't sock away tens of thousands of dollars per year into retirement or Lifetime Savings accounts.
Folks, this fiscal policy is going to have real ramifications -- and they're going to be quite dire for us folks at the bottom and even the middle of the economic ladder.
My goodness. As I finish this post and consider all this I'm not even sure calling W's fiscal policy"irresponsible" quite covers it.
Unfortunately, I can't think of a better word at the moment so I'll just stick with irresponsible for now.
The President is driving us towards a budgetary 30-car pileup, and conservatives can't seem to get interested. When it comes to fiscal responsibility, we no longer have a conservative movement; we have an enabler movement. It's a damn shame, and I'm going to be paying for it for the rest of my life.
Update 2: Hesiod comments on this as well. I like it when Hesiod argues that, for conservatives,"the Era of Big responsibility is over."
Posted by Tom at 12:01 p.m. CST
Here's Noah's rather judicious final paragraph that sounds a lot like my post yesterday:
We know Lott invented an online persona. Did he invent the 98 percent figure? Did he invent the survey it purportedly came from? We don't know."People who are on the gun-control side of the debate," says Polsby,"are hurting on account of Bellesiles. And they want a scalp. John, for one reason or another, is a beautiful scalp to get. For one thing, he's not a terribly good witness on his own behalf." Is Lott the Bellesiles of the right? Chatterbox is not yet prepared to say.
Julian Sanchez also has an update as well.
As usual, if you want the full rundown, go read Tim Lambert's website.
BTW, have you noticed how quiet the gun rights guys have gotten all of a sudden?
Folks, this is yet another story that has now successfully made it from the blogosphere into the mainstream media.
The membranes between the two are getting quite permeable, aren't they?
Update: Atrios has an extended comment on the Lott affair today as well.
Posted by Tom at 11:21 a.m. CST
Longtime reader Mark Safranski (at one point a few months ago I think he may have been my ONLY reader!) sent me a link last night to this story by a man purporting to be Saddam's bodyguard telling us about Saddam's hidden cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction. I had read the story at some point the day before from a link on a righty blog.
I, of course, find such stories interesting but I am usually profoundly skeptical about them -- especially when they just happen to appear in one of Randolph Hearst's, er, I mean Rupert Murdoch's newspapers. Such stories always seem a bit too convenient for the advocates of IraqWar Part II.
And then, today, with this story still rattling about in my brain, I come across this Newsweek story. This excellent story explains in adequate complexity how complicated the intelligence business is and also mentions how experienced intelligence agents have discovered that such stories from turncoats are often very unreliable.
I must admit that I honestly don't know how one tells truth from fiction in these matters. I wish I felt I could trust W's judgement in weighing such intelligence. Unfortunately, past experience isn't very reassuring I'm afraid.
Posted by Tom at 9:19 p.m. CST
Tim Lambert has a good update on the Lott saga today. Among other things, it appears that Lott, having embarrassed himself so thoroughly in the Washington Post on Friday has decided to cut his losses and back out of an interview with Kevin over at CalPundit.
Hmmm. I wonder why he did that?
Tim Lambert also points to one of the more dishonest ways that Lott used Mary Rosh -- even using his alter ego to falsely accuse the New York Post of editing out an important phrase in an editorial piece he wrote. Folks this is an astonishing lie that he used Mary Rosh to get away with. You've got to read this for yourself.
How long is the gun rights crowd going to keep defending this guy? He keeps damaging his credibility day after day. I mean, heck, this guy is playing fast and loose on some pretty minor stuff. This certainly makes you wonder about whether you can take his word on the bigger stuff, doesn't it?
I do think it's funny though that many of the more paranoid of the gun rights crowd has decided all of this stuff about Lott is a fabrication. I mean, heck, even some of the more rational of the gun rights crowd made all sorts of outrageous charges about the"liberal defenders of Bellesiles" during that saga.
As I've said before, I wonder how long it will be before they realize that they're doing the same thing in continuing to defend Lott despite the mounting questions about his story?
Do you think they ever will?
Posted by Tom at 2:24 p.m. CST
There's some excellent analysis here:
President Bush radiated calm and assurance about the troubled economy in his State of the Union Message last week. “To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation,” our Harvard M.B.A. president said, to loud applause. He later added, “Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand.” It’s a theme he will undoubtedly repeat to help sell the budget he submits to Congress this week.
IT SURE SOUNDS like the president has things under control. Not to worry, right? But actions speak louder than words, so let’s look beyond the president’s upbeat rhetoric at some numbers the economy and financial markets have posted in his first two years.
The highlights: U.S. stocks have lost almost $5 trillion of value since Bush took office two years ago, a mind-blowing decline. The market has fallen more (in percentage terms) during Bush’s first two years than in the first two years of any modern president, including Herbert Hoover, who was in charge when the Great Depression began. And you can’t blame the Bush Market on the trauma of 9-11: stocks fell at a much faster rate from Bush’s Inauguration through Sept. 10, 2001, than they have since. Unemployment is up more than 40 percent (to 6 percent, from 4.2) since Bush took office; gigantic projected federal-budget surpluses have turned into deficits; the dollar has fallen sharply against the euro. The good news: interest rates have fallen, juicing consumer spending.
The president’s response to our problems has been to propose tax cuts that offer little in the way of short-term stimulus. These cuts may—or may not—confer benefits in future years, when their full cost kicks in. The centerpiece: the controversial plan to make most corporate dividends tax-free to shareholders. Then there’s his recent proposal to expand retirement accounts. His plan would boost tax revenue short term by ending deductions for some plans. But it will cut revenues long term, because retirees will be able to tap their accounts tax-free.
The dreary economic numbers make you wonder whether Bush’s remedies have a chance of curing the patient any time soon. His prescription—cut taxes—is exactly what he prescribed when the economy seemed healthy. With the patient not responding, he wants to cut taxes more. With Bush, it always seems to be tax-cut time. He’s not the first president to want to cut taxes—but he is the only president in at least 140 years (and probably ever) to suggest cutting taxes as we’re heading into a war. This all makes for a troubling picture for anyone hoping the economy and the market will resume booming as soon as the war with Iraq is behind us. Sooner or later the economy will fix itself, because it always does. The question is whether Bush’s policies will advance the recovery—or delay it.
The White House declined to discuss any aspect of Bush’s performance with NEWSWEEK. So we’ll rely on public statements by R. Glenn Hubbard, head of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Hubbard says, in essence, that our economic problems are caused largely by businesses not investing enough, rather than by the traditional problem of consumers not spending enough. To fix the problem, then, we should strengthen investment incentives. What Hubbard hasn’t said—but is inherent in his analysis—is that sending one-time checks to millions of people won’t get the country out of its slump. Sending checks to the masses is exactly what Democrats propose.
You ought to go read the rest of it. Despite the monumental mistakes W is making in other areas -- especially the unnecessary and immoral war with Iraq -- it is the economy that will ultimately bring him down if he's going to be a one-termer.
If the economy recovers, so will his presidency. If you recall, at this point in his first term, Ronald Reagan was one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history after all and the economy was in the dumper -- worse than it had ever been under Jimmy Carter. However, after the economy turned around, Reagan easily won re-election against Walter"I'm going to raise your taxes" Mondale.
Of course, as an aside, I'll let you in on a little secret: Reagan was never really that popular a president anyway despite what Republicans would have you believe. His average approval was in the forties somewhere for the entire eight years he was in office. Clinton was much more popular actually.
Why was Clinton more popular? I don't have to spell it out for you do I?
(Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with either his personality or his personal moral character.)
Posted by Tom at 10:44 a.m. CST
Steve Chapman, a conservative columnist for the Chicago Tribune, takes W's SOTU address to task in this column.
Here's just a bit of it:
Conservatives fancy themselves to be hardheaded realists, immune to cheap emotional appeals. But last week, you could barely recognize them. Hearing George W. Bush rail theatrically against the savagery of Saddam Hussein in his State of the Union address, members of the war party practically quivered in ecstasy.
"The president was able to show his resolve, his sober determination, his moral vision," exulted David Brooks in The Weekly Standard. The Wall Street Journal's editorial writers got a thrill from"the look in his eyes" as he"seethed with determination." Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Reagan and the first President Bush, wrote in perfect seriousness,"For a moment I thought of earnest Clark Kent moving, at the moment of maximum danger, to shed his suit, tear open his shirt and reveal the big `S' on his chest."
Well, there is no accounting for what goes through Peggy Noonan's mind in the presence of a Republican politician. But it's understandable that conservatives responded to the speech with their hearts, because it didn't have much to appeal to the brain. All the inflammatory denunciations and ostentatious muscle-flexing couldn't disguise the flimsiness of Bush's case.
Consider the reasons he cited:
- Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and hopes to get more. The president unrolled a list of nasty weapons that Iraq has long possessed--anthrax, mustard gas, sarin, and VX nerve agents, which could be used to kill millions of people. But that raised an inconvenient question: Why hasn't he used them against us? Answer: He knows he would be destroyed. That hasn't changed.
- The only reason Hussein wants such weapons is for aggression. Bush says that's"the only possible use" they could have. Nonsense. Half a century of experience with the Bomb makes it clear that weapons of mass destruction are valuable only for deterring attack, not facilitating it. That's why we spend billions on nuclear missiles we never use. Given our desire for"regime change" in Iraq, Hussein has understandable motives for wanting such protection. It's worked for North Korea, hasn't it?
The rest of it is just as devastating. There's not much case left by the time you reach the end. Go read it.
Posted by Tom at 9:59 a.m. CST
This story in the Chicago Tribune documents how W is using our taxpayer dollars to buy off potential allies in the region, so that it looks like they support our war when really they're just jonesing for our money and weapons.
In a related development, this Los Angeles Timesstory details how the Wall Street Journal"orchestrated a declaration of support for a Bush administration policy its own editorial page has unstintingly supported, and then reported the event as news." This is pretty damned shameless.
So the administration is buying off the governments of several countries with our money and then their allies (you certainly can't call them"journalists" can you?) at the Wall Street Journal are reporting these orchestrated statements of thanks for the bribe, er, I mean statements of support for the war from these governments quite loudly on the front pages of their supposedly independent newspaper.
I think it's safe to say that we should all be skeptical of the causes of any sudden reversals in position by European or Middle Eastern governments over the next few weeks. Each one of these reversals probably will make the deficit climb another couple of billion dollars or so next year. My kids and grandkids will be the ones paying off these bribes for decades to come.
This post also appears on Stand Down.
Posted by Tom at 7:55 p.m. CST
Here's the website for Eric Alterman's new book What Liberal Media?.
You can read the entire introduction here. It looks quite good. In fact, this introduction mentions awful Ann Coulter and her phony footnotes!
Posted by Tom at 7:32 p.m. CST
Check out this funny and frightening Flash game called"Gulf War 2 (aka World War 2.5)."
Can I send this link on to W?
He might want to keep some of these potential consequences in mind as he pursues IraqWar II.
[Link via Bartcop]
Posted by Tom at 2:11 p.m. CST
There are so many unfounded assertions contained in this ABC News story about their latest poll that it doesn't make much sense.
For example, according to the article, there's been a big increase in W's approval rating since December. However, a quick check over at Polling Report shows that it's only a three point bump since their last poll of ten days ago (and within the margin of error btw) and actually it's a four point drop since their December poll.
They also claim massive gains in support for W's war with Iraq in the last ten days, up from 50 to 61 percent. However, this claim becomes pretty suspect because the article also claims that"[m]ost of the recovery, it should be noted, occurred before Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday."
How can they know this? The poll was done after the SOTU address.
This article is either an amazingly dishonest spin of the poll results or, at best, extremely sloppy analysis.
Did the folks at ABC News just have the White House do the poll and the analysis or what?
Posted by Tom at 12:44 p.m. CST
This story in the New York Times traces how the administration is pushing the CIA and FBI to find evidence, any evidence, that there is a link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda.
Here's a bit of it:
The Bush administration's efforts to build a case for war against Iraq using intelligence to link it to Al Qaeda and the development of prohibited weapons has created friction within United States intelligence agencies, government officials said.
Some analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency have complained that senior administration officials have exaggerated the significance of some intelligence reports about Iraq, particularly about its possible links to terrorism, in order to strengthen their political argument for war, government officials said.
At the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some investigators said they were baffled by the Bush administration's insistence on a solid link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's network."We've been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don't think it's there," a government official said.
The tension within the intelligence agencies comes as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is poised to go before the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to present evidence of Iraq's links to terrorism and its continuing efforts to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Interviews with administration officials revealed divisions between, on one side, the Pentagon and the National Security Council, which has become a clearinghouse for the evidence being prepared for Mr. Powell, and, on the other, the C.I.A. and, to some degree, the State Department and agencies like the F.B.I.
In the interviews, two officials, Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, and Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security adviser, were cited as being most eager to interpret evidence deemed murky by intelligence officials to show a clearer picture of Iraq's involvement in illicit weapons programs and terrorism. Their bosses, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, have also pressed a hard line, officials said.
A senior administration official said discussions in preparation for Mr. Powell's presentation were intense, but not rancorous, and said there was little dissension among President Bush's top advisers about the fundamental nature of President Saddam Hussein's government."I haven't detected anyone who thinks this a not compelling case," the official said.
Oh yeah. That's right. Everyone believes the same thing at this White House! I'm sorry, I forgot.
Anyone else getting really tired of listening to this administration insist that everyone in the administration agrees on everything!
I don't know about you but I'd prefer it if someone -- anyone -- in this administration disagreed with W on this totally unnecessary war -- especially since the administration's case for it is so astonishingly weak.
Since no one can disagree with the boss in this administration, that makes major mistakes like this IraqWar Part II much more likely.
Posted by Tom at 10:01 a.m. CST
John Lott even goes so far as to blame his thirteen-year-old son for the review on Amazon in a story in yesterday's Washington Post. Goodness, this guy is such a loser he'll blame his son instead of take responsibility for something he did!
Tim Lambert is properly skeptical of Lott's story:
One of Mary Rosh's reviews (the one of Caeser 3) reads like it was written by a child, the review of More Guns, Less Crime does not. It also seems unlikely that a 13 year-old would have loaned out his copy dozens of times.
Now, compare Rosh's review:This is by far the largest most comprehensive study on crime, let alone on gun control. Professor Lott examines crime rates as well as accidental gun deaths and suicides for all 3,056 counties in the United States by year for 18 years. By comparison, the previous largest study on gun control examined 170 cities within one single year 1980.
with Lott on"Uncommon Knowledge":The book is the largest study by far that's ever been done on crime, let alone on guns. The largest previous study looked at 170 cities within one year, 1980. My research looks at all 3000 plus counties in the United States for crime rates, accidental gun deaths, and suicides by year for eighteen years.
I'll quote from Mark's post:But Lott asks an interesting question: When your thirteen-year-old son proposes to post an effusive but inaccurate review of your book under a false name, thus concealing his natural bias from the readers of that review, and the review contains substantial material plagiarized from your own statements, should you tell him not to do so?
Boy, that one's too hard for me. So let me ask a different one:
If your thirteen-year-old son has used a feminine pseudonym, should you publish that fact in newspaper?
That's not an easy one to answer, is it? If you do so, your son will get an infinite amount of grief from his age-peers, who will make, or pretend to make, inferences about his masculinity, and probably his sexual orientation as well, from his choice of pseudonyms. You might regard that as a disadvantage.
On the other hand, you should be proud of him, and encourage him to be proud of himself, for coming to terms with his feminine side, something that all men need to do, but which our patriarchal culture discourages.
Publishing his little prank, and then helping him deal with the social consequences, creates an opportunity to help him learn about the complexities of gender stereotyping, sexual orientation, and homophobia. These might seem like somewhat advanced topics for a thirteen-year-old to handle, but if he's already writing reviews of scholarly monographs in the social sciences no doubt he's unusually mature for his age.
Most of all, outing your son as"maryrosh" will give him an unforgettable lesson in honesty, a very important virtue.
At the very least, this is pretty callous behavior on Lott's part. Since he's also likely lying, it certainly should raise enormous questions on the part of his defenders, right?
Posted by Tom at 7:58 p.m. CST
Okay, I'll stick my little toe in the water and begin blogging again in"normal" mode -- although this may be it for the day. As always, we'll see.
I'm blogging with a heavy heart but there is at least one other story I should pass along today. I pondered whether I should do it. I decided to do so.
Posted by Tom at 6:30 p.m. CST
If I hear one more person in the media comment or speculate on the impact this tragedy is going to have on the timetable for W's war with Iraq, I'm going to scream!
Our media have become such scribes for this administration that they continue to be whores for them and spin for them even on a day when the administration -- showing a rare bit of common sense -- has stopped talking about the Iraq war out of respect for the astronauts and their families.
If you ever wanted evidence of the moral bankruptcy of our media, this has got to be about as good as you'll find.
Of course, this wretchedness is more than matched by our good Mr. Instapundit who is using this tragic event to attack his political enemies (both real and imagined).
Pretty tacky, huh?
Posted by Tom at 1:11 p.m. CST
The shuttle has apparently exploded over central and southeast Texas. I've driven through that part of Texas many times in my life -- a couple of times per year on average -- going to see relatives in Houston.
In fact, we often ate lunch on the way down in Nacogdoches, where it appears much of the debris has fallen. My uncle works for NASA (he has since the 1960s) and I'm sure he's sick about now.
It's an awfully sad day. I still remember vividly the day Challenger exploded when I was in high school.
I don't know how much more blogging there will be today.
Posted by Tom at 11:16 a.m. CST
NASA lost contact with shuttle Columbia 15 minutes before its scheduled landing in Florida. CNN is showing film from the Dallas-Fort Worth area that looks pretty bad.
I really hope this isn't what it looks like -- but it probably is.
Posted by Tom at 9:11 a.m. CST
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- Judith Kelleher Schafer, 72, a historian of slavery and prostitution, dies
- Northwestern celebrates Garry Wills with a book in his honor
- Conservatives go after UCLA's historian James Gelvin
- Laura Hillenbrand writes her masterpieces despite suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- New PBS DVD From Henry Louis Gates Jr. Explores African Influence on the Caribbean