Spencer Blog Archives 4-03

Spencer Blog Archives

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what are W and the boys hiding?

It's obviously bad enough they think it will jeopardize their chances at re-election, right?

To review, I wrote about this almost a year ago.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:37 p.m. CDT


Here's this week's Gene Lyons column!

Chanting the Party Line

Hey kids, want to be first on your block to chant the GOP party line? Don't sit waiting for the local newspaper to arrive, read the Republican National Committee's"Weekly Team Leader," peruse GOPUSA.com, or check out the Weekly Standard. It doesn't matter which options you choose, because they all say the same things. Over and over and over.

From the standpoint of Democrats, the most impressive aspect of the Republican spin and smear machine, perfected during the Clinton years, is its unanimity. Liberal pundits simply aren't as gifted at groupthink. They're too busy bickering and riding their individual hobbyhorses for the kind of coordinated effort favored by the GOP.

Conservative culture warriors conduct political debate like a corporate ad campaign. They're always on-message: same targets, same smarmy techniques. It's political journalism, Enron style. (They're also better paid. Democrats, alas, have no wacky tycoons to match Rev. Moon, Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon-Scaife.)

Especially during wartime, political propaganda descends to the pro-wrestling level. They didn't think so under Bill Clinton, but because our glorious leader symbolizes the nation, questioning President Junior's sublime wisdom has become ipso facto anti-American. Like the sheep in Orwell's Animal Farm, true believers make up the majority of every strongman's chanting mob--from Julius Caesar to Saddam Hussein.

That doesn't make Bush a dictator. But right-wing pundits like Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly aren't stupid. They know exactly what they're doing when they argue that Iraq war opponents hate Bush, and therefore hate America."[T]he real agenda of conservative media's overbearing pundits," editorializes Salon"is to drive everyone who disagrees with them out of the public arena. They're not interested in open debate; their goal is to intimidate and silence."

Mostly, they don't want anybody paying attention to stories like last week's admission to ABC News by Bush administration"senior officials" that they exaggerated the threat from Saddam's"weapons of mass destruction" to sell the public on a war whose real purpose was to"flex muscle" in the Middle East."We were not lying," said one official."But it was just a matter of emphasis."

I've always assumed that Saddam had chemical weapons left over from his days as a U.S. client, when the Pentagon helped him target Iranian troops. Having researched the subject when the Reagan administration proposed manufacturing nerve gas at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, I figured Saddam wouldn't risk annihilation by using it against a nuclear-armed foe. It's also too bulky and too easily detected to export for terrorism; a deadly anachronism useful only for genocide.

Both Bush and Colin Powell, however, presented detailed lists of forbidden Iraqi arms. They claimed that Saddam was hiding tons of VX, and thousands of artillery shells and missiles. They said he had 18 mobile bio-war labs, and huge stores of anthrax. They hinted that U.N. weapons inspectors were incompetent or worse. Bush told the American people that not to strike Iraq first would be"suicide." But U.S. officials still haven't found Iraqi weapons either. Now they hint they were mainly blowing smoke.

So who do Democrat-Gazette editors, following upon a wildly inaccurate report on the GOPUSA website, think we should be angry with? Why Bill Clinton, of course, who, we're told, delivered an"anti-war rant" and made"Saddam Hussein out to be just your ordinary reasonable dictator" in New York on April 15. Through the dark art of selective quotation, the editorial ignored Clinton's explicit praise for Bush's handling of the war."Saddam's gone," Clinton said"and good riddance."

The outcome of the war, Clinton added, was never in doubt."I would like to say something nice," he said."I think the President and Secretary Rumsfeld and our military really did the right thing in taking another week to ten days to conclude this because they were able to save thousands and thousands of civilian lives and if we're going to, in effect, occupy Iraq we want to do [it] with the least cost of lives on both sides."

Even if no weapons of mass destruction are found, Clinton added"I don't think you can criticize the President for trying to act on the belief that they had a substantial amount of chemical and biological stocks, because that's what the British military intelligence said....That's what I was always told, and I can just tell you that if you're sitting there in the Oval Office, it is just irresponsible to say, 'I've just got a feeling you're all wrong.'"

So what drew conservative ire? Clinton still thinks the U.N. Security Council could have been brought around, and expressed hope Bush would be magnanimous toward reluctant allies, whose help we're going to need down the road. In the Manichean world of conservative punditry, that all but makes him a traitor.

Posted by Tom at 3:38 p.m. CDT


Paul Krugman's column from yesterday notes the pattern of misinformation by the administration to sell the war and later to claim we'd found WMDs:

One wonders whether most of the public will ever learn that the original case for war has turned out to be false. In fact, my guess is that most Americans believe that we have found W.M.D.'s. Each potential find gets blaring coverage on TV; how many people catch the later announcement — if it is ever announced — that it was a false alarm? It's a pattern of misinformation that recapitulates the way the war was sold in the first place. Each administration charge against Iraq received prominent coverage; the subsequent debunking did not.

Did the news media feel that it was unpatriotic to question the administration's credibility? Some strange things certainly happened. For example, in September Mr. Bush cited an International Atomic Energy Agency report that he said showed that Saddam was only months from having nuclear weapons."I don't know what more evidence we need," he said. In fact, the report said no such thing — and for a few hours the lead story on MSNBC's Web site bore the headline"White House: Bush Misstated Report on Iraq." Then the story vanished — not just from the top of the page, but from the site.

Thanks to this pattern of loud assertions and muted or suppressed retractions, the American public probably believes that we went to war to avert an immediate threat — just as it believes that Saddam had something to do with Sept. 11.

Now it's true that the war removed an evil tyrant. But a democracy's decisions, right or wrong, are supposed to take place with the informed consent of its citizens. That didn't happen this time. And we are a democracy — aren't we?

This pattern has been repeated so many times that it can't be accidental. The pack of lies that Colin Powell presented at the U.N. that was almost entirely debunked within a week of the presentation is but one example, there are numerous others.

This is more than" crying wolf" folks -- it's a conscious effort by the administration to mislead us, time and time again. It also demonstrates a major failure by our pathetic flag-waving corporate media as well. Like a large number of Americans, the folks in the media have an astonishingly short attention span.

Less polished people (righties would call them unpatriotic I'm sure) might call this what it truly is -- lying.

Posted by Tom at 2:50 p.m. CDT


Jim Capozzolla is done with The New Republic[an]. I'll pile on as well. I think most folks who have any sort of fair bone in their body these days can recognize a bunch of right-wing hacks when they see them. The TNR is no longer worth the paper it's printed on I'm afraid.

Oh yeah, Jim would also like to know if you've heard about Ashleigh Moore?

Posted by Tom at 1:33 p.m. CDT


Kevin has a post today that is a perfect example of why there is great value in reading blogs. Here's a bit of it:

My view is that a progressive tax system is best, for reasons of basic equity and fairness. Why? I'll leave that for another post, but for now I just wanted to make a point that often gets hijacked by lengthy discussions of economic minutiae: in reality, tax rates are a reflection of what we value in a civil, democratic society. That's what the argument should be about, and we shouldn't allow partisans — either conservative or liberal — to avoid the subject by pretending that their proposals are nothing more than neutral arguments about economic growth. It's just smoke and mirrors to take our minds off what's really important, and we shouldn't let them get away with it.
This is a point that is always missed by our media. We should be talking about WHAT we're getting for our tax money and what we're spending it on. Both parties have been playing the"economic growth" card for too long.

This is a discussion that is long overdue in Washington.

Posted by Tom at 10:53 a.m. CDT

FINALS DAY 04-30-03

I've got finals for three of my four classes today. I gave one to my night class last week. I'll still blog but I certainly won't put up twelve posts like I did yesterday!

It'll take me a couple of days to grade the papers but I'll still blog of course. It breaks the monotony after all.

Posted by Tom at 9:17 a.m. CDT


Ah, the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration and the Republican congress -- the government could default on its debt in May. And they're proposing new tax cuts, right?

Impressive, eh?

Posted by Tom at 8:43 a.m. CDT


This time, fortunately, only two protesters were killed.

This occupation thing sure is going well, isn't it?

I hope we don't average a Kent State per day but it's looking likely at this point.

Posted by Tom at 8:28 a.m. CDT


Kos and his wife are incubating a new Democrat!

That's wonderful news Kos!

Posted by Tom at 10:01 p.m. CDT


You know sometimes you hear these crazy things they say and do in Washington and you think"what a bunch of morons. How stupid can they be?" But you really do need to remember these folks in Washington are the first stringers, the third and fourth string intellects are sitting in the state legislatures -- especially now that term limits have removed all the people who had any idea how the state lawmaking and budgeting process is supposed to work.

My father was telling me the story this weekend about a female representative of a state workers' union in Arkansas that was trying patiently to explain to a relatively new legislator that with these budget cuts"they" were going to start shutting down offices and laying off people soon." The legislator's response? Something along the lines of"surely, they won't do that." This genius apparently had no idea the"they" she was talking about was the legislature -- the"they" was actually him.

Well things are no better here in Missouri. Keep in mind the budget situation in Missouri is so grave that the folks in the House decided to show great courage and delegate their power to the Senate try to solve it -- and they still haven't solved it even though they did that weeks ago. Buried in the middle of this article about the bleak reality that is the budget situation here in Missouri is this plan to generate revenue for the state:

Republicans legislators want to

Generat[e} $5 million by imposing a 5 percent tax on adult entertainment. The tax would apply to sales of sexually explicit material and services, such as live nude performances and actual or simulated sex acts.


The adult entertainment tax would apply to fees for bestiality, masturbation and sadistic or masochistic abuse. Sen. Sarah Steelman, a Rolla Republican, distributed a proposed amendment to add lap dances to the services that would be taxed.

My friends and I have been talking about this one all day. Isn't bestiality and sadistic or masochistic abuse already against the law? How can these folks tax people for doing something that's against the law anyway? If you're going to tax it, it should be legal, right?

But here's the big thing, it appears, according to this, that I'm going to be taxed if I masturbate! Holy moly! How's that for invasive government? I mean, heck, how are they going to find out?

This certainly gives a new meaning to"self-reporting," doesn't it?

"Sorry kids. No Christmas presents this year. Mommy and Daddy sort of blew too much money, um, frivolously."

Okay, okay, I know that I'm being a smart aleck here and this tax is only meant to apply to folks at adult entertainment establishments who perform such services but, wait, aren't such services illegal too? I thought charging for sex or masturbation was illegal?

So somebody's going to have to explain to me why Republicans think they can gain revenue from taxing acts that are supposed to be illegal activities in the first place. Are they suggesting that perhaps these acts should be legal and then we should tax them?

I'm just not following the logic here.

Someone's clearly going to have to explain this one to me.

Any takers?

This blog entry also posted on the Political State Report.

Posted by Tom at 9:17 p.m. CDT


This column asks all the right questions about the just-completed IraqWar Part II. Here's a bit of it:

We Americans have always had a penchant for creative self-delusion. We chafe, for example, at corruption in government, yet routinely reelect the scoundrels who perpetrate it. We demand both services and cuts in the taxes that pay for them.

But it seems the agony of Sept. 11 has pushed us into an altogether new realm, where we don't even care if our rhetoric makes sense, as long as we're led to a feel-good conclusion. The joy of kicking butt obliterates the need to make an honest case for war.

Wasn't it just four years ago -- I reminded my acquaintance -- that a roiling posse of critics piously preached how utterly unacceptable it was for a president to be excused even for a piddling lie that had absolutely no impact on the lives of any non-Beltway American? Bill Clinton was impeached -- impeached! -- for not admitting an intern had performed a sex act on him in the Oval Office.

Now there is plausible doubt that George Bush and Colin Powell were telling us the whole truth when they pronounced, not as a possibility but a fact, that Hussein had these terrible weapons and could at any moment instigate a terrible strike on America.

Bush dismissed the efforts of chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, whose teams searched for evidence of the chemical and biological weapons that Hussein allegedly possessed, and found nothing. We must go to war anyway, Bush told us, because Hussein refuses to disarm.

Well, where is it all?

Our troops swept across Iraq in three weeks and secured oil wells within hours. Didn't we have a priority list of potential weapons depots to seize and secure? Did we even know where to start looking?

Now the administration is all but giving up the search, saying it hopes Iraqi informants will eventually lead us to the stuff. If we didn't know where it was, how did we know it was so grave a threat that war was essential?

Did Bush mislead us? Was the American public duped into supporting a war that killed 128 Americans, 31 Britons and thousands of Iraqis, damaged U.S. prestige around the world and may have worsened, rather than improved, U.S. security?

Oh, who cares -- we won the war!

At least Bush wasn't lying about sex in the Oval Office! We'd have impeached him for that.

And, hey, Bush wasn't under oath, as was Clinton -- although it would be nice to believe swearing honesty wouldn't be necessary when a president addresses the nation.

I don't regard my hawkish acquaintance as a hypocrite; for sure, his brutal honesty makes him a rare breed.

But we're heading for big trouble as a nation if we aren't even concerned that our heads of state may be manipulating us by manipulating the truth.

In a nation where hypocrisy is rewarded, expect more lies.

And from an administration that lies about everything, expect the lies to become more numerous and more outrageous as the next election approaches -- especially if the economy shows no signs of rebounding.

Posted by Tom at 7:36 p.m. CDT

THANKS! 04-29-03

Thanks folks -- I just had my 180,000th visitor via a link from Daily Kos. It's only been 8 days since I had my 170,000th visitor. I've also had a little over 265,000 hits since I installed my hit counter as well.

Considering that, like last week, I've been gone for a few days, I'm still quite happy with the site traffic. I should be here for a while now. No more traveling until the end of May probably -- and I may be able to blog on that trip.

As always, I do thank you for reading. I appreciate it greatly. I hope to give you a reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 4:14 p.m. CDT


has been offered a job by Arab television network Al-Arabiya.

That truly is priceless, isn't it?

Since this war was such a joke on numerous levels it makes perfect sense that the thing people may remember from it is this guy. I know one of my colleagues was very excited when he heard the news. He couldn't get enough of this guy.

Posted by Tom at 2:48 p.m. CDT

A LOTT OF POSTS 04-29-03

As I was hunting for a Lott post to link to from January, it occurred to me that I should go ahead and provide you with a list of posts in order as well. It's quite a walk down memory lane!

Anyway, here goes:

January posts: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

February posts: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

March posts: here and here. (The John Lott scandal was annoyingly interrupted by that immoral and unnecessary war in Iraq after all.)

April posts: here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here.

Goodness. I blogged a bit about this, didn't I?

Update: There also is an excellent article in Reason magazine by blogger Julian Sanchez about the Lott scandal as well. This won't be available online until next month. As soon as it is available, I will link to it.

Update 2:Here's the link to Julian's article.

Posted by Tom at 1:48 p.m. CDT


As usual, Tim Lambert's got the goods. Isn't it astounding that it takes an article by a couple of Glenn's friends to convince him that Lott might be full of it?

I also love the fact that, even after all this, Glenn is still carrying water for Lott. He published on his blog an e-mail from Lott that is clearly meant to serve as a distraction from the bigger problems exposed by Ayres's and Donohue's devastating article.

John Quiggin also has an excellent post on the subject too. Like me, Quiggin believes one of the not-so-innocent bystanders to be harmed by this scandal is Glenn himself:

But the biggest not-so-innocent bystander to be hit by friendly fire is surely the king of the blogworld, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Having cut his blogging teeth on the Bellesiles scandal (the discrediting of a widely-acclaimed piece of research seen as favorable to gun control), and having ferociously attacked those on the anti-gun side who failed to dissociate themselves from Bellesiles, Reynolds has consistently given Lott the benefit of the doubt, and has even, in a dispute between Lott and respected economist Steve Levitt, been implicated in Lott's slimy manoeuvres (again, see Tim Lambert for the complex and gory details). Clearly all that rhetoric about 'fact-checking your ass' only applies to those who come up with the wrong conclusions.

Boy, doesn't Quiggin's post sound a bit like this?

Update: I don't think I've mentioned this before but one of my readers who is also an economist writes in to remind me that Steve Levitt, whom Insty and Lott have been assaulting with great ferocity, just won the Clark Medal, a very prominent award for economists.

Posted by Tom at 1:01 p.m. CDT


over at the Daily Billboard.

Posted by Tom at 12:19 p.m. CDT


Hey, people are talking about teaching history in the blogosphere -- and I was out of pocket to talk about it at the time. What a drag!

Anyway, both CalPundit and Atrios posted this weekend about teaching history backwards -- and a few college professors have actually posted on the comment boards over at Atrios and CalPundit!

I have toyed with this idea and one of my colleagues tried it a couple of semesters ago. She said it was difficult and didn't work. She only tried it once. That doesn't mean it can't work but explaining causation becomes quite a problem I'm told.

My approach is to constantly try to draw connections to the present -- especially when the past is teaching us lessons we've happily decided to ignore. I also try to spend a fair amount of time on Cold War and post-Cold War history as well. I got a bit behind this semester but I always try to get to the present. However, I must admit that the post-1996 part of my course is still primarily composed of wisecracks.

I think my students do find the last week of class the most useful. I'll be teaching an upper-level course in U.S. Since 1945 next fall and I'm really looking forward to it!

Posted by Tom at 10:52 a.m. CDT

GREAT COLUMN BY... 04-29-03

Phil Carpenter here at HNN. Go give it a read -- right now.

And don't forget to read our other bloggers here at HNN either -- well four out of five of them anyway.

Posted by Tom at 9:39 a.m. CDT

SCARY STUFF 04-29-03

You really should read this.

Now you can't say that you weren't warned that the Ashcroftian police state has officially arrived.

Posted by Tom at 8:47 a.m. CDT


Great. Just great.

Regardless of the full story, look forward to a lot more stories like this folks.

So much for being welcomed as liberators, eh?

Update:Sigh. Among the victims are three boys under the age of eleven.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 a.m. CDT


Boy, get a load of this:

The White House made a number of recess appointments last week as Congress fled for spring break. One was April H. Foley, a"homemaker," according to campaign contribution disclosure documents, from South Salem, N.Y. She was named to the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank. The appointment is good until Congress adjourns next year.

So why a homemaker for this job? Well,"early in her career," the White House announcement says, she was director of business planning for corporate strategy with PepsiCo Inc. and director of strategy for Reader's Digest Association. More recently, she was president of the United Way of Northern Westchester County, N.Y. Not all of it, just the northern part.

Still not locked in on the merits? Did we mention she used to date George W. Bush when both were at Harvard Business School and has remained friends with him?

W is so devoid of scruples that he's even found a way to appoint the ex-girlfriend from grad school to a job in the administration for which, of course, it appears she's not the least bit qualified.

Sort of makes all that heavy-breathing by righties about what Clinton and Vernon Jordan did to help Monica find a job look rather silly in comparison, eh?

I wonder why W wants to reward an old flame with an appointment like that?

Can you imagine what the press would be saying if Clinton did this? They'd be camped out in front of her house and following her around. They'd probably be suggesting all sorts of nefarious things.

W and the boys never fail to disappoint with their brazen hypocrisy and cronyism, huh?

BTW, we apparently cried wolf on the chemical weapons once again. That's shocking, isn't it?

How many times have we done that now? Ten? Twelve?

Oh, that's true, I just remembered I'm being very critical in this post. I've gotten a couple of e-mails from some righty readers over the past few days fussing at me for my pointed comments about conservative hypocrisy.

You know it's astonishing for the same folks who believed Clinton was the devil himself and who said such horrible things about him and who believed and claimed such insane things to have the gall to fuss at me for making pointed comments about W and the boys. That's some pretty astonishing hypocrisy on their part, huh?

I think you can guess where e-mails like that end up -- and about how long I spend reading them.

I mean at least these weren't as bad as the grad student stalker from a major research university who, right after I started blogging, used to send me these horrible e-mails. I eventually had to block his address.

Anyway folks, I'm exhausted from the activities of the weekend and the 1500 miles I've driven over the last four days.

That's probably it for me today. I'll return to normal blogging tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 8:07 p.m. CDT


Boy I think it's safe to say that Wolfowitz is a bit touchy about the fact that he's winning war's with Clinton's military. Since W and the boys didn't really change much at all with regard to military funding and procurement, it is an accurate characterization to say that they're winning with Clinton's military.

Here's the exchange between Franken and Wolfowitz at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on this subject:

Franken: “Clinton’s military did pretty well in Iraq, huh?”

Wolfowitz: “Fuck you.”

Classy, eh?

I've still got 550 miles to drive today folks. I'll catch you later.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:57 a.m. CDT


I miss a couple of days and look what happens! Two scholars who should really know essentially call Lott a liar who cooks his figures! Holy Cow! If you want the short version, go to CalPundit's post here. If you want the longer version, go to Tim Lambert here.

I mean it's so bad that even Glenn has backed off defending Lott and, given Insty's honesty over the last couple of weeks regarding the Lott scandal, that should tell you plenty. I think Lott's days as a respected scholar are numbered folks. It appears he was just the fraud we thought he was.

I mean, heck, apparently he and Bellesiles are relatively close with regard to honesty. Lott was purposefully cooking his statistical models to make them produce results like he wanted them to -- so Lott cooks his models to get a result he knows isn't valid. Bellesiles made up his data to get a conclusion that he wanted. Both of them are apparently quite dishonest.

I think the folks at AEI should be watching this rather closely -- don't you?

Of course, since AEI still cuts paychecks to Charles Murray, I'm not sure they're exactly serious about this ethics stuff.

Stay tuned folks.

Posted by Tom at 7:28 p.m. CDT

G.T.T. 04-25-03

I'm headed off to Texas (Fort Worth to be exact) for a family wedding this weekend. There may be some blogging on Sunday night from my parent's house perhaps but it is a possibility that I won't be able to blog again until Monday night.

I do hope everyone has a good weekend.

Oh yeah, check out who is writing for the NY Press's billboard website these days.

They must let anyone do it I guess.

I'll see you folks either on Sunday or Monday.

Posted by Tom at 10:57 a.m. CDT

WHY NOT? 04-25-03

Krugman's column this morning is quite good. He talks about Gephardt's proposal for universal health care and asks the politically incorrect question: why not?

I especially like this paragraph which explains how full of it supply-siders have been over the last two decades:

So why should tax cuts take priority over health care? I know the party line: tax cuts for high earners are the key to economic growth, and a rising tide lifts all boats. But there's not a shred of evidence supporting that claim. More than two decades after the supply-siders launched their tax-cut crusade, ordinary workers have yet to see a rising tide. The median real wage is only 7 percent higher now than it was in 1979, with all of that increase achieved after Bill Clinton raised taxes for the top bracket.
So, like many things that conservatives believe, he finds there's no evidence to support it.

Why doesn't anybody point that out very often?

Posted by Tom at 10:45 a.m. CDT

YEAH, RIGHT 04-25-03

If you believe this cockamamie story from W, I've got some swamp land in Florida for you.

This statement from W is such a transparent load of b.s. They're trying to prepare us for the fact that we may not find WMDs -- or at least not the thousands claimed before the war by telling this lie. I want to remind you that this was the reason the administration gave us for going to war with Iraq. They made these assertions with no evidence (as I pointed out for months before the war started) and now they're trying to back away from their claims.

Are you as disgusted and offended as I am that W and the boys are trying to get away with this shuck-and-jive to avoid admitting they lied to us?

I really don't think they could go much lower, do you?

Well, I mean, at least until they're trying to make a case for the next war of course.

Posted by Tom at 10:11 a.m. CDT


Boy, I think it's safe to say that Newt may have finally dug himself a hole too deep to slither out of -- you really should read this story. He's managed to hack off many in the administration now. What a buffoon!

I especially like this part of the story:

"However, you do not have proof," he said."Your charges are spurious."

"As such, they will be consigned to the dust bin of history where they belong, along with that paper Senator Joseph R. McCarthy held up in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 9, 1950," Naland said.

He referred to an address in which the late anti-communist McCarthy -- whose name has become a synonym for witch hunt -- produced a document he said contained the names of 57 traitors who allegedly worked in the State Department.

A copy of Naland's letter was obtained by AFP shorly after the Portugese newspaper Publico published an interview with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Elizabeth Jones in which she blasted Gingrich for idiocy.

"Newt Gingrich does not speak in the name of the Pentagon (news - web sites) and what he said is garbage," Jones told the paper."What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that."

Now, why is Newtie still on the Richard Perle Get-Rich-Quick-Through-Cronyism Defense Policy Board?

Posted by Tom at 8:03 a.m. CDT

FINALLY! 04-24-03

Finally, somebody said something! The BBC Chief takes the U.S. television news media to task for its embarrassing performance during IraqWar Part II:

The head of the BBC launched a broadside against American broadcasters on Thursday, accusing them of"unquestioning" coverage of the Iraq war and blatant patriotism.

BBC Director General Greg Dyke said many U.S. television networks had lacked impartiality during the conflict and risked losing credibility if they persisted with their stance.

"Personally I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during this war," Dyke said in a speech at a University of London conference.

"If Iraq proved anything, it was that the BBC cannot afford to mix patriotism and journalism. This is happening in the United States and if it continues, will undermine the credibility of the U.S. electronic news media."

U.S. broadcasters came under attack for" cheerleading" during the Iraq conflict, with what some critics saw as gung-ho reporting and flag-waving patriotism. In one example, a U.S. network described U.S. soldiers as"heroes" and"liberators."

Dyke singled out Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, the most popular U.S. cable news network during the conflict, for its"gung-ho patriotism."

"We are still surprised when we see Fox News with such a committed political position," said Dyke.

"For the health of our democracy, it's vital we don't follow the path of many American networks."

Fox News declined to comment.

I'll bet!

I watched the BBC whenever I could on BBC America and on our PBS station. It was like I was watching another war or something! It was like I was watching our news networks twenty years ago with their careful reporting and the showing of the unpleasant realities of war.

Corporate ownership of the media has just destroyed television news in this country. The news divisions at the networks are shadows of their former selves and their performance in the war was just disgraceful and, if anything, the cable news channels were even worse! And, of course, the lapdogish flag-waving patriotism of the Faux News Channel was the worst of all of them. That channel wasn't reporting the news, it was disseminating pro-Bush administration propraganda!

I'm glad to finally hear someone who's in a position of expertise say something about it.

It's about time.

Posted by Tom at 7:30 p.m. CDT

IS... 04-24-03

John Derbyshire a living, breathing cartoon character or what? My goodness you really should read this irrational rant of his over at NRO.

Unfortunately, I've just recently had a run-in with a historian blogging colleague whose views I'm pretty sure are, shockingly, just this cartoonish but that's a story for another time -- if at all. We'll see.

[Link via Julian Sanchez]

Posted by Tom at 3:57 p.m. CDT


on W's election prospects this far out.

This guy really does tell it like it is:

Polling data collected during and after the fall of Baghdad suggest that the RNC shouldn’t let their political consultants go just yet. In the Pew Research Center poll, Bush’s approval rating stands at 72 percent, a slight decline from his 74 percent rating immediately after the fall of Baghdad. That indicates Bush’s rating has reached its peak and is now headed downwards. Note that his peak score is far below his father’s peak score of 89 percent, which was reached after the successful conclusion of the first Gulf war in 1991.


Moreover, the poll finds only a modest increase in the President’s “reelect number.” In mid-March, just before the outbreak of war, 45 percent in a Gallup poll said they would like to see Bush reelected, rather than have a Democrat win in 2004. That’s gone up only to 48 percent in the current Pew survey. Measured in a somewhat different way (“Would you vote to reelect Bush or vote against him?”), the Marist College poll has 40 percent today saying they would be sure to vote for Bush, compared to 36 percent in February who had that opinion.

So it hardly looks like a lock for George W. Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal article points out, some comparisons between Bush and his father make the son look even more vulnerable than his father was at a similar point in his presidency. First, there’s the difference in approval rating, already mentioned. Then there’s the difference in the jobs created figure (an anemic 1.3 million jobs created under father, a disastrous 2 million jobs lost under the son) and the performance of the Dow Jones (up 28.5 percent for the father, down 22.6 percent for the son).


It also appears that Bush’s approval rating on the economy already is starting to drop after a brief journey upwards during the Iraq war. The CBS/New York Times poll reports his rating in this area at 46 percent, down six points from his 52 percent rating in their March 24 survey. The Newsweek survey has it even lower, at 44 percent, with 46 percent disapproval. The Newsweek survey also reports unimpressive to poor approval ratings for Bush in every other domestic area: 50 percent on education, 47 percent on taxes, 47 percent on the environment, 43 percent on energy policy, and just 40 percent on health care (with 45 percent disapproval).

So, the idea that the successful conclusion of the Iraq war all but guarantees Bush’s reelection should not be taken seriously. With numbers like these, Bush is seriously vulnerable and a spirited Democratic candidacy has a very real shot at making him a one-term president. In short, stay tuned—it should be a very interesting and competitive 2004 election.

As I've said many times, W's re-election chances really do hang on the economy improving and there are no hopeful signs as of yet. I mean we've been told for about a year now that the economy is going to grow and it hasn't. And, just as in 1984, it will have to grow in spite of the policies of the administration in power.

Only time will tell.

Posted by Tom at 3:22 p.m. CDT


I love the Daily Show. I know I'm a little slow but here's Frank Rich's excellent article about it.

I especially like this sum-up paragraph:

"It's so interesting to me that people talk about late-night comedy being cynical," Mr. Stewart says."What's more cynical than forming an ideological news network like Fox and calling it `fair and balanced'? What we do, I almost think, is adorable in its idealism. It's quaint." He's not wrong. During this war, the notion of exercising cant-free speech on an American TV network, even a basic cable network, has proved to be idealistic, quaint and too often restricted to Comedy Central at 11 o'clock.
Absolutely. You know, the Daily Show does do a better job of presenting the news than Fox, eh?

Posted by Tom at 3:04 p.m. CDT


At one point, believe it or not, Richard Delgaudio even said Bill Clinton was"a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation's young people." I'm not even sure to call this guy a hypocrite even quite covers it.

Joe Conason has much more on this here.

Posted by Tom at 2:02 p.m. CDT


Oh, now this is good.

You must go see it.


Posted by Tom at 11:48 a.m. CDT

I THINK IT'S TIME TO... 04-24-03

dump the Apache, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 11:38 a.m. CDT


Have you ever wondered if Insty would post anything that a reader sent him, as long as it supported his point of view?

The answer, not surprisingly, is yes.

He posted an obviously fake e-mail from"reader Brendan Booher" about the NAS panel just because it backed up his point of view.

Impressive, huh?

Posted by Tom at 11:31 a.m. CDT


You should read this column by Richard Cohen of the WaPo about the Santorum affair. It's quite good.

I'm off to class number two! Watergate to the present in an hour and fifteen minutes today!

Posted by Tom at 9:26 a.m. CDT


You should read this column by Steve Pearlstein about the Bush taxplan in today's WaPo.

Here's just a little of it:

The rationale for this tax cut has changed almost as many times as the rationale for the war in Iraq. Although originally billed last fall as short-term economic stimulus, it was quickly evident that most of the benefits of the plan wouldn't kick in for two years or more. So administration officials shifted gears and tried to justify it on the basis of reforming the tax code and generating a higher level of long-term economic growth. But that defense was soon breached by the Congressional Budget Office, which concluded last month that the benefits to long-term growth are likely to be small, if they exist at all.

The justification for this tax cut is now so elusive it could be categorized as a faith-based initiative. The House, Senate and White House are each pushing packages of different size and composition in a desperate effort to salvage anything that can be characterized as a Republican victory.

And the cost of this victory? Only hundreds of billions of dollars added to the federal deficit.

Boy, Republicans don't even pretend to be fiscally responsible anymore, do they?

Go read the rest of the column.

Posted by Tom at 9:09 p.m. CDT


of hypocrisy by W's White House.

W and Rove apparently don't give a damn about anti-gay bigotry.

Isn't that a surprise?

So don't expect the press to give a damn about it either.

Posted by Tom at 3:49 p.m. CDT


Go read up on today's developments over at Tim Lambert's update website. The plot thickens. Insty and Dave Kopel are definitely getting slimed with regard to this scandal right now.

Kopel, co-author of this inaccurate smear piece in the NRO, has posted an entry on his blog that is just as inaccurate and dishonest as Insty's post yesterday (that I blogged about here) and, like Glenn, he refuses to link to any of the accurate and damning criticism in the blogosphere of their ethics.

Predictably, instead of doing the right thing and withdrawing the charge, Insty and Kopel continue to stick to their now largely discredited story.

Boy, what would they have said about academics who did something this ethically-challenged to bolster Bellesiles's reputation?

I think you know the answer.

Posted by Tom at 1:28 p.m. CDT


I haven't blogged at all about the idiocy of Rick Santorum's comments about gay folks yet. Sorry about that, I've been pretty busy. I have to say that Atrios and Daily Kos have got this issue covered quite well.

I can't say anything any better than they have. Go give them a read, especially this post by Atrios.

I will say that Santorum's obviously an absolute fool -- he has made a bigger ass of himself than Trent Lott back in December.

I'm also detecting the media sharks starting to swarm on this one. However, I really doubt it will go very far. After all, it was only anti-gay bigotry that Santorum was spouting and we all know big media doesn't give a damn about that.

Of course, ultimately it will depend on whether Karl Rove wants this embarrassing goober gone from the leadership as well. If you recall, it was Rove who ultimately brought Lott down. If Rove sees this as a great time to use Santorum's latest idiot eruption as a moment to pretend that today's Republicans aren't anti-gay (as he used the Trent Lott scandal to pretend that Republicans aren't anti-black), then maybe we'll hear more than a day or two about this.

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 12:30 p.m. CDT


Here's this week's great Gene Lyons column!

Made for TV

Sometimes it's hard to tell how many Americans understand the difference between TV and the three-dimensional world. Just before the Iraq war, polls showed almost 60 percent held Saddam Hussein responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks--a claim not even the president made, although Bush took pains to link Saddam's alleged"weapons of mass destruction" and the terrorist threat.

Most who opposed the war thought the connection specious or dishonest. Nasty SOB that he was or is, we thought Saddam could be deterred. To take him down by force, we feared, would burden the U.S. with its own West Bank, embittered, humiliated, and seething with ethnic and religious hatreds which Saddam's tyranny kept in check. It would also be expensive, with American taxpayers paying first to blow Iraq to smithereens, then footing the bill for Halliburton, Bechtel and President Junior's other corporate chums to rebuild it.

Never mind the human toll; we are all geo-political strategists now. Crocodile tears aside, few GOP triumphalists exchanging high-fives over defeating a Third World nation with military resources amounting to roughly 1/2 of one percent of the U.S. defense budget appear terribly concerned about the dead and maimed on either side. The Pentagon has no plans to enumerate Iraqi casualties, military or civilian. The phrase"many thousands" is, as they say, close enough for government work.

Reporting on a 12-year old Iraqi boy, orphaned by a U.S. bomb and hospitalized with both arms blown off, a CNN correspondent actually asked if he understood the purposes of"Operation Iraqi Freedom." A Kuwaiti doctor tactfully responded that Ali Hamza had suffered"psychological trauma" and had no political views.

Another aspect of GOP triumphalism is hunting domestic heretics. Try to believe that the following sentences appeared in the lead to a New York Times thumb sucker entitled"Dilemma's Definition: The Left and Iraq" by one David Carr:"This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush."

Evidently, Carr is not a sports fan, or he'd have understood the concept of, say, cheering for the Arkansas Razorbacks while also thinking they need a new coach. [ed. note: Or, from personal experience, I can remember cheering for the Indiana Hoosiers with Bobby Knight as coach.] Nowhere did he show a particle of evidence that any of the pundits named--David Remnick and Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, Eric Alterman of The Nation, Michael Kinsley of Slate, and Joan Walsh of Salon--hoped for defeat, predicted it, or had any sympathy whatever for Saddam. Kinsley, indeed, had written that"[n]o sane person doubted" that the U.S. would defeat Iraq. Carr's article was the journalistic equivalent of the sheep in Orwell's Animal Farm, eagerly chanting"Four legs good, two legs bad" to drown out criticism of Comrade Napoleon, the head pig.

So here we are scant days after the unexpectedly sudden fall of Baghdad--so mercifully abrupt that the Arab press is speculating that Republican Guard generals were bribed to take a powder. A tactical masterstroke, if so. Electrical power and sanitary water supplies have yet to be restored across most of Iraq. If looting has died down it's because there's nothing left to steal from plundered government ministries, presidential palaces, even hospitals.

The National Museum of Iraq, repository of one of the world's great archeological collections, lies in ruins--10,000 years of history vanished. The smoke still rises from the National Library, and the Ministry of Religious Endowment. Ancient master-works of calligraphy from"The Arabian Nights" to Korans that survived the Mongol conquest of 1258, have been burnt. Archeologists and historians begged the Pentagon months ago to protect these treasures. But as the retired generals now mocked for criticizing Rummy's battle plans argued, the U.S. lacked sufficient forces for the job. Never fear, however, the Oil Ministry was well-guarded.

Meanwhile, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Somewhat belatedly, administration stalwarts are reportedly losing faith in intelligence reports. Kurds have taken to forcibly expelling Arabs from northern Iraq; U.S. troops have shot civilian protesters in Mosul; Sunnis and Shiites staged mass marches in Baghdad demanding an American pullout; Iraqi cops derisively known as"Ali Babas," (as in"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves") have been put back on the street out of necessity; and hundreds of thousands of Shiites have embarked upon a peaceful, but potentially destabilizing religious pilgrimage.

Amid the chaos and uncertainty, an April 17 ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed that 73 percent of Americans now fear that the U.S. will get"bogged down in a long and costly" mission in Iraq. Did they think it was a made-for-TV movie? Next came the most unsettling headline of all:"Officials Argue for Fast U.S. Exit From Iraq." The Washington Post quoted"senior administration officials" hinting at an American pullout in"a matter of months."

Are they out of their minds?

Out of their minds indeed.

Posted by Tom at 12:03 p.m. CDT


from Roger Ailes (whose permalinks still aren't working!) to a couple of guys who have apprently forgotten how to behave like grown-ups.

First, Roger suggests that Jonah Goldberg of the National Review should stop whining about how he was so intrumental in pushing a juvenile joke from the Simpsons about the French.

Second, Roger correctly believes that Boston Globe reporter Jules Crittenden shouldn't have given in to peer pressure. Stealing art from Iraq, huh? Why? Because everyone else was doing it? Impressive. What's next, smoking pot while your parents are out?

Kids, er, I mean"adults" these days!

Update: And, of course, you knew the Faux News folks would be leading the way when it came to this sort of criminality, didn't you?

Posted by Tom at 10:46 a.m. CDT


Hesiod points us to this story about Shia clerics in Iraq threatening to start a civil war in Iraq.

Like Hesiod, I'd like to create some easy way to say"I told you so" as well.

Hopefully, of course, this won't happen but, if it does, don't act surprised. Many critics of the war warned of this possibility for months before we started it.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 a.m. CDT


You should go read Eric Alterman's Nationcolumn this week. It's quite good. Here's the"money quote":

This is an eerie moment in American political history. George W. Bush was defeated in the popular vote by his more liberal opponent but rules from the most extreme wing of his party. He campaigned as a fiscal conservative but has pushed tax cuts that will create a deficit larger than any in US history. As a candidate, he articulated the need for a"humble" foreign policy but now conducts it with a degree of hubris that makes Lyndon Johnson look like the Dalai Lama. His hypocrisy, in other words, is so great as to be almost unfathomable, and yet he has somehow managed to convince the media to admire him for his"moral clarity."

Thanks to Bush & Co., America is hated the world over as never before. Deficits are exploding, unemployment remains high, the stock market is still in the tank and interest rates are poised to take off. The country is headed to hell in a handbasket from so many directions one can barely keep track. And yet the increasingly Foxified media tell a story only of heroism: of the US military, of the American people and of the President of the United States, who has so far managed to avoid service to either one.


Posted by Tom at 7:02 p.m. CDT

GO READ... 04-22-03

Krugman's column today as he destroys the Bush administration's arguments for its latest bogus rich-get-richer / tax cut /"stimulus" plan. How about $500,000 per job? That sound like an okay cost to you? And, of course, you know it won't create anything close to the 1.4 million jobs they're claiming. Like every economic plan W proposes, it will do absolutely nothing for the economy -- but they'll claim all sorts of things. It's like they're serial liars who can't help themselves in the Bush White House.

We have to hope, like in 1984, that the economy improves all by itself because, once again, the Republicans aren't going to a damn thing to help it along.

Posted by Tom at 6:24 p.m. CDT


I'll bet you know the answer to that question, don't you?

However, you should go read this excellent Bob Scheer column anyway.

Posted by Tom at 4:34 p.m. CDT


Want to see a political campaign based around a 2-1 monetary advantage, a sickening and politically opportunistic using of the 9/11 commemoration, and, last but not least, the cynical McCarthyistic questioning of the patriotism of your political opponents?

All of this in order to distract Americans from the flaccid economy that has been untouched by your economic policies?

Welcome to the Republican plan for 2004.

BTW, there's still an excellent chance that they'll lose.

As I said yesterday, it all depends on the economy.

Posted by Tom at 12:55 p.m. CDT


Tim Lambert mentions today that

Glenn Reynolds finally gets around to blogging on the accusation in his article that Levitt is"rabidly antigun." Remarkably, Reynolds does not mention or link to any of the discussion about this that has occured on many blogs.
"Remarkably?" What, are you kidding me? This is Insty's standard operating procedure whenever someone accurately criticizes him, he just sweeps it under the rug by mischaracterizing what they said and then not providing a link so his readers can read it for themselves. It's his little power trip and it's pretty damned dishonest. He then will try to ignore this issue and never blog about it again. He's followed this procedure several times in the past few months.

This certainly proves just how petty and egotistical Glenn can be. I would never characterize what people are saying without providing links to them so my readers can verify what I'm talking about. It's a basic courtesy and part of being an honest blogger. Glenn, I'm afraid to say, is neither.

Of course, Glenn also has a lazy habit of taking his readers' word for what is contained in the articles he links to and, I believe, often links to them without reading them. I'm pretty sure the Martha Burk thing a while back was a perfect example of this laziness on his part.

If you want some more of Insty's greatest hits, go here. Here's a post of mine from about a month ago about Insty as well.

However, my favorite is still this one.

Posted by Tom at 12:14 p.m. CDT


You should read Atrios' NY Press column from yesterday -- here's a bit of it:

The truth is that Leung is a well-known Republican party activist and fundraiser. If any Gore-related investigations were compromised by her involvement with former FBI agent Smith, it is likely that any disinformation she provided was designed to hurt, and not to help, him. Years later, the media's desire to justify their overblown coverage of Gore fundraising irregularities leads them to spin any story against him. It stands in sharp contrast to their quiet coverage of numerous campaign finance illegalities, including donations from Chinese sources, of the '96 Dole presidential run, and the fact that the Federal Election Commission auditors had determined that the Dole campaign took in over twice as much in illegal contributions than did Clinton and Gore. Leung's and Smith's guilt or innocence has yet to be determined, however one would hope that the FBI would examine carefully to what extent—if any—information from them did distort their investigation of Gore.

Furthermore, any reporters who may have used either of them as a source may consider whether that slanted their coverage and they should make an effort to correct the public record where appropriate.

So, the SCLM still tries to connect Al Gore to anything dealing with the Chinese, even though Bob Dole's campaign took twice as much in illegal contributions!

Ah, that liberal bias in the media. It sure is embarrassing, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 11:18 a.m. CDT


How can anyone have confidence in something that was a lie in the first place?

I'm sorry, I just had to ask this question.

Posted by Tom at 7:50 a.m. CDT

today. It's quite good. I can't help but notice he echoes a little bit of what I said earlier today about conservative fiscal policy in his opening paragraph:

The great tactical success of the conservatives over the years has been to lower the bar so successfully that they can declare victory no matter how badly their policies turn out. (Remember supply-side economics?)
Eric also points us once again to an eerily prescient Onion article from, believe it or not, January of 2001 that I linked to several months ago. However, this article is always worth a second look -- especially given recent events.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 p.m. CDT

blocked W's irresponsible tax cut -- for now. These Republicans are acknowledging what I have said here for months. This tax plan will only cut taxes for the very rich and do absolutely nothing for the economy.

It will provide W a figleaf to cover himself when people accuse him of"doing nothing" for the economy but that's about it -- and increasingly everyone who knows anything about economics acknowledges that the program as it is currently designed is an absolute dud.

We'll see. I expect the White House to kill itself trying to put this self-designed albatross around their necks in the coming months. If the economy doesn't improve, W's tax plan will look like the biggest taxbill turkey since the 1980s.

Like Reagan, perhaps W will be saved by an economic turnaround that is completely unrelated to his economic policies.

Or maybe not.

Posted by Tom at 3:23 p.m. CDT

dropping out of blogging, I'm going to scream!

Jeff's blog was one of the first I read religiously when I started. I looked at Insty and realized that was not the guy I wanted to emulate.

I really liked Jeff's more intellectual and much more honest approach to blogging.

So please, folks, head on over and convince Jeff to keep it up!

Posted by Tom at 10:53 a.m. CDT

Daily Kos. I've also had more than 251,000 hits since I installed my hit counter last September 18th. With my absence last week, it's taken a bit longer than usual, 9 days in fact, to get to my next 10,000 visitor mark.

That's still not too bad, eh?

As always folks, I do appreciate it.

I hope to continue to give you reasons to come back.

Posted by Tom at 10:31 a.m. CDT

column from yesterday's Chicago Tribune about how the aftermath of the war has made the administration look like the liars we all thought they were:

The objections were twofold: that the war wasn't necessary to protect Americans, and that it would embroil us in a burdensome occupation. The president's chief rationale was that Saddam Hussein could not be allowed to build up an arsenal of unconventional weapons, since"the only possible use he could have for those weapons is to dominate, intimidate or attack."

So far, those 30,000 chemical weapons Bush told us about have yet to be found. Most likely some will turn up, but their discovery would only deepen a mystery: why Saddam Hussein didn't use them. His failure to do so even in a defensive effort does not exactly support the belief that he planned to use them for aggression.

The rapid disintegration of his fighting forces, likewise, doesn't confirm the case for war; it undermines it. We were told that if he acquired the Bomb, he would promptly invade nearby countries, knowing we wouldn't risk nuclear war to save Kuwait. But it should have been clear--OK, I'll admit, it was clear to some of us--that his army was too depleted to be a threat to his neighbors.

One fear of war opponents was that Hussein would unleash smallpox or anthrax on American soil, which apparently he didn't. Why not? I'm not sure. Maybe hawks can explain this show of restraint by a dangerous madman who would stop at nothing.

An even greater fear was that in the chaos of the war, Iraqi officers would sell their nastiest weapons to terrorists. In that, I confess, I may have been too willing to believe the administration's claims that Iraq had vast stores of chemical and biological agents. But if those weapons exist and some of them find their way into the black market, it could be a while before we find out.

What Bush's critics stressed all along was that the biggest challenge would not be winning the war but managing the aftermath. The perils of occupation have arrived ahead of schedule. So far, we've had rampant looting, fighting between rival groups in Tikrit, ethnic cleansing in the Kurdish north, and anti-American violence in Mosul. I don't remember conservatives telling us about those in advance.

I think this sums up how the administration's credibility has been severely damaged by the pack of lies they told to convince the American people and the world that this war was necessary. The war's aftermath has proven none of the administration's major arguments credible so far.

Americans may not care now but eventually they will. At some point Americans are going to realize that this is an administration that will say or do anything to get what it wants. Clinton's folks really are looking like virtual saints in comparison. After all, they didn't cook the fiscal books or tell a pack of lies to start a war.

In fact, I suspect historians will eventually tell us that, regardless of the tarring the Republicans gave him during the 1990s, Clinton's administration was actually the most truthful of the last half-century, even including all the lies Clinton told about the Lewinsky affair.

I mean, hell, at least Clinton wasn't telling lies to protect military aid for murderous regimes that were killing tens of thousands of their own people in El Salvador and Guatemala like Reagan did -- and that's just one notable example of many during the Reagan administration.

Like Clinton, Reagan eventually told lies in public to try to save his skin during the Iran-Contra investigation. However, unlike Clinton's administration, several folks in his administration willfully obstructed the investigation. It wasn't just a couple of white lies to conceal an extramarital affair in the Iran-Contra scandal folks. It was serial lying by several people about very serious things. A rather large number of folks went to jail during Reagan's administration for all manner of scandals.

But I digress. As I've said many times, the sad thing is that if the economy improves the average isn't going to give a damn about any of this -- they'll vote for W in 2004. Like Bill Bennett a few years ago, liberals will be saying"Where's the outrage?" And, in this case, the lies being ignored will be much larger -- just like those ignored in 1984 when Americans pulled the lever for Reagan because the economy was recovering.

However, if the economy continues to falter, Americans will increasingly notice that this administration's economic policy has done nothing positive at all except recycle Hoover's"prosperity is just around the corner" rhetoric and wait for a recovery that may or may not come before 2004.

It's at that hypothetical point that many Americans may suddenly realize that this administration has a major problem in telling the truth about anything and, if this scenario comes to pass, the case for war with Iraq may very likely be Exhibit A.

But, as I'm sure you know, only time will tell which scenario will play out.

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 9:23 a.m. CDT

Here's a story that proves to the average Iraqi that we don't mean to change much -- at least in the short term. We've put Saddam's hated police back on the streets to keep order in Baghdad.

This exposes the hypocrisy and lies used to sell this war, doesn't it? We pretended this invasion would lead to some transformative change for the average Iraqi immediately. However, the first thing we do is put Saddam's sleazebag police back on the streets.

Gee, I hope we're not surprised at how the average Iraqi doesn't exactly warm up to us immediately. I mean, heck, they've seen things deteriorate and we've put the same psychopaths in charge of keeping order.


Speaking of Easter, I do hope everyone had a happy one. It's been a busy Easter for me so, obviously, I haven't been able to blog much.

I'll see you folks tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 7:42 p.m. CDT

Back to Iraq 2.0. Chris is a journalist who is blogging directly from Iraq. Today's entry should acquaint you with the attitudes of ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad toward Americans.

It's not pretty folks.

As I've said many times, winning the war was the easy part.

Posted by Tom at 4:15 p.m. CDT

Soundbitten and Julian Sanchez's blog, Notes from the Lounge.

Go read both of them! They're both great blogs!

Posted by Tom at 3:08 p.m. CDT

SEZ 04-19-03

No, I don't think that someone who engaged in Bellesiles' extensive pattern of fabrication and misquotation could get away with it in a typical law review. Law reviews check statements against footnotes to ensure that the sources cited in the footnotes actually say what the article claims they do. This isn't perfect -- nothing is -- but my experience is that it tends more often to be excruciatingly exact than sloppy.
Right -- and we now know how"excruciatingly exact" Glenn was in this NRO article, don't we?

I'm actually becoming embarrassed for Glenn as more time passes and he won't admit this article was sloppily researched and purposefully misleading.

If you've visited Tim's site, you also know Glenn is now saying clearly inaccurate (some might even say misleading) things about just what it was he said on his blog about this panel in the weeks before the NRO article was published.


Update:Greg Beato and Roger Ailes (permalinks not working, scroll down) have more.

Posted by Tom at 2:15 p.m. CDT

Tim Lambert's update website for the latest on the John Lott scandal.

If you recall, I blogged about Glenn Reynolds' conduct just before I left here and here. Insty is really taking water on this one -- as well he should.

I think many people are beginning to realize Glenn's -- I'm shocked -- a blogospheric demagogue or something.

Perish the thought.

Posted by Tom at 12:43 p.m. CDT

this interesting story about former intelligence officials who think we should be thoroughly embarrassed by the lies about WMDs W and the boys told to get us into this war.

And, you know, it's been so long since the war started now that most of the world is going to believe that anything that is found was planted by us. So, we've lost the battle for world opinion on WMDs folks and we've truly become what we despised. The rest of the world sees our president and his administration as a group of liars who will say anything to get what they want.

Isn't that special?

I do think Bill Clinton hit the nail on the head last Tuesday:

"Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us," said Clinton, who spoke at a seminar of governance organized by Conference Board.

"And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."

We really do have foreign policy by the three stooges in this administration, don't we?

You also ought to read this editorial from the Indiana Statesman (Indiana State University's student newspaper) about W, Dick Cheney and Ashcroft's police state vision of America. It's quite good. I especially like this last part:

If we could keep the criminals we know are guilty from having lawyers, we could convict more of them.

We could end crime as we know it and protect ourselves from every form of terrorism. But you know what? That's not America. The Soviet Union maybe, or China. Cuba. Not America. And if that's the America the Bush administration wants -- if that's the America that men and women are dying for in Iraq -- I don't want it. That's not what this country was ever supposed to be: a nation run by oligarchs who impose their will on people that they brainwash into believing oppression is essential for safety.

If the Bill of Rights is only good when things are going well, let's scrap it and stop deluding ourselves. The power the government is giving itself now will be damned hard to wrest out of its hands when the smoke finally clears. And when we're done hunting down Muslims and Arabs, these laws can just as easily be used on Christians and Anglos. Wake up, America. You want to be safe, but at what cost? Do you want to have a free republic or just a burned-out stump of emptiness where that free republic used to be?

Perhaps the language here is a bit over the top, but I honestly worry about where we're headed as a nation. Heck, W and the boys have discovered they can tell lie after lie and get us into a war and Americans don't bat an eye.

How long before W, Dick Cheney, and Ashcroft decide that Patriot Act II really is too good to pass up?

How long indeed.

Posted by Tom at 11:52 a.m. CDT

Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference. I'm looking forward to it.

Here's the program for the first day of the conference. My paper is at 5:00 tomorrow.

There probably won't be any blogging until Saturday folks! I'll see you then.

Posted by Tom at 10:48 p.m. CDT

Here's Gene Lyons' column for the week:

Republican Patriot Police Protect Bush from Critics

First, the Patriot Police came for the Dixie Chicks, and I said nothing because I'm fed up with the predigested mush that passes for country music these days. I wouldn't include the Chicks in that category, but flag-waving deejays and war-loving singers in cowboy hats strike me as an enormous bore. At a Texas rodeo recently, somebody remained seated when the loudspeaker played Lee Greenwood's cornball ballad"Proud to Be an American." The man said he didn't have to stand for no damn country song, and fisticuffs ensued.

So Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines ought to have known she was asking for trouble by telling a London audience,"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." After all, she grew up in Lubbock. Even after a carefully-orchestrated uproar broke out--radio stations dropped the Chicks from their playlist and held CD-smashing rallies after an e-mail and telephone campaign reportedly originating with the Republican National Committee--Maines briefly hung in there."[O]ne of the privileges of being an American," she said"is you are free to voice your own point of view."

Not if you want your songs on the radio, sweetheart. With the music business, like the news business, increasingly dominated by huge corporations such as Clear Channel Communications, the San Antonio giant that owns 1200 stations, uses its muscle to manage and promote concert tours, stages pro-war rallies, and has direct political ties to President Junior, artists exercise those rights at their peril. Within days, the Chicks were back in harness.

"As a concerned American citizen," Maines said"I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."

The satirical website thespeciousreport.com finished the statement for her."I'm just a young girl who grew up in Texas," they wrote."As far back as I can remember, I heard people say they were ashamed of President Clinton. I saw bumper stickers calling him everything from a pothead to a murderer. I heard people on the radio and TV...bad mouthing the President and ridiculing his wife and daughter at every opportunity. I heard LOTS of people disrespecting the President. So I guess I just assumed it was acceptable behavior."

Next the Patriot Police came for a CBS TV producer who spoke too frankly about his forthcoming miniseries"Hitler: The Rise of Evil," and I didn't say anything because hyperbolic analogies to Hitler are a dime a dozen. People making them deserve to lose the argument. According to the Washington Post, Ed Gernon told TV Guide that"fear fueled both the Bush administration's adoption of a preemptive-strike policy and the public's acceptance of it....Gernon said a similar fearfulness in a devastated post-World War I Germany was 'absolutely' behind that nation's acceptance of Hitler's extremism."

Both TV Guide and the New York Post, which made a big issue of Gernon's remark, are owned by right-wing Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch. CBS abruptly fired the veteran producer before too loud a clamor arose.

Next the Patriot Police came after actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, and I was tempted to keep quiet because Sarandon inexplicably sets my teeth on edge. Her presence almost ruined Bull Durham for me, an otherwise near-perfect baseball movie. Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey launched a pre-emptive strike on free speech because he feared what the outspoken couple might say at a scheduled 15th anniversary celebration of the popular film at Cooperstown later this month. Instead, Petroskey cancelled the event.

A one-time press flack for President Reagan and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Petroskey informed Robbins that criticizing Junior was tantamount to treason."We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important--and sensitive--time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our president and our troops in this conflict."

Robbins responded with appropriate anger."To suggest that my criticism of the President put the troops in danger is absurd," he wrote in an open letter to Petroskey."I had been unaware, that baseball is a Republican sport....You invoke patriotism and use words like freedom in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In doing so, you dishonor the words patriotism and freedom and dishonor the men and women who have fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can freely express their opinion without fear of reprisal or punishment."

Like most serious fans, Robbins regards baseball as an oasis beyond politics, and said he'd had no intention of dragging Bush into it. Alas, to the GOP Patriot Police, there's no such thing. Major League Baseball quickly disassociated itself from Petroskey's action. Former Texas Rangers"owner" George W. Bush should too, unless the right to criticize him isn't among the freedoms he values.

Posted by Tom at 6:19 p.m. CDT

story raises the obvious question: How many other things have we been told by military and government officials that are going to turn to have been exaggerated? I'm wondering if half of what we've been told about this war so far will turn out to be true.

I mean, heck, there apparently wasn't even an uprising in Basra for example.

[Last link via Hesiod]

Posted by Tom at 4:43 p.m. CDT

article about Jay Garner, the new military governor of Iraq.

Here's a selection:

But Lt. Gen. Jay Garner insisted that American-style democracy could sprout on the shards of President Saddam Hussein's government."I don't think they had a love-in when they had Philadelphia" in 1787, he said in an interview here before his departure."Anytime you start the process it's fraught with dialogue, tensions, coercion, and should be." Iraq, he suggested, could be the richest country in the Middle East within a few years.
When they"had Philadelphia?" Is he talking about the Constitutional Convention, perhaps?

"Fraught with dialogue?"

Holy cow. Has W appointed his clone as governor of Iraq?

Posted by Tom at 3:25 p.m. CDT

This sounds just wonderful.

So much for being"welcomed as liberators," huh?

Posted by Tom at 12:08 p.m. CDT

good today. He's one of the few folks who apparently has noticed that W and the boys are destroying the federal budget and slashing services for veterans and others under cover of war.

You'd almost think a permanent war was the plan so the administration can get everything they want and the American will be too preoccupied to notice.

Oh yeah, that's right.

That is the plan.

Never mind.

Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CDT

blogs about the John Lott affair today as well. He calls today's developments a"twofer."

You know I've been thinking about today's developments in the Lott affair a bit more this evening. If Lott is our"mystery man" (and you and I know this is likely since Glenn won't deny it was Lott), I can honestly say, either way, Glenn should be pretty hacked off at Lott right now.

Now, admittedly, I don't feel real sorry for Glenn since he apparently was arguing something in his NRO article that is demonstrably false. Either Glenn was very sloppy in researching exactly who was on the panel or he was willfully deceiving his readers at the National Review Online. Either way, Glenn's not coming off very well.

However, can you imagine the chutzpah on the part of Lott to quote an article in a book that is quoting himself as an unnamed source to bolster an argument he's advancing in the book? You've got to give it to Lott, he certainly has, uh, like I said, chutzpah.

If Glenn knew Lott was going to quote the article in his book, he's now a party to the deception. If he didn't, Glenn should be pretty angry since he's now been dragged into the Lott scandal as well.

I remember how cranked up Glenn and the other"gun enthusiasts" were about how academics weren't taking Bellesiles's mistakes seriously enough and weren't moving fast enough to defrock Bellesiles.

However, I don't ever recall any of those academics ever playing a role in a purposeful deception meant to bolster Bellesiles's position in the scholarly community.

Do you?

Posted by Tom at 9:11 p.m. CDT

Here's a good WaPo editorial about the farce that is the latest budget and tax cut proposal by the economic geniuses in this administration:

And that leads to the tragic part of this budget resolution, which is that we've gotten to the point where a $350 billion tax cut looks like a victory for the forces of fiscal restraint. The overall tax cut provided for in the budget resolution, for one thing, is far bigger: $1.2 trillion over 10 years, although it's only the smaller number that could pass by majority vote. But to knowingly dig the deficit that much deeper is simply irresponsible. Two years ago, Congress passed the president's $1.3 trillion tax cut in the context of a supposed surplus. This tax cut, by contrast, represents a deliberate policy choice to tolerate huge deficits. If there were any question about that, one need only look at the fate of the cuts in mandatory spending that were proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa). Mr. Nussle, who is committed both to tax cuts and balanced budgets, showed a painful path to balance, with $470 billion in cuts in entitlement programs. But the Nussle budget provoked an outcry in his own party, and the cuts were first dramatically reduced, then whittled away with side agreements to protect vocal interests such as veterans and farmers, and then, in the final budget resolution, abandoned altogether. Like the Cheshire cat's smile, all that remained were the tax cuts -- and deficits as far as the eye can see.
But I'm sure W and the boys will, like Reagan, try to blame this fiscal irresponsibility on Democrats somehow or, better yet, maybe they can find some way to blame it on Clinton's penis!

Posted by Tom at 5:18 p.m. CDT

You should go read this post on Tim Lambert's Lott controversy website. It appears that Insty is involved in repeating a smear propagated by Lott against a gun policy panel -- and is now refusing to come clean about it.

After reading this, I think it's safe to say that you should believe nothing that Glenn Reynolds says about the Lott case because, as I suspected, he's apparently just carrying water for the guy. Let's just say this latest episode raises not just questions about Lott's integrity but now about Glenn's as well.

If you need a refresher on this, go back to this post on my blog and read several of the posts that follow it. My big moment in all this was discovering that Lott's"alibi" on the survey is questionable because he is"rabidly pro-gun."

Posted by Tom at 2:05 p.m. CDT

Syria is apparently next in the neocons's crosshairs.

Apparently the administration really should rethink this. People are not in the mood for another war at all. Even this administration's supporters are upset at this idea.

Surely they're not going to do this, right?

W and the boys can't be slimy enough to try another war con job, right?


Posted by Tom at 1:08 p.m. CDT

IMPEACHMENT IF... 04-14-03

W proposes invasions of Syria and Iran.

Hmmm. So that's the first time I've really heard impeachment mentioned as a remedy for W's warmongering foreign policy -- and it comes from a Republican.

Now that's interesting.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:04 a.m. CDT

Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference in New Orleans for the rest of the work week.

Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

Okay, I'll stop gloating now.

Now, back to those papers...

Posted by Tom at 9:39 a.m. CDT

posted that he's had enough with Insty. He even drops him from his blogroll. He also links to this excellent post by Ted Barlow from a couple of weeks ago skewering Insty.

Again, I don't know why anybody reads Glenn anymore. It's not like he's as good as Atrios or anything. Lots of bile but that's about it these days. It's just a waste of time and it's bad for your blood pressure.

Glenn really has become, as I put it a while back, the Bill O'Reilly of the blogosphere (Kevin suggests Rush Limbaugh, I say O'Reilly, to-may-to, to-mah-to).

Posted by Tom at 9:32 a.m. CDT


Come on folks, who the heck reads Glenn these days without laughing outloud every 10 to 15 seconds?He's become little more than a cartoon character these days.

I stopped trying to make sense of him sometime in January when I realized his act was, to use Kevin's words from this post,"a cynical and bitter one" that was honestly not worth my time and effort. That's about the time I took him off my blogroll.

I especially like this part of Kevin's post which sounds an awful lot like my posts about Insty in January:

Glenn's schtick has always been a bitter and cynical one, but the end of the war seems to been a watershed for him. Like Rush with his"stack of stuff," Instapundit has turned into nothing more than a clearinghouse for bile, with post after endless post explaining that anyone who disagrees with him is really motivated by a seething hatred of America and a desire to see everything that is good and true torn limb from corrupt limb. The level of rage and contempt that it takes for someone to continue extracting pleasure from banging out this kind of stuff on a daily basis continues to baffle me.
That's exactly it Kevin. The bigger question is why anyone continues to read this junk on a daily basis. Instapundit long ago ceased to be of any value or provide any insight.

Posted by Tom at 9:09 p.m. CDT

trumped-up case for war -- this time with Syria, will everyone please credit me for being correct about the imperial designs of this administration?

I've been blogging about this for two months now. Please at least give me credit for being right if it happens.

If not, as always, I'll be quite happy to be wrong.

However, all the signs are there -- just as they were with Iraq nearly a year ago.

Maybe Syria will be the"election year war" that W wants to assure his re-election. We all know W can't keep his approval numbers above 50 without a war going on.

We'll see of course.

Posted by Tom at 3:52 p.m. CDT

this is a great post by Jeanne D'Arc.

Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 3:19 p.m. CDT

post on DailyKos today about the current mess in Iraq is quite good. He points out the moral bankruptcy of W's war:

It is a morally bankrupt leadership which plunges another nation into chaos with no plan for its reconstitution. Bush and his aides were all about the fun part, the war planning, but as CSIS analyst and ABC consultant Anthony Cordesman said in December, 2002, the peace starts at the same time the war does. You have to plan for the peace or we will fail.

Victory in this, the most political of wars, is not about the surrender of an army. It is about establishing a just political order. Maybe they can accomplish it. But the chances look grimmer by the day.

While Bush was eagerly using wounded GI's as a photo op yesterday, Rumsfeld was whining about the media. The same media which misled people into thinking a statue was being pulled down by a mob when it was by a crowd of around 100 is now showing scenes of disorder not seen on most TV's since the collapse of the Mobutu government in what was then Zaire.

Go read the rest of the post.

I've said these things for a while now. W and the boys clearly just don't think beyond tomorrow, do they? Is it just a short attention span -- or what? They have screwed up so many things by trying to decide what will look good at the moment rather than considering the long-term impact of their policies. We've seen this with many of their policies.

To use the obvious example, these guys sold us a war without telling us how much it would cost and how difficult it would be to construct a democratic and stable Iraq after the fall of Saddam's government. Worse yet, they apparently don't have much of a plan for the peace. They kept selling us the"quick victory-democratic nirvana" argument that they knew was absolutely false. These aren't just unforeseen circumstances folks, these are easily foreseen circumstances. You know, the kind of stuff I've been talking about here for months.

Of course, come to think of it, anyone that would try to sell that pack of lies and half-truths that was Colin Powell's presentation in February to the folks at the U.N. is capable of anything so I shouldn't be surprised.

Now that the predictable chaos has followed the collapse of Saddam's government, the folks in the administration are getting angry at the media for exposing the rather obvious omissions and lies that were part of their argument for the war. More surprisingly, they honestly are trying to act like the mess in Iraq is somehow not their fault.

I am continually astonished by the lies W and the boys will tell and the lengths they'll go to try to avoid responsibility for their own mistakes.

This truly is a morally rudderless administration.

Posted by Tom at 2:49 p.m. CDT


As I said the other day, things are going to get worse for the average Iraqi before they get better.

The average Iraqi isn't going to feel much gratitude at the moment -- especially since mobs have now looted the hospitals and the thousands of civilian casualties from our bombing in the hospitals now may die in even greater numbers. They'll probably lose family members to this chaos now.

This is a humanitarian disaster.

I know we've spent a lot of time critiquing the warplan and the overly optimistic expectations of the neocon hawks but let me now ask this rather obvious question:

Did anyone in the administration plan for this phase of the war at all?

It sure doesn't look like it.

Update: To get an even better sense of the chaos, read this AP story.

Posted by Tom at 8:01 a.m. CDT

Altercation. It was only six days ago that I had visitor number 150,000.

I've also had more than 237,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

Thanks folks! I really do appreciate it.

Posted by Tom at 2:36 p.m. CDT

federal judge.

I mean this guy is such a loon that even some"moderate" Republicans like Arlen Specter are objecting to him.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 1:50 p.m. CDT

story from the Guardian. It's an excellent recap of the chaos in Iraq yesterday. It also contains quite a slap at Rumsfeld:

On one of the bleakest days since the invasion began, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday shrugged off turmoil and looting in Iraq as signs of the people's freedom."It's untidy, and freedom's untidy," he said, jabbing his hand in the air."Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things."

Mr Rumsfeld insisted that words such as anarchy and lawlessness were unrepresentative of the situation in Iraq and"absolutely" ill-chosen.

"I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it," he said."I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny - 'The sky is falling'. I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot - one thing after another. It's just unbelievable ..."

In an extraordinary performance reminiscent of the Iraqi information minister who assured the world that all was well even as battles raged visibly around him, Mr Rumsfeld quipped:

"The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"

In what appeared to be a concerted effort to damp down media coverage of the chaos, the British government simultaneously laid into the BBC and its defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, accusing them of"trying to make the news" rather than reporting it.

A spokesman for prime minister Tony Blair claimed that"in the main the anarchy and disorder is being directed against symbols of the regime". Mr Gilligan hit back:"The reality is half the shopping district [in Baghdad] is now being looted. Downing Street may be saying it's only regime targets that are being attacked. I'm afraid it isn't."

As one of my readers pointed out yesterday, Rumsfeld seemed to be coming unglued yesterday. This reader even suggested we were seeing a"Jimmy Forestall moment."

It certainly was a strange performance -- a strange performance indeed.

I'm headed out shortly for three hours of soccer.

More later.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 a.m. CDT

Here's a nice roundup of the latest stories on the Republican spy scandal. A second former FBI agent has now been caught up in it now and has resigned his position as head of security at one of the nation's top nuclear research labs.

So our Republican spy may also have been passing nuclear secrets to the Chinese too, huh?

Again, can you imagine what Republicans would be saying if this spy were a Democrat?

I mean they had zilch a few years ago but that didn't stop them for saying all sorts of outrageous things.

Posted by Tom at 8:17 a.m. CDT

10:29 p.m. CDT

this or what?

And, as the occupying power that caused all this mayhem and suffering, we're responsible for restoring order and providing medical care now. If we'd have waited for the U.N. we'd have had someone to share the costs. Now it's all on us. Still glad we went it alone folks? I'll check back with you on this in six months.

Look for us to burn through that war appropriations bill awfully fast folks.

And Rummy made an absolute fool of himself today decrying the media coverage today of the chaos that is Iraq. If anything the media is probably softpedaling this folks. I suspect the chaos is actually worse than it's being made out to be.

Posted by Tom at 5:57 p.m. CDT

column, Ted Rall discusses how W's budget choices reveal that, while he talks admirably about veterans and our soldiers, W's actions actually betray them time after time.

You also ought to look at this story about the psychological trauma our soldiers are likely to face after the one-sided slaughter they just took part in. However, I'm sure W has also cut the budget for psych benefits too in order to pay for his tax cuts for millionaires.

After World War II the federal government worked hard to make life as good as possible for returning GIs. The G.I. Bill dramatically improved the lives of veterans in the 1940s. For the last twenty plus years of primarily Republican rule, soldiers have been getting the short end of the stick. I don't need to remind you that W promised to improve benefits and salaries for soldiers during the campaign do I? However, his first priority was the tax cut for the rich.

You know, whenever W is given the choice between rich folks and veterans, he chooses rich folks. When is this hypocrisy going to be exposed?

Surely most Americans will be outraged by this administration's choosing of rich folks over soldiers and veterans, right?

Posted by Tom at 4:58 p.m. CDT

this, the madder I get about it.

I'm not even sure it's sufficient to call it"irony" that while Republicans were running their mouths with unsubstantiated and outrageous charges of"treason" by the Clinton administration, one of their own was actually committing treason.

Things are often not what they appear at all, are they?

Again, I can just see the frothy foam dripping from Tom DeLay's lips on Faux tonight if this were a Democrat.

Can't you?

The cowardly bug inspector would be telling us how this demonstrated the true patriotism and moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party and that he was sure this scandal went"all the way to the top."

He'd be absolutely full of shit (as would any Democrat who made a similar claim about this scandal) but he'd get on all the shows tonight.

Somehow I don't expect the same thing since it's a Republican.

Posted by Tom at 1:09 p.m. CDT

Faux News on their television sets -- no, no, don't subject them to that!

Showing them Faux isn't exactly a way to teach them much about"freedom of the press" after all. It certainly is a way to show them what a one-sided propagandistic television network that's in the pocket of a political party looks like. However, since Iraqis have already seen Iraqi TV during Saddam's rule, they're already familiar with that.

I would suspect that replacing"Iraqi TV" with"Bushi TV" isn't going to help Iraqis create democratic institutions or understand a free press.

I might even argue that it could be a detriment to the whole democratizing process.

Posted by Tom at 10:08 a.m. CDT

Digby right now. This is too good to miss. He lays it all out for you.

Turns out this administration and its neocons policymakers (yes, it's Richard Perle who's at it again) are knee-deep in, uh, at the very least, conflict-of-interest problems. In fact, all the company that was tarred and feathered during one of the Clinton administration's"scandals" had to do to get a" clean bill of health" from the Bush administration was hire Richard Perle and all was forgiven.

As Digby puts it:

Oh congressional committees, where art thou? Anybody? No treason? What about the “smell test?” As Senator Specter (R-Gasbag) said at the time, “… these matters may be coincidences, but they raise an unsavory inference and ought to be investigated.”
Now, someone remind me, why does Perle still have a position on the Defense Policy Board?

Posted by Tom at 9:26 a.m. CDT

this story about how W and the boys gave their corporate cronies at Halliburton a $7B no-bid contract.

I think Atrios puts it best:

You'd think they would, like, at least try and pretend.
Of course not Atrios because, you know, just as God wants W to be president, God also wants W to make his good buddies rich. It's all part of the great divine plan after all.

Boy, can you imagine what we'd be hearing if Clinton were doing such things? Oh my goodness it would be everywhere 24 hours per day.

More blogging later.

Posted by Tom at 8:11 a.m. CDT

this post by Kevin over at CalPundit.

The celebration at the Saddam statue was just a wee bit smaller than you may have been led to believe.

Posted by Tom at 9:12 p.m. CDT

Here's a good analysis of Faux's formula to win the cable news audience. I'll give you a bit of it:

AN AMERICAN flag logo adorns the upper left corner of the screen. Dramatic stand-up-and-salute drumbeats pound away under regularly scheduled updates. Gung-ho, self-aggrandizing commentators behave like cheerleaders sans the pompons. Dissenting viewpoints get summarily crushed with the verbal equivalent of bunker-busting bombs.

The look, the tone, the feel is unmistakable. You're tuned to the Fox News Channel, where the slogan of"real journalism -- fair and balanced" is blurted out over and over as if constant repetition will convince the world that it's actually true.

Of course, those promos are nothing more than a slick televisual shading of the truth, but how much does it really matter when you're winning the hearts and minds of fervent viewers?

It's quite a good article. Go read the rest of it.

Posted by Tom at 7:50 p.m. CDT

fallen 20%.

Boy, firing Donahue was a great move by the folks at MSNBC, wasn't it?

Posted by Tom at 6:24 p.m. CDT

this excellent blog entry that sums up quite well how we should judge the"success" of this war over at Different Strings (which I just added to the blogroll).

I'm too busy to say much more at the moment. More later.

It's time for soccer practice.

Posted by Tom at 4:24 p.m. CDT

Jeff Cooper!

Posted by Tom at 1:41 p.m. CDT

killed in the suicide bombing today.


No, I can't take some time off and" celebrate for the Iraqi people" and withhold my criticism today as some of my more righty-oriented readers have suggested. Why not? Because we've more than likely brought chaos upon them for the next several weeks at least, if not the next several months.

I can't believe I'm having to explain this but whenever you remove a government, no matter how terrible it was, you create chaos and disorder -- and we're certainly seeing that today.

One of the most dishonest points in the neocons' argument for war was this belief that some sort of enlightened and ordered"nirvana" would descend upon the average Iraqi once Saddam's government had fallen.

Folks, I hate to break it to you but the life of the average Iraqi may actually become significantly worse before it becomes better as law and order breaks down. You know, like what's happened in much of Afghanistan, that breeding ground for terrorism that this administration can't be bothered to worry about.

This sort of chaos was always what was going to follow our victory and it was absolutely damned dishonest to suggest otherwise.

Don't kid yourselves folks. It may be quite a while before the Iraqis are really glad we've done this. Honestly, I hope eventually they are glad about it but it's going to be tough-going for a while for the Iraqi people -- and our soldiers as well.

Posted by Tom at 12:32 p.m. CDT

23 marines were killed in the supposedly"bloodless" fall of Baghdad. How many thousands of Iraqis died in this"bloodless" battle I wonder?

We also had our first (hopefully also the last) case of terrorism against U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. One marine is dead and three seriously injured from a suicide bombing.

Apparently two Iraqis we brought in to help us in forming the interim government were also assassinated today as well.

As I've said many times before, the hard part actually starts now. We may or may not be glad we have gotten ourselves involved in this six months from now.

Remember, we've promised to create democracy out of this chaos -- chaos that we've created I might add.

We'll see, won't we?

[Links via Agonist]

Posted by Tom at 11:52 a.m. CDT

You should read this excellent column by Bob Herbert. It certainly explains just why it is that many folks on the Defense Policy Board wanted this war -- so they can pad their bank accounts:

The war against Iraq has become one of the clearest examples ever of the influence of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned against so eloquently in his farewell address in 1961. This iron web of relationships among powerful individuals inside and outside the government operates with very little public scrutiny and is saturated with conflicts of interest.

Their goals may or may not coincide with the best interests of the American people. Think of the divergence of interests, for example, between the grunts who are actually fighting this war, who have been eating sand and spilling their blood in the desert, and the power brokers who fought like crazy to make the war happen and are profiting from it every step of the way.

There aren't a lot of rich kids in that desert. The U.S. military is largely working-class. The power brokers homing in on $100 billion worth of postwar reconstruction contracts are not.

The Pentagon and its allies are close to achieving what they wanted all along, control of the nation of Iraq and its bounty, which is the wealth and myriad forms of power that flow from control of the world's second-largest oil reserves.

The transitional government of Iraq is to be headed by a retired Army lieutenant general, Jay Garner. His career path was typical. He moved effortlessly from his military career to the presidency of SYColeman, a defense contractor that helped Israel develop its Arrow missile-defense system. The iron web.

Most concerning is this bit of caution from an old Bush I foreign policy hand:

Those who dreamt of a flowering of democracy in Iraq are advised to consider the skepticism of Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush. He asked:"What's going to happen the first time we hold an election in Iraq and it turns out the radicals win? What do you do? We're surely not going to let them take over."
Hmmm. As a historian, I can tell you we've faced this situation before -- and we never allowed truly free elections to happen in Vietnam.

In short, don't look for us"democrats" to even allow the radicals to run for office in the new"democratic" Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 11:26 a.m. CDT

Borowitz Report:


Named Company's Official Spokesman

Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the former Information Minister of Iraq, was named today as the new official corporate spokesman for AOL/Time Warner in New York.

Mr. al-Sahhaf, who just days ago had been saying that coalition troops were nowhere near the gates of Baghdad, had generally positive things to say about AOL/Time Warner's prospects in today's competitive media environment.

"The merger of AOL and Time Warner was the most successful merger in the history of the media world," said Mr. al-Sahhaf, wearing his trademark beret."All you have to do is take a look at the value of our executives' stock options - they're worth untold billions."

Mr. al-Sahhaf disputed reports that the company was desperately trying to raise cash by selling assets such as its two Atlanta sports teams.

"No parts of this company are for sale - in fact, we'd like to go on a buying spree right now," Mr. al-Sahhaf said."That's what companies do when their bottom lines are gushing cash, which is precisely what ours is doing."

Mr. al-Sahhaf also took issue with reports that Ted Turner, a major AOL/TW stockholder, was disaffected from the company:"That is insane! Ted Turner is deliriously happy! At out last board meeting he was purring like a little kitten. Ask anyone who was there."

While many on Wall Street welcomed Mr. al-Sahhaf's upbeat assessment of the company's prospects, Ira Hogan of Credit Suisse First Boston lowered his recommendation on AOL/TW to"sell," primarily because of the company's decision to hire Mr. al-Sahhaf.

Asked to comment on Mr. Hogan's move, Mr. al-Sahhaf replied,"That gangster bastard will meet with a fiery doom of his own making."

Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CDT

This is an excellent piece by Robert Parry about how Iraq was simply the example to the world of what happens when you oppose our imperial power.

It's a lengthy piece. I'll give you just a bit of it to whet your appetite:

In the latest sign of a troubled American democracy, a large majority of U.S. citizens now say they wouldn’t mind if no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq, though it was George W. Bush’s chief rationale for war. Americans also don’t seem to mind that Bush appears to have deceived them for months when he claimed he hadn’t made up his mind about invading Iraq.

As he marched the nation to war, Bush presented himself as a Christian man of peace who saw war only as a last resort. But in a remarkable though little noted disclosure, Time magazine reported that in March 2002 – a full year before the invasion – Bush outlined his real thinking to three U.S. senators, “Fuck Saddam,” Bush said. “We’re taking him out.”


In the latest sign of a troubled American democracy, a large majority of U.S. citizens now say they wouldn’t mind if no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq, though it was George W. Bush’s chief rationale for war. Americans also don’t seem to mind that Bush appears to have deceived them for months when he claimed he hadn’t made up his mind about invading Iraq.

As he marched the nation to war, Bush presented himself as a Christian man of peace who saw war only as a last resort. But in a remarkable though little noted disclosure, Time magazine reported that in March 2002 – a full year before the invasion – Bush outlined his real thinking to three U.S. senators, “Fuck Saddam,” Bush said. “We’re taking him out.”


It now is clear that Bush never intended to avoid a war in Iraq, a conflict which has so far claimed the lives of at least 85 American soldiers and possibly thousands of Iraqis.

As of Monday, April 7, the U.S. military had located two suspicious caches of chemicals that were undergoing tests, but still had not confirmed any chemical or biological weapons. Whatever those ultimate findings, however, there's little doubt that the long-running drama over United Nations inspections to ensure that Iraq had rid itself of weapons of mass destruction was a charade designed to mask Bush’s predetermined course of action -- to test out his new doctrine of preemptive war.

No Credibility

Much of the world – from Canada to Cameroon – caught on to the administration’s game as it sought to manipulate international support for an invasion. Bush's lack of credibility on the world stage left him with only four out of 15 votes on the U.N. Security Council for a war resolution.

The Bush administration’s deceit was so obvious that even Washington Post columnist David Broder spotted it. Broder, who has built a career ignoring unpleasant realities about Washington’s powerful, observed how Bush had choreographed the march to war.

“Looking back, the major landmarks of the past year appear to have been carefully designed to leave no alternative but war with Iraq – or an unlikely capitulation and abdication by Hussein,” Broder wrote on the eve of the war. Noting Bush’s post-Sept. 11th doctrine of waging preemptive war against any nation that he deemed a potential threat, Broder said, “It quickly became clear that Iraq had been chosen as the test case of the new doctrine.” [Washington Post, March 18, 2003]

Once Bush had chosen the site, there was virtually nothing the Iraqi government could do to avoid war, short of total capitulation. As a demonstration of both America’s military might and his own itchy trigger finger, Bush had decided to make Iraq his Alderaan, the hapless planet in the original Star Wars movie that was picked to show off the power of the Death Star.

“Fear will keep the local systems in line, fear of this battle station,” explained Death Star commander Tarkin in the movie. “No star system will dare oppose the emperor now.”

Similarly, the slaughter of the outmatched Iraqi military is meant to send a message to other countries that might try to resist Bush’s dictates.

You should now go read the rest of it. It certainly does an excellent job of explaining just what the hell went wrong to get us this war and how American democracy apparently won't stop this administration's imperialistic vision.

Posted by Tom at 9:19 p.m. CDT

speech (and we all know that Dick is really in charge of things after all) today about rapidly increasing oil production in Iraq has gotten me thinking about that theory once again.

How about you?

Posted by Tom at 5:15 p.m. CDT

Here's what the world is seeing today -- two very different pictures folks.

Posted by Tom at 1:32 p.m. CDT

end of the war in Iraq. I'm not so sure we don't have a few days more of fighting. Northern Iraq could still pose problems to our soldiers.

There was never any doubt in any reasonable person's mind that we could defeat Iraq, now a third-rate military power. As Jimmy Breslin put it,"this isn't a war, it's an exhibition." However, that's what was so concerning about the problems earlier in the war during what was supposed to be the" cakewalk portion" according to the Cheney-Perle-Wolfowitz cabal.

Of course, the hard part really begins after we win the war. I've said that since long before the war started.

Let's try not to approach Iraq like the disaster that is Afghanistan. However, since this administration often doesn't have a long attention span, you and I will just have to hope.

Posted by Tom at 12:15 p.m. CDT

Here is this week's Gene Lyons column:

Political Correctness, GOP Style

According to the U.S. Constitution, there's a presidential election next year. Assuming it takes place as scheduled, however, Republicans are demanding special ground rules: there will be no criticizing the august personage of"America's commander-in-chief." Any rival who points out that George W. Bush is arguably the worst president since the Civil War will be deemed unpatriotic.

The bullying has already begun. Speaking in New Hampshire last week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) permitted himself a wry joke."What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq," he said"but we need a regime change in the United States."

Kerry's been using the remark for months. Given Bush's incantatory repetition of the phrase, it's a guaranteed laugh getter. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Kerry may have thought he'd earned the right, although no American should have to. Criticizing our leaders isn't merely a constitutional right, it's our duty as citizens.

Nevertheless, Republicans feigned outrage in their usual scripted, coordinated way. The RNC e-mailed party faithful quoting chairman Marc Racicot."Senator Kerry crossed a grave line when he dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander-in-chief at a time when America is at war," he said."These comments are just the latest example of Democrat leaders blaming America first."

Imagine that, Kerry"dared to suggest" replacing President Junior. Talk radio bloviators jumped in, along with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Rep. Tom DeLay and the usual pundits. DeLay pronounced Kerry's remarks"desperate and inappropriate." New York Post editor John Podhoretz called them"ugly" and"disgusting." Transplanted Brit Andrew Sullivan opined that"Kerry is now indistinguishable from the most hard core anti-war leftists."

Accusing Democrats of lacking patriotism is GOP boilerplate. Even before Kerry's"regime change" joke, Weekly Standard editor and neo-conservative guru William Kristol was sadly telling Fox News Sunday that"a certain chunk of the Democratic Party, a higher chunk of the liberal commentators, take a certain relish in the fact when something goes badly in the war. They...hate the Bush administration more than they love America. And that is a very bad situation."

David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter who takes credit for coining the"Axis of Evil" phrase, used virtually identical terms to describe another group of Bush critics."[T]hey are thinking about defeat, and wishing for it and they will take pleasure in it if it should happen," he wrote."They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country."

Frum, however, wasn't talking about Democrats, but conservative pundits Robert Novak and Pat Buchanan, who have criticized the war in Iraq as contrary to the national interest. Novak broke what he said was a 40 year refusal to respond to personal attacks by describing his own Korean war service and lifelong patriotism.

During the 2002 election, Republicans ran TV ads in South Dakota linking Sen. Tom Daschle, an Air Force veteran, with Saddam Hussein. They impugned the patriotism of Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost two legs and an arm fighting in Vietnam, because he differed with Junior over details of a Homeland Security bill Bush himself had opposed until his administration's cover-up of pre-9/11 intelligence failures became a big issue. Astonishingly, it worked, largely because Cleland refused to dignify the smear with a personal response.

Sen. Kerry is a different breed of cat. Instead of cowering, he hit back."I'm not going to let the likes of Tom DeLay question my patriotism, which I fought for and bled for in order to have the right to speak out," he said. It was an obvious reference to the fact that DeLay, like many in the GOP Chickenhawk Drum and Bugle Corps, avoided Vietnam. Indeed, DeLay once memorably complained that undeserving minorities had unfairly grabbed up all the infantry slots.

Kerry later amplified the theme."The Republicans have tried to make a practice of attacking anybody who speaks out strongly by questioning their patriotism," he said."I refuse to have my patriotism or right to speak out questioned. I fought for and earned the right to express my views in this country...If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy."

"I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year," Kerry added."Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now."

"Finally," wrote Joan Walsh in Salon,"a Democrat with the guts to fight back!" Amen to that. Bush and company have gotten away with the phony tough-guy act for far too long. Frightened and confused since 9/11, Americans don't necessarily want to go to war with every tinpot dictator in the Islamic world. But neither do they trust a leader who won't stand up for himself to stand up for them.

Posted by Tom at 9:46 a.m. CDT

dullest blog in the world.

I don't know, what do you think?

I mean, heck, I'm positive there are blogs somewhere devoted to golf. I'm not sure if this blog is any less exciting than a golf blog would be.

Dear readers, you should feel free to forward me links to other boring blogs. We can have a contest of sorts!

Posted by Tom at 9:07 a.m. CDT

opinion of the Arab world. I think whomever missed his target so astonishingly as to hit the Al-Jazeera office should be fired immediately. This mistake has had a devastating impact on Arab world opinion and may ultimately lead to us winning the battle but losing the war in Arab world opinion.

Of course, I just wish the first reflex of the military wasn't always to say things like"it isn't our fault" or"it wasn't our weapon" or"someone fired at us from there" or some other preposterous lie. It's war. You're going to make mistakes and you'd might as well own up to them.

I mean there are times I think CentComm spokesman Vincent Brooks is being placed in a position similar to that of his Iraqi Minister of Information counterpart. He's been told he has to say these things by his superiors and therefore does so quite effectively and with a straight face.

(In fact, to be honest, there are times when I'm listening to one of his briefings that I can't help but think"Hey, this guy's good at this. I wonder if the Iraqis feel the same way when watching their Minister of Information.")

I must say, however, the Iraqi Minister of Information does win the award for hutzpah when he claimed the other day that there are no Americans in Baghdad at the same time that everyone at the press conference could hear the sound of small arms fire crackling off in the not-so-far-off distance.

Posted by Tom at 8:51 a.m. CDT

very afraid.

Posted by Tom at 8:18 a.m. CDT

W so frequently during November of last year accused Democrats of not truly valuing national security. However, get this, W and the boys support Republican Congressional Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who openly supports a group that is believed by the administration and the State Department to be a terrorist-supporting front group for Saddam Hussein.

I assume we'll see all of the prominent Republicans in Washington lining up to express their displeasure at Representative Ros-Lehtinen's statements over the next few days, right?

Saddam is evil incarnate right according to these folks, so surely Representative Ros-Lehtinen is pro-Saddam and pro-evil, right?

I mean, heck, prominent Republicans have been painting anti-war demonstrators as supporting Saddam, so what are they going to say about a congressional colleague in their own party who, it appears, is actually supporting Saddam?

Can you imagine what we'd be hearing about this if a Democrat were supporting this group?

This would've taken up hours on O'Reilly and Faux this evening and would've been the major topic of conversation on MSNBC and CNN as well.

To quote Bill Bennett,"where's the outrage?"

Makes you wonder if the folks in this administration really meant any of that stuff they said about Saddam, doesn't it?

Update: Hesiod has more.

Here's another article on the group as well.

No, I'm not really arguing that she's committing treason or anything. She's just, as Hesiod puts it on his comment boards, a"useful idiot" who clearly is willfully ignorant of this group's funding source. Just for sheer meanness, I would also argue that, by supporting this group, Ros-Lehtinen is certainly a whole lot closer to being"pro-Saddam" than U.S. anti-war protesters.

BTW, John Ashcroft used to support this group as well but stopped doing so when he became Attorney General and, presumably, read the file on them.

Heck, Hesiod tells us that Saddam even built the MEK a headquarters complex in Iraq during the 1990s. Here's a satellite photo of it:

Posted by Tom at 9:11 p.m. CDT

here and here.

I'm off to my night class!

Posted by Tom at 6:26 p.m. CDT

cried wolf. No one in their right mind is going to believe us even if we do find something, are they?

I mean, heck, we watched this administration lie non-stop before we got in the war. I guess it should be no surprise they continue this conduct after the war starts, huh?

Posted by Tom at 3:50 p.m. CDT

3:28 p.m. CDT

This is hilarious. It will take a while to load but it's worth it!

Posted by Tom at 1:53 p.m. CDT

This has been all the buzz here for the last couple of days. It sounds like a good idea to me.

Here's coverage of this also from the St. Joseph News-Press, Columbia Daily Tribune and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Posted by Tom at 12:21 p.m. CDT

Here's an interesting article about the war coverage on Arab and U.S. television networks.

Posted by Tom at 11:53 a.m. CDT


Posted by Tom at 11:26 a.m. CDT

fine with me.

Posted by Tom at 5:40 p.m. CDT

post up about how ridiculous and dishonest it is that some conservatives are charging people who are against Richard Perle's imperialistic worldview are anti-semitic.

This is merely another hamhanded attempt to shut up those who are effectively criticizing the grand neocon plan.

I like the quote CalPundit has from Jim Henley at the end of the post:

Public Notice - If you seriously maintain that"neoconservative" is a code word for"Jewish," you are an ass. The only question is whether you're an ignorant ass, one who somehow missed a thirty-year-plus intellectual tradition and yet feels unaccountably qualified to comment on political matters, or a dishonest ass.
I think that about covers it. Thanks Jim.

Update: But Mark, I'm not saying this is a Jewish cabal, I'm just criticizing the plan itself! Now, admittedly, it is interesting that Perle was passing on classified information to the Israelis all those years ago, but that doesn't really have that much to do with this post, does it?

Posted by Tom at 2:36 p.m. CDT

Don't worry about me folks.

Just understand that there are many people in this world who think and feel as I do.

Posted by Tom at 2:01 p.m. CDT

report that we've found chemical weapons. I don't know whether to believe it because this is about the 10th time we've claimed to find some -- and later it turns out to be something else.

Of course, whether Hussein has them or not doesn't make this war right, it just allows the administration to suddenly return to one of its first justifications for the war, WMD.

I think this administration has got, what, five different arguments for war and it depends on the events of the day or barometric pressure as to which one they're emphasizing today.

Posted by Tom at 1:45 p.m. CDT

low-rent response. What a blogospheric bottom-feeder! I will say nothing more about him.

For one thing, only about ten people grand total have even clicked through so he apparently doesn't have many readers -- or at least readers that are intellectually curious enough to actually follow the links.

You know, the kind of folks who still read Insty religiously.

Update:Joe Moran, one of my regular readers and a blogger, read Jay Caruso's response and writes in to say:

"Yes, as a matter of fact, Quakers do indeed read your blog."
Update 2: And Jane, why you would have your name appear on the same blog with Caruso I do not know. That's your problem, not mine.

And don't worry, I get plenty of traffic. It was sort of hard to even pick out the hits from your blog because of it. I'm not pulling in Insty numbers but that's okay. I don't really want to.

Posted by Tom at 1:25 p.m. CDT

this column by Phil Carpenter here at HNN.

Posted by Tom at 1:01 p.m. CDT

Here's an interesting article from a Russian source on the convoy attack. I don't vouch for it but it is interesting. Thanks to reader Craig Gaydos for the tip.

I also want to give a special warm welcome to my hundreds of readers coming over from Lucianne.com today!

It's a busy day folks. More later.

Posted by Tom at 10:20 a.m. CDT

This is definitely going to win over the Russians, eh?

[Link via Agonist]

Posted by Tom at 9:03 p.m. CDT

here. As usual, it's a thoughtful post and well worth your time to read it.

On the other hand, I just looked at sitemeter and realized that right-wing loon Jay Caruso at the Daily Rant has linked to this blog, bitching about this post. You'll notice that Caruso doesn't have the balls to actually take on the person who started this thread in the blogosphere, Atrios. I take on Insty all the time but I've noticed that righties often don't have the courage to take on Atrios.

If you want to see the opposite of Kevin Drum's thoughtfulness and decorum, you really should take a look at Caruso's blog. I love how someone like Caruso can call Hesiod a loon while at the same time his blog has a post up that consists of these two words (excuse me my dear readers):"Fuck You."

I feel so, so, so dirty that his readers are reading me.

This may be as bad as when the Lucianne.com loons drop by for a visit.

Posted by Tom at 8:13 p.m. CDT

For Freedom Century and Michael Hatley's Hatley.org.

They're both great blogs. Be sure to check them out.

Posted by Tom at 7:59 p.m. CDT

points us to this story about how, despite our outrage at the Iraqi military for dressing as civilians, W and the boys view it as perfectly okay for us to do the same thing:

The Pentagon on Friday defended the use of some civilian clothes by U.S. special operations forces, a tactic used to help them blend in with the local population.

Alleging war crimes, Bush administration officials complained bitterly last week that Iraqi paramilitary forces dressed as civilians, faked surrenders and used other battlefield ruses to kill American soldiers.

Asked at a Pentagon press conference why it is OK for American commando troops to take off their uniforms, but a crime when the Iraqis did it, Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said she thought American forces wear something that distinguishes them from civilians, but deferred the question for a later answer.

The issue is a subject of disagreement among Pentagon legal advisers and policy makers. Some officials have said for some time that it is a gray area that needs to be settled as a policy, another defense official said on condition of anonymity.

Like Tim Dunlop, I await how the Bush Fedayeen will justify such astonishing hypocrisy on our part.

As Tim puts it:

The fun thing about such reports is to watch the apologists justify it. Over to you, Professor Reynolds.
You know, any time I hear this administration make a moral argument I know it will only be a matter of time before it collapses under the weight of this administration's hypocrisy.

After all, it has become obvious that this is an administration that is about as devoid of morality as any in my lifetime at least -- with the possible exception of the moral cesspool that was the Reagan administration. Hundreds of the folks in the Reagan administration pled guilty to crimes that included everything from lying to congress to embezzlement after all.

Of course, many of those folks are now working in this administration. Given the actions of this administration in its first two years, I can't say I'm surprised.

Posted by Tom at 6:53 p.m. CDT

reporting from Iraq on his blog. I suggest you go read it. It's been a tough last few days for him. He's in Kurdish northern Iraq at the moment. U.S. forces accidentally killed several Kurds and a few U.S. soldiers in a friendly fire incident in Arbil yesterday. The Kurds in that city are not pleased with us at the moment.

Let's hope we can restore the confidence of the Kurds in Arbil -- or it could get ugly in northern Iraq very fast.

Posted by Tom at 4:35 p.m. CDT

Atrios. I do sincerely appreciate your patronage. It was only a few days ago that I had my 140,000th visitor.

When I started observing these 10,000 visitor marks, I thought I'd be doing this once a month, not every few days! I often marvel at how many folks drop by this blog on a daily basis. I've also had nearly 223,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, I appreciate your visits to this blog and I hope to give you a good reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 4:10 p.m. CDT

Ah, yet another bit of wartime opportunism by W and the boys -- under cover of war, the administration is pursuing a ruinous tax cut, at least according to some economists:

Economist George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, one of 10 Nobel laureates among the 450 economists who petitioned the White House to withdraw its tax cut proposal, told a campus interviewer that the administration's"stimulus package" is no such thing. In fact, the tax cut has about as much to do with"stimulus" as the attack on Iraq has to do with weapons of mass destruction.

"It's a horrendous bill," Akerlof said."But the public does not seem to be aware of the extraordinarily serious consequences.... The deficits being contemplated are out of sight.... Most of these tax cuts are envisaged as being permanent. That means a shortfall on revenues as far as the eye can see into the future.... One cannot even contemplate how we are going to pay for our governmental needs, but especially on our promises to the elderly."

A new study by the Center estimates that the revenue lost to the treasury via the tax cut would be more than enough to keep Social Security solvent until 2075. As it is, the trustees reported on March 17 that the system's trust fund grew by 13.6 percent last year, to $1.378 trillion. That means without the tax cut, the United States could fund Medicaid and a Medicare drug benefit and even pay for the war - with help from my Social Security trust fund.

In short, without tax cuts for his rich buddies, W would actually be able to fund his priorities. With it, he's busted the federal budget, including Social Security and Medicare.

I suspect history will not be kind to an administration with such obviously skewed priorities.

Posted by Tom at 3:54 p.m. CDT

notes (again, permalinks aren't working, scroll down) that the same folks who said such horrible things about Rachel Corrie after she was killed and put Wellstone's family through a living hell after his death for political purposes are now blasting away at anyone who says anything untoward about Michael Kelly.

Ah, hypocrisy.

Isn't it great?

If you want a more heartfelt and less politically-motivated eulogy of Kelly than Peggy Noonan's, go read MoDo's column today.

Whether you liked the guy or not he had two kids, aged three and six. I really do hurt for his wife and children in losing their father.

Posted by Tom at 1:06 p.m. CDT

want the State Department rather than the Pentagon or White House in charge of Iraq's reconstruction.

Here's a bit from this excellent story:

Top Republicans as well as Democrats have been smarting for months over what they view as highhanded treatment by the White House and the Defense Department on a range of fiscal issues. While there is overwhelming support on Capitol Hill for the way Bush and Rumsfeld have conducted the war, the peacetime arrangements for Iraq outlined in Bush's emergency spending package met with near universal rejection.

In what members said was an unprecedented move, Bush asked for the $2.5 billion reconstruction fund to be appropriated to the White House itself, presumably to be distributed through the Pentagon. A memo prepared by senior GOP staff for the House Appropriations Committee noted that the arrangement would erect a"wall of executive privilege [that] would deny Congress and the Committee access to the management of the Fund. Decision-makers determining the allocation . . . could not be called as witnesses before hearings, and most fiscal data would be beyond the Committee's reach."

After all the lies told by W and the boys to get us into this war, it appears that even congressional Republicans have learned they can't trust the White House. They also are apparently quite weary of the Nixonian penchant for secrecy in this administration.

Hmmm. So even the administration's political allies don't trust them.

Interesting, eh?

Posted by Tom at 10:58 a.m. CDT

heart-breaking story about one of the hundreds of civilian casualties in Baghdad. And, yes, it does appear that she was killed by an Iraqi anti-aircraft shell but the war caused this man's suffering folks. If there was no war, this poor man would still have a daughter who teaches at the University.

The Observerreports that the U.S. Central Command is stretching the truth when it says that U.S. forces went into" central Baghdad" yesterday.

You also should read this piece from the L.A. Times by Hussein Ibish about the mistakes the U.S. is making in choosing folks to head the post-war Iraq government. Ibish tells us how he thinks Iraqis will view this government. It's not a pretty picture folks.

[Last link via an e-mail from Marc Sobel]

Posted by Tom at 10:03 a.m. CDT

here and here.

The difference between liberal bloggers and conservative bloggers is that they at least are willing to talk about things that they were wrong about, even if they don't acknowledge their wrongheadedness directly. Kevin Drum's excellent blog, CalPundit, is one of the best in the blogosphere and, even if he doesn't admit it, that's exactly what he's doing today.

What am I talking about? Let me explain.

I can't help but crow about the fact that I started discussing the neocon hawks' view of empire about a month ago a bit before Kevin began to see the light on the war. At that time, I was rebuffed by Kevin in an e-mail exchange we had after I alerted him to this post. At that time, Kevin told me that I was crazy in arguing that the neocons were viewing this war as the first of many in a series of imperialistic wars. He felt at that time that I was going too far in describing the neocons' plan for world domination. I must say that I was talking about this even before the brilliant Josh Marshall article that Kevin cites in his post.

Clearly, Kevin has now seen the light on this:

As Josh puts it, this has enough surface plausibility that you might be thinking,"That plan's just crazy enough to work." The problem is that the neocons' plan is based almost entirely on the aggressive and unilateral use of American military power, essentially trying to build democracy and liberalism at the point of a gun. In other words, a sort of updated version of the Vietnam-era domino theory based on an endless series of wars in the Middle East.
Now, admittedly, Kevin, unlike many, has at least has been consistent in his objections to this potential scheme. He argued then, as he does in today's post, that the American people didn't sign up for this and wouldn't support it. However, at that point he clearly thought this wasn't the vision behind IraqWar Part II. He's clearly changed his tune now.

I, of course, hope he's right about how the American people won't support such a thing. However, I can't help but feel just a wee bit vindicated by his recent conversion to being a critic of what he now agrees with me is the neocons' expansive and imperial plan.

It's okay Kevin. I'm glad you've seen the light on this too.

Update: Atrios notes (permalinks not working, you'll have to scroll down) that the idea that there will be a series of imperialistic wars has gone from" conspiracy theory" to accepted truth in about a month.

Isn't that interesting?

Posted by Tom at 10:38 p.m. CST

Kerry flap that I commented on last night:

For the purposes of our present discussion, the particulars of Kerry's remark are almost beside the point. This is no better than cheap bullying practiced by the president's hacks. And, in political life as in personal life, there is only one way to deal with bullies: you must fight back against them with at least the ferocity and intensity that they use against you. They understand nothing else and deserve nothing better. There's no reasoning with them, no apologizing to them, no hashing out the particulars of remarks you've made.

Bullying, bluff and aggression have been the signature modus operandi of the president's political operatives in domestic politics for the last two years. How many veterans will get their patriotism questioned by the president's operatives and placemen before we see the mainline pundits say enough is enough? Recently, we've seen Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt and now John Kerry get the treatment. The president's operatives are using the presence of an American army in the field -- Americans fighting and dying in Iraq-- not only to land a few easy shots on the president's opponents but to hit them so hard that they're afraid to hit back. Don't miss the point of this: it's to scare anyone out of uttering any criticism. And it's a cheap use of American blood.

It's nice to see Kerry at least putting out word that he won't stand for it. No one should.


Posted by Tom at 6:54 p.m. CST

Peter Jung shares this bit of wisdom via e-mail:

The way it's going in the Bush economy, there are precious few dividends being paid out, so maybe dropping the dividend tax isn't going to have much impact.
Now that, my friends, is a good point.

Not that I'm in favor of the dividend tax cut of course and, I suspect, neither is Peter.

Posted by Tom at 6:28 p.m. CST

Richard Perle Libel Watch, week 4 edition. In this week's installment, Perle is too busy resigning to worry about libel suits!

And, no, my dear ditto-monkeys, it's not anti-semitic to raise questions about Richard Perle's conduct.

Posted by Tom at 1:51 p.m. CST

this story. I'll warn you though. It will make you very angry. What makes me even more angry is to remember that W and Republicans pretended in the November election that they gave a damn about terrorism and accused their political opponents of not sharing their commitment to our security.

It was a lie. After reading this story you'll realize that the folks in the administration apparently don't give a damn about this. It's only used for political effect. As I said the other day, it's their all-purpose political weapon in times of desperation. But it's only rhetorical, once the political crisis has passed, as this story demonstrates, they don't seem to do much about it.

Remember, the next terrorist attack inside this country could come at any time and is much more likely because we're at war with Iraq. Also remember that the administration has had a year and a half to try and change their procedures.

When I read stories about such astonishingly sloppy procedures, I realize that we should certainly hold the administration responsible for the next one.

Posted by Tom at 12:27 p.m. CST

analysis of the current situation in the war by Steve Gilliard over at the DailyKos. Unlike the neocon hawks who believe you plan for wars by assuming the best, Steve has given you a sense of the many things that can still go wrong.

Now, it goes without saying that I hope none of these scenarios play out, and I'm sure Steve feels that way too. We shouldn't be getting carried away yet folks.

Of course, strangely enough, the war may actually be the easy part. The occupation is what may truly be hell. Steve also makes the same sort of connections I have been over the last few days about how this could turn out like the Philippine Insurrection, the last"rolling victory" the U.S. government declared in a war.

Posted by Tom at 11:44 a.m. CST

Here's a good Dana Milbank piece about W's dismal record on the economy. Although Milbank softpedals them, this article contains some rather significant criticisms of W's policies by economists, such as this one:

Some say Bush should restructure his tax cut to drop the dividend tax elimination, which accounts for half of the package but provides a negligible economic boost in the short term. “Rather than shoehorning the dividend plan in, they should be trying to shoehorn in the most amount of economic stimulus,” said Bill Dudley, chief U.S. economist for Goldman Sachs.

Still, Dudley said, “I don’t see any sign that they’re changing their approach. The policies don’t change even when circumstances change, and the economy is a good bit weaker than many people thought three or six months ago.”

As I've said numerous times, it's the economy that's going to take W down or save him. If it recovers, he gets a second term. If it doesn't or seems weak, he's done. His economic policies are as inept and ineffective as those of any president I've ever studied but the economy could still improve.

We'll have to see whether the economy improves in spite of his policies, as it did for Reagan in 1984.

It's a soccer morning folks. I've got to coach a game and then referee two. I'll be back later today.

Posted by Tom at 8:02 a.m. CST

John Kerry has had a belly full:

"The Republicans have tried to make a practice of attacking anybody who speaks out strongly by questioning their patriotism," the Massachusetts senator said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press."I refuse to have my patriotism or right to speak out questioned. I fought for and earned the right to express my views in this country."

Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, backed a congressional resolution last fall giving President Bush the authority to use force to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but he repeatedly has criticized the president for failing to give diplomacy more time.

In a speech Wednesday in Peterborough, N.H., Kerry said Bush so alienated allies prior to the U.S.-led war against Iraq that only a new president can rebuild damaged relationships with other countries.

"What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," Kerry said.

Kerry even lets the draft-dodging bug exterminator have it:

"I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year," Kerry said."Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now."

Kerry also mentioned recent GOP criticism of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who said Bush's diplomatic efforts had failed"miserably" because he didn't secure a U.N. resolution for the war.

Following a speech to the New York State United Teachers convention in Washington, Kerry said,"I'm not going to let the likes of Tom DeLay question my patriotism, which I fought for and bled for in order to have the right to speak out."

Isn't it nice to see someone finally calling congressional Republicans on the new McCarthyism?

Posted by Tom at 8:09 p.m. CST

Former Bush administration Mideast envoy (until a month ago) Anthony Zinni remains opposed to this war:

Understanding the Arab mind-set has been difficult for the United States.

The biggest mistake the United States made in the war, Zinni said, was speaking of"shock and awe.""That was a way to say:"Your fate is inevitable. We're going to crush you. The might of America will defeat you. Just surrender and throw down your arms.'

"You don't speak to Arab pride and Arab manhood in this way. That whole psychological business gave them another cause to fight for, more than they would have fought just for Saddam."

Zinni said everything in the Iraq war will climax in what he called"the moment."

"That moment will be when the region, the country and the world realizes Saddam is gone. It will be a moment of decision. There will be tremendous mixed emotions in the Islamic and Arab world," he said.

"On one hand, they will be glad we rid them of Saddam. On the other hand, there will be great apprehension about this world power that bullied its way in, ignored international arguments and has now decided to impose a form of government on this country.

"That moment could change everything and could give us a fresh start. That part of the world will be holding its breath and waiting for the next step."

Zinni said it will be"a monumental task" to transform Iraq into a democracy."Whatever the outcome of that task is how this war of intervention will be judged," he said.

I wonder if we'll hear much about this former administration official's statements from our flag-waving jingoistic national television media that's still trying valiantly to convince us that all true Americans are for this war?

[Link via Agonist]

Posted by Tom at 6:31 p.m. CST


Why are you still here?

Go read it.

A note: Network problems have made it very difficult to post today. That's why I haven't posted much today.

Posted by Tom at 4:02 p.m. CST

wrong about some of the duties he apparently believes are in his job description -- at least according to Congress. But, hey, what the hell do they know?

Speaking of Emperor Rumsfeld, here's my earlier post on this and here's an excellent post about this by Steve Gilliard who's sitting in for Kos at the Daily Kos as well.

It's about time somebody clipped Rumsfeld's wings.

Posted by Tom at 12:11 p.m. CST

Iraqi exiles on southern Iraq. This would, we hope, have a great effect on Iraqis who will now happily turn on Saddam's government because they will see that democracy is headed their way!

Second, at the supposedly best possible moment we arbitrarily declare a"rolling victory" for"psychological effect" and the government, we think, will fall like a house of cards (we've heard this before, haven't we?).

Oh, this plan really sounds like a winner -- and it's from the same people who thought this sucker would be over in three days so their judgement is, to say the least, just a wee bit suspect.

Anyone else find it a bit troubling that W and the boys still haven't really decided what happens in a post-war Iraq? You'd think if this was all about giving democracy to the Iraqi people, they'd have given this more thought, wouldn't you?

The historian in me can't help but wonder out loud how many times we might've declared a"rolling victory" in Vietnam between 1966 and 1973?

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think we're looking at the exact analogous situation or anything. At least I sincerely hope not.

And both of these steps are for apparent psychological effect and the warplanners haven't exactly been great at reading the Iraqi people very well so far.

BTW, we've actually done this"rolling victory" thing before although it wasn't called that at the time. We essentially declared the Philippine Insurrection over in 1902 -- and it raged on and cost thousands of (mostly filipino) lives for years after it was"officially" over. I hope this isn't an analogous situation either but it very well may be.

I just keep hoping W and the boys are right about something and that this war will end soon. I'm afraid it won't but I still can't help but hope. Like many Americans, I'm uncomfortable with what we're doing in Iraq and, like about half of us, was opposed to the war beforehand.

This war hasn't become any better idea in the interim but now I just want it to end before too many more of our soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians die.

Posted by Tom at 9:27 a.m. CST

points us to this excellent editorial about the difference between patriotism and what today's McCarthyites, the Bush Fedayeen who would rather destroy freedom in the name of saving it, call patriotism.

Here's just a bit of this editorial:

In case you haven't gotten it yet, here it is in a nutshell. Criticizing the president is not the same thing as criticizing the troops. Criticizing the president is not the same as criticizing America. And criticizing the president is not"giving aid and comfort to the enemy," which is the classic definition of treason, a federal crime that earns felons the death penalty.

So here's a few questions. When the Clinton administration sent troops to quell the ethnic cleaning in Kosovo, we can presume Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) was giving"aid and comfort" to mass-murdering tyrant Slobodan Milosevic when he said,"The administration's campaign has been a disaster. . . . [It] escalated a guerrilla warfare into a real war, and the real losers are the Kosovars and innocent civilians." What a traitor to America.

When then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said of the intervention that"Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode," we can presume that his criticism of the president's foreign policy provided clear and forthright evidence that DeLay hates America.

You see,"freedom" is funny like that. Of course DeLay and Nickles were no more unpatriotic for denouncing administration policies while U.S. troops were in the field back in 1999 any more than Maines or Daschle are today.

There's no shortage of it, and it's not new to this period of conflict, either. Recall White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's veiled warning after colossal boob Bill Maher remarked on the cowardice of U.S. fighter pilots--that Americans need to"watch what they say."

And remember when critics asked Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett exactly what information the government had prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Bartlett said that asking pointed questions like those"are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do."

Last September, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) posed the ludicrous question,"Who is the enemy here? The president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?"

The simpleminded, the Know-Nothings, the John Birch-style über-patriots like to create a"slippery slope"--a classic logical fallacy--to support their contention that the president equals the troops, which equals the flag, which equals the Constitution, which equals freedom. There's no daylight, no wiggle room, between any of them--as long as it's their guy in power.

There was no shortage of criticism of Bill Clinton during his presidency, and it hasn't abated since he left. The far Right has tried to draw a metaphor from an act of consensual sex to everything from fiscal policy to the refrain that the Clinton administration somehow bankrupted the U.S. military. Funny how this criticism never was seen as treasonous. I suppose it's all depends on whose ox is gored.

When a government seeks to paint any opposition as unpatriotic and any dissent as treason, when it uses its allies in industry and the media to hound skeptics and blacklist celebrities, when it attempts to paint legitimate questions of policy as either a vote for America or a vote for dictatorship, that's not freedom any more.

That's fascism. Smart people know the difference.


Here endeth the lesson.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 p.m. CST

this article about all of the Americans who are hanging around waiting for the war to end so they can run Iraq.

They're having to just kill time because apparently, even if the administration is telling us all that everything is going according to plan, these folks were told they'd already be in charge in Iraq by now:

Many of the officials here rushed to Kuwait City in the belief they would be sent almost immediately to Baghdad. Now that the war has gone longer than they were led to expect, there is a lot of cooling of heels, and time for reading. Few of these people are Iraqi experts. But some have come armed with books and articles on the history of Iraq. The chapters on the mistakes of British rule are well underlined.
Just a bit more evidence that all is not going according to plan.

Does all of this sound ridiculous to you too?

A new government composed almost entirely of Americans?

Oh I'm sure that'll go over real well.

Posted by Tom at 7:53 p.m. CST

this story by William Rivers Pitt.

Go read it. I'll wait.

Okay, now I'll go on.

Sometimes I wish supporters of the war who in their misguided patriotic zeal try to shut up those of us who speak out against this war would realize that, believe it or not, it is our country too.

And it is our right (at least until PATRIOT II passes) to speak out against the actions we disagree with by our government. It very well may take decades to repair the damage that has been inflicted upon this nation by the current administration. I suspect we won't be remember these years very fondly at all ten years from now.

I know I'm counting the days until, hopefully, we can have peaceful regime change in this country through the next election. I'm pretty sure the rest of the world is too.

Posted by Tom at 7:03 p.m. CST

4:20 p.m. CST

devastating critique of Bill Kristol's latest propaganda column this week. It's quite excellent.

Here's the best part:

In his last paragraph, Kristol writes that today's alleged Doughfaces are motivated chiefly by their hatred of George W. Bush. He writes that it is with sorrow that he recognizes the condition (oh, please!) because in the 1990s,"parts of the Republican Party, and of the conservative movement," were driven by hatred of Bill Clinton. Then we come to this sentence, and it is choice:"But this wing of the GOP and conservatism lost in an intra-party and intra-movement struggle, and has now been marginalized -- Pat Buchanan is no longer a Republican, and his magazine these days makes common cause with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal."

First of all, what"intra-party and intra-movement struggle"? There may have been a few minor reassessments of the party's 1990s posture by a handful of people (let us hope by Kristol himself, who wrote in May of 1998 that Clinton"is doomed" and that Republicans would sweep the midterm elections by focusing on nothing but the president's louche ways). But mainly what happened is that their guy won -- hijacked -- the White House, so they didn't have anyone in power to hate anymore. Suppose that President Gore were in the White House, and suppose that his military had not captured Osama bin Laden after 18 months; or that anthrax had been mailed to Trent Lott and Jesse Helms' offices, and Gore's Justice Department, 17 months later, didn't even have a suspect! It's obvious to anyone with a mind that the Republicans, and Kristol, would be doing to Gore exactly what they did to Clinton in 1998.

I can't help but think Tomasky's dead-on here. We're going to be hearing this facts-free argument from conservatives with half of Kristol's IQ points from now until the election next year about how"real" Republicans didn't take part in that embarrassing little minor impeachment episode a few years back and are respectable people. Right, right.

We also can only imagine the radioactive bile we'd be hearing directed at President Gore right now -- who also wouldn't have us in this damn war -- if he'd failed us as thoroughly and obviously as W has.

On a side note, the network here has been absolutely pathetic today. It's only up about 10% of the time right now so that's making posting to the blog damn-near impossible. It's taken me 8 or 10 attempts to even get this posted.

I don't know what's up but there isn't much I can do about it.

As you might imagine, this is impacting the frequency of my posting today.

Posted by Tom at 1:39 p.m. CST

jobless claims have reached an 11-month high of 445,000 -- rising 38,000 from the week before.

Get this:

Nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs over the last two years after the economy sank into recession, and the war with Iraq has made businesses even more reluctant to hire workers, analysts say. In February, employers slashed 308,000 jobs, the largest number since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Economists think an additional round of cuts occurred in March. Some economists say the war with Iraq, which began two weeks ago, will have roughly the same effect on the world economy as the September 2001 terror attacks. The World Bank said Wednesday that economic output around the world could be reduced by about $75 billion to $100 billion this year. Most forecasters, however, don't expect the war to tip the U.S. economy into a new recession.

Right, these are the same folks who have been telling us"prosperity is just around the corner" for a year now, right?

Thanks W. Your war very well may produce the Dubya dip recession we're all expecting.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 11:24 a.m. CST

column today about the travesty of the White House's overt sabotage of the 9/11 investigation.

Republicans in Congress, more than happy to spend tens of millions of dollars on Whitewater and Bill Clinton's penis and who have recently approved $50M to investigate the Columbia accident, somehow can't find the paltry sum of $11M to investigate the attacks that led to the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

I mean we now know the administration blew off numerous warnings from their predecessors in the Clinton administration about the dangers of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. W and the boys preferred to focus on their enormous tax cuts for the rich that have bankrupted the federal treasury and their Enron-friendly energy bill rather than concerning themselves with keeping this nation safe from the terrorism that Sandy Berger in an all-day briefing had warned them was the biggest threat that America faced.

As I've said numerous times, this really does make you wonder what the White House is hiding, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:11 p.m. CST

Here's an excellent column by Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the mistaken assumptions made by the war's backers.

Here's just a bit of it:

When U.S. soldiers finally do march into Baghdad, they will not be treated as their great-grandfathers had been treated as they marched into Paris. The closer comparison may be to Israeli troops patrolling the Occupied West Bank, which is terrifying. No American wants to see our troops placed in a situation where they feel compelled to shoot 12-year-old rock-throwers.

As that heartbreaking realization sinks in, administration officials are already trying to claim that they expected this kind of reception all along. That is, to put it bluntly, a lie.

The influential Richard Perle, at the time the chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, expressed the administration line beautifully back in July."Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder," Perle predicted, echoing claims by Vice President Dick Cheney and others.

(It should be noted that while Saddam still holds power, Perle does not. He was forced to resign last week after evidence surfaced that he had used his post to enrich himself.)

In the days to come, some will claim that the Bush White House knowingly misled the American people about this war. I believe the truth is far more troubling: The administration first deceived themselves, and based policy on that self-deception.

Even now, it's hard to shake the memory of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the early hours of the war, breathlessly predicting that at any minute we would see wholesale surrenders by Iraqi units. He honestly expected that would happen. The belated deployment of another 120,000 troops only confirms that false optimism had run rampant.

Militarily, we can compensate for that miscalculation, and are doing so now. Having committed to this war, we have no choice but to see it through.

But it's hard to see light at the end of this tunnel.

There will be a violent, difficult and long peace in Iraq. I suspect in a few years we very well may wish, as I said before the war, that we had never done this no matter what happens in the next few weeks. Hopefully by then we'll have a president that is better at his job and more rational, but maybe not.

Surely by now the aforementioned neocon hawks are privately asking themselves,"what the hell have we done?"

If not, they are continuing to delude themselves -- and that certainly doesn't bode well for the future, does it?

If so, I wonder how many more disasters like this IraqWar Part II are in our future?

Posted by Tom at 3:33 p.m. CST

damn fool of himself, arguing that Peter Arnett should be"tried for treason." That's downright idiotic -- but what I'd expect from the McCarthyite wing of today's Republican Party.

And let me ask the same question Atrios is asking: why no outrage about Geraldo's conduct? It seems that Geraldo should be fired as well, doesn't it? Heck, he was giving away the positions of our troops and possibly endangering their lives.

Or is it, as Atrios suggests, that everyone knows that Faux isn't a real news network anyway, so they just don't worry about it?

Posted by Tom at 1:16 p.m. CST

nine marines that were killed in a rescue attempt last week for the POWs. I really can't help but wonder how many other U.S. casualties we're going to find out about only on days when there's good news in the war to mask it.

I've had readers e-mail me saying that they've heard from relatives of folks in the military that the casualties are much higher but that the administration is keeping this information from us. I've even seen reports in other foreign media sources that there have been hundreds of combat deaths already.

Now, I honestly don't know about the truth of these stories. I really hope they're not true. However, when I see news manipulation like this by the administration, I become quite a bit more suspicious and can't help but wonder if what I'm hearing from these sources is actually true.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:47 a.m. CST

Atrios, I hope David Corn is wrong.

Could there really be no real plan for taking Baghdad -- because it was assumed Saddam would've already been overthrown by now?

Surely not, right?


Posted by Tom at 10:37 a.m. CST

market in Baghdad last week.

Today, we apparently accidentally hit a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, killing several, including a few doctors.

I'm sure the folks in Baghdad are really looking forward to the actual invasion, aren't they?

My understanding is we have an absolutely horrific bombing campaign planned for the end of the week in advance of our move into Baghdad -- although I don't expect that for a few more days after that.

I'm sure the folks in Baghdad are probably getting the rose petals ready as we speak.

Posted by Tom at 10:17 a.m. CST

It's time for your weekly dose of Gene Lyons!

Faith-based War Plan Encounters Reality

Ignorance is not the problem in the world.
It's the things people 'know' that aren't so.

--Will Rogers
So what if President Junior doesn't know squat? It wasn't supposed to matter. Bush had"moral clarity," we were told, unlike certain ex-presidents whose heads were stuffed with useless information, rendering them womanish and indecisive. The purity of his motives uncluttered by geography or history and unsullied by reason, Junior was the political equivalent of a child evangelist."I'm not a textbook player," Bush boasted to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward."I'm a gut player. I rely on my instincts."

Even so, Bush started carrying around a book called"Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime," by Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins historian. Cohen protests that the media over-simplified his message. Even so, its symbolic import was unmistakable: war is too important to be left to generals. Great wartime leaders like Lincoln, Churchill and Clemenceau overruled timid military men who are too risk-averse, always fighting the last war.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the neocon hawks talked Junior into a"faith-based" plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was going to be a cakewalk. Vice President Dick Cheney said the conflict would be over in weeks; Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard would refuse to fight.

Richard Perle, the ubiquitous ideologue who resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board due to the appearance of war-profiteering, described the Iraq as"a house of cards" which"will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder." Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, another architect of the great game of"Risk" to which America has committed its lives and fortunes, told the VFW that"the Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator."

Barely two weeks into the war, the alibis and finger-pointing have begun."[A]ccording to three senior administration officials," Knight-Ridder's Warren Stroebel reported,"President Bush's aides did not forcefully present him with dissenting views from CIA and State and Defense Department officials who warned that U.S.-led forces could face stiff resistance in Iraq." One said,"as a result, almost every assumption the plan's based on looks to be wrong."

The Pentagon appears to be in all but open rebellion. According to Seymour Hersh in the The New Yorker:"Several senior war planners complained that...Rumsfeld and his inner circle of civilian advisers, who had been chiefly responsible for persuading President Bush to lead the country into war, had insisted on micromanaging the war's operational details. Rumsfeld's team took over crucial aspects of the day-to-day logistical planning-traditionally, an area in which the uniformed military excels--and Rumsfeld repeatedly overruled the senior Pentagon planners on the Joint Staff, the operating arm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 'He thought he knew better,' one senior planner said. 'He was the decision-maker at every turn.'

"On at least six occasions, the planner told me, when Rumsfeld and his deputies were presented with operational plans--the Iraqi assault was designated Plan 1003--he insisted that the number of ground troops be sharply reduced. Rumsfeld's faith in precision bombing and his insistence on streamlined military operations has had profound consequences for the ability of the armed forces to fight effectively overseas. 'They've got no resources,' a former high-level intelligence official said. 'He was so focused on proving his point-that the Iraqis were going to fall apart.'"

The Washington Post reports similar misgivings. Evidently, the administration's deep thinkers saw Iraq as a kind of geopolitical demonstration project, like a new strain of soybeans planted alongside a busy highway. Instead, what's being demonstrated, Robert Baer, a former CIA Middle East hand told Hersh, is that"everybody wants to fight. The whole nation of Iraq is fighting to defend Iraq. Not Saddam.... [W]e are courting disaster. If we take fifty or sixty casualties a day and they die by the thousands, they're still winning. It's a jihad, and it's a good thing to die. This is no longer a secular war."

Retired soldiers agree. General Merril A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff 1990-94, told the Portland Oregonian that"if we sent the 3rd Infantry up there naked, by themselves, because somebody assessed that they'd be throwing bouquets at us, that's the worst thing you could say about political leadership."

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, who commanded an armored division in Gulf War I, warned the AP"we'll be camping on the outskirts of the city [Baghdad] for years."

Meanwhile, Marines in Iraq are being given a pamphlet called"A Christian's Duty," with tear-out prayer cards to mail to the White House. One says:"Pray that the President and his advisers will be strong and courageous to do what is right regardless of critics."

I'll bet they're going over really big.

Posted by Tom at 8:08 a.m. CST

Altercation. It was a little over four days ago that I had my 130,000th visitor.

I've also had nearly 208,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, I'm glad you folks dropped by. I sincerely appreciate it.

It was a busy day folks. Hopefully I can do more blogging tomorrow than I was able to do today. I had to do a lot of course prep and then teach my night class.

Posted by Tom at 11:39 p.m. CST

Hesiod is on a campaign against this highly offensive radio show host, Richard Condon, who has openly advocated gun violence against anti-war protesters. If you want to learn more about it and what you can do, go here, here and here.

Be sure to send e-mail to the appropriate FCC and radio station authorities folks.

This sort of statement cannot be allowed to stand. It seems to me this guy really should lose his job over this. It would be one thing if he hadn't done it before -- but he has in exactly the same way and he lost his job then too.

Posted by Tom at 6:25 p.m. CST

problem with Donald Rumsfeld stating the official position of the United States government regarding negotiations and surrender terms for the Iraqis?

Isn't that sort of thing a long damn way from being part of his job description as Secretary of Defense?

It's frightening that this administration has essentially decided to delegate an emormous portion of its diplomatic and executive power over to the Defense Secretary, isn't it?

Am I crazy here -- or not?

I'm getting the distinct and frightening idea that Donald Rumsfeld is damn-near in charge now. Aren't you?

And considering Dr. Strangelove, er, Don Rumsfeld is one of the scariest and least trustworthy folks in this rather untrustworthy administration, this is not a good thing at all.

Tell me if I'm wrong here. In fact, please tell me I'm wrong here!

Posted by Tom at 4:50 p.m. CST

This sort of statement from the Pentagon's Victoria Clarke is downright idiotic. It's like, as casualties mount, the folks in the administration are trying to talk themselves into viewing the sacrifice of American lives as worth it.

If Saddam were the worst dictator in world history, this whole mess would definitely be worth it, right?

Of course, everyone who passed eighth grade should know that W's grandfather and noted Nazi-phile Prescott Bush's favorite ruler, Adolf Hitler, and the monstrous Josef Stalin killed tens of millions of people, the vast majority of them from their own countries, thus making them easily the"worst dictators in world history."

I wonder if Victoria Clarke made it out of eighth grade?

Judging from that jacket choice a couple of weeks ago, I'm not really sure.

After all, that sort of jacket was certainly very hip when I was in eighth grade in the 1980s.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 1:01 p.m. CST

this, the federal budget deficit last year was actually $365B (thus setting a record already), not $158B.

W is using a new"accounting method" to make the deficit look smaller -- so he really is"Enronizing" the federal budget after all.

My goodness. What's the federal budget deficit this year going to be -- really?

Alan Greenspan says the deficit next year will be at least $515B.

Boy, W sure is doing well, isn't he?

W is, of course, hiding this little factoid under cover of the war.

Posted by Tom at 12:02 p.m. CST


Posted by Tom at 11:55 a.m. CST

fired for long, did he?

Off to my morning classes folks.

Posted by Tom at 7:56 a.m. CST

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