Spencer Blog Archives 6-03

Spencer Blog Archives

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Oh you've got to read this to believe it. Here's what Rumsfeld said in his prepared statement today:

As we celebrate our liberty, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the challenges that our country faced in its early years. It was a period of chaos and confusion. Our revolution was followed by a serious commercial depression. Britain's colonial ports were -- in the West Indies were closed to ships flying the American flag. There was rampant inflation and no stable currency.

Discontent led to uprisings, such as the Shays Rebellion, with mobs attacking courthouses and government buildings. In 1783 demobilized soldiers from the Continental Army surrounded the statehouse in Philadelphia, demanding back pay. Congress fled for more than six months, meeting in Princeton, Trenton and finally Annapolis, to avoid angry mobs.

Our first attempt at governing charter, the Articles of Confederation, failed, in a sense. It took eight years before the Founders finally adopted our Constitution and inaugurated our first president.

You've got to be kidding me, Don. This is about as inappropriate an historical comparison as one could draw. Whatever you think of what the Iraqis are doing to our soldiers, this comparison simply doesn't work. If the British had defeated us in the Revolutionary War and then imposed a government upon us and we had perpetrated irregular warfare against their soldiers, then it might work.

Instead, as we all know, Americans defeated the colonial power and created the government on our own. This comparison of Rumsfeld's is particularly inapt considering we just cancelled local elections in Iraq just last week.

I could be wrong (the period 1783-1787 isn't exactly my precise area of historical expertise) but I really don't recall Shays's Rebellion involving guerilla warfare against the Massachusetts militia that went so far as to involve the killing of militiamen. That's the sort of thing that's going on in Iraq now, Don. At its height, Shays' Rebellion's did involve mobs shutting down court proceedings to stop foreclosures and there was the famous (very brief and fairly bloodless) showdown between Shays' men and the Massachusetts militia but that's about it.

I am very open to correction by historians who know more about this. I'll happily post your responses right here on the old blog if you want to send them in to me.

Now, admittedly, one could draw certain valid comparisons to our conduct during the Revolutionary War. We certainly committed acts against British soldiers during the Revolutionary War that were an awful lot like those that are being perpetrated against our soldiers right now in Iraq but that's not the comparison Rumsfeld was trying to make because it completely invalidates his point.

Is everyone else as appalled as I am that Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, is so ignorant of his own country's history as to think this comparison is accurate?

Can he get away with it because most Americans -- and most journalists -- are equally as ignorant of their nation's history?

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Posted by Tom at 9:01 p.m. CDT


Josh Marshall has the goods on Republicans, intelligence failures, and Republican spy Katrina Leung. The short answer is they've put politics before good intelligence measures at the FBI and are therefore responsible for a great deal of the mess of the last decade. You should read the long version however.

As Josh puts it in the conclusion to this article:

Now we have an actual Chinese spy--charged, though not convicted--who by all indications was funneling money into U.S. campaigns. Her treachery is an intelligence failure that comes on the heels of others tied to similar shortcomings at the FBI, and one in which vital secrets were given to a power, China, which these same Republicans were saying two years ago posed the greatest threat to the United States. And yet we've not had one hearing. Not one commission. There's been very little coverage in the press, nor is anyone yakking about it on talk radio.

The Republicans didn't create the problems at the FBI. But they've sat on their hands and put politics ahead of the national interest as the scope of the problem and the cost to national security have become increasingly apparent. Not only have they ignored the problem, they have actively sought to shield the FBI from the one reform that almost everyone agrees would make such breaches of national security secrets far less likely. That's not just politics as usual. It's not even garden-variety political hypocrisy. It's a betrayal of the public trust.

It is astonishing to remember all the hyperventilating about the evidence-free Clinton pseudo-scandals with China by Fred Thompson and other folks who, despite their partisan designs, should've known better. Today we have a genuine spy who is a major Republican fundraiser and nothing, not a thing in the press. No hearings. No investigation.

Again, to quote a well-known recently-exposed Republican hypocrite,"where's the outrage?"

Ah, that"liberal media!" If the last five years or so haven't proven the"liberal media" accusation to be an absolute and utter lie, nothing will. You have dishonest idiots like Ann Coulter who will peddle this"liberal media" b.s. to willfully ignorant mouthbreathers with gun racks and"Charlton Heston is my president" bumper stickers who will, predictably, buy it lock, stock and barrel. Strangely enough, many actually educated Americans buy it too.

Go read the story. And ask yourself why the hell Republicans care so little about intelligence failures and double-agents that they won't have any sort of hearings into the Leung matter. Once again, Republicans have put politics above national security. I'm about to decide that's their modus operandi these days -- not that you could tell it from the press coverage of course.

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Posted by Tom at 6:49 p.m. CDT


Kevin has a fascinating post about how the tech geeks of the 90s naively used to think they were the ones making the economy move:

Far from thinking of their wealth as a lucky windfall, the tech geeks I knew were all convinced that they were the heralds of a new world order: they made lots of money because they"got it" and the neanderthals didn't. It was inevitable — and perfectly just — that in this brave new world brainy people would eventually take over everything. How else could it be, after all, in a world so dependent on technology?

Even the stock traders I knew felt much the same way. They weren't just riding a wave, they were causing the wave. Their gains weren't due to luck, they were due to savvy investing and an ability to see the future that others lacked.

It's a fact of human nature that when people do well they invariably attribute it to their own skill, and when they do poorly they attribute it to outside factors. The tech geeks of the 90s were no different.

The hubris here is quite astonishing but, as Kevin explains at the end of the clip, perfectly understandable. After all, this is how the wealthy tycoons of more than a century ago during the Gilded Age felt.

Interestingly enough, working class folks back then believed the robber barons were parasites who were living off the sweat of their workers' labor and were thus contemptible. Working class folks railed against an economy that would reward, well, um, no real work or skill at all. I guess we just don't think of it that way much anymore, do we? Why not?

I guess the same is certainly and obviously true of the internet boom. The internet folks were essentially making no profits whatsoever -- and never did. It was only a matter of time before it all came crashing down when investors figured that out.

Unfortunately, it wasn't their ability at all that made them rich for a short while. Rather it was all just a rather complicated investment pyramid scheme that was destined to fail from the moment of its inception.

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Posted by Tom at 3:02 p.m. CDT




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


Here's a column by Diane Carman by the Denver Post advocating an investigation into how intelligence was manipulated by the administration. What caught my eye was this passage:

Before the war, DeGette said,"both (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and the president unequivocally said there were biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons that were poised to strike and that created an imminent threat."

In fact, when Powell made his dramatic presentation of the purported evidence against Iraq to the United Nations in February, DeGette admitted that she found it disturbing.

The congresswoman, who had voted against the resolution to go to war with Iraq, said Powell raised"very serious questions" about the danger Iraq posed.

She had company. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., called it"shocking."

The public responded similarly.

In the days following Powell's U.N. appearance, polls showed opposition to the pre-emptive war evaporating in the U.S.

Seventy percent of Americans believed that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. Sixty percent thought the country was developing nuclear weapons.

"On that basis, we went out and attacked another country," DeGette said.

It was the rationale we presented to the world for going to war.

"Now, it's becoming more and more clear that evidence of those weapons never existed," DeGette said.

Powell's presentation really was the turning point. Americans believed Powell.

This passage also caused me to review my blog entries on the presentation. (Particularly here, herehere, and here.)

Ahem. Let's just say I was properly skeptical -- and not without evidence. I just actually read the newspapers -- unlike most Americans apparently.

If you recall, at one point I made this comparison:

Of course, to me all this means is that the average American hasn't paid any attention until Powell appeared before the U.N. Powell presented an interesting collection of suggestive evidence (nothing conclusive of course) that Saddam is seeking to evade the U.N. inspectors. What's amazing is that many Americans support this war even if we find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

The American people in this instance remind me of the O.J. jury. They're looking for a reason to believe in this war and they'll take anything, no matter how flimsy it is, and run with it. Americans, like all human beings, want to believe what their government and the folks in authority tell them.

And then later I said this:

The scariest thing of course is that more and more Americans are clearly on board with this lunacy. I think my wife is absolutely right about this. Americans don't want to think their government is feeding them a line of bullshit. It makes them uncomfortable -- and understandably so. It made them feel icky. Interestingly enough, Americans didn't buy what W had to say in the SOTU address. However, they apparently watched the two minute digest of Powell's speech on ABC Worldnews Tonight.

"Aha!," they said."There it is. There's my reason! Now I can support the war. I feel so much better now!"

Now they can happily turn off their brains again. They can pretend this is a good cause and move on.

They won't read the stories in the media raising significant questions about Powell's presentation or anything. They'll head back to their state of blissful ignorance. And the media, happily cheerleading for higher ratings, will go right along parroting the administration line for the next several weeks.

Boy, that last part certainly damn-near tells the future, doesn't it?

So, what's the point of this post? (Other than, obviously, for me to present yet another wearying case of"I told you so?")

Well it's to point out that, even in the astonishingly pro-war media culture of February and March, if one wanted to read closely, you could see that Powell's presentation didn't check out.

However, most Americans, I'm afraid to say, were nowhere close to that critical of what their government was telling them. Like the O.J. jury, they were looking for an excuse to believe the administration and Powell provided them with that excuse.

Now, like most people who know they've been duped, they're too sheepish to admit it -- and will continue to be unless it gets a lot worse in Iraq. My guess is, unfortunately, that day is coming.

This IraqWar could backfire quickly on W and the boys and, if public opinion turns on this administration, it's going to be fast and breathtaking.

I'm not saying I see signs of this (although W's poll numbers are back into the upper 50s again folks) but it very well may be coming. The economy is still going nowhere as well, which makes this war look more and more like the penultimate example of this administration's troubling relationship with truth in any form.

If the war is going to become this administration's albatross, I suspect the much-blogged about (by other bloggers)"tipping point" -- the point at which we've lost more soldiers in the aftermath of the war than during the war itself -- very well may be the point at which Americans begin to have severe doubts about the wisdom of the war.

That's the point at which it becomes obvious that W and the boys did a ridiculously sloppy job planning for post-war Iraq.

It's also the point at which the post-war chaos of Iraq looks more like a quagmire such as the Philippine Insurrection or, dare I say it, Vietnam.

As always, we'll see.

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Posted by Tom at 9:08 a.m. CDT


interview on Nightline is right here.

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Posted by Tom at 2:41 p.m. CDT


Here's an interesting column about how the Davis recall effort is the triumph of"single-pocket" politics. There is no grass-roots effort to recall Davis in California, just one, uh, interesting guy with a wad of cash who doesn't give a damn about democracy. O'Rourke even goes so far as to call this only the latest in a series of partisan recall efforts beginning with the impeachment of Clinton in 1998-1999:

Never before has a tax cut been so aimed at a donor base. And what the top 5 percent have to return to the president and his party is less than what he has already given them.

What Bush doesn't give them is much of his time. He spends about 20 minutes at these profligate fund-raisers, be they hot-dog fare, or canapes, raking in record-setting grosses.

Bill Clinton, no slouch at fund-raising, would squander lots of face time, scouting the crowds for new friends.

But Bush is different. It is not that he has more important things to do. Even Clinton had important things to do. It is that Bush is used to being as rich as the company he keeps, and there's no need for him to rub shoulders with his supporters, because he's been rubbing shoulders with them all his life.

Bush's donors are getting what they paid for. Democrats are at a decided disadvantage. They have to not only raise hard-earned money to win, but, like Gray Davis, they have to raise more money to fight partisan recall movements after they do.

And, I might add, the guy behind all of this has even been charged three times with felony car theft. He says all three times were bogus and it appears the last one was genuinely his brother's doing -- but what about the other two a decade earlier?

Now I can easily see once or twice being falsely charged with something, but three times?

I guess it's possible.

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Posted by Tom at 2:34 p.m. CDT


Boy, it takes some skill to get boos from a crowd that buys Ann Coulter books.


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Posted by Tom at 8:31 a.m. CDT


Yep, as I suspected, Dennis Miller's career is about done. As TBogg puts it:

So what do you do when your career goes down faster than Ann Coulter at a Heritage Foundation smoker? Why, you sell out completely:

The lunch at the San Francisco Airport Marriott was the first Bush fundraiser to include entertainment. The crowd was placid, listening politely to comedian Dennis Miller as he referred to the Democratic field as “an empty-headed scrum” with debates that look “like Pez dispensers having a séance.”

His performance earned him a ride on Air Force One down to Los Angeles, where he delivered a similar routine but noted the freeway’s “smooth flow of traffic in the illegal-alien lanes.”

That's just the kind of crowd a comedian wants: placid and polite.

"empty-headed scrum","Pez dispensers","illegal-alien lanes". Jesus. I can smell the flop sweat 150 miles away.

I'd feel sorry for Dennis except for the fact that he deserves it.

Dennis, I'm afraid to tell you this but you've become a loser sell-out. Why don't you just hang it up now? If you're pathetic enough to start doing the GOP rubber-chicken circuit, a bullet in the brain might be more merciful than the agonizing spiral that awaits you in the next few months.

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Posted by Tom at 10:07 p.m. CDT


As I know that Maureen Dowd's columns on the Supremes are big favorites of Republican bloggers at HNN, I couldn't help but link to Dowd's latest on Scalia.

Here's my favorite part -- and I think the part where MoDo gets closest to the truth:

Most Americans, even Republicans, have a more tolerant and happy vision of the country than Mr. Scalia and other nattering nabobs of negativism. Their jeremiads yearn for an airbrushed 50's America that never really existed. (The pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, which condemns homosexuality, proves that.) And the America they feared — everyone having orgies, getting stoned and burning the flag — never came to pass.

Nino is too blinded by his own bloviation to notice that Americans are not as censorious as he is. They like the complicated national mosaic — that Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, that Jeb Bush has a Latina wife, that Clarence Thomas has a white wife. Newt Gingrich can leave two wives for younger women and Bill (Virtues) Bennett can blow $8 million on slot machines. Even those who did not like Bill Clinton cringed at Ken Starr's giddy voyeurism.

Justice Scalia may play patriotic songs on the piano, but Justice Anthony Kennedy gave patriotism true meaning in time for the Fourth of July. His ruling eloquently reminded the country,"Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct."

In the immortal words of John Riggins, loosen up, Nino, baby.

In short, Americans have been more tolerant than Scalia and other tight-laced conservatives would like for quite a few decades now. Americans are certainly more than willing to let what people do in their own bedrooms remain their own private business.

I will admit to being mildly shocked that it would be this Supreme Court that would ratify it so resoundingly but, hey, it was long overdue, don't you think?

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Posted by Tom at 6:34 p.m. CDT

I'M SORRY TED 06-28-03

Ted, I'm so sorry you have joined the 400,000 Americans who have lost their job every week for four or five months straight now. We've now got an army of millions of unemployed folks in this country laid off just in the last four months, don't we?

And how long have we heard from W and the boys that"prosperity is just around the corner" -- a year? More?

Regardless, that's not much solace for you, Ted.

Again, I'm sorry. I truly hope it isn't for long.

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Posted by Tom at 3:18 p.m. CDT


We've been down this road a few times before in our history.

From what I recall, it never led anywhere good.

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


but Colin Powell is trying to convince us that the administration really didn't think that Saddam had any weapons but could have reconstituted them later on -- and that's what the, er, uh-oh. That means the war was unnecessary!

As always, Josh Marshall is right on top of it:

So now the argument is that Iraq hadn't reconstituted anything, but rather that they were holding on to the plans and waiting for the day when they were out of the sanctions box and could go back into the WMD business.

Frankly, I believe that's true. I also thought they must have had some chemical and possibly biological weapons left over from the glory days before the inspectors came in. I still think they may have. And this is one of the reasons I strongly backed the need to threaten force to get inspectors back into the country and quite possibly war to remove Saddam's regime once and for all. As I discussed a year ago, I think that circa 2001 the sanctions were hurting us more than they were hurting Saddam and that time was on his side, not ours.

But this isn't the argument the administration made -- not even close.

If this is what the White House thought, then there was no reason whatsoever to turn the world upside down in order to pull the trigger this spring.

Dick Cheney knew that, of course. Thus the recourse to bogus Niger uranium documents.

Do they really think we're stupid enough to fall for this? We all heard the histrionics and the dire pronouncements!

What a load of, well, you-know-what.

Well, go read Josh's post. I've got to get to bed.

Posted by Tom at 11:06 p.m. CDT


You should read this post by Kos. He talks about how soldiers are beginning to realize that the GOP couldn't give a damn less about them -- because this administration so blithely puts them in harm's way, doesn't want to pay them fairly, and doesn't support programs that help them in any way. The GOP and the folks in this administration would much rather find money for tax cuts for their richest benefactors.

So you think I'm being too tough on W, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and the boys? Well, try this one on for size:

They [the administration] cut the Pentagon's building budget (which pays for things such as barracks improvements, bowling alleys and other quality-of-life improvements at military bases, something that was really important to us soldiers), in order to make room for Bush's tax cuts.

In fact, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee tried to restore $1 billion of the construction money, and proposed paying for it by trimming some of the recent tax cuts for those making more than $1 million. Get this: under Obey's proposal, instead of an $88,300 break, they would've gotten an $83,500 cut.

The Republicans killed the proposal. To Republicans in Congress, $4,800 for their richest benefactors was more important than improving the quality of life of our men and women in uniform.

After reading Kos's post, Morat had the proper response:

Over the last year I've been called a lot of things. Unpatriotic, a traitor (thanks Ann!), and un-American to name a few. I've been accused of even more things, most often a failure to support our troops.

To those people, I have one thing to say: Screw you.

If your idea of supporting the troops is to send them off to fight an unnecessary war (and any war you have to lie to start is unnecessary), and after they performed brilliantly in spite of political interference, leaving them in a hostile country without rest and under constant guerilla attack, and then as a reward for all that work slashing their benefits.....then I certainly don't support the troops.

And I'm willing to bet they wish you'd stop supporting them too.


A NOTE: Well, we've got to get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to drive 100 miles for a swim meet in Nebraska City, Nebraska that has warm-ups at 7:30.

So don't panic if I don't blog at all tomorrow morning and perhaps most of tomorrow afternoon.

As always, we'll see.

Posted by Tom at 9:01 p.m. CDT


Krugman's column today is quite interesting. As my regular readers know, I have worried here many times that we are heading towards another Gilded Age in which the government more or less works at the behest of business. Therefore, I can agree with the main point Krugman is making that we are moving towards a period when corporate interests will essentially control the government.

However, I honestly can't quite tell whether Krugman is trying to make a direct historical parallel between Gilded Age politics (his reference to the"McKinley era" is the closest he comes to doing so) and the present political situation. Therefore, I must make the point that the Gilded Age (1865-1900) was not a period of"one-party rule" nationwide. In fact, the two political parties were as closely matched as they have ever been in our history. Republicans won the majority of the presidential elections but it was awfully close. As the Republicans found out in 1884, one ill-timed wisecrack ("Rum, Romanism, Rebellion") could cost you an election during the Gilded Age.

Interestingly enough, I might actually argue that the parallel does work quite well. Like in the Gilded Age, the political contest between the two parties is awfully close right now. As in the Gilded Age, Republicans have the monetary edge due to their parroting of the business line but, if you examine the last several elections, despite this advantage, the raw votes split pretty closely between Democrats and Republicans nationwide as they did in the Gilded Age. Like today, Republicans did ride this astonishing imbalance in campaign funds to a few presidential victories that made the system seem one-sided. However, particularly after Reconstruction, this was not an era of one-party rule nationwide but one that was quite competitive.

I also have to point out that by the turn of the century, Americans became so disillusioned and angry with this unresponsive government of business, by business, and for business that they began to support Progressives in both parties, thus reflecting an entirely different view of the role of government. The public reaction to the business-friendly politics of the Gilded Age is what ultimately led to the rise of liberal politics in the late 1890s and early 1900s during the Progressive Era. Essentially, Americans became outraged at the corruption in the political system and voted to make a change during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Now, let me make myself entirely clear here. I am not saying that I see any sort of liberal tidal wave just over the horizon that is going to ultimately lead to a new Golden Era of Progressive policies and politics in the next few years. However, I suspect most Americans would've said the same thing in the late 1890s as well.

Are Americans going to watch helplessly as their political system completely goes to seed and becomes captured by corporate interests as it was a century earlier in the Gilded Age? Will they decide to get off their duffs and do something about it this time?

Those, my friends, are the essential questions going into this next presidential election year. If you know the answer to those questions, you can predict the future.

I don't, so I won't.

After all, I'm a historian, not a fortune teller.

Posted by Tom at 3:43 p.m. CDT


And the U.S. sold them to Saddam during the Reagan and Bush administrations.


How embarrassing, eh?

Have you heard much about this in our subservient media?

(Here's the story referred to in the column -- from June 9th!.)

Posted by Tom at 1:24 p.m. CDT

THIS IS... 06-27-03

beyond hilarious.

[Link via TBogg]

Posted by Tom at 11:33 a.m. CDT


If you recall, yesterday Clarence Thomas said that he dissented in the sodomy law case because he didn't believe that there was such a thing as a right to privacy.

Atrios points us to this portion of Thomas's confirmation hearings:

Now, Judge, in your view, does the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protect the right of women to decide for themselves in certain instances whether or not to terminate pregnancy?

JUDGE THOMAS: Senator, first of all, let me look at that in the context other than with natural law principles.

SENATOR BIDEN: Let's forget about natural law for a minute.

JUDGE THOMAS: My view is that there is a right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Of course this was back in 1991 when Thomas pretended to have his own beliefs and principles.

Apparently, Thomas now just signs on to whatever position Rehnquist and Scalia have taken on a case.

And he never asks any questions.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 a.m. CDT


of the mess that is Iraq, go here. It's a very fair and careful analysis.

I don't expect it to be heeded by W and the boys of course but you should read it nonetheless.

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


This piece by Anna Quindlen gets to the truth of the matter on W's tax cuts. Here's a bit of it:

The much-vaunted Bush tax cut is totally bogus, a shell game in which money is moved from one place to another with political sleight of hand. The bottom line is that for most ordinary people the benefits amount to less than zero. What the Feds give, the state and local governments will be taking away, and then some. Part of that is because of the states’ own foolish budgetary decisions in recent boom times. (Remember the boom times?) But a large part is because the federal government has required the states to provide expensive programs, from Medicaid to Homeland Security, but not provided anywhere near enough cash to help pay the bills.

The linchpin of the president’s education agenda, for instance, which he developed before terrorists made it possible for his administration to dispense with domestic policy—and civil liberties—was something with the catchy slogan “Leave No Child Behind.” It is a program heavy on performance standards that may as well be called “Leave No Child Untested.” But the states have been picking up most of the added costs for the new mandates. Thus your state and local taxes are soaring, and your alleged tax cut merely moved from beneath one government walnut to another. You’ll get a peek, and then it will disappear.


No outrage, just anomie. Of course, the real point of the tax bill was to cement the support of the wealthy, who have been the lucky ducks of every Republican administration in recent history (and who donate big to campaigns). Of course, the point of the invasion of Iraq was to make the administration look as though it were doing something in the war on terrorism after it was unable to close the deal on Osama bin Laden. Just as the point of increasing money to libraries is to appear interested in reading, knowing that any increase will merely partially fill the sinkhole made by demands on the locals for services mandated by or cut by the Feds. Bogus, every bit of it. And, sadly, the audience no longer cares.

Give her a gold star! I think Quindlen's been paying attention. Unfortunately, she's right that no one else has been.

Posted by Tom at 6:27 p.m. CDT

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF... 06-26-03

by my fellow Missourian Terry over at the Nitpicker. Go give his blog a perusal.

I especially like this post about Tony Scalia and proper judicial restraint.

So far so good. HNN is still up and functioning.

Posted by Tom at 2:31 p.m. CDT


HNN's having a few technical problems at the moment. Hopefully the site won't go down again.

Let me see if this post uploads first.

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


I'm glad to hear it. This creates a rather large problem for W with his religious zealot supporters. Morat, in this excellent post today, puts it best:

On a political level, this is going to catapult one of the GOP's biggest problems into the limelight. Anti-gay bigotry doesn't play well with moderates and independents, and in the light of this decision, Bush's base is going to be clamoring for Bush and the GOP to do something to fix it.

Bush managed to avoid choosing between his base and the moderates during the Santorum flap, but now his base is going to be clamoring for action and results.

I really did wonder how the supremes could argue that in a modern society the government could monitor and regulate your private sexual behavior. Most halfway tolerant people believe this is none of the government's business.

What's hilarious is that it's normally the same zealots who think the government shouldn't be able to monitor who is buying a handgun that think the government should be in the business of policing sexual behavior.

How's that for consistency, eh?

Posted by Tom at 1:24 p.m. CDT

THANKS -- AGAIN! 06-26-03

Just a short while ago, I had my 270,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It was only three days back that I had my 260,000th visitor. I've also had nearly 388,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September as well.

Furthermore, I've shattered my daily record for visitors today -- a bit over 4,700 and it's only a bit after 1:00!

Thanks folks! As always, I do appreciate your dropping by. I hope you to give you reason to return -- and often!

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


it's time for the Times to fire Judith Miller.

Posted by Tom at 11:23 a.m. CDT


Rand Beers was on Nightline last night. If there's one person by himself who's going to take George W down, it's Beers. He was in a position to know that this administration was cutting corners on security, screwing up in Afghanistan, and was blowing smoke on Iraq. He also was in the perfect position to know that the war with Iraq was making us less safe, not more.

This is quite a story. NSC people don't work to defeat their bosses. You can tell Beers thinks that W is a menace to the nation and the world, even if he chooses his words much more carefully than that. He felt the nation's security came before his own job.

The fact that Beers is on a Democratic presidential campaign staff tells you that many of the people who really know what the hell they're doing regarding terrorism and foreign policy in Washington consider this an administration of amateurs who are taking great risks with regard to terrorism and doing great damage to this nation's reputation in the world.

Posted by Tom at 11:19 a.m. CDT


"quagmire" yet to describe Iraq -- but we're getting prettyclose to that now, don't you think?

And I see no signs that anything's going to get better in Iraq any time soon.

I remind you once again that we didn't HAVE to fight this war.

Posted by Tom at 10:26 a.m. CDT


2 U.S. soldiers were killed today. This just gets more and more sickening, doesn't it?

I'd really prefer to be wrong about this war being a fool's errand but it sure looks like it so far.

Just in case you're becoming numb to the suffering like many conservatives, be sure to visit this page and imagine if that were your son, husband, or father.

Surely Americans are starting to get just a wee bit angry that we fought this war and then apparently had no plan for the"peace" at all?

And I'm getting tired of hearing these are Saddam loyalists who are behind all this activity. We're deluding ourselves if we think that you have to be a Saddam-loving Iraqi to want the U.S. out of Iraq.

I mean, heck, we haven't even gotten the electricity back on yet in Baghdad, have we?

I'm sure your average Iraqi thinks"what use are these guys, they can't even get the electricity back on! I want them out of here now."

Folks, we're in this Iraq mess for the long haul and, despite the rosy scenarios the Bushies have been painting, it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars to do it right -- and we should be trying to do this right.

Do I expect this administration to do that? Well, uh, no. W and the boys have been trying to do everything on the cheap, including homeland security. This administration always seems to take the"penny wise and pound foolish" approach to everything.

However, it will ultimately cost us more money to do it badly than to do it the right way. It's about time for the administration to level with the American people as to what this will cost, how many soldiers will be needed to keep order, and, honestly, raise taxes to cover the bill. I'd be willing to pay more to do it right. Wouldn't you?

And, if you supported this damn war, you'd BETTER be willing to pay up for the reconstruction. You're partially responsible for this mess after all.

Posted by Tom at 8:44 a.m. CDT


Go read this post by Digby (permalinks bloggered, scroll down to"Shameless").

Here's just a small portion of this post just to entice you:

You want to run on the war, Maverick? Then maybe you would like to explain to the American people how they're supposed to feel so safe in your big, manly embrace when you obviously let a bunch of terrorists run off with the makings of dirty bombs and huge amounts of fully weaponized bio-chem WMD, right under your nose.

At least we knew where they were when Saddam was in power, didn't we Colin?

C'mon Condi, you assured us quaking Muricans that if we took out Saddam that we'd be keeping the weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Are you going to try to convince us that it was worse to have them in the hands of Saddam than to NOT KNOW WHO HAS THEM OR WHERE THEY ARE?

Go read it now. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by Tom at 10:34 p.m. CDT

OUT OF THE LOOP? 06-25-03

Boy, the noose is tightening around the administration regarding the lie about the Niger uranium. It's becoming quite obvious that the administration knew it was bogus but included the false accusation in a nationally-televised presidential address anyway. In short, the president out-and-out lied to the American people in as bold a way possible.

In his column in The Hill this morning, Josh Marshall quips:

Actually, it’s all fairly hard for me to keep up with. All I know is that under George W. Bush the pundits who had no trouble calling Bill Clinton a liar have suddenly decided lying is a very subtle, hard-to-define, complex matter.
Josh, as a trained historian, also draws excellent historical connections in the article:

Some administration defenders now say that no one involved in writing the speech knew that the documents were forgeries. But it’s pretty hard — scratch that, impossible — to believe Cheney didn’t see the speech before it was delivered. And even though the veep is supposedly trying to build a shadow NSC in his office, it’s still not that big an operation. Could CIA have sent the report to Cheney’s office without Cheney himself getting wind of it?

On June 19th, NPR’s Tom Gjelten added yet another piece to the puzzle. Apparently the intelligence folks even made their concerns known during the writing of the speech. “Earlier versions of the president’s speech did not cite British sources,” a senior intelligence official told Gjelten. “They were more definitive and we objected.”

At that point, according to Gjelten’s source, “White House officials” said “‘Why don’t we say the British say this?’”

The White House disputes Gjelten’s source’s account. But the upshot of the source’s accusation is pretty damning. If true, the White House really wanted to put the Niger uranium story in the speech. But faced with their own intelligence experts telling them the story was probably bogus, they decided to hang their allegation on the dossier the British had released last September.

I’m willing to believe the president didn’t know. Presidents, after all, rely on their top advisors. But it seems clear that many of his chief advisors must have known.

The only other explanation is extreme incompetence at the vice president’s office or a desire to believe that was so great that it overrode all the evidence.

Fifteen years ago, the president’s father was widely ridiculed for claiming he was “out of the loop” on key points about the Iran-contra affair. Now his son and all his top advisers are claiming they were similarly “out of the loop” on a key point about the centerpiece of their entire foreign policy agenda.

"Out of the loop?"


Let me just state for the record that I didn't believe it fifteen years ago and I certainly don't believe it now.

Posted by Tom at 10:05 p.m. CDT


W's poodle tells us the situation in Iraq is"serious."

Tell me something I don't know Tony!

BTW, you do remember we didn't HAVE to fight this war, don't you?

Of course, now that we're stuck to the tarbaby that is Iraq, we'd better do it right.

However, I think we can count on this administration to be as successful in dealing with this problem as they have been with nearly everything else.

In other words, they'll screw it up and then pathetically try to blame someone else for it.

Posted by Tom at 2:56 p.m. CDT


Okay, now I've been trying to decide whether I'll keep running Gene's column every week. I had about decided to stop doing it and then the Demozette goes and commits an editing travesty like this on the column I just posted.

Take a look at how they reworded the first paragraph to soften Gene's words and to take out the obvious recent example of W telling a fib and having to backtrack on it.

Here's the original:

According to what Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq's missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. No need to blame looters as Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. (Only days before, he'd claimed they HAD been found.) Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for this epic liar to be appointed president.
Here's the edited copy (isn't an html error in a professional online publication annoying?):

According to what retired Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq’s missing weapons of mass destruction. No need to blame looters as George W. Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for Bush to be appointed president.
Gee, do you think there's a pro-Bush bias at the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette?

I'll be running Gene's columns so you can get Gene's original words (before they go through the right-wing meatgrinder) right here every week folks.

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


Here is Gene Lyons's latest column!

Back to Basics

According to what Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq's missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. No need to blame looters as Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. (Only days before, he'd claimed they HAD been found.) Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for this epic liar to be appointed president.

Host Tim Russert asked Clark about his April 9 column in The Times of London."This is the real intelligence battle and the stakes could not be higher," Clark wrote"for failure to find the weapons could prove to be a crushing blow to the proponents of the war [in Iraq], supercharge Arab anger and set back many efforts to end the remarkable diplomatic isolation of the United States and Britain."

How you can tell Clark's a Democrat, incidentally, is that he thinks alienating the known world is a bad idea. After acknowledging that banned weapons may yet materialize in Iraq, although nothing resembling the"imminent threat that many feared," Clark reminded Russert of something the pundit-fixated like everybody in Washington on Bill Clinton's zipper at the time-had probably forgotten.

"We struck [Iraq] very hard in December of '98," Clark said."Did everything we knew, all of his [Saddam's] facilities. I think it was an effective set of strikes. Tony Zinni commanded that, called Operation Desert Fox, and I think that set them back a long ways. But we never believed that that was the end of the problem."

Back then, Republicans charged that Clinton bombed suspected Iraqi WMD sites to distract the public from his Oval Office sex antics, as if THAT were possible. But it's beginning to look as if economic sanctions, UNSCOM inspectors and cruise missiles may have done the job. (Actually, some defectors, including Saddam's son-in-law, whom he had murdered, claimed the Iraqi dictator had the forbidden weapons destroyed after the Gulf War, which admittedly begs the question of why he refused to prove it.)

Anyway, after Gen. Clark observed that there had been"a certain amount of hype in the intelligence," leading up to Junior's 2003 invasion of Iraq Russert pounced.

"Hyped by whom?"

"I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something," Clark began carefully."There was a concerted effort during the Fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11," he added"to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

"By who?" Russert insisted."Who did that?"

"Well, it came from the White House," Clark said."It came from people around the White House...I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But-I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence...It was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection."

Now in a rational world, the media watchdogs at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out, this would be newsworthy. The former NATO Supreme Com-mander says the Bush White House pressured him to blame 9/11 on Iraq even as the World Trade Center Towers were still smoking. Perhaps because Clark's own political ambitions remain unclear, however, little has been made of the allegation.

Outraged by 9/11, many Americans have been content to let Junior pick the targets. A fawning press corps has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect Bush from the consequences of his dishonesty. The New York Times led its"Week in Review" section with an astonishing piece of equivocation by David E. Rosenbaum arguing, among other absurdities, that if Bush didn't actually KNOW he was peddling phony"intelligence" about Iraqi nuclear weapons, its nonexistent links to al Qaeda, or even who benefited from his tax cut schemes, then it's unfair to say he lied.

Elsewhere, however, many in the national press have awakened to their responsibility. New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristoff and Paul Krugman have taken on Bush's habitual mendacity over matters of war and peace and economic justice."Misrepresentation and deception," Krugman writes"are standard operating procedure for this administration." Most persuasive, however, is a brilliantly dispassionate analysis by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman in The New Republic depicting in compelling detail how Bush administration zealots manipulated the evidence to justify their obsession with Iraq and why"the cost to U.S. democracy could be felt for years to come."

Posted by Tom at 11:51 a.m. CDT


and, predictably, righty bloggers have worked themselves up into a lather about it led, of course, by our good bud Insty.

Jeff Cooper has the proper response (here and here) and links to others who say the proper things.

This is another one of those Glenn Reynolds-has-a-lot-of-readers-who-don't-think-at-all-critically-about-what-he-says tempests in the blogosphere. I don't plan to get drawn in. The idea that this is anywhere near as serious as Trent Lott's pining for the days of segregation is hilarious but not unexpected from the folks that brought you the incoherent phrase"objectively pro-Saddam" and would say anything in support of GulfWar Part II.

I mean, heck, Bush says ten things dumber than this every day and he's the president. Why should we get worked up over this one gaffe by Gephardt (a minor candidate in my book) on the campaign trail?

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


The administration is trying to keep what's in this congressional report suppressed but, unless they release it, I suspect we'll be reading a lot more stories like this one that apparently come from parts of the congressional report.

Here are the first few paragraphs to whet your appetite:

Prowling the skies over Afghanistan in the months before President Bush took office, unmanned and unarmed Predator drones proved to be one of America's major successes in its frustrating hunt for Osama bin Laden.

But the promising aircraft remained grounded under the new administration until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, say current and former U.S. officials who describe a paralyzing internal debate over finances, arming the drones with deadly missiles and concern over who would take the blame if something went wrong.

As late as a week before the suicide attacks against New York and Washington, senior administration officials meeting at the White House had not yet resolved questions about plans to equip each Predator with as many as two Hellfire missiles to kill bin Laden, these officials told The Associated Press.

This came despite the remarkable successes in the fall 2000, including what many intelligence experts concluded were three separate sightings of bin Laden during a series of 11 Predator flights over the Afghan desert.

Unresolved issues at that Sept. 4 meeting included whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate newly armed Predators and whether its new missiles were sufficiently lethal to kill bin Laden, a designated terrorist already blamed for deadly attacks against two U.S. embassies in Africa and the USS Cole and the subject of at least three secret orders by President Clinton to have him captured or killed.

In the months preceding that White House meeting, the Pentagon and CIA successfully fired missiles from a loitering Predator on at least three occasions including once when it destroyed a mock-up home built in Nevada's desert to resemble an Afghan structure bin Laden supposedly used, the officials said.

The disappearance during 2001 of Predators from Afghanistan partly because of unfavorable seasonal weather patterns and fears that potential targets on the ground were learning to spot them is discussed in classified sections of Congress' report on pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures and is expected to be examined by an independent commission appointed by the president and Congress, officials said.

So this is yet more evidence of what we already knew -- that W and the boys thought this terrorism thing was way overblown and that they didn't need to worry about it at all. In fact, if you recall, the administration was happily giving monetary aid to the Taliban at this time as well.

The administration might as well release the report. It will all leak out eventually -- and it will be much more damaging to them coming out in this"drip, drip, drip" manner than all at once.

Posted by Tom at 10:23 a.m. CDT


Boy, MoDo certainly lays the wood to Clarence Thomas this morning. I must admit that I enjoyed it. If one were inclined to be against affirmative action, Clarence Thomas certainly serves as a perfect example of the dangers of giving someone of mediocre talent way too many breaks -- solely because of his race.

Maybe MoDo's right. If it's going to produce bitter egotistical folks like this among those it brings to the very pinnacle of our society, perhaps we should consider stopping it after all. (I'm not serious with that last comment.)

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


The folks at, as Hesiod calls it, the Weekly Bush Fedayeen Agitprop (known to some folks as the Weekly Standard), embarrass themselves yet again trying to defend W against the damning charges stemming from the fine Ackerman-Judis piece from last week. The usual pathetic loyalty-questioning rhetorical cards are being played here by Stephen Hayes, one of the sycophants over at the Weekly Standard.

You know, you'd think these guys would get tired of holding the bag for W and making excuses for his lies, wouldn't you?

I do love it when Hayes tries to contend that the TNR is"previously hawkish" even though the TNR has an editorial supporting the War of Bush Aggression within the pages of the same issue!

I think Josh Marshall, from whom I got these links, puts it best:

But this factual disagreement isn't my primary concern here. I've made my own views on this point clear enough. Read both pieces and decide for yourself.

The key is Hayes' description of TNR as"previously hawkish" on Iraq. (The scrapbook item makes the same point.) But TNR joined their publication of the Ackerman/Judis piece with an editorial deploring the administration's misrepresentations but still supporting the war, albeit much less on the basis of some of the more outlandish WMD claims.

Does this count for TNR being"previously hawkish." I know Judis never favored the Iraq war -- a fact that put him somewhat at odds with the editorial line of the magazine, which has been consistently pro-war.

Now, generally speaking, being a 'hawk' in whatever context means being a hardliner, a maximalist, someone who's not afraid of throwing their weight around and getting the job done -- someone who won't get squeamish or put up with any shilly-shallying. In short, it means being tough.

In this case, according the Weekly Standard, to be an Iraq hawk you have to a) support the war before shooting started b) support the war after the shooting ended and c) keep sitting still for the administration's agitprop even when much of it's being exposed as gross exaggerations, manipulations or outright lies on a more or less daily basis.

That's tough. Real tough.


Posted by Tom at 9:35 p.m. CDT


My goodness, this is amazing in its foolhardiness, isn't it?

Even though it is destined to fail because Senate Republicans won't get the two-thirds majority required to enact it, it sure looks bad, doesn't it?

It makes Republicans look like big whiners who want their way and would even change the rules to get it.

Of course, I'm not sure they understand that ultimately the payback will be hell. If not next year, a couple of years after that.

As Republicans do their damnedest to ram through everything they can and to hell with fairness and proper procedure, they're setting themselves up for one helluva a payback eventually.

And they'll deserve everything they get.

Posted by Tom at 3:45 p.m. CDT


before something like this happens to U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Remember that the geniuses in this administration said loudly to anyone who would listen that we'd be welcomed as"liberators."

Right. I told you they were full of it back in February and March.

Posted by Tom at 10:42 a.m. CDT


So much for the great concern our military -- and this administration -- has for civilian casualties, huh?

All those statements were clearly just show on W and Rummy's part.

They apparently didn't mean a word of it or they wouldn't have used outdated and unsafe cluster munitions in the war:

Hundreds and possibly thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed or maimed by outdated, defective U.S. cluster weapons that lack a safety feature other countries have added, according to observers, news reports and officials.

U.S. cluster weapons fired during the war in March and April dispersed thousands of small grenades on battlefields and in civilian neighborhoods to destroy Iraqi troops and weapons systems.

But some types of the grenades fail to explode on impact as much as 16 percent of the time, according to official military figures. Battlefield commanders have reported failure rates as high as 40 percent.

Unexploded grenades remain potentially lethal for weeks and months after landing on the ground, where civilians can unwittingly pick them up or step on them. Many victims are children such as Ali Mustafa, 4, whose eyes were blown out when a grenade he played with near his Baghdad home in April exploded in his face.

The"dud rate" for cluster grenades can be reduced to less than 1 percent by installing secondary fuses that blow up or neutralize grenades that fail to explode on impact, according to defense contractors. In early 2001, the Pentagon said it would achieve that goal, but not until 2005. In the meantime, the military continues to use a vast arsenal of cluster grenades that fail to meet the new standard.

Former military officials and defense experts say the effort to improve the grenades was given a low priority and little funding.


The United States fired cluster weapons as bombs, rockets and artillery shells, which open like a clam to scatter hundreds of grenades over an area as large as several city blocks. Almost all of the U.S. grenades had one standard fuse, according to military records and officials. A notable exception was a type of cluster bomb carrying newly designed -- and expensive -- grenades with infrared sensors that seek armored vehicles and self-destruct if none is found.

As small as medicine bottles and often draped with short ribbons, unexploded grenades attract children who mistake them for toys. On the April day when Ali Mustafa lost his eyes -- an explosion that injured his brother and friend -- the three were taken to a Baghdad hospital where two other youths were being treated for cluster grenade wounds.

Read the rest of it but I'll warn you, it'll make you pretty damned angry.

Essentially, W's administration spent all this damn money on the military but sort of forgot to fund this rather important program at all apparently. To be fair, I'm sure Clinton dropped the ball on this too. However, it's W who cranked up the defense spending but didn't find any money for this and, of course, it was his immoral and unnecessary war so, ultimately, it's his fault.

Just some more evidence of the true morality of this administration. Lying has to come easy to people who apparently don't give a damn about maimed and killed small children, right?

Posted by Tom at 10:15 a.m. CDT


Paul Krugman really hits it out of the park today:

So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?

Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship. One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking,"What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.

After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?

You know, I think Krugman just might be onto something here, don't you?

The sad thing is that, as I've said many times, if the economy turns around, no one will care.

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

JEFF COOPER IS... 06-23-03

back and, of course, he has a great post up. Go read it.

I just got back from the swim meet sixty miles away over rolling hills in Hamburg.

I'm tired, sunburned, and starving.

That's probably it for me today.

Posted by Tom at 10:14 p.m. CDT


Josh spanks a poor clueless intern who somebody at NRO thought knew enough about the Texas mess to write a column on it.

He didn't.

Josh is right, this piece is just error-filled and simply a regurgitation of Tom DeLay's office's talking points.

A bit of advice for the young whipper-snapper in question: if you're going to write something, it's always a good idea to actually do some research first so that you know what the heck you're talking about.

For a bit more sadistic fun, read Kevin's spanking of Insty who, yet again, didn't read something he linked to.

It's called laziness folks. I don't think Glenn reads half of what he links to these days.

Glenn does sound awfully desperate these days spinning the pro-war myths and legends, doesn't he?

I'm headed out to watch a swim meet folks. I won't be serving as a timer since this is an away meet in the lovely town of Hamburg, Iowa.

I won't be in until tonight sometime. I'll post more then -- probably.

Posted by Tom at 2:56 p.m. CDT

THANKS FOLKS! 06-23-03

A short while ago, I had my 260,000th visitor via Media Whores Online.

It's been about a week since I had my quarter millionth visitor. I've also had nearly 375,000 hits as well since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always, I appreciate your stopping by. I hope you come back -- and often!

Posted by Tom at 12:18 p.m. CDT


since IraqWar Part II started is right here.

Here's my favorite:

April 10 (3 p.m. EDT: Reporter Rick Leventhal) Fox"Breaking News" report: A mobile bioweapons lab is found. Video of a tiny tan truck—about the size of the smallest truck that U-Haul rents – which had its cargo bed and fuel tank shot up with bullets after a looter tried to drive it away. Repeated assertions that this is most definitely a"bioweapons" lab. A graphic sequence is shown of a large Winnebago-type vehicle that is massive compared to the tiny truck found. The irony of this escapes the Fox newscasters and defense"experts."

[This was the first"bioweapons lab" found, not the larger one later found in Mosul. A week later it is briefly conceded that the tiny truck was probably never a bio weapons lab, but promises that real ones will pour forth from the landscape continue. The second phantom lab, a large tractor-trailer truck was discovered around May 2 by Kurdish fighters.]

And, honestly, how many times did O'Reilly say that WMDs were vitally important to the administration's credibility? And how many times, with no WMDs in sight, did O'Reilly have to backtrack?

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

JIMMY BRESLIN IS... 06-23-03

a bit annoyed about our government's new practice of secret arrests, secret trials, and secret sentences.

I'm with Jimmy.

This administration, especially John Ashcroft, has more or less wiped itself with the Constitution. It's sickening.

History is not going to treat these folks well, let me promise you that.

Posted by Tom at 9:05 a.m. CDT


Art Silber is talking about imperialism again.

I haven't said much about this in a while because it's so obvious W and the boys are imperialists now. It's amazing how this argument essentially went from insane delusion on my part to conventional wisdom, at least in the lefty blogosphere, since I first said it more than three months ago.

I mean, heck, what else explains the flimsy Spanish-American War-style contrived case for war from this administration, after all? Although, admittedly, McKinley had a great deal more support for his war than W did. If you recall, the public was absolutely evenly split on the eve of the war between continuing inspections and pursuing war against Iraq. McKinley was on much more solid ground than that in pursuing his war.

And, if you recall, McKinley's war was also followed by a nightmare of an occupation that was worse than the war itself (in the Philippines).

(For a review, go here, here, here, and here.)

Posted by Tom at 2:38 p.m. CDT


As the Pentagon scours Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to Al Qaeda, it's increasingly obvious that the Bush Administration either distorted or deliberately exaggerated the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq. But an even bigger intelligence scandal is waiting in the wings: the fact that members of the Administration failed to produce an intelligence evaluation of what Iraq might look like after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Instead, they ignored fears expressed by analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department who predicted that postwar Iraq would be chaotic, violent and ungovernable, and that Iraqis would greet the occupying armies with firearms, not flowers.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, it turns out that the same people are responsible for both. According to current and former US intelligence analysts and government officials, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans funneled information, unchallenged, from Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who in turn passed it on to the White House, suggesting that Iraqis would welcome the American invaders. The Office of Special Plans is led by Abram Shulsky, a hawkish neoconservative ideologue who got his start in politics working alongside Elliott Abrams in Senator Henry"Scoop" Jackson's office in the 1970s. It was set up in fall 2001 as a two-man shop, but it burgeoned into an eighteen-member nerve center of the Pentagon's effort to distort intelligence about Iraq's WMDs and terrorist connections. A great deal of the bad information produced by Shulsky's office, which found its way into speeches by Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, came from Chalabi's INC. Since the INC itself was sustained by its neocon allies in Washington, including the shadow"Central Command" at the American Enterprise Institute, it stands as perhaps the ultimate example of circular reasoning.

"The same unit [the Office of Special Plans] that fed Chalabi's intelligence on WMD to Rumsfeld was also feeding him Chalabi's stuff on the prospects for postwar Iraq," said a leading US government expert on the Middle East. Says a former US ambassador with strong links to the CIA:"There was certainly information coming from the Iraqi exile community, including Chalabi--who was detested by the CIA and by the State Department--saying, 'They will welcome you with open arms.'" Rumsfeld's willingness to accept that view led him to contradict the Chief of Staff of the US Army, who predicted that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to control Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, a view that seems prescient today.

Can you imagine how hacked off the folks in the Pentagon, who told Rumsfeld, Cheney and W it would be like this and they would need many more soldiers for peacekeeping, are today?

So now, as I said earlier, we have two different major examples of either mendacity or incompetence (or both) on the part of the administration.

Now, honestly folks, why is it that people want to vote for these guys?

[Link via MaxSpeak]

Posted by Tom at 8:36 a.m. CDT

DIGBY IS... 06-21-03



Now that Digby's back, Jeff, where are you?

Posted by Tom at 8:26 p.m. CDT


Yep. You read that right. W is now claiming that thousands of gallons of chemical weapons and nerve agents were stolen by looters!

``For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address.
Oh, now how damn lame -- and hilarious -- is that?

Surely they don't expect anyone to buy this do they?

I mean other than the mouth-breathers who check their brains at the door whenever W opens his mouth of course.

They'd believe W if he told them the moon is made of green cheese and that Mars is made of Tic-Tacs but that's for another post.

[Link via Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making Light]

FYI: Both Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blogs have also just been added to the blogroll. I've been meaning to do that for weeks!

Posted by Tom at 7:04 p.m. CDT


Read this story.

I'll wait. Go read it.

Okay, now I can continue.

You know, we've spent all this time talking about the obvious lies, er,"exaggerations" is the politically correct term right now, that W, Dick, Condi, and Colin told us about the threat Iraq posed to us and the world to sell the war.

However, no one has said much about the lies told to us about the commitment of soldiers for peacekeeping and the astonishing amount of money (probably hundreds of billions of dollars before it's all over) the longterm peacekeeping in Iraq would cost. If you recall, W and the boys told us this would be a relatively short-term operation and apparently, as the article recounts, they even told the soldiers they'd be home by July 4th. Can you imagine how pissed off these guys must be right now?

Now, clearly there are two possibilities here, either the administration lied to us about how long we'd be in Iraq and what it would cost or they were utterly incompetent and didn't really know. Either possibility isn't exactly reassuring, is it?

I actually suspect it's a bit of both. In order to sell the war they downplayed the costs of post-war Iraq and, given the incompetent way the country has been administrated since the end of the war, I'm not sure there was much of a plan.

Regardless, once it was a fait accompli, W and the boys knew they'd be able to wring whatever it would cost out of congress, so they just didn't sweat it. Administration officials also knew in February and March that if Americans knew the hundreds of billions of dollars this was going to cost our $400 to 600 billion per year deficit-spending government over what some administration officials now say will be a ten-year occupation, they'd be reticent to support it.

And it's at times like these that I can't help but remember all the bullshit W and the boys said during the 2000 campaign about how Clinton and liberals didn't really care about our soldiers.

Hell, I don't remember Clinton ever stationing hundreds of thousands of our soldiers in harm's way on a never-ending peacekeeping mission in a country he'd been personally responsible for giving the order to destroy, do you? I'm sorry folks but Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Somalia were child's play compared to the Iraq occupation. And, I might remind you, that the U.N. supported us in these operations and, correspondingly, provided troops and helped with the cost of peacekeeping. Because we went it alone, we won't get any such help with Iraq.

I can't help but wonder aloud about who the hell it is that really cares about the troops. W clearly doesn't really give a damn about them or he wouldn't be so cavalier with their lives (the deaths in Iraq over the last few days are"militarily insignificant" according to his administration -- tell that to their families) and he sure as hell wouldn't have pursued a war and an astonishingly half-assed peace that has left them in such a dangerous situation.

I also can't help but remember righty bloggers before the war who accused all of us who were against the war of being unpatriotic and not caring about the troops. It appears that we cared more than you guys did. Unfortunately, the"peace" such as it is has turned out just as chaotic and awful as I thought it would.

Righty bloggers, if you guys had cared as much about our soldiers as the lefties did, you wouldn't have supported this fool's errand of a war that has led, predictably, to what can only be described as the peace from hell.

Posted by Tom at 3:31 p.m. CDT


This is hilarious -- although it makes me want to recheck all of my links to make sure I haven't been caught unaware like"Mr. Moral" Orrin Hatch was.

I've been serving as a timer at a four hour swim meet (warm-ups were at 7:30) this morning. It was fun but I'm tired.

I'll blog more but I have to recover a bit.

Posted by Tom at 12:58 p.m. CDT


Welcome Billmon and Needlenose to the blogroll.

They're both excellent blogs, very deserving of their place on the old blogroll. I can't recommend them highly enough.

BTW, I'm not sure I understand this blogshares thing (there are good reasons I'm not a stockbroker) but the value and share price of this blog has gone up astonishingly over the last month or so.

I don't know, I'm guessing it's a good sign.

Is it?

Posted by Tom at 9:05 p.m. CDT


As Morat tells us in a damned fine bit of analysis it's so the mouth-breathing, far-right, and unelectable-without-more-than-a-2-1-partisan-advantage loon candidates can actually win elections:

It's why the GOP is acting desperate. It's right there, in black and white. All you need is one tiny bit of information. This bit. Which is a breakdown, by US Congressional district of voting in Texas during 2002. I've got a nice table here of some of the more interesting results. The current breakdown in the House is 17 Democrats, 15 Republicans. Tom DeLay's plan (what he thinks is"fair" given Texas' partisan breakdown) is 20 GOP, 12 Democrat.

In 6 of the 17 districts, a Democrat was elected to the House despite the district voting for the GOP candidates for Senator, Governor and Lt. Governor. What would cause that? Unelectable GOP Candidates. Texas didn't send more Democrats to Congress because of gerrymandered districts, as DeLay and Perry would have you believe, but because the GOP candidates running in 6 House districts were such poor candidates that voters chose a Democrat instead...despite showing a clear preference for GOP politicians. Check the table. They're showing swings of up to twenty percent. How bad does your candidate have to be to lose twenty percent?

Tom DeLay and Karl Rove aren't just trying to get more Republicans in Congress. They're trying to rig Texas so that even the worst, the most unpopular GOP candidates can win.


The GOP's far right wing is apparently getting tired of empty promises and political calculation, and is starting to push candidates they can trust to enact their agenda. No more running to the right, only to move to the middle. They want candidates who will stay on the far right all the time. The only problem is the very extremism that wins them primaries kills them in the election. Independents won't vote for them. Even moderate Republicans are often scared off.


Which brings us to Tom's plan. In order to elect GOP extremists, you need heavily GOP districts. 60% isn't going to cut it, because 10 to 15% of that 60% simply can't be counted on to vote"the right way" for the more extreme candidates, and you can bet the other 40% is going to be voting Democratic out of sheer terror.

They're already losing Republican districts because their base is nominating more and more unelectable candidates. And so, in true Rove fashion, the solution isn't to nominate electable candidates, but to bend and break the rules to force those candidates in. Even if the majority of the populace is against it. It's all about power. Getting it, but more important this time, holding on.

That, my friends, is as brilliant an analysis of voting trends in a state as I've seen.

Would that our so-called-media-experts were capable of anything this good. Go read the whole post.

Great job Morat.

Posted by Tom at 4:38 p.m. CDT


If you have any respect left for Kenneth Pollack after reading this excuse-filled up-is-down and black-is-white op-ed, you're a better person than I am. Heck, knowing no shame apparently, Pollack even throws around some more exaggerated intelligence information in this op-ed!

Pollack and others who warned us of the dangers of Saddam's government before the war look like damned fools now and, judging from the defensive tone of this editorial, Pollack knows that. Pollack's book was used by hawks of all stripes to argue that even liberals wanted war with Iraq. (For more on Pollack's book, go to a couple of posts from March here and here.)

Honestly, folks, there's no particular reason to listen to this guy again. BTW, there is at least one bit of wisdom in this overly-long piece:

Nor can we allow our consideration of weapons of mass destruction and politicized intelligence to be a distraction from the most important task at hand: rebuilding Iraq. History may forgive the United States if we don't find the arsenal we thought we would. No one will forgive us if we botch the reconstruction and leave Iraq a worse mess than we found it.
That's certainly true. However, it is due to the folly of hawks like Pollack that Iraq is in this shape in the first place. And, as I've said many times, it currently is in worse shape than we found it and I see no hope that it will improve any time soon.

Posted by Tom at 12:39 p.m. CDT


This entire thing about George Galloway, the Labour Party MP who allegedly took money from Saddam Hussein, is odd. The Christian Science Monitor has issued an apology and claimed the story that it wrote alleging Galloway had accepted $10M from Saddam Hussein was based on forged documents.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph, a right-wing British newspaper, stands by its allegations that Galloway accepted a smaller sum of money from Hussein. Most experts believe the documents the Telegraph used for its story were genuine.

However, this all raises numerous questions about the reliability of any of these documents -- and the suspicious manner in which they were found by a right-wing newspaper correspondent in the rubble of the Iraqi intelligence agency. ThisGuardian story from April judiciously asks the right questions and suggests this may have just been a scam on the part of corrupt Iraqi intelligence agents:

But even if the documents are genuine it must be remembered that the information they contain may be false. Middlemen or Iraqi intelligence officers might have used Mr Galloway as an excuse to pocket money themselves.

A classic scam by intelligence officers is to explain the need for money by pointing to the demands of an innocent third party.

In truth, the full story of the Galloway documents may not be known for many years.

I don't know if this is the case but this is as plausible explanation as any I've seen so far as to what's really going on here.

And, as the article notes, in the past the intelligence services in Britain have been known to smear prominent critics of British foreign policy with false claims that they were Soviet agents that suspiciously appear in right-wing British newspapers like the Telegraph.

If you want to learn more about this story, click some of the links in the"related stories" section at the bottom of the Guardian stories.

I just thought I'd share this strange story with you.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 a.m. CDT


Now this is a first-rate article by John B. Judis and Spencer Ackerman on how W and the boys lied to us, cooked the intelligence books and hyped the intelligence information. If you want to really know about this, it is a must-read. It is carefully argued and damning.

This article amply demonstrates carefully and reasonably that W and the boys knew the intelligence was much more iffy but, intelligence be damned, they had to sell their war. And there are numerous moments in this article where you will get very angry when you realize the whoppers they were telling.

I can't help but lose every bit of respect I had for Condi Rice and Colin Powell when I read this article and discover how many times they knowingly told lies. They've sold their souls to the devil folks and are no longer worthy of your respect.

I'll give you the conclusion here (it is a rather long article but worth every minute):

"What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat," Cheney instructed a Nashville gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002,"is give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness." Cheney's admonition is resonant, but not for the reasons he intended. The Bush administration displayed an acute case of willful blindness in making its case for war. Much of its evidence for a reconstituted nuclear program, a thriving chemical-biological development program, and an active Iraqi link with Al Qaeda was based on what intelligence analysts call"rumint." Says one former official with the National Security Council,"It was a classic case of rumint, rumor-intelligence plugged into various speeches and accepted as gospel."

In some cases, the administration may have deliberately lied. If Bush didn't know the purported uranium deal between Iraq and Niger was a hoax, plenty of people in his administration did--including, possibly, Vice President Cheney, who would have seen the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Rice and Rumsfeld also must have known that the aluminum tubes that they presented as proof of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were discounted by prominent intelligence experts. And, while a few administration officials may have genuinely believed that there was a strong connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, most probably knew they were constructing castles out of sand.

The Bush administration took office pledging to restore"honor and dignity" to the White House. And it's true: Bush has not gotten caught having sex with an intern or lying about it under oath. But he has engaged in a pattern of deception concerning the most fundamental decisions a government must make. The United States may have been justified in going to war in Iraq--there were, after all, other rationales for doing so--but it was not justified in doing so on the national security grounds that President Bush put forth throughout last fall and winter. He deceived Americans about what was known of the threat from Iraq and deprived Congress of its ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the country to war.

The most serious institutional casualty of the administration's campaign may have been the intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA. Some of the CIA's intelligence simply appears to have been defective, perhaps innocently so. Durbin says the CIA's classified reports contained extensive maps where chemical or biological weapons could be found. Since the war, these sites have not yielded evidence of any such weapons. But the administration also turned the agency--and Tenet in particular--into an advocate for the war with Iraq at a time when the CIA's own classified analyses contradicted the public statements of the agency and its director. Did Tenet really fact-check Bush's warning that Iraq could threaten the United States with UAVs? Did he really endorse Powell's musings on the links between Al Qaeda and Saddam? Or had Tenet and his agency by then lost any claim to the intellectual honesty upon which U.S. foreign policy critically depends--particularly in an era of preemptive war?

Democrats such as Durbin, Graham, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, who has become the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, are now pressing for a full investigation into intelligence estimates of the Iraqi threat. This would entail public hearings with full disclosure of documents and guarantees of protection for witnesses who come forward to testify. But it is not likely to happen. Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, initially called for public hearings but recanted after Cheney visited a GOP senators' lunch on June 4. Cheney, according to Capitol Hill staffers, told his fellow Republicans to block any investigation, and it looks likely they will comply. Under pressure from Democrats, Roberts, the new Intelligence Committee chairman, has finally agreed to a closed-door hearing but not to a public or private investigation. According to Durbin, the Republican plan is to stall in the hope that the United States finds sufficient weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to quiet the controversy.

The controversy might, indeed, go away. Democrats don't have the power to call hearings, and, apart from Graham and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are treating the issue delicately given the public's overwhelming support for the war. But there are worse things than losing an election by going too far out on a political limb--namely, failing to defend the integrity of the country's foreign policy and its democratic institutions. It may well be that, in the not-too-distant future, preemptive military action will become necessary--perhaps against a North Korea genuinely bent on incinerating Seoul or a nuclear Pakistan that has fallen into the hands of radical Islamists. In such a case, we the people will look to our leaders for an honest assessment of the threat. But, next time, thanks to George W. Bush, we may not believe them until it is too late.

Go read this article. You can then say you know what you're talking about and the drooling right-wing dittoheads in the blogosphere are full of, well, you-know-what.

Posted by Tom at 7:17 p.m. CDT


Film at 11:

Look, you got remember that if Washington D.C. were size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month. And it is -- there's going to be violence in a big city. It’s five and a half million people. For the most part, it's in that area I described. That's where the active -- and it tends not to be, at this stage, random killings. It's not the kind of rioting you saw on television last night in Michigan, or that type of thing. What you're seeing instead is what we believe is purposeful attacks against coalition forces as opposed to simply crime and that type of thing.
Don't you just love it when Rumsfeld says something absolutely outrageous and the press pretends not to notice?

See other wisecracks about this from TBogg (permalinks bloggered, scroll down to"Get the Desert Hat..."), Billmon, and Kos.

My favorite is this from TBogg:

Yeah, there's a lot of those rocket-launched grenade murders out front of the Georgetown Brentano's every Saturday night.

Just when you think that John Ashcroft is the slimiest Republican to crawl out of the primordial ooze, up comes the smell of swamp gas from an oily gas bubble followed by the lizard-eyed Donald Rumsfeld as he slithers onto the shore.

And this from Kos is, I'm afraid to say, dead-on:

Sadly, both Rummy and Wolfowitz still labor under the delusion that opposition stems from"small elements" of a"dying regime". They trumpet rounding up 500 or 700"baathists", yet see no real reduction in our casualty rates. They capture"high ranking" officials, to little net effect.

This is still low-intensity resistance. The shit will hit the fan. It's coming. It's only a matter of time.


If you recall, I blogged about our propensity to see this violence as only coming from Saddam's supporters here.

Posted by Tom at 4:49 p.m. CDT


As a historian, I've been following the Jessica Lynch story with a combination of disgust and fascination over the last few weeks. As Needlenose reminds us, the first version of this story that involved all the heroism and valor is, to put it simply, an out-and-out propagandistic lie that the Washington Post's Sue Schmidt should be ashamed for disseminating without any sort of verification. All we heard about at the time was how heroic Lynch was and how wonderful it was that she was rescued by a special forces team from the Iraqis who were holding her in a gulag-like hospital.

The real story is quite a bit different. Poor Jessica was essentially involved in a serious vehicular accident (her Humvee ran into an overturned truck in her convoy at a very high rate of speed). Jessica woke up a few days later in an Iraqi hospital where, it appears, they took good care of her. In fact, it appears the made-for-tv rescue was apparentlyunnecessary as the folks in the hospital had even tried to return her to a group of American soldiers the prior day. Poor Jessica can't remember much if anything about it at all. She apparently was unconscious for nearly the entire thing.

The most interesting part of the story is that of the Iraqi who apparently made up a story and has profited from it enormously:

Within a few days of her capture, U.S. military and intelligence agencies would learn from several Iraqis in Nasiriyah that one of the 507th soldiers was being held captive at Saddam Hussein hospital.

One of those Iraqis was Mohammed Odeh Rehaief, a 32-year-old lawyer who told U.S. authorities he learned about Lynch on March 27, when he went there to see his wife, Iman, a nurse in the kidney unit.

"In the hospital corridors, I observed a large number of Fedayeen Saddam," Rehaief recounted in a statement."I knew they were Fedayeen because they were wearing their traditional black ninja-style uniforms that covered everything but their eyes. I also saw high army officials there."

Rehaief said a doctor friend told him about Lynch. He peered through a glass panel into her room, he said, and"saw a large man in black looming over a bed that contained a small bandaged woman with blond hair."

There were epaulets on the man's shirt, indicating he was a Fedayeen officer, Rahaief said."He appeared to be questioning the woman through a translator. Then I saw him slap her -- first with the palm of his hand, then with the back of his hand."

When the Fedayeen officer left, Rehaief said, he crept into Lynch's room and told her he would help her."Don't worry," he said. He then walked east across Nasiriyah, where he encountered a group of Marines and told them about Lynch.

The Marines -- who corroborated Rehaief's story that he assisted them -- sent him back to the hospital several times to map out access to the site and the route getting there, and to count the number of Iraqi troops inside.

The staff of the civilian hospital believes Rehaief did tell the Marines about Lynch, but some nurses and doctors disputed other parts of his story.

The head nurse of the hospital said there is no nurse named Iman employed by the facility, or any nurse married to a lawyer."This is something we would know," she said.

"Never happened," Hassona said. Men in black slapping Lynch?"That's some Hollywood crap you'd tell the Americans." Hassona said he suspected the lawyer embellished his story.

After the rescue, Rehaief and his wife were transported by U.S. forces to a military camp in Kuwait. Rahaief, along with his wife and daughter, was granted political asylum in the United States. He is living in Northern Virginia, working on a book for HarperCollins and with NBC for a television movie on the rescue.

That last bit in this article is misleading. The Republican Mighty Wurlitzer takes care of those whose lies, or I guess the current term is"exaggerations," have propagandistic purposes. Rehaief has now been hired by Bob Livingston (yes, the adulterer Bob Livingston who was Speaker of the House until he was exposed during the Clinton impeachment witchhunt) to work for his top lobbying firm, the Livingston Group. I can't help but wonder what sort of job Rehaief has gotten over there. Does he even have to work? Is this one of those lovely Republican jobs where you don't really have to do anything? He's not listed as part of the"team" on the Livingston website anywhere.

Of course, as I'm sure you all know, the latest bizarre part of this saga is how the networks are falling all over themselves trying to get interviews with Lynch, even offering thinly-veiled cash inducements like book deals for it. I mean, heck, it doesn't matter that the entire story of heroism and mistreatment at the hands of Iraqis has been debunked, they want to get some of that"Jessica Lynch magic" on their network.

Now, honestly, how weird can it get? It doesn't matter that the whole story was essentially fiction fed to the media by Rove's Mighty Wurlitzer that they should be embarrassed about disseminating, the networks want it anyway. I honestly feel sorry for Lynch. However, to her and her family's credit, she is keeping quiet about the whole affair. She is, after all, recovering from very severe injuries.

But what is Lynch ultimately going to get out of it? 15 minutes of fame? Less? Will she get as good a deal as Rehaief, the now-identified liar, got? I can't help but remember what Stephen Colbert said on the Daily Show last night (I'm paraphrasing):"She's got a great chance to become the next, um, what's that guy's name...you know...the guy shot down over Bosnia a few years ago?" That's exactly the point. Even if Lynch can strike it rich in the short term, Americans have awfully short memories.

I do hope Lynch can parlay some of that network cash into something of longterm use to her like, say, a college education or something -- something that has a longer term future than"I'm the young woman who was rescued from that hospital and I remember nothing about it."

This whole thing has just gotten too weird for me not to comment on it.

It's just astonishing that stories like this, that are demonstrably false propaganda from the Mighty Wurlitzer, are pursued relentlessly by the SCLM while important stuff like the chaos that exists in Iraq, is largely ignored.

Posted by Tom at 12:50 p.m. CDT


here. I must say that I'd be tougher on W and the boys than this but it's a good column nonetheless.

Debate No. 2 was an entirely different story. Here, the administration was clearly in kitchen-sink territory. The Iraqis were close to getting a nuke. (Remember Condi’s line — “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” — and Dick Cheney’s wild-eyed predictions.) They were tight with al Qaeda. They were developing horrible and unimaginable new bacteriological agents. They might be doing this; they might be doing that. Might, might, might!

It’s not so much that the administration was lying — as in saying things it knew to be false — as it was happy to pass along or credit almost anything anybody said no matter how speculative the theory or how flimsy the evidence: uncorroborated tales from defectors, crackpot theories from think-tank denizens, worst-case-scenario speculations, anything.


The deal was that all of the more ridiculous and far-fetched statements would be forgiven and forgotten so long as we found a good stash of chemicals and biologicals. It was only after even that stuff didn’t turn up that folks gave a long second thought to what top administration officials had been peddling.

So let’s not kid ourselves by pretending there’s some new debate about whether the White House hyped and misled the public about the scope of Iraqi WMD or an al Qaeda link. We knew that.

The real question is whether top administration officials hyped and misled themselves too, and why so many otherwise sensible people went so long pretending this wasn’t a problem.

As I said, I'd be tougher on them than this but the main point -- that the press ignored the administration's rather obvious overstatements in the rush to war -- is valid.

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

SHAMELESS 06-19-03

This is shameless.

Governor Goodhair and Texas Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

Tom DeLay is now running Texas.

Great. Just great.

Posted by Tom at 7:24 a.m. CDT

MORAT GETS IT... 06-18-03

just right (permalinks bloggered, go down to"It's Nice They Admitted It..."):

This better be a rallying cry. They just flat out admitted that their goal is to rid the US of Social Security, of Medicare, of Medicaid, of unemployment insurance, of school lunches, of federal education money, of college loans....of everything that isn't the military or subsidies for businesses.

It shouldn't just be a rallying cry for liberals, or Democrats...but moderates, the elderly, anyone who fell for 'compassionate conservative'. They're trying to eradicate programs most of America wants, and they've grown so arrogant they're not even trying to lie to you anymore.

So what are you going to do about it?


Posted by Tom at 5:49 p.m. CDT

TIM LAMBERT... 06-18-03

in this post essentially destroys the argument in the central chapter of John Lott's new book, The Bias Against Guns.

My goodness. Tim Lambert apparently does a better job of research and argumentation in an afternoon of blogging than John Lott, the AEI fellowship-supported scholar, does in a chapter of his new book which, presumably, took a lot longer than an afternoon to write.

Is that enough, gun"enthusiasts," to raise serious questions about Lott now?

Or will you continue to sound like Bellesiles's supporters did, defending him in the face of mounting evidence of, at the very least, sloppy scholarship and econometric modeling, but very possibly out-and-out fraud?

However, if you recall, most of Bellesiles's supporters stopped defending him after the WMQ forum was published, which raised significant questions about Bellesiles's work.

There have been numerous similar revelations about Lott in the last six months but you folks continue to defend him.


Posted by Tom at 3:05 p.m. CDT


for W's good buddy Alberto Gonzales just went right down the toilet.

[Link via Leah at Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 12:29 p.m. CDT


Now this is excellent. This guy could have a great job playing Dennis Miller -- a better job than Dennis is himself these days!

This certainly sounds like the Miller rant I'd love to hear (but sadly won't):

DENNIS MILLER (1988): We were all scared when those planes swan-dived into the towers, OK? But what separates real Americans from the faux variety is that real Americans don't turn in their spines to the hatcheck lady in times of stress. People in this country today hear the word terrorist and immediately snap into action -- which means locking themselves in the loo, defecating on the Constitution and using the Bill of Rights to wipe their ass. We're made of better stuff than that, and all the shrieking Rush Limbaughs in the world are not worth one brave man who will stand up and say,"hey, the emperor is starkers, and besides that, he wants all of Yemen's oil." I wasn't around, but I'm pretty sure the guys at Valley Forge weren't eating sautéed rat three times a day so that a future president could attempt a three-point landing on an aircraft carrier moored three miles off the coast of Catalina Island. We have to respond to terrorism, but the problem is that we're running around like the lynch mob in The Ox-Bow Incident, and when Hank Fonda stands up and says we got the wrong guy, Jane Darwell whacks him on the head with a gun butt and the next thing you know you wake up behind barbed wire at Guantanamo. All I'm saying is that it's time to scrap the Merle Haggard diplomacy, OK? Oh, and the reason we haven't found any weapons of mass destruction is that they're all in a warehouse in Topeka waiting for the next right-wing militia asshat to work his hatred of the federal government to a sufficient boiling point due to the fact that the local TV station has once again cancelled Dukes of Hazzard. While we're running around the world like Barney Fife at a jaywalkers convention, it's good to know that our schools are shit, our economy is floundering, and they'll have universal health care in Kabul before we have it here. The only good thing to come out of this is that Ari Fleischer took the honorable way out before Bush made him put on the jaunty Iraqi Minister of Information beret and tell us the moon is made of Sonoma Dry Jack. Ah fuck it, where's my propeller beanie?
Too bad Miller's become so lame. We could really use something like this about now. Well, I'd love to hear something like this right now.

Oh well.

[Link via TBogg]

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


Here's Gene Lyons' latest column:

Damage Control at The New York Times

Consumer alert: another Whitewater column, hopefully my last. Two weeks ago, I challenged New York Times editors to acknowledge a 1996 article with a fake Associated Press byline describing non-existent “FBI testimony” about an imaginary “$50,000 benefit” to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Because they have no answer, I expected none.

Even amid a national uproar over the newspaper’s practices, I also knew our esteemed press corps would avert its eyes. It’s an unwritten law of contemporary punditry that evidence of journalism’s ethical meltdown during the “Clinton scandals” must be ignored or shouted down with references to oral sex and accusations of sycophancy. Hence the pattern described by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz regarding my friend Sidney Blumenthal’s book “The Clinton Wars”: respectful reviews by historians, shrill personal attacks by Washington journalists.

Writing in New York Review of Books, former New York Times editor Joseph Lelyveld accused Blumenthal of ducking several sensitive issues. Joe Conason cited quotes and page references proving him wrong. This column listed egregious Whitewater errors. Now Blumenthal has challenged Lelyveld to explain why key exculpatory evidence about the Whitewater “psuedoscandal” failed to appear in The Times. (See their exchange at nybooks.com/articles/16431.)

Specifically, Blumenthal asks why The Times all but hid the 1995 Pillsbury Report’s conclusion that the Clintons were innocent of Whitewater wrongdoing. Also whether Lelyveld ever saw memos written by former Arkansas Securities Commissioner Beverly Bassett Schaffer to Times reporter Jeff Gerth previous to his original 1992 article “which set forth facts undermining [its] chief premise” that Whitewater was a “sweetheart deal” helping a shady operator win favors from state government.

To evade the first question, Lelyveld uses Conason’s and my book The Hunting of the President as a straw man. He claims we falsely wrote that The Times ignored the report altogether, implicitly leading Blumenthal astray. But Blumenthal didn't say that and neither does our book, which Lelyveld cannot have read. It pointedly criticizes The Times’ coverage, although we did get a date wrong, mistakenly writing that “no word of the Pillsbury Report’s findings would appear in the New YorkTimes until January 16, 1996.”

The corrected date was July 16, 1995. Headlined “Documents Show Clintons Got Vast Benefit from Partner,” the article soft-pedaled the RTC’s findings that the Clintons had told the truth about Whitewater. Confusing a corporation with a partnership, it suggested they ought to have lost more than the $43,192 they did lose. No hint of how poor McDougal, mentally ill and hurtling toward bankruptcy, mismanaged the company for his own purposes and deceived them about it. What The Times also neglected to report, Blumenthal notes, was prosecutor Ray Jahn’s closing argument at McDougal’s trial saying essentially the same thing.

As to Schaffer, Lelyveld dismisses her as an inconsequential figure, then launches a shameful attack upon her motives and actions. It’s tempting to wonder if Gerth actually wrote it. He asserts that she represented Madison Guaranty as a private attorney before becoming a state regulator. That’s false. She informed Gerth in writing that the S&L was never her client, and she’d never met Jim McDougal. (Schaffer’s memos are reprinted in my 1996 book Fools for Scandal.)

So why didn’t The Times ever report Schaffer’s 1987 effort to persuade federal regulators to close Madison’s doors? Because, Lelyveld writes, she’d taken no action until after the Feds kicked McDougal out on July 11, 1986: “From 1984 to 1986 Ms. Schaffer had the power to suspend McDougal herself and didn’t use it while Madison Guaranty flirted with insolvency.”

This is doubly false. Schaffer took office in 1985, months after federal and state regulators settled a disputed 1984 audit with Madison. After the next audit in 1986, her office helped give McDougal the heave-ho. “At the [July 11, 1986] meeting,” she wrote Gerth, “we jointly confronted the Board with the findings of self-dealing and insider abuse….It was a long and confrontational meeting. The Madison Guaranty Board members appeared stunned.”

I confirmed Schaffer’s account with Federal Home Loan Bank Board officials quoted in Fools for Scandal. Oddly, The Times never did.

Almost everything Lelyveld writes partakes of similar question-begging. Did Schaffer, for example, “approve two novel proposals to help the savings and loan that were offered by Hillary Clinton?” His argument rests upon an ironically “Clintonian” ambiguity about the meaning of “approve.” Schaffer confronted Madison with a regulatory Catch-22. She agreed it would be LEGAL for the S & L to sell preferred stock, but mandated due diligence requirements it could not meet. Hence Mrs. Clinton’s “novel” ideas, suggested by federal regulators to begin with, died aborning.

“If anything,” the Pillsbury Report concluded“ Arkansas regulators took a more aggressive position toward Madison Guaranty than did the FHLBB [Federal Home Loan Bank Board].”

Instead of launching scorched-earth attacks on TheTimes’ critics, Mr. Lelyveld, recently reappointed to edit the nation’s most indispensable newspaper, needs to put his own house in order.

Posted by Tom at 10:28 a.m. CDT


Bob Scheer's column is pretty good today:

Call it the"Case of the Phantom Uranium." It starts with a document, later exposed by United Nations inspectors as a crude forgery, that was sold by an African diplomat to Italian intelligence, which passed it to the British. It seemed to implicate Saddam Hussein in an attempt to buy uranium from Africa. This apparently proved too juicy a tidbit for the hawks in the Bush administration to resist. They knew that the specter of Iraqi nukes — which U.N. inspectors would establish as baseless — would scare Americans much more than talk of mustard gas, and scaring Americans is this administration's M.O.

Thus in his 2003 State of the Union address, the president intoned that"the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." Scary stuff. Problem was, the document was signed by an official who had given up his post a decade earlier, and the CIA had told the White House the story did not check out.

On Friday, the Knight Ridder newspaper chain reported that, according to a senior CIA official, on March 9, 2002, a full 10 months before the speech, the White House was duly informed that an investigation, including an agent traveling to Africa to verify the story, had found no basis for the document. Three senior administration officials told the Knight Ridder reporter that Vice President Dick Cheney and officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon ignored the CIA's reservations and argued that the allegation should be included in the case against Hussein.

This is just one example of the administration's manipulation of intelligence in justifying a war that already has killed thousands of people and continues to take the lives of several Americans each week. It is exceedingly odd that the same congressional Republicans who impeached Bill Clinton for dissembling in a sexual scandal find none of this worthy of a full public hearing. To pacify a growing number of critics, they have instead scheduled a secret and limited inquiry.

Perhaps the Republicans think they can stall until fragments of evidence of weapons of mass destruction are found, which would clear Bush's name. However, that won't do the trick. The president persistently claimed that the war was necessitated by the imminent threat of deployed weapons —"a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles," as the president put it, capable of dispersing a huge existing arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, including"missions targeting the United States."

Instead, almost three months after we invaded Iraq, the United States and Britain have yet to find anything of the sort.

"Frankly, we expected to find large warehouses full of chemical or biological weapons, or delivery systems," Army Col. John Connell, who heads the hunt for those AWOL weapons in Iraq, said in Sunday's Los Angeles Times."At this point, we're getting fairly sure we're not going to find a full-up production facility. We're going to find little pieces."

We now know that the threat of deployed WMD was a blatant falsehood. What has not been established is whether the president was in on the lie. If he was, he should be impeached.

It's hard to find fault with the reasoning there. If lying about a blowjob rises to a"high crime" then certainly lying about intelligence information to convince the country to go to war would certainly rise to that point as well. Since the Republicans"lowered the bar" for impeachment a few years back, this one now easily qualifies.

On a related note, Atrios reminds us what congressional Republicans said about presidential lies back in 1998 and 1999.

Posted by Tom at 10:18 a.m. CDT


Here's a very interesting piece about how W's lies and deceptions may represent a new political paradigm.

Here's a bit of it:

For the rest of the world, the broad American disconnect from reality must be unnerving, given the awesome power of the U.S. military arsenal. What does it mean when the most powerful nation on earth chooses fantasy over truth? What are the consequences when an American president realizes he can broadly falsify the factual record and get away with it?

The answers to these questions could decide the future of the American democratic experiment and determine the future safety of the world.

If the American people don’t demand accountability for the lies that led to war, a new political paradigm may be created. Bush may conclude that he is free to make any life-or-death decision and then unleash his conservative allies to manipulate the facts and intimidate the opposition. By inaction, the American people may be sleepwalking down a path that takes them into a land controlled by lies, delusion and fear.

And, apparently, the administration can just ride out the storm on its lies and deceptions regarding Iraq.

Isn't it amazing that a White House was turned upside down because of a blowjob five years ago but these guys just brazenly say"who cares whether we lied or not in making our case for war?"

And no one raises objections?

I think we have moved beyond reason now.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 a.m. CDT

I'M WITH KEVIN... 06-17-03

Donald Luskin truly is the blogosphere/internet's version of the village idiot:

Not only is Luskin too stupid to get his facts right about who sits on what subcommittee while simultaneously mocking Krugman, who said nothing wrong, but he then chastises Krugman for a further list of things that are essentially correct and certainly well within the normal rhetorical bounds of an opinion columnist. This is a fundamental problem with"Watch" columns, since the authors are constantly overreaching in order to prove that every single column and every single word their target writes is untrue. It's even worse, of course, when the author is an idiot.

I'll say it again: NRO should be ashamed to provide space to guys like this. I'm not on their side on much of anything, but even I think they're better than this.

And, honestly, all Luskin is doing is engaging in that tired and infantile righty blogger practice of"fisking" a Krugman column.

And Luskin's"fiskings" of Krugman aren't even that good. I'm sure NRO can find some other right-wing hack who does it better than he does.

Posted by Tom at 10:54 p.m. CDT


Go read it.

Teixeira writes about three different things: the impact of the lack of WMD evidence on public opinion about the war, the return of the gender gap in W's re-elect numbers, and about whether seniors are turning Republican in response to this administration's policies.

Here's his section on the WMD issue and public opinion:

It’s too early to say that the issue of the missing WMDs will hurt Bush politically. But recent polls are turning up good evidence that the public is starting to entertain real doubts about whether the Iraq war was truly worth the investment of blood and money we had to make. These are exactly the kind of doubts that could be inflamed by the continued failure to find WMDs and revelations about prewar distortions and deceptions. If that happens, the Bush administration could, in the end, suffer a serious diminution in its most important political advantage: the trust of the public on the national security issue.

Consider this finding from the recently released NPR poll. Likely voters were asked whether: (1) the Iraq war was a success and was worth the cost in lives and dollars; (2) the Iraq war was a success but was not worth the cost; or (3) the Iraq war was not a success. The replies were split down the middle between boosters and doubters of the Iraq war. Forty-eight percent said that the Iraq war was a success and worth the cost, while 48 percent said either that the war was a success, but not worth the cost (33 percent), or that the war was not a success (15 percent).

Moreover, if you look a swing-voting independents, doubts about the worthwhileness of the Iraq war are even stronger: 43 percent of this group said that the Iraq war was a success and worth the cost, compared to 55 percent who said either that its success was not worth the cost or that it was not a success. The data also show a wide gender gap on this issue. While 57 percent of men said that the Iraq war was a success and worth the cost, just 40 percent of women felt this way (55 percent of women thought either that the war’s success wasn’t worth the cost or that the war wasn’t a success).

The CBS News poll has other findings consistent with these doubts. While 53 percent of adults in this poll say that Iraq was a threat that required immediate action, 45 percent now say that Iraq either was a threat that could have been contained (35 percent) or was not a threat at all (10 percent). The poll also finds that locating the WMDs does matter to most Americans (58 percent) and that the belief that the administration overestimated the number of WMDs in Iraq is growing (now 44 percent, up five points from two weeks ago).

The Gallup poll confirms that Americans are becoming more skeptical about Iraqi WMDs. Currently, 44 percent say that they are certain Iraq had facilities to create WMDs before the war, down eleven points from what the public believed before the war. Similarly, 43 percent say that they are certain Iraq had biological or chemical weapons before the war, down thirteen points from prewar views, and 37 percent are certain that Iraq was trying to develop nuclear weapons before the war, down eleven points from prewar beliefs.

We shall see how all this plays out in the weeks ahead. If doubts about Iraq’s WMDs push the public more and more in the direction that the Iraq venture was not really worth the costs (which of course continue to mount), it indeed does mean trouble for the Bush administration. Especially if (and it’s a big if) Democrats really start pressing the Bush administration on its now-well-documented prevarications on the extent of Iraq’s WMDs. Stay tuned.

It's interesting that people are finally figuring out they were lied to after the war is over. If they'd have paid more attention they could've known that before the war.

Of course, I guess better late than never, huh?

The rest of the report is just as interesting. It's worth your time.

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


Chuck Kuffner has the latest Killer D's update today.

As should be no surprise, the Department of Homeland Security cleared itself of wrongdoing. Interestingly enough, the DHS's report said flat-out that the Texas Department of Public Safety was uncooperative with their investigation.

As Chuck puts it:

In short, the main question - what the hell was DPS doing when they called in Homeland Security - is still a mystery, and DPS has done everything it can to ensure it stays that way.
Can you imagine what we'd be hearing if Democrats were obstructing an investigation and destroying records like this?

Posted by Tom at 4:47 p.m. CDT


It's official. The job market is now as bad or worse than it was when the last guy named Bush was president.

I really do pity college graduates this year -- except those who still plan to vote for Bush (and against their own interests) next year of course.

And, as someone who graduated college in the middle of the last Bush economy, I can even work up a little sympathy for them.

Posted by Tom at 11:35 a.m. CDT


is right here. There's a video as well but I couldn't get it to work on my machine. Did I mention I'm a big John Mellencamp fan? My four years in Indiana at IU have certainly rubbed off on me in that regard. Every now and then you'd bump into Mellencamp (although you saw his wife a lot more often around town) in Bloomington.

Anyway, here are the lyrics:


Eight years of peace and prosperity
Scandal in the White House
An election is what we need
From coast-to-coast to Washington

So America voted on a president
No one kept count
On how the election went
From Florida to Washington

Goddamn, said one side
And the other said the same
Both looked pretty guilty
But no one took the blame
From coast-to-coast to Washington

So a new man in the White House
With a familiar name
Said he had some fresh ideas
But it's worse now since he came
From Texas to Washington

And he wants to fight with many
And he says it's not for oil
He sent out the National Guard
To police the world
From Baghdad to Washington

What is the thought process
To take a humans life
What would be the reason
To think that this is right
From heaven to Washington
From Jesus Christ to Washington

I just thought I'd pass this on to you.


[Links via Skippy and OnLisaRein'sRadar]

Posted by Tom at 10:21 a.m. CDT


Krugman's column is brilliant today.

Here's the obligatory"money quote":

So what's the explanation [for the administration's dereliction of duty in the war on terrorism]? The answer, one suspects, is that key figures — above all, Donald Rumsfeld — just didn't feel like dealing with the real problem. Real counterterrorism mainly involves police work and precautionary measures; it doesn't look impressive on TV, and it doesn't provide many occasions for victory celebrations.

A conventional war, on the other hand, is a lot more fun: you get stirring pictures of tanks rolling across the desert, and you get to do a victory landing on an aircraft carrier. And more and more it seems that that was what the war was all about. After all, the supposed reasons for fighting that war have turned out to be false — there were no links to Al Qaeda, there wasn't a big arsenal of W.M.D.'s.

But never mind — we won, didn't we? Maybe not. About half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now tied down in Iraq, facing what looks increasingly like a guerrilla war — and like a perfect recruiting device for Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the real war on terror has been neglected, and we've antagonized the allies we need to fight that war. One of these days we'll end up paying the price.

Krugman's dead-on here. I also agree with Matthew Yglesias's comment (just added to the blogroll, been meaning to do that for weeks) on the column:

I think that's about right. September 11 gave a floundering administration a new political lease on life and they've been milking it for all its worth ever since. What they haven't been doing is making a serious effort to reduce the threat from terrorism. Just as the recession was seen as an opportunity to cut taxes rather than as a problem that needs to be resolved, anxiety about terrorism is exploited for political gain rather than alleviated.

I note, meanwhile, that ever since the"end" of Gulf War II I've heard strikingly little from the right about what it is exactly they propose to do about terrorism. Removing Saddam has not proven to be a magic bullet to solve all our problems, so they've just stopped talking about our problems. Instead, one hears mockery of leftists, mockery of the French, mockery of the UN, mockery of The New York Times, and lauding of Iranian dissidents. I'm all for the lauding, but if the current conservative strategy is to fight and win the war on liberals/France/the UN/Howell Raines while hoping that Iranian college students win the war on terror for us, then we've got a serious problem on our hands.

Indeed. Hmmm. Do you think Matt's describing Insty in that last paragraph? Perhaps.

As I've said since I started this blog last August, this war with Iraq is going to make us less safe, not more. And, if there is another horrific domestic terrorist attack, we certainly shouldn't let the administration skate away free of responsibility as it did after 9/11. I mean, honestly, W was briefed on hijackings during that monthlong vacation of his in August of 2001 and the administration did NOTHING about it.

But, as is often the case, I digress. As Krugman says, at some point Americans are going to pay a price for the administration's penny wise and pound foolish approach to counterterrorism. There certainly are plenty of innocent American soldiers paying the price for our mistakes in pursuing war with Iraq right now. 41 of them have died since the carrier photo-op alone. I suspect it's these soldiers' continued sacrifice that is making many Americans employ what W is derisively calling"revisionist history" and question the wisdom of the war.

And I suspect Americans will eventually pay one hell of a price for this administration's mistakes in the war on terrorism -- a much larger price than the administration has"saved us" by being cheapskates on counterterrrorism so far.

I must point out that my calculations aren't including the non-financial costs of innocent lives and the pain and sorrow of the families of the future victims. These unquantifiable costs easily make it worth our while to do something about this now.

But do W and the boys care about this? Apparently not. As we all are painfully aware by now, tax cuts for rich buddies and campaign contributors are the absolute first priority for this administration. All else, even domestic security, is second.

I'm afraid this administration's day of reckoning is coming on this eventually. As always, I certainly hope not. However, I can't help but worry at this point.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 a.m. CDT


Thanks folks! A short while ago I had my 250,000th visitor to the blog via Angry Bear. It was just about a week ago that I had my 240,000th visitor. I've also had more than 361,000 hits as well since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always, I appreciate it folks. I'm humbled that so many folks come by. Considering it took me four months to get 10,000 visitors, this is just amazing!

Posted by Tom at 8:54 p.m. CDT

W'S A BIT TESTY, EH? 06-16-03

President Bush countered those questioning his justification for the invasion of Iraq on Monday, dismissing"revisionist historians" and saying Washington acted to counter a persistent threat.

"Now there are some who would like to rewrite history; revisionist historians is what I like to call them," Bush said in a speech to New Jersey business leaders.

Uh-oh. W's trying to sound sophisticated by talking about"revisionist historians." Do you think he even understands what"revisionism" is? And most of the people I hear raising questions about the lies used to justify the war aren't historians either. W sounds just a wee bit desperate to me. If we're already using such heavy-handed rhetoric this early in what is likely to be years of questions, it's going to be quite a spectacle from here on out.

I must admit the way right wingers freely throw this phrase"revisionist history" around without understanding what it means and that EVERY generation revises history in one way or another is one of my pet peeves.

In fact, righties are responsible for their own rather self-serving revisionism. For an obvious and simple example, have you ever heard a wealthy conservative wax poetic about the 1980s? The 1980s were a terrible decade for the vast majority of Americans -- terrible recessions on both ends of the decade for starters -- but you sure wouldn't know it listening to these guys talk.

This same guy will tell you how terrible the 1990s were. However, as is obvious, the 1990s were much better for the average Joe than the 1980s, economically at least. I think any American who lived through them would, given the choice, gladly trade the 1980s for the 1990s. In fact, I suspect the average American who lived through both decades would gladly trade St. Ronald for Bill Clinton as well.

Historical truth -- at least as far as interpretation goes -- is often in the eye of the beholder folks. And all of us are shaped by our life experiences and our personal viewpoints. For W to already be talking about"historical revisionism" before the history has even been written is hilarious.

W simply doesn't understand what he's talking about -- as usual.

Like St. Ronald in the 1980s, W's just reading the script.

Posted by Tom at 7:35 p.m. CDT

WHERE IS... 06-16-03


Does anyone know?

He's been gone a long time. I'm sure I speak for many out here in the blogosphere when I say that I'm worried.

Digby, come on man, just post something somewhere.

Are you okay?

Posted by Tom at 3:14 p.m. CDT


Morat has an excellent post up:

Much as we'd like to believe that these assaults are the work of a few dissidents, of a few Saddam sympathizers and some fanatics from other countries, it's simply not true.

These people wouldn't exist if large numbers of Iraqi's weren't sympathetic to their cause. We should consider ourselves lucky that many Iraqi's don't consider it bad enough to personally pick up one of the AK-47s or RPGs lying around and join in the fight.

But because we don't want to admit the painful truth, that our invasion of Iraq was an occupation, not a liberation, we continue to make all the wrong moves and do all the wrong things.

Your average Iraqi citizen might be thrilled Saddam is gone, but that doesn't mean he's happy we're there. And while we undoubtedly got some good will in the process, we're squandering it all on mass arrests, house-to-house searches, and the chaos and disorder that is our occupation.

And sooner or later, if we don't wise up and admit the truth, we're going to start pushing more and more citizens to pick up their rifles and grenades and join the resistance.

This is a common problem in American foreign relations history. Instead of trying to understand the situation and improve it, we prefer to simply place all the blame on the folks whom we believe are the real enemies.

The administration is trying its damnedest right now to blame Saddam's supporters for all of the violence in Iraq. Now if one of them slips and tries to blame communists or the Viet Cong in Iraq, then you'll really know they've finally flipped their lid. I keep waiting for one of them to slip up and do it any day now. After all, most of W's foreign policy folks were involved in the"Back to the Future" revival of the communist threat during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I was watching CNN this morning and they had this report that began by blaming all of the violence on Saddam's supporters but the heart of the piece described the terrible living conditions in Iraq that was leading to a more popularly-based resistance. The first part, clearly coming straight from administration propaganda, was completely incoherent with the second part. The talking bubblehead, Daryn Kagan, clearly had no idea how ridiculous the whole thing sounded.

It was a pretty pathetic spectacle -- but perfectly typical given the current press coverage of the Iraq's descent into chaos since the end of the war. The media wants to accept the administration spin but the folks on the ground are telling them the administration is full of it. Therefore, they're presenting these strange reports that try to merge both stories into a single narrative.

Too bad the media folks can't just ignore administration spin and report what their reporters on the ground are telling them. However, that might upset the vengeful folks in this White House and they wouldn't dare want to do that, would they?

Posted by Tom at 2:59 p.m. CDT


Good Brew today -- go read it.

Here's my favorite couple of paragraphs just to whet your appetite:

That Saddam is evil was never in dispute. No one has forgotten that when Bush's father inspired and then abandoned an Iraqi revolution, and Saddam quickly killed everyone in Iraq stupid enough to read Bush's lips. The pictures of dead Kurdish children published in Newsweek were hard to forget. So is the reality that these crimes were insufficient to mobilize US public opinion to support a war. Ergo, the administration invented its tales of weapons of mass destruction.

Just as with the cover up, the hunt for the WMDs has now become a joke unto itself. The search first turned surreal when Bush was confronted with a question as to their whereabouts while in Poland. Reflexively lying again, Bush claimed we had found them! Since we hadn't, the American press was ordered not to dwell on the President's words, and administration officials hastily explained that President did not mean what he said, and to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The desired effect was nevertheless created as the number of mouth breathing Bush voters who believed United States had found WMDs went over 40%.

Back in the real world, the search for WMDs essentially ended last week when the military announced it had more or less run out of places to search, and would basically stop looking. Perhaps the US soldiers in Iraq thought the rocket propelled grenades getting shot at them were a more pressing issue than looking for Republican campaign props. Whatever the reason, the fact that the search had ended, of course, did not prevent the Bush folks back in Washington from continuing to insist they would eventually be found. It just gave it an"OJ Simpson on the golf course" kind of feel when they said it. No one in the national media thought to ask them how they intended to find weapons that might not even exist now that they were no longer even looking.

There is this disturbing pattern to the WMD"discoveries" over the last couple of months. The administration trumpets their premature (or, in the case of the trailers, downright fraudulent) discovery and then a few days later has to withdraw it or explain their mistaken claim away somehow. But this retraction part of the story never gets much attention in the media now, does it?

However, as the Brew makes clear, the whole point is to convince the three-minute-attention-span Republican voters that they've found them, so these folks can stop feeling uncomfortable about supporting the immoral and unnecessary war that was sold to all of us using a pack of lies.

After all, acknowledging this makes warhawk Republicans awfully uncomfortable. You don't need any more evidence of the strange psychological-coping mechanisms these folks are employing than my post below about the folks at the conservative Chicago Tribune.

It is awfully uncomfortable to acknowledge your man is a serial liar about darned-near everything. Better to just believe those trailers are sufficient evidence of WMDs so you'll sleep better tonight.

That way you don't have to think about the thousands of innocent Iraqis who died or the couple of hundred of Americans who have died (41 since W declared"Mission Accomplished") in this misbegotten war.

It's much better to bury your head in the sand and tenaciously believe it was all worth it, right?


Posted by Tom at 9:52 a.m. CDT


You really should read this article. W's incompetence and mendacity have actually motivated a former member of the NSC to join a campaign to turn out his old boss!

This article is quite interesting -- it tells you that folks who know what they're doing think that W's incompetent.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 a.m. CDT

I'M WITH ART SILBER... 06-15-03

on this. It's good to see someone finally get angry about this. I guess I'm a little too reserved at times.

Art's right here folks.

Go read his post.

Posted by Tom at 5:42 p.m. CDT


that you're going to have to read some bombastic (and illiterate) criticism of what you've said on your blog lately.

Pretty hilarious, huh?

I'd really be embarrassed to post this sort of nonsensical response where someone could actually read it, wouldn't you?

I guess this is just the comment board equivalent of Bartcop's"monkey mail," isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 5:17 p.m. CDT


You should read this article by the Chicago Tribune's Jeremy Manier. Manier asks a rather interesting question: why were Americans so gullible on Iraq?

Here's a bit of it:

"Fears are one thing, hard facts are another," Russian President Vladimir Putin said last October."Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and we have not received any such information from our partners yet. This fact also has been supported by information sent by the CIA to the U.S. Congress."

So far, U.S. searchers have found no sign that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program.

A more thorough public discussion of the doubts about Iraq's weapons might have prevented some of the administration's current embarrassment. Perhaps political leaders believed that the American public could not digest an argument for war in anything but simple, declarative terms.

"We feel a real debate on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq never took place," Albright said."It's the responsibility of leadership to convey difficult information with the proper caveats."

But if the U.S. is serious about stopping North Korea and other nations that still pose a real threat with nuclear and other unconventional weapons, we will have to live with uncertainty. Sometimes military force will not be a realistic alternative--any war with North Korea likely would devastate South Korea. In such cases, the only cure for uncertainty may be a strong inspection regime, preferably led by a neutral group such as the United Nations.

"That would be the best possible outcome here, if inspections are given a new lease on life," Jonathan Tucker said."In many situations, such as North Korea, inspections are really the best approach, because there's no military option."

If that's true, the leadership in the White House and in Congress may have to find a new vocabulary. Mere insinuation and bluster will be of no use the next time we need to prove that a smoking gun exists.

Right. The American people have proven themselves to be willfully ignorant and passive sheep who will be (mis)led wherever W and the boys want them to go.

With the success that W and the boys had leading us down the primrose path, how can anyone possibly argue that the administration can't (and won't) do it again?

I think this is some wishful thinking on the part of Manier and the editorial staff of the Tribune.

I know, I know. It's tough to admit your man W is a liar. However, you guys at the Tribune might as well cut your losses and do it now -- and save yourselves the embarrassment later.

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


So much for the"trailers of mass destruction."

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:34 a.m. CDT


Do you know how sore I am this morning?

Anyway, here are a couple of interesting things this morning. First, here's an interesting"goodbye" editorial for Ari Fleischer by the Palm Beach Post. It's not very sentimental.

Also, here's a column by Derrick Jackson in the Boston Globe about how we're playing the same disgusting games about civilian casualties in Gulf War Part II as we did in Gulf War Part I. If you recall, one of my major objections to this war was that it would lead to thousands of civilian casualties and that, for some reason, very few folks in the administration seemed to care that much about this little issue at all.

As Jackson puts it:

Americans were outraged when 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now, between Afghanistan and Iraq, our vengeance has killed way more than that. We rightly demanded that the world care about our innocent dead. Now we wrongly ignore the people we killed. We not only bombed innocent people, we bombed our own innocence.
And I'll remind you that we killed all these innocent civilians and two months later we still haven't found the WMDs that were the supposed casus belli.

How's that for moral sticky wickets, eh?

I must also mention that this editorial uses Beth Osborne DaPonte's casualty figures from Gulf War Part I, a story that was prominently mentioned on this blog back in November. Largely at the behest of my friend who tipped me in November, this story later made the mainstream media in January of this year. Business Week later did a story in February on this that was linked to by MSNBC.

It's nice to play a little role in big media every now and then.

It's time for the Father's Day festivities. More later.

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

NOTHING LIKE... 06-14-03

seven or eight hours of hard labor moving big pieces of furniture around and up flights of stairs to really make you feel tired. I'm utterly exhausted now.

I do recommend that you read Josh Marshall's last couple of posts however. He's got an excellent post about the inability of the press to refer to what W did as lying and a touching post you should also read.

Part of the interesting thing about reading blogs is that you can learn more about the folks who write them. Josh has a post today that certainly fills that description.

I may blog more today. I may not.

We'll see.

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

BUSY DAY 06-14-03

I'm helping some friends move to a new house today. That means there may not be much blogging today.

You're very welcome to fill the time by reading the great blogs over to the right.

And, by the way, if you really like reading the old blog here, could you consider donating a little to History News Network?

Posted by Tom at 8:20 a.m. CDT


One of my readers, David de la Fuente, sends along this link to a Tech Central column (yes, the same website that publishes the vapid columns by Insty) by James K. Glassman suggesting that the NYT drop Paul Krugman and return"the real Maureen Dowd" to the editorial page.

This column really is hilarious because it's so clear that Glassman liked the Times back when it was attacking the Clintons and peddling the pseudo-scandals of the Clinton era. However, Glassman gets a bit annoyed when the NYT attacks his boy W these days.

David puts it pretty well:

It isn't enough that these people have all of talk radio, most of the blogosphere and Fox News, they want everything else. I guess it's not too surprising given they're the party of greed and selfishness, but you'd think they'd understand that at some level you reach the point of diminishing returns.
The funniest thing about all this is the fact that this guy Glassman has any sort of job at all, much less works as a columnist for Tech Central. He ought to be working in the local 7-11 if at all. I mean this guy is the snake oil salesman who wrote Dow 36,000 after all. If anybody pays any attention to a thing this guy says, you deserve the incredible loss you're getting ready to take when you try to unload your swampland in Florida.

This, my friends, is the sort of reputation that gets you a fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute these days. Glassman is part of a large roster of GOP has-beens, including Newt Gingrich and everyone's favorite graph-fudger, John Lott.

You really should go ahead and read this column just because this is one of the guys who is personally responsible for convincing your mutual fund managers to lose all of your retirement savings.

The presumptiousness required for this guy to crawl out from under his rock and give advice to anyone who isn't already under indictment for securities fraud is hilarious.

Posted by Tom at 9:25 p.m. CDT


You really should read this article about Task Force 20. We've had a group of several hundred Special Forces soldiers in Iraq since early March whose job it is to find WMDs. They've been able to essentially go wherever they want to go and do whatever they want to do for more than three months now -- and they've come up with, you guessed it, zero.

W and the boys lied folks. Let's just get used to it, okay?

I'm waiting for them to come up with some minor discovery of broken-down-looking tractor trailers with canvas sides. Then they'll try to desperately claim that's evidence of WMDs. It will seem desperate and pathetic. You know, like that ridiculous model airplane/drone before the war that the warmongers tried to convince us was a threat?

Oh wait.

That's already happened.

Never mind.

Posted by Tom at 2:28 p.m. CDT


A good friend of mine, I'll give him an assumed name to protect his identity, I'll call him"Philbert," sent me two links (here and here) to stories about W's encounter last night with the Segway.

As my friend put it:

Tipping over a Segway should not be possible. Leave it to President Codpiece to pull off a Gerald Ford.

Update: Chris at Interesting Times and Hesiod at Counterspin have more.

And, Chris, you'd be amazed at what brings visitors in large numbers. I had my record day (5,000 visitors and more than 6,000 hits) from this post about how Missouri was planning to tax masturbation. By the time it was all over about 20,000 sets of eyeballs came in to read that post.

And, proudly, I can claim that I've never had a link from Insty. In fact he goes out of his way not to link to me -- at times linking to someone else who reports something I've said. Therefore, my traffic doesn't come from blogospheric welfare (frequent links) from that charlatan. It never has and it never will.

Posted by Tom at 11:46 a.m. CDT



As always, it's quite good.

Posted by Tom at 10:07 a.m. CDT


After watching Nightline take W apart last night, I'm beginning to get hopeful that the administration's mendacity in building its case for war is going to get a little press attention -- until the next administration photo-op at least.

As has become obvious by now, the administration lied to us about this. Condi Rice tried over the weekend to pretend that she and the folks in the White House hadn't had the warnings about the authenticity of the Niger document brought to their attention. Over this week it's become pretty clear that she's lying too.

One senior CIA official now says the administration was warned ten months before the speech that this document was bogus but included it in the president's speech anyway. Another CIA official (perhaps the same one) is claiming that the administration's speechwriters decided to attribute the claim to the British because they knew it was bogus before the speech. I wonder how MI-6 feels about that?

Aren't you tired of hearing people talk about"manipulation" and"exaggeration?" At least call this what it is folks, lying -- and this Niger document is one of a multitude of examples regarding IraqWar Part II alone.

I will remind you, however, that this information was available before the war folks -- but the press wasn't interested in it back then. It was the perfect example of how far W and the boys would go to try and build support for the war with Iraq.

It was clear the administration was lying before the war. Of course, if you were reading this blog back then you knew that, didn't you?

Posted by Tom at 10:05 a.m. CDT

IT'S OFFICIAL... 06-12-03

I'm done with Dennis Miller:

Dennis Miller is heading back to television. The comic-actor, last on HBO's"Dennis Miller Live" and ABC's"Monday Night Football," is expected to join the Fox News Channel as a commentator for"Hannity and Colmes."

An announcement could come as soon as today. Miller is expected to appear once a week on the 9 p.m. show, which pits conservative Sean Hannity against liberal Alan Colmes. Miller, often praised by critics as a perceptive social commentator, is to start next month.

I've been a fan of his for years since his SNL days. I even got HBO so I could watch his show. If he's got such low standards he's going on"Hannity and Strawman" on Faux, I'm done with him.

Of course, since 9/11 he's just degenerated into a poor man's Jon Stewart.

Come to think of it, that's a major insult to Jon Stewart.

Let's just say he's become extraordinarily lame, a W-butt kisser extraordinaire (he'll fit in perfectly at Faux now), and leave it at that.

Posted by Tom at 9:42 p.m. CDT


Rummy, who for some reason continues to think he's the president, secretary of state, congress, and the attorney general all rolled into one, is now threatening the funding for the NATO HQ if Belgium doesn't repeal its universal jurisdiction law.

You know, Don, it's really not your place at all to say anything about this, much less threaten our NATO allies like this.

Every time Rummy goes to Europe it takes us months to undo his diplomatic damage.

I really do think it's about time for Rumsfeld to go, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 6:20 p.m. CDT


Josh Marshall has an excellent post up in which he discusses the gathering storm about this administration's mendacious statements regarding Iraq before the war. Here's the"money quote":

The public didn't get sold on this war because Saddam had nerve gas, or botulinum or even anthrax. True or not, a lot of people believed that.(I believed it -- and I still have a very hard time believing Saddam doens't have chemical munitions stored somewhere.) The public got sold on the war because the administration argued consistently and vociferously that Saddam was on the brink of amassing far more fearsome weapons -- particularly nuclear weapons ("We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud") and that he had gorwing operational ties to terrorists to whom he might give these weapons or even some of his less threatening chemical agents.

It was fairly clear before the war that neither of those claims were true. Since the war it has become clearer by the day that they were almost certainly not true.

Those were the imminent threats that made the war necessary in March. No waiting for inspections, no building up of alliances, nothing. There was an imminent threat and country's respond militarily to imminent threats.

The only thing that's pretty clear is that there was no imminent threat. And there is a growing body of evidence -- much of which was known, frankly, before the war -- that the administration did everything it could to push the claim that there was an imminent threat using what was often very, very weak evidence. I don't think 'lie' is necessarily the best word for it. I think a more apropos analogy is a lawyers' brief. You pull together every piece of evidence you can find -- good, bad, flimsy, obviously bogus, uncertain, it doesn't matter, just throw it all in -- and you make the best case you can with what you have. You put in everything that helps your case and forget about everything that hurts it. And the case was that there was an imminent threat that required war against Iraq. I repeat, imminent.

In many cases I think the folks who pushed these arguments knew they weren't true. But to them, the ends justified the means.

In other cases, though -- and these are the more important and intriguing ones -- I think they believed that Saddam was such a bad guy that these things must be true. Or if they weren't true now, they would be soon enough. So, same difference.

Of course, I would argue that telling the American people something that you know to be untrue is, by definition, lying. By the end of the post Josh begins to use that word to describe it.

I would also contend that it's one thing to do this sort of thing when talking about a policy or to smooth out relations with another country -- it's entirely another to do this in order to build public support for a war. In fact, I would argue it rises to the level of being immoral and mendacious in the extreme -- some could plausibly say evil (I won't and I'm not quite sure why I can't bring myself to do that). W's mendacity has led to the deaths of untold thousands of innocent Iraqis and a chaotic situation in Iraq that may actually be worse than before we invaded.

And if this administration takes its eye off the ball like it has in Afghanistan, it's only a matter of time before Iraq is in worse shape than it was under Saddam's rule. In Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are moving back in as we speak and, now that we've solved bin Laden's"recuitment problem" for him, may be a bigger threat to us than before our invasion.

In the case of Iraq, we took a relatively stable Middle Eastern state and have, through our own efforts, destabilized it and made life worse for the average Iraqi. Heck, at least the Iraqi people had electricity, sewer systems, and clean water under Saddam's rule.

Now I'm sure the average Iraqi doesn't want Saddam back (who would?) but they certainly envisioned something better than this.

I know I did.

Update: I want to make something clear here: in no way is this post meant to argue that I condoned Saddam's torturous regime. However, if one's being cold and analytical about this, you really can't deny that Saddam's police/terror state was pretty stable now, can you?

And it is amazing, if you examine history, what depredations people will put up with for a little stability. Having not lived in the"nasty, brutish, and short" state of nature that now exists in Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm not really a good authority on this sort of thing. If you recall, it's the desire for order that was why many Afghanis supported the Taliban.

Heck, come to think of it, that's why the Bush administration SUPPORTED the Taliban with aid monies until shortly after 9/11 if you recall.

Now that's interesting, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 10:28 a.m. CDT


In this excellent post, Hesiod points us to this article which attempts to counter the shameless and misleading administration spin that only 33 artifacts are missing from the museum.

Now this is a developing story and I'm not yet sure what the entire truth of the matter is about this yet but it does appear that the recent media coverage is significantly softpedaling the looting. While it appears that the general mayhem at the museum may have been exaggerated in the earliest media accounts, it also appears that there are still thousands of items unaccounted for, not just 33:

McGuire Gibson, professor at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, said the media had underplayed the amount of damage to Iraq's historical sites and in particular the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.

"It was in fact nowhere near as bad as we initially feared but they have lost several thousand objects, it's not 33," said Gibson, referring to the number of objects quoted by U.S.-led administration in Iraq as being missing from the main collection of the museum.

However, even if one were to accept the ludicrously low number (straight from the administration's spin machine) of 33 items missing, most folks who know anything about this acknowledge that the missing items include some of the most important artifacts at the museum. Hesiod puts it this way:

The problem is, the objects that are still missing are some of the most important, and priceless objects in that Museum. It would be like early reports of the Louvre being looted citing thousands of missing objects, only to find out later that there were"only" 33 that were unaccounted for, including the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Venus De Milo.

"No big deal."

And I am shocked, SHOCKED I say, that Glenn Reynolds is passing on inaccurate administration propaganda and hasn't yet apologized for it or corrected the record.

That's SO out of character for him, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:48 a.m. CDT


Great. Just great.

We sure are being"welcomed as liberators," aren't we?

Haven't we lost about thirty American lives since W, wearing his codpiece, declared"Mission Accomplished" in Iraq?

I'd feel a great deal more sympathy for war supporters if I hadn't have told you all this would happen -- for months before the war started.

Posted by Tom at 8:35 a.m. CDT


W's approval rating is in free fall once again as Americans begin to realize, once again, that the economy sucks, the budget deficit is wildly out of control, and W isn't doing a damn thing that will help either problem. This really is beginning to look like a repeat of 1991-1992 after all.

W's approval rating has now dropped sixteen points since April, from 73 to 57 percent. As Americans realize that our"Splendid Little War" in Iraq has done nothing to help the economy and that the reconstruction of Iraq is going to cost tens of billions which will be a further drag on the federal budget, the numbers should drop even lower.

How long until W's approval rating drops below 50%? He's been close twice before if you recall and the rally-around-the-flag effect (as a result of 9/11 and the War of Bush Aggression) saved his bacon both times.

We'll see of course.

However, I see no reason the collapse in W's approval rating should slow down any time soon.

Posted by Tom at 10:34 p.m. CDT


Get a load of this:

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans on Wednesday rejected Democratic calls for a formal investigation into intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs, contending that such a probe could harm intelligence agencies' work.

The majority Republicans said routine oversight by Congress' Intelligence and Armed Services committees will be adequate to evaluate intelligence findings that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had weapons of mass destruction. Those findings served as the basis for the war on Iraq, but no such weapons have been found.

The inability of Democrats and Republicans to agree on an inquiry deepens partisan divisions in an area with potential consequences in the 2004 election: whether prewar intelligence on Iraq was inaccurate or had been manipulated to make the case for war.

Republican lawmakers say there is no evidence of wrongdoing and an investigation would suggest"there's something dreadfully wrong and you're going to have to set things straight," said Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Right. The president of the United States repeated lie after lie about Iraq's WMD for months to build support for an immoral and unnecessary war.

We've spent two months sending hundreds of soldiers to investigate 230 potential weapons sites and they have come up with, you guessed it, nothing.

Nope, nothing wrong here folks. Nothing to see here.

Move along.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 p.m. CDT


In a brief statement, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- an arm of Homeland Security -- said the air interdiction center was motivated by safety concerns."From all indications, this request . . . [from Texas was related to] a missing, lost or possibly crashed aircraft," the statement said. But at least three officials involved in the May 12 search said safety issues were not raised by the air interdiction center, which has no safety-related responsibilities.

"There was never any inference that the plane might be down, or something like that," said Marvin Miller, an airport official in Plainview, Tex. -- near Laney's home -- who said he was contacted by an"air interdiction" official on the evening of May 12."There was never any safety concern, or indication that it was missing or overdue," Miller said."The guy said at the end, 'This is just somebody looking for politicians they can't find.'"

Boy, as evidenced over the last six months or so, the folks in this administration don't tell the truth about anything the first time, do they?

[Link via Talking Points Memo]

Posted by Tom at 2:30 p.m. CDT


From Bartcop Forum:

Conservative MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough was a guest on MSNBC's Imus show last Thursday, May 29.

In complementing Scarborough on his sense of humor, Imus said,"Don't be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren't in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her." To which Scarborough laughed,"Yeah, ha, ha ha, well, what are you gonna do?"

While I'm not suggesting that Scarborough killed his former aide, to make a joke about the unfortunate death of someone you knew (and rumors were flying at the time that he was involved with her romantically) who died under suspicious circumstances in your office is beyond tacky, it's damn-near pathological.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, go here.

Scarborough certainly demonstrates here why he has the lowest-rated show on the lowest-rated cable network. More people are watching the dental surgery show over on Discovery-Health during the same timeslot these days than watching Scarborough Country -- and obviously with good reason.

Surely Joe the sleazeball will get canned soon, won't he? On Donahue's worst days on MSGOP he was outdrawing this guy by a factor of five or six.

[Links via Daily Dystopian (permalinks are bloggered, scroll down to June 5th) and Atrios]

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


Istanbul by now -- at least according to the e-mail he sent me last night. If you want to keep up with his fascinating travels, be sure to read his Silk Road Journal blog of his adventures.

Sean-Paul and I had a wonderful time visiting last week over dinner in San Antonio and I got to meet his lovely wife. A good time was had by all!

Good luck Sean-Paul -- and be careful.

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


You really should read this column by Al Kennedy of the Guardian. You've got to like a column that argues, sarcastically of course, that the podpeople have taken over the world!

Here's my favorite paragraph:

The pods are the reason the world's most powerful bankrupt nation is ruled by an unelected Texan, rather than Bill Hicks. (I'd pick a dead comedian over a live fundamentalist flake any day.) They're why the bend in Clinton's dick provoked more outrage and investigation than Georgie's bloodlust ever will. They're why we make money arming countries - so we can bomb them to hell and back. They're why we haven't simply drowned Tony Blair in a bucket of his own, conniving sweat. All hail to the pods - they're here to stay.
I only wish I could blame W's mendacity in bringing about the war on his being one of these"podpeople." Unfortunately, I can't. He's just that dishonest -- and apparently has been his entire life.

Posted by Tom at 9:04 a.m. CDT


Here's Gene's column for the week -- excellent as usual:

Faulty Intelligence

It turns out that there's a connection between the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States and the war in Iraq after all. But it's not the one President Junior and his advisors expected to find. Instead of unearthing Saddam Hussein's vaunted"weapons of mass destruction" or producing evidence of collusion with Osama bin Laden, what the fall of Baghdad has again exposed is the Bush administration's stubborn incapacity to heed"intelligence" that doesn't fit its pre-existing world-view.

Moving unwelcome information up the chain of command is difficult in ALL hierarchical bureaucracies, from the Little Rock Police Department to the CIA. Hence, in part, the CIA's failure to anticipate events as portentous as the collapse of the Soviet Union or India's development of nuclear weapons. Nobody's eager to give the boss the bad news. But the problem becomes acute when the people at the top are politically ruthless, determined ideologues, like the Bush administration's dominant figures.

Add extreme dishonesty and the media-enhanced cult of personality that has developed to cover Bush's obvious intellectual shortcomings, and you've got yourself the makings of a real mess. With respect to 9/11, the administration went into cover-up mode almost before the World Trade Center's twin towers had fallen--putting out a since-retracted story that the president high-tailed it to Nebraska because of a specific, credible threat to Air Force One.

There's reportedly a made-for-TV movie in the works in which a jut-jawed president demands to be taken back to Washington to face the enemy. I guess they'll airbrush away all those press briefings in which Ari Fliescher kept insisting the U.S. had"no warning" of the al Qaeda sneak attack. CBS News later reported that Bush had, in fact, received an urgent CIA briefing of imminent al-Qaeda terrorist strikes roughly a month before 9/11. He continued his vacation.

Stories appeared describing CIA director George Tenet and National Security Council counterterrorism head Richard Clarke as"nearly frantic" with worry. Having brushed off urgent warnings of the terrorist threat from the previous administration, White House advisor Condi Rice alibied that nobody could have imagined anything as fiendish as crashing airliners into buildings. Bush's August 2001 briefing, she claimed, had concerned only"traditional highjackings." In fact, intelligence professionals had predicted exactly what happened.

Bouyed by his decision to create a department of Homeland Security, which he'd previously opposed, Bush got away with it clean. Busting up al-Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan and rousting the Taliban didn't hurt either. Questioning critics' patriotism proved a useful tactic in a time of fear. Giving Bush the benefit of the doubt, most citizens bought the bait and switch campaign to substitute Saddam Hussein and Iraq for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda as threats to American security.

And why? Well, mainly because Bush has surrounded himself with self-described"neo-conservative" intellectuals centering around Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who have been hollering that the sky was falling since the 1970s. Many were members of the infamous"Team B," convened by then-CIA director George H.W. Bush. Their great achievement was portraying the Russian military as ten feet tall and bulletproof precisely as the ramshackle Soviet empire was falling apart. Needless to say, dissenters were accused of being"soft on communism," lacking patriotism, etc. Meanwhile, real traitors like CIA spy Aldrich Ames got away with murder.

Undeterred, the same gang next sought a super-villain in the Middle East. Allied with the Israeli Likud party, the"Project for a New American Century" started urging Bill Clinton to attack Iraq five years ago, and devised a utopian scheme to dominate the world. Here's how one of its prime movers, Richard Perle, described his first meeting with President Junior in Vanity Fair recently:"Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much...you got the sense that if he believed something he'd pursue it tenaciously."

The same article describes Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz telling friends Bush"wanted to be told what needed doing and how it should be done." So they told him, and he told the American people. He told us Saddam had nuclear weapons. He told us"weapons of mass destruction" had been deployed. British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed they were ready for use in 45 minutes. Bush warned us that not attacking Iraq would be tantamount to national"suicide."

British intelligence now admits that the 45 minutes business was simply invented in response to political pressure to"sex-up" their report.

"What this administration has done to military and intelligence professionals in government is disgraceful," Former Reagan assistant defense secretary Lawrence Korb told Salon. 27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern, head of an organization called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, has described the administration's pressure tactics as"worse than the Gulf of Tonkin"--the fabricated incident that got us into Vietnam.

Condi Rice says it's all a big misunderstanding.

The question is whether Americans are too scared and confused to care.

Posted by Tom at 8:31 a.m. CDT


CBO says the"economic and fiscal gang that couldn't shoot straight" will shatter the deficit record this year -- at least a $400B deficit -- the previous record for an annual deficit was $290B during Poppy's administration.

Great job W!

BTW, people sure do hate Hillary, don't they? 200,000 copies in a day, huh?

Posted by Tom at 10:44 p.m. CDT


The conventional wisdom has been that W and the boys protected the oil fields in Iraq because that was the most important thing to them. They didn't care about archaeological artifacts or that there was any sort of order in Iraq as the country has descended into chaos -- and has remained in that state for nearly two months now.

But at least, many have believed, the oil fields were okay and the revenue from them would rebuild Iraq. Think again folks. As this story makes clear, the oil fields have been looted to the point of being useless -- and it'll be millions of dollars of our tax money that rebuilds them of course.

This raises a rather important question: is there anything that this administration did RIGHT with regard to the post-war situation in Iraq?

Posted by Tom at 3:17 p.m. CDT


You know, nothing is more infuriating than watching this administration try to wriggle off from its pre-Gulf War Part II lies about WMDs in Iraq. They've now stooped to the point of arguing that any evidence, ANY EVIDENCE, of a weapons"program" will justify their claims before the war.

What a load of, well, you-know-what! That's not what you said before the war guys -- not at all.

If you need any reminding, here are just three things they said before the war (from Billmon's infamous list of lies, er, quotes by the administration regarding WMDs):

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

George W. Bush
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.

Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
February 5, 2003

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003

These folks really are just shameless liars, aren't they?

Posted by Tom at 11:37 a.m. CDT


Sean Wilentz gets it just right:

Clearly, looking back, the anti-impeachment historians get to say we told you so. But the more disturbing point is this: Impeachment isn't just"history." Some of the key"right-wing fanatics" who peddled"tainted, planted, unfounded, retracted, distorted, misleading and plain nonexistent evidence" that led to a"Kafkaesque" political"show trial" have more power than ever in politics and the media -- and have, it seems, actually benefited, personally and politically, from their attacks on the Constitution. The current corrected revised accounts by journalists leave the misimpression that only a few marginal right-wing zanies of passing importance were involved in the illegitimate effort to bring Clinton down. As the now uncontested facts around impeachment show, that is hardly the case.


Slowly but surely, most recently with the publication of"The Clinton Wars," historical facts have changed the prevailing wisdom of the chattering classes about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Historical research, now recognized as accurate, has made the journalists' original accounts look tendentious and often false. In the battle begun in 1998 between historians and journalists over the facts of the case and the legitimacy of impeachment, the historians have won.

But the journalists' insistence that we all put the matter to rest is itself a continuation of the partisanship and hopelessly confused logic that drove the impeachment effort in the first place. That insistence amounts to amnesty for abuses against the Constitution, some of which were committed by persons who now help to run the country, and who are utterly unapologetic for what they did. It is less a pardon than a willful act of forgetting that lets the guilty off the hook -- and that leaves them and their rackets, unchallenged, in power.

Abraham Lincoln once remarked that none of us can escape history. That includes those who conceived, aided and abetted the unconstitutional impeachment of Bill Clinton. The trouble is, many of those people are still very much with us, have been amply rewarded for their crimes, and continue to wield extraordinary power. History will condemn the rest of us if we do not now, at last, hold them accountable for what they did.

You know, revisiting this insane impeachment episode as it becomes more and more obvious that W lied to the nation in order to pump up support for an immoral and unnecessary war is truly surreal, isn't it? The 1998-1999 impeachment saga truly looks like a chickenshit affair given current events, doesn't it?

You really should read this article.

Get the Day Pass and wait through the Microsoft ad. It's worth your time -- especially if you're a historian.

[Link via Atrios]

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


Go read it.

Again, if you read blogs a lot, there's nothing new here. However, the strength of Krugman is that he does read blogs and brings it all together in one place. Furthermore, he writes very well -- better than most of us in the blogosphere I'm afraid.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 a.m. CDT


Get this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.

After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a large team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews and documents.

"It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent."We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home.

Of the seven Site Survey Teams charged with carrying out the search, only two have assignments for the coming week — but not at suspected weapons sites.

Lt. Col. Ronald Haan, who runs team 6, is using the time to run his troops through a training exercise.

"At least it's keeping the guys busy," he said.

The slowdown comes after checks of more than 230 sites — drawn from a master intelligence list compiled before the war — turned up none of the chemical or biological weapons the Bush administration said it went after Saddam Hussein to destroy.

230 sites and not a damn thing, huh?

When are Americans going to realize the obvious: we were lied to?

I'm still trying to figure out why this series of lies and half-truths is somehow more excusable than one about a consensual blowjob.

If you figure out the logic behind this, let me know.

Posted by Tom at 11:28 p.m. CDT

OH YEAH... 06-09-03

Thanks again! Sometime in the middle of the night (1,000 visitors ago now), I had my 240,000th visitor to this blog since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th. It was about a week ago that I had my 230,000th visitor.

I've also had just a bit more than 349,000 hits on this website as well.

As always, I do appreciate your dropping by for a read. I hope you come back -- you're very welcome to do so!

Posted by Tom at 5:19 p.m. CDT


Isn't this shameless?

Can you imagine holding up the promotions of 850 officers to extort four C-130s out of the Air Force?

Boy, what comes first for this guy, pork for his state or our military personnel many of whom just fought a war?

I think you know the answer, don't you?

I just got home and I'm quite glad to be here.

I'm still exhausted.

Posted by Tom at 5:07 p.m. CDT

EXHAUSTED 06-08-03

The A.P. U.S. History reading ended about an hour and a half ago.

I'm absolutely exhausted -- grading exams for seven days will really do that to you. I'm pretty sure I graded at least 1,200 exams this week. I also swam 148 laps (7400 meters) this week as well.

I'm currently waiting for a friend to come pick me up. I'll be staying at his house and flying out of S.A. tomorrow morning.

There may be further blogging today -- and there may not.

It depends on if I've got the mental energy or not.

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 3:55 p.m. CDT

GO READ THIS... 06-08-03

great post by Kevin. I'll try to say more about it later but I'm due back in the salt mines.

The A.P. exams should be finished sometime this afternoon.

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

HMMM... 06-08-03

This is quite interesting.

Go read it.

I'm headed out for the last day of the A.P. reading.

More later.

Posted by Tom at 7:15 a.m. CDT


Boy, I think, as Tim Lambert puts it,"I think that by now we can be more than 98% certain that Lott never conducted a survey in 1997."

I think this may be the straw that broke the camel's back folks.

If you recall, I found this rather over-the-top letter by Gross back in January -- the discovery of which was included in Julian Sanchez's excellent Reason article about blogs and the John Lott case in the May issue.

(My April 29th index of my Lott postings is here if you want to remind yourself what this is all about.)

Posted by Tom at 1:18 a.m. CDT


A NYT article and a Guardian article raise significant doubts that those trailers were mobile weapons labs. In fact, actual specialists say that, given the evidence presented so far, the claim is utterly preposterous.

It appears these trailers with the flimsy canvas sides (thus making it virtually impossible they were weapons labs) were actually used for filling artillery weather balloons.

Better yet, the Guardian has discovered these trailers were apparently sold to Iraq by the British for that very purpose back in 1987.

So W gets caught lying yet again.

Every day I'm more and more embarrassed for this nation -- and of the fact that W is our president.

Posted by Tom at 12:52 a.m. CDT


Boy, Laura Callahan's alma mater, Hamilton University, sure does look legit! Have you ever seen a less useful website? It certainly raises suspicions of its diploma mill status, doesn't it? I mean, heck, they're not even going to tell you ANYTHING about their degree programs or curriculums on a UNIVERSITY website? You've got to get a load at some of the pictures of this thing they call a" campus" too. They're certainly worth your time.

And always remember that the crackerjack folks in W's administration passed Callahan on her background check -- impressive, huh?

Here's another story from Government Computer News about Callahan's problems and here's a story from the Washington Post (read down to"Credential U") about it from this week.

Here's the best part of the GCN story:

Hamilton’s material [obviously printed material they send you when you request it, it's not on the website] said it provides degrees to individuals who state that their life and work experiences give them qualifications comparable to those of persons who complete academic courses and theses or dissertations to obtain degrees. The bulk of communications between Hamilton and its customers is via e-mails, faxes and postal mail. Calls to Hamilton go to a voice-mail system.

“They bought an old motel and took it apart and furnished it with stucco. It’s very nice,” said Connie Morris, executive assistant at the Evanston, Wyo., Chamber of Commerce. “They are members of the Chamber. They have two or three employees.”


Hamilton University’s enrollment application and enrollment invitation spell out the simple requirements for students who wish to obtain a Ph.D.

$3,600, payable up front by bank draft or personal check only. Hamilton does not accept credit cards.

Completing one course at home on “personal, business and professional ethics.” Hamilton provides the course workbook, and the student must complete the open-book examination that is included. The school’s materials state the course and test require an average of five to eight hours to complete.

Writing one paper relevant to the area in which the Ph.D. is being sought. The minimum length for the paper is 2,000 words, or roughly four pages, and will “be referred to as a dissertation,” the materials say.

In return, Hamilton promises to deliver “an official diploma in a leather bound holder… of the highest possible quality and carry[ing] the official raised seal of the university.” The organization promises that the “diplomas granted by Hamilton University do not reflect how the degree requirements were met (traditionally or externally).”

Because prospective employers often want to verify a candidate’s education, Hamilton also promises to provide verification of degrees, once the person provides authorization to release the information.

In this case, for instance, when asked via e-mail to verify Callahan’s Ph.D., the registrar’s office of Hamilton University replied, “All requests for degree verification must be made in writing and must be accompanied by an authorization signed by the graduate.”

But Hamilton promises that when it provides transcripts, they will look like real transcripts, even providing numbers, titles and grades for courses the student did not take, because their requirement was waived due to life or work experience. The transcripts will not say the courses were waived, and the grade average shown for an entire transcript will be based on the grades for the at-home test and the dissertation.

A person identifying himself as Dr. R.G. Marn, faculty adviser, said the institution’s privacy policies prevented it from releasing records. He declined to comment on whether Hamilton University is a diploma mill.

I'm sure he did!

A phony transcript too! What a bargain for $3,600!

A four-page dissertation! Man I wrote several hundred too many, didn't I? Heck, I require undergraduates in my 100-level classes to submit several such"dissertations" during the semester!

So a doctoral program requires less than half as much work (my students also take three exams) than my 100-level course does for three hours credit.

Now that's impressive, isn't it?

Certainly sounds like a"diploma mill" to me!

How about you?

Posted by Tom at 6:21 p.m. CDT


apparently bought three fake degrees from a Wyoming diploma mill and used them to get her present job.

Don't you love it when a dishonest person can't stop themselves from going too far? I mean, heck, she bought a bachelor's, master's, AND a PhD from the diploma mill!

Frighteningly enough, both her confirmation hearings by the Republican-controlled senate and her security clearance investigation weren't thorough enough to reveal it.

Boy, if these guys can't even authenticate someone's academic credentials, I'm not sure I want them in charge of anything, you know, actually difficult.

Don't you feel safer now?

Posted by Tom at 12:35 p.m. CDT


Here's your Killer D's update.

BTW, does anyone buy this:

Meanwhile, a state trooper who called the federal Homeland Security Department into the search for a legislator's plane testified that he acted alone with no direction from superiors, according to two officials who sat in on his deposition.

I'm off to breakfast and grading. More later.

Posted by Tom at 7:17 a.m. CDT


Now this is a bit eye-opening, isn't it?

Just a bit more evidence that the adminstration cooked the intelligence books regarding Iraq -- claiming things that were in no way backed by evidence.

Not that I didn't tell you that for months before the war or anything.

Posted by Tom at 1:55 a.m. CDT


Boy, can you only imagine what Republicans would be saying if Janet Rehnquist were a Democratic appointee -- and wasn't daughter of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

The fact that Rehnquist resigned immediately and was taking considerable fire even from Republicans tells you all you need to know now, doesn't it?

I'm not sure this report could've been any more negative about her tenure as Inspector General of HHS.

I have to say I suspect she'd be looking an indictment in the face for her firearms violations if she wasn't you-know-who's daughter.

Interesting, huh?

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


You have to read this article by Pat Holt in the Christian Science Monitor. It's an excellent recap of how well that government overthrow policy has worked over the last fifty years. The astonishing short answer is: it hasn't worked well in any historical case since Guatemala in 1954.

Here's just a bit of it to whet your appetite:

The Bush administration is reported to be considering"destabilizing" - in other words, covertly overthrowing - the Iranian government because of its suspected ties to Al Qaeda terrorist groups. This would be precisely the wrong thing for the United States to do in Iran. If we are to meddle in Iran at all, our efforts ought to be directed against the Islamic clergy and not the elected politicians.

Overthrowing the wrong government would be consistent with a long record by the US, going back to the aftermath of World War II. We paid street mobs to demonstrate against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Mossadegh went into exile and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi returned.

This was not all bad. For 26 years, the shah provided a generally pro-American government. He also ran an efficient and vicious secret police, but there was stability in the Persian Gulf. The Shah made huge arms purchases. He sold oil to Israel. He promoted Westernization. Young women wore blue jeans on the streets; movies were well-attended, boys and girls held hands in public. All of this was distasteful to conservative Islamist elements, but the US was riding high, and the CIA was on a roll.

After 26 years, the discontent that had been accumulating among the radical Islamic clergy boiled over, and in 1979, the shah was driven from power. A radical Islamic government took over and imposed strict religious guidelines on the country. When the government finally permitted elections, a moderate became president, but under close control. This is the faction we ought to be trying to strengthen.

Go read this excellent piece.

Surely we're not getting ready to screw this one up too, are we?

To quote Rummy, we're not"going to do for [Iran] what we did for Afghanistan" (or Iraq of course), are we?

Posted by Tom at 5:37 p.m. CDT


You really should read this column by David Corn. It's quite good.

Oh yeah, here's Atrios's reaction to Lelyveld's appointment as editor of the NYT:

However, upon reading further I discovered Joe ¨don´t know nothing about nothing¨ Lelyveld will return. Now the paper will return to its glory days in the 90s, when under his control the journalistic missteps by the paper destroyed peoples´ lives and tied up a presidency in false scandal after false scandal. You know, stuff that matters. Jeff Gerth is still employed and the Spite Girls will be back retyping RNC oppo research as ¨political analysis¨ just in time for the presidential election.

Back to the exam-scoring rockpile for me folks. More later.

Posted by Tom at 12:41 p.m. CDT

GO READ... 06-06-03

Krugman -- now.

I'm off to breakfast and another day of reading exams folks. More later.

Posted by Tom at 7:15 a.m. CDT

YOU SHOULD READ... 06-06-03

this column by Michael Kinsley. It puts W's"reward the rich and soak the poor" tax scheme in perspective quite well. It is a bit annoying that Kinsley doesn't seem to know that the"separate spheres" argument actually first comes from women's historian Nancy Cott (not Michael Walzer). However, I guess I'll forgive him.

I'm sorry if I'm not blogging sufficiently during my time here in good old S.A. I'm having a ball down here visiting with many old friends. In addition, I also graded at least a couple of hundred A.P. tests, swam 1500 meters, and have done a couple of loads of laundry today.

You can begrudge me that I hope -- can you?

Posted by Tom at 12:41 a.m. CDT


Apparently the Guardian took Wolfowitz's quote out of context or something -- they have even pulled the story with the quote in it. I have removed the offending post linking to this story below as well.

Kevin's got a great discussion of this here.

Posted by Tom at 6:16 p.m. CDT


"What we need to do to make us all safe from terrorism is to give John Ashcroft more power!"


It's nice to see that even Republicans think that loony John is being loonier than normal on this one.

Posted by Tom at 6:03 p.m. CDT


Howell Raines has resigned. I'll admit that I'm not terribly surprised. I can't wait to hear what the slobbering morons over at Faux News will have to say about this, can you?

The real bad news is he's being replaced by Joseph Lelyveld, the shyster whose tenure brought you much more embarrassing disasters for the NYT than Blair -- you know, little things like the pseudoscandal of Whitewater and the incompetent and misleading stories that documented the Wen Ho Lee non-case.

I've posted a lot about this walking-talking-case-study-for-editorial-incompetence (and so has Gene Lyons in his columns) in the last few weeks, so just go read down a bit and check my May archives if you want more details.

Posted by Tom at 12:36 p.m. CDT


You really should read this story about how Cheney and Wolfowitz leaned on CIA analysts to"get it right" in their opinion with regard to Iraq. However, my understanding is the CIA still gave them a much more accurate assessment than the hired gun lapdog datacookers over at the Office of Special Plans (for War with Iraq).

Sorry about not posting again last night. I had too much fun at my friend's house and got in pretty late.

Well I'm off to breakfast and another day of the reading again.

Posted by Tom at 7:15 a.m. CDT

GO READ THIS WEEK'S... 06-04-03

Public Opinion Watch. It's quite interesting.

I've got to go watch my Spurs tonight at a friend's house.

More later.

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


Here's Gene's column for the week!

Bend it Like Jayson: The Ethics of Celebrity Journalists

As one with firsthand experience of The New York Times' arrogant condescension, I've enjoyed watching its editors get a comeuppance. Back when the newspaper invented the Whitewater hoax, executive editor Joe Lelyveld accused me of"wild and shoddy journalism" for deconstructing its coverage. Declining to appear at a Harper's magazine forum at the National Press Club, he maligned my work in a privately-circulated letter to Times subscribers alarmed by its revelations. Typical.

In the end, my reporting held up. Badly-written Times dispatches filled with semi-facts and half-truths did not. Reporting a $200,000 real estate deal ain't brain surgery. Correct the errors, fill in the blanks, and Whitewater's"scandalous" aspects disappeared. But Times editors chose to help GOP partisans hogtie a president rather than write a correction. Had Lelyveld paid attention, he might have been spared the Wen Ho Lee fiasco, among others. Alas for years, the newspaper's unvarying response to outside criticism has been :"We're the New York Times and you're not."

Well, former Times reporters Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg and, some say, columnist Maureen Dowd have certainly taken care of that.

But enough is enough. Blair's plagiarism and fabrications were embarrassing, but trivial in effect. Bragg's use of an unacknowleged stringer to conduct interviews was reckless and arrogant, but The Times uses reporting by unacknowledged"stringers" all the time. The difference is that editors make the assignments and the newspaper pays them. Bragg's assistant was off the books.

But if we're going to talk about phony New York Times bylines, let's turn the wayback machine to 1996. Specifically May 4, when the Associated Press filed a story accurately pointing out that Kenneth Starr's prosecutors rested their case against Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and Jim and Susan McDougal"without showing how Clinton benefited from a $300,000 loan as another witness had claimed." That witness was David Hale, the noted embezzler.

The AP even quoted prosecutor Ray Jahn acknowledging that an FBI agent's failure to link the $300,000 loan to Clinton damaged Hale's credibility, but not his case. Indeed, Jahn's closing argument portrayed Clinton as an innocent victim of Jim McDougal's schemes, as The Times and the rest failed to report.

But the AP dispatch got turned inside-out at the New York Times. When it appeared in the nation's newspaper of record, the article claimed that"jurors heard an FBI agent testify that nearly $50,000 from a $300,000 loan was used to cover Whitewater expenses." Jahn's explanation of why the agent's testimony didn't hurt his case vanished, replaced by a detailed summary of testimony that hadn't been given.

The article's byline was also misleading. Contacted by former Des Moines Register editorial page editor Gil Cranberg, the AP stood by its story. It had no idea where the"information" in the make-believe Times rewrite came from. (Probably OIC leaks.) Needless to say, the mighty Times refused comment. A stickler for accuracy and proper sourcing, Cranberg wrote it up for Harvard University's Nieman Reports.

In short, the famous"$50,000 benefit to Whitewater" cited in many articles, columns and TV news shows over the next few years was as fictive as anything invented by Jayson Blair. The byline was more misleading than Rick Bragg's, putting the AP's imprimatur on erroneous information neither reported nor written by its reporters. (If anybody wants to argue, I have the the agent's testimony on a floppy disk.)

Imagine the uproar on the right if somebody made up"FBI testimony" hurtful to President Bush, then hid behind a bogus byline. The offender would be hunted down and driven from journalism--and properly so.

Under what I called"the Clinton rules," however, things were different, and it was mainly the New York Times and Washington Post that made them so. Read Sid Blumenthal's engrossing book"The Clinton Wars" to find out why.

Did Times columnist Maureen Dowd alter a statement by President Bush to make him appear more callow and boastful? Clearly, she did. Under the"Clinton rules," however, such trickery was commonplace. This column once exposed a 1995"Nightline" broadcast that deleted 39 words from a statement by Hillary Clinton, then accused her of covering up the very information it cut. Last week, Chris Vlasto, the show's producer, was quoted questioning Blumenthal's ethics in the Washington Post.

Also criticizing Blumenthal was Michael Isikoff, the Newsweek sex sleuth whose book"Uncovering Clinton" reveals in a footnote on page 365 that, having examined her employment records, he knew Paula Jones's claims of job discrimination against President Clinton were false on the day she filed her lawsuit--precisely the grounds on which it was eventually dismissed. Yet he kept that knowledge to himself and spent years attacking those who doubted her of a" cultural double standard" and an"elitist attitude."

Would that be the elitist prejudice in favor of reporting the truth?


Posted by Tom at 12:45 p.m. CDT


Go read it.

I'm off for breakfast and another day of reading A.P. exams.

Posted by Tom at 7:15 a.m. CDT


Go read this.

My favorite part has to be this paragraph:

Once upon a time, we impeached a sitting President for lying under oath about sexual trysts. No one died, no one had their legs or arms or face or genitals blown off because of the lies of a President who had been caught with his pants down. Today in America, we endure a sitting President who lied for months about the threat posed by a sovereign nation. That nation was invaded and attacked, and thousands died because of it. The aftereffects of this action will be felt for generations to come. The very democracy which gives us meaning as a country has been put in peril by these deeds. When the smoke cleared, every reason for that war was proven to be a lie.
And the astonishing thing to me is that, if the economy improves, no one will give a damn.

Posted by Tom at 12:42 a.m. CDT


here. (If you're using RealPlayer it's the sixth dot over on the bar -- about 28 minutes in.)

It's wonderful. You really should watch O'Reilly's disingenuous and quite intemperate response. Molly Ivins' rejoinder is quite good as well.

BTW, isn't the title of O'Reilly's book hilarious?"Who's Looking Out for You?" Bill O'Reilly sure as hell isn't. He's looking out for number 1 and his millions but not you my dear readers.

Posted by Tom at 11:46 p.m. CDT


Great post by Nitpicker today about this frightening story that W and the boys plan to add a death row and gas chamber to Gitmo. (His permalinks are bloggered, the title of this post is the title of his.)

Here's my favorite part:

What the Chickenhawk Republicans in the administration fail to appreciate – perhaps because they have dedicated themselves to allowing others to fight in their stead – is that soldiers know that there are reasons for the rules of war. By refusing to meet the standard of the Geneva Conventions, the Bush Administration is acting in a manner which is no better than that of the NVA soldiers who broke John McCain’s arms repeatedly or the Japanese soldiers who bayoneted sick men on the roads of Bataan. By refusing to honor the requirements of a decent nation, the executive branch is making it much more likely that our own soldiers will meet with indecent treatment at the hands of future enemies.

The Bush Administration seems to believe that they have the right to demand that the rest of the world meet a certain standard of conduct. I still cannot comprehend where they feel that moral authority comes from when they fail to meet even this minimum standard of decency that the entire world agreed upon so long ago.

As I said a little more than two months ago (discussing this excellent post by Kos):

You'll note that Kos says the military was against this"enemy non-combatant" designation for Taliban prisoners precisely because they believed it would make it harder for us to insist that enemies treat our prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

But W and the boys would hear none of it. Therefore, they really should bear some of the responsibility for how our soldiers are being treated. Once again, they've really screwed up.

At some point our behavior at Gitmo is going to be responsible for something horrific happening to our soldiers somewhere.

I'm sure we'll hear some bizarre stuff out of W and the boys then, won't we?

Sean-Paul's on the way. I'm outta here.

Posted by Tom at 7:17 p.m. CDT


Atrios has an excellent post up that makes an important point that is being ignored by the SCLM:

The only evidence we need to know that the administration is simply in CYA mode is the fact they don't seem very concerned about the"missing" WMD. If they really believed they existed, the hunt for them wouldn't be motivated by a desire to justify the war, it would be motivated by the very legitimate desire to make sure the deadly weapons were not in the hands of evil-doers. Since the administration isn't sounding the alarm along these lines, it's obvious they're unconcerned. They just want to find some scrap of something - a la the ridiculous mobile"labs" - to pacify the media and dupe the public.

If there were WMDs, and we can't find them, then we have problems.

That is interesting, isn't it? They really don't seem to be that concerned, do they? This lackadaisacal attempt on their part certainly does seem to suggest they lied, doesn't it? If not, and the WMD do exist, then it's just sheer incompetence.

Boy, there's a surprise. Sheer incompetence by this administration? Say it isn't so!

I'm waiting for Sean-Paul (you know of the Agonist) to come by. We're heading out to dinner this evening.

I'll blog some more later.

Posted by Tom at 6:48 p.m. CDT


Here's what it looks like.

Or is it just slothful and willful ignorance on the part of the American people?

I report, you decide.

Posted by Tom at 12:40 p.m. CDT


Boy, Thomas White won't be getting a Christmas card from Rummy anytime soon.

Oh yeah, here's that U.S. News article on cooked intelligence.

I'm off to breakfast and then grading.

Posted by Tom at 7:15 a.m. CDT

KRUGMAN ON W'S S.O.P. 06-03-03

Go read it.

Isn't it nice to have someone actually reading the foreign press and writing about it?

Here's my favorite part -- and it sounds similar to something I've said a few times (the most recent example is here):

It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.

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


Here's a good article about the current ridiculous claim by W and the boys that they've found WMD in Iraq. Let's just say the CIA report on this is inconclusive at best.

BTW, you really should be reading Josh Marshall. He's got so many good posts up I can't pick one or two to highlight here. I'm still trying to catch up from being out of pocket for a day or two.

Anyway, go read TPM.

Posted by Tom at 11:45 p.m. CDT

TERRY AT THE... 06-02-03

Nitpicker is back from his self-medicated hiatus.

Buddy, I do understand it.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 p.m. CDT

GO READ... 06-02-03

Phil Carpenter.

Be sure to take a gander at his comment boards. The ditto-monkeys are frothing at the mouth over this one! Phil points out that Republicans are screwing up the budget and passing bills that will drive the deficit up incredibly and it makes them, uh, a bit angry!

Posted by Tom at 8:27 p.m. CDT

THANKS! 06-02-03

A short while ago, I had my 230,000th visitor via Shermaclay. I've also had more than 332,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter as well. It's been about ten days since I had my 220,000th visitor.

I do appreciate your dropping by folks. I know you have a choice when you read blogs and I'm glad you come here. I hope to make it worth a return visit.

I just got done with my swimming workout. Just as I did they told everyone to get out of the pool.

There was a tornado warning you see.

Yep. I'm in Texas all right.

Posted by Tom at 6:02 p.m. CDT



Maybe this war wasn't such a good idea after all.

I'm on my lunchbreak from the A.P. reading. I won't really be able to blog much during the day this week because I'll be reading A.P. exams. I'll try to blog some at night.

It's still hot here by the way.

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

MORAT MY MAN... 06-02-03

I really wish we could meet (scroll down to"Summers in Texas") as well. I have deeper roots in Texas than I often acknowledge, mainly because Texas has apparently gone politically insane over the last thirty years or so. To be entirely forthcoming, I'm actually a native Texan. I was born in Beeville, Texas in 1967.

My grandfather, Thomas M. Spencer, Sr. (I'm Thomas M. Spencer III) has been called"the father of the community college movement in Texas" and was a wonderful man and outstanding educator in Texas. I often wish I could talk with him about Texas history and politics but he died in 1985.

My father, Thomas M. Spencer, Jr. also continues to be active in the community college movement as president of Garland County Community College in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He's a legend in community college development in Arkansas and was essentially"the father of the community college movement" in Arkansas. He was instrumental in creating community colleges in Arkansas in the 1970s.

Needless to say, I'm proud of both of my namesakes.

Just a little family background folks -- please indulge me on this occasion.

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

READ THIS... 06-02-03

and for goodness sakes, be a little more tolerant the next time you're in a restaurant!

It's a great post.

And also remember to send that e-mail to MSNBC about Michael Savage.

[Link via Atrios]

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


I've been out of pocket so I'm catching up on my CalPundit reading. One of the best of Kevin's many good posts is this one about the lies about WMD:

At this point I'd say that these guys have about the same scruples as used car salesmen, but I'm afraid that might be unfair to used car salesmen.

What I don't understand is why people on the right aren't more upset about this. A lot of liberals felt deeply betrayed by Clinton when the truth about Monica Lewinsky came out — and said so repeatedly. Most of us didn't think it rose to the level of an impeachable offense, but we were seriously pissed off that we had supported a guy who lied so baldly about this.

Shouldn't war supporters be feeling the same way? George Bush is your guy, and even if we do eventually find some small amount of WMD it's getting more and more obvious that he fabricated the entire public justification for the war. Aren't you at all angry about that?

Surely righties aren't such subservient lock-steppers that they are even honor-bound to support obvious fraud by their guy, right?

And I'm starting to get pretty pissed every time I hear people try to blame this on intelligence failures. Guys, the CIA told them this was bullshit but they didn't like that so they created the Office of Special Plans (for War with Iraq) to tell them what they did want to hear. The administration essentially brought these guys in consciously to cook the books for them. The intelligence services, from what I can tell, did their job. The administration didn't like what they told them so they brought in their own guys to gin it up to their satisfaction.

This"intelligence failures" bull is W and the boys, once again, trying to wriggle off and escape blame for their conscious decision to cook the intelligence books on Iraq.

We shouldn't let them get away with it.

Posted by Tom at 6:45 p.m. CDT


This is an excellent interview with Robin Cook. You should read it.

BTW, if you saw the Sunday morning talking head shows, you know that the administration is taking serious fire on this now -- even from some of the more subservient pundits. Mr."Conventional Wisdom" and (in the immortal words of Atrios)"Useless Relic" David Broder is even beginning to say rather pointed things about this.

It may take a while but perhaps W will pay a political price for the astonishingly dishonest way he sold this war to the American people. Now, admittedly, none of this is anything you didn't hear from me for months before we went to war but now I'm reading it from columnists nationwide.

You know, it's pretty frustrating to be reading people saying exactly what you did months ago BEFORE the damned war. If you read this blog you know I pointed to the bogus case W was making immediately.

I'm now in San Antonio at the old alma mater for the A.P. U.S. history reading.

It's 95 degrees here -- and humid. Yuck.

I think it's time to hit the pool if it's open.

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

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