Spencer Blog Archives: 7-03

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this terrorist futures market fiasco is that Poindexter is gone.

Boy, you get the idea W and the boys were looking for any excuse to cut him loose, don't you?

I've been really busy today. Did I miss anything?

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Posted by Tom at 10:55 p.m. CDT


It's just another day for the Bush administration's constantly changing story about the reasons we went to war with Iraq, huh?

First of all, you remember all the hub-bub about the fellow who hid the centrifuge parts under his rosebush?

Well, hilariously, even he says the administration is wrong about those aluminum tubes:

The White House, for instance, has cited the case of nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi, who recently dug up plans and components for a gas centrifuge that he said he buried in 1991 at the end of the Persian Gulf War. The White House has pointed to the discovery as a sign of Hussein's continuing nuclear ambitions, but Obeidi told his interrogators that Iraq's nuclear program was dormant in the years before war began in March.

The sources said Obeidi also disputed evidence cited by the administration -- namely Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes that various officials said were for a new centrifuge program to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. Obeidi said the tubes were for rockets, as Iraq had said before the war.

CIA analysts do not believe he has told the whole truth, said one Bush administration official. Obeidi has left Iraq under CIA auspices after being arrested briefly by U.S. Army troops.

No wonder we haven't heard anything from the W propaganda machine about this guy recently. His story doesn't fit the administration's agenda now. In fact, the administration has found damn-near nothing in its interrogations of Iraqi scientists who, quite honestly, have no reason to lie to us now. I do hope something hasn't happened to this fellow in"protective CIA custody" since April. We all know just how careful the military and CIA are in interrogations these days, right?

Josh Marshall has a great post on this here.

While you're there, you really ought to read this post as well. It's a great one about how W and the administration is now trying to pretend this war wasn't about existing WMDs at all, it was all about discovering evidence that Saddam EVER HAD ANY weapons programs:

You can see where this is going, can't you? This is really great-moments-in-goal-post-moving. Saddam had a weapons program.

And how can you believe he didn't have a weapons program, when he actually used the weapons from his weapons programs, albeit fifteen years ago.

This isn't just a slip of the tongue or a Bushism. This is where we're going. As the White House now wants to define it, the question is whether Iraq ever had a weapons program. Or, to put it more precisely, whereas some people are foolish enough to believe that the standard is whether Saddam actually still had the weapons programs we know he once had, the real standard is whether Saddam actually once had the weapons programs we know he once had.

This is too silly to even talk about. Everybody knows that's not what we're talking about.

Indeed. Isn't it astonishing that these guys were telling us all only four short months ago that there were thousands of gallons of dangerous and deadly chemical and biological weapons in Iraq -- and now they're reduced to this level of silliness in order to justify the earlier story about the war?

I don't know. Maybe the average American will fall for this -- they've bought stories almost as ridiculous from this adminstration before -- but I seriously doubt it.

Nice try though.

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


of immorality.

We've tortured a couple of folks to death in Afghanistan.

Better yet, the administration lied about it when they first told the story back in December:

American military officials acknowledged that two prisoners captured in Afghanistan in December had been killed while under interrogation at Bagram air base north of Kabul – reviving concerns that the US is resorting to torture in its treatment of Taliban fighters and suspected al-Qa'ida operatives.

A spokesman for the air base confirmed that the official cause of death of the two men was"homicide", contradicting earlier accounts that one had died of a heart attack and the other from a pulmonary embolism.

The men's death certificates, made public earlier this week, showed that one captive, known only as Dilawar, 22, from the Khost region, died from"blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease" while another captive, Mullah Habibullah, 30, suffered from blood clot in the lung that was exacerbated by a"blunt force injury".

Great. Just great.

(And, yes, if you're a longtime reader, it's the same folks I blogged about in December here. If you want to review my view of torture (written in response to the reports we were torturing people in December), go here.)

What is this administration going to do next, invade a sovereign nation on a flimsy pretext, kill thousands of civilians while costing hundreds of American lives, and then, after it's all over, lie to us yet again, this time about exactly WHY it is we went to war?

Oh yeah. They already did that.

Never mind.

[Link via Atrios]

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Posted by Tom at 8:58 a.m. CDT


Boy, the wheels really are coming off this administration, aren't they?

In an apparent reversal of policy, the Transportation Security Administration will immediately begin scheduling air marshals back on cross-country and international flights, MSNBC.com has learned. The move comes less than 24 hours after MSNBC.com reported that air marshals were being pulled from those flights because of budget problems associated with the costs of overnight lodging for the marshals.

THE DEPARTMENT of Homeland Security on Wednesday blamed the confusion on a mixup in communication and said the department had been working with air marshal officials on Monday to correct the situation.

And if you believe what happened yesterday was the result of a"mixup," I've got some prime beachfront property with sugar white sand in St. Louie I'd love to show you.

The folks in the administration didn't think they were going to get caught pinching pennies in the air marshal program (in order to pay for the taxcut for the rich), so they thought they'd give it a try. Unfortunately for them, they got caught when the press got wind of it. Anyone could see what an idiotic idea that is -- except someone who thinks taxcuts for the rich are the first priority in all situations of course.

In other words, anyone except people who are at the upper echelons of this"tax cuts for the rich come first" administration.

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


Chuck Kuffner has a good update. So does Josh Marshall and Morat.

It is astonishing that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is having to warn Governor Goodhair not to hire bounty hunters to kidnap the Democrats, isn't it?

I'm really busy so I don't really have anything else to add right now.

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Posted by Tom at 12:46 p.m. CDT


I've been busy. What did I miss?

Anyway, here's Gene Lyons's latest!

Getting to Know the General

In a recent column urging Gen. Wesley Clark to run for president, I mentioned a friend who questioned his political skills. Because Clark failed to recognize her after a couple of meetings as David Pryor or Bill Clinton would have, she suspected he lacked the personal charm to which Arkansas voters respond. After it appeared, I got a call from a book publicist who'd helped Clark with his book Waging Modern War.

At every appearance, she said, many in the audience were veterans who'd served under Clark during his three decades as an Army officer. The general, she said, recognized every single one, greeting them by name. She'd never seen him hesitate.

Given that Clark's willpower and ambition have been recognized since he graduated first in his West Point class in 1966, this struck me as a telling anecdote. Not every military hero earns the affection and respect of his men. I had two uncles who served as infantry grunts under Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Phillipines and in Korea. They thought him a vainglorious megalomaniac who'd sacrificed soldier's lives to win medals for himself--not necessarily history's judgement, but theirs.

Interestingly, it's a theme Clark himself discussed with the authors of two recent magazine profiles, by Tom Junod in the current Esquire (esquire.com/features/articles/2003/030801 mfe clark 1.html) and Duncan Murrell in the May/June Oxford American. Both are worth looking up for anybody intrigued with the idea of a Clark candidacy.

Clark told Murrell that Americans' current tendency to lionize the military is partly due to post-9/11 fear, partly to lack of experience with the real thing."We've been the beneficiaries of that lack of familiarity," he said, sentimentalizing soldiers as patriotic icons without feeling the necessity of serving. One result, as Murrell writes, is politicians who feel free"to use the military as a symbol, sending soldiers off to wars that don't affect most American families directly by putting their children in harm's way."

Hence the popularity of a manifest fraud like President Junior--who used his father's political connections to secure a cushy spot in the Texas Air National Guard, got himself grounded after finishing flight school, and appears never to have showed up in Alabama to complete his commitment--swaggering across an aircraft carrier deck in a flightsuit with"Commander in Chief" emblazoned on the front. An earlier generation would have laughed, but millions who resented Bill Clinton's artfully sidestepping Vietnam are thrilled by George W. Bush's"Top Gun" theatrics.

Now hear Clark, who despite being one of the first West Point cadets to ask"Why are we in Vietnam?" his instructors say, earned a Purple Heart and the Silver Star in combat there:"I think a time like this is an interesting point in American history. Many of the things that we've taken for granted, that have shaped our international strategy, our domestic environment--they're up for grabs right now. We got walloped on 9/11, and now Americans are asking themselves what's out there. They're saying 'Hey! Man, these people are supposed to like us! And what happened with Russia and the Soviet Union? Where is China?' Ordinary Americans are now much more interested in the world beyond. And in combination with the war on terror, you've got a sort of rollback to a sort of imperial presidency, a presidency that's much more private, and an investigatory service with greater authority to come after ordinary Americans. We thought we put that to rest after the excesses of the Nixon administration and Vietnam. I believed that when I fought in Vietnam I represented the right of all Americansto express their views. So I'm concerned."

As a CNN military analyst, Clark opposed the rush to substitute Saddam Hussein for Osama bin Laden as Public Enemy #1. Like many Army generals, he thought U.S. forces much too light on the ground--fearing precisely the chaos that's enveloped Iraq since Baghdad fell.The Bush administration, he warned in April, had"gloated much too soon."

The great theme of the post-Vietnam military reforms that transformed the U.S. Army, he explained to Esquire, was personal accountability."In the Navy, when a ship runs aground," he said"the commanding officer is relieved of duty, no matter what the reason. Now, I'm not saying we ought to hold politicians to that standard, but still..."

He didn't finish the thought, but he did say"the ultimate consideration for anyone running for president against George Bush [is] 'how much pain you can bear.'" My hope is that watching this administration of country club toughs stonewall a proper 9/11 investigation, deceive the American people about a non-existent Iraqi nuclear threat, then alibi that it's not Junior's fault because the president and his national security advisor failed to read the"National Intelligence Estimate," will convince Clark that his country needs him again.

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Posted by Tom at 12:20 p.m. CDT


And why the cutback? Why to pay for W's big taxcut for the rich of course!

It's official folks. W's big taxcut is now making us all less safe.

How's that for misplaced priorities?

Holy cow. Like I've said many times, you can safely blame W for the damage caused from next terrorist attack.

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Posted by Tom at 11:03 p.m. CDT


Boy, now we really know what's important to this administration, don't we? It's not the war on terror, is it?

In early 2002, the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida — “Operation Enduring Freedom” — was revving high. U.S. commandos readied themselves for lightning strikes in the dusty plains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Yemen; aerial drones buzzed the skies rigged with cameras and missiles, controlled by technicians on the ground; surveillance planes high overhead listened for electronic whispers of Taliban holdouts.

BUT, AS “Operation Enduring Freedom” kept al-Qaida on the run, the White House was already planning for war against Iraq. Sources say that in the spring of 2002, key weapons in the war against terror — such as the commandos, the drones and the high-tech surveillance planes — were rotated out of Afghanistan. Now experts tell NBC there was a clear tradeoff as the United States let up on al-Qaida to pursue regime change in Iraq.

A former national security official in the Bush administration tells NBC News Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers the White House was warned that the buildup against Saddam might provide a respite for Osama bin Laden and his henchmen. “There were decisions made,” says Flynt Leverett, a former director at the National Security Council in the Bush White House, “to take key assets, human assets, technical assets, out of theater in Afghanistan in order to position them for the campaign to unseat Saddam.”

Leverett, a former senior CIA analyst, talks with the professorial precision of an academic. “We see today,” he says, “that al-Qaida has been able to reconstitute leadership cells in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and it would seem in Eastern Iran.”

So much for the War on Terror being the administration's top priority, huh? Now we're all in greater danger due to W's obsession with Saddam.

How many times do these guys have to demonstrate they're incompetent before Americans begin to hold them responsible for it?

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


In an excellent post today, Atrios writes about how the daily deaths of American soldiers is rapidly becoming just ho-hum stuff that doesn't even make the front page anymore.

Atrios also posts a comment from Christian Bauman, a novelist whose The Ice Beneath You I really must read soon, that is on the mark:

What's happening right now in Iraq, this constant-24/7-fear-of-being-shot-by-every-person-I-see was life as usual for American soldiers in Somalia, the beginning of Haiti, Bosnia... Half the time Americans didn't know we had troops there, and if they did, it was easily brushed off."Well, it's not a war, right?"

No. In some ways, psychologically, it's worse.

So now here we are,"major combat over," and I fear this is happening again. Army families were fun to film 6 months ago, when they were all teary goodbyes. Now, it's just unpaid bills and small kids developing behavior problems and ulcers forming -- and none of that is very interesting to network TV news.

And this is exactly why I didn't want this war. I knew this would be what the aftermath was like. And I'm also damn tired of the"killed in combat" shell game the administration is playing and the media is going along with it. They talk about the number"killed in combat" and ignore the other 70 or so who were killed in other ways. Folks, these men were killed in Iraq, whether it was a car accident or a gunshot, they're no less dead and they wouldn't be there otherwise. I can assure you their families don't see it any differently.

But I've decided that Bush may be in bigger trouble over this war than he thought judging from a recent experience of mine. When we were discussing the early Cold War and the Marshall Plan in my survey class the other day, I had a student say to me in class"Why do we rebuild these countries? It sure is expensive!"

Now this student was asking this in a philosophical way, wanting to talk about the assumptions behind it. I like"teaching moments" like that so we spent a little while talking about it. We then had a discussion in which we talked about the reasons for reconstructing countries after a war. One student said we do it because"it's humane." I said"it's our responsibility to do it since we're responsible for the war and the destruction in the first place." We, of course, also eventually talked about the Treaty of Versailles and Afghanistan and how leaving a steaming pile of rubble can lead to some dangerous demagogic folks rising to power in a country and thus endangering us all. Eventually one of my students wanted to talk about how this administration hid the cost of the war until the war had essentially started so that Americans wouldn't object to the cost.

At this point, one student said,"Oh, it's all about oil. That's all it is." And, to my astonishment, the entire class agreed. I even talked with them a bit more seeing if I could change their minds and I couldn't. One student even said"Yeah. That's what all the death and destruction is all about. It's all for oil."

Now if my twenty-year-olds are already that cynical about the war (and college-age folks are often awfully disengaged and uninterested in current events), the president could indeed be in for, to use Krugman's words, a"terrible reckoning." My students are already talking about soldiers as if they are pawns in this big game for oil and power -- and they don't think there's really anything they can do about it.

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Posted by Tom at 9:53 a.m. CDT


Krugman's column is good today.

I think this passage is particularly on-target:

But while Mr. Bush's poll numbers have fallen back to prewar levels, he hasn't suffered a Blair-like collapse. Why?

One answer, surely, is the kid-gloves treatment Mr. Bush has always received from the news media, a treatment that became downright fawning after Sept. 11. There was a reason Mr. Blair's people made such a furious attack on the ever-skeptical BBC.

Another answer may be that in modern America, style trumps substance. Here's what Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said in a speech last week:"To gauge just how out of touch the Democrat leadership is on the war on terror, just close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet on the deck of that aircraft carrier." To say the obvious, that remark reveals a powerful contempt for the public: Mr. DeLay apparently believes that the nation will trust a man, independent of the facts, because he looks good dressed up as a pilot. But it's possible that he's right.

What must worry the Bush administration, however, is a third possibility: that the American people gave Mr. Bush their trust because in the aftermath of Sept. 11, they desperately wanted to believe the best about their president. If that's all it was, Mr. Bush will eventually face a terrible reckoning.


Now go read the rest of it.

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

UH-OH 07-29-03

Judging from the comment boards, it appears I offended some with my wisecracks about engineers. For that I do apologize. I do have to say I have a great deal of experience with engineers and I'm just calling it like I see it. Honestly, folks, some of my better friends are engineers and we've talked about this. My wisecracks come from those conversations.

However, in light of this, I also can't help but enjoy this comment from the board about the brouhaha and, apparently, I need to add another symptom to this definition of"engineers disease": Can often lead one to become quite thin-skinned and therefore unable to take criticism.

Again, folks, in no way did I mean to offend. Please accept my apology. I just have noted this in my lifetime of experience. I'm guessing if what I said wasn't so close to the truth it wouldn't have made some folks so angry.

As I've noted many times in my life, some engineers have a rather high opinion of themselves after all.

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


Ah, the fun has started in Texas. As usual, my college buddy Chuck Kuffner has this morning's Killer D's update. I'd write something but Chuck really has it covered.

You'll note that the Texas DPS and Homeland Security will NOT be involved this time.

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Posted by Tom at 8:19 a.m. CDT

AH, THE INTELLECT... 07-28-03

of the average engineer. Isn't it a treat to behold?

Engineers are generally of significantly above-average intelligence, but they're generally a pretty incurious and conservative lot. Heck, most engineers will freely admit they majored in engineering because it paid well and only required four years in school. I've taught many of them in my time and have had many friends (past and present) who are engineers.

God bless them, they're usually very bright but often astonishingly ignorant folks. That means that often their arguments about non-engineering subjects consist of little more than the repeating of tired cliches. Den Beste is certainly exhibit A at the moment.

I guess it's all that coursework in which they're told there's only ONE right answer to every question -- or something.

I'm not really sure it's their fault ultimately (I honestly think they're a strange sort of"engineering culture" that is to blame) but I pass along these observations anyway.

If you want to read Joe Conason's devastating analysis of Den Beste's column, go here.

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Posted by Tom at 9:28 p.m. CDT


As predicted here a couple of days ago, Democrats in the Texas Senate have flown the coop.

They've headed to Albuquerque to wait out Governor Goodhair's second special session on redistricting.

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Posted by Tom at 8:15 p.m. CDT

THANKS AGAIN! 07-28-03

A few hours ago, I had my 320,000th visitor. I don't know where the link came from because I was otherwise occupied (working on the kitchen staff at my church's Vacation Bible School) at the time. It's been about a week since I had my 310,000th visitor.

I've also had more than 457,000 hits since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year. You know, that's a lot of hits!

As always, folks, I do appreciate your coming by for a visit. I know you have a choice when you read blogs and I'm glad one of your choices is me. I hope to give you good reasons to come on back for a return visit.

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

DR. KLEIMAN... 07-28-03

is this going to be on the test?

Are we doing anything important in class tomorrow?

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


Terry at Nitpicker points us to the most ridiculous column ever by pater-plagiarist Bill Kristol. Bill is claiming W ordered his staff to look like morons the last few weeks. It was all part of his cunning plan after all.

Terry's right. This is pretty damned desperate.

I'm pretty sure that a good plan probably wouldn't involve your administration getting mired in a scandal that would result in your approval ratings dropping 10-15 points to nearly 50% and the majority of Americans deeming you untrustworthy, would it?

I don't know. I could be wrong I guess.

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Posted by Tom at 3:15 p.m. CDT


Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note:"If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because,"It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been released in due course, he added later.
My goodness. I'm speechless.

How far down in the mud do W and the boys plan to drag the name of this great nation, anyway?

[Link via Atrios]

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Posted by Tom at 1:11 p.m. CDT


No I'm not writing about our recently-outted-for-lying-former-moral-czar in this post but about the Wilson-Plame affair. Mark Kleiman had an excellent post over the weekend about the"eerie silence" that surrounds this story:

And the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy, and Kausfiles are all eerily silent. What are they waiting for? Anyone who still believes in the mythical liberal media is invited to imagine what the state of play of this story two weeks in would have been under the Clinton Administration or under a hypothetical Gore Administration.
I mentioned Insty's silence on this story a few days ago. It is interesting to see just how selective the righties are in their moral outrage these days, isn't it? Can you imagine the thunderous denunciations we'd be hearing of Clinton's or a Gore administration? Why we'd be hearing a call for an immediate impeachment of the president and vice president! I think Republicans would be trying to schedule the trial for next week sometime.

I repeat, for emphasis, this is not some suggestion of a potential felony by someone at the White House, this clearly is one. If you read the law there's no wiggle room on this at all. Furthermore, this insidious act also damaged our national security and endangered the lives, potentially, of as many as a hundred people.

You'd think the press would find this worth their time to investigate wouldn't you? And, surely, Mark and others aren't right in their assertion that the press is going to overlook this because they're"sucking up to their sources." That would be amoral and it would, of course, demonstrate that Gene Lyons's"Clinton rules" really do exist.

Surely someone in Big Media is going to look into this, right?

Soon, right?

And let me add my voice to Kevin's, what about it Josh?

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


Roger Ailes (no, not the bald repulsive McCarthyistic one) has the details.

It's hilarious that the moral scold who went on and on about Clinton's white lies regarding a blowjob now has to admit he lied in his public statements about his gambling habits a couple of months back.

Roger also points out how Bennett is a first class hypocrite -- using Bennett's own words to hang him.

Bennett's done, huh? I hope he saved some of the millions of dollars he made the last decade. I don't think anyone will be buying any more books about morals from"Mr. Virtue."

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Posted by Tom at 3:46 p.m. CDT


Since the recall is on, you can see the long knives are coming out for Issa and Ahnuld Schwarzenegger judging from these two stories from an Orange County lefty publication.

I love the last article because it mentions Arnold's father's Nazi past but also mentions W's grandfather Prescott Bush's (treasonous) past with the Nazis as well. (If you want to know a bit more about this, go here.)

It's pretty pitiful that the Republicans have managed to get this recall and have no one worth a damn to run for the office, huh? I mean, heck, the three-time-indicted for car theft Issa and the action movie actor who often can't remember Davis's name don't exactly impress, do they? Of course, Republicans are always finding ways to short circuit democratic processes (impeachment, Florida 2000, Bush v. Gore and this recall effort to name the most recent examples) these days. It serves them right that now that they've actually got a shot at the California governor's race they don't really have anyone to run.

This is going to get awfully ugly folks. At least it will provide us a bit of entertainment for the next couple of months. And we can all thank our lucky stars that our state isn't so"lucky" as to have this sort of idiocy going on for the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, the California budget crisis isn't solving itself and Republicans are taking a genuine chance at a 1998-style impeachment backlash in the state in next year's elections for wasting time and state resources like this.

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Posted by Tom at 3:13 p.m. CDT


You requested it -- and I delivered. If you check the box over to the right above the blogroll, the links will open in a new window. If you don't, it will be as before.

Special thanks to Kriselda Jarnsaxa of Different Strings for sending me the code and instructions on how to make the check box dohicus work.

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Posted by Tom at 2:10 p.m. CDT


or is W's"Bring 'em on" comment looking unfathomably stupid right now?

I do think, ultimately, that comment may go down as possibly the lowest moment in presidential discourse. It was so amazingly irresponsible of W to bait the Iraqi resistance like that.

And, by the way, what idiot in this administration really believed killing Uday and Qusay would lessen the violence against our soldiers?

If the violence is being perpetrated by Baathist loyalists, killing Hussein's sons just made them more angry and more determined, not less.

I figured that out and I'm not being paid six figures by someone to serve as some sort of expert.

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


I agree with Hesiod, this interview with Uday's former bodyguard is fascinating.

Give it a look.

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Posted by Tom at 8:16 p.m. CDT


I'm pondering making a change in the way I code the links on this blog. I'm considering making the links in the blog entries open in new windows. It will make coding the links a little more difficult, but I'm willing to do it. If you didn't already know, I don't use blogging software. I write this blog directly into html. As Chuck Kuffner so elegantly put it, I"roll my own."

Now, I am told that the"new windows" thing annoys some readers. I'm not necessarily in the mood to annoy people. Therefore, since I'm not really committed one way or the other, dear readers, I thought I'd open the issue up to the floor.

What do you think?

Anyway, please leave your opinion on the matter on the comment board for this blog.

While we're at it, you should feel free to pass on any other suggestions or requests you might have about the blog. We aim to please here at HNN. It was, after all, in response to reader requests that you got the handy font select thingy at the top of the page.

(I'm sure"thingy" isn't the technical term for it but, come to think of it, the only things I know about html are from practice. I don't know what you call anything in html.)

Anyway, I await your opinions.

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Posted by Tom at 12:16 p.m. CDT


The Texas G.O.P. has failed in its unprecedented midterm congressional seat grab in Texas. So, what do you do when you lose? Why you change the rules so you can win of course! Look for more entertainment from Texas soon. In short, another walkout by Democrats appears likely -- this time in the Texas Senate.

And speaking of rank hypocrisy and a Stalinist approach to a legislature, here's an excellent story about how far the G.O.P. congressional leaders have fallen from their principles since becoming intoxicated by, to use DeLay's famous pre-1994 words, the"arrogance of power."

Ooops. It appears W and the boys are furiously trying to walk back that Jim Baker story. Josh, as usual, has all the details. Hmmm. I do wonder what the story is behind all that, don't you? UggaBugga has both WaPo stories side-by-side in this post.

Here's more on the furor over this administration's deletion of the portion of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia. I posted on this yesterday.

It also appears possible that Condi Rice may resign. As I said earlier, in any other administration she'd have been gone after the first couple of high profile public lies. She wouldn't have had the chance to become the unrepentant serial liar that she is today.

All of these things together certainly demonstrate that this administration has suddenly lost the golden touch, huh?

As my father-in-law puts it,"when it goes, it completely disappears."

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Posted by Tom at 9:50 a.m. CDT


Holy moly!

Baker really is the family fixer, isn't he?


They really do think he's the"master of all time, space, and dimension," don't they?

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Posted by Tom at 4:53 p.m. CDT


I've followed this story without saying anything for a while. From what I can tell, the basic facts in this story are accurate. I'm not sure all the inferences in this story are accurate however.

Honestly folks, I don't know what happened to Lori Klausutis either.

It's just a strange -- and rather suspicious -- case all the way around.

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Posted by Tom at 2:35 p.m. CDT


Someone finally did it. I'd been thinking about doing it but someone at Buzzflash did it for me.

Here, for your perusal, are the amazingly ever-changing stories of Condi Rice!

Isn't she about done, now?

She's proved herself to be either a very talented liar or an utterly incompetent hack.

In a more honest administration she'd have been fired months ago.

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


I've been watching the 9/11 victims' families making the rounds of the news shows since the 9/11 report came out. They are outraged that W and the boys have decided to protect the Saudis (and themselves) from embarrassment by deleting the entire section on Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers -- who, if you recall, were composed largely of Saudi nationals.

However, as this WaPo story indicates, some who have seen the report are leaking the contents of that portion of the report anyway. They want Americans to know that the government is purposefully withholding this information from them.

How did the Saudis react? Well, here you go:

Yesterday, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, issued a statement refuting the criticism of his country."It is unfortunate that false accusations against Saudi Arabia continue to be made by some for political purposes despite the fact that the kingdom has been one of the most active partners in the war on terrorism," he said.
How's that for taking the allegations seriously? Clearly they must really be a great"ally" in the war on terrorism, huh?

And, by the way, I do assume that you know that the Bush family has extensive social and economic ties to the Saudi royal family, right? (For more on this, go here.) It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that it's possible that George Sr.'s personal intervention may have helped to get this portion of the report deleted.

So now I have to ask an interesting question: is it possible that George Sr.'s expensive tastes (he apparently loves the lavish gifts he gets from his Saudi friends) and role as a lobbyist for the defense firm the Carlyle Group are now endangering national security? (BTW, this is one of the pitfalls of having the presidency stay in one family, foreign policy can be run just as cliquishly and moronically as the seemingly royal family that runs the local country club.)

I don't mean to sound like some crackpot conspiracy theorist here, but isn't it about time that the folks in the Bush family put the welfare of this country first, rather than the welfare of the Saudi royal family?

I hold no ill-will against the Saudis but they apparently are willfully ignoring major problems within their country that are endangering this nation's security. I'm not going to suggest some ridiculous thing like we invade them or anything to solve the problems (although it does appear that we have always had a much better national security case for invading Saudi than we ever had for invading Iraq) However, isn't it about time we make the Saudi royal family understand that we mean business about this?

And that, my friends, is the fatal flaw in W's anti-terrorism policy. As long as W continues to protect the Saudis and not demand immediate and meaningful changes in Saudi Arabia, it's only a matter of time until we have another 9/11-style disaster.

Therefore, if another disastrous terrorist attack happens on his watch, it is quite reasonable to hold W fully accountable for it.

Fully accountable.

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Posted by Tom at 9:36 a.m. CDT


Josh Marshall credits Paul Wolfowitz for his candor and then carefully explains how Wolfie's mea culpa today is utter hogwash.

You really should read the whole post but I'll give you the devastating final couple of paragraphs:

At the end of the day, though, it just doesn't cut it to say that no plan is perfect and that you never know quite what you'll find until you're actually in country. Because a lot of people did have a fairly good idea of what we'd find in the country, or at least a much better idea than the folks at OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense].

Unfortunately, those folks at OSD spent the last two years pummeling those other dudes into the ground.

Like I said, you should read the rest of the post.

In short, it turns out that, like with the Niger uranium screw-up, the experts were telling them the right things (or things that turned out much closer to reality than the neocon fantasies), but they chose to ignore their advice.

Now, as we all know, innocent American soldiers (1.3 per day on average since May 2nd) are paying the ultimate price for the neocons' hubris.

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Posted by Tom at 9:21 p.m. CDT


CBS Evening News discussed the Wilson-Plame affair extensively this evening. This story has made it successfully from the internet to the mainstream media. Kevin Drum wonders aloud if this story has legs. Early indications apparently are yes.

After all, if this story is true, someone in Bush's inner circle has genuinely committed a felony. Even the subservient scribes in the SCLM have to pay attention to a story like that. I still haven't read anything in the NYT and the WaPo yet.

As always, we'll see.

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Posted by Tom at 6:06 p.m. CDT


this essay by Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy blog. (You know, the blog run by the guy who, despite an undergraduate degree and a law degree, doesn't seem to have any idea what happened in Kansas in the 1850s. Boy, somebody's college history professor really failed them, huh?)

Anyway, I first heard about this piece yesterday from Morat. Morat's post adequately addresses the problems inherent in the cartoonish"left vs. right" world that Barnett envisions.

Here's what Ted has to say:

It's about how the left has"socially constructed" a reality. Mr. Barnett can tell this because, unlike the right, the left believes things that he doesn't agree with. Barnett has prepared a long string of statements that he's sure represent the thinking of the 100-150 million Americans who represent the"left". Some are fair, some are strawmen, some are fringe positions, and some are just nuts. (I know a lot of people on the left, and I don't know a single one who thinks"the 'homeless' problem immediately vanished when Clinton took office". I don't know anyone who thinks Cuba is a better place than the U.S. I don't know anyone who thinks Alger Hiss was innocent. Etc., etc., etc.)

He doesn't deign to argue with these positions. Instead, his argument proceeds from the proposition that"Given that these positions are all lies, what does it say about the people who believe them?" Left-wing positions, you see, are not honest differences of opinion, and they're not matters of interpretation. They're lies. (Ironically, he writes this whole essay in defense of the truthfulness of Bush's State of the Union speech. After some frantic parsing from the President's defenders about what the word"lie" means, it seems that Mr. Barnett has an answer: A lie is what a liberal says.)

With unblemished confidence in his premises, Mr. Barnett logically comes to the conclusion that we're all insane, and wonders about the toll that living these lies must have on us lefties.

How can intelligent people sustain these false beliefs seemingly indefinitely? This must take some toll on them inside. But what exactly is the price they pay internally or emotionally for living in an artificially constructed reality? Perhaps it is actually easier, rather than more difficult, to live in a world of facts that reinforce one’s predilections.
In my experience, people who hate liberals should avoid writing essays about"what liberals think"; likewise with conservatives. They always say more about the person writing them than the intended target. At their best, they are spectacularly unconvincing. (I can't imagine that Mr. Barnett would be enlightened by a list of" conservative beliefs" prepared by, say, Hesiod.) At their worst (see above), they're Coulterish exercises in self-deception.

If you want to argue with cartoons, stay home and yell at SpongeBob.


My experience has been that righties have this amazing ability to more accurately describe themselves in their rants about liberals. As I said all the way back in October:

I may raise questions about evidence but I'm not going to go so far as to argue that these people [conservatives] are just intellectual cripples who can't make a salient point because they're blinded by ideology. I guess that's the most amazing thing about all of this. These righties are so self-unaware that they can't realize they often bear a strong resemblance to the descriptions they advance of folks they don't agree with -- but I'm not getting into that.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

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Posted by Tom at 3:20 p.m. CDT

AS HESIOD SAYS... 07-24-03


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


Why the calm looks and carefully-crafted answers at the White House regarding the Wilson-Plame affair? Why no outrage that someone would endanger national security and break the law in the White House?

As Mark Kleiman (who has done yeoman work on this story) puts it:

Reading the transcript (here) of Scott McClellan's second press briefing in two days in which he was asked about the Plame story and couldn't give a credible answer convinces me that the WH knows it's in deep doo-doo and has no clue about how to get out. McClellan isn't even pretending that the Administration is upset that someone burned one of our spies. If it wasn't the senior officials Novak says it was, then why isn't the WH interested in finding out who it was?

McClellan's repreated assertion that saying"two senior administration officials" is like saying"anonymous" doesn't pass the giggle test. We're talking about no more than ten people at the right level who might have known the key fact.

And Tenet's silence is truly eerie. Someone burned one of his people. Why isn't he breathing fire, demanding the help of the Justice Department in getting to the bottom of it?

Of course, even if the White House started to make the sounds of injured innocence now, it would be too late. If Novak had burned Plame by some feat of investigative reporting, rather than having been handed the facts by Team Bush, the White House and the CIA should have started screaming bloody murder a week ago, when the Novak column came out. Are we supposed to believe that no one in the Administration reads Novak?

David Corn's new column (here) makes more or less the same point: the apparent indifference of this administration, usually so reliable a source of theatrical outrage, is utterly damning.

Who is the White House protecting? Condi? Dick Cheney? If you recall, these folks acted as if Clinton defiled the place. This story, if true, dwarfs anything the Clinton administration EVER did. (Of course, at this very moment there are several things on the front burner of media attention that dwarf anything Clinton ever did.)

I'm really beginning to think that W's campaign slogan people in 2000 who insisted he would bring"honor and dignity" to the White House were just playing some sort of sick joke on the rest of us.

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Posted by Tom at 8:59 a.m. CDT


That's why W and the boys sat on the 9/11 report! It's because it reveals them to be liars -- this time about both the al-Qaeda-Saddam connection to 9/11:

The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.

"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the report.

Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.

Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied:"I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers."

The revelation is likely to embarrass the Bush administration, which made links between Saddam's support for bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction -- a major plank of its case for war.

Now it all makes more sense. It would've been awfully inconvenient to have the 9/11 report out there revealing the administration as a bunch of liars about the Saddam-al-Qaeda-9/11 link BEFORE the war had even started, right? So they had to sit on it for a while after the war.

Regardless of what Mark thinks, this has been a beast of a week for the White House. I'm thinking W goes under the 50 mark in public approval by the end of August folks. Heck, since I've been off by a month already a couple of times, maybe it will be even before the end of July!

[Link via Talking Points Memo]

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Posted by Tom at 9:56 p.m. CDT


Here's Gene Lyons's latest column. It's a great recap of the uranium-gate story.

The President Is Not a Fact-Checker

"The president," a White House spokesman told reporters last week"is not a fact-checker." Now there's the understatement of the year. To paraphrase the late film comic Oliver Hardy, this is another fine mess Junior has gotten himself and the rest of us into. The context of the fact-checker remark was the administration's release of a previously top secret"National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq. The idea was to prove that parroting a now notorious claim that the Brits had"learned" Iraq was shopping for African uranium to make nuclear weapons wasn't Junior's fault. Instead, U.S. intelligence agencies were responsible for the blunder.

The problem with Bush's alibi, however, was that well-sourced newspaper articles last fall quoted intelligence officers describing White House pressure to cook the books. Also, the NIE document was full of ambiguities. As CIA director George Tenet put it in his carefully-worded statement ostensibly taking blame for not preventing Bush from uttering the now-infamous 16 words:"The estimate also states: 'We do not know the status of this arrangement. ' With regard to reports that Iraq had sought uranium from two other countries, the estimate says: 'We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.' Much later in the N.I.E. text, in presenting an alternate view on another matter, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research included a sentence that states: 'Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in I.N.R.'s assessment, highly dubious.'"

"We do not know,""we cannot confirm,""highly dubious." How did Bush ignore these warning signs? He did not entirely read the document, the White House helpfully explained. That, of course, is perfectly in keeping with Junior's history. The NIE report on Iraq's weapons is all of 90 pages, footnotes included. Now you'd think that any president preparing to commit American soldiers to battle against"evildoers" supposedly armed with weapons of mass destruction would want to spend some time learning exactly what they might be facing. But George W. Bush had more important things to do.

And get this, according to the White House, so did national security advisor Condoleeza Rice. She's supposed to be the brains of the operation, Bush's intellectual nanny. The former provost of Stanford University, we're told, skipped the footnotes where the strongest cautions were found. Assuming purely for the sake of argument that we believe this astonishing excuse, exactly what does the woman do all day? Have we reached the point where we expect American men and women to commit their lives and sacred honor on the basis of what Bob Somerby calls"Cliff's Notes" intelligence?

But the reality, of course, is that Rice's story simply cannot be believed. CIA director Tenet had personally warned her chief deputy Stephen Hadley off the African uranium tale on two documented occasions in October 2002. Nor is this the first time Rice has been caught uttering improbable stories in defense of her boss. Seemingly above criticism, it was Rice, Joe Conason points out, who pushed the later repudiated tale that Bush hightailed it to Nebraska on 9/11 because of"intelligence" indicating terrorists had targeted Air Force One.

It was also Rice who insisted that nobody could possibly have imagined a plot so fiendish as to crash jetliners into buildings, although the president had slept aboard a Navy vessel during his visit to Genoa, Italy during the 2001 G-8 summit for precisely that reason. It was Rice who warned that not to attack Iraq would be to risk a"mushroom cloud" over an American city, who pushed the dubious story about Iraq importing aluminum tubes to manufacture nuclear weapons long after experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency had pronounced them technically unsuitable, and who went on"Meet the Press" to deny knowing anything about Ambassador Joseph Wilson's debunking trip to Niger at the CIA's behest weeks after Nicholas Kristof had written about it in the New York Times.

How did IAEA experts determine the African documents were phony? According to Newsweek, it took them all of two hours. The answer, said one official, was"'Google'...The IAEA ran the name of the Niger foreign minister through the Internet search engine and discovered that he was not in office at the time the document was signed." The chances are between slim and none that this never occurred to anybody in U.S. intelligence. Somebody must have put a lid on it.

The bad news for President Junior is that the intelligence agencies are fighting a bureaucratic rearguard action, the press has rediscovered its mission, and Americans are awakening from a fear-induced post-9/11 trance to suspect that they were duped into an unecessary war for dishonest reasons. A recent Harris poll shows 51 percent now"have doubts" Bush is"a leader you can trust." Once lost, that trust is very hard to recover.

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Posted by Tom at 2:06 p.m. CDT


on proclamations, you'd think he'd want keep his mouth shut, wouldn't you?

However, you really should read the above story to get some sense of how the administration has lost control of the press. Despite the headline, most of this story is about the lies and machinations the administration has gone through the last week to try and weasel off responsibility for the Niger uranium claim.

BTW, isn't it bizarre that some in the media apparently bought the administration's argument that the death of Saddam's sons would lessen the violence in Iraq?

I mean, who in their right mind would believe that?

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Posted by Tom at 11:16 a.m. CDT


It appears the White House made a major mistake when it tried to smear Senator Durbin last week. They apparently have even angered their Republican allies in the Senate. In response, the Senate Intelligence Committee now plans to investigate both this smear and the Wilson-Plame affair as well.

This, as they say, is progress. I'm still having trouble believing they'll really do this -- especially after the Republicans on the committee get an earful from their buddies in the White House today.

And, by the way, as Atrios notes, the story of this investigation of a potential felony that endangered our national security and the lives of operatives worldwide that was committed by someone within W's inner circle hasn't yet appeared in either the NYT or the WaPo.

Hey,"journalists," what's stopping you guys from looking into this?

This charge, if proven, clearly demonstrates that this administration will drop to the lowest levels seeking to smear those it deems enemies. If this is true, this administration now has earned its status as one of the most ruthless and ethics-free administrations in history.

In my opinion, they're currently vying for the top spot in the"ruthless and ethics-free sweepstakes" with Nixon's administration at the moment -- and it's actually pretty close.

If we find out Dick Cheney approved and insisted that the Uranium material be included in the State of the Union address, they'll probably go over the top and win that rather ignominious honor.

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


Ah, when you lie it's hard to stop, isn't it?

Josh Marshall points out that Hadley's confession of"partial responsibility" for the erroneous Uranium claim is an admission that the earlier White House version of the truth that this mess is all the CIA's fault is, in Josh's words,"inoperative."

In short, Hadley's plank-walking performance yesterday is an admission that the White House, accused of lying to the American people about the Uranium claim, also lied to try and cover it up just last week. The White House has also had to release two memos from the CIA in October telling them the claim was bogus.

As the WaPoput it this morning:

The information, provided in a briefing by Hadley and Bush communications director Dan Bartlett, significantly alters the explanation previously offered by the White House. The acknowledgment of the memos, which were sent on the eve of a major presidential speech in Cincinnati about Iraq, comes four days after the White House said the CIA objected only to technical specifics of the Africa charge, not its general accuracy.

In fact, the officials acknowledged yesterday, the CIA warned the White House early on that the charge, based on an allegation that Iraq sought 500 tons of uranium in Niger, relied on weak evidence, was not particularly significant and assumed Iraq was pursuing an acquisition that was arguably not possible and of questionable value because Iraq had its own supplies.

Yesterday's disclosures indicate top White House officials knew that the CIA seriously disputed the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa long before the claim was included in Bush's January address to the nation. The claim was a major part of the case made by the Bush administration before the Iraq war that Hussein represented a serious threat because of his nuclear ambitions; other pieces of evidence have also been challenged.

Josh speculates that this goes much higher towards the top. I'm pretty sure Condi Rice is involved. After all, Hadley is Rice's deputy. If you think she didn't approve it, you're smoking something.

Here's my favorite part of the WaPo story:

Yesterday, Bartlett insisted that its inclusion in the State of the Union address was"not at the specific request of anyone" and said that one of the speechwriters had come up with the information after reviewing the Oct. 2 intelligence estimate.
Right. Josh suggests that, as the months pass and the leaks increase, this scandal is going to eventually ensnare Dick Cheney.

I think he's right. Despite White House denials that no one requested this little tidbit be left in the speech, I suspect Cheney is the one directly responsible for this fiasco.

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Posted by Tom at 8:30 a.m. CDT


It's official. In the eyes of the press, W is no longer a"popular president" and is in genuine danger of not being re-elected. Here's the first story that reflects this new"reality." It's about how prominent folks in the GOP (RNC members) are now fretting about W's re-election chances.

It took the press long enough to get the drift, didn't it? I think this has been the reality for at least the last couple of months. However, it's now become true in that strange place known as"media reality."

Look for a great deal more stories like this in the coming weeks -- at least until W starts beating the drums of war again or tries to create some other sort of Rovian distraction to pump up his approval ratings once again.

If W tries to hide out in Crawford for all of August, he's really going to take a beating this year. I'm not exactly sure what W's schedule looks like for August but, judging from past patterns, I'm sure he'll take a longer vacation than 95% of full-time-employed Americans ever get to take.

Given the present economic doldrums and the festering mess in Iraq, this rather leisurely approach to the office that is his full-time job will look even worse to the average American this year.

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Posted by Tom at 7:22 p.m. CDT


from talking about one reckless lying Republican shill, W, to another one, John Lott. You've got to read this from Tim Lambert to believe it. Lott claims with a straight face that a study that clearly refutes his research that right-to-carry laws reduce crime actually backs up his research!

Here's the passage from the study in question (my emphasis):

Right-to-carry (RTC) laws mandate that concealed weapon permits be granted to qualified applicants. Such laws could reduce the number of mass public shootings as prospective shooters consider the possibility of encountering armed civilians. However, these laws might increase the number of shootings by making it easier for prospective shooters to acquire guns. We evaluate 25 RTC laws using state panel data for 1977 through 1999. We estimate numerous Poisson and negative binomial models and find virtually no support for the hypothesis that the laws increase or reduce the number of mass public shootings.
Here's what Lott said about this study (my emphasis again) on his website:

for a recent paper that gets the same results I do when this more narrow definition is used see Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody, “The Impact of Right-to-Carry Concealed Firearm Laws on Mass Public Shootings,” Homicide Studies, November 2002
Holy cow! What a transparent fraud!

This is so unbelievable it's hilarious.

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Posted by Tom at 2:55 p.m. CDT


I'm with Hesiod, isn't it awfully convenient that Uday and Usay have been discovered just as W's poll numbers make the middle to lower 50s?

That's the danger with lying all the time. I can't believe a word you say. I can't help but think this is like all those" crying wolf" examples of WMD caches we heard about in April. What were there, like ten or twelve of those? And didn't we capture Saddam and his sons a couple of times before?

Of course, I'd be glad if those awful butchers had been dispatched from this earth but I really can't trust a thing these guys say anymore, so I'll remain skeptical. Heck, I'll remain skeptical until I see the autopsy photos!

But, of course, my skepticism doesn't stop the ridiculously overreaching triumphalist stories that are already in the press, does it? This article is downright hilarious. This reporter has bought the propaganda the administration is trying to sell him hook, line, and sinker.

I hate to break it to you guys but the violence we're seeing is not just from Baathists. I wish it were myself and that this would simply end it. Sadly, this won't alter the level of violence our soldiers face one bit.

This awful situation our soldiers face is exactly why I was against this war and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether Uday, Usay, or Saddam are alive.

Update: The administration is confirming now that Uday and Usay are dead. Good riddance but, as I said earlier, don't expect any change whatsoever in Iraq.

I wish there were some sort of magical event that would make the war worth it and the quagmire end. Unfortunately folks, there simply isn't.

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


We have a new comment system for this blog now. If you click on the link at the bottom of this post, you'll now be taken to a separate comment board webpage. That should speed up how fast the blog loads and is just a more convenient way to do it.

Feel free to check it out and leave a comment.

I do read the comment boards. I don't really respond to them (longtime readers will remember why -- I don't like to feed right-wing trolls) but, honest, I do read them.

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


Here's the latest column about the Wilson-Plame scandal from Newsday.

Wilson and a retired CIA official said yesterday that the"senior administration officials" who named Plame had, if their description of her employment was accurate, violated the law and may have endangered her career and possibly the lives of her contacts in foreign countries. Plame could not be reached for comment.

"When it gets to the point of an administration official acting to do career damage, and possibly actually endanger someone, that's mean, that's petty, it's irresponsible, and it ought to be sanctioned," said Frank Anderson, former CIA Near East Division chief.

A current intelligence official said that blowing the cover of an undercover officer could affect the officer's future assignments and put them and everyone they dealt with overseas in the past at risk.

"If what the two senior administration officials said is true," Wilson said,"they will have compromised an entire career of networks, relationships and operations." What's more, it would mean that"this White House has taken an asset out of the" weapons of mass destruction fight,"not to mention putting at risk any contacts she might have had where the services are hostile."

Deputy White House Press Secretary Claire Buchan referred questions to a National Security Council spokesman who did not return phone calls last night.

So the NSC is ducking phone calls, huh? Do you think Condi's behind this one too?

I think it's time for whomever named Plame to resign and face charges.

This is an outrage.

Update:Here is the law in question. This law was a pet project of, you guessed it, George H.W. Bush back in 1982. Wouldn't it be ironic if one of W's cronies goes to jail for violating it?

Thanks to alert reader Lis on the"new and improved" comment boards for the tip.

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Posted by Tom at 8:22 a.m. CDT


right here.

As usual, Krugman asks the right questions:

And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.

Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.

I think that's absolutely on the mark, don't you?

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


Okay, while my soccer team was getting blasted to oblivion this weekend by the professional nine-year-old corporately-funded soccer players, I missed some stuff.

For example, TBogg has a wonderful blog entry today examining whether Condi is either incompetent or just plain lying about whether she read the 90 page State Department assessment of Iraq's WMD programs that threw cold water on the Uranium claim. She claims she just didn't read it. Either way, she should resign because that's her job and she didn't do it. TBogg points us to the Howler's excellent discussion of this as well.

TBogg suggests a procedure for how things like this should work in this administration:

As its stands Rice should get, and read, the whole 90-pager, which should be condensed down to about thirty-six pages for Rumsfeld who should then knock it down to one page of single-spaced bullet points for Cheney. Bush? He gets about five words of it printed on the Map of the World placemat that comes with his lunch so he can color in the countries he wants to invade while eating his grilled-cheese and watching Sponge Bob.

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Posted by Tom at 7:48 p.m. CDT

THANKS AGAIN! 07-21-03

A short while ago I had my 310,000th visitor via a link from Billmon. It was a little more than a week ago that I had my 300,000th visitor. I've also had more than 442,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

I do appreciate your dropping by for a visit. I hope I give you a reason to come back often!

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


Mary Beth Norton had an excellent op-ed in Saturday's NYT about Rumsfeld's ridiculous assertion that the violence in Iraq is like the U.S. in the 1780s.

If you recall, I posted on it the day after Rumsfeld made the remarks. I'm glad to see confirmation that I was right about it. As I said at the time, it's not my area of expertise after all.

I like the way she closes the piece:

As part of his education package, President Bush has proposed an initiative to improve the teaching of American history in the public schools. I wonder if his secretary of defense might benefit from a refresher on the revolutionary era.
Nice shot, eh?

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Posted by Tom at 12:59 p.m. CDT

A GOOD LINE 07-21-03

from MoDo:

After 9/11, this administration had everything going for it. Republicans ruled Congress. The president had enormously high approval ratings. Yet it overreached while trying to justify the reasons for going to war.

Even when conservatives have all the marbles, they still act as if they're under siege. Now that they are under siege, it is no time for them to act as if they're losing their marbles.

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Posted by Tom at 10:00 a.m. CDT


If you take a look over at Polling Report, you'll see that W is now in the middle and lower 50s in all the major opinion polls. I thought it would take until W's annual hibernation in August for that to happen. Therefore, W's quite a bit ahead of schedule.

TBogg also points us to these screen captures from CNN's latest poll.

Not surprisingly, as support for the IraqWar is dropping like a stone, so is support for W's presidency. Here's the eye-opener from the CNN poll for folks in the media who should now officially quit referring to W as a"popular president":

Vote for Bush in 2004?

Very likely 37%
Somewhat likely 16%
Somewhat unlikely 9%
Very unlikely 36%

Karl Rove has probably just ordered a case of Maalox.

Things are not looking very good for Rove's boy now, are they?

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Posted by Tom at 9:18 a.m. CDT

AN APOLOGY 07-21-03

I just got into the office and reread that last post. Let me apologize for the rather tacky crack at the end of the post. I don't mean to sound like the Kobe story is entirely"meaningless." I mean, heck, it certainly isn't to his alleged victim after all. Therefore, that last quip was insensitive. I'm sorry about that.

If Kobe has done what he's accused of doing he should be punished just as anyone else would be.

Now, having said that, I can't help but feel like I'm watching a replay from 2001. Is Kobe the Gary Condit of 2003? I've been feeling uneasy for a few days now, like I'm watching our press repeat its errors of two years ago.

Let me recap the current situation for you: our government is apparently asleep at the switch as far as national security is concerned. We've angered terrorists across the world with our policies and have turned a blind eye to their organizing in Afghanistan over the last few months. But the media doesn't pay any attention to any of that, they just want to talk about this potentially salacious story.

That's what's going on today -- and that's what was going on two years ago.

Oh yeah, and the big difference between these two situations is that since we've also invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, we've really angered Osama and his compatriots now!

As always, I hope I'm wrong. I REALLY hope I'm wrong.

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


You've got to read this idiocy to believe it!

We certainly need to carefully preserve the plane used by a Vietnam War Era Air National Guard deserter to stage a meaningless photo-op in which he makes an astonishingly inaccurate prediction that the war in Iraq is over, right?

What I love is the idiot at the museum who would've been happy with the president's codpiece instead of the plane itself.

Of course, I guess W and the boys ought to be glad that Kobe Bryant couldn't keep his own piece in his pants because this rather meaningless story will likely now dominate the news for the next few weeks even as more and more American soldiers die in Iraq.

I mean, hell, the press has to have its priorities, right?

[Link via Quaker in a Basement]

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Posted by Tom at 11:01 p.m. CDT


I just got back from the the Show Me State Games in Columbia, Missouri. Two friends of mine and I took a 9 and under boys soccer team to the games. I was an assistant coach. Unfortunately, we coaches made a rather large mistake when we put our team in the"competitive" division. Our little smalltown boys couldn't compete with the teams in that division at all.

Our first game was against a team that was sponsored by Nike from Lee's Summit, Missouri who had won the thing last year. They beat us senseless by a score of something like 19-0. They were incredible. Their fans and coaches were respectful and really nice but they were so good we couldn't do a thing. We got like two shots on goal -- from midfield.

Our second game was more manageable and we could already tell the kids were playing better. We played a team from Jackson, Missouri that had won a fifty team tournament the weekend before. They only beat us 10-1. We were so excited to score a goal! Again, the coaches, parents, and players were top-notch folks. We also played much better.

Our last game was a real doozy. We played (I'm not making this up) a team from St. Louis that was sponsored directly by Annheuser-Busch's Busch beer brand. They had matching equipment bags, shoes, uniforms, shinguards, and everything, all with a big"Busch Soccer Club" logo on them. This team beat the first team we had played the day before 1-0 and had a slot in the championship game lined up already. I did love how they complained that they had really won that game 2-0 but had gotten rooked out of the second goal. That was pretty tacky I thought.

Again, the coaches and the kids on this team were great. There was one moment that was a bit annoying though. Their goalie complained loudly of"not touching the ball at all. I'm bored!" The coaches told him to be quiet but the parents, rather tackily, laughed and jawed about it. Of course, I guess I should expect as much from people who are willing to allow their nine-year-old kids to become beer billboards, but I digress. We lost that game, because they took it easy on us and because our kids played eons better than they had before, only 14-0 or something like that.

Our kids learned a lot and we all had a good time going out to eat and playing in the hotel pool (which is what this was all about for us anyway). I got my M.A. at Mizzou and I always enjoy going to Columbia. However, I must say, in addition to learning a lot about how to coach soccer (I've only done it for three years and in the younger age divisions) I learned that soccer is becoming like all the other sports. I was astonished to find out that we've got professional soccer nine-year-olds in this world. These corporate-sponsored teams have annual try-outs and pay for all the players's equipment. I also heard rumors that the Busch team gets their travel reimbursed as well but I don't know that for certain.

I was also shocked to find out that, like most parts of our society, even soccer (I remember playing it when it seemed no one else did in the 1970s) is now yet another situation of the haves and the have-nots. We took our whipping like the fine upstanding midwestern men that we are but it was still shocking to see the little nine-year-old professionals like that. At one point in this morning's game, the Busch team crossed a ball from the far corner and a kid headed the ball in the goal at the post just like a professional player. I'm thinking, holy cow, that was a nine-year-old!

We talked with our kids about all of this and told them, hey, just watch how these guys play soccer and learn something from them. After they recovered from the first game, they began to view it that way. We also told them they needed to realize these kids play all year-round (indoor in the winter) and, to be honest, probably don't do much outside of school but play soccer. We also explained to our kids that, while we play 12 games per year, these guys probably play at least that many per month! Our kids also play basketball, some play football, many of them swim and are in community plays and so forth. Most of our kids are very good students in school. The way those kids on the corporate teams played, it was quite apparent they probably don't do much else but play soccer outside of school time. These teams were well-oiled scoring machines. It was quite a sight to behold but I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for those kids. Our parents talked about how they seemed almost robotic they were so perfect. It was apparent this is what those kids more or less really do with their lives.

Anyway, it goes without saying that I'm absolutely exhausted. Our last game was at noon and it was nearly 100 degrees and VERY humid. I've also just driven 230 miles back from Columbia so I'm really beat.

I'm not sure I'll post any more today. We'll see.

Update:Here's the website for the Busch Soccer Club. Take a look.

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Posted by Tom at 6:58 p.m. CDT


Like last weekend, I'm going to be very busy and out of blogging range, starting tomorrow morning.

I'll be able to get back to blogging on Sunday afternoon or evening. I'll see you folks then.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Posted by Tom at 9:58 p.m. CDT


is apparently Robert G. Joseph -- but more than likely he had to get approval from Condi Rice. Therefore, the true person responsible for this is Condi apparently -- other than the president who, at least in my opinion, is responsible for the words that leave his mouth.

As Josh also notes in another post, apparently the press has decided to agree with me -- that the president is responsible for his own words:

QUESTION: Regardless of whether or not there was pressure from the White House for that line, I'm wondering where does the buck stop in this White House? Does it stop at the CIA, or does it stop in the Oval Office?

Scott McClellan: Again, this issue has been discussed. You're talking about some of the comments that -- some that are --

QUESTION: I'm not talking about anybody else's comments. I'm asking the question, is responsibility for what was in the President's own State of the Union ultimately with the President, or with somebody else?

Scott McClellan: This has been discussed.

QUESTION: So you won't say that the President is responsible for his own State of the Union speech?

Scott McClellan: It's been addressed.

QUESTION: Well, that's an excellent question. That is an excellent question. (Laughter.) Isn't the President responsible for the words that come out of his own mouth?

Scott McClellan: We've already acknowledged, Terry, that it should not have been included in there. I think that the American people appreciate that recognition.

QUESTION: You acknowledge that, but you blame somebody else for it. Is the President responsible for the things that he said in the State of the Union?

Scott McClellan: Well, the intelligence -- you're talking about intelligence that -- sometimes you later learn more information about intelligence that you didn't have previously. But when we're clearing a speech like that, it goes through the various agencies to look at that information and --

QUESTION: And so when there's intelligence in a speech, the President is not responsible for that?

Scott McClellan: We appreciate Director Tenet saying that he should have said, take it out.

QUESTION: But it's the President's fault.

I think the press is finally waking up boys and girls. We'll see if they continue to be as wide awake as they apparently are at the moment.

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Posted by Tom at 8:23 p.m. CDT


All right, so Tenet's playing a cute game. He's claiming he was out of the loop and didn't see the final draft of the speech but at the same time he says he argued over the weasel-wording with an unnamed administration official who insisted on keeping the bogus claim in the speech.

Okay folks, who's the rat?

How long before we find out? With this White House's Nixonian secrecy I'm thinking it may be a few days instead of sometime this afternoon. We'll see.

Durbin's also asking the right question here:

Durbin and other Democrats in the Senate had said earlier the question is not why Tenet failed to remove the Africa information from the speech, but who insisted on leaving it in."All roads still lead back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Durbin said.
I must admit the"stop me before I lie again!" defense by the White House is becoming more hilarious with each new revelation.

Also, isn't it impressive when the White House essentially calls the guy who tried to save their bacon a few days ago a liar?

This is getting awfully interesting, isn't it?

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Posted by Tom at 1:12 p.m. CDT


Well, here's the simple answer:

And here's a more detailed one.

Boy, W and the boys have got problems on all fronts, huh?

[Link via Skeptical Notion]

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


from Mark Kleiman:

But this latest -- if true, which we, or at least I, don't know -- would involve a completely different magnitude of villainy. Deliberately outing one of your own spies as an act of political revenge would be a truly unforgivable deed, and one that wouldn't become any more forgivable if tomorrow MI5 produced an invoice for 300 tons of yellowcake with Saddam Hussein's signature and thumbprint on it as the recipient.

I hoped, and hope, that the yellowcake story as we now seem to know it turns out to be accurate, and to be believed, because it would merely demonstrate to the skeptical something I already believed to be true in general.

But I hope that this new story somehow turns out to be false. Just thinking about it makes me queasy, the way the first scene of The Count of Monte Cristo made me queasy when I read it as a teenager. I'd rather not live on a planet where such things are done, and I'd like to think that no American administration could be capable of doing what seems to have just been done.

I'm with Mark. Go read the rest of his post.

Yep, as I suspected. Insty hasn't touched this one at all.

Heck, from what I can tell (I did a search), Insty hasn't even mentioned Wilson at all on his blog.(If I'm wrong, please let me know but I couldn't find any reference to"Joseph Wilson" on his blog. I even tried"Wilson" and didn't find anything that related to this rather important recent disclosure about the Bush administration.)

Gee, it appears we've got our head buried deep in the sand right now, don't we?

I suspect most Bush supporters are approaching the news that way these days.

Update:Time has more on the administration's war on Ambassador Wilson. This article repeats the claim that administration officials are telling reporters that Wilson's wife is a CIA agent.

This little story has now made it smack-dab into the mainstream media folks. It's not just Bob Novak saying this anymore.

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


This, my friends, is quite appalling. It appears the administration outed Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, an undercover CIA agent who works as an operative in, get this, the agency's Weapons of Mass Destruction program. They've apparently ruined her career and potentially compromised national security simply to lash out at Wilson.

Not only is this astonishingly stupid, it's also against the law. Whoever blew her cover could face up to ten years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Remember the investigation into the king of the pseudo scandals,"File-gate?" File-gate apparently was yet another case of the mouth breathers hyperventilating, but this current episode, if true, is in a completely different universe of abuse of power.

This case apparently involves deciding that your own petulant score with Wilson is more important than a vital CIA program to root out Weapons of Mass Destruction across the globe. This one disclosure could've done more damage to national security than any of the myriad other mistakes by this administration in the last several months, including the ill-advised invasion of Iraq, which has also apparently made us less safe rather than more.

Whoever blew her cover should resign immediately and face prosecution for doing so.

If W knew about this and approved of it, it would provide significant and damning evidence that the man doesn't have the judgement to be the president of the United States.

[Link via Skeptical Notion and CalPundit]

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Posted by Tom at 10:37 p.m. CDT


Those are the words of a soldier, understandably upset about being lied to regarding the time he'd spend in Iraq, who was interviewed on"Good Morning America" today.

Here's the whole passage:

Fed up with being in Iraq and demoralized by their role as peacekeepers in a risky place, a group of U.S. soldiers aired their plight on U.S. television Wednesday and said they had lost faith in the Army.

Told several times they would be going home only to have their hopes dashed this week, a small group of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, spoke of poor morale and disillusionment with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation," one disgruntled soldier told ABC's"Good Morning America" show.

Asked by a reporter what his message would be for Rumsfeld, another said:"I would ask him why we are still here. I don't have any clue as to why we are still in Iraq."

Unfortunately my friend, you're still there because this whole war was a fool's errand and W, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Colin didn't really even plan for the post-war period. You're certainly right to ask for Rumsfeld's resignation since he is more responsible than anyone else for your plight. I'm quite sorry you've been placed in such an awful position.

How did Rumsfeld's Pentagon respond, you ask?

A Pentagon (news - web sites) spokeswoman said she understood the frustration, but said morale was still high."It's obviously a frustrating situation for some of them, but it does not represent the entire 3rd Division."
After reading that article (go read it), how could any halfway reasonable and decent human being respond like that?

Doesn't that response sound just a wee bit arrogant -- and heartless?

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Posted by Tom at 1:49 p.m. CDT


In response to Tacitus's arrogant post proposing a litmus test for anti-war bloggers (I blogged about it here), Art Silber has issued his own challenge for pro-war bloggers:

So here is my challenge to Tacitus, and to the other prowar bloggers and writers -- who advocate endless war, on one country after another, followed by decades-long occupations, but who seem to feel it unnecessary to note the mounting toll of death and injury of our own troops. (I should note that I place Tacitus himself in a somewhat different category: as someone who was in the military, I think he is significantly more aware of and sensitive to these issues, as his posts demonstrate, despite the unfortunate nature of the post which prompted this entry. But I do not extend that exception to the other major prowar bloggers.)

Here is my challenge, to those who wish to take it up: When you post, at least once in a while -- or, for many of the hawkish bloggers, at least once -- about the deaths of our troops in Iraq, deaths which continue to occur several times a week, and sometimes even daily, then I will begin to be convinced of your"goodwill" and"human decency." And not one moment before.

Read, and reread, Sassoon's words -- words written by a man of great personal courage, who demonstrated that courage repeatedly on the battlefield, and in his life more generally. Perhaps he will help to finally break down the" callous complacence" thus far demonstrated by so many of you, and his thoughts will aid you in developing"sufficient imagination" to understand, and finally comment upon, the"agonies" now visited upon so many of our own young men and women. The policies you advocated placed them in the peril in which they now find themselves -- a peril which none of you share. Surely you can find a few minutes to devote to them now -- in between your lattes, and your workouts, and your outdoor barbecues, which you enjoy so much before returning to the comfort of your airconditioned homes.

Glenn, are you listening?

True to his callous nature (at least as far as American lives are concerned), I suspect not.

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


You really should read Kinsley's column in the WaPo this morning.

Kinsley's intro is hilarious:

Once again a mysterious criminal stalks the nation's capital. First there was the mystery sniper. Then there was the mystery arsonist. Now there is the mystery ventriloquist. The media are in a frenzy of speculation and leakage. Senators are calling for hearings. All of Washington demands an answer: Who was the arch-fiend who told a lie in President Bush's State of the Union speech? No investigation has plumbed such depths of the unknown since O.J. Simpson's hunt for the real killer of his ex-wife. Whodunit? Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a candlestick? Condoleezza Rice in the Situation Room with a bottle of Wite-Out and a felt-tipped pen?
He also demolishes the administration's pathetic defenses of the lie at the end. It's worth your time. Go read it.

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Posted by Tom at 9:56 a.m. CDT


due to the fact that the CIA has decided to speak up about ginned up intelligence this time.

So it takes this sort of disaster to get the CIA do its job, huh?

Who knew?

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Posted by Tom at 8:39 a.m. CDT


Here's Gene's latest column for the week -- and it's great as usual.

Technical Accuracy

As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While, technically, my answers were legally accurate, I was not entirely truthful with my information."

---President Bill Clinton, August 1998
"It didn't rise to the standard of a presidential speech, but it's not known, for example, that it was inaccurate. In fact, people think it was technically accurate."
--Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, July 2003
What we have here is a crisis of competence. Those impertinent rascals at Mediawhoresonline.com have posted some unintentionally funny photographs downloaded from the official White House website. They show President Junior with furrowed brow and pencil in hand, making final revisions to his State of the Union speech. As if, as the kids say.

Cheap irony aside, nobody thinks Bush writes his own speeches. People don't even expect him to grasp with great particularity what's in them. Nobody holds him responsible; certainly nobody ever has.

It's CIA director George Tenet's fault. No, it's Dick Cheney's fault. No, it's Condoleeza Rice's fault. Where was Colin Powell? We had a word for this kind of circular activity in junior high, but it's unsuitable for the newspaper. Anyway, it can't be Junior's fault. He not only doesn't know what's in the intelligence briefings, he doesn't appear to know what's in the newspapers.

On Monday, Bush told reporters the CIA raised concerns about crudely forged documents supposedly showing Iraq buying African uranium only"subsequent" to his speech. Not so. In fact, the falsehood was scrubbed from an October, 2002 Bush speech at the CIA director's insistence. Time reports Tenet personally intervened with Condi Rice's chief deputy.

Somebody at the White House then stuck a weasel-worded version back into Bush's January 2003 speech. A good guess would be Rice, who alluded to the phony story in a November, 2002 New York Times op ed entitled"Why We Know Iraq Is Lying."

There was even a discrepancy between Tenet's blame-taking and Bush's actual words. See, what Condi and Rummy mean by calling Junior's speech"technically accurate" is that British intelligence did cite the African tale in one of what London newspapers call its"dodgy dossiers." (Both dossiers turned out to be substantially plagiarized from outdated public sources.) That would arguably make Bush's statement true in precisely the way Bill Clinton's denial of"sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky was true--i.e. literally factual, but calculated to deceive.

Except Junior said this:"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." As Michael Kinsley notes, you don't"learn" something false. Bush didn't simply report the British claim; he endorsed it.

Monday, Junior argued that he'd given Saddam Hussein"a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." Evidently, he's forgotten the elaborate diplomatic charade leading up to his own March 2003 speech warning U.N. inspectors out before the bombing began.

To comprehend the stygian depths of the administration's mendacity, however, it helps to begin on Sept. 7, 2002, when Junior and British Prime minister Tony Blair appeared at the White House together. Bush alleged that a"new" IAEA report (International Atomic Energy Agency) stated that Iraq was"six months away" from building a nuclear weapon."I don't know what more evidence we need," he added.

"Absolutely," Blair seconded.

No such report ever existed, as our brilliant Washington press corps, as John R. MacArthur points out in the Columbia Journalism Review, didn't exactly knock itself out reporting. Next Condoleeza Rice conceeded that"there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly [Saddam Hussein] can acquire nuclear weapons...But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Vice president Cheney told"Meet the Press," that Iraq's"reconstituted" nuclear weapons program was an incontestable fact.

Calculated to stampede Congress and frighten Americans into supporting the radical doctrine of pre-emptive war, almost word every in Bush's speech regarding Saddam's non-existent nukes has been shown to be false.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990's that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb" Bush said. After citing the discredited British story, he added that"our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

Saddam's not the only one who does. U.N. inspectors found Iraq's nuclear weapons program destroyed after the Gulf War. The aluminum tubes business has been thoroughly debunked by IAEA experts. As with all incompetent propagandists, the Bush team's cocksure attitude--its vaunted air of corporate-style"leadership"--is pure illusion.

They appear decisive precisely because they cook the books and have only contempt for anybody who disagrees.

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Posted by Tom at 8:06 a.m. CDT


A reader sent me this picture via e-mail. This just about says it all -- in very few words.

My reader tells me that this sign is hanging on Interstate 5 somewhere.

Anyone happen to know exactly where?

Update: My reader has written me another e-mail and, as I suspected, he's the one who put the sign up. It was on the Oso Parkway in"Kevin Drum land" in south Orange County. I just thought I'd update you.

It's a great sign, isn't it?

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Posted by Tom at 10:27 p.m. CDT


Yesterday, W made a demonstrably false statement:

"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
No W, you dimwit, the whole war thing was controversial because he HAD let the inspectors in and we still invaded Iraq to overthrow him. That's why the WMD stuff was so important to your case for war, remember? You guys insisted Saddam was an imminent threat so we had to invade Iraq right now. That's why it's so embarrassing that it was apparently all a lie, remember?

Holy cow, if I've got to explain this to the president, it's truly a bad sign. I used to think Ron Reagan was a space cadet but, goodness, he could certainly keep his story straight better than W.

I mean, heck, the co-conspirators in the Iran-Contra scandal apparently stuck to their story and destroyed all the right documents before they were discovered, so they got away with it. You think W would be capable of that? Apparently not. As evidenced by this outburst, I think it's safe to say that Ron had quite a few IQ points on W.

Joe Conason has got a great post about this here on Salon (get the day pass, it's worth your time).

Joe reminds us:

Another recent president once said something that was blatantly untrue, if fairly trivial, and the videotape of his statement was replayed again, and again, and again, and again ...
Joe wonders why no one has played this statement and we haven't watched it over and over as well.

Oh, that liberal media!

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Posted by Tom at 5:36 p.m. CDT


Despite no indictments whatsoever, the Republican judges on a special appeals panel have said the Clintons are owed virtually nothing in the way of reimbursement for their $3.5M in legal fees for the pseudo-scandal Whitewater investigation.

Why is that? Oh, wait, there it is:

The special appeals panel was the same one that appointed Kenneth Starr to take over the investigation in 1994 and then authorized him to investigate matters surrounding White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
You've got to love it when the Republicans have stacked the judicial deck like that, don't you?

It's going to take half a century or more to get an actually competent judiciary back in place in order to replace all the partisan hacks put on the bench by Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II.

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Posted by Tom at 1:00 p.m. CDT


to only 41% in the Ipsos-Reid Political Report poll, one of the more respected and trusted political polls.


I guess that little immoral and unnecessary war isn't working out as planned, eh George?

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Posted by Tom at 10:09 a.m. CDT


The deficit for just this year is now projected to be more than $450B. And if W wasn't raiding the Social Security surplus (after picking the lock on the lockbox I guess), it would be more than $600B.

Isn't that special?

Atrios blogs about it here. I'm with him that it's not a winning issue by itself (as we found out during the spendthrift Reagan administration) but combined with this administration's mendacity in so many other areas, it can be part of a winning combination.

Take a look at this chart for some sense of just how bad W is in the fiscal management department:

[Chart via Atrios]

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


And he's madder than ever. Here's the real eye-opener in this column:

So who will be held accountable? Mr. Tenet betrayed his office by tailoring statements to reflect the interests of his political masters, rather than the assessments of his staff — but that's not why he may soon be fired. Yesterday USA Today reported that"some in the Bush administration are arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses."
If you'll excuse me, holy shit! You have got to be kidding me. Tenet the lapdog isn't loyal enough? They want an absolute yes-man sycophant who would block a congressional investigation?

Folks, if they pull this off it will prove their utter corruption and rottenness to the core.

I really may have to agree with Helen Thomas after all.

I'm pretty close to doing so already.

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Posted by Tom at 11:59 p.m. CDT

NO, IT'S YOUR TEST 07-14-03

Morat links to this pompous post by righty blogger Tacitus in which he insists that there's yet another litmus test for us anti-war folks -- whether we respond positively to the news of the administration-appointed Iraqi Council:

I think this development is going to become a Rorschach test for opponents of the war. If you're among them, I would assume general goodwill, human decency and, if you're American or British, patriotic feeling would impel you to want to see a successful occupation. Reactions to this news, as exemplified in this Calpundit thread, belie that assumption. There are apparently plenty of people who stalwartly refuse to believe that good news could come from Iraq, or that the occupation could be an agent of that good news. Instead, we get efforts to paint the representatives from Dawa, the Communist party, and most ludicrously, the leader of the Badr Brigades as 'quislings.'

The same old story: reach conclusion, alter facts to fit. Pathetic.

I wonder how many of these little tests the self-appointed guardians of patriotism are going to devise for us anti-war folks who have, incidentally, turned out to be exactly right about this war and its aftermath?

Fortunately, Morat responds in an excellent post that says all the right things. I'll quote a bit of it here:

Sorry, Tacitus. Optimism is earned. This isn't any sort of damn test for us"anti-war people". It's a test for the"pro-war people".

You got us into this mess. You got us into this mess over our objections, and you have so far managed to screw it up badly. And then you try to come along and bitch that we're not supportive enough?

Sorry, Tacitus. This is your test. Your trial. You pushed for it, you argued for it, and now you're stuck with it. You wanted this mess, you've got it. Now it's your job to get it right.

Yeah, we're pessimistic. Yeah, we expect bad news. You know why? Because we've been right so far. There weren't any smoking guns, there was massive looting of archaeological treasures, and there is a growing resistance to our occupation.

So don't blame us because you guys have screwed the pooch on every major decision since Bush's landing on that aircraft carrier. You'll get"optimism and good will" when you damn well earn it.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to expect the Bush administration to continue to screw up Iraq, and continue to hope to God I'm wrong.

This occupation isn't our test, Tacitus. It's yours. It's the ultimate acid test for all you hawks and your dreams of easy empire.

And we're paying the price, in blood and pain, for your failure. So don't talk to me of tests.

This is your damn war. This is your damn failure. And because the price for your failure is being paid in blood, I'm spending my every waking moment praying I'm wrong about how Iraq is going. But so far, I haven't seen a damn thing to indicate I should be"optimistic".



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

NO MORE... 07-14-03

of ESPN's"NFL Countdown" for me.

Surely the folks at ESPN don't think hiring Rush the windbag is going to pump up their ratings, do they?

They realize that for every viewer they gain, they'll lose two, don't they?

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Posted by Tom at 7:27 p.m. CDT


"When all is said and done the people of the United States will realize that Saddam Hussein had a weapons program," Bush said.

"I think I get is darn good intelligence and the speeches I have given are backed by good intelligence," Bush said. However, the administration has acknowledged the uncertainty of remarks Bush made in his January State of the Union address about Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium in Iraq.

Administration officials say the remark should not have been included in Bush's speech because it was based on British intelligence that was not confirmed by the United States.

"When I gave the speech the line was relevant," the president said. He noted that it was cleared by the CIA at the time, although doubts were subsequently raised.

Darn good? You've got to be kidding me!

Boy the more they try to defend this, the deeper the hole they dig for themselves.

The hole becomes even deeper when Dopey the inarticulate elf opens his mouth.

I'm really getting a desperation vibe off of them now.

Update: W's now trying to act like the rest of us were in on his decision for war. Terry over at Nitpicker points us to the full quotation from our glorious leader:

Well, let me first say that -- I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence. And I am absolutely convinced today, like I was convinced when I gave the speeches, that Saddam Hussein developed a program of weapons of mass destruction, and that our country made the right decision.
Now W is suddenly trying to make it sound like this was some sort of consensus decision by everyone!

Terry reminds us that this comment is from the same fellow who said some of the largest anti-war protests in world history were irrelevant as far as he was concerned and insisted that he was"the person who gets to decide" whether we go to war or not.

Yep. It's desperation all right.

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Posted by Tom at 2:32 p.m. CDT


As I'm catching up on my blog reading from this weekend, I found this excellent post from Kevin explaining WHY these sixteen words matter -- and he even makes a very astute reference to the Iran-Contra scandal.

As he puts it, it's a symbol of"misplaced trust." W's judgement and his arguments have not been vindicated, so this becomes one example (of many) of how untrustworthy this administration is on a daily basis.

Go read it!

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Posted by Tom at 11:30 a.m. CDT


I've just noticed that Atrios is concerned about the thirst for vengeance that is growing among righties. Some of them are beginning to call for the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians in retaliation for the deaths of American soldiers. It's frightening stuff what some of them are apparently saying.

I do like this sentence in his post:

While in my undisclosed location I haven´t had much desire to waste my time reading the latest nonsense coming from all the blogs orbiting planet Instahack, so please bring anything along these lines to my attention.
I can't tell him how widespread it is either. I must admit that I stopped reading Insty and the associated blogs in the Insty universe long ago. I stopped reading them back in January, about the time they all started declaring that those against the war were Saddam lovers. Back then I used to read him once per day just to see what paranoid things the righties were saying at the time. When he started writing such outrageous things about war opponents, I completely lost patience with his slap-dash-I-don't-really-read-this-stuff-I-just-post-it-after-a-reader-sends-me-the-link foolishness entirely.

After the"objectively pro-Saddam" post I began to realize this guy apparently isn't capable of any tolerance of opposing points of view and doesn't ever do even halfway decent analysis. So why read him?

I have a suspicion this is the case with most of the folks on the left who used to read Glenn. I've noticed I seldom see many lefty bloggers referring to him anymore. He used to be a major topic of conversation. He isn't anymore. Glenn became such a buffoonish cartoon during the run-up to war it really was quite distasteful, so lefties just stopped reading him. Even Hesiod, who stuck with reading Glenn much longer than the rest of us, has stopped posting links to Glenn's more outrageous pronouncements.

Even if Glenn has calmed down since his McCarthyistic pre-war days, we all know it'll just happen again the next time W's veracity is questioned or Glenn gets his back up over a particular issue, so why invest the time and effort?

Of course, I would imagine the righties in the blogosphere are all pretty embarrassed about how this war has turned out these days, even if they won't admit it. I mean they told us about how there were tons of weapons in Iraq and that this war was a great idea. Well now, as is obvious, it's turned out to be a big disaster -- just as those of us on the left told them it would be. It must be pretty disheartening for them.

I honestly wish I could muster up some sympathy for them. However, since so many of them were quite nasty and petulant in the run-up to the war, I just can't do it. Righty bloggers and their ilk are part of the reason we got involved in this disaster in the first place and, therefore, they deserve some of the responsibility for it.

However, like their hero W, I suspect they'll try to tell us that it's not their fault at all. It's George Tenet's fault or Tony Blair's fault or Bill Clinton's penis's fault or some such claptrap like that.

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

300K SERVED 07-13-03

Sometime today (probably this morning) I had my 300,000th visitor. I don't know where they came from since I was busy spontaneously combusting out in the July Nebraska sun. It was only six days ago that I had my 290,000th visitor.

I've also had just a bit under 430,000 hits since I started my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always, I appreciate your dropping by the old blog here. I hope to give you reason to return -- and often!

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


W's approval rating is in the middle 50s now, even before his annual August vacation from doing his job:

Bush's approval rating for his handling of the military operation in Iraq fell to 53 percent among those surveyed on July 10-11, from 65 percent in a May 29-30 poll, and a high of 74 percent in an April 10-11 poll taken just after Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was ousted from power in Iraq, Newsweek said.

The president's overall rating slipped to 55 percent from 61 percent in the May poll.

If you recall, I predicted mid 50s for August. Silly me!

It's all going according to plan, isn't it W?

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Posted by Tom at 10:19 p.m. CDT


Holy Cow. You've got to read this to believe it.

The Pentagon essentially had NO PLAN for postwar Iraq! They thought the Iraqis would greet us as liberators and would embrace Chalabi as a leader! How ridiculous can you get, huh? Hell, they could've just consulted some of us bloggers to find what an idiotic plan that was -- and we're not"experts" in the field.

Clearly the folks in the Pentagon aren't"experts" either.

What's even more hilarious is that our good buddy and Sy Hersh fan Richard Perle is claiming that the Pentagon has made a mistake by not appointing Chalabi and following the now-discredited neo-cons' playbook. Just how much more out of touch with reality can you get?

I'm watching this war become the albatross around W's neck more and more with each passing day.

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Posted by Tom at 9:58 p.m. CDT


Just a bit of advice: if a local swim team near you wants to have an invitational swim meet with no limits on entries for individual swimmers and wants to involve more than 400 swimmers but only has six lanes, try to convince them it's a bad idea and that it could take more than 10 hours to complete such a meet.

I just went to two swim meets this weekend. On Saturday, we went to the Tri-State Conference Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This was a large regional meet that had limits on entries and involved only the top four swimmers in each division from each of eight teams (I was proud that my eight-year-old son, in his first year, qualified for it). The meet was long and involved 280 swimmers. It took about five and a half hours. My son's swim team came in third and he came in sixth in breast stroke. His relay teams also placed as well.

On Sunday, we went to the aforementioned gargantuan meet involving more than 400 swimmers and seven teams (four of them were also in the meet on Saturday) called the Nebraska City Invitational in, you guessed it, Nebraska City, Nebraska. It went on and on. It was just too darn large and the pool was not large enough to accomodate it. At one point we counted 70 total heats in freestyle alone.

I am proud to say that my son placed 2nd in the Individual Medley (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Free Style) -- and it was the FIRST TIME he tried it! My son's team was in 2nd place when we left with eight events to go. When we left it had been going for 9 and a half hours and it probably had at least an hour left in it.

Needless to say I'm exhausted.

And, as a longtime swimmer both as a kid and now as an adult, I'm also extremely proud of my son.

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Posted by Tom at 9:53 p.m. CDT

BON WEEKEND 07-11-03

I'm going to be incommunicado (out of blogging range and very busy) the next couple of days.

Blogging will resume on Sunday afternoon sometime.

I'll see you then.

Feel free to visit the excellent blogs over to the right.

Have a good weekend folks!

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Posted by Tom at 11:01 p.m. CDT


Uh-oh. According to this ABC News poll, the public is getting buyer's remorse over IraqWar Part II. This is very bad news for W and the boys.

And, if you'll notice, W's approval rating is going down right along with the rise of buyer's remorse with the war. As I've seen in several other polls, W's approval is now back to about where it was in August of 2001. He's now officially squandered the great big wad of public support he had post-9/11.

Of course, this is just as I predicted. If the economy doesn't improve and fast, W's going to be in enormous trouble.

Then we'll have a great chance of being able to party like it's 1992 -- November 1992 in fact.

Rove's going to have to come up with another distraction soon folks.

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


Holy cow! Surely no one's stupid enough to buy the argument that it's the CIA director's responsibility entirely to make the White House remove bogus information from a presidential address? I mean, come on, it's obvious the CIA made clear it was bogus.

However, the White House insisted on changing the language until it was in the"technically true" category by hanging it on the Brits. In what was undoubtedly bad judgement, the CIA, which had been under extreme pressure for months to gin up evidence with regard to WMDs in Iraq, finally relented.

Does it really require the Director of the CIA standing there holding his breath to make the White House take something bogus out of a speech? Does the White House not bear any responsibility?

But Josh Marshall, once again, asks the elemental question:

But all of this begs the obvious and singularly important question: the charge is that CIA didn't push hard enough to keep bogus information out of the president's speech. Who was pushing on the other side? Who was pushing to keep the bogus information in? And why?
As I said earlier, is this White House no longer even responsible for the content of the president's speeches? Are W and the boys ever responsible for anything? Everything they screw up is apparently somebody else's fault. So much for the adults being in charge and this being the"responsibility era," huh?

I can't believe Tenet would walk the plank for this one. Has Cheney already got him a multi-million dollar job already lined up at Halliburton or something?

Update: I'm with Hesiod on this one. Tenet should resign -- right now. He apparently isn't going to do his damn job if he's going to hush up and take the fall for the lies told by W, Cheney, Condi, and Colin over the last few months. It shows he's just as much a sycophant as our pal Mr. May below.

Tenet's clearly unfit for the job.

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Posted by Tom at 7:06 p.m. CDT


Angry at Ambassador Joseph Wilson for writing the editorial last week that has precipated this major scandal, the administration's allies have begun the smear campaign against him, as evidenced by this thinly-veiled attack piece by Clifford D. May in the NRO.

Hilariously, the piece also tries to defend W and includes this little gem of word-parsing that equals anything I ever saw Bill Clinton or his allies try to get away with:

The president's critics are lying. Mr. Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Niger. It is not true — as USA Today reported on page one Friday morning — that"tainted evidence made it into the President's State of the Union address." For the record, here's what President Bush actually said in his SOTU:"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Precisely which part of that statement isn't true?

My good Mr. May you get the"Sycophantic George W. Lapdog Word Parsing Award" for the week. May's piece conveniently ignores the whole issue of whether the CIA had warned the White House the claim was bogus beforehand, of which there apparently is ample evidence, at least according to numerous sources including"Deep Throat, Jr.," the senior administration official who talked to CBS News about all of this yesterday.

And, by the way, if the purchase attempt didn't happen at all that would actually make the statement untrue, right Mr. May? Since the White House disavowed that statement on Monday I'm guessing that they've determined that it isn't true themselves. You can disagree with the White House if you want to Mr. May but I'm just going on what the White House has said now.

But, hilarious in its hypocrisy though all of that is, that's not the part of the article I'm most interested in talking about here. At the end of the piece, May recounts a series of charges against Wilson and then ties up the piece this way:

In other words, Wilson is no disinterested career diplomat — he's a pro-Saudi, leftist partisan with an ax to grind. And too many in the media are helping him and allies grind it.
This, I must say, is also hilarious.

Oh, the horror! The horror! A newspaper giving space and the news media giving time to someone who's a critic of the administration! What a horrible development that is! God knows the media never gave space to critics of the Clinton administration in the 1990s, right?

And I always love the simplistic"leftist partisan" line used to characterize a career diplomat who served mostly under Republican presidents with distinction. Isn't that rich? Gosh, what a lapdog Mr. May is, huh? I wonder if Karl Rove just faxed the piece over to him or if he had to write part of it himself? I suspect Rove gave him the bullet points at the end, don't you?

The ever-vigilant Josh Marshall (he's really on this story, isn't he?) has already contacted Ambassador Wilson for a comment and here it is:

So those are the talking points. Good to know. Not worth responding to. The article stands, the administration has made the acknowledgement. The story is not, and never was about me. It is and has been about who put the statement in the State of the Union. I am not going to rise to bait that is clearly designed to resurrect the notion that I am the story. I am not. The story is the story.
The White House and its allies sure are beginning to look awfully desperate, aren't they?

This is what it looks like when the worm turns folks. As Hesiod put it this morning:

Sit back and enjoy the show, folks. It's going to be fun.
It's time for for a little schadenfreude.

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Posted by Tom at 2:25 p.m. CDT


Boy, now this really has gotten to be a firestorm. The Niger Uranium scandal is the lead story on every news network website. Josh Marshall, as usual, has a great update.

It is truly astonishing that Condi and the other truly responsible parties are trying to pass the buck to George Tenet. They're still trying to stick to the story that the CIA" cleared" the speech so it's the CIA's fault. It's becoming readily apparent that the CIA only approved the speech after incredible pressure from the White House and after the White House agreed to hang the bogus allegation on the British.

Honestly, then, do you really think it would've mattered if Tenet had told them directly that the Niger claim was bogus? They used such flimsy reasoning to justify putting the claim in the speech in the first place, I can't really see how Tenet's explicit word would have stopped them from putting it in the speech.

Josh is right that Condi is daring Tenet to contradict her. At this point the administration is playing a very dangerous game. If Tenet really did tell them and they really were informed of significant objections, they've lied numerous times over the last few days trying to cover themselves. It looks incredibly bad and heads very well may roll. I think Condi's would be first to roll probably.

However, as I'm reading through all of this I can't help but think:"Are the folks in the administration honestly trying to convince us that they're NOT responsible for the veracity of what's included in a presidential address?"

Have we honestly reached the point where we have such an ethically-slippery administration that they're going to try to make the argument that the president isn't responsible for HIS OWN WORDS?

It appears so. If Republicans are going to try to make this pig fly, they really should shut the hell up about Clinton for the rest of eternity.

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Posted by Tom at 11:57 a.m. CDT


You know it's bad when the administration wheels out Condi Rice to make say things that CIA officials in Washington are already debunking.

This is quite a development folks. All the spinning in the world may not save them on this one. They're lying and it's become obvious to the press. The CIA did its job apparently and warned them and, apparently, warned the Brits about the bogus documents too.

However the administration, needing to scare the American people sufficiently to get them to support their immoral and unnecessary war, ignored the CIA's objections and included the allegation anyway. The CIA, under pressure, dropped its objections as long as the administration cited the Brits as a source. Once the White House began lying and tried to blame the CIA for not warning them, it was time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

I mean, heck folks, think about the big picture here. The White House is now saying they put this in the speech because the British had it in their dossier. Well what evidence did the Brits base that claim on? Why the exact same evidence the CIA had said was bogus!

This is more than Clintonian word parsing folks. This is trying to get away with including material you were told was bogus in a presidential address -- material you included for only one reason: to scare the American people into supporting your war.

And it tells you a lot about the character of this White House that they've tried to place the blame on the very people who warned them that the claim was bogus in the first place.

Yep. I think it's safe to say W is in big trouble now.

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Posted by Tom at 9:41 a.m. CDT


Well folks, here's the expected bombshell story in which people close to the president now acknowledge that the CIA told them the Niger story was no good. In short, even people close to the president are now acknowledging that Dan Barlett lied yesterday when he claimed the CIA didn't object to the information in the speech.

As usual, Josh Marshall is on the case:

Let's be clear what this means. The White House ran the charge past the CIA. Folks at the agency said, we don't think it's true. The White House's response was to say, well, okay, we won't say whether it's true or not. We'll just say that the British say this. And the Brits are saying this. So we're good.

(Let's just agree that Republican grousing about 'depends what the definition of 'is' is' just ain't gonna have the same sting anymore, will it?)

So now folks the White House is lying about lying. Isn't that special? I sure don't want to hear a damn thing about Clinton anymore. These people are now piling lies on top of lies -- and they just got caught.

I wondered how long the geniuses in the White House thought they could get away with trying to call the folks in the CIA a bunch of liars. The answer is, as we've seen, about a day. I suspect the folks in the CIA told them they would leak the briefing notes or some other evidence if the White House didn't come clean. Having no other choice, that's just what they did.

Josh also links to his column in the Hill from June that I linked to as well. This CBS News story is essentially the same story as Josh was writing about back then. It was broken by a reporter at NPR. However, it's now a bombshell because the White House has lied about this Niger allegation too many times in the last few days, challenged the CIA, and has now had to admit they were the ones lying and that they knowingly put bogus information in a national presidential address.

I think the bloom is rapidly coming off the rose folks. I really do wonder if someone's going to have to go over the side on this one. Who do you think it'll be? I wonder if Dick will resign and Powell will replace him?

Probably not but, who knows, the way things are going the White House very well may be looking for a fall guy pretty soon.

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


Ruy Teixeira has an excellent Public Opinion Watch up today. You should go read it. I'll quote the most interesting part of it:

Our fearless leader, George W. Bush, has remarked: “Bring ’em on,” secure in the knowledge that the great American public stands right behind him, ready to support the noble mission in Iraq, no matter what it takes.

Or are they? Someone should tell fearless leader, he of the schoolyard rhetoric, that the public is getting pretty restless as the chaotic situation in Iraq continues, casualties mount, and questions about why we went to war—and whether we got the whole truth from the administration—intensify. According to the latest Gallup poll, the number saying that the Iraq situation was worth going to war about is down twenty points since April 9 (from 76 percent to 56 percent), while the number saying that the Iraq situation was not worth going to war about is up more than twenty points (from 19 percent to 42 percent). If present trends continue, we could see an even split on this question very soon.

Public perception of how well things are going for the United States in Iraq also is slipping rapidly. In early April, 86 percent thought that things were going very or moderately well, and just 13 percent thought that things were going very or moderately badly. Today, the number thinking that things are going well has slipped thirty points, to 56 percent, and the number thinking things are going badly is up twenty-nine points, at 42 percent.

The poll also finds that 37 percent now believe that the administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). And twice that number—75 percent—say that it would matter a great deal (53 percent) or a moderate amount (22 percent) if they were convinced that the Bush administration deliberately had deceived them on this issue.

Data from the just-released PIPA poll suggest that much of the public could be moved in that direction. In that poll, 42 percent already are willing to say that, when the U.S. government presented evidence to justify going to war with Iraq, it was being misleading. On the specific issue of the WMDs, 62 percent say that the government either stretched the truth (52 percent) or presented evidence they knew was false (10 percent). And on the Saddam–Al Qaeda link, 56 percent believe that the government either stretched the truth (46 percent) or presented evidence they knew was false (10 percent).

It is worth noting that independent likely voters—classic swing voters—in the PIPA sample were even more negative about the government’s handling of intelligence evidence than the public as a whole. For example, 72 percent of this group think that the government stretched the truth or presented false evidence about Iraq’s WMDs.

These data suggest that the public is starting to lose faith that the Iraq war was worth it and that the Bush administration was straight with them about the need to go to war. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, these data suggest that such loss of faith may wind up having real political consequences.

Perhaps it already is. The president’s personal high standing on a number of important indicators has sunk to unimpressive levels. Just 50 percent claim that he has a clear plan for solving the country’s problems, compared to 47 percent who think that he doesn’t. Only 54 percent say that he is a person they admire (down ten points since the beginning of May), while 45 percent say he is not a person they admire. And 57 percent now say that he cares about the needs of “people like you” (down eight points since early April), compared to 42 percent who say he doesn’t.

But perhaps the most interesting finding is this: At the end of January 2002, 71 percent said that they agreed with Bush on the issues that mattered most to them. Today, that’s down a whopping eighteen points, to just 53 percent who say they agree with Bush on the issues that matter most, compared to 46 percent who say they disagree. These figures are very similar to the ones Bush received on this indicator in August of 2001, right before September 11.

Guess not everybody’s with Mr. “Bring ’em on” after all.

Hmmm. Sounds like what I've been saying, doesn't it? I don't know if Teixeira and I are right about all this but we're certainly on the same page, aren't we?

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Posted by Tom at 5:45 p.m. CDT


Here's Gene Lyons's latest column!

It Ain't Stealing When You Admit It

In keeping with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's new era of editorial accountability, I've decided not to write my own column this week. Instead, this space will be devoted to material culled from internet by our ace research team at Unsolicited Opinions, Inc. I hit upon this plan after reading that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, aka"Kool Mo D," the Alpha female of Washington wits, had been banished from the editorial page.

Dowd's sin was cleverly editing a pronouncement by President Junior to turn here boasting into vainglorious nonsense. Such monkey-business may have been tolerable when Bill Clinton was its target, but it has no place under the benevolent reign of George W. Bush.

Editors somewhat confusingly chose to underscore their newfound commitment to intellectual honesty by subsequently featuring a column by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. Connoisseurs of high profile pratfalls rank Jacoby's purloined Independence Day column right up there with Sammy Sosa's corked bat. On July 3, 2000, the pundit published under his own byline a patriotic screed he was subsequently forced to admit copying almost verbatim from a widely-circulated e-mail. Originally composed by Rush Limbaugh's father, the column was also chock full of historical blunders. After the Globe suspended Jacoby for four months, conservatives complained that liberal media bosses were picking on him.

To honor the Democrat-Gazette's stringent new ethical guidelines then, a few openly borrowed quotes from various sources:

**"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you can help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."--President Bush to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, as reported by Abbas to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.

**"There are some who feel that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." --President Bush, as reported in the Washington Post.

**"Bush's comment was unwise, unworthy of the office and his role as commander in chief, and unhelpful to American soldiers under fire. The deteriorating situation in Iraq requires less swagger and more thoughtfulness and statesmanship.--press release by Sen. John Kerry,D-Mass., three purple hearts, Vietnam

**"I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander--let alone the commander in chief--invite enemies to attack U.S. troops."-press release by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey.

**""As a mother of one of our brave troops in Iraq, may I just say, Mr. President, Perhaps you truly do believe in the invincibility of our military; however, the next time you invite attacks on my son, and others, kindly stand in front of our soldiers, rather than hiding behind"-soldier's mother quoted in an online forum in the Nashville Tennesean.

**"The world expects something more of an American president than to prance around on a flight deck dressed up like [a] pilot. He's expected to be a leader. That's my fundamental issue with it. It doesn't reflect the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it's a little phony."--Gen. Wesley Clark in Newsweek speaking of Bush's aircraft carrier landing.

**"To put it plainly, Rumsfeld treats people like crap. Working for him is like working for Leona Helmsley, except that Leona is less self-centered. Unless you are one of his sycophants, equipped with a good set of knee-pads and plenty of lip balm, you can expect to be booted down the stairs on a regular basis...[S]ome senior officers deserve to be treated that way,because that is how they always treated their subordinates. But Rummy does not discriminate between perfumed princes and the real thinkers and leaders."--Military.com columnist William S. Lind on the Secretary of Defense's leadership style.

**"U.S. officials need to get our [expletive] out of here...I say that seriously. We have no business being here. We will not change the culture they have in Iraq, in Baghdad. Baghdad is so corrupted. All we are here is potential people to be killed and sitting ducks."--Staff Sgt. Charles Pollard, 307th Military Police, as reported by Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post.

**"I don't really know what to think now. We have lost Saddam Hussein, but I have lost my daughter. They came to kill him, but killed her and the other children instead. What am I supposed to make of that?"--Juma Septi, of Fallujah,Iraq, speaking of his 10 year old daughter Rahad, mistakenly targeted by an American A-10 bomber while playing hide and seek. Reported by Ed Vuillamy in the Observer of London.

**"When my husband first deployed, the people at work were so sweet, giving me days off, saying take whatever time I need. But it's not like that today. Now they look at me kind of funny and say: 'Why do you need a day off now? Isn't the war over?'" --Kim Franklin of Ft. Hood, Texas, quoted in the New York Times.

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Posted by Tom at 4:50 p.m. CDT


Holy cow. Even David Horowitz thinks Ann Coulter's book is way too shrill and indiscriminate in choosing its targets although he wimps out at the end of the column.

As Hesiod puts it:

When David Horowitz thinks your liberal bashing is"over the top" you know you've got problems.
And, yes, I'm in one of the forums over there from a few months ago. Please don't remind me. I'm still trying to repress the memory of the experience. (Needless to say, no link will be provided for you here.) Now, don't get me wrong, the fellow actually running the forum and many of the participants were actually quite interesting and courteous.

However, one of the scholars involved in the forum engaged in so many ad hominem attacks that the forum was more or less a waste of time for everyone unfortunately. I mean, heck, folks, I like to give and take with the best of them but this person's cartoonish visions of the world which, predictably, easily broke down into the"left" and the"right" (at one point it was suggested by this person that war opponents were really supporters of Stalin or Pol Pot AND Saddam lovers) really got to me after a while.

If that sort of thing is what passes for debate in righty circles, I understand why they just shout nowadays on the Faux News Channel instead of advancing arguments that involve evidence and intellect.

Furthermore, every time I read anything off of Front Page Magazine, I can't help but think"Look it's millions of dollars of Mellon-Scaife's money that keeps this thing going and Crazy Davey in the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed."

You think Davey'd make it on his own, without millions of dollars of right-wing welfare? Now, honestly, I don't know about the rest of the website's traffic but I was more than a bit annoyed that after spending hours writing responses for that forum, I only had a couple of dozen click-throughs.

Okay, I'm done venting now.

Move along.

Nothing more to see here.

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

HMMMM... 07-10-03

The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al-Qaida terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a"spectacular attack."
Does that sound as bad to you as it does to me?

I think I'm beginning to understand why W and the boys have been sitting on this report.

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


As Josh Marshall notes, White House officials now claim it's not their fault that the Niger accusation was in the speech at all, it's the CIA's and State Department's:

But now the story is quite different. It was in the speech for at least ten days prior to its delivery. And the appropriate people from all the key national security agencies and departments signed off on it.

Bartlett's drawn the line pretty clearly, leaving only two real possibilities. Either the speech was intentionally deceptive or folks at the State Department and the CIA were guilty of some mixture of gross negligence and incompetence. The 'senior administration official' quoted in the second passage doesn't even want to leave it that ambiguous. It's George Tenet's fault, he says.

Ah, that Bush tradition of passing the buck.

Has W ever taken responsibility for anything -- in his life?

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Posted by Tom at 9:58 a.m. CDT

GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S 1983! 07-10-03

Hmmm. It appears unemployment is really quite terrible right now, isn't it?

The Labor Department reported Thursday that for the work week ending July 5, new claims filed for unemployment insurance rose by a seasonally adjusted 5,000 to 439,000, the highest level since the week ending May 31.

The increase surprised economists who were forecasting a decline in jobless claims.

For 21 weeks in a row, the level of claims has been above the 400,000 mark, a level associated with a sluggish job market.

And if you thought maybe it was even as bad as it was during the"Reagan Recession" in the early 1980s -- one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression, you're right!

The number of out-of-work Americans continuing to draw jobless benefits jumped by 87,000 to 3.8 million for the work week ending June 28, the most recent period for which that information is available. That represented the highest level since Feb. 26, 1983, and suggested that not a lot of hiring is taking place.

Last week the government reported that the nation's unemployment rate climbed to 6.4 percent in June, a nine-year high, raising new questions about whether the economy would stage a material revival in the second half of this year as many economists hope.

I will remind you yet again that we will need two consecutive quarters of growth above 3 percent for there to be significant job growth. It's looking increasingly unlikely that is going to happen before the election. This, as I've said a hundred times, is what will ultimately take W down if he's going to go down.

It's become obvious that the big tax cuts for the rich folks aren't doing a thing to stimulate the economy. The American people are beginning to realize these guys don't know anything at all about managing an economy.

I think it's also safe to say W unwittingly (has there ever been a more apropo use of that word?) is going to put the last nail into the coffin for these trickle-down"supply-side" economic plans. The economy remains flaccid despite two years' worth of big tax cuts for rich folks. I think it's time for a new economic approach, don't you?

If we don't start seeing a very rapid rebound, look for W's approval numbers to reach the mid 50s when W's administration goes into its predictable month-long hibernation in August. And, depending on what kind of wag the dog distraction Rove has planned for next spring and summer (Syria? Iran?), it should continue to go south from there.

Of course, as always, we'll see.

[Link via Lambert at Eschaton]

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Posted by Tom at 9:13 a.m. CDT


who should be left alone, according to Pat Robertson.

Oh, now this really is quite hilarious:

"So we're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country. And how dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" Robertson said to his viewers on Monday.
I'm sure Robertson spent the weeks leading up to the war with Iraq saying the same things about Saddam, right?

After all, the claims would be equally accurate in both cases.

Why is Pat supporting this murderer, you ask?

Well, it might have a teensy, eensy, little bit to do with an investment of his:

What Robertson, 73, has not discussed in these broadcasts is his financial interest in Liberia. In an interview yesterday, he said he has"written off in my own mind" an $8 million investment in a gold mining venture that he made four years ago under an agreement with Taylor's government.

Yet, he added:"Hope springs eternal. Once the dust has cleared on this thing, chances are there will be some investors from someplace who want to invest. If I could find some people to sell it to, I'd be more than delighted."

Holy cow. So Pat's morality can be compromised by a little $8 million investment!

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that a prominent religious conservative's morality could be compromised in such a fashion.

I mean, heck, I just got over the fact that paragon of virtue Bill Bennett's got a major gambling problem and now this!

What is this world coming to?

[Link via Hesiod]

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

MORE THAN 1,000 07-09-03

After much cajoling, that's the closest the Pentagon would come to telling us the number of soldiers wounded in IraqWar Part II. They provided no other real specifics as to what types of injuries these"more than 1,000 soldiers" have sustained. Nice to see the Pentagon's doing its usual excellent job of keeping us all up-to-date, huh?

And if you believe Rumsfeld's figure of $4B per month as the actual current cost of the Iraq deployment, I've got some oceanfront property near St. Louis I'd like to sell you.

[Link via the Agonist]

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Posted by Tom at 11:15 p.m. CDT


So were W's comments in Africa today yet another fib?

W just can't help himself, can he?

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Posted by Tom at 6:40 p.m. CDT


Both Kevin and Terry have commented on W's Saddam-esque and Stalin-esque use of minders for those testifying before the 9/11 commission.

Terry points to this passage from an article yesterday in the NYT:

The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony. ...

At a news conference, Mr. Kean described the presence of"minders" at the interviews as a form of intimidation."I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," he said."You might get less testimony than you would."

"We would rather interview these people without minders or without agency people there," he said.

Terry then points to this passage from W's now infamously truth-challenged State of the Union address:

...Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.

You know, it really takes a special kind of hypocrite (and we all know W is just that kind of animal) to employ police-state-style scare tactics to intimidate Congress's investigation into 9/11 after having attacked Saddam for doing exactly the same thing. Heck, W even went further and argued it showed Saddam's guilt with regard to WMDs.

Using W's logic, shouldn't we therefore draw the conclusion that, regarding 9/11 at least, this administration" clearly has much to hide."

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


And so, I would argue, we may be seeing the firestorm around this truth-challenged administration begin. The White House has been forced to admit that one of the central allegations that was used to sell the war was bogus. I suspect this is the beginning of a hell of a mess.

As the war that never ended (despite what W said) gets nastier, the more weeks and months that go by without WMDs discoveries, and, especially if the economy stays in doldrums, there could be quite a train wreck coming for this administration in the coming months.

Despite the snide overconfidence in the voice of Faux News's Tony Snow's last night in his interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show about how"everyone was trying to get onto the George W. Bush bandwagon," I think it's safe to say that W is in trouble folks. As I've said a few times, if the end is coming for this administration in 2004, it's going to be incredible to watch.

Josh Marshall is also starting to dig into the Niger uranium story (here and here). We all know what that means by now, don't we? He's getting the tip from his friends in the media in Washington, D.C. that there's something there. Josh is beginning to raise questions and many of them are like what I said in the (admittedly very speculative) post below about the prima facie case for Cheney's impeachment:

This was always one of the most intriguing elements of the White House's defense. Because they seemed to be referring to intelligence so top-secret and rarefied that they couldn't even share it with the CIA or other members of the intelligence community. It was so top-secret that only the president's speech writers had sufficiently high security clearances to see it. That was the story on some days. On others, the other intelligence seemed to be the 'dossier' published by the British -- which of course was based on the same bogus Niger documents.

Whatever the case, the 'other intelligence' line no longer seems to be operative.

According to the White House's statement last night, quoted in the Times:"There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa. However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made." A"senior administration official" told the Post that there were"possible attempts" by Iraqis to buy uranium in Namibia and Gabon but that those reports"were all somewhat sketchy."

(I translate this roughly as:"It's not true that we had no other information. We had some. But it was information so fragmentary, questionable and meaningless that we'd really just as soon not go into it." Further translation: according to the distinct recollection of Ahmed Chalabi's brother's butler ...)

The new White House line leaves just as many unanswered questions as before. Did the White House know the CIA had reported that the story was bogus or not? If they didn't know there were problems with the Niger documents, why the big fuss about hanging the allegations on what the Brits said? And if they did know about the problems with the Niger documents, why use the Brits' report as a fig leaf, when their claims were based on the same Niger documents the CIA -- i.e., our lead intelligence agency -- had already decided were bogus? Who approved putting it in the speech in the first place and was that line run by intelligence officials or not?

And Josh is also quite an excellent journalist as well. I suspect he's starting to look into this as well. Since Josh is one of the guys most responsible for bringing down Trent Lott, that's not a minor development.

As a historian, I try to beware of the dangers of telling the future. A lot of people thought Clinton would go down when the Lewinsky story began to break in 1998 if you recall. However, at the risk of making a similar mistake, let me say that this very well may be the beginning of the end for W -- if the scribes in the press corps will actually pursue this story where it logically leads, to Dick Cheney's office. This is also a scandal that is directly-related to the office, not some private matter like the Lewinsky story was. Unfortunately, since I haven't been very impressed with the effort of our press corps in pursuing such things since about 1998, I'm not holding my breath.

Regardless, don't blow off what happened yesterday. The White House armor has cracked -- and their admission that W lied in a presidential address is a major development. And they acknowledged how big a deal it was when they admitted it in such a chickenshit and evasive fashion -- by releasing a statement from the White House after the president had left for Africa.

Stay tuned folks. This could get interesting.

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Posted by Tom at 9:57 a.m. CDT


Ah, you've got to love the great respect Republicans have for democracy, don't you? The recall vote for Gray Davis is now going to happen.

The fellow who bankrolled this effort, indicted-for-felony-car-theft-three-times-but-never-convicted Darrell Issa, announced yesterday,"It's a done deal." And, since I suspect Issa has made many deals (and probably the majority of them were actually legal), he knows what he's talking about.

BTW, isn't it hilarious how Republicans talk and talk about character and then have extremely seedy folks like Issa as officeholders and dealmakers in their party?

You also have to love how Republicans in the California legislature are manipulating the $39B budget shortfall by refusing to make a deal to solve it so they can make Davis look bad.

If the Republicans nominate an actual Republican to run against Davis, Davis won't lose. In fact, it won't even be close. California comes about its image as being a bit loony honestly -- at least in the political department. Their Democrats certainly are more lefty liberal than most Democrats nationwide and, correspondingly, their Republicans are often more right-wing than Republicans nationwide (which is honestly saying something). Anyone remember Bob Dornan? All of this means that, in a state a bit to the left of center overall, an actual conservative Republican doesn't really stand a chance in a statewide election.

Now if they try some gimmick like nominating a movie star or someone who isn't really a Republican, they might have a shot. However, Schwarzenegger might be a bad call judging from his performances in political rallies the last few days. He looks pretty inarticulate in public. Heck, he sometimes is so far out there he can't remember Gray Davis's name!

Well, at least it will be interesting to watch, won't it?

And we can all think to ourselves,"I thought my state was a basket case. I guess there's one state that's worse now."

(My last blog entry on this is here.)

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Posted by Tom at 9:13 a.m. CDT


You really should read the Mahablog today -- especially her entry from yesterday (Mahablog has no permalinks, scroll down to July 7) about what the Bushies learned from Ken Starr and how they approached Saddam the same way.

I'll give you just a bit of it to whet your appetite:

Fast forward to Bush II. Is it not obvious that the Bush Administration dealt with Iraq the same way Starr dealt with Clinton? They had a hypothesis -- Saddam Hussein was a danger to the United States because he supported al Qaeda and he had weapons of mass destruction. They sold this hypothesis to the press and the public as fact. They mobilized public disgust and anger at anyone who dared question the hypothesis. They instigated a war. And now they hope that they will find evidence to back up their hypothesis.
Go read the rest of the post -- and, as usual, you should read her other posts as well if you've got the time. The Mahablog is an excellent blog. You shouldn't miss it.

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

THANKS AGAIN! 07-08-03

I just realized I missed my 290,000th visitor about a thousand visitors ago (judging from today's traffic, four or five hours ago probably), I'm sure via a link from Buzzflash. I've also had more than 416,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter in September of last year. It was about a week ago that I had my 280,000th visitor.

As always folks, I really appreciate your dropping by and reading the old blog. I hope to give you a reason to come back.

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Posted by Tom at 5:47 p.m. CDT


Lie #1: That there was"other evidence" supporting the Niger uranium fairy tale that was in the presidential State of the Union address.

Lie #2: That there were only a few objects stolen from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. About the museum story, Hesiod asks

Isn't it time for the jackasses who tried to minimize this problem to fess up and apologize?
He means you, Glenn.

Boy, it's not a good day for W's lapdogs, is it?

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Posted by Tom at 3:40 p.m. CDT


Boy, now isn't this a cowardly way to admit you lied?:

Asked about the accuracy of the president's statement this morning, Mr. Fleischer said,"We see nothing that would dissuade us from the president's broader statement." But when pressed, he said he would clarify the issue later today. Tonight, after Air Force One had departed, White House officials issued a statement in Mr. Fleischer's name that made clear that they no longer stood behind Mr. Bush's statement.
Read the whole story. This one's not over. W, Cheney, and the boys have been lying about this one recently.

I like what TBogg says about this:

After the 9/11 scramble to Offut Air Force Base, I guess we should call this one Chicken Run II: Chicken George Flies the Coop.
I'm off to class and then a dentist's appointment.

[Links via Atrios]

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


Okay, not really"links of mass destruction" but there is a great deal of good stuff out there this morning, so I'll just get some links up quickly before I get back to work.

First, you ought to read this column about our pathetic press scribes for W and the boys. I like the metaphor of the nose loop, don't you?

In other media news, you should read these two columns (here and here) by William E. Jackson in Editor and Publisher on Judith Miller and her numerous ethical transgressions as a journalist (and I use that word loosely,"propagandist" might be a better word).

You remember how W claimed he wanted to heal old political wounds? You remember how most Americans disliked the whole Ken Starr impeachment episode and believed it was a monumental waste of time and money? Well, then explain to me why it is that W is going out of his way to appoint Starr's discredited henchmen to positions in the administration or, even worse, the judiciary! Could W have lied to us about that too? Gee, what do you think?

And congrats to Buzzflash founder Mark Karlin. He's quoted in this E.J. Dionne column about Dean's fundraising and the potential of the internet for progressives/liberals.

I honestly consider Buzzflash the most useful news website out there. I've gotten to where I check it before I read through the news websites these days and, of course, it's no secret that they link to me quite often.

I appreciate it greatly guys! Keep up the fantastic work!

I've got to go do some work now folks. More later.

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


This is a very interesting column -- arguing that W's attempt to mask one war with another (replace news coverage from Iraq with news coverage of Liberia) is a lot like Reagan's use of Grenada to distract Americans from the disaster that was Beirut in October of 1983.

Now I am fully aware that Reagan's folks had been planning the invasion of Grenada but the timing was always, well, awfully convenient for the administration. I have my suspicions we'll discover that it was a conscious effort at distraction by the Gipper if W ever allows us access to Reagan's papers. In fact, that may be one of the reasons we haven't been allowed to see those papers yet.

At the very least, this article makes a very interesting historical comparison. Whether the timing of the Grenada invasion was a coincidence or not, I can't help but think Rove may be thinking the timing of Liberia could work a lot LIKE the Grenada invasion did on the American people's psyche.

Of course, we're more than likely stuck in Iraq for the next several years, so we won't be bailing out like Reagan had us do in Beirut. So Iraq isn't going to vanish from America's radar screens like Beirut did.

W can't in good conscience cut and run from Iraq like Reagan did from Beirut, right?


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


To begin with, let's start with what Ambassador Wilson said about Cheney's office's involvement in the process of requesting Wilson's visit:

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.
Wilson clearly believes Cheney's office wanted verification of this evidence -- and this is an important point folks. I was just reviewing Fleischer's ridiculous spinning remarks in which he tries to say that Ambassador Wilson had gotten it all wrong when this paragraph struck me right between the eyes:

FLEISCHER: Well, there is zero, nada, nothing new here. Ambassador Wilson, other than the fact that now people know his name, has said all this before. But the fact of the matter is in his statements about the Vice President -- the Vice President's office did not request the mission to Niger. The Vice President's office was not informed of his mission and he was not aware of Mr. Wilson's mission until recent press accounts -- press reports accounted for it.

So this was something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events, where they sent him. But they sent him on their own volition, and the Vice President's office did not request it. Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.

Now, if someone can find out from a member of this Nixon-style tight-lipped administration that Cheney's office did request it, or did know about it, and still included it in the speech anyway, that someone could make a very good prima facie case for Cheney's impeachment -- in my opinion of course.

And, if the president knew about it as well, for his as well. It seems to me that a bald-faced lie in a State of the Union address seeking support for war and later the participation in a cover-up of said lie afterwards rises to the level of impeachment for me. If Clinton's dilly-dallying about Monica rose to that level, this malfeasance is much more heinous than that -- and is actually job-related to boot. Now, again, I'm not saying I know this of course. I'm just suggesting that if this were the case, one could make a case for it at least as plausible as that advanced back in 1998 and 1999.

And, I do remind you, that Cheney has now lied about this twice if he did lie. This isn't just about one lie to the American people, it's now potentially about two.

This administration is suddenly getting in pretty deep, isn't it? Would W push Cheney over the side to save himself? It's an interesting question. Not that I expect the pathetic scribes in our press corps to give this issue the attention it deserves. It would be quite out of character for them to do so.

I'm beginning to think my wife is right about Fleischer. Fleischer is quitting his job so he can spend the rest of his life in atonement for his sins at being a shill for this administration's immoral policies. I'm sure Fleischer felt like he needed to take a shower after this morning exchange about the Niger fabrication.

Not that I feel that much sympathy for Ari but surely he has to have trouble sleeping the night after he has to say something like that, right?

I mean, wouldn't any human being have trouble sleeping after having to cover for someone like that? To cover for someone whose lies led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and the ongoing humanitarian mess in Iraq?

Well maybe Ari wouldn't have trouble but I know I would.

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Posted by Tom at 3:13 p.m. CDT


It's damned hard to spin your way out of an out-and-out lie, isn't it Ari?

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Posted by Tom at 1:03 p.m. CDT

HERE'S A FINE COLUMN... 07-07-03

from Frank Rich.

You really should go read it.


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


or is W's"bring it on" taunt looking like a bigger and bigger mistake with every passingminute?

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Posted by Tom at 8:29 a.m. CDT


This gets it just about right.

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Posted by Tom at 7:29 p.m. CDT


I do hope everyone is having as good a time as possible this holiday weekend. I know it's hard for me to let go and have as much fun as I usually do. I just sincerely hope and pray we don't have any more soldiers killed today -- or any day for that matter. As I've said many times, one death is one too many as far as I'm concerned. And we've had more than 200 so far.

I do also share Atrios's skepticism about how the Pentagon suspiciously keeps defining so many of these deaths as not" combat-related." I'd love to be told how that distinction is drawn. For example, a soldier who is shot by a sniper -- is his death not" combat-related?"

I'm sorry folks but it doesn't matter one damned bit to most Americans exactly how they died -- and I can tell you it doesn't matter a damn bit to his family. If we hadn't pursued this damned war, they wouldn't be there at all.

Every one of their deaths is really" combat-related" if you think about it that way. If we hadn't sent them over there for combat purposes, they wouldn't be there and they wouldn't be dying.

Anyway, that's my two cents on that.

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Posted by Tom at 3:10 p.m. CDT


Right here.

Just a bit more to entice you to click over:

Following an afternoon appearance at President Bush's fundraising luncheon in Burlingame, California, and after hitching a ride on Air Force One to host the president's fundraising dinner in Los Angeles, Dennis Miller made his videotaped debut in his regular time slot on Fox News Channel's"Hannity & Combs" program on Friday, June 27. Like the luncheon diners who, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, paid $2,000 a plate for a"$23.95 lunch of grilled chicken on greens with shiitake and couscous salad, along with chocolate sponge cake, with no wine, no bar and not even iced tea," Miller's Fox viewers also got shortchanged.

I can't say for sure but I'm guessing that even Miller's most ardent fans and admirers were embarrassed by his lackluster performance on Fox. And, if I didn't know better, I would swear that co-host Sean Hannity, the hard-hitting know-it-all family, flag and apple pie guy from the far right, seemed a tad uncomfortable with what he had just heard. Heck, even L. Brent Bozell, over at the right-wing Media Research Center might have been embarrassed. (Well, maybe not Bozell.)

Go read it.

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Posted by Tom at 3:01 p.m. CDT


I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Fourth but I'm afraid I can't. I can't help but feel very sorry for our soldiers over in Iraq as the militants keep"bringing it on" as Bush foolishly encouraged them to do. We lost one more today -- and twenty were injured.

And military spouses are very angry. The soldiers and their families were told they'd be home by now. I found this part of this story particularly telling:

But things are becoming more intense, they said. The widening chaos in Iraq means that their husbands will stay longer, and the women do not need a poll to tell them that public opinion is shifting.

"When my husband first deployed, the people at work were so sweet, giving me days off, saying take whatever time I need," recalled Ms. Franklin, who answers telephones at a financial institution near the fort."But it's not like that today. Now they look at me kind of funny and say: `Why do you need a day off now? Isn't the war over?'"

W's foolish photo-op has convinced many Americans this thing is over. However, many are beginning to realize it's not -- and that the administration has gotten us into an expensive long-term occupation with no end in sight.

Yes, yes, I know. If you've been reading this blog, I told you all these things even as long ago as last August but many Americans are apparently just now paying attention.

Regardless, either the administration lied to these soldiers and their families or they were too incompetent to foresee what a mess this war would create in Iraq. Either way, the administration is culpable and I really do think I'm beginning to see the worm turn on American's attitudes toward this administration.

It's too bad it took an immoral and unnecessary war followed by an incompetently-planned post-war reconstruction on top of a horrible economy and an administration that has no idea what to do about it to get their attention, isn't it?

Either way, try to enjoy the Fourth folks -- but remember our soldiers in your prayers and in your commemorations. The war may have been immoral but these poor guys had no choice but to fight in it and are now in a horrible situation in Iraq.

I think Americans are finally starting to get angry about all this.

It's about time.

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Posted by Tom at 1:42 p.m. CDT


Let's see. Could this day go any worse for W?

First of all, the militants in Iraq"brought it" just as W foolishly taunted them to do yesterday.

Unemployment is now at 6.4% -- now that's an eye opener!

And the Rovian distraction for the day is a $25M reward for Saddam.

W has a few more disastrous days like today and he'll definitely be in negative territory in the polls. Heck, he may be in the next couple of weeks.

At that point, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bushies start talking about war with Syria or Iran -- scheduled for election season next year of course.

As always, we'll see of course but I'm sensing a turning point in the offing regarding W's relationship with the American people.

W looks like the incompetent captain of the Titanic right now.

Americans only tolerate bumblers for so long.

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


I'll be out of blogging range tomorrow -- and blogging may be light over the next few days. Of course, traffic should be light because it's a holiday weekend. So be sure and get out and enjoy the holiday, folks!

I'll move back into blogging range sometime tomorrow night.

I'll see you then.

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

THREE WORDS... 07-02-03

that strike fear in the heart of Karl Rove -- and a growing number of Americans these days:"impromptu news conference."

Anyway, you're not going to believe the black-is-white spin put on this outrageous and idiotic challenge to militants in Iraq to kill our soldiers by MSGOP.

If this comment by W goes uncondemned by anyone in the press, today may honestly be the low point in our press's recent rather ignominious history.

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Posted by Tom at 1:37 p.m. CDT


is that he says such stupid things in public:

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House."My answer is bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."
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Posted by Tom at 1:11 p.m. CDT


and other interesting tales of the SCLM right here.

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Posted by Tom at 11:15 a.m. CDT


Diana McWhorter tells us about Strom Thurmond's black daughter.

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Posted by Tom at 11:03 a.m. CDT


Here's Gene's column for the week!

Does Gen. Clark Have the Hunger?

Contrary to last week's column, Gen.Wesley Clark says the Bush White House did not urge him on 9/11 to blame the terrorist attacks upon Saddam Hussein. Clarifying his June 15 remarks on"Meet the Press," Clark phoned to emphasize that he'd gotten calls from persons he knew to be familiar with White House thinking, but no direct contact nor overt pressure. He remains firm, however, in his view that the administration has shown no persuasive evidence that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda ever existed.

Needless to say, Clark declined an opportunity to announce his presidential candidacy to an obscure columnist in a Double-A town. But I wish he'd announce it to somebody, because the nation has rarely needed a man like him so badly. There's no telling how long it would take the United States to recover from eight years of President Junior's unique blend of save-the-millionaires fiscal irresponsibility and his foreign policy of corporate utopianism masquerading as conservatism.

By a man like Gen. Clark, I mean an individual who combines the military virtues of duty, honor, courage and self-discipline with a strong sense of history and respect for democratic values. Also, very frankly, as a symbolic figure whose life history and personal demeanor could help Democrats put the ghosts of Vietnam and Woodstock behind them. Not to mention the undisciplined, priapic part of Bill Clinton's legacy.

Like Clinton, Clark was a brilliant student. A graduate of Little Rock's Hall High, who was first in his class at West Point and a Rhodes Scholar, he went on to become a highly-decorated Vietnam combat veteran and rose to become NATO Supreme Commander, successfully running the NATO campaign in Kosovo. The job required diplomatic and executive skills Bush, for all his political cunning, simply lacks.

Were Clark to run, I think he'd be seen more as a representative of the U.S. Army than as an Arkansan, although being a Southerner obviously wouldn't hurt. The wounds of Vietnam having healed, many Americans see in today's Army, and in figures like Colin Powell, Wesley Clark and Gen. Tommy Franks, an institution that's become more of a genuine meritocracy than the society that sponsors it. No way a back-slapping party animal like Junior gets four stars.

Judging by the calls and e-mails I get from all over, Clark would have an excellent shot at the Democratic nomination. His appearances as an expert military commentator on CNN have won him a following among Democrats and independents who still feel betrayed over the 2000 election, sick of having their patriotism maligned by blowhard country singers, standup comics and Fox News bloviators, and eager to do a little flag waving of their own.

People want to know if he's running, and if he's the real deal.There's even a fellow in Maine who's eager to give Clark advice about his dreadful neckties. (His opinion, not mine. I'm the world's least-qualified necktie expert. OK, maybe Sammy Sosa has worse taste, possibly Jerry Springer.)

In person, I tell them from limited experience, Clark makes a strong impression: guarded but affable, his formidable intelligence and self-confidence always apparent, yet held in reserve. Four star generals are rarely renowned for modesty, but Clark seems to have no need to make himself the center of attention. He listens, and seems to say pretty much what he thinks.

At a July 4th gathering last year, for example, I was surprised to hear Clark express strong reservations about the long term consequences of invading Iraq. Anybody with a passing familiarity with the region's history, and Clark has much more than that, had to worry that overthrowing Iraq's strongman could lead to chaos. But it was Clark's willingness to say so to people he hardly knew that struck me. Many politicians would have been more cautious, particularly with a known newspaper columnist present.>[? Which leads to the question I can't answer. Clark would make a fine president, but would he make a good candidate? For all his charisma and leadership skills, has he got the politician's hunger? Would he be willing to devote the next year and a half of his life to scrounging money, glad-handing strangers and spending more time in airplanes than his own bed? Giving the same stump speech a thousand times?

One caveat: a woman friend says she's been introduced to Clark three times without a flicker of recognition. She's not insulted, merely observant. He meets an awful lot of people. But David Pryor would already have her family history down cold. Bill Clinton would ask about her high school classmates, and wonder how come she wasn't wearing that pretty red dress that buttoned down the front. As one who shares Clark's forgetfulness, I see it as a minor flaw, but it could indicate that the hunger isn't there. We shall see.

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Posted by Tom at 9:33 a.m. CDT


Joe Moran discusses how Americans are using the same tactics as Saddam with regard to torture, lengthy imprisonment without due process, etc. He links to an Amnesty International report on the conditions for Iraqi detainees as well.

Joe's point is well taken and quite on target since, even as we rail against Baathists we are quietly putting them back in power -- even going so far as tocancel elections and appoint Saddam's ex-generals to positions of power in many places.

This raises all sorts of troubling questions about whether we're really improving the lives of Iraq's people at all -- or just providing a new head and legitimacy to, essentially, the old regime. This also makes the"this was all really about oil" argument seem more legitimate with each passing day of chaos in Iraq.

As always, this bears close monitoring, which means we'll have to read the foreign press to find out about this. Our media long ago gave up caring about the situation on the ground in Iraq. As I found out yesterday, they'd rather talk about important things like Oreos instead.

Unfortunately, my guess is that, knowing this administration's short attention span and knack for only doing things halfway, five years from now if Bush is re-elected Iraq will be in worse shape than it was under Saddam and it'll be costing us billions of dollars per month.

Of course I hope not but, given this administration's dismal record in Afghanistan, I see no real reason for optimism.

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Posted by Tom at 8:32 a.m. CDT


The inestimable Roger Ailes points us to this transcript from Hardball last night in which John"guns, guns, everywhere" Lott is advocating teachers being armed, arguing this will make schools safer. Now this is an insane idea but what you've got to check out is this bizarre exchange:

MATTHEWS: It could happen-teacher is at the blackboard chalking up some math lesson, kid runs up real fast, grabs it out of her drawer, he knows it’s there.

LOTT: It’s not going to be in her drawer.

MATTHEWS: Where would it be?

LOTT: It would be on her in some way.

LEAR: How does a teacher in a summer dress carry a gun on her?

LOTT: You can carry it inside your thigh. There’s lot of places you can carry it where somebody is not going to see where it is.

Well now, I guess that's true. However, that certainly didn't occur to me right off. As Roger puts it:

Something tells me John has given this matter a lot of thought.
I concur.

Maybe there is quite a bit more to this Mary Rosh thing after all, huh?

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Posted by Tom at 9:16 p.m. CDT


Bob Scheer has an interesting column in which he argues that California Republicans are willfully ignoring the fact that their boy Bush and his sidekick Cheney are more to blame for California's fiscal crisis than Gray Davis.

It's an interesting column. Go give it a look.

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

THANKS AGAIN! 07-01-03

A short while ago I had my 280,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It's only been five days since I had my 270,000th visitor. I've also had nearly 402,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always, I do appreciate your coming by for a visit! I hope you return -- and often!

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Posted by Tom at 2:58 p.m. CDT

A REQUEST 07-01-03

I'm with Eric Alterman on this one. Two words I try very hard to avoid in the same sentence are"Ann" and"Coulter."

Like Eric, I'm hoping these two links (here and here) will take care of the subject of she-who-shall-not-be-named.

I do enjoy Cohen's column today though. Here's a bit of it:

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind. The evidence for this is her most recent book,"Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said. Coulter conflates dissent with treason, opposition with treason, being wrong with treason, being right with treason and just about anything she doesn't like with treason. If the book were a Rorschach test, she would be institutionalized.


But in a book that rehashes the McCarthy years, the Alger Hiss case, the House Un-American Activities Committee imbroglio, the Hollywood blacklist and everything but"I Love Lucy," Coulter finally heaves herself into the present and the war with Iraq. Mockingly, she excoriates the traitorous New York Times, which she cleverly calls"the Baghdad Times," for having said that there was"no reliable evidence" that"Saddam Hussein is connected to the Sept. 11 attack or to al Qaeda."

She goes on and on in this vein -- actually, she goes on and on in every vein -- dumbly confident as she typed that such a link would be proved. It has not -- and Coulter, as she herself must now recognize, is nothing more than the Bush administration's useful idiot.

Good shot in the last paragraph, eh?

So, um, what's my request, you ask? (That's the title of the post after all.) Well, now I know you guys love to send me e-mail -- and I love to read it. Honestly, I do.

However, please, please, please, PLEASE do not send me Ann Coulter's columns to fact-check historically. There are a few of you who do that from time to time and I've been meaning to say something about it. Honestly folks I can't make it through more than a couple of sentences before my blood pressure is sky-high and I'm ranting (a lot like Ann does when she's on the telly) about how she's distorted something or made some outrageous allegation.

Folks, I am the last person who should be called upon to be Ms. Voldemort's fact-checker. I leave that job to others. I avoid her like the plague. I can't make it through one of her evidence-free screeds passing as a column and I'd rather remove my fingernails slowly with pliars than read one of her"packed with phony footnotes" books.

I apologize folks. I just had to get that off my chest. I am happy to report that I did take my blood pressure medication this morning -- fortunately.

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


Several news services are reporting that four U.S. soldiers have been killed in a single attack in Baghdad. It sounds quite horrific and further evidence that Iraq is becoming quite unstable.

However, the Pentagon, interestingly enough, is refusing to confirm this. Who is telling the truth here? Surely the administration isn't about to start lying about casualties are they? I mean, heck, they lie about everything else but surely they can't keep this sort of thing under wraps, right?

Meanwhile, the talking idiots on CNN are wrapping up an important report about Oreos!

You've got to be kidding me!

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


and I threw it away in disgust. I can't believe people would actually accept $4,000 to adopt a textbook. As one of the students in this Chronicle article said,"That's a bribe." Exactly.

In fact, I would argue making any money off your students based on what book you use in class is unethical -- but that's just my opinion of course.

[Link via Invisible Adjunct and Mark Kleiman]

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Posted by Tom at 10:33 a.m. CDT


This lie by W is pathetic.

W's trying to blame the recession on Bill Clinton. He's now disagreeing with people in his own administration, trying to say he"inherited" an economy in recession. Nice try, sparky but it started a couple of months after you were anointed by the supremes.

As Atrios would put it, when all elses fails, blame the Clenis (Clinton's Penis)! It's their answer to everything.

W has no real economic growth or jobs plan of his own beyond giving bigger tax cuts to his already-rich campaign contributors so it's time to blame Clinton once again.

As I said, pathetic.

Surely Americans will see right through this charade, right?

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Posted by Tom at 9:18 a.m. CDT


Boy, you ought to get a load of this poll that the folks over at eRiposte just sent me. So 75% of Americans say it would matter to them if W lied to us about WMDs? You'll also notice that only 56% of Americans now say it was worth it to go to war with Iraq and 42% say it was not worth it.

Hmmm. Is this the beginning of the aforementioned public opinion turnaround on the war?

As always, we shall see, won't we?

Also, while you're over at eRiposte, be sure to read the latest Tom Tomorrow he's got up over there. It's hilarious.

Update:Here's an excellent post by Billmon crunching those poll numbers a bit further.

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

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