Spencer Blog Archives 8-03

Spencer Blog Archives

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KEVIN SAYS 08-31-03

I know this is beating a dead horse, but what on earth are the Bushies thinking? They started a war no one else wanted, they treated anyone opposed to the war as virtual traitors to humanity, and they are still insisting that America needs to be 100% in charge of everything that goes on in Iraq.

But despite all that they're"puzzled" about how to get the rest of the world to pony up to help us out of our mess? Even though the rest of the world warned us repeatedly about the likely result of our adventure? What planet are they living on?

For chrissake, we told the rest of the world to go to hell before the war, and they haven't forgotten. They aren't going to bail us out unless we give them considerable authority over the reconstruction effort, and they might not help us even if we do. We're on our own.

The Bush administration has been incompetent and arrogant throughout this entire effort. Their prewar conduct was seemingly designed to make sure the rest of the world was against us, they were criminally negligent in their postwar planning, and George Bush personally has shown immense cowardice by consistently refusing to prepare Congress and the American public for the real cost and length of the war. He's paying the price for that cowardice now, as he watches support for the reconstruction dwindle because its expense, length, and cost in lives is taking most people by surprise.

It's pretty obvious why liberals should oppose George Bush's reelection, but the fact is that conservatives ought to oppose him too. His incompetence and cowardice has betrayed the very things they claim to stand for.


Posted by Tom at 5:41 p.m. CDTComment


Riverbend tells us.

Haven't we improved the life of the average Iraqi?

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


Maureen Dowd hits the nail on the head in tomorrow's column:

It has also now become radiantly clear that we have to drag Dick Cheney out of the dark and smog. Less Hobbes, more Locke.

So far, American foreign policy has been guided by the vice president's gloomy theories that fear and force are the best motivators in the world, that war is man's natural state and that the last great superpower has sovereign authority to do as it pleases without much consultation with subjects or other nations.

We can now see the disturbing results of all the decisions Mr. Cheney made in secret meetings.

The General Accounting Office issued a report last week noting that the vice president shaped our energy policy with clandestine advice from"petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists."

Favoritism to energy pals led to last week's insane decision to gut part of the Clean Air Act and allow power plants, refineries and other industrial sites to belch pollutants.

Another Bush-Cheney energy crony is Anthony Alexander of Ohio's FirstEnergy Corporation, which helped trigger the blackout after failing to upgrade its transmission system properly since deregulation. He was a Bush Pioneer, having raised at least $100,000 for the campaign.

This logrolling attitude has led to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing Halliburton — which made Mr. Cheney a rich man with $20 million worth of cashed-in stock — to get no-bid contracts in Iraq totaling $1.7 billion, and that's just a start.

All this, and high gas prices, too?


Posted by Tom at 10:11 p.m. CDTComment


You should read this interesting profile of Rupert Murdoch in The Atlantic.

I'm not sure I agree that we're heading back to having an openly partisan press like existed before Joseph Pulitzer in the Gilded Age but it's certainly an interesting -- and frightening -- idea to ponder.

It would at least make Faux admits it is not really a news channel but the GOP's agitprop network. The folks at Faux could therefore drop the outlandish charade of pretending to be"fair and balanced."

Posted by Tom at 3:03 p.m. CDTComment


Atrios points us to this column by John W. Dean which contains the following bombshell:

Then this August's Report was issued. It was not the thorough, comprehensive Report GAO wanted it to be. (Indeed, GAO's Comptroller General has stressed that"the Vice President's persistent denial of access to" records"precluded GAO from fully achieving our objectives and substantially limited our analysis.") But it is enough to shock, and disturb, the reader.

The Report shows that Cheney's claim to Congress, in the August 2, 2001 letter, that responsive documents were provided to GAO, was plainly false.

According to the Report, Cheney provided GAO with 77 pages of"documents retrieved from the files of the Office of the Vice President responsive to" GAO's inquiry regarding the Energy Task Force's"receipt, disbursement, and use of public funds."

To any lawyer, a mere 77-page document production seems suspiciously slim - especially when it is meant to represent information from a group of people on a fairly broad topic. Surely there were more documents that were not turned over.

Moreover, it turned out, as the Report reveals, that the documents that were turned over were useless:"The materials were virtually impossible to analyze, as they consisted, for example, of pages with dollar amounts but no indication of the nature or purpose of the expenditure." They were further described as"predominantly reimbursement requests, assorted telephone bills and random items, such as the executive director's credit card receipt for pizza."

In sum, the incomplete document production was not only nonresponsive - it was insulting. So the GAO pressed for responsive documents numerous times in different ways: letters, telephone exchanges and meetings.

Perhaps the most pointed of these was a July 18, 2001 letter from the Comptroller to the Vice President. It noted that GAO had"been given 77 pages of miscellaneous records purporting to relate to these direct and indirect costs. Because the relevance of these records is unclear, we continue to request all records responsive to our request, including any records that clarify the nature and purpose of the costs." (Emphasis added.)


Despite receiving this letter, Cheney still claimed to Congress, a few weeks later, on August 2, that responsive documents had been produced.

Of course, Cheney is a busy man. Yet there can be no question as to whether he was aware of the July 18, 2001 letter from the Comptroller complaining about the 77 pages of documents' being unresponsive: He even attached it to his own August 2 letter to Congress, as part of a chronology. And again, he personally signed that August 2 letter.

Nor can there be any question that Cheney knows what it means to produce responsive documents - and not to do so. In the same paragraph of the August 2 letter in which he claims he was responsive to the Energy Task Force request, he makes a lesser claim with respect to another GAO request - stating that there, he had merely"provided substantial responses." (Emphasis added.)

Plainly, Cheney knows the difference between being responsive; offering a substantial response; and sending insulting non-responsive materials, featuring unexplained phone bills, columns of unidentified figures, and a pizza receipt.

Thus, Cheney's claim to have produced responsive documents was a false statement and, all evidence suggests, an intentional one. That means it is also a criminal offense - a false statement to Congress. (In a previous column, I discussed the false statements statute and its application.)

So now the Vice President has intentionally lied to Congress. Now there's some honor and dignity, huh?

But does anybody in the SCLM care?

What do you think?

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


Perhaps the only hope lies in the story going around town that President Bush has told the Pentagon he wants"no more American dead" after next March. By then, the electoral campaign will be well under way, and perhaps zealotry will give way to reality--or at least to a change in administration.
That's just breathtakingly outrageous, isn't it?

W doesn't give a damn about the deaths of American soldiers -- until it gets in the way of his re-elect, er, um, election of course.

Read the rest of Geyer's column too. It's pretty interesting.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 4:25 p.m. CDTComment

NEW LINKS 08-29-03

I'm adding Iraqi blogger Riverbend to the blogroll. It's a very interesting read. Along with Dear Raed, there are now two Iraqi bloggers on my blogroll. Their blogs provide needed perspective in these troubling times.

For similar reasons, I'm also adding the website of Iraq Today, an independent English newspaper in Iraq, to the news sources links section as well.

I think it's a good idea to read about the situation in Iraq from Iraqis themselves, instead of from the all-too-familiar apologists in the U.S. media.

Posted by Tom at 11:36 a.m. CDTComment

ME TOO 08-29-03

Fellow bloggers -- go read Nitpicker and do what I just did: volunteer to represent the lefty blogosphere on O'Reilly!

It's fun, educational, and you don't have to worry about him ever taking you up on it because, as Terry puts it:

The thing is, O'Reilly, you bitch about us attacking you, so let us explain ourselves. If you don't, you're the worst kind of man: A powerful coward.

Update: Oh yeah. Speaking of O'Reilly, you really ought to read this hilarious column (Terry links to it too) as well.

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


Paul Krugman tells us we're more than a bit overextended -- both militarily and fiscally.

Read the whole thing. However, his summation is dead-on:

Still, even the government of a superpower can't simultaneously offer tax cuts equal to 15 percent of revenue, provide all its retirees with prescription drugs and single-handedly take on the world's evildoers — single-handedly because we've alienated our allies. In fact, given the size of our budget deficit, it's not clear that we can afford to do even one of these things. Someday, when the grown-ups are back in charge, they'll have quite a mess to clean up.
A mess indeed.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 a.m. CDTComment


If you want to read the damning EPA Inspector General report about how the White House directly influenced the EPA to lie about the air quality at Ground Zero, go here. Be sure to read the rather eye-opening charts in Chapter 2 (starting on page 14).

The White House's Council on Environmental Quality essentially scrubbed the press releases to make sure they didn't perhaps frighten anyone:

Coordination and collaboration impacted the completeness of the information and the substance of the message EPA communicated to the public through its press releases. As a result of the White House CEQ’s influence, guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and information about the potential health effects from WTC debris were not included in EPA’s issued press releases. In addition, based on CEQ’s influence, reassuring information was added to at least one press release and cautionary information was deleted from EPA’s draft version of that press release.
When it became clear that they were caught lying to the public, suddenly no one at the EPA even would own up to writing the press releases -- and even suggested the White House wrote them:

We were unable to identify any EPA official who claimed ownership of EPA’s WTC press releases issued in September and early October 2001. When we asked the EPA Chief of Staff whether she could claim ownership of EPA’s early WTC press releases, she replied that she was not able to do so “because the ownership was joint ownership between EPA and the White House,” and that “final approval came from the White House.” She also told us that other considerations, such as the desire to reopen Wall Street and national security concerns, were considered when preparing EPA’s early press releases. The OCEMR Associate Administrator said of the September 16 release: “I did not feel like it was my press release.”
I know this is becoming tiresome, but what do you think we'd be hearing if this were a Democratic administration that did this?

As Marie Cocco revealed in her column today, predictably, the White House still won't own up to doing this:

The EPA and White House reject the report's findings."They weren't rewritten by the White House at all," acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko said in an interview.

How to explain why the inspector general devoted almost an entire chapter to the political editing? It is illustrated with charts. They line up the EPA's cautious words alongside the White House happy talk.

We will likely get no real answers about why this happened, nor assurances it won't happen again. As with so much else, this administration just doesn't think we deserve them.

Isn't it good that W and the boys take responsibility for their actions?

Gee, that's pretty sleazy, huh?

Posted by Tom at 10:18 p.m. CDTComment


How would you feel about the leader of another country that demanded that an embarrassing scene involving one of his employees be cut from an American television program? You'd think he was an idiot who should just deal with it, wouldn't you?

Well, that's what W just did -- and the supposedly snotty French actually complied.

Gee, we're getting a bit thin-skinned over at the White House these days, aren't we?

I agree with Atrios who wonders aloud:"Doesn't the White House have anything better to do?"


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


Indeed, the war is going so well that now liberals have to create absurd straw-man arguments no one ever uttered in order to accuse the Bush administration of horrible miscalculations. Amid her sneering, PMS-induced anger toward the Bush administration, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed the Bush administration was"shaken" to discover"the terrible truth: Just because we got Odai and Qusai, Iraqi militants are not going to stop blowing up Westerners." I'd love to see the quote where anyone in the Bush administration – anyone in the universe – said that.
Oh yeah. This war is going really well, isn't it? Look at those numbers to the upper right if you want to know how"well" things are going in Iraq. Two more brave young men died today not that Ann apparently gives a damn because things are going"so well."

And actually it was quite common on the day of the death of Saddam's sons for folks in the media to say that there were hopes that this would lead to peace in Iraq. Apparently, they really did get this line from the administration or, in the case of this story from folks in the military.

Boy, what universe does Ann Coulter live in?

You can read the rest of the column of lunatic ravings if you want by following the link.

[Link via TBogg]

Posted by Tom at 10:55 a.m. CDTComment


You've got to be frigging kidding me:

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent"double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official."Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us."

Oh, now come on! Either you lied to us (given the fact every major claim they made they had been warned against by the intelligence community, this seems the most likely at this point) or you were simply wrong about it.

But, for goodness sakes, don't be pathetic enough to try to blame this on Saddam's"double agent" defectors!

These guys really just don't take responsibility for a single damned thing, do they?

But the most interesting thing in this article is that it's very apparent that David Kay won't be able to produce the promised"September surprise" of WMDs in Iraq:

Evidence recently found by survey teams in Iraq includes detailed schedules, outlines and instruction sheets, among other documents, indicating covert plans to purchase and install"dual use" equipment in civilian laboratories and factories that could be quickly converted to military use if an order were suddenly issued.

"We've got a whole lot of documents that would substantiate a 'just in time' capability," said one of the recently returned survey team members."They set up dual-use facilities so they could cook up what they needed, when they needed it. But otherwise they would be making whiter-than-white washing detergent or something."

In addition, some Iraqi scientists and technicians have claimed during interrogation that chemical and biological agents were produced under the"just in time" system as recently as 2002. But other Iraqis have said the system was never used or only produced small"test batches" in the mid- to late 1990s.


Another former survey team member said the evidence of a"just in time" program justifies the prewar concerns, even if the program was never activated.

"To me, there's no difference between finding a warehouse full of aerial bombs with nerve gas and a pencil-and-paper plan that will allow them to use their existing production capabilities to produce those same weapons in one week's time," he said.

But wait, that's not what the president said was going on back in January as Jay Rockefeller points out later on:

"I remain cautious about whether we're going to find actual WMD," said Sen. John D."Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee."Not just a program, but the very extensive weapons — ready for attack — that we all were told existed."

Rockefeller said he was" concerned" that the weapons hunters had not found"the 25,000 liters of anthrax, the 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and the 500 tons of mustard, sarin and VX nerve gas" that Bush cited in his State of the Union speech in January.

If this is all Kay has found, he's not going to be saving W's rear end any time soon. Since the intelligence community warned W and the administration about the veracity of EVERY ONE of their major pre-war claims, Americans now know that the administration exaggerated intelligence or outright lied to them in order to convince them to support the fool's errand in Iraq.

And it's now going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, cause unbelievable budget deficits and be a major strain on the U.S. economy for a decade or more.

And let's not even talk about what it's doing to the people in Iraq. I said before the war and afterward that I suspected this war wouldn't improve the life for the average Iraqi one bit and might even make it worse.

We've certainly seen that little prediction come true, haven't we?

Of course the most fascinating thing here is our shifting justifications for the war. We have a new one every day. And this"goal post moving" on WMDs is transparent to anyone who heard any of W's pre-war speeches.

Honestly folks, how anyone can still support this administration after all of this mendacity is really beyond me. They've been a complete, total, and utter disaster on nearly every front so far.

Why don't we all just wise up and at least be smart enought not to give them four more years?


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


I wonder if Al Franken is going to countersue?

I remind you that the judge could still impose sanctions on Faux for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Wouldn't that be absolutely perfect?

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


Oh, can you imagine what Republicans would say if Arnie were a Democrat?

He'd be unfit for office and the lowest sort of human being who should never, ever, ever, hold office anywhere at any time.

"This is an example of the low morals and ethics of Democrats I'm afraid," Tom DeLay would be telling us on every talkshow today. He might even go on some of them twice.

And before you say this is ancient history, think about when the pseudo-scandal Whitewater was rumored to have taken place (it was bogus but that's another issue right now).

Yep it was around the same time -- so don't try that one Republicans.

Now, once again, I don't really care what Arnie did in the 70s but if he were a Democrat there would be an entirely different media approach and it would be an enormous scandal that would probably end with Arnie pulling out of the race.

I just thought I should point this little bit of hypocrisy out.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 7:43 p.m. CDTComment


"Get your hands off our God, God haters!" yelled the wildly gesturing, red-faced man.
This genius, presumably in favor of the Ten Commandments, just violated the First and Second Commandment.

[Link via Nitpicker, who suggests God is desperately trying to disassociate himself from these folks]

Posted by Tom at 12:54 p.m. CDTComment


Digby points out how W made us the flypaper yesterday:

Wow. I thought that the wingnuts playing the Wurlitzer might say something like this, but it’s pretty damned provocative coming from the President.

If he meant that we were fighting terrorism abroad so that someday Americans will no longer have to fear terrorism at home, then his speech writers worded it very badly. Because this could easily be read as another version of “Bring ‘Em On,” only instead of daring Iraqis to kill American soldiers in Iraq; he’s daring terrorists to kill American citizens in America.

That isn’t flypaper. He’s not saying that we’ve drawn the terrorists all to the same place so we can kill them more efficiently. It’s taunting the bull.

Imagine you are bin Laden or some other terrorist nutball and the President of the United States says that by attacking Afghanistan and Iraq he’s keeping you from attacking the US. You’re a loser. You are so weak that as long as we" confront" you abroad you can't commit violence in New York, St. Louis or Los Angeles.

It’s very disconcerting to have to rely on Osama bin Laden and a bunch of fundamentalist holy warriors to be restrained and sophisticated enough to recognize that the President of the United States is just trash talking. It would be extremely unfortunate if terrorists took his statement as a dare to prove him wrong.

You know, I really did think this"flypaper" insanity was just coming from the sycophantic righty loons who will say anything in defense of W, but now that it's jumped directly into the president's mouth, I'm pretty astonished. It was a stupid idea before, it doesn't look any more intelligent when it becomes an official policy.

And, like Digby, the first thing that jumped to my mind when I heard that was"W, you idiot, you just dared them to come over here and attack us!"

We really do need to do everything we can to defeat this guy in 2004, don't we?

I shudder to think what could happen if he continues to royally screw things up through 2008.

Posted by Tom at 10:39 a.m. CDTComment

THE SCLM 08-27-03

300 bigots and lunatics protesting around a carved rock, worthy of nonstop coverage. 100,000 people protesting a war, worthy of brief snide commentary.
Posted by Tom at 10:24 a.m. CDTComment


Here's Gene Lyons's latest column:

The Worst President of Our Lives

Nothing more unites Democrats heading into a presidential election than determination to defeat George W. Bush. Almost regardless of age, most see him as the worst president of their lives. Retiring South Carolina Sen. Ernest"Fritz" Hollings put it this way:"I can tell you this categorically, we've got the weakest president...in the history of my 50 years of public service. I say weak president in that the poor boy campaigns all the time and pays no attention to what's going on in the Congress. Karl Rove tells him to do this or do that or whatever it is, but he's out campaigning."

Bush's sheer incompetence is impossible to overstate. The bad news and the lies just keep on coming. Yesterday, we learned that the U.S. budget deficit will reach a record $480 billion for this fiscal year. 2001 Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerloff told the German magazine Der Spiegel"this is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history." He described Bush's save-the-rich tax cuts as"is a form of looting" that will bankrupt the treasury. It was also recently revealed that the White House pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to suppress findings of deadly toxins in the atmosphere in lower Manhattan after 9/11 for fear public warnings would damage the economy. Between dollars and lives, Bush chose the bottom line.

In Iraq, there have now been more American soldiers killed since Bush's theatrical aircraft carrier landing off San Diego than before he announced the end of combat. More than two dozen have died since the president left Washington to spend time roping and branding golf carts on his Texas ranch earlier this month.

Oh, and remember that deadly fleet of unmanned airplanes the Bush administration warned us Saddam Hussein was fixing to launch at the United States unless we invaded Iraq? Upon further review, as they say during NFL games, Air Force intelligence experts have decided they were harmless reconnaissance drones after all.

Determination aside, however, so far Democrats appear to lack a candidate who seems a good bet to win. Of the nine men and women running for the nomination, several--Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Mosely-Braun--have no chance whatsoever of securing the nomination. Despite high name-recognition, Sen. Joe Lieberman is going nowhere; I've heard passionate Democrats say they might sit out a Bush-Lieberman contest.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards once appeared to have the requisite charisma, but voters seem to think he lacks gravitas, to use the cliché of the moment. Whatever the reason, he's not catching on. Rep. Dick Gephardt has run before without getting anywhere, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts--another candidate who appeared to have everything going for him, including Vietnam heroism--impresses people with his intelligence, toughness and thoughtfulness, but has difficulty getting them to relate to him personally."Cold" and"aloof" are the words you hear most often. Even if that just means"tall Yankee," it's a problem.

Which brings us to the short Yankee in the race, Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. By all accounts, Dean appears the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. Dean's brainy, quick-witted, aggressive, well-organized, a good fund-raiser, has a cadre of passionate supporters and as impressive a track record as it's possible to have running a tiny, rural, state like Vermont. Pundits have been underestimating his insurgent appeal almost as badly as they've been overestimating Bush's fabulous popularity. Show me a state Bush lost to Gore in 2000 that he's a cinch to win in 2004. See what I mean?

The worse things get in Iraq, moreover, the better Dean's outspoken anti-war views could end up looking. But the problems with a Dean candidacy begin when you start trying to name states Gore lost that the Vermonter looks likely to win. OK, maybe New Hampshire. Even so, many Democrats can't get past the suspicion that Dean can't compete in the South or the Midwest farm belt and would end up a virtuous, albeit spirited, loser.

Maybe that's why, as Amy Sullivan points out in the September Washington Monthly (here) the number of undecided Democratic voters has actually been rising in recent months, and why, as she argues persuasively, there's still time for Gen. Wesley Clark to win the nomination.

"Arguably," she writes"Clark matches each of the strengths of the current crop of contenders, and then raises them one. His Army background-stretching from Vietnam to Kosovo-out-oomphs Kerry's military record. His service as commander of NATO forces compares favorably to Dean's executive experience as governor of a small New England state. He adds gravitas to Edwards's aesthetic appeal, charisma to Lieberman's thoughtfulness, and sincerity to Gephardt's liberal policies."

If Clark runs, he can win. And unlike Bush, if he wins, he can govern.

Posted by Tom at 8:53 a.m. CDTComment


You've got to read this review from the Village Voice of the upcoming hilariously over-the-top and inaccurate telemovie of Bush on 9/11, DC 9/11.

As long as there are parents and children in this world, people will yearn for the illusion of a wise, selfless, divinely inspired leader. As expressed in DC 9/11, this desire is far less complex than the bizarre wish-fulfillment provided by The West Wing—unless a political miracle occurs and that fantasy materializes with the election of Howard Dean. Both these presidential soap operas offer utopian visions of political leadership. But unlike The West Wing, DC 9/11 gumps a fictionalized hero into real catastrophe to create the myth of a defining moment, and stake its claim on historical truth.

Posted by Tom at 8:49 a.m. CDTComment


Terry over Nitpicker points out that's exactly Oliver North was knowingly doing about twenty years ago.

And why is this guy on a talk show tonight? Shouldn't North be, well, somewhere else entirely?

Hey, Insty and other like-minded conserva-tarians, shouldn't people like Oliver North be shunned? I mean this guy really did aid terrorists after all -- or is this sort of treatment reserved these days only for Democrats who opposed on principle a war that was based upon multiple layers of lies by a Republican president?

Am I detecting a wee bit of a double-standard here?

Posted by Tom at 10:29 p.m. CDTComment


Hesiod discovers that Paul Zahn doesn't know the difference between David Brooks and David Brock.

That's impressive, isn't it?

And she's just the sort of ignoramus that is made an anchor these days.

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



How horrible.

My son is eight years old.

Posted by Tom at 10:55 a.m. CDTComment


Mark Kleiman gives us an update on the Wilson-Plame scandal -- and this one's a bombshell. According to Wilson, the aggravated felon is Karl Rove himself. It wouldn't surprise me but getting Rove to admit it may be the hard part.

You can watch the video here.

I'm with Mark on this one. If Wilson has dropped this bombshell without knowing for sure it was Rove, he has damaged his credibility and it was a very bad idea.

It does seem like the question for Rove is rather simple:"Mr. Rove, did you talk to Robert Novak around the time of that column? If so, did you talk about Joseph Wilson's wife?"

All right"professional" journalists, have at it. One of you needs to ask Rove this question.

I'm not holding my breath.

So, let's see, Cheney has apparently obstructed an investigation and Rove may have outted a CIA agent.

Boy, W sure has surrounded himself with some great guys, huh?

This administration looks more like Nixon's every day, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:02 a.m. CDTComment


You should read Krugman's column this morning.

I do hope New Yorkers will remember how this administration really didn't give a damn about their health in the wake of 9/11. New Yorkers should, therefore, give the GOP the proper warm reception in September of next year for their national convention.

If W is in serious political trouble by then (which seems more likely every day), having the convention in New York City may be one of the more colossal mistakes made by a party in American political history.

It could be as bad as when Democrats in 1968 thought Chicago would be a great place for a convention or, worse yet, when Democrats thought Charleston would provide a great kick off to the 1860 campaign.

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

CAN YOU IMAGINE... 08-25-03

what we'd be hearing from Republicans if this had happened in response to a GAO probe of President Al Gore's administration?

They'd still be wiping up Tom DeLay's slobber off the Faux Newsroom floor.

According to congressional Republicans, this would be the worst thing ever to happen in American history, wouldn't it?

Remember when people got really upset over things like this? You know, back before this administration proved itself to be absolutely morally bankrupt and took us into a war based on lie after lie after lie?

Therefore, this sort of stuff just seems pretty minor now.

That's not a good sign, is it?

Posted by Tom at 10:43 p.m. CDTComment


That's not exactly a surprise but it takes a lot of moxie to take the legal butt-kicking they just took and still say this:

"It's time to return Al Franken to the obscurity that he's normally accustomed to," Fox News spokeswoman Irena Steffen said.
I'll bet Al's book outsells O'Reilly's next book -- and he'll do it without any rich Republican sugar daddy (Mellon-Scaife) buying a few hundred thousand copies.

Posted by Tom at 6:11 p.m. CDTComment


Why, just the sort of neo-confederate bigots the Republicans repudiated back in December during the Trent Lott controversy!

So much for mainstream Republicans no longer appealing to such folks, huh?

Do you think anyone in our media is smart or honest enough to make this point?

I doubt it.

Posted by Tom at 6:07 p.m. CDTComment


by the Horse for a new slogan for Faux News:

There's lots of other good stuff over at the Horse. Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 4:29 p.m. CDTComment


Hesiod points out yet another example of our, ahem, inadequate planning for this war. Soldiers are being required to use Iraqi AK-47s instead of their own rifles because we didn't issue them enough of them.

Let me add my voice to numerous others. I'm sorry to hear about this TBogg. I hope your father gets better soon. Keep us posted when you have the time.

This story is pretty interesting. Of course I'm for Freedom of Speech but I can't help but think that a deck of cards produced by Marines criticizing W, Cheney, and Rumsfeld for lying us into this war would've been prohibited immediately.

I wonder how these guys will feel about all of this in a few months when a few hundred more of their colleagues have been killed. We'll see I guess.

Kevin asks an excellent question over at CalPundit: what is W thinking in approaching postwar Iraq this way? I don't know either. Does anyone? Or is the answer rather simple like it is on most things I'm afraid: he isn't.

Atrios points us to this Eric Alterman column from November of last year, reminding us that it's not only the administration that is to blame for the Iraq fiasco, it's the media as well. The media failed utterly to do its job in the months before the war, particularly the cable television media which damn-near led war cheers in their broadcasts.

There was plenty of evidence this war was an astonishing oversell long before the war took place -- go back and read my blog for months before the war. However, the flag-waving folks at MSNBC and CNN couldn't be bothered to seriously look into it. In one of the most obvious moments of media foolishness, when W said the largest anti-war demonstrations in world history were just minor"focus groups" that he didn't need to pay attention to, they just reported his words and went on to the next story.

Does the media have blood on its hands as Alterman and Atrios say?


Posted by Tom at 10:02 a.m. CDTComment


It took a little hunting but here it is:

Isn't it hilarious that W and the boys ever claimed that rickety model airplane was a threat?

Posted by Tom at 9:54 p.m. CDTComment


This one is about those"scary" drones the Iraqis supposedly had. You'll note that, once again, actual intelligence experts in the area tried to tell them this was bogus and, once again, they ignored these experts in an attempt to scare people into supporting the war.

There's really not much left of their case for war, is there?

Posted by Tom at 5:43 p.m. CDTComment


So, are we going to see round-the-clock coverage of Bustamante now?

I'm not a political expert or anything but if Arnie's not ahead now, I'm really not sure he's ever going to be. If this is a beauty contest, you have to be beautiful right out of the gate because it's only downhill from there.

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


Great Krugman column yesterday -- go read it. It chronicles how Arnie thinks he should be treated like W or something and not be held accountable for his statements and bluff his way through the election on fiscal policy.

I do think it's interesting that the polls are now showing Californians absolutely evenly divided on recalling Davis. Wouldn't it be hilarious if California goes through this charade and Davis isn't recalled? That would be just what the Republicans in California deserve of course.

I've been busy the last couple of days so I'm just now catching up on my regular reading. That job of mine has sort of gotten in the way of my blogging this week.

Sorry about that.

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

"GET OVER IT?" 08-23-03

I've just gotten finished reading David Ignatius's column from yesterday in which he tells us anti-war folks we should just"get over it" and support the president. After all, it's just too important to reconstruct Iraq. I've also been reading Josh Marshall who has linked to Ignatius's column and enthusiastically endorsed it, even quoting Abraham Lincoln in his post.

In response to this, I find myself thinking a couple of things. First of all, of course everyone should support the reconstruction of Iraq. To allow the country to collapse into chaos (you know, the current administration approach) only makes the entire world less safe, not to mention our soldiers over there who are in a hellish situation. Ignatius also joins the chorus of columnists over the last few days suggesting we need more international assistance in Iraq and that, therefore, the administration is going to have to"get over it" as well. W and the boys are going to have to seek help from other countries who have been proven absolutely right over the last few months with regard to the fool's errand that was the war with Iraq. I think Ignatius is right there too.

But I get pretty annoyed these days when I read lines like this:

This time the international community should work to get it right. The world is much sadder than a few months ago, and hopefully a bit wiser, too.
In the months prior to the war, how did the international community"get it wrong?" We're the ones who"got it wrong" buddy in seeking war with Iraq.

I can't believe for Ignatius I have to review such recent history but here goes. In the weeks prior to the war, there were inspectors in Iraq. There was significant U.N. pressure being applied to Saddam Hussein's government, which was destroying weapons and cooperating grudgingly with inspectors. Now I'm as suspicious as the next guy. I thought he was probably hiding something (apparently not but that's another topic) but I thought inspectors were the best approach back in February and March. In my opinion, it was the international community that"got it right" in the first place. If you recall, most Americans thought continued inspections were the best approach back in February.

In response to these rather reasonable criticisms, all we kept hearing from the administration was how this simply wasn't enough, they were hiding things and we had to go in a"disarm" Saddam right now and that's exactly what we did -- world opinion, reasonable criticisms, logic, evidence, morality, ethics, all that be damned.

I like Busy, Busy, Busy's pithy distillation of Ignatius's column,"Shorter David Ignatius":

Those who counseled against the disastrous invasion of Iraq should forgo assigning blame for the debacle in favor of rallying to the support of those who caused it.
Ignatius is just one in a long line of"useful idiots" for this administration. You know, one of the folks who try to convince us to overlook W's innumerable and major flaws for the"greater good" that we'll somehow get out of it. The terrible thing is that no matter what happens, these guys will proclaim it a success and use it in the most cynical political fashion possible against their opponents next year.

I also can't help but think that those of us who were against this war have been proven exactly right about its aftermath and deserve a little credit, not being told to shut up. Just about everything I said was a major concern before the war has turned out to be dead-on accurate.

Unfortunately, because we have no choice but live with this fraud as president for a couple of more years and because I want the best for our soldiers, the Iraqi people, and the world, I hope for success in Iraq. I didn't want this war because I didn't want our soldiers to be in precisely the situation they're in now.

However, in no way does that mean I"support" W or that I will"unite" with the folks in this administration regarding their extremely misguided foreign policy. They have proved themselves to be untruthful, incompetent, and they have dragged this country's name through the mud over the last three years. By pursuing the War in Iraq they have made what is one of the biggest mistakes in American foreign policy history. And they had to tell lie after lie to get grudging public support for it.

A president that makes such astonishing mistakes and lies to us in order to build support for a war doesn't deserve our support, only our condemnation.

Posted by Tom at 10:22 a.m. CDTComment


It really isn't White House press secretary Scott McClellan's fault that his father is a right-wing loon -- although it is fair game to point it out I guess.

LBJ killed JFK, huh? Right. I feel sorry for Scott McClellan actually.

And, speaking of loony, check out this bizarre post by Insty.

McClellan's dad clearly isn't the only one who is a bit out there, huh?

Tin foil hats, anyone?

[Links via Atrios]

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


"There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, who added that the motion for an injunction was"wholly without merit."

He said it is highly unlikely that consumers would be misled to think that Fox is sponsoring the book. He also said the trademark is weak.

[Link via Roger Ailes -- no, not the moron who filed this ridiculous and frivolous lawsuit]

Here's more:

"Parody is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. The keystone to parody is imitation. Mr. Franken is clearly mocking Fox," said Chin.

The judge said he thought it ironic that a media company that should be fighting to protect free speech would seek to undermine the First Amendment. He also said he thought the"fair and balanced" trademark is weak because the phrase is used so often.


Fox argued in its suit that the cover's tag line,"A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right," was used to confuse consumers.

During arguments held before his ruling, Chin asked Fox lawyer Dorie Hansworth if she really believed that the cover was confusing.

"To me, it's quite ambiguous as to what the message is," she said."It's a deadly serious cover ... This is much too subtle to be considered a parody."

Floyd Abrams, a lawyer representing Penguin and Franken, strongly disagreed.

"There is no way that any person not completely dense would be confused by this cover to think that Fox was accusing O'Reilly of being a liar," he said.

Chin, siding with Abrams, pointed out that the word"Lies" in the title is printed in large red letters next to a photo of O'Reilly. He said that there was no likelihood that book buyers would think that the sponsor is Fox or O'Reilly.

So, in short, Faux lost about as badly as they could've lost. Of course, as a shameless GOP agitprop service masquerading as a news channel, they certainly deserved to lose like that.

"Fair and Balanced" my, er, hind foot.

Posted by Tom at 7:01 p.m. CDTComment


E.J. Dionne writes a column today that sounds a lot like Bob Herbert's column yesterday.

I agree totally. We need international cooperation and we need it right the hell now.

This unholy mess is what unilateralism gets you folks.

W and the boys need to swallow their pride (er, arrogance actually) and ask for help.

It'll never happen, will it?

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


You should read Gail Sheehy's moving article about the four 9/11 moms against the administration. These women are heroes and are singlehandedly responsible for the 9/11 commission (which, like every 9/11 investigation, is currently being stonewalled by the administration).

This article also raises all of the usual questions about inconsistencies in the administration's version of events on 9/11. Conason even goes so far to suggest something sinister:

So afraid is the Bush administration of what could be revealed by inquiries into its failures to protect Americans from terrorist attack, it is unabashedly using Kremlin tactics to muzzle members of Congress and thwart the current federal commission investigating the failures of Sept. 11. But there is at least one force that the administration cannot scare off or shut up. They call themselves"Just Four Moms from New Jersey," or simply"the girls."
Just like with any cataclysmic event (the attack on Pearl Harbor for example), there are numerous things that just don't"match up":

Lorie checked out the North American Aerospace Defense Command, whose specific mission includes a response to any form of an air attack on America. It was created to provide a defense of critical command-and-control targets. At 8:40 a.m. on 9/11, the F.A.A. notified NORAD that Flight No. 11 had been hijacked. Three minutes later, the F.A.A. notified NORAD that Flight No. 175 was also hijacked. By 9:02 a.m., both planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, but there had been no action by NORAD. Both agencies also knew there were two other hijacked planes in the air that had been violently diverted from their flight pattern. All other air traffic had been ordered grounded. NORAD operates out of Andrews Air Force Base, which is within sight of the Pentagon. Why didn’t NORAD scramble planes in time to intercept the two other hijacked jetliners headed for command-and-control centers in Washington? Lorie wanted to know. Where was the leadership?
And how about this?:

Mindy pieced together the actions of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He had been in his Washington office engaged in his"usual intelligence briefing." After being informed of the two attacks on the World Trade Center, he proceeded with his briefing until the third hijacked plane struck the Pentagon. Mindy relayed the information to Kristen:

"Can you believe this? Two planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City did not rise to the level of Rumsfeld’s leaving his office and going to the war room to check out just what the hell went wrong." Mindy sounded scared."This is my President. This is my Secretary of Defense. You mean to tell me Rumsfeld had to get up from his desk and look out his window at the burning Pentagon before he knew anything was wrong? How can that be?"

Now, folks, there are a couple of possible explanations. One is sheer incompetence -- an astonishing level of incompetence in fact. Of course, incompetence and fear-mongering is the modus operandi of this administration, Iraq being the prime example of this at the moment.

The other possibility is something more sinister. Something I almost hesitate to mention. Something I try my damnedest to not dwell on for very long. And something, I must admit, that I simply don't believe at the present moment.

That possibility, of course, is that the administration knew something quite a bit more specific than just noticing increased" chatter" on the terrorist networks in the days up to 9/11.

Now I'm not suggesting they knew anything more specific than that terrorist attacks were a possibility against major targets. Admittedly, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this up. When Ashcroft stopped flying commercial, that's an awfully suggestive little detail. When we hear that the president was briefed about hijackings, that's another suggestive little detail. When we think about how quickly the 19 hijackers were ascertained and find out 14 investigations were open of people linked to the hijackers, that's another detail.

Just this rather mild suggestion would be an absolute bombshell -- such an enormous bombshell that this administration, which already practices a Nixonian level of secrecy, might try to do anything to stymie an investigation. Such a bombshell that it might doom W's administration's second term immediately and hand the White House and potentially both chambers (Republican-controlled chambers that would have therefore assisted in the cover-up) to the other political party next year in a landslide.

This administration's actions over the last several months are quite consistent with that possibility.

Surely this isn't true, right?

In no way am I suggesting that the administration knew it was coming and purposefully refused to do anything about it. I'm thinking incompetence is the answer to the question, not some deep, dark conspiracy.

However, I can't help but wonder just what these guys knew -- and why they won't be more forthcoming. I think they did know at least a bit more than they are letting on.

What do you think?

Posted by Tom at 1:27 p.m. CDTComment


And neither do I.

In the interest of fairness, here's Mark Kleiman's response.

Posted by Tom at 7:51 a.m. CDTComment

NOW THIS... 08-21-03

is astonishingly tacky and pretty damned outrageous.

So a Republican attempt to hijack democracy in California is used as yet another marketing opportunity by the purveyors of"authentic Connecticut Mexican food" over at Taco Hell.

I guess the guy LEADING in the polls, Cruz Bustamante, doesn't even make it into the top two in the minds of the folks in management over at Taco Bell HQ. And let's not even get into the fact that they chose the"grilled stufft burrito" for him -- and everybody else.

Big business in America never fails to disappoint, does it?

(Thanks to reader Jon Bastian for the tip.)

Posted by Tom at 5:11 p.m. CDTComment


The only way this Iraq fiasco turns around is with the help of the U.N. and some genuine allied cooperation there.

However, I'm not holding my breath that the geniuses who got us into this mess and thought it would be a glorious and quick victory have the brains to figure that out.

The idiotic right-wing blogger we-can-justify-anything-if-you-give-us-long-enough"flypaper theory" was clearly not the intention of this administration but currently is the result of numerous poor choices by the administration over the last ten months or so.

I think I'd like to use a little less American"flypaper" over in Iraq.

How about you?

Posted by Tom at 4:57 p.m. CDTComment

52% APPROVAL FOR W... 08-21-03

and now more Americans in this poll would vote for the generic"someone new" than for W.

W is really not as popular as some would have you believe, is he?

Ah, that explains it! O'Reilly and Coulter are so grumpy about it they won't appear with liberal truth-teller Joe Conason on television shows.

It's either that or they're cowards. Take your pick.

So much for the"No-Spin Zone," huh?

Posted by Tom at 3:06 p.m. CDTComment


Here's a link to it (you'll need Adobe Acrobat).

It's pretty entertaining reading.

Here are a few select parts you may not have read elsewhere [my emphasis added]:

Moreover, since Franken's reputation as a political commentator is not of the same caliber as the stellar reputations of FNC's on-air talent, any association between Franken and Fox News is likely to blur or tarnish Fox News' distinctive mark...


Currently,"The O'Reilly Factor" is the most popular program on FNC."The O'Reilly Factor" bills itself as a"No-Spin Zone" and the goal of the program is to present the audience with the straight facts while allowing the audience to reach its own conclusions about the news.


O'Reilly himself has become a national celebrity and one of America's most trusted sources of news and information. He is inextricably linked with Fox News and the"Fair and Balanced" trademark in the minds of the viewing public.

Gee, I think it's safe to say O'Reilly's behind this one, don't you think?

Do you think he's got a big ego, perhaps? Obviously so do the folks at Faux, huh?

Go read the rest of it for yourself. It's pretty hilarious.

Special thanks to my colleague in the department Dan Smith who sent me this link.

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

MEETINGS 08-21-03

I've got meetings for a few hours this morning. More later.

Go read some of the excellent blogs on the right of the page in the meantime, will you?

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

HITS? 08-20-03

It's been pointed out to me that in my earlier"Thank You" post yesterday, I mentioned the number of visitors, 350,000 (more than 352,000 now) but forgot to mention the number of hits.

I've had nearly 503,000 hits since I installed my hit counter last September 18th.

Now you can consider yourself completely up-to-date on my traffic.

Thanks again folks! I really do appreciate the patronage!

Posted by Tom at 8:30 p.m. CDTComment


This is just a strange story. I'm not quite sure what to think. I'm inclined to say this is not true and sounds like a conspiracy theory but, knowing the history of the CIA, very little surprises me these days.

The last couple of paragraphs of this column are certainly hard-hitting:

These suspicions stem from a bizarre incident on May 16, 2002, in Davao. Michael Meiring, a U.S. citizen, allegedly detonated explosives in his hotel room, injuring himself badly. While recovering in the hospital, Mr. Meiring was whisked away by two men, who witnesses say identified themselves as FBI agents, and flown to the United States. Local officials have demanded that Mr. Meiring return to face charges, to little effect. BusinessWorld, a leading Philippine newspaper, has published articles openly accusing Mr. Meiring of being a CIA agent involved in covert operations"to justify the stationing of American troops and bases in Mindanao."

Yet the Meiring affair has never been reported in the U.S. press. And the mutinous soldiers' incredible allegations were no more than a one-day story. Maybe it just seemed too outlandish: an out-of-control government fanning the flames of terrorism to pump up its military budget, hold onto power and violate civil liberties.

Why would Americans be interested in something like that?

Good shot, eh?

Give the story a read. Let me know what you think.

Posted by Tom at 8:20 p.m. CDTComment


The Horse points us to this interesting column by Michael Wolff about a conference he went to recently.

Read down to the second page to find out about how Clinton was kicking some serious conserva-tarian rear at the conference.

You know, I sure do miss the days when we had a competent president who worried about the big issues and the people instead of keeping his ultra-rich contributors happy with taxcuts.

Don't the Clinton years just seem like halcyon days compared to the present?

I mean, heck, W can't even be bothered to put a stop to record budget deficits, much less something actually serious.

I truly suspect we'll never make major progress in the War on Terror until he's out of office folks and replaced by someone who knows what the hell he's doing.

Until then, we're just marking time -- and hoping of course that we don't have another 9/11-level disaster in the interim.

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


that is Iraq today.

W and the boys told us in January and February it was a haven for terrorists and a threat to us. That clearly wasn't the case back then.

However, because of this administration's bumbling and sheer incompetence, it certainly fits that definition today, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 11:01 a.m. CDTComment


Krisnelda over at Different Strings discovers Republicans aren't only trying to revise the title of W's speeches these days.

As it becomes increasingly obvious (and unpopular) that W and the boys are trying to use 9/11 politically, they've"officially" changed their rationale for holding the latest convention in the history of the GOP.

You've got to read this one to believe it.

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


Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week:

A New Front in the"Culture War"

Maybe the best way to understand what galvanizes many Democrats about the idea of Gen. Wesley Clark running for president is to ponder recent manifestations of Republican triumphalism at its most absurd: the George W. Bush"Elite Force Naval Aviator 12-inch Action Figure," and GOP attack-blonde Ann Coulter's book"Treason."

"Exacting in detail and fully equipped with authentic gear," the Bush doll comes advertised as"a meticulous 1:6 scale recreation of the Commander-in-Chief's appearance during his historic Aircraft Carrier landing" to (rather prematurely) announce an end to hostilities in Iraq last May. It may be purchased online from proBush.com, a site which also features an illustrated traitors list, including Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John F. Kerry and an odd mix of Hollywood celebrities, recording artists and obscure academics."If you do not support our president's decisions," it seems"you are a traitor."

The TV pundette Coulter's alleged"best seller"--its place on the New YorkTimes Book Review's list is marked by a symbol indicating bulk purchases, meaning some ideological sugar daddy's buying them up--makes an even more sweeping condemnation. Ever since FDR died, it seems,"[w]hether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America....They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant. Fifty years of treason hasn't slowed them down."

As embarrassing as Coulter's views are to conscientious conservatives, it's no exaggeration to say that the"liberal" sins she caricatures--atheism, cosmopolitanism, sexual license, moral relativism, communism, physical and intellectual cowardice, disloyalty and lack of patriotism--are identical to the crimes of the Jews as the Nazis depicted them. Also of"race mixers" as segregationist red-hots like Arkansas' own Justice Jim Johnson saw them. During the 90s, they morphed into the more irrational forms of Clinton-hatred. Not everybody who dislikes the former president is a bigot, it's worthwhile saying again, but all bigots loathed him.

Exploiting these dark, unsavory stereotypes was the essence of Richard M. Nixon's famous"Southern Strategy," and remains an essential part of President Junior's 2004 re-election plan. Doubters should read up on the whisper campaign against Sen. John McCain during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, which included insinuations that the former Vietnam POW was left emotionally unstable by his wartime ordeal, and hinting at dark secrets behind his adoption of a"non-white" child. Or, for that matter, on GOP attack ads in 2002 questioning the patriotism of Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War triple amputee.

As the latter examples make clear, Gen. Clark's own history as a decorated combat veteran wouldn't render him immune to such attacks. But it would limit their effectiveness to the kinds of fools eagerly snapping up George W. Bush Elite Force Action Figures and standing in line to secure Coulter's autograph. For the great majority of Americans, the former NATO Supreme Commander's presidential candidacy could provide an historic opportunity to confront ugly stereotypes about Democratic perfidy and defeat them once and for all.

That's not to say Clark's candidacy would automatically signal a truce in the" culture wars." But it would mark an important turning point nevertheless. Responding to questions from CNN's Wolf Blitzer about a TV ads sponsored by draftwesleyclark.com over the weekend, Clark disclaimed any contact with his would-be supporters but professed to feel in the country"an enormous hunger for leadership. And I think the draft movement is evidence that, to some extent, there is still that hunger out there, despite the number of candidates in the race and despite the president's polling."

Not very modest of him, perhaps, but then humility is a quality for which 4-star generals are rarely noted. In fact, President Junior hasn't been polling all that well. A recent FoxNews/Opinion Dynamics survey asked if"he deserves to be reelected or would the country probably be better off with someone else as president?""Someone else" led"deserves re-election" by margin of 42 to 36 percent, down eleven points from June.

The argument that it's already too late for a Clark candidacy is nicely rebutted by an analysis on the draftwesleyclark.com website pointing out that with nine Democratic candidates, 4 or 5 of them considered"serious," and with polls showing upwards of half the Democratic primary voters undecided, the race remains wide open.

My own sense is that Clark's announcement would send an electrical charge through the Democratic party. Most are angry, sick and tired of having soft-handed Beltway chickenhawks and blonde pundettes question their loyalty and malign their courage. They are spoiling for a fight and looking for a champion who's not a plastic action figure in a make-believe uniform.

But would Clark the candidate measure up to Clark the symbol? I expect we're fixing to find out.

Posted by Tom at 8:05 a.m. CDTComment

YEP 08-19-03

In Big Lies, Joe Conason says:

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals.
Megan McArdle mocks Conason's sentiments, Julian Sanchez says,"Golly, thanks liberals! I'd been under the misguided impression that these things were primarily made possible by technological development and economic growth, but it's good to be set straight," and Instapundit links approvingly.

But folks, liberals really did fight for all these things, and conservatives really did resist them — and a lot of other things as well. Would they have happened anyway eventually? Maybe. But communism would probably have eventually fallen on its own too, and that doesn't stop conservatives from deifying Ronald Reagan and calling Democrats traitors. Hell, even Conason's rhetoric is pretty unexceptionable in this passage, so I'm not quite sure why the conserva-tarian crowd is getting so bent out of shape about it.

As someone whose specialty area in history is this era, I can vouch for what Kevin has to say and, if you recall, Insty's knowledge of American history -- even that of the region within which he lives (the South) -- isn't particularly impressive. Therefore, I really wouldn't want to be taking any history lessons from Glenn.

Conservatives, for some reason, are often some of the loosest with the facts of history of the twentieth century -- particularly that of the very important Progressive Era.

I guess the idea of liberal Republicans just gives these guys the willies, huh? It's easier for them to just pretend that all of the major societal advances of the 1900s and 1910s happened some other way.

I mean, heck, it would be depressing to realize that your conservative heroes fought against clean air and clean water, wouldn't it?

Posted by Tom at 10:12 p.m. CDTComment


A few hours ago, I had my 350,000th visitor (I've decided, in response to reader comments, to thank you folks every 50,000 visitors from now on). I don't know where the visitor came from since I was in my third long meeting of the day. I do appreciate your patronage of this blog. I hope to give you reason to come back often.

And now, the odds and ends:

Krugman is good today. He talks about what needs to be done to the power grid -- and how he's not optimistic that this won't be yet another opportunity for power companies to profiteer without making any substantive changes. I'm with Krugman on that one.

Also, if you think I haven't said enough about the salacious things out there about Schwarzenegger, here's your virtual one stop shop for such things. I do find it fascinating the double-standard that exists for this stuff in our media. If Clinton had gotten this sort of treatment, we'd have never heard anything at all about Lewinsky in any of the major newspapers. It's also interesting that it's the British press that may bring him down.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think any of this stuff has anything to do with Schwarzenegger's ability to fulfill his office, just as the same was true with Clinton back in 1998. It's irrelevant and between the Arnis and his wife.

However, it's amazing how the same press and the same Republicans were frothing at the mouth about what were some relatively minor things in comparison to what is apparently out there about Ahhhnuld.

Of course, if anyone remembers the unbelievable free pass that W got about his rumored cocaine use and on his going AWOL from his National Guard commitment for a year, it's not exactly surprising that the press is using the same transparent double-standard and leaving the Arnis alone, is it?

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


It has become pretty clear after the bombing of the U.N. building in Baghdad today that things are going terribly in Iraq. Today it has become apparent that this fool's errand of a war may have been a horrible tar-baby-like mistake from which we may not be able to easily extricate ouselves. However, ironically at about the same time, W and the boys show they didn't really mean it when they said they were against revisionism -- at least when it serves their purposes anyway.

Atrios points us to The Likely Story blog which notes that the White House has suddenly changed the title of W's May 2nd Carrier Photo-Op address to"President Bush Announces the End of Major Combat Operations." You see, the word"Major" wasn't in the title until late yesterday. As if that little editorial revision makes W somehow less wrong about his preposterous premature claim three months ago.

These guys micromanage everything, don't they? And it still, ugh (I don't like this metaphor either), blows up in their faces. Or, more accurately, it blows up in someone else's face, usually that of our soldiers or some other innocent party.

When are Americans going to hold this White House accountable for these astonishing foreign policy mistakes?

I'm finally out of meetings but my wife has a migraine and I need to watch kiddos.

More later.

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


Want the opinion of a trademark lawyer on this lawsuit? Go here.

I didn't know the source of Faux's quotations in the lawsuit was a minor fringe author who writes for a paper about 60 miles away from me!

I've never heard of him nor am I likely to ever again.

What a weird person to use and pretend he's an authority!

I'm off to"Meeting-fest 2003." More later.

[Link via Atrios]

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


Go read this interesting article over at TomPaine.com about the parallels between the current foreign policy mess in the Bush administration and Iran-Contra.

I wonder if eventually we'll be listening to W tell us over and over how he" can't recall" anything like in Iran-Contra.

I'm likely to have to do a lot of this work stuff (several meetings) tomorrow during the day. I suspect it will get in the way of my blogging. Isn't that annoying?

Anyway, I'll post all I can of course but it may not be much until tomorrow evening.

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 10:04 p.m. CDTComment


This my friends is ridiculous.

In fact it's downright hilarious that anyone thinks this will work.

Posted by Tom at 2:54 p.m. CDTComment


As the hunt for Saddam Hussein grows more urgent and the guerrilla war in Iraq shows little sign of abating, the Bush administration is continuing to shift highly specialized intelligence officers from the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to the Iraq crisis, according to intelligence officials who have been involved in the redeployments.

The recent moves -- involving both analysts in Washington and specially trained field operatives -- follow the transfer of hundreds of elite commandos from Afghanistan duty to service in Iraq, Pentagon officials said.

The activity reflects the priority of capturing Hussein quickly, ending the guerrilla war, and locating possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, officials said. It also gives further ammunition, however, to critics who have long claimed that fighting the Iraq war would divert resources and attention from the hunt for bin Laden, the primary architect of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and other Al Qaeda fugitives.

"The intelligence brainpower is focused on Iraq," said a European diplomat who has recently been in Afghanistan and asked not to be named."If you didn't have Iraq, the intellectual energy would be on Afghanistan."

Does this seem astonishingly foolish to you too? Now of course I want Saddam found if it will help to end the guerilla war (I'm not really sure it will but that's for another post) against our forces in Iraq. However, through these choices hasn't the administration just made it much more likely that Al-Qaeda will become more powerful in Afghanistan. If that happens, the administration through this decision has just made us all less safe from terrorism?

And how well are things really going in Afghanistan? Not so well, as you learn later on in the same story:

About 400 guerrillas drove a convoy of trucks late Saturday from Pakistan into southeastern Afghanistan and attacked a police headquarters building, according to the Associated Press. At least 22 police and rebels were killed in the ensuing firefight. The rebels held the police building until dawn yesterday, when they destroyed it and withdrew.

Last week, Afghanistan suffered the deadliest day since the end of major combat operations in the former Taliban stronghold. A bus bombing and clashes between the newly created Afghan National Army and Taliban and Al Qaeda guerrillas left 58 people dead and dozens wounded.

Our news media largely ignores reporting the news from Afghanistan these days. Why is that?

I guess they'll decide it's important again the next time there's a terrorist attack.

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


"When our airmen were flying over Kosovo, Tom DeLay led House Republicans to vote not to support their activities -- when American troops were in combat," Clark said."To me, that's a real indicator of a man who's motivated not by patriotism or support for the troops but by partisan political purposes."


Posted by Tom at 9:36 p.m. CDTComment

HEAT VS. SNOW 08-17-03

I'm glad to see that someone else [Morat (Aarrggh! Permalinks bloggered -- the title of the post is"More on Idiot Comments about heatwaves") and Different Strings] had the same thought I did when reading the idiotic WaPo editorial about Europeans and the heat.

My first response was"hey you idiots, why does Washington, D.C. shut down when there's three inches of snow? That's not really that big a deal, is it?"

I must admit as someone who has made his class at 8:00 (both in Indiana and here in my rather hilly region of Missouri) when we've had twelve inches or more of snow, I can't believe that some folks simply can't drive in snow but the fact is, some folks just can't.

As Different Strings notes, we're all acclimated to different weather conditions and that's just the way it is with human beings. As someone who's seen the hilarious comedic spectacle of drivers in San Antonio and Houston try to drive on a whopping inch of snow, I can attest to the acclimation argument. I really couldn't believe it when my uncle in Houston completely lost control of his car in what had to be the lamest inch of snow I've ever seen.

I just don't know how the folks at the WaPo can't realize such an obvious thing before making fools of themselves in writing that editorial.

And, btw, the high here was 101 today. In any given year, I deal with both heavy snows and days of 100+ degrees. I deal with both extremes -- so you certainly can't accuse me of being a softy heat-wise or cold-wise.

In fact, I rode 10 miles on my bike yesterday through extremely hilly terrain in 96 degrees with a heat index of more than 105.

Nonetheless, I do understand that most Americans don't deal with both extremes. Why aren't the folks at the WaPo bright enough to recognize that?

Posted by Tom at 4:22 p.m. CDTComment

GOOD QUIP 08-17-03

An interesting Newsweekarticle about the blackout includes the following quip:

Across the country in San Diego, President George W. Bush was on brief respite from his month-long Crawford, Texas, vacation, lunching with troops at the Marine Air Corps Station in Miramar before heading to a fund-raising dinner.
I think the press may finally be paying attention to the fact that W was AWOL once again, just as he was on 9/11.

I mean, heck folks, I'm sure we'd all love to take a month off from work but we just can't, can we?

Posted by Tom at 2:47 p.m. CDTComment


What is NIPR.mil? Should I be concerned that I'm visited a few times per day by a visitor from NIPR.mil? Is this just a blanket domain for anyone in a certain part or office in the Pentagon or did this post in March reacting to the"Shock and Awe" in downtown Baghdad put me on Don Rumsfeld's"watch list?"

Surely there are larger threats to national security than this little old blog, right?

Posted by Tom at 1:20 p.m. CDTComment


Conservative Short Attention Span Theatre.

Can conservatives read and comprehend anything longer than a Donald Luskin column?

Well, come to think of it, Luskin's columns are so poorly written, that's not a very good example for me to use. (NRO ought to be embarrassed they publish him much less pay him.) How about a Bill Kristol column instead? I mean, heck, Kristol's a W agitprop sort of guy but at least he can write -- and I suspect his copy editors are good.

This is just hilarious.

[Link via Atrios]

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


Remember how two people close to W broke federal law a few weeks ago by outting Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife?

David Corn gives us an update about what sort of investigation is under way.

In short, you and I have to count on the fairness and judgement of John Ashcroft and George Tenet (Tenet has already proved himself an insufferable suck-up to this administration) for there to be much of an investigation.

I'm not holding my breath.

BTW, folks, this scandal makes the Monica Lewinsky thing look like a parking ticket -- but Republicans can't seem to be convinced to care about it.

That tells you all you need to know about their moral character, doesn't it?

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


Chuck Kuffner has your Texas re-districting update. It's quite a comprehensive one.

As expected, Texas Republicans in the State Senate are looking more moronic by the minute. Only Governor Goodhair, who called this ridiculous special session, is ahead of them on the moron-o-meter at the moment.

Senate Republicans are imposing fines and sanctions against the defiant Democrats. These same folks said absolutely nothing when a Republican state senator who was a sex offender was allowed to serve out his term in 1997.

Ah, the hypocrisy is hip-deep down there, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 2:07 p.m. CDTComment


Before the first television ads have aired, the race to succeed California Gov. Gray Davis (D) if he is recalled came down to just two men, Republican action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante, according to a nonpartisan statewide poll to be released Saturday.

The California Field Poll found 25 percent of registered voters opted for Bustamante followed by 22 percent for Schwarzenegger.

The other candidates trailed in single digits: State Sen. Tom McClintock took 9 percent; businessman Bill Simon won 8 percent; former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth received 5 percent; all three are Republicans. Independent and columnist Arianna Huffington got 4 percent, and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo received 2 percent.

So much for the invincible Schwarzenegger machine, huh? This is hilarious. If he's not ahead now, he probably never will be.

Meanwhile, suspiciously, Schwarzenegger can't seem to remember that meeting in May 2001 with Ken"Kenny Boy" Lay during the middle of the California power crisis:

Huffington also criticized Schwarzenegger for meeting with former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay in May 2001 in Beverly Hills. The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Lay gave Schwarzenegger and other business and political leaders a four-page plan detailing his solution to California's energy crisis.

"I don't remember the meeting," Schwarzenegger said.


That's lie number two.

For someone who's trying to convince Californians he isn't really a Republican politician, he sure does lie like one.

To review, it's only been three days since lie number one.

[Links via Atrios]

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


You really should read this fascinating piece by Michael Wolff. I'll quote the opening few paragraphs so you can get a sense of it:

Exactly what kind of trouble is the president in?

The White House, the Democrats, and the media—all puzzled—are trying to make this calculation. You sense the precision instruments at work, measuring opinion and Zeitgeist air quality. Writers of all biases have been sent back to further develop the plot—we’ve gotten to the cliff-hanger without being sure of the outcome.

Or it’s like an interactive narrative—we can pick from opposite scenarios:

•This postwar (or post-postwar) querulousness is just a blip for the president, and, as so often before, the Bush political and communications experts will make the necessary adjustments (or do the requisite bullying) and, with relative media quiescence, charge on.

•The war and its aftermath—which is unfolding pretty much exactly as the antiwar forces said it would—have created a situation of great vulnerability for the president, which the media, goaded by the Democrats, will poke and prod with mounting pleasure. The president and his men will become more and more defensive and, as the bullying becomes more brazen, prone to greater and greater mistakes. Hence the stage is set for political calamity.

But which is it? It can’t be both.

It’s slightly surreal and unnerving to be caught without a clear story line—to be in such an unscripted moment. It’s highly uncommercial to have the story meander like this without narrative momentum. Everybody looks foolish and unprofessional. Certainly it’s rare for this White House and its consummate script doctors. And the media, which has grown so dependent on the White House writers, is now uncertain where to go on its own (it’s part of the problem—the media expects that the Bushies will come up with some great new plot twist).

I agree that the next few months really will tell the tale of this administration. The war is either one of the most colossal mistakes by an administration in American history, compounded by the fact that we invaded Iraq without any sort of provocation. That, as you know, is unprecedented in American history.

Presidents have always been able to point to (or even, in the case of LBJ, manufacture) some sort of provocation when leading the nation into war. W tried to substitute"imminent threat" for provocation and it's becoming increasingly apparent the case for this threat was exceedingly weak.

One of the more interesting passages in Wolff's piece deals with what seems to be a rather major mistake by the Bushies:

Even the very smart media people in the Bush White House probably did not think through the fact that hooking up with Blair meant that we were going to hook up with British media—a more sour, more skeptical lot than our own. Major parts of the Brit press—including the BBC—have turned against their government in something of an us-or-you face-off. There’s now the sexed-up dossier and a dead civil servant (in terms of story line, the suicide of David Kelly, the weapons expert and BBC source, will function something like the suicide of Vince Foster—it provides the sinister subtext). And the sense that the Blair government hangs in the balance.

Now, not only does the British fudging of the evidence cast further doubt on the Bushies’ WMD sales pitch, but it makes the U.S. media more competitive. If the British media has found a story, why haven’t we? If they’re having fun, we should be having fun, too! The Brits, in their own competitive view, see the U.S. media as running three to four weeks behind them. Indeed, that’s a good narrative strategy: When you don’t have a clear story line, follow somebody else’s.

In the second act, after the smoking gun has been uncovered (or at least when the smoke from the smoking gun is swirling all around), there begins, for the Bush writers, the inevitable process of trying to assign the gun to somebody else.

This is the moment that in hindsight is always the one remembered as when the confession should have occurred. And indeed, someone obviously urged contrition from the president at his press conference last week. But while he got as far as the obligatory buck-stops-here mea culpa, he did not confess to the main charge: overselling the weapons.

I really think Wolff's onto something here. It may very well be the British media that brings W down.

And how much trouble is Blair in, you ask? Well, just today he's been caught lying about the source of his controversial"45 minutes" WMD claim:

The government has never admitted the key information was based on hearsay. On June 4, Tony Blair told the House of Commons:"It was alleged that the source for the 45 minute claim was an Iraqi defector of dubious reliability. He was not an Iraqi defector and he was an established and reliable source."

Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, said of the claim on May 29:"That was said on the basis of security service information - a single source, it wasn't corroborated."

The irony is that the government launched a furious attack on the BBC for broadcasting allegations that the dossier was"sexed up" based on a single, anonymous, uncorroborated source. That source was Dr Kelly.

Mr Campbell told the foreign affairs select committee:"I find it incredible ... that people can report based on one single anonymous uncorroborated source."

In fact, the foundation for the government's claim was even shakier, according to the document: a single anonymous uncorroborated source quoting another single anonymous uncorroborated source.

The death watch has started for Blair's government.

How much of this scandal will make it over here? Did the Bush administration convince Blair to make that claim? How much of a role did the Bush administration have in promoting the claim?

Of course, this assumes that we have a responsible press that will pursue these issues. That's the part of the story that, to me at least, seems the most problematic. The toothless flag-waving watchdogs have not exactly impressed me for the last decade or so.

Posted by Tom at 12:47 p.m. CDTComment


but the world doesn't revolve around you, Glenn.

[Link via Atrios]

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


I couldn't resist it. Image courtesy of Billmon.

Posted by Tom at 5:29 p.m. CDTComment


Here's an interesting column by Sidney Blumenthal on Salon (get the day pass).

It's pretty interesting. I like his historical perspective on the origins of right-wing invective as well:

The origins of this garish imagination of fear lie deeper than the recent escapades of Newt Gingrich, running back to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, the Know Nothings of the 19th century, and Father Charles Coughlin and Sen. Joseph McCarthy of the 20th. In 1964, when the first contemporary right-wing candidate, Barry Goldwater, was nominated by the Republican Party, the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay on"The paranoid style in American politics." He emphasized style because it had become the essence of this brand of politics:"Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content." But this did not mean that the right-wingers of Hofstadter's time did not engage in elaborate displays of"pedantry" and accumulations of"evidence." They piled up"evidence" to create a thoroughly coherent if fictitious black-and-white picture in which enemies within conspired and only those who had a special night-vision to identify these satanic hosts could resist them in the name of patriotism.

The same year that Hofstadter published his piece on"the paranoid style," an obscure conservative named John Stormer published the" carefully documented story of America's retreat from victory" in the face of the liberal-internationalist-Communist conspiracy. It was titled"None Dare Call It Treason." The book, timed to coincide with the 1964 presidential campaign, was turned into a bestseller by the John Birch Society, a far-right-wing group, which boasted that it had distributed 6 million copies within eight months of its publication. (To this day, the Birch Society sells Stormer's book on its Web site.)

Nearly 40 years later, in the summer of 2003, the bestselling book on the right was entitled"Treason," by Ann Coulter."Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason," she wrote." ... Everyone says liberals love America, too. No they don't. Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy." Positioned discreetly next to her book on the New York Times bestseller list was a tiny dagger signifying bulk sales from unknown sources. Coulter's argument was a conservative perennial, down to the spirited defense of Joseph McCarthy. Both Stormer's and Coulter's works cited mounds of"evidence." Both warned ominously against liberal betrayal. The principal difference between"None Dare Call It Treason" and"Treason" was not in sophistication, nuance, erudition, persuasiveness, or literary quality, but in the expanded capacity of conservatives to disseminate the word far and wide through their own alternative media and in the elevation by the mainstream media of the extremist as entertainer.

It's an interesting article. Go read it.

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


from the WaPo, making light of Europeans for having major problems with the heat. I remind you that 3000 or more people have died in the heat wave in Europe. That's around the same number as died on September 11th in this country. Therefore this editorial is neither funny nor clever. In fact, it's damned tasteless.

I guess we should just be happy that Europeans didn't write snarky editorials about how we should've known it would happen and more adequately prepared for domestic terrorism back in September of 2001.

Atrios has some suggestions for future Fair and Balanced editorials by the WaPo:

When a major Earthquake hits London, killing 3000+, a snarky editorial about how they failed to sufficiently Earthquake-proof their buildings.

When a freak snowstorm causes 3000 +road deaths from accidents and exposure in Rome, a snarky editorial about their lack of salt trucks and central heating.

When a measles epidemic kills thousands in Africa, a snarky editorial about their lack of a decent vaccination program.

When a nuclear missile strike hits Zurich, devasting much of that part of Europe, a snarky editorial about their failure to adequately invest in a missile defense program.

(A very Fair and Balanced) Indeed.

(A very Fair and Balanced) Heh.

Update: As Atrios points out in comments, he wrote the post in question. I've changed this post to reflect that.

Posted by Tom at 12:47 p.m. CDTComment


If you couldn't tell from my last post, it's officially"Fair and Balanced Friday" here in the lefty side of the blogosphere!

I'll start off with a Fair and Balanced look at the economy by the always Fair and Balanced Paul Krugman. He explains why the jobless recovery continues and will likely continue for the rest of the year. Meaning that, for the average Fair and Balanced American, the misery will go on into next year. This, my friends, in my Fair and Balanced opinion, is what will cost W the presidency if he loses it.

If you want to learn about the activities of the Arnis, here's a link to the infamous Premiere magazine article about it. In my Fair and Balanced opinion, I think Arnie may have a little trouble convincing Fair and Balanced Californians that he isn't a boor who's going to embarrass them as governor. Honestly, the Arnis apparently makes the Clenis look pretty tame.

But always remember, at least in Arnie's point of view,"Eating is not Cheating!" I'm sure religious conservatives are really going to support a man who has that Clintonesque a view of sexual relations.

Or is the real story that religious conservatives are hypocritical enough to support Arnie anyway?

Well I'm off to look at how other blogs are observing"Fair and Balanced Friday" and then I'm going to do some work.

More later.

Update: For a list of Fair and Balanced blogs observing"Fair and Balanced Friday," go here.

Update 2:"Fluffy Bunny."

Posted by Tom at 9:43 a.m. CDTComment


So, as a Fair and Balanced person, you thought the administration's democratic aspirations for Iraq within a few months -- now presented as one of the major selling points of the war since that WMD thing didn't work out -- was just pie in the sky?

Well, it turns out, the always Fair and Balanced intelligence community felt the same way -- and it tried earnestly to warn the administration in the months before the war.

I'd like to say I'm surprised but, uh, I'm not. I mean, heck, if I, as a Fair and Balanced person, can come to such a conclusion just through reading everything I can find on the internet, surely the Fair and Balanced spooks with their vast resources can come to the same conclusion.

But, once again, the administration decided that the Fair and Balanced folks who actually knew something were far too pessimistic and namby-pamby about it so to hell with them.

You also should be reading the Fair and Balanced Nitpicker every day because, doggone it, I like him!

I'm just glad the always Fair and Balanced Terry's not shouting at the Wall Street Journal editorial page in airport kiosks anymore!

Posted by Tom at 1:01 a.m. CDTComment


As you probably know by now, I'm not a George W. Bush fan. However, if you're honestly going to try to blame W for the power outages, some evidence would be a good idea.

I mean, heck folks, I'd love to blame every rainy day on the Bush administration but I just can't do it.

If you could show me that W had a plan on the table to upgrade and make the power grid more secure, yet dumped it because he wanted his enormous tax cut, then you'd have something.

If not, it just sounds like shrill nonsense to me.

Just my two cents folks.

Posted by Tom at 8:56 p.m. CDTComment


The only thing worse than W speaking using a teleprompter is W speaking without a teleprompter.

If you couldn't tell, I just watched W's statement tonight.

He actually did better answering questions than making his statement.

You know those of us who do public speaking for 10-12 hours per week largely extemporaneously really get annoyed watching W struggle to make it through a three minute statement without looking like a damned fool.

Posted by Tom at 8:06 p.m. CDTComment


Check this out. It's a java applet of the Eastern Interconnect Power Grid. I assume the big red circles over NYC and Detroit are bad.

This is really cool. You should check it out.

Look at the bottom of the page for instructions on how to navigate around the grid.

It takes a little bit to load but it's worth it.

Posted by Tom at 6:12 p.m. CDTComment


Boy, those pictures from New York City of people walking home is pretty amazing. Living in a town that is seven square miles you don't think about what a trial it would be to walk or bike from one end of New York City or Detroit to the other.

Some are even suggesting that the damn virus my laptop suffered from this morning may be to blame.

Amazing, huh?

I'm watching ABC right now. Ted Koppel isn't doing a bad job on this, is he?

Posted by Tom at 5:48 p.m. CDTComment


Josh Marshall, who at times seems to have taken up residence inside my head, has an excellent post up about Kay's"September Surprise":

We know that the Iraqis had a biological weapons program and that there were biological weapons in the country. That's wholly undisputed. If Kay produces substantial evidence of such weapons in 1995 or 1998, that's meaningless. What we're trying to figure out is whether he had them in the period when we were considering going to war.

What many suspect is that Kay is going to pull an intel version of a classic 1990s-era document dump. In other words, come forward with a mound of documents detailing the Iraqis' extensive programs, their histories, the means used to conceal them, whom they imported parts from, and so forth. And then conveniently leave as a footnote the fact that these program had gone pretty dormant by 2002. The idea will be to make up with paper poundage what the report lacks in relevance. Hit them with twenty reams of report about the Iraqi WMD programs and then figure that the follow-on reports about how little was actually happening in 2002 are buried in the back of the papers after no one is paying attention.

All of this is to say that we're probably set for an elaborate festival of goal post moving courtesy of Mr Kay -- the widely telegraphed switch from weapons to 'programs' being the key sign.

Yep. That's what I think too.

If you recall, I posted as much a few days ago in fact.

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


Now that was great fun. I feel like such an idiot. I very conscientiously installed the appropriate patch to Windows XP in my home computer yesterday morning to protect against the virus. However, I didn't do the same for my laptop, planning to do it later. I used my laptop to log on to the internet last night and was under attack by the virus immediately. I didn't realize it until this morning.

Now everything is apparently fixed and all is back to normal. Of course, now it would be a great idea to actually get some work done.

In other news, W is going to cut the paychecks of our soldiers currently serving (and dying) in Iraq.

That's intolerable, isn't it?

And why do they need to cut the soldiers' paychecks? To pay for the enormous tax giveaway to the rich of course! We certainly know who comes first in this administration, don't we?

Like I've said many times, I think it's actually the anti-war folks who actually give a damn about the soldiers. W, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the boy clearly view them largely as cannon fodder.

Oh these guys say all of these wonderful things about the soldiers but their actions make it quite clear that they don't really believe them.

Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CDTComment


More later.

Posted by Tom at 12:17 p.m. CDTComment

WHAT DO YOU DO... 08-14-03

when your Republican superintendent (that is soon to be appointed Secretary of Education) pressures you to lower the dropout rate at your High School?

Why you lie and make up low numbers of course.

And what do the administrators in the district do about it once they find out?

Well, right now they're planning to fire the whistleblower in January.

And, I remind you again, this is in the former school district of Rod Paige, the current Secretary of Education. It began during his tenure and he had to know about the fraudulence of those numbers. Read the article. There's no way Paige didn't know those dropout numbers were fraudulent.

That doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Paige's leadership -- or his honesty -- does it?

And this, I'll remind you, is what passes for education reform in Republican circles these days.

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


Americans are getting more pessimistic about the economy – 60 percent say it's bad, the highest number recorded in a CBS News poll in ten years – and a majority disapproves of the way President Bush is handling it.

With public confidence in the economy falling and the job market stagnant, the president called his economic team down to Texas on Wednesday to show the world he's on the case.


The public is pessimistic about the economy, and has become more so recently. 60% think the economy is in bad shape – the most negative assessment seen in this poll in ten years. Just a few months ago, opinion was more evenly divided. And this represents a marked deterioration since January 2001, when Bush first took office; then, 84% thought the economy was in good shape. ...

Many think declines in the economy and the job market have occurred under the Bush Administration’s watch, and the President receives poor ratings in this area. In this poll, 36% approve and 52% disapprove of his handling of the economy -- his most negative evaluations in this area since he took office.


Due in part to the positive assessments of his handling of Iraq, Bush’s overall job approval rating is more positive; 55% approve and 35% disapprove.

Overall, Bush receives only a modicum of blame for current economic conditions. Most think Bush’s policies have had an impact on the economy, but believe that impact has been small. 48% believe the Administration’s policies have had a little impact, and 37% think those policies have had a lot of impact. But perhaps as a result of the tax cuts that have been implemented, the Bush Administration’s policies are seen as having a greater effect on the economy now than the public thought in January 2002.

However, that obscures an important finding from this poll; Bush receives more blame than credit for the current economy when the questions are asked separately to people who hold different views about the direction of the economy. Among those who think the economy is on the upswing, 37% give him lot of credit for its recovery. But among those who think the economy is getting worse, 56% place a lot of blame on Bush and his policies.

Part of the problem may be that most of the public thinks Bush’s attention is not focused enough on the problem. 25% think the president is paying enough attention to the economy, while nearly three times as many -- 70% -- think he is not.


There is some skepticism about the president’s plan for economic recovery as well. The centerpiece of Bush’s economic and jobs program is tax cuts, but Americans think it is unlikely that the Bush tax cuts will lead to more jobs. Only 38% think it likely the new tax cuts will create more jobs, while most -- 55% -- think that is not likely to happen. Views on this have become more negative since last May.

Let's see the media put a positive spin on those numbers! Oh my goodness, Atrios points out they're already trying to do so:

Despite that, a solid majority - 55 percent - said they were satisfied with Bush's overall performance. That figure was bolstered by generally good ratings on Bush's handling of foreign policy, fighting terrorism and Iraq.
As Atrios notes, since when is 55% a solid majority?

Yet another nail in the coffin of the liberal media myth, eh?

Posted by Tom at 12:13 a.m. CDTComment


Need proof the administration's credibility is gone? Read this story which completely blows the lid off the case against the fellow who supposedly tried to sell a shoulder-launched missile to terrorists. ABCNews suggests there's"a lot less than meets the eye":

Administration officials are leaving out key facts and exaggerating the significance of the alleged plot to smuggle a shoulder-launched missile into the United States, law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS. They say there's a lot less than meets the eye.


"Here we have a sting operation on some kind of small operator … who's bought one weapon when actually, on the gray and black market, hundreds of such weapons charge hands," said military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer.

Court documents show much of the case is based on the government's key cooperating witness, an informant seeking lenient treatment on federal drug charges, officials told ABCNEWS. He was the first person who led the government to Lakhani.


Government officials said the case will show that Lakhani went along with the scheme willingly and was not entrapped. But the question remains whether any of this would have happened if the government had not set it up.

Now you're really going to have to convince me that this doesn't provide evidence that the mainstream media no longer buys the first word out of the administration's spokesperson's mouth.

They're in trouble folks.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 p.m. CDTComment


The Republican over-reaching continues.

Governor Goodhair should stop while he's behind -- way behind.

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


You'd better get your bid in now!

Posted by Tom at 3:39 p.m. CDTComment


Arnold Schwarzenegger, labeled by polls the early leader in California's recall election, did not vote in five of the past 11 statewide elections, records revealed Monday.

Schwarzenegger aides said they were researching four of those five elections to see why absentee ballots were requested by the actor but not recorded as being received by elections officials. They said the actor, an Austrian immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 1983, takes voting seriously.

The Los Angeles County registrar of voters said Schwarzenegger, who lives in Brentwood, voted in six of the statewide and presidential elections going back to 1992. He voted in the 2002 primary and the general election, which included a successful ballot initiative he sponsored on after-school programs and the re-election of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

But the actor did not return absentee ballots for the 2000 general and primary elections after requesting them, the registrar said, meaning Schwarzenegger twice missed a chance to vote for President Bush. He did not vote in the June 1998 primary, which included a successful initiative banning bilingual education, records show.

And Schwarzenegger missed both the 1996 primary and general elections, which included the presidential campaign of Republican Bob Dole and initiatives on medical marijuana and tax increases on the wealthy. In 1996, Schwarzenegger was promoting the films"Jingle All the Way" and"Eraser" and was filming the movie"Batman & Robin."

Schwarzenegger campaign aides were researching the actor's schedule and interviewing his assistants about four 1996 and 2000 absentee ballots they said the actor requested. They said ballots are sometimes rejected or not recorded by elections officials once they are received, or his assistants could have neglected to mail them.

Right. You really expect us to believe that, Ahhhnuld?

That, my friends, certainly sounds like Mr. Schwarzenegger's first lie.

That didn't take long, did it?

Posted by Tom at 1:23 p.m. CDTComment



BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 13 — Iraqi insurgents have mounted fresh attacks on American troops occupying the country, killing three U.S. soldiers and wounding five more in assaults around Iraq’s deadly “Sunni triangle” in a 24-hour period, the military said Wednesday. In separate incidents, two Iraqis were killed overnight when U.S. forces returned fire at attackers, officials said.
But look, there's Ahhhnuld! And he's with Kobe!

[This is meant as a mean-spirited joke of course but the scary thing is I'm sure these two things are all the media will want to talk about today. And speaking of stupid media tricks, read this WaPo story about their latest poll. W has a strong base for re-election (under 50% said they'd vote for Bush in 2004)? Is it my imagination or have the"journalists" who wrote this article put as positive a spin as you could on some very negative poll findings?]

Posted by Tom at 12:04 p.m. CDTComment


Here's Gene Lyons' column for the week!

False Impressions or Falsehoods?

Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman spoke out about the Bush administration last week. What they said reinforced for many Democrats two important lessons from the 2000 campaign: first, that Gore's inability to combat the Washington celebrity press's relentless attacks upon his character and personality cost him the presidency; second, that a big factor in that failure was picking the sanctimonious Lieberman as his running mate.

Seemingly chosen to convey disapproval of President Clinton's sexual antics, Lieberman brought little to the campaign except the lukewarm approbation of Washington insiders. His debate performance against Dick Cheney resembled a timorous insurance agent trying to mollify an angry customer--appropriately enough for a politician long-devoted to keeping Connecticut's insurance industry happy. Lieberman's pussyfooting helped Cheney masquerade as a teddy bear, resulting in an administration in which the relentlessly aggressive vice-president and a phalanx of neo-conservative ideologues dominate a feckless and unaccountable president.

Anyhow,"Smokin' Joe," as Republican editorialists at my hometown Arkansas Democrat-Gazette call him, made a thinly-veiled attack on his two New England rivals for the presidency, Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry, in a speech at the National Press Club."A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam," he said"who has called for the repeal of all the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class...could lead the Democratic party into the political wilderness for a long time to come."

As opposed to today, Senator? Snoozin' Joe appears to think that the presciption for taking on Bush in 2004 is Republican Lite. A surer formula for disaster can hardly be imagined. No matter, because the hapless New York Mets have a better chance of winning the World Series than Lieberman has of securing the Democratic nomination. Polls showing otherwise are an illusion based on name recognition.

Al Gore wants to fight. If only, many Democrats said last week, he'd spoken as cogently and passionately in 2000 as he did at New York University. The contest wouldn't have been close enough for Bush's Florida cronies and the Supreme Court to steal.

Gore's theme was that the Bush administration governs through a weird mix of cronyism, ideological certitude and sheer dishonesty previously unseen in our national life."The direction in which our nation is being led," he said"is deeply troubling to me not only in Iraq but also here at home on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy. Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk."

Gore enumerated a list of"false impressions" that led the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq: that Saddam Hussein was partly reponsible for 9/11 and conspiring with al Qaeda; that he threatened to help terrorists launch poison gas and germ attacks against the U.S.; that he was acquiring enriched uranium and building a nuclear arsenal; that Iraqis would welcome US soldiers with open arms and make a quick, easy transition to democracy; and that allies who opposed the war would be only too happy after a painless victory to send soldiers and money to finish the job.

"Now, of course," Gore said"everybody knows that every single one of these impressions was just dead wrong."

Almost the same thing, he said, has happened in the economy:"The country somehow got lots of false impressions," he said"about what we could expect from the big tax cuts that were enacted, including: (1) The tax cuts would unleash a lot of new investment that would create lots of new jobs. (2) We wouldn't have to worry about a return to big budget deficits--because all the new growth in the economy caused by the tax cuts would lead to a lot of new revenue. (3) Most of the benefits would go to average middle-income families, not to the wealthy, as some partisans claimed."

"Unfortunately, here too," Gore continued"every single one of these impressions turned out to be wrong. Instead of creating jobs...we are losing millions of jobs--net losses for three years in a row. That hasn't happened since the Great Depression." Hence too the biggest budget deficits in U.S. history, and"the most dangerous we've ever had for two reasons: first, they're not temporary; they're structural and long-term; second, they are going to get even bigger just at the time when the big baby-boomer retirement surge starts."

From fighting terrorism to global warming, Gore said, what we get from Bush is the same on every issue:"a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty."

Gore says he's not running in 2004, so the press downplayed his speech, but millions of Democrats heard him loud and clear.

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


Here's Al Franken's response to Faux's lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Atrios informs us that Al Franken's book has shot to #1 on Amazon.

I'm sure Al Franken would love to thank the nimrods at Faux for all the helpful publicity, huh?

Posted by Tom at 7:01 a.m. CDTComment


Josh Marshall points us to this fascinating article by Franklin Foer in TNR online. It requires a subscription or that you sign up for a free four-week trial. I would suggest you do the free trial as I did because this piece is definitely worth your time. I knew the vast majority of this stuff but Foer does an excellent job of bringing it all together in one place. Foer makes the argument that the right has a history over the last two decades of deluding themselves into thinking they've found another George Washington or Thomas Jefferson when they've actually found yet another con artist.

Here's just a bit from the beginning to pique your interest:

n April 6, a C-17 transport plane unloaded Ahmed Chalabi in Nasiriya, the Iraqi heartland. For years, Washington conservatives had fantasized about this moment. They hadn't just touted the exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) as a potential player in postwar Iraq but as a world historic figure. In meetings, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Luti described him as the"George Washington of Iraq." Others suggested he could become a George Washington for the entire Muslim world. Writing in National Review about"the president-in-waiting," David Pryce-Jones argued,"[I]f anything like the expectations of Chalabi's program are fulfilled, Arab absolutism can be broken." In The Wall Street Journal, Seth Lipsky pronounced him"a democratic visionary."

His American boosters assumed the Nasiriya stop would be the first event in a chain culminating in a Chalabi presidency. This assumption even permeated Pentagon planning. According to a Knight Ridder report last July, top planners such as Luti and his boss, Doug Feith, believed"Chalabi, who boasted of having a secret network inside and outside the regime, and his supporters would replace Saddam and impose order."

For the most part, these supporters didn't materialize. In fact, they have been so hard to come by that Chalabi has largely stopped trying to get them. Reporters in Baghdad told me that Chalabi no longer bothers holding rallies or advertising for the INC."He has no chance of obtaining" the people's affection, one says. Empirical evidence backs this up. According to The Daily Telegraph, in Kurdistan--a supposed bastion of INC support--only 9 percent of respondents told pollsters they wanted a Chalabi presidency. Even Chalabi's American patrons doubt his public support. They have scaled back his public operations and dismantled his Free Iraqi Forces. As The Washington Post reported in June, Iraq's top civil administrator, L. Paul Bremer, privately told Chalabi and his cadre that they"don't represent the country."

Conservatives should have seen this coming. Chalabi represents the latest incarnation of an archetype: the foreign opposition leader romanticized beyond reason. Everybody knows this romantic strain has afflicted liberals--from admirers of Joseph Stalin, such as Henry Wallace and Edmund Wilson, to glorifiers of Fidel Castro, such as Tom Hayden and Oliver Stone. And everybody knows this because conservatives have long, and justly, chastised the left for what Tom Wolfe famously called"radical chic." During the 1960s, when the right first made this critique, the hardheaded realism that dominated conservative foreign policy prevented it from embracing such hero-worship. But, starting in the 1980s, conservatives, too, began celebrating revolution and insurgency, albeit of the anti-communist variety--a celebration that was enshrined in the Reagan Doctrine. Suddenly, a generation of scruffy Third World guerrilla fighters became right-wing icons.

Josh Marshall even tells us this as well:

Frank quotes Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Luti calling Chalabi the"George Washington of Iraq." I'll do that one better. There's another neocon at DOD who, I'm told, has often called Chalabi the most important Muslim since the Prophet Mohammed.
Boy, W, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, et. al sure did fool themselves, didn't they?

Too bad they took the rest of us -- as well as hundreds of billions of our tax dollars for the next decade -- along for the ride, huh?

And let's not even talk about the astonishing toll of pain and suffering they've inflicted upon thousands of people along the way.

Posted by Tom at 10:02 p.m. CDTComment


Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe today called on US Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate whether White House officials working at the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) solicited a lawsuit filed by a conservative organization to discredit a federal report on global warming. The lawsuit, brought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and filed last week against the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, seeks to invalidate a 2000 report that documents the grave dangers posed by global warming.

Blumenthal called for the investigation after discovering an e-mail sent in June 2002 by an executive at CEI, Myron Ebell, to Phil Cooney, the Chief of Staff at CEQ, thanking Cooney for" calling and asking for our help." The e-mail goes on to suggest strategies for minimizing the problem of global warming, including finding a"fall guy (or gal)…as high up as possible" in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to blame for the report, and indicating that CEI might call for then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to be fired.

"This e-mail indicates a secret initiative by the Administration to invite and orchestrate a lawsuit against itself seeking to discredit an official United States government report on global warming dangers. If White House officials conspired with anti-environmental interests in a court attack on its own EPA report, as this document suggests, it would constitute improper and possibly illegal misconduct that should be investigated and sanctioned promptly," said Blumenthal."Such misconduct would be effectively a fraud on the court. This e-mail demonstrates again how the Administration has consistently demeaned and dismissed powerful scientific evidence of global warming dangers. Now apparently it is seeking to undermine findings that it has formally approved and issued, showing how greenhouse gas pollution damages our health and environment."

Boy, for folks who complain about lawsuits, Republicans have seemingly spent the last three solid years in the courtroom litigating one thing after another, haven't they?

Do you want to bet whether Ashcroft even responds to the letter?

What do you think?

[Link via a tip from Morat]

Posted by Tom at 4:31 p.m. CDTComment

GO READ TBOGG... 08-12-03

especially this and this.

I mean it. Go read it now.

Posted by Tom at 4:19 p.m. CDTComment

247 08-12-03

and still counting.

Here's your California farce update.

Surely the idiots in California behind this recall effort feel like damned fools now, don't they?

Posted by Tom at 4:08 p.m. CDTComment


for not telling the administration what it wanted to hear.

The Iraqi lawyer, Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, who apparently told what was an outrageous lie about the treatment of Jessica Lynch at that hospital was granted asylum immediately and now has a job working for adulterer Bob Livingston's lobbying firm.

Why not the same for Obeidi?

Well, I already told you the answer, didn't I?

His story fit the administration's agenda, Obeidi's suddenly doesn't.

No asylum for you buddy until you change your tune.

[Link via Talking Points Memo]

Posted by Tom at 11:54 a.m. CDTComment


A couple of other links I'd like to pass along:

Paul Krugman's column this morning is quite excellent. He talks about the penny-wise pound foolish fiscal policies of this administration.

Also, you should read E.J. Dionne this morning. He points out that Republicans look like idiots when they insist that criticism of W is unpatriotic. Dionne points out that if that were true, Republicans were damn-near treasonous commies for the eight years of Clinton's presidency.

In short, as the title of the column suggests, he contends Republican can dish it out but they just can't take it.

Of course, we all knew that, didn't we?

Posted by Tom at 10:27 a.m. CDTComment


Boy, this guy is a piece of, um, work. Why in the world would Arnold screw up and hire him to craft his message?

I assume Sipple will be fired by the end of the day, right?

[Links vis Hesiod and Joe Conason]

Posted by Tom at 10:13 a.m. CDTComment


I'm sorry but this is hilarious:

Fox News Network is suing humor writer Al Franken for trademark infringement over the phrase"fair and balanced" on the cover of his upcoming book, saying it has been"a signature slogan" of the network since 1996.

According to court papers made available on Monday, Fox is seeking a temporary or permanent injunction against Franken and publisher Penguin Group to stop them using the phrase in connection with the book to be published next month.

The network, part of the News Corp group, also asked Manhattan Supreme Court for compensatory and punitive damages.

The title of liberal satirist Franken's new book is"Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." At the bottom of the planned cover is the tag line,"A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

Fox claims the use of the phrase is intended to confuse the public and boost book sales.

In the lawsuit, Fox said the network was created"as a specific alternative to what its founders perceived as a liberal bias in the American media."

And we all know how no one except the real meatheads believe that liberal bias junk these days, don't we?

The ultimate irony in all this is that Al Franken's book is probably more"Fair and Balanced" than the average newscast over at Faux.

I don't EVER want to hear the folks over at Faux complain about frivolous lawsuits again -- because that's EXACTLY what their lawsuit is.

Come on, the folks at Faux know that the claim that the book's title is designed to" confuse the public" is disingenuous. The book is satire you humorless troglydytes!

I mean, heck, even your average trailer-dwelling and mouthbreathing Faux viewer at least knows the difference between Al Franken's book and Ann Coulter's book even if they apparently can't tell the difference between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

[Link via Hit and Run (which was just added to the blogroll by the way)]

Posted by Tom at 9:47 a.m. CDTComment


to me! This blog is one year old today.

I was hoping to have had a half a million hits by today but I'm about 13,500 short.

For your entertainment -- and education -- I send you back to my very first post which was, of course, about the impending war.

It still stands up pretty well, doesn't it?

Admittedly, there are things that didn't come to pass but there are more things that did.

And yes, I know, the comments are down for the moment. They have been all morning.

I hope they'll be back up soon.

Update: Comments are back up. Fire away!

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

10:58 p.m. CDTComment


It's beginning to look like Governor Goodhair and the Exterminator aren't going to get their unprecedented midterm redistricting after all.

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

Boy, the secretive nature of this administration knows no bounds, does it?

The Transportation Security Administration is conducting a “witch hunt” to ferret out and discipline employees in the federal air marshal program who have talked to the media, several sources within the program told MSNBC.com. Some air marshals are even being threatened with having the USA Patriot Act, a law enacted to help fight terrorism, used against them. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, denies that any such investigation is taking place.


Shortly after MSNBC.com reported that TSA was pulling air marshals from flights, based on information provided by sources within the air marshal program, an “investigative witch hunt was started,” one air marshal who requested anonymity told MSNBC.com.


One air marshal told MSNBC.com that his entire field office was given an oral briefing and told “that an investigation is under way” and that in order to help find people talking to the media, “the USA Patriot Act was going to be used” to pull home phone and Internet records. Several other air marshals MSNBC.com heard from told similar stories of an investigation under way; one additional air marshal also mentioned that his supervisor had mentioned the use of the Patriot Act.

“If these allegations are true, they show misplaced priorities,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security. “They shouldn’t be going after civil servants doing their patriotic duty; they should be going after whoever made the boneheaded decision and whoever approved it at the OMB.”

Since this administration employs Nixonian secrecy (and so many of the top folks in this administration served in Nixon's administration), I wonder if they'll bring the"plumbers" back from retirement for this one.

Posted by Tom at 5:02 p.m. CDTComment


Boy, now this is pretty eye-opening:

Unknown to most, UNOCAL's partner in the Cent-Gas trans-Afghan pipeline consortium, the Saudi Company Delta Oil is owned by the bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi clans which allegedly have ties to bin Laden’s Al Qaeda.

According to a 1998 Senate testimony of former CIA director James Woolsey, powerful financier Khalid bin Mahfouz’ younger sister is married to Osama bin Laden,. (US Senate, Senate Judiciary Committee, Federal News Service, 3 Sept. 1998, See also Wayne Madsen, Questionable Ties, In These Times,12 Nov. 2001 )

Bin Mahfouz is suspected to have funnelled millions of dollars to the Al Qaeda network.(See Tom Flocco, Scoop.co.nz 28 Aug. 2002)

Now,"by sheer coincidence", former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, the man chosen by President Bush to lead the 9/11 commission also has business ties with bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi.

Thomas Kean is a director (and shareholder) of Amerada Hess Corporation , which is involved in the Hess-Delta joint venture with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia (owned by the bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi clans).

Delta-Hess"was established in 1998 for the development and exploration of oil fields in the Caspian region...In Azerbaijan Delta Hess is involved in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli PSA (2.72%) and the Garabaghli-Kursangi PSA (20%). It is also an equity holder in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline":

"An air of mystery hangs over Delta- Hess, which... is registered in the Cayman Islands. Hess is in no hurry to reveal the terms of the alliance, which it says are subject to confidentiality clauses. 'There's no reason why this should be public information,' a Hess spokesman says." (Energy Compass, 15 Nov. 2002)

Coincidentally, the former Governor of New Jersey is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, together with another prominent member of the board of directors of Amerada Hess, former Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady.

In other words, Delta Oil Ltd. of Saudi Arabia --which is a partner in the Hess-Delta Alliance--is in part controlled by Khalid bin Mafhouz, Osama's brother in law.

And former Governor Thomas Kean not only sits on the board of directors of a company which has business dealings with Khalid bin Mafhouz, he also heads the 9/11 Commission, which has a mandate to investigate Khalid's brother in law, Osama bin Laden.

Cole is also very wrong about Kean no longer having business ties with Mafhouz. Just to prove it once and for all, here's a document listing Kean's name as a member of the Board of Directors of this company in an SEC filing on March 26th of this year (scroll down to"Members of Board of Directors Continuing in Office" about a third of the way down, Kean is at the top of that list).

So, Mr. Cole, now what are you going to say?

Why did you say Kean was no longer involved with Mafhouz? Did you just say it because you were looking for an excuse to absolve Mr."Good Republican" Kean?

Why did you say he no longer had such business ties -- even though you didn't even do the most basic research to see if it was true?

This took me about two minutes to do and involved a google search.

Why didn't you do that?

Update:Dwight Meredith says in comments:

It is my understanding that Kean remains a director (and shareholder of Hess) but that Hess terminated its relationship with Delta about 3 weeks before Kean was named to the 9/11 commission.

I am still looking into the termination of the Hess/Delta relationship and may post on this subject soon.

Mafhouz is one of the bad guys. He is OBL's brother in law. His family ran one of the" charities" that provided Al Qaeda funding. The FBI has labeled that charity a terrorist front organization. He is a named defendant in the suit by the 9/11 families.

At best, the termination of the Hess/Delta relationship 3 weeks before Kean became chairman of the 9/11 commission is a very small fig leaf.

Kean has no business being chairman of the commission. Similarly Gorelick has no business being on the commission either.

They should both resign to be replaced by Gary Hart and Warren Rudman.

I can go for that, Dwight. I too wonder if the relationship with Delta is truly terminated. Either way, this relationship suddenly ending within a few days of Kean being named to head the 9/11 commission is awfully suspicious, isn't it?

But remember, Clinton's Whitewater deal 15 years earlier was sufficient enough for Republicans to raise questions about his integrity. Kean has had business dealings with this guy (who funded al-Qaeda terrorism apparently) within the last year (and very well may still have such relationships) and we're supposed to believe he'll be honest about the involvement of the Saudis in 9/11?


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

RIGHT 08-11-03

Credibility is the Bush administration's Achilles' heel. If the public comes to believe that it cannot trust the administration about its reasons for going to war, about the real costs of the war in human lives and American dollars, about the actual state of the nation's defenses against terror and about the real beneficiaries of its economic policies, the Bush II presidency will be crippled, if not doomed.

This is an administration that is particularly sensitive to light. It prefers to do business behind closed doors, with the curtains and shades drawn. Enormous taxpayer-financed contracts are handed out to a favored few without competitive bidding. We still don't know what went on at the secret meetings between Dick Cheney and top energy industry executives at the very beginning of the Bush reign.

"It seems obvious," said Mr. Gore,"that big and important issues like the Bush economic policy and the first pre-emptive war in U.S. history should have been covered more extensively in the news media, and better presented to the American people, before our nation made such fateful choices. But that didn't happen, and in both cases reality is turning out to be very different from the impression that was given when the votes — and the die — were cast."

The Bush administration has managed to dodge the hard questions and benefit from an atmosphere in which the media and much of the public would rather contemplate Jennifer's navel and Arnold's fading pecs than pursue a possible pattern of deceit at the highest levels of government.

I think those four paragraphs quite accurately describe the present situation, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 1:40 p.m. CDTComment

post up giving the timeline of this dispute.

Fair enough. As I've already said, the tone of the last post was overly snarky but, given his response on the comment board, I felt there was no particular reason to say much else because he snarked back at me on the comment board.

BTW, you'll notice Cole still hasn't called for the resignation of Thomas Kean, the head of the 9/11 commission, yet.

That's what makes Cole partisan and still a hypocrite.

In Cole's opinion it appears that only Democrats with serious conflicts of interest need resign from the 9/11 commission.

Republicans, being pure as the driven snow of course, can do business with prominent Saudis (including bin Laden's brother-in-law Mahfouz who apparently gave money to the terrorist leader as recently as 1999) and still remain"objective" in their investigation of 9/11.


Update: Read the comments for further exchanges between myself and Cole. If anything substantive happens, I'll let you know and might even post on it. However, I've spent far too much time on this than the impressive grand total of six clickthroughs so far from his site merits.

I mean, after all, what's really the point of getting into it with someone if it's not even appreciably increasing your site traffic?

Posted by Tom at 9:47 a.m. CDTComment

notes that it's now been 20 hours since he pointed out that the head of the 9/11 commission has business relationships with bin Laden's brother-in-law, yet John Cole (of the appropriating named blog"balloon juice" for the amount of conservative hot air he spews), who raised cain because a Democratic lawyer on the 9/11 commission is involved in the lawsuit defending the Saudis, still hasn't said anything about this rather important issue.

And Cole has posted many times this weekend since that post and even responded on Atrios's comment boards, so the"it's the weekend" excuse just won't wash in this instance.

He's clearly ducking the issue now.

Gee, you'd think a rigged 9/11 commission in favor of Saudi Arabia would really piss off a Republican who was halfway fair about the investigation of 9/11, wouldn't you?

I guess not.

Welcome to the esteemed pantheon of Republican hypocrites on 9/11, John Cole.

Update: Cole finally responded to Atrios last night in this post, pretty reasonably I might add considering the snarky tone of Atrios (and my post). I was preparing to apologize for the overly snarky tone of my post until I read his post on my comment board.

Never mind.

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

fiscal policy:

Thus, if you pay heed to their votes and not their words, the Republican critique of"big government" is a pure charade.

Though it hardly seems possible, the GOP position on taxes is even more shocking. Understanding why requires a quick, painless look at a few numbers.

Over the next five years, President Bush figures the"big 7" programs will cost, on average, about $1.8 trillion a year.

Over the same period, he says, the revenue the government will collect, not counting Social Security taxes (which both parties say shouldn't be used for current spending, though it is), will average $1.35 trillion a year -- $450 billion a year less than just the"big 7" on which Republicans want to spend more.

Income tax reduction under President Bush accounts for most of this gap.

Since the GOP thinks income tax rates should continually be reduced, they obviously believe we should fund activities they support in one of two ways. First, we can borrow huge amounts from our children (GOP's present plan).

Or, we can at some point raise payroll and other retirement taxes, which means funding government through taxes that impose a greater burden on lower- and middle-income citizens. The income tax, by contrast, is progressive.

Mathematically, these are the only options available, given that Republicans, rhetoric aside, aren't interested in cutting government spending.

This, then, is today's spectacle:"Family values" Republicans are sticking the kids with the bill for current spending while railing fraudulently against the"big government" they support.


Posted by Tom at 3:24 p.m. CDTComment

Here's a WaPo article that describes in excrutiating detail the way the administration oversold the nuclear threat posed by Saddam to make its case in Iraq. No matter what is found regarding other types of weapons, W and the boys lied astonishingly about the nuclear threat.

Furthermore, according to Bob Novak, the administration's weapons shill David Kay (who was on CNN every other day or so during the war who's now in charge of the CIA's effort to find WMDs) will suspiciously announce he's found"evidence" of biological weapons next month:

Former international weapons inspector David Kay, now seeking Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for the Pentagon, has privately reported successes that are planned to be revealed to the public in mid-September.

Kay has told his superiors he has found substantial evidence of biological weapons in Iraq, plus considerable missile development. He has been less successful in locating chemical weapons, and has not yet begun a substantial effort to locate progress toward nuclear arms.

Senior officials in the Bush administration believe Kay's weapons discoveries should have been revealed as they were made. However, a decision, approved by President Bush, was made to wait until more was discovered and then announce it -- probably in September.

I suspect Kay's"revelations" will consist of a complicated document trail and little or no physical evidence of biological and chemical weapons. In other words, this is why W and the boys have been trying desperately to move the goalposts the last few months to say evidence of"weapons programs" is all that's necessary to vindicate their pre-war story. All of this despite the fact they insisted for months there were tons of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq before the war.

Doesn't this sound like the desperate attempt to claim we've found some WMDs we've all been expecting for months?

With this administration's past record, you can expect this"evidence" to fall apart upon close examination, just as the entire WMD case has in the last few months.

The question will be whether a majority of Americans will be bamboozled in the short term, just as they were by Powell's presentation in February.

Or are Americans finally suspicious enough of these guys to question their word the first time they say something?

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 8:46 a.m. CDTComment

here), which I think was the problem. As I said, I don't know a thing about it, I just kept tinkering until it worked -- and it just did.

I highly recommend this if you're tired of your Haloscan comments not working. I suspect most haloscan problems are the fact that the comment system is so dependent on the scripts on Haloscan's servers. I've removed that problem I think. Although, since I honestly don't know a damn thing about this, I'm just guessing. If anyone can set me straight on this, I'd appreciate it. I'm learning this stuff slowly.

Anyway, let me know if you have any problems, but, while you're here, why don't you go and participate in the open thread?

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Update (8-10-03): I've noticed the comment counter isn't working this morning. The comments work but the counter doesn't. I assume they'll work later. We'll see I guess.

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

Several good topics you could chat about today: Colin Powell's now-discredited presentation, the trailers of mass destruction, Ann Coulter's Scaife-purchased phony bestsellers, etc.

Anyway, you can talk about what YOU want to talk about!

So, it's your turn now.

You know what to do.

Posted by Tom at 7:31 p.m. CDTComment

Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N., shall we?

I remember all the triumphant e-mails and posts on my comment boards back in February about how this was a slam-dunk. Boy, what a difference a few months makes, huh? Six months later, Powell's presentation very well may now stand as one of the lowest points in the diplomatic history of the United States.

(Here's a link to a post of mine from February that serves as an index to my February posts about Powell's presentation. If you recall, I wasn't mealy-mouthed at all about the holes in logic and in evidence at the time.)

Posted by Tom at 4:57 p.m. CDTComment

this one, she may be lucky just to get re-elected next year:

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, who gained the national spotlight as Florida secretary of state during the 2000 presidential recount, was booed several times at a town hall meeting about the Medicaid prescription drug plan being considered by Congress.

Hundreds of people showed up with detailed questions for Harris at the Bradenton Kiwanis Hall on Thursday night. The Sarasota Republican spoke for nearly half of the allotted hour and then didn't answer the crowd's questions until all had been asked, the Bradenton Herald reported in Friday's edition.

The lines at the microphones were long. The boos were loud.

The crowd's mood already was testy before the meeting began. Security guards and Harris' staff confiscated literature handed out by opponents that included the drug plan's details and a chart of Harris' voting record since she began her term in January.

Gee, Katherine Harris acting heavy-handed?

Say it isn't so!

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

2:26 p.m. CDTComment

points us to this story that provides us with the answer: not nearly as many as it seems.

What I think the key question is for Ann Coulter and all these other right-wing writers is, why is there a dagger in the New York Times best-seller list next to their books?" Mr. Blumenthal said in reference to the small symbol that appears next to Treason, which rocketed to the top of the Times list. According to the fine print at the bottom of the Times list, the dagger denotes"that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders."

"That means that someone is buying their book in bulk to put them on the best-seller list. These are bogus best-sellers," Mr. Blumenthal told The Transom."I want to know why [Ms. Coulter] won't come clean and explain which rich right-wing sugar daddies are putting her on the best-seller list."

So who's buying up all these books?

"I don't know. I don't even know if she knows, but I know she's benefiting, and I know that all the other right-wing authors whose books have no merit in any way, on substance or as fact, are simply being put on there through a well-organized campaign involving vast resources of money of wealthy Republicans," Mr. Blumenthal said."Ann Coulter is a phony best-seller."

That's something I'd always suspected so it doesn't exactly surprise me.

After all, as we all know by now, Republican conservatives these days are all about appearances.

Posted by Tom at 12:28 p.m. CDTComment

read aloud (sort of) by Republican Senate leader James Inhofe on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

As you've probably guessed, Inhofe distorts his words in a most dishonest fashion.

That's just what Republicans do these days I'm afraid.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:14 a.m. CDTComment

post up about how many Americans can't seem to tell the difference between the"false representations of entertainment" and the real world.

It's a good post. Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 8:24 a.m. CDTComment

bites the dust. I love this story, especially this paragraph:

The Bush administration has said the two trailers are evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding a program for biological warfare. In the white paper made public in May, it detailed its case even while conceding discrepancies in the evidence and a lack of hard proof.
Oh no, sparky, it's worse than that. The president himselfopened his yap about this one back at the end of May in Poland:

KRAKOW, Poland, May 30 -- President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have"found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war.

In remarks to Polish television at a time of mounting criticism at home and abroad that the more than two-month-old weapons hunt is turning up nothing, Bush said that claims of failure were"wrong." The remarks were released today.

"You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons," Bush said in an interview before leaving today on a seven-day trip to Europe and the Middle East."They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two.

"And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," Bush said."But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."

Why didn't the NYT say the obvious today and discuss how this revelation makes W a liar? Why didn't they do that? It seems only fair at this point, doesn't it?

I also have to share this part of the article with you too:

Senior administration officials have said repeatedly that the White House has not put pressure on the intelligence community in any way on the content of its white paper, or on the timing of its release.
Yeah, right.

After the events of the last few months, who in their right mind believes that?

(For my posts on this all the way back in June go here, here, here, and here.)

Posted by Tom at 10:20 p.m. CDTComment


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Posted by Tom at 2:44 p.m. CDT

invite to BloggerCon too.

And, no, I decided I'd pay my house payment in October instead.

They're about the same amount after all -- and I don't think the mortgage company would want me to skip it regardless of what a wonderful time I'm sure it will be.

If you want a refresher, this is that ridiculous conference that happened last year too and involved Glenn Reynolds, a bunch of righty bloggers and, my goodness, there's poor lonely Josh Marshall!

Anyway, I may make a presentation on blogging at a Social Science Conference in the spring -- although I haven't made up my mind yet.

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

Pew Report.

W now leads an unnamed Democrat in this poll by only 5 points. My guess is that's almost within the margin of error for the survey. That means it's essentially already a dead heat -- and people don't even know who the nominee is yet!

As I've said a million times (or it seems like it), this race will be decided on the economy and how well W's economic plan has helped it. (See below for some sense of just how well W is doing in fulfilling his promises regarding job creation via his taxcuts.)

I think at this point W's prospects for re-election (yes, yes, I know he didn't really win the first time but let's just drop that little dispute for now) are no better than 50-50 folks.

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


looks pretty good so far. My review copy came yesterday. I'm looking forward to reading it. I've only read the introduction so far but it sounds quite promising. Here are a couple of good paragraphs to whet your appetite:

If Americans have a common fault, however, it's our tendency to suffer from historical amnesia. Too many of us have forgotten, or never learned, what kind of country America was under the conservative rule that preceded the century of liberal reform. And too many of us have no idea whose ideas and energy brought about the reforms we now take for granted.

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a forty-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couple fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people.

Remember, you can order the book through Amazon by using the link above. I also suspect that Buzzflash will have it as a premium soon.

I'll post a review of it when I finish reading it sometime in the next couple of weeks.

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Posted by Tom at 5:38 p.m. CDT

promises regarding the latest tax cut?

Why, Dwight Meredith tells us (permalinks bloggered, scroll to"Job Creation Scorecard for July"), just 2,382,125 or only 476,425 jobs per month between now and December.

Now why do you suppose Republicans want to change the subject from the flaccid economy and the snake oil of W's tax cuts?

Why indeed.

[Link via Atrios]

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

here you go.

It is astonishing that these folks have jobs that are any better than working the register at the QuikMart on the corner, isn't it?

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Posted by Tom at 1:30 p.m. CDT

put their names on the ballot.

It appears that it's all over for Davis folks.

I also think that Republican hopes for capturing the office just disappeared as well. Of course, I'm sort of with Atrios on this, the whole thing is such a ridiculous farce, it might as well be as enormous and ridiculous a farce as possible, eh? There are likely to be hundreds of people running by the end of the week.

Heck, a blonde and busty porn star, Mary Carey, is going to run for the office as well.

I assume California Republicans realize how stupid they look now for pursuing this, don't they?

There's no way they can look good in this whole fiasco. If they win (which, with well-known Democrats on the ballot isn't likely to happen), a Republican Governor gets to decide how to make the painful cuts that Davis and the legislature just put off with their latest cowardly budget deal. And that was the best case scenario for them.

No matter what happens, they look like idiots for even pursuing this recall effort and for dragging California through this expensive charade.

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Posted by Tom at 10:39 a.m. CDT

running for Governor of California. I always thought he would. He's got too big of an ego to turn this down.

Let the political fun begin. Schwarzenegger's past regarding womanizing makes Bill Clinton look like a choirboy so this could get awfully interesting pretty quickly folks. Expect some"bimbo eruptions" soon. And I expect he'll look pretty ridiculous on the campaign trail by next week or so.

For example, I wonder how many campaign appearances he'll make in which he can't even remember Davis's name?

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

exactly what we want to hear -- you got that?

How's that for restoring honor and dignity, eh?

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Posted by Tom at 5:20 p.m. CDT

no additional discussion at all.

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Posted by Tom at 2:37 p.m. CDT

wristslap for driving away from the scene of an accident, eh Jack Cafferty?

Who the hell likes that guy, anyway?

What idiot at CNN hired him?

[Link via Atrios]

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

reasonable objection (no permalinks, scroll down to"Tom Spencer gets it wrong") to my post about W's mendacity, suggesting that some believe that Clinton took us into Kosovo on a lie, contending that exaggerations about the scope of the killing by Serbs (the administration claimed 100,000 Albanians had been killed at the time, whereas it appears now"only" 3,000 or so were actually killed) formed a large portion of his case for intervention at the time.

Longtime readers will remember that, in my early days on this blog, I had righties who were trying to throw this one in my face on the comment boards, claiming I was being hypocritical and that my opposition to the war was pure politics because I clearly had supported that war in Kosovo, right? I surprised them when I told them on the board that I was opposed to Kosovo in 1999 but certainly could see the humanitarian arguments for it, just as I could see the humanitarian arguments for invading Iraq. I also noted that the administration wasn't saying much about the humanitarian arguments at the time, preferring to play up the military threat posed by Saddam.

However, it is hilarious to recall how Republican leaders like Tom DeLay and Trent Lott wanted to"give peace a chance" back in 1999 and tried to claim the Kosovo was"wagging the dog" back then. These same folks, of course, were calling the president's critics earlier this year disloyal for saying exactly the same things about IraqWar Part II.

Nevertheless, having granted this point, let me say that if Clinton misled the American people on the scope of the killing in Kosovo, that was shameful and wrong. However, at least he was honest about the basic reasons we went to war and the humanitarian case for the intervention in the first place. Clinton didn't lie or carefully craft weaselly-sounding words about damn-near EVERYTHING in his case as W clearly did. He didn't say that the Serbs were an"imminent threat" or that they possessed WMDs or that they were tied to terrorists or any such unproved (and apparently false) claptrap as W did about Iraq. In fact, Clinton could've actually made a better case that the Serbs were an imminent military threat to the U.S. than W was capable of making about Iraq this year because, if I recall correctly, the Serbs had a much larger and more effective military in 1999 than Iraq did in January of this year!

Anyway, if Clinton did consciously mislead the American people on the scope of the killing in Kosovo to make his case for intervention, it was wrong. However, if you're comparing the two, Clinton certainly is in the"minor leagues of mendacity" compared to the whoppers told by W to get his IraqWar. W and the boys only recently discovered the humanitarian reasons for the war when it became clear that the other stories they had been peddling for months were utterly false and weren't checking out at all.

In Kosovo, at least Americans could agree on just why the hell we were there, whether they agreed with it or not. I'm really not sure at this point you could say the same thing about Iraq. As damn-near everything the administration claimed before the war turns out to be false, many Americans are beginning to realize the depths of this administration's mendacity.

And, honestly David, you might want to back off on the"scandal-ridden Clinton administration" rhetoric. It makes you sound like you're part of the irresponsible and illogical Clinton-hating crowd. And, unfortunately for Clinton-haters, most of the pseudo-scandals of the 1990s (Whitewater, File-gate, etc.) have long since been debunked and most Americans actually look back on that period as if it were some sort of farce being played out on our television screens. Many of us can't help but think"what the hell was the big deal about a blowjob?" Clinton shouldn't have done it of course but it shouldn't bring down an entire government, right? As the libertarian I'm sure you can grant me that one, right?

Furthermore, I'd also be willing to argue that W's administration on any given day proves itself to be of much lower moral character than Clinton's administration even at its lowest nadir during the dark days of the Lewinsky scandal.

And I suspect history will eventually bear me out on that last assertion.

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

Here's Gene Lyons's latest column!

Bush finally owns up

Gene Lyons

Back in 2000, George W. Bush made"personal responsibility" one of his campaign themes. Everybody understood that the phrase had two meanings: first, the traditional Republican one of disciplining unruly children, whiny minorities, complaining women, indolent workers and lesser breeds outside the country club; second, an implied vow to keep his pants on in the Oval Office. Only in the third year of President Junior’s court-appointed term do we learn that it has another meaning as well: When Bush says he takes"personal responsibility" for something, it means he’s run out of phony alibis, so sit down and shut up. Dutifully headlined"Bush Takes Responsibility for Iraq Claims" by The Washington Post, here’s the entire exchange from the White House transcript of the president’s press conference:"Q. Mr. President, you often speak about the need for accountability in many areas. I wonder then, why is Dr. Condoleezza Rice not being held accountable for the statement that your own White House has acknowledged was a mistake in your State of the Union address regarding Iraq’s attempts to purchase uranium? And also, do you take personal responsibility for that inaccuracy?

" THE PRESIDENT: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely. I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace. And I analyzed a thorough body of intelligence—good, solid, sound intelligence—that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power."We gave the world a chance to do it. We had—remember there’s—again, I don’t want to get repetitive here, but it’s important to remind everybody that there was 12 resolutions that came out of the United Nations because others recognized the threat of Saddam Hussein. Twelve times the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions in recognition of the threat that he posed. And the difference was, is that some were not willing to act on those resolutions. We were—along with a lot of other countries—because he posed a threat.

" Dr. Condoleezza Rice is an honest, fabulous person. And America is lucky to have her service. Period."

Even a legendary shirker like Junior could hardly avoid taking responsibility for what came out of his own mouth. But he could barely hide his annoyance at the reporter’s impertinence. Imagine if the question had been put to him as sharply as Bob Somerby suggested on his Daily Howler Web site:

" Mr. President, we have been told that Dr. Condoleezza Rice did not read last October’s National Intelligence Estimate and therefore did not know that the State Department doubted the claim that Iraq sought uranium in Africa. We’re also told that she didn’t read CIA memos on this subject. Are you concerned when your national security adviser is so poorly informed on such a subject? And do you now believe what you said in your State of the Union—that Saddam Hussein ‘recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa’?"

Of course, nobody believes the good doctor failed to do her homework. The White House simply enlisted the smaller falsehood in service of the larger one. In a courtroom, Bush’s answers would be called non-responsive. He trotted out the same"12 resolutions" and"sound intelligence" over and over, as if they trumped the facts on the ground.

There were, of course, no U. N. resolutions calling for"regime change."

If we had a press corps instead of a band of celebrity courtiers, somebody would have asked him how he could send American soldiers to kill and die in Iraq without reading, as the White House says he did not, the 90-page National Intelligence Estimate. Exactly what, then, did he study before parroting Tony Blair’s hysterical warning that Saddam could strike within 45 minutes?

Bush told us that not to invade and occupy Iraq would be tantamount to"national suicide." Now he says he’s confident documents will prove that Saddam had"weapons programs." Hardly the same thing. He has faith that documents will also prove the Iraqi dictator’s"links" to al-Qa’ida, another inflammatory charge that The Washington Post reports the National Intelligence Estimate he failed to read contradicted.

From a purely psychological point of view, the most fascinating aspect of a Bush press conference is watching this under-qualified aristocrat veer from mild panic to smug arrogance within a few sentences. Here’s another example of Bush-style"personal responsibility."

Why aren’t his economic policies producing jobs? Try to believe your president said this:"Remember on our TV screens—I’m not suggesting which network did this—but it said, ‘ March to War,’ every day from last summer until the spring —‘ March to War, ’ ‘March to War.’ That’s not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, ‘March to War’ all the time."

And whose fault was that? Anybody but Junior’s.

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Posted by Tom at 11:40 a.m. CDT


Maureen Dowd suggests a plausible theory for why word was leaked last week that Powell was resigning effective January 21, 2005. While Dowd's columns often create more heat than light, this one is pretty interesting.

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


Insty admits an error! Unfortunately, he is such a big jerk about it that he ends up looking like quite an ass by the end of the post. I hate to put it that way but Glenn, who routinely mischaracterizes liberal arguments so they fit his preconceived notions, actually has the nerve to blast Mark for a typographical error.

You know, I've been blogging for almost a year and that's the first time to my knowledge that Insty's admitted he was wrong about something. I wondered how long it would take -- now I know.

So I guess we should expect him to admit a mistake about once per year.

Mark Kleiman, the blogger who got Insty to make his annual admission, also remarks

Glenn is right to point out that the conventions of blogging, which require links to sources, provide more safeguards against misquotation than the conventions of mainstream journalism.
Well of course Mark that assumes Insty will actually link to you. In my disagreements with him he frequently mischaracterized what I was saying but refused to link to me so his readers couldn't see it for themselves. That practice is as dishonest as anything I've seen the Moonie-owned Washington Times or Rush Limbaugh do. I know many other liberal bloggers who can tell similar stories.

So Mark please don't overcongratulate him for admitting he's wrong once per year and working hard to get his quotations right. If you were someone he considered a"small fry," my experience has demonstrated he wouldn't give a damn one way or the other.

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


Charles Dodgson makes some excellent points about just what's wrong with the"dumbshit theory" -- you know the theory floating around that Saddam destroyed his weapons but lied about it to keep us all guessing. Therefore, of course, according to those pushing this rather pitiful theory, Saddam's to blame for the invasion.

You really should read this one folks.

(I told you my rather major problems with this theory a couple of days ago.)

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Posted by Tom at 7:51 p.m. CDT


Holy cow! Terry at Nitpicker points us (his permalinks are bloggered) to this article by Matt Bivens of The Nation that points out our hypocrisy in saying this war with Iraq was about combatting terrorism.

Bivens notes this is especially true since we've just put a fundamentalist shiite in charge of Iraq's government -- from a party that helped found Hezbollah no less:

Iraq has its first temporary president, and his name is Ibrahim Jafari. (He'll hold the job for a month: It's a rotating presidency, handed off like a relay baton between nine" chairmen", each of whom was in turn chosen by a USDA-approved 25-member Governing Council.) Jafari hails from the Shiite fundamentalist party Al Dawa.

Dawa? Would that be the same Dawa that carried out a series of Reagan-era bombings in Kuwait of, among other things, the American and French embassies and the residential housing of American Raytheon employees -- bombings that killed five people and injured 80? The same Dawa that took inspiration from the Iranian Islamic Revolution and the Ayatollah Khomenei? The same Dawa that founded and set up Hezbollah in Lebanon? Why yes, it would. Only now, after three decades of guerrilla and terrorist violence, they've surfaced to demand a share of ruling post-Saddam Iraq, and claiming they now believe in democracy and rule of law. And we trust them on this because ... well ... who can keep track of all these guys anyway?


To recap: When Libya was up to head the UN Human Rights Commission, it was a national outrage (and indeed it was). But when the secretive fundamentalist sect that created Hezbollah, bombed an American embassy, and kidnapped Americans is invited not just to join but to run a US-created organization, that's just us bringing democracy.

And, let's see, why was this war with Iraq a bad idea?

I can't quite remember.

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Posted by Tom at 11:12 a.m. CDT

HUH? 08-04-03

Boy, the administration sure has lost its discipline on leaks and staying on message, haven't they?

White House and State Department spokesmen on Monday denied a Washington Post report that Secretary of State Colin Powell and his top deputy had given notice that they wouldn’t serve a second term should President Bush win re-election.

Powell, who turned 66 in April, has made clear that he has many interests beyond government service.

“THERE’S NO basis to the story at all,” said State Department spokesman Philip Reeker. “There was no such conversation.”

At the White House, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, echoed that view, saying, “The conversation didn’t happen.”

And a U.S. official close to Powell told NBC that the report was “nonsense.”

Ooopsy. This is the second one of these in two weeks. First, Jim Baker and now this.

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Posted by Tom at 5:35 p.m. CDT


Both Atrios and Josh Marshall have posts up today about whether there is a workable parallel between Bush-hating and Clinton-hating.

Atrios contends that the wingers who claimed to hate Clinton because he violated certain moral principles have been exposed as hypocrites because they support W unfailingly -- and W does much the same things:

I find the comparisons between"Clinton hating," which started before the guy even took office and was associated with numerous bullshit conspiracy theories and fake scandals pushed by congressional committees and mainstream journalists/opinion writers and"Bush Hating," which have everything to do with his actual policies, rather silly.

Ask a wingnut why they don't like Clinton and they'll claim he's a rapist, a drug runner, a communist spy, etc... etc... It rarely has much to do with any consistent or sensible evaluation of his policies. And, to the extent that they ever did they've been rendered moot by their unwavering support for Dear Leader's embrace of many of the things they claimed to hate Clinton for.

In Josh's opinion, the Clinton-hating and resulting impeachment were part of a new approach to politics on the part of the GOP during the 1990s:

The conceit of official Washington is that the 'Clinton wars' were an inane time-wasting battle between a president with no morals and outlandish partisans with unhinged brains. It was, in this view, as though politics had simply stopped for half a dozen years or skidded off the rails into something that was utterly alien to politics, in the sense that politics has anything to do with issues and governance and so forth. Let's call this view, for the lack of a better word, Quinn-Broderism. Blumenthal's point is that the entire episode was deeply political, precisely about politics and concrete political issues, an effort on the part of one side to go outside the conventional political system and engage in a sort of political guerilla warfare. Defending Clinton, which many people have seen as the central aim of Blumenthal's book is, I think, actually quite secondary to sustaining that larger point.
I would contend that impeachment was just the beginning of an ugly change on the part of the GOP to a"win at all costs" mindset that, since 1998, has become pervasive within the upper echelons of the party. It has resulted in an amoral"just win baby" attitude.

From impeachment to Florida 2000 to the 2002 midterms to the Gray Davis recall you see a party that now no longer stands for much of anything except for"hey look, we won, nanny, nanny, boo-boo." It doesn't matter if they have to destroy the village that is American politics in order to save it, they're quite willing to do so -- and have on several occasions over the last five or six years.

That's what's so frightening about IraqWar Part II. With this recent slide into amoral insanity by the GOP, it no longer is beyond the realm of possibility to suggest that this war was also about giving the president a"win" at an important time in his presidency and, correspondingly, to provide a distraction from his astonishingly disastrous record in nearly every important category of analysis.

In fact, it's no longer too big of a stretch to even suggest that the GOP and the administration could do something like this largely to get the important big"win."

And that's one thing that clearly separates Clinton from W. Regardless of what you think of Clinton, I don't think anyone would believe that Clinton would take us into a war disingenuously for largely domestic political reasons.

You really can't say the same thing about W, can you?

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Posted by Tom at 5:31 p.m. CDT

GOT WAR? 08-04-03

It's official. If Bush wins re-election, Colin Powell will step down as Secretary of State. Now, admittedly, Powell has essentially ruined his reputation with his pathetic enabling of the warmongers in this administration but can you imagine what it would be like without him?

And W wants to appoint the serial liar / incompetent Condi Rice (you've noticed that the controversy around the uranium claim keeps getting closer and closer to Condi's door, haven't you?) or neocon warhawk extraordinaire Paul Wolfowitz to replace Powell. Heaven help us if either Condi the dishonest bumbler or Wolfowitz the warmonger become the Secretary of State. I think it's safe to say we'll get another war or two are in our immediate future with either Rice or Wolfowitz running the State Department.

How's that for an election issue?

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Posted by Tom at 10:39 a.m. CDT


I must admit I was quite surprised by this post on the comment board. Is my marking of every 10,000 visitors to the blog childish and is it becoming tedious? I'll admit that when I started the practice back in December (after four months of blogging), I was just happy to have gotten 10,000 visitors.

At that time, I thought I'd be doing it once every couple of months, not once per week. I certainly don't mean it to sound pompous or like I'm bragging when I note these milestones. I honestly am just meaning to thank people for dropping by for a visit. I am proud of my numbers but I'll admit they are nowhere near stellar or incredible. I mean, heck, I know many liberal bloggers who get more visits in a day than I get in a week! Or even two weeks!

Anyway, I've always thought it was nice to thank your readers for their visits. I guess it could get tedious. Some bloggers do it and some don't. I'll admit that I'm probably the only one that does it consistently every 10,000 visits. Skippy used to do it but I don't think he does anymore.

What do you think? Let me know your opinion on the comment board.

I can certainly stop doing it I guess.

Let me know what you think.

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


Boy, you should read this article about the chaos that is Afghanistan.

When you finish the article, ask yourself if we really could afford to divert our resources to Iraq.

As expected (and predicted in this space for months before the war), the war in Iraq has made us less safe, not more.

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


I had my 330,000th visitor a few minutes ago via a link from Buzzflash. It was only six days ago that I had my 320,000th visitor.

I've also had more than 470,000 hits as well since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always folks, I appreciate your patronage of this blog. I do sincerely hope you'll come back again.

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

IT'S ABOUT TIME FOR... 08-03-03

the Brickyard 400.

More later.


We'll see.

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Posted by Tom at 12:51 p.m. CDT

KARLPALOOZA '03 08-03-03

Roger Ailes tells the story of Karlpalooza '03 as only he can.

Boy, don't you get the idea this spoiled rich kid is going to be in congress some day?

After all, he'd be the perfect representative for Orange County, wouldn't he?

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Posted by Tom at 10:02 a.m. CDT


my college buddy, you answer it. Absolutely you should go on Fox News when they call you! I know I would.

My goodness Chuck. You certainly would do just fine. I suspect you'd have given them an excellent earful about W's ill-considered third August month-long vacation!

I've been interviewed on television once and radio three times -- all in St. Louis during 2000 regarding my book on the Veiled Prophet in St. Louis. I also did three booksignings.

Admittedly, I spend 10-12 hours per week essentially doing public speaking so nothing really bothers me at all with regard to appearing in front of people.

As I've said already Chuck, my attitude is that when opportunity knocks, you answer.

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Posted by Tom at 10:16 p.m. CDT

NASCAR DADS? 08-02-03

I'm sorry but this NASCAR Dads article is ridiculous. I know plenty of NASCAR fans who are liberal Democrats.

I mean, heck, the people they're describing here I would refer to as the"mouth breathers." You know them: male, southern, lower middle-class to working-class whites who, as I've said before will vote for W even if he grows horns, pointy-ears, a sharp pointy tail and begins speaking obscene verse in iambic pentameter between now and the election.

These folks are members of the NRA, listen to Rush Limbaugh, currently live in trailer parks and just barely graduated from high school before beginning their lifelong job at the Jiffy Lube or the GM parts shop. They're also the folks who get interviewed every time a tornado goes through a town in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi or Alabama.

I grew up with many folks like this, so I know whereof I speak.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch the Busch Series Race.

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Posted by Tom at 7:10 p.m. CDT

IF THIS IS TRUE... 08-02-03

we look like damned fools to the rest of the world.

In fact, it actually becomes a rather tragic question of just who's the bigger idiot, Saddam for pretending he had WMDs or W for believing him.


If they find no WMDs, I can tell folks in the administration are going to try to use this testimony to get themselves off the hook. They'll try to blame Saddam for the war -- it's his fault, you see, because he kept pretending he had WMDs.

However, that argument is utter bunk. The administration is the culpable and immoral one here. You don't invade another sovereign nation just because you think it has WMDs. You have to know this -- not guess about it. I mean, heck folks, wars cost thousands of lives. This one has probably already cost at least 10-15,000 lives.

Therefore, a leader has to be dead certain about the facts of the matter before getting involved in a war. The price of war is simply too great to make such a decision lightly.

At least that's the process a real leader with a grasp of basic morality would follow.

Of course, we all know that W doesn't fit that description, does he?

I'm really beginning to think W made this extremely important decision for all of us like he has made most decisions in his life, without giving the matter that much thought at all.

[Link via Talking Points Memo]

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Posted by Tom at 11:17 a.m. CDT


The official who read the 28 pages tells The New Republic,"If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to Al Qaeda, they would have been in good shape." He adds:"If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight."

[Link via Talking Points Memo]

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


You really should read this column by Bob Herbert. To say that it's dead-on doesn't quite do it justice. For example, he and I agree that Iraq is a"fool's errand."

Go read it.

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Posted by Tom at 4:57 p.m. CDT


Roger Ailes points us to thisNation story about how Richard Perle is apparently even charging media outlets for interviews these days!

During and after his chairmanship, Perle used his insider status to demand fees for appearances on a number of foreign broadcasts, which included British, Canadian, Japanese and South Korean television. While paying interviewees is common practice in some countries, a number of media outlets made exceptions for Perle."We did pay Perle because of his position [in a] prominent advisorship to the Secretary of Defense," says a European correspondent who, like most journalists interviewed, requested anonymity because of network discomfort at publicly discussing payment policies. Fees ranged from under $100 to $900--minor sums to someone like Perle, but federal regulations covering officials in his capacity make no distinctions based on amount.
After all the revelations about Perle over the last few months, why in the world is this guy still in government service?

Roger gets a good shot in at the end of the post:

Advantage: The Nation. After all, it got Perle to respond for free.

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



Boy, and if you read that post it's quite astonishing what this company is accused of doing -- and Glenn still makes that offensive comment. Not that I'm accusing Glenn himself of being a racist but that's quite an outrageous comment to append to that story.

Sometimes you really wonder if Glenn engages his brain before he begins moving his fingers. Or, as many of us have suggested, you really wonder if he even reads the stuff he links to or even the excerpts of things he posts to his blog anymore.

This post perhaps is evidence that he doesn't.

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Posted by Tom at 10:59 a.m. CDT


Atrios is back to full-time status and, in an excellent post this morning, makes a damn good point about how the administration is trying to move the goal post for success in the IraqWar:

This is just something which has been so obvious from the beginning. They've never displayed the slightest bit of concern about finding whatever it is because it could be dangerous, but only because they need to justify their invasion.


And, for those who are now claiming that the Bush administration was always talkings about"weapons programs" and not"weapons," don't you remember the final double dog ultimatums we kept giving Saddam? You know, we kept telling him that he had to"disarm" or we were going to invade? Disarm WHAT?

It is just damn-near evil how these guys want to try to pretend they didn't keep talking about"disarming" Saddam and how that was what the war was all about back in February and March.

And they really think Americans are stupid enough to fall for that, huh?

Well, of course the mouth-breathers who would support W even if he grew horns, pointy-ears, a sharp tail and began speaking obscene verse in iambic pentameter will believe it, but who else will?

This really would be hilarious if it hadn't already cost thousands of Iraqi lives, hundreds of American and British lives, $70B and counting, and left an entire nation in chaos and ruins.

We'd be hearing jokes on Leno every night about this absurd attempt by the administration to rewrite very recent history except that, of course, it's too damn serious and frightening to even joke about, isn't it?

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Posted by Tom at 8:56 a.m. CDT


Krugman's column this morning is an excellent discussion of the shape of things to come in Republican fiscal irresponsibility.

I do wonder how long we can run a deficit that is 1/3 of all federal spending, don't you?

I wonder what the fake economist over at NRO will have to say about this one.

And, by the way, it's great that our economy actually grew a bit last quarter (2.4% annual GDP), but we had a quarter last year in which it grew much more (4% actually) and it didn't make much difference. It's also nice to hear that unemployment dropped, until you realize that drop is due to the fact that 550,000 Americans stopped looking for jobs.

It would be nice to think we're out of the woods economically -- but don't count on it folks.

We've heard all of this before -- for the last two years in fact.

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

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