Friday, October 31, 2003

James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal writes:

If He Were a Republican, This Would Be Hate Speech...

It turns out the Associated Press account of an Iowa brawl between staffers for Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean, which we noted yesterday, was rather sanitized. Deanie Hunter Allen alleged that the two unnamed Gephardtians "used a derogatory slur," as the AP's Dept. of Redundancy Dept. put it.

The Sioux City Journal adds some crucial detail: "The Dean staff member, 24-year-old Hunter Allen, who is openly gay, said he was called a 'faggot' by a Gephardt staff member after being shoved and escorted out of the event."

OK, I'll bite:

It's hate speech. Absolutely.

Assuming he actually said it (he denies doing so), it's an utterly unacceptable slur.

Any more questions?
(UPDATE: I just deleted the raw, barely edited version of this post, which little gremlins decided to put up without my consent. Read this instead:)

USA Today reports that because of the preposterous way homeland security money is distributed, New York and L.A. still don't have enough equipment -- while Zanesville, Ohio, has

a $13,500 thermal imager to help find victims in heavy smoke. An $800 thermal heat gun to test the temperature of gases that might ignite. A $1,250 test kit for deadly nerve agents such as VX and mustard gas. A $1,300 monitor to gauge oxygen and carbon monoxide levels in the air. Four air packs at $3,800 each, with masks and extra bottles. Four chemical suits at $875 apiece. And much more.

... "We were poor as church mice," says Gene Hanning, hazardous materials coordinator for southeastern Ohio's Muskingum County (pop. 85,000), where Zanesville is located. "This has been better than any Christmas."

And how target-rich an environment is Zanesville?

There's no nuclear power plant, no big chemical plants, no major airport — none of what homeland security people call "critical infrastructure." There's a small steel processing plant, a couple of medical centers and a power-supply station in a nearby county. But that's about it.

Zanesville once was known as the "Pottery Capital of the World." Today, its biggest claim to fame is its unusual Y-shaped bridge, with a stoplight in the middle, that spans the Muskingum and Licking rivers....

In the past decade or so, their worst incidents included a farmer pinned in a grain silo, a city worker trapped in a trench and a vacant building that collapsed.

"We don't have any 100-story buildings," Chief Dave Lacy says. "But a four-story building falling on people is going to have the same effect."

Blame the aid formula:

...each state receives 0.75% of the $2 billion pot regardless of population, accounting for nearly 40% of the money. The rest is divided among the states on a per-person basis. Other factors, such as population density, potential targets and threat levels, are not taken into consideration.

Here's the preposterous result:

Because 40% of the money is divided equally among all states, the least populous state, Wyoming, gets the most money per capita: $35.31 per person in 2003. California gets the least: $4.68 per person. New York, the third-largest state, gets $5.05 per person; Ohio gets $5.59 per person.

Some terrorist might go after Wyoming or after Zanesville, Ohio. But even William Bennett would play it safe and bet on New York or L.A.

If you must eat while the R[epublican]s control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the judiciary, you might want to consider becoming a vegetarian about now.

--Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, Bushwhacked

They always announce the outrages on Friday afternoon, because few people read the Saturday papers or watch the Saturday TV news.

--Paul Krugman in the current New York Review of Books

In Initial Finding, F.D.A. Calls Cloned Animals Safe as Food

Milk and meat from cloned animals are safe to consume, the Food and Drug Administration has tentatively concluded, a finding that could eventually clear the way for such products to reach supermarket shelves and for cloning to be widely used to breed livestock.

The agency's conclusions, which could face some opposition, are being released today in advance of a public meeting on the issue on Tuesday in Rockville, Md. Agency officials said that after receiving public comments, they hope by late next spring to outline their views on how, if at all, cloning would be regulated, including whether food from cloned animals should be labeled.

But if the preliminary conclusion stands, labeling would not be needed and there would be little regulation, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in an interview....

The major safety concern is that cloning results in many failed pregnancies and abnormal babies, raising the risk that milk or meat from such animals could be tainted....

--New York Times

Well, the Times did get this story into today's paper (though it was tucked in the back of the A section, on page A20). But I watched network news last night and didn't see anything about it, and that's where it'll probably be discussed ... tonight, the night of the official announcement. And well, gosh, it'll be Friday night tonight, won't it?
This is something to look forward to...


By Ron Suskind

Simon & Schuster, January 2004, ( 384 pages, $26.00 )

... ISBN: 0-743-25545-3

Suskind's the guy who wrote this for Esquire. Surely you remember:

..."There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."...

Violence may be surging in Iraq, but there's another thing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says Iraqis fear: President Bush getting booted from office.

Wolfowitz, speaking at Georgetown University, said a worried resident of the southern city of Najaf asked him in July at a town hall meeting, "What's going to happen to us if George Bush loses the election?"

Wolfowitz didn't mention the Democrats, but he suggested the question sums up Iraqi fears that a new team in the White House would abandon them....

--New York Daily News

So what's the point? That it would be a moral betrayal of the Iraqis to have an '04 election at all?

"Bush boom"? Paul Krugman says don't be so sure. We've appeared to be out of the woods before when we really weren't. A great column.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Your liberal media in action....

Dennis Miller, the sardonic comedian who delivered a fake newscast on "Saturday Night Live" and told jokes in the "Monday Night Football" booth, will host a prime-time political talk show on CNBC.

The network said Thursday it had inked Miller to a multiyear deal for the political chat show, set to begin in January.

...Miller, a registered Republican, has become increasingly known for his political views. He bashed anti-war activists on a "Tonight" show appearance last spring, calling filmmaker Michael Moore a "stupid moron" for criticizing President Bush at the Academy Awards.

A few months later, Miller was the opening act at a Bush fund-raiser in California, earning him a ride on Air Force One and the president's limousine. He said of Bush's Democratic opponents: "I haven't seen a starting nine like that since the '62 Mets."

There was talk among some Republican political strategists of running Miller as an opponent to California Sen. Barbara Boxer.


I posted a brief excerpt from this Newsweek column by Robert Samuelson a couple of weeks ago, but today seems like a better day for it, given the fact that Republicans are declaring that today's GDP report completely and vindicates Bushonomics and perfectly positions Bush for '04:

...To win in 1972, Nixon revved the economy. All presidents would like to do this, because all know they’ll be judged—rightly or wrongly—on the economy’s performance. Few succeed, because the economy is so big and unruly. Nixon beat the odds. Facing stubborn inflation, he embraced wage-price controls in August 1971. With inflation suppressed, easy money and a big deficit stimulated demand. Unemployment fell from 6.1 percent in August to 5.5 percent by the next fall. In November, Nixon trounced George McGovern, who won a meager 37.5 percent of the vote.

Could Bush—in different times and using different tools—repeat Nixon’s feat? ...

...Fully 60 percent ($210 billion) [of the 2003 Bush tax cut] is crammed into the 15 months before the election. This was no accident. Some tax cuts (the higher child credit, the bigger 10 percent bracket, marriage-penalty relief) expire after the election. In 2003 and 2004, the child credit is $1,000; from 2005 to 2008, it’s $700....

...History’s final verdict of Bush will depend less on election returns than on whether his policies ultimately succeed. We can’t know that yet. But Nixon does offer a cautionary lesson, because wage-price controls proved calamitous. Once they ended, inflation exploded (8.7 percent in 1973 and 12.3 percent in 1974) and a harsh recession followed. “The tragedy was that they didn’t have to do anything,” says Matusow. “The economy was on schedule to deliver by 1972. They panicked.” Such a judgment is surely one Nixon parallel that Bush doesn’t covet.
There's a movement to recall yet another Democratic governor in the West -- Arizona's Janet Napolitano -- but I don't think it'll get very far.

First off, it's being spearheaded by Charles Goodson, chairman of the neo-Confederate Southern Parties of the Southwest.

In addition, one of the reasons he and his fellow recallers want Napolitano out of office is that she bent the rules slightly to have Arizona's Squaw Peak renamed for Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian woman who was a member of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company and who was killed in the Iraq War (she was a close friend of Jessica Lynch and died after the same ambush).

Arizona's Board on Geographic and Historic Names did vote to waive a requirement in this case that a person be dead for five years before the state can name anything in that person's honor. And people disagree on the need to rename landmarks with "squaw" in their names -- some say the word is offensive, while others say that's not etymologically true.

But really, now: Do we not want to honor Lori Piestewa?

Charles Goodson is a fool. Darrel Issa he ain't.
So I guess a "gunman" breached security at the Cannon House Office Building in D.C. today, creating a real scare until it was discovered that his gun was a toy. Over at National Review Online, the bloggers at The Corner are horrified -- horrified that one member of Congress who was interviewed about the incident was Carolyn McCarthy:

...Why select her from the 435 members of Congress? Why, because her husband was the victim of gun violence, of course!

Fortunately, the story turned out to be a false alarm. Otherwise CNN's viewers would have been subjected to who knows how much fear-inspired, uninformed anti-gun speculation.

This example of liberal media bias is so great, one suspects even Eric Alterman might notice.

Yeah -- what horrible bias! To interview a woman whose husband was brutally gunned down on the subject of an apparent rampant gunman! It's almost as bad as when those liberals at CBS talked to victims of the Oklahaoma City bombing about the World Trade Center! How dare they! That was anti-terrorist bias!
The Bush boom.

The Bush boom.

The Bush boom.

Oh -- did the Republicans neglect to mention that they think there's a Bush boom?

It's really just one quarter of (admittedly impressive) growth, generated by the only aspect of the recent tax cut that actually put money in the pockets of ordinary citizens -- the distribution of tax-credit checks to parents.

That was a one-time-only event -- and the money seems to have largely been spent.

All his life George W. Bush has been one of the luckiest SOBs who ever lived; the timing of the business cycle might continue his run of luck. But the Repubs aren't going to see whether that happens. They're going to try to pound this phrase into everyone's head until it's stuck like a bad jingle.
You really need to see the chart Kevin (Calpundit) Drum found in an Economist article. It shows CEO pay per dollar of company profit over the years. Kevin says:

As the chart shows, during the 80s CEO pay nearly doubled for a given level of corporate profitability, and during the 90s it increased again almost 4x. Overall, a CEO who generates $10 million in net profits today is paid about 7x what a CEO who generated exactly the same amount was paid in 1980.

As he says of CEO pay, "it's not based on performance in any defensible way." Damn straight.
I guess the coverage of the '04 presidential election is going to be about as high-minded and serious as the coverage in '00. This is from Denver's Rocky Mountain News:

Hair cuts into Kerry's support

Democratic senator needs to trim his long locks, some younger voters say

Is it John Kerry's Beatles-era haircut that doesn't appeal to students sporting today's shorter styles?

A waffle breakfast for the Massachusetts senator and Democratic president hopeful drew only about 10 people at the University of Colorado on Tuesday, even as several thousand rallied for political rival Howard Dean outside.

..."I'm not sure why people don't see the light," said Jason Meininger, who heads Kerry's CU effort.

...Photographs on the wall showed Kerry with hair combed neatly over his ears. One showed him with John Lennon.

"I think that's just him. He's had long hair for a long time. That's who he is, and that's what's so great about John Kerry - he's not afraid to be himself," said Meininger, who has short hair....

So, what's the reporter's sample set for the hypothesis that hair is what's holding Kerry back? One kid who actually did respond to Kerry's breakfast invitation and who doesn't really seem to care much about his hair, plus a Dean campaign worker:

"He does need a haircut," said Eric Morgan, a graduate student in history who was eating a waffle. "I think if he trimmed it back, it would be nice."

Michele Buckley, a leader of the campus Democrats and an organizer of the Dean rally, said the former Vermont governor's short haircut helps on campus.

Good Lord -- people actually get paid to write stuff like this.
I think all you need to know to get the measure of National Review Online's Donald Luskin is that a few months ago, in his own blog (with the paranoid-friendly title "The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid"), he published this rant.

The issue was a meeting between high government intelligence operatives and Michael Drosnin, author of best-selling but utterly dotty books that claim to find God's will in the letters of the Hebrew Bible arranged in the form of a word-search puzzle. Luskin wasn't the least bit upset that people paid by our tax dollars were wasting their time meeting with Drosnin; he was more exercised at the fact that "the leftist press" (i.e., The New York Times) and "trained-doggy bloggers" had the audacity to imply that meetings between this modern-day Madame Blavatsky and important government officials weren't a good idea. To find such meetings unwise was "snobbish," "condescending," and "snotty." (The pages provided here show the sort of thing Drosnin purports to find in the Bible; as Brendan MacKay, his best-known debunker, points out, clues of the kind Drosnin finds so meaningful in the Bible can be found just by chance in other texts -- want to find JFK's assassination in Moby-Dick?) Luskin went on to split hairs maniacally, complaining that as liberal writers retold the Drosnin story a "meeting" became a "briefing" (in Luskin's word, this is a distinction fraught with sinister meaning) and then "a briefing of 'the Pentagon' -- the whole damn building, it seems" (Luskin's dictionary apparently does not include the word synecdoche).

There's a word for this: nuts.

And now Luskin has sent his flying monkeys (a white-shoe law firm) after Atrios, the best blogger out there, in part because Atrios responded to Luskin's obsession with the alleged high crimes of Paul Krugman by calling Luskin a stalker (months after Luskin called himself a stalker). Atrios was motivated by this Luskin blog post, in which he described the Travis Bickle-like moment in which he queued up to get a book signed by Krugman, his arch-nemesis (Luskin on Krugman: "I have looked evil in the face. I've been in the same room with it. I don't know how else to describe my feelings now except to say that I feel unclean, and I'm having to fight being afraid.")

If Luskin has any case at all, it's with regard to reader-comment pages appended to Atrios's blog -- his lawyer cites this one and this one -- but is that our new standard for libel? That saying "That dude is just completely fucking insane" now constitutes "straying beyond mere expressions of opinion and making false and defamatory statements of alleged fact"? Aren't right-wingers the guys who complain all the time about "frivolous lawsuits"?

Sorry to take up so much space with what might seem like "inside baseball." But in the online world there has to be some sort of reasonable accommodation of what any half-intelligent reader can recognize as flippant, discontented grumbles rather than willful misstatements of legal or psychological fact. This suit is wildly inappropriate. Atrios doesn't deserve it. I can't think of anyone, including the nastiest right-wing bloggers, who deserves it.
First it was Fort Stewart. Now Fort Knox is apparently providing substandard medical care to military personnal, including some returning Iraq War veterans, according to UPI:

...I joined to serve my country," said Cpl. Waymond Boyd, 34. He served in Iraq with the National Guard's 1175 Transportation Company. He has been in medical hold since the end of July.

"It doesn't make any sense to go over there and risk your life and come back to this," Boyd said. "It ain't fair and it ain't right. I used to be patriotic." He has served the military for 15 years.

Boyd's knee and wrist injuries were severe enough that he was evacuated to Germany at the end of July and then sent to Fort Knox. His medical records show doctor appointments around four weeks apart. He said it took him almost two months to get a cast for his wrist, which is so weak he can't lift 5 pounds or play with his two children. He is taking painkilling drugs and walks with a cane with some difficulty.

...Command Sgt. Major Glen Talley, 57, is in the hospital at Fort Knox for heart problems, clotting blood and Graves' disease, a thyroid disorder. All of the problems became apparent after he went to war in April, he says. He is a reservist.

Talley said he was moved to Fort Knox on Oct. 16 and had not seen a doctor yet, only a physician's assistant. His next appointment with an endocrinologist was scheduled for Dec. 30.

"I don't mind serving my country," Talley said. "I just hate what they are doing to me now." Talley has served for 30 years. He was awarded two Purple Hearts in Vietnam.

...After returning from Iraq, some soldiers spent about eight weeks in Spartan, dilapidated World War II-era barracks with leaking roofs, animal infestations and no air conditioning in the Kentucky heat.

"I arrived here and was placed in the World War II barracks," one soldier wrote in an internal Fort Knox survey of the conditions. "On the 28th of August we moved out. On 30 Aug. the roof collapsed. Had we not moved, someone would be dead," that soldier wrote....

There are claims of two-tiered care:

Also like Fort Stewart, soldiers at Fort Knox claimed they are getting substandard treatment because they are in the National Guard or Army Reserve as opposed to regular Army. The Army has denied any discrepancies in treatment or housing.

Right-wingers like to say that Clinton had no respect for the military, and the feeling was mutual. So what do these troops say?

"I have never been so disrespected in my military career," said Lt. Jullian Goodrum, who has been in the Army Reserve for 16 years. His health problems do not appear to be severe -- injured wrists -- but he said the medical situation at Fort Knox is bad. He said he waited a month for therapy. "I have never been so treated like dirt."

(Thanks to BuzzFlash for the link.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

They're still lying about the "Mission Accomplished" banner!

The White House said on Wednesday it had helped with the production of a "Mission Accomplished" banner as the backdrop for President Bush to declare major combat operations over in Iraq on May 1....

"They asked if we could help take care of the production of the banner and we were more than happy to do so because this is a very nice way to pay tribute to our sailors and aviators and men and women in the military who were on board that ship for a job well done," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan....

McClellan told reporters the banner had been sought by the U.S. Navy to honor the end of the Lincoln's lengthy deployment at sea.

"It was the Navy, the people on board the ship who had the idea of this banner and made the suggestion because they wanted to have a way to commemorate the fact that these sailors and the crew on board the ship had completed their mission after a very lengthy deployment," he said....


From the May 4 Washington Post:

Still, it's also impossible to agree with the banner that was draped near Mr. Bush on the carrier deck, proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." Aides say the slogan was chosen in part to mark a presidential turn toward domestic affairs as his campaign for reelection approaches.

From USA Today:

The White House communications office, well-known for the care it takes with the backdrops at Bush's speeches, created the "Mission Accomplished" banner in the same style as banners the president uses in other appearances, including one in Canton, Ohio, just a week before the carrier speech. That banner, with the same typeface and soft, brush-stroked American flag in the background, read: "Jobs and Growth."

And, to repeat, from the May 16 New York Times:

Media strategists noted afterward that Mr. Sforza and his aides had choreographed every aspect of the event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush's right shoulder and the "Mission Accomplished" banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot. The speech was specifically timed for what image makers call "magic hour light," which cast a golden glow on Mr. Bush.

(Last three links via Atrios and Kicking Ass.)
SENATOR ZELL MILLER OF GEORGIA, the nation's most prominent conservative Democrat, said today he will endorse President Bush for re-election in 2004 and campaign for him if Bush wishes him to. Miller said Bush is "the right man at the right time" to govern the country.

The next five years "will determine the kind of world my children and grandchildren will live in," Miller said in an interview. And he wouldn't "trust" any of the nine Democratic presidential candidates with governing during "that crucial period," he said. "This Democrat will vote for President Bush in 2004."

Miller, who is retiring from the Senate next year, has often expressed his admiration for Bush. He was a co-sponsor of the president's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003....

--Weekly Standard

Thanks for that big fat show of party loyalty, schmuck.
Sadly, No! has found the text of Paul Bremer's televised Ramadan address to the Iraqi people. Here's an excerpt. Warning: this is not a joke. must not lose hope.  Especially during Ramadan you must not lose hope.
You must not lose hope because you have seen the evil one go.
You, the Iraqi people, whom the evil one was bound to protect, he instead tortured, he instead murdered. 
You, the Iraqi people, whom the evil one was bound to feed, he instead starved. 
You, the Iraqi people whom the evil one was bound to lead in peace, he instead led into foolish wars, wars which poured your blood into the sand. 
When the people of the world asked the evil one to stop he sneered. 
When the people of the world demanded that the evil one stop, he threatened them and fought them.
And when the evil one fought them, he fought them in your name, with your money and your blood and the blood of your fathers, your mothers and your children. 
But when the enemies the tyrant drew close, he took your money and he fled your justice like a common thief and coward....

Er, this reads like something concocted by a man locked in a windowless room for three days with a large supply of hallucinogens and either a King James Bible or an extensive collection of Star Wars fan fiction. (Or perhaps a Bremer underling drafted it after a White House staffer angrily phoned to veto an earlier draft: "NO! You have to say 'evil'! POTUS wants the word 'evil' in there! You have to put in more 'evil's!")

And no, this is not a hoax -- I gave you the direct link, but you can get to the transcript by clicking on the central link the official site of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Oh, and by the way, it was first broadcast last Friday. Can we all agree that it ain't working?
I guess the next thing we’re going to hear is that the sailors told him to wear the flight suit and prance around on the aircraft carrier.

--General Wesley Clark, commenting on George W. Bush's claim that sailors put up the "Mission Accomplished" banner at his May 1 photo op, as quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

(Thanks to Kos for finding the quote.)
This is odd -- does the Bush administration want to send astronauts back to the moon? A site called SpaceDaily says yes -- and not just the moon, but eventually Mars:

Bush May Announce Return To Moon At Kitty Hawk

A report by Space Lift Washington and published by NASA Watch suggests a major new space policy initiative is under consideration and may be announced by US President George Bush at celebrations planned for the centenary of flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina December 17th....

Space Lift's Frank Sietzen quoting Washington sources writes that a central recommendation maybe the "resumption of manned lunar flights to develop advanced technologies that can support U.S. astronauts working beyond Earth orbit to not only the Moon, but eventually to near-Earth asteroids and Mars."

The Space Lift report further added that: "in an early phase of the meetings, manned Mars expeditions were considered too expensive and risky to adopt as a central goal for the civil space program"

However, Bush was said to being "urged to factor in future interplanetary manned flight capabilities as part of the justification for a return to the moon."...

The SpaceDaily article links to this story, which comes from a site that looks fairly responsible. So maybe this is true.

I guess GWB is looking to take on that JFK glow. Or maybe there are contracts in all this for Halliburton.

What? You want to know how we're going to pay for manned missions to the moon and Mars when we already have a gazillion-dollar deficit? Well, not to worry -- it isn't supposed to cost any money at all!

According to Space Lift Washington, President Bush may announce at Kitty Hawk a return to manned lunar exploration but without any specific massive new funding, forcing NASA to get serious about what it wants to do with it considerable human spaceflight assets and decades of experience.

So I guess all NASA has to do is cut waste, fraud, and abuse and we can have a huge new manned space program practically free! And probably more tax cuts!
Opposed to affirmative action in college admissions? Then you shouldn't object to this:

Senate Democrats Tuesday proposed requiring colleges to report data on two popular admissions policies -- preferences for alumni relatives, known as legacies, and for students who apply early -- that tend to favor affluent white students over low-income minorities.

Under a bill filed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was himself a legacy admission to Harvard University, colleges would have to report on the race and economic status of first year students who are relatives of alumni or were admitted under early-decision programs that require students to enroll in the school if they are accepted early....

--Wall Street Journal article reproduced at Free Republic

Good for class-traitor Kennedy.

Also supporting the bill, according to the article, is John Edwards, whose father was a millworker. The article also notes, perhaps surprisingly, that Trent Lott (whose father was a pipefitter) has criticized legacies. But

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican and chairman of the Senate education committee, isn't seen as likely to back the measure.

Gregg attended Columbia while his father attended Yale, so he's not, strictly speaking, a legacy -- unless you go down to the prep-school level (father and son both attended Phillips Exeter).

(If you're wondering, I'm a truck driver's son and I went to Columbia. I'm not a legacy.)
A new Quinnipiac poll has a lot of Democrats breathing down Bush's neck:

Looking at possible 2004 presidential matchups, Bush leads Clark 47 -- 43 percent. Bush leads other Democratic contenders, but his margins have slipped since September 17:

* 48 - 43 percent over Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, compared to 52 -- 41;

* 49 -- 43 percent over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, compared to 53 -- 38 percent;

* 49 -- 43 percent over Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt, compared to 51 -- 39;

* 48 -- 42 percent over former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, compared to 53 -- 38;

* 50 -- 42 percent over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, compared to 52 -- 42.


We take young men, throw them into a dangerous situation without adequately preparing them, give them weapons, then sit back and do next to nothing as they're routinely attacked. Big surprise: some of them react to the attacks by retaliating indiscriminately, killing civilians....

An American convoy of about eight vehicles was traveling east toward Falluja, on a road where United States patrols are often attacked. Two bombs planted in the center median exploded, damaging one of the vehicles but not stopping the convoy's progress, witnesses said.

Still heading east, the convoy began to fire, shooting at several vehicles heading southwest, away from the patrol, on a nearby road, said Amir Ahmed Saleh, a passenger in a vehicle on that road.

The convoy's targets included a minivan carrying employees of Iraq's state oil company, Mr. Saleh said. He was a passenger in a second minivan being used by the oil company.

The minivan in which Mr Saleh was riding was ahead of the minivan that was shot, and Mr. Saleh was unhurt.

The American fire devastated the minivan, which crashed into a lamppost by the side of the road, Mr Saleh said.

Four people in the minivan died, and two were severely wounded, Mr. Saleh said....

Hassan Hussein, who lives across the road from the spot where the minivan crashed into the lamppost, corroborated Mr. Saleh's account, as did Abbas Hussein, one of Mr. Hussein's neighbors. At least two other cars were also hit, killing two more people, the men said.

"There was an explosion," said Mr. Badewi, the mayor. Referring to the American troops, he added, "They accused some people in their cars of shooting at them, and they opened fire on them."

Colonel Khamis, the police chief, said of the American forces: "When they're subjected to attack, they start shooting indiscriminately. The minibus was heading to Ramadi — they didn't have any link with the issue."...

--New York Times

If this account is accurate, I'm not condoning what the U.S. soldiers did. But I do blame their commander in chief and his immediate subordinates. The fish stinks from the head.
More U.S. soldiers have died in combat in Iraq since May 1, when President Bush declared an end to major combat operations, than died during main phase of the war, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

...The 115th combat death occurred on Monday - 114 died prior to May 1 - during the wave of bombings in the Iraqi capital. A typically terse statement was issued on Tuesday by the Department of Defense:

"Sgt. Aubrey D. Bell, 33, of Tuskegee, Ala., was killed in action on Oct. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq. Bell was at the Al Bayra Police Station when his unit came under small arms fire and an improvised explosive device detonated at his location. Bell was assigned to the 214th Military Police Company, Alabama National Guard."

Similar brief statements are posted almost daily at the U.S.-led coalition's press information desk in the Iraqi capital....

--Knight-Ridder story

(Again via Billmon.)
"If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens."

--Trent Lott on Iraq, as quoted in The Hill


(Thanks to Billmon and TBOGG.)
The president's lie about the "Mission Accomplished" banner has now been widely exposed (here's The New York Times; here's AP), but Lucianne Goldberg (or whoever ghostwrites the snippy copy at her Web site) thinks the exposure of the lie is the product of a vast conspiracy:

Borking The Banner: MSNBC reporter Norah O’Donnell seemed to have some DNC help with her Rose Garden question yesterday when she tried to pin down Dubya on where the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the Abe Lincoln came from. He said the ship's crew made it as a comment on their own mission not his. The White House issued a semi-demi-mini-pullback later. Score one for the dems' efforts to neutralize the dreaded flight-suit footage in the upcoming campaign....

New slogan for the Republicans: THE TRUTH IS JUST A DEMOCRATIC PLOT.
Oh, those Bush judicial nominees....

Federal appellate nominee Claude Allen told a Senate committee Tuesday he didn't mean it as a slur against homosexuals when he used the word "queer" while working as a press aide to a conservative Republican senator.
Allen also said he was "conflicted" about a 1983 filibuster mounted by his then-boss, Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, against a proposed federal holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"It was the most difficult day for me in my life," said Allen, who if confirmed could become the second black appeals judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "I believed that Dr. King deserved a holiday."

...During Helms' campaign against former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, Allen was quoted as saying Hunt was vulnerable because his campaign could be "linked with the queers." He also was quoted as saying the Hunt campaign could be connected with homosexuals, labor unions, radical feminists and socialists....


He'll get a pass on "queer," because for a decade or so a lot of gay people have been trying to take the word back and use it defiantly. Now it's fairly mainstream (hence Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), but the word was a slur at the time and he knows it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff ...

--President Bush at his press conference today

The most elaborate — and criticized — White House event so far was Mr. Bush's speech aboard the Abraham Lincoln announcing the end of major combat in Iraq. White House officials say that a variety of people, including the president, came up with the idea, and that Mr. [Scott] Sforza [of White House communications director Dan Bartlett's staff] embedded himself on the carrier to make preparations days before Mr. Bush's landing in a flight suit and his early evening speech.

Media strategists noted afterward that Mr. Sforza and his aides had choreographed every aspect of the event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush's right shoulder and the "Mission Accomplished" banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot.

--Elisabeth Bumiller, "Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights," New York Times, May 16, 2003 (available here via CNN)

I don't recall anyone from the White House disputing this story when it appeared. So Bush was lying.

(And Media Whores Online notes that, according to MSNBC's Bill Press, "Senior Navy officials now confirm the sign was in fact produced by the White House.")
Former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman, often regarded as a lone moderate in the Bush administration, is writing a book calling for Democrats and Republicans to work together.

"It's My Party, Too: The Education of a Moderate" has a tentative publication date of 2005. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The public is turned off by the increasingly hard-line stances both parties are taking," Whitman said in a statement issued Tuesday by her publisher, the Penguin Group. "The leaders must recognize the gap they are creating between themselves and the majority of the electorate." ...



Of course, I don't think she's quite ready for the abuse that's going to be heaped on her from the right when this book comes out -- any more than Tom Kean, her fellow moderate Republican and a Jersey gubernatorial predecessor, is ready for what he's going to face soon if he doesn't march in Bushie lockstep (already, here's John Podhoretz at the New York Post saying Kean "seems to have confused his position with that of the Sun King" because he's dared to ask King George II for 9/11 documents).

Every movement conservative in America will sneer at Whitman book. (And, alas, regardless of how nasty she is to Dems, every prominent Democrat who reads it will probably praise it.)
I guess this means she can now join the Justice League of America, or the pro wrestling circuit, or maybe the Wu-Tang Clan:

President Bush gave his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, a new job description Tuesday: the White House's "unsticker."

The White House recently set up, under Rice, a new National Security Council oversight group over Iraq.

...Bush was asked what changed with the creation of Rice's new group. He did not directly answer the question, but suggested her Iraq oversight was a natural outgrowth of her job description.

"The role of the national security adviser is to not only provide good advice to the president, which she does on a regular basis," the president said during a Rose Garden news conference, "... but her job is also to deal inter-agency and to help unstick things that may get stuck. That's the best way to put it. She's an unsticker."

With Rice, arms crossed in front of her chest, watching from the sidelines, Bush added, to laughter: "Is she listening? OK, well, she's doing a fine job."


"The Unsticker." Not quite as catchy as, say, Ghostface Killah, but, well, maybe if she spells it "Tha Unstikka"....
Turkey slams US "ineptitude" in request for troops to Iraq

ANKARA (AFP) - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul charged that the United States had been inept in handling a request for Turkish troops to be sent to neighbouring Iraq to help its forces there, Anatolia news agency reported.

"Of course, there is ineptitude here. First they came, very enthusiastic, and said 'please do not be late' and then they saw that there are many different issues. They have many hesitations themselves," Gul was quoted as telling reporters....

The Turkish parliament authorized the government on October 7 to send soldiers to Iraq, but US officials have since failed to soften the Iraqi Governing Council's objections to the plan....

"We are not going to undertake anything as long as there are hesitations... Everything concerning us should be very clear, everybody should say 'yes,'" Gul said.

He stressed that it was up to Washington to persuade the Iraqi leadership.

"They are supposed to convince those who they themselves have appointed...."

How can this possibly be happening during the reign of God's Own President, George W. Bush, The Most Moral Man (Besides Reagan) Who Ever Lived?

Crime rising from 1990s' record low

Crime across the USA continued to tick upward in 2002 for the second straight year after record lows in the 1990s, according to a new FBI report that cites increases in rapes, homicides and burglaries.

The number of rapes reported by U.S. law enforcement agencies last year was up 4.7% to 95,136; homicides were up 1% (to 16,204) and burglaries increased 1.7% (to 2.2 million), the FBI national crime report says. Vehicle thefts were up 1.4%, but other property crimes — larceny-thefts and robberies — were down slightly, the report says....

Well, don't worry -- I'm sure conservatives will find a way to demonstrate that this is just a delayed reaction to the rampant lawlessness of Bill Clinton, who, along with his wife, is the cause of all evil things in the universe.

And even though the FBI reports that

The American Northeast had the lowest crime rate, with 2,889 serious crimes per 100,000 people. The South, the highest: 4,722 crimes per 100,000 people

no doubt John Lott will find a way to use the new statistics to reinforce his message that increased gun ownership reduces crime.

On that subject, I always enjoy looking at crime statistics broken down by state, like those the FBI generously supplies here. The Bureau has statistics on ten categories of crime. Let's compare the rates per 100,000 population of Bible-belt, gun-friendly, conservative, traditionalist Texas and commie-liberal, morally decadent, gun-grabbing New York State:

Rate Per 100,000 Inhabitants:

[Overall] Crime Index:

New York: 2,803.7

Texas: 5,189.6

Violent Crime

New York: 496.0

Texas: 578.6

Property Crime

New York: 2,307.7

Texas: 4,611.0

Murder And Non-Negligent Manslaughter

New York: 4.7

Texas: 6.0

Forcible Rape

New York: 20.3

Texas: 39.1


New York:191.3

Texas: 172.5

Aggravated Assault

New York: 279.7

Texas: 361.0


New York: 400.4

Texas: 976.1


New York: 1,660.1

Texas: 3,163.4

Motor Vehicle Theft

New York: 247.2

Texas: 471.4

Ten categories, and New York beats Texas in nine of them, in most cases handily. And Hillary Clinton's one of our senators! There must be a computer glitch somewhere....
The New York Post and the Daily News, whose perpetual tabloid war has heated up recently, have separately arrived at the same solution for our woes in Iraq:

Just kick ass!

Here's what a Post editorial says today:

In Iraq, Coalition forces face a determined and resourceful foe - one that operates outside the realm of civilized behavior.

The recent attacks are believed to have been carried out by "foreign agents" - al Qaeda & friends - or by Saddam Hussein loyalists. Or some combination thereof.

They are well-armed.

They appear to be a sizable force.

This leaves only one course for Washington.

America and its allies cannot pull
any punches.

They must not shy away from action for fear of inciting Arabs and Muslims.

And here's the Daily News:

There is an alternative to merely staying the course - take the gloves off altogether.

We've been playing a little too nice in Iraq. We've been pacifying more than we've been taking care of business. We've been more culturally sensitive than is entirely a good thing for the safety of our troops. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it himself: Our aggression is insufficient. We're not punching hard enough.

Sunday's hotel assault, it is reported, was known by intel to be imminent. Yet local officials conceded that no particular precautions were taken. Not to put too fine a point on this, but: Why the hell not?

It has now been nearly six months since the President declared major combat operations to have concluded. It's time to declare them resumed.

What? And rework the Bush administration's narrative arc, according to which we won a great victory for freedom last spring and all these attacks are just signs of "desperation"?

Monday, October 27, 2003

I've added three blogs to the links list -- blogs I probably should have added a long time ago:

* Max Sawicky's MaxSpeak

* Pandagon

* World O'Crap
Upset by the attacks in Iraq? Just keep telling yourself it's the product of ... desperation. Say it over and over and over again. As Billmon explains, that's what the Bush administration does.

OK, I haven't read Wesley Clark's Winning Modern Wars. Maybe it's not what the title suggests it is -- maybe it's much more about Wesley Clark the presidential wannabe than about war. But the thrust of Max Frankel's review in this past Sunday's New York Times seems to be that the book is meretricious, duplicitous, and utterly without merit merely because it was written with an election in mind:

...the general cannot camouflage the partisan thrust of his polemic. His deft review of the battlefield tactics that won Baghdad in less than a month is merely the preface to a bitter, global indictment of George W. Bush. The president and his administration are condemned for recklessly squandering a brilliant military performance on the wrong war at the worst possible time, diverting resources and talent from the pursuit of Al Qaeda, neglecting urgent domestic needs and dissipating the post-9/11 sympathy and support of most of the world.

...the war in Iraq, though generally well fought, was a costly diversion. ''Taking down Saddam became a hobbyhorse'' for the group around Rumsfeld even before they achieved authority over the Pentagon. And they exploited 9/11 as ''a gift-wrapped opportunity'' to try to ''clean up the Middle East.'' So instead of concentrating on a ''knockout blow'' against Al Qaeda, they turned the focus to Iraq and let the terrorists scatter from Afghanistan.

As portrayed by Clark, the attack on Saddam Hussein -- without evidence to link him to Al Qaeda -- was not only wrong but deeply cynical. It bespoke a cold war mind-set of assigning terrorists a state sponsor, a ''face'' that could be more easily attacked. ''It was almost certain to be successful. It emphasized U.S. military strengths and built on a decade of preparation for a refight of the gulf war.''

The benefit of toppling Hussein is only faintly acknowledged: ''All else being equal the region and the Iraqi people were all better off with Saddam gone. But the U.S. actions against old adversaries like Saddam have costs and consequences that may still leave us far short of our objectives of winning the war on terror -- or, in themselves, may actually detract from our larger efforts.'' (Don't be fooled by those conditional ''mays''; the general knows how to protect a rhetorical flank.)

Obviously, I have a problem with Frankel's contempt because I agree with every point he ascribes to Clark. But what bugs me is that Frankel seems to be suggesting that it's simply inappropriate to write a campaign book full of criticisms of the president you'd like to unseat.

The danger, I guess, is that voters might actually vote for president based on candidates' positions on real issues if candidates are permitted to write pointed books in which they discuss those issues.

We can't have that. Presidential elections aren't supposed to be about issues -- they're supposed to be about which candidate gets along better with the journalists covering him; they're supposed to be about which candidate embarrasses himself by switching to "earth tones" after getting clothing tips from a female adviser; they're supposed to be about which candidate is more outraged that a former president was fellated in the White House by a woman not his wife.
Here's a fine, thoughtful, angry post on the Terry Schiavo case. It's from a Salon blog with a flippant name (World O'Crap), but don't let that fool you.

Cited at WO'C is this article, which originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune. An excerpt:

There is also no good way to determine if a patient in a persistent vegetative state feels pain or suffers.

"In terms of what exactly a patient is aware of you can't quite know what he is thinking," said Dr. Jeffrey Frank, director of neurointensive care at the University of Chicago.

"What you can do is know the extent of the brain injury and understand that if they have any kind of awareness it might be very primitive."

That raises the question of whether a patient suffers more by having some type of minimal awareness of being bedridden, kept alive artificially and unable to connect to his environment, or by being allowed to die.

"Their discomforts may be very primitive and poorly understood by the patient depending on the extent of their brain injury," Frank said. "But patients do suffer. I would say they suffer more by the life-sustaining kind of treatments than they would from just being allowed to die peacefully."  

But sustain-life-at-all-costs absolutists don't seem to care much about suffering, do they?

I should really stop posting on this subject, though -- at least until I've absorbed some more information. The Terry Schiavo Information Page at Abstract Appeal looks like a good place to start.
Newsweek's new poll says that, if you include leaners, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark trail Bush by a mere 6 percentage points (and Lieberman and Kerry are down by 7 and 8, respectively). The numbers are at Polling Report.

And while I'm ragging on The New York Times, let me describe the complete contents of yesterday's Times op-ed page:

* A sanctimonious article by Slate's William Saletan chiding pro-choicers for not adequately acknowledging "the value of a fetus."

* A piece by a former Reaganite who urges George W. Bush to "stay the course" on bellicosity and tax cuts, like his heroic ideological forebear, the Gipper.

* A genuinely loopy Thomas Friedman column in which Tom urges the expansion of NATO to include Israel, Iraq, and (mostly for the swarthy and therefore expendable troops) Egypt -- a idea that sounds as if it arose when Rush Limbaugh slipped some OxyContin into one of Richard Perle's souffles.

(Oh, yes -- there was also an utterly unfunny and pointless drawing by Steven J. Newman.)

No word on whether the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and the New York Post will respond with an analogous "all-liberal Sunday."
...the (much improved) New York Times....

--Andrew Sullivan, 10/24/03

I can see why Andy feels that way -- yesterday Joel Brinkley of the Times rewrote Bush administration talking points for this article telling us that the glass is far more than half full in Baghdad:

...When school reopened on Oct. 1, hundreds of parents, afraid for their children, waited out front at the end of the day to walk their children home. Now very few do.

On Friday evening, the American authorities lifted the curfew on Baghdad starting early Sunday morning, saying life here was returning to normal. Across the city on Saturday, numerous Iraqis agreed and provided ample evidence. Streets swarmed with people shopping and socializing. Coffee houses were packed. Families strolled; vendors clogged the sidewalks.

...At the Ratidain state bank, Hussein Salman, an accountant, sat on a bag holding eight million dinars, or $4,000, in small bills. He was waiting to deposit it — something he would have thought twice about before the war.

"It's safer to use banks now because there's more stability," he said. One reason for the stability was the American M1 Abrams tank outside the front door with its gun pointed at the street. Inside, around Mr. Salman, the lobby teemed with three dozen people waiting for a teller. Before the war, "it was never crowded," he said. "Almost nobody came here."

To be sure, significant security problems remain....

Yeah, they sure do.

Here's the latest Times update:

Over 200 Are Wounded at Red Cross and 4 Police Posts

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 27 - A series of blasts shook Baghdad early today, including a suicide attack on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and bombings at five Iraqi police stations that punctuated two days of bloody violence in this capital city.

Iraq's police chief and deputy interior minister, Ahmad Ibrahim, said at a news conference that 34 people were killed and 224 were wounded in the attacks. He said 26 of the dead were civilians and eight were police. Sixty-five policemen and 159 civilians were wounded in the blasts, he said....


Today the White House spin points that show up in the Times are economic. They're on view in the paper's lead story (or at least in the headline and lead paragraphs:

Gains in Wages Expected to Give Economy a Lift

On balance this story says the glass is half full, and quite possibly on its way to overflowing. The headline did what it was supposed to do: Bob Edwards, introducing Cokie Roberts on NPR this morning, cited the story as a suggestion that prosperity really might be just around the corner.

But read the fine print:

The wage gains have not been enough to overcome the economy's problems, however. Many families still have less income than they did a year ago because companies have reduced their workers' hours, and health care costs have risen rapidly. But economists say that the wage raises have provided a buffer....

So workers don't really have more money -- they just have more money than they would have had if they had less money. Following me so far?

And, as a sidebar chart points out, overall income would still be down if not for the effects of mini-windfalls that won't be repeated, such as mortgage refinancings and the recent tax cut (many parents got checks over the summer).

And not everyone's doing well:

"What seems to be happening is that companies that are staying in business want to hold onto the people they have," Stephen R. Sleigh, director of strategic resources at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which has negotiated annual pay increases of more than 3 percent on most recent contracts. "It's a very unusual labor market right now."...

SAS, a software maker based in Cary, N.C., has reduced the amount of money it pays to employees from its profit-sharing plan as business has weakened in the last two years. But SAS has increased salaries 4 to 5 percent a year on average, with most of the raises going to the employees whom executives fear losing the most, said Jeff Chambers, vice president of human resources at the company, which employs 5,000 people in this country.

"We've made money available to people who have the magic — the critical performers in the critical roles," Mr. Chambers said.

So some people get fired, and life sucks for those people, but hey -- wage increases are (barely) over inflation if you "have the magic"!

And, of course:

Over all, workers at the very bottom of the income distribution are among the only ones whose hourly wages have trailed inflation recently.


Sunday, October 26, 2003

I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't have all the facts last week when I criticized a spokeswoman for the parents of Terri Schiavo for saying that Michael Schiavo isn't really a husband to Terri anymore because he doesn't live with her. I've learned that "Mr. Schiavo is now living with another woman; they have a child and are expecting another" (New York Times).

I don't know how much that really matters. Terri Schiavo fell into a persistent vegetative state on, to put it crudely, Michael Schiavo's watch. He became her legal guardian and, in a decade of fighting to have him removed as guardian, Terri's parents have been rebuffed by court after court.

I've been poking around at the parents' Web site -- The "Recent News" section of the site is awfully short on writing by people with medical knowledge and long on missives from the vast right-wing conspiracy (NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, the Concerned Women for America, CNS News, the San Francisco Chronicle's Debra Saunders).

Here you get the parents' petition to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian, and it's utterly pathetic in some of its particulars -- it accuses Michael Schiavo of violating Terri's right to privacy by appearing on TV (I guess the parents don't consider this still, or the repeated nationwide broadcasts of the videotape that's the source of the still, exploitative). It accuses him of mismanaging her assets by using a large amount of money on legal fees -- legal fees made necessary by the parents' lawsuits. And it tries to have it both ways -- while accusing him of pissing away all of Terri's money on defending himself against their legal actions, it includes a pathetically desperate attempt to charge him with trying to bring about her death for financial gain:

The conflict of interest arising from the fact that Schiavo will inherit Terri’s estate has not decreased as the guardianship fund has dwindled. There are other valuable assets of the estate, including Terri’ s engagement and wedding rings that Schiavo has already appropriated to his own use by making jewelry for himself [Deposition of Michael Schiavo in the pending case, Nov. 19, 1993, at p. 80.]

He's doing this for her rings? Are they serious?

A reality check, from The New York Times:

A vegetative state "is the ironic combination of wakefulness without awareness," said Dr. James L. Bernat, a Dartmouth Medical School neurologist and past chairman of the academy's ethics committee....

"Thirteen years is plenty long enough to tell," said Dr. Bernat, who said he had not examined Mrs. Schiavo or seen any videotapes. "Assuming she is in a vegetative state, I can say with medical certainty that there is no realistic hope that she'll recover."

...Mrs. Schiavo's parents and a Web site,, have cited "miracle recoveries" by people who supposedly woke up, speaking and moving, after years in comas.

Dr. Bernat said his 1994 panel looked into more than 70 "alleged late recoverers" and found that "there wasn't a single one that was verified, so I'm very skeptical."

Dr. Ron Cranford, a Minneapolis neurologist who was Dr. Bernat's predecessor on the academy ethics committee, examined Mrs. Schiavo as part of the original trial and testified in favor of her husband's request to discontinue feeding.

He was adamant that she would never get better, and he says he is furious about the popular videotape.

"She's vegetative, she's flat-out vegetative, there's never been a shred of doubt that she's vegetative, and nothing's going to change that," Dr. Cranford said in a telephone interview. "This has been a massive propaganda campaign, which has been very successful because it deludes the public into thinking she's really there."

Her eyes do not steadily track objects, he said, and when she appears to look at her mother or a camera for a moment, it is merely rapid eye movement.

More important, he said, "the CAT scans indicate a massive shrinkage of her brain, with its higher centers completely destroyed, which indicates irreversibility."

Thank you.

In his article in the October 27 New Yorker (not available online), Jeffrey Toobin writes about the judge overseeing the trial of Enron's Andrew Fastow, Kenneth Hoyt -- a Reagan appointee:

In a 1997 case involving alleged environmental contamination in a largely minority neighborhood, the Judge asserted that physical differences among races were the product of their environments. "Why do you think Chinese people are short?" Hoyt told the lawyers in the case. "Because there is so much damn wind over there they need to be short. Why are they so tall in Africa? Because they need to be tall. It's environmental. I mean, you don't jump up and get a banana off a tree if you're only four feet. If you're seven feet tall and you're standing in China, then you're going to get blown away when that Siberian wind comes through."

Hoyt, for what it's worth, is African-American -- which just goes to prove that idiots come in all races, colors, and creeds.

These far-right presidents sure know how to pick judges, don't they?

Friday, October 24, 2003

Is this really necessary -- WholesomeWear?

Yes, it's swimwear for people who find the Lands' End skirted sport tankini a bit too risque.

Amazing. Have social conservatives run out of real problems?

(Thanks -- I think -- to TBOGG for this one.)
Right-wing morality:

Criticizing Mel Gibson's The Passion after reading a rough draft of the screenplay, even though you haven't actually seen it: bad.

Sending harassing e-mails to sponsors of CBS's The Reagans, even though you haven't seen it or read a screenplay, but have only read short articles describing it: good.

(Me, I'm an old-school free-speecher. I say bring 'em both on.)
Do you remember Sharon Kowalski? Years ago, her name was a rallying cry for people fighting for gay rights. Kowalski, suffering severe brain damage and other injuries after a car crash, was cared for by her partner, Karen Thompson, until Kowalski's parents interceded, first obtaining guardianship and then denying visitation rights to Thompson. (Thompson ultimately won guardianship of Kowalski.)

The solution to this problem was supposed to be legally recognized domestic partnership -- or gay marriage. But what's the point if theocrats believe they have blanket authority, granted by God, to usurp even lawfully wedded heterosexuals' right to speak for mentally impaired spouses?

The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who is awaiting consecration as the Episcopal Church's first gay bishop, charged yesterday that the campaign against him is funded by a few major conservative donors with a broader political agenda.

Robinson did not name the donors. But his supporters have provided reporters with tax filings and other documents showing that the two main organizations battling the Episcopal Church USA over Robinson's election are heavily financed by the Scaife and Ahmanson families, heirs to banking fortunes who have given to a range of conservative causes....

The two organizations leading the charge against Robinson are the American Anglican Council (AAC), an umbrella group for "biblically orthodox" Episcopalians, and the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), a think tank that tries to counter what it sees as left-wing activism in mainline Protestant churches.

...According to public tax filings, the IRD received $3.8 million in grants from conservative foundations from 1985 to 2002, including $1.7 million from the Carthage, Scaife Family and Sarah Scaife foundations. All three are run by Richard Mellon Scaife of Pittsburgh, who is also a major funder of the Heritage Foundation and who bankrolled American Spectator magazine's $2.4 million "Arkansas Project" to investigate President Bill Clinton.

The AAC's tax filings do not disclose the names of its donors. But a spokesman, Bruce Mason, said that it receives at least $200,000 annually from Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., much of it in matching grants to encourage other contributors. Ahmanson, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif., has been among the largest donors to California Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock and to the Chalcedon Foundation, a California-based religious movement that calls for a theocratic state enforcing biblical law....

--Washington Post

So what's next? Is Scaife going to hook up with Randall Terry? And if so, am I too old for Canadian citizenship?
Randall Terry thanks Florida's mullahs For giving him veto power over the entire judicial system, and warns us that, oh, by the way, any one of us might be next:

Religious conservatives say that with an arsenal of prayer vigils, Christian radio broadcasts and thousands of e-mail messages to Florida lawmakers, they played a pivotal role in the legislative battle this week over whether to feed a brain-damaged woman who has been kept alive artificially for 13 years.

Now some conservatives are hoping to use similar tactics to help them challenge court rulings they opposed in other states.

Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said he and other conservatives intended to use what they consider a stunning victory here to pressure lawmakers elsewhere to chip away at court rulings allowing abortion and banning organized prayer in schools and the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools, among other issues.

"Finally, a governor and legislature had the courage to stand up to judicial despots because of an overwhelming call by the public," Mr. Terry said....

Mr. Terry said he was strategizing on Thursday with other conservatives about how to use the Schiavo victory to make progress on other issues, at both the state and national levels. Among the other conservatives, he said, was Phil Sheldon, who runs a Web site called Conservative that collected tens of thousands of electronic signatures in support of the Schiavo bill and sent them to Florida legislators....

--New York Times

Twice in the article, Terry has the unmitigated gall to say that this usurpation of Michael Schiavo's rights as a husband and legal guardian markes a "return to self-government."

Yeah, sure -- if what Randall Terry means by "self-government" is government by himself.

This is in the business section of today's New York Times -- the Times apparently doesn't consider it to be "real" (general-interest) news:

House Leaders Are Pushing to Cut Corporate Taxes

House Republican leaders are nearing agreement on a bill to give nearly $60 billion in additional tax breaks to corporations, brushing aside Democratic complaints that the measure would deepen the federal budget deficit.

According to a draft circulated among Republican lawyers, the bill, which is expected to come up for a vote next week at the House Ways and Means Committee, would gradually reduce the corporate tax rate for most companies from 35 to 32 percent.

It would also relax or abolish a number of longstanding tax regulations on foreign profits of American multinationals, a move that Congressional tax analysts say could save companies more than $40 billion in taxes over the next decade....

The proposals are in the latest draft of a bill to replace a tax break for American exporters that the World Trade Organization has declared an illegal trade subsidy....

Repealing the old tax break would bring the Treasury about $50 billion over 10 years, and the bill would raise nearly $30 billion more by blocking a variety of tax shelters and loopholes. But the new tax breaks would be worth about $142 billion over 10 years, leaving the net cost to the government at about $60 billion over the next decade.

Drafted by Representative Bill Thomas of California, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the new proposal is less generous to companies than one he floated earlier this year that would have cost $128 billion.

The new proposal does not include a provision, for example, that would allow American companies to bring back to this country hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign profits at a small fraction of the normal United States tax rate.

Mr. Thomas also dropped a provision that would have extended through 2007 a tax credit for research and development, which was supposed to expire.

But corporate lobbyists and Congressional officials said they hoped to reinstate many of those provisions in separate legislation or during a House-Senate conference committee on this bill....


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Here's what infuriated me this morning. It's from Phillip Davis's report on NPR's Morning Edition (transcribed from the Morning Edition Web page, story title "Comatose Florida Woman"):

DAVIS: ...Meanwhile, Schiavo's family fired a volley in court, filing to have Michael Schiavo removed as Terry's guardian. Family spokeswoman Pam Hennessy:

HENNESSY: Well, they would like to get him removed as the guardian. Calling Mr. Schiavo her spouse at this point is truly obsolete.

DAVIS: The family says Michael Schiavo is not living with Terry as a husband....

Meaning what? He's unable to enjoy normal marital relations with her BECAUSE SHE'S IN A FREAKING COMA?

(UPDATE: I posted this without knowing the facts about Michael Schiavo's current living arrangements. See this post. I still agree with his desire to have the feeding tube removed, however.)
Bush opposes health plan for National Guard

The Bush administration is formally opposing a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon’s health-insurance system, jeopardizing the plan’s future and angering supporters.

The proposal would give more than 1.2 million Guard and Reserve members the right to buy health coverage through the Pentagon even when they are not on active duty. The Senate has attached the plan to a nearly $87 billion bill to pay for fighting and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A recent General Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.

The administration, in stating its objections, said the health-care proposal is too expensive. It would cost $400 million per year....

--Gannett News Service/Statesman Journal (Salem, Orgon)

So we can afford the $87 billion to carry out the neocons' geostrategic opium dream, but we can't afford $400 million for the poor bastards who are actually carrying it out.

But, of course, this is what you get when CEOs run the country: they stint on full-time workers and then dump as much work as possible on people who don't get benefits. Why should Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld's USA, Inc., be different from any other American company?
Maybe not quite "destroying the village in order to save it" -- but close:

U.S. Raid Nets Whole Iraqi Village

HABBARIYAH, Iraq - American troops in helicopters swooped down on this remote sheepherding village in the desert and detained nearly all the men, one as old as 81, one as young as 13. A month after the raid, apparently aimed at preventing terrorists from slipping across the border from Saudi Arabia, only two of the 79 captives have been freed.

The sweep — similar to those conducted in Afghanistan by U.S. special operations troops — came at a time when American officials are concerned that foreign fighters, including those loyal to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, are crossing into Iraq to join the resistance against the U.S.-led occupation.

...Villagers say they heard the whir of helicopters at dawn over Habbariyah, a Bedouin enclave of 500 people clustered in an area about the size of two football fields.

...Over the next 10 hours, villagers say, U.S. troops rounded up men including police, the elderly and teenagers. One woman also was seized. All were restrained with plastic handcuffs and taken to one house.

From there, U.S. troops loaded the captives onto the helicopters and flew them to an air base north of the village.

The woman, the wife of a tribal leader, was released the next day. The men were transported to the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, once used by Saddam to house political prisoners.

All but two remain there....


Well, they did let the 81-year-old guy go. And he does say the prisoners were treated well, though he also says he was held for a month and never questioned.

I wouldn't really care about this story -- it's just the yammerings of another demonizing yahoo -- but you have to realize that this yahoo's book was a New York Times bestseller:

Author Miniter Faults Gore and Jeffords for Botching 9/11

WASHINGTON – Al Gore and Sen. Jim Jeffords are largely to blame for the slow start of the Bush administration’s security team before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Moreover, the president has good cause to be wary of the Clinton holdover who runs the CIA.

Richard Miniter, author of the book “Losing bin Laden,” does not make this case in those exact words, but that is the essence of his message on where the fault lies in lack of preparedness for the aircraft-turned-bombs that brought down the World Trade Center towers, rammed into the Pentagon and went down in Pennsylvania.

Gore’s refusal to concede his loss in Florida in 2000 “severely truncated the presidential transition,” the author and investigative journalist said at a meeting Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.

“So that the Bush people didn’t even know who they were going to name in certain spots in their national security apparatus. They were mostly empty boxes on an organizational chart,” he said.

It did not help, of course that lame duck Bill Clinton refused to allow the Bush transition team access to federal facilities normally available to an incoming president until Gore’s five-week foot-dragging attempt to steal the election had been stopped.

...“And then we had some guy named Jim Jeffords who decided he wanted to be independent of the Republicans and handed the Senate to the Democrats,” Miniter noted.

What that meant in practical terms, he explained, was that “all the national security jobs that we could expect to be confirmed within a month to six weeks by a Republican Senate, would take six or eight months in a Democratic Senate, and maybe not be confirmed at all.”

...Miniter believes that is one reason George Tenet was kept on at the CIA, because “the Bush people could not get their man confirmed as CIA director on a timely basis. Remember that the [new] FBI director [Robert Mueller] was put into his job only a week before 9/11.” ...


The GOP -- the party of personal responsibility.

So does that mean the attack-dog Right is suddenly going to stop blaming Janet Reno and the entire Clinton administration for the Waco incident? After all, Reno was Clinton's third choice for attorney general, after the GOP decided to score points by attacking Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood. Reno had just been sworn in when Waco came to a boil.

Bob Barr's crusade against Bill Clinton is still very much alive, even if the former U.S. Congressman is finished as a public servant.

Barr told a gathering of Hall County Republicans on Monday that "Clinton's ghost is still with us. The damage he did to us will be with us for a long time."

...Much of Barr's speech at the Civic Center focused on Clinton, the former president impeached by the House of Representatives as a result of alleged sexual misconduct and allegations of perjury.

Barr said Clinton lives in a world where there are no consequences for a person's actions. He blamed declining social values on the example Clinton set during his years in the White House.

"Wile E. Coyote was a great philosopher," Barr said of the hard-luck Looney Tunes character. "He symbolizes the cartoon world of Bill Clinton. Not matter what he did, he always bounced back. In the cartoon world, Clinton has no worries."

...Barr wasn't content with just attacking the former president. He also said Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations have him concerned, whether or not she runs in 2004 or 2008....

--The Times (Gainesville, Georgia)
What the hell kind of cheap stunt was that at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Janice Rogers Brown yesterday? As Byron York reports at National Review Online, Orrin Hatch made an opening statement defending the ultraconservative state judge, then dived headfirst into the gutter:

  Hatch then did something that put Democrats on the defensive for much of the day. Brown is opposed by a number of old-line civil-rights groups, and her nomination has been greeted with sometimes-vicious criticism in the black community. To illustrate that, Hatch unveiled a blow-up of a cartoon that had appeared on a website called The cartoon portrayed Brown as a fat black woman with huge lips, an unruly Afro, and an enormous backside. In the cartoon, President Bush is introducing her to other blacks in government. "Welcome to the federal bench, Ms. Clarence...I mean, Ms. Rogers Brown," the president says. "You'll fit right in." To the side, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice stand applauding.

..."Now I want to make clear that I am not referring to any of my colleagues here on the committee," Hatch said as he revealed the cartoon. "But let me show you what I am talking about — an example of how low Justice Brown's attackers will sink to smear a qualified African-American jurist who doesn't parrot their views. I hope that everyone here considers this cartoon offensive and despicable."

OK -- do you want to see the cartoon? Here it is.

Reasonable people can differ, but I think York's description of the caricature of Janice Rogers Brown says a lot more about York than it does about the cartoon. She's no Hottentot Venus in this cartoon. She's built like a typical cartoonist's version of a paunchy middle-aged man in drag -- and she's built like the depiction of Thomas himself in the same cartoon. (Thomas is not a slender man.) And as for the lips -- well, the source is Black Commentator. I'm going to leap into the void and assume the cartoonist is black. Do I have the right to tell a black cartoonist how to draw the lips of another black person? Does Byron York? (If York wants to see grotesquely caricatured lips, he should check out the way cartoonists draw this guy.)

But I'm getting away from the main pont. Even if this cartoon is offensive, what on earth was it doing on display in the hearing room? Did anyone in the room draw the cartoon? Is there any reason to believe that any of the Democrats on the committee had even seen it, or heard of Black Commentator, before the cartoon was unveiled? And so if no one in the room knew about it, why try to hang it around Democrats' necks? (That "I am not referring to any of my colleagues" was utterly disingenuous.)

The Democrats did recognize that they were being required to have the politically correct response to the cartoon, and they complied -- but that wasn't enough for Hatch. Here's York again:

For the rest of the hearing, Democrats repeatedly condemned the cartoon and asked Hatch to remove it from display. He declined, and it remained on an easel beside the dais.

So let's sum up: A cartoon drawn (presumably) by a black cartoonist for a publication aimed at a black audience is being used to implicitly depict white Democratic senators who presumably had never seen the cartoon as bigoted against blacks -- to depict them, in essence, as guilty of racism until proven innocent (and, apparently, not even then).


(Thanks to BuzzFlash for the link to the cartoon.)


By the way, I realize that months ago I wrote something about Janice Rogers Brown. She was rumored at the time to be a possible future Bush judicial nominee, and I noticed that she'd been the only dissenter in a California ruling affirming that a man can be found guilty of rape if he persists in intercourse after a woman says she doesn't want to continue. Reasonable people such as TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt can disagree with the principle that consent can be withdrawn in the middle of the act, but the case in question involved a man who persisted in intercourse for more than four minutes after the woman said she wanted to go home (as noted here). I really need to read more about Janice Rogers Brown -- though I'll note that Jeralyn Merritt opposes her confirmation.
Did some self-righteous, self-satisfied meddler really just say on NPR that Michael Schiavo isn't truly his wife's spouse anymore because he doesn't live with her? SHE'S IN THE HOSPITAL! SHE'S IN A PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE! OF COURSE HE DOESN'T LIVE WITH HER!

Well, now a special guardian is being appointed for Terry Schiavo, even though her spouse is right there.

The silence from all those right-wingers who endlessly rail against the excessive, totalitarian powers of "big government" is deafening.

By the way, as you'll notice from the story, that repellent law that was passed to deny Michael Schiavo his rights has now taken on capital letters -- it's being called Terry's Law. That scares me.

Oh, and by the way, this woman should burn in hell.

(UPDATE: I posted this without knowing the facts about Michael Schiavo's current living arrangements. See this post. I still agree with his desire to have the feeding tube removed, however, and I still think the woman whose words appear in the last link should burn in hell.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The new New York Times bestseller list is out. Michael Moore's still #1. Al Franken is back up to #2, while Bill O'Reilly slips to #3.

Over on the fiction side, at #9, is Richard North Patterson's new book, Balance of Power. Here's the Times's capsule description:

The president of the United States sets out to eliminate gun violence and to destroy lobbyists known as the Sons of the Second Amendment.

Hmmm... here's more, from Publishers Weekly's capsule review at Amazon's page for the book:

... When ... Bowden goes on a killing spree in an airport while the Kilcannons are away on their honeymoon, [President] Kerry [Kilkannon] sees red and goes after the manufacturer of the gun Bowden used. The gun lobby circles wagons around the SSA and pushes a tort-reform bill called the Civil Justice Reform Act, which protects the manufacturers of any "products" from litigation by victims of criminals. Congress kowtows to America's captains of industry, with guns as the focal point: "gun immunity hung in the balance of power between the President and the senator who intended to displace him." This is a Democratic nightmare scenario, and the novel paints a grim picture of the challenges facing gun-control advocates....

I wonder how soon the gun-loving right is going to go after Patterson for this book.