Spencer Blog Archives 5-03





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EVEN MORE"FAUX NEWS": THE POTENTIAL TRIUMPH OF RUPERT MURDOCH 05-31-03

Jimm Donnelly's right about this. I haven't said much if anything about it. I've been very busy doing ten different things, traveling, and doing major home projects over the last few weeks but that's still not really a very good excuse. I know Atrios blogged on it a while back but not much else has been said in the lefty blogosphere. While bloggers always blog about what interests them, I agree with Jimm that this is an important issue that should be discussed more in the blogosphere.

The concentration of media power into fewer and fewer hands really does threaten media freedom and democracy itself. I'm pretty sure, knowing the respect Republicans have for democracy that, no matter how many tens of thousands of e-mails, faxes, and phonecalls they're getting, Colin Powell's son and his Republican cronies on the FCC will willfully ignore them and pass these rule changes over the objections of (apparently most) Americans.

The current pathetic media coverage of the lies told by the adminsistration regarding, to use Hesiod's excellent phrase, the"War of Bush Aggression" is a perfect case in point. We already have a media that is controlled by corporate types who'd just as soon softpedal the administration's recent astonishing depredations because it serves their own economic and political interests. If we have further concentration of media ownership, we might get even less coverage of important things like the fact that our government lied to us to build public support for an immoral and unnecessary war.

The further concentration of media power is an important issue that deserves, at the very least, further public debate. Personally, I'd prefer these proposed changes be defeated entirely and, furthermore, I'd like more stringent restrictions on media ownership put in place that would weaken the control of right-wing ideologues like Rupert Murdoch over our media.

While I'm relatively sure that Michael Powell and his fellow Republican footsoldiers on the FCC won't do a damn thing about the public outcry about this, that's still not a good excuse for ignoring the issue entirely as I have been.

I'm not sure this post properly corrects that oversight but it's a start at least.

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

POWELL:"I'M NOT READING THIS. THIS IS BULLSHIT." 05-31-03

The finger-pointing about the cooking of the intelligence books in order to justify war with Iraq continues. I don't know folks, which is worse and more worthy of impeachment, lying about a consensual blowjob or lying about intelligence to justify a war?

I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Oh yeah, and go read this.

Update: Read this too.

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

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND W 05-31-03

I couldn't resist blogging on this. As it becomes increasingly clear that the administration out-and-out lied to us about WMDs, now W has taken to lying about it himself apparently.

This is pretty damned embarrassing, isn't it?

BTW, just for the record, it's really hot here. I wasn't ready for 101 degrees on my first day down here.

Welcome to summer in Texas.

Posted by Tom at 1:58 p.m. CDT

G.T.T. AGAIN 05-30-03

I'm headed out to Texas this morning on my aforementioned travels.

As is obvious, I'll be at the mercy of internet availability for the next several days. If it's available (as it has been before when I was down in S.A. for A.P. grading), I'll blog some from Texas -- at least a couple of posts per day. However, this potential posting probably won't start until Sunday at the earliest.

If I don't have easy internet availability, well, my friends in Texas do have computers I'm told but I don't know if I'll feel like doing that.

We'll see.

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

ABOUT KOS 05-30-03

Here's more about just who that Kos guy is.

Posted by Tom at 7:07 a.m. CDT

KRUGMAN:"WAGGY DOG STORIES" 05-30-03

Great Krugman column today -- go read it. Once again, Krugman's done a great job of pulling everything together to make an argument that this war was based on lies and now strongly resembles the 1997 movie"Wag the Dog."

BTW, Jessica Lynch's parents have said they have been instructed not to talk about the rescue of their daughter. That looks just a wee bit suspicious, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 6:31 a.m. CDT

LATEST ON TEXAS SHENANIGANS 05-29-03

As usual, Josh Marshall has it.

It appears that DPS has decided to shift blame to Governor Goodhair and claim they were being"manipulated" a couple of weeks ago by the governor and his minions for partisan purposes. This is getting interesting now, isn't it?

Currently it also appears the Attorney General is spending more time trying to find the potential whistleblower in DPS than getting to the bottom of the document destruction. That's not unexpected from Republicans, is it?

I'll be in Austin tomorrow -- maybe something more will break by then.

We'll see.

Update: Chuck Kuffner also has a great update today as well.

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

W APPEASES BIN LADEN -- TWICE! 05-29-03

Morat has all the details.

Do you think our warmongering blogger brethren will jump on W with both feet now?

I wonder if they'd have been so gung-ho for it if they'd have known that?

How about it, Glenn?

The administration has made its allies and supporters look like absolute fools.

You'd think these folks would be a little upset about it, wouldn't you?

Posted by Tom at 12:13 p.m. CDT

IRAQ UPDATE: TWENTY AMERICANS HAVE DIED SINCE W DECLARED"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" IN IRAQ 05-29-03

Sean-Paul over at the Agonist points us to this story about the 20th American killed since W declared the war over in Iraq.

As Atrios said in a post this morning:

It's really quite sad how little coverage the deaths of the soldiers in Iraq get. After all the patriotic fervor the networks exuded in the run-up to the war, their families must wonder why they barely merit a mention.
I'm just happy this is all going so well and the press is covering all of this so closely.

Sean-Paul also has an informative post up about the issue in of ginned up WMD evidence in Iraq as well.

And, by the way, there was absolutely nothing at the location we struck with multiple cruise missiles the first night of IraqWar Part II. Great intelligence once again, huh?

So, when Rumsfeld said back in March they were certain they hit something, he lied.

And we all know the Jessica Lynch rescue was apparently fiction as well.

I think it's time for a rather important question:

Is there anything we were told to justify this war and about the major events of the war itself that has actually turned out to be true?

Ponder that one for a while.

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

ENORMOUS DEFICITS COMING UP 05-29-03

Joe Moran points us (permalinks bloggered) to this Financial Times article that quotes a suppressed treasury department report that we're going to rack up $44 trillion worth of deficits -- and that was before the current $800B taxcut was signed by W.

How's that for fiscal mismanagement?

$44 trillion is equal to the worth of all household assets in the U.S. and the report says it will require a 66% tax increase to close the hole -- yet W and the boys keep pursuing ruinous tax cuts. When are people going to care about this?

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

JOSH MARSHALL RECAPS... 05-29-03

the mess in Texas quite adequately here.

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

BLAIR'S IN TROUBLE 05-29-03

It appears that Tony Blair may get his comeuppance for supporting the immoral and unnecessary war after all.

Americans may not give a damn that their leaders lied to them -- but the Brits apparently do.

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

GET THIS 05-28-03

Here's a quote supposedly by W that's in this new movie:

"I won't be seeking a declaration of war. With a shadowy enemy, specificity makes that problematic."
Oh yeah. Our president who can't pronounce"nuclear" properly said that out loud.

Sure. You bet.

Posted by Tom at 10:33 p.m. CDT

THE POLL NEWS... 05-28-03

is not good for W either. Read Ruy Teixeira's latest Public Opinion Watch for the latest.

Ruy's been right about darn near everything for several months now -- even predicting the (very short) timing of W's war spike in popularity. It's all gone now folks -- he's back to his pre-war level of popularity.

Nowhere else to go but down from here.

Posted by Tom at 8:53 p.m. CDT

DURABLE GOODS ORDERS DROP RATHER DRASTICALLY 05-28-03

Boy, now this isn't good.

How about a genuine dubya-dip recession folks?

Perhaps that's the missing ingredient to the perfect political storm for W?

Only time will tell.

[Link via Atrios]

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

NICE SHOT, WAPO 05-28-03

The WaPo gets a good shot in on John Lott today. Tim Lambert, as usual, has all the updates on the Lott scandal today.

BTW, why doesn't anyone in the print media ever credit the person who actually uncovered Mary Rosh, Julian Sanchez? Would it hurt any of these folks to, dare I say, be accurate in their reporting?

It's like the blogosphere doesn't count to these journalistic snobs, eh?

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

THE PERFECT POLITICAL STORM SET FOR 2004? 05-28-03

Every time Rumsfeld opens his mouth he digs the hole deeper for the administration, doesn't he?

Now Rumsfeld suggests that Iraq may have destroyed their WMDs before the war after all. (Rummy blithefully ignores that, if this is the case, it therefore makes the war unwarranted, W, Cheney, Powell and Rummy liars, and the rest of the world right and us wrong, but I digress.)

Oh yeah, and on a related note, who gives a damn about police-state-style secret deportations? The Supreme Court sure as hell doesn't. So much for civil liberties for aliens, huh? I mean, heck, you and I don't have them anymore, so why should anyone else?

History will not be kind to these guys folks. And, hopefully, the pitiful economy -- unhelped by W's rich-get-richer tax schemes -- and the federal deficit that is spiraling out of control very well may lead to the end of this national nightmare in a little over a year and a half.

I can always hope, can't I?

If the"perfect political storm" is gathering to take down W, you can rest assured these guys won't go down without a fearful fight. With no other card to play than fear in the campaign next year, I expect W and the boys to plumb the depths for their campaign rhetoric.

Using their disgraceful campaign for the midterms as a guide, I expect them to question the patriotism of every Democrat in America by November of 2004, all the while wrapping themselves obscenely in the flag of 9/11. I also don't put it past W and the boys to start a war with Syria or Iran just before the election in order to save themselves politically.

Regardless, it will be quite a fearsome spectacle folks. In the presidential campaign in 2000 and in the midterms, these folks proved they will say or do anything to win an election.

The political end for W, if it comes in 2004, will be nothing short of spectacular.

Posted by Tom at 10:43 a.m. CDT

VIDEOTAPE SNARES GOVERNOR GOODHAIR -- AND HIS HOMELAND DEFENSE COORDINATOR 05-28-03

Well the videotape didn't produce Jim Ellis but it did produce the Governor and his homeland defense coordinator heavily involved in the search for absconded Democrats.

Why didn't Perry and Kimbrough fess up before now? Why did they have to be fingered on the tape?

This certainly makes that earlier six-hour gap in the tape a little more suspicious, doesn't it?

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

TIME TRAVEL FANTASY GAME 05-27-03

Kevin Drum points us to this excellent post by Invisible Adjunct (just added to the blogroll by the way). The post talks about a subject that is near and dear to my heart -- the large gap between what historians want to write about and what normal folks want to read about. As someone who wrote a book that had a final chapter that touched on this subject (and was roundly bitched out in a couple of historical journals for what I said there), I think this is an important subject.

However, the fun part of the post is actually the last part:

All of this by way of a lengthy apology for my Time Travel Fantasy Game:

If you could travel back to any time and place of your choosing, where would you go and with whom would you like to have dinner?
If I were a professional historian, I suppose I would blush with shame to acknowledge any interest in such a trifle.
Not at all. I love such scenarios!

Here's my answer -- and it is probably shaped by current events quite a bit:

Place: Washington, D.C.
Time: January 1848
Person to meet for dinner: the newly-elected freshman congressman from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln

Why?: Lincoln spent the entire Mexican War excoriating President Polk for his immoral war with Mexico that Polk, Lincoln believed, had gotten support from the public for by swearing to all manner of lies and half-truths.

I'd like to talk to Lincoln about what was wrong with the ongoing war and about the proper place of dissent in America. I'd especially love to hear him tell me more about his recently-introduced"Spot Resolutions" that challenged the president to locate the precise"spot" in the nation where"American blood had been shed on American soil."

After that I probably have a list of fifty other places I'd love to go and people I'd love to meet if I could. However, that's number one for me right now.

As I said, I suspect my answer is probably shaped by current events.

Posted by Tom at 10:32 p.m. CDT

COALITION OF THE BOILING 05-27-03

Hesiod pointed out in a post this morning that we support Uzbekistan with millions of taxpayer dollars because they are an ally in the"war on terrah" (they were even part of the coalition of the bribed if you recall) and their leader is an absolute monster. In fact, he has this, ugh, nasty habit of boiling his political opponents alive.

Hey, Glenn, other righty warbloggers, where's the outrage? Once it became clear that W and the boys were lying to us about WMDs you guys started telling us we were really in this war to remove Saddam's brutal regime. Therefore, I assume you guys will want us to send our forces into Uzbekistan immediately, right?

You certainly wouldn't want to be, in Atrios's words,"objectively pro-boiling" right?

Posted by Tom at 6:08 p.m. CDT

MARY ROSH, ER, JOHN LOTT HAS STARTED A BLOG 05-27-03

And, as Tim Lambert makes clear, in his very first blog entry Lott makes several basic factual errors about a single newspaper story and that quite a few of these same errors are contained in his latest book as well. Suspiciously, said factual errors make this story more easily fit Lott's"rabidly" pro-gun agenda.

Pathetic, eh?

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

MORAT GETS IT... 05-27-03

just right:

All in all, it's the worst of the anti-war crowd's fears. Most of us didn't oppose the war out of pure pacifism, or out of any thought we might be defeated (although without the bribing of key officials, our victory would have cost more lives), but because we fully expected the Bush administration to screw up the aftermath.

And they have. Last I checked, there was no electricity and no water in Baghdad. Mosul is still almost a war zone. We had no plan for delivering aid, didn't bother to prevent the looting of key industries, had no plan for policing the region, for restoring services, for anything. Ethnic tensions are putting huge strains on the region, and we have no plan to deal with that either.

It was a delicate act to pull off, 'liberating' a country when most of the world -- and many of your own citizens -- suspected your motives. We failed. We worse than failed, we never even tried. Bush can make all the speeches he wants, but it boils down (especially to the Iraqis) to actions. And by our actions so far, we're doomed to fail.

Welcome to the Occupation.

That certainly sums up the way I feel about it all. I've been warning about the administration having no post-war plan since my very first post last August if you recall.

Posted by Tom at 1:07 p.m. CDT

JOSH MARSHALL IDENTIFIES... 05-27-03

the potential"information conduit" for DeLay to pass on information to Tom Craddick -- a fellow named Jim Ellis, a longtime DeLay aide who is now in charge of DeLay's PAC. Ellis is now admitting to the San Antonio Excess-News er, Express-News that he" could very likely have been" close to the DPS's" command center" that was set up next door to Craddick's office. DeLay has admitted he passed on information about the aircraft's whereabouts through Craddick.

Furthermore, the grand jury that had been investigating the destruction of DPS records is now investigating all of this as well.

This really is getting interesting, isn't it?

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

TAX CHEATS GET $1B IN CONTRACTS FROM W 05-27-03

Don't you think tax cheat firmsshouldn't be getting government contracts? Call me crazy but companies that are so low on the ethical scale that they won't even pay taxes to the country to whom they owe their success shouldn't get one dollar from the government -- in my opinion of course.

And you'll notice in the article, by the way, that Republican leaders keep removing such prohibitions from various bills -- so they actually support these cheats!

Posted by Tom at 11:32 a.m. CDT

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS 05-27-03

This is hilarious:

Texas state police officials on Monday blamed a faulty duplication machine for a five-hour gap in a Capitol security tape that was given to a House committee investigating how authorities handled the Democratic walkout.

"I don't know if people are trying to run out the clock so we're not in town any more or if it's just incompetence. Either one is bothersome," said Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee.

Bailey's committee is looking into how the Texas Department of Public Safety coordinated its search for 55 missing legislators on May 12, whether anyone associated with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped direct the search and why DPS officials ordered some records on the issue destroyed on May 14.

As part of the probe, Bailey had asked DPS to turn over Capitol security tapes for the hallway outside of House Speaker Tom Craddick's office. A DPS command post was set up May 12 in Craddick's reception room, and Bailey said he wants to know who went in and out of that room.

Bailey said the DPS provided his staff with copies of the security tapes late Friday. As the staff watched them over the weekend, the entire week was available except for the afternoon of May 12. He said the tape stopped at 12:47 p.m. and did not begin again until 6 p.m.

"It's odd that it was the day and time that we wanted," Bailey said."It's fine all week, except for that one period."

DPS officials scrambled to make a new copy of the May 12 afternoon tape, which was given to the lawmaker Monday evening.

"It's a simple malfunction," said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger."They're copying hours and hours of tape. They just didn't notice some was missing."

Right. I'm sure that's it.

[Link via Atrios and Off the Kuff]

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

GO READ 05-27-03

Phil Carpenter too.

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

GREAT KRUGMAN 05-27-03

Go read it.

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

PLANS FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS 05-26-03

Here are my plans for the next few days:

This week I'll be blogging as usual through Thursday night. However, on Friday I'm headed to the home of Tom Craddick and Governor Rick"Goodhair" Perry, Austin, Texas. Maybe something interesting will be going on there by then. I'll be in Austin until Sunday, June 1st. I'll be staying with a couple of friends and may or may not be able to blog from there. We shall see.

On Sunday, a friend will be driving me to my alma mater, Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas to be a reader of Advanced Placement U.S. history exams. I'm likely to be able to blog from good old T.U. and will probably blog a fair amount from there -- at least two or three times per day. We'll see of course.

Other than the seven hours per day I'll be grading exams, I plan on swimming a lot in the university pool and having a good time visiting friends, so don't look for any ten post days or anything from there. I plan on visiting with Sean-Paul of the Agonist (who lives in S.A.) and perhaps even Chuck Kuffner of Off the Kuff (who lives in Houston) while I'm there. Any other Texas bloggers who would like to come to S.A. and visit, let me know.

I'll be in S.A. until June 9, when I'll be flying home and blogging will return absolutely to normal on about June 10th.

Anyway, this seemed like as good as good a time as any to update you on the blogging schedule for the next couple of weeks.

I am sorry there was another technical screw-up today (apparently by me) that resulted in, among other things, the deletion of the comment boards yet again -- just as it was getting interesting of course.

BTW, I've now added Quaker in a Basement to the blogroll. It's an oversight on my part that I haven't done so yet.

Posted by Tom at 7:37 p.m. CDT

WHAT JOSH MARSHALL 05-26-03

says. He's dead-on IMHO.

The story here isn't about an intelligence failure, it's about an administration that willfully ignored what they were being told and even trotted out evidence that the intelligence agencies knew was false to back up the arguments for the war they wanted.

In short, it's not the intelligence folks who lied to the administration, the intelligence community has been proven absolutely correct -- there wasn't much, if anything, in the way of WMDs in Iraq. It's the administration that lied, especially the handpicked evidence-creators in the Office of Special Plans (for war with Iraq).

Posted by Tom at 4:45 p.m. CDT

A PETTY WOMANIZING CREEP 05-26-03

Steve Gilliard gives you some sense of the true"moral character" of Rudy Giuliani. But, since he's a Republican, the SCLM gives him a pass on these rather major character flaws.

In fact, folks Rudy is much more of a"sexual predator" than Bill Clinton could ever hope to be.

My understanding is that Rudy's such a womanizer that he knows he never can run for office again. Not that Rudy needs to now that he's made his fortune off the victims of 9/11 anyway.

However, I'm sure some morally upright Republican will give him some cushy job with a six figure income any day now.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 1:31 p.m. CDT

ALL IS OKAY NOW 05-26-03

Everything is okay now. You can resume your normal blog-reading now folks. I don't know what happened but it's been more or less repaired.

Posted by Tom at 12:48 p.m. CDT

I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S UP 05-26-03

but the file for my blog has vanished. I have just moved over to this new location for now. I really can't tell you what happened. I didn't screw it up this time. It's normally a mistake that I've made but it isn't this time.

Weird.

Posted by Tom at 12:22 p.m. CDT

SOMETHING'S FISHY IN TEXAS 05-26-03

My Daily Billboard post here is about the mess in Texas.

Posted by Tom at 12:09 p.m. CDT

ASU BACKS OFF 05-25-03

A short while ago, I received this e-mail from David Truncellito, the philosophy prof at Arkansas State who was getting, uh, messed over by his administration (I posted about it here):

The attached editorial appeared in today's issue of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our statewide newspaper. (Since the D-G's online edition is only available to subscribers, Laura and I typed up the text of the article.) Although it ran as an unsigned editorial, I'm told that it was written by Paul Greenberg, their editorial page editor and a Pulitzer Prize winner. It's the best piece I've seen yet about this whole mess; and, as the lead ediorial in the Sunday paper, it meansl ots more bad publicity for ASU's administration. (The D-G has the second-biggest Sunday circulation, relative to population, in the country. I also know that it's read beyond Arkansas' borders, since a history professor in St. Louis mentioned me in his blog (!) not long ago.) [Okay, I don't live in St. Louis! I live in the little town of Maryville in Northwest Missouri!]

(FYI: Winfred Thompson tried to make significant negative changes to the tenure system at UCA. Mark Pryor is now a US Senator. Fulbright, of course, is the namesake of the Fulbright Scholarships.) [I'm not sure you could put a negative enough spin on Win Thompson's time at UCA, an excellent school that severely suffered from the experience of having him as president.]

Here's the aforementioned Paul Greenberg editorial:

ASU succeeds UCA As State Embarrassment No. 1

Now that Winfred Thompson has left the presidency of the University of Central Arkansas and is no longer in a position to make the lives of its faculty a Living Hell, the most embarrassing administration in the state’s duplicative, disorganized, and sprawling system of higher education is… (the envelope, please)… by popular and surely unanimous agreement… the one headed by … LES WYATT! His administration of Arkansas State University takes this booby prize hands, feet and legs down. Nobody even comes close.

President Wyatt’s games with the athletic budget were only the beginning. At one point, his plan to shift funds from the university’s reserves to cover the shortfall in its athletic budgets was deemed illegal by the state’s attorney general – Mark Pryor at the time.

In its latest caper, ASU's administration found a way to fire an untenured professor of philosophy. It seems this member of the faculty has been pointing out problems with the university's spending practices – and quite a few others. Worse, he was doing it in the best Socratic fashion. The professor's name is David Truncellito, and he is one of those uppity types with a Yale degree. And he's been performing the gadfly function at ASU with predictable results. Not long ago, he was handed the modern university's equivalent of a cup of hemlock: he was fired.

On what grounds? That's the bureaucratic beauty of it. The official reason had nothing to do with his criticism of the administration. Instead, he's being let go because he put a notice on an ASU-based Web site advertising his availability should anybody need some ancient Chinese manuscripts translated. For this cardinal crime – using university property to further his own commercial interests! – he's been let go. Socrates would understand what's going on; it's an old, old game.

Never mind that, according to the professor, other and presumably more pliant members of the faculty do much the same. The professor notes that one art teacher sells his work over the Internet, economics professors offer their consulting services on-line, and one staffer used to sell bras via an Internet link with an ASU-connected Web site. ("People who desire to enhance their beauty have reason to contact me.") That little promo has since been removed on the advice of an attorney, though we ourselves rather admire the understated, almost Victorian formality of the language – certainly compared with other lingerie ads we've seen (and enjoyed). In comparison, this modest proposal sounds like something out of Jane Austen.

What's going on here isn't hard to understand. ASU's grievance committee did. It concluded earlier this month the professor's dismissal was unwarranted, and that he'd violated no university policy, particularly because that policy is stated so ambiguously in the faculty handbook.

The grievance committee also noted that the professor was given no warning before being fired."Instead, he received the most severe form of punishment when his employment was terminated without due process." The committee's conclusion:"Truncellito's punishment could appear to be selective." You don't say. We rather admire the grievance committee's talent for understatement, too.

After the committee was heard from, and ASU's administration drew the usual bad publicity, the administration decided to back off from its decision – but no reverse it. It rehired the professor for the next school year, but is planning to drop him the year after that, when it can hope things will have cooled down and folks won't be paying as much attention. But an injustice delayed is still an injustice. This one also looks like a way to stifle criticism and intimidate others on campus.

Our conclusion: it's not David Truncellito's record that deserves scrutiny at this point but the leadership of President Les Wyatt and his vice-president for academic affairs, Rick McDaniel. Because it looks as if ASU is headed for the same kind of embarrassing mess that Winfred Thompson's too long reign left behind at UCA.

With the inauguration of gold ol' Lu Hardin as UCA's new president and cleaner-upper, and after a lot of effort on the part of some good people on campus, that state university may finally get out from under the censure of the American Association of University Professors – even while another Arkansas school could be inviting it.

P.S. Whatever happened to Winfred Thompson, anyway? We hear he's gone from UCA to become president of a university in the United Arab Emirates – J. William Fulbright's old stomping grounds. How appropriate. At last Win Thompson has found the kind o society into which his administrative ways should fit perfectly: a feudal monarchy.

In short, ASU has decided to fire this guy next year, hoping the political heat has disappeared by then. We'll see, won't we?

I, for one, promise to be writing about this about a year from now. I won't forget.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 p.m. CDT

DID BRIBES WIN IRAQWAR PART II FOR US? 05-25-03

I'm not sure that I'm opposed to this since we were already engaged in fighting this immoral and unnecessary (and apparently chaos-inducing) war but this story certainly pokes one helluva hole into the myth of W's supposedly wonderful wartime"leadership," doesn't it?

Is this story true?

If bribery really won this war, it raises all sorts of questions about whether the war was really necessary in the first place, doesn't it?

I mean, heck, why not just bribe these people in the first place -- and skip the war part?

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

HERE'S YOUR... 05-25-03

Indy 500 preview from the Indy Star. I'm probably going to miss the first hour of the race. Bummer.

That's probably it for me today. We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 a.m. CDT

BREMER'S APPOINTMENT A RUSH-JOB BECAUSE GARNER'S RECONSTRUCTION EFFORT WAS A DISASTER 05-24-03

I had always thought so, but here's my confirmation.

BTW, isn't it entertaining when you catch Wolfowitz lying? Get this little gem:

In response to senators citing media reports describing the slow pace of reconstruction and ongoing chaotic violence, Wolfowitz appeared to both agree and disagree. “As press accounts continue to report what is wrong, I would say, we don’t want less of these reports, we want more — because we are eager to see revelations in the press about what needs our attention,” he said.

But later, he said that “much of what I read on this subject suggests a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the security problem in Iraq, and in particular, a failure to appreciate that a regime which had tens of thousands of thugs and war criminals on its payroll does not disappear overnight.”

The administration’s effort to acknowledge the ongoing violence, but blame it on Hussein holdouts, has sometimes appeared at odds with military assessments. Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, who commands the 20,000 troops of the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, said last week that “about 90 percent” of the security problem “is common criminals — the looters, the car thefts, attempted bank robberies, et cetera — and only about 10 percent . . . is a holdover from the previous regime.”

Posted by Tom at 1:26 p.m. CDT

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP PART II 05-24-03

You should read Paul Krugman's excellent primer in today's NYT on the"liquidity trap" our economy may be facing through W's foolish fiscal and economic policy.

This is a must-read. Krugman's been right about darn near everything for the last several years.

If he's worried, I'm worried.

Posted by Tom at 11:22 a.m. CDT

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP 05-24-03

Tom DeLay's nose is growing. Josh Marshall, as usual, has all the details.

DeLay has begun to tell lies to try to cover himself. And his buddy in the legislature, Speaker Tom Craddick, is saying he"doesn't remember any details at all about" the important day in question. Ah, isn't that a bit suspicious?

This is looking quite interesting now, isn't it?

I'm also with Atrios on this, can you imagine the feeding frenzy we'd be witnessing if the party affiliations were reversed?

Oh, press corps, press corps, where art thou press corps?

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CDT

A COUPLE OF LINKS 05-24-03

Here's a good column by Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun-Times. Greeley wonders aloud, as I have, what the president is hiding in obstructing an investigation into 9/11 and the release of a completed congressional report on the matter.

Molly Ivins's column about the mess that is W's Iraq is quite good as well.

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

SO MUCH FOR THE ACCURACY OF OUR WEAPONS... 05-23-03

as 5-10,000 noncombatants (innocent civilians) were killed in IraqWar Part II.

Yet another lie exposed -- the claim by many in the administration that our weapons were"surgical" in their precision.

Of course, we all knew that line was b.s. when we first heard it from Rummy, didn't we?

Posted by Tom at 8:48 p.m. CDT

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE HILARIOUS... 05-23-03

than John Lott writing an op-ed piece criticizing the New York Times for a"pattern of deceit?"

Tim Lambert has further details on the Lott scandal today, including revelations that Lott is peddling stories he knows to be false in his new book.

I think I'm detecting a"pattern of deceit," how about you?

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

THANKS AGAIN! 05-23-03

A short while ago, I had my 220,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It's been about a week since I had my 210,000th visitor. I've also had almost 320,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter last September.

I always can't help but remember that, when I started this blog, it took me three months to get 10,000 visitors. Now I'm averaging about that many per week!

As always folks, I really appreciate your visiting this blog. I hope I continue to give you a reason to come back.

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

TEXAS MESS UPDATE 05-23-03

Josh Marshall has got an excellent update post on the Texas mess today.

Josh suggests that the"potentially criminal investigation" is apparently focusing on a certain Houston ex-exterminator.

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CDT

DICK LUGAR HAS HAD ENOUGH 05-23-03

Boy, I think it's safe to say that Lugar thinks we've screwed up in Iraq:

THE most senior Republican authority on foreign relations in Congress has warned President Bush that the United States is on the brink of catastrophe in Iraq. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Washington was in danger of creating “an incubator for terrorist cells and activity” unless it increased the scope and cost of its reconstruction efforts. He said that more troops, billions more dollars and a longer commitment were needed if the US were not to throw away the peace.

Mr Lugar’s warning came as it emerged that the CIA has launched a review of its pre-war intelligence on Iraq to check if the US exaggerated the threats posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The review is intended to determine if the Pentagon manipulated the assessment of intelligence material for political ends.

Democrats have begun to say that the US is in danger of jeopardising the success of the military action in Iraq, but Mr Lugar is by far the most senior Republican to break ranks with the White House over the issue. Mr Lugar, a moderate who expressed initial reservations about the war, said that the Govevrnment’s planning for post-war Iraq had clearly been inadequate.

“I am concerned that the Bush Administration and Congress have not yet faced up to the true size of the task that lies ahead, or prepared the American people for it,” he said, writing in The Washington Post. Mr Bush should state clearly “that we are engaged in ‘nation-building’,” he said, a statement that would require the President to swallow one of his tenets of the 2000 election campaign.

Speaking derisively of President Clinton’s foreign policy, Mr Bush said it was not the role of US troops to nation-build.

Mr Lugar also took a swipe at Mr Bush’s victory speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln earlier this month, delivered under a banner that read: “Mission Accomplished”. He said: “President Bush should make clear to one and all that he will declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq not on the basis of our military victory or the date of our withdrawal, but on what kind of country we leave behind.”

I've always had a great deal of respect for Lugar. He knows what he's talking about. It took a great deal of courage to do this.

Do you think the know-it-alls in the White House will listen?

Update:Here's the editorial in the WaPo.

Posted by Tom at 10:33 a.m. CDT

I'M HOLDING STEADY... 05-23-03

in the lower 80s of the Blogosphere ecosystem which now consists of 2,349 blogs. I guess I shouldn't complain since this blog has only existed for a little more than nine months.

I don't put much stock in these sorts of things but what the hell I'm doing in front of my superiors like Mark Kleiman, WampumBlog, and Road to Surfdom (and even MSGOP-suported blogger Mickey Kaus) in the ecosystem I don't know.

It must be a glitch in the system.

Posted by Tom at 1:55 a.m. CDT

AH, THE REASONING PROCESSES OF THE AVERAGE W SUPPORTER 05-22-03

Get this!

According to this fellow, what I told my son was"beyond rational behavior!"

Ah, who is living in a parallel universe? Me or the guy who supports an immoral and unnecessary war that was sold to the public with lies?

Let's see, what's worse, a blowjob or two or the unnecessary deaths of thousands of civilians?

I'll freely let my readers decide the answer to that question!

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

YOU REALLY SHOULD READ... 05-22-03

this interview with Sidney Blumenthal by Buzzflash.

Here's just a bit of it:

BUZZFLASH: In chapter 11 --"In Starr's Chamber" -- of your book The Clinton Wars, you mention that when you were subpoenaed by Ken Starr, he, in essence, was invoking a legal doctrine that was similar to the infamous Sedition Act. What did you mean by that?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Ken Starr subpoenaed me not because he believed or knew that I had any knowledge whatsoever relevant to the matter he was investigating about Monica Lewinsky. I'd never met Monica Lewinsky. As far as I know, I've never been in the same physical space as her. He subpoenaed me because he was trying to make an example of me, to intimidate others to stop criticizing him.

I had many friends in the press corps, and I was talking to them about the punitive, unconstitutional and abusive partisan investigation that he was running. And I also knew that he had colluded with the right-wing lawyers -- the so-called elves -- around the Paula Jones case, and that there was, in fact, if not vast, a right-wing conspiracy. And that he had misled Attorney General Reno in getting an expansion of the probe. How did I know this? I knew it from David Brock, who was a former right-wing hit man who had turned against the right and still had contacts, and was telling me, in the White House, as an assistant to the President and senior adviser, all of his information.

By the end, really, of the first day that the scandal broke in the Washington Post, January 21, 1998, I knew from my conversations with Brock -- and then with another source that I developed named Bud Lemley, who was the financial manager for the American Spectator and had all their internal records on the Arkansas Project -- pretty much everything that they were doing and that was later revealed. And I was doing my best to make sure that that was reported by the press, and they were beginning to do it. Joe Conason, for example, in The New York Observer, broke the story on the Arkansas Project soon. And The New York Times ran a story.

BUZZFLASH: Let me get back to the Sedition Act. You say that Starr was trying to intimidate you.

BLUMENTHAL: Starr decided to indict me. Control over the press was essential to his investigation because it was a political operation he was illegally leaking to the press. It's illegal under the Code of Federal Prosecutors to give to the press information that has been or might be presented to the grand jury. He was using that sort of information, or what he purported to be that information, to mesmerize the press into publishing articles that were driving the Clinton White House to the wall and really trying to force the President to resign.

BUZZFLASH: And this was illegal?

BLUMENTHAL: This was absolutely illegal, and there was a case against it, of which I was one of three plaintiffs with Bruce Lindsey, who was deputy legal counsel, and the President. We filed a case and it went through many convoluted iterations in the courts about Starr's leaks. And in the end, the federal judge's ruling that Starr had leaked, and was in contempt of court, stands today. And that is the resolution of the whole matter, although no charges were ever brought against him. But it is a fact that that's what stands in history.

You really should read this. I think it's safe to say Starr isn't going to like the way that historians dispose, er, portray him.

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

MORAT IS ON THE CASE 05-22-03

Like Josh Marshall, Morat over at Skeptical Notion is also on the trail of the cover-up down in Texas. He's got several good posts up. Go read them.

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

THE LEGAL ARGUMENTS IN TEXAS... 05-22-03

for why the DPS destroyed those records are becoming quite hilarious -- and awfully weak. Josh Marshall, as usual, has the story. Here's a bit of it but you should read the whole thing:

Now, clearly, the ridiculousness is flying pretty fast and furious here. So let's take a moment to review. The DPS appears to have violated Texas state law by destroying the records. To justify this, they point to a federal regulation which a legal expert says is plainly inapplicable. And the very regulation they're trying to hang their hat on seems to bar the original conduct itself.

So how does the DPS argue it's way out of this? Well, you can't say they aren't creative. According to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, it was a criminal investigation. So they were entitled to conduct it. But only for a while! When they discovered that the legislators were out of state and couldn't be arrested, then it stopped being a criminal investigation. As Vinger told the Austin American-Statesman,"That's when this (federal code) kicked in, because clearly we had records now that were of a noncriminal variety."

This stuff pretty much defies editorial humor since it's difficult to find an analogy more ridiculous and bamboozliferous than the actual argument they're making. Texas Governor Rick Perry disagrees. His spokesperson says he accepts the DPS's explanation.

Ah, Governor Goodhair buys it. That's a shock, isn't it?

Update: Events are moving quickly on this story folks. According to this Houston Chronicle story [via Off the Kuff], Tom Ridge has now said that there is now a"potentially criminal investigation" into the Texas search for Democratic legislators.

Hmmm. Interesting, huh?

I'm with Chuck. What the Republicans in Texas did was"Stupid, stupid, stupid."

Posted by Tom at 3:42 p.m. CDT

TEXAS GOP CHAIRWOMAN:"GOD WILL PROTECT THE WORK WE'RE DOING" 05-22-03

You know, I honestly didn't know God cared one way or the other about unprecedented midterm gerrymandering, did you?

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

GREAT HORSE 05-22-03

Go read it.

Among other things today, they pick apart Isikoff's review of The Clinton Wars.

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

W'S APPROVAL RATING DROPS SIGNIFICANTLY 05-22-03

W's in trouble folks.

What else can you say about a 9 point drop in a month?

And there's no economic relief in sight.

I really don't know any other way to say this: I told you so.

Posted by Tom at 1:27 a.m. CDT

A FURTHER COMMENT ON THE"CLINTON SCANDALS" 05-21-03

Every time I'm forced to deal with this bizarre period in our history I can't help but remember all of the folks at the time who said"What will we tell the children?" (BTW, of the folks who said this on the television back in 1998 and 1999, how many of them are now divorced -- including some of the major players in the Republican Party? Quite a large number I'd wager.)

I don't know about you but I can tell you that it was a hell of a lot easier to explain Clinton's moral lapse (he didn't leave his wife I'll remind you) to my children than the reasons behind the war in Iraq. I was astonished at how many parents in my eight-year-old son's class copped out and told their kids we were invading Iraq for some sort of good reason.

In a few years when they're old enough to read history books, I can't help but wonder what these kids are going to think about this astonishing lie told to them by their parents.

My son was four years old when the Clinton scandals broke. One afternoon, he wanted to know what his parents and other people were talking about involving the president. I told him that the president wasn't faithful to his wife and that it was a terrible, awful thing. However, it had nothing to do with the president's ability to be president, just like it has nothing to do with anyone else holding their job.

My son and I have since had many discussions about it. He is capable of understanding the truth and I suspect most children are capable of understanding it as well. In this world, sadly enough, children see this sort of thing around them all the time.

Would that the same were true about unnecessary and immoral wars.

Well, come to think of it, I guess that sort of thing is commonplace nowadays.

Posted by Tom at 11:39 p.m. CDT

CONASON:"DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH MIKEY" 05-21-03

Atrios points us to Joe Conason's response to Isikoff's outrageous review of Blumenthal's book (blogged about briefly by me here).

I know, I know that the AmEx ad is irritating but just wait for it to get finished.

This is worth your time.

Don't you get the sense that Isikoff already understands that Whitewater will only be a minor anecdote vastly overshadowed by W's unparalleled blundering on all fronts?

Isikoff is worried about how this book will tarnish his"legacy." Historians will identify him as one of the key perpetrators in the media of this ridiculous pseudo-scandal.

All I can say is Mikey, it ain't gonna be pretty buddy.

Atrios also has another post about why he's interested in this"ancient history" at this time.

All I have to say is"Amen."

Posted by Tom at 11:17 p.m. CDT

HUFFINGTON:"A WHITE HOUSE FLUENT IN THE LANGUAGE OF FANATICS" 05-21-03

There's a great Arianna Huffington column today about in which she comments on the incredible disconnect between what this White House says and actual reality.

Here's a bit of it to pique your interest:

Maybe Hollywood's Wachowski brothers are auditioning for the role of Ari Fleischer's replacement. Maybe Karl Rove has moved his office into the"Matrix." Maybe it's all just a bad dream:"The White House Reloaded."

I've been racking my brain, trying to reconcile the ever-widening chasm between what the White House claims to be true and what is actually true. After all, we know the president and his men are not stupid. And despite the tidal wave of misinformation pouring out of their mouths, I don't believe they are consciously lying.

The best explanation I can come up with for the growing gap between their rhetoric and reality is that we are being governed by a gang of out-and-out fanatics. The defining trait of the fanatic — be it a Marxist, a fascist, or, gulp, a Wolfowitz — is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief.

Bush and his fellow fanatics are the political equivalent of those yogis who can go without air for hours. Such is their mental control, these political masters can go without truth for, well, years. Because, in their minds, they're always right. Oopso facto.

That pretty much sums up the White House MO on everything, from the status of Al Qaeda to the magical job-producing virtues of the latest tax cuts.

Who else but a fanatic would have made the outrageous claim, as the president did Friday, just four days after the deadly reemergence of Al Qaeda in Riyadh, that"the United States people are more secure, the world is going to be more peaceful"?

More peaceful than what? The West Bank?

Go read the rest of it.

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

THE FEDERAL DEFICIT IS $201.6B... 05-21-03

for just the first SEVEN months of the fiscal year.

Yep. W's a fiscal disaster folks. And with the Enron accounting used by this administration, I wonder what the deficit REALLY is, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 1:38 p.m. CDT

ART SILBER MAKES... 05-21-03

an excellent point: who cares about the details of the Jessica Lynch rescue? He also suggests that it's ridiculous issues like this that are taking up the attention of the media rather than some rather important things, like the fact that Iraq is a damn mess right now.

Here's part of the post:

Aren't developments like these worth at least as much attention as that being given to the Lynch story? They aren't getting it. And what about those pesky WMDs, an issue I discussed at length here? Where are they, for God's sake? Isn't that just a tad more important than the details of the Lynch rescue? Let me clear about my position on the WMD question. As I said in my earlier post, I don't doubt that Saddam had them -- but the question turns on the nature of the argument made by the Bush Administration. Bush and many other officials repeatedly claimed that Saddam was an"imminent threat" to us, in large part because of his WMD supply, which he might either use himself or provide to others who would do us great harm.

And, as I also pointed out, either our intelligence services were criminally misinformed about the true status of Saddam's weapons supply -- or they knew the danger was not that great, and misled us very seriously. (I'm endeavoring to be polite here; others would be blunter, and simply say they lied to us. You choose the word you think appropriate.) It is certainly true that the danger represented by WMDs was not the only justification offered for the war, but it obviously was one of the central reasons offered. A very few people, like Bill Quick, argue with admirable candor that it simply doesn't matter whether Saddam had WMDs, that there were other compelling reasons for the war. I disagree with Bill's conclusions, and I think he seriously underestimates the other longer term dangers that might flow from the war, only some of which are revealed in the story referenced above.

But at least Bill makes the argument explicitly. Most people are not so candid: they still maintain that the"threat" represented by Saddam made the war necessary now -- but they seem not to have much to say about the ongoing search for the weapons that, thus far, don't appear to be there.

My point about all this is simply the following: in terms of the long-range results and possible dangers of our foreign policy in general, and more particularly as the result of the war with Iraq, there are issues of far greater importance than Jessica Lynch. But, comparatively speaking, debating the coverage of the Lynch story is a piece of cake. It's easy to score points, and it's easy to make the other side look bad. But I would submit that a few years from now (and certainly five or ten years from now), Jessica Lynch will hardly rate a footnote.

But what happens in Iraq over the next six months, and over the next several years, will have effects that may change the world in which we live. Surely these other issues merit as much discussion as the Lynch rescue (and there are a host of other issues as well, as I've indicated in previous posts).

I realize it can be gratifying (sometimes even legitimately so) to make the other fellow look bad, especially when he appears to have asked for it. But isn't it time to return to the issues that actually matter -- and that may affect all our lives for decades to come?

Just asking.

Of course, Arthur, I would suggest that what you're seeing is the modern corporate media (always in pursuit of ratings) and the free market in action. The folks in the media have discovered they can create a great deal of interest (and viewership) through endlessly discussing the Lynch story so they're going to do so. When people stop watching or sending e-mails in, they'll stop talking about it but not until then.

This is one of those times when I think it would be nice to have all of the old government regulations on the media (the fairness doctrine, etc.) that used to exist 25 years ago back in place.

That's not exactly a libertarian position on my part, is it?

Posted by Tom at 12:07 p.m. CDT

SOUNDS LIKE A COVER-UP TO ME 05-21-03

You've got read this to believe it.

My goodness. The Texas DPS is apparently trying to cover up what it did last week -- especially in contacting the Department of Homeland Security. This is pretty astonishing -- and clumsy I might add.

I think it's time for a federal investigation, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 11:50 a.m. CDT

LYONS: A VICTORY (OF SORTS) IN IRAQ 05-21-03

A victory (of sorts) in Iraq

Gene Lyons

According to the White House script, the made-for-TV action/adventure flick CNN called"Showdown Iraq" ended triumphantly when President Bush swaggered across the USS Abraham Lincoln's flight deck in his Village People fighter jock costume. On Chris Matthews' MSNBC blatherfest,"Hardball," the hyperbolic host and G. Gordon Liddy got so overwhelmed with patriotic zeal that they actually discussed the president's, um, well, his"manly characteristic" was Liddy's euphemism. The Watergate felon turned talk show host chided Democrats who found Bush's posturing ludicrous."Run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute," Liddy scolded."He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count-they're all liars."

O tempora, O mores, as disgraced GOP virtue czar Bill Bennett might have observed back when an earlier president's manly characteristic was much in the news. (Speaking of whom, does anybody hang out in Vegas for days at a time playing the slots and attending religious services? And don't casinos make sure big players never go thirsty and meet lots of friendly women?) Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the results of America's first"preventive war" began to look anything but triumphant. The stunning effectiveness of the U.S. military notwithstanding (equipped and trained on Bill Clinton's watch, it's worth noticing), everything war critics feared could go wrong has gone wrong.

In Baghdad, chaos and savagery ruled. No sooner had U.S. Marines pulled down Saddam Hussein's statue than the undermanned force's inability to assure law and order became clear. Troops stood helplessly by as mob violence swept the country."Since the American takeover," writes Hassan Fattah in The New Republic,"Baghdad has turned into an Arab version of the Watts riots. Burning buildings dot the city skyline. Armed looters terrorize the population, tearing into homes and emptying them of their possessions.... Street crime was infrequent under Saddam, but today random rapes, carjackings and murders have become commonplace in many parts of the city, and as a result women have virtually disappeared from the streets. At Baghdad's Al Nouman Hospital, sources say 35 women who were raped and left for dead have been brought into the ward in recent weeks."

Even worse, he wrote,"Iraq's nascent political groups are forming armed militias and storing weapons as they prepare for a potential civil war...."

Two American regime changes later, democracy has been put on indefinite hold. Electrical power, water, sanitary sewers and telephones haven't been restored. Spring planting hasn't taken place for lack of seeds, fertilizer and irrigation pumps."Drive around Basra," suggests prowar New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman,"and see what looters have done to just one institution: the 12,000-student Basra University. It looks as if a tornado hit it. Looters have made off with all the desks and chairs, ransacked the library and were last seen by my colleague Marc Santora ripping out window frames and digging up cables."

Friedman acts surprised that the Bush administration hasn't delivered on its promises. Imagine that. He warns that Iraqis who initially welcomed U.S. troops are growing embittered.

The hawkish New York Post finds American soldiers uneasy, reporting:"' I'm no bleeding heart, ' says Sgt. Leon 'Pete' Peters (who had more than his share of kills during the fighting south of the city). 'I'll pull the trigger quick as anyone. But this place is going to go crazy if we don't find a way to help these people.... I've been here for more than 30 days and I've yet to see a single yellow humanitarian food package. '"

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired Army Secretary Thomas White and effectively silenced Gen. Eric Shinseki after the war. Shinseki had warned Congress that"hundreds of thousands" of soldiers would be needed to occupy Iraq, according to The New York Times. He and other experienced soldiers who criticized Rummy's plan were clearly correct.

The search for Saddam's vaunted"weapons of mass destruction" has turned into farce. The Washington Post describes U.S. intelligence experts bursting into warehouses filled with vacuum cleaners; finding swimming pools and liquor distilleries at supposed WMD sites; and confiscating kids' science projects. Looters have stripped Iraqi nuclear waste sites bare. Have terrorists made off with deadly radioactive waste? Nobody knows. Polls find Americans too busy chanting"We're Number One" to care whether Bush simply lied or U.S. intelligence bungled the WMDs question. But defeating Iraq militarily was always going to be the easy part. Alas, Bush was talking through his hat when he declared al-Qa'ida gravely weakened. Last week's sickening terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco showed that. Suicide bombings in Israel also have wrecked the president's"road map for peace," again empowering lunatics and fantasists on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian question. Otherwise, the president has won a famous victory.

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

THE UNDESERVING ARISTOCRACY 05-20-03

Great post from Kevin over at CalPundit about how the rich in America today don't want to pay their country back for their good fortune. Here's my favorite part:

Yes, rich people are often rich because of their innate talents and hard work. But as Buffett points out, they are also rich because the culture they live in helped them along. If Bill Gates had grown up in Pakistan, he might be worth a few million dollars, but growing up in Seattle he ended up worth $50 billion. So of that $50 billion, how much is due to his innate talent and hard work and how much is due to the fact that he grew up in America?

The answer is obvious. America was responsible for a big chunk of Bill Gates' fortune, which is why it makes sense that he should be asked to pay more to keep the country going. But instead the ultra-rich fight tooth and nail these days to pay as little as they possibly can. Why are they so begrudging about paying back a country that has given them so much?

I would argue that a large number of rich people are rich because of who they are and the families they are born into. George W. Bush provides us a rather prominent and apropo example of how many, a majority perhaps, of the very rich in America are wealthy not because of talent but the luck of their birth.

It's these folks who really don't want to give up anything because they know that they couldn't do it on their own. My research has brought me into contact with many folks who fit this description and few that fit Kevin's of what would be the truly"deserving rich." I've met many folks whose families got wealthy during the Gilded Age and they wouldn't dare want to be reduced to having to do it themselves.

I keep this in mind when I have any sort of envy of the rich. I know the fear that is behind much of their beliefs about how they"deserve" their fortunes and therefore shouldn't have to pay much in taxes. I can't help but remember my Gilded Age history -- about how many of the great grandfathers of today's rich believed they should pass nothing on to their heirs because it would make their offspring idle and worthless. I think it is safe to say that, in many cases, their worst fears have been realized. We have a large number of Americans today who damn near glory in their idleness and, in Kevin's words, will fight"fight tooth and nail" to hold onto their wealth.

For these people I have only pity. As someone who is in no way wealthy or privileged, at least I have achieved everything I've done on my own, not because of who my daddy is.

Let me use an obvious example to make my point. I didn't get into Yale because of who my daddy is. I didn't get into Harvard business school because of who my daddy is. I didn't get chance after chance to make a turkey of an oil business go because of who my daddy is. I didn't become wealthy because of a sweetheart deal that left the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas holding the bag entirely because of who my daddy is. I didn't become governor of Texas because of who my daddy is.

I could go on but what would be the point?

It's this fear of failure and of really having to make it on their own that drives many of the rich today to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It is entirely logical that W should be the champion of these folks, isn't it?

To be honest, I really don't think I'd trade places with them.

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

MICHAEL ISIKOFF DEMONSTRATES ONCE AGAIN... 05-20-03

that he's the most dishonest journalist of his generation -- and that's in the universe that includes Jeff Gerth.

Atrios, from whom I got this link, wonders"Is this a joke?"

Nope. Just Isikoff living up to his usual standards -- and I do use that term loosely -- I'm afraid.

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

RUY TEIXEIRA:"DEMOCRATS HAVE AN EXCELLENT SHOT AT THE INCUMBENT" 05-20-03

Ruy Teixeira's excellent Public Opinion Watch is out for the week. Ruy has been proved right in so many ways the last few weeks. He analyzes a CBS/Gallup poll this week. Here's the most interesting portion of his analysis:

Start with the fact that, in the public’s eyes, the economy already is taking center stage as the most important problem facing the country. According to the Gallup study cited above, 52 percent now mention some economic problem as the most important problem facing the country; that compares to just 8 percent who mention terrorism and 7 percent who mention war.

Then consider how the public currently feels about the economy. They overwhelmingly believe that the economy, compared to two years ago, is worse (58 percent) rather than better (13 percent). Also, they don’t believe this negative situation is improving: 28 percent believe that, in fact, the economy is getting worse, 49 percent say that it is staying the same, and only 22 think that it is getting better.

In this critical area, the public doesn’t have much confidence in Bush and his proposed remedies for the situation. Forty-nine percent say that they are uneasy about Bush’s approach to the economy, compared to 47 percent say that they are confident about it. Forty-eight percent think that it is not very or not at all likely that his proposed tax cuts will create jobs, compared to 46 percent who think that it is very or somewhat likely. More generally, 52 percent think that the proposed tax cuts will have either no effect or a bad effect on the economy, compared to 41 percent who think that they will be beneficial. Finally, just one-third (33 percent) believe that the tax cuts will make a significant difference in the amount of money they have after taxes, while 58 percent believe that they won’t.

The public also says, by 58 percent to 31 percent, that reducing the federal budget deficit, rather than cutting taxes, would be a better way to improve the economy (59 percent to 26 percent among political independents). And by a stunning 81 percent to 14 percent, the public says that gauranteeing all Americans have access to health insurance is more important than continuing to cut taxes (92 percent to 6 percent among independents).

Reflecting these sentiments, the president’s approval rating is quite poor on the economy, clocking in at 43 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval in this poll (37 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval among independents). And, while his overall approval rating remains strong at this point (see above), it is headed down and, assuming Bush’s standard two-point-a-month drop, should be headed below 50 percent early next year. That’s generally considered the danger point for incumbent presidents.

The Republicans’ impressive advantages in the areas of military defense and making the right decisions on terrorism were mentioned above. But in every other area, they lack such strong advantages and usually are at a considerable disadvantage to the Democrats. On protecting the environment, the Democrats are ahead of the Republicans by thirty-seven points, on making prescription drugs more affordable by thirty-one points, on creating new jobs by twenty-two points, on improving the health care system by twenty-two points, on making sure the tax system is fair by ten points, and on improving education by six points (among independents, by thirteen points—in fact, on all these issues, independents are more pro-Democratic than the public as a whole). Finally, on the issue of ensuring a strong economy, the public splits about evenly, giving the GOP a very slight one-point advantage (though note that independents favor the Democrats by a healthy eleven-point margin).

The Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report survey also reports weak poll numbers for Bush and the GOP among swing-voting independents. Independents now prefer, by thirteen points, that Democrats, rather than Republicans, win control of Congress in the next election. And only 25 percent of independents say they would definitely vote to reelect Bush in 2004. A “hard reelect” number this low among swing voters has got to be considered another danger sign for the Bush and the GOP.

All these numbers suggest that the Democrats have an excellent shot at the incumbent, despite the GOP’s formidable strength in the national security area.

And, as the economy continues to falter, Americans feel threatened by terror attacks that are the result of W's war and Iraq descends into an expensive chaos, look for W's advantage on foreign policy and the war on terror to vanish pretty quickly.

We'll see of course but that's my prediction -- and I've been largely correct for a while folks.

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

FAUX PAX AMERICANA 05-20-03

Josh Marshall points us to this excellent Washington Monthly article by Phillip Carter about our failed efforts at"winning the peace" in Iraq.

I think the press is finally getting it. We had enough soldiers to beat a fourth-rate pathetic military power fairly quickly but it's going to take a much larger number to keep peace in the anarchy that we have created through pursuing the war.

We're not looking real good to the rest of the world right now folks.

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

A NEW ADDITION TO THE BLOGROLL 05-20-03

Everyone, meet Skeptical Notion, a new worthy addition to the blogroll.

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

WAPO UNDERSTANDS THE KILLER DS 05-20-03

Here's an editorial from the WaPo that demonstrates they understood what was going on in Texas last week.

It's dead-on.

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

NEW FBI AGENTS QUITTING IN DROVES 05-20-03

You really should read this story about newly-trained FBI agents quitting the agency because of the low pay.

And then you need to remember that the administration won't raise the pay for FBI agents because their first priority is to pay for big tax cuts for the wealthy.

Boy, W sure does have our domestic security foremost in his mind, doesn't he?

Posted by Tom at 9:22 a.m. CDT

QUESTIONS THAT DESERVE TO BE ANSWERED 05-20-03

You should read both of these columns (here and here) by Michele Landsberg of the Toronto Star.

Shouldn't these questions about 9/11 be answered? Why won't the administration allow a straight-forward adequately-funded investigation into 9/11? I know it's more than likely going to be embarrassing for the administration but it's pretty damned important, don't you think?

And why, when someone asks these questions, is he or she shouted down in public by the administration and their allies as" conspiracy theorists" or kooks? I mean we're not talking about anything as crazy here as the stories that were told about Clinton and/or the Branch Davidians a few years ago? (Crazy fact-free stories that were tacitly supported by Republicans back then.)

What's wrong with finding out the truth about 9/11?

We've all seen those Hollywood movies that have major government conspiracies as integral to their plots. I always found them somewhat humorous and hilariously far-fetched. In the wake of this administration's refusal to investigate 9/11 or even release a currently-completed report into it to the public, I don't find those movies as hilarious as I used to that's for sure.

Do you?

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

A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER 05-19-03

As a blogger for History News Network, I tend to stick to political/historical topics here. I do this because I feel that is what is expected of me as a blogger whose blog is hosted on a historical website.

However, every now and then I do talk about other topics because, to be honest, I sometimes tire of only talking about history or politics.

I am, I have to admit since my time living in Bloomington and later Indy, a motorsports fan. Since my time in Indiana, I have followed NASCAR and the Indy Racing League religiously. It's hard to admit this publicly because motorsports are generally viewed by educated intellectuals as absolutely beneath contempt but I've held off long enough -- nine months have passed without me saying a single thing about one of my (admittedly somewhat embarrassing) passions in life.

I'm sure you're now wondering what in the world it is that I want to talk about. Well it's the fact that I think Robin Miller is right that A.J. Foyt IV is over his head and probably shouldn't be racing in this week's Indy 500. I've watched every IRL race this year and I think Foyt IV is a disaster waiting to happen.

I know that sitting Foyt IV would mean that there are only 32 cars instead of the standard 33 in this year's field and would be an embarrassment to the folks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, this eighteen-year old is going to kill himself or someone else if he isn't removed from this race or the other IRL events this year.

I hope I'm wrong but I can't help but think that the safety of the other drivers is important enough for such an extreme action.

And now back to your regularly-scheduled political/historical blogging...

Posted by Tom at 11:27 p.m. CDT

W'S POSTWAR IRAQ"ON THE BRINK OF FIASCO" 05-19-03

Read this story which is just a shorter version of this NYT story.

Boy, suddenly the press may wake up and realize what a big damn mess W's post-war Iraq is -- and that the administration has really screwed up. However, the administration may be able to shut them up by questioning their patriotism. We'll see.

This is not going well. If you recall, I warned everyone about the post-war chaos before the war.

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

PARALLEL UNIVERSE REDUX 05-19-03

Among many great posts, Jeff Cooper has a wonderful post up about the parallel universe that Ruffini and other conservatives inhabit. It's very good.

Posts like this are par for the course on Jeff's blog. You should be reading him.

Here's my favorite part:

Using broad labels like"the left" and"the right" is always tempting, and is sometimes a useful shorthand, but attributing specific characteristics to those broad groups is generally a good way to make yourself look foolish. I've fallen prey to the temptation myself on occasion, so I suppose I can't be too hard on Patrick. But really, his post serves as a cautionary tale. If you find yourself writing about"the left" or"the right," you really should stop, re-read, and think before you post.
You wouldn't want to sound like Crazy Davey Horowitz, would you?

Posted by Tom at 7:21 p.m. CDT

TODAY'S LOTT UPDATE 05-19-03

Tim Lambert today discovers a stunningly error-filled paragraph in Lott's new book. This one's a doozy. You'll have to see it for yourself to believe it.

So the questions keep mounting about Lott -- and now we're talking about his new book, not his old one. You'd think he'd want to be extra special careful in this book after all the controversy about his old one, wouldn't you?

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

ARTHUR SILBER IS ASKING... 05-19-03

some interesting questions in this post. Go read it.

I guess my quick response would be that these generalizations don't hold up well when subjected to close scrutiny. While conservatives do clearly believe in an interventionist foreign policy, they don't really believe in a less intrusive and smaller government with regard to the economy at all -- it's just the rhetoric they employ. It gets votes so that's why they say these things. If you recall, W's economic policy has been anything but libertarian in nature (steel tariffs for example) -- and most conservatives have been backing farm subsidies and other economic regulations for business that increasingly help big business (which rewards them with campaign contributions) to the detriment of small business for decades now.

As for liberals being foreign policy isolationists and economic interventionists, I'm not really sure that characterization is accurate either. I know many liberals who supported the war on Iraq to"liberate" the Iraqi people and who believe that the U.S. should be actively involved in world affairs. On the economic front, most liberals, myself included, know that government regulation doesn't always work and that there probably is such a thing as"too much" regulation. Therefore, I think one makes a rather large mistake in arguing that liberals these days believe that the government has the"wisdom of Solomon" as far as the economy is concerned.

Posted by Tom at 2:22 p.m. CDT

NO ONE PUTS IT QUITE LIKE... 05-19-03

Phil Carpenter.

Go read it.

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

W'S CHIEF LIAR RESIGNS 05-19-03

As I'm sure you know, Ari Fleischer has resigned effective in July.

You really should read this story more closely though. The senior staff in the administration is stabbing Ari in the back on the way out:

Over the months, a pattern of finger-pointing has emerged with every miscue: Fleischer' supporters would privately accuse superiors of passing on bad information to the press office while the senior staff would quietly point the finger back to Fleischer or his office.
In other words, it sounds like Ari's even lying about why he's resigning!

He just can't help himself, can he?

Posted by Tom at 9:49 a.m. CDT

PODVIN:"ORRIN HATCH: THE MAESTRO" 05-19-03

Boy, you've got to read this hard-hitting Buzzflash commentary by David Podvin about Orrin Hatch. It's quite stinging. Go read it.

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

THE CHAOS THAT IS W'S IRAQ 05-19-03

How about 242 dead in the last three weeks in Baghdad from gunshot wounds?

Boy, we sure are doing a good job keeping the peace in Baghdad, huh?

I'm sure those 242 families are glad we invaded Iraq.

We brought freedom after all -- and utter chaos.

Posted by Tom at 12:38 a.m. CDT

NEW ADDITIONS TO THE BLOGROLL 05-18-03

I have two new additions to the blogroll: Archy and Untelevised.org.

They're both great blogs so go give them some love, will you?

Update: Arthur Silber's libertarian blog has just been added to the blogroll as well.

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

GO AND... 05-18-03

read this post by Dwight Meredith.

Now, just why the hell does Michael Savage have a show on MSGOP?

This comment is too awful, hurtful and inhumane even for a host on a Faux wannabe network.

The contact information is in the post. I encourage you to use it.

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

I JUST NOW READ... 05-18-03

Eric Alterman's now infamous (in the blogosphere at least) column defending John Fund.

At the risk of getting some flack from my lefty brethren in the blogosphere, I think Eric's onto something here. It appears, from all accounts, that Fund has done some really creepy stuff but I'm not sure if we can hang Fund for everything his accuser says just yet.

Admittedly, maybe I'm too worried about the nightmare scenario of being part of an out-of-control partisan lynchmob, but I'm not sure we shouldn't wait until we know more to pronounce Fund a girlfriend-beating monster.

That's just my two cents (and not much more admittedly) based upon what I've read and know so far.

Of course, I'm also the naive moron who advocated taking the high road a little while back, so you probably should take my caution with a grain of salt.

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

MORE STAGE MANAGEMENT FOR W 05-18-03

Reader T.L. Clark passes on a link to this story by the Indy Star about how W's stage managers even built a set for his roundtable discussion with seniors. W's stage managers clearly even fed W a line to repeat to the seniors about how this staged photo-op was just a talk around a kitchen table:

One of the eight seniors who met privately with President Bush at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Tuesday said Bush remarked that it felt like the group was just chatting around the kitchen table.

There's a reason for that. The president met with the seniors in a"dining room" that was constructed specifically for the 35-minute gathering.

The room had four walls and was complete with carpeting, several framed prints and a round wooden dining table. The only thing missing was a ceiling.

Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson saw the room, which was inside an agriculture building at the fairgrounds, before he officially greeted Bush on Tuesday.

"It was a little like a movie set," he said.

Calls to determine who paid for the set, er, room were not returned by state Republican officials.

You know, W and his handlers truly make Clinton look like a devil-may-care politician, don't they?

Posted by Tom at 3:26 p.m. CDT

THE OTHER ROGER AILES! 05-18-03

Roger Ailes (the other one) has some great posts up today (although his permalinks aren't working). My favorite has got to be the one about how he sometimes gets e-mail for Voldemort himself:

Every once in a great while, I get an e-mail at my Hotmail account from someone trying to contact the other Roger Ailes. I usually just delete the message. Sometimes I write back, telling the sender to contact Fox News, and then delete it.

Now, how dense do you have to be to think that the head of the Fox News Channel uses a Hotmail account? The channel is owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation. It is part of a media empire. It has it own extensive website. The other Ailes must make millions a year. Why in the unholy name of Rupert Murdoch would the other Roger Ailes use a frickin' free web-based e-mail account?

Come on, people, I know you watch Fox News, but you must have some small sense of reality left.

Indeed.

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

A PARALLEL UNIVERSE 05-18-03

Both liberal big dogs Atrios and CalPundit have now linked to this post by conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini. If you read many blogs, you really should read this post. After you get finished laughing yourself silly at the idea that conservative mainstream Republican bloggers like Insty are"flexible" in their political beliefs, feel free to leave a comment.

Above all else, I love Atrios's Star Trek reference to one of the all time great episodes. Where's Ruffini's scraggly goatee?

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

LOTT UPDATE 05-18-03

Go read Tim Lambert's Lott update website and get caught up. Here's a link to my last post on Lott as well.

I'll wait.

Okay, now go read this excellent post by ArchPundit about how Insty doesn't seem to understand social science at all.

I do find it interesting that both Lott and Insty play the obfuscation / distraction game -- they're apparently peas in a pod as far as that's concerned.

I really do get the sense that Lott's days are numbered now. I know that Lott's reputation as any sort of"scholar" is essentially shot now.

Oh yeah, and while I'm at it, here's a link to the post from April 29th that indexes my earlier Lott postings.

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

HOW BAD ARE THINGS IN IRAQ? 05-18-03

Very bad apparently. You really should read this. I'll warn you though, it'll make you very angry at the sheer incompetence of the Bush administration in Iraq. The nation is in absolute chaos.

And if you supported this war, I wish I had a way to MAKE you read this piece. If you did support the war, I do want you to remember that those of us who were against the war warned you about this. If you recall, I told you the war was the easy part.

For some reason, W and the boys really did think they could destroy Hussein's regime and everything would still be fine in Iraq.

The current mess in Iraq is the result of utter, complete, and total incompetence on the part of this administration.

How long are Americans going to put up with this?

Better yet, how long is it going to take us to repair the damage done to our nation's reputation and prestige in the world by this administration?

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

SPEAKING OF FARCE... 05-18-03

you ought to read this story about the comical search for WMDs. When you get done with it, you'll realize how silly this is getting to be. Here's my favorite part:

The language barrier loomed larger as time went on. If Team 3 had found vats of nerve agent, as its leaders once hoped, part of the mission could have been accomplished with instruments and technical expertise. But if the team had to look for subtler clues, it lacked the tools.

Around present-day Hilla, not far from Baghdad, archaeologists believe the Tower of Babel once stood. Team 3 is a Babel in miniature. Among its 25 men and women are Turkish, Spanish, Russian and Chinese speakers, but no one understands the local language.

...

Anderson, the only team member learning Arabic, still does not have the ability to ask those questions. He has taught himself five phrases so far:"Good morning,""Good evening,""Drop your weapon,""That's dangerous," and"Keep away."

As Team 3 worked, it became evident more than once that even a passive reading knowledge would help.

On its way through one darkened corridor, the team reached an especially recalcitrant door. Sgt. Ivan Westrick, the team's explosive ordnance technician, swung the sledgehammer in a powerful arc that struck sparks with every blow, like flint on steel. A reporter later translated a snapshot of a sign across that door. It said,"No Smoking."

A longer announcement, in bold red and blue strokes, attracted the team's attention. The sign had been positioned in such a way that Saddam Hussein, gazing sternly off the canvas of a youthful portrait, appeared to be reading it. Anderson wondered briefly what it might say.

Had anyone known the answer then, the chamber of vacuum cleaners in the next corridor would have come as no surprise. Neither would the contents of the other sealed rooms: air conditioners, rolls of fabric, marble facing stones.

"Honorable Brother and Packer," the sign began."Packaged goods cannot be returned after leaving the depot." The sign welcomed suggestions, apologized for delays, and thanked patrons for their cooperation. It concluded with a two-word signature:"STORAGE ADMINISTRATION."

So no one on this team can read Arabic, huh?

Brilliant.

Absolutely brilliant.

Posted by Tom at 6:59 a.m. CDT

FRANK RICH EVISCERATES BENNETT THE HYPOCRITE 05-18-03

You really should read this column. Here's just a bit of it to pique your interest:

But the guy just couldn't keep away from Vegas. It was there and in Atlantic City that he plied the gambling habit that has made him comic relief for a grateful nation in the two weeks since The Washington Monthly and Newsweek first exposed his $8 million, decade-long history of losses. Many of the gags, though, miss the point. Mr. Bennett's embarrassment is seen by late-night comics and Washington alike as a strictly personal humiliation: Mr. Virtue, in a farcical belly flop out of"Tartuffe," is caught sinning. But for those of us who think gambling isn't a sin so much as a potential illness, there is a different and even greater payoff in Mr. Bennett's downfall. The puncturing of his dishonest public persona is a huge nail in the coffin of the disgraceful national culture wars in which he served as a particularly vicious commanding general during the 1980's and 1990's.

Ah, Vegas! I love the place, but why would Mr. Bennett seek it out? Casino gambling is legal in 28 states, many of which are far closer to his Maryland home; he could play his beloved slots as nearby as Delaware. Maybe he was drawn by the same attributes that appeal to many Americans: big drinks, big shows, big breasts. Maybe he liked the fact that Vegas, after a brief effort to offer family-friendly attractions in the early 90's, had reverted to its Rat Pack roots. As The Los Angeles Times declared two years ago, the sin is back in Sin City with an explosion of sex shows on and beyond the Strip.

Mr. Bennett's compulsive, prolonged visits to a town that exuberantly epitomizes everything he was against in American culture is the hypocrisy that truly resonates — far more so than the gambling itself. If his slots habit has wreaked havoc on his family and bank account, that's his own private business. But the hypocrisy he has long practiced as a cultural warrior inflicted damage far beyond his immediate household.

Mr. Bennett was recognizable as a phony (at least to anyone outside the Beltway) long before he was captured on video at a casino. He was always out to score a jackpot for himself first — and let culture take the hindmost. Even as he lambasted Time Warner for trafficking in gangsta rap and told a fellow anti-rap crusader (Bob Dole) to return some of his Time Warner campaign contributions, he took money from one of that company's divisions, the Book of the Month Club. When caught by The Washington Post in this apparent philosophical conflict in 1995, he defended it by saying that the club"doesn't give me that much money" (the sum was a mere bagatelle to him — only six figures). At the height of the mid-90's Republican revolution, he joined Newt Gingrich in the campaign to vilify public television — and then sold his own"Children's Book of Virtues" to PBS as an animated TV series. To answer charges of hypocrisy on that occasion, he said that only private money would be used to produce the program, conveniently ignoring the fact that public money is essential to support the stations that would broadcast his cartoons.

Great stuff, eh?

Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 6:51 a.m. CDT

BUSH ADMINISTRATION PREDICTS FUTURE TERROR ATTACKS BY AL QAEDA 05-17-03

The Bush administration is now warning Americans of waves of future terror attacks by Al Qaeda. And to think only a couple of weeks ago W was telling us they were decimated and no longer a threat.

Wrong again. And, W, thanks for giving us that IraqWar. As many predicted, it has given the terrorists something to live -- and die -- for.

Good plan W -- and for goodness sakes don't say you weren't warned. Plenty of us tried.

How long can Americans put up with an administration this clueless, foolish, and careless?

Posted by Tom at 5:28 p.m. CDT

SO MUCH... 05-17-03

for that little"democracy thing" in Iraq for a while.

Update: Kevin has a post along these lines (but much more detailed) that you should read. Kevin's right, Bush has betrayed essentially every group that supported this war now -- and it is all about partisan political games.

Posted by Tom at 7:38 a.m. CDT

THANKS AGAIN! 05-16-03

Sometime this afternoon I had my 210,000th visitor, probably via a link from Buzzflash. It's only been eight days since I had my 200,000th visitor. Considering this blog was essentially down one of those days, I'm very happy with that!

I've also had a little more than 305,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th.

As always folks, I do appreciate it! I hope to give you a reason to return!

I have just finished my third major project for the day. I also injured my toe rather severely as well. I'm hoping I'll be able to referee my two soccer games tomorrow!

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

TOM DELAY AND THE SEPARATION OF POWERS 05-16-03

You know, when I wrote this post for the Daily Billboard at the New York Press the day before yesterday I was quite angry about the blatant abuse of power by the administration in using the Department of Homeland Security to find recalcitrant Texas legislators.

Then, yesterday, the folks at DPS tried to lay all of this at the door of a single Texas Highway patrolman, Will Crais, claiming he misled Federal authorities into helping him by claiming that the plane was"missing." I was suspicious of this yesterday -- and worried that I was wrong in my post to the billboard -- but at the time thought this story sounded legit.

Well, what a difference a day -- and Josh Marshall -- makes. Apparently, this cowardly attempt by Texas Republicans to lay the blame on one state trooper is collapsing as we speak. The effort to find the legislators was essentially run out of Texas Speaker of the House Tom Craddick's office and involved, get this, Tom DeLay passing on Craddick's request to Federal authorities.

So, since these shenanigans involved creepy Tom DeLay, it may have actually been worse than I portrayed it in my post because now it involves not just the administration abusing its power but Tom DeLay abusing his position and essentially violating any semblance of the separation of powers. DeLay's actions certainly violate the separation of State and Federal powers and very well may violate the separation of Legislative and Executive powers. As Josh puts it:

Just draw back for a moment and ask the question: what on earth is a House Majority Leader [DeLay is actually Majority Whip, right?] doing passing on requests from a state House Speaker to the Justice Department, asking for federal officers to arrest members of his own legislature? Add to that the fact that none of the stories match up. Craddick says he made no effort to pull in the Feds. But DeLay says he passed along Craddick's request to pull in the Feds. All of which lends tremendous credence to the notion that Lt. Will Crais, shall we say, acted alone.
And isn't it wonderful that they're trying to lay it all on a state trooper in order to save their skins? Not only are these guys out of control and violating the constitution, they're cowards too.

I've got one more household project to finish. More later.

Posted by Tom at 5:44 p.m. CDT

"THIS IS ABOUT STAGECRAFT RATHER THAN STATECRAFT" 05-16-03

How do you make your political hack supporters, millionaire backers, and GOP state legislators look like"ordinary folks?" Why, have them take off their ties of course!

President Bush came to Indianapolis to send the message that his tax cut plan will help everyone and not just the wealthy. That's why all those people sitting behind him were instructed on what to wear.

When it comes to Bush’s public appearances, it seems very little is left to chance. The president has been criticized for the effort and expense that it took to create photo opportunities when he flew onto the USS Abraham Lincoln earlier this month. The same sort of image-making was a part of his Indianapolis speech.

George W. Bush came to Indianapolis for the picture. And in that picture, the White House wanted ordinary people.

“These are V.I.P.'s right, ordinary people aren't up on stage behind the president of the United States when he's speaking but the trick is to make V.I.P.'s look like they're ordinary people,” said Bill Bloomquist, political scientist.

That's why everyone sitting behind the president wearing a necktie was instructed to take it off.

Exhibit A is Brian Bosma. He appeared onstage in a necktie, prior to the president's arrival. When the president got there the Indiana House minority leader had an open collar. In a News 8 interview immediately following the speech, the tie was back on.

Former state Republican chairman Mike McDaniel helped organize the event. “They wanted them to be themselves and that's what we were trying to get out of those shots and it worked for the most part,” he said.

"They" are the White House staff, and they had other instructions, too. Bush fan Ann McDaniel was told not to flash her camera. Her companion, Wilma Hart, had this to say to the White House staffer: “I said, ‘Do we look like we just crawled out from under a rock someplace?’”

“When you see somebody who is in coat an tie, then not in coat and tie, then in coat and tie, it sort of reveals that this is about stagecraft rather than statecraft,” said Bloomquist.

Yep. This White House really is that superficial. Pathetic, huh?

Here's the corresponding NYT story about the army of stage managers behind W.

It's a very busy day for me today. I've got to finish several home projects. I'm not sure I'll be able to blog much. As always, we'll see, right?

Posted by Tom at 7:32 a.m. CDT

GETTING RICH OFF OF CORPORATE WELFARE: W'S"AMERICAN DREAM" 05-15-03

Michael Kinsley profiles Ted Martinez, one of the"small businessmen" that W visited for a photo-op the other day. It turns out that Ted got rich off of corporate welfare and even affirmative action government contracts:

So you get rich with a dozen different types of tax-funded help, you become a Republican, and you live happily ever after complaining about how much you pay in taxes. Maybe President Bush was right after all, that is the American dream.
Of course that's the American dream for W -- that's how he got rich after all. Anyone remember the fishy way W got his millions -- they came directly from the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas after all!

Therefore you actually have to give W credit for being honest in this instance. Too bad the rest of us can't get such sweetheart deals entirely because of who our daddy is, huh?

As W and wealthy Republicans know, honestly earning your millions because of hardwork and toil (not corporate welfare) is for suckers.

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

IS THE NEW HEAD OF THE IRAQI OCCUPATION A LIAR OR JUST BLIND AS A BAT? 05-15-03

Paul Bremer has gotten off to a rough start it appears. Of course, come to think of it, so has our entire occupation of Iraq.

So far it certainly looks like a replay of the Bush administration's incompetence in Afghanistan to me.

God help the Iraqi people.

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

TURKISH DEMOCRACY THOROUGHLY ANNOYED WOLFOWITZ 05-15-03

Boy, now we know where one of the leading neocon hawks truly stands on democracy. In Josh Marshall's latest column for The Hill, Josh discusses some of what Paul Wolfowitz has been saying in interviews on Turkish television:

That’s a rough demand for a fellow democracy and a longtime ally. But what raised the ire of many Turks was another of Wolfowitz’s statements: the Bush administration, he said, was disappointed that the Turkish military “did not play the strong leadership role on that issue [i.e., the Iraq debate] that we would have expected.”

Outside the context of Turkish politics, that statement might seem obscure or insignificant. But in Turkey the meaning seemed painfully clear: The United States wished the Turkish military had either overruled the elected government or perhaps even pushed it aside in favor of one more subservient to U.S. demands.

As numerous Turkish commentators have noted, that’s an odd stance for a country now presenting itself as the champion of Middle Eastern democracy. But it’s particularly ill-conceived at the present moment in Turkish political history.

Now we know how important democracy really is for the neocons -- it's fine as long as your government does what they want.

If not, well, the hell with it. It's just not important.

Hopefully we're back up for good now. Sorry for the technical problems folks!

Posted by Tom at 4:09 p.m. CDT

SUDDENLY FINDING ACTUAL WMDS ISN'T ALL THAT IMPORTANT
05-15-03

Boy, you should read this article about how the Bushies are trying to change the tune now that the lies and exaggerations in their case for war have been exposed:

The Bush administration has changed its tune on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the reason it went to war there. Instead of looking for vast stocks of banned materials, it is now pinning its hopes on finding documentary evidence.

The change in rhetoric, apparently designed in part to dampen public expectations, has unfolded gradually in the past month as special U.S. military teams have found little to justify the administration's claim that Iraq was concealing vast stocks of chemical and biological agents and was actively working on a covert nuclear weapons program.

"The administration seems to be hoping that inconvenient facts will disappear from the public discourse. It's happening to a large degree," said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Police [Policy?] Studies, a liberal think-tank which opposed the war.

...

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice said the United States was sending a new team to Iraq to scour the country for evidence.

The plant team, you mean? The"ginning up" the documents team, perhaps? This isn't going to be the Office of Special Plans (for War with Iraq) people, is it?

The new team will be"more expert" at following the paper trail and other intelligence. She said Iraq appeared to have had a virtually"inspections proof" system of concealing chemical and biological weapons by developing chemicals and agents that could be used for more than one purpose, but that could be put together as weapons at the last minute.

She said U.S. officials never expected that"we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction.

I don't know about you but that's certainly the impression W and the boys gave before the war -- and they look like idiots to the world now.

If you read this blog before the war, you know that it was obvious to everyone who cared to know that the administration was lying -- particularly in Powell's U.N. presentation.

Look for them to suddenly find a"document" that verifies some outrageous scenario in the next few days.

Don't believe a word of it.

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

WE'RE BACK! 05-15-03

There was a server crash at George Mason University yesterday which took the HNN website down for about 18 hours.

Sorry folks! We're back and on the job.

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

LYONS:"SIMPLY TRUTH" 05-14-03

Gene lays the wood to the NYT this week!

Simply Truth: the Cardinal Tenet of Journalism

At the expense of giving an antagonist the benefit of the doubt, Joseph Lelyveld couldn't have known when he wrote his dismissive review of Sidney Blumenthal's book"The Clinton Wars," what a bad week it would be for condescending New York Times editors. Lelyveld retired as executive editor in 2001. According to the Time's front page apologia for the transgressions of plagiarist and fabulator Jayson Blair, he'd written a memo in 2000 warning that too many factual blunders were creeping into the newspaper.

It's tempting to say Lelyveld woke up at least 10 years too late. Except judging by his patronizing attitude toward Blumenthal in the New York Review of Books, he's still snoozing. Since one of the"The Clinton Wars'" major themes is how The Times and the national press madly pursued one absurd Clinton"psuedoscandal" after another until they finally caught the Big Creep with his pants down, sleepwalking was a professional necessity.

Caveat: Blumenthal is a personal friend; I'm a minor character in his book, which makes considerable use of Joe Conason's and my book"The Hunting of the President."

Although comical and sad, Jayson Blair's inventions did little real harm. Many journalists secretly love the ritual purging of hoaxers like him, Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke, the Washington Post reporter who made-up a in imaginary child heroin addict. It lets them display their dedication to what The Times expose calls"the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth."

Ah, simple truth. Crediting"The Hunting of the President," Blumenthal describes several absurdities in Times reporter Jeff Gerth's initial reporting of the Whitewater psuedoscandal, including his portrayal of Arkansas securities commissioner Beverly Bassett Schaffer as suspiciously forgetful about Jim McDougal's doomed Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. The story clearly implied that Schaffer, a Clinton appointee, had malingered while Clinton's business partner played financial games.

"In fact," Blumenthal writes"before [Gerth's] article appeared, she had given him a twenty page memo spelling out in detail what had actually happened--she had requested federal regulators to close the S & L--an account Gerth ignored." She'd urged the Feds in writing to shut Madison Guaranty down fourteen months before they acted. If Lelyveld ever knew that, he's not saying.

"Not many people will want to dive into the details of the Whitewater case again," writes Lelyveld."But since I had a measure of responsibility for the appearance of the first story on the subject, I can't avoid quarreling with the depiction of the reporter that became standard in the Clinton camp and that is faithfully repeated by Blumenthal. Far from being a gullible tool of Clinton-haters with a casual relation to facts, Jeff Gerth is an estimable and painstaking investigative reporter who knows how to read legal papers and financial reports."

Interesting, then, as Blumenthal also shows, that the facts and conclusions in the 1995 Pillsbury Report--including every single document and cancelled check The Times had demanded to see--basically got ignored as Gerth and the press pack went whooping down false trails laid by Kenneth Starr's leak-o-matic prosecutors. Lelyveld is still kvetching about the Clinton's refusal to put the documents into Gerth's hands after he'd demonstrated his selectivity toward that elusive willow-the-wisp"simple truth."

Sophisticated reporters like Gerth know better than to make things up. But like Clinton, they also know what to leave out. In a"Clintonian" statement, apparent fidelity to literal fact masks an intention to mislead. To wit,"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." (But I did let her...)" Well, we all know what he let her do.

Just so, Whitewater, which became the most elaborate shaggy-dog story in recent American history--weakening the White House and empowering Starr's partisan witch hunt--precisely because few"disturbing questions" about the Clintons' ill-fated real estate venture ever made sense. Exculpatory facts were routinely concealed. An editor with a fraction of Lelyveld's self-esteem should have known.

Alas, he still hasn't mastered the basics, falsely asserting that Jim McDougal"was at the helm of the biggest savings and loan association in the state when it became insolvent." In reality, Madison Guaranty was one of Arkansas's smaller S & L failures, roughly 1/15 the size of First Federal's $950 million cave-in. Nor was McDougal in charge. He'd been removed two and a half years before Madison's closure, partly at Bassett Schaffer's insistence.

Elsewhere, Lelyveld portrays Blumenthal as an equivocating" courtier" for failing to acknowledge aspects of the Lewinsky scandal hurtful to Clinton. In Salon.com, Conason quotes directly from"The Clinton Wars" to show that every item Lelyveld says Blumenthal ignored, Blumenthal dealt with, often pungently, including a tough passage in which he told both Clintons that the president's reckless actions"had given ammunition to his enemies and endangered everything he believed in."

Among the most formidable of those enemies was The New York Times.

Posted by Tom at 2:21 p.m. CDT

INSTY AND THE LOTT SUPPORTERS ARE GETTING DESPERATE
05-14-03

Tim Lambert has an excellent post up today at the Lott update website. As expected, as the case against Lott builds, the pro-Lott folks are getting desperate folks.

Glenn Reynolds is particularly out of control. He's gotten desperate enough he's using the conservative academic correlate to the evidence-averse"liberal media" argument by political conservatives. With essentially no evidence, Glenn is now claiming that liberal academics have been doing worse things in this field for years.

Glenn is practicing the fine art of obfuscation -- something he's quite good at by the way. When one of your guys is caught screwing up, try to distract people by making wild claims that you want people to go check out instead of looking into the sins of your guy. Glenn is now claiming, sans evidence, that the lefties have been publishing anti-gun"bilge" for years.

As I've said since the Lott scandal really got going in January, Glenn is behaving just as Bellesiles' defenders did. Interestingly, in many ways Glenn has actually gone beyond them -- he's now making wild evidence-free claims about the nature of other scholarship in the field just to distract you from the trouble his man Lott is in. It's a pretty desperate tactic.

As I've said since January, Glenn believes Lott is right because he agrees with his pro-right-to-carry law thesis. Glenn has repeatedly admitted not understanding the statistical details but that still doesn't stop him from saying outrageous things about the competing work in the field without evidence.

The day AEI fires Lott for his conduct will be quite a day over at Insty's blog I'm sure.

This is starting to get interesting again, isn't it?

The irony of the Bellesiles hounds defending Lott's questionable research is quite a sight to behold, huh?

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

THE GOP WANTS ASSAULT WEAPONS ON THE STREETS STARTING NEXT YEAR 05-14-03

I'd love to hear these jokers explain the practical applications for Uzis and AK-47s, wouldn't you?

Boy, W really cares about keeping us all safe, huh?

BTW, W said he supported the ban during the campaign and now he's weaseling out of it by refusing to call for a renewal of the ban.

Yet another campaign promise broken.

Has he kept any of them?

I'm with Josh:

At a certain point you wonder whether the GOP will have to start executing family pets before the Dems find something they can mobilize on.
Living in the gun-loving Midwestern state that defeated right-to-carry in a statewide referendum a few years ago, I can tell you this is an issue you can hit the GOP over the head with.

Not that the spineless Democrats are paying any attention right now.

Posted by Tom at 9:37 a.m. CDT

MODO IS... 05-14-03

dead-on target today:

Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent."Al Qaeda is on the run," President Bush said last week."That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. . . . They're not a problem anymore."

Members of the U.S. intelligence community bragged to reporters that the terrorist band was crippled, noting that it hadn't attacked during the assault on Iraq.

"This was the big game for them — you put up or shut up, and they have failed," Cofer Black, who heads the State Department's counterterrorism office, told The Washington Post last week.

...

The administration's lulling triumphalism about Al Qaeda exploded on Monday in Riyadh, when well-planned and coordinated suicide strikes with car bombs and small-arms fire killed dozens in three housing complexes favored by Westerners, including seven Americans.

The attack was timed to coincide with Colin Powell's visit to the kingdom, and clearly meant to hurt both America and Saudi Arabia. Even though Rummy announced two weeks ago in Riyadh that he was pulling the U.S. troops Osama hated so much from Saudi Arabia, Qaeda leaders still want to undermine the Saudi monarchy that has been so receptive to infidel U.S. presidents.

Buried in the rubble of Riyadh are some of the Bush administration's basic assumptions: that Al Qaeda was finished, that invading Iraq would bring regional stability and that a show of American superpower against Saddam would cow terrorists.

Finally, someone is saying these things. Has anyone else in the media?

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

EVEN AFTER THE GLORIOUS WAR... 05-13-03

only 34% say they will definitely vote for W in 2004. That's not exactly a big vote of confidence for the grand war leader, huh?

And that 34% will vote for George W. Bush in 2004 even if, in the meantime, W sprouts horns and a pointy tail and begins thrashing around the Oval Office shouting obscene iambic couplets.

[Link via Atrios]

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

DON'T YOU THINK IT'S ABOUT TIME... 05-13-03

that Dick Morris paid his $257,624 in back state income taxes?

Posted by Tom at 5:33 p.m. CDT

MORE ON THE TERROR ATTACKS IN SAUDI ARABIA 05-13-03

Joe Moran wants to know why there's a rush to blame Al-Qaeda and suggests we need to pay more attention to who the targets of this attack were. This may not have been more of an anti-Saudi royal family strike than an anti-American strike.

Josh Marshall believes we're eventually going to find out that more have been killed and injured in these attacks. He believes Saudi authorities are hiding the facts from us.

Both of these posts raise additional questions about these attacks. You should go read them.

Posted by Tom at 5:13 p.m. CDT

GERRYMANDERING, TEXAS STYLE 05-13-03

In this post, Kevin's got a map of one of the Tom Delay-drawn congressional districts in Texas. If you've lived in Texas you know how bizarre this description of the district is:

In a ploy audacious even by the standards of Texas politics, one of the GOP's new congressional districts would be composed of two Republican-leaning areas, one north of Austin and one in the Rio Grande Valley — 300 miles away. The two areas would be connected by a mile-wide ribbon of land and have been dubbed a" community of interest."
The map is, as Kevin says,"worth a thousand words."

Posted by Tom at 1:22 p.m. CDT

MY FELLOW ACADEMICS, READ THIS STORY 05-13-03

Get this from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

Web site ad lands professor in pickle

ASU panel says firing undeserved

BY KENNETH HEARD ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

JONESBORO — Advertising a service on the Internet for translating ancient Chinese was enough to warrant the firing of Arkansas State University philosophy professor David Truncellito, ASU administrators say.

Truncellito was fired March 24 for advertising his talent at translating old Chinese documents into English on a Web site he and his wife created on the ASU-based Web space. He filed a grievance claiming he is governed by the ASU Faculty Handbook, which does not restrict faculty from conducting personal business on the university’s Web space.

Furthermore, he said, others are doing it, too.

An ASU art professor sells his work over the Internet. Economics professors offer consulting services online. Jenifer Rice-Mason, ASU director of disability services, is selling Norvell bras and advertises with an Internet link she includes on ASU’s disability services Web site.

"People who desire to enhance their beauty have reason to contact me," Rice-Mason’s Internet pitch said, before it was removed on the advice of an attorney. The site had listed Mason’s telephone number and e-mail address at ASU.

"It was a very small translation business," Truncellito said of his site."Others were doing the same thing. This catered strictly to academics. You might argue that this serv- ice was an extension of my role with the university."

ASU’s grievance hearing committee said on May 1 that Truncellito’s dismissal was inappropriate and no policy violations occurred. ASU President Les Wyatt has until Thursday to determine whether Truncellito should be fired.

ASU administrators said they can’t comment on Truncellito’s firing because it’s a personnel matter.

"One of the issues that’s critical here is that he used the site for a commercial venture," Rick Mc-Daniel, vice president for academic affairs at ASU, said."It’s against the law to use state property for personal gain."

Wyatt and McDaniel said neither had heard of other business ventures conducted on the university’s Web space.

ASU’s Faculty Handbook encourages faculty to provide services to the public."Normally, the university requires no disclosure of these activities or of the income they may generate," the handbook says."The university may enter into a specific contract with a faculty member to support a commercial endeavor, scholarship or public service which may generate income."

Another section of the handbook states that"university resources... shall not be used for personal gain."

The university’s grievance hearing committee found the university’s policy ambiguous. The committee also said Truncellito got no warning nor order to remove the Web site before his dismissal."Instead he received the most severe form of punishment when his employment was terminated without due process," the committee wrote in a letter to Wyatt on May 1.

"... Truncellito’s punishment/termination could appear to be selective," the letter said."Other members of the university had questionable web postings for personal gain on the university-owned web space but, to our knowledge, received no punishment."

Truncellito said his Internet business may be a veiled excuse for his firing.

He has criticized the university and its spending practices during the two years he’s worked at ASU. Truncellito, who earned his bachelor’s at Yale and a doctorate at the University of Arizona, has not earned tenure.

He has criticized the university on its listserv, an e-mail message board for faculty and staff at ASU. Targets of his criticism include funding for the library, low faculty morale and administrative decisions.

"I am probably among the most outspoken nontenured faculty here," he said."I’m seen as an individual threat worth worrying about."

Wyatt said Truncellito’s opinions did not lead to his firing.

"Absolutely, with certainty, he was not terminated because of his comments," Wyatt said."He violated the university policy."

Hmmm. Anyone buy that last line?

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

HOLY COW! ACTUAL MEDIA CRITICISM! 05-13-03

Jim Capozzola points us to two excellent articles in the New York Review of Books critical of the flag-waving, cheerleading media coverage of IraqWar Part II.

Here's the link to"The Unseen War" by Michael Massing.

Here's the link to"The New Newsspeak" by Russell Smith.

They're both quite good. You should read them.

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

HIDE-AND-SEEK FOR DEMS IN TEXAS LEGISLATURE 05-13-03

Maybe I should feel differently but the walkout of Democrats in the Texas legislature is really cracking me up. The Republicans have rammed everything through this year and want to ram even more through but 53 Democrats have bolted Austin -- quite a few of them are apparently holed up in the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

If you want excellent commentary on this, go to this post on Chuck Kuffner's excellent blog, Off the Kuff.

Heck, I guess I'm just glad some other state's legislators are making bigger fools of themselves than ours. You ought to hear all the ridiculous plans for funding state government our Republican-controlled legislature is proposing. If you recall, our legislators even came up with a masturbation tax!

Update:Here's a good column by Molly Ivins about how things in Texas got to such a sorry state.

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

MSGOP IN BIG TROUBLE 05-13-03

Atrios posts some ratings for MSNBC:

SCARBOROUGH 0.2
LESTER HOLT 0.2
HARDBALL 0.2
OLBERMANN 0.2
Boy, I really do think Discovery-Health is getting better ratings than this, don't you?

So much for going conservative, huh?

Donahue was averaging twice the numbers of these guys combined.

Posted by Tom at 7:31 a.m. CDT

AS MORE DETAILS ABOUT TONIGHT'S TERRORISM COME IN...
05-12-03

including the detail that the Saudis believe Al-Qaeda is behind it, I have a few questions:

I thought IraqWar Part II was supposed to make us safer?

Isn't that essentially what W said before, during, and after the war?

Also, I thought we didn't have to worry about Osama and Al-Qaeda because we had"degraded their network" -- haven't W and the boys been saying that for a while too?

Aren't we winning the war on terrah? Hasn't W been telling us that as well?

Did the unecessary and immoral war distract us from the war on terrah?

Or, worse yet, could it have provided these radicals with a renewed sense of cause?

These are questions we owe it to ourselves to ponder.

Don't you think?

Posted by Tom at 8:27 p.m. CDT

THE TERRORISM THAT IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF IRAQWAR PART II HAS BEGUN 05-12-03

There were several explosions in Riyadh tonight at compounds housing Americans just a short while ago.

Angry about the IraqWar Part II, terrorists are now beginning to strike out at Americans.

Don't say I didn't warn you. I believe I said something about increased terrorism from the IraqWar in my very first post August 12th of last year.

I just hope for the best -- but we can't tell anything much as of yet.

And, of course, it's our professional diplomats, who were overwhelmingly against this war, who will be the victims of this terrorism.

Sigh.

BTW, why aren't the cable news networks talking about this?

I can't believe I'm listening to this silly shit about JFK and the intern when we've had a terrorist attack tonight.

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

WITH THIS LELYVELD MORON AT THE HELM... 05-12-03

no wonder the New York Times made error after error in covering Whitewater and the other Clinton pseudo-scandals. Joe Conason really lays the wood to this guy -- who still doesn't have the basic facts straight regarding the Clintons and Whitewater.

The New York Times actually got more things wrong than right during this rather laughable period in its history. The only thing they screwed up worse is the Wen Ho Lee story. If you haven't, you really should read The Hunting of the President -- the errors are revealed there in rather astonishing detail. As I said quite a while back, it took the Times quite a while to recover from this rather ignominious period in its history.

What I love is that this Lelyveld moron keeps falsely claiming that Clinton withheld information from Ken Starr on Whitewater while his old employer blows off the much larger current scandal of the Bush administration administration openly blocking any sort of serious inquiry into 9/11.

Where's the outrage?

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

GO READ THIS... 05-12-03

excellent post by Kevin over at CalPundit.

I'm off to swim.

Posted by Tom at 2:24 p.m. CDT

DRYWALL MUD, GLORIOUS DRYWALL MUD! 05-12-03

My wife and I are trying to completely redo our bathroom this week. And the indoor swimming pool at the university just re-opened and I've got to get back in shape. Therefore, blogging might be a bit lighter than normal for the next few days. I'll blog, of course, but it may not be quite as frequently as normal.

Oh yeah, I love this from TBogg (who just got added to the blogroll by the way) about Glenn:

...and here's a little something from the never-makes-mistakes-hey-I-just-post-the-link-and-I'm-not-responsible-for-its-content-because-sometimes-I-just-skim-it-anyway Prof. Instapundit.

IF YOU LOOK TO THE UPPER LEFT, you'll see that I've taken down the quote from Pravda about InstaPundit being"The New York Times of the bloggers." It just didn't feel right, anymore
Yeah, Glenn. It never felt right in the first place since you're just a law degree away from being Matt Drudge.
Ouch.

I've got to go sand the wall. More later.

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

ANOTHER BIG LIE BEHIND OUR JUSTIFICATION FOR IRAQWAR PART II EXPOSED 05-12-03

This war was about removing Saddam's regime from power.

Right.

Tell that to the people in Mosul who have watched members of the old regime restored to power there in the last few days.

So what was this war really about, again?

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

IN DESPERATION, SULLY USES THE"BUT HE DIDN'T REALLY WRITE IT SOMEBODY ELSE DID" DEFENSE 05-11-03

Atrios points us to this rather pathetic performance by Sully in which he suggests that Bennett doesn't really write his books, research assistants do:

SULLIVAN: So he can't win. I mean, if he actually had said gambling is a vice and wrong, you have a case that he's a hypocrite. But he didn't so he is not a hypocrite, but you still nail him.

GREEN: But he has. I mean, he wrote a book (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cultural indicators, he listed gambling as one of the indicators of social decline.

SULLIVAN: Yes, of course, it wasn't him, it was some army of paid researchers that produced it for him.

GREEN: His name is on the book.

SULLIVAN: Yes, his name is on a lot of books, but it doesn't mean he wrote them.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't putting your name on a book that you didn't really write be a rather egregious moral violation?

Does Andy know something we don't know?

Do tell Andy.

Do tell.

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

EVEN PEOPLE WITH JOBS LOSE MONEY WHEN W IS IN THE BUILDING 05-11-03

Get this:

About 340 workers at an Omaha plastics factory will lose pay or have to work next Saturday to make up for time lost during a visit by President Bush on Monday to promote his"jobs and growth plan," their boss said today.

Brad Crosby, president of Airlite Plastics Co., said about 170 of his workers will lose a full day's pay and another 170 will be docked for part of their pay for Monday unless they make up the time they spend attending Bush's speech.

Airlite, which will shut down for its first shift and part of the second shift to provide a photogenic backdrop for Bush's speech, will be the Monday afternoon stop on a two-day swing by Bush to pressure senators to support a large tax cut as the measure heads to the Senate floor. Bush will stand near a production line that makes polystyrene containers for shipping steak, vaccines and other goods.

...

A White House official declined comment except to say that Bush looks forward to talking to the people of Nebraska about his plan to"put money in their pockets."

Too bad these hourly workers will actually lose more money listening to W's speech than they'll get back from W's taxcuts, huh?

Sounds like W's taking money out of their pockets to me!

[Link via Atrios]

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

WHERE ARE THE WMDS? 05-11-03

You'll love this. U.S. weapons search teams are leaving Baghdad in just a few weeks. They've found absolutely nothing. Gee, do you think W and the boys lied to us?

Also, how well are things going with the government in Iraq? Not well. Garner is to be fired within a week or two as well.

Boy, this IraqWar was a great idea, huh?

It sure is going well!

Posted by Tom at 7:23 a.m. CDT

JOSH MARSHALL NOTES CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS KNEE-DEEP... 05-10-03

in Republican spy scandal.

Gee. Do you think the SCLM will say a thing?

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

SPEAKING OF WHITEWATER... 05-10-03

you really should read this excellent article about the Republican Attack Machine. This article deals with a greal deal of material but the relevant portion about Whitewater is this:

Indeed, the Clinton era marked the apotheosis of the Republican Attack Machine. Elected in 1992 with just 43 percent of the vote, Clinton, as a minority president, was never considered legitimate by the Republicans, who worked ceaselessly to bring him down almost from the moment he was sworn in. (Consider that the Democrats have rarely lashed out at Bush so viciously even though he actually received a half-million fewer popular votes than their candidate, Gore, in 2000.) From Whitewater to the suicide of Vincent Foster to the Monica Lewinsky episode, the Republicans forced Clinton to respond to one alleged scandal after another until finally — inevitably, perhaps — he got caught.

In an excerpt from his new book, The Clinton Wars (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), that ran in Salon on Monday, former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal recounts an exchange Clinton once had with Republican senator Alan Simpson, who was retiring."‘You know there’s nothing wrong that Hillary and I did in Whitewater,’ Clinton told him. ‘Of course,’ Simpson replied. ‘We all know there’s nothing there. It was just politics. And it just got out of hand.’"

Some Republicans, though, were just getting started. Consider what happened when independent counsel Robert Fiske concluded that Clinton was essentially clean. North Carolina’s two right-wing Republican senators at that time, Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, conspired to replace Fiske with the thong-obsessed Kenneth Starr. The rest, of course, is history. And however grotesque Clinton’s behavior was toward Lewinsky, there is no getting around Starr’s weird, obsessive fixation with the president’s sex life. Think of all your friends, all your family members. Is there one whose sexual proclivities you know about in the same detail (or in any detail, for that matter) that you know about Clinton and Lewinsky’s — the sink, the stain, the cigar? Of course not. The Starr Report reads more like a cry for help from its perverted author than it does a prosecutor’s report. And yet it led to an impeachment trial that nearly succeeded in removing Clinton from office.

Okay, now that last line goes too far. They couldn't even get a majority for any of the charges in the Senate and, in fact, most of the senators (even Republicans) were annoyed they had to waste all that time on such a flimsy case but it's still an excellent article.

Go read it.

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

OKAY... 05-10-03

it's like Atrios wanted me to cut short my rest or something. He's talking about one of my favorite travesties of the last ten years -- the bogus Ken-Starr-prolonged-Whitewater investigation. Atrios has got a great Gene Lyons quote up from this article about the astonishing shortcomings of the reporting of the New York Times's Jeff Gerth about the pretend scandal that was Whitewater. The Times made damn fools of themselves over Whitewater, chasing false leads given to them by their buddy Ken Starr and Republican mouth-breathers.

It's always good to remember how many of the supposed"scandals" involving Bill Clinton were largely bogus fishing expeditions vainly trying to find something, anything that would stick to him. I remember visiting my parents in Arkansas at the height of the Whitewater foolishness (and pre-Monica) and being told that Starr's folks were openly asking for people to come forward even with unsubstantiated hearsay that they'd happily check out. The word in Little Rock was you can tell them anything and, even if they personally couldn't pay you for it, there were others who would -- after you spilled your guts for Starr of course.

One forgets that Starr was coming up with absolute zero until Clinton miscalculated with Monica. Of course, the hyperventilating and the foolish impeachment charade look pretty silly from this vantage point. After all, we now have a president who won't even allow an investigation into the rather obvious screw-ups of his own administration that led to a major terrorist attack resulting in the deaths of thousands of Americans.

Again, I'm still not sure the administration is in any way to blame for 9/11 but they certainly made mistakes -- mistakes that should be investigated in order to stop this sort of thing from happening again.

However, the more this administration blocks release of information to the public about the already completed 9/11 investigation, the more I can't help but wonder what they're hiding.

I mean, heck, how minor can Whitewater and Monica be in comparison to that?

Posted by Tom at 4:18 p.m. CDT

EXHAUSTED 05-10-03

I've just finished my three hours of soccer for the week. I'm pretty worn out. I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do today.

While I'm resting you might read this stomach-turning story about how Rove plans to use 9/11 as his central campaign issue because the economy is in the crapper.

Hang on folks -- Rove may make Joe McCarthy look like a choirboy before it's all over.

Posted by Tom at 1:13 p.m. CDT

AT LEAST WE'VE DROPPED THE PRETENSE... 05-09-03

and are admitting we are an"occupying power" in Iraq.

The first step to recovery is admitting the truth after all.

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

WHAT YOU AND I WILL GET FROM W'S TAX CUT 05-09-03

Kevin at CalPundit has a perfect chart (that he got from Chuck Kuffner) explaining exactly who's getting W's dividend tax cut.

It sorts of cuts through all the bull, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 5:06 p.m. CDT

MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN SPY SCANDAL 05-09-03

Josh Marshall has a great post on the Katrina Leung GOP spy scandal. He notes that the media somehow won't mention that Leung was a GOP activist -- and that all the hyperventilating after the campaign in 1996 looks pretty darned silly now. Here's the tastiest bit of it:

Now, one could go on about this and note that all the while that the FBI was investigating the Democrats, and all the while the Republicans were hyperventilating and milking the whole thing for political gain, one of the lead agents in the investigation was carrying on with a Republican fundraiser who also happened to be a PRC double-agent, probably helping to compromise and misdirect the investigation in various ways.

Here, though, is the deeper problem. What does it say about the Republican party that one of their activists was a spy? Not much. At least, not necessarily. It's embarrassing that one of their fund-raisers, someone who gave money to GOP politicians and no doubt rubbed shoulders with many of them, was a spy. But does it mean the Republicans are traitors? That they're compromised in some way? That they're soft on China?

The real issue, as nearly as I can see it, is the terrible, persistent failure at the FBI to deal with counter-intelligence. But, then, this isn't exactly the standard the Republicans followed, is it?

Republicans took some pretty iffy evidence about PRC-connected campaign donations to Democrats and spun it into a florid tale of perfidy, scandal, and treachery. In the late 1990s and into the 2000 campaign it became a standard line among Republicans and conservative commentators that President Clinton had sold nuclear secrets or missile secrets or in one way or another sold out the national security of the United States for campaign money. The whole thing, of course, was crap, the product of a conspiracy of the shameless and the stupid, the crudest and most country-shaming sort of political opportunism. And they partook in it happily.

So what now? On the one hand, Democrats should just set a higher standard, not stoop to the shamelessness of the opposing side. The problem, as I see it, is that this leads to a sort of unilateral disarmament in the domestic political contest within the United States. Republicans have their standard of shameless demagoguing of this issue and do Democrats no little damage in so doing. Then Democrats, if they so choose, adopt a different standard and the GOP gets a pass.

I've thought about this too. I mean, so obviously, this exposes the differences between Republicans and Democrats. Quite bluntly, it certainly shows that Republicans are shameless creeps who will say anything and do anything to get on the television and to damage an administration that at that point was much more popular than W's is today. Even back then, the geniuses pushing this issue came off looking like blowhard Joe McCarthy wannabes -- and now we have the proof that one of their number was the real traitor. Boy, how's that for a turnaround?

However, I still think that Democrats shouldn't push this too hard because we don't want to be the morally-challenged demagogues that the Republicans are. I sort of feel that it's the Republicans who have to sleep at night -- and they knew then they were spinning lies. Now they know, ironically, it was a Republican that was the traitor and was, apparently, feeding them and the FBI the information. They look like fools now and they know it.

So let's stick to the high road here. However, it's okay to chuckle at the turnabout and it's certainly okay to mention it every now and then, especially if the developments are too juicy to resist. But, ultimately, let's prove ourselves to be significantly better human beings than Republicans which, admittedly, isn't very hard at all these days.

I know I know. Republicans will continue to be shameless demagogues but there is such a thing as doing what's right. Republicans always pretend they know this too. But by orchestrating such shameless political charades as the 1997"spy scandals" as well as the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment, Republicans always demonstrably prove otherwise -- and damage themselves politically in the process.

They'll overreach again. Recent events suggest it will happen soon. IraqWar Part II, the drive to pass a fiscally irresponsible tax cut giveaway to the rich in the face of a flaccid economy, and last week's publicity stunt on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln are signs that overconfidence has certainly set in at the White House. They're drunk with power and they're soon to make a political miscalculation. I'm sure of it.

So, Democrats, I would advise you to wait for the next loony overreach. I promise you. It's coming.

Could it be war with Syria?

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 11:20 a.m. CDT

KRUGMAN: CONGRESS TRIES TO REPEAT THE SCAM OF 2001
05-09-03

And, of course, you can't forget that everyone's favorite columnist, Paul Krugman, wrote about the Bush tax cut plan today as well. It's quite good. Here's the"money quote" for me:

The new tax cut plan echoes the 2001 scam in other ways. In 2001 a tax cut that delivered about 40 percent of its benefits to the richest 1 percent of families was marketed as a tax break for ordinary folks. The same is true this time. In fact, the extent to which the House bill favors the rich is breathtaking: the typical family would get a tax break of only $217 next year, but families with incomes above $1 million would get an average of $93,500 each. The center estimates that over the next decade, 27 percent of the tax cut — about the share that goes to the bottom 90 percent of the population — would go to these very high-income families, who comprise a mere 0.13 percent of the population.

Finally, as in 2001, we're being told that this tax cut will create lots of jobs. But why should we believe that? It's hard to find an independent economist who thinks that the Bush proposal would create the 1.4 million jobs claimed by the administration — and as I've explained in this column, even that many jobs would be a poor payoff for a tax cut that big.

And bear in mind that Bush-style tax cuts now have a track record. Of the 2.1 million jobs lost over the past two years, 1.7 million vanished after the passage of the 2001 tax cut.

Nonetheless, the odds are that this scam, like the scam of 2001, will succeed. The tax cut will be passed, and the budget will plunge even deeper into the red. And one day we'll realize that international investors are treating us like a banana republic — that they won't finance our trade deficit unless they are paid very high rates of interest (have I mentioned that the dollar has just fallen to a four-year low against the euro?) — and everyone will wonder why.

Surely we aren't falling for this snake oil again, are we? I mean W's approval is already back into the mid 60s and on the way down fast. In a few months with the economy dropping like a stone, he'll be back at his pre-war state of about 52-53% approval -- if not lower. Democrats in congress should in no way be afraid of him at this point.

Of course, I guess, if the economy doesn't recover and W's"stimulus package" fails so utterly to turn it around, it might actually be better politically for Democrats to let him have this outrageous tax giveaway to the rich. Democrats could then say, categorically, that"trickle-down" supply-side economics doesn't work. It didn't work particularly well in the 1980s if you recall. It would be nice to ultimately prove that once and for all.

However, is this lesson really worth the awful fiscal price?

Or, better yet, as our infrastructure and social programs begin to fall apart, the enormous moral price?

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

THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE DIVIDEND TAX CUT 05-09-03

You should read this column about the negative effects of the dividend tax cut. It's pretty devastating. Here's a bit of it to pique your interest:

If you were trying to design an anti-stimulus package for a no-growth economy, this would be a good way to go about it. The way big, mature companies improve profits is by shedding jobs. Small businesses — and the so-called “mid-caps” — are the job generators and the tech innovators. The Bush proposal favors the former at the expense of the latter.

Everybody knows about the sorry condition of state and local budgets across the country. What has escaped attention is the extent to which they fund their most basic needs through tax-exempt bonds.

While the president and lawmakers talk a lot about education, the great bulk of the burden of paying for it falls on local school districts and, to a lesser extent, state governments. When a new school is built, or an old one rehabilitated, look for a tax-exempt bond offering as the essential element in the financing.

If these school bonds have to compete with newly tax-exempted corporate stock, expect the cost of local school financing (and road financing, and hospital financing) to go up. This would be bad enough if times were good for states and localities. Now, with state and local budgets on the brink, it would be disastrous.

Now go read the rest of it.

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

HOW BAD ARE THINGS IN IRAQ? 05-09-03

Pretty bad apparently. We've won the war but, as I suspected, it appears we very well may lose the peace.

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

NOT TOO BAD HERE... 05-08-03

just a single Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is about to expire. The tornadoes appear to have hit Lawrence, Kansas and south of Kansas City tonight -- but nothing as terrible as on Sunday.

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

OH NO... 05-08-03

here we go again.

Posted by Tom at 4:55 p.m. CDT

BUSH V. GORE AND THOSE NASTY TROLLS 05-08-03

Jeff Cooper shows us all how to deal with those nasty trolls that track mud on your carpet here in the blogosphere. His post is also an excellent recap of what was wrong with the SC decision in Bush v. Gore.

I taught U.S. Constitutional History this semester and have learned a great deal about these things in the last few months. After I finished teaching that course I was quite angry about how the S.C. ignored their own arguments and judicial philosophy to get the result they desired. After teaching about Liberal and Conservative Constitutionalism for a semester, I now understand why many law professors were so profoundly disappointed by the Bush v. Gore decision.

I have trouble understanding how any legal scholar can support a president whose campaign could advance so disingenuous a constitutional argument much less the Supreme Court that would buy it. Jeff's post is absolutely dead-on as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Tom at 2:51 p.m. CDT

THANKS! 05-08-03

I just had my 200,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It's only been six days since my 190,000th visitor! I've also had more than 291,000 hits since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, I appreciate it that you folks have come by for a visit. I hope to give you reasons to return -- often!

Posted by Tom at 2:33 p.m. CDT

I JUST LEARNED... 05-08-03

via CalPundit that Ted Barlow is back from his hiatus. Hooray!

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

MORE ON"SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY" 05-08-03

Unabashedly one-sided, gleefully dishonest, slick as a mound of gravel,"Scarborough Country," MSNBC's latest crack at prime-time newzertainment, has something for everyone. For conservatives hungry for completely uninhibited ideological sodomy, it serves up hardcore man-on-POTUS action on a regular basis. For liberals who think that all Republicans are credulous goons who will swallow pure elephant dung as long as it's swathed in Old Glory and tied with a ribbon of Susan Sarandon's scalp, it delivers frequent proof of that suspicion.
You should now go read the rest of Greg Beato of Soundbitten's article about"Scarborough Country." It's quite good.

If you recall, I blogged about the awfully small and backwards place that is"Scarborough Country" just the other day.

Posted by Tom at 1:15 p.m. CDT

CONGRATULATIONS! 05-08-03

I want to second Atrios and congratulate last week's 425,000 new unemployed.

I'm sorry folks but the economy absolutely sucks. You'll notice in the article that economists are beginning to wonder if the economy actually contracted in March and April. Yep folks, that's the first suggestion that I've seen that we're possibly heading back into a recession -- a"Dubya dip" recession to be more precise.

And eliminating the tax on dividends isn't going to do a damn thing for anyone except the rich. It sure as hell isn't going to"stimulate" the economy.

Although Phil Carpenter makes a good argument, if we really do have a"Dubya dip" recession, you can stick a fork in old W. He'll be done.

Posted by Tom at 12:44 p.m. CDT

MOORE:"COUNTING VOTES WHILE THE BOMBS DROP" 05-08-03

Here's an excellent op-ed piece by James Moore about how this administration lets Rove decide all the important stuff -- even war and peace -- based on how it plays in the polls. Here's my favorite part:

The United States is best served when political calculations are not a part of the White House's most important decisions. Rove's calculus is always a formula for winning the next election. He was less concerned about the bombing of Iraqi civilians or the bullets flying at our own troops, according to people who have worked for him for years, than he was about what these acts would do to the results of the electoral college, or how they influence voters in swing states like Florida.

There needs to be something sacred about our presidents' decisions to send our children into combat. The Karl Roves of the world ought to not even be in the room, much less asked for advice.

Rove has influenced dealings with Iraq and North Korea, according to Bush administration sources. For instance, when the U.S. was notified, through formal diplomatic channels, that North Korea had nuclear technology, Congress was in the midst of discussing the Iraqi war resolution. Rove counseled the president to keep that information from Congress for 12 days, until the debate was finished, so it would not affect the vote. He was also reported to be present at a war strategy meeting concerning whether to attack Syria after Iraq. Rove said the timing was not right. Yet. Having the political advisor involved in that decision is wrong.

War, after all, is not a campaign event.

Indeed.

This clearly is the most politically calculating administration of the last fifty years at least. W, Cheney, Rove, Inc. make Clinton look like a devil-may-care politician.

Posted by Tom at 10:43 a.m. CDT

TOP GUN-GATE CONTINUES -- PUBLICITY STUNT MAY HAVE COST $1M 05-08-03

The WaPo has quite a story on the controversy this morning. But what really strikes me is the arrogance required to say something like this (sounds like Fleischer to me):

A senior White House official said Democrats were making a mistake by trying to draw more attention to an image that Bush's aides see as emblematic of his strength on national security."This is not an issue that Democrats want to keep alive," the official said."We're happy to argue with them about defense -- any day."
Considering you guys just won two wars with Clinton's military, I don't think I'd be so smug about your supposed superiority on defense issues -- especially considering President AWOL's own sterling record as a guardsman.

Does one sense a bit of overconfidence on the part of W and the boys, perhaps?

Maybe this is going to be a replay of 1991-1992 after all.

Posted by Tom at 7:49 a.m. CDT

RUMMY THE GENIUS FORGOT ABOUT THE NUKES 05-07-03

Here's an excellent Joe Conason column about recent events. Here's a bit of it:

[The Bush administration] is straining to find weapons of mass destruction that probably no longer exist. It finds the time, the money and the mental energy to stage a photo-op landing for the President aboard an aircraft carrier. But nobody in Washington thought of guarding the Iraqi nuclear materials that might truly pose a threat to us—until after the sites had been breached.

If we didn’t already know that our leaders are geniuses, we might start to wonder whether they’re idiots. The other unthinkable possibility is that the people telling us our leaders are geniuses may be idiots, too—and that we are idiots for believing them.

Before anyone assumes that the U.S. government is unable to plan for important contingencies, however, let’s look on the brighter side. Certain kinds of logistical maneuvers are well within the capacity of the officials now running Iraq, who display considerable foresight and initiative when matters of true importance are at stake.

For example, the Associated Press reports that when the U.S. sponsored a political meeting in Baghdad two weeks ago, the U.S. Air Force flew in a skilled chef from the Kuwait Hilton to feed them steak au poivre, lamb stew, Black Forest cake, meringues and cream puffs. The operation went off very well, and almost nobody worried that the chef happened to be French.

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

RICHARD PERLE IS AT IT AGAIN 05-07-03

You should read this article about Perle's hanky-panky on the Pentagon Defense Policy Board.

Last February, the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisors to the Pentagon, received a classified presentation from the super-secret Defense Intelligence Agency on the crises in North Korea and Iraq.

Three weeks later, the then-chairman of the board, Richard N. Perle, offered a briefing of his own at an investment seminar on ways to profit from possible conflicts with both countries.

Perle and his fellow advisors also heard a classified address about high-tech military communications systems at the same closed-door session in February. He runs a venture capital firm that has been exploring investments in that very area.

The disclosures in recently released board agendas and investment documents are the latest illustrations of how Perle's private consulting and investment interests overlap with his role on the board, which advises the secretary of Defense.

...

Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Brooks, who served on the policy board during the Clinton administration, said Perle's actions were" certainly questionable."

"It sounds like he's squeezing every nickel out of the Defense Policy Board," he said.

...

Helmut Sonnenfeldt, a former State Department counselor and current member of the policy board who attended Stenbit's briefing, said he did not think the discussion gave Perle any competitive advantage."I'm not a technical expert but my guess is that a lot of what he said has long since showed up in congressional hearings," he said.

But Gordon Adams, a policy board member until 2001 and the director of security policy studies at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, said the similarity of the subject to the investment targets of the fund"doesn't look good."

"You're supposed to bend over backwards to avoid anything that has the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if it's strictly legal, because you can compromise the integrity of the panel's work," he said.

Sonnenfeldt said he has known Perle for many years, and never known him to act unethically.

"To make a hard and fast connection between Perle hearing something at the briefing and using it to further his commercial interests is a jump I wouldn't want to make," he said.

Does the name Sonnenfeldt sound familiar? I blogged about this a couple of months ago. Sonnenfeldt's the guy who, according to Seymour Hersh, passed Richard Perle the classified information he passed on to the Israelis in 1970. Sonnenfeldt's phone was tapped and he was caught passing the information to Perle.

But I guess, at least in Sonnenfeldt's mind, that wasn't"unethical" or anything.

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

BUSH'S BOGUS TOP GUN MOMENT... 05-07-03

over at the Daily Billboard.

Posted by Tom at 2:45 p.m. CDT

A NEW PAPER DOLL SET 05-07-03

[Image via the brilliant and ever-vigilant Atrios]

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

GENE LYONS:"WELCOME TO THE VIRTUAL U.S.A." 05-07-03

Here's this week's Gene Lyons column!

Welcome to the Virtual U.S.A.

George W. Bush's swaggering, cinematic landing aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln last week dramatized more than the end of the Iraq war and the beginning of Bush's 2004 campaign. It also represented the triumph of symbol over substance in American politics. The president's handlers appear to believe that a public giddy with TV images of U.S. military omnipotence can no longer distinguish between reality and make-believe.

Evidently, Bush will run as a one-man reunion of the Village People, the dreadful disco act. Having previously costumed himself as a Businessman (his ventures mostly failed), and Owner of the Texas Rangers (he had a one percent share), he's added Cowboy and Fighter Pilot to his repertoire. In reality, his Texas ranch was acquired in 1999; Bush's time in the saddle is limited to golf carts.

The Fighter Jock pose has more substance, as Bush did learn to fly F-102s during his foreshortened service in the Texas Air National Guard's renowned"Champagne Brigade" 30 years ago. The White House seemed to hint that the president himself would perform the landing aboard the Abraham Lincoln hundreds of miles at sea--far beyond helicopter range, Ari Fleischer assured the press.

That would have been a reckless stunt. Formally grounded for failure to take a required medical exam soon after completing his pilot's training, Bush hasn't flown a military aircraft since. As you'd think Junior's handlers wouldn't want to remind anybody, the Boston Globe pretty conclusively proved in May 2000 that Bush went AWOL for more than a year during 1972-73-arranging a transfer from the Texas to the Alabama Air National Guard, but never showing up for duty.

The commanding officer of the Alabama unit, Gen. William Turnipseed, unequivocally told the newspaper that Bush failed to report. Back in Texas, Walter Robinson wrote,"his two superior officers at Ellington Air Force Base could not perform his annual evaluation covering the year from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973 because, they wrote, 'Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report.'"

Having falsely assured the press that his Guard enlistment involved no preferential treatment (former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes has since admitted making phone calls on Junior's behalf) Bush also claimed to have done light duty in Alabama, but could provide neither documentary evidence nor witnesses.

This is a dead giveaway. As somebody roughly Bush's age with no eminent connections, I could easily prove my whereabouts, job or institutional affiliations at any time since entering kindergarten. The conclusion is inescapable: Bush took a powder.

Speaking of powder, there's been considerable speculation, based on what he says and doesn't say that Junior took may have experimented with the drug known as"Peruvian marching powder" or cocaine. His failure to submit to a physical exam coincided with the Pentagon's decision to begin drug testing. He's denied using illegal drugs only since 1974, by which time he'd returned to Houston and been granted an honorable discharge.

Does it matter thirty years later? Not much, unless you consider the lying important. Many people did things 30 years ago they wouldn't want in the newspapers. Even so, national media's eagerness to protect Junior from his youthful folly approaches the pathological. Amply documented, the Globe article was all but ignored during the 2000 campaign by a Washington press clique obsessed with made-up tales about Al Gore"inventing the internet" and such.

So does it matter that the Abraham Lincoln was only 39 miles out to sea, and that the Navy admits turning the ship so as to afford President Fighter Jock a backdrop of open ocean instead of the San Diego skyline for his speech? Or, as Paul Krugman points out in the New York Times, that Bush's posturing in military garb breaks an American tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War? Presidents George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower never did. Real soldiers, they emphasized their civilian status as commander-in-chief.

Not so ex-Lt. Junior of the Champagne Brigade. Meanwhile, cable TV pundits swooned. Bob Somerby's dailyhowler.com lampoons the way Chris Matthews of MSNBC's"Hardball" gushed over Bush's rugged masculinity. Casting the presidency in purely cinematic terms, Matthews doubted that a Democratic" casting director" could match Junior:"Nobody looks right in the role Bush has set for the presidency--commander-in-chief, medium height, medium build, looks good in a jet pilot's costume--or uniform, rather--has a certain swagger, not too literary, certainly not too verbal, but a guy who speaks plainly and wins wars."

The enraptured Matthews specifically derided Sen. John Kerry, who won the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts in Vietnam, and George McGovern, whose heroic exploits as a WWII bomber pilot are documented in Stephen Ambrose's book"Wild Blue Yonder."

Reality sucks. Welcome to the Virtual U.S.A.

Posted by Tom at 10:40 a.m. CDT

DASCHLE ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT 05-07-03

You've got to read Josh Marshall's latest column over at The Hill. Josh has tracked down some more clumsily attempted slight-of-hand by some righties trying to bring down Tom Daschle. This one has got to be seen to be believed. These guys are not only dishonest, they're stupid too.

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

THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL PLANS (FOR WAR WITH IRAQ) 05-07-03

Once again, Seymour Hersh has got the goods. This time he tells the story of the folks who provided W and the boys with the lies about WMDs and terrorist ties used by the administration to sell the war with Iraq. You've got to read this one.

Here are just a few excerpts to pique your interest:

They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal—a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. In the past year, according to former and present Bush Administration officials, their operation, which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has brought about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community. These advisers and analysts, who began their work in the days after September 11, 2001, have produced a skein of intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward Iraq. They relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi. By last fall, the operation rivalled both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency, the D.I.A., as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda. As of last week, no such weapons had been found. And although many people, within the Administration and outside it, profess confidence that something will turn up, the integrity of much of that intelligence is now in question.

...

A former Bush Administration intelligence official recalled a case in which Chalabi’s group, working with the Pentagon, produced a defector from Iraq who was interviewed overseas by an agent from the D.I.A. The agent relied on an interpreter supplied by Chalabi’s people. Last summer, the D.I.A. report, which was classified, was leaked. In a detailed account, the London Times described how the defector had trained with Al Qaeda terrorists in the late nineteen-nineties at secret camps in Iraq, how the Iraqis received instructions in the use of chemical and biological weapons, and how the defector was given a new identity and relocated. A month later, however, a team of C.I.A. agents went to interview the man with their own interpreter. “He says, ‘No, that’s not what I said,’” the former intelligence official told me. “He said, ‘I worked at a fedayeen camp; it wasn’t Al Qaeda.’ He never saw any chemical or biological training.” Afterward, the former official said, “the C.I.A. sent out a piece of paper saying that this information was incorrect. They put it in writing.” But the C.I.A. rebuttal, like the original report, was classified. “I remember wondering whether this one would leak and correct the earlier, invalid leak. Of course, it didn’t.”

The former intelligence official went on, “One of the reasons I left was my sense that they were using the intelligence from the C.I.A. and other agencies only when it fit their agenda. They didn’t like the intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so far out and so difficult to reason with—to the point of being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission from God.” He added, “If it doesn’t fit their theory, they don’t want to accept it.”

...

“They see themselves as outsiders, ” a former C.I.A. expert who spent the past decade immersed in Iraqi-exile affairs said of the Special Plans people. He added, “There’s a high degree of paranoia. They’ve convinced themselves that they’re on the side of angels, and everybody else in the government is a fool.”

...

There is little self-doubt or second-guessing in the Pentagon over the failure to immediately find the weapons. The Pentagon adviser to Special Plans told me he believed that the delay “means nothing. We’ve got to wait to get all the answers from Iraqi scientists who will tell us where they are.” Similarly, the Pentagon official who works for Luti said last week, “I think they’re hidden in the mountains or transferred to some friendly countries. Saddam had enough time to move them.” There were suggestions from the Pentagon that Saddam might be shipping weapons over the border to Syria. “It’s bait and switch,” the former high-level intelligence official said. “Bait them into Iraq with weapons of mass destruction. And, when they aren’t found, there’s this whole bullshit about the weapons being in Syria.”

...

In Congress, a senior legislative aide said, “Some members are beginning to ask and to wonder, but cautiously.” For now, he told me, “the members don’t have the confidence to say that the Administration is off base.” He also commented, “For many, it makes little difference. We vanquished a bad guy and liberated the Iraqi people. Some are astute enough to recognize that the alleged imminent W.M.D. threat to the U.S. was a pretext. I sometimes have to pinch myself when friends or family ask with incredulity about the lack of W.M.D., and remind myself that the average person has the idea that there are mountains of the stuff over there, ready to be tripped over. The more time elapses, the more people are going to wonder about this, but I don’t think it will sway U.S. public opinion much. Everyone loves to be on the winning side.”

...

Former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a strong supporter of the President’s decision to overthrow Saddam. “I do think building a democratic secular state in Iraq justifies everything we’ve done,” Kerrey, who is now president of New School University, in New York, told me. “But they’ve taken the intelligence on weapons and expanded it beyond what was justified.” Speaking of the hawks, he said, “It appeared that they understood that to get the American people on their side they needed to come up with something more to say than ‘We’ve liberated Iraq and got rid of a tyrant.’ So they had to find some ties to weapons of mass destruction and were willing to allow a majority of Americans to incorrectly conclude that the invasion of Iraq had something to do with the World Trade Center. Overemphasizing the national-security threat made it more difficult to get the rest of the world on our side. It was the weakest and most misleading argument we could use.” Kerrey added, “It appears that they have the intelligence. The problem is, they didn’t like the conclusions.”

Yep. I think Sy Hersh has figured out exactly where all of that cooked intelligence information W and Colin Powell kept citing was coming from, hasn't he?

This is a pretty frightening tale, isn't it? Under the direction of Wolfowitz and Perle, four or five guys were brought in to essentially compile an enormous pack of lies which were then sold to the president as the truth (who belived it simply because he wanted to believe it), and, correspondingly, we went to war with Iraq.

If you recall in my weeks of posts before the war, I kept pointing out that there was essentially no evidence for this stuff W and the boys kept saying in public. I had wondered where it all came from -- now I know. It came from the Office of Special Plans (for War with Iraq).

Posted by Tom at 8:38 a.m. CDT

I'M GOING TO ASK THIS AGAIN: 05-07-03

"What are they hiding?"

And why haven't I heard a lot more about this in the media?

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

A COUPLE OF THINGS 05-07-03

This week's Tom Tomorrow is quite good.

Also, did you know that W has nominated Bill Bennett to be United States Slots Czar?

Posted by Tom at 8:10 a.m. CDT

SILBER: WHY BENNETT'S GAMBLING DOES MATTER 05-06-03

You really should read this excellent post by libertarian blogger Arthur Silber about the Bennett imbroglio. I must admit I don't always agree with Silber. (To be more precise, I can't agree with this post which links to a group that sounds more like a McCarthyistic attempt to ferret out"unfit academics" than anything else. I was preparing to add him to the blogroll until I read that one. I'm still pondering adding him.) However, unlike Insty who apparently is a garden variety Republican who pretends to be a libertarian, Silber's one of the most consistent and thoughtful libertarian bloggers around.

A few highlights from this post:

So when the question of hypocrisy is raised in connection with the recent revelations, most people are viewing the issue precisely backwards. It obviously isn't the case that Bennett railed against the evils of gambling, while privately gambling away millions of dollars. What is notable is that Bennett did not rail against the"private" behavior of gambling -- while at the same time, he did rail against the sins of drug use, the strong inadvisability (in his view) of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, and other similar"sins." And the point is simply this: if you proceed from a consistent recognition of individual rights, there is no principled method by which to distinguish among these various behaviors -- and, again, unless someone violates the rights of others, these behaviors should be outside the bounds of governmental concern altogether.

But it is Bennett himself who advocates government intrusion into what ought to be private concerns. Because he has no principled approach to these matters, however, he advocates governmental regulation of those behaviors he personally views as"wrong," while exempting those behaviors of which he approves. And we now find out that he also exempts those behaviors that he himself engages in. As someone might say: how convenient.

Since Bennett himself has made all these issues public -- because he advocates the use of governmental force to make people behave the"right way," even when their behavior does not affect anyone else -- he cannot now claim that his own behavior is private and off limits. He has made all these questions legitimate issues of public debate. And his selective list of prohibited behavior, which conveniently omits those behaviors that he himself enjoys, reveals deep hypocrisy and cynicism.

...

The lesson that ought to be drawn is the following one. This country was founded on the recognition of individual rights, and our government embodied the idea that government exists solely to protect individual rights from violations by others. The consistent application of this idea would mean that all activity by individuals -- whether it is drug use, sex between consenting adults, or anything else at all you can think of -- should be off limits for government. It is simply none of the government's business -- period.

I view what I have said above as being the primary reason that Bennett's behavior matters, and it is more than enough reason to have a public discussion about all this. Beyond this, there is an additional factor which makes Bennett's behavior particularly objectionable -- and which helps to explain the"glee" with which many have greeted this news about his gambling. Bennett's long history of pronouncing moral judgments about the private behavior of others projected the following message:"I know what is the best and proper way for people to behave. I know what is moral. Listen to me, and I will explain to you what is right for you to do, and what is best for our country. When people act in ways that go against my insightful and wise advice, they do damage to themselves, and to our great country. So listen to me, and follow my advice, and you will all be much better off -- and so will our country."

In other words, he is a busybody, poking his nose into everyone else's business (and using the government to enforce his views on you, whether you agree or not), and he is a moral blowhard. He projects an air of sanctimonious, self-satisfied, smug moral self-righteousness. So when it is now revealed that he wants the government in many aspects of your life where it has no business -- but, at the same time, the government should stay out of his life, because he, of course, knows what he is doing and has it all under control -- well, who can blame people for feeling some glee?

He asked for it, and he richly deserves it. I only wish that this latest episode might make him keep quiet in the future -- but I'm afraid to say that that is probably too much to hope for.

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

If you want to review, my posts on the Bennett scandal are here, here, here, and here.

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

AFTER DAYS OF CRITICISM... 05-06-03

the White House finally comes clean on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln publicity stunt.

Posted by Tom at 6:15 p.m. CDT

WINDBREAKER DOES NOT A FLIGHTSUIT MAKE 05-06-03

How pathetic. Obviously the criticism of W's"Top Gun" anticslast week in light of his AWOL National Guard record really stings for W's sycophants. Hesiod points out that Insty and this Donald Ruskin fellow are making fools of themselves claiming that this picture of Bill Clinton:

is essentially the same thing as W's appearing in full flight gear on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln from last week.

Give me a break. It's a windbreaker for goodness sake.

Oh, and I hate to break it to him but I'm sure Paul Krugman really worries about responding to this Ruskin guy's rants about Krugman's articles.

This guy reminds me of the fellow who left a comment on my boards once right after I started blogging about how all of Krugman's columns were completely disproven every week in the right-wing blogosphere.

Right.

Posted by Tom at 5:12 p.m. CDT

KRISTOF DISCOVERS EVIDENCE THE ADMINISTRATION LIED ABOUT WMDS IN IRAQ 05-06-03

Not that we didn't know this already, but Nicholas Kristof has discovered evidence that the administration lied about the evidence of WMDs in Iraq. Here's a bit of it:

Let's fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with Al Qaeda. Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have, and I don't want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.

Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously.

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted — except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

"It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year," one insider said.

Folks, this is a claim made by Powell and W -- that they both knew was false. I'm sure this is just the first of many such things that will trickle out over the next few months. We were lied to folks. Americans used to give a damn about such things.

Why don't they now?

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

KRUGMAN DECONSTRUCTS W'S"TOP GUN ACT" 05-06-03

Paul Krugman's column is quite good today. Here's my favorite part:

Given that history, George Bush's"Top Gun" act aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln — c'mon, guys, it wasn't about honoring the troops, it was about showing the president in a flight suit — was as scary as it was funny.

Mind you, it was funny. At first the White House claimed the dramatic tail-hook landing was necessary because the carrier was too far out to use a helicopter. In fact, the ship was so close to shore that, according to The Associated Press, administration officials"acknowledged positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline."

A U.S.-based British journalist told me that he and his colleagues had laughed through the whole scene. If Tony Blair had tried such a stunt, he said, the press would have demanded to know how many hospital beds could have been provided for the cost of the jet fuel.

But U.S. television coverage ranged from respectful to gushing. Nobody pointed out that Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition. And nobody seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience. (Spare me the hate mail. An exhaustive study by The Boston Globe found no evidence that Mr. Bush fulfilled any of his duties during that missing year. And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news.)

Good stuff, eh? Too bad no one else in the national media is pointing any of this out. Howard Kurtz's embarrassing cut-and-paste column is certainly no source for media criticism.

Krugman certainly is reading blogs more and more, isn't he? I'm just glad Krugman is taking the time to read so extensively and to write in the Times. Krugman is performing a real public service in my opinion. He really does bring things from the blogosphere to the much larger audience of the print media. Of course it helps that he writes so much better than most of us bloggers do, doesn't it?

Anyway, quit reading me and go read the rest of his column!

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

OUR TAX DOLLARS SUPPORTING"OPERATION FRENCH PASTRY CHEF" 05-06-03

Get this:

Pastry chef Yves Reynaud, with French colors on his collar, flew in a U.S. Air Force transport to Baghdad on a vital mission. Any search for peace goes better with cream puffs.

History is often in the details, such as the dramatic culinary operation mounted by Reynaud's ad hoc aid group, which he might well call Patissiers Sans Frontieres (Pastrymakers Without Borders).

Last week, 350 Iraqis and Americans met for a two-day conclave in Baghdad on how to lead Iraq out of chaos - but the freshly liberated capital is in such disarray that no one could find food to feed them properly.

``They asked if we could help, and I told them we could,'' said Reynaud, pastry chef at Kuwait's Crowne Plaza Hotel. ``I wasn't that afraid. I've been baking in war zones for much of my life.''

Reynaud took over the whole operation, not only the Black Forest cake and gooey meringues but also the steak au poivre and the Daoud Pasha lamb stew.

Almost everything was prepared in Kuwait and sent in refrigerated trucks, with an armed escort, on a 36-hour ride to Baghdad. Then Reynaud and his 24 helpers boarded an aircraft.

Counting breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee break, the flying kitchen crew produced 1,400 servings.

I wonder how much this little feast for Garner and his Iraqi cronies cost the American taxpayer?

BTW, how well are things going in Iraq -- really? You can't get any idea from the flag-waving propaganda-repeating U.S. press or the administration, so you have to go to the foreign press. Here's a good story on the political situation there. Like Afghanistan, we're mishandling this folks -- and Garner is really screwing up apparently.

Therefore it's no surprise that the word on the street is that the inarticulate Jay Garner is out of a job, huh?

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

JULIAN'S REASON ARTICLE IS ONLINE 05-05-03

Julian Sanchez's article in Reason about the John Lott affair is now online here. It's quite good. Be sure and read it.

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

READ THIS FOR ME... 05-05-03

and let me know if you also get the distinct impression that"Mr. Virtue" lied to his wife about the extent of his gambling losses.

I'm pretty sure that's why Bennett now claims he won't be gambling anymore. I suspect Mrs. Bennett never had any idea her hubby was blowing that kind of cash at the casinos. She's putting a brave face on it now and"standing by her man" but I imagine she gave him a piece of her mind behind closed doors, don't you? I suspect she'll be making sure he sticks to the straight and narrow on this from now on.

Now, let's just suppose I'm right here and he didn't tell her the extent of his losses which, from what I've just read seems very likely. Mr. Bennett, was that the virtuous thing to do? You wouldn't want to conceal something like this from your wife now, would you? Wouldn't that be wrong?

How does it feel to get caught in a lie you told to your wife on national television,"Mr. Virtue?"

Posted by Tom at 10:25 p.m. CDT

"SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY" IS AN AWFULLY SMALL PLACE 05-05-03

Atrios points out how MSGOP(Faux Lite)'s ratings are just collapsing after the firing of Phil Donahue. I can't say I'm terribly surprised. After all, they fired the guy whose show had higher ratings than the rest of their primetime schedule combined. Also, if you're a likely Faux viewer, why would you watch the less filling version when you can watch the original?

And, by the way, who in the world watches that Scarborough guy? I tried to watch a little of it the other night and it was horrid. He even had some ridiculous commentary piece that was"oh so 1998" in which he invoked, for goodness sakes, Hillary Clinton!

And Scarborough is clearly one of those arrested-development perpetually tenth-grade frat boy types who thinks he's oh so clever but his humor and"insightful commentary" are just cribbed from a few GOP friends of his whose IQs are nearing triple digits. He reminds me of a few coaches I've known in my time.

A 0.3, huh? Aren't more people watching the Discovery-Health Channel at about the same time?"Scarborough Country" is an awfully small place, huh? It must be one of those itty-bitty in population western"red states" whose inflated electoral votes gave W the election.

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

ANDREW CLINE IS... 05-05-03

okay!

I'm very relieved to hear it!

Posted by Tom at 2:17 p.m. CDT

MORE SCHADENFREUDE ABOUT BILL BENNETT 05-05-03

Michael Kinsley's column is quite good about this. Dr. Josh has three good posts (here, here, and here) as well. I also didn't realize there was a Newsweek article (just a shortened version of the Washington Monthly article) about this as well.

I must admit to quite a bit of schadenfreude about this fraudulent moralist being exposed.

I like this from Josh's most recent post:

And [Kinsley] candidly states what the real story here is: no one likes a stuffed shirt. Are people happy to pile on when someone so preachy takes a hit? Yes, of course, they are. That's human nature. And frankly it's a good part of it. I don't even want to link to some of the wildly intemperate attacks on the authors of the piece that I've seen today. But let's just make this point: many are now saying that it's impossible for anyone to talk about the importance of morality in the public sphere without themselves getting scrutinized for every possible personal lapse. I don't think this is true. Nor do I think this is really what Bennett's done. Bennett hasn't just piped up on behalf of morality in general. He's generally been the first in line to give a kick in the pants to individual people who've fallen short. That's a big difference. On this whole matter the wild fury of Bennett's defenders tells the story.
Indeed.

Posted by Tom at 12:35 p.m. CDT

MALTZ: LOTT IS"NOT A PERSON WHOSE RESEARCH I WOULD TRUST...OBVIOUSLY A GUN ADVOCATE" 05-05-03

As usual Tim Lambert is on the ball today. He's posted a letter to the editor from Michael Maltz about Lott's latest op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch. I'll the letter speak for itself:

In an effort to promote laws permitting the carrying of concealed weapons, in the April 24th Dispatch John Lott supports his own position by citing research I did with David Olson, purporting to show that these laws reduce homicide. In doing so, Lott bends the truth so much that he breaks its back. Specifically, Lott is well aware of a paper Joseph Targonski and I published in September of last year that points out that the data that we used in that study was problematic and should not be relied upon. The conclusion of our more recent paper is that Lott's data (and ours) were so error-laden that they cannot be used with any degree of reliability.

What is all the more galling is that Lott has used a pseudonym ("Mary Rosh") on the Web to vilify my research and that of others. He also used this same pseudonym to write an enthusiastic review of his own book on Amazon.com and to inform others that he was an excellent teacher; in fact,"Mary Rosh" (Lott) wrote of himself that"I have to say that he was the best professor that I ever had."

Moreover, he claims that he did a survey in 1997, with phone interviews of over 2000 people, for which he has no evidence, saying that the crash of his computer wiped out all of the data. Having gone through the same misfortune, I can well understand how this could devastate one's research. However, he has no record of how he obtained the sample, of what questions were asked, of who made the phone calls, of how or whether he paid the interviewers, of how they were supervised and their results validated, indeed, of anything that would support his claim that he actually conducted the survey. In short, Lott is not a person whose research I would trust; he is obviously a gun advocate, but he claims to be an unbiased researcher, which he clearly is not. Rather than using research to clarify important policy issues like this one, he instead selects only those"facts" that support his own political position. Worse, he misrepresents the work of other researchers to further his own unsupported claims.

Wow. I'll remind you that this stinging rebuke is from a fellow scholar in the field -- although I'm sure Lott's mouthpieces will claim Maltz is"rabidly anti-gun" or some such claptrap.

Care to comment, Glenn?

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

RASPBERRY:"BLATANT FLIMFLAM" 05-05-03

William Raspberry has an excellent column up this morning about the snake oil W and the boys are trying to sell as their tax cut/stimulus plan. Here's the"money quote":

As my accountant will tell you, I'm no big fan of taxes. I try to pay as little as I can get away with, and I grumble about that. Show me how I can get away with significantly less and I'm listening.

But I don't imagine that my finding a new way to save on taxes is doing anything for my country. The thousand bucks I might save isn't going to create a job or tempt me into investing in any sector that already has me gun-shy.

For me, the issue is simple. America has bills to pay, and taxes are the wherewithal for paying them. I look askance at people who tell me we can reduce the wherewithal and miraculously end up with more money to pay our bills.

I get the same feeling I get when some hack smears paint (or excrement) on a canvas and tries to make me believe it is great art, when some joker plays the piano with boxing gloves (or throws odds and ends into its works) and wants me to call it music, or when some wiseguy utters a string of incomprehensible sounds and insists that I accept it as poetry.

I don't like it when people try to flimflam me -- whether they do it by appealing to my greed or because they think I'm stupid.

This tax cut thing is flimflam. Won't anybody stand up and say so?

Indeed. The worst part of this is that W and the boys will tell us that this plan demonstrates they give a damn about the economy and they know this plan won't do a thing for the economy, well, anything positive at least. Just like Reagan's tax cuts in the early 1980s that did next to nothing for the economy, these cuts won't do much either.

As I've said before, this administration has been reduced to hoping for a miraculous turnaround in the economy that has nothing to do with their policies -- just like happened for Reagan in 1984.

But I actually think the worst part of it is that W and the boys will blast opponents of this ridiculous plan as not caring about the economy and the brainless ditto-heads and Rick Santorums of this world will believe them and spread the venom.

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

ARE YOU OKAY ANDREW? 05-04-03

I do hope Andrew Cline is okay. We're having a big tornado outbreak here in Western Missouri today. I know Andrew lives in Parkville and a tornado went right through there -- a rather large one in fact -- and actually hit the campus of the university where he teaches, Park University.

I've sent him an e-mail. I'll let you know if I hear from him.

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

TODAY'S LOTT UPDATE 05-04-03

As always, Tim Lambert's Lott update website is required reading. Predictably, Lott's latest story is falling apart just like all the others have.

Mark Kleiman also has an excellent post up about the Lott matter today. It's balanced and reasonable -- and suggests that Lott is an irresponsible and poor econometrician at least and a dishonest academic fraud at worst. As Kevin said yesterday, I think Mark's post hits all the right notes.

Mark's also right that it's about time for Lott's publishers and AEI to start an investigation. His publisher ought to consider issuing a retraction as well -- just as the publisher of Bellesiles' book should. Mark is right that if Lott were at a university, his university would've started an inquiry a while back. I mean, heck, the investigation of Bellesiles had started by this point in the scandal, right?

I do find the continued hypocrisy by the defenders of Lott who were Bellesiles' inquisitors highly amusing -- but not unexpected. After all, I predicted as much way back in the middle of January.

Update: Ralph Luker writes in to remind me (I had forgotten) that Bellesiles' publisher has done the right thing:

Just a slip of the keyboard on your part. A[rming] A[merica] has been withdrawn by Knopf and it is recycling returned books.
How about it, University of Chicago press?

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

AH, INCOMPETENCE... 05-04-03

thy name is the Bush administration.

If these radioactive materials have gotten into the hands of terrorists, the war we fought presumably to make us safer from terrorism has now done just the opposite -- and all because of this administration's monumental incompetence.

But W, Rove, et. al, are too busy swaggering about using the young men and women in the military as props in the Mighty Wurlitzer propaganda machine to notice at the moment.

As Brad Delong argues, it's now time to get some competent people in the White House. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of time left for W and the boys to continue to screw things up.

Posted by Tom at 8:08 a.m. CDT

LINKS AND SARCASM ON A BUSY DAY 05-03-03

I've been really busy today and will continue to be it appears. I'll pass along a few links though that I think you'll find worth your while.

First, there's this column that really sums up all that is wrong in America today. It's amazingly comprehensive for such a short column. Go give it a look.

Also, what sort of chutzpah does it take to lie to Uncle Sam about your company's earnings and then seek a tax refund. That's outrageous that these liars now want money back from us. I think not.

As I predicted long before the war took place, it's going to be very difficult to form a unified Iraqi state, especially with the demands of the Kurds in the North.

Speaking of the Iraqi state, it appears the inarticulate Jay Garner may be on the way out even if Rumsfeld likes him. As far as I'm concerned, if Rumsfeld likes him, that's a reason to send him packing.

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

THE HYPOCRISY OF BILL BENNETT AND MORALIZING CONSERVATIVES CONTINUES 05-03-03

Atrios has a couple of posts up today (here and here) about this that are very well worth reading.

I especially like the rewriting of this passage from today's New York Times story to reflect the annoying moralizing from a few years ago:

"It's his own penis and his own business," Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative advocacy group, said."The downside of getting the occasional blowjob is that Clinton gets a cheap thrill, which is unfortunate and probably a sin in and of itself," said Mr. Norquist, whose group advocates smaller government.

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and another conservative bitter enemy of Mr. Clinton, agreed that this was a matter between Mr. Clinton, his wife and his aggressive little wannabe paramour."It would be different if he had written anti-sex screeds," Mr. Kristol said."I'm sure he doesn't regard the occasional blowjob on the side as a virtue but as a rather minor and pardonable vice and a legal one and one that has not damaged him or anyone else."

Mr. Kristol said that Mr. Clinton was not being hypocritical."If Bill Clinton went on TV encouraging young people to engage in oral sex at halftime during the Homecoming game or was shilling for extramarital interests, that would be inconsistent" with his domestic policy on the economy which has resulted in an unprecedented surplus, Mr. Kristol said. ...

I agree that the hypocrisy here is quite astonishing in that Mr. Bennett, the moral scold, clearly picks and chooses what is morally objectionable to him. I also agree that he has clearly and suspiciously held his fire on gambling, something that many conservatives decry and view as an evil as well. I also love the"it's his own business" line. Well, folks, many of the things moralist conservatives decry are people's own private business too. Why do they want to insert themselves into people's bedrooms but, at the same time, insist that we should draw the line at the casino door? Can't you see the rather rank hypocrisy there, folks?

I guess I'd like to ask Mr. Bennett's famous question of conservatives today:"Where's the Outrage?" This guy's an obvious hypocrite with an addiction to gambling, why don't you quit lamely defending him and convince him to seek help -- before he blows his fortune?

And by the way, it is pretty sad that Bennett says"it's like drinking, if you can't handle it, don't do it." Clearly he can't, can he?

Posted by Tom at 12:23 p.m. CDT

SALETAN:"IMPATIENT JUSTICE" 05-02-03

Here's a good article by William Saletan about how W is still trying in vain to shoehorn Al-Qaeda into the justification for IraqWar Part II.

Here's a bit of it:

What does Bush have to say about the absence of evidence on these two points?"This much is certain," he observed in his victory address."No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more."

Well, that's true. No terrorist network will get weapons from Pat Moynihan, either. That doesn't make his death essential to the war on terror.

Saddam was a tyrant, butcher, and serial aggressor. He jerked around the U.N. Security Council for 12 years, and the council did nothing about it. Even if all his biological and chemical weapons were destroyed years ago, his refusal to prove it—as he had pledged to do—by turning over records and personnel defied any hope of enforcing nonproliferation rules for gross offenders. Something had to be done, and Bush did it.

But don't tell us this was a triumph in the war on terror, Mr. President. Don't tell us the defeat of a secular dictator has turned the tide against a gang of religious fanatics. And don't talk about patience. You inserted a battle that could have waited into a war that couldn't, precisely because you lacked—or thought we lacked—patience for the slow, diffuse, half-invisible struggle against the people who hit us on Sept. 11. You wanted a quick, clear victory, and you got it. But don't flatter yourself. You haven't changed the world in 19 months. You've only changed the subject.

Indeed.

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

INSTY'S KARMA'S GONNA GET YA 05-02-03

Anyone else offended that the head McCarthyite from a month ago is offended that he's getting hate mail because he didn't think W's speech was absolutely wonderful.

Welcome to the blogospheric world that you created Glenn. You accused anyone who didn't suckle W's toes of being anti-American a few weeks ago. How dare you act offended and surprised at the response to your (admittedly mild) criticism! You taught them how to do it, Glenn -- so just live with it!

Atrios argues that, now that Glenn and Andy Sullivan have been chastised by their fellow McCarthyites, they won't stray far from the reservation again.

I suspect he's right.

Posted by Tom at 8:27 p.m. CDT

THE STACKED COURTS RULE IN FAVOR OF BIG MONEY ONCE AGAIN 05-02-03

Timed to make my point earlier today about the stacked courts even stronger, a three judge Republican-stacked panel essentially neutered the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law this afternoon.

Boy, these Republican appointees to the courts sure are interested in democracy and the power of the little guy, aren't they?

BTW, money does not equal free speech -- what a bogus argument!

Posted by Tom at 8:02 p.m. CDT

TORTURED RATIONALE 05-02-03

Here's my contribution to the Daily Billboard today.

My grades are in! Hurray!

Posted by Tom at 7:52 p.m. CDT

"THE BOOKIE OF VIRTUE" 05-02-03

Oh, now I know what Josh Marshall was talking about. Oh, now this is good. Bill Bennett, Mr. Virtue, has a gambling problem. $8M worth of gambling losses over the last decade! My goodness.

I think the"money quote" is this one:

When reminded of studies that link heavy gambling to divorce, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, and other family problems he has widely decried, Bennett compared the situation to alcohol.

"I view it as drinking," Bennett says."If you can't handle it, don't do it."

Bennett is a wealthy man and may be able to handle losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Of course, as the nation's leading spokesman on virtue and personal responsibility, Bennett's gambling complicates his public role. Moreover, it has already exacted a cost. Like him or hate him, William Bennett is one of the few public figures with a proven ability to influence public policy by speaking out. By furtively indulging in a costly vice that destroys millions of lives and families across the nation, Bennett has profoundly undermined the credibility of his word on this moral issue.

So much for Mr. Virtue, huh?

I knew there had to be something going on with him -- there is with most hyper-moralists after all. Few of them live up to their own standards.

I actually feel sorry for him. He's got a problem and he needs to do something about it before he gambles his millions away.

Moralist, heal thyself.

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

CONGRATS... 05-02-03

to Dr. Josh Marshall! Finishing the dissertation and defense as well as being done with it is a wonderful feeling. I remember that day seven years ago quite well!

Again, congrats Josh!

Posted by Tom at 10:51 a.m. CDT

HOLY COW 05-02-03

What sort of chickenshit stuff is this?

Do Republicans have no shame? They do realize that the Republican Senate bottled up many more of Clinton's nominees than are being blocked of Bush's? Oh, that's right. Hypocrisy is not something they care about.

Ah, the irony -- filing suit in the already-stacked Republican federal court system so you can stack the federal courts even more!

You've certainly got to give them credit for moxie, huh?

BTW, isn't Senate confirmation supposed to be the constitutionally-mandated process that provides the people theoretically a check on the judicial nomination process? Isn't it, therefore, simply part of the democratic process?

Oh wait, I forgot. Republicans don't give a damn about that either. After all, we've seen they'll take a court decision over a fairly counted election any day, right?

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

UNEMPLOYMENT NOW AT 6% 05-02-03

Unemployment is now at 6% -- it's the longest negative period in job growth since the end of World War II. So all of those terrible economic times we've heard about -- the sucking 70s, the Reagan Recession of the early 1980s, the 1991-1992 recession -- all of those times actually had better jobgrowth than today. Now that's depressing, isn't it?

I would say this certainly sounds like Bush I's 1991-1992 to me except, at least as far as job growth is concerned, it is worse apparently.

And it takes at least two quarters of GDP growth over 3% for significant job growth to occur. I see no signs of that, do you?

How in the world is W going to get re-elected?

I'll say it again:"On to Syria!"

Posted by Tom at 9:55 a.m. CDT

THANKS -- AGAIN! 05-02-03

Sometime in the middle of the night, I had my 190,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It's only been three days since I had my 180,000th! Great site traffic this week, huh?

I've also had nearly 278,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September 18th as well.

As always folks, I do appreciate it! I hope I give you a good reason to come back!

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

THEY SLOWED IT DOWN? 05-02-03

Joe Moran points out that the Bush administration slowed down the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln so W could play sailor last night. Therefore, the ship docked one day later than it would have. I'm sure the sailors who hadn't seen their wives and children in months appreciated that!

Joe also mentions that the long-ago-debunked-as-fake story about Clinton's"haircut on the tarmac" pales in comparison to this one. I do wonder how much it cost the taxpayers to keep this aircraft carrier out at sea for an extra day for W's little photo op and speech?

Speaking of the photo-op, Atrios also wonders about the legality of an unlicensed pilot, better yet one who had his national guard flying privileges suspended, flying a naval aircraft?

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

GEORGE W. HOOVER 05-01-03

Who are the only two presidents of the last hundred years that have had negative numbers in the"job growth" column after their first term?

The answers to this question are Herbert Hoover and, unless the economy has the biggest turnaround of the last hundred years or so, George W. Bush.

Now you can understand why W is trying to make it look like he cares about the economy all of a sudden. Can you imagine the demagoguery by W and the boys next year if the economy doesn't begin to turn around?

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

THIS IS HILARIOUS 05-01-03

Get this:

President George Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is now acknowledging that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program is less clear-cut, and probably more difficult to establish, than the White House portrayed before the war.

She has no doubt that the US-led coalition, assisted by experts from Britain and Australia, will find Iraq's WMD programs. But for the first time, Dr Rice is saying publicly that it is less likely many actual weapons will be found. Rather, she described the programs as being hidden in so-called"dual use" infrastructure. In other words, chemicals and biological agents could be in plants, factories and laboratories capable of being used for legal and prohibited purposes.

Almost three weeks since the fall of Baghdad, with senior Iraqi scientists and officials in US custody, no chemical or biological weapons stockpiles have been found. Neither has any evidence been uncovered that Iraq had restarted a nuclear program.

In explaining the gap between the prewar and postwar claims on Iraq's WMD, Dr Rice said the US was now seeing the programs in a different light."The fact is that we are beginning to see a kind of pattern on how Iraq may have hidden its weapons of mass destruction from the outside world for all of these years," she said this week.

According to Dr Rice, the weapons programs are"in bits and pieces" rather than assembled weapons."You may find assembly lines, you may find pieces hidden here and there," she said. Ingredients or precursors, many non-lethal by themselves, could be embedded in dual-use facilities.

She had a new explanation too for Iraq's ability to launch these weapons that were not assembled."Just-in-time assembly" and"just-in-time" inventory, as she put it.

But in the months before the Iraq war, Mr Bush and his advisers, including the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, gave far more frightening descriptions of Iraq's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Addressing the UN Security Council on February 5, Mr Powell said recent intelligence showed a missile brigade outside Baghdad was"dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations". Mr Bush was equally alarmist, describing satellite evidence showing that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons programs with his top nuclear scientists, his"nuclear mujahideen". Iraq's deadliest weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists.

"We cannot wait for final proof," Mr Bush said."The smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

When Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, suggested Iraq's WMD program could be more fragmented and degraded, he was pilloried as naive or incompetent. When his inspectors talked of a more complex search for WMD, where components or precursors could be in the form of legal, dual-use chemical or biological agents that had to be monitored, they were dismissed as flatfooted and overcautious.

I'm going to say this slowly so you Bush partisans can understand: I hate to break it to you but W, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney lied to us about WMDs. The worst part is they knew they were lying and if you've been reading this blog for very long you know that I said as much and even laid out the counterclaims in the weeks before the war.

But this is hilarious. Now we're going to say exactly what Hans Blix was saying before the war and pretend that's what we thought all along.

Give me a damn break.

Surely people don't buy this b.s. do they?

Posted by Tom at 2:20 p.m. CDT

BUSILY GRADING 05-01-03

I'm working like mad to grade four classes' worth of finals. Here's one of the essay questions from my U.S. Constitutional History final (yes, I gave this one to them in advance):

Write an essay explaining the impact of social change and political movements on the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, in your opinion, did the framers of the U.S. Constitution mean to create a non-interventionist, laissez-faire state or a larger nationalist and interventionist government? What evidence can you provide for your conclusion? Does this really matter in how we interpret the constitution today?
Discuss.

Posted by Tom at 2:04 p.m. CDT

THE ECONOMIC BAD NEWS JUST KEEPS ON COMING FOR W 05-01-03

Atrios points us to this report showing jobless claims continue to be very high, 448,000 last week and the previous weeks was adjusted, predictably, upwards. Here's the relevant paragraph:

The labor market continues to deteriorate. Last week 448,000 people filed for first-time jobless claims, exceeding consensus estimates. The previous week’s number was revised up to 461,000. Initial claims have exceeded the benchmark 400,000 level for 11 consecutive weeks. Initial claims have actually trended higher since the end of March. Continuing claims have risen also, to 3.68 million. Tomorrow’s employment report will show a third month of net job losses.
Twelve weeks of jobless claims at more than 400,000 per week. Boy things are looking terrible economically, aren't they?

Can you say"On to Syria?"

Posted by Tom at 1:54 p.m. CDT

HOW DURABLE WILL W'S BOUNCE BE? 05-01-03

Ruy Teixeira says it it won't last long. After all, his IraqWar bounce is twenty points lower than his father's and it suffers from a very partisan split and the public doesn't think he has many answers on the economy. Here's a bit of this analysis:

Charlie Cook, in the first column cited above, remarks: “On the surface, as impressive as President Bush’s boost in approval ratings following the smashing success of the Iraq war, it is not as tall as his father's bounce after the Persian Gulf War. Nor does it carry the width and breadth of his own post–Sept. 11, 2001, surge in popularity.” To the extent the current bounce has durability, Cook argues, it is likely to be in the foreign policy area, which was already Bush’s strength, of course. Cook is dubious that the current bounce will have any lasting effect at all in the domestic area, particularly on views about the economy.

How big a problem is that? Consider the fact that, as the Los Angeles Times’ Ron Brownstein has pointed out, every post-World War II president, even those who lost during poor economic times, such as Jimmy Carter and the elder Bush, had at least some net job creation during their administrations. George W. Bush, whose administration has been accompanied by a loss of 2 million jobs so far, appears highly unlikely to wind up with a net gain of jobs by November, 2004.

No wonder, according to the latest Gallup poll, that 54 percent now say Bush is not paying enough attention to the economy. And no wonder 56 percent now say that the economy is in a recession, which completely erases the increase in economic optimism that accompanied the initial stages of the Iraq war. Further, the public is now about evenly split on whether Bush is in touch (50 percent) or not (48 percent) with the problems that ordinary Americans face. These figures are identical with pre-war measurements on this indicator, which means Bush has received no payoff at all from the war in the very important area of every day problem-solving.

That helps explain why Bush is out there pushing his tax cut initiative so strenuously: he knows he’s got to seem concerned about the economy and offer some kind of solution. Trouble is, the public doesn’t seem terribly convinced that his plan is much of a solution. Forty-seven percent say Bush’s tax cuts are a bad idea at this time, compared to 42 percent who say they’re a good idea. And 57 percent say Bush’s tax cuts will either hurt the economy or have no effect, compared to 36 percent who say they will help.

As Charlie Cook points out in his second column cited above, Bush, in seeking to avoid his father’s problem of seeming inattentive to the economy, is running a parallel risk of seeming ineffectual on the economy. His proposed economic remedies don’t have much support and don’t seem to be working very well, but he adamantly pursues them nonetheless. Unless things turn around, voters are likely to conclude he just doesn’t know what he’s doing in this department. That’s not much better, if at all, than seeming like you’re not paying attention.

Go read the rest of it. It's quite insightful.

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

SO MUCH FOR... 05-01-03

security as a major priority for the Bush administration.

Be sure and remember this little development. If there's another terrorist attack using commercial aircraft they'll do their best to weasel out of any responsibility (even if they have received briefing on hijackings of course) for it. Everything is always someone else's fault with this administration.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think you could necessarily blame the administration for 9/11. However, I won't say the same thing about the next terrorist attack because there has been adequate time to prepare for it now.

Let me repeat: W and the boys are laying off airport screeners to give tax cuts to rich people. If that doesn't tell you where their priorities truly lie, nothing will.

You know, they really did just flat-out lie to us in their campaign for the midterms, didn't they?

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


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