Spencer Blog Archives 9-03





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THE GUARDIAN REPORTS... 09-30-03

that I'm right about Karl Rove.

Several of the journalists are saying privately, yes it was Karl Rove who I talked to. Now, the thing is that the journalists are not going to name Karl Rove publicly because you don't name your sources, and to do so would discredit them as journalists. So the White House is safe for the time being, but Karl Rove's name is very much out there.
And the"we're too professional to have done anything this stupid" defense doesn't sound very convincing from the gang who has screwed up more things than they've gotten right and hasn't done a damn thing right in several months, eh?

That Rove is our guy is the only thing that makes sense. I mean, honestly, they really wouldn't be doing all of this for Scooter Libby.

We'll see I guess.

At this point I think the press is just amazed that they keep lying about it.

Posted by Tom at 6:46 p.m. CDTComment

MCCLELLAN DIGS THE WHITE HOUSE IN DEEPER 09-30-03

The guy who started all of this, David Corn, gives us an effective update on where things stand. His concluding paragraph is particularly good:

The facts are closing in on Bush and his crowd. And perhaps the law--that is, if Bush's comrades at the Justice Department are on the level. As Iraq continues to be a $170 billion headache, they have tied themselves to the mast of their prewar misrepresentations. As the Wilson leak threatens to become a primetime scandal, they are yielding no ground and hoping this inconvenience blows past. All in all, a precarious position for Bush. These are messes too severe to be straightened out by McClellan's heavy-handed, ludicrous spin.
I think that is becoming obvious to the press corps as well.

[Link via Atrios]

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

KEVIN HAS A GOOD ROUNDUP... 09-30-03

of the latest" circle the wagons" excuses being provided by this administration's sycophants.

But, he boils it down quite well for all of us:

The bottom line remains pretty much the same: A couple of top Bush administration officials blabbed about a clandestine CIA operative to the press in order to try to discredit her husband, and now they're covering it up. Either you think that's OK or you don't. I don't.
Kevin also agrees with me that the names are going to come out sooner or later:

And there are too many people who know the names of the leakers for that to stay secret very much longer.

It might be a couple of days or a couple of weeks, but both of these questions are going to be answered. When they are, the Bush loyalists peddling the excuses above are going to have to put up or shut up.

Indeed.

Posted by Tom at 10:24 a.m. CDTComment

I STILL THINK ROVE WAS INVOLVED 09-30-03

I was preparing to write a post about how Bob Novak had changed his story but then I discovered Josh Marshall had already done so.

Honestly, folks, why is Bob Novak changing his story? My guess is that Rove has called him and really let him have it. Novak's being told if he ever wants to talk to ANYONE in this administration ever again, he'd better help them get out of this jam.

Furthermore, this issue about CIA"operative" versus"analyst" is a red herring folks. We wouldn't be having this scandal of she were just an analyst. Do you really think we'd be hearing all of this and that the CIA would call for a DOJ investigation of the leak of the identity of an analyst?

Come on folks, get real. Sometimes I wonder if the media thinks through the logic of what they're being told sometimes.

Oh yeah. Here's the latest WaPo story this morning as well. W still believes he can get out of this one unscathed apparently. I also love how the usual media lapdogs are telling us nothing will ever come of this because it's a leak investigation and those seldom go anywhere.

Folks, the difference here is that these idiots called six journalists with this -- not one or two. And, from what I can tell, these guys have been talking to their colleagues. This is the best known secret in Washington these days I suspect. It's only a matter of time before their names become known folks. W and the boys are hoping it'll blow over.

I think they're wrong. I agree with Torie"fashion plate" Clarke who said on CNN last night that the quickest way to end all of this would be to have those involved resign and face charges. She said that's the quickest way for this administration to put it behind them now.

Why won't W and the boys do this? Well, one possibility is, if Rove didn't make the calls himself, whomever did the calling knows that Rove was certainly"involved" and that McClellan lied about that very thing yesterday. They've now got Rove by the you-know-whats and want to be spared the humiliation and jail time. As I've said numerous times, I believe if one of the culprits (whom I think was either directly or indirectly involved) here wasn't Rove, we wouldn't be going through all of this. They'd have quickly jettisoned whomever it was and moved on.

I wonder how long it will be before someone in the media, tired of waiting for W and the boys to come clean, talks about just who it was that was shopping this information around.

I think it'll happen within the next couple of weeks. What do you think?

That's when the next firestorm will consume this White House.

Update: Josh notes that, since Alberto Gonzales's letter to the White House staff refers to Plame as an"undercover CIA employee," this"analyst" versus"operative" line is"no longer operative."

As I said earlier, it was obviously a deflective red herring that was meant to provide Republicans with an excuse to stop paying attention now -- sort of like May's"everybody knew it" excuse yesterday.

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

A BIT OF REVIEW 09-29-03

From my very first post on July 16th about the Wilson-Plame scandal:

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

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

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

I obviously still stand by those words.

If you want to review the early history of the Wilson-Plame scandal, just peruse my July archive a bit. (If you're wanting to link to anything, the permalinks don't work unless you insert"1573" for"900" in the permalink's URL.)

As you'll see by reviewing that month's posts, it was during the middle of July that the wheels really began coming off for this administration.

Posted by Tom at 9:24 p.m. CDTComment

SOMEBODY KNOWS SOMETHING 09-29-03

Isn't it interesting that the folks in the press corps are banging away at McClellan about Karl Rove?

McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.

QUESTION: How does he know that?

QUESTION: How does he know that?

McCLELLAN: The President knows.

QUESTION: What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?

I mean, heck, why are the folks in the press corps doing that? It's not like they know who called...hey, wait a minute! At least six of them (and probably more) in that room do know who it was that called shopping this story around.

The fact they won't leave McClellan alone when he denies it and are apparently incredulous when he tries to say Rove isn't involved should tell us all we need to know really. As I said earlier, I think McClellan's lying. Even if Rove didn't make the call himself (and he very well may have), I suspect he knew all about it and was therefore certainly involved.

That's just my two cents on this at the moment.

Posted by Tom at 7:05 p.m. CDTComment

A COUPLE OF W'S SYCOPHANTS AT NRO ARE EMBARRASSING THEMSELVES 09-29-03

Mark Levin and Cliff May over at NRO are shamelessly trying to spin this thing as a non-scandal. They sound pretty desperate to me.

I think Josh puts it quite well:

As the lawyers say, when the facts are on your side, bang the facts. When the law's on your side, bang the law. When you've got neither, bang the table.

When you don't even got a table, it would seem, you bang yourself.

Indeed.

Heh.

Update: I had forgotten about what a partisan hack May is. You ought to take a look at this post of mine taking apart an attack piece of his in July.

Posted by Tom at 6:55 p.m. CDTComment

WHITE HOUSE DENIES ROVE HAS ANY INVOLVEMENT IN THE WILSON-PLAME SCANDAL 09-29-03

He wasn't involved," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of Rove."The president knows he wasn't involved. ... It's simply not true."
Well, Scott, does the president actually know who was involved?

Why am I having trouble believing Rove played NO ROLE in this whole thing whatsoever? I have a suspicion that McClellan just lied to the American people.

We'll see I guess. If he lied, expect someone to contradict him"off the record" soon.

Oh yeah. Mark Kleiman has several good posts up about the Wilson-Plame affair and an excellent run-down of it here.

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

HOW SERIOUS DOES W THINK THIS SCANDAL IS? 09-29-03

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.
Not very apparently.

W still thinks he can get his buddies out of it, doesn't he?

The arrogance of these guys is just astounding, isn't it?

The other possibility is that he wants to keep himself ignorant of it so that he doesn't have to answer questions (lie?) about it in public.

W and the boys certainly have restored"honor and dignity" to the White House, eh?

Update:Josh, as usual, has more. BTW, as Josh tells us, Rove has called Novak before:

Sources close to the former president [George H.W. Bush] say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted.
Hmmm...

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

INSTY CONTINUES TO EMBARRASS HIMSELF 09-28-03

Atrios responds to the continuing foolishness of Insty:

Let me spell it out for you Glenn. This isn't about now-Solicitor General Ted Olson making shit up under the name"Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short" writing for a Scaife-funded right wing attack mag, or Gary Aldrich claiming the White House Christmas tree was decorated with crack pipes and dildos, or Dan Burton blowing up watermelons.

This is one SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL accusing TWO TOP WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS of committing rather serious felonies. If the allegations are true, it's also about a president who, at least knowing about this after the fact, kept these people around for months during a time of war.

A classic moment in the history of the blogosphere, eh?

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

THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE IMPLICATING KARL ROVE
09-28-03

I've been thinking about this for the last few hours. Everyone keeps talking about how this could involve Karl Rove. I think it's even more obvious than that folks. The central figure in all of this IS Karl Rove. That would explain everything that's happened so far.

Do you really think that the administration would've let this go on for so long and imperil them in such a debilitating way if the leaker of Plame's identity were one of the minor players like Steve Hadley, Dan Barlett, John Gordon or Scooter Libby?

I mean, honestly folks, those guys are minor players who certainly aren't considered"Bush's brain." They'd have jettisoned Condi Rice herself, perfect token though she is, by now if it would've got them off the hook.

The fact that the press knows exactly who is involved yet won't tell us also provides further evidence that one of the leakers of Plame's identity is Rove. The press is afraid of Rove's rather Machiavellian approach to everything -- including basic press access. They're afraid if they finger Rove directly that their access to Dear MisLeader will be cut off.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it that way, doesn't it?

I think that's what's going on here folks. We're watching the White House try to protect the fellow who they believe to be the brains of their operation. Otherwise they'd have dumped anyone else over the side by now.

Again, this is just my opinion but I believe it to be a rather rational one.

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

THE ALLEGED FELONS ARE STILL WORKING IN THE WHITE HOUSE 09-28-03

So the president knows that two of his top aides blew the cover of a CIA employee under non-official-cover to take revenge against one of the his critics, and that in doing so they almost certainly broke federal law. In the unlikely -- but possible -- event that he does not yet know their identities right now he could pick up the phone and find out in a matter of minutes.

But he's leaving them in place and, as far as we know, hasn't disciplined them in any way. He's waiting for the Justice Department to decide whether there should be a criminal investigation.

Why?

Why indeed.

Posted by Tom at 2:19 p.m. CDTComment

THE FIRESTORM CONTINUES 09-28-03

Interestingly enough, as the blogospheric storm gets going (see all the usual folks: Atrios, Josh, CalPundit, Hesiod, etc. for the latest updates and excellent commentary), I haven't seen much on the television news where much of the American public (that doesn't read newspapers or, for that matter, doesn't read in general) gets its news.

We were talking about a lie about consensual sex for weeks and months on end folks. Here we have a felony apparently committed by two of W's closest advisors and we're not even really talking about it?

Where's the damn outrage folks?

You'll also note that the right side of the blogosphere has been astonishingly quiet about this little matter. Admittedly, Insty has already embarrassed himself with the"it's really too complicated for me to understand" defense.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think Glenn's smart enough to understand it and have an opinion. He's just trying real hard not to think about it too much.

I mean, heck folks, major felonies (some might even say it's damn near treason) have apparently been committed by some of his heroes in the administration merely for political revenge. I'm sure it just boggles Glenn's mind.

And, again, this isn't something minor like lying about consensual sex in a deposition for a lawsuit about a completely unrelated matter folks.

If this is true (and it certainly looks like it is), a major crime that may have made all of us less safe has been committed.

Update:Jeff Cooper says in comments:

Tom, in fairness there are right-leaning bloggers who not only are writing about the story but are upset about it. John Cole suggested it might be time for a perp walk, and Daniel Drezner said that this was the kind of story that could cause him to switch parties.. Tom Maguire has been following this story for as long as Mark Kleiman and I have; he's skeptical about some aspects of it, but he fully recognizes its seriousness.

I fully agree that Glenn's post this morning is laughable. Too complicated to understand. Indeed. Heh.

If I've unfairly maligned these three righty bloggers, I do apologize. If you want to follow the links, click on the comments and follow them.

Admittedly, I'm not in touch at all with the righty blogosphere so I was taking Hesiod's word for it entirely. However, you'll have to agree that three bloggers does not exactly make the right side of the blogosphere"fair and balanced" regarding this story now, does it?

Posted by Tom at 1:34 p.m. CDTComment

FROG MARCH APPROACHING? 09-28-03

Atrios and CalPundit have good recaps of the Wilson-Plame scandal.

If you want to know how serious it is, Josh has this comment on Condi Rice's appearance on Faux this morning:

When your best argument is 'the Justice Department is investigating us and we hope they get to the bottom of it', you're in a jam.
And, by the way, don't your ears prick up every time they say"But the president didn't know." Haven't we heard that before?

Finally, Kevin's latest post on it makes an excellent point:

Now that this story has been confirmed, it really makes you face up to the true contemptibility of the whole affair. Think about it: two top White House officials, the ones who run this country and are supposed to guard the security of our country, blew the cover of a CIA agent solely to gain some petty revenge on a minor political opponent.

I just don't know how much worse it gets than that. As much as I despise the team in the White House, I always thought that — in their own way — they were doing what they thought was best for America. I never thought they would betray their own country just out of spite. I really didn't.

But if they'll do something like this, they'll do anything. I guess Krugman was right all along: these are radical ideologues who care about nothing except staying in power and will do anything, no matter how craven and malevolent, to get what they want.

I think that about covers it, don't you?

At this point it's awfully hard to believe these same people used to say that Clinton's administration was corrupt and immoral, isn't it?

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

KABOOM!!! IT'S TAKING OFF NOW FOLKS -- WAPO'S GOT IT
09-27-03

Here's the story in the WaPo that will now blow this sucker wide open now.

Jeepers, take a look at this:

A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. That was shortly after Wilson revealed in July that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account eventually touched off a controversy over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers' allegation was that Wilson had benefited from nepotism because the Niger mission had been his wife's idea. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said,"The real issue is Wilson and his wife."

The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said he had no indication that Bush knew about the calls. Columnist Robert Novak published the agent's name in a July column about Wilson's mission.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were"wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. He said Aug. 21 at a public forum in Seattle that it is of keen interest to him"to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

And now folks in this administration are turning on each other.

This one's really getting interesting fast, isn't it?

[Link via (who else?) Talking Points Memo]

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

DOJ HAS OPENED THE PRELIMINARY PROBE 09-27-03

The preliminary probe has begun into the Wilson-Plame affair over at Ashcroft's Department of Justice. This was triggered automatically by the CIA's findings that a crime appears to have been committed. Now it's up to Ashcroft and Company to decide if the FBI should be called in.

With the proper amount of skepticism, Atrios said earlier this evening:

We'll see if it's a real one or a fake one.
If it seemingly disappears from Ashcroft's radar screen or if Rove and Company are quickly exonerated, that will be very suspicious.

As I said earlier, several different folks (bloggers and journalists) I've been reading have reported that journalists told them the White House was shopping this story around. That certainly sounds like there's something to it folks.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Tom at 9:14 p.m. CDTComment

MORE REPUBLICAN CRONYISM 09-27-03

This one has me speechless:

So, you start a company to privatize education and take on the teachers unions. Your company fails miserably both in terms of the market and academic success. Then after you've hollowed the company out to cover your other bad debts friendly pols come along to bail you out with a couple hundred million from the teachers' (and other public employees') pension fund. I love symmetry.
Josh has really been in the zone the last couple of days, hasn't he?

Posted by Tom at 5:23 p.m. CDTComment

THE FOX IS NOW OFFICIALLY IN CHARGE OF THE HENHOUSE
09-27-03

As Josh Marshall explains, John Ashcroft now will decide if an investigation by the FBI is warranted in the Wilson-Plame affair. Supposedly many in the White House press corps have admitted that the White House was shopping this story around for a couple of days before Novak bit on it.

The CIA has done its own investigation and has found evidence a crime has been committed. They have now requested an official investigation from Ashcroft.

So, if nothing comes of this, we know exactly who to blame, don't we?

Ashcroft is well known for his even-handedness, right? I'm not holding my breath that Ashcroft does a damn thing myself.

Oh yeah, and while you're over at Josh's reading about the corrupt nature of this administration, you might as well read his next post down about the crony capitalist corruption that goes to the core of the GOP party as well. I knew Haley Barbour's name would show up eventually.

Isn't it great when political cronies of a president use the reconstruction business after an immoral and unnecessary war to enrich themselves?

It's hilarious that Republicans tried to tell us that Clinton's administration was corrupt, isn't it? I guess Republicans know where of they speak.

Compared to W and the boys, Clinton's administration was apparently as squeaky clean as a church quilting circle.

Update: Josh wonders aloud why this isn't getting any more attention from the media:

But news that the CIA has recommended an investigation of White House aides for criminal wrongdoing is a pretty big deal. So the fact that no one else has picked it up strikes me as odd.
Odd indeed.

Update 2: DOJ has opened the preliminary inquiry (See post above).

Update 3: Kaboom! This one's breaking fast folks -- and Bush administration officials are turning on each other! (See this post above.)

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

DEFINITELY A FAUX NEWS CHANNEL 09-26-03

This is reprehensible. I don't care for Tucker Carlson's politics either but that doesn't mean you do this to him. Only the idiots at Fox could do something like this -- and only Fox's bottom feeder viewers could call up Carlson's children and cuss them out.

(Faux's wingnut viewers are upset at Carlson because he's pretty critical of W these days.)

On a related note, I'm also taking this opportunity to add Steve Gilliard's blog to the blogroll as well.

Posted by Tom at 7:18 p.m. CDTComment

"A MISERABLE FAILURE" 09-26-03

With one phrase Dick Gephardt has defined the issue to be decided next November. Can a"miserable failure" of a president win re-election? Bush's victory would testify to a civic failure more dangerous to the American future than any policies implemented or continued during a second Bush term. A majority would have demonstrated that democratic accountability is finished. That you can fail in everything and still be re-elected president.

...

The Founders feared that the republic would succumb to corruption without republican citizenship—without citizens who could transcend privatism and hold elected officials to account, demanding probity and competence, and judging their performance against both the clamorous necessities of the time and the mute claims of posterity. They made property a criterion for voting because it secured a measure of economic independence. Property-less wage laborers, they feared, would vote as their employers instructed them to. The extension of democracy to those who could not rise to the responsibilities of republican freedom would corrupt the republic—hasten its decay into oligarchy or mob rule.

For all their worldliness the Founders were naïve to regard property as a shield of incorruptibility or the property-less as inherently corruptible. Their core insight, however, remains valid. A republic can be corrupted at the top and bottom, by leaders and led. The re-election of George W. Bush would signal that a kind of corruption had set in among the led. Our miserable failure as republican citizens would match his as President.

That's about as effective a condemnation of W's presidency as I've ever heard.

Be sure to read the rest of this piece by Jack Beatty from the Atlantic.

And I agree that the inattention of the American people is certainly partially to blame for our current predicament. We have reached a point where the average American is not sufficiently engaged in their own governance to even feel they can hold an opinion on the events of the day. The corrupt and unnecessary war we have just engaged in (and the fact that most Americans apparently supported it) certainly proves that.

As I've said many times, many Americans were looking for an excuse to believe the administration and Colin Powell's presentation gave them one in February. Unfortunately, that U.N. presentation has now turned out to be largely bogus -- but there was sufficient evidence to tell that way back in February.

But most Americans couldn't be bothered to fact-check the administration. If that isn't a sign of corruption on both ends of the equation, nothing is.

The link to this story was sent to me by Dwight Meredith of the recently (sigh) shut down blog PLA.

Posted by Tom at 6:21 p.m. CDTComment

IRAQ WAR A"BRAIN FART?" 09-26-03

General Anthony Zinni says:

We should be...extremely proud of what our people did out there....It kills me when I hear of the continuing casualties and the sacrifice that's being made. It also kills me when I hear someone say that, well, each one of those is a personal tragedy, but in the overall scheme of things, they're insignificant statistically." (Perhaps he had in mind the comment Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made in June, when he played down attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq by saying,"You've got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month; there's going to be violence in a big city.") Zinni continued:"When we put [our enlisted men and women] in harm's way, it had better count for something, It can't be because some policy wonk back here has a brain fart of an idea of a strategy that isn't thought out.
It really is astonishing to realize, as Atrios so memorably put it a short while ago, that this was the plan for postwar Iraq by Rummy and Company:

They really did think they'd just install King Chalabi I, and he'd be showered with rose petals as he sold off the oil fields.
And that fact, my friends, gets to the utter depths of this administration's unfathomable incompetence.

You and I knew it wasn't going to be that easy, didn't we?

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

WHY CAN'T CONSERVATIVE PUNDITS... 09-26-03

like Ann Coulter and David Limbaugh ever just tell the truth?

Isn't it hilarious that these lying liars have the gall to spill tons of ink claiming that liberals are lying?

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

BUSH'S LAST BUDGET REQUEST FOR IRAQ AS MUCH OR MORE THAN THE MARSHALL PLAN 09-26-03

I grew up hearing about the Marshall Plan and I've studied it. Isn't it shocking that Bush's last budget request for Iraq is as much or more than the entire Marshall Plan? In fact, folks, this war and reconstruction over the next year or so will cost probably twice to four times as much as what the Marshall Plan did.

My goodness. If that doesn't give you pause I don't know what will. I'm not sure"sticker shock" quite covers it. So much for"war on the cheap," huh?

But Rummy wants you to know that, expensive though it is, this stuff we're doing in Iraq isn't nation-building.

I'm with Art. These guys aren't liars. They're delusional psychotics.

[Art Silber link via Bill O'Atrios]

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

OPTIMISM AND CRONY CAPITALISM 09-26-03

The Wall Street Journal believes that W's support will eventually stabilize at a point"closer to the current 49% than to zero."

How's that for showing confidence in your man, huh?

In other words, the WSJ just showed that even Republicans think W's in trouble.

Oh yeah, and while you're over at TPM, read this post about the uber-crony capitalism of the Bushies. One of W's bestest cronies is now running a company that promises to get you the sweetest deals on reconstruction in Iraq.

Unbelievable.

This paragraph looks even more accurate today than it did last night:

In the best traditions of a banana republic, Bush is actively concentrating power and wealth. Friends-of-Bill walked away with nothing compared with the Friends-of-Bush. They are being given everything they want on a platter - silver of course - and the spoils include what has been promised to you, me and future generations of Americans.
Doesn't it?

You'd better get it in boys. These just may be the last days of Rome after all.

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

THIS IS ABOUT RIGHT 09-25-03

In the best traditions of a banana republic, Bush is actively concentrating power and wealth. Friends-of-Bill walked away with nothing compared with the Friends-of-Bush. They are being given everything they want on a platter - silver of course - and the spoils include what has been promised to you, me and future generations of Americans.
Read the rest of it. This sort of thing should be what the Democratic presidential nominee says about W next year.

This is a devastating and well-reasoned piece.

[Link via Bartcop]

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

RUMMY'S CRITICS IN MARCH AND APRIL HAVE NOW BEEN VINDICATED 09-25-03

“Windbags of war,” quipped a television critic back in April as cable news airwaves normally filled with slick broadcasters were invaded by graying former generals. With American troops thrusting into Iraq, television networks put these retired officers on retainer to ride shotgun with their anchors. When several of them dared warn that the American war plan spread U.S. forces dangerously thin, the Pentagon quickly launched a broadside that all but accused them of undermining the war effort. Five months later, however, American troops are dying in a guerrilla war, more National Guard and reservists are being mobilized and the Bush team has few allies abroad willing to send their own sons into harm’s way. The “winds of war” appear to have shifted.

...

“I argued on the air during the war, that the coalition did not have enough troops to finish the conventional campaign against the Iraqi Army and simultaneously disperse to centers of regional and tribal power to establish the safe and secure environment needed to support reconstruction,” says Gen. Meigs, a retired four star general, former commander U.S. forces in Europe who appeared on MSNBC during the war. “I think that position has been born out by events.”

...

But these experts say — and have said for months — that the more important and lasting errors made by the administration was the decision to disband the Iraqi Army and send its entire strength, including Republican Guard, fedayeen militia units and senior officers, back to their home villages without vetting them or creating POW camps.

“This is a 400,000 man army that disappeared into thin air, was never engaged or defeated on the battlefield,” says McCaffrey. “That was a stupid thing to do. We should have kept every officer we captured; we should have kept every member of Republican Guard and every fedayeen until we could finger print and get a digital photo of them, releasing them knowing where they live. But we had no troops to guard and process them, just as we had insufficient troops to guard key buildings, to garrison key towns and to search for weapons of mass destruction.”

“Now, elements of this army is attacking us with truck bombs, mortars, RPGs, remote controlled mines — all stuff in the Iraqi Army arsenal,” McCaffrey says.

Meigs agrees: “Dismissing the entire Iraqi Army en masse after the war ... was a major mistake. We should have done what the Germans did with the East German Army after reunification [in 1990]. Send away all over the rank of major and sift through the rest for the ones that could be used to form a new Army, then use them to help maintain a secure environment as part of our effort.”

...

But he and his retired colleagues have been right about the trouble the Pentagon was courting from the start, and they deserve an apology from the Bush administration as public as the unwarranted criticism leveled at them during the war. They’re unlikely to get it, but at least one of them, a former CNN analyst named Wesley Clark, is seeking satisfaction on another battlefield.

And I ask, for the umpteenth time, why the hell does Donald Rumsfeld still have a job?

Posted by Tom at 7:41 p.m. CDTComment

W'S CREDIBILITY IS EXHAUSTED 09-25-03

Josh has a good post up about why W's numbers are in free fall:

I'm hearing many conservatives say now that the White House political office is off their game. But I see no real evidence of this. The problem is more fundamental. For quite some time this White House has functioned like a heavily leveraged business, an overextended investor that suddenly gets a margin call. To extend the business metaphor, the White House has been surviving not on profits but expectations of future profits or, in other words, credibility. The White House has been able to get the public to sit tight with a lot of objectively poor news (a poor economy, big deficits, bad news from abroad) on the basis of trust.

But a combination of the manifest incompetence of the planning for post-war Iraq and the dishonesty of the build-up for the war have become increasingly difficult to defend or deny. And that's struck a grave blow against the president's credibility.

Credibility of course is unitary. And the erosion has ricocheted from foreign policy to domestic policy and back again in escalating fashion. Suddenly the White House's explanations for why the country has fallen back into half trillion dollar deficits are ringing hollow.

As we've seen recently, a hollowed-out company can push along for some time so long as no one takes a good look at the books or calls in their loans. But when it happens the fall can be dramatic.

I think Josh is on the mark there. Boy, now this prediction of mine from March 24th is looking on-target:

W really should get a serious"rally around the flag" effect for a while -- until Americans realize, once again, that the economy sucks and that this president has no plans to do much about it except reward his rich contributors with tax cuts. That realization should set in sometime early next year -- just as the presidential campaign gets started. About that time Iraq should become increasingly expensive and chaotic as well.
Damn near prophetic, eh?

This prediction from May is looking pretty good as well.

Posted by Tom at 10:38 a.m. CDTComment

COMMENTS BACK UP 09-25-03

Haloscan comments are back up folks.

While comments were down, Michael Hatley posted a response to this post about George W and History on his own blog. A link to this post would have appeared in the comments, so I thought I'd share it with you here.

Comment away! In fact, as far as I'm concerned, use the comments to this post to say whatever you'd like!

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

W STRIKES OUT 09-25-03

Not surprisingly, W leaves the U.N. empty-handed. No troops or funds for Iraq.

Chalk this up as yet another in a long line of major diplomatic failures for the Bush administration.

And, just think, if they had been patient and waited a few months to begin this war, they might have gotten both international support and a real international coalition. I still wouldn't have supported the war but it certainly would've been viewed by the world as much more legitimate.

Of course, it would've been really embarrassing to have gotten everyone involved in this war -- and then found zip in the way of WMDs, wouldn't it?

Posted by Tom at 8:26 a.m. CDTComment

COMMENTS DOWN 09-24-03

I don't know what's up with the comments. They haven't worked all day. I've noticed that Haloscan comments aren't working for anyone today. Hopefully they'll be back up tomorrow.

You're welcome to send me an e-mail in lieu of comments.

Posted by Tom at 7:18 p.m. CDTComment

W'S APPROVAL IS BELOW 50%... 09-24-03

in the NBC/Wall St. Journal poll.

Expect the other polls to follow suit -- and soon.

It's all coming apart for W folks.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 7:16 p.m. CDTComment

YOU KNOW IT'S BAD WHEN... 09-24-03

Glenn Reynolds abandons John Lott."Bogus attacks," eh Glenn? Isn't it funny when Insty behaves just like the Bellesiles supporters did in the midst of that scandal but isn't self-aware enough to realize it?

And, as Ralph Luker notes, it's well past time for Clayton Cramer to

belly up to the bar. It isn't enough to claim that Lott is credible because you want him to be credible.
Oh, Clayton? Don't you agree?

[Links via Tim Lambert]

Posted by Tom at 1:52 p.m. CDTComment

HISTORY AND GEORGE W 09-24-03

As someone who often feels like his blog is his"alter ego," the historian part of me can't help but ponder the historical legacy of George W. I'm still not convinced that W and the boys are done yet. I can't help but worry that W and the boys will find some way to scare enough Americans into voting for them next year to achieve re-election.

However, it is interesting to ponder what could save W next year other than well-orchestrated fear-mongering and divisive Republican campaign tactics. W could still be saved by a miraculous turnaround in the economy. However, that is looking less and less likely. The president and his minions have been telling us the economy and unemployment are going to improve for months now -- to no avail. I would argue that unless the signs of serious recovery are there by the end of the year, W's in a world of hurt.

Without the economy giving Americans a reason to vote for him, W has no other achievement worthy of much merit. Nearly every thing he's touched has turned out terribly. What's interesting is to ponder that Republicans have been telling us for years that if you'll just give us everything we've been asking for, wonderful things will happen. The sun will shine brighter and the economy will take off in a way that will make the 1990s look like, well, the 1980s.

So, suffice it to say, Republicans have gotten their wish over the last couple of years: we've got criminally-low taxes, essentially a polluters-first environmental policy, and a unilateral and muscular foreign policy that has given the administration a free hand to invade and attack any country it deems a threat.

And, guess what? Things on all these fronts are quite a bit worse now than they were when the Republicans took control of all three branches of government three years ago.

Now, admittedly, as a historian I must admit that some presidents are saved by economic turnarounds they deserve little or no credit for. Both Reagan and Clinton would've been cooked if the economy hadn't gone into very muscular turnarounds that saved them. At this point in Reagan and Clinton's first terms, it was clear the economy was on the road to recovery and jobs were being created.

At this point, one cannot say the same thing for W's presidency. While the economy continues to grow at a low to moderate rate, the same cannot be said for unemployment. Interestingly enough, W's presidency is showing a remarkably consistent pattern of mirroring that of his father's -- despite his every attempt to avoid history repeating itself.

In fact, W's economic record is now quite a bit worse than his father's. W has now presided over the largest downturn in employment since the Great Depression -- and the problem shows no signs of abating any time soon.

How much did Reagan's and Clinton's policies have to do with their respective recoveries? Since I'm not an economist, I can't really say for certain but Clinton's economic boom certainly lasted longer and was quite a bit more robust. But, since I'm not an economic historian, I'll leave that judgement to others more qualified than I am. However, I think we'd all agree, rightly or wrongly, presidents get undeserved credit for economic good times and undeserved blame for economic hard times. So far I see absolutely no evidence that W's policies have impacted the economy one way or the other -- and that's not good news for George W. And I don't think most Americans will buy the"it would've been a lot worse without the enormous tax cuts" argument that W and the boys will be repeating ad nauseum next year. That's not exactly a very imaginative defense, is it?

And this lack of imagination applies not only to the White House but to the party itself. In fact, Republicans these days, instead of coming up with new ideas or altering their policies, are reduced to forging on ahead with the same tired and unimaginative business-friendly tax-cutting formula that has, well, gotten us nowhere so far.

Now, as I'm sure you remember, quite a while back I bristled at Helen Thomas's judgement that W was the"worst president in all of American history." In my opinion as a historian, I don't really believe you can judge a president until quite a while after they've left office. Only then do you know what their long-term impact (or damage) has been. Only now do I think we can begin to make historic judgements about Reagan and Bush I. Historical judgements about Clinton will be possible in the next couple of years.

Making harsh snap historic judgements about presidents while they're in office is, in my opinion, exceedingly unwise. However, I will say this much: at this point, whether he's re-elected or not, it doesn't appear history's going to be very kind to George W. Bush.

Posted by Tom at 12:41 p.m. CDTComment

W AND THE BOYS TAKE A BEATING 09-24-03

Now, why is it we're not hearing anything from Kay about the WMDs in Iraq? Could it be because they have found absolutely nothing?

Mr Neil said, according to the source, the report will say its inspectors have not even unearthed"minute amounts of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons material".
What's hilarious is that the report -- if it is ever made public -- will still claim that Saddam Hussein was involved in a campaign to deceive and mislead U.N. weapons inspectors. This is sort of a basic logical problem. If Saddam had no WMDs, why would that have even been necessary?

[Link via Atrios]

Hesiod also points us (Blogger is behaving badly this morning) to this exchange between Richard Perle and Medea Benjamin on Newshour last night:

RICHARD PERLE: What you just heard is a tirade against American companies in the left-wing tradition that she represents. Her characterization of the situation in Iraq is not at all borne out by many conversations I've had with Iraqis, including members of the governing council she's been referring to.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I challenge to you go there with me, Mr. Perle, because I was there in July, I was there in August, I don't stay in the presidential palace, I don't go around with bodyguards and helicopters and sniffing dogs like Paul Bremer and Colin Powell. I challenge to you go with me, without any bodyguards and let's walk around the streets of the cities of Iraq and see what it looks like six months after the U.S. occupation.

RICHARD PERLE: With all due respect, your sojourns in the cities of Iraq are hardly the appropriate measure of how well we have done in restoring electricity and getting water back on track. I don't think --

MEDEA BENJAMIN: You know better sitting in Washington, D.C.?

Ouch. Now that's the way Richard Perle ought to be treated these days! He's been so astonishingly wrong about every damned thing involving Iraq and the Middle East that he should be drummed out of the foreign policy expert / punditry corps.

It's like these guys don't learn a damned thing from their mistakes.

And I agree with Josh, it's like this administration is caught in a feedback loop these days.

Posted by Tom at 11:31 a.m. CDTComment

LYONS:"BEATING TEXAS ONE MORE TIME" 09-24-03

Gene Lyons offers Wesley Clark a little advice this week:

Beating Texas One More Time

Pardon my provincialism, but part of Gen.Wesley Clark's hometown appeal is the opportunity his candidacy gives Arkansans to beat Texas again. The David & Goliath aspect of the Razorbacks vs. Longhorns sports rivalry provides a window into the Arkansas soul. I must have talked to half a dozen people at Clark's Little Rock announcement of his presidential hopes who compared it to the Hogs recent 38-28 victory in Austin.

"We do this every 12 years," somebody joked."It's an Arkansas tradition." Indeed it was on a similarly perfect autumn day in October 1991 that my wife and I encountered Bill and Hillary Clinton at a pre-game party outside War Memorial Stadium.Clinton was engaged in his faintly risible statewide tour asking voters to let him drop his promise to serve a full term as governor to seek the presidency.

It was one of the oddest days in recent Arkansas history. That morning, we'd learned that the venerable Arkansas Gazette had folded, replaced by the implacably Republican Democrat-Gazette. That afternoon, the last Arkansas-Texas football game in the old Southwest Conference was played. After the Razorbacks won, players, band members, cheerleaders and fans lingered on the field, celebrating and lamenting the end of an era.

At the pre-game party, Diane, a Pryor loyalist and no big Clinton fan, had given the Big Dog a hug and told him to go for it. Raised and educated in Arkansas, the prospect of a homegrown president meant a lot to her. I remember asking Hillary if they'd lost their minds. Didn't she realize, I asked, that their private lives would be laid open like a fish on a cutting board? We had a brief, animated exchange that taught me a lot about her fear and loathing of the press. I've often thought about it since that day.

Seeing both Clintons as life-sized figures, I failed to comprehend the magnitude of their ambition. Nobody who spends as much time alone with books and animals as I do possibly could. Nor could anybody have anticipated how gaining the White House would turn them into symbols: media-magnified projections of the hopes and fears of millions. Nor how far Washington political journalism--pushed by right-wing, Daddy Warbucks cash, and pulled by the lure of the kind of sublunary fame available to pundits in the cable TV era--would descend to the tabloid ethics of the cult of celebrity. (I've an essay on this theme in the October Harper's Magazine.)

Clark's campaign could well hinge upon how well he understands the Washington press. So far, he's played shrewdly upon his media image as a Democrat whose credentials in the post-9/11 era might have been dreamed up by Central Casting: first in his West Point class, Rhodes Scholar, decorated Vietnam Vet, four-star general, NATO Supreme Commander, handsome, articulate, self-confident, straight as an arrow, etc. If Clark wins the nomination, we won't be seeing any TV ads showing President Junior prancing across the USS Abraham Lincoln in his tailored flyboy costume.

Clark clearly understands that trashing that impeccable image would be Job #1 for the GOP. He told an Esquire interviewer"the ultimate consideration for anyone running for president against George Bush [is] 'how much pain you can bear.'" His enemies will try to portray him as a real-life equivalent of Gen. Jack D. Ripper, the loony megalomaniac from"Dr. Strangelove." Even before Clark announced, the Washington Post ran a profile featuring some extraordinarily venomous quotes--all anonymous--portraying him as temperamental, vain and manipulative.

"I have watched him at close range for 35 years, in which I have looked at the allegation, and I found it totally unsupported," responded Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey..."That's not to say he isn't ambitious and quick. He is probably among the top five most talented I've met in my life. I think he is a national treasure who has a lot to offer the country."

Evaluating this stuff, it's helpful to remember the sheer nastiness of Pentagon infighting. When it comes to office politics, soldiers are worse than professors.

The alternate GOP line of attack advanced by New York Times columnist William Safire--that Arkansan Clark is merely a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton's conspiratorial plotting--will get them nowhere. Besides conflicting with the mad ambition theme, Clark's too clearly nobody's puppet.

But where Clark can go badly wrong is by trusting the self-promoting stars and starlets of the Washington press. As a presidential candidate, he's dealing with a different breed than monthly magazine writers who've composed admiring profiles. No more open-ended conversations, or thinking out loud in the presence of reporters like the ones for the New York Times and Washington Post who turned his perfectly consistent--if imprecisely expressed--thoughts about Iraq into a widely-hyped"flip-flop" last week.

Sad to say, he needs to keep them at arms length and feed them nothing but soundbites.

I'm aware that Gene's columns periodically have a great deal of local flavor in them and therefore may not interest all of you quite as much as when he sticks to national politics and references. Gene's certainly decided to be a Clark booster -- and that's okay with me.

I'll be honest and say I haven't really made up my mind yet on who to support in 2004. I just know we've got to get Junior out of there.

However, as someone who grew up in Arkansas, whose mother and father both have UT PhDs and who went to college in Texas (but not at UT), I can't help but enjoy it every time Arkansas beat Texas and enjoy Gene's references. Interestingly enough, my mother now cheers for Arkansas when the two schools face each other in any sport.

On a personal note, I actually was in the stands in Austin for the Hogs' last victory on the Longhorns' home turf in 1988.

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

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF IDEAS? 09-24-03

Well, one approach is to lump together all of your lame, bizarre, loopy, and stalled bills (most of which will apparently do little for the economy) and call it a"jobs package."

Santorum said the package would include, “The energy bill, the highway bill, asbestos reform, class action reform, SBA [Small Business Administration] authorization, a whole laundry list of things.”
Sounds a bit desperate to me. How about you?

They say it will create 4 million jobs.

Right.

We've heard that before, haven't we?

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:26 a.m. CDTComment

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT SAYS 09-23-03

A moment will come on January 20th, 2005. It will be cold in Washington D.C. A man who is not George W. Bush will raise his hand and swear and oath to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America. The words “So help me God” will be snatched by the wind and carried across seas and mountains to the furthest corner of the planet. When that happens, all of the Earth will be joined together in the deepest and most profound exhalation of relief. When that happens, George W. Bush will have become in his absence what he completely failed to be with his presence: A uniter.
Indeed.

Heh.

[Link via Interesting Times]

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

BUSY DAY FOLKS 09-23-03

I'm snowed. Go read Josh. He's got some great stuff up.

More later.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CDTComment

I'M WITH KEVIN... 09-23-03

since Karl Rove has obviously been checking his phone logs for a phone call from Wesley Clark, it wouldn't be that hard for him to check if Bob Novak called in July, would it?

You know, the infamous phone call in which Rove may have committed an aggravated felony by outting a CIA agent?

Don't hold your breath.

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

WHY IS THE REPUBLICAN ATTACK MACHINE AFTER WESLEY CLARK? 09-22-03

Could it be because Clark's ALREADYahead in the polls in head-to-head matchups with W? That's amazing!

Of course, I should point out that both Kerry and Lieberman are also running about the same against Bush -- but newcomer Clark is running the strongest at the moment.

BTW, W's approval rating in the CNN-USA Today / Gallup Poll is now 50%. Will he be under the magic 50 in the next one?

Boy, W doesn't look quite so invincible anymore, does he?

Unfortunately, it's still a long way to the election folks -- plenty of time for W's special brand of McCarthyistic fear-mongering and demagoguery.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 6:56 p.m. CDTComment

IT SOUNDS LIKE... 09-22-03

the West Wing's only going to be around one more season to me. These changes sound like a recipe for a ratings disaster.

Oh well.

Posted by Tom at 1:54 p.m. CDTComment

I SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT BOB NOVAK... 09-22-03

and then he goes and does something like this.

I guess Bob's just a lying liar after all.

Atrios also wants Drudge and Novak to remember that the people in charge in this administration have their own rather major skeletons in the closet with regard to meeting with and helping scumbags like Saddam and Osama.

It's deja vu all over again, isn't it?

But surely the press won't just parrot the RNC talking points again, will they?

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

CHAPMAN: THE STORIES GET STRANGER BY THE DAY 09-22-03

Conservative columnist Steve Chapman's b.s. detector is going off every time W or Condi open their mouths and say something about Iraq these days.

I'll post just a bit of the article to pique your interest:

The president never tires of claiming, as he did last week, that"Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties." But"ties" is a mush word that suggests much and proves nothing. I have"ties" to Sammy Sosa because we work for businesses that are owned by the same corporation, Tribune Co. But that doesn't mean he leaves tickets for me at the Will Call window. The administration has yet to show that the flimsy connections it alleges presented a threat to Americans.
Chapman has been devastatingly critical of the administration's Iraq fixation for nearly a year now. Chapman's anti-war columns certainly demonstrate that even conservatives don't have to be lapdogs for the administration. Both Chapman and Bob Novak both have spoken out against the war for quite some time now.

Posted by Tom at 11:18 a.m. CDTComment

WHAT SHOULD TEXAS DEMOCRATS DO NEXT? 09-21-03

I bring this blogburst by Texas Democrats to your attention. You should go read these informative posts about what it is that Texas Democrats should do next.

I'm sure that many Texas Republicans are very embarrassed by the actions of their party over the last few months in redistricting the state. I can't help but think this is going to boomerang on Texas Republicans.

Wouldn't it be sweet revenge to have both W defeated nationally in 2004 and his Republican allies turned out in Texas?

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

WITH THE EVENTS OF THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS... 09-21-03

how in the world is W's approval standing at 51%?

Are the pollsters just calling Republicans these days?

Just from personal experience, I haven't met someone who actually approves of W's handling of anything in quite a while -- and I live in a state that voted for W!

Posted by Tom at 4:44 p.m. CDTComment

JAMES MCPHERSON LETS... 09-21-03

W have it for his"historical revisionism" comment.

He also lays the wood to Condi Rice.

(For those of you who don't know, James McPherson is the President of the American Historical Association.)

Posted by Tom at 8:25 a.m. CDTComment

THEY'RE STARTING TO GET IT 09-20-03

From the Star-Tribune:

Cheney also said that success in Iraq would strike a blow at the"geographic base" of the terrorists behind Sept. 11, a statement that left people asking,"Huh?" He was clearly trying to have it both ways: avoid an explicit statement that could be proven wrong while still spinning the question with all he had -- which was very little.

Defenders of the administration want to label those who have doubts about the truthfulness of the White House as"liberals" or"anti-American" or"unpatriotic." Those labels are just so much name-calling. There's nothing liberal or conservative, unpatriotic or anti-American about being upset that those who hold the highest offices in the land somehow find it impossible to level with the American people on such serious matters as national security and foreign policy.

If lies about private, consensual, albeit adulterous, sex can bring the impeachment of a president, it's not remotely wrong to raise questions about misstatements on issues that go to the very survival of this nation.

Indeed.

Taken in conjunction with this eye-opening column in Newsweek, it appears now even the administration's lapdogs in the media are starting to get it.

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

THE IRAQ DEBACLE WILL BE COMPLETE... 09-20-03

when W tries to jawbone the U.N. once again on Tuesday. He's going to try and convince the U.N. that they should be providing money and soldiers to bail us out of this mess of our own making.

If W says what his handlers insist he's going to say this speech is going to be an utter disaster on the international relations front just as his address a couple of weeks on the domestic front. All of a sudden, W and the boys just can't do anything right, can they?

Do folks in the U.N. frequently throw tomatoes during speeches?

And speaking of the walking, talking disaster we call Mr. President, you really should read this devastating piece in the Village Voice about how W's education and fiscal policies are leaving every child and every state in America far behind. Here's just a bit to whet your appetite:

War has a way of taking the air out of national discussion, but we should try to remember that the president's catchiest slogan both during his campaign and since is"No Child Left Behind." It's a terrific sentiment—a noble end that has now been turned into a banality. He said it was his brightest accomplishment as governor of Texas. He said the Houston schools were the model. We wanted to believe him. We all know education is crucial to a healthy community and we all say we really care about it. So we were the pigeons in the front rows.

Over the past year or so, getting headlines in Texas but only modest coverage elsewhere, the"Texas Miracle" has been disrobed. It was a scam, a hoax. The governor had put the fear of Bush into the school bureaucracy. You will perform, the principals and superintendents were told. You will dramatically bring down the dropout rate and dramatically raise the reading and math scores. Bonuses were promised to those who succeeded, demotions and pay-docking to those who didn't.

Suddenly, as if in the Land of Oz, kids in low-income districts who had been dropping out of high school at rates of 30 and 40 percent and higher were apparently born again, burying their faces in their books into the wee hours. And then the truth came out. They were still dropping out at the same old percentages; they just weren't being counted as dropouts. They weren't even being listed as"whereabouts unknown"—as if they might have moved to another district and forgotten to leave a forwarding address. They had simply disappeared. They were los desaparecidos. Maybe General Pinochet had them kidnapped for interrogation and torture.

...

Congress, which should have done its homework on Houston before it swallowed the president's hooey, has begun complaining about his underfunding of the program. Rod Paige, Bush's education secretary, says the funding is just fine. No surprise there—he was the superintendent of the"miracle" Houston school district before Bush tapped him for the cabinet. Interestingly, the Texas educational authorities are now beginning to impose penalties on those in the Houston system who falsely reported no dropouts. Do you suppose the president will dock Paige's pay?

Like everything else with this administration, it's all a game of keeping up appearances -- and it's all collapsing in on them bit by bit.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it -- but the problem is we're all going to pay a price for the horrific mess W has made out of everything he's touched.

I just wish that only the morons that voted for this guy (a minority of the voters in this nation I'll remind you) would have to pay the price but, unfortunately, you and I know it's not going to work out that way, don't we?

Posted by Tom at 5:37 p.m. CDTComment

EXHAUSTED 09-20-03

I'm exhausted from my three hours of soccer. My little Under 10 boys team played great today but we lost 2-1 to a team that played like a bunch of thugs, pushing and shoving my kids right and left. And their coach apparently cared not one whit about it.

It was quite annoying.

Oh well.

Now I'm off to watch the rest of the Northwest Bearcat football game at the stadium (six blocks from my house).

More later.

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

IS ASHCROFT LYING? 09-20-03

John Ashcroft claims the Justice Department has made"zero" requests of information from libraries about patrons. However, his own Assistant Attorney General now claims about fifty such requests since the Patriot Act became law.

Is Ashcroft lying?

Is his assistant?

[Link via Atrios]

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

TWO GOOD POSTS ON A BUSY MORNING 09-20-03

Go read this post by Atrios and this post by Billmon.

I'm headed out for three hours of soccer.

More later.

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

400K SERVED 09-19-03

Just a few minutes ago, I had my 400,000th visitor via a link from Atrios. I've also had more than 566,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter one year and one day ago (on September 18th of last year) as well. (I blogged for five weeks without a hitcounter.)

As always, I do appreciate it folks. I do hope you'll come back and visit us often.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 p.m. CDTComment

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION 09-19-03

It appears that today is the day for philosophical discussions on how and why the Bush administration lies to us about damned-near everything. They're really quite good at it. They've turned lying into an art form. Well, hell, there's got to be something they're good at! Because, come to think of it, they've failed at everything else, haven't they?

First, we have an article from the Guardian about Paul Krugman. In this article about his new book, Krugman argues that the administration lies because they reject the legitimacy of the political system and political culture of the United States itself and will do anything to essentially dismantle it in order to take us all back to the good old days of the Gilded Age when the rich were super rich and, well, no one else did very well at all.

Then we have this column by Andrew Greeley about how the administration's big lie on Iraq is collapsing in on itself. Greeley contends the American people no longer buy the premise that IraqWar Part II was part of the war on terror. In fact, Americans now believe something I argued for months before the war started as a major reason not to pursue it, that the war would make us all less safe, not more. As the bedlam in Iraq continues, it becomes remarkably clear that, as Greeley contends, the big lie that Iraq was part of the"war on terror" is falling apart:

''War on terror'' is a metaphor. It is not an actual war, like the World War or the Vietnamese or Korean wars. It is rather a struggle against fanatical Islamic terrorists, exacerbated if not caused by the conflict in Palestine. When one turns a metaphor into a national policy, one not only misunderstands what is going on, one begins to slide toward the big lie. One invades Iraq because one needed a war.
And we also have an excellent post this morning from Kevin about this subject as well. He captures the consternation of the administration's critics quite well so I'll quote him here:

The brazen lie and the"nondisprovable" lie are bad enough — but I guess they don't bother me as much as they should because I feel like all politicians do this. But the fact that you have to parse the Bush administration's words so ultra-finely in order to get to their meaning strikes me as something new. It's as if they listened to Bill Clinton talking about the meaning of the word"is" and suddenly got a brainstorm that this technique could be applied to everything.

And this is why the president's fans can pretend to be outraged when he's called on his lying."It's not a lie!" they scream, and they're right in a hyper-technical sense. But in every other sense, they're dead wrong. What else do you call a deliberate — but very carefully crafted — attempt to deceive?

I taught about the Philippine Insurrection this morning in my American Foreign Relations class. It's a rather interesting study in the turn-of-the-century version of the Big U.S. Foreign Policy Lie. American policymakers in 1898 and 1899 insisted we had been involved in the Spanish-American War because we wanted to free the Cubans and the Filipinos from their colonial masters. However, once the war was over, we began to view and administer Cuba and the Philippines as colonies. The hypocrisy of U.S. policymakers was astonishingly obvious to anyone who was paying attention.

The Filipinos, who had been lied to so many times by American policymakers before the war it's impossible to count them, eventually rebelled in 1899. A ruinous and awful guerilla war ensued that lasted for three years and cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Filipino lives. Most Americans at the time didn't know very much about it because the administration kept the information from them and justified it with the usual bromides about helping our inferior little brown brothers see the light.

But, ultimately, what makes that situation different from the current one is that most Americans probably bought McKinley's Big Lie and supported American imperialism in Cuba and the Philippines. You can't say the same thing today. Sure, most Americans support the"war on terror." However, once Americans begin to doubt that Iraq ever was really part of that war, support for this continued mess in Iraq and the administration's foreign policy will drop rapidly.

As I've suggested many times, it's at that point we'll really learn about the true moral nature of this administration. If they begin to change course and level with us, that would be a positive development. However, don't count on that ever happening. My guess is they'll cling more and more desperately to the Big Lie that Iraq was part of the war on terror and, as they did in their rather desperate-sounding campaign rhetoric last year, they'll accuse critics of being unpatriotic and not supporting the"war on terror."

Unfortunately for the administration, that charge will have less and less impact on those who aren't already predisposed to believe every last thing that the administration says. These folks will already know the charge is bogus and merely chalk it up to an administration that will say or do anything to stay in power.

In other words, even people who don't consider themselves critics of the administration will agree with those of us who are critics of the administration.

If that happens, W is done and no amount of fear-mongering or excuse-making can save him.

Posted by Tom at 8:10 p.m. CDTComment

I'M SO SORRY I MISSED... 09-19-03

"Threat Matrix."

Apparently this program, as Atrios puts it, is"Porn for Bushies."

Ugh.

Posted by Tom at 1:51 p.m. CDTComment

AH, W'S EVER-CHANGING STORIES... 09-19-03

about what happened on 9/11 are quite odd, aren't they? Why doesn't anyone ever ask the White House to straighten this stuff out for us all?

Do you think they'd have let Bill Clinton or, better yet, a President Al Gore get away with telling stories like this?

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

KARL ROVE'S WORST NIGHTMARE 09-19-03

Ruy over at Donkey Rising describes the developing 2004 election situation quite well:

It’s been remarked that Bush’s poll ratings in most respects seem to be returning to about what they were prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That’s true and in some cases they’re actually worse. The public is now 10 points less likely to think Bush is honest and trustworthy; 7 points less likely to think he is moderate, not extreme, 6 points less likely to think he is for working and middle class families and 5 points less likely to think he" cares about people like you". In addition, the public is 12 points more likely to think he has a go-it-alone policy that hurts our relations with our allies.

Similarly, when comparing the ratings on which parties are trusted to do a better job on the issues, Democrats now have the same leads or better that they had prior to 9/11 and Republicans are not doing much better today than they did then. Democrats are favored by 35 points on the environment today (33 points before 9/11), by 26 points on Medicare (26 points previously), by 24 points on health care (21 previously), by 20 points on retirement and social security (16 previously), by 20 points on prescription drugs (22 previously), by 20 points on the federal budget and deficits (just 3 previously), by 12 points on the economy (3 previously) and by 11 points on education (7 previously). For the Republicans, they are favored by 6 points today on taxes (but were favored by 12 points before 9/11) and by 22 points on keeping America strong (but they were running a 16 point lead even before 9/11).

The conclusion is inescapable. Much of the Bush’s political capital from 9/11 has been dissipated. More than anyone would have thought a year ago, the 2004 election seems likely to be fought on the actual merits and demerits of the entire Bush presidency, not just the two months after 9/11. And, in DR’s opinion, that’s pretty bad –- extremely bad –- news for Bush.

I'm beginning to read many folks out here in the blogosphere who are saying W is going to get creamed next year.

Hold on folks. If the average American used their common sense and/or just voted his or her pocket book and/or wouldn't allow themselves to be frightened into voting a certain way, I'd agree. However, W and the boys use fear very effectively -- and they haven't really even warmed up the 2004 election year model of the"Scare-O-Matic" yet.

I do think Republicans are in trouble and this administration looks more amateurish on every front with each passing minute. Interestingly enough, I'd argue that it isn't that W and the boys have gotten any worse at their jobs over the last few months or anything.

It's just that the media is finally paying attention to just how bad they are at their jobs.

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

THE WORST DAY IN IRAQ? 09-18-03

According to published reports (linked to by Atrios here), it appears that at least eight soldiers have died in three separate incidents today -- and perhaps many more. I'm only updating the awful numbers at the right when it becomes official -- in other words when the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website updates.

I'm beginning to get a little suspicious about the fact the military won't officially confirm the casualties from the ambush this morning. There are several media reports now that we've lost eight soldiers in the ambush.

Regardless, six deaths from combat (which seems likely the minimum we'll suffer in the three incidents today judging from several media accounts) would easily make it the worst day in Iraq so far.

I remind you all once again that we didn't have to do this.

I really feel horrible for the guys we've put in that horrible situation over there.

I know a few of them -- and I worry a great deal about them.

Posted by Tom at 6:55 p.m. CDTComment

SIX DEGREES OF OSAMA 09-18-03

As a companion post to my post yesterday on the administration's Saddam-al Qaeda two step, read this post over at the Mahablog. I especially like this passage:

What the neocons are trying to do is akin to a"six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game. Much of the world is swarming with Muslim terrorist groups, and sometimes these groups work together, and sometimes they don't, and some individuals move between groups, and if you look hard enough you can always find this guy who knew this other guy who was in an al Qaeda cell, and the first guy met with somebody who knew Saddam Hussein ten years ago, according to another guy.

Hell, using this same technique, we could prove that George W. Bush was in league with al Qaeda. There are fewer degrees of separation between him and Osama than most other people on the planet.

You really should read the rest of the post.

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

IT'S ALL FRANCE'S FAULT 09-18-03

Boy, Tom Friedman's column is a real beaut today. I was pondering writing a post responding to its ridiculous argument but, fortunately, Terry already did.

Go read his post so that I don't have to waste time writing mine.

Thanks Terry for saving me the effort. You've done a very good deed for the blogosphere today.

It really is about time for Friedman to find something else to do, don't you think?

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

MAJOR ATTACK ON U.S. CONVOY WEST OF BAGHDAD 09-18-03

Hesiod points us to this report of a major attack on a convoy west of Baghdad. According to some accounts as many as eight U.S. soldiers may have been killed.

Damn.

Update:Here's another report, saying 8-10 soldiers have been killed.

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

PARSING W 09-17-03

Anyone else think that the administration's Saddam-9/11 two-step is becoming very irritating -- and highly disingenuous?

W and the boys apparently think we're stupid enough to forget that they said Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda at every possible opportunity. The president even repeated this assertion today. (If you want a nice collection of the twenty or so times W and his minions claimed this before the war -- without a shred of evidence -- go here.)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, let's review for a moment. Who do we all believe was behind the 9/11 attacks?

Why, al-Qaeda of course!

So, therefore, W and the boys are really stretching credulity to the breaking point, aren't they? It takes a lot of moxie to now claim at this late date that the assertion that Saddam had"ties with al-Qaeda" was"technically accurate" but that it wasn't the same thing as claiming he was part of the 9/11 plot.

Again, I come back to the same question once again: Do they really just think we're all that stupid?

Posted by Tom at 9:11 p.m. CDTComment

A TIZZY BY ANY OTHER NAME 09-17-03

I'm with Kevin on what Hillary co-chairing Clark's campaign would do:

I don't know if this is really true or if it's just some breathless conspiracy mongering from the Times, but this would sure accomplish a couple of things fast. First, although Bill Clinton can't endorse a primary candidate himself, this would certainly send a crystal clear message that he does, in fact, endorse Clark. That would be an enormous boost. Second, it would provide instant fundraising muscle that no one else could match.

But really, none of that matters. What really matters is that it would send the radical right into uncontrollable wild-eyed sputtering fountains of rage and indignation, and that would be fun to watch. For that reason, I hope the report is true.

That would be hilarious to see, wouldn't it?

Posted by Tom at 3:48 p.m. CDTComment

THE DNC IS... 09-17-03

Kicking Ass.

This blog has just been added to the blogroll -- along with the Clarksphere.

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

THE LYING CONTINUES 09-17-03

My goodness, Atrios points us to this blistering editorial about the numerous lies told by Cheney on ONE program on Sunday morning. I think it's safe to say that the press is getting tired of being lied to by these guys too.

I mean, heck, when Cheney comes out of his hidey-hole (or as Gene puts it in his column this morning, his"lair"), you know it's getting bad. And Cheney is usually the one who tells the largest number of fibs-per-minute in a television appearance. In many ways, W is actually a great deal more measured and careful with his words than Cheney is. Cheney will damn-near say anything, no matter how preposterous.

And speaking of preposterous, how many of you saw Condi Rice's performance on Nightline last night? That was outrageous, wasn't it? She tried to walk back half of the things they said before the war. Fortunately, Ted Koppel wasn't buying it. However, that was about as brazen an attempt to lie about your past lies that I've ever seen by an administration official.

I mean, heck, to name just a few things, she told us (as Rummy did yesterday) that the administration didn't imply that Saddam was behind 9/11, that things are going great in Iraq, and that this foreign policy was reducing terrorism.

Condi's appearance last night was such an astonishing display of up-is-downism that I kept expecting to see Ted and Condi comfortably sitting on the ceiling when they returned from one of the commercial breaks. Condi said such outrageously false things that I thought it wasn't a stretch to think that she had to be from another universe which might not have gravity or something.

This, folks, is exactly what it looks like when the wheels come off.

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

LYONS:"BUSH II: TRAGEDY OR FARCE?" 09-17-03

Here's Gene's excellent column for the week!

Gene Lyons
September 17, 2003

Bush II: Tragedy or farce? L. Jean Lewis Revisited

History repeats itself, Karl Marx famously observed, first as tragedy, then as farce. Like most Marxist dogma, it won't stand much skeptical scrutiny. Take the Bush administration, for example, tragedy or farce?

Judging by the president's wary expression during his recent speech calling for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq--enough to fund Medicare for two years, or pay the salaries of 1,740,000 teachers, cops or firefighters at $50,000 per annum--Bush himself clearly has no clue. Except that submitting the bill wasn't as cool as swaggering across an aircraft carrier flight deck to pronounce"mission accomplished" in a tailored aviator costume.

Polls show that with budget deficits approaching a record $500 billion, Americans are reeling from sticker shock. Indeed, Bush did such a bad job that Vice-president Dick Cheney emerged from his lair to make what a Los Angeles Times editorial called"sweeping, unproven claims about Saddam Hussein's connections to terrorism" on"Meet the Press." In another sign opinion is turning, the Washington Post gave front page space to an article demonstrating that much of what Cheney said was either factually false or sheer speculation.

But what really appeared to irk Cheney were suggestions that multibillion dollar, no-bid contracts in Iraq awarded by the Pentagon to his old company, Halliburton, may have had something to do with political influence. After cashing in $30 million worth of Halliburton stock options upon assuming the vice-presidency, Cheney says he has taken no further interest in the corporation's fortunes. He described as"political cheap shots," any suggestions to the contrary."Nobody has produced one single shred of evidence that there's anything wrong or inappropriate here," he said.

What's more, and this is where the story diverges into sheer slapstick, there's not much chance that Pentagon investigators ever will. Newsweek reports that none other than L. Jean Lewis, the preposterous GOP heroine of congressional Whitewater hearings, has been named chief-of-staff of the Defense Department's inspector general--an agency with 1240 employees and $160 million budget whose task is auditing Pentagon contracts for waste and fraud. It's a $118,000 a year job for a woman who once peddled"Presidential BITCH" t-shirts and coffee mugs mocking Hillary Clinton out of her government office at the now-defunct Resolution Trust Corporation.

Apparently Lucy Ricardo was unavailable for the job. When last seen publicly, Lewis was being half-carried out of a 1995 Senate hearing after fainting when Demo-crats began to question her about a letter by Little Rock's Republican U.S. Attorney Charles Banks refusing to initiate a September 1992 investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater dealings for which she'd presented no credible evidence."[T]he insistence for urgency in this case," Banks had written"appears to suggest an intentional or unintentional attempt to intervene into the political process of the upcoming presidential election."

Having prosecuted Jim McDougal's handling of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, Banks knew perfectly well what Kenneth Starr eventually spent six years and $70 million dollars proving: the Clintons were, if anything, the pigeons in McDougal's flim-flams. He added prophetically that media coverage of the kind investigation L. Jean Lewis was frantically pushing tended to"'legitimize what can't be proven,'" adding that"I cannot be a party to such actions."

Both Banks' letter and Lewis's nationally-televised comic opera swoon, it will be recalled, went unreported in the New York Times and Washington Post, the two newspapers most deeply committed to the bogus scandal she helped them conjure out of thin air. It says a lot about today's Republicans that Banks' principled action in the face of the first Bush White House's covert efforts to convene an"October Surprise" probe of the Democratic nominee probably doomed his chances for a federal judgeship.

Documents showed that Lewis and like-minded RTC colleagues spent thousands of man-hours probing Madison Guaranty, ignoring Arkansas S & L collapses ten and twenty times larger in their futile quest. But if getting Whitewater upside-down disqualified a person from employment, half of official Washington and most of the city's name- brand journalists would be out of work.

Of much greater concern was Lewis's bizarre testimony. Under oath, she swore the"Presidential BITCH" T-shirts signified no political bias, and that she personally didn't mind being called a bitch. Before both House and Senate comittees she denied pressuring Justice Department officials to act before the 1992 election. But FBI agents and prosecutors testified that she'd hounded them repeatedly and made melodramatic statements about"altering history." Contemporaneous documents proved it.

Lewis also secretly recorded conversations with colleagues, misrepresented their contents, then swore that a defective tape- recorder had magically turned itself on. Senate investigators proved she'd actually used a brand new machine, and turned the matter over to Kenneth Starr for investigation. But you know what happened to that.

So rest easy, taxpayers, L. Jean Lewis is on the job.

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

NARCISSISM 09-17-03

Terry's en fuego right now! Terry demonstrates that Saddam isn't the only one who has a problem with narcissism:

State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled.

There was an original political cartoon from the Jefferson era showing Britain and France pick-pocketing the Americans; there were pictures of negotiations with Indian tribes over land; President Woodrow Wilson at Versailles; former secretary of state Elihu Root somewhere; Roosevelt and Churchill signing the Atlantic Charter; former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in cowboy boots at Jackson Hole; a splendid shot of the old State Department building; and a photo of President Ronald Reagan at a meeting with a very young Colin L. Powell seated behind him.

Then they were gone. And what was put up in their place? What else? A George W. Bush family album montage of 21 large photos of the president as diplomat. He's speaking at the United Nations and meeting with foreign leaders. There are several shots of Bush with first lady Laura Bush -- exiting a plane, touring the Forum in Rome and visiting Japan. (There's one of just Laura Bush and Jordan's Queen Noor at a U.N. conference.) There's one of Bush meeting in happier days with his very good friend Jacques Chirac, president of France, and another with his even better friend, Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of Germany. There's a fine shot of him yucking it up in Beijing with former Chicom boss Jiang Zemin, aka the Robin Williams of the Middle Kingdom.

Posted by Tom at 8:48 a.m. CDTComment

THE GORING OF WESLEY CLARK 09-16-03

Boy, was Terry right or what?

George Will's completely discredited lie about there being"no Canadian Middle Eastern think tank" is now being repeated in order to discredit Wesley Clark.

How do people like this sleep at night?

People like Barone and the other"kool kids" in the media are poisoning the well of American political discourse by repeating such false tales to pre-emptively discredit a candidate they know is a threat to their boy.

Posted by Tom at 9:41 p.m. CDTComment

I'M GOING TO ASK THIS AGAIN 09-16-03

What are they hiding?

I mean, heck, it was okay for Ken Starr to turn the presidential residence upside down and examine every dust bunny under Chelsea's bed and to rifle through Hillary's underwear drawer a few years back. However, if we want to find out what sort of contacts Dick Cheney had with the energy industry, that's somehow off limits.

I can't help but wonder just who Cheney met with and why he's so secretive about it.

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

RUMSFELD ADMITS THE PRESIDENT IS LYING ABOUT SADDAM-AL QAEDA LINK 09-16-03

I don't think Rummy got the memo! Holy moly! Rumsfeld just admitted it!

Q: There have been a number of public opinion polls that show a fairly sizable percentage of the public believes that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks. Do you believe that?

Rumsfeld: I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that. We know he was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities. But on that specific one, no.

So, every time W repeats that claim he's lying. I would also assume that means he has been the entire time, right?

Rumsfeld also just admitted that stories like this are true. Rumsfeld and others wanted to hit Saddam within hours of the 9/11 attacks -- even though he had no connection to them:

With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted"best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." – meaning Saddam Hussein –"at same time. Not only UBL" – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld.

"Go massive," the notes quote him as saying."Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

I assume this will be a major scandal, right?

The media will trumpet this from the rooftops, right?

Right.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CDTComment

IT'S OFFICIAL 09-16-03

Life in Iraq is now a damn-sight worse for the average Iraqi than it was under Saddam.

The city has slid into the bedlam of lawlessness.

How else do you describe 872 murders last month?

No, not last year, last month.

The daily rate per day in Baghdad is now equal to New York's average monthly total.

Now, why is it that the Iraqis aren't pleased with us?

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

THE FIRST SUB 50% APPROVAL RATING FOR W IS IN! 09-16-03

And, as Donkey Rising (just added to the blogroll) points out, it's a Republican poll.

Oh my.

Avalanche soon to follow. Americans are rapidly losing faith in W's leadership.

It took them long enough, didn't it?

[Link via Atrios]

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

W LIES SHAMELESSLY ABOUT HIS EDUCATION PROGRAMS
09-15-03

Amazing. W now just lies from start to finish about things -- this time, as Kevin tells us, W tells several enormous whoppers about his education policies in a prepared speech. In this David Corn column that Kevin links to, Corn demonstrates that W was being quite misleading indeed:

September is back-to-school time, and Bush hit the road to promote his education policies. During a speech at a Nashville elementary school, he hailed his education record by noting that"the budget for next year boosts funding for elementary and secondary education to $53.1 billion. That's a 26-percent increase since I took office. In other words, we understand that resources need to flow to help solve the problems." A few things were untrue in these remarks. Bush's proposed elementary and secondary education budget for next year is $34.9 billion, not $53.1 billion, according to his own Department of Education. It's his total proposed education budget that is $53.1 billion. More importantly, there is no next-year"boost" in this budget. Elementary and secondary education received $35.8 billion in 2003. Bush's 2004 budget cuts that back nearly a billion dollars, and the overall education spending in his budget is the same as the 2003 level.
I'm not sure that calling this shameless quite covers it. As Tucker Carlson says in thisSalon interview (in which he comes off as oddly reasonable), Team Bush is very comfortable with telling baldfaced lies -- and has been since the campaign in 2000:

Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane.

I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness.

They get carried away, consultants do, in the heat of the campaign, they're really invested in this. A lot of times they really like the candidate. That's all conventional. But on some level, you think, there's a hint of recognition that there is reality -- even if they don't recognize reality exists -- there is an objective truth. With Karen you didn't get that sense at all. A lot of people like her. A lot of people I know like her. I'm not one of them.

At this point, the entire Bush team has once again crossed this line from, as Carlson puts it,"bravado into mental illness." I'm simply not sure W, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, et. al, know the difference between their own carefully constructed alternative spin universe and reality.

In this administration's bizarre up-is-down universe the deficit is manageable, the Iraq War is going well, the economy is recovering, unemployment is okay, the environment is great, Saddam is connected to al-Qaeda, and Halliburton and its subsidiaries are getting all of those no-bid contracts because they're the best companies for the job.

I suspect this"alternative universe" syndrome is going to get worse before it gets better.

Now, if W starts fondling a pair of ball bearings, then we'll need to get worried -- for our own sake.

Otherwise, I say let him sink.

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

NO RECALL VOTE... 09-15-03

for now. I wonder how far behind Arnie will be in a few more months?

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

NO WMD PROGRAMS EITHER APPARENTLY 09-15-03

My goodness! Apparently David Kay can't even find anything he can gin up to provide cover for the administration with regard to WMDs in Iraq.

Even though W and the boys have been furiously trying to move the goal posts for months now, it may all have been to no avail. It's now appearing likely that we may never see the much-vaunted Kay report on WMDs in Iraq.

I'll take this opportunity to remind you that the threat from Saddam's WMDs were the reason given for why we went to war and killed thousands of innocent civilians (around 10,000 apparently).

However, this development really doesn't surprise me that much.

How about you?

Update: Kevin's got a good post up about this as well.

Posted by Tom at 10:25 a.m. CDTComment

TALES OF LIBERALISM'S DEMISE WERE A BIT PREMATURE 09-15-03

Boy, I think it's safe to say liberalism is back, huh?

In a sales surge that surprised politicians and booksellers alike, five liberal books will be among The New York Times's top 15 hard-cover nonfiction bestsellers on today's list, mounting what some sales specialists see as a left-wing assault on the conservatives' decade-long hold on popular culture.

Until now, book publishing -- like talk radio and opinion magazines -- was dominated by right-wing political titles, including polemics by the leading radio and television pundits. The airwaves, bestseller lists, and the opinion press were widely viewed as links in a network that helped prompt investigations of President Clinton and assisted the elections of a Republican House, Senate, and presidency.

The extent of the conservative dominance of popular culture so alarmed Democrats that former vice president Al Gore, among others, proposed earlier this year creating a new television network to promote liberal causes.

This week,"Treason" by the popular conservative agitator Ann Coulter clocks in at number five, but no other right-leaning political book appears anywhere in the top 30. The top position belongs to Al Franken's"Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)," a satirical body blow to the conservative punditry. A more cerebral attack on the same conservatives, Joe Conason's"Big Lies" registers at number eight.

And to think that apparently most of these conservative"best-sellers" are only on the list because Mellon-Scaife buys thousands of them! I wonder where Mellon-Scaife's warehouse with hundreds of thousands of these books is? It's probably near Pittsburgh somewhere.

Isn't it interesting when a supposed cultural phenomenon gets exposed as a fraud?

Posted by Tom at 8:27 a.m. CDTComment

THE WRATH OF GOD? 09-14-03

Anyone else notice how Hurricane Isabel is drawing a bead on Washington?

The Wrath of God perhaps?

I mean, of course, you have to believe in all that stuff but I can't help but make the comment nonetheless.

Now, for the millionth time, I hope that Isabel doesn't hit any part of the East Coast but it's increasingly looking like at this point that it's headed straight for the Chesapeake Bay.

This certainly bears watching, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:06 p.m. CDTComment

REPUBLICAN LIES COME FULL CIRCLE 09-14-03

Atrios points out that the administration has appointed one of the Bush I administration's Whitewater Lying Liars to a $118,000 per year job in the Pentagon. Lewis, who (as Orcinus explains here) has a well-documented history of telling astonishing lies about Democrats while covering up for Republicans has been put in charge of...wait for it boys and girls...auditing contracts in Iraq.

My goodness, they're repaying this loyal lying footsoldier with a job in which she'll cover up for Republicans yet again. She threw a fit a decade ago about Clinton's deal in which he actually lost tens of thousands of dollars. However, I'm sure this lying shill will see nothing wrong with looking the other way as Halliburton and others rob the federal treasury of tens of billions of dollars in the name of"reconstructing" Iraq.

Atrios provides us with one of the"highlights" of Lewis's earlier life as an RTC employee in the first Bush administration in which she lied to Ken Starr and even Senator Pothole:

Lewis filed her criminal referral just two months before the 1992 presidential election. The timing was so embarrassingly obvious that it pissed off the Little Rock F.B.I. office and the U.S. attorney. They told their bosses in D.C. that it looked like Lewis was playing politics, and that in their opinion there was"absolutely no factual basis to suggest criminal activity on the part of any of the individuals listed as witnesses," including the Clintons. But later Lewis tried again, this time charging that deposits in McDougal’s S&L had been illegally diverted to Clinton’s campaign fund. When, once again, her charges fell into a void, friendly reporters, who had been getting loads of leaks from her, began to imply that she was the victim of a bureaucratic cover-up. The cry of Cover-Up, once sounded, reverberates for a long time, and it made Lewis something of a heroine to the right wing. She was duly called to testify at the Senate’s Whitewater hearings, run by Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato (also known as"Senator Shakedown," because of his own ways of raising money). But the Democrats were ready for Lewis. As they began reading the Justice Department’s low opinion of her grasp of the law, she began to tremble, and then fainted dead away. While thousands watching C-SPAN saw her swoon, the Times and Post reporters were apparently looking elsewhere, because neither paper reported it, nor mentioned the Justice Department’s stern judgment.
If you ever wanted clear evidence that this is a dishonest and fundamentally immoral administration, stories like this, in which loyal lying Republican shills from the Whitewater pseudo-scandal are rewarded with six-figure jobs that are to involve the purported"oversight" of public contracts for the president's crony capitalist buddies, certainly provide all the evidence you need.

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

51% OF AMERICANS OPPOSE W'S $87B FOR IRAQ 09-13-03

Holy moly. Most Americans now clearly believe this war is costing way too damn much -- and feel the administration has misled them about all of this. If you'll recall, war critics like me warned everyone about how this war was really going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars months before this war even started.

Now why do think W and the boys have been so coy in telling us what this war will really cost over the last few months?

And if you think it's really going to just cost $221B (it's actually $79B (appropriated in March) + $87B (asked for by W on Sunday) + $55B (the administration admitted it will need $55B more on Tuesday which, curiously enough, most of the mainstream press hasn't even reported yet)), I've got some beachfront property in southeastern Nebraska I'd love to show you.

I think middle 40s in approval ratings are just around the corner folks.

Like father, like son.

[Link via Atrios]

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

EEEWWW 09-13-03

John Lott linked to me. I'm going to have to go take a shower.

Tim Lambert explains why Lott is now lying about his lies (the creation date recorded by his computer was September 2 -- so he's lying yet again). As Lambert demonstrates, this is just another distraction so he can avoid answering all of the other major questions that exist about his work.

I think it's fairly safe to say Lott doesn't have many fans left. He linked to me yesterday and he's sent me a whopping 8 visitors so far.

Heck, I'll bet seven of the visits are from Mary Rosh.

Posted by Tom at 4:24 p.m. CDTComment

DAMN 09-13-03

Posted by Tom at 3:50 p.m. CDTComment

WHAT'S A GOOD REPUBLICAN TO DO? 09-12-03

This must've been really hard for him, right?

You've got to choose between doing your duty and serving your country or breaking numerous military regulations in flying back to Missouri from Gitmo so, once there, you can vote to override the governor's veto of a bill that makes it legal for folks in Missouri to carry concealed weapons with them everywhere.

Well, you and I now know the answer to that question, don't we?

This guy's hide should be nailed to the wall for this one -- and that of his commanding officer as well.

Do you think it'll happen?

Nah.

Of course not.

[Thanks to David de la Fuente in the comments to this post for the link]

Posted by Tom at 9:51 p.m. CDTComment

WOULDN'T IT BE FUNNY... 09-12-03

if Davis beat the recall?

It's looking more likely all the time.

And, any way this goes, the Republicans lose. This recall is idiotic.

If Davis isn't recalled, they look like morons who wasted the state's money. If Davis is recalled and Bustamante wins, they look like morons who did all this and it backfired on them politically.

If Davis is recalled and Arnold wins, Arnie then has to come up with cuts and a plan for the budget -- and early indications on that score are not good. Arnold's already looking like just another evasive politician with his painfully vague platitudes about the budget problems. If the economy doesn't improve and he can't solve the budget problem, he'll take the Republicans down with him.

I've always been amazed Republicans pursued this recall.

It's a loser for them no matter what happens.

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

KRUGMAN:"EXPLOITING THE ATROCITY" 09-12-03

Paul Krugman's column today is excellent. He says something similar to what I've been saying here. Get ready for the true nastiness to start. As these guys begin to feel they're going to lose, it's going to get awful:

The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history. Four months ago it seemed that the 2004 campaign would be all slow-mo films of Mr. Bush in his flight suit. But at this point, it's likely to be pictures of Howard Dean or Wesley Clark that morph into Saddam Hussein. And Donald Rumsfeld has already rolled out the stab-in-the-back argument: if you criticize the administration, you're lending aid and comfort to the enemy.
And if we get a"Dubya-dip" recession, I don't even want to think what these guys will do to try and hang on.

If that happens, war with Iran and a resulting $1 trillion deficit may be in our immediate future.

The other day, one of my students told me he thought W was cooked, done, finito. I told him"You underestimate how well these guys cynically use fear. I wouldn't be crowing just yet."

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

WHO CARES WHAT THE PEOPLE THINK? 09-12-03

I'm sad to say Missouri has now joined thirty-five other states now and passed a right-to-carry law. The legislature overrode the Governor's veto of this bill yesterday. Defeated in a statewide referendum four years ago, the NRA and gun rights groups, armed no doubt with cooked studies by charlatans like John Lott, finally twisted enough arms in the legislature to get their bill.

I'm actually just surprised it took so long to be honest. Missouri's legislature, comically misproportioned to make rural Missouri much more powerful than it should be in both houses of the legislature, has been in favor of such legislation for about a decade. Only vetoes by Governor Carnahan and Governor Holden had stopped this thing from becoming law.

It is interesting to ponder how blithely legislators were able to brush off their defeat of four years ago and pretend that all of the people of Missouri want this law. As I've said before, Missouri is marked by a profound rural-urban split. Rural folks, who seldom see gun violence and are therefore not really afraid of it being a problem for them, want this law. Urban folks, who are threatened and worry about gun violence every day, don't. Unsurprisingly, my mindless Republican automaton legislator, of course, voted to override the veto and voted for it the first time around. This despite the fact that my county (the largest county in population in his district) and my town (his hometown) voted against the referendum legislation four years ago.

But hey, who really gives a damn about what the people want? They were irrelevant to the equation. The NRA and gun"enthusiasts" wanted this bill and, finally, millions of dollars in campaign contributions later, they got it.

That, I'm afraid, is the real story here.

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

GITMO DETAINEES TO BE DETAINED INDEFINITELY 09-12-03

Rumsfeld admitted yesterday that he doesn't give a damn if we ever file charges against the more than 600 detainees at Gitmo:

"Our interest is in not trying them and letting them out," he said."Our interest is in — during this global war on terror — keeping them off the streets, and so that's what's taking place."
I think Morat sums this up quite well:

Let's see: We want to hold them for the length of the War on Terror, the timespan of which ranges from 'A really long time' to 'forever', but we don't really plan to actually try or charge most of them.

Not even under the rather....loose...standards of a military tribunal. Which, I might add, are so loose that most legal associations feel that participating in them is a violation of legal ethics. Not that it matters, as the US's opinion is that even if the kangaroo court/Military tribunal acquits them, we still don't have to release them.

Isn't that great? Because America is all about indefinite detention of suspects, even if the case against them is so weak that a kangaroo court won't convict them.

I mean, heck folks, doesn't it seem like a part of basic human rights that we at least charge these folks with something eventually?

Isn't this a violation of the U.N. charter?

Wonderful, W and the boys have just made sure we've just become what we supposedly despise -- a state that holds people indefinitely without charges.

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

GOP TALKING POINTS APPARENTLY PREPARED BY AN OFFICIAL IN THE WHITE HOUSE ON GOVERNMENT TIME 09-11-03

Holy cow. I didn't even see this comment when it was first posted but Sean-Paul did.

Judging from the time and date stamp on the PDF document, these seemingly innocuous GOP talking points on Iraq I linked to yesterday were apparently prepared by a White House official, Brian Besanceney, Deputy Communications Director, on government time.

Therefore, you and I as taxpayers paid Besanceney to prepare these political talking points for the Republican Party boys and girls.

At the very least, that's a violation of White House ethics rules, isn't it?

Update: Apparently this document is a White House"fact sheet" not GOP talking points. In which case it would be perfectly okay for a Deputy Communications Director to work on this document. I honestly can't tell myself. Is this an official White House document -- or not?

If I've maligned Mr. Besanceney unjustly, I do apologize.

BTW, isn't it pretty scandalous that the press is more or less publishing White House"fact sheets" verbatim?

Man, this certainly demonstrates that the press these days is more or less behaving as"scribes" for the White House, doesn't it?

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

KEVIN SAYS 09-11-03

Basically, Lott wants to pretend that Model 2 is the one he's always used. That way, when he corrects the data errors, his results still hold up. Unfortunately for Lott, his attempts to rewrite history were as clumsy as they were dishonest. His original table did use Model 1, his results do go away when the corrected data is plugged in, and he did respond to this by furtively devising a new model that would continue to give him the results he wanted.

...

And a note to Glenn Reynolds, who has said he is"not sufficiently knowledgeable to opine on the statistical questions": my timeline deliberately avoids discussing the validity of the competing econometric models, which I'm not competent to judge either. Rather, it simply shows how Lott works, something that anyone is competent to judge. He's a liar and a cheat, and merely being"quite reluctant" to rely on him is far too weak a response.

The evidence is clear. John Lott should be fired from the American Enterprise Institute forthwith and banned from polite society.

I agree.

Posted by Tom at 7:49 p.m. CDTComment

HURRICANE ISABEL... 09-11-03

just became a Category 5 storm. Isabel is now effectively capable of destroying W's chances at re-election by striking anywhere along the east coast -- which is where it appears to be currently heading.

Our National Guard is stretched so thin because of deployments to Iraq that there will likely be no effective response to such a disaster -- like there wasn't to Hugo and Andrew under Poppy (Hurricane Andrew put the nail in Bush I's coffin in Florida in 1992).

At times, history really does appear to be repeating itself, doesn't it?

I'm sure W is already preparing his excuses.

Again, of course I hope Isabel doesn't strike anywhere on the east coast but it's looking more likely by the moment.

We'll see.

This could get interesting.

Posted by Tom at 7:41 p.m. CDTComment

THE FALLING MAN 09-11-03

Here's an interesting story in Esquire magazine about the most famous photograph of the events of 9/11. Here's just a paragraph of it to pique your interest:

There was no terror or confusion at the Associated Press. There was, instead, that feeling of history being manufactured; although the office was as crowded as he'd ever seen it, there was, instead,"the wonderful calm that comes into play when people are really doing their jobs." So Drew did his: He inserted the disc from his digital camera into his laptop and recognized, instantly, what only his camera had seen—something iconic in the extended annihilation of a falling man. He didn't look at any of the other pictures in the sequence; he didn't have to."You learn in photo editing to look for the frame," he says."You have to recognize it. That picture just jumped off the screen because of its verticality and symmetry. It just had that look." He sent the image to the AP's server. The next morning, it appeared on page seven of The New York Times. It appeared in hundreds of newspapers, all over the country, all over the world. The man inside the frame—the Falling Man—was not identified.
The photographer, Richard Drew, has also written an editorial about this photograph in the L.A. Times as well.

Both of these pieces raise questions about why we're uncomfortable with these images. I'll admit that as I was watching Ric Burns's film about the WTC on PBS the other night, it was those images that were the most disturbing and difficult for me to deal with.

Why is that?

Is it the desperation?

Is it that it makes us feel uncomfortable that we could be in such a horrible situation -- and we don't really want to think about it?

I don't know.

What do you think?

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

KEEPING THINGS IN PROPORTION 09-11-03

Read this post by Jim Henley.

[Link via college bud Kuff]

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

FOR THE 9/11 ANNIVERSARY, THE SCARE-O-MATIC IS SWITCHED TO HIGH 09-11-03

Get a load of this"Worldwide Caution" statement from the State Department:

Looking at the last few months, Al-Qaida and its associated organizations have struck in the Middle East in Riyadh, in North Africa in Casablanca, and in East Asia in Indonesia. We therefore assess that European or Eurasian locations could be venues for the next round of attacks, possibly to closely coincide with the anniversary of the 11 September attack. We expect Al-Qaida will strive for new attacks that will be more devastating than the September 11 attack, possibly involving nonconventional weapons such as chemical or biological agents. We also cannot rule out the potential for Al Qaida to attempt a second catastrophic attack within the U. S.

Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft and threats to include conventional weapons, such as explosive devices. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. These may include facilities where American citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit, including residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events or resorts and beaches. U.S. citizens should remain in a heightened state of personal security awareness when attendance at such locations is unavoidable.

Boy, is there anything the State Department didn't include as a possibility? I guess we should expect this from an administration that was caught so flat-footed two years ago that the whole day was an utter disaster for them. This statement is the ultimate in fear-mongering and CYA, isn't it?

I can see the news channels plan to wallow in the 9/11 anniversary all day long. I had just started this blog last year on September 11, 2002. It was a little less than a month old when I wrote this post about how the administration and Republicans were cynically using 9/11 for political purposes.

That post stands up pretty well a year later, doesn't it?

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

JUST HOW DISHONEST IS JOHN LOTT? 09-10-03

Pretty damn dishonest it appears:

I wondered when Lott had created this new version of Table 3a, so I looked at the modification date on the file. It said January 18, 2004, which is, uh, next year. Of course, the modification date doesn’t have to be when the file was last modified—you can set it to any date you please, but why would Lott set it to next year? It was only when I wrote the date out in numerical form that I was able to figure it out. The modification date was set to 01/18/04. On the page where you download the file, Lott claims that it was “corrected: April 18, 2003”, or, in numerical form, 04/18/03. Bingo! Lott was trying to set the modification date to April 18, 2003 so it would look like he created this version of the table first. He managed to set the day of the month to 18, but screwed up and set the year to 04 instead of setting the month to 04.
My goodness. I'm speechless. Not only is Lott trying to falsify his data (read the post), he's even trying to alter the dates on these newly-changed tables to make it look like he didn't change anything!

All right, Insty and Clayton, it's now time to admit that Lott's a fraud.

Even if you can't understand all the econometrics Glenn, Tim has now demonstrated that Lott is deliberately trying to mislead people about his research results.

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

IS HURRICANE ISABEL GOING TO MAKE SURE FLORIDA'S ELECTORAL VOTES ARE IN PLAY NEXT YEAR? 09-10-03

Hesiod raises the interesting possibility that history may be repeating itself once again. You see, because of the Iraq mess, W has now stretched Florida's National Guard so thin that it would be very difficult for them to play any role in the cleanup after a major hurricane in Florida.

He suggests that, if Florida gets hammered by a major hurricane (as it was in 1992) like Isabel, we could see the people of Florida decide, as they did in 1992, that this guy just doesn't care enough and that it's time to vote for the other guy. It could easily bring Florida's electoral votes more easily into the reach of the Democratic candidate.

And, of course, this problem is compounded by the fact that W didn't really win Florida the last time around. If folks in Florida just vote the same way they did in 2000 and the votes are actually counted competently, it's quite likely a Democrat will win Florida next year anyway -- no matter what happens.

And it's pretty hard for W to win without Florida. Most of W's"in the pocket" red states at this point at least have too few electoral votes to put him over the top without Florida.

It goes without saying that I truly hope, for the people of Florida's sake, that this doesn't happen but Hurricane Isabel appears to be heading right for south Florida at the moment.

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

GEORGE WILL MAKES STUFF UP AND THE POST DOESN'T GIVE A DAMN 09-10-03

Terry's been trying to get the WaPo to run a correction of an obvious error (or, as is more likely, a willful deception) in George Will's column now for nearly two weeks. He even talked to the Ombudsman and the editorial department today to no avail.

After you read this post, you'll realize that they clearly just don't give a damn.

So much for wanting to get it right, huh?

Impressive, eh?

Posted by Tom at 9:23 p.m. CDTComment

I CAN'T SAY I'M SURPRISED 09-10-03

In the District, President Bush serves as commander in chief of the D.C. National Guard, the way governors do in their states. So you might have expected him to show up yesterday at the funeral for Spec. Darryl T. Dent, 21, the D.C. guardsman who was killed recently in Iraq.

Canaan Baptist Church, where Dent's funeral was held, is at 16th and Newton streets NW, not five miles from the White House. Bush could have jogged to the wake, had a courier drop off flowers and a card or, at the very least, telephoned the slain soldier's family.

Call Bush AWOL, missing in action -- or just too busy fundraising. But he blew it.

"We haven't heard from him or the White House, not a word," said Marion Bruce, Dent's aunt and family spokeswoman."I don't want to speak for the whole family, but I am not pleased."

Several District officials attended the funeral, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Dent is to be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.

During a nationally broadcast speech last year, Bush referred to Williams as"my mayor." That being the case, he could have attended Dent's funeral as a simple gesture of sorrow over the death of a neighbor who also happened to be a soldier under his command.

Of course, that would not have been as stylish as, say, staging a landing on an aircraft carrier. And being seen at a soldier's funeral probably wouldn't make it look like the war was over, as Bush declared on the flight deck of that ship.

But it would have been the right thing to do.

Sigh.

[Link via Hesiod]

Posted by Tom at 3:44 p.m. CDTComment

E.J. DIONNE SAYS 09-10-03

The fiscal burden for this war does not have to be piled onto future generations. And it should not be borne by Americans most in need, the ones who would suffer from the budget cuts that bigger deficits would inevitably bring on. It's now obvious that the country cannot afford huge expenditures for war and reconstruction along with continued outsized tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

If Bush wants us to believe that this war is as important as he says it is, he needs to ask something from himself and something from Americans who can most afford it. That means rescinding some of his tax cuts for the most well-off even if his campaign contributors squawk. If Bush and his friends aren't willing to sacrifice anything for this cause, they abandon the right to ask sacrifices from of the rest of us.

Indeed.

Heh.

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

WILL KAY GET A FREE PASS -- LIKE COLIN LAST FEBRUARY?
09-10-03

Here's a good article from Editor and Publisher wondering aloud if David Kay is going to get the same kind of free pass on his veracity that Colin Powell got back in February.

If you recall, I linked to the same story back in August and wondered the same thing:

Let's review Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N., shall we? I remember all the triumphant e-mails and posts on my comment boards back in February about how this was a slam-dunk. Boy, what a difference a few months makes, huh? Six months later, Powell's presentation very well may now stand as one of the lowest points in the diplomatic history of the United States.
The folks over at Editor and Publisher wonder if the media is getting ready to do the same misleading thing again -- act like this just takes care of it and we can"move on" now.

I also wrote a post back in June in which I pointed out the same thing they do -- which is that there was evidence at the time that Powell's presentation was fishy. However, I suggest there's another cause for this and I think the same thing was true with the media back in February as well:

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

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

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

Will the media do it to us again? Will they try to make us all"feel better" again by telling us that this provides the excuse we all needed to believe the administration? Like all citizens, we ultimately want to believe our government and are susceptible to the"look, they really were telling the truth" argument -- even if it is demonstrably bogus at the time it is made.

And, I'm afraid, this sort of problem certainly speaks to the general inattention of the American people. They don't want to spend the time to discern for themselves whether their government is telling the truth, so they just believe what the media tells them.

So it's not, I'm afraid, just the media's fault folks, it's also ours.

(If you want an index of sorts to my February posts on Powell's presentation, go here.)

Posted by Tom at 11:02 a.m. CDTComment

GOP TALKING POINTS ON THE $87B 09-10-03

Sean-Paul has posted a link to a copy of the GOP/White House's official talking points on the additional $87B for Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you'll notice, it's exactly what we're hearing from the media.

Posted by Tom at 8:37 a.m. CDTComment

READ KRUGMAN 09-09-03

It's a good column. Go read it.

Today's my marathon six-hours-in-the-classroom day. I'm tired.

I'll see you tomorrow.

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

PAUL GREENBERG PROVES... 09-09-03

once again that he's way too much of a conventional partisan hack these days to ever even be considered for a Pulitzer.

After reading this phony little editorial hissy fit about how the mean old Democrats are keeping out Estrada because of his ethnicity (drawn straight from the RNC's talking points on this I'm sure), it's hard to believe this guy ever wrote legitimate editorials supporting Civil Rights, isn't it?

[Link via TBogg]

Posted by Tom at 3:35 p.m. CDTComment

TBOGG'S IN THE ZONE 09-09-03

No tin-horn terrorist crocker-croaker, pretending to be a policeman, is gonna keep President Bring Em On from getting to a fundraiser, by god."Come and get me, you bastards!", the president screamed while shaking his tiny little fist. Meanwhile Condi breaks out a fresh adult diaper and checks her bag for a package of baby moist wipes...
Posted by Tom at 3:25 p.m. CDTComment

FRANK O'BANNON OUT OF SURGERY 09-09-03

I just checked Jeff Cooper's blog and discovered -- to my horror -- that Frank O'Bannon, the governor of Indiana, suffered a massive stroke and a cerebral hemmorrhage yesterday. He's out of surgery now and it's unclear if he'll make it. He was elected governor in 1996. When I left Indiana in August of 1997, he was in his first year as governor.

How'd I miss this?

It goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the O'Bannons. Frank O'Bannon is a great man and the most honest public servant I've ever seen in politics.

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

HOW ABOUT $142B? 09-09-03

Holy cow. The president gives a speech on Sunday night and by Tuesday morning, W and his minions have to admit they need $142B not $87B for Iraq.

Willful deception or incompetence?

If you go through this article and add up the proposed spending for Iraq, you can quickly come to a mind boggling figure: $79B + $87B + $55B = $221B. My goodness. Over a two year span, that means that more than 5% of federal outlays will be to pay for Iraq!

Did these folks really think they could pay for all of this with the first $79B -- or did they plan to come back to us later and ask for a lot more money?

Again, willful deception or incompetence?

And, by the way, I'm pretty sure the budget deficit will be over $600B next year. If my math is right, that's about 25% of federal outlays. But I'm sure they'll claim the deficit is lower right up until they're made to admit the reality -- probably right in the middle of next fall's campaign.

Again, willful deception or incompetence?

Can we really afford to keep these folks in the White House much longer?

I'm not sure we can afford to keep them there until January of 2005 -- although we have little choice I'm afraid.

Update: Go take a look at this chart. It's really quite depressing, isn't it?

I'd like to see a similar chart for what we could do with $221B, wouldn't you?

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

JOSH SAYS 09-08-03

So here the whole sordid business comes full circle. The administration games the public into an endeavor by exaggerating the gains and minimizing the price. Then the gains are revealed as not quite so great. And the price is revealed as very much greater. And if all that weren't bad enough, the operation is bungled on several fronts. So the gamers and the scammers say it's the fault of the critics who tried to carve through the mumbo-jumbo in the first place. And when the public has a touch of buyers' remorse over a product that was peddled on false advertising, the answer lies in the public's own degeneracy and division.

It's everyone's fault but theirs. 'The terrorists', domestic enemies, cultural declension, the French, perhaps tomorrow the decline of reading, the end of corporal punishment in the schools, permissive parenting, bad posture, rock 'n roll, space aliens. The administration is choking on its own lies and evasions. And we have to bail them out because the ship of state is our ship.

Okay, I was with Josh until that last sentence.

Before I try to comment further, let me just stop and ask a rather basic question: what the hell does that last sentence mean?

Update: Thanks so much to those who translated that last sentence for me. I think Loopster in comments translates it best, so I'll just put what he has to say here:

Here's what it means to me: Like it or not, we're tied, chained, lassoed to these guys, these insane freaks who run our government, simply by virtue of the fact they, well, run the government. When Josh says,"bail them out," I think it's meant as a rhetorical precursor to the"ship of state" image he's about to spring. Unfortunately, the term"bail out" has taken on a negative connotation, as in"the sort of federal windfall that only the most privileged and powerful failures receive."

So when he says,"bail them out," I think he means we have to do what we can to clean up the mess these creeps have made, because it's our mess too, and it's going to ruin our lives if we let it get any bigger. That doesn't mean supporting them personally or politically, it just means that the awfulness they've created is too big to write off as"their problem."

I agree with this. Unfortunately, if there's any way to spin this horrible disaster as a success the shameless folks in this administration will do so. We have to hope someone in this administration eventually comes to their senses.

I don't know, do you think W can go for the"war trifecta." He's screwed up Aghanistan and Iraq. Can he go three-for-three and screw up in Korea, too?

I'll shut up now. That last one frightens me too much.

A war in Korea would truly make Iraq look like a cakewalk.

Posted by Tom at 11:18 p.m. CDTComment

NEW ADDITIONS TO THE BLOGROLL 09-08-03

I've added a couple of blogs to the blogroll, Corrente (by the four bloggers who took over for Eschaton this summer) and Ralph Luker. I'm on the prowl for a few other new ones.

I'll let you know immediately when I add them.

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

DEJA VU 09-08-03

Atrios reminds us that we've seen this all before:

Back when the poor ADD-suffering warbloggers still had their eyes fixed on the shiny bauble that was the Afganistan conflict, whenever some Americanhating liberal like myself would suggest that maybe, just maybe, things weren't going so well in that country, howls of of outrage would come my way. I eventually (mostly) stopped bothering, as, well, what was the point. Then the War Fairy came along with a NEW nice and shiny bauble, called Iraq, and they were distracted from their original toy.

Well, now, Iraq is a mess and once again the people in charge are blaming their critics. These people live in a bizarre world where if only a bunch of dorks chained to their computers have enough"steely resolve," you know, to watch other people's kids go and die (clap louder!), then the Bush administration, which has managed to fuck up everything in its path, will triumph over the forces of evil.

Learned my lessson I guess. Afghanistan is a mess. Iraq is a mess.

It is hilarious that so many warbloggers, instead of admitting the failure of the policy, want to blame those of us on the left side of the blogosphere for this administration's failures yet again.

My goodness, every grand idea the folks in this administration put forward turns out just the opposite of how they say it will, every thing they've touched over the last three years has turned to, well, shit, so you'd think these warbloggers would eventually get tired of giving us the same old excuses and saying the same old things.

I guess not.

We HAVE seen this all before. I think warbloggers very frequently suffer from something I defined months ago (October of last year) as"Blogospheric Syndrome":

If you begin to believe that your blogging is going to change the world or American politics, you might be just a wee bit out of touch with reality. As I've said before, many bloggers apparently live too much in the blogosphere which causes them to often miss the forest for the trees.
This latest line of b.s. from the White House also reminds me of this post from nearly a year ago last September:

As someone who is relatively new to this blogging thing, it was surprising to hear that war blogs ever were a good source for reasoned debate and analysis. I have found that most of them eschew any sort of analysis in favor of good old-fashioned chest-thumping and cheerleading. And Jeff [Cooper] points out that most of them impugn the patriotism of the administration's opponents instead of answering their criticisms. I find this to be almost universally the case with most of the more popular war blogs.

...

However, the same folks in the blogosphere who are blasting the administration's critics are only following the lead of their heroes in the White House. The administration long ago gave up making any sort of reasoned case with evidence for war with Iraq. Like their supporters in the blogosphere, they're content to make assertions without evidence and to question the patriotism of their critics rather than attempt to answer their questions. I'm just surprised anyone would expect reasoned discussion and debate from these folks, whether we're talking about Republicans in Washington or war bloggers. Maybe at one time they were capable of it but clearly they no longer are.

Man, now I'm really getting a feeling of Deja vu. How about you?

Posted by Tom at 7:26 p.m. CDTComment

BUSY 09-08-03

This pesky job of mine is getting in the way of my blogging. Anyway, I think you should go read this post by Arthur Silber and this post by Kevin about the rising tide of McCarthyistic calls for critics of the administration to shut up already -- and accusing them of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

I sure hope that Arthur's wrong about a new Sedition Act but, given the attitudes of the neo-cons these days, I wouldn't exactly rule it out. Arthur's right that it's going to get increasingly nasty as we get closer to election time -- especially if W's numbers continue to be down in the dumps.

You also ought to read this post by Atrios about the latest political misstep by Gray Davis.

I personally think it's outrageous that Davis has stooped to making fun of Arnold's accent. I mean, hell folks, why doesn't he just make fun of the fact that Arnold apparently has no policy plans and no sense of what the heck to do about the state's budget -- that would be perfectly within bounds. However, making nativistic comments about a"ferner's" accent is just way beyond the pale.

Posted by Tom at 1:53 p.m. CDTComment

BLOGROLL HOUSEKEEPING 09-08-03

I have just gone through the blogroll and updated it. I've been meaning to do this for a while. A couple of URLs have changed and I've updated them. I also removed all blogs that have apparently gone inactive. If your blog used to be there but I judged it inactive and you want to be"reinstated," let me know and I'll happily do so.

As I grudgingly removed Ted Barlow (who has decided to shut down his old blog), I added Crooked Timber, where Ted Barlow currently is blogging, so Ted's still with us, just in a different location.

Now for the not-so-fun stuff. If you dropped me from your blogroll, you've been dropped from here as well. There aren't but a couple of you -- but I'm sure you know who you are. If we had more or less a reciprocal agreement, you can consider it terminated. I don't like to do such things but that's the way it is folks. If you don't see fit to continue helping me, I certainly won't continue helping you.

On the bright side, all of this means I'll probably add a few more blogs to the blogroll in the next few weeks. The blogroll was so big before I hadn't felt like I could add any more to it. However, I don't want the blogroll to get so crowded that people can't ever hope to visit all of the blogs on it, so there are definite limits to the number of blogs I'll add.

I just thought I'd update you all on this because otherwise I'll get e-mails wanting to know what's up.

Now you know.

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

A NEW KIND OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION 09-08-03

What oppressed minority needs Affirmative Action protection in Colorado colleges and universities!

Why political conservatives of course!

Now isn't this just a teensy, eensy bit hypocritical?

And they're even seeking advice from Crazy Davey on drawing up the new"Affirmative Action for Conservatives" policy.

Conservatives attack Affirmative Action for creating a quota system and then, when they're in control, they draw up, well, a quota system!

Isn't this just amazing?

Posted by Tom at 11:08 a.m. CDTComment

THIS IS ABOUT RIGHT 09-08-03

The media, not long ago, were dogged in their pursuit of a stained dress, a gift of a four-in-hand, a book of poems, a decades-old land deal, a missing file, a lie about a tryst or two; slavish in their regurgitation of leaks from an obsessed independent counsel. Will the media today, mesmerized by Rummy, the Svengali, or cowed by the bamboozling Bush, awake from their stupor and cast aside their obeisance to a commander-in-chief who uses"terrorism" to scare us into subjection and who was, in a war not long ago, AWOL?
Indeed.

Posted by Tom at 10:49 a.m. CDTComment

KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON SAYS 09-08-03

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, issued a statement to say she was willing to work with Bush to get the money he wants for U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But she said other countries must begin contributing to the effort."I do not think the American taxpayer should be alone in support of this war and will work to ensure we have partners in this effort," she said.
Kay, my friend, we lost our credibility to ask others to contribute to the effort back in February and March when we told everyone else in the world to go to hell.

Now, admittedly, no one would accuse Hutchinson of being the sharpest knife in the drawer. I always remember her as the Texas State Treasurer during my college days who apparently thought her state office workers were allowed to work on her Senate campaign on state time.

However, even Kay Bailey Hutchinson has to be smart enough (and honest enough) to acknowledge this little logic flaw in her argument, wouldn't you think?

You should read the rest of this article as well. Let's just say last night's speech was not the home run the White House clearly hoped it would be and leave it at that.

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

I'M BUMMED 09-07-03

Dwight Meredith is shutting down P.L.A. Good luck Dwight! I've really enjoyed reading your blog and getting to know you!

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

LOTT UPDATE 09-07-03

Tim Lambert's got some interesting stuff about Lott the fraud up on his blog. First, he's caught Insty decrying the NYT for coverage of gun issues that he argued was"riddled with amateurish errors and apparent deception" by linking to a column on NRO that was, you guessed it, riddled with amateurish errors and apparent deception. Boy, Glenn sure does impress with his close attention to detail, doesn't he?

Second, the Federalist Society (which we all know is more or less a fraudulent GOP legal front group anyway) is about to embarrass itself yet again by sending Lott out on a speaking tour. They asked historian Saul Cornell of Ohio State to debate Lott.

Here's Saul's response to their request:

Lott has been accused of research fraud and has lied on a host of other topics related to his research, including his participation in Internet discussions under a false female identity (cyber-cross dressing—very un-Federalist Society if you ask me—can you imagine Publius in drag?) I would gladly debate with any serious academic on this or other topics, but I have a general rule about not sharing the stage with frauds. In fact no serious scholar would even bother with Lott at this moment. He is only being kept afloat because he has never passed a serious tenure review and has jumped around on a series of ideologically funded fellowships. If he were in a regular academic job, he would certainly be the subject of an independent investigation. I would urge you to reconsider the invitation. I could easily suggest a host of more congenial and interesting! persons to defend either the individual rights view or concealed carry laws. If Lott comes to town you are apt to make the issue seem silly—just imagine all of the Mary Rosh (Lott’s twisted cyber-sister) street antics you would encourage. Do you really want to make the cause of gun rights look just silly? I certainly would not want to encourage this. The decision is up to you, but I think you are making a mistake.
I think Saul hits the nail on the head, don't you?

Posted by Tom at 9:03 p.m. CDTComment

ARE YOU READY? 09-07-03

It's televised address time for W tonight. It's only a little while until we see that"deer in the headlights" look W gets when he begins his Herculean struggle with the Tele-Prompter. It's not a very pretty sight.

What will W say to try and say himself? He's staring the potential end of his presidency square in the face: a flaccid economy and a deficit spiraling out of control combined with the security nightmare that is post-war Iraq may be close to striking a knockout blow to his re-election hopes. Most polls now show a majority of Americans want to give someone else the job next year.

How will W try to reverse this alarming trend? Will he try to warm up the scare-o-matic? Will he tell us he's got a"secret plan" to end the war? Will he apologize to the American people for all the lies he's told over the last several months? Will he apologize to the U.N. for maligning it -- especially now that he's had to go crawling back?

We'll know in a short while, won't we?

Feel free to post your reactions to the speech on the comment board to this post. I'll be interested in hearing your feedback.

Update: My reaction to the speech is in comments. Join in the fun folks! Comment away!

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

I'M FRESH OUT OF PATIENCE, HOW ABOUT YOU? 09-07-03

In his address tonight, W is going to ask us all to have patience with the horrible mess we've made of post-war Iraq.

Have patience, huh? Do W and the boys not realize that's exactly what the entire world said to us in February and March?

I think I'll exhibit the same patience with the administration regarding Iraq now that W and the boys did regarding the U.N. inspection regime back in December, January and February.

How about you?

Posted by Tom at 12:45 p.m. CDTComment

I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY... 09-06-03

judging from this review that, to put it in the vernacular,"DC 9/11: Time of Crisis" sucks bigtime:

Simultaneously dull and disgraceful,"DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," a new Showtime movie, uses the tragic attack on America in 2001 as the basis for a reelection campaign movie on behalf of George W. Bush.

The film is an insult to those who perished in the attacks and, really, an insult to America generally, but it's so insanely boring that people aren't likely to become very outraged over it. Written by conservative Republican Lionel Chetwynd, who admits to a bias in Bush's favor, the film -- premiering on Showtime tomorrow night at 8 -- is primitive propaganda that portrays Bush as the noblest hero since Mighty Mouse.

Nothing in historical record suggests Bush acted particularly heroically Sept. 11, 2001, but Chetwynd's script has him all but saddling up a horse and riding over to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban man-to-man. When Bush announces he will give a speech to the nation from the White House and aides try to talk him into seeking a safer location, Bush bellows,"If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come on over and get me. I'll be home!"

Bush repeatedly demands he be taken to the White House as Air Force One flies aimlessly about on that horrible September day:"I've got to get back to Washington because I'm not going to let those people keep me from getting home," he barks. And earlier:"Get me home! . . . The American people want to know where their damn president is." And still earlier:"People can't have an AWOL president!"

All this may be pure fantasy that occurred only in Chetwynd's head, or wishful thinking by members of the Bush administration, who cooperated with Chetwynd in his research. Actual footage of the World Trade Center towers burning and collapsing is used as part of this love letter to the president, an especially unseemly touch.

Like I said, this movie apparently is so horrible it's hilarious Go read the rest of this review and then schedule something else to do (watch paint dry or mow the lawn perhaps?) tomorrow night.

Heck, while I'm sure Glenn Reynolds will watch it, after such a horrible review, who else will?

Posted by Tom at 11:07 p.m. CDTComment

DID HE EVER MAKE GOOD ON THIS PROMISE? 09-06-03

And I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clear he had nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again.

-- Bill O'Reilly, March 18, 2003
Well, did he? I don't watch the troglodyte myself so I wouldn't know. This quote comes from this excellent collection of quotes from the lying liars right here.

It's quite an impressive collection, don't you think?

Every time one of W's sycophants tries to convince you that W and the boys really didn't imply that Saddam had tons of WMDs, you can just point them to this list.

Posted by Tom at 4:48 p.m. CDTComment

OOOPS, IT'S ALREADY TRUE 09-06-03

According to this Zogby poll, W's below the Mendoza line already. Only 45% rated his job performance positively.

That's not good.

Look for other indexes to move below 50% in the next month. Zogby is always ahead of the others -- but the others usually come along within the next month or so.

So much for W as a"popular" president, eh?

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 3:29 p.m. CDTComment

THE GAG ORDER FOR U.S. TROOPS IS APPARENTLY NOT WORKING 09-06-03

"I don't give a damn about Rumsfeld. All I give a damn about is going home," Specialist Rue Gretton said, humping packs of water bottles on his shoulders from a truck.

"The only thing his visit meant for us was we had to clean up a lot of mess to make the place look pretty. And he didn't even look at it anyway," Gretton said after soldiers swept the dusty streets around the complex of lakes and mansions.

...

"If I got to talk to Rumsfeld I'd tell him to give us a return date. We've been here six months and the rumor is we'll be here until at least March. This is totally, totally uncalled for," she said.

...

When the Armed Forces Network showed earlier footage of Rumsfeld saying that fresh U.S. troops were unnecessary in Iraq, soldiers at the base threw their hands in the air and shouted"No way" at the television.

"I ain't happy. No way am I happy seeing that," said Specialist Devon Pierce, whose wife was due to give birth to his first son in two weeks."This tour is hard, real hard. It's too much. It should be six months."

And if you want to see something surreal, read this interview with Rumsfeld by Dan Rather.

Now, do you believe a single thing that Rummy says in that interview?

Well I'm off to coach two soccer games and ref a third.

More later.

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

SCARE-O-MATIC SCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY 09-05-03

W will address us on Sunday about Iraq and the War on Terra. Since W's approval ratings are right at 50%, it's time to use patriotism and fear to bump them up a bit.

I mean, heck, since he's just now back from his annual month-long vacation it's time to roll out this year's"product" after all. Let's hope this year's"product" doesn't involve the deaths of thousands of people on the other side of the world.

How many times has W done this sort of thing during his presidency?

Surely people aren't stupid enough to go for this again, are they?

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

EARLY SIGNS OF AN APPROACHING DUBYA-DIP RECESSION?
09-05-03

There were 93,000 jobs lost last month (analysts were expecting a small gain) and unemployment remains virtually unchanged at 6.1%.

Finally, we're hearing some analysts begin to change their irritating pollyanna tune:

Friday’s reports no longer reflected a cyclical economy trying to add jobs after a recession — “which is depressing,” said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo. Analysts had expected companies to add some jobs last month.

...

If hiring doesn’t improve, the recovery could be in jeopardy because consumers worried about their job prospects will stop spending. That’s been the driving force in the U.S. economy.

Honestly, folks, who gives a damn about the rest of it as long as millions are still unemployed?

And, more importantly for W, who in his right mind votes for the economic genius who provides us with long-term tax cuts for the rich that provide little or no short-term stimulus?

I'm thinking W will be under fifty in approval ratings by this time next month.

Look for the Bush team to warm up the"scare-o-matic" shortly.

Frequent vague terror alerts, anyone?

Posted by Tom at 1:05 p.m. CDTComment

LOTT TELLS A"BALDFACED LIE" 09-05-03

Kevin tells us how John Lott is now telling lies about his lies to the WaPo. I'm with him. It's pathetic.

When is AEI going to get tired of this, I wonder?

Doesn't it embarrass them?

Surely they'll take care of this little problem soon.

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

GENERAL ANTHONY C. ZINNI SAYS 09-05-03

My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice," said Zinni, who was severely wounded while serving as an infantry officer in that conflict."I ask you, is it happening again?"
I think Rummy just crossed Tony Zinni off his Christmas card list.

Posted by Tom at 11:18 a.m. CDTComment

A GREAT LINE 09-05-03

Just four months after Operation Flight Suit, the superpower has become a supplicant to nations it used to insult. Mission accomplished!
Indeed.

Oh yeah, and Josh has a great post up about how Wolfowitz has now officially morphed into the Iraqi Information Minister:

Paul Wolfowitz told reporters today that it's not the US which has changed positions, but the UN. We've wanted a new UN resolution for months. It's just that the UN has finally come around to our position. The bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad" changed the atmosphere in New York."

How about that? Wolfowitz is an awfully sharp guy. But he's turning into the Comical Ali of the collapse of neoconservative grand strategy in the Middle East.

The UN is putty in our hands!

We have bent them to our will!

The humiliation of the French is complete!

I assume that W and the boys now realize that they've made us look like damned fools to the rest of the world, right?

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

BAD, BAD, BAD. 09-04-03

That's what Ruy Teixeira says about W's poll numbers in this week's Public Opinion Watch. Things are really looking bad on all fronts for W:

Bad, bad, bad. But of course the economy is Bush’s worst area. What of Bush’s strong suit: national security and the supposedly popular war in Iraq? Well, that war may have been mighty popular when the troops were barreling into Baghdad and Saddam’s statue was coming down, but it ain’t so popular anymore. According to the CBS News poll, the country is now about evenly split between those who think the results of the war were worth the costs and those who disagree. The public is also evenly split between those who think that the United States is in control of the Iraq situation and those who think we aren’t.

Not so good. And the Newsweek poll released on August 23 has Bush’s approval rating on Iraq down to 54 percent, off four points since late July and down eleven points since the end of May. Only 18 percent are very confident that the United States will be able to establish a stable, democratic form of government in Iraq and just 16 percent think that efforts to rebuild Iraq are going very well.

And wait, there’s more! Recent developments have raised doubts in a substantial segment of the public about whether going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do. These developments include the number of U.S. military casualties since the end of major combat was declared, reports about the long-term cost of the occupation, and the fact that no banned chemical or biological weapons have yet been found. In each case, about half the public says that the development has raised doubts about the rightness of the war. In another indicator of wavering commitment, a slight plurality (48 percent to 47 percent) is now willing to say that they would support a withdrawal of U.S. military personnel from Iraq in response to ongoing attacks on our forces.

In addition, we’re getting close to an even split about whether the Bush administration purposely misled the public to build support for the Iraq war (43 percent say they did; 51 percent say they didn’t). No wonder an August 22 Washington Post story was headlined “Security May Not Be Safe Issue for Bush in ’04.” It isn’t. The Newsweek poll, in fact, finds more registered voters (49 percent) saying that they would not like to see Bush reelected than say that they would like to see him get a second term (44 percent). That’s quite a turnaround from early May, when registered voters favored Bush’s reelection by 51 percent to 38 percent.

To add to President Bush’s woes, a CBS News poll released on August 29 suggests that he is in particular trouble with independent voters, just the kind of swing voters whose support he needs to get reelected. Bush’s overall job approval is at 53 percent among independents, drops to 44 percent on foreign policy (with 43 percent disapproval), and then collapses to 32 percent on the economy (with a stunning 58 percent disapproval).

Read the rest of it.

W's in trouble folks -- and the economy and unemployment numbers indicate no major positive developments any time soon.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 p.m. CDTComment

HUBRIS 09-04-03

Here's a good piece from the Christian Science Monitor about the hubris of W and the boys regarding the War in Iraq:

Is it not time for us to recognize that there was a good deal of hubris behind our decision to invade Iraq? It impelled Congress to pass a resolution in support of an attack, the president to decide to invade, and the American public to give wide support to his doing so. The initial fighting went well, but the enemy's tactics since have not been what we anticipated.

In fact, most of the assumptions behind our invasion have been proven wrong: The intelligence did not support the imminence of a threat, the Iraqis have not broadly welcomed us as liberators, the idea that we could manage this action almost unilaterally is giving way to pleas for troops and money from other nations, the aversion to giving the UN a meaningful role is eroding daily, and the reluctance to get involved in nation building is being supplanted by just that.

Despite these reversals of course, our current policy appears to be to"stay the course." The problem with not acknowledging that we are changing course is that it makes us do so begrudgingly. The longer we hesitate to increase our troop strength in Iraq; to pour billions of dollars of our own money into reconstruction; and to invite the UN to play a substantive, decisionmaking role, the more the chance of failure increases.

Failure in Iraq is simply unacceptable. It would not be just a severe embarrassment, as it was in Vietnam. It would be caving-in to terrorists, and not just to terrorists in Iraq. The president's worldwide"war on terrorism" would be seen as having folded up the minute the going got tough. Whether Al Qaeda has operated out of Iraq in the past or not, it almost certainly would do so in the future.

I agree entirely. Our hubris has brought us to an expensive, dangerous, and potentially catastrophic precipice in Iraq. If we fail now, the war on terror will go right down the tubes. That's what ultimately makes me the most angry. We didn't have to do this. We didn't have to make Iraq a terrorist haven that we'd have to clear out -- but we sure as hell have to do so now.

And just how far does this hubris go? Well Josh Marshall points us to this interesting article about the security situation in Iraq.

Buried in the middle of the article is this rather major bombshell that exposes the astonishing arrogance/hubris/stupidity of Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks:

It seems that almost everyone here believes we’re sitting on a precipice, and leaning precariously toward civil disaster. But it didn’t have to happen this way.

A year ago, American General John Abizaid published an internal Defense Department book about urban warfare. Abizaid’s “Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations” (see sidebar) was all but ignored by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, who ran the Iraq war and the initial postwar occupation.

Abizaid wrote about the massive troop requirements for urban warfare; warned of rapid burnout of soldiers and equipment assigned to urban battlegrounds; and time and again referenced catastrophic instances of over-confidence and under-preparedness among commanders and of disastrous misunderstandings of local cultures and their motivations. He also stressed how “essential” it is that “law enforcement” and other “routine activities” be “returned to civilian agencies as quickly as possible.”

Abizaid was brought in a month ago to clean up the mess created by Franks and Rumsfeld. But it might be too late.

My goodness. These geniuses ignored a book written by a Pentagon urban warfare expert in September before the war that describes exactly how to do it in great detail! A book, I might add, that also accurately predicted the problems we now face in Iraq!

Now, honestly folks, explain to me just why the hell it is that Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

Posted by Tom at 9:38 p.m. CDTComment

BUSY DAY 09-04-03

In response to my post below, we've got a great discussion thread going regarding teaching writing with blogs. Dr. Tryon, instructor of the course in question, has joined in as well. Feel free to join it if you're interested.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy today I haven't been able to contribute much.

My day gets busier from here. Now I've got to get my 76 swim laps in and then I've got soccer practice (I'm coaching two teams and still refereeing this year).

More later.

Posted by Tom at 3:29 p.m. CDTComment

THE JOBLESS RECOVERY... 09-04-03

continues. Jobless claims are over 400,000 again. But if you just read this up-is-down story from MSNBC, it reads like it's all good news or something. Sure worker productivity increased but, hey, who gives a damn about that?

BTW, it's going to get ugly in the coming months in the job market probably. We just have to hope the"Dubya Dip" isn't coming our way next year. No real signs currently that another recession is in the future but we'll have to wait and see.

Posted by Tom at 10:51 a.m. CDTComment

HEY, WHAT'S ANOTHER $60B? 09-04-03

They can't give scheduled pay raises to federal employees but, hey, this administration sure can come up with another $60B for Iraq pronto, can't they?

Now, before you attack me for not understanding that Iraq is a pressing need that we have to fund, let me just tell you I understand that and actually support this increase. We've made this mess and now we've got to clean it up.

However, let me take this golden opportunity to remind you that we didn't have to pursue this war. Nothing made us do it. In fact it turns out now that the majority of what we were told in the run-up to the war has turned out not to be true and the post-war has been nothing short of a disaster.

Isn't it just about time for most Americans to recognize they were duped and admit it?

And surely they're smart enough not to vote for an administration that consistently lies to them, are they?

But look for the administration and its allies to turn increasingly nasty over the next few months as it becomes clear that they're in trouble. Art Silber notes that the true believers in this administration's foreign policy lunacy are already accusing critics of the administration of being the reason for our failures in Iraq:

If you doubted my point about the religious fervor of the true believers' mentality, take a look at this entry. (But damn it, providing a link to that place I just delinked!) The fact that we need to go to the U.N. is the fault of all those who oppose the administration's foreign policy. It can't be that the policy itself might be deluded, or correct but badly executed, or any other explanation. Oh, no: it's the fault of anyone who even dares to criticize what we are doing. Here's a prediction: look for much more of this kind of thing. And if you thought the debate just before and during the war got unpleasant, you ain't seen nothing yet.
If you thought the campaign last fall was outrageous, just wait for the true McCarthyism to start next year. It's coming folks. Given their gutter-dwelling campaign tactics last year before the midterms, it's clear W and the boys will do or say anything to stay in office.

This is going to get ugly folks.

As I've said before, if W goes down, it's going to be quite spectacular.

Posted by Tom at 9:10 a.m. CDTComment

WRITING, BLOGS, AND A BIT OF INTROSPECTION 09-03-03

A freshman writing class taught by Dr. Chuck Tryon at Georgia Tech is studying blogs. As someone who teaches two or three 100-level history courses loaded with freshman every semester, I can't help but feel conflicted about this idea.

For starters, I see some painful writing trainwrecks in my assignments every semester and, at least in the spring, these are from students who have at least made it out of one semester of a two-semester freshman writing sequence. I can't help but have the curmudgeonly response about how basic grammar, syntax and organization would be a better focus for basic writing courses than reading blogs -- at least judging from the evidence that I frequently see in my 100-level papers.

However, on the other hand, most of the bloggers I read are truly good writers. They provide excellent models for students on how to write short, effective argument-driven pieces. Now, admittedly, some bloggers don't really fit this criteria. Insty is, I'm afraid to say, not a particularly effective writer (i.e.,"objectively pro-Saddam"? Say what?) but I suspect his readers don't really read him for his writing or even his point of view anymore. They read him because he is the major clearinghouse on the webs for links to right-wing columns and stories of interest to righties. Therefore, in Insty's case, I'm not sure I'd be sending my students off to study the tortured syntax that is Insty's writing.

I mean, heck folks, we on the left all know that Atrios is a much better writer than Insty could ever hope to be. Atrios, Hesiod, Josh Marshall and Kevin over at CalPundit (just to name some of the most influential lefty bloggers) write very effective short opinion pieces that are as good as anything I read anywhere in the mainstream media.

If you've been reading this blog long, you know my blog writing has gone through quite a transformation since I started a little over a year ago. As an academic who writes books and articles, my writing on this blog a year ago was quite a bit more lengthy and involved than it often is now. Why is that? Part of it I suspect is that I don't have as much time to put into it these days as I did back then. Another reason for the change is that I'm beginning to feel like everyone that reads this blog now probably has some idea of just where I'm coming from and how I feel about things -- especially if you went through the mental trauma of the damn war on this blog with me in March and April.

The more I think about it, I'm not really sure I would send students to my blog to study writing! In fact, to be honest, I don't say anything about my blog to my own students. A few of my upper-level students have discovered the blog and talk to me about it every now and then. As far as other folks on campus, I've received both positive (from faculty colleagues) and negative comments (from others on campus -- I'd prefer not to go into those to be honest) about my blog. I know some faculty members who think it's downright odd that I write this thing and some I'm pretty sure make fun of it behind my back.

At times I do think about the amount of time I spend blogging and wonder why I do it. Part of it I'm sure is the excitement of knowing that thousands of people a day are reading what you write. It's a frightening thing to realize that more people will read what you write here in a day than will probably ever read your academic writing.

Probably the main reason I blog is that it truly is a wonderful form of self-expression. We live in troubling times with an administration that has made numerous troubling decisions and shows no signs of making sense any time soon. Many bloggers say that blogging stops them from shouting at the television or, worse yet, throwing things at the television. I would imagine that's true for me as well. It is wonderful therapy for dealing with these sorts of problems.

So, in the end, I'm still not really sure how I feel about the idea that students are being sent to read blogs in a freshman writing class. I think they can read some wonderful writers and learn a great deal about just what it means to be an engaged and fully-informed citizen of the twenty-first century.

However, I'm sure it also takes time away from some lessons about basic writing that I don't think can be learned any other way than writing papers, turning them in, and getting constructive criticism from an instructor. My mother was a freshman English instructor at a local university when I was growing up and I remember her saying that the only way you really learn to write is by repetition and practice. I'm not sure what reading blogs will do for students regarding the very basic mechanics and process of writing.

I just hope that Dr. Tryon's students ultimately learn something and enjoy it. As with most things you do in teaching at the university level, you never know how it's going to work out until you give a shot.

Here's hoping it works out well. I'll have to check in when I've got time during the semester.

Update: My blogging colleague here at HNN, Ralph Luker, comments on this (no permalinks, scroll down to"Blogging as Writing") as well.

And, upon further review, I really didn't mean it to sound like I'm saying righties can't write. That's simply not true. There are some righty bloggers out there who write well. I'm just saying that Insty certainly isn't one of them.

Posted by Tom at 10:17 p.m. CDTComment

ARNOLD JUST LOST... 09-03-03

Kevin's vote:

You know, I think Gray Davis is a bad enough governor that I was willing to be convinced that Arnold could do a better job of managing the legislature and solving some problems that a Democrat might have a hard time with. But instead of using his celebrity to deliver some much needed straight talk, Arnold's behavior has instead been simply arrogant and cynical. I don't think he's made a single substantive statement in the past four weeks, and apparently he expects to win simply by insisting that he will march into Sacramento and kick some ass. To him, I guess it's just another notch on his career belt.

He had his chance and he blew it. Too bad.

I agree with Kevin that Arnold hasn't done a thing right since he entered the race. I thought his ego would probably make him a bad governor and, judging from the campaign so far, I think I'm right on that score.

Furthermore, as I've said before, if Arnold's not ahead now, he's probably never going to be.

So much for the"Governator," eh?

Folks, I think Arnold's short political career is about to end before it really even started.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CDTComment

CONDI AND RUMMY MISLEAD US ABOUT HISTORY AGAIN 09-03-03

You know, it's embarrassing when you'll just say anything that's on the teleprompter and shamelessly mislead us about our own history for political purposes, isn't it?

As American post-conflict combat deaths in Iraq overtook the wartime number, the administration counseled patience."The war on terror is a test of our strength. It is a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our will," President Bush told an American Legion convention.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice embellished the message with what former White House speechwriters immediately recognize as a greatest-generation pander."There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes," she told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25."But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers—called 'werewolves'—engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them—much like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants."

Speaking to the same group on the same day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted,

One group of those dead-enders was known as"werewolves." They and other Nazi regime remnants targeted Allied soldiers, and they targeted Germans who cooperated with the Allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including the American-appointed mayor of Aachen, the first major German city to be liberated. Children as young as 10 were used as snipers, radio broadcasts, and leaflets warned Germans not to collaborate with the Allies. They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin Museum. Does this sound familiar?
Well, no, it doesn't. The Rice-Rumsfeld depiction of the Allied occupation of Germany is a farrago of fiction and a few meager facts.

...

It's hard to understand exactly what Rumsfeld was saying, but if he meant that the Nazi resisters killed Americans after the surrender, this would be news. According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.

So, how did this fanciful version of the American experience in postwar Germany get into the remarks of a Princeton graduate and former trustee of Stanford's Hoover Institute (Rumsfeld) and the former provost of Stanford and co-author of an acclaimed book on German unification (Rice)? Perhaps the British have some intelligence on the matter that still has not been made public. Of course, as the president himself has noted, there is a lot of revisionist history going around.

Rummy and Condi haven't been doing too well on the history front lately. If you recall, Rummy made the hilarious comparison between Iraq and Shays' Rebellion a couple of months ago and back in October of last year Condi, in a moment of weakness, suggested we should've fought Russia in 1948.

I'm really about to give this administration an F for its knowledge of American history. Like so many other things, they apparently believe in a"faith-based" approach to history as well. It's seen as merely another tool for use by the administration's agitprop machine.

I also should mention that we here at HNN also have an excellent (and much more scholarly) article up about this today as well. While I don't necessarily agree with everything that Herf says about the Iraq War, he certainly provides us with a more detailed and accurate depiction of post-war Germany than Rummy and Condi.

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

THE KOOL-AID OF RIGHTEOUS CERTAINTY 09-03-03

Morat gets it just right:

Yet here it is. It didn't take a genius to realize that a slowing economy and massive tax cuts would eliminate the Clinton surplus, nor that large increases in spending would place us back in the red. It didn't take a genius to realize that the GOP's control of Congress and the White House would make it difficult to blame the Democrats. It didn't take a genius to realize that rebuilding Iraq wasn't going to be cheap or easy, and it certainly didn't take a genius to realize that all of this would come to a head as Bush was gearing up for reelection.

And yet...here we are. I blogged, back in early June, that the problem with Donald Rumsfeld was that he was a crackpot in the truest sense of the word. That Rumsfeld had, in a manner of speaking, drunk the Kool-aid of righteous certainty. As Josh Marshall laid out (in far better prose), it's not just Rumsfeld. It's all of them.

Our country is led by people who have a righteous certainty in their beliefs. People to whom facts and data are irrelevant to the truths that live in their own hearts. Anyone who disagrees with them is, by definition, acting on bias or ideology alone, because the Truth is as the Bush administration decrees.

I have met people like this before. Talked to them, argued with them, spent years learning how they think. Talk to perpetual motion enthusiasts and Young Earth Creationists long enough, and you'll start to understand the Bush Administration mindset. Especially the Creationists.

It's not a problem to discard data and expert opinion when it contradicts the Truth, because that data is flawed and those experts wrong...by definition. Bush will follow this path to the bitter end, and I sincerely doubt anyone can sway him. Because he believes, to his very core, that his policies will work. And no data, no facts, no expert can make him believe otherwise.

This administration certainly believes in"faith-based" solutions -- to the economy, foreign policy, Saddam's WMDs, the environment, to everything really.

And I'm afraid Morat is right. Despite all evidence that nearly every policy position they hold is unpopular and is leading to a fiscal, foreign policy and environmental disaster, they won't stop pursuing these policies until they are fired by the American people -- hopefully in 2004.

We just have to hope we can all hang on until then. We've got a lot of bridges to rebuild -- and not just in Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 10:35 a.m. CDTComment

END OF THE AMERICAN CENTURY? 09-03-03

Billmon, in a fascinating post, suggests that, through their dogged pursuit of this war and the chaotic aftermath, W and the boys have just undone -- and officially ended -- the American Century:

Power, a good friend recently remarked, is an odd thing -- it's most impressive when it isn't being used. A wise hegemon goes to great lengths to conceal the true extent of its power. It always leaves something in the tool kit, so to speak, so that enemies and allies alike can never be sure exactly what's in there.

But the Bush Administration has let the cat out of the bag. It has exposed to the world the limits of U.S. military power -- both ithe size of the forces (divisions, troops) and the relative ineffectiveness of those forces on a complex social and political battlefield like the one America faces in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Even more to the point, Bush has signaled that the financial and political burdens of unilateralism are simply too great for any U.S. administration to carry for long. Forced to choose between greater mobilization at home (more troops, less tax cuts) and compromise abroad, Bush appears to have opted for the latter.

These events no doubt will be noted, and closely studied, by friend and foe alike.

This is really quite an interesting and provocative idea. Through their arrogance and desire to show the unilateral power of the United States, W, Cheney and the Neocons have unintentionally demonstrated the basic limits of U.S. power. Our military, no matter how impressive, cannot occupy and bring peace to a nation like Iraq by itself.

One could also easily argue they've made the world a much more dangerous place in the process. We can no longer bluff our way through major crises by threatening to use our military power.

I suspect that's likely to be the major lesson that comes out of this war -- at least for people who are willing to be honest with themselves about it anyway.

Posted by Tom at 8:48 a.m. CDTComment

LYONS:"INVENTING A NEW METAPHOR IN IRAQ" 09-03-03

Gene Lyons
September 3, 2003

Inventing a New Metaphor in Iraq

Remember moral clarity? Not long ago, anybody who suggested that attacking Iraq might create worse problems than it would solve was dismissed as a cowardly moral relativist who couldn't distinguish good from evil.

To President Bush and the visionaries who sold him and the nation on"preemptive" war, everything was melodramatically simple. Saddam Hussein was a wicked tyrant whose removal would bring tranquility to the Middle East. Because Saddam was (and is), in fact, a murderous gangster, arguing against the war required counting past two, a degree of sophistication deemed decadent and unpatriotic.

Writing recently in the American Prospect, Jason Vest quoted"a very senior national security official" earnestly telling him before the war that"Americans would be welcomed in Iraq, and not with a fleeting shower of goodwill but with a 'deluge' of 'rose water and flowers' that would last in perpetuity." Such statements were almost as common before the war as warnings about Saddam's"weapons of mass destruction."

With relative ease, Iraq would be turned into an Arab Switzerland. Best of all, a veritable gusher of Iraqi petrodollars produced by the entrepreneurial skills of returning Iraqi exiles would pay for it. Vest had asked the unnamed official, a man with no military experience, what he thought of a cautionary report from the U.S. Army War College.

Entitled"Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario,"it emphasized the need for careful pre-invasion planning it said the Bush administration, in its ideological auto-intoxication, hadn't undertaken."Without an overwhelming effort to prepare for occupation," it concluded"the US may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making."

The official smugly debunked the Army's warnings. He was particularly dismissive of Army chief-of-staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, as"bullshit from a Clintonite enamored of using the army for peacekeeping and nation building and not winning wars." Shinseki was forced into retirement after angering Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld by telling a congressional committee that hundreds of thousands of American troops would be needed to to occupy Iraq for the forseeable future, perhaps as long as a decade. Other naysayers, reports Col. David Hackworth in his syndicated column, are being purged by"Rummy's" civilian ideologues--most of whom have never heard a shot fired in anger.

President Bush pronounces his faith unshaken, although he no longer expects it to be easy. Willpower and sacrifice are now required. Nor will the occupation pay for itself. The cost of putting Iraq's infrastructure back in working order, civilian administrator Paul Bremer told the Washington Post last week, was"almost impossible to exaggerate." His best estimate was"tens of billions of dollars."

At the White House, it's still thought decadent to count past two. It's all terribly simple to Bush: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, evildoers vs. freedom fighters, an action/adventure film scenario. Speaking to the American Legion on August 26, the president described al Qaeda's religious zealots and Saddam's Baathists as one and the same:"They know that a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a further defeat for their ideology of terror," he said."They know that the spread of peace and hope in the Middle East would undermine the appeal of bitterness, resentment and violence. And the more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become. Freedom is a threat to their way of life."

Three days later, a truck bomb detonated at one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines, killing Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim and 125 of his followers--the most ominous in a series of sickening atrocities. Hakim had returned from exile in Iran urging forbearance toward the American occupation. A U.S. Marine major offered the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid three suspects:"former Baath Party operatives working with foreigners, rivals of Hakim within the Shiite community and his former allies in Iran seeking 'some sort of retribution.'" Out in the street, Shadid wrote, some shouted and others whispered theories that ran the gamut of possibilities--Sunni Muslim militants hostile to Shiites, Iran, Israel, the United States and Hussein loyalists."

Others blame Saudi, Syrian, and Palestinian extremists."America considers itself the superpower of the world, but here it is powerless to keep any semblance of order," a Baghdad elementary school teacher told the Los Angeles Times."The Americans fired our police and our army. Now there is no security and foreign terrorists are coming across our borders."

Meanwhile, the same ideologues who predicted a cakewalk in Iraq have changed metaphors. Iraq has become"flypaper," a killing ground to which Arab terrorists--evidently a finite number in their theories--are inexorably drawn.

Nobody mentions moral clarity anymore.

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

EXHAUSTED 09-02-03

I just finished my sixth hour in the classroom today. I'm exhausted. I don't know if I'll be blogging anymore today. I've got to recuperate.

As usual, I had a good time. I enjoy it -- especially the give-and-take with my students -- but it really is exhausting.

My Tuesdays really are a beast this semester.

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

UP-IS-DOWN-ISM RUN AMOK 09-02-03

You really should read Josh Marshall's Washington Monthly article about the"Post-Modern President." It's quite good.

I'd say more but it's a busy day folks.

Posted by Tom at 3:22 p.m. CDTComment

THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LOTT AND BELLESILES CASES 09-02-03

I do find interesting two comparisons between the two cases. The historians, after the Bellesiles evidence began to come apart, went into the evaluation of his writing with zeal and care. By contrast, American criminologists, while a few of them have written critically of More Guns, Less Crime, have simply had no public role in pursuing the question of Lott’s unethical behavior in attributing his purported survey results to other parties and in promulgating statistics for which absolutely no documentation can be produced. The compilation of that record has been left (so far as I know) to two people, and you know who they are. The historians seem to have different standards from the criminologists who should have been involved in compiling that record but were not. (I apologize if I have overlooked some relevant writing by American criminologists. I am assuming that some mention of it would have found its way into the Lambert web site.)

The other salient difference is that the institution that housed Bellesiles when he did his alleged research ultimately did the responsible thing and got a third-party, totally professional evaluation of it for public distribution. But neither the University of Chicago, nor Yale University, nor the American Enterprise Institute, where at various times Lott did and published his work, has lifted a finger (so far as we now know) to help clarify the record for public consumption.

I do find it fascinating that after listening to all the sound and fury over Bellesiles that we don't have the same about Lott. And, if you recall, by now Bellesiles was in serious trouble. I see nothing like that going on with Lott.

Of course, I suspect Lott's studies are no longer even read by serious criminologists who know he's just a pro-gun shill who will claim anything apparently to advance that cause. I'm not even sure if he was ever viewed as much of an authority on anything by real criminologists. I don't know enough about the field to tell you.

Unfortunately folks, as you well know, the damage is already done. We've got right-to-carry laws in the vast majority of states (mine being one of the notable exceptions of course) and there's not much we can do about it at this point.

I just wish, as Molly Ivins so memorably suggested a few years ago, these folks would be required to publicly identify themselves to the rest of us. She suggested they wear a beanie or a cap with a propeller on the top or something so the rest of us could avoid them and therefore remain safer.

Alas, no progress on that last bit of reform yet it appears.

Update: I just would like to point out that I'm not arguing here that Lott was really that influential in getting these laws passed. Read the post carefully folks. That's not what I'm saying.

I'm just pointing out that the battle, unfortunately, has already been lost. As my pal ArchPundit puts it, Lott is just a tool for the NRA -- and a fairly minor one at that.

I just thought I should clarify that point.

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

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH MECHA? 09-02-03

As David Neiwert and Ted Barlow attest, there isn't much to it at all. Furthermore, as someone who at least has a passable reading ability in Spanish, I can translate this supposedly racist slogan another way.

Here's the slogan:

Por la Raza, todo. Fuera la Raza, nada.
Righties such as Mickey Kaus have been arguing this should be translated as:

For the Race, everything.
For those outside the race, nothing.
They've therefore attacked Cruz Bustamante as being part of a"racist" and exclusionary group back when he was in college.

As Neiwert points out, this is an intellectually dishonest translation of the slogan. Neiwert provides the following translation for it:

In the service of the race, everything
Apart from the race, nothing
I would even argue for a third potential translation that, like the group's current slogan ("La union hace la fuerza" or"Unity creates power”), emphasizes racial unity:

In the service of the race, everything.
Outside the race, nothing.
I think the reference here is one of unity and hispanic consciousness -- again, like the current slogan for the group. In other words, if you're helping your people, that's good. If you're not, you're achieving nothing for them and you've lost your identity in the process.

As Neiwert and Ted suggest this whole thing is just another vain attempt to distract folks from Arnie's significant and current ties to an even more objectionable group, U.S. English.

Should we therefore be surprised that Republican partisan shills like Insty are pushing this foolishness?

Of course not.

[Links via Atrios]

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

A POTENTIAL HUMANITARIAN DISASTER 09-01-03

Atrios points us to this frightening story from, ugh, Drudge.

I'm with Atrios, I hope and pray this is NOT true:

SOLDIERS and civilians in Iraq face a health timebomb after dangerously high levels of radiation were measured around Baghdad.

Levels between 1,000 and 1,900 times higher than normal were recorded at four sites around the Iraqi capital where depleted uranium (DU) munitions have been used across wide areas.

Experts estimate that Britain and the US used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armour-piercing shells made of DU during attacks on Iraqi forces.

That figure eclipses the 375tons used in the 1991 Gulf War. Unlike that largely desert-based conflict, most of the rounds fired in March and April were in heavily residential areas.

DU rounds are highly combustible and tiny particles of the radioactive material are left on the battleground.

If inhaled the material can attack the body causing cancers, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects - none of which will be apparent for at least five years.

Veterans of the first Gulf War believe that DU exposure has played a role in leaving more than 5,000 of them chronically ill and almost 600 dead.

The Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific body, described America's failure to confirm how much or where they used DU rounds as an"appalling situation".

...

He said:"Really these things are dirty bombs. Exactly the sort of device that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair keep talking about being in the hands of terrorists."

How's that for absolute incompetence?

If true, this is our fault -- entirely. If you recall, I talked about this before the war and worried aloud about it.

Sigh.

If anyone can find me a better source than Drudge for this story, I'd appreciate it. I suspect someone's preparing to break the story and Drudge just got wind of it.

That, after all, is what Drudge does for the most part. He's essentially a journalistic parasite.

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


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