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Spencer Blog Archives 6-03

Spencer Blog Archives




Click here for Mr. Spencer's latest blog entries.

DID DON RUMSFELD TAKE ANY U.S. HISTORY IN SCHOOL? 06-30-03

Oh you've got to read this to believe it. Here's what Rumsfeld said in his prepared statement today:

As we celebrate our liberty, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the challenges that our country faced in its early years. It was a period of chaos and confusion. Our revolution was followed by a serious commercial depression. Britain's colonial ports were -- in the West Indies were closed to ships flying the American flag. There was rampant inflation and no stable currency.

Discontent led to uprisings, such as the Shays Rebellion, with mobs attacking courthouses and government buildings. In 1783 demobilized soldiers from the Continental Army surrounded the statehouse in Philadelphia, demanding back pay. Congress fled for more than six months, meeting in Princeton, Trenton and finally Annapolis, to avoid angry mobs.

Our first attempt at governing charter, the Articles of Confederation, failed, in a sense. It took eight years before the Founders finally adopted our Constitution and inaugurated our first president.

You've got to be kidding me, Don. This is about as inappropriate an historical comparison as one could draw. Whatever you think of what the Iraqis are doing to our soldiers, this comparison simply doesn't work. If the British had defeated us in the Revolutionary War and then imposed a government upon us and we had perpetrated irregular warfare against their soldiers, then it might work.

Instead, as we all know, Americans defeated the colonial power and created the government on our own. This comparison of Rumsfeld's is particularly inapt considering we just cancelled local elections in Iraq just last week.

I could be wrong (the period 1783-1787 isn't exactly my precise area of historical expertise) but I really don't recall Shays's Rebellion involving guerilla warfare against the Massachusetts militia that went so far as to involve the killing of militiamen. That's the sort of thing that's going on in Iraq now, Don. At its height, Shays' Rebellion's did involve mobs shutting down court proceedings to stop foreclosures and there was the famous (very brief and fairly bloodless) showdown between Shays' men and the Massachusetts militia but that's about it.

I am very open to correction by historians who know more about this. I'll happily post your responses right here on the old blog if you want to send them in to me.

Now, admittedly, one could draw certain valid comparisons to our conduct during the Revolutionary War. We certainly committed acts against British soldiers during the Revolutionary War that were an awful lot like those that are being perpetrated against our soldiers right now in Iraq but that's not the comparison Rumsfeld was trying to make because it completely invalidates his point.

Is everyone else as appalled as I am that Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, is so ignorant of his own country's history as to think this comparison is accurate?

Can he get away with it because most Americans -- and most journalists -- are equally as ignorant of their nation's history?

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

MARSHALL:"A BETRAYAL OF THE PUBLIC TRUST" 06-30-03

Josh Marshall has the goods on Republicans, intelligence failures, and Republican spy Katrina Leung. The short answer is they've put politics before good intelligence measures at the FBI and are therefore responsible for a great deal of the mess of the last decade. You should read the long version however.

As Josh puts it in the conclusion to this article:

Now we have an actual Chinese spy--charged, though not convicted--who by all indications was funneling money into U.S. campaigns. Her treachery is an intelligence failure that comes on the heels of others tied to similar shortcomings at the FBI, and one in which vital secrets were given to a power, China, which these same Republicans were saying two years ago posed the greatest threat to the United States. And yet we've not had one hearing. Not one commission. There's been very little coverage in the press, nor is anyone yakking about it on talk radio.

The Republicans didn't create the problems at the FBI. But they've sat on their hands and put politics ahead of the national interest as the scope of the problem and the cost to national security have become increasingly apparent. Not only have they ignored the problem, they have actively sought to shield the FBI from the one reform that almost everyone agrees would make such breaches of national security secrets far less likely. That's not just politics as usual. It's not even garden-variety political hypocrisy. It's a betrayal of the public trust.

It is astonishing to remember all the hyperventilating about the evidence-free Clinton pseudo-scandals with China by Fred Thompson and other folks who, despite their partisan designs, should've known better. Today we have a genuine spy who is a major Republican fundraiser and nothing, not a thing in the press. No hearings. No investigation.

Again, to quote a well-known recently-exposed Republican hypocrite,"where's the outrage?"

Ah, that"liberal media!" If the last five years or so haven't proven the"liberal media" accusation to be an absolute and utter lie, nothing will. You have dishonest idiots like Ann Coulter who will peddle this"liberal media" b.s. to willfully ignorant mouthbreathers with gun racks and"Charlton Heston is my president" bumper stickers who will, predictably, buy it lock, stock and barrel. Strangely enough, many actually educated Americans buy it too.

Go read the story. And ask yourself why the hell Republicans care so little about intelligence failures and double-agents that they won't have any sort of hearings into the Leung matter. Once again, Republicans have put politics above national security. I'm about to decide that's their modus operandi these days -- not that you could tell it from the press coverage of course.

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Posted by Tom at 6:49 p.m. CDT

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE...NOT! 06-30-03

Kevin has a fascinating post about how the tech geeks of the 90s naively used to think they were the ones making the economy move:

Far from thinking of their wealth as a lucky windfall, the tech geeks I knew were all convinced that they were the heralds of a new world order: they made lots of money because they"got it" and the neanderthals didn't. It was inevitable — and perfectly just — that in this brave new world brainy people would eventually take over everything. How else could it be, after all, in a world so dependent on technology?

Even the stock traders I knew felt much the same way. They weren't just riding a wave, they were causing the wave. Their gains weren't due to luck, they were due to savvy investing and an ability to see the future that others lacked.

It's a fact of human nature that when people do well they invariably attribute it to their own skill, and when they do poorly they attribute it to outside factors. The tech geeks of the 90s were no different.

The hubris here is quite astonishing but, as Kevin explains at the end of the clip, perfectly understandable. After all, this is how the wealthy tycoons of more than a century ago during the Gilded Age felt.

Interestingly enough, working class folks back then believed the robber barons were parasites who were living off the sweat of their workers' labor and were thus contemptible. Working class folks railed against an economy that would reward, well, um, no real work or skill at all. I guess we just don't think of it that way much anymore, do we? Why not?

I guess the same is certainly and obviously true of the internet boom. The internet folks were essentially making no profits whatsoever -- and never did. It was only a matter of time before it all came crashing down when investors figured that out.

Unfortunately, it wasn't their ability at all that made them rich for a short while. Rather it was all just a rather complicated investment pyramid scheme that was destined to fail from the moment of its inception.

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Posted by Tom at 3:02 p.m. CDT

HEY, PHIL CARPENTER IS AN... 06-30-03

artist!

Cool.

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

THE TURNING POINT 06-30-03

Here's a column by Diane Carman by the Denver Post advocating an investigation into how intelligence was manipulated by the administration. What caught my eye was this passage:

Before the war, DeGette said,"both (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and the president unequivocally said there were biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons that were poised to strike and that created an imminent threat."

In fact, when Powell made his dramatic presentation of the purported evidence against Iraq to the United Nations in February, DeGette admitted that she found it disturbing.

The congresswoman, who had voted against the resolution to go to war with Iraq, said Powell raised"very serious questions" about the danger Iraq posed.

She had company. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., called it"shocking."

The public responded similarly.

In the days following Powell's U.N. appearance, polls showed opposition to the pre-emptive war evaporating in the U.S.

Seventy percent of Americans believed that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. Sixty percent thought the country was developing nuclear weapons.

"On that basis, we went out and attacked another country," DeGette said.

It was the rationale we presented to the world for going to war.

"Now, it's becoming more and more clear that evidence of those weapons never existed," DeGette said.

Powell's presentation really was the turning point. Americans believed Powell.

This passage also caused me to review my blog entries on the presentation. (Particularly here, herehere, and here.)

Ahem. Let's just say I was properly skeptical -- and not without evidence. I just actually read the newspapers -- unlike most Americans apparently.

If you recall, at one point I made this comparison:

Of course, to me all this means is that the average American hasn't paid any attention until Powell appeared before the U.N. Powell presented an interesting collection of suggestive evidence (nothing conclusive of course) that Saddam is seeking to evade the U.N. inspectors. What's amazing is that many Americans support this war even if we find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

The American people in this instance remind me of the O.J. jury. They're looking for a reason to believe in this war and they'll take anything, no matter how flimsy it is, and run with it. Americans, like all human beings, want to believe what their government and the folks in authority tell them.

And then later I said this:

The scariest thing of course is that more and more Americans are clearly on board with this lunacy. I think my wife is absolutely right about this. Americans don't want to think their government is feeding them a line of bullshit. It makes them uncomfortable -- and understandably so. It made them feel icky. Interestingly enough, Americans didn't buy what W had to say in the SOTU address. However, they apparently watched the two minute digest of Powell's speech on ABC Worldnews Tonight.

"Aha!," they said."There it is. There's my reason! Now I can support the war. I feel so much better now!"

Now they can happily turn off their brains again. They can pretend this is a good cause and move on.

They won't read the stories in the media raising significant questions about Powell's presentation or anything. They'll head back to their state of blissful ignorance. And the media, happily cheerleading for higher ratings, will go right along parroting the administration line for the next several weeks.

Boy, that last part certainly damn-near tells the future, doesn't it?

So, what's the point of this post? (Other than, obviously, for me to present yet another wearying case of"I told you so?")

Well it's 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.

This IraqWar could backfire quickly on W and the boys and, if public opinion turns on this administration, it's going to be fast and breathtaking.

I'm not saying I see signs of this (although W's poll numbers are back into the upper 50s again folks) but it very well may be coming. The economy is still going nowhere as well, which makes this war look more and more like the penultimate example of this administration's troubling relationship with truth in any form.

If the war is going to become this administration's albatross, I suspect the much-blogged about (by other bloggers)"tipping point" -- the point at which we've lost more soldiers in the aftermath of the war than during the war itself -- very well may be the point at which Americans begin to have severe doubts about the wisdom of the war.

That's the point at which it becomes obvious that W and the boys did a ridiculously sloppy job planning for post-war Iraq.

It's also the point at which the post-war chaos of Iraq looks more like a quagmire such as the Philippine Insurrection or, dare I say it, Vietnam.

As always, we'll see.

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Posted by Tom at 9:08 a.m. CDT

A TRANSCRIPT OF THE RAND BEERS... 06-29-03

interview on Nightline is right here.

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

YET ANOTHER PARTISAN REPUBLICAN RECALL EFFORT IN CALIFORNIA 06-29-03

Here's an interesting column about how the Davis recall effort is the triumph of"single-pocket" politics. There is no grass-roots effort to recall Davis in California, just one, uh, interesting guy with a wad of cash who doesn't give a damn about democracy. O'Rourke even goes so far as to call this only the latest in a series of partisan recall efforts beginning with the impeachment of Clinton in 1998-1999:

Never before has a tax cut been so aimed at a donor base. And what the top 5 percent have to return to the president and his party is less than what he has already given them.

What Bush doesn't give them is much of his time. He spends about 20 minutes at these profligate fund-raisers, be they hot-dog fare, or canapes, raking in record-setting grosses.

Bill Clinton, no slouch at fund-raising, would squander lots of face time, scouting the crowds for new friends.

But Bush is different. It is not that he has more important things to do. Even Clinton had important things to do. It is that Bush is used to being as rich as the company he keeps, and there's no need for him to rub shoulders with his supporters, because he's been rubbing shoulders with them all his life.

Bush's donors are getting what they paid for. Democrats are at a decided disadvantage. They have to not only raise hard-earned money to win, but, like Gray Davis, they have to raise more money to fight partisan recall movements after they do.

And, I might add, the guy behind all of this has even been charged three times with felony car theft. He says all three times were bogus and it appears the last one was genuinely his brother's doing -- but what about the other two a decade earlier?

Now I can easily see once or twice being falsely charged with something, but three times?

I guess it's possible.

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Posted by Tom at 2:34 p.m. CDT

MORE ON DENNIS THE SELL-OUT 06-29-03

Boy, it takes some skill to get boos from a crowd that buys Ann Coulter books.

Impressive.

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

DENNIS IS DONE 06-28-03

Yep, as I suspected, Dennis Miller's career is about done. As TBogg puts it:

So what do you do when your career goes down faster than Ann Coulter at a Heritage Foundation smoker? Why, you sell out completely:

The lunch at the San Francisco Airport Marriott was the first Bush fundraiser to include entertainment. The crowd was placid, listening politely to comedian Dennis Miller as he referred to the Democratic field as “an empty-headed scrum” with debates that look “like Pez dispensers having a séance.”

His performance earned him a ride on Air Force One down to Los Angeles, where he delivered a similar routine but noted the freeway’s “smooth flow of traffic in the illegal-alien lanes.”

That's just the kind of crowd a comedian wants: placid and polite.

"empty-headed scrum","Pez dispensers","illegal-alien lanes". Jesus. I can smell the flop sweat 150 miles away.

I'd feel sorry for Dennis except for the fact that he deserves it.

Dennis, I'm afraid to tell you this but you've become a loser sell-out. Why don't you just hang it up now? If you're pathetic enough to start doing the GOP rubber-chicken circuit, a bullet in the brain might be more merciful than the agonizing spiral that awaits you in the next few months.

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

MODO ON SCALIA 06-28-03

As I know that Maureen Dowd's columns on the Supremes are big favorites of Republican bloggers at HNN, I couldn't help but link to Dowd's latest on Scalia.

Here's my favorite part -- and I think the part where MoDo gets closest to the truth:

Most Americans, even Republicans, have a more tolerant and happy vision of the country than Mr. Scalia and other nattering nabobs of negativism. Their jeremiads yearn for an airbrushed 50's America that never really existed. (The pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, which condemns homosexuality, proves that.) And the America they feared — everyone having orgies, getting stoned and burning the flag — never came to pass.

Nino is too blinded by his own bloviation to notice that Americans are not as censorious as he is. They like the complicated national mosaic — that Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, that Jeb Bush has a Latina wife, that Clarence Thomas has a white wife. Newt Gingrich can leave two wives for younger women and Bill (Virtues) Bennett can blow $8 million on slot machines. Even those who did not like Bill Clinton cringed at Ken Starr's giddy voyeurism.

Justice Scalia may play patriotic songs on the piano, but Justice Anthony Kennedy gave patriotism true meaning in time for the Fourth of July. His ruling eloquently reminded the country,"Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct."

In the immortal words of John Riggins, loosen up, Nino, baby.

In short, Americans have been more tolerant than Scalia and other tight-laced conservatives would like for quite a few decades now. Americans are certainly more than willing to let what people do in their own bedrooms remain their own private business.

I will admit to being mildly shocked that it would be this Supreme Court that would ratify it so resoundingly but, hey, it was long overdue, don't you think?

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Posted by Tom at 6:34 p.m. CDT

I'M SORRY TED 06-28-03

Ted, I'm so sorry you have joined the 400,000 Americans who have lost their job every week for four or five months straight now. We've now got an army of millions of unemployed folks in this country laid off just in the last four months, don't we?

And how long have we heard from W and the boys that"prosperity is just around the corner" -- a year? More?

Regardless, that's not much solace for you, Ted.

Again, I'm sorry. I truly hope it isn't for long.

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Posted by Tom at 3:18 p.m. CDT

AH, THE HYPOCRISY: OCCUPATION FORCES CANCEL ELECTIONS ACROSS IRAQ 06-28-03

We've been down this road a few times before in our history.

From what I recall, it never led anywhere good.

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Posted by Tom at 2:50 p.m. CDT

YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS... 06-27-03

but Colin Powell is trying to convince us that the administration really didn't think that Saddam had any weapons but could have reconstituted them later on -- and that's what the, er, uh-oh. That means the war was unnecessary!

As always, Josh Marshall is right on top of it:

So now the argument is that Iraq hadn't reconstituted anything, but rather that they were holding on to the plans and waiting for the day when they were out of the sanctions box and could go back into the WMD business.

Frankly, I believe that's true. I also thought they must have had some chemical and possibly biological weapons left over from the glory days before the inspectors came in. I still think they may have. And this is one of the reasons I strongly backed the need to threaten force to get inspectors back into the country and quite possibly war to remove Saddam's regime once and for all. As I discussed a year ago, I think that circa 2001 the sanctions were hurting us more than they were hurting Saddam and that time was on his side, not ours.

But this isn't the argument the administration made -- not even close.

If this is what the White House thought, then there was no reason whatsoever to turn the world upside down in order to pull the trigger this spring.

Dick Cheney knew that, of course. Thus the recourse to bogus Niger uranium documents.

Do they really think we're stupid enough to fall for this? We all heard the histrionics and the dire pronouncements!

What a load of, well, you-know-what.

Well, go read Josh's post. I've got to get to bed.

Posted by Tom at 11:06 p.m. CDT

THE GOP CONTINUES TO SCREW THE TROOPS -- AND THEY'RE BEGINNING TO NOTICE 06-27-03

You should read this post by Kos. He talks about how soldiers are beginning to realize that the GOP couldn't give a damn less about them -- because this administration so blithely puts them in harm's way, doesn't want to pay them fairly, and doesn't support programs that help them in any way. The GOP and the folks in this administration would much rather find money for tax cuts for their richest benefactors.

So you think I'm being too tough on W, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and the boys? Well, try this one on for size:

They [the administration] cut the Pentagon's building budget (which pays for things such as barracks improvements, bowling alleys and other quality-of-life improvements at military bases, something that was really important to us soldiers), in order to make room for Bush's tax cuts.

In fact, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee tried to restore $1 billion of the construction money, and proposed paying for it by trimming some of the recent tax cuts for those making more than $1 million. Get this: under Obey's proposal, instead of an $88,300 break, they would've gotten an $83,500 cut.

The Republicans killed the proposal. To Republicans in Congress, $4,800 for their richest benefactors was more important than improving the quality of life of our men and women in uniform.

After reading Kos's post, Morat had the proper response:

Over the last year I've been called a lot of things. Unpatriotic, a traitor (thanks Ann!), and un-American to name a few. I've been accused of even more things, most often a failure to support our troops.

To those people, I have one thing to say: Screw you.

If your idea of supporting the troops is to send them off to fight an unnecessary war (and any war you have to lie to start is unnecessary), and after they performed brilliantly in spite of political interference, leaving them in a hostile country without rest and under constant guerilla attack, and then as a reward for all that work slashing their benefits.....then I certainly don't support the troops.

And I'm willing to bet they wish you'd stop supporting them too.

Indeed.

A NOTE: Well, we've got to get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to drive 100 miles for a swim meet in Nebraska City, Nebraska that has warm-ups at 7:30.

So don't panic if I don't blog at all tomorrow morning and perhaps most of tomorrow afternoon.

As always, we'll see.

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

KRUGMAN:"TOWARD ONE-PARTY RULE" 06-27-03

Krugman's column today is quite interesting. As my regular readers know, I have worried here many times that we are heading towards another Gilded Age in which the government more or less works at the behest of business. Therefore, I can agree with the main point Krugman is making that we are moving towards a period when corporate interests will essentially control the government.

However, I honestly can't quite tell whether Krugman is trying to make a direct historical parallel between Gilded Age politics (his reference to the"McKinley era" is the closest he comes to doing so) and the present political situation. Therefore, I must make the point that the Gilded Age (1865-1900) was not a period of"one-party rule" nationwide. In fact, the two political parties were as closely matched as they have ever been in our history. Republicans won the majority of the presidential elections but it was awfully close. As the Republicans found out in 1884, one ill-timed wisecrack ("Rum, Romanism, Rebellion") could cost you an election during the Gilded Age.

Interestingly enough, I might actually argue that the parallel does work quite well. Like in the Gilded Age, the political contest between the two parties is awfully close right now. As in the Gilded Age, Republicans have the monetary edge due to their parroting of the business line but, if you examine the last several elections, despite this advantage, the raw votes split pretty closely between Democrats and Republicans nationwide as they did in the Gilded Age. Like today, Republicans did ride this astonishing imbalance in campaign funds to a few presidential victories that made the system seem one-sided. However, particularly after Reconstruction, this was not an era of one-party rule nationwide but one that was quite competitive.

I also have to point out that by the turn of the century, Americans became so disillusioned and angry with this unresponsive government of business, by business, and for business that they began to support Progressives in both parties, thus reflecting an entirely different view of the role of government. The public reaction to the business-friendly politics of the Gilded Age is what ultimately led to the rise of liberal politics in the late 1890s and early 1900s during the Progressive Era. Essentially, Americans became outraged at the corruption in the political system and voted to make a change during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Now, let me make myself entirely clear here. I am not saying that I see any sort of liberal tidal wave just over the horizon that is going to ultimately lead to a new Golden Era of Progressive policies and politics in the next few years. However, I suspect most Americans would've said the same thing in the late 1890s as well.

Are Americans going to watch helplessly as their political system completely goes to seed and becomes captured by corporate interests as it was a century earlier in the Gilded Age? Will they decide to get off their duffs and do something about it this time?

Those, my friends, are the essential questions going into this next presidential election year. If you know the answer to those questions, you can predict the future.

I don't, so I won't.

After all, I'm a historian, not a fortune teller.

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

OFFENSIVE MISSILES FOUND IN IRAQ! 06-27-03

And the U.S. sold them to Saddam during the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Oooops.

How embarrassing, eh?

Have you heard much about this in our subservient media?

(Here's the story referred to in the column -- from June 9th!.)

Posted by Tom at 1:24 p.m. CDT

THIS IS... 06-27-03

beyond hilarious.

[Link via TBogg]

Posted by Tom at 11:33 a.m. CDT

THE THREESOME 06-27-03

If you recall, yesterday Clarence Thomas said that he dissented in the sodomy law case because he didn't believe that there was such a thing as a right to privacy.

Atrios points us to this portion of Thomas's confirmation hearings:

Now, Judge, in your view, does the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protect the right of women to decide for themselves in certain instances whether or not to terminate pregnancy?

JUDGE THOMAS: Senator, first of all, let me look at that in the context other than with natural law principles.

SENATOR BIDEN: Let's forget about natural law for a minute.

JUDGE THOMAS: My view is that there is a right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Of course this was back in 1991 when Thomas pretended to have his own beliefs and principles.

Apparently, Thomas now just signs on to whatever position Rehnquist and Scalia have taken on a case.

And he never asks any questions.

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

FOR AN EXCELLENT ANALYSIS... 06-26-03

of the mess that is Iraq, go here. It's a very fair and careful analysis.

I don't expect it to be heeded by W and the boys of course but you should read it nonetheless.

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

FOR MOST OF US, THE BUSH TAX CUT IS BOGUS 06-26-03

This piece by Anna Quindlen gets to the truth of the matter on W's tax cuts. Here's a bit of it:

The much-vaunted Bush tax cut is totally bogus, a shell game in which money is moved from one place to another with political sleight of hand. The bottom line is that for most ordinary people the benefits amount to less than zero. What the Feds give, the state and local governments will be taking away, and then some. Part of that is because of the states’ own foolish budgetary decisions in recent boom times. (Remember the boom times?) But a large part is because the federal government has required the states to provide expensive programs, from Medicaid to Homeland Security, but not provided anywhere near enough cash to help pay the bills.

The linchpin of the president’s education agenda, for instance, which he developed before terrorists made it possible for his administration to dispense with domestic policy—and civil liberties—was something with the catchy slogan “Leave No Child Behind.” It is a program heavy on performance standards that may as well be called “Leave No Child Untested.” But the states have been picking up most of the added costs for the new mandates. Thus your state and local taxes are soaring, and your alleged tax cut merely moved from beneath one government walnut to another. You’ll get a peek, and then it will disappear.

...

No outrage, just anomie. Of course, the real point of the tax bill was to cement the support of the wealthy, who have been the lucky ducks of every Republican administration in recent history (and who donate big to campaigns). Of course, the point of the invasion of Iraq was to make the administration look as though it were doing something in the war on terrorism after it was unable to close the deal on Osama bin Laden. Just as the point of increasing money to libraries is to appear interested in reading, knowing that any increase will merely partially fill the sinkhole made by demands on the locals for services mandated by or cut by the Feds. Bogus, every bit of it. And, sadly, the audience no longer cares.

Give her a gold star! I think Quindlen's been paying attention. Unfortunately, she's right that no one else has been.

Posted by Tom at 6:27 p.m. CDT

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF... 06-26-03

by my fellow Missourian Terry over at the Nitpicker. Go give his blog a perusal.

I especially like this post about Tony Scalia and proper judicial restraint.

So far so good. HNN is still up and functioning.

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

A BIT OF TECHNICAL INSTABILITY 06-26-03

HNN's having a few technical problems at the moment. Hopefully the site won't go down again.

Let me see if this post uploads first.

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

SCALIA IS ANNOYED AT TODAY'S SC RULING 06-26-03

I'm glad to hear it. This creates a rather large problem for W with his religious zealot supporters. Morat, in this excellent post today, puts it best:

On a political level, this is going to catapult one of the GOP's biggest problems into the limelight. Anti-gay bigotry doesn't play well with moderates and independents, and in the light of this decision, Bush's base is going to be clamoring for Bush and the GOP to do something to fix it.

Bush managed to avoid choosing between his base and the moderates during the Santorum flap, but now his base is going to be clamoring for action and results.

I really did wonder how the supremes could argue that in a modern society the government could monitor and regulate your private sexual behavior. Most halfway tolerant people believe this is none of the government's business.

What's hilarious is that it's normally the same zealots who think the government shouldn't be able to monitor who is buying a handgun that think the government should be in the business of policing sexual behavior.

How's that for consistency, eh?

Posted by Tom at 1:24 p.m. CDT

THANKS -- AGAIN! 06-26-03

Just a short while ago, I had my 270,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It was only three days back that I had my 260,000th visitor. I've also had nearly 388,000 hits since I installed my hitcounter last September as well.

Furthermore, I've shattered my daily record for visitors today -- a bit over 4,700 and it's only a bit after 1:00!

Thanks folks! As always, I do appreciate your dropping by. I hope you to give you reason to return -- and often!

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

PULITZER OR NO PULITZER... 06-26-03

it's time for the Times to fire Judith Miller.

Posted by Tom at 11:23 a.m. CDT

DID YOU SEE NIGHTLINE LAST NIGHT? 06-26-03

Rand Beers was on Nightline last night. If there's one person by himself who's going to take George W down, it's Beers. He was in a position to know that this administration was cutting corners on security, screwing up in Afghanistan, and was blowing smoke on Iraq. He also was in the perfect position to know that the war with Iraq was making us less safe, not more.

This is quite a story. NSC people don't work to defeat their bosses. You can tell Beers thinks that W is a menace to the nation and the world, even if he chooses his words much more carefully than that. He felt the nation's security came before his own job.

The fact that Beers is on a Democratic presidential campaign staff tells you that many of the people who really know what the hell they're doing regarding terrorism and foreign policy in Washington consider this an administration of amateurs who are taking great risks with regard to terrorism and doing great damage to this nation's reputation in the world.

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

I HAVEN'T USED THE WORD... 06-26-03

"quagmire" yet to describe Iraq -- but we're getting prettyclose to that now, don't you think?

And I see no signs that anything's going to get better in Iraq any time soon.

I remind you once again that we didn't HAVE to fight this war.

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

AND THE DEATH GOES ON 06-26-03

2 U.S. soldiers were killed today. This just gets more and more sickening, doesn't it?

I'd really prefer to be wrong about this war being a fool's errand but it sure looks like it so far.

Just in case you're becoming numb to the suffering like many conservatives, be sure to visit this page and imagine if that were your son, husband, or father.

Surely Americans are starting to get just a wee bit angry that we fought this war and then apparently had no plan for the"peace" at all?

And I'm getting tired of hearing these are Saddam loyalists who are behind all this activity. We're deluding ourselves if we think that you have to be a Saddam-loving Iraqi to want the U.S. out of Iraq.

I mean, heck, we haven't even gotten the electricity back on yet in Baghdad, have we?

I'm sure your average Iraqi thinks"what use are these guys, they can't even get the electricity back on! I want them out of here now."

Folks, we're in this Iraq mess for the long haul and, despite the rosy scenarios the Bushies have been painting, it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars to do it right -- and we should be trying to do this right.

Do I expect this administration to do that? Well, uh, no. W and the boys have been trying to do everything on the cheap, including homeland security. This administration always seems to take the"penny wise and pound foolish" approach to everything.

However, it will ultimately cost us more money to do it badly than to do it the right way. It's about time for the administration to level with the American people as to what this will cost, how many soldiers will be needed to keep order, and, honestly, raise taxes to cover the bill. I'd be willing to pay more to do it right. Wouldn't you?

And, if you supported this damn war, you'd BETTER be willing to pay up for the reconstruction. You're partially responsible for this mess after all.

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

SHAMELESS INDEED 06-25-03

Go read this post by Digby (permalinks bloggered, scroll down to"Shameless").

Here's just a small portion of this post just to entice you:

You want to run on the war, Maverick? Then maybe you would like to explain to the American people how they're supposed to feel so safe in your big, manly embrace when you obviously let a bunch of terrorists run off with the makings of dirty bombs and huge amounts of fully weaponized bio-chem WMD, right under your nose.

At least we knew where they were when Saddam was in power, didn't we Colin?

C'mon Condi, you assured us quaking Muricans that if we took out Saddam that we'd be keeping the weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Are you going to try to convince us that it was worse to have them in the hands of Saddam than to NOT KNOW WHO HAS THEM OR WHERE THEY ARE?

Go read it now. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by Tom at 10:34 p.m. CDT

OUT OF THE LOOP? 06-25-03

Boy, the noose is tightening around the administration regarding the lie about the Niger uranium. It's becoming quite obvious that the administration knew it was bogus but included the false accusation in a nationally-televised presidential address anyway. In short, the president out-and-out lied to the American people in as bold a way possible.

In his column in The Hill this morning, Josh Marshall quips:

Actually, it’s all fairly hard for me to keep up with. All I know is that under George W. Bush the pundits who had no trouble calling Bill Clinton a liar have suddenly decided lying is a very subtle, hard-to-define, complex matter.
Josh, as a trained historian, also draws excellent historical connections in the article:

Some administration defenders now say that no one involved in writing the speech knew that the documents were forgeries. But it’s pretty hard — scratch that, impossible — to believe Cheney didn’t see the speech before it was delivered. And even though the veep is supposedly trying to build a shadow NSC in his office, it’s still not that big an operation. Could CIA have sent the report to Cheney’s office without Cheney himself getting wind of it?

On June 19th, NPR’s Tom Gjelten added yet another piece to the puzzle. Apparently the intelligence folks even made their concerns known during the writing of the speech. “Earlier versions of the president’s speech did not cite British sources,” a senior intelligence official told Gjelten. “They were more definitive and we objected.”

At that point, according to Gjelten’s source, “White House officials” said “‘Why don’t we say the British say this?’”

The White House disputes Gjelten’s source’s account. But the upshot of the source’s accusation is pretty damning. If true, the White House really wanted to put the Niger uranium story in the speech. But faced with their own intelligence experts telling them the story was probably bogus, they decided to hang their allegation on the dossier the British had released last September.

I’m willing to believe the president didn’t know. Presidents, after all, rely on their top advisors. But it seems clear that many of his chief advisors must have known.

The only other explanation is extreme incompetence at the vice president’s office or a desire to believe that was so great that it overrode all the evidence.

Fifteen years ago, the president’s father was widely ridiculed for claiming he was “out of the loop” on key points about the Iran-contra affair. Now his son and all his top advisers are claiming they were similarly “out of the loop” on a key point about the centerpiece of their entire foreign policy agenda.

"Out of the loop?"

Right.

Let me just state for the record that I didn't believe it fifteen years ago and I certainly don't believe it now.

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

BLAIR: IRAQ SITUATION"SERIOUS" -- NO KIDDING! 06-25-03

W's poodle tells us the situation in Iraq is"serious."

Tell me something I don't know Tony!

BTW, you do remember we didn't HAVE to fight this war, don't you?

Of course, now that we're stuck to the tarbaby that is Iraq, we'd better do it right.

However, I think we can count on this administration to be as successful in dealing with this problem as they have been with nearly everything else.

In other words, they'll screw it up and then pathetically try to blame someone else for it.

Posted by Tom at 2:56 p.m. CDT

NOW THAT'S SOME COPY-EDITING! 06-25-03

Okay, now I've been trying to decide whether I'll keep running Gene's column every week. I had about decided to stop doing it and then the Demozette goes and commits an editing travesty like this on the column I just posted.

Take a look at how they reworded the first paragraph to soften Gene's words and to take out the obvious recent example of W telling a fib and having to backtrack on it.

Here's the original:

According to what Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq's missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. No need to blame looters as Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. (Only days before, he'd claimed they HAD been found.) Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for this epic liar to be appointed president.
Here's the edited copy (isn't an html error in a professional online publication annoying?):

According to what retired Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq’s missing weapons of mass destruction. No need to blame looters as George W. Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for Bush to be appointed president.
Gee, do you think there's a pro-Bush bias at the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette?

I'll be running Gene's columns so you can get Gene's original words (before they go through the right-wing meatgrinder) right here every week folks.

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

LYONS:"BACK TO BASICS" 06-25-03

Here is Gene Lyons's latest column!

Back to Basics

According to what Gen. Wesley Clark told"Meet the Press" on June 15, President Junior may eventually have to resort to the ultimate GOP excuse to explain away Iraq's missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. No need to blame looters as Bush did recently, a preposterous alibi which raised more alarming questions than it pretended to answer. (Only days before, he'd claimed they HAD been found.) Instead, he can blame Bill Clinton, the man whose own extravagant folly helped make it possible for this epic liar to be appointed president.

Host Tim Russert asked Clark about his April 9 column in The Times of London."This is the real intelligence battle and the stakes could not be higher," Clark wrote"for failure to find the weapons could prove to be a crushing blow to the proponents of the war [in Iraq], supercharge Arab anger and set back many efforts to end the remarkable diplomatic isolation of the United States and Britain."

How you can tell Clark's a Democrat, incidentally, is that he thinks alienating the known world is a bad idea. After acknowledging that banned weapons may yet materialize in Iraq, although nothing resembling the"imminent threat that many feared," Clark reminded Russert of something the pundit-fixated like everybody in Washington on Bill Clinton's zipper at the time-had probably forgotten.

"We struck [Iraq] very hard in December of '98," Clark said."Did everything we knew, all of his [Saddam's] facilities. I think it was an effective set of strikes. Tony Zinni commanded that, called Operation Desert Fox, and I think that set them back a long ways. But we never believed that that was the end of the problem."

Back then, Republicans charged that Clinton bombed suspected Iraqi WMD sites to distract the public from his Oval Office sex antics, as if THAT were possible. But it's beginning to look as if economic sanctions, UNSCOM inspectors and cruise missiles may have done the job. (Actually, some defectors, including Saddam's son-in-law, whom he had murdered, claimed the Iraqi dictator had the forbidden weapons destroyed after the Gulf War, which admittedly begs the question of why he refused to prove it.)

Anyway, after Gen. Clark observed that there had been"a certain amount of hype in the intelligence," leading up to Junior's 2003 invasion of Iraq Russert pounced.

"Hyped by whom?"

"I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something," Clark began carefully."There was a concerted effort during the Fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11," he added"to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

"By who?" Russert insisted."Who did that?"

"Well, it came from the White House," Clark said."It came from people around the White House...I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But-I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence...It was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection."

Now in a rational world, the media watchdogs at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out, this would be newsworthy. The former NATO Supreme Com-mander says the Bush White House pressured him to blame 9/11 on Iraq even as the World Trade Center Towers were still smoking. Perhaps because Clark's own political ambitions remain unclear, however, little has been made of the allegation.

Outraged by 9/11, many Americans have been content to let Junior pick the targets. A fawning press corps has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect Bush from the consequences of his dishonesty. The New York Times led its"Week in Review" section with an astonishing piece of equivocation by David E. Rosenbaum arguing, among other absurdities, that if Bush did


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