Monday, September 29, 2003


What would the wingnuts in Congress be doing if this had happened during the Clinton administration? With Janet "Who's your Momma, Newt?" Reno's help, Ken Starr would already be all over this. There would be calls for blood. Claims of treason.

But, at least, the White House press corps seems to finally be getting a bit more aggressive. Ari Fleischer must have watched this and, thought, "whew; glad I'm outta there."

But one has to admire the administration's ability to actually live in the land of Dr. Seusia: No investigation has begun because only the media have brought this to their attention; when someone other than the media investigates and finds wrongdoing, then the DoJ will investigate. Whoa. Once more, I listen to the Bushies and I feel like the Aflac goose.

But I have to ask, why has it taken this long -- the Evans column ran in July -- to even begin to talk about an this crime?

Infuriating, but I think this is one scenario in which the White House can't simply puff out their respective chests and pronounce that these claims are undermining the war on terror. Once again, it is they who are doing the undermining.

But they're circling the wagons.

Friday, September 26, 2003

This is not the country I signed on for.

Are the fire hoses next?

I smell an Ashcroft.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"Even in the catalogue of depredations that is the Bush Administration’s environmental record—a list that includes the decision to reclassify various forms of mining waste as 'fill' so that it can be dumped in valleys and streams; the attempt to open up millions of acres of public lands (including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) for oil exploration; and the so-called Healthy Forests initiative, whose major beneficiary is the logging industry—the President’s assault on the Clean Air Act stands out."

Elizabeth Kolbert examines the Bush administration's curious notion of cause and effect. For instance, praising the Clear Air Act in a speech in which you announce gutting it, and naming "Clear Skies," his sop to midwest power companies.

Speaking of working in a realm outside reality, what was his speech in the UN intended to do? What does teenage prostitution have to do with Iraq? He talks about efforts to stop the proliferation of WMD, yet Bush has refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty. He talks about the good work the UN is already doing in Iraq, and yet they refuse to cede any authority to the UN (nor any security, apparently).


To paraphrase, "The Yankees win the division! The Yankees win the division!" Like Alex Belth and the players themselves, for me, this stuff doesn't get old. Come what may in the post season (and I truly hope it's a Boston/New York ALCS and a San Fran/New York WS), I still love the excitement of watching great baseball played every evening.

That's why I was encouraged to read Alan Barra's piece in the Voice, about the naysayers -- even in New York -- complaining that the Yankees $s takes the fun out of the season. Nonsense. As Barra writes, what are the Yankees supposed to do with all of that sell out crowd money, pocket it or spend it on trying to win? What does Lupika and the other hacks think, that this is a weekend softball game they're playing?

But what a year it was. Wells is definitely not perfect. Jeter's dislocated shoulder in the opener. Steinbrenner bitching. Bernie injured. Rivera injured. Giambi's eye. Steinbrenner bitching. Zim bitching right back at the Boss. No-hit by committee. Rotating right fielders. Weaver's body language. Clemen's odyssey to get to 300 wins. The Red Sox offense. It was an amazing struggle this year, and the Yankees deserved to celebrate the other night. Bring on the Twins, which should be an interesting serious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

How afraid is Rove & Co. of Wesley Clark? Just days after he announces his candidacy, the vast right wing conspiracy has been resurrected. First, there's former Nixon speechwriter, Bill Safire's nonsense that he's just a wedge to kill off the rest of the Democratic candidates to open the field for "Hillary!" In fact, as Timothy Noah points out, the biggest supporters for the "Draft Clinton" movement are Republicans. How seemingly strange.

Not really. Hillary is red meat for the party's wingnuts. She is equal to her husband in getting the party faithful foaming at the mouth. I'll bet she brings in as much money for Republicans as she does so prodigiously for Democrats. And mentioning her diminishes Clark as he looks like a tool for the Clintons machinations.

Next come the attacks on Clark's veracity, a la Al Gore. The thinking in the White House must be that chuckling that your opponent is making things up worked pretty well the last time, why not try it again? And, of course, Fox, the Weekly Standard, Sullivan and the rest lap it up and distribute the bull.

It's going to be a very nasty election, as Republicans themselves see Bush as increasingly vulnerable.

And Calpundit, via Talking Points, asks why the White House is so forthcoming, suddenly, with phone logs. Can we see Cheney's calls around the time he was convening his energy task force?

I guess Max Cleland, who writes a powerful indictment of Bush's war, andwho I believe lost a variety of limbs in Vietnam (and who was successfully labelled unpatriotic by his Rove-supported oponent for his Senate seat), didn't get the memo.

Monday, September 22, 2003

It is so dispiriting. Bush has an opportunity -- a second one, in fact -- to act like an ally, not a bully. Instead, it sounds like he's going to back to the UN and say, basically, that he's right, the rest of the world is wrong, and they'd better pony up the cash by way of apologizing for not following his "leadership." I know Chirac and the French are being equally irresponsible, but France is not the UN. Germany has shown recently that they're willing to let bygones be bygones and provide support in Iraq. So have other countries that had opposed the unilateral invasion.

But that's not Bush's way. In only a week or so, he's gone from a "plea" for international help to a demand for it. No, for Bush, demanding "my way or the highway" is both his natural inclination (which is remarkable for a man so given to mediocrity and failure throughout his life) and a way to play to his base. Pleas are for sissies.

It's so sad. In some ways, I should be enjoying watching Bush, Cheney, and the neocons hoist on their own petard, but failure is not an option. Because, as Josh Marshall writes, Bush's failure is our failure.

Josh, curiously wasn't quoted in Michele Goldberg's piece for Salon this week. It seems like she spoke with just about every other liberal hawk who supported the war back in March. Again, dispiriting. I, too, am not making any mea culpas. At the time, I thought Bush was right to demand the UN enforce its resolutions, but wrong to do it without international support. Nevertheless, I also felt that our army couldn't spend six months to a year massed at the Kuwait/Iraq border, while inspectors finished up (as we now know, they wouldn't have found anything, but I seriously doubt that would have stopped an invasion).

The UN has always waited too long to act (Rwanda, Bosnia). And although Saddam was bluffing, he wouldn't be as soon as the sanctions were lifted. But, like Jonathan Chait at the New Republic, I'm not as confident as I once was in arguing that.

And that's the issue now. Because it's not just the liberal hawks who are uncomfortable and vaguely embarrassed. Because the administration lied about the pretex for war and bungled estimating the costs for reconstruction, the next time there is a Rwanda, Bosnia, or Somalia, the American people will oppose the intervention. The unintended consequences of trying to reshape a region by force.

Another unforeseen consequence that liberals like myself now find themselves grappling with after the attacks on the World Trade Center is the whole notion of when -- if ever -- "forceful interrogation," or even torture, is justified. It's worth reading the entire article (which unfortunately, the Atlantic expects you to actually go to a store and pay for), but here's an interesting interview with the writer, Mark Bowden.

Bowden's conclusion, I think is the right one, but it certainly is murky and puts a lot of strain on the interrogator. Basically, that while these kinds of practices should be considered illegal and should be universally condemned, there are going to be situations where they are justified. The classic "ticking bomb" situation.

The trouble is, Bowden notes, that while countries like Israel and even Germany are trying to grapple with this in public discussion, the Americans don't want to talk -- or even think about it. That's unhealthy, literally and figuratively.

I don't usually get too worked up about what ex-cons do when they get out, but this is sick. Something tells me this little publicity gag will not work.

Friday, September 19, 2003

News flash.

The Man in Black—is that really who you are?
I was wearing black clothes almost from the beginning. I feel comfortable in black. I felt like black looked good onstage, that it was attractive, so I started wearing it all the time. And then in 1969 I wrote a song called Man in Black, in which I pointed out that there are a lot of things wrong in my country, a lot of hypocrisies, the Vietnam War, all that, you know, that all these things could be corrected if we turned it over to the people, and one of those people is me. And I point my finger at myself: when you see me, I'll be the man in black, one of those responsible. And that kind of became my flag bearer, that song. And I've worn that mantle ever since.

Do you feel that same way about this country?
Yeah. Uh-huh.

Do you watch the news?
Yeah, quite a bit.

Do you feel pessimistic about the way things are going?
I just wish we would ... I wish we would ... mmm. Not going to get into that, Lev."

From Lev Grossman's Johnny Cash, conducted on July 25.

This should help morale: A GI suffers a grenade attack, ends up having his foot amputated, spends four weeks in a military hospital, then gets billed for his food?

While they're paying for their food, corporate boards and the politicians who love them aren't paying for anything:

Grasso...$139.5 million in accrued benefits
Koslowki...$71 million last year at Tyco, "while allegedly using the coporate treasury as a personal piggybank -- and cutting jobs and losing shareholders' value."
Eisner..."nearly a billion dollars of compensation over the past decade."
Barad...$431 million when she was fired from Mattel.

According to Albert Hunt in yesterday's WSJ (sorry, subscription required), "Mr. Grasso's confusion occurred when he looked at other CEOs who have made out like bandits -- and a few who are. In 1980 the average CEO of a major American company was paid 40 times more than the average worker; today it's about 400 times as much. If the average worker's pay had gone up as much over the past two decades, it would be more than $160,000 a year. Median pay for the CEOs of Fortune's 100 largest companies rose 14% to $13.2 million last year, while everything else -- jobs, stock value, profits -- was dropping."

And Bush wants to widen that divide, pushing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will increase after-tax income for millionaires by more then 5%. That's double what middle-income taxpayers will get. And it gets better when you realize that even the toys of the rich are getting cheaper, care of the U.S. gov't, as congress, following the administration's lead, has "quadrupled write-offs for owners of luxury SUVs to $100,000. Thus, over the next decade American taxpayers will lose $1.3 billion to subsideize more gas-guzzline Lincoln Navigators and Cadillac Escalades."

And that's money that we'll need in Iraq where we are trying to make sure we have enough oil to feed the maws of those ridiculous behemoths.

"Defenders of the current system arrogantly assume Americans have little problem with rewarding success, figuring someday they'll be on the right side of the widening income and wealth gap. This view is shared by George W. Bush, who dropped talk of corporate malfeasance and accountability since it disappeared from the headlines a year ago."

Thursday, September 18, 2003

So goes the last vestige of the bloom. But I wonder. Steve Case is made out to be such a fool, but with all due respect to TimeWarner investors (a good many friends work there and they're still hurting badly), where would AOL be if they hadn't bought/merged with the media company?

What's going on here? Is the Bush admin. not synchronizing message? Three possibilities that I can think of. One is that, like last summer, Cheney -- clearly deranged by his obsession with Iraq -- is talking out of turn and trying to force his boss's hand. Unlike last summer, though, force his boss to do what? A second possibility is that on Sunday Cheney was simply trying to salvage his own tattered reputation for truth, but it failed. Or, third, the whole thing was scripted. Cheney reinforced for the 70% of Americans who think Hussein masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center, and then -- faced with guffaws by anyone paying attention -- Rummy, Condi, and Bush-boy did the ol' plausible denial thing, knowing that most Americans are, in fact, not paying attention. And don't really care, anyway. I think the third scenario is the most likely.

So, if it's never been used, especially immediately after 9-11-01, why would it threaten US security if it was repealed? Ashcroft is another member of the Bush administration who seems to be increasingly off the rails.

Geesh, even his bro' thinks he's a nitwit.

Clark is in. Does this mean, poor Dean, Kerry, and Rove? I'm not sure, but I'm staying tuned. Thanks to Talking Points for the link.

This is out of my purview, but here's a couple of more nuanced views of Gibson's "The Passion."

What is with the Brits? When he locked himself in a block of ice in Times Square, New Yorkers -- even the tourists -- sort of stopped, looked at the guy, shook their heads, and moved on. In London, they're trying to kill him.


The "Rocket" passes "Old Hoss."
Isabel is a long way from here, but it's getting "">windy. She's supposed to make a turn in our direction tomorrow.

So goes the last "">vestige of the bloom. But I wonder. Steve Case is made out to be such a fool, but with all due respect to TimeWarner investors (a good many friends work there and they're still hurting badly), where would AOL be if they hadn't bought/merged with the media company?

What's going on here? Is the Bush admin. not synchronizing message? Three possibilities that I can think of. One is that, like last summer, Cheney -- clearly deranged by his obsession with Iraq -- is talking out of turn and trying to force his boss's hand. Unlike last summer, though, force his boss to do what? A second possibility is that on Sunday Cheney was simply trying to salvage his own tattered reputation for truth, but it failed. Or, third, the whole thing was scripted. Cheney reinforced for the 70% of Americans who think Hussein masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center, and then -- faced with guffaws by anyone paying attention -- Rummy, Condi, and Bush-boy did the ol' plausible denial thing, knowing that most Americans are, in fact, not paying attention. And don't really care, anyway. I think the third scenario is the most likely.

So, if it's never been used, especially immediately after 9-11-01, why would it threaten US security if it was repealed? Ashcroft is another member of the Bush administration who seems to be increasingly off the rails.

Geesh, even his bro' thinks he's a nitwit.

Clark is in. Does this mean, poor Dean, Kerry, and Rove? I'm not sure, but I'm staying tuned. Thanks to Talking Points for the link.

This is out of my purview, but here's a couple of more nuanced views of Gibson's "The Passion."

What is with the Brits? When he locked himself in a block of ice in Times Square, New Yorkers -- even the tourists -- sort of stopped, looked at the guy, shook their heads, and moved on. In London, they're trying to kill him.


The "Rocket" "">passes "Old Hoss."

Monday, September 15, 2003

Lies and evasions.

Liberal Oasis has a complete rundown of the Sunday talk shows, including a long autopsy of the weekly "Meet the Press" stroke a Republican, take down a Dem. What liberal media? Tim Russert is truly amazing. I recall him moderating a debate during the New York senate race. Out of the blue, he asks Hillary Clinton if the good people of New York should trust her when she had the nerve to defend her husband in the face of his infidelities. It was such a weird, raw question. She looked more vulnerable than I'd ever seen her; she almost lost it. I seem to recall a gasp in the audience, but that may have been me. I think it ended up getting "Hillary!" a lot of votes.

What liberal media? What is this guy doing on the op-ed pages of the New York Times (and The Atlantic, for chrissakes), and why is he allowed to publish such drivel? I don't see the Weekly Standard giving Paul Krugman a column.

Or maybe the National Review could use a strip.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Seen on Foxnews (We spin. We decide.): In the upper left of the screen, superimposed over the inevitable waving flag, "The cost of freedom;" in the right of the screen, over the shoulder of the airbrushed blond host, the name of the show, ""Cashin' In."

Perfect. Fox and its viewers seem to believe that the "cost of freedom" is something that should be paid to them. After all, nobody's "cashed in" more from the war in Iraq, than Roger Aisles and Foxnews Except maybe Howard Dean.

The "Rummy wants to spend more time with his family" countdown continues

"'Robert McNamara for four years of Vietnam going down the toilet was absolutely convinced with a religious zeal that what he was doing was the right thing,' said Thomas E. White, a retired Army general who was fired as Army secretary this year by Rumsfeld. 'It wasn't until 30 years later that it dawned on him that he was dead wrong. And I think you have the same thing with Don Rumsfeld.'

"McNamara served as secretary of defense in the 1960s under Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson."

Rumsfeld's relationships with the White House, Congress, and the military brass, never -- especially the last two -- very warm, have cooled considerably.

"Unhappiness with Rumsfeld flared on Capitol Hill months before the invasion of Iraq, when Warner stood up at a meeting of Republican senators with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and complained that Rumsfeld was neither cooperating nor consulting with the Senate. Warner told Card that he had never seen anything like it in 25 years in the Senate."

And senior military officers, current and retired, aren't too pleased with him either.

"Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a former head of the U.S. Central Command who also served the Bush administration as Middle East envoy, sharply criticized the Pentagon's handling of postwar Iraq in a speech before the U.S. Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Association 10 days ago. He received an enthusiastic response from hundreds of military officers present."

There's particular unhappiness -- and nervousness -- since the word is troops who may be going home soon will have to return to Iraq in 2004. "'The last time we had people doing combat tours every other year was Vietnam,' one defense expert said. 'The impact on soldiers and families was great. A lot of good junior officers and mid-grade NCOs [noncommissioned officers] walked. This decimated the rising leadership and broke the force.'"

Now, six months from now, if the security situation in Iraq is stable, the power's on, and there's a functioning quasi-democracy (at least a functioning gov't.), Rumsfeld's -- and probably Bush's -- hide will be saved.

The irony, as the story concludes, is that in all likelihood that may be the case. But it won't have been Rumsfeld's refusal to look reality in the eye (that must be why he squints so much), it will have been because of the ingenuity and sweat of the 122,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq.

But will Congress and the U.S. public have the stomach for another six months? $87 billion here, $87 billion there, it begins to add up.

An interesting question, with over $400 billion in deficits this year, in the trillions in just a few years, just as the first of the baby boomers start looking for their entitlements. Apparently that's the point. Krugman has an interesting, important, and deeply disturbing view of the Supply Side Trojan Horse being used by Bush and his pals, Stephen Moore and Grover Norquist, to bleed the non-defense portion of federal spending dry. Krugman is a vital voice in the wilderness these days. Pay attention. We're getting lied to and, unless you're among the richest few percentages, screwed.


The curse of Ben Affleck.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

"I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgement Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God." -- Johnny Cash, from the liner notes to "Unchained," 1996.


Another, more sobering quote:

"One of these years, and probably sooner than you think, the financial markets will look at the situation, and realize that the U.S. government has made inconsistent promises—promises of benefits to future retirees, repayment to those who buy its debt, and tax rates far below what is necessary to pay for all of it. Something will have to give, and it won’t be pretty. In fact, I think the United States is setting itself up for a Latin American-style financial crisis, in which fears that the government will try to resolve its dilemma by inflating away its debt cause interest rates to soar.
You read it here first." That's from Paul Krugman's new book, a collection of his often blistering columns, "The Great Unraveling, Losing Our Way in the New Century."

But if foreign capital flees, who will pay for the war?

"For most of this year's second quarter, the United States was waging a war in Iraq, with help from the British and not very many others. There were demonstrations around the world against the war.

"But guess who was financing it? The world was. Figures released this week showed that private foreign citizens bought an unprecedented $129 billion in United States government and agency securities. Official accounts, mostly central banks, added $43 billion more." Foreigners now own 38% of outstanding Treasuries, double the figure of ten years ago. We desperately need that capital because of the monstrous deficit the Bush administration and his flunkies in Congress have created.

Bush asked for "sacrifice" in his speech the other night. Who's doing the sacrificing here? Obviously the troops. Oh, yeah, and the unemployed, laying down their livelihoods to help the economy roar!

Oh, and anyone who is in the path of a hurricane this fall. According to a story on "Marketplace" last evening, the price of the cheapest plywood has gone from $15 a sheet to well over $20. Why? The war in Iraq. The army has cornered the market in plywood for the reconstruction efforts.

Meanwhile, Once Upon a Time in Iran... The Bushies sure know their priorities.

"Mr. Rumsfeld, who was so alarmed about Saddam's W.M.D. before the war, is now so nonchalant that he said he did not even bother to ask David Kay, who runs the C.I.A.'s search for W.M.D. in Iraq, what progress he'd made when meeting with him in Iraq last week.

"'I have so many things to do at the Department of Defense,' Rummy told The Washington Post."

The good news seems to be that Bush II has proven Bush I right. Marching on Baghdad has it's consequences.


During last night's Yankees/Tampa Bay game, did I hear chants of "Yankees Suck?" I'm pretty sure I heard it -- and the game was in New York. Boston fans have earned -- 86 years worth of earning -- the right to chant that. TB fans have not.

But TB does have quite a centerfielder. Although he and Hideki Matsui are virtually identical stats-wise (and Matsui is an important contributor to a winning team), I predict that Devil Ray will get the Rookie of the Year award. There is no way the writers are going to pass over a ball player with the name of "Rocco Baldelli."

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

$1 million a day. That's the cost of the interest payments on the Bush Budget Deficit (BBD), according to the Concord Coalition, as reported by PRI's "Marketplace." Here's more fascinating data points from the Concord Coalition. It is an absolute disaster; one that is far more dire than what we faced following the Reagan administration -- at least Reagan eventually did see the need to raise taxes.

In my lifetime of 40 years, we have had exactly one extended period of peace and prosperity, balanced budgets and wealth creation, and a tide that really did lift all boats. Clinton's eight years. It's fun to plant that fact in the face of republicans and watch them sputter. Of course, they're often insane.

Re: Alice in Wonderland Nation. "Liberal Hollywood" gave us "Wag the Dog" and now, DC 9-11. I didn't see it as I don't get Showtime (and now, never will), but a widow of the World Trade Center attacks did. Here's her review.

According to Kristen Breitweiser, an activist whose husband died in the towers and who has long been attempting to shame the Bush administration into coming clean on what happened before and immediately after the attacks, "The film 'DC 9/11: Time of Crisis,' which premiered Sunday night on Showtime, is a mind-numbingly boring, revisionist, two-hour-long wish list of how 9/11 might have gone if we had real leaders in the current administration. This film is rated half of a fighter jet -- since that is about what we got for our nation's defense on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001."

Here's her full review.

Again, didn't see it, but according to Kristen's review, Rumsfeld looks like a bungler that day (of course, Bush was a bungler that day, but the film doesn't dwell on that, apparently). The Rumsfeld is Out Countdown continues. Oh, but I forgot. Criticize Rumsfeld and the terrorists win!

Worth reading is Michael Ignatieff's piece in last Sunday's Times Magazine. His thesis is that Bush doesn't have a doctrine -- let alone a policy -- for when to intervene and when not. Iraq was a neocon whim, and that's why it's a mess and why the admin's stated reasons for the war and benchmarks for success keep changing. There was no reason -- just naked massing of power in the region. According to Ignatieff, the Iraqis knew this, the fundamentalists knew this, maybe even some in the administration knew this. Trouble is, no one told the American public. It sure isn't about the war on terror, regardless of Bush's ongoing lies.

The ultimate result for Bush's failure to level with the public regarding why we went in, why we're staying, and what it will cost may be an Vietnam-like softening of support for fixing what we've now broken. Another failed state to join Afghanistan and Somalia.

On a related note, Dalia Lithwick, as usual, has cogent analysis of the Patriot Act this week, cutting through the emotion to get at what is significant about its provisions. That's important, because it has had fewer people who have read it -- including no one who voted for it in Congress -- than "Finnegan's Wake."


The trouble with our worthy opponents' theory, is that given Ruth's proclivities, he certainly wouldn't have cursed Frazee for selling him to the Yankees, he would have been thrilled to be going to the Big Town.

I'm not saying anything about the Sox. Boston has been a worthy opponent this year, making the season exciting and fun right down to the wire. But are there storm clouds, or birds or prey, on the horizon? Between the Yanks and the Sox, it's all about the bull pen, and both have been shaky.

Friday, September 05, 2003

It is truly Alice in Wonderland Nation we're living in these days. The Red W. Bush has expanded the federal government by over 1 million people since taking office, according to this report from the Brookings Institute.

"Even as Democrats and federal employee unions battle the Bush Administration’s proposal to put thousands of federal jobs up for competition with the private sector, the government’s largely-hidden workforce created through contracts and grants has reached its highest level since before the end of the Cold War. According to new estimates generated on behalf of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Public Service, federal contracts and grants generated just over 8 million jobs in 2002, up from just under 7 million in 1999, and 7.5 million in 1990.

"When these “off-budget” jobs created by contracts and grants jobs are added to the “on-budget” headcount composed of civil service, uniformed military personnel, and postal service jobs, the “true size” of the federal workforce stood at 12.1 million in October, 2002 up from 11 million in October 1999. The 2002 true size of government is still smaller than it was at the end of the Cold War in 1990, but is only smaller because of a reduction of nearly 1 million civil service and uniformed military jobs over the 1990s, almost all of which were cut at the Departments of Defense and Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

While Depts. of Defense and Homeland Uber alles Security have contributed about half of those jobs, the other half have nothing to do with terrorist threats. Well, at least he's focused on jobs. But, of course, the Congressional budget office expects the deficit to hit $480 billion next year, and 1.4 trillion over the next ten years. The Man Who Would Be President has managed to build the largest bureaucracy since the end of the Cold War. He's beaten his old pappy's record of $290 billion. I knew he could do it. Yippee. We are dealing with the most irresponsible administration in modern times.

Some energy policy. Turns out that a member of Cheney's secret panel of energy experts included the guy, Pete Burg, whose company, FirstEnergy, was responsible for the massive blackout last month.

It's a crazy, mixed up world. Two oil guys in the White House, a Republican lock on both houses. Is it any wonder, it's now two bucks a gallon, at least in this part of the country.

But it's Friday. Flood the Zone! Here's how it works: Go to Notgeniuses and click on the link to Flood the Zone. Each Friday, they choose an important topic -- this week it's the Patriot Act, last week was Bush's awful stewardship of the environment. They then give you tips on how to write an effective letter to the editor, and factoids to provide content. But here's the genius part. They then ask you to go to Bush re-election site and click on Action Center. The Bush team has a feature that takes your zip code, gives you a list of newspapers (and, not coincidentally, Talk Radio) in your area, and then sets up an email for you that you can send directly to the editor of said newspaper. Thanks George! Careful, though, don't be confused by this.


The Milwaukee used car salesmen proves what we'd always suspected...he's dumb as a 2 x 4.

But at least the long national nightmare that is Sausagegate has finally ended.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

It was ticking pretty loudly by Sept. 10, 2001, then stopped, and now it's getting louder. I'm talking about the Fire Rumsfeld Countdown. Phil Carter notes the significance of former Pentagon officials -- who are in a position to know (unlike me) -- in their criticism of the post war Iraq tribulations.

And the criticism doesn't end with Rumsfeld. It seems that Paul Bremer and his civilian administration are despised by the grunts on the ground. Juan Cole quotes an email from a soldier in Iraq that was sent to the Australian program, AM. Juan has the same problem I have getting links to individual posts (Blogger only links back to a month's worth of archives), so I'll quote, but his blog is always interesting.

"The same report says a soldier at the al-Rasheed Hotel sent them an email that is scathing about the civilian Bremer administration. He said that the civil administrators are chasing skirts and 'hooking up with nice-looking gals from US and Iraq,' and that they worry about 'running out of Coke and Diet Coke to go with their steak and crab leg dinner.' Meanwhile, the soldiers 'look like hobo's and live like pigs'. AM paraphrases, 'Those within the Mr [sic.] Bremer's authority have created a sterile ivory castle that distorts their view of the country.' The message signs off, 'there's no Iraqi representation at the levels making decisions on Iraq's future. The message we are sending is pretty confusing to the Iraqis. Their provisional government even has to come to Saddam's old palace for meetings. Go figure.'"

I am no expert on Viet Nam, but I know enough to sense deja vu.

It also seems that the UN has no appetite for working with Bremer, either. Besides, even if the UN does agree to provide aid, they're not going in unless the security situation improves. And with US troops stretched thin already, that doesn't seem to be a near term situation.

Oh, and $1.7 billion and $680 million. Respectively, that's the estimated value of Gulf War II contracts awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Haliburton, and the Gulf War II contracts awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to Bechtel, Haliburton's chief competitor. The governments of France and Germany (and the UK, I would think), must be thrilled by that.

Juan also has some interesting insights on John Kerry and his so-called "waffling" on Iraq. If Kerry is waffling, then a lot of us have been. I supported ousting Saddam, I just thought the way the Bush administration went about it was insane, specifically, 1.) hyping the WMD, when everyone pretty well figured the nonsense about being 45-minutes from a mushroom cloud was bogus; 2.) creating a link between Saddam and al qaeda, which they knew -- they knew -- didn't exist; 3.) failing to make an honest effort to get a UN mandate and broader international support; 4.) not having enough troops to go in, not planning for security following the collapse of Baghdad, and attempting to do everything on the cheap. I think that's what Kerry is saying and I think that's about right.

Of course, regarding point #2, politically it may not have been a mistake. Many people still believe the road to the World Trade Center was through Iraq.

Maureen Dowd must be reading my blog. [ed. You're nuts. You have never used the word "jejeunicity."

Listening to the latest gyrations of Bush and Rumsfeld (where's Cheney these days?), I keep thinking of the Neil Young and Crazy Horse song that they perform in the great, great movie about the band, "The Year of the Horse," directed by Jim Jarmusch. The song's title? "You're a Fuck Up!"

Speaking of which, here's a great interview of Paul Krugman (I couldn't find a permalink, so if you can't find it, it will be in the archives for the week of Sept. 1, I'm guessing).

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Josh Marshall, in the Washington Monthly, has an interesting view of the ongoing mendacity of the Bush administration. Basically, they don't lie so much as they make predictions that can't be confirmed since they're...predictions...usually based on ideology and politics rather than facts and expertise.

"Bush and his administration...specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion. In his State of the Union address last January, the president claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda and a robust nuclear weapons program, and that therefore we needed to invade Iraq. Even at the time, many military and intelligence experts said that the president's assertions probably weren't true and were based on at best fragmentary evidence. But there was no way to know for sure unless we did what Bush wanted. When the president said on numerous occasions that his tax cuts--which were essentially long-term rate reductions for the wealthy--would spur growth without causing structural deficits, most experts, again, cried foul, pointing out that both past experience and accepted economic theory said otherwise. But in point of fact nobody could say for sure that maybe this time the cuts might not work."

When the predictions don't come true, they spin reality. The tax cuts are working, the president says. He feels good about the economy (well, he did in fact, create one job). As no WMD is found in Iraq, the Bushies claim all they said was that Hussein "had" a weapons program. Of course he did, but that's not what they said.

But this tendency is not post-modern -- or even French-like -- as Marshall asserts, rather it's a not uncommon practice of fundamentalist religion. Whether it's the 10 commandments, the Bible, or Islam, adherents believe the primacy of their central text and if reality doesn't conform, then change the reality.

It's no where more apropos than in the recent claims by Condi Rice and the Rummer that what's going on in Iraq is identical to postwar Germany. Simply not true (and if it were, why not think about that scenario before the occupation).

Tom Tomorrow provides a visual for this theory. Follow the arrows until it all makes sense.

I was thinking about that as I read this review of a book on life in Kabul and the culture of shame. It illustrates the ability to follow a religion or ideology all the way to intellectual suicide. Thanks to AL Daily for the link.

At some point, though, reality is going to catch up with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. But they and their cohorts can level a lot of damage between now and November 2004.

Speaking of Iraq, this site provides some interesting perspective, courtesy of talking points. Cole echoes the Post story mentioned above, how the Pentagon has tried to keep the number of wounded in Iraq quiet, and why. It is not heartening.

Monday, September 01, 2003

This is just special.

If true, Gerald Posner's blueprint of the al qaeda, saudi arabia, and pakistani nexus is truly disturbing (thanks to Atrios for the link). Those 28 pages that the White House won't release get more and more intriguing.

I've been wondering if things in Afghanistan and Iraq are truly as dire as they seem, and whether Rumsfeld and the other suits at the Pentagon have truly screwed things up, or if it's just a media concoction. Nope. It appears to be true. In Friday's Wall Street Journal, Jackie Calmes writes,

"More critiques of Pentagon's postwar planning comes from within.

"A report on Afghanistan from Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute says Pentagon was so intent on 'no nation-building' that postwar plans haphazardly 'grew from the needs in the field rather than any concept or vision in Washington, D.C.'

"Private experts whom the Pentagon earlier sent to review Iraq will return in November. In July, the team under former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre warned of chaos unless the U.S. improves security and gets international help. Since then, troop deaths are up and bombs have hit Jordan's embassy and a U.N. building."

The car bombing may prove a turning point, and not a good one. So far, the Shiites in southern Iraq have been cautiously supportive of the U.S., and, perhaps more importantly, have not been determined to exact revenge on the Sunnis for years of oppression. That may now change. And if that happens, we will never have enough troops to maintain any security in the country, and certainly no member nation of the UN is going to send troops into the mess. If that's the case, the Bush administration's sudden change of heart regarding the UN -- if that's what it is and not, in fact, a rogue diplomat's frustration at the incompetence of his bosses -- may be too late.


For those of you who don't live in the Northeast, you missed quite a series between the Red Sox and Yankees up in that old ballpark on Yawkey Way. It wasn't always pretty baseball, but it was ferociously played by both teams. It's said that the Rivalry no longer exists for the players, just the fans, but the way these guys play when they get together, it's not just a regular season game. And Clemens winning his 100th game at Fenway -- 100th -- was sweet. He'd been shaky in his previous start, looking all of 41, and the emotion of pitching his last reg. season game in Boston could have made him overthrow, but he was brilliant. And the Red Sox fans, after seven years of loud loathing for Clemens, decided to remember the 13 years of nasty pitching he provided the citizens of Red Sox Nation. It was a great moment.

Speaking of Red Sox nation, here's a fascinating piece of anthropology by David Halberstram. It goes a long way in explaining the mentality of the Sox fan. For me, it was summed up in 1999, when the Yankees and Sox met in the ALCS. With the Yankees up 2-1 in the series, Clemens went into Boston, facing Pedro, and got hammered. The fans in Fenway were delirious. For many Sox fans, that game more than made up for losing the series 4-1.

And it's September. The Yankees, after getting hammered Friday night, are now better off than when they landed in Boston. And, typically, things are getting strange on the fens.
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