Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Don't you know there ain't no devil.
Just God when he's drunk.
--Tom Waits, "Heart Attack & Vine"

A very quick google turned up only one site covering this that wasn't a right-to-life-related site. It's a chilling story because it happened in Austin, a college town and a relative liberal oasis in the Texas desert. It caught Planned Parenthood completely off-guard.

Another important story that has been picked up is a recent series of reports published by the Toledo Blade about Tiger Force, an elite platoon in Vietnam created to counterattack the Viet Cong guerrilas. It's a remarkable series that deserves more attention, especially these days as the struggle against a fierce insurgency continues.

Josh Marshall ferrets out a really curious piece of information from the big story of the day, Gen. (Ret.) Jay Garner's interview with the BBC, criticizing the planning for post-war Iraq (for which he became the fall guy). Someone "at the highest level" told Rumsfeld to to tell Garner to fire Tom Warrick, a state dept. guy who was an author of the "Future of Iraq" group, which predicted much of what has befallen Iraq since the boy king declared "major combat operations over."

Might that someone have been Dick Cheney? He consistently is found to be at the bottom of every disaster that befalls the other and me.

For instance, there's many, many mind boggling nuggets about the disastrous lack of foresight in the recent George Packer story in the Nov. 24 issue of The New Yorker that I mentioned earlier this week. Here's a truly illuminating one about Cheney:

"To this day, key policymakers maintain their faith in the Pentagon's original plan. According to a senior Administration official, not long ago in Washington, Cheney approached Powell, stuck a finger in his chest, and said, 'If you hadn't opposed the I.N.C. [Iraqi national Congress] and Chalabi, we wouldn't be in this mess.'"

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Cutting and pasting his way to oratorial greatness.

Although some see desparation in the GOP ad, as I noted in the Nov. 22 post, I seen an indication that President Rove knows no bounds in his consolidation of power. They have no shame and can sink to remarkable depths, as they did in the Saxby Chambliss ads in the 2002 election, attacking a man who'd lost an arm and both legs in Vietnam by intimating that he's soft on terrorism. Imagine what they'd do to Dean, or even Clark.

E.J. Dionne knows this. In an atypically smoldering column in today's piece, he takes Democrats to task for not getting the fact that the game has changed.

He writes, "The battle over a Medicare prescription drug benefit proves that Republicans are ruthless and determined and that Democrats are divided and hapless. Republicans have changed the rules in Washington, but some Democrats still pretend to be living in the good old days.

"...What Democrats failed to understand, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in an interview yesterday morning, is that Republicans 'are on an ideological march. They have no intention of playing fair. They want what they want when they want it.' And they get it."

Joe Klein, in Time, takes a similar route in his column this week.

"The week's events illuminate a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans on domestic policy. The Democrats are boxed into complicated and unpopular positions because they tend to stand on principle—although the principles involved are often antiquated, peripheral and, arguably, foolish. The Republicans, by contrast, have abandoned traditional conservativism to gain political advantage (with the elderly, for instance) or to pay off their stable of corporate-welfare recipients."

Interesting cover story in Time this week, actually, "George Bush: Love Him or Hate Him." Fascinating Time/CNN poll in the issue as well.


Warren Spahn is dead. The winningest left hander of all time, and he didn't start in the Bigs until he was 26 because of his years in the service, including The Bulge and Ramagen, where he received a battlefield commission.

Mr. Steinbrenner, will you please come down off the ceiling now!

Monday, November 24, 2003

If it's still on newstands, read a fascinating "Letter From Baghdad" by George Packer in the Nov. 24 issue of The New Yorker. It (at least you can see the slide show, if not read the whole story) includes this quote from a 29 year old Charlie Company commander named John Prior: "We'd been planning this war since freaking 12 September, and it might have helped if someone had drawn a map before the war and figured out where everyone went."

It's a fascinating piece of reporting. If it shows up on an archive, I'll post a link.

Authorities are now retracting the report that the two GIs from the 101st Airborne had had their throats slit by an Iraqi mob. Nevertheless, the fact that Mosul -- a northern Iraqi city that should be a relatively welcoming place for the U.S. -- is now the scene of increasing attacks is ominous. One theory I've heard is that the military authorities have run out of money for paying off the locals so sentiments have changed abruptly.

The usually sharp Jack Shafer, it seems to me, has it wrong on this one. The reason most mainstream news organizations have not picked up the story of the "leaked" memo written by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith is that it simply wasn't new information. Just rehashing of already discredited raw intelligence. In fact, I think it's a sign that the Bush administration's habit of repackaging nonsense and passing it off as critical news that supports their policies is simply not working anymore. News organizations have been burnt too often and are now arching a cynical eyebrow at the latest "leak" of "classified information." And, so, here comes Newsweek with a biting dismissal of Feith's document [credit where credit is due, the link comes from Shafer's own Slate piece].

Closer to home -- literally and figuratively -- is another story I can't provide a link to. Entitled "The $44 Trillion Abyss," from the Nov. 24 issue of FORTUNE, it chronicles the story of a research study commissioned by the lamented Paul O'Neill, to deternime "How prepared was the nation today to pay all its future bills." The study, which calculated -- conservatively -- the cost of baby boomers beginning to retire in the next five years while there are fewer workers to pay for ballooning Social Security and Medicare bills, was never released. One reason for the silence -- Paul O'Neal has been replaced by the more politically sensitive John Snow since "No savvy administration power player would dare point out, right in the middle of tax-cut season, that there was a huge hole in the country's finances -- a $44 trillion hole." Larry Kotlikoff, one of the researchers (and head of the economics dept. at Boston Universtiy), calls it the "great Treasury cover-up."

"The gap between payments and income came in at $44.2 trillion," according to the report. "Think about $44 trillion for a moment. It's probably the biggest thing you've never heard of -- and certainly the biggest number FORTUNE will publish in its pages this year. It's more than four times the size of our GDP, and 1-1/2 times the size of the entire world's GDP...

"Just to be clear, that number is not a bill that comes due on a certain date. What it shows is the debt that would accumulate over years of deficits if we continue as we are. It is an honest measure of the inexorable pressure on the government's future ability to spend. this amounts to a massive weight on the economy.

"Worse than that, it's getting bigger. Every year the government sits on its hands, that $44 trillion grows by about $1.6 trillion. Remember Kotlikoff's generational accounting technique estimates the present value of our future needs. It's exactly like saving for retirement -- the later you start, te more you have to save each year. So if nothing is done this year, the gap will widen to nearly $46 trillion next year."

Meanwhile, at least the drug companies and private insurance companies should do fine

Saturday, November 22, 2003

"Iraqis who were outside the Palestine Hotel at the time of the attack there said the donkey there had started so violently after the first volley of rockets singed his backside that he upset the cart, toppling the launcher onto its side, spilling the battery onto the street and disrupting the firing mechanism. Outside the Italian Embassy, Iraqis said the donkey there had begun munching on the hay, exposing the rocket launcher before it could fire."

At least we know now that the Iraqi donkey contingent can be counted on as allies

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Leave no Pharmaceutical Co. behind passes the House...barely.

Word was, Daschle wasn't going to filibuster this wacky bill, another one written by the GOP behind closed doors, allowing the full House only a few days to decide on a 1,000+ page piece of legislation, but given the close House vote, he may be emboldened. Especially in light of the fact that cracks are appearing in the GOP congressional facade.

But...We all new the Republicans cynicism know few bounds, but this is really incredible:

"'Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists,' the type says. 'Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others.' The word 'terrorists' turns red."

Do you think when Bush finally has to debate the poor Democratic nominee, Bush will turn to his opponent, and, with that trademark furrowed look of concern he has, ask, "So, when did you stop abetting terrorists?"

Of course, there's no reason to worry if you haven't done anything wrong.


For those of you who can't get enough of the 2003 MLB season -- particularly Game 7 of the ALCS -- you can thank Roger Angell for another warm hearted but sharp look back. Angell's prose is so elegant, it's worth a read, baseball fan or not.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Lord Charles Powell, a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Thatcher and chairman of Atlantic Partnership, writes in today's Wall St. Jrnl opinion page:

"The heart of the problem is that many people here [in Britain] feel their destiny is in the hands of an untrammeled U.S.; yet Mr. Bush has not succeeded in conveying his overall strategic vision, whether in going to war in Iraq or in discarding such icons as the Kyoto Protocol, the comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the International Criminal Court or a host of other treasured diplomatic tombstones each with its band of ardent supporters. The sense of being swept along by an alien force that we cannot control is unsettling and causes resentment."

No need to worry, oh British friends, we feel much the same way.

The Bush administration continues to stumble around like a drunk who's lost his car keys, going up to strangers to ask for a ride home. First, the UN said "I told you so," and quietly demurred. Now he may or may not be going to the EU and NATO.

Why NATO would agree is unclear. "Nato [sic.] has already proved its willingness to act outside its traditional sphere of operations by taking a role in Afghanistan. But to allow it to deploy in Iraq would mean getting the approval of all 19 Nato allies including France, Germany and Belgium, all staunch opponents of the war."

Curious, that certain factions of ex-military and the neo-cons have been attacking Wesley Clark and his supposition that modern warfare must be fought through international coalitions, and for the supposedly poor manner in which NATO brought down Milosevic. I won't try to improve on Fred Kaplan's astute take down of the facile New Yorker story, but call me paranoid because I sense a certain coordination on the attacks on Clark. At least I feel reasonably sure he won't break down in tears up in New Hampshire.

Eliot Spitzer, on why states' Attorneys General have to take the lead in protecting the public.

"'If I allow someone the power to determine my happiness, that's not something I want to do,' he said. 'I have to put myself first.''' Pathetic.

"Meanwhile, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (24-for-30, 314 yards, two touchdowns) picked apart the Giants defense, completing all 10 of his second-half passes."

The Vega will be attending a (as Madame Cura would put it) MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) sales conference over the next few days and won't likely be posting too much this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Every day, yet another example of the lack of forsight, planning, common sense shown by the Bush postwar "plan." This is astonishing.

"Experts long feared the collapse of Saddam's rule could lead to the kind of scientific brain-drain the United States tried to prevent as the former Soviet Union collapsed. But the Bush administration had no plan for Iraqi scientists and instead officials suggested they could be tried for war crimes."

John Burns, the Times reporter in Baghdad before and during the war (he was never embedded), returns to Iraq after several months. His dispatch is both hopeful and full of concern.

There's good reason for that concern. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the "coalition" should an Islamic government be set up and Sharia law enacted. The key thing is to ensure that a constitution is drafted first and that it include guarantees for human rights and women's rights. The whole thing will have been a disaster if those rights aren't established.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Here, here. The once great liberal icon, The New York Times, is more and more becoming like The New Republic, a place for self-hating liberals to talk to themselves.

But it really is absurd to compare the hatred wingnuts felt (feel) for Clinton and Rodham to the anger liberals feel toward Bush & Co. The Wall St. Journal has a 17-volume set of books devoted to Whitewater, for chrissake. The wingnuts hated Clinton because he was, they felt, illegitimate (they despised Bush I, but certainly felt a great patrician like him should not be chased from office by a bubba). And Clinton's effective ability to coopt Republican issues and turn them leftward further enraged them. Liberals have, for the most part, gotten over Bush's legitimate illegitimacy, and instead are genuinely aghast at where he is leading the country through his policies, rather than his libido of which there may be none...for sex anyway; war is a different story.

Another reason to throw your hands up in disgust. This is brilliant, using kids and AIDS as a strategy to maneuver around soft-money bans. You got to hand it to the Republicans. Their cynicism knows no bounds.

George Bush and Dick Cheney, the patron saints of redactions, really won big on this one. And the survivors of 9-11 victims, as well as those of us who live in or near major terrorist targets, are the losers. We will never know what he knew and when he knew it, and the 9-11 commission will issue a final report that will lack teeth. That was the goal of the administration and the Republicans on Capital Hill all along.

And, of course, New York continues to get the shaft on counter-terrorism funds.

"Even the office of Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, voiced concerns over the amount. Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki, said that "the appropriations do not fully recognize the risks to New York.'

"'Again, we urge Congress to adopt a threat-based formula to appropriate Homeland Security dollars,' she said."

And meanwhile, even a few Republicans are starting to get nervous about the suddenly fevered pace for turning over power to Iraqis. It's starting to sound like "declare victory and get the hell out."

"'To announce withdrawals when the number of attacks and deaths of American military are going up is not reasonable or logical,' Mr. McCain said in an interview. 'If the American military can't do it, then certainly half-trained Iraqis cannot.'"

Instead, we're calling in air-strikes. This strikes me as self-defeating, particularly if the military finds itself forced to hit what few economic drivers there currently are in the country. Apologies, dear readers, for all the links to the Times, but I'm finding little of interest regarding this development in the Post or on such usually great sites as Inteldump and Juan Cole.

"The eloquence would be more impressive if there were any reason to suppose that Bush thinks words have meaning. One test of meaning is the future: what the words lead to. As even some admirers of the speech point out, the details of this "forward strategy of freedom" are missing, except for pursuing our current military adventure in Iraq—which was sold to the country on totally non-Wilsonian grounds. But meaning can also be tested by looking at the past. Eloquence is just a hooker if it will serve as a short-term no-commitments release for any idea that comes along." Kinsley on Bush's "empty eloquence."

Also in Slate, Daniel Gross on hating Bush but soaking up his tax cut. I think Gross is being a little too facile. There is an interesting trend out there -- which Krugman has written about at great length -- of voters' increasing tendency to vote against their own self-interest. In the last election, much was talked about Republican wins in Mississippi and Kentucky, when fat cats like Haley Barbour were elected by a largely working poor electorate. There was little mentioned of New Jersey, where wealthy suburbanites voted largely Democratic. In other words, the working poor in the South elect politicians who want to reduce taxes on the wealthy while subsidizingg their state shortfalls through cuts of social services and higher rates on regressive taxes such as sales and payroll; and in wealthier Northern suburbs, voters go with politicians who -- if given the chance -- would raise their taxes to pay for services those voters may never need, and for estate taxes to which those voters would be some of the few to be subject.

It would take a wiser sociologist than me to explain it.

There's a curious little nugget in Jackie Calmes "Washington Wire," in today's Journal:

"RISING DEFICITS stir concern among Americans and administration officials.

"Though a White House strategist says the chances of rolling back tax cuts are 'zip,' 41% of Republicans call that 'a good idea' in order to reduce the deficit and finance domestic priorities. Amid signs that prosperity is back, the number of Americans citing the budget as the top economic problem creeps up to 16T from 9% just after Bush took office.

"Bush aides eye savings in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid [italics mine] in the budget due in February. One possible blueprint: a recent House effort to offset drug-benefit costs by finding $132 billion of entitlement savings. Democrats plan to embarrass Bush when the federal debt ceiling must be raised again in the spring."

Ah, just a few short years ago, we had a surplus large enough to actually believe that "saving social security" and medicaid were feasible. Now the thing that goes bump in the night -- the Bush administration -- will be looking to bleed them to death.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Ah, dear readers, my apologies; I have been shamed by one faithful reader who pointed out that I haven't written anything in a week.

It's true. But things have been busy here in Vega land and, unlike some other bloggers, I do have a life and, oh yeah, a day job.

And there has not been much to write about. After all, things are going so well in the war on terror (more on that CIA report here).

As for President Rove, unbowed by unfavorable reports put out by his own staff, he wants the Amurcin people to see the unvarnished truth of what's happening in Iraq. So why not "Bush TV." Thanks to "The Progress Report" from The Center for American Progress for the link.

But today is rife with goodies. There is the great lesson in American civics going on in the senate today, as Republicans mount their brave 30-hour "Talkathon" to protest, as Al Hunt writes in the Journal today, "the greatest caludron of hate since Father Coughlin: anti-Catholic, anti-Baptist, anti-life, anti-woman, anti-black, and anti-Hispanic." Fascinating. Republicans blocked over 60 Clinton nominees who weren't allowed a floor vote. Democrats are filibustering, or threatening to filibuster, six.

Of course this isn't about civics, the courts, or religion. Most voters don't pay any attention to this stuff. But it's red meat for party activists on both sides of the aisle. Republicans understand this. That's why they packaged this thing specifically for the unbalanced FoxNews. It doesn't get much better than that.

And lest we forget that at this great turning point in the history of mankind -- when we are beset by threats from our enemies, both rational and irrational -- the Senate is bravely doing it's part to help us kill ourselves, as Elizabeth Kolbert illustrates in this week's New Yorker. She mentions that ten Democrats stood with their Republican brethren to kill the McCain/Leiberman bill, and to further lie to the American people that there is no "consensus" on global warming and on our complicity in raising the temperature. Interested in who those ten were? The list includes that great statesman and orator, Sen. Byrd of W. Virginia, who so bravely stands up to the president on Iraq since he knows he's covered his ass with who really matter to his political future, the W.VA coal companies.

King coal. Salon has an important story on the Bush administration's attack on mining experts and regulators who are trying to avert a major coal slurry disaster in Kentucky. The story concludes:

"Meanwhile, Jack Spadaro's fate sits in the hands of MSHA's deputy assistant secretary Correll, who's weighing the superintendent's appeal of his termination notice. Spadaro doesn't expect any sympathy from Correll, the target of one of his whistle-blowing activities.

"Spadaro is just a few years from retirement and he stands to lose his pension. 'I've been in federal government for 27 years, and this is the most lawless administration I have ever seen," he said. "They care nothing for the rights of their employees. They certainly care nothing about enforcing the laws they are charged with enforcing, and they run roughshod over anyone who might try to get them to obey the laws.'"

Yes, back to my favorite sport of kicking them when they're down. A McNabb vs. Limbaugh update: It's McNabb six, Limbaugh zero.

The Onion has a scoop on a blogger's worst nightmare. Tom Tomorrow on the heroism of conservative bloggers.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

To paraphrase Claude Raines, "I'm shocked. Shocked! To find that politics are being played here!"

As "The Bride" in "Kill Bill" would say, "Hmmm." Why is it that every time you read about some unsavory character in the middle east, Richard Perle's name comes attached? Josh Marshall has an interesting theory regarding the backstory to this report.

Two links from Amy Sullivan today. First, the sad irony of Bush's signing ceremony (Eschaton comments even more pointedly). And, secondly, a short review of Clark's performance on that stupid "Rock the Vote" which I didn't see (like nearly every one in the universe, I haven't watched a single Dem debate -- to me, it's like watching a spring training second team game).


I agree with Harvey Araton, it's ridiculous that Donny Baseball is even being mentioned as a successor to Torre. But, Harvey, wait a minute, no one in the Yankee organization that I've heard is talking about Mattingly superceding Willie Randolph as the most likely candidate to be Yankees manager in 2005. Least of all Mattingly. The NY press has always had a crush on Mattingly. That said, if he can make Soriano into a spray hitter who doesn't swing at crap outside the strike zone, Mattingly would deserve to be canonized.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"You're either with us, or you're against us." Zbigniw Brezinski takes a look at the curious historical background for President Flightsuit's favorite mantra, and what it means as it is applied to foreign policy today. Lenin used the phrase, "he who is not with us is against us" to marginalize the social democrats and to indicate that they should be dealt with accordingly.

Today, "[t]his phrase in a way is part of what might be considered to be the central defining focus that our policy-makers embrace in determining the American position in the world -- summed up by the words 'war on terrorism.' War on terrorism defines the central preoccupation of the United States in the world today, and it reflects in my view a rather narrow and extremist vision of foreign policy of the world's first superpower, of a great democracy, with genuinely idealistic traditions.

"The second troubling condition, which contributes to the crisis of credibility and to the state of isolation in which the United States finds itself today, is due in part because that skewed view of the world is intensified by a fear that periodically verges on panic that is in itself blind. By this I mean the absence of a clearly, sharply defined perception of what is transpiring abroad regarding particularly such critically important security issues as the existence -- or the spread or the availability or the readiness -- in alien hands of weapons of mass destruction."

Thanks to Josh Marshall for steering the vega to Fareed Zakaria's column in the Washington Post today, concerning the administration's plans for Iraqification. According to sources in the White House, Bush has been getting very pissed off about the daily horrors coming out of Iraq and is demanding a plan to turn the whole mess -- from security to political control -- over to the Iraqis on an accellerated timetable. That's something that everyone professes to want happen, from Karl Rove to Jacques Chirac to Dennis Kucinich (what a trio!).

The administration thinks we're naive. Bush, of course, wants US troop levels down -- way down -- by summer of 2004 so that the Iraq bad news doesn't play a part in the election. His hope is that once most of the troops are gone, and it's Iraqi policemen, rather than members of the 82nd Airborne who are dying, the press will stop reporting on the disaster.

After all, how many reports do you see coming out of Afghanistan these days.

He's like an exterminator who goes into the attic to remove a wasps' nest, riles up the wasps, lets them start buzzing around the entire house, and then leaves, saying, "glad to be of service."

Writes Zakaria, "There are no shortcuts out. Iraq is America's problem. It could have been otherwise, but in the weeks after the war the administration, drunk with victory, refused to share power with the world. Now there can be only one goal: success. The first task of winning the peace in Iraq is winning the war -- which is still being waged in the Sunni heartland. And winning it might take more troops, or different kinds of troops (send back the Marines). It might take a mixture of military force and bribes -- to win over some Sunni leaders. But whatever it takes, the United States must do it. Talk about a drawdown of troops sends exactly the wrong message to the guerrillas. In the words of one North Vietnamese general, 'We knew that if we waited, one day the Americans would have to go home.'"

Is there a pattern exhibited by what's going on in Fallujah? First, there was invasion lite -- simply avoid anything that impedes the rush to Baghdad. Then there's the attempt to "win the hearts and minds." When that proves ineffective, finally, there's overwhelming force.

Even Stanley Kurtz can't abide by the administration's attempts to spin the news in Iraq.

Geez, this CBS/Reagan thing isn't worth the kilobytes to even comment on. Except to say it's another victory for the doctrinaire conservatives who will not permit anything negative to be said about the patron saint of voodoo economics. But, what did CBS expect, after Fox tried to sue the creator of the Simpsons -- a Fox program -- for making fun of...FoxNews?

Here's a classic case of Washington doing the wrong thing in every way. While we pay lip service to global free trade, while we promise to help Africa emerge from its seemingly intractible poverty, and while we wallow in our growing budget deficit, Washington gives subsidies to companies buying subsidized cotton. Incredible.


My father was a paratrooper in Europe during the winter of the Bulge. Today, he's a devout Catholic who makes a pilgrimage to Lourdes each year. After reading The Boys' Crusade, I now think I understand the connection.


One of the most exciting baseball seasons has just ended (one in which the winner of the W.S. scored fewer runs, had a lower BA, and a higher ERA than the loser...but I digress), but the convergence will continue on these pages. While eager to bore my readers with the latest rumors swirling around the hotstove league, and the latest thoughts on how to make the Yankees bigger, stronger, faster, I direct you to Rob Neyer's column on the long -- and consistent -- history of Yankee hatred.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Boondocks is still trying to get Condi a date!

"...Bush's political handlers know he has been wounded. Yesterday, they were bemoaning the image of the President being at his Texas ranch for a down day between five political events.

"'It would have been a lot better if he'd been at Camp David and could have gotten right back instead of getting ready for a fund-raiser [today],' one adviser lamented."

I never know who's spinning whom in DeFrank's interesting psychological scoops. Is the point here that Bush knew what the dangers were going in, prepared himself for them, and so remains resolved and certain of himself? Or is it that the political side of the White House is beginning to crumble, so "senior administration officials" are trying to distance Bush from the Rovists, who are getting that uneasy feeling during the daily poll watch?

But if Bush -- and by extension Rummy, Rice, and the Rest -- knew what they were getting into, then why such an utter lack of planning for the postwar, as the NY Times magazine corver story illustrates in great detail.

Hope is not a plan. Cliches are not strategy.

Even now, after faulty intelligence was used to get us where we are today, on the ground intelligence in Iraq seems to not be a priority, as Fred Kaplan points out. And the fact that they quickly hid this report indicates that the centralization of information is the goal of the administration -- which makes clear why Bush put Rice in total charge of reconstruction planning -- all the better to control the dissemination of that information. After all, Bush doesn't want his generals unveiling the situation on the ground or questioning his judgment in the media.

Bush won't even allow the dead their dignity. And who knew anybody is getting wounded over there?

In fairness, it seems to be a long-standing policy on the part of the Pentagon to not give the press tours of VA hospitals during wartime, as Lawrence Kaplan believes, during a very interesting interview he gave to Bob Garfield during the Oct. 31 edition of "On the Media." All of the amputees, Kaplan (who was a supporter of the action in Iraq and is continues to be) claims, gives Walter Reede hospital, one of the finest in the world, "the feel of a Civil War hospital."

And then there's the economy, stupid. Bush is crowing, but things may not be quite what they seem. This is the manic depressive economy. Krugman is unconvinced.
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