Sunday, October 31, 2004

Loyaly Oaths

to the Great Leader. What will they think of next?

"I swear to thee, Oh Great W, as master and president of the Homeland, my Loyalty and Bravery. I vow to thee and the superiors whom those shall appoint, obedience until death, so help me God."

Gives you a warm feeling, doesn't it?

No wonder OBL understands him so well.

We have not found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half of which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.

Guiliani goes for the transvestite vote

I think the Suburban Guerilla does a disservice to fresh canine excrement.

I mean, Devine was something of a connoisseur.

Wolfowitz's last stand

I am not entirely sure what to make of the recent New Yorker profile of Paul Wolfowitz. I can't help but suspect that it was cleverly engineered by Pentagon PR flaks, designed to answer critics of the main architect of the war in Iraq and perhaps most responsible for its aftermath. And it seems to me the flaks were taking a calculated risk. The New Yorker has been as sharply ciritical of the administration (in the same issue, "The Editors" voice their collective support of Kerry) as any major magazine. But they must have thought, "If Paul can't make the case for 'G.W. Bush's Grand Adventure', then nobody can."

First, they allow the reporter to follow him to Europe to show that Wolfie, unlike some other people, Remembers Poland.

“Poles understand perhaps better than anyone the consequences of making toothless warnings to brutal tyrants and terrorist regimes,” Wolfowitz said. “And, yes, I do include Saddam Hussein.” He then laid out the case against Saddam, reciting once again the dictator’s numberless crimes against his own people. He spoke of severed hands and videotaped torture sessions. He told of the time, on a trip to Iraq, he’d been shown a “torture tree,” the bark of which had been worn away by ropes used to bind Saddam’s victims, both men and women. He said that field commanders recently told him that workers had come across a new mass grave, and had stopped excavation when they encountered the remains of several dozen women and children, “some still with little dresses and toys.”

Wolfowitz observed that some people—meaning the “realists” in the foreignpolicy community, including Secretary of State Colin Powell—believed that the Cold War balance of power had brought a measure of stability to the Persian Gulf. But, Wolfowitz continued, “Poland had a phrase that correctly characterized that as ‘the stability of the graveyard.’ The so-called stability that Saddam Hussein provided was something even worse.”

Finally, Wolfowitz thanked the Poles for joining in a war that much of Europe had repudiated, and continues to oppose. His message was clear: history, especially Europe’s in the last century, has proved that it is smarter to side with the U.S. than against it. “We will not forget Poland’s commitment,” he promised. “Just as you have stood with us, we will stand with you.”

Never mind we seem to have traded the "stability of the graveyard' for the 'instability of the gravediggers' ball." Better to think of the Holocaust and today's parallels.

Earlier on the day of his speech, Wolfowitz had toured the old city of Warsaw. In ceremonies attended by a Polish military honor guard, he laid wreaths at a memorial commemorating the Warsaw uprising and the monument to the Warsaw ghetto heroes. He laid a wreath, too, at the Umschlagplatz Memorial—the point of departure for some three hundred thousand Warsaw Jews who were transported to the Nazi death camp at Treblinka. Wolfowitz had pillaged the Pentagon library for a copy of “Courier from Warsaw,” the memoir of Jan Nowak, a Catholic who was among the first Warsaw-uprising witnesses to reach the West and testify to the Nazi horrors. In Warsaw, Wolfowitz asked to meet with Nowak, who is ninety. They spoke about the scale of the Holocaust, and about “how terrible it was for the Poles during the sixty-three days of the uprising. Three thousand Poles were killed every day—a World Trade Center every day.

And to those critics who accuse the policy maker with ignorance of Arab and Muslim culture, failing to anticipate the tribalism that fuels, in part, the insurgency in Iraq, we are reminded that Wolforwitz was ambassador to Indonesia. On his way to Poland, he meets with Anwar Ibrahim and Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesians who were once considered the future of liberal, modern Islam. Even more importantly, in the words of the writer, he became Wolfie of Indonesia while serving as ambassador. He went Native.

Toward the end of the second Reagan Administration, Wolfowitz, who was then Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, was offered the Ambassadorship to Indonesia. Wolfowitz had spent more than a dozen years in the policy grind of Washington, and he and his wife, Clare, were eager to get away. Clare Wolfowitz had a particular interest in Indonesia—she’d been an exchange student there in high school, spoke the language, and had made Indonesia her academic specialty; she holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology. (The couple are now separated.) People who have spent much time with Wolfowitz eventually notice that Indonesia is the one subject guaranteed to brighten his mood. “I really didn’t expect to fall in love with this place, but I did,” he told me earlier this year. “I mean, I don’t think I made the mistake of forgetting which country I represented, or overlooking their flaws, but there was so much that was just enormously appealing to me.”

Wolfowitz’s appointment to Indonesia was not an immediately obvious match. He was a Jew representing America in the largest Muslim republic in the world, an advocate of democracy in Suharto’s dictatorship. But Wolfowitz’s tenure as Ambassador was a notable success, largely owing to the fact that, in essence, he went native. With tutoring help from his driver, he learned the language, and hurled himself into the culture. He attended academic seminars, climbed volcanoes, and toured the neighborhoods of Jakarta.

There is much, much more. Wolfowitz in London, explaining, with the patience of a venerable scholor tutoring incoming freshmen, the clear connections between Iraq and the attacks on the World Trade Center, both in '93 and '01. We follow him on a moving visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where he gives comfort to the wounded (Message: He cares, but I can't help wondering how many guys actually knew who he was). And once again the atrocities of the Iraqi tyrant are replayed for us.

It's all quite effective in portraying him as a smart, conscientious, and experienced individual; still idealistic and hopeful, though not given to flights of fancy. But it also reminded me of those wise and sober men who brought us the War in Vietnam. Ready to help a grateful nation throw off the manacles of tyranny and to accept the warm, paternal embrace of a Democratic United States.

Then there's this telling passage.

Now, in Würzburg, the headquarters staff was reduced to a skeletal rear detachment. Still, at a luncheon given in Wolfowitz’s honor, the large ballroom was packed, filled with the spouses and family members left behind. Following the custom of their tightly insular culture, the women betrayed no indication of anxiety over their men “down-range,” as they refer to the battlefield of Iraq. They chatted gaily about the food, catered by a favorite local restaurant, and talked about their children. Wolfowitz showed them a video recorded by the First Lady, and they reacted with a standing ovation. Then he took questions. One woman asked whether anything could be done about the long deployments. The Pentagon is working on it, Wolfowitz assured her. Finally, someone asked, How will this war be won? What will victory look like?

Wolfowitz responded that in January Iraq will hold elections. The resulting transitional government will write a permanent constitution. That government will run Iraq for a year, until elections at the end of 2005 produce a permanent, fully independent government. By then, he said, American forces will have trained several Iraqi Army divisions and, equally important, fifty or more battalions of the Iraqi National Guard, the domestic stability force. Reaching down to the table and knocking wood, Wolfowitz mentioned recent progress in regard to the National Guard, noting the Iraqis’ participation in the wresting of Samarra from the insurgents’ control.

The "Pentagon is working on it." Just keep knocking wood.

The very seriousness of Wolfowitz and the "can-do," suffer-no-fools-gladly" additude of Rumsfeld mesmerized many into trusting these wise men, these masters of the universe. Masters of reality. Men who scoffed at lesser mortals who thought rebuilding a nation might take a rather sizable ground force, and be prepared to stay.

But no, they were the confident face of a bat-crazy president who had already decided
to invade Iraq, but needed the right henchmen to carry it out. They, on the other hand, long itching to do just that, thought they'd found their soul-mate. It was kind of like Bush as some Holy Roller preacher with a big idea for a worldwide congregation (based on missionaries who get rich in the process), who, along with his ruthless manager, Dick Cheney, "stumble" on the two con men who were just the guys sharp enough to help them do it.

And we were their patsies.

Members of the Order of Douchebags for Liberty

These people are loathesome.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Wild charges

Eight more marines dead as a result of our commander-in chief's"wild charges."

Speaking of which, the White House sure got Brooksie his talking points in a hurry.

Remember when John Kerry told Matt Bai of The Times Magazine that he wanted to reduce the terrorists to a nuisance? Kerry vowed to mitigate the problem of terrorism until it became another regrettable and tolerable fact of life, like gambling, organized crime and prostitution.

That was the interview in which he said Sept. 11 "didn't change me much at all." He said it confirmed in him a sense of urgency, "of doing the things we thought we needed to be doing."

Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated. He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance.

What we saw last night was revolting. I suspect that more than anything else, he reminded everyone of the moral indignation we all felt on and after Sept. 11.

Yeah, it did, but mostly it reminded me that the Bush administration has utterly failed in getting bin Laden and has been wildly successful in recruiting more adherents to bin Laden's cause.

Oh, and it reminds me of what a hack Brooks is, and how transperent are his attempts to take Kerry's comments completely out of context.

Spa treatment?

I really am no judge. I don't know if the latest bin Laden video shows a much healthier individual than his last taped message, where, according to the NYT's Jehl and Johnston, he "appeared gaunt and somewhat halting as he picked his way along a trail with a walking stick."

But if that is true and he has recovered his health (though as Josh Marshall points out, he still looks older than his 47 years), then how -- and where -- has he been able to do that? He had been described as being practically on death's door, requiring sophisticated medical devices, or so I was told.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Weapons of Mass Seduction

What keeps George W. Bush up at night. Yeeow.

Blank Slate

I've been stewing ever since I read the "endorsements" made by Slate editors for Kerry earlier this week. They basically followed the tired old meme of, "Bush is an atrocity. Kerry is a pompous opportunist, but I guess I'll hold my nose and pull the lever for him. Using my other hand, of course."

After reading some of the drivel served up by the editors (not all of them -- see Dahlia Lithwick, for example -- but a significant number) I suspect they're using their hand to pull on a lever, alright, but it ain't in a voting booth.

Republicans line up to drink the kool-aid and stand, glassy-eyed like flesh-eating zombies in the presence of the preznit. They declare -- angrily -- that he is the greatest president, nay, greatest man since Christ (and Christ was the Son o' God, so what does that make W?). Meanwhile, members of the Democratic punditocracy sniff contemptuously of their candidate. "Well, we had to choose someone, such a shame that he doesn't measure up to me."

So I've been heartened by the blogosphere's general denunciation of the Slate editors and their attitude, which is an odd mixture of elitism and defeatism. Bérubé puts it best, I think. I won't quote him. Go read it. As he notes, though, the good news is that the cynical jerks at Slate and other "liberal institutions" like The New Republic will keep us bloggers busy long after Kerry wins.

Or go read RudePundit, who, using language I'd blush to see here at the Vega wonders why the Shrum-driven Kerry campaign has been so afraid to push Kerry's remarkable accomplishments since he returned from Vietnam.

Dept. of Homeland Security. Dept. of Too Much Time on Their Hands

Apparently, sinister "Magic Cubes" are proliferating in small toy stores in Oregon, prompting our heroes at the DHS to leap into action.

ST. HELENS, Ore. Oct 28, 2004 — So far as she knows, Pufferbelly Toys owner Stephanie Cox hasn't been passing any state secrets to sinister foreign governments, or violating obscure clauses in the Patriot Act.

So she was taken aback by a mysterious phone call from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to her small store in this quiet Columbia River town just north of Portland.

"I was shaking in my shoes," Cox said of the September phone call. "My first thought was the government can shut your business down on a whim, in my opinion. If I'm closed even for a day that would cause undue stress."

When the two agents arrived at the store, the lead agent asked Cox whether she carried a toy called the Magic Cube, which he said was an illegal copy of the Rubik's Cube, one of the most popular toys of all time.

He told her to remove the Magic Cube from her shelves, and he watched to make sure she complied.

After the agents left, Cox called the manufacturer of the Magic Cube, the Toysmith Group, which is based in Auburn, Wash. A representative told her that Rubik's Cube patent had expired, and the Magic Cube did not infringe on the rival toy's trademark.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents went to Pufferbelly based on a trademark infringement complaint filed in the agency's intellectual property rights center in Washington, D.C.

"One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications," she said.

Six weeks after her brush with Homeland Security, Cox told The Oregonian she is still bewildered by the experience.

"Aren't there any terrorists out there?" she said.

Information from: The Oregonian

The mind reels.

"If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better"

Originally uploaded by vegacura.
Finally watched Eminem's new video, "Mosh." It is every bit as powerful -- and addictive -- as we've been reading throughout the lefty blogosphere.

At 5:20, it may be the most effective polemic against the administration of George W. Bush, his co-opting of the flag, his crushing of dissent, and his disastrous war, that I've seen and heard this election season.

The video's director, Ian Inaba, writes:

So on the eve of one of the most spirited elections in recent times, itâ??s time to try and turn out the vote. As a music video director, ideas for videos usually come independent of the song and are then adapted to fit the timing and lyrics of the featured track. I initially developed a concept for this video in June 2004 and contacted Interscope shortly after to find out what artists in their roster would be releasing albums near the election. The goal was to make a video that inspired young people to vote because they too often disregard it as a powerless exercise. To show them that political decisions do impact their daily lives and that voting is the most powerful act we all have to voice our opinion and effect change. And to educate and reiterate the point that whether or not people want to accept it, there are forces in play that attempt to suppress the youth and minority vote.

When I got the callback that our favorite conspirator of controversy, Eminem would be releasing an album in November, I knew we had the potential to say something that would be heard by the masses. And after hearing the song later that month it seemed Mr. Mathers had also been in the lab concocting his own plans for the election and it was precisely the anthem I had been looking for. So with less than six weeks to deliver we put together a team and forgot about what it meant to sleep. In order to produce animation for a song that runs 5:20 in just over 5 weeks we were going to need a lot of green tea and mate and a little help from Marshall himself. This video was made possible by a team of artists who came together inspired by a song and video that might be able to effect the next four years of all of our lives.

Two years ago, this video would not have been approved by a single record label. A year ago it would never had the possibility of being played on television. But with the changing tide of public sentiment marked by the success of our last video for Chronic Future, an anti-war message that made it into rotation on TRL we think it might just have a chance.

Now, itâ??s up to the broadcasters. Will they ban the top selling musical artist for being anti-establishment while they allow other propaganda to air? Or will they finally allow an artist who has the courage to speak out to take center stage and utilize the airwaves for something other than typical celebrity fodder?

MTV (owned by Viacom, I believe) is showing it. And it's #1.

Daily Kos's Kid Oakland deconstructs the lyrics and the video.

I'm not sure what effect this will have, or even how large the youth vote will be. We were, after all, seriously deluded in '72 in thinking college kids would turn the tide. We know how that one turned out. I fear that we Kerry supporters are starting to believe our own PR, that minorities and the youth are going to turn this election, giving Kerry a landslide, despite the polls.

But Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, has a powerful voice and a powerful hold on the imagination of young men in this country. And it is a damn fine piece of music, and, what's more, seems to come from the mind and heart of someone who has given this a lot of thought. With what sounds like a D-chord (I know nothing about music) drone that drives the music along, Mathers looks with sensitivity at a soldier forced to return to Iraq after his tour has ended, blacks being harrassed by the police, a woman being evicted as her children watch video of Bush signing his tax cut. That sensitivity makes his rage at Bush all the more palpable.

As Kid Oakland writes,

And, finally, these two quotes which are destined to reverberate this election season and forward:

And as we proceed, to mosh through this desert storm, in these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present

and this:

If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain't gonna stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home

Who knows. Maybe this is our October surprise. I can tell you one thing. I'll be wearing a black hooded sweatshirt when I go to the polls on Tuesday.

Nannies, Crime fighters for Kerry

Crime fighter for Kerry
Originally uploaded by vegacura.
RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie, tells L'il Russ who's voting for Kerry on Tuesday.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk to you about some of the things that have been in the paper about both political parties. This is The New York Times from yesterday. "Big GOP bid to challenge voters at polls in key states. Thousands recruited as monitors in Ohio," some 3,000 people being paid money per hour to go to the polls and monitor them. Democrats are saying you're trying to suppress the vote.

MR. GILLESPIE: Not at all, Tim. In fact, we are trying to register new voters. We registered 3.4 million voters in this cycle. We're reaching out to non-traditionally Republican voters, trying to get them to vote Republican.

And I'll tell you what's going on in Ohio that is a concern. If you look at Franklin County, the center of the state, a very important county in the election, there are 815,000 people according to the census, 18 or older eligible to vote. There are 845,000 registered voters. There are 20 counties in Colorado where there are more registered voters than there are eligible voters. In Ohio, there was a report yesterday in the paper of a charged terrorist who was plotting to blow up the Columbus Mall being registered to vote. We've seen people there filing false registrations in exchange for crack cocaine. People with fictitious characters being registered to vote, Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins.


Now, it's important that every vote count. We don't want to see anyone disenfranchised by the rightful vote being denied, but at the same time, we don't want to have people disenfranchised by having their honest vote canceled out by a fraudulent vote. And I guarantee you, Tim, if Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins vote, they're voting for John Kerry. [my emphasis]

Well, I can't tell you what motivates Mary Poppins to support Kerry; perhaps it's his ability -- unique in this race -- to speak English.

But it is pretty obvious why Dick Tracy would go with the Senator from Massachusetts. Unlike Bush, they both understand the real threats to the Homeland.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Reader contest -- Pick the title of this post: El Qaqaa; the Russians are Coming; America's Mayor!; or Impeachment -- not enough

If you look through the right-wing media universe this morning you will hear that perhaps the explosives were never at al Qaqaa at all. Or if they were there perhaps Saddam's men carted them off in March. Or if Saddam's men didn't cart them off for the insurgency then the Russians carted them off to Syria. Or if, God forbid, it really did happen as the critics say, well, President Bush wasn't there. It was the fault of the troops on the ground.

If you can't quite get your head around the audacity of that last one, that's what the president's surrogate Rudy Guiliani said this morning on one of the morning shows.

"The actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there," said Mr. Guiliani, "Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"

Exactly. Read the whole thing.

Impeachment would be appropriate, but here's hoping that the election will be far more satisfying.

1918 Redux?

Originally uploaded by vegacura.
I warned you people. With flu vaccine in short supply, the last thing we need is a Red Sox World Championship, the first since the horrible year of 1918.

As noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association final edition of 1918:

"The 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man's destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all--infectious disease," (12/28/1918).

To be in the Word

The basis of GW Bush's faith and how it affects his view of world events. The more you know about Dear Leader, the more frightened you become.

It's hard to settle "he said, she-said" questions, let alone "he said, He said'' questions. But there is a way to get a clearer picture of religion's role in this White House. Every morning President Bush reads a devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest," a collection of homilies by a Protestant minister named Oswald Chambers, who lived a century ago. As Mr. Bush explained in an interview broadcast on Tuesday on Fox News, reading Chambers is a way for him "on a daily basis to be in the Word."

Chambers's book continues to sell well, especially an updated edition with the language tweaked toward the modern. Inspecting the book - or the free online edition - may give even some devout Christians qualms about America's current guidance.

Chambers was Scottish, and he conforms to the stereotype of Scots as a bit dour (as in the joke about the Scot who responds to "What a lovely day!" by saying, "Just wait.") In the entry for Dec. 4, by way of underscoring adversity, Chambers asserts, "Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death."

So whence the optimism that Republicans say George Bush possesses and John Kerry lacks? There's a kind of optimism in Chambers, but it's not exactly sunny. To understand it you have to understand the theme that dominates "My Utmost": committing your life to Jesus Christ - "absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will" - and staying committed. "If we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again." In all things and at all times, you must do God's will.

But what exactly does God want? Chambers gives little substantive advice. There is no great stress on Jesus' ethical teaching - not much about loving your neighbor or loving your enemy. (And Chambers doesn't seem to share Isaiah's hope of beating swords into plowshares. "Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm.") But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. "If you obey God in the first thing he shows you, then he instantly opens up the next truth to you," Chambers writes.

And you shouldn't let your powers of reflection get in the way. Chambers lauds Abraham for preparing to slay his son at God's command without, as the Bible put it, conferring "with flesh and blood." Chambers warns: "Beware when you want to 'confer with flesh and blood' or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings - anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God."

Once you're on the right path, setbacks that might give others pause needn't phase you. As Chambers noted in last Sunday's reading, "Paul said, in essence, 'I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn't matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.' " Indeed, setbacks may have a purpose, Chambers will tell Mr. Bush this Sunday: "God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as his saint to get you in direct contact with himself." Faith "by its very nature must be tested and tried."

Some have marveled at Mr. Bush's refusal to admit any mistakes in Iraq other than "catastrophic success." But what looks like negative feedback to some of us - more than 1,100 dead Americans, more than 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians and the biggest incubator of anti-American terrorists in history - is, through Chambers's eyes, not cause for doubt. Indeed, seemingly negative feedback may be positive feedback, proof that God is there, testing your faith, strengthening your resolve.

This, I think, is Mr. Bush's optimism: In the longest run, divinely guided decisions will be vindicated, and any gathering mountains of evidence to the contrary may themselves be signs of God's continuing involvement. It's all good.

The author, Robert Wright, is a visiting fellow at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, and is the author of "Non-zero: The Logic of Human Destinay." He concludes, "People who take drastic action based on divine-feeling feelings, and view ensuing death and destruction with equanimity, have in recent years tended to be the problem, not the solution."

The don't share our VALUES

Sure, they may have won last night, but the Massachusetts Liburals, with their long, stringy hair, scruffy beards, man-hugging tendencies, and constant partying, simply don't represent the values of mainstream Amurica.

Debate strategy

It's a real pleasure to read Phil Gourevitch's Campaign Journal in which he describes the strategy of the Kerry campaign leading up to the first debate with our preznit.

In the run up to that wonderful evening in Coral Gables, it was assumed that Bush had the advantage in a discussion of foreign policy, the focus of the first debate. I never really bought into that, but that was the conventional wisdom. It was assumed that Bush would be strong, resolute, and would take advantage of Kerry's nuanced views on Iraq and Islamic fundamentalism.

But Kerry had a plan. Over a series of speeches made prior to the debate, he carefully crafted his prosecutorial brief on the "serious mistakes" the president had made, and how it has hurt us in the war on terror.

In these speeches, staggered over eight days, Kerry managed to come across both as anti-war and as a hawk on terrorism—a remarkable political balancing act. He spoke of winning in Iraq, recommitting to Afghanistan, bolstering homeland security, reviving alliances, waging a peaceful war of ideas to tame extremism in the Muslim world, and hunting down Osama bin Laden. His “plan” for Iraq was as sketchy as it was ambitious—bring in allies, step up training, intensify reconstruction, foster and recruit a United Nations protection force to make elections possible, and, if successful, begin to withdraw American forces within a year. Kerry did not pretend that it would be easy to get other countries to help him realize these ends. “But I have news for President Bush,” he said. “Just because you can’t do something doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”

Kerry’s focus on war and terrorism was strategically timed to lead up to the first debate, and, more immediately, to overshadow Bush’s address to the U.N. General Assembly, in New York, and the state visit to Washington of Iraq’s American-installed interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi (whose morning-in-Iraq rhetoric in an address to Congress might as well have been drafted by a Bush-campaign speechwriter). Kerry’s preëmptive strategy was successful: at a Rose Garden press conference with Allawi, Bush was repeatedly asked, with reference to Kerry’s charges, how he accounted for the discrepancies between his triumphalist claims about the pacification and democratization of Iraq and the anarchic scenes of battle, bombardment, carnage, and beheading that filled the news. For the first time since the Democratic Convention, at the end of July, Kerry was setting the agenda for the nation’s political press, and he was doing it by speaking substantively to the all-dominating issue of this election year. “He’s wanted to give that speech for a long time,” Stephanie Cutter told me after Kerry delivered his withering assessment of Bush’s war policy, and Senator Joseph Biden said that Kerry had told him, “I feel liberated.”

We have heard, for months, how screwed up the Kerry campaign is; how they can't pin down "a message;" how closely trailing Bush was a sign that Kerry was the wrong nominee for the Democratic party (never mind the fact that Bush is the incumbant and has never shied from using the power of his incumbancy). That Rove has made him dance like a puppet. Basically a rehash of all the bull -- from both sides of the aisle -- we heard about Gore in 2000. Rove is brilliant and Democrats are all a bunch of wonks who can't inspire Americans.

Well, forget about that now. Despite the so-called liberal media who continue to advance the meme that Kerry lacks charisma requiring a transplant from Clinton, and that his supporters just aren't very excited about him. And that the tens of thousands who are showing up at Kerry campaign rallies are, really, just a few hundred who happened by. By finally explaining to millions of Americans his plan for Iraq and terrorists -- and in the process clearly showing that Bush does not have a plan -- Kerry has taken control of this race (aided, indeed, by some 300 tons of Al Qaqaa explosives).

Here's a favorite bit from the article:

At that time, six days before the debate in Coral Gables, the suggestion that Bush might be vulnerable on Iraq or the war on terror was a kind of heresy. A wire-service reporter urged Biden to reconsider. Kerry’s “core competencies,” the reporter said, were the economy and health care. Wasn’t Kerry just being opportunistic, now that Iraq was in the headlines? “No!” Biden shouted, and when the reporter persisted—“What if the beheadings aren’t in the news in October?”—the Senator tipped back on his heels a moment, as if to get a better look at him, and said, “Hey, you are a real horse’s ass, aren’t you?” Mike McCurry, a former Clinton press secretary, who has been travelling with Kerry since early September, stood nearby, jiggling with laughter. McCurry told me, “The subtext of this whole week was: If you think that George Bush’s strength is foreign policy and national security, think again, then look at Kerry.”

Damn. Love to know the name of that horse's ass.

The curse of the Yawkeys is finally over

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox and their fans. But, geez, how surprisingly weak were the St. Louis Cardinals? No pitch, no hit, no run, no manage.

Speaking of managers, props to Terry Francona. I -- along with thousands of others -- have ridiculed him all year. He out-managed the Angels' Mike Scioscia, the Yankees' Joe Torre and, even more thoroughly, boy-genius Tony LaRusa.

Bobby Avila, 1926-2004.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Don't look at me. I'm just the preznit.

It's highly instructive -- and would be amusing if the consequences weren't so gaspingly awful -- to watch the Bush administration fudge, lie, cloud, and attack its way through the news day's spin cycle.

They lie about everything. From The Road to Surfdom:

the road to surfdom: Here's another amazing twist in the case of the disappearing Iraq explosives: "On Sunday, administration officials said that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. taskforce that hunted for unconventional weapons, had been ordered to look into the disappearance of the explosives. On Tuesday night, CBS News reported that Charles A. Duelfer, the head of the taskforce, denied receiving such an order." Gee, who to believe?

UPDATE: The spinning by the administration reeks of desperation and it is worth following the story through the spin cycle: 'President Bush's aides told reporters that because the soldiers had found no trace of the missing explosives on April 10, they could have been removed before the invasion. They based their assertions on a report broadcast by NBC News on Monday night that showed video images of the 101st arriving at Al Qaqaa. >By yesterday afternoon Mr. Bush's aides had moderated their view, saying it was a "mystery" when the explosives disappeared and that Mr. Bush did not want to comment on the matter until the facts were known. On Sunday, administration officials said that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. taskforce that hunted for unconventional weapons, had been ordered to look into the disappearance of the explosives. On Tuesday night, CBS News reported that Charles A. Duelfer, the head of the taskforce, denied receiving such an order. At the Pentagon, a senior official, who asked not to be identified, acknowledged that the timing of the disappearance remained uncertain.... Colonel Anderson said he did not see any obvious signs of damage when he arrived on April 10, but that his focus was strictly on finding a secure place to collect his troops, who were driving and flying north from Karbala. "There was no sign of looting here," Colonel Anderson said. "Looting was going on in Baghdad, and we were rushing on to Baghdad. We were marshaling in." A few days earlier, some soldiers from the division thought they had discovered a cache of chemical weapons that turned out to be pesticides. Several of them came down with rashes, and they had to go through a decontamination procedure. Colonel Anderson said he wanted to avoid a repeat of those problems, and because he had already seen stockpiles of weapons in two dozen places, did not care to poke through the stores at Al Qaqaa.'...

Despite the administration saying that they knew the site to be emptied out before they got there, Col. Joseph Anderson... who the administration implies searched the site... didn't.

Meanwhile, after two days of silence over the matter, our Commander in Chief takes the high road.

Note to George: Calling you and your administration a bunch of incompetent, lying asses has nothing, nothing to do with the troops.


Delay is muttering about Larouche and...Daily Kos?

When the going gets tough, the Majority Whip gets weird.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A moderate Republican

Dick Cheney doesn't want John Kerry to "out" his daughter. As we are discovering, he believes homosexuals should be out of sight. That must explain why he's on the husting with Ed Koch, poster boy for closeted homosexual politicians. I am relieved that the obnoxious former mayor has finally come out of the closet with regard to his Republicanism.

What the Founders feared

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Constitution Restoration Act of 2004'.




(1) AMENDMENT TO TITLE 28- Chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government [emphasis added, obviously].'. [sic]

According to Thomas, this bill was introduced in February. This is the first I've heard of it.

Essentially, the point seems to be to declare that (the implied Judeo-Christian) God is the "organic source" of our institutions, so expressions praising Him or using Him to threaten cannot be denied by the Appelate or Supreme Courts, under threat of impeachment. It is intended to give fundamentalist judges the right to put the Ten Commandments in the courts, official prayer in school, and, as it seems to be worded, mete out biblical punishments on those before them.

We already have Creationism in our Park System, why not in the courts?

Yes, it matters who wins a week from today.

Attaturk thinks it's the "neo-cons" pushing this through. I find that doubtful. But it is more wingnuttery on parade. Very, very dangerous wingnuttery, led by Pat Robertson and his followers in Congress and supported by a compliant press.

And the fact that it's gone so unnoticed except by the very "Dominionists" who drafted and support it, terrifies me.

Status: Apparently it's in the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. Hearings were held in September.

Wingnuts on parade

Inside the mind of Kaye Grogan.

Just get over it "liberals" — we don't need you to tell us how to open an umbrella or come in out of the rain, much less how to vote. Our parents spoon-fed us when we were babies, we don't need liberal politicians gagging spoons down our throats now. We don't need you coming into our homes via television; newspapers; shoving your favorite candidates' cheap pencils, matchbooks (when the match stems barely have enough powder to ignite), and calenders so small you need a magnifying glass to see the dates — in our faces, before we go into the voting booths.

I hope the Republicans are really going to put on their political armor, and send out their 35,000 strong army of watchdogs (as reported), to oversee possible voter fraud. Even a tiny scent of voter fraud should be investigated. It's time the Republicans learn to stand up tall, even if they have to wear a girdle or back brace — and stop the sniveling.

Are all Republicans handicapped and suffering from allergies? I had no idea. But she's right about those damned calendars.

19th Century Man

Uggabugga notes all the ways that Bush and his supporters have tried or plan to dismantle so many of the developments made in this country during the 20th know, the one known as "The American Century."

From his opposition to everything from the 17th amendment (the direct election of Senators) to "overhauling" Social Security to breaking down the barriers of church and state, George Bush has all but proclaimed a new slogan for his campaign, "19th Century Bush."

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Sore Loser Record Shop

Jay Jaffe and Alex Belth -- as usual -- sum it up for Yankee fans this week. Here's Jay, who links to Alex:

At a time that I thought I'd be sitting in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium, I caught the final three innings of Saturday night's game in a midtown bar with the sound off, watching the Red Sox defense and particularly Manny Ramirez make a mockery of fundamental baseball, and they still won. Last night I half-watched most of the game, and even speeding through the commercials and mound visits on TiVo, found it to be a waste of three hours of my life. Time was I could watch a World Series between any two teams and take up a bandwagon for a week while hoping to witness things I'd never seen before, but I want no part of viewing the one that's a mere two wins away for the Red Sox. I've been consigned to purgatory for the rest of the season -- what Alex Belth termed "the bitter'n'hell cut-out bin of The Sore Loser Record Shop" -- with nothing meaningful or intelligent to say about this best-of-seven Shit Sandwich, nothing that I can articulate particularly well through all of the bile I'm choking back. The insufferable, self-aggrandizing drama queen with the stitched up ankle really has shut me up, and I can only hope that gangrene or medical malpractice (hey, I'll stitch that tendon in place!) derails the Red Sox on the way to their first title since 1918. I mean, nobody ever blew a 2-0 lead in a seven-game series, right?

Drama Queen, indeed. Oh, yeah, and did ya' know he's a Chrishtun? You made me shut up, Curt, now please return the favor. It was painful to watch him emote in the dugout between innings. It was even more painful to watch the Red Sox stink up the place in the field while the Cards' superheroes whom we've been hearing about all season go hitless. Agonizing.

Crashes with wolves

Progress on the war on terror. Executive summary.

What ifs

The estimable James Wolcott asks some pretty interesting "what ifs." To boil it down to basics, he asks what if the Bush administration hadn't proven itself to be so incompetent, mendacious, and arrogant over the past year and a half? We might be reducing troop levels in Iraq. Bush's approval ratings would be sky high. He'd be coasting to Nov. 2, confident of a landslide over whatever feeble Democrat was being prepared for the sacrifice.

What if, for instance, the Bush administration and Pentagon had done something about Zarqawi and his followers before the invasion?

As the toll of mayhem inspired by terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi mounts in Iraq, some former officials and military officers increasingly wonder whether the Bush administration made a mistake months before the start of the war by stopping the military from attacking his camp in the northeastern part of that country.

The Pentagon drew up detailed plans in June 2002, giving the administration a series of options for a military strike on the camp Mr. Zarqawi was running then in remote northeastern Iraq, according to generals who were involved directly in planning the attack and several former White House staffers. They said the camp, near the town of Khurmal, was known to contain Mr. Zarqawi and his supporters as well as al Qaeda fighters, all of whom had fled from Afghanistan. Intelligence indicated the camp was training recruits and making poisons for attacks against the West.

Senior Pentagon officials who were involved in planning the attack said that even by spring 2002 Mr. Zarqawi had been identified as a significant terrorist target, based in part on intelligence that the camp he earlier ran in Afghanistan had been attempting to make chemical weapons, and because he was known as the head of a group that was plotting, and training for, attacks against the West. He already was identified as the ringleader in several failed terrorist plots against Israeli and European targets. In addition, by late 2002, while the White House still was deliberating over attacking the camp, Mr. Zarqawi was known to have been behind the October 2002 assassination of a senior American diplomat in Amman, Jordan.

But the raid on Mr. Zarqawi didn't take place. Months passed with no approval of the plan from the White House, until word came down just weeks before the March 19, 2003, start of the Iraq war that Mr. Bush had rejected any strike on the camp until after an official outbreak of hostilities with Iraq. Ultimately, the camp was hit just after the invasion of Iraq began.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, who was in the White House as the National Security Council's director for combatting [sic.] terrorism at the time, said an NSC working group, led by the Defense Department, had been in charge of reviewing the plans to target the camp. She said the camp was "definitely a stronghold, and we knew that certain individuals were there including Zarqawi." Ms. Gordon-Hagerty said she wasn't part of the working group and never learned the reason why the camp wasn't hit. But she said that much later, when reports surfaced that Mr. Zarqawi was behind a series of bloody attacks in Iraq, she said "I remember my response," adding, "I said why didn't we get that ['son of a b-'] when we could."


Targeting of the camp and Mr. Zarqawi before the war first was reported in an NBC Nightly News item in March, but administration officials subsequently denied it, and the report didn't give details of the planning of the attack and deliberations over it.

What if they had ignored the neocons' wet dreams of a rose petal strewing Iraqi public and accepted the concerns of the intelligence community, or a War College's report made two months before the invasion, that an insurgency was not only likely, it was practically preordained? What if they had told commanders in the field in Iraq of these concerns?

At precisely 9 a.m. on March 22, 2003, the third day of the war in Iraq, GIs riding armored vehicles through the southern town of Samawah waved at a group of civilians gathered near a bridge. Instead of a friendly reply, they got automatic weapons fire. The men charged the armored column in waves, attacking with AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

With their superior firepower, the Americans cut down the attackers by the score. But the incident stunned U.S. soldiers and commanders, according to an account by Staff Sgt. Dillard Johnson, who helped beat back the attack that day. Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell, one of Johnson's superior officers, had half-jokingly told his troops to "expect a parade."

The searing experience, recounted in "On Point," an official Army report on the conflict, has since become daily fare for the 138,000 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. "For the first but not the last time, well-armed paramilitary forces ? indistinguishable, except for their weapons, from civilians ? attacked the squadron," the account notes. The difference now is that the Iraqis have become wilier fighters, increasingly adept at using remote bombs and hit-and-run tactics while avoiding counterattack.

As the insurgency has intensified, so has the scrutiny of the White House over warnings it received before the war that predicted the instability. An examination of prewar intelligence on the possibility of postwar violence and of the administration's response shows:
- Military and civilian intelligence agencies repeatedly warned prior to the invasion that Iraqi insurgent forces were preparing to fight and that their ranks would grow as other Iraqis came to resent the U.S. occupation and organize guerrilla attacks.

- The war plan put together by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Army Gen. Tommy Franks discounted these warnings. Rumsfeld and Franks anticipated surrender by Iraqi ground forces and a warm welcome from civilians.

- The insurgency began not after the end of major combat in May 2003 but at the beginning of the war, yet Pentagon officials were slow to identify the enemy and to grasp how serious a threat the guerrilla attacks posed.

I have nothing to add to that, except to wonder whether, after exhibiting such bold incompetence, they even want a second term.

Signs and portents

Oh my, are Boston fans really being set up?

October Surprise! They found Iraq's WMD

Only to promptly lose them.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Now we know the source material for all of those roadside and car bombs that have killed so many Iraqis and U.S. soldiers.

The level of incompetence in planning the invasion and occupation of Iraq is quite stunning. Whether things like this provide materiel for attacks within the U.S. is hard to say, but it certainly condemns our occupation of the country to being damn near impossible.

Why was the National Security Advisor informed of this only a month ago? Once again, what is Condi Rice's job? And, of course, bubble boy was not informed.

Josh Marshall has more, and a few questions reporters may want to ask.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

World Series Blues

Hmmm. So Taguchi. Now he could really be the key to this thing.

The Red Sox have just announced their "Travel Secretary" during the pre-game announcements. They must know it'll be another 18 years 'till they're back, and they're milking it for all it's worth. They're stretched out all the way from home plate to the Pesky Pole.

Steven Tyler. Is that the National Anthem, or a cry for help?

Wolfpacks for Truth


For those of you unaware of why these wolves are so angry, I give you "Scary Puppies.

Friday, October 22, 2004

"A different team"

Finally found the actual quote from Jeter on his reaction to a question about the team's pattern of success.

Derek Jeter's tone was measured but rage sparked in his eyes as he spoke to a crowd of reporters early yesterday morning, after the Yankees squandered their legacy of domination over the Boston Red Sox. Jeter, the shortstop, tersely cut off a soft question about the Yankees' many successes, saying that this is "a different team."

With that, Jeter drew a sharp distinction between the Yankees of today and those of the Paul O'Neill-Tino Martinez era, who won world championships, four in six years, from 1996 to 2001.

Buster Olney explains why.

In August 1990 George Steinbrenner was forced by Fay Vincent to resign from the Yankees' day to day operations because Steinbrenner had been found to have associated with a known gambler. His absence for the next 30 months allowed Gene Michaels to stop pursuing the free agent of the year every winter, and to instead build a farm system that produced Jeter, Bernie Williams, Rivera, Posada, and Andy Pettitte.

Now, I thought Sheffield was terrific all season, I was impressed with A-Rod, and to me, Matsui has become a true Yankee. But the collapse of this team would not likely have happened during the '96-'01 run -- in those year's, it was the Yankees who came back from 0-2 series. In the last two games, Rodriguez and Sheffield obviously wanted to prove they were the great talents they are and tried to hit 2-run homoers with each at bat, despite no one on base. They got frustrated and panicked. The big stars come here to be part of the Yankee mystique. They are expected to win, and they come here expecting to get a ring. They handled it well early in the season when the team was struggling, but they didn't handle adversity well when the momentum shifted after Game Three.

And I'll be amazed if Kevin Brown ever appears in a Yankee uniform again, $15 million salary or not.

The collision of Afghanistan and Iraq

Via Laura Rozen, The Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer have a chilling report on the prices paid in the battle against al Qaeda and its loose affiliates by waging war in Iraq. Bush's approach to terrorism is to keep a list of baddies and cross them off, one by one, as they're killed or captured, and go after the states he thinks are supporting terrorists. That's how he continues to justify the war in Iraq and increasing bellicosity towards Iran.

Wrong approach.

Bush's focus on the instruments of force, the officials said, has been slow to adapt to a swiftly changing enemy. Al Qaeda, they said, no longer exerts centralized control over a network of operational cells. It has rather become the inspirational hub of a global movement, fomenting terrorism that it neither funds nor directs. Internal government assessments describe this change with a disquieting metaphor: They say jihadist terrorism is "metastasizing."


'What Does It Mean to Be Safer?' Bush conducts the war on terrorism above all as a global hunt for a cast of evil men he knows by name and photograph. He tracks progress in daily half-hour meetings that Richard A. Falkenrath, who sometimes attended them before departing recently as deputy homeland security adviser, described as "extremely granular, about individual guys." Frances Fragos Townsend, who took the post of White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser in May, said in an interview that Bush's strategy -- now, as in the war's first days -- is to "decapitate the beast."

It's bizarre, really, the thinking within the White House. One senior advisor is quoted, anonymously, saying, in response to polls that show widespread and growing hatred of the U.S., that what they think about us doesn't matter. Keeping America safe is all that matters.


It's a story of missed opportunities and of ideology getting in the way of effective tactics. Such as when Iran offered up nearly 300 al Qaeda suspects they were holding. In return, they wanted four prisoners at Guantanamo Bay interrogated regarding the assassination of some Iranian diplomats. The CIA was all for it. Cheney and Rumsfeld overruled them, not wanting to give "legitimacy" to what they considered a terrorist sponsor. Not long after, Iran was officially named to the "Axis of Evil."

Meanwhile, resources were being funneled from Afghanistan to Iraq. Task Force Five went from hunting bin Laden to Saddam Hussein. And Iraq, as we now know, became Vietnam.

In 2002, the CIA transferred its station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, to lead the new Iraq Issue Group. At least 30 case officers, a knowledgeable official said, joined the parallel Iraq Operations Task Force by mid-2002. By the time war came in Iraq nearly 150 case officers filled the task force and issue group on the "A Corridor" of Langley's top management. The Baghdad station became the largest since the Vietnam War, with more than 300.

Early this year, the CIA's then-station chief in Kabul reported a resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda forces in three border provinces. He proposed a spring intelligence offensive in South Waziristan and in and around Kunar province farther north. The chief, whose first name is Peter, estimated he would need 25 case officers in the field and an additional five for the station. A national security official who tracked the proposal said CIA headquarters replied that it did not have the resources to make the surge. Peter finished his year as station chief in June.

It really is a must read. We must replace a president who, despite all evidence to the contrary, believes that the terrorists hitting places like Madrid, Turkey, Indonesia, and, oh yes, lower Manhattan, do so because "they hate America for its freedom."

He is a lost boy, imagining himself as John Wayne, surrounded by yes-men.

Seeing red

Well, now it's official: Clemens loses another Game Seven and we have an all-red World Series, as Red Sox Nation battles Red Bird Nation for baseball supremacy. They've met twice before on the Big Stage, in '46 and '67, with heartbreak for the Sock Puppets both times.

What really disturbs me about this, besides the obvious, is red. I find it somewhat disturbing to look at stadiums in which everyone is wearing red. And believe me, the fans of these two teams will be wearing the team colors. A stadium full of red shirts makes me think of fascist rallies, and I shudder. Yankeee navy blue doesn't have that same effect on me (and the Metropolitans' blue and orange just makes me laugh), but perhaps I'm biased.

Speaking of Yankee blues, sounding strangely like the Miserable Failure, Manager Joe Torre has no regrets, admits no mistakes.

Torre, who has been dubbed Teflon Torre because of his postseason success and immense popularity, insisted he would have changed nothing about how he managed the last seven games of the season. Not one bullpen decision, lineup decision, rotation decision or strategic decision.

Although Torre barely slept after the Red Sox pummeled the Yankees, 10-3, in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, it was not because he was restless from replaying any critical moments in his mind. Torre sat at a barren interview room at Yankee Stadium yesterday and said he had not rehashed the series. He started reviewing it only when he was asked specific questions.

Joe Torre is the best manager the Yankees have had for decades. I have rarely second-guessed, but there were moments earlier this week when he seemed to be on auto-pilot. I can't second-guess him on his use of Rivera in games four and five, as Jay Jaffe does, relentlessly. But sticking with Sierra over Lofton, despite knowing that Sierra spent three nights licking his lips looking at the Monster, then proceeding to strike out time after time was a poor decision. So too was not making pinch hitting changes late in the games for guys like Clark and Cairo; using Olerude instead of Sierra to pinch hit in game seven; and, especially, using Vazquez the way he did in the second inning of game seven.

Anyway, should be an interesting winter in Yankee land.

The Red Sox, with home-field and slightly better pitching, should win the Serious. The construction of the Cards is remarkably similar to the Yanks'. If the Sox can't do it this year then hearbreak and failure really are their destiny.

Bush's fundamentalism -- not what we bargained for

Bush now says he'd accept a democratically-elected fundamentalist government in Iraq.

So, all of those U.S. soldiers dead, all of those Muslims now enraged by the U.S. occupation, all of our allies alienated (and, yes, I include the UK; Tony Blair is a very lonely man), just so we could create a sister-state for Iran.

Insanity. A nightmare we won't be waking from soon.

Juan Cole gives us the alarming trends:

I think it can be fairly argued that the Bush "war on terror" has actually spread Islamic fundamentalism. (Bush coddling of Ariel Sharon's harsh policies in Palestine has also contributed).

Since Bush began acting aggressively in the region, the United Action Council of (often pro-Bin Laden!) fundamentalist parties in Pakistan has come to power by itself in the Northwest Frontier Province, in coalition in Baluchistan, and has 17% of the seats in parliament! Despite Pakistan's unwarranted reputation for "fundamentalism," in fact most Pakistanis are Sufis or traditionalists who dislike fundamentalism, and the latter parties seldom got more than 2-3% of seats in any election in which they ran. Until Bush came along.

In Iraq, a whole series of Muslim fundamentalist parties-- al-Da`wa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Sadrists, the Salafis, and now al-Qaeda, have been unleashed by Bush. They seem likely to win any election held in Iraq, since the secularists remain disorganized.

In the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan now slated for spring 2005, the Taliban or the cousins of the Taliban are likely to be a major party, benefiting from the Pushtun vote.

We could go on (a similar story of new-found fundamentalist strength could be told for Indonesia, e.g.) The real legacy of Bush to the Muslim world will likely not be secular democracy, but the provocation of Muslim publics into voting for the Muslim fundamentalists on a scale never before seen in the region.

At the risk of sounding flippant (a risk I've taken many, many times before), exactly how much has the Iranian government and the head scarf manufacturers of the world given to the Bucheney campaign?

Meanwhile, George Tenet now tells us the war was wrong. A bit late, hey George?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Land o'Goshen -- Bush's "faith" finally questioned

Wow, Somerby is bowled over by pundits beginning to question the genuiness of Bush's faith, what God he believes in (not one I recognize), and what the point of a politician's religious faith is, anyway.

So am I.

On Monday, the debate entered Day 3, with Scarborough himself presiding. Cable conservative Shmuley Boteach was on hand, prepared to dispense scripted cant (Boteach is a rabbi). But land o’ goshen! The times were a-changed! O’Donnell even fought against that!

BOTEACH (10/17/04): People like Lawrence O‘Donnell—and Lawrence is a fine man, I know him...believe that religion is actually a lobotomy. It makes you into a moron, that the fact that Bush is stupid, it’s actually because he has this faith, which makes him silly enough to see the world in black and white. I would rather have us dumb men of faith, who see that Bush is good and Saddam is evil. I would rather have us than have a guy like Kerry, that couldn’t get it right in Vietnam, saying that our troops were evil and the communists were good.

O’DONNELL: What does this have to do with prayer? What does this have to do with religion? What are you talking about?

BOTEACH: What I’m talking about is that religion gives you the vision to know what‘s right. What Bush prayed for before that war was can I remove a tyrant, so that he doesn’t gas Kurdish children in their homes?

O’DONNELL: “Gives you the vision to know what is right.” Did religion give him the X-ray vision to see the weapons of mass destruction? What did he pray for that was right? [Somerby's emphasis]

And O’Donnell, piling heresy high atop outrage, even slammed Democratic pols, men whom he knows personally. “I think the Kerry references to God are phony. I think every reference Bill Clinton ever made to God was phony. I think every reference Jimmy Carter made to God was political and phony and designed to trick people who believe in God to believe in them.” At this point, O’Donnell’s host restored order. “Well, you know what?” he said. “ We will be right back. I will tell you what—that’s inflammatory language for a lot of us in Scarborough Country!”

Inflammatory it was—and long overdue. For decades, secularists and religious moderates have stood aside as the Robertsons, the Boteachs and yes, the George Bushes have offered their versions of public piety. Everyone agreed not to notice the more absurd aspects of their professed faith. As they stared off into air, secularists and religious skeptics had a plainly mistaken belief. They believed that they had won a war some time after the Scopes monkey trail—that society had driven a brand of religious simplist [sic] into the fringe and into the corner. But those religious simplists didn’t give up, and it’s fairly clear that they’re now back in power.

Bush's boy in the bubble act and inflated reputation for having God's cell phone number may actually begin a debate in this country regarding the role of religion in politics. Is wearing your religion on your sleeve appropriate, or even a positive thing. As our great religious crusade goes badly, perhaps we'll stop assuming God is on our glorious side.

Perhaps, but then I remember I'm a part of the reality-based community and know that the simpletons are a cohesive bloc.

Hector and Achilles

Hector and Achilles
Originally uploaded by vegacura.
Achilles dragging Hektor. At the left are the Hector's parents, Priam and Hecuba, who mourn the death of theirson. At the center Achilles on his chariot drags the corpse of Hector, and at far right the tomb of Patroklos. 520 - 510 BC.

Mike Francesca, of "Mike and the Maddog" fame (a program in which these two cultured gentlemen discuss the world of sports and engage in in-depth and nuanced discussion with intelligent fans who call in with thoughtful opinions), said the game last night reminded him of a huge heavyweight championship fight. All the hype going in. Rumble in the Bronx. And then the fight starts, and the reigning champion walks into a left hook and is down for the count. But in a fight, when one guy goes down for 10, you go home. Last night we had to watch the Red Sox knock out the Yankees by the second inning, then drag the corpse around for 3 hours and 30 minutes.

The empire has returned into sand

Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Didn't see it, but I understand that after the game Derek Jeter was asked something about the connection between the 2004 Yankees and the 1996-2001 dynasty. His eyes flashed and he sneered something about there wasn't much of a connection.

Jeter, Bernabe Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are all that are left from those powerhouse teams. Rivera may have shown in this series that the future hall of fame closer's days of utter dominance may be waning. Bernie, who was probably the most consistent player in the series, will probably no longer be patrolling center field next year. Jorge still has good years ahead, but catching takes its toll; his plate appearances during the series were surely evidence of that.

Jeter can't do it alone. That was clear last night when, in the third and down 6-0, he singled to drive Cairo home, and you could see him -- with a look on his face I've never seen before, he was grey -- yell at Alex Rodriguez, "C'mon!" Rodriguez (the "karate Kid" they're calling him up in Boston) couldn't keep it going.

The thing that struck me was, at Fenway, when the Yankees scored, you could hear a pin drop. At the Stadium, when the Sox scored, you'd be hard pressed to know for certain you were in the Bronx. And as the game went on and the fans in blue left their seats, they were quickly grabbed by the thousands of fans in red. And they were chanting, "IN YOUR HOUSE."


"An exercise in folly."

Thank God we have such a strong, resolute and decisive man of action in the White House.

I said it in 1993, and I’ll say it again today,” Bush told a group of admirers, each of whom had written a 2000-word essay on why they should be allowed to bask in the glory of his presence, “the wild card is bad for baseball. I said that history would prove me right, and it has. It always does. Don’t ask me about ‘mistakes,’ young lady– that’s a trick question, and don’t think I don’t know it. The wild card is an exercise in folly, and it must be stopped now before it weakens our nation any further.”

Bush’s remarkable, bold, and also decisive decision came only hours after the Boston Red Sox had scrambled back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees in four straight games, winning the climactic game seven in a rout. The Sox’ dramatic rally was unprecedented in major league baseball history, as is the President’s subsequent reversal of the outcome.

Sorry. Just a quick vacation from the "Reality-based community."

We are all Red Sox fans now

I have nothing but the highest admiration for Josh Marshall and his perpetually wrinked shirts and exhausted appearance.

But. Puhlease. To suddenly proclaim he's a Red Sox fan. That's annoying.

Stick to the more substantial stuff, Josh. Leave the baseball/politics nexus to those who really care. Thank you. Now go about your business.

What an unfortunate way for it to end

That was bad. Simply bad.

The string of posts at Replacement Level last night/early this morning pretty much says it all. From anger and denial to peace and acceptance.

Was there anything worse than the Fox cameras honing in on Brian Cashman, the Yankees' GM, capturing his reaction as first Brown then Vazquez -- $25 million worth of pitching Cashman had bought in the off-season -- look like they'd have trouble making it through a Double-A game? Cashman looked like the loneliest guy at the Stadium.

But as I said to Madame Cura in, oh, I don't know, the fourth inning, it wasn't Brown and Vazquez who let this one slip away, it was the Yankees hitters, each of whom wanted to be Bucky Dent, and instead couldn't get on base or move runners when it mattered after the eighth inning of game four.

Hats off to the Red Sox. We knew, going in, that they were the better team; we just got fooled by the great play of the Yankees in the first three games. In the end, though, the Yankee bats cooled, the pitching couldn't hold up and the Red Sox pitchers adjusted. And Damon finally broke out. In a big, big way.

Why did Brown pitch to Ortiz? Why did Torre put a regular season starter, Vazquez, in to relieve Brown with the bases loaded? Al Leiter was right in pointing out that it would have been a lot smarter to put a "real reliever" in as a bridge between the two starters.

On the other side...what the *^%& was Francona doing putting Martinez in there? It was insulting. It was stupid. It got the crowd back in the game. It got the Yankee bats going. I have never been so angry about an opposing manager's move.

It was obvious that it wasn't Francona's idea. It was Pedro's, and the weak manager said "Okay, Petey. Go ahead. You deserve a 'triumphant' appearance at Yankee Stadium after all you've been through.'" If Martinez was trying to make amends with Boston fans and management, I don't think coming in with a huge lead and coughing up two runs and three hits is going to do it. And if he was auditioning to wear the interlocking NY on his cap next year...well...I for one wasn't impressed.

It was a reminder that Pedro Martinez is, as the Good Soldier Svejk would say, "a semi-fart."

I hope Boston is stupid enough to resign him and his declining velocity. I hope the Yankees are smart -- and lucky -- enough to finally find a real replacement for Andy Pettitte.

Oh, well. The baseball season is over for me. My only interest in the World Series is in seeing the Red Sox lose. Go Rogah!

Pitchers and catchers report in 181 days, I believe. In the meantime, there is an election -- in fact, a future -- to worry about.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The biggest game in the history of sport

The Yankees are tight as a drum. Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera are the only guys on this team whom I trust in this situation.

If the Yankees lose tonight, look to the owner's box as George, literally, explodes.

If the Yankees lose tonight it will be a long off-season for Cashman (as he looks for a new job) and Torre (as Steinbrenner makes his life a living hell).

If the Yankees lose tonight, "Carlos Beltran, call your agent. He wants to know how many years you want on your Yankee contract."

If the Yankees lose tonight, NYY fans can no longer make fun of Red Sox fans (though the Curse won't be dead for that requires a WS victory) and their pathos and bathos.

If the Yankees lose tonight, Steinbrenner may very well hire someone to really break Kevin Brown's hand.

All that and much, much more if the Yankees lose tonight.

But the Yankees won't lose tonight. They will win. On Mickey Mantle's birthday.

And look to see this guy come up big late in the game.

Forever blowing bubbles

This is one of the most extraordinary things I have ever heard from the President of the United States. Any one of them.

"I have no outside advice" in the war on terrorism, President Bush told Bob Woodward in December of 2001. In an interview that Woodward revealed to Nicholas Lemann in last week's issue of the New Yorker, Bush insisted that, "Anybody who says they're an outside adviser of this Administration on this particular matter is not telling the truth. First of all, in the initial phase of the war, I never left the compound. Nor did anybody come in the compound. I was, you talk about one guy in a bubble."

To admit that is bizarre. To crow about it is pathalogical.

Harold Myerson concludes.

With the presidential race coming down to its final two weeks, the Bush campaign has all but made a virtue of the bubble in which Bush resides and presides. This presidency is a triumph of the will, of resolve. Facts are for flip-floppers; data, for girlie-men. Kerry commands the facts and it breeds vacillation. The force is with Bush, and that is all he, and the nation, need. Bush has fused anti-empiricism and cultural resentment -- and that, should he ride it to victory, will truly be a catastrophic success.

"There aren't going to be any casualties"

That's what the guy who occupies the White House said to Pat Robertson regarding the invasion of Iraq.

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

The White House has made no reaction to Robertson's comments.

All presidents are put in a bubble. This goes way beyond that. Based on this quote, as well as Bush's performance in the debates and lately on the stump, I am more convinced than ever that our president is addicted to meth.

Laura Rozen, for one, is disturbed by this.

And it's kinda weird that God has expressed more positions on the war in Iraq than John Kerry.

Bring back the Cowsills!

Hats off to Curt Schilling. I can't stand the guy (didn't like him when he was a loutish Philly, didn't like him when he was an obnoxious Diamondback), but he pitched one hell of a game last night.

I think Dwight Gooden will be starting for the Yankees tonight in Game Seven, as Catfish Hunter is unavailable. Unbelievable.

BUT, I still want to see the rule that says you can't do what Rodriguez did in the Eighth inning. I think Torre should have protested the game, not that it would have mattered.

"You can't really carry baggage," added Torre. "I'm not saying that you feel good about the fact that you lost three in a row. There's no question you don't feel good about it, but this game, you prove yourself to yourself every day. We just have to call on the reserves that enabled us to bounce back from a lot of challenges all year."

UPDATE: According to Section 6.1 of the MLB Umpire Manual, "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act."

ANOTHER UPDATE: I thought I heard over the weekend that Arroyo and Rodriguez played football against other in high school. Was Rodriguez having a flashback in the eight last night?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sinclair Broadcasting making Edward R. Murrow proud

Sinclair Broadcasting, the media conglomerate that plans to force its 62 affiliates to preempt regular programming to air "Stolen Honor," the nakedly anti-Kerry film, gets a special award from the Columbia Journalism Review.

After his dismissal, [Jon] Leiberman [Sinclair's ex-Washington DC bureau chief who was fired for criticizing his employers running propaganda a week before the election] explained to CNN’s Paula Zahn how unlikely it is for Sinclair to devote an hour to any serious topic. “We haven’t done an hour-long special on anything else, not the war in Iraq, not the war in Afghanistan, not the election, not the debates.”

I think CJR's belief that Sinclair will finally open the eyes of politicians and regulators who will now see the danger of media conglomeration is a little too optimistic, especially if Bush and Michael Powell still are in charge.

Meanwhile, Sinclair's devotion to journalistic standards is legendary. So, too, is its devotion to its shareholders.

UPDATED to fix really bad misspellings.

AP can't bring themselves to mention Halliburton

The AP's Matt Kelley breathlessly reports on all of the various Bush and Kerry backers, whose companies have been found to be trading with Iraq and Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

One "backer" of Bush doesn't come up though. Kinda weird omission.

Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions.

According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. laws have banned most American commerce with Iran. Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is “non-American.” But, like the sign over the receptionist’s head, the brochure bears the Dallas company’s name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.”

An executive order signed by former President Bill Clinton in March 1995 prohibits “new investments (in Iran) by U.S. persons, including commitment of funds or other assets.” It also bars U.S. companies from performing services “that would benefit the Iranian oil industry.” Violation of the order can result in fines of as much as $500,000 for companies and up to 10 years in jail for individuals.”

Oh, yeah, and Halliburton, under the forceful yet ethical leadership of Dick Cheney, was violating UN sanctions in Iraq, as well, wasn't it?

But no mention of any of that in the AP story. Why, oh why, can't we have a better press corp? I know they didn't teach Kelley googling skills at steno school, but this is ridiculous.

David Brooks -- on a very short leash

David Brooks is now working directly for the White House.

It is remarkable how quickly he gets to work rewriting the Bucheney talking points: scare tactics, Mary Cheney, scare tactics, Mary Cheney. Repeat and rinse.

Kerry's second wild attack is that Bush would reinstate the draft. The administration, which hasn't even asked for trivial public sacrifices in a time of war, does not want to bring back the draft. The Pentagon does not want to bring back the draft. The Republican Party does not want to bring back the draft. Given the nature of military technology, it doesn't make sense to bring back the draft. There may be some in the bureaucracy taking precautions, but it is hard to imagine an attack with less basis in fact.

Pretty wild. Indeed. From Intel Dump:

Deployment of elite training regiment could have bad long-term implications for the Army

The Los Angeles Times provides a long report in Sunday's paper on the deployment of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, dubbed "Blackhorse" for the stallion on its shoulder patch, to Iraq for a year of combat duty. The regiment has long served as as the opposing force, or "OPFOR", for units from other installations coming to train at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Now, with the Army stretched to practically its breaking point over the Iraq and Afghanistan missions, the Army has turned to the Blackhorse regiment for help.

The article misses the most important point [sic]: deploying the OPFOR is like eating your seed corn. This unit is responsible for training other units and raising their level of expertise and combat readiness. The 11th ACR is being replaced by a National Guard unit. That's like replacing the Dodgers with a high school baseball team. Sure, they can both play baseball and wear the uniform — but one is a whole lot more proficient and experienced at its job. The OPFOR has a reputation as a tough enemy, and that's a good thing because it forces units training at the NTC to become better themselves. By replacing this unit with National Guard troops, the Army has hurt its ability to produce good units for Iraq in the future. Suffice to say, National Guard and active units that go through Fort Irwin aren't going to get the same tough experience they would have with the Blackhorse regiment as OPFOR — and that means they'll be less ready for combat when they get to Iraq. This is a desperation measure, and I think the Army will come to regret it.

Wild attacks. Why, I don't think Kerry can compete with Bucheney on wild attacks.

CARROLL, Ohio - Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) on Tuesday evoked the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) could combat such a threat, which the vice president called a concept "you've got to get your mind around."

The Bush M.O.

Via Digby, recent over-the-top attempts to smear Kerry seem to have been oddly facilitated by the U.S. government.

The main point of the Nightline report was that the villagers confirmed the wartime accounts from Kerry, his crew and the official U.S. records – that there had been heavy firing in the clash between Kerry’s Swift boats and Vietcong cadre on Feb. 28, 1969. The villagers also debunked a central claim by anti-Kerry Swift boat veteran John O’Neill that the only Vietcong fighter was a youngster in a loin cloth who was wounded and fleeing when Kerry shot him in the back.

Contradicting O’Neill’s best-selling book Unfit for Command, the villagers identified the dead Vietcong as Ba Thanh, a man in his mid-20s who was dressed in the Vietcong’s characteristic black pajamas. He had been sent to the village by headquarters with a B-40 rocket launcher as part of a special 12-man unit targeting Swift boats, the villagers said.

But a curious part of the Nightline report was a statement by one villager, Nguyen Van Khoai, who said two men – an American calling himself a Swift boat veteran and a cameraman – had interviewed him about the incident about six months earlier.

Nguyen remembered that the two visitors had mentioned that another Swift boat veteran was running for U.S. President and they said he “didn’t do anything to deserve the medal” won for his actions during the 1969 battle. Nguyen said he declined to discuss whether Kerry had deserved his medal, and the two men went back down river.

Nightline said it couldn’t identify the two men, but their appearance at a remote Vietnamese village – when Nightline had to overcome government resistance to travel there – suggests that allies of the Bush campaign may be going to extraordinary lengths to discredit Kerry. It also begs the question of whether the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam has played any role.

Apparently a family tradition. Bush pere tried to pull the same thing in '92, impugning Clinton's patriotism by tampering with Clinton's passport files to raise suspicions that Clinton had made a nefarious visit to the USSR in the late '60s, early '70s.

You were expecting something different?

Really, it couldn't have gone any other way so far.

"Nothing surprises me at this point," Jeter said. "Something always seems to happen. ... We put ourselves in a perfect position two days in a row, we just didn't win the games."

It's a wet day in New York today. Hopefully the game will be played tonight; no one knows what Schilling can bring, and we don't need any rest for the Sox bullpen.
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