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February 01, 2003
Submitted for your consideration
An exchange from the Bush/Blair press conference:
Q Mr. President, an account of the White House after 9/11 says that you ordered invasion plans for Iraq six days after September the 11th -- Bob Woodward's account. Isn't it the case that you have always intended war on Iraq, and that international diplomacy is a charade in this case?
This is, of course, a demonstrable lie, as this article makes clear. This war has been on the drafting board since well before September 11. And any pundit who argues otherwise is either poorly informed or lying, and in either case, is not a person whose words should be trusted.
Not looking good
In case you're checking this site before you look at the news, it looks like we lost the shuttle and its crew on reentry.
January 30, 2003
Unscientific poll watch
Fox News is asking, "Should Bush set a deadline for Saddam?" Right now, "Yes, we've given him too much time already" is leading with 88%, while "No, let the inspectors work" has a mere 10% ("not sure" accounts for the other 2%).
As always, this site encourages you to participate fully in democracy in all its varied guises.
Update: link removed because the poll has run its course. Have a good weekend--I think I'm done here for the week.
Speaking of tinfoil hats...
A reader draws my attention to this report, titled Rebuilding America's Defenses (.pdf format), from a thinktank called the Project for a New American Century. I haven't looked through the whole thing yet, but here are a couple of sobering excerpts:
ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces: --defend the American homeland; --fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars; --perform the "constabulary" duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions; --transform U.S. forces to exploit the "revolution in military affairs"
* * *
... the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event ñ like a new Pearl Harbor.
* * *
Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Did I mention that this was written in September of 2000? Or that signatories to the original PNAC Statement of Principles included Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and Paul Wolfowitz?
I'm going out to buy some Reynolds Wrap now.
Update: my pal Vance Lemkuhl emails to point out that this was a front page story at his paper, the Philadelphia Daily News, on Monday.
Just because you're paranoid...
Meant to post this tidbit yesterday, but Patrick Nielsen Hayden has done the heavy lifting:
There's more on his site, go read it.
(Update: just to be clear, all joking about tinfoil hats aside, this is originally from Fortune magazine.)
And speaking of the way the world really works--er, that is to say, crazy conspiracy theories--this is from The Hill:
On May 23, 1997, Victor Baird, who resigned Monday as director of the Senate Ethics Committee, sent a letter to Sen. Charles Hagel requesting ìadditional, clarifying informationî for the personal financial disclosure report that all lawmakers are required to file annually.
Just ponder the implications of that for a moment...
(Via reader Carolyn Kay, but I see that the all-seeing, all-knowing Atrios is on it too.)
January 29, 2003
Unscientific poll watch
An ongoing public service of thismodernworld.com.
Bill O'Reilly wants to know if you think the President's State Of The Union speech was effective. There are two possible responses, either "Yes - Just what we needed," or "No-a total disappointment." Right now the results are running 94% in favor of the former.
Just so you know.
Update: Here's Wolf Blitzer's version of the same question.
Highlights of the State of the Union
Anybody from Symantec reading this website?
Just got this from a reader:
Just to say that I cannot access your website, since the public access facility I use installed "Norton Internet Security Family Edition". It seems that the guys at Symantec decided that your site is not suitable for family, and hence, as an adult, I am not allowed to see it.
Is this true? Has Symantec decided that children should not be exposed to the politics of this site?
Inquiring minds want to know.
The president has laid out his agenda. Call it bold, brilliant, audacious or outrageous. But donít call it ìconservative.î
...which side will co-opt this quote first:
"Your enemy is not surrounding your country. your enemy is ruling your country."
This one also struck me as ripe for appropriation:
"Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world."
Deja vu all over again
"The key weapon in the warriors' political arsenal was the fear inspired by a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein.....Initially, Safire predicted that the Iraqis would have the nuclear bomb ready to deliver to the United States by 1994 ("The first city he will take out is New York"). A few months into the crisis, in the midst of four consecutive columns on the subject, The Times man moved the deadline up to 1993..... Unfortunately, neither Safire nor anyone else in the West had any dependable information about the Iraqi nuclear program.... even Colin Powell saw the threat as years away."
January 28, 2003
I don't suppose this will change anyone's mind...
"UPI ought to be embarassed now that Helen Thomas has said that George Bush is the worst president in American history." --Sean Hannity, on his radio show, a few minutes ago, apparently unaware that Helen Thomas resigned from UPI when the Moonies bought it in 2000.
Message in a bottle
Ken Layne had some free advice for Salon recently. I'm especially with him on this:
Next, I'd get rid of all the right-leaning columnists. It's pointless to pretend you're all things to all people when you're clearly a left-leaning San Francisco site for left-leaning yuppies. If that's the readership, embrace it. Return to the partisan days of the Clinton impeachment. Make fun of Dubya. Profile Jackson Browne or whoever.
Well, maybe not Jackson Browne--and I think Salon has been an important critic of Dubya--but you get the basic idea. Salon is a left/liberal site, which needs the loyalty of its core audience right now more than ever. Clicking through the ad or coughing over the subscription money only to be confronted with Andrew Sullivan's Liberal Idiocy of the Week column is the online equivalent of a sucker punch.
What's the old quote? A liberal is someone who's so fair-minded, he won't take his own side in an argument?
(As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts about Salon with Salon, rather than me.)
Stormin' Norman, version 2.0
The general who commanded U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War says he hasn't seen enough evidence to convince him that his old comrades Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz are correct in moving toward a new war now. He thinks U.N. inspections are still the proper course to follow. He's worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan, and even more by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq.
On to slightly more important matters...
When you read about the evils of Saddam's regime, it all almost begins to make sense. Maybe they're right, you think. Maybe the Iraqi people really will be grateful to have been liberated from this repressive, murderous, torturous regime.
And then you read this:
The US intends to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and psychologically" by raining down on its people as many as 800 cruise missiles in two days.
And then you come to your senses.
If this is true, and not just some kind of planted Psyop story designed to freak out the Iraqis--well, fuck us all. Does even the most bloodthirsty warblogger honestly imagine that the Iraqi people are going to be grateful, if they even manage to survive a two day blitz of 300-400 cruise missiles?
Sometimes the cure really is worse than the disease.
* * *
And then there's Nicholas Kristoff's level-headed cost-benefit analysis in this morning's New York Times (registration required--get over it):
The starting point to justify an invasion, it seems to me, has to be an affirmative answer to the question: Will we be safer if we invade?
I don't know if Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction (though attacking Iraq is certainly one way to find out for sure). But I don't doubt for a moment that there are plenty of people who would like to see a reprise of 9/11, and who will view this as a terrific opportunity to make that happen. The pro-war types seem to be thinking of the Attack on Iraq as an exciting new reality series they've been looking forward to--but as a resident of the City Most Likely to be Destroyed by a Suitcase Bomb at any Moment, I have this nagging feeling that I may end up on the wrong side of the television screen...
About Working For Change
The cartoon is supposed to go up on their site on Tuesdays, but I don't know exactly when. If you can't wait, you've always got the choice to click through Salon's ads. I know it's a pain, but try to remember: Salon isn't bankrolled by Bill Gates, and they don't have a print edition whose advertising and subscriptions support their online version. They're simply trying to figure out how to stay afloat.
If those ads make you so angry that you're never going to read Salon again, etc., etc., well--I agree, they're sort of a nuisance. But what you're also telling me, of course, is that my work isn't worth an extra ten seconds of your time.
You can imagine the depth of my sympathy.
(Those of you who do consider the cartoon worth the trouble have my sincere and heartfelt thanks--as do the majority of you who have, as requested, sent your thoughts on this subject to Salon, rather than to me.)
Update: some people actually prefer the new policy.
The new Salon policy is great! Watch one little commercial -- and you get a free day pass to all of Salon Premium!
January 27, 2003
Oh hell, I just can't stay away
This is a well-worth-your-time, first-person account of the Washington rally (and the media numbers game) by Matt Taibbi of The Beast, which is apparently the successor to Taibbi's legendary Moscow weekly, the eXile. I'm not going to excerpt it, it's long and it's all good, just go read it. (Also via August.)
Okay, one more
Facing its most chronic shortage in oil stocks for 27 years, the US has this month turned to an unlikely source of help - Iraq.
As noted below, if attending an anti-war rally organized by ANSWER means that you support their hidden agenda, then certainly writing for the Washington Times makes you objectively pro-Moonie. Andrew Sullivan, for instance, takes a regular paycheck from the man who once referred to America as "Satan's Harvest." Talk about "depraved" (to use one of Andrew's favorite words)...
The vast majority of demonstrators arguably had no idea who even organized the rally. But no political commentator can plausibly plead ignorance when it comes to the Reverend Moon.
The point is, guilt by association is a slippery slope. (And spare me the Trent Lott comparisons--that's guilt by deliberate affiliation, which is a whole different can of worms.)
And as Katha Pollitt noted a few months ago, communists were prominent in the civil rights movement. Would the world be a better place today if there had been right wing bloggers on the case, trying to discredit Dr. King and the March on Washington because of it?
Well, no, it would not.
(Edited ever-so-slighty for clarity.)
January 26, 2003
If you need a reality check after reading Bill Keller's biliously worshipful profile of our glorious leader in today's New York Times Magazine, I'd recommend this piece by Robert Reich in the current American Prospect:
A midterm USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll had Bush's job approval rating falling to 58 percent, dropping below 60 percent for the first time since the September 11 attacks. Under these circumstances, any other president would be in danger of losing his job. But Rove has convinced the press, and therefore the American public, that this presidency is nearly invincible. He has done it with an ingenious blend of chicanery and obfuscation, aided by the Democrats' utter incapability of devising a coherent message in response.
Atrios nails it...
For all the talk about how the protesters were "supporting ANSWER" why do my friends on the other side never worry too much about supporting the theocratic aims of Reverend Moon and the Unification Church? The latter owns an influential Washington daily newspaper, much beloved in all conservative circles, and has published and presumably paid ANSWER-bashers Glenn Reynolds, Jonah Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan, etc. Unlike the former, who have no political influence and presumably minimal financial backing, Moon is a billionaire who donates oodles to many other right wing causes and organizations. While anti-war protesters were accused of supporting Stalinism and coddling dictators simply for showing up to an anti-war protest sponsored in part by a pathetic shell of an organization, many of our favorite conservatives actually work for a powerful wealthy man who has used his vast financial resources to push his frightening political agenda.
On May 1, 1997, Moon told a group of followers that "the country that represents Satan's harvest is America." [ Unification News, June 1997] In other sermons, he has vowed that his victorious movement will "digest" any American who tries to maintain his or her individuality. He especially has criticized American women who must "negate yourself 100 percent" to be a receptacle for the male seed.
Talk about an America-hater.
In fairness to overworked newspaper editors...
Just in case my posts on astroturfing have been too harsh on them, here's a report from the front:
I'm a long-time fan and reader, both of your strip (on Salon and when I lived in Nevada at the Reno News and Review) and the Web log. Generally, I agree about 100 percent with what you are saying, but I have to take exception to the astroturfing thread.
Our story so far
Head to Body & Soul for a good recap of the adventures of Dick Cheney, Enabler of Evil. (Permalinks seem to be glitchy there, so you may need to scroll down.)
A propaganda primer
From Late Night Thoughts:
1. It appears out of nowhere as a full-blown argument and becomes the only explanation . Until late yesterday, the majority of the pro-war argument about the anti-war demonstrations had centered on the numbers (too few people to matter). Suddenly, after the pictures appeared on the Web and the numbers could not be denied, the taint by association screed appeared, and every major right-wing blogger adopted it immediately. Please note that the adopters are not the creators; they just simply latch on to an argument that reinforces their own beliefs.
Via Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who notes, "The author knows a thing or two about propaganda: she grew up in Castro's Cuba."
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