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January 16, 2004

Meetings all day

See you next week.


January 15, 2004

Our roving correspondent Bob...

...reports from New Zealand.

If there are any publishers lurking out there, you should contact him. You've got the makings of a classic travel book right here.


January 14, 2004

All the news that fits

Via the Times this morning, we learn that President Spend-Like-a-Drunken-Sailor not only wants to fight two wars, engage in long-term nation-building, and get all Space: 1999 on our asses--he also wants to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage.

Yes, you read that right.

I keep thinking I can't be surprised anymore. And yet, this administration's capacity to surprise is apparently infinite. We wake up each morning and really, genuinely don't know what they're going to do next. This never-ending astonishment we experience, it is their gift to us.

Tomorrow, it will turn out that Halliburton is somehow involved in the marriage-promotion business, and we will once again put down the newspaper and turn to our significant others with and say, with voices tinged with amazement, "You're really not going to believe this."

(We speak of heterosexual marriage, of course. Christian advocacy groups are still pressing the President to use the State of the Union address to promote a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. That soft thud you just heard was Andrew Sullivan's head exploding from the pressure of cognitive dissonance.)

And speaking of our friends at Halliburton.

I see (via Billmon) that they are angling for some piece of the Mars program. And speaking, as we were yesterday, of what passes for thought in some quarters, I also see our friends on the right are dismissing that one as more oil-conspiracy-mongering--even though it is a matter of public record that Halliburton is, in fact, in line for what Billmon aptly summarizes as:

...a drilling project on Mars -- roughly 300 million miles away from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Using proprietary technology so secret the customer can't be told what it is or how it works. Under the harshest and most difficult conditions imaginable. And with a $1 trillion budget to hide it in.

Get it? Huge government contract? More money than Scrooge McDuck ever dreamed of splashing around in? Oil's not even mentioned here--they're talking about drilling for water for chrissakes. (Oh, and by the way: spelling "oil" with each letter repeated multiple times does not constitute an actual argument. Just saying.)

Yes, those wacky Bush-haters and their crazy theories! Next thing you know they'll be telling us that Saddam and Osama weren't best buddies!

Oh, wait.

Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle American troops, according to a document found with the former Iraqi leader when he was captured, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

The document appears to be a directive, written after he lost power, from Mr. Hussein to leaders of the Iraqi resistance, counseling caution against getting too close to Islamic jihadists and other foreign Arabs coming into occupied Iraq, according to American officials.

It provides a second piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Mr. Hussein's government and terrorists from Al Qaeda. C.I.A. interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Mr. Hussein.

Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.

Final thought, and this is the one that's probably going to get me more email than anything else in this post: I think it's finally time to acknowledge that "24" has jumped the shark. I keep watching, but really, they lost me a couple weeks back with that "it was all a dream" moment, in which Jack Bauer explains that all the events up to that point were part of an elaborate, carefully planned ruse. Anybody who believes the writers had that one plotted out from the start needs to contact me, because, you know, bridge, for sale.


January 13, 2004

Moving on

Last night's MoveOn event was quite the shindig. Thanks to Greg and Tom for the invite, and congratulations to all involved.

Today, deadlines loom. But two quick links: Rall crunches the numbers on that idiotic "Iraq is safer than New York" thing that's floating around, while August takes a look at Bill O'Reilly's equally specious self-promotion.

...and one more, from the Mighty Mighty Reason Man, on what passes for thought on the righty blogs.


January 12, 2004

Legend in his own mind
He didn't free the slaves.

He didn't rid the world of Hitler.

He didn't even - like his father - preside over the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

Yet George W. Bush tells New Yorker writer Ken Auletta: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

With stunners like that, no wonder he spends so little time with journalists.

More, via TBogg.

March of progress

I'm sure there are many exciting, fabulous uses to which nanotechnology will eventually be put. I guess. Actually it's not something to which I've paid much attention, so I guess the HP commercial promoting the concept last night at the end of 60 Minutes was aimed at people like me. And in order to capture my imagination, they provided two examples of those exciting, fabulous uses:

"These are nature's building blocks, and they can be used to build some amazing things. Like a cell phone so small an ant could use it, or a tiny computer that can hold every book ever written."

And across America, puzzled viewers thought, Did I hear that right? Cell phones for ants?

Powell's link

(Post deleted due to confusion on part of author. As it turns out, the referrer account appears to be active after all.)

...all back to normal. One point from the original post I'd like to reiterate, though. I'm not going to pull out a tiny violin and play you a melody, but due to my traffic volume and all the image files tucked away on this site, I do have somewhat higher server costs than the average blogger. The Cafe Press store and the bookstore referrer links are mainly ways I try to even that out.

Chocolate rations are up

The right wing spin on O'Neill is still developing; the apologists and b-listers are still trying to decide which storyline works best. One of the contenders I'm seeing is a variation on the failed "Everyone knew Valerie Plame was a spy" effort of months past. In this case, "Everyone knew Bush wanted to invade Iraq from the start!"

Or to put it in terms Winston Smith would understand, "We have always been at war with Iraq."

Though I have little chance of stemming the constant tide of right wing bullshit, I always feel compelled to try. So, two quick quotes from President Bush himself. First, Candidate Bush's public position on nation building from an Oct. 3, 2000 debate with Al Gore, in which he was critical of the Clinton Administration for being, yes, too interventionist:

"If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. I'm going to prevent that."

The second quote is from a joint press conference with Tony Blair on January 31, 2003. Bush was asked if it were true, as Bob Woodward had recently claimed, that he started making plans to invade Iraq in the immediate aftermath of September 11.

Bush's reply:

"Actually, prior to September 11, we were discussing smart sanctions. We were trying to fashion a sanction regime that would make it more likely to be able to contain somebody like Saddam Hussein. After September 11, the doctrine of containment just doesn’t hold any water… the strategic vision of our country shifted dramatically… because we now recognize that oceans no longer protect us, that we’re vulnerable to attack. And the worst form of attack could come from somebody acquiring weapons of mass destruction and using them on the American people… I now realize the stakes. I realize the world has changed. My most important obligation is to protect the American people from further harm, and I will do that."

Just so we're clear on this: O'Neill's revelation that Bush intended to go to war with Iraq from the very start of his administration and only used 9/11 as an excuse is news. Many on the left may have suspected this to be the case, but "everybody" most assuredly did not "already know it". (An aside: it is astonishing to watch yesterday's left-wing conspiracy theories morph into today's right-wing conventional wisdom. Chocolate rations are up!)

We're subject to so much input every day that the timeline of events, even recent events, quickly becomes a little hazy, and I think this is what the propagandists rely on. No, they say, don't you remember? George Bush announced his plans to invade Iraq during the 2000 campaign! And that doesn't sound quite right, but they drive it home relentlessly, repeat it at every opportunity, and at a certain point the Big Lie kicks in and becomes conventional wisdom.

But make no mistake: it is bullshit.

(...if you buy the book through this link, I'll get a small kickback.)


January 11, 2004

Oh for chrissakes...

(Though this looks like something I would write for a cartoon, it's an actual screen shot.)

...related thougts from Kos.


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