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Friday, March 21, 2003

Going ahead with "shock and awe"

Looks like we spoke too soon.
Budget Busting

Folks, let's be clear on something. The proposed Bush budget will NOT stimulate the economy, nor will it provide most tax cut relief to the average person or small business.

The historical evidence simply runs counter to Bush's statements. While short-run changes in tax rates can result in short-run stimulus to the economy, there is virtually no correlation whatsoever between federal tax rates and economic growth. It's a myth, period. The tax rates themselves have no discernable influence on growth at their current levels, most cuts will be offset by decreases in federal investment in the economy, and many cuts in federal taxes will be offset at the state level, anyway (thanks to the terrible economic condition in which the states find themselves).

There's a reason that Dubya's father called the kind of thing he's trying to do "voodoo economics", and he was proven right in the 80's. It's an economic policy formulated by flakes and right-wing journalists, not respected economists.

Why all this info? Well the House of Representatives has already passed Bush's budget with his huge, budget-busting, class-warfare tax cuts intact, and the Senate is in danger of doing the same.

Folks, this budget simply runs counter to virtually all of the priorities most Americans say they support, and in fact, runs counter to the priorities Bush says he supports. It's time to contact your Senator and let him or her know this is unacceptable. We'll be paying for the damage for years to come. Your voice can make a difference!
Poll Pondering

The latest polls are in, and the results are not unexpected, given Americans' well-known (and understandable) "rally-around-the-flag" tendencies. Look for approval ratings to top out in the 70-75% range, then begin to fall again. This may change, of course, if the media starts doing its job and widely reporting the disastrous incompetence of the Bush budget, or if things in Iraq don't go well. Remember, Bush's father had a boost in approval ratings at about the same point in his presidency that topped out at around 90%, yet he lost in 1992, and his policies (economic and otherwise) and war effort were perfectly sane by comparison.

In fact, just about the only things that might save Bush are another war after this one, or another terrorist attack, or a truly, abysmally incompetent Democratic challenger. Unfortunately, all of those things are possible, so Democrats have to push extremely hard from here on out to win 2004, and non-democratic progressives need to put their differences with Dems aside and vote to stop this right-wing scourge...
Notice
Posting may be more erratic than normal (not like it's terribly regular right now, but the frequency will likely decrease) over the next couple of days, as I'll be traveling.
Possibilities

It's starting to look like the "decapitation" attack yesterday may have hit its mark. If that's the case, I must once again commend President Bush for deciding to attempt that limited attack and withhold a comprehensive barrage, as well as the intelligence community and an incomparable military command-and control system that made such a surgical strike possible.

So what happens if Hussein and his sons are dead? Well, if that's the case, this "war" may already be largely over. There may be other considerations, such as a conflict between Kurds and Turks to the north, and mop-up of Ba-ath Party loyalists (worst case, in urban fighting in Baghdad). But assuming things go easily from here on out, what then?

There may be temptations to cry victory for the policy of "pre-emption" -- proponents will be even more emboldened carry out such pre-emptive attacks against other targets, assuming all of them will go as smoothly as this one.

There will also be another possible conclusion, though: that Iraq was never really a threat in any realistic sense, and the US war was even less justified than had been believed.

If a full-scale attack is not carried out, there will presumably be a lot less damage to repair. It would seem several oil wells will need fixing. Also, Nicholas Kristof points out today that plans to use Iraqi oil to pay for post-war repairs are unrealistic:

Some have suggested brightly that Iraqi oil will pay for rebuilding the country. It won't. Iraqi oil production capacity has been falling in recent years, not rising, and it will be expensive to turn that around. A report this month from the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that restoring production to its peak in 1977 — 3.5 million barrels per day, compared with a capacity today of 2.8 million barrels per day — would require spending $6 billion over two years.

Finally, a very low civilian casualty count would certainly quell anger on the Arab street -- a gift of good fortune of which the administration should take full advantage by making good on its promises to rebuild Iraq, leave genuine democracy in our wake and not occupy the country nor take its resources.

There will be a lot of damage to international relations to repair, in any case. Let's start now, and bring the UN in, as best we can, for any rebuilding efforts.

ADDENDUM:
If the war goes easily and smoothly from here on out, I think we can look for a mild (5-10%) bump in Bush's approval ratings that will then decrease at about the same rate it was before, or slightly faster. Bush's ability to piss off the public with kooky and unfair policies isn't going to go away.
Hope...
I'm actually starting to hope that Iraqi resistance will be so light, and surrenders so common, that very few people will get killed in this war. It certainly looks like the Bush administration (doubtless on recommendation from military advisors, but even so) is restraining the attack at this point -- for which I commend them.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Just because not enough people think they're really filthy...

Bush is getting ready to increase government secrecy.

I suppose one good thing is that this is evidently not as bad as it looked like it might be when Bush first announced that he would alter Clinton's order. The bad thing, of course, is that it shouldn't be happening at all.
One more time, for the record...

Many people seem to confuse opposing American troops with opposing the war, or opposing Dubya's handling of our international affairs, motives or rationales going into this war.

Opposing American troops is screaming about baby killers. Opposing the troops is marching and claiming the troops are out murdering people. It's the kind of misguided stuff we saw in the Vietnam era.

In short, "opposing the troops" means "opposing the troops" (to borrow a phrase from Dubya).

For better or worse, America (like all nations) needs a military which will fight and kill when told to do so, and do it better than any enemy. The troops in Iraq are doing their jobs, and I salute them for it. They are doing exactly what they should be doing, and I support them unequivocally as they do it. I want them to kick ass and take names.

I can understand those who feel that marching in opposition to the Iraq War (perhaps a bad idea in and of itself, but that's another story) sends the wrong message to troops doing battle. I agree with that position, which is one reason I (for one) am not out marching: I don't want to inadvertently send the wrong message. Furthermore, I can also state with full conviction that getting rid of Saddam is the right thing to do. I may not agree with the means or the possible administration motives, but the ends are not in doubt.

However, "sending the wrong message" is not the same thing as opposing our troops. American soldiers have fought -- and died -- for our right to speak freely. I will not sell out that right, for which people have paid in blood, in the name of what currently passes as "political correctness". Additionally, it's wrong to claim those who do march against the war "oppose the troops". It's simply not the same thing, regardless of the message sent or the wisdom or effectiveness of marching in the first place. To claim this is jingoistic and itself anti-American; President Bush is not America, nor is America the equivalent of any single policy decision.

Finally, it should be noted that many of those shouting about "supporting the troops" do so with a political agenda, and shamelessly use "support of the troops" to advance it (see the post below). This is far worse than any anti-war protester yelling about Dubya.

I guess I just needed to get that off my chest. Too often, this sort of confusion causes unnecessary misunderstanding between those in favor of and opposed to a war. It's that much worse when the "misunderstanding" is deliberate. I think we all want our troops to succeed handily, and to come home safely. Let's leave the divisive "love it or leave it" stuff behind and work out our differences.

UPDATE:
Tapped has a nice post on this very topic. It's noted that marching isn't really a great idea at this point, since it will only alienate people, serve as a substitute for real political action, and absolutely won't stop the war. To that I would add that it will probably send the wrong idea to a bunch of good people who are only doing their jobs. The intended targets of such marching aren't about to listen.

That said, if people want to march, that's their right. I hope they're responsible enough to translate their feelings into voting in 2004, though.
Slashing and Burning

The latest House budget proposal makes deep cuts in programs many middle- and low-income people rely upon in order to make room for Bush's tax giveaway to the rich.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has issued a new report on which government services will be cut, and they note:

Given the large dollar and percentage reductions that would be made in these programs, the notion that this amount of budget reduction can be squeezed out of “waste, fraud, and abuse” is not credible. If it were possible, why did Congress not do so long ago? Perhaps more significantly, even if savings of this magnitude were possible without cutting benefits or removing beneficiaries from the rolls, attempting to secure such savings would entail providing large increases in federal funding for administration of these programs; the General Accounting Office has explained that more time, money, and manpower must be put into such efforts if they are to yield any sort of reduction in costs. Such additional resources would have to be provided through the annual appropriations process, however, and it is unlikely such resources would be available under the House budget plan, since the plan calls for reductions in annual funding for appropriated non-defense programs every year for the next ten years. The funding reductions in appropriated non-defense programs would amount to about $200 billion over ten years under the plan, as compared to the funding levels for fiscal year 2003, adjusted only for inflation.

These are not small cuts, folks, and they will result in real hardship for many, many people; even so, CBPP notes that they won't be enough to offset the huge deficits that will be created by the proposed Bush tax cuts and other Bush proposals.

Everyone needs to contact their congresscritters right now! The extremist House leadership is shamelessly putting pressure on moderate hold-outs to pass Bush's outrageously irresponsible and unfair budget proposal by claiming the need to support Dubya in wartime. If passed, we'll be undoing the damage for decades.

UPDATE:
CBPP also notes that even the large cuts noted above are surpassed by the tax cuts proposed for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The priorities are atrocious, and they are completely out-of-touch with the needs and values of most Americans.
One thing we were afraid of...

Looks like we're doing a nice job of creating a new generation of terrorists:

Hundreds of thousands of people marched on American embassies in world capitals Thursday to protest the war against Iraq, including a violent clash in Cairo, where demonstrators hurled stones and metal barricades and pounded on cars...

Demonstrators shouted "Down with Arab leaders!" and "Leave, leave Mubarak!" in reference to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- an indication of the anger many Arabs feel toward their own governments for failing, in their view, to act strongly enough to avoid war.

I believe this is less a result of a military action to overthrow Hussein (whom very few like, even in the Arab world) than the arrogant, incompetent way Bush has gone about it. We are less safe today than we were yesterday, and that will be true for years to come, thanks to Dubya's bumbling regarding this war.
Shouldn't it be a done deal by now?

Why is it that Ari Fleischer is still trying to sell the war even as it's happening? They continue to pad the list of those countries who have agreed not to criticize the US's attack. This is dishonest (most of them are not providing anything more than moral support, and among those who are doing more, most aren't providing combat troops) and silly. It's also dangerous, as it will most likely convinced those on the easily-duped far right that other countries will just join in future pre-emptive attacks when they see war start, further eroding any future attempts at diplomacy.
The Turkey Factor

The Turkish Parliment has voted to allow the US to use its airspace in an attack on Iraq. More ominously, they also voted to allow Turkish troops to enter Iraq in the event of war. This may not bode well for stability, thanks to enmity between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Iraq. Stay tuned.
Rumsfeld confirms the worst

Looks like our suspicions were correct: Don Rumsfeld confirmed today that we plan on selling Iraqi oil and using the proceeds to pay American companies to rebuild Iraq.

Basically, this means that we're not planning on repairing the damage we do -- we're going to make the Iraqis do it (or at least foot the bill). This would have been similar to the US seizing the assets of Germany after WWII and using them as payment for rebuilding their country. Not as bad as not rebuilding at all, but a far cry from the Marshall Plan that built a lasting peace for Europe ever since.

Additionally, the word is contracts for rebuilding Iraq have been handed out to a few American companies. This is analogous to a contractor burning someone's house down, then forcing that person to pay the contractor to build a new one. Sure, it's a great way to generate business. But it's hard to claim altruistic motives in the process, isn't it?

UPDATE:

Arianna Huffington informs us that the normal bidding process (surprise) was circumvented in choosing the companies that will be given fat-cat contracts for rebuilding Iraq. And (again, loads of surprise) the big winners are big GOP campaign donors:

So just which companies were given first crack at the post-Saddam spoils?

Well, given Team Bush's track record, it will probably not fill you with "shock and awe" to learn that the common denominator among the chosen few is a proven willingness to make large campaign donations to the Grand Old Party. Between them, the bidders -- a quartet of well-connected corporate consortiums that includes Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp., and, of course, Vice President Cheney's old cronies at Halliburton -- have donated a combined $2.8 million over the past two election cycles, 68 percent of which went to Republicans.

The insider track given these fat cat donors proves afresh that splurging on a politician is one of the soundest and safest investments you can make. Where else will a $2.8 million ante offer you a one-in-four shot at raking in a $1.5 billion payoff?

And that $1.5 billion is just for starters. The president is planning to give post-Saddam Iraq an extreme makeover -- a wide-ranging overhaul that will include the transformation of the country's educational, health-care, and banking systems -- all funded by taxpayer dollars and administered by private U.S. contractors. Think of it as a for-profit Marshall Plan.

Folks, they used to call this sort of thing "corruption". Where is the liberal media on this story?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A victory for common sense

Looks like the pro-ANWR-drilling contingent has failed to win support for drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge.

Lord only knows what we'll do now to save ourselves from blackmail over foreign oil. Everyone knows increasing fuel efficiency 3 mpg (which would save up to five times more oil than what ANWR is expected to yield) is entirely unattainable.
Time to rename it "Clearly Freedom"?

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal has harsh words regarding Bush's "diplomatic efforts" in a report today:

"The world expects someone who's the president of a superpower to be a statesman. I think he's let not only Americans, but the world, down by not being a statesman."

As Bill Maher has said, "We can't win a popularity contest with Iraq. That's like losing a school board election to the neighborhood child molester." (quoted via The Guerilla News Network). I think it's not too much for the American People to ask to have a competent, articulate and responsive representative in the White House.
Good ol' Walter

Walter Cronkite has weighed in on the upcoming Iraq war, and he's pretty critical of Bush.

Speaking Tuesday at a Drew University forum, Cronkite issued a stinging rebuke of Bush and those who believe the war will be a quick, smooth operation that ends with Saddam Hussein's ouster. He said the refusal of France and other traditional U.S. allies to support the administration's plans signaled something deeper, and more ominous, than a mere foreign policy disagreement.

"I look at our future as, I'm sorry, being very, very dark. Let's see our cards as we rise to meet the difficulties that lie ahead," Cronkite, 86, told a crowd of about 2,000 that included students, university officials, faculty and nearby residents.

Despite the general ass-kissing Bush is enjoying in the conservative media, at least some are still willing to criticize Bush for his obvious missteps. Cronkite also pointed out the importance of supporting the troops, something with which I think all of us would agree.

Please check out the song "In a World Gone Mad" by the Beastie Boys, too (also available on our main website). Looks like the pro-war, pro-GOP Clear Channel Worldwide Inc. mega-media corporation has someone new to censor (they are banning the Dixie Chicks' music from their radio stations in retaliation for Natalie Maines' comments criticizing Dubya).
Scalia Gets an Award for WHAT????

Jesus, this is eerie. The City Club of Cleveland, an organization which allegedly supports those who work hard for free speech issues, have decided to award ANTONIN SCALIA!!!??? with an award tonight.

The catch?

Scalia won't allow the proceedings to be broadcast. The awards ceremony is always broadcast, but Scalia has banned all cameras and broadcasters from the room while he's there.

We recommend all write the City Club and let them know how you feel about their choice and this obvious violation of their Club Constitution.



Quick Round-up

The European Union says listening devices have been found in French and German offices (among others) in a building to be used for an upcoming EU summit. No word yet on who might be responsible.

North Korea is claiming the right to continue to develop long-range missiles. There's concern that they will do so while the US is distracted with Iraq.

Rupert Murdoch has been foiled in his attempt to spread his propaganda to India, as the government there has smartly placed caps on the amount of foreign investment allowed on television news channels.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has claimed another victim, this one a French Doctor. No word yet on the cause of the disease, although investigators have some leads (it's similar to Mumps). Perhaps we should consider spending a little more money fighting infectious diseases and a little less fighting each other. In today's interconnected world, a new infectious disease can spread awfully fast...

It's been known for some time, but now it's official: the US and UK are planning on using Iraqi Oil funds to help pay for rebuilding Iraq. How nice. Two questions come to mind: first, is it really right to destroy Iraq, then make them pay for cleaning it up (not exactly a Marshall Plan)? How will that make us look? Second, does this mean that our newfound grand principles of sowing democracy around the globe are limited to oil-rich countries?

That's all for now...more as it comes in...

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Deep in the irony

Republicans are engaging in blatantly partisan attacks against Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle for his honest comments regarding Bush and his failed diplomacy.

Senator Daschle surely made his remarks knowing full well they would buy him harsh criticism among many people. There can be little doubt his statements, far from being "partisan", were in fact sincere. His far-right critics, however, are quite another matter.

Deriding Daschle has become quite the pastime for GOP hacks, but the Repubs are now taking advantage of the upcoming war and danger to our servicemen and servicewomen to stifle any criticism of Bush and his actions, and in particular to go after their chief Democratic rival. Such politically-motivated, reprehensible attacks are a disservice to the men and women who fight and give their lives to uphold the values of freedom of speech and democracy for which America stands.

Note to far-right idiots: if you want to gain political advantage through attacks on anyone less extreme than you, don't use the lives and well-being of America's finest as a vehicle to do it. They deserve far better.
For love of democracy

I saw several nice interviews with Richard Perle last night on multiple channels. I don't recall which exactly, but in one of them he noted that, by voting against letting the US stage troops within their borders, Turkey was demonstrating "some of the pitfalls of democracy".

To many on the left, it will come as no surprise that right wingers have a deep-seated hatred of democracy. But it's instructive to hear it stated so bluntly.

Evidently, democracy's fine unless the decision reached isn't what you want. Then, democracy has "failed".

Yeah, these guys should get four more years.
Gotta love this from Colin Powell!

Apparently, the Bushies are still trying to show the UN that a whole lotta people support this "war" effort. Powell got up today and claimed a 45-nation coalition in support of this garbage -- plus, FIFTEEN nations who won't go on the record. Ahem. Apparently, we're still not supposed to know about Never Never Land, and Snta's Workshop is afraid of a drop in business.

Here are a few of the countries who WILL go on the record: Afghanistan, (gee, wonder why?), Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia ( of course they support us; we're their best drug customers!), the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia (do we really WANT these people on our side?), the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

You know you've hit the big time when you have Slovakia and Uzbekistan on your side.
One way to build a coalition

Andy Borowitz informs us today that the Bush administration is resorting to some highly unorthodox methods for building a coalition of the willing. Evidently, they've asked the Raelians to clone Tony Blair.

Talk about a tough choice, huh? To clone or not to clone...
Some nutbar from North Carolina -- a tobacco farmer, no less -- is demonstrating just how vulnerable we all are, and how stupid all of this "Homeland Security" bullshit is.

Seems the guy was able to drive all the way to the National Mall with a trailer a truck and a small tractor. Somehow, yesterday at about 12:30 pm, the idiot backed the tractor into a small pond near the reflecting pool. He claims to have ammonium nitrate on the tractor and as such, one guy who may or may not have explosives, has been able to keep the National Park Police, the DC Police, the FBI Police (and no, that is not redundant; such an organization does exist) and other occupied for more than 25 hours now, and has shut down the Federal Reserve, the National Academy of Sciences and all roads in the immediate area.

Now, forgetting the likelihood that if this guy had darker skin and/or a Muslim-sounding name, he would have left this mortal coil sometime before afternoon rush hour yesterday, one has to wonder how effective the humongous bureaucracy created by Congress and the junta just for such a purpose will be in the short or long run?

Not only that, but this moron kinda blows the whole concept of racial profiling to shit, doesn't it?
Seems war is good for one thing: cable news ratings.

Seems that all three major cable news channels have started with their war coverage, apparently up to and including the exact color of Saddam Hussein's latest stools. Whatever makes for "good video" (read; bloody as hell, or the brightest-colored bombs, or the greatest numbers of Iraqi soldiers surrendering) is what actually makes the news. And the only information that matters these days is that which will seel a few extra ad spots.

An interesting thing happened yesterday. American diplomats recommended that any and all Americans in Baghdad leave, for their own safety. Among those who left were correspondents from ABC and NBC.

I think that speaks for itself...

Coming Home to Roost

One of the main reasons the US should abide by international laws and treaties is that failure to do so can come back to haunt us. Thus, it's no great surprise to the Weasels that Iraqi officials are threatening to "burn or behead" any captured American soldiers.

Consider: right now, we hold indefinitely and endlessly interrogate (using very questionable methods) hundreds of "unlawful combatants", including Taliban soldiers. We refuse to give them either prisoner-of-war status or try them in a court of law. Additionally, we are about to start a war without the blessing of international law (despite all the rhetoric, no UN resolution has specifically authorized military action); in fact, we are ignoring said law.

None of the Weasels wants to see any American soldier tortured or killed when captured. But international conventions, treaties and laws are there for a reason, and they protect us as well as others. Quite possibly, this administration's reckless disregard for such international structures has now placed our service men and women in additional danger.

That's not to say Saddam in particular wouldn't be making this threat on the eve of a war to dislodge him if this administration were to act with more respect towards international law and norms. However, we probably wouldn't be talking about starting a war right now in the first place were that the case. This administration's determination to overthrow Saddam is part and parcel of its attitude towards international law and conventions.

More importantly, the arrogant disregard of international concerns adds unnecessary irony to American calls for humane treatment of prisoners. How are we to claim any sort of moral high ground, or speak with any sort of authority when we take the low road otherwise?

And why the hell would we want to give any enemy (Saddam or otherwise) the ability to say to his troops, "Look! look what happens when the United States goes to war! Don't surrender -- if you do, you'll be tortured and held prisoner permanently!"

We have created a situation wherein "anything goes" is the rule of the day. Let's hope that doesn't cost us dearly, but we're deeply concerned it will.
The "Coalition of the Willing"

Looks like our "coalition of the willing" amounts to little more than a "Coalition of the Unwilling to Criticize". According to the AP, Spain (one of two allies at our Azores war council, and held up as a "good ally" as compared with France) is refusing to contribute any combat troops for Invasion Iraq 2003.

Who should we consider a better ally: countries that state their opinions honestly and act on those opinions, or countries that suck up to us, but refuse to help out when push comes to shove?

Now, I'm not saying that Spain is a poor ally overall. Nor am I saying that France's motives in opposing our upcoming invasion of Iraq were pure. But it's kind of ridiculous for us to hold up countries that aren't contributing a single combat soldier as an example of our "Coalition of the Willing", don't you think?

One wonders how many of the other 29 countries in the "coalition" have committed to little more than moral support for the war effort, as well.
Perle's swindle

Joanne Mariner has written an interesting editorial regarding Richard Perle's attempt to duck US First Amendment protections by filing suit for libel against Seymour Hersh in British Court.

Whatever the outcome of the suit, Perle's threat to file it has already sent a chilling message to the American press. With war in Iraq imminent, the stakes are high. Already the most divisive U.S. military intervention since Vietnam, the war will place heavy demands on journalists' skill and integrity.

With courageous investigative reporting more than ever necessary, it is no time to subject American journalists to British rules.

Of course, from the far right point-of-view of the current administration and its advisors, there's no time better than the present for eliminating or circumventing pesky Constitutional rights, and if there's one thing they can't abide, it's journalists promoting democratic oversight by throwing light on the administration's actions. The only thing surprising is why it took one of them so long to try this.

As an aside, if Perle goes through with his planned lawsuit, I might suggest to Hersh (were I a lawyer) that he countersue for slander in the same venue regarding Perle's "terrorist" comment. Given the popularity of this administration with the British public these days, I would think things might not turn out too well for Perle.

Monday, March 17, 2003

All things considered...

Since it's most likely a foregone conclusion we will invade Iraq sometime over the next three days, I would like to take a moment and send my best wishes, thoughts and prayers to the US troops who will be placed in harm's way by this action. If we're going to do this, let's win and do it with the lowest loss of life, especially for our side. Take care of yourselves, and thanks for doing a difficult job for us.

I'd also like to extend my heartfelt wishes, thoughts and prayers to Iraqi civilians who will be placed in danger by this action, Iraqi soldiers doing their duty, and any other people in the area and outside who may be put in danger thanks to this war.

May it be over soon, and with the least harm possible. And may I be completely wrong: may Iraqi soldiers surrender in droves, may the victory be swift and relatively painless, may there be few atrocities once Saddam's brutal regime is toppled, may al Qaeda not be strengthened by the attack and may we wisely and thoroughly rebuild Iraq into a place worth living in.
Not sure I'd want him on my side...

A pro-war activist has evidently driven a tractor towing a Jeep into a pond near the Washington Monument. Reports from the scene indicate the man is wearing army fatigues and playing military cadences over a loudspeaker.

It is to be hoped that this person will be apprehended and given the help he needs (is there a 12-step freeper program?). It is also to be hoped that this person is not a current member of the administration -- but you never can be too sure.


A few odds and ends you might not hear about otherwise...

Congress nears nod to oil drilling in Alaskan wildlife refuge.

Because they haven't found a way to link it to terrorism, Congress is unlikely to act on Social Security.

A Judge won't dismiss wiretap charges against former Virginia GOP head.

We've truly gone nuts, as the Department of Homeland Security may ground model rockets. Evidently, the solid fuel used in the model rocket motors is being re-classified as an "explosive material". No word yet on how long AM/FM car radios, clearly useable by terrorists for nefarious purposes, will remain legal.

Former Illinois Governor Ryan said the U.S. should be "embarrassed" by capital punishment.

The latest Zogby poll has the Dubster losing yet more ground, with a scant 54%-46% approve/disapprove ratio.

And stocks are up today, as investors briefly forget about the Bush economy amid talk of a quick, painless Iraq war. We also expect Bush to get a brief (but disappointing, for Karl R.) boost in the polls thanks to the upcoming Iraq war.
An empire?

Tapped today points to the excellent Newsweek article by Fareed Zakaria mentioned in our previous post on the dangers of pursuing Dubya-brand foreign policy. Again, a must-read for anyone who wonders why we shouldn't just do as we like, bribing, humiliating and threatening other countries into line as we go.

The Roman Empire model of foreign policy is not a good one for us to use, folks. For that matter, it wasn't all that great for the Romans in the long run, either. Something to think about.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

More on fear
It would seem the Weasels aren't the only ones who have noticed that much of what passes for US policy and sentiment these days seems to radiate from a severe case of paranoia. Calpundit (Kevin Drum) has an excellent post on this fact: he discusses a current Newsweek article on the irrational fear driving US policy and the impact of that policy around the world.

September 11 was a terrible, terrible day. Once can never overstate the horror of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the greatest victory terrorists could ask for is to turn the United States into a nation afraid of the world. It's time we rediscovered our courage, and stopped being afraid of our own shadow. We are the most militarily powerful nation the planet has ever seen; there is no nation (nor, indeed, existing alliance of nations) that we cannot defeat in battle. And although 9-11 was horrible, all things considered, the terrorists got damn lucky: our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have stopped hundreds of such plots over the last two decades.

Ironically, the greatest danger we face is not Iraq or any nation or organization; it is fear of the world. It is a siege mentality that will drive us to alienate our friends and make new enemies. The Bush administration won't fix this for us -- the best we can say is that they are populated by the most paranoid among us, and the worst is that they (and the rest of the far right) are taking blatant advantage of our fear, stoking it for political advantage, using it to enact nightmare policies to which the populace would never otherwise agree.

It's time for us to wake up. It's time to remember what it is to be America once again -- The Home of the Brave. There truly is only one thing that can defeat us: ourselves.
A one-sided debate

It seems like the news media have taken leave of their senses. Virtually all the outlets are reporting the administration's point of view on the UN: that the UN has "24 hours to decide whether it's relevant". Where the hell is another point-of-view? Have the media decided to avoid even their normal, limp-wristed "he-said-she-said" policy when it comes to Iraq?

Is it so difficult to point out that many people around the world AND the United States feel that the UN is already asserting its relevance by opposing Bush and his pre-ordained, religiously-inspired push to war with Iraq?

I expect the gung-ho fascist crap from Faux News, but does everyone else have to follow its lead?

"Liberal Media", indeed.

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