Saturday, May 10, 2003

Something you will never see at Fox News...

or the Washington Times, or any number of other so-called "fair and balanced" right-wing propaganda mills. We're talking journalistic integrity here, folks. No matter what you may think about the Times' slant (or lack of slant) in its reporting, at least they care about getting it right:

A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.

. . .

Every newspaper, like every bank and every police department, trusts its employees to uphold central principles, and the inquiry found that Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth. His tools of deceit were a cellphone and a laptop computer — which allowed him to blur his true whereabouts — as well as round-the-clock access to databases of news articles from which he stole.

Compare the Times' front-page coverage of this with Fox News' claim that they have the right to mislead their viewers at will and distort the news however they like. From whom would you rather get your news? Who should you trust more to care about the truth?

Friday, May 09, 2003

Whoa! Bad idea!

Looks like proponents of the idea that low-yield nukes can be used for bunker-busters are paving the way for the realization of their dreams. Repubs on the Senate Armed Services Committee have voted (over the objections of Democrats) to repeal the 10-year-old ban on low-yield nuke research:

"This is a major shift in American policy," said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan, the panel's top Democrat. "It just sort of makes a mockery of our argument around the world that other countries — India, Pakistan — should not test and North Korea (news - web sites) and Iran should not obtain."

Two big problems come up with this sort of research. First, as Senator Levin mentioned above, non-proliferation becomes that much more difficult when we show no restraint ourselves on nuke development. In a time when we need to be trying to reduce the availability of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorists, this moves things in the wrong direction.

Second and more seriously, the development of low-yield nukes (5 kilotons and less) will make it that much more tempting to use nuclear weapons in wartime, as it blurs the bright line between conventional and nuclear. The Federation of American Scientists has more, and it's scary stuff.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

What goes up...

Must come back down, at least if you're Dubya. Bush's approval ratings have dropped from 5-8 points in the last two weeks, and disapproval has increased by an equal margin. That's faster than I had predicted, and rather ominous news for the Prez.

Real life has a nasty way of intruding on right-wing fantasies, I guess. I just didn't think it would happen this quickly...
"He's the President! He can do what he wants!"

I actually heard this gem as a justification for Bush's exploitation of the sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier for a campaign photo-op.

You know, I have yet to hear anyone claim that Bush didn't have the power to fly out to the aircraft carrier. Hell, Bill Clinton was the President when he got a blow job in the Oval Office. He "could do what he wanted", right? Of course, that wasn't the point.

Bush's "tailhook scandal" cost the taxpayers extra money and kept a bunch of sailors who had been at sea for ten months out there for an extra day. And it was wholly inappropriate -- he baldly used the US military for his personal campaign purposes. That is simply wrong.

Funny how the same people who screamed bloody murder over Clinton's Oval Office behavior and the Gore campaign releasing some extra water for a canoe photo op have no problem with this. I guess morality is relative, huh?
Salem Pax is back

One of the most interesting sites on the net up to and into the beginning of the Iraqi war was the blog of Salem Pax, which is now live again (posts stopped after March 24, and there was much speculation that something very bad had happened) -- Pax is supposedly a resident in Baghdad. Given his account, I'd say he looks legit, and rather fortunate.

Anyway, I recommend everyone read his account of the war -- it's long, but it puts an endearing human face on the Iraqi people (one does wonder a bit, though, how "mainstream" he is, in Iraqi society, from a socio-economic perspective).

Per his account, there's a lot that was done in admirable fashion during the war. But there were some really dumb things done, as well. Pax describes it like it was and is, with very little in the way of politics. The guy didn't like Saddam (who can blame him), but he wasn't terribly fond of the war, either, nor Bush.

It sure makes you pull for Dubya to do the right thing by Iraq from here on out...

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Ted Nugent: idiot

Looks like the GOP is making no effort to hide its prejudices, these days. First came Santorum with his GOP-approved rants against homosexuality. Then came the right wing rants about John Kerry hiding his (gasp!) jewish heritage (how's an anti-semite to know not to vote for him?). Now, arch-gunloon Ted "he's-a-celebrity-but-he's-right-wing-so-he's-OK" Nugent is in hot water for making racially-insensitive remarks:

Denver radio listeners and disc jockeys were shell-shocked Monday after rocker Ted Nugent used derogatory racial terms for Asians and blacks on live radio.

The highly rated Lewis & Floorwax morning show on 103.5-FM The Fox quickly turned into a discussion of race relations after the '70s rocker made his statements.

In using the words "g----" and "n-----" on live radio, Nugent was apparently trying to make the point that the terms were just words and shouldn't offend anyone. But he missed the mark, listeners and Fox personnel agreed.

In true right-wing form, however, Nugent responded with the rhetoric of the hurt victim, referring to the reaction to his words as "political correctness".

Yeah, that's it, Nuge. We're all just too sensitive about that racism thing.


In yet another sterling illustration of the quality of leadership to be found in and around the Bush administration, the LA Times is reporting that prior to the Iraq war, Richard Perle, advisor to the Pentagon and chief neo-con war hawk, gave a presentation at an investment seminar on ways investors could benefit from the Iraq war, after receiving a top-secret briefing on the upcoming conflict:

PERLE, who until March was chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisers to the Pentagon, also serves on the board of several defense contractors. The revelation raises concerns about conflicts of interest.

The Times reported that Perle attended a Defense Intelligence Agency briefing in February and three weeks later participated in a Goldman Sachs conference call in which he advised investors in a talk titled "Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?"

This story raises some very interesting questions regarding conflicts of interest and misuse of top secret material (to say nothing of general sleaziness. These are the types of criminal minds who would engage in price gouging after natural disasters and try to profit off of people's deaths...oh wait--that appears to be exactly what they're doing right now).

Additionally, word is now coming that Halliburton (Dick Cheney's former firm, which still pays him a severance salary) has received a far more lucrative deal in post-war Iraq than was earlier believed, to the tune of $7 billion:

Prior descriptions said Vice President Dick Cheney's former company would fight oil fires. The contract also lets the company operate the oil fields for a time and distribute the petroleum, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said Tuesday. Waxman cited information he received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which awarded the contract.

Cheney's office has said repeatedly that the vice president has no role in Halliburton's operations or its government contracts.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton said the company's initial announcement of the contract on March 24 disclosed the larger role for its KBR subsidiary.

The Corps wrote Waxman last Friday that the contract included not only extinguishing fires but "operation of facilities and distribution of products."

. . .

[Waxman said,] "Only now, over five weeks after the contract was first disclosed, are members of Congress and the public learning that Halliburton may be asked to pump and distribute Iraqi oil under the contract."

And people wonder why many on the left feel the motives of this administration are less than pure. Is "if it feels good, do it" and "look out for number one" what we want "American values" to be about?

They found a truck in Iraq.

No WMD's. Just a truck that Rumsfeld is expected to soon cite as a "former mobile bioweapons lab". One wonders, though, whether this is yet another report that will later be retracted or "modified".

Sad that, thanks to many reports so far that have turned out to be false, such things come to mind. Sad too that darker notions of faked evidence will undoubtedly occur to many around the world, thanks to the administration's refusal to allow the UN weapons inspectors to take the lead in searching post-war Iraq.

Of course, according to several people familiar with the alleged bioweapons lab, the equipment could have had a commercial purpose, as well. Furthermore, there's no information regarding when, if ever, the truck was used.

Finally, it should be noted that all such finds are actually beside the point. Few people, myself included, doubted before the war that we would find WMDs in Iraq. Frankly, I still believe we'll find something -- heck, we know they had weapons programs at one time, and it's entirely plausible that something is left, either unintentionally or intentionally. It's fairly clear at this point, though, that we're not going to find anywhere near the quantities cited by Bush in his effort to scare the American public into backing war with Iraq; it's also clear (as others have stated eloquently) that the administration was either guilty of rank incompetence or wasn't actually that worried about WMDs when it left various weapons and hazardous materials sites unsecured in Iraq for weeks after the war (many of which are now looted).

The only thing in this that really matters, from US security standpoint, is ties to al Qaeda. Without them, all the WMDs in the world were not a threat to us. Show me proof of that, and I'll be the first to praise the administration's (perhaps inadvertently fortunate) actions in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Pentagon is claiming that the reason Saddam didn't use banned weapons might have been that they were "buried too deeply to be retrieved in time" to use, given the breakneck pace of the attack on Baghdad. Hmmm...I might believe it -- if they hadn't had several months notice we were going to attack them.

But hey, anything's possible.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003


Paul Krugman sums it all up in 750 words in his latest column. The whole thing is great, so I won't try to excerpt anything here. He pretty much lays it all out and puts a bow on it all, too.

It's all in the spin, folks. For the record, the stuff Krugman details explains exactly why Democrats have absolutely no reason to cede national security and foreign policy to this fraud of a president.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Brief hiatus

I will be taking a short break from posting at the DWMB due to other pressing matters. Posting will be a good deal more sporadic for about a week's time.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

The overwhelming force of the right wing

Looks like the latest Dixie Chicks concert was sold out -- and was picketed by a single protester.

The times, they are a-changin'.

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