Saturday, March 15, 2003

LETTER FROM DOXAGORA

As a bred (if not born) N'awlinian, I've decided that it is my duty to protest the provincial behavior of my fellow warmongers. Hence, I modestly offer this plan of protest, which I will myself begin undertaking immediately:

Starting tommorow, begin the day with beignets and cafe au lait; a pot au feu in the evening; and perhaps, a lamb and duck confit cassoulet with a glass of the 2000 Baudry Cuvee du Domaine for dinner. I suggest a triple creme brie with a fine tawny port for dessert. The next day, start with crepes, fresh fruit, and thick cream; for lunch, a souffle au fromage; in the evening, a filet mignon sauce Roquefort and a sorbet for a palate cleanser. Repeat until the politicians capitulate, or until you must buy a new wardrobe.

To show your seriousness, vow not to eat "freedom fries" or "freedom toast," unless they are offered to you as pommes frites or pain perdu, and are prepared by a chef trained at the Parisian Cordon Bleu. (Denny's does *not* count!)

While we're staging our sit-ins at fine restaurants and bistros (where we will fill the tables and reservation lists), the politicians will be indulging themselves with "freedom fries" and "liberty burgers" at all-American drive-thrus. I understand that it's going to be tough, but sometimes one must stand for principle.

En avant pour la France! Liberte, Fraternite, Bon Appetit!

Cheers,

-tWB

Friday, March 14, 2003

LET'S BOYCOTT THE ANTI-FRENCH WHINE -- We've seen how the pro-war crowd has been demonizing the French for daring to exercise their own judgment on foreign policy--and how this has sunk to an unforseen level of idiocy. It seems, however, that this dim-witted right-wing boycott of French products (even if those products are not actually French) is not exactly catching on with everyone. Thus far, sales data do not seem ominous and 'it does not appear that people are staying away from French wines any more than they have been for the past year,' says ACNielsen, a market research firm.

My favorite quote so far: ''There's certainly no anti-French sentiment here,'' says Michael Scibilia, merchandise manager for the (upscale Dean & Deluca) stores. ''Our customer base tends to be more savvy and well rounded intellectually. We're not the 7-Eleven, and we're not the Safeway.'' As Glenn Reynolds might write: Heh.

Meanwhile, down in New Orleans, where some of the best food in the world is served up with a French flair, the locals like their fries, kisses, and onion soup the old fashioned way--French.

And we all know how Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel thinks on this issue. (See below.) There is hope, I think, that civilization might just be saved from the Limbaugh Troglodytes.

Heh.
YOU'LL LAUGH AT THIS -- Oh, yes you will!
WHERE THE MONUMENTS ARE -- Are there too many memorials in Manhattan? I would say no, but apparently many residents would not agree with me. Since I'm not a resident of Manhattan, that ought to shut me up, right? Well, perhaps it ought to, but it won't. After all, I love Manhattan and plan to visit it fairly often, so even though I live in the D.C. area I feel an attachment to that great and crowded little island.

Manhattan memorial supporters "say memorials are an honored subset of the larger cultural enrichment of a neighborhood. Fears that accumulating memorials will turn the neighborhood into an institutionalized Washington Mall of the North are exaggerated."

Count me as a member of this group. Memorials--properly designed and built, of course--add character and an historical dimension to any public place, especially a city like New York. Memorials remind us of what we have done (as a nation, people, polis), as well as the values we treasure and ideals to which we aspire. These are useful reminders, not only for the adults who comprehend them upon viewing, but also for children, who may need the significance of many memorials explained to them.

Furthermore, Manhattanites should not fret about becoming 'an institutionalized Washington Mall of the North." The monuments of Washington, D.C. are unique and New York City will never--cannot ever--match them. As the capital of the country and the physical repository of America's historical memory, Washington, D.C. is without peer and shall remain so forever. The tendency of some Manhattanites to sneer at the Washington Mall is not only annoying, but preposterous. The Washington Mall is wonderful and often elegant. It teaches as it entertains and even the great New York City cannot match it. So there.

There is another view about memorials, of course. "'They're taking up every last bit of open land,' said Helene Zucker Seeman, a founder of Battery Park City United, a residents' group. She complained that the abundance of memorials was uninviting to families with children, who want more space devoted to recreation. 'While everyone's crying out for open space, we're building memorials and parks just for the elderly to walk through,' she said."

It seems to me the solution is obvious, if not simple. Make the memorials more user-friendly, especially for children. When visiting the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (top) in Washington, D.C., I have frequently seen children walking and playing among the stone slabs and pools of water. And what child would not be fascinated by the Korean War Monument in Washington, D.C., with its unit of life-sized, poncho-covered grim soldiers on patrol through the wet countryside. From a distance a new visitor could be forgiven for mistaking the eerily accurate statues for real soldiers, playing out some odd exercise in the middle of the nation's capital.

If we design more memorials like the FDR and Korean War memorials, they will attract people of all ages--and tourists, as well. For a city facing the sort of financial crisis New York City is facing, and with a mayor determined to revive the city's financies through tourism, building user-friendly memorials (and plenty of them) would seem like an obvious idea.

Wouldn't it?
MEEOOOWWWW -- Should this goddess play Catwoman on the silver screen? Works for me. Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer--step back, please.

I wonder who will play Batman in this high-kicking action flick? Does it matter? As a dedicated fan of the Caped Crusader I can't believe I'm writing this, but the answer is definitely 'no.' The Batman movie franchise was destroyed by Joel Shumacher and probably shouldn't be revived for a while. Give us Catwoman. Or just give us Halle Berry. Whatever. It's all good.
HOORAY FOR HAGEL -- Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has been critical of the Bush admin's unilateralism and he gave another speech in the vein yesterday to the National Council of International Visitors. My favorite line: "I'd like to announce that tonight I'm off to buy a case of French wine." That statement, according to The Washington Post, was greeted by enthusiastic cheers. I should say.
PAUL KRUGMAN TELLING IT LIKE IT IS -- "There's a long list of pundits who previously supported Bush's policy on Iraq but have publicly changed their minds. None of them quarrel with the goal; who wouldn't want to see Saddam Hussein overthrown? But they are finally realizing that Mr. Bush is the wrong man to do the job. And more people than you would think — including a fair number of people in the Treasury Department, the State Department and, yes, the Pentagon — don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality."

Read it all.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

DUMBEST PERSON IN AMERICA AWARD -- And the early favorite is...
ROCK AGAINST WAR -- Politics may be taboo at nationally televised award shows, but not on stage with certain musicians. According to multiple Hotline concertgoer sources, both Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen got political in recent days. -- Last night in Providence, RI, Springsteen opened his show with the tune "War" and closed with "Born in the USA." Before his closer, one observer tells us Springsteen noted how 20 years ago he wrote a song about Vietnam and hoped that he won't have to write another song about another war. He then shouted, to polite but not thunderous applause, "NO WAR IN IRAQ." -- In DC at the MCI Center on 3/9, Bon Jovi came out for his encore in a "Gore-Lieberman 2000" official campaign staff t-shirt. His two encore songs, "Eve of Destruction" and "Keep the Faith." In the middle of the show, the band did perform "Wanted Dead or Alive."

--from The Hotline (subscription required).
WHAT TO READ -- BusinessWeek has an excellent article about General Wesley Clark, prospective Democratic candidate for president. I've written in this space several times that I hope General Clark will run and serve as Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, or Vice President in a John Kerry administration. General Clark has some clever and sophisticated ideas about U.S. foreign policy and defense policies. He deserves to be heard and seems to be getting a lot of attention right now.

The American Prospect chimes in with a piece about "The Gates of Hell" scenario for our Iraq War, where we destroy Saddam Hussein but unleash forces we do not understand and cannot control. I happen to think this scenario far more likely than the oh-so-rosy "New Dawn" vision espoused by the neocon chickenhawks like Mr Wolfowitz, Mr Rumsfeld, and Mr Feith. Judge for yourself.
LED BY LIARS -- The New Republic has a great article about how the administration has only itself to blame if few people trust its motives in Iraq. After all, notes the pro-invasion magazine, the Bush admin has repeatedly lied about its claims of Iraqi attempts to procure nuclear weapons (Uranium from Niger, high strength aluminum tubes to enrich uranium) and those unmanned aerial vehicles that couldn't go further than a few hundred miles that it is no wonder the rest of the world suspects nefarious motives lie behind the impending invasion of Iraq. Indeed, the falsehoods told by Mr Bush, Mr Cheney, General Powell and others are so blatant that it is impossible to believe that the administration was unaware of their lack of truthfulness. As The New Republic author puts it: "Absent some convincing explanation by the White House, the most plausible theory is that key officials in the Bush administration knew--or at least suspected--they were making false claims. And they made them anyway."

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

BIN LADEN CAPTURE A SECRET? -- Ever since the Pakistanis arrested Sheikh Khalid, a close associate of Osama Bin Laden, rumors have been flying that the capture of Bin Laden himself is imminent. Sheikh Khalid purportedly has told Pakistani authorities that he met with Mr Bin Laden a month before his own capture, but has refused to provide an exact date or location for the alleged meeting. On several occasions the White House has been forced to deny that Mr Bin Laden has been arrested. Mr Bin Laden is almost certainly hiding out with supporters in the vast and poorly guarded border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the latter country, especially, Mr Bin Laden enjoys considerable popularity among certain sectors of the radical population and they have protected him since he went on the run after the United States invaded Afghanistan and toppled Mr Bin Laden's Taliban protector.

Now, a member of a small Islamist party in Pakistan is alleging that Mr Bin Laden has already been caught and news of his arrest has been suppressed so that it may be revealed to coincide with the start of the Iraq War. Is this true? Probably not, but it has gained some attention because most people following the story believe the White House is capable of contemplating such a stunt.
SADDAM'S SIX TASKS -- UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has a list of disarmament conditions for Iraq to meet in order to avoid a U.S./UK/Australian invasion. They are:

1. a statement in Arabic by Saddam Hussein admitting that he has concealed weapons of mass destruction and will no longer produce or retain such weapons;

2. that he should arrange for the delivery of at least 30 scientists, with their families, if they wish, for interview outside Iraq;

3. that he surrenders all the anthrax, the 10,000 liters unaccounted for, or credible evidence of its destruction;

4. that he complete the destruction of the Al Samoud missiles;

5. that he account for all unmanned aerial vehicles, including details of any testing of an devices for spraying of chemical and biological weapons; and

6. that he surrender all mobile chemical and biological production facilities.

These all sound reasonable to me, though I wouldn't automatically follow non-compliance with invasion, as Mr Straw suggests. Nevertheless, those are six conditions Iraq ought to be meeting in any case.
PLANTE FOOT IN MOUTH -- Kudos to CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante for asking the dumbest and most incomprehensible question of Mr Bush's March 6 press conference:

"Mr. President, to a lot of people, it seems that war is probably inevitable because many people doubt—most people I would guess—that Saddam Hussein will ever do what we are demanding that he do, which is disarm. And if war is inevitable, there are a lot of people in this country, as much as half by polling standards, who agree that he should be disarmed, who listen to you say that you have the evidence, but who feel they haven’t seen it, and who still wonder why blood has to be shed if he hasn’t attacked us."

Thanks to The Daily Howler for this one.
SENATOR GRAHAM GETTING READY FOR IOWA -- Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham gearing up to win the Iowa caucus in less than a year, though I wonder how competitive he will really try to be. I'm sure Senator Graham wants to win Iowa and New Hampshire, but I suspect his true goal is to win South Carolina, the third contest in the nominating process. If Graham does not do terribly well in Iowa and New Hampshire, it won't really count against him in the public mind because he is not expected to win those states. However, if that does happen he must win South Carolina. This would have the double effect of catapulting him to the top tier of Democratic contenders and destroying the candidacy of Senator John Edwards, the only other southerner in the race. One way or another South Carolina will end the presidential candidacy of one Southern Senator.

Senator Graham deserves to be a serious candidate. As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2001 and 2002, the Senator gained a bipartisan reputation for asking tough questions about the war on terror. Senator Graham actually voted against the war resolution, arguing that it didn't go far enough. He has been harshly critical of the Bush admin's focus on Iraq, arguing that groups like Al Qaeda and Hizbollah are a far greater danger.
A MILESTONE TO MAKE TEXAS PROUD -- Since Texas resumed executions in 1982, 299 people of been killed by that state. Convicted murderer Delma Banks, barring a last-second reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, will be number 300. Three former federal judges, including former FBI Director William Sessions are supporting Mr Banks' appeal to the Supreme Court, aruging that problems with lawyers and witnesses in Banks' trial led to a wrongful conviction.

Texas accounts for more than one-third of the 835 executions in the United States since 1976, when the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment. Virginia is a very distant second with 87 executions since 1976. Guess which governor sent the most prisoners to their deaths?
40 LICKS MINUS FOUR -- The Rolling Stones will not be allowed to play four of their hit songs when they tour the People's Republic of China in April. Those four songs: "Brown Sugar", "Let's Spend the Night Together", "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Beast of Burden." The four songs were banned for sexual content.

"Brown Sugar"? Apparently the Chinese government doesn't approve of interracial coupling.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

WHITE HOUSE KILLS TESTIMONY ON IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION -- A Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting about post-war Iraqi reconstruction didn't go off as planned today when the White House refused to allow several scheduled speakers to testify. The reason was clear: Democrats and some Republicans on the Committee intended to ask some pointed questions about the cost of Iraqi reconstruction and the administration has a strict policy of not discussing that matter in the public sphere. Members of both parties were angry.

SEN. DODD: "Well, I, along with Senator Lugar, was deeply upset, disturbed today to discover that the administration refused to send either the -- General Garner or the head of USAID to testify before the Foreign Relations Committee regarding the estimated costs of winning the peace in Iraq, on the assumption there will be a military conflict, and the cost of our participation in -- on the humanitarian relief efforts -- food, medicine and the like.

"I found it tremendously disturbing to find out as well, of course, that these -- there have been at least four, maybe five corporations that have been asked to submit bids, between $900 million and a billion dollars, on reconstruction costs in Iraq, and yet here are these members of the Foreign Relations Committee denied the opportunity in a public hearing to question and to be given estimates, even rough estimates, of what the cost of this will be to the American taxpayer.

"I know that those estimates exist. You're not going to convince me they don't. They've got a best-case and a worst-case scenario. And they have the numbers, and they're refusing to give those of us in Congress an opportunity to review them and to ask questions about them. And as a result of that, we can't tell the taxpayers in this country, who are going to be asked to foot the bill of all of this, what the charge is going to be in the aftermath, all of this.

"So I'm hopeful that those numbers will be forthcoming, but there's an arrogance here to deny the Congress of the United States an opportunity to ask civil questions of people charged with trying to provide estimates of what the cost of this will be. And I think Democrats and Republicans are equally disturbed about this...

"I don't know of a single person in this community or anywhere in the country who would believe for a minute that the administration hasn't run cost figures on all of this and has some idea of what the best and worst case scenarios would be. None of us expect absolutely specific numbers, but we certainly anticipate getting some sense of a ballpark of what all of this would be. And I think the refusal to stand up to even come before the Congress, to turn down the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee when he asked them to testify before them, is arrogant...

"[I]f you're going to convince the American public to support this war effort and to support the aftermath of it, then it seems to me you ought to be coming clean with what your rough estimates are so that you can sustain those levels of support. I guarantee you that there will be people after the fact who are going to be saying, 'Why are we spending this much money when you never gave us an indication of what the costs would be, when we have so many demands here at home?'...

"[I]n light of the fact that we're going to be having a budget vote without any numbers before us, all the budget numbers we're going to be talking about have nothing to do with the cost of this conflict or the aftermath of it, and it seems to me that the American public have a right to know that when we're being asked to support a budget that's going to increase the deficit by more than $2 trillion, without the cost of this war or the cost of the reconstruction period afterwards."

Q Can you just answer your own question then, Senator? Why can Halliburton and Brown & Root get a briefing and the chairman can't?

SEN. DODD: Well, apparently, I think the administration believes that they can get away with it, that the Congress will just -- will not do anything about it.

The question is, then: What, if anything, will Congress do about this? What will Congress do about the admin's unwillingness to tell us what it doesn't want us to know? This war is going to cost probably $100 billion and the reconstruction could be costlier still. The admin knows that if the American public knew this support for the Iraq War would drop--perhaps dramatically. So the admin has created a code of omerta on the subject of the cost of Iraqi reconstruction and the American people won't know the truth until after the war is over and we're committed to this massive nation-building project.

Never has a country been led so blindly and somnolently into war. The administration asks for nothing but silence and obedience. Will the Congress be both silent and obedient? Yes, I think.
CONGRESS IS GETTING DUMBER -- Changing the name of 'french fries' to 'freedom fries' and the name of 'french toast' to 'freedom toast' was a stupid idea, even by the standards of hate radio and warbloggers. It is only natural then, that the drooling, troglodytic House Republicans jumped on the bandwagon in the silliest and most embarrassing manner possible.

Yep, those geniuses in the House Republican caucus have changed the names of those two dishes in the House cafeteria. Apparently, these dopes think they're making some point by doing this--other than demonstrating their appalling lack of grace, decency, and anything that could remotely be considered intelligence. This is similar to those appalling displays against Japan during the 1980s by members of both parties. I specifically recall Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) taking a hammer to Japanese electronic products to signal his displeasure with Japanese trade restrictions. It was preposterous and embarrassing then and it is even more so now. One House Republican, however, believes the move against 'French' food was unnecessary.

"I don't think we have to retaliate against France," opined House Majority Leader/Jackass Tom DeLay (R-TX). "They have isolated themselves."

Yeah, that's right, Tom. The French have isolated themselves with 90% of the world's population. I never thought it possible, but these people are getting dumber. Just goes to show that even when you think they've gone as low as they can go, the right-wing Republicans will always find a trapdoor to the basement.
WILL WE GO TO WAR WITHOUT THE BRITS? -- Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked about the plunging support for war in the United Kingdom and what effect this might have on that country's participation in the upcoming Iraq War...

Q Sir, support for a possible war is shrinking rapidly in Great Britain. Would the -- two questions. Would the United States go to war without Great Britain? And two, would the role of the British in an initial assault be scaled back?

SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a matter that most of the senior officials in the government discuss with the U.K. on a daily or every- other-day basis. And I had a good visit with the minister of Defense of the U.K. about an hour ago. Their situation is distinctive to their country, and they have a government that deals with a parliament in their way, distinctive way. And what will ultimately be decided is unclear as to their role; that is to say, their role in the event that a decision is made to use force. There's the second issue of their role in a post- Saddam Hussein reconstruction process or stabilization process, which would be a different matter. And I think until we know what the resolution is, we won't know the answer is to what their role will be. And to the extent that they are able to participate, in the event that the president decides to use force, that would obviously be welcomed. To the extent they're not, there are workarounds and they would not be involved, at least in that phase of it.

Q We would consider going to war without our closest ally, then?

SEC. RUMSFELD: That is an issue that the president will be addressing in the days ahead, one would assume.

In other words, the United States is prepared to go to war in Iraq even if the Brits cannot/do not join us on the field of battle. Presumably, the Australians would still be around, but our most loyal and outspoken ally, Great Britain, might not go to war with us. Mr Rumsfeld seems to be hinting that if the UK does not take part in the actual battle, it would still be welcome to participate in the ugly and far more dangerous job of cleaning up Iraq after the war is over. This would involve pitching in money to rebuild and deploying troops to occupy and police the country after the removal of Saddam Hussein.
EBOLA RETURNS, KILLS -- The latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has killed at least 100 people and perhaps as many as 800 gorillas in the central African country of Congo. Ebola is a deadly filovirus which is carried through bodily fluids and slays 50-90% of the people it infects. The most common explanation for the origin of Ebola outbreaks is the fondness for 'bush meat'--monkey meat--among many Africans. It is likely this most recent outbreak, which began in January, started this way.

According to primatologist Bermejo Magdalena, gorillas have been disappearing at an alarming rate where she works in the Lossi sanctuary, which covers 123 square miles.
"In the sanctuary of about 1,200 gorillas we are now down to just 450 gorillas. We have recorded the disappearance of 600 to 800 gorillas," she said, adding the outbreak could spread to the nearby Odzala park and might then contaminate forests in Gabon. "If Odzala is also contaminated by the epidemic, that's nearly 20,000 gorillas under threat. That's very serious, catastrophic".

The BBC has a new first person account of what it is like to have a brush with Ebola. It makes for good reading so don't miss it.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS -- Official gear of the presidential campaign of John Kerry is now available. It's never too early to back the best candidate. I think the baseball caps look pretty sharp. I've got mine. Go get yours.

In other John Kerry news, the Senator wrote an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe sharply criticizing the deeply flawed Moscow Treaty that Mr Bush is falsely claiming has put an end to the Cold War. Senator Kerry notes:

"Despite its stated goal of reducing the number of US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads, the Moscow Treaty is missing the essential components of a strong, enforceable, and meaningful agreement. It does not require the destruction of missile launchers or the dismantlement of nuclear warheads. It does not address the tactical nuclear weapons so sought after by terrorists. It does not contain verification provisions.

"The treaty's most dangerous weakness is the rejection of Ronald Reagan's doctrine of ''trust but verify.'' The administration contends that verifying compliance with the treaty is unnecessary given the new strategic relationship with Russia. That view is shortsighted. Verification is a requirement to ensure American security, even in nonadversarial relationships.

"The central problem with the treaty is that it could increase the opportunities for nuclear theft and terrorism by expanding Russian stockpiles of nuclear materials."
ELDER BUSH WARNS JUNIOR AGAINST UNILATERALISM -- George H.W. Bush--the older one--spoke in coded terms to his son about the dangers of unilateralism and turning our backs on our European allies, in a speech to Tufts University.

The elder Bush also expressed concern about his son's tendency to hold grudges and the effect this might have on America's decades-old alliance system with liberal democracies. “You’ve got to reach out to the other person. You’ve got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity,” he said.

'In an ominous warning for his son, Mr Bush Sr said that he would have been able to achieve nothing if he had jeopardised future relations by ignoring the UN. “The Madrid conference would never have happened if the international coalition that fought together in Desert Storm had exceeded the UN mandate and gone on its own into Baghdad after Saddam and his forces.”'

An article by Douglas Halbrecht in BusinssWeek draws out the differences between "What's stunning in private -- and perplexing, even saddening, to senior aides from the first Bush Presidency who aren't part of this Administration -- is the current President's decision to shun the substantive gameplan that his father used to achieve his greatest triumph. After all, Bush's father wrote the modern book on how to marshal an international coalition against a rogue regime bent on mayhem. Yet, with war perhaps days away, this President has at every point turned away from much of his father's foreign policy wisdom, and he has elevated the second showdown with Saddam to the largest of gambles."

In contrast to his father's emphasis on personal diplomacy, making nice with foreign leaders, and not burning any bridges, W has outraged most of our allies by treating them as dispensable and allowed his out-of-control defense secretary to lob juvenile insults at countries like Germany and France. Writes Harbrecht: "It's quite possible that Bush never could count on China or Russia, or even France and Germany, to back an invasion of Iraq. But it was well within reason to expect that these nations would stand back and say nothing -- if they had been afforded even a little of the old-fashioned Bush TLC."

Mr Halbrecht goes on to cite other important areas of difference--political and personal--between how the elder Bush handled his Gulf War and how his son is handling this one. None of the differences redound to the benefit of the younger Bush. Whether it is recognizing that even American power has limits or finding out in advance how to pay for an expensive war, W has departed sharply from his father's successful playbook and the results, I fear, will be terrible.
ONE EVE OF WAR, BUSH SUPPORT PLUMMETS -- If the election were held today, only 39% of registered voters are sure they would vote for the reelection of President George W. Bush, and 34% would definitely vote for someone else, a five-point margin in the President’s favor, in a poll conducted February 18-20 and March 4-6, 2003 among 1,545 registered voters. That is a dramatic decline in Bush’s political standing domestically.

A year ago, in the first quarter of 2002, Bush enjoyed a 34-point edge, 54%-20%.
In January of this year, Bush enjoyed a 10-point edge, 41%-31%.
A month ago, in the January 21-February 6 poll, Bush led by 9 points, 41%-32%.
It does not look like this has hit bottom.

In fact, among 781 registered voters interviewed March 4-6, 38% would definitely vote to re-elect Bush and 37% definitely voting for someone else—a statistical dead heat.

Findings Now, Compared to January 7-23, 2003 Poll Standing

Comparing current results from the March Ipsos/Cook polls with the January Ipsos/Cook polls shows how support for Bush’s leadership has fallen among many groups of voters:

Independent voters fell from + 7 (30% definitely Bush – 23% definitely someone else) to a 23%-23% split.
Bush now loses in both the Northeast and the West (with a –12 drop in the West, and particularly in the Pacific Coast states, where Bush trails those voting for someone else by 29%-40% in the most recent poll)

In addition, only 44% of whites would definitely vote to re-elect Bush, a figure that has trailed consistently and significantly below 50% in 2003.

Monday, March 10, 2003

CHIRAC PROMISES VETO -- French President Jacques Chirac has told the French media that "France will vote 'no' because she considers tonight that there is no reason to wage a war to reach the goal we set ourselves, that is the disarmament of Iraq". Further underscoring his intentions, the French president told France 2 and TF1 television: "Whatever happens, France will vote 'no'." Chirac joins Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has also stated Russia will veto a use of force resolution against Iraq in the U.N. Security Council. President Chirac said he believes both Russia and China will veto the U.S./UK use of force resolution.
HOW CAN YOU BE A LEADER IF NO ONE IS FOLLOWING? -- Although Senator John Kerry (D-MA) voted for the war resolution last year he has been increasingly critical of Mr Bush's mideast policy, especially the tendency to ignore the advice of allies. This finally boiled over this weekend in Iowa, where Senator Kerry is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president.

"The greatest position of strength is by exercising the best judgement in the pursuit of diplomacy," said Senator Kerry, "not in some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted, but in a genuine coalition."

Quite so.
DUDE, YOU'VE BEEN DUMPED -- The heartless downsizing of corporate America has destroyed yet another life--that of Steven Curtis, "Dude, you're getting a Dell" pitchman and marijuana afficionado. As you may know by now, Mr Curtis has been replaced by a suitably ethnic mix of actors who portray interns/models who work for nothing and seemingly get nothing done. For Dell to imagine that this soulless gaggle of slack-jawed cretins could ever replace America's toasted boy next door is an outrage we shall not soon forget.

Fear not, gentle Steven--America will mourn you.