Saturday, March 22, 2003

BAGHDAD SHALL BURN


Reuters

Friday, March 21, 2003

MORE CLEAR CHANNEL SHENANIGANS -- You know about Clear Channel Communications, right? Biggest radio station owner in the world. Colossus of the concert world. Funder of right-wing causes and candidates. I've already written about Clear Channel's shameless policy of hosting pro-war rallies all over the country (below), but they have no taken their political ax to the concert stage. Clear Channel concert promoters warned left-wing singer Ani DiFranco not to make political speeches from the stage at a recent concert in New Jersey and threatened to cut her microphones if she did.

Well, she did. And Clear Channel chickened out. Score one for free speech, no thanks to you-know-who. It's the thought that counts, Clear Channel. Let's hope liberals and anyone concerned with free speech will remember this outrageous behavior.

We need a real pit bull at the FCC, not that corporate whore Mike Powell--foisted upon us by the same cretins who are about to give you the largest budget deficits in the history of human life on this planet. A real pit bull to police these companies and break their heavy hands. Just another reason to vote Democratic at the next election. As if you need another...
HOUSE PASSES SHAMEFUL BUSH BUDGET -- The House just voted 215-212 to pass Mr Bush's $2.2 trillion budget, including $726 billion in new tax cuts that will mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans. The vote went mostly along party lines, with a few Republicans resisting heavy-handed arm-twisting by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) and Mr Cheney, who urged their party caucus not to hand Mr Bush an embarrassing defeat in the midst of war.

The Senate is debating its own budget plans and may well produce something far different. Whatever comes out of the Senate and conference committee may bear little resemblance to the budget passed by the House today, but that does not make what the House did any less embarrassing and disgusting. According to the New York Times:

>>Arguing for the plan, Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut said Republicans were interested in "strengthening the economy and creating new jobs."

The spending limits, he said, could be met by restricting "waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement."

But Democrats said it was irresponsible to cut taxes and ignore the cost of war. "We set a different set of priorities," said Representative Harold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee. "We believe states should be helped. We believe the war should be paid for. We believe we should balance the budget."<<

This despicable display should end forever Mr Shays' phony image as a moderate. He voted for a truly radical and irresponsible budget today and I hope a strong Democratic candidate and wrathful Connecticut voters will hold him accountable. Shame on Mr Shays and shame on his Republican allies. They have done a terrible disservice to the American people today. I hope they pay an equally terrible price.
WAGING WAR FOR FUN AND PROFIT -- Someone always makes money from war so who is going to profit from this one? Let's just put it this way: Dick Cheney is good to his friends and financiers. Read on:

>>March 10, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had invited a handful of large engineering firms to bid on a $900 million contract for rebuilding Iraq. The Journal described the agency's efforts as "quiet," but "secret" seems a more apt term. In a procedure designed to respond to "urgent circumstances," the agency decided not to put out a public notice soliciting engineering bids and instead approached select firms "with a proven track record," said Ellen Yount, an agency spokeswoman.

All of these firms are American, and many have close ties to present and former government officials. One of the companies is Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Co., the firm that Vice President Dick Cheney ran during the 1990s. (KBR also developed the Pentagon's firefighting plan.) USAID declined to discuss the sort of work it had asked the companies to do, and several of the firms would neither confirm nor deny that they had been contacted by the government regarding Iraqi reconstruction. The others were only slightly less reticent, admitting they were part of the group but refusing to discuss details of USAID's request...

The news that some well-connected American firms will be first in line for these billion-dollar deals did not help the Bush administration's case for war internationally. Headlines all over the world questioned the White House's true motives for war. During a session of the British Parliament, one Liberal Democrat member asked Prime Minister Tony Blair why his allies in the U.S. had "pointedly excluded British and foreign firms." Vincent Cable, the M.P., continued, "Is the prime minister not embarrassed to have given such unstinting loyalty to an American president who regards international cooperation with such contempt and war as an opportunity to dish out contracts to his cronies?" Blair dodged the question, but his spokesman told the British press that the prime minister hopes the United Nations, and not the U.S., would head the rebuilding effort...

Michael Renner, a researcher at the Worldwatch Institute...predicts a huge international outcry to American profiteering from war. "If that's what plays out, if there's a sense that this carries a commercial side to it as well, then given the fact that public opinion is very much up in arms against the current policy, that there's a rather unprecedented groundswell of opinion against this, I wouldn't be surprised if people react very angrily to it."<<

What I want to know is this: Will the American people react angrily to it? Will they finally wake up to the reality that this narrow-minded administration that was never elected, but selected by a right-wing coterie of Supreme Court justices, is devoted to enriching its friends and financiers, regardless of how this affects the rest of the world or the mass of American people who do not have the money to buy access to power?
INVALUABLE, AS EVER -- Paul Krugman demonstrates how the Bush admin's moronic tax policy is almostly completely to blame for our current fiscal crisis and our future fiscal catastrophe. Mr Krugman is a national treasure. I just wish he had better things to tell us.
THE PHONY COALITION -- With each passing day new countries are added to this Coalition of the Willing that is invading Iraq with the intention of deposing Saddam Hussein, seizing any weapons of mass destruction, and lining the pockets of Dick Cheney's corporate benefactors. (To say nothing of providing a springboard for later planned invasions of Iran, Syria, and possibly other countries, such as Libya.) However, it turns out, unsurprisingly, that this Coalition of the Willing is rather more small than the Bush admin wants to admit and the White House isn't above including countries in the Coalition that have no wish to be there. Salon reports:

>>Even those nominally included in the coalition are bashing the war, however much President Bush thanks them for their support. Portugal was added to the coalition list on Thursday, but somebody forgot to send the country's president the talking points. "Given that there is no mandate from the United Nations, ... Portugal will not form part of the military coalition which will be built up," Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio said on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse. "We will, however, allow our allies transit rights, just as other countries have done, including some which have expressed strong opposition to any military action against Iraq"...

Portugal isn't the only State Department-labeled "Willing" country having trouble deciding whether or not it's in the coalition. Angolan Radio Ecclesia reported on Wednesday that all 30 members of the Angolan National Assembly spoke against the war; M.P. Joao Melo said that U.S. behavior was "unilateralist" and "imperialist." Angola -- along with the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iceland, Kuwait, Mongolia, Portugal, Rwanda, Singapore and Uganda, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands -- was added to the list on Thursday...

"We are not having any kind of involvement," a spokesman for the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said to AFP, while backing the U.S. action. Eritrea is also a member of the Coalition of the Willing...

The moral of this tale is that being counted as a member of the Coalition of the Willing is essentially meaningless. The Bush administration is so hungry for international cover that it requires nothing of coalition partners other than the use of their names.<<
SEIZING AND HOLDING? -- When was the last time the United States invaded a country with the intent to seize and hold its territory? The New Republic asks and possibly answers that question.
BUSH DOCTRINE IS BREATHTAKING POWER GRAB -- Michael Kinsley analyzes the conflicting claims of the Bush admin toward the Iraq War and finds that Mr Bush is claiming vast new rights for the United States and especially its Commander-in-Chief:

"Bush is asserting the right of the United States to attack any country that may be a threat to it in five years. And the right of the United States to evaluate that risk and respond in its sole discretion. And the right of the president to make that decision on behalf of the United States in his sole discretion. In short, the president can start a war against anyone at any time, and no one has the right to stop him. And presumably other nations and future presidents have that same right. All formal constraints on war-making are officially defunct."
MORE WAR UPDATES -- U.S. and British forces are racing across southern Iraq, seizing border towns and securing oil fields. British commandos took the Faw peninsula and its oil installations before their countrymen used artillery to smash Iraqi resistance at Umm Qasr, which had tied down U.S. Marines with unexpected ferocity. However, the Iraqis appear to be avoiding some of the mistakes they made 12 years ago and are not committing large numbers of troops to open areas where they can be easily destroyed from afar by superior Western artillery and air power.

"We have not yet seen a major engagement between large groups of troops," said Tim Ripley of the Defense Studies Center at Britain's Lancaster University. "Until you see that you just can't judge the willingness of the Iraqis to fight."

Some soldiers, however, are very publicly confident of quick and easy victory. A British spokesman, Group Captain Al Lockwood, asked when invading troops would be in Baghdad, said: "If I were a betting man, which I'm not -- hopefully in the next three or four days."

"We're into this now, we're going to win it and we're going to win it fast," said Rear Admiral John Kelly, commander of the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group.
HELICOPTER CRASHES IN KUWAIT --CAMP COMMANDO, Kuwait – A U.S. Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopter carrying both U.S. and U.K. military personnel crashed early this morning south of Umm Qasr, near Highway 801 in Kuwait. The crash occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m. local time.

There were no U.S. survivors. The names and units of the casualties are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

It is British policy to not discuss status of personnel until next of kin of injured or deceased are notified.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.
RICHARD PERLE IS FILTHY -- Imagine the outrage if this was happening during the Clinton administration.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

'TIL DEATH DO US PART -- Or something like that.
FROGS, NOT SCUDS -- According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Iraq fired FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) missiles or something similar, not SCUD missiles, at U.S. forces in Kuwait on Thursday. FROG missiles have a range of about 70 miles and are not as sophisticated as the also-unreliable SCUDs. Of three FROG missiles fired at U.S. forces in Kuwait, two were reportedly intercepted by Patriot anti-missile batteries.
NO MODERATE, HE -- James Capozzola of The Rittenhouse Review has nailed Pennsylvania's not-so-moderate Republican Senator Arlen Specter for voting to open the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve to oil drilling. Mr Capozzola is correct--Senator Specter's moderate image is largely a media creation due to his support for abortion rights (generally). Pennsylvania and the entire country would greatly benefit from a Specter defeat at the polls in 2004, however unlikely that might seem right now. The Keystone state went for Al Gore in 2000 (barely), but is saddled with two rotten Senators--one a faux moderate and the other a faux human being.

Mr Capozzola seems to be considering a run against Senator Specter (or he might just be kidding about the entire thing). Last time I checked, Pennsylvania did not let its Maryland neighbors vote in their elections, but I think I'll be sending a check to whomever takes up the sword against Senator Specter and promises to run him through with it. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)
IRAQ WAR UPDATES

By Samia Nakhoul
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States attacked key targets in Baghdad with cruise missiles Thursday, setting government buildings on fire in a ferocious assault to destroy the rule of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Eyewitnesses in the Iraqi capital reported several explosions near government buildings as cruise missiles swooped down, shaking the city with massive explosions. There was relatively little Iraqi anti-aircraft fire.

Reuters reporter Nadim Ladki said missiles flew in at a very low altitude and hit several targets. He could see buildings ablaze in the southeast of the city and around the planning ministry in the center of the Baghdad...

A British military source said the main offensive was about to begin...

The Kuwaiti news agency said U.S.-led troops had captured the Iraqi border town of Umm Qasr. A number of Iraqi troops, who had been laying a mine field, surrendered to U.S. Marines who had just crossed into Iraq, a CBS radio reporter traveling with the unit said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the initial missile and bombing attacks in and around Baghdad were just a first taste of what would soon be unleashed. ``What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before,'' he said.

As night fell in Baghdad, eyewitnesses told Reuters that U.S. forces had launched a new artillery attack near the Iraq-Kuwait border, and large explosions were reported in the direction of the Iraqi city of Basra.
GOOD ADVICE FOR THE ANTI-WAR CROWD

Put away your puppets by Timothy Burke

I want to be very careful about avoiding the blog echo-chamber effect with what I put up here, where I’m just doing an elaborate version of “me too” on something that fifty other web pages have already noted.

But here comes a “me too”: Justin Raimondo’s essay on the right and wrong kind of antiwar protests, which I found via Electrolite, is vitally important. Anyone who is planning to oppose the war needs to read it, print it, staple it to their clothes, memorize it. Put it in a waterproof bag and take it into the shower with you.

This is not the time for the usual self-indulgent let-a-thousand-flowers bloom, let the nutty Spartacist have his turn at the podium, let Sheryl Crow talk about how war is bad for flowers and other living things, approach to political action. This is not a festival or a be-in or a happening. It’s not a space for creative frolics and really cool paper-mache puppets.

The war is coming, unless Saddam Hussein blinks in the next 24 hours. None of us can stop it. Give that up right now: you cannot stop the war. Don’t even try. Don’t even fantasize that you can.

You can only prepare to exact a political price from the people who led us so poorly to this point, and to do that, you need to make the war a bigger issue than the antiwar.

Raimondo nails it perfectly: all the plans for direct action that involve “no business as usual” gimmicks like blocking traffic, chaining oneself to fences and the like are pure, unadulterated narcissism. They’re about anointing yourself a virtuous, righteous person and performing your virtue on the public stage. You want that, come by my office and I'll give you a little "I'm a Good Person Because I'm Against the War" badge to pin on your shirt and we'll applaud you every time we see you walk by. The "direct action" visions circulating out there now are not about building the largest possible coalition of opposition to the Bush Administration, not about building a political consensus, not about laying the groundwork for 2004.

If you really care about opposing the war, you need to put your own selfish needs to proclaim your virtuousness aside and keep your eyes on the prize. Large public gatherings that are respectful, quiet and rhetorically modest would be a good thing, sure, but for the moment, little more than that. Raimondo's "Lincoln-Douglas Debates" are a good idea, too.

It’s not about stopping the war. It’s about what comes afterwards. For the moment, we might as well sit tight. Anybody who leaps in on day one with stuff like spilling red paint on the steps of City Hall or lying down in front of military trucks runs the risk of looking like a tremendous doofus depending on what happens in the first week of the war, and will probably alienate many potential supporters even if the actual unfolding of the war does little to improve Bush's standing or credibility.

Let’s say that Saddam Hussein’s troops use chemical or biological weapons, or there are significant terrorist attacks within the domestic United States. For reasons of public image alone, that would be a bad time to be pursuing silly little direct actions or be caught on tape screaming "Down With Running Dog American Imperialism! Up With the Virtuous Multitude!".

More importantly, if something dire happens involving chemical weapons or terrorism it means that an antiwar movement is going to have to be generous in conceding some of its own faults and errors, because it’s going to mean that Bush had some legitimate reasons to go to war. At that point, we would need to make it clear that the issue is not war itself, but the incompetence of the way the run-up to war was handled, and the lack of vision about how to handle its aftermath. If antiwar activists spend that first week chaining themselves to fences and burning American flags, they will have already lost the antiwar struggle should at least some of Bush’s reasoning be vindicated by the course of events.

Prudence, patience and planning are what’s needed now. That’s what has worked for the Republican grassroots: ever since Barry Goldwater’s defeat, they’ve been organizing steadily, laying down deep connections with actually existing communities, thinking about what kinds of rhetoric carries water in the public sphere, and disciplining or ignoring errant nutcases and fringe elements. If you want to exact a price for this war, led in the way that it has been, you’re going to have to be similarly focused.
MORE FOREIGN OFFICERS RESIGN IN DISGUST -- Mary A. Wright, the number two U.S. diplomat in our embassy to Mongolia has resigned in disgust over Mr. Bush's Iraq policy. She becomes the highest-ranking diplomat to resign over the Iraq War.

"I strongly believe that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not safer," Wright wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. "In our press for military action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community and in important international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the world."

"I have served my country for almost 30 years in some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world," concluded Wright, who won a State Department heroism award in 1997 in Sierra Leone. "I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of the administration and cannot defend or implement them."

In addition, Ms Wright criticized a "lack of policy on North Korea" and the administration's "lack of effort" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ms Wright said the Bush admin has "done little" to end the violence and she urged the White House to "exert our considerable financial influence" on the Israelis and Palestinians to make peace.

Ms Wrights resignation follows closely on the heels of resignations by John B. Kiesling, attache to the U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece and John H. Brown, who resigned last week from the foreign service after serving for 22 years. "The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century," Mr Brown said.

Now, if only Mr Bush had the decency to follow them into retirement...
MORE TURMOIL IN HOMELAND DEFENSE -- There has been another high-ranking resignation in the Department of Homeland Defense. This time it was Rand Beers, the National Security Council's senior director for combating terrorism, who is bowing out. Mr Beers was only hired in August after the sudden and unexpected departure of Wayne A. Downing as deputy national security adviser. And Downing, a retired Army general, had replaced Richard Clarke in October 2001. The reason for Mr Beers' departure is unclear, with some speculating that his resignation is a protest against the Bush admin's Iraq obsession at the expense of the overall counterterrorism effort and others citing weariness with the internecine political warfare of homeland defense in this administration.

One thing is clear: There is an awful lot of turnover in the Bush admin's counter-terrorism team and it continues even as we go to war and the threat of terrorism increases markedly. Maybe more duct tape will solve this problem.
WHO NEEDS CABLE TV? -- That was what CBS has said in response to the moves by NBC (CNBC, MSNBC) and ABC (ABC Family, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic) and FOX (Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Net) to create their own cable television franchises. Some of us thought CBS would one day really pay a price for their unwillingness to invest in cable television and that day has arrived. In response to its decision to go with war coverage around the clock, CBS has sold the broadcast rights to the NCAA Basketball Tournament to ESPN. So what, you say? Here's what.

People seeking relief from non-stop war coverage will flock to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which is an extremely popular event in its own right. During those commercial breaks, what network will have its shows touted repeatedly to tens of millions of viewers? Well, Disney Corp. owns ABC and ESPN, so you do the math. CBS screwed up and today it begins to cost them.
TROOPS ON THE MOVE -- The ground war has begun while Saddam may be following his old playbook and setting the oil wells alight.
THE EARLY CASUALTY COUNT -- After speaking with the International Red Cross in Geneva I can report that the ICRC has been to two Baghdad hospitals and confirmed one dead and 14 wounded. Of those 14 wounded people, nine are women and one is a child. In other words, of the 14 wounded so far, at least 10 are civilian non-combatants.
HOW TO CAMPAIGN HERE DURING THE CAMPAIGN IN IRAQ? -- How should Democratic presidential candidates campaign during a shooting war?. Every candidate pledges he or she will continue to campaign and continue to criticize the president, though how far such criticism will be taken on the subject of war and foreign policy remains to be seen. Leftist Congressman Dennis Kucinich says his harsh criticism of Mr Bush's war will continue and it seems likely that Reverend Sharpton and former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun will also continue to whack away in a similar fashion. Senator Lieberman, Senator Edwards, and Congressman Gephardt will, almost certainly, vociferously support Mr Bush during the war since they have been the most enthusiastic pro-war Democratic candidates in the field.

Senator John Kerry, who voted in support of the war resolution last year, but has repeatedly said he thinks Mr Bush's current course is foolhardy, will probably continue to take a nuanced stance, supporting the troops (as all candidates will), but suggesting the war could have been prevented if Mr Bush's diplomacy had not been so wretched. How former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who has made himself a serious candidate by campaigning ferociously against the war, will operate now is an interesting question. Can Governor Dean, who has made his opposition to the war the signature of his entire campaign, just shut up about it? Is that possible? Can he get by mouthing generous tributes to our soldiers, but refraining from attacking the man who sent those troops into battle? I think not. I suspect Governor Dean will try to do what Senator Kerry has been doing for some time; support the troops, but continue to blame the Bush admin for failing to find a peaceful solution and alienating the world in the process. Will Governor Dean's supporters, who have flocked to his campaign due to his uncompromising anti-war rhetoric, appreciate this jolting change in tactics? We shall see.
THE DYING HAS BEGUN -- The Red Cross is reporting the first death of the Iraq War. ``We confirm the death of one person and 14 injured,'' said ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl. ``This is on the basis of the first round of visits the ICRC medical doctor was able to carry out today in a series of hospitals in Baghdad
THESE ARE DIFFICULT TIMES -- These are difficult times for people like me. I'm a liberal, but not a leftist and certainly no pacifist. I think there are things worth fighting for, killing for, dying for. I was a dyed-in-the-wool Cold Warrior during the last decade of the Cold War, which is all I am old enough to recall. I supported the bombing of Libya when I was in school and I supported the first Gulf War enthusiastically. I supported President Clinton's military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo to stop Serbian genocide against European Muslims. I'm a patriot and I believe in the national greatness of America and our right to defend ourselves any where and any time we find it necessary to do so. I think there can be glory in war--a war fought for the right reasons and conducted with honor.

I don't support this war. I think it is a mistake, not because I have any illusions about the sort of tyranny Saddam Hussein has been running inside Iraq or any faith in the promises he makes to the U.N. or anyone else. For the reasons I have elucidated below--cost, post-war entanglements, the impact on our international reputation--I think this war is a mistake. I have no doubt we will roll over Saddam's armies and squash his regime like a bug. That's the easy part and even the Bush admin isn't clueless enough to screw it up. After the war is over, however, we will be saddled with the task of rebuilding the country, policing it, and keeping its violent and disputatious factions from each other's throats. This is a task we are not well suited to accomplish and this administration especially so. I find it very difficult to believe that this gang of incompetents will be able to rebuild and govern Iraq well when it cannot even govern America decently.

We shall see. I hope I'm wrong. I fear I am not.

In the meantime, may our troops crush Saddam's forces--such as they are--and may the innocent people of Iraq be spared the might of our armies and the fury of the savage who has tyrannized them for far too long.
BILLIONS FOR ISRAEL -- The intifada and years of economic mismanagement have left Israel's economy in tatters. Never fear, though, as Uncle Sam is once again riding to the rescue. This time the Israelis will get $1 billion in direct aid and another $9 billion in loan guarantees--a total of $10 billion. I wonder what the governors of our financially-reeling states think about this.
MORE GRAY LADY ON E. ALTERMAN -- The New York Times returns for a second helping of "What Liberal Media? and finds that it still likes the book a lot. Reviewer Orville Schell writes:

In an impressively researched and documented book, "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News," he provocatively challenges this conservative wisdom as a mirage. He asserts that what Americans should really fear is the far better organized, more powerful and effective propaganda machine of the right that postulates the presumption of liberal bias through research groups, religious organizations, ideological news organizations and conservative personalities that "skews the entire discourse toward the right."
SLEAZY 'HO JUST WON'T GO AWAY -- Where are the falling buildings when you really need them?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

HOW TO PAY FOR MR BUSH'S WAR? -- It seems even Congressional Republicans, normally some of the most thick-headed creatures in this solar system, are beginning to wonder. Do you really propose hundreds of billions in tax cuts when you're about to run the biggest deficits in the history of the world and fight an expensive war and pay for an expensive military occupation?

''That's the $100 billion question,'' Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said. ''I think everyone feels we're going to have to vote . . . in less than six months to fund the war, and it's going to be $100 billion and continue to just run up the deficit. Those of us who have been concerned about deficits and debt think this budget doesn't reflect our priorities.''

''It's just very hard to say you're going to fund a war with a tax cut. That's a hard speech to give,'' Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., said Monday."

No kidding. Now go tell your president.
BEST LINE OF THE DAY -- The honor goes to Kos for his observation about the hilarious attempts the White House went to convince people Mr Bush is studying attack maps and actively involved in the war planning:

"Do we really need to think Bush is running the show? For the sake of our troops, he better not be poring over anything more than a game of Risk."
MR BUSH SPEAKS -- He announced our war on Iraq and took less than 5 minutes to do so--and justify it. His words were fine, I just wish I believed more of them.
IT HAS BEGUN -- Well, I wasn't wrong. The bombing has begun and Mr Bush speaks to the nation in less than 10 minutes.
WAR TONIGHT/TOMORROW MORNING? -- I've just been informed that Mr Bush is likely to address the nation tonight and that the bombing of Iraq will begin, if the Kuwaiti sandstorms abate, tonight and/or early tomorrow morning. This has not been confirmed, but it is the first semi-solid bit of information I have gotten on this subject. Don't hold me to it yet. We'll just have to wait and see.
YELLOW "JOURNALISM" REDUX -- Not since the days of William Randolph Hearst have we seen such a vile spectacle as Clear Channel Communications, the planet's largest radio station owner and purveyor of mindless dreck from sea to shining sea, sponsoring pro-war rallies in city after city. That's right, a broadcaster--ostensibly non-partisan and in business to make money--is sponsoring pro-war rallies in cities like San Antonio, Atlanta, and other places. Can you imagine the uproar if The New York Times began sponsoring anti-war rallies? Can you imagine what the right-wing media would say, write, expound, and expsotulate? Can you imagine the sound, the fury, the wrath, and the ruin?

Of course you cannot. The New York Times doesn't engage in such shoddy shenanigans. But Clear Channel Communications, supporter of right-wing candidates and causes, broadcaster of Rush Limbaugh, and giant media corporation with oodles of business before the Congress and the FCC, does engage in such shoddy shenanigans. Frequently. Repeatedly. All over the country.

Many thanks to the invaluable Tapped for alerting me to this latest outrage from the right-wing corporate media.
THE POST LETS ITS BIAS SHOW -- In case anyone hadn't noticed already, The Washington Post is not a liberal newspaper. Those familiar with The Post's troubled labor relations--which led the paper's journalists to omit their bylines for a time last year--do not consider The Post's rather mild form of conservatism news. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Americans, I'm willing to wager, consider The Post part of the media's liberal elite. Well, The Post is certainly part of the elite, but definitely not part of any liberal media elite, even assuming such a thing exists.

The American Prospect knows better and demonstrates how The Post's creeping conservatism has been revealed in its op-ed pages, which have increasingly become an 'echo chamber' for the paper's pro-war editorials. Have a look and be disabused forever of the notion that The Washington Post is a liberal newspaper.
SCORE ONE FOR THE PLANET -- The Senate has just rejected a Republican plan to drill for oil in the Alaskan wildlife refuge. The vote was 52-48 against, with eight Republicans joining all but five Democrats. The good guys got one.

UPDATE at 5.21 PM: According to The New York Times, the Republicans who voted to protect the ANWR were "Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois, John S. McCain of Arizona, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine. So did the lone independent, James Jeffords of Vermont.

"Five Democrats voted in favor of drilling: John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, both of Louisiana; Zell Miller of Georgia and Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, both of Hawaii."

GAZING INTO THE POLITICAL CRYSTAL BALL

OFF TO THE RACES
After War, New Problems For Bush

By Charlie Cook
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The outbreak of a war with Iraq now seems to be a matter of days -- or
even hours. Talk of war and diplomatic maneuvering has dominated the
political and policy landscape for months. Win, lose or draw, the
conclusion of a war with Iraq means President Bush will face many
formidable policy challenges that are no less daunting than Iraq and
easily could significantly complicate his re-election efforts.

The year before a presidential election is usually a time for
fine-tuning the president's positioning on policy matters and for teeing
up issues that will maximize his chances of getting re-elected. Instead,
Bush will likely find himself playing defense on a wide range of very
difficult issues, with little maneuverability to select and promote
other issues that would maximize his attractiveness to various elements
of the electorate.

Whether one agrees with Bush's handling of Iraq, it is hard to argue
with the premise that America's relations with major Western and Asian
nations are in a shambles. At no point since the end of World War II
have relations between the United States and the governments of historic
allies and adversaries alike been so strained. And relations are even
worse with the general populations of those respective countries.
Whether these governments and their peoples were "right" or "wrong" in
their opposition or hesitancy to war, the United States will find
dealing with them in the post-war era significantly more difficult than
at any time in memory. Putting together coalitions for the foreseeable
future will be particularly problematic given the ill will that has been
created over the last year.

In terms of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, relations with the vast
majority of peaceful adherents to the Islamic faith are awful, while we
have further antagonized the distinct minority of radicals to the point
that future terrorism is even more likely than it was prior to Sept. 11,
2001.

On the domestic side, the budget is a mess, and moderate Republicans are
about as close to revolt as they can come against their own president.
It's hard to imagine both the House and Senate passing the entire
dividend tax elimination plan -- or even most of it -- without draconian
and politically suicidal spending cuts, something that is less than
likely given the narrow majorities in both the House and Senate.
Democrats had 259 House and 57 Senate seats when they engaged in such
politically risky behavior in 1994. With Republicans now holding just
229 and 51, it seems even less likely. If the president's plan were to
be enacted as proposed, it would be interesting to see which factor
would be more injurious -- the political fallout from its consequences
or Democrats' self-inflicted, McCain-Feingold wound.

Prospects for health care reform, particularly the administration's hope
for passing a prescription drug benefit, are not promising either. The
administration's ill-advised and subsequently withdrawn plan to require
Medicare recipients to enroll in managed care plans in order to qualify
for a prescription drug benefit was one of the most politically inept
proposals Washington has seen in years. While moving current retirees
into managed care makes perfect sense to a policy wonk, and would
certainly bring down health care costs, the political consequences of
such a move boggle the imagination. Shifting from fee-for-service to
managed care has to take place over time -- and not at gunpoint.
Democrats smell blood on this issue and are more likely to use it to
bludgeon the president during the next campaign than they are to work
with him to develop a more plausible alternative.

While all of this seems pretty tough on the Bush administration, it is a
dose of reality. The real political consequences of policy
miscalculations have been masked to a certain extent by the halo effect
of the terrorist attacks and the focus on foreign policy. Very real
symptoms regarding the president's political health, the condition of
his agenda and his ability to advance his agenda have gone unrecognized
or with little note. Once the war is over, the problems that remain will
be just as serious but more evident. Even a boost in Bush's approval
numbers after an exceedingly short and successful war could be
short-lived given the nation's poor economy and the other serious
problems that seem to have the president surrounded.

The remaining question that begs to be asked is whether, if afforded
this opportunity, Democrats would exploit it effectively or squander it
as they have so often done before.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

BUSH POLL NUMBERS CONTINUE TO FALL -- Mr Bush is in a statistical dead heat with a hypothetical Democratic candidate for the presidential election of 2004, according to the latest USA Today poll. Voters back Mr Bush by a 45%-42% margin, within the three percentage point margin of error.

"The finding reflects steady erosion in Bush's political strength for the past several months. Last month, he led the hypothetical matchup by 8 percentage points. One month after Sept. 11, 2001, he was ahead by 27 points", according to the USA Today.

Support for Mr Bush from critical independent voters has dropped dramatically and independents now favor a Democratic candidate 43%-36 percent.
RIGHT-WING MURDERER CONVICTED -- Anti-abortion psychopath James Kopp has been convicted of 2nd degree murder for the 1998 slaying of Dr Bernard Slepian of Buffalo, New York. Among his other duties, Dr Slepian, a gynecologist, performed abortions. Mr Kopp, who will be sentenced in May, could serve up to 25 years in prison. Mr Kopp has also been charged with a nonfatal shooting in Canada and still faces federal charges for depriving women of the right to an abortion.

"We feel justice has been served," prosecutor Joe Marusak told reporters outside the courtroom. Indeed.
WHAT IS UNDER THE LID IN IRAQ? -- Below is an excerpt from a New York Times story about the Bush administration's war plans and its lack of plans for the messy cleanup afterwards.

>>In the optimistic view of Mr. Bush's team, the war will be as quick — or quicker — than the first gulf war. Mr. Hussein will be ousted in days, they hope, after his military heeds Mr. Bush's warning tonight that they should signal early surrender, and that it would be foolish to "fight for a dying regime."

What will follow, his aides hope, is jubilation and a shift to an American administration accepted by Iraqis.

But as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, put it succinctly today, "that is not a sure shot." In moments of candor, even some of Mr. Bush's most senior national security aides say they have no idea what they will find after they lift the top off a dictatorship.

"If it's not post-war Japan — if it's more like post-war Yugoslavia — we will have a huge and expensive problem on our hands," one of those advisers conceded recently. "And I can't honestly tell you we are prepared for that, because there is no way to prepare for that."

Mr. Bush himself has acknowledged that he will need allies to help rebuild Iraq. Whether they are willing to help after such an open breach with Washington is unknown.

"We are going to want someone to pay for all this," said Joseph Nye, the dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "And that is when you discover the cost of relying too much on efficiency, and not enough on establishing the legitimacy of your military actions."<<

COMMENT: Really sets your mind at ease, doesn't it? This administration is a perfect example of religion over reason. They believe things no matter what the facts tell an ordinary person. Evidence of facts to the contrary of their beliefs are ignored. This is the definition of a fanatic.
YET ANOTHER IRAQ WAR LIE -- The Bush admin and Blair government are claiming their invasion of Iraq is legal under international law because U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, passed last November, explicitly gives them the right to attack Iraq if that country is found in non-compliance with U.N. Security Council disarmament resolutions.

However, that wasn't what the Bush admin was saying last November. Remember this L.A. Times story from November 8, 2002? Just after winning a 15-0 vote in the Security Council for Iraqi disarmament, United States Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said: "There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever [Iraqi] violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken."

In other words, a finding that Iraq is in non-compliance with Resolution 1441 does not automatically lead to a U.S. invasion because the United States would return to the Security Council to consider the matter "before any other action is taken." Remember, this is the interpretation of Resolution 1441 according to the Bush admin. Now, however, the Bush admin is claiming that it already has authorization from Resolution 1441! Well, then, what was all that about going back to the Security Council before any other action is taken? The U.S. never went back to the Security Council. All the U.S. did was offer a mixture of bribes and threats to various Security Council member nations behind the scenes and counted the votes it had--which wasn't many. Despite Mr Bush's pledge to return to the Security Council so everyone could 'show their cards' this was never done.

Just another example of this administration saying one thing, doing another, and claiming they never changed all along. A gang of straight-faced liars---every damn one of them.
DOG SAVES YOUNG WOMAN -- If you are a terribly cynical person, don't read this brief article about how a Siberian husky dog inspired her owner to fight back from the brink of death and survive anorexia. I'm not terribly cynical--about dogs, at least--so I enjoyed the story.
HATE WAR? YOU MUST BE GAY! -- Radio/tv talk show host/cretinous bigot Michael Savage confirms his expertise on the anti-war movement:

"If you scratch the surface of the predominant motif of those in the antiwar movement, and I don’t say all by any means, a goodly portion of the men are homosexuals, a goodly portion of the women are lesbians — I look at the cars going by which say no war in iraq, and believe me, I know what I’m talking about. And, of course, the guys in Hollywood who are antiwar are generally impotent. That’s my opinion."

Thanks to Brian Montopoli for bringing it to my attention. Mr Montopoli keeps track of Mr Savage and his wide variety of insane ravings. I guess someone has to do it--I'm just glad it isn't me.
WHAT AWAITS US IN IRAQ -- It is not uncommon for foreign troops entering a wasted land ruled by a despotic strongman to be cheered as liberating heroes. But, as history teaches us, that welcome does not often last.

"The occupation of Iraq could be followed by a rapid handover to a democratic, independent Iraqi government and the speedy withdrawal of American troops. Do not bet on it. The neo-conservatives who pushed hardest for this war in Washington did not do so to allow a 60 per cent Shia majority in Iraq to ponder closer relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. They certainly do not favour American forces departing rapidly, leaving the Iraqis to their own devices...

"Americans underestimate the hostility with which people in the Middle East regard occupying powers. The neo-conservatives are largely ignorant of, or ideologically blinded to, the realities of the region. Members of the permanent bureaucracy in Washington who deal with the Middle East - intelligence officers and diplomats, and soldiers who will have to carry out the dirty work after the war - are more conscious of these things...

"If Iraq instead is ruled by military occupation, behind a façade provided by exiles in expensive suits who roll into Baghdad on the back of American tanks, history may repeat itself. That would be to the detriment both of the Iraqi people and of those who try to impose their will on them."

This gibes with my belief that the Iraqi people will welcome U.S. troops--for reasons which are both genuine and cynically pragmatic--when they first arrive in the country. However, I expect this welcome to last a matter of weeks, at which time the Iraqi people will expect this invading titan to solve all their problems. The Shiite majority will expect the United States to remain true to its traditional 'one person-one vote' history, which will result in the Shiites essentially ruling Iraq--a prospect viewed with undiluted horror by the neocon hawks in the Pentagon who consider Tehran to be target number two. The Sunnis, the current and traditional rulers of Iraq, will expect the United States to protect them and preserve their special place in the Iraqi polity. The Kurds, long repressed by Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, will expect the United States to help institutionalize their autonomy in the north (at the very least) and possibly aid in creating a virtual independent state. A Kurdistan that is independent de facto if not de jure is regarded with loathing by our ally Turkey, which plans to invade northern Iraq and prevent the creation of such a new nation-state. What's more, the Kurds have cast their eyes upon Kirkuk, the major city in an oil-rich region of Iraq. Kurdish control of Kirkuk is abhorrent to the Sunnis and Shiites, who view that region's massive oil wealth as belonging to the nation as a whole--but especially their part of the nation. However, none of Iraq's distinct communities may have a choice in the matter. Or they may--it all depends on which group the U.S. decides to support and which it decides to enrage.

It isn't the war against Saddam Hussein which concerns me, it is the civil war in Iraq that I suspect will emerge--slowly at first--after Saddam is removed. It is not easy to see how a war for democracy in Iraq can succeed politically when we have no laid the groundwork for our success. In fact, this admin has made its job far more difficult by enraging and alienating virtually all of our traditional allies--in the region and throughout Europe. This means that most of the people around the globe are not well-disposed to our war in Iraq and will feel no sympathy for us and no compulsion to help us if the aftermath of war goes badly. As The American Prospect observes in its upcoming issue:

"The entire idea of an American-led democratic revolution in the Mideast has an air of fantasy about it, as if an American military presence were likely only to inspire assimilation of our values rather than resentment of our power. It will be easier to overthrow Hussein than it will be to stop a chain of events likely to draw us ever more deeply into the conflicts of the region -- especially because the hawks among us actually look forward to flexing American muscle throughout the Mideast. Soon we may be worrying about a deadly confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. And terrorism may be less likely to subside. When al-Qaeda struck on September 11, the world regarded the United States as an innocent victim of fanaticism; by occupying Iraq, we will be helping the terrorists make the case to Islamist and nationalist forces that America is the appropriate target of their anger."

I think the United States is inserting itself into a much larger version of Lebanon, circa 1982. Like Lebanon, Iraq is split into three distinct and feuding communities. When American troops first arrived in Beirut in 1982 they were cheered by crowds Lebanonites. The euphoria didn't last and by 1983, after the destruction of our embassy and the terrorist slaughter of over 200 U.S. Marines, President Reagan ordered our troops out of the country. We entered Lebanon as rescuing heroes--and left, after much anguish, with a bloody nose and our tail between our legs.
WAR AMONG THE RUINS OF OUR REPUTATION -- The New York Times has a thing or two to say about the abject failure of the Bush administration's diplomacy and its willful--almost intentional--alienation of our closest allies.

"The country now stands at a decisive turning point, not just in regard to the Iraq crisis, but in how it means to define its role in the post-cold-war world. President Bush's father and then Bill Clinton worked hard to infuse that role with America's traditions of idealism, internationalism and multilateralism. Under George W. Bush, however, Washington has charted a very different course. Allies have been devalued and military force overvalued...

"This war crowns a period of terrible diplomatic failure, Washington's worst in at least a generation. The Bush administration now presides over unprecedented American military might. What it risks squandering is not America's power, but an essential part of its glory...

"From the administration's first days, it turned away from internationalism and the concerns of its European allies by abandoning the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdrawing America's signature from the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court. Russia was bluntly told to accept America's withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the territory of the former Soviet Union. In the Middle East, Washington shortsightedly stepped backed from the worsening spiral of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, ignoring the pleas of Arab, Muslim and European countries. If other nations resist American leadership today, part of the reason lies in this unhappy history."
HOW MANY TROOPS WILL WE NEED IN IRAQ? -- Earlier this year in testimony before Congress, General Eric Shinseki--Army chief of staff and commander of the NATO stabilization force in Bosnia in 1997 said the United States would need "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" to police Iraq. General Shinseki was quickly slapped down by his civilian superiors, namely Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But was General Shinseki--who has far more experience with peacekeeping missins than Mr Wolfowitz or Mr Rumsfeld--essentially correct? Consider this calculation done by Miami Herald columnist Joseph Galloway:

"Let's take a look at how many soldiers it takes or has taken to keep the peace in some of the world's leading trouble spots. The British Army in 1995 kept 19,000 troops in Northern Ireland to control a population of 1.6 million. That's one soldier for every 84 residents. If a similar ratio were applied to Iraq, the United States and its allies would need an occupation force of 285,000 troops.

"In 1995, we had an international force of 60,000 to control the 4 million inhabitants of unhappy Bosnia. At that ratio, we would need 360,000 soldiers to occupy and control Iraq. In Kosovo, 50,000 soldiers now keep the peace among 2 million. Apply that formula to Iraq and you need an occupation force of 600,000."

Mr Wolfowitz termed the estimate of necessary troop levels given to Congress by General Shinseki to be "wildly off the mark." We'll see about that.
THE GRAY LADY ON E. ALTERMAN -- The New York Times reviews What Liberal Media? and finds it "bold, counterintuitive and cathartic." It is that--and more.
THINGS TO COME -- Today's op-ed page of The New York Times proves once again why Paul Krugman is the most important columnist in the United States.

"Meanwhile, consider this: we need $400 billion a year of foreign investment to cover our trade deficit, or the dollar will plunge and our surging budget deficit will become much harder to finance — and there are already signs that the flow of foreign investment is drying up, just when it seems that America may be about to fight a whole series of wars.

"It's a matter of public record that this war with Iraq is largely the brainchild of a group of neoconservative intellectuals, who view it as a pilot project. In August a British official close to the Bush team told Newsweek: 'Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.' In February 2003, according to Ha'aretz, an Israeli newspaper, Under Secretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq the United States would 'deal with' Iran, Syria and North Korea."

Monday, March 17, 2003

INSURANCE INDUSTRY v. DOGS --Nationwide Mutual, the largest diversified insurance and financial services company in the U.S., will not insure homeowners for certain breeds of dog, pit bulls, pinchers, Doberman pinchers, rottweilers, chow chows, Presa Canarios, and wolf hybrids. Nationwide Mutual holds over 16 million policies in the United States.

Nationwide Mutual is just the biggest boy in a crowd, however, as about half of all homeowner insurance companies will not insure homeowners if they own certain breeds of dogs. Insurance companies blame the trend on a rise in lawsuits over dog bites, citing the notorious January 26, 2001 fatal mauling of 33-year-old San Francisco resident Diane Whipple by a Presa Canario.

Instead of basing insurance decisions on the history of each dog and dog owner, some insurance companies will not insure dogs due solely to breed, and those decisions are often based on headlines rather than logic. "It has to do with notoriety," says Hunter. "There are dog breeds that are better suited for guard dog purposes and so on." Those dogs, says Bob Hunter, an insurance expert at the Consumer Federation of America, are singled out as dangerous because of their reputation and size.

The result is that dogs of those breeds are being put up for adoption or not adopted at all because those who wish to own homes cannot get insurance if the own a Doberman pinscher or a pit bull. Once again, human ignorance and greed punishes innocent dogs. "At the Humane Society of Atchison, Kansas, the number of rottweilers relinquished because of insurance coverage has jumped 40% within the past year."

As any decent dog owner could attest, a dog that receives proper socialization and care is not a threat to other dogs or people--and that's true of every breed in the world. I know pit bulls that are as gentle as kittens. Some rotten owners get 'tough' dogs because they like the notion that their dog can frighten or maul other dogs and they socialize them to that end. These owners are the problems, not the breeds.

Ever seen those "Nationwide is on your side" commercials? Pah.
MY BOY KERRY IS SURGING -- John Kerry raised $900,000 for his presidential campaign on a recent trip to California and spoke to Democratic partisans from that state, but there is more good news for Senator John Kerry.

"In the latest polls from Iowa and New Hampshire -- the two early election tests, Kerry had the numbers of a front-runner.

"While Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri led in neighboring Iowa with 22 percent, Kerry was at 20 percent and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was at 16 percent, according to the Research 2000 poll of 400 Democrats conducted March 10-12. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, putting Gephardt and Kerry in essentially a dead heat.

"To no surprise, Kerry led in a Research 2000 poll of 400 New Hampshire Democrats with 38 percent. Lieberman had 20 percent and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean 11 percent. The poll also was conducted March 10-12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points."

The bad news: Kerry campaign spokesman Chris Lehane had his laptop computer--filled with important campaign information--stolen out of his car. As Lehane gamely noted: "Crime has gone up under George W. Bush's watch."
WAGING WAR FOR FUN AND PROFIT -- Why are we fighting this Iraq war again--to bring democracy to the benighted people of the Middle East? Or to bring war profits to the Bush administration's political financiers? I suspect we'll see far less real democracy than Mr Bush promises, but I don't doubt he now views this war as an unorthodox economic 'stimulus' plan.
SHRUB SPEAKS -- Well, it seems like a human rights abuse to me, but the nation (and the world) was 'treated' to a second prime time address from Mr Bush in less than two weeks. (And despite what I wrote below, I did watch it.) Mr Bush spoke for about 15 minutes and there were no reporters present--not that they would have had anything to add after the shameful performance by the White House press corps on the night of March 6. It was the same old same old from Mr Bush, augmented this time by a vow to attack Iraq at a time of 'our choosing' if Saddam Hussein and his sons have not left the country in 48 hours. Other than that, you've heard it all before. It's an old song and it still makes me sick to hear it.

If you're a real glutton for punishment and want to read the whole thing, you can do so right here.
REUTERS WAR ROUNDUP -- Fortunate foreigners are leaving Iraq while defenseless nationals prepare for the U.S. and its two allies to begin bombing anything that moves and much that does not. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein is rejecting U.S. demands that he go into exile and is preparing for the futile defense of his regime. To make matters worse, Mr Bush will inflict another prime-time address on the country, tonight at 8 PM Eastern time.

"He will say that to avoid military conflict, Saddam Hussein must leave the country," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The next move will be up to Saddam Hussein." No, Mr Fleischer, the next move will be mine--when I click over to Animal Planet as fast as my fingers will carry me.
THE IRAQ WAR PUNDITS: A WHO'S WHO -- They're all here, from Richard Perle to Janeane Garofalo.
RIGHT-WING BREWER DIES -- Hyper-successful beer entrepreneur Joseph Coors died today of lymphatic cancer at the age of eighty-five. In addition to making lots of what has been reliably described to me as lousy beer, Mr Coors used his alcohol fortune to create the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation and fund the careers of Republicans like Ronald Reagan. Mr Coors even served as a member of President Reagan's 'kitchen cabinet.'

His brother described the late Joseph Coors thusly: "He was very principled and dedicated. But we got along a lot better if we didn't talk politics," Bill Coors said. "He was conservative as they come. I mean, he was a little bit right of Attila the Hun."
CANADA SAYS 'NO/NON' TO IRAQ WAR -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien told a cheering Parliament today that without a U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force, Canada will not participate in a war against Iraq. The Canadians have a pretty good record of choosing the right fights and sitting out the bad ones.
TWO LESSONS FOR COUNTRY SINGERS -- Firstly, never forget that what you say in one place will be heard everywhere else. Secondly, never forget that many of your fans are angry right-wing Republicans whose first response to anything they don't like is to start smashing stuff.

Got it?
MOYNIHAN IN CRITICAL CONDITION -- Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) is in critical condition due to an infection from a burst appendix. Mr Moynihan is 76 years old and served in the U.S. Senate from 1977-2001, after spending some time in the Nixon administration.
SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR SOLID...FOR NOW -- A new CBS News poll finds support for war in Iraq right now--with the U.N. or not--is rock-solid among Mr Bush's Republican base. Independents are supportive of Bush's invasion of Iraq, but far less so and wavering. Democrats seem quite opposed to the Iraq war and unlikely to give credence to Mr Bush's assurances of war aims, goals, and the eventual outcome.

What is interesting about the poll is that most Americans believe attacking Iraq will hurt the economy and lead to more terrorism against the United States. Nevertheless, they support the attack. Perhaps the people really believe all this silly blather about bringing democracy to Iraq.
IRAQ DIVIDED INTO 4 ZONES -- In preparation for the upcoming invasion of his country, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has divided his country into four military zones: the north, the south, the central, and the central Euphrates quadrants. (Personally, I think the Steelers will win the central this year.) Saddam will personally command the Getting My Ass Inside a Deep Bunker quadrant. As an inducement to fight, the military commander of the zone which holds out the longest gets a guest appearance on "American Idol." The first to surrender gets a weekend for two with Saddam's son, Uday.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

FIGURE IT OUT -- Volokh attacks TAPPED for alleged hypocrisy. Vokokh misses the point, of course--intentionally or not. The point is not that liberals don't launch attacks on conservatives, the point is that liberals don't have entire publishing houses (or talk radio) at their disposal to destroy the reputations and savage the policies of liberals. Get it?
TWO JOBS YOU DON'T WANT -- Human shield in Iraq and protestor against Israeli settlement policy.
BLOGROLL UPDATE -- Doxagora has moved. Update accordingly.
U.S. TO TURKEY: GIVE US OUR MONEY BACK -- Denied the right to attack Iraq through Turkey, the Bush admin told the Turkish government that the promised $15 billion bribe has been rescinded. Lesson: Buying people's loyalty is a lot less reliable than earning it. Just don't expect the Bush admin to learn that any time soon.