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Spencer Blog Archives 09-02


Jeff Cooper has raised an interesting question in his blog today. He argues that warblogs are no longer a good place to go for reasoned analysis for those of us who have questions about Bush's case for war with Iraq. Jeff writes:

As the fall elections draw near, though, and as we move closer to action against Iraq, I find myself reading the warblogs less and less. It's not simply because they support the president's posture toward Iraq, a subject about which I have serious misgivings. It's that so many of them deny any legitimacy whatsoever to those who hold positions different from their own. Consider the following, posted by Bill Quick over the weekend:

The left is clueless, suicidal, morally bankrupt, and ethically a contradiction, concerned only with power for the sake of power and, yes, in their lust for a phony"internationalism," deeply and profoundly unpatriotic. They hate the spirit of the Constitution, wish to pick and choose among those few parts of it they like, loathe America, are ashamed to be American (despite all their lies about"loving America, they don't really love this country - they love only their desperate, ugly wish for an America structured to the socialist, statist horror they truly desire), and would destroy the America of the Founders and the Constitution in a moment if they could wave a magic red wand and do so.
My goodness. But surely he's talking only about the radical leftist fringe, the tiny fragment of the American polity that occupies a relationship to mainstream Democrats similar to that between Buchananites and mainstream Republicans? Well, no:
Yes, I can hear the gasps. I'm accusing men like Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt of being unpatriotic, am I? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Their only concern at the moment is not that Saddam Hussein might be a deadly danger to the people they claim to represent, it is that they somehow find a way to take power in the House and Senate in the upcoming national elections, so they can more effectively assault a President who is charged with defending American citizens against one of the greatest threats we've faced in the modern era. That's not patriotism, it's only partisanship, and no matter how they try to gussy them up, the two are not the same thing.
I'm sorry, but this is intolerable. It's pernicious nonsense like this that justifies Samuel Johnson's description of patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel. It is entirely possible to love one's country, to recognize that Saddam Hussein is an evil man who has done evil things and will do more in the future if unchecked, to believe that terrorism must be opposed forcibly, and still to harbor grave doubts about the course on which we are now set. This is especially so when the administration's public argument for action against Iraq is so deeply based on demonstrable lies—lies recognized as such even by the Washington Times, for goodness sake. Given the dishonesty with which the case against Iraq is presented, it is, I would think, a demonstration of devotion to one's country to question the wisdom of pursuing unilateral action in the face of our allies' opposition, and indeed to question the motives of those who repeatedly rely on falsehoods to press their case.

As someone who is relatively new to this blogging thing, it was surprising to hear that war blogs ever were a good source for reasoned debate and analysis. I have found that most of them eschew any sort of analysis in favor of good old-fashioned chest-thumping and cheerleading. And Jeff points out that most of them impugn the patriotism of the administration's opponents instead of answering their criticisms. I find this to be almost universally the case with most of the more popular war blogs.

I find a similar sort of reasoning (if I can dignify it by calling it"reasoning") being employed by folks in the blogosphere who are raising a stink over the comments of Jim McDermott and David Bonior from Baghdad in which they criticize the administration's case for war against Iraq. Now, I think it is a bad idea to criticize Bush's Iraq policy from Baghdad. It makes you look like propaganda tools for Saddam. It looks very bad and clearly these guys were not exercising the best judgement in saying such things from Iraq. However, I don't find anything they're saying to be that outrageous -- they just should be saying those things over here rather than in Baghdad. The administration has misled the American people on numerous occasions recently with regard to Iraq. If you recall, it was just this weekend that the administration was caught essentially falsifying evidence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities.

However, the rhetoric and condemnation by Republicans in Washington has seemed awfully forced -- and it is. The same Republicans who are now blowing-and-going about Bonior and McDermott undercut Bill Clinton's foreign policies at every opportunity. Look at the comments below by Trent Lott and Tom DeLay regarding the Iraq situation in 1998. Lott and DeLay essentially abandoned Bill Clinton in 1998 regarding Iraq. Lott insisted that we should"go slow" and downplayed Iraq as a serious threat. Who were the appeasers back then? Lott, Delay, et. al essentially forced Clinton to follow the policy they desired -- which was essentially to do nothing. The lame congressional resolution produced by the Republican congress in 1998 was little more than a warm bucket of spit. Republicans insisted that Clinton not use force to compel Saddam to allow arms inspectors into Iraq. How dare these sunshine patriots condemn Bonior and DeLay when their own behavior was so cowardly with regard to Iraq not so long ago. How amazing it is for these same Republicans to blame the Iraq situation on Clinton, conveniently forgetting their own complicity in the developments in 1998 and 1999.

However, the same folks in the blogosphere who are blasting the administration's critics are only following the lead of their heroes in the White House. The administration long ago gave up making any sort of reasoned case with evidence for war with Iraq. Like their supporters in the blogosphere, they're content to make assertions without evidence and to question the patriotism of their critics rather than attempt to answer their questions. I'm just surprised anyone would expect reasoned discussion and debate from these folks, whether we're talking about Republicans in Washington or war bloggers. Maybe at one time they were capable of it but clearly they no longer are.


Robert Torricelli has officially pulled out of the New Jersey Senate race. The Democrats are going to try to replace him on the ticket just 36 days before the election. As usual, expect the Republicans to take this one to court. If the Democrats replace Torricelli on the ticket, the Republicans will probably lose. The funniest part of all this is when a Republican official talks about how New Jersey Democrats are"manipulating democracy." Isn't that rich? In 2000, the Republicans"manipulated democracy" through their cronies in the courts all the way to the White House. Just a wee bit hypocritical, eh?

Sorry warmongers, the Turkish police didn't seize 33 pounds of Uranium, just five ounces. I know many bloggers have been writing breathlessly all weekend about how this was a"smoking gun" in the case against Saddam. Sorry guys, no cigar. I know it disappoints you so. One of the more prominent of these folks is now claiming that he really didn't believe these early reports but his actual words betray him.

I'll probably write more later today from home.


William Raspberry of the Washington Postasks several important unasked questions about the impending war with Iraq.

Does anyone else think this sounds like a hair-brained idea to stop Iraqi commanders from using chemical or biological weapons?

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is certainly onto something in this article. He argues that the administration's desire for war isn't about Iraq, it isn't about the war on terrorism, it's about establishing a Pax Americana. We need to conquer Iraq to prove our power and begin our drive toward a world empire. And while we spend billions on arms to keep the peace the rest of the world will surpass us in every major quality of life measure that we know of but, hey, we'll be the big boy on the block. This article is definitely worth the time.

Larry Sabato's current prediction for the November 5th elections is that it's going down to the wire. He doesn't even venture a guess about the Senate and he gives the Republicans a small edge in the House races. Therefore, I expect a great deal more wagging the dog from Republicans in the coming weeks.

In his article about the midterm elections, Howard Fineman at Newsweek certainly agrees with me that W is trying to wag the dog. In fact, his article is titled"Wag the War." His analysis is quite good. He argues that the economy is likely to be the deciding factor. In a shopping mall in W's home state he discovers that even wealthy Houstonians aren't sold on this war's necessity and that the economy is more important to them.

Isn't it about time to replace the top people at the FBI and CIA? Here's a story about how the upper echelons in both agencies are upset that the congressional investigation is making them look so bad. Try not to cry too much into your beer guys. I just want to know how these folks are holding on to their jobs! If W's administration was worth anything, they would have fired most of these folks already.

Now I'll dive into the pile! However, I'll probably update the blog a few more times today for a diversion from the tedium.


I know that a few folks have asked where to find my past articles for HNN before I started writing the blog. You simply need to use HNN's search feature. However, I'll make it much easier for you and just post links to them here.

February 11:"Did President Bush Pass Up an Attempt to Get Bin Laden Before 9-11?"

March 11:"Bush in the Bunker"

April 29:"Does the NRA Mistrust Democracy?"

May 16:"Caught in a Lie?"

June 24:"Is the 'War on Terrorism' just another 'Quasi War'?"

July 23:"10 Days that Shook the Bush Presidency"

I do miss writing the articles. However, I think I'll be sticking to blog-writing for the foreseeable future. It's taking up enough of my time at the moment.


Here's a good op-ed by Cragg Hines of the Houston Chronicle about Bush's shameful performance this week. I'll give you a quote of the first four paragraphs:

While President Bush is playing fast and loose with the politics of the war on terror, he should consider that were it not for Sept. 11 his administration and its Republican friends on Capitol Hill likely would be deep in the tank and about to go down for the third time. Or, more likely, Bush (or Karl Rove) has thought of that. And the realization led the president into his sorry enterprise of declaring that the Democratically controlled Senate is"not interested in the security of the American people."

Without the veneer of national solidarity produced by the attacks, most Americans rightly would be focused on the flaccid economy and thinking that Bush was a fiscal doofus and corporate crony who should be hitting the road and taking Trent Lott and Tom DeLay with him.

The war has saved their skins, and Bush's implicit suggestion that he and other Republicans are morally superior to Democrats in the fight against Osama bin Laden and even Saddam Hussein is egregious and sickening -- not to mention baseless.

Bush's success in the fight against bin Laden is modest enough and his mooted battle with Saddam, although well founded, is tricky enough that there is no room for his chest-thumping commentary that grows more urgent as mid-term elections approach.

The rest of the op-ed is worth reading as well. This administration would be teetering on the edge of irrelevancy if it weren't for September 11th -- and it's still possible that the midterms will make that so as well. That's why the administration is fighting"bear knuckles" style right now.

Nicholas Confessore's piece in the Washington Monthly is quite interesting. He makes the argument that a Republican victory in the midterms would essentially bring political armaggedon for those of us who value a government whose raison d'etre isn't to enrich the already rich. Here's a short quote from the much larger piece:

The GOP already controls the White House, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives. The Democrats control the Senate, but by only one vote. Polls of the handful of competitive Senate races indicate that control of the chamber is a toss-up. And while Democrats are optimistic about retaking the House, Republicans are increasingly sure that their larger war chests and a late-campaign public focus on national security threats will keep them in power. So if Johnson loses, and the Democrats don't win elsewhere, then, for the first time since 1953, the GOP would control both Congress and the White House for at least two years. Throw in the Supreme Court, and Republicans will have won control of the entire federal government for the first time since 1929. With that kind of power, it would take only a few years for the Republican Party to fundamentally reshape American government in ways that can't be undone no matter which party wins in 2004--from more tax cuts that would bankrupt Washington for decades, to a continued unilateralist foreign policy that would wreak further havoc on international institutions, to judicial precedents that would permanently cripple the ability of the federal government to grapple with social and economic problems. By any reasonable measure, the most pivotal issue facing voters in this congressional election is control of Congress itself.

This piece is worth your time. Give it a read.


In addition to W being caught lying through his teeth, there are a couple of other interesting tidbits today.

Despite the administration's best efforts, The dog continues to refuse to be wagged. Public support for action against Iraq without the support of allies is dropping fast according to a recent poll. It drops to a mere 33% if the U.S. must act unilaterally. As I've said before, if W wants public support, he's going to have to work through the U.N. He'd better get used to the idea.

Now who does Dick Cheney work for? The American people or energy companies? Boy, the arguments the administration is advancing to ward off the GAO's lawsuit certainly look bad to anyone who cares about congressional oversight. Using their logic, an administration never has to turn over documents to congress. Just a wee bit secretive aren't they? Reminds me a lot of Nixon's administration.

Boy, what a difference an administration makes for Republicans on Iraq. You ought to take a look at the arguments Republicans like Trent Lott made when Saddam kicked inspectors out of Iraq in 1998. They argued it wasn't that big of a deal and that we should"go slow" in Iraq. I guess the devil wasn't quite so evil back then. I've seen absolutely no evidence to convince me much has changed in Iraq since then, so why the change Trent? Oh yeah, I forgot. Midterm elections are coming up -- never mind.


You knew they'd get caught making stuff up eventually. W and the boys want a war with Iraq and will say anything to get it. Here's the story: the folks at the International Atomic Energy Agency says that the 1998 report W has been citing about Saddam's nuclear capability"doesn't exist." The best part is when the administration spin machine (so it doesn't seem like they're lying outright) claims that they were really talking about the 1991 report. The agency says that report doesn't exist either. Oops. How embarrassing.

This is pretty astonishing. W has now been caught essentially falsifying evidence in trying to make the case against Iraq. However, the most amazing thing here has got to be that the story accusing W of making stuff up is written by the Republican Party's often-reliable lapdogs at the moonie-owned Washington Times! Here's a quote:

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was"six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist.

"There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

"We've never put a time frame on how long it might take Iraq to construct a nuclear weapon in 1998," said the spokesman of the agency charged with assessing Iraq's nuclear capability for the United Nations.

In a Sept. 7 news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Bush said:"I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied — finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," said the president, defending his administration's case that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction.

The White House says Mr. Bush was referring to an earlier IAEA report.

"He's referring to 1991 there," said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan."In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they were about six months away." Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991.

Amazing stuff, eh? Of course, you knew it was only a matter of time before somebody in our rather subservient press corps began to fact-check some of W's most outrageous and evidence-free statements in his case for war with Iraq.


Frank Rich has yet another great column out today. You should read it. Here's a bit of it:

The"fuzzy math" of this White House's tax cut and budget projections, chronicled by my colleague Paul Krugman from the start, is compounded daily rather than corrected. When we poor shareholders worry too loudly about our growing economic pain, the administration's antidote to our woes is not more honesty in bookkeeping but Ken Lay-style cheerleading. This month Mr. Bush's S.E.C. chief, Harvey Pitt, went so far as to tell Americans it is"more than safe" to get back in the market — as the Dow plummeted for its sixth consecutive month. It's the same pitch Mr. Lay offered his employees in an e-mail —"I want to assure you that I have never felt better about the prospects for the company" — on the day Jeffrey Skilling resigned as chief executive in anticipation of Enron's collapse.

But this administration no longer cooks the books merely on fiscal matters. Disinformation has become ubiquitous, even in the government's allegedly empirical scientific data on public health. The annual federal report on air pollution trends published this month simply eliminated its usual (and no doubt troubling) section on global warming, much as accountants at Andersen might have cleaned up a balance sheet by hiding an unprofitable division. At the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported last week, expert committees are being"retired" before they can present data that might contradict the president's views on medical matters — much as naysaying Wall Street analysts were sidelined in favor of boosters who could be counted on to flog dogs like WorldCom or Pets.com right until they imploded.

It's when such dishonesty extends to the war on terrorism, though, that you appreciate just how much a killer arrogance can be. Even with little White House cooperation in its inquiry, this month's Congressional intelligence hearings presented a chilling portrait of the administration's efforts to cover up its pre-9/11 lassitude about terrorist threats. Exhibit A was Condoleezza Rice's pronouncement from last May:"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." In fact, the committee reported, U.S. intelligence had picked up a dozen plots of a similar sort, over a period from 1994 to pre-9/11 2001, with some of them specifically mentioning the World Trade Center and the White House as potential targets. In the weeks before the attack the C.I.A. learned that in Afghanistan"everyone is talking about an impending attack."

I don't know if I have anything to add. Just read it. As usual, it's quite good.

My understanding is the liberal, communist and anti-war New York Times refused to run this op-ad by the folks at TomPaine.com. Boy, what's the controversy here? Yeah, sure the picture of Osama is a bit shocking but the text of the op-ad isn't that outrageous. It's amazing to me when our so-called"liberal" press practices a little censorship of anti-war views, isn't it?

I'm happy to report that the dog is still refusing to be wagged before the midterm elections.

There was a large explosion in Kabul today. I'm so glad we're succeeding in keeping the peace in Afghanistan. Does anyone else think that Afghanistan is eventually going to disintegrate into a civil war again because of the administration's inattention? I know the international community believes it's just a matter of time. If I were a betting man, I'd put money on it -- but I'm not.


I haven't said much about the Bellesiles case because I wanted to wait until the process is finished. As it becomes increasingly obvious that Bellesiles is going to be punished for his historical sins, I now feel I can say a little something. The blogosphere has been filled with discussion of this case. I'll quote a couple of folks that actually make a little sense and aren't gun"enthusiasts" who are celebrating like they actually had some hand in it themselves.

First, a quotation from Jeff Pasley's blog here on HNN:

---If you want an explanation for many historians' unwillingness to join the chorus of condemnation against Michael Bellesiles despite the evidence, check out the mob ripping apart his scholarly carcass on another part of this site. Ecch. The"pig roast" guy obviously heard that bit in church about"there but for the grace of God go I." Did I miss the part in Arming America where Bellesiles impugned gun-rights enthusiasts' mothers? You would think that Bellesiles was Stalin's right-hand man from the tone these people take.

It looks like Michael is going to be punished in some way by Emory, and he may well deserve it, but come on. Cooking history books may be a scholarly crime, but it surely does not measure up to say, defrauding thousands out of their livelihoods. (Have to disagree with the person who made the Enron comparison.) His book cost none of his critics more than the price of the book -- their millions of man-hours online being voluntary -- the controversy has done far more damage to the cause of progressive history (if that's the term) and gun control than even its full acceptance could have to the NRA and their fellow travellers. Kudos to the people who are trying to react reasonably, on HNN and elsewhere. The others can call off the public victory toga party anytime they like. Of course, what Charlton Heston does behind closed doors is nobody's business but his.

Now, a quotation from blogger Kevin Drum, better known as Calpundit:

But why is this so interesting? A historian wrote a book on an obscure subject not accessible to fact checking by laymen (or lay book critics). Professional historians have investigated and decided that the book is bogus. And now his support is melting away.

What else would you expect? Isn't this just evidence that professional historians are doing their job? And that Bellesiles' original supporters really aren't doctrinaire liberals stubbornly determined to support their cause at all costs? Shouldn't Glenn [Instapundit] and all the pro-gun folks be congratulating them for keeping an open mind?

I guess that's not a very realistic hope, is it?

Well said. This episode has actually shown that the system works. Maybe it doesn't work as quickly as the"enthusiasts" would like it to but aren't the wheels of justice supposed to be deliberate? Aren't we not supposed to rush to judgement? I know because what Bellesiles said disagreed with what many of the"enthusiasts" believed, he was supposed to be tarred and feathered on the spot and ridden out of town on a rail but that's not how the system works -- fortunately for all of us.

And now, as I said in an earlier blog entry, it's time to find something else to talk about guys. I know that your lives will lose a great deal of meaning but that's just part of life.


Timothy Noah of Slate has a nice column arguing that the real reason for the blow-up in Washington this week was the president's demagogy about government rather than any serious issues about the war with Iraq.

Here's a nice editorial about how W is trying to have it both ways on the federal judiciary. If W disagrees with an opinion, he blasts the judge for making a politically-motivated decision. However, in the confirmation process he argues that judges should be confirmed without considering their politics. So, if being a judge is apolitical, why does he so often criticize a judge's politics?

Nicholas Kristof's article suggests that Iraqis may fight more passionately once the war is brought to them. That's an obvious point but one that, for some reason, the administration doesn't grasp.

Finally, here's an interesting analysis by W's favorite reporter for the New York Times about the way the house races are shaping up. You'll notice there's ample evidence here that the administration is wagging the dog for political gain which I believe is, as you can probably tell from my earlier comments, about as shameful a use of war as is possible.


Another good Paul Krugman column is out today. In this one, he talks about how the fake power crisis in California is sure to repeat itself with this bought-and-paid-for administration in power. Here's a snippet:

But why did energy companies think they could get away with it?

One answer might be that the apparent malefactors are very big contributors to the Republican Party. Some analysts have suggested that energy companies felt free to manipulate markets because they believed they had bought protection from federal regulation — the conspiracy-minded point out that severe power shortages began just after the 2000 election, and ended when Democrats gained control of the Senate.

Federal regulators certainly seemed determined to see and hear no evil, and above all not to reveal evidence of evil to state officials. A previous FERC ruling on El Paso was, in the view of many observers, a whitewash. In another case, AES/Williams was accused of shutting down generating units, forcing the power system to buy power at vastly higher prices from other units of the same company. In April 2001, FERC and Williams reached a settlement in which the company repaid the extra profits, but paid no penalty — and FERC sealed the evidence. Last week CBS News reported that"federal regulators have power control room audiotapes that prove traders from Williams Energy called plant operators and told them to turn off the juice. The government sealed the tapes in a secret settlement" — the same settlement? —"and still refuses to release them."

If that's true, FERC caught at least one power company red-handed, in the middle of the crisis, at a time when state officials were begging the agency to take action — and then suppressed the evidence. Yet this story has received little national play.

Why has this story"received little national play" Krugman asks? Because we're talking about war instead, that's why. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.


Holy Moly! You've gotta read this. Ashcroft has personal connections to an Iraqi group the administration is now declaring a terrorist organization. The administration is now trying to use Saddam's ties to this organization to declare he supports terrorism. Using this administration's often specious logic, doesn't that now mean that Ashcroft supports terrorism? Doesn't that mean W should declare him an enemy combatant?

In other wacky Ashcroft news, his Justice Department gave Zacarias Moussaoui 48 classified documents by mistake. The best part of the article is when the Justice Department spokesman tries to reassure us that Moussaoui never read the documents. Why is Ashcroft still in charge of the Justice Department? This is certainly major league incompetence, wouldn't you say?

Further proving that this administration of millionaires, for millionaires, and by millionaires is out of touch with the average Joe, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill declared today that the economy is doing just fine. For filthy rich folks like him, I'm sure it is. Now, for the rest of us, many of whom are suffering mightily because of the state of the economy, well, our opinions just don't count with this administration.


I've got a giant stack of blue books that will keep me pretty busy for the next few days. I will, of course, continue to blog but it may be a bit more sporadic than it has been. I will keep it going. With that in mind, I'll give you some links to some interesting news tidbits.

You know the ghoul, er, Don Rumsfeld is in trouble when Bob Novak, noted Republican lapdog, calls him a liar. Novak points out that Rumsfeld's testimony before congress the other day about his role in building up Saddam in the 1980s stretches the truth just a wee bit.

W sounds awfully desperate when he asserts, with absolutely no evidence, that Saddam has ties to Al-Qaeda. Obviously, W thinks this assertion will help to shake his pro-war resolution loose in congress. However, just repeating something over and over doesn't make it true -- even if most conservatives seem to think it does.

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post apparently agrees with me that it's time for the administration to provide answers to critics' questions instead of trying to shout them down or impugn their patriotism.

It also appears that the Washington Post editorial staff agrees with me as well.

Okay, so I'm not that original. The New York Timesagrees with me too.


Instead of relying on hawkish"war bloggers" or even quotations from media websites for accounts of Daschle's speech, I would suggest that folks should actually read Daschle's remarks before the Senate. After watching Republicans mischaracterize this speech for the last 24 hours, I think it's time for folks to actually read the speech. What you see there may surprise you.

Republicans keep claiming Daschle is confusing the Iraq war and the war on terrorism in his remarks. However, if you actually read the speech, you can see that Daschle clearly is referring to the"war on terrorism" not the impending war with Iraq. It is the war on terrorism, of which the new Homeland Security Agency created by the bill in question would be a part, that Daschle is referring to. Any Republican who suggests different is clearly trying to mislead the public. After watching Newt Gingrich's performance last night on Nightline, I think it's time for everyone to actually read the speech rather than relying on the Republican spin of it that is dominating our subservient Washington media's discussion of the speech.

Of course, Senator Charles Schumer made another excellent point last night on Nightline when he argued that what we're seeing is an administration that questions the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them on some aspect of the war on terror. I love listening to Republicans like Trent Lott call Daschle's remarks"unhelpful" and"partisan." Hey Trent, how helpful is it to question the patriotism of everyone that disagrees with you? You guys on that side of the aisle have been doing it for months now. I suspect he's just upset because someone finally called him on it.

This administration has gone a long way toward poisoning the discourse in this country over the last few months and it's about time that Republicans begin to realize that and take responsibility for it. This from an administration that swore it was going to" change the tone" in Washington. They changed the tone all right. In fact, they turned the treble knob all the way up.

It's also about time for someone, anyone, in the White House to actually take responsibility for something. Whether we're talking about the economy, the deficit, or security mistakes, this administration weasels off, passes the buck, and avoids responsibility. Daschle is only voicing the concerns and anger of a growing number of Americans today who see an administration that avoids taking responsibility for anything and uses the worst possible tactics to get its way.

I think Daschle is right. It is time for an apology to Democrats and the American people for the shameful and outrageous way that the administration is impugning the patriotism of its critics rather than trying to respond to the actual content of their criticisms. It shows you the moral and political bankruptcy of this administration that it is using this old and disingenuous tactic instead of engaging in genuine debate and discussion about its domestic security policies and the impending war on Iraq.

I think it's time for it to stop.


Right now.

Do you think this will happen?

Of course not.


W plans to cut several domestic federal programs -- including several in education -- in order to pay for his tax cut and the war in Iraq. Whatever happened to"the education president?" I guess, like most things that don't involve tax cuts or war, this was just lip service rather than any sort of meaningful commitment.

James Pinkerton has a powerful op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about Bush's"strategy" of wagging the dog. Here's a bit of it:

The Bush administration dominates the news every time it says anything about its prospective war with Iraq. As an example, the"strategy" document released Friday, calling for preemptive action against terror, was mostly a rehash of the president's speech of June 1. And yet discussion of its particulars dominated the weekend, as other news was mostly buried.

And maybe that's the real brilliance of the Bushies--changing the subject away from the economy, stupid.

Consider: The Dow Jones industrial average fell below 8,000 last week and closed Monday at 7,872. Just Sunday, Peregrine Systems, a San Diego-based software company, filed for bankruptcy. As an example of the cratering in high tech, Peregrine sold off a subsidiary unit for $350 million after having paid $1 billion for that same unit in August 2001. Speaking of lost billions, WorldCom revealed last week that it probably misreported $9 billion in revenue, not $7 billion. Meanwhile, leading economic indicators and housing starts have fallen for three months in a row. Finally, oil prices went above $30 a barrel Monday, up 40% since the start of the year.

If this news seems secondary, maybe there's a reason for that. But not a good reason, according to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). The octogenarian legislator offered his own explanation on the Senate floor Friday:"The president was dropping in the polls and the domestic situation was such that the administration was appearing to be much like the emperor who had no clothes." Speaking in his usual flowery prose, Byrd described the coming of"the war fervor, the drums of war, the bugles of war, the clouds of war."

I think some folks in the media are beginning to pay attention. It's about time.

Layoffs soared in August, up 46% from July. I think it's time to talk some more about Iraq, don't you?

However, judging from these poll numbers, the dog is still refusing to be wagged.


This USA Todaystory recounts how Dick Cheney has come begging to the congress for more travel money. Here's a snip:

Vice President Cheney, whose travel this year has been mainly trips to"secure undisclosed locations" and GOP fundraisers, has exceeded his travel budget and is asking Congress to approve shifting $100,000 from other White House accounts to cover the tab.

Congress approved $386,000 for travel by the vice president this year and authorized the White House to spend an additional $50,000 if necessary — a total of $436,000. So far, Cheney's travel costs for the year total $432,000, but the figure is expected to go higher because of lag time in processing bills.

Isn't it amazing that the fiscal conservatives are always the ones who personally waste the most of the taxpayers' money on themselves while in office? Isn't it just a wee bit hypocritical when your tax cut has depleted federal coffers and you're threatening to veto important spending bills to be asking for additional money so you can fly around the country from fundraiser to fundraiser attacking the patriotism of Democrats? I say it's time to tell Dick to either stay home or go to his undisclosed location -- and live within his means. The rest of us manage to do so somehow. Besides, Dick made $50M or so running Halliburton into the ground in the 1990s. Why doesn't he cover the shortfall? Why should we have to cover it?


It appears that Tom Daschle has had enough. He's exasperated about Bush's rather careless remarks regarding the Democratic-controlled Senate yesterday. I think W may have finally overstepped his bounds. I wondered what sort of shameless act by W was required to make Democrats finally say something. I guess now we know. Here's a bit of the story:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Wednesday demanded an apology from President Bush for comments the South Dakota Democrat said were"outrageous" and politicized a possible war with Iraq.

His voice thick with emotion, the normally soft-spoken Daschle said Bush had insulted Democrats, many of them veterans of war, in saying the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate was"not interested in the security of the American people."

"That is outrageous, outrageous," Daschle said on the Senate floor.

He demanded the president apologize to Democrats and the American people.

"We ought not to politicize this war. We ought not to politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death," Daschle said.

As I said earlier, it does appear the dog is beginning to refuse to be wagged. It's almost as if Bush doesn't know when to stop. He's already getting nearly everything he wants but, like the spoiled child that he is, it's never enough to please him.

However, the most amazing part of this story is at the end when the reporter, apparently with no sense of irony, includes a Trent Lott quote in which Lott accuses Daschle of being too partisan in his comments. Now, after what the president said yesterday, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? Of course, with the lilly white nature of Lott's supporters in Mississippi and his frequent appearances before militant racist groups there, I guess I should've chosen a different turn of phrase to describe Lott's hypocrisy.


Here's an analytical article about how the administration lost the battle over worker's rights in the Senate's version of the Homeland Security Bill. Isn't it a good idea for employees in this agency to be covered by the worker protections given to other federal employees? Isn't it a bad idea to create a security agency that has the potential of becoming a patronage machine for the current administration? Wouldn't that actually endanger domestic security?

This analysis of Bush's flub in being unable to say"shame on me" is quite good. W apparently is unable to even ponder himself doing anything wrong. Take a look.

What does Molly Ivins think about W's new National Security strategy? Not much as you might imagine. She also points out that this is the same misguided document that the same folks during Bush I put out to deal with the Soviet Threat before it, er, disappeared. They've now gussied it up and re-introduced it as a"new" plan for the world. Here's a snippet:

All the experts tell us anti-Americanism thrives on the perception that we are arrogant, that we care nothing for what the rest of the world thinks. Even our innocent mistakes are often blamed on obnoxious triumphalism. The announced plan of this administration for world domination reinforces every paranoid, anti-American prejudice on this earth. This plan is guaranteed to produce more terrorists. Even if this country were to become some insane, 21st century version of Sparta -- armed to teeth, guards on every foot of our borders -- we would still not be safe. Have the Israelis been able to stop terrorism with their tactics?

Not only would we not be safe, we would not have a nickel left for schools or health care or roads or parks or zoos or gardens or universities or mass transit or senior centers or the arts or anything resembling civilization. This is nuts.

This creepy, un-American document has a pedigree going back to Bush I, when -- surprise! -- Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz were at the Department of Defense and both such geniuses that they not only didn't see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, they didn't believe it after they saw it.

In those days, this plan for permanent imperial adventurism was called"Defense Strategy for the 1990s" and was supposed to be a definitive response to the Soviet threat. Then the Soviet threat disappeared, and the same plan re-emerged as a response to the post-Soviet world.

It was roundly criticized at the time, its manifest weaknesses attacked by both right and left. Now it is back yet again as the answer to post-Sept. 11. Sort of like the selling of the Bush tax cut -- needed in surplus, needed in deficit, needed for rain and shine -- the plan exists apart from rationale. ` As Frances Fitzgerald points out in the Sept. 26 New York Review of Books, its most curious feature is the combination of triumphalism and almost unmitigated pessimism. Until last Friday, when the thing was re-released in its new incarnation, it contained no positive goals for American foreign policy, not one. Now the plan is tricked out with rhetoric like earrings on a pig about extending freedom, democracy and prosperity to the world. But as The New York Times said,"It sounds more like a pronouncement that the Roman Empire or Napoleon might have produced."

Tell us how you feel Molly! Don't hold back now!


A new CBS News poll does not have good news for the administration on Iraq. Most Americans believe we should wait on the U.N. and should only act on Iraq in concert with our allies. Despite all the bluster of the past few weeks, most Americans still aren't buying the administration's spin on Iraq as a" clear and present danger." However, in an interesting twist, more Americans now believe that Saddam is a threat that Osama bin Laden. That is pretty astonishing. That part of the administration's campaign, ridiculous as it is, certainly appears to be working on the minds of Americans.

However, does this really make any sense? Honestly, if left alone, which of these two guys would you bet on striking us first in the next couple of years? It's not Saddam, is it? Past experience suggests Osama, no matter what the Al-Qaeda network's condition, is the much bigger threat.


Arianna Huffington has a good column out today on her website. In it she describes how so many candidates running for the Senate are hypocritically trying to make themselves out to be populists. Here's a quotation about my state's Senate contest:

Corporate connections have also played a central role in the Missouri Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan is locked in a tight contest with Republican former congressman Jim Talent.

Carnahan and her supporters have drawn blood by playing up Talent's most recent gig as a moderately talented $230,000-a-year corporate lobbyist, and by attacking his pro-fat cat voting record while serving in the House -- including his support of a federal loophole that allows super-rich Americans to renounce their citizenship as a way to avoid paying taxes. It doesn't help Talent's cause that during his time in Congress he was part of a group of young congressmen who dubbed themselves the"Lobster Tails" -- renowned for dining out at fancy restaurants on lobbyist's expense accounts.

In the finest tradition of American politics and schoolyards everywhere, Talent has responded to the attacks on his career as a lobbyist by finding a lobbyist of his own to smear -- making mud pies out of the fact that Roy Temple, Carnahan's chief of staff, worked as a lobbyist for MCI during the time it was acquired by the sleazoids at WorldCom.

Talent's buddies in the Missouri GOP have also joined the fray, running TV ads attacking Carnahan as a hypocrite in populist’s clothing for having accepted campaign cash from executives at Global Crossing -- including the ubiquitous Hindery --"who bankrupted the company and cost the employees their jobs and life savings." The commercials fail to mention, however, that the Republican Senatorial Committee, which helped pay for the ad, also took money from Global Crossing. Maybe irony didn't score well in the committee’s focus group tests.

It's definitely the last days of Rome as far as the candidates and soft money are concerned. When I watch television on my low-budget small-town station from St. Joseph, it's nonstop commercials for this race, all paid for by soft money. Sometimes, three of the four commercials are for the Senate race! BTW, Jean Carnahan is apparently ahead of Jim Talent by eight to ten points in most polls in the state. So I'm not quite sure if it still qualifies as a"tight contest."


There's a great Gene Lyons column out this morning. I'll provide you with a quotation for now and, as soon as it is available, I'll provide you with a free link for access. The folks who run my old hometown paper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Republicans that they are, try to keep Gene's columns off their website unless you're a subscriber. If you want your Gene Lyons almost as soon as it hits screen doors in Little Rock, send an e-mail to this address.

And now, the promised quotation from Gene's latest column:

Now let me get this straight: Saddam Hussein is a deadly threat to American security, the worst since Hitler or Stalin. Why, it may take as long as two weeks to conquer Iraq. So now that President Junior's returned from a month-long vacation at his Texas ranch, which he apparently spent rounding up and branding golf carts, the sky is falling and there's not a moment to spare.

A Democrat-Gazette headline last week actually quoted Bush stating"If you want peace, it's necessary to use force."

War is Peace. Where have I heard that before?

"Regime change," the man calls it. Translation: assuming Junior doesn't get diplomatically outmaneuvered by the Iraqi strongman (and especially if he DOES), the administration is determined to invade a sovereign nation that hasn't attacked or threatened us, kill thousands of its citizens and install a dictator more to our liking. Preferably one who sells cheap oil and buys mass quantities of American-made weapons to replace the ones we're fixing to blow to smithereens.

Meanwhile, it's everybody's patriotic duty to keep a straight face. That's why the serious news broadcasts and the heavyweight pundits ignored Junior's unintentionally hilarious performance in Nashville last week. Speaking to one of his preferred audiences of schoolchildren, Bush told them Saddam can't be trusted.

"There's an old saying in Tennessee," he began."I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee--it says 'fool me once..." A long pause ensued. A befuddled, then somewhat panicky expression appeared on Bush's face."Shame on...shame on...you." Second pause."Fool me...can't get fooled again," he finally blurted out.

The irony of Bush's channeling The Who's caustic anthem was almost paralyzing. Written to satirize Sixties-style hippie utopianism,"Won't Get Fooled Again" all but took the roof off Madison Square Garden when they performed it with a backdrop of British and American flags before cheering cops and firemen at the 2001"Concert for New York." Thirty years on, the song's acid pessimism, fierce anger and anarchic joy somehow made it the perfect 9/11 elegy.

I have to credit my wife, Melissa, though. She recognized that W was channeling the Who immediately. Well, that's all I can really get away with posting of this column for now. As soon as the free link is up, I'll post it.

Update: The column is now up on the"unofficial website." Go read it!!!


Here's an interesting editorial from a Yale law professor about who the most dangerous person on Earth is right now -- and it's not who W wants you to think it is.

The Dow reached a four-year low today. The NASDAQ reached a six-year low. Is it any wonder that W and Republicans only want to talk about war with Iraq?


Why did Bush flip-flop on the independent commission to investigate 9/11? Michael Isikoff of Newsweek explains why and, once again, it involves domestic political concerns rather than any higher goods such as a desire to get to the truth or trying to prevent such a thing from happening again.

In congressional testimony yesterday, one of the FBI agents in Minneapolis testified he was"trying to get people at FBI headquarters 'spun up' because he was trying to make sure that [Zacarias] Moussaoui 'did not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center." Now that's embarrassing. Of course, the worst part is when the agent's supervisor claims that he doesn't recall the conversation. Do you think he's really telling the truth? Why do I doubt it?

Here's an interesting op-ed piece from a trained propaganda analyst about the administration's propaganda campaign on Iraq from the Ann Arbor News that's worth reading.

Here's a story on how we sent 72 shipments of dangerous biological materials to Iraq during the Reagan and Bush I administrations in the 1980s. If Saddam has a biological weapons program now, it appears we gave it to him.


Since our own press is useless for this, I have to go to the foreign press, more specifically the Guardian, for any real listing of evidence against Iraq that isn't a 1980s rehash of well-known crimes. Tony Blair released a dossier yesterday with a list of allegations against Iraq.

The response in Britain by members of Blair's own party has been, essentially,"Big deal. Tell me something new will you?" I don't know what else to say about it. Take a look. I do assume W, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al can do better than this for evidence, right?

Update: It took a while but now American media sources have starting reporting on Blair's dossier. Here's MSNBC's story and an entire copy of the dossier.


W is supposed to know what he's doing, right? Biting the hand of an ally isn't very helpful and surely isn't very damn"diplomatic." The administration's spoiled child-like