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Spencer Blog Archives 5-03

Click here for Mr. Spencer's latest blog entries.


Jimm Donnelly's right about this. I haven't said much if anything about it. I've been very busy doing ten different things, traveling, and doing major home projects over the last few weeks but that's still not really a very good excuse. I know Atrios blogged on it a while back but not much else has been said in the lefty blogosphere. While bloggers always blog about what interests them, I agree with Jimm that this is an important issue that should be discussed more in the blogosphere.

The concentration of media power into fewer and fewer hands really does threaten media freedom and democracy itself. I'm pretty sure, knowing the respect Republicans have for democracy that, no matter how many tens of thousands of e-mails, faxes, and phonecalls they're getting, Colin Powell's son and his Republican cronies on the FCC will willfully ignore them and pass these rule changes over the objections of (apparently most) Americans.

The current pathetic media coverage of the lies told by the adminsistration regarding, to use Hesiod's excellent phrase, the"War of Bush Aggression" is a perfect case in point. We already have a media that is controlled by corporate types who'd just as soon softpedal the administration's recent astonishing depredations because it serves their own economic and political interests. If we have further concentration of media ownership, we might get even less coverage of important things like the fact that our government lied to us to build public support for an immoral and unnecessary war.

The further concentration of media power is an important issue that deserves, at the very least, further public debate. Personally, I'd prefer these proposed changes be defeated entirely and, furthermore, I'd like more stringent restrictions on media ownership put in place that would weaken the control of right-wing ideologues like Rupert Murdoch over our media.

While I'm relatively sure that Michael Powell and his fellow Republican footsoldiers on the FCC won't do a damn thing about the public outcry about this, that's still not a good excuse for ignoring the issue entirely as I have been.

I'm not sure this post properly corrects that oversight but it's a start at least.

Posted by Tom at 9:18 p.m. CDT


The finger-pointing about the cooking of the intelligence books in order to justify war with Iraq continues. I don't know folks, which is worse and more worthy of impeachment, lying about a consensual blowjob or lying about intelligence to justify a war?

I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Oh yeah, and go read this.

Update: Read this too.

Posted by Tom at 4:25 p.m. CDT


I couldn't resist blogging on this. As it becomes increasingly clear that the administration out-and-out lied to us about WMDs, now W has taken to lying about it himself apparently.

This is pretty damned embarrassing, isn't it?

BTW, just for the record, it's really hot here. I wasn't ready for 101 degrees on my first day down here.

Welcome to summer in Texas.

Posted by Tom at 1:58 p.m. CDT

G.T.T. AGAIN 05-30-03

I'm headed out to Texas this morning on my aforementioned travels.

As is obvious, I'll be at the mercy of internet availability for the next several days. If it's available (as it has been before when I was down in S.A. for A.P. grading), I'll blog some from Texas -- at least a couple of posts per day. However, this potential posting probably won't start until Sunday at the earliest.

If I don't have easy internet availability, well, my friends in Texas do have computers I'm told but I don't know if I'll feel like doing that.

We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 7:17 a.m. CDT

ABOUT KOS 05-30-03

Here's more about just who that Kos guy is.

Posted by Tom at 7:07 a.m. CDT


Great Krugman column today -- go read it. Once again, Krugman's done a great job of pulling everything together to make an argument that this war was based on lies and now strongly resembles the 1997 movie"Wag the Dog."

BTW, Jessica Lynch's parents have said they have been instructed not to talk about the rescue of their daughter. That looks just a wee bit suspicious, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 6:31 a.m. CDT


As usual, Josh Marshall has it.

It appears that DPS has decided to shift blame to Governor Goodhair and claim they were being"manipulated" a couple of weeks ago by the governor and his minions for partisan purposes. This is getting interesting now, isn't it?

Currently it also appears the Attorney General is spending more time trying to find the potential whistleblower in DPS than getting to the bottom of the document destruction. That's not unexpected from Republicans, is it?

I'll be in Austin tomorrow -- maybe something more will break by then.

We'll see.

Update: Chuck Kuffner also has a great update today as well.

Posted by Tom at 4:53 p.m. CDT


Morat has all the details.

Do you think our warmongering blogger brethren will jump on W with both feet now?

I wonder if they'd have been so gung-ho for it if they'd have known that?

How about it, Glenn?

The administration has made its allies and supporters look like absolute fools.

You'd think these folks would be a little upset about it, wouldn't you?

Posted by Tom at 12:13 p.m. CDT


Sean-Paul over at the Agonist points us to this story about the 20th American killed since W declared the war over in Iraq.

As Atrios said in a post this morning:

It's really quite sad how little coverage the deaths of the soldiers in Iraq get. After all the patriotic fervor the networks exuded in the run-up to the war, their families must wonder why they barely merit a mention.
I'm just happy this is all going so well and the press is covering all of this so closely.

Sean-Paul also has an informative post up about the issue in of ginned up WMD evidence in Iraq as well.

And, by the way, there was absolutely nothing at the location we struck with multiple cruise missiles the first night of IraqWar Part II. Great intelligence once again, huh?

So, when Rumsfeld said back in March they were certain they hit something, he lied.

And we all know the Jessica Lynch rescue was apparently fiction as well.

I think it's time for a rather important question:

Is there anything we were told to justify this war and about the major events of the war itself that has actually turned out to be true?

Ponder that one for a while.

Posted by Tom at 10:20 a.m. CDT


Joe Moran points us (permalinks bloggered) to this Financial Times article that quotes a suppressed treasury department report that we're going to rack up $44 trillion worth of deficits -- and that was before the current $800B taxcut was signed by W.

How's that for fiscal mismanagement?

$44 trillion is equal to the worth of all household assets in the U.S. and the report says it will require a 66% tax increase to close the hole -- yet W and the boys keep pursuing ruinous tax cuts. When are people going to care about this?

Posted by Tom at 8:19 a.m. CDT


the mess in Texas quite adequately here.

Posted by Tom at 8:06 a.m. CDT


It appears that Tony Blair may get his comeuppance for supporting the immoral and unnecessary war after all.

Americans may not give a damn that their leaders lied to them -- but the Brits apparently do.

Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CDT

GET THIS 05-28-03

Here's a quote supposedly by W that's in this new movie:

"I won't be seeking a declaration of war. With a shadowy enemy, specificity makes that problematic."
Oh yeah. Our president who can't pronounce"nuclear" properly said that out loud.

Sure. You bet.

Posted by Tom at 10:33 p.m. CDT

THE POLL NEWS... 05-28-03

is not good for W either. Read Ruy Teixeira's latest Public Opinion Watch for the latest.

Ruy's been right about darn near everything for several months now -- even predicting the (very short) timing of W's war spike in popularity. It's all gone now folks -- he's back to his pre-war level of popularity.

Nowhere else to go but down from here.

Posted by Tom at 8:53 p.m. CDT


Boy, now this isn't good.

How about a genuine dubya-dip recession folks?

Perhaps that's the missing ingredient to the perfect political storm for W?

Only time will tell.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 2:01 p.m. CDT

NICE SHOT, WAPO 05-28-03

The WaPo gets a good shot in on John Lott today. Tim Lambert, as usual, has all the updates on the Lott scandal today.

BTW, why doesn't anyone in the print media ever credit the person who actually uncovered Mary Rosh, Julian Sanchez? Would it hurt any of these folks to, dare I say, be accurate in their reporting?

It's like the blogosphere doesn't count to these journalistic snobs, eh?

Posted by Tom at 1:27 p.m. CDT


Every time Rumsfeld opens his mouth he digs the hole deeper for the administration, doesn't he?

Now Rumsfeld suggests that Iraq may have destroyed their WMDs before the war after all. (Rummy blithefully ignores that, if this is the case, it therefore makes the war unwarranted, W, Cheney, Powell and Rummy liars, and the rest of the world right and us wrong, but I digress.)

Oh yeah, and on a related note, who gives a damn about police-state-style secret deportations? The Supreme Court sure as hell doesn't. So much for civil liberties for aliens, huh? I mean, heck, you and I don't have them anymore, so why should anyone else?

History will not be kind to these guys folks. And, hopefully, the pitiful economy -- unhelped by W's rich-get-richer tax schemes -- and the federal deficit that is spiraling out of control very well may lead to the end of this national nightmare in a little over a year and a half.

I can always hope, can't I?

If the"perfect political storm" is gathering to take down W, you can rest assured these guys won't go down without a fearful fight. With no other card to play than fear in the campaign next year, I expect W and the boys to plumb the depths for their campaign rhetoric.

Using their disgraceful campaign for the midterms as a guide, I expect them to question the patriotism of every Democrat in America by November of 2004, all the while wrapping themselves obscenely in the flag of 9/11. I also don't put it past W and the boys to start a war with Syria or Iran just before the election in order to save themselves politically.

Regardless, it will be quite a fearsome spectacle folks. In the presidential campaign in 2000 and in the midterms, these folks proved they will say or do anything to win an election.

The political end for W, if it comes in 2004, will be nothing short of spectacular.

Posted by Tom at 10:43 a.m. CDT


Well the videotape didn't produce Jim Ellis but it did produce the Governor and his homeland defense coordinator heavily involved in the search for absconded Democrats.

Why didn't Perry and Kimbrough fess up before now? Why did they have to be fingered on the tape?

This certainly makes that earlier six-hour gap in the tape a little more suspicious, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 8:52 a.m. CDT


Kevin Drum points us to this excellent post by Invisible Adjunct (just added to the blogroll by the way). The post talks about a subject that is near and dear to my heart -- the large gap between what historians want to write about and what normal folks want to read about. As someone who wrote a book that had a final chapter that touched on this subject (and was roundly bitched out in a couple of historical journals for what I said there), I think this is an important subject.

However, the fun part of the post is actually the last part:

All of this by way of a lengthy apology for my Time Travel Fantasy Game:

If you could travel back to any time and place of your choosing, where would you go and with whom would you like to have dinner?
If I were a professional historian, I suppose I would blush with shame to acknowledge any interest in such a trifle.
Not at all. I love such scenarios!

Here's my answer -- and it is probably shaped by current events quite a bit:

Place: Washington, D.C.
Time: January 1848
Person to meet for dinner: the newly-elected freshman congressman from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln

Why?: Lincoln spent the entire Mexican War excoriating President Polk for his immoral war with Mexico that Polk, Lincoln believed, had gotten support from the public for by swearing to all manner of lies and half-truths.

I'd like to talk to Lincoln about what was wrong with the ongoing war and about the proper place of dissent in America. I'd especially love to hear him tell me more about his recently-introduced"Spot Resolutions" that challenged the president to locate the precise"spot" in the nation where"American blood had been shed on American soil."

After that I probably have a list of fifty other places I'd love to go and people I'd love to meet if I could. However, that's number one for me right now.

As I said, I suspect my answer is probably shaped by current events.

Posted by Tom at 10:32 p.m. CDT


Hesiod pointed out in a post this morning that we support Uzbekistan with millions of taxpayer dollars because they are an ally in the"war on terrah" (they were even part of the coalition of the bribed if you recall) and their leader is an absolute monster. In fact, he has this, ugh, nasty habit of boiling his political opponents alive.

Hey, Glenn, other righty warbloggers, where's the outrage? Once it became clear that W and the boys were lying to us about WMDs you guys started telling us we were really in this war to remove Saddam's brutal regime. Therefore, I assume you guys will want us to send our forces into Uzbekistan immediately, right?

You certainly wouldn't want to be, in Atrios's words,"objectively pro-boiling" right?

Posted by Tom at 6:08 p.m. CDT


And, as Tim Lambert makes clear, in his very first blog entry Lott makes several basic factual errors about a single newspaper story and that quite a few of these same errors are contained in his latest book as well. Suspiciously, said factual errors make this story more easily fit Lott's"rabidly" pro-gun agenda.

Pathetic, eh?

Posted by Tom at 1:48 p.m. CDT

MORAT GETS IT... 05-27-03

just right:

All in all, it's the worst of the anti-war crowd's fears. Most of us didn't oppose the war out of pure pacifism, or out of any thought we might be defeated (although without the bribing of key officials, our victory would have cost more lives), but because we fully expected the Bush administration to screw up the aftermath.

And they have. Last I checked, there was no electricity and no water in Baghdad. Mosul is still almost a war zone. We had no plan for delivering aid, didn't bother to prevent the looting of key industries, had no plan for policing the region, for restoring services, for anything. Ethnic tensions are putting huge strains on the region, and we have no plan to deal with that either.

It was a delicate act to pull off, 'liberating' a country when most of the world -- and many of your own citizens -- suspected your motives. We failed. We worse than failed, we never even tried. Bush can make all the speeches he wants, but it boils down (especially to the Iraqis) to actions. And by our actions so far, we're doomed to fail.

Welcome to the Occupation.

That certainly sums up the way I feel about it all. I've been warning about the administration having no post-war plan since my very first post last August if you recall.

Posted by Tom at 1:07 p.m. CDT


the potential"information conduit" for DeLay to pass on information to Tom Craddick -- a fellow named Jim Ellis, a longtime DeLay aide who is now in charge of DeLay's PAC. Ellis is now admitting to the San Antonio Excess-News er, Express-News that he" could very likely have been" close to the DPS's" command center" that was set up next door to Craddick's office. DeLay has admitted he passed on information about the aircraft's whereabouts through Craddick.

Furthermore, the grand jury that had been investigating the destruction of DPS records is now investigating all of this as well.

This really is getting interesting, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 12:50 p.m. CDT


Don't you think tax cheat firmsshouldn't be getting government contracts? Call me crazy but companies that are so low on the ethical scale that they won't even pay taxes to the country to whom they owe their success shouldn't get one dollar from the government -- in my opinion of course.

And you'll notice in the article, by the way, that Republican leaders keep removing such prohibitions from various bills -- so they actually support these cheats!

Posted by Tom at 11:32 a.m. CDT


This is hilarious:

Texas state police officials on Monday blamed a faulty duplication machine for a five-hour gap in a Capitol security tape that was given to a House committee investigating how authorities handled the Democratic walkout.

"I don't know if people are trying to run out the clock so we're not in town any more or if it's just incompetence. Either one is bothersome," said Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee.

Bailey's committee is looking into how the Texas Department of Public Safety coordinated its search for 55 missing legislators on May 12, whether anyone associated with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped direct the search and why DPS officials ordered some records on the issue destroyed on May 14.

As part of the probe, Bailey had asked DPS to turn over Capitol security tapes for the hallway outside of House Speaker Tom Craddick's office. A DPS command post was set up May 12 in Craddick's reception room, and Bailey said he wants to know who went in and out of that room.

Bailey said the DPS provided his staff with copies of the security tapes late Friday. As the staff watched them over the weekend, the entire week was available except for the afternoon of May 12. He said the tape stopped at 12:47 p.m. and did not begin again until 6 p.m.

"It's odd that it was the day and time that we wanted," Bailey said."It's fine all week, except for that one period."

DPS officials scrambled to make a new copy of the May 12 afternoon tape, which was given to the lawmaker Monday evening.

"It's a simple malfunction," said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger."They're copying hours and hours of tape. They just didn't notice some was missing."

Right. I'm sure that's it.

[Link via Atrios and Off the Kuff]

Posted by Tom at 10:37 a.m. CDT

GO READ 05-27-03

Phil Carpenter too.

Posted by Tom at 10:01 a.m. CDT


Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 8:59 a.m. CDT


Here are my plans for the next few days:

This week I'll be blogging as usual through Thursday night. However, on Friday I'm headed to the home of Tom Craddick and Governor Rick"Goodhair" Perry, Austin, Texas. Maybe something interesting will be going on there by then. I'll be in Austin until Sunday, June 1st. I'll be staying with a couple of friends and may or may not be able to blog from there. We shall see.

On Sunday, a friend will be driving me to my alma mater, Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas to be a reader of Advanced Placement U.S. history exams. I'm likely to be able to blog from good old T.U. and will probably blog a fair amount from there -- at least two or three times per day. We'll see of course.

Other than the seven hours per day I'll be grading exams, I plan on swimming a lot in the university pool and having a good time visiting friends, so don't look for any ten post days or anything from there. I plan on visiting with Sean-Paul of the Agonist (who lives in S.A.) and perhaps even Chuck Kuffner of Off the Kuff (who lives in Houston) while I'm there. Any other Texas bloggers who would like to come to S.A. and visit, let me know.

I'll be in S.A. until June 9, when I'll be flying home and blogging will return absolutely to normal on about June 10th.

Anyway, this seemed like as good as good a time as any to update you on the blogging schedule for the next couple of weeks.

I am sorry there was another technical screw-up today (apparently by me) that resulted in, among other things, the deletion of the comment boards yet again -- just as it was getting interesting of course.

BTW, I've now added Quaker in a Basement to the blogroll. It's an oversight on my part that I haven't done so yet.

Posted by Tom at 7:37 p.m. CDT


says. He's dead-on IMHO.

The story here isn't about an intelligence failure, it's about an administration that willfully ignored what they were being told and even trotted out evidence that the intelligence agencies knew was false to back up the arguments for the war they wanted.

In short, it's not the intelligence folks who lied to the administration, the intelligence community has been proven absolutely correct -- there wasn't much, if anything, in the way of WMDs in Iraq. It's the administration that lied, especially the handpicked evidence-creators in the Office of Special Plans (for war with Iraq).

Posted by Tom at 4:45 p.m. CDT


Steve Gilliard gives you some sense of the true"moral character" of Rudy Giuliani. But, since he's a Republican, the SCLM gives him a pass on these rather major character flaws.

In fact, folks Rudy is much more of a"sexual predator" than Bill Clinton could ever hope to be.

My understanding is that Rudy's such a womanizer that he knows he never can run for office again. Not that Rudy needs to now that he's made his fortune off the victims of 9/11 anyway.

However, I'm sure some morally upright Republican will give him some cushy job with a six figure income any day now.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 1:31 p.m. CDT

ALL IS OKAY NOW 05-26-03

Everything is okay now. You can resume your normal blog-reading now folks. I don't know what happened but it's been more or less repaired.

Posted by Tom at 12:48 p.m. CDT


but the file for my blog has vanished. I have just moved over to this new location for now. I really can't tell you what happened. I didn't screw it up this time. It's normally a mistake that I've made but it isn't this time.


Posted by Tom at 12:22 p.m. CDT


My Daily Billboard post here is about the mess in Texas.

Posted by Tom at 12:09 p.m. CDT

ASU BACKS OFF 05-25-03

A short while ago, I received this e-mail from David Truncellito, the philosophy prof at Arkansas State who was getting, uh, messed over by his administration (I posted about it here):

The attached editorial appeared in today's issue of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our statewide newspaper. (Since the D-G's online edition is only available to subscribers, Laura and I typed up the text of the article.) Although it ran as an unsigned editorial, I'm told that it was written by Paul Greenberg, their editorial page editor and a Pulitzer Prize winner. It's the best piece I've seen yet about this whole mess; and, as the lead ediorial in the Sunday paper, it meansl ots more bad publicity for ASU's administration. (The D-G has the second-biggest Sunday circulation, relative to population, in the country. I also know that it's read beyond Arkansas' borders, since a history professor in St. Louis mentioned me in his blog (!) not long ago.) [Okay, I don't live in St. Louis! I live in the little town of Maryville in Northwest Missouri!]

(FYI: Winfred Thompson tried to make significant negative changes to the tenure system at UCA. Mark Pryor is now a US Senator. Fulbright, of course, is the namesake of the Fulbright Scholarships.) [I'm not sure you could put a negative enough spin on Win Thompson's time at UCA, an excellent school that severely suffered from the experience of having him as president.]

Here's the aforementioned Paul Greenberg editorial:

ASU succeeds UCA As State Embarrassment No. 1

Now that Winfred Thompson has left the presidency of the University of Central Arkansas and is no longer in a position to make the lives of its faculty a Living Hell, the most embarrassing administration in the state’s duplicative, disorganized, and sprawling system of higher education is… (the envelope, please)… by popular and surely unanimous agreement… the one headed by … LES WYATT! His administration of Arkansas State University takes this booby prize hands, feet and legs down. Nobody even comes close.

President Wyatt’s games with the athletic budget were only the beginning. At one point, his plan to shift funds from the university’s reserves to cover the shortfall in its athletic budgets was deemed illegal by the state’s attorney general – Mark Pryor at the time.

In its latest caper, ASU's administration found a way to fire an untenured professor of philosophy. It seems this member of the faculty has been pointing out problems with the university's spending practices – and quite a few others. Worse, he was doing it in the best Socratic fashion. The professor's name is David Truncellito, and he is one of those uppity types with a Yale degree. And he's been performing the gadfly function at ASU with predictable results. Not long ago, he was handed the modern university's equivalent of a cup of hemlock: he was fired.

On what grounds? That's the bureaucratic beauty of it. The official reason had nothing to do with his criticism of the administration. Instead, he's being let go because he put a notice on an ASU-based Web site advertising his availability should anybody need some ancient Chinese manuscripts translated. For this cardinal crime – using university property to further his own commercial interests! – he's been let go. Socrates would understand what's going on; it's an old, old game.

Never mind that, according to the professor, other and presumably more pliant members of the faculty do much the same. The professor notes that one art teacher sells his work over the Internet, economics professors offer their consulting services on-line, and one staffer used to sell bras via an Internet link with an ASU-connected Web site. ("People who desire to enhance their beauty have reason to contact me.") That little promo has since been removed on the advice of an attorney, though we ourselves rather admire the understated, almost Victorian formality of the language – certainly compared with other lingerie ads we've seen (and enjoyed). In comparison, this modest proposal sounds like something out of Jane Austen.

What's going on here isn't hard to understand. ASU's grievance committee did. It concluded earlier this month the professor's dismissal was unwarranted, and that he'd violated no university policy, particularly because that policy is stated so ambiguously in the faculty handbook.

The grievance committee also noted that the professor was given no warning before being fired."Instead, he received the most severe form of punishment when his employment was terminated without due process." The committee's conclusion:"Truncellito's punishment could appear to be selective." You don't say. We rather admire the grievance committee's talent for understatement, too.

After the committee was heard from, and ASU's administration drew the usual bad publicity, the administration decided to back off from its decision – but no reverse it. It rehired the professor for the next school year, but is planning to drop him the year after that, when it can hope things will have cooled down and folks won't be paying as much attention. But an injustice delayed is still an injustice. This one also looks like a way to stifle criticism and intimidate others on campus.

Our conclusion: it's not David Truncellito's record that deserves scrutiny at this point but the leadership of President Les Wyatt and his vice-president for academic affairs, Rick McDaniel. Because it looks as if ASU is headed for the same kind of embarrassing mess that Winfred Thompson's too long reign left behind at UCA.

With the inauguration of gold ol' Lu Hardin as UCA's new president and cleaner-upper, and after a lot of effort on the part of some good people on campus, that state university may finally get out from under the censure of the American Association of University Professors – even while another Arkansas school could be inviting it.

P.S. Whatever happened to Winfred Thompson, anyway? We hear he's gone from UCA to become president of a university in the United Arab Emirates – J. William Fulbright's old stomping grounds. How appropriate. At last Win Thompson has found the kind o society into which his administrative ways should fit perfectly: a feudal monarchy.

In short, ASU has decided to fire this guy next year, hoping the political heat has disappeared by then. We'll see, won't we?

I, for one, promise to be writing about this about a year from now. I won't forget.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 p.m. CDT


I'm not sure that I'm opposed to this since we were already engaged in fighting this immoral and unnecessary (and apparently chaos-inducing) war but this story certainly pokes one helluva hole into the myth of W's supposedly wonderful wartime"leadership," doesn't it?

Is this story true?

If bribery really won this war, it raises all sorts of questions about whether the war was really necessary in the first place, doesn't it?

I mean, heck, why not just bribe these people in the first place -- and skip the war part?

Posted by Tom at 3:04 p.m. CDT

HERE'S YOUR... 05-25-03

Indy 500 preview from the Indy Star. I'm probably going to miss the first hour of the race. Bummer.

That's probably it for me today. We'll see.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 a.m. CDT


I had always thought so, but here's my confirmation.

BTW, isn't it entertaining when you catch Wolfowitz lying? Get this little gem:

In response to senators citing media reports describing the slow pace of reconstruction and ongoing chaotic violence, Wolfowitz appeared to both agree and disagree. “As press accounts continue to report what is wrong, I would say, we don’t want less of these reports, we want more — because we are eager to see revelations in the press about what needs our attention,” he said.

But later, he said that “much of what I read on this subject suggests a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the security problem in Iraq, and in particular, a failure to appreciate that a regime which had tens of thousands of thugs and war criminals on its payroll does not disappear overnight.”

The administration’s effort to acknowledge the ongoing violence, but blame it on Hussein holdouts, has sometimes appeared at odds with military assessments. Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, who commands the 20,000 troops of the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, said last week that “about 90 percent” of the security problem “is common criminals — the looters, the car thefts, attempted bank robberies, et cetera — and only about 10 percent . . . is a holdover from the previous regime.”

Posted by Tom at 1:26 p.m. CDT


You should read Paul Krugman's excellent primer in today's NYT on the"liquidity trap" our economy may be facing through W's foolish fiscal and economic policy.

This is a must-read. Krugman's been right about darn near everything for the last several years.

If he's worried, I'm worried.

Posted by Tom at 11:22 a.m. CDT

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP 05-24-03

Tom DeLay's nose is growing. Josh Marshall, as usual, has all the details.

DeLay has begun to tell lies to try to cover himself. And his buddy in the legislature, Speaker Tom Craddick, is saying he"doesn't remember any details at all about" the important day in question. Ah, isn't that a bit suspicious?

This is looking quite interesting now, isn't it?

I'm also with Atrios on this, can you imagine the feeding frenzy we'd be witnessing if the party affiliations were reversed?

Oh, press corps, press corps, where art thou press corps?

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CDT


Here's a good column by Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun-Times. Greeley wonders aloud, as I have, what the president is hiding in obstructing an investigation into 9/11 and the release of a completed congressional report on the matter.

Molly Ivins's column about the mess that is W's Iraq is quite good as well.

Posted by Tom at 10:44 a.m. CDT


as 5-10,000 noncombatants (innocent civilians) were killed in IraqWar Part II.

Yet another lie exposed -- the claim by many in the administration that our weapons were"surgical" in their precision.

Of course, we all knew that line was b.s. when we first heard it from Rummy, didn't we?

Posted by Tom at 8:48 p.m. CDT


than John Lott writing an op-ed piece criticizing the New York Times for a"pattern of deceit?"

Tim Lambert has further details on the Lott scandal today, including revelations that Lott is peddling stories he knows to be false in his new book.

I think I'm detecting a"pattern of deceit," how about you?

Posted by Tom at 12:59 p.m. CDT

THANKS AGAIN! 05-23-03

A short while ago, I had my 220,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It's been about a week since I had my 210,000th visitor. I've also had almost 320,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter last September.

I always can't help but remember that, when I started this blog, it took me three months to get 10,000 visitors. Now I'm averaging about that many per week!

As always folks, I really appreciate your visiting this blog. I hope I continue to give you a reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 11:53 a.m. CDT


Josh Marshall has got an excellent update post on the Texas mess today.

Josh suggests that the"potentially criminal investigation" is apparently focusing on a certain Houston ex-exterminator.

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CDT


Boy, I think it's safe to say that Lugar thinks we've screwed up in Iraq:

THE most senior Republican authority on foreign relations in Congress has warned President Bush that the United States is on the brink of catastrophe in Iraq. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Washington was in danger of creating “an incubator for terrorist cells and activity” unless it increased the scope and cost of its reconstruction efforts. He said that more troops, billions more dollars and a longer commitment were needed if the US were not to throw away the peace.

Mr Lugar’s warning came as it emerged that the CIA has launched a review of its pre-war intelligence on Iraq to check if the US exaggerated the threats posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The review is intended to determine if the Pentagon manipulated the assessment of intelligence material for political ends.

Democrats have begun to say that the US is in danger of jeopardising the success of the military action in Iraq, but Mr Lugar is by far the most senior Republican to break ranks with the White House over the issue. Mr Lugar, a moderate who expressed initial reservations about the war, said that the Govevrnment’s planning for post-war Iraq had clearly been inadequate.

“I am concerned that the Bush Administration and Congress have not yet faced up to the true size of the task that lies ahead, or prepared the American people for it,” he said, writing in The Washington Post. Mr Bush should state clearly “that we are engaged in ‘nation-building’,” he said, a statement that would require the President to swallow one of his tenets of the 2000 election campaign.

Speaking derisively of President Clinton’s foreign policy, Mr Bush said it was not the role of US troops to nation-build.

Mr Lugar also took a swipe at Mr Bush’s victory speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln earlier this month, delivered under a banner that read: “Mission Accomplished”. He said: “President Bush should make clear to one and all that he will declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq not on the basis of our military victory or the date of our withdrawal, but on what kind of country we leave behind.”

I've always had a great deal of respect for Lugar. He knows what he's talking about. It took a great deal of courage to do this.

Do you think the know-it-alls in the White House will listen?

Update:Here's the editorial in the WaPo.

Posted by Tom at 10:33 a.m. CDT

I'M HOLDING STEADY... 05-23-03

in the lower 80s of the Blogosphere ecosystem which now consists of 2,349 blogs. I guess I shouldn't complain since this blog has only existed for a little more than nine months.

I don't put much stock in these sorts of things but what the hell I'm doing in front of my superiors like Mark Kleiman, WampumBlog, and Road to Surfdom (and even MSGOP-suported blogger Mickey Kaus) in the ecosystem I don't know.

It must be a glitch in the system.

Posted by Tom at 1:55 a.m. CDT


Get this!

According to this fellow, what I told my son was"beyond rational behavior!"

Ah, who is living in a parallel universe? Me or the guy who supports an immoral and unnecessary war that was sold to the public with lies?

Let's see, what's worse, a blowjob or two or the unnecessary deaths of thousands of civilians?

I'll freely let my readers decide the answer to that question!

Posted by Tom at 10:03 p.m. CDT


this interview with Sidney Blumenthal by Buzzflash.

Here's just a bit of it:

BUZZFLASH: In chapter 11 --"In Starr's Chamber" -- of your book The Clinton Wars, you mention that when you were subpoenaed by Ken Starr, he, in essence, was invoking a legal doctrine that was similar to the infamous Sedition Act. What did you mean by that?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Ken Starr subpoenaed me not because he believed or knew that I had any knowledge whatsoever relevant to the matter he was investigating about Monica Lewinsky. I'd never met Monica Lewinsky. As far as I know, I've never been in the same physical space as her. He subpoenaed me because he was trying to make an example of me, to intimidate others to stop criticizing him.

I had many friends in the press corps, and I was talking to them about the punitive, unconstitutional and abusive partisan investigation that he was running. And I also knew that he had colluded with the right-wing lawyers -- the so-called elves -- around the Paula Jones case, and that there was, in fact, if not vast, a right-wing conspiracy. And that he had misled Attorney General Reno in getting an expansion of the probe. How did I know this? I knew it from David Brock, who was a former right-wing hit man who had turned against the right and still had contacts, and was telling me, in the White House, as an assistant to the President and senior adviser, all of his information.

By the end, really, of the first day that the scandal broke in the Washington Post, January 21, 1998, I knew from my conversations with Brock -- and then with another source that I developed named Bud Lemley, who was the financial manager for the American Spectator and had all their internal records on the Arkansas Project -- pretty much everything that they were doing and that was later revealed. And I was doing my best to make sure that that was reported by the press, and they were beginning to do it. Joe Conason, for example, in The New York Observer, broke the story on the Arkansas Project soon. And The New York Times ran a story.

BUZZFLASH: Let me get back to the Sedition Act. You say that Starr was trying to intimidate you.

BLUMENTHAL: Starr decided to indict me. Control over the press was essential to his investigation because it was a political operation he was illegally leaking to the press. It's illegal under the Code of Federal Prosecutors to give to the press information that has been or might be presented to the grand jury. He was using that sort of information, or what he purported to be that information, to mesmerize the press into publishing articles that were driving the Clinton White House to the wall and really trying to force the President to resign.

BUZZFLASH: And this was illegal?

BLUMENTHAL: This was absolutely illegal, and there was a case against it, of which I was one of three plaintiffs with Bruce Lindsey, who was deputy legal counsel, and the President. We filed a case and it went through many convoluted iterations in the courts about Starr's leaks. And in the end, the federal judge's ruling that Starr had leaked, and was in contempt of court, stands today. And that is the resolution of the whole matter, although no charges were ever brought against him. But it is a fact that that's what stands in history.

You really should read this. I think it's safe to say Starr isn't going to like the way that historians dispose, er, portray him.

Posted by Tom at 9:48 p.m. CDT


Like Josh Marshall, Morat over at Skeptical Notion is also on the trail of the cover-up down in Texas. He's got several good posts up. Go read them.

Posted by Tom at 7:02 p.m. CDT


for why the DPS destroyed those records are becoming quite hilarious -- and awfully weak. Josh Marshall, as usual, has the story. Here's a bit of it but you should read the whole thing:

Now, clearly, the ridiculousness is flying pretty fast and furious here. So let's take a moment to review. The DPS appears to have violated Texas state law by destroying the records. To justify this, they point to a federal regulation which a legal expert says is plainly inapplicable. And the very regulation they're trying to hang their hat on seems to bar the original conduct itself.

So how does the DPS argue it's way out of this? Well, you can't say they aren't creative. According to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, it was a criminal investigation. So they were entitled to conduct it. But only for a while! When they discovered that the legislators were out of state and couldn't be arrested, then it stopped being a criminal investigation. As Vinger told the Austin American-Statesman,"That's when this (federal code) kicked in, because clearly we had records now that were of a noncriminal variety."

This stuff pretty much defies editorial humor since it's difficult to find an analogy more ridiculous and bamboozliferous than the actual argument they're making. Texas Governor Rick Perry disagrees. His spokesperson says he accepts the DPS's explanation.

Ah, Governor Goodhair buys it. That's a shock, isn't it?

Update: Events are moving quickly on this story folks. According to this Houston Chronicle story [via Off the Kuff], Tom Ridge has now said that there is now a"potentially criminal investigation" into the Texas search for Democratic legislators.

Hmmm. Interesting, huh?

I'm with Chuck. What the Republicans in Texas did was"Stupid, stupid, stupid."

Posted by Tom at 3:42 p.m. CDT


You know, I honestly didn't know God cared one way or the other about unprecedented midterm gerrymandering, did you?

Posted by Tom at 10:01 a.m. CDT

GREAT HORSE 05-22-03

Go read it.

Among other things today, they pick apart Isikoff's review of The Clinton Wars.

Posted by Tom at 9:48 a.m. CDT


W's in trouble folks.

What else can you say about a 9 point drop in a month?

And there's no economic relief in sight.

I really don't know any other way to say this: I told you so.

Posted by Tom at 1:27 a.m. CDT


Every time I'm forced to deal with this bizarre period in our history I can't help but remember all of the folks at the time who said"What will we tell the children?" (BTW, of the folks who said this on the television back in 1998 and 1999, how many of them are now divorced -- including some of the major players in the Republican Party? Quite a large number I'd wager.)

I don't know about you but I can tell you that it was a hell of a lot easier to explain Clinton's moral lapse (he didn't leave his wife I'll remind you) to my children than the reasons behind the war in Iraq. I was astonished at how many parents in my eight-year-old son's class copped out and told their kids we were invading Iraq for some sort of good reason.

In a few years when they're old enough to read history books, I can't help but wonder what these kids are going to think about this astonishing lie told to them by their parents.

My son was four years old when the Clinton scandals broke. One afternoon, he wanted to know what his parents and other people were talking about involving the president. I told him that the president wasn't faithful to his wife and that it was a terrible, awful thing. However, it had nothing to do with the president's ability to be president, just like it has nothing to do with anyone else holding their job.

My son and I have since had many discussions about it. He is capable of understanding the truth and I suspect most children are capable of understanding it as well. In this world, sadly enough, children see this sort of thing around them all the time.

Would that the same were true about unnecessary and immoral wars.

Well, come to think of it, I guess that sort of thing is commonplace nowadays.

Posted by Tom at 11:39 p.m. CDT


Atrios points us to Joe Conason's response to Isikoff's outrageous review of Blumenthal's book (blogged about briefly by me here).

I know, I know that the AmEx ad is irritating but just wait for it to get finished.

This is worth your time.

Don't you get the sense that Isikoff already understands that Whitewater will only be a minor anecdote vastly overshadowed by W's unparalleled blundering on all fronts?

Isikoff is worried about how this book will tarnish his"legacy." Historians will identify him as one of the key perpetrators in the media of this ridiculous pseudo-scandal.

All I can say is Mikey, it ain't gonna be pretty budd