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Cape Cod, May 2002

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Regime Change Starts At Home

What did you do Today to help restore Democracy to the United States?

Favorite Quotes

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Teddy Roosevelt [1918]

"The difference between rape and seduction lies entirely in the presentation."

Paul Helgesen [2003]

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Read "Economic Roulette"
By Robert Kuttner

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In This Month's Issue:
Do the Democrats have a Prayer

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This blog has moved. All future entries will be found here. Please bookmark the new URL.

(February 9, 2004 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

Take the Good with the bad.

The elusive cell phone gun splashes into the news again. The story [scroll down to September 1, 2001 entry] first appeared in 2001 when scattered reports in Europe mentioned the occasional entry of this handy-dandy device favored by gun runners, drug dealers and other nefarious characters. Apparently manufactured in Bulgaria, and carrying the tell-tale MOKTEL brand name, the gun appears to be capable of firing four quick shots, by dialing 4-5-6-7. Accuracy should be a problem, but from close range (a foot or so), the gun apparently can be fairly lethal, considering it is firing 'long' .22 caliber bullets.

Given the fact that this type of weapon was known - and used - by the underworld in September of 2001, one has to wonder if perhaps the 18 emissaries from our good ally, Saudi Arabia, came to this country armed with something a little more lethal than box cutters.

Some updated political messages - this one brings us to the new commercial climate surrounding the Homeland Defense Department, and we also managed to snag a copy of the penultimate copy of the President's State of the Union Message, before Karl Rove did some major redacting. Interesting read.

(December 9, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

Let Google Entertain You - type "miserable failure" into Google and check out its top choice. Then perform a search for those two words within the text of the top-linked website - you will be dumbfounded to realize Gephart's catchy phrase is not part of the official text. Does Google have the powers of a ouija board?? Or is there more to it??

(October 27, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

It's All Because of the Schools

The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that's available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become.

GW Bush, October 27, 2003 -- the day after the bombing of the Al Rashid Hotel, and the same day as the multiple car bomb attacks in Baghdad.

My advice: Either go back to a full-scale war against the insurgents, or stop opening new schools, since the retribution for doing so is unacceptably high, in terms of American soldier and Iraqi civilian lives.

Check out our latest Blog: A Nation Divided .

(September 23, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

New Yorkers Speak Out - Loud and Clear.

According to a Marist poll released today, 48% of New Yorkers said they definitely plan to vote against Bush in 2004, including 23% of Republicans, 68% of Democrats, and 34% of independent voters.

The poll also revealed that President Bush's approval rating has dropped to 44% among New York State's registered voters, a 14% decline from April 2003 and a 35% drop from December 2001. Among New Yorkers polled, 55% said they do not rate Bush's job performance positively.

When it comes to the economy, 61% of New Yorkers polled disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy, while a mere 36% of New Yorkers approve. This number is significant, because 54 percent of New Yorkers said they are more concerned about the economy and jobs than the war on terrorism.

Of those polled, 52 percent of New Yorkers said they disapproved of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq.

The Marist telephone poll of 912 registered voters was conducted Sept. 15-18 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Is that a French beret Bush is wearing as he and his lovely lady hop on Marine I on their way to New York City, for a luncheon consisting of crow, French Fries, and a hearty helping of humble pie, at the famous international restaurant known, for short, as the 'UN'??

President George W. Bush with first lady Laura Bush, waves at the press from beneath an umbrella on the South Lawn of the White House, September 23, 2003. Bush's approval rating dropped to the lowest level of his presidency according to a poll released on September 22, which shows him running slightly behind Democratic presidential candidate retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Bush's job approval rating slipped to 50 percent in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of more than 1,000 Americans -- down from 60 percent in August and 71 percent in March. (William Philpott/Reuters)

UPDATE - apparently not.

(September 17, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

George Bush's view of the world.

The world consists of the US of A, England, and a whole bunch of small, insignificant countries, most of them located abroad, where they speak in foreign tongues and expect you to understand their tribal gibberish.

We, the United States of Amurrica, are at the center of the world, and destined to rule, own or exploit the entire globe - because we are simply a better quality person than foreigners who don't speak English, don't bathe, and aren't even Christians, for chrissake. I, for one, have been anointed by God to rule the world and convert all Heathens to our heavenly brand of faith-based solutions to all kinds of problems.

The US is inhabited by 12,000,000 christian soldiers, 270,000,000 lemmings and 14,000,000 unregistered alien farm workers and domestics.

The rules - which we of course intend to change, once we consolidate our power, at present permits christian soldiers, lemmings, but not illegal immigrants, to vote. Luckily, lemmings are very malleable, and we can keep any upstarts in check by manipulation of their herd instinct through administering a daily dose of terror fright. We have a set of code words, subliminally dosaged through our fully-controlled, compliant media outlets, like terrorist attack, regime, gassing his own people, mass graves, yellow, and red. Every so often, we have to update the code words as they tend to lose their potency. In the past two years, we have used such fright-inducing words as 'Osama Bin Laden' Saddam Hussein, WMD, and John Ashcroft - but the lemmings over time developed immunity to them.

Because the christian soldiers (who own 84% of the wealth in our country and make up the vast majority of the government and corporate execs) are outnumbered by the general lemming population, but nonetheless remain in majority where it matters, there is always this untidy business about the silly four-year election cycle.

Every four years, I, the president, and my coterie of christian soldiers, must devote several months to large-scale manipulation of the lemmings so that the voting pattern by these pitiful hordes of lemmings, can be assured of continuing the christian soldier coalition in power.

This four-year cycle of grovelling costs enormous amounts of money, and is a complete waste of time and resources, but for the time being, it is a necessary evil.

Luckily, the money is never a problem - the christian soldiers holding corporate bigwig jobs gladly furnish us what is necessary. My Vice President simply sells regulatory change chits on behalf of my government, and there is never a shortage of fellow christian soldier corporate execs willing to fork over a few hundred thousand dollars for legislative accommodation chits which translate to millions of dollars of profits for their respective corporations, and similar outsized performance bonuses for themselves.

But nonetheless, there is a seamy side to the corporate bribes we collect.

Some of our large [wink] 'contributors' are just unrealistic in their expectations of what constitutes appropriate payback. If we could simply kill off the lemmings, strip them of their voting rights, or send them all off to war someplace, that would be an excellent solution, but we do need them, in basic human quantities, to man Walmart, Costco, and Lord & Taylor to enusre that the shelves of these fine merchandizers are stocked, and that there are cashiers and delivery boys on hand to continue unabated the luxurious [but absolutely justified] lifestyles which we chosen few have come to enjoy.

But while we must keep all of the lemmings on hand for life-style support, we also have to avert an unfriendly uprising amongst them. So there are limits to what we can get away with, in terms of our envelopment of their pitiful lives in such miseries of pollution, high gasoline prices, exploitation of the environment, drilling in the national parks (the lemmings just LOVE to go the national parks and gawk at the Grand Canyon), robbing them of overtime pay, national healthcare, prescription drugs, civil liberties, privacy, freedom of reproductive choice and expression, and that whole slew of liberal sludge emanating from our outdated constitution.

Luckily, our biggest scam of them all seems to work very well: Under the guise of letting them have a few bucks back from taxes they paid last year, the lemmings seem perfectly content subsidizing the biggest shift in after-tax wealth out of their miserable class of low and middle-level wage earners into the elevated tiers of the top income producers amongst our fellow christian soldiers.

As for the downside to selling corporate legislative amendment chits, sometimes we simply have to tell our corporate 'sponsors' that it is simply unwholesome to implement some of the things they want in return for their financial 'election support' - or at least we have to tell them we will have to phase in the new regulations they need slowly over time, lest the lemmings rise in revolt or anger.

Our lives would be so much better if we could scoff at all of these financial contributions and instead simply assure ourselves that no matter how the populace feels, we will see to it that our inner circle is maintained in power in perpetuity. THEN, we can treat those of our fellow christian soldiers we no longer really like, as lemmings. That would TRULY transform our society into a nicely tiered, conservatively compassionate democracy.

This vision, of course, will come about following the 2004 election - the first to employ the Federally mandated, software-driven, sole-source supplied, electronic election machines, manufactured by our loyal friends who will bring to the Electoral College a whole new concept behind the presidential election - that of a managed election, with a minimum of feedback-loop adjustment, just to make sure the announced election results appear plausible, but with safeguards built into the system to assure our backers that their dearly purchased chits will not lose their call option by virtue of an unseemly change in administration.

Looking at our country as it will exist beyond 2004:

At the top of our society, we will have empowered christian soldiers, the leaders of our great God-loving nation.

Below us, would be ordinary, loyal, clipped-wing christian soldiers.

Below them, the masses of disenfranchised, terrorized, but orderly lemmings.

At the bottom, the illegals, to take up the jobs even the lemmings refuse, like fighting our wars.

God save this great nation.

George W. Bush

(August 16, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

The Martha Stewart Syndrome Invades the White House

I am taking a deep breath. I try to remain calm. This will only take 20 minutes of my time.

In this post, only, I will try to give a fair and balanced treatment of George W. Bush

Start with the premise that 'He Lied, and People Died' - a much ballyhooed epithet repeated ad nauseam throughout the liberal blogosphere.

In a sense, I agree, but I also try to look realistically at the usefulness of the rhyming jingle. In the balance, are we promoting our own cause. Most liberal bloggers would probably answer in the strident affirmative. "Yes" "Yes" "YES" - the more we repeat this catchy phrase, the more we expose the deceptive, immoral, and dangerous underpinnings of our current president.

Yet, on reflection, isn't this a little bit like crying 'wolf' - shouldn't we be concerned about depreciating the value of the message. After all, what good has it done us to schadenfreud the President's reputation and his penchant for mendacity or poorly backed-up fabrications of facts purported to be, essentially, at one point in time, at least, the currently officially-approved version of Government-issue truth. Other than take personal pleasure in repeating the chant, has it stopped the President [from lying], has it turned world opinion against him [distinct from the mere events, as they evolve, in Iraq, and elsewhere], has it convinced a single Republican voter to change his vote in the upcoming election?

Does, in fact, the President lie?

You and I, common folks, who share middle-class roots, schooling, and parental admonishings, find no difficulty in labeling [many of] the presidential utterings outright lies. And if He were placed before a public tribunal, charged with the offense of 'taking liberties with the truth', I believe most juries of common folk would find Dubya guilty, as charged.

But what about a jury consisting of his peers, exclusively made up of wealthy, patrician white folks?

You will be surprised, or shocked, but the answer here will be different. In case you were not already aware of this, the rich are different.

Here are the rules which apply, say, to Sam Waxal whispering his little secrets into the ears of Martha Stewart, or George Bush telling the Amurrican people that he is going to protect them from evil and make the whole dang country feel more secure:

  • Rules and regulations exist in our land in order to prevent anarchy. Clearly, every citizen must obey by these rules. But let us also define what we mean by citizen. There are 'ordinary citizens' for whom these rules were intended and for whom they are necessary, due to the unruly and inconvenient size of the general populace. Then there is the 'privileged class'. That term implies, implicitly, that rules can and should be circumvented, if done in the interest of the nation at large. After all, we need some flexibility in administering the course only we who are trusted with the management and direction of our nation's policies, can set.

  • Nobody got hurt. Or rather, no one who matters, got hurt. When our regulatory or policy bulldozers clear land for our new initiatives, those made feasible only through labor-subsidized tax cuts, and intended altruistically to foster economic progress for all, projects from which our future generations will suckle, like so many little piglets at the belly of the sow, it is inevitable that collateral damage takes place. But with rampant unemployment among the little people, we are actually doing them a favor if we catch a few of them in the tracks of our capitalist tools and cull the weak from the sordid genetic pool labelled 'labor'.

  • I am merely paying back a favor. You see, in our society, there is an unwritten rule that you share little secrets. Sharing a secret, as you well know, among common folks, is an oxymoron. Those poor slobs juct can't keep it in their pants. They fell compelled to spread the secret amongst everyone of their ilk, and pretty soon it is no longer a secret, but common knowledge - which totally destroys the proprietary value on being clued in to the former secret.

    Us wealthy patriarchs know better, we liberally [excuse the use of this downtrodden term] with our peers, and limit the proliferation in ways which prevent the cheapening of the news. Thus, we reward one another, in a long-honored system of reciprocal favors, and it is truly a win-win situation: We only win, and none of the poor folks lose. So what is the harm.

  • A lie does not have to remain a lie. Suppose you have a slip of the tongue or make a less-than-fully-thought-out utterance which, if exposed to the light of 'strict facts', might prove to be just a tad jaded. Here is all you need to do:

    Repeat the statement, matter-of-factly, and embellished with adjective phrases like "I am confident that...."

    Have your public relations machine issue relentless strings of PR releases reminding public that no untruths were spoken.

    Clue major media sources into the tactic of deep-sixing the original story

    Shun making public statements, yourself, but if caught unaware by pesky reporters, repeat statement "I am confident that....."

    Just in case, make sure there are others who stand in line for falling on the sword

  • Power Outage

    The Top Ten Theories About What Caused the East Coast Power Blackout (Source unknown, sounds like a Letterman list - I received it in an anonymous email)

    I reproduce it here, for the enjoyment of those who haven't seen it before - but I have added the conspiracy theory at the end of it.

    10. Governor Gray Davis wanted to show that California's mess wasn't really his fault: see, there can be blackouts on the East Coast too!

    9. Overstressed computers in West Coast attempting to tabulate all the candidates for California Governor.

    8. Fox News sues Con Edison for trademark infringement for using the word "con."

    7. All innocent persons on death row in Texas prison system electrocuted at once.

    6. Justice Antonin Scalia seeks return to original conditions when Constitution was written.

    5. Department of Homeland Security seeks to confuse terrorists by hiding location of New York City.

    4. Liberal paranoia comes true as country is returned to Dark Ages.

    3. Latest new excuse by Bill Clinton to explain to Hillary why he can't make it home for dinner.

    2. President Bush attempts to divert electricity from middle class to the wealthiest 1 percent.

    1. Osama bin Laden and his compatriots check into a cheap motel in Bloomfield Hills MI and turn up the air conditioning *really* high.


    Conspiracy theory??

    Did you see the map of the affected areas blacked out last week??

    Doesn't it look very much like the electoral map from the 2000 presidential election. Could this be a less than subtle attempt by powerful sources in Washington DC to reach out to the common people with a very persuasive demonstration of proof that they have the power to make life miserable for those of us living in the states that carried Gore in the last election. [HINT: don't vote Democratic in the '04 election].

    In a very serious, somewhat lengthy, but equally compelling, account, Greg Palast, a BBC contributor, writes how the Power outage can be traced to dim bulb in White House.

    On a wholly different subject [but sharing the root evil] here is how President Bush and the Pentagon Support Our Troops

    US Soldiers in Iraq to face paycuts

    Via I know this is probably bad for me

    If anyone wishes to reconcile the relationship between the Administration's high regard for human [military] life (provided it is not an unborn fetus in the womb of a wife of a soldier), and and the rest of the GOP platform issues, read these two blogs:

    Conceptual Guerilla


    The Tremendous Cost of Right-Wing Governance

    When you grow up in a patrician home surrounded by expendable support people like servants, cooks, gardeners and chaufeurs, you are apt to develop a low regard for common folks, unless, like the Rockefellers, your parents show they have 'class' and beat into you the notion that 'little people' are important too.

    Explains a lot. Now I unnerstand Dubya a whole lot better..

    (August 8, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    When Satire Gets Believable

    Follow the links and read the astonishing reaction ["At first, I thought it was a joke"] to a "sickening display of phony-baloney Christianity"

    Then look up the REAL, official-looking Government Site.

    Honest to God, this is where our Government is heading.

    When may we expect the formation of a new Government Agency, entitled "Department of [sanctioned] Religion"??

    More of the same.

    (August 1, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Semantic Evolution of the 'Imminent Threat'

    1. Weapons of Mass Destruction (2002-3 Prewar)
    2. Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs (2003 - Post-War)
    3. Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities (August, 2003)
    4. Weapons of Mass Destruction Intentions (September, 2003)
    5. Weapons of Mass Destruction Aspirations (October, 2003)
    6. Weapons of Mass Destruction Dreams (January, 2004)
    7. Weapons of Mass Destruction Pinings (March, 2004)
    8. WMD Purchases (Spring, 2004)
    9. WMD Strategic Partner (GOP Election campaign slogan, Summer, 2004)
    10. WMD Coalition Member (August 2004)
    11. Iraq the 51st State (GOP Platform Convention speech - September, 2004)

    But Who is Keeping Track?

    Cost of Ongoing
    Iraqi War/Iraq
    Federal Assistance to States
    Change from prior year
    Current Federal Fiscal Year Deficit
    Running Total

    (JavaScript Error)

    (July 16, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    A Difference in Style - and WORLDS apart in Substance.

    The Buck Stops Here.

    President Harry Truman (1945)

    If an Intelligence Agency Head or Cabinet Member of mine committed an indiscretion, I would ball him out, force him to apologize, or fire him, depending on the gravity of his offense. But ultimately, I would accept blame because he works for me, and I hired him. My administration is only as good as the people who have joined my watch.

    [paraphrasing] Harry Truman

    Case closed.

    President G.W. Bush (2003)

    (in the matter of the reference to the bogus intelligence information included in the State of the Union Address)

    I disavow responsibility for any action taken by an Intelligence Agency Head or Cabinet Member - I only appoint them, I do not tell them what to say or do. Trust me, I don't. [I also don't lie]

    When an Intel Agency Head or Member of my Cabinet screws up, his action stands on its own merit. I refuse to take responsibility for any error or indiscretion committed by the Head of any Federal Agency or member of my Cabinet.

    But once he 'fesses up to his own error, I am privileged to announce I have ultimate faith in him, and that closes the matter. It makes us all look invincible. It is a simple matter of reciprocal bootstrap adulation. He certifies I did nothing wrong, by thrusting himself on the sword, as any loyal soldier would - and I parry any criticism of him by asserting my continual confidence in him. It is the ultimate confidence game.

    [paraphrasing] President George W. Bush (2003)

    (July 2, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    The Ultimate Video Arcade Game - Rumsfeld style.

    Few pundits have explored Donald Rumsfeld's trigger envy, his reluctant but realistically necessary ceding of power to his field generals when it comes to the actual delivery of an explosive device into a war zone. As was obvious to the entire nation during the most recent Iraq war, our Secretary of Defense was intimately involved in the selection of targets, their timing, delivery method as well as the strategic remake of our entire Armed Forces; however, politics and safety concerns stood in the way of him actually pulling the trigger. Much to his obvious displeasure.

    Well, that will all change. The Guardian lifted the veil on the Defense Department's version of 'Future Wars and How they are Fought' - set forth in a DARPA Request For Proposal. Pretty scary stuff.

    I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, as Star Wars was formally known. It was a $60 Billion project, subsequently scuttled by Administrations who thought better.

    There are similarities between Reagan's SDI and DARPA's requested weapons delivery system. Both represent absolute realistically projected state-of-the-art capabilities. That is to say, at the time the projects were defined, current technology would not make them feasible, but on the basis of ten-year forward projections, and the anticipated improvements in technology, both projects were implementable within the projected timelines. Both, of course, were (are) projects which boggle the mind as well as any thoughts of running balanced federal budgets.

    There is one HUGE difference, however. Reagan's SDI was a purely defensive project, paranoid as it was, since the Soviet Union, the superpower against whom the shield was designed, already had started to fall apart.

    Contrast that with the offensive characteristics of Rumsfeld's folly, and stop to ponder:

    • While the technological underpinnings of the project indeed are plausible within the timeline, is this type of arcade-game warfare what this Nation (its citizens, as opposed to its wannabe generals) wants??

    • With the ludicrous buildup in ICBMs which took place during the Cold War creating dual arsenals plentiful enough to blow up the entire earth about 400 times over, in mind, the question also arises: Is all of such "AWE"some power necessary? Will it really make Americans fell more 'secure' - will Tom Ridge be able to lower his terrorist alert level once these remotely controlled "Surprise, Shock and Awe" systems are in place?

    • Will the implementation of such offensive short-fuse, long distance, remotely-controlled weapons put the United states in a position where its global political sphere and influence will shrink, as a reflection of an entirely isolationist egocentricity, while at the same time extending its 'shock and terror' mantle towards universal, global cowering and fear, by any nation other than the US.

    • Lastly, will the political arrogance and awe-inspiring buildup of these new high-tech Weapons of Mass Destruction be the trigger to unite the rest of the world, Arab, Israeli, European (both OLD and NEW), African, Australasian, into a new political alliance who will petition the UN (or any successor organization which may or may not exist at such time) to undertake a pre-emptive strike against the new perceived global leader in terrorism and take out the largest threat to lasting peace on the third rock from the Sun.

    Sadly, I am reminded again and again of the quote by Samuel P. Huntington, first brought to my attention by Raed.

    the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.

    Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

    Samuel P. Huntington

    The quote stems from the time last century when the British empire was still a power to be reckoned with. But today, it has even more relevance and poignancy.

    There are lessons to be learned from History. "But this is a different kind of war," Rumsfeld would say. "The British Empire was the 'old' way of building global strength. Our new, high-tech way of empire-building discards all of those oldfashioned notions."

    You are wrong, Rummy, soooooo wrong. Some things never change.

    (June 30, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Security improves in Iraq - US Army captures 180 Iraqi Insurgents.

    The New York Times reports this morning that a successful sweep against insurgents rounded up 180 suspected rebels - associated with the population segment of Iraqis who did not wish to be liberated and who henceforth have been nipping at the heels of the Coalition Forces, killing, on average, one US or British soldier a day.

    A series of aggressive raids by American forces across central Iraq and in Baghdad have resulted in the detention of 180 people, including a Baath Party colonel, the United States military said today.

    The raids in Iraq, carried out in part as a display of American power, resulted in the detention of 32 people by the Fourth Infantry Division, the United States Central Command said. Ten AK-47 rifles, two pistols and a mortar were also confiscated.

    This group of detainees included the colonel, who was not immediately identified. He was held along with five other individuals, eight AK-47 rifles and other assorted weapons, as well as eight million Iraqi dinars, or about $60,000.

    In separate raids in Baghdad by the First Armored Division, 148 people were detained.

    The actions across Iraq involved thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles; the aim is to root out groups that have been attacking American and British soldiers and to project an intimidating display of power.

    But the relative absence of armed resistance suggested that they had not uncovered any major pockets of resistance.

    Statistically, Iraq today is safer for the Coalition Forces. Here is how the math works out.

    Of the 28,000,000 inhabitants of Iraq, it is estimated that roughly half, or 14 million, were strongly against the liberation of Iraq. Of this latter segment, 60% are women and underage children, leaving 5.6 million men, armed to the teeth in typical Iraqi fashion, possessing AK-47 and similar 'personal' small arms weaponry, who can be characterized as having a personal vendetta against the occupying forces.

    The recent detention of 180 from among this dissident group, reduces its membership by 1.4 thousandths of one percent.

    Consequently, the internal security risk associated with dissident groups intent on spoiling the success of the Coalition Forces' Peace-keeping efforts, now stands at a mere 99.9986% of the similar level last week.

    The Pentagon had no comment on the question how much longer the US Armed Forces will be required to maintain their 'Only As Long As Necessary' R&R; venture in the sands of Iraq or whether, in fact, larger troop deployment may be necessary in the future. President Bush, however, now acknowledges that the stay in Iraq will be long, arduous and expensive.

    One wonders which American company is going to be awarded the 'emergency, no-compete bid' contract for the construction of detention centers capable of holding 5.4 million detainees. Once these 5.400,000 rebels have been identified, captured, and safely sent to detention centers, it will be time for the Coalition Forces to pull up stakes and return to the United States.

    (June 19, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    "No Newsworthy News To Report" Department - get used to it.

    Kerry Challenges Bush Administration over [missing] Weapons.

    Thus reads a BBC headline. Nothing new there. But what is amazing is that we have to read a foreign source for the article.

    Sad state of affairs when innocuous remarks by GWB get covered by hundreds of White House reporters and written/talked/projected up like the Gospel, while the democratic opposition candidates get deep-sixed, even when they have something weighty and newsworthy to report. Seems the only place the Dem contenders can assure themselves of a place accurately reporting on their statements, are their own websites.

    (June 12, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Johnnie Ashcroft Will Love This - according to USA Today, the FBI has determined that it is possible to set off a bomb remotely by use of a cell phone.

    Therefore, if Congress denies the Justice Department the Patriot II legislation without which (Ashcroft claims) the war against terror will be a losing proposition, his henchmen can now simply arrest anyone they wish, plant a 'toss-away' cell phone on the victim/detainee, and argue that they arrested the alleged terrorist for 'carrying a remote detonation device' - enough to incarcerate anyone indefinitely as an enemy combatant.

    Goodie, goodie !

    (June 10, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    The Most Honorable thing Colin Powell could ever do. I used to have the utmost respect for the man. Now I'd want to be the fly on the wall when he pens his memoirs.

    One Helluv'a Honorable Gentleman from Vermont - and a SENATOR, to boot.

    Statement of Senator Jeffords, Second Anniversary of Decision to Leave the GOP - National Press Club - reproduced in its entirety here.

    NOTE: It is a lengthy read - but most worthwhile.

    Support our Troops - show us how it is done - REPUBLICAN style. Give a small-minded Senator a bit of power, and he will most likely show the voters of his home state how hard he is working for them, to the detriment of all others, and in the face of recent catcalls to anti-war proponents. Despicably, Senator Larry E. Craig (R) of Idaho has (mis)used a power accorded all Senators to hold up the worthy promotion of some 850 officers in our armed forces. For more background, read James DiBenedetto's commentary.

    In contrast read how a Nevada company wants to honor our soldier heroes returning from their tours of duty in Iraq.

    For more stories on how our soldiers are being dissed, read this and this.

    (May 21, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Paging Guv'nor Ridge - Call Your Databases

    With our nation's terror alert back to Orange [Home Depot has fully replenished its stock of Duct Tape] I decided to visit the FBI's formal gallery of mugshots of its Ten Most Wanted

    There actually are TWO such galleries - one depicting the ten most wanted Fugitives (where Usama Bin Laden is ranked # 2, following one Michael Alfonso, a bad dude wanted for allegedly stalking and shooting to death two former girlfriends) and another listing the 22 or so most wanted Terrorists where Usama Bin Laden tops the list.

    Like Father, Like Son??

    For over a year, various news organizations have reported that according to their sources or research, Bin Laden's third son, Saad (the third amongst 18 of OBL's male offspring), has ascended to the top of the Al Qaeda organization. Perhaps OLB and his chief lawyer, Egyptian Al-Zawahiri, are in fact hiding out in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and relaying policy decisions to underlings, but it certainly seems credible that Saad Bin Laden has been, de facto, made the COO of Al Qaeda. If this is true, why does Saad Bin Laden not appear on the FBI list of Most Wanted Terrorists?

    Could he possibly have had nothing to do with the multiple terror attacks in Saudi Arabia?? Could he have been out of the loop insofar as responsibility for the Casablanca bombings are concerned?? Apparently, Guv'nor Ridge and his intelligence geniuses think so.

    There are really only two ways in which this possible intelligence disconnect can be explained.

    1. Either the FBI/CIA/Department of Homeland Defense is clueless.

    2. Or the news organizations reporting about Saad Bin Laden's ascendency to the top operational post within Al Qaeda have been blowing hot air all along.

    I guess we will find out before long which is the answer.

    Hint: If I were a betting man, I'd lay my money on the collective news organizations of the western world being correct, for once.

    (May 8, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Much Has Been Said about our Commander-In-Chief's Pompous Pirouette for the Press aboard the Abraham Lincoln last week.

    Senator Byrd said it best, but others have piped in too, notably Cowboy Kahlil while tacitus defends the president's action in withholding a 10 month long-awaited furlough for the sailors for one more day than strictly necessary as justifiable, based on port operations logistics, and long-planned-in-advance docking schedules.

    What has slipped under the radar, is the President's wish to commemorate the Daring Event with a Personal Hero Worship Statuette, to be given to every sailor and WH Press Corps member who were there to watch the historic event - the instant conversion of History's Most Despised AWOL Reservist into the World's Most Revered Freedom Fighter.

    The White House, flush with testosterone over the unexpected TV ratings from the Daring Descent, have put the rush on an initial order of 40,000 of the mini-statuettes.

    NOTE: Click on picture for more pictures and full story.

    In a last-minute exuberance of hubris, Karl Rove ordered the wording of the statuettes revised, with a huge, red "W" imprinted, more in line with his next coup d'etat of the American electorate - the abolishment of the pesky constitutional Amendment prohibiting presidents from serving more than two terms, and his final glorying moment: the election of George W. Bush as President for Life, and the subsequent retirement of Karl Rove as the Master Puppeteer of the White House, 2000 - 2008.

    The 'First edition' of the statuettes are already becoming instant collectibles, and eBay will undoubtedly see its share of the nine inch tall painted gypsum statuettes, both the real ones, as well as the expected flood of 'knockoffs'.

    (May 5, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    This is for Bloggers Only - for now at least.

    I am going to start a "Reference Blog" - dealing with Election Issues '04.

    Some of you are aware that I have started an initiative aptly named Bloggers Initiative 2004 which is an effort to unite the liberal political bloggers and attempt to encourage us [them] to speak with a united voice. Central to that concept is the effort to get every participating blogger to exhibit the 'yellow ribbon' of the movement, shown as the graphic embedded within this paragraph.

    This single page OUTLINE (at present) will eventually grow into an entire website, with separate pages for each "Issue".

    The wonderful aspect of bloggerdom is that is is somewhat like prospecting for gold. With arduous work and patience, a surfer can unearth a nugget here, find a pure gem there, a diamond in the rough a further ways, and at the end of the day, a gemstone buried there.

    Very time consuming - worthwhile if you have several hours, but if you only have 15 minutes, it is very frustrating.

    We intend to do the mining of nuggets for the casual browser - and assemble the wisdom of the collective Democratic political bloggersphere in one place, easy to look up, and excellent for getting the broad overview. In fact, the principal raison d'etre behind the blog is to attract NEW readers to blogs - namely those who do not have the time to spend two hours or more surfing among 25 different sites to make sure they catch it all. Kind'a a push filter for anyone interested only in a 'political feed' coming from a liberal (democratic) position.

    No emphasis on [our own] original content, but huge amounts of nuggets mined from 1000 different places.

    See its humble beginning at the ISSUES blog of the Bloggers Initiative.

    It uses a beta version of Bloggers new software, and there are formatting issues. However, the text portion comes through ok.

    The issues I threw up were simply the ones I myself had commented on in the recent past. I am looking for hints and assistance from all of my liberal bloggers. For instance, Natasha's Veteran's issues (scroll down to the third post) will be added, as will - I am sure - dozens and dozens of others.

    (April 18, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    The $2000 campaign contribution check - the bane of the system.

    During the next 15 months, there will be a lot of mention of $2000 campaign contribution checks (the current maximum contribution permitted under the McCain-Feingold legislation) - and there will be a lot of refunds, back to the donor, of $2000 campaign contributions.

    The Washington Post reports on one such case, today. This is not a 'scandal' associated with Senator John Edwards, as much as it is a scandal exposing the fallacy of the entire system by which presidential candidates obtain the huge sums necessary to fund their campaigns.

    In another story today, of equal importance in passing judgment on the efficacy, ethics and morality of our campaign finance laws, Bechtel was awarded a no-competitive-bid contract to reconstruct the bombed-out and heavily rutted roadways of Iraq. How many $2000 checks will the Bush campaign receive from Bechtel employees, and how many similar type campaign contributions (whatever the legal maximum was) did the Republican party and their candidates receive from Bechtel employees in the past.

    And, to complete the flow-of-funds accountability, how many of these global $2000 checks are going to be reimbursed, in one way or another, so that the real contributor, in the final analysis, is the corporation, law firm, HMO, Defense Contractor - the one with the deep pocket, and the only party with a deep financial interest in supporting the candidate of choice.

    My own guess is that a huge amount of such contributions are going to be underwritten by the contributors' employers.

    The real problem, however, is not the fact that the overwhelming portion of personal campaign contributions get picked up by the parties with the vested interest in going on record as having made the contribution. The real problem is the societal cost associated with the payoff.

    For every $2000 campaign contribution dutifully paid in to a candidate's campaign, the US Treasury may, in fact, be paying out an amount between $20,000 and $50,000. How does that compute? Quite simple. Our system of campaign contribution is based, not on altruistic generosity, or public-spirited philantrophy. Instead, it is based on corporate greed, on a pre-established quid-pro-quo. Making the right contribution to the right candidate, through a systematic method of underwriting a dozen, a hundred, or a thousand of individual employees' $2000 contributions, does, in many cases, amount to the cheapest way of generating business. Much cheaper than advertising. Much higher ROI that R & D, and much faster, simpler, and certain that going through a cumbersome, lengthy and competitive system of actually bidding on business.

    Of the approximately $350 million raised from the public during the four-year election cycle, culminating in the presidential election, more than $200 million will be raised in the form of $2000 campaign contributions. We, the taxpayers, should be aware that the US Treasury, over the next several years, will pay out an amount approximating $50 Billion in unnecessary profits or unnecessary pork - just to pay back the contributors in a meaningful (and sufficient) way so that the politicians can be assured that the checkbooks will be ready to go for another round next election year.

    And if the Federal Reserve could make a survey of $2000 checks clearing the system, I think they will find that for every $2000 check going out to a candidate, there will be an offsetting $2000 check to cover the employee's 'generosity' in an exceptionally high degree.

    That is why I am in favor of full public funding of all campaigns. Once a candidate reaches a predetermined level of public acceptance, or is nominated by a national party, cut him/her a check for $50,000,000 from the US Treasury, and let the best person win.

    Meanwhile, let all the corporations, lawfirms, HMOs, defense contractors, oil firms, hold their breath and get ready to compete with one another, on a merit based system of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, the way the rest of the country does business.

    Alternatively, permit corporate campaign contributions, but make them anonymous. The way this would work, is that all direct campaign contributions to a candidate are forbidden; instead, all contributions have to be channelled through a fiduciary [non-government] agency which cashes the check, then re-issues a check to the intended candidate, and forwards it to the candidate, with the note: "An anonymous donor wanted you to have this."

    One wonders if such a system of lawful, albeit anonymous contributions would stem the flood of generosity which at the current rate threatens to totally undermine the trust with which the public views our political process.

    (April 17, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    The Administration's Economic Stimulus Plan - the unspoken part.

    Domestically - a tax cut of $650 Billion, favoring mostly the wealthy. Only entrepreneurs and rich folks have the capability of creating jobs. If too much of the tax cut is given to poor working slobs, they will just spend it.

    Internationally - in Iraq, for instance, let the Iraqis exercise their newfound freedom. Let them loot the offices and warehouses of the Iraqi State Oil company. After all, the more the oil companies' spare parts are depleted, the greater the need to ship such spare parts, readily available from Texas based oil services firms, to Iraq, under emergency and expedited terms, providing quite an economic stimulus to US-based companies who in these dull and dreary recession-plagued days sure could use a shot in the arm in the form of international business and war-economy profits under generous Defense Department [$800 toilet seats] procurement policies.

    New meaning to the term SARS

    The war in Iraq is essentially over, and yesterday President Bush, under obvious stress of controlling his smirk, announced to a bunch of Boeing workers that the 'V' word was attained.

    'Victory' - the military objective he so many times previously pronounced as 'certain' - was now in the bag.

    Yes, I agree the coalition forces won the war against Iraq. But I don't ever think anyone realistically believed that wasn't going to happen. That was not the point the anti-war protesters were arguing about. Their fundamental issue with the war was its premise, the why, not whether it would eventually be won or not.

    But was it foreseeable that, with 'Victory' at hand, the war-thumpers would be quick to posture I told you so - even before any shred of evidence of WMD have been uncovered. They seem to argue that 'Victory' - in and of itself - justified the military incursion?

    Wait a Minute - Wait a Minute - Wait a Bloody Minute

    Apparently, we now have to deal with the insufferable neocons who feel vindicated in their criticism of the anti-war protests by the mere fact that "we won the war".

    That is a phenomenon which gives a whole new meaning to the term S.A.R.S.


    Glenn Reynolds took on the role of the poster boy for this new movement with this post, on April 11:

    April 11, 2003

    Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.


    Posted by Glenn Reynolds at April 11, 2003 04:36 PM

    The law professor from Tennessee just flunked the test in my civilization course. Not that it matters, but as a symbolic gesture, I just removed Instapundit from my blogroll.


    P.S. - I pity the professor's law school students.

    (April 14, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)

    Few things inspire me to write poetry - but here is a ditty I just couldn't help writing down when it came upon me.

    It matters little who of them
    will get your lonesome vote
    John Edwards, Kerry, Dean or Joe
    can do the job by rote.

    But vote you MUST - that is your job
    We need to stem the cheers
    from neocon evangelists
    demanding FOUR MORE years

    What matters most is certainty
    that Bush will be no more
    that He and Cheney end their reign,
    Election Day, '04