Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Hittin' the hash pipe in Iraq

Apparently there'll be no more surrendering to TV correspondents if there's another war against Iraq. The country's trade minister is saying that Iraqis will fight much harder if, as is looking increasingly likely, we go to war again this winter.

Fat freakin' chance. The Iraqi army is poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led and will have no air cover whatsoever.*

He claims civilians have been given three extra months' food rations to stockpile in case of a U.S. attack. (Which raises questions about how badly UN sanctions are supposed to be harming Iraqi civilians, but that's a subject for another post.) Right. Like Iraqi civilians outside the eyesight of senior army commanders aren't going to be showering US troops with whatever passes for flowers there on a scale to make liberated WWII Paris look like a wake.

*Granted, even a poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led army can inflict a lot of casualties on an invading force in an urban area. But to say that presupposes there'll be a lot of urban fighting. Much more likely, US troops will surround the major cities and bomb or starve them out. Many civilians will be harmed, yes, but probably fewer than would be in house-to-house fighting.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Can't hang this one on Bubba

Britain's Independent newspaper, citing reports in a leftist Berlin daily, is claiming that documents turned over to the UN by Iraq list dozens of American and German companies who have helped supply Iraq with components of weapons of mass destruction, dating as far back as 1975 and continuing in some cases until last year.

In and of itself, this says nothing about the merits of war with Iraq. OTOH, it should put a stop to GOP claims that the Clinton administration is primarily responsible for failing to deal with the war on terrorism before the attacks of 9/11. Should, I say. But I'm sure it won't.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

From the bigot to the whore

Looks like Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee is going to challenge Trent Lott's Senate Republican leadership come January. That's almost predictable in that, unlike Rick Santorum or pretty much anyone else in the Republican leadership, he has no real connection to racist campaigns or the Shiite Christian wing of the GOP.

But he has some problems. Oh, yes, he does. First -- and I am indebted to Hesiod for both of these tidbits -- his family bidness has been skirtin' the law a bit -- to the tune of about $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines and penalties, and guilty pleas to 14 -- count 'em, 14 -- felonies -- just in the past couple of years. Second, and more ominously, it looks like one of the fingerprints on the Homeland Security Act provision that prematurely cleared Eli Lilly of any liability for possibly having caused autism in kids came from Frist's hand.

Now, as acts of corporate whoredom go, that little provision -- which, GOP protest to the contrary, has nothing to do with homeland security -- stands out even in the sea of corporate whoredom that Washington has become under Bush the Lesser. And what Frist and his backers forget at their peril is that every one of these autistic kids has at least one parent, guardian or caregiver who likely will be quite willing to devote whatever remains of his or her life to ruining whatever remains of Frist's.

Which, as I see it, is the very least that should happen to him or anyone else who was responsible for that bit of evil.

So where does this leave Senate Republicans? Wandering like a bunch of Diogeneses with lanterns, looking for an honest man to lead them? Cuz that's sure what it looks like from here.

I don't agree with Bill Clinton on much ...

... but I damn sure agree with him on this. It's about time somebody tore the GOP a new asshole over the nasty, cynical way it has built a majority on a racist foundation. It's been this way since Nixon's '68 campaign, former Nixon campaign aide Kevin Phillips wrote a book about it, for God's sake, and yet some presumably sentient GOP defenders are perfectly willing to look you in the eye and say that if you think there are any racist appeals in Republican political campaigns in the South, you're just dreaming. Crap. I've lived here for more than 40 years. I speak the language, I know the code. And Trent Lott isn't even the worst offender. He's just the one dumb enough to say explicitly what is usually only implied.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Colin Powell says the U.S. doesn't want to invade Iraq. Anyone believe him?

This article also is notable for the fact that it contains a Bush official conceding that, in its view, the Clinton Administration did at least one thing right:

Powell said the policy of regime change in Baghdad was inherited from the Clinton administration by the Bush administration.

"We came into office in 2001 and kept that policy because Saddam Hussein had not changed," Powell told the newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi by telephone last Thursday.

A year-end list that's actually worth reading ...

... would be The Beast of Buffalo's 50 Most Loathsome People in America. Here's just one example: Ari Fleischer, No. 16 on the list:

Wherever he ends up placed on this list will not be high enough. This motherfucker carries G.W. Bush's demon seed in his anal womb, gestates a fresh offspring a couple times a day and produces a few Rosemary's steamers at press conferences with all the non-chalance of a Spot Coffee latte jerk. Fleischer is the very bold assertion, by the powers that be, that Americans and their media representatives are too whip-shy to just say, "Wait a fucking minute. You're telling a goddamned lie, Fleischie."

We are, quite simply, not worthy.

Up is down, right is wrong, war is peace ...

... dictatorship is freedom.

My, what a week it's been

First Henry Kissinger decides that keeping his high-dollar clients -- and keeping them secret -- is more important than answering the Bush family's call to cover up. Ahem. I mean, than answering his country's call to serve. Why might he do that? Because he needs the money? Well, no, unless he thinks there's a war-crimes indictment in his future for complicity in the murder of Chilean civilians after the 1973 coup. There might not be enough money in the world to get him off that particular hook, but then two years and two months ago, I would've said there wasn't enough money in the world to buy a U.S. presidential election.

On another front, the Trent Lott mess keeps bubbling and apparently will until Senate Republicans meet Jan. 6 to revisit the idea of having an unreconstructed racist as Senate Majority Leader. Problem is, none of the other big Senate Republicans look all that hot, either. Don Nickles is just as racially and religiously backward as Lott, and so is Rick Santorum. Bill Frist isn't, but he could well turn out to have been the person who slipped the Eli Lilly provision into the Homeland Security Act, in which case he's going to be in a world of hurt as well. Gee. And they say "principled Republican" isn't an oxymoron.

And, finally (at least for now), the Bushies are honestly (if that's the word) taking the position that the extremely wealthy (the top 1% of wage earners, who make $1.5 million or more per) are too heavily taxed and that the middle class and poor must shoulder more of the tax burden. I don't know about you, but I'm in the latter group and I have NOT been feeling undertaxed lately.

Plenty to spew bile about. Good thing I've got an endless supply.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I'm traveling ...

... a good bit for the next couple of weeks, so posts might be, um, erratic.

Happy holidays anyway.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Machiavellian ... and I mean that in the nicest possible way

The Feces-Flinging Monkey has an interesting hypothesis about what might really be up with the Bush administration's pressure on Iraq. Even if he's serious, and even if he's right -- I'm skeptical on both counts -- I don't think it justifies putting war on Iraq atop our list of Things to Do to Fight Terrorism. But it certainly would address the problem we have with support of terrorism by our "ally" and "friend," Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

More on those peace-loving Muslims ...

... from Mark Steyn of the National Post, who has great fun with the idea offered by a Muslim writer in response to a column by former Bush speechwriter David Frum taking issue with Muslim rioting in Nigeria.

"It is Muslims who determine what is objectionable to their religion, not (Frum) dictating it to them. ... " the writer said. "And since (Frum) cites Salman Rushdie, he should know by now the fatal consequences resulting from ignoring this fact."

OK, explain to me again how Islam doesn't endorse killing people, because I damn sure missed it the first time.

Monday, December 09, 2002

What we've got here is failure to communicate

So, lessee ... while I was off enjoying the weekend, Dubya sacked his top economic advisers. Yo, dude: Changing the people won't work if the policy stays the same.

And the new Treasury guy is ... head of an industry that gets by on enormous taxpayer subsidies. OK. Hmm. Yes, there's a signal to the actual job-creating part of the economy that the president gets it.

Here's a fix for our current economic mess, at no cost to the taxpayer: Rescind the tax cut for the wealthy. Enact instead a tax cut for the middle class and working poor. Give the SEC enough funding to seriously restore investor confidence in the stock market as anything other than a fixed game. End pointless federal subsidies, like that to the steel industry. And then stand back and watch the jobs come flying.

I'll be awaiting my nomination to the Council of Economic Advisers. Not.

One good reason why having Republicans appoint judges can be an incredibly bad idea:

A federal judge appointed by President Bush on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the investigative arm of Congress against Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I wonder if the message is getting through ...

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian democracy advocate who was imprisoned for trying to monitor elections there, has been released pending a new trial, which the country's highest court granted him.

Think maybe our "allies" are starting to get the idea just what being our ally entails? If so, it's about damn time.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

I'm ... too stupid for my job ... too stupid for my job ...

The New York Sun, with all the depth and credibility of an '80s synth-pop dance tune, is suggesting that The New York Times' recent criticism of Henry Kissinger as head of the 9/11 inquiry committee is a case of selective outrage, an attempt to bash a guy who frequently writes for competitors, and unfounded besides. "The right way to judge Mr. Kissinger’s work is on the the merits of the commission’s report when it finally becomes available," the Sun says.


First, we're not judging Kissinger's work. We're judging his qualifications for the work we've asked him to do. Second, those qualifications are conspicuous by their absence.

Forget the fact that he's going to be arrested as a war criminal if he visits certain countries, some of which are actually on friendly terms with the U.S. His record includes, but certainly is not limited to, a long history of deceiving and lying to the American people, supporting despots and tyrants over the interests of their freedom-desiring subjects and whoring for a Republican plutocracy that might well have an interest in the events of 9/11 that it would rather hide than have disclosed. (I don't mean to say that they caused the events of 9/11 -- I have no reason to believe that -- but that their relationship with the perpetrators, or those like them, long predates 9/11.)

Indeed, even among some Republicans I know, the selection of Kissinger to lead this commission has led to some very cynical speculation about what the Bush family and its allies might have to hide. Which, one would think, would be the very last question we need to be asking about someone whose job is supposed to be to get at the truth.

Here's my question: If Rudy Giuliani was available, and he was, why not pick him?

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Liar, liar, pants on fire

You'll recall from yesterday how some of John DiIulio's comments in an upcoming Esquire article about the Bush West Wing being policy-free were leaked. Predictably, Fox News is serving as the mouthpiece for DiIulio's attempts to claim he never said what he said. Esquire, however, has posted the source memo from DiIulio to the Esquire writer, Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind, in its entirety. Now, let's all hold our breaths awaiting the retraction and apology from Fox and DiIulio. Not.

And this differs from bribery how, exactly?

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, displaying those qualities of statesmanship for which he is known and beloved the world over, has told corporate leaders: Pay up or I'll rip off your head and piss down your neck. OK, that's an exaggeration. A slight exaggeration.

Monday, December 02, 2002

OK, Christopher Hitchens might be a drunk and a boob ...

... but he might also be right about the appointment of Henry Kissinger to run the "independent" investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As he puts it, " ... the cynicism of the decision and the gross insult to democracy and to the families of the victims that it represents has to be analyzed to be believed."

I could've told DiIulio this would happen ...

Seems John DiIulio Jr., the guy picked by Dubya to run his administration's "faith-based" social-welfare programs, has told Esquire for an upcoming article that there is essentially no substantive policy-making going on in Dubya's White House.

Drudge, who, it should be noted, has been wrong before, offers this DiIulio quote from the article: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

Well, duh, John. Here's a guy who first decides we need a $987 trillion tax cut and then casts about for a reason, any reason, even a reason that directly contradicts last week's reason, as to why we need the cut. Here's a guy who first decides we need to invade Iraq and then casts about for a reason, any reason, even a "reason" that's flatly untrue, to do it. Dude, you're a presumably bright guy, so why would you be surprised that Bush might want to push "faith-based" initiatives -- and structure them -- as a political sop to his religious-conservative base rather than as a substantive policy proposal that might actually help the people it's supposed to be helping?

Wake the fuck up, guy.

They're not hysterical because they're crazy. They're hysterical because they're right and the facts matter.

A lot of people, not all of them right-wing toadies, have been put off by claims that the Bush administration is trying to turn America into a police state. Granted, it sounds implausible. But I've got to ask: What the hell else would you call this?

This is a complete sidestepping of constitutional protections for U.S. citizens. If "police state" doesn't bother you, feel free to invent your own phrase ... as long as it's accurate, not euphemistic.

Would someone please explain to me ...

... how this was any different from torture?

I bet the Supremes say it's OK anyhow.