June 27, 2003

Krugman Follows the Money

Paul Krugman sees a scary pattern emerging in Washington's big-money lobbying (well, scary if a country permanently run by Republicans scares you): Toward one-party rule. He raises the possibility that the system that is scheduled to bring Bush an unprecedented $200 million to campaign with (that is, when he's not using taxpayer money to stage flight-suit photo-ops) is part of a larger pattern whereby an ever-growing percentage of the money that decides our national elections is flowing into Republican hands.

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Napolitano on Bush's 'Enemy Combatant' Declaration

Listening to people you disagree with can be rewarding. Sometimes you learn something that will help you change their mind. Sometimes you learn something that helps you change your own mind. And once in a while you realize that you agree with each other already, without anybody having to change their mind.

I had one of those moments today, reading the op-ed piece in the LA Times by Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge and the senior judicial analyst at Fox News: 'Enemy combatants' cast into a constitutional hell (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk login works). Napolitano hits the nail on the head as to just why it is so dangerous that Bush is claiming he has the authority to declare anyone he wants an 'enemy combatant', and throw said combatant into a military brig forever, incommunicado, without charges.

True conservatives (or those I'm going to characterize as such for the current discussion) are motivated by a deep love of country that goes beyond knee-jerk flag-waving. To truly love something one must understand that something, appreciating and cherishing the things that make it special. Like, in the case of this country, the presumption of innocence, and the notion that courts can overrule executives and legislators when they exceed their constitutional authority.

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Time Gets Antsy About War's Duration

Continuing my wacky linking behavior today, I'm going to link to that ultimate in mainstream media: Time Magazine. Specifically, to their current lead story, which asks what I think is actually a really good question: Iraq: When can we go home?

Hello? Mr. President? Middle America is on the line. They'd like to know when their sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers are coming back. They're asking politely, for now, but I think they really want an answer, preferably something more specific than "as long as it takes."

Posted by jbc at 06:38 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stories I Am Not Posting About

I've got a big raft of Actual Work to do in my Actual Life right now, so I'm not really able to obsess as much as I'd like to about a bunch of stories getting lots of coverage. And somehow, given said high levels of coverage in everything from mainstream news outlets to leetle teency blogs, I suspect you, the loyal lies.com reader, won't suffer too much if I fail to link to any of these stories.

I realize this lays me open to bitching about fairness. I mean, how could I make such an insanely big deal about every single lefty rant on the non-discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for months, and then suddenly claim boredom when righties are making a ruckus about some Iraqi nuke scientist who buried some centrifuge parts under his rose bushes 12 years ago? Don't I know that this is The Smoking Gun That Proves Bush Was Telling The Truth All Along?

Well, no, I don't know that. In fact, I think that's a fairly ridiculous assertion. But having gone through all the lies in so much detail for so long, I find myself unable to summon the energy required to go through them all over again, just to refute someone who wasn't paying attention the first time, and who, honestly, isn't going to pay attention this time, either. So whatever, yeah, knock yourself out. My tiny little attention span has moved on.

Let's see; what else? Oh yes. The Supreme Court overturns Texas law banning same-sex sodomy. Woo! Go Supreme Court. You rock. (Except for dissenters Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas. You guys suck! Heh.)

Um, Nike got rejected in their appeal claiming they had a First Amendment right to lie about conditions in their Asian sweatshops. Sorry, no.

Am I missing anything? No, I think that's it. Those are all the stories I was feeling guilty about not linking to. Oh, wait: That Memory Hole thing Tom Tomorrow is up in arms about: the video showing Bush's five-minute deer-in-the-headlights performance just after he was told about the second plane crashing into the WTC on 9/11. Yes, I watched it, and yeah, it's kinda shocking, or would be if I gave any weight at all to his media team's ongoing efforts to protray him as a purposeful Man of Action. But the main thing I felt in watching that was to cringe at the ruler-slapping teacher leading the kids in reading aloud. Jeez; what kind of HitlerYouth program are they running down there? You will read now! You will pause for the comma! Louder!

So. Anyway. I am not linking to any of those stories. If you've somehow missed them, and you're feeling deprived by my failure to link, talk to the hand. Or just go find them yourself; it's not hard. Thanks.

Posted by jbc at 06:30 AM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

National Do-Not-Call Registry

Lots of people are linking to the National Do-Not-Call Registry at donotcall.gov. Now I am, too. Yay for me!

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Cool Tee for Americans Abroad

Item #27 in a list of Things to Do When You're Bored: Buy an American Apology Shirt and wear it to a Toby Keith concert. Guaranteed fun.

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Collection of Derivative Cover Art

From the subversives at BlueDisguise Records comes The Knockoff Project, which offers side-by-side comparisons of "album cover spoofs, goofs, tributes, send ups, near misses and coincedences." Interesting, though maybe it helps to be old enough that you remember when an "album cover" was larger, and carried more of a visual impact, than is possible to achieve in something the size of a CD case.

Link courtesy those hunter/gatherers at Yahoo! Pick of the Day.

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June 26, 2003

Kynn on the Iraq/Palestine Parallel

Kynn of Shock & Awe points to a Yahoo! News image of the US Army destroying Iraqi homes, and constructs a thought-provoking comparison between the US and Israel as occupying powers: Home demolitions.

I think he's got a good point. Pay attention to what life is like in and around Israel these days. Because George Bush is absolutely following in Ariel Sharon's footsteps. That's our future as a nation we're looking at, the logical end of countering force with more force, random violence against innocents with still more random violence against innocents, death with more death.

We need another way. We need to find a path to a world where differences with our neighbors don't have to be capital offenses. I know that the right-wing types, especially those who have had their values systematically dismantled and re-assembled as part of their service in the military, will dismiss such talk as hopelessly naive. I understand where they're coming from. They're absolutely right -- from a certain point of view.

But so am I, from a different point of view. We need a new, larger frame of reference that encompasses both truths. Resolving this ambiguity, the ambiguity between short-term realism and long-term idealism, is our main challenge as a species right now. It will absolutely determine the kind of world our descendants live in.

We need to move beyond our current system. We need another way, a different future. We need leaders wise enough to see that future, brave enough to commit to it, and skilled enough to actually take us there.

George Bush is not that leader. I'm still not sure, in all honesty, that any of the current Democratic challengers is, either, but I know for a fact that George Bush isn't. He's at the opposite pole. In his lack of insight, his blunt willingness to reduce complex issues to the simplest formulations, and, especially, in the darker undercurrents of his personality that lead him to set his jaw and dish out righteous vengeance to those he too-quickly identifies as the source of his troubles, he is absolutely taking us in the wrong direction. It's the same direction Ariel Sharon has been taking Israel for the last few years, and it's not hard to see where it leads. It's a downward spiral of ever-increasing violence. It's a tunnel with no light at the end, a hole, a pit, a collective mass grave.

It's a good place for us not to be going.

Posted by jbc at 08:03 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Byrd: Better than Ever

Robert Byrd's latest speech is the best thing I've seen on WMDs so far. It is absolutely spot on. It is an utterly truthful, and utterly damning, indictment of what the Bush administration has done in Iraq. Anyway, no matter which side of the debate you find yourself on, you owe it to yourself to read it, and to think about the issues he raises: The road to coverup is the road to ruin.

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June 24, 2003

Fritz: WMD Debaters Talking Past Each Other

Ben Fritz at Spinsanity has the following cool analysis: What's at stake in the WMD debate. His basic assertion is that both sides are making statements that are literally true, while neither is really engaging the other. On the one hand are people arguing that Bush & Co. lied about what secret intelligence showed in order to sell the war. On the other side are those arguing that Saddam had a long history of WMD production and use, and of non-cooperation with those trying to disarm his regime, as acknowledged by everyone from UN inspectors to Bill Clinton.

Really, says Fritz, it boils down to two separate, but related questions: Did Bush lie to build support for the war? And given the failure to find predicted WMDs, was the war in fact justified? By focusing on those parts of the debate where their own arguments are strongest, while ignoring the parts where they are weakest, each side does a disservice to the actual determination of truth.

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Rrrrrrrrrrrumsfeld!

At the Pentagon news briefing today Donald Rumsfeld was in fine form, spinning the WMD issue for all it's worth. As Janus/onan so-aptly paraphrased the Secretary of Everything: "WE WILL FIND WEAPONS (orevidenceofweaponsprograms)." Anyway, see Yahoo! News for the Reuters report: Rumsfeld says US will find Iraqi WMD evidence. Or go to the State Department for the full transcript, which, for a WMD-controversy fanboy like me, makes for fascinating reading: Defense Department briefing transcript.

The best part is this:

Q: And, Secretary Rumsfeld, can I just ask you -- follow-up on your statement about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You said that -- in your opening statement, that there was no doubt before the war that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction "programs," was the word you used.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: I'm just wondering, when I hear you say "programs," are you signaling at all that Iraq may not have had actual weapons or weaponized forms of this, but simply the programs to produce them? Or am I reading too much into what you said?

Rumsfeld: You may be reading too much. I don't know anybody that I can think of who has contended that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons.

Q: I didn't say nuclear --

Rumsfeld: I'm saying that. I'm trying to respond to your question.

I don't know anybody in any government or any intelligence agency who suggested that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons. That's fact number one.

If you go back to my statement, we also know that the Iraqis did have chemical weapons. They confessed to having had all of these weapons over a sustained period of time. I brought something along. In the '90s, Iraq admitted having 8,500 liters of anthrax and several tons of VX. Iraq admitted producing 6,500 chemical bombs containing an estimated 1,000 tons of chemical agents, none of which have ever been accounted for. In 1998, President Clinton said Saddam Hussein possessed 5,000 gallons of botulin, 2,000 gallons of anthrax, and 177 Scud warheads, and bombs filled with biological agents.

We know he used chemical weapons against the Kurds and against the Iranians in the war. So you had a country that had these weapons and programs, a country that used those weapons, a country that by everyone who had reason to be knowledgeable believed filed a fraudulent declaration to the United Nations. And it seems to me that that speaks for itself, that they --

Q: But isn't it possible, now in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein could have destroyed the weapons -- that is, destroyed the evidence -- while maintaining the programs to produce them in the future, in an effort to ride out the sanctions, and that as a result, you may never find any actual weapons in Iraq?

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to get into the various possibilities. They're fairly self-evident as to what the possibilities might be. I have reason, every reason, to believe that the intelligence that we were operating off was correct and that we will, in fact, find weapons or evidence of weapons programs that are conclusive. But that's just a matter of time.

It's just a matter of time, all right.

Anyway, it's all revisionist history from here on out. Thanks to Daily Kos for being on top of the story (Rumsfeld: 'really, we will find something!'), including the item from the comments pointing out the Meet the Press statement by Cheney on March 16: "And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Posted by jbc at 05:36 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Voting at Moveon.org

So, I cast my ballot in the early "primary" at moveon.org. While it's true my early money was (and still is, probably, if I'm betting) on Kerry, I voted for Dean. That was partly due to Adam's positive influence. It was also the result of a Faustian pact between my naive/hopeful side and my cynical side. The former wanted to vote for the person whose message most closely matches my own feelings. The latter wanted to increase the chances that Dean, generally accepted as the favorite in that race and the candidate who has paid more attention to the net and the blog world than any other, would win 50% of the MoveOn vote, qualifying him for their endorsement and money, thereby validating the significance of the net in the realm of national politics, a realm that has historically treated it as slightly less important than any given local AARP chapter.

Oh, and also thanks to Adam, check out the merry pranksters at Republicans for Sharpton. I'd seen some previous mention of the same notion, that some right-wingers would attempt to influence the MoveOn primary by registering and voting for those whose ideas they find most laughable. Hey. More power to you, guys.

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Spinning Bush's Lies

Interesting crop of stories this morning, most of them pointed to by The Smirking Chimp, about Bush's lies on Iraqi weapons. They cover an interesting spectrum.

On the one hand is Geov Parrish's column at Working for Change: Eying lies. Parrish cuts Bush and his supporters no slack, which won't surprise anyone who's read his columns in the past. The lies themselves aren't at issue for Parrish; the more interesting question is the possible motivations of those driven to actually believe them.

On the other hand is David E. Rosenbaum, writing in the New York Times Week in Review: Bush may have exaggerated, but did he lie? I doubt that Rosenbaum is one of those who actually believes Bush; unlike those Parrish writes about who take the president's statements at face value, Rosenbaum obviously has a more discerning judgement. It's an interesting irony: in order for Rosenbaum to be someone who can present the best possible case for Bush's truthfulness, he pretty much has to be informed and clever enough to recognize those statements' essential falsity.

Which may be unfair, but that's the nature of such Catch-22s. Anyway, in his audacity, his willingness to employ every trick in the book to obscure the underlying reality, Rosenbaum reminds me of Bill Clinton in some of his post-blue-dress statements on Monica Lewinsky, when he could both acknowledge his previous lies and at the same time minimize their significance, building clouds of confusion in the minds of uncritical listeners before slipping artfully away.

Timothy Noah in Slate is one who isn't confused by Rosenbaum, ripping the piece in his Chatterbox column: Can Bush be both ignorant and a liar? Noah answers that question with an emphatic yes, observing that it really doesn't matter if Bush is ignorant enough to actually believe some of the false statements he's made on Iraqi WMDs; if those statements were the result of ignorance, then it's a willful ignorance that offers no excuse from the charge of lying, unless one is willing to descend to the sort of sophistry exemplified by Clinton's own "it depends on what the definitiion of 'is' is" arguments.

On the most fundamental level, all the above pieces are partisan arguments directed at the opposing side. Paul Krugman's latest New York Times opinion piece, though, rises to a higher level, talking in a more general sense about the significance of Bush's lies, and peoples' willingness to make excuses about them: Denial and deception. Krugman's conclusion:

But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.

After all, suppose that a politician -- or a journalist -- admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability -- and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk -- to face the truth and act on it -- what will happen to our democracy?

Posted by jbc at 08:52 AM | view/comment (9) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2003

Balkwill on Bush's Cowardice

Jack Balkwill went to Vietnam -- in his view, in place of George W. Bush -- and he's got his own take on what it is that disqualifies Bush as president: Bush is a coward.

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Gilliard, Pitt on Quagmire

Here's a piece by Daily Kos' Steve Gilliard that surveys the weekend news stories about how crappily things are going in Iraq: War by other means. He doesn't mention whether he still thinks Iraq will be in a state of "civil war" by the fourth of July, but he doesn't mince words about who he thinks is responsible for the mess.

In a similar vein, William Rivers Pitt at truthout takes a blunt approach to laying out the costs of the ongoing occupation: Slaughtergate.

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June 22, 2003

Saddam May Be Paying For These Sins As We Speak!

This isn't a particularly new story on the darkness that Saddam cast upon his people during his reign, but it certainly casts a damming light on the western media that chose to take the moral and ethical low road in not only failing to report the truth about the cause of hundreds of children's deaths in Traq, but also were participants in validating the lie.

I didn't want to link to this latest rumor of Saddam's "untimely" death, since it was only being reported in the Guardian. But now the international version of the NYT has added their two-cents worth, so I'll allow myself to start to hope its true.

Posted by Craig at 09:29 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Sartwell Reviews 'Shattering Illusions'

Art-school philosophy prof and generally fun smart-ass Crispin Sartwell has a review of Jamy Ian Swiss' Shattering Illusions: Essays on the Ethics, History, and Presentation of Magic in today's LA Times book reviews: Entertaining deception. It actually sounds like a pretty cool book; maybe I'll pick it up when I finish The Illuminatus! Trilogy, which just arrived today.

Posted by jbc at 12:19 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

LAT on Jessica

Today's Los Angeles Times has a decent summing up of the current state of the Jessica-Lynch-and-the-media story: Lynch now networks' objective (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk login works). The article points out how interpreters of the story have tended to fill in the fuzzy parts based on their own ideology, and also touches on the Jessica/Shoshana thing. I especially like this part about NBC, which is scurrying to get an unauthorized made-for-TV movie about Jessica out this fall:

At NBC, executives are aware of the turmoil over the truth in the Lynch story and are philosophical. Much of the BBC report has been discredited, said Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment. "All made-for-TV movies based on fact have some fiction in them." In any case, the lure is unchanged. "She is a heroic figure," he said.

Yeah, that's what I'd call that: philosophical.

Posted by jbc at 09:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hadden Sentenced in California

Tanya Hadden, the California science teacher who previously served 6 months in Nevada for running off with her 15-year-old student, has now been sentenced in California. In return for guilty pleas, she received a 2-year sentence: Teacher gets 2 years for sex with student.

In related news, the boy's family seems to have upgraded to a more-ambitious kind of lawyer. After initially filing a claim with the El Cajon school district for $1 million for the original incident, they've now filed a claim for $350 million for an incident in February when the boy was allegedly attacked by another student: District denies $350M claim by SB boy's family. Both claims have been denied by the district, but filing such claims is apparently a precursor to filing a civil lawsuit.

Interestingly (or not, depending on how you view such things), the way I found out about this latest sentencing was through a sudden influx of sex-obsessed teenage males posting comments to this earlier lies.com story on the case. I checked my referrers to see if some high-profile site had linked to us, but no, it turns out to just be the result of the page's #1 googlerank in the search for "Tanya Hadden". Woo. Go lies.com!

Posted by jbc at 08:23 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2003

Gilliard Says WMDs Still Matter

An excellent commentary from Daily Kos' Steve Gilliard on why the lack of WMDs is still important: Eight reasons why WMD matters.

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The Homeland Security Choker Set

From Aaron/Hiro comes this fun item: the homeland security choker set.

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New Republic Details the Administration's Pre-War WMD Deceptions

The New Republic is running a good article by John P. Judis and Spencer Ackerman on the Bush administration's pre-war sales job on Iraqi WMDs: The first casualty. There are no big revelations, but a certain amount of fleshing out via new details, and overall just a really good presentation of what happened when.

I just don't see any way to avoid the conclusion that Bush & Co. lied intentionally to sell the war, especially on the key points of the Iraq/al Qaeda connection and the Iraqi nuclear program. And that ends up being really problematic.

The authors of the article point out that the openness required by democracy and the secrecy required by the national security apparatus are always going to be in conflict. It's a delicate area, where the need to protect the country from external threats must be balanced against the need to protect it from unscrupulous leaders here at home.

We the people just don't get to see classified intelligence reports; we're dependent on our elected leaders to make an honest, unbiased assessment of the information they contain, and use that information to keep us safe. We have to just trust them on that. But if they're willing to distort that information in pursuit of a particular political agenda, emphasizing some parts and suppressing others, then they have violated that trust, and if we catch them at it, we have to hold them accountable. If we fail to do so, it's all downhill from there. They absolutely will not police themselves on our behalf.

Posted by jbc at 04:40 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cote on the WMD Fallacy

Owen R. Cote, Jr., associate director of MITís Security Studies Program and a coeditor of the journal International Security, has written a powerful indictment of the Bush administration's approach to dealing with WMDs: Weapons of mass confusion. He points out that nuclear weapons on the one hand, and chemical/biological weapons on the other hand, are distinctly different problems. By pursuing policies that treat them as one and the same, Bush & Co. are hampering their own effectiveness and exposing us to horrible dangers.

Cote's arguments sound solid to me. See, this is why we have experts. Because to really smart people who have specialized knowledge and lots of experience in particular fields, thorny problems are significantly easier to break down into their component parts and solve. Listening to experts doesn't always mean the resulting policies will succeed, but routinely ignoring them is a pretty sure prescription for failure.

Which is what we have with George Bush. He doesn't trust experts. He trusts his gut. As a result, decisions on matters ranging from defense against terrorists to invasion of other countries to dealing with global climate change are being made by a man who is notoriously uninterested in critical thinking, and who instead substitutes the dimly understood urgings of his own psyche and the advice of a tight circle of ideologues and political tacticians.

So, do you feel safer?

Thanks to Janus/onan for the link.

Posted by jbc at 10:14 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 20, 2003

Hymen-Restoration Surgery

I'm not going to comment on this, beyond posting the item. You get to assign your own meanings. From ABC News' Lynn Sherr: Like a virgin. (Thanks to Aaron/Hiro for the link.)

Posted by jbc at 05:40 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

MoJo on the WaPo on Jessica

So, I've gone from ignoring the sweet little waif to being the All-Jessica, All-the-Time weblog. For your Jessica-obsessed pleasure, Mother Jones' Daily MoJo has the latest on the Private Lynch meta-discussion: Pfc. Lynch: Cut! It's a wrap!

They come down closer to Craig's take on this than my own, siding with a recent Slate piece that criticized the Washington Post for having soft-pedaled their own role in hyping the bogus version of the story initially. Also has some interesting links to back-and-forth sniping between CBS and the New York Times over their respective maneuvering to get the exclusive post-amnesia Jessica interview, and discussion of the question of how journalistic ethics are to be maintained in an era when honest news reporting might well be at cross-purposes with the aims of the news organization's megamedia parent.

Update: And courtesy of Craig in the comments on the previous Jessica item, here's Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece in the New York Times: Saving Private Jessica. Offers some really interesting tidbits about the ambulance trip just prior to the rescue: Kristof's sources say she was slated to be killed in an Iraqi propaganda ploy, but that her ambulance driver talked the military triggerman out of it with an appeal to God.

Wow. I think the Movie of the Week rights are getting more valuable, not less.

Posted by jbc at 02:22 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Dirty Tricks Campaign Against Dean & Clark?

Kynn of Shock & Awe has posted some interesting information about people apparently masquerading as Clark supporters beating up on Dean, or Dean supporters beating up on Clark, in the Yahoo Groups forums for the respective candidates: Trying to set Dean and Clark supporters against each other.

Interesting. And totally believable, at least to me. Indeed, I'm sure the response from certain quarters will be, yeah? So what?

You mean people actually lie online? *gasp*

Yeah, well, us lefties are like that. Kumbaya, give peace a chance, building a better, more-inclusive future for all humanity. Sheesh. What a bunch of chumps, huh?

Posted by jbc at 10:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Whitman's Not-So-Comprehensive Environmental Report

Much ruckus being kicked up regarding the New York Times' article, yesterday, that blew the whistle on the White House having so watered down the section on global warming in the EPA's upcoming big-ass report on the state of the environment that it was eventually decided to just remove that section altogether: Report by the EPA leaves out data on climate change. Editorial/opinion pages are pretty universally taking up the call against such politicization of scientific findings. From Derrick Z. Jackson in the Boston Globe: Bush fries climate change. SunSpot: More revisionist history. And the NYT itself: Censorship on global warming.

It's part of the same pattern that gave us sexed-up evidence of Iraqi WMDs. Bush & Co. have little use for expert opinion that doesn't square with their political agenda. Yeah, I realize all politicians do the same thing to some degree, but with Bush it's off the charts. And since simply pretending very, very hard that things are true that really aren't, or aren't true that really are, has a poor track-record in terms of actually changing reality, this becomes pretty scary for anyone who has to live with the consequences of the resulting decision-making.

Posted by jbc at 09:55 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Lesh: It's the Security, Stupid

Writing at Democratic Underground, Thomas Lesh makes a case I can pretty much agree with: Carpe Diem. He says the current Democratic leadership is being too timid in attacking Bush's inept foreign policy, that being an effective opposition to the current train wreck of a ruling regime means articulating a credible alternative on the issues people care about. These days, that means national security. Of course, that would entail taking some risks, rather than trying to drift with the current of public opinion, waiting for the polls to change before popping up at the head of the parade. Which basically disqualifies most of the politicians we currently have at a national level.

In reviewing which of the Democratic presidential contenders lives up to this higher standard, Lesh dismisses from the get-go anyone who voted in favor of the war resolution, meaning he dismisses my current favorite, Kerry, and focuses on Dean and Kucinich as the only viable choices. (I suppose you could throw in Wesley Clark, assuming he stops being coy and enters the race.)

I've been leaning toward Kerry mainly for that Clinton-inspired "electability" factor: I've been trained to believe that in order to win the presidency a Democrat has to be a politician first and a leader second. But it's true that Kerry's war resolution vote is problematic. As the anonymous, droll, permalink-challenged foks at the WSJ's OpinionJournal put it recently:

For the sake of argument, let's say Kerry is right and Bush perpetrated a sham. In a hypothetical general-election match-up, who would you rather choose to deal with hostile foreign leaders: a guy who's capable of pulling off such an elaborate deception, or the sucker who fell for it?

I'm not sure how Kerry solves that problem, at least in terms of satisfying someone like me. But then my cynical side observes that it doesn't matter if Kerry can satisfy me; it only matters if he can satisfy enough of Middle America to get elected. And I'm very much in the anyone-but-Bush camp.

Still, it would be nice to believe in somebody for a change. Maybe I'll start paying more attention to Dean.

Posted by jbc at 08:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2003

Kinsley: WMDs No Longer Matter

Slate's Michael Kinsley writes some of the most intelligent stuff I've seen on WMDs in a while: Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? It doesn't matter. I especially like his comments on the meaning of recent poll results, in which a large majority of respondents, even those who clearly haven't been anywhere near actual data in a long time, are convinced they have the straight dope.

Verily, we live in the Age of Mutually-Exclusive Certainties. Wild.

Posted by jbc at 11:38 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

9/11 Survivors Pissed at Bush

Here's an article from Salon that's worth enduring the click-through ad for the one-day pass: Bush's 9/11 coverup? It goes over some things I've harped on here before, with some additional details.

I'm really pretty outraged about this one, and more, about the apparent willingness of large chunks of the country to turn a blind eye to it. All that righteous anger that was on display in the wake of 9/11; where'd it go? You remember? "Never forget?"

Posted by jbc at 12:49 PM | view/comment (9) | TrackBack (0)

Palast on the Media on McKinney

Here's a fun story from Alternet's Greg Palast: The screwing of Cynthia McKinney. Well, fun if you're not Cynthia McKinney, or someone who cares about the truth-value of what passes for journalism in this country.

Posted by jbc at 12:47 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Berlow on Bush Lawyer Alberto Gonzales

Here's an interesting article from Alan Berlow in The Atlantic on the legal briefs prepared by Alberto Gonzales, then-legal counsel to Governor Bush of Texas, concerning upcoming executions: The Texas clemency memos.

I guess the tendency of Bush to lean towards simplistic, slanted portrayals of potentially complex issues, even in the face of severe consquences for wrong decisions, isn't anything new. And the picture gains additional relevance in that Gonzales is apparently the most-frequently-cited prospect for a Bush nomination to the presumed upcoming vacancies on the US Supreme Court.

Oh, joy. Another Clarence Thomas.

Posted by jbc at 12:40 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Life in These United States (Or Not)

Alan Bisbort, writing in the Hartford Advocate, talks about something that a lot of us have probably been thinking about lately: Luck of the Irish. Basically, he considers some of the costs and benefits, should Bush win (re-)election in 2004, in emigrating to another country.

Of course, I don't see any reason why a recent US emigre would expect to find a particularly warm welcome overseas. What must they think of the US these days in those other countries? Our principal exports to the rest of the world lately are unprovoked invasions and radio DJ prank phonecalls. Polls show that disturbingly large numbers of us are full-on idiots. And so on.

Still, even though the US character can be assumed to lean heavily toward the desire to light out for parts unknown when the going gets tough (such motivations having served as the principal source of US immigrants through the years), I'm not going anywhere. I intend to stay, and to be as annoying as possible while doing so. So there.

Posted by jbc at 12:31 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 18, 2003

NYC Flash Mobs

From Daypop, and not to be missed: Flash mobs take Manhattan. This is so New York.

Of course, we Southern Californians have our own version of this. It takes place every day, on the 405 freeway.

Update: See also this account of the event in question: Mobs rule! And also these additional photos.

Posted by jbc at 06:02 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 17, 2003

This Just In.......Joseph Goebbels Is STILL Dead!

This will come as quite a buzz kill for those who seem to believe that Joey and his Nazi cronies are alive and well within Bush's Administration. The media microscope is steadily coming closer into focus on the details of the Private Lynch story. The Washington Post has gathered the most information yet, from a larger pool of sources, of the events, from the ambush of the US convoy to Jessica's rescue and recovery. Of course, there are still some conflicting stories to shake out, and some missing pieces. Interestingly, apart from some purposeful willingness on the part of the Pentagon and White House to not jump in very quickly to correct some positive details that the initial media scrum was cranking out, it seems a great deal of the "Hollywood" storyline to this incident was due to the media feeding on each other's flawed information. Not really the carefully scripted propaganda story that is being credited in some circles to Joseph, er, I mean, Ari, Donald and the rest.

Granted, the microscope of truth will continue to bring the facts even more into focus. But what appears to be becoming clearer is the ever-increasing likelyhood that this Hollywood tear-jerker was not made in D.C.

Posted by Craig at 08:16 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Laughing at Ari Some More

Fun White House press conferences today: Transcript: White House Daily Briefing, June 17, 2003. I especially like this exchange:

Q: Ari, a quick two-part question. You said there will come a time
when the President engages in political activities. How will we know
when that happens? (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER: You're not trying to lead me somewhere with that type
of question, are you?

Q: Never, Ari.

MR. FLEISCHER: Very judicious of you.

Q: Will you be landing somewhere? (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER: I hope you enjoyed it. (Laughter.) Your network surely
did.

As I've said before, I really am going to miss Ari. There's lots of other good stuff in the transcript, including hammering on Ari about WMDs, about which the president is sticking to his guns, at least as far as Ari is concerned. And his (the president's) supporters continue to do their best to shore him up; witness the following editorial from today's Washington Times: What credibility gap?

Posted by jbc at 02:34 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll Shows Many Americans Believe WMDs Found AND Used

The polls keep getting better. By which I mean, worse. Dumber. Wronger? Something.

Anyway.

War poll uncovers fact gap. According to a recent poll from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, a third of US citizens believe US forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Twenty-two percent believe such weapons were actually used by Saddam's forces during the recent war.

Whoa.

Interesting discussion by the people who conducted the poll, trying to figure out how so many people would believe something that not even the president's strongest supporters on the WMD thing claim to be true. "Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention, this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance," said Steve Kull, director of the program. You think?

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Hartmann on the Bush/Adams Connection

Here's a really interesting article by Thom Hartmann on the history of President John Adams and the Alien and Sedition Acts, including comparisons with what is going on these days: An earlier "Patriot" law brought down a president.

Posted by jbc at 01:38 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Dyer on the Emerging Iraq Quagmire

Either Gwynn Dyer is reading Steve Gilliard, or they're both coming to the same conclusions independently: US faces long, hot summer in deadly tinderbox.

Posted by jbc at 01:29 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Krugman on Bush's Domestic-Security Failings

Paul Krugman's latest New York Times column is dead on, focusing on what I seriously believe could be the issue that defeats Bush at the polls next year: Dereliction of duty. He points at the Washington Post piece on Rand Beers that I mentioned yesterday, and goes on to talk about some of the ways Bush is failing to deal with the terrorist threat effectively.

Posted by jbc at 01:13 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wise on Taking Action

Here's a little uplift, courtesy of lies.com reader and link-suggester extraordinaire Pilar: The recent commencement address delivered by Tim Wise at Grinnell College: Cleaning up the funk.

Posted by jbc at 10:43 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Baghdad Museum Redux

I never posted anything about the Baghdad-museum looting during the full-on phase of the war. It just didn't seem as important to me as the stuff about actual people getting blowed up and all that. But now that it has turned out that a lot of the hand-wringing about the US troops standing by while priceless antiquities were being looted was not exactly accurate (or even just flat-out untrue), conservative war supporters are paying gobs of attention to it.

So, here you go, fans of equal-opportunity lie exposure. Courtesy of Andrea Harris' Too much to dream, a trio of recent items on the Baghdad-museum non-looting: Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, John Malcom Russel in the Washington Post: We're still missing the looting picture, and from The Guardian's Rory McCarthy: Staff revolt at Baghdad museum.

Posted by jbc at 10:28 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 16, 2003

Beers on Why He Quit Team Bush, Joined Team Kerry

Lots of people are linking to this article in the Washington Post, according to Daypop: Former aide takes aim at war on terror. Again, I'm seeing a big, powerful criticism of Bush emerging. It's not just lefties concerned about Bush's ferocious assault on progressive causes. It's anyone who's both concerned about terrorism, and smart enough to see that Bush's approach to fighting it basically sucks.

Posted by jbc at 04:42 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

British Government: Trailers Not Bioweapons Labs

Keeping the Bush administration's track record perfect, a British government investigation has concluded that the two trailers in northern Iraq (the ones pointed to by Bush on the Polish stop of his recent European trip as the smoking gun in the Iraqi WMD hunt -- "we've found 'em") were in fact for producing hyrdogen gas for weather balloons: Iraqi mobile labs nothing to do with germ warfare, report finds.

Bush supporters seeking to reduce their cognitive dissonance are encouraged to focus on the source of this story (those left-leaning Brit journalists), or on the notion that the trailers were designed to be instantly convertible to bioweapons production at some hypothetical future date. But the pattern repeats, yet again: Big headline: POSSIBLE WMD DISCOVERY!!! Followup, weeks later: Oh, well, I guess not. But we'll keep looking.

Yeah. You do that.

Posted by jbc at 04:14 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Conyers: Bush Deceit an Attack on Democracy

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) gave a speech in the House of Representatives a week ago that The Smirking Chimp has reprinted in full: Bush administration deceptions about Iraq threaten democracy.

This is where the Republican victories in the 2002 elections come back to haunt us. We could really use a little checking and balancing right now, but with Republicans in control of pretty much the entire federal government, it just isn't happening.

Posted by jbc at 08:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cleland: Immoral, Unjust, and Unacceptable

Speaking to a Democratic gathering in Atlanta recently, former Senator Max Cleland took the gloves off in attacking Bush's record in the "War on Terror." The full text of his remarks is given in the following column at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Max returns, with fire in his eyes.

Cleland, an ex-military man, sounds fairly pissed about all this. He points out that none of the leading lights of the Bush administration (with the exception of Colin Powell) has ever faced combat. He emphasizes the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam. He embraces the president's assertions that we're in a war against terrorism, then lays out how the president is failing to fight that war effectively.

Some of his suggestions for improvement leave me cold (revive the draft?), but I think it's significant that it's not just left-leaning peaceniks like me who are upset about the way things are going. We emphasize different aspects of the Bush train wreck, but we agree that that's what it is.

Posted by jbc at 08:33 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 15, 2003

Marshall of TPM on Kagan on the WMD Debate

So, Adam pointed out the following piece by Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo: I must confess. It's a fairly detailed picking-apart of the fairly thoroughly dishonest op-ed piece by Robert Kagan of the Washington Post from last week (A plot to deceive?).

Yes, there have always been self-serving op-ed pieces that obscure truth in their attempts to shore up a particular position. There have always been lies in the public sphere.

What is new is that the tide of such sludge seems to have risen to the point where it is drowning out honest discussion. Blame whomever you want: talk radio, vast right-wing conspiracies, astroturf campaigns, kids raised by TV shows instead of responsible adults; I don't know. Blame the "liberal media" and rampant political correctness, if those evils bother you more.

It doesn't matter how our civil society got broken. We need to fix it. And we need to start now. I'm not just saying that because my team seems to have been "losing" the "debate" lately. I really don't even care about that, so much. If we'd been having an honest debate, I wouldn't mind if the majority of my fellow citizens ended up deciding that no, my views did not represent the best course of action.

But we haven't even been having a debate. And in the absence of such a debate (by which I mean, people openly discussing the issues in an honest effort to arrive at an appropriate public policy), we've got nothing. No democracy. No freedom. Nothing.

Posted by jbc at 11:20 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2003

Rhona Prescott's Story

Here's an interview from the Library of Congress Veteran's History Project: Stories of courage: Rhona Marie Knox Prescott. There's audio available, too, if you click around a bit. It's the interesting story of what one Army nurse experienced in Vietnam, and some of the problems she had to deal with after coming home.

Facts and figures can only communicate so much. It takes a human observer, a human voice, to communicate some truths. And we need to understand this truth, so we can do our part to help those suffering through the war in Iraq when they come home.

We've already repeated some of the mistakes of Vietnam with this war. We don't need to repeat all of them.

Posted by jbc at 05:44 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gilliard: The Coming Long, Hot Summer in Iraq

Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos offers an extremely depressing analysis of the current situation in Iraq: McKiernan's dilemma. I think if things are even half as bad as Gilliard says, this becomes a key issue in the 2004 elections. It took many years of US casualties to turn the tide of public sentiment against the Vietnam War, but this Iraq quagmire could give us Vietnam on a hyper-accelerated timeline.

Posted by jbc at 11:40 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Truth Unveiled!

You may recall a recent story on a Florida woman of Islamic faith who was legally challenging the State's requirement to have her veil removed in taking her driver's license picture. Of course, the ACLU was eager to support this outrageous example of religious discrimination. When the State Court decided against her claim, in part for compelling reasons of public safety, the ACLU Director remarked that infringing on the woman's religious beliefs because of what others with actual terrorist intentions could do by using this form of concealment, "seems to be a funny kind of interpretation on how the law should apply".

It appears that the actual "funny interpreters" were the ACLU and the Florida woman. And the "law" being misused was Islamic! This blogger notes an Arab News article which denies any such religious requirement to remain veiled for such legally-required documentation. Don't you think the ACLU would at least check with authorities of Islamic law before breathlessly rushing to support a claim like this? That organization was, and could still be, such a viable voice for those who are victims of intimidation or discrimination. But its blatant political agenda has made it a parody of its former self, to the point of near irrelevancy.

Posted by Craig at 10:15 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 13, 2003

Dubya takes a spill

Looks like the "Monkey-in-Chief" was trying to be on the cutting edge of technology, and took a spill while trying to navigate a Segway personal transporter.

I love seeing our tax dollars at work, with Dubya buying some new toys to try out the latest in technology, and almost busting his grape in the process.

Posted by jaybird at 01:48 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mali: What Teachers Make

I've been looking for things with more of a hopeful cast to them, and this certainly qualifies. Via Adam at Words Mean Things: Taylor Mali's What teachers make.

Posted by jbc at 12:36 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rall: Impeach Bush Now

Let's check in with Ted Rall: They impeach murderers, don't they? As usual, Rall pulls no punches.

Posted by jbc at 08:32 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Morford: The Impossible Dream of a Kucinich Presidency

Mark Morford has an interesting piece in SFGate: Your vegan, holistic president. He indulges in some heartfelt imagining about a country in which universally-dismissed-as-unelectable Dennis Kucinich sits in the Oval Office.

I remember watching on television as Jesse Jackson delivered his address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. At the end of it I felt inspired. I felt the stirrings of a hope that eight years of the Reagan presidency had beaten down into a small, stunted thing inside me. And then, moments after the speech ended, the network commentators came on and basically said, well, Jackson has certainly scuttled whatever chances he had in American politics with that speech.

I'm tired of having my hopes and dreams filtered through someone else's idea of what's "possible." I've paid little attention to Kucinich up to now, largely because he's been dismissed by the media as an also-ran. Likewise with Dean; I've shied away due to people arguing that a Dean nomination would be a "disaster" for the Democratic party.

Well, screw that. It may well be that someone more mainstream, like Kerry or Gephardt, ends up getting the nomination. If so, I'll doubtless vote for him. I want Bush gone in the worst way. But in the meantime I want to be a whole person, one not ground down by the certainty that things will never change. I want to decide myself whose vision I believe in, whose ideas I'm inspired by. It's my birthright as an American.

It's important to be practical. But it's also important to dream. Thanks to Morford for reminding me of that.

Posted by jbc at 08:28 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Franken Interview from BuzzFlash

From BuzzFlash, as reposted at Alternet: Al Franken and the lying liars. It's a Q&A about (among other things) the appearance Franken did on CSPAN a short time ago, where he called Bill O'Reilly a liar over his (O'Reillly's) repeated claims to have won Peabody Awards. Like the statements he made at the Book Expo, Franken goes beyond just griping about that specific lie to talk about the larger issue of the right-wing media "echo chamber", and the need of the left to counter it by getting their own story out there.

Posted by jbc at 07:12 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Beeman: Bush Is in Trouble

Via This Girl Thinks comes word of this Alternet reposting of William O. Beeman: Barbershop wisdom says Bush is in trouble. It's a thoughtful piece, and makes some interesting points about American attitudes toward war and how Bush may be on very thin ice as the sales job he did starts to unravel.

I think Beeman might be a bit too ready to pull this particular tea leaf out of the pile and divine the future from it, but it's a future I'd like to believe in, too, so here's hoping.

Posted by jbc at 06:55 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2003

In Search of.....

Allow me to add more to the steady drone of WMD talk.

This from an Iranian official, stating that Iranian intelligence also believes Iraq was hiding its weapons from U.N. Inspectors. Admittedly, a source that is not always a baston of truth and integrity.

This former Iraqi intelligence officer gives more fodder to the explanation of a merely dormant weapons program with the structure in place to become active quickly once the heat was off, and also lays out the level of creative deception that was occurring. He also provides a reason for Saddam not being forthcoming with the fact that his weapons were destroyed.

It will be interesting to see which path the evidence takes once things begin to be uncovered. If there really is solid proof regarding a weapons program on "stand-by" status rather than "active" status, with no appreciable amounts of usable WMD around, Bush will be stuck in a bit of a gray area. He can at least say that Saddam's intent was never to disarm but merely to wait out world resolve before actively re-producing his lethal arsonal, for use or for sale. But he'll still have to squirm mightly to explain to Congress, the American people and the world, why he said there was an imminent threat posed by active WMD that wasn't really there. Was it an overstatement of a calculated assumption, based on the only pieces of the information puzzle that he had to work with? Or was it a deliberate misrepresentation of intelligence that showed slim likelyhood of any kind of active weapons threat in Iraq? Neither answer will be good, but Bush could survive the former scenario relatively well if he can at least prove a "spring-loaded" biological/chemical production infrastructure ready to go into action at any time.

Even so, the price would still be paid in a degree of erosion of US credibility in the world and an increased reluctance within the US for future pro-active military responses.

Posted by Craig at 08:06 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Upward Spiral

I'm not linking to anything today. There's plenty of news on the subjects of my various obsessions, but I don't feel like commenting on any of it. I especially don't want to get caught in the trap of picking some part of a downward spiral and claiming it is the point of origin, thereby laying blame for the whole mess on one side or the other.

I'm taking a time out today. I'm asking myself what I want to do with the time I have left, however much or little that ends up being. I know I can't fix everything that's broken: the world, my country, my city, my circle of friends, my family, myself. I just want to move in the right direction. I want to travel along a spiral heading upward, not down.

I want to take a walk on the beach. So that's what I'm going to do.

Posted by jbc at 02:28 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2003

Waxman: Knowing Deception or Unfathomable Incompetence?

I think this is probably one of the strongest statements I've seen yet regarding Bush's lies on Iraqi WMDs. It's the full text of a letter sent by Henry Waxman to Condoleeza Rice yesterday, demanding an explanation for why Bush made WMD claims in the State of the Union address that were based on obviously forged documents: Waxman: 'Explain why you cited forged evidence'.

Some additional congressional maneuvering is discussed in this USA Today story: McCain: Don't delay Iraq hearings.

Granted, with both houses of Congress in Republican control, the deck will be stacked against those trying to use hearings as a forum for presenting the truth on this stuff. But the lies were so blatant, I just can't see how they can successfully sugarcoat it.

Posted by jbc at 03:42 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gilliard: Civil War in Iraq by July 4

Steve Gilliard of Daily Kos is moving up the timeline yet again for when he thinks the situation in Iraq will have reached the stage that can be justifiably characterized as "civil war": Delusions. Following up on a USA Today article (Official: US not read for Iraq chaos), he discusses the difficulties we're likely to have in rounding up peacekeeping troops from the other members of our much-ballyhooed "coalition", given the extremely negative attitude toward our war and occupation in those countries.

To recap: On April 10, Gilliard specifically did not predict civil war, but laid out the signs that would let us know one was coming: How Iraq could devolve into civil war. On June 6, he said the situation would indeed be a civil war "well before September": No end in sight. And then today, this latest prediction of a civil war by July 4.

I'm not sure that the sky is really falling. Rumsfeld would no doubt dismiss this with some weirdly sarcastic mixed metaphor. But we've got an easy test: if the violence in Iraq settles down noticeably over the next three weeks, Rumsfeld wins a point. If it ramps up, with the size of the engagements increasing, point to Gilliard. If it stays more or less the same... I guess we get to keep arguing about what it all means.

Posted by jbc at 02:55 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

HumanDescent's Photoshop Bestiary

Here's one of those things that you come across during random surfing (apologies for having lost track of where I came across the link) that just makes you lean back in your chair and say, "whoa." Anyway: HumanDescent's page at b3ta.com. Update: Oh; the real site of the user in question, with even more wackiness, is here: HumanDescent.

Posted by jbc at 01:54 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

WMD Redux

Time for the morning batch of Smirking Chimp-derived articles about the administration's WMD problem. From Jules Witcover: Not buying revisionist sales job on Iraqi weapons. Richard Gwyn: Bush's weapons of mass deception. John Prados: Hoodwinked. Rupert Cornwell: Accountability missing in Bushland.

And a bonus link: From Salon: Can Bush be toppled? It's a collection of Democratic pols weighing in on Bush's beatability next year. The article itself is only borderline worth enduring the lame Microsoft ad to get the "one-day pass", but the illustration of a Bush statue being pulled down before cheering crowds is definitely worth a look. Heh. Kudos to Bob Watts, Salon's art director.

Posted by jbc at 08:19 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 10, 2003

The CSM on the New National Pastime: Nation-Building

The Christian Science Monitor has a thought-provoking piece on how Fearless Leader, who once mocked Democrats for their nation-building proclivities, has managed to commit us to not one, not two, but three such projects, all at the same time: Building three nations at once (referring to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine).

Bush has high hopes for the last one, at least, despite the events of the last few days (see this piece from the BBC, for example: Bush upbeat on Mid-East peace plan). Of course he does; he's still in that first manic flush of energy, when he believes that his innate Texan directness can cut through all those thorny complications that have thwarted previous efforts. We haven't gotten to the ugly stage when his political handlers begin to separate him from the process, to disassociate him from the emerging failure, to shift the blame, to change the subject, to raise the National Terror Alert Level to REALLY, REALLY BRIGHT ORANGE or maybe even PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN BURGANDY.

Sigh. Someone clearly needs to stop obsessing about this stuff for the day, and take the kids bird watching.

Posted by jbc at 06:15 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Nigerian Email Conference

From Danthar comes word of this droll link: The 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference. Heh. See you there!

Posted by jbc at 05:56 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

More on Iraqi Civilian Deaths

The AP has published the results of a preliminary accounting of the number of non-combatant fatalities in Iraq: AP tallies 3,240 civilian deaths in Iraq.

The approach they used makes this very much a lower boundary, rather than a complete count. What they did was to go to about half the hospitals in the country, including most of the largest ones, and do interviews and examine death certificates. People whose bodies never made it to a hospital didn't get counted. People who died in hospitals that didn't distinguish between combatant and non-combatant casualties didn't get counted. People who died before March 20 or after April 20 didn't get counted. Overall, this sounds to me like it matches up pretty well with the earlier estimates of between 5,000 and 10,000 civilian dead.

That's a lot of innocent dead people. I remember driving my daughter to school on September 11, 2001, and having her ask me on the way why it was such a big deal that those buildings had collapsed. I told her, "Because when they collapsed they were full of thousands of people." Seeing the realization dawn on her 10-year-old face of what that meant isn't the worst of my memories from that day, but it's one that has stayed with me.

So hey, congratulations, America. In our fear and anger over those events, we've managed to inflict a comparable toll on the innocents of one country (Afghanistan) whose leadership arguably had some measure of responsibility for the events of that day, and a toll two to three times higher on the innocents of another country (Iraq) whose leadership arguably had nothing whatsoever to do with the events of that day.

So can our national scared/angry-toddler routine be over already? Have enough 5-year-olds had their bodies turned into bloody hamburger to appease our collective reptilian hindbrain?

Sigh. Thanks to janus/onan for the link. I guess.

Posted by jbc at 05:52 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Melanie Griffith's Scary Face

From British tabloid The Sun, courtesy of Daypop: Face up to the facts, Mel. Not Michael Jackson yet, by a long shot, but yeah, scary.

Posted by jbc at 10:06 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest WMD Developments

It's interesting to watch the process play out. Isolated bitching is turning into a steady chorus: Bush and the members of his team lied shamelessly to exaggerate the Iraqi WMD threat in the months before the war. Those making these claims don't just have a "smoking gun," they have a whole smoking arsenal.

Bush, on the other hand, has bupkis, and has begun the process of backtracking. Answering questions during one of those Reagan-esque not-quite-a-press-conference exchanges that allows him to pick and choose a question or two to answer, then feign deafness to follow-ups, Bush said yesterday he remains "absolutely convinced" that we will uncover evidence that Iraq had a "weapons program." Not weapons, mind you, but a weapons program. He used the phrase three times in one brief response. From the LA Times: Bush tempers talk of weapons.

Right. But see, that wasn't what you said, repeatedly, emphatically, and without qualification, in selling the war.

Checking in with the columnists: From Robert Scheer: Bad Iraq data from start to finish. From Paul Krugman: Who's accountable? And from Geov Parrish: The impeachable offense.

Posted by jbc at 07:54 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 09, 2003

Scary Neocons 101

Jay Bookman has a piece at Information Clearing House (again, suggested by Glen & Pilar), that does a really good job of laying out the background of the PNAC folks, and explaining just why Bush might have chosen to invade Iraq: The president's real goal in Iraq.

It's not as easy to reduce to a picket sign as those "blood for oil" and "he tried to kill my daddy" explanations, but it has the benefit of actually accounting for the available evidence (or, in the case of the WMD justification, the available non-evidence).

Again, this particular piece won't give any shocking revelations to anyone who has been paying attention, but it does a really nice job of "connecting the dots." (Heh. We can use that expression, too.)

Posted by jbc at 04:33 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Right-Wing Pundits' Double Standard on Patriotism

Here's a nice smoking-gun piece from Fair.org, courtesy of those excellent link-suggesters Glen & Pilar: Dissent, disloyalty & double standards. Basically shows how people like Hannity, Limbaugh, and Savage apply radically different standards for what constitutes "patriotic dissent" and what constitutes "treasonous backstabbing of our men and women in uniform," based on which party's president ordered the troops into harm's way.

Not like this is a shocking revelation or anything, but it's good to get the examples down in black and white for those few who might be both unaware of this kind of deception and capable of being influenced by having it exposed.

Posted by jbc at 04:24 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 08, 2003

Doesn't anybody sanity check headlines anymore anymore?

Here's a whimsical little headline I saw on NTK today. I'm no expert on the editorial practices of major news sites, so I don't know if it was pulled from MSNBC due to a brief moment of good judgement, or if that's just policy for AP stories that are a week old -- but god bless news.google.com for pointing out plenty of other places that carry the same story.

Posted by hossman at 10:37 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Phillip Carter on the Too-Small Occupation Force

Dipping back into some of the militarily-informed commentary I was feeding on steadily during the Iraq war proper, I came across several links to this piece, by Phillip Carter writing in the Washington Monthly: Faux Pax Americana. Basically argues that yeah, Rumsfeld's small, agile, high-tech invasion force can indeed defeat an enemy on the cheap. But it can't necessarily hold the resulting conquered territory afterward.

On the shelf of nearly every Army officer, you'll find a book by retired Col. T.R. Fehrenbach on the Korean conflict titled This Kind of War. At the end of World War II, confronted by the military revolution brought on by the atomic bomb, America cut its military from a wartime high of 16 million down to a few hundred thousand. Bombs and airplanes--not soldiers--would now protect America's shores and cities. After fighting as a grunt in Korea, Fehrenbach thought otherwise. Transformation was great for the Air Force and Navy, but for the Army and Marine Corps, the essential nature of warfare remained unchanged.

"You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life," wrote Fehrenbach. "But if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud." It's time Don Rumsfeld brushed up on his Fehrenbach.

There's a storyline that ties these sorts of criticisms together, and I think it's an important one in terms of working against Bush in the 2004 election. People like me are already going to vote against Bush, at least if we can avoid sinking into depressed apathy. But the swing voters who will actually decide the election aren't going to care about a lot of the stuff I talk about here. Bush lied? BFD. They want someone who can protect the country against a scary world. So do I, for that matter.

So talk about the combination of arrogance and naivete that leads people like Bush and Rumsfeld to ignore the warnings of the career military types when deciding when and how to go to war. Weird ultralefties who froth about cabals and conspiracy theories are easy to dismiss. Generals with decades of military experience who question Bush & Co.'s ability to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires may get more of a hearing.

Posted by jbc at 09:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kagan on WMD 'Lies'

Robert Kagan has a column in the Washington Post that makes fun of the notion that Bush lied about Iraqi WMDs: A plot to deceive? It's clever, and entertaining, but I think it's basically an example of the straw man fallacy. Those claiming Bush lied are not arguing that Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction. They're saying that Bush misrepresented ambiguous evidence as being much more certain than it actually was, in order to build support for an immediate invasion, as opposed to the slower approach represented by things like sanctions and continued UN weapons inspections. Which, as far as I can see, is a legitimate criticism. True, it's not as bad as if Bush had invented the idea of an imminent Iraqi WMD threat out of thin air, but it's still dishonest, and needs to be looked at carefully by anyone being asked to believe what Bush says in the future.

Posted by jbc at 08:49 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Gilliard on Bush's WMD (non-)Lies

Here's a provocative piece from Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos: Is Bush lying? Interestingly, and, I think, insightfully, Gilliard thinks the answer is no. In Gilliard's attempts to make sense of Bush's actions with respect to Iraqi WMDs, he comes to the conclusion that rather than being a liar, it is far more likely that Bush (and Rumsfeld) have simply been played for marks by adept conman Ahmad Chalabi.

Posted by jbc at 08:27 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

NYT on WMD Intelligence

Today's New York Times contains the following editorial: Was the intelligence cooked?

Righty bloggers have no doubt already swung into action, linking the "idiocy" of the editorial to the same muddled thinking that gave us Jayson Blair and the Raines resignation. But I wish they could forget the messenger for a minute, and concentrate on the message. It's important. It's also clear, unambiguous, and untainted by elliptical distortion.

Maybe it was just reading those accounts of Leo Strauss's appeal for an actual questioning dialog, one that seeks to illuminate the truth, rather than the kind of partisan sophistry I've been wading through lately, but I'm getting tired of people whose claims of certainty increase rather than diminish when the evidence supporting their position starts eroding.

More detail comes from the Times' Week in Review piece by Steven R. Weisman: Truth is the first casualty. Is credibility second?

Update: The Washington Post takes a similar, if more restrained, position in its own lead editorial today: Hunting Iraq's weapons.

Posted by jbc at 08:08 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Building a Better Lie Detector

Actually a fairly boring article in the classic gee-whiz mode, but I can't resist linking to it. From CNN: New research aims to catch liars in the act.

Posted by jbc at 07:52 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Defense of Leo Strauss

Despite a BS in political science from a major university (earned 20 years ago, though), I'd never heard of Leo Strauss until his name started being brought up by critics of the neocons in the Bush administration, reputed to be Straussians all. I still don't know much about Strauss, but the following pair of pieces, found on some random righty blog I've since misplaced, argue that letting Bush's critics color my perceptions of the man might not be the best idea.

Anyway, some of the things said here about Strauss sounded interesting. Proceed at your own risk: From the NYT, an op/ed piece by Struass's daughter: The Real Leo Strauss. And from the Jerusalem Post's Bret Stephens: Hands up, Straussians!

Posted by jbc at 07:49 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 07, 2003

More Creativity With Wolfowitz

Just to add to the train wreck of journalistic integrity that has occurred as a result of Wolfowitz's comments recently, I've discovered that another media player has decided to one-up Guardian by simply ADDING quotes to what he said!! This interesting blogger reveals Pravda's take on Wolfowitz's comments. Also included is some additional explanation (or backpedaling/damage control) by Guardian on their error regarding this story.

Posted by Craig at 08:53 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Girls Teach FBI Agents a Thing or Two

Here's a fun link, courtesy of Aaron/Hiro: Girls teach teen cyber gab to FBI agents. Update: And now, thanks to the wonders of ymatt, a new topic icon! Woo!

Posted by jbc at 12:18 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Burgess-Jackson on the Irrelevance of Motives

Keith Burgess-Jackson shows off his philosophy skillz in Bush's critics meet the logic police. His main point is that Bush's having lied about why he was going to war is not relevant to an analysis of whether the war was justified.

Either there is a justification for the war (objectively speaking) or there is not. If there is, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. If there isn't, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. Either way, it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush.

There's an interesting game he's playing here. Yes, it's true that the question of whether or not Bush lied about his motivations is orthogonal to the question of whether or not the war was justified.

We can construct a matrix of possibilities:

Didn't LieLied
JustifiedIII
Not JustifiedIIIIV

If you ask any given person whether the war was justified, and whether they think Bush lied about his motivations for waging it, you can map which of the four sectors that person falls into, in terms of which sector they believe accurately describes reality: Sector I (Bush didn't lie, war was justified), II (lied/justified), III (didn't lie/not justified), or IV (lied/not justified). War supporters would land in sectors I or II; opponents would get III or IV.

Any one of the four sectors is a legitimate contender at the outset. What Burgess-Jackson is arguing is that the mere fact that Bush was known to have lied wouldn't mean that everyone automatically had to move to sector IV; there could still be a safe haven for war supporters in sector II.

Which is true enough. But it kind of misses the point. The articles claiming Bush has been dishonest aren't only about the horizontal dimension of the graph (didn't lie/lied). They're also about the vertical dimension of the graph (justified/not justified). See, Bush's stated motives have basically been a laundry list of every conceivable justification for going to war. If a bunch of those justifications turn out not to be grounded in reality, then yeah, it will mean Bush was probably lying, and the partisan folks at the New York Times or the Guardian are going to make hay with that. But it will also weigh heavily in any rational determination about whether the war was justified. Not because Bush was lying per se, but because of what it was he was lying about (namely, the evidence he supposedly used in making his own decision about whether the war was justified).

It's significant, too, that there are war supporters who aren't even seriously considering whether the war was justified. They're simply taking Bush's word for it when he says that it was. In a sense, such people are guilty of the same logical fallacy Burgess-Jackson accuses the liberal media of: conflating the question of Bush's honesty with that of the war's justification, albeit in the opposite direction. (I believe Bush is telling the truth; therefore, the war is justified.)

I suspect Burgess-Jackson of intentionally obscuring these points. Still, it's an interesting argument that he makes. Thanks to those clever partisans at The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web page for the link.

Posted by jbc at 01:41 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2003

Gilliard on the Coming Iraq Civil War

Here are a couple of really scary Steve Gilliard pieces at Daily Kos: No end in sight and Iraq Sunni cleric calls for jihad. He predicts Iraq will be in a full-fledged civil war before September.

We are facing a total collapse of our Iraq policy not within years or months, but weeks. If the pace of combat increases and we have to hunt down guerrillas through every village, and deal with platoon and company-sized ambushes, we will be fighting to hang on.

I think this could get very Vietnam-esque. Would we stay, and pay that terrible price, or leave, and watch Iraq fall to one anti-US faction or another?

The person elected president in 2004, whoever he or she is, is going to need to have a plan for dealing with this. And it seems increasingly possible to me that that person is going to be a Democrat.

Posted by jbc at 11:08 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

College Coaches Gone Wild!!

Sure, you can waste your money on those cheesy videos of promiscuous co-eds, but to see the REAL partiers you need to follow the antics of today's college coaches! Their summer tour of the human vices such as alcohol (Larry Eustachy) and sex (Mike Price) has moved on to gambling with the recently announced troubles of Rick Neuheisel. The soon-to-be-late University of Washington football coach is sweating out his college administration's impending decision on his future after admitting that he bet $5,000 in a NCAA basketball pool. I've included a national story and a local one which illustrates Coach Rick's casual attitude toward ethics and established rules of the NCAA, and his stale act of feigned surprise that he did something wrong. This has been Rick's MO during his tainted tenure with several college football programs now, so maybe all the Athletic Directors out there will finally wake up to his scam and not hire him to infect another school with his low-bar integrity.

With leaders like this coaching trio shaping the character of so many young athletes, it shouldn't be surprising to see many of them merely following the example that they're shown.

Posted by Craig at 09:05 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gilliard, Dean on the Consequences of Missing WMDs

Can't throw a rock in the air without hitting an opinion piece on the significance of missing Iraqi WMDs. Here are two particularly interesting ones.

First, from Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos: Why the snipe hunt matters. I really like Gilliard (in case you hadn't noticed). He has his opinions, sure, which you may or may not agree with, but he doesn't beat you over the head with them. He just lays out what he thinks, and backs it up with his reasons for thinking so, and leaves it up to you to agree or not.

Second is this piece that really got me, from John Dean: Missing weapons of mass destruction: Is lying about the reason for war an impeachable offense? Dean answers in the affirmative, and his argument seems pretty solid, at least to me, though there are a few factors that would tend to lessen his credibility. For one, he apparently takes the original Guardian story about Wolfowitz's "swimming in oil" comment at face value. Second, well, he's John Dean. Is there anybody in the world willing to trust John Dean?

As I wrote the first time I saw someone mentioning impeachment in the context of the fraudulent war justification, I think impeachment talk is an energy-suck without much (any?) potential payoff, except maybe that it helps hammer home the message that what Bush has done is far, far worse than anything Clinton did with Monica. If that pisses you off enough for you to want to punish him, fine; punish him by making sure he ends up a one-termer, just like his dad.

Anyway, enjoy.

Posted by jbc at 05:30 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Griping About Republican Astroturf

Writing in WeeklyDig, Brandon Keim complains about an RNC campaign to plant faux "letters to the editor" in publications across the country: Insincerely yours. I remember this issue coming up in the last election; apparently it works well enough that we can expect lots more of the same.

Posted by jbc at 04:48 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cook: I Told You So, Too

Robin Cook, who resigned from Tony Blair's cabinet over the decision to go to war, makes some interesting observations in this op-ed piece from the LA Times: Shoulder to shoulder and stabbed in the back (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk works for the login).

Basically, he points to the widening gap between Blair on the one hand, and the Bush administration on the other. Unlike Bush, who used a shell game of ever-morphing justifications for the war, Blair focused squarely on WMDs. Now, Blair is forced to maintain with increasing stridency that the WMDs will be found, while Bush is gradually moving to a position of "Well, we had to pick something to base the war on, and that seemed like the thing everyone could agree with," or "Yeah, maybe the weapons aren't there. But they were there once, and Saddam would have made more eventually, so it really doesn't matter."

Granted, Bush himself isn't saying those things yet. But that's clearly the direction the administration is headed, based on recent comments from Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

Posted by jbc at 10:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Morris on Hillary

Dick Morris isn't buying Hillary Clinton's timeline for what she knew and when she knew it. From the National Review Online: Hillaryís fable: The lie she's sticking with.

Posted by jbc at 07:49 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Pitt: I Told You So

William Rivers Pitt of Truthout has a nice summing up of the WMD thing, and the price he believes Bush should be required to pay: We used to impeach liars.

It's no secret that I'm basically with Pitt on this one. I don't think the WMD evidence was ever credible, so I don't see anything particularly shocking in the non-results coming out of the post-war WMD hunt.

If you bought the WMD evidence initially, you're in a more difficult position. You can continue to believe Bush, and argue, like that guy debating the smooth-moon theory with Galileo, that Iraq is covered with vast stockpiles of invisible chemical and biological weapons (with a few invisible nukes thrown in for good measure, if you're a bigtime Believer).

Or you could argue that, like you, Bush and Co. were the victims of a major "intelligence failure." It wasn't their (or your) fault you were mistaken; it's those darn mid-level managers who fed you unreliable data. We'll call this the Challenger-disaster approach.

Or I suppose you could just face the reality that the emperor has no clothes. But unlike the fairy tale, the emperor in this story will never acknowledge his nakedness. He'll continue to strut and pose as if he's fully dressed, and a significant fraction of the townsfolk will, by virtue of their having long ago given up any pretense of objectivity, continue to nod approvingly and dismiss the criticisms of their opponents.

Posted by jbc at 07:43 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Danish Priest Denies Existence of God

Here's an interesting one. From the BBC comes the staid AP version of the story: Doubting Danish priest suspended. Thorkild Grosboel, a Lutheran priest, has given an interview in which he said, "there is no heavenly God" (among other brow-raising statements).

For a slightly more-fun version of the story, see Christianity Today: Danish pastor suspended after denying God, eternal life, and resurrection.

Posted by jbc at 06:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lyin' and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Big news day for lying yesterday.

As pointed out by Craig in the comments on the Is Wolfowitz Serious? item, the Guardian has acknowledged that they misrepresented Wolfowitz's statement about Iraq "swimming" in a sea of oil: Corrections and clarifications. So Onan's immediate questioning of the spin being applied to the remarks, and Craig's swift assertion that the interpretation was bogus, are both vindicated.

I don't think there's any way to sugar-coat what they did at the paper. It wasn't an innocent mistake. It was a gleeful pouncing on a suggestive turn of phrase, in full knowledge that the spin being applied to it was misleading. It demonstrates that the Guardian's partisanship interferes with their ability to truly inform their readers. I have a long memory about those sorts of violations.

Meanwhile, quite the hubbub on this side of the Atlantic regarding the resignation of New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines and his top deputy, in large part over the Jayson Blair debacle. From CNN: Analysis of New York Times resignations.

Both these stories are interesting to me on a meta-level. Note how both the Guardian and the Times are actually acknowledging their own lies, and taking responsibility for having misled people. That doesn't excuse what they did. But it does mean there's some higher standard that they're aware of, and are willing to acknowledge that they haven't met.

Compare this, say, with what currently passes for political leadership in this country. Can you imagine Bush or Clinton simply coming out and admitting to the lies that virtually everyone knows they told, and actually taking an appropriate degree of responsibility for what they'd done?

Yeah, neither can I.

Posted by jbc at 06:43 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2003

Sammy's (and Baseball's) Dilemma

What would baseball be anymore, it seems, without some controversy or scandal? This article provides a good set up of Sammy Sosa's troubles, with some pro and con opinions. But is a corked bat really all that helpful? Some researchers seem to have some scientific doubts about it. I found two columnists who have starkly different takes on the player and the controversy. One, from Chicago , and the other, Skip Bayless, who seems to be taking some cheap shots at Sosa by piling on some other accusations that may be unfair to tag directly on him. What's the matter Skip, did Sammy turn down an interview request one time?

For myself, I am willing to give Sammy the benefit of the doubt. Although he has never impressed me as being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, and he tends to play the media and the baseball public with his "I love baseball and everybody" image, I don't think he would knowingly risk his icon status with the baseball public with such an unnecessary gamble. He seems to value and respect his standing back in the Dominican Republic and takes that role model image there personally.

Can a player make an unthinking and careless mistake and grab the wrong bat from the bat rack? I'd think so. Sosa has broken many bats during his career without a similar incident. And all his other bats, have checked out clean. And based on Sammy's eager-to-please persona, I don't doubt he brings out a corked bat during batting practice to try to give the pre-game fans a thrill.

Then again, that same persona could tempt him to use any advantage, real or psychological, to get an extra edge and maintain that Slammin' Sammy image.

Only he may know for sure.

Posted by Craig at 08:55 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

The No-Fault President

The problem I have these days isn't finding articles that talk about high-profile lying; it's wading through the vast sea of such articles to find the most interesting ones. Anyway, here are a couple from today's crop at The Smirking Chimp that deal with Bush: First up, from David Corn in The Nation: Where's the outrage? And from Marie Cocco in Newsday: Bush presents US with no-fault presidency.

Posted by jbc at 11:32 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Loeb, Wallis on Finding Hope, Losing Fear

We live in a time of lies, surrounded by cynicism and examples of our own powerlessness, writes Paul Loeb at WorkingForChange. But we can't lose perspective. Reclaiming hope: The peace movement after the war.

In a similar vein, Jim Wallis wants to pass on some wisdom he received via a voicemail message from his 4-year-old son, Luke: Don't be afraid.

I found these pieces this morning, and wanted to rush out and put them on the site, but I needed to come up with an appropriate topic first. So there you go. Peace.

Posted by jbc at 06:24 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 04, 2003

Martha to be somebody's bitch?

She lied to the SEC. She lied to the FBI. And this isn't about her hiding her secret recipe for chicken tartar. The question remains on whether or not she is going to go to jail for misleading investigators over a paltry $229,000.00. But at least its going to be entertaining to watch her squirm in the courtroom!

Hey, maybe we can talk jbc into giving us a daily update on her wardrobe throughout the trial.

Posted by jaybird at 05:39 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Wolfowitz Serious?

Paul Wolfowitz, the visibly-vibrating-with-barely-contained-excitement nerve center of the neocon cabal currently running the country, has been making some very odd statements lately. First there was his recent admission in Vanity Fair that the WMD justification for going to war was chosen for "bureaucratic reasons." That news cycle is barely dead, and he's back in the headlines for having announced to an Asian security summit that the reason we went to war with Iraq, rather than with North Korea, is that the former is "swimming" with oil. From The Guardian: Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil.

Another nice piece on the whole WMD thing, by the way (which, given the title, I can't resist) is the following from Mother Jones: Liar, liar.

Posted by jbc at 12:16 PM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

Is Bush Serious?

After looking more like a fratboy at a kegger than a sober statesman in most of the images to come out of the European stops on his current trip, Bush apparently got serious upon arriving in the Middle East. He reportedly met with five Arab leaders with only translaters (and no handlers!) present, and was so caught up in this whole "leader of the free world" thing (or is it religious fervor?) that he persisted in speaking his own words even when Egyptian TV cameras were rolling (though apparently that was an accident). Anyway, interesting stuff. From the NYT: On camera but unaware, Bush displays his fervor.

Posted by jbc at 07:19 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Sharon Serious?

Aaron passed this story on to me, with the comment, "Holy fucking crap. Sharon might actually be serious about this." "This," in this case, is the whole roadmap thing, including recent statements by Sharon that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are an "occupation" that needs to be ended. Which is sort of like Bush using a press conference to push for US energy independence achieved through tough new fuel-efficiency standards and a special tax on gas-guzzling SUVs.

My own take is that the extent of Sharon's reversal, and the timing of these statements, are pretty suspicious. I'm inclined to view it as political payback to Bush for the overthrow of Saddam, with a lot of surprising talk now, but an eventual reversion to the Sharon we know.

Anyway, here's the story: Sharon mystifies, scares supporters.

Posted by jbc at 06:55 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2003

A New Wrinkle On Jessica?

Media Research Center gives this new NBC report on Private Lynch's rescue. They provide some information to dispute some of the earlier BBC/ABC accusations such as the use of blanks and just how recently the Iraqi military was present at the hospital. Interesting to hear, since I still find it hard to swallow that a military force would be sent into any battle zone with only blanks.

However, in fairness to the conspiracy-types out there, it should be noted that NBC also still plans on developing a movie on the rescue of Lynch. Could their News Department be stretching their journalistic integrity to save their Entertainment Department's future big ratings blockbuster? Hmmmm........

Posted by Craig at 07:00 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Village Voice on the Aftermath of the Hotel Palestine Killings

You'll all recall the day when a US tank fired a shell into the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad, killing two European journalists. Now the relatives of one of them have asked a Spanish judge to extradite three members of the US armed forces to Spain, where they face war-crimes charges. The Village Voice has a nice piece on it: They shoot journos, don't they?

The Voice takes a predictably pro-journalist stance ("In a moral universe, there is no excuse for killing journalists under any circumstances," for example). But the really interesting part of the story comes toward the end, where it talks about AP reporter Chris Tomlinson, an embed who supposedly overheard a US officer freaking out on the radio after the shell was fired: "Who just shot the Palestinian [sic] Hotel? Did you just fucking shoot the Palestinian Hotel?" It's interesting, see, because it tends to support a different interpretation than the heavily-spun version of the event the military has been selling.

Bigtime thanks to readers Glen and/or Pilar for the link.

Posted by jbc at 04:39 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Krugman on Bush's War on Facts, Perry on Terror Alerts

Paul Krugman raises the level of concern in his personal Homeland Security Alert system, citing the way that the systematic and brazen distortion of the facts by the Bush administration has reached a level "never before seen in US history": Standard operating procedure.

In a somewhat-thematically-related piece, Steve Perry writes about how the real terror-alert system is a heads-I-win,-tails-you-lose proposition for Karl Rove's (re-)election schemes: Who's your daddy?

Posted by jbc at 12:14 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tucker Max, Miss Vermont, and Judge Diana

Here's a really wacky story about a really wacky guy and the really wacky girl he was dating for a while, and the really wacky judge who issued an order telling the first he couldn't write things, even true things, about the second on his web site. From the New York Times: Internet battle raises questions about the First Amendment.

To fullly appreciate the wackiness, you'll need to read the pre-restrained version of the party of the first part's web site. Which, conveniently, you can do using Google's cache (at least for the moment): The Miss Vermont Story. You'll probably also want to check out Miss Vermont's web page: http://www.katyjohnson.com/.

A couple of observations: First, the judge obviously went way too far in restraining the ex-boyfriend's speech. I guess it's like business-method patents: if something takes place on the Internet, the technically challenged assume it is something completely new, not subject to the old rules. But it is subject to the old rules; speech is still speech, and telling someone he can't tell the truth about his life and his experiences is bogus.

Second, Katy Johnson and Tucker Max were made for each other. Both of them are using the Web as a forum for promoting their weird, twisted versions of how they'd like others to see them (and to promote books they've written based on that twisted reality). For Katy, it's about her chastity, and sobriety, and her blonde, wholesome, chirpy goodness. For Tucker, it's a chance to strut proudly on a stage of his own imagining, where everyone is agog at his incredible powers to seduce, to charm, to bedazzle with amusing anecdotes, to treat women as vessels for his seed, and to get really drunk and throw up on himself.

The reality comes through best when the outside observer can compare each of their accounts with the other. Which, sadly, the judge has said she's not going to allow.

Thanks to Danthar for the links.

Posted by jbc at 09:25 AM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)

June 02, 2003

Lights, Camera, Fiction!

For those who may have watched the movie on FX yesterday on the real-life bank robbery and police shootout with those two heavily-armed, body armor-wearing guys in North Hollywood a few years ago, here is an article on the riveting story's feeble reenactment to a TV movie. Interesting how often an isolated yet compelling episode of real life becomes listless and full of inaccuracies once scriptwriters and producers get ahold of it and feel the need to add more "drama".

Posted by Craig at 07:28 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Borchers on Coulter

A helpful reader forwarded the following link, in which someone named Daniel Borchers goes on at length about just how vile Ann Coulter is. And man, when you gather it all togther like that, is she ever. Anyway: Jayson Blair & Ann Coulter -- Separated at Birth.

Posted by jbc at 01:43 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sullivan on WMDs

Andrew Sullivan gives what strikes me as being just about the strongest possible case one could make in defense of having waged war on Iraq absent actual evidence of Iraqi WMDs: So where are they? Basically, he argues that they still could show up, and even if they don't, it doesn't matter, because Saddam was a Very Bad Man and he would have eventually gotten around to making them and giving them to terraists.

Posted by jbc at 01:34 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gilliard on Rumsfeld

Nice rant from Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos about Donald Rumsfeld: Secretary of everything.

Posted by jbc at 01:15 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Parry on America's Matrix

If you took just about every political rant I've posted on this site in the past year and tied it together in one article, you'd have... a really long article. Only you don't have to, because Robert Parry already has: America's matrix.

Posted by jbc at 09:10 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lindorff on Impeachment

Dave Lindorff, writing in Counterpunch, argues that even if Bush isn't defeated at the polls next year, a Democratic majority in congress could lead to high-profile fun of the impeachment variety: It was the lying, right?

Posted by jbc at 09:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 01, 2003

Photography Lib

Legal handbook for photographers includes a downloadable PDF for field use. Thanks to kottke.org.

Posted by jbc at 11:01 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

More WMD Heat for Blair

While Bush has fun playing president in Europe, Tony Blair is coming in for some grown-up-sized criticism regarding the WMD thing. I found the following analysis in The Scotsman interesting: Blair: Dossier will prove we were right to have Iraq war.

Posted by jbc at 10:08 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Two Towers Wins Some Awards

So, here I am biding my time until December, when ROTK appears, or at least until November, when the extended-edition TTT DVD appears. In the meantime, though, my fanboy juices were set flowing by the following: Rings grabs four MTV Movie Awards.

Yeah, they're not the real awards; just the silly MTV variety. But I'll take 'em.

Posted by jbc at 10:03 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

WMD Plot Thickens

Media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic are running lots of pieces on the question of Iraqi WMDs. From The Guardian: Straw, Powell had serious doubts over their Iraqi weapons claims. From MSNBC: Pressure mounting on Bush and Blair as weapons hunters find no unconventional arms. From the New York Times: Powell defends information he used to justify Iraq war. From the Washington Post: Tenet defends Iraq intelligence. And from Reuters: US insiders say Iraqi intel deliberately skewed.

Meanwhile, the story containing the "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit." quotation from Colin Powell has now made it to US News and World Report's website. See the following interesting article: Just how good was America's intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass terror? So the folks at Islam Online and AFP were telling the truth about USNWR saying that, and Craig will need to come up with another explanation for why the rabid leftwing media hasn't made more of the story so far.

Posted by jbc at 08:21 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)