July 31, 2003

Stryker on Military Recruiting Practices

Yet another really good item from Stryker: So you want to join the military... Besides the overall coolness of his pointing out how military recruiters are (by intention) indistinguishable from commercial salespeople, I really liked this part:

So you want to join the military? The first question that naturally pops into your head is, "Which service should I join?" Well, what do you want? The answer to that question ought to help put you on the right path. Do you want to get into the thick of it? Do you want to enjoy a structured life or a more lenient one? What kind of job or what type of training are you looking for? Are you looking for a career that'll translate into a good paying job on the outside or do you want to blow shit up?

Heh. Sir! Blow shit up, sir!

Posted by jbc at 10:58 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

How to Tell if Your Boyfriend Really Plays Bass in a Major Rock Band

Okay; last Salon link for today. From Cary Tennis' advice column: Guitar grifter? Cary's correspondent is a group of friends of a well-off young woman who has been smitten by, and is now engaged to be married to, a man who says he is a bass player for a major rock band. The friends have reason to believe he might be lying, and want to know how they can talk the bride-to-be into hiring a private investigator to check the guy out.

Nonono, responds Tennis. She can find this out easily without needing to resort to professional help (at least assuming she's willing to entertain the question at all). He then explains how. So, if you might conceivably find yourself in similar circumstances, be sure to check it out.

Lies.com: serving your information needs for nearly a fourteenth of a century!

Posted by jbc at 08:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Boehlert on US Security Post-Iraq

Since you already got the one-day Salon pass to view that excellent James Woods interview (you did, didn't you?), you might as well read this piece, too: Are we safer now? Writer Eric Boehlert wades into some murky territory and emerges with a mixed result: some experts loudly assert that yes, the Iraq war has made the US significantly safer from al Qaeda-style terror. Another batch of experts asserts just as loudly that no, we've been distracted and have squandered vast amounts of money and attention on a side issue, leaving us more vulnerable, not less.

I don't expect this piece to change anyone's mind. There's enough ambiguity there for either side to be able to shore up its position against outside assault. But it's an interesting question, one that will go to the heart of the national referendum on George Bush's leadership we'll be having next year.

Those who take their informed-citizen duties really seriously might also want to hold their noses and dive into the extremely deep pool of facts in this recent New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer: The search for Osama. It includes some interesting speculation on just what's going on these days with the hunt for that other evildoer, the one to whose name Bush seems to have developed an accute allergic reaction in the last year or so, judging by his unwillingness to actually speak it in public.

Posted by jbc at 08:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

James Woods Interview in Salon

It's kind of hard to categorize this one. It's an interview with actor James Woods by Salon writer Amy Reiter, and it's definitely worth watching the MCI commercial (or whatever) to get the one-day pass for it: Woods on fire. He's promoting his new movie, Northfork, so it should probably go in the "Movies" category, but the interview actually ends up being about lots of other things, like whether or not George Bush is a moron and why people on the left-wing can't admit that it was a bad thing for Bill Clinton to put a cigar in Monica Lewinsky's vagina and whether it's important that WMD have not been found in Iraq and so on. On balance, I think the thing the interview is "about," more than anything else, is the nature of celebrity and the larger context of people like Woods doing interviews like this, so that's the category I chose for it.

I certainly don't agree with all the conclusions Woods comes to. But I certainly do agree with some of them. And his comments about the frustration of dealing with people whose minds are already made up on every political issue struck a chord with me, given the kind of ranting I've been doing on this site lately.

Posted by jbc at 07:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2003

Perry: Bush's Top 40 Lies

Steve Perry has this interesting round-up: Bring 'em on: The Bush administration's top 40 lies about war and terrorism.

It's a one-sided account, to be sure. Perry withholds the benefit of the doubt from Bush and his people at every turn, while extending it to any critical-of-Bush claim quoted in a major news outlet.

For myself, I'm satisfied that most, if not all, of these "top 40 lies" are, in fact, cases where Bush and his handlers were intentionally misleading people. But in counterspinning the Bush team's own spin, Perry actually ends up losing me.

The truth is out there, but it's delicate. It's a snowflake; breathe on it and it melts. It's a butterfly; catch it in a net, and its fragile body is torn apart. It's a reflection in a still pool; lean too close and you break the surface, shattering the image with ripples.

Once you start applying your own spin, you can pretty much forget about knowing reality. True, the resulting illusions will be your illusions, and there's a definite comfort in that, especially for those sick of having illusions fed to them by others.

And the alternative is, frankly, terrifying. How many people are willing to face up to how little they really know? Reality is a scary thing. What if the world actually makes no sense whatsoever? What if Bush is neither the capable, forthright leader, nor the bumbling, mean-spirited, serial failure? What if he's just some guy, surrounded by a bunch of other guys, doing their honest best, but hampered by their own human failings and by a world that no one, really, can control?

Welcome to reality.

Posted by jbc at 08:20 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 29, 2003

He who dies last, still wins

I know that newpapers tend to prepare obituaries in advance, so that they're ready to print when someone old and famous (like Bob Hope) dies, but this is ridiculous. Vincent Canby died in 2000.

Posted by hossman at 11:20 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stryker on Conspicuous Displays of Patriotism

Hopefully the display of doctrinal impurity won't cause any of your tiny little minds to explode, but someone else whose commentary I really have been enjoying lately is Stryker, of Sgt Stryker. Including his latest item: We've gotta talk about your flair. Besides the really cool Office Space reference in the title, he just makes a damned good point about something that bothered me in pretty much the exact same way about a post at Windsofchange.net (The public display of patriotism test).

Posted by jbc at 06:19 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iraq War as Retribution for 9/11

George Paine at Warblogging.com is one of my favorite war-obsessed webloggers these days. So it was interesting to see him respond to a critical email he received last night, from someone describing himself as a newly returned soldier in the 3rd Infantry Division: A letter from the Third ID.

As I read through that exchange, and as I read through the postings and discussions on various pro- and anti-war weblogs, it seems like the debate over the war's justification comes down to one question: Was Saddam Hussein either directly or indirectly involved in perpetrating the 9/11 attacks? Or, if not, do you think he was likely to involve himself in such attacks in the future? If you answer that question with a "yes", then you probably supported the war. If you answer "no", then you probably didn't.

The people who seem most confident in their positions for or against the war also seem to be the ones most sure about the Saddam-9/11 connection (or lack thereof). In the pro-war camp, I was struck by this item from 9/11 widow Christy Ferer, describing her participation in a recent USO tour in Iraq: A note of thanks to those who serve. Her account reinforces what I see on pro-war weblogs: for those currently or previously in uniform, the tight linkage between Saddam and 9/11 is pretty much a given.

For people who've never paid much attention to the world beyond the US border, the category "Arabic bad guys" is sufficiently all-inclusive to make this a non-issue. But others offer a more-nuanced version of the same position. Check out the opinion piece from righty weblogger Steven Den Beste that ran in the Wall Street Journal last week, for example: We won't back down. Den Beste's argument is a lot longer than Ann Coulter's prescription for world peace ("we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity"), but they share the same wellspring, which is the normal human impulse to see every major world problem as susceptible to the same, simple solution: just make everyone else in the world much more like me (at the point of a bayonet, if necessary).

See? Problem solved.

In general, simple solutions are a good thing. Einstein famously observed, "Everything should be made as simple as possible -- but no simpler." It's the "but no simpler" part that worries me here. A "solution" that involves the forcible conversion (or extermination) of some 280 million Arabs seems, how shall I put it, cumbersome. As in, not going to work.

So I think we need another solution. It almost certainly won't be as simple. But it will have the even greater virtue of actually having a remote chance of success.

Update: George Paine goes another round with his military correspondent: Continuing the correspondence with Third ID.

Posted by jbc at 12:02 PM | view/comment (8) | TrackBack (2)

July 28, 2003

Spinsanity on the Iraqi Uranium Story

The folks at Spinsanity have an interesting summary of who's been lying about what with respect to Bush's State of the Union allegations about Saddam's efforts to obtain uranium from Africa: Lies, spin and truth in the controversy over Iraq's alleged pursuit of uranium. They do a good job of cataloging the major falsehoods we've heard on this from the Bush administration; they also have a long list of media folks who they believe have gone too far in painting Bush as having intentionally made a false statement in the State of Union address.

Interestingly, my own reaction to this story these days is mainly one of low-level nausea. I'm disgusted with those who persist in extending the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt, but I'm also beginning to have a toxic reaction to my own ongoing bitching about it.

You know what? If you really want to believe in Bush's essential honesty at this point, and possess sufficient credulity to maintain that belief, more power to you. I'm done arguing. And while I'm unable to share it, I envy you your faith.

Posted by jbc at 10:27 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Voices in the Wilderness or tools of a dictator?

Last month I had a short debate with a fellow reader of this site regarding the degree of suffering and economic damage brought upon the people of Iraq by the UN sanctions that have been in place for more than a decade. He felt that the sanctions were directly hamstringing the Iraqi Government from providing the level of service and infrastructure repairs needed to provide food and healthy water to its people, especially its children. I countered that the sanctions, though ineffective in pressuring Saddam to comply with UN requirements, had little to do with any significant food or health issues in Iraq. Such problems (at least the ones not purposely exaggerated) were more due to the unwillingness of Saddam to direct available money and materials to remedy a situation that he preferred to use for propaganda purposes.

We each provided links to bolster our opinions. Among his links was a reference to Voices in the Wilderness, an activist group which was deeply critical of the effects of the UN sanctions. However, this story has now appeared, in which a former member of that group now believes that his organization naively (or purposely) compromised their moral ideals by helping Saddam promote the false impression of a US-led victimization of the Iraqi people due to its single-minded effort to punish Saddam's regime.

I don't know if this former Voices member is giving the full unvarnished truth or not (i.e. whether he had a falling-out with the group for some reason and now has an ax to grind), but it gives an interesting view of how some people, in their dogged determination to call out the "repressive and criminal actions" of the US and its accomplices, can find themselves with an ironic bedmate.

Posted by Craig at 09:30 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

FutureMap: betting on Terror

If someone told me that there would be an organization running a stock market style pool in which the general public could "bet" cash on acts of terrorism, assissinations, and other military incidents in the Middle East -- it would't have surprised me at all. But when I never would have guessed that the Pentagon would be behind such a money making scheme. I saw it via a local station, but Google News has more links, including the scoop on how it seems to be getting shut down faster then it started.

Posted by hossman at 05:37 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 27, 2003

Body Integrity Identity Disorder

Interesting piece in Slate, from a few weeks ago, in which bioethicist Carl Elliott discusses an emerging mental disorder characterized by the desire to have one's healthy limbs amputated: Costing an arm and a leg. Thanks to Flit for the link.

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

July 25, 2003

War Without End

In some ways, being at war makes it all so easy. Complex moral dilemmas vanish. Everything polarizes into black versus white, good versus evil, us versus them. "Major combat operations" have ended, but the war goes on, the War on Terror, the war that will never, ever end.

So with the killing of Saddam's son's, Qusay and Uday. They were guilty of horrible crimes, and it was war, and they were part of the enemy's command and control structure, and so they were, of course, legitimate military targets. And the fact that Qusay's 14-year-old son, Mustapha, was also killed is no cause for moral qualms; again, it's war. These things happen.

And the showing of the dead bodies on TV; again, it was necessitated by the harsh realities of war. We're fighting a guerilla campaign against people motivated, in part, by the dream that Saddam's regime will be restored; images of his dead sons help sap their will, at least according to the judgement of Donald Rumsfeld. Remember that stuff about the Geneva Convention that Torie Clark brought up back when it was dead engineers from the 507th Maintenance Company being shown on TV? Well, that turns out not to be so important after all. Military advantage trumps international agreements, for us no less than for Saddam.

And the gruesome media parade that now follows the bodies of Qusay and Uday, as recounted in this story: Reuters Sees Touched Up Bodies of Saddam Sons; again, it's all part of war. Interesting bit there about how our embalming of the bodies to make them look more lifelike doesn't actually play the way we intended in the Arab street, since they don't do such things with their dead. But look; we're Americans. This is how we do things.

I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I'm resigned to the fact that, at least for the duration of the Bush presidency, the War on Terror is not a metaphor, not some marketing slogan like the "War on Drugs". It's a real war, with everything that implies. Hell, I'm surprised we haven't stuck a couple of spears in the ground in front of the Palestine Hotel and put Qusay and Uday's severed heads atop them. Maybe that will occur to someone over the next few days.

The only part that gives me pause is this: Because the enemy in this war isn't a country, but is instead an idea; a vague, decentralized, anti-American antipathy that exists throughout the world, and which is in some ways actually strengthened, rather than weakened, when we oppose it in this particular way, this war will never end. Never.

Get used to those faces: bruised and blackened, or touched up with putty and paint. They're the faces of war.

Posted by jbc at 06:38 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Optical Illusions

From Daypop comes word of this really fun (if slightly nauseating) optical illusion: raareffect.jpg. The circles aren't actually moving, you see.

More fun turned up in a few second's Googling: Akiyoshi's illusion pages and optillusions.com.

Posted by jbc at 05:41 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Couple of Funny Bush Photos

I'm still not sure if it's going to happen on January 20, 2005, or sometime later, but whenever it happens, I am really going to miss the steady infusion of memorable news photos President Bush has given us. Like this one: No, really. My budget plan is about JOBS. That's right; JOBS! And especially this one, in which Bush experiences yet another of the nasty surprises he never expected were going to be part of this gig: Getting up close and personal with limp-wristed pianists.

Posted by jbc at 01:40 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2003

It's a Fact: Chicks Lie About Sexual History

Ok, I admit -- that was a deliberately inflamatory headline ... but that doesn't make it false. A recent study from Ohio State University points out that... some reported gender differences [of sexual behavior] might show up because women don’t always answer surveys honestly, but give answers they believe are expected of them. In this new study, some groups of men & women were surveyed about their sexual history, and others were asked the exact same questions durring a (fake) polygraph test. The average answers from the guys didn't vary much -- but the average answers from the women differed significantly: from 2.6 partners to 4.4.

Posted by hossman at 03:40 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 23, 2003

White House Story on Niger Allegation Changes Yet Again

Good lord. How many times does Bush need to change his story before even his supporters admit the obvious: He's being dishonest about the process that led to his making allegations about Saddam trying to buy uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address.

Anyway. Here's the latest from the Washington Post: Bush aides disclose warnings from CIA. An excerpt:

The new information amounted to an on-the-record mea culpa for a White House that had pointed fingers at the CIA for vetting the speech, prompting an earlier acceptance of responsibility by Tenet. But that abruptly changed yesterday after the CIA furnished evidence that it had fought the inclusion of the charge.

The disclosures punctured claims made by Rice and others in the past two weeks. Rice and other officials had asserted that nobody in the White House knew of CIA objections, and that the CIA supported the Africa accusation generally, making only technical objections about location and quantity. On Friday, a White House official mischaracterized the CIA's objections, saying repeatedly that Tenet opposed the inclusion in Bush's Oct. 7 speech "because it was single source, not because it was flawed."

It's certainly reminiscent of Watergate, where the initial wrongdoing ended up being eclipsed by the ensuing coverup.

As long as I'm slinging yellowcake stories around, here's another good piece that sums up the growing disgust with Bush's attempts to avoid taking responsibility for his own words: Bush needs a 12-step program.

Posted by jbc at 04:10 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 22, 2003

Stryker: Soldiers Are People, Too

Interesting post, and ensuing discussion, from Sgt. Stryker: Your pain and suffering will lead us to electoral victory. Stryker takes exception (I think) to a Steve Gilliard post at Daily Kos, because it views soldiers in Iraq in terms of the political impact of their losing limbs and such. Basically bitches at both major parties for using the military for their own political purposes, and has a very Shylockian tone to it; "if you prick us, do we not bleed?" and all that.

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

Kucinich: 10 Questions for Cheney

Check out the text of this letter sent by Dennis Kucinich (along with two other members of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations) to Dick Cheney, asking him to explain his role in the investigation of claims about Saddam's alleged nuke-reconstitution program: Ten questions for Cheney.

Digression: Those of you trying to paint Dean as a wacko leftist nutjob, by the way, are confused. Dean is into balanced budgets, preserving the death penalty, and letting states decide for themselves about gun control. His healthcare reform plans are about as mainstream and common-sense as you can get (which isn't very surprising, given his background).

It's Kucinich who's the unelectable nutjob. Which saddens me, since I basically believe in every single thing he's advocating. I just don't think this country is ready for his particular flavor of sanity.

But that's okay. It's something to have someone out there willing to call for things like the establishment of a Department of Peace. And send nasty letters on Congressional letterhead to Dick Cheney.

Posted by jbc at 11:44 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Krugman on Patriotism

Paul Krugman's latest New York Times opinion piece focuses on some of the more questionable actions of Bush & Co.: Who's unpatriotic now?

Update: See also this Newsday piece about the "outing Wilson's wife" issue that Krugman mentions in his conclusion: Columnist names CIA Iraq operative.

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

July 21, 2003

RonK on Hastert's, Biden's Nucular Confusion

An excellent piece from Daily Kos' RonK about the misstatements about nuclear weapons made by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) on Meet the Press yesterday: Ignorance reigns.

Posted by jbc at 01:59 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Blaustein on Bush's Economic Policies

UC Berkeley prof Arthur I. Blaustein doesn't think much of what Team Bush is doing to the economy: Leave no millionaire behind.

Posted by jbc at 12:06 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pitt on the WMD Scandal

Here's a really good summing up from William Rivers Pitt of the case against Bush with respect to the use of false and misleading information to build support for the invasion of Iraq: The crime and the cover-up.

Posted by jbc at 12:02 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Partridge: Liberal Fantasies

Earnest Partridge at The Crisis Papers has written a pair of essays that offer divergent views of the next few years in this country. One is extemely pessimistic: America at mid-century. The other is much more optimistic: A new birth of freedom. Both are informed by an unapologetically liberal point of view.

To my mind they're each pretty remarkable, but not necessarily because they're particularly credible. They're remarkable because of what they reveal about the perceptual map of reality their author uses.

Here's an excerpt from the pessimistic piece:

Soon after the re-election of George Bush in 2004, and the "uncovering" by the CIA and FBI of an alleged plot by al Qaeda to set off a nuclear device in New York Harbor, "Patriot Act II" was enacted by the Republican Congress. With this, habeas corpus, and the constitutional rights of citizens to open trials by juries, access to counsel, were all suspended. On the assumption that "you are either for us or against us," as articulated by George Bush soon after the September 2001 attacks, critics of the government were regarded as "traitors." Mere hours before their intended arrests, dissenters Noam Chomsky and Paul Krugman escaped to Canada and thence to the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge. Democratic presidential aspirants Howard Dean, John Kerry and Dennis Kucinich were not so lucky, and have not been heard from since their disappearance in the summer of 2004.

Here's a chunk from the optimistic piece:

Bush’s approval ratings plunged until, by early August, they finally dropped for the first time below 50%, as more than 50% of those polled reported that they were not inclined to vote for Bush's re-election in 2004.

Facing this loss of public support, Bush reached into his trusty bag of tricks for the device that had previously bloated his ratings: In October, he ordered the invasion of Syria which, he said, was hiding the Weapons of Mass Destruction that the US Military had failed to discover in Iraq.

With that, the iron discipline of the Congressional Republicans collapsed. Four Republican Senators, Chaffee, Snowe, Collins and Voinevich, unwilling to be "fooled twice," declared themselves as Independents, joining Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. The control of the Senate reverted back to the Democrats, who promptly rescinded the war resolution of 2002 and adopted a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops in Syria. The Senate then ordered a series of investigations of alleged abuses of power by the Bush Administration.

Soon thereafter, fifteen moderate House Republicans fled the GOP fold and declared themselves independents. The House of Representatives, reorganized under a Democratic-Independent coalition, set up a parallel series of Select Investigation committees, and drew up Articles of Impeachment against both President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Now, despite being basically in agreement with Partridge's values, I can't read either of those scenarios without smiling at how ludicrous they are. And at the same time, I'm grateful to Partridge for putting them out there. Each of us carries around a mental map of reality; each of us embellishes the white spaces representing terra incognita with extrapolations based on what we know, and what we think we know about the extent of what we don't know.

To the timid mapmaker, the unknown is assumed to look more or less like the known. The white spaces on the map get filled in by little islands and cities and coastlines that look more or less familiar. But the person with imagination fills in those spaces with fantasic things: sea montsters and unicorns.

Both maps are right. Both have something important to teach us about the true nature of the unknown. Creating the fantastic version requires more courage, though. I'm grateful to Partridge for that.

Posted by jbc at 11:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2003

NYT Sums Up WMD Story So Far

A really good summary, I think, of what's gone on so far, is this article from the New York Times: In sketchy data, White House sought clues to gauge threat.

One of the things I think this article does well is to honestly present the events as they've happened, without skewing the data to promote a certain side's case. I value that in a media outlet (or a politician).

Posted by jbc at 06:49 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Time on Kobe

Using the headline that 10,000 webloggers considered, briefly, before rejecting as too cheesy, Time Magazine has this: Say it ain't so, Kobe. Includes some detail I hadn't seen before.

Posted by jbc at 06:31 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Other 4019 Words

The good people (person?) at Sadly, No! has the following nice summary of the problems in the rest of the 2003 State of the Union address: Only 16 words you say?

Thanks to Adam for the link, via Barney Gumble.

As long as we're playing games with counting words, go see SpudArt's word-frequency analysis of the 2003 SOTU, and his ranting about it.

Posted by jbc at 03:59 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Gitlin's Advice for Activists

From Salon comes a great raft of advice, courtesy of 60's activist Todd Gitlin: Anyone but Bush.

Posted by jbc at 12:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2003

Nanotech Dockers

From Popular Science, via CNN, via Daypop: Little robots in your pants.

Posted by jbc at 06:20 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Alterman on the Impending Fall of Bush

Eric Alterman tells it like it is on the recent downturn in Bush's reputation and polling numbers: Lyndon B. Bush?

Posted by jbc at 04:13 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

John Gilmore, Suspected Terrorist

Great story about EFF co-founder John Gilmore's removal from a British Airways flight because he was wearing a button that the airline didn't like: I was ejected from a plane for wearing "Suspected Terrorist" button.

Posted by jbc at 12:42 PM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)

Bulwer-Lytton 2003 Results

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest / 2003 Results. Yay!

Posted by jbc at 12:13 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Kobe Bryant: Adulterer (+ Rapist?)

So, Kobe has been charged with sexual assault, and while proclaiming his innocence of that charge, has acknowledged having sex with the 19-year-old ex-cheerleader in question: Bryant charged but declares his innocence.

Several things about this seem noteworthy to me. One of my first reactions was to be impressed by the forthright way Kobe was coming right out and acknowledging the adultery. But then I thought about it some more, and realized that, given the likelihood that Bryant's DNA was inside the alleged victim, the forthright admission can be viewed simply as Kobe taking his best legal option, focusing the case on the issue of consent, which will be more of a "he said/she said" thing.

Yeah, he used purty words when he said it, gazing sincerely at wife Vanessa while apologizing. Reading the quotes later, I wanted to like him, to sympathize with him in his troubles. But I couldn't help playing that scene from the movie Quiz Show in my mind; the one where Ralph Fiennes as Charles Van Doren is testifying before Congress, admitting to having been given the answers in advance. At first the congressmen are falling all over each other to praise him for his candor and courage, until one of them says hey, I don't think we should be praising this guy just for having told the truth about a wrong he committed. Let's not forget the wrong.

I've noticed this same thing lately with supporters of George Bush. There's a conscious looking-away that happens in the run up to the damning admission, an unwillingness to see, to hear, the discordant data. Like a toddler with his fingers in his ears chanting "nonononononono", we try to magically ward off the unwanted truth by refusing to acknowledge it.

As the situation deteriorates it takes more and more energy to resist that truth. Then comes the singularity: The repository of our trust openly admits having committed the wrong we we've been telling ourselves he couldn't have. There's shock, a moment of disbelief, and then the mind gets to work, hastily rebuilding the mental scaffolding. And there's a powerful desire to make the new scaffolding look as much like the old scaffolding as possible.

So that was me, with Kobe, yesterday. He's Mr. Clean Cut, Mr. Maturity, I'd been telling myself. There were rumours about his accuser; previous interactions with the sherrif, trying out for American Idol; maybe he flirted with her and she ran with it.

But no, they actually had sex. The most favorable interpretation for a Kobe fan is that he was not the clean-cut family man he'd been presenting himself as. Like lots of other young men his age, he was thinking with his penis, at least sometimes, maybe a lot, living a lie and rationalizing it. And, as Hiro pointed out, apparently so convinced of his own immortality that he was having unprotected sex with random hotties, even in the age of AIDS. I wonder how that part of the conversation with Vanessa went. I suspect it wasn't quite like the press conference.

Anyway, my Kobe scaffolding has rearranged itself. As you can tell, in the new configuration I'm still skeptical of the rape charge. But there's a hint less certainty to my inner voice. And there should be. I was wrong before. I believed in the old facade, and found out there was a very different reality behind it. Now there's a new facade. What secrets does it conceal?

I don't know. I didn't know before, but now, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, I know that I don't know, at least a little more. Let's see me remember that, now.

Posted by jbc at 11:29 AM | view/comment (62) | TrackBack (0)

Explaining the Farmer's Market Tragedy

Another item from Kuro5hin, this one dealing with the root cause of the recent tragic event in the Santa Monica farmer's market: Pedal error: A brief refresher. Not really "science", exactly, but I thought it was interesting and didn't know how else to categorize it.

Posted by jbc at 09:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Concerning Trolls

In the wake of my recent mention of trolling, this Kuro5hin article caught my eye: The Adequacy Style Troll (AST): A Brief Refresher

Posted by jbc at 09:46 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2003

Noah: It Wasn't the Lie - It Was the Admission

Here's a thoughtful look at the yellowcake story from Slate's Timothy Noah: Why this Bush lie? Part 2. Noah points out that it wasn't the mere fact that Bush lied that sparked the current extended news cycle. It was the (very uncharacteristic) White House acknowledgement of error.

Now, if you've been trolling the righty weblogs lately (as Adam has and I have, at least a little; it's a guilty pleasure), you know that for many Bush supporters there was no lie. Everything Bush said was true. So the circling of the White House wagons and the reversion to form, with every question being answered with a deflection or a non-answer or a statement that "we've already addressed that", is working, at least for those who want to believe. But for a few minutes there we got to see the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, working the levers furiously.

I really love it when that happens. And it goes beyond partisanship. I'm offended when politicians - of any ideological persuasion - tell lies, and it makes my day when they're suddenly standing up there in the TV lights with their pants around their ankles.

I believe in conspiracy theories generally, even though I know that the vast majority of them aren't true. Sure, any particular explanation for the currently inexplicable is probably bogus, but the underlying idea, that the conventional wisdom is wrong, wrong, wrong, feels spectacularly right to me.

So I love it when a politician gets caught in a blatant lie. Any resulting political fallout may or may not be something I'm happy about, but I'm always happy about the way thousands, even millions, of people just had their perceptual framework suddenly wink out of existence, leaving them staring into the bare, dazzling face of reality.

Yeah, things get back to normal sooner or later. But I remember.

Posted by jbc at 08:44 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Snopes Doubts 'Hunting for Bambi' Is Real

Interesting proto-debunking of the "Hunting for Bambi" story from the other day, via Snopes.com: (Inboxer rebellion) Hunting for Bambi. Yeah, now that I look at it, I can see the suspicious parts of the original.

So, I'm a putz. Again. Psych!

Posted by jbc at 08:05 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Three Views of Bush

Here's a trio of pieces, each of them looking at Bush from a different angle.

First, Paul Krugman wants to talk about a different falsehood that was in the State of the Union: Passing it along. It's about the economy, Krugman's main area of expertise, and surprise! Bush's statements there don't hold together any better than the Iraqi war justification.

Next, from Geov Parrish: Romper room. It's a fun, but merciless, attack on Bush and his team, with the organizing metaphor being that where Clinton was a sex-crazed adolescent, Bush and his team aren't even that developed, being instead a bunch of spoiled 7-year-olds, lacking empathy, prone to tantrums, and insisting that it's someone else's responsibility to pick up after their messes.

Finally, Glen sent in a link to the transcript from yesterday's White House press briefing: Transcript for July 17. Some of it's pretty bad; Scott McClellen is doing his best to stay on-message, but when the message is basically, "Hey; the president really wishes you'd just forget everything he ever said, and let him start over from scratch" it's hard to keep the reporters from acting uppity.

Here's an interesting tidbit:

Q Scott, when I asked you about the Cincinnati speech, I asked you if the President knew that the line had been taken out at the direction of the CIA, and you didn't answer the question. It's a simple "yes" or "no." Did the President know?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that -- again, I can tell you what I know. And I know that we've got two different speeches we're talking about here and two pieces of information that were based on some -- well, one that was based on a specific source and a specific amount of information, and it was removed from that speech -- another that was based on broader sourcing. And the President learned after the State of the Union address about these forged documents and the other information --

Q But I didn't ask that.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, Jeanne. I'm telling you what I know.

Q I'm asking specifically, did the President know, back in October, that at CIA direction that this information had been removed from his speech?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I've addressed it based on what I know and the President has stated, when he learned about it.

Q No, I am asking -- it's a "yes" or "no" question, or an "I don't know." It's a direct question. Do you not know?

MR. McCLELLAN: I told you what I do know.

Oh, and there was this really fun exchange, too. Apparently the White House reporters read MediaWhoresOnline:

Q The White House web site has a picture on it of the President going over the State of the Union address and it says he's examining it line by line and word by word. Did he in fact go over it line by line and word by word? Are you going to keep this picture on the web site in light of the controversy? And if he went over it line by line and word by word, why isn't it proper for the President to take more responsibility for his own words?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you know, again, it goes back to exactly what I was talking about, I believe, with David, when we were going through how the vetting process works. There are a lot of people involved in that that have input into it and the bottom line is, the speech was cleared. But we learned some more information later we should not have included it in there. But I haven't seen the specific picture.

Posted by jbc at 06:41 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Naughty Folded Paper

From somethingawful.com, via Beck, comes this fun item: Origami Underground. Includes folded-paper versions of various sexual positions, pooping dogs; you name it.

See what you get when my obsession with Nigerian yellowcake starts to fade? Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by jbc at 11:09 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Team Dean, Team Bush on This Whole Net Thing

Interesting little item that pretty much sums things up: From Howard Dean's official campaign weblog: Morning news roundup for Friday, July 18. Check out the end of the entry, where the following appears:

Finally, Kos points to a NY Times article that reveals how Dean and Bush are polar opposites even when it comes to the minutae of the web:

Under a system deployed on the White House Web site for the first time last week, those who want to send a message to President Bush must now navigate as many as nine Web pages and fill out a detailed form that starts by asking whether the message sender supports White House policy or differs with it [...]

As opposed to, you know, the simplicity of just commenting in the thread below.

I spent the last couple of days reading everything on Dean's web site. It's official. I'm an ex-Kerry supporter. Put me down in the Dean column, right next to Karl Rove. Dean is the man this country needs right now. He's going to be the next president of the United States.

Posted by jbc at 10:49 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Outing Wilson's Wife

I'm not really sure what, if anything, this story means yet. Thanks to Adam at Words Mean Things for the email pointer to David Corn's piece in The Nation about it (Capital Games), but the MetaFilter post (and especially the discussion) about it is awesome: Payback?

It basically asks what Robert Novak was up to in a story he wrote about Joseph Wilson and his wife. But the comments go all over the place, including great stuff like this:

Sometimes, a lie starts off as a mistake. If you fail to acknowledge your mistake, and continue to defend it, it becomes a lie at some point. This happens to children sometimes, when one little "fib" ends up having to be stretched further than the kid intended. Determining the actual moment in which that transition occurs (a process which is ongoing as we speak, because--as someone pointed above--we don't have all of the information yet) is just gamesmanship.

Posted by jbc at 02:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2003

Conason on Rice's Dishonest Loyalty

Joe Conason has a nice column on how Condoleeza Rice has been made to sacrifice her reputation in service to Bush: To show loyalty, Rice lies for Bush.

Posted by jbc at 07:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2003

A Question of Focus

If the Democratic Leadership and the members of the liberal press and blogosphere ever got together to play in a dart tournament, it would never have an ending. They would be too obsessed with chasing all the numbers to ever pay attention to the bullseye.

This "Yellowcake" fiasco is just another smoking gun mirage that has Bush's opposition more distracted than a dog in a mailman convention. Try as they might, their outrage regarding this "lie" is generally being met with a collective yawn by the moderate and Republican voting public, as well as the mainstream world press. This kind of "gotcha" game involving the mysterious world of intelligence-gathering is just too shadowy for most people to feel they are on solid ground in contradicting an Administration's information. It won't take much counter-evidence to firmly sway public opinion back into the "give him the benefit of the doubt" camp. The danger in this scandal-chase regarding the "was this one example in his speech truthful" angle, is that the voting public may smell a greater whiff of desperation than of outrage from Bush's opponents.

So what's the right answer? I and numerous other Conservatives have said several times that the issue which will resonate loudest with us (and, I would suggest, the bulk of public opinion) will still be the establishment of proof of a significant WMD program, either available for immediate use, or in a dormant, ready-to-activate form. That is the "bullseye" that the Liberals should be keeping a steady drumbeat on.

Why? Well, some spinmeisters have been basing their arguments against this Yellowcake Affair by stating that it was only part of many reasons Bush gave for attacking Iraq. True enough. But what is NOT being said is that the MAIN reason given for confronting Saddam IMMEDIATELY rather than on a UN-preferred elongated time frame was the imminent threat to both US and world security that Iraq's cache of chemical and biological weapons posed. This is the basic "was there or wasn't there" outcome that the public will remember and respond to.

But hey, don't mind me. After all, a Conservative might just be trying to throw all the truth-seekers off the trail of that slam-dunk Uranium bombshell which will break the back of the evil Bush regime once and for all!

Posted by Craig at 10:07 PM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

Heuvel on the Rational Opposition

The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel calls for the kind of cross-party-lines joining-of-forces that could actually work against Bush come election time: Coalition of the rational.

Not as much fun as crazed ranting, but worth a look.

Posted by jbc at 04:52 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Morford Goes Off

Here's another fun rant on the current state of the presidency. Maybe it's just because I've been lulled into a false sense of complacency by all the mainstream media types with their measured responses to what's going on, but SFGate columnist Mark Morford's over-the-top-ness caught me by (grateful) surprise.

Bush supporters need not apply (since they won't enjoy it anyway). Others, read on: Nothing left to lie about.

Posted by jbc at 04:38 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

MediaWhoresOnline on SOTU-Drafting Photos

Just one more, please? From MediaWhoresOnline, a really amusing page that leads off with copies of publicity photos, including captions, from the official Whitehouse web site: Photos show Bush rewriting, revising speech (hm. and now that's broken. you can try the current version of the White House page: Behind the Scenes: State of the Union Preparation).

See, it's funny because of the way the White House spin machine at the time had an interest in playing up Bush's personal involvement in crafting the speech, poring over every word to make sure it bore the stamp of his incisive intelllect and hands-on management style. Heh.

The page continues with lots more good, clean, partisan japery on the subject of the State of the Union address. Whee!

Posted by jbc at 10:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

CalPundit on the Big Picture

Let's see; it's been, what, 30 whole minutes since my last item on the State of the Union uranium allegation? Whoa; we're overdue.

So here you go. From CalPundit, a really nice piece called Why the uranium matters. Because it does, you know.

(On the bright side, I can feel my obsession fading. It's an odd feeling, subtle, but unmistakable. I had a similar reaction, a really powerful one, the day Winona Ryder was sentenced, and I couldn't muster even a passing interest in what she was wearing. I guess the depth/length of the obsession is proportional to the intensity of the eventual reaction, or something. Anyway, it shouldn't be long now. Hang in there.)

Posted by jbc at 12:52 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washington Post on the Eroding Case for War Against Iraq

This is an interesting story, mainly because it serves to counter the contention by Bush's people lately that the infamous "16 words" in the State of the Union address weren't important, since the war was justified by lots of other evidence. Well, not really, says the article, at least if you're talking about the Iraqi nuclear program in particular. Since in the days leading up to the speech pretty much every other piece of evidence purpotedly showing that Iraq was actively seeking to restart its nuclear weapons program had been discredited: Bush faced dwindling data on Iraq nuclear bid.

It helps to fill in the gaps on just why the administration would have fought so hard to include such shaky evidence: because they really, really wanted that mushroom cloud image in the State of the Union address. Without it, see, us silly little Americans might have balked at the idea of pre-emptively invading another country. We might have paused and said, hey, wait; this whole UN-inspection thing actually seems to be working.

That would have been a disaster, right? Thank God we avoided that.

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

Additional Detail on the Last Minute of Shuttle Columbia

The New York Times has this interesting, if depressing, story about the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia. I haven't been following this story very closely for a while, so maybe this is old news, but apparently there is evidence that the crew cabin remained intact for up to a minute after the last radio transmission was received: Crew of Columbia survived a minute after last signal.

Posted by jbc at 12:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2003

Paine on the Moussaoui Trial and the Sixth Amendment

Aggravating Hiro, take 2: I know you don't know who George Paine is, and you don't want to, but you really should. Anyway, he's got another great piece: The Constitution and justice. It covers the latest depressing developments in the Moussaoui trial, where the government is taking the position that no, it really doesn't have to give him the right to confront and question the witnesses against him. And if, as seems likely, the judge tosses the government's case on Sixth Amendment grounds, the government intends to just turn around and charge Moussaoui as an "enemy combatant," and try him in a military tribunal, where they won't be hampered by such "technicalities".

I am so not going to miss John Ashcroft when he's forcibly returned to private life. And please, may enough of my fellow citizens join me in my sense of outrage that that happens sooner rather than later.

Hm. Interesting question: Which news item disgusts me more with what is going on with my country today? This one, or the one I just posted? Hard to say, really. I could make a case for either one, for different reasons.

Posted by jbc at 11:52 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shooting Nekkid Women... for Fun

This one bugs me in its own, special way. From Daypop: Hunting for Bambi.

Posted by jbc at 11:30 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Allbritton on Bush's Weird 'Wouldn't Let Them In' Comment

Partly to annoy Janus/onan and Hiro/Aaron, who agree that my webloggy name-dropping has gotten out of control, but also because it's a really good piece, I wanted to link unto Christopher Allbritton (of Back in Iraq 2.0)'s comments today about Bush's really strange ad-lib yesterday, where he (Bush) said that Saddam wasn't letting weapons inspectors into his country, so that's why we invaded his ass: There is no spoon.

Sigh. First day of the post-Ari era (yet another Janus/onan/Hiro/Aaron annoyance, via the unexpanded reference). I really wish I could have read Ari's explanation of that. Even if it had been the exact same explanation given by newly arisen presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, it would have been more fun coming from Ari.

Posted by jbc at 04:28 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (1)

Well, if we're going to drag out the "god" category...

We can only hope that Mel Gibson's upcoming work will keep in mind that Jesus had short hair! Who knows what sartorial sins today's youngsters might go on to commit without appropriate guidance?

And in further... news [ahem]: a supposed recent bout of tornados in America is apparently Hashem's idea of a communique that the US should not facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state. Maybe his email server is down.

Posted by onan at 03:14 PM | view/comment (8) | TrackBack (0)

Kinsley: Who Lied?

Oops; late arrival. Courtesy of Adam at Words Mean Things, check out Michael Kinsley's excellent observations on the head-scratching over who actually lied when Bush said untrue things in the State of the Union address: Who is buried in Bush's speech?

Posted by jbc at 12:38 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

16 Words, 9 Questions

Here's today's load of articles on Bush's SOTU yellowcake lie. Where do you want it?

From the Boston Globe: Bush trusts CIA after uranium claim. From the New York Times' David E. Sanger: A shifting spotlight on uranium sales. And from ABC News, this really handy timeline of what happened when: Timeline of the Iraq uranium allegations.

Supporters of Bush, understandably, are trying to minimize the significance of this. "It's just 16 words, for cryin' out loud. Give the guy a break." Rush Limbaugh, for one: They never should've caved on Africa line. (Actually, Rush goes farther. In his view, the SOTU statement was "100% true." Heh.)

But see, it's not just 16 words. Those 16 words raise a number of additional questions. Follow the link below, or scroll down, for my take on what some of those additional questions are.


Posted by jbc at 11:02 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 14, 2003

Mel's Cinematic "Passion"

In a story referred to earlier by John, Mel Gibson's upcoming film project on the last hours of Jesus Christ's life on earth has started to receive some advance screenings, and a few more details are coming out about it. Any kind of play or movie that has a central focus on Christ has always been a lightening rod for scrutiny and criticism among the Jewish and Christian faiths. It's apparent already from this story and this one that some serious trepidation is surfacing, especially within some Jewish and Catholic groups. As a Christian, I certainly hope that Mel Gibson is true to his word of a faithful and authentic-feeling presentation of, what I feel, is the most important event in mankind's history (although the dialogue will be entirely in Aramaic and Latin, it now appears that a limited amount of subtitles will be included). It's an impossible job to fully pull off however, since Mel is relying on some Gospels that sometimes differ with each other in the details of those final hours. So what do you include or leave out in a biblically accurate retelling of the Passion Story? Hence, part of the inevitable disapproval. There is also an indication that some non-biblical sources (the writings of several centuries-old nuns) may find some influence within the story. The more problematic issue will be the reaction of the Jewish religious leaders and the Defamation League at any connection of the Jews of that time being involved in Christ's arrest and death. Now, I certainly would be dismayed if the film painted the Jews in some ugly stereotypes and/or suggested that they were either wholly and collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. But I don't believe that will be Mel's intent. However, the fact that a number of the Jewish population and leadership of that time were threatened and angered by Christ's presence, and had a hand in shaping the events of those final hours (along with the Romans) is undeniable.

Does this make all those of Jewish heritage permanently stained by the actions of some predecessors? Of course not. But the hatred and persecution endured by Jews over time has made many of them understandably hyper-sensitive (to a fault) to their depiction in this part of world history (an example of such thinking and a more moderate voice). I hope that the likely predictible uproar that some in both the Jewish and Christian communities will create will not distract people ( both believers and non-believers) from viewing the film without pre-judging its validity, sincerity, and its faithfulness to the scriptures. From all I have now heard about it, the film seems to deserve that chance.

Posted by Craig at 08:34 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paine's Summary of Yellowcakegate

George Paine at Warblogging.com has a really nice summary of the events in the Nigerian yellowcake scandal: What did Bush know, and when?

An important point that some Bush supporters are missing in their faux outrage over the ruckus being kicked up over a "mere 16 words" is that this isn't the only lie the Bush administration has used in its efforts to build and maintain support for the war. Lying about the nature of the threat Saddam posed to the US has been continuous over the last year or more. This lie just happens to have been one that was particularly bald, with an obvious paper trail implicating the liars.

It's not significant because it was some kind of radical departure. Just the opposite. It's an example of the kind of thing that has become routine in the Bush administration. And it sucks.

Posted by jbc at 04:28 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2003

Doonesbury on Media Bias

Fun Doonesbury strip today, on a key difference between the liberal and conservative media.

Posted by jbc at 02:11 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

McGovern: Tell the Truth

Here's a piece that really hit home with me. From George McGovern, writing in the LA Times Opinion section: Ignore pollsters -- Just tell the truth.

Sometimes how you play the game really does matter more than whether you win or lose.

Posted by jbc at 10:00 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tenet's October Speech-Laundering

So, today's headline, following logically on yesterday's, is that Tenet, who wants to take the blame for having failed to tell Bush about the problems with the Nigerian yellowcake allegations in time to take those infamous "16 words" out of the State of the Union address, actually successfully intervened with the White House to get similar allegations removed from a speech Bush made three months earlier. Oops.

From the Boston Globe: CIA chief sought to block talk of Iraq arms, aides say.

Every day the story stays in the headlines Bush drops in the polls. Cool. Hm. Who's scheduled to appear on Meet the Press today? Rumsfeld and Bob Graham? So that sounds like we'll get quagmire and the 9/11 cover-up, rather than Nigergate, but that should still be good for another point or two on the "Do you support the president?" question.

Posted by jbc at 09:11 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush's OTHER Big SOTU Lie

From Adam at Words Mean Things comes word of this excellent article on that other big whopper Bush told in his last State of the Union address: Ex-officials dispute Iraq tie to al-Qaida.

Of course, it's not really a different lie; it's the other half of the first one. Taken together, the two assertions (Saddam is actively trying to build nuclear weapons, and is perhaps just months away from having them; Saddam is working directly with al Qaeda) were the slam-dunk that cemented the support of the US public and Congressional Democrats for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Because, you know, we get that whole mushroom-cloud-over-US-cities image in our minds, and in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that's guaranteed to get a powerful reaction.

Even as debunked by things like Tenet's mea culpa and the article linked to above, the idea still has traction with lots, maybe even most, of the people in this country. The way the reasoning goes is something like this: Okay, Saddam wasn't actively trying to get Nigerian uranium. But he could very well decide to get some from somewhere else at some point in the future, and if the UN eases up on him he might eventually manage to join the likes of Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea in actually having nuclear weapons. And maybe he was only having "episodic, not continuous" dealings with al Qaeda. He was still having dealings with them. He could still decide at some point in the future to get together with them and give them some of those as-yet-hypothetical nukes.

The less we actually know, the more our conclusions are based on that murky process whereby we flesh out the unseen details using whatever it is we do know (or think we know). For someone who has never travelled, never read much of anything, and never mingled much with people outside his own narrow social sphere, it's easy to lump outsiders into the category of "people who don't deserve the same considerations we (that is, members of our own immediate group) do." Throw in a little fear, and that process goes into overdrive. So even if the case against Saddam is sketchy to the point of fantasy (at least in terms of his giving nukes to al Qaeda), that fantasy is good enough for us. The worst thing that happens if we're wrong is that a bunch of Iraqis get maimed and killed, their country's infrastructure gets blown up, and their society is plunged into a state of perpetual violent chaos. But they're just Iraqis, so our fears trump their concerns.

Lashing out violently at everyone around you in response to fear is an understandable reaction. It has real survival value in certain contexts. Unfortunately, I don't think this is one of them. In this case, I think we're being manipulated by people who have their own, largely unstated, motivations for driving us in this particular direction.

So where does Bush fall in all of this? Interestingly, I think he falls more into the category of those being manipulated, rather than those doing the manipulating. It makes him less a villain and more a victim. But either way, the man has no business being president.

Posted by jbc at 08:49 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2003

Blame It on George

So, here's the final act in the song-and-dance Bush's team has been doing all week: CIA director George Tenet has issued a statement taking the blame for the Nigerian-uranium lie in the SOTU. Now Bush graciously grants Tenet his benediction (AP story: Bush expresses confidence in Tenet), Ari declares that "the president has moved on," and the story's over, right?

It's impressive in terms of the choreography, if for nothing else. If safeguarding America, fixing the economy, and successfully invading and rebuilidng other countires were things you could accomplish using only well-coordinated self-serving spin, we'd be in great shape right now. Unfortunately, those things require other abilities, too, and Bush's team comes up short in pretty much every other area.

But let's focus on the current flap. I see two major holes in the administration storyline. First is the way Condoleeza Rice wants to have it both ways. Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest has a good write-up: This changes everything. Earlier this week Rice said that the SOTU statements on Niger were revised to reflect CIA concerns (changing the wording to put the focus on British claims, rather than baldly asserting those claims as true). But on Meet the Press on June 8 she said, "We did not know at the time - no one knew at the time, in our circles - maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."

No amount of spin can reconcile those two statements; they directly contradict each other. One of them, at least, has to be a lie. And once you've accepted that Rice is lying about this, the whole thing falls apart. There's no way to confine the damage to Tenet, or Rice, or even Cheney (who spent all that time at the CIA "reviewing" intelligence in the run-up to war); they're all working from the same script. The deception runs seamlessly from top to bottom.

As Nick writes at Morons.org (CIA takes the fall for Bush), it's ludicrous for Tenet to try to take the blame for "allowing" the President to include the bogus Niger information in the speech. How was he supposed to stop him? Who's in charge here, anyway?

The notion of presidential authority -- and responsibility -- in this White House is thoroughly broken. Yes, it's been obvious since the 2000 campaign that Bush was unqualified to be president. Our collective need to believe in his competence in the wake of 9/11 didn't change that; it just made it easier for his team to maintain the illusion. But it's a tight-rope act. His image must be constantly burnished with flattering camera angles and carefully chosen backdrops, his lines must be carefully crafted, the occasional painful ad-libs denied, spun, or ignored until public attention has mercifully moved on.

I'd like to think it's starting to come apart. A new ABC poll shows that support for Bush has fallen to the lowest level since before 9/11, which I think is a significant threshhold. More and more people are asserting that the emperor has no clothes; check out this excellent piece from Eleanor Clift in Newsweek, for example: No mistakes were made.

My naive side and my cynical side continue to battle with each other. Will Bush win in a landslide in the next election? Or will he be run out of town on a rail? Or will we have another photo finish? When you get right down to it, I honestly have no idea.

Posted by jbc at 08:36 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2003

WMDgate Locomotive Chugging Along

Bush & Co. appear to be struggling really hard to shift the coverage away from the Niger yellowcake comments in the SOTU, but so far they've had only marginal success. Lots of stories this morning.

First up, from CBS News, which is doing a pretty good Washington-Post-on-watergate impression, two stories, one from yesterday and one from today: Bush knew Iraq info was dubious and Furor over CIA role in WMD claim.

There's some nice commentary from Kos (Bush knew Iraq info was false) and from Steve Gilliard (Have you no sense of decency, sir? and Let the fingerpointing begin).

There's also an interesting rant from Justin Raimondo (Mosaic of lies), who seems quite convinced that the original source of the forged Niger documents was none other than Ariel Sharon, whom he charges with running his own off-the-books intellegence operation to bypass those integrity-tainted professionals in Mossad and feed bogus data to Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz's boys in the Office of Special Plans. I'm not that paranoid yet, myself, but I wouldn't be shocked if turned out to be true; they certainly had motive and opportunity.

So, what does it all mean? It boils down to this: As with Clinton and Monica, where the defense ultimately centered around the assertion that standing immobile while someone gives you a blowjob does not constitute "touching" that person, Bush is seeking cover from the following assertion: Saying "Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger" when your own intelligence service had told you the story was probably untrue would be a lie. But saying "the British government has learned that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger" would be true, because you weren't saying Saddam had actually tried to do that; you were just saying that Tony Blair believed Saddam had tried to do that.

It doesn't work for me. Bush didn't actually say, "the British government believes..." He said "the British government has learned that..." The clear implication is that the British government has learned something that is true. For Bush to say that about information the CIA had already told him was false still lands squarely in the category of "lie", in my book.

Rice asserts that the change in language was made to soften the assertion from a bald lie to a truthful statement about our (unfortunately misguided) friends the British. As delivered, though, the statement doesn't come off that way at all. It doesn't sound like Bush is saying, "Well, the British believe so and so; we can't confirm it from our end, so take it with a grain of salt." What it sounds like is, "Hey; it's not just us talking this way. Even the British know he's doing this."

And now they've been caught. Those damn spooks at the CIA have too much documentation about the doubts they expressed and when and to whom they expressed them. So make the admission in the form of a written statement from Ari's office as the president is already winging his way to Africa, then do your best to get the story done and over while filling as many headline inches as you can with jolly stuff about Bush and Laura and daughter Barbara blushing at the sight of mating elephants.

That's my dubya.

Posted by jbc at 08:51 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2003

Mooning Amtrak

From the fine people at the Cruel Site of the Day comes word of this festive link: Mooning Amtrak Trains, Southern California USA. Woo! Yes, that's my part of the world, broadly defined. But I think there's probably a little Laguna Niguel in all of us.

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

It's Official: Britney Did It with Justin

It was more than a year ago, in May of 2002, that Justin Timberlake rocked our world with the news that Britney was not, in fact, a virgin. Well, she has now confirmed it. From CNN: Britney acknowledges she's not a virgin.

Excuse me. I have to go lie down.

Posted by jbc at 11:19 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thielmann, Nameless Spook, Ari, Rumsfeld, Bush on WMDgate

Lots of spin on what-Bush-knew-and-when-he-knew-it with respect to the false claims used to justify the war. First up, from the Guardian, the story of former State Department spy guy Gregory Thielmann: White House 'lied about Saddam threat'. Next, from the BBC, an unnamed CIA source who says the White House knew all about the discrediting of the Nigerian yellowcake documents 10 months before the State of the Union Address: White House 'warned over Iraq claim'. Finally, from the Boston Globe's John Donnelly comes this fun wrap-up of the statements made in the past few days by Ari, Rumsfeld, and Bush: Bush unbowed on Iraq.

There's lots more good stuff out there. The spin is too obvious to let it lie; even US reporters are asking some good questions.

Posted by jbc at 11:09 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

9/11 Commission Bitches About Pentagon and DOJ Foot-Dragging

From the New York Times comes this interesting story about how various parties within the executive branch aren't being helpful in uncovering the truth about what happened on 9/11: 9/11 commission says US agencies slow its inquiry. Interesting, isn't it? You wouldn't think people could get away with impeding an investigation into something so important -- unless the foot-dragging was happening because of, rather than in spite of, the orders coming down from the highest levels of the chain of command.

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

Rosen on the Missing Iraq Exit Strategy

SFGate columnist Ruth Rosen updates her earlier piece applying the Powell Doctrine to the Iraq war, asking, in particular, about just how it is we're supposed to get out of this mess: What's the exit strategy? Good stuff on the Iraq/Vietnam comparison; here's Rosen's conclusion:

Like ghosts from the past, words and phrases from the Vietnam-era -- quagmire, credibility gap, guerrilla war, winning the hearts and minds of civilians, requests for more troops -- are creeping back into military and public parlance.

But this is not Vietnam. Finding an exit strategy in Iraq is far more complicated. There is no government that can negotiate a peace treaty with the United States. Until Iraq has a strong government, one that can provide basic services and protect its people, withdrawal of occupation forces is inconceivable.

Perhaps the military mess in Iraq can at least remind Americans how and why the Powell Doctrine, with all its reasonable restraints, prevented the United States from plunging -- until now -- into another unnecessary and perhaps unwinnable war.

Meanwhile, if the Bush administration -- which never articulated clear post- war plans -- has an exit strategy, what is it? The Iraqi people, our military forces and the American public have a right to know.

Posted by jbc at 10:24 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)


Christopher of EverythingOnce (formerly of NotMyDesk) has finished describing his experience of taking a spoon-bending class (available in Parts One, Two, and Three), and it's not to be missed.

Posted by jbc at 07:16 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 09, 2003

Ari, Gilliard, Wilson, Wilkinson, Me: Time to Fess Up on WMD

A quick base-touching on the whole Bush-lied-about-weapons-of-mass-destruction thing. First up: I have to acknowledge the truth. I've been wrong, wrong, wrong about WMD this whole time. I hang my head in shame. After carefully reviewing the evidence, and analyzing my statements over and over again, I've come to the following inevitable conclusion:

I should never have pluralized the acronym as "WMDs".

Since WMD expands to "Weapons of Mass Destruction," it's plenty plural already, as lots of more-grammatically-astute people have been maintaining all along. But I was casually tossing around unfounded s-appended pluralizations left and right, unwilling to acknowledge the glaring evidence of my own error.

Anyway. Henceforth I shall refer to them only as "WMD". I apologize sincerely for having resisted so long the admission of what was so painfully obvious.

In the same vein, it was interesting to see the way the White House dealt with the Wilson revelations (the op-ed piece in the New York Times, and the Meet the Press appearance on Sunday), with Ari initially saying, "What? There's no issue there," and then, when Fearless Leader was safely on his plane for Africa, issuing written clarifications along the lines of, "well, of course we were wrong; everyone knows that, and has known it for a long time. Except we didn't know it before the State of the Union Address." (Except that they clearly did.)

I'm not going to bother linking to all the press coverage of this over the last few days; it's not hard to find. A few decent starting points would be this piece from the Washington Post: White House backs off claim on Iraqi buy, and this one from The Independent, sent along by Glen & Pilar: Diplomat who blew the whistle on falsified evidence.

The most interesting part of the whole thing has always been this: Given how obvious it was that the version of the Iraqi WMD threat being promoted by Bush before the war was bogus, why would he do it? Why would a politician leave himself so exposed, basing an invasion of another country on a lie that was certain to be revealed as such?

Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos points to one account that sheds some light, possibly: Time to admit the obvious: there are no WMD. The account he points to, and discusses, is this one at Capitol Hill Blue: White House admits Bush wrong about Iraqi nukes. This is the key passage from the CHB story:

An intelligence consultant who was present at two White House briefings where the uranium report was discussed confirmed that the President was told the intelligence was questionable and that his national security advisors urged him not to include the claim in his State of the Union address.

"The report had already been discredited," said Terrance J. Wilkinson, a CIA advisor present at two White House briefings. "This point was clearly made when the President was in the room during at least two of the briefings."

Bush's response was anger, Wilkinson said.

"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country."

The discussion in the comments at Daily Kos about whether or not Capitol Hill Blue is a credible source is interesting; time will tell on that, I guess. If this Wilkinson guy is real, and is really on the record, it should just be a matter of time before the story is in some mainstream news outlet.

If true, it certainly dovetails nicely with the picture that many people, myself very much included, have been building in our heads of Bush. He simply knew better than the so-called experts. His gut told him the WMD were there, God told him the WMD were there; he was on a mission to eradicate Evil, and pointy-headed analysts from the CIA or wherever were not going to get in his way. And since the neocon cabal among his advisors had a longstanding interest in seeing the Iraqi government overthrown by a US invasion in order to further their own ideological agenda, the Commander-in-Chief had plenty of enablers willing to help him set reason and evidence aside and proceed on the basis of his Higher Truth.

Yeah, the real truth was going to come out sooner or later. But at that point the deed would be done. Even if Bush ended up paying a high price personally, that wouldn't necessarily bother the PNAC folks, as long as their vision of mideast transformation by the US military had been successfully launched. And Bush, bless his tiny little capacity for personal insight, believed he was right, dammit. Reality would rearrange itself to protect him.

Well, maybe it will. There are plenty of people with a compelling emotional need to see Bush vindicated on this. The collective suspension of disbelief only has to carry him through November of next year, at which point he'll have succeeded as much as it's possible to succeed in US politics, with enforced retirement thereafter courtesy of the 22nd Amendment. It would be a fitting end for his career, the crowning achievement of a life characterized by repeated personal failure, followed by rescue at the hands of powerful interests unwilling to let that failure reflect badly on themselves.

George W. Bush: our collective underachieving problem child.

Update: "Wilkinson" story acknowledged by CHB to be bogus. Bigtime thanks to Craig for pointing it out in the comments.

Posted by jbc at 10:48 AM | view/comment (8) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2003

Note for Katie

This note is for Katie. When I said that piece I'd read that I really liked was from the Christian Science Monitor, I lied. I really liked that piece, too, but the one I was trying to direct you to was the other one, below that, by James Carroll. It actually appeared in the Boston Globe.

Everybody else: Back to your lives, citizens. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Posted by jbc at 08:31 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bandow on the Conservative Duty re: WMDs

Doug Bandow has a great opinion piece running in the Christian Science Monitor: Conservatives' core duty on WMD. Here's the real heart of the WMD issue. For those whose willingness to give Bush & Co. the benefit of the doubt has kept them from seeing the WMD thing as a big deal, please consider reading this article, and telling me which part of the author's argument you disagree with. Or, if you agree with it, let me know what you think would be an appropriate approach to holding Bush accountable.

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

Carroll on Bush's Stunted Self-Knowledge

Here's an op-ed piece by James Carroll that goes right to the heart of what disturbs me about Bush: Bush's war against evil. It sounds kind of odd to pull it out of context, but the observation that Bush's main failing is a lack of imagination is dead on.

Posted by jbc at 01:45 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hayden on Quagmire

In keeping with the ongoing discussion of ways in which the current Iraq war is and isn't like Vietnam, here's a piece by Tom Hayden: Say it: This is a quagmire. Not much new evidence, but a different arrangement.

Posted by jbc at 12:05 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2003

Neiwart on Bush's Lies

Oh, no! Not another Bush-lied piece on Iraqi WMDs.

Well, no. This one is actually more wide-ranging than that. From freelance journalist David Neiwert, writing in his weblog Orcinus: Bush the liar. It's a scrupulously thorough exploration of the subject of Bush's lies in general. Yes, the WMD lies get a special place in the coverage due to their serious and ongoing impact, but the overall picture is much bigger than that. It isn't just that Bush lied in that particular case. It's that he lies routinely and shamelessly as part of the daily business of selling himself to the electorate.

Anyway, if you despise Bush, as I do, you'll like it. If you support him, and think he's basically an okay guy, and at least as honest as most politicians, you should probably think about reading it, and trying to reconcile your views with the information it contains. Go ahead; do your best. It's fully sourced; the information is all there.

Or just go on believing what you want to believe. That's certainly going to be less work, at least.

Posted by jbc at 11:39 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stick-Figure Two Towers

You won't have noticed, but I've been keeping my obsessed-fanboy side in check for the past several months. Well, I can feel the restraint slipping. We're well and truly entering the ROTK spoiler season at theonering.net, which means it's time for everyone, or at least me, to begin thinking continuously about the upcoming conclusion of the Greatest Film Adaptation of All Time.

I think I can restrain myself for at least a little longer, at least as far as posting about it here goes. But I can't pass up posting about this one. From the truly insane cats at insanecats.com: The Two Towers Movie - Stick Version. Flash required.

Posted by jbc at 10:30 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Vietnam and Iraq: A Comparison

Craig recently commented that he thinks characterizations of the current situation in Iraq as a Vietnam-style "quagmire" are inappropriate. He asked there for "a rational and coherent analysis of how this really compares in any specific, factual way to Vietnam."

"Rational" and "coherent" aren't phrases that people normally apply to me, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. Follow the link below, or scroll down, to read the result.


Posted by jbc at 06:55 PM | view/comment (8) | TrackBack (0)

Falk on the New Global Fascism

Interesting Q&A from the latest issue of Adbusters magazine: Early signs of fascism. Thanks to awesome link-suggesters Glen & Pilar for the link.

Posted by jbc at 02:30 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Find Your Candidate

Interesting survey over at Selectsmart.com that gives you a chance to see which candidate is lining up closest to your general views on some election issues. I took it and, surprise, my top candidate was George Bush! However, I was mildly distressed to see Kerry as my second choice. I just have too much personal distrust in him, as well as his flaky wife, to ever seriously consider him, despite whatever issues in which we may have common ground. Third though was Lieberman, who, if I were ever to vote for a Democrat, would be someone to whom I would give some serious thought.

Anyway, try it and see if it turns out as you would expect.

Posted by Craig at 08:35 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 05, 2003

Shafer on Russert

Slate's Jack Shafer has a fun piece on how to avoid looking like a chump on Meet the Press: How to beat Tim Russert. I'm not sure it's ever going to be an issue for me personally, but it's still a fun article.

Posted by jbc at 09:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 04, 2003

More on 'Bring Them On'

The "bring them on" news cycle continues. Here are a couple of the more interesting pieces: From Stan Goff at CounterPunch: Bring 'em on? Goff, who fought in Vietnam, imagines what life is like these days for a soldier in Iraq - and it's not pretty.

Meanwhile, Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos has this analysis: It's worse than it seems. Note, by the way, that today is the earliest date previously predicted by Gilliard for the existence of "civil war" in Iraq. I think we clearly haven't reached that point yet; Iraqis still seem much more focused on killing us than killing each other, but that doesn't exactly make for rosy Defense Department briefings. The level of violence certainly hasn't diminished since Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op; it's arguably getting worse.

Yeah, it's a different part of the world, a different kind of local insurgency, different history, different rationales. And still, in its essence, Iraq is Vietnam. Congratulations, Mr. Daddy-in-Chief. It's a quagmire.

Posted by jbc at 10:07 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 03, 2003

Deflating Krugman

I've noticed for a while that Paul Krugman is a particularly favorite columnist on this web site. As you would expect, a person who takes a very strident tone against a presiding Administration will attract some critics of his views. But I've also noticed a good deal of attention is made to things that are beyond differences in ideologies. Many critics are calling Krugman out for some deliberate misrepresentations of information and just plain sloppy reporting. This story and this one are two such examples of this criticism.

Posted by Craig at 06:43 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Man of Inspiration or Suspicion?

It appears that the U.S. is tentatively backing Mahmudali Chehregani, an exiled former PM from Azerbaijan, in Northern Iran, to be a catalyst in spreading the unrest within the country. The Azeri population is a large minority within Iran, and Chehregani is going to try to inspire this group, who has always been a bit cool toward Tehran, to join in the open protests of the Iranian leadership.

The main thing this unrest has been missing is a central figure who can consolidate various ethnic groups and classes into a relatively unified force. I have doubts that this person will be the one. First, he is a bit too closely tied to the US, which will make too many dissidents wary. Also, he has supported in the past, and apparently still advocates, a reunification of the Iranian region of Azerbaijan with the Republic of Azerbaijan, just across the border. This doesn't seem to be a popular idea with the rest of the population in Iran. Chehregani also publicly promotes having a federation of "states" within Iran, of which the region of Azerbaijan would be one. But which option do Iranians feel he would actually pursue if he obtained power?

If nothing else he will serve to ratchet up the scale of unrest that will continue to ferment until a real voice of the people emerges.

Posted by Craig at 05:24 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The 'Bring Them On' Thing

Daily Kos has a pointer to this Reuters story on the aftermath of Bush's Roosevelt Room quip about how badass our troops are: Bush taking heat for 'bring them on' remark.

The most interesting part of the story, for me, was this:

University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan, a longtime Bush watcher, said Bush uses such language when under strain, and that he is likely feeling the heat of criticism about the lagging post-war effort in Iraq.

He called the remark an unfortunate choice of words because it sounded belligerent.

"I think that when he feels up against it, as he did at the time of the 9/11 attacks, or when he does when coming under criticism now, he has a tendency to strike back verbally, and I think that's what you're seeing there. He's not choosing his words diplomatically at those moments because he's not feeling particularly diplomatic," Buchanan said.

I'm sure Buchanan is right about that; we're getting unmediated dubya here. He's pissed at people having the gall to criticize him, so he makes these out-there statements.

Lefties like me are (obviously) appalled at this new indication of how thoroughly unsuited for the presidency he is. On the other side, I'm sure there are people cheering his Texan straight-shooting.

Neither of those reactions matters at all, though. What matters is how this plays with moderate swing voters. Are they still scared enough by September 11 to vote for someone who talks like Rambo? Or are they ready to give the irrational-lashing-out strategy a rest, and try someone who's actually remotely qualified to lead the country? I guess we'll know soon enough.

Posted by jbc at 01:52 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2003

Onion: Bush's War on Criticism

A fun piece in the latest Onion: Bush asks Congress for $30 billion to help fight war on criticism. Ah, the Onion.

Thanks to ymatt for the pointer.

Posted by jbc at 07:35 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fritz on Dean on Bush's "Clear Skies" Initiative

Ben Fritz of Spinsanity is up in arms about a Howard Dean sound bite re: Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative, which will reduce air pollution less than is called for under the current terms of the Clean Air Act: Dean foggy on "Clear Skies".

Fritz says Dean is implying that Bush's proposal would lead to increasing air pollution beyond current levels. What Dean actually said, in speaking with Tim Russert on a recent Meet the Press episode, was this: "The Clear Skies Initiative which basically allows you to put more pollution into the air..."

Now, as anyone knows who pays any attention to commercials, comparative words like "more" and "less" (or "brighter", "cleaner", "stronger", etc.) are the favorite tools of those who write ad copy, since they are essentially meaningless in the absence of an explicit frame of reference. You can loudly trumpet that your new burger has "Less Fat!!", and as long as the thing is not 100% lard you'll be safe from a truth-in-advertising claim, since you didn't say less fat than what. You're basically enlisting your audience, making them co-conspirators in their own deception, since they will predictably supply a "reasonable" frame of reference in order to interpret your unspecified comparison.

Dean's obviously doing that here. Yeah, if he were being scrupulously honest, and seeking only to inform listeners, he would have been more specific, saying something like, "The Clear Skies Initiative, which basically will allow corporations to put more pollution into the air in the future than the Clean Air Act currently calls for." But that isn't how the game is played. It certainly isn't how Bush is playing it, choosing a label like "Clear Skies" for what is, in its essence, a weakening of the Clean Air Act's provisions for future air clarity.

I guess you could say that what the Bush people meant when they chose that name is that our skies are clear enough already, so let's do away with the stricter air-quality standards that the Clean Air Act will require in future years. But if you said that all the grownups in the room would laugh at you.

So yeah, Dean is spinning. But Bush's spinning in this case is much more blatant.


Posted by jbc at 02:00 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 01, 2003

Screw and Hit and Run

Apparently, driving on a public road and crashing into a sign post at 60mph because you were having sex with a hitchhiker is NOT illegal in Germany ... unless you leave the scene of the accident with out reporting it. Have I mentioned lately how much I Love Germany?

Posted by hossman at 11:58 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Balance the CA State Budget in Your Spare Time

A friend of mine pointed out recordnet.com which is currently featuring The Governor's Game ... "Sit in the Governor's Chair & Balance the State Budget." I haven't played with it long enough to confirm that it's possible to "win" (No matter what budget i started with, any changes I made invariable cost me votes) but it's definitely ammusing.

Posted by hossman at 03:46 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Everything Once Is Here!

Christopher of NotMyDesk's new site is on the air: Everything Once. It's a Movable Type weblog, apparently, where he'll be posting, he says, weekly updates on his performance of new and different, um, activities. If you're a NotMyDesk fan (as you should be), you will realize that this is excellent news.

Posted by jbc at 11:29 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Time on the WMD Hunt

Interesting article in Time Magazine's latest issue: Who lost the WMD? The lead tells of a funny, if it weren't scary, incident that took place during Bush's recent visit to Centcom.

Posted by jbc at 11:16 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Republicans Happy About Dean Strength?

The permalink-challenged wags at OpinionJournals' Best of the Web page make the following observation about Dean's good showing in the recent MoveOn poll, and the relatively large amounts of cash he's pulling in lately:

Karl Rove must be jumping for joy. Apart from the Sharptonkucinichmoseleybraun also-rans, Dean is the best opponent the Republicans could possibly hope for. Can anyone imagine such an intemperate lefty winning a single "red" state? If President Bush merely carries the same states he did last time around, he has 278 electoral votes and a second term. Against Dean he could phone it in.

Dean supporters need to think about this issue seriously. I'm not saying we can't choose to support him even if the above wisdom is deemed accurate. But choosing to do so in that case will carry certain costs, and we should be prepared to pay them.

Of course, the OpinionJournal writers could also simply be wrong. And without the kind of faith that would let us support a supposedly "unelectable" candidate, we'd never find that out.

Posted by jbc at 11:10 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Cheney's Iraqi-Nukes Lie Disputed

The OmbudsGod has an interesting analysis of the March 16 Meet the Press appearance at which Dick Cheney made his much-cited comment about how Iraq "has reconstituted nuclear weapons": What the vice president didn't say. He points out that that one statement by Cheney was made in the context of numerous other statements that clearly ackowledged that Saddam did not actually have the nukes yet, but was biding his time until he could revive the program later.

It's a good point. But it also betrays a naive view of how bigtime liars operate. Cheney makes five statements acknowleding the (obvious) reality that the Saddam of March, 2003, did not have the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. And in the midst of them he makes one statement that unambiguously says Saddam actually did have that capability.

Is that a simple mistake, as the OmbudsGod argues? Well, maybe. It could also be an intentional way of planting the suggestion in the mind of the suggestible. Like finding ways to mention Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence six different times in a single speech, without ever making the explicit (and easily refuted) statement that they actually are working together. You accomplish your goal (getting the gullible to believe something that isn't true) without giving your opponents the ammunition that a bald lie would provide.

We don't live in a binary universe. Reality doesn't slice neatly into yes/no, either/or, true/false. Cheney made several true statements, and one glaringly false one. Maybe he did that on accident. Maybe he did it on purpose. But he did it, and the result was the same either way. And the result was that many more people believed they needed to support the president in his push to invade Iraq right then, not later. And since fostering that view was clearly Cheney's intention, I don't think he deserves much slack on the false statement.

Posted by jbc at 10:55 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)