It Never Ends

Tomorrow's NY Times keeps up the full court press against the Bush Administration and against the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Tom Friedman takes the "nobody knows why we're planning to remove Saddam" and the "we need the UN's mandate" position. He's wrong, but at least he argues - mostly - rationally.

And Mo Dowd comes out with a full-on attack piece, written in nonsense verse. It's incoherent and it's ugly and it's entirely without any intellectual content or value. No doubt the Bush-haters will be crowing over it and praising it as the best thing since sliced bread, which doesn't make it any less idiotic or valueless.

And then there's Gail Collins and the editorial board generally, arguing against another Bush judicial nominee. At least if they said "the Republicans kept rejecting Clinton's nominees, so Bush shouldn't get his either," that would be honest. But of course they don't, because honesty is the last thing that the Times editorial page (or its Editor-in-Chief) cares about.

At The Movies

OK, stepping away from politics and ranting for a bit, I went to the movies last night, to see "Igby Goes Down".

It was very good. It's a sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing tale of 17 year old Igby, scion of a dysfunctional family that probably owes as much to actor Kieran Culkin's real family as it does to the screenwriter's imagination.

The film also stars Claire Danes, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Jeff Goldblum (particular creepy as Igyb's godfather) and Bill Pullman.

"Igby" owes a great debt to "American Beauty", from which it borows some of its tone and a major narrative device. It's also about 4 minutes too long; although I'd recommend the film overall, I absolutely loathed the very end, and I have to think that most viewers would agree with me on this. Still, it's well worth seeing.

Also, we got a preview for Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze (wirter and director, respectively, of the utterly brilliant "Being John Malkovich)'s new film, "Adaptation". I'd try to describe it, but the preview really does defy any description. It's extremely trippy, and it looks like an absolute must-see movie.
Remember that Stuff About the Coup in Venezuala?

Well, I wonder if all the OpEd writers who carped and whined about the Bush Administration, screaming about unproven allegations that the Administration was somehow involved in the coup attempt against Hugo Chavez?

Well, i wonder if they'll write about this.

It seems that Mr. Chavez, who was such a hero to left-leaning columnists when he was pursuing anti-American policies, has now turned on the press itself.

Wonder if we'll hear from Molly Ivins or Paul Krugman or Mo Dowd or the rest of the bleaters and whiners about that.

I'm guessing not.
One More Comment on Al Gore's Speech

You need to follow the link to see this, at H.D. Miller's site; I think it's dead on...
Maybe They Just Forgot

Ombudsgod points out some apparent hypocrisy at the WashPost.

He's referring to Michael Getler's Ombudsman column, and what it talks about this week, and how that relates to the "seven principles" that the Post claims to live by. For reference, they are:

The first mission of a newspaper is to tell the truth as nearly as the truth can be ascertained.

The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.

As a disseminator of news, the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.

What it prints shall be fit reading for the young as well as the old.

The newspaper's duty is to its readers and to the public at large, and not to the private interests of its owners.

In the pursuit of truth, the newspaper shall be prepared to make sacrifices of its material fortunes, if such a course be necessary for the public good.

The newspaper shall not be the ally of any special interest, but shall be fair and free and wholesome in its outlook on public affairs and public men.

Ombdsgod points out that the Post seems to have gotten away from those principles by, for example, failing to report on Cognressional testimony by several current and retired Generals concerning Iraq, but making a special point of reporting on an airline passenger who, during a random search, was found to be carrying a bag full of cojndoms (and mentioning him by name) and other such things.

Not a bad point at all. I think there've been far more blatant violations of those principles, but Ombudsgod makes a good start here.
Putting It All Together

Frank Rich of the NY Times employs the "kitchen sink" approach today, throwing every possible complaint and criticism of the President into one big, ugly column.

You had to sympathize with poor Tom Daschle when he erupted on the floor of the Senate this week. After months of playing Clark Kent to George W. Bush's Superman, the guy looked as if he were about to become unhinged.

Sure, the majority leader had a valid point. The president was wrong to say that the Democrat-controlled Senate is "not interested in the security of the American people" when everyone knows that Democrats care every bit as much about our security as Republicans do, patriotically ranking it second in importance only to their own job security. But Mr. Daschle's real frustration is his inability to change the subject of the national conversation. As the election nears, the Democrats want to talk about the economy, and every time they try, Mr. Bush drowns it out with "Iraq," a word so overpowering it can make grown Americans forget that their pensions are in the toilet.

At least he admits that the Demos - like the Republicans - care more about job security than national security.

But I don't recall this sort of pity directed towards Republicans when the former Narcissist-in-Chief stole Republican issues and positions and took credit for things he'd previosuly demagoged and opposed (like welfare reform, which, if you recall, was an evil plot to throw poor people to the wolves when Newt Gingrich pushed it, but was a triumph for all America when Clinton signed the same bill a year later).

The reason Iraq drowns out other issues, of course, is that the American people understand that it's important, and they care less about throwing rocks at the President than about the good of the country. Unlike Mr. Daschle and the NY Times editorial board.

I'm not going to take apart the entire piece; it's too long, and too repetitive. But I will hit a couple of highlights:

this presidency is all of one consistent piece, whether it is managing our money or managing a war. Now, as pre-9/11, it reflects the C.E.O. ethos of the 1990's bubble at least as abundantly as the previous administration did the promiscuous 1960's.

And who was in charge in the 1990's? Who revelled in that CEO ethos and crowed about the economic growth and big fat pensions it produced?

Apparently Mr. Rich has forgoten, because the name of the previous president appears nowhere in this column.

Not even here:

U.S. intelligence had picked up a dozen plots of a similar sort, over a period from 1994 to pre-9/11 2001, with some of them specifically mentioning the World Trade Center and the White House as potential targets.

Who was President between 1994 and January of 2001 again?

And I have to take exception to this:

The attorney general drives liberals crazy with his assaults on civil liberties, but we do have courts to sort that out (as they are already doing). What's truly frightening about Mr. Ashcroft is his incompetence. Even as we learned this week that the Justice Department's prosecutors are so sloppy that they mistakenly turned over 48 classified F.B.I. reports to Zacarias Moussaoui, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that the attorney general may have blown our chance to get useful Qaeda information out of Mr. Moussaoui by mismanaging his prosecution.

Ashcroft deserves plenty of criticism, no argument here. And as the top man in the Justice Department, the buck stops at his desk.

But to suggest that he is personally to blame for turning over classified docs to Moussaoui is just over the line. The rot at Justice goes back several years; the same people who are screwing up now screwed up the Wen ho Lee case, and myriad others during the previous Administration.

And remember that under the previous Administration, the Justice Department incinerated 93 American citizens at Waco, among many, many other failures.

Yes, bash Ashcroft. But don't you dare claim that his failings are new or unique or that things were better in previous administrations, because they weren't.

And then Rich goes on some more. Bush is bad, the economy is doomed, blah, blah, blah. You'd think they'd get tired of printing this kind of garbage sometime.

Apparently not.


Al Gore: The Gift That Just Keeps on Giving

Loser ex-candidate Al Gore just will not shut up, no matter how much his party wishes he would, or how little he actually has to say.

I was going to comment on his latest bleatings about the rottenness of the Bush Administration, but Jeff Durkin beat me to it. Jeff puts it sucinctly, so I'll just quote him rather than come up with something myself on this one:

Al Gore. Icould just stop there; most people should associate that name with corruption (ChiCom bribes), moral weakness (serving under Bill Clinton must be some kind of mortal sin), and a truly amazing level of self-deception (inventing the Internet...okay, inventing everything starting with fire). But he is reaching new levels of disgusting behavior. In a speech yesterday he blamed the White House for 9/11, saying they ignored intel reports that could have allowed them to stop the attack. As Bill Gertz has laid out in great detail in his latest book "Breakdown", the Clinton Administration ignored years of actions taken by Al Qaeda against us and intel of future operations. They essentially allowed bin Laden to build up a global terrorist infrastructure, while he killed dozens of Americans and hundreds of others, and did nothing. In a just society, Al Gore and his former master would be undergoing trial for crimes against the American people, not blathering on the national stage.

I'd add something, but this pretty much captures my views exactly.
Unbounded Ignorance

I haven't talked about Molly Ivins in a while; there usually seems little point.

But her latest column needs to be refuted, and we here in the Empire strongly believe that when you see something that needs doing, you do it. So...let's look at what Molly says, and how divergent from reality it is:

No. This is not acceptable. This is not the country we want to be. This is not the world we want to make.

Molly's referring to the recently published National Security Strategy. And she's wrong. It's not the country she wants the nited States to be, or the world she wants to make.

And of course, the very humility and cooperation she so loves is undermined by her own words: "the world we want to make."

The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.

We are not dominating the world, and the new strategy document does not call for that. It calls for us to remain the strongest power; given the alternatives out there, the other candidates who might challenge us in that regard, surely even Molly can see that it's preferable, both for us, and for everyone else, that we do remain so.

And we do want other solutions than killing people. Unfortunately, those solutions have not worked in Iraq; and they did not prevent 3,000 of our citizens from being murdered in cold blood.

I rarely use the word we because it's so arrogant for one citizen to presume to speak for all of us -- and besides, Americans famously can't agree on the time of day. But on this one, I know we want to find a way so that killing is the last resort, not the first. We would rather put our time, energy, money and even blood into making peace than making war.

It takes two to make peace, Molly. If our foes don't want to - and certainly our foes in the Middle East have made it abundantly clear that they don't, then the choice is not between war and peace, but between war on our terms that will minimize the harm to us and war on their terms that will maximize it.

"The National Security Strategy of the United States -- 2002" is repellent, unnecessary and, above all, impractical. Americans are famous for pragmatism, and we need a good dose of common sense right now. This Will Not Work.

And why not?

All the experts tell us that anti-Americanism thrives on the perception that we are arrogant, that we care nothing for what the rest of the world thinks. Even our innocent mistakes are often blamed on obnoxious triumphalism. The announced plan of this administration for world domination reinforces every paranoid, anti-American prejudice on this earth. This plan is guaranteed to produce more terrorists.

We do care what the world thinks. But we should - as this plan does - care more about what is in our best interest, when the two conflict. It's unfortunate that you don't understand that, Molly.

Even if this country were to become some insane, 21st-century version of Sparta -- armed to the teeth, guards on every foot of our borders -- we would still not be safe. Have the Israelis been able to stop terrorism with their tactics?

First, no one is proposing this. Second, as much as you or anyone else might not lie Israel's tactics, they have been very, very restrained in comparison to (1) what they could be doing, (2) what their enemies are doing, and (3) what their enemies would do if they had the capability to. And that's why they are not succeeding, Molly.

They tried your way and got an Intifada and hundreds of dead women and children. Thanks so much for your input, but we'll stick to listening to the grown-ups from now on.

Not only would we not be safe -- we would not have a nickel left for schools or health care or roads or parks or zoos or gardens or universities or mass transit or senior centers or the arts or anything resembling civilization. This is nuts.

It is nuts, and had that been what was proposed, you'd be right and I'd be right there with you, Molly. But it's not, and you're not, and so I'm not. Sorry.

This creepy, un-American document has a pedigree going back to Bush I, when -- surprise! -- Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz were at the Department of Defense and both were such geniuses that they not only didn't see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, but they didn't believe it after they saw it.

That's true.

But it's also true that their job was - and is - to ensure the security of the American people. And while I'd prefer that they had perfect knowledge and knew the exact nature and danger level of every threat and adversary out there, they don't, and no one can. In the absence of that, I'd much prefer them to be overly worried and overestimate danger rather than underestimate it.

In those days, this plan for permanent imperial adventurism was called "Defense Strategy for the 1990s" and was supposed to be a definitive response to the Soviet threat. Then the Soviet threat disappeared, and the same plan re-emerged as a response to the post-Soviet world.

"imperial adventurism"? Nowhere is that claimed or contemplated, Molly. That's flat-out dishonset.

It was roundly criticized at the time, its manifest weaknesses attacked by both right and left. Now it is back yet again as the answer to post-Sept. 11. Sort of like the selling of the Bush tax cut -- needed in surplus, needed in deficit, needed for rain and shine -- the plan exists apart from rationale. As Frances Fitzgerald points out in the Sept. 26 New York Review of Books, its most curious feature is the combination of triumphalism and almost unmitigated pessimism.

Oh, yes, Frances Fitzgerald is an objective source.

Until Friday, when the thing was re-released in its new incarnation, it contained no positive goals for American foreign policy -- not one. Now the plan is tricked out with rhetoric like earrings on a pig about extending freedom, democracy and prosperity to the world. But as The New York Times said, "It sounds more like a pronouncement that the Roman Empire or Napoleon might have produced."

Well, howell Raines' playtoy is also hardly an objective source of new on the world these days. But in any case, we could certainly do worse than to emulate a civilization that lasted (depending on how you want to count it) over a thousand years, and brought civilization to the entire known world.

In what is indeed a dangerous and uncertain world, we need the cooperation of other nations as never before. Under this doctrine, we claim the right to first-strike use of nuclear weapons and "unannounced pre-emptive strikes." That means surprise attacks.

We have always had a policy of first use of nuclear weapons if it was necesasary.

And surprise attacks that might prevent another 3,000 dead American civillians sure sound like a good idea to me.

There is a better way. Foreign policy experts polled at the end of the 20th century agreed that the great triumph of the past 100 years in foreign policy was the Marshall Plan. We can use our strength to promote our interests through diplomacy, economic diplomacy, multilateral institutions (which we dominate anyway) and free trade conditioned to benefit all.

I thought you didn't like free trade and these multinational institutions, Molly?

And which experts were these? Any citations?

None of this will make the al Qaeda folks love us, but it will make it a lot more likely that whoever finds them will hand them over.

Why, exactly? Because we give them money? We give Egypt and Saudi Arabia billions of dollars a year, and they loathe us.

This reckless, hateful and ineffective approach to the rest of the world has glaring weaknesses. It announces that we intend to go in and take out everybody else's nukes (27 countries have them) whenever we feel like it. Meanwhile, we're doing virtually nothing to stop their spread.

27 countries? Where does she get this number from?

As far as I know, there are the U.S., Russia, China, the UK, France, India, and Pakistan as "official" members of the nuclear club. That's seven. Israel has them, although they've never come out and said so. That's eight. South Africa claims to have dismantled all their nuclear weapons, but let's count them anyway. Nine. And North Korea is believed to maybe or maybe not have a handful of bombs. Ten. All the former Soviet republics have given up their nukes, I believe.

So what are the other 17 countries that have them, Molly?

Last month, Ted Turner's Nuclear Threat Initiative had to pony up $5 million to get poorly secured, weapons-grade uranium out of Belgrade. Privatizing disarmament -- why didn't we think of that before?

The final absurdity is that the plan is supposed to Stop Change. Does no one in the administration read history?

It is not supposed to "stop change". It is supposed to take change into account, and to ensure our security in spite of change that could threaten it.

But Molly doesn't really care about that. I'm not sure what eactly it is that she does care about, but I do know that I'm not willing to see my life or the lives of my fellow citizens gambled on whatever it is that she thinks we should be doing.
Friday Afternoon Moron Update

So far today, DC Police have arrested 500 of the Invading Morons who've descended on Washington to throw a public temper tantrum.

Their activities have included:

Setting fires, breaking windows, throwing smoke bombs, and making false emergency calls to the police.

One group of Morons chanted "This is not a police state, we have the right to demonstrate," which is true. But the do not have the right to set fires, break windows, throw smoke bombs or make false emergency calls to the police. at least I don't think the First Amendment covers those activities, unless I've seriously misread the Constitution.
Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Rachel Lucas has a few things to say about Barbra Streisand.

All I can say is, I wish I'd said them. Go read her. Now.

More From the WashPost

In the usually snarky Style section, this morning we find a sympathetic, almost fawning profile of Mike Flugennock.

Who is he, you ask? The Post's headline calls him "the Poster Boy of Protest"; he's a radical activist, one of the leaders of today's Moron invasion of DC.

Despite the simpleminded "America Bad, Anarchy Good!" nature of Flugennock's views, and the fact that he's got a big role in a deeply stupid circus that's going to accomplish nothing and cost the District millions of dollars in police and security costs, Post writer David Montgomery finds an awful lot of good to say about him.

Yes, Yes, Yes

Charles Krauthammer has a few things to say about Al Gore's little rant on Monday.

It's all good, and you should go read it, but here's one of the especially great bits:

A pudding with no theme but much poison. Such was the foreign policy speech Al Gore delivered in San Francisco on Monday. It was a disgrace -- a series of cheap shots strung together without logic or coherence. Most of all, it was brazen. It was delivered as if there had been no Clinton-Gore administration, no 1990s.

The tone of the speech is best reflected in Gore's contemptuous dismissal of the U.S. victory in Afghanistan as "defeating a fifth-rate military power." If the Taliban were a fifth-rate military power, why didn't the Clinton-Gore administration destroy it and spare us Sept. 11?

It is not as if, during Gore's term, al Qaeda had not declared itself or established its postal address. It declared war on the United States, blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and attacked the USS Cole. What did Gore's administration do? Fire a few missiles into the Afghan desert and a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, then wash its hands and leave the problem to its successors.

Go read the rest; it's all good.

Defending the Morons

Two letters to the editor in today's WashPost take the side of the Morons in the matter of today's planned protests.

The first letter says:

Urging workers to stay away from the downtown area during today's planned protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is one of the worst things that could happen to dissent, an act of democracy, in this country ["A Business Plan for Protests," Business, Sept. 23]. If the protesters are isolated, it will be much easier for police to act illegally and then try to demonize the protesters in the media.

Robert Peck of the Greater Washington Board of Trade speaks of the "threat" posed by the protesters. To imply that they are driven by some destructive impulse is to dehumanize people engaging in healthy protest against two institutions that deserve intense scrutiny and criticism.

Citizens should not abandon downtown. They are the eyes and ears of democracy.

Um...they've demonized themselves, I think. And "healthy protest" does not include calls to vbandalize and destroy private businesses. It doesn't include setting fire to tires in the middle of streets and bridges (as, according to radio traffic reports, they're doing this AM), which creates danger and disruption for the citizenry, not to mention an environmental hazard.

The second letter opines:

It seems as if the "Bush Doctrine" of preemptive strikes has trickled down to the U.S. Capitol Police. A Sept. 21 Metro article concerning legal actions aimed at restricting the rights of International Monetary Fund-World Bank protesters quoted Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer as saying, "I don't know why we have to wait until after they've inflicted damage."

That "why" is the presumption of innocence. Until a year or so ago, it was considered an important part of our legal system.

There's almost a point here. But the Morons have advertised their intentions publicly. If they say that they plan to vandalize, to disrupt, to comit a whole variety of illegal acts, the police have the duty to act and try and prevent said illegal acts, do they not?

The First Amendment does not protect one's right to smash up McDonalds franchises, last time I checked.

Speaking of Babs

Well, Dick Gephardt doesn't share my confusion about which Hollywood star to listen to about Iraq; not 24 hours after getting his marching orders from Barbra Streisand, he's gone on the attack against the President.

In the NY Times, no less.

Following precisely Babs' instructions Gephardt writes:

But now there's no denying it. President Bush himself has decided to play politics with the safety and security of the American people. It started in New York two days after the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11. Injecting politics into the debate on Iraq, the president told reporters that "if I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people, say, `Vote for me and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

Well, I do hate to say it, Dick, but what the President said is precisely correct. (at least some) Dems want to wait for the United Nations to decide if we're to be allowed to act in defense of our own security. The President and most Republicans do not feel that way. And that is a perfectly valid criteria on which a voter might wish to base his or her vote.

He writes, citing a heated exchange on a cable news show between two backbenchers:

One Republican member of Congress even went on national television to question a Democratic colleague's patriotism and accuse him of hating America — simply for saying we needed a debate on Iraq.

Yes, that's true. And a Democratic member accused the President of knowing about the attack and deliberatley allowing 3,000 people to die so that his friends could profit from the ensuing war. This is not solely a Republican thing here, Dickie.

Calling for a Congressional vote is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is building a broad, bipartisan coalition to provide the support necessary for the country to get behind — and stay behind — any war effort. Democrats are committed to trying to develop a final bill that will draw the broadest bipartisan support possible for dealing with this threat.

You mean like in 1990, when the Gulf War resolution was pretty close to a party line vote, with only 8 Dems in the Senate voting for it?

Just curious.

And, Dickie, you might want to be more carefu with the timing. People might think that you really are taking orders from a washed up Hollywood star with an ego the size of Jupiter, rather than thinking for yourself.

That couldn't be, could it?

I Just Don't Know What to Think!

There's a split among the Hollywood intelligentsia over Iraq, and as a simple, ignorant peon who looks to my betters in the entertainment industry to know what to think about the big issues of the day, I'm now torn and confused.

Barbra Streisand doesn't want us to go to war, but, according to this article (and it's from the BBC, so it has to be true. Right?) Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg are in favor of President Bush's stance on the matter.

Spielberg versus Streisand! How can a lumpenprole like me decide when two brilliant minds like that are in conflict?

I'm totally at a loss now. Can anyone help me?
Getting All Cultural and Stuff

Went to see the Washington Opera's production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" last night at the Kennedy Center.

Absolutely excellent.

Especially good was Elizabeth Futral in the title role; during the famous "mad scene", she does things with her voice that it doesn't seem possible for a human being to do.

Now if only I could get tickets to the Bayreuth Festival next summer, I'd be all set...


Moron Update

Here's a bit more about tomorrow's planned "Anti-Capitalist" protest by thousands of spoiled and ignorant children who have made their way to our nation's capital.

The WashPost reports that the Morons are planning to:

"disrupt the "vicious cycle" of capitalism"

Anti-Capitalist Convergence members said they have met with several "affinity groups" this week to plan what intersections, Metro stops or traffic circles should be targeted during this morning's rush hour. Organizers kept those plans secret, hoping to spring a few surprises on D.C. police

Because, of course, screwing up the ordinary lives of people who work in the District is really going to do a lot to help the myriad causes that the Morons are protesting over (which include the World Bank, the oil industry, fur, the war on terror, Israel, racism, sexism, capitalism, and no doubt some I'm missing).

The Morons all seem to miss the point that it's the very system they claim to despise that gives them the tools to organize their public temper tantrum; and that same system has given them the wealth and the freedom to be able to take time off from school or their jobs and make their way to DC to whine about it all. It also escapes them that if they got their way, the lot of the people they claim to care about wouldn't be improved one iota, and their own lives would become far, far more unpleasant.

Morons really is the only word that applies. Here's hoping that lots of them end up spending the weekend in jail cells; it would certainly be fitting.
And I Thought I Was Angry

Check out this commentary about Tommy Daschle's little tantrum yesterday, at Ipse Dixit.

He says a lot of things that I really, really wish I'd said:

I'm actually glad I decided to try and view his actions from a less jaundiced perspective for a few days - because it was so difficult that it became starkly clear to me how little concern Daschle has for anyone or anything other than his own political aspirations. When Ted Kennedy proposes some policy I find objectionable, I have no reason to doubt he's doing so because of his beliefs. He may be wrong, but he's fairly consistent ideologically. Hell, when Maxine Waters comes out with some moronic idea, I don't doubt for a minute she thinks it's a good idea. But not so Tom Daschle. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot attribute anything but the worst possible motive to anything he does.

He is a manifest failure as leader of the Senate and, worse, a menace. Everything he does is geared toward making a Presidential run in 2004; the good of the country is a distant second. He is desperate to hold on to the Senate because he will drop like a stone on the Democratic primary prospects rating chart if he doesn't. So he must attack Bush at every turn, even as he agrees to policies he knows the public finds more attractive than he does himself. He thinks the tax cuts are a bad idea, but he doesn't press to repeal them because several of the Senators who vote for him for Majority Leader also voted for the tax cut and would be harmed in their re-election races. He was against military action against Iraq until the polls showed 70% of the public favours it. Now he wants to just get the Congressional vote on Iraq over with as quickly as possible so that he can go back to bitching and moaning about the economy (and the year-and-a-half old tax cut he won't try to repeal), which is obviously a more pressing matter than mere warmaking.

And the thing is, it's all true.

Misplaced Populism

Based on comments in his column about his lifestyle, and on his photo, and on the very fact that he's employed as a columnist at the WashPost, I think that the vast majority of people on the planet would consider Marc Fisher rich. They might even call him a "fat cat".

Funny, then, that Fisher keeps throwing that term around in today's column. Fisher's writing in the let's-mock-everyone tone that pervades the Post most days.

In the moral ledger of the organizers of the "Anti-Capitalist Scavenger Hunt," part of this week's edition of the Collegiate Protest Potpourri, trashing the inside of a retail chain store scores 500 points, and "liberating" food from Fresh Fields wins 300 points. But, according to a protest Web site, if you accomplish nothing more than talking to someone on the street about the evil of capitalism, you collect a paltry 100 points.

Well, I'm with him so far. I have no problem sneering at the whiny and ignorant protestors who plan to infest downtown DC tomorrow.

So at least the anti-globalization gang isn't pretending to have much interest in engaging the public in any discussion of ideas or policy.

Still with him. They can't engage the pulic in discussions of ideas and policies, because they don't actually have any.

For many years, the International Monetary Fund has blessed us with its annual gathering, an unctuous parade of arrogance in which fat cats from across the globe clog our streets with limos and spend untold millions on the finest food and drink, all whilst fretting over the terrible inequalities in the world.

And then fisher turns to the old Class Warfare 101 text for this garbage.

First of all, DC's streets are often clogged with limos. Second, talking about unctuous arrogance from the pulpit of the WashPost brings to mind three words: pot, kettle and black. Third, it's their millions to spend. At least DC will get the sales taxes, and some DC residents will have jobs thanks to these meetings.

But when it comes to self-importance, even the economics ministers with their pathetic demands for police escorts do not hold a candle to the adolescent cry for attention of the protesters who've piled into town for tomorrow's attempt to "Shut Down the City."

The anti-globalization forces intend to paralyze the city's streets, prevent workers from getting to their jobs and trash businesses and institutions they consider part of the evil machinery of profit -- you know, the places where people work in exchange for money with which to feed their children.

It's "pathetic" to want more security when protestors openly brag of their plans to commit criminal acts throughout the city, and specifically at the IMF meeting itself? OK. Whatever.

The "Anti-Capitalist Target List," also conveniently posted on the Web as a cute little exercise in homespun terrorism, includes every McDonald's, Starbucks and Chipotle (owned by McDonald's and therefore evil) in town; various media devils, including this very journal ("pro-government and capitalist"); Neiman Marcus ("sells fur"); Fresh Fields ("gentrification force"); a bunch of PR firms (even misguided protesters are occasionally right); and various other institutions of the right and left alike.

So vandalizing the PR firms and their employees is OK. Just don't mess with Marc's Fresh Fields, or his lunchtime burrito at Chipotle.

Of course, some of the thousands of young people who have scooped up every hostel bed in the city are here to protest nonviolently against policies that they, with good reason, believe have exacerbated the gap between rich and poor around the world. But that message is invisible in what has become a catchall roar of rage against the war on Iraq, gentrification, Israel, "car culture," Big Oil and, most egregiously, the people of Washington, D.C.

Um. The problem is, if the morons got their way, there'd be no gap between rich and poor because everybody would be poor. It's a cliche, but it goes back to the old observation: a capitalist and a communist look at a big, well-furnished mansion. The communist says "no one should live like this" and the capitalist says "everyone should live like this".

The protestors seek the former, while those of us who are sane seek the latter.

Make no mistake: If the protesters wanted to aim their wrath against the World Bank, the IMF and the government, they have opportunity aplenty to do so. But they choose instead to attempt to shut down this city, a place and a people already disrespected and disadvantaged by those same institutions.

How, exactly, does the IMF and the World Bank "disrespect" DC?

Instead of protesting against a federal government that blithely deprives residents of the U.S. capital of the vote, or against hugely rich nonprofits that bleed the city's accounts for police protection while paying no taxes, the demonstrators turn their violence against the voiceless and the ignored -- the people of Washington. The college students who come here to chant themselves hoarse about abuses of power dare to shout about racism even as they assault a black-run city that has struggled for decades for basic equality.

Um...nonprofits do employ people. Some of whom work in the district, most of whom spend money in the district.

You want them out? You want the feds out? What, exactly, is going to replace them to generate jobs here?

And you've got to love a middle-aged white guy who lives in the cushy suburbs and makes a nice living writing for the WashPost whining about how The Man is keeping bkac folk down in their own city.

Protesters may wish to note that the fancy pants executives and bankers whom they view as targets have no intention whatsoever of trying to make it to the office tomorrow. You see, they get paid whether they show up or not. The victims of this so-called People's Strike are, in fact, folks who work for a living, the office workers and federal employees, the people who cook food and clean buildings. If they don't work, they don't eat.

And how did those "fancy pants" bakers and executives get that way? Um...could it be through years of hard work, staying at the office until 8 or 9 or 10 PM every day, and so on and so forth?

But go ahead, enjoy your sport, shut down the town. What do you care? In a couple of years, some of you will grab your diplomas, leave your chants and phony claims of solidarity behind, and head off to the latest high-tech ventures, brimming with rhetoric about how this isn't like old businesses and how new technologies will erase economic inequalities. And then, if you're real lucky, you can shaft another generation of employees and stockholders, knowing that when you were 19, you were down with the people.

Because, of course, all capitalism - all business - is bad. It's all geared towards shafting people.

Well, Mr. Fisher, if we get rid of those evil corporations and those awful businessmen, who the fuck do you think will be employing the employees and producing dividends for the stockholders?

Maybe we could import some of Santa's elves down here to take their place.

Or maybe Mr. Fisher needs to grow up.

Just a thought.

The leftward axis of the blogosphere is up in arms. They (well, some of them, anyway) are unhappy that loser ex-candidate Al Gore is being called a liar for, well, lying in his Monday speech.

For example, Hesiod at Counterspin Central (what is it with these lefty bloggers and Greek noms de plume?) went back to the actual 1991 Gore Senate florr speech, in an attempt to show that Gore was really talking about our inaction in the face of Saddam's repression of uprisings immediately post-war.

It doesn't address the actual point, though. Gore said Monday that he "felt betrayed at our hasty departure from the battlefield."

Nothing like that, or even remotely like that, appears anywhere in the Senate floor comments, even when you add in the context as Hesiod does. It's still a lie, plain and simple.

Hesiod also asks in another post at his site, why we're not threating axis-of-evil member North Korea, despite many similarities to Iraq.

He, of course, says it's "all about oil!"

He doesn't mention the fact that, unlike Iraq, North Korea has a massive army that stands within artillery range of the capital city of an ally; an ally who, like Japan, is seeking reconcilliation with Pyongyang.

In the Middle East, Saddam cannot wreak massive death and destruction using only conventional weapons already in place, as North Korea could upon Seoul and other South Korean cities. And our only real ally in the Middle East, despite the threat it faces from Saddam's missiles and weapons of mass destruction, is in favor of our going in and removing Saddam.

I'd say that's an awfully big difference.
Old Reliable

It's Thursday, and you all know what that means: another bleating from the WashPost's Richard Cohen.

Let's see what he's got to say today. Keep in mind that on Tuesday, Richard wrote "I'm with the President most of the way on Iraq"...

Bully for Al Gore!

Speaking in San Francisco the other day, the president of most of the people -- he won the popular vote, remember -- ventured where few prominent Democrats have dared and criticized President Bush's approach to a war with Iraq. Almost instantly, of course, Gore was excoriated for playing politics with such a serious matter and, worse -- much, much worse -- complicating his party's strategy for the midterm elections.

Facts are stubborn things.

First of all, the popular vote is irrevelant.

Second, Gore "won" it by less than half of one percent, a slim enough margin to trigger an automatic recount in most states, and that's with widespread voting fraud by Democrats across the country.

Third, in any case, Gore got less than 50% of the vote, so even forgetting the first two points, he was not the choice of "most" of the people. And only about half of the eligible voters voted, so Gore was in fact the choice of something like 24 percent of eligible voters. That's not "most" by any definition that I'm familiar with.

But hey, who cares about reality? Not Richard, who appears to live on some sort of parallel Earth. Hmm...maybe he lives in Bizarro World...

One of the first responses to Gore's speech came from Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "It seems to be a speech that was more appropriate for a political hack than a presidential candidate," he said, calling the kettle black.

This, though, was the very same Republican National Committee that was told back in January to use the war on terrorism as a way for the GOP to win back the Senate and retain control of the House. The speaker was Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser.

That's true. And as noted here yesterday, in response to Tommy Daschle's little fit on the Senate floor, differentating one's posotions from one's opponents on a vitally important issue would seem to be not just good politics, but an obligation on the part of candidates.

Asking dishonest questions and lying about one's own record, on the other hand, as Gore did, well, that's another matter entirely. But then, in his office on the Bizarro planet, maybe lies are truth for Richard.

"We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," Rove advised his partisan audience. For some reason, I cannot find any record of Dyke's criticizing that remark, but I shall, as always, persevere.

Perhaps they trust the Republican Party because it is better at protecting America. Just a thought.

And you go right on perservering, Richard. It gives us something to write about, and, believe me, we're grateful.

As for the Democrats, many of them are so afraid of being labeled appeasers that they want to quickly give the president the war resolution he wants -- so they can then turn to the weak economy as a campaign issue. Many of these Democrats happen to share Gore's misgivings, but, to put matters in their crassest terms, they seem quite willing to sacrifice the odd 19-year-old soldier for the odd congressional seat.

Now, that's playing politics. And Richard here accuses the Dems of something far worse than he - or Gore - has ever accused the Republicans of: deliberately sacrificing the lives of American citizens for political gain.

And yet this is a column praising Democrats and questioning Repubilcans. Go figure.

From the reaction to Gore's speech, you would have thought he had advocated unilateral disarmament followed by an aid package for Iraq. On the contrary, he advocated "taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion," but only after the United States had built an "international coalition" to do so. He also said that Washington ought to first finish the job against Osama bin Laden and ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a Club Med for terrorists.

Well, if, as is likely, Osama bin Laden is already dead, buried under a mountain in Afghanistan, then the job against him personally is done. And as for a "timely fashion", well, Gore and his ex-boss had eight years and dithered and puttered rather than deal with the problem, leaving it to the current President to have to handle. So Al's credibility on this issue is not real high. Again, richard might want to read up on history.

These are some of the same points made by three retired four-star generals who testified that same day before Congress. The three -- John M. Shalikashvili, Wesley K. Clark and Joseph P. Hoar -- warned the Bush administration against going it alone on Iraq and said that war there could detract from the campaign against terrorism. These three are not generally considered to be in the peace wing of the Democratic Party.

Wesley Clark oversaw the embarrassing Kosovo campaign, in which several weeks of intense airstrikes destroyed, what, three enemy tanks. Perhaps his views on military matters ought to be looked at in that light.

For that matter, neither is Gore. He was one of only eight Senate Democrats to vote for the Persian Gulf War -- and, just for the record, he served in Vietnam. He knows a bit more about war than some of the drumbeaters who want not only to knock out Hussein (I'm for that) but also to virtually annex the Middle East. (What are these people talking about?) War is a serious matter and it ought to be debated seriously.

It has been debated seriously.

A serious question to Mr. Gore might be: why didn't Gore push for stronger action against Iraq when he was in power? Why did he and his ex-boss do nothing about Al Qaeda and refuse to take Osama bin Laden when he was offered to us?

And: why does he believe that the current state of the Middle East is a good thing? Other than the thugs who are actually in charge, the current status quo in the Middle East isn't good for anyone; not for us, not for the populations there, not for our ally and friend Israel. So why exactly is stability there so prized?

But it is not. All across the landscape, charges of "appeasement" fill the air. The accusers range from Fox News's Sean Hannity -- "Am I wrong? Are we watching something similar to appeasement before our eyes?" -- to the editorial pages of more than a few newspapers. Almost always, Hussein is likened to Hitler, Munich is mentioned and sometimes the Holocaust as well. The question, though, is not whether to give Hussein the Middle Eastern version of the Sudetenland but how -- and when -- to render him impotent or, better yet, gone. The means, not the ends, are in doubt.

Except they're not. The end is in lots of doubt, if Gore and his fellow opponents of the war get their way.

You may not agree with everything Gore said. But he raised some legitimate concerns. After all, the Bush administration has promoted this war with something less than a punctilious regard for fact or, for that matter, tact. It implied a nonexistent connection between al Qaeda and Hussein. It suggested the imminence of an Iraqi nuclear capability that's hardly imminent. It barged ahead unilaterally, pausing at the United Nations only after being forced to do so, and it shredded international law and precedent by asserting it can do whatever it wants in the name of self-defense. This is not a doctrine; it's an impulse.

Shredded international law? The same international law that Saddam Hussein has been violating with not only impunity but - from some - approval for two decades?

As long as a man who's invaded two neighbor countries, deliberately attacked civillians, and used chemical weapons against his neighbors, is proped up by the UN, international law is worse than useless. It's only function, obviously, is to hamstring the United States; and if Al Gore and Richard Cohen think that's a good thing, well, that's their opinion. But it puts them on the side of our enemies.

So, bully for Gore. He has raised some important issues. This is the solemn obligation of the opposition party and its de facto leader. And the solemn obligation of the president and his supporters is not to shout appeasement but to provide some answers.

We're waiting.

Um...they've been providing them all along. You're just not listening.

Maybe that news doesn't get through to Bizarro World.


Tom Daschle's Tantrum, Continued

I must stand corrected in small part; in criticizing Tom Daschle's remarks earlier today, I did not realize that the remarks of President Bush that the Senator was upset about were not in fact about war with Iraq.

What the President said was:

I asked Congress to give me the flexibility necessary to be able to deal with the true threats of the 21st century by being able to move the right people to the right place at the right time, so we can better assure America we're doing everything possible. The House responded. But the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington, and not interested in the security of the American people.

The President is here referring to the pandering by Democratic Senators to the civil service unions, which is what's holding up the Homeland Security bill.

And the President is exactly right about that.

Daschle begins his remarks in the same vein:

I am very saddened by the fact that we have debated homeland security now for four weeks. I have noted on several occasions that there is no reason why, on a bipartisan basis, this body cannot work together to overcome our differences and to pass a meaningful and a substantive bill dealing with homeland security.

But he quickly goes into full partisan mode:

Some have suggested that this delay has been politically motivated, and I have said I'm not willing to believe that. In fact, yesterday I said we intend to give the president benefit of the doubt.

Well, since the delay is coming from the Democratic members of the Senate, there is nothing for Daschle to be giving the President the benefit of the doubt about.

And then, in the next paragraph, he brings the Iraq debate into the discussion:

Over the course of the last several weeks, as we have debated Social Security, the issue of war in Iraq has become more and more prominent. And again, as I go back to my experience in 1991 and '92, during a similar period, fall and winter, prior and after an election, I expressed the concern that our politics and this climate could easily create a politicized environment, and in so doing diminish, minimize, degrade the debate on an issue as grave as war. No one here needs to be reminded of the consequences of war.

The President, in the remarks that Daschle flipped out about, did not mention Iraq or war at all. Daschle, however, did, and continued to do so, in the remarks that were discussed here and elsewhere earlier today.

If there was any politicizing going on, it was Tommy Daschle doing it. And if there's any apologizingto be done, as Daschle demanded at the end of his unseemly rant, it's Daschle who should be doing it, for deliberately misinterperting and lying about the President's words in a vain effort to score political points.

But I'm not going to hold my breath for that.

Well, If You Don't Like the Name "Redskins"...

...then Gregg Easterbrook, author of ESPN.com's weekly "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" football column has the answer for you.

His thought on a new, non-offensive name for the Redskins?

The Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons

Hey, it works for me. And it's a great column overall; if you're a football fan, check it out.
New Faces

In addition to the new comments system installed today, I've also added three more blogs to the link list.

First, there's Nora at Token Straight Chick, who was kind enough to link me at her site, and after all, fair's fair.

Second, there's Meryl Yourish, who's always worth reading.

And last, but not least, NZ Bear at The Truth Laid Bear.

All provide well more than the Recommended Daily Allowance of interesting, informative and well-written commentary. Go forth and read.

International Law

I made a comment yesterday while discussing Al Gore's speech about international law, which I haven't really seen answered anwhere by those who are opposed to war with Iraq. We hear a lot about how a unilateral U.S. attack on Iraq would upset international law and move us towards chaos, and so on.

Well, here's my question:

Shouldn't anyone who actually believes in international law and the importance of the United Nations want to see Saddam Hussein and his regime removed from power, and Hussein and his cronies on trial at The Hague?

Look at the record:

Saddam's regime has invaded two other sovreign nations in the past 20 years.

His regime has used chemical weapons both against Iran and against its own people.

It has deliberately attacked civillians (in the "War of the Cities" missile attacks against Iran).

It has violated the Geneva Convention in multiple ways.

It has violated the UN Charter repeatedly and openly, both in its international conduct and in its treatment of its own citizens.

It has violated agreements it signed with the UN Security Council.

It has violated UN Security Council resolutions openly for a decade.

None of these things is in disupte.

So: if international law is to mean anything, how can a ruler and a regime that has consistently, flagrantly and brazenly defied it in nearly every possible way for two decades be allowed to "get away with it"?

How can anyone who believes in the UN not demand that Saddam step down and surrender himself to international justice, along with the other high officials of his government? How can anyone who supports international law not call for his removal, by force if necessary, if he doesn't do so?

What the hell does international law even mean if Saddam can violate it repeatedly and with absolute impunity?

Can anybody answer that for me?
Tom Daschle Is Unhappy

And he's throwing a full-on temper tantrum on the Senate floor; so reports Drudge.

Here's what Tommy Boy has to say today:

"...reports of the vice president, the vice president comes to fund-raisers, as he did just recently in Kansas. The headline written in the paper the next day about the speech he gave to that fund-raiser was, ``Cheney Talks About War: Electing Taft Would Aid War effort.''

Well, it probably would aid the war effort. Putting people in office who understand that we actually are in a war can only help, I'd think.

And then we find a diskette discovered in Lafayette Park, a computer diskette that was lost somewhere between a Republican strategy meeting in the White House and the White House. Advice was given by Karl Rove, and the quote in the disk was ``focus on war.'

Unless this is a different story, Tommy's talking about something that happened several months ago.

And...um...talking about the war, and contrasting one's position on the war with one's opponent's position on the war, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. After all, how else will voters get a say in our foreign policy. We don't conduct it by plebiscite. We get our say by voting for the candidates whose views most closely match our own on how foreign policy ought to be conducted. If the candidates don't talk about it, well...

I guess right from the beginning, I felt, well, first it was pollsters, then it was White House staff, and then it was the vice president, and all along I was asked, are you concerned about whether or not this war is politicized, and my answer on every occasion was yes. And then the follow-up question is, is the White House politicizing the war? And I said without question, I can't bring myself to believe that it is. I can't believe any president or any administration would politicize the war.

Tommy's got it backwards. Using politics to decide when or how to go to war would be a problem. This is not happening. Using the different stances of the parties on the war to differentiate what each party and candidate believes, and making that a campaign issue, is entirely valid.

There sure were a lot of folks on the anti-war side crowing about Gerhard Schroeder and his use of anti-war and anti-American rhetoric in his election campaign. And there are plenty of Democrats who want to make opposition to the war and the Administration's conduct thereof an eleciton issue. But I guess that's only allowed to work one way.

But then I read in the paper this morning. Now, even the president. The president is quoted in ``The Washington Post'' this morning as saying that Democratic--the Democratic-controlled Senate is not interested in the security of the American people. Not interested in the security of the American people? You tell Senator Inoue he is not interested in the security of the American people. You tell those who fought in Vietnam and in World War II they are not interested in the security of the American people. That is outrageous--outrageous.

Well, Tommy, clearly you're less interested in the security of the American people than in remaining Majority Leader of the Senate. Your distortions and lies about how you've been briefed by the Administration are on the record. Your desire to postpone a vote on Iraq until after the midterm elections - despite the fact that such a move gives Saddam Hussein more time to work on his weapons of mass destruciton and to plot against us - is also on the record.

Your vote against using force to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1990 is on the record, too. Shall we go on, Senator...?

The president ought to apologize to Senator Inoue and every veteran who fought in every war who is a Democrat in the United States Senate. He ought to apologize to the American people. That is wrong. We ought not politicize this war. We ought not to politicize the rhetoric about war in life and death.

You've politicized life and death countless times, as has your party, Senator.

The fact is, it is a political matter. Your party and the Republicans have very different views on how - or if - a war on Iraq should be conducted; and on how the war on terror generally should be conducted. From where I - and a lot of people - sit, your positions appear to be less concerned with the safety of the American people, and more with pleasing EU bureaucrats and the editorial board of the New York Times. I'm sorry if that offends you, but life can be cruel, I guess.

I was in Normandy just last year. I've been in national cemeteries all over this country, and I have never seen anything but stars, the Star of David, and crosses on those markers. I have never seen Republican and Democrat.

This has got to end, Mr. President. We've got get on with the business of our country. We've
got to rise to a higher level. Our founding fathers would be embarrassed by what they are
seeing going on right now. We've got to do better than this. Our standard of deportment ought
to be better. Those who died gave their lives for better than what we are giving now.

So, Mr. President, it's not too late it end this politicization. It's not too late to forget the pollsters, forget the campaign fund-raisers, forget making accusations about how interested in national security Democrats are, and let's get this job done right, let's rise to the
occasion. That's what American people are expecting. And we ought to give them no less.

But the point is, Senator, that you don't even want to do the job at all! You've said as much, just as you did with your vote in 1990. You clearly do not believe that Iraq is a threat to the national security of the United States. The President believes, as I do, as many Americans do, that Iraq is a threat to our national security. In our view, you and the Democrats who think as you do are wrong in your beliefs about our national security, and therefore we want to replace you with candidates who, in our view, are not wrong about our national security.

That may be politics, but it is the sort of politics that is absolutely necessary, and your puerile whining will not change that one bit.
Normal Service Has Been Resumed

The comment system has been fixed. This was accomplished by moving to a new comment system, generously provided by the nice people at Haloscan.

Old comments are gone, unfortunately, but new comments can once again be posted.

Thank you for your patience.
Technicnal Difficulties

Comments are down. Don't know why. Don't know when they will be back up. Will report more information if/when it is available.

We apologize for the inconvenience.
More on Al's Speech

Just a couple more notes on Al Gore's "courageous" (so said Joe Conason at Salon) speech on Monday:

First, there's Michael Kelly's take on it in today's WashPost:

This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore's big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts -- bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

Really, I can't argue any of that.

And then there's this, pointed out to me by Jeff Durkin, and reported on Fox News. Here's what Al said on Monday:

Back in 1991, I was one of a handful of Democrats in the United States Senate to vote in favor of the resolution endorsing the Persian Gulf War. And I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield.

And here's what Al said in 1991, after our "hasty departure from the battlefield":

“I want to state this clearly, President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein's survival to this point. There was throughout the war a clear consensus that the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives. On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that when this was accomplished, combat should stop."

Well, there it is in black and white. Al's words, straight from the Congressional Record.

And that settles matters, really. In addition to being a failed candidate, a political opportunist, and many, many other failings, Al's a goddamn, baldfaced liar, and a bad one to boot.

But then some of us knew that all along.

Clinton and Bin Laden

We've discussed this before, but John Hawkins has the words of the former Narcissist-in-Chief himself, big as life, regarding the Clinton administration's failure to take custody of Osama bin Laden when they had the chance.

Here's Billy boy himself:

"Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan.

"And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start meeting with them again - they released him.

"At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.

"So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan."

No basis?

He'd already declared his intention to wage jihad against the U.S. That could have been taken as a declaration of war, and acted upon accordingly.

Bin Laden could have been taken and thrown into a cell somewhere under the Pentagon for the rest of his life. His privately chartered plane could have been shot down. Any number of things could have been done, if the President in office at the time actually cared about doing his job and defending the citizens of the United States from their enemies.

And maybe some enterprising reporter could ask Al Gore where he was while it was being decided to allow a wealthy, dangerous, murderous terrorist to escape to freedom in Afghanistan. That would have been a nice follow-up question after his pretty little speech on Monday, wouldn't it?

Just When You Think She Can't Get Any Shallower, She Drains a Little More Water Out of the Pool

We're referring, of course, to Mo Dowd of the NY Times.

Mo bleats on and on and on, ranting delusionally, applying whatever cultural metaphor-du-jour is flitting through her brain come deadline time to the President and his administration. And I'm just a shcmuck tapping away for an average audience of 68 readers a day. But that's fine. As long as tripe like her columns is given free run of the most valuable editorial real estate on the planet, I'll be here setting things straight.

That said, buckle up, and be sure your tray tables are in their full upright and locked positions. Here we go on a descent into the depths of Dowdworld!

They rule their world ruthlessly and insolently, deciding who will get a cold shoulder, who will get locked out of the power clique and who will get withering glares until they grovel and obey the arbitrary dictates of the leaders.

We could be talking about the middle-school alpha girls, smug cheerleaders with names like Darcy, Brittany and Whitney.

But, no, we're talking about the ostensibly mature and seasoned leaders of the Western world, a slender former cheerleader named W. and his high-hatting clique — Condi, Rummy and Cheney.

Well, it's good to see that Mo finally got around to reading that piece in the Times magazine from a few months back about high school cliques. She may be a bit slow, but her days must just be filled with...whatever it is that La Dowd does...so I guess we can cut her some clack.

It's amusing to read this sort of thing, delivered breathlessly as though it's somehow new or unique. Groveling, obeying dictates, power cliques? Sounds a bit like the Clinton White House to me.

Oh, and three guesses where La Dowd fit into the alpha/beta/gamma girl spectrum in her teenage days, and the first two don't count.

I used to think the Bush hawks suffered from testosterone poisoning, always throwing sharp elbows and cartoonishly chesty my-way-or-the-highway talk around the world, when a less belligerent tone would be classier and more effective.

Effective? We had eight years of that, and it got us 3,000 dead citizens, and left you ranting about how your spoiled yuppiehood (this is not an ad hominem, by the way. La Dowd referred to herself as a "spoiled yuppie" in a column written during last fall's anthrax scare. You could look it up) left you unprepared for the horrible new world you were confronted with after September 11th. Thanks, Mo, but no thanks.

But now we have the spectacle of the 70-year-old Rummy acting like a 16-year-old Heather, vixen-slapping those lower in the global hierarchy, trying to dominate and silence the beta countries with less money and fewer designer weapons.

At a meeting of NATO defense ministers this week in Warsaw, the Pentagon chief snubbed his German counterpart, Peter Struck, refusing to meet with him, only deigning to shake his hand at a cocktail party.

Ah. When our leaders say things that could possibly offend foreign diplomats ("Israel should be allowed to defend itself"; "nations that sponsor terrorists are our enemy", and so on), we're called "cowboys" and blamed for upsetting the world order. Cabinet members in an allied government compare the President to Adolf Hitler and we're supposed to smile and nod.

Echoing Condi's peevishness, Rummy announced that the campaign of Gerhard Schröder, who eked out a victory by running against the Bush push to invade Iraq, "had the effect of poisoning a relationship."

In their eagerness to apply adolescent torture methods, Bush hawks seem to have forgotten history: Do we really want to punish the Germans for being pacifists? Once those guys get rolling in the other direction, they don't really know how to put the brakes on.

It's a bit more than that, Mo. Schroeder ran against America generally, not merely against Iraq; whipping up and playing to unworthy and dishonest sentiments. That's fine; he has every right to do that. He does not have the right to expect that we're just going to smile and pretend it never happened, though.

Mr. Schröder behaved like a good beta, trying to align himself with the American alphas, by dumping his embarrassing friends, the justice minister who linked Mr. Bush's tactics to Hitler's, and the parliamentary floor leader who compared W. to Augustus, the Roman emperor who subdued the Germanic tribes.

Mr. Struck and the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, were eager wannabes. Mr. Struck offered more German troops for Afghanistan and Mr. Fischer apologized to Colin Powell, the administration's gamma girl, the careful listener who'd always rather build relationships than run roughshod over them.

Schroeder was a political opportunist; as noted above, he can say and do whatever he wants. But he can't gloss it over afterwards and assume that we'll just forgive and forget his comments or his campaign.

If he's a "wannabe" now, maybe it's because he realized he want way too far, and that we're no longer in a mood to be insulted in that manner anymore. What a concept.

Gerhard will have to go through way more of a shame spiral. He can forget about getting Germany a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. And no more bratwurst on White House menus.

The State Department wanted the petulant president to make nice with the Germans. But W. was, like, enjoying his hissy fit, refusing to make the customary call to congratulate Mr. Schröder.

A "shame spiral"? Now Mo's using made-up pop psychology from "The Simpsons". That's great. For this they pay her for two columns a week?

Bush senior was a master of personal diplomacy, taking heads of state out on his cigarette boat, to Orioles games and to the Air and Space Museum to see the movie "To Fly."

He was a foreign policy realist who used socializing, gossiping, notes and phone calls to lubricate relations with other leaders.

And as I recall, Mo and the Times trashed him for that at the time. Ten years later, they can safely praise him, and look as though they're being reasonable. Nice try.

There's a bit more, but I'm tired, and it's all drivel anyway. It's just another in the constant stream of hit pieces the Times is pumping out against the President and his policies.

All the News that Fits Howell Raines' Agenda.


I Guess He Finally Got the Word

I suppose Tom Friedman of the NY Times wasn't quite hitting the viciousness level that's obviously demanded these days of Times columnists when it comes to the President.

He appears to have rectified that, which will no doubt put him back in the good graces of Howell Raines and Gail Collins back at the home office; at least if this is any indication.

In the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Friedman says of the President: "I don't think he is a particularly complex human being, and a lot of the rap on him is true: There is a real, silly frat-boy side to him."


The Bush people are really good at smashing things. If you've got a wrecking job, they are your guys. They're cold. They're calculating, and they have the potential to be cruel." Cruel, Friedman adds, "in the best sense of the word."

And, taking a page from Paul Krugman's vendetta against the Administration:

"I think these guys are bought and paid by Big Oil in America, and they are going to do nothing that will in any way go against the demands and interests of the big oil companies. I mean, let's face it. Exxon, Mobil -- I think this is a real group of bad guys, considering that they have funded all the anti-global-warming propoganda out there in the world. And Bush is just not gonna go against guys like that. They are bad, bad guys. I mean, Bush's ranch is going to look like a moonscape in ten years if these trends continue."

Because we all know that (1) global warming has been incontrovertibly proven, and (2) the only response is to cripple the U.S. economy while allowing developing countries to emit as much greenhouse gas as they please.

And that's it. They'd prefer not to see their businesses legislated out of existence in service to unproven theories; the bastards!

How's about you stick to something you know, Tommy? Go back to filing hopelessly utopian dispatches from exciting foreign capitals while living off the Times' expense account; you're pretty good at that.
Crap, Crap and More Crap

That's what Salon is dishing up with their "reporting' on Iraq.

The best example is this piece by Ian Williams (helpfully identified as the UN Correspondent for The Nation. You can just smell the objectivity).

I'll just hit the highlights here:

when former President George Bush went to war to chase Iraq out of Kuwait, he pledged the world in general, and the Arabs in particular, that the U.S. would push hard on the Middle East peace process immediately afterwards. "And he met the promise, and began the process with the Madrid peace talks,"

Well, yes. And look at all the good that did. Legitimacy was conferred on a murderous, thieving goon and on his cabal of thugs. Israel was eventually coerced into making unprecedented concessions, only to have them thrown back in their face by said murderous thieving goon, and we finally got the new Intifada.

Yeah, I'd call that a smashing success.

Everyone from close allies like Tony Blair to strategic partners like Saudi Arabia to U.N. head Kofi Annan have been telling Bush that the U.S. needs to advance the peace process

Ah, yes. The "peace process." Not actual peace, mind you, but the Process. A Process which appears to consist of Israel being arm-twisted into ever more concessions; while allowing Palestinian terrorists to murder Israeli civillians with impunity.


But here's a question: how come nobody ever takes the Arab states, or the EU, or the UN, to task for failing to put pressure on the Palestinians to advance peace from their end?

In the eyes of most of the world, Bush seized the moral high ground after his speech in the General Assembly -- and then last week he slid off it. It was not merely because he behaved like a petulant kid who took his ball and went home when Saddam Hussein said he would let in the weapons inspectors without conditions, thus revealing the shallowness of his conversion to multilateralism. It was also because it became clear once again that the U.S.'s Middle East policy is barely distinguishable from Ariel Sharon's.

Here's the latest Big Lie from opponents of our foreign policy again. Iraq's response was not to allow unconditional inspections. Hey, Mr. Williams: read the goddamn letter that Iraq sent to the UN! You're a UN Correspondent, surely you should be able to find it, right?

But facts are secondary here, when the goal is to blindly attack the U.S. and the President.

There's a lot more, but it's all the same. It's all dishonest bleating and long-distance psychoanalysis of the President.

And, of course, it offers nothing as an alternative policy, because, well, why bother with that?
Hey, Al: You Lost! Shut Up! Go Home! No One Cares Anymore!

Android Al Gore spoke the other day about a possible war with Iraq.

Others (Susanna Cornett, Rachel Lucas, and many more) have already commented on Gore's pointless and misguided words. But there's always more to say on that subject, so let's take a look at some of what Al had to say:

Like all Americans I have been wrestling with the question of what our country needs to do to defend itself from the kind of intense, focused and enabled hatred that brought about September 11th, and which at this moment must be presumed to be gathering force for yet another attack. I'm speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country which I believe would be preferable to the course recommended by President Bush. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

That's nice. Here's another question you can wrestle with, Al: how come you and your pal the former Narcissist-in-Chief didn't have any "specific course of action" to deal with the "intense, focused and enabled hatred" when it tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993; or when it blew up the Khobar towers, or our two embassies in 1998, or the USS Cole in 2000? You guys were in charge for eight years, as I recall.

Oh, and how come you didn't do anything about Saddam Hussein when he spent your entire term violating every pledge he signed after the Gulf War, while he thumbed his nose at us, while his forces shot at our planes and tried to assassinate a former President?

Just curious.

Moreover, (President Bush) is demanding in this high political season that Congress speedily affirm that he has the necessary authority to proceed immediately against Iraq and for that matter any other nation in the region, regardless of subsequent developments or circumstances. The timing of this sudden burst of urgency to take up this cause as America's new top priority, displacing the war against Osama Bin Laden, was explained by the White House Chief of Staff in his now well known statement that "from an advertising point of view, you don't launch a new product line until after labor day."

Um...he's been talking about it since at least January, Al. Maybe you were too busy growing that new beard (or were you shaving it; it's so hard to keep up) to notice. And your party's been calling for a Congressional debate. Well, you got it - it's ungrateful to complain now, I'd say.

Far more damaging, however, is the Administration's attack on fundamental constitutional rights. The idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedies, and that this can be done on the say-so of the President or those acting in his name, is beyond the pale.

You know, he isn't wrong here. But coming from a man whose administration showed utter contempt for Constitutional rights itself, it's a bit hard to take seriously. Remember your boss' "Terrorism Bill"?

Remember when your Attorney General incinerated 93 people?

I could go on, but I trust the point is made.

Regarding other countries, the Administration's disdain for the views of others is well documented and need not be reviewed here. It is more important to note the consequences of an emerging national strategy that not only celebrates American strengths, but appears to be glorifying the notion of dominance. If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends are legion; if what we represent to the world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion.

It's not "disdain for the views of others"; it's a focus on what our interests are. Yes, the Bush Administration has turned away from a foreign policy designed primarily to please European diplomats but instead work towards serving the American people. What a concept.

Talking about "pre-emption", Android Al says:
At the same time, the concept of pre-emption is accessible to other countries. There are plenty of potential imitators: India/Pakistan; China/Taiwan; not to forget Israel/Iraq or Israel/Iran. Russia has already cited it in anticipation of a possible military push into Georgia, on grounds that this state has not done enough to block the operations of Chechen rebels. What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.

Well, Al, pre-emption is already accessible to other countries. That's what Iraq did in 1990 to Kuwait (and in the 80's to Iraq). And what China already did and continues to do in Tibet. And the Russians in Chechyna.

Oh, and they are fighting on the border of India and Pakistan already. International law did not prevent those nations from stepping to the brink of nuclear war.

This argument is asinine. Besides, if support and strengthing of International law really is the goal here, Al ought to be in full support of us going to remove Saddam. After all, he's violated the UN Charter, the Geneva Convention, and just about every other international treaty in myriad ways. He has been for a decade in open and notorious breach of the UN Security Council, and of agreements he signed with the UN. Support for international law would seem to dictate his removal, and his trial and punishment.

The UN ought to be leading the charge to do this; since they're not, we're just making a "citizen"s arrest". Does that make you feel better, Al?

Didn't think so. But then, as we already noted, Al's opinion is irrevelant. His administration allowed Iraq and other problems to fester for eight years; nothing he has to say on the matter now is worth listening to.
Richard Cohen and Hitler

Sorry, I couldn't resist that headline. But Richard does write about Hitler this morning in the WashPost, so it isn't actually inaccurate.

Let's look at what Our Friend Richard has to say:

The breach between Germany and the United States has produced an odd but possibly illuminating rewriting of history. I am referring not to the stupid remark of the German justice minister in which she purportedly likened President Bush's tactics to those of Hitler but to the response that came from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice: How could any German say such a thing after all the United States had done to liberate Germany from Hitler?

So Richard's problem is not that a sitting German cabinet member likened the PResident to Hitler. No, instead, it's Condi Rice's reply (I guess Richard missed the comments from the recently deposed Defense Minister blaming U.S. policy on the Jewish stranglehold on American media and government. Or maybe Richard agrees with that; with Richard, it's hard to know what he thinks. Even he doesn't know sometimes!)

The problem is that Germany was not liberated. Instead, Germans fought on behalf of a criminal regime until the bitter end. They fought even after defeat was certain. They fought after U.S. troops had crossed into Germany from the west and Soviet troops from the east. They ceased fighting only after Hitler killed himself. Then and only then was Germany "liberated."

I guess Richard has read "Hitler's Willing Executioners" recently.

No. If he had, he'd be telling us all about it, and how clever he felt about it.

That said, he isn't really wrong about Germany, but this is certainly not a new interpertation of history, or one unique to either Condi Rice or the Bush Administration. But any chance to take a shot at them, I guess...

Rice made her remark to the Financial Times, a British newspaper. She understandably expressed dismay at what the German justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, had said, because it truly was in rotten taste. Even that opportunistic critic of U.S. policy, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, felt obliged to write Bush a letter of apology, and yesterday he accepted Daeubler-Gmelin's resignation.

It's a little more than "rotten taste", Richard.

But Rice went on: "How can you use the name of Hitler and the name of the president of the United States in the same sentence? Particularly, how can a German [say such a thing], given the devotion of the U.S. in the liberation of Germany from Hitler?"

Coming from a student of history, this is bad history. It happens to coincide with what the Communist East German government once held: Hitler was imposed on the German people. This is why the Communist East, as opposed to the democratic West, paid no reparations to Holocaust survivors. What happened, the Communists contended, wasn't the fault of Germans.

Well, this is true. But, again, it is hardly new or unique.

A single remark does not a doctrine make, and it's possible Rice merely misspoke. But I cannot overlook how much Saddam Hussein is being likened to Hitler (and Bush to Churchill) and how some influential people are arguing, in essence, that the United States will not be making war on Iraq, it will be liberating it. The personification of that thinking is the defense intellectual and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle: "If I had to guess, I would predict that Hussein ultimately would be destroyed by his own forces, whose loyalty he has good reason to question."

Of course you can't overlook it, Richard. All the cool kids are talking about it; Mo Dowd's written about it, so you can't possibly be left behind, right?

From Perle's mouth to God's ear. But my Washington Post colleague Rajiv Chandrasekaran, completing almost two weeks of reporting in Iraq, finds that Hussein is significantly more popular now than he was at the end of the Persian Gulf War. Chandrasekaran is an experienced foreign correspondent, and he allows for the fact that he was operating in something less than a free society. I have reported from Iraq, and I can tell you that most of the time your every move is watched.

Could that possibly have anything to do with the fact that, at the end of the Gulf War, Hussein had been humiliated by the U.S., and his army had been shattered, and forced to withdraw from Kuwait with its tail between its legs? Might that have something to do with public opinion?

Maybe ten years later, that humiliation has faded just a bit, contributing to Hussein's increased popularity? Just a thought.

But clearly things have changed. Saddam Hussein, once a secular fellow, has transformed himself into a deeply religious Muslim. He has built mosques. He is the region's foremost anti-Zionist. This transformation may be patently self-serving, but Stalin did something similar in World War II and, presto, went from tyrant to "Uncle Joe."

This is idiotic. Stalin's transformation came mainly in the West, where he went from being portrayed as a vicious tyrant to a trusted ally. He was always a tyrant in the Soviet Union.

What worked for Stalin may be working for Hussein. He has allowed unprecedented, although limited, access to the Internet and to Western videos. He doesn't even jam Radio Sawa, a U.S.-funded station that transmits from Kuwait. These steps do not a Jeffersonian democracy make, but they do suggest Hussein is less afraid of his own people than some people in Washington assert or believe.

Other observers have made the same point. The idea that Hussein's army will desert may be little more than wishful thinking. If it is that -- if Iraqis fight in the cities or wage guerrilla war -- then the United States is going to be in for a long, hard slog. In the end, after all, it was the army that saved Hussein's neck. It put down rebellions the United States had encouraged Iraqis to launch.

What other obsevers? Oh, that would require research, wouldn't it? That's work. We really can't expect too much from Richard, after all.

In World War II the Germans kept fighting even after Russian troops had entered Berlin. In the waning days of the war, Japan sacrificed more than 4,000 pilots and planes in horrific kamikaze attacks, fighting against all logic until the United States dropped two atomic bombs. In Vietnam, enemy forces fought with tenacity and bravery. They, too, were fighting for a dictatorship.

And in 1991, Iraqi forces surrended en masse. So?

I am with President Bush most of the way on Iraq. If inspections are thwarted, if Hussein plays his old games, then America has no choice but to hit him. But we should not think that the war will be easy. It may not be, and in that case Iraq will have to be "liberated" the usual way -- by a bitter war and a protracted occupation.

You're with the President? Since when? Last week, you didn't know, and you said you were readt to settle for peace, since no case had been made. What's changed since last Thursday, Richard? Did you miss your meds and have one of those nasty mood swings again?

What a twit.
Still More Wackiness From the Democrats

In other news from the party of tolerance and inclusion, back on Saturday, it was reported in the WashPost that the oh-so-saintly Kathleen Kennedy Townsend fired a new campaign consultant, Julius Henson, when, on his first day on the job, he made the following comment:

"Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi. His record is horrible, atrocious," Henson said in a telephone interview. "In Prince George's County, we'll define him as the Nazi that he is. Once we do that, I think people will vote for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend."

Of course, it doesn't end there. Henson, in today's WashPost:

said yesterday that Democratic officials have asked him to continue working "undercover" on behalf of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Henson claims that a Democratic official:

"...said the Jewish community is so up in arms that they have to get rid of me. But 'we still want you to work undercover, and we'll work it out. We'll pay you some kind of way."

I just knew the Jews would come into it somewhere. Although it is curious that Henson believes both that the Republican candidate is a Nazi, and that he's heavily supported by the Jewish community. I'm not sure exactly how that works.

For her part, Kennedy Townsend denies that such a request was made of Henson. According to a spokesman:

"Mr. Henson's claims are absolutely, patently false."

You'll forgive me if I don't believe the Kennedy Townsend campaign. They've been dishonest before; it's kind of a theme, really. Runs in the family, I suppose. I guess when your political career can be traced back to your grandfather's organized crime empire, well, honesty and clean campaigns are probably not going to come naturally.