Monday, July 26, 2004

Laugh at Yourselves, Candidates!

Saw Al Gore's Demo convention speech tonight and was reminded of Bob Dole appearing on Saturday Night Live after losing the election. After Dole's SNL appearance I remember his supported saying "Why didn't he act like that when he was running?" In an hour and a half, Dole poked fun at himself and others and showed that he wasn't entirely the weird blood-sucking vampire that he appeared to be during his campaign.

Well, same for Gore. Tonight he had a couple of funny lines that I'll paraphrase here. First, he described the Bush economy as being a hard deal and said "I was the first one laid off." That was pretty darned funny, I thought. Then, he followed up by addressing the types of jobs that have been created in recent months as being "not as good as the jobs that were lost." His punchline was, "that applies to me, too."

Without the Presidency on the line, Gore seemed less robotic, more human and not so arrogant. He lost the election because too many Americans thought he was a self-important android and, honestly, during the 2000 campaign, Gore acted like one.

Gore also said that in a Democracy we can hold the President accountable for his mistakes, even if he'll never admit that he made a mistake. This is the big cue for Kerry: be self deprecating from time to time -- laugh at yourself. Dubya is too arrogant to do that. If you take the opposite approach by outlining your qualifications while not denying your foibles, then he'll be the arrogant one. And voters hate an arrogant candidate.

Take the good advice, John Kerry -- don't be another candidate without emotion who doesn't show his true, human self until the election is lost. Don't make us wish the guy on SNL or at the convention four years later, was the guy we saw campaign.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Should Clinton have resigned? NY Review of Books says "Yes." They're wrong.

Gary Wills has an excellent review of Bill Clinton's memoirs in this issue of the New York Review of Books and it's been made available online here:

But, I have to take issue with Wills' conclusion, which is that Clinton should have resigned after the Lewinskey scandal and the Paula Jones trial combined to trap him into the perjury that led to his impeachment. Wills has thought out his position rather well, so before I start disagreeing with him, here's his money shot, from the review:

"What would have happened had Clinton resigned? Gore would have been given a "honeymoon" in which he could have played with a stronger hand all the initiatives Clinton had begun, unashamed of them and able to bring them fresh energy. That is what happened when Lyndon Johnson succeeded John Kennedy. Clinton himself may have reaped a redeeming admiration for what he had sacrificed to recover his honor. Before him would have lain all the opportunities he has now, and more. Hillary Clinton's support of him in this act of real contrition would have looked nobler. Clinton's followers were claiming that it was all and only about sex. Clinton could have said, "Since that is what it is about, I'll step aside so more important things can be addressed." All the other phony issues Starr had raised would have fallen of their own insubstantiality."

I don't know a thing about political strategy so I can't really say Wills is wrong about how a Clinton resignation would have played out. But, I do know this: A lot of people voted for Clinton. Twice. The public didn't support the impeachment and our elective representatives knew it, which is one of the reasons why, though impeached, Clinton was not convicted. As a man elected in a Democracy, Clinton had a responsibility not to his legacy or to Al Gore, but to the people who put him in office. Had he resigned, rather than fight, he would allowed his opponents to nullify the will of millions of voters.

Which is exactly what his opponents did in 2000.

Our Democracy, fragile and flawed though it may be, needs defenders. By not resigning, Clinton defended it. That will be, I think, eventually recognized as part of his legacy.

Friday, July 23, 2004

See, just as I said in the post below

July 23rd, right winger Charles Krauthammer urges war with... Iran!

Says Chuck: "The country should be ripe for revolution. But the mullahs are very good at police-state tactics. The long-awaited revolution is not happening. Which makes the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent. Iran will go nuclear during the next presidential term. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the "Great Satan" will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or preemptive strike.

Both of which, by the way, are far more likely to succeed with 146,000 American troops and highly sophisticated aircraft standing by just a few miles away - in Iraq."

Another disaster scenario, another cause for war. No mention of the fact that we're over-budget and undermanned already.

9-11: 360 Degrees (as we go round and round)

Yesterday it was footage of the 9-11 hijackers passing through airport screening. Today it's the New York Post screaming: "They Failed Us" as the 9-11 Commission has delivered its final report. But I think we need to be honest here -- without the benefit of hindsight, nobody failed us and the mood of the late 1990s pretty much caused any intelligence about a cataclysmic threat to fall on deaf ears.

Think back to 1998/1999. Remember Y2K? Our computers were set to turn on us. Power plants would fail, communications networks would be disrupted, there would be a run on the banks and a global depression would follow. Was Y2K a real crises, averted by billions of dollars spent on key systems? Or was it a panicked waste of billions of dollars? We'll never know. But most people remember New Year's Day 2000 as the day that apocalypse stood us up.

Had you said to me, 6 months later, that Al-Qaeda agents were going to hijack commuter planes and crash them into buildings, well, I might have listened but probably would have ignored you. Seems like a lot of Richard Clarke's colleagues did that to him. He was known, to some, as a "one-note nut job" for his fanatical obsession with Osama Bin Laden. It's hard not to sympathize with Clarke's colleagues on that one.

These days, it's easy to persuade people by using dire threats. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said we had to attack Iraq on dubious intelligence because the smoking gun might be "a mushroom cloud." Well, she was wrong. Iraq had no mushroom cloud-making apparatus.

She got away with making this false claim. She still has her job. Seems there's an ebb and flow to our willingness to react to threat. In the late 1990s we ignored most everything. As the Millenium approached, we got a little panicky about Y2K, when the Y2K threat didn't materialize we got complacent again, then 9-11 happened and, ever since, we've been back in that Pre-Millenial "What if they do X? What if they do Y?" mentality.

But the truth is, the vast majority of dire predictions will never come true. People are, in general, really bad about predicting the future. That's one of the reasons that people tend to be a bit short-sighted. There's too much complexity in long-term predictions. For example: General Motors offers a service called On*Star in its cars. It's a dashboard cell phone that can connect you with some one who can give you directions to a hospital or restaurant. Neat. It was first proposed to GM in the Mid-1980s, though and it was pitched this way: "In 20 years, our cities will be so dangerous and decayed that car jackings will be common. All drivers will need to be able to contact the police instantly." Wrong! Fine product, but it works for completely the opposite reason -- it works because the economy grew so rapidly over the following two decades that drivers started using their discretionary income to add bells and whistles to their cars. What was pitched as a security device for our "Mad Max" Future became a convenience device for our indulgent, "Passion" present.

The lesson of 9-11 is not that we should have been more fearful or more compliant or more willing to believe in dire predictions. There will always be unexpected events and there will always be people, before unknown, who will emerge as all-knowing Svengalis. But for every Richard Clarke who got it right there are hundreds of people saying the most ridiculous things you can ever imagine. The real threat now is that, still wounded, we disrupt our lives by falling for their well-intentioned cautionary tales.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Oh no, the Military's Out of Money... and, um... people!

Says the Washington Post today (July 22, 2004): "The U.S. military has spent most of the $65 billion that Congress approved for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scrambling to find $12.3 billion more from within the Defense Department to finance the wars through the end of the fiscal year, federal investigators said yesterday."

And here I thought the War in Iraq was supposed to be free. You know, because we would sell their oil to pay for it. Free war! It would be a big old violent hippie party! Nope. Not free.

Now, as the military tries to dig up some scratch it's also having a tough time recruiting new soldiers. See, it's not easy to get people the join the Army when we're engaged in two foreign occupations, have called the National Guards and Reserves into service and have forced soldiers to stay on for additional tours after their commitments are up. Everyone who signs up now knows they're headed for war before they get any free college out of the deal.

This just compounds the Pentagon's budget problem, of course. The military needs more money just to fund its present operations and if it needs to recruit and train more soldiers, it will need more money on top of that.

So, what do we do?

Here's an outrageous suggestion: We stop fighting so many wars. If the military has a recruitment problem, then that's basically the American people saying, by not enlisting, that they just aren't willing to die for the causes we've been fighting lately. If the military has a budget problem, that means that the administration has used it irresponsibly because the Pentagon is and has been rather generously funded over the years.

If we had focused only on Afghanistan, which was a legitimate and, I think, necessary target after 9-11, we would not have to pony up more dough to our khaki gun toters and we would have plenty of ready, volunteer forces to deal with any emergency. Just one unnecssary war changed all of that.

I'm really not sure why this isn't a huge scandal. Carter was accused of weakening the military by not spending enough on it. Well, Bush has weakened the military by using it to fight an optional war that has strained its resources, hurt it's ability to recruit and will force American tax payers to divert money away from educational and social programs in order to keep the Pentagon afloat.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is a Huge Honking Liar

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has weighed in on the Bergering of classified documents from the National Archives. His hysterical rant goes like this:

"What could those documents have said that drove Mr. Berger to remove them without authorization from a secure reading room for classified documents? What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation's most sensitive secrets? Did these documents detail simple negligence or did they contain something more sinister? Was this a bungled attempt to rewrite history and keep critical information from the 9/11 Commission and potentially put their report under a cloud?”

Let’s be clear her, Hastert, THERE ARE NO DOCUMENTS MISSING FROM THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES. Want proof? Here’s two paragraphs from the Associated Press story about the Bergering that clearly say the documents at issue were NOTES TAKEN BY BERGER and COPIES OF DOCUMENTS, not originals. History has not been rewritten and Dennis Hastert is a huge honking liar.

From the Associated Press, Monday July 19th:

“Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had taken from classified anti-terror documents he reviewed at the National Archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio, they said.”

And, again:

When asked, Berger said he returned some of the classified documents, which he found in his office, and all of the handwritten notes he had taken from the secure room, but said he could not locate two or three copies of the highly classified millennium terror report.

Damn You, Super Man!

Here's a story about a man dressed up in a Super Man costume who attacked two motorists in Ann Arbor, Michigan

But, don't read the whole thing, here's the best part: "The identity of the man wearing the Superman costume was being withheld pending possible charges of assault and battery."

Identity not released! But why is it that whenever Super Man is attacking motorists, Clark Kent isn't?

Hey, Don't Berger those Documents!

Seems that, when preparing his testimony for the 9-11 Commission, Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor to Bill Clinton, accidentally took some classified docs from the National Archives. When the Archives called him saying "Um, did you take our classified documents?" Berger brought them back. Except for the ones, he... threw out or something. Pretty minor stuff, actually, and Berger's explanation seems totally understandable to me. I can just see him scribbling down "Bring home milk and bread" over some photocopy of an invoice from the "Iranian Uranium & Pet Supply Company," running his errand and then tossing the wadded up paper out onto the Beltway.

I kid, by the way. The documents at issue were not originals but, rather, notes taken by Berger and copies of original documents. Nothing is missing from the archives. It's not legal to copy or carry around notes taken from classified docs, by the way, but it's important to note that Berger didn't "make off" with anything and that the Archives are secure and intact.

But, now the FBI and perhaps a Federal Prosecutor are investigating.

I guess it's important, for some reason, to investigate every single person ever involved with Bill Clinton.

And, I'm sure that nobody in the Bush administration would ever do something like this. I mean, imagine the Bushies reading documents. Especially from the National Archives! That's like a library! And Libraries, we all know from reading the Patriot Act, are for commies and terrorists. So's reading.

Here's the story:

Monday, July 19, 2004

Fight, CBS! Fight!

I'll rarely back a huge corporation on this page but I was pleased to read today that Viacom co-President Leslie Moonves has vowed to fight any FCC fines levied against the network over the Janet Jackson Superbowl Nipplegate thing. The FFC and Michael "Prudie" Powell have taken this whole issue way too far.

Still, I have to take issue with one thing Moonves said: "It seems to be a fairly easy issue, because who out there isn't against indecency?"

Mr. Moonves, I'm out here and I am not against indecency. I'm all for it and will gladly sell you indecent ideas for which I have no further use. Seriously, call me. I got yer hook-up!

NBC Duped NBC on Shyamalan

Within the first two minutes of the Sci-Fi Channel's lame documentary, "The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan," it becomes clear that all of the hype was phony. Sci-Fi claimed that it had begun a documentary about the film director, only to uncover some dark secret that turned Shyamalan against the project. Bravely, Sci-Fi would air it anyway, exposing some darkness from the director's personal life. The result was a stupid ghost story that was worth watching only for its horribly bad dialogue and to see how bad a train wreck would result.

And, yes, Sci-Fi and Shyamalan cooked up the whole phony controversey thing as part of a "guerilla marketing" campaign for Shyamalan's new movie, "The Village." Of course, they didn't have the guts to be actually "guerilla" about it as they had commercials for "The Village" during every commercial break.

An unnamed spokeman for NBC, which owns Sci-Fi, told the BBC that, "This marketing strategy is not consistent with our policy..."

But I bet what really ticks NBC off is that its MSNBC news unit got duped by the Sci-Fi people.

On June 16th, picked up an Associated Press story headlined "Profile of M. Night Shyamalan Goes Sour." You can read it here:

If the NBC news team can get freaking duped by one of the company's old cable networks, it's no surprise that they were also duped by the Bush administration's many pre-Iraq War lies. One thing's for certain -- NBC's news crews don't even know what's going on at the station's various TV units -- much less at the station's corporate parent, the mammoth General Electric.

By the way, MSNBC hasn't even printed a correction on the article, which is still on its Web site.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Corporate Greeheads

Check out this story in the NY Times today (requires free membership):

The gist of the piece is that despite an uptick in hiring, wages are not keeping pace with inflation. The author attributes this to a oversupply of labor, caused by 3 years of corporate downsizing. What he doesn't mention, and what should be a key issue in this year's presidential campaign is that wages are not keeping pace with inflation at a time where corporate profits are at record levels.

Yes, record levels. As in, the greedheads of America are making more money in 2004 then they ever made during the Great Stock Market Bubble. So, it's simple to infer, and Kerry should say, that the people actually doing the work to make all this money have been left out.

Or, a better way to put it: Bush's friends are richer than ever. So what about the rest of us?

Republicans would cry, "Class warfare!"

As if this very circumstance -- corporations thrive while the people that work there can't keep up -- wasn't the first salvo in that very war.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Bill O'Reilly -- Big Old Hypocrite

According to Slate today , Fox’s Bill O’Reilly is making empty threats that he’s going to fly out to London sue Al Franken for libel. Folks like to sue for libel in England because it’s almost impossible to win a libel case in the U.S., particularly if you’re a public figure. O’Reill’y gripe is that Franken has repeatedly called him a liar. Now, setting aside for a moment the fact that O’Reilly really is a liar, he’s the last man on the planet who should be up in arms over people calling him nast names. O’Reilly is the biggest namecaller on the planet. For proof, let’s look at some excerpts from O’Reilly’s intervoiew with former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta on June 23rd.

The issue here is that O’Reilly “jokingly” called liberal journalist Eric Alterman a confidante of Fidel Castro. Alterman, a staunch anti-Castro liberal, was ticked off by this. My take is that O’Reilly was actually joking and that Alterman should calm down. Podesta criticized O’Reilly on Alterman’s behalf and then went on the show to defend his position. The result exposed O’Reilly as a hypcrite -- it’s amazing that a guy who;’s said so many rotten things about good people would get so ticked off over being called a liar. Here are some telling excerpts from his conversation with Podesta:

BILL O'REILLY HOST:  ...Well, what are you going to sue me for?

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, that's a little bit off, Bill.  I said that one of our fellows, Eric Alterman, was contemplating a lawsuit against you because you told a lie about him. 

O'REILLY:  And what lie was that?

PODESTA:  You said on this show that he was a confidant of Fidel Castro.  That's not true.

O'REILLY:  OK.  Did you see that show?

PODESTA:  It's in your transcripts. 

O'REILLY:  OK.  You saw the transcript but you didn't see the show. 

PODESTA:  I did not see the show. 

O'REILLY:  OK.  Would you like to hear it?

PODESTA:  You have gotten a letter... 

O'REILLY:  Yes, we got some dopey letter from his lawyer.  And they are going to sue.  But  you, John PODESTA, former chief of staff to a president of the United States, you firmly believe in your heart that I told a lie about your pal, Eric Alterman, is that correct?

PODESTA:  You called him a confidant of Fidel Castro. 

...(They watch the video clip)...

O'REILLY:  OK.  And I was obviously being facetious.  And you can see the laughter and the smiles and all of that. 


PODESTA:  You do it all the time, Bill. 

O'REILLY:  All the time?

PODESTA:  You do it all the time. 

O'REILLY:  What do I do all the time?

PODESTA:  Well, you compare Bill Moyers to Mao Zedong.  You say that's a joke.  You compare Al Franken to Joseph Goebbels, you know, the Nazi propagandist... 

O'REILLY:  That was Michael Moore, by the way.

PODESTA:  ... you say that's a joke. 

O'REILLY:  That was Michael Moore.

PODESTA:  You know, it's all a big joke to you, Bill. 

O'REILLY:  It's satire.  You know how that satire thing goes now, don't you? 

PODESTA:  That's not funny, Bill.  It's just not funny. 

O'REILLY:  Oh, fine, I mean, you may not think it was funny.  But it was done in jest.  It was done to make...

PODESTA:  Watch "The Daily Show," put on Comedy Central, watch "The Daily Show," you will see what funny is. 


O'REILLY:  OK.  Fine.  But you do know that many, many people watching you now are going to say you're totally unreasonable, this was a joke, he was being facetious, and you, Mr. Podesta, a man of esteem, all right, took it out of context, ran with it, used your little Web site to say O'Reilly did this, he's an evil guy, he's a liar.  Now, I'm not... 

PODESTA:  I didn't call you a liar.  And I didn't say you were an evil guy. 

O'REILLY:  Yes, you did.  You used the word on this interview, Mr. Podesta,  that you told a lie about Eric Alterman.  And that's what you guys trade in all the time.  And that's what I object to, sir.  Go ahead.

PODESTA:  Hey, you know, it's a two-way street here, buddy.  You do this all the time as well, you label people, you smear people.  And we're just asking for the record to be set straight. 

O'REILLY:  Can you give me one example where I smeared someone?

PODESTA:  How about referring to Al Franken as Joseph Goebbels?  That was... 

O'REILLY:  I did not refer to him as Joseph Goebbels. 

PODESTA:  You compared him to him.

O'REILLY:  That was Michael Moore. 


PODESTA:  Come on, you do this...

O'REILLY:  Look, I asked you for one example where I smeared somebody.  You just misstated what I said.  I said that Michael Moore is a propagandist just as Joseph Goebbels is a propagandist?  Would you deny that?

PODESTA:  I think that comparing Michael Moore to a guy who set up the propaganda for the Nazi regime that resulted in the killing of 6 million people through the Holocaust, yes, I think that's an over-bloviated...

O'REILLY:  I said that Michael Moore is a propagandist and so is Joseph Goebbels.  And then I explained what propaganda is.  Now Michael Moore has called the president of the United States in a time of war -- Michael Moore has called the president of the United States in a time of war a deserter.  Is that OK?


PODESTA:  Yes, well, I think he's a man of strong views who disagrees with most of what I believe in, including -- he said the other day that he never voted for Clinton, he doesn't vote for Gore.  He's a pretty far left-wing guy, I don't know.  But I don't equate him with Joseph Goebbels.  I think that's really unfair and out of bounds. 

O'REILLY:  Well, the allusion was made to explain what propaganda is and where it emanated from. 

PODESTA:  Oh come on.  You know that that's not why we...

...Later, after O'Reilly tries to convince Podesta to get Bill Clinton to give him an interview... 

PODESTA:  I don't know, it depends on whether or not you will admit that Eric Alterman isn't...


O'REILLY:  I will play the same clip.  I mean, I was fooling around there. 

PODESTA:  Would you admit that he's anti-Castro?

O'REILLY:  Sure.  Eric, baby, you're anti-Castro.  All right?  That was a joke, Eric.  I'm having a little fun at your expense.

But, apparently, it’s not okay for Al Franken to have fun at O’Reilly’s expense.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Protest Against Bush... Go to Jail

People might not know about this, even though it was on Drudge, because the Drudgereport link clearly overloaded this paper's servers this afternoon. So... from the Charlseton Gazette (rather thorough reporter is Tara Tickwiller), July 14th Edition, we get:

The tale of a couple arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts during one of the President's speeches in West Virginia on July 4th. Yup, arrested for political slogans on T-Shirts. Nicole and Jeff Rank were detained for wearing shirts that said: “Love America, Hate Bush.” I mean, they aren't even pornographic shirts!

According to the Charlseton Gazette: "Spectators who wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were allowed to stay."

The couple were in Charlseton WV, by the way, because Nicole was doing flood relief work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Since the arrest, Nicole was told that she wasn't needed in West Virginia. Because she is some sort of contract employee, that means that she lost her job.

To be charitable, I am perfectly willing to accept that, post 9-11, a few oversealous Secret Service people got a little edgy about anti-Bush people at Dubya's speeches. They are, after all, sworn to give their own lives for his.

But, reports the Gazette, it goes beyond that. Check this out (from Tuckwiller's article): "Since Bush took office in early 2001, people have been banned from displaying anti-Bush messages at dozens of Bush appearances across the country. In September, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the Secret Service, seeking an injunction against the Bush administration for segregating protesters at his public appearances." The ACLU won, by the way.

But, more important than the ACLU victory is the revelation that this practice of singling out dissidents actually predates 9-11. I guess that's the thing you do when you're a President who didn't clearly win the election that put you in office.

This tale ends, of course, with the cost of justice. Because the Tuckwiller's aren't from West Virginia they've been faced with an awfu; choice: They can either stay in or near Chalreston, at their own cost, to make their court date and argue that they were unlwafully arrested, or they can let it slide and head back home to Corpus Christi, Texas. They've decided to stay in motels around Charleston, risking their financial well-being in order to make a principled stand.

But the real question is: Why does only the Charleston Gazette have a story about this? Assignment for you big hitters at the NY Times and WaPo -- send a reportet to West Virginia, interview this couple, and tell the nation that our President doesn't tolerate dissent. And, if you win an award for it, don't forget that the Gazette's Tara Tuckwiller scooped all your asses.

Have State, Won't Travel

According to MSNBC Colin Powell is the least-travelled Secretary of State in 30 years. Admittedly, this is just one of those silly "curiosity" stories but I think MSNBC missed a major angle.

The man's probably not visiting other countries because they don't want him. It's not that he'd be barred from entering anyplace but I gather that European leaders who have to be elected by populations who are skeptical, to say to least, of Bush and his foreign policies, don't really want to be photographed getting cozy with a liaison from the world's self-appointed emperor.

Many of Europe's elected officials are already in hot water with voters and having a Bushie like Powell stopping by for visits won't help much around election time. Believe it or not, a lot of European voters and voters in other democracies including our friendly neighbors to the North, have this weird notion that our current President is an arrogant war-monger. I know, I know, those crazy foreigners!

Another angle: Powell, probably the smartest member of the Bush administration, is maybe afraid that if he leaves D.C. for any stretch of time, the President will do something stupid.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

All Right, Forget Katie Couric, Christopher Hitchens is The Airhead

If you're really into uranium yellow cake from Niger, read this:

Heck, go read all of Christopher Hitchens' articles on Slate because they're free and at this point in Hitch's career, I'd never advise you to pay for his work. I say that with a mean spirit, I admit, but Hitch hasn't done anything good since his Harper's series where he accused Henry Kissinger of war crimes.

In more recent times, Hitchens had a public spat with his old magazine, The Nation, over the venerable but admittedly air-headed left wing magazine's refusal to take a hardline stance against Islamic fascism. Then, it seems Hitchens started hanging out with neocons. Hanging out with neocons over led to hanging out with Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi from Jordan who fled that country after he was convicted of bank fraud and then used State Department funds to attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein during the 1990s. Under Clinton, the State Department determined that all Chalabi was doing was wasting U.S. taxpayer money and they cut him off. Bush took office and put Chalabi back on the government dole. Chalabi and his ilk, according to the most recent issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, are the main sources behind all of the Saddam/WMD talk that Dubya used to lead us into war.

Why am I talking about this when you really want to read about uranium yellow cake and how it's apparently rotted the brain of Chris Hitchens? If it seems off-topic, you're right. But then, within his article about Uranium Yellow Cake from Niger, Hitchens sways off topic to tell you how nice a guy Chalabi is. But we already know Chalabi's a fraud because everything he told us about Saddam's WMD turned out to be wrong. U.S. troops have since raided Chalabi's Baghdad office and he's suspected of giving U.S. intelligence information to Iran. Apparently, the information was that we broke some secret Iranian communications code. The Iranian agent was so skeptical of Chalabi's intelligence that he sent the information back to Tehran in the broken code and that's how we found out about it.

OK, so, to sum up Chalabi: Lied about Saddam's WMD, gave classified information to Axis of Evil member #2, not even trusted by them.

To sum up Hitch: Continues to love Chalabi and refuses to acknowledge that he was duped. Wrote recently that "history has been unkind to Michael Moore" but can't look in mirror for fear or irony touching anti-irony and an explosion resulting.

To sum up Uranium Yellow Cake from Niger: Bush said Saddam tried to buy it. He didn't. Whole thing was based on phony documents. U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson investigated, helped figure out the claim was phony. Angry White House staffer or perhaps Dick Cheney retaliates by telling right wing columnist Robert Novak that the ambassador's wife is an under cover CIA agent. I don't care if spooks have their covers blown, actually. But this is one juvenile White House.

Conclusion: Hitchens = dumb. Saddam = No WMD. Chalabi = Slimeball. And finally, just imagine if that whole Uranium Yellow Cake thing had happened under Clinton. Why, they might have impeached him over it.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

David Brock and the Flaws of Katie Couric

OK, so, we all know Katie Couric is a softball interviewer who would never, ever challenge a guest except out of ignorance. But, I stumbled on this tidbit in David Brock's "Blinded By The Right" that really puts things into perspective.

Brock is the now-reformed right wing "hit man" who savaged Anita Hill in his book, "The Real Anita Hill" and wrote a series of badly researched articles about President Clinton in the American Spectator. Brock's articles helped lead to the President's impeachment. Funded by The Scaife Foundation, Brock was part of the "Arkansas Project" which really was a right wing conspiracy bent on taking down the President. Whatever flaws Bill and Hillary might have, they really were victims of a "vast right wing conspiracy."

Back to Couric: The Today Show had Brock on as a guest to talk about his book where, by his own late admission, he unfairly painted Hill as a sexaholic man-hater. The Today Show sent ace interviewer Katie Couric after him. Here's how Brock describes the interview on page 107 of his book:

""Katie," I told Today show host Katie Couric, leaning in for effect, "character assassination is wrong," whether is happens to a liberal or a conservative."

And that was apparently that. Brock returned to his hotel room to phone calls from friends telling him he'd "Hit the ball right out of the park." Brock wasn't even really describing the interview in his book. He was using it and Couric to show how well he'd learned to spin America. He couldn't have picked a better interviewer.

If you want to know how Brock was so influential with his, again by his own admission, flawed and biased journalism, one need look no further than a mass media populated by doting Katie Courics, put there beceuase we Americans can't possibly stand confrontation over breakfast.

Just imagine if Michael Moore tried that "Character assassination" line with a guy like Bill O'Reilly. The blood would seep through your television screen and onto your carpet before you could switch the channel.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Enron and the Fall of Communism

I was reading through David Brock's "Blinded By the Right" this morning and was reminded of the political debates that surrounded the collapse of the Soviet Union. That's when Conservatives really turned to a "family values" platform and started sending Dan Quayle to attack Murphy Brown for having a fictional child out of wedlock. See, the cons had decided that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that any sort of debate about communism and its virtues was over. They had won.

Not so fast, said some liberals. The Soviet Union wasn't really communist, it was a dictatorship. This argument was met with much harrumphing from the other side and, to be honest, it did and does sound like a lame "But, but, but" argument. Which is not to say it wasn't a meaningful argument, it's just one that sounds bad and unconvincing. The form of argument has an image problem.

In 2004, with former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay under indictment and the revelation that Enron energy traders purposefully drove up the price of California's electricity and joked about "robbing grandmothers," the cons are making the same "But but but" argument about California's and much of the nation's deregulated electricity markets.

Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute wrote in the 12/9/04 Wall Street Journal writes: "California's restructured energy market was, in fact, the furthest thing from a capitalist jungle imaginable."

Maybe he has a point. Maybe the best system for buying and selling electricity has not been found and perhaps Jerry Taylor has never seen his free-market dream at work. But if that's so, I guess we'll have to open up the Communism debate again, becauyse we've never seen that dream at work either.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Stupid Drudge

All right, when John Kerry picked John Edwards as his veep nominee I checked out the Drudge Report to see a photo of the two men hugging over the headline "Kerry Finds a Mate." It looked, indeed, like Drudge was trying to insinuate a relationship that could be codified as a civil union in Vermont. But, perhaps, I thought, I'm being too sensitive. Drudge isn't really trying to make Kerry look gay, right?

Check out Drudge Today:
Under the headline: "Can't Keep Hands Off Each Other"

Drudge is such a loser.

The Today Show

All right, I have to admit that I have a Today Show addiction. I know I could get actual news from CNN in the mornings but something about Matt and Katie's antics is addictive. I love that while the other networks showed us the first footage of Saddam Hussein appearing in front of an Iraqi court, The Today Show gave us Katie Couric playing Badmitton with the U.S. Olympic Badmitton team.

I love that they wasted time a couple of days ago by having Katie interview Will Farrell in his "Ron Burgundy" character from his latest movie. The whole segment seemed unscripted, so it was a train wreck from the start as Farrell and Couric stared at each other, talking way too slowly, trying to fill the time left up to the next commercial break. Meanwhile, somewhere in Fallujah...

This morning, Katie interviewed the teenage author of some Harry Potter-like book. The author, whose name escapes me, is European. Katie symapthized with the young artist's plight, talking about how many struggling writers aspire to write "The Great American Novel." She caught herself, but... come on!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Mary Kate Cocaine Rumors

Mary Jane = Marijuana

Thus, going off the rumor news of the day:

Mary Kate = Cocaine.

It's great slang!

I was up all night doing Mary Kate.
I'm really jonesing for some Mary Kate.
What there's no Mary Kate at this party?
I blew $300 on Mary Kate last week.

Let the slanging commence.