Saturday, December 28, 2002

Well, it's been a wonderful hiatus from the blogger world. I used my time off to indulge in my other nerdy obsession, Lord of the Rings workship. Saw Two Towers twice and spent the past two days poring over the extended Fellowship DVD. If you don't have the extended version buy it now. It satisfies all those purists who want to see more detail. Atrios has been faithfully blogging so check him out.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Dear Lord, wake me up from this nightmare.

"Terrorists most likely wouldn't come to the INS to register," said Sabiha Khan of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

She said the detainees were "being treated as criminals, and that really goes against American ideals of fairness, and justice and democracy".

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Boycott Nestle.

The multinational coffee corporation, Nestle, is demanding a $6m (£3.7m) payment from the government of the world's poorest state, Ethiopia, as the country struggles to combat its worst famine for nearly 20 years...

The famine, brought on by the failure of rains for the third year in a row has been intensified by a collapse in the price of coffee which supports a quarter of the country's population. Nestle, the world's largest coffee processor, made $5.5bn in profits last year.

Aid agencies have reacted furiously to the company's demand.

"At the very least Nestle ought to be accepting the settlement offered by the Ethiopian government," said Sophia Tickell, a policy analyst at Oxfam. "But frankly they should be thinking about how the money could be spent on famine relief and drop the claim altogether."

Ethiopia has the lowest income per head in the world, with the average person surviving on $100 a year. More than a tenth of its children die before their first birthday.

And how weird is it when Sully almost makes sense?
Isn't it nice to know that we can always count on Ann?
I hate getting to blogger late. Oh well. Atrios has the good stuff anyway today. Krugman's plugging him so I might as well too.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Hey, NPR. What the hell is the difference between a racist remark and a racially insensitive remark?
Joe reveals more white hoods in the closet.

The political result has been a form of racial schizophrenia. The President’s father sided with Barry Goldwater and the National Review against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A few years later, the senior Bush voted for an open-housing law. When he ran for President in 1988, his supporters employed the inflammatory racial symbolism of the Willie Horton ad to win over white voters.

Leading figures in the Republican hierarchy today carry heavy racial baggage. As a Supreme Court clerk, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote memoranda supporting the notorious "separate but equal" jurisprudence of Plessy v. Ferguson. As governor of Missouri and later in the U.S. Senate, Attorney General John Ashcroft maintained ties to "white power" advocates in his home state and displayed little concern for racial equality. The President himself, and many of the conservatives who now demand the ouster of Mr. Lott, have never evinced much concern about the blatant bigotry of Jesse Helms, another ancient symbol of the bad old days.

The truly annoying thing here is that NONE OF THIS IS NEWS. Which isn't to say that it doesn't bear repeating over and over. All of us black people here in the present are shrugging our shoulders because racist politicians have always been there. And we know who all of them are. Now the rest of you are finding out.
Curiouser and curiouser.

The two Pratt and Whitney engines and propellers made by Hartzell were thoroughly examined and ``no evidence of pre-impact engine or propeller failure was found," the report said...
..Toxicological reports revealed no evidence of drug or alcohol abuse by pilot Richard Conry or the first officer, Michael Guess. The NTSB said based on radio transmissions it believes Conroy was at the controls at the time of the crash.

The report said investigators have documented the crew's activities for three days before the flight through interviews with Conry's wife and Guess's fiancee. They still are reviewing employment, pilot and medical records.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Gore revives Saturday Night Live.

First he won the popular vote; now Al Gore has won the Nielsen race as well.

NBC's Dec. 14 edition of "Saturday Night Live," hosted by the former vice president, scored the sketch show's best household ratings of the season in the top "metered" markets, and ranked as its best performance since last February (an episode hosted by Britney Spears).

I think I've reached a point where I'm not quite as bummed as I was. For one thing it clears the road for Kerry who is the only one with chops, though I'm still chaffing at his decision on Iraq which smacks of the namby-pambiness of the DLC.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Last night I went to my parents' house with a visiting friend to watch the taped SNL episode with Al Gore and ended up staying for dinner. My brother, father, friend and I were eating and chatting when my mother came downstairs. Now my mom has had the really bizarre cold that she hasn't been able to shake for a month and her medication makes her drowsy. So she was upstairs falling asleep to NPR before she stumbled downstairs.

She gives us this bewildered glassy-eyed stare and says, "Gore's not running. They just announced it."

I say, "Are you sure?'

She nods,takes a deep breath, and turns to go back upstairs. My dad calls out to her, "How do you feel?" Meaning of course physically.

She turns back, pauses, and says, "Shocked."

Sunday, December 15, 2002

So Gore's out. And after SNL I was so ready to believe again.

Clinton said Sunday night: “Al Gore was the best vice president America ever had. He would have been a fine president had history taken a different course two years ago.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Despite the ugliness, I am oddly comforted by the uproar over Lott's comments. I've been walking around lately with the horrible sensation of being time-warped back to a darker era, and the fact that this story has yet to die reminds me that, yes, despite everything, there has been progress.

Reading Krugman is always comforting too.

Let's be clear that last week's remarks were in no way out of character. On the contrary, they were entirely consistent with Mr. Lott's statements on many other occasions.

The great majority of Americans don't share Mr. Lott's views. For example, he opposed declaring Martin Luther King day a holiday, telling Southern Partisan magazine that "we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving." Most Americans, I think, believe that King was pretty deserving.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Now it's your turn to fire Trent Lott.
I'm still not sure about Kerry, especially now that Gore seems to be really hitting his stride. Still, he did say Lott has to go. What troubles me is this statement here:

No one has put more effort than George W. Bush into ending the image of the Republican Party as a whites-only haven. For all the disagreement that many African-Americans have with his policies, few can doubt Mr. Bush's commitment to a multiracial America.

I don't doubt that Bush has a tendency towards colorblindness. But he is still far from his goal of promoting the Republicans as "ethnic friendly."

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I have mixed feelings about celebrities embracing political movements, although anytime they use their power for good is fine by me.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Wellstone Suspicions

If so many people feel this way why can't we do anything about it?

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I'm certainly not a conspiracy theorist. But to be honest, I know I wasn't alone in my initial reaction at this week's horrible and tragic news: that being my surprise that Wellstone had lived this long. Perhaps it's just my anger and frustration at losing one of the few reputable politicians in Washington, but I also felt shame. Shame for not writing in my column, months ago, that I felt that Paul Wellstone's life, more so than any other politician in Washington, was in danger. I felt that such speculation was unprofessional and would ultimately undermine my credibility. In the end, my own self-interest triumphed, and I never put my concerns into print. Neither did any other mainstream journalist, though I know of many who shared my concern.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

New links I've been checking out. Plus more scary stuff on Kissinger courtesy of Smoking Joe.

In 1995, Kissinger showed up for the signing ceremony in New York that sealed Unocal's agreement to build a $2 billion, 1,000-mile pipeline from the gas fields of Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. The torturous negotiations leading to that aborted deal -- including Kissinger's cameo -- are fully described in Chapter 12 of "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia," by Ahmed Rashid, an authoritative journalist who now works for the Wall Street Journal. Unocal eventually withdrew from Turkmenistan, amid charges of bribery and influence-peddling. (Working for the rival bidder at the time was Saudi prince Turki al-Faisal, director of the kingdom's intelligence agency.)

What makes that old story interesting again is the role of Unocal's partner, described in the Los Angeles Times in May 1998 as "a small and mysterious Saudi company called Delta Oil Co. Ltd." At the time, Unocal and Delta were cultivating the friendly leaders of the Taliban to win approval for their pipeline.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Anyone who read Corn's excellent piece on Jerry Falwell will understand my own disgust at the debate here. Barney Frank should never be put on par with a nutcase like Falwell.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Hee hee hee.

The debate over whether George W. Bush is a moron continues to sputter. Morons are outraged at being lumped in with the U.S. president. Americans, meanwhile, are mildly amused that it has taken Canadians so long to discover the obvious.

The controversy exploded last week when Francoise Ducros, an adviser to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, was overheard at a NATO meeting in Prague saying, "What a moron," apparently in relation to Bush.

Morons say this is an outlandish slur. "We're nice people," explained one. "We don't threaten other countries or use the courts to steal elections. George W. Bush may be a dangerous lunatic. But he's no moron."

Chrétien seems to agree. "He's not a moron at all," the Prime Minister told reporters on Thursday, referring to Bush.
Still, the opposition parties are not content. The Canadian Alliance argues that if Bush discovers he is a moron, this could affect Canada-U.S. relations.

Chrétien, however, says there is nothing to worry about. Bush, he said, doesn't read Canadian newspapers. According to the International Dictionary of Medicine and Biology, most morons are "educable and do not require institutionalization but need some supervision in working at some simple job by which they can become self-sustaining members of society."

Monday, November 25, 2002

The next time somebody tells you this war isn't about oil, don't say a word. Clock them for being stupid.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Okay everyone. Try not to panic

Rehabilitation should be society’s hope for every nonviolent offender—even if, as in Dr. Poindexter’s case, said offender escaped a deserved jail sentence thanks to a technicality. (He had lied to Congress and shredded official documents to conceal the Reagan administration’s conspiracy to trade arms for hostages and then use the dirty money for covert operations.)

We now know that under the ethical code of the Bush loyalists, lying can be permissible, even admirable, but only if the lies protect a politician from accountability for activities like dealing with a terrorist regime. Lying about the oral endearments of a lovestruck intern would obviously be dishonorable.

As Ari Fleischer explained in his blandly sinister style last February, "Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military."
The Daily Show Redux
If you missed last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Tennessee Democrat Rep. Ford was the guest. Ford's a bit centrist for my taste, but the interview was really good. Stewart better be careful. He's fast becoming the icon for truth in media.
My cousin's deployment date to an unknown location for "more active duty in Enduring Freedom" has been moved up to just before Christmas. Part of protocol is to make out a Last Will and Testament.
He's 21.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I'm beginning to come out of my election mourning phase. Staying away from the news helps.
Question: is moral fibre the same as verbal diarrhea ?

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

I'm staying away from the news today in an attempt to gain some perspective on the outcome yesterday. I'm so discouraged and upset that I think I've retreated into some sort of denial mode. I keep telling myself that it's not as bad as it seems, all the time knowing full well that it is as bad as it seems. If I thought that the Republicans would in any way moderate their stance on anything, maybe I could cut my losses and move on. But I know better. And all I can do is wonder how we let this happen.

It's so hard to compare this with known dictatorships, especially when most people live in comparative comfort despite the economic toilet we're in. Most people just laugh when you refer to the Bloodless Coup of 2000. But there you have it. Our entire government has been radicallized and we stand to pay the price.

I suppose this isn't the first time it's felt like the end of the world, and I doubt it will be the last. And hopefully two years from now we will be an a position to make real change. But right now things look bleak. So you'll have to pardon me if, just for today, I lose all hope that the good guys will win in the end.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Wow, Durbin really trounced Durkin!
Election Musings
ABC has the best updates so far.

For the record I'm officially in television hell. They're broadcasting the Bush victory orgy on MSNBC,CNN, and inevitably FOX. The only thing that could make that more annoying is Chris Matthews talking over it. And Rush Limbaugh on NBC? The only reason my head isn't in the oven right now is that my home state of Illinois is in the Democratic free and clear.

I'm telling you if the Repugs take over Congress I'm not sure I'll get out of bed tomorrow.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Damn it, damn it, damn it! I can't believe I missed this.

STEWART: We're probably not going to go with 2000. We're going to go with 2002. We're going to stick with the year that it is now.

We're going live with all state coverage and all state results, and we're very excited about that. The people really need to get direct false numbers right away. We'll make our predictions probably as early as we can, and we hope to really give a full-on wrap up of everything that's happened.

Are you guys going live that night?

KURTZ: I don't know. Let me check with the producers.


KURTZ: It depends on what else is going on.

STEWART: I was going to say.

Jon Stewart for president.
When Coulter and her ilk consider attacking Dowd and and the New York Times and their antiwar stance, they really should consider the fact that Dowd knows firsthand what she's talking about.

Over a traditional lunch of mutton with the head on, kabsa and buttermilk at her restored mud house, Prince Saud's daughter, Princess Haifa, said she worries that Americans are clueless about Arabs. "Americans are watching people fight on — what do you call it?" she said, as her companions chimed in "Jerry Springer" and "Montel Williams." "What's so great about democracy? At least we're informed."

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Oh my God. This is hilarious

Yesterday, the first international delegation of poll monitors assigned to observe an American election arrived in the US, operating under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. And representatives from Russia and Albania were among them.

A Final Word on Wellstone

I meant to post this on Sunday.
Paul Wellstone’s legacy is an eloquent rebuke to the Democratic Party that now more than ever, inaction is not an option. It is not enough to give lip-service to social justice. Our leaders must follow up their grand statements with actions. These days our very own Tom Daschle and Joe Leiberman seem paralyzed by the doctrine of moderation that has taken hold of the Party over last ten years. Why do they remain so blind to what Wellstone saw so clearly?

The American people do want us to govern from the center, in a sense. But it is not the center the pundits and politicians in Washington talk about. Citizens want us to deal with issues that are at the center of their lives. They yearn for a politics that speaks to and includes them--affordable childcare, a good education for their children, health and retirement security, good jobs that will support their families, respect for the environment and human rights, clean elections and clean campaigns.

Appeasement will make losers out of the Democrats time and time again, but has more dire and far-reaching consequences for the rest of us. As we face an ill-conceived battle in the Middle East, a teetering economy at home, and growing hostility amongst our allies abroad, what matters most right now are the things that have, for too long, gone unsaid. In this month’s Harper’s Magazine Dick Armstrong outlines what looks to be the greatest danger currently facing our nation; our very own government hawks. The central ideology of this administration is one of absolute power described in detail in Dick Cheney’s Defense Planning Guidance, a pet project of his carried over from his days as Secretary of Defense for the Reagan administration.

The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain it’s overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.

It is this point that has been missing from the national debate on preemption and unilateralism. When Paul Wellstone stood with the few in opposition of granting Bush the freedom to wage war in Iraq, he not only stood against giving away the right of Congress to declare war, he stood against a doctrine of global domination and might makes right. When the Democrats compromised they agreed to stand by and watch Nero fiddle as Rome burns.

Few in Washington seem to realize that as the leading economic and military power, in real terms, there is no greater threat to world peace and security than us. To invoke Iraq and even Al Qaeda as real threats to the United States is to mock our own arrogantly secure place in the world. And here we stand on the brink of war, a war that can bring no good to anyone least of all ourselves. Will we cease to be the shining example of freedom and comfort, and instead, become a grinning despot in a pinstripe suit? We think that, because we are a democracy, corrupt leaders cannot become entrenched and yet Cheney, Rumsfield, and Wolfowitz are holdovers from the Nixon administration. The Plan is not a new idea, but a long-held pet project that has simply been waiting to see the light of day. And in our fear and apathy we stand poised to allow it to become policy. People may shake their heads and empty their pockets, and columnists may furiously tap away the folly of such absolutism, but in the end it will be our own representatives that let this opportunity to oppose a policy of absolute power pass them by.

Throughout the last week much has been made of Paul Wellstone’s commitment to defending “the little guy.” That and his opposition to the Iraq resolution, make him out to be merely a fiery liberal in the midst of more level-headed Democrats. But to dismiss him thus is to underestimate what opposition to unilateralism signifies. It’s more than adherence to ones personal principles. It’s making the choice not to be the global dictator, to lead the free world with prudence and not menace. Democrats, Republicans, and pundits would do well to move past the issue of Iraq and terrorism and really examine how we want to enter the world of the twenty-first century.
This is just beautiful .

Hudson's new collection of short stories, "Dear Mr. President" (Knopf, $19), has made him a favorite of book critics, fellow writers and lots of readers. But the book, it seems, has had the opposite effect on the commander in chief...

"The letter began by thanking me for sending the book," Hudson said. "Also, I'm from Austin, Texas, and the president touched on the fact that I was a fellow Texan, congratulating me on my book. But he was setting me up for the one-two punch. Because he called the book unpatriotic and ridiculous and just plain bad writing. Beyond that, I've been instructed not to talk about the contents of the letter for the time being."

That's not all. Hudson says FBI agents have been hanging around at his recent book readings, and the book's website ( is apparently being monitored by the government.

"We have a [website] tracker," he said. "It tells us the percentage of hits coming from different places, from around the world. From universities. From the military. From different media sources. And from the government. The government's percentage is surprisingly high."

Blogger has been tempermental and I've been too busy to tear my hair out over it. Just a reminder that The Daily Show is broadcasting from Washington D.C. this week. Pat Buchanan is on tonight. I'm not sure what to make of that. One can't imagine the Stewart is all that comfortable with sitting so close to such an outspoken Hitler-apologist. Still one has to admire his bravery. If you missed Monday night's show John Edwards was the guest. He's more likable than I thought.

For more election reading check out Hertzberg in this week's New Yorker.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Josh Marshall. has some great words too.

For every Democrat -- probably as much for those who didn't share his politics as for those who did -- Wellstone was a special treasure: a sort of genuinely progressive, utterly engaged and sincere politician who somehow captured what was essential in the aspirations of his party, even if supported policies that others didn't. ("I'm from the Democratic party-wing of the Democratic party," he got fond of saying in the late 1990s ...) One thinks of his vote against welfare reform in 1996, on the eve of his first run for re-election. Whatever you think of the merits of that vote -- and history has been kinder to the supporters of the bill than the opponents, on balance -- no other Senate Democrat who was up for re-election that year had the nerve to make the vote that he did -- though many of them thought the way that he did. He did something very similar this year on Iraq. And in recent days it seemed conviction was making for good politics.
This just puts it beautifully.

I've spent the last hour trying to find a way to fill this space. There are few times in my life where I am rendered speechless, and this is one of them.

My heart is heavy, not just for Wellstone, or his family, but for our nation. Hate him or love him, Wellstone was the conscience of the Senate. At a time when Senators from both parties use "morality" to grandstand on pet issues, Wellstone was unapologetic in his compassion, was unabashedly progressive, and true to his ideals in the face of intense political pressures. His opponents accused him of having a short list of accomplishments, but that's because he wouldn't compromise on his ideals. Perhaps that made him weak as a politician, but as a human being he had few parallels.

I'm really don't know what to .

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

This looks promising. I wish something would pan out.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

What Is a Liberal?

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Dowd 100; Bushies 0.

"I am the chairman of your Defense Policy Board," an amused Richard Perle replied. "I am an adviser to Rumsfeld, a friend of Wolfowitz's and a thorn in Powell's medals. Je suis un gourmand, Monsieur le President. I have always dreamed of opening a chain of fast-food soufflé shops based on a machine that would automatically separate eggs, beat the yolks and combine them with hot milk and sugar, add the desired flavorings, whip the whites until stiff, fold them into the mixture and bake in individual pots without human intervention. Then conveyor belts would bring the glass-enclosed ovens to the table and patrons would get to see their meals rise. I've never found investors smart enough to realize the dazzling ingenuity of the Perle Soufflé Doctrine. Meanwhile, I'm killing time trying to get your foreign policy to rise. I'm known as the Prince of Darkness." gets some publicity., an Internet site, raised more than $1 million this week for four members of Congress that the group calls "heroes."

The biggest recipient is Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., who hauled in nearly $600,000 after the MoveOn Web site started soliciting donations on Monday, said Wes Boyd, who co-founded the San Francisco-based site and serves as treasurer of its political action committee.

Democratic Rep Rush Holt of New Jersey received more than $170,000, Boyd said, while Reps. Rick Larsen and Jay Inslee of Washington state each received more than $150,000.

Question: Given this story, how bad can it be if the Democrats officially become the anti-war party? I don't believe it's going to happen, but it seems to me that this war can only go badly, and at the risk of politicizing the war, it should be pretty good for Democrats to ratchet up their opposition. Of course this is all assuming that logic rules here, which it sadly does not.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Oh, it gets better.

Administration officials say that although Iraq probably does not yet have nuclear weapons, it poses a more serious threat to its region because its record of using chemical weapons against its enemies and of invading two neighboring countries in the past.

Whereas North Korea is described by many experts as wanting weapons to deter an invasion, Iraq is feared generally as a nation willing to use its weapons to bully others. This concern is what the administration says justifies its policy of pre-emptive action against Baghdad.
Let's go back to the whole you-are-either-with-us-or-you-are-with-the-terrorists rhetoric. Take Pakistan for example...

You gotta love the spin though.

The White House said tonight that it would not discuss Pakistan's role or any other intelligence information. Nor would senior administration officials who briefed reporters today discuss exactly what intelligence they showed to North Korean officials two weeks ago, prompting the North's defiant declaration that it had secretly started a program to enrich uranium in violation of its past commitments.

Hypocrisy watch: Fight the wars you know you can win. It's better to be wrong but victorious than to be wrong and lose.

Diplomacy is the tack most likely to work with North Korea, said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who has pushed for such an approach toward Iraq. "It's the same approach you need to take on North Korea," he said. "You can't bluster on it alone."

The different approaches to Iraq and North Korea also forced the administration to explain why it was using dramatically different responses to two countries accused of developing weapons of mass destruction.
Krugman scores yet another one for the good guys.

When Ronald Reagan cut taxes on rich people, he didn't deny that that was what he was doing. You could agree or disagree with the supply-side economic theory he used to justify his actions, but he didn't pretend that he was increasing the progressivity of the tax system.

The strategy used to sell the Bush tax cut was simply to deny the facts — and to lash out at anyone who tried to point them out. And it's a strategy that, having worked there, is now being applied across the board.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Is is finally dawning on people just how out of touch they are over in Washington?

"America speaks with one voice," says President Bush.
In Washington, Bush, having been empowered by both houses of Congress to use force, seems to face very little opposition on Iraq.

On the streets of America, nothing could be further from the truth.

Across the nation, in city after city, ABCNEWS found voices of opposition, and many of them were from military towns.

Monday, October 14, 2002

This is nothing new, but it speaks to the frustration of the press. Let's nickname Bush the Propaganda President. Reading this article in conjunction with Dean's is pretty chilling.

Even Mr. Fleischer's Democratic predecessors said the strategy of limiting information to the press was effective. While he said he was more accommodating to reporters, Michael D. McCurry, a press secretary to President Bill Clinton, said he believed Mr. Fleischer may have found a more successful approach: "To be very, very disciplined and treat the press like caged animals and only feed them on a regular schedule."

Scary stuff on Condo. This story is pretty revealing, particularly her years at Stanford. Pick up the print issue if you can.

Rice is deeply reluctant to advocate for black people or for women generally, but she has advocated for specific black people and women.

Her self-absorption is astonishing.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

John Dean vs. Dick "Nixon" Cheney.

Cheney apparently wants to turn the clock back to the days of the Nixon administration, before Watergate, when Nixon sought to make Congress merely another administrative arm of the presidency.

Of course, because such a power shift would be strikingly Nixonian doesn't automatically mean it is evil. Not everything Nixon did was illegal, nor done without the public good in mind. But doing anything with Nixon as a model, or precedent, calls for the closest scrutiny, for Nixon had little respect for the mechanic of government.

Indeed, one of the reasons Nixon was attracted to foreign policy was that an American president is largely free from domestic constraints when he steps on the world stage. Nixon preferred unilateral decisionmaking, both on the domestic and international stages.
There is no question that Congress makes life difficult, sooner or later, for every president. Powerful arguments can be made that we have become what is, in essence, an administrative state, with the people selecting a new top administrator every four years. That may lead one to ask: Why not give the top administrator all the power and authority necessary so that he can most effectively administer the nation's affairs? This seems at the core of Cheney's contention.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Saletan over at Slate is a bit more hawkish than I would have expected. Still he does clear away alot of the rhetoric surrounded by the whole Iraq debate.

The Senate debate on Iraq boils down to this: Whom do you trust less—President Bush or the United Nations?

Nobody's putting it that way, of course. Democrats don't want to show disrespect to the president, and Republicans don't want to show disrespect to our allies. But if you scrape away the pomp and platitudes, that's the question that drives the debate.

Here's the key paragraph of the war resolution senators have been discussing: "The President is authorized to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolutions [previously passed against Iraq], defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region."

Does anyone want to give a gun to Boy George?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Hertzberg takes a swing at the Bush Doctrine.
Hi! It's been a busy two weeks but I'm back and raring to go. By the way, for those of you that have never been to Texas, it's all true!

Friday, September 27, 2002

A very good friend of mine has recently pointed out that it won't matter how many people oppose the war since it is highly unlikely that Bush is interested in reelection. Still, one really has to wonder what Republicans are going to do when their constituents are among those who are opposing the war.

Aides to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) counted 5,614 phone calls over the past six weeks, only 136 of which indicated support for unilateral military action, with letters reflecting about the same division. Phone calls to the office of Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) were running 8 to 1 against war, a Frist aide said. Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D-Tex.), who represents a hawkish district, said calls and letters were running overwhelmingly against a unilateral strike until Bush's speech to the U.N. earlier this month. Now, he said, they are about 50-50. Only a couple of the offices reported a majority in favor of military action, although some questioned whether the communications accurately reflect their constituents' views.

This is a bad idea.

IS Sen. John McCain going to quit the Republican Party and become the running mate of Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race?

Don't be fooled simply because McCain portrays himself as a GOP rebel, lone champion of campaign finance reform and the environment. He's a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.
I was pretty sold on Kerry too. Oh well. Hopefully this is just a rumor. It's troubling though. Have we become so preoccupied with beating the Bushies that we're willing to sell out completely?
You think Daschle took a hit of whatever Gore's been smoking? All kidding aside, FINALLY the Democrats are showing signs of life. Why are they so late in learning what the rest of us have known since the 2000 Election; the Republicansdon't play fair? My guess is a lot of Daschle's indignance yesterdays was repressed frustration at always being the wimpy compromiser. Mediawhores has an email link if you want to congratulate him on finding his voice.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002


Interesting analysis of Iraq debate by
Saletan on Slate,
although I think he misses some rather vital points in


Each school has its problems. If you believe in good will, you
risk being manipulated and abused by foreign governments that don't. Say
you want Russia's help to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution
returning weapons inspectors to Iraq. Russia, which has a huge
commercial stake in Iraq, says it will go along, but only if you remove
the clause authorizing the immediate use of force in the event that Iraq
blocks the inspectors. Russia also wants a free hand to crush Chechen
rebels by means that will probably entail extensive civilian casualties.
The price of good will turns out to be not just a weakening of the
policy for which you seek support, but fear and misery for third parties

I'm not sure that this argument directly applies to the issue at
hand. This situation in Russia exists whether or not one uses Gore's
approach or Bush's. Moreover, if you take the moral high ground with
Gore's approach you can argue that there is a huge discrepancy between
taking out the clause authorizing immediate use of force in Iraq and
giving Russia carte blanche to massacre rebels in Chechnya. With Bush's
approach you run the added risk of pushing Russia further away and
losing all influence. Diplomacy is like that. You can't make omlettes
without breaking eggs. The trick is to break as few eggs as possible.

Saletan goes on to say:

Another problem with the party of good will is its implicit
attitude of passivity and relativism. Describing the resentment of
foreign leaders toward Bush's Iraq policy, Gore stipulated, "Now, my
point is not that they're right to feel that way, but that they do feel
that way. And that has consequences for us." This preoccupation with
consequences others might impose on us, rather than with consequences we
might impose on them, is lazy and self-debilitating. And Gore's
suggestion that we should let that resentment affect our policy without
judging whether it's right or wrong is irresponsible.

I really don’t think that a policy of good will is nearly as
do-nothing as all that. For one thing it’s a misrepresentation of what
Gore actually said. He didn’t say that we should let international
resentment lead the way in dictating our foreign policy nor is he
preoccupied with the consequences that terrorists might impose on us.
What he’s pointing to with these points is that fact that in our history
of waging war in the Middle East we constantly miss opportunities to
build relationships with nations and therefore reduce the risk of
terrorism against us. He specifically points the example of the U.N. as
a case for winning the peace as well as the war. If anything an attitude
of goodwill requires a more active approach to diplomacy and far more
vigilance than a policy of fear. Waging war without fear of consequences
is far more irresponsible.

Saletan does come out more or less on the side of Gore. “Purchasing
the good will of other regimes risks morally ugly consequences,
embracing the exploitation of fear makes such consequences far more
likely.” And he is right in welcoming the debate it opens. But he would
do better to take a more evenhanded approach to Gore’s policy.

Sunday, September 22, 2002:

Excerpt from Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece in today's New York Times:

"The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq. This new fight isn't logical — it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny.

The Bush hawks don't simply want to go back in a time machine and make Desert Storm end with a turkey shoot. They want to travel back even farther to the Vietnam War and write a more muscular coda to that as well.

Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975.

We can't prove it with al Qaeda. That's like grabbing smoke"

Lenora 11:36 AM


Op-ed Sunday

Today is my day to take a break from politics and comment on something relatively frivolous.

Hard as it may be to believe, there was a very brief period in MTV’s “Real Word” history where the show was actually on the verge of being interesting. The San Francisco season was when the people at MTV put themselves on the line and made a public statement on the place of AIDS and homosexuality in mainstream culture. Remember Pedro? I don’t know about you but, for people my age, that was the first time I can recall seeing a real gay relationship depicted frankly and sensitively.

But after that it was as if they got scared by the attention they received for being relevant and fell back on finding these bland standard-issue hot people with serious personality and hormonal issues simply for the salacious voyeuristic effect. Now I’m not one of these people who are against entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but give me a break! At least change the formula people. This is the “Real World” formula as it has been for something like the past seven seasons:
--Seven or eight people who look like they may or may not have been rejects from the latest teenybopper video casting. (You know the type; attractive but in no way memorable) arrive at apartment that is decorated in a painstakingly outrageous fashion.
--immediately the drama ensues given the fact there can never be an equal number of guys and girls. If one of the roommates is gay, the fifth wheel thing doesn’t quite come off, although lately they’ve been upping the ante by occasionally having one gay roommate and one bisexual roommate. Important note here: the gay roommate is nearly always a man and the bisexual roommate is usually female. Rarely do they have a bona fide lesbian on the show. My humble opinion? Bisexual women preserve the male fantasy of girl-on-girl action without any militant overtones.
--There are the obligatory hookups: “I think of all the people here I’ll connect with so-and-so because he/she is so hot/funny/cool/real,” the inevitable disillusionments: “He/she isn’t the person I thought he/she was. Too clingy/petty/etc. and I ain’t feelin’ that.”
-and of course what “Real World” season would be complete without the one roommate nobody can stand? We have Puck to thank for that.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons why the title “The Real World” is a misnomer. If the show was in any way like the real world, who would watch it? But must it be so formulaic? Take this latest crop of Las Vegas roomies. I think with this season MTV is throwing away any claim of legitimacy. In the first place there’s a huge statement being made by having the location be Las Vegas. What better place to really bring out those party instincts? Location is everything, and the pilot season already has one of the females starting out in bed with one guy and ending up in bed with another. I think that’s a “Real World” record. My prediction is Vegas is the star of this season, especially when one examines the roommates. These people not only look like everyone that you or I have ever met, they even resemble each other!

It is one thing to watch a formerly great show lose relevancy and entertainment value, and quite another to watch a mediocre show see how low it can go One could feel sorry for MTV. By being the reality TV trailblazers they have become victims of its hype. The desperation they portray in their constant catering to the lowest common denominator of viewers is pretty indicative that their time has past. As dynamic as the concept of music television was in the early eighties, it created a larger system of image and sexuality on TV, and MTV in trying to defy the stringent radio system has become trapped in a larger system of image-conscious programming that they themselves helped to create.
The show is still compelling in a gaping-at-car-wrecks kind of way. But if you really want edgy television, catch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” over at UPN. Here’s a show that takes risks. By being so completely out of the realm of reality it enters this safe zone that enables them to confront real world issues on sexuality, the nature of youth, prejudice, and relationships. Ironic that a show on vampires can do so easily what a show based in “the real world” cannot.



Saturday, September 21, 2002:

Well, it's kinda late, but I think I'm going to make it a policy to update on weekends when I can. Dontcha hate waiting for Mondays? If you haven't done so yet, take a gander at the letters to the editor in todays NYT I know one really can't judge what a majority of "regular Americans" are thinking based on the NYT, but isn't it odd that out of ten published letters only two show the kind of rallying support for war on Iraq that is supposedly the majority opinion?

"To the Editor:

Re "Bush Seeks Power to Use 'All Means' to Oust Hussein" (front page, Sept. 20):

I have one question on the eager, headlong rush to war by this administration: Whose lives will be at risk this time?

Like Vietnam, will the cannon fodder again be the children of the working class?

We can be sure that President Bush's children and the children of other politicians will not be at risk; neither will the children of the wealthy be put on the front lines.

It is easy to declare war when you have nothing to lose and are not risking the lives of those close to you.

San Rafael, Calif., Sept. 20, 2002"

One more word on this whole Bush Doctrine insanity: It's plain hypocritical for us to claim to represent all that is free, equal, and moral if we adopt a policy that pretty much amounts to global totalitarianism. How on earth can we turn our backs on the International Criminal Court because it threatens US sovereignity when we expect other nations to shape up or ship out? I have a sneaking suspicion that our foreign policy is really being framed by a bunch of adolescent videogamers bent on virtual world domination. Actually that's more comforting than the truth.



Friday, September 20, 2002:

Usually Fridays are pretty slow news days but today is just jumping with news of the new Bush Doctrine. You can download the pdf at but beware. I'm not sure you want to put 35 pages of something that scary on your hard drive. Is it my imagination or has the US become Rome before the fall or the Third Reich all rolled into one? What happened to the notion of humility in this country?

I'm not feeling particularly well today. I have a paranoid feeling that I have the West Nile Virus. Damn Patrick Leahy!

If you haven't been watching the Daily Show this week you've missed some the most skewering criticism of the Bush Administration to date. How sad is that the network that spawned South Park and the Man Show is also the network with one of most clearheaded accurate reporting I've ever seen? The world is getting stranger and stranger.



Thursday, September 19, 2002:

I’m not sure how this will end up working. This won’t be a personal blog, mostly because a personal blog about my life would be intensely boring. I am starting this blog not for the greater good of blogistan but to keep my head from caving in.

I think I’ll dive right in with this little gem from The Washington Post. I especially love that it closes with this:

Democratic consultant Peter Fenn, who advised former Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 campaign as the Democratic presidential nominee, said Democrats should avoid looking at the war as a campaign issue. "This is the new third rail of politics," he said. "Touch it and you die."

Personally, I have issues with those who blame Gore for “losing” the 2000 Election. But I very much hope that come 2004 this guy Fenn is not on the Gore payroll. This quote smacks of the wishy-washy kind of thinking that tends to get the Dems in trouble. And I am so sick of the word “nonpartisan.” Why must the Democrats always meet the Republicans halfway when the Republicans have never been compromisers?

Lenora1:45 PM