Saturday, August 09, 2003

Politics 500+ years ago:

We have read about the cruelty of Saddam and his sons, but this is nothing new in human history. If one goes back and studies the events surrounding the War of the Roses, one finds multiple instances of royals being smothered to death (3), beheadings (at least 3), drowning (1), killings (many), and heads being impaled (3). Plus, there were battles galore (over a dozen). For those interested in the details, we have created a full-sized diagram that shows key events and personalities involved in the struggle for power among Edward III's descendants.

The order of events is fairly complicated. We have as background the intrigues between Thomas, Richard II, and John of Gaunt. Then Henry IV takes the crown (from Richard II) for the Lancaster side. With the advent of Henry VI we get seven battles between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. Then there are four battles between the House of York and another branch of the family tree (initially allies of York, but then they switched sides). Next, a battle that vanquishes the Lancaster group for good. This is followed by a bunch of royals getting murdered. Finally, the future Henry VII comes ashore to take the crown from Richard III of York in the battle at Bosworth. It was a violent era.


Friday, August 08, 2003

Bush vs. Gore:

From remarks to the press at Bush's ranch:
Q: Mr. President, what's your response to the Democrats, including Al Gore yesterday, and some of the Democratic presidential candidates, who say that the American people were misled in advance of the war about the reasons for going to war -- that you said, disarming Iraq was the main purpose, but since then, no weapons of mass destruction have been found?

THE PRESIDENT: I say it's pure politics.

Listen, thank you all. Have a beautiful day.

Q Do you want to say more than that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, it's just pure politics. We've got a lot of people running for President and it's pure politics. The American people know that we laid out the facts, we based the decision on sound intelligence and they also know we've only been there for a hundred days. And we're making progress. A free Iraq is necessary for a -- is an integral part of the war on terror. And as far as all this political noise, it's going to get worse as time goes on, and I fully understand that. And that's just the nature of democracy. Sometimes pure politics enters into the rhetoric.

Thank you, all.


Typical Rumsfeld:

From remarks to the press at Bush's ranch:
Q: Mr. President, for you and for Secretary Rumsfeld, please. Secretary Rumsfeld, did you authorize Pentagon officials to hold some secret talks with Iran-Contra figure Manucher Ghoreanifar, in order to push for a regime change in Iran? And Mr. President, do you think that's a good idea, and is the new policy official policy, regime change in Iran?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I had not had a chance to see these articles -- or an article, that I guess exists. I did get briefed by Condi and Larry DiRita here a minute ago. ...
Didn't have a chance to see the article(s). What the hell is he talking about?

Oh, now we get it. Rumsfeld was doing his usual distancing act. Virtually everything he knows - apparently - comes from the press and not from his Pentagon staff. (And didn't he also claim not to know about the Niger/uranium issue until it was reported in the New York Times?)


Fred Barnes ... hopeless (or worse):

The Daily Howler reports the following exchange on Fox's Special Report:
On last night’s Special Report, Brit Hume started the panel in orderly fashion; he read off six “false impressions” about Iraq which Al Gore had blamed on the Bush Admin. “Well, some of it was true,” Juan Williams said, agreeing with the things Gore said. And that’s when Barnes began his faking. No, we really aren’t making this up. Yes, the corrupted man said it:

WILLIAMS: Well, some of it was true.

BARNES: I didn’t notice any.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think it’s true when [Gore] says that President Bush led us to believe that somehow Saddam Hussein might have had connections to Al Qaeda

At this point, Fred cut Williams off. Try to believe that this fake, phony man has reached the point where he’ll actually say this on television:

BARNES (continuing directly): I think Bush said exactly the opposite, consistently! Exactly the opposite!
Howler then goes on to cite a New Republic article which report a number of instances when Bush and others in the administration asserted that there were ties between Hussein and al Qaeda.

But there's more. As it turns out, we did our own little survey ten months ago, restricted to statements by Bush himself in his 2002 campaign effort. Between October 10 and November 4, Bush made the following claims about Hussein in speeches (i.e. not off-the-cuff remarks):
  • "This is a person who has had contacts with al Qaeda."
  • "He's got connections with al Qaeda."
  • "This is a guy who has had connections with these shadowy terrorist networks."
  • "We know he's got ties with al Qaeda."
  • "We know that he's had connections with al Qaeda."
  • "He's had connections with shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda."
  • "We know that he has had contacts with terrorist networks like al Qaeda."
  • "This is a man who has had contacts with al Qaeda."
  • "This is a man who has had al Qaeda connections."
  • "He's had contacts with al Qaeda."
  • "This is a man who has got connections with al Qaeda."
(Go to our earlier post for dates, locations, and links for all these quotes)

We only looked at a restricted time period: 25 days - in which Bush said 11 times that there was a tie between Hussein and al Qaeda - or about once every couple of days. On the political oscilloscope, that's a very high frequency.

Bob Somerby of the Howler sums it up: ... what Barnes had said was utterly, one hundred percent false.


Thursday, August 07, 2003

The California Republic's grizzly ruminates on the political situation:


Give us a break, David:

In David Broder's Aug 6 essay about the similarities (!) between Bush and FDR, W's New Deal? , we read: (emphasis added)
But there is one big difference ...   We know how the New Deal turned out. It was a smashing political success ...

We can't yet know how Bush's experiments, bold as they may be, will work out either substantively or politically.
That's bad enough, claiming ignorance about the likely outcome of Bush's "experiments". But Broder wrote the following, just two weeks earlier: (emphasis added)
  • ... almost everyone who is not directly engaged in defending [Bush's deficits] found the long-term implications of the massive borrowing scary as hell.

  • The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan budgetary watchdog group, gave Congress and the administration an "F" on fiscal policy, saying it was characterized by "deficits, deception and denial."

  • Carol Cox Wait, the Republican president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget since it was founded in 1981 to battle "the specter of historically large, seemingly endless, structural budget deficits," chose last week to announce her resignation, explaining, "I have been there and done that."

  • ... the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) said that even if the economy recovers in the next year, as the administration assumes, annual budget deficits will not come down below $300 billion -- and then balloon after 2008 when the baby-boom retirees begin draining Medicare and Social Security. With lots of data, all these groups argue, as CBPP puts it, "The current fiscal policy path is neither manageable nor sustainable."
And then goes on to remark that perhaps we need somebody like Ross Perot to inform the nation of the problem.

Yet Broder still insists that "We can't yet know how Bush's experiments ... will work out"

Try reading your own columns, David.


California state seal to be modified:

EUREKA = I have found it.


George Bush vs. the average American:

George Bush: (a partial list)
From (Aug 2001):
IN DEFENDING his massive time away from the White House, President Bush said, ''I love to go walking out there, seeing the cows - occasionally they talk to me, being the good listener that I am. It's important for all of us in Washington to stay in touch with the values of the heartland.''

The Washington Post recently calculated that Bush has spent 42 percent of his first eight months as president at vacation spots. By the end of this week, only eight months into his presidency, he will have logged about 50 days alone at his range in Crawford, Texas.
From the Chicago Tribune (Aug 2002):
Say what you will about our president, he knows the value of a good vacation. Right now, he's probably easing back in an overstuffed armchair at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and wondering if he can fit in a nap before tee time.

Some would criticize Mr. Bush's 25-day break, but he is, in fact, a good role model for the rest of us.
From USA Today (Feb 2003):
The "soujourner in chief" heads back to the White House next week, nearly a month after departing for what his spinmeisters are quick to emphasize has been a "working vacation."
From the Washington Post (Aug 2003):
[The press conference] was called on 90 minutes' notice as Bush prepared to leave Saturday for a month-long vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., and half a dozen fundraisers for his reelection effort.
The average American:
From the Washington Post (Jul 2003)

  • ... Americans manage to live with the stingiest vacation allotment in the industrialized world -- 8.1 days after a year on the job, 10.2 days after three years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • A survey by the Internet travel company has found that Americans will be taking 10 percent less vacation time this year than last -- too much work to get away, said respondents. This continues a trend that has seen the average American vacation trip buzzsawed down to a long weekend, according to the travel industry. Some 13 percent of American companies now provide no paid leave, up from 5 percent five years ago, according to the Alexandria-based Society for Human Resource Management. In Washington state, a whopping 17 percent of workers get no paid leave.

    We're now logging more hours on the job than we have since the 1920s. Almost 40 percent of us work more than 50 hours a week. And just a couple of weeks ago, before members of the House of Representatives took off on their month-plus vacations, they opted to pile more work onto American employees by approving the White House's rewrite of wage and hour regulations, which would turn anyone who holds a "position of responsibility" into a salaried employee who can be required to work unlimited overtime for no extra pay.

  • In 1932, both the Democratic and Republican platforms called for shorter working hours, which averaged 49 a week in the 1920s. The Department of Labor issued a report in 1936 that found the lack of a national law on vacations shameful when 30 other nations had one, and recommended legislation. But it never happened. This was the fork in the road where the United States and Europe, which then had a similar amount of vacation time, parted ways. Europe chose the route of legal, protected vacations, while we went the other -- no statutory protection and voluntary paid leave. Now we are the only industrialized nation with no minimum paid-leave law. Europeans get four or five weeks by law and can get another couple of weeks by agreement with employers. The Japanese have two legally mandated weeks, and even the Chinese get three.


Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Bob at his best:

From The Sideshow we learn:
On behalf of GLAAD, Bob Hope addresses the camera in a tuxedo, and says, "I'm proud to live in this great, free country and I'm proud of our commitment to free speech. And I'm proud of our country's commitment to protecting the rights of its citizens to work and live free from bigotry and violence.

"That's why I was amazed to discover that many people die each year in anti-gay attacks and thousands more are left scarred, emotionally and physically.

"Bigotry has no place in this great nation, and violence has no place in this world, but it happens. Prejudice hurts, kills. Please don't be a part of it."

This ad came about after Hope was on "The Tonight Show" in 1988 and used the word "fag" in reference to someone's colorful tie on the show that night, motivating GLAAD to request an apology. Hope took it a step further by creating this spot at his own expense.

Because this was a public service announcement in an era when GLAAD couldn't afford to pay for the media time, this ad aired only on paid-access programs such as Gay Cable Network in New York City and The 10% Show in Chicago.
Go to the Commercial Closet website, and you can watch Bob. He's quite good.


Wall Street Journal - worse than the New York Post:

In the WSJ's Best of the Web by James Taranto: (emphasis added)
... Lieberman's erstwhile running mate, Al Gore, seems to have gone off the rails. The New York Post reports Gore will be speaking to a gathering of far-left, pro-Saddam group whose online "primary" gave Howard Dean a victory over second-place Dennis Kucinich ...
In the New York Post story the WSJ linked to: (emphasis added)
Amid talk he's being urged to jump back into the presidential race, Al Gore has arranged to speak out on Iraq to a large anti-war group at New York University on Thursday.


MoveOn, a national anti-war group that boasts 120,000 members in the New York City area, recently gave Democratic anti-war candidate Howard Dean a big boost by conducting an online poll that Dean won.
Thanks to Atrios for pointing out the WSJ entry.


Village People + 1:

NOTE: Anglican Bishop pictured is actually The Right Reverend Donald F Harvey, Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Parody site:

Extremely well done:


A different perspective?

Yesterday we heard an interesting interview of Stephen Schwartz on a (liberal) Pacifica radio station. He sure talked like a Marxist ("material interests have inevitable consequences"), yet he's been a frequent contributor to the National Review and The Weekly Standard. (Q&A at NRO here) He is a vociferous critic of Wahhabism and the author of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror. His perspective is that Saudi Arabia is a rotten structure that will eventually be overturned, that Washington has accommodated the reactionary Saudi leadership, and that accommodation is preventing Americans from learning of the close Saudi-Sept11 connections. Except for the Marxist/progressive remarks by Schwartz about Big Oil running the show, his outlook is similar in some ways to that of the neocons ("we must reform the region"). We don't have a transcript or link to the interview, but we present the key points he mentioned in the diagram below:

UPDATE: In a related vein, Calpundit has some thoughts about Greg Palast's theories (which claim a tight relationship between Bush himself, and Saudi financial benefactors).

UPDATE #2: If it's not on this page, we diagrammed the money trail between senior Saudi officials and al Qaeda here.


Monday, August 04, 2003


Over at the Weekly Standard:
The Gay Bishop's Links
Episcopalian bishop-elect Gene Robinson has some curious affiliations.
by Fred Barnes
08/04/2003 2:48:00 PM

THE CONTROVERSIAL gay Episcopal bishop-elect of New Hampshire is a founder of a group called Outright that supports gay, lesbian, or "questioning" young people 22-years-old or younger and gets them together with older gay and lesbian role models. On its website, Outright had a link to a pornographic website--until the link became an issue in the fight at the Episcopal Church's national convention in Minneapolis over ratifying the election of the bishop-elect, Gene Robinson, by New Hampshire Episcopalians. The link, indeed all links, were removed from the website today.

Robinson was reported to have denied any knowledge of the link. But he has made no secret of his connection with Outright.
Here at uggabugga:
Fred Barnes' Links
Conservative reporter has some curious affiliations.
by Quiddity
08/04/2003 6:48:00 PM

THE CONTROVERSIAL reporter at the Weekly Standard is a senior editor for that publication. On its website, the Weekly Standard had links that when clicked, lead you to the following sites:
Barnes was reported to have denied any knowledge of the links. But he has made no secret of his connection with the Weekly Standard.
UPDATE: Our sequences aren't as short at the 3-links reported at Eschaton, but ours are a little more solid since they are along the path of existing busi8ness relationships (Atrios' sequence goes first to a Weekly Standard links page).


Best wishes:

Inspired by Santorum's interview on Fox News Sunday (below, or at this link).



Your one-stop blogger resource for the Valerie Plame Wilson affair is Mark A. R. Kleiman.




Sunday, August 03, 2003

This man must be stopped:

If you missed Rick Santorum's interview on Fox News Sunday, you missed an opportunity to watch one of the most bizarre performances in recent political history. Excerpts from the transcript: (emphasis added)
HUME: Now, you just heard Elizabeth Birch set forth a lot reasons why she thinks the current legal situation, as it deals with gays, is unfair; that, you know, hospital visitation rights and these other things are denied. Do you think that's fair?

SANTORUM: Well, that's a separate issue. I mean, the issue here is marriage. And to me, the building block -- and I think, to most people in America, number one, it's common sense that a marriage is between a man and a woman. I mean, every civilization in the history of man has recognized a unique bond.

Why? Because -- principally because of children. I mean, it's -- it is the reason for marriage. It's not to affirm the love of two people. I mean, that's not what marriage is about. I mean, if that were the case, then lots of different people and lots of different combinations could be, quote, "married."

Marriage is not about affirming somebody's love for somebody else. It's about uniting together to be open to children, to further civilization in our society.

And that's unique. And that's why civilizations forever have recognized that unique role that needs to be licensed, needs held up as different than anything else because of its unique nurturing effect on children.

And there isn't a statistic out there that doesn't show that married couples, in a healthy marriage, is the best environment in which to raise stable children and is the best thing, long term, for our society.

So it's not about not recognizing somebody's love for somebody else. That's not what it's about. It's not being discriminatory against anybody. It's talking about the good that marriage is for our culture.
SANTORUM: I guess, my feeling is, I would step back and say that if there are laws that the states want to pass having to do with certain benefits or things like that, that's one thing. But civil union sounds too much to me like marriage and confuses the issues.

And part of the other issue here is, what kind of message are we sending to our children and to society about the importance of the marriage relationship?

And I think when you get into things like civil union, you tend to muddle the picture.
SANTORUM: We already have the family under assault in America. I mean, there's articles written saying, you know, "Why are people so against gay marriage? I mean, you've got divorce rates that are high, you've got, you know, all these other things that are, sort of, tearing the family apart. You know, what's wrong with just, you know, further tearing it apart?"

And I would argue that anything that detracts from the uniqueness and sanctity of that relationship is not going to be a positive thing for our society.
ENSHRINE: To preserve and cherish as sacred [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]
SANTORUM: ... I think that marriage is such an important thing, and families are such an important thing for a society, that it needs to be enshrined in a very, very unique way.
HUME: Let me ask you a question based upon something Senator John Kerry said the other day. The Vatican spoke this week on this issue, quite emphatically. Senator Kerry, himself, I believe a Catholic, said, "I believe in the Church, and I care about it enormously, but I think that it's important not to have the Church instructing politicians. That," he says, "is an inappropriate crossing of the line in America."

Agree, disagree?

SANTORUM: I disagree dramatically.
HUME: ... it was said, "We don't want to have leaders who are being directed from the Vatican." These were directions [about opposing gay marriage] from the Vatican, in the eyes of many. What do you say?

SANTORUM: It's not a direction from the Vatican. I mean, it's a ...

HUME: Well, they were warned ...

SANTORUM: ... it's the Vatican speaking about what the faith of the Catholic Church is. And, I mean, as every church has a ruling council of some sort that defines what the faith is. And, you know, my feeling is that I have a right as a Catholic politician to uphold the values that I believe are important to me, and important, that I believe, for this country. And I think in this case they're consistent.

But I think it's important to have moral leaders speak out. I mean, that's their right, to speak out and to let politicians, as well as every other American, know what they believe the moral imperatives are for our society.

And that doesn't mean, obviously, everybody has to agree with them, but I think that they should be considered, and certainly people who subscribe to that faith -- and in this case this is a core teaching of the Church -- I think they have an obligation to take that into great consideration, and I think it has -- should have an impact on you.
SANTORUM: Yes. What's outrageous is the line of questioning that's been conducted in the Senate Judiciary Committee about people's, quote, "deeply held beliefs." There are questions and comments made that if you have deeply held beliefs, particularly about moral issues, that you can't be impartial. Which leads me to the conclusion that you have shallowly held beliefs, if you really don't believe in anything, that's OK, but if you have deeply held beliefs, that somehow or another because of those deeply held beliefs you can't be impartial.

What does that mean? That means someone who is a deeply faithful Catholic, and believes as the Catholic Church, in Bill Pryor's case, and that's where he gets his feeling on abortion...

HUME: Yes, but that doesn't apply to all Catholics?

SANTORUM: But it does apply to Catholics who subscribe to what the teachings of the Church are. And so, if you have a Catholic who subscribes to the Catholic teaching, you're saying that some faithful Catholic cannot apply and cannot be a member of the court because of his deep held religious beliefs, that he projects, because that's his belief structure, into his job.


Complexity theory:

In a detailed report in the Asia Times, Why the US needs the Taliban, we read about a tug-of-war over the future of Afghanistan. Don't worry, nothing is likely to break out soon; the report covers the deep trends in the region. Still, it's something to pay attention to. The bottom line is this:
  • Pakistan wants control of Afghanistan
  • Iran, India, and Russia like the current (non-Pakistan friendly) government in Kabul
  • The U.S. needs a friendly Pakistan, so it might allow an Islamabad-backed Pashtun group in power in Kabul
  • That might mean a return (in some form) of the Taliban
Here is a rough diagram of the situation as described in the article:

UPDATE: On the heels of the Asia Times story, comes this from the Washington Post:
Afghan Political Violence on the Rise
Instability in South Grows as Pro-Taliban Fighters Attack Allies of U.S.-Led Forces