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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Get your barf bags ready:
Who’s on ‘Meet the Press’ Sept. 14th

EXCLUSIVE! Vice President Dick Cheney, in his first Sunday interview in six months, discusses the war in Iraq.


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A journalistic disgrace:

Chris Matthews, in his commentary at the end of his program, had this to say (13 Sep 2003):
(populist pandering in bold red)
You would think that political nobodies caused the California recall.
In truth it's political somebodies who deserve the credit - and the ridicule.

I'm talking about the professional politicians.

They can't control the budget.
They can't maintain the border.
They couldn't even keep the state's electricity from being cut off.
The politicians aren't even good at being politicians. Those suits in Sacramento might as well be in Swaziland, they're so disconnected from the people
.


A famous Californian once explained why one of its state's early pioneers, Hiram Johnson, devised some odd constitutional means, such as the recall, to take power away from the political parties.
(1966 clip of) RONALD REAGAN: Here he was striving to return power and authority to the individual, and he set up certain practices for our two political parties that still exist today. The open primary. Things that are very difficult for people in the east to understand, where they've been used to more boss rule and the smoke-filled room. And here in California, we take the case to the people.
Ronald Reagan got it. Maybe that's why the people of California got him.
There is so much wrong with what Matthews said.
  • It was a political nobody, Darrell Issa, that got the recall to happen.
  • Those "California politicians" have a budget problem, just like the other 49 states. In fact, California had to experience the dot-com and high-tech collapse, which made things worse.
  • California politicians can't maintain the border? They can't send troops to Peru or a manned crew to the space station. Those are federal functions.
  • Blaming the politicians for what turned out to be market manipulation by private (and out-of-state) interests, is a complete distraction from the truth. And in any event, the politicians did act to prevent further black-outs. They scrambled and did all manner of things to reduce the risk, including signing contracts under anomalous market conditions.
  • And railing against "the suits" is pretty lame.
Matthews should be embarrassed. Everything he asserted was either false or misleading.


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Friday, September 12, 2003

In case you missed it: (we did)

From Senators grill Defense official about Iraq price tag (USAToday on Yahoo, 10 Sep 2003)
"Congress is not an ATM," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., told Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. "We have to be able to explain this huge, enormous bill to the American people."

[...]

Wolfowitz said progress was being made in Iraq. He quoted from an unclassified CIA report that said that two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, al-Qaeda "is at growing risk of breaking apart, as our blows against the group create a level of disarray and confusion throughout the organization that we have not seen since the collapse of the Taliban in late 2001."

[...]

Wolfowitz held up several passports taken from killed or captured fighters in Iraq, which indicated that they were foreigners who came to Iraq to resist the U.S. invasion. But Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., noted that the dates of entry were after the start of the war.


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Gregg Easterbrook on Richard Grasso's big payday:

He calls it corruption.


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Thursday, September 11, 2003

Instead of a terrorist, they got Tommy:
Comedian Chong Sentenced on Drug Charges

Tommy Chong, who played one half of the dope-smoking duo in the Cheech and Chong movies, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and fined $20,000 Thursday for selling bongs and other drug paraphernalia over the Internet.

The 65-year-old was allowed to remain free until federal prison officials tell him in a few weeks where he must report to prison.
Wanna bet Ken Lay doesn't do that much time?



UPDATE: From the associated Yahoo message board, we found the following posts:
POST
This is illegal?!?
In the town where I live, there are a few 'headshops' that sell bongs & pipes. As I understand it, this is completely legal, as long as the paraphenalia is referred to as 'tobacco pipes' and 'tobacco water pipes'. Actually, if you mention weed while shopping in one of these stores, they won't sell you anything!
POST
Re: This is illegal?!?
If it is illegal, they need to raid the company that makes honey in those little bear shaped containers.
POST
Re: This is illegal?!?
What in the world do you do with those bear shaped honey containers?
POST
Re: This is illegal?!?
Well you cut a little round hole in his chest, just below his chin, then put a tube through with a bowl on top to hold your weed. Then you fill him up with water and you have a cute little home-made bong.

I think this is actually on Martha Stewarts website under "What to do with those extra honey bears"
POST
Re: This is illegal?!?
You learn something new everyday.
POST
Re: This is illegal?!?
Thanks for the info, I had never heard that.

I wonder why I hadn't ever heard that before, considering my college years were pretty hazy...


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Rumsfeld on PBS' News Hour:

We watched the interview and were struck by how much Rumsfeld attempted to physically intimidate Jim Lehrer. Leaning forward, smiling aggressively, trying to get Lehrer to be a pal, and oddball responses:


JIM LEHRER: But you do understand why people ask questions that are like I just asked you, do you not?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Sure, we've got 24 hour news. People are impatient.

JIM LEHRER: No, no I'm not talking about news. I'm talking about, you know, the impression that was left....
At one point in the interview the director decided to have the camera do a half-orbit around the two men (sort of like what Spike Lee does in his movies). The entire viewing experience was bizarre - mostly due to Rumsfeld's peculiar demeanor.

In our opinion Rumsfeld was somewhat successful in discombobulating Lehrer (though others think Jim held his ground). You can read the transcript or (better yet) view the video here.

Also, Daily Kos has some thoughts on the event (plus there are a lot of comments).


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Fun reading:

Richard Reeves - someone we like - penned an essay on 3 September 2003 entitled Why GWB Can't Win (link is to home page, archives are broken at the moment). He gives ten reasons.


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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ya gotta laugh:

From the AP wire story FCC Says Howard Stern Show Is News Program:
The Federal Communications Commission ruled Tuesday that Stern's raunchy radio program is a "bona fide news interview" program.

The decision was in response to a request made by New York-based Infinity Broadcasting Operations Inc., which wanted a ruling that its widely syndicated Stern show is a news program and exempt from equal time requirements for political candidates.

The decision will allow Stern to put actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (news) on the air without having to offer time to the scores of other candidates running for governor in California.

[...]

The FCC's latest decision didn't go over well with Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a Washington-based media watchdog group.

"Howard Stern isn't 'bona fide' anything," Schwartzman said. He said the decision "mocks that system by equating Howard Stern with Tim Russert," host of NBC's "Meet the Press."


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Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Big Dick Morris:

In the New York Post, savant Dick Morris has this to say: (excerpts, emphasis added)
... the Democrats know that the president has an ace up his sleeve: Howard Dean. This ultra-liberal, who Bush could defeat with his eyes closed, is racing into the lead in the Democratic field.
Okay, standard Democrat-bashing. (Dean is not an ultra-liberal.) But then Morris concludes with this:
Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success.
That's delusional; this is scary:
The solution for Bush is to put terrorism back on the front burner by high profile and aggressive action against Iran and/or North Korea. It's not necessary to wag the dog, but Bush should wag his tongue and raise the profile of these two remaining threats to our security.


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Meld:

Part Tom Sawyer, part Presidential Address


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In the New York Times of 9 September 2003:




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Monday, September 08, 2003

Department of Self-Parody:

Via Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots, we learn of an interview with Ann Coulter on ‘Saturday Final with Lawrence O’Donnell’ (30 Aug 2003). She said:
These are the same arguments, the precise same arguments that were being made before the war. It’s going to be a quagmire. What is the plan? When do we get out? How much is it going to cost? Someone in the military might get his hair mussed. We heard all these arguments.
Surely Coulter is familiar with a remark made by General Turgidson in the movie Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Minimizing Soviet retaliatory counter-attack casualty statistics, Turgidson says:
Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks.


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Will this play in Peoria?

Andrew Sullivan writes approvingly about the Flypaper Strategy in the Sunday Times (of London), and makes this observation:
The extra beauty of this strategy is that it creates a target for Islamist terrorists that is not Israel. A key objective of the current U.S. strategy is to show that Israel is not the fundamental cause of instability and mayhem in the Middle East - but a victim of the same kind of pathological religious extremism that has destroyed Iran, brutalized Afghanistan and blackmailed Saudi Arabia.
Sullivan's thinking appears to be this:
  1. There is violence and angry rhetoric in the Middle East.
  2. Much of it is directed against Israel.
  3. Many people think Israel is the reason for the instability.
  4. I (Andrew Sullivan) do not.
  5. Instead of using discussion and debate to determine if Israel is part of the problem, it's better if the United States (or any other country for that matter) to invade a Middle East country. That way, if there is violence towards the U.S., it will prove that the problems of the past had little to do with Israel and instead, were due to religious extremism.
That's pretty poor reasoning. Also, the notion that it's good to have a war in order to prove a point about political trends is absurd. There are tensions between India and Pakistan. Would it be a good idea to send American troops into Kashmir to demonstrate that Pakistan's interests there are not purely anti-Indian?

Oh wait, they already are:
Indian, U.S. Forces Hold Joint Exercises

NEW DELHI, India -- Indian and U.S. commandos are training together in the rugged Himalayan mountain region near India's borders with China and Pakistan, a U.S. Embassy official said Sunday.

The three-week exercises in the Ladakh region of Jammu-Kashmir state will conclude later this month, the officer said on condition of anonymity. The official declined to give further details.


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Shut up and support Bush!

From the Washington Post: (emphasis added)
Rumsfeld: Criticism of Bush Strengthens U.S. Foes

SHANNON, Ireland (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday opposition to the U.S. President was encouraging Washington's enemies and hindering his 'war against terrorism'.

Rumsfeld was speaking after a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq where he sought to highlight progress on reconstruction efforts and dampen criticism of the U.S. presence there and the almost daily casualties in a guerrilla campaign against occupation.

He said if Washington's enemies believed Bush might waver or his opponents prevail, that could increase support for their activities.

"They take heart in that and that leads to more money going into these activities or that leads to more recruits or that leads to more encouragement or that leads to more staying power," he told reporters traveling with him on his plane.

"Obviously that does make our task more difficult."

"Terrorists studied...instances when the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in, and persuaded themselves that they could in fact cause us to acquiesce in whatever it is they wanted to do," he said. "The United States is not going to do that, President (George W.) Bush is not going to do that."
It's curious that Rumsfeld mentioned "more money going into these activities". Who is working that angle? The CIA? And what are the Saudis doing to help?

The story concluded with this bit of strangeness:
Rumsfeld met briefly in Baghdad with former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, who is coordinating the hunt for the banned weapons. But he said the half-hour discussion centered on what assistance the Defense Department could provide rather than a review of the information being collected.

We did not have much of a discussion on the substance of what he is turning up," Rumsfeld said. "I did not go into the half hour meeting and say 'OK lay out what you've found'. I went in assuming he'll (Kay) tell me if he's got something that he thinks I need to know."


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