Sunday, September 29, 2002

Rumsfeld's proof:

We admit it. We were skeptical that there was any conclusive evidence of Iraq harboring al Qaeda or developing new weapons. But the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, after much resistance, has decided to go public with this satellite image. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Saddam is guilty of all charges. Thanks, Don!

On the other hand, it sure looks like Disneyland, California


Friday, September 27, 2002

Everything but the kitchen sink:

The White House has helpfully provided a document to bolster its case for going after Iraq. Called A Decade of Deception and Defiance, one of its chapters is Saddam Hussein's Refusal to Return Stolen Property. Which reads in full:
Iraq destroyed much stolen property before it could be returned, and Kuwait claims that large quantities of equipment remain unaccounted for:
  • The UN and Kuwait say Iraq has not returned extensive Kuwaiti state archives and museum pieces, as well as military equipment, including eight Mirage F-1 aircraft, 245 Russian-made fighting vehicles, 90 M113 armored personnel carriers, one Hawk battery, 3,750 Tow and anti-tank missiles, and 675 Russian-made surface-to-air missile batteries.


    Who said what?

    Match the writers:
  • Michael Kelly in The Washington Post
  • Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post
  • Oliver North in
  • Andrew Sullivan in Salon
  • Andrew Sullivan on his website (1 & 2)
  • with the comments about Gore or his speech:

    A someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power, dishonest, cheap, low, hollow, breathtakingly hypocritical, wretched, vile, contemptible, lie, mendacity, viciousness, a disgrace
    B bitter and negative, not even honest, a political coward, disgusting, outrageous smear against the administration, weasely, Chomsky-like critique, weasels around, naked opportunist
    C can't make peace with the concepts of truthfulness and honesty, wrong, mean-spirited, outrageous claims
    D a disgrace, cheap shots, without logic or coherence, ad hominem, poison, profoundly unserious, cynical
    E faking, a pure opportunist, no consistency in his political views, say whatever he thinks will get him power or attention or votes, bizarre, pathetic, bellicose hysteria

    Answer (highlight with cursor from here): A: Kelly, B: Sullivan (Salon), C: North, D: Krauthammer, E: Sullivan (website)(to here)


    Thursday, September 26, 2002

    Readin' the news:

    We took a look at this Reuters news item about Iraq - al Qaeda ties. And note the following:
    Speaking at the Pentagon Rumsfeld said there was "solid evidence" of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members.

    "We have what we believe to be credible information that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq, reciprocal non-aggression discussions. We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities," Rumsfeld told reporters.
    That's pretty weak. "Discussions," and "seeking contact."

    But this was strange:
    One report, he said, indicated Iraq had provided unspecified training related to "chemical and/or biological matters" to al Qaeda, blamed by Washington for the Sept. 11 attacks on America that killed around 3,000 people.
    Blamed by Washington? What's Reuters up to? Is there still no hard evidence that al Qaeda was behind the Sept. 11 attack? In fact, what is the evidence? We know bin Laden took credit, but has anybody reconstructed the command-and-control network to show that the 19 hijackers were "officially" part of al Qaeda? Our default position is that al Qaeda was responsible, but we don't recall any details other than the movements of the hijackers themselves. For all we know, the hijacking could have been a pure Saudi-centered operation, or an Iraqi one, or an Iranian one, or...


    Barlow on Freud:

    Ted Barlow has some excellent comments about Freud and the scientific method. We completely agree with Ted's views in this matter. With Freud's work, there was no way to test it since it was wholly dependent on subjective evaluations.

    However, Freud fans still exist, even at the highest levels. Take, for instance, Eric Kandel, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine for contributions to the field of neuroscience. We heard him praise Freud some time ago on the Charlie Rose show. And as this report from October 2000 puts it:
    The news last week from Stockholm that Eric R. Kandel of Columbia... had won the 2000 Nobel Prizes in physiology and/or medicine for ... work on the biochemical basis of learning, mood, and memory would have made Sigmund Freud proud. Kandel [and others] have largely realized Freud's hope that such higher mental faculties as mood, memory, and desire might be reduced to their chemical bases. The Nobelists had proved that one of Freud's heroes, the materialist Ludwig Büchner, was right when he announced that ?ohne phosphor keine Gedanke? (without phosphorous no thought). Nerve cells use phosphorus to send us their news.
    Eric Kandel grew up wanting to be Sigmund Freud. To this day, he spends summers amidst the shrinks and scholars of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, rather than among the sea-slug students of Woods Hole or Cold Spring Harbor.
    So, a hard-science, reductionist investigator thinks highly of Freud. Go figure.

    Apparently Freud did opine at one point that biological explanations for mental conditions would eventually be found, but his work was more in the spirit of the 19th century's Romantic Era ("id," anyone?) than anything else.


    Slogan for our time:

    From the fertile mind of Karl Rove:


    A head-scratcher:

    Tony Blair's strong support of Bush's policies about Iraq make us wonder. Sure, it's a serious foreign policy issue and Britain has national interests. But Blair has to be aware that he's also doing plenty to support Bush and the Republicans - politically. Seeing Blair on every news program hailing Bush's stance must be the equivalent of millions of dollars of political ads. While we don't have exact numbers, it's our impression that Blair got more media exposure for his recent Iraq-is-a-threat statements than Gore did for his speech in San Francisco.

    Nations have interests in the outcome of elections in other states (witness the recent U.S. - Germany spat). What is it that makes a Republican-controlled United States good for England? We have no idea.


    Andrew Sullivan to open miniature golf course:

    For adults' eyes only. See it here.


    The President speaks:

    From the Q&A when Bush was with the Colombian President:
    Terry Moran. Q: Mr. President, are you politicizing the war? Do you think Americans should base their vote in November in part on where a candidate stands on the war?

    PRESIDENT BUSH: I think the American people ought to understand that life has changed here in this country; that it used to be two oceans would separate us from danger, that we were quite comfortable in our shores knowing that it would take an unusual circumstance to be attacked. After September the 11th, we were attacked, and the American people understand that this country must deal with the true threats.

    I am as determined today as I was on September the 11th to pursue an enemy which still wants to hurt America. I am absolutely determined to make sure that 10 years from now we don't look back and say, what happened, why did America go soft, why did we ignore true threats that face our people?

    And I hope the American people understand that. I was concerned, of course, after September the 11th, that as time went by, some might forget, some might forget the true threats. Of course, I'm reminded of that every day when I come here to the Oval Office that we face true threats. And, Terry, my job is to protect the American people. It's my most important job, most important assignment I have. And I will continue to do that, regardless of the season.

    Q: So it's a legitimate political issue?

    PRESIDENT BUSH: Legitimate national security concern is what it is. You may try to politicize it. I view it as my main obligation; that is to protect the American people. It's the most important job this President will have, and it's the most important job future Presidents will have, because the nature of war has changed.
    We note the following:
  • Bush is right, it used to be two oceans separating the U.S. from danger, up until about 1970.
  • What's this true threats business?
  • Good to know that Bush will continue to protect the American people, regardless of the season.
  • And apparently protecting the American people wasn't going to be the most important job for future presidents until the nature of war changed (on Sept. 11)
  • Crazy.


    What's that bag?

    In today's Danziger cartoon, it's not clear what that soldier is carrying.

    Here's a close-up


    Takin' a look at the The National Security Strategy of the United States of America:

    Available from the White House website.

    Some of it made sense. Some of it didn't. Here are a few items of interest:

    From the document Our comments
    Chapter 1 Overview of America's International Strategy  
    For most of the twentieth century, the world was divided by a great struggle over ideas: destructive totalitarian visions versus freedom and equality. That great struggle is over. The militant visions of class, nation, and race which promised utopia and delivered misery have been defeated and discredited. There's still religion
    The U.S. national security strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. The aim of this strategy is to help make the world not just safer but better. American exceptionalism lives.
    ... the United States will: expand the circle of development by opening societies ... So, we will be intervening?
    Chapter 2 Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity  
    America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property. No mention of democracy - although further down it's stated that it will be "rewarded" and is something "we cherish."
    Chapter 3 Strengthen Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism and Work to Prevent Attacks Against Us and Our Friends  
    The struggle against global terrorism is different from any other war in our history. The Barbary Pirates come to mind ("an unconventional foe")
    We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by: supporting moderate and modern government, especially in the Muslim world, to ensure that the conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism do not find fertile ground in any nation Looks like a clash of civilizations from here.
    Chapter 4 Work with others to Defuse Regional Conflicts  
    In the Western Hemisphere we have formed flexible coalitions with countries that share our priorities, particularly Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and Colombia. !!
    Chapter 5 Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons of Mass Destruction  
    For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack. But responding to mobilization was the cause of WWI, and was later judged to be ill-advised.
    The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. The new global debate? Preempting emerging threats vs. unwarranted aggression.
    ... in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. So it is a clash of civilizations (sort of).
    Chapter 6 Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth through Free Markets and Free Trade  
    "When ... opportunity is hoarded by a privileged few, no amount ... of development aid is ever enough." President Bush, Monterrey, Mexico, March 22, 2002 No kidding. Bush knows what it's like to be a member of "a privileged few"
    We will use our economic engagement with other countries to underscore the benefits of policies that generate higher productivity and sustained economic growth, including: tax policies—particularly lower marginal tax rates—that improve incentives for work and investment; This is absurd. Tax rates have a relationship to the amount of government services the people want. To insist otherwise is to interfere with a state's domestic policies.
    We will strengthen our own energy security and the shared prosperity of the global economy by working with our allies, trading partners, and energy producers to expand the sources and types of global energy supplied, especially in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Central Asia, and the Caspian region. Will somebody please note this item?
    Economic growth should be accompanied by global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations associated with this growth, containing them at a level that prevents dangerous human interference with the global climate. Our overall objective is to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions relative to the size of our economy, cutting such emissions per unit of economic activity by 18 percent over the next 10 years, by the year 2012. Our strategies for attaining this goal will be to: promote renewable energy production and clean coal technology, as well as nuclear power—which produces no greenhouse gas emissions, while also improving fuel economy for U.S. cars and trucks; Coal has the highest CO2 output of all the fossil fuels. In this document no-greenhouse-gas nuclear and big-greenhouse-gas coal is promoted at the same time. Also, it will be interesting to see when - if ever - the administration promotes higher vehicle fuel economy.
    Chapter 7 Expand the Circle of Development by Opening Societies and Building the Infrastructure of Democracy  
    Literacy and learning are the foundation of democracy and development. Only mention of democracy in the chapter.
    For the first time, donors can link a portion of their contributions to [International Development Association] to the achievement of actual development results, and part of the U.S. contribution is linked in this way. That's a formula for cutting back funding.
    Chapter 8 Develop Agendas for Cooperative Action with the Other Main Centers of Global Power  
    The United States has undertaken a transformation in its bilateral relationship with India based on a conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. ... We have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. What sea lanes? Unlike Northern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Bosporus, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf, there are no choke points in the Indian Ocean. What are they thinking?
    Chapter 9 Transform America's National Security Institutions to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities of the Twenty-First Century  
    ... our military must: dissuade future military competition;
    Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.
    That's the way you dissuade competition: just be strong "enough" - no diplomacy required.
    ... to meet the many security challenges we face, the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia Are we going back to the Philippines?
    The war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations. It does, however, reveal the clash inside a civilization, a battle for the future of the Muslim world. This is a struggle of ideas and this is an area where America must excel. It's hard to see how America can have much say about a dispute within the Muslim world.


    Wednesday, September 25, 2002

    Economics 101:

    In Bush's New Jersey speech, the one where he said the Senate was "not interested in the security of the American people", he also said:
    In order to make sure the country was stronger, I pulled this page out of the economic textbook, the page that says, if you let people keep more of their own money, they're going to spend it on a good or a service. If they spend it on a good or a service, somebody will produce the good and service. And if somebody produces a good or service, some American is more likely to find work. The tax relief came right at the right time for economic growth and jobs.
    Bush is wrong. Money can sit around, not circulating. The textbook Bush used must have been printed before 1930.


    Tuesday, September 24, 2002

    Just one word:

    We have only one word to describe the new defense policy announced by the Bush administration:


    Monday, September 23, 2002

    Enough already!!!

    We draw your attention to something Tim Russert said yesterday:

    " ... there used to be 35 workers for every retiree. There’s soon to be two workers for every retiree. "

    Here are the facts:

    • President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security legislation in 1935. link
    • In 1945, a decade after Social Security was implemented we had 40 workers for every retiree. link
    • In 1950, there were 16 workers for every retiree. link
    • In 1960, there were 5.1 workers per retiree. link
    • In 1970, there were 3.5 workers for every retiree. link
    • In 1980, there were 3.2 workers for every retiree. link
    • In 1995, there were 3.3 workers per retiree. link
    • The ratio in 1998 is slightly more than three workers per retiree. link
    • By the year 2030, there will be fewer than two workers contributing to Social Security for each retiree. link

    By Russert's logic, we should have had a crisis in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1995 - 'cause there were a whole hell of a lot fewer workers than 35 per retiree.

    Obviously, when a pay-as-you-go program is first started, the ratio of pay-in's to pay-out's is going to be very large. However, Russert tosses around 35:1 as if that's the ratio for a settled, steady-state system. And another thing. We've heard about how much more productive U.S. workers have become over the last 50 years. You know, more output per unit worker. That's true, and a reason why over time, fewer workers are needed to build a car, publish a book, or support a retiree.

    Now, there are real issues having to do with the Baby Boomer demographics which require building up a surplus to tap into later, and certain other adjustments. But when people like Russert talk about 35 workers per retiree - and contrast that with an expected 2 per retiree, that's shorthand for implying that the system is hoplessly broken.

    And that's a lie.

    Sunday, September 22, 2002

    Tim Russert carrying water for the Republicans:

    From this Sunday's Meet the Press transcript:
    [Speaking to Wayne Allard, incumbent Republican senator from Colorado.]

    MR. RUSSERT: Senator Allard, you have suggested creating private accounts in Social Security.
    SEN. ALLARD: Yes.
    MR. RUSSERT: Some call that privatizing.
    SEN. ALLARD: Yeah. Yeah.
    MR. RUSSERT: Democrats prefer that term. Republicans object to it.


    Amazing what a single issue can do for your political prospects:

    favor Democrats no traction favor Republicans
    • Stagnant economy
    • Plunging 401k's
    • Corporate scandals and Bush administration connections
    • Failure to regulate rigged/failed electricity market
    • Federal deficits
    • Social Security
    • Reductions in Medicare payments (proposals for)
    • Prescription drugs
    • Drought in several states (administration's lack of response)
    • Environment (Kyoto, EPA, ANWR)
    • "getting back" for the 2000 election
      (Bush not the popular choice, Florida)
    • Crime
    • Trade issues
    • Judiciary
    • Fighting terrorism
    • Iraq


    What's the fuss?

    People are talking about that mom who slapped her daughter in a parking lot. Everybody is outraged. Or are they? Maybe that sort of thing is just the ticket in Florida. Consider that the man named on August 15 by Gov. Jeb Bush to head Florida's child welfare agency, Jerry Regier, is an evangelical Christian who views spanking that causes ''bruises or welts'' as acceptable punishment.

    About the little girl. The AP reports that: The girl showed no visible signs of injuries.

    So, according to Jeb's appointee, a parent would be perfectly justified beating a child even harder than the Indiana mom did.



    In case you missed it:

    We are pleased to report that that adulterous Nigerian woman is not going to be stoned to death. (At least the odds are very good that she won't.) The government of Nigeria, facing increased scrutiny because it will be hosting this year's Miss World contest, has decided to get involved. The BBC reports:
    In a letter published on the Miss World website, Nigeria's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dubem Onyia says " no woman has ever been punished in such a dastardly manner...and this will not be an exception".
    Who said beauty contests were worthless?


    It keeps on going and going:

    This Sunday, the topic on D. James Kennedy's widely viewed Coral Ridge Hour was America Remembers. It was about September 11. The reverend discussed flight 93, the individuals that died in New York and Washington, and the efforts of the police and firefighters. He spoke of Osama bin Laden's delight upon learning the news of the attack. Then he turned to how Americans were handling the memory of that day. He spoke about what to tell children at home and in the schools. Then he said:

    From the NEA the order went out, "not to blame anyone"

    Thanks, Washington Times!


    Saturday, September 21, 2002

    Red vs. Blue:

    While we can't vouch for the statistics, Alas, a blog has two maps you might be interested in. Red vs. blue states as determined by the 2000 election, and states with high and low suicide rates. We suspect that states with lower rates have more suicide-prevention programs, and that accounts for most of the difference. However, politics is politics, and maybe liberals should "wave the bloody shirt" once in a while - if only to blunt the persistent mendacity coming from the right.


    Oh, waiter!

    The fly in your soup, the pee in the pool, that dog-eared page in a book.

    Why does Andrew Sullivan continue to appear in thoughtful journals? He's recently been added to Salon's stable of writers, and as The Rittenhouse Review notes, has managed to get his anti-New York Times views into the New Republic. This latter item is particularly galling, since Sullivan is completely wrong about the Times' reporter - as Ted Barlow demonstrated.

    Why is the New Republic publishing this sort of material? Was Steven Glass unavailable?

    Andy has been called many things: unscrupulous, hypocritical, unpleasant, and rude.

    We'll just confine ourselves to saying that he's acting like Andew Sullivan.

    But he'll probably say that's getting really low.

    UPDATE/CORRECTION: According to Ted Barlow, Andrew Sullivan did not write TNR's Notebook entry. Uggabugga regrets the error.


    Friday, September 20, 2002

    Proposed resolution sent to Congress by the White House:

    We note the following items from the text:
    Whereas Congress in 1998 concluded that Iraq was then in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations and thereby threatened the vital interests of the United States and international peace and security...

    Whereas Iraq remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations ... thereby continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States and international peace and security;

    Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population, including the Kurdish peoples, thereby threatening international peace and security in the region...

    Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;


    Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the high risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, ...

    Whereas Iraq is in material breach of its disarmament and other obligations ... to cease repression of its civilian population that threatens international peace and security ... and to cease threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq ..."


    Now, therefore, be it...
    Is this the new standard? If nations attack other nations based on the threat they pose - and not in response to hostile activity (military or covert) - there will be plenty of wars in the future.


    Thursday, September 19, 2002

    Words from the (not too distant) past:

    THE 2ND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, October 11, 2000
    MR. LEHRER: ... 600,000 people died in Rwanda in 1994. There was no U.S. intervention. There was no intervention from outside world. Was that a mistake not to intervene?

    GOV. BUSH: I think the administration did the right thing in that case. I do.              ... that's a case where we need to -- you know, use our influence to have countries in Africa come together and help deal with the situation. The administration ... made the right decision on training Nigerian troops for situations just such as this, in Rwanda And -- and so I thought they made the right decision not to send U.S. troops into Rwanda


    Wednesday, September 18, 2002

    The president speaks!

    There has been some commentary following Bush's apparent failure to recall the familiar expression: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    This brings to mind the whole set of malapropisms by the President - commonly referred to as Bushisms. These Bushisms haven't been analyzed in any thorough manner, so we decided to take a look at the current set, and see if there was a pattern. There is. An apparent failure to translate thoughts into coherent speech, which manifests itself in several distinct ways: Using a noun, verb, or adjective which is opposite that of the President's intention. Errors of tense and number (especially singular vs. plural), and plenty of repetitions and tautologies. This is particularly notable when Bush is dealing with complex sentences (anything over and above a simple subject-verb-object). Bush's failure to communicate basic ideas is the result of sloppy thinking - or worse.

    If you are interested in how the Bushisms stack up, we invite you to take a look at the following table.

    Sometime later we shall present a detailed analysis of how Bush's thoughts get (mis)translated into error-laden speech. While plenty of folks chuckle at the Presidents verbal stumbling, we think that it's more serious. It appears that Bush's inability to handle complex thoughts may have led him over time to forsake rationalistic approaches, and instead, make decisions based on his feelings. This may explain why he disdains nuance (as he's said), and why he has simple solutions for everything. E.g.
  • Tax cuts always help.
  • Good people will make any controversial program (like drilling in ANWR) come out all right.
  • American military power is benevolent. (Again, Americans are "good people").
  • Evil is the reason for misfortunes.
  • ...and so on...


    Monday, September 16, 2002

    This may be our 15 minutes of fame:

    It looks as if the chart (below) exploring the possibilities following an invasion of Iraq is getting lots of attention (thanks MWO!). So we'd like to take a moment to thank webloggers who have given uggabugga some traffic and favorable reviews. First on the list is the esteemed Ted Barlow, followed closely by Eschaton, MaxSpeak, The Sideshow, The Rittenhouse Review, SullyWatch, Shadow of the Hegemon, and BusyBusyBusy. Also, we should mention, which is a fantastic resource for stories you're otherwise likely to miss.

    Thank you all.  (and it's not just thanks-for-the-links, these sites are excellent in and of themselves)

    NOTE: We currently don't have a blogroll, mainly because when this site was started, we picked an extremely simple template (but one that suits our "wide open" style; we love maps, tables, and diagrams). A blogroll may be added later.


    Sunday, September 15, 2002

    Somebody has come up with a solution to Florida's election problems:

    Check out this image.


    Saturday, September 14, 2002

    Exploring the possibilities:

  • Favorable/unfavorable outcomes from the point of view of U.S. political/economic interests.
  • Assume that Iraq will not beat back an Anglo-American assault.
  • Assume that once in Iraq, U.S. will be obligated to stay even if things get tough: failure of installed govt.; rebellion in north or south; major nation-building effort required (e.g. provide food, medicine, and housing).
  • Other events listed are those considered not impossible (revolt in Pakistan, India-Pakistan war, China leans on Taiwan), even if unlikely.
  • We have no idea what's likely to happen. The whole "regime change" effort by Bush could turn out to be a cakewalk. Or it could be a complete disaster. We thought the best thing to do was flesh out the possibilities, and see how it looked. Our general impression is that there are plenty of low-probability, but highly unfavorable events that could take place after Iraq is attacked. No matter what the military/political outcome, it will cost the United States a lot of money - and that could hurt its economy even in the best of circumstances. We have included the Rosy Scenario (Iraq collapses, its citizens hail the U.S., the Middle East is transformed, etc.) which has defenders. Hey, anything could happen - although we think there is no way the region can be transformed into a collection of post-Enlightenment secular states. On the other hand, there are some really nasty events that can only be prevented through skillful diplomacy and unwavering attention to details - if they can be prevented at all.

    Considering the present situation in the region, invading Iraq looks like a gamble - which history teaches us, is usually not a wise thing for a nation-state to do.


    Friday, September 13, 2002

    Her Royal Highness speaks to the little people

    First let me clarify what I
    meant by riffraff. Being a slimebag
    [makes you riffraff]. So who are these
    slimebags? Why don't I name them? Because
    I refuse to give the limpets more

    I will ... tell you what makes them slimebags. It's
    deliberate dissemination of outright lies, slanders, and
    defamations designed ... to strike at another person's
    standing in the community

    I would ... be interested to hear from the lawyers
    out there about what the rumblings are in the
    legal community regarding blog abuse and
    what can be, or perhaps is already
    being done about it.

    Norah dear: Perhaps you should contact Ann Coulter. She's a lawyer - familiar with lies, slanders, and defamations - and a conservative, just like you.

    Hey Kaus! Nora also said,
    "I am ... taking deep breaths to temper ongoing thoughts of hiring a hit man."


    Definitely not a Keynesian:

    Alan Greenspan thinks the Bush tax cuts are fine, and when the nation faces budget deficits he recommends cuts in federal spending or the economy will suffer (according to this New York Times story). It's part of Greenspan's shrink-the-government ideal, using incoming revenue to determine the size and scope of federal programs. Besides putting the cart before the horse (you should decide what you need to spend, and then seek revenues), it's decidedly non-Keynesian. But Keynes approach may be right for the current situation. Keynes and his theories got a bad rap in the 1970's when it appeared that inflation was an unavoidable result of government stimulative fiscal policy. Even some Keynesians bought that story, because the data points all seemed to fall on the Philips Curve.

    But that was then, this is now. The Philips Curve - at least in the last decade or so - has been inoperative. There are all sorts of reasons for that: increased global competition; better economic forecasting by businesses; dirt-cheap basic commodities; and smarter monetary policy. (All making inflation harder to get started.)

    So, faced with a stagnant or declining economy, is a return to Keynesianism in the cards? Not if Greenspan has anything to say about it. But if things get worse, a revival may take place.

    In the past, the slur hurled at Democrats was that they wanted to tax and spend. Tax and spend! Doesn't sound attractive to many ears, but that's because of emphasis. When nothing is going on in the economy, there might be a change in attitude, and we may start hearing a call to tax and spend.


    Thursday, September 12, 2002

    Straighten up and fly right!

    Here is Nick Nolte's booking photo (following arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence).

    Hey Nick! Why didn't you bother to comb your hair?

    We're not sure if he was driving drunk (or worse), but he certainly deserves to be thrown in the pokey for wearing that Hawaiian shirt - after Labor Day.


    Bill Clinton with David Letterman:

    Former president Bill Clinton was the guest on David Letterman's Late Show (Wednesday). He was asked a number of things, including what his thoughts were when he first heard the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. Clinton said that his immediate reaction was that it was Bin Laden's work. He then went on to say that in his mind there were only two entities likely to carry out such an operation: al Qaeda or Iran.
    Clinton ruled out Iran because it was a state that could be counter-attacked, has vulnerabilities, etc. But it's notable that he didn't say Iraq.


    How much respect?

    The President gives a speech on Ellis Island. Among other things, he says:
    America strives to be tolerant and just. We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith.
    Really? Polygyny is a significant element within Islam. When put to the test, does this country respect polygyny? (Ask the Mormons)

    While looking up references to Islam/polygyny, we found the following item at the Saudi-supported Religion of Islam website:
    The present Western society, which permits free sex between consenting adults, has given rise to an abundance of irresponsible sexual relationships, an abundance of “fatherless” children, many unmarried teenage mothers; all becoming a burden on the country's welfare system. In part, such an undesirable welfare burden has given rise to a bloated budget deficit which even an economically powerful country like the United States cannot accommodate. Bloated budget deficit has become a political football which is affecting the political system of the United States.

    In short, we find that artificially established monogamy has become a factor in ruining the family structure, and the social, economic and political systems of the country.
    Conservatives like programs that reduce the number of fatherless children, reduce the number of unmarried teenage mothers, and lower welfare rolls (are you listening Kaus?). So, should polygyny be part of a Faith Based Program, supported by Bush?


    He said what?

    Yesterday, during ABC's coverage of Bush's visit to Ground Zero in New York, an off-screen commentator - reporter Terry Moran - said*:
    The president has a child's patriotism. An interest in flags, ritual, anthems, and an uncomplicated support of country. And I mean that in a positive sense....
    * quoting from memory, but we're absolutely sure that the first sentence (The president ... patriotism.) is verbatim.


    Wednesday, September 11, 2002

    A most trivial observation:

    For as long as we can remember, Matt Drudge had a link to the Washington Post's Richard Cohen. However, as of four days ago, the link is gone - yet those for several other liberal columnists remain (e.g. Molly Ivins, Anna Quindlen, Michael Kinsley - okay, it's a short list).

    We can't help but wonder if Drudge pulled Cohen as a favor for Ann Coulter (who has a link there) - because of Cohen's scathing Aug 15 essay* about her and her book.

    * that link is inoperative at the time of this posting.




    Speaking of anniversaries:

    In a few weeks it will be November 1, which marks the 50th anniversary of the first hydrogen bomb explosion (code name "Mike" on the Pacific island of Eniwetok).

    And despite the concerns back then about (mis)use of the weapon, the human race has managed to step back from the brink of nuclear annihilation. That's something to keep in mind when you hear assertions that Saddam Hussein - or others - are likely to use nukes.


    Tuesday, September 10, 2002

    Governor Jeb Bush's "private family matter":

    By now, everybody has heard that his daughter, Noelle, has been caught with crack cocaine.
    STORY: Gov. Jeb Bush's 25-year-old daughter was found with what was believed to be crack cocaine at a rehabilitation center, police said Tuesday. If confirmed, it would be her second lapse since entering court-ordered drug treatment.
    With that in mind, we recommend people visit this site, where the governor's position on drugs is detailed. We couldn't help but notice this item:
    Mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses

    A minimum of three years will be mandated for any person convicted of possession, sale, importation, etc., of at least 25 pounds of cannabis, 4 grams of flunitrazepam, morphine, opium or heroin, 14 grams of amphetamine, 28 grams of cocaine and phencyclidine, or 200 grams of methaqualone.
    Initial reports are that the "small white rock substance" which tested positive for cocaine, amounted to 2 grams. That, plus the fact that her DNA closely matches that of Florida's chief executive, should result in a mild penalty - if there is one at all.

    At the website noted above (Jeb Bush's position on drugs) there is this line near the bottom:
    Agree? Disagree? Voice your opinions on Drugs or about Jeb Bush in The Forum.
    Well, guess what? If you click on either link, you get this:
    The Forums area has been shut down.
    ANOTHER UPDATE: How much is that rock cocaine in the window?
    The CNN story (above) said it was 2.0 grams. But a subsequent AP story (via Salon) has it at 0.2 grams. Did it shrink?


    Worth a visit:

    The Art of War and Peace. In particular, the WWI propaganda posters, which might even be updated by the Bush administration, e.g.:



    Ted Rall's toughest cartoon yet.

    Is he the George Grosz for our time? (see Fit for Duty)


    Monochrome days:

    The Homeland Security Advisory System has been in effect since March 2002. It started out with an Threat Condition (for "a significant risk of terrorist attacks"), and has remained at that point ever since.

    But in the news today, we read that:
  • The FBI is warning local police and the U.S. utility, banking and transportation industries of a steady stream of threats mentioning New York, Washington and the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • Last week, the FBI posted a bulletin on a Web site and sent a message over a private law enforcement bulletin system advising a state of alert on Sept. 11.
  • U.S. military bases went on alert Monday.
  • A cable was sent to all diplomatic posts advising them to maintain a higher state of alert Wednesday.
  • So why hasn't the Threat Condition - for at least one week - been raised to High? (orange).

    There might be a last-minute change, but as of Tuesday, Sept 10, 10am ET, the condition is still Elevated according to the White House DoHS website.

    We couldn't believe it, but within a few hours of this post, the White House announced a change in the Threat Condition to
    Which means one of two things:
  • They are finally taking the warning system seriously, or ...
  • Ari Fleischer reads Uggabugga


    Monday, September 09, 2002



    Where are the young ones?

    On Sunday, there was an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times that discussed the problems with Republican Bill Simon's California gubernatorial campaign. In particular, the influence of the Rev. Lou Sheldon, a conservative evangelist, was noted. We've followed the reverend in the news for quite some time, and it dawned on us that he's getting on in years. In fact, isn't that the case for all the Big Men in the religious/political realm? We decided to do a little research, and here is what we've found:
    who organization born age today reference
    Rev. Sung Myung Moon Unification Church 1920 80 link
    Rev. Pat Robertson Christian Coalition March 22, 1930 72 link
    Rev. D. James Kennedy Center for Reclaiming America Nov. 3, 1930 71 link
    Rev. Jerry Falwell Moral Majority (closed 1989) August 11, 1933 69 link
    Rev. Lou Sheldon Traditional Values Coalition 1934 68 link
    Dr. James Dobson Focus on the Family mysteriously impossible to find out est 60+ link
    Gary Bauer * Family Research Council May 4, 1946 56 link
    Robert W. Peters * Morality in Media 1949 53 link
    Ralph Reed, Jr. * Christian Coalition ('89-'97) 1961 41 link

    * operative only, not a reverend or preacher

    Is this a sign that the movements are fading as a political force? Most of these guys were active fifteen to twenty years ago when they were in their early-40's to mid-50's. So where are the equivalents today? The closest thing seems to be politicians (like the president) who are more explicitly religious - but that's a pale copy of the real thing.


    Friday, September 06, 2002

    Paul Krugman passes along the notion (picked up from ABC's weblog The Note) that
    The Bush team has always had a credibility problem with some reporters because of their insistence on saying 'up is down' and 'black is white.'

    and he adds

    Once an administration believes that it can get away with insisting that black is white and up is down — and everything in this administration's history suggests that it believes just that — it's hard to see where the process stops.
    Which reminds us of a great Ruben Bolling cartoon on the same theme (but a different topic). Check it out!



    Thursday, September 05, 2002






    A report from the University of Minnesota is issued on September 4. It surveyed teen sexual activity and parental attitudes and knowledge of same. Nothing special. It's put on the wire by AP and Reuters, and then picked up by:
  • The San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Washington Post
  • The New York Times
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The Chicago Tribune
  • Just to name a few.

    The story may be banal. Perhaps even jejune. So what does the Mickster do? He decides to take a jab at the The New York Times (for the Nth time) by implying that its story is hard to distinguish from a typically arch entry in The Onion. Kaus headlines with:
    New York Times ... or The Onion? You, the Reader, Make the Call!
    Kaus has truly reached the bottom of the barrel.

    Normally, this sort of stunt by Kaus might generate a smile, but in light of his recent, continuous, Times-bashing, it's simply not funny. Rather sad, in fact.

    NOTE TO KAUS: It's The New York Times.

    UPDATE: We couldn't believe it, but Kaus did it again: yet another poke at the New York Times (Friday morning, Sep 6). In order to accurately calibrate the Kaus-NYT obsession, we decided to examine what's currently on (or its Slate doppelganger). Here, as a part of our new Kaus-Skipper Service, we present an outline of his most recent entries.

    Sept 6
    • The New York Times' Adam Nagourney: Make up your mind!
    Sept 5
    • The New York Times or The Onion?
    • Massachusetts gubernatorial primary
    • Sullivan, Gulity Southern White Boys, The New York Times' Howell Raines, et al.
    Sept 4
    • New York gubernatorial primary
    • Talent leaving The American Prospect
    • The New York Times admits error on Kissinger
    Sept 3
    • New York gubernatorial primary
    • The New York Times "reforming" in the eyes of Kaus and Sullivan (Kissinger related)
    Sept 2
    • Massachusetts gubernatorial primary
    • The term "homeland", plus small swipe at The New York Times
    • Social Security Disability report in The New York Times that he likes - and Kaus' claim that it was run (on page 1) because the regular editors are on vacation.
    Sept 1
    • Dick Armey gets "strange new respect" in The New York Times Magazine (actually he didn't)
    August 31
    • The term "homeland", with some carping about The New York Times
    • Welfare caseloads and homless rates and the differences between stories published on January 17 and August 31 by The New York Times
    • Musical group, The Capricorns
    August 28
    • Complaint about Krugman's recent column in The New York Times
    • A Media Whores trifle

    In the set above, 11 out of 18 entries are critical of The New York Times or contain a smart-alecky remark about an NYT editor or writer. That's 61%, and notable because it's the only newspaper he comments upon (although there are links to stories in The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today). What a boor.


    Secret plan leaked to Uggabugga Central:

    Richard Perle was in a Starbucks yesterday and left in haste, accidentally leaving behind a computer disk. It contained PowerPoint slides used in a presentation for George Bush and other senior advisors. Most of the material is not new, but readers will be interested in seeing the long-term objective of the Bush administration, known by insiders as the Perle Plan. Here it is:

    TOP SECRET: Do not let Sec. Powell see this!


    Travels with George:

    In a report in the New York Times on Bush's plans to strike first, we read:
    Mr. Bush's aides are clearly aware of the risks ahead on the road he headed down today.

    The first challenge is to resolve the differences in the administration, ...

    The second is to persuade Congress to vote for a resolution that gives the president as free a hand as possible — and not necessarily just with Iraq. ...

    The third challenge is to win over traditional allies who have expressed grave reservations.
    Everybody ready?


    Tuesday, September 03, 2002

    Sullivan on the New York Times, in the Sunday Times of London:

    What a waste! 2095 words. 1 goal: Destroy the Times!

    Some excerpts:
  • In the last month, critic after critic has piled on. The newspaper has become, in George Will's words, "the incredibly shrinking Times, reinventing itself along the lines of a factional broadsheet of the 1790s." Another conservative, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, told the Washington Post, "The question of the New York Times is now in play. The degree to which they seem in their news columns to be leading the charge against the war has struck everyone, including people like me, who are not big complainers about the news media."
  • It was slowly becoming clear that Raines was intoxicated with the power of his position ...
  • Sometimes, this even meant straightforward lies.
  • ... there is also a creepy, paranoid hatred of the current president that is difficult to miss among the chief columnists at the paper.
  • The real opponents of the war in America are therefore outside the elected political branch, and are really three-fold: the New York Times, the men who left Saddam Hussein in power in 1990 and who are thus partly responsible for the current crisis (Scowcroft, Powell), and gun-shy military brass, who also opposed the first Gulf War.


    Monday, September 02, 2002

    Kaus on healthcare:

    The Mickster writes:
    [The New York Times] piece is also a warning to Tipper Gore types about the potential costs of mental health "parity," since many of the new disability claims involve vague hard-to-disprove claims of stress and depression. (emphasis ours)
    Why isn't it hard-to-prove claims?

    Anybody who has dealt with mental health disability - or knows someone who has - is aware that the burden of proof is on the claimant. Yet Kaus writes it up as if benefits are automatically granted, and the agency providing them has to ferret out the scoundrels. But then, that's Kaus' outlook: If a person needs help, suspect the worst.

    Bravo, Kaus!

    NOTE: There has been considerable debate about Kaus. Is he or isn't he (quirky liberal, conservative, Mugwump, biped)?

    After witnessing his continuous nipping at the New York Times, his silence about Coulter, and his celebration of lower welfare rolls (while homelessness rises - Hooray!), there can be no doubt. The man is a conservative. End of story.


    New cathedral for Los Angeles opens today.

    How much does it cost for a long-term stay?

    Cardinal Roger Mahony has the figures. Listen to it here. (150k wav file) (NOTE: .wav file currently unavailable due to hosting limitations, should be back by late September.)

    At uggabugga, we don't particularly care one way or another about the cathedral. Some have protested the cost - about $200 million - but that was money donated specifically for the cathedral and was unlikely to be raised for community support programs. However, the Cardinal irritated us with something he did several years ago.

    BACKGROUND: There used to be two Gutenberg bibles in Southern California: One at the Huntington Library; the other in the Doheny Collection.

    The Doheny Gutenberg was owned by Estelle Doheny. Upon her death in 1958 it passed into the hands of the Catholic church, and was kept at the Lawrence Doheny Memorial Library at St. Joseph's Seminary in Camarillo, California. There it stayed for nearly 30 years. But in 1987, under the direction of Mahony, the church decided to sell some of the Doheny Collection - including the Gutenberg Bible. It sold for $5.5 million dollars, and now resides at the Keio University Library, Tokyo.

    But get this, the ostensible reason for selling the book, according to the Cardinal, was to purchase a helicopter in order to help recruit men for the priesthood!    (Alas, we cannot provide a link for this item. But it's what we distinctly remember from reading the papers back then.)

    Good grief.   For a helicopter? (We know money is fungible, but that's what the Cardinal said at the time: to get a helicopter.)

    Well, there's still one Gutenberg left in Southern California, but consider this scenario: The British in 1900 sell the Magna Carta to purchase a Stanley Steamer in order to help the Navy's recruitment effort. How would future generations feel about that?

    Note to readers: This selling of the Gutenberg has been a burr in our saddle for years. Finally, with weblogging, plus the cathedral and Mahony in the news, we can get it off our chest.


    Sunday, September 01, 2002

    Commenting about the Saudi ambassador to the United States:
    The Saudi envoy is "a very seasoned diplomat," Ari Fleischer gushed, "a very affable fellow, very good humor, speaks English better than most Americans."
    Which Americans are you talking about Ari? Do a good proportion of them live in the red states?


    No wonder Bin Laden hates the United States:

    We got (or rather had) teams like this:

    The Crusaders were a World Hockey Association team that existed from 1972-6