Thursday, September 29, 2005

Brian Nichols would have killed me

Back in April, Ann Coulter said there was a reason the murderer Brian Nichols hadn't killed Ashley Smith (the woman whose apartment he broke into), an escape hatch that wouldn't have been available to liberals like myself: The Lord.
At 2 a.m. one Saturday night, Ashley Smith went out for cigarettes while unpacking her new apartment, yet another victory for tobacco pleasure. Returning from the store, Smith was grabbed by a man at her front door, who put a gun in her side and told her not to scream. He asked if she knew who he was. When he removed his baseball cap, she saw it was Nichols, the dangerous fugitive all over television who had escaped custody during his rape trial and had killed four people in the previous 48 hours. (Although he also looked a lot like of one the guys on "American Idol.")

In Smith's apartment, Nichols bound Smith's feet and hands and put her in the bathtub. Later, at Smith's request, Nichols allowed her to hop from the bathroom into the bedroom, where she began talking to him.

In short order, Smith was reading aloud to Nichols from the Christian book "The Purpose Driven Life" – in direct violation of his constitutional right to never hear any reference to God, in public or private, for any purpose, ever, ever, ever! For more on this right, go to the "People for the American Way" website...

This trampling of our Constitution – I mean this conversation – lasted long into the night. They watched Nichols' shooting people on television. Nichols said he couldn't believe he was that man. In the morning, Smith made Nichols eggs and pancakes for breakfast. Then she walked out of the apartment to pick up her daughter and to call 911. The last thing Nichols said as Smith was leaving was to say hello to her daughter for him. When the police arrived, Nichols surrendered without incident, an utterly transformed human being.

Heaven help the average liberal if this ever happens to him! What would an urban secularist do? Come sit down and let me read to you from Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men." Or maybe he could put a SpongeBob video in the VCR. WE ARE FAM-I-LEEEEE! At least before he killed again, the dangerous fugitive would have warm feelings toward homosexuals...
As much as I hate to admit it, Ann's right. Smith did have a way out that wasn't available to me, but it wasn't Jesus. He's got a place in my house. My problem would have been that I don't keep crystal meth lying around.
Ashley Smith, the woman who says she persuaded suspected courthouse gunman Brian Nichols to release her by talking about her faith, discloses in a new book that she gave him methamphetamine during the hostage ordeal.

Smith did not share that detail with authorities at the time. But investigators said she came clean about the drugs when they interviewed her months later. They said they have no plans to charge her with drug possession.

In her book, "Unlikely Angel," released Tuesday, Smith says Nichols had her bound on her bed with masking tape and an extension cord. She says he asked for marijuana, but she did not have any, and she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead. (Link via Roger Ailes.)
You have to give props to Smith for coming clean about this, especially when it makes people like Ann Coulter look stupid.

The article goes on, though, and has a happy ending.
Smith, a 27-year-old widowed mother who gained widespread praise for her level-headedness, says the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict, and she says she has not used drugs since the night before she was taken captive.
You see what a great book The Purpose-Driven Life is? Why, with only that book and a seven-hour hostage ordeal it could get us all on the right path. Kudos to you too, Rick Warren. Keep flogging that book, Reverend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I hadn't remembered this.

The first two paragraphs of Richard Clarke's new essay in the November Atlantic Monthly, "Things Left Undone":
Imagine if, in advance of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of trucks had been waiting with water and ice and medicine and other supplies. Imagine if 4,000 National Guardsmen and an equal number of emergency aid workers from around the country had been moved into place, and five million meals had been ready to serve. Imagine if scores of mobile satellite-communications stations had been prepared to move in instantly, ensuring that rescuers could talk to one another. Imagine if all this had been managed by a federal-and-state task force that not only directed the government response but also helped coordinate the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other outside groups.

Actually, this requires no imagination: it is exactly what the Bush administration did a year ago when Florida braced for Hurricane Frances. Of course the circumstances then were very special: it was two months before the presidential election, and Florida's twenty-seven electoral votes were hanging in the balance. It is hardly surprising that Washington ensured the success of "the largest response to a natural disaster we've ever had in this country." The president himself passed out water bottles to Floridians driven from their homes.
Again, damn.

Goodbye, DeLay

Headline over at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas grand jury, according to Travis County clerk's office.

Whether he goes to jail or not, he's fucking gone as Majority Leader.

Update: The story's up now.
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay's attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates...

As a sign of loyalty to DeLay after the grand jury returned indictments against three of his associates, House Republicans last November repealed a rule requiring any of their leaders to step aside if indicted. The rule was reinstituted in January after lawmakers returned to Washington from the holidays fearing the repeal might create a backlash from voters.

DeLay, 58, also is the center of an ethics swirl in Washington. The 11-term congressman was admonished last year by the House ethics committee on three separate issues and is the center of a political storm this year over lobbyists paying his and other lawmakers' tabs for expensive travel abroad.
So there's still stuff he can be nailed on later. May the most efficient prosecutor win!

New blog

Jo Fish has invited me to post over at Main and Central, a new group blog of his fellow veterans. You'll see me there from time to time.

An American hero

CPT Ian Fishback -- West Point graduate, soldier in the 82nd Airborne, honorable man:
My approach for clarification provides clear evidence that confusion over standards was a major contributor to the prisoner abuse. We owe our soldiers better than this. Give them a clear standard that is in accordance with the bedrock principles of our nation.

Some do not see the need for this work. Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable.

Equal Opportunity Terror

So, you say you want to "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here" and that you disagree that the war in Iraq isn't creating more terrorists despite all evidence to the contrary.

What then, can we say about this?
BAGHDAD, Iraq Sep 28, 2005 — A woman strapped with explosives blew herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center in a northern town Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding 30 in the first known attack by a female suicide bomber in the country's bloody insurgency.
I got an e-mail a while back that defended racial profiling by pointing out the bombings and attacks that had been carried out by Muslim men. It was basically a list of ridiculous "multiple choice" questions, with the "right answer" always being "Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 35."

Brit Hume and one of his idiot guests actually seemed to be using the trashy e-mail as a script when they talked last month.
STATE ASSEMBLYMAN DOV HIKIND (D), NEW YORK: There were 19 individuals involved in destroying the World Trade Center. There are 15 people on the most wanted list by the FBI in the War on Terrorism.

Those involved in Madrid, those involved July 7 in London, and those who attempted to kill the people of London on July 21, if you look at the entire group, it is so obvious that this group, they have certain things in common. They are young, they are Muslim, they are of Middle Eastern or South Asian background.

HUME: They’re men.

HIKIND: They’re men. They’re young men. To simply avoid this fact in trying to fight the War on Terrorism and trying to avoid another catastrophe is nuts. It doesn’t make sense.
And yet, Iraq seems to be destroying our ability to assume. It is creating a training ground for professional terrorists and, even worse, it's creating an environment of hatred against our nation that broadens the category of those who wish us harm.

Robert Taber wrote about the mindset we're creating in The War of the Flea. (It was written in 1965, but an updated version remains on many military reading lists and with good reason -- we still haven't learned how to fight these wars.)
Country people whose only contact with the government comes in the form of napalm and rocket attacks can scarcely be expected to feel sympathetic to the government cause, whatever it may be. On the other hand, they have every reason to feel solidarity with the guerrillas, usually recruited from their villages, who share their peril and their hardships.
Today's bombing is just another sign that the Bush administration does not understand history. We will see more women bombers and, if the war goes on long enough, we'll see children strapped with explosives. As much as the Bushies hate to comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam -- even as they channel LBJ -- they're creating not just a Vietnam-like war, but a culturally-based army which, like the Viet Cong, will not be defeated by the "infliction of grievous casualties, or the heavy punishment of air bombardment." Unlike the Viet Cong, the army Bush is creating is, I fear, exportable.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Power Line pin-up girl Lynndie England convicted.
Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.
I know she was young and I know there's any number of Bush administration bigwigs who should (but won't) be sharing a cell with her, but this girl and her pals make me sick.


In light of this article, Nitpicker has now changed its subtitle.

If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.

-Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

An update

After two days of scrambling to get our National Guard unit ready to go to Texas, we were told that we were no longer needed, so I won't be heading down.

Thanks for the e-mails of support.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Operation Cover Bush's Ass

So, I seem to remember a whole bunch of conservative columnists saying that it wasn't the federal government's job to be first responders in the event of a hurricane. The locals were supposed to take care of themselves. "That's how FEMA works," Michelle Malkin wrote, "bottom up, not top down."

I won't reargue the fact that DHS has, as it says, "primary responsibility" for these sorts of events. I ask (foolishly, I know) for a little bit of consistent logic. Where are those conservatives today? Why aren't they telling Bush today that he's misusing the federal government by sending tens of thousands of troops to help out in Rita; sending FEMA people down there to help coordinate; and by hunkering down himself in the NorthCom command center?

Well? I'm waiting...

(Of course I just got a call yesterday evening from my unit commander, so, as of tomorrow, I'll be waiting down in Texas somewhere, proudly serving in Operation C.B.A.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mark Kirk comes clean

For those of you who don't remember, just before the end of election in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, Paul Hackett's opponent, Jean Schmidt, issued a press release calling Hackett a liar for claiming he'd be the only Iraqi Freedom veteran in the House. Nitpicker pointed out that though Mark Kirk was claiming on his website to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom," he did not meet the military's requirements to be considered an OIF veteran. His election website was more honest, though, saying he was the only member of congress to "serve stateside during" OIF.

I called his office numerous times and got no response. We called the Navy's Office of Information, which told us what we already knew, "Someone would have had to serve in Iraq to have served in Iraqi Freedom."

Sometime since we pointed this out, Kirk tacitly admitted that Nitpicker was correct. His House website now matches his election site.

Click the picture above for a screenshot of the new version. Here's a screenshot of the old version.

I appreciate Mark Kirk's service. I also appreciate him making the correction, but I feel that he did it in a very sneaky, dishonest way. I still think he should have apologized.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Is Bush drinking again as some say? Who knows? But he certainly seems a little out of it lately. From the White House web site.
As you might remember, we had equipment that was -- had to come across the land to fight through the storm to get there. This time we're going to be able to bring some assets around behind it, which I -- will help get people -- get some rescue missions there as quickly as possible.

But I think the biggest difference is people are aware of the danger of these storms, and people are responding at all levels of government.

Q Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a minute, please. Toby. I'll get you in a minute. You seem anxious to ask a question.

Q I am, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, just take your time.
From the pool report (via Wonkette)
Bush et al remained grim-faced when CNN producer Paul Courson shouted out: "Mr. President!" at the conclusion of Bush's remarks. "I'll get you in a minute. You seem anxious to ask a question," Bush said. They were even less amused when Courson chimed in at a lull: "I'll follow up ..." Cheney broke his "at ease" stance and shot a glance toward the White House staffers that was, wisely, not returned.

But all were amused when the president searched for Bianca -- Bianca Davie of Bloomberg News. "Bianca. Nobody named Bianca? Well, sorry Bianca's not here. I'll be glad to answer her question." Cheney was re-amused when Bush said: "Just trying to spread around the joy of asking a question."

Most smiled again when Bush said to a Fox producer: "Are you Bianca?" "No, I'm not. Anita -- Fox News."... "Okay. I was looking for Bianca. I'm sorry."
Good Lord.

Then again, he's always been a little bit, um, off when it comes to reporters' names. If only these reporters would just go in the order that they are assigned by the press secretary like good boys and girls.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The question is on drug certification and really about our relations with President (of Mexico Vicente) Fox. I trust your President. He's the kind of man you can look in the eye and know he's shooting straight with you. I appreciate the fact that he was a one-time governor. I've got kind of partiality to governors...

Jim -- Steve, sorry. You are? (Laughter.) We've got you out of order -- I know you're Steve. Stefan, hombre muy bueno.
First, Esteban is Spanish for Steven and; second, what the hell does "Steve, man very good" mean?

You see, the problem isn't (I don't think) his drinking habits, but that he likes it when "spontaneous" press conferences go exactly as planned. Remember when he warned Saddam?
The Bush press conference to me was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism, a final announcement that the press no longer performs anything akin to a real function. Particularly revolting was the spectacle of the cream of the national press corps submitting politely to the indignity of obviously pre-approved questions, with Bush not even bothering to conceal that the affair was scripted.

Abandoning the time-honored pretense of spontaneity, Bush chose the order of questioners not by scanning the room and picking out raised hands, but by looking down and reading from a predetermined list. Reporters, nonetheless, raised their hands in between questions–as though hoping to suddenly catch the president’s attention.

In other words, not only were reporters going out of their way to make sure their softballs were pre-approved, but they even went so far as to act on Bush’s behalf, raising their hands and jockeying in their seats in order to better give the appearance of a spontaneous news conference.

Even Bush couldn’t ignore the absurdity of it all. In a remarkable exchange that somehow managed to avoid being commented upon in news accounts the next day, Bush chided CNN political correspondent John King when the latter overacted his part, too enthusiastically waving his hand when it apparently was, according to the script, his turn anyway.

KING: "Mr. President."

BUSH: "We’ll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted..."

A ripple of nervous laughter shot through the East Room.
And it's gotten no better since then. Hey press, you might as well all change your names to Toby since Bush fucking owns you.

Nong Toom kicks Dobson around

Here's the deal: James Dobson had a post up on his site for a while that showed parents how to keep your child from becoming a homosexual "before it's too late." One tip was for dads to roughhouse with their boys and be concerned if other boys "tease them unmercifully and call them 'queer,' 'fag' and 'gay'" because that's not a sign of the bullies' bad parenting but yours.

After being up on the web for a while getting "teased unmercifully" -- by, well, queers, among others -- Dobson's Focus on the Family website decided it didn't like the roughhousing of the internet and pulled the page.

This is all old news, really, but necessary to understand how Dobson's failure as a child psychologist is proven once again by the movie Beautiful Boxer, coming to a theater you soon. It's the true story of Nong Toom, a thai kickboxer who, well, let's let Charles Taylor tell the story.
In the opening shot of Beautiful Boxer—which shows oil being massaged into a fighter's torso as he prepares for a match—the first-time director Ekachai Uekrongtham brings out what sports movies nearly always try to hide: the sexual appeal of the bodies they offer up as the objects of heroic admiration. We're watching an image of power and machismo—a fighter's sculpted chest—in a position traditionally associated with the female: recumbent, passive, an object for adoration. Nong Toom disliked the violence of Muay Thai (though he was so good at it, he managed to defeat most of his opponents with one swift kick) and fought mostly to earn money to support his parents. His trainer Pi Chart (pronounced pee-sha and played by Sorapong Chatree) sees a chance to make Toom stand out as a fighter by encouraging him to wear make-up in the ring. The press treats him as if he's the Thai Gorgeous George. They think it's a publicity stunt but don't know that Toom's transvestitism is a panacea, and an increasingly inadequate one, for his real desire to be a woman.
The skill of Nong Toom puts the lie to the antiquated idea that sexuality is necessarily tied to stereotypically masculine or feminine pursuits. Of course, thinking people figured out it was bullshit long ago. Sure, I still may make jokes implying the casts of Broadway shows and the duffers of the LPGA are 95% gay, but I don't think using that mindset to guide my parentng is a very good idea. Nor would it be in any way connected to reality. After all, if wanting to do "manly" things means that you're not gay then why do Republicans have to keep kicking all of these damn queers out of the military?

For Ben's sake...

I hope there's a nice, cushy position waiting for the Virgin Ben at the Heritage Foundation, because there's no way the little bastard could make it as a litigator, not when he confuses a victimless crime with a one-victim crime.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Today we read this in the New York Times (link via Tapped):
When people refer to battlegrounds in presidential races, they are usually not thinking of airport runways. But those people probably have not heard of Runway 4/22 at the airport in Las Cruces, N.M.

The runway, the airport's longest, has been closed since President Bush made a campaign stop in August 2004. It has gouges six inches deep and a hundred yards long, which the city says were put there by two Air Force cargo planes accompanying the president. Las Cruces put the damage at $2.1 million.

The city said airport officials warned the Air Force that the planes, a giant C-17 and a military version of the 757, were too heavy, and that the hot asphalt would be too soft for landing that day.

When Bill Clinton paid a presidential visit, he landed at Holloman Air Force Base nearby, said Terence J. Kelly, a spokesman for Las Cruces. When Senator John Kerry and former Senator John Edwards, the Democratic candidates for president and vice president, visited, "they landed elsewhere," Mr. Kelly said.

After a year of discussions, the Air Force has offered $600,000 for repairs.
First of all, why the fuck is the Air Force paying for anything? Get some Pioneers to fork over the damn money.

Second, who wants to bet this will be the last time we here about this? Must I remind...

The Associated Press, May 19, 1993:
President Clinton followed in his wife's footsteps and got a haircut, but instead of going to a fashionable New York salon, he had his trimmed aboard Air Force One.

Clinton arrived home about 90 minutes late early today from a two-day trip to New Mexico and California, partly because of time spent getting a haircut during about 45 minutes aboard Air Force One sitting on an airport tarmac in Los Angeles.
The Washington Post, May 20, 1993:
Nothing would ever be the same again, from world politics to little boys' wondering why the barber has to pump that handle so hard on the side of the barber chair when office chairs and loungers move up and down with a tiny lever.

Given the news of the president's haircut, as reported in today's Reliable Source (Page D3), Americans are going to be asking a lot of questions, wondering whether we've seen yet another glum augury of the next four years.

What kind of man goes to a barber who charges $ 200 for a haircut?

What kind of man gets his hair cut by a guy named Cristophe?

What kind of man holds up the takeoff of Air Force One for 45 minutes so he can get his hair by a guy named Cristophe who also happens to be his wife's hairdresser?
CNN, May 20, 1993:
SUSAN ROOK, Anchor: Well, a presidential haircut apparently waits for nothing, not even air traffic. Air Force One became a barbershop as President Clinton was coiffed in Los Angeles Tuesday. While his plane was grounded, the haircut left others up in the air. CNN's Jill Dougherty has more.

JILL DOUGHERTY, Correspondent: Here is before, here is after. Not a big difference, but it's turning into a big deal. Tuesday, on the West Coast, the president was trying hard, as he says, 'to look like America.' Before heading home, though, he did what most Americans can't - he kept his 747 on the runway for nearly an hour while Hollywood hairdresser Monsieur Cristophe - going rate $ 200 - gave him a presidential trim. Two of Los Angeles International Airport's four runways were shut down, and two commuter flights were delayed up to 25 minutes, while Air Force One was transformed into what a Washington Post wag dubbed, 'Hair Force One.' Back at the White House, it was a bad hair day.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, White House Communications Director: I mean, the president has to get his hair cut. Everybody has to get their hair cut. I mean, if he would have stayed back-

DOUGHERTY: Republicans weren't laughing.

Rep. DAN BURTON (R-IN): That's Bill Clinton. He's really concerned about the middle class. He spent thousands of your tax dollars waiting to get a haircut for 200 bucks from Hillary's hairdresser. He ought to be more concerned about trimming the deficit than his own hair.
The haircut was discussed on five separate CNN programs that day.

Associated Press, May 20, 1993:
President Clinton's haircut aboard Air Force One delayed a couple of inbound flights at Los Angeles International Airport and shoved Beverly Hills hairdresser Cristophe into the limelight.

Cristophe spent about 45 minutes cutting Clinton's hair Tuesday, while the plane sat on a tarmac in Los Angeles...

"It was not a problem at all. These kinds of things cause virtually no interruption in operations," Reesman said. "We get VIPs here all the time."
World News Tonight, May 20, 1993:
PETER JENNINGS: Finally, as we said, we're going to return to the White House for a report on the haircut. Here's ABC's Brit Hume.

BRIT HUME: No doubt about it, on his western trip this week Mr. Clinton certainly seemed in need of a haircut. Indeed, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, before doing some TV interviews Mr. Clinton had a local barber come to the airport and trim his sideburns and neck. But the really major job had to wait until the next day when, after a busy afternoon in Los Angeles, the President boarded Air Force One to leave. He was met on board by this man - Cristophe of Beverly Hills, proprietor of a stylish hair salon. He attended to Mr. Clinton's hair while Air Force One sat on the ground for nearly an extra hour, tying up runway space and delaying other flights. As the President arrived home later, it was clear Cristophe had done his job. But there were questions today about whether the busy Los Angeles runway was the right place to do it.
Washington Post,May 21, 1993:
President Clinton, whose campaign seized with a vengeance on every sign of George Bush's distance from the lives of real people, found the tables turned yesterday. The White House staunchly defended high-rolling presidential hair care.

"The president has to get his hair cut, everybody has to get his hair cut," an exasperated White House communications director George Stephanopoulos said. He was explaining why Clinton kept Air Force One on the ground in Los Angeles for an hour Tuesday night while his hair was cut and commercial planes may have been delayed. And then why Clinton kept the plane on the ground in New Mexico for 40 minutes the day before while the presidential sideburns were trimmed.
May 21st:
  1. Air Force One Haircut Has Politicians in Snippy Mood, The Associated Press, May 21, 1993, Friday, PM cycle, Domestic News, 334 words, By JAMES ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer, LOS ANGELES
  2. CLINTON TAKES A LITTLE OFF HIS CLEANCUT IMAGE, The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), May 21, 1993 Friday,, ALL EDITIONS, NEWS,, Pg. A01, 486 words, Steve Goldstein; Knight-Ridder, WASHINGTON
  3. Presidential style; Air traffic waits for Beverly Hills haircut, The Boston Globe, May 21, 1993, Friday, City Edition, NATIONAL/FOREIGN; Pg. 1, 688 words, By Michael Putzel, Globe Staff, WASHINGTON
  4. Clinton's Runway Trim A Public Relations Nightmare, CNN, Inside Politics, May 21, 1993, Transcript # 337 - 4, Show, News; Domestic, 1738 words, BERNARD SHAW
  5. Hairy time for Clinton over taxes rebellion, Evening Standard (London), May 21, 1993, Friday, Pg. 22, 760 words, Jeremy Campbell
  7. >"Putting stylist first' gets Clinton clipped; Snips at hair care have staffers abuzz, The Houston Chronicle, May 21, 1993, Friday, 2 STAR Edition, A; Pg. 4, 653 words, ANN DEVROY; Washington Post, WASHINGTON
  8. COMMUTER HEADACHE, Journal of Commerce, May 21, 1993, Friday, EDITORIAL PAGES, Pg. 6A, 148 words
  10. Haircut Grounded Clinton While the Price Took Off, The New York Times, May 21, 1993, Friday, Late Edition - Final Correction Appended, Section A; Page 10; Column 4; National Desk, 342 words, By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Special to The New York Times, WASHINGTON, May 20
  11. Hair to the Chief; TALK ABOUT A HEAD OF STATE; Bill's Shear Exuberance, Newsday (New York), May 21, 1993, Friday, CITY EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 4 Other Edition: Nassau and Suffolk Pg. 17, 766 words, Gail Collins, COLUMN; BILL CLINTON; PERSONAL; HAIR; CRISTOPHE
  12. Hair to the Chief; Unkindest cut of all sparked by $ 200 'do, Newsday (New York), May 21, 1993, Friday, CITY EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 5 Other Edition: Nassau and Suffolk Pg. 5, 826 words, By Timothy Clifford. WASHINGTON BUREAU. Martin Kasindorf and news service reports contributed to this story, Washington, BILL CLINTON; PERSONAL; HAIR; CRISTOPHE; CALIFORNIA; AIRPORT; SAFETY
  13. Bad Hair Day; Clinton gets a trim, planes go on hold, Newsday (New York), May 21, 1993, Friday, NASSAU AND SUFFOLK EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 5 Other Edition: City Pg. 5, 954 words, By Timothy Clifford. WASHINGTON BUREAU. Martin Kasindorf and news service reports contributed to this story., Washington, BILL CLINTON; HAIR; AIRPLANE; AIRPORT; SECURITY; CHRISTOPHE; BUDGET DEFICIT; ROSS PEROT; GEORGE BUSH; CALIFORNIA
  14. OFF WITH THEIR HAIR! 1ST COUPLE CUTS UP, Orlando Sentinel (Florida), May 21, 1993 Friday, 3 STAR, A SECTION; Pg. A1, 343 words, Compiled From Wire Reports, WASHINGTON
  15. Clinton cuts into flight schedules for sake of a trim, The Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 1993, Friday, FINAL EDITION, NEWS; Pg. D14, 181 words, BOSTON GLOBE, WASHINGTON
  16. FIRST FAMILY SHEARING SHARPENS JEERING, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), May 21, 1993, Friday,, SOONER EDITION, Pg. A1, 531 words, STEVE GOLDSTEIN, KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE
  17. Is Clinton still a regular guy after getting celebrity clip?, The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario), May 21, 1993 Friday Final Edition, NEWS; Pg. B9, 538 words, Los Angeles times
  18. MUCH A-DO; CLINTON'S UNTIMELY TRIM, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), May 21, 1993, FRIDAY, FIVE STAR Edition, NEWS; Pg. 1A, 453 words, WASHINGTON
  19. Bad hair day causes L.A. airport delay // Planes circle as Clinton clipped, USA
  20. TODAY, May 21, 1993, Friday, FINAL EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 1A, 194 words, Richard Benedetto
  21. Clinton Staff Says Flap Over On-Board Trim Is Splitting Hairs, The Washington Post, May 21, 1993, Friday, Final Edition, FIRST SECTION; PAGE A11, 647 words, Ann Devroy, Washington Post Staff Writer
It just gets worse from there, with over 250 stories between then and July 1, 1993, with hundreds and hundreds afterward. That's despite the fact that, on that day, stories started appearing like this one, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The story was that planes were kept circling as President Bill Clinton had his hair clipped on Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport last month. The runway haircut by Beverly Hills stylist Cristophe became such a metaphor for perceived White House arrogance that the president himself felt compelled to apologize for the reported flight delays. But the reports were wrong. According to Federal Aviation Administration records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the haircut May 18 caused no significant delays of regularly scheduled passenger flights - no circling planes, no traffic jams on the runways. Commuter airlines that fly routes reportedly affected by the president's haircut confirmed that they had no record of delays that day. The FAA records show that an unscheduled air taxi flight had the only delay attributed to the closure of two runways for an hour in anticipation of Air Force One's departure. The air taxi took off 17 minutes after leaving the gate - two minutes late, by FAA accounting. "If you understand the air traffic system, you'd find that statement (that planes were circling) ludicrous," said Fred O'Donnell, an FAA spokesman at the agency's Western-Pacific regional office. The office responded to Newsday's May 21 request under the Freedom of Information law. O'Donnell said that although two runways were closed, traffic was light that afternoon and arriving flights were simply diverted to the two other runways. "It did not cause any problems," he said. Press secretary Dee Dee Myers said Wednesday that "we're happy that the matter has been cleared up." The latest report was "consistent with what we were told at the time," Myers said. "The president made a point of asking and ensuring that no air traffic would be impaired if he should remain on the runway." During the uproar over the haircut, an unidentified FAA spokesperson was quoted in wire service reports as saying that a flight from Yuma, Ariz., to Los Angeles was delayed 25 minutes, a flight arriving from Palmdale, Calif., was delayed 17 minutes and several other flights were delayed about 10 minutes. These details were widely repeated by news media.
And don't miss this bit from The Jerusalem Post on July 4th:
Clinton has been mercilessly savaged by an American press corps smarting from accusations that it was too close to the previous establishment and so lost in trivial pursuits that it entirely missed the Savings and Loan and BCCI bank scandals - two of biggest financial disasters in the country since the war. In their attempt to recoup credibility, the media have dogged every second of the new president's days, simply because he is new - and therefore a soft target. Yet again, they are losing sight of the obvious. A frenetic pack hunting a hare is infinitely more silly and ineffectual than one lone wolf stalking a tiger.

No one will forget the Clinton haircut story - so delightful a juicy morsel that the pack went into a feeding frenzy for weeks over the gauche new president who cost the country millions of dollars by holding up East Coast air traffic for an hour while he had his hair styled in Air Force One on a Los Angeles runway. It has taken nearly a month for one lone wolf, New York's Newsday, to do what most people assume is the obvious task of journalists - first check the facts and then present them fairly.

It appears from Newsday's check on Federal Aviation Administration computer and flight records - simply obtained through the Freedom of Information Act - that the notorious haircut caused no delays to air traffic on May 18. Vanished in a puff of hype are the dramatic stacks of circling planes, the traffic jams on runways, the disrupted air commuter flying routes. Air operators, except for one, confirmed they had no record of delays to their schedules on that day. The one anomaly was an unscheduled air taxi flight that took off late because of Air Force One on the runway. The taxi was two minutes late, the FAA calculated, according to the newspaper.
Yet, still, in 2000, Mona Charen wanted to make sure that we all remembered "the famous haircut at the Los Angeles airport that held up hundreds, if not thousands, of travelers" and, in 2001, The Weekly Standard started an article this way:
In the spring of 1993, President Clinton stalled runway traffic at the Los Angeles airport so he could receive a $ 200 haircut aboard Air Force One at the hands of the gifted Christophe. Or maybe he didn't -- the facts of the case have never been established to THE SCRAPBOOK's satisfaction.
It's never stopped.


Nitpicker offers praise in honor of Sharon Olds, who turned down an invite to sup with Laura Bush this way (link via Pen and Sword)
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.
I like some of her poems and some I don't, though usually it's more because I can't "enjoy" her subjects, not because of any lack of skill on her part.

Read this poem, though, and try to imagine how she might feel about sending a child off to fight in Bush's ridiculous war.
High School Senior

For seventeen years, her breath in the house
at night, puff, puff, like summer
cumulus above her bed,
and her scalp smelling of apricots
--this being who had formed within me,
squatted like a bright tree-frog in the dark,
like an eohippus she had come out of history
slowly, through me, into the daylight,
I had the daily sight of her,
like food or air she was there, like a mother.
I say "college," but I feel as if I cannot tell
the difference between her leaving for college
and our parting forever--I try to see
this house without her, without her pure
depth of feeling, without her creek-brown
hair, her daedal hands with their tapered
fingers, her pupils dark as the mourning cloak's
wing, but I can't. Seventeen years
ago, in this room, she moved inside me,
I looked at the river, I could not imagine
my life with her. I gazed across the street,
and saw, in the icy winter sun,
a column of steam rush up away from the earth.
There are creatures whose children float away
at birth, and those who throat-feed their young
for weeks and never see them again. My daughter
is free and she is in me--no, my love
of her is in me, moving in my heart,
changing chambers, like something poured
from hand to hand, to be weighed and then reweighed.
Of the two women in question -- Sharon and Laura -- I cannot help but understand Sharon better.

Why can't conservatives get Google?

It would make them look, well, a little less stupid.

Today on the Sean Hannity show, Clinton-hater and toesucker Dick Morris claimed that, when he left office, Bill Clinton was at the "nadir" of his approval. According to Dick Morris (and many righty blogs), Bush, by allowing Clinton to help out with Katrina and Tsunami relief, had "rehabilitated" Clinton's image.

However, when Clinton left office he was not only getting high approval ratings, but had the highest approval ratings of any modern president at the end of their time in office.
End-of Presidency Job Approval Ratings
Bill Clinton (2001) 65%
Ronald Reagan (1989) 64
Dwight Eisenhower (1961) 59
John F. Kennedy (1963) 63
George Bush (1993) 56
Gerald Ford (1977) 53
Lyndon Johnson (1969) 49
Jimmy Carter (1981) 34
Richard Nixon (1974) 24
As a matter of fact, Clinton was still pulling a 62% approval rating last year, before the Tsunami ever hit.

If anyone might be able to expect an approval rating "contact high" from a Bush/Clinton partnership, it would be a Bush -- either one.

Morris went on to predict Dubya's approval rating would take a big jump in the next couple of polls. If it doesn't, will he admit he's a hack and go away?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

DeLay v. Washington Times

This has been going around for days now.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.

"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.

Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."
On Lou Dobbs tonight, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said that DeLay had told him the quotes weren't his. Lou Dobbs laughed and asked "Whose are they?"

Coburn suggested they may have been fabricated.

I think everyone should call the Washington Times -- 202.636.3000 -- and ask if Amy Fagan and Stephen Dinan stand behind their story.

Then pop some popcorn and watch the fun!

Not so fast, Jimmy

James Robbins writes about the North Korean issue in National Review (link via TPM Cafe, via Atrios). At first, it seems that he pretty much agrees with me that Bush's approach has done nothing but bring us back full-circle to the original Agreed Framework. Then, sadly, he gets off track.
President Bush had it right in his 2003 State of the Union address when he said, "Throughout the 1990s, the United States relied on a negotiated framework to keep North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons. We now know that that regime was deceiving the world, and developing those weapons all along. And today the North Korean regime is using its nuclear program to incite fear and seek concessions. America and the world will not be blackmailed." But we can still make another foolish bargain like the one we made in 1994. And when this one collapses the cleanup might be a bit messier.

The only certain solution to the WMD question on the Korean peninsula is regime change.
No no no no no.

First, let me speak directly to you, James, and ask what army is going to be able to force regime change? We are stretched thin, brother, and, in a couple of years when the IRR time is up on a lot of soldiers' contracts, it's going to be even worse.

You see, when your side talks about how good the retention level is, you forget that soldiers signing up for an intitial two-year hitch are actually promising eight, with six years inactive. (You could understand this better, of course, by signing up but that's neither here nor there.) In talking to soldiers who re-enlisted in Afghanistan, a lot of guys told me that they knew they were going to get called up anyway because they still had four years, so why not re-enlist for a bonus? So, with recruiting numbers slowing, I think you'll see a bunch of second-term soldiers fall away in the next few years.

Second, Bush has been right about nothing. According to the CIA report of 2002, there was no evidence that North Korea actually started building weapons-making plants until 2001. They hadn't been "developing those weapons all along." Yes, the CIA was "suspicious that North Korea has been working on uranium enrichment for several years," but, if that was the case, then why the hell did Bush hand them $94M and let them off the hook for inspections?

The sad truth is that the neocon pre-emptive strike/regime change strategy won't work against North Korea any better than it has in Iraq. Yes, Saddam's gone, but we're not safer (says the CIA and an United Nations expert panel). Further, Korea actually is scary and should have been dealt with sooner, but it was just too tough a test-case for your strategies, which proved to be flawed from the get-go.

The Bush Administration was put on notice about North Korea even before it received the C.I.A. report. In January of last year, John Bolton, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control, declared that North Korea had a covert nuclear-weapons program and was in violation of the nonproliferation treaty. In February, the President was urged by three members of Congress to withhold support for the two reactors promised to North Korea, on the ground that the Pyongyang government was said to be operating a secret processing site "for the enrichment of uranium." In May, Bolton again accused North Korea of failing to coöperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the group responsible for monitoring treaty compliance. Nevertheless, on July 5th the President's national-security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who presumably had received the C.I.A. report weeks earlier, made it clear in a letter to the congressmen that the Bush Administration would continue providing North Korea with shipments of heavy fuel oil and nuclear technology for the two promised energy-generating reactors.

The Administration's fitful North Korea policy, with its mixture of anger and seeming complacency, is in many ways a consequence of its unrelenting focus on Iraq. Late last year, the White House released a national-security-strategy paper authorizing the military "to detect and destroy an adversary's WMD assets"—weapons of mass destruction—"before these weapons are used." The document argued that the armed forces "must have the capability to defend against WMD-armed adversaries . . . because deterrence may not succeed." Logically, the new strategy should have applied first to North Korea, whose nuclear-weapons program remains far more advanced than Iraq's. The Administration's goal, however, was to mobilize public opinion for an invasion of Iraq. One American intelligence official told me, "The Bush doctrine says MAD"—mutual assured destruction—"will not work for these rogue nations, and therefore we have to preëmpt if negotiations don't work. And the Bush people knew that the North Koreans had already reinvigorated their programs and were more dangerous than Iraq. But they didn't tell anyone. They have bankrupted their own policy—thus far—by not doing what their doctrine calls for."

Iraq's military capacity has been vitiated by its defeat in the Gulf War and years of inspections, but North Korea is one of the most militarized nations in the world, with more than forty per cent of its population under arms. Its artillery is especially fearsome: more than ten thousand guns, along with twenty-five hundred rocket launchers capable of launching five hundred thousand shells an hour, are positioned within range of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The Pentagon has estimated that all-out war would result in more than a million military and civilian casualties, including as many as a hundred thousand Americans killed.
But Iraq was no "cakewalk" either and we're paying for it.

The fact that you can still use words like "regime change" and act like America can bring such a thing about just goes to show that neocons like you cannot be taught.

A must-read at DailyKos

I have nothing to add to Bonddad's simple, elegant explanation as to why "Nick Danger" at RedState is an idiot who understands nothing about fiscal policy.

I do, though, wonder about this bit from "Nick":
Remember, money is power. It is a force you squirt at the world to make it change.
That's just gross.

Another round of Saltpeter-rimmed margaritas for the weirdos over at RedState.

Separated near birth

Nitpicker is three years old today.

Kudos to TBogg, three years old yesterday.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hell yeah!

Just as the cussin' discussion gets really rolling over at Pandagon, the New York Times comes out with an article on the subject, which explains, in part, why bad words are a perfect tool for bloggers.
(R)esearchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin's famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television...

Some researchers are so impressed by the depth and power of strong language that they are using it as a peephole into the architecture of the brain, as a means of probing the tangled, cryptic bonds between the newer, "higher" regions of the brain in charge of intellect, reason and planning, and the older, more "bestial" neural neighborhoods that give birth to our emotions.

Researchers point out that cursing is often an amalgam of raw, spontaneous feeling and targeted, gimlet-eyed cunning. When one person curses at another, they say, the curser rarely spews obscenities and insults at random, but rather will assess the object of his wrath, and adjust the content of the "uncontrollable" outburst accordingly.
I don't know about peepholes into the architecture of the brain, but that feels about right.

Negotiation timelines

The genius at Generation Why has this:
1994 - Clinton Administration/Democrat-controlled Congress

1. Gave North Korea exaggerated credibility by appeasing "unilateral talks" request.

2. Negotiated "Framework Agreement" to exchange nuclear reactors for promises from a communist dictator.

3. Later, North Korea reveals it has a secret and active nuclear weapons program and finally admits having nuclear weapons.

2005 - Bush Administration/Republican-controlled Congress

1. Refused to enter into unilateral talks with North Korea (a move criticized by Democrats).

2. Called North Korea part of Axis of Evil and demanded compliance therefrom.

3. North Korea pledged to drop its nuclear weapons development and rejoin international arms treaties in a unanimous agreement Monday at six- party arms talks.

The results are in. The evidence is clear. No need to speculate or spin, it's obvious which foreign policy works and which doesn't.
Maybe you're right, but, just for "shits and giggles," let's see a more inclusive timeline:
1993 - Talks begin with North Korea

1994 - Signing of Agreed Framework, which allows for inspections of N.K. nuclear facilities

January 2002 - Bush calls N.K. member of "Axis of Evil"

April 2002 - Despite "Axis" status, Bush administration authorizes Framework payment of $95M to North Korea and "waived the Framework's requirement that North Korea allow inspectors to ensure it (had) not hidden away any weapons-grade plutonium from the original reactors."

October 2002 - North Korea admits to nuclear program.

2005 - N.K. claims to have nuclear weapons

September 2005 - North Korea "promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections" which were already in place under the Agreed Framework until the Bush administration let the North Koreans off the hook in the first place. Of course, we have to give them a light water reactor first and Siegfried S. Hecker, who looked into North Korea's claims (on the ground), said that there was no proof they ever had any nuclear weapons
So, in the end, Bush didn't follow the Agreed Framework, letting the North Koreans off the hook for inspections and giving them months to work on a nuclear program. In the end, they're probably going to end up with more from us for doing less, all because Bush gave them the time and money(!) to futz around with a nuclear program and they taunted us with a (most-likely-fictional) nuclear weapon.

Way to go, Bushies!

Update: I'm not the only one who sees it this way. Andrew Sullivan:
From what I can glean from the MSM reports, it's essentially a re-run of 1994: they trade one kind of nuke reactor for another; we pretend not to notice their subterranean nuke development; there's plenty of space for this thing to fall apart; and Kim Jong Il gets more goodies from the West. Maybe China, Japan and Russia figure that NoKo is falling apart anyway and this kind of engagement makes sense. It might if we had some kind of Gorbachev figure in Pyongyang. But, ahem, we don't. I know we don't have many good options here, but it's hard to avoid the impression that the Bush administration blinked.
Blinked? Hell, look at the timeline again, Andy! The Bush Administration poked its own eyes out Oedipus-style. Clinton, at the very least, demanded we get to look at their goodies.

Clinton was all about looking at the goodies.

What did I tell you?

Republican spokesman Fox News anchor Brit Hume did exactly what I said he would, saying on Special Report that
Former President Bill Clinton did something former President Bush did not do...criticize a sitting president and his administration.


Over at Michelle Malkin's site, an FAA official puts the kibosh on some gleeful conservative terror rumors and simultaneously defines/castigates the conservative blog-o-sphere in a single sentence. You see, Malkin, Roger L. Simon and LGF were all foaming at the mouth over a "credible tip" that a missile might have been fired at an America West flight.
Turned out to be nothing more than birds, and [a] big game of "telephone."
A better description of the righty blogs I've never heard.


How quickly we forget. Athenae points out this article about Clinton's take on Bush from the AFP.
Former US president Bill Clinton sharply criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.

Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."

The Iraq war diverted US attention from the war on terrorism "and undermined the support that we might have had," Bush said in an interview with an ABC's "This Week" programme.
Even in this Agence France Presse article you can see the beginning of the new Republican talking point: He can't keep his mouth shut like other presidents do, which just shows that Clinton isn't classy.

Mark my words. If this comes up in the next few days, every Republican will avoid the issues he raises by saying that they're disappointed that Clinton would break with tradition and criticize the President.


Riverside California's Press-Enterprise, March 9, 1994:
In an hour-long speech to about 900 people at the Stouffer Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells, Bush also said that the Clinton administration "has simply not gotten its act together yet" in foreign policy. Bush said he did not want to be a carping critic, but said President Clinton must be more consistent in carrying out foreign policy. Bush criticized the president in particular for sending a shipload of troops to Haiti last year and then ordering them home when "thugs" threatened them from the shore.
Washingtonian, February 1994:
BUSH: Now, on the specifics: Somalia -- I used a formula whenever I had to commit American forces anywhere. First, define the mission, don't be fuzzy about what you're trying to accomplish. Second, have the military, the people who have to carry it out, tell you how the mission can be accomplished, and when. And third, and equally important, how do you get out and when do you get out? How do you complete the mission, how do you exit?

Now, in Somalia we formed a coalition to go in and accomplish the mission. In phase one, the mission was to end the starvation, open the supply lines; then, in phase two, it was to turn the peace-keeping and peace-making over to the United Nations. We formed another coalition to carry out the second phase...

That was our original mission, and our military carried it out beautifully. The supply lines were opened, and at that point the operation became one for the United Nations to carry out. But somehow, the Clinton team lost sight of that, and we found our forces crossing a line, asked to carry out a different, more far-reaching mission -- one whose logistics and consequences hadn't been carefully thought out or planned for. And for that, I fault the Clinton support team -- the NSC, State, and Defense departments. You can't just drift on foreign-policy matters. You have to make decisions and have clearly defined goals, especially when you commit American forces overseas.
Associated Press, February 3, 1994
Making a rare return to Washington to refly the flag of the Reagan Revolution, Ronald Reagan accused President Clinton and the Democrats of stealing his ideas while trying to discredit his record...

Flying over the capital, he said, "I could just see the excitement on the faces of the bureaucrats - knowing they would soon be managing our national health care system! Up on Capitol Hill, I saw that big white dome, bulging with new tax revenues."
Boston Globe, October 23, 1993:
Top former officials of the Bush administration are increasingly assailing President Clinton's foreign policy, targeting his efforts in Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia.

The former officials deny any orchestrated attack, but a number of them have joined the barrage after months of little comment on Clinton's foreign policy. Prominent among the critics are former Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former press secretary Marlin Fitzwater.

Former President Bush himself, who once vowed not to criticize Clinton in public for a year, has made derogatory comments, as has former Vice President Dan Quayle, coming out of a lengthy hiatus in Indiana. In the months ahead, it is likely that the attacks from the out-of-office GOP officials will intensify if Clinton appears to struggle.

"If you are going to put somebody else's son or daughter into harm's way, into battle, you've got to know the answer to three questions," Bush told an elementary school audience in San Antonio recently. Those are what is the mission, how will it be accomplished and how will the troops be withdrawn, he said.
Get that? Bush said he would not criticize Clinton in public for a year, but can't keep himself from badmouthing the man in regards to an armed conflict he started himself.

And these are just a few stories from the first year-and-a-half of the Clinton presidency...

Update: It begins. Power Line's trio of idiots begins the lies, as Pandagon informs us.
In recent years, the Democrats have violated many of the tacit conventions of civility that have enabled our political system to work for more than two centuries. Yesterday another barrier fell, and once again, we entered uncharted waters: former President Bill Clinton launched a vicious attack on President Bush on ABC's "This Week" program.

This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now. The Democrats appear bent on destroying every element of the fabric that has united us as Americans.

Clinton's vicious attack is even worse in the context of his wife's Presidential bid: it is fair to assume that he was motivated not only by partisanship, but by his own desire to re-occupy the White House, and, most likely, wield once more the levers of power.
They go on to launch a half-hearted defense against Clinton's arguments, but, as Pandagon shows, they just look stupid

Update: More. Bush at the 1996 Republican Convention:
It breaks my heart when the White House is demeaned -- the presidency itself diminished. Bob Dole as president will treat the White House with respect, his staff will be beyond even the appearance of impropriety, and in the process he will increase respect for the United States of America all across the world.
Here he is in 1999, when, of course, there was no way that he might harbor the ulterior motive of getting a family member elected:
Former President George Bush worries about Bill Clinton's apparent "lack of respect" for the presidency, but is optimistic any embarrassment to the country will be short-lived.

"I have tried to stay out of all the Washington mess," Bush said at the end of a keynote address to the Safari Club International's 27th annual hunters' convention.

"But I must confess I have been deeply concerned by what appears to be a lack of respect for the office I was so very proud to hold," he said Saturday.
Let's also remember that Clinton has been very supportive of Bush over Iraq, which just makes his statement all the more damning. Let's also remember that Poppy didn't have a problem tossing in his two cents even as he called on Congress to support Clinton in Bosnia. U.P.I., December 5, 1995:
Though I have genuine respect for Secretary (Warren) Christopher and his team for securing a tenuous cease-fire and hammering out the peace agreement in Dayton -- an agreement designed to turn the tenuous cease- fire into an enduring peace -- I still have significant misgivings about the mission itself, about exactly what our troops are expected to accomplish and about when they can get out and come home. In my view, the answers on these points are less than clear.
Update: The showpiece article here is this one, an op-ed in the New York Times by none other than Ronald Reagan, entitled "There They Go Again," from February 18, 1993.
Less than one month ago, our nation showed the world the strength of our democratic system with the peaceful transfer of Presidential power from one elected citizen to another and, incidentally, from one political party to another. While it is no secret that I would have preferred a different scenario that day, I have great respect for our constitutional system and would like to support our new President.

I had every intention of holding back any comments on the new Administration until it was well in place and its policies became clear. Unfortunately, the policies are already becoming alarmingly clear. With campaign promises dropping like autumn leaves, I can't refrain any longer.

"First, we're going to raise the taxes on the people that did well in the 1980's," the Clinton Administration says. Did I hear that right? I'm afraid so! Do they really believe that those who have worked hard and been successful should somehow be punished for it? Is success in the 1980's, or any time for that matter, supposed to be something we as Americans are to be embarrassed about?

I hate to confuse their economic thinking with a few facts, but if they were to look at the 1980's, they would find that America experienced its longest period of peacetime economic expansion in our history. They would find that America led the world out of a global economic recession and that our economy was the envy of virtually every other nation. They would see that we created nearly 19 million new jobs for Americans of all income levels. And it may shock the Clinton Administration to discover that most of the economic gains of the 1980's were made by low- and middle-income citizens, not the wealthiest Americans.

Earlier this week, President Clinton said, "I know we have learned the hard lessons of the 1980's." I didn't realize they were so hard to learn. The fundamental lesson of the 1980's was that when you cut taxes for everyone, people have the incentive to work harder and invest, to make a better life for themselves and their families.

If the new Administration doesn't want to look back as far as the 1980's, maybe it will at least look back at the summer of 1992. Candidate Bill Clinton was promising that, if elected, he would provide a tax cut for the middle class. Now, in less than one month of his Presidency, that promise of a tax cut has not only been broken but it has been reversed into a tax increase for middle-income workers...

We must also listen for the sound of the other shoe to drop: the Clintons' health program. This will almost certainly involve proposals for another round of taxes later this year, and you can bet those won't be levied on a handful of millionaires.

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that alchemists could turn base metals into gold. Now it appears that alchemists in President Clinton's Administration hope to turn a huge tax increase into economic growth. Alchemy didn't work then and it won't work now. Taxes have never succeeded in promoting economic growth. More often than not, they have led to greater economic downturns.

In his campaign, candidate Clinton described himself as a "new Democrat," implying that there would be no more tax-and-spend dogma, no social engineering, no class warfare pitting one group against another. This week, however, he has begun to sound like an "old Democrat." That's the kind who does not understand one simple fact: the problem is not that the people are taxed too little, the problem is that the Government spends too much.

Until President Clinton and the liberals in Congress accept that principle and act accordingly, I'm afraid we are headed for a repeat of the late 1970's. And that is something we can all live without.

No one can dispute that the enormous budget deficit is a major threat to the economic security of our country. But let us remember that deficits are caused by spending. By the very terms of our Constitution, only Congress has the power to spend...
This was published less than a month after Clinton's inauguration. Does Polipundit think that Reagan, then, is a "no class slime"?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Modicum of Truth in Advertising

While other networks call it a Presidential Address, this from NBC:

Now, if it had only read Paid Political Advertising, it'd have been spot on.

Will the press once again be taken, this time with his faux acceptance of responsibility.

More false claims that things could not have been foreseen, could not have been prevented. When will the emphasis be placed correctly -whether it's a warning of an attack via PDB or scientific evidence of the effects of global warming on tropical storm activity or dire predictions of Katrina effects in the days before hitting landfall in New Orleans - things can't be prevented if no one is paying attention.

This moron and his cadre of incompetents don't do data - it's not that the devastation is not preventable or a least mitigable it's that it can't be prevented or mitigated by them.

More later on my absence (though I see Terry's been on a roll so I will not have been missed) - as the Brits would say, I've been in hospital.


(Or, as it's known by its full title, Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay Penguins.)

You see, two days ago, we read this in the New York Times:
On the conservative Web site, an opponent of abortion wrote that the movie "verified the beauty of life and the rightness of protecting it."

At a conference for young Republicans, the editor of National Review urged participants to see the movie because it promoted monogamy. A widely circulated Christian magazine said it made "a strong case for intelligent design."

The movie is "March of the Penguins," and of all the reactions it has evoked, perhaps the most surprising is its appeal to conservatives. They are hardly its only audience; the film is the second highest grossing documentary of all time, behind "Fahrenheit 9/11."...

"March of the Penguins," the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."

Speaking of audiences who feel that movies ignore or belittle such themes, he added: "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ.' This is 'The 'Passion of the Penguins.' "
Passion, you say? Monogamy? Child rearing?

Yes, yes and yes, but I think Rich Lowry's going to be disappointed.
Wendell and Cass, two penguins at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, live in a soap opera world of seduction and intrigue. Among the 22 male and 10 female African black-footed penguins in the aquarium's exhibit, tales of love, lust and betrayal are the norm. These birds mate for life. But given the disproportionate male-female ratio at the aquarium, some of the females flirt profusely and dump their partners for single males with better nests.

Wendell and Cass, however, take no part in these cunning schemes. They have been completely devoted to each other for the last eight years. In fact, neither one of them has ever been with anyone else, says their keeper, Stephanie Mitchell.

But the partnership of Wendell and Cass adds drama in another way. They're both male. That is to say, they're gay penguins...

At the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy, two male Chinstrap penguins, have been in an exclusive relationship for four years. Last mating season, they even fostered an egg together.

"They got all excited when we gave them the egg," said Rob Gramzay, senior keeper for polar birds at the zoo. He took the egg from a young, inexperienced couple that hatched an extra and gave it to Silo and Roy. "And they did a really great job of taking care of the chick and feeding it."

Of the 53 penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy are not the only ones that are gay. In 1997, the park had four pairs of homosexual penguins. In an effort to increase breeding, zookeepers tried to separate them by force. They failed, said Gramzay.
God sure does seem to love to embarrass conservatives.

Update: Um, glad I could do your column research for you, Andrew. Don't mention it. Oh. You weren't going to...

Shorter Peggy Noonan

Bush has completely screwed up in regards to Katrina, but he'll be OK.
Don't believe me? Check out these lines.
The administration was slow to see the size, scope, variations and implications of the disaster because it was not receiving and responding to reliable reports from military staff on the ground. Because they weren't there. When the administration moved, it moved, and well. But it took too long.

Second, lame gazing out the window is mere spin, not action. Soulful looks from the plane are spin. The White House was spinning when it should have been acting.

Katrina Embeds

There's been quite a bit of discussion lately about the move to try to keep photographers from photographing bodies found in New Orleans (see this, this and my take here). In comments over at Body and Soul, I defended the Army -- which had been blamed for actually blocking photographers on the ground -- this way:
That's bullshit. The Army has no such policy (trust me on this) and, even if it did, it doesn't have the authority to enforce such a policy. The few soldiers down there that have a law enforcement mission are only allowed to enforce the laws on the books, not arbitrary restrictions on reporters in a public space.

Posted by: nitpicker | Sep 14, 2005 1:41:45 PM

Follow-up at TPM:
A spokesman for the General in charge of Army operations in Louisiana says that the Army is not imposing any restrictions on the press operating on their own in the region.

This is in response to the article which appeared yesterday which quoted soldiers with the 82nd Airborne forbidding reporters to photograph or write about body removal.

"We don't profess to have any more authority than we have," says Lt. Col. John Cornelio. "You also have to appreciate we have 70,000 soldiers. There can be a 'Joe' or two who doesn't get it."
I actually buy this. The Army knows it can't kick people out of Louisiana. If we couldn't kick people out of Herat province, we sure as hell can't kick them out of NOLA.

Posted by: nitpicker | Sep 14, 2005 2:09:57 PM
But guess what? The Army let me down. No, they're not kicking people out of Louisiana, but pay close attention to the wording above. "(T)he Army is not imposing any restrictions on the press operating on their own in the region."

I am a National Guard Public Affairs soldier, so I know what the policies have been. In Afghanistan, journalists who wanted not only to "embed" with units, but also to have the press badges which qualified them for access to press conferences, had to sign an agreement which kept them from doing certain things. There was nothing in these guidelines that I found very limiting. For example, you could embed with special forces, but you couldn't take an identifiable picture of their faces. I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with this, which I received in an e-mail to my Army webmail account today. What "Joe" wrote this?
National Guard Bureau

Office of Public Affairs

Embed Guidelines

Images of the Deceased

The following are the official ground rules of the National Guard regarding the capturing of images of deceased persons while embedded with National Guard personnel.

The overriding philosophy behind this policy is the total respect and dignity for the victims of Hurricane Katrina as well as their family and friends.

Embedded journalists will not be allowed to participate or remain with units involved in the National Guard recovery operations. During search and rescue, embedded journalists will not capture images (still or video) of the recognizable remains of a deceased person or persons. Journalists must ensure that the victim is covered entirely before images are captured. (Photos of uncovered remains - that are not recognizable - may be permitted by the commander of the embedded unit, but these concerns are to be addressed on a case-by-case scenario.)

These guidelines recognize the inherent Constitutional right of free speech of the media in covering military operations and are in no way intended to prevent release of derogatory, embarrassing, negative or non-complimentary information.

Acceptance of this policy is an agreement between you and the National Guard. You agree to follow these ground rules and the command will provide support, access to military members, information and other privileges. Violation of these ground rules, however, may result in your permanent removal as an embedded journalist with any the National Guard unit.

"I (insert name) ____________________, am (insert job description) __________________ in the employ of __________________ (insert news organization), have read the aforementioned media policy and agree, with my signature, to abide by them. I also understand that violation of these ground rules is cause for the revocation of my embed with the National Guard."

(Signature block) [Emphasis Nitpicker's]
In other words, take the wrong photo and we won't drive you around, we won't let you talk to our soldiers, we won't give you information and, um, don't even ask about other privileges.

Again, I've written before about the uses of photographs of bodies and, no, I don't think the clearly identifiable photo of a corpse is justifiable, but I do not believe that the Army National Guard should be threatening journalists in order to get them to do what they want.

Update: For the e-mailer who asked about how I expect the military to act, I would point out that the following (um, and slight color-blindness that kept me out of P-3s) is why I joined Public Affairs. An excerpt from Field Manual 46-1, Public Affairs Operations:
The requirement for the Army to conduct Public Affairs derives from Title 10, U.S. Code which states that the Secretary of the Army is responsible for public affairs and will establish the Office of Public Affairs. Implicit in a government of the people, by the people and for the people are the concepts that the people have a right to know about the activities of the government, and the government has an obligation to inform the people about its activities. These principles also apply to information about the activities of the military, which is established in the Constitution of the United States to “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” One of the most significant conduits through which information is passed to the people is the free press guaranteed by the Constitution. Since the nation’s founding, the Army has communicated information to the American people through the media.
Read to the bottom and you find, in Appendix A, the "DoD Principles of Information," which I include here in their entirety, knowing full well they are no longer operable under the current administration:
It is the policy of the Department of Defense to make available timely and accurate information so that the public, Congress, and the news media may assess and understand the facts about national security and defense strategy.

Request for information from organizations and private citizens will be answered in a timely manner: In carrying out this policy, the following principles of nformation will apply:
•Information will be made fully and readily available, consistent with statutory requirements, unless its release is precluded by current and valid security classification. The provisions of the Freedom of Information Act will be supported in both letter and spirit.

•A free flow of general and military information will be made available, without censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their family members.

•Information will not be classified or otherwise withheld to protect the government from criticism or embarrassment.

•Information will be withheld only when disclosure would adversely affect national security or threaten the safety or privacy of the men and women of the Armed Forces.

•The Department’s obligation to provide the public with information on its major programs may require detailed public affairs planning and coordination within the Department and with other government agencies. The sole purpose of such activity is to expedite the flow of information to the public: propaganda has no place in the Department of Defense public affairs programs.
An example of the "Media Ground Rules" used in Desert Storm make up Appendix E.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

He'd rather be fishing.

Dick Cheney, ladies and gentlemen. (Via Think Progress):
When asked by a reporter why he did not return from his vacation earlier than last Thursday, three days after the hurricane hit, the vice president replied: “I came back four days early.”
Would everyone get off this poor man's back? What do you want from him? He gives and he gives and he gives and *sob* now he's lost four days -- Four irretrievable days! -- of his vacation to the whining of you responsibility addicts. Shame on you.


P.S. In case you forgot, Dick is a killer.

The repudiation of Idio-Christians

If Townhall still had a shred of respectability left, Dennis Prager would have just wiped his dumb ass with it.
As a result of the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, we are witnessing the ascendance of the feminine in Western society.

There are two reasons for this. One is the overriding belief in equality, which to those who reject Judeo-Christian values means sameness. Judeo-Christian values emphatically affirm the equality of the sexes. In fact, given that the creation story in Genesis proceeds from primitive to elevated, the last creation, woman, can easily be seen as the most elevated of the creations. Every man knows how much a good woman helps him transcend his animal nature...

To say that the human race needs masculine and feminine characteristics is to state the obvious. But each sex comes with prices. Men can too easily lack compassion, reduce sex to animal behavior and become violent. And women's emotionality, when unchecked, can wreak havoc on those closest to these women and on society as a whole -- when emotions and compassion dominate in making public policy.
And as Dennis can tell you, the price for the "masculine characteristics" he needs can run as much as 25% more per hour.

He does have a point, though, about men and violence. The more I read, the more I wanted to beat his stupid ass.
The latter is what is happening in America. The Left has been successful in supplanting masculine virtues with feminine ones. That is why "compassion" is probably the most frequently cited value. That is why the further left you go, the greater the antipathy to those who make war. Indeed, universities, the embodiment of feminist emotionality and anti-Judeo-Christian values, ban military recruiters and oppose war-themed names for their sports teams.

A sentiment such as "War is not the answer" embodies leftist feminine emotionality. The statement is, after all, utter nonsense, as many of the greatest evils -- from Nazi totalitarianism and genocide to slavery -- were quite effectively "answered" by war. (Virtually every car I ever have seen display the bumper sticker "War is not the answer" was driven by a woman.)
Look, arguing with a bumper sticker is stupid enough, but it must be pointed out that "war is not the answer" doesn't mean that war never is or was necessary. Prager, after already saying that "feminine characteristics" help man "transcend his animal nature," goes on to, as far as I can tell, argue that "War is the answer." He does not qualify this, limiting it to specific wars. War's just right.

O Lord, where's the good woman who can tame the beast inside Denny Prager?

And, honestly, where in those Judeo-Christian values does war fit? To Dennis, Christianity is not a "religion of peace." Christianity is a manly, tough-guy faith which is always up for kicking some ass. Dennis must be using a different Bible than I do. (Which, since I'm Catholic and he's a fundamentalist [and a crazy person], is literally true. Unfortunate for Dennis, too, since his Bible leaves out the best fight scenes.)

I hate that I have to point this out again and again, but let's just remember that Pope John Paul II -- no feminist he -- said that war was most definitely "not the answer" in regards to Iraq, calling it a "defeat for humanity." He actually went even further into bumper sticker territory, too.
"When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society," John Paul said. "Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of man."
Where's Prager's article bitching about the feminization of the Catholic Church? Hell, even our current Pope -- then-Cardinal Ratzinger -- agreed.
As talk escalated about a U. S. attack on Iraq, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, began stating unequivocally that "The concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church." His comments had been published as early as September 2002 and were repeated several times as war seemed imminent.
A round of applause for Idio-Christian Dennis Prager, ladies and gentlemen, chaplain of the 101st fighting keyboarders (who, by the way, have yet to show any of the "masculine characteristics" Prager so heartily endorses).


Bush takes two direct hits from the WaPo today.

First, William Arkin:
Michael Brown Was Set Up: It's All in the Numbers

It's so easy to blame Michael Brown, but he got his marching orders from someone else. Weapons of mass destruction, not waves of mass destruction, are the president's priorities. Want to get on the White House Varsity team. Get with the program.

The same obsession that led the Bush administration to see weapons of mass destruction and terrorism in every tea leaf and go to war in Iraq now guides the entire federal government disaster response effort.

How do I prove the point? I've got the goods.
And he does. Go read the whole thing.

Then Dan Froomkin asks the question that, if asked to Bush's face, would push the man over the edge:
Sir, you've said countless times that you don't govern based on the polls. But can you explain the polls? You are not a popular president anymore. How do you think that happened?
Daaaaaayamn. That's good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I can't believe the chutzpah of these bastards to even try to spin this. From a soon-to-be-public report by the Congressional Research Service:
Governor Blanco's August 27, 2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination ... that "the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Our man Armando

Armando makes an excellent point about the "umpire" analogy in John Roberts' opening statement today, bringing up the glory days of my home team to do it. God love 'im.

Wittig convicted

Good news, everyone! Corporate scumbag and Tom DeLay briber David Wittig was convicted today of all 39 counts against him. If only an enterprising federal prosecutor would knock about half of his time off if he talks about how DeLay shook him down...

After all, he only screwed Kansans and Missourians over. DeLay's screwing the whole country.

Photos of bodies

Look, I won't argue that the press should necessarily be showing bodies on television or in print. I also don't think that you can make the blanket argument that they shouldn't. I think there is a time and a place for photos like that and it's up to the editor to make that decision. Sometimes he's right and sometimes he's wrong, but it's a subjective choice either way.

What pisses me off in the recent scuffle over whether FEMA should block the printing of photos of the Katrina dead is, once again, the cognitive dissonance of so-called intelligent members of the Republican party. So many of the same people who argue full-throated for the Second Amendment and argue against a strong federal government are acting as if the press is mad when its members decry what amounts to a suspension of the First Amendment and censorship by the feds. If these fuckers believed in anything other than making political points, they would be screaming themselves hoarse over this.

Ironically, these are the same kind of dipshits who've been complaining for weeks that there should be a "press shield law" and that Judith Miller should be let out of jail (before she cracks, apparently, and gives up the Bushies). It's also interesting that conservatives seem to believe that people do have a right to privacy...but only after they're dead.

But, the question remains as to whether it's ever appropriate to publish photos of dead bodies. Of course it is. Look at this collection of casualty photos from the Los Angeles Times website and tell me that you don't learn something more (or, at least, different) from those photos than you would from all the writing done about the wars they depict.

When Life Magazine published the famous photo of three dead Americans at Buna Beach below, they asked and answered a question their readers might have been asking.

"Why print this picture, anyway, of three American boys dead upon an alien shore? Is it to hurt people? To be morbid?

"Those are not the reasons. The reason is that words are never enough."

Glenn Reynolds writes that the press "will see its reputation and influence shrink again before this is over." Fair enough. That could happen, but it's not up to Reynolds or Bush or any other conservative idiots to choose what the press gets to publish. If the American people choose not to read a certain paper or watch a certain television show because of that show's editorial choices, that's their prerogative. They should at least be trusted with that decision.

Am I the only one, though, who thinks that, if Reynolds truly thought photos of the Katrina dead would diminish the influence of the press, he would probably rent a bus and drive the entire stable of Getty Images photographers down to New Orleans himself?

The real problem for Glenn and his ilk is that he's worried photos of the dead in New Orleans and Mississippi will show people the truth that, as Steve Gilliard put it, "small government kills." After they see that, it's a lot harder to buy the Republican tax-cut bullshit.

Update: On dead guys.