Politics: January 2003 Archives

Be it thy course to busy giddy minds With foreign quarrels.

-- Shakespeare, Henry V

Courtesy of George M. Carter:

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq. If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq. If the terrorists are frisky, Pakistan is looking shifty, North Korea is too risky, Bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think someone has dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

It's "pre-emptive non-aggression", bomb Iraq.
Let's prevent this mass destruction, bomb Iraq.
They've got weapons we can't see,
And that's good enough for me
'Cos it's all the proof I need
Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think Saddam's gone mad,
With the weapons that he had,
(And he tried to kill your dad),
Bomb Iraq.

If your corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain't easy,
And your manhood's getting queasy,
Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might knows not our borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We'll call it treason,
Let's make war not love this season,
Even if we have no reason,
Bomb Iraq.

Also check out ABSURD RESPONSE TO AN ABSURD WAR. Who says lefties don't have a sense of humor?

Haha - oh - stop it hurts!

I almost spit my coffee all over my iBook after reading about Lawrence Kudlow over at TBOGG:

The great investor class is mightily worried about all this -- and it's holding its breath, waiting for President Bush to launch a counter-offensive. Meeting with economists in the White House Cabinet Room is not what shareholders want to see. They want the new great communicator George W. Bush out selling his plan in the key heartland red states, and maybe even in some of the blue bi-coastal states.

You can buy this bumper sticker on her site:

My popularity is slipping: It's time to start killing some folks!

Also, don't miss her on Gum Control.

Ellis Henican on Col. David Hackworth:

David Hackworth is one of the most celebrated soldiers in modern U.S. history. He joined the merchant marine at 14, the Army at 15, and he's never looked back. He was the youngest U.S. captain in the Korean War, the youngest colonel in Vietnam. As a soldier and later a war correspondent, he's been on a dozen battlefields, hot and cold. And he never became a Pentagon bureaucrat. Of all the medals that have been pinned to his uniform, it's the Combat Infantryman's Badge he's proudest of.

Now his country is tilting toward war again.

"Having thought long and hard about war with Iraq," Hackworth told me, measuring his words carefully, "I cannot find justification. I don't see a threat. They are not Nazi Germany. This is not the Wehrmacht. In no way does the situation in Iraq affect my nation's security. That is the bottom line of analyzing threats. 'Does this country threaten my country's security?' In this case, absolutely not."

The awesome risks of this war, he said, far outweigh the potential rewards.

"Focus on protecting the American homeland, which is not adequately defended," Hack said. "Nine-eleven proved that. All of the machinations that have gone on since then are more lip service and crowd-pleasing than real. Our borders are still wide open. Our ports are vulnerable, too. And there are plenty of sleeper cells - Middle Eastern terrorists living among us, waiting to do their thing."


And finally, what about all the anti-American sentiment this war will generate? "One and a half billion Muslims, who don't like us anyway. Now they're gonna look and say, 'Here come the crusaders again.'"

From their ranks rise the terrorists of tomorrow.

As he travels across the country, Hackworth told me, the vast majority of military veterans he meets see this war as a rotten idea.

"They've been there," he said. "They know war is not a blood sport, as cable news make it out to be. Cheney and Bush and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld - they've never stood and faced the elephant. These are the people who gush for war."

But don't expect the generals and the admirals to raise their own private doubts.

"Through the long eight-year bloodbath of Vietnam, not one general sounded off and said, 'Bad war, can't win it, let's get out.' They went along to get along. It's true again. The top generals are head-shakers."

As for the public, just watch how quickly the pro-war sentiment will evaporate.

"My parachute brigade was the first to go to Vietnam," Hackworth recalled. "Eighty-five percent of Americans were saying, 'Hey, hey, all the way with LBJ.' We were there a year, shipping body bags back home as fast as we could. Suddenly, the American public, which is so fickle, did a 180. 'Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?'"

Very interesting chart from the Jan. 21 New York Times:


James has a good post on what's really going on in Venezuela.

Is the press starting to realize that Bush isn't the Teflon® man?

AIDS Nominee Withdraws From White House AIDS Panel

'Made in China' labels hidden at Bush event

Of course, there are plenty of fundamentalist bigots still on the AIDS panel.

Nathan Newman has a good post titled In Defense of Al Sharpton.

Several facts about Al Sharpton:

  • I saw him get arrested at one of the demonstrations for Amadou Diallo.

  • He is the only presidential candidate I have ever seen at an AIDS demonstration, marching with sundry queens, ACT UPers, and other activists.

  • He is the only (Democratic) presidential candidate who is not in favor of the death penalty.

I'm so glad their gay dollars and efforts help support the party that just appointed a man who calls AIDS the "gay plague", homosexuality a "death style", and runs a ministry to "cure" homosexuals to the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS.

Atrios has a good post on this.

If I see one more "Thanks Ralph Nader"-type post regarding stories like this I'm going to scream. It's been 2 years since that election and we've watched the Democrats behave like sheep.

Our government is pissing off most of the world. At this rate we're not going to have any allies. Being the supreme military power without any allies will be very expensive and dangerous in the long run. Calling the two most powerful states in Europe "Old Europe" is not useful.

From the BBC:

Mr Rumsfeld made the remarks in Washington after French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder agreed to work together to oppose US threats of war in Iraq.

"Germany has been a problem and France has been a problem," Mr Rumsfeld told Washington's foreign press corps.

"But you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe, they're not with France and Germany... they're with the US.

"You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't," he said. "I think that's old Europe."

Mr Rumsfeld pointed to the planned expansion of Nato, with seven eastern European and Baltic countries invited to join the alliance.

"If you look at the entire Nato Europe today, the centre of gravity is shifting to the east," Mr Rumsfeld said.

If the centre of gravity is shifting, it's because we're basically using U.S. tax dollars to give military hardware to the more eastern countries via favorable "loan" terms.

Meanwhile, China joins Russia, France and Germany in opposition to immediate military action against Iraq.


Brian Eno, writing in Time Magazine(!) has it about right:

When Europeans make such criticisms, Americans assume we're envious. "They want what we've got," the thinking goes, "and if they can't get it, they're going to stop us from having it." But does everyone want what America has? Well, we like some of it but could do without the rest: among the highest rates of violent crime, economic inequality, functional illiteracy, incarceration and drug use in the developed world. President Bush recently declared that the U.S. was "the single surviving model of human progress." Maybe some Americans think this self-evident, but the rest of us see it as a clumsy arrogance born of ignorance.

Europeans tend to regard free national health services, unemployment benefits, social housing and so on as pretty good models of human progress. We think it's important — civilized, in fact — to help people who fall through society's cracks. This isn't just altruism, but an understanding that having too many losers in society hurts everyone. It's better for everybody to have a stake in society than to have a resentful underclass bent on wrecking things. To many Americans, this sounds like socialism, big government, the nanny state. But so what? The result is: Europe has less gun crime and homicide, less poverty and arguably a higher quality of life than the U.S., which makes a lot of us wonder why America doesn't want some of what we've got.

Go here. It's not one of his strongest, but still worth reading.

As a follow-up to my earlier article, I'm posting a story that says Powell disagrees with President Bush's position on the University of Michigan case.

If we go to war with Iraq and any Americans actually die, it's not going to be pretty. I'm also baffled by the idea that the number of people who think Bush hasn't provided adequate proof of Iraq's crimes has decreased.

A poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press indicated 76 percent of Americans support a war if United Nations inspectors find evidence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. That support drops to 29 percent if no such weapons are discovered, even if the Iraqi government cannot prove it doesn't have them. And if U.S. soldiers were to suffer thousands of casualties, then 48 percent would oppose the war, compared with the 43 percent who would support it. And slightly more than half do not believe Bush has sufficiently explained reasons for war.


According to the Pew poll, the number of respondents who say they believe Bush has clearly justified an attack on Iraq has dropped significantly since his September address at the UN. Back then a majority (52 percent to 37 percent) said they believed he had adequately explained his reasons for using military force. In the latest poll, a majority (53 percent to 42 percent) said they believe he has not clearly voiced his reasons.


Another one: 50% of Americans think one or more of the September 11 hijackers was an Iraqi citizen.

I've had it with the hypocrisy of George W. Bush on affirmative action. He misuses words like "quota" while pandering to the people who think non-whites have no disadvantages in our society and that illiterate black people are keeping hard-working white people out of jobs.

First, let's look at the University of Michigan FAQ regarding admissions:

While students with very low grades and test scores typically are denied admission, and students with very high grades and test scores typically are admitted, most applicants do not fall into either of these categories. For that large pool of qualified applicants in the middle range, many other factors -- including, but not limited to, race and ethnicity -- can make a difference in admissions decisions.


Applicants receive up to 40 points for other factors that indicate an applicant's potential contribution to LSA. They may receive 20 points for one of the following: membership in an underrepresented minority group, socioeconomic disadvantage, attendance at a predominantly minority high school, athletics, or at the Provost's discretion. Reflecting the University's commitment both to state residents and to broader geographic diversity, counselors assign ten points for Michigan residency, six additional points for residency in underrepresented Michigan counties, and two points for residency in underrepresented states. Applicants receive one or four points for alumni relationships. The personal essay can earn up to three points. Based on an applicant's activities, work experience, and awards, counselors may assign up to five points for leadership and service, and five more points for personal achievement.

Interestingly, the Bush administration is incensed by the idea of race affecting admissions, but seems unconcerned about other criteria, such as "underrepresented Michigan counties" which is as likely to benefit rural whites as anyone. Of course, we know why Bush can't bring up "alumni relationships". This is a man that would never have attended Phillips Andover, Yale, or Harvard without rich white guy/connected father/alumni affirmative action. Check out Danziger on the subject. Ellis Henican from Newsdays tells us:

He was a C student at Phillips Andover.

He got a not-so-stellar 1206 on his SATs - 566 verbal, 640 math. That was a full 180 points below the median score for the Yale University class of '68.

But boola-boola for him!

In the fall of 1964, George W. Bush was welcomed inside Yale's ivy-covered walls as a "legacy admittee."

And in the years that followed [at Yale], young W never pulled his average above a C. His college transcript, in an eye-popping leak to The New Yorker magazine, showed a 73 in Introduction to the American Political System and a 71 in Introduction to International Relations, to cite two examples that could mean something in hindsight.

Do you know anyone else who was admitted to Harvard Business School with an undergraduate C average?

Yesterday's Newsday reported that Condoleezza Rice had issued a statement that using race as a factor to achieve diversity on college campuses is "appropriate" -- contradicting the President but saying she supports the decision to challenge the University of Michigan policy. She was responding to a Washington Post story that said she was instrumental in shaping the administration's decision to intervene in the Michigan case.

In today's Newsday, Jimmy Breslin says Powell: Act or Resign. Colin Powell spoke very eloquently about affirmative action in a speech at the 2000 GOP convention:

The subject was affirmative action, of which Powell was a recipient in his time. Here is a guy who got out of City College, where Frankfurter went, where Salk went, and public taxes paid for his education and gave him a chance to get where he is now. It is what the country should be about.

And to his audience, which was 94 percent white, affirmative action was as dangerous as wired dynamite.

Powell said:

"We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community, the kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education.

"But hardly a whimper is heard over affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax codes with preferences for special interests.”

Right after that, Powell told interviewers, "You need to be a little careful when you see nothing wrong with that kind of preference or affirmative action, and say it's fine, whether it's sugar growers in Florida or somewhere else in the tax code, but suddenly a preference system, as you call it, an affirmative action program, as I prefer to call it, that allows a few thousand kids to get an education somehow is so damaging to our constitutional process that it has to become a major factor for our party and a major center for the party to attack.”

One thing to remember as you're reading about all of this is that all of the President's proposals regarding diversity through economic tests rather than racial criteria rely strongly on keeping segregated high schools in order to maintain racial diversity at the college level. Another is that the University of Michigan case involves the law school, and the administration has no proposals for dealing with diversity for graduate or professional schools.

And don't even get me started asking who died in Viet Nam so that Bush wouldn't. Now that's affirmative action.

It's been a bit since I've written a good political post, so I'll point you to one by Lisa at

RuminateThis that you should go read right now.

A Christian terrorist group, that in 1997 claimed that it bombed an Atlanta lesbian night club, is encouraging its followers to rally in Buffalo.

Do you think a gay group that bombed a church would be able to hold a rally, or would all of its member be in jail?

President's Public Mood Turns Cheerless

Chalk it up to the January blues, or having to go back to work after a two-week vacation, or simply a plate full of weighty, as-yet-unmade decisions.


Journalists escorted into a Cabinet meeting on Monday were allowed just four questions. On Wednesday, the media were ushered in at the beginning of a session with congressional leaders from both parties. Bush tersely informed them that no questions would be welcomed.

"I'm going to have a statement and then we'll ask you to leave so we can get down to our business," he said. After his statement and the signing of legislation extending federal unemployment benefits, he reiterated the point. "Get out of the room as quickly as you came in," he said.

The correct word is massacre, not war.

CNN of all places has a good article on the fact that Blair is starting to distance himself from Bush a little bit, with his spokesman saying

[Blair] underlined his view that the weapons inspectors in Iraq must be given the time and space they need to do their job and, in that sense, January 27, though an important staging post, shouldn't be regarded in any sense as a deadline.


Train drivers yesterday refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf.

Railway managers cancelled the Ministry of Defence service after the crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

The anti-war revolt is the first such industrial action by workers for decades.

Thanks to my friend Anees for the latter story.

Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer - January 6, 2003

Q At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the President deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up.

MR. FLEISCHER: I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds. And the President, as he said in his statement yesterday, deplores in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel.

Q My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends --

Q They're not attacking you.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- from a country --

Q Have they laid the glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11 years?

MR. FLEISCHER: I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression then.

Q Is this revenge, 11 years of revenge?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, I think you know very well that the President's position is that he wants to avert war, and that the President has asked the United Nations to go into Iraq to help with the purpose of averting war.

Q Would the President attack innocent Iraqi lives?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President wants to make certain that he can defend our country, defend our interests, defend the region, and make certain that American lives are not lost.

Q And he thinks they are a threat to us?

MR. FLEISCHER: There is no question that the President thinks that Iraq is a threat to the United States.

Q The Iraqi people?

MR. FLEISCHER: The Iraqi people are represented by their government. If there was regime change, the Iraqi --

Q So they will be vulnerable?

MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, the President has made it very clear that he has not dispute with the people of Iraq. That's why the American policy remains a policy of regime change. There is no question the people of Iraq --

Q That's a decision for them to make, isn't it? It's their country.

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don't think that has been what history has shown.

Q I think many countries don't have -- people don't have the decision -- including us.

[via cursor]

OK, I finally added the Daily Kos to my blogs on the right after reading 2003 in review, a "future history."

They thought Clinton lying about sex was the worst behavior in the history of American politics. South Knox Bubba has a response.

[via Ruminate This]

The Bush administration kills tracking of mass layoffs, because it makes them look bad.

Meanwhile, our President stands to make a lot of money from worldwide war the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it.

One more: our tax dollars have started going to religious groups to promote marriage. I love my gay dollars going to help spread the word that I'm evil.

Good essay on why cutting taxes on dividends is a bad idea.

Tyranny is the absence of complexity.
-- André Gide

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2003.

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