Saturday, March 20, 2004

Yet Another Unsurprising Revelation

How many people need to say it?

Richard Clarke, Bush's top official on counter-terrorism who headed a cybersecurity board, told CBS "60 minutes" in an interview to be aired Sunday he thought Bush had "done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

"I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11," Clarke told CBS.

Clarke, who was an adviser to four presidents, says in a book to be published next week that the Bush administration should have taken out al Qaeda and its training camps in Afghanistan long before the attacks of Sept. 11, for which the militant network was blamed.

"I think the way he has responded to al Qaeda, both before 9/11 by doing nothing, and by what he's done after 9/11, has made us less safe," Clarke told CBS.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Simple, Elegant Insight

From Michael Gordon:

There was a cold and calculating logic behind the Madrid bombings, one that is likely to be demonstrated again in the coming months. The terrorists have turned the Bush doctrine on its head.
After the attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared that any nation that harbored terrorists would be considered just as culpable as the terrorists themselves. Putting that doctrine into action, the United States toppled the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, who had given shelter to Al Qaeda members.
Now, the militants have developed their own cruel variant. Their plan is to attack any allies or international institutions cooperating with the Americans in Iraq. The aim is to pick away at the coalition until it is reduced to a few token deployments and one lonely and overstretched superpower - one that the militants hope will grow weary of its deployments in the Middle East.


A Couple of Things about This

New story on Google News:

Women, Children Warned About Tuna Consumption
Washington Post - 35 minutes ago
Responding to research that shows concentrations of mercury are significantly higher in the albacore tuna than the canned "light" tuna, the government advised potentially vulnerable consumers today to eat only 6 ounces -- one average meal -- of albacore ...

First, let us dispense with the obvious: This administration does not give a moment's thought to environmental issues, other than to try to figure out how to drill for oil in Alaska. Beyond that, no administration yet has cared enough about environmental issues, and modern capitalism is absolutely unable to care for natural resources, driven as it is simply by profit.

That said, what is up with this headline? It is, when one thinks about it, unsurprising: the invocation of the "weaker sex" and the helpless child has long been a staple of social advocacy, whether in the fight against false advertising or in the war on drugs. But, honestly, I was unaware that we men have a magical mercury-neutralizing gland that renders us, apparently, "invulnerable" to toxins.

I guess that is good news, for me at least.


Interesting Juxtaposition

Over at Yahoo news just now there are two video links side by side. One is "Bush Marks First Anniversary of Iraq War," and the other is "U.S. Gasoline Prices Hit a Record High."

As I said before, forget "No Blood for Oil." It's "Blood for No Oil."


I Thought the Right Was Against the "Nanny State"

Sheer idiocy:

The Federal Communications Commission admonished U2 frontman Bono and hit radio personality Howard Stern with the maximum penalty allowed in a handful of rulings issued on Thursday.

The FCC decried Bono's use of the phrase "f---ing brilliant" during NBC's live 2003 Golden Globes broadcast, saying the remark violated its rules regarding indecency and profanity. The FCC had previously ruled that Bono's speech was not indecent because his use of the f-word was "fleeting and in a non-sexual context." This week's ruling was a response to a complaint lodged by the Parents Television Council.

The commission went on to warn all broadcast outlets that any future use of the f-word will not be tolerated, but stopped short of issuing a fine in connection with Bono's speech.

Meanwhile, Stern and Infinity Broadcasting — which syndicates Stern to markets across the country — did not get off so easy (Infinity is owned by Viacom, which also owns MTV). The FCC issued a proposed forfeiture of $27,500 (the maximum penalty allowed under law) against Infinity for its broadcast of a Stern show from July 21, 2001.


Continuing to Miss the Point

As I pointed out in a post yesterday, experts are repeatedly asserting the absence of a structured chain of command in Al Qaeda today. Rather, it is a loose affiliation of like-minded anti-West Muslim fundamentalists.

And yet we get this:

Pakistani authorities have said they believe their forces have surrounded al-Qaida's number-two man Ayman al-Zawahri (AY'-muhn ahl--ZWAH'-rhee) near the border with Afghanistan.

The whole thing--along with reports today of a dramatic high-speed escape--makes for good American-style movies, but in reality is virtually irrelevant.


Unmitigated Gall

Of course, it could just be, once again, utter cluelessness, but let's not get into the whole evil-or-stupid argument again:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush told officials from 83 nations on Friday on the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war that differences over the conflict were in the past and urged no concessions in the broader war on terrorism.


"There have been disagreements in this matter among old and valued friends," Bush said. "Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East," he said.

Bush was trying to restore the global unanimity that existed in the war on terrorism before the Iraq conflict that produced a bitter international divide.

Right. The sad fact is that it is probably true that the best strategy this administration can come up with to reach out to other nations is essentially to tell them to suck it up.

And, let us just take a moment and reflect on the breathtaking stability that is Iraq today...


Thursday, March 18, 2004

South Koreans Getting Cold Feet?

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea (news - web sites) canceled plans to send troops to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, citing U.S. pressure to participate in "offensive operations," but still plans to send the forces to help rebuild the country, the Defense Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said it was looking for another location to send the promised 3,600 forces.

Seoul's dispatch, which would make South Korea the biggest coalition partner after the United States and Britain, was scheduled to come as early as next month. But Friday's decision means the mission might be delayed.

Even managing to alienate South Korea further. Now that is impressive foreign policy work. Again, signs about that the Bush administration is just utterly clumsy when it comes to deal with others--with anyone, domestic or international, who does not cave immediately to their demands and their "vision."


The Traitorous Pentagon

The bottom-line pragmatism of the Pentagon must really irk our present White House, which seems to run on faith alone. First, it releases a study showing that we really need to worry about global warming.

And now this:

STOCKHOLM - Despite U.S. government restrictions on stem cell research, the Pentagon has given Swedish researchers $240,000 for a stem cell study of Parkinson's disease because the findings could help treat biological warfare illnesses on the battlefield.

Using human embryonic stem cells, the Swedish scientists will focus on ways to prompt the cells to develop into the type of nerve cells deficient in the brains of patients with Parkinson's. The disease, which is incurable, causes tremors, muscle rigidity and slow movement in its victims.

The Pentagon was interested in Parkinson's disease "because it is seen as a model for neurological diseases that can also be caused by toxic substances in military contexts," researcher Patrik Brundin said.

To coin a phrase, "Why does the Pentagon hate America?"

Link via The Agonist.


Fighting Yesterday's War, Today

Bush's strategy for fighting his "war on terror" (the very term is irritating in its vagueness: how do you make war on a tactic?), even were it not based on the absurd, tragic, and illegal invasion of Iraq, would still be misguided and ineffective. Why? Because Bush continues to focus on nation-states as targets. And even if Bush managed to act sensibly and turn his attention more towards, say, Saudi Arabia, he still would be fighting yesterday's war.

As reported in Time yesterday:

Last week, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate that al-Qaeda has morphed into a loose and expanding association of regional terror cells linked less by chains of command and communication than by a common vision of jihad against the U.S. The growing embrace of the movement's goals and tactics by terror cells with no direct operational connection to bin Laden's network, said Tenet, means that "a serious threat will remain for the foreseeable future, with or without al-Qaeda in the picture."

When terror outrages from Madrid and Casablanca, through Istanbul and Baghdad, to Bali and Jakarta, are described as the work of "al-Qaeda," the name describes a broad franchise of terrorist jihad against the U.S. and its allies adopted by scores of local Islamist groups.

The attack in Madrid seems to underscore Tenet's point strongly. Yes, the US needs to do everything it can to apprehend terrorists planning attacks and yes, the US needs to work hard to disrupt the systems by which terrorists acquire money and weapons.

However, the primary factor fueling the "war on terror" is this "common vision" among those who oppose America. If there is no chain of command, you cannot disrupt the chain of command. To defeat this opponent, we have to break up the "common vision." We have to provide reasons NOT to attack the US; instead, we invade other nations. And the occupation of Iraq, whatever else it does, most certainly provides plenty of reasons TO attack the US, on a daily basis.

Update: The anti-West forces in Iraq, however, seem to be doing a very good job of fighting today's war. As Juan Cole writes:

The recent bombings seem to me driven by a strategy of harming the investment climate in Iraq. This strategy becomes important to the insurgency precisely because the Coalition Provisional Authority is gearing up to spend $5 billion of the $18 billion in reconstruction money that Congress authorized last fall. Many CPA officials are convinced that this huge influx of cash will turn the situation around in Iraq, providing employment and stimulating the economy, and draining support from the guerrillas. But the CPA can't disburse the money into the economy if contractors and subcontractors are afraid to operate in Iraq. The al-Jihad al-Islami of Ayman al-Zawahiri had pursued a similar campaign in Egypt in the 1990s, aimed at destroying the tourist industry, which is a big source of foreign exchange for the Mubarak government. The similarity in methods does not prove that the hotel bombings are being done by foreign jihadi fighters, since it is an obvious strategy for anyone who wanted to disrupt Iraq. Whoever is behind it is using terror to wage economic warfare against the CPA and its Iraqi allies.



NEW YORK (AP) -- Whoever runs for president in 2008 will be covered by Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."

The star of the Comedy Central mock newscast has re-upped for four more years, the cable channel announced Thursday.

"A lot of people like to get out when their show's still going well," Stewart said. "This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground."


Rush Is Getting Nervous

After years in which marijuana, cocaine and heroin were by far the main focus of the nation's war on drugs, the Bush administration is now attacking the rising abuse of prescription drugs.

While marijuana remains the nation's most abused drug, according to government and private studies, narcotic pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin, along with a variety of some other prescription medications, have overtaken amphetamines to rank second.

Actually, the most noteworthy--though unsurprising--thing about this article is the focus on more money for information and for expanded treatment. Compare that with the rhetoric that generally accompanies stories about widespread trafficking in and (ab)use of other drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Then, it is all about more cops and longer sentences. There is a drug class-system in this country, and only certain substance (ab)users deserve treatment; others merit only punishment.


PETA Once Again Manages to Alienate Me

I admit that I am a meat-eater. But I have to add that the ways in which animals are raised and fed and slaughtered by modern agribusiness are both disgusting and unhealthy (Creutzfeldt-Jakob with your burger?), and so I try to buy organic, free range whenever possible (and when I can afford it). So, fundamentally, I am in favor of massive reform to improve the situation of animals; therefore, one might think that an animal rights organization--say, PETA--would work to reach out to people like me who could at least be allies on some issues.

But, well, that just isn't PETA's style:

BERLIN (Reuters) - An animal rights group said on Wednesday it would go ahead with a controversial advertising campaign that likens the slaughter of animals to the murder of Jews under the Nazis despite threats of a legal challenge.

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews, said he would ask prosecutors to raise charges of "inciting racial hatred" against vegetarian group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the advertisements called "Holocaust on a plate."

PETA campaign coordinator Matt Prescott said he was aware of the council's views, but added: "We are not willing to end the campaign." He said he himself was Jewish.

The posters, due to be displayed in Stuttgart from Thursday and in 11 European cities at later dates, show pictures of battery hens packed into cages next to historic pictures of emaciated Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camp bunk beds.


Connect the Dots

I mean, really. How many data points do we need before we have to admit that there is a trend? How many times does this administration need to demonstrate its compulsion to lie?

TENSION BETWEEN THE executive and legislative branches is inevitable, but the Bush administration has tended to treat Congress with an arrogance bordering on contempt. The latest illustration involves the report that the Medicare chief actuary was threatened with firing if he gave lawmakers his analysis of the likely costs of the new prescription drug legislation. The actuary, Richard S. Foster, estimated that the new entitlement would cost far more than predicted by the Congressional Budget Office: $534 billion over the next decade rather than the CBO's $395 billion.

One would expect that this sort of thing would absolutely alienate all of Congress, regardless of party affiliation. Perhaps it may yet...


Happy Anniversary

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least seven civilians were killed in two separate bomb and gun attacks in Iraq on Thursday, doubling the death toll in a bloody 24 hours as U.S. forces prepared to mark the first anniversary of their invasion.

A British military spokesman in Basra said four Iraqis were killed in an explosion outside the southern city's Mirbad Hotel. A child was one of at least two people wounded, witnesses said.

The Basra attack came less than a day after a suicide car bomber killed seven people, including a British engineer, at a hotel in Baghdad on Wednesday evening. U.S. officials blamed that attack on Muslim militants with links to al Qaeda.

Three local employees of a U.S.-funded television station were shot dead at Baquba, northeast of the capital, and two civilians were killed in fighting in another restive town, Falluja. On Wednesday, two U.S. soldiers were also killed.

They still aren't exactly throwing roses at our feet, are they? Seems a very strange way to celebrate their "liberation," doesn't it?


Poland Staying In, But Unhappily

WARSAW (AFP) - In a first sign of official criticism in Poland of the US-led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites), President Aleksander Kwasniewski said that his country had been "taken for a ride" about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in the strife-torn country.

"That they deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride," Kwasniewski said Thursday.

He argued however that it made no sense to pull US-led coalition troops out of Iraq.

Interestingly, his reasoning for staying in is also cast in terms critical of the US:

"If we protest against the United States' dominant role in world politics and we withdraw our troops knowing they will be replaced by US soldiers, what would be the point of such a move?" he questioned.

Sounds like Poland is keeping its troops in as much to try to rein in the US as to control the Iraqis themselves...


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Douglas MacArthur, Wild-Eyed Leftist

The clearest description of the current state of events that I have read in a while comes, oddly enough, from a statement by MacArthur, made in 1957:

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear--kept us in a continual stampede of patriotic fervor--with the cry of a grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”

Strangely fitting. Would that the conservatives of today could see as clearly.


More Good News

SEBASTOPOL, CA (AP) -- In a mostly symbolic vote, the Sebastopol City Council unanimously adopted a nonbinding resolution endorsing same-sex marriages Tuesday night.

The council urged the Sonoma County clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and asked the Board of Supervisors to support civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The resolution also called a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage "discriminatory against gay and lesbian families."


Jonathan Freedland Gets It Exactly Right

Spain got the point

By defaming the Spanish while Madrid weeps, the Bushites display a sneaking contempt for democracy

Read the whole story; it is rather enjoyable to see the likes of Brooks, Sullivan, and Frum treated so dismissively.


Welcome to Bush's America

The only thing more appalling than that the US did this is the fact that I am no longer the least bit surprised:

Month after month they were interrogated, for 12 hours or more at a time, by American security agencies and, repeatedly, by MI5 - in all, they say, they endured 200 sessions each. But when they re-emerged to freedom on Wednesday after two final days of questioning at Paddington Green police station, every apparent shred of evidence had melted away. Iqbal, Rasul and Ahmed, together with the other early arrivals at Guantanamo, had been described by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as 'the hardest of the hard core', lethal terrorists 'involved in an effort to kill thousands of Americans'. Even last week the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was claiming America had been justified in holding them.

Yet despite the denial of legal rights or due process, the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have been forced to accept what the three men said all along - that they were never members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda or any other militant group. The Americans had justified their detention by claiming they were 'enemy combatants', but they were never armed and did not fight.

Is this not, by definition, a "war crime"?

Seriously, go read the full account of their ordeal. Unimaginable.


Forget "No Blood for Oil," Now It's "Blood for No Oil."

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil prices roared to its highest closing price in over 13 years on Wednesday as a drop in already low gasoline inventories sharpened the threat of a supply crunch that could hurt economic growth.


Let's Hear It for Chavez!

I admit to ignorance of Venezuelan politics, but it is good to hear a leader in this hemisphere openly calling Bush's policies into question. Beyond that, though, the tone of this piece on Chavez is bewildering in its blatant bias.

In the latest insult to U.S. policy, Chavez Tuesday said he would not recognize the new government in Haiti, set up with U.S. involvement, and invited ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Venezuela. The White House partly blames Aristide for Haiti's crisis and facilitated his departure last month.

Chavez, who survived a brief coup in 2002, has called President Bush "stupid" and accused the United States of plotting to overthrow him. He actively courts U.S. foes like Cuba and Iran.

I have to say I am with Chavez on Bush's stupidity, and to say that the White House "facilitated" Aristide's departure is a tad precious. But then there is this:

One problem is that Chavez has resorted to a "continued erosion, a decay" of the Venezuelan democratic order, rather than an outright rupture contemplated by the Charter, said Hakim, adding that the press is still free in Venezuela and Chavez is not imprisoning political foes.

"It's just very hard to develop a conceptual basis for national collective action against governments like Venezuela," he said.

One option open to Washington would be to squeeze Chavez with economic sanctions and condemnations, but even that "would not be very fruitful," said Felix Martinez, of Florida International University. He noted that such a policy had failed to remove Fidel Castro from power.

One problem I have with all this is that the article takes it as a given that the US must take actions against Venezuela without making it clear why. The only actions cited are Chavez's attempts to avoid a referendum which could remove him from power--and if the circumvention of the popular will in matters of governance is all it takes to require external involvement, there's one leader much closer to home I'd nominate for an ouster...


An Interesting Twist in Florida

We have all long since become accustomed to the impressive influence of conservative, anti-Castro Cubans on the politics of Florida (and thus, on the politics of the nation). But now, the Haitian coup--I mean, regime change--seems likely to have an impact in November:

Ordinarily, the domestic political consequences of US policy towards Haiti are negligible. But this is an election year and there are thousands of Haitian votes at stake in Florida - the 50/50 state - where any one of the diverse tribes that constitute Miami-Dade County could make a real difference to the outcome.

Many of the 100,000 Haitians here are nowhere near having a vote, but they have a strong sense of injustice. At the North Miami public library, which nestles in a tidy civic square next to the local National Guard headquarters, I come across Roberson Gelin, 23, who has taken out some travel books about Morocco, for a class presentation he needs to make. He is studying for a qualification in "hospitality":

"I think people here are evenly divided over what has happened to Aristide. Haitians expected too much from him, but let's not forget that people in the US are still fighting for real civil rights. There, it's a fight now just to live."


The Nightmare Continues

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A powerful explosion, apparently from a car bomb, went off in central Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 27 people and wounding 40, according to senior U.S. military officials.

The blast virtually destroying the Mount Lebanon Hotel and damaging a number of houses and offices nearby.

Senior U.S. military officials at the scene said 27 people were killed and another 40 wounded. (Map locating blast site in Baghdad)

"It's a scene from hell here," CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf said. (On the Scene: Jane Arraf)

"People are crying and screaming and debris is everywhere," Arraf said.

The blast rocked the area about 8:10 p.m. (12:10 p.m. EST), leaving a large crater in front of where the hotel had stood.

An hour after the blast, smoke continued to billow into the sky as ambulances rushed away with casualties. Rescuers searched amid burning timbers and crumpled brick for survivors.

This in particular caught my eye in the CNN report:

Iraqi police and coalition soldiers cordoned off the area. U.S. soldiers from the nearby "Green Zone" attempted to go into the area to rescue victims but were driven back by angry Iraqis.

US soldiers driven back from a rescue mission. Things are going well, aren't they?


Let's Take a Lesson from the Spanish

Governmental deceit played a large part in the ouster of the old regime in Spain; I suggest that we should follow their lead:

MADRID Interviews with scores of Spanish voters indicate that last Sunday's surprise Socialist victory was a result of a mix of factors that included not only last week's terrorist attack, but the outgoing government's response to it. "The terrorism attack has changed the result of the election, but the people were also deceived by the government, so it's a combination, a mix of the two things," said Elena Roldán, a 28-year-old law librarian who voted Socialist.
It was this sense of having been misled in the emotional days after last Thursday's devastating bombings that weighed heavily on many voters who cast ballots against the governing Popular Party, a strong American ally in the war in Iraq, the interviews show. The government, those voters said, mishandled the crisis most particularly by quickly blaming it on the Basque separatist group ETA, despite mounting evidence that the blasts might have been the work of Islamic fundamentalists, perhaps seeking to punish the country for its stance on Iraq. The sentiments emerged in nearly 100 interviews with proponents of both major parties this week. They present an unscientific snapshot of what may have been behind a 43 percent to 38 percent Socialist victory that surprised experts in Spain and around the world.

It would, of course, be oversimplifying things to liken "Ba'athists" to "ETA," but it could be an enlightening analogy nonetheless...


Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Meanwhile, in the Real World

A new international poll showed anti-American sentiment growing throughout Europe. The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center before the Madrid bombings, also found widespread opposition to the war in Iraq and increasing skepticism in Europe about the war on terrorism.

While the Bush attack team continues to harp on Kerry's supposed comments about foreign leaders supporting him, it is clear--and has it not always been?--that the people of the world have long opposed the Bush adventure in Iraq. I mean, the invasion caused the largest protests in the history of the world, after all...

Meanwhile, are the Dutch eyeing the door?:

"It is important that the world society, international community, stands shoulder-to-shoulder and shows its solidarity to fight against these terrible attacks," Balkenende said. The president also pledged to work closely with Balkenende in his capacity as president of the European Union starting in July.

But Balkenende, seated next to Bush in front of a crackling fire, declined to say whether the 1,300 Dutch troops in Iraq would stay there after June 30, when the United States is scheduled to turn over political power to Iraqi authorities, while retaining U.S. troops there.



A Reminder about Moonie Times Logic

Shorter No Capital: The Washington Times is wrong:

The first step in developing a policy of non-appeasement of terrorists is to understand how the world actually works. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Madrid bombings and the resulting political sea change in the Spanish election three days later, much of the establishment press is blinded to the reality that appeasement emerged victorious in Sunday's election.

The New York Times celebrated the election of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a strident foe of sending Spanish troops to Iraq, as "an exercise in healthy democracy." The Financial Times described the election as "an exemplary display of democratic conviction."

We don't doubt that the election accurately reflected the will of the Spanish people, nor would we urge any government to govern undemocratically. But when people in a democratic country can be intimidated by terrorism, and the policy process manipulated for dark ends, that is not something to be celebrated.

Although public opinion polls showed that a large majority of Spaniards did not favor Mr. Aznar's decision to dispatch troops to Iraq, the consensus of Spanish political analysts four days before the election was that Mr. Aznar's Popular Party would nonetheless win a solid victory. All that turned around after terrorists, apparently linked to al Qaeda, bombed four commuter trains in Madrid, killing at least 200 persons. Fearing the possibility of further terrorist attacks, millions of Spanish voters responded to the slaughter by voting Mr. Aznar's party out of office.

Okay, let us not even get into this notion of "how the world really works," because it just makes the piece look rather ridiculous.

But this last paragraph just begs for comment. Leave off the "although," okay? The majority of people in Spain opposed involvement in Iraq, by a huge margin. If the government reacted to the will of its people, as a democratic government ought, Spain would have had no troops in Iraq in the first place.

Further, how on earth does this columnist know that the vote went as it did because of fear of terrorist attacks? Perhaps it was because the people decided it would be wiser to take a different course of action than that taken by Aznar? Or because they were sick of Aznar's manipulation of the tragedy and his knee-jerk blame of the ETA? Or for reasons of Spanish domestic politics beyond the immediate understanding of a Times columnist?



Republican Non-Solutions for the New Global Economy

Okay, Colin Powell lost all credibility with me a very, very long time ago. But this just has to be called for what it is: a pipe dream.

NEW DELHI, India — Secretary of State Colin Powell said here Tuesday that outsourcing — U.S. companies hiring workers abroad to take the place of U.S. employees — is "a reality of the 21st century," but that India should do more to offset the loss of U.S. jobs by opening its market to American goods.

American capitalism has long been predicated on the ever-freer flow of capital across national boundaries, along with the strict control of the movement of labor. Although this restriction is counter to any pure notion of capitalism, the oppression of "illegal" workers has long been a functional aspect of America's economy.

Bush's recent disingenuous proposals to legitimize illegal workers for brief periods notwithstanding, this policy continues to be a driving force in American policy.

And now, we have Powell suggesting that, while we simply have to accept "outsourcing," India needs to help us out by accepting more US imports? Tell me, if US companies outsource most jobs, how can India's more open trade policies help at all? The products that are then imported by India will very likely be made in countries outside of the United States.

Powell is blurring the lines here. And he is not alone. It is far past time for us to start making very specific note of the difference between the "American" corporation and the American people. Our interests are not simply different, they are contradictory.



Pot, Kettle, and So On

Shall we say it again? Not My Fault.

Amazing. The Bush administration is attacking Kerry for defunding veterans:

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) promised to be a "veteran's veteran" Tuesday as the White House tried to sour his support among a key constituency by airing a commercial accusing him of rejecting funding for soldiers at war in Iraq (news - web sites).

Kerry warned an audience of veterans that President Bush (news - web sites) has misled the country on everything from the war to the economy and had broken promises to veterans needing health care. From the Oval Office on Tuesday, Bush questioned Kerry's own truthfulness by calling for him to identify the world leaders Kerry has said would rather see him as president.



Another Missed Point

Anne Applebaum ponders Spain in the Washington Post:

The war on terrorism, if it is ultimately to defeat not just al Qaeda but al Qaeda's imitators, cannot be only about U.S. national interests or U.N. resolutions. It must also be conducted by an alliance of "stable and free nations" on behalf of "liberty and justice." This is not because we need anyone's approval for our foreign policy -- or because we need "U.N. involvement," as the cliche has it -- but because the values the president sometimes talks about are not just ours, and it is important that our opponents understand that.

In just a few sentences, she reveals the contradiction at the heart of her argument. The "war on terrorism" needs to be on behalf of "liberty and justice." This is because of values that our "president sometimes talks about." I suggest that she instead meditate on the values upon which Bush consistently acts.


One More Time...

the United States goes running to the United Nations for help, despite the tough, macho, go-it-alone leadership of GWB:

The White House said it may seek a new UN resolution that could help persuade Spain not to withdraw its forces, as threatened by its newly elected Socialist prime minister in the wake of a suspected al Qaeda-linked strike in Madrid.

Once more, the theme of the administration, for those who are paying attention, is "cognitive dissonance."


Hesiod Nails Latest Smear Attempt

Pathetic attempt to blame Kerry for 9/11. Amazing, yet true. The depths of Bush's blamelessness are truly astonishing.


More Good News from Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Benton County will become the second county in Oregon to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, County Commissioner Linda Modrell said Tuesday.

The county, home to Oregon State University, follows in the footsteps of Multnomah County, the state's most populous, which has issued over 2,200 licenses to gay couples since March 3.


Firefighters Against Bush

WASHINGTON, DC -- International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, General President Harold Schaitberger told a crowd of more than 800 professional fire fighters from across the nation today that the fire fighters’ union tried to work with President Bush on proper funding of homeland security needs that have forced fire stations to close, two-thirds of America’s fire departments to operate under-staffed, $250 million cuts in the FIRE Act grant program that helps fire departments fund equipment needs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in other reductions in programs for first responders, but President Bush failed to act.



Remind me again why Kerry was wrong to use the word "crooked" with regard to these people:

TV news reports in America that showed President George Bush getting a standing ovation from potential voters have been exposed as fake, it has emerged.

The US government admitted it paid actors to pose as journalists in video news releases sent to TV stations intending to convey support for new laws about health benefits.

Investigators are examining the film segments, in which actors pretending to be journalists praise the benefits of the new law passed last year by President Bush, to see if they could be construed as propaganda.


Are the British Eyeing the Door?

I am not saying this heralds a sudden British departure from the Iraqi snafu, but it does seem that more people are realizing that working with (or for) Bush can be very hazardous to one's health:

Britain's ability to cope with a major terrorist strike was called into question today, as the commissioner of the Metropolitan police warned that such an attack was "inevitable" despite the best efforts of the security services.

Sir John Stevens said while anti-terror officers were "working three times harder than ever" to defend against atrocities such as that committed in Madrid last week, it would be a matter of time before "some sort of attack gets through".

Sir John said: "Since September 11 there have been 520 arrests, half have been charged with an offence and there are 90 about to go through to court.

"We do know that we have actually stopped terrorist attacks happening in London but, as the prime minister and home secretary have said, there is an inevitability that some sort of attack will get through but my job is to make sure that does not happen."

His comments were echoed by London mayor Ken Livingstone, who said at his monthly public briefing that it would be "miraculous" if the city were not attacked.

Britain is widely viewed as the next potential target of al-Qaida or associated extremists following the Madrid bombings, as both countries strongly supported the US invasion of Iraq last year despite fierce opposition across Europe.

Results of a poll released today showed that three-quarters of Britons feel "more vulnerable" to terrorist attack because of the government's decision to join military action in Iraq.

Are we witnessing a global outbreak of common sense? We shall see...



KINGSTON, N.Y. - Two ministers were charged with criminal offenses yesterday for marrying 13 gay couples in what is believed to be the first time in U.S. history that clergy members have been prosecuted for performing same-sex ceremonies.

District Attorney Donald Williams said marriage laws made no distinction between public officials and members of the clergy who preside over wedding ceremonies.

Unitarian Universalist ministers Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey were charged with multiple counts of solemnizing a marriage without a license, the same charges leveled against New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who last month drew the state into the widening national debate over same-sex unions. The charges carry a fine of $25 to $500 or up to two years in jail.

This had to happen somewhere, sooner or later, I suppose. As other civil rights struggles have shown, a crucial tactic is to oppose the law, and get arrested, and keep doing it until people wake up and realize what a stupid waste of time it is, after all.


Honduras Leaving

Does anyone else get the feeling that Spain is like the first guest who dares to leave a really bad party, opening the floodgates for all the other uncomfortable people who have been aching to get away?

Honduras plans to follow Spain's lead and withdraw 370 troops from a Spanish-led humanitarian and peacekeeping brigade in June, Defense Secretary Federico Breve said Tuesday.

The decision marked an about-face from the day before, when President Ricardo Maduro said he would not pull his soldiers from Iraq.

Tuesday's announcement "coincides with the decision of the prime minister-elect of the Spanish government," Breve said.


Kerry Not Backing Down

This is heartening:

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) on Tuesday accused President Bush (news - web sites) of consistently misleading the nation on economic and health care issues as well as on the war in Iraq (news - web sites).

Americans should be able to trust that what the president tells them is true when it comes to our country's economy, when it comes to our people's health, and especially when it comes to the life-and-death decisions of war and peace," Kerry said in remarks prepared for veterans at a town-hall meeting in this battleground state.

"On issue after issue, this president's misleading misstatements have produced a credibility gap as big as the New River Gorge," Kerry said.

Meanwhile, rather than defending his own record, Bush is relying on the "I know you are but what am I?" tactic. Seeking to cast Kerry as deceitful, Bush is demanding that he name the names of foreign leaders who would prefer dealing with someone other than Bush:

In a challenge to Kerry's own honesty, Bush called on Kerry to identify who he is talking about when he claims that some foreign leaders privately support his bid for the presidency. Kerry has dismissed White House suggestions that he is lying if he is not willing to identify the leaders.

"If you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office after meeting Tuesday with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands.

Of course, Kerry is wisely ignoring this attack. Anyone who knows anything about Bush knows that he is vindictive--just ask the Plames. If Kerry came out and answered these questions, he would be damaging U.S. foreign relations further by giving Bush more targets for his petty vengeance. Further, why would Kerry want to betray and alienate foreign leaders with whom he will have to do business after he wins the election? The Bush team knows all this, and so they think they have Kerry in a Catch-22. But, really, they just come off looking pretty silly, since it is common knowledge that this administration is not popular abroad; hell, right wingers often brag that this is the case, proclaiming American arrogance and isolation proudly.


News Flash! Bush Administration Tone Deaf, Ham-Handed

Hardly news, I know, but once again, the question arises, can they do anything right?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington offended Libya with its "dog-and-pony show" display of the north African nation's dismantled nuclear weapons, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.
The White House put on the display for the media Monday of components flown out of Tripoli in late January under a sudden Libyan agreement to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.

"Libya was quite unhappy with this dog-and-pony show because it hurts them domestically (and) in the Arab world," said the senior official close to the U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"It looks like unilateral U.S. disarmament of Libya and Libya wants it recognized as disarmament under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT, and IAEA auspices," the Vienna-based official added.


Monday, March 15, 2004

As Requested by Pandagon

Ezra at Pandagon is right to be incensed about this revelation. The Department of Homeland Security hasn't been this blatantly misused since it was charged with hunting down the Killer D's who were fleeing Texas to stop redistricting...

Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.