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Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Ashcroft Recuses Self from Plame Case

Of course, nothing to see here.

Dean Just Lost Minnesota

(From this CNN article.)

New Look for 2004

It's election year, and what better way to show it than by draping my site in the American flag. (Hey, it worked for FOX News.) I actually like the flag, no matter what Ann Coulter may think, and I hope you like the look of the site.

The Official Jeff Fecke Democratic Nomination Endorsement/Kiss Of Death

I have a bad track record on who I back in the primaries.

The first time I really knew what was going on was 1984, kind of. I may have been 10 years old, but I was also a freak of nature who actually cared about politics. I supported Sen. John Glenn (D-OH), despite being a Minnesotan in the year of Mondale. Glenn, of course, finished about 73rd in the primaries, just ahead of Sen. Alan Cranston (D-CA) and just behind the mayor of Butte, Montana. Thus began my stunning failure to back a winner.

In 1988, I was foursquare behind Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL), who went nowhere. In '92, I was in favor of the late Paul Tsongas (D-MA), and was actually caucusing for "uncommitted" as late as June. Oh, sure, in '96 I backed Clinton, but who else was running?

In 2000, I was behind Gore, but only because Bill Bradley (D-NJ) dropped out two days before the Minnesota caucus. And to compound my failure, I donated money to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during the primaries.

Add it up, and I'm a stunning 1-5, and the one doesn't count. And that doesn't even count my local record, where I have yet to back the ultimate Democratic nominee for Governor or for an open Senate seat. (Again, I backed Wellstone when he was an incumbent, but SFW?)

So who gets the Jeff Fecke kiss of death this year? Who do I back who will inevitably lose in the primaries?

Sorry, General Clark, but you're it.

Wesley Clark is not a perfect candidate, but there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. His oratory lacks panache. He's not awe-inspiring on a one-to-one basis. He's prone to backtracking and making unfortunate statements.

But despite that, he seems to have a handle on what it is to be President. Unlike front-runner Howard Dean, Clark is not the type to use harsh, overblown, blogger-style rhetoric to attack Bush. Instead, he uses the far more deadly reasoned approach, beating our President down without laughing over the corpse.

Moreover, Clark has actual foreign policy experience. Sorry, Deaniacs, but this matters. When Wesley Clark says things like "I worked with other NATO countries to prosecute the war in Kosovo," it says something to voters: this man knows what he's doing. Dean can cite...well, I'm sure there was some sort of Quebec-Vermont thingy going on here or there, but it's just not the same.

Maybe in 1993, when we were well into the "New World Order," this wouldn't matter, but it's 2003, and we're barely two years removed from the most deadly foreign attack on US soil. Gen. Pervez Musharraf (Thug-Pakistan) has just survived two assassination attempts in quick succession. If Musharraf dies, Pakistan--a radical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons with a lot of people who don't like us and the most likely hidey-hole of Osama--will destabilize post-haste. Sound like a fun scenario? You want a guy with zero foreign policy experience holding the reins?

Let me make clear: I'll vote for the Democratic nominee, no matter who he is. (Well, unless it's Kucinich or Mosley Braun or Sharpton, but unless meteors simultaneously strike the six major candidates, that won't happen. Heck, even if all six were hit by busses, Al Gore or Hillary! or someone else would step in.) As Jonathan Chait notes in his Dean-o-Phobe blog, "It's not that I think Dean would be a worse president than Bush--he'd probably be better, although that's extremely faint praise given that Bush is the worst president of the last 80 years." Even Joe Lieberman (R--um, D-CT) would get my vote, even though I'd previously claimed he wouldn't.

But Gen. Wesley Clark is the candidate best suited to beat George W. Bush. And he has my vote.

I'm sorry, General.

With the Economy So Strong, How Can the Democrats Possibly....

Consumer confidence is down.

So are existing home sales and the manufacturing index.

But hey--the economy is great! Clap clap!

Monday, December 29, 2003
Shorter Howard Dean

If I don't get the nomination, I'm running as an independent.

No, really. How else to take this statement?

If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go? I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician.

How about for the goddamn Democratic nominee Howard?

Circular firing squad indeed. And to think I was unhappy when his fellow candidates refused to declare him electable.

Howard Dean is the odds-on favorite to earn the Democratic endorsement. But statements like this one are chilling, and make me feel, more and more, that Howard Dean is not the guy we want going up against Bush in 2004.

Shorter David Brooks

Sure, we didn't plan for what would happen after we won in Iraq, and thank God for that.

Jebus, what a moron.

Clap Clap! I Believe, Tinkerbell!

An analysis of Ebay shows that maybe the economy isn't that great after all. I am stunned.

I'm Adam Yoshida/I'm Adam Yoshida/I'm Adam Yoshida/And I'm F---ing Insane

Sing the above to the tune of They Might Be Giants' "We're the Replacements."

Insane Canadian Adam Yoshida lays out his bizarre, quasi-dystopic Utopia, which proves he's spent too much time reading Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. (Note to Adam: pick up To Sail Beyond the Sunset, which is so poorly written that it should shock you out of the Heinlein-worship you're currently suffering from. Worked for me.)

Of course, we can all be thankful that Utopia literally means "nowhere," as Yoshida posits a future where:

  • Public education is restricted to First, Second, Eleventh, and Twelfth grades, where instruction's main purpose is " provide children with a proper respect for the nation?s institutions and ideals as well as through lessons as to her history: especially the mistakes of the 20th and 21st centuries." (I thought America was incapable of making mistakes! Someone needs to get Adam in touch with Cheri Yecke.) Somehow, for-profit schools bridge the gap, though nobody is denied education for failure to pay--thus proving this is indeed Utopia, as there is precicely 0.00% chance that for-profit institutions will take on deadheaders without government assistance which means schools are (ta-da!) publically funded.
  • 95% of the American economy is service-based, which begs the question of just how many services can be provided without actually making anything.
  • Dueling is back in vogue, and few refuse to fight because "...a general prejudice had developed that any man who refused a duel was a probable homosexual and, therefore, refusals were generally rare and those who refused often fled." I'm going to make this clear right now: I'm not getting involved in a duel, and if you want to think I'm gay because of that, feel free. I'd rather be a live homosexual than a dead straight.
  • Homosexuality is proven to be genetically based, but parents are willy-nilly aborting children who have homosexual tendencies. Of course, one wonders if Adam is now in favor of abortion if it means those queers will be extinct, with their wiles and their "Queer Eye" and their tight, firm buttocks that make him masturbate in shame, but what the heck, it's no less confusing than the rest of the article.
  • Intelligence can be manipulated genetically, and nobody cares--but we haven't whipped aging. (Adam--go talk to anyone involved in genetics, and ask them which we're more likely to figure out first, the fairly straightforward--if possibly impossible to reverse--genetic component to aging or the complex dance that is human intelligence. No, on second thought, don't ask. You won't understand anyhow.)
  • Flogging is back.
  • There's a Libertarian party, a Republican party, and a Christian party, but no Democratic party. Actually, I can sorta buy the Libertarians and the Christians existing--sort of. But not really. And not with a majority Republican party.
  • Environmentalists are foolish. Because I said so!

Ah, Adam. So young. So naive. So freakin' insane. If he didn't exist, we lefties would have to make him up, just like he made up "Schizophreinics for Dean."

Comments Down

Hopefully back up soon.

Nedra Strikes Again

When Howard Dean complains that George W. Bush hasn't released the names of the secret energy task force members, he neglects to mention that the Vermont energy task force also met in secret, except for that one time they met in public, and their names may have been public but so what?

Gotta love Nedra

BSE is here, huzzah!

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, better known as Mad Cow Disease, has reached America. Of course, it's of no danger to you, unless you get its human variant NvCJD, which causes dementia before slowly liquefying your brain.

Where did Mad Cow Disease originate? Well, it comes from the practice of feeding cows...other cows. Now I know, I know, you're saying "Jeff, why would we feed beef to cows? Aren't cows herbivores?" Well, you obviously know nothing of where your meat comes from. Go read Fast Food Nation. I'll wait for you to come back.

Sickened? Yep, me too. That's why I gave up on beef and pork two years ago. (Much as I'd like to, I haven't been able to go vegetarian like my wife. I'd miss turkey too much.)

Will Mad Cow kill millions? It's doubtful. There have been a few hundred cases in Britain, the epicenter of the disease, but not the massive plague many feared. But BSE does highlight the many lesser problems with our agriculture system.

I'm not a luddite. I love technology. I'm even pro-GMO. But what the ConAgras of the world have done to our food supply is nothing short of disgusting. There's not much they can do to vegetables, but the meatpacking industry is a disaster. Never forget that the reason they want to irradiate your food is because they want to be able to worry a little less about spraying fecal matter.

Okay, off to lunch now. Back soon.

Shorter Mona Charen

George W. Bush should've been Time man of the year, not "The American Soldier," because if it wasn't for Bush all those soldiers wouldn't be in harm's way.

Also, Howard Dean is a lying liar for claiming his brother was an MIA/POW, when he was merely a noncombatant American who was missing, and later discovered killed, in Laos.

Hey! That's Cool!

This little blog was "Political Site of the Day" on 12/23!

Aw, shucks guys, I didn't know you cared.

Fire Mike Tice

Vikings fans are the Red Sox fans of the NFL. We know that our team is destined to fail. It's just a question of how.

The Minnesota Vikings have gotten tantalizingly close to glory. They've had four shots at the Lombardi Trophy, and in recent years three shots at the Super Bowl, and they've come up short every time.

To be a Vikings fan is to know that when Drew Pearson pushes off, he won't get called; that when Wade "Whiskey" Wilson fades back to pass with the NFC title on the line, the pass will fall short; that when Gary Anderson, perfect on the season, steps up with a chance to ice a trip to the Super Bowl that the kick will sail wide right; and that when the Vikings just need to hang on for four more seconds against the worst team in professional football to get into the playoffs, they'll find a way to lose.

After Aaron Elling kicked a field goal to put the Vikes up 17-6 yesterday, I turned to the people in the room and only half-jokingly laid out what was going to happen: the Vikings would surrender a touchdown, the Cardinals would recover the onside kick, and Arizona would quash the Vikings' chances for an NFC North title.

So shall it be written, so shall it be done.

So in the aftermath of this debacle--and not just the Cardinals loss; the Vikes finished the season 3-7 with losses to San Diego, Oakland, and Chicago among them--Vikings fans must rise up and demand the firing of Mike Tice.

Mike Tice seems like a nice guy. He certainly is more willing to accept blame than the Sheriff. But he's taken a team that was 3-13 and missed the playoffs all the way to...9-7 and missing the playoffs. If he was coaching in Cincinatti or Detroit, that may be acceptable. But he has an offense with Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and Matt Birk. Sorry, Mike. When your team becomes only the second in NFL history to start 6-0 and miss the playoffs, when your team is the most penalized in the NFL, when you keep a kicker on the roster who you're terrified to let kick, when your team cannot close out a game against the goddamn Arizona Cardinals, you don't deserve to keep your job.

As for me, it's been a rough year for my favorite teams. The Timberwolves lost in the first round--again. The Wild had a nice run, but I'm just not a Wild fan. My Cubbies were five freakin' outs away from the Series with Mark Prior on the mound. The Minnesota Gophers blew a 28-point lead to the Michigan Wolverines that would have secured the Little Brown Jug and a New Year's Day bowl game--if not a BCS bowl game.

Only the Gophers' hockey team did anything to cheer about this year. I guess it's something. And the Cubs do have Prior and Wood coming back, along with Derek Lee and LaTroy Hawkins and a healthy Corey Bradford, and Spree and E.T. seem to be fitting in well with the Big Ticket even if the Candy Man and Wally are out until 2014....

Ah well. Football's over, but there's always next year.

I'm Back

Well, I'm back off my Christmas hiatus. It was a nice break, save for my wife spraining her ankle on our overnight trip to Red Wing. But that's another story. Hope you all had a good holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Space Ship One Goes Supersonic

Space Ship One, a rocket-powered craft competing for the X Prize, went supersonic on her maiden voyage yesterday. The craft reached a top speed of 930 miles per hour. There were no problems in flight, though the craft sustained minor damage after a landing gear collapsed on landing.

The test flight sets the stage for a potential launch into space. To receive the X Prize, a craft must carry three people to an altitude of 328,000 feet, then repeat the voyage within two weeks.

Space Ship One is the first piloted, rocket-powered craft to be built by a private company for its own use. Among the investors in the project is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

9/11 Could Have Been Prevented

What liburul moonbat said that? Michael Moore? Janine Garafalo?

How about former Gov. Thomas Kean (R-NJ), chair of the commission studying the 9/11 attacks?

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.

"There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said.

Of course, we all know that 9/11 was Bill Clinton's fault, because, know, he got oral sex in the Oval Office, or took the "W" keys off of keyboards, or something like that.

Now, I want to make clear that I don't hold George W. Bush personally responsible for 9/11. I don't think the administration would have done things the same if they had it to do over again. But this administration and the majority party have gone out of their way to insinuate--and state--that the Democrats are incapable of fighting terrorism like the big, bad Republicans.

That's a crock. Neither party owns a monopoly on the ability to defend our nation. And neither party--neither party--will do a perfect job of defending our nation. But it bears remembering, next time the Right Wing Wurlitzer gets humming, that the worst terror attack in U.S. history occured on the present administration's watch--and they failed.

I hope we learn from our errors. I hope we do better. And I hope that we can all stop pointing fingers and simply move on together. I doubt it.

Give Me Money

Hi folks. I don't often ask for money on my site--oh, you can click on the Amazon links over on the left side of the page if you want to, but nobody ever does. And the "Bill O'Reilly is a Moron" t-shirts at Cafe Press haven't sold so well at all, either.

But I'm asking today for support for a good cause. The Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government Program is celebrating its fiftieth Model Assembly in January. Youth in Government is a nonpartisan program which allows students in 8th through 12th grades to come up to the Minnesota State Capitol and engage in a simulation of the government, from the Governor's office to the legislature to the courts to the press. It even has lobbyists.

I was a participant in the Youth in Government program, and for the past twelve years I've served as a volunteer. This year, YIG is celebrating with a gala dinner, and I'd like to go and take my wife. Unfortunately, the dinner is $75 per person, and I just can't afford that what with a 16-month-old daughter.

So what I'm asking for is help. If you like the site, take a second to drop some money in the tipjar. The vast majority of the $75 per ticket goes to the Youth in Government endowment fund. Yes, I'll buy tickets with anything up to $150. After that, the balance will be donated to Youth in Government.

So consider donating to a worthy cause--me. And Youth in Government.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
The Truth About WMDs

Thanks, Liberal Oasis, for transcribing this.

Diane Sawyer pressed POTUS a bit on the WMDs. What was his answer? et's go to tape:

(UPDATE Dec. 17 11:45 AM ET -- ABC's site now has a more complete transcript posted, in three parts.)

This is the transcript of what the ABC audience saw. The interview appeared to be edited, and video clips and graphics were interspersed throughout.

It’s long, but worth reading. And more commentary to follow.

SAWYER: 50 percent of the American people have said that they think the Administration exaggerated the evidence going into the war with Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction, connection to terrorism.

Are the American people wrong? Misguided?

BUSH: No, the intelligence I operated on was good sound intelligence, the same intelligence that my predecessor operated on.

The – there is no doubt, uh, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Uh, the – otherwise, the United Nations, by the way, wouldn’t have passed, y’know, resolution after resolution after resolution demanding that he disarm.

I first went to the United Nations, September the 12th 2002, and said:

“You’ve given this man resolution after resolution after resolution. He’s ignoring them. You step up, and see that he honor those resolutions. Otherwise you become a feckless debating society.”

And so for the sake of peace, and for the sake of freedom of the Iraqi people, and for the sake of security of the country, and for the sake of the credibility of international institutions, a group of us moved.

And the world is better for it.

(Bush shows look of self-satisfaction)

SAWYER: When you take a look back --

(Video clip of Dick Cheney saying, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons -- ”)

SAWYER: -- Vice President Cheney said there is no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. Not programs, not intent.

(Shot of Bush shifting in chair, looking a bit annoyed.)

SAWYER: There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary Powell --

(Video clip of Powell at UN saying, “Iraq today has a stockpile -- ”)

SAWYER: -- said a hundred to five hundred tons of chemical weapons.

And now the inspectors say that there’s no evidence of these weapons existing right now.

(Video clip of Bush at the State of the Union address saying, “significant quantities of uranium --”)

SAWYER: The yellowcake in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn’t have been in your speech.

(Graphic of Tenet and the quote “This was a mistake.” Cut to Bush cocking his head, still annoyed.)

SAWYER: Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs, again the intelligence, the inspectors have said they can’t confirm this, they can’t corroborate.

(Video of Bush at the SOTU again, saying, “suitable for nuclear weapons production -- ”)

SAWYER: “Nuclear” suggested that he was on the way on an active nuclear program.

(Bush’s right leg starts to bounce anxiously)

SAWYER: David Kay: “We have not discovered significant evidence of an active -- ”

BUSH: Yet. Yet.

SAWYER: Is it, “yet?”

BUSH: But what David Kay did discover was he had a weapons program. And had that knowledge --

SAWYER: Missiles.

BUSH: Let me finish for a second. No, it was more extensive than missiles.

Had that knowledge been, uh, examined by the United Nations, in other words, had David Kay’s report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in breach of 1441, which meant it was a casus belli.

And, uh, look --

(Bush’s voice begins to rise)

BUSH: -- There’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person. And there’s no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that.

And there is no doubt that the president must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.

(Look of self-satisfaction returns.)

SAWYER: Um, again I’m just trying to ask -- and these are supporters, people who believed in the war --

BUSH: Heh-heh-heh.

SAWYER: -- who have asked the question.

BUSH: Well you can keep asking the question, and my answer is going to be the same. Saddam was a danger, and the world is better off because we got rid of him.

(Raised voice cracks a bit on “rid.” A pause, then Bush shoots Sawyer an exasperated look as if to say “Get it?”, though with a bit of a smile.)

SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

BUSH: So what’s the difference?

(Smile's gone.)

SAWYER: Well --

BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were acquire weapons [sic], he would be the danger. That’s the -- that’s what I’m trying to explain to you.

A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be dealt with.

And it was done after 12 long years of the world saying, “the man’s a danger.” And so, we got rid of him.

And there’s no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.

SAWYER: But, but again some, some of the critics have said this, combined with the failure to establish proof of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there’s just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst. [sic]

BUSH: Y’know, uh, look (shakes head). What (chuckle) what we based our evidence on was a very sound National Intelligence Estimate.

SAWYER: Nothing should have been more precise?

BUSH: I – I – I – I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that the country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.

SAWYER: What would it take to convince you he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction?

BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

(Pause, as both smile.)

SAWYER: And if he doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction --

BUSH: You can keep asking the question. I’m telling ya, I made the right decision for America.

Because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait.

But the fact that he is not there, is uh, means America is a more secure country.

So it doesn't matter whether Saddam had actual WMDs or just programs or no programs, because he was a Bad Guy.

Mitch, I'm sorry to say this: I don't think your President shares your optimistic views about WMDs turning up any time soon.

Jim McDermott is an Idiot

Mitch Berg--heck, all righty bloggers, pundits, and partisans--are blasting Rep. Jim McDermott's (D-WA) stupid comments that Bush had Saddam hidden in his very own hidey-hole, to drag out when the moment was right.

Leaving aside the foolishness of this whole concept--not even the Bush administration is that corrupt--this isn't true precisely because the moment wasn't right.

If Bush was going to reveal the existence of Saddam Hussein, he wouldn't do it on a Sunday, and he wouldn't do it in the middle of the Holiday season. He'd wait until January, when people were starting to pay attention to the Presidential election, or better yet, September 2004.

No, McDermott is the same idiot who claimed Saddam Hussein could be trusted. Democrats everywhere should condemn his statement as the flat-brained drivel it is.

Shorter Ben Shapiro

Unless anti-war folks give money to Oliver North, they Hate America.

Even The Republicans Hate Bush

Orson Scott Card writes an insane article in the Wall Street Journal in which he claims to be a Democrat--a Democrat who believes that electing anyone other than George W. Bush president in 2004 means victory for the terrorists.

Given this definition, Jesse Taylor of Pandagon can see but one option: he is now a Republican.

I think it's great. He's certainly as much a Republican as Mickey Kaus is a Democrat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
An Interesting Post

Winston Smith pretty neatly sums up what many on the left are feeling at the arrest of Saddam:

And now we’ve got Saddam. And he’s going to hang. Something I assure you I’ve dreamt about for a long time. It still bothers me that Pol Pot died of natural causes, bothers me that we were so close to getting him. No, I’m not one of those people sitting around fantasizing about horrific ways to dispatch Saddam—though I predict that there’s plenty of that going on in certain quarters. But I do think that a proper respect for humanity demands that he be executed. Perhaps interestingly (perhaps not) I tend to be against the death penalty under ordinary conditions, but my opposition is based on practical grounds—our system convicts too many innocent people. But I support the death penalty in principle, and especially in cases like this, in which the crimes are unimaginably horrific and there is no question about guilt. But to explain my reasons for this would be beside the point here. What I want to explain here is why I can't be ecstatic about the fact that our boys went over to Iraq and deposed and captured one of the most evil men in the world.

Well, the answer isn’t pretty. Yes, it’s partially about the election. This administration scares me. And it sickens me. I want Saddam dead, but I am terrified at the thought of a second (make that third) Bush administration. I realize that this could be a sign of just how distorted my view of the world has become, but all I can do is call it like I see it. I look at the pictures of Saddam, and, despite intense and long-standing hatred for the man, I am not joyful. What I think about is how easily we were railroaded into a war, and how easy it was to synthesize a made-for-teevee War Chief and to call forth groundless adulation from the populace. I think about how easy it was to lie about even the most important and obvious facts. I think about the hard right, frothing at the mouth and marching in lockstep behind their front man, waving the flag, howling about freedom and justice, half-joking about laying some violence down on those who are insufficiently frothy. I think about the house in my town that was burned down because it had an anti-war sign on it. I think about how the rest of the right puts up with this in silence, and perhaps even with some approval.


So no, I’m actually not in ecstasy about Saddam’s capture. It’s not that I don’t despise the guy, and it’s not that I don’t recognize how wonderful it is that he's history. It’s just that America lost so much in getting here that it’s hard to take excessive joy in it. And one real tragedy here is that we didn’t even give up a lot to get Saddam—we simply lost things, apparently without any real consciousness that we were losing them. We didn’t nobly decide to make sacrifices in order to do what is right and bring down the tyrant. Rather, we were tricked into doing it for craven reasons. Because we were stupid and uninformed, and because we were easily frightened and overly deferential to authority, we allowed ourselves to be talked into going to war. What we did will probably, on balance, have morally good consequences (unless the administration cuts and runs before the next election, that is). But we don’t get credit for those consequences since we didn’t go to war in order to achieve them. If I’m a tad dim and easily frightened and, as a result, I shoot someone who in fact posed no threat to me, then I don’t get any moral credit for shooting him, even if I saved someone else by doing so. If my reasons for shooting were stupid and cowardly, then I’m a stupid coward--no matter what good is accomplished by my bullet. Actions are morally good or bad on the basis of intentions--on the basis of the goals for which they are undertaken--and we undertook this war not in order to bring justice to Iraq, but in order to eliminate a threat our leaders invented almost out of whole cloth.

It's a bit long--heck, what I've posted is a bit long, and it's just a summary--but it's well worth a reading. Like Winston, I was deeply ambivalent about this war--hated Saddam, hated the lying and the shredding of alliances on our side. And like Winston, I'm glad to see the sumbitch gone--and will be fine with seeing him Dance Danny Deever--but that doesn't make me happy about how we got here.

All we can do now is hope that this leads to a settling down in Iraq. It hasn't yet, but we can hope.

This is Disturbing

Via the newly-blogrolled Shock and Awe:

It's great that Saddam's been captured because now the people of Iraq can have the freedom to assemble, protest, and speak their minds without fear of beating from the authorities.

U.S. soldiers Monday used batons to break up a demonstration in Tikrit to protest against the capture of Saddam Hussein near his hometown, witnesses said.

Chanting "We sacrifice our blood and souls for you Saddam," scores of people gathered outside Tikrit university to denounce Saturday's arrest of Saddam, who was born and captured near the town.

"God is Greatest, America is the enemy of all peoples," they shouted with their fists raised.

Shortly afterwards U.S. soldiers charged the protest, beating and arresting some protesters, the witnesses said.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military.

Now, of course, this will probably be interpreted as me being "another Leftie for Saddam!" and people will say I support these guys. In fact, I don't like these idiots at all, and I like Saddam least of all.

However, it's important to note the differences and similarities between this protest and a a previous one.

When the protests are in favor of the U.S. occupation (or, at least, are against terrorism), they are allowed and in fact guarded by the U.S. military. When they support Saddam Hussein, they're put down with violence.

When the protests are pro-U.S., they're widely trumpeted by Glenn Reynolds, and anyone who doesn't mention it is proof of a media conspiracy. When the protests are pro-Saddam, Glenn is oddly silent and refuses to talk about it.

When the protesters are Ba'ath supporters, they get their asses kicked by the U.S. military, and Glenn ignores it. When the protesters are Communists, they enjoy the protection of U.S. helicopters hovering overhead, and they get cheered on by Glenn -- even though Communists are as bad as Nazis.


Around these parts, we don't call that democracy or freedom. We call that "the same thing Saddam did in concept, although far less bloody in degree." It's still suppression of speech.

And it automatically delegitimizes any pro-U.S. activism you may hear about on television, because it becomes clear that the only marches allowed are those favoring the new bosses.

Remember how bogus Saddam's rallies seemed to the rest of us? Because we knew that no pro-U.S. marches would ever be allowed? The same applies here -- an anti-terrorism rally is no longer significant once you become aware that any protests which are too anti-U.S. or pro-Saddam are immediately squelched.

Needless to say, this doesn't augur well for a free and democratic Iraq. Hey, I think Saddam was pure evil, but if we beat down anyone who peacefully supports him--well, that's pretty much anti-American.

But it's pretty Iraqi. So I guess Iraqification continues apace.

"There's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra [sic] race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches." --Strom Thurmond (I-SC), 1948

When Strom Thurmond spoke those words, fifty-five years ago, he did so knowing that there was a twenty-three year old, half-African-American woman out there who happened to be his daughter.

Thurmond gave the aforementioned speech while seeking the presidency as a candidate on the Dixiecrat ticket--a party that was pro-lynching and anti-race-mixing. Yes, we all know that Strom later softened his views on race. Yipee. The fact that Thurmond could turn his back on his own daughter, not to mention a woman whom he had concieved a child with, is unconscionable. As much evil as Strom Thurmond engendered in his life, this may be the most vile thing he ever did.

Of course, ol' Strom would keep fighting against integration into the 1970's, including his record fillibuster of the Civil Rights Act. Yes, by the time Trent Lott committed political suicide by praising Thurmond's record, many had forgotten the ancient Senator's transgressions. But they were there, embodied in the person of Essie Mae Washington-Williams.

Ol' Strom is dead now, and some will be tempted to write this off as a minor footnote on his seventy-five year career. Hogwash. This is everything Strom Thurmond was--a liar, a hypocrite, a racemonger, and a hateful human being. Good riddance. I'm glad the bastard is dead.

Those Evil Euroweenies Are Just Out To--uh--

France and Germany, aka the Enemy of All That Is Right And Good, have agreed to ease the debt burden on Iraq.

I'd credit the diplomacy of the Bush administration--heck, I will credit the Bush administration. The George H.W. Bush administration, that is, because you can thank James Baker for this one. Of course, Baker is basically viewed as daft by the neocons, but he actually succeeded in bringing our traditional allies to the table.

Nice work, James.

Economy So Good! Clap Clap, I Believe In You, Tinkerbell!

Wal-Mart is reporting lower-than-expected sales during the holiday season.

But--but--the economy is super double-plus good! Dear Leader said so!


Via Kos, we get this interesting tidbit:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.

Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.


Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.

"They have not found anything that resembles an UAV that has that capability," Nelson said.

Now, if Iraq had actually had WMDs and the capability to launch an attack on the East Coast, I think I speak for 94% of Americans when I say that war would have been a good decision.

Of course, Iraq had no WMDs and no means of launching an attack against the East Coast, but hey, what do I know?

Gregg Easterbrook Has a Point


Yours truly joins those Arab-world commentators who think it was a mistake for the United States to release film of Saddam having his teeth and hair checked. Maybe the intent was to show the former despot as passive and helpless but, in the tape, it's almost as if a veterinarian is examining an animal at the zoo. This is bound to make many Arabs or Muslims think America enjoys humiliating Arabs or Muslims, and, as it is, half of the distrust between Western modernity and Arabian traditionalism is based on Arab feelings of inferiority. Saddam is a horrible guy, but the United States should be treating him with the respect due the captured leader of an enemy power. In all dealings with the Arab or Muslim world, it is essential that the West show respect.

Something to chew on. I'm not sad for Saddam--but in our glee at catching the bastard, we need to make sure we don't screw up Iraq. Just a thought.

Don't Mess Around in Texas

What a great place to live:

A Texas housewife is in big trouble with the law for selling a vibrator to a pair of undercover cops, and the Brisbane vibrator company she works for says Texas is an "antiquated place'' with more than its share of "prudes.''

Joanne Webb, a former fifth-grade teacher and mother of three, was in a county court in Cleburne, Texas, on Monday to answer obscenity charges for selling the vibrator to undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid.

Webb, a saleswoman for Passion Parties of Brisbane, faces a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if convicted.

"What I did was not obscene,'' Webb said. ""What's obscene is that the government is taking action about what we do in our bedrooms.''

A few questions:

1. Why does anyone care in 2003 what sex toys anyone is buying?

2. Narcotics officers? Was there a secret compartment in the vibrator that you could hide your weed in?

3. A year in jail and a $4,000 fine?

All I know is that the women of Texas should be fairly disgruntled. And I'm not sure given the Lawrence decision how this is remotely constitutional. And, as the president of Passion Parties, Pat Davis, said: "They must have all their street crime under control in Texas if they're going to spend tax money arresting us.''

Monday, December 15, 2003
Shorter Jeff Jarvis

Because Howard Dean said that the capture of Saddam was a good thing that nevertheless didn't make America safer, Dean is in favor of returning Saddam to power.

Shorter Matt Drudge

Some international websites have solicited money for MoveOn, and MoveOn has now said they won't take any more international money. This is an enormous, breathtaking scandal.

Shorter Glenn Reynolds: Indeed.

The Enormous, Monstrous, Incredible Bush Bounce

Is three percent.


From the Unofficial Kerry for President Blog:

It's official: I'm withdrawing my support from John Kerry. No, I'm not running to Dean. If I support anyone at this point, it will be Clark or Gephardt. I still have a tremendous amount of respect for John Kerry and believe him to be the best qualified to be president. If he is the nominee, I will be very happy and will offer my wholeheardest support. But his campaign is just God-Awful. The clincher today was an e-mail I got accusing Howard Dean of this and that. Sure, there may be truth to it, but it's fodder for the Republicans. No candidate is perfect. No one has been consistent on every issue their whole lives. These are human beings. Dean is far from perfect, and Kerry can even point out legitimate policy differences with him. But to start digging up dirt and sending it out under the official auspices of the campaign is too much for me to stomach. It's Republican. And once Dean is the nominee, it'll be in the RNC ads.

That's gotta sting.

Shorter Mitch Berg

By focusing on the political ramifications the liberals prove it's all about politics. And by the way, "In your face, Howard Dean."

Is Dean Toast?

The dumbest bit of political analysis is that Dean now can't win because we captured Saddam. Really? That's it? Capture a bad guy and Dean's raison d'etre dissolves into the vapor? Please. William Saletan--hardly a Dean fan--shows just how dumb that idea is.

The Feckes sponsored by Tostitos

Well, the end of 2003 is drawing near. Everyone else is making their end-of-the-year selections, so as I did last year, I will too.

Rick Kahn Award (for worst political speech)

So many possibilities. The nominees are:

George W. Bush, "Bring 'Em On"

If George Bush's intent was to sound like an ignorant cowboy, he achieved it in spades. If it was to dissuade terrorists, it didn't so much work. Militants in Iraq continued to step up their attacks through the end of the year.

Ari Fleischer, "Yellowcake"

The King of Spin slipped up--and how--when he accidentally admitted that some claims about Iraq trying to acquire uranium were, shall we say, wrong. Suddenly, people realized that the Bush administration may have actually lied about the reason we went to Iraq. Suddenly, Janine Garafalo looked less insane. Suddenly, the anti-war left had a point. And from that moment on, the Bush administration has been on the defensive about Iraq.

Howard Dean, "Confederate Flag"

What Howard Dean meant to say was good. But you can't hang a slider and not expect it to get pounded, and it did. Fortunately for Howard, he had the sense to apologize a few days later, and the story ended.

And our winner is....


The Bush administration Jumped the Shark on May 1, when our President gave his triumphant speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln. Like so many other Bush administration moments, they got a little out ahead of themselves. When soldiers continued to die in Iraq even after the president had declared "major combat over," the American people muttered to themselves. And the president, who had appeared so darn perfect throughout the war, suddenly had a few dents in his verneer. After May 1, the press and the American people suddenly felt free to criticize the president. All because Bush couldn't contain his glee.

Biggest Loss for American Politics


A former Senator from Illinois, Simon was a decent, honorable man who was able to see his opponents as real human beings. There are far too few Paul Simons left in politics, and his voice, his sanity, and his bow tie will be missed.

Honorable Mention: John Edwards. I know Sen. Edwards remains, not just a sitting senator, but a candidate for the presidency. Nevertheless, a man who a few years ago seemed to be the future of the Democratic Party is now below the Sharpton line. He's not running for reelection, and it seems unlikely he'll end up on the national ticket. Edwards is done, and his flameout has been extraordinary.

Biggest Loss for Minnesota Politics


Minnesota politics used to be about compromise. Not anymore. With the hard right taking control of the GOP and the hard left taking control of the DFL, politics now is about rancor and divisiveness, with the citizens of the state of Minnesota suffering the consequences. I, of course, am more apt to blame the Republicans, simply because they control the government, but Attorney General Mike Hatch (DFL-Burnsville) has been happy to inject partisanship into everything he can. The display has been sickening, and one would hope it would end soon. That's doubtful, though. Gov. Timmy remains in thrall to the Taxpayer's league, Commissioner Yecke seems intent on forcing right-wing dogma down the throats of public school students, and Hatch and Pawlenty should feud right through their inevitable electoral showdown in November, 2006. Bring back Al Quie!

Honorable Mention: Snowplows

Best Year Politically (America)


What can you say about a guy who wasn't even on the radar in late 2002, who now has a commanding-if-not-insurmountable lead in late 2003? You can say nice job, that's what. Yes, Dean has benefitted from being an anti-war candidate. More than that, though, he benefitted from becoming the first presidential candidate to truly understand and harness the power of the internet. The Dean campaign is somewhat decentralized, and that has allowed Deaniacs to feel empowered in ways that no other campaign has yet achieved. (Wesley Clark supporters used to, until the Clark campaign decided they needed to seize control from the hoi polloi.) The result? A campaign that is about more than the candidate. Time will tell if Dean can win the nomination, much less the presidency. But his campaign has proven that the internet can be the transformative political tool we've suspected it could be.

Honorable Mention: Wesley Clark. Though he still trails Dean, he is likely the only other Democrat who could win his party's endorsement. And another candidate who was not on the radar in late 2002.

Best Year Politically (Minnesota)


You can question whether Gov. Timmy's policies are good for the state--God knows I have. But you can't question whether 2003 was a good year for the Governor. He achieved just about every objective he set out for, he forced a humiliating capitulation on the Senate DFL, and just as he was looking like a right-wing idealogue, he swung way left with a prescription drug reimportation plan. Of course, time will tell whether the people of Minnesota are comfortable with 60% fewer snowplows during blizzards, 34-student classrooms full of students learning that Vietnam was an unqualified American victory, and libraries that close early on Thursdays. But for now, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the state's big winner.

Honorable Mention: House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon). For the same reasons as Gov. Pawlenty. Sviggum held his House majority together, and proved his skill as a Speaker.

Worst Year Politically


In 2002, George W. Bush won my award for Best Year Politically. Not so this year. The Iraq war turned out to be a debacle for the president--a nice bump that turned into a steady drip-drip-drip of casualties. Not even the late capture of Saddam Hussein can save 2003 for the President. Of course, a year ago GDub was flying high. A year from now he may be again. It all depends on Iraq.

Honorable Mention: John Kerry. What happened?

Best Weblog


There might not be a wittier writer on the left than Jesse Taylor. His smart, sarcastic, biting criticism is a joy to behold. Not to mention that he writes with intelligence and, by God, he's usually right. By adding the affable Ezra Klein (formerly of Not Geniuses) Pandagon sort of has a liberal version of Hannity and Colmes, except that Colmes admits he really agrees with Hannity and offers insightful commentary...well, I guess it isn't like Hannity and Colmes, but it's pretty darn good nonetheless.

Honorable Mention: Talking Points Memo. Joshua Micah Marshall is smart, he's connected, and he's damn good.

My Big Prediction for 2003 in Review

My big prediction for 2003 was:

We will invade Iraq, we will have success, it will be bloody, and costly, but we will ultimately win...only to suffer a terrorist attack at the hands of the not-connected-at-all-to-Saddam al Qaeda. I hope I'm wrong.

Well, no terrorist attacks, at least on American soil. And we haven't won in Iraq yet. But it has been bloody and costly. And al-Qaieda is not at all connected to Saddam. So I think I'm mostly right--more right, anyhow, than those who thought we'd be greeted by Iraqis throwing lotus blossoms.

My Big Prediction for 2004 (Non-Electoral Division)

Things will continue in Iraq much as they are now, even with Saddam's capture. Osama will remain free. al-Qaieda will strike elsewhere in the world, but not in the United States. Iraq will destabilize after America tries to pull some troops out in June, causing us to delay the transfer of power to Iraq.

My Big Prediction for 2004 (Electoral Division)

Howard Dean will gain the Democratic nomination, and select former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) as his running mate. Ralph Nader will run for President. The Democrats will narrowly retake the Senate, but the GOP will continue to hold the House. And the Presidential election? That will be as follows:

BUSH/CHENEY [I](R) 49% 255
DEAN/CLELAND (D) 49% 283

Headline You Will Never See

Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq

And Finally:

The Chicago Cubs will finally shake off the curse of the Billy Goat, defeating the Boston Red Sox four games to two in the 2004 World Series.

The Twelve Posts of Christmas

December is here. Time to look back on the year that was. I've decided to highlight one of my posts from each month of 2003--three a day over the next four days, until I go to light posting over my Christmas vacation. Here are excerpts and links for January, February, and March:

January: Is Norm Coleman (1997 ver.) Back?

I've been pretty critical of the Junior Senator from the Great State of Minnesota, so it behooves me to recognize the guy when he does something right. Norm Coleman has joined with a group of moderate senators to craft an alternative to the Bush tax cut. The money quote: "Without stronger justification, certainly the dividend piece of this package is problematic. The administration has to make a stronger case, has to do a better job, or else it will be very difficult getting this package through the Senate."

February: Arrogance?

Allegedly, a CBC interviewer is blaming American arrogance for the destruction of Columbia.

Well, if this is arrogance--exploring space for science, pushing the envelope of the human experience, doing what our species has always done--then I support it. If it is arrogant to want to learn, we are arrogant. If it is arrogant to want to explore, we are arrogant. If it is arrogant to risk our lives for the possibility of a better future for all mankind, we are arrogant.

March: We aren't losing. But we aren't winning, either

So let's say we magically remove Saddam next week, and then it's just a matter of mop-up operations. Are the irregulars going to lay down their arms, once they're free of the iron boot of Saddam Hussein?

Please. We know the answer to that. Like any good guerilla insurgency, from Palestine to Vietnam to Revolutionary America, they will keep fighting, and keep dying, ad infinitum, waiting for us to capitulate. Our occupation of Iraq will not be bloodless and fun; it will be bloody and difficult.

If we had the support of the world, it would be different. The guerillas are less likely to attack Saudi peacekeepers than they are British Marines. Indeed, with support from NATO, the casualties would be spread throughout our allies.

But of course, we don't really have that many allies this time. This is a war of the Yanks, Brits, and Auzzies (with a few Poles thrown in). And it will be our sons and daughters who die.

April, May, and June tomorrow.

You Can't Trust Saddam

Will Saddam pull Bush's cajones out on WMDs? No.

Saddam was also asked whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. “No, of course not,” he replied, according to the official, “the U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us.” The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: “if you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?” Saddam’s reply: “We didn’t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.”

Let me make clear: I don't trust Saddam either, and he was rambling a bit (when asked if he wanted a drink of water, he replied, "If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?") But the best thing Saddam could do for GDub is to say, "Yes, we had biological weapons, and they're buried on the farm in Tikkrit where I was." It doesn't look like he's going to.

Josh Weighs In

Josh Marshall's thoughts:

Yet, looking forward from today, there is one fundamental question: was Saddam Hussein central to the guerilla war or resistance fighting in Iraq? Either operationally or as a symbol (the person they were trying to put back in power)?

I've never thought either was true. And if it's not, then his capture should not fundamentally change the situation on the ground in the country.

From the beginning, I think, we've explained to ourselves that the reason the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq hasn't gone according to plan is that the resistance is being run by Saddam or his people or that the Iraqis won't get down to work on rebuilding their country until they're sure Saddam isn't coming back, until the veil of fear is lifted, etc.

In other words, they're not acting like they're liberated because, in a sense, their liberation is not complete.

This after all was the reason for making such a show of the deaths of Saddam's sons -- as a symbol that any sort of dynastic hand-off would be impossible.

That, again, was the idea. But I don't think we've seen any real evidence that it's true.

There's no question most Iraqis hate Saddam. But since the invasion I think Saddam has been mainly a thing of the past. The problems we face on the ground in Iraq are ones of the present.


Shorter Considerettes

Because some anti-war folks aren't unquestioningly happy about Saddam's capture, they Hate America.

Joe Lieberman is an Idiot

When Instapundit quotes you favorably, you're done:

This news also makes clear the choice the Democrats face next year. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place.

And if we hadn't gone to war, 400 Americans would be alive today who are not. We'd have better international relations. We could go after a real threat like North Korea.

The circular firing squad helps one person: George W. Bush. Shut up, Joe. We're glad Saddam is caught. So, incidentally, is Howard Dean.

The Capture of Saddam

Well, I was busy this weekend, what can I say? I probably should've blogged this yesterday, but instead I spent my time trying to clean my house, help my wife make cookies, watch my daughter, and go shopping.

That said, let me preface my remarks by saying this:

I'm glad we caught the sonofabitch.

Saddam Hussein was an evil guy. He was the kind of thug all to common in the history of the world (and, sadly, in the world today). I'm not sorry to see him captured, and there was certainly an element of schadenfreude in seeing his disheveled, Messopotamian-version-of-Charles-Manson look. I don't feel bad for Saddam, and I hope justice is served.

And yes, I know this is probably a boost for George Bush, at least for now, and so what? People who want the war in Iraq to go badly to Bush gets ousted are sick. I want the war in Iraq to go well and our president to get ousted and given the choice of only one, I'd choose the former.

But let's be clear: this isn't going to make much of a difference either way.

Yes, I'm happy Saddam has been captured, and maybe a few Ba'athists here and there are going to lay down their arms because of this, but forgive me for not thinking that's likely. I've actually heard analysis that this may unify the insurgency--heretofore divided between pro-Saddam loyalists and Iraqi Nationalists--along one common ideological line. Certainly, attacks have not ceased with the capture of Saddam, nor are they likely to. (Brief credit where credit is due: President Bush yesterday proved he are learning: his speech emphasized that attacks were likely to continue. Good for him for not lying--for once). I hope that the insurgency ends, and soon, but I doubt it will.

And of course, happy as we all are to see Saddam in custody, it's not going to matter much to the Americans, the Iraqis, the French, or anyone else if the situation in Iraq remains unstable.

What to Do With Him?

Of course, now comes a difficult decision for the U.S. What do we do with Saddam? Capturing him alive made things difficult. If we turn Saddam over to the Iraqis, or try him ourselves, there is going to be instant doubt cast on the proceedings. Obviously, an American trial of Saddam will be seen as a mere show-trial, with the outcome preordained and any evidence--especially any convenient WMD evidence--seen as faked. Such a trial, leading to Saddam's execution, may be satisfying to the president and a certain segment of Americans, but it would be devastating to our image worldwide and destabilizing to Iraq. Similarly, an Iraqi trial, while seemingly more appropriate, is little better. The court trying Saddam would be set up by the IGC, which is already seen as an American puppet organization. A trial under IGC auspices is scarcely different than a trial by Americans.

So who does that leave? We could leave Saddam in limbo for a year until Iraq has some semblance of home rule, but that seems impracticable. The best solution would be to turn him over to the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague, where enough evidence of War Crimes exists from the Iran-Iraq War alone to put Saddam away forever. This, of course, would have a number of salient side benefits: by sparing Saddam's life, we could probably exact some statements calling on his countrymen to cease their attacks. And by internationalizing the trial, we could start rebuilding international institutions that have been damaged.

Of course, I expect a trial in The Hague to happen approximately never. Pity, that, as any court competent to try Slobodan Milosevic is competent to try Saddam Hussein. (Indeed, I bet Slobo and Saddam would get along famously--evil bastards each.)

The Political Fallout

Conventional wisdom, of course, is that this secures the election for GDub. How, the reasoning goes, can anyone stand against George II's might?

I'm not so sure.

Look, this is nice for George, and I'm sure he'll get a bump--though, it should be noted, in a snap poll after Saddam was captured, the bump was only 4%.

But Bush got a bump after the deaths of Uday and Qusay. And he got an enormous bump after the fall of Baghdad. Bush gets bumps all the time.

The question is not whether the capture of Saddam gives Bush a bump in the polls. It's whether it leads to anything meaningful.

If Iraq stabilizes now, it will help Bush. But if Iraq does not stabilize, it could make things even worse for Bush, as he'll no longer be able to claim that it's just scattered Saddam loyalists trying to regain power that are causing the problems.

There is one more thing that could help Bush. Saddam could say something about WMDs or ties to al-Qaieda. That would certainly help the administration justify the war. But the fact that Bush today was saying you can't trust Saddam leads me to suspect that he isn't giving any useful information--at least, not useful in the sense that it would help W.

The End of the Middle

The capture of Saddam is swell, and I'm happy to see it. It ends another chapter in Gulf War II: The Vengeance. But it doesn't end the war, any more than the fall of Baghdad did. As much as I hope for a speedy resolution in Iraq, I don't see it. I hope I'm wrong. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 11, 2003
I know it's not as important as a march of 10,000 folks, but....

The first new battalion of the Iraqi army has collapsed, with about half of new recruits resigning.

Iraqification continues apace....

We Now Pause for a Google Bombing....

This man is unelectable.

Heh. Indeed. Read the Whole Thing

Kynn over at Shock and Awe has caught the good professor in a wee inconsistency.

But of course, this is completely different,


This Just In: There Is No Such Country as Krebplakistan

CNN goes out of their way to report that there are no such thing as "sex bracelets."

There's a war on in Iraq, people!



Josh Marshall sez:

Read this lede from an article in the Times and tell me with a straight face that these guys have any idea what they're doing ...

President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon excluded those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects.

White House officials were fuming about the timing and the tone of the Pentagon's directive, even while conceding that they had approved the Pentagon policy of limiting contracts to 63 countries that have given the United States political or military aid in Iraq.

I mean, it defies ridicule (what will I do?). The tone? How were they supposed to sugar-coat it?

I thought the initial plan was boneheaded--after all, how is our national security improved by keeping Canada out of Iraq? (God knows what those flapping-headed canucks might do if they got a contract to rebuild roads! We must stop the Canadian Meance at all costs!) But doing this the day before GDub was going to have to call to beg other leaders to help out our puppet state new colony Vietnam II: The Glory friends in Iraq? Really stupid.

And then backing off that decision? Epically stupid.

Two things have now been conclusively proven:

1. Condi Rice is in waaaay over her head. It's the National Security Advisor's job to bring State, the CIA, the DOD, and in this administration, the OVP together to create a consistent foreign policy. This administration has four or five very consistenf foreign policies where it should have one.

2. The Bush administration is just plain bad at foreign policy.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
The Stephen Glass School of Blogging

Roger Ailes points out a something odd about one of insane twit Adam Yoshida's posts:

Take this December 6 post from Yoshida, quoted in full here:

Schizophrenics for Dean

The perils of having too many supporters:

hope that you will see fit to visit this blog over the course of the campaign to hear the voice of the mentally ill, which is so often ignored in our society. As you will see, the voices of the mentally ill, from New York City to Los Angeles, are lined up behind Governor Howard Dean!

posted by Adam at 15:35 PM

Get it? Schizophrenics support Howard Dean! You'd have to be mentally ill to support Dean! Ahaha!

If you check out the linked site, you'll see the post quoted by Yoshida was created just 16 minutes before Yoshida's post. It takes an eagle eye to find new sites so quickly. And look! The author of the Schizophrenics for Dean site is also named Adam! What are the odds of that?

I wonder if Adam did the web design for Jukt Micronics?


I doubt Rick Santorum is thrilled with the new definition of santorum, but then again, he is pretty distracted by man-on-dog sex.

Note: links above lead to a site run by Dan Savage (of Savage Love fame) which is not for the squeamish. It is pretty damn funny.

While you're at it, why don't you buy Savage's fine book,Skipping Towards Gomorrah. Or, for that matter, anything else you want at I get a cut, you pay no more, everyone's happy.


Howard Dean claims that he is a Doctor, but in fact he was unavailable yesterday to make a house call.

Al Sharpton claims he is black, but a careful analysis of Rev. Sharpton's skin color reveals it to be a dark brown.

John Kerry claims that a couple can't shower or drink water from their polluted well, but they actually can shower now that they've connected to city water. But they still have to drink bottled water.

Joe Lieberman claims that three million jobs have been lost during the Bush administration, but neglected to note that almost 57,000 jobs were created last month.

Wesley Clark said that the war in Iraq was a bad thing, but look at the schools we're building!

George W. Bush claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Hmm...can't see anything wrong with that statement.

Read the piece of dreck that inspired this little rant. Oh, AP, not you too.

Liberal media my ass.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Former Senator Paul Simon (D-IL), the first Democrat I ever supported in a Presidential primary, died today at age 75.

Thanks, Senator. I'll be wearing a bow tie just for you.

Shorter William Saletan

If Al Gore endorses Howard Dean he hates democracy.


This makes no sense. None. Whatsoever. Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean, and that will help Dean. A lot. But no votes have been cast yet, and Al hasn't unilaterally suspended the primaries. He just endorsed Dean.

Here's what Al Gore's endorsement means: If you like Gore, you should be more inclined to vote for Dean.

That's it.

Don't be mad just 'cause Dean looks to be running away with it.

Who Will Be The First To Be Eaten?

You're probably familiar with the work of insane nutjob "Christian" Jack Chick. Chick, of course, is famous for such "enlightening" works as Dark Dungeons (which is totally unrealistic because, as all D&D players know, there usually weren't any girls there), and my personal fave, Big Daddy?, in which Jack Chick manages to get basically everything about evolution completely wrong--and, incidentally, the only person who doesn't believe in evolution just happens to be the only white guy in the room.

Here's a typically balanced Chick panel:

Chick is, of course, infinitely skewerable, so it's always nice when someone does it. Like this crossing of Jack Chick and H.P. Lovecraft.


Monday, December 08, 2003
Janklow Guilty of Manslaughter

After five hours of deliberation a jury has convicted Rep. Bill Janklow (R-SD) of manslaughter, running a stop sign, and speeding in the death of a motorcyclist. The conviction carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison.

Janklow, the former Governor of South Dakota and a man touted as a possible challenger to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, will likely face expulsion by the House Ethics Committee.

The jury rejected Janklow's claims that he was suffering from a diabetes-induced fugue state and missed the stop sign.

Randy Scott, a 55-year-old farmer from Hardwick, Minnesota, was killed when his motorcycle collided with Janklow's car. Janklow ran a stop sign and crossed in front of Scott. Police indicated that Janklow may have been traveling as fast as 71 miles per hour when he ran the stop sign.

Janklow had a history of reckless driving, including several speeding tickets in the years before he became Governor.

FINALY111111 OMG WTF LOL U1!!!!!!!




Gore to Endorse Dean

The story:

Former Vice President Al Gore intends to endorse Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination, a dramatic move that could tighten Dean's grip on the front-runner position.

Gore, who won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote in the disputed 2000 election, has agreed to endorse Dean in New York City's Harlem neighborhood on Tuesday and then travel with the former Vermont governor to Iowa, site of the Jan. 19 caucuses that kick off the nominating process, said a Democratic source close to Gore.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Dean will return from Iowa in time for Tuesday night's Democratic debate in New Hampshire. Dean's campaign declined to comment on Gore.

This race isn't over, but it's sure feeling like it is.

Look, I'm a Wesley Clark supporter, but can anyone tell me what's going to stop Howard Dean? No, not you Senator Kerry--you obviously have no idea. Anyone? No?

More and more, it's looking like a Dean/Bush/Nader race. And maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's a good thing.

As for Gore's endorsement, it's a sign the guy who lost the presidency in a 5-4 vote is finally starting to regain the political acumen that seems to have been missing since, oh, 1999 or so. I've said before that Al is not done. Endorsing the guy who has to be considered a prohibative favorite for the nomination makes him less done.

I'll be caucusing for Clark. But I caucused for Tsongas in '92 and Bradley in '00 and that didn't work. (Heck, in '88 I supported Paul Simon, though I was too young to vote. I don't have a great track record in the primaries.) Howard Dean is probably going to be the guy, and the sooner we all put down our rifles and disband the circular firing squad, the better.

The Military (Hearts) GDub

Via Atrios, we get this cheerful letter from Spc. Damian Torres, obviously someone who hates freedom:

So the boss came to visit us on Thanksgiving, under wraps and under the American flag. Thanks for coming. Oh thank you, kind leader, merciful leader, for taking one day out of your busy schedule to visit us. The shepherd looking over his flock. Thanks for making the sacrifice. God knows we’re making one. Re-election is coming up, but that had nothing to do with it, now did it?

I remember your victorious landing on the ship. Oh how all those then alive, and now dead, would love to sit down next to you, cutting their families’ turkeys and filling the empty seats at the tables. Leader of the free world, be our guest at the head of our table. Or would you like to sit in one of the many empty seats left by the war? There’s plenty of room. Enough turkey and stuffing to go around. Fat and happy, delirious and exhausted. That’s how I feel.

In a hurry? Going so soon? Have time for questions? You sure do have time for compliments. Do you ever feel responsible? I’m tired of this. Go back home to the ranch and tell them how happy and fulfilling the trip made you feel.

Spc. Damian Torres

But look at all the schools, Specialist Torres! And...and...the Hospitals! Yeah, that's it.


John Kerry said "Fuck."

You're fucking kidding me, right?

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Any college football fan--outside of Norman, Los Angeles, and Baton Rouge--has to be thrilled with Saturday's results. With LSU and USC winning--and Oklahoma getting spanked--you have the following probable scenario (almost certain, should Boise State beat Hawai'i tonight. Don't ask.):

USC should ascend to the top spot in both polls thanks to their convincing win and Oklahoma's even more convincing loss. LSU also should rise off of their convincing win over Georgia. Thanks to their loss, Oklahoma will fall in the polls, but should not fall past #3.

But here's the clinker: in the BCS standings, Oklahoma may fall to number two, but almost certainly no lower. They may even stay #1. Should Boise State win (and thanks to a Syracuse win over Notre Dame), LSU will probably be #2, maybe even #1. USC will actually fall in the BCS standings to #3.

So you'll have a national championship game between the #2 and #3 teams in the polls, while the #1 team goes and plays somewhere else, most likely against Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

While it would do my heart good to see a Big Ten-Pac Ten matchup again in the Rose Bowl, it would be ridiculous. And it would set the stage for a split national championship--the very thing the BCS was supposed to prevent.

Even if USC manages to get into a championship game against Oklahoma, it's questionable whether the Sooners (only loss to #16 Kansas State) deserve to be in there instead of the Tigers (only loss to #7 Georgia--a loss they avenged tonight).

So the BCS is in tatters, the #1 team might not even play in the championship game, and the best case scenario is that a deserving team is going to get screwed.

For those of us who want an actual tournament to decide these things, you couldn't come up with a better situation.

CORRECTION: LSU's loss was to #17 Florida, not #7 Georgia.

The Moon Shall Rise Again

Every so often, our fair President does something good. This is one of them:

The Bush administration is developing a new strategy for the U.S. space program that would send American astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 30 years, according to administration and congressional officials who said the plan also included a manned mission to Mars.
A lunar mission - possibly establishing a permanent base there - is the focus of high-level White House discussions on how to reinvigorate the space program following the space shuttle Columbia accident this year, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The failure of our nation to capitalize on our Apollo missions by expanding our presence on the Moon is one of the enduring tragedies of the Space Age. Building some sort of permanent station on the lunar surface would be the necessary first step in our species' conquest of space. (It would also make a trip to Mars decidedly cheaper).

Of course, Insty echoes my fears:

Permanent human presence on the Moon: great. Big NASA project that NASA will screw up: not so great. Likelihood of getting the latter: high. Likelihood of getting the former: Not as high. Likelihood of getting the latter without the former actually coming about: highest.

Exactly. Apollo II: The Return is pointless if we don't establish something more.

(Did I just praise George Bush and link approvingly to Instapundit? Yeeks, I must be coming down with something....)

"If the nominee is Howard Dean...."

Josh Marshall:

I had lunch today with someone who is not a politician but a fairly prominent Washington Democrat -- certainly not someone from the party's liberal wing. And in the course of answering a question, I said "If it [i.e. the nominee] ends up being Dean ..." At which point, with the rest of my sentence still on deck down in my throat, my friend shot back : "It's Dean."

It was effortless. He wasn't happy or sad about it. He wasn't trying to convince me -- more like letting me in on something I apparently wasn't aware of yet.

With his new commanding lead in New Hampshire and slight lead in Iowa, Howard Dean certainly seems to be the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nod. So it's time to reset with Who's Up, Who's Down, and Who's Out.

Who's Up

Howard Dean

Has there been a better-run primary campaign in the last twenty years? Even Dean's missteps don't seem to hurt him. He's already starting to moderate for the General. He's got a truckload of cash on hand, and more every day. And while he's painted as a crazy lefty by those on the right, his plan for Iraq is more sustainable than the current Bush administration plan.

Dick Gephardt

Up by default. He is neck and neck with Dean in Iowa, and that makes him one of two credible candidates to challenge Dean. But a staffer issued a veiled threat to labor, which won't help. Still, he's not in freefall, and that helps. I guess.

Who's Down

Wesley Clark

Clark seems to be getting better on the stump, but he's going to have to get going soon if he hopes to compete with Howard Dean. He'll survive Iowa and New Hampshire because he's not competing there. But if he doesn't win South Carolina, and win it convincingly, he's got no shot.

John Edwards

Really hasn't done anything. I don't get it, but I think he's done. I'm not quite ready to stick a fork in him, though.

Who's Out

John Kerry

It's been a nice run, but Sen. Kerry, you're toast. You've dropped from neck-in-neck in New Hampshire to thirty points down in a matter of months, your appearance on Leno was painful, and you're running out of money. It's not going to happen for you this time. Better to pull out now and save yourself the embarassment.

Joe Lieberman

He never really had a shot, and I just don't think the party is looking for a New Democrat this time around. Does anyone think Lieberman can win the nomination? No? Me either.

Al Sharpton

Can anyone explain to me why Al Sharpton is hosting Saturday Night Live? Oh, right, because he's a big joke. He's the B-1 Bob Dornan of this year's campaign. I'm just hoping he'll reprise Dornan's "Bob, is that your wife Liddy? Knockout!" line from the '96 New Hampsire debate.

Carol Mosley Braun

Best line of last week came from Steven Colbert on The Daily Show, interviewing former candidate Bob Graham: "So, now that you've dropped out of the race, who will you still beat? Carol Mosley Braun?"

Dennis Kucinich

I'm just bored with Dennis Kucinich. Yeah, you're a wacky liberal. Good for you.

Power Rankings and Odds

1. Dean (2) 2-5
2. Gephardt (3) 8-1
3. Clark (1) 9-1
4. Edwards (6) 50-1
5. Lieberman (5) 75-1
6. Sharpton (7) 100,000-1
7. Kerry (4) 10,000-1
8. Kucinich (9) One Google-1
9. Braun (8) One Googleplex-1

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Death Penalty DOA

Gov. Timmy's dreams of a pro-Death Penalty Minnesota are likely dead just a day after he broached the subject, as both DFL and Republican legislators responded tepidly to the suggestion that capital punishment be reinstituted.

Pawlenty faced an uphill battle in the DFL-controlled Senate in the first place, but it can't help when Senate Minority Leader Dick Day (R-Owatonna) also comes out the bill, calling himself pro-life across the board. Meanwhile, House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon) responded to the proposal by saying "I would tell you that there is nothing that puts it at the top of our agenda. It was kind of laid out without any discussion or notification. But if the governor introduces it, I would guess that it would come to a vote."

Of course, the current proposal by Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) lacks even a Senate sponsor (though if he dresses it up as a constitutional amendment, presumably Sen. Michele Bachmann [R-Stillwater] would back it).

All in all, it looks like there's virtually no chance of Minnesota becoming a death penalty state. Not that that will save Anthony Rodriguez, Jr. from death.

Attorney General John Ashcroft (R-The Left Hand of God) has been seeking to certify a death penalty federal case in the twelve states that lack the penalty. Should Dru Sjodin be found dead in Minnesota, the case would be federal. And there's little doubt Ashcroft would seek death. (Indeed, some experts indicate the feds could claim jurisdiction even if Sjodin is found in North Dakota).

Not That Jesse Needs My Link....

But Twenty Most Annoying Conservatives 2003 is up!

My fave:

4. Ann Coulter

I’ve come up with two possible explanations for the existence of Ann Coulter. Either she’s the insane, alternate-reality version of Eddie Izzard, from a universe where biting, clever stand-up is replaced with blood-red anger, or she is Vultron, the shrewish, mentally unbalanced version of Voltron constructed of five bitterly angry gnomes, all of whom, for some unknown reason, have shaggy pageboy haircuts.

This has actually been a light year for Coulter, having eschewed her normal battery of mind-warping television and newspaper interviews, and instead sticking to writing an apologia for McCarthyism, as well as her smattering of columns blaming Democrats for her bunions. What she lacked in quantity, she more than made up for in…being evil. Treason (which, by the way, was handily outsold by Hillary Clinton’s Living History) was a redaction of history that managed to blame liberals for everything since 1945, from Communism to terrorism to not letting one of the greatest threats to the Constitution in American history do his great work – Joseph McCarthy.

Her magnum opus managed, in the space of less than 300 pages, to turn the proud history of post-New Deal liberalism into the greatest threat to national security since the Axis powers. All that’s required for this bit of rhetorical excellence is to lie. A lot. Sparing nobody, virtually every liberal from Molly Ivins to Jimmy Carter has in some way worked to undermine America’s national security, which is bizarre in the sense that a coordinated movement of tens of millions of people working against America
must either be incompetent or nonexistent if we haven’t destroyed the place in the past 60 or so years.

Ann Coulter hates you. And she’s proud to admit it. Oh, and she hates Japanese people, who she called “savage oriental beasts”. And Arabs, who are “smelly”. Coulter’s world isn’t black and white – it’s white and fuck you.

Heh. Indeed. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Ten Worst Movies of All Time

Charles Kuffner has His. Atrios has his. Here's mine:

10. Born Yesterday

Melanie Griffith plays an idiot--not exactly a stretch. But this movie basically says that it's okay for a journalist to kill a story on an evil guy as long as he pays you a lot of money to tutor his dumb wife.

9. Soul Man

Where have you gone, C. Thomas Howell, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you...woo-hoo-hoo....

A white man puts on blackface to get into Harvard. Hilarity ensues. James Earl Jones is embarassed.

8. Dr. Suess' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I still haven't forgiven Ron Howard for his obliteration of the wonderful Dr. Suess story. It's all wrong. The Grinch is a sympathetic character, rather than a malevolent force. The Whos are such jerks that you're glad the Grinch steals all their stuff. And they're swingers, too. Jim Carrey was the right person to play the Grinch, but even his ebulience can't save this bit of dreck.

7. Problem Child

God rest the soul of John Ritter, but he was in one of the worst movies in the history of mankind (two, actually, as he actually made a sequel to this piece of crud).

6. Highlander II: The Quickening

So you've put together one of the greatest science fiction movies ever in Highlander. What do you do now? Ah yes, completely scramble any semblence of your original premise, make your hero a kind of bad guy, bring back Sean Connery for his "contractual obligation" appearance, and ignore the laws of physics. Oh, and make all the immortals aliens. "There Can Be Only One" applies here in spades.

5. Skyscraper

Anna Nicole Smith stars as a tough helicopter pilot in a skyscraper besot by terrorists...oh, hell, I can't even type that sentence without laughing.

4. Cop and 1/2

Burt Reynolds gamely tries to resurrect his career in this aggressively un-funny movie about a cop and his half-pint sidekick.

3. Striptease

Burt Reynolds gamely tries to resurrect his career in this aggressively un-funny movie about a stripping Demi Moore. (Even that couldn't save it.) All you have to know about this movie is that it was originally supposed to be a drama, until test audiences laughed uproariously at it. A few goofy musical cues later, and it's a "comedy." Blech.

2. A Stranger Among Us

Melanie Griffith makes her second appearance on this list, this time as a tough-talking cop who's undercover in an Orthodox Jewish community. Or as many a wag has dubbed it, Witless.

And the worst movie of all time is....

1. Eyes Wide Shut

Stanley Kubrick died of embarassment. My wife and I came across this movie one night, and every ten minutes, one of us would say, "This sucks, should we turn it off?" Then the other would say, "I just don't get what's going on here...let's just keep it on for a minute or two." This process repeated until the end of the movie (with the worst closing line in the history of motion pictures), when we realized there was but one thing to understand about this movie: it sucked. Hard.

Deja Vu All Over Again

This flap at the University of Virginia brings back my own memories of foolishness in the name of political correctness. Here's the scoop:

University President John T. Casteen, III issued a statement yesterday responding to allegations that a Medical Center employee used a racial epithet during a conversation at a recent staff meeting, calling the usage "offensive" and "insulting."


Each person interviewed recounted a conversation between employees about football teams they each favored, Howell said. The conversation later turned to a discussion of controversial team names, including the Washington Redskins.

Howell reported that the offender "said something like this: 'I can't believe in this day and age that there's a sports team in our nation's capital named the Redskins. That is as derogatory to Indians as having a team called N--- would be to blacks.'" [offensive racial epithet redacted by me.]


In response to the alleged remark, the Staff Union at U.Va. is sponsoring a "Protest Against Racism at U.Va. and the U.Va. Medical Center After a Recent Racial Incident" today at noon.

"It doesn't really matter in what context this word was used," Staff Union President Jan Cornell said in a statement, adding that employees have reported other similar incidents.


In an e-mail sent to a black faculty e-mail list, History Prof. Julian Bond, national chair of the NAACP, called for the employee to make a public apology and take sensitivity training.

"My first impulse is that this should be a dismissible infraction -- but free speech protections I hold dear tell me that shouldn't be so," Bond wrote, adding that the administration "ought to disavow such language."

In his statement, Casteen said he can imagine that the speaker did not intend to be offensive, but that he is "sad" to see such language used in the workplace.

Okay, everyone, NAACP, Mr. Bond, listen very closely here, because I have something to say.


They are on your side, for Jebus' sake. They think "Redskins" is a racist term. They obviously think the N-word is a racist term because they prefaced their private remarks by saying so.

This is where you want to draw the line in the sand? This is what you want to call racism? This is the person you want to go after?


Whenever anyone on the left wonders why there's an upswing in the number of young conservatives, I point to incidents like this. The stifling of speech on college campuses has driven many moderates out of the Democratic party. It almost drove me out. Going after a person who uses an unfortunate word to illustrate a point is not--repeat, not--going to do a single thing to end racism in our country. And by focusing any energy on this issue, it's going to hurt efforts to stop real problems.

This person is not your enemy. Disband the circular firing squad, and go after someone who is.