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Wednesday, February 26, 2003  
Shame on me that I only read Jeralyn Merrit from Talkleft when she guests on Altercation. Without her, I would not know about this:

In the question-and-answer period following his announcement, [U.S. Attorney General John] Ashcroft lauded the Patriot Act and the recent ruling of the secret FISA review court that tore down most of the wall separating intelligence and law enforcement agencies — a wall that had been in existence for the past 25 years.

As a result of the FISA review court’s ruling and Ashcroft’s interpretation of the Patriot Act, information gathered by intelligence agencies under the Foreign Intelligence Security Act of 1978 (FISA) can be shared with law enforcement agencies so long as one of the purposes of the spying is for intelligence-gathering purposes. Otherwise, law enforcement, whose duty is to investigate crime, is bound by the Fourth Amendment and strict federal electronic surveillance statutes when it conducts searches. A federal judge oversees the process. Intelligence agencies are not so bound, because they can proceed under FISA.

The new ruling effectively allows law enforcement to make an end run around the Fourth Amendment. As the ACLU stated after the decision, “As of today the Attorney General can suspend the ordinary requirements of the Fourth Amendment in order to listen in on phone calls, read e-mails, and conduct secret searches of Americans’ homes and offices.”

There is one minor problem with Talkleft's description of the intelligence court's ruling: as I understand it, Ashcroft has no explicit authority to instruct the intelligence services as to which phone to tap or which email to listen to, as the ACLU's telling implies. But I'm not sure that is a distinction of any significance. Ashcroft is a hugely powerful man, both by the objective virtue of his office and the less easily quantified currency of raw influence. The fact that he is not placed above CIA on the org chart means nothing. If he were to suggest that the spooks run an operation against whoever he is interested in that week, they would do it. So the ACLU's version is true, if incomplete. What they imply but don't say is, in my opinion, the true horror of this development. The deeper damage arises from this back-channel exercise of authority, the rule of influence rather than jurisdiction.

The Constitution is strong because we are supposed to grasp its broader meaning. The 4th Amendment is not a technicality to be evaded, it is an expression of the principle that the government should be required meet a burden of truth before it can monitor the lives of American citizens. The culture in this country is changing in frightening ways. The point of the Constitution is that we cannot entirely trust our elected leaders. They must be forced to make the objective case by our true ruler, a king inscribed upon paper, that does not attend to the shifting winds of political fear. Ashcroft's position can be reduced, essentially, to "Trust me. I know who the bad people are. Just let me go after them, and you will all be safer. Every bureaucratic base you make me touch is another terrorist who remains free to kill your children." This is a simpleminded position, applauded only by those too trapped in fear and a juvenile perception of authority to realize that freedom is not a synonym for safety.


Tuesday, February 25, 2003  
I saw Rudy Giuliani on Conan O'Brien last night, talking about, among other things, the resurgence of squeegee men in NYC in the last year or so. "These people come and go, come and go." he said. "The real question is, when they're gone, where do they go? That's the mystery." And then he laughed as if he had just made some sort of wry observation. What a fucking asshole. He knows perfectly well where they went. In his administration, cops would round up homeless people and bus them out to vacant, abandoned areas in the farthest reaches of Queens and the Bronx, and abandon them. Giuliani would flush out the shelters at night, with a convoy of trucks and buses that left the homeless population stranded. Those that could, would trudge back into downtown to collect public assistance or beg for coins. The rest eked it out (or didn't) on the fringes of the city, where the volunteer services often had trouble reaching them. The citizens of these communities howled, but Giuliani did not give a fuck about them, as they were only marginally wealthier than the homeless themselves, and had no political clout to compare with Giuliani's Manhattan clients and the Disneyfication of downtown.

Even more egregious, and certainly illegal, was Giuliani's practice during the 1999 campaign of forcing workfare participants to work for his campaign, requiring them to spend their shifts handing out Giuliani flyers and buttons in Central Park before they could pick up their assistance checks. No links, no citations, but, well, there wouldn't be, considering the level of press intimidation Giuliani applied while in office. I recall a local TV news reporter telling me that Fran Reiter, Giuliani's campaign manager, told her that if she reported on the Central Park campaign workfare story that she would never be allowed access to a City Hall press event again, and that she, Reiter, would try to have her fired from her station, the owner of which was close to Giuliani. "He's going to win no matter what we report." the reporter told me. "Why should I shoot myself in the foot or the head when it won't make any difference to anyone?"

I know Rudy has become an icon to a lot of people, and I don't live in New York, so I can't comment on what his 9/11 leadership meant to the citizens of that city, but I do know that when people talk about Rudy being president, as Conan did last night, it gives me creeps even deeper than the ones I have about our current autocratic leader.

Blogging from the road. Love that Jersey dial-up!


Monday, February 24, 2003  
The shockingly dishonest Charles Krauthammer column I mentioned a couple of posts ago is mercilessly cuffed around by ex-Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Steve Richetti in this Saturday Post column. Richetti takes on Krauthammer point by point, so you should read it all, but I think this passage is particularly strong:

Terrorism. Krauthammer, citing terrorist attacks during the 1990s, claims we were on a "holiday from history" in our response. He should look a little farther back in the history books. Nearly 500 of our citizens died at the hands of foreign terrorists during the Reagan administration, including 241 Marines at barracks in Lebanon, to which that administration's response was promptly to withdraw. The 1980s were the most ravaging decade of terrorism against Americans before Sept. 11, 2001. Except for a single bombing run against Libya one day in April 1986, there was no significant military response.

Under the Clinton administration, fighting terrorism became a national priority. Counterterrorism funding doubled. Force was used against Osama bin Laden and Iraq. Multiple terrorist plots were stopped, including plans to blow up tunnels and the United Nations headquarters and to strike U.S. targets during our millennium celebrations. Al Qaeda cells were rolled up in more than 20 countries. Dozens of important terrorist fugitives were apprehended.

Where were Republican leaders then? Some were busy opposing key efforts to strengthen laws designed to combat terrorists. Others criticized significant counterterrorism funding requests. Perhaps I missed Krauthammer's column at the time chiding his Republican friends for "kicking the can" down the road.

By the way, if any leading Republicans were calling for military action against Afghanistan during the Clinton administration, it is hard to find evidence of it in the public record of that time. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush certainly did not.

As for the allegation that Sudan "offered up" Osama bin Laden to us in 1996, it's a right-wing lie. It didn't happen. If a more robust strategy for combating international terrorism was obvious before 9/11, President Bush had nine months to initiate it. He did not.

The Balkans. Krauthammer's dismissive description of America's successful efforts to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Balkans as "teacup wars" will come as a shock to the hundreds of thousands of people saved by American action and to the thousands of families who lost loved ones to Serbian aggression. His swipe at those conflicts also insults the courage of the U.S. soldiers who risked their lives in combat in Bosnia and Kosovo and grossly ignores the strategic threat that war in Western Europe's back yard represented.

Every president inherits a world full of problems. From the first President Bush, Clinton inherited a brewing genocide in the Balkans, growing tension in the Middle East, a standoff in Northern Ireland, unrest in Haiti, an unstable situation in Russia, a healthy and dangerous Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and an emerging terrorist threat. It's not former president Bush's fault that these crises carried over, and Clinton certainly didn't spend the next two years blaming his predecessor for them. America and the world were better prepared and able to meet each of these challenges at the end of the Clinton administration than at the beginning.

This endless litany of blame against Clinton is so tiresome, but so typical -- the right-wing pundits are not remotely interested in historical analysis, they simply deploy these distorted tropes and lies whenever their hero-king starts taking fire from any quarter. It doesn't seem to matter that some of these assertions are flat-out dangerous, anything to keep Bush up on his hyper-righteous pedestal.

I mean, look at a fringe player like InstaPundit, who has been casting approving glances at writers comparing France and Germany to the Soviet Union. What the fuck? These countries are democracies. The populations of these countries are against the war. What do Reynolds and the rest of the uberhawks want these governments to do? Ignore the will of their people and force them to war that 80%-90% of them reject? I'm sure the right wing, echoing their leader, would say that disregard of the people's will in such a situation would show "leadership," making the tough choices, damn the consequences, blah, blah, blah. As I have argued before, however, if the right wing thinks this relatively benign group of centrists is anti-American, wait till they see the batch of yahoos that will get eleced in the wake of this relentless smear campaign. Even worse, imagine the leaders that would be elected were Chirac and Schroeder to cave, and follow Bush into Iraq against the will of huge majorities of their population.

I know, I know, those on the right believe that Saddam will fold in 10 minutes, and a new era of peace and freedom will reign in Iraq forever, and everyone who was on the winning team will receive blessings tenfold, and all who resisted will have become peripheral irrelevancies, blah, blah, blah. But I haven't seen a case for this kind of insane scapegoating that does not rely on the rosiest, best-case scenario for war in Iraq. That's a pity, because, as Kos pointed out, if you're for war, you have to be for it good, bad or ugly.

I've gotten a bit off the point here, so I will wrap up. Clearly intellectual consistency is not a priority for those who make their living defending the current regime. So many of their arguments crumble like tissue paper under the slightest pressure. Clinton cannot be blamed for the instability of the world. Obeying the will of your citizens does not make you a Stalinist.

Charles Krauthammer's writing has made him a rich, respected and influential pundit, but he is either an idiot, a conscious shill, or both.


Friday, February 21, 2003  
Are you kidding me?
Sorry for the light posting. Not that anyone's reading this, but this week has been nuts. I'll try to do better over the next few days.

By the way, this is conclusive evidence of the persistence of at least a little bit of the 90's too-much-time-on-my-hands internet culture. I mean, who does this stuff?


Wednesday, February 19, 2003  
Jazzfest schedule is up. Snow has made life busy and complicated. More pointless murmuring about politics later.


Friday, February 14, 2003  
Nothing for Afghanistan. Not a dime. (BBC via Talking Points.):

The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.

One mantra from the Bush administration since it launched its military campaign in Afghanistan 16 months ago has been that the US will not walk away from the Afghan people. President Bush has even suggested a Marshall plan for the country, and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, will visit Washington later this month.

But in its budget proposals for 2003, the White House did not explicitly ask for any money to aid humanitarian and reconstruction costs in the impoverished country.

Fucking liar.

If you read the whole article, you find out that the chairman of the foreign aid committee managed to scrape up $300 million to rectify this oversight. The budget also contains $670 billion in tax cuts. My head is filled with the sound of twisting metal as these two concepts smash into each other.


News flash! Every single foreign policy crisis faced by America is Clinton's fault! Thanks for digging up the truth, Charles Krauthammer!

Also in the Wash. Post, E.J. Dionne addresses the question of our Bible-thumping President. Dionne is a little kinder on this topic than I have been the last couple of days. He rightly points out a long tradition of Presidents invoking spiritual jurisdiction, that extends as far back as the founding documents of the nation. Lincoln himself even said in his 2nd inaugural address that America would act "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right."

In the end, however, I think Dionne comes to much the same conclusion that I did:

And, yes, Bush gives a lot of people the willies when he suggests he feels a kind of religious calling to this historic moment and to the challenges of terrorism. Here's where he needs to pay attention to foreign critics such as France. Of course, it's common for Christians to speak of a calling. But it doesn't help Bush, or our country, for the world to think -- even unfairly -- that an American president about to wage war is inspired not only by his own utter certainty but also by God's. The very nature of this conflict, steeped as it is in religious feeling, requires that this president be even more careful than his predecessors when he invokes the Almighty.

Amen, brother. To wrap up this topic altogether, another Lincoln quote seems germane:
"Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other . . . . The prayers of both could not be answered--that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes."


"The strategic war has already begun," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, an expert in war planning.

Well, here we go. If this is all brinksmanship and bluff, it's a masterful job. I've done a lot of talking about Iraq over the last couple of days, but essentially I hope it's just over fast, and that we win.

Two weeks 'till the infantry starts shooting. That's my guess. I'd mail it to the OxBlog pool, but I'm sure someone else who they (or anyone else) have actually heard of has the 27th already.


Wednesday, February 12, 2003  
More on Bush's sermon, just to finish my thought from yesterday: No matter what you think about the way election 2000 went down, it wasn't God who made the choice, it was people. To look at that deeply, fundamentally human trainwreck of an election is to see the essential frailty of even those systems in which we put the most faith, the mortal, human fallibility of it all. People did that, for good or ill. They wrote the laws, cast the votes, filed the suits, argued the cases, made the decisions, and people transitioned the government from one party to the other by operation of Man's law, not God's. Even if you think that it is the greatest thing that ever happened, and that Bush is the second coming of Lincoln (as George Will seems to believe), you do not have God to thank in any specific way. If you did, why would it matter what kind of government we have anyway? If we are all controlled, if our fates are predetermined, we are all slaves in the end.

Oh, and as for George F. Will, his column today is a ridiculous, sycophantic joke: "A Big and Bold 2004" :

The boldness, you see, is a theme, and the word is used 4 times in the article (including the title and the last line of the piece). Some excerpts and reactions:

The budget evokes 1862. In that annus mirabilis, with the national government's writ severely restricted and the entire American project in doubt, Lincoln and Congress nevertheless enacted the Homestead Act, which sped the settlement of the Great Plains; the Morrill Act, which begot the land grant college system; and the law that ignited construction of the transcontinental railroad.
Today, with the nation in a war against terrorism and on the brink of a related war against Iraq, the president's budget calls for a dash for economic growth through another round of tax cuts, a tax-cutting pace President Reagan did not attempt; a prescription drug entitlement linked to reform of Medicare; and reform of the way Americans save.
And in a budget-related document, the administration floats the idea of scrapping individual and corporate income taxes in favor of a consumption tax.

Okay, so Bush's budget contains:

(1) tax cuts,
(2) a limited, anemic drug benefit which was only proposed to give political cover since the Democrats advanced their own, far more comprehensive program, and is, in fact, a stalking horse for the evisceration of traditional Medicare, and
(3) another tax cut (the savings plan will not incentivize savings any more than the creation of IRA's did in the 80's; it just gives people with a lot of savings an easier way to duck taxes), accompanied by
(4) a non-legislative proposal to jettison our current progressive tax structure for a system that will lead to, you guessed it, a truly massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

Will is comparing this set of proposals to:

(1) the Homestead Act, which "allowed anyone to file for a quarter-section of free land (160 acres). The land was yours at the end of five years if you had built a house on it, dug a well, broken (plowed) 10 acres, fenced a specified amount, and actually lived there."
(2) the creation of land grant colleges and
(3) the intercontinental railroad?

I don't fucking think so. Lincoln's proposals in 1862 were deeply populist attempts to make the society more egalitarian, grant land ownership to the poor, open the doors of education to the children of the farmers, and tie the west and east together with a ribbon of iron. When society was heading further into chaos and violence, Lincoln recognized that his first reponsibility was to the people themselves, and that he had an obligation to make their lives better. I am not naively ascribing saintly motives to Lincoln - he knew what side his electoral bread was buttered on, and wanted to keep the masses happy, wanted to keep the pork flowing out to the Plains states and the West, as soldiers from these far-flung provinces were essential to the Union war effort, and Lincoln needed them to remain engaged with the project and future possibilities of Union, rather than seeing the civil war as an irrelevant intramural squabble that would be best resolved by cutting the painters and letting the South float away. Lincoln was, for numerous reasons, endeavoring to define what the united country could look like after the bloodshed. Lincoln's policies were an intentional effort to unite the country.

In contrast, Bush's proposals are dividing the country deeply, and offering no solace to the working people who will bear the brunt of war. In these harrowing times, he has chosen to cow and terrify the populace, rather than show it the possibilities of peace. Bush and his minions simply pile on the fear, the anger, the hostility, the rhetoric of smug defiance. Will's comparison is utterly specious and suggests that the column itself may be a public indulgence in unacknowledged black humor.

Actually, no U.S. boots need be on the peninsula to guarantee a U.S. commitment to defend South Korea.

Huh? How does Will think we will protect the South Koreans without any "U.S. boots" on the ground? There is only one answer to this question. Nukes. Will is clearly referring to the possibility of pointing a nuclear six-gun at Pyongyang and drawling "Now hold it right there, podnuh." Will does not make this explicit, however, though it is undeniable that Bush has firmly put the U.S. nuclear arsenal back in tactical play.

But the anti-Americanism, as well as South Korea's prosperity and North Korea's penury, may cause reconsideration of that commitment.

Huh? This is the ultimate "take our ball and go home" argument. You said bad things about us, so we're leaving, and you can go soak your head. I think there are good arguments for a reduction in force in South Korea, but most of them kind of depended on a continuation of the dialogue that had been successfully ongoing between N. Korea and the West, and the U.N. inspections regime that was monitoring N. Korea's nuclear facilities. Now that all of that has been swept away by the Bush administration's bungling, and N. Korea has been forced into position where they must either harden their stance, or completely surrender, they have chosen (not surprisingly for a state-communist country ruled by an absolutely loony strongman) to harden their stance and pursue nukes even more aggressively. What is the argument for pulling out now? We're offended?

Furthermore, what does "South Korea's prosperity and North Korea's penury" have to do with it? Is Will actually claiming that North Korea's poverty makes it less likely to attempt war on the peninsula? Let me get this straight: a rich, underarmed country is directly contiguous to a starving, militarily powerful society. A 50-year history of violence and suspicion exists between the two, including a messianic faith by the military power that the two will one day be united. This somehow argues for withdrawal? Reduction of commitment? In God's name, why? This is not toughness. This is petulance.


Tuesday, February 11, 2003  
I am not religious. I am, in fact, somewhat anti-religious. Not antifaith, mind you, just unconvinced that it is a good thing for large groups of people to be told what to do by individuals claiming to talk to God. So my credibility when it comes to criticizing Bush for hewing to and citing his faith in discussion about his domestic and foreign policy is probably pretty low, as I acknowledge that I bring some biases to the task. But I mean, really, seriously, what the fuck?

Some highlights:
Bush assigned religion a role in the economy ("There are some needs that prosperity can never meet"), in a possible attack on Iraq ("Liberty is God's gift to every human being in the world"), and in coping with the Columbia space shuttle accident ("Faith assures us that death and suffering are not the final word").

[A]n American attack on Iraq would be "in the highest moral traditions of our country."

"We pray for you -- in fact, we pray for you daily," Glenn Plummer, the broadcasters' chairman, said in his introduction. "The United States of America has been blessed by God Himself to have George W. Bush as president."

Hold on right there. Right fucking there. God did not pick George Bush to be President. God does not pick presidents, be they Republicans or Democrats. This concept goes directly against the entire founding philosophy of this country. People here are free. They are independent of kings and churches, and all the other slavemasters of tradition and superstition. They are responsible to themselves and each other, not to God. God did not give us George W. Bush as a gift. The picture of this country as held by our president and endorsed by those with whom he agrees is a Calvinistic vision of theocratic predetermination, a nation of puppets, dancing out their choreography en masse, patterns proceeding according to a heavenly script, but each tiny figure in a soul-to-soul pas-de-deux with the Almighty.

Why under such circumstances would a leader shy away from any confrontation? Or be concerned with gathering a consensus before acting on his own personal vision of the right? God has already ordained the result, whatever it may be, so how may it be evil? Thus the presidency is corrupted, from a vision of a secular leader with "no particle of spiritual jurisdiction," to a man whose latter-day conversion has rendered him besotted with religion, in its most didactic, heirarchical form.

This, to me, is the argument against war with Iraq that has the most substance. In sum, what restraints on behavior will Bush have? He is destroying NATO. His footsoldiers talk casually about containing France. His warplans include chemical weapons and nukes. His clock is grinding inexorably down. He is the fated instrument of God. And millions look at his picture and say. "Mmm, mmm. Thank God we've got a good Christian in the White House now, instead of that awful Bill Clinton."


Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. How the hell did I miss this?

That's it. Chance of war now 100%.


Friday, February 07, 2003  
Dynamically bold.

This is kind of fun. The Post reports today on the GOP's efforts to have "Dynamic Scoring" officially included when totting up the "cost" of a tax cut:

It started early last month, when House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) pushed through a new House rule that requires the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to provide dynamic scoring estimates with each new tax-cutting package. The JCT, one of the few House-Senate panels, provides lawmakers with estimates on the cost of tax policies. While the committee will continue to use the "static" model, Republicans now have an official, somewhat bipartisan, dynamic score to present to voters.

Jim Nussle also appointed supply-side cheerleader Douglas Holtz-Eakin to run the Congressional Budget Office, another government auditor. The Heritage Foundation thinks that this is just a super idea, and they did some math of their own, to show the true impact of the supply-side magic:

Heritage last week calculated that the dividend tax cut would cost $125 billion, about one-third of the current projected price tag. It factored in such things as the jobs that would be created and the new business investment that would follow when dividends were no longer taxed.

"In the real world, tax policy exerts a significant effect upon economic growth. This growth, in turn, affects tax revenues," according to the report Heritage issued.

But that's not the funny part. Here's the funny part:

Economists who support the use of dynamic scoring warn DeLay and other congressional advocates that they might be disappointed with the results. According to the most respected dynamic models, short-term gains from growth stimulated by tax cuts are quickly offset by the costs of lower national savings, higher interest rates and Federal Reserve Board actions.

"This is one of those things where Republicans have to be careful what they wish for," said one Bush administration economist.

Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic forecasting firm in St. Louis, released a dynamic score of Bush's $674 billion tax cut last month that illustrates the point. The firm found that by the end of 2004, the Bush plan would boost the size of the economy by 1.6 percent, but soon those positive effects would turn negative.

By 2017, the plan would actually have shrunk the economy by 0.3 percent while raising long-term interest rates by about 0.75 percent. Also by that year, the deficit would be $300 billion more than the traditional "static" score of the tax cut would predict, the report said.

Why is Macroeconomic Advisers' conclusion important? Because the firm is advising the Joint Committee on Taxation on how to implement its own new dynamic scoring model.



Wednesday, February 05, 2003  
Bill O'Reilly cuts through the spin.

This is really disturbing. Don't bother clicking the link; I have shamelessly stolen almost all of Tom Tomorrows post, and pasted it below. Read it, and become enraged.

"I caught a bit of the O'Reilly Factor during dinner last night, during which Bill berated Jeremy Glick, a signatory of the Not in Our Name ad whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. I couldn't find a transcript on the Fox site, but happily, one came in over the transom (probably pulled off Lexis, so no link available).

This is how Bill O'Reilly behaves when faced with genuine disagreement:

O'REILLY: You are mouthing a far left position that is a marginal position in this society, which you're entitled to.

GLICK: It's marginal -- right.

O'REILLY: You're entitled to it, all right, but you're -- you see, even --I'm sure your beliefs are sincere, but what upsets me is I don't think your father would be approving of this.

GLICK: Well, actually, my father thought that Bush's presidency was illegitimate.

O'REILLY: Maybe he did, but...

GLICK: I also didn't think that Bush...

O'REILLY: ... I don't think he'd be equating this country as a terrorist nation as you are.

GLICK: Well, I wasn't saying that it was necessarily like that.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are. You signed...

GLICK: What I'm saying is...

O'REILLY: ... this, and that absolutely said that.

GLICK: ... is that in -- six months before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush's father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Turaki government.

O'REILLY: All right. I don't want to...

GLICK: Maybe...

O'REILLY: I don't want to debate world politics with you.

GLICK: Well, why not? This is about world politics.

O'REILLY: Because, No. 1, I don't really care what you think.

GLICK: Well, OK.

O'REILLY: You're -- I want to...

GLICK: But you do care because you...

O'REILLY: No, no. Look...

GLICK: The reason why you care is because you evoke 9/11...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care.

GLICK: ... to rationalize...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care...

GLICK: Let me finish. You evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide.

O'REILLY: OK. That's a bunch...

GLICK: You evoke sympathy with the 9/11 families.

O'REILLY: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do.


O'REILLY: So you keep your mouth shut when you sit here exploiting those people.

GLICK: Well, you're not representing me. You're not representing me.

O'REILLY: And I'd never represent you. You know why?


O'REILLY: Because you have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country.

GLICK: Well, explain that. Let me give you an example of a parallel...

O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to debate this with you, all right.

GLICK: Well, let me give you an example of parallel experience. On September 14...

O'REILLY: No, no. Here's -- here's the...

GLICK: On September 14...

O'REILLY: Here's the record.


O'REILLY: All right. You didn't support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, OK.

GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father!

GLICK: The people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father.

GLICK: ... didn't kill my father.

O'REILLY: Sure they did. The al Qaeda people were trained there.

GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghan people?

O'REILLY: See, I'm more angry about it than you are!

GLICK: So what about George Bush?

O'REILLY: What about George Bush? He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: The director -- senior as director of the CIA.

O'REILLY: He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: So the people that trained a hundred thousand Mujahadeen who were...

O'REILLY: Man, I hope your mom isn't watching this.

GLICK: Well, I hope she is.

O'REILLY: I hope your mother is not watching this because you -- that's it. I'm not going to say anymore.


O'REILLY: In respect for your father...

GLICK: On September 14, do you want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up! Shut up!

GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.

O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians...

GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government...

O'REILLY: Out of respect for him...

GLICK: ... not the people of America.

O'REILLY: ... I'm not going to...

GLICK: ... The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

O'REILLY: Cut his mic. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father.

We will be back in a moment with more of THE FACTOR.

GLICK: That means we're done?

O'REILLY: We're done.

Jesus. This is the "no-spin zone," eh? Anything that deviates from the party line is to be shouted down. To hear this kind of critique from a man whose father died in the WTC clearly shook O'Reilly to the foundations, and he responded with ravenous, frothing hostility. These guys just need their cheap iconography so badly to cut off serious debate that any effort to undercut it is met with cries of "traitor!" These guys need 9/11 to represent nothing more than jingoistic, "don't tread on me" patriotism, a unified phalanx of survivors, each clutching a flag, grieving with half a heart, the other half filled with wholehearted support of President Bush, the righteous bringer of their revenge. When the corner of the curtain is lifted up, these guys just freak out. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill O'Reilly - the most watched newsman on the most watched cable news channel in America. We are creating hell, right here on earth.


Tuesday, February 04, 2003  
Someone has got to stop Richard Perle. Read the linked story and come back. Okay. Now - honestly, it seems that the old-school Reaganites within Bush's administration don't really respect Bush that much. They all seem to think that they have the right to spout off about whatever pet theory they have, without checking with the big dog first. Do you really think that Bush wanted someone in his administration to say that France is no longer an ally of the U.S.? France is a nuclear fucking power, and the central pivot of E.U. policy. What is Perle thinking? What was Rumsfeld thinking when he airily dismissed France and Germany as "old Europe?" What is Cheney thinking every time he opens his mouth? These people put Bush in more awkward positions than Steve Ross. Bush doesn't really seem to have the balls to snap the adults back in line, either - he just keeps edging towards the right, as he is forced to endorse one crackpot, bellicose view after another.

And what a view it is from way out there. It's as if this cabal of yahoos believes that any failure by an ally to immediately knuckle under to the US is an aggressive act towards us. This makes NO SENSE. These countries are democracies, and their leaders are accountable to, and chosen by, their people. You think this crop is bad? Wait till you see who the people elect after they have been galvanized into solid anti-Americanism by this continuous flood of arrogant logorrhoea. I mean, did we really have to push poor Tony Blair to the point of saying this?

But it doesn't stop with France. The good folks at the Heritage foundation are implying an end to the US-British relationship now, if Blair doesn't "face down" his opponents and force public consensus on the war:

"There is a danger Mr. Blair will heed the growing cacophony of anti-American voices in the Labor Party and in sections of the British media. Labor, with its rump of hard-left extremists on the backbenches, still suffers from its "Vietnam" syndrome: a deep distrust of U.S. foreign policy combined with a misguided militant pacifism. If Mr. Blair "goes wobbly," he risks losing everything he has achieved on the foreign policy stage over the past 18 months. The prime minister has shown outstanding international leadership on the Iraq question. It's time for him now to face down opposition within his own fractious party, and to make a convincing case for war to the British people. There is much at stake: the long-term success of the war on terrorism, the future of the Iraqi people, and the Anglo-U.S. special relationship, the cornerstone of global security for the past 57 years."

So now the Anglo-US special relationship is in the balance? Man, these guys are fucking up so badly I can't believe it.

[Perle quote via Kos, of course.]


Sunday, February 02, 2003  
John Ashcroft is demonstrably and actionably unethical.

My law school classmate Mark Jackson, now with the Department of Labor in San Francisco, has an interesting article on discussing Ashcroft's incredibly irresponsible public comments in the Lindh, Moussaoui, and other 9/11 cases. The most glaring example, which Mark discusses in some detail, is Ashcroft's public discussion of Lindh's "confession" to the CIA while detained in Afghanistan. Lindh's lawyers obviously could (and did) try to have that confession ruled inadmissible. Therefore the jury was never supposed to hear about it, and render a verdict based on the evidence properly before them. The DC ethics rules (which govern lawyers working in the district, even Feds) forbid exactly this type of statement.


Saturday, February 01, 2003  

I have heard a fair number of people on the radio, on CNN, and on comment boards today wondering about the continued relevance of manned space flight. What do we really achieve by sending people up there? Is it worth the risk?

I guess my response is rather pedantic, though I mean it sincerely. We continue to do it because exploration is our secular religion, our faith that despite all the nasty, shitty things we do to each other here in the present, somewhere in the future there is another place, or another way of living that will be better, if we can only get there, if we can only keep moving forward.

I don't know, maybe I'm trapped in a western technological mindset, but I feel that if we stop trying to discover and personally experience the physical universe, we (the citizens and the scientists) either become little more than button-stabbing voyeurs, watching the surface of mars on television, or we simply become incurious, waving at the sky and saying "Yeah, yeah. We tried that. Bunch of people died, it was just a big empty nothing. Let's go to the mall."


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