Saturday, January 10, 2004

Ready? Act Surprised: Iraq War Planned Before 9/11.  

Former Bush Admin Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who I already mentioned here, has got something to say about how the Bush administration works.

The Bush Administration began making plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001 -- not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks, as has been previously reported.

This radically changes the previous statement by the same network (CBS) that the attack of Iraq was planned a whole five hours after 9/11:

"CBS News has learned that barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks."

Or, for that matter, a letter from the Project for a New American Century written to Bill Clinton in 1998 that advocated the exact plan that Bush later adopted "after 9/11".

But an anonymous senior administration official is quoted (this week) as calling the idea that the invasion was planned before 9/11 "laughable." Those guys sure have a great sense of humor.

Yours Truly, And Then...

Making Amends 

Matthew Yglesias at Tapped looks at the contortions the right wing is going through to get the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) into the Constitution.
There's nothing remotely democratic about a constitutional amendment barring state legislatures from allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married. What's really going on here is that conservatives know they're losing this fight. Gay marriage remains unpopular, but on all other fronts support for gay rights has been growing strongly in recent years. Meanwhile, young people are far more supportive of gay marriage than are our elders, putting time firmly on the side of the left. A constitutional amendment today, however, would lock the public opinion of 2004 in stone for decades to come, as amendments are incredibly hard to repeal. If you'd passed a Federal Anti-Miscegenation Amendment back in 1956, interracial unions might still be illegal today.
Every time there is some sort of cultural activity that "shocks and outrages" the right wing, the first thing they do is propose a constitutional amendment. The anti-flag burning amendment pops up every so often to quash the wide-spread epidemic of flag-burning that rages across the country. [Trolls - that was sarcasm.]

As I've pointed out in a previous post, the FMA would be the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution since Prohibition that would specifically limit the rights of citizens. I'm also slightly curious as to what would happen if there was an amendment that was at odds with another amendment, such as the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Wouldn't they cancel each other out?

Regardless of the legal microscopy, the idea of the FMA is just plain un-American for one simple reason. It codifies a religious doctrine into the fabric of American law. After all, according to the 1977 edition of The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church:
The union of a husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nuture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.
The word "marriage" is the catch. It's loaded with both religious and secular meaning. Marriage has the same legal impact if it happens in St. Patrick's Cathedral with all the trappings of sacraments and ritual or if the couple goes down to the county clerk's office on their lunch hour and has a judge perform the ceremony with all the formality of a real estate closing. The result is the same - a formal promise and commitment on the part of each person to care for each other. That's it. (Note, by the way, that having children comes in third on the list of reasons for getting married - at least according to the Episcopalians.) To me, that transcends religious and legal obligation. It empowers and enriches the basic human decency that we or any civilized society aspire to. We don't need an amendment for that, and if we did, we are in far more trouble than any law - or church - can repair.

[Reprinted in full from Bark Bark Woof Woof]

Friday, January 09, 2004

Senior citizens taken over a barrel by the Shrub 

Here we go, folks. We knew something had to happen with that Medicare bill passed by Congress. From the Daily Misleader:

Late last year, President Bush promised retirees that "if there's a Medicare reform bill signed by me, corporations have no intention to dump retirees [from their existing drug coverage]...What we're talking about is trust." The White House and its congressional allies backed up Bush's assertion by claiming the bill included a special tax subsidy to "encourage employers' to retain prescription-drug coverage" for their retirees' and not to cut them off.

But just three months after Bush's pledge, the Wall Street Journal now reports that the White House quietly added "a little-noticed provision" to the bill that allows companies to severely reduce - or almost completely terminate - their retirees' drug coverage "without losing out on the new subsidy." In other words, the president did not just break his promise to sign a bill that prevents seniors from losing their existing drug coverage. He actually acted to reward companies who cut off their retirees with a lavish new tax break.

The provision was no mere oversight by the president. The major backers of the provision were Lucent Technologies, General Motors, Dow Chemical and SBC Communications - all major campaign contributors to the president. According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, executives from those companies have donated almost $140,000 in hard money and $2.5 million in soft money to Bush and his party since 2000.

Lucent hard money contributions to Bush since 2000: $14,415
Lucent soft money contributions to RNC since 2000: $27,000

Dow hard money contributions to Bush since 2000: $23,200
Dow soft money contributions to RNC since 2000: $631,354

GM hard money contributions to Bush since 2000: $92,050
GM soft money contributions to RNC since 2000: $95,260

SBC hard money contributions to Bush since 2000: $9,450
SBC soft money contributions to RNC since 2000: $1,762,206

Now, someone needs to get up in front of the cameras and tell seniors what the hell just happened to them. They're so completely screwed by this that once they realize it, it's going to guarantee their vote is Democratic. Old people vote. The problem is, getting them informed. As I said, someone needs to make a media blitz out of this, and it would behoove Dr. Dean and General Clark to do so.

I'm really surprised this happened -- Uncle Karl is slipping. That, or they're convinced that the fix is already in place in Florida, among other states.

Via Atrios.
The Gamer's Nook

Thursday, January 08, 2004

No WMD. Period. 

The Washington Post has produced what appears to be the final, definitive report on Saddam Hussein's weapons capability and weapons development programs. After reading it, I realize that we all owe a huge debt of thanks to President George Bush for invading Iraq and destroying all of Hussein's WMD stockpiles, and for making it impossible for his weapons programs to ever be effectively revived.

Let me clarify: we owe a huge debt of thanks to President George H. W. Bush for his 1991 invasion of Iraq, which, in addition to permanently insuring that Saddam Hussein would never again be a serious threat to anyone, also had broad international support. But I digress.

According to the Post's report, current-day Iraq has no WMD. What WMD Hussein had were destroyed during or shortly after the first Gulf War. Hussein did have a driving ambition to replenish his chemical and biological weapons supply, and even to build his own nukes, but thanks to the sanctions and inspections regime, none of these ambitions were ever more than wishful thinking. The most dangerous weapon Hussein had in 2002 was a handful of conventional missiles whose range was a bit longer than UN sanctions allowed, and which inspectors destroyed.

More at edwardpig.
(Note: I hate to be posting something which I'm many of the other Coalition members have already written about, but hey, I got here first)

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Offshoring Carly Fiorina 

It's unlikely that the CEO of Hewlett-Packard will ever have to worry about her job being transplanted to India or China or Pakistan. But she's not worried about her own people's high-tech jobs either. Not worried at all. In fact, she could care less. Here's Ms. Fiorina on the subject of American jobs:

"There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," said Carly Fiorina, chief executive for Hewlett-Packard Co. "We have to compete for jobs."
In fact, it seems that CEOs of technology companies are of one mind on the subject - although in truth they are no different from the CEOs of other companies.

Intel chief executive Craig Barrett said the United States "now has to compete for every job going forward. That has not been on the table before. It had been assumed we had a lock on white-collar jobs and high-tech jobs. That is no longer the case."
The vague unease felt by many who don't know someone who's lost their job because the work was sent overseas or whose job is not at risk is starting to spread; starting to become less vague. I'm certainly no policy expert, so I'm in no position to say whether "protectionist" policies would work or not, but I do know - see my previous posts at The Fulcrum on the insidious effects of Wal*Mart on the economy and jobs - that in a so-called jobless recovery, the loss of more jobs to low-wage, low-benefit, off-shore locations is not a good thing.

Dr. Dean has a slightly different take on this practice:

Democratic front-runner Howard Dean said during a debate last month that America needs a president "who doesn't think that big corporations who get tax cuts ought to be able to move their headquarters to Bermuda and their jobs offshore."
Republicans, on the other hand, continue to hand out tax breaks to their corporate backers regardless of their employment policies.

The article on MSNBC that prompted this post (and from which I got all the quotes above) set me to thinking about some of the effects of "offshoring." The article was specifically about high-tech jobs, which got me thinking about the products that these companies make: computer chips and peripherals, primarily. The jobs moving off-shore are "white-collar" jobs, meaning that those losing their paychecks are those most likely able to afford to buy the latest products of their own companies.

Meaning... follow me here, it's really not that hard... demand for high-tech items drops, meaning lower profits for H-P and Intel. See, making that logical leap wasn't all that hard, was it? Amazing that Carly Fiorina and Craig Barrett seem to have completely missed it. But then so have so many other CEOs.

Makes you wonder why they are paid so much doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie Wants You To Know Something 

How funny is it when the first thing Ed Gillespie says includes the phrase "political hate speech?" What could have Mr. Gillespie so angry this time?

It would have to be the 7000th inane Hitler = X comparison since 1945. Has there been a single world leader since 1945 who has not had a little moustache painted on his face by some junior agitprop club, left or right?

But in all fairness, it's not like anyone on the right ever compared Clinton to Hitler. Or did it a second time. Or a third time. Or a fourth. Or a fifth time.

That said, I also want to briefly mention my nomination for Most Incoherently Angry Right Wing Media Pundit. I am sure that Ed Gillespie will take his precious civility and strike down this "stray" right winger with lightning from God, who, as we all know, is a great fan of Republicans and absolutely despises Howard Dean and Jews.

Yours Truly, And Then...

Monday, January 05, 2004

Dean campaign spreading Kerry rumors? 

Fox News is saying that the Dean campaign has been calling Iowa Kerry supporters stating that John Kerry's cancer has returned. I hope this isn't true: recall the Bush team saying in South Carolina that McCain's cancer was terminal? And that he fathered an illegitimate black child?

If this isn't true, the Dean team may be in trouble. Unless, of course, it's tied to the Republicans...which is likely. Why would Dean be attacking Kerry in Iowa, where Gephardt is runner-up? In fact, why would dean be messing with the first few primaries at all? He's set. What DOES make sense is that Republicans, knowing Dean's victory is close to certain, are setting him up for a scandal that could tarnish him through the primaries.

Posted at Kick the Leftist

The Secret Name of Things 

Listen all you Democrats and Independents, all you week kneed liberals suffering for a sign; all you angry homos and wonton harlots; All you polibloggers, pundits, digital dream smokers; all you pixies, witches and suicide girls; all you black flag wavers– Listen:

Humanity has always invested heavily in any scheme that offers escape from the body. And why not? Material reality is such a mess. Some of the earliest "religious" artefacts, such as Neanderthal ochre burials, already suggest a belief in immortality. All modern (i.e. post-paleolithic) religions contain the "Gnostic trace" of distrust or even outright hostility to the body and the "created" world.

~Hakim Bey, The Information War

It is this “Gnostic trace” that guides our current regime in Washington D.C. So befuddled by the religious rhetoric of Spirit over Body are our leaders, that they threaten to kill us all. In order to save our souls, of course. What Bey calls the Gnostoc trace is the long and supremely held belief in one Big Lie: that there is a separation between body and soul. Well I’m here to say, there ain’t no such thing.

They are one and the same thing. We are whole beings already. Undeliniated. Uncleaved. The lie that there is some glowing ball of light, somewhere in our gut that is from another planet where they don’t sit down to take a crap (or even take a crap at all). The lie that says that once we die, that little ball of pure white, non-crapping, non-fornicating light will drift up into the sky and return to the cosmic fun house where it came from.

Don’t believe it. I don’t know what happens when we die, or where we go when we’re through feeding worms and rotting in the ground. But if fairy tales about invisible Sky fairies and red faced boogie men are the best thing thewy can offer, then I say shut the fuck up. I’d rather go no place and be nothing forever after than spend the rest of eternity in church. The fact of the matter is this: Once you believe that whopper about heaven and hell and living in a fallen world full of sin, you’ll believe any old thing they tell you, because every other lie, from the one about the “Evil Doers” over There in that cold, foreign and dirty, dirty land to the “Faith Based Public Works” are all based on that first big Lie. The one even they believe.

Read the rest at The Invisible Library.

Why Do Liberals Hate Quake Victims? 

The latest tsunami of stupidity from right-wing hack Jonah Goldberg.
Opponents of globalization say they want to allow "traditional" - i.e. dirt poor - societies of the Third World to protect their way of life from the "ravages" of globalization. In reality, they want to keep these societies frozen in amber for the ecotourists and sociologists. That's a fine position to take if you are willing to accept that such societies "traditionally" lose millions of lives to calamities that are, for advanced nations, either preventable or inconsequential.

Whenever we get a heat wave on the East Coast, the media and environmental activists collude to blame global warming and, by extension, capitalism. Well, advocates of global enrichment should collude every time an earthquake, flood or hurricane clobbers poor people and say, "See, this is the way opponents of globalization want it."

Yes, you read that correctly. Jonah says tens of thousands of lives were lost in the Iran earthquake because of anti-globalizationists and environmentalists. Everyone knows Iran is the new vacation hot spot for us limousine liberals now that we've tired of eco-touring Costa Rica.