This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Republican Family Values

Oh, somebody's gone and done it! They've waded through the muck and started a catalog of Republican pedophilia. It's incredible. It just goes on, and on, and on. A few highlights:
• Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

• Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

• Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

• Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

• Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.
Sheesh, Giordano ran against Lieberman for his senate seat in 2000. The judge in his case said, "Your conduct is the worst I have ever seen. I've seen drug dealers, murderers. What you did is indescribable." Never thought I'd be so happy that Joementum won anything.

(via Shakespeare's Sister)


More Dollar Blues

There is surprisingly little written about the dollar's troubles in the US media, such that you usually need to go to to foreign papers to read about it. But Krugman takes it on this week, and makes the problem quite clear:
Money is pouring into China, both because of its rapidly rising trade surplus and because of investments by Western and Japanese companies. Normally, this inflow of funds would be self-correcting: both China's trade surplus and the foreign investment pouring in would push up the value of the yuan, China's currency, making China's exports less competitive and shrinking its trade surplus.

But the Chinese government, unwilling to let that happen, has kept the yuan down by shipping the incoming funds right back out again, buying huge quantities of dollar assets - about $200 billion worth in 2004, and possibly as much as $300 billion worth this year. This is economically perverse: China, a poor country where capital is still scarce by Western standards, is lending vast sums at low interest rates to the United States.

Yet the U.S. has become dependent on this perverse behavior. Dollar purchases by China and other foreign governments have temporarily insulated the U.S. economy from the effects of huge budget deficits. This money flowing in from abroad has kept U.S. interest rates low despite the enormous government borrowing required to cover the budget deficit.

Low interest rates, in turn, have been crucial to America's housing boom. And soaring house prices don't just create construction jobs; they also support consumer spending because many homeowners have converted rising house values into cash by refinancing their mortgages.

So why is the U.S. government complaining? The Treasury report says nothing at all about how China's currency policy affects the United States - all it offers on the domestic side is the usual sycophantic praise for administration policy. Instead, it focuses on the disadvantages of Chinese policy for the Chinese themselves. Since when is that a major U.S. concern?

In reality, of course, the administration doesn't care about the Chinese economy. It's complaining about the yuan because of political pressure from U.S. manufacturers, which are angry about those Chinese trade surpluses. So it's all politics. And that's the problem: when policy decisions are made on purely political grounds, nobody thinks through their real-world consequences.

Here's what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available.

U.S. interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we'll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy.

In other words, we've developed an addiction to Chinese dollar purchases, and will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when they come to an end.
Because the big Asian central banks have such vast dollar holdings, they're mighty concerned about what will happen when and if the dollar tanks, and thanks to Michael Duran who pointed us to an article in Forbes this week that tells of how the three Asian central banks with the largest dollar holdings -- Korea, Japan and China -- are so tweaked about the situation that they have put aside nationalistic differences and banded together to work in concert to avoid the fallout. And just yesterday, Korea announced that it will no longer be buying dollars, which the US relies upon to finance its enormous monthly trade deficit. That's big news, and drinks are on me if anyone can show me where CNN or MSNBC or (perish the though) Faux News covered the story.

The inevitable correction to Bunnypants' fiscal irresponsibility will potentially dwarf any of his disasters-to-date. Novakula's probably got his crypt loaded down with emergency stockpiles of virgin's blood so what does he care, but expect the not-so-bloodless to be feeling the pinch in the not-so-distant future.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Way to Go With the Hearts and Minds, Guys

It now seems clear that the US has a policy of handing its prisoners over to the care of the very worst that it has, with no regard for either their safety or the Geneva Convention. And they think America's image is being mangled by one Newsweek article?

When asked whether this would incite riots, Bunnypants said, "I don't think a photo inspires murderers....These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric."

So I guess that lets Newsweek off the hook, huh? Well, no, they're still evil, but it does let Rupert Murdoch off the hook, whose British tabloids the Sun and New York Post are running the photos on their covers. A coincidence that Murdoch also owns the unofficial white house press office, Faux News? I'm guessing not.

What's worse -- Americans seem to think it's okay that Saddam's rights under the Geneva Convention have been violated even as we're holding him for violations of the Geneva Convention, with no sense of culpability or faulty leadership on the part of the people who continually allow this stuff to happen on their march to "spread democracy" around the world. Assmissile was on MSNBC today, pimping his article called "Cry Me a River," in which he dismisses the Geneva Convention and recommends we go back to that eye-for-an-eye thing. There is something frighteningly symbolic about the Ten Commandments trying to sneak its way onto courthouse lawns as the Old Testament threatens to replace the Constitution as the go-to cornerstone of US governance.

Update: Steve Gilliard makes a good point: What Bush doesn't get is this: no matter who the Arab, public humilation is a major social taboo. They kill rape victims for shaming the family. So this society is going to enjoy Saddam shamed in a way no Arab would shame his worst enemy? Are you fucking joking? Calling Arab dogs, exposing Saddam, this is an offense to Arab pride and we need them not to feel disrepected by us.

Update 2: Via Frogsdong we learn that according to the Murdoch-owned tabloid, U.S. "military sources said they handed over the photos in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in Iraq." Dude, even I did not accuse them of that. Guess it's time to adjust my paranoia meter.


This Week in Dog

Lucy had a ball catching accident and had to have stitches in her lip, but Dr. Brown sent her home with some nifty pain killers so Lucy has all the good drugs for the weekend.

Katie (pictured above) killed a rat in the bushes. It happened so quickly I didn't even know it was happening. She is little but tough, and quite soulful, as her picture shows -- her occasional ferocity takes me by surprise.

Kobe has been reading about Iggy Pop. His favorite quote:
It was like what Hitler said, "Go for the lowest common denominator." With the Stooges that was really necessary, because those were the only people who really dug us. When we first started out, our fans were JUST A MESS -- it was like early Christianity. It was the ugliest chicks and the most illiterate guys -- people with skin problems, people with sexual problems, weight problems, unemployment problems, mental problems, you name it, they were a mess."
Makes you wonder what they did with themselves after the Stooges broke up.

Kobe and I are off to Lincoln City for Kobe's favorite jaunt of the month to buy organic dog food at Paws on the Sand (the girls hate the car -- they barf -- but Kobe has been known to climb in the autos of complete strangers and stubbornly resist exit). He has a new mix tape sent to us by our good friend Dan, so he will be rockin' the 101.


Bobby Can't Add

Novakula crawls out of his crypt to haunt the Crossfire set once again.

What He Said: You know, James [Carville], of all the lousy issues you have, the lousiest is the debt. As Ronald Reagan once said, I don't worry about the national debt; it's big enough to take care of itself. As a matter of fact, it is smaller as a percentage of GDP than any of our other -- than it has ever been. This is a phony issue. That's not hurting us.

The Truth: In 1929 the national debt was 16.3% of the GDP. In 1981, it was 32.9%. In 2004, the $7.4 trillion national debt constituted 62.9% of the GDP.

What He Meant: Of all the crap we've got to wear around our necks in 2006, this is the one that's going to kill us. Even the professional liars of the GOP are choking as they try to sell themselves as "fiscal conservatives" after blowing through cash like Uday Hussein on a coke jag at Cheetah's.

Note to Howard Dean: I'd flag this one.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Norman Mailer on L'Affair Newsweek

From the Huffington Post:
At the age of eighty-two I do not wish to revive old paranoia, but Lenin did leave us one valuable notion, one, at any rate. It was "Whom?" When you cannot understand a curious matter, ask yourself, "Whom? Whom does this benefit?" Dare I suggest that our Right has just gained a good deal by way of this matter? In every covert Department of Dirty Tricks, whether official, semi-official, or off-the-wall, great pride is best obtained by going real deep into down-and-dirty-land—Yeah! Expedite the consequences.


Why Do the Republicans Hate the Military So?

Once again, without warning, the seemingly autistic Republicans on the House Armed Services subcommittee have decided that women are delicate flowers and must be taken out of support services (medics, truck drivers, canteen suppliers, etc.) that help supply combat units in Iraq.

Probably just doing it at the behest of the military, right? This is something the top brass are really burning for, but they just can't break away from the iron grip of PC feminazis, so wingnuts to the rescue, eh? Er -- no. The military collectively freaked, as a matter of fact. It's not bad enough that they're missing their recruitment goals by 15% this year -- the resolution, if passed, would force them to pull 22,000 female soldiers from their current jobs and replace them with men. Not to mention the grand moral booster it would be for the troops right now, who are so damned happy about being in Iraq in the first place.

The idea is the brain fart of the Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who pressured the subcommittee chairman John McHugh (R-NY) to introduce it at the last minute. No advance notice, no hearings or new studies, they just blindsided Democrats with this flash of penetrating insight into the sexual politics and current deficiencies of the US military.

For a glimpse at the marvelous foresight that went into this brilliant tactical maneuver, let's check with our clever friends at The Corner:
Duncan and McHugh’s amendment is supported by biological fact. An average female soldier is five inches shorter than her male counterpart, and has half the upper-body strength and a lower aerobic capacity. While the courageous women of our military do many things as well as men, the heavy lifting of ground-combat support isn’t one of them.
Right-o. I'm guessing the military is just full of pretty little girls too weak to do their jobs. Every minute or two no doubt they are batting their eyelashes at some big, strong man and distracting him from his duties by asking him to lift a jeep or something.
Of course, these facts mean little to those whose purpose is to make a point about gender equality. They include the Army’s Clintonized generals — who, one suspects, are the real force behind Harvey’s innovation. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, recently wrote: “More than one general has told me that the objective [of allowing women in forward support companies] is to ‘grow’ the careers of female officers, including their own daughters.”
Presumably the military only assigns individual women to jobs they feel they can fulfill, and nobody's complaining but a bunch of desk jockeys in the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, but screw all that -- it's All Clinton's Fault. Sorry, we momentarily forgot our mantra.
That’s a fine goal. The thought of its attainment will bring great comfort to the wounded Marine who lies on the ground, bleeding to death, because no one is there to carry him to safety.
Excuse me? I'm sorry, I didn't follow that. That last statement is just too screamingly stupid to even snark at. If you'd like a shot, have a go, 'cos even Rumsfeld came out against this particular piece of highwire lunacy. I don't have a clue what these less than stable asshats are thinking, if indeed it can even be characterized as thinking, but one wishes they would just content themselves with staring at Jesus in some driveway oil stain and leave the rest of us alone.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

They're Just Making Shit Up Now at the NRO

Because you have to fill up that blank page somehow:
Podhoretz: Peter, "fubsy" is a word invented by the peerlessly witty actor Alec Guinness to describe the kind of character he played in great British comedies like The Lavender Hill Mob -- "a man given to handwashing gestures," Guinness once said, a person who was no threat to anybody.
No, it's been in use for hundreds of years and pretty much just means fat bastard. Anybody want to try and use it correctly in a sentence?.


Another Reason to Love George Galloway

Yesterday's encounter with Christopher Hitchens:
Per The Scottsman: A brief ruckus with British journalist and sworn enemy Christopher Hitchens got proceedings off to a swinging start.

“Booze soaked Trotskyites,” Mr Galloway muttered as he took his seat, arms crossed. “Wide boy,” Hitchens shot back.

Per The Guardian: "You're a drink-soaked former-Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.
As if going all William Wallace on Norm Coleman's ass wasn't enough.

Update: Cervantes has an great post over at Stayin' Alive on Hitchens. He also lets us know that the reporter the NYT sent to cover the Galloway appearance was -- wait for it -- Judith Fucking Queen of Iraq Miller! I guess nobody around the office had any postage stamps that needed licking that morning.

Update 2: Galloway's entire 47 minute testimony is available online at the BBC.


One, Two -- Everybody do the Hannity Shuffle!

Eric Alterman has an interesting take on l'affair Newsweak:
As a journalism professor/media critic, the really interesting question to me here is what should Newsweek have done if the story had been well-sourced and understood to be true, but might help cause the riots, etc.  In principle I’d say, “Publish.”  It’s dangerous in a free society to have reporters worrying about the consequences of what they publish before they publish it.  Except in cases where revealing military (or other forms of secrets) would endanger lives, then it’s the fault of the wrongdoer, not the journalist who publishes.  But as careful readers of this column know, I no longer care very much about principles.  I think they’re for children.  I care about results.  The likely results of publishing this story vastly outweigh the value of publishing it.  Unlike Abu Ghraib, for instance, where the torture would have continued unabated had the country’s conscience—or what’s left of it—not been pricked—I’d say hold off in this case.  The deadly reaction was predictable; the value of the news, highly debatable. (emphasis mine)
I have the utmost respect for Dr. Alterman, but I have to say I think there is value in publishing this particular story. It's clear that the fury over US contempt for Islamic countries has been brewing for a while, and to the extent that the Koran incident contributed to the current unrest it was more of lightening rod than an underlying cause. But they're boiling people to death in Uzbekistan, for god's sake. That this is the issue that finally sends them into orbit frankly mystifies me.

But the US and the world need to hear that rage, and be confronted with the fact that kicking the Koran in the commode is symbolic of the way they feel the US is treating them, and that the notion of a stable, western-friendly government in Iraq is a full-on hallucination until the US cracks down and cuts this shit out. If the truth is what finally causes the Islamic world to send a wake-up call to a slumbering, imperialistic, bellicose and jingoistic Bush Administration that the US is not being greeted as heroes and liberators with this FUBAR war, then so be it. That people died iin the demonstrations is a tragedy. That people are dying every day in Iraq is a tragedy. They are not going to be less dead for Newsweek printing what many other news sources have already reported as being true.

But Alterman makes another good point -- in all the greased-pig squealing of the right-wing noise machine, how come nobody like Scarborough or O'Leilly or Mann Coulter is calling for the head of the reporter, Mike Isikoff? Well, as Media Matters points out, that would be because Isikoff is the man responsible for bringing you the tattered tales of Paula Jones and Linda Tripp like they were worthy of inscription on tablets of stone:
BRIT HUME: This is Michael Isikoff, the veteran investigative journalist, a guy we all know, who has been on this program, somebody who has compiled a pretty good record over the years.

FRED BARNES: He's a very honorable reporter.

L. BRENT BOZELL: One would be hard-pressed to lay the blame directly at the feet of Michael Isikoff.

SEAN HANNITY: By the way, I don't think it's Isikoff. I think it's the people above him, just for the record, Bill [Press, guest]. They make the decision, not Isikoff. He doesn't decide what gets in that magazine.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Isikoff, by the way, is one hell of a reporter. I hate to see this happen to him. What a great reporter he is.
Yes, if you're the reporter directly responsible for dishing up the Bill Clinton sex scandal per the Republican playbook, it earns you a lot of loyalty from the loud-mouth bully boys of the right. Listen carefully and you'll hear them doing one hell of a stinkin' tap dance around Isikoff's involvement. Good thing nobody in the "liberal media" is calling them on it.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Keith Olbermann is a Total Fucking Rock Star and a Stud

Well at least there is one TV newsman who is not groveling in front of BushCo.'s propaganda machine, and he's doing the right thing -- calling for Scott McClellan to resign:
Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will — and at what human cost.

Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years — ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations — only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All of its other government connections — the ones past which it ran the story — have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’

Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 p.m. Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts....

Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way — and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep — Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.
The whole Newsweek faux-scandal is nothing but an attempt to intimidate journalists from printing anything that didn't come out of the white house fax machine smelling of toner, and it's nothing short of fucking awful that journalists everywhere care more about their "access" than they do their professional integrity and they aren't up in arms about this. They should all be calling for McClellan's resignation.

And off topic, sort of -- what's up with the sports guys? Over at the Huffington Post, the person drawing the most attention is Jim Lampley (okay well the most of mine anyway), who has this to say about l'affair Newsweek:
As for expressed neoconservative outrage over the fourteen deaths, get real. Those of us who oppose this administration and its private $300 billion Iraq war are as saddened as we should be about the fourteen people who died in Afghanistan because of this. We're equally saddened by the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians cavalierly sacrificed on the altar of Messrs. Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld's preconceived "anti-terror" initiative. For pro-Bush writers to attempt to guilt-trip professional reporters for collateral damage is beyond ludicrous. It's immoral.
More astute than anything you're going to read on the subject in the NYT or the WaPo any time soon. Plus he kicks Roger Simon around the block a few times, which is always a fun spectator sport.

I'm going to try and carve out some time today to write some LTEs to my local papers. The right-wing squawk machine can only dominate the dialog if we let it happen, and if they win the battle over spin on this one it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. I hope you'll take some time and let your local editors know how you feel, too.

(via the Left Coaster)


More Fun Facts About Base Closings

According to the NYT:
[A]n analysis of Defense Department data showed that states that voted for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee, in the 2004 election stood to lose 24,289 military and civilian jobs, while states that Mr. Bush carried would gain nearly 12,000 jobs.

On average, states that voted for Mr. Bush in 2004 would gain an average of 383 jobs while states that Mr. Kerry won would lose 1,214 jobs. Independent military analysts said that rather than partisan politics, the trend reflected a shift toward bases with bigger training ranges and the ability to accommodate more troops or civilian workers. These bases tend to be in Southern and Western states.
I'm sure it's all just a big coincidence. I feel much better now.


Monday, May 16, 2005

In Honor of Our Compliant Media, or Thank You, Newsweak

According to a new survey, 43% of the public says the press have too much feedom; 22% say the government should be allowed to censor the press. More than 7 in 10 journalists believe the media does an excellent job on accuracy.

We're doomed.

(An oldie but a goodie from Atrios.)


New Poll: More Americans Wake Up, Smell Coffee

Thank heavens for a weak-kneed, backpedaling Newsweak and a few desecrated Korans. Sure took the heat off the new Pew Center poll taken over the weekend which shows that even Laura's horse dick jokes can't bail out her husband, whose approval rating is down to an all-time low of 43%. Republicans in general are getting taken to the woodshed in this season of Social Security, filibuster and DeLay:
Although neither party is escaping blame, the damage to the Republican Party's image may be more severe. Just 35% of Americans say they approve of the job Republican leaders in Congress are doing; 50% disapprove, up from 44% in March of this year, and 42% a year ago.

These generally unfavorable views may have political ramifications for incumbents seeking reelection in 2006. While by more than two-to-one (49%-23%), more say they approve than disapprove of their own representative in the House, this is comparable to measures of satisfaction in the summer of 1993, a year before the historic midterm elections in 1994 in which the Democratic Party lost its majority in the House.
Expect to be hearing a lot more about the Koran.

(Via the Left Coaster)


WaPo to Newsweak: Put on Those Knee Pads!!

Thanks, Howie, for clearing it all up for me. The Putz leads with his chin:
Newsweek apologized yesterday for an inaccurate report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died.
How, exactly, does this jibe with the facts? From the State Department's own website:
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff....Air Force General Richard Myers told reporters at the Pentagon May 12 that he has been told that the Jalalabad, Afghanistan, rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else.
But that hasn't stopped the right-wing noise machine from going full-on John Phillips Souza today. Because, you know, there's still the inaccurate bit:
Some detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey [an attorney in Washington, D.C.], who interviewed clients late last month. -- Philadelphia Enquirer, 1/20/2005
Or this:
They were never given prayer mats and initially they didn't get a Koran. When the Korans were provided, they were kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets. - Center For Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch Report
Never one to let the facts hijack a good story, BushCo. is screaming this morning that an Apology is Not Enough:
McClellan complained that the story was “based on a single anonymous source who could not personally substantiate the allegation that was made.”

“The report has had serious consequences,” he said. “People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.”
Righto, Scotty. Because we well might attach electrodes to their genitals, sexually humiliate and boil 'em to death, but deface the Koran? Wooah, that's where we draw the line!

It's quite ironic that the Administration's tone of self-righteous indignation seems to change, depending on who they're talking to. One for the American public, another for our good friends the irate Saudis:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced yesterday that the desecration of the Qur'an was unacceptable in the US and if the claims were validated, they would take prompt action.
So thanks, Howie, for giving BushCo. the reacharound and tying up the journalistic complexities and contradicting stories in this whole event into a nice, tidy package, demanding of absolutely no thought whatsoever. It's what we look to you for, after all. Your summation is particularly moving:
But critics are already pouncing on the story as the latest in a high-profile series of media blunders at such respected news organizations as the New York Times, USA Today and CBS News. In this case, the consequences -- deadly riots -- were far more serious than a breach of journalistic ethics.
Media blunders? Media blunders? Hey Howie, here's a hot tip for you -- there are no weapos of mass destruction. I think you should get right on it.

(thanks to Susan Hu)


Bugger Bolton

Good article in the Guardian today by Robin Cook, former Leader of the British House of Commons (who resigned in 2003 in protest over British and US hypocrisy and the war in Iraq), on why it is that the neocons hate Kofi Annan so very, very much and why sending Bolton to the UN is the ultimate kick in the teeth:
There is a breathtaking hypocrisy to the indictment of Kofi Annan over the oil for food programme for Iraq. It was the US and the UK who devised the programme, piloted the UN resolutions that gave it authority, sat on the committee to administer it and ran the blockade to enforce it. I know because I spent a high proportion of my time at the Foreign Office trying to make a success of it. If there were problems with it then Washington and London should be in the dock alongside the luckless Kofi Annan, who happened to be general secretary at the time.

But there is a deeper level of perversity to the denigration of Annan by the American right wing. They have long clamoured for reform of the UN. Kofi Annan has just proposed the most comprehensive overhaul of the UN in its history and is the general secretary most likely to deliver support for it. If they persist in undermining him they are likely to derail his reform package. The suspicion must be that they would rather have a creaking, ineffective UN to treat as a coconut shy than a modern, representative forum that would oblige them to respect collective decisions.

The eccentric selection of John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the UN is consistent with such a strategy of sabotage rather than reform. His hostility to any constraint on US unilateralism is so deep, (and his life so sad), that he described his "happiest moment" signing the letter to Kofi Annan telling him that the US would have nothing to do with the international criminal court. His relish in the gesture is all the more revealing as the issue was not within the remit of his job, and he pleaded to be allowed to sign as a special favour.
Annan's proposal for the UN involves four new permanent seats for Africa and Asia, one that would hopefully be filled by a Muslim country (at present no permanent member represents the Muslim world). Putting Bolton in the middle of the UN mix is a big, giant neocon slap in the face to Annan, his leadership and any kind of change within the UN that would give a greater voice to the third world.

Because to paraphrase Wilde: it is not enough that we continue to be rich, someone else must be poor.

(Via Mark at Recidivist Journals)


Sunday, May 15, 2005

'Sheed Bein' 'Sheed

Can't help it, I love this guy.

I have two rules on this blog -- I don't do celebrity gossip, and I don't use the "n" word. But it's raining today, so what the hell.

The story goes that when European players came into the NBA and they couldn't speak the English so good, a certain trash-talking African American point guard would take them aside and say, "okay, now any time you're open and you want the ball, you just throw your hands in the air and scream 'hey ni**er.'"

You can pretty much guess the rest.

Have a good Sunday.


You Bet Your Sweet Ass I'm Paranoid

Time to pull out my tin foil hat. Okay, nice and snug...I'm ready...let's roll.

Call me paranoid, but the big announcement about base closings this week seems awfully politically convenient. Harry Reid has been wholly effective in keeping the Democrats in line to shut down any bi-partisan support for Social Security in the Senate, and President Horse Fluffer has been unsuccessful in getting his Republican moderates to toe the line -- when Voinovich (R-OH) broke ranks with Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay the vote on John Bolton, it was a huge PR blow for BushCo.

In Voinovich's Ohio, there are nine major bases who employ 38,000 people with an economic impact of about five and a half billion dollars a year. As recently as May 6 Ohio newspapers were bracing for the axe, fearful that it was going to drop when the new round of base closings was announced. Of particular concern was the Defense Supply Center Command near Columbus, where 6,100 people are employed. Well, Voinovich has a change of heart this week -- although he can't endorse Bolton, he votes to let the nomination go to the floor of the Senate -- and when the closings are finally announced, low and behold Ohio is a big winner. Not only is the Supply Command Center saved, the Defense Department proposal also recommends adding another 1,700 jobs at the facility.

And what states stand to suffer the most drastic cuts? Well, number one would be Connecticut, where the Naval submarine base at Groton will mean the biggest single loss of jobs in the proposal -- 8,400 jobs and $2.5 billion in annual revenues. Right in the home state of the Democrat Most Likely To, Joe Lieberman. Lieberman certainly can't look to the left for help -- Kos himself has declared Lieberman must go and promises to support his ousting in the primaries next election cycle -- and if Lieberman can't somehow save the base at Groton and forestall the terrible economic blow to his own state, he's in a pretty precarious position come election time. So what has he got to deal? I'd say plenty.

Second hardest hit -- the state of Maine, home to centrist Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who are said to be two of the GOP Senators most likely to vote against Frist if he goes "nuclear." According to the NYT:
Lawmakers and local officials in Maine, one of the hardest-hit states with three closings, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, vowed to challenge the Pentagon's plans that would cost nearly 7,000 military and civilian jobs.

"In arriving at these inexplicable decisions, the Defense Department and the Navy must have been operating in a fog so thick they couldn't even see the facts in front of them," said Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine.
And the big winner? Why, Fearless Leader's own state of Texas, of course, which stands to net a total of 6,150 military and civilian jobs under the new proposal.

I was watching In the Money on CNN this morning, just because I like to be irritated by Jack Cafferty. And Jack tells me to expect a lot of kicking and screaming over the base closures as they are negotiated over the next few weeks. I'm betting these Senators are now faced with the choice of supporting GBW, whose disastrous war has led the country to the point where these base closures are necessary, or facing the wrath of their constituents suffering massive unemployment in the wake of the cuts. Jack claims, of course, that there is nothing political about these closures. You wouldn't think he could sit comfortably for a whole hour with Rove's hand up his ass like that.

Oh -- and for anyone who mistakenly thought that old Cat Killer Frist was a stand-up guy -- consider the fate of South Dakotans who took him at his word. According to the NYT:
During the campaign, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, appeared outside the base with John Thune, the Republican challenger, and promised to use his clout to spare Ellsworth if South Dakotans turned Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, out of office. Mr. Thune won.
And the new proposal calls for Ellsworth to be closed with a net loss of 4,000 jobs.