Saturday, March 08, 2003

I remember a time when I was very young when my parents took me to see a musician. I was gravely disappointed, not because the music wasn't good, but because I thought they said we were going to see a magician.

Magic acts, done properly, can teach us at least one very important lesson: Don't forget to pay attention to the hand they aren't talking about.

As we prepare to watch our, um, President toss away whatever is left of America's moral standing in the world, it's important to remember that the 'shock and awe' portion of the upcoming war is intended to stun our own population into submission, as well as the Iraqis'. The administration (read Karl Rove) hopes the spectacle of 'smart weaponry' and ever-so-inventive Rumsfeldian paradigms of warfare will take America's eyes off of innumerable issues on the home front.

In recognition of this fact, Soto of Daily Kos fame has decided he's going to stop playing the credulous audience member.

Like the blogosphere's own Penn Jillette, Soto's blog, The Left Coaster, will instead concentrate his efforts on what the other hand is doing.

It's hard for me to avoid thinking--and ranting--about this war, and I'm sure many of you have the same problem. The fascination with big explosions doesn't only affect warbloggers. Make sure to check in with Soto every few minutes to make sure that Rove hasn't tried to sneak some new, grotesque distortion of American democracy past you while you weren't looking.

Friday, March 07, 2003

For whatever reason, blogger has decided to obliterate my content, and to double my ads. Sounds like the administration.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Tim Russert Amends Constitution


Tim Russert has progressed from Bush apologist to Bush stooge over the past few months; now, he has crossed over to being a hatchet-man, with no greater claim to journalistic objectivity than, say, Pat Buchanan, or James Carville.

Here's a quote from an interview with Russert that appeared on MSNBC.com shortly after G-Dub's press conference this evening:

He laid out the case in his way--an interesting way. He said something very straightforward, that he has analyzed all the information, all the intelligence, all the data. That he had concluded as commander-in-chief that Saddam Hussein is a risk to American security and that he has made a decision. Therefore he has to act and has a constitutional duty to act.

You can not argue with that premise. You can argue that he is misinterpreting the data or the intelligence or he should have reached a different conclusion. But, the president will counter saying, “I’m sorry, you have a right to disagree with me. I have made this decision.”[Emphasis mine]

I can't? Watch me.

Although the President was extremely careful to avoid using the word "war" to describe the methods by which the United States would force Iraq to disarm, virtually nobody believes that an attack on another country that has its own stable government would not constitute a war.

So, although G-Dub put his hand on the bible (didn't you just love that touch?) and swore to protect the Constitution of the United States, he cannot do so by attacking Iraq. If he wants to protect our Constitution, he will ask Congress to declare a war, which he will then prosecute as the Commander in Chief of our armed forces.

There. See how easy that was? I didn't have to quibble with Bush's interpretation of the data one iota. Hell, I could make the argument even if I granted the presupposition that Saddam's Iraq poses a threat. Regardless of how seriously Bush takes his oath o' office, war is simply not his call. Yes, Congress voted to cede that authority a few months ago, but again, the Constitution makes no provision for a branch of government signing away its authority on any matter, much less the gravest matter a nation can undertake. Which is to say, it wasn't their call, at least not then.

For an experienced journalist like Russert to casually abet this crime against our Constitution is unconscionable, if not entirely unexpected. The frightening thing to me about living in this country these days, though, is that even if Bush did go with hat in hand asking for a declaration of war as our Constitution demands, I don't think our congressional Democrats would have the guts to insist that Bush lay real data on the table, even after these last few weeks of egregious lying.

We've known for a while that Russert hasn't been impartial. But for him to say that no objection to a President's unconstitutional pronouncements could even exist effectively marks the end of his career as a journalist, and the beginning of his life as an advocate. I hope people will take notice.
Howard Fineman joins the ranks of journalists desperately trying to position themselves so that they're right regardless of how this war turns out (paging Richard Cohen...).

In a typical ether-induced 'think piece,' Fineman talks about how Bush's lack of sophistication allowed the international slick hustlers to take him to the cleaners. The best line is toward the end, as the hallucinations of Oriental bazaars slowly lessen as the fog in Fineman's head clears:

"Perhaps Dad can explain French thinking to his son. Dad might explain that there’s a time for tough talk and a time for a diplomatic peck on the cheek (or even a metaphoric kiss on the butt). Because, for better or worse, we’re not in Midland anymore."
Bush announces news conference.

Wow. Just having a news conference, with reporters asking questions and stuff, is big news for this administration. I wonder if there's been a substantial technological leap recently in the field of 'animatronics,' or whether they're actually going to allow Bush to field questions on his own.
Bill Safire has always held a special place of contempt in my heart. A man who had the gall to publish a column on English usage, yet refused to acknowledge that calling Bill Clinton a "congenital liar" was, in fact, a slur against his family; a man who, like Peggy Noonan, channels dead people; a man who worked for Nixon--such a man should not be allowed to roam free, my soul screams out, much less write a column in America's "paper of record."

But he is allowed, and paid, to write cocksure drivel such as
today's column.

He writes, "If Bush's vision of a transformed region fails, it will fail while daring greatly — a nobler course than that weakly advocated, in Teddy Roosevelt's words, by "those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

That's freaking great, Bill. That will bring the Middle East a whole lot of solace. Lay off the crack.
Oh, hell yeah. The Democrats' newly emerging political backbone stood its first real test:

CNN.com - GOP fails to end Democratic filibuster on Estrada - Mar. 6, 2003

My favorite part? "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said the GOP will try again later to break the filibuster but added that the Senate will turn to other business in the interim."

So let's see: the Democrats are starting to build up their puny muscles after the last election debacle, and Frist is planning to give them more chances to exercise? This is a perfect opportunity for the Dems to solidify relationships with their base while the rest of the country worries about a war.

Bill Frist may be some kind of good Samaritan folk hero with all his "Dr. Bill" side gigs. But I think for the Democrats, another couple of failed cloture votes would be just what the Doctor ordered.
Just testing out the Casio...

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Back to Iraq 2.0 has a really interesting piece on Turkey's "no" vote. Go!

The upshot? The Turkish military wants free rein in Kurdistan, and they won't have it if there are any pesky American troops in the North.

Of course, that won't be a problem if we don't invade; but if we worry about that kind of thing, then the terrorists have already won, right?
Josh Marshall explains that because we really DO need to deal with Saddam, and because the Bush team escalated things to such a degree that American credibility was 100% on the line, we now have to do something: "We’re all hostage to the Bush administration’s incompetence, whether we like it or not."

But people, this is how G-Dub's team operates: They just keep escalating, raising the stakes like a gambling addict at a Texas hold-em table. Remember when he "won" the election, and everybody said "Hey, he's got no mandate. He just has to be a uniter, not a divider?" Yeah, that really happened as predicted, huh? No, instead, Team G-Dub went out and gave us Ashcroft, and a massive tax cut--daring us to rein him in with the voice of common sense (which they would then call 'partisanship').

So, no, Josh, we cannot accept that we are hostages to this team's incompetence; if we do, we are essentially telling them that all they have to do to get what they want is to get us into a bad spot. And they're more than willing to get us into tons of bad spots to get what they want.
To any experienced bloggers who may find themselves here:

How did you guys make your sites all fancy, with blogrolls, and reading lists, and that kind of stuff? Didja edit the HTML by hand? I'm more than competent enough to do so, but I'd really rather not. Please advise.
It would appear that G-Dub is not the soul-reader that he thought he was. This article reveals that his Putey-pal has given him a good, old-fashioned KGB dagger in the back.

I swear--aren't there any people left on the Earth who have pure enough motives to let us go bomb the hell out of Iraq?