Friday, October 31, 2003
** Food

Cloned meat is coming, and it won't be labeled.
** Military

Billmon has a great discussion of the reisistance in Iraq and the great effect to which cheap mortars are be used to inflict damage on American static defenses. He also gets into the economics of insurgencies, comparing expensive high technology weapons to hordes of relatively expendible guerillas. Well worth the read, and timeless, so if you're reading this later go back and read it anyway.
* Halloween

I'm going to a Halloween party tonight as Ronald Reagan. I sometimes like to debate who is a worse president, Reagan or Bush II. I still say it's Reagan, although every day I become less and less convinced of that.

Anyway, while studying up on Reagan's catchphrases, I saw this one which is actually quite insightful. I leave it to you for your quote of the day:

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.

* Iraq

The NYTimes is reporting that senior American officials believe that Saddam himself may actually be running the Iraqi resistance. Score one for Debka, which was reporting this a couple of days ago. My position on Debka remains the same: usually worth the read, but take everything they say with a pound of salt.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
** Blogging

Slashot is running a story that I submitted regarding my favorite blogger Atrios and a defamation lawsuit threat that he received for comments in his weblog. Beware: you too might be sued for libel if you say something slanderous online! On the other hand, I'm sure Atrios is psyched to get this free publicity.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
** Iraq

According to the Project on Defense Alternatives (nope, I've never heard of them), about 13,000 Iraqis were killed during the major combat phase of the last war. This number includes over 4,000 civilians, which is more than died during Gulf War I. Of course I had to read about this on BBC -- I doubt it will get much play in American media.
** Iraq

This morning's Washington Post analysis of the strategic situation in Iraq is definitely worth a read. The article posits that the only conceivable American strategy at this point is to accelerate the training and deployment of Iraqi security forces, to take the burden off of US forces. The alternative, to cut and run, would most likely lead to a Lebanon like situation, and then the "terrorists will have won." The main problem is that the US might not have sufficient time to pull this off before the Iraqi public turns hostile. And as Steve Gilliard always says, the enemy has a vote too. Based on the recent incidents in Iraq, it seems that the enemy vote may be winning, and I don't think there's going to be a recall this time.
Monday, October 27, 2003
* Iraq

Bombs on Red Cross and Police Kill 33 in Baghdad. So is the Bush Administration's PR push to say that things really aren't so bad in Iraq officially dead yet?
Friday, October 24, 2003
** Politics

Bush is the world's biggest idiot.

Minutes after President Bush finished an hourlong meeting with moderate Islamic leaders on the island of Bali on Wednesday, he approached his staff with something of a puzzled look on his face.

"Do they really believe that we think all Muslims are terrorists?" he asked, shaking his head. He was equally distressed, he told them, to hear that the United States was so pro-Israel that it was uninterested in the creation of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel, despite his frequent declarations calling for exactly that.

It was a revealing moment precisely because the president was so surprised.

Time for the morning wake-up call, Mr. President. Thank god he actually spoke to some foreigners and got heckled in Australia and had to see some small piece of reality.
** Politics

Republicans are now openly criticizing Rumsfeld. The memo, Boykin, unanswered letters, general arrogance, etc.

Analysis: One or two more really bad incidents and he may just have to go, despite how bad that may look to the Bush administration's Iraq policies.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
*** Politics

On October 10, I linked to a New York Daily News article by Thomas DeFrank stating that Rumsfeld and Powell would be canned if Bush won reelection in 2004. (Click on the archives to your right if you want to see the article, I can't link directly to it.

Now DeFrank has another fascinating article that further probes the rifts in the Bush administration. Today's story is that Bush is pissed at Rummy for leaking yesterday's memo on the War on Terror because it puts Bush in a bad light. Definitely worth a read.

Also worth a read is Josh Marshall's discussion about why DeFrank is able to get such juicy gossip. Josh says: "DeFrank has deep ties with various Bush One insiders including the president." Josh further speculates that DeFrank is now the goto guy "for some Bush One type at or in the orbit of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Oh, who could that be …"

Is Josh referring to Powell? Cheney doesn't seem to be a likely suspect, since he's so in bed with Rummy. On the other hand, the first DeFrank article also has negative things to say about Powell. Hmm.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
** War on Terror

The USA Today has obtained a memo from Donald Rumsfeld to his chief advisors (Wolfowitz, Myers, Pace and Feith) that discusses progress (or lack thereof) in the ongoing War on Terror. As the USA Today discusses in an accompanying article, the tone of the memo is a lot less rosy than the tone taken by the Bush Administration in public statements on this subject.

Analysis: I wonder whether Rumsfeld intentionally leaked this to get some revenge on the Bush team for publicly humiliating him by putting Condi in charge of Iraq.

via Atrios

Update: Looks like I was half right. This wasn't a leak at all -- the Defense Department put this out intentionally.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
*** Politics/Intelligence

Absolute must-read piece by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker regarding Iraq WMD intelligence. It attempts to answer the question: "How did the American intelligence community get it so wrong?" Short answer: senior administration officials dismantled filtering mechanisms so that they could gain access to explosive but uncorroborated intelligence, which was then used to justify the war.
Monday, October 20, 2003
* Crime

Looks like John Allen Muhammed, one half of the psycho Sniper team, is going to be representing himself in trial. This should be interesting.
Friday, October 17, 2003
* Politics

The best Mark Fiore flash comic that I've ever seen is available here. Warning: noisy, so maybe not safe for work. It might also require a Salon subscription ...
Thursday, October 16, 2003
* Lord of the Rings

There has been overwhelming demand for tickets to the marathon Lord of the Rings trilogy showing that's going to take place around the country on December 16, leading to the midnight premiere of the Return of the King. Tickets are on sale on eBay, and prices are as high as $455 per ticket.

Since they're showing the extended versions of the first two films, the whole event will have to take over 12 hours. I guess it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, but the thought of sitting in a theater for that long just isn't bearable to me. And I'm a big fan. Not big enough, I guess.
** Politics

Bush has ordered his aides to stop leaking information to the media, according to a a leak from an unnamed Bush aide.

Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.

Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

The article goes on to say that Bush is curious whether the infighting in his administration is as bad as it was during the Reagan years, and that he has been informed that it is "far worse". Apparently this makes him angry.

As Nelson would say, "Ha ha."

via Atrios
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
* Technology

This is a funny NYTimes article about people who buy gadgets and then never use them because they're too complicated, unnecessary, or useless. Or the gadget is simply lost in the clutter of life and forgotten about. Apparently this is very common and eBay is seeing a surge in "like new" items available for sale. I feel a little bit better now about the webcam that I bought that immediately disappeared.
Monday, October 13, 2003
** Technology

The NYTimes has an interesting article about a P2P voice-over-IP company called Skype. It was fouded by the same guys that wrote Kazaa. Over a million copies of their software have been downloaded already. It allows for free phone calls between any two broadband users. All you need is a $10 headset. They're trying to make it work so that you can use it to call regular telephone not attached to the Net. Looks like we're heading towards full free voice communication.
Saturday, October 11, 2003
*** Politics

Also definitely worth a read is Adam Nagourney's NYTimes piece called Republicans Ponder the Center. The thesis is that Arnold may be bad news for conservatives. As a popular and moderating voice in the Republican party, he's moving the party closer to the center on social issues. This could be a smart move demographically because the country as a whole is moving in that direction. But the conservatives will fight back. Could this be a good thing for the country as a whole after all? Isn't a decrease in the power of the conservative base about the best thing that lefites can hope for?
Friday, October 10, 2003
*** Politics

Fascinating article from the Daily News about political rifts in the Bush Administration. The article is sourced to only "Bush sources" so who knows how legit this is. Nonetheless clearly worth the read for speculation about Rumsfeld and Powell being replaced if Bush is reelected in 2004. Seriously, you should read the whole article, but here are the choice Rumsfeld quotes:

"The President feels let down," one well-placed source told The News. "He feels as if Rumsfeld was unwilling to come and get help [for the postwar effort] and thinks his inability to trust anyone other than his immediate subordinates created a serious, ongoing problem in both Afghanistan and Iraq."

Moreover, the source added, "After the war, Rumsfeld wanted to get back to [Pentagon] modernization and transformation and took his eye off the ball."

and Powell:

"Powell has basically absented himself from this situation because he wanted Rumsfeld to fail - and believe me, the President's unhappy about that, too."

and Rice:

"[Rice] emerges as the winner."

via Steve Gilliard
** Food Safety

The NYTimes is running a long investigative report on safety violations at cattle slaughterhouses. The biggest problem appears to be that the slaughterhouses just can't seem to remove all of the cow shit from the production line. But despite a "zero tolerance" policy and repeated violations (the company at issue here was cited for feces once every 12 days during one time period) the Department of Agriculture does nothing more than issue threats. There are no shutdowns.

Analysis: as with all health and safety issues, this is almost purely a public relations issue. In other words, as long as people think that the food system is safe, that's good enough. But when confidence falls, the consequences can be devastating (cf. Mad Cow Disease). So kudos to the Times for making this public.
* War on Terror

It seems that the US is planning to attack Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to Cheney, anyway:

Remember what we saw on the morning of 9-11. And knowing the nature of these enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government," Cheney said. "We must do everything in our power to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction."

The only possible conclusion from this is that a secret plan is underway to invade Pakistan and take away the possibility of a nuclear attack, and to invade Saudi Arabia to make sure that the Saudi Arabian terrorists like the 9-11 hijackers are defeated.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
** Politics

First it was CIA vs. Cheney, and now it's Rumsfeld vs. Rice. The infighting is getting worse by the hour.
* Gropinator

I've been reading the lefty blogs this morning. Lots of talk about how to fight back. The best discussion I've seen is at the Whisky Bar. Among other things, people are talking about who the Dems should put up as a candidate if there's another recall. My favorite comment comes from Keith, who asks: "Is Linda Hamilton a Democrat?"

For what it's worth, I'm not in favor of launching an immediate counter-recall. I would have been if it were closer but our asses were whupped. I now think it's better to wait and proceed with lawsuits to flesh out the groping allegations.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
** Afghanistan

The US is predicting "spectacular" attacks by the Taliban against US forces in the near future. They want Pakistan to do a better job containing the militants.

Analysis: This war never ended, despite the public proclamations of victory. This looks to me like the Bush Administration is trying to get ahead of the story, because it's sure going to look bad if and when we suffer a defeat that's bad enough to make it into the papers. Given that journalists have no real access to what's going on, if the citizens are being warned that something bad is going to happen, you can only imagine how bad things really are there right now.
Monday, October 06, 2003
** Humor

I was reading last week's edition of The Onion this morning when I came across an article entitled Thank You, But That Was Siegfried's Idea. It was purportedly written by Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn, with photo and all. I looked at the headline in disbelief. Could they really have written an article parodying the Vegas duo that just happened to come out a day or two before the tiger attack? I read on. Yes indeed. Total coincidence. The article basically makes fun of Roy. He's talking to a fan, and has to admit that all of the good ideas were Siegfried's, except that Roy came up with the idea of having tigers in the show. Very eerie.

I checked online this morning, and the article has been removed from TheOnion.com for obvious reasons. I was, however, able to find a Google cached version of the site that has a link to the article. Unfortunately I can't find a cache of the article itself, but I'll hold on to the hard copy.
* Media

Support the LA Times. Apparently a bunch of morons have been canceling their subscriptions due to the recent Gropinator coverage. Reuters story here.
Friday, October 03, 2003
** War on Drugs

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says that he plans to smoke a marijuana joint after he retires. He's prepared to pay the small fine that would be imposed by Canadian law.

Information about immigrating to Canada can be found here among other places.
* Traitorgate

Eric Boehlert at Salon notes that opinion is slowly but surely coalescing that Scooter Libby is the leaker.

On Wednesday the New York Daily News reported that "Democratic congressional sources said they would like to hear from Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby." On MSNBC's "Buchanan and Press" on Wednesday, Pat Buchanan asked an administration critic who claims to know the leaker's name point blank if "Scooter Libby" was the culprit (the critic wouldn't answer). And Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska made a veiled reference on CNBC this week, suggesting that President Bush could better manage the current crisis by "sitting down with [his] vice president and asking what he knows about it."

Analysis: So this is shaping up to be a battle between the CIA and Cheney. It's too early to say too much, but you have to give the initial advantage to the CIA. If it turns out that one of Plame's contacts died because of this, public opinion will go haywire. Even if nobody dies, Cheney still ends up looking like the world's worst hypocrite.
Welcome to Loudocracy! Some of you may remember me from Hand in Socket. Time pressures forced me to discontinue blogging, but I'm back and better than ever. There's nothing like seeing a disintegration of government happening right before your very eyes to make you want to comment on it.
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