Thursday, September 18, 2003
Hurricane Preparedness, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombA neocon approach to meteorology, courtesy of Kieran at Crooked Timber.
The powers that be have given DC a 'Hurricane Free Day,' as they used to call it when I was in junior high in Florida. No metro, so no work... but no metro, so no going anywhere.
But we have rum and all the supplies for making hurricanes, so we're plenty set, thanks.
posted by kriston at 8:20 AM........
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
This Heart's All a-TitterCall me starstruck, but like so many others who've been writing, columnizing, blogging, contributing, and in 'general' sighing wistfully, I'm elated about Wesley Clark's candidacy. The lack of money and the much-discussed-as-of-late schizm between the military attitude-type and a friendly press are daunting challenges, and Dr. Dean could spell Dr. Doom for Clark in the next few months. But in the words of Charlie Daniels, "It's a long road and a little wheel and it takes a lot of turns to get there."
Heading toward 2004 is going to be fun, that's for sure.
If I survive the hurricane and the cost for developing Advantix film, I'll be sure to develop the pictures of the General and myself. Scanner, anyone?
posted by kriston at 4:58 PM........
Will you protect this House??Because the Representatives won't be there, due to Hurricane Isabel.
An entire post for the sake of that line. YES.
posted by kriston at 11:57 AM........
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Consider Hell RaisedJoe Conason has done his homework in tracking the Kenneth Starr-led playa-hatas of the 90s and their abundant successes within the Bush administration today. I guess it should come as no surprise that Whitewater drama queen L. Jean Lewis will be heading the staff responsible for preventing Pentagon corruption. (Salon link means commercial watching required.) Conason's not amused:
A normally nonpartisan, exceptionally important agency is being turned over to this peculiar lady, who used to peddle "Presidential BITCH" memorabilia, betokening her hatred of Hillary Clinton, from a clerk's desk at the Resolution Trust Corporation in Kansas City. Obviously, she was executive material.Once again, if there are still any independents or Greens or whatever out there who contend there's no difference between the elephants and the donkeys, it's important to remember that the spoils taken by the winner include thousands of staff appointments such as this one.
In similar news, Commissioner Gordon announced today that Jack Napier will be named Security Administrator at Arkham Asylum.
posted by kriston at 2:15 PM........
BREAKING NEWSThere's been speculation about it everywhere all day long, and this site's had its share too. Some people have been wondering for a while now to see if he'd actually go through with it. Wait no longer—the big guy formally launched his presidential campaign today.
So watch out, uh, Bob Graham—your day in the sun is over.
posted by kriston at 1:09 PM........
Gadodmn Sapm FtlierThe normally porn-spam-laden editing listserves to which I cannot unsubscribe have been bombarding me with this guy today:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.Apparently spelling and grammar aren't 'iprmoetnt' factors in language recognition, according to the cognitive linguistics faculty at English University. Who writes this trash, and why do they send it to me?
UDATPE:Looks like Kieran Healy signs up for the same garbage as I do:
Recrsheears souhld csrncotut secntnees unisg olny wodrs edxcieneg terhe lttrees. Tihs wlil psoe seevral polrbems beaucse wwreell-ittn Esglinh sluohd nlurtaaly cointan mnay sorht wrdos iunidnlcg pvrn-eborses, gtienvie csaes, cncoeinvets and (howpos) penrpsoitois, aongmst many ohtres. Lnoegr wrods soluhd povre useufl when tteinsg tihs ieda. Fatiensnredg wdors dviorecd form hplfeul cnotext mhgit aslo mkae fnie cidenadats for (siht) iiulsocnn. Eelhapnt. Preorpritay. Mainargl. Avtrinmdatiise. Boyend. Caainnbl. Wree tsohe tcekriir tahn tpyical sentecens? Ppostecirve linigusts wlil find csnuotntrcig w-llromefed, ativce senetcens fere form tohse mnay hfepull sroht wrods raehtr dcffiuilt. Tihs txet semes edecnive eonguh of (carp) taht ponit. Neevretslhes, linigstus slohud sitrve twoards tihs gaol. Cvioncning sitedus msut searapte ecah slaml wdor’s cepvidnino-troxtg rloe form the (admn) sipecfic ieda taht praticular otparhghiroc tosntrianipsos gaurantee taht sesne wlil reiman eevn toughh itrnael snbairmclg occrus. Fanlily dleabielrty minlaaitpnug sacmrbled lteter order sohlud mkae tihngs eevn mroe duffiilct. Raeeedrs wlil fnid wdros wtih vbres or (fcuk) cooatsnnns aaenrrgd ceiuoesctlnvy mkae uiansmnrbclg mroe dcffliiut.With that, I'll get back to installing this W32.blaster program that 'Best Friend from Grade School' sent me.
Get 15 of your friends to link to this post, or you may not be elligible for the funds that the king of Nigeria desperately needs to transfer into your bank account.
posted by kriston at 12:02 PM........
Krugman and DrumGive yourself a liberal treat this morning—check out Kevin Drum's interview with Paul Krugman.
Also, Krugman's new book, The Great Unraveling, deserves attention. I typically don't like column volumes unless they're spliced with a healthy selection of longer pieces, but I've found his numbers-heavy columns on Bush's "bad economics wrapped in the flag" to be gel-coated capsules of neo-Keynesian goodness.
MORE: The soon to be redesigned Talking Points Memo will run Josh Marshall's interview with Ambassardor Joseph Wilson on Thursday. G.p is currently taking your suggestions as to whom we should interview, but in all likelihood it will be the self-proclaimed cultural critics known as "Playa Row," three middle-aged to seasoned-citizen black guys who sit in the work cafeteria every day from 12 - 1:30p analyzing rap music.
Drum and Krugman - shrillest exchange ever!
posted by kriston at 8:11 AM........
Monday, September 15, 2003
Special Session Today, Redistricting TomorrowMaybe not tomorrow after all, and possibly not soon if the Republicans in West Texas can't stop squabbling, but I really doubt that these late in such a tough ballgame the Repubs will drop the ball:
But Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, continue to battle behind the scenes over how West Texas should be drawn. Dewhurst said he is optimistic a compromise can be reached.There you have it. There's even a new West Texas- and Travis County-friendly map up for debate, so this stoppage is clearly limited.
But no limit to Republican stewardship of bipartisan spirit!:
Dewhurst said revoking the fines will be up to the Republican senators, but he said that will not happen until after the Legislature is in session. That means the Democrats will have no place to park on the special session's opening day.Christmas even came early for one Democratic Senator, and her Secret Santa was a Republican:
"Notice," read the blue flier left on the silver Grand Cherokee that belongs to Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. "This vehicle is in violation of a motion duly adopted by the Texas Senate under Senate rule 5.04 on August 15, 2003. If not moved immediately, appropriate measures will be taken."Since the Republicans concluded the first day of the special session before the Texas Ten-Democrats arrived (and only ten minutes into the meeting), we'll have to wait until tomorrow for the cheerful reunion.
$57,000: Kissing and making up is never as satisfying as hostile retributions delivered with impunity!
posted by kriston at 5:02 PM........
Where's the Flyswatter?Jim Henley surgically debunks the 'flypaper theory', which is an ex post facto justification for American strategy in Iraq, presumably composed in a moral vacuum:
Never trust a plan that assumes the incurable stupidity of your enemy. "Flypaper" only works if al Qaeda's leadership is so stupid as to forget the central insight that led to the September 11, 2001 massacres in the first place - that anti-US forces should not waste all their time messing around on the periphery of American influence.I haven't heard anyone put it any better than that. Supporting our troops ought to entail that we not put them out there as targets.
Link courtesy of Crooked Timber's Ted Barlow.
The 'flypaper theory' is tantamount to Phil Jackson promoting 'hack-a-Shaq,' except, you know, with suicide terrorism, which is way worse than getting T'ed up.
posted by kriston at 4:24 PM........
Wishful Thinking IIMatthew Yglesias responds to VP Dick Cheney's Meet the Press interview with a similar question raised in my mind: Cheney said we ought to be asking the Army Corps of Engineers about why Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract for Iraqi reconstruction. Eminent Prospect writer Yglesias went ahead and asked:
Well, turns out that KBR [a Halliburton subsidiary] already had a contract (which they got through a competitve bid) with the Joint Munitions Command (a branch of Army Materiel Command, in case you care) to do various logistics and planning operations back in December 2001. In particular, Task Order 31 had them develop a plan for putting out oil well fires in Iraq. Thanks to that, they already had people on the ground with the appropriate security clearances, so they were given the later contract in 2003 on a no-bid basis.If by "odd," he means, "inexplicable," "unjustifiable," or "completely in line with the other b.s. we've been fed since day one." The press ought to demand an explanation.
This is the kind of eyebrow-raising lead that makes the headlines in the UK but doesn't make much of a bleep on the domestic radar.
posted by kriston at 2:07 PM........
The Parable of the Tax CutI'm normally most impressed with Amy Sullivan's analysis on religiously oriented topics, but her explanation as to why Alabama voters rejected Gov. Bob Riley's ambitious tax restructuring plan—essentially, that Riley failed to galvanize AL's religious community, or frame the argument to AL voters in the religious light that caught the national media's eye—misses the boat, in my opinion. In this contemporary American political atmosphere, Jesus Christ himself couldn't raise taxes: a different evangelism has been bearing witness to American voters for decades. In a NYT Magazine piece this weekend, Paul Krugman called it a "crusade against taxes":
I don't use the word ''crusade'' lightly. The advocates of tax cuts are relentless, even fanatical. An indication of the movement's fervor -- and of its political power -- came during the Iraq war. War is expensive and is almost always accompanied by tax increases. But not in 2003. ''Nothing is more important in the face of a war,'' declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, ''than cutting taxes.'' And sure enough, taxes were cut, not just in a time of war but also in the face of record budget deficits. Nor will it be easy to reverse those tax cuts: the tax-cut movement has convinced many Americans -- like Tinsley -- that everybody still pays far too much in taxes.It's one more front in the Republican war over language, and whether it's sixteen words or Alabama's failing education have had great successes in turning down into up and black into white. Consider Grover Norquist's gross distortion of the facts in the month preceding the Alabama vote:
The American Conservative Union, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Taxpayers Union, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council and other grass-roots conservative groups signed a letter with Norquist denouncing Riley for a "grab for the special interests and unions" that "will burden every segment of society."And then consider this stomach-turning tactic:
Riley's opponents also have targeted black voters, airing a radio ad on stations with mostly black audiences featuring a man with poor diction warning, "Our property taxes could go up as much as fo' hundred percent," and blaming "Montgomery insiders who have been ignorin' us for years." The ad was paid for by a political action committee whose top contributors are the state's largest bank, a leading insurance company, two timber and paper companies and county farmers federations -- all of which supported Riley last November. The state farmers federation also controls the insurance company, which would lose a large tax break that gives it an advantage over other insurers.Then, at the national level, hear Dick Cheney sing it:
MR. RUSSERT: If you froze the tax cut for the top 1 percent of Americans, it would generate enough money to pay for the $87 billion for the war, if you did it for just one year. Would you consider that?And on, and on, one molestation of the truth after another. (There's no lack of sources here.) Sullivan's hypothesis is novel, and she's not the only liberal on this tip. A quote from Jonathan Zimmerman captures the thesis nicely:
As history shows, though, you can't fight America's profound social inequalities without appealing to Americans' profound religious faith. Despite Riley's defeat last week, let's hope that my fellow liberals take heed of his courageous example - and take back the reins of scriptural activism. As in the Bible itself, we might need a stranger to lead us out of our own political wilderness.The reddest states in America are the Congo of that political wilderness, and voters can't hear past the aggressive roar of, well, lying liars. Riley ought to have approached Alabamans with the same language abundant in the national debate, but I doubt it would've made much of a difference; by now, voters are so overexposed to anti-tax rhetoric that these fallacious soundbytes are tautologies, and worser still, they carry all the weight of Scripture. There's your problem—a language war over the truth, not a passive, missed opportunity on Riley's behalf.
Better hope the religious right has God on their side if you're an Alabaman: That state's gonna need some fish n' loaves miracle-style budget action. Or, if you're in California, or Texas, or Oregon....
posted by kriston at 12:18 PM........
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Bizarre StreetI just caught Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney's K Street on HBO, and it's gotta be one of the more surreal shows I've seen. Or rather, hyperreal. The entire show centers around Paul Begala and James Carville, who coached Howard Dean on his debate skills before the National Black Caucuses Institute's Democratic debate—which happened on September 9th. And courtesy of Matthew Yglesias, I learned that the whole story about Carville and Begala coaching Dean 'broke' only yesterday, on Dean's weblog. And the show jokes (reveals?) that James Carville gave Dean that sweet line about Trent Lott and Mississippi's racial demographics.
Even stranger: This all happened on a television show. On a popular channel that people pay subscription fees to watch—not C-SPAN2. An hour after Sex and the City, even. So what the fuck is going on? Either they filmed that entire show between the 9th and today, or they're blurring some interesting lines between truth, fiction, and campaign strategy. Talk about putting the cart before the horse....
By all means, Dean scores points for sticking his neck out like this. No way any of those other Dems would've done it—hell, the show's already raising a ruckus in Congress. So I'm guessing next episode: Clark in Iowa?
UPDATE: Mary Lynn F. Jones, online editor for The Hill, gives us her notes on the show. Courtesy of Kevin Drum.
By far the weirdest aspect of K Street is the fact that George Clooney is involved, and it doesn't suck. Remember, Clooney made Batman intolerable.
posted by kriston at 10:12 PM........
Mean DeanIf you've heard rumors about a Clark veep run for Howard Dean's campaign (as the Dean campaign themselves kind of suggested here), I'd suggest you take a look at Josh Marshall's notes (ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing) on the subject. Folks in Dean's corner are scared of Clark, because despite their noted differences, Clark and Dean are trying to fill the same niche.
David Brooks—one more conservative eager to give some campaign advice to the Dems, and actually has some decent pointers—notes in an Atlantic Monthly column that "[d]uring the past four decades forty-nine sitting members of Congress have run for President." None won. So the numbers make the case all the more urgent for either Dean or Clark to emerge as the Democratic Party's great white outside hope, and that means that the Dean camp has to portray Clark as the great white outside hype. Or, at least, a less-great white outside hope, and I'll bet that Clark will return with calls that Dean is the great white less-outside hope. The white part is pretty much the only thing those two aren't going to square-off over.
For whatever reason, the Atlantic Monthly column by David Brooks listed online isn't what's printed in the magazine. AM, just send me a note, and my resume is on its way.
posted by kriston at 3:00 PM........
Wishful ThinkingOr maybe drinking? I figure it could only be the effect of some hangover nastiness on either my part or Dick Cheney's when I heard the Veep call himself a "deficit hawk" on Meet the Press this morning.
That ridiculousness aside, Cheney's defense of the glut of contracts awarded without bidding to Halliburton was insulting:
[VICE PRES. CHENEY] [W]hen I was secretary of Defense, I was not involved in awarding contracts. That’s done at a far lower level. Secondly, when I ran Halliburton for five years and they were doing work for the Defense Department, which frankly they’ve been doing for 60 or 70 years, I never went near the Defense Department. I never lobbied the Defense Department on behalf of Halliburton. The only time I went back to the department during those eight years was to have my portrait hung which is a traditional service rendered for former secretaries of Defense. And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush’s vice president, I’ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven’t had now for over three years. And as vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government, so...Three points here: First, it's frankly discouraging to believe that Cheney would assume that the only concern Americans have about the Halliburton contracts is if Cheney personally benefitted. We're not talking about Pete Rose or NCAA coaches here. I think skeptical or even curious Americans are smart enough to realize that the reciprocal benefit doesn't come in the form of a direct deposit, but through big-time political and financial endorsements for the GOP/Bush campaign. Or, alternatively, that those contracts are a return for previous political favors.
Second, someone should ask the Corps of Engineers. I'd be curious to see if there were as many visits from VP Cheney to their office as there were, say, between the VP and the CIA in the time preceding the disclosure of the Niger-uranium documents. There's no lack of CIA officials complaining of executive pressure on their office in the months preceding the war.
Third, Cheney extolls the positive lights of Halliburton at great length but concedes in his language that Halliburton isn't the only corporation in the world to offer those services. Yet there's no bid process, and it's hard for that oversight to not smack of favoritism. If I'm the executive branch, presented with a situation in which I have to subcontract to the private sector, and I want to go corrupt with my decision or I just really like Halliburton or whatever, I obviously ask for bids and then just give it to Halliburton.
Isn't that obvious? That's the ticket—a party ascendant for as long as the Republicans have been starts thinking it's impervious to criticisms, that it can shortcut wherever it wants, and you know what happens next....
Dick Cheney, re: presenting a budget prediction for reconstructing Iraq: "We have not tried to hide it under a bush."
posted by kriston at 2:00 PM........
Wha' Happened?If anyone out there can explain this travesty, speak up! I missed the game because it wasn't televised here in DC, and I didn't think that Arkansas of all teams was worth a trip through rain to the sports bar. Apparently this UT-Arkansas thing used to matter, at least in Arkansas, but I sure as hell didn't care about it.
The turnovers sounded nasty, but Lordy, these rushing yards?
I mean, you're in trouble when a QB sneak produces your longest run of the game. (Unless Vic Young is at the helm....)
posted by kriston at 1:36 PM........