Part of a speech by Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate,
Now we have a different question, as the senior Senator from West Virginia and
the senior Senator from Massachusetts and others have pointed out: The cost to the United States taxpayers in rebuilding Iraq.
We were told that would be paid with Iraqi oil revenues. But suddenly that cost has skyrocketed. Our troops, we were told,
would be greeted as liberators. They are under constant attack and threat of attack.
I remember when the administration came before the Congress and
said the costs of rebuilding would be under a couple billion dollars. They assured Members, assured the Appropriations Committee
of that. They had to know they were not being truthful.
Look at what has happened. Hundreds of our service personnel have
been killed, many more have been wounded, something the administration prefers not to talk about. The wounded are
brought back after midnight, making sure the press does not see the planes coming in with the wounded. They were
not talking about wounded. These are not a broken wrist or scratched leg. These are terrible wounds--lost limbs, lost eyesight,
lifetime disabilities. I think of the soldier who fought bravely for the United States who is back in Walter Reed now finally
getting his citizenship. He raised his right hand to take the oath. That was the only limb he could raise. He lost his other
arm and both legs, like our former colleague, Senator Cleland, in Vietnam. These are terrible wounds.
We have lost more of our military since the President said the
mission was accomplished, the war is over, than we did before. We have lost more of our soldiers since the President said:
Bring it on. Unfortunately, they must have listened because they brought it on and more Americans have died since then than
died before. [CR S12650, October 16, 2003]
Beware Celts seized by fits of melancholy. They write poems.
After midnight, they bring the wounded
In with the silence; in where the common
Makes all words one. No luminescent spark
Reaches this place, but for a light within.
After midnight, there are no cheering crowds.
The wounded are no longer fit for use
By those in power, who make no excuse
For limbs, for eyes, for bandages, for
Husbands and daughters, sons and mothers,
Item: Last week, Condoleezza Rice schmoozed with Oprah Winfrey about diets.
Item: Remember the vial of botulism found in an Iraqi refrigerator
that is the Bushies' best evidence to date of WMDs? According to CalPundit, the botulism was not botulism toxin, useful in bioterrorism, but botulism bacteria, commonly found in nature and picnic
baskets. Next we'll hear that the "vial" was really a Tupperware bowl full of old lamb kabob.
Item: On June 20, 2003, Michael Steinhardt, former Democratc
Leadership Council stalwart and part-owner of The New Republic, gave $2,000 to Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. (To verify, go
here and search for Steinhardt, Michael. Scroll down.)
Item: Future Witch Hunters of America -- no, excuse me, the Young
Conservatives of Texas, UT chapter -- is compiling a "watch list" of professors who are guilty of presenting "biased" (i.e., anything the YCT'ers don't agree with) information in their classrooms.
Next move -- stocks or bonfires?
Item: According to Bill O'Reilly's Faux News bio, "Bill O'Reilly continues to live on Long Island where his best friends are guys with whom he attended first grade."
It's Andy Jackson's fault, you know. Before Jackson, it was perfectly all right for
a presidential candidate to be an aristocrat. But Jackson broke the mold.
Jackson, who served as President from 1929 to 1837, was the first chief executive to
have been born in a log cabin, and the first to have made a virtue of it. Ever since, presidential candidates have tried
to add some kind of log cabin story to their biographies -- born of humble origins to honest and hard-working parents, John
Doe learned the virtues of honesty and hard work, not to mention family, and can thereby relate to all you honest and hard-working
ordinary people out there. So vote for John Doe.
The log cabin mystique became entrenched so quickly that candidates with no honest
log cabin credentials had to invent some. For example, William Henry Harrison (inaugurated and died in 1841) claimed to have
been born in a log cabin, even though his real birthplace was a rich Virginia plantation.
Abraham Lincoln had genuine log cabin origins. However, at the time he ran
for President in 1860 he was no backwoods farmer but a successful lawyer. He campaigned as "Abe the Rail Splitter,"
even though he hadn't split a rail in many, many years; and even though Presidents aren't generally called upon to split rails.
It was the mystique of the thing that mattered..
The last honest-to-gosh log cabin President was, I think, James Garfield. But
after all these years, we still buy into the log cabin mystique. Candidates still like to emphasize their humble
origins and their poor-but-honest parents. And they are expected to present some anecdotal evidence that they struggled with
and overcame adversity.
Given the fact that some of our best president have been aristocrats (e.g., Washington,
Jefferson, both Roosevelts) and our current White House occupant never struggled with anything more challenging than a pretzel
(do you buy the "I was born again and gave up booze" stories? I don't) it's rather charming the log cabin
mystique survives. But survive it does, and I'd like to rate the current field of Dem candidates purely by log cabin factor.
1 (tie). John Edwards. Log cabin score: 10. From his website:
John Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina and raised in Robbins, North Carolina,
a small town in the Piedmont. There John learned the values of hard work and perseverance from his father, Wallace, who worked
in the textile mills for 36 years, and from his mother, Bobbie, who ran a shop and worked at the post office. Working alongside
his father at the mill, John developed his strong belief that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed and be
That's a classic "log
cabin" story, even without the log cabin. Born to humble but honest parents, the candidate learned the virtue of hard work
and is dedicated to helping common people like himself.
1 (tie).Richard Gephardt. Log cabin score: 10. From
his web site:
Dick Gephardt grew up in the same working class neighborhood on the south
side of St. Louis, Missouri, that he represents today in the U.S. Congress.
Gephardt's father, a milk truck driver
and Teamster, taught him the value of hard work. His mother, a secretary, taught him an appreciation for the value of community
and caring about the needs and aspirations of others. While his parents didn't finish high school, they instilled in him a
lifelong desire to strive and succeed.
Classic log cabin stuff. That's how it's done.
3. Joe Lieberman. Lob cabin score: 9. From his web site:
He has done his best to honor the values -- faith, family and freedom,
equal opportunity and tolerance -- that he learned from his parents, his teachers and his hometown. Joe's father worked his
way up from the back of a bakery truck to own his own liquor store. His mom, like his dad, is the child of immigrants. Together,
they worked hard to earn the money to send Joe to college -- the first in his family to go.
That's good, but I have to take a point off for the liquor
store. Abe Lincoln's parents probably didn't know what a liquor store was.
4. John Kerry. Log cabin score: 6. From
his web site:
John Kerry was born on December 11, 1943 at Fitzsimmons Military Hospital in Denver,
Colorado, where his father, Richard, who had volunteered to fly DC-3's in the Army Air Corps in World War II, was recovering
from a bout with tuberculosis. Not long after Sen. Kerry's birth, his family returned home to Massachusetts.
The first thing Senator Kerry wants you to know about his family is that they experienced
hardship. It's also the last thing, as that's all he says about them. According to his campaign bio, Senator Kerry went right
from infancy to the jungles of Vietnam. (If you can't be born in a log cabin, be a war hero.)
Years ago, the budding politician Kerry capitalized on his Irish name to climb the
ladder of Massachusetts politics. But recently he (or somebody) discovered that his paternal grandfather had been an Austrian
Jew who had converted to Catholicism and changed his name to Kerry from Kohn.
This revelation inspired much tongue-wagging about the Senator. But the grandfather
died by suicide in 1921, more than two decades before the Senator was born. I'm inclined to believe that the Senator didn't
hear much talk about ol' Grandpa while he was growing up and honestly didn't know he wasn't Irish. And, frankly,
finding out that your ancestors were not Irish ranks rather low on the scandal scale, methinks. What really hurts
Kerry is that his mother's family had money. Too bad. But I give him points for making an effort at a log cabin story,
and the Vietnam experience is proof of adversity.
5. Carol Mosley Braun. Log cabin score: 5. From her web site:
Carol Moseley Braun was born in Chicago on August 16, 1947. Her father, a law enforcement
officer, was a consummate renaissance man, a musician who mastered seven instruments and spoke several languages. Her mother
was a medical technician. Together they encouraged their children to pursue excellence, embrace opportunity and follow their
dreams. Her life reflects this philosophy.
It can be argued that African-American candidates have a built-in "log
cabin" factor and don't need the log cabin backstory quite as much as the white guys do. Ambassador Mosley-Braun let's you
know that her parents were professionals. It goes without saying that they were honest and hard working.
6. Dennis Kucinich. Log cabin score: 3. From his web site:
Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio on
October 8, 1946. He is the eldest of 7 children of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. He and his family lived in twenty-one places,
including a couple of cars, by the time Kucinich was 17 years old. "I live each day with a grateful heart and a desire to
be of service to humanity," he says.
I'm sorry, but
this is just a little too humble. You are supposed to have parents who are poor but virtuous and hard-working, not parents
who are deadbeats raising seven children in a car. Congressman Kucinich is
to be admired for overcoming this background and making something of himself, but as far as log cabin stories go, this one
7 (tie). Wesley Clark. Log cabin score: 0. From
his web site:
Born in Chicago on December
23, 1944, General Clark grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1962, he graduated from Hall High School, where he led his swim
team to the state championship. Always committed to public service, he went to West Point at the age of 17 and graduated at
the top of his class in 1966. He also earned a Master's Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University,
where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
No, no, no, General. You are not even
trying. Surely there was an honest, hard-working parental figure in your life, somewhere. And although you got yourself all
shot up in Vietnam, which would make a great "overcoming adversity" story, there's nothing about that on your campaign bio
page. Instead, your bio is all about your achievements and education and stuff. This is not acceptable.
7 (tie). Howard Dean. Log cabin score: 0. From
his web site:
Governor Dean is a physician who previously shared a medical practice with his wife.
Lame. Of course, Govenor Dean is handicapped by the fact that he was born into a
wealthy family and raised on Park Avenue, so it's best for him to stay mum about his parents. But surely he could generate
some log cabin points by saying more about being a family physician in Vermont.
9. The Rev. Al Sharpton. Log cabin score: -5. His web site.
The Reverend Mr. Sharpton does not talk about his past much on his web site, even
though the Rev. spent part of his childhood in public housing in Brooklyn, which could substitute for a log cabin story
pretty well. Why doesn't he discuss this? Probably because there's too much about his past he would rather you didn't know.
Thanks to alert reader "Doran W" for sending this -- it's worthy of the
Onion, but it's out of the Philadelphia Inquirer --
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.
Today's UN vote inspired CNN's Wolf Blitzer to announce that, now, money
and troops from other nations would come to our aid in Iraq. But later today the Associated Press said the Pentagon expects to call on more reserve troops next year. So, are we making sense yet?
I haven't had a chance to read the resolution yet. Tomorrow perhaps I'll go through it all and figure out what was resolved.
In the meantime -- fascinating editorial in the New York Observer. It starts out, "It should be no surprise that George W. Bush is turning out to be one of the worst U.S. Presidents
in memory," and gets better from there.
File this blog under either "WTF were they thinking?" or "The more
things change, the more they stay the same."
Recently another Rummy blunder was discovered and hauled into the light of day. Last
June, Rummy named Army Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin to the redundantly named position of deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence,
intelligence and warfighting support. General Boykin "has been charged with reinvigorating Rumsfeld's 'High Value
Target Plan' to track down Bin Laden, Hussein, Mullah Omar and other leaders in the terrorism world," according to William Arkin, writing for the Los Angeles Times.
So what's the blunder? Apparently, General Boykin's life mission is to channel the
power o' JEE-zus to conquer the forces of darkness, i.e., non-Christians, particularly Muslims.
"Boykin has made it clear that he takes
his orders not from his Army superiors but from God — which is a worrisome line of command." Arkin writes.
Further, Boykin has made it plain that our enemy
in the Middle East is not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein or even terrorism, but Satan.
In Iraq, he told the Oregon congregation, special
operations forces were victorious precisely because of their faith in God. "Ladies and gentlemen I want to impress upon you
that the battle that we're in is a spiritual battle," he said . "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us
as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." [Link]
Yeah, this is just the guy I
want stomping around the Middle East looking for Muslim terrorists.
But for now, let us put aside the eternal
question, "Just how big an idiot IS Rummy?" because there are some matters way beyond human understanding.
Instead, let us consider the beginnings
of organized religion on this beautiful planet. (There's a whopping big irony here, trust me.)
Zarathustra, a.k.a. Zoroaster, lived
about three (maybe four) thousand years ago, give or take a few centuries, in the general neighborhood of Persia
(roughly, modern-day Iran). Zarathustra was the founder of Zoroastrianism, a religion that flourished in the Middle East
for many centuries.
Now, the interesting thing about Zoroastrianism
is that it had an enormous impact on other Middle Eastern religions, such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Christianity
and Islam in particular maintain many beliefs that originated in Zoroastrianism.
Zoroastrianism became a religious philosophy
to be reckoned with back when the Hebrew People were still, essentially, polytheists who worshiped their own tribal god. It was the Zoroastrians who first came up with the idea of a cosmos locked in eternal struggle
between good and evil. In the Zoroastrian cosmos, there was one good god (Ormazd) and one bad god (Ahriman), and these two
will fight the fight of good versus evil through the ages until at last they meet on Judgment Day, when Ahriman will win;
and then the righteous will live in Paradise with Ormazd and his angels, and Ahriman and his devils will perish
in a fiery pit.
The Hebrew people picked up bits and pieces of
Zoroastrianism during their captivity in Babylon. Centuries later, Zoroastranism (which also went through a lot of changes
through the years) would impact Greek religions, and thereby the new religion of Christianity as it was taken over by Greek-speaking
gentiles (which explains why Christianity has more in common with Zoroastrianism than does Judaism). And the
religion of Islam has deep roots in the mythologies of Zoroastrianism, which by the time of the Prophet Mohammed were
inextricably woven into the values and worldview of Middle Eastern people.
So now let's go full circle to General Boykin and
his belief that he fights on the side of good against Satan. Not to mention Osama bin Laden and HIS belief that he fights
on the side of good against Satan. And the Religious Right, eager to be raptured away, are cheering for the End Times and
the great Final Battle to take place soon, possibly in Zarathustra's old Persian stomping grounds.
So in a very broad sense, the lot of them are ready
to slaughter half the population of the planet in order to play out some ancient Zoroastrian prophecies. Ain't humanity grand?
Moveon.org is trying to get 100,000 calls, emails, and faxes
to Congress by the end of the week urging the legislators to vote NO on the $87 billion. Why? Read the October 14 Mahablog to find out. Moveon says the vote is scheduled for TODAY in the House and tomorrow in the Senate. You can find contact information
for your congressperson here and for your senators here. And when you've told them to say NO to Bush, register your calls/faxes/emails with Moveon.org here.
Thanks very much to all of you who have contributed to the Maha Fund Drive!
It's been a week since the White House announced its PR blitz on behalf
of the Iraq War.
So ... where's the blitz?
Today, the President attended Bush-Cheney fundraisers in Fresno and Riverside, California.
According to the Fresno Bee, Bush spoke to 1,500 workers at Ruiz Food Products Inc. (one of the nation's largest producers of frozen Mexican food) and
gave a 27-minute speech to campaign supporters at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall South.
Tomorrow (Thursday) the Prez will be meeting with Gov.-elect Ahnold (note to
self: must learn to spell Schwarzenegger) in San Bernadino before taking the blitz to Asia. And Uncle Dick Cheney
will be fundraising in Dallas and Fort Worth. (Let's see -- as I keyboard, there's nothin' about Dick on the Dallas Morning News web page, or on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram page, either. They're not exactly a-twitter in anticipation.)
One of the peculiar features of this "blitz" is that the White House wants to avoid
the "filters" of major broadcast and cable networks. This means that for most of us they've dropped off the radar. If the
Bushies were web savvy they might be more visible, but have you seen the White House web site? I swear it was designed by Mamie Eisenhower.
Of course, those major media "filters" are still churning out news about Iraq, in
between their intensive coverage of baseball league championships and the Kobe Bryant trial. I had a lovely time watching
the "Sixty Minutes II" report tonight about how Colin Powell lied to the UN about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, for example.
Fact is, what the Bushies are blitzing is money.
When President Bush appears at two California fund-raisers today, a luncheon in
Fresno and a reception in Riverside, he will be padding a campaign war chest already bulging with $70 million and well on
a pace toward an all-time record.
Bush's third-quarter fundraising total is expected to be higher than that of all
nine Democratic presidential contenders, combined.
But what does that tell us about the Bush Administration? The pressure's on, their
approval numbers are down (in spite of the recent over-publicized bump in a couple of polls), and all of their handiwork --
education reform, the economy, the "war on terror" -- is going sour. Even other Republicans are grumbling that Bush is showing
So what do the Bushies do? They stop speaking to major media and instead make appearances
only to cheering supporters or soldiers who've been ordered to make nice. And they run to the comfort of all that campaign
In 1948, Harry Truman decided to run for a full term as President. At the time, according
to biographer David McCullough (Truman, Simon & Schuster, 1992), Congress and the press and many other Democrats
were cool to Truman and his chances for reelection. So he decided to go around news media and take his message to the
Unlike Bush, however, Truman really did take his message to the people. For thirty-nine
days he traveled the country by private train, speaking to crowds from the platform. In thirty-nine days he covered 30,000
miles, stopping at several stations a day. "He had just one strategy -- attack, attack, attack, carry the fight to the enemy's
camp. He hammered the Republicans relentlessly," McCullough wrote. And the people yelled back, "Give 'em hell, Harry!"
These days, the pundits back in Washington would sniff about "hate speech."
Last Monday, Bush complained that the people weren't getting his message. "I'm mindful
of the filter through which some news travels," Mr. Bush said, "and sometimes you just have to go over the heads of the filter
and speak directly to the people. And that's what we'll continue to do." [Link]
So in what must be the most non-populist PR blitz in American political history, Bush
and his minions fan out and speak to carefully vetted groups of ideological fellow travelers and adoring campaign contributors.
And, oh yes, Bush's people arranged for him to say a few words at a frozen burrito plant near Fresno. Charming
But when's he gonna "speak directly to the people"?
Do you think, perhaps, he doesn't know where we are? Or that we exist?
Today's Hot Links Is (Are?) Dedicated to yesterday's refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Gubmint to censor what advice physicians give their patients. Of course, if Bush were
to get another term ...
Welcome to Day 2 of the Maha Fund Drive. Thank you to all who have
donated! If you haven't donated, and if you want to see The Mahablog stay online at least through the rest of the month of
October ... please help. Amazon and Pay Pal tin cup links are in the column at right.
Tuesday, Senator John Edwards declared that he would vote
no on the bill providing $87 billion for the "postwar" effort in Iraq.
And much to my own surprise, I agree with him.
I agree because I've realized the larger issue is
not about the money being spent in Iraq, or about the deficit, or about the blatant profiteering, or even about what the troops
It's about the fact that the Bush Administration plans to use that
money to consolidate its own power and utterly destroy representative democracy in America.
You think I'm exaggerating? Read on ...
The $87 billion includes $66.7 billion for troop support and $20.3
billion for reconstruction of Iraq. Last week the House Appropriations Committee recommended removing some obvious padding
from the reconstruction portion, such as $9 million to establish zip codes. Both the House and Senate are
hotly debating the bill this week.
There is no denying the troops in Iraq need support. And there is no
denying that we have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to help them get their country functioning again. Money will
have to be spent.
But the Bushies are not soliciting the $87 million to support the
troops or to help Iraq. They are soliciting that money so they can launder it through business cronies and get
it back in contributions.
It's plain that the Bushies are taking good care of their campaign contributors in the war profiteering industry. This
is not news. But I've never seen this situation explained more clearly -- and more chillingly -- than in this Village
Voice article by Roger Trilling.
... the administration is already putting its own people in place, gatekeepers who will manage that potentially
lucrative union between American investment and Iraqi resources. Like Thomas Foley, an old business-school friend of the president's,
and also one of his 2000 Connecticut campaign bosses. Foley will decide which of Iraq's roughly 200 state-owned enterprises
are fit to survive.
Iraq is being set up for auction, and in Washington and Baghdad, the administration is lining
up bidders. Lawyers and lobbyists, many with deep ties to the Republican electoral machine, are corralling investors ready
to join in the enormous gamble. "If you go to the Four Seasons and shout out 'Who's working on a deal in Iraq?' everybody
there will raise their hand," said Ed Rogers, one of the GOP's top lobbyists in Washington, according to The Hill.
With non-American companies frozen out, and the UN withdrawing its mission, U.S. firms will be on their own, just the way
the administration wants it. [Roger Trilling, "Bush's Golden Vision," The Village Voice, October 15-21, 2003]
You want to follow the money? Here it
goes -- from our pockets as taxpayers into the pockets of war profiteers like Halliburton, which will cycle a good part part
of the profit back to the Bush re-"election" effort and the GOP.
"So this will further undermine the pretense
that we live in a functional democracy," said John Pike of globalsecurity.org, "meaning, you can look forward to another round of redistricting after the next election!" [Trilling, ibid.]
Today Bush summoned Republican leaders
to the White House to tell them the $87 billion must be approved without condition. No strings. Just give us
But back in the Senate, John Edwards
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Tuesday he will vote against
President Bush's $87 billion request for Iraq, saying it's time somebody "stand up to him and say no."
The North Carolina senator, who last fall backed the congressional resolution authorizing
the war, said Bush needs to change his policies to win his vote.
I've been wanting Congress to assume
more oversight of spending in Iraq. But Edwards may be right -- the White House must be cut off. Congress must assume
control, not just oversight.
The Constitution clearly gives the power of the purse, including control of all military spending, to Congress (see Article I, Section 8).
And in past wars and post-war programs, including the Marshall Plan, the President and Congress worked closely together to
budget, appropriate, and distribute money. President Truman did not just accept congressional oversight to keep the spending;
he insisted on it.
But Bush doesn't want to have to work
with Congress, or the UN, or anyone else. He wants what he wants, and Congress is supposed to be a big rubber stamp. Bush
must be forcefully told that he has no power under our Constitution to demand that Congress approves his spending
plans without condition.
Of the other Democratic presidential candidates
in Congress, Senator Kerry said Sunday that he is inclined to vote against the bill; Senator Lieberman will vote for it. Congressman
Dennis Kucinich has said all along he will vote no, although Kucinich
doesn't seem to understand that the troops cannot be beamed home next week and that money will have to be appropriated. As
of this writing Congressman Gephardt has not declared how he will vote.
Right now the hottest part of this battle is being
fought in the Senate. It is vitally important to rally support for Senators who will stand up to Bush. Click here to find out how to contact your senators. Email Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and ask him to please not cave in.
And I say Republicans are choosing power and
corruption over democracy itself. The battle is joined.
What about the service men and women?
The fact is, even when Congress approves funds, the funds have a way of not getting where they are supposed to go. For example,
this Associated Press story says a quarter of U.S. troops in Iraq lack proper body armor, even though Congress approved
funds for the armor in April.
$310 million in April to buy 300,000 more of the bulletproof vests, with 30,000 destined to complete outfitting of the troops
in Iraq. Of that money, however, only about $75 million has reached the Army office responsible for overseeing the vests'
manufacture and distribution, said David Nelson, an official in that office. [Matt Kelley, "1/4 of U.S. Troops Lack Body Armor," Associated Press, October 13, 2003]
Is this telling us that money is somehow not going where it's allocated? That there is massive waste and fraud consuming
the money we are spending in Iraq? Does a bear ... well, you know what the answer is. What happened to that money? Is some
of it not even being "cycled," but just sent straight to Karl Rove? In any event, please throw the Curious Tale of the Body
Armor back at anyone who says the Democrats don't support the troops.
President Bush is both a fraud and a charletan. It's way past time for Congress to stand up to him and say no.
The Mahablog is in imminent danger of shutdown! Please donate to the Maha Fund Drive
-- Amazon and PayPal links are in the column at right. Thank you!
First off, I want to thank everyone who has responded already to the
Mahablog Fundraiser. We're still in grave danger here, however, so I'm going to keep begging for a while. I hope you don't
mind. And every little bit helps. Amazon and Pay Pal begging bowls are in the column at right.
Next, just some odd stuff that I found this morning. In the "Parallel Universe" department,
an Amazon reader review of Mr. Bill "belongs in a bell Jar" O'Reilly:
I have heard Ms. Gross relentlessly slice and dice guests on previous editions
of her show, so she is no shrinking violet, at least when on the attack. But she was clearly nervous during THIS interview.
I speculate that it is because she knew that O'Reilly was not going to let her get away with sniper attacks. [Review by Dennis L Parker of Leander, TX]
"Slice and dice?" Terry Gross? This is like mistaking Bambi for the Texas Chain Saw
guy. What do you want to bet that Mr. Dennis L. Parker of Leander, TX, never before listened to a Terry Gross interview in
his life? And yes, she was nervous, because Terry Gross interviews are usually love fests. It's not normal for people to throw
attitude at her. But, as we know, O'Reilly is far from normal.
And here are some Wesley Clark items. First, there's a frightfully weird assessment
of General Clark by Michael Kinsley of Slate. I often agree with Mr. Kinsley but was very disappointed at this shallow, unthoughtful article. Best antidotes to Kinsley
And under the heading of "There's Gotta Be a Catch," the Wall Street Journal
Opinion Online is running an op-ed by Harold Bloom that praises Clark and endorses him for President. Naturally, I am suspicious.
Dear Readers: The Mahablog is in fund-raising mode (if National
Public Radio can do it ... ). The Mahablog needs some immediate cash to keep going, because I have no income, the job market
in NYC stinks, and there are these naggy little details like the "electric bill" that aren't being addressed as they should
be. If everyone who hits The Mahablog today would toss just $1 into the tin cup (see Amazon and Paypal links at
right) we'll at least get past our immediate crisis and can remain online awhile longer. Thank you!
Texas Republicans finally settled on a new redistricting map late last
night, but the Dems vow to keep fighting. They plan to file a lawsuit to prevent the map from taking effect.
By splitting Webb County, where Laredo is located, thus cutting from one district
tens of thousands of South Texans living along the Mexico border, the Republicans have turned a previously Hispanic district
into a non-minority district, Democrats say.
Democrats also complain about the three-way division of Travis County, home to Austin
and the state Capitol, and the destruction of the minority district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Martin Frost in the Dallas
Republicans counter that the new map creates a new Hispanic and a new African American
district, but the Dems point out that's a net loss of one minority district.
The new map should enable Republicans to pick up seven more of Texas' 32 seats in
the U.S. House in the next elections. Right now, the Dems have a slight edge, 17-15.
With good reason, the Dems claim that redrawing the map was nothing but a power grab
instigated and guided by U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
Background. As a rule, states redraw congressional
district maps every ten years, based on the census. This is to satisfy a requirement of the U.S. Constitution that districts
be roughly equal in population. But maps can be redrawn more frequently if the state so chooses.
The Texas Legislature took a stab at redrawing its congressional district
map after the 2000 census. But the Legislature was unable to agree on a map, so in 2001 a panel of three federal judges drew
it. The Republicans were not happy with this map, but they raised no formal objections to it. The court-drawn map was approved
by the Texas Attorney General, a Republican. The map was also approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared it was in
compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Those trying to rationalize the Republican power grab say that the intervention
of the judges was not fair. But in fact it is very common for state legislatures to fail to draw a map and for courts to take
over. And, according to Paul Burka writing in Texas Monthly, "In the past fifty years, no state has acted to overturn a court-drawn redistricting plan."
Even juicier, notice that the Republicans had a very different attitude about judge-drawn
maps in earlier times. In 1996 a three-judge panel re-drew Texas congressional districts, saying that the districts concentrated
too many votes in the hands of minorities.
They gave then-Gov. George W. Bush a chance to call a special session
to draw the districts. He refused to do so. So the judges drew new lines for those three districts.
Congressman Tom DeLay, of Sugar Land, the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives,
has led the charge [to redraw the map]. The Republicans' majority in Congress is 229 seats to 205, and DeLay saw in the Texas
situation a chance to increase his side's edge. Soon after Republicans won control of the Texas House for the first time in
130 years, in the 2002 elections, word began circulating in the Capitol that DeLay wanted Texas' legislative leaders to draw
new boundary lines. Governor Rick Perry and Speaker Tom Craddick quickly embraced the idea, but Lieutenant Governor David
Dewhurst demurred, saying that the issue had the potential to divide the Senate, over which he presides, and wreck the session.
So what happened?
The GOP holds a 19-12 edge in the Senate, and according to tradition, a two-thirds
margin, or 21 votes, is necessary before a bill can reach the floor for debate. So eleven Democrats could block DeLay's strategy,
and that was part of Dewhurst's reason for objecting. But according to Capitol scuttlebutt, sometime in late April or early
May, the count for redistricting supposedly hit the magic 21-vote mark and the House started the ball rolling. [Paul Burka, "Map Quest," Texas Monthly, July 2003]
In other words, the redistricting had nothing to do with principle and
everything to do with opportunity. The Republicans decided to redraw the map to their advantage because they could.
In 2003, Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick,
when Republicans rule in the Legislature, say it’s a legislative responsibility worth calling a $1.7 million special legislative
session. A map drawn by a three-judge federal court in 2001 needs to be undone, they say.
Next steps. There is still a possibility that the Texas Dems,
by filing suit, can prevent the new map from taking effect until after the 2004 election. In the meantime, Republicans in
other states may feel empowered to pull the same trick. Keep watch.
WASHINGTON - President Bush, annoyed by what he considers the "filter"
of news reporting, will seek to go around the press on Monday through television outlets that do not routinely cover the White
So what's he gonna do? Appear on "Queer Eye for the Straight
Guy"? Like Faux Nooze won't bend over backwards to present any message he wants? What's up with this?
And be sure to read Josh Marshall's blog about the phony "soldier" letter sent to newspapers about how peachy things are in Iraq.
[On edit] I wondered in the previous blog why none
of the usual suspects were on the Sunday morning pundit shows yesterday. Condi and Colin and sometimes even Dick are nearly
always on with Tim and George and Wolf when the White House wants to spread some new b.s.
So far, besides the obviouly
phony "letter from a soldier" that got sent to U.S. newspapers, the "PR blitz" to promote Iraq has consisted of Dick speaking
to the Heritage Foundation, Dubya speaking to some soldiers who were no doubt under orders to be politce, and Condi talking
to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. This is a PR blitz?
The only explanation is a failure of nerve on the
part of the White House. They can't afford to be interviewed by "journalists" who might ask a tough question (unlikely,
I know, but not impossible). So now they're thrashing around looking for new ways to saturate our heads with propaganda. But
if phony letters and speeches to the Heritage Foundation are the best they can do ...
The White House is losin' it, people. They're weak. Time to rally and fight
Did you notice that none of the usual White House
suspects showed up for yesteday's Sunday morning news programs? In recent
weeks, Condi and Colin and even Dick have been "interviewed" nearly every Sunday by Tim and Wolf and George. And these
"interviews" have been a great source of merriment, I must say.
But now the White House is supposed to be engaged in
a PR blitz to sell the Iraq War. Why did they bypass the Sunday morning news programs? Isn't that a little weird?
No less than December 7th, 1941, September 11th, 2001
forever changed the lives of every American and the strategic perspective of the United States. That day produced an acute
sense of our vulnerability to attacks hatched in distant lands, that come without warning, bringing tragedy
to our shores. And it compelled us to take a fresh look at an old threat.
'Course, the terrorist attacks of September
11 did NOT "come without warning," did they, Condi? You just chose to ignore the warnings.
Saddam is the only tyrant of our time not only to possess
weapons of mass destruction ... but to use them in acts of mass murder.
Huh? What about, say Kim Jung Il of North Korea,
who has a massive arsenal? He just announced last week that he's got enough plutonium in hand to build six more nuclear
weapons right away. And he's killed millions of his own people! But wait ... he didn't use weapons on his people; he
let them starve to death. So I guess that doesn't count. Never mind that KJI could obliterate North Korea and Japan and part
of China and a chunk of Alaska any time he wanted to, and he's crazy enough to do it.
And haven't there been a number of mass slaughters in Africa
in recent years? What about the genocides in Rwanda, for example? But I guess that doesn't count, either, since there was
no one "tyrant" in back of that terrible episode.
So what about China? They have WMDs or I'm the Pope. And
they are currently engaged in a cultural genocide of Tibet. Hello? Condi? Oh, I see; just being a danger to the planet is
not a concern. We must find a "tyrant" who will do nasties with "weapons of mass destruction." If there's no "tyrant," or
if the bad guys are only using machetes, we don't need to worry.
But don't forget, Condi -- we're told the only weapons
the September 11 terrorists had were "box cutters."
September 11th made clear our enemies' goals, and provided
painful experience of how far they are willing to go to achieve them.
That's it, Miss. You will write on a blackboard
500 times -- Saddam Hussein was not behind September 11.
We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in
the September 11th attacks. Yet the possibility remained that he might use his weapons of mass destruction or that terrorists
might acquire such weapons from his regime, to mount a future attack far beyond the scale of 9/11.
And the possibility remains that Kim Jung Il
will take out Seattle because he's having a bad hair day. What are you doing to fix THAT?
This terrible prospect could not be ignored or wished
But it could be contained, and containment was working.
President Bush put it this way: "Some have said we must
not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting
us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all
recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not
We didn't have to trust him. Containment was
working! Weapons inspectors were back at work! We had plenty of options beside invasion that didn't involve "trusting
the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein"!
When the President went to the United Nations in September,
2002, there was little controversy about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Translation: there was a lot of controversy,
but we know-it-alls in the White House wouldn't listen to anything we didn't want to hear.
The intelligence agencies of most governments agreed on
Saddam's capabilities and appetites.
But they didn't, Condi! That's a lie! In fact,
the majority of the intelligence community around the world agreed that Saddam didn't have nukes and doubted he was
likely to cause trouble outside his own borders unless provoked.
The United Nations and other international organizations
had -- again and again -- documented Saddam's aggressions against his neighbors,
Which had stopped rather abruptly in 1991,
as I recall,
tortures of the Iraqi people, and violations of international
Are we going to go about invading every nation
that tortures its own people and violates international law? Like, maybe, China? Why or why not? Seems to me that if this
is a reason for invasion -- hey, we got some work to do ...
The UN Security Council passed resolution after resolution
-- 17 in all -- laying out Saddam's obligations to the world, and demanding that he comply or face the consequences.
Yet the UN practically begged you Bushies not
to launch an invasion, didn't they? Because, Condi, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
The Security Council was right to do so. And President
Bush was right to lead a coalition of nations to enforce the Security Council's clear resolutions, to uphold the credibility
of the United Nations, and to defend the peace of the world.
Tell me about "the peace of the world," Condi.
How much violence took place in Iraq since you made this speech?
Increasingly, the killing fields are yielding up their
dead. The mass graves are being discovered.
You mean the mass graves from the Iran-Iraq War and the
mass graves from the Shiite uprising that Poppy Bush encouraged but wouldn't support? Those mass graves, Condi? We're a little
late to save those people, Condi. More than a decade late.
The Iraq Survey Group is finding -- and recording -- proof
that Iraq never disarmed, and never complied with UN inspectors.
Oh, shit, Condi, stop it. Just STOP IT. The
Iraq Survey Group found ZILCH. Stop LYING about this, Condi. You sent that clueless David Kay over there, and he spent millions
of dollars and got a lot more time than he thought the UN inspectors should have, and he found ten-year-old botulism in some guy's refrigerator (which I trust was labeled very well).
We now have hard evidence of facts that no one should
ever have doubted. Right up until the end, Saddam Hussein continued to torture and oppress the Iraqi people. Right up until
the end, Saddam Hussein lied to the Security Council.
And now Saddam is gone (or, hiding out in Tikrit,
if current news stories are true) and YOU ARE STILL LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, Condi. So what will we do with YOU?
And -- let there be no mistake -- right up until the end,
Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction, and to hide his illegal
Ooo, he harbored ambitions. He hid
illegal weapons programs that weren't going anywhere. Oh, yeah, we sure as hell had to send troops right away.
Couple things -- one, I have a new graphic you might like here. Feel free to copy and spread it around if you want to.
Second, I just found a CNN story about an 11-year-old Muslim girl who was suspended from a public school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, because she refused
to remove her hijab. Members of the school board say that the scarf violates their dress code, so it's too bad. One board
member said that a (hypothetical) Jewish boy would not be allowed to wear a yarmulke, either.
As the great Mark Twain once said,
"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards."
The girl's school is the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy in Muskogee,
Oklahoma. If I can find contact information for the idiots in charge of this school I will post it.
I've long thought Robertson is "Christian" in the same sense that
I'm a "trout." In other words, there's a resemblance only if you get real metaphysical about it. But I long to find out
what spin Robertson will put on "Jesus wants us to nuke a government agency." No word so far, though; I guess he's still working
We seem to be having an epidemic of imploding media figures, such as Rush Limbaugh. First Rush
"resigned" (no doubt at ESPN's request) from his sports commentator job. And then, glory be, we learn he is
under investigation for purchasing illegal drugs, after which his lawyers shoved him into rehab faster than you can say "hillbilly
heroin." And if Alan Dershowitz is correct, he'll be there for quite a while.
(I find it wonderfully ironic that Rush, who had moved far away from his Cape Girardeau, Missouri, roots, was brought down by something called "hillbilly heroin." This prooves you can take the boy out of the hills,
but you cain't take them thar hills out of the boy. And I'll get away with saying this because I grew up in an Ozark
town that makes lovely Cape Girardeau look like a bustling metropolis.)
Lots of people are asking how this could have happened and whether Rush will face
criminal charges. But I think the real question is -- if you get him off drugs, will he still be Rush?
The wise Jimmy Breslin gets to the heart of the matter in today's Newsday.
Limbaugh's fast-talking, hateful, outrageous schtick was symptomatic of his drug use.
I strongly suspect that a clean and sober Rush will be a very
different critter from the Rush we've all come to know and disrespect. His fans may be able to forgive him for being a doper
and a hypocrit and maybe a criminal. But will they forgive him if he makes sense? Will they tune in if he actually
thinks before he flaps his mouth? Someday he'll be back on the air, and no doubt he'll try to maintain the old Rush persona
that made him rich, but unless he goes back on dope it'll be an act. And I doubt he'll be able to keep it up.
And then there's Bill O'Reilly. I don't watch Faux News and manage to avoid
O'Reilly for long stretches of time. But I did see the C-SPAN encounter he had with Al Franken, and noted the baseless lawsuit
against Franken, and wondered where O'Reilly's head was. But it wasn't until last week's episode with NPR's Terry Gross that
I fully appreciated how sick O'Reilly is.
As discussed here on October 8, 9, and especially 10, O'Reilly's behavior strongly suggests he has some sort of Paranoid-Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If this is true, he will self-destruct sooner or later. I can't say how or when, but eventually he will
do something so bizarre that even Faux News will bounce him. He's already crossed lines that would have gotten him booted
from any other network. Unfortunately for Bill, there's not much the shrinks can do to fix that kind of illness. So once he
goes -- he's gone.
Our moralistic friend Bill Bennett has been creeping back into pundit circles
lately, hoping no one will remember his implosion of a few months ago. He recently joined a chorus of other right-wing "pundits"
arguing that Bill Clinton made it possible for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become governor of California.
"Outrage was killed in 1998," agreed William Bennett, referring to the
former president, who survived impeachment despite admittedly improper conduct in the Oval Office with a young intern named
Good thing people are so forgiving, eh, Bill? And maybe someday
Bill will get a clue of what virtue actually is, but I'm not holding my breath.
But do you want to know who still mystifies me? Bob Novak. Him, I can't figure
out. I don't think Novak is crazy (could be wrong, of course). And I don't think he's stupid, as are most right-wing "pundits."
In fact, Novak may be the most intelligent of the right-wing pundits out there.
For example, I've spent enough time reading through "Crossfire" and "Capital
Gang" transcripts to notice he's a master at implying one thing while his actual words, if parsed, say something
else entirely. I can't provide examples, because one needs to put the television clip and the transcript together to see it,
but he does it, and he's brilliant at it.
We may never know for sure what Novak's role in the Plame Affair really is.
He claims he merely wanted to point out that Wilson was unqualified for the mission and, therefore, Wilson must have been
some kind of anti-Bush plant to discredit the Bush Administration. The problem with this claim is that it's phony on its face.
In fact, Joseph Wilson was uniquely qualified for this mission. And I suspect Novak is smart enough to realize this.
So Novak is a whore, certainly, but why? What's really in it for him? Is
he getting money from the GOP? Do they keep his job safe? What is he getting out of this deal he made with the devil? That's
what I can't figure out.
If I ever do figure it out, though, I'll let you know.
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the
president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
The War Prayer
I come from the Throne -- bearing
a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be
your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like
unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.
"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has
he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of
Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered
part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you
in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these
words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into
those pregnant words.
"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also
the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our
hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved
firesides to smite the foe.
"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody
shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown
the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;
help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their
little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the
sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of
the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter
pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded
feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset,
& seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor
& glory now & ever, Amen."
(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire
it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."
· · · · · ·
It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic,
because there was no sense in what he said.