The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Saturday, June 21, 2003

BUSH DROPS IN NEW COOK POLL -- The new Ipsos/Reid poll has Mr Bush's re-election numbers dropping again, near his all-time low of 38 percent.
Definitely Bush: 40%
Consider Someone Else: 26%
Vote for Someone Else: 32%
The poll was conducted from 6/17-19/03. Some tiny measure of sanity may be slowing returning to our country. The media will not be pleased.

THESE GUYS ARE SINISTER -- Nothing is sacred to them. Not even The Fourth of July:
[Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's] staffers have been phoning city officials, including some in Orange County, and strongly urging them to structure Fourth of July celebrations around the war in Iraq.

"I got the impression that they had a list of every city in the nation that had applied for a pyrotechnics permit, and were calling them to persuade them to be part of the program," said one OC city official.
...
The project even has a name: Operation Tribute to Freedom, putatively overseen by Air Force general Richard B. Myer. Check out the website at www.defendamerica.mil/otf/photos/index.html. Therein, it is claimed that Pentagon officials had been "inundated" with requests from communities asking how they could show support for the troops. Another press release remarks on the "spontaneous" displays of support for the military. And there doubtless have been many.

So why, then, does the Department of Defense deem it necessary to cold-call cities to sell them on a military salute?

"It seemed pretty obvious they were just trying to manufacture more public support for their war," said the city official.
You want to shore up support for the war in Iraq, Rummy? How about finding some of those goddamned nuclear weapons you promised us?!

Friday, June 20, 2003

DEAN'S SON HAS STICKY FINGERS -- The 17-year-old son of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has been arrested as an accessory to burglary. The younger Dean was the intended driver of a group of teenagers who planned to steal alcohol from a country club. Dr Dean is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

THE VETERAN TICKET -- In his new column in The New York Observer, Joe Conason sings the praises of John Kerry and Wesley Clark, implying that a "dream ticket" of two highly-decorated veterans would be just the...well...ticket to defeating the Bush/Cheney--the war-avoider ticket.

THEIR PANTS ARE ON FIRE -- Lew Rockwell has kept a partial list of lies told by Fox News recently. It's isn't exhaustive, but it is pretty impressive. Have a look.

KERRY WIDENS LEAD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE -- My boy John Kerry is running hard and strong in New Hampshire.
Presidential candidate John Kerry has opened a 10-point lead over rival Howard Dean in a poll of likely voters in New Hampshire's Democratic primary, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Once statistically tied for the lead, Kerry has moved ahead with 28 percent while Dean has lost ground and stands at 18 percent, the American Research Group poll found. The advantage for the Massachusetts senator is the largest since Kerry held a 12-point lead over Dean in January, a gap that closed during the spring.

Kerry held a commanding lead among registered Democrats likely to vote - 31 percent to 16 percent - over Dean, the former Vermont governor.

G.I.'s MOURN SLAIN COMRADE -- U.S. servicemen mourned the death of yet another American soldier, this latest killed in grenade attack by unidentified Iraqi assassins.
About 100 soldiers turned out at the memorial service for Private First Class Shawn Pahnke of the 1st Armored Division, who was shot in the back with a single sniper bullet on Monday.

Some wept as they remembered the 25-year-old soldier, whose helmet hung over his rifle, wedged upright into sandbags with his boots and name tags. His platoon sergeant, Dennis Duell, knelt alone by the pile of mementos after the service.

Seventeen American soldiers have been killed in hostile action in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. No Iraqi death toll is available.
The situation for our guys over there grows progressively worse, as it becomes clear they don't have anything like the resources needed to effectively pacify and govern a restive and fractious nation like Iraq.
Casualties have mounted on both sides in the uneven conflict between U.S. combat troops and hit-and-run fighters, whether renegade Baath party supporters, or simply Iraqis enraged by what they say is the heavy handed U.S. occupation.

"Get down on the ground now," screamed a soldier patrolling the darkened streets of Baghdad on Thursday night, as he manacled a taxi driver found with an unlicensed gun in his car.

The U.S. troops were enforcing a curfew that starts at 11 p.m. and lasts until dawn prayers at about 4.30 a.m.

"I am going to shoot your ass if you don't get out of that vehicle," Staff Sergeant Eric Petty yelled at an elderly Iraqi man, who stumbled from his rickety car, nodding in confusion.

A young preacher at a Shi'ite mosque in Baghdad's teeming Sadr City township denounced the U.S. occupiers, but told his congregation of about 15,000 worshippers to stand up for their rights without resorting to violence.

"The situation is getting worse day by day and the coalition forces become so daring that the arrest of Muslim clerics has become a familiar thing," Kadhim Abbadi said in his Friday sermon at Muhsin Mosque.

"Yesterday, they arrested a clergyman before my eyes," he said, without identifying him or describing the circumstances. "They have become bold enough to announce that they are the only party that gives orders and rules the country."
The Iraqis may come to blame U.S. servicemen for the situation in Iraq right now, but Americans themselves must resist this foolishness. Our soldiers are not responsible for this mess, the political leadership that put them in such an untenable position is responsible. God willing that political leadership will eventually be brought to book by an indignant populace.

WANT TO READ THE DAMNING DOCUMENTS... -- ...written between Republican lawmakers and executives at Westar Energy, the "Enron of the Midwest"? This company wanted a seat at the legislative table and was willing to pay Republican lawmakers for the privilege. Not surprisingly, Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) were most obliging--provided a fair amount of cash changed hands. Read their correspondence here and here.

GIMME AN A! -- The New Republic's "TNR Primary" has just given John Kerry an A for political courage.
But Kerry--the frontrunner, remember--is putting the manipulated intelligence at the center of his candidacy, calling Bush's war lies "one reason I'm running to be president of the United States." That's breathtakingly brave.
...
Without a congressional investigation, a politician who supported the war--like Gephardt and Lieberman, for instance--could easily pretend the questions don't exist, or they're not pressing. But Kerry is proving that he will not take the easy road when it comes to a matter of war and peace, which is downright presidential.
What they wrote. Senator Kerry's critics, especially fearful Republicans, are fond of accusing him of being cautious and careful. Lately, he's been anything but and it suits him. John Kerry has always led a daring life as a soldier and sports-enthusiast risk-taker. It's good to see this extended to his political career. The man should be president.

PAUL KRUGMAN BLOWS NO SMOKE -- But he writes that the current stock market surge is just another case of the economy blowing bubbles. Ignore The Shrill One at your peril.

RUNNING SOMEONE ELSE'S COUNTRY IS NO FUN -- But don't take my word for it. Find out what a typical night for American troops in Iraq is like.

STILL THINK OIL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT? -- Israeli Finance Minister (and former Prime Minister and uber-hawk) Benyamin Netanyahu says reopening the Iraq-to-Israel oil pipeline that was closed in 1948 is going to happen. As usual, the Likudniks and the Bush regime, which now runs a few parts of Iraq, are not interested in the views of ordinary Iraqis and Jordanians--the pipeline would have to run through Jordan--or their governments. Whatever the neocons want they are determined to have--by threat of force if possible or by force itself if necessary. They're going to fail here, though. No oil pipeline will be built without the agreement of the Iraqi and Jordanian people and I don't see that coming any time soon.

MORE BUSH ECONOMICS -- U.S. mortgages in foreclosure climbed to a record high in the first three months of 2003 as job losses and personal bankruptcies forced more people out of their homes, a mortgage industry group said on Friday.

YOUR DAILY DOONESBURY -- The Great Delegator.

ESTATE TAX TRUTHS -- Thanks to Eric Alterman for this little nugget: 'Statistic of the Day: Number of family farms “lost” owing to the estate tax as cited by the American Farm Bureau Federation: Zero. (See David Cay Johnston, “Talk of Lost Farms Reflects Muddle of Estate Tax Debate” The New York Times, April 8, 2001)'

BBC PROFILES JOHN KERRY -- Right here.

REPUBLICAN IDEALISM -- "Whether or not they find weapons of mass destruction doesn't matter,
because the rationale for the war changed," suggested Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "Americans like a good picture. And one photograph of an Iraqi child kissing a U.S. soldier is more powerful than two months of debate on the floor of Congress."

FILTHY POLITICAL JOKE -- George W. Bush has a heart attack and dies. He goes to hell where the devil is waiting for him.

"I don't know what to do with you here, " says the devil. "You're on my list but I have no room for you. You definitely have to stay here, so I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I've got three folks here who weren't quite as bad as you. I'll let one of them go, but you have to take their place. I'll even let YOU decide who leaves."

George thought that sounded pretty good, so he agreed. The devil opened the first room: in it was Richard Nixon and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and surfacing empty-handed over and over and over. Such was his fate in hell.

"No!" George said. "I don't think so. I'm not a good swimmer and I don't think I could do that all day long."

The devil led him to the next room: in it was Tony Blair with a sledgehammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing that hammer, time after time after time.

"No, I've got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day!" commented George.

The devil opened a third door. In it, George saw Bill Clinton, lying on the floor with his arms folded behind his head, and his legs staked in a spread eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best.

George Bush looked at this in disbelief for a while and finally said, "Yeah, I can handle this."

The devil smiled and said.............

"OK, Monica, you're free to go!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE REAL WORLD -- The most real threat to U.S. security remains North Korea, not Iraq. That's obviously the case now, but it has been the case for some years. A reminder of that was delivered today by the North Korean government:
North Korea's foreign ministry said: "We will step up the strengthening of our nuclear deterrent force as a justified self-defence measure to counter the threat increasing daily from the US strategy to isolate and stifle North Korea."
The Bush regime has no idea how to deal with North Korea and seems, despite their protestations of seriousness, does not seem terribly inclined to try. This is a far greater danger to the United States than anything Saddam Hussein has been able to cook up in the last 12 years.

A GAY MARRIAGE REVOLUTION -- At least one lesbian writer in Philadelphia thinks we are on the verge of one right here in the U.S. of A. I hope she'sright, I fear she's not. One thing is for sure: Messrs. Falwell, Robertson, Buchanan are going to have a field day with this.

DROP THE BOTTLE, COMRADE DIPSO! -- Behold the Museum of Anti-Alcohol Posters, which not-too-surprisingly focuses particular attention on the Soviet Union in the 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev's hopeless, but good-hearted quest to turn Russians from drunken communists to industrious communists.

As a confirmed teetotaler I find these anti-drinking posters from the Soviet anti-alcoholism crusade of the 1980s very amusing. It wasn't easy to pick my favorite poster of the twenty-eight you can view at the web site, but eventually I settled on the one you see at right. It's got just that touch of Soviet over-the-top hysteria that was the now-charming hallmark of communist propaganda. I am particularly drawn to the notion that a woman would favor the bottle over her own children--partly because such things happen all the time and partly because the poster and the campaign predictably missed the real cause of alcoholism by a country mile.

For once it was nice to see hardbitten Soviet propadandists take a break from attacking Jews or wreckers or capitalist running dog spies and instead focus on an enemy more real than imagined. Alcoholism was a serious problem in the USSR for decades--and not just because of the weather or the melancholy Russian soul. The Soviet system--the dehumanizing bureacratized cruelty which ground the spirits of countless human beings to powder was a powerful motivator to unhealthy consumption of alcohol. To many Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Uzbeks, Georgians, Armenians, Jews, etc., the bottle must have seemed the cheapest--or only--escape from their drab reality.

It's a semi-brave new world in Russia now, baby. Just say nyet to hangovers!

NEW ANTI-AMERICAN ALLIANCE IN IRAQ? -- It's pretty clear to any reasonable and objective person that the Bush regime's lies about a pre-war alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were just that--lies. The Washington Times is reporting, however, that the Bush regime has now done what no one else could do before: turned Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden into allies.

Personally, I have my doubts about this story. Why would a rebel group announce its intention to attack before it has happened? What's with those leaflets? I suspect this is some sort of psychological operation designed to make Americans paranoid and more inclined to leave the country quickly.

GIMME SPACE, DAMMIT! -- A study by a group of social psychologists declares Rio de Janeiro as the friendliest city in the world. New York City doesn't come off quite as well, to the surprise of very few, I suppose. Apparently, population density is the key to urban solicitude towards strangers. The more cramped it is, the less friendly people are. Rather like chickens in a coop, I suppose.

JOHN KERRY WILL FILIBUSTER BUSH'S NUTTY JUDGES -- I just received an e-mail from the John Kerry campaign, text of which is reprinted below:
Three words sum up why we need to take action today: The Supreme Court. I need you to join me in keeping the Supreme Court out of the hands of right wing ideologues. I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.

If you agree with me that there should be no equivocation, no double-speak, no avoidance of the issue, then go to http://petition.johnkerry.com and sign my online petition today. I will deliver this petition to Senate Democratic Leader, Tom Daschle, and the Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, as well as their counterparts on the Republican side of the aisle - Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch. We will assure that they hear our voices loud and clear that we will oppose a nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.
I've been to the online petition to register my support for Senator Kerry. You should do the same.

ROTTEN DOG OWNERS -- As a dog owner myself I'm predisposed to think well of others similarly situated. But not all deserve admiration, that's for damn sure. Read author Jennifer Weiner's account of how a Siberian husky attacked and injured her dog Wendell. More importantly, read the callous and profane reaction of the husky's owner.

If the average dog is smarter than you are, pet ownership is just not for you.

WOMEN AS LIKELY TO CHEAT AS MEN -- That's right, new research reveals that western women are now about as likely to cheat on their partner as men are. Egalite!

AL GORE WANTS A LIBERAL MEDIA -- Time magazine is reporting that Al Gore is trying to find financial backers for a liberal television and radio network to provide a counterpoint to the vast, shambling army of Dittoheads and Bill O'Reilly fans out there. Good on him. As a longtime fan of Al Gore, I knew he wouldn't just go gently in that bad night. If he isn't running for president, he'll do something else with his time. Something good. Something positive. Something progressive. Go to it, Al!

BOSTON GLOBE FINALLY GETS JOHN KERRY RIGHT -- Have a look at this excellent ongoing Boston Globe series on John Kerry, the hometown boy. Senator Kerry (D-MA) is running for the Democratic nomination for president, of course, and I'm supporting him...of course. The Globe's columnists have taken some pretty absurd and cheap shots at Senator Kerry in the past few months, leading many to believe the opening salvos of The Mighty Wurlitzer had begun and the media campaign to destroy Senator Kerry (as VP Gore was destroyed in 2000) was inevitable.

I still think the media campaign to destroy Senator Kerry is inevitable, but this series is one good sign that perhaps there will be a few cracks in the high wall of hostility any Democratic candidate is likely to face from the press in 2004.

THIS IS PRECIOUS -- Instapundit is annoyed with Europeans again (hold your laughter, please), this time citing an allegedly disrespectful BBC program about America as yet another reason to instinctively dislike people from across the Atlantic. He approvingly cites some of his readers who suggest a proper American reply to Europeans would be something like what Humphrey Bogart said to Peter Lorre: "I might despise you if I gave you any thought." Well, neither of us can speak for all Americans, Mr Reynolds, but I think it is pretty clear you and your readers give Europeans and the EU plenty of thought. Now that he's gnawed The New York Times bone to his temporary satisfaction, it seems Mr Reynolds thinks of little else but Europeans.

Who has the inferiority complex, Mr Reynolds?

CHIEF MOOSE LEAVES TO HAWK HIS CHEESY BOOK -- Montgomery County (Maryland) Chief of Police Charles Moose has resigned his post over a dispute about whether he could profit from writing a book about the "Beltway Snipers" who murdered 10 people in the DC area last year. As a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Maryland I am happy to see this maudlin publicity hound go. And don't come back.

BUSH REGIME ALLOWS SUSPECTED TERRORISTS IN U.S. -- The Bush regime, which has billed itself as our last best defense against international terrorism, has allowed as many as 30 suspected terrorists to remain in the country. Why? Well:
The General Accounting Office said that while the government revokes visas of suspected terrorists, there is often little effort to find and remove those people from the country.

And the weaknesses in the visa revocation process "increase the possibility of a suspected terrorist entering or remaining in the United States," the GAO said.
Homeland Security in this country is a neglected and under-funded joke. The American people don't seem to understand this. I suppose it will take another devastating attack on our own soil to convince them.

CANADA TO CHANGE LAW ON GAY MARRIAGE -- Our enlightened neighbors to the north have decided to change their law of marriage to permit homosexuals to marry. This follows hot on the heels of a decision by the Ontario High Court which ruled that laws against gay marriage violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Well done, Canada.

SADDAM'S HENCHMAN CAPTURED -- The United States has captured the #3 man in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, after only Saddam himself and his son Qusai. Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, Saddam's presidential secretary, should know--if anyone does--where these alleged weapons of mass destruction are located.

BACK IN A NEW PLACE -- This is the inaugural post of The Beltway Bandit. My other blog, The Daily Review (www.dailyreview.blogspot.com) has run into technical problems that I don't fully understand. (Strike that, I don't understand them at all.) In any case, I never much liked the name The Daily Review and have taken this opportunity to switch over to The Beltway Bandit. Hopefully, I'll be able to recover most or all of my audience and build a larger one. In most respects, this blog will be identical to The Daily Review. My politics have not changed and my writing style, alas, has not changed either.

Accordingly, I now officially announce the creation of The Beltway Bandit.