The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, September 18, 2003

TOM FRIEDMAN IS A FREAKING LOON -- No doubt you've noticed Mr Friedman's columns indicating an increasingly unstable mind. Now it is pretty clear he has leapt right off the cliff:
It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq's transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.
What a load of CRAP! The French are not our enemy--unless you define us--the American people--as being synonymous with the paranoid neocon chickenhawks in the Bush regime and the right-wing media. The French are opposed to--the enemy of, to use a term Mr Friedman is more comfortable with--the Bush regime's unilateralist policy of invading and occupying any country it likes. The French argued that Iraq did not pose an imminent threat to the United States or any other country. Considering what we have now learned about the state of the Iraq army under Saddam Hussein--and the complete absence of weapons of mass destruction despite 4.5 months of searching--it seems pretty clear the French were corret. And that is a major reason Mr Friedman and the rest of the chickenhawk brigade are so angry with France. The French were right. The chickenhawks were wrong. Ergo, the French must be punished. With their Iraq policy in a bloody shambles the neocon chickenhawks are casting about desperately for a scapegoat. Right now, the French and American liberals who ask too many inconvenient questions appear to be Scapegoat 1 and Scapegoat 2.

Here is why I don't blame the French for the Bush regime's mess in Iraq. First, it is now obvious to everyone [including Mr Friedman, though he will not acknowledge it] that there was nothing the French could have done to forestall Mr Bush's war. He was going to order the invasion of Iraq no matter what. Second, why should I be angry at the French? They didn't lie to me about Iraq. You know who did? The paranoid neocon chickenhawks within and without the Bush regime.

The French didn't tell me Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. The French didn't tell me Iraq was so full of weapons of mass destruction that our soldiers would practically be tripping over them once they crossed the border from Kuwait. The French didn't tell me the Iraqi people would be so overjoyed with our presence in their country that they would toss rose petals in our path and kiss the boots of our troops as they marched to Baghdad. Those were all lies, Mr Friedman, and the French didn't tell those lies to me. The paranoid neocon chickenhawks told me those lies. People like you, Mr Friedman.

Mr Friedman's real beef seems to be this: The French could have stopped us from acting like idiots and they didn't. So damn the French!

No, Mr Friedman. Damn you. Damn you and damn the lying Bush regime and damn all the paranoid neocon chickenhawks who got us into this mess. You are to blame. You take some goddamned responsibility.

THIS MODERN WORLD -- The latest from Tom Tomorrow is a scathingly funny take on those wacky conservative realists. Oh, they are a bunch of kooky cookies!

BUSH LIED TO CONGRESS. HERE IT IS -- Most of us who follow this awful administration closely knew Mr Bush was lying to Congress when he launched his Iraq War. Now, even Mr Bush himself admits it, though he won't put it in quite those words, of course. Want proof? Well, here it is:
March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Sincerely,

GEORGE W. BUSH
That was Mr Bush informing Congress of his intention to go to war against Iraq, specifically blaming it for the September 11, 2001 attacks and asserting--without evidence--that Iraq was hiding illegal weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found after more than four months of occupation. However, on September 17, 2003, Mr Bush said this:
"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11" attacks.
Mr Bush is a liar and he has implicated himself and his entire illegitimate regime in this prevarication. Credit great work by The Left Coaster for digging this up and alerting the rest of us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NO TOUCHING! -- The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ban lap dancing. Colin Farrell will not be pleased.

HOW SILLY CAN YOU GET? -- The New York Times writes that the National Organization of Women makes itself look "silly" by endorsing the longer-than-longshot presidential campaign of Carol Moseley-Braun. I think "silly" is a very kind word to use.

BUSH: NO SADDAM LINK TO 9/11 -- George W. Bush just said that he has "no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 attacks." Hey, W, it is great news you've finally decided to tell the truth about that. Why don't you inform your veep to do the same?

Of course, Mr Bush couldn't resist telling this lie: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties." Actually, there is a lot of question about that and most information indicates Saddam Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda were slim to none. If you're looking for a government tied to Al Qaeda, look no farther than Saudi Arabia--home to 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers and long-time friend and ally of the Bush family.

We've had Condoleeza Rice telling the preposterous lie that the Bush regime never told anyone Saddam Hussein and 9/11 are connected. Then Donald Rumsfeld said there is no connection between Saddam and 9/11. Now, Mr Bush himself is saying it. What are they doing to Mr Cheney, who repeatedly lied to the contrary just this past Sunday morning on Meet the Press with Tim Russert? Are they hanging Mr Cheney out to dry? Didn't he get the talking points? What's going on?

FAIR PLAY: NOT FOR ALL MAMMALS -- Scientists at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia have discovered that Capuchin monkeys have a sense of fair play. This is the first time such a thing has been discovered in a species outside of humans.

My question: Why is it that monkeys have a sense of fair play, but Republicans don't?

ARAFAT THE MARTYR -- Pointless Palestinian President Yasser Arafat says he is willing to die as a martyr should the Israelis decide to follow through on their threat to assassinate him.

Oh, shut up, you useless old bastard.

LINDH MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED -- A 35-year-old drifter thought to be the murderer of the late Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, who was stabbed repeatedly in a Stockholm department store last week, has been arrested by Swedish police. I hope they've got the right man. And if they've got the right man, I hope they put him away for life.

CLARK SPEAKS -- I saw General Clark's announcement speech a while ago on CNN and have a few thoughts about it. The speech was pretty standard, though he talked a bit more about asking questions and demanding answers than most candidates do when giving a similar speech. I thought the General read from his notes too often; making eye contact with the audience in front of him and at home will be important for him to do. It's something he can master if he works a bit at it. At one point during the speech, when General Clark was listing important questions he wanted to ask [why is the deficit so big?, why is America not trusted abroad?, etc.], the crowd, apparently well-prepped, shouted "BUSH!" as the answer to all those depressing questions. It was a nice touch, I thought.

The General left Little Rock, Arkansas--where the speech was delivered--and will be in Iowa today.

A transcript of the speech, for all who wish to read it, follows:

MR. CLARK: (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you! Thank you! (Cheers, applause.) I like that! The West Wing -- I like that. Great sign! (Cheers, applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you.

Thank you very much. Thank you so much for being here to my family -- Gert, Wes; Astrid (sp); Senator David Pryor, Congressman Marion Berry, the Boys and Girls Club members on stage here with me. And all of you from Little Rock and Arkansas and all over America, thank you so much for coming here today and being with us! (Cheers, applause.)

My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas. (Cheers, applause.) And I'm here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America! (Cheers, applause; chants of "We want Clark.")

Well, for my family and me, it's been a long journey from Little Rock; from West Point to Vietnam, 34 years in the United States Army, through war in the Balkans, back to Little Rock for business. And I'm proud to have made that journey, proud to have served my country in uniform, and proud to be back home today in Little Rock. (Cheers, applause.)

Now we're talking about a new journey. This is a journey I couldn't begin without all of you, my friends and family, high school classmates, business colleagues, close personal friends from all over the state. And especially I want to recognize the hundreds of people who are here because of the "Draft Clark" movement. Thank you! (Cheers, applause.)

You took an inconceivable idea and you made it conceivable. (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's just the beginning!

MR. CLARK: But many things are possible today, because we do live in historic times. For the first time since Herbert Hoover's presidency, a president's economic policies have cost us more jobs than our economy has had the energy to create.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right.

MR. CLARK: For the first time since the 1960s and early '70s, more than 100,000 American troops are fighting abroad, and once again, at home, Americans are concerned about their civil liberties.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah. (Applause.)

MR. CLARK: For the first time since the Cold War, many Americans no longer feel safe in their homes and workplaces. These are historic times.

And we're going to run a campaign that's worthy of the historic times in which we live. We're going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back. (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: All right!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!

MR. CLARK: And we're going to talk straight to the American people, because in times of great historic challenges, the American people deserve to hear the truth and hear it in plain and simple language. (Cheers, applause.)

And in this campaign, we're going to bring people together, in the great tradition of the Democratic Party, because --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: All right!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!

MR. CLARK: -- because now we need leaders more than ever before, leaders who will put the best interests of all our people first. (Cheers, applause.)

And when I say we're going to bring people together, I mean all our people, not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too -- (cheers, applause) -- and especially those who have never participated before. You'll come with us. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, I warn you: We'll ask the tough questions as we move forward, and we'll hold this administration accountable.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah! (Cheers, applause.)

MR. CLARK: Why has America lost 2.7 million jobs? Why has America lost the prospect of a $5 trillion surplus and turned it into a $5 trillion deficit that deepens every day? (Shouts, applause.) Why has our country lost our sense of security and feels the shadow of fear?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Why?

MR. CLARK: Why has America lost the respect of so many people around the world?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Why?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MR. CLARK: That's the questions we're going to be asking, and one more: Why -- why are so many here in America hesitant to speak out and ask questions?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Why? (Applause.)

MR. CLARK: Well, we're going to ask those hard questions, my friends, and we're going to demand the answers. But we're going to do so not in destructive bickering or in personal attacks, but in the highest tradition of democratic dialogue. We're going to seek out the facts to search for the causes, to find the solutions. And in questioning and proposing alternatives, we're going to reach to the very essence of our democracy! (Cheers, applause.)

And in a time of war, we're going to ask those questions and propose those alternatives in the highest sense of patriotism.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah! (Cheers, applause.)

MR. CLARK: So, we are going to hold the administration accountable for its policies and the results, but let's remember: The results belong to all of us, each and every one of us. They're the foundation on which we must build anew. And in this campaign, we'll lay out a plan to restore the millions of jobs that have been lost and restore our economic opportunities again. (Cheers, applause.) We'll work out how to deal with the historic deficits created by this administration, deficits that will kill jobs and burden children. We'll find a way to restore safety and security for America, and a sense of security for every American.

In this campaign, we're going to travel the country. We're going to meet, listen, learn and grow. We're going to take the concerns of ordinary Americans, their diverse talents, and bring together a vision of the way ahead.

In the coming weeks, I'll deliver a major speech outlining my vision for the economy, and a vision for our national security. And I hope that these speeches and that my entire campaign will generate the kind of frank, honest, open public debate this nation deserves. (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) We want Clark!

Let's recognize who we are. We are Americans, and we have extraordinary promise, and we live in a time of extraordinary promise. We're the strongest nation in the world; we don't have to fear. We're the leading economy in the world; we can create jobs. We're a military without peer, and we're proud of our armed forces and our veterans! (Cheers, applause.) We've got a heritage of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for the rights and dignity of each and every individual that make America the envy of the world. (Cheers.) And I think, to put it in business terms, we're diverse, energetic, practical and innovative.

This 21st century is going to be our American century, just like the 20th century was. (Cheers, applause.) And together, we're going to march forward, forward with a new vision, forward to bring our children and grandchildren into a future brightened by hope, courage, and our determination that we can do better, we will do better, and we will do it together. (Cheers, applause.)

So that's our campaign. (Laughter.) We're firm in our intent. We're clear in our purposes. We're mustering the resources, building the nucleus, drawing in the support of people from all across this great land. We're underway and moving forward. We need your help here in Little Rock, in Arkansas and across America. But I want to reach out especially to those in Iowa, New Hampshire -- (cheers, applause) -- South Carolina and everywhere across America. Get ready. We're moving out! (Cheers, applause.)

Thank you. (Cheers, applause continue.) Thank you very much. Thank you.

DEM HAWK WANTS SOME SCALPS -- Congressman John Murtha [D-PA], a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and one of the strongest supporters of the Iraq War in either party is angry about the Bush regime's lies and is demanding that Mr Bush fire his defense policy team.
"You can't fire the president unless you're in California," Mr. Murtha said. "But somebody recommended this policy to him, and he took the recommendation. Somebody has to be held responsible, and he's got to make the decision who it was."

Mr. Murtha was joined in his call for high-level resignations by Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.

Democrats around Capitol Hill made it clear today that they intended to step up their aggressive criticism of Bush policies in Iraq.
Slowly, but surely, the Democratic party is finding its voice. And it is an angry voice. A very angry voice. 'bout damn time.

HANS BLIX: NO WMD IN IRAQ -- Hans Blix, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector says he believes Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction about a decade ago and none will be found in Iraq. The Kay Report, which the Bush regime promised would prove its assertions of Iraq WMD complicity, has apparently turned up nothing. When will the mainstream media decide this is more important than Ben and J.Lo?

KICKASS DEMOCRATS -- The Democratic party has a new blog. I like it so far and I'm adding it to my blogroll [below and to the right.] Go check it out.

A CAN OF WHUPASS -- That's what the Star-Tribune opened on the Bush regime in a new editorial regarding the constant lying about Iraq:
To explore every phony statement in the vice president's "Meet the Press" interview would take far more space than is available. This merely points out some of the most egregious examples. Opponents of the war are fond of saying that "Bush lied and our soldiers died." In fact, they'd have reason to assert that "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz lied and our soldiers died." It's past time the principals behind this mismanaged war were called to account for their deliberate misstatements.
Go read all of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

RUMMY STATES THE OBVIOUS -- In a press conference today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he had "not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that" Saddam Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks. Whoa. Wait a minute! The Bush regime is constantly telling people, sans evidence, that Saddam Hussein is linked to the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Mr Cheney said so just last Sunday on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert. [Who failed to pursue the lying bastard sufficiently, as is Mr Russert's tendency when interviewing Republicans.] Now we have Mr Rumsfeld saying he has seen no evidence that leads him to believe Saddam Hussein is linked to the 9/11 attacks. Mr Rumsfeld is correct, but has he discussed this with his masters?

NASTIEST LINE OF THE DAY -- An unidentified bigshot with one of the Democratic presidential campaigns said on CNN today that General Wesley Clark is "Howard Dean with a resume." Not entirely fair, but rather amusing, I thought.

A VAPID PAIR OF CREEPS -- Want to know how George W and Laura Bush managed to finish off September 11, 2001--the day 3000 Americans were murdered--with a laugh? Read this and find out. Just try not vomit on your computer monitor.

HILLARY WORKING FOR CLARK? NOT SO FAST -- It's no secret that President Bill Clinton is an avid admirer of General Wesley Clark and has referred to him and his own wife as "rising stars" in the Democratic party. Now FOX News is reporting that Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY] will be campaign co-chair for the Clark campaign. I just spoke with Senator Clinton's press office and they deny this story. According to her office, the FOX News story is false. [Surprise, surprise.] When I asked her press office if Senator Clinton would be supporting General Clark, I was given a non-committal reply, indicating that Senator Clinton's press office has no instructions on that subject.

CLARK FOR PRESIDENT -- I think General Wesley Clark looks like a very strong candidate for President of the United States. Not only has he lined up bigshots from the Clinton-Gore days to back his candidacy [like Mark Fabiani], but he he has close ties to people who could help him. For example, from Acxiom, an Arkansas-based company where General Clark has served on the Board of Directors, he will draw on his friend Charles Morgan, the foremost direct mail magnate in the United States of America. That should help General Clark get his story into a few homes, eh? General Clark is also close friends with Mack McLarty, a fellow member of the Acxiom Board of Directors and Bill Clinton's first White House Chief of Staff.

Though General Clark will announce his candidacy late in the game [relatively speaking] it appears to me as if he has been laying the groundwork for this campaign for some time. I think General Clark has been considering a run for the White House since he left the military in 2000 and seriously considering a run for at least nine months. I think the groundwork for this campaign began in 2001. In other words, it is not too late for General Clark to win the nomination. Assuming Bill Clinton's people can hook General Clark up to some big donors [and I suspect they can], the General should be off and running fairly quickly. I predict a fairly impressive, though not meteoric, rise in the polls for General Clark, bolstered by some rapturous reviews from the mainstream media and the liberal press. The right-wing media, I suspect, will spit poison on him--something they have been doing in a more low-key fashion for some time now. The biggest question to me, right now, is what sort of a campaigner will General Clark be? He's got the resume. He's got the credentials. He's got the essentials to do the job. But can he win the job? That's something else entirely. After all, we've seen that a man clearly qualified to do the job [Al Gore] couldn't get it and a man clearly unqualified to do the job [George W Bush] did get it.

We will see. I have high hopes for General Clark.

NEW POLL HAS BUSH UNDER 50% -- And the poll is a Republican poll, too. Good news for the human race. Bad news for the White House.

A LINDH MURDER SUSPECT -- Police in Sweden believe they have identified the man who murdered Foreign Minister Anna Lindh last week. They do not have the man in custody yet, however.

YOUR DOONESBURY -- What did he grope and when did he grope it?

THE GENERAL IS IN! -- Tomorrow in Little Rock, Arkansas General Wesley Clark will announce if he intends to run for President of the United States. If he does he would be the tenth Democrat seeking the party's nomination in 2004.
"He's made his decision and will announce it tomorrow in Little Rock," said Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for Clark. Fabiani did not reveal Clark's decision, but officials close to the former general said he told his fledgling campaign team that he's in the race.
I've made no secret of my admiration for Senator John Kerry [D-MA], obviously, but I'm thrilled General Clark will be in the race. I could easily support the General or Kerry and think they'd make a great team somehow. Of course, that's in the future. Right now, both Democrats deserve a chance to win the top spot. Good luck, General Clark. You'll need it and you deserve it.

THE PUBLIC DOES NOT KNOW. WHY NOT? -- According to a Washington Post poll, 69% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. This, despite the fact that not a shred of evidence exists to link the two. Why?
In follow-up interviews, Washington Post poll respondents were generally unsure why they believed Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, often describing it as stemming from news reports or their long-standing views of Hussein. For example, Peter Bankers, 59, a New York film publicist, said his belief that Hussein was behind the attacks "has probably been fed to me in some PR way," but he doesn't know how. "I think that the whole group of people, those with anti-American feelings, they all kind of cooperated with each other," he said.

Similarly, Kim Morrison, 32, a teacher from Plymouth, Ind., described her belief in Hussein's guilt as a "gut feeling" shaped by television. "From what we've heard from the media, it seems like what they feel is that Saddam and the whole al Qaeda thing are connected," she said.
The Bush regime has repeated the lie of Iraqi complicity in the 9/11 attacks almost from the day of the attacks themselves. The media, though it knows differently, has not contradicted those false assertions. The result is a tragically deluded public. And lots of needless deaths in the Middle East. The Big Lie worked for Hitler. It still works for other, lesser scoundrels.

Monday, September 15, 2003

ANOTHER TRAGIC DEATH -- Mr Bush's folly has cost another American life. A U.S. serviceman has been killed today in Iraq, the victim of a rocket-propelled grenade. He is the 156th U.S. soldier to die in Iraq since Mr Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on that aircraft carrier off the Pacific coast of the U.S. back on May 1.

COMING TO AMERICA -- London taxi cabs, those large black beasts rolling up and down the avenues of that great British metropolis, are arriving in the United States even as I type.
In some U.S. cities, the taxis will be painted classic yellow, in others they'll remain the original black. They may be "wrapped" in full car body advertising, as many cabs in London are. Two dozen are destined for Chicago, where they will look like rolling American Express cards. Last week, the San Francisco taxi commission voted to change a regulation requiring taxis there to be replaced every three years. Under the new rules, the more expensive, but much longer-lasting black cabs can stay on the streets for seven years...
Well, this is one import from the British no one will be tossing into any harbor. The English cab, though not as beautiful as many think it to be, would be a huge improvement over much of the junk I rumble about in on the streets of Washington, D.C.

IRAQ LEADER: U.S. MISTREATS IRAQIS -- A member of the U.S. approved Iraq Governing Council today accused the United States of treating Iraqi poorly.
"There is widespread discontent with the coalition forces, the majority of whom treat the Iraqi people with violence and contempt," Rajaa Habib Khuzai told a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio.

"The opinion of the Iraqi people about the coalition forces is that they are forces of occupation," said Khuzai the head of a maternity hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniya and one of 13 Shi'ite Muslims on the 25-member council.
Hmmm. Isn't this guy supposed to be on our side? Another great move by the Bush regime.