The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, November 20, 2003

OFF TO SPANDAU? -- Okay, just kidding. Nevertheless, the news is that uber-chickenhawk Richard Perle has admitted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal. He just does not care. Uncanny honesty, if not insight, from the dark prince of neoconservatism.

TURNING ON THE AARP -- The AARP's support for the awful White House Medicare plan has sparked a small but growing revolt among senior citizens and Democrats. Good. I smell a rat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

BELTWAY BANDIT NFL POWER POLL

01. Kansas City Chiefs [9-1]: It is no shame to get beaten by Marvin Lewis’ Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs are not unbeatable, but they’re still the best team in the NFL. [No change]

02. Tennessee Titans [8-2]: Offense needs to develop something besides the Steve McNair Show. [No change]

03. Indianapolis Colts [8-2]: Peyton is just tearing the league apart. [No change]

04. New England Patriots [8-2]: Dominance of Cowboys proves Belichick is the top coach in the NFL right now. Pats are the hottest team in the league. [No change]

05. Carolina Panthers [8-2]: Finding ways to win the close ones, but a real Super Bowl contender should crush teams like Washington. [No change]

06. Philadelphia Eagles [7-3]: Have won seven of their last eight and finally played a pretty game in demolishing the Giants. Donovan McNabb looked like an elite quarterback on Sunday. Uh-oh. [+1]

07. St. Louis Rams [7-3]: Unimpressive win over Chicago, but St. Louis has already won as many games this year as they did in 2002. [+1]

08. Seattle Seahawks [7-3]: Hasselbeck and Alexander looked great destroying the Lions, but the Seahawks must still learn to play well on the road. [+2]

09. Dallas Cowboys [7-3]: Two of Dallas’ three defeats have been by shutouts. Parcells just does not have an offense capable of playing with any elite teams. [-3]

10. Denver Broncos [6-4]: Jake the Snake and Clinton Portis are back, which means so are the Denver Broncos. This team could very well rise quickly back into the top five or six in the league, as their drop was due solely to injuries. If they can stay healthy for the rest of the season, Denver can be one of the top four teams in the AFC by the time the playoffs roll around. [+9]

11. Miami Dolphins [6-4]: The fact that this team makes the top eleven of the most prestigious power poll in the world only demonstrates how the league is dominated by a few good teams this year. Miami is not one of those few good teams. [+1]

12. Cincinnati Bengals [5-5]: Everyone is talking Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick for Coach of the Year and those are both good choices. But what about my man Marvin Lewis? And where the hell did Rudi Johnson come from? TB Corey Dillon might be somewhere else, maybe Dallas, next season. [+6]

13. San Francisco 49ers [5-5]: Tim Rattay has rallied the team. [+1]

14. Green Bay Packers [5-5]: With Favre a shadow of his former self, team is relying on strong running game behind a terrific offensive line. With Minnesota in a free fall, the Packers could definitely win the NFC North. That does not say much for the NFC North, however. [+3]

15. New Orleans Saints [5-5]: TB Deuce McAllister is tearing up the league right now, but it is hard to take a team seriously when they have to struggle so much just to beat the Falcons. As for that Saints defense? Peeeyeuh! [No change]

16. Minnesota Vikings [6-4]: Now losing by ten points to teams that have to play Rick Mirer at quarterback. The Vikes are fading fast. [-7]

17. Baltimore Ravens [5-5]: You know you’ve got trouble when Anthony Wright is your best option at quarterback. Speaking of the option, the Ravens might as well run that. It’s probably their best hope. [-5]

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [4-6]: Dumping Keyshawn Johnson could only help. [-5]

19. New York Giants [4-6]: Missed Jeremy Shockey in the red zone. [-3]

20. Houston Texans [4-6]: The fact that they seem to play at least as well with Tony Banks as they do with David Carr has got to make you wonder. [+1]

21. Cleveland Browns [4-6]: Talk about addition by subtraction. TB William Green is suspended for drugs and WR Kevin Johnson is cut for being a loudmouth. Cleveland comes out and plays its best game since the late 1980s. [+4]

22. Buffalo Bills [4-6]: Losing to Tony Banks now? What else can happen? [-2]

23. Washington Redskins [4-6]: Still competing, but offense specializes in squandering opportunities. [-2]

24. New York Jets [3-7]: Offense is back, but defense needs a lot of work. [-2]

25. Oakland Raiders [3-7]: Winning with a strong running game and taking advantage of turnovers is a good recipe for success in the NFL, but it is not the sort of thing that entertains Al Davis. [+7]

26. Pittsburgh Steelers [3-7]: Fan base is unhappy with Head Coach Bill Cowher, but their real beef should be with the front office, which has let the team fall apart in the offensive and defensive backfields. [-3]

27. Detroit Lions [3-7]: Defense is terrible and Mariucci must make a greater effort to run the ball. Odd, since he had no trouble committing to the run in San Francisco. [-1]

28. Chicago Bears [3-7]: Playing hard even when they’re not winning. [No change]

29. Arizona Cardinals [3-7]: Even by the sorry standards of this awful franchise, Sunday’s blowout loss to a mediocre Cleveland team was a disgrace. [-2]

30. Atlanta Falcons [2-8]: Hung tough with the Saints, but quarterbacking is just killing this team. [-1]

31. Jacksonville Jaguars [2-8]: Byron Leftwich earning a tough initiation into the NFL. [-1]

32. San Diego Chargers [2-8]: Flutie had no magic this time. [-1]

Monday, November 17, 2003

HYPOCRITES UNITE -- A man who not long ago declared France to be our mortal enemy now demands that moderates around the world unite for peace. Does this man have no shame at all?

GENERAL CLARK GOES NUCLEAR... -- on a FOX News anchor puppet who was distorting the general's words about Iraq. It was great to see a Democrat stand up to the GOP smear machine like that. As for the anchor/puppet, you can't really blame him too much. He's just taking orders.

Via Talking Points Memo.

TAKE THAT, PEG! -- One of my favorite newspapers, the Asian Times has published ablistering and accurate review of Peggy Noonan's latest vomit-inducing pollutant to the publishing world, A Heart, A Cross, and a Flag."
"This war happens to be the reason he is president: because something big and bad and dark was coming, and he was the man to lead us through it ... My sense is that he walked into office knowing huge history was coming but not knowing when, what, where. Now he knows. I can quite imagine him thinking, This is the reason I'm here." (pg 60)

No, the above is not an excerpt from some Halloween story told to a five-year old by her mystical Californian mother: It is, in fact, a passage from an essay written by a veteran journalist affiliated to a prominent publishing establishment of the United States. I regret to report that, between the covers of A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag, I had to slog through 269 pages of such poppycock from Peggy Noonan, a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a speechwriter for former president Ronald Reagan.

Had irrationalism, vacuity and tediousness been the book's only features, I would have probably opted out of reviewing it. Unfortunately, however, Noonan's rhetoric has the additional demerit of being pathetically truncated and therefore politically dangerous; a review is further warranted because the book exemplifies a certain crisis of representation that appears to have gripped mainstream American journalism past the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
My only problem with this review is that it does not spend more time equating Ms Noonan's work product with a steaming pile of cow excrement.

CHICKENHAWK TRUE TO FORM -- Afraid of facing a torrent of criticism and a possible walkout by Labour backbenchers, Mr Bush has withdrawn from his plan to speak to the British Parliament during his visit to the United Kingdom. What a wimp.

MORE BUSH BETRAYAL ON TRADE -- If the British government was galled by the Bush administration's illegal steel tariffs, they ain't seen nuthin' yet!
GEORGE Bush's administration has called on US companies in Britain to relocate jobs to America in an astonishing move that could trigger a major trade war.

US-based multinationals have been told they will receive compensation from American trade authorities if they cancel contracts in Britain and take jobs home, according to CBI director-general Digby Jones.
...
Speaking at the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham, Jones said: 'Three chief executives of American companies investing in Britain have told me to my face that they have been told to close down, bring their stuff home and make it in the US.'

He said the companies were major employers in defence or manufacturing.

Jones continued: 'Whether flouting international law with their steel tariffs or telling their companies to come home, this bullying affects Britain and British jobs.
...
Unilever chairman Niall FitzGerald said: 'There is a mid-Atlantic trade storm whipping up. There will be retaliation and then retaliation to that retaliation, which could lead us to a 1930s decline.'

FitzGerald said it was unlikely Bush would back down over steel as Presidential elections take place next November.

A spokesman for Trade Minister Patricia Hewitt said: 'It is extremely worrying and just emphasises the damage, the negative effects, a trade war can have.'

US delegates were critical of the administration's behaviour. 'We would caution against and resist protectionism,' said Kirk Lock-Scobie, finance director of IT group Avaya, which employs more than 700 people in Guildford, Surrey.
Poor ol' Tony Blair just does not get it, does he? He's dealing with a faithless man in George W Bush. A man who believes in nothing but the advancement of his own political career and the fortunes of the elite special interests which have bankrolled same. The rest of the world has already caught on to this. What has taken Tony Blair so long? Is he really so dim?

RELIGIOUS LIBERALS TO ORGANIZE -- This is long overdue:
In an effort to counter the influence of conservative Christian organizations, a coalition of moderate and liberal religious leaders is starting a political advocacy organization to mobilize voters in opposition to Bush administration policies.

The nonprofit organization, the Clergy Leadership Network, plans to formally announce its formation on Friday and will operate from an expressly religious, expressly partisan point of view. The group cannot, under Internal Revenue Service guidelines, endorse political candidates, and it will have no official ties to the Democratic Party.

But the driving purpose of the organization, according to its mission statement, is to bring about "sweeping changes — changes in our nation's political leadership and changes in failing public policies."

The Rev. Albert M. Pennybacker, of Lexington, Ky., chief executive officer for the organization and the chairman of its national committee, said: "The Christian Right has been very articulate, but they have been exclusive and very judgmental of anyone who doesn't agree with them. People may want to label us the Christian Left. But what we really are about is mainstream issues and truth, and if that makes us left then that shines even more light on the need for a shift in our society."

The organization seeks to counter groups like the Christian Coalition of America and newly influential groups like the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition.
Maybe now the media will question whether or not right wing Christians speak for all Christians. They do not, but you'd never know it from monitoring the U.S. media.

BLAIR TRADE POLICY AIMS AT BUSH'S RE-ELECTION -- When Mr Bush visits UK Prime Minister Tony Blair this week he will find an unpleasant surprise waiting for him. And I'm not talking about the street demonstrators, whose opinions are of no import to Mr Bush.
George Bush will be served notice today that the deep hostility towards him in Britain has reached the Blair inner circle, when the former minister Stephen Byers launches a bid to destabilise the president's re-election campaign next year.
On the eve of Mr Bush's state visit to Britain, Mr Byers, an arch-Blairite, will set out proposals to help Democrats in key swing states if the White House refuses to abandon punitive trade sanctions against the UK.

Acting with the tacit approval of Blair supporters, who were enraged when Mr Bush imposed tariffs on imports of British steel to shore up his vote, the former trade and industry secretary will call for sanctions to be imposed on four key marginal states which the president will need to win.

The states - and the exports to be targeted - are:

· Florida and its citrus products. The state was the scene of the "hanging chad" saga in the 2000 presidential election, after Mr Bush and Al Gore virtually tied there;
· Wisconsin and its apples and paper. Mr Gore won this state by a tiny margin;
· Tennessee and its chemicals. Mr Bush scored a narrow victory in Mr Gore's home state;
· Iowa and its agricultural equipment. This state will play a key role when the nominations battle starts in January.

Mr Byers also calls for tariffs to be imposed on exports of textiles, which would hit states across the American south.

In a letter to Pascal Lamy, Europe's top trade negotiator, Mr Byers calls for the EU to im pose the tariffs if Mr Bush fails to lift his sanctions by a December deadline imposed by the World Trade Organisation.
I believe that deadline is around December 11, 2003. Whatever the case, this is a welcome development. The steel tariffs were an outrageous betrayal of our trading partners and a cynical ploy for electoral support in key rust belt states. The EU is completely justified in striking back.

OFFICIAL IN IRAQ BLASTS BUSH POLICY -- An Italian official working for the occupation administration of Iraq resigned today and blamed Bush administration incompetence for the failure to secure a peaceful Iraq.
"The provisional authority simply doesn't work," Marco Calamai, a special counselor to the authority in the province of Dhi Qar, told reporters in announcing his resignation, according to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
...
He said the American-led administration, headed by L. Paul Bremer, doesn't understand Iraqi society and has muddled reconstruction projects by delaying financing. He said its policies were in part to blame for last week's attack on the Italian Carabinieri barracks that killed 19 Italians, as well as 14 others.

The U.S.-led authority has created "delusion, social discontent and anger" among Iraqis and allowed terrorism to "easily take root," Corriere quoted Calamai as telling Italian journalists Sunday in Nasiriyah.

The attack on the barracks "is the consequence of a mistaken policy and an underevaluation of the complexity of the social structure of Iraq," he said. "There needs to be a radical change with respect to the policies taken so far by the USA."
...
Calamai told reporters that reconstruction projects promised and financed by the administration "have had practically no results," and that bureaucratic delays had prevented promised money from reaching some rehabilitation projects.
First Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who supported Mr Bush during the Iraq War, says he tried to convince Mr Bush to take an alternate course and now this. Pretty soon Donald Rumsfeld will be comparing Italy to Cuba and they'll be listed on a new Axis of Evil during the Usurper's 2004 State of the Union speech.

ANOTHER RIGHT WING SCUMBAG -- Conrad Black, right-wing publisher of dozens of newspapers around the world has agreed to step down from his post at the head of a multinational media conglomerate after admitting and other executives had received unauthorised secret payments totalling £19m. It seems he's willing to sell the newspaper now, too.