If you want to be indignant about the prospect of involuntary military service, be indignant about this: soldiers won't be allowed out at the end of their enlistment terms anymore. That applies to everyone currently serving in Iraq, Kuwait, or Afghanistan, and everyone within 90 days of deploying. Soldiers who expected to retire, to go to college, to get back to their families and their normal lives at the end of their hitch will now be expected to stay in for the duration of the conflict... however long that takes.
Due to overwhelming demand, the Fahrenheit 9/11 trailer will be down temporarily. Please check back later.
I watched the trailer for last night while it was still accessible. The trailer alone is enough to spark anger at this Administration; I have little doubt that the film itself will contain some powerful and affecting imagery. I also have little doubt that the Bush Administration apologists will allow themselves to entertain for even a moment the thought that Moore might have a point, however much they may object to the manner in which he makes it. More's the pity.
Trivia: From the film's IMDb entry, I infer that the film contains the Go-Go's song "Vacation" -- do doubt in a jab at either Bush's proclivity to take time off in general, or the fact that he took a month-long vacation just prior to the 9/11 attacks, after having been warned that al Qaeda was "determined" to strike the United States and may have been planning a hijacking.
David Brooks ("Grading the President," column, June 1) wonders why the Bush administration, having refused to offer tax cuts "distributed down the income scale," and having "left us with a long-term fiscal mess," doesn't now "address the long-term problems."
What I wonder is why intelligent people like Mr. Brooks are unable to divine the administration's motivations from its record: tax cuts for the rich despite the deficit; a windfall for the drug companies despite the aging population; a free ride for polluters despite the global warming; and unilateralism despite the need for a global alliance against terrorism.
This administration has consistently favored the short-term profit of the wealthy few and the administration's own political advantage over the long-term welfare of the rest of us.
What about that is hard to understand?
The answer is obvious: Nothing at all. It's just that "intelligent people like Mr. Brooks" sadly have chosen to open a full-time beauty salon for the pig that is Bush's policies.
President Bush said Thursday he has consulted with a private attorney and is willing to cooperate with the grand jury investigation of who leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year.
The attorney is Jim Sharp, a Washington trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor.
"If I deem I need his advice, I'll probably hire him," Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden. "This is a criminal matter, it's a serious matter."
"I want to know the truth," Bush added. "I'm willing to cooperate myself."
Bush has expressed doubts in the past that the government's investigation will pinpoint who was responsible for the leak.
A federal grand jury in recent months has questioned numerous White House and administration officials to learn who passed along the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to the news media.
Disclosure of an undercover officer's identity can be a federal crime.
Wilson has said he believes his wife's identity was disclosed to attack his credibility because he criticized Bush administration claims that Iraq (news - web sites) had tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Wilson went to Niger for the CIA to investigate the information about Iraq and he found the allegation to be highly unlikely.
Sharp has been an attorney in the nation's capital for the better part of three decades.
"I practiced law with Jim for many years and he's a very talented and experienced lawyer and will serve the president well," said longtime white-collar criminal defense attorney Tom Green, whose clients have included figures in major Washington controversies, including the Iran-Contra affair.
Asked about the leak investigation, Vice President Dick Cheney's office said that if the vice president were to seek counsel on any issue, he would do so with Terrence O'Donnell, a senior partner in the Washington law firm of Williams & Connelly. Cheney has consulted with O'Donnell for years.
The probe is being handled by Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, appointed after Attorney General John Ashcroft stepped aside from case because of his political ties to the White House.
That's another, ah, prevarication, of course: "'I want to know the truth,' Bush added." The ones who burned Plame serve at the President's pleasure; if he wanted to know the truth, all he has to do is ask.
The Bush administration has told officials who oversee federal education, domestic security, veterans and other programs to prepare preliminary 2006 budgets that would cut spending after the presidential election, according to White House documents. The programs facing reductions — should President Bush be re-elected in November — would also include the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department.
Many of the targeted programs are widely popular. Cuts could carry a political price for a president who has touted his support for schools, the environment and other domestic initiatives.
"On the defensive for more than a generation, the American left is seeing signs of political revival," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Recent polls show more Americans are calling themselves 'liberal' -- a term that had been considered something of an epithet -- and fewer are identifying themselves as 'conservative.' Liberal groups, from the National Organization for Women to Moveon.org, are enjoying a big fund-raising surge. The flagship publication of the left, the Nation, claims to have captured the highest circulation of any weekly political magazine."
I would humbly suggest that the liberal stock is rising because after decades of smears from the Right, people are seeing, after a scant few years in power, exactly what the GOP stands for, and what it doesn't.
Wired takes an interesting look at sprite-based Web comics. These comics, such as 8-bit Theater, use digitally edit characters and artwork from video games into the strip. As the article reveals, it's a quick and easy way for the artistically challenged to create a comic strip, but it treads uncertain ground in copyright law.
I've also made another addition to the blogroll. Welcome, alicublog!
Posting will likely continue to be slow over the next several weeks, as I have many competing demands on my time, particularly a slew of reviews I need to write for Destroy All Monsters. I'll have updates on those and the work situation as developments warrant.
I knew this sort of thing had to exist: A series of photo books devoted to pictures of models wearing various office uniforms.
For fans of the sailor uniform books, here's a "Chinkame" format photobook (pocket-sized) photobook of the beautiful uniforms of Japan's OLs (office ladies) -- those dedicated to serving tea and working on copy machines across the country. A super full-color publication documenting the cutest blazers, skirts, outfits and different uniform styles as introduced to you by the hottest current race queens. Famous uniforms of famous companies (NTT Docomo, Seibu Bus Company, BMW, etc) from across the country, with information on the style of the uniform as well as the girl modeling it. This is volume 1 a perfect bound, soft cover book that will look great on your coffee table.
...and yes, they have books devoted to seifuku, or girls' sailor suit school uniforms.
It's actually quite simple. If there was really a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, and the Bush Administration had the "bulletproof evidence" it claimed it did, then there was no reason for the second Congressional authorization. The one under which the US and her allies invaded Afghanistan, which really did harbor al Qaeda, would have sufficed.
The fact that the Bush Administration did not invade on that pretext says as much as the Administration's conspicuous failure to talk up the alleged connections after the war, when we have the run of Iraq in demonstrating that the "Saddam bin Laden" dog just won't hunt.
(Not that Bush shirks from conflating Iraq and 9/11 at every opportunity, but that's another story...)
In a speech on May 21 mentioning the importance of integrity in government, business and the military, Bush veered into a challenge to unidentified "people" who practice moral relativism. "It may seem generous and open-minded to say that everybody, on every moral issue, is equally right," Bush said, at Louisiana State University. "But that attitude can also be an excuse for sidestepping life's most important questions."
No doubt. But who's made such arguments? Hannibal Lecter? The White House declined to name names.
...The president has used a similar technique on the stump, when explaining his decision to go to war in Iraq in light of the subsequent failure to find stockpiles of forbidden weapons. In the typical speech, Bush explains the prewar intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein had such weapons, and then presents in inarguable conclusion: "So I had a choice to make: either trust the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time."
Missing from that equation is the actual choice Bush confronted: support continued U.N. weapons inspections, or go to war.
On May 4, Bush was discussing the war on terrorism, when he said: "Some say, 'Well, this is just a matter of law enforcement and intelligence.' No, that's not what it is." On May 10, he posited: "The natural tendency for people is to say, oh, let's lay down our arms. But you can't negotiate with these people. . . . Therapy won't work."
It is not clear who makes such arguments, however. All but a few lawmakers in both parties support military action against al Qaeda, and Kerry certainly has not proposed opening talks with Osama bin Laden or putting him on the couch.
New York Magazine has a fascinating first-person account by Alexandra Polier, the intern at the center of a rumored affair with John Kerry. The article suggests Democratic political op Chris Lehane as a driving force behind the rumor (as Jesse Taylor put it, "the whole thing shows that Chris Lehane is a complete tool. Or, at least, he might be and probably is."), lays bare the laziness and scandal bias of the mainstream press, and gives some of the more scurrilous members of the media a golden opportunity to look like Grade-A jerks, while others (including Matt Drudge) come off more sheepish and sympathetic.
It was becoming clearer: No single person had to have engineered this. First came a rumor about Kerry, then a small-time blogger wrote about it, and his posting was read by journalists. They started looking into it, a detail that was picked up by Drudge—who, post-Monica, is taken seriously by other sites like Wonkette, which no political reporter can ignore. I was getting a better education in 21st-century reporting than I had gotten at Columbia J-school.
...The more people I talked to, the more one supposed source kept coming up, a woman whom Drudge had called my “close friend.” I won’t mention her name here, but she had worked for a Republican lobbyist—Bill Jarrell, who runs a firm called Washington Strategies, gives money to Bush, and had been a top aide to Tom DeLay. I called her immediately to ask her if she had been telling people I’d had an affair with Kerry. ...She denied it again, then softened her position. “I may have told Bill that you knew Kerry. Look, I was once with you when you phoned Kerry’s office and then he called you right back. And I thought, How amazing, and I got excited and I told friends about it.” She started to cry. “I’m very, very sorry,” she sobbed. “If all this leads back to me, it wasn’t intentional.”
...In the end, I liked [another source]; she’d had the courage to meet me--more than I can say for The Sun’s Brian Flynn, who had first named me. Afraid I would lose my temper, I asked my editor to call him first.
“I was calling to ask you who your source was for your story which named Alex Polier as the intern in the Kerry story,” she said.
“Ah, many people have asked me; it was a fantastic source,” he said. “I broke that story to the world, you know,” he added proudly. “But your source was wrong,” she pointed out. He paused, startled. “You’ve just ambushed me,” he cried. “You’ve ambushed me!”
“I think you should speak to Alex,” she said and passed me the phone.
“Hello,” he said, sounding nervous.
“I’d like to talk to you. I’m writing a piece and have some questions.”
“It’s not a good time right now,” he said. “Let’s meet up next week.”
“Why did you quote my mother when she wasn’t even home?” I persisted.
“I really can’t talk about this right now, Alex,” he said.
When I finally tracked him down the following week, he was brusque and told me to go through The Sun’s PR office. I asked him about my mother again, but he kept saying, “Sorry, Alex, proper channels.” Reached in London, Lorna Carmichael, The Sun’s PR manager, refused to comment. I went to Flynn’s apartment, and spoke to his wife through the intercom. “Go away and leave us alone!” she cried. “He’s not going to come down or speak to you.”
Kudos to Polier for giving Flynn a small taste of what she went through -- all in the interest of the story, of course.
Mark Kleiman sums up: "[T]he depth of depravity displayed by those who hyped this scandal and then refused -- still refuse -- to retract makes the behavior of the ordinary criminals and drug dealers whose conduct I study professionally seem rather innocent by comparison."
As I was driving home from work today, I witnessed an accident. I was a scant block away from home, stopped at a stop sign. As I looked both ways in preparation for crossing the street, I saw a man in a bright blue shirt hit by a car. He flipped over the car's driver-side fender, landing in a heap on the pavement.
I've had CPR training, so I immediately pulled over to see if I could render aid, dialing 911 on my cell phone as I did so. (Annoying delays in connecting resulted in me handing the phone to a bystander; eventually, it got through, and the dispatcher said an ambulance was already on the way.)
I arrived at a scene of chaos. The man -- who appeared to be in his 50s -- was on his back, bleeding profusely from the head (including the ears, from which I guessed he may have fractured his skull). Two young women who were apparently his daughters were screaming at each other, the younger one accusing the older one of running him down. The man was breathing, although only semiconcious, but CPR was not necessary. A woman at the scene (who proved to be a medical aide and a nursing student) asked for something to stop the bleeding, and the older daughter (who had apparently been at the wheel) stripped off her blouse (cool your jets; she was wearing a bra) and applied pressure. (Miraculously, I discovered later I got no blood at all on my clothes.)
Since the woman appeared to have the situation in hand, I stepped away and tried to calm the younger daughter down. She was screaming and hysterical. Presently an ambulance arrived and the medics started doing their thing. The police also arrived, and upon learning I had actually witnessed the accident, one of the officers took down my contact info and kept my driver's license. I cooled my heels for the next hour as the police roped off the scene, telling my recollections to several officers who asked. (One of them referred to me as his "good witness.") One of them mentioned that the man was badly hurt, and they were treating the incident as a potential homicide. He also thanked me for being a good citizen and told me I was helping them out by coming forward.
Eventually one of the officers invited me to make a recorded statement, and after I did so, he returned my license and thanked me. He said that prosecutors may be in touch, and I told him I was at their service.
It was ironic being a mere block away from home, and yet unable to leave the scene. It was also an unsettling display of violence and hysteria. I was pleased to have remained calm, and the officers' routine demeanor was comforting -- of course, I'm sure they've seen much worse.
Paul Krugman has a (typically shrill, of course) column on the Bush Administration's Robin-Hood-in-reverse economic policies.
Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.
Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.
It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a "compassionate" agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.
...Does Mr. Bush understand that the end result of his policies will be to make most Americans worse off, while enriching the already affluent? Who knows? But the ideologues and political operatives behind his agenda know exactly what they're doing.
Of course, voters would never support this agenda if they understood it. That's why dishonesty — as illustrated by the administration's consistent reliance on phony accounting, and now by the business with the budget cut memo — is such a central feature of the White House political strategy.
The White House wasn't forced into deep tax cuts with destructive long-term consequences because of an economic emergency they found when they came into office. They came up with the plan when the economy was roaring.
The true reason and impetus for the Bush tax cut was not economic -- in the sense of reactions to cyclical developments in the economy -- but ideological. For the authors of the plan, the tax cut was a justification in itself; the White House simply grasped on to whatever explanation made most sense at the given moment to advance it. That's why a plan devised at the height of a boom -- to cull an oversized surplus -- made equally great sense when the economy was in free-fall. The policy was driving the rationale, not the other way around.
This new argument -- that the White House pushed through big tax cuts because of the economic slow-down of early 2001 -- is simply an effort to retrospectively exonerate reckless and dishonest behavior which was demonstrably reckless and dishonest at the time. Columnists should challenge that sort of mendacity, not abet it.
As TBOGG sums up, "One is an economist, the other one knows how to spell 'economist'..."
Planet Swank notes the passing over the weekend of two figures from the investigation into the Watergate scandal. As chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate, Sam Dash helped reveal the secret taping system that contributed to Nixon's downfall. Archibald Cox was the special prosecutor fired by President Richard Nixon for his continued efforts to obtain tape recordings made by the system Dash discovered. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, both refused to carry out Nixon's orders to fire Cox, resigning instead in an incident that became known as "The Saturday Night Massacre." (The task of firing Cox fell to Robert Bork, who declined to demonstrate the same scruples as his predecessors.)
Dash was 79; Cox, 92. Planet Swank extends its condolences to these fine public servants' family and friends.
Jaquandor catches Glenn Reynolds in some apparent (surprise, surprise!) intellectual dishonesty regarding Reynolds' insinuations that the media is rooting for the US to fail in Iraq.
Even though I very rarely read Insty, I figured, Hey, why not follow the links? That link leads to a second Insty post, which in turn presents a lengthy quote from a London Spectator article (that I couldn't in turn read, because I'm not registered with them), in which the correspondent reports a discussion with an unnamed "American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials". Well, OK, I'm no journalist myself, but I realized in seventh grade that "someone said something mean about you but I can't tell you who said it" is pretty much a waste of time.
But anyway, soldiering on in that same Insty post, I see that he provides yet another link to yet another older post in which he promises "other admissions of that sort" -- i.e., journalists hoping that the US gets defeated in Iraq. Finally, we get some actual quotes, first one by Salon editor Gary Kamiya, whose article really isn't the type of "I hope we lose!" thing that Reynolds is trying to decry in all this linking. (Reynolds actually admits as much, so as to make me wonder why he bothered linking it in the first place.) But notice! In the paragraph in which Reynolds leads into his already cherry-picked Kamiya quote, he derides ANSWER as "the essential core of the anti-war movement" -- a claim which is not only false, but also clearly intended by its placement here as to imply that Kamiya has some connection with ANSWER. (Maybe he is, but a Google search of the ANSWER site turned up nothing with Kamiya's name on it.)
Then Reynolds provides links to an article written by everybody's favorite left-winger, Ted Rall; some article that novelist Tom Robbins wrote (and not even an article, just a short statement); and to something that rock singer Chrissie Hynde said. (Oh, wait, he doesn't even link the Hynde quote, he just presents someone's account of it.) So, what started out above referring to "journalistic admissions of delight in problems in Iraq" boils down to not much at all, really.
All that link following, and so little payoff.
To which I can only add, "Indeed."
(Of course, there's also the obvious observation -- sadly lost on many warbloggers like Reynolds -- that supporting the United States and supporting the current Administration are not necessarily synonymous. Indeed, I'd argue that at this juncture they're mutually exclusive.)
Meanwhile, other warbloggers continue to float the "stab in the back" meme trial balloon; The Poor Man is on the case.
Bush does not have a lot of options when it comes to appealing to the American people.
On the same subject, Joshua Marshall offers some "so-called 'liberal media'" perspective in describing how the WaPo bends over backward to avoid the obvious:
By all means, read the article, which, if following the dictates of Strunk & White, might be titled "Bush Campaign Lies with Unprecedented Frequency".
...So the Kerry campaign is watching its back because the Washington press corps swallowed the GOP's anti-Gore, 'invented the Internet' mau-mauing hook, line and sinker. And the Bush campaign lies with impunity because even in the rare instance when caught red-handed in a front page piece in the Post, they can still be confident that the blow will be cushioned by plenty of paraphrastic padding, such as the Post's description of the Bush campaign's lies as "wrong, or at least highly misleading" or the "liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts."
With Bush running 75% negative ads (v. 27% negative among Kerry ads), for all practical purposes the negative ads are the Bush campaign.
And it's not as if Bush and Rove had freely chosen a lying, negative campaign. It was forced on them by the logic of the situation.
Given that there's nothing really good to say about the record of the past three and a half years, Bush has no real choice but to go negative. And given that there isn't actually anything very bad in Kerry's public record, those negative spots are going to have to contain a high proportion of lies.
Under those circumstances, if reporters start calling Team Bush for all its negativity and dishonesty they will give Kerry (running a more positive and less mendacious campaign) an advantage that Bush will not be able to overcome. Unless the press goes back to its habit of neutrally reporting false allegations from the Bush campaign as "charges" and then dutifully reporting the Kerry campaign's answers to them, this election is going to be over before it starts.
In other words, the Bush campaign is counting on the so-called "liberal media" to give its lies a free pass, just as it did in 2000. Somehow, I doubt the press will be as willing to play along this time, but then the Administration's apologists will just scream about "liberal bias" some more.
The press is fed up. It's unfortunate that it has taken the press this long to acknowledge that not everything is Rashomon, that there are actual facts in the world, as well as actual lies. Better late than never, I suppose.
We had a very pleasant Memorial Day weekend. My lovely wife and myself enjoyed a great combination of getting adequate rest and accomplishing several key chores around the house. As you might have already guessed, The Girls spent the weekend visiting their grandmother in Louisville (they visited the zoo there and by all accounts had a wonderful time). We dropped them off with my mom on Saturday, meeting in Seymour, Indiana, about halfway between Indianapolis and Louisville on I-65. On our way back, Crystal and I popped by the Edinburgh outlet malls and did some general shopping, including some gifts for Naomi's upcoming third birthday (shh -- don't tell her!). I also scored an awesome BanDai Godzilla toy (the 1954 version), and a swell enameled cast-iron saucepan, along with other essentials for the kitchen.
After adjusting to the initial strangeness of just having the two of us to ourselves, Crystal and I started to miss The Girls, but we also enjoyed the time alone. Saturday night we attended a party the house of some friends, and Sunday we had dinner with some other friends (where we kept an eye the developing severe thunderstorms), then visited our friends Onye and Anthony to watch my new DVD of the superb chop-socky flick The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
Around the house we made some repairs to a fieldstone retainign wall (the first time I'd worked with mortar), in addition to more mundane tasks like washing dishes, mowing and fixing a toilet. Of course, I also found time for a little Soul Calibur 2. And last night we settled in to watch our new DVD of The Return of the King -- I made it all the way through this time; earlier, I had to go crash halfway through. As I said, the weekend was a pleasing combination of rest and productivity.
Crystal picked up The Girls today, and I'm looking forward to having them greet me when I get home. I'm also glad I'm rested up from the weekend! Of course, one of the advantages of a three-day weekend is a four day week.
At the time, my lovely wife and I were having dinner with some friends at their house, which is not far from our own. Our plans for a movie quickly changed in favor of watching the real-time coverage of the storm on the local TV news, which actually caught footage of a funnel cloud on one of its low-res digital traffic cams. Fortunately, our neighborhood was undamaged, save for a downed traffic light several blocks away.