Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The Washington Post has quietly retreated from a legal battle with Vice President Cheney by dropping a lawsuit demanding Secret Service logs of visitors to his office and residence.

The newspaper's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit prompted a flurry of press attention and court action just prior to the November election. In October, a district court judge in the capital, Ricardo Urbina, cited the looming vote when he ordered the Secret Service to comply immediately with the Post's request. However, just six days before the election, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay blocking Judge Urbina's order.

"We have decided not to pursue litigation further, though we believe we would have prevailed in the court of appeals as we did in the trial court," a Post attorney, Eric Lieberman, said in an e-mail yesterday. He said the paper had "a fundamental goal" of getting the records to inform voters before the election and failed in that regard. "We also considered the fact that there are several other well positioned FOIA lawsuits seeking these same types of records, and we are confident that the public's right of access will ultimately be vindicated in them," Mr. Lieberman said.

What is the favorite complaint voiced by the dead-tree media about bloggers? That we're freeloaders who let them do the heavy lifting.

(Our complaint -- that they remain dense, sycophantic toadies -- remains undisturbed by this latest revelation.)

Oh, and our friends are losers on a pure dollars and cents basis, too:
The New York Times Co. posted a $648 million loss for the fourth quarter on Wednesday as it absorbed an $814.4 million charge to write down the value of its struggling New England properties, The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

But far be it from me to suggest that their poor financial performance has anything to do with, say, the dazzling display of journalistic excellence being exposed in Judge Walton's courtroom. The Queen of Iraq and her cohorts are the victims here, doncha know.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Man on Fire

Glenn Greenwald just plain wails today.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Spoiled canard

A staggeringly large industry has grown up around the shibboleth that the mainstream media skews left. The Mighty Wurlitzer is played with gusto by Dick Cheney and his minions.

In a sane world, that received wisdom would be returned to sender in light of this:
Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."

In other words, the public Dick will tell anyone who pretends to listen how Librul the media are, and how he never gets a fair shake. The private Dick knows that Punkinhead and all his cohorts can be counted on to provide hum jobs on demand. (Recall that When Scooter called Russert to complain about coverage, he not only got through, but Lil' Russ immediately relayed Scooter's complaint up to the highest levels of NBC.

Nobody reading this is likely to believe the Liberal Media silliness anyway. But this is another angle on Cheney's infinite regress of hypocrisy, and I haven't seen anyone else talking about this angle.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Shorter State of the Union

(with a sad nod toward John Lennon: "All we are say-ing... is give war a chance..."

The good news is that the MSM seems to have begun to wake up. I watched David Schuster flyspeck Dubya on MSNBC last night. And today the WaPo had this.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maybe the Mustache was right

The Raw Story | Edwards: 'Iran must know world won't back down'

A couple of years back, Tom Friedman cranked up his mighty Profunditron and blessed us with his weighty tome, "The World is Flat." The MOF was expounding about globalization, after exhaustive interviews with at least two Third World cabbies.

But if you take the title as metaphor for John Edwards' learning curve, it is actually pretty insightful stuff.

From a talk given by Edwards in Israel, which strikes me as damning in and of itself:

At the top of these threats is Iran. Iran threatens the security of Israel and the entire world. Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. For years, the US hasn’t done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran. As my country stayed on the sidelines, these problems got worse. To a large extent, the US abdicated its responsibility to the Europeans. This was a mistake. The Iranian president’s statements such as his description of the Holocaust as a myth and his goals to wipe Israel off the map indicate that Iran is serious about its threats.

Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.

Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.

If you think of John Edwards as an anti-war candidate, this outburst may come as a surprise to you. If, on the other hand, you recall that John Edwards co-sponsored the resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq, this will be persuasive evidence of a dead-flat learning curve.

I am willing to listen to possible justifications/explanations. But for now, my objections to the "Breck Girl" epithet are on ice.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Mustache of Freedumb

Think Progress » Friedman Blasts Liberals, Claims They Believe Arabs Are ‘Incapable Of Democracy’
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was one of media’s most vocal advocates for the invasion of Iraq. On Feb. 5, 2003, he said, “I think I get this war, and, on balance, I think it is a risk worth taking.” On March 9, 2003, he added, “Regime change in Iraq is the right choice for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the world. Mr. Bush is right about that.”

Yesterday on NPR’s On Point radio show, Friedman began attacking liberals when a caller asked him about his early support for the invasion of Iraq. He sarcastically said that next time, he’ll “be a better liberal” and “will view the prospect of Arabs forging a democracy as utterly impossible. They’re incapable of democracy.”

You'd best get used to it, Tom. You're going to be getting a lot of such guff for the next twenty years or so. And it is going to be rather unseemly for you to complain too much, seeing as how you are a whole lot better off than those killed and maimed by your cheerleading.

Friday, January 19, 2007



U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.

"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.

"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.

"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said.

The fact that you could put "I was right" on my tombstone will be of scant comfort if there is nobody left to bury me, let alone give me credit.

We are rapidly coming to a point where the only way to head off such a disaster will be forcible removal -- lesser Congressional remedies are simply not up to the task of reining in an executive hell-bent on defiantly destroying himself and his country.

At this point I'd only give 50-50 odds that even impeachment would work, absent military cooperation. I said back in November that "This election means that our ongoing Constitutional crisis will finally also be a power struggle, and that the battle is finally joined." I suspect it is finally dawning on Congresscritters on both sides of the aisle just how high the stakes really are. What I fear they have not yet grasped is how little time they have left to avoid a second Holocaust.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What do you mean "we," Kemo Sabe?

Political Opinions - Editorials on World Events and News: Our Tunnel Vision

Richard Cohen has not lost his touch. Even when he is so close to the truth that he can probably smell it, he manages to turn his column into a demonstration of his own intellectual macular degeneration.

His latest column (his work is still reproduced in my local paper) makes the new and equilibrium-shattering point that "we" failed in Iraq because "we" didn't know a damned thing about what "we" were doing.

(Next week, I predict Cohen will discover cell phones.)

But this is what got me:

I have some questions. When politicians and commentators detail all that the Bush administration did wrong, I wonder whether any of it really matters. Would things have turned out differently if we had done everything right? Was Iraq so "broken" we never could have fixed it? Was Hussein's despotism an avoidable tragedy, or was it, instead, a tragic necessity? I wonder about all these things. I tend to think now we never could have made it work.

Now, of course, everyone looks like an idiot. Bremer was an idiot and Garner was an idiot and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and all the generals, with the exception of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, who called for lots and lots of troops and was sidelined. But these men are not really idiots. They were merely wrong, sometimes on account of arrogance, but they were doing what they thought was the right thing. They simply didn't know what they didn't know. They didn't know a damned thing about Iraq.
First , note the slippery use of pronouns -- "we" could never have made it work because "they" were idiots.

But there are more important things at stake than Cohen's childish psychopathology. Cohen has insufficient insight to even understand that what he is offering is a flavor of the "incompetence dodge." That is, his implicit claim is that the invasion of Iraq was a great idea undone by incompetent execution.


What Cohen refuses to look at, of course is the real insight that lies just past his observation that "they didn't know a damned thing about Iraq." So walk with me a bit Richard ... if they didn't know a damned thing about Iraq, wouldn't it follow that their incompetence extended beyond logistics and execution, and that the whole damned thing was always doomed to failure? Aren't smart people the ones who, like Socrates, know how little they know? And wouldn't it then follow that they were idiots after all, precisely because they acted in such total ignorance? And wouldn't it also follow that the parade of pundits who eagerly followed them over the precipice are idiots, too?

And since you have shown yourself to be such a dim bulb, Richard, allow me to complete the thought -- that means YOU were an idiot. And your complete failure to recognize or acknowledge your mistakes or the price we all paid for your own cheerleading confirms that this conclusion still applies.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Like shootin' fish in a barrel

It wasn't just an especially clever title: McCain explained is mainly 'cause he's vain was also dead-on.

Recall that I said:

1. McCain has staked out the hawkish position.

2. He knows that whatever Bush attempts will fail.

3. To avoid being tarred with Bush's failure, and preserve his "we would have won if we did what I advocated" argument in 2008, he must keep moving rightward and away from whatever Bush's plan is.

4. Ergo McCain's plan will always be whatever Bush advocates plus at least 10,000 troops.

From Greg Sargent at TPM today:
Incredibly, it appears that John McCain is already laying the groundwork to subtly distance himself from President Bush's escalation plan, should it fail.

Here's how: Though full-throatedly backing Bush's plan, McCain is also starting to put out the word that he'd prefer that Bush were sending more troops to Iraq than the President has announced he'll send. This means, of course, that if escalation fails McCain may be able to dilute its impact on his political fortunes by saying success might have been possible if escalation had been carried out completely to his liking.

Am I punditing yet?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ponies for everyone!

From the U.K. Times Online via TPM:
Frederick Kagan, 36, is the author of Choosing Victory, a blueprint for the surge adopted by President George W Bush. Just as everybody had begun writing off the influence of the neocons at the White House, genial, chubby-faced Frederick gave the muscular intellectuals a lease of life.

It was at Camp David last June that Kagan, a military historian and fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, outlined his plans for pouring more troops into Iraq to Bush and his war cabinet.

Donald Rumsfeld, the then defence secretary, was unimpressed, but Kagan’s views got another hearing when Bush was searching for ways to ditch the seemingly defeatist recommendations of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group. “Wow, you mean we can still win this war?” a grateful Bush reportedly said.

Yes, sir. And we have a secret plan to mobilize the 100,000 Waffen troops we've been holding in reserve. They will reach the eastern front tomorrow. The Russians will be forced to retreat, and in a few days we can leave this bunker and march toward victory!

Bush's reaction to the ISG report, and the tragic absurdity of the new "strategy," have been questioned and ridiculed, but the psychological component has gotten short shrift. I think that is a real mistake, because I think Bush's psychopathology drives U.S. policy in a way perhaps never seen before.

I think you can explain about 90% of the Administration's Iraq policy at this point with two simple ideas: Dubya's Oedipal fixation and his rigidity.

I can't find a link right now, but it was widely reported that one of the most attractive features to Bush about Kagan's manifestly absurd surge is that it was not part of H.W. Bush consigliere Jim Baker's ISG report. In other words, it was yet another way of sticking his finger in Daddy's eye. For a more scholarly presentation of Dubya's philosophy, see Professor Q.A. Wagstaff, (1932) "Whatever it is, I'm against it"

I don't know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway --
Whatever it is, I'm against it!
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I'm against it.

Your proposition may be good
But let's have one thing understood --
Whatever it is, I'm against it!
And even when you've changed it or condensed it,
I'm against it.

I'm opposed to it --
On general principles I'm opposed to it!

In a sane world, that kind of petty impulse would be offset by an acknowledgment of its tragic and pointless consequences. But that gets us to the other half of of this tragedy: As Justin Frank has explained at length, Bush has gone through his entire life leaving such messes for others to clean up, and his fragile equilibrium cannot accept any inputs that contradict his fantasy-based storyline.

Thus the outcome was utterly predictable: Daddy (in the form of Jim Baker) scolds and rains on Junior's parade. Junior holds his breath until we all turn blue, and signs up for the magic beans offered by anyone, anyone who can promise to bring the pony he is sure is in there somewhere.

The pony parade gets shorter by the day. But one of the most honest things Bush has ever told us is that he will continue to cling to his fantasy even if Laura and Barney are the only ones marching with him.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The curse of insight

One of the many unfinished columns on my hard drive was a mostly tongue-in-cheek piece reviewing my track record as prognosticator in my columns. I didn't want to crow too much about my record, and so my heart wasn't in it.

Then I watched our pathetic, shell-of-a-spoiled-child President sleepwalk through his "new strategy" talk, the key elements of which were predicted here and here.

Then I read the latest claptrap from Victor Davis Hanson, who continues to publish regularly in major newspapers despite a track record unblemished by success. (This time the patron saint of warbloggers lectures liberals on the evils of -- I kid you not -- expecting the U.S. to solve the world's problems. Um ... yeah. Darn us for urging that Iraq adventure, huh?) And there's the latest insanity from the Mustache of Freedom. The high-profile chowderheads are clearly annoyed at the way in which we can and do point out their incompetence, but their access to their platforms remains undisturbed.

I may just make the time to go back and finish that piece, and give it more of an edge.

Update: From Mideast scholar Trita Parsi in an IPS column yesterday:

President George W. Bush's address on Iraq Wednesday night was less about Iraq than about its eastern neighbour, Iran. There was little new about the U.S.'s strategy in Iraq, but on Iran, the president spelled out a plan that appears to be aimed at goading Iran into war with the U.S.
The incremental raids and arrests may instead be aimed at provoking the Iranians to respond, which in turn would escalate the situation and provide the Bush administration with the casus belli it needs to win Congressional support for war with Iran. Rather than making the case for a pre-emptive war with Iran over weapons of mass destruction -- a strategy the U.S. pursued with Iraq that is unlikely to succeed with Iran -- the sequence of events in the provocation and escalation strategy would make it appear as if war was forced on the U.S.

Me, April, 2006:
What would happen if, for whatever reason, Iran sank a couple of American warships? George Bush would find another megaphone and another telegenic pile of bubble to stand on. The Andrew Sullivans and Thomas Friedmans of the world would drag their laptops and their Huggies with them as they dive under their beds, and again write trembling jibberish praising their Savior in Chief. And millions who only recently wandered out of Camp Jingo would scurry back in mortal fear.

The cowed millions would demand action, and action they would get. Bush would round up his nuclear posse and unleash an unprecedented retaliation. Iran would glow for millennia with the radiation of a thousand nuclear warheads in the first all-out nuclear strike in history. Millions of Iranians, or perhaps tens of millions, would die. And Red State America would cheer. Bush's poll numbers would regain their former heights, and talk of censure and Valerie Plame and Katrina would dissolve into the radioactive haze that would blanket the planet.

The civil war in Iraq would probably subside. Or perhaps we would withdraw regardless, having made a superseding, definitive statement of Texas testosterone. Either way, an Administration currently besieged on all sides would again ride high.

My nightmare is that our rulers are now trying to figure out how to achieve this desirable result. Absent provocation like the sinking of a few U.S. ships, Bush will never get away with going nukular against Iran. So how to provoke Iran into taking the gambit? Incredibly, we are on now upon the second iteration of that genus of questions. We know that Bush talked with Tony Blair about how to goad Saddam into throwing the first punch against us three years ago. It is probably safe to assume that such high-school logic still prevails. So the Administration will look for ways to provoke such an attack again.

The only part of that scenario that I wonder about now is whether the gambit would actually revive Bush's mojo -- I have no doubt that he thinks it will, but he may have waited too long for it to work on Joe Sixpack.

But I suspect we are going to find out in short order.

Update 2: No need to write my column -- Jebediah Reed has done a far more important and fact-laden piece than I would have. I will never see Fareed Zakaria the same way again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

David Roberts @ Huffpo nails it

Via Digby, this is just so dead-on:
The '60s counter-culture revolution was deeply, deeply galvanizing for many people. Not so much for the hippies themselves, mind you -- the Boomers transitioned fairly seamlessly into toothless feel-good bromides, middle management, and unrepentant consumerism. No, the real legacy of the 60s/early 70s was to freak out conservatives on a primal, lizard-brain level (see: Nixon, Richard M. and descendants). A 'culture war' was born, broke the surface with the Reagan Revolution, and continues unabated. The ideological messages were simple: socialism is evil, any use of government on behalf of public welfare amounts to socialism, markets rule, aggressive militarism rules, sex is evil, God rules, and above all -- the central governing principle, the North Star, the lodestone -- beware the dirty hippies.

Beware the dirty hippies. They're immature and irresponsible. They're utopians and dreamers. They meddle with lives and hate Christian values and blame America first and root for terrorists. They want free sex and legalized drugs and mandatory abortion. They want to eat your babies. They heart Satan.

This enormous backlash against revolutionary leftism continued growing and gaining strength long after revolutionary leftism petered out as a political force of any real influence.

The narratives and habits of mind bequeathed us by the culture war are with us still, despite the long-ago disappearance of one combatant. It's shadowboxing on a nationwide scale, and it shows no signs of abating.

Any number of examples could be cited. The same dynamic plays out on virtually every issue: there's the virulent far-right position, funded by deep-pocketed reactionaries and pushed by talk radio, an enormous network of mutually reinforcing conservative pundits in every major media outlet, an entire cable news network (three now, really), and numerous powerful politicians in leadership positions in every branch of government. Then there's the avowedly liberal position, represented by some obscure professor or a guy in the comment section of a blog or a random placard at a protest. Then there's the "centrist" position, which is the far-right position with the edges rubbed off.

How does one establish oneself as a "centrist"? Why, by bashing the dirty hippies. After all, if you bash the virulent reactionaries, you're criticizing "real Americans" and the heartland and the baby Jesus. Everybody positions themselves by way of their distance from the -- at this point largely mythical -- dirty hippie. There's no faster route to media exposure for someone on the left that to spend every minute of the day criticizing other people on the left. Mickey Kaus. Joe Klein. Richard Cohen. Joe Lieberman. The list goes on and on.

Nowhere has this dynamic been more clear and more utterly at odds with reality than around the Iraq War. Before the war, there were people who supported war -- both the militarist right and the "liberal hawks" -- and people who opposed war without the U.N.'s imprimatur, i.e., the bulk of the country. The former were "serious" people; the latter were dirty hippies.

Well. We see how the war has gone. It's a cataclysmic disaster by every conceivable metric. The serious people were wrong about everything. Literally everything. The dirty hippies -- the great masses of the public and the very few public figures (Feingold, Gore, Kucinich) who stood with them -- were right. The war went horribly wrong for just the reasons they said it would.

So what's the dynamic now amidst the Beltway chattering classes? Where's the center? Why, it's still in the exact same place! The people who advocated for war, and who advocate for more war, and who were wrong about everything, are still the "serious" people. The people who advocated against this fiasco, and are advocating for ending it, and who were right about everything, are still the dirty hippies who never show up on cable news or in major media op-eds. Expeditious withdrawal is a fringe leftist position, despite being supported by a clear majority of the country.

In other words, the "center" has become utterly detached from facts, substance, or majority opinion. It's an insular, self-sustaining myth, all about the vanity and egos of powerful people in the Beltway clusterfuck. It's about them, their self-flattery, their exclusive club, not Iraq. For a truly parodic example of this dynamic and its incredible staying power, check out Joe Klein's blog post, wherein he informs us that OK, the dirty hippies were right about Iraq, but they still sound silly and their opponents are still more "serious." One can only marvel.

These fools are toxic. I know some here would have us ignore them, but that is an empty gesture. Our little corner soapbox (and I mean not just this blog, but the blogosphere in general) punishes no one with silence -- the Gang of 500 would not go through withdrawal if the dirty hippies stopped throwing rocks at them. Our only (marginally) effective tools are shame and ridicule. The pundit class does hear our footsteps, and we are making them increasingly nervous.

They will be harder to dethrone than even the Republicans were. But most of them are old now -- Broder, Cohen, Greenfield, etc. My guess is that our brickbats will hasten their retirements, at least a little bit. Who knows if their replacements will be any better. Time Magazine's move to give Bill Kristol a column is discouraging. But the soapboxes these gentlemen have relied upon are not as tall as they once were. And us termites continue to gnaw away at what remains.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


All Headline News - Poll: Most Americans Do Not Support Troop Surge In Iraq - January 9, 2007

According to a newly released USA Today/Gallup Poll, six out of ten Americans oppose a surge in U.S. troops, with 61 percent of those surveyed saying they are against the increase, compared to 26 percent who support a troop increase.

The President's Iraq approval rating has also plummeted to record 26 percent low, as America enters the fourth year of the conflict with some 3,000 U.S. servicemen killed during the conflict.

The poll of 1,004 adults also finds that nearly 50 percent of respondents believe the war in Iraq cannot be won, no matter how many additional troops are sent to quell the increasing violence.

As Esoder notes, Bush is now closing in on Jordan (I think Richard Nixon didn't even go that low), with no sign of loss of momentum.

Monday, January 08, 2007

McCain explained is mainly 'cause he's vain

Think Progress points out that St. John McCain is busy changing his position on what constitutes a proper "surge." After having urged that we send 20,000 troops, he is now saying that 20,000 isn't enough.

What gives?

Quite simple, really.

1. McCain has staked out the hawkish position.

2. He knows that whatever Bush attempts will fail.

3. To avoid being tarred with Bush's failure, and preserve his "we would have won if we did what I advocated" argument in 2008, he must keep moving rightward and away from whatever Bush's plan is.

4. Ergo McCain's plan will always be whatever Bush advocates plus at least 10,000 troops.

Smart. Also cynical, soul-less, hypocritical and horrifying. But smart.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


About nine months ago, I expanded upon an important concept offered by the founder of the Institute by coining the phrase "the point of non-unshitability" to refer to the point at which it becomes impossible to fix a mistake. (The original usage: "People want someone to unshit the bed. You can't unshit the bed. All you can do is make the bed-shitter sleep on the floor. "

At that time it was painfully obvious to the reality-based that Iraq had long since passed that point. But the conservatives were still madly churning away in their attempts to fling the growing pile of poo elsewhere.

The time since has certainly not reduced the feces content of the bed. (Nor, alas, did it result in uptake of my "Point Of Non-Unshitability" terminology. I now suspect it needed a good, sanitized acronym.) But if you are the kind of person who looks for ponies, there is a small one here -- the ranks of the unshitability-deniers have shrunk considerably.

Charles Krauthammer. George Will, Oliver North and David Brooks. The Mustache of Freedom. A number of Republican Senators. Perhaps even Rummy. These Serious Men would likely differ as to the exact moment when we reached the Point of Non-Unshitability. But the important thing is that they seem to have finally come around to acknowledging the fact that, like orifice from which the problem excretes, the problem is behind rather than in front of us. (Admitting that they were wrong and complicit in the disaster is, shall we say, somewhere in the future. But, as they say in the 12-step community, one day at a time.)

So who's left? Bush-Cheney. Victor Davis Hanson. Lieberman. McCain. And that is pretty much it. The dead-enders won't fit in a phone booth, but might squeeze into your average ADA-compliant toilet.

To finish the job, as mentioned above, we need to sanitize the name. Thus I present: PONU.

I think the increasing acknowledgment of the passing of the PONU is a critically important phenomenon, and deserves greater play. So please help me push my PONU-passing meme, and point me to additional former Kool Aid drinkers who now seem to have acknowledged the passing of the PONU.

(Special Bonus Factoid: search "mustache of freedom" in Google, and the first result is moi, but the seventh is Friedman himself.)

(Special double bonus: Friedman snark recycling.)

Update: Brooks lives inside the Times' Green Zone, so I have not read his latest. But it appears that his PONU acceptance remains incomplete at best. At worst, he remains the same fool he has always been.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Armageddon watch

Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran
ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish targets around the world.

...American experts warned of repercussions, including widespread protests that could destabilise parts of the Islamic world friendly to the West.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, a Pentagon adviser, said Iran could try to close the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 20% of the world’s oil.

I called this one nine months ago. And I stand by my premonition about what will happen next if this nightmare is realized.

I guess if I want anyone to listen to me, I should try being utterly and consistently wrong. Being right doesn't seem to be worth much these days.

Update: The connections drawn by RandyH and an anonymous commenter were also made by Serious Men on The News Hour on Friday.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ha ha funny, or ha ha sad?

Shocking Twist: Iraqi At Center of Dispute Over AP Source Does Exist -- And Faces Arrest for Talking to Media

If you spend much time in the blogosphere, you are probably aware that prominent winger nutjob Michelle Malkin has been a leading advocate of a conspiracy theory to the effect that one Jamil Hussein, the source AP quoted in a series of stories that bothered the wingnuts, was a figment of AP's imagination. So convinced was Ms. Malkin that this theory was both (a) true and (b) significant that she announced (just yesterday, I believe) that she is heading to Iraq to find Nicole Simpson's real killer the truth. But that isn't the ha ha funny.

Today comes the ha ha funny:
The Associated Press has just sent E&P the following dispatch from Baghdad, as it was about to be distributed on its wire. The existence of Jamil Hussein had been hotly disputed by conservative bloggers, some Iraqi officials and the U.S. military in recent weeks.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.

The captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.

The U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry raised the doubts about Hussein in questioning the veracity of the AP's initial reporting on the incident, and the Iraqi ministry suggested that many news organization were giving a distorted, exaggerated picture of the conflict in Iraq. Some Internet bloggers spread and amplified these doubts, accusing the AP of having made up Hussein's identity in order to disseminate false news about the war.
Khalaf told the AP that an arrest warrant had been issued for the captain for having contacts with the media in violation of the ministry's regulations.
During Saddam Hussein's rule, information in Iraq had been fiercely controlled by the Information Ministry, but after the arrival of U.S. troops in 2003 and during the transition to an elected government in 2004, many police such as Hussein felt freer to talk to journalists and give information as it occurred.


E&P note: As recently as yesterday, Michelle Malkin, the best-known blog critic of Hussein's existence, stated flatly "the fact that there is no police captain named 'Jamil Hussein' working now or ever in either Yarmouk or al Khadra, according to on-the-ground sources in Baghdad. Late this afternoon, she posted part of the AP dispatch above with the comment, "Checking it out. Moving forward...."

Soon there will be the ha ha sad part: Jamil Hussein is going to be punished for proving, yet again, how desperately clueless Michelle Malkin is.

Update -- The wingers beat a hasty and amusing retreat:
Whether Jamil Hussein actually exists is really a secondary issue. The fact that the AP used a single source for dozens of inflammatory stories about atrocities in Iraq that still have yet to find any confirmation is almost as disturbing as making the source up.
Uh huh. And The Administration was never about "stay the course."

Update II: Malkin gets honorable mention in Olbermann's "worst person in the world" competition. And Greenwald goes all nukular on her sorry ass.

Update III: Well y'all might not find this amusing, but I think it is teh funny.

Eason Jordan (who is/was bankrolling Malkin's trip to Iraq):

all the key players in the jamil hussein controversy have been sullied in this process.
jamil hussein made a mistake by waiting six weeks to speak out on this matter.

the ap erred in part by responding in a hot-headed, antagonistic way to questions about the existence of jamil hussein and the credibility of ap reports featuring comments from captain hussein. the ap's harsh statements fueled the suspicions of critics and those who otherwise would give the ap the benefit of the doubt. another mistake: the ap took too long to provide irrefutable evidence of captain hussein's existence.
Helpful translation via Skippy:

so let's get this straight. the asspress made a mistake by refusing to dignify the righty bloggers' insistance that the asspress was lying. sure. if someone says you're lying, and you adamantly insist you're not, you're making a mistake. because if you say you're not lying when you're not lying, you only make the people who think you're lying think you're lying. we see. it all makes sense now.

Highest Court, indeed

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s Senate confirmation battles in 1971 and 1986 were more intense and political than previously known, according to a newly released FBI file that also offers dramatic new details about Rehnquist’s 1981 hospitalization and dependence on a painkiller.

The FBI file on Rehnquist, released last week under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that in 1971, as Rehnquist’s confirmation hearings for associate justice approached, the Nixon Justice Department asked the FBI to run a criminal background check on at least two potential witnesses who were expected to testify against Rehnquist. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover approved the request.

In July 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Rehnquist to be chief justice, the Justice Department asked the FBI to interview witnesses who were preparing to testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona in the early 1960s. According to a memo in the Rehnquist file, an unnamed FBI official cautioned that the department “should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats’ witnesses.” But then-Assistant Attorney General John Bolton — who more recently served as ambassador to the United Nations — signed off on the request and said he would “accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI.” It is unclear whether the FBI ever interviewed the witnesses.

Also in 1986, the FBI conducted an intensive investigation into Rehnquist’s dependence on Placidyl, a strong painkiller that he had taken since the early 1970s for insomnia and back pain. Rehnquist’s bout with drug dependence had been made public in 1981, when he was hospitalized for his back pain and suffered withdrawal symptoms when he stopped taking the drug.

The FBI’s 1986 report on Rehnquist’s drug dependence was not released at the time of his confirmation, though some Democratic senators wanted it made public. But it is in Rehnquist’s now-public file, and it contains new details about his behavior during his weeklong hospital stay in December 1981. One physician whose name is blocked out told the FBI that Rehnquist expressed “bizarre ideas and outrageous thoughts. He imagined, for example, that there was a CIA plot against him.”

The doctor said Rehnquist “had also gone to the lobby in his pajamas in order to try to escape.” The doctor said Rehnquist’s delirium was consistent with him suddenly stopping his apparent daily dose of 1400 milligrams of the drug — nearly three times higher than the 500-milligram maximum recommended by physicians. The doctor said, “Any physician who prescribed it was practicing very bad medicine, bordering on malpractice.”

This all sounds about right for a right-wing darling eulogized by the Preznit thusly:
On the bench and as a leader of the federal courts, Chief Justice Rehnquist was always a calm and steady presence. In his thinking and in his bearing, he personified the ideal of fairness, and people could sense it. Inside the Court, no man could have been a finer steward of the institution, its customs, and its history.

Some of the revelations discussed on this article are genuinely new. But there was plenty that was already known. A few years back I read John Dean's "The Rehnquist Choice", and there was plenty there to disgust. The parallels between the Nixon and Bush administrations are striking.

I wonder how psychopharmacology would explain Justice Scalia...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wish I'd said that

From Whiskey Fire via Eschaton:
(T)he Right Wankosphere(is) compelled to adopt a tortuous stance of "civil discourse" in order to pinch-hit for the intellectual capital they sense they lack, an attitude that in the end amounts to the contention that their insane enthusiasm for incompetent warmongering is a perfectly reasonable "intellectual position" simply because they don't use the word "fuck."

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