Thank god, once again, for Dana Milbank. And, it's the best review of what the intelligence committee found.
Yesterday's report by the Senate intelligence committee left in shreds two of the Bush administration's main rationales for the war in Iraq: that Iraq had illicit weapons and that it cooperated with al Qaeda.
The conclusions are not earthshaking by themselves. Although President Bush and Vice President Cheney have not abandoned either rationale, both were already tattered after similar doubts were voiced over many months by U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq, the commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA officials and others.
The larger question is whether voters will blame the White House for these two massive mistakes. Though officially agnostic on the White House role in using Iraq intelligence (that will come in a later report), the committee gives ammunition both to Bush and Democratic opponent John F. Kerry.
Some officers told Taguba's staff that they believed the Abu Ghraib mess had its roots in an earlier case at the Camp Bucca detention center in southern Iraq last summer. The Army developed evidence that MPs viciously attacked prisoners there, including one who had his face smashed in. Four soldiers were given less than honorable discharges, but were not prosecuted. Said one major who worked at Abu Ghraib: "I'm convinced that what happened [at Abu Ghraib] would never have happened if" the Camp Bucca case had been prosecuted.The natural questions are: Who was in charge at Camp Bucca? Did Rumsfeld know about the abuses there? Did he do anything if he did know? Did anyone tell Bush? Stay tuned...
I don't know if the lesson is "don't get married," or "don't be an egomaniac," or maybe even, "don't get married if you're an egomaniac," but I'm pretty sure "yeesh" is the proper response.
Will Smith demanded a nude shower scene in his new film, "I, Robot," because he wanted to show fans his body is more toned than Brad Pitt's.
Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith reveals there was no nude scene when her husband signed up to star in the sci-fi thriller, but, after he heard hunky Pitt would be baring his backside in "Troy," he insisted he stripped off.
Jada explains, "Will is really full of it. He needed to be in shape because he wanted to do a nude scene in this movie that he didn't have to do. He wanted to do it because he wanted to show his body.
"He said, 'Brad Pitt's taking his clothes off in Troy. I'm taking my clothes off in I, Robot.'"
Be warned, if other bloggers start going naked, the boys of Unfogged...nope. No Cheneyin' way.
You can thank me later for not being an analytic philosopher and writing a two-thousand word post about this. Yes, Dick Riordan told a little girl her name meant "stupid, dirty girl," but he didn't call her that. He did what adults often do when they're joking with children: give them an outlandishly false answer to a question, have them say, "noooooo" (which they seem to rather enjoy), and then take them seriously when they correct you. Given that the girl was asking him if he knew what her name meant, Riordan's answer, which was, "It means stupid, dirty girl," is best understood to say, "Does it mean stupid, dirty girl?
Now, that's not a funny joke, but it is a joke, and Riordan goes on to feign interest in her answer and give her affirmation, etc. etc., and all this before the press jumped on him. Give the guy a break already.
Has the presidential campaign started? Here's what's on Drudge at the moment.
Kerry hasn't had time to review a terror briefing. (This matters, why?)
Whoopi Goldberg made jokes about Bush and John Edwards at fundraiser, and now the Republicans are demanding video of the event be released.
Kerry and Edwards "can't keep their hands off each other."
Tom Daschle denies hugging Michael Moore.
Meanwhile, Paul Krugman points out that there's a major domestic policy difference between Bush, who wants to keep taxes low for people who earn over $200,000, and Kerry, who would rather use the money for health benefits for the poor.
Thank god for good sports with no shame. Human Guinea Pig Emily Yoffe decides to participate in the Mrs. America pageant. First, she goes to meet a pageant consultant.
When Laurett opened the door to her home and saw me on the stoop, I suddenly knew what it must be like to weigh 300 pounds and show up for a blind date for which the other person has not been prepared. Her eyes popped, and she gasped a little. Then she gamely tried to cover her reaction with the kind of smile you would give to your blind date while you figured out how to fake an appendix attack during dinner.
She wonders about changing the rules.
I thought having a bathing suit competition in the Mrs. America contest was perverse. Go to the beach and take a look at the families. You will conclude the point of marriage is not companionship or reproduction but never having to worry anymore about looking good in a bathing suit. Leave the displays of nubile sexuality to the Miss contests. A Mrs. pageant should consist of maneuvering a minivan, saying "Go brush your teeth," and modeling flannel nightgowns.
But, best of all, there are no other D.C. contestants, so it looks like she'll have to compete in the national event.
I realized I had to find someone to take the title from me.
I called a gorgeous friend with a centerfold-ready figure and told her about the pageant. She sounded mildly curious until I mentioned the bathing suit.
"I would never parade around on stage in my bathing suit," she said. "Are you out of your mind?"
I asked my husband for advice on who else to recruit. "I think you have lost touch with how deeply bizarre it is to call your friends and ask them to compete against you in the Mrs. Washington, D.C. contest."
Hey, does Wonkette live in D.C.?
PART 2: She competes.
I asked my husband just how bad the whole bathing suit thing had been.
"I can't tell you," he replied.
"That bad?" I said.
"I can't tell you because I couldn't look."
Thanks, Matthew Yglesias, for reminding us that an education in philosophy is not enough -- at least for understanding (a) that the rapidly accelerating global extinction crisis for the most part results from the rapidly accelerating destruction of entire ecosystems, (b) that no one knows enough about any of the ecosystem services that keep us alive and healthy to justify being so casual about the near-random wholesale dismantling of entire ecological systems, or (c) that wars of the future are likely to be fought over natural-resource issues, which are in turn affected by biodiversity processes like species invasions. The biosphere may not be a densely interconnected fragile web, but neither is it a collection of unconnected nodes. Whatever the web of species looks like, human beings are well tangled in with everything else. (Except for maybe a lot of the bacteria.)
Half the things we yell at Bushco for have to do with their willful ignorance of the consequences of their actions. (The other half has to do with them just not caring about those consequences, as long as they mostly affect poor people and Californians.) They run huge businesses and amass huge power, so they think they're smart enough to wield that power consulting no one but their yes-men, their religious intuitions, and their neo-con idealogues. It's not enough! Think what you will about the ideological nature of science, but the zebra mussels that are choking the Great Lakes are not fictions.
Matt, you're no better than Bushco when you dismiss entire subdisciplines of biology by assuming (assuming!) that other species don't affect humanity. Or when you disrespect science by dismissing it as less deserving of knowledgeable discourse than the philosophy and politics stuff you undoubtedly spent some time actually reading about at Harvard.
The Endangered Species Act was the strongest weapon environmentalists had for forcing corporations to respect the natural processes that are external to their financial calculations. For three decades it brought industries and governments to the negotiating table -- and its power was in its relative inflexibility. Before Bushco's rule changes, landowners were required to protect listed species. Now, they're to be offered incentives. Incentives?? The species that were saved by the ESA were saved because landowners were dragged kicking and screaming into setting aside protected habitat. No incentive offered for optional action ever did anything. No incentive ever helped a California condor or a leatherback sea turtle or a Karner blue butterfly, which means that no incentive ever helped the landscapes (and seascapes) that support them either. Bushco hates America's mountains, oceans, and grasslands. And apparently Matthew Yglesias doesn't care.
I know -- it's old, old news. But I want it to be picked up by the mainstream media, and since so many Today Show producers read Unfogged, here it is:
On July 4 Nicole and Jeff Rank were at the West Virginia state capitol attending a tickets-only presidential visit -- officially not a campaign event. They had tickets, for which they were required to supply personal information including birthdates and Social Security numbers. The event was paid for with state and federal funds. The Ranks were in a crowd of people, many of whom were wearing pro-Bush t-shirts, but the Ranks' t-shirts read, "Love America, hate Bush." The Ranks concealed their shirts when they were admitted to the event, but when they later revealed their shirts they were asked to leave. They refused. They were handcuffed, removed from the event, and cited for trespassing.
Nicole Rank, a federal employee on long-term assignment in West Virginia, was sent home to Texas. It's possible that she will soon be deported and then detained at Guantanamo forever.
(WV Gazette link via Holden at Eschaton.)
It's nice that Bush finds it useful to refer to the ABA's Qualified label when decrying Democratic Senators' reluctance to confirm wingnut judges. (Note that the ABA does give a higher rating: Highly Qualified.) Especially nice since three years ago his administration disinvited the ABA from rating its nominees at all.
Did you know that there's a burgeoning Israeli/Palestinian hip-hop scene? Check it.
Check the right sidebar of the article for some samples. They're not even totally embarrassing.
I wonder if they'll, like, start shooting each other.
Do you give instructions if it's bad? If it's somebody I care about, or someone I want to see again, yeah. But if it's someone I'm just hooking up with, I don't give a shit....
Sex on the first date: does it matter to you in terms of making somebody your girlfriend? If things don't start to develop by the second date, it's not worth it. Most of the time that's why I'm going out on dates — to get laid. There's so many hot girls down here, it's not like you even have time to get to know their personality....
Do you think [it sucks that some girls never have orgasms]? I really don't care, to be honest with you. If it's someone I care about, I guess that would suck for them. But at this point, I'm kind of in it for myself.Gladstone, 24, however, despite his conservatism, seems like a decent guy.
Are golden showers better if you're in the shower? Hell no! Ain't nobody pissing on me or I'm gonna knock them the fuck out.We pass over the other two in silence. Or just ask, "Have you ever had sex with the television off?"
I don't even know where to begin. They're having sex on stage to save the environment, but it's even funnier than that. Probably not work-safe.
Now that we're about to have the trial-lawyer debate, it's worth revisiting this excellent Michael Kinsley column from a couple of years back. Forgive the long excerpt, it's very good.
This cramped sense of justice helps to explain one of the anomalies of American politics: the liaison between trial lawyers and the Democratic Party. This is often portrayed as a marriage de convenance between an underloved interest group and an underfunded political apparatus, and it is that in part. But the trial lawyers are also delivering daily, via lawsuits, the only kind of social justice that's easy to deliver in this country, while the Democrats, via legislation, have difficulty delivering anything at all.
The Republicans are mostly right and the Democrats are mostly wrong about trial lawyers. Lawsuits really are a costly, inefficient, arbitrary, and often counterproductive way to deliver justice. In a recent study, the libertarian CATO Institute figures (with slightly suspect exactitude) that tort litigation costs the country $91.5 billion a year in lawyers' fees alone.
But the Republican complaints gloss over the fact that most lawsuits, including some of the most absurd ones, do deliver justice of a sort. There are exceptions: If the vegetarians currently suing McDonald's for covertly using beef extract in its fries manage to get their palms greased, that will be a parody of justice. But if, say, a smart lawyer managed to smoke $2 million out of McDonald's for a 9/11 widow—plus another million for his own contingency fee—by persuading a jury that eating Chicken McNuggets fueled the terrorists' hatred of America—that would be a parody of justice but not unjust. Would you voluntarily exchange your beloved spouse for a $2 million check? If your answer is yes, just ignore the next point. If your answer is no, then the widow is still undercompensated for her loss (and McDonald's, although blameless, needs the $2 million less than she probably does).
What's missing from Republican attacks on lawyers and lawsuits is any desire to replace crazy, random social justice with sane social justice. Limits on patients' rights to sue their doctors, for example, would go nicely with a credible plan for universal health insurance. This says: Let's worry more about fixing everyone's bum knee and less about trying to salve a few bum knees with extra cash.
That last point is critical. Absent alternative avenues for justice--precisely what Edwards demands in his "Two Americas" speech--Republicans are still the villians of this story. Most of my friends are lawyers, so I could be misjudging here, but Edward's work and message are of a piece, and despite the Right's obvious enthusiasm for attacking his lawyering, I think it's a boon to the Dems.
From David Greenberg's review of the recent Bush-dynasty books in the July 12 New Yorker.
Abraham Lincoln . . . invoked God, but he did so in a spirit of humility, questioning his own certitude and thus inviting further questioning. Bush does the opposite: his use of religion seems designed to remove any doubt—first in his own mind, then in the public's—about his course. It doesn't assist Bush with his reasoning; it substitutes for reasoning. Instead of providing a starting point for careful judgments, it assures him that the instincts on which he has based his policy are unerring.
This kind of recourse to religion leaves citizens no grounds on which to question the President's actions. If the inspiration of God or the Bible is purely personal or subjective, it's not open to debate—and decisions based on it become immune from scrutiny. The result is to short-circuit political deliberation, since democracy rests on the ability of the governed to check their leaders through reasoned argument.
. . . Like the trappings of his Texas populism, his public piety allows him to connect with ordinary folk as his father never did. Talking Biblical talk, he can shuck off his social class's perceived indifference to people's everyday concerns. It's a paradox, but a politically invaluable one, that his invocation of religion both places him beyond public accountability and conveys that he's just like everyone else.
2. Naive question: how come it's possible to flaunt Bible-knowledge and still be perceived as being an anti-intellectual everyman? Is it because it's just fact-knowing and not critical analysis? Because from out here in the atheist seats, it looks like those evangelical classes and study groups ought to be great places for intellectual debate. People get together regularly to interpret cryptic passages from a book everybody there has read, and to discuss practical applications of difficult abstract principles. Also, surely once in a while someone must suggest that Jesus' politics leaned a little bit lefty?
Thank you, Sergeant Samuel Provance.
He spent half a year stationed at Abu Ghraib. Today, 5 months later, we meet him in Heidelberg. His superiors have strictly forbidden him to speak to journalists about what he experienced in Abu Ghraib. But Provance wants to talk about it nevertheless. His conscience troubles him. He discusses a 16-year old he handled:
"He was very afraid, very alone. He had the thinnest arms I had ever seen. His whole body trembled. His wrists were so thin we couldn't put handcuffs on him. As I saw him for the first time and led him to the interrogation, I felt sorry. The interrogation specialists threw water over him and put him into a car, drove him around through the extremely cold night. Afterwards, they covered him with mud and showed him to his imprisoned father, on whom they'd tried other interrogation methods.
They hadn't been able to get him to speak, though. The interrogation specialists told me that after the father saw his son in this condition, his heart was broken, he started crying, and he promised to tell them anything they wanted."
There's more, including information about a children's section at Abu Ghraib. Eventually this will be covered, even in the U.S. Honor is a tricky concept, and lots of bad things happen when people esteem it, but I can't believe that Donald Rumsfeld, who I don't take to be an evil man, hasn't resigned.
via the poor man
MORE: It gets worse. Thanks to an anonymous commenter. Provance has been stripped of his clearances, can't be promoted, and threatened with discipline for not reporting what he now says he saw. More on the cover-up and abuses here.
Nothing is true. Abandon all hope. I so give up.
As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel — not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images — who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.
After the colonel — who was not named in the report — selected the statue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.
Rock, Paper, Saddam has its moments.
"Ask Aziz," being one.
I have a feeling I'm not the only one with a silly story along these lines. In preparation for all the marriages I'll be attending in the Fall, I decided to add something a bit fresher to my selection of suits. But I'll be damned if I dress up to shop, so I went out in jeans and a yet-to-be-definitively-named synthetic wicking t-shirt.
I went first to a department store, which at least I knew was going to be the cheapest place I would look. Try telling it to the salesman. "So, you're looking for something dark, and on sale." Doesn't have to be on sale, I offered. He showed me his three cheapest, and cheapest-looking suits. They really don't have to be on sale, I reminded him. That's all we have, he replied. I walked over to another rack. "What about these?" I asked, not quite pointedly. Oh yes, but those are expensive, I swear he actually said. I thanked him, and left.
Then I went to a chi-chi boutique. The salesman was jovial, avuncular. Look, I told him, apparently the guy at the department store couldn't be persuaded that I want to buy a nice suit, but seriously, I do. He believed me. We tried on a bunch, I was through with formalities, so he'd tell me something looked nice, I'd say nice things like, "I think you're wrong," but he was an actual salesman, trying to sell me stuff, so he humored me. We wound up with one acceptable (but not perfect) suit. I looked at it, considering, leaning against. How much? $3890. Not cheap, is it (I said while, miraculously, still standing)? No, but James Bond wears Brioni, he attempted. I thanked him, and left.
But those were just the trials before the reward folks, because the next place I went had the best, most knowledgeable salesman I've ever had for anything. He would pull shirt/tie combinations that had me thinking, "This man is insane," and then, when everything was arranged with the suit, "like a damn genius!" But one can never be too sure, so I recruited my ex and her step-mom (conveniently in town for the holiday), who extra-graciously joined me for the final decision. But 'ol Jack didn't mind. It was like we'd gone over to his house to talk suits, and he was happy to have us. It didn't hurt that he had the best selection of suits around, but that, friends, is how you make a sale.
Best comment I've seen in a while:
I go out Friday night and neck with boys less queer than John Derbyshire.
This is no surprise.
Two ingredients [dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine] commonly used in cough syrup are no better than sugar water in suppressing night-time coughing in children, according to a study published Tuesday.
I've never had any luck with cough syrup, but I have found something that works pretty reliably--to help me sleep with a cough, anyway: a nice scotch just before bed, and lying with my torso a bit elevated. (Yes, the scotch has to be "nice." If you can't tell, invite me over and I'll help.)
There's a lot of weird stuff on the web, but John Derbyshire, with this latest, just plain flummoxes me: I can't imagine three things: 1) why this occured to him 2) why he ranked them as he did 3) why he shared.
Isn't there a trend here? For each of the following ten pairs, identify the prettier one.
G.W. Bush, Cheney
G.H.W. Bush, Quayle
Reagan, G.H.W. Bush
Coding P, V, or T as the prettier (Prez, Veep, or Tie), I make it V-T-P-V-V-V-P-P-V-V. Seems to me there is a definite bias towards looks in the selection of veeps.
How do you decide whether Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale is "prettier?" Who thinks that way? And how do you call GW Bush and Dick Cheney a "tie" on the pretty scale? What the fuck?
But as long as we're on the topic, I'd love to see him decide the hypothetical Ferraro-Edwards matchup.
The Rice-replaces-Cheney scenario [scroll down] is interesting. I've already called Rice a "moron," (to much loving response from the blogosphere) and I agree with Ted's criticisms of her, but she'd yet be a provocative choice. I'm the kind of bad liberal who knew O.J. was guilty as sin and still wanted to see him acquitted--I know I'm not alone, and Rice would hit us where it hurts. Yeah, that black woman thing, and she has enough apparent competence that she'd be very difficult to attack. Ted's right when he writes
Not exactly inarticulate or wooden, but... maybe it's that 'firmness' fetish shared by so many in the administration.
But that's not exactly a soundbite, is it?
Karl Rove would love to put either John McCain or Takeru Kobayashi on the ticket with Bush. What's unclear is how Cheney could gracefully be eased off. Maybe a health problem -- but how to go back on all the assurances Bushco has been giving us on Cheney's hearty heart? Here it is: Jane Mayer reports in The New Yorker that the physician who certified Cheney's cardiac fitness in 2000 is and has for a while been an abuser of narcotics:
According to pharmacy records and customer invoices, in July, 2000, for example, the month that Malakoff wrote the letter certifying Cheney's good health, he purchased thirty bottles of a synthetic narcotic nasal spray called Stadol from two mail-order drug-supply companies. Stadol, which can be addictive, is ordinarily used to treat migraine headaches. Each bottle contains an estimated fifteen doses. In the previous two months, he had bought eighteen bottles. In August, he bought twenty-eight more bottles. During the two-and-half-year period ending in December, 2001, Malakoff spent at least $46,238 online on Stadol and such medications as Xanax, Tylenol with codeine, and Ambien.
(Heard about on Air America Radio.)
A few quick thoughts on the John Edwards pick.
1. I'm a John Edwards fan primarily because he ran on what was really a social justice message, and made it resonate with voters. Contrary to perceptions of the "golden boy," the best thing about Edwards were his ideas, and I'm very happy they'll be a part of this campaign.
2. Looking around comments on other blogs, I'm disappointed to see that lefties still haven't learned not to raise expectations, particularly for debates. The more we say "Edwards will cut Cheney to bits," the harder it will be for Edwards to look good. Cut it out.
3. The Republicans are going to go after Edwards hard. Something tells me this might be the campaign where Americans have to make the Schwarzenegger / Jack Ryan choice: see past the mud, or wallow in it. Here's hoping.
John Ritter John Edwards. Fine. He's articulate and plausibly populist (the way you get to be if you're a Southerner), and he's unlikely to step on Kerry's toes very much. Now, finally, we can get on with an actual campaign.
Who says athletes don't make good role models? This guy, 132-pound Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi, ate 53.5 hotdogs in this year's annual 4th of July Nathan's Famous hotdog-eating contest at Coney Island, breaking the world record he set two years ago.
True, Kobayashi's win in last year's contest was marred by controversy, but his unambiguous victory this year should quell all doubts. This Japanese man is a true American hero.
Japanese Noboyuki Shirota came in second with 38 dogs, and American Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas came in third (and set the women's record) with 32.
Tim Noah notes that after just two columns, Barbara Ehrenreich might be the Times's best opinion writer. Then Noah says we should draft her for a permanent spot (chucking Dowd or Herbert). Right on the observation, wrong on the solution. Ehrenreich's guest stint is just more evidence that what the Times needs is to rotate their opinion writers, so that smart people like Ehrenreich can make their voices heard without ossifying after being granted indefinite tenure.
The universal colloquial term for synthetic, fuzzy, warm outer layers like this one seems to be "fleece." Ok. So, is there a term for synthetic, wicking, exercise shirts, like this one? I vote for "wicking shirt," but that's not very catchy, and if there's already a term, I'd like to hear it.
Hey, Leon, women really and truly aren't "more monogamous" than men.
A nice follow-up, ten years along, to the story of William Gates and Arthur Agee, of Hoop Dreams. A reminder that they really are interesting people, that it is almost impossible to get out of the projects completely, and then, sorry to say, this astonishing bit of self-deception from Agee about his four children.
"They weren't planned kids, that's why I know they're here for a reason," he said. "They're here to teach me a lesson about responsibility."
I can see what I would like to think he's trying to say: they weren't planned, but my filial attachment to them is nevertheless so strong that it's helped me gain a genuine understanding of responsiblity. But I'm not keen to pick on Agee; just note that even when he reproduces, he doesn't feel as if he's the agent of action. One of Earl Shorris's main theses, and his motivation for teaching humanities to poor-inner city residents, is that they don't feel a sense of control over their own lives (overwhelmed by what Shorris calls--a bit too Foucauldianly--a "surround of force"). When a guy has kids and thinks some other force is responsible (indeed, that some other force is trying to teach him about responsibility), I guess we can say that's one for Shorris.
(I know, everyone's been beating up on the poor guy lately, but it's hard to resist.)
It could be that in a month, Allawi and Bush will have to unleash U.S. forces [against Iraqi insurgents]. Still, stepping back, two things are obvious. This administration can adapt, and stick to a winning strategy once it finds it. Second, the Iraqis really do have a galvanizing hunger for democracy.
Actually, it's sort of true: there's no good evidence that the Bushies can't stick to a good Iraq strategy, once they find it. Also no good evidence that once parrots start flying out of my ass, they won't speak Portugese.