Welcome to the blogroll, Mad Kane.
No More Apples
"Adam ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's a shame we ran out of apples." -- The Sage.
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
"Reality has a liberal bias." -- Stephen Colbert
We are proud members of the resistance.
Saturday, March 5
DID U.S. SOLDIERS TARGET ITALIAN JOURNALIST?
Please tell me this isn't true. US attack against Italians in Baghdad was deliberate: companion
"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.
"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."
The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.
"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.
When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.
MEET DR. WHITEHURST
BuzzFlash features an article by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst taking on the NYTimes's coverage of the Bush White House.
Dr. Whitehurst is a personal favorite of mine -- check out the link to "Jesus On The Family" in my blogroll. That's Dr. T.
"WHAT'S MISSING FROM NEWS IS THE NEWS"
Outstanding piece by Frank Rich today in the NYTimes.
TWO weeks ago Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide. Next week Dan Rather commits ritual suicide, leaving the anchor chair at CBS prematurely as penance for his toxic National Guard story. The two journalists shared little but an abiding distaste - make that hatred in Thompson's case - for the Great Satan of 20th-century American politics, Richard Nixon. The best work of both was long behind them. Yet memories of that best work - not to mention the coincidental timing of their departures - only accentuate the vacuum in that cultural category we stubbornly insist on calling News.
What's missing from News is the news.
Rich makes one glaring error when he writes, "bloggers were on the campaign payrolls of both a Republican office-seeker (South Dakota's Senator John Thune) and a Democrat (Howard Dean) during last year's campaign" without explaining how very different were the two cases. Markos Moulitsas (of Daily KOS fame) and Jerome (MyDD) Armstrong did work for a time as consultants for the Dean campaign, which Kos clearly disclosed on his web site; as for Jerome, he completely shut down his blog during that time period. In contrast, the Thune bloggers never disclosed their association with the campaign and represented themselves as independent.
I'LL BET BTK VOTES REPUBLICAN
The case of Dennis Rader, the alleged BTK killer, is creepy on several levels. But this article today in the NY Times centers on what bothers me most: the fact that he was a stickler for rules, all rules, any rules, and woe to anyone subject to his "reign of terror" as a compliance officer. Righteous, churchgoing man that he was, he nonetheless had a little hobby of torturing and strangling to death the occasional neighbor.
It's always seemed to me that a little rebellion against and laxity about "the rules" is a sign of good mental and emotional health. We're human beings, after all, endowed with a will of our own, and we like to establish our own boundaries and make our own choices within reason. I've always thought an obsession with enforcing "the rules" has usually been evidence of a poor self-image, an innate streak of cruelty, or both. It's a totalitarian kind of hall-monitor mindset that loves to flaunt its authority.
You see where I'm going with this. In my book, Repug leaders like Tom Delay and Denny Hastert, with their bullying tactics and disdain for the common people, are in that class of undesirables. They can't keep their noses out of other people's bedrooms and living rooms. They want to dictate what we can read, hear and watch. They think the U.S.A. has a right to intimidate, invade, or otherwise push around other sovereign nations. They have little or no compassion for the weak or failed, unless you're one of their own inner circle. The ex-drug addict can't get a job, but the "born again" Republican politico can be forgiven anything. Like BTK, they creep me out. And I just don't see why more Americans don't feel the same.
Italian journalist and newly-freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena tells her side of the story about the shooting by U.S. troops:
The soldiers fired because the driver approached a checkpoint "at a high rate of speed," according to a U.S. military statement Friday.
Sgrena, however, told Italian prosecutors on Saturday that there was no checkpoint, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
"It was not a checkpoint, but a patrol that fired after having shone a floodlight at us," she told ANSA.
Sgrena also disputed that the car was speeding.
The U.S. military did not describe the nature of what it called a checkpoint, such as whether it was marked or well lighted. An American spokesman in Baghdad said he had no further information.
When stopping a car or investigating a possible bomb, U.S. patrols often set up makeshift checkpoints by parking Humvees in the middle of a darkened highway and treating any vehicle approaching as hostile. Iraqi drivers sometimes don't realize they are upon an American position until it is too late. Dozens and perhaps hundreds of Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last two years after failing to stop while approaching military convoys or checkpoints, including at least nine in the last two months, according to news reports and U.S. military statements.
I had not read this about the "checkpoints" before. Couldn't we at least provide these guys with a lightweight, clearly visible warning sign that they could keep in the Humvee and post when necessary? If so many civilians have been killed over the past two years, how is it that someone hasn't tried to find a solution? But I guess it's akin to not providing proper armor. If we don't care about our own guys, why should we care about Iraqis?
I can't imagine how our soldiers must feel after they discover they've killed innocent civilians. Not to mention, of course, how the families of the dead feel. "Winning hearts and minds," indeed.
THE POWER OF THE INTERNET DISPLAYED
This is a most amazing and poignant story, and certainly highly relevant to our time.
HOW DARE YOU USE THE HITLER ANALOGY IF YOU'RE NOT REPUBLICAN?
Surprisingly, with all the flack from the right about Sen. Robert Byrd's (D-WV) remarks comparing the Republicans' threatened end to the filibuster to Hitler, it's Wonkette who quotes prominent Repugs' own past Hitler/Nazi comparison quotes. According to Ken Mehlman, the Anti-Defamation League, and wingnut radio, "Senator Byrd's invocation of Hitler's Germany ... is reprehensible and beyond the pale."
You may have heard the rumblings from the right about Senator Robert Byrd's not-that-helpful historical analogy vis-a-vis the Senate Republicans' threat to disallow filibusters and, uhm, Hitler. Byrd, who is old and scary, said that "Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."
You can tell he's old because he still thinks "Hitler" accusations are "cool" or "with it." They are so last year. Last administration, even!
For example (from the Congressional Record):
"Now, forgive me, but that is right out of Nazi Germany. I don't understand...why all of a sudden we are passing laws that sound as if they are right out of Nazi Germany."
-Sen. Gramm, R-TX, September 5, 2002 (speaking in opposition to a Democratic tax plan)
"That, Mr. Speaker, is a modern-day equivalent of the Nazi prison guard saying 'I was just following orders.' It was all legal in Nazi Germany at the time."
-Rep. King, R-IA, September 8, 2004 (speaking in opposition to a legal ruling on abortion)
"We certainly have all seen the rejections of Nazi Germany's abuses of science. As a society and a nation, there ought to be some limit on what we can allow or should allow."
-Sen. Sessions R-AL, October 11, 2004 (speaking in opposition to stem cell research)
"He also said that imposition of the Kyoto Protocol 'would deal a powerful blow on the whole humanity similar to the one humanity experienced when Nazism and communism flourished.' And that was the chief economic advisor to Russian President Putin. The world has certainly turned on its head that we Americans must look to Russians for speaking out strongly against irrational authoritarian ideologies."
-Sen. Inhofe, R-OK, October 11, 2004 (speaking in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol)
In other word, IOIYAR (it's okay if you're a Republican).
Thanks to Public Christian, here's a neat message from Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's fame) using stacks of Oreo cookies as an illustration of Bush's budget priorities.
FOOL ME TWICE
Barbara of Mahablog has a must-read post about the despicable bankruptcy bill and how it will affect middle America.
Joe Biden, last week on Meet The Press you indicated you'd be exploring the possibility of running for POTUS in 2008, but your position on this bill is prima facie evidence where your true allegiance lies. Vote for this bill and your chances of getting the nomination are nil. It's clearly a sellout to the credit card companies and other corporate interests and has no benefits whatever to ordinary Americans. Any Democrat who votes in favor is anathema.
UPDATE: The inimitable Molly Ivins, as usual, goes straight to the heart of the matter:
So, who are these feckless, irresponsible moochers using bankruptcy to avoid paying legitimate debts? Why, look at this: The New York Times reports "legal specialists say the proposed law leaves open an increasingly popular loophole that lets wealthy people protect substantial assets from creditors even after filing for bankruptcy."
What, our Republican Congress passing a bill that favors rich people at the expense of "honest Americans who play by the rules and have to foot the bill"? If you have a lot of money (most people filing for bankruptcy don't have this problem), you just put it in an asset protection trust and walk away. You don't even have to set up the trust offshore anymore -- five states have made it legal to set them up in their borders, and you don't even have to live in any of the five to do it.
If you don't like that feature of the bankruptcy bill, try this one: You may have read of the hardship on the families of those who have been called to fight in Iraq, including, of course, severe financial stress leading to many bankruptcies. Democrats in the Senate tried to put an amendment on this bill exempting military personnel, and the Republicans voted it down.
Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor, pointed out in testimony before Congress that the bill assumes everyone is in bankruptcy because they're spendthrifts. "A family driven to bankruptcy by the increased cost of caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer's disease is treated the same as someone who maxed out his credit cards at a casino. A person who had a heart attack is treated the same as someone who had a spending spree at the shopping mall. A mother who works two jobs and who cannot manage the prescription drugs needed for a child with diabetes is treated the same as someone who charged a bunch of credit cards with only a vague intent to repay."
But hey, that's the conservative idea of justice -- treat 'em all the same, except for the rich.
STICKS AND STONES
VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE
Welcome to my blogroll, Veterans for Common Sense.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
From a prayer service for Judge Joan Lefkow's slain husband and mother:
"Deliver the souls of your servants from the power of evil," the people in the church prayed.
They turned to the 70th Psalm.
"Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor…"
They read "Ministrations at the Time of Death," the basic text for a funeral service.
"From all evil, from all sin, from all tribulation ..."
"Good Lord, deliver them."
And then they turned to a final prayer, a prayer that sounded as though it had been written in memory of Michael Lefkow and Mrs. Humphrey.
"Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; Give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake."
Hat tip to First Draft.
NO, THE ENDS DON'T JUSTIFY THE MEANS
The antidote to the cacophony of "Wow, Bush was right, see all the signs in the Middle East that democracy is on the march?" celebrations:
To neoconservatives, therefore, truth is not a value in its own right. To them, information must be culled for useful kernels, facts that can then be exploited to create an emotional response within the target audience. Once this desired political climate – manufactured consent, if you will – is created, the neoconservatives are free to promote an aggressive policy to achieve their policy goals.
As the operation advances, secrecy becomes a crucial factor, with the need to keep the dark underbelly of the project outside the view of the American public. When unpleasant facts do come to light, the neoconservatives count on their allies in the elite opinion circles to contain the damage.
Later, if a positive outcome can be claimed, the neoconservatives dismiss any ugly realities as a small price to pay for the success. The American people and their political representatives are urged to look forward, not to re-fight the old battles of the past.
JESUS WOULDN'T BE A REPUBLICAN
Amy Sullivan addresses one of my own personal pet peeves:
Yes, because Lord knows "religious voters" couldn't possibly agree with any Democratic core positions. Good grief. You've heard me say it before, but apparently it needs repeating: A good many people are Democrats not despite their faith but precisely because of their faith. I don't want to read "religious" when what you mean is "right-wing." I don't want to read "evangelical" when what you mean is "conservative evangelical." And I don't want to read "moral values" when what you're really referring to are hot-button, right-wing sexual morality issues. The conflation of those terms with those specific definitions is NOT a neutral decision; it's part of a very conscious strategy. It's understandable that some news outlets have been taken in by the spin. Repeating the spin, however, is irresponsible.
NEW S.S. PRIVATIZATION CALCULATOR
US Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senate Leaders Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Debbie Stabenow today unveiled a new Social Security calculator that demonstrates to Americans what they could lose under the Bush Privatization Plan.
I lose about $900. But my 25-year-old daughter loses about 30%. I don't know what assumptions are being used here, but the one constant in these kinds of "calculators" seems to be that you make the same annual salary for your entire life. That's ridiculous, but since the Bush administration uses the same assumption in the calculations for its own semi-non-existent "plan," I suppose it's an apples-to-apples kind of thing.
Friday, March 4
"ARE WE SERIOUS ABOUT ARAB DEMOCRACY?"
An interesting column in Time: Are We Serious About Arab Democracy? "Iraq shows Arabs desperately want the vote. It also shows that when they get it, they'll choose governments less friendly to the U.S. than those currently in power."
It provokes more questions about whether the Bush administration, and the neo-con agenda, is reality-based.
CANADA'S AXWORTHY ADVISES KINDA-SLEAZY
Oh wow, this is priceless. A former Canadian foreign minister rakes Condi and her "husband" over the coals:
As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.
Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.
Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny.
You've simply got to read the whole thing.
IS EASON JORDAN REGRETTING RESIGNING FROM CNN?
Oh, THIS is going to play well in the international press. Yet another example of U.S. troops in Iraq firing on a journalist. And this time, it was a freshly-freed HOSTAGE. God help us.
The more this happens, the more likely it seems that Eason Jordan's resignation was premature or unnecessary.
UPDATE: More on the issue here:
In this atmosphere, it was inevitable that there were incidents involving journalists. Ask ITN in London what happened to the late Terry Lloyd and his team, who were driving in a clearly marked TV vehicle shot up by U.S. soldiers, who at first denied it. ITN officials said they "got nowhere" with military officials when they tried to investigate the facts surrounding the incident. How bad was it? Ask BBC veteran John Simpson, who, accompanied by a military liaison, was nearly bombed into the next world by a U.S. jet in the North of Iraq, even when the military knew they were there. Two of his colleagues were killed.
In an article by Tim Gopsill of Britain's National Union of Journalists, Mr. Simpson is quoted from the book "Tell Me Lies," edited by David Miller: "The independent journalists are upholding a great tradition, but my goodness they are taking a hammering. The system that allows this to happen, even encourages this to happen, is stupid and despicable."
Adds Nik Gowing of BBC World: "The trouble is that a lot of the military-particularly the American military-do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work. And I think that this is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity."
BACK TO THE FUTURE
I've been suffering blogger withdrawal since the past weekend. I was in the field on a film project, and had no Internet access since I fried my Apple G3 laptop Sunday night. HOWEVER, I am as of today the proud owner of a new G4 laptop with 17" monitor and will resume posting immediately after I get home tonight. Yes, it's a very heavy laptop to lug around, but I don't do that much lugging: it usually sits on my lap while I'm sitting with the fam as they watch TV. And the larger monitor and keyboard are worth the weight to me.
Anyway, I can't wait to catch up on what's been happening in the world and throw my two cents in when my outrage reaches a certain level. You know, when I was a young thing and horrified by the Vietnam War and the status of civil rights in our nation, at some point I recognized that my mental and emotional health were suffering, and I quit reading newspapers and news magazines. It's occurred to me more than once over the past almost-two-years that I'd probably be a much happier person if I would turn off the computer and cable news channels. I thought shortly before the 2004 presidential election that I would most likely close down this blog after the inauguration of John Kerry. But that event didn't take place, the outrages of the Bush administration and the Republican Party continue even more intensely, and I can't seem to turn the other way.
So for at least the foreseeable future, at least, I'm back. Hope that's OK with you.
Sunday, February 27
BUSH'S SOUL-METER NEEDS MAINTENANCE WORK
So. In answer to Friedman's question today on Press The Meat, "What have we gotten for the slack that Bush has cut Putin over the past four years?" comes the answer: Putin signs nuclear deal with Iran today.
Three days after Bush thought he and his buddy Vladimir Putin saw eye-to-eye on the issue of assisting Iran in its nuclear program, Pooty-Poot signed an agreement to assist Iran in its nuclear program.
It reminds me of the famous quote of Dean Rusk about the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis: "We were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other guy just blinked." For today, switch the nationalities of the eyeballs.
DICK ARMEY IS A LYING FOOL, BUT OUR YOUTH ARE NOT THAT GULLIBLE
Ex-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is advocating phasing out Social Security rather than saving it. And he sounds like a lying idiot while doing it.
"If it is such a great deal, why does the government have to make it mandatory," he said.
Well, once again a prominent Republican is defining Social Security as a means to personal savings, which it is not. Social Security is a tax, the revenues of which are dedicated to providing retirement and disability security for all Americans. As a tax it is of course mandatory. "Social Security is not a savings plan in which everyone gets back exactly what he or she paid in. Since its creation during the Great Depression, Social Security has been a crucial safety net for senior citizens who have outlived their savings."
He added there will never be a class of destitute Americans who neglected to do their own investing.
Where did he get his crystal ball? How can he dare to make such a ridiculous statement? What planet, with what history, does he live on?
"That argument might make sense in terms of a Social Security that gave a good return," he said, adding the government takes 15 percent of Americans' income in the Social Security tax. "And then they have the audacity to complain that we working men and women don't save enough."
WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT? Only 6.2% of any American's wages are withheld for Social Security (employers pay the other 6.2%). The amount of 15% is ONLY for the self-employed, on up to $90,000 income. He's either a freaking liar or an uninformed idiot (I suggest both). And he's a former HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER!
Armey called Social Security the foundation stone of Democrats' New Deal and Great Society philosophies.
And this, of course, is the crux of the Republican motivation to destroy Social Security, the desire to remove the most successful and popular government program in American history from the Democratic resume.
A voice from America's youth makes some telling points about the attitudes of our young people, whom Bush is targeting with his "privatization" message:
Free-market policies and anti-government rhetoric have bred a New Economy that we know full well -- and firsthand -- means less security and more risk, whether you like it or not. Less than half of my generation has health benefits at work, and those lucky enough to get retirement benefits contribute to 401(k)s that, unlike defined-benefit plans, make no guarantees in return. We're right to be doubtful about the future of a social insurance program in the go-it-alone America we've inherited.
Of course, the reality of the Bush administration's privatization proposal is much less comforting, and if the whole truth were told, our support would undoubtedly dry up. When the reality of private accounts was explained to young adults in a new Rock the Vote/AARP poll, young respondents rejected them outright. We didn't want the guaranteed benefit to be cut for anyone -- as it would be, by as much as 40 percent for the average earner, under the administration plan, according to the Center for Economic Policy Research.
Those young survey respondents' reluctance to actually deliver the death knell to Social Security is a telling reflection of our generation's moral values (and, yes, we have them, too). The children of the New Economy have responded to the economic disparity and social insecurities in our schools, neighborhoods and workplaces with a backlash against government-bashing.
According to a 2002 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, to a greater degree than any other age group, most Americans 18 to 29 years old -- 69 percent of us -- want bigger government with more services, and 63 percent believe that government ought to do everything possible to improve the standard of living for all Americans.
FLIRTING WITH FASCISM
David Neiwert continues to write thought-provoking and informative essays on the rise of fascism in America. David is no knee-jerk alarmist, but puts today's movement conservatives in historical context. Today's installment points out the dangers Republican leaders are flirting with. As with the German elite pre-Hitler's rise to preeminent power, they're under the impression that they can use and encourage movement conservatives for their own ends. But as history tells us, it's tough to put the genie back into the bottle after he's granted the three wishes.
What all of them miss, importantly, is the role of movement leaders -- particularly Bush, Cheney, Karl Rove, and the neocons -- in encouraging these proto-fascist traits. There is no evidence that they're doing so because they themselves are actually proto-fascists; rather, I think it remains clear that these people are pro-corporate crony capitalists, and the evidence strongly suggests that they're indulging this style of politics for the sake of shoring up their numbers and securing their political base. The strongest evidence for this is the ongoing minuet the Bush administration dances with the neo-Confederate faction that now rules the South.
In other words, "movement conservatives" are being molded into a mindset that increasingly resembles classic fascism, but it's being done by leaders who mostly find this mindset convenient and readily manipulable. Unfortunately, the history of fascism is such that the arrogant corporatist belief that they contain these forces is not well grounded.
What's important to understand is the real dynamic: A growing populist "movement" is being encouraged increasingly to adopt attitudes that, taken together, become increasingly fascist. Greater numbers of individuals are being conditioned to think alike, and more importantly, to accept an increasingly vicious response to dissent. This does not mean that genuine fascism has arrived as a real political force in America; but it does mean the groundwork is being created for just such a nightmare, by irresponsible politicians tapping into terrible forces beyond their ability to control.
If even "paleo-conservatives" can see this, there's hope of stopping it. But I think we need to begin with a clear understanding of who, what, and why the fascists are.
The latent fascists who are the biggest problem right now are not Republican leaders. It is their oxyconned, Foxcized, Freeped-out, fanatic army of followers, comprising ordinary people, who pose the long-term problem. Drawing them back from the abyss is the real challenge that confronts us.
THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY PLAYBOOK
The "Frank Lutz playbook" to be found at Political Strategy is a fascinating insight into Republican marketing strategies. PS takes it a few pages at a time so as not to overwhelm. It's a must read for Democratic activists and ordinary progressives who just want to be informed and thus prepared to counter Republican spin. After all, "forewarned is forearmed."
MEET THE PRESS
Some nuggets from the Meet The Press roundtable.
On Bush's European trip:
William Safire -- "Deeply dismayed" that Bush "wimped out" when face-to-face with Putin, the "man who has done more than anyone else to halt the extension of freedom."
MoDo -- Bush may have learned the lesson of the "evil of lesser evilism." Thought he could use Putin (the lesser evil) to help with the Middle East and terrorists (the greater evil) but he may now be seeing that Russia is still, or again, part of the "axis of evil."
Tom Friedman -- Given the slack that Bush has cut Putin for four years now, he doesn't have much to show for it. He's continuing to sell arms to Syria, nuclear materiel to Iran, etc. How has this attitude helped American interests? Not clear that it has.
Russert: There's been lots more elections in the Middle East. Is something going on because of what's happened in Iraq?
Safire -- I'm a big believer in the rightness of the cause of going into Iraq and changing the regime. The noble motive of changing the whole dynamic in M.E. seems to be working. It's catching on. Laundry list of elections. Bush started it all with Iraq.
MoDo -- It's so 20th century to go to war because you have to, now we go because we want to. Are we in an ends justifies the means trap? Putin can also say about us some of the things we say about him. It's a Pandora's box, good spirits and evil spirits. I'm old-fashioned, I still believe you have to tell the American people the truth before you go to war.
Friedman -- We're at a major tipping point. Major things have happened in the M.E. but not necessary things. It could be a teeter totter, could tip back. Can Shiites share power is a key question. It's going to take lots of babysitting and involvement on our part. I never was with the WMD thing, I always thought this was a battle of ideas to change the M.E., and the administration should have been honest about that.
Russert: Should Bush be reaching out to Europe now?
MoDo -- Well, the whole trip was an attempt to reach out. But it's hard to have a "charm offensive" when your message is "We blew everything up, we were right you were wrong, but now we'll allow you to help us get out of this mess."
All agreed that Hillary Clinton is smart to be taking the Middle East initiative (now that we're there) seriously and openly backing it.
Safire doesn't agree that the administration didn't tell the truth before the war. He thought they DID tell the truth about what they knew about WMD.
Russert: Who might run for president in 2008?
Safire -- McCain (says McC weak because of privacy issues) and Condi Rice.
Friedman -- Iraq is not over for Bush administration, but it's too important to leave to Repugs alone, Dems should be participating with their ideas and trying to shape it. If they sulk on the side that's dumb. Iran will be an issue in 2008.
Safire -- Some of this (N. Korea, Iran) has been just beating on our highchair with a spoon.
BUSH LIES AND PEOPLE DIE...THIS TIME FROM AIDS
Not content to merely use "bad science" to promote its policies, the Bush administration is actively lying about the results of legitimate research into the efficacy of needle-exchange programs in reducing the incidence of AIDS.
Respecting science does not appear to be the administration's priority, however. Not only is it refusing to spend federal dollars on needle exchange, but the administration also is waging a campaign to persuade the United Nations to toe its misguided line. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, which is heavily reliant on U.S. funding, has been made to expunge references to needle exchange from its literature, and the administration is expected to continue its pressure on the United Nations at a meeting that starts March 7. The State Department's new leadership needs to end this bullying flat-earthism. It won't help President Bush's current effort to relaunch his image among allies. And it's almost certain to kill people.
THE BUSH VERSION OF DEMOCRACY
Mo Dowd files one of her better columns today, this one inspired by the Bush-Putin meeting last week.