the talking dog

 

AUGUST 2002 POSTINGS

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August 31, 2002, East Hampton, NY.  Well, another bad day for the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, as a gunman kills 3, including 2 Americans, near a copper mine in Indonesian New Guinea.

We're sorry to hear about the loss of musical great Lionel Hampton as well, at age 94.

And in the "you're never REALLY sure about your well thought out position department", we have the Clintons telling us to "go easy" on possible Iraq invasion.  I guess if a unilateral attack on a foreign nation DOES NOT involve deflection of criticism from lying under oath about workplace sex, then we'd better be CAREFUL about it.  Well, I'm on record vis a vis the current Iraq war plans; the Clintons, as always, are making me bite my tongue...

Finally, for some of our readers (notably Unqualified Offerings and Mrs. TD) who are in any way offended about yesterday's post vis a vis Jackie Mason and Ray Hanania (and for the record, for those who believe your TD's barrage of bad jokes was "bigoted and unfunny", all I can say is that you left out mean-spirited and crass -- and by the way, the line about the Gaza strip WAS INCREDIBLY FUNNY), let me just offer the following:  Jackie's record as a racist and bigot, and more importantly, a JERK goes back a long way, be it making fun of Ed Sullivan, or referring to ex-mayor David Dinkins as a "fancy schwarze with a moustache".  My criticism of Jackie regarding THIS incident has little to do with whether or not I consider him a bigot; his record is not only clear, he has resurrected his career on this basis.  That's the free market of ideas -- be it for him, or for a certain talking dog.

MY criticism of Jackie is that his dismissive treatment (sending out his manager/wife to wimp out, and then LATER to say that the concern was Hanania's lack of experience) is UNPROFESSIONAL.  In your TD's book, that is the most damning criticism I can level (especially for the likes of Jackie Mason, who the odds predict is infinitely more rich and famous than your TD will ever be).  Had Jackie delivered the monologue I offered, he would have been considered, perhaps a bit offensive and insensitive (Don Rickles anyone?), but this event would have gone unnoticed, except perhaps for the laughs and/or groans of his audience.  Instead, we literally get an international incident.

Similarly, Mr. Hanania is not JUST a Palestinian American -- he too is a fascinating case study, as shown by this and in this example of his writings demonstrating that this ain't no babe in the woods.  Among other things, I PARTICULARLY like this screed by funnyman Ray:

In addition to its policy of murdering anyone it does not like, Israel's Nazi-like government is also engaged in a policy of murdering the truth, too.  And, they are very good at it.  You can't get away with a lie unless you have two things in place:  First, you have to impose controls on the media in the area of the conflict, which Israel has done by banning reporters from covering areas where its soldiers are on a blitzkrieg-like rampage, shooting civilians.  Second, you need to have a news media that doesn't care about the truth, which is the dominant attitude of the mainstream American news media.  People like MSNBC's Alan Keyes, for example, who asserts that "there is no occupation" in Palestine, and a list of commentators who enjoy the gratuity of the Israeli lobby like NPR's Linda Gradstein.  (Both Gradstein and Keyes are making more "cents" than sense these days.)  With these two factors in place, the Government of Israel can say whatever it wishes, and it is reported like fact.  And, each lie adds to the impact of the subsequent lie.  For example, the Israeli Government is asserting that "Palestinian gunmen" have "occupied" the Church of the Nativity.  The truth is that Palestinians who are resisting Israel's assault have taken refuge in the Church of the Nativity and nearly every other building in the region. But the Israeli point is to touch a nerve with Christian Americans, who are so naive about the reality of the Middle East they will swallow anything they are fed.

So Ray, Jackie would have been more than justified to tell you to go to hell, just for that article; a Google search of the rest of your writings shows a wide variety of views:  that, in some cases, some people (like Jackie, or the 75 year old Jews that typify his fans) might not appreciate.  Contrary to what you would like us all to believe, you are NOT what I would consider to be a more typical Palestinian-American (or for that matter, anyone of Arab-American descent), i.e., someone who just wants to be left alone!

Unfortunately, we can probably conclude that since Mason's announcement did not mention that Ray was arguably an apologist for terrorists, we can conclude that this was not why he canned Ray, and as noted above, I think that's probably right: most likely, Jackie is a jerk who canned Ray out of pure bigotry, and that's too bad.  Because Ray deserved better.  By my book, at least two minutes worth better.

 

August 30, 2002, New York, New York.  Wow.  In the world of missed opportunities, what can I say about Jackie Mason's stupid, bigoted decision not to let Ray Hanania open for him in Chicago because Ray is a PALESTINIAN-American.

Your TD confesses that he sort of respected Jackie M.'s work (particularly as the voice of the Aardvark on the companion cartoon to The Pink Panther), but now, as far as I'm concerned, Mason can go on the entertainment scrap-heap with Zsa Zsa (she thrust herself onto the scrap heap after making fun of handicapped members of an audience in Philadelphia).

Worst of all, Mason missed a fabulous opportunity, one which your TD WILL NOT WASTE.  THIS (or something like it) IS THE ACT JACKIE MASON SHOULD HAVE PUT ON IN CHICAGO:

Ladies and gentlemen, Ray Hanania.  It does me good to see that there is hope for the world that I, a big Jew, can have Ray, of Palestinian descent, open for me.  Ray, come here, let me give you a big hug.  Whheeeww.  Thank God, ladies and gentlemen, he's clean!  Ray, I usually don't say this to my opening acts, but Allah be praised that you DID NOT BOMB on stage tonight!

 

Hey -- you at that table -- don't all of you know its Haraam to drink -- and those pork rinds -- don't get me started!  But I will hold off on issuing a fatwa against you all if you tip the infidel waiters generously!  And don't think you can hide behind that burqa -- we know who you are!

 

Ray -- how about that Yasir Arafat -- what, with the 1.4 billion dollars.  My regrets to Prime Minister Sharon, but with that kind of money, this guy is not irrelevant!  He REALLY DID have a nickel for every time someone called him a terrorist!  And what's with that thing on his head?  He couldn't pick a better restaurant than PIZZA HUT to steal his shmatta from?  With all your money, Yasir, you could BUY SOMETHING NICE for your head!  And what's with the beard?  Either grow it out, or shave it.  With $1.4 billion, the man can afford a barber!  Am I right, ladies and gentlemen?  I mean, the Ringo look looks good on Ringo, and Ringo is a friend of mine.  Yasir Arafat, you're NO Ringo Starr.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, Ray is a NATURAL for this business.  He's the only guy I know to work the Vegas Strip, the Sunset Strip, AND the Gaza Strip!  So, what's with Saddam Hussein? I hear he's a gas!

 

And Ray, what's this I've been seeing with those horrible pictures of little Palestinian kids with bombs strapped on.  I saw one, the kid's shirt said "Mom and Dad went to Jenin and all they brought me was this lousy exploding belt!".  I mean, with parents like that, does the kid have a chance?  I say we accuse those parents of collaborating with the Zionist entity!

Well, Ray, I know you want to go back stage and wash the camel shit off yourself, and make plans to blow up my synagogue, so let's give him a big hand!  Ray Hanania, folks, he'll be here all week except for Friday and Ramadan!

August 29, 2002 , New York, New York.  Well, through the magic of the Internet, your TD need no longer spend painful hours each evening wading through the frustrating stream of MS Frontpage...now I can dump that on someone else (who can deal with this via an expensive connection overseas!  I owe you lunch, big guy -- and The Raving Atheist -- let's just say he owes you ANOTHER trip!)  And as for what I owe temporary "sort of on vacation site" Unqualified Offerings, well, UO will just have to let me know!  (By the way, somewhere on UO are many of your TD's musings of the week...)

Your TD listened to an AMAZING array of reports on the radio this morning, on a combination of a "classic rock station", and the local affiliates of CBS and National Palestine Radio (NPR).  The classic rock station made fun of the plaintiff in a case from Reno, Nevada, whereby the plaintiff Derek Henkle alleged he was harassed and/or hazed in high school for being gay, and school officials did nothing about it other than to blame him (the station, of course, played an interview with an effeminate sounding young man, whom they proceeded to CONTINUE mocking!)

This mocking by radio personalities immediately brought thoughts of the St. Patrick's Cathedral incident, where, aside from the two CONSENTING ADULTS being arrested (and probably facing real jail time), resulted in pretty much the sacking of an entire radio show (and suspension of many of the station's staff) and, OF COURSE, the intervention of FCC Chairman Michael Powell (yes, he is Colin's son) to bayonet the bodies in the name of the President's "base".

Note what Cardinal Egan's Church seems to be all upset about:  consenting adults (who hurt NO ONE) "defiling" its HOLY PREMISES.  Imagine if the Church brought 1% -- just 1% -- of the vehemence it has shown in the case of "defiling" its BUILDING, to bear against those miscreants responsible for destroying countless lives THROUGH RAPING CHILDREN, and ESPECIALLY holding those in the Church hierarchy to account (yes, Cardinal Law shouldn't still be a priest, let alone a cardinal, and YES, serious consideration should be undertaken as to whether CRIMINAL CHARGES should be brought against the "see no evil when it’s done by priests" Church hierarchy; you know: criminal facilitation, accessory after the fact-- that sort of thing).  Much as the "pledge of allegiance" BULLSHIT by Congress brought the Rabid Dog out of retirement and into his position as The Raving Atheist, I think the use of the FCC to strongarm a radio station, (which to its credit has apologized and sacked all those responsible for the distasteful, though ONLY distasteful, incident), is, shall we say politely, A TRUE CALL TO ARMS AS A #$$%^ VIOLATION OF CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION THAT WE BETTER STOP DEAD IN ITS TRACKS NOW!

As to CBS and NPR, I was listening to reports that Seattle 's James Ujaama (who had previously been given the key to the frigging city because of his good works!) is now under indictment as an al Qaeda operative (i.e., setting up al Qaeda training camps in Oregon ).  Given law enforcement's so-far brilliant record in this department, (Jose Padilla comes to mind) I think Mr. Ujaama's claims of a government witch-hunt should be given a particularly thorough examination.  On the other hand, at least the fact that the tactic of choice was a criminal indictment means SOMEONE in the Justice Department remembered SOMETHING about a certain CONSTITUTION.  That can only be construed as a good thing.

This story (with thanks to blogger and featured link Mark Byron) was ACTUALLY the subject of the NPR story that drove me nuts:  Zambia refusing USA aid of food because the aid might include genetically modified food which, despite over 5 years and millions of AMERICANS eating it without apparent consequences, may actually result in the EU later refusing Zambia's own exports because of its truck with GM food now!  So go ahead and let 2 million plus people starve to death for the sake of political correctness at home, and in France .

I am reminded of the Saudi clerical police who murdered 15 girls at a burning school by ordering them back into the burning building because they came out without their head scarves (by the way -- is there any reason we should leave that country standing?  I can't think of any.  And the Bush family ties with the Saudi royals do not give me reason for confidence in EITHER regime.)  I am also reminded of the first comments made by Mohammed Atta's father back in Cairo after his probable role as ringleader of the 9-11 hijackings was brought to light:  how DARE you accuse my son of going on a drinking binge the night before!  That would be a violation of the tenets of Islam!

Face it Zambia :  no matter how dangerous you think GM is, PC is FAR more deadly.

The other thing I heard on the radio that got my bile up was a recent decision in Florida allowing an employer to ban smoking by its employees.  NO big deal, right?  No smoking, anytime, anywhere, and backed up with a requirement for testing to MAKE SURE the employees are not smoking, apparently backed up by a Florida Supreme Court ruling finding that an employee's privacy interest is outweighed by the company's interest in lowering insurance costs.

Nanny employers backed up by the nanny state.  The nanny state, ladies and gentlemen.  It will be here all week, all month, and forever, until we tell it to back the hell off and let us kill ourselves in peace!

August 28, 2002 , New York , New York .
Bad poetry Wednesday.

And so a sonnet from the talking dog,
Trying to keep a grip on his tough job,
And pay due heed to wife, and child and blog,
All while his head continues just to throb.
Meanwhile the world's news is not all apace,
Osama seems alive and maybe well
Beijing tells us to leave Saddam in place
And Western fires just seem to be from hell.

The Talking Dog has had a real tough year,
It’s been almost twelve months since that big thing,
Methinks we'll have to try to persevere,
And smell the flowers and hear the birdies sing.
We'll just give thanks to those who've helped us through,
And so remember this shall all pass too.

Don't forget to check out Unqualified Offerings, your TD's "sort of on vacation" blog home, and the rest of our great recommended links.

 

August 27, 2002, Brooklyn, New York.  We continue the blogosphere equivalent of the "emergency medical holograph", by sending our continued heartfelt thanks to your TD's home away from home in bloggerland, Unqualified Offerings.  The Kennedy's go to Hyannis, the Boston Symphony goes to Tanglewood; this summer season, the Talking Dog goes to... Unqualified Offerings.  Your TD's brilliant assessment of Saddam's redeployment (i.e., "Abdul, its time for the human shield bit again!)?  Its on UO.  TD's assessment of the perfidious podiatrist of Pinellas County?  UO again.  You get the idea...

 

August 26, 2002, New York, New York.  Welcome readers, to an extremely abbreviated "the editor is out of town on vacation leaving the stupid techno-phobe talking dog in charge of dealing with Frontpage and related issues" edition.  In short, I picked a bad week to give up Prozac. Naturally, I have (strangely) been more successful keeping up and running our blog-child, specifically, our blog-separated Siamese-twin The Raving Atheist).)  We wish our friend and colleague a happy vacation; now get the hell back here!   

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS go out to your TD's home away from home in bloggerland, Unqualified Offerings, for agreeing to put up your TD's post today (the funny one), and (we hope) the rest of the week (this web page stuff-- its just too damned complicated for us lawyer types!)  . 

For those of you who are STILL READING (instead of linking over to UO LIKE I TOLD YOU TO!)  its onto the news: the White House has decided, according to this report from easy-to-spell CNN, does not believe it NEEDS Congressional (let alone UN) approval to launch a war against another sovereign state (though it does think "Congress should be consulted and kept in the loop".)  Am I alone on this?  Has someone not read Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the  constitution? Its sure starting to look like one either believes in the constitution, or does not.  One gets the feeling that our current executive branch is picking a side on this one (and your TD is NOT convinced the Administration is "with us".)

Elsewhere in bloggerland, some, such as the  great Professor Reynolds of Instapundit) are rooting for the "Impeach Mineta" movement.  Let's just say that in a cabinet featuring Tommy "Mr. Anthrax" Thompson, Paul "Clueless" O'Neill, John "No Nickname Needed" Ashcroft, the complaints of long airport lines hardly act to diminish Mineta's stature as a SUPERSTAR!  

Saddam is moving troops into "urban combat" position.  Mesopotamean Stalingrad.  Texas T (for trench warfare).   Does he really think that an air force that routinely seeks legal opinions on blowing up the head of enemy forces while still being able to blow up not one but TWO Afghan weddings can be counted on NOT to blow the crap out of Baghdad ANYWAY-- human shields or not?  Time will tell...

August 23, 2002, New York, New York.  Welcome, welcome to our new featured links Cold Fury and Steve Chapman f/k/a Daddy Warblogs (we'll just call him "Steve").

I am duly chastened after my attempt at humor at the President's expense regarding pre-emptive logging was called by the Unseen Editor (speaking of our new links, Cold Fury has something to say about the Oregon protests regarding the President's statements; Steve Chapman also had logging commentary:  weblog related (he suggested changing our column width; we're always happy to try to be accommodating!)

I think, in the context of Western forest fires, I previously said we have to try SOMETHING DIFFERENT, preferably something that has a documented history of effectiveness.  If increased logging does the job, so be it.  I guess the Bambi set has to realize that, at some point anyway, the trees are pretty much going anyway -- either in a logging operation, or in a conflagration -- so the choice between "nature's beauty" and "clear cut blight" is not only often a gross hyperbole, but may be affirmatively harmful if it mires us in inaction.

Worse than that, I fell into what I will call the "Upper West Side" trap:  every issue must be viewed through the stereoscopic prism of stereotype.  The President is perceived (in Blue America) as environmentally suspect, so when he makes a statement that can be quickly deemed "environmentally irresponsible", I jump on it, regardless of whether the stereotype holds.  (On the other hand, as my last evening's post notes, thanks to the diligent reporting of The Washington Post, the president REALLY IS more interested in his 5K time than foreign policy, national security, all economic issues except tax cuts for deca-millionaires and up and just about anything else in the world with the exceptions of pleasing his parents and baseball.)

Now that the "trillion" dollar mark has been passed in ad damnum requests in lawsuits, hey -- let's do it again.

If conspiring to kill thousands of Americans is worth trillions of dollars, then SURELY junk e-mails and faxes must ALSO be worth trillions of dollars.  America, she's such a great and powerful country that even inanities like this won't bring her down.  Of course, I am reminded of something else.  Liberals (a club of which I was not a member back in the '80's, based on my aphorism, if you're not a liberal at 21, you have no heart, if you ARE a liberal at 39, you have no money) actually thought (and many foolishly STILL THINK) that RONALD REAGAN was the kind of lightweight idiot more concerned with his personal vanity than with good governance who might do something REALLY STUPID AND IRRESPONSIBLE in the foreign policy context and plunge us into some kind of horrible conflagration.  Thank God we have no one like THAT running the country NOW!

 

TD Evening Presidential Extra:  the Hundred Degree Club
August 22, 2002

We knew the President was in great shape, but your TD clearly doesn't know the half of it, as reported by WaPo here.

My favorite quote is:  “If the president of the United States can make the time, anyone can make the time.”  Gee, I don't know, Mr. President.  The people I work for actually expect results: they might be REALLY MAD if I took a couple of hours out of every work day to run.  Fortunately, sir, you don't have that problem.

 

August 22, 2002, New York, New York.  Welcome to our newest featured link on the Dog Run, Electrolite.

Our Unseen Editor will soon be taking a well-deserved vacation across the pond; we believe we can STILL keep this site up technically past tomorrow, but if we can't, I guess we'll have to think about "vacation" sites.  Perhaps Unqualified Offerings?  Or else try any of our featured links -- as Anthony a/k/a "Tony" de Tiger says -- dey're GRRRREAT.  Or something.  (As I've said previously, though, if this site is down for more than, say, 10 days, assume that I am in a military brig as a declared enemy combatant, and send lawyers, guns and money.)

With all due respect, yesterday, the Unseen Editor made an observation on my purported hyperbolic expression of Jewish media control as it relates to soon-to-be-ex-Congressperson McKinney (Disney/ABC- controlled by Michael Eisner -- A JEW; Viacom/CBS/UPN -- controlled by Sumner Redstone -- probably a Jew; NBC, a division of the General Electric Corporation, long known to be a Mossad front; Fox/News Corp., controlled by Rupert Murdoch- a Jew).

Apparently, according to this from "Open Secrets" (with thanks to Instapundit), at least at some point, it was MCKINNEY raising all her money out of state with her opponent, what's her name, getting almost all HER money in-state.  As the Instapundit updates note, there are delays in reporting this information -- but this issue is not NECESSARILY the usual shade of Black and Jew (just because it satisfies an expected cliché), though late out of state money may have been significant to the outcome.

Actually, the UE raises an excellent point, as I torture myself to lay sarcasm aside long enough to complete this paragraph.  As the recent Congressional unity-lovefest to just about unanimously condemn a LEGALLY PROPER NINTH CIRCUIT INTERPRETATION OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE WITH RESPECT TO THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE (and by the way, Jesse Ventura is right about the pledge:  MAKING a citizen recite the pledge, ceremonial deity included or not, is something Saddam Hussein would do) demonstrates, there are issues where our democracy operates pretty much as the Soviet Politburo did.  For better or worse, American support of Israel happens to be one of those issues (another is my current bęte noir, bankruptcy reform).  If I were of Arab or Palestinian descent, the fact that, as far as Congress is concerned, anyway), Israel can do no wrong (even when it does wrong!), I'd be kind of pissed, and would certainly seek out any remotely friendly voice I could find in Congress.  For Arab-Americans, Cynthia McKinney was their man (er, person).   As Unqualified Offerings put it, if Jack Valenti can buy Congressmen, there is no reason to deny that privilege to others (McCain-Feingold be damned!), be they out of state Arab-Americans, or out of state Jewish-Americans.  If there is a fair criticism of McKinney, it is not that she questioned the knee-jerk automatic support Israel receives in the Congress, its that she is a rather poor spokesperson for those views, and brings baggage to the issue that a better spokesperson might not be burdened with.

Elsewhere in the wacky world,

Letting little kids
Stay out in the sun too long
Is misdemeanor

Your TD, who has a 2 1/2 year old (Baby TD) is not sure where he comes down on this case; obviously, it's the parent's job to keep children safe from harm (and severe sunburn is really nasty).  On the other hand, there seems to be no line anymore beyond which law enforcement will not cross in the name of SOMETHING on behalf of the all-encroaching state (compare, e.g., "war on terrorism"; but also see, compare and contrast another great institutional authority, as personified by Bernard Cardinal Law, and how IT values the protection of children.)  Tough issue.  Still, the original felony charge seemed wildly out of line for what was probably an accident.

Finally, feeling buff from the "war cabinet" meetings, the President now proposes HIS solution to Western forest fires:  chop the forests down first.

Nope, I can't top that.  Won't even try.  [Editor’s Note:  Possibly because you shouldn’t even try.  Here’s the money line from an article in last week’s Economist:  In a strange way, America's war against fires is similar to its war against drugs.  Many lives have been lost and a great deal of money spent struggling against a fearsome enemy.  But too little has been done to address the underlying causes, while a radical solution goes begging.”  Suffice it to say that their suggestions track pretty closely with the President’s.]

 

August 21, 2002, New York, New York.  Many thanks for the kind words from our new featured link Captain Scott.

Your TD notes that HIS OWN Hebrew name happens to be Shmuel, and that he appreciates the reference to "the last Jewish boy to listen to a Talking Dog".   Presumably, the Captain refers to David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam serial killer of the '70's, who allegedly heard voices from a dog.  I am reminded of a MadTV bit where the claymation dog Goliath tells his good buddy Davey (remember that show?) that he must "cleanse the city" by committing murders at lovers' lanes.

Well, on the occasion of Congressperson Cynthia McKinney's primary loss, we take this occasion to thank key blogosphere journalists The Indepundit and our friends at Unqualified Offerings for their yeoman's work following up the Congressperson's 9-11 donations from people with Middle Eastern surnames.  Of course, the blogosphere, which as we all know, is nothing but a vast Zionist conspiracy, obviously wanted to "get" McKinney, because of her anti-Israel stances (and because she's Black).  So, in alliance with Jewish interests, and using the Jews' superior influence (everyone knows that we control the rest of the media and the banking system) the outspoken advocate of freedom Cynthia McKinney goes down in defeat.  [Editor’s Note:  Um, her opponent raised well over a million dollars, much of it from out of state, and presumably mostly from Jewish interests.  Notwithstanding that such out-of-state support is perfectly legal, at what point does a joke about overstated Jewish influence cross over into “methinks thou dost protest too much” territory?]

Finally, the President is at his ranch in Texas meeting with the "war cabinet".  Vice President Cheney will have to sit out on several of the sessions, which we understand include spinning (Condi Rice is excellent at this), pilates (Don Rumsfeld excels at these) and, of course, wind sprints (let's just say the Commander-in-Chief rules in this department).  All in all, a productive session is anticipated.

 

TD Early Evening Laugh Out Loud Post
August 20, 2002

Mohmmar Qaddafi
carries the UN banner
as human rights chief
.

Remember the UN Human Rights Commission the US of A got kicked off of?  In a spate of poetic justice, the commission will be headed by Colonel Qaddafi (however you spell it!).  Obviously, Idi Amin was busy.  (with thanks to Pejman Pundit)

 

TD Mid-Afternoon Congress Extra
August 20, 2002

Well, let's wish good luck to the combatants in the battle for a Congressional seat in Georgia:  Cynthia McKinney, and the other chick.

Meanwhile, in bęte noir news, the bankruptcy bill has not been defeated, so see some amusing cruelties of the new bill, such as making evictions easier!  More to come!  

TD Mid-Afternoon Extra
August 20, 2002

So, it appears that a mere 30 years after the Munich Olympics massacre, German police were willing to storm something to free hostages, in this case, the Iraqi consulate in Berlin.

All involved appear to be unharmed.

Taking hostages in an embassy in Europe where the hostages are ARABS (and not Americans, or ESPECIALLY, Israelis).  What a strange thing to do?

 

TD Noon-Time Berlin Hostage Extra
August 20, 2002

CNN reports that an Iraqi dissident group (naturally, operating OUTSIDE of Iraq) has taken hostages at the Iraqi consulate in Berlin.  We are assuming that they saw the "bat signal" from the roof of the White House during its test run, and didn't actually mean to invade Iraq (or its consulate) THIS FAR ahead of Congressional elections!

If you don't like the weather, or the news from Iraq, WAIT FIVE MINUTES!

 

August 20, 2002, New York, New York.  Welcome to our newest links on the Dog Run, Captain Scott, The Counterrevolutionary and Bo Cowgill...

Busy day here in TD land; but your TD is amazed that a report he heard last night -- about the Administration "debating" whether to attack an alleged al Qaeda chemical/bio weapons lab in Iraq!  It turns out, of course, that the alleged facility is NOT in a part of Iraq controlled by Saddam...stay tuned!!!

 

August 19, 2002, New York, New York.

In all this talk of
The Great Axis of Evil
We forgot China!

Friend of freedom and democracy Jiang Zemin is confounding many by wrangling to maintain his grip on control of the People's Republic of China.  China, as you will recall, was deemed a strategic partner – no, competitor – no, partner – no, competitor – by President Bush in the pre-90%-approval-rating-because-of- 9-11 early days of his presidency, with some troubling events surrounding a downed US aircraft.  To make matters interesting, China is traditionally allied with (1) our new buddies in Pakistan, to keep their large neighbor India off balance; and (2) Axis of EvilTM member North Korea (to keep Japan and the US off balance).  Saddam or no Saddam, China could probably destroy Los Angeles NOW if it felt like it.  In short, Saddam or no Saddam, the world will continue to be a troublesome place.  Much as the nation is delighted to hear Dubya talk tough when the competition is, say, Afghanistan, or even Iraq, let's just say the President's handling of the Chinese air craft affair was less than fully confidence building.

Good news from Iraq?
Abu Nidal, a bad man
Is said to be dead.

Well, long-time Palestinian trouble-maker and terrorist Abu Nidal (so awful that even Arafat hated him and wanted him dead) apparently "killed himself" in Baghdad.  Of course, if this becomes the start of a spate of high level "suicides" in Iraq, we could only (of course) attribute it to Saddam's chess game, anticipating the coming attack (if it comes).  (Unless Abu Nidal was in the Saudi Royal family; you never know!)

In other atrocity news, we direct you to CNN's unearthing of Al Qaeda training for atrocity tapes.  Younger viewers should probably look at something else.

Finally, we welcome our newest featured link Matthew Yglesias to the Dog Run, and we welcome "TD the Wonder Dog" to our home page (the guy holding the small child is relegated somewhere else...)

 

August 18, 2002, East Hampton, NY.

Our friend Pooty Poot
Made a HUGE deal with Saddam
Some good friend he is!

Of course, elsewhere in the Axis of EvilTM Russia is ALSO helping those stable, responsible Iranian clerics build a nuclear facility.  Meanwhile, the US of A (and Western Europe) continue to crassly under-fund the agency responsible for safeguarding the nuclear assets and waste of the former Soviet Union, and a group of countries (including the US of A and Japan) are helping North Korea build their own "peaceful" nuclear reactor.

Chemical weapons
Bothered us not when Saddam
Was Ron Reagan's boy.

Apparently, American officials were well aware that Saddam's Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iranian forces during the war between those two members of the Axis of EvilTM during the 1980's.  Frankly, this type of revelation is not good for advancing American moral and legal authority for taking out Saddam now.

The Saudis are pissed
That Americans would dare
To take them to court.

The Saudis will be ESPECIALLY pissed when the plaintiffs demand INTEREST – expressly forbidden by Sharia Islamic law.

 

TD Troubling Saturday Afternoon Extra
August 17, 2002

Your TD finds himself troubled when he is more or less in full agreement with ANYTHING on the New York Times editorial page (even though your TD proudly insists he is a New York City liberal...)  So, he presents to you this piece by former theatre critic and now proud commentariat member Frank Rich (with thanks to Instapundit).

Further troubling is the public position of Brent Scowcroft, suddenly questioning the coming invasion of Saddam.  If this LEGITIMATELY signals a policy change (in Poppy Bush's mind that is), i.e., if George H.W. Bush (41) somehow thinks that invading Iraq is a BAD IDEA, then I would almost certainly have to reverse my position, and call for an IMMEDIATE, ALL-OUT ATTACK ON IRAQ --  RIGHT NOW.

Scowcroft's statement could just be another clever Bush misdirection designed to deflect attention from the growing evidence that it is Saudi Arabia's government that must be immediately removed, however, so I cannot make this statement at this time.  Stay tuned.

 

August 17, 2002, East Hampton, NY.  Well, thanks to Josh Marshall for getting right to the point regarding the president's recent blustering speech on the $5.1 billion in proposed spending pullbacks.  It was a really bad idea.  The firemen were REALLY upset -- and if there's one unassailable group in post 9-11 America, that would be them.  Mr. President, I have told you time and again:  fluids, fluids, fluids!  Texas is a lousy place to work out this time of year, but if you must, DRINK UP!  The heat and humidity take their toll -- even on someone in as remarkable shape as you, Sir.

Kudos to our new featured link Voice from the Commonwealth.  V from C takes on those who would lambaste the great Charlton Heston (not that I am immune from that, of course), because of his NRA credentials.  Let me say a couple of things:  as to Heston, let's face it Chuck, the NRA chose you because you are a HUGE celebrity -- bigger than, say, Kurt Russell or Tom Selleck.  So, you get your lumps (plus, Guns and Moses is, well, just funny.).  Let me make the more serious Second Amendment point, though, which not only Chuck (and Kurt and Tom) will uphold – with their lives if necessary – but your TD will too.  The Bill of Rights is a funny thing:  if you look at the First Ten Amendments to our Constitution, only the Second and the cryptic Tenth involve anything affirmative; the rest seem to be promises the government won't break.  (By the way, in your TD's opinion, the Tenth is SO vague that it would itself be unconstitutional were it not part of the Constitution itself.)

But the Second Amendment gives the people themselves something (what has been described in this column as the "you keep your guns and we'll keep our porn" social contract).  It gives the people ARMS:  if the government of any American polity (local, state or national) treads too far, ultimately, it must deal with an armed citizenry.  THIS IS A CHECK AGAINST TYRANNY.  Is it the BEST check?  No comment.  But it's in the Constitution (compare and contrast some other "Constitutional rights" invented by the Supreme Court NOT in the Constitution:  again, no comment).  So, my liberal brothers, GET OVER IT.  And be sensitive to Chuck:  you'd be sensitive if ANY OTHER HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY had a life threatening illness, wouldn't you?

 

And from a place where governmental tyranny is NOT unchecked (even with, most likely, a well-armed populace!) -- Mugabe's Zimbabwe, where 80 white farmers have been arrested for not obeying a farm confiscation law (was it like that when Steve Hatfill was there in happy Greendale?  I wouldn't think so...)

 

TD Late Afternoon
Elvis, M.A.D. and Hatfill Extra
August 16, 2002

We Could Not Tell You
How Much You Meant To Us All
When You Were Alive

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King.  I'm not sure what it says about the citizenry of Earth that, (1) the late Elvis Presley seems to be selling more records now than, well, WHEN HE WAS ALIVE;  (2) 25,000 plus people show up for a vigil at Graceland; and (3) Elvis seems to be the number one artist right now, in at least a dozen countries, including Israel and Afghanistan...  It’s probably a GOOD thing that we are all willing to be subjects to the same King.

Baseball players vote
To strike on 30 August
National time: past!

As we (I hope) move on to a national (and preferably international) debate on whether the Bush family's personal feud with the Hussein family (our survey says!) becomes a matter of military action (to rid the world of Saddam’s ability to threaten mutual assured destruction -- which must be carefully undertaken to make sure that the "prophylactic" military action itself does not CAUSE such destruction.)  It is NOT an unserious question to ask about the aforementioned sport of baseball's propensity for....MUTUAL ASSURED DESTRUCTION!  Why?  One very good reason.  George W. Bush WILL NOT BE CONTENT to retire into post-presidential life as a mere big-time speech maker and husband of a senator.  NO!  Although I guess he enjoys being President (great gym facilities at the White House), in his heart, our President wants to be COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL.  He loves the game:  t-ball on the White House lawn, the Andover team, the Yale J.V., the Texas Rangers – it’s just the man's first love.  He will have very little to look forward to (with over TWO YEARS until the election in 2004) if major league baseball has destroyed itself.

Let's hope these guys figure it out...we'll send in Dennis Ross and George Tenet to negotiate with Selig and Fehr...perhaps not...

Been to Harare,
Learned About Germ Warfare
Not Been to Princeton

And now for something completely different, anticipating TD's investigative blogging, Dr. Hatfill denies ever having BEEN to Princeton:  apparently, he has CATEGORICALLY REFUSED to deny having been to Zimbabwe.  Your TD remains angry -- very angry, indeed -- with the FBI's anthrax investigation:  pictures of Dr. Hatfill are now being circulated in the Princeton area.  Your TD gets the feeling that in the bizarrely politically correct post 9-11 environment, FBI agents were specifically under orders NOT to ask about, say, the Middle Eastern guy in the hazmat suit who dropped something in the mail box across from the bio department!

 

August 16, 2002, New York, New York.  After reading this, about the Central European floods that have made their way to Dresden, don't you get the feeling someone there is saying: sure, NOW we get floods.  No floods when we were getting our asses fire-bombed,  no sirree, nooooo!!!!!!!  NOW we get floods.  Danker.  Danker ein lot!  Meanwhile, elsewhere in my fantasy life, neo-libertarian Bruce Springsteen announced that he had absolutely no connection himself to the anthrax case (or any other ongoing FBI investigations), but was joining Richard Jewell, Wen Ho Lee and Steve Hatfill in a special benefit concert to raise funds to fight Western forest fires...

On this story, of the class-action suit filed by 600 or so relatives of loved ones lost on September 11th, your TD has seen various accounts of claims between $1 trillion and $100 trillion.  As, I suspect, the GDP of the planet is not quite up to $100 trillion, I admire the creativity of plaintiff's counsel in asking for such a figure.

From time to time, your TD (a lawyer by profession) comments on interesting lawsuits.  In substance, of course, this case is in NO sense frivolous:  a group of people clearly conspired (and then put their money where their mouths were) to intentionally do harm to another group of people.  In law school, we call such a thing a "tort".  The problems with this case are, alas, more practical in nature.

So, let me first address the "international law" concerns:  for better or worse, private American citizens are unable to launch massive military strikes against foreign governments (or citizens) who cause harm to their loved ones; their remedy tends to be limited to, alas, a lawsuit in the United States.  [Only foreign nationals (particularly from the Middle East) are permitted to engage in private military type actions (i.e., if the victims of those actions include citizens of either the United States or Israel, or preferably, both).  Any American or Israeli who tries, or is even accused of, such a thing will be hauled up before the ICC at the Hague, or subject to indictment under Belgian "universal jurisdiction".]  Anyway, here is a pretty good analysis of suing foreign governments.

Scroling down, you will see a mention of Stephen Flatow v. Iran (see also this), where the father of a victim of terrorism sponsored by Iran, obtained a hefty judgment against Iran, but was not permitted to execute on "diplomatically protected" property, and thus, has what amounts to a Pyrrhic victory.  A 1996 law (the law that greatly helped the Flatow suit) applies to "declared terrorist" states, which include, e.g., Libya and Iraq, but NOT Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.   Of course, the current suit includes parties besides the government of Saudi Arabia, but given their apparently intimate ties to the Saudi government (and, ahem, the Bush family) to quote a great legal doctrine:  "good luck".

So I suspect one of two unfortunate outcomes to the lawsuit:  either a lengthy jurisdictional battle over sovereign immunity, or a straight default and reliance on the fact that Saudi Arabia is not on our "terrorist" list and thus its assets may quickly be deemed "diplomatic:  and thus not subject to seizure here!  While it will provide some level of satisfaction to air the issues in open court, your TD still thinks that, at least in this case, military action geared to "regime change" -- in Riyadh, that is -- would be a more satisfying outcome ultimately.  But then, to quote the great legal doctrine, "good luck".

 

TD Afternoon Anthrax Conspiracy Extra
August 15, 2002

Remember the anthrax case?  I'll bet Steve Hatfill does, seeing as the friggin' FBI won't let him forget it.  Even though they can place him in Zimbabwe in a town called Greendale in 1983 (though even IT did not have a Greendale school!!!), our crack law enforcement agency can place him NOWHERE NEAR Princeton, New Jersey at the time the infamous anthrax letters were mailed to key Senate Democrats Daschle and Leahy.  Anyway, this article does a good job of laying out the mysteries of the envelope.

Your TD periodically decides to have fun with Google searches, so check out these two disparate articles:  this one and this somber one.

Scroll down through all of the articles, and you will see where I'm going:  one of the victims at the Khobar Towers bombing was from...Greendale, Wisconsin.  Other victims were of various grades in the military, including more than one FOURTH GRADE Airman.  Finally, in the other article, an individual at a rally in Illinois (from FRANKLIN PARK, ILLINOIS) stated that he was stationed at...the Khobar Towers at the time of the bombing (June 25, 1996).

Of further interest, this site shows famous people born in August; taking the zip code from the mystery letter, we learn that Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers was born on...August 8, 1952; the mystery letter's return envelope has a zip code of 08852 (the NEXT TOWN OVER from Franklin Park, by the way).  (We've solved the case:  pick her up!)

Of course, 08798 (the zip code for...nowhere!) was the date of the East African embassy bombings, something to which the guy in this story pleaded guilty to.  And will you look how old HE is?  Yup.  50.  I wonder when his birthday is?

Of course, we KNOW the envelope was mailed in Princeton, New Jersey; we COULD just take a look at...the Princeton University microbiology department.  We know that these people were (1) probably near the mailbox the day on the letter was mailed and (2) microbiologists.  So how about we start with them?  If nothing else, maybe one of them saw somebody MAIL SOMETHING!

What am I missing?

Too easy?  THIS is one of many reasons why your TD (though he DID serve in the Justice Department, step-parent of the FBI, for a time in the mid-80's) is not with the FBI itself.  (Actually, the real reason is, despite his ability to trod over endless distances, he can't run the required 2 miles in 14 minutes.)

 

August 15, 2002, New York, NY.  Well, a hearty welcome to our new featured links, Ted Barlow, Inappropriate Response, QuasiPundit, Zonitics.com and Voice from the Commonwealth.

What Did You Expect?
Taking financial advice
From a talking dog!

Apparently, the stock market had a big end-of-day rally yesterday on the "strength of" the mandated earnings certification reports rolling into SEC headquarters.  Time will, of course, tell whether this was anything other than a one-session blip, or if the mini-rally is sustainable.  The market is down slightly at this writing.

As this report shows, the President found himself in a bind between two conflicting policy goals: (1) Karl's "reach out to Hispanics" thing and advancing the "close friendship" worked out with Mexico's president Vicente Fox; and (2) the more important policy prerogative, "don't mess with Texas".  In the end, allowing Texas executions to proceed unabated is, next to tax cuts for the extremely rich, the paramount goal of this nation.  Mis apologias a Vicente, but that's too durn bad about your citizen:  he needed executin'.

Saddam Is Moving
Trucks and Equipment Around
Think he expects us?

U.S. military officials question whether an apparent movement of trucks and equipment within Saddam's Iraq signals preparation on Iraq's part for a perceived U.S. invasion.  Jeez, well, you know..you think he's up to something?...

Finally, substantial parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire are under siege...from floods and rain.  With all due respect to our friend The Raving Atheist, do you think God is trying to tell us something?  (On the other hand, sometimes a deluge is just a deluge...)

 

TD Steamy Afternoon Extra
August 14, 2002

Your TD sends a hearty "feliz cumpleanos" out to El Jefe himself, Fidel Castro, who, for everyone who’s counting, is setenta y seis anos hoy.  Buena suerte!  Perhaps someone will listen to apparent neo-liberal Dick Armey and withdraw the embargo, in which case, Fidel might spend his 77th in retirement!

 

August 14, 2002, New York, New York.

Welcome to Iraq,
Says Kurdish Opposition
Someone there likes us!

Marwan Barghouti
Is Being Charged With Murder
What Else Could It Be?

Today is the Day
For Corporate Chiefs to Sign
That their books don't lie.

Well, I'll break out of Haiku form to address this one; by the way, I will give credit to the sudden resurgence of interest in the Haiku form to Aaron Naparstek who lives near your TD (and Mrs. and Baby TD, of course) in Brooklyn, New York, for composing Haiku's which he called "Honkus" and posted on lampposts in the neighborhood to protest the unabated car noise in our otherwise quiet neighborhood -- but I digress!!!)

Somewhere deep inside the head of either Harvey Pitt (or more dangerously, Secretary O'Neill) it was thought that the "problem" of investor lack of confidence was that investors feared that ALL CEOs were a bunch of cowardly crooks (at least of the 1,000 or so largest public companies -- and click here to the SEC's list to see up to the minute results of who is certifying) and forcing them to personally guarantee their books would calm Wall Street down.

Of course, contrary to the hopes of the Bush Administration, the stock market is not going to spontaneously take-off as a result of this sudden spate of sign offs (and indeed, as I write this, it's down a bit).  The stock market has to factor a broad panoply of uncertainties and expectations into valuations; "irrational exuberance" means "selling opportunities" (if the exuberance is TRULY irrational), just as irrational pessimism means "buying opportunities" (again, if the pessimism is TRULY irrational).

Indeed, a TRULY rational investor would be spooked even more by the sign-offs, because now, in the event that a company chooses, for whatever reason, to restate earnings, one more arrow has been added to the quivers of parasitic class action lawyers to bring extortion-suits, which actually WOULD be a drag on real earnings, and THIS DOES have to be factored in to valuations.  Further, any CEO in his right mind might wonder if his job hasn't become TOO MUCH TROUBLE:  besides civil liability in the form of the above-referenced parasitic lawsuits, now, a CEO may face prison time for mistakes in reporting made by subordinates.  Again: a truly rational investor would factor this in to stock valuations negatively.

Further, the truly rational investor would look at other huge uncertainties out there.  Forgetting the (I guess) coming war with Saddam, which will do wonders vis a vis high oil prices and their effects on just about every other industry (let alone what fear of terror will do to travel/tourism), there are many straight economic uncertainties.  For example, the feckless Gray Davis has presided over California (something like the number 8 economy in the world, if an independent country) by saddling it with an inconceivably large budget deficit; and other states and municipalities (such as the City of New York) face comparable (though not as large) budget shortfalls of their own, and the "back-stopping" federal government is itself back in big-time deficit, which does not bode well for the one thing that is keeping the economy humming now:  historically low interest rates.

Then there’s the President's sudden decision to "get tough" on deficit spending, as reported in the New York Times.  Some of the items included are such things as training for firemen and testing of Ground Zero workers for toxins.  Again, a rational investor would NOT look at Bush's attempt to make a political issue out of this particular spending as credible (surely, much of this relates directly to the "War on TerrorismTM"); in any event, Bush's choice to make this an issue may only lead to...more uncertainty, and bidding down values...

At least we are strong
Constitutionally-wise.
Some judges think so.

Finally, in the "cause for optimism" department, we give you this exchange, where a federal judge is seriously questioning the government's handling of an "unlawful combatant" (i.e., refusing access to counsel) in the Navy brig at Norfolk, as reported in the Washington Post.

Don't ever forget:  it’s our CONSTITUTION and LAWS, and our insistence on following them, not our "homeland", certainly not our "government", and not even our "people", that guarantee our freedom, and make this nation the greatest that has ever existed.

 

August 13, 2002, New York, New York.

Loyal Reader Bob
Suggests That I Start Posting
In the Haiku form.

The President Says
Prosperity Is Just 'Round
The Corner (See Here)

Rich baseball players
Wisely set no strike deadline
Though, who really cares?

Israel is worried
That attacking Saddam soon
will lead to bad stuff.

Who came up with this
really lame- ass idea
of Haiku posting?

Meanwhile, in Baghdad,
Saddam lets the whole world know
Inspections are done.

Well, what does the last one mean?  The way your TD does things, it means one of two reasons for the US NOT to attack Saddam (as a matter of game theory, rather than "legality", which to my mind, our following is what makes us superior to Saddam in the first place.)  Saddam's rejection of inspections either means:

(1)       He REALLY HAS -- RIGHT NOW -- weapons of mass destruction which he is saving up, so he can go all Wagnerian on us if he has to (be it against our friends in Kurdistan or Israel, or American forces wherever they may be found -- or maybe even somehow against the United States proper).  Why turn over such a prize to international inspectors?  OF COURSE reject inspections!  If so, anything short of the instant obliteration of Baghdad (which, of course, simultaneously sentences hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of human beings, to horrifying death) would be ill-advised, especially given our current "Saddam must die and we must pour salt on his gravesite" strategy.  Cold comfort that the guys (and gal) who decided to implement their al Qaeda control and security plans in early September are the same guys and gals who are implementing our war plans.

(2)       Saddam DOES NOT HAVE WMDs at all, but wants us to THINK he does (in which case, he really isn't a threat in the first place) -- so REJECT INSPECTIONS.  This comes back to my "what are we waiting for/what's the hurry" argument.  Saddam is unquestionably a bad guy, but surely, he is ALREADY the most contained member of the Axis of EvilTM; unlike Iran or North Korea, American forces effectively control large swathes of Iraq, right now.  Iran is building a nuclear reactor with help from Pooty Poot.  Amazingly, as part of the brilliant strategy of prior governments (and our Japanese friends) North Korea -- which ALREADY has ballistic missiles capable of hitting Japan (if not Alaska) is planning to build a nuclear reactor with help from...Uncle Sam.

There is, alas, a third possibility:  Saddam is ABOUT to COMPLETE work on a WMD and change the equation from (2) to (1).  Of course, if THIS IS THE CASE, then my question becomes why the Bush Administration is WAITING AT ALL -- in fact, why wait until TOMORROW -- why not direct the fighter pilots in the air over Iraq RIGHT NOW to start shooting – this second!  In this (extremely unlikely) third possibility, Saddam, of course, has to be stopped IMMEDIATELY, lest he change the equation and be able to blackmail us and/or destroy Israel.  If THAT'S the case, then the Administration's inability to demonstrate and articulate this for those annoying "legal purposes", and thus get IMMEDIATE CONGRESSIONAL, if not United Nations, support for an instant strike, constitutes an act of gross recklessness so great that it cannot be calculated.  Then again in the Cold Comfort Department, this is the same team that was on watch on September 11th, now, is it not?

Just one last question.  Pakistan ALREADY HAS nuclear weapons, and ALREADY HAS a healthy serving of Islamic militants, and as far as we know, MOST OF AL QAEDA ITSELF IS ALREADY THERE.  Shouldn't keeping Pakistan in order be the first priority of the Bush Administration?  Just asking...

 

August 12, 2002, New York, NY.  Well, for the conspiratorially minded, we give you this probable explanation (running up cash flow ahead of the IPO) of the story that bothered the TD so much yesterday.

Dominos, is of course, based in the Detroit area, home of the nation's largest Arab community.  Could we be seeing the start of a pita-pizza connection?  (Probably not, actually...)

But on that segue, we give you this story.  What's wrong with this picture?  Iran (Axis of EvilTM) hands over 16 or so suspected al Qaeda Saudi national members to...Saudi Arabia where (the Shiite extremists insist) "any results of interrogation" will make their way to the United States intelligence services (via the Sunni extremists).  Really?  Oh, that's right.  I keep forgetting how cooperative Saudi Arabia has been in all aspects of the War on Terrorism TM so far to date.  Well, I have EVERY confidence the Saudis will be EVERY BIT as cooperative on this as they were with the Khobar Towers investigation.

Hey look, some good news in South Asia – much less need to worry about death from a nuclear war.  Oh, wait:  this isn't good news at all!  Fortunately for us in the US of A, we have NOTHING to worry about as far as air quality is concerned!

Meanwhile, in the Keystone Kops Department:  I say the Bureau should just pick up Richard Jewell again:  he's always good for a laugh or two, and he is as statistically likely to be as responsible for the anthrax "thing" as most of the other non-suspect suspects (particularly since the Bureau seems to have ruled out anyone from, say, the MIDDLE EAST.)  The continued non-handling of the anthrax investigation by the FBI continues to make your TD very angry indeed.  (Sometimes, a Greendale is just a Greendale although take a look at this investigative work from our friends at Unqualified Offerings.)

 

August 11, 2002, East Hampton, New York.  Longer lines at airports, erosion of civil rights, and now this.  Things have now gone just TOO FAR!

In the "coincidence?"  department, we give you this report on a sudden spate of deaths among former germ warfare workers that is making your TD wonder if these guys were ALSO members of the Saudi Royal family (with thanks to blogger, and no relation, Gary Farber)  What can I say?  This just makes me even more angry a the FBI's handling of this affair.  VERY angry indeed.

Meanwhile, Unqualified Offerings sends its continuing congratulations to a suddenly reasonable-in-the-face-of-retirement House Majority Leader Armey.  Does this mean that I have to start liking Tom de Lay and Trent Lott too?  'Cause I don't think I can do that...

 

August 10, 2002, East Hampton, NY.  Continuing kudos to our friends at Unqualified Offerings for their continued, intelligent coverage of the phony war with Iraq.  When Baby TD asks her daddy what he did during the war (or more accurately, back in the EARLY DAYS OF THE WAR ON...) he would like to think that these musings and ravings would be his finest hour.  (That, and having had the intelligence and foresight- although not, actually, the money to have gone long big on petroleum, gold and Exxon-Mobil and BP shares.)

It appears the Justice Department is scaling back the TIPS national anti-terrorist snitch program; apparently, most people felt that a national scheme of organized government informants was, somehow, contrary to liberty interests.

Meanwhile, a key non-suspect suspect in the anthrax "thing" will talk -- to someone, about something -- tomorrow, as reported here by CNN.  (Your TD is very angry with the FBI's handling of the anthrax attacks.  Very angry indeed.)

We are saddened to hear that actor (and NRA President) Charlton Heston may be suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.  Although there are those in the NRA (and certainly those in the Bush Administration) who might oppose it, this MIGHT be a good time to take the bullets out of Chuck's guns...

And finally, regarding Vice President Cheney's address to Iraqi ex-pat dissident groups, notice that nowhere in there is mentioned creating an American state (first mistake).  Also, note the "secure location" of the Vice President, and compare it with the TD's intelligence work, as reported here, last spring.  (Hint: the Veep's "secure location" is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Don't worry: Saddam already knows that.  Pooty Poot told Dubya, Dubya told Crown Prince Abdullah -- and, well, you know...)

 

TD Evening Extra And Saddam Policy Change Rave
August 9, 2002

Well, your TD sits here pondering the (I guess) coming invasion of Saddam's Iraq on this, the evening of the 57th anniversary of the day that American forces dropped a second atomic bomb on the Empire of Japan, at Nagasaki (ending World War II).  Obviously, the principal stated rhetoric about why we should take out Saddam is that he might acquire that type of weapon (even though neighboring psychotically Islamic fundamentalist IRAN is trying to build a nuclear reactor, and neighboring psychotically Islamic fundamentalist SAUDI ARABIA, whose nationals have already launched a military-terror assault against New York and Washington, is ALSO trying to acquire comparable weapons).

So, let me end any ambiguity on my position and join the dissenters:  I think we blew it on attacking Saddam.  I felt (and I still feel) that there is sufficiently compelling evidence linking Iraq to 9-11 that, by itself, justifies removing Saddam (including the meeting in Prague and Ramzi Youssef's probable connections to Iraq as probable Iraqi intelligence agent, and possible roles in the anthrax attacks and the crash of Flight 587).  I do not have sufficient evidence for a conviction in court -- but then no one really asked me, now, did they? Still, in my view, given the apparent policy imperative to toss Saddam's ass ANYWAY, this was more than sufficient to have warranted attacking Iraq in the relatively immediate aftermath of September 11th (as I said, in this column, last year.)  BUT, it wasn't deemed a POLITICALLY defensible move (by the guy with the 90% approval ratings), and ergo, it wasn't done.

THIS IS WHY JOHN MCCAIN, OR BOB KERREY, OR EVEN AL GORE SHOULD BE IN THE WHITE HOUSE.  Military deployment is serious shit:  better to trust someone who has actual military experience (as opposed to having posed for photos in his flight suit), who can appreciate the significance of such momentous life and death decisions.  If military action is to be undertaken, it must be timed to maximize its MILITARY EFFECTIVENESS, not its domestic political impact.

Thus, in the opinion of this Talking Dog, we have now simply waited too long to attack Saddam.  The post-9-11 hot pursuit is now over; it is lukewarm at best.  The stated reasons for attack (he will give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists) is ridiculous:  Saddam, as a rational (albeit evil) control freak, would not hand the possible means of his own destruction over to crazy people.  Yes, he might himself have the ability to launch a WMD at American interests (or Israel), but he would do so only as a last resort (as doing so would doubtless end his OWN life).  Indeed, it is VERY POSSIBLE that he has the ability to do so NOW, as we may shortly find out.  In any event, better we give ISRAEL the green light to keep him in line (they have a more direct interest in the neighborhood anyway) than risk thousands upon thousands of more American (let alone Iraqi and Israeli) lives, as we are evidently about to do.  (As I stated, and still believe, Saddam COULD be VERY helpful in enabling us to round up al Qaeda; I KNOW there is a deal there to be made, if the appropriate officials are creative enough.  I have no doubt that they are not.)  Is Saddam a bad man who has done evil things to his own people?  Is he worse than our friends King Faud, Crown Prince Abdullah, Hosni Mubarak, or any of the OTHER dictators in charge of Arab countries (seeing as there's no one BUT dictators in charge of Arab countries?)  Shall we remove them all?  (YOU KNOW I WOULD, but that's not the plan on the table, now, is it?  We should at least remove those immediate responsible for the attack on this country, and we all know who THEY are!!!   Oh wait, they are "family friends" of the President!  Never mind!!!)

The Bush Administration that insists on permitting incompetents to continue in their important jobs, be they Ashcroft, O'Neill, or Tenet, has reached a fever pitch in its level of rhetorical inanity over Saddam.  What has happened is asinine beyond belief:  by belligerent posturing, either (1) we have now given Saddam more than sufficient time to build up appropriate defenses against us, which will greatly increase the blood and treasure costs of military action, or (2) in the alternative, Saddam is not now capable of, and can NEVER build up such defenses, in which case, (a) what the hell were we waiting for or (b) what's the hurry?

Although I personally believe that the Bush II Administration is SO crassly political that the fact that the stock market ended only mixed today (Dow and S&P up a bit, but NASDAQ down) signals no imminent attack (and, of course, the WorldCom news is not good), I still wonder...  What's all this about, REALLY?  September 11th was the operation of some well-connected Saudis (hosted by crazed Wahabbis based in Afghanistan), with add-on Egyptian manpower, and quite probably, Iraqi logistical support.  On the other hand, what it MOSTLY was the lucky project of a few nuts:  they picked a REALLY weak point in our security apparatus:  air security in the US of A was (and still is) a very unfunny joke.  That particular trick won't work again, at least, that way (though, as we learned in East Africa, there are MANY vulnerable American interests).

So I repeat: what's all this about?  We have punished the Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda...  We are about to punish Iraq...to avenge the political defeat of George H. W. Bush by Bill Clinton?  Is this the same "end justifies the means" contempt for the rule of law that has led to the detention of American citizens without charge and right to counsel as declared “enemy combatants”?  (By the way, if this is permitted, then there is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING, stopping the President from reading this web site and declaring your TD an enemy combatant, and detaining him in camera in secret military detention, without charge, counsel, or trial; as an aside, if you detect "radio silence" on this site for more than a few days, to quote the great Warren Zevon -- "send lawyers, guns and money -- Dad, get me out of this!!!")

Could such apparent contempt for rule of law -- under the rubric of a probable one-time terror attack -- EVER be justified, be it for apparent miscreants like Jose Padilla or any OTHER CITIZEN?  Could this contempt for the rule of law now be extended to the international sphere -- where entire wars can be initiated and waged without ANY legal niceties followed (such as a declaration of Congress and/or UN resolution)?  If the answer to either question is yes, I dissent again.  Though, naturally, I wouldn't dissent too loudly, because if the answer to either question is yes, this will no longer be the country my grandparents fled totalitarian Europe to come to.

 

August 9, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, another day, another atrocity somewhere:  today, this one in Jalalabad (remember Jalalabad from back when we were told that AFGHANISTAN was important?), as CNN reports the death toll is at least a dozen dead, maybe SEVERAL dozen.

(Now, you might ask, why does your TD keep linking to CNN for breaking news stories like this?  Is it because of those 12 or so shares of AOL Time Warner he owns?  No, that sort of thing is for Congressmen [see below].  It is because, aside from CNN's worldwide presence and professionalism, CNN is easy to spell.)

In other atrocity news (as reported by CNN), there was an attack on a Christian hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan.

What in God's name are we watching here?  I'll tell you.  We have NOT finished off al Qaeda.  We have NOT EVEN finished off Osama bin Laden.  We nailed some cannon fodder that Osama and Omar threw at us (not to mention a couple of weddings.)  These are Osama's homies at work, trying to foment a grand global jihad between all Muslims and the rest of the world.  In a way, the USA's crassly political planned attack on SECULAR IRAQ right now (as opposed to in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, when it actually MADE SENSE TO DO SO, as suggested by, ahem, me) may be making his point for him (at least in the view of many Muslims, for whom this sort of thing may not be such a hard sell.)  Further, American special forces are coming under fire more and more regularly in missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Remember that "first part of the war" -- the kind that was "easier than we thought"?  It was TOO EASY:  the Taliban are out of power (for the moment), but the Taliban only HARBORED al Qaeda Central.  AQC is still operating (possibly even with OBL himself at the helm; unquestionably with CONTINUING Saudi financial and logistical support).  In plain English, we haven't won yet.  Worse, we're focusing, AGAIN, on a bogeyman who (like the Taliban) only AIDED the 9-11 perpetrators (not that that's not enough to remove his ass) -- while Bush officials continue spouting and gushing about our "friendship" with the House of Saud, elements of whom CARRIED OUT 9-11.

(By the way, as I write this, I see that the Dow is down around 100 points, so we don't have to think about an invasion of Iraq, or whether to cover our oil positions, over the weekend.)

On to domestic affairs.  Well, will you look at this Washington Post report.  It seems WorldCom forgot about ANOTHER $3 plus BILLION in losses in the late '90's!  (Your TD is shocked to hear that this sort of thing is possible in our transparent, well-regulated  and overseen financial markets...  LOL!)

Finally, on to my bęte noire:  the bankruptcy "reform" act.  It seems that Rep. James Moran (D-Virginia) (a key House sponsor of the Debtor's Prison Reintroduction Act) took out some sort of sweetheart loan from credit card issuer MBNA (NUMBER 1 credit card issuer MBNA, that is) who lobbied for this bankruptcy "reform" thing, as reported by the New York Times.

Your TD is not picky.  Since SUBSTANCE will obviously not kill this horrible bill, and the President seems to have no truck (let alone sympathy) for anyone with less than $10 million in the bank, your TD will accept the possibility of SCANDAL killing this horrible bill.  The media doesn't seem to have caught on about just how destructive the bill is, but at least it can get itself into a Beltway-Business-As-Usual froth -- when the story might just have "legs" (besides those that will be broken, under the proposed "reform").

 

TD Evening Extra:
Is War Imminent -- And If So --
How Do We Profit?

August 8, 2002

Your TD is getting very worried that amidst the various tongue-clucking going on in weblogs and editorial pages everywhere (and your TD himself is no less guilty) we have just sat here, while, apparently, one of the most important precursors to attacking Saddam has happened under our noses.  I'm referring to this, of course.

Your TD feels it in the air: a mandate to attack Iraq not from Kofi and the UN Security Counsel, not from Chris Fatty Patten and the EU, or even from Tom, Dick and Denny over at Congress.  No, much more importantly, and ominously for these purposes, the STOCK MARKET IS UP for a 3rd straight day.

Check out the S&P 500 around noon tomorrow (New York time).  If its up more than 2% for the session by that time, go short on Iraqi anything futures, sell your downtown Baghdad real estate, and, baby, GO LONG ON OIL!

 

August 8, 2002, New York, New York.   I note (in passing) a brief bomb scare at the New York City Public Library's main branch at the southwest corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue; I of course am sitting on the 43rd floor of a building, well, across the frigging street!  Your TD recalls a sort of vague existential angst from, oh a dozen or so years ago when the Bush I Administration decided to launch a massive military attack against Saddam Hussein's Iraq (which, a year or two earlier at that time had been receiving not insubstantial American support for a war against inscrutable Iran).  We in New York (at that time) had a vague fear: perhaps terror attacks somewhere, perhaps friends and loved ones might be called into their reserve units -- who knew?

Amazingly, now that New York HAS ALREADY COME UNDER ATTACK, I gotta tell ya':  I DO NOT feel that same fear and anxiety in the air, now.  I don't.  If anything, Midtown feels kind of  festive.  Maybe it’s the nice weather.  Still, your TD is NOT feeling good about the current "phony war" being rhetorically waged, particularly given some evidence of mobilization for a war effort (such as this and this reported by Instapundit.)

In an unsurprising development in the Middle East, talks don't seem to be going well regarding Israel's pull-out from the re-occupied territories, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

On the OTHER hand, this may be construed as good news, as continuing talks seem to be in the offing.  We will see; although the morons in the United States Department of State usually believe that talking to insanely hostile parties is an end and a goal in itself (Hey Osama, have you done something with your beard?), IT IS NOT!  However, the Israelis and Palestinians clearly have things to talk about, so in THEIR case, talking is a good thing.  Hope continues to spring eternal (though Hamas will continue to murder women and children in the name of peace, God and goodness.)

And in another front on the War on Terror (you know -- Colombia is ALSO a major front in the "war on drugs"; if we can make it a front in the "war on poverty" -- I understand that it would constitute a trifecta!) one has to question if "Plan Colombia" should go back to the drawing board, as Ye Olde FARC attacks Bogota as Colombia's new president is sworn in, as reported by MSNBC here.

You see?  There ARE places even MORE fucked up than the Middle East!!!

 

TD Afternoon
"What's With This War Thing"

Extra
August 7, 2002

This just in (care of CBS News):  Saudi Arabia vows NOT to help the USA with the coming (I guess) war with Iraq.  (Since the market looks like a gainer today -- 2 more up days and we have the green light to attack, right?)

Well, your TD was thinking (as suggested by the same secret source who ALSO first suggested "Club Med for dictators"):  many (including your TD) believe that Iraq was "helpful" to the Al Qaeda bastards who murdered 3,000 of our countrymen (the famous meeting in Prague between Atta and the Iraqi intelligence man come to mind).  However, for 9-11 purposes, the SAUDIS were MORE than HELPFUL:  they did the manning, planning, scanning, buying and flying.  Not to mention funding and spreading the Wahhabi famous international hate-mongering schools, and the Saudis' generally not helpful disposition in our "war on terror".  Indeed, the D.O.D. commissioned a recent Rand Corporation report suggesting that SAUDI ARABIA is in fact our enemy, and plans should be made accordingly.

So I was just thinking -- if the Saudis won't help us in our coming war with Iraq, maybe we can ask IRAQ to help us in our coming war with the SAUDIS!  Saddam might like the opportunity to get back into American good graces; it's tough living EVERY DAY, day in, day out, as the most wanted man in the world by the world's only superpower (I know, I know -- bin Laden WAS the most wanted man in the world, but Karl Rove figured Saddam IS BETTER in the swing states -- especially with the market tanking.)

As a "good will" gesture, Saddam can hand us Al Qaeda (we all know he can do this -- see above), and hand in his weapons of mass destruction, and we can leave him in charge of Iraq (you didn't REALLY think we gave a shit about the Kurds, Shiites and rest of Iraq, did you?)

So how about it?  Do we have a deal?

 

August 7, 2002, New York, NY.  Kudos to the blogosphere (such as Instapundit; and Eve Tushnet for picking up a REASONABLE discussion of the pros and cons of our (imminent, I guess) invasion of Iraq set forth by our friends at Unqualified Offerings (note the intelligent sounding ravings of a certain canine in there somewhere...)

Well, surprise, surprise, European elites seem sort of against our proposed (inevitable?) Iraq attack, as reported by CNN.  (Notice that a recently aggressive-toward-a-Muslim-country Spain seems to be "with us" in the "with us or agin' us" calculus.)  Honestly, who CARES what the Europeans have to say:  they have become UTTERLY irrelevant (by their own actions, proving themselves more concerned with solipsisms like their own welfare states, subsidizing French farmers and the Euro than they have been with global -- or even regional -- order and security:  witness the fiasco in the former Yugoslavia) since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Well, moving over to a country that is anything BUT irrelevant, we give you China (and Taiwan which "Beijing considers a renegade province"; you know, why can't someone, for once, just say, "Taiwan, a free, democratic and sovereign in everything except name state made a pariah because the much larger nasty dictatorship to its West with nuclear weapons insists on this nomenclature and the rest of the world is afraid of them". Oh.  I guess I just said it.)  Anyway, Taiwan, like Israel, is NOT a super-power, and must measures its actions carefully, as set forth in this report showing Taiwan's cancellation of naval exercises, again, by CNN.

You know, I have had two occasions in my legal career to represent people from Israel against people from Taiwan -- and vice versa -- and both ended up being legal battles to the death over relatively small amounts of money!  Life imitates geopolitics, I guess; fortunately, Israel and Taiwan have no reason to undertake military action against the other, and can join the league of democratic pariahs!  And by the way, much as I think it might be a good thing for other reasons, I do NOT see my usual solution for international problems lately -- i.e., adding Taiwan as an American state -- adding anything to the equation, here (though as to Tibet and Sinkiang...).

Taiwan is a fully functioning state, with a booming economy, not dependent on foreign aid.  I would, however, like it to be unequivocally stated that an attack on Taiwan by the Mainland would be construed as an attack on the United States, and would be responded to in kind -- as opposed to equivocally stated!

Finally, it appears that the boys over in Israel-Palestine are talking again, as the Palestinians seem to have approved Israel's phased pull-backs from reoccupied areas, conditional on no attacks being launched from there, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

The fact that the parties are talking is good, necessary, and essential,

actually.  Maybe this agreement will stick?  Hope springs eternal...

 

August 6, 2002, New York, New York.  As I write this, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 300 points; thus, we can take solace in the fact that George W. Bush is a genius (again).  Of more note is the recent effect that the amazingly inane statements of amazingly inane Treasury Secretary O'Neill recently had on Latin American markets  (see this report from the BBC; or this from The Houston Chronicle).

Although Treasury Secretary Rubin has recently been lambasted for (such as this by Andrew Sullivan), at least Bob Rubin gave the impression that he knew what he was doing.  Paul O'Neill (like the President himself all too often) not only gives the impression he doesn't know what he's doing, but in O'Neill's case, that he doesn't CARE that he doesn't know what he's doing.  Alas, O'Neill's apathy forces the Prez himself to go make stupid speeches to Wall Street, and now, it looks like 3 or 4 straight up days for the Dow may be an additional necessary precursor (along with peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and perhaps the eradication of world poverty) for any attack on Iraq!

Well another day, another massacre by Islamic extremists in Indian-administered Kashmir, as CNN reports.

It’s unfortunate that General Musharraf, alas, remains our last, best hope in that insane part of the world, but in the alternative, a Taliban-type government would inherit nuclear weapons.  But wait...

I have previously suggested here that Israel (and at the promptings of our friends at Unqualified Offerings, Palestine, and later Northern Iraqi Kurdistan) should join the United States, I DO NOT believe that Kashmir should join the United States; unlike Israel (and/or Palestine) and Northern Iraq, we ain't got no vital interests there, and we don't really want to be neighbors of not one but TWO nuclear powers.

No, just as in selecting a national official language, rather than deal with the various internal ethnic jealousies on the subcontinent, English was selected (at least it was FOREIGN), I am suggesting that Kashmir (both sides of the line of control) revert to British crown colonial status.  No one need worry:  since the Blair government seems as eager to divest itself not merely of colonial vestiges like Gibraltar, but such colonial vestiges as Scotland and Wales, we can be SURE that this arrangement will be a TEMPORARY one.

Only this time, the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir issue can be worked out with far more time and forethought than the 1947 partition.  Since neither India nor Pakistan can ultimately win on Kashmir (without a nuclear war that will result in the destruction of Kashmir) -- I think this is as good an outcome as any.

Finally, as reported here by the Associated Press (as picked up by The Jerusalem Post), kudos to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for distancing himself (and the Defense Department) from a Rand Corporation study recommending that if Riyadh did not do more in the War Against Terrorism (such as, for example, discontinuing the funding of terrorist operations, aiding and abetting bin Laden and the Taliban in their evading justice, and sending their nationals to crash airplanes into our cities) then we should, well, go all military on them, seize oil fields, freeze assets and that sort of thing.  Saudi Arabia, an enemy of this country that we should plan military action against... YOU THINK?

 

TD "Let's Get Saddam" Evening Extra
August 5, 2002

With thanks to Matt Drudge, we give you these takes on the coming (I guess) war with Saddam, the first documents warnings against such an action by former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and one of his former British counterparts.

The second is an account that Israel, AS WE SPEAK, is preparing for an Iraqi attack WITH CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL AGENTS, in response to a US strike, if Saddam believes he will be cornered, or to paraphrase from the Economist, Go Wagnerian on our ass.

This thoughtful piece from The Atlantic Monthly is MUST READING for those who think they understand Saddam.

The rest of the world, of course, is just Delighted to have Saddam around, and doesn't mind one bit that he might help give the likes of Osama bin Laden the means of destroying American cities.  (This, of course, is because the rest of the world doesn't live in American cities; only American city dwellers do.)  And I needn't tell you what the rest of the world thinks about the fact that Saddam might want to destroy Israeli cities.

So, your TD is saying:  the fact that the USA might have to go it alone (defined as, with Britain and Canada) is not a problem; the USA has most of the moral authority in the world right now.  The issue becomes logistical:  can we trust the Bush Administration not to fuck this up.  THAT is the question.

 

August 5, 2002, New York, NY.  And so, its back to another really hot, humid work week, in this bizarrely warm year (I still recall the freakishness of walking around Downtown White Plains Christmas Week when it was seventy degrees with Christmas music blaring over loudspeakers in the streets).  And so, on this irregular feature of "blogger jogger", I note that yesterday, I joined 7,000 or so other idiots who did two laps around Central Park in something called the Manhattan Half Marathon  (not surprisingly, in a "personal worst time").  The joys of jogging are the ability to always see something new (or at least something one hadn't noticed before).  In Central Park yesterday, this was a "forever wild" sign at the North End of the Park, and the plethora of people wearing "Natural Living" tee-shirts (a reference to a radio show, and I guess a "way of life", spearheaded by radio persona Gary Null).  I just thought:  we have all chosen to live in New York City; we are in what amounts to a giant English Garden (with thanks to Olmstead for his design genius) in the middle of a giant city.  There ain't nothing "wild" about it.  And as for "natural living", again:  we have all chosen to live in New York City, and to THAT,  I have nothing to add.

Well, let the repercussions begin, as the Bush Administration deftly back-pedals on the issue of Al Qaeda preparedness, as reported here by Time magazine, which seems to have broken this story.

You know the TD has been growling about this since September 11th itself (and in this column since its inception), that, notwithstanding the unfounded accusations of Congressperson Cynthia McKinney that the Bush Administration KNEW the events of 9-11 were coming, I prefer to say wimpily that the Administration KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN something was up, and taken appropriate precautions.  (Weasel-like qualifications are what I have learned in my nearly 20 year affiliation with "the law").  This seems to be a story that won't go away.  (Karl Rove is STILL praying for a market rally!)

Israel, surprise, surprise, is increasing pressure on the West Bank and Gaza.  It is, for example, closing highway access to many parts of the West Bank, and destroying homes of, and evicting, etc., families of suicide bombers.  Could Hamas be any happier?  Or the Likud and Shas hardliners?   Meanwhile, British PM Blair states that he thinks Israeli-Palestinian peace discussions should proceed BEFORE the (apparently imminent) attack on Saddam, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

What's with you Tony?  Bush went down that route for months:  results include hundreds of dead Israelis and even more dead Palestinians.  It’s a separate affair entirely; EITHER SIDE -- Sharon or Arafat -- is free to make the "grand gesture" to break the minuet of mayhem they are dancing.  (Your TD is not hopeful.)  But let's face it:  Saddam is another affair.

There are good reasons for NOT taking him out, although there are FAR MORE and BETTER reasons for taking him out YESTERDAY.  Your TD would just like to see a rational, public debate on the subject, in any forum except the credibility-challenged New York Times editorial page.  (For example, here's one vote "for war" from The Economist.  Another view, raising concerns similar to my own, is raised by Josh Marshall here.)

But let's keep this in mind:  Israel has decided to keep Arafat alive and nominally in charge (and lest we be clear, Israel can have him killed before you finish reading this sentence.)  Until now, the United States has decided to keep Saddam alive and in charge (he would be much harder to remove, and we're about to find out exactly HOW much harder -- I guess.)  But both, at their core, are secular, and hence RATIONAL!  Both seem to know exactly how far -- to the inch -- they can go, before disaster strikes, such as Saddam's crazy-like-a-fox decision to fire CONVENTIONAL scuds at Downtown Tel Aviv in the Gulf War.  Had Saddam used chemical or bio-agents, or a small nuke, he would now be dead and Baghdad off the map  (probably by the United States, and if not, unquestionably by Israel).

Instead, Saddam did just enough (along with the not so subtle suasion of the Bush family's Saudi friends and benefactors) to convince the first Bush Administration that it was better off leaving Saddam in place, in a "box", because he was "rational", and a final drive to remove him would result in something crazy (like, well, Scuds containing chemical or bio agents being showered all over Israel, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait).  Saddam needn't worry about an internal religious crazed uprising (as Arafat does); Saddam more or less murdered all of HIS effective opposition.  His concerns tend to be external.

What does this mean?  Saddam is NOT Bin Laden (or even Hamas):  he knows that dead is dead, and there ain't no 72 virgins.  He has no problem killing OTHER people, of course, but he seems unlikely to engage in a suicide mission (ditto Arafat, of course).  What this means is that if we push him against a wall, he will suddenly unleash whatever crazy shit he has stored up.  Obviously, if we are correct, this will only be conventional stuff.  If we wait too long, of course, it won't be.  Just keep in mind that the USA under Reagan (Poppy was the Veep) did business with Iraq -- to help it against the TRULY IRRATIONAL AND DESTRUCTIVE IRANIAN CLERICS (who are still there).  Why?  Saddam is evil -- but he is more or less predictable: he tends to act out of personal interest and self-preservation.  So...

It was once suggested to your TD that the United States essentially set up a "super-nation" of "Club Med" type resorts operating under the protection of the United States military, in a network of individual glamorous venues around the world for the dictators of the world who are willing to VOLUNTARILY relinquish power.  (Perhaps Ted Turner might want to sponsor THIS international initiative, in which case we could call the program "Club Ted").  Old dictators needn't worry any longer about nasty Ceaucesciu (however you spell the name of the late dictator of Romania, put to death by his own people) outcomes.  In exchange for  peaceful cessions of power, such dictators could be assured of being allowed to keep the first $1 billion they stole in their Swiss bank accounts (anything over that would go back to the treasuries of their former piggy banks -- ahem, countries), with Club Ted picking up the tab on food, housing, travel (within the network) and whatever debaucheries the former dictators could desire (we understand, for example, that Kim Jong Il of North Korea is partial to expensive cognac and Danish prostitutes; both could be provided in abundance, without causing massive starvation to North Koreans!)  Saddam could retire as a private businessman (although limited to the $1 billion program limit for "seed money").  (It is unlikely that Castro -- who ostensibly ALREADY lives in a tropical paradise would go for this scheme, but no idea is perfect; of course, no credible plans to invade Cuba and remove him are currently under public discussion!)

Why do I bring this up now?  Because I'm not sure anyone has played this out:  we suspect Saddam has nasty shit in his arsenal now.  If we make this a "to-the-death" thing without an honorable -- or at least, reasonable -- way out for this evil (but rational) dictator (short of a blitzkrieg-type rapid removal before he can do something) we will find out EXACTLY what he has saved up.  Thus, I'm NOT sure that Tel Aviv (or for that matter, New York) actually being destroyed is an appropriate price to pay to ensure that...Tel Aviv and New York aren't destroyed!

And the Prez screwing around on this issue just gives Saddam more time to plan whatever it is he's going to do, which is NOT a good thing.  Get on with it, Mr. President:  go to Congress, let's discuss all the ramifications in the open, if the consensus supports it, let's get a declaration of war, and let's get this done (while we still think Saddam can't go all "mutual assured destruction" on us).

 

August 4, 2002, Brooklyn, NY.  Don't Palestinian terrorists take Sundays off?  Apparently not, as two more suicide attacks leave over a dozen dead in Israel, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

Well, what can a lone Talking Dog across an ocean say?  He knew that the Gaza bombing -- even if it killed a Hamas leader who probably needed killing -- done in that particular balls-to-the-wall way (blowing up his APARTMENT BUILDING -- collateral damage be damned) would be good for stirring things up.  And they're stirred up.  Shimon Peres noted that the Palestinians killed before the Gaza bombing, and after -- and really need no prompting to violence.  He's right, of course.  The Palestinians need no prompting.  They are vicious, they are relentless, and in their minds, they are winning.  PM Sharon's policies have gotten lots of Israeli civilians killed.  Period.  And there seems to be no end in site.  Lookit, Ariel:  you have an "only Nixon could go to China" situation; continue the hard-line crap and watch a stream of premature funerals, or do something statesmanlike and take a shot at ending this.  (Or join the damned USA already).  The choice is yours.

Further, your TD listened inattentively to a program called This American Life on National Palestine Radio (NPR) which detailed life in Israel/Palestine currently.  There was an optimistic story, on a doctor named Barghouti, very popular for his good works in setting up community health programs, and related to a cousin-terrorist with the same surname in Israeli custody.  Alas, the story continued that if he were running in an election, Arafat would kick his ass, because the Palestinians to a person said "yes, he is corrupt and has brought us ruination, but he is OUR LEADER."  Vicious and relentless, sure.  But this view of Arafat right or wrong does not smack of the intelligence that these people should have developed in the seven left-wing universities set up in the West Bank by the Israelis during the "brutal occupation".

Meanwhile, reports are now coming in that plans to deal with al Qaeda that had been worked up by the Clinton Administration had been back-burnered by the Bush Administration until just, well, days before September 11th (see Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo and Time Magazine).  We will see how this developed, but your TD is shocked -- SHOCKED I tell you -- to hear that the Bush Administration failed to take all appropriate precautions vis a vis Al Qaeda.  (Not.)

Senator Biden (D-DE, Chairman Foreign Relations Committee) is beating the war drums as to our (I guess) imminent attack on Iraq.  Could the Senator be seeking a tough line for his resume for ANOTHER presidential run?  Is there ANYONE in government who can speak clearly on Iraq without some political overtones?  People:  IRAN -- principal supporter of Hezbollah and the number one state sponsor of terrorism according to our State Department is BUILDING A NUCLEAR REACTOR -- FOR SURE!  (Yes, Iran is in the Axis of Evil, of course.)  Anyone reading this site for any length of time knows my feelings on Saddam:  he should have been removed a long time ago -- certainly in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.  And in the end, even if it takes crass political calculations to make it happen, maybe this is a good thing.  On the other hand, where do we go from here?  The point can be kicked around and around and around, until Saddam GETS his friggin' nukes -- and then we can't touch him.  The other theory is Saddam knows if we leave him in place with a sword of Damocles over his head, he has to behave.  I'm not going wobbly on this; I'm just not sure our government's motives on this one are presently beyond reproach.

The Saudis still have to be removed (more urgently than Saddam, frankly; we KNOW the Saudis sponsored attacks on THIS COUNTRY; we only SUSPECT Saddam's involvement).  To me, Poppy Bush's saddling this country with a "personal relationship" with the evil bastards known as the Saudi Royal family is our number one foreign policy problem right now.  But as I said, I'm kind of used to being alone out there...

 

August 3, 2002, Brooklyn, NY.  Well, the market took around a 200 point hit to the Dow yesterday; this means that Dubya is an idiot again.  Amazing are the efforts the Administration did to try to distance itself from this sort of tether of its own performance to that of the market -- but then, who told the Prez to go to Wall Street and make lame speeches?  (LOL-- rhetorical question-- we all know that was Karl Rove.)

Speaking of idiots, on to Congressperson McKinney.  For those of you willing to look, we give you this site, apparently put up by the Congressperson's Zionist enemies (with thanks to lawyerblogger Jason Rylander).

Again, your TD would be remiss if he did not commend (and recommend) the painstaking work on this performed by our friends at Unqualified Offerings.

If you scroll through the Goodbye Cynthia site, you will encounter such gems as this (from the Atlanta Journal Constitution):

About one-fourth of the individuals who have contributed to McKinney's campaigns over the past five years have names that appear to be Arab-American or Muslim, according to an informal study of Federal Election Commission records.

Their contributions total $142,950, a full third of the money McKinney has collected from individuals over the last five years, a review of government records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates.

Arab-American leaders, including some who believe their community has been singled out for persecution since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, say the explanation for their generosity is simple: McKinney is a longtime supporter.

Their concerns are particularly pertinent in the wake of regulations proposed by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to require certain foreign visitors, particularly those of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent, to submit to more extensive border security checks.

Arab-American leaders say McKinney has spoken in their defense when other members of Congress would not. They appreciate that she has lamented the quality of life that Palestinians in the Middle East suffer.

"McKinney has addressed our conventions more than once. She has received standing ovations. She has brought tears to people's eyes more than once," said Hussein Ibish, spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

The contributions are a sizable chunk of McKinney's campaign bank account, especially when compared with those of other members of Congress.  For instance, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), whose district includes part of the largest Arab-American community in the nation, took in $21,525 from individual contributors with names that appear to be Arab-American or Muslim, according to the AJC study.  That amount equals not quite 3 percent of Dingell's $835,893 in campaign contributions over the five-year period.

 

As we debate "secret" plans to invade Iraq, perhaps we should ask some Congresspeople (such as Congressperson McKinney, as well as  Rep.Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Rep. Earl F. Hilliard (D-AL), and Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT),  who visited Iraq recently under the sponsorship of an Arab American lobbying group.

There's lots more, of course; let the rumor and innuendo fly!  Just follow this Google search to get you started:  Type Cynthia McKinney and Hala Maksoud into a Google search -- and follow your nose!!!  This is a free country (at least it is now) -- so go for it -- see what's out there.  And no one need have their privacy or freedom infringed, a goal unheeded by the heavy-handed genius in the FBI who thought of lie-detector tests to members of Congress!  (I guess we now know the branches of government ranking:  Supreme Court no. 1 with a bullet, because it can select the head of the no. 2 branch, the executive; Congress, a distant 3rd.)

Finally, kudos to the New York Stock Exchange for its tactical decision to threaten bailing out of lower Manhattan in exchange for a better subsidy, and kudos to the City of New York for proposing to trade the land under Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports for that under Ground Zero to "reduce the incentive to maximize the rent revenue received from development on the site".  Well, I guess I stand alone in thinking that economic redevelopment of downtown Manhattan is a GOOD thing.  I've found myself in that position before!

 

August 2, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, kudos to the Senate for its approval of "fast track trade promotion authority" for the President, as reported here by The Washington Post.

Hey, although my heart is often with organized labor in their political forays, on THIS issue, they are just wrong.  This President, and the last President, and the President before that, were right.  Free trade is the best possible economic outcome for this country, EVEN IF WE HAVE TO DO IT UNILATERALLY.  (I am not speaking of politically motivated sanctions, which, may, albeit rarely, be an effective foreign policy tool).  For the those of you who find economic issues boring, skip the next two paragraphs.

Your TD's libertarian and liberal streaks collide over free trade, but in the BEST way:  who do tariffs help?  Entrenched, and usually inefficient industries and their workers (think steel and textiles in the USA).  Who do they hurt?  Two groups, actually.  Foreign producers and their workers tend to have a reduced market, because their products are less competitive.  BUT FAR MORE SIGNIFICANTLY, domestic consumers (including other domestic industries that have to buy the subject products) are hurt most, because they have to pay higher prices for goods that aren't competitive enough to make it on their own.  (It has been recently noted that the Third World is hurt FAR MORE by First World economic farm subsidies and tariffs than they are "helped" by international aid; the irony is that the First World would also save ITSELF money if it cut the crap with the aforementioned farm subsidies and tariffs.  Ah, but all politics is indeed local).

The economics professor's chart will show you TWO inefficiencies associated with a tariff.  Let's talk tons of steel:  let's say the South Korean price is $10 per ton, but our domestic producers price is $20 per ton.  A tariff of $10 per ton is placed on the South Korean steel, so its now also $20 per ton (politically, the desire is to make the foreign goods cost more, but we'll assume it’s just equal).  Guess what?  Our USA consumers are not only screwed out of the ability to pay $10 less per ton, they would buy a hell of a lot more tons at $10 than constrained to $20, so more economic activity up the line is constrained -- at the expense of ALL domestic workers and consumers, for the benefit of a tiny group of producers and their workers.  Am I saying all tariffs are bad?  Pretty much, I am.  Keep in mind that as we enter a period of potentially deepening economic downturn, we want MORE economic activity, not less (even if some of it would be politically important enclaves like the steel producing states!).

Now, on to the fun.  There is a buzz going around the blogosphere concerning the fact that Congressional character Rep. Cynthia McKinney (no friend of the Jews she) of Georgia received an unusual number of campaign contributions from donors with Arab-sounding surnames ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.  For discussions of same, check out the breaker of this story, Indepundit, the follow-on stories by the Volokh Conspiracy and this painstaking analysis by our friends at Unqualified Offerings.

What does this mean?  Who do I look like, Ken Starr?  I have no idea -- but it’s the kind of wonderful story full of rumor, innuendo, and possible serious crimes, all available because of the blogosphere!

(Since it’s fun with the web day -- and this sort of thing will doubtless help my "slut" total when the next N. Z. Bear blog ecosphere rankings come out -- check out Ernie the Attorney for a detailed discussion of the web's known lawyerblogs, of which, not coincidentally, this is one.)

Meanwhile, in an unsurprising move, IDF tanks rolled into Nablus as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

The more things change...

And finally, another view of "bankruptcy reform" from Robert Scheer at Salon.

(If I'm not mistaken, there seems to be an amusingly ironic pop up ad that's everywhere you want to be!)

 

TD Habeas Corpus Extra
August 1, 2002

Today, attorneys employed by the United States Department of Justice argued that a United States District Court Judge had no habeas corpus jurisdiction over Jose Padilla, because he has been transferred to in camera, military detention in South Carolina.  For details of the argument, see this as reported by the New York Law Journal.

Chief Judge Michael Mukasey didn't seem impressed on this point; briefs on relevant issues are due by September 20th.  Your TD will not be submitting an amicus brief himself, by the way.  For this exercise, I am assuming that the allegations against Mr. Padilla are true, including his possible role in the Oklahoma City bombing.  Still, as an American citizen, even a potentially miscreant and treasonous one, he is entitled to due process of law.  Milliken v. United States remains good law:  habeas corpus continues to apply as long as the courts of the United States are open and functioning (i.e., stated as a legal principle:  "the President has declared you an unlawful combatant my ass").

While it often falls to lawyers to have to argue silly points on behalf of their client, lawyers for the United States Department of Justice (of which your TD was once one himself, albeit for a short time) are supposed to try to do the RIGHT thing.  Well, for those interested, take a look at the report of the argument, and YOU make the call.  (I assure you, Chief Judge Mukasey will call it as HE sees it.)

 

August 1, 2002, New York, New York.  Welcome to another month.  We start this one much like LAST SEPTEMBER (when we commenced TD operations):  American citizens (and others) killed at the hands of Arab terrorists.  The Jerusalem Post reports as follows.

Among the dead are five American nationals, including one Janis Ruth Coulter of Brooklyn, New York.  Your TD understands that this particular Hamas handiwork (which, interestingly, despite the fact that for the most part its victims were not Israelis was marked by the usual celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank).  As noted yesterday, Hamas, etc. couldn't care less if Palestinian Arabs (who constitute around 5,000 of the 23,000 students at Hebrew University) are among their victims.

In the "but I thought I was a hard-ass" department, I give you this editorial from The New York Sun, making the heretical statement that, perhaps, the "terrorism" against which we are putatively "at war" is a seamless affair, based in various foreign capitals confined not just to the Axis of Evil, but includes our, ahem, friends.  My only problem is the political improbability of its statements:  Poppy Bush has saddled us with "personal friendships" (and interlocking business interests) with the Saudi Royals that, pretty much, leave this country hamstrung to attack the REAL state sponsors of terrorism (the Saudis, of course).

As to the coming military defeat of Iraq, your TD ran a Google search for secret Iraq invasion plans.  Feel free to browse at some of the 15,000 plus entries, and like the World Trade Center design plans, pick your favorites.

The coming (maybe) invasion is, apparently, at the moment, the subject of an internal Administration debate between Karl Rove, Condi Rice, and the President's pollsters about the precise coordination of the Iraqi invasion with the rebound in the stock market and the mid-term Congressional elections, and whether additional protective tariffs benefiting some Midwestern constituency might help with the invasion plans.

Aside from the observation that the difference between a "war" and a "war on" is that "wars" end, does not one get the feeling that something far more sinister is afoot here?  The psychological impact of September 11th (your TD said as much himself, that day, standing one city block north of the WTC catastrophe) could be summed up in one phrase:  Pearl Harbor.  In the immediate aftermath of that attack, the country clawed for leadership through a really dark hour:  the first foreign attack on the United States proper since the War of 1812, without even the satisfaction of a solid return address.

For a short time, at least, polls showed that Americans would have favored a draft, mandatory rationing of vital materials, various restrictions on liberty in the interest of national security, and approved of the President by margins hitherto unseen in such polling.  In response, the President told us to go shopping, and that what we needed to protect us from our hitherto disorganized government which apparently let us all down security-wise was to create a mammoth new bureaucracy with an ominous sounding name.  Oh, and we were launching a "war on terrorism".

Let us return to the heady days of last September; I will quote from...myself (back when I was the "Left Leaning Dog"; also at that time, less than ten days after the attack, it was believed that the casualty count was substantially higher than the around 3,000 killed number that was later determined):

 

Brooklyn, September 20, 2001.  Our president has addressed a joint session of Congress (Gentlemen-- we've got to protect our phony baloney jobs!  Lieberman-- I didn't get a harrumph out of you).  The upshot: a series of the same types of reasonable demands on Afghanistan that reminds one of those we imposed on Serbia before bombing it.  I love the reasonableness of our diplomacy!  Oh-- and we get a national office of Homeland Security at the Cabinet Level.  BUT-  will it get the same funding as the ministry of silly walks -- or the Drug Czar?

Your LLD understands the anger of an angry nation.  He too is angry-- along with grief stricken-- at the loss of 6,000 souls-- including his client the unfortunate fireman.  He is angry about watching the trajectory of an airplane crashing into a building that killed so many-- which, but for the temporary structural integrity of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, would have left your LLD a dead dog.  He is angry that the destruction has -- aside from giving him the lifelong horror about having to live with the sound of planes hitting the neighboring WTC and exploding, being close enough to watch poor souls jumping to their deaths, or the tears of fellow escapees on the Manhattan Bridge watching the fall of the mighty towers-  left him temporarily on the dole.  Your LLD is mad too.  But...

But having listened to our president, who, frankly, allowed our national defense and intelligence services to be asleep in the first place (as he contemplated gutting them and decimating their morale in the interest of funding an absurdly regressive tax cut), now proposes a war on an unnamed enemy (except, perhaps, strategically untenable AFGHANISTAN!) -- the only thing we know for certain is that Americans--  I suppose MORE Americans -- will die in ground combat-- somewhere.  As to our enemies:  No names, of course (except panderingly, individual names-- a la Bill Clinton).  No mention of, say, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, the world's currently most active terrorists, or its supporters in Damascus and Cairo (Egypt- home of several of the hijackers!), or Saddam Hussein and Iraqi intelligence (whose chief is seen in a photograph with the head hijacker).

Unfortunately, we will not be erasing Papa Bush's mistake-- Saddam can continue laughing.  Yasser can continue snickering.  'Cause a bunch of Afghan shepherds and goats are going to die, thanks to our tough talkin', wanted dead or alive president.  Unfortunately, so will more innocent American civilians.

Well, let's survey the last ten months or so:  other than the WTC death toll noted above, what exactly have I gotten wrong?  I'll tell you what I did NOT expect.  I did NOT expect W's poll numbers to stay so high, so long (they are starting to evaporate, finally, amidst the Enron-WorldCom-Harken-Halliburton-market decline fiasco).  Nor did I expect a President who governed early in his term as if he won by a landslide (pushing through a massive and insanely regressive and ill-advised tax cut for his "constituency" -- i.e. those likely to attend the Oil Baron's Ball in - and on- Dallas), to suddenly start operating in an even more craven and politically pandering manner than his predecessor AT A TIME WHEN HE HAD AN ABSOLUTELY FREE HAND BECAUSE OF 90% APPROVAL RATINGS!  (As Josh Marshall has noted, the President has had only two state dinners:  one each for the Presidents of Mexico (Karl and that appeal to Hispanics thing) and Poland (Karl and that appeal to those Midwestern males thing), leading one to think that NOTHING besides short term political calculus seems to go into ANYTHING the president does).

So where was I going with this (now) insanely long ramble:  oh yeah.  I get the feeling that our national security -- including prior decisions of how to attack Afghanistan (our survey says,  bombs away!  no wait, the polls say we need ground troops!) to the decision of when or whether or how to attack Saddam, will be guided not by geo-political strategic considerations, or tactical military ones, but by the crassest of domestic political considerations.  Clinton was often accused of this, of course, but he had a rising stock market and a popular domestic agenda (and got to hold off the other parties' control of both houses of Congress).  Dubya, without this Clinton backdrop, seems constrained to fight the last war:  his Papa's failed reelection campaign.  Unfortunately, at a time when the nation needs a grander statesman than dear old Dad, what we are getting is instead a crasser politician.

God help the rest of us.

 

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