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Catfish and Cod
Friday, July 18, 2003
The prospective paradigms of the new world order.
(Link path: Winds of Change)

Today, there are five competing models of the world seriously competing for dominance of world politics. They compete to become the new paradigm that will determine the shape of the world for most of the 21st century.

UNILATERAL: favored by neocons and the Bush Administration, this model assets that any individual country -- particularly the United States -- may take whatever action it deems necessary for national and planetary security. Unilateral policy holds that such countries should consult only those countries that agree with the action to be taken. Unilateral advocates wish to avoid international organizations and agreements, dismissing them as "entangling". Implicit in this model is the assumption that the economic and military strength of the United States will be sufficient to overwhelm all obstructions to U.S. policy. George W. Bush is the foremost advocate of the Unilateral model. It is supported by the government of the United States.

UNIPOLAR: favored by Wilsonians and Gladstonians, this model assets that the United States, as the leader of the free world, should take whatever actions it deems necessary for national and planetary security. Unipolar advocates advise consulting all relevant countries and using international organizations and agreements as tools for mustering world opinion and strength. Implicit in this model is the assumption that all countries will acknowledge the United States as the world leader, and not attempt to block world actions for national purposes. Tony Blair is the foremost advocate of the Unipolar model. It is supported by the government of Great Britain.

MULTIPOLAR: favored by realpolitikers, Great Power enthusiasts, and anti-American liberals, this model asserts that a balance of powers, such as the European Great Power model (1815-1945) and the Cold War model (1946-1991), is the best model for planetary security. Multipolar advocates believe that planetary security is best acheived my mutual, negotiated consent among Great Powers. Implicit in this model is the assumption that each Power will maintain a "sphere of influence", in which its writ reigns supreme and the other Powers will not interfere. Jacques Chirac is the foremost advocate of the Multipolar model. It is supported by the governments of France, Germany, Russia, and China.

ISOLATIONIST: favored by Chomskyites, libertarians, radical Jacksonians, communists, dictators, and theocrats, this model asserts that each nation should look after its own national interest and ideology first, and that no international policy should be made on planetary security. Isolationist advocates believe that intervention of one nation by another is inherently wrong and only leads to strife, war, and troubles for both intervenee and intervened. Implicit in this model is the assumption that all planetary security problems are caused by interventionist policies, and that if the developed world commits to "beneficial" policies, then planetary security problems will cease. (The "benefiting" party in question varies wildly among ideologies.) Noam Chomsky is the foremost advocate of the Isolationist model. It is supported by the governments of North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, and Syria.

THEOCRATIC: favored by radical Islamists, radical Southern Baptists, elements of the Hindu nationalist party BJP, and the Israeli settlement movement, this model asserts that international policy should be driven by tenets of religious beliefs, and that planetary security is secondary to the primacy of a planetary righteousness. Theocratic advocates believe that nations intervene on behalf of religious ideologies, and that is the goal of every civilization to impose its religious paradigm on the world as far as its strength will allow. Implicit in this model is the assumption that one religious paradigm will eventually reign supreme, and that this paradigm will form a benign, beneficient world order. Osama bin Laden is the foremost advocate of the Theocratic model. It is supported by the governments of Iran and, until recently, Saudi Arabia.

Your humble correspondent is a wholehearted supporter of the Unipolar model. So is Tony Blair. And his speech was a broadside against the other four paradigms.

When he speaks of the threat posed by "a fanatical strain of religious extremism.. a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam," he speaks of the Theocratic model.

When he states that "In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs," he is taking on the Unilateral advocates that cry for conquest and nation-building as the sole response to terrorism.

He attacks the fallacy at the heart of the Isolationist model when he argues, "And we need to say clearly to United Nations members: 'If you engage in the systematic and gross abuse of human rights in defiance of the U.N. charter, you cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges as those that conform to it.'"

And he directly attacks his European Multipolar enemies: "There is no more dangerous theory in international politics than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitive powers; different poles around which nations gather. Such a theory may have made sense in 19th-century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War.Today, it is an anachronism to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous because it is not rivalry but partnership we need; a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat."

I believe that the Unipolar model is the most stable of the five models; it is the most likely to bring peace, security, and prosperity; and it is the model that can bring the Democrats victory in 2004.

But most important of all, it is the most optimistic of the five models. It argues that humans need not resort to dusty books to find instruction, or rely only on our own resources. It argues that we can rise above competition when necessary, and that no nation must navigate the world's troubles alone. The Unipolar model argues for hope: for a unified push towards life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the Four Freedoms, and all the causes that we consider American.

G'Quan wrote: "There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born.
In moments of transition, no-one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us.

We know only that it is always born in pain."

From The Book of G'Kar, Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski

Someone has their priorities straight.
(Link path: Sgt. Stryker, Pejmanesque, King of the Blogs, Andrew Sullivan, MSNBC)

David Kay, the new chief weapons inspector, interviewed by Tom Brokaw.

The standard commentary can be accessed by the links above; it's all been done and I won't rehash it. Instead, let me direct your attention to a little-noticed exchange (emphases mine):

Brokaw: There’s a lot of political pressure on, David.
Kay: You know that’s not what worries me. What worries me is that I know if we can’t explain the WMD program of Iraq, we lose credibility with regard to other states like Iran, Syria, North Korea. I also know I have to worry about where did what was here go? It would be the ultimate national tragedy if in a war to end proliferation, we actually allowed to escape to other states and rogue groups. And thirdly, I strongly believe that we are going to learn lessons that will shape the American intelligence gathering system for a generation ahead off of this. We need to get to the bottom of this so we can draw those lessons.

We yell and scream about bureaucrats so much that it's sometimes hard to remember their great virtue: a good bureaucrat puts their profession first and thinks about more than the next election.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
A well needed public service.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, Fast Company, Charity Navigator)

Have you ever seen a plea for money from a children's charity with cute kids or Hollywood stars, begging for money for the poor? Have you ever thought, "I feel like I ought to give, but I can't tell if these people are theives or not?"

Wonder no more.
The price of liberty.
(Link path: Yahoo/AP)

Let's see. It took four days of ground hostility to rack up 147 deaths in 1991. It took 120 days to rack up 147 deaths in 2003.

I'd say we're doing pretty good.
Outrage of the day: III.
(Link path: CNN)

No sooner do I deliver a Catfish & Cod Deep-Fried Fisking to Pat Robertson than I find that the man's handed me another pound to fry. Well, the griddle's still hot, let's go at it again.

ZAHN: First off, can you clarify for us or confirm who you were talking about? Were you talking about Justices John Paul Stephens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor?

ROBERTSON: That's correct.

Robertson, if you're going to lie to the press about your comments, can you please at least remember that you told the truth earlier in the day?

These are three people -- one's 83 years old, he's been there for an awful long time -- and I think our people are just so tired of this particular accord.

"Our people" being the Southern Baptists and those who agree with them, of course. No one else really counts.

I think they feel it's gotten out of control and we didn't know who else to appeal to, so we're appealing to the judge of all the Earth to see if there might not be some correction.

"Their memory is grevious unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Lord; have mercy on us, Most Merciful Father."

ZAHN: Are you asking your followers to pray for these justices to get sicker?

Well, why else would we start talking about their health problems?

ROBERTSON: Of course not.

Somewhere in his brain, even Robertson realizes that would be un-Christian.

When somebody's 83, it's time to retire and all we're asking is that they do.

I'll be sure to tell you in 2013 that's it's time to retire, Pat. I somehow doubt you will be ready to go then.

You know, the president, for example can only serve two terms. He serves eight years and he's out. The governor of Virginia serves four years and he's out. Our congressmen, many of them, have limited themselves to three terms. The Supreme Court, this particular court, has been in session together longer than any court since I think the 1820s. So it's time to see that changed.

Term limits for justices! Throw the bums out! After all, justices should care more for the whims of the people than the law, right? Right?


ZAHN: Rev. Robertson, you're a student of history and you have to concede here that the Constitution guarantees a lifetime term, does it not?

ROBERTSON: Well, it says they serve for good behavior and everybody has assumed that is for life. There's no question the Constitution gives it to them, but it doesn't mean they have to stay there. Lewis Powell, the distinguished justice from the state of Virginia, retired. Thurgood Marshall retired. Other justices have retired. And I don't see why some of these people can't retire. I'd like to see some fresh blood come in there and primarily conservative judges.

ZAHN: But historically hasn't it been true that when these justices retire it's usually because of ill health?

ROBERTSON: Not necessarily. I think Lewis Powell was in good health, he just decided it was time to get on with it. I believe that, you know, in corporations, many people have mandatory retirements at 65 or 70. I know we don't have that on the court, but nevertheless there comes a time.

Well, sure, people retire all the time. But they certaintly don't do it because tax-evading, biblethumping, money-grubbing hypocrites in backwoods Virginia tell them to.

But there's something more profound in this. This particular court, in my opinion, has turned the Constitution on its ear. It started way back in the '60's and we have had assault after assault after assault on religious values, on other things, and this recent decision, in my opinion, is shocking. It was so broad based. ... And just think, Paula, we've slaughtered something in the neighborhood of 43 million unborn babies because of Roe v. Wade.

Now we see true purpose, Pat. But, you know, you don't get to pick Supreme Court justices. The President does. And you don't get to pick when they retire. The justices themselves do. And you don't get to pick their votes on constitutional issues, either. But I'd bet you'd like to. Most theocrats do.

And I think the American people are tired of this. They want conservative judges.

Translation: I and my friends are tired of this. I want conservative judges. And I and my friends are the only members of the American people that count.

ZAHN: But Rev. Robertson, do you understand why some people are offended, even though you're saying you're not telling your followers to pray for ill health for these three justices, that they could actually interpret it that way.

ROBERTSON: Well they can interpret it any way they want to. I'm talking to God, and it's up to him to make a decision and if some of these folks don't like what I'm praying for and want to pray the other way, have at it? Let the Lord decide.

If Robertson were a man who accepted the Lord's judgement on these matters, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Robertson is such a divisive man precisely because he loudly and publicly keeps giving broad hints to God as to what He should do.

ZAHN: Would it be in your judgment and your definition of prayer, equally appropriate for you to pray for a change in the Constitution that wouldn't allow for a life term on the bench?

ROBERTSON: The possibility of getting a Constitutional amendment of that magnitude through both houses of Congress on a two-thirds vote and then through three quarters of the state legislatures is virtually impossible. I can't understand it.

I do. The Founding Fathers made it difficult to pass Constitutional amendments precisely so that troublemakers like you couldn't change the structure of our nation's government for narrow-minded, short-term poltical goals. I was watching "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" the other night. I never knew until now that it was Anne Boleyn's idea to establish the Church of England and deny papal authority. The Spanish seriously considered going to war over such an insult; dozens of monasteries were shut down; and the structure of England's government and culture was permanently changed. All so one woman could get into the King's bed.

This is the end result of having an easily fungible Constitution.

Paula, the problem is you have five unelected people who are determining what the Constitution is, how it affects all of us, and these people aren't elected. They're accountable to nobody and I'm just saying there needs to be some accountability, that's all.

That's right, Pat, they're unaccountable to anyone who might try to unduly influence their decisions. Like, oh, for example, you.

I've tried constitutional amendments, by the way. We pushed one, big time, back in about 1982. And I had Jim Wright on board and I had Bob Byrd on board and I had the Democrats on board, and there were six Republicans that axed it in the Senate. We had the House of Representatives going for the amendment. This had to do with prayer in the schools.

What does that have to do with term limits for Supreme Court justices?

ZAHN: Just a final question for you and I don't mean this in a rude way at all.


"After all, I am."

ZAHN: When you're talking about prayer, I mean, have you ever prayed for that Constitutional amendment? ... Have you ever prayed for that change?

ROBERTSON: Listen, we prayed, we worked, we lobbied, we did everything we could possibly do and six Republicans blocked it because they said, if these religious people get their way on this one, they'll keep coming back for more.

Wise men. I'll have to look them up one day and send them thank-you cards.

And it was a heartbreaking thing that took place, and as I say, 1982, so I'm at this a long time.

But Paula, I prayed for the downfall of the Soviet Union. I thought that communism, the tyranny of communism, was an abomination and I beseeched God to bring that terrible evil down and he did. It was a great triumph, it took awhile, but it happened.

You know, Pat, so did the Pope and Osama bin Laden. Somehow I think God is going to do what He thinks is best regardless of what you think. This may come as a surprise to you, but He knows what needs to be done a lot better than you do.

Outrage of the day: II.
(Link path: Yahoo/AP)

Pat Robertson, the crazy uncle in the attic of the Republican party, has finally attempted spin control on his outrageous remarks of three days ago. Let's see if he's any good at it:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Thursday he was not talking about any particular Supreme Court justices when he asked his television audience to pray that three liberal justices retire.

No, actually, he's terrible at damage control spin. Time for a Catfish & Cod Deep-Fried Fisking.

First, let's go to the videotape!
"One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"

That's "not talking about any particular justices" for you. After all, there are seven justices that are 83 years old, and all nine have had surgery for colon cancer, right? Right?


Justice John Paul Stevens was born in 1920 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had colon cancer surgery in 1999. The reference to the third jurist was unclear.

But no one doubted that there was a reference to a third jurist. Now that we've established Robertson's pitiful skill at lying, let's look at the rest of the sad tale:

"I don't care which three, I mean as long as the three conservatives stay on," Robertson told reporters after an event at Regent University, which he leads as president and chancellor. "There's six liberals, so it's up to the Lord.

Only in Robertson World are there three conservatives and six liberals on the Court. According to the Master of CBN, only if you vote 100% along Southern Baptist party lines are you "conservative". If you deviate -- even just a little -- you're a "liberal". And as Ann Coulter knows, liberals are the enemy.

"I'm not telling God what to do," he added. "I'm just saying, 'Lord, help us.'"

I'm not certain, but I think Cardinal Richelieu said something similar. The ayatollahs of Iran would, too, if they were honest.

Robertson, as host of "The 700 Club" on his Christian Broadcasting Network, earlier this month began the 21-day "Operation Supreme Court Freedom."

Because the Supreme Court isn't free until Pat Robertson says it is.

He is asking people to pray to God to change the court after its 6-3 decision in June that decriminalized sodomy.

I'm sorry, Robertson, but God is in the bathtub*.

Robertson said in a letter posted on CBN's Web site that the ruling "has opened the door to homosexual marriage, bigamy, legalized prostitution and even incest."

Homosexual marriage I'll grant, but where did all the rest of that come from? Oh, of course, Genesis 18:16 through 19:29. If your nation deviates even a smidgen from the moral codes of the Isrealites, c. 1100 BC, then you're living in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Is the truth too much to pay for moral clarity? Pat Robertson doesn't think so.

* If you don't grok the link, it's the last paragraph on the page.

This is the end result of pussyfooting on the dispatching of peacekeepers.
(Link path: Yahoo/AP)

When peacekeepers are needed, that doesn't mean "come when you feel like it". That doesn't mean "come when it's politically expedient". It doesn't mean "come when people have conformed to your demands." It means peacekeepers are needed, in a potentially explosive situation where the parties won't wait. The difference between life or death for the refugees of Srebrenica was a few hours. The UN dropped the ball in Bosnia, and people died as a result. Has the Administration done the same in Liberia?

It doesn't look good:

With United Nations officials growing increasingly frustrated over delays in sending West African soldiers to enforce a fragile cease-fire in this country, a familiar tableau of terror emerged late this afternoon: the sound of mortar fire on Monrovia's northern outskirts sent weary civilians marching swiftly toward the city, mattresses and clothes piled on their heads...

West African countries have pledged to send between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers but have yet to work out their entry and exit plans. In an interview this afternoon, Gen. Cheick Diarra, deputy executive secretary for the Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, said an assessment team of 10 military officials was scheduled to arrive here on Friday to lay the groundwork for deployment, which would begin in 10 to 15 days...

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations today, the recently named special representative to Liberia, Jacques Klein, called on the West African bloc to mobilize "very, very quickly." Delay, he said, "means no American decision, means no American commitment, means I can't send my assessment team there, which means I can't deploy the U.N. peacekeeping mission that we desperately need."

This is a time when we need that leadership of the free world that Tony Blair talked about before Congress this afternoon. Blair has put his neck on the line to give us the power and international clout to effectively manage crises like Liberia and Sao Tome. The regional organizations, like ECOWAS, can help, and eventually they will be able to manage their own problems. In the meantime, though, they need to be prodded to move. The US can do that -- if they so choose. If we are going to accept the responsibility for international crises, and our actions at the Security Council this winter and spring indicate that we are, then we need to act responsibly.

A sane deficit policy in a recession.
(Link path: Slate)

OK, people, let's review.

Even though our national debt is growing rapidly, at $6.72 trillion and counting, the near-term situation isn't particularly dire.

No, but the long-term situation is. That may not matter to aging baby boomers, but it sure does to Millennial Generation youths, like me.

Last year, interest costs fell to $332 billion (roughly the 1995 total), amounting to only 16.5 percent of total layouts...Indeed, it turns out that taxpayers have been among the largest beneficiaries of the downdraft in interest rates. The Treasury Department constantly refinances its existing debt, replacing old or expired bonds and bills with new bills and notes. And like home owners, it has been able to do so at progressively lower interest rates... Of course, the bias toward short-term borrowing means the Treasury has to roll over debt more frequently, so if rates rise, interest payments could quickly rocket up.

This phenomenon is short-term. I feel certain that Greenspan was not ignorant of the budgetary consequences of low interest rates: according to Keynesian economic theory, governments should increase spending in recessions, so lowering interest rates (and debt service payments) allows the government to spend more. It would actually make sense for the Treasury to refinance as much of the debt as possible, while Greenspan keeps interest rates low: "lock in the mortgage", as the annoying DiTech commercials urge us to do.

The problem with the exploding deficit isn't that we can't afford to service the debt or repay the principal during the next few years. The problem is the Bush administration's faith in a phony solution. The Republicans' conventional wisdom is that once the economy starts growing rapidly again, it will generate the sort of '90s tax revenue gusher that will rebalance the budget by the end of this decade. Tomorrow I'll explain why that hopeful theory is wrong.

Exceedingly rosy budget projections are hardly restricted to this Administration. Does anyone remember the FY 2000 OMB budget projections claiming a $1 trillion surplus by 2005? But the author is wrong on principal payments. Anyone who honestly believes that Congress will choose the long-term investment of debt repayment over the short-term gains of pork barrel spending, please give a loud yell.

[sound of crickets chirping]

I rest my case. Without broad public support, the debt will not be addressed until the load of debt service becomes too much to bear. Then we'll either all buy war bonds, or we'll soak the rich for a couple of years. The alternative -- a default on credit by the United States Treasury -- is unthinkable.
Can we distinguish the issues here?
(Link path: Talking Points Memo)

Josh Marshall's still beating the Bush, hunting for the signs that pressure was applied to reinforce the Administration's aggressive policy on Iraq. But there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what issues are really in question here. Howard Dean is only one of many, many people who can't seem to keep the controversies seperate. So let's go through the issues, "McCatfish Group" style.

Issue One: The Sixteen Words! The press corps has been snorting "BUSH LIED!" vapors as deeply as they can on the drag of Nigerien uranium. But we must be careful to examine precisely what was said. And, as Prime Minister Blair pointed out this afternoon, that assertion is still conisdered true, unless you are openly questioning MI6's veracity. Even George Tenet can't bring himself to accuse his fellow intelligence servicemen of lying.

Issue Two: Spin by the Administration! A wholly seperate charge against the Administration is the spinning of intelligence reports towards the most alarmist possible interpretation. Josh Marshall is right to point out that the NSC and OVP on the one hand, and the CIA and State Department on the other, were at odds over data interpretation. The Administration is far more vulnerable on Issue Two. Most people had some sense that the data were being spun during the run-up to war, a sense relieved only by the authoritative presentation by Colin Powell before the Security Council. The poor treatment of CIA personnel in the process has led to the current CIA/White House political breach. It may be that the sense of vulnerability on spin is what led the White House to unnecessarily surrender ground on Issue One.

Issue Three: No WMD! Adding to the sense of Administration vulnerability is a by-now thoroughly hashed topic: we still haven't found any smoking guns in Iraq. Oh, we've found evidence that the programs were in hibernation, and the raw materials were still stockpiled; we have had inconclusive proof, but nothing unquestionable. As long as no weapons are found, the Administration position looks dodgy. And even if we do find weapons, or evidence thereof, I have no doubt that Administration critics will insist the Iraqi arsenal was too small to be a threat.

Issue Four: The Case for War! Despite the affirmative votes in Congress, many on the left are still unconvinced of the validity of the war. If they base their conclusions solely on WMD claims, they're right; and if Bush had put forth WMD as the sole legitimate cause for war, then Bush would have misled them. But it was the left , along with France the World Power (TM), Germany, and Russia, that insisted on WMD as the test of the war. Bush had plenty of other arguments ready, including al-Qaeda ties, humanitarian and human rights. But no one at the DNC or the UN wanted to listen to those.

Who knows what the real reason for the invasion was? Who knows what plan lurks in the heart of the Administration?

The Shadow knows. But so does Tony Blair:

There is a myth, That though we love freedom, others don't, that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture. That freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values. That Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban. That Saddam was beloved by his people. That Milosevic was Serbia's saviour.

Ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit and anywhere, any time, ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same. Freedom not tyranny. Democracy not dictatorship. The rule of law not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defence and our first line of attack.

Just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea and that that idea is liberty. We must find the strength to fight for this idea; and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said: those that deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves. It is a sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty...

Can we be sure that terrorism and WMD will join together? Let us say one thing. If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right as I believe with every fibre of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in face of this menace, when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive.

(all emphases mine)

Blair on the second piece of intelligence
(Link path: The White House)

At today's 5:30 press conference in the front hall of the People's Mansion... (all emphasis mine)

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: First of all, before I answer the question you put to me about other countries helping us, let me just say this on the issue to do with Africa and uranium. The British intelligence that we had we believe is genuine. We stand by that intelligence. And one interesting fact I think people don't generally know, in case people should think that the whole idea of a link between Iraq and Niger was some invention, in the 1980s we know for sure that Iraq purchased round about 270 tons of uranium from Niger. So I think we should just factor that into our thinking there.

Analysis: The Prime Minister strongly implies (although he doesn't definitely state) that the second piece of intelligence does not refer to the eighties purchases.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: On your other point, Adam, the issue here is very, very simple. The whole debate, for weeks, revolved around a claim that either I or a member of my staff had effectively inserted intelligence into the dossier we put before the British people against the wishes of the intelligence services. Now, that is a serious charge. It never was true. Everybody now knows that that charge is untrue. And all we are saying is, those who made that charge should simply accept that it is untrue. It's as simple as that.

Analysis: But the Washington press, both liberals and conservatives, have been ignoring this fact for days. Only today, with Blair's live public comments, were these ideas injected into the public consciousness. Will they form a substantative part of the debate? Will anyone investigate the truth of Britain's claims? Stay tuned.

THE PRIME MINISTER: If I can just correct you on one thing. I certainly did not say that I would be proved wrong. On the contrary; I said with every fiber of instinct and conviction I believe that we are right. And let me just say this one other thing to you, because sometimes, again, in the debate in the past few weeks, it's as if, prior to the early part of this year, the issue of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction were some sort of unknown quantity, and on the basis of some speculative intelligence, we go off and take action...

The history of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction is a 12-year history, and is a history of him using the weapons, developing the weapons, and concealing the weapons, and not complying with the United Nations inspectors who were trying to shut down his programs. And I simply say -- which is why I totally agree with the President -- it's important we wait for the Iraq survey group to complete their work. Because the proposition that actually he was not developing such weapons and such programs rests on this rather extraordinary proposition that, having for years obstructed the United Nations inspectors and concealed his programs, having finally effectively got rid of them in December '98, he then took all the problems and sanctions and action upon himself, voluntarily destroyed them but just didn't tell anyone. I don't think that's very likely as a proposition. I really don't.

Analysis: reduction ad absurdum. If Saddam really had forsaken weapons development forever, he could have simply shown everything, and that would have been that. The Administration, having founded their case on WMD back in September 2002, would have been completely stymied.
Can we negotiate a peaceful end to the Sao Tome crisis?
(Link path: Voice of America)

The Sao Tome military stands to lose half a million dollars in US money if they don't back down. But that's for the navy and coast guard, not the army. The World Bank is stopping aid donations immediately, but that may not matter too much either. The Sao Tomean army has appealed for better living conditions, and it's not the first time. But somehow I doubt that the Army budget is the only motivation for the coup.

Meanwhile, somebody's itching for a Sao Tome invasion. It may be a threat to the coup leaders, or a chance to show that the African Union is more than dictator coddlers and tissue-paper treaties. Major Pereira had appalling timing: an AU summit is currently underway on the continent. But when "it's all about the oooooiillll", deeper motives can always be suspected. The US is understandably cool on the idea of military intervention by anyone. For the sake of democracy in Sao Tome, it will be far better to negotiate this fellow out of his newfound fame and fortune -- if we can. The irony: not one barrel of oil has even been proved, much less pumped.

On a more positive note: three ministers (or should we say "former ministers"?) have been released, if only to take a shower and get new clothes. Ahh, civilized thuggery. If only the rest of the world were so chivalrous!
On a lighter note: Sao Tome anagrams!
(kudos to Internet Anagram Server)

We'll get back to the serious situation in Sao Tome in a moment, but first, let's rattle the tea leaves and rearrange SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE for our divining pleasure...

Why does Neo fight for the Sao Tomeans?
He's genetically programmed to.
A new slogan for the University of Sao Tome Physics Department.
In junta-led societies, heavy crackdowns have been known to occur.
Intrigue often runs high in socities where might is right.
An argument for larger budgets in the Health Ministry.
Many juntas soon learn that running a country is more challenging, and more stressful, than they imagined.
After all, if the US Navy is nearby, there won't be any more chances for a coup attempt.
...and the other eighty Portugese tourists trapped on the island.
If "Pop" is the President, I'd say that's a fair description of the whole affair.

AOL divorces Netscape
(Link path: Yahoo/PC World/IDG)

The cries of "Netscape is doomed!" coming from the article above are misplaced. Netscape is actually being spun off into a nonprofit organization. The real work on browser design has been in Mozilla for several years now, with Netscape lingering only as a brand name. In fact, Netscape was always just a brand name: Netscape 1.0 was an outright clone of the first web browser, NCSA Mosaic.

However, it is true that AOL-Time-Warner-Turner-Yap!.com is making a gradual strategic shift away from browser development. It appears that AOL management hopes others will join and eventually take the lead on Mozilla development. The Mozilla Foundation is obviously patterned after the Apache Foundation and other successful open-source foundations, and it looks like the open-source community will be supporting it.

And let's face it. Netscape wasn't making squat in terms of the AOL-Time-Warner-Turner behemoth. The whole point of the AOL/Netscape buyout was to integrate Netscape into the AOL experience, an endeavour which has run its course. The world has subdivided: Microsoft and Apple run IE, Linux and other Unixes run Mozilla. Why try to sell Netscape for money anymore?
Who's behind the coup in Sao Tome?

The Foreign Minister thinks it was South Africa. On the other hand, South African President Mbeki says he wants to restore the old government. Nigeria wants to lead a military expedition of their own -- a way to re-negotiate that offshore oil deal with Sao Tome?

The coup leader, under international pressure, says he plans to call new elections. Public opinion seems to support the coup, but tentatively. People remember the threat of economic sanctions in 1995, and island countries are particularly vulnerable to such threats.

Previously: This can't be good...
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The FBI is on the case!
(Link path: CNN)

Someone in the Administration is ready to blame someone else. (Whether that's proper or not remains to be seen, and depends primarily on what MI6 is holding.) The FBI is now investigating, not within the administration, but to find the document forger(s) and how this document came to the CIA. This could either be a wild goose chase, or the biggest international scandal since the XYZ Affair.

Whatever the tru7h, we now have a timeline of the flow of information to the CIA:

1) Receipt of the forgeries by the Italians: November 2001.
2) The report to various intelligence agencies: late 2001 or early 2002.
3) Receipt of the forgeries by the U.S. embassy in Rome: October 2002. Please note that the documents were not given away by the Italians themselves, but via a journalist. Intentional leak, or a US intelligence coup?
4) Receipt of the forgeries at CIA HQ: February 2003, after bouncing through the CIA Rome station and/or the State Department.

The passage of the documents through the Rome embassy explains how the State Department came to its own conclusions regarding the forgeries. In addition, it turns out the Italians are not technically lying when they say that the forgeries did not come from them: they didn't directly hand them over, a journalist did that for them...

I feel certain that more is to come.

Previously on Uraniumgate at C&C:
Professor, something doesn't add up here.
When exactly were these Nigerian uranium deals?
Beaten to the punch!
Spin to the left, spin to the right...
What does Italy know?
Another good reason to release...
Interference in domestic politics...

Whew. Even I can't completely keep up with what I've written.
Professor, something doesn't add up here.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, Times of London)

Multiple questions arise on the question of the Niger documents. Everyone now knows about the false documents that started the entire row. Whatever one may say about Slate's opinion pieces on the affair, their investigative reporting has been well done. A perusal of past articles assembled by Jack Shafer makes the origin of the false documents clear:

1) In November, 2001, the forged documents (probably produced at Niger's embassy in Rome) made their way to the Italian intelligence service.

2) The Italians, who are fooled by the forgery, write up a summary and deliver it to several other governments' intelligence agencies, including the CIA (USA) and MI6 (Britain). The DGSE (France) may also have been informed at this time.

3) At some point, US European Command is informed of these developments, perhaps via the CIA, perhaps not. General Fulford is dispatched to investigate. Making official inquiries in association with the embassy, he finds the uranium mines overseen by a French-led consortium who reports to the IAEA. Satisfied, he returns to Europe and reports to Gen. Myers, head of the Joint Chiefs.

4) The CIA, noting inconsistencies, is dubious about the documents' veracity. It dispatches Ambassador Wilson, who makes the same inquiries as the General did several weeks earlier, and receives the same answers. His report to the CIA confirms in their minds that no Niger uranium sales took place.

5) The Office of the Vice-President and the NSC, seeking material against Iraq, enquire to the CIA about proof of uranium sales. They receive a negative response. As a result, the uranium claim is removed from the October speech.

6) Between October and January, the OVP or the NSC learn that Britain continues to stand by their claim that uranium sales did, in fact, take place. Faced with such a report, and due to extreme pressure by OVP and NSC, the CIA reluctantly agrees to allow the British uranium claim to remain in the State of the Union address.

However, a serious question remains. Of all the intelligence services that have spoken on the issue (US, Britain, Italy), only Britain continues to support the truth of the uranium claims. They state that additional, more trustworthy evidence of the sales exist. However, they have not revealed their evidence to other countries, at French behest, it is believed.

Now, the question arises: what evidence do the British have? All we know is that MI6 believes it, it probably came from France, and the French are probably blocking access to it. Speculation in the Blogosphere currently holds that the evidence implicates the French themselves. But if the French are the sole villians in this drama, why would they hand damning evidence to MI6?

A more likely scenario is possible: the French are covering for someone else. According to Ambassador Wilson, multiple other countries have interests in the mines: Spain, Germany, Japan, and Nigeria. Is it implausible to think that one of these countries might sneak uranium out for third-party sale? Especially a certain country that has been known, in recent years, to make other sub-rosa agreements with France?
This can't be good: Another day, another coup.
(Link path: CNN)

"It was not immediately clear why the military seized power", says CNN. Well, let's see: oil was just discovered offshore. No one can agree who to hire to pump the oil, and the president recently dissolved parliament and started making deals himself. At a guess, I'd say:


Or rather, the petrodollars that will be flowing into numbered Swiss bank accounts in a very short time. Maybe the US should invade -- at least that way CNN would be able to understand what's happening.

"The apparent coup leader, Major Fernando Pereira, spoke on national radio on Wednesday and called on members of parliament and the government to gather at the police headquarters."

What, so you can be shot or thrown in the gulag? Well, I suppose this will rid the coup leaders of all the gullible leaders...

Here's a question: how big is the Army of Sao Tome? And what precisely do you need with an army at all, in a country of 170,000 on a pair of islands in the Atlantic?

UPDATE: An old Time magazine milestone page states that the Sao Tome army numbers six hundred souls, and that this is not the first coup attempt. The article also indicates that economic pressure may be able to effect a return to democratic rule if the State Department and their European Union counterparts are quick on the ball. Such a move may give the US and EU an "in" to start talking oil contracts...

UPDATE TWO: A warm welcome to visitors from Winds of Change, and a thanks to Dan Darling for our first inbound link!

The CIA World Factbook has tons of data on this little known country in the Atlantic, just off Nigeria. Among many interesting tibdits: $400,000 was spent in FY 2001 on the Sao Tome military. Yes, for only $400,000, you too can have your own oil plutocracy!

To be fair, it actually looks like a fairly nice place, with mountains, good seaports, and nice weather. It has a long history of European interaction, with the typical African-nation history: colonization, then communism, then democracy, with the occasional coup. Its primary problem was a dependence on cocoa exports for international trade, a dependence lifted by the discovery of oil. One can see why the US Navy wanted a base there. Now if only they can get their government straightened out...

The coup has caused the usual protests from world powers. The ousted president agrees: It's all about the oil. But I'm not sure that foreign invasion is a good reaction to the coup, as Nigeria seems to think. (Please note that one of the reasons for the unpopularity of the newly ousted president is his suspected ties to Nigeria.) Predictably, the coup leaders have denied political aspirations, but several reports suggest that the coup is tied to an out-of-power political party that might think otherwise. Concern exists over the fate of the cabinet, who are being held together, but the military says they might be released today.

Finally, the Baltimore Sun argues that the best fix would be to build the proposed Navy base. I think they might be right.

More at C&C: Who's behind the coup in Sao Tome?
When exactly were these Nigerian uranium deals?
(Link path: Front Page Magazine)

Could these intelligence reports about Iraqi entreaties to the Nigerians really be from the 80's? Hard to say -- but it certainly would undercut the "urgency" part of the President's case for war, wouldn't it?

Of course, the real "urgency" was the strategic goal of improving the Arab world's economy and alleviating one of the three primary reasons young Arab men listen to the militants. (The others being repression at home and state-sponsored anti-Semitism.) But the war would never have passed the UN on those grounds. A successful case could have been made on humanitarian grounds, but the French argued that the "humanitarian" thing to do was to give the dictator a free hand. Thanks for the stab in the back, Chirac.
Andrew Sullivan doesn't like our budget policy.
(Link path: Andrew Sullivan)

As well he shouldn't. A five trillion dollar debt was astounding, but I thought he had the slightest chance of paying it off over, say, fifty years. A ten trillion dollar debt simply can't be paid off, and that's where we're headed. If any major banker gets it into their head that the "full faith and credit of the United States" isn't all it's cracked up to be, what happens?

The only reason we're not already in trouble is that Greenspan has set interest rates so low. Japan is locked in a loop: it can't admit its staggering debt, for the economy would collapse; so interest rates stayed locked at zero, and investment stays low, year after weary year. Is this the fate of the United States? Stay tuned.
Tell it like it is II: the Israeli point of view.
(Link path: the Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism, Meryl Yourish, Jewish World Review)

The Footballs can't pull a representative quote out of this one. I can:

In the contemporary world, the world of human rights, when you call a person a right-winger, this is the first step toward his or her delegitimization.

The scary thing is when you listen to Fox News and realize that the converse is also true: if you call a person a left-winger, they are well on their way to being de-legitimized as well.

In the South, we used to have this archaic tradition called an "honorable opponent". What happened to it everywhere else?

The Left blessed the Jews as the victim "par excellence," always a great partner in the struggle for the rights of the weak against the wicked. In return for being coddled, published, filmed, considered artists, intellectuals and moral judges, Jews, even during the Soviet anti-Semitic persecutions, gave the Left moral support and invited it to cry with them at Holocaust memorials. Today the game is clearly over...

The Jews that survived Nazi-fascist persecution, the persecution of the Right, created a socialist state inspired by the values of the Left, work and collectivism, and by doing so, again sanctified the Left as the shelter of the victims. In exchange for this, the Jews were granted legitimization...look at the passionate and paternalistic tone of the Bologna professors, as they seem to plead: "Come back, our dear Jews. Be ours again. Let us curse Israel together and than take a trip together to the Holocaust memorials"...

Because the left has a precise idea of what a Jew must be, when Jews don't match its prescription, they ask: How do you dare being different from the Jew I ordered you to be? Fighting against terrorism? Electing Sharon? Are you crazy?...

This is only the most egregious effect of the Left's foreign policy logic (the egregiousness, as the author correctly states, is due to anti-Semitism). But the pattern is the same everywhere. The Left only defends "victim" cultures. It only attacks "imperialist" ones. When neither a victim nor an oppressor is apparent, the Left doesn't care: it might even uphold the government at the expense of the common people. (Example: Zimbabwe.) The great masses of humanity are not especially victimized or oppressed as the Left defines those terms. So Europe and the NGOs leaves them, by and large, to starve in poverty.

In the case of Israel, the Jews were once a "victim" culture, and so supported. But after the '67 war, the Left discovered new "victims" in the Palestinians, and saw Israel associate itself with the U.S., an "imperalist" culture. Therefore, Israel was "imperialist" and proper to attack. And with nothing to stop it, European anti-Semitism started to grow again. (Arab anti-Semitism, which was taught to the Arabs by Europeans in the interbellum period, never died out at all.)

No quotes can do the piece full justice. The phrase is now trite and overused, but you really should read the whole thing.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Obligate unknowns.
(Link path: Andrew Sullivan, The Guardian)

Salam Pax sez:

No stars. Oh well, it's a small thing, it doesn't matter. I am happy, we all are. The general sentiment is: "Yes, of course we know it is not a real government, but it is a start." The mix is right; they just have to work more on the choice of characters, and they need a massive PR campaign. People just don't know who they are, especially the women.

At least Salam is willing to give them a chance. The Beeb and other leftist media just complain that they don't know who the new principals are, and that they're therefore stooges.

We don't know who the real leaders of Iraq are. Saddam made sure that no one within Iraq found out! Anyone famous in Iraq right now is an exile, or someone who knows an exile. No one else has had time to make a name yet. The purpose of the IGC is to provide a somewhat representative and stable government until the real leaders can emerge. The non-famous members might be real Iraqi leaders that we just never met before. Or they might be stooges, as conspirologists believe. Let's sit back, watch, and find out, eh?
How rude!
(Link path: Boston Globe)

Look. You're free to protest all you want. But interfering with a sporting match in order to make your political point is just sad. You couldn't just protest by the side of the road, or near a TV camera, no, no. You had to make everyone's day miserable.

If blocking roads is considered proper political expression in France, what's next? Highway robbery?

The sad thing is that Jose Bove has a point: we do need public debate on GM foods and their impact on the economy and the environment. But burning crops, attacking restaraunts, and bringing the Tour de France to a halt is not the way to do it. Bove would do better to read Heinlein than Bakunin. Professor Bernado de la Paz would never stand for such a thing.
The gaping hole at center-left.
(Link path: TAPPED, Time)

This is purely anecdotal, but Tapped can think of a dozen or so non-Washingtonian (albeit East Coaster) friends and aquaintances like the woman Klein quotes. All used to be squishy, almost apolitical moderates -- default Democrats, in a sense -- who, during the past three years, have become increasingly angry at the direction in which our politics is headed. All of them really despise Bush. Whatever else happens, Tapped hopes that establishment Dems recognize that the anger out there isn't necessarily left-wing anger. It's much broader than that. And whoever is the nominee needs to figure out a way to best harness it.

The cameras are coming: II
(Link path: Slashdot, Village Voice, Defense Tech)

DARPA is now working on Combat Zones That See: a project aimed at creating the long-envisioned panopticon. With CTS, any government agency could figure out where any person or vehicle is at any time. There is no way this is intended for military applications, with the possible exception of peacekeeping. (In most parts of the world that need peacekeeping, the parts would be stolen in the first week after installation). No, this is a Homeland Security project, intended for use right here in the U.S.A.

I expect the Voice to oppose the development of CTS. But that may miss the point of Shachtman's article. If all CTS takes is some programming glue and parts from Amazon, anyone could build it: corporations, non-profits, the UN, whoever. Perhaps David Brin has a better answer: let everyone see what's on the cameras, and be sure the cameras are trained on those who control their installation and use.
Beaten to the punch!
(via King of the Blogs)

Junkyard Blog just wrote my next post for me.
Spin to the left, spin to the right, jack-jaw, jack-jaw, fight, fight, fight!

While the left cries out against the Bush whopper, and the right hits back, no one asks: is the claim true or not?

In the public eyes, both sides seem to agree that the information is false. Why? Because both sides are acting as if it is. But there's another explanation: that the Administration intelligence corps don't know the truth themselves, and are dissembling out of ignorance, not shame. I find it just as easy -- even easier-- to believe that Bush and his people have been idiots as to believe that "BUSH LIED!" (as everyone seems to be screaming).

In the meantime, keep your eyes on MI6; if anyone has the goods, they do. An "accidental" leak from Whitehall would be timely at this juncture...
What does Italy know?
(Link path: ChronWatch, News.com.au/Agente France-Presse, Financial Times)

Whitehall says that France and Italy provided the real intelligence on Niger uranium. But Italy's playing dumb. The FT blames the IAEA for discrediting MI6's intelligence, but it turns out that the IAEA's in the dark for the same reason as the CIA: withholding of the crucial documents.

France, we know, is withholding their information, and they may have reason: the intelligence may actually be about France. But why is Italy hiding?

UPDATE: Jack Shafer at Slate says multiple sources report that Italy was the original source of the forged documents! Apparently, Italian intelligence received the documents from a forger at the Niger Embassy in Rome, at a time when the Iraqi ambassador to Rome was touring Niger.

So the Italian connection seems to be bogus. But once again: what other evidence do the British have? Why are they still supporting the claim when the CIA won't?
Another good reason to release the British intelligence on Niger's uranium.
(Link path: Reuters)

Her Majesty's Government believes in the intelligence, but Her Majesty's subjects don't. Is this reason enough to tell people what you know, despite French insistence that you don't? Or would it simply be enough to inform people that the secrecy is at French behest?
Who's the deficit scapegoat?
(Link path: Like Kryptonite to Stupid; Yahoo/Reuters)

Yes, Oliver, we're running debts now. That's because we're at war. In war these things happen.

The reason it's devestating that we're running deficits is because we had a tre-mendous $6 x 10^12 debt even before Old Sammy's Bin Ladles. And that's the fault of Reagan and Bush 41. Clinton only controlled the damage that had already been done.

Eh. The debt won't be repaid; it can't be, now. The real question is, how long will the banks play along before they stop buying T-bills and crash the world financial system? That's when all hell will break loose.
Interference in domestic politics: Intelligence matters.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, London Telegraph)

There's more going on here than meets the eye. Why does the CIA doubt British intelligence? Surely the Brits know their stuff; after all, they taught our intelligence services how to operate back in WWII. If MI6 is holding firm, even in the face of American public skepticism, then perhaps they really do have more then they're letting on. But, again: why does the CIA brass doubt it? Have they invested enough resources to be sure? Are they covering for their Agency compatriots? Or is something deeper occurring?

Then, there is the matter of the forged documents. Who forged them? If the forged documents were all that existed, any pro-war advocate might have forged them, and suspicion would lay heavy on the Administration. But if the forged documents existed to divert the trail from real documents, then it is likely that an anti-war advocate produced them, so as to discredit the idea that Iraq was buying uranium. The Mukhabarat, who would have to be mad to produce these documents in a no-purchase scenario, suddenly become a suspect. The KGB (oh, I'm sorry, I mean the Federal Security Service) might have done it, too. And who else is both devious enough to forge intelligence and so staunchly anti-war that they had a motive to do so?

If the above report is true, and the French are behind it all, there will really be hell to pay between France and the Administration.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall reports that US European Command was in Niger ahead of the CIA. But where did this un-named "high-ranking official" get his intelligence? (These guys don't head off to Niger for vacations, you know.) Was the DIA ahead of the CIA? Or was USEUCOM tipped off by MI6? Stay tuned.

UPDATE TWO: The Washington Post names the General, one Carlton W. Fulford, Jr. , who investigated Niger's uranium stocks on 24 Feburary 2002 "at the request of the U.S. ambassador". How often are four-star generals called upon to fly 4000 miles to personally verify uranium stocks? Not too terribly often, I'll bet.

"Given the time frame of 16 months ago, information concerning Iraq not obtaining uranium from Niger would not have been as pressing as other subjects," says the spokesman for the joint chiefs. Nonsense. Why all the hustle and the bustle from the Armed Forces, the CIA, MI6, everyone? Someone felt, at that time at least, that there was a good chance Niger's uranium was headed for Iraq. Who? And why?

Another good question: when exactly were these forged documents received? How about the documents MI6 purports to have, but can't share?

And finally: the French are the ones actually stockpiling the uranium. This wouldn't be the same French that are blocking our access to intelligence about the yellowcake, now would it?
Steering currents.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, The New Republic)

The piece linked above is correct, as far as it goes. The most vocal foreign policy advocates on the Left do indeed concentrate more on the injustices of U.S. influences than actual problems in the world. But the question begged by the article remains: why? Whence cometh this foreign-policy myopia?

Here are some ideas:

1) The Chomskyite belief that the United States is the Source of All Evil. Note that Chomsky didn't start as an America-basher; he began by trying to point out that America was not as lily-white as propagandists of the '50s and '60s claimed. But over the years, Chomskyism has developed into the belief that everything America touches, withers. Chomskyism is supported by

2) The Baran-Wallenstein formulation of Marxism, which holds that capitalism operates by sucking economic value away from the Third World (formerly, colonies). This concept, symbiotic with that of "U.S. imperialism", holds that capitalism only exists by having overseas markets to exploit. Under this creed, the U.S. is not only a exploiter of, but the cause of poverty in the Third World. If the U.S. causes poverty, then, is it not logical that U.S. power should be reduced, so that the world is enriched?

3) Furthermore, as capitalist nations produce most of the world's weapons, it is held that U.S. influence distributes weapons. The U.S., then, is the cause of war under the far-Left doctrine. Should the U.S. not be reduced in power, that peace may reign? (Never mind that Europe, Israel, Russia, China, and North Korea also distribute weapons).

4) The lingering sense that American culture is somehow inferior to European culture. Many rationales have been proposed for this thesis, but all have proved groundless. A common thread to these rationales: We're an older and therefore wiser culture! We were here first! The current rationale is mixed up with the three principles listed above, which have as their common base the sentiment that capitalism, or one of its corollary phenomena, is morally wrong.

5) None of these would necessarily be of harm to the mainstream Left except that the Democratic Party has for some time now considered foreign policy as an extension of domestic policy. The last President to propose substantiative, progressive foreign policy measures was John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson was too busy fighting Vietnam and pushing the Great Society to bother; Carter didn't have his head screwed on tight enough; and Clinton, well, was Clinton. Clinton was the only recent Democratic presidential candidate to even espouse an active Democratic foreign policy. But as Clinton's in the doghouse right now, and deservedly so, any policies that might be considered Clintonian go right down the drain.

6) No one in the Democratic mainstream has proposed a serious alternative policy. There are no calls for strength with morals, or pro-active leadership with an international component. Any such calls that are made start with "negotiating with France and Russia", which is seen as impugnent and faintly disgraceful at the present time. No memes have been set up that give people a sense of security while at the same time upholding moderate Democratic ideals. Until those memes are generated, and broadcast, the public will see the vocal Leftists as the only alternative to the Republican party line.

and, last but not least, 7) Unreconstructed Communists. I didn't even believe such existed until I came to Boston. But here they are, "centers for Marxist education". Some people concentrate on US policy because, long, long ago, they were programmed to do so by the Soviet hierarchy. They'll die out eventually, of course; but in the meantime, believe it or not, they form a core of organizational skill that's nucleated most of the anti-war protests to date. Of course they're going to direct protests toward America-bashing; that's all they know to do.
Outrage of the day.
(Link path: CNN/AP)

Pat Robertson is a two-timing, double dealing, meddling, immoral, dictator-supporting, biblethumping idiotarian.

But that's not all, my friends. No. He has to use religion to interfere with the state.

"So let's all pray for three Supreme Court Justices to retire so that the new justices will support my policies, with a broad hint that I speak for all the Christian right! Can you hear our prayers in Washington? No? Fine, we'll pray harder! Send those donations in now! A bloody dictator in Liberia is counting on you!"
Portents of the New Holy Roman Empire: II.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, London Telegraph)

Let's talk about France's real commitment to the EU.

Moves to formally consign the EU's stability and growth pact to the dustbin gathered pace yesterday as French president Jacques Chirac called for it to be suspended, brushing aside the rigid spending code established by treaty law to ensure the long-term survival of monetary union.

And whose idea were those rigid spending codes, hmmm?

Speaking in his annual Bastille Day interview, M Chirac demanded "provisional ways of easing" the pact in order to prevent the eurozone slipping further into an economic slump.

His comments follow moves by Italy's six-month presidency of the EU to kick-start the European economy with a "Soft Keynesian" package of public works schemes modelled on Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s. The money would be raised off-budget to evade the pact's deficit ceiling of 3pc of GDP.

Another indication that the EU spending rules are trash. France is right to want to pitch them overside. But then, why is my tone critical of France? Read on, my dears, read on:

The Italian finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, has proposed an extra Eu25 billion a year in EU spending on roads, trains, bridges and tunnels, much of it funded by the European Investment Bank, which is already the world's biggest lender.

"We are no longer in a banal economic cycle; we're facing a very different economic scenario," he said, calling for emergency counter-measures.

Very much in the spirit of European unity that we keep hearing about from Paris, right? Right?

France is already facing censure for its defiant breach of the spending rules. The French deficit was 3.1pc in 2002 and is almost certain to be over 3.5pc this year, and yet M Chirac has vowed to press ahead with tax cuts and costly plans to build a new aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines.

So not only is Chirac pushing for a larger military, but he's willing to sacrifice European unity to do it! And there's more. Aircraft carriers and nuclear subs are not the tools necessary for peacekeeping, homeland defense, or force protection, the roles so cherished by EU boosters. They are for force projection, for asserting your power overseas, and ultimately for enforcing policy on the world.

If there are still any doubts that France wants to challenge the United States for leadership of the world, these moves should dispell them.

Germany is in even worse shape, facing three consecutive years over the deficit ceiling, but has tried harder to retrench in order to uphold the credibility of the rules - which it first imposed on everybody else as a condition for giving up the Deutschmark.

Oh yeah, that was who came up with this ridiculous idea. Turns out Germany doesn't like deficit ceilings any more than the next guy.

Portugal was the first eurozone state to break the limits after a disastrous credit boom turned to bust last year.

Everybody's breaking the spending quotas, you see. But most EU states are using their deficit spending to prop up the economy. France, on the other hand, considers its military more important.

Standard & Poor's warned last week that it would downgrade the credit rating of eurozone governments if fiscal discipline slipped any further. The agency said that states were behaving as if they were still sovereign borrowers, failing to recognise that default risk is much greater now they have given up power to issue currency.

Either the EU is a federal superstate, or it isn't. Europe can't have it both ways, not in the manner they've had it up until now. A deal must be made on powersharing between the European and national governments, or the whole charade will fall apart, and soon.

Most US states are obliged by law to run balanced budgets because history has shown how vulnerable they can be in a currency union where they no longer have an escape-valve.

And the states are really, really hurting right now because of it. As Europe and Israel said when we were attacked: Welcome to our problems, boys and girls.

Ernst Welteke, president of the German Bundesbank and a key member of the ECB board, has also warned that the stability pact is too lax rather than too strict, saying it was crucial to punish governments for any deviation before they backed themselves into a cul-de-sac.

Like I said, you can't have it both ways. Either the EU makes economic policy or the nations do. If both governments have one end of the rope, they will pull and pull until one side gives, or the rope falls apart.

The ECB said the eurozone's pensions "time-bomb" makes it doubly vulnerable to slippage in public finances, insisting that the only way to boost the region's economic speed limit is through reform of the labour markets.

Ahh, the elephant in the room. One of France's many delusions is the idea that its welfare state can go on forever. It can't, and neither can Europe's (nor America's). If the French government can't stop kowtowing to every labor movement in the streets, the French economy will go straight down the drain.

But France isn't thinking too hard about that right now: she's too busy asserting itself as a World Power (TM). And here's the danger to the EU. France is in the "inner circle" of nations that are strong Euro-boosters. The French government cajoles, pleads, bribes, and even threatens its fellow European governments into following EU dictates. Yet, a disturbing pattern is beginning to emerge. France, since she considers herself a World Power (TM), feels no need to follow those nasty EU dictates herself, and does whatever she pleases. After all, what's good for France is good for the world, right?

And then they accuse America of self-interest...

Brainless urban transportation boosters.
(Link path: Boston Globe)

Who comes up with ideas like the North-South Rail Link?

Gentlemen, let us reason with one another. After fifteen -- fifteen -- years, the city is finally seeing the light at the end of the Big Dig tunnel. The Artery will be pulled down starting in September. Everyone is looking forward to having a downtown that isn't a construction zone 24/7. And you want to start digging again?

Not. Going. To. Happen. Not short of 2050 or so, when they start thinking about the hover-way to replace the Dig.

If you really want trains to go between North and South Station, guys, there's a rail already set aside for that purpose. I've crossed it numerous times. It runs out of North Station, around the Charlestown/Somerville yards to Sullivan Square, through Cambridge just west of Lechmere and just north of MIT, across the Charles at the BU Bridge, and so to the MetroWest lines aligned along the Pike headed for South Station. Sure, it takes a few more minutes to go around the long way, but it's far far cheaper and can actually be done.

And -- hey -- isn't that part of the corridor for the Urban Ring, too? Maybe you should talk to those guys about combining the two plans into one. I, for one, would love service from Kendall (actually, Lewin) Square to, say, Fenway Station, which is underused right now...
That's not the point, guys.
(Link path: The Corner, Wired Magazine)

The Corner, inexplicably, defends Total Information Awareness:

According to Wired magazine, John Poindexter’s Terrorism Information Awareness program – formerly the Total Information Awareness program – appears dead, killed by a Senate committee... Critics on the left and right have called TIA an attempt to impose Big Brother on Americans. The program would use advanced data-mining tools and a mammoth database to find patterns of terrorist activities in electronic data trails left behind by everyday life.

The proposed TIA program was never as much of a threat to civil liberties as its critics suggested, and the potential merits were considerable. Most of the critics never understood that the technology is fairly straightforward and it’s easy to prevent against abuse...

Whether TIA itself was a threat as this Administration conceived it is not the point at all. TIA represented a completely new government power -- panopticon data gathering -- that no one believed was truly necessary for the purposes for which it was conceived. Perhaps TIA is easily muzzled. I'm somewhat of a skeptic on that. But one day, we may have an Administration which removes the muzzle, or forces it off, or talks it off in response to some new threat to America. And then where will we be?

The real threat is the meme that TIA represented. The idea that the government can use public computers and data as spy tools in domestic environments, collect whatever data it wants on you, and feel free to collate it and search it at their pleasure, is dangerous. Congress rose up in a broad, bipartisan manner to strangle TIA in its cradle. Whenever Congress acts in a united manner, you know they have a very good reason.
Monday, July 14, 2003
Portents of the New Holy Roman Empire.
(Link path: Boston Globe/AP)

What does it say when a German general leads the Bastille Day parade?

It means French nationalism is no longer exactly French nationalism.

In a gesture of European unity, a German general headed France's Bastille Day military parade Monday for the first time...Bastille Day, the equivalent of July 4 in the United States, commemorates the storming of Paris' Bastille prison by angry crowds in 1789, sparking the French Revolution that rid France of its monarchy...

Gen. Holger Kammerhoff opened the march by leading 120 troops from the five-nation Eurocorps down the famed avenue to the Place de la Concorde, underscoring the close ties between France and Germany and the goal of closer European unity. Germany fought two wars with France in the last century. The Eurocorps, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, was created a decade ago and includes 70,000 soldiers who will likely form the core of any future joint European army...

Recognize the importance of symbolism here. The effort to create European unity is now of equal importance with French nationalism and history. Soon, I suspect, it will surpass it. Until twenty years ago, the idea of a German general leading French troops down the Champs Elysees would have been deeply abhorrent. Now, no one bats an eye.

In a wide-ranging television interview Monday, Chirac vowed to stick to plans to increase military spending in the coming years, saying "the threats to world security reinforce the choice France has made."

What choice is that, Chirac? The choice to re-arm, or the choice to oppose the United States?

The government has approved a budget for this year that raises defense spending by about $980 million. France, along with Britain, has one of the most powerful armies in Europe.

Living as I do in a country with military spending of over four hundred times that figure, allow me to be suitably unimpressed.

Chirac also defended his government's political and economic reforms that have brought thousands of angry workers, artists and others into the streets, causing massive disruption. "In a situation such as we are witnessing, the only solution is to adapt" to the changing world, Chirac said.

The government is pressing ahead with plans to overhaul France's costly retirement system and has also proposed cutting special unemployment benefits given to artists and technicians -- prompting the cancellation of several major summer arts festivals.

Now that really is revolutionary. Since the uprisings of '68, France and like-minded European powers have been in steady pursuit of an ever-larger and ever-more-generous welfare state. Now Chirac is reversing the trend for -- what? A military buildup? And while conspiring to unify the French army with the German, Belgian, and other armies, too. Remember, France and Germany both opposed intervention in Iraq. France preferred to use the French Foreign Legion to intervene in former colonies. Germany considers herself pacifist and won't fight at all. If the pro-EU states don't want to go picking fights, what precisely is Chirac beefing up European strength for?
Ahh, that's the problem.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, UPI)

I read the Beeb regularly; I get far more international news, delivered in a timely manner, from them than any established American news source. (How America is completely self-absorbed, while being the most diverse and international society in history, continues to amaze me.) Despite my regular readership, I get annoyed at the Beeb from time to time for its completely obvious Euro-Liberal spin on all stories.

Take the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council. Some media accounts tell of both positive and negative spins among the Iraqi people. Please note that this particular story is from Radio Free Europe. A US-funded outlet would be the prime suspect for a whitewash; yet they broadcast comments from both sides!

Now read the Beeb's story. Check especially the lists of "optimists", i.e., those that support the governing council, and "pessimists", i.e., those that oppose it. While the Beeb doesn't draw definitive lines around either group, who do they tally in which corner?

Pro-IGC: "the members of the council themselves; the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which has pulled the council together; and the governments that desperately want to see Iraq emerge as a independent democratic state. "

Anti-IGC: "many ordinary Iraqis and analysts".

In other words, the US and its allies (who they explicitly lump with the members of the council later in the article) are the only people favoring the council plan; the ordinary Iraqis, who agree perfectly with the Beeb's analysts (of course!), are dead set against it. The Beeb doesn't exclude the possibility that there are ordinary Iraqis that support the council, or that certain Administration elements or governments oppose it. But the slant is definitely towards a certain viewpoint: "The US is imposing a puppet state against the will of the Iraqi people!"

Is this charge true? Perhaps so, and perhaps not. The point is that I knew in advance that the Beeb would slant their article in this way regardless of the true situation in Iraq. Whether things are fantastic or terrible, the Beeb will always tell you that the US is failing. As a straight reporter of facts, the Beeb is still totally reliable; but as a barometer of the situation, they're now useless. I'll take Salam Pax any day over a predictable rag.

It's sad, and I couldn't understand how such an honorable journalistic organ, respected worldwide, sank to this level. Then I read this, and finally understood why the Republicans cut NPR loose from its federal support. NPR is definitely liberal now; but at least it's truly responsive to its audience and its funding, which are one and the same. The Beeb isn't true to either, and it will cost them. I hope they find it in their hearts to reclaim their journalistic integrity, or their financial independence, or both. They'll need at least one of the two to survive.

"The cameras are coming: We're everywhere -- for your convienence."
(Link path: A Voyage to Arcturus, I, Cringely)

This is beyond scary. This is Orwellian. Your phone can be bugged without anyone -- FBI, phone company, anyone -- knowing. The mechanism for state, corporate, mafia, or even self-enacted terror is already in place. Who will control it? Not the government; not corporations; certaintly not the individual operators of switching stations. What hubris!

On the other hand, it's just like David Brin's admonition that the cameras are coming: the wiretaps are coming, too. Brin advocates making "the cameras", such as those currently enforcing traffic laws, a public resource useable (and monitorable) by all. Would that work for telephones too? Is a telephone public or private?
Now that's a different spin.
(link path: King of the Blogs, Tacitus, allAfrica.com, New Vision of Kampala, Uganda)

First Leon Harris' documentary on modern Africa on CNN last night, and now this.

I swear, I honestly had never thought of slavery in the South in the terms used by the writer:

Well, someone could be quick to add that it was Americans who enslaved Africans in the first place. Granted. But we should not also forget that it was mainly under American masters that African slaves at least survived and eventually took their place under the sun.

African slaves were equally taken in huge numbers to the Arab world, but where are they today? Wouldn't black people in the Arab world be in millions? Where are the Arab Colin Powells, Condoleezza Rices, Rosa Whitakers, who would be walking the corridors of power? Is it true that male African slaves in the Arab world were castrated to deny them reproduction?

The survival of the African slaves to become part of modern America explains one key aspect in the strength of the United States. Sticking to its roots as a land of immigrants, the United States absorbs people from other parts of the world with ease as its citizens.

Whoa. Kind of puts a different spin on both the white and the black stories of the horrors of American slavery, doesn't it?

I'm going to have to go off and think now. A lot.