Saturday, April 12, 2003



A Syrian national (or someone with a Syria ID card) shot and killed a Marine in an apparent terrorist attack at a medical center checkpoint, according to Central Command.

It's a safe bet that there will be more details to come.





In case you missed it, Late Show with David Letterman ran the Top Ten Things Iraq's Information Minister Has To Say About The War

Number 10?

"We're pulling down the statues of Saddam to have them cleaned"

The number of SARS cases in the U.S. now appears to be holding steady.

And the more information that comes in, the less scary the whole thing seems:

Of the 166 persons with suspected SARS, 154 (93%) had traveled within the 10 days before illness onset to one or more of the areas listed in the case definition, nine (5%) had household contact with a person with suspected SARS, and three (2%) were health-care workers (HCWs) who had provided medical care to a patient with suspected SARS.

CNN is now reporting that Number 55 in the deck of cards, Saddam Hussein's top scientific advisor, has turned himself in to Coalition forces.

According to CNN, No. 55 is denying - still - Iraq has any WMD. No indication whether his public statements are being written by the Iraqi Information Minister.

Al Jazeera's English language web site has the following headline at this hour:

Baghdad, Mosul and Basra suffer the joys of liberation

The story goes on to say (according to a summary; the full stories aren't translated yet):

Hospitals, universities, banks and shops are being looted, Geneva Conventions are now conveniently forgotten.

As opposed to the Geneva Convention rules against shooting prisoners of war, execution-style, at point blank range, which Al Jazeera "conveniently" forgot two weeks ago when they broadcast video footage of those Iraqi atrocities to the world. I mean, why worry about that when we've got so much more serious war crimes, like Iraqi farmers helping themselves to Tariq Aziz' copy of Mario Puzo's "The Godfather." Oh, the humanity.


Top 10 Moments of the War:

10. Greg Kelly of Fox News telling a disbelieving Greta Van Sustern, "We're in Baghdad."
9. A man in Arabic robes sodomizing a large painting of Saddam, for the benefit of T.V. cameras.
8. Baghdad Bob's final appearances
7. Brig. General Vincent Brooks holding up the deck of cards with 55 members of Saddam's regime, who are each targeted by the coalition.
6. Torrie Clarke scolding a reporter who called the war "a show."
5. Maj. General John Abizaid scolding an al Jazeera reporter in Arabic
4. The rescue of children from an Iraqi prison
3. The rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch
2. The toppling of the Saddam Statue
1. Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!
MerdeinFrance has another winner today:

"3 cases of arson in a same area inside of a few minutes. Is this Baghdad? No, it's sweet, sweet France."

Everyone is chiming in on CNN chief Eason Jordan's revelations that the network covered up Iraqi atrocities to 1) protect the lives of more innocent Iraqis and 2) to maintain a presence in Baghdad.

Why did CNN need a presence in Baghdad? After the Gulf War, can anyone seriously remember one piece of important journalism that came out of CNN's presence there? One, single, important story - just one? Covering Saddam Hussein's birthday party doesn't count.

The only real story in Baghdad during CNN"s tenure there (until this war) was the one that it decided not to cover.

Happy Fun Pundit has this bulletin -

This Just In: The State of California Is Insane

With all of the focus and attention on the "looting" and "lawlessness" in Iraq, Ralph Peters makes this point in today's New York Post:

But the incidents of which the media makes so much today, from looting to local resistance, are vastly preferable to the problems so many pundits predicted just one week ago, before our troops entered Baghdad.

Central Command has released its "Deck of Cards" - the names of the 55 Saddam Hussein henchmen that can be shot on site.

April 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-04-112


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


IRAQI TOP 55

IRAQI TOP 55

This document is an unclassified, releasable list of the top 55 most wanted members of the Iraqi Regime. It has bee coordinated with Headquarters, US Central Command.

Name--Position
1. Sadddam Hussein--President of Iraq/CINC of Military
2. Qusay Hussein--SSO, SRG & RGFC Commander
3. Uday Hussein--Saddam Fedayeen Commander
4. Abid Hamid Mahmud Al Tikriti--Presidential Secretary (WMD Release Authority)
5. Al Hasan Majid--Pres. Advisor, Fmr South Reg Cmdr
6. Izzat Ibrahim al Duri--Vice Chair of the RCC, North Reg Cmdr
7. Hani Abd Latif Tilfa al Tikriti--SSO Director
8. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan Tikriti--RG Secretary
9. Barzan Abd Ghafur Sulayman al Tikriti--SRG Commander
10. Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al Tikriti--Air Defense Force Commander
11. Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al Sattar Muhammad al Tikriti--Armed Forces Chief of Staff
12. Sayf al Din Fulayyih Hassan Taha al Rawi--RGFC Chief
13. Rafi Abd Latif al Tilfah--DGS Director
14. Tahir Jalil Habbush al Tikriti--IIS Director
15. Hamid Raja Shalah al Tikriti--Air Force Commander
16. Abd al Tawab Mullah Huwaysh--OMI Director (WMD Production)
17. Aziz Salih Numan--BP Regional Cmdr/Cmdr BP Militia - Reg Cmd
18. Muhammad Hazmaq al Zubaydi--Central Euphrates Reg Cmdr
19. Sultan Hashim Ahmad al Tal--Minister of Defense
20. Ayad Futayyih Khalifa al Rawi--Al Quds Force Chief of Staff
21. Zuhayr Talib Abd al Sattar al Naqib--DMI Director
22. Abd al Baqi abd Karim al Sadun*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Baghdad*
23. Muhammad Zimam Abd al-Razzaq al Sadun*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Ta'mim & Ninawa Gov*
24. Samir abd al Aziz al Najm*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Diyal Gov.*
25. Yahya Abdallah al Ubaydi*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Basrah Gov.*
26. Nayif Shindakh Thamir*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Salah ad Din Gov.*
27. Sayfal al Din al Mashhadani*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Muthanna Gov.*
28. Fadil Mahmud Gharib*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Babil/Karbala Gov.*
29. Muhsin Khadar al Khafaji*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Qadasiyah Gov.*
30. Rashid Taan Kazim*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Anbar Governate*
31. Ugla Abid Sighar al-Kubaysi*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Maysan Governate*
32. Ghazi Hamud al Adib*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Wasit Gov.*
33. Adil Abdallah Mahdi al Duri al Tikriti*--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Dhi Qar Governate*
34. Husayn Al Awawi--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Ninawa Governate*
35. Khamis Sirhan al Muhammad--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Karbala Governate*
36. Sad Abd al Majid al-Faysal--BP Chmn & Cmdr BP Militia - Salah ad Din Gov.*
37. Latif Nussayif Jasim al Dulaymi--Dep Chmn Baath Party
38. Taha Yasin Ramadan--Vice President
39. Rukan Razuki abd Al Ghaful Sulayman al Tikriti--Chief of Tribal Affairs
40. Jamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al Tikriti--Deputy Chief of Tribal Affairs
41. Mizban Khidir Hadi--RCC Member, Reg CDR Central Euphrates Region
42. Taha Muhyl al Din Maruf--Vice President and RCC Member
43. Tariq Aziz--Deputy Prime Minister
44. Walid Hamid Tawfiq al-Tikriti--Governor of Basrah Governate
45. Hikmat al Azzawi--Dep Prime Minister, Economics & Finance Min.
46. Mahmud Dhiyab al Ahmad--Minister of the Interior
47. Amir Rashid Muhammad al Ubaydi--Former Oil Minister
48. Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih--Minister of Trade
49. Husam Muhammad al-Yasin--National Monitoring Director
50. Sabawi Ibrahim--Baath Party, Saddam Maternal Half Brother
51. Watban Ibrahim Hasan al Tikriti--Baath Party, Saddam Half Brother
52. Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al Tikriti--Baath Party, Saddam Half Brother
53. Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash--Party Youth & Trade Bureau Chairman
54. Humam Abd al-Khaliq Abd al-Ghafur--Min of Higher Education & Scientific Research
55. Amir Hamudi Hasan al-Sadi--Presidential Scientific Adviser/NMD Dir Gen

-30-

Friday, April 11, 2003


Last weekend, as coalition troops were sweeping into Baghdad on one half of the screen, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift was on the other side of the screen telling Fox News Channel's Neal Cavuto that she didn't think the war was going well.

Now Clift has decided to just change the subject, in her latest column:

The real test for Bush will come on the economy, she says.
Can You Hear My Canned Stump Speech Now?

Howard Dean now has a "voice mail and text" outreach program, where his campaign (and possibly even him!) will call your cell phone and leave messages. No word on whether the campaign will use caller ID blocking, however.


The Presidential Endorsement Parade is getting an early start this cycle. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D.-Conn., says he now has these endorsements from House members including congressmen Dennis Cardoza (CA), Brad Carson (OK), Ed Case (HI), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Cal Dooley (CA), Eliot Engel (NY), John Larson (CT), William Lipinski (IL), Steven Rothman (NJ) Ellen Tauscher (CA), Robert Wexler (FL).

Though early, the congressional endorsements actually could count, if none of them change their minds between now and the Democratic National Convention next year in Boston. Congressmen are usually granted "super delegate" status, meaning they are named delegates to the convention regardless of how individual primaries turn out. That would give Lieberman 11 delegates already. By contrast, New Hampshire - which has the first-in-the-nation state primary - sent 22 delegates in total to the 2000 Democratic National Convention.



Sen. John Edwards, who is running for president, has made firing the FBI from the war on terror a campaign platform. Here is how Robert Mueller, the FBI director, sees the bureau's record on terror of late, according to recent congressional testimony:

The prevention of another terrorist attack remains the FBI's top priority. We are thoroughly committed to identifying and dismantling terrorist networks, and I am pleased to report that our efforts have yielded major successes over the past 17 months. Over 212 suspected terrorists have been charged with crimes, 108 of whom have been convicted to date. Some are well-known -- including Zacarias Moussaoui, John Walker Lindh and Richard Reid. But, let me give you just a few recent examples:

* In March, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was located by Pakistani officials and is in custody of the US at an undisclosed location. Mr. Mohammed was a key planner and the mastermind of the September 11th attack. Since the arrest, the FBI worked with other agencies to disrupt his financial network in the UAE and Pakistan and we are continuing to get extremely valuable information from him.
* On March 16, Abdullah al-Kidd, a US native and former University of Idaho football player, was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport en route to Saudi Arabia. The FBI arrested three other men in the Idaho probe in recent weeks. And the FBI is examining links between the Idaho men and purported charities and individuals in six other jurisdictions across the country.
* In February, members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including Professor Sami Al-Arian, were arrested by the FBI and charged under Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations with operating a racketeering enterprise from 1984 until the present that engaged in violent activities.
* Six individuals in Portland, Oregon, were arrested by the FBI and charged with conspiracy to join al Qaeda and Taliban forces fighting against US and allied soldiers in Afghanistan. All six have entered plea negotiations.
* And, in Buffalo, the FBI arrested seven al-Qaeda associates and sympathizers. These individuals, members of a suspected sleeper cell, were indicted in September 2002 for providing material support to terrorism.


You spend every day, month after month, bashing the government in a high-profile Web log for a rush to an unnecessary war. You spend every day of that war bashing the government, in a high-profile Web log, for how they're fighting the war. Then, the war suddenly ends, and people in another country are kissing big pictures of the president to thank him for waging that war. And instead of spending the day bashing the government, in your high-profile Web log, for waging the war, you write about...Lou Reed.

Well, maybe not you. But that's what happened to Eric Alterman. After a lot (a LOT) of criticism for writing nothing about Baghdad Liberation Day ON Baghdad Liberation Day, Alterman scratched back at the critics.

But there is something disturbingly Stalinist about one Weblogger instructing another Weblogger in public about what is proper — and improper — as a topic of the day. And I think everyone’s lives would be improved if people minded their own business. It’s one thing to criticize something a person has said or done. It’s quite another to attack them for what they haven’t.

Alterman has a high-profile Web log. (It's carried by MSNBC.) Not writing about the war on April 9 would be like a sports columnist criticizing the New York Yankees, day after day, game after game, and then, the day they win the World Series, writing about...Lou Reed.




For those interested in how much Halliburton makes from its government contracts to rebuild Iraq: You're in luck. The Senate yesterday passed "the Kohl Amendment" to the special appropriations bill to support the war, and it includes this passage:

SA 438. Mrs. CLINTON (for herself and Mr. LEAHY) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by her to the bill S. 762, making supplemental appropriations to support Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Department of Homeland Security, and Related Efforts for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

On page __, between lines __ and __, insert the following:

SEC. __. REPORTING REQUIREMENT.

(a) IN GENERAL.--Any Federal agency, including the Department of Defense and the Agency for International Development, which contracts with a private company for a reconstruction project in Iraq shall submit a report to Congress not later than 30 days after the execution each such contract if--

(1) the amount of the contract is greater than $10,000,000; and

(2) the procurement process underlying the contract was not subject to standard competitive bidding procedures.

(b) CONTENTS.--The report required under subsection (a) shall include--

(1) the terms of the contract;

(2) the reasons the agency did not use standard competitive bidding procedures; and

(3) a description of how the agency identified and solicited companies to perform the functions required by the contract.


The amendment passed, 66-27.


Thursday, April 10, 2003


Suddenly, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan - who never criticized Iraqi torture, rape, theft, imprisonment of children, etc., etc. - is concerned about the well-being of Iraqis now that Saddam Hussein is gone and they have been liberated:

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, this morning a spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in Amman that the occupying forces – the US and the UK – were violating the Geneva Conventions by their inaction in allowing lawlessness and chaos and looting to go on? Is that a violation of the Convention? What should they be doing to clear up the situation?

SG: Let me first say that from what we have seen in the reports it appears there is no functioning government in Iraq at the moment. We also saw the scenes of jubilation, but of course when you think of the casualties - both military and civilian - the Iraqis have paid a heavy price for this. We have also seen scenes of looting, and obviously law and order must be a major concern.

Regarding your question I think the [Security] Council has also reaffirmed that the Hague Regulation and the Geneva Conventions apply to this conflict and that the coalition has a responsibility for the welfare of the people in this area. And I am sure that will be respected.


Having Uday Hussein commit serial rape under protection of the government wasn't a problem for Kofi Annan. Having Chemical Ali give acid baths to Iraqi women was no biggie. Knowing that Iraq put children who didn't enlist in the Saddam Youth into prisons didn't make him flinch. But seeing Iraqis pumping their fists as they roll Tariq Aziz' office equipment down a sidewalk - that's just downright inhumane, says the Nobel laureate.




Freshman Republican Sen. Norm Coleman wound up backtracking this week from remarks he made about his predecessor, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.

First Coleman said he was a "99 percent improvement" over Wellstone, then issued an apologetic statement saying it was an "unnecessary remark."

John Edwards, the North Carolina Senate Democrat who is running for president, added his two cents.

Neither senator had any official comments on the U.S. winning the war against Iraq.




Again, Jerry Capeci has a great story on the plea of Vincent (the Chin) Gigante.

Reps. Neil Abercrombie an Zoe Lofgren, and Se. Patrick Leahy are endorsing Howard Dean for president, according to the Dean campaign blog.

The number of SARS cases in the U.S. is up to 166, according to the CDC.

Debate Recap

Democrats running for president held a debate last night. Not much new ground was broken, but here are some highlights I picked up:

- Sen. John Edwards wants to fire the FBI from the war on terrorism;
- Sen. John Kerry wants Democrats to stop being afraid of being Democrats;
- Howard Dean thinks gun control isn't a good idea for Vermont, but could be a good idea for New York City;
- The Rev. Al Sharpton thinks too much emphasis might be placed on traditional families;
- Carol Mosely Braun is just happy to sit on the podium with all of the other candidates;
- Sen. Joseph Lieberman is going to praise the Clinton-Gore administration a lot during the campaign;
- Rep. Dennis Kucinich wouldn't oppose a single social program brought to his desk if he was president. Not a one.



Howard Dean opposed the war, but he's got a seven-point plan for "winning the peace."

Those points are:

* A NATO-led coalition should maintain order and guarantee disarmament.
* Civilian authority in Iraq should be transferred to an international body approved by the U.N. Security Council.
* The U.N.'s Oil for Food program should be transformed into an Oil for Recovery program, to pay part of the costs of reconstruction and transition.
* The U.S. should convene an international donor's conference to help finance the financial burden of paying for Iraq's recovery.
* Women should participate in every aspect of the decision-making process.
* A means should be established to prosecute crimes committed against the Iraqi people by individuals associated with Saddam Hussein's regime.
* A democratic transition will take between 18 to 24 months, although troops should expect to be in Iraq for a longer period.



Rep. Dennis Kucinich wants to create a cabinet-level "Department of Peace."

Here's what he said when he introduced this proposal on the floor of the House:


[Congressional Record: April 8, 2003 (House)]
[Page H2870]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr08ap03-70]




OFFICE OF PEACE

(Mr. KUCINICH asked and was given permission to address the House for
1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. KUCINICH. Madam Speaker, in a moment I will introduce legislation
with 46 cosponsors to create a Department-level office of peace and the
Department of Peace is introduced at this moment when it seems that war
is inevitable, when our troops are in the streets of Baghdad, when
members of the administration talk about the possibility of invasion of
Iran and the possibility of invasion of Syria.
This is the moment when we need to ask whether war is inevitable or
not. This is the moment when a Department of Peace can take steps to
making nonviolence an organizing principle in our society and when we
can create a structure in our government where we can strive to make
war itself archaic.
Forty-seven Members of Congress have put their names on this
legislation because we are at a moment in the history of our Nation and
in the world where we need to be asking questions. Is war inevitable?
Forty-seven Members of Congress say no. Is peace inevitable? The answer
must be yes.

____________________



It's only natural that a major war would overshadow other news. However, the Baton Rouge serial killer case is one of the more disturbing domestic stories out there. Now police are backing up their investigation to look at a 3-year old murder.

According to Gallup, 76 percent of Americans, as of yesterday, thought going to war was worth it. Some 19 percent still thought it wasn't worth it. And, surprisingly, there's an even split (just about) among Americans over whether we should control Iraq until a new government is created, or let the U.N. do it. But most of those who think the U.N. would do it would support President Bush anyway if he thinks we should.
"With one phone call, we can start an uprising."

The Kurds are ready to finish taking the north of Iraq.

Janeane Garafolo could lose a sit-com over her anti-war positions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003


What really happened to Saddam & Sons? HappyFunPundit may have the answer.
Seventy-five percent of U.S.-born Hispanics support the war in Iraq.

That, then, explains the following Washington Post headline:

Hispanics Split Over War in Iraq

The "split," The Post explains, is that most foreign-born Hispanics (51 percent) support the war, while most U.S.-born Hispanics (75 percent) support the war. Oh. That split.


Bad news for Rummy haters. According to the Gallup people:

The most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Americans give a positive evaluation of the job Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing. Most Americans also rate the Defense Department's war plan as either "excellent" or "good." While some political observers have criticized Rumsfeld as being too heavily involved in the details of U.S. military action in Iraq, two out of three Americans say he is doing more to help than to hurt the war efforts.

The poll, conducted Apr. 5-6, finds 71% of Americans approving, and 21% disapproving, of Rumsfeld's handling of his job as Secretary of Defense. Perhaps not coincidentally, Rumsfeld's approval rating is similar to overall support for the war with Iraq (70%), as well as President Bush's overall job approval rating (70%), and the approval rating of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation (71%).


On CNN, they are now showing images of Iraqi citizens dancing in the streets of Baghdad and looting goverment buildings. One guy was wheeling an office chair down the sidewalk and smiling from ear to ear.

Please, can we have just one more briefing this morning from the Iraqi Information Minister? Would that be too much to ask?



In the Howard Dean campaign's most recent blog entry, he takes a shot at President Bush's handling of the economy (and points to an L.A. Times story noting the country has 2 million fewer jobs than on inauguration day, 2001.) Dean then refers to a speech he gave on March 15, in which he said:

"I was Governor for so long that I got to serve through not one but two Bush recessions. And in Vermont, I was very proud to balance the budget. We balanced the budget; we set money aside in a "rainy-day fund"; we paid down almost a quarter of our debt. The reason that is important is because it is hard to fund social justice without a balanced budget, which is why this President doesn't have one.

"In our state, our budget is still balanced and we are not cutting higher education, we are not cutting K-12, and we are not cutting health care for kids. That's what we need in this country. I am a Governor, and I have done it."


Dean was governor of a state with 608,000 people. Almost all of those people are white. The state budget is about $3 billion. Dean did not run for re-election, but when he stepped down, voters decided to give the job to a Republican instead of Dean's lieutenant governor.

I've never been honored on the floor of the House of Representatives. By the way, the House of Representatives is also known as "The People's House." So why this?:


[Congressional Record: April 7, 2003 (Extensions)]
[Page E688]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr07ap03-13]




IN HONOR OF TEDDY, A BULL MASTIFF FROM SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

______


HON. LORETTA SANCHEZ

of california

in the house of representatives

Monday, April 7, 2003

Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay
tribute to Teddy, a bull mastiff from Santa Ana, for winning Best of
Breed at the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, which
was held on February 10 and 11, 2003.
The Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show was initiated 120 years ago to
increase an interest in dogs, and thus improve the breeds. The dog show
lasts 2 days and is held annually in New York City.
The competition features entries from every state and many from
Canada and other countries as well. Approximately a quarter of a
million dogs have been in competition at Westminister's shows.
Teddy was among 2,500 dogs that participated in this year's show.
As a pet owner and animal lover, I truly appreciate the love and joy
that animals provide.
I am very proud of Teddy and owner Carol Beans for their wonderful
achievement. I wish them continued success in future competitions.

____________________


Tuesday, April 08, 2003


Mary Matalin, on the Sean Hannity radio show, offered an interesting nugget: The Bush Administration's idea to allow "embedded journalists" on the front lines with U.S. troops came from Torie Clarke, the assistant secretary for Defense and the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman.

A Drafty New Hampshire Primary?

Last weekend, the "Draft Gore" movement had a representative speak to attendees of the New Hampshire state Democratic Convention - trying to keep hope alive that their preferred candidate, former Vice President Al Gore, will change his mind and entere the 2004 presidential sweepstakes.

Heartened by surveys that show Gore would easily outpoll either Howard Dean or Sen. John Kerry in the first-in-the-nation primary next year, the Draft Gore folks are intent on pulling their man into the race, a la Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

"Draft Gore 2004 is a call to arms to our fellow American citizens to
join us in nominating a candidate of our choosing," writes Eva Ritchey, a member of the "Draft Gore 2004 Committee," in an email discussing the effort. "We are hopeful for
success and indeed have already tasted a measure of it," she said referring to polls showing Gore still maintains a degree of strength in New Hampshire. Ritchey says Monica Friedlander, a California Democratic activist, and Becky Knight, of Gore's home state of Tennessee, started the Draft Gore movement just after New Year's.

Gore, for his part, seems to be settling in to a non-political life and last month joined the board of Apple Computer. But on the Draft Gore web site, , his unrequited supporters are, among other things, attempting to start a letter-writing campaign designed to make him re-think his career change.

"We now are comprised of thousands of individuals nationwide who believe
that Mr. Gore is the candidate most qualified to lead this country into
the 21st century," Ritchey said. "There are many challenges facing this country that
his background and long years of public service uniquely qualifiy him to
address. He has the head, heart and energy to lead America to a
sustainable future."

Though the Gore supporters point to Eisenhower as a candidate who changed his mind and accepted a draft after winning the New Hampshire primary in 1952, more recent draft movements haven't gone so well - including efforts to pull Mario Cuomo into the race in '92.

It would also remain to be seen how Gore would fair a second time around to President Bush, who now sports a 70 percent approval rating.







President Bush's job approval rating is holding steady, about about 70 percent, according to the latest Gallup numbers. And about 70 percent still approve of the war in Iraq (56 percent approve of it "strongly.") Some 27 percent oppose the war (19 percent oppose "strongly.")

Despite mixed reports about the reactions of Iraqi citizens to U.S. forces, most Americans are optimistic that once the United States actually takes control, Iraqis will view the United States in a positive light.

By a margin of 66% to 27%, Americans believe that Iraqi civilians who live in Baghdad will treat the U.S. troops as liberators rather than invaders. Americans are also optimistic that Iraqis outside of Baghdad, who live in areas where there has been fighting, will treat U.S. soldiers as liberators (58%) rather than invaders (36%).


And despite the fact that Coalition forces have apparently found weapons of mass destruction, that they've found torture chambers and piles of corpses, and despite the fact that the Iraqis have begun to cheer Coalition forces, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times puts it another way:

President Bush's determination to sell the U.S., and its product of the season — the war in Iraq — to a skeptical Muslim world is evident here in Qatar, a flat expanse of desert that peeps out of the turquoise waters of the gulf. Telegenic generals like Vincent Brooks were chosen to be the congenial face of the American Imperium, the briefings are translated simultaneously into Arabic, and Al Jazeera was assigned a front-row seat for the briefings (The New York Times is in the second row).

The gist of Kristof's piece is that the U.S. has been waging a propaganda war at its daily briefings, from President Bush down to General Brooks, and that the country has "created" a large global coalition through bluster. Kristof doesn't explain how the other large coalition - the 70 percent of Americans who support the war (56 percent "strongly") - was created. There are only so many front seats.




Monday, April 07, 2003



The Senate is holding the following hearing tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see whether the witnesses pump up or calm down the fear over SARS:

Tuesday, Apr. 8, 2003
9 a.m.
Appropriations
Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Subcommittee
To hold hearings to examine the global AIDS
crisis and the recent emergence of Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome; to be followed by hearings
to examine proposed budget estimates for the
National Institute of Health.
SD-192

The latest Howard Dean campaign email to supporters takes a shot at his Democratic opponents for being unable to rally as many supporters to campaign gatherings as he has:

As of 1:00 pm today, over 13,350 Dean supporters have signed up to Meetup for Dean, and thousands of them met last Wednesday in hundreds of cities across the country. We are only about 200 people away from becoming the largest Meetup for any topic! By way of comparison, the Kerry Meetup has only 790 people signed up; Edwards has 522 members, and Gephardt has less than 100.

Like Kerry, Dean is declining - at this point - to take any shots at President Bush. But, unlike Kerry, Dean is taking shots at people he's actually running against.


One wonders if Sen. John Kerry will repeat his call for "regime change" in the U.S., amid video of Marines uncovering steel drums and warheads filled with sarin and mustard gas, amid video of British troops uncovering torture chambers and poorly kept war morgues, and amid video of Iraqis waving American flags and calling thumbs up for "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy."

In any event, the Kerry campaign sent out this email to supporters this afternoon:

Dear Friend,

This past week was a busy one on the campaign trail - John Kerry
traveled to New Hampshire and Georgia, took on Tom Delay and Rush Limbaugh, addressed
the New York State Teacher's Union in Washington. The Kerry campaign also released its
first quarter fundraising results - we'd like to thank the thousands of supporters
who contributed, demonstrating how the excitement and enthusiasm around John Kerry's
candidacy is building rapidly.


Interestingly, while taking credit for "taking on Tom Delay and Rush Limbaugh," Kerry did not repeat for supporters his "regime change" message that was directed at President Bush. He did not take credit for "taking on" President Bush. Rather than running this stage of the campaign against other Democrats, he's rying to run against a talk radio host and a conservative congressman who's not running for president.

“The 1st MEF is kicking ass today, so we’re happy.”

The pool report of General Tommy Franks' foray into Iraq - for the first time since the war began - seems to put the lie to last week's reports of a Rumsfield-Franks falling out over war strategy. According to the pool report, Franks' observation of where Coalition troops are positioned, compared with the U.S. objectives, leaves little room for debate. Here is an excerpt of the pool report (a report by one reporter who accompanied Franks from Kuwait to Iraq and back, who wrote up notes and distributed them to other reporters):

“Do you want to see the context of what’s going on?” (Franks) said. The photographs had been overlaid with blue shapes showing the positions of American Army and Marine units in and around the capital. One of the maps, known as a Combined Operating Picture, showed the city ringed in blue.
“Baghdad is completely isolated by U.S. combat units,” General Franks said.
A second picture showed a miles-long line of blue rectangles moving from the south into the heart of the city. The shapes represented the Marine brigade that moved into Baghdad early today to seize the Ministry of Information and the Presidential Palace.
General Franks, a satisfied smile on his face, folded up the photos and returned to his cabin at the back of the plane.


"So much for Donald Rumsfeld's flawed war plan,"writes the Wall Street Journal in its editorial today.

The Journal makes its case that Tony Blair, the U.S. and the rest of the Coalition shouldn't give in to temptations to give France a piece of the Iraq-Rebuilding pie, in the name of "patching up" relations.

As video images of U.S. soldiers readying to fly the Stars and Stripes outside a Saddam Hussein palace come across the screen, it could further be argued that even if we lost France as an ally, we're gaining a reformed Iraq, with is new-government in waiting, as another ally - in a strategically important region with the potential to become a beneficial trading partner.



"I do believe this city is freakin' ours."

Fox News is showing video phone footage of the gold fixtures on Saddam Hussein's toilet, sink and bidet.


Well, turns out Chemical Ali is both dead and homeless.

Not only that, but CNN is now showing video footage of U.S. troops - soldiers on a tank - outside a presidential palace in Baghdad.

The press is now waiting its daily briefing from the Iraqi information minister, who will report that the Saddam Hussein regime is chopping off the heads of all Coalition forces.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Though there weren't an awful lot of headlines about it, the U.S. Senate confirmed Timothy Tymkovich to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week. It was a 58 to 41 vote, and Tymkovich was confirmed almost two years after he was nominated. Tymkovich was the Colorado state solicitor when a ballot initiative was under consideration there that would recall anti-sex orientation discrimination laws. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ballot initiative was unconstitutional, rejecting arguments Tymkovich made in its behalf.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Minnesota, voted to reject the nomination and said, from the floor of the Senate:

I am concerned that it is his personal belief--his
personal belief--that gay Americans do not have a right to equal
protection and equal justice under the laws, and he did not convince me
he would put aside those personal beliefs when he becomes a judge.


It's still not clear whether the Senate will even vote on other controversial nominees by President Bush to the federal bench. After Tymkovich was confirmed last week, the Senate continued to maintain its filibuster on the Miguel Estrada nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court, by a 55 to 44 vote. The Republicans need five more votes to break that logjam.




Jerry Capeci's Gangland News column is a blockbuster: Genovese Crime Family Boss Vincent (the Chin) Gigante will admit his goofy psychiatric defense on a series of criminal charges has been just an act.

Findlaw.com has PDF copies of several of the RIAA lawsuits against college students (from campuses including Princeton, RPI and Michigan Technological University) as part of their anti-file swapping campaign.


Daily Pundit is worth the visit, if only for the hilarious banner at the top.


Gary Hart appears intent on letting it rip. In his most recent blog entry, the past and future candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination talks up ideas for a UN or "UN Plus" peacekeeping force, how to unite Americans during times when we're not fighting a war, and his own "Principled Engagement" proposal as a guide book for American conduct at home and abroad. But he also takes a shot at his own Demoratic party:

The Democratic party has not offered a great idea for more than a quarter century and we risk permanent minority status because of it.




This Kuwaiti blog item (by way of The Agonist):

A warm welcome for British troops in the center of Basra, with men, women and children cheering them on and jumping up and down in celebration. Troops say they've encountered little resistance. I wonder if this will make the news on Al-Jazeera.

Apparently, though, not 100 percent of Iraqi's in Basra were cheering. Remaining members of the Saddam Fedayeen and Ba'ath Party had taken a new tactic, according to a British military officer quoted in this story:

"There have been instances where Fedayeen fighters wearing the black suits and red head-dresses have picked up a child to give themselves cover after firing at us.

"As we advanced into Basra today they favoured a new tactic -- playing dead.

"There were several instances where we passed what appeared to be bodies lying in bunker positions only for them to spring up and attack us after we passed by."


More than half of all states now have suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), with a total of 115 cases, according to the Center for Disease Controle. Ralph Paterson's blog has some good information and links on SARS, and tries to put into perspective what would happen if the infection rate hits five percent of the population:

If SARS gets to the threshold on the bell curve, it breaks out and the system tips. What does that mean for you and me? A 4% death rate doesn't sound like much but that's 40,000 deaths a million Say there are 5 million in the Greater Toronto Area. Breakout into the whole community would mean the maximum likelihood of 200,000 deaths. Beyond the loss of life, the real issue will be our own societal immune reaction. We will panic into paralysis.

To reach 5 percent in the U.S., or a national "tipping point" for a real outbreak, there would need to be about 15 million cases. So far there are 115 cases.
Saddam Hussein is still taking women and children as hostages.
Also, Russian diplomats were attacked on their way out of Iraq, but it wasn't Coalition bullets coming at them, apparently.




Apparently, there is still an active "Draft Gore" movement in New Hampshire, as evidenced by this agenda from yesterday's Democratic state convention there.


NBC's David Bloom died in Iraq, according to MSNBC. The AP also reported that the cause may have been a pulmonary embolism.

After last week's death of Michael Kelly in a Humvee accident, two of the country's best-known journalists covering the war are now gone.

Howard Dean appears to be positioning himself as the first "Internet" candidate for president. According to an entry by a staff member on Dean's campaign blog:

Money's important to the campaign, of course, but that's not what Howard Dean's message is about. Howard Dean is about changing politics as usual. Howard Dean is about bringing people together-- over the Internet as well as in local cities and towns-- to end the divisive foreign and domestic policies of the Bush administration, to bring health care to all Americans, to work with Americans instead of against them.

The Web represents an inexpensive, candidate-to-voter communication form that will eventually change the way campaigns are conducted. Fewer and fewer people are getting their news from T.V. - so why would candidates want to spend more and more dollars in campaign advertising on T.V.? During the fall campaigns, how many voters will simply "TIVO" campaign commercials right out of the picture?

Dean may not have the right message for the 2004 election ("I want my country back!") but he's the first candidate whose campaign seems to "get" the Web.