The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, March 01, 2003


...only literally this time!
So what if we're still not safe from Osama. We can breathe easy about Tommy Chong.

Chong, those of a certain age may recall, is the second half of Cheech and Chong, the '70s-era entertainers who were synonymous with recreational drug use. Chong, now 64, runs Chong Glass company in Los Angeles, a vendor of glass articles featured, from time to time, in art shows. You can guess at the range of his wares.

If the imagination fails, ask John Ashcroft for help. The attorney general's officers raided Chong's place the other day, clearing shelves as part of "Operation Pipe Dreams," a nationwide sweep of purveyors of drug paraphernalia. Chong wasn't indicted.
In the column, Marie Cocco goes over a handful of other really important targets in the ongoing Ashcroft glory crusade. Eventually, it'll look like Footloose on a national scale.

(via Max)

Atrios links to this Guardian piece on what the US is doing to the UN. This set off my beyond-the-pale alarm, big-time:
The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.

The leaked memorandum makes clear that the target of the heightened surveillance efforts are the delegations from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea and Pakistan at the UN headquarters in New York - the so-called 'Middle Six' delegations whose votes are being fought over by the pro-war party, led by the US and Britain, and the party arguing for more time for UN inspections, led by France, China and Russia.

The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is 'mounting a surge' aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies' - the 'whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises'.
These are the moments when I'm annoyed to be an American. I can't believe this.
Presenting the Credibility Gap

(Via Oliver Willis)

Q. What artist, artists or band lifted lines straight out of Citizen Kane for a song on his/her/their/its 2001 album?

A. For the answer . . . after you've guessed your lungs out, click here.
Bill Clinton has been tapped for jury duty. I love it! If this could serve as some small measure to repair the large amounts of damage done to our legal process by Ken Starr, the "elves", etc, then go for it!
Under previous jobs held, the respondent answered President of the United States. He also wrote that he thought he could be fair and impartial, despite his “unusual experience with the O.I.C.,” or Office of Independent Counsel.

(via pandagon)

I have added a Google search box to the very bottom of this page. You can either search the entire web, or limit your search to the contents of TFM! Obviously, results will increase in number as time goes by.

Turkey's parliament votes . . .um . . . NO! on letting US troops use Turkey as an Iraq staging ground.

The vote was 264 in favor of letting US troops in, 250 against, and 19 abstentions. A true majority was required, so the 264 "yes" votes were shy by 4.

This is all happening just as Iraq has begun to destroy its banned missiles. Gotta love that 2nd paragraph:
But the United States dismissed the step as insufficient and deceptive. "Resolution 1441 called for complete, total and immediate disarmament. It did not call for pieces of disarmament," Merci Viana, a Bush spokeswoman, said. "The president has always predicted that Iraq would destroy its Al Samoud missiles as part of its game of deception."
This quote, especially the 2nd part, has to be the most revealing thing I've heard so far pertaining to what Bush thinks of inspections and disarmament vis-a-vis Iraq. If Iraq was truly disarming, wouldn't destroying those missiles be a part of that? I'd say so. So what Bush said (through a spokesperson) has nothing to do with anything, other than to paint a picture of non-cooperation and deception. He has no respect for the inspections process. The administration has done nothing but attempt to undermine the process at every step.

Also, Russia is threatening a veto of the American/British UN resolution. Boy, we're starting to compile a long list of countries Bush will have to "punish" economically, hahaha!

Friday, February 28, 2003


When Dan and Saddam were talking about how things have changed since 1991, Dan mentioned that the American army is even stronger than it was during the first Gulf War. That set off an alarm in my head which I forgot to mention in my original post: Isn't that the same military that conservatives claimed President Clinton "decimated"??? Which is it!?!? Anyway...

Looks like Augusta National is getting some help from a, well, expected source:
The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group said Friday he will demonstrate in support of Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership during the Masters, whether the club likes it or not.

"This equal rights stuff has gotten out of hand," said Joseph J. Harper of Cordele, imperial wizard of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. "We're not concerned with whether they want us there or not. We're concerned with their right to choose who they want to choose" as members.
(I discovered this a few minutes ago, and right after I did, woosh! it suddenly disappeared from Yahoo's top stories, and I was unable to locate it elsewhere for a few minutes.)

They could always use the hoods for the flagsticks! Eh, not like I was gonna watch the Masters anyway.

...First, in the resurrection of "The Dead" who will triumphantly traverse the country this summer, and second with, of all people, this guy.

That is Detroit rapper Proof (of d12, Eminem's, uh, posse), who has not only titled his upcoming debut album Searching 4 Jerry Garcia, but also claims the fallen Grateful Dead leader as a significant influence on his life and music.

Long live The Dead, and maybe I'll give this guy's album a listen while I'm at it.

Regardless of whatever large-scale effect this could have (not much, probably), I still think this is pretty cool
On Monday, March 3rd, 2003, the first-ever world-wide theatrical event for peace will happen in a city near you. Don't miss this unique opportunity to stand up for peace in your community, and provide a humorous entree into a healthy dialogue about current affairs. Attend or help plan a reading of Lysistrata, Aristophanes' anti-war comedy, to protest the rush to war on Iraq. Many of the readings will benefit non-profit organizations working for peace and humanitarian aid in Iraq.
Gorgeous. And in response, the conservatives give us . . . Dennis Miller and Toby Keith. Good work, boys.

But where oh wehere can you see this being put on? Just about everywhere! For my localities, you can check it out in Berkeley up at the Claremont, all over the place in the LA area (meaning, I'll convince my sister to go), and in downtown Santa Barbara. In all, 871 readings in 56 countries. Check it out!


You mean to tell me that Bush said he'd do one thing and then does the opposite? But he's a man of character and compassion!
A Bush administration bookkeeping decision has left a funding shortfall for the AmeriCorps national service program that could force enrollment cuts of as much as 50 percent -- instead of the 50 percent increase President Bush had promised.

The president embraced AmeriCorps, a Clinton-era program, after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and has made it a central part of his "compassionate conservative" agenda. During his State of the Union address last year, he called for AmeriCorps enrollment to grow to 75,000 from 50,000.

Instead, it is possible that enrollment will be held to 26,000 this year unless changes are made, AmeriCorps officials said.
(link via atrios)

Hopefully some more people will notice this. Until then, lots of big developments in the conflict at the Malabar front...

Thursday, February 27, 2003


From friday's column, the opening 'graf:
So Glenn Hubbard has resigned as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers -- to spend more time with his family, of course. (Pay no attention to the knife handles protruding from his back.) Gregory Mankiw, his successor, is a very good economist, but never mind: When the political apparatchiks who make all decisions in this administration want Mr. Mankiw's opinion, they'll tell Mr. Mankiw what it is.
Or perhaps it's just that great minds think alike. Is there a teaching position opening up at Princeton or MIT anytime soon? Hehe, anyway go read his column.

Frist is calling for a vote on cloture, meaning the GOP is conceding defeat, in effect, on the Estrada nomination.

Kos has analysis.

And in case you missed it, the Horse has the skinny on the scandal surrounding how Estrada got a "well qualified" rating from the ABA, not to mention a trashing of White House counsel Gonzales' response to those charges.

Iraq agreed in principle to destroy their Al Samoud Missiles, which have a range beyond that prescribed by the UN.

This was one of the things about which Saddam was being very coy and cryptic in the Dan Rather interview earlier this week. Could this be some sort of psychological lesson here for those who want to better understand Saddam? On day A, he's coy, but on say, day D, he aquiesces.

My analysis? This seems to satisfy what might be called the "just enough" theory of conflict resolution/deferment. Given the parameters of the situation, combined with personal desires for strength and integrity, Saddam has a dual aim: 1) to avoid war, and 2) to do so by straying as close to the edge as possible without falling off.

I'd expect any world leader in his position to do that. Heck, even Bush. This was a point I made in my post late last night on the Saddam interview (a point either missed, or passed upon in favor of a strawman by one passing reader). The fact that Saddam "gassed his own people" or executed family members is irrelevant to this point.

Anyway, every so often Bush gives us a line like "We know what a disarming country looks like, and this isn't it". Today's events are a preliminary good step, no doubt, but if more likewise steps are taken, perhaps his line may need to be revised.

One more controversial sidebar!: When Rather brought up Vice President Richard Cheney, I was waiting for Saddam to cut in with "ah yes, my old business partner, how the hell is that ol' sonuvabitch doing?" :-)

...Because I think Zogby had those same numbers a month or two ago.

What numbers, you ask? These numbers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The percentage of registered voters who say they would support President Bush in 2004 fell below 50 percent for the first time, according to a new CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll, which finds more Americans concerned about the economy.

Two-thirds of those who responded to the poll, released Thursday, describe current economic conditions as poor, a 10-point increase since December. Optimism about the future of the economy also dropped 10 points during that time.

Asked their choice for president, 47 percent of the registered voters polled said they would support Bush in 2004 -- compared with 51 percent in December. About 39 percent said they would support the Democratic candidate, compared with 37 percent in December.

Still, a majority of those polled, 57 percent, said they approved of the way Bush is handling the job of president. That Bush approval rating is the lowest since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

He will be missed. In his way, he was a relentlessly positive voice, free of cynicism, irony, or any of the superficial popular trends that would come and go.

Won't you be my neighbor?

With my catchy, melodic, yet meaningful pop-rock stylings, I can rescue you from the pain of having "Who Let the Dogs Out" or the Chili's babyback ribs song stuck in your head
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The vast majority of people say they have been mentally tortured at one point in their lives by a song that keeps repeating itself over and over in their heads.

And new research shows that people most frequently plagued by this phenomenon are those with slightly neurotic tendencies, and people who enjoy and listen to music often.

These mental broken records are also more likely to play the first or last song we hear in different situations, such as the first song that comes on in the morning alarm, or the last song playing before we turn off the car, study findings show.

Songs that topped the list as being most likely to stick around in someone's head included the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and the Chili's restaurant jingle about Baby Back Ribs.
In a slightly related story, I'm making my 2nd attempt (in TFM's lifetime) to get into Ani DiFranco (facilitated by this person), and as talented as she is, I'm probably not going to have the stuck-in-head problem. Why? Well, you need a melody first, hehe.

(my apologies to ani fans, but if she wrote great melodies all the time, she'd be a pop sensation, and would you like her at all? hehehe)

link via dave barry

Before anything else, a recap from cbs, and a complete transcript of the interview. You can also find video clips in the first link.

(NOTE: yes I am a liberal who is strongly opposed to this war. There seems to be this assumption that any and every anti-war person who wants to be taken seriously in any way, has to preface his opposition with something to the effect of "Yes, Saddam Hussein is an evil man, and the world would be a better place without him in power", etc. In light of that, a couple of things. I'm not going to say that anymore. You'll just have to accept my opinion of him on faith. Also, conservatives never tended to preface Pinochet, the contras, etc with any such stuff.)

This was one of those rare occasions these days when TV news succeeds wildly. The excesses of CNN, Faux and MSNBC are nowhere to be found here. No heart-pounding music, no flashy graphics, no bold headlines ("COUNTDOWN IN IRAQ", "SHOWDOWN WITH SADDAM"), just interviewer and interviewee (translators as well, of course). I was very thankful for that, because just about everything we've heard about Iraq and Hussein has been through the filter of the American punditocracy.

Also, it's pretty clear that Dan Rather, as official TFM housemate Greg put it, has some "world class balls". He had a lot of tough, straightforward, no-fucking-around questions for Hussein. He had a responsibility not that dissimilar from Jodie Foster's character in Contact, who has to represent all of humanity when she first meets the little green men, hehe; he had to stand in for all of America, both those who support and oppose war.

Not only that, but he was there as another lifeline to Hussein. A tacit aspect to his presence in Baghdad was to say to Hussein, in effect, "Look, you remember 1991. We know that the debate about war is still raging around the world, and much is in question, but you can do your part to avoid this too". I'm not sure how much of that got through. In terms of this buildup, we're dealing with two proud, proud men, in Dubya and Saddam, and they're both absolutely sure about how right they are. Millions of protesters around the world, and Bush claims they can't sway him. Saddam probably holds a similar mindset.

(sidebar: Let's say *woosh* you switched Bush and Hussein right now, so Dan Rather would have been interviewing Iraqi President George W Bush. What would he have done or said any different from what Saddam did tonight? Everything from the no-exile to the we-won-1991 thing, Saddam W Bushein would have done that. I philosophically believe that "evil" is relative, we can get into that later)

Of course, the big deal was the debate challenge. It'll never happen, of course. Dubya hasn't held a friggin press conference in weeks and months, you think he's ready to go before a world audience and debate? The White House is already pissed about this interview, god forbid they do anything else that makes Saddam look like a human being and not some mythical hellbeast.

There's a lot more, read the transcript if you have time.

(also, to those who point out to Saddam that those elections he won were single-party and meaningless, remember to ask yourselves how Bush did with the voting public in 2000)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003


Bush senior economic adviser Glenn Hubbard, who made it through the first wave of Stalinesque purges of the administration's economic team, is leaving for "personal reasons", meaning, um, his family.

...(though I imagine a horse's head with a Post-It note on it reading "love, Karl". who knows...)

I don't care if people leave or are axed from the administration. It's the policies that have to change. I don't know what Laffer-curve true-believer people think when they go to bed.


I was gonna blog a little more about the pair of teenage "lesbians" from Russia called t.A.T.u., who have a hit power-dance-pop song of sorts (the sometimes-cute, sometimes-painful, but always repetitious "All The Things She Said"), and who appeared on Leno last night (though the cameras wouldn't show the makeout session they had). But there are more important things about which one could talk, think or blog. So I'll happily leave such a task to Rob Walker of Slate.

A mammoth project has just started . . . well, not as mammoth as Rush's cyst-covered, chickenhawk ass before his little Atkins revolution, but mammoth nevertheless.

Right on the heels of the TakeBackTheMedia boycott, the Rush Limbaugh transcript project is off and running. They shall hang the man with his own words.

I must say, what a thankless, excruciating task that must be! Then again, given my experience in dealing with the excruciating, perhaps there's a level of perverse fun to it. The way these guys make it manageable is that they split the show into five-minute chunks, and spread the work around.

This is a very noble cause. Good work!

"All Circuits are busy"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of opponents of war against Iraq called and faxed U.S. leaders on Wednesday in a "virtual march on Washington," jamming the White House switchboard and many congressional telephone lines for several hours.

Coordinated by the Win Without War Coalition, an umbrella protest group, the action aimed to direct at least one telephone call and fax to every U.S. senator every minute throughout the day. Organizers said they were far exceeding that goal.

The White House switchboard was also flooded and most callers heard a message that "all circuits are busy."

Tom Andrews, a former Democratic representative from Maine who is running the organization, said more than 500,000 people had signed up on the Internet to take part and a half a million more were also expected to participate without registering on the group's Web site (

"We have hundreds of thousands of calls and faxes that we know are going in. It's a first-of-its-kind protest and a tremendous success already," he said. "People are making their voices heard loud and clear -- don't invade and don't occupy Iraq."

The Web site had a running total of what it said was the number of calls placed. As of 5 p.m. EST the number was almost 400,000. The Web site was flashing the names of individual protesters above a map of the United States with quotes from e-mails sent to the headquarters and to lawmakers. Each comment included the name and hometown of the protester.

We've already annoyed Vicente Fox and Mexico over Iraq, why not our neighbors to the north as well?

Simply enough, Bush's foreign policy has nothing to do with working or cooperating with other nations, but everything to do with threatening other nations. They won't consider looking at varying viewpoints on disarmament and UN resolutions, but they will shout threats at France, Russia etc if they don't bend our way.

I need a drink. Oh, I don't drink. I need a Pepsi One.

Actually I have a lot of reasons. But this one counts...

Jay Leno, from a political standpoint at least, usually interviews from an "everything you say is wrong" perspective. Bill Maher, for example, is subject to this every time he appears on the Tonight Show.

But last night was an across-the-board conservative show. Leno abandons his interview MO for, ugh, Dennis Miller. When did Miller turn into a cross of Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh? I don't get it. Must have been from hanging around all those football people. Miller goes off on a rant about -- surprise -- the French. Did he do it from a comedian-cliche perspective? Snooty? Jerry Lewis lovers? Not really, what he did was a virtual late-night version of the RNC talking points on the French. Ugh.

The conservative parade got slightly worse near the end of the show, with the performance of Russian pop starlets T.A.T.U. (i think i'll blog more on them later today). They may or may not be real-life lesbians, or just for the cameras (again, later), but apparently they engaged in a rather substantial makeout session on stage during their song. The camera stayed trained on their guitarist, a few yards from the "action". The game was given away as the credits rolled, when other guest Arsenio Hall grabbed Leno and kissed him, a tacit suggestion about what went on outside of the camera's view.

This is why I watch Dave when I'm up that late and not bogged down by work.
Interesting post from Jeanne D'Arc about the nature of a possible post-Iraq-war humanitarian crisis (not that there wasn't one already of course)

She also links to an online petition from Amnesty International calling for humanitarian and human rights monitors to be present in Iraq.

...and head over to the Daily Cal, where columnist Marissa Mika tells us about the joy of teaching, post-South Africa, not to mention her tendency to, um, bounce. Y'all go buy her burger.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


...Anyone surprised?
A panel of experts has strongly criticized the Bush administration's proposed research plan on the risks of global warming, saying that it "lacks most of the elements of a strategic plan" and that its goals cannot be achieved without far more money than the White House has sought for climate research.

The 17 experts, in a report issued yesterday, said that without substantial changes, the administration's plan would be unlikely to accomplish the aim laid out by President Bush in several speeches: to help decision makers and the public determine how serious the problem is so that they can make clear choices about how to deal with it.
Typical, completely typical of the administration. A couple sentences about hydrogen cars at the SOtU and we're all supposed to think he's a Lisa Simpsonist? He didn't fool TFM, and he hasn't fooled these experts either.

In my lifetime, global warming and pollution are more likely to kill me than Saddam Hussein is, by a wide margin. That goes for Smirk as well.

When I began reading this slightly humorous piece pondering a Bush/Saddam debate I found it to be innocent enough. The amusing but apolitical quotes from Carville and Begala were fine. But then the 2000 presidential debates became the topic of discussion... Revisionist history alert!
If the Iraqi president has one thing going for him, it might be low expectations. The authoritarian leader is thought to be rusty on the give and take of politics, and if he should turn out to have a rapier wit, he might win points.

Bush, for example, beat expectations in the 2000 campaign. People were sure the policy-polished and well-spoken Gore would run circles around the Texas governor, who mangles words and was making his first bid for national office. Bush surprised the doubters.(emphasis mine)
Hmm, sounds like a job for Somerby. Oh, wait, it already was. Incomparably done.

Ari Fleischer got his lying ass laughed out of a news conference earlier today!
Then one tidbit floated up. A reporter asked about a French report that says Bush is offering a bundle of concessions (and I think she actually said 'buying votes') to Mexico and Colombia, granting worker amnesty and so on. Ari tap-danced. Then she (the reporter) started to press the issue by saying "they (the French) are quoting two US State Dept. Diplomats that Bush intends to give work permits to Colombia and Mexico."

WOW. WOW.... Ari just drew himself up with imperious indignation and said something like "you're implying that the President is buying the votes of other nations and that's just not a consideration" or words to that effect.

And guess what happened? The whole press corps, normally sheep, broke out in laughter... sweet, derisive laughter. They kept on laughing as Ari turned on his heels and strode out. Sheesh.
Here's a link to the video of the conference, the big moment is right after the 30minute mark, but start it a minute or two earlier for some context. Enjoy!

Josh Marshall points to a John Judis piece from The American Prospect on the Bush administration's desires for Iraq and the mideast. It's interesting to read about the factioning of the administration (Bush/Cheney/Rummy vs Powell/Armitage/Tenet vs Wolfowitz), and the other things we already know. You know, the oil thing, and the "complete disdain for the UN and multilateralism" thing.
...imitates The Onion imitates The Simpsons...

Yes, my friends at the Onion, this is very funny

WASHINGTON, DC—As an additional reminder that the U.S. is on high alert for terrorist attacks, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced Tuesday that Orange Alert klaxons will blare 24 hours a day in all major cities.

"These 130-decibel sirens, which, beginning Friday, will scream all day and night in the nation's 50 largest metro areas, will serve as a helpful reminder to citizens to stay on the lookout for suspicious activity and be ready for emergency action," Ridge said. "Please note, though, that this is merely a precautionary measure, so go about your lives as normal."

The sirens, Ridge said, will be strategically positioned throughout each city and will be audible within a three-mile radius. The noise will be loud enough to render conversation impossible within a 200-yard range.
But hmm, this sounds awfully familiar to me...

(puts on simpsons-nerd cap)

I could swear that someone at the Onion was thinking back to the Homer-becomes-an-inventor episode of The Simpsons
Homer: Now, here's my "Everything's O.K." alarm!
[Homer flips a switch the device, and it begins to emit a
high pitched, incredibly loud beep. The rest of the Simpsons
cover their ears as Homer speaks up]
Homer: This will sound every three seconds, unless something isn't
Marge: Turn it off, Homer!
Homer: It can't be turned off! [alarm fizzles out] But it, uh,
does break easily.
Thematically similar, I suppose, but not outright plagiarism. This isn't 8 Mile here, dudes. (oops, i think i just broke a cardinal rule of blogging! ah well)
I'm a cheapskate, and I'm vain, and those two things have finally come together. I wanted to find a small picture of myself to stick near the top of this blog, but I had nowhere to host it where it would work (I have a geocities site but they wont let you do that in other places). So I resorted to uploading a picture to my profile (my name is "1angreedwarf"), and using it here.

Enjoy my compelling gaze!
Nicholas Kristof annoys me from time to time (like Keller, he can be a bit bend-over-backwards at times), but he makes a historical analogy regarding Iraq which is much more apt than the Chaimberlain-Hitler deal that the warmongers throw at us.'s useful to conjure a conservative war hero like Dwight Eisenhower and consider what he would do if he were president today. After his experience with Hitler, Ike would stand up to the lily-livered pussy-footing peaceniks and squish Saddam Hussein like a bug, right?

No, probably not.

Eisenhower, who led the European Allies to victory in World War II and was president from 1953 to 1961, faced a crisis in Egypt similar to today's and effectively chose containment rather than invasion. Likewise, even when faced with the threat of weapons of mass destruction, President John F. Kennedy chose to contain Cuba rather than invade it, and President Ronald Reagan chose to contain Libya rather than invade it. I hope we have the courage and discipline to emulate such restraint by Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan today and choose containment over war for Iraq.
Why does Ike hate America so much?

Is Ike pro-Saddam?

Monday, February 24, 2003


("So Jeb, where's the money your brother and his energy cronies stole from my state?"
"Let me put it this way, Gray: It's with the children now.")

Remember all that outrage and righteous indignation in 2000/2001 when the Taliban blew up those Buddha statues?

Well it appears that Bush and the chickenhawks have come around on the issue
War in Iraq would halt archaeology not just in that country but across the Middle East, experts say, and could result in some of the earliest cities of Mesopotamia being bombed or looted into ruins of ruins.

Researchers with long experience in Iraq say they are worried that postwar looting could cause even more damage to the antiquities than combat. They also fear that some art dealers and collectors might try to take advantage of any postwar disarray and change in government to gain access to more of Iraq's archaeological treasures. After the Persian Gulf war of 1991, ancient treasures were plundered and sold illegally in international markets.
Ahhh, say the Bushies, who needs all them terrrah-ist artifacts anyway? After all, Gilgamesh, Hammurabi and Ishtar constituted an old-ass axis of evil, right? So it ain't no thang!
Archaeology in Israel, already curtailed by internal hostilities, is expected to suffer further interruptions, with almost none of 30 American excavations likely to be operating soon. At one of the largest sites, the ruins of the old Philistine city of Ashkelon, archaeologists have not dug a pit for two years and will not return this summer.
NOOOOO! We'll never find Christ Jesus now!

War is hell, isn't it.

Lennon "i coulda been avril" Murphy has cancelled another tour! She was the opening act for the rock band CKY, who just "finished" their tour opening for "Goth N' Roses".

What is wrong with you? You are such a flake, girl! And Laurie and I were soooo nice to you! Please get it together and rock the Bay Area, I am responsible for your entire NorCal fanbase!
JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 — Israelis once believed that the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians would usher in a new Middle East of comfortable Israeli-Arab co-existence.

With Oslo in tatters, they are now putting similar hopes in an American war on Iraq.

Other nations may cavil, but Israel is so certain of the rightness of a war on Iraq that it is already thinking past that conflict to urge a continued, assertive American role in the Middle East.

Shaul Mofaz, Israel's defense minister, told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week that after Iraq, the United States should generate "political, economic, diplomatic pressure" on Iran.

"We have great interest in shaping the Middle East the day after" a war, he said. (full story)
Oy vey.

In the article, Israel says that based on their intelligence, Iraq probably couldn't lob any missiles at Israel in the event of an American attack. Well that's all well and good, boys. You guys sure seem to know more about those Iraqi weapons than the Bushies do!

Then again, if I were Israel, I'd be more concerned with how a war with Iraq goes over with the mideast on the whole, and how Al Qaeda recruiting will increase if the war goes on.

But we read on, and we discover what's on Sharon/etc's mind:
Mr. Sharon has been alarmed by the recent efforts of the so-called Quartet — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia — to intervene in the conflict here. Mr. Sharon would much prefer to deal only with the United States, regarding the other players as less supportive of Israel's interests.

The top Israeli official said that the Quartet may prove a "casualty" of an Iraqi war.

"The idea of using the Quartet as the great instrument of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — there are people in Washington who are going to say, `What do we need these people for?' " he said.
Aha! A little Napoleonic contortion I see ("divide and, well, carve").

I didn't tell you to make that place your homeland. I didn't tell you to torture people either. Basically Israel wants America to do to Iraq and Iran what Israel does to refugee camps. Of course, our bulldozers have smart bombs.

I'll reopen the Israel topic soon. Let me just say to them: shut up. Thanks!

While we find empty missile casings in Iraq, our friends in Pyongyang are firing theirs into the sea.

In general, I am not a fan of music videos. Wait, let me correct that. There are videos that I like (such as, say, anything directed by Spike Jonze), but on the whole the medium itself has done a disservice to music.

Two fundamental problems?
1) I prefer my visual imagination rather than a director and cameras.
2) It's all about crossmarketing, attaching a pretty face, tight pants and large breasts to a song.*

But then the medium comes out and surprises me

Oldtime cool-for-life country man Jonny Cash has made the most heartbreaking, beautiful, sad video I have ever seen, for his cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt". He does not hide from a second of his old age. He sits there, strumming his guitar, old and sad. Incredible. To watch the video, go here.

(btw the RS article I linked to has another interesting tidbit: former Rage frontman Zach de la Rocha is working with Trent Reznor, yes!)

* - though Shakira gets a reprieve because of 'Underneath Your Clothes', TFM has a soft spot for that one, hehe

First of all, I'm back, after being on some official TFM businessnessness...

Secondly, Professor Krugman has some fun with those who A) blame the current recession on Clinton, and B) attribute the late-90's surpluses to Reagan.
If we're allowed to give credit for good events to policies 16 years earlier, history needs to be rewritten in interesting ways. The high point of the Reagan years was the 1982-4 "morning in America" recovery - but clearly that wasn't Reagan's doing, it was validation for the policies of Lyndon Johnson. (See, he was right not to raise taxes to pay for the Vietnam War.) For that matter, the great postwar boom validated the policies of Herbert Hoover: he liquidated the farmers. liquidated the workers, purged the rottennness, and the economy thrived.