Saturday, March 08, 2003

NEW YORK, WASHINGTON AND CHICAGO--"A SEA OF FLAME"

North Korea may have more weapons than we ever imagined, and seems spoiling for a fight.

>>>The North Korean fighter jets that intercepted an unarmed American spy plane over the Sea of Japan last weekend were trying to force the aircraft to land in North Korea and seize its crew, a senior defense official said today.

>>>Pentagon officials have acknowledged they were caught off guard by the intercept on Saturday night — Sunday morning in Korea — and did not scramble American fighters during the 22 minutes the North Korean jets tailed the four-engine Air Force reconnaissance plane.

>>>Nonetheless, officials at the Pentagon and the United States Pacific Command in Hawaii are working out details of plans to protect the reconnaissance flights when they resume shortly. Officials said they were balancing the need to ensure the crew's safety and not be intimidated by the North Koreans, while trying to avoid steps that could unintentionally set off hostilities.

But before our administration makes any more bold plans, perhaps they should consider all the facts.

>>>"If American forces carry out a pre-emptive strike on the Yongbyon facility, North Korea will immediately target, carry the war to the US mainland," he said, adding that New York, Washington and Chicago would be "aflame".

And information about their arsenal grows more grim:

>>>A nuclear weapon would be produced by the end of next month, with another five by the end of the year, he said. This was on top of a suspected nuclear arsenal of 100 weapons.

North Korea has made repeated noises that they would attack at the first provocation, and have developed missiles that could reach anywhere on US mainland.

note: I've misplaced the link that had this information, if anyone remembers seeing this article out of NK in the past few days, I'd appreciate if you could email me with the link.

Bush has repeatedly stated that the matter is a regional one, and should be dealt with by China, Australia, and South Korea. The major flaw of this logic, however, is that none of these countries pose an imminent threat to North Korea, and none of these countries are, at this time, being threatened with nuclear capacities. Australia is seen as being of little threat, while China not only is too formidable, it is also a major supplier of aid to North Korea. South Korea is seen by North Korea as being easily overtaken with conventional weapons.

At this point, the major targets are the United States and Japan. And while Bush steadfastly refuses to deal diplomatically with North Korea, recent reports suggest that additional B-1's and B-52's are being flown into Andersen Air Force Base--which will only be seen as a further racheting of tensions by North Korea.

Friday, March 07, 2003

BUSH TO PROTESTERS: WHO CARES?

In Bush's mind, this:


is no different than this:


Bush explains:

Jim Angle: Sir, if you haven't already made the choice to go to war, can you tell us what you are waiting to hear or see, before you do make that decision, and if I may, during the recent demonstrations many of the protesters suggested that the U.S. was a threat to peace, which prompted you to wonder out loud why they didn't see Saddam Hussein as a threat to peace. I wonder why you think so many people around the world take a different view of the threat that Saddam Hussein poses than you and your allies?

Bush: Well, first I appreciate societies in which people can express their opinion. That society--free speech stands in stark contrast to Iraq. um, Secondly, I've seen all kinds of protests since I've been the president. I remember the protest against trade. A lot of people didn't feel like free trade was good for the world. I completely disagree, I think free trade is good for both wealthy and impoverished nations. That didn't change my opinions about trade, as a matter of fact I went to the congress to get trade promotion authority. I recognize there are people who don't like war, I don't like war.

This passage starts at 18:33 of the March 6th "news conference".
DEMOCRATS STAND FIRM

Some really good snips...

"Obviously the case has not been made," said Ms. Pelosi, who last year joined a majority of House Democrats in opposing the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to move against Iraq. "It has not been made to the American people. It has not been made to the world community. It has not been made to the Security Council."

"Our situation has put us into a more isolated position than I ever anticipated," said Mr. Daschle, who said the United States would face a "significant risk" if it moved against Iraq with only scattered international support.

...the Congressional Black Caucus, who are all Democrats, wrote the president today requesting that he meet with them to discuss the "current crisis with Iraq" as well as domestic issues.

Jon Corzine of New Jersey and Carl Levin of Michigan, both Democrats, asked the Senate Budget Committee to postpone its consideration of a budget until the administration provided an estimate of the cost of a war with Iraq.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has been a leading opponent of invading Iraq, said the president should let the weapons inspections continue.

"There is virtual unanimity," Mr. Daschle said, "in our express concern about the approach the administration has used. In our view, they have failed diplomatically. In our view, they are rushing to war without adequate concern for the ramifications of doing so unilaterally or with a very small coalition of nations."
GREENFIELD RIPS IMUS A NEW ONE

I decided to check out Imus this morning, hoping for the "tipping point" that we've all been eagerly anticipating. While I didn't get any satisfaction in that department, I did have the pleasure of hearing CNN's Jeff Greenfield lay into Imus over comments he made regarding one of the reporters asking a question at the press conference last night that was "too hard".

This is heavily paraphrased, as I don't own one of those newfangled fancy machines...

Greenfield: I guess you think it would be better if our press was more like the Iraqi press?

Imus (sputtering): No, I...

Greenfield: You think they should ask questions like: Would our glorious, imperialistic leader like to explain to the miscreants exactly why they are wrong?

Greenfield also ripped Bush for not calling on Helen Thomas, who was in attendence at the press conference last night, before returning his attention to Imus, who, while trying to change the subject, suggested that Greenfield would make a good candidate for the new liberal radio network.

Greenfield: I don't think I could do the blustering, bombastic style that's necessary for radio. (launches into a pretty good imitation of a nut-wing tirade)

Imus: Oh, you don't need that! You need style, personality, a sense of humor, and a knowlege of current events.

Greenfield: Style, personality, a sense of humor, and knowlege of current events? How did you get your job?

hehehe...
IT WASN'T A JOKE, AFTER ALL

Sure enough, that nasty letter that Whitehouse.org recieved from David S. Addington on official White House Stationary was the real deal.

...the Cheneys disclaimed responsibility for Addington's letter. "The vice president and Mrs. Cheney were unaware of the letter before it was sent," a Cheney aide told us. "We consider this matter closed."

They may be able to bully Iraq, and they may be able to bully the UN. But if this administration thinks it can bully our fine American tradition of parody, they've got another thing coming. Don't mess with satire!

Thursday, March 06, 2003

BILL, YOU IGNORANT SLUT!

Well, not exactly.

60 Minutes has signed Bill Clinton and Bob Dole for 10 segments of a point-counterpoint style debate. It starts Sunday night. Gawd, it will be nice to see the Big Dog on a regular basis again!

And the nicest part of all: "The country needs a debate that's not a screaming match," Clinton said Thursday on CBS's "The Early Show." "I think too many times we have these arguments on these talk shows where they're trying to get ratings by generating heat when we ought to be trying to generate more light."

NBC gets The Savage Weiner, and CBS gets Bill Clinton. It would be poetic justice if the two shows went up against each other, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

BUSH DRUG PLAN ALREADY IN PLACE IN OHIO

Bush unveiled his bold new prescription drug plan today, and funny thing, we already have it in Ohio. Governor Taft gave us this bold plan here, and while he originally touted it as a plan that would save seniors up to 40%, that number later became 25%, 20%, and finally 10%. Gov. Taft thinks the discount will increase as time goes by, well, I'll believe it when I see it. Another problem with this plan is that while Taft originally announced that he would get 75% of pharmacies to sign on, the pharmacies won't do it. In fact, the largest chain pharmacy in Ohio, CVS, which encompasses 25% of all Ohio pharmacies, has dodgely refused to sign on. Here's one example: In Pike County, there are four larger towns, and several smaller hamlets. In the county seat of Waverly, there are six pharmacies listed, but only two of them accept the prescription discount card. And that's the only two pharmacies in the entire county where the discount card is accepted. So if you live in Beaver, Latham, or a small burg, your only option is to drive to the county seat to get your 10% discount. Unless your medicine is a costly one, it isn't worth the time, gas, and effort to make the trip.

Get ready, America. It's coming to you next.

Monday, March 03, 2003

IRAQ IS WORSE THAN US AND OUR FRIENDS, RIGHT?

Then why in the world would Pakistan see fit to take Khalid Sheik Mohammed's two sons into custody?

"Mohammed's two sons, ages 7 and 9, were taken into custody by Pakistani authorities who searched an apartment where he was staying."

I'll grant that KSM is a menace to society that needs to be incarcerated, but his children? I think back to the descriptions our President Bush has made about Saddam Hussien torturing his own countrymen, and I shudder. Aren't we better than that? Shouldn't we demand that countries that want to work with us on this war against terror do the same? Or are we engaging in a war of terror of our own?

Ugh.
FAUX NEWS YIELDS INFORMATION (TRUE STORY!)

In a stunning development, Faux News actually produced something worth blogging about. In an At Large segment, host Geraldo Rivera had guests Sen. Bill Nelson and Turkish Ministry of Foriegn Affairs Altay Cengizer debate the issue of Turkey's reluctance to approve the stationing of U.S. troops on Turkish soil. Sen. Nelson of Florida was up first, and explained that we had possibly alienated Turkey with our beligerent attitude. Then Mr. Cengizer proceeded to detail exactly what the problem was--Aaron Brown of CNN. It seems Mr. Brown had remarked of Turkey, "They don't want to be kissed on the first date.", which irritated the Turkish government to no end. A memo of the comment had been passed around the members of parliment, which further excaberated the problem. Mr. Cengizer noted that the comment was demeaning, and if the U.S. was wanting to get more favorable results, we might want to try to curb our exhuberant media.

Mr. Cengizer also claimed that amounts of the aid package offered to Turkey were outright lies. While the media reported that we had originally offered the Turkish government deals of 26 to 30 billion dollars, the actual number was more in the range of 4-6 billion, which then went up to 20 billion. He extolled the media to "get it right". To be fair, our media is just relaying information given to it by the U.S. government, but perhaps he has a point, if his numbers are true. It might behoove our media to get a second source in matters relating to the U.S. government, as they are not exactly known for their unbiased and forthright announcements.

Sen. Nelson had the final word, and while it largely consisted of that hypnotic droning politicos are famous for, I did notice his repeated and pointed referral to the country of Turkey as "she". I'm not familiar with Turkish customs, it might be a proper form of respect there, but the "she" business certainly seemed to refer back to the "Turkey doesn't want to be kissed on the first date". I felt like I was watching a replay of Bill Parcell's insults regarding Terry Glen, and would have given anything for a cutaway of the look on Cengizer's face after the first half-dozen "she" comments.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

FRANK LUNTZ--PLAYING BUSH FOR A FOOL?

In an unprecedented era of orange terror alerts, impending war with Iraq, the alienation of most of the rest of the world, and a terrifying "I'm not dealing with this" game with North Korea, Frank Luntz has his finger on the pulse of the nation.

The environment is "the single biggest vulnerability for the Republicans and especially for George Bush" Luntz states, and the Republicans are inclined to agree with him.

Are they going back to the Kyoto treaty, or toughen up clean air standards here in the U.S.? Heavens, no. Luntz suggests such stratagies as this: ...the term "climate change" be used instead of "global warming," because "while global warming has catastrophic communications attached to it, climate change sounds a more controllable and less emotional challenge." He also has suggested that the term "environmentalist" be replaced with "conservationist".

This shift in verbal policy, Luntz suggests, will appeal to suburban voters. It's good to see the administration finally getting serious about their choice of words, perhaps Mr. Luntz can shift his attention next to foreign policy. Although this is seen as a less pressing issue by Republicans, it could use a little help.