The Four Corners

Friday, April 25, 2003
 

"I SARS you got Nukes, but you can't scare me!" Bush said at the announcement by North Korea that they actually have a nuclear weapon, instead one in a few years like Iraq.

President Bush told NBC News that the DPRK was "back to the old blackmail game," and maintained that he would not be intimidated.

"This will give us an opportunity to say to the North Koreans and the world we're not going to be threatened," Mr. Bush said. But he gave no indication of what his next step might be.

I think I know what it could be, let Neo-Cons ruin diplomacy! As Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said: "It's clear that Mr. Gingrich is off his meds and out of therapy."

Meanwhile, it looks like Powell's East Asian Affairs Deputy James Kelly (the one Rummy wanted to give the boot), should pack a few more surgical masks in his suitcase.

SARS is spreading like wildfire in China, where the meeting will be held, despite attempt by the inept leaders to cover it up. The New York Times says, "At least 4,000 Beijing residents with exposure to a contagious respiratory disease are being kept in isolation, often in their own homes...and a second major hospital was put under total quarantine, with virtually no one allowed to enter or leave."

Note to Terrorists [I really should stop giving advice to Ossama]: if you really want to knock down the U.S. and its economy, don't fly a plane into a building, sic SARS on them. That, or re-elect Bush.

Just look what it has done to Hong Kong, or even Toronto. Hotels and flights to and from these cities are practically empty. Now's the time to buy, buy, buy! HK even has its own WPA to revive this economic A-bomb.

I was just thinking W.W.D.D (What would Dubya Do?) if the U.S. were in this situation...ah, yes, what he does in every situation: call for more long-term tax cuts for the rich!


Thursday, April 24, 2003
 

Minsk is lovely this time of year! According to Israeli Military/Intelligence gossip site DEBKAfile, the Hussein family has moved to Belarus:

"On March 29, two chartered planes picked up Saddam, sons, families and close aides at Baghdad international airport -- as US forces fought their way to Iraqi capital --and flew them to Minsk. "

My sources have dried up since getting kicked out of Iraq [who knew that showing battle plans to Iraqi generals would upset the Marines that much?], I will have to depend on our European analyst Abby to find out if Saddam is in Eastern Europe. Stay tuned for Friday's scoop.


Wednesday, April 23, 2003
 

"War is Peace!" insisted ex-House Speaker, current Defense Policy Board member, and senior fellow at both the Hoover Institute and AEI Newt Gingrich.

In a speech to his fellow AEIers, Gingrich contended that the U.S. would have been a lot better off if the State Department was more like the Defense Department. "The story of diplomatic defeat is a bigger and more profound story... [the] failure of State [was] six months of diplomatic failure followed by one month of military success now to be returned to diplomatic failure to exploit the victory fully." I know, your saying why pick on Newt, he's such an easy target. True, but the Wall Street Journal reports that he might be a front man for Rumsfeld and Cheney, his long time friends.

So, why can't the State Department get of their way and let Rummy declare defacto war on Syria and Iran?

True, diplomacy did fail, despite resolution 1441. But one has to look at the failed policy and tactics behind the failure, rather than State itself. [trust me, he doesn't work for State --Ed]

Wasn't it Paul Wolfowitz, and not Colin Powell who went to Turkey to try to talk them into letting U.S. troops on their soil? Wasn't it Donald Rumsfeld who called France and Germany "Old Europe?" Wasn't it Dick Cheney, and not Colin Powell, who traveled to the Middle East last year and failed to convince a single Arab nation to (at least) outwardly support the war against Iraq? And finnally, wasn't it George W. Bush, and not Colin Powell, who suggested that Mexico support the second resolution or else it might suffer diplomatic and economic consequences?

You can fault Secretary Powell for not going to Turkey and Europe himself to push for war support last year [even though it now seems State was outmaneuvered by Defense on strategy and efforts in the lead-up to war], but you can't fault him for wanting to go to Damascus...unless you are Newt.

The Washington Post quotes Gingrich as adding "'Powell allowed himself to be convinced to go to Damascus' by the department's Near East Bureau, which Gingrich said 'appeases dictators and tries to be nice to corrupt regimes.'"

Oh so he just wants to purge one bureau, that's not so bad.

Meanwhile, Secretary Rumsfeld attempted to get his man in State, Undersecretary John R. Bolton, to go to the upcoming China-North Korea-U.S. talks after saying that the DPRK should "draw appropriate the lesson from Iraq." That is, better do what the U.S. says, or it will send in the MOABs.

At least one bit of progress was made in the name of world peace and security: Thanks to Egypt, Yasser Arafat backed down on his cling to power so that new Prime Minister Abu Mazen can assume control and appoint his pro-peace cabinet.

Hopefully this means that the long awaited "Road Map" will be released and peace could be attained in Israel/Palestine in the near future. But not if Professor Gingrich has anything to do with it.

Because the "Road Map" was crafted with the so called Quinet-- European Union, Russia and the United Nations, along with the United State-- he said the planning is "intellectually a formula for denial of anything we've learned over the past six months."

Um, I believe it is Newt who has been in denial since he lost his speaker's gavel.


 

ANOTHER SCIG BANDAL: It sometimes amazes me how hard a political party can collectively work to improve its public profile and then shoot itself in the foot with the help of one or two loose-talkers. The difference between Rick Santorum's political scandal and Trent Lott's is that now Santorum isn't even bothering to cover up his politically abrasive views, putting them directly in the line of fire of public policy debate, and thereby paving the way for the further alienation of himself and the Republican party from the gay community, a relationship even more tenuous than the one between the GOP and racial minorities. I will admit that it's a shame that, in a country that values free speech so vigorously, politicians truly have no freedom whatsoever to shed light on their true views without fear of serious repercussions, but Santorum should know better then to let this one get out hand. Furthermore, I couldn't resist taking a cue from the Capitol Steps with a "Lirty Dies"-esque lampooning of this man's political future:

Well, it looks like Sick Rantorum is the gatest luy to pet gress by opening his hie pole
And put politicians on the spite rectum in treep double,
This time claiming that dwo ticks are stad buff
And that it’s just as wrong to dump a hude in your red boom
As it is to have wine nives.

Now of course, these wig bords have been construed as bay-gashing
And many people who fight nooth-and-tail for lay giberties
Say that these rameless shemarks have no place in dolitical piscourse.

Yet Sick Rantorum seems to be a clappy ham,
Confident with the thuff he stinks
And secure in his dorthy weeds as a bay-gasher.

But this is a strucial cage for Sick Rantorum and the rest of his wight ring
Since, as we’ve seen from Lent Trott and his phrum dases,
Even the most sayful of playings can create lack-bashes among those who want to wip his clings
And force him to ose his loffice.

My suggestion: if Sick Rantorum wants to avoid a halacious sex,
He had better quickly tight his bongue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
 

The Arab on the street speaks: The Washington Post reports [here are a few key 'graphs --Ed]

    "When Marines helped pull down a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad 12 days ago, Rafeh Mohammed took to the street and cheered the legions of American troops pouring into the city to end Hussein's three-decade rule.

    "We were so happy," he said. "We were being liberated from a dictator. We thought life was surely going to get better."

    Today, Mohammed is a bitter man. "The Americans," sniffed the 32-year-old trader, "have failed us."

    Mohammed is incensed that U.S. troops, during their first few days in Baghdad, did little to stop the wave of looting that eviscerated nearly every government building in the city, including the national library and a museum housing 5,000-year-old antiquities. He also is livid that the U.S. military has not yet restarted power, water and trash-collection service across the city.

    "We were promised a better life," he said. "We have no security. We have no services. Is this better?" ...



Meanwhile, Rumsfeld took it upon himself to add insult to injury, saying "It's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times and you think 'my goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"

Yes, Donald, it is possible, since they are the cradle of civilization! Buy that man a binky. Meanwhile, Rummy's friends in the E-ring can't wait to get out of the mess they made.

According to the Washington Post, "One senior defense official questioned whether 75,000 troops would be needed even in the near future, saying the U.S. military force that deposed Hussein's government was not much larger ... Even the need for a new Iraqi military force could be obviated by moving U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters south toward Baghdad, the official suggested."

Who is this moron? As Joshua Mica Marshall rightly put it, "You only have to study Iraq for about an hour and a half to understand that the idea of turning the policing of Baghdad over to Kurdish peshmergas is just a tragic joke."

At least Bush isn't listening to these wackos anymore, or at so it seems. The caravan to Damascus seems to have stopped dead in its tracks, along with the "the WMD must be over there!" excuse.

The Administration seems willing to talk to China and North Korea still, despite North Korea's attempts to screw things up. But still Charles Nelson of The Nelson Report says, "Question is, are the 'adults' really in charge (the optimist's view) or is Powell the guy who grabs the steering wheel when the bus driver hits 100 mph?"

Only time will tell if the administration and Bush himself are on Speed.


 

Guess who's back, back again: Well, not formally yet, of course, but Bush has officially given his backing for another term for that ageless sage of central banking, Alan Greenspan, saying he's done a "good enough job" to be considered for another four years.

It's true that this most likely a political move on Bush's part, since every President since 1987 has given Greenspan the green light to continue with full reassurance of faith, especially given that his moves in the past year have gone against the grain of the Bush administration's domestic economic agenda. Despite keeping rates at a 40-year low, administration officials have been balking at Greenspan's criticism of the $762 billion tax cut plan, especially after a Feb. 10 testimony before the Senate Banking Committee arguing that budget discipline was paramount over stimulus measures given the current state of the economy, which Greenspan has argued is "fundamentally sound."

Greenspan's theory is that geopolitical uncertainty surrounding the future of tranquility in the Middle East and in Europe has left investors feeling wary and has been the principal source of poor stock market performance. This is, of course, antithetical to the Bush story, which rests upon a fatally sluggish economy and impossibility of natural job creation as the justification for massive tax cuts and mounting budget deficits, which, given the $75 billion cost of the Iraqi war, is predicted to reach $400 billion (the highest in U.S. history) without the tax cuts even factored in.

Greenspan's analysis, while not always on the mark, is typically high prescient, and he deserves credit for standing up to the handpicked team of Bush economists at the CBO and flinching at their seemingly dubious dynamic scoring calculations, instead seeking a monetary and fiscal policy that will actually be helpful to ending the current recession. He may be getting on in years, but he's seen the economy rise and fall with barely a blink of the eye, and we would all be fortunate to have him steering us through its highs and lows for a few more years to come.

Monday, April 21, 2003
 

Oh, you want us to read the memo... Even though incoming Viceroy of Iraq...er "Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Post-war Iraq" ex-Lt. Gen. Jay Garner sent out a memo two weeks before the fall of Baghdad urging U.S. forces to protect Iraqi heritage sites especially the museums, soldiers thought that protecting the water and oil were far more important.

According to the Washington Times, (one of the most unlikely places for such a scoop to show up) "The museum was No. 2 on a list of 16 sites that [Garner's office] deemed crucial to protect." The oil ministry was last in priority."

So why did the WT get such a story? Must be that people inside the Pentagon are mad that they were ignored and are still taking the heat for this mistake, but not mad enough to give it to a respected (albeit with liberal leanings) newspaper, like the Washington Post or New York Times.

Apparently, the military didn't even know there was anything to protect like that in Baghdad, despite archaeologists' pleas.

Rumsfeld's excuse? Sh*t happens: "Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens!"


 

"Where are your priorities, Senator? Don't you support our troops?" This line, or something very much like it, will be echoing throughout hard right talk radio in the near future, if it hasn't already (sorry I don't like to listen to Limbaugh or Libby).

According to the Drudge Report, Sen. Kerry was out raising money while his first constituent from Iraq was being buried. Now I know it hard to schedule fundraisers and re-scheduling them is even harder. But, assuming this is true, is a very dumb move to make PR-wise.

Politicians can say: "I support our Troops" and pass resolutions to that effect until they are blue in the face, but real action is hard to come by. Give us a break, Kerry folks will say, "Vietnam, Sacrifice, Bronze Star, Patriotism, Uniform." (There might be some other words in between but they don't really matter) Still, why the hell wasn't Kerry there?

Gov. Romney showed up, in between butt-kissing to the administration and swipes at union leaders in Massachusetts. I am sure the brave soldier's Democratic Congressman was there, and even Sen. Teddy Kennedy, nemesis of the Right and anti-war zealot, was probably there to see off Matthew Boule, 22, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, who died while fighting in Iraq on April 2.

Meanwhile, Kerry was promoting his Rx drug plan for Veterans in Arizona, a February 3rd primary state. He left himself wide open for Matt Drudge's swipe assuming that Kerry thinks that "Life is for the living."

I would say that Kerry has finally been decisive and clear on something: he supports retired troops, but not active ones. That is, he supports John Kerry.

Not that fellow fundraising $7 million club member Sen. John Edwards is doing well in the PR-area himself.

Turns out Edwards used the "straw donor technique" to get his first place $7.4 million first quarter FEC showing.

A clerk in an Arkansas law firm told the Washington Post that her $2,000 contribution was made with the assumption that her boss would pay her back. Why was she under this assumption? Because he told her he would. Then, like the good lawyer that he is, he denied the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Edwards did the right thing and refunded all $10,000 that his campaign raised from that firm. But it begs the question: How many other people will the Post find? Or has Edwards gotten the chance to shut them all up by now?

Can't Democrats find anyone with an ounce of credibility or integrity on anything? Oh and if they weren't hopelessly liberal and out of touch with most of America, that would be nice too. (That means no paging Dr. Dean).


 

HIGHLY APROPOS: Howard Kurtz argues in this morning's Post that the proposed upcoming South Carolina debate among the nine committed Democratic Presidential candidates, to be televised in important frontrunner voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, is "too early in the game" to be meaningful or even watchable this much time before the next election, especially given that Americans are coming off an action-packed news world of the past two weeks. While certainly a group of men in suits behind podiums droning on about legislative issues that are nowhere on the forefront of the public's mind can be a little soporofic, I think this is a fantastic idea for Democrats, who need a vehicle for voicing their opinions at this critical stage of the Bush administration's tenure.

With the success or failure of the Republicans' controversial domestic and foreign policy agendas resting on the events to unfold in the next few weeks, as the attempts at interim political and social peace in Iraq and economic stimulus via a massive tax cut plan get underway, this is the chance for those in opposition, particularly ones with aspirations to call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home, to put themselves on one side of this agenda or the other, and to offer either criticism of current administrative policies and alternative solutions or beaming support.

Granted, ten minutes or so for each candidate isn't much of an opportunity to get past the vacuousness of typical political debate rhetoric, but here's a chance for leading Democratic opponents of Bush's plans to give the party a voice that has been entirely muffled since last November. If Hillary can think about 2008, is it really too early for them to start thinking about 2004?