Sunday, February 08, 2004

Worked it out with the military

The Independent says the British governments single source for the 45-minute claim was an Iraqi exile who’d left Iraq years before. His source was someone in the army. So MI6 knew a guy who knew a guy.

Did you know that John Kerry has a cousin who once ran for president? Of France? He’d been Mitterrand’s environment minister. Kerry doesn’t talk much about his French relatives, or that he speaks French fluently and has a vacation home in Brittany.

Musharraf says he’ll let Dr. KHAAAAAAN! keep the money he made from illegal weapons trafficking.

Iraq Body Count says that Iraqi civilian deaths (its methods are cautious, so this will be low) have reached the 10,000 mark.

Iran is going ahead with the fixed elections. The few reformists allowed to run will not do so. But neither is the government refusing to hold the election. The ayatollahs have said that they aren’t allowed to, nor to resign, and officials who don’t participate in the election machinery may be prosecuted. Which is why they should resign, of course. I was unsure before about whether President Khatami needed to resign, but you can’t have a legitimately elected president alongside an illegitimately elected legislature. Ideally, he should resign the day before the elections, or maybe the day after.

And what the fuck is Prince Charles doing in Iran at this particular moment in history?

Switzerland votes (56%) for a referendum to jail paedophiles for life.

Israel assassinates a Palestinian militant leader (little-known fact: Palestinian militants have no followers; they’re all leaders) and the statutory 11-year old boy.

I thought I’d have something to say about Bush’s Meet the Press interview, but there is nothing to say about the hour-long string of clichés Russert let Shrub get away with. [Ed.: not that that ever stopped you before] [Me: I have an editor?] [Ed.: No.] It’s not that Bush was being particularly slippery, but that Russert, who is normally known for “gotcha” journalism--catching interviewees in discrepancies with their past statements that might or might not be of any real significance, but gosh they do look dramatic on the teevee--folded. He even let Bush get away with saying that people are “denigrating” National Guard service, as opposed to questioning whether Bush actually performed all of his National Guard service. (Although one denigrator would be Colin Powell. From his memoirs: “I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units ... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.”)

And there’s this, which should go over real big with Vietnam vets: “Well, I was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military.” And since Bush has never done one of these interviews before and may well never do so again, this was the last chance to ask him about it.

Bush is moving slowly along the path to admitting there were no WMDs (the Independent headline uses the word “defensive,” the right-wing Daily Telegraph says Bush “reneges” on Iraq). “He had the capacity to have a weapon ... and we thought he had weapons. The international community thought he had weapons. But he had the capacity to make a weapon and then let that weapon fall into the hands of a shadowy terrorist network.” Of course that capacity hasn’t been proved any more than the WMDs themselves, and the STN (shadowy terrorist network) bit is just silly. He also said that Clinton believed the same things as he did, but hasn’t Clinton been just real quiet about this whole thing, and isn’t it time he be made to say something? Say in front of the commission [the “Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States”--CICUS, pronounced “kick us”, Billmon notes], which Bush refused to commit to testifying before himself, although he allowed as how he might “visit with them” (what is he, a 65-year old Southern woman?).

William Saletan claims that Bush is in fact a scholar of Plato believing in the Platonic ideal of things like WMDs, so that it doesn’t matter whether there is a physical reality reflecting those ideals, because the ideal is the only real thing. “Bush isn't Clinton. He doesn't change his mind for anything, whether it's polls or facts. And he always tells the truth about what's in his mind, regardless of the evidence.”

A clip of that wonderful moment in the State of the Union address when Republicans applauded terrorism (1.24 MB, 24 seconds).

One of the people running against Putin for president has disappeared.

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