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Welcome to the Me Show.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
  • From Agence-France Presse:
    SEATTLE, United States (AFP) - There is no doubt that sales are hot for handbags bearing an insult -- in French -- aimed at "our president." The question is: Which president?

  • Eric Blumrich asks:
    How would you feel about a person who thinks it is okay to grab your shirt and use it clean their eyeglasses?

    That's how arrogant our President is. During a commercial break on the David Letterman show, producer Maria Pope was on stage and discussing something with Letterman, and while she was standing there in front of Bush, George leaned forward, grabbed the back of her sweater and used it to clean his glasses. Check out the Quicktime video.

    Click here
    for the video. This is really quite something.

  • Starbucks rehabilitated for the Left? Well, maybe a little.

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2004
  • I don't read Spinsanity as much as I should. The folks there are coming out a book in August which we should all read. Details on it are here.

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2004
  • I'll be grateful if you can tell me what this is all about.

  • The country I am studying:
    Chisinau - Scientists in the former Soviet republic Moldova on Thursday unveiled what they called a "virtual" cigarette, Infotag news agency reported.

    The pseudo-smoke, already under production at the Chisinau Tobacco Factory (CTF) "creates the complete illusion and sensation of conventional smoking," said factory boss Petr Poyan.

    The tobacco-based product is suckled rather than set afire, and so may safely be used on aeroplanes and in smoke-free environments . . .

  • The Iraqi governing council has chosen a new flag.

    River comments.

  • Monday, April 26, 2004
  • Jesse makes me laugh.

    Read Pandagon: This Stupidity Is Killing Me....

  • Don't mind me...

    I'm just doing some thinking and this admittedly obvious insight just struck me. It might not be very interesting, but it seemed worth jotting down and this seemed like a decent place to do so.
    The fact that mercenaries are paid more than regulars and volunteers suggests (by the laws of supply and demand) that something is motivating the latter which is not motivating the former. In other words, regulars and volunteers have incentives besides profit to fight.

    Please feel free to comment.

  • Friday, April 23, 2004
  • An excerpt of an ICQ chat between Marine's Girl and her marine, who is still stationed in Iraq:
    Me: I'll assume you have been seeing some combat.
    Marine: Yea. More than I like to. I'm amazed at the number of 'contractors' here now.
    Marine: Mega Mercs! Are there more mercs than soldiers yet?
    Me: Not quite yet but it wouldn't surprise me if it gets like that.GE and Siemens is bringing their contractors out but I think theirs are really contractors. They were working on the electrical grid there.
    Marine: I hadn't heard that yet but can see why they would. The kidnappings probably made them nervous.
    Me: Please rescue that poor reservist from Ohio, if you can. He has a wife and baby to come back to.
    Marine: I'd love to, sweets. If the order comes...I'm there. That's my favorite kind of mission.
    Me: I know, you really get into that rescuing stuff.
    Marine: You bet! It is what I became a Marine for, to make a difference in the world.
    Me: You are making a difference in Iraq.
    Marine: I meant a positive difference. Not what is going on now.
    Me: You do all you can, I'm confident of that.
    Marine: Thanks. I'd rather think that you trust that I'm doing all I can rather than assume the worst.
    Me: I know the man you are. No worries.
    Me: Any news from Fallujah?
    Marine: I wasn't there today but expect we will be back there soon, maybe this weekend. Hoping the people will give up their weapons so we don't have to go in there.
    Marine: If we do go in, innocents will be hurt so I'm praying it doesn't come to that. That's definately something I don't want to see.
    Me: I know babe. You don't need any new nightmares. How have you been sleeping?
    Marine: Better but I think it has been due to I haven't been able to sleep until I'm so totally exhausted that I don't even dream.

  • I wonder if anyone can explain to me why the Canadian parliament just recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915. I'm not suggesting it was wrong to do so - probably it was right - but, why now? Why did this come up? Martin apparently avoided being present for the vote and instructed his cabinet to vote against it. This was a 'free' vote, so Liberals were allowed to vote for it if they wanted to, and obviously many of them (75 to be precise) did. What was the process that lead up this? Do we have a powerful Armenian lobby in this country? And is this an example of Martin's much-touted 'democratic' reform? I don't have time to look into it, but if you do, leave me a note in the comments.

  • Go read Orcinus. This is one of the many blogs that I wish I had time to read more frequently. Some of the posts can be long, which can be hard for those of us with microsecond attention spans (myself included), but they are well worth it. If you're not familiar with it, the blog is written by David Neiwert, an expert on terrorism, especially much under-reported domestic terrorism in the US.

  • This deserves to be repeated in full everywhere and a lot. From the Philosoraptor:
    "As the second president of the United States, Adams signed into law the Treaty of Tripoli (1797), which declares that 'the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion' and is in no way an enemy to Muslims. On this basis 'it is declared... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.' Further, 'The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.' It was carried unanimously by the Senate.'"
    from Doubt: A History, by Jennifer M. Hecht, p.361

  • I'm a big fan of The Memory Hole, and if I had any money I would support it. It made the news today by providing pictures of US flag-draped coffins.

  • Thursday, April 22, 2004
  • Hippocratawha?
    (Lansing, Michigan) Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

    The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

    The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

    The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

    The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

    Three other three bills that could affect LGBT health care were also passed by the House Wednesday which would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

    (via Eschaton)

    I'm just speechless... I mean, refusing people health care because you don't like them? Because you're a bigot? Atrios rightly labels this a case of "the Taliban in America".

  • Kevin Drum draws our attention to a blog all about Wal-Mart.

  • Tuesday, April 20, 2004
  • I'm busy writing papers so blogging will be light this week. Unless I really need to procrastinate. Just a quick note on Bob Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack. Remember, Woodward is the guy that got, by all accounts, just stupidly good access to the Whitehouse when he was writing his previous, rather more pro-Bush, book, Bush at War. Anyway, check this out:
    Woodward, author of a new book on Bush's preparations for the Iraq war Plan of Attack, said Prince Bandar pledged the Saudis would try to fine-tune oil prices to prime the US economy for November's presidential election, a move they understood would favour Bush.

    A Saudi official issued a statement saying the kingdom - the world's largest oil exporter - will not interfere with US elections and will remain a reliable supplier of oil.

    "We do not use oil for political purposes; it is too important a commodity, and its impact on the global economy (of which we are a part) is tremendous," said Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

    "Saudi Arabia also does not interfere in elections," he said.

    Now, as much as one is inclined to give credence to the statements of a despotic regime which survives only by pandering to our enemies and buying off its own citizens with its oil profits, the facts speak to the contrary. Think 1970s oil crisis. Yes Saudi Arabia is dependendent on the global economy, but the global economy is way more dependent on it. Incidently: In thirty year old British government documents released in January 2004, it was revealed that the United States government considered invading Saudi Arabia and Kuwait [1] during the crisis and seize the oil fields in those countries.

  • Sunday, April 18, 2004
  • British, um, out?:
    ...the commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all.

    (Via Eschaton and Juan Cole)

  • Spain Out:
    Spain's new Socialist prime minister, moving swiftly to fulfill a campaign pledge, today ordered the withdrawal of Spanish troops from a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq as soon as possible. ... Zapatero had pledged to withdraw the 1,300 Spanish troops sent to Iraq by the previous government unless the United Nations took political and military control of the country by a June 30 U.S. deadline for transferring sovereignty to Iraqis. ... With the information we have, and which we have gathered over the past few weeks, it is not likely that the United Nations will adopt a resolution that will meet the conditions we have set for our presence in Iraq," Zapatero said, referring to Spanish requirements for political and military change in Iraq that would allow the Spanish troops to remain. ... "More than anything, this decision reflects my desire to keep the promise I made to the Spanish people more than a year ago," Zapatero said. "Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people."

    Spain may still be involved in nonmilitary ways. That last quote ("more than anything") seems to imply some regret on the part of the new Spanish PM. He's saying its about democratic principles rather than good policy. I'm not committed to the view that pulling out is bad policy; but given the choice between bad democratic policy and good nondemocratic policy, which would you choose? In most cases, including - I think - this one, I'd go with the bad policy.

  • Saturday, April 17, 2004
  • Moonies in fights:
    Hayes said: "I asked him how come you didn't do the right thing, and he said, `It's because you're a Moonie and I don't want to work with you.' Then, he started saying, `Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.'"

    Lawlor recalled saying only "Moonie, Moonie, Moonie."

    (Via Eschaton)

  • Opportunity's new Martian rock is really pretty wild.

  • Friday, April 16, 2004
  • Which one will be this generation's Beta?
    Sony Corp. on Friday unveiled its new mass-production technology for next-generation large capacity optical disks using a blue-violet laser called "Blu-ray" disks, which are capable of recording over two hours of digital high-definition video.

    ...The recording capacity of the disk is 25 gigabytes -- about five times that of the 4.7-gigabyte DVD disk that uses a red laser.

    Sony said it will put Blu-ray disks containing movies on the market possibly next year.

    "The disk will sell for a price almost identical to that of a DVD," a Sony executive said.

    Sony has already marketed a recorder-player for Blu-ray disks and disks themselves for recording. ... Meanwhile, Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp. are seeking to challenge the Blu-ray disk technology by promoting their HD-DVD capable of recording 15 gigabytes of data on one disk.

    Although the data capacity of an HD-DVD is less than that of a Blu-ray disk, makers can manufacture them by taking advantage of existing facilities for DVDs.

    And I don't even have a regular DVD player yet... Damn technology.

  • Svend Robinson's statement concerning his adventures in shoplifting.

  • Big news day, that's for sure. Bin Laden, in classic supervillain fashion, announced that European countries would be spared if they pull their soliders out of Arab countries. They have until Monday, and then he'll unleash his giant "Lazer". Okay, he didn't quite put it that way... Josh Marshall suggests the Bin Laden Truce "pseudo-story" is getting too much coverage, but that the real news of the day has to do with much the same issue, namely the widening gulf between the US and its allies:
    ...the biggest story of the day, the one that will have the greatest impact, happened in South Korea.

    That is the stunning victory by the liberal Uri party in today's elections in South Korea.

    ...It is the continuance of a global trend in which elections in countries allied to the United States are being won by parties advocating loosening ties with America. Running against America -- or really against George W. Bush makes for great politics almost everywhere in the world.

    We saw it in South Korea two years ago. Then later that year in Germany. Recently in Spain. And now again in Korea -- with many other examples along the way.

    Meanwhile, Josh also draws our attention to the nuclear material walking out of unguarded Iraqi facilities. It just defies the imagination.

  • Thursday, April 15, 2004
  • Man Bites Dog... No, really:
    HONG KONG -- A man reportedly turned the tables on a dog in China, fatally biting it after it attacked.
    The Shanghai man was strolling home with friends and was drunk after a night out, the South China Morning Post said. The canine apparently nipped at his fingers and cheek.
    He jumped on the dog and bit it to death, the paper said.

    (via American Digest)

  • It's tough to think under pressure:


  • This is interesting. Let me know if you can figure out what's going on at this website. It's definitely anti-Bush and pro-gun. Part of the new wave of anti-Bush NRA'ers angry about the Patriot Act? Anyway, they've got a clip from Bush's news conference of Bush all confused after a reporter asks him what his biggest mistake since 9/11 has been.

  • Wednesday, April 14, 2004
  • This is big news:
    U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, wrapping up a mission to Iraq to help devise a new plan for creating a democratic Iraqi government, said today that the U.S.-led occupation administration could hand over power as scheduled on June 30 to a new interim government but he acknowledged that the current unrest in the country could upset plans for [January] elections to follow that transfer of power.

    ...He also presented a new design for the interim government, suggesting that it would be led by a prime minister. A president would be the head of state and two vice presidents would also be chosen, he said.

    Brahimi suggested that a number of Iraqis had suggested to him during the visit that after the interim government is established, it should hold a large national conference. Brahimi said he supported the idea -- even suggesting it could occur as soon as July -- because it could "serve the all-important aim of promoting national dialogue, consensus-building and national reconciliation in Iraq." The conference would also name the assembly that would serve with the interim government as Iraq prepares for the election, he said.

    Via Eschaton from the NYT:
    The caretaker government would be led by a prime minister and include a president and two vice presidents. It must include ``Iraqi men and women known for their honesty, integrity and competence,'' Brahimi said.

    Atrios thinks that's code for "Chalabi need not apply."

    PS: WaPo needs an editor. "Brahimi suggested that a number of Iraqis had suggested to him..." ?

  • Tuesday, April 13, 2004
  • Draft Roy Moore for President of the USA. Sign the petition.

  • Added to the list of things to do today:
    Read Kerry's WaPo column "A Strategy for Iraq".
    Watch/Listen to Bush's upcoming news conference - which I think VOA will be broadcasting online, though I'm still searching for the link.

  • Atrios finds an interesting example of why the privitization of various military functions can be a bad idea:
    Kellogg, Brown and Root, a division of Halliburton and one of the biggest contractors, vowed on Monday "to stay the course and move forward with the logistical support to troops," but with unspecified changes in delivery and security procedures.

    But John McCarthy, director of projects for TTS Group, a British company whose Kuwaiti affiliate ships cargo into Iraq, said his company would not operate north of Basra, in the relatively secure south.

    "I wouldn't do that any more than put my hand on a hot stove," McCarthy said in a telephone interview.
    Says Atrios:
    Obviously there's a role for private industry in a war zone. But, there's a big problem when things heat up - they aren't obligated to stay. ... To the extent that our troops are relying on these contractors to keep them in bullets and food... if those contractors scamper off into the night they could be well and truly screwed.

    The privatization of the military is Rumsfeld's baby. From December:
    If Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has his way, the vaunted U.S. military of the future will be transformed into what amounts to corporate-owned units. The daffy secretary calls his plan "outsourcing." ... Much of the U.S. military logistics has been farmed out to private companies, the most prominent of which is Cheney's Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, which does everything from putting up tents, building toilets, getting rid of mosquitoes, and importing cheap cooks from Bangladesh and India. ... One way to cut costs is to send military personnel now performing administrative tasks into the field and giving their jobs to civilians. "More than 300,000 uniformed personnel" are engaged in work civilians could do, Rummy told The Washington Post last year.

    Most of the article focusses on mercenaries and it's interesting reading. For instance, it raises the question of what happens when private armies get engaged in lobbying the government? (Hint: these guys get paid to fight; the government-owned civilian-controlled army gets paid even when it doesn't fight.) Here's more:
    “Whenever US troops venture abroad, Brown and Root builds the barracks, cooks the food, mops the floors, transports the goods and maintains the water systems before and after the soldiers arrive.”-- People's Weekly World Newspaper, 12/14/02

    “If this grand experiment undertaken by our national leadership fails during wartime, the results will be unthinkable.”-- Lt. Col. Lourdes A. Castillo, Air Force logistics expert, quoted in the New York Times, 10/13/02

  • A teenager in a garage with a whole bunch of americium-241.

  • The Pentagon is spending billions on robots. Maybe that's not news, but watch this really creepy video and think about it. Robot soldiers would be a good thing, of course, insofar as they would save real soldiers' lives. But I have to suspect the negatives would outweigh that one significant positive.

  • Read Ezra's post This is Your Country on Bush.

  • Monday, April 12, 2004
  • An update on the Scalia story of Friday:
    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has issued written apologies for the destruction of two reporters' audiotapes by a deputy U.S. marshal in guarding him last week, and has promised to permit print journalists to record his public speeches in the future, according to a letter by the justice made public yesterday.

    ...Frank Fisher, the Associated Press's Jackson, Miss., bureau chief, and Jon Broadbooks, executive editor of the Hattiesburg American, said their reporters had not received the letters from Scalia.

    ..."There is still the lingering question of why the marshal seized the recordings," Broadbooks said. "We feel it was illegal."

  • Something to think on...

    I've seen this phrase a few times lately, most recently at Kevin Drum's blog:
    " institutional weakness of the press."

    In this case, Kevin was referring to the media's tendency to play up trivial matters where they've found a 'smoking gun', and play down important ones where, despite a mountain of evidence, there is no 'smoking gun'. Case in point: the absent presidential reaction to summer-of-2001 intelligence reports of a looming attack on US soil involving explosives and/or airplane hijackings. Kevin is following up on an article by Michael Tomasky which suggests that the press would not get really into the lazy presidency story without a smoking gun:
    In this instance, the smoking gun would probably be nothing short of a secret document that said something like, "al-Qaeda to attack skyscraper; preventive action not recommended."

    The other recent occurrence of this phrase (or almost this phrase) had to do, funnily enough, with the exact same issue. It comes from Richard Reeves and I saw it at Atrios's website:
    The title of the PDB [i.e. the Aug 6 2001 presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States"] may not be a smoking gun, but it certainly qualifies as warning ignored, rather than, as Rice said, a vague historical document. The title, by the way, was published a year ago in The Washington Post, but no one noticed -- as no one noticed a front-page story in The New York Times revealing the secret bombing of Cambodia more than 30 years ago. An institutional flaw of the press is that it says things only once, and if the timing is wrong, no one notices.

    Atrios bolded the same part and like him, I have nothing particularly interesting to say on this issue. But, to sum up, we've found two institutional deficiencies of the press:
    1. they can't make an obvious point without a smoking gun to back it up;
    2. they only say things once so it gets quickly forgotten if it doesn't happen at exactly the right moment.

    So here's something to think on: What can we do about it?

  • Let's face it. America is an awkward colonial power. It throws its weight around absurdly, causing all manner of chaos for little or no avail. More to the point, the US obviously has no sense of how to pick a good colony. Clearly, Canada, which has more recent experience with colonialism, should take any opportunity it has to educate its southerly neighbour on how a good colonizer behaves. For that reason, if for no other, I'm endorsing Canada's new colonial venture in the Turks and Caicos.
    ...The proposal was revived in the 1980s, when Canada commissioned a white paper on Canada-Turks union after a delegation from the islands came to Ottawa seeking political union.

    See, that is how it should be done. The islanders came to Canada asking to be colonized. It wasn't neccesary for Ottawa to lie to Canadians about being welcomed as liberators.... But enough of this. Seriously, what's this about?
    With a population of about 30,000, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British overseas territory 900 kilometres southeast of Florida and 150 kilometres north of Haiti. British officials have said they would not stand in the way of a formal tie between Canada and the islands, if it was the will of the islanders.

    Flag of Turks and Caicos Islands

    Unfortunately, the article says virtually nothing about why we would want the T&C as a new territory/province or to be otherwise united with them. What would the T&Cer's get out of it? What would Canada? The only thing I can think of is that a lot of tax revenue which is currently lost to international tourism could be collected. Here's the article again:
    The Turks and Caicos Islands have become an increasingly popular tourist and investment destination for Canadians and Americans since the islands are considered the last bastion of largely unspoiled and underdeveloped Caribbean territory.

    OK, so maybe we get tourist money. Does that offset the cost of providing various services to the T&C? (I have to say, I do like the acronym.) I have no idea. Plus there are political problems:
    "This would be massively unpopular with citizens of other Caribbean states and make other Caribbean governments very uncomfortable at a time when Canadian, American and French troops ... are stationed on Haitian soil," said [University of Toronto history professor Melanie] Newton, who specializes in Caribbean history.

    I can think of another potential problem. Remote territories tend to be problematic, and the issue of separation would almost certainly come up at some point. Without a long history of membership in the Canadian confederation, and with an obviously distinct vantage on the world, T&C would have a good claim to leave Canada again if the relationship ever became rocky. Would that reignite Quebec/Western/Maritime/whoever separatism? It might seem like a far-fetched question, and fortunately for now it is, since at this point:
    In January, [Chief Minister of T&C] Misick told the TV current affairs program Global Sunday his government was prepared to engage in bilateral talks aimed at forming a political and economic union with Canada, should the people of both nations endorse the concept. ... Misick said he would be prepared to discuss full economic and political union with Canada under the rubric of "free association" -- something akin to the relationship New Zealand has with the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. ... Edmonton Conservative MP Peter Goldring and Quebec Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti have formed a committee to explore the possibility of full Canadian territorial or provincial status for the islands.

    So at this point, few people are seriously talking about adding an 11th province. Though no one seems to be ruling it out either... Here's the CIA World Factbook:
    The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than half of the 93,000 visitors in 1998. Major sources of government revenue include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts. Tourism fell by 6% in 2002 but appeared to be picking up at yearend.

    It's major industries are tourism and "offshore financial services". Would it still be engaged in lucrative financial services in the case of a union with Canada? What happens when the islands are drowned by rising sea levels? OK, I'm just ranting. If anyone has more information or thoughts on this very entertaining issue, by all means make use of the comments. Oh, and thanks to Andy for the link.

  • Saturday, April 10, 2004
  • This Washington Monthly article about Kerry's need for a job-creation theory is good reading. The author makes several good points about government's role in creating opportunities for entrpreneurs, about how Bush's job creation theory is dumb and a proven failures (but at least it's a theory), and how Kerry's at risk of sounding too protectionist. But here's the best part:
    Politicians who talk about helping entrepreneurs usually focus on easing regulations or reducing the cost of capital. These are not unimportant considerations. But anyone who has contemplated leaving a job to start a new venture knows that there is perhaps no greater obstacle than the fear of depriving one's family of health insurance.

    Virtually all of our economic competitors provide universal health insurance, so their citizens don't have to face this dilemma. Americans do....

    Entrepreneurs drive the economy, so - say it with me - Universal Health Care = Jobs. At the very least, this is an interesting, new message that is easily comprehensible, and - unlike the Bush's miserable failure of a tax-the-poor and spend-on-the-defence contractors approach - isn't already a proven miserable failure.

  • All the big blogs are linking to this this email exchange between a news viewer and an employee at a major news network. It's from Wonkette and it's about Matt Drudge's infamous website.

  • Laying the foundation...
    [Rice] repeatedly suggested the administration was hampered because it had been in office for only 233 days before the attacks.


    Preparing an argument to extend the president's term of office? Say, starting this term?

  • Friday, April 09, 2004
  • Read today's posts by River discussing the mess in Falujah and the anniversary of the occupation:'s unfair that the Americans are fighting a war thousands of kilometers from home. They get their dead in neat, tidy caskets draped with a flag and we have to gather and scrape our dead off of the floors and hope the American shrapnel and bullets left enough to make a definite identification...

  • Transcript: Rice's Testimony on 9/11. I'm playing catch up here today.

  • Winston Smith, the Philosoraptor, on Rice's testimony:
    On the general topic why the heck didn't you guys do something to stop 9/11, she said--this is almost a quote but isn't--the real question isn't why we, in our 200-some-odd days in office, didn't do something to stop it; the real question is why wasn't more done before we got into office. No, see, DOCTOR Rice, that isn't the real question at all. That's a question, of course, but there is no sense in which it is the real one. ... The real questions in this case are questions the answers to which can have concrete practical consequences for the future of this country. For example, questions that bear on the issue of whether this administration deserves another term in office. Those are the real questions.

  • I missed this a couple of days ago:
    Two Reporters Told to Erase Scalia Tapes:
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Two reporters were ordered Wednesday to erase their tape recordings of a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a Mississippi high school.

    Scalia has long barred television cameras from his speeches, but does not always forbid newspaper photographers and tape recorders. On Wednesday, he did not warn the audience at the high school that recording devices would be forbidden.

    During the speech, a woman identifying herself as a deputy federal marshal demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments. She said the justice had asked that his appearance not be recorded.

    The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution.

    Now, I suppose Scalia probably has the right to refuse television access or even recording of his speeches. But I don't see how the reporters were obligated to erase recordings when he hadn't previously told them not to. Here's the perspective of a writer to
    When did reporters become such wimps? I wonder why the reporters who were ordered to erase their recordings of Justice Scalia didn't just slip the devices into their pockets and tell the federal cop "arrest me if you'd like, but I'm not erasing anything voluntarily." Not only would they be standing up for their First Amendment rights, they might also get a great story out of it.

    Why would a supreme court justice - whose views are publically recorded all the time in his rulings - be so intent on keeping his speeches off the record?

  • Two links via Eric Blumrich: Another Al Gore Speech from on the "political use of fear in the US". The speech starts about 12:50 into the file, so you can skip the introductions if you like. It's a realplayer link, so you'll need realplayer and a reasonably high speed connection. Also, take a look at this graph of US deaths in Iraq for some perspective on the current upsurge in violence.

  • Thursday, April 08, 2004
  • Via Counterspin, Richard Clarke's response to Rice's testimony.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Condoleeza's prepared speech for the 9/11 commission. It's obviously going to be an interesting day. Unfortunately, I don't expect to be around until much later if at all today. But, via Josh Marshall, here are questions that should be asked of Dr. Rice from the New York Times.

    UPDATE: Fixed the link.

  • Did the US nuke Afghanistan?
    Four months after the attacks in Afghanistan by the US and its allies, under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom, a team of Canadian scientists led by former US Army adviser Dr. Asaf Durakovic, went to the battlefields to test Afghan civilians for evidence of depleted uranium. What they found shocked them.
    Instead of depleted uranium, they found medically significant levels of non-depleted uranium in the urine of 100 percent of civilians tested, who live near bomb sites -- 400% to 2000% higher than the normal population baseline. Where did it come from?

    The authors of the studies conclude that at least some of the bunker buster and precision destruction bombs used in Afghanistan included not just the highly toxic (and relatively well publicized) depleted uranium, but non-depleted uranium as well.
    "The issue is that there's more than one stockpile of metallurgical sources being used for large bunker-buster heavyweight weapons -- a different type of bomb" than depleted uranium weaponry, and much bigger. [Study author Tedd Weyman] acknowledged that "since there's been no disclosure" by Coalition forces, the evidence is circumstantial. But the bomb craters are particularly radioactive, as are the rice fields in the immediate area of the bombing, whereas kilometers away levels are much lower. ... From the description in the reports, these bombs sound like the Nuclear Penetrator Missiles discussed in Bush's Nuclear Posture Review in March, 2002, which the Administration said they were going to test.

    Weyman's hunch: "We tested the prototypes there."
    These may be no more deadly in terms of their radioactive after-affcts than depleted uranium weapons which the US admits to using - but, of course, the US denies that DU weapons have such affects. In any event, they're mini-nukes and they're a tremendously bad plan for a country set on preventing nuclear proliferation or the acquisition of nuclear bombs by terrorist organizations.

  • Wednesday, April 07, 2004
  • To coin a phrase: What's good for Ford is good for the country. Via Counterspin:
    Ford Motor Co. chairman and chief executive Bill Ford Jr. reiterated his support Wednesday for government incentives and a larger tax on fuel to spur consumer interest in gas-electric hybrid vehicles, in which his company is investing heavily. ... He also mentioned his past support of an additional 50-cent tax on gas, which he said would make fuel economy "a purchase motivation for the customer."

    Hesiod suggests that the Kerry campaign should ask Ford to appear in a commercial making that exact point. But I'm inclined to agree with Bill Ford Jr. that such a tax "doesn't have legs" in the political arena. Fundamentally, all it would do is confirm the Bush message that Kerry wants to raise taxes. A better commercial would get the CEO of Ford to talk about the jobs to be had from investment in a green car market and that Kerry can make that happen because, unlike Bush, he has not got the sticky fingers of Big Oil up his butt.

  • Of all Josh Marshall's excellent posts today, I feel it's incumbent upon me to bring you this one:
    Sigh ... Is it immediately clear to you who this statement is about?

    "They have concluded he was so surrounded by sycophants he had no real idea of what was happening in [Iraq]."

    -- Josh Marshall

  • Congratulations to the citizens of Inglewood, California, who just voted to prevent Wal-Mart from landing a collosus in their town. If Wal-Mart stays true to form, they will huff and puff and probably one day blow down the town's opposition. But still, one battle won today.
    It wasn't all bad news for Wal-Mart's global domination ambitions, however. Yesterday the company opened a pilot store in Japan.

    My general impression is that Wal-Mart has not tended to do so well overseas, or in Europe at least. Something to do with its obnoxious management policies chasing away liberally-minded European employees. I fear the same won't be true of Japan, where the culture is more tolerant of obnoxious, totalitarian managers.

  • Raed of Where is Raed fame has a blog of his own, so I recommend you Read Raed. Here's what he has to say about al-Sadr:
    Let me declare some points:

    AsSadr is NOT reflecting a minority of Iraqis, this is a stupid big lie.
    Whether we liked him or not, he is the political and religious leader for MILLIONS of Iraqis in the southern region…
    There are 15 million Iraqis living in the south, and another 5 million in Baghdad, I can say that 5 to 7 millions of them can be considered as AsSadr followers.

    AsSadr is NOT a mere twenty-something year old guy, that is playing games.
    Whether we liked him or not, he is a phenomenon. When people in the south of Iraq look at Muqtada AsSadr, they see the history of his father, the deep roots of his religious supporter: AlHaeri.

    AsSadr is NOT a small follower of the Iranian Government; he has very bad relations with the official government of Iran, unlike Sistani and Hakim.

    AsSadr is THE GOVERNMENT in most of the cities of the south: Amara, Kut, Nasryya and Diwanyya and Simawa partially, and Najaf partially (Kufa is a small city in Najaf that is the center of AsSadr).

  • Local hate crimes. It's hard to know what to make of the recent firebombing of a local Jewish school library. I gather from news reports that some notes left at the scene of the crime indicated an Islamicist anti-Israel motive. Here's the CBC:
    Montreal police have stepped up security around Jewish institutions and Muslim mosques following yesterday's firebombing of a Jewish school in the borough of St. Laurent.

    Why secure Muslim mosques? Just a show of good faith? Anticipation of reprisals? As a not-too-subtle form of stake-out? While it's obvious atrocious and scary, I'm not inclined to make too much of this event. Hopefully they'll catch the people responsible and probably they'll be nobodies. Maybe it's just my big Canadian apathy, but terrorists were at one point planning on bombing a neighbourhood not far from the school - the fact that these guys torched an unoccupied library tells me they're not big players.

    In other local news, via the montreal city weblog, we learn that the police are planning to install security cameras to keep an eye on us. They're setting them up just a couple of blocks from my house! After four months, if they judge the program a success, they'll put some in other "strategic areas". The article notes that privacy laws become more flexible when it's a question of public security - fair enough, but the only crime mentioned is drug dealing. It's true, people do a lot of heroin around here and it's a little freaky. But, rather than subject myself to videotape, I'd rather see more police patrols in the neighbourhood and a safe injection site established somewhere in the city.

  • More on the maneuverings going on between Sadr and Sistani. From a statement today from Sadr:
    Sadr's statement then paid homage to his onetime rival, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has issued support for Sadr's resistance of the Americans, but has stopped short of calling for violence. Sistani -- who has tepidly supported the U.S. occupation or at least, refused to condemn it -- holds enormous sway over Iraq's Shiite population, who consider him their most influential religious leader.

    "I'll free (the holy city of Najaf) and give it to Sisatni on a gold plate if he agrees to take it," Sadr's statement said, a comment that many Mehdi members said indicated an agreement that Sadr would not challenge Sistani's religious authority in exchange for Sistani not condemning the anti-coalition efforts of Sadr.

    "And we are going to take all of the Americans out of Iraq," the statement said. ... Then a speaker thanked members of the crowd not from Sadr City who had come to take part in the revolt, including the Army of Mohammed and Ansar al-Islam.

    Apparently based on this article, Ezra writes that "Sistani has expressed support for Sadr's revolution, giving it a legitimacy it simply shouldn't have," but I think he's got that wrong, since as far as I can tell the article doesn't actually say that. Sadr is making alliances - with Sunni groups like Army of Mohammed and Ansar al-Islam - and now trying to butter up Sistani. He, like the Sunnis, is opposing the Americans, but as far as I can see there is only one reason Sistani would go along: if Sadr wins (or perhaps we should say, if the Coalition loses) the battle for the hearts and minds of the Shiites. The Sunni groups no doubt see a great opportunity in Sadr to divide the Shia and encourage a second front against the occupation. It's going to be hell if Sistani (and/or the rest of the Shiites) go along and back the resistance. The Coalition will have only one friend in Iraq, the Kurds. The Shiite-Sunni alliance couldn't last, so they would be using every chance they got to go for each other's throats. As always, read Juan Cole.
    UPDATE: Consistent with what we read earlier, this from USA Today:
    Prominent Shiite clergy, including powerful Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, were said to be working behind the scenes to defuse the al-Sadr crisis and bring about a peaceful conclusion. There were reports Tuesday that al-Sadr was planning to give himself up to avoid further violence. But those reports could not be confirmed.

  • Tuesday, April 06, 2004
  • Downward, ever downard: "US officials appear to be counting on Shiites not to rally around al-Sadr if they move against him." If this is true. Well... not good. Josh Marshall is "stunned at how quickly things seem to be coming apart in Iraq...." This from UPI:
    U.S. troops supported by Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M-1 tanks surrounded Tuesday the office of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr while a large-scale demonstration of his heavily armed supporters is under way. ... About two hours into the standoff, despite the neighborhood being sealed off by U.S. troops, two Sunni clerics -- one from the Anbar province, which includes the towns of Ramadi and Fallujah, and another from Adamiyah -- arrived with a letter, which proclaimed support for Sadr's opposition to the U.S.-led occupation forces, signaling for the first time a public alliance between the previously Sunni and Baathist resistance and the Iraq's Shiite majority. It is the first time the Army of Mohammed has publicly announced support for Sadr. The letter called upon all Muslims to come together to throw out "infidel occupiers of Iraq."

    So the Sunnis are backing al-Sadr. Probably a good move if they want to make trouble for the Shiites. Al-Sadr is a prominent cleric with a devoted following, but he is not part of the major Shiite establishment. His most prominent competition for influence over the Shiites is Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. So where's Sistani in all this?
    Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has turned down an appeal by Iraq's powerful Shi'ite Muslim establishment to renounce violence, an aide to a leading cleric said on Monday.

    An aide to Mohammad Bahr al-Uloum, a member of the U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council, told Reuters Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, regarded as Iraq's most powerful cleric and a rival of Sadr's, supported the appeal.

    Sistani has made declarations in the past calling on Iraqis to respect state institutions and public order. He has not spoken directly on the violence involving Sadr's supporters, but he is expected to make a statement in the next few days.

    So, unfortunately, although Sistani and the rest of the Shiite establishment recognize that their interests lie in supporting the Coalition, that's not where al-Sadr's interests lie. He's been sidelined from the beginning, so he's been making trouble. But why is Sistani lying so low?

    UPDATE: This Christian Science Monitor article addresses my question.

  • All the news today is about Iraq. And it's all bad. So I decided to look for news on Afghanistan. Here's Sy Hersh talking about why things are bad there too. (I've cut out just the best bits.)
    We won a battle; we drove the Taliban away from the major cities, like Kandahar and Kabul, but they live to fight another day. ... The President we installed, Hamid Karzai, is certainly a decent man, but his power is limited to the capital, Kabul. Clarke described him to me as a “mayor of Kabul.” ... One of the things that Karzai himself said last week, at a conference in Berlin, is that Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a failed state, in large part because of the power of regional warlords and the narcotics trade. ... The Taliban, awful as they were, hated drugs, and in their last year in power heroin production had fallen to a hundred and eighty-five metric tons; last year, the number was thirty-six hundred. ... I’ve been told for more than a year that there were problems of heroin use, in particular among the rear-echelon [U.S.] soldiers in Afghanistan, and that it was a problem that was simply being buried by the leadership. ... [The war in Iraq] is a very unpopular war within the military, much more than any journalist can convey. ... The [Bush] Administration, faced with a problem in Iraq that isn’t going to go away and is not going to get better, determined last year that we would finally begin to spend some of the money that should have been spent right away in Afghanistan, and we’ve committed $2.2 billion for the coming year, and we’ll probably pledge a little more next year. This is seen as an effort to make the best case for the success of Bush’s policy of preëmptive war.

    Hersh's recent New Yorker article, which goes into more depth on these subjects, is here. The final paragraphs really catch my eye. It was obvious to everyone who, you know, didn't have their head up their ass, that the war in Iraq was bound to detract from US efforts in Afghanistan. Finish the first war before you start a second, boys. But, we always hear about this from the perspective of numbers of troops and other military resources. Hersh talked to a US government-relief official who told him about the perspective of Afghanis living in the south and east of the country, where there are "few ties to the central government in Kabul."
    The official recalled being asked constantly about the American war in Iraq. “They were concerned about Iraq, and wanted to know, ‘Are you going to stay?’ They remembered how we left”—after the American-sponsored defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. “They’d say, ‘You guys are going to leave us, like you did in 1992. If we had confidence in the staying power of America, we’d deal with you.’” The official concluded, “Iraq, in their mind, meant that America had bigger priorities."

    This report from the Center for American Progress lays out major limitations of and threats to US efforts in Afhganistan, including the fact that Afghanistan needs at least $27.5 billion in aid over the next seven years to be "on the road to sustainable security." Looking at that number, I'm struck by another way in which the Iraq war probably detracts from the Afghan efforts. The international community can only give so much. In addition to damaging relations with allies (and hence making it more difficult to encourage them to cough up aid money), the Iraq war means that whatever the members of the "coalition" contribute, is (probably) that much less that they will contribute to Afghanistan. Fewer resources, less cooperative locals, less international help. Dumb, dumb, and dumb.

  • Monday, April 05, 2004
  • Josh Marshall today links to this AP article about the extent to which the Office of Strategic Communications - the Coalition's press center in Baghdad - is stacked with GOP loyalists who are determined to spin the news from Iraq so as to help out their beloved leader. It may not seem that surprising, but the part that catches my attention is this:
    The U.S. team stands in deep contrast to the British team that works alongside it, almost all of whom are civil or foreign service employees, not political appointees. Many of the British in Iraq display regional knowledge or language skills that most of the Americans lack.

    They've always got their eyes on the prize. Arabic-speakers! We don't need no stinking Arabic-speakers...

  • Sunday, April 04, 2004
  • Is the fit hitting the shan in Iraq? Right now, the Google News page shows a quote from a CNN article that reads thus:
    Insurgents in three Iraqi cities fired on coalition troops, ignited a car bomb and took over public buildings in Baghdad Sunday, as Paul Bremer, the chief US civilian administrator in Iraq, declared he was creating agencies to plan ...

    However, the link provided by Google links to an article which doesn't have the words "public buildings" in it. What's up, I wonder?

    This WaPo article has a fair bit of detail on today's and the past week's violence, though a quick scan of it doesn't reveal anything about those "public buildings" either. It looks like the "insurgents" are supporters of Shiite cleric Sadr, and it may be the only thing that is holding them in check is his continued support for nonviolence. In the past week, his newspaper has been shut down and a close aide has been arrested. Juan Cole has analysis. He declares that "Phase II of the Anti-Occupation Struggle" has begun.
    So far, about 60% of clashes with Coalition troops had occurred in the Sunni heartland of Iraq. But the violent clashes in Najaf, Baghdad, Amara and Nasiriyah may signal the beginning of a second phase, in which the US faces a two-front war, against both Sunni radicals in the center-north and Shiite militias in the South. The clashes come at a pivotal moment, since on Friday April 9, the Shiite festival of Araba'in will take place, coinciding this year with the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein. ... The outbreak of Shiite/Coalition violence is a dramatic challenge to US military control of Iraq. The US is cycling out its forces in the country, bringing in a lot of reserve and national guards units, but will go from 130,000 to only 110,000 troops. It is too small a number to really provide security in Iraq, but the country has not fallen into chaos in part because the main attacks have come in the Sunni heartland and because the Coalition has depended on Shiite militias to police many southern cities. If the Shiites actively turn against the US, the whole military and security situation could become untenable.

    River of Riverbend lends her perspective here. Maybe she's got the facts of the "public building" reference: An Iraqi friend in Diwaniya was telling me that they had to evacuate the CPA building in Najaf because it was under attack. He says there’s talk of Jihad amongst the Shi’a.
    Several of the major news outlets (including the revised CNN piece) discuss the fact that today Bremer announced the creation of some new Iraqi security institutions, including an intelligence service (much toned down from the Saddam-era service), a Ministerial Committee for National Security and a Ministry of Defense. As CNN puts it:
    The violence detracted from what was to be a milestone day for the coalition with Bremer announcing he was creating three agencies to better shape security policies appropriate for the country.

    But River has a different insight: The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Iraqis- the head of the occupation announcing a "Ministry of Defense". To defend against what? Occupation? Ha, ha...

  • Saturday, April 03, 2004
  • In Distortion of Truth, White House Aide Says Science Not Being Distorted.
    President Bush's chief science adviser fired back yesterday at a scientists' advocacy group that had accused the administration of distorting facts to support a conservative political agenda.

  • Kevin Drum has discovered a neat trick. You don't need to actually read Scott McLellan's answers in the White House press gaggles to understand them. Just read the questions. The reporters keep asking the same questions over and over again, so you know Scott's long-winded answers dont actually contain, you know, answers.

  • The fight for hearts and minds continues...:
    On a cold night in November, M., her mother, and four brothers had been sleeping when their door suddenly came crashing down during the early hours of the morning. The scene that followed was one of chaos and confusion... screaming, shouting, cursing, pushing and pulling followed. The family were all gathered into the living room and the four sons- one of them only 15- were dragged away with bags over their heads. The mother and daughter were questioned- who was the man in the picture hanging on the wall? He was M.'s father who had died 6 years ago of a stroke. You're lying, they were told- wasn't he a part of some secret underground resistance cell? M.'s mother was hysterical by then- he was her dead husband and why were they taking away her sons? What had they done? They were supporting the resistance, came the answer through the interpreter.

    How were they supporting the resistance, their mother wanted to know? "You are contributing large sums of money to terrorists." The interpreter explained. The troops had received an anonymous tip that M.'s family were giving funds to support attacks on the troops.

    I can't blame the troops for this. They're dealing with a messy, horrible situation. Anonymous tips can be genuine, or they can be a matter of a neighbour angry over some totally petty disagreement. But the soldiers can't be expected to know truth from lies. On the other hand, torture and rape are not so easily excused:
    M. and her mother were taken to the airport for interrogation. M. remembers being in a room, with a bag over her head and bright lights above. She claimed she could see the shapes of figures through the little holes in the bag. She was made to sit on her knees, in the interrogation room while her mother was kicked and beaten to the ground. ... A couple of terrible months later- after witnessing several beatings and the rape of a male prisoner by one of the jailors- in mid-January, M. was suddenly set free.... M. and her uncle later learned that a certain neighbor had made the false accusation against her family. The neighbor's 20-year-old son was still bitter over a fight he had several years ago with one of M.'s brothers. All he had to do was contact a certain translator who worked for the troops and give M.'s address. It was that easy.

  • This is insane:
    In a dark, cold closet, a 13-year-old girl shivered and muffled her sobs as she listened to her relatives scream in pain while a man beat them to death with a pipe.

    The whimpers of the girl's nieces and nephew and their mother stopped late Wednesday night, after nearly 24 hours of torture in a run-down, boarded-up bungalow in northeast Detroit.

    By then, Christina knew they were dead.

    She kept quiet until Thursday morning, when the man accused of killing his 33-year-old girlfriend, Christina's sister, and the woman's four children -- ages 9, 12, 14 and 16 -- told her he was leaving the house to get some money. ... In the last week, five children have been killed in the city. A toddler was accidently shot in the head Sunday by her caretaker, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

    (source) (via Counterspin)

    I've edited out some truly graphic and horrific details from the story. Follow the links if you wish. Hesiod rightly asks, "What the hell is wrong with this world?"

  • Friday, April 02, 2004
  • We are finally catching up. Quebec, so often the vanguard of liberalism in this country, can finally celebrate its first gay marriage. Next up: free injection sites? Anyone listening?

  • Thursday, April 01, 2004
  • Letterman update: CNN now denies the Whitehouse ever contacted them about the footage. But the story is murky and how a spokesperson could have thought the Whitehouse had called when it hadn't isn't clear. Details here. The question everyone's asking is: is it a mistake, or did CNN first relay a Whitehouse lie and then try to save face for the Whitehouse by taking the blame itself?

  • The NDP has released its Environment Platform. Sticks & Stones has a rundown. Generally, it looks very good, though I want to see more specifics on a few things.

  • A rather striking letter at Poynter Online today:
    Editors across the country will grapple this evening with which and how many, if any, of the nauseating photos from Falluja they will publish in tomorrow's editions. While I still have a few hours to chime in, let me suggest this:

    Run the ugliest, most unnerving, cruelest photos you can find. Run them on the front page.

    As writers have often suggested in this space, the role of journalism is not to soothe; it is to report on the world and its people without painting them as cliches. The most responsible journalists have taken care since September 11 to portray Muslims and Arabs not as a mindless and monolithic rabble, but as a fractured mash of ideologies, ethnicities, and politics. In most cases, I'd think we've made our subjects human,
    despite prevailing stereotypes.

    Well, today we got a look at the human id, and it is nothing if not the cliche good reporting has helped to debunk. Like any cliche, the image of benighted desert throngs has its origins in a kernel of truth, and that kernel is in Falluja. Only the most graphic photos could connote for readers the moral barbarity of yesterday's riot. Readers will surely complain to ombudsmen about being disgusted; that is how editors will know they have done their jobs.

    Hesiod has good discussion of this here, where he discusses the imminent US response: This is turning into the Goddamn Iraqi intafada. They commit an attack or atrocity, we respond with force, which inflames opinion against us and fuels reserntment and recruitment for more attacks.

  • So, filesharing is legal in Canada, at least for now.
    This decision may be short-lived, however, as the Canadian Government may pass legislation by the end of the year that supports World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties protecting international copyrights (the basis for the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA).

    The best discussion I've seen of the Recording Industry's stance on this issue is utterly wrongheaded is here (and part two is here). This Globe and Mail article gives a fair bit of detail on the decision. It looks to me as if the recording industry didn't put forward their best possible case. Maybe they thought the court would roll over for them. Although the judge ruled that "Downloading a song for personal use does not amount to [copyright] infringement" because he "cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory," the case was primarily about whether Internet Service Providers should be forced to provide the names of filesharers to the recording industry. On that note, who's your ISP?
    Shaw Communications Inc. was "very pleased" with the decision, president Peter Bissonnette said. Shaw, along with Rogers Communications Inc., BCE Inc. and Telus Corp., all fought CRIA [Canadian Recording Industry Association]'s request. Only Vidéotron Ltée of Montreal agreed to comply, citing its own interests in the music industry.

    So Videotron was more interested in music profits than in the privacy rights of its internet customers.

  • No issue is too small for these guys to lie and bully the media over. David Letterman has learned the truth of this, and Atrios has brought it to our attention. Here's the story. Letterman dug up some footage of Bush giving a speech in Florida. Standing behind Bush was a young kid who kept yawning and stretching and checking his watch and generally having a hard time looking interested in whatever Bush was saying. Funny stuff - click here to watch it on realplayer. But here's what happened, according to the lateshow website:
    It was very funny. So funny, in fact, that CNN replayed the clip Tuesday during their broadcasts. But, but, but, the first time is was shown, CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan reported that the White House said the clip was a total fake, it was merely the Late Show having fun with their ability to edit and do TV tricks. Dave says what the CNN reporter said was an out and out 100% lie. A couple hours later, CNN anchor person Kyra Phillips reported that the kid was at the speech but not where the Late Show had him. Dave again makes the claim, "That's an out and out absolute 100% lie. That kid was exactly where we said he was." It's true. The speech was at a Florida Rally on March 20th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Dave is irked that the White House was trying to make him look like a jerk. But he's glad he got his side of the story out in the open.

    The CNN footage (which Dave rebroadcast) is here.
    So, long story short: the White House called CNN to lie about the fact that a kid got bored listening to a Bush speech. Twice.

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