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September 20, 2002


Iraq: We Break It, We Buy It
Josh Marshall and Tapped beat me to the punch with posts on this, but James Fallows spends a good number of paragraphs in the next issue of The Atlantic detailing how America's duties in Iraq would continue long past the close of a war.
[T]he day after a war ended, Iraq would become America's problem, for political and practical reasons. Because we would have destroyed the political order and done physical damage in the process, the claims on American resources and attention would be comparable to those of any U.S. state. conquered Iraqis would turn to the U.S. government for emergency relief, civil order, economic reconstruction, and protection of their borders. They wouldn't be able to vote in U.S. elections, of course -- although they might after they emigrated. [Every American war has created a refugee-and-immigrant system.] But they would be part of us.

Greg G. @ 5:04 PM | # |


How to Scramble a Senate
If Robert Novak didn't mess up your head yesterday with his column on a possible Republican push to run a lame-duck session of the Senate, just wait -- Wyeth Ruthven, with an assist from U.Va. political scientist Larry Sabato, has cooked up a possible outcome that sounds even weirder.
The Doomsday Scenario

Nov. 4: The current Senate (50 Dem - 49 GOP - 1 Ind) DEM CONTROL
Nov. 5: Talent beats Carnahan, Dems only pick up one other Senate seat, Murkowski wins in Alaska.
Nov. 6: Talent is seated. (New Senate: 50 GOP - 49 Dem - 1 Ind) GOP CONTROL
Dec. 2: Murkowski resigns to become governor (New Senate 49 GOP - 49 Dem - 1 Ind) DEM CONTROL
Dec. 7: Murkowski appoints a GOP Senator (New Senate 50 GOP - 49 Dem - 1 Ind) GOP CONTROL
Jan. 7: New Senate convenes, Dem pickup Senator is seated (New Senate 50 Dem 49 GOP 1 Ind) DEM CONTROL

Greg G. @ 4:26 PM | # |


The Man's Full of Surprises
Jason Rylander sings? Wow, what a multitalented guy. Best of luck at the audition.

Greg G. @ 3:41 PM | # |


You've Got to Be Kidding Me
An FBI agent was what?!!

[Link courtesy of Tom Tomorrow.]

Greg G. @ 3:38 PM | # |


Pot Kettle Black
"It's unfortunate that Sen. Daschle would seek to politicize such an important issue as the environment."

--White House spokesman Taylor Gross, commenting on
last night's remarks by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) at a
League of Conservation Voters dinner

Greg G. @ 2:37 PM | # |

September 19, 2002


Avast, Ye Scurvy Mates!
Today, according to NPR, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrrrrrrrr!

Note: Charles Kuffner went to town on this yesterday, and then some. The boy's starting to scare me. =,

Greg G. @ 9:57 PM | # |


What to Make of This?
I learned late this morning that Atlanta's mayor and city council president have both found invitations in their inboxes to have a sit-down lunch with . . . Donald Rumsfeld. Yep -- the SecDef himself.

He probably wants to talk about Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, two local posts that host the headquarters of the First Army. No need to fear. Of course not. I just wish I could get the peach fuzz on my forearms to quit already with the horripilation.

Greg G. @ 3:42 PM | # |


On the Web Today
Lots of great information popping up all over the place this week. Here's a roundup:
  • Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) dropped the H-word on the president in a speech yesterday: addording to The New York Times, Daschle "cit[ed] a 'tragic trend' of two million lost jobs, weak economic growth and a stock market decline he called unparalleled since Herbert Hoover."
  • Hank Perritt, dean of the Chicago-Kent School of Law and a Democratic candidate for Congress from the Illinois North Shore, weighed in with what might be the first cogent liberal critique of war in Iraq I've seen.
  • On the Wired website, you can read a profile of Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law's in-house cyberlaw guru, from the magazine's October issue. Read it for the commentary on the Microsoft case and the coming Supreme Court appeal in Eldred v. Ashcroft -- and while you're at it, check out his blog.
  • Jessica at the Blog of Chloe and Pete tells us what's really on the mind of Mickey Kaus.
  • At the Daily Kos: A labor hero gets a stamp. It's about time.
  • Quoth the Sahara Desert: "Re-treeeeeeat!" [Courtesy of Nick Denton.]
  • Eric Raymond writes about another risk posed by war in Iraq: "I'm not joking about the moral hazards of imperialism, either. They may be a more serious danger to a free society than the short-term exigencies of war. Witness the fact that I, a radical libertarian anarchist for more than twenty years, find myself arguing for a position not all that easy to distinguish from reactionary military expansionism. Urgent survival threats make strange bedfellows. And it is all too plausible that. if we take this path, we might degenerate from imperialists by necessity to imperialists by habit and predilection."
  • Sam Heldman offers sharp thoughts on how to handle the Senate confirmation hearings of conservative law professor Michael McConnell -- then posts about one of my favorite bands ever. [Did I mention that he went to my high school? Good grief -- what a small world. =, ]

Greg G. @ 2:27 PM | # |


Out With the Old, In With the New
My blogroll had started to get seriously out of whack this month, so I worked with it this morning to get it current, adding some great sites I've stumbled across since starting this blog. I had to toss a few links aside, too. The biggest change: no more Sully. I might explain why in another post. [Nick Denton, of course, beat me to that decision -- he dropped that link yesterday.]

Anyhow, I'm way more comfortable with this new set of links, and I think some of the sites over there are the bees' knees. Get to reading 'em.

I've also toyed with the design in the last few days, as you might have noticed -- I got sick of the old template, and opted not to switch back after going half-dark on Sept. 11. I think I've taken a step up, but something's missing -- the color scheme and the layout don't play off well against each other, leaving the page looking a little wan.

Any suggestions? Fire away.

Greg G. @ 1:38 PM | # |


Giving the Debit Card a Workout
In between blogging, work, procrastination and all that, I've neglected a few of my responsibilities lately -- like, for instance, my responsibility to keep my collection stocked with new music. Now there's a job I've fallen down big time on; I haven't plunked down for much since picking up Yankee Hotel Foxtrot back in April.

Since I didn't feel like heading straight back home after the blogger meetup, I walked a couple of doors down to check out the shelves at Criminal Records. I've spent a few weeks stuck in a music rut, as I said, so the challenge was holding myself back from buying half the store.

I fared pretty well by that standard, but I couldn't resist the urge to ditch my alt-country leanings for a second to play some catch-up. I picked out the new DJ Shadow right off the bat, but then found myself getting tugged by the latest Flaming Lips CD. Not to mention the other discs trying to get my attention: Koop, Neko Case, Beth Orton, Solomon Burke, Los Lobos. Just too darned many to pick from. [And that's after having forgotten some.]

Eventually I whittled out the Flaming Lips record -- good as it sounded, it felt too pretentious tonight. I needed to hear some straight-on sounds. So on top of the DJ Shadow record, I threw in the Trail of Dead disc, which blew me away with just a couple of cuts. To round out the threesome, I went mainstream: I bought the import version of the Strokes CD, hype notwithstanding. So what about all the hot air? The songs sound plenty good, if you ask me.

The new Steve Earle hits the street next week, so that means I'll make another trip to the record store in the next few days. To whet my appetite, music critic Robert Christgau wrote a column about the CD in the latest Village Voice:
What has been the chief domestic casualty of this war on terrorism that keeps changing its spots? The Bill of Rights as exemplified by political dissent, most believe. How to fight back? Exercise the right to dissent. That's the joy of this record, which . . . gives off a sense of freedom and defiance that's rock and roll, not protest music. This artistic effect is made possible in part by all the play Earle has relinquished — by what might be construed as his ultimate political ineffectiveness. The Rising [by Bruce Springsteen] is dragged down, with a few magnificent exceptions, by the overburdened emotions and conceptual commonplaces of the great audience that inspired it. Jerusalem travels light and gets where it's going.
Sounds like a winner. After buying that, though, I'll have to go rootsy again and fetch the Ralph Stanley bluegrass record. I live down South, after all -- if I want one iota of a political future down here, the New York Times tells me, I'd better keep my country bonafides polished up.

[Village Voice link courtesy of Brian Linse.]

Speaking of Southern Democrats: Don't even think about cajoling me into taking up NASCAR, people. Every man's got his limits. That's a few parsecs past mine. =,

Greg G. @ 12:30 AM | # |


Evening Update
After work, I dropped by the Atlanta blogger meetup in Little Five Points on a lark, and had a pretty good time. Only four of us were there, but we ended up talking for a couple of hours about all sorts of fun stuff: the joy of TiVo, the SxSW interactive festivals, wish lists, blogging for profit, the warblogger/tech blogger divide -- you name it. If tonight was any indication, these meetups are definitely worth spending some time to check out.

Greg G. @ 12:12 AM | # |

September 18, 2002


Cynthia Loses It
Breaking news from Max Sawicky, kung-fu economist extraordinaire: at a speech last weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus annual conference, Cynthia McKinney finally, demonstrably, took leave of her senses. Bathing in the glow of her brave stance against -- what was it? Oh, yes -- deliberately allowing terrorist mass killings to happen in order to let family profit, the deposed congresswoman told the audience about:
  • the conspiracy linking the deaths of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.;
  • the "mortal blow" her defeat dealt to "the future of independent black leadership"; and
  • how vindicated she feels about asking the question "[w]hat did the Bush Administration know, and when did it know it?"
This is how she plans to get elected president? Good luck. As Max put it, "[a]fter this week's swan song, she's going to have to be born again to rebuild her reputation."

Greg G. @ 3:27 PM | # |


Sage words from the President today on the need to train a watchful eye on Iraq: "There's an old saying in Tennessee.  I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee.  It says fool me once . . . shame on . . . uh . . . shame on . . . you. . . . Fool me . . . can't get fooled again."

I want to do a favor for the country and the president. I want to get Bush more into reading books, and I want to spare us the flush of embarrassment that hits us every time Bush does yet another hatchet job on the English language.

In short, I want a win-win solution here. I want to buy the president one of these.

The collection fund starts tomorrow. Anyone with me?

Note: You can hear an audio clip of the president's latest malaprop here, courtesy of Media Whores Online.

Greg G. @ 1:00 AM | # |


Peace Breaking Out All Over
In a development at the other end of the Axis of Evil, Yet-Not-Quite-So-Threatening-As-It-Looked-A-Few-Months-Back, North Korea has struck up a rapprochement with the Japanese government, confessing to the kidnapping of 12 Japanese nationals and signing deals that lay the groundwork for billions of dollars in reparations to North Korea for Japan's wartime occupation. [The kidnappings are absolutely contemptible, and should be investigated and condemned.] In return, North Korea agreed to terminate its ballistic missile testing program -- the existence of which, as you might recall, the Bush adminstration said proved the need for national missile defense.

That's two down in a week. Iran, got anything interesting to say today?

Greg G. @ 12:35 AM | # |


Bush, Rove: "What Do We Do Now?"
The Daily Kos has the definitive take on what happens now that Saddam has pulled the rug out from under the Bush war party:
From a campaign standpoint, Iraq is a dead issue. Bush could've declared victory and embraced Iraq's offer with a variation of Reagan's "trust but verify". Instead, the UN (and even Democrats) can take credit for averting war, while the nation and its press turn their attention back to Enron, 401(k)s, ballooning deficits and rising unemployment.
As if to drive the point home, Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has done a volte-face on the timetable for an Iraq debate:
In Washington today, Vice President Dick Cheney lobbied Congress for swift action on a resolution authorizing force against Iraq, and the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, who had earlier said a debate might take a long time, predicted a vote "well before the election." Asked why, Mr. Daschle said that the administration had done much of what Democrats wanted, by going to the United Nations and consulting Congress, and that "now we are reciprocating."
Heh. There you go, Mr. President. Now, what were you saying about corporate excesses?

Greg G. @ 12:20 AM | # |

September 17, 2002


Georgia Politics Roundup
I need to get y'all caught up on Georgia politics, don't I? Well, since I lost the script last Wednesday:
  • Political novice and card-carrying Sons of Confederate Veterans member John Noel, 31, beat the ur-Cynthia -- Billy McKinney -- in a primary runoff for the state House of Representatives seat he's held for 30 years. When asked, the elder McKinney blamed blacks for staying home in droves, and everybody else for voting for a "Klansman."
  • His daughter blames the Democrats, and spends her time these days musing about running for president on the Green Party ticket. It wouldn't be the first time a politician failed upward, of course. How do I know? Check Harken Energy's stock price.
  • GOP gubernatorial nominee Sonny Perdue preaches about self reliance and cutting "unnecessary bureaucracy," but longtime political observer Bill Shipp tells us that Perdue and family -- including his late father -- took in nearly $280,000 in farm subsidies between 1996 and 2001, enough money to put him in the top fifth of subsidy recipients. Property taxes on his Houston County farm haven't risen a cent in ten years, and he owes Peach and Gordon counties thousands of dollars in back taxes dating back to 1997. Those pesky facts, always getting in the way . . .
  • But wait, there's more: hints from the National Rifle Association have Perdue losing the gun lobby's endorsement to incumbent Roy Barnes, who earned its blessing in 1998. The GOP challenger has a plan, though: hey, governor, let's duel!

    According to the Associated Press, Perdue sent a note to the Barnes yesterday challenging the governor to a clay pigeon shoot-off, with he who cracks the most clay taking home the NRA endorsement. In comments to the press, Perdue urged the NRA to "choose wisely" before endorsing Barnes a second time around.

    The governor's campaign office, oddly enough, has yet to issue a response.

Greg G. @ 11:39 PM | # |


. . . and the Cookie Monster, Too
If cartoonist Mike Luckovich has it right, the Feds have found yet more Al Qaida:

Not evil Bert again!

Greg G. @ 10:43 PM | # |


Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It had been a while since my last trip, but I've finally rested up from spending the weekend in Washington. As always, I had a good time.

And that's the problem.

When I ditched the law firm in Chicago, I thought I'd spend a couple of weeks airing out, then hop right up to Washington. I had an offer from a cool company an old friend set me up with, friends galore to get back to -- all was right with the world. I got a case of butterflies, though, about whether quitting private practice was the right decision.

That was two and a half years ago, and I've gotten way more comfortable with the choice I made. Thing is, though, I'm nowhere near Washington. Every time I go there, I get seriously reflective -- I think about everything from goofing around in Adams Morgan to reading the Post on the Metro, dabbling in Virginia politics, walking around Old Town, noshing at Chesapeake Bagel . . . all the stuff I used to do more often. It's like feeling homesick -- 'cept I'm homesick for a place I've never lived. =,

I'm fine living down South, but my home's in Alabama, not Atlanta. The town has lots to offer, but it isn't where I grew up. Don't get me wrong -- I work with a great outfit, and I don't mind having the family around. Whenever I fly back here, though, I keep waiting for that fuzzy sensation you get when you're heading home. It never comes.

Last month at Denise Majette's victory party, the thought occured to me that I might want to follow her to Washington. She'll need a staff, after all. I've got the phone number of one her strategists sitting in my inbox. Come tomorrow, I think I'll call it.

Greg G. @ 10:31 PM | # |


No Need to Feel Bummed
The Daily Mail [London]: "Why your bum looks big in this." What gives Jennifer Lopez her well-covered assets? According to researchers, it's all in the genes. The chief study had to do with sheep, but according to the article, "far from worrying about the size of their bottoms, women with the curvaceous shape of a Marilyn Monroe or Jennifer Lopez should be aware that a fuller derriere is often a sign of good health. A recently completed 25-year study of women showed those with large bottoms were less likely to suffer heart attacks, diabetes or cardiovascular disease."

In other news, at a Seattle press conference today, Sir Mix-a-Lot announced plans to relaunch his career with a series of health-oriented public service announcements. =,

Greg G. @ 2:47 PM | # |

September 16, 2002


Are You Ready for Some Football? Mais Non!
This might seem strange in the land of soccer moms and Brandi Chastain, but The New York Times reports today that the French are about as perplexed at girls' soccer as we Statesiders are about Jerry Lewis. Only one in 25 kids who play on organized teams in France are girls, and "[t]he stigma they suffer," the paper reports, "often makes them feel they have to keep it a secret."

Wait -- is this the same France that forces political parties to guarantee that half of their candidates for local, legislative or European posts are women? The mind reels at the disconnect -- a country with rigid gender quotas for a matter as basic as political representation can't loosen up enough to handle the thought of girls wearing cleats.

Call America imperfect, but it's managed to introduce women to team sports without going through a full-fledged societal collapse. Heck, women's sports haven't just survived, they've thrived -- most bellyaching these days comes from men's teams in lesser sports who've been run over by the Title IX onslaught.

At the same time -- sacre bleu! -- we've managed to find some potent female political talent without passing a law. In my town, Atlanta, women run the show, serving as mayor and city council president. Up in Washington, meanwhile, electing women has all but become a cottage industry -- Emily's List, a group dedicated to putting women in office, has managed in a few short years to turn itself into one of the most feared political action committees in the land. France? It once had a woman prime minister, Edith Cresson -- but she got herself fired in ten months, then managed to bring down the entire European Commission when she took her act to Brussels.

Comical, but quintessentially French. While Americans went after gender inequality on the playing fields, French officialdom made war on gender inequality in the places of state. In a place where the most sought after college admission letter comes from a school for civil servants, and where even today, officials can kick up a dust storm over the notion of selling of a textbook and dictionary company to foreign interests -- that probably makes sense. But that sort of top-down government management, or dirigisme, hardly worked wonders for French industry. Why expect better results here?

Memo to France: relax about political quotas, and concentrate on helping young French women get a chance to kick a football before the age of 13. Plant ideas with them when they're young, and there's no telling how far the girls might go.

Note: Whatever we do, though, we have to keep quiet about women's football and boxing. Methinks the French can't handle that yet.

Greg G. @ 11:22 PM | # |


As Good As It Gets
  • If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for [the United Nations] to act.
    President Bush, September 13, 2002
  • Iraq has told the UN it is ready to readmit weapons inspectors.
    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the offer -- in a letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri -- was unconditional.
    BBC News, "Iraq Agrees to Weapons Inspections," September 16, 2002
Say, Mr. President -- what was that "important matter of national security," again?

Greg G. @ 8:04 PM | # |

September 15, 2002


There Are Some Things In Life Money Can't Buy
Price of a round-trip plane ticket from Atlanta to Washington Dulles: $208.00
Price of a turkey sandwich, Utz chips and an IBC for a Saturday lunch spent hanging out at the Potbelly in Ballston: $6.71
Price of a Washington Post picked up at a paper box just across from the Ballston Common Mall: $0.35
Seeing this shot of Sept. 11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh's sorry mug blazed across the front page:


Greg G. @ 11:04 PM | # |