Monday, September 29, 2003

Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
A lot of good and interesting people have died in the last few days. It's hard to make sense of such things. Donald O'Connor deserves a minute of our time to applaud his going out with the most class.
[A]ccording to his family's brief statement, among his last words were, "I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get."

Sunday, September 28, 2003

L’Affaire Plame
The blogs are alive with the sound of someone about to go down for outing Valerie Plame. I’ve actually been following the Wilson/Plame business since the very beginning. My reason for not covering it till now is, simply, that my blogging betters have done such a good job, that by the time I was able to drag my red furry butt to the computer every night, all the good points had been taken. However, now we are moving into feeding frenzy mode and I must participate, whether or not I have anything original to contribute.

For those arriving late to this story, Valerie Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wlison. Wilson is the man who went to Niger last year and determined that the bogus claims of Saddam getting high-grade uranium ore (yellowcake) from them were improbable to the point of ridiculous. He earned the enmity of the administration by writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times that exposed the administration as second-rate liars for including the yellowcake story in the State of the Union Address. For some reason, someone exposed his wife as a CIA operative to Robert Novak (their goal, presumably, was to present his trip to Niger at his own expense as a junket acquired through nepotism. Who wouldn’t jump at a chance to spend February in the Sahara Desert?). David Corn of The Nation pointed out that is a felony to expose a CIA operative, but nothing political or journalistic came of the matter. Till now.

Novak’s piece appeared on July 14, Ari Fleisher’s last day at the White House. The best coverage and analysis of the business at that point was be found in the blogs of Mark Kleiman, Josh Marshall, and Kevin Drum. Go read their archives; its worth the investment of time.

Friday, NBC scooped the journalistic world by reporting that the CIA had formally requested that the Department of Justice investigate who in the White House exposed Plame. By midnight Saturday, the other news agencies were reporting that DOJ had opened an investigation. The Washington Post featured a 25 paragraph, front-page piece on the business on today’s Sunday edition and the rest of the news media have finally picked up the story.

Four other points are necessary to bring you up to speed on this story:
  1. The law against exposing CIA agents was the baby of Vice President George Bush in 1982.
  2. Last July, Novak cited his source for exposing Plame as two senior administration officials.
  3. The CIA request for an investigation specifies White House officials.
  4. Today’s Post story quotes an unnamed senior administration official as saying the Plame story was shopped around to six different journalists before Novak bit.

As I said, Left Blogistan is in feeding frenzy mode over this. Go to Atrios for links to all the best comments. The questions we are asking are these:
  1. Who are the two high officials that exposed Plame to Novak in the first place. In Washingtonese, “senior administration officials” means deputy cabinet rank or higher, about forty people. The current CIA request narrows this down to senior White House officials, about ten people. For clarity’s sake, I’ll call them the leakers. At least six reporters and, presumably, their editors know the answer to this. This can’t stay secret for very long. Wilson already suggested Rove. My instinct is to look at this as a continuation of the fight between the administration neo-cons and the intelligence community. I won’t be too literate about the semantic parsing of “senior administration officials.” I’m leaving the door open to anyone close to Cheney, Rumsfeld. Rove, and possibly Fleisher himself. This is a larger pool of suspects than others are looking at.
  2. How did the leakers even know about Plame? The CIA keeps the names of operatives narrowly compartmentalized. While information moves around, the sources of that information usually do not. I don’t have any speculation here. However, I think the answer to this could easily provide the answer to the previous question.
  3. Who is the senior administration official that talked to the Post? For clarity’s sake, I’ll call them the whistleblower. We have the same semantic problem in determining who “senior administration officials” includes, though I, in keeping with the above mentioned instinct expect it to be someone from the intelligence community or, less likely, the Sate Department.

The most important question has not yet been asked. I’ll ask it now. What are we going to call this mess? Please God, don’t let it be Plamegate.
Don’t worry about Roy
I’m not sure how good the Ten Commandments have been to Roy Moore as an anchor and guide in his life, but they sure have been good for him as a career move. Just think, half-dozen years ago he was a fairly forgettable local judge. As local big-shots go, a judgeship can be pretty nice to have. The position carries with it a lot of respect and gravitas. But there was no reason to expect his star to be destined to shine in any firmament larger than the county level.

Then he got into a pissing match over the Ten Commandments. His defiance made him a state celebrity and by playing all of the populist cards of “us and them,” and “outsiders telling us what to do”, he managed to become Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (which is as strong an argument against an elected judiciary as any I could come up with).

We all know the next act. He snuck a bigger and more public Ten Commandments monument into the state courthouse under cover of darkness and prepared to take his defiance act to the next level. He became a national player in the never-ending struggle over church and state separation. I don’t know if he had designs on riding this to a higher political office or if he just enjoyed the fight and his resulting celebrity. The result, of course, was that he lost every fight, cost the State of Alabama hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was suspended from his job.

So why do I say this has been good for his career? Simple, Moore’s career hasn’t been law for years. His real career is that of a spokesman for the religious right. This summer’s circus in Montgomery and his attendant martyrdom at the hands of liberals, the media, the elites, secular humanists, and so on (I’m sure Jews, Masons, kitten-eating aliens, and rootless cosmopolitans appear on some lists) have made him a movement superstar. Already, the paid speaking engagements are pouring in.

Though I would rather he faded into a well-deserved obscurity, this is not going to be the case. For years to come, Roy Moore will be a standard feature wherever and whenever theocrats gather. I hope he has a good agent; he’ll need one.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Return of the patron cockroach
In a crazed desire to insure my own blogging immortality, I have decided to announce Cockroach Blogging Saturdays in imitation of Kevin Drum and Cat Blogging Fridays.

I’m kidding. Actually, I had planned to write this blog about my patron cockroach last night and offer it with the clever headline Cat (and cockroach) blogging Friday. However, normal life and its crises intervened: being stupid at work led me into two hours of late detours, I came home to find my wife tending to a serious set of catastrophes with her oldest friend, and by the time I got the computer it was too late for me to think clearly. So here it is, late Saturday, and I’m trying to think of a disingenuous way to do yesterday’s blog today.


The other day I received a letter from M. Allen, a reader of obvious taste and refinement, who expressed pleasure at seeing Archy on the web. This seems like as good an excuse as any to say a few words about Archy and the art of Archy. I've also fired up the old and scanner and prepared a few pictures for the old blog.

Archy at work

Archy, the journalistic cockroach, first appeared as a correspondent of Don Marquis in his column The Sun Dial in 1916. Archy was a vers libre poet who was reincarnated into the body of a cockroach. By throwing himself headfirst onto the keys of Marquis’ typewriter, Archy was painfully able to type out his messages, one letter at a time, without capitals or punctuation, beating out e. e. cummings by a generation. Archy, accompanied by his friend Mehitabel, a fellow reincarnatee and cat of questionable character, watched the world come and go, a sort of urban, immigrant insect counterpart to Will Rogers.

Archy’s original notes to Marquis originally appeared in The Sun Dialwithout illustration. It wasn’t until 1928, when a selection of Marquis’ columns were collected into book form as Archy and Mehitabel (in print since 1927) that someone thought to show the world what Archy looked like by illustration.

George Herriman was not the only artist, or even the first, to portray Archy, but his is the definitive rendering. To most fans, Herriman’s art is as much an inseparable part of Archy and Mehitabel as E. H. Shepherd is a part of Winnie the Pooh or John Tenniel is a part of Alice in Wonderland.

Herriman was an inspired choice for Archy and Mehitabel. Not only did he have years of experience drawing a small, free-spirited, black cats and their companions, in his stip Krazy Kat, but his whimsical sense of the fantastic perfectly matched the tone and color of Archy’s correspondence. Any number of Archy’s companions, like Warty Bliggins or Clarence the Ghost, would have been right at home with Krazy and Ignatz in Coconino County. And, of course, many critics have pointed out the suspicious resemblance between Krazy and Mehitabel.

Archy and Mehitabel

Krazy and Ignatz

Archy, as drawn by George Herriman, would have been a familiar figure to readers in the thirties. With his battered derby and shapeless body, he was essentially Charlie Chaplin, an unobtrusive everyman, who has been around, seen a lot, and is able to speak for us all.

That’s why I claim Archy as my patron saint. Whether he is Will Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Don Marquis, or just a poetic bug who has been around the wheel of life more times than he cares to count, Archy is a model worth emulating, the littlest of the little guys whose opinion still matters.

For more on Archy and a sample of his prose and poetry, check out John Batteinger’s Don Marquis page.

For more on the fantastic art of George Herriman, start with Peter Campbell’s Coconino County Home Page.

After that, rush out in buying frenzy and pick up anything you can find with either Don Marquis or George Herriman on the cover.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Potty humor
Paleontologists have unearthed a 400 million year-old fossil penis in Scotland. It’s a serious find of legitimate scientific value, but I’m snickering anyway. This record will be a source of pride to my Scottish kin. I think we need to give it an affectionate nickname, “hae ye bin to the museum to see the wee auld willie?” This is much cooler than that giant rat. The previous oldest penis, a mere 100 million years old, was found in Brazil.

Update # 1 I wonder what kind of serch engine hits I'll get by having the words "giant", "penis", and "Tom DeLay" on the same page. It's a good thing I didn't say Britney.

Update # 2 BBC has a story up on "Reagan's 'Evil Sex' Angst." Maybe today is just that sort of day.
Quotable quote
Stolen from Blah3.
To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected—that is no criticism of the military. That is a criticism of a president and a vice president and the record they have built together.

Dick Cheney, August 30, 2000

Generally speaking, throwing someone’s words back in their face is a cheap shot, but a well done cheap shot is a joy to behold.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

They make us so proud
Monday’s Independent has this story on how the Bush administration is making the world a better place for us all. Unfortunately there isn’t very much backstory to it, so I can’t really comment except to groan and wonder which friend of Cheney’s is set to lose a bundle if the testing continues.
President George Bush is mounting an intensive campaign to force European countries to drop safety tests expected to save thousands of lives each year, internal US government documents seen by The Independent on Sunday reveal. Britain, which has been generally supportive, last week denounced the measures as "disastrously wrong".

The documents - which include diplomatic cables signed by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell - show that the Bush administration has threatened Europe with trade sanctions if it goes ahead with the tests, which are designed to protect workers and the public from highly toxic chemicals.
A moment of silence
The Galileo mission ended when the spacecraft impacted Jupiter on September 21, 2003 at 18:57 UTC. Galileo's last signal arrived at Earth at 19:43 UTC.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Commie alert
MoveOn is a front organization for the Communist Party USA!! Or so says an e-mail warning from the goofy Texas Citizen Action Network. As proof they point out that both groups want to defeat Bush in 2004 and that the CPUSA website has a link to MoveOn. As proofs go, that’s about as watertight as it gets.

Actually, I was kind of surprised to find out the CPUSA was still in business. I hadn’t heard from them since Gus Hall died and imagined that they had just faded away. Silly me, radical groups never fade away, they just shrink, splinter, sometimes change their name, and continue. I’m sure they’re pleased to find out that someone is still afraid of them.

Monday, September 15, 2003

California recall delayed
A judge has sided with the ACLU and postponed the California recall till the state completes its replacement of punchcard polling machines. There are no details on when it will be rescheduled, though the already scheduled March primary is a good bet.

As to the recall itself, this is probably good news for Davis and bad news for Arnold. I'm curious as to whether this delay will have any broader side effects. Will continuing this farce into the real election cycle hurt fundraising? If so, who is likely to be hurt the most? By dragging this into a few more news cycles, will other stories be pushed off the front page? Again, who hurts and who benefits? Much as i like seeing this stupid recall slapped down, I hate seeing anything give Bush some breathing space.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Reptilian kitten-eaters
I’m sure it will come as a surprise to some that Canada has elections. What with their universal health care, gun laws, and lack of support for our President’s war on Iraqi terrorists, it would seem obvious that Canada is a communist dictatorship of the worst kind. Amazingly, that’s not true. They have meaningful elections and what’s more, their elections are more fun than ours.

As proof of that last point I offer the press release that Ontario Tory’s sent out Friday accusing the Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty, of being “an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet." (This is, I guess, as opposed to being a good reptilian kitten-eater from another planet.) The Conservative Leader, Ernie Eves, refused to apologize, but promised to limit the amount of caffeine that the staff would be allowed in the future.

This is the first I have heard about evil reptilian aliens being active in Ontario politics, but not the first mention I have seen of evil reptilian aliens in positions of power. David Icke, who was briefly a BBC sportscaster and the British Green Party's spokesman, before discovering he is the messiah and the world is ruled by seven-foot tall, shape-changing, blood-sucking, Masonic reptiles.

Most of Icke’s version of The Conspiracy (as documented in a series of self published books) is fairly unoriginal, much of it right out of Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In a 1995 book he claimed:
I strongly believe that a small Jewish clique which has contempt for the mass of Jewish people worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War....They then dominated the Versailles Peace Conference and created the circumstances which made the Second World War inevitable. They financed Hitler to power in 1933 and made the funds available for his rearmament.

He rants at the usual suspects: the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, gun control, and microchip implants. But in the late nineties he took a step further into the twilight zone and brought out the extraterrestrial angle. Most of the real rulers of the world are part of this hidden race. He specifically names the entire Bush family, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, the Bilderberger group, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie.

To be fair, Icke is probably mentally ill. His story of how he found the truth is filled with references to becoming aware of other intelligences around him, voices revealing secrets, and energies taking control of his body.

Mad or not, he has made quite an industry out his belief. He sells books and tapes through his numerous websites. He travels and lectures widely in the English-speaking world. His followers are well organized and have made alliances with other outsider groups. Will Offley of Public Eye has documented how Icke’s leading Canadian supporters overlap with some of the most extreme militia and holocaust denier crowds in that country.

It's possible that the "kitten-eating" accusation is not just election fun and games. It may be that the Ontarrio Torys have an Icke follower in their ranks. If this is the source of the Tory press release, then the Ontario Conservative Party has a far more serious problem than excessive caffeine consumption in their ranks.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Lost opportunities
Morat over at Skeptical Notion has given excellent voice to my feelings about 9/11.
Despite the claims that "the world changed on 9/11" the sad, but undeniable, truth is that nothing really changed at all.

And not for lack of opportunity. The entire world was behind us, after 9/11. We had a chance, a single moment, where we could have made a difference. We could have risen up, proposed bold new ideas on dealing with international terrorism. We could have taken this goodwill, this worldwide focus, and used it to forge better alliances and pool world resources to deal with rogue nations and well-armed terrorist groups. We could have done something.

But we squandered that opportunity. Instead of leading the world in a fight against terrorism, we find ourselves virtually alone, ostracized from our allies, and fighting a useless guerilla war in Iraq. Instead of defeating terrorists, we empowered them. Instead of bringing the world closer, we drove rifts between old allies.

At the time, I tried to give Bush the benefit of the doubt. A young Republican co-worker sobbed out her extreme gratitude that Gore wasn't president, that Bush was the only one who could save us in this moment of crisis. I thought (but didn't say) that was a pretty silly sentiment. What did she expect Gore to do--surrender to the unknown attackers? My feeling was that it would be hard to screw up such a moment. Most presidents or presidential candidates would have risen to the occasion. All he had to do was address the nation, assure us that we would not be cowed, that we would promise swift aid to the afflicted and swift vengeance on the assailants, then get out of the way and let the professionals take over. I had a few quibbles over his exact execution of the script--he was incommunicado too long, his cowboy talk grated, and his insistence that this was a military problem and not a law enforcement problem seemed unfounded--but I tried to give him some credit and shelve my partisan instincts.

Now I know how someone could blow such a moment of unity. What should have been an opportunity for statesmanship and breaking out of the old patterns was, for them, just another partisan advantage to be exploited.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ends of eras
Edward Teller and Leni Riefenstahl both died yesterday. When I mentioned this to my boss this morning she asked, “Is this symbolic of the end of the Atomic Age or the passing of the Era of Fascism or something?” She answered her own question before I could swallow my coffee, “nah, probably not.” I was about to make the same cynical comment.

However, despite the fact that their leaving changes nothing about the way the rest of us will live our lives, this moment is symbolic of the passing of something.

After success both as a dancer and an actress, Leni Riefenstahl turned to directing at the same moment Hitler was negotiating his rise to power. Soon after he became Chancellor, she requested a meeting with him. As a result she became the official chronicler of the Nazi party’s annual Nuremberg rally. "Triumph of the Will" is almost universally recognized as the greatest propaganda film ever made. Seventy years later it is still breathtaking to watch. In one film, Riefenstahl revolutionized cinematography and sound editing. Her importance to filmmaking places her in a category inhabited by Sergei Eisenstein and few others. However she was a completely amoral artist, indifferent to the purposes for which her product was used.

Edward Teller was the rare physicist whose theoretical brilliance was matched by a practical mechanical brilliance. He was one of the three scientists who wrote the famous letter to Roosevelt that led to the American crash program to develop an atomic bomb before the Nazis. At the Manhattan Project, he conceived of an even more powerful method of freeing atomic energy. He is thus simultaneously godfather to the atomic bomb and father to the hydrogen bomb. It was an argument over the latter weapon that led him to denounce Robert Oppenheimer before a security committee. This act, along with his naked enthusiasm for always-bigger weapon systems, caused him to be ostracized by many of his fellow scientists.

While Riefenstahl went into seclusion for a quarter century before reinventing herself as a still photographer in the seventies, Teller stayed in the spotlight. Widely regarded as the model for Dr. Strangelove, Teller continued to shape weapons and energy policy in the U.S. He pushed civilian atomic energy. He wanted to use his hydrogen bombs to build ports, widen the Panama Canal, and drill for oil. He added the neutron bomb and Strategic Defense Initiative to his dubious offspring.

German obituaries today, struggling to come to terms with the death of Riefenstahl, highlighted her twin legacies: enabler of the Reich and one of the seminal film geniuses of the century. Her influence could clearly be seen in “Star Wars.” Teller tried to build a real Star wars weapon. Beyond the semantic coincidence they had a strange ties with each other. Though profoundly controversial, each had a genius that even their most passionate detractors could not deny. Each was a major participant in the birth of two of the horrors that help define the twentieth century. Each remained unbowed by criticism. Each continued to exert a powerful fascination across the political spectrum. Each eventually lived to become icons for their respective horrors.

Riefenstahl and Teller long ago reached the point where their main activities in life were tending to and jealously defending their own legends. Late in their long lives (Riefenstahl was 101 and Teller 95) each produced fascinating yet self-serving autobiographies. They outlived most of the critics and supporters who had any personal knowledge their crimes or virtues.

In some way, with them, the last of their generations are gone, and the twentieth century is finally over.
According to Courtland Milloy in Monday's Washington Post:
In the District, President Bush serves as commander in chief of the D.C. National Guard, the way governors do in their states. So you might have expected him to show up yesterday at the funeral for Spec. Darryl T. Dent, 21, the D.C. guardsman who was killed recently in Iraq.

Canaan Baptist Church, where Dent's funeral was held, is at 16th and Newton streets NW, not five miles from the White House. Bush could have jogged to the wake, had a courier drop off flowers and a card or, at the very least, telephoned the slain soldier's family.

Call Bush AWOL, missing in action -- or just too busy fundraising. But he blew it.

"We haven't heard from him or the White House, not a word," said Marion Bruce, Dent's aunt and family spokeswoman. "I don't want to speak for the whole family, but I am not pleased."

But is she surprised?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

What price
All day I’ve been vaguely pondering our leader’s latest request for funds. He’ll probably get his $87B, and I suppose he should. I’ve always been of the camp that once he gets us into these tarbaby situations like Iraq, we’re can’t just cut and run. At this point, there’s a lot more at stake than honor or responsibility. If we leave now, we leave a vacuum that will fill with civil war and all sorts of geopolitical adventurers. It will become a destabilizing factor in the neighborhood that contains the world’s largest reserve of oil. The real question isn’t whether the US should spend the money, it is as RonK at Daily Kos put it “What pound of shame-faced POTUS flesh should Congress, Kofi Annan, the Axis of Chocolate, the CIA or the 4th ID non-com's demand in return for their sign-off on Plan Iraq, Version 2.0?”

The feel-good solution is someone’s head on a stick (I’m leaning toward Rumsfeld today, for his latest “dissent equals treason” crack). But that’s immature. We can’t afford to waste this opportunity on mere revenge. I think what would inflict the most humiliation on the administration and have the greatest utility for us would be a demand for information. Not just answers to a few questions but unfettered, under-oath access to administration members for a whole shopping list of committees, starting with 9/11, working through energy policy, WMD lies, and finishing with who exposed Valerie Plame. Information from the most secretive of administrations. The gift that keeps on hurting.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Toynbee tiles
This is a new one for me.
The Sunday Kansas City Star has a nice long piece with lots of pictures by Doug Worgul on Toynbee tiles, mysterious plaques that have been appearing in pavements here and there for a decade and possibly longer. The plaques appear to be some kind of hard plastic with carved letters inlaid. Most are in New York, Baltimore, and Washington DC, though sittings have occurred as far away as South America. They all say essentially the same thing:

IN KubricK's `2001

Occasionally the plaques are accompanied by other messages, blaming all the writer’s problems on journalists and "hellion Jews" (whatever those are).

Worgul gives some great background on Arnold Toynbee and Stanley Kubrick and points out that they have no known connections and neither one ever mentioned the possibility of resurrecting the dead on Jupiter.

In his research, Worgul located a 1983 Philadelphia Inquirer article about a social worker named James Morasco. Morasco was trying to get local newspapers to publish his theories about colonizing Jupiter with dead people from Earth, a theory that he explicitly credited to Toynbee and Kubrick. Morasco claimed to have founded an advocacy organization called the Minority Association, consisting of himself and a few of his friends. Morasco died earlier this year at the age of 88. His widow denies that he had anything to do with the tiles.

We have a couple of obvious possibilities here. First, is that Morasco was the tiler and poor Mrs. Morasco is just covering up for what must have been an embarrassing (to her) obsession of her husband’s. It’s not uncommon for people with unconventional beliefs to declare themselves to be the leader of a group. Some are alone in their societies; some pick up a follower or two who don’t stick around for long. It’s possible that Morasco was not the tiler, but that he inspired the tiler. It’s possible that he was the original tiler and that someone else took over his task. Of course, it’s also possible that he had nothing to do with the tiles.

Whether or not Morasco had anything to do with the tiles, it is likely that his death will not be the end of the tiles. This is just the sort of mysterious and whimsical thing—like crop circles or gnome liberation—that will inspire imitators. It’s whimsical, at least, if you ignore the creepy "hellion Jews" part. And as far as attracting imitators goes, a hint of anti-Semitism is not necessarily a disadvantage. If they stick to the core tile message, they can establish plausible deniability on that count. The only thing missing is a Masonic angle—that is, unless you take into account the fact that one of the officers of a Masonic lodge is called the Tiler. Hmmm.
God hates Fred
Rev. Fred Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, showed up with his little traveling protest show for the opening of Harvey Milk High in New York. Phelps, if you are luck enough not to have heard of him, is famous for stunts such as picketing the funerals of people who have died of AIDS and the Matthew Shepard funeral. He has proudly adopted “God Hates Fags” as his personal slogan (i.e. it’s the URL of his church’s website) and never misses an opportunity to flaunt common decency and offend the helpless. Fortunately, as chronicled by Bloggy in words and pictures, the crowd that turned out to support the school and to counter Fred was much larger.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Below fifty

The polling numbers for the leader of the free world continue to decline. This is hardly news and I only bring it up because I enjoy watching him decline. Does this mean I’m one of those “Bush-haters” we’ve been hearing so much about lately? Yes. Yes it does. Although, I have to admit that I’m a bit baffled that they throw the phrase “Bush-hater” around as if it was a bad or unreasonable thing. From where I sit, it looks as if the whole administration has worked hard to earn our loathing. I also have to admit that I’m somewhat surprised at how well “tree-hugging” and “Bush-hating” go together. Go figure.

Back to the polling numbers. Now that he has fallen below fifty for the first time, we can expect Rove’s September surprise any day now. Oh look, our president is going to be addressing the nation tomorrow. You don’t think he’ll be warning us about vague unspecified threats and promising new great-sounding programs that will never quite materialize? Me too.

Monday, September 01, 2003

In the 2000 election cycle, Bush created a club of sorts for his best fund-raisers. Those who brought in $100,000 or more were called “Pioneers.” Am I the only one a little puzzled that Bush would appropriate the name of a Communist youth organization for his fan club? Whose idea was that anyway?

This year they revived the Pioneers with a tiered structure of Minor League Pioneers (under $100,000), Major League Pioneers (over $100,000), and Rangers (over $200, 000). If they find themselves needing a higher honorarium, may I suggest “Stakhanovite”? I’m sure if Bush and Rove don’t understand the reference, they can get the house historians, Rummy and Rice, to explain it.