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Saturday, November 16, 2002

I am sooooooooo getting Bob Woodward's new book, Bush at War. This
WaPo piece reaffirms my suspicions that Colin Powell is the only cabinet member with any sense. An excerpt:

[T]he book describes in detail the case Powell made -- reading from an outline on loose-leaf paper -- that the United States has to have international support against Iraq. "It's nice to say we can do it unilaterally," Powell told the president bluntly, "except you can't."

And more:

Bush decided to take his case against Hussein to the United Nations in response to Powell and over the initial opposition of Cheney, who is described as "beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam." Cheney continued to argue against new resolutions giving Iraq one last chance, but Bush yielded to Powell's case for such an offer.

It strikes me that Powell is the only voice of reason in this otherwise blood-thirsty administration. Coincidentally (or not), he is also the only one with extensive military experience. According to Woodward's book, Karl Rove said in regards to Powell that he "detected a subtle, subversive tendency, as if Powell were protecting his centrist credentials and his own political future at Bush's expense."

IMHO, anyone willing to stand up to the Rovemachine is ballsy. And I have a hunch that Powell is one of the few DC-dwellers who has the sack to speak his mind. Also, he's most likely the biggest expert around on military operations in Iraq. So why doesn't W listen to Powell's sensible cautions about invading Iraq? Dunno. But I find it hard to believe that Powell's motives are all about his own political future, or he wouldn't cross Karl Rove.

posted by Jimmy 6:54 PM

Buying loyalty from the Taliban:
$43 million

Buying loyalty form the latest Afghan warlords: $70 million

Funding future terrorists: Moronic.

posted by Jimmy 6:39 PM
Friday, November 15, 2002

In the interest of keeping to a DC-centric theme, I’ve revised my permalinks to feature only DC Metro Area bloggers. While there are many bloggers in DC, I’ve tried to limit the list to blogs that are about politics, rather than kitties and stuff. Since this list contains the sites I visit regularly, it also tends to include blogs that are about Free Minds and Free Markets (to plagiarize Reason).

In spirit of friendly blogtown camaraderie, I’ve assigned cute nicknames to each blogger. People whose names already end in a “y” or “ie” get off easy. It’s kind of like W’s system, but less clever.

So, with the DC litmus test in place, people like
Janey and Vokely get dropped. Standbys like Sully and Ginny don’t make the list. But who cares? Everyone reads them anyway.

So, if I’ve left anybody out, please let me know. If I’ve included anyone who doesn’t live in the DC metro area, let me know and I’ll throw the axe. Now on to my selections:


I must confess that The Agitator is a daily read. Extremely prolific, Radley makes the two-foot-per-day-club and is generally right on target. Advice to Agity – more politics, less sports. Especially less about Midwestern teams that I have never heard of. Through shameless self-promotion, he has managed to get his easily readable material on sites from FoxNews to knitting.com. Keep up the good work.


The Ben File. Not bad.


Author and all-around smart guy Brink Lindsey has masterful ideas on many topics. He also has ideas on war. I’ve heard he’s renaming his blog “Bombing for Dollars” to combine his love of preemptive action and capitalism.


Casey Lartigue: a delightful mix of both national and regional issueblogging. Expert on DC stuff and education. Insightful on race issues. Unlike many small government folks, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the righties. Another daily read. Plus, I’m on his list, which it nice.


Effin’ Eh’s Christie and Jamesie usually get things right. They are also in the two-foot-per-day-club, but it’s only because their column is less than an inch wide.


I was delighted to find out that Ms. Tushnet is located in DC. She and Jimmy share the dubious distinction of being on both my pre- and post-organized permalinks. Rapid-fire insights from DCs most famous god-girl politicoblogger.


Unqualified Offerings provided more speculation on snipers than a wired Oliver Stone in an echo chamber. Jim Henley followed the case closer than Chief Ramsey. I’m surprised he wasn’t consulted by the task force, the stuff was so good.

In addition to the DCblogging, he’s a big hammer when it comes to the anti-war stuff and is a contributor to StandDown. Another very-principled and insightful daily read. Advice to Jim – don’t forget about the fishing stuff.


Notes from the Lounge is a bit of a misnomer, as (much like the Vodkapooper) it sounds like it’s all about lazy, sloshy good times. It’s actually about deeper issues and can only be read by people with PhDs and those who are baked out of their gourds. Ever watched the movie Waking Life? It’s kind of like that, but more animated and harder to follow.


Taking the Gloves Off: another guy way smarter than I am. High-quality material on liberty, race, privacy, Iraq, you name it.


Eric McErlain’s Off-Wing Opinion is 99% shrewd observations about sports and 1% shrewd observations about the free-market. I wish he would pick one day out of the week to post about something other than the latest JV Jamaica U. Cricket Over/Unders, so that I would know when to tune in and get the good stuff instead of the sports.


Curmudgeonly and Skeptical from Roger Schultz is fun, funny and full of photos. A daily read.


The posts at the Intellectual Passivist are usually things that I had wanted to write about. Unfortunately, Skip writes so adeptly and clearly that I generally give up on trying to come up with something of my own, log out, and retire to the bedroom for a nap.


Tiffany’s “The Ankle Biter.” Why not.


While I typically read blogs that address current events, I cannot resist “Because I Can’t Sleep,” from a 22 year old local girl who is BDSM-curious. Its virtually unreadable format adds to the intrigue.


Named the site “Fly Bottle” after an obscure Wittgenstein reference that he doesn’t agree with. How can you beat that?

posted by Jimmy 12:44 PM

Big Labor's attempts to quash any efforts at meritocracy in the homeland security bill tickles an interesting question out of Howard Kurtz in
his WaPo article today:

"If federal personnel rules are so restrictive that Bush demanded they be waived for his new agency, why are they okay for the rest of the government?"

My take on the whole thing: there is no such thing as a party of small government anymore. Rs want to add federal tough guys. Ds want to add federal softies. But no one has actually fought for a reduction in the size of government since 1994. And that time, it didn't work anyway. People are irritated by the fact that government employees have a sort of uber-tenure job for life, but they have accepted it. And we understand that (due to the magic of addition), you can't keep adding legions of unfireable people without the inevitable result of a larger, less-efficient government.

Federal bureaucractic largess has become the norm. A particularly telling hat trick of passages from the Kurtz piece:

A 1995 survey of 5,700 government bosses by the Merit Systems Protection Board says that "very few federal managers bother" trying to get rid of incompetent staffers because they believe the process is "too complicated, time consuming or onerous." They also believe that upper management will not support them, their decisions will be reversed on appeal or they will be falsely accused of discrimination.

The result: "Many supervisors believe it is simply not worth the effort to attempt to remove federal employees who cannot or will not perform adequately."

As one State Department staffer recently wrote The Washington Post's Federal Diary, "by far the most frustrating aspect of my work is putting up with the gross incompetence and downright laziness of some federal employees" who "know they cannot be fired."

So why doesn't anyone in the media make a stink about this? Is it old news? Is it so accepted that it's not news at all? Is cutting government politically impossible? I don't know, but it's a real kick in the bits.

posted by Jimmy 12:30 PM
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Generally, I remind tourists of the DC Metro escalator etiquette with a swift elbow to the ribs while shouting "Walk LEFT Stand RIGHT!"

has created a t-shirt for riding the metro that conveys the message in a more subtle manner.

(Link via GeneHack)
posted by Jimmy 9:00 AM

cool is this map of DC Bloggers? The ingenuitive Reen of Reenhead and Don Bruns of RatBastard actually took the time to organize DC Bloggers by metrostop.

Good fun. I'm going to use it to change my permalinks one of these days. I'm going to only put DC area bloggers on it, for your DC-centric pleasure.
posted by Jimmy 7:07 AM
Monday, November 11, 2002

In this
WaPo article on loose nuclear material in Georgia (the loosely put-together republic, not the Hot-Lanta state), it's reported that there were somewhere between 100 and 1000 canisters of Cesium 137 running around the USSR. They were used in some creepy Soviet test. Nine have been recovered.

The most frightening part of the article is that a group of local businessmen were perhaps looking at selling one on the black market. It makes you wonder which is better - nuclear material held by a government that hates us, or loose nuclear material that can be sold to terrorists that hate us.

The two are not mutually exclusive, mind you. A government that hates us could also sell fissile material to rogue terrorist groups.

But it does seem to be another reason against bombing Iraq. Saddam is, for the moment, in charge of his WMD if he truly has them. Even when we invaded Iraq in 1991, he didn't use them.

If Iraq is destabilized and no one leader controls the country, can we be certain that WMD are less likely to get in the hands of terrorists? I'm not so sure.
posted by Jimmy 6:29 AM