Thursday, July 17, 2003

Barry White remembered. Again 

I've posted a bootleg by the talented Go Home Productions in "Bootleg of the Week" in the left margin. It's called 'WOULDN'T IT BE NICE TO BE YOUR FIRST' it mixes Barry White's 'You're the first, the last, my everything' with the The Beach Boys 'Wouldn't it be nice'. He didn't have it available two weeks ago so I emailed him and asked him if he would repost it. He just put a bunch of songs back online.

  • Barry White Vs. The Beach Boys

  • Visit him here:
  • Go Home Productions

  • He's my favorite bootlegger.

  • My tribute to Barry White

  • Stealing recorded music is something that we have to stop. It's taking money out of my kid's mouth - Art Alexakis 

    I don't know why Everclear front man Art Alexakis is feeding his kid money, but that's neither here nor there. As a listener of his radio show here in Portland I've always been a little surprised that he is such a P2P hardliner. Considering his musical tastes I thought I'd take a look at what some of his heroes had to say on the matter.

    Jello Biafra (owner of Alternative Tentacles Records and former
    lead singer of the Dead Kennedys)at last years PlugIn music
    conference told the crowd that sharing and streaming music on
    the Web is a positive development that will lead to more artistic

    Or Henry Rollins: Oh, I think there's always been agencies
    to screw musicians. Record companies, you know, they excel at it.
    And I always thought Napster was just another way for the artist
    not to get paid. And I said, oh yeah, here's the new boss, same
    as the old boss. To me, I'm just the guy out in the fields and
    there's a new guy caning me. It is what it is. It is thievery.
    Me? I don't give a fuck. It's the only way sometimes people check
    out what I do at all. So I don't mind. But let's not call it
    something other than what it is. You're getting copyrighted
    music for free.... I don't think it's all that cool. Am I going
    to try and stop you? Hell no. Do I get mad over it? Absolutely not.

    Or Chuck D: I'm pro-file-sharing...And I think this is progressive
    for the art because the industry and corporations have dominated
    and monopolized the outlets for the art whether it be radio,
    television or even the skewing of the price factor. Dominance
    of record companies dominating over retail and other outlets.
    Why should I care about that? ...We should think of file-sharing
    as a new kind of radio. We should think of the Internet as a
    parallel industry to the traditional one that is run by lawyers
    and accountants.

    I think a position can be staked out that embraces file sharing and has the best interests of artists at heart. I believe the RIAA and the major labels have been wasting time and money trying to end or control file sharing, instead of mastering the new technologies and revamping their business model to thrive in the digital age.

    Let's start with the RIAA's position


    From last week's Portland Mercury:

    ' Hello, There is a Recession

    According to the RIAA, worldwide music sales have fallen $14 billion
    dollars in the past two years, from $40 billion in 2000 to $26 billion
    in 2002. The RIAA attributes this largely to the increasing number
    of internet users who illegally download music.

    On the other hand, according to a report by James K. Willcox in Sound
    and Vision, the recession in 1991 (before filesharing existed) facilitated
    an even larger drop-off in CD sales growth--from 15 to four percent. "When
    you consider that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) declined 36
    percent in 2002... the recent nine percent decline in sales doesn't seem
    so dramatic," observes Willcox. Similarly, he goes on to say that the cost
    of CDs has steadily risen despite the decreased GDP, from an average of
    $14.31 in 1998 to $17.09 in 2002. '

    At $17.09 the thin material the major labels are putting out doesn't help matters.

    So many of the CD's by "Today's Top Acts" only have one or two good songs on them which means the consumer paying on average $17.09 or $8.55 per track. For me this would have been the case with Ludacris' "Word of Mouf" and Mary J Blige's "No More Drama" if I didn't get them from Multnomah Public Library, I would have been set back $35 for "Roll Out" and "Family Affair". Good songs, but not 35 dollars good. (OK "Area Codes" is pretty good too) With the major labels producing many good singles and so many more crappy albums downloading is really the only form of distribution that makes any sense.

    One of the problems with current pop music is that the instrumental tracks are so weak. This became painfully clear to me when I started listening to "Bootlegs" or "Mash Ups". Amateur DJ's in the UK (and everywhere) have been taking the instrumentals from one song and the acapella of another and mashing them together to make a new song. When I first found Get Your Bootleg On a chat where DJ's post their latest efforts, they were doing a "Challenge". That week's was SKA Challenge. I really love ska so I was immediately hooked. Someone layed Destiny's Child over the old Specials song "Ghost Town", someone else mixed Britney Spears with an old Skatalites cover of the James Bond Theme, another featured Avril Lavigne with an old ska intrumental. They all reminded me of the old rocksteady songs from when Jamaicans were hearing New Orleans R&B on am radio on clear nights. A pop song is a pop song and our current pop singers are as good as pop singers from other eras. But the music just doesn't always stack up.

    Here are some examples:

    By Go Home Productions
    Beyonce V Jimi Hendrix - Work It Out With a Foxy Lady

    By Chocolate Boy
    Britney Spears V Skatalites

    By Sleazy Boy
    Mousse T V Nirvana

    I think the big labels should look back at the golden age of R&B and take a lesson from Motown and STAX. Each label had a staggeringly awesome house band. In the case of Motown it was the Funk Brothers and in the case of STAX it was Booker T and the MG's. The big labels should put together house bands and stables of house DJ's. In the case of DJ's the record companies really shot themselves in the foot out of greed. In the early nineties the companies figured out that it was rappers and not the rapper/dj combo that drew fans to buy albums. DJ's were less recognized. And became less valued and the labels stopped paying for DJ's. The result was that hip hop DJing became a cult niche with some of the best DJ's in the world living with their moms in the Bronx and Daly City. Why Sony doesn't have Qbert and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz on retainer is beyond me.

    I would also suggest to the majors that they put out revue albums. This solves the one hit wonder problem and would build brand identity. It would also serve as an organizing focal point for touring. They should also take a look at the management style of Billy Beane the General Manger of the Oakland A's who as put together a winning team on a tiny budget without stars by being smart about price perfomance. A label that can put together a stable of bands that can record albums on reasonable budgets, tour successfully on stage presence and not expensive stage shows and put out clever low budget videos is going to turn a profit on most of their bands. I think the loss leader model is becoming untenable in the digital age.


    Legislation to make illegal file swapping a felony was introduced
    in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday by John Conyers (D.-Mich.)
    and Howard Berman (D.-Calif.).

    The bill carries penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000
    fine for uploading a copyrighted file to a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

    The bill assumes each copyrighted work put on a P2P network was copied at
    least 10 times for a retail value of $2,500. The total retail value would
    make swapping a single file a felony.

    The RIAA really needs to put away their light sabres. I think that they are on firm legal footing with the lawsuits but they are just alienating their customers. Nobody wants to buy CD's from Darth Vader (well, maybe people who love Kevin Smith movies do).


    Compare the RIAA's relationship with their listeners to the Grateful Dead. The Dead as everyone knows allowed taping at their shows and eventually accomodated it, setting up a space for tapers at every show. They became the most successful touring band of all time. Here's Dennis McNally former publicist for the band and author of "A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead," in an interview from Salon:

    They permitted taping for no other reason than that they didn't
    want to be cops. They were lousy cops, they were antiauthoritarian
    to the core, and it was too much work, too much bad vibes,
    too much everything. And, frankly, they were realistic and said,
    It's impossible to stop taping unless you strip-search every member
    of the audience, which ruins the atmosphere, of course.

    But the serendipitous result was that they doubled their audience --
    from the early '80s when they started to allow taping to until just
    before, say, "Touch of Grey," the audience increased tremendously.
    Why? Well, one of the reasons was they allowed taping, the audience
    responded to that by being ever more tightly bound to them because
    they were trusted. The teeniest percentage violated that trust --
    the band's only request was that you don't charge money for these things.
    And almost no one did. And the end result was a greater intimacy, a
    greater trust.

    The Grateful Dead were highlighted in the book 'Radical Marketing - From Harvard to Harley, Lessons from Ten that Broke the Rules and Made it Big'

    The book looks at the following organizations:
    1. Grateful Dead
    2. Providian Financial
    3. Harley-Davidson
    4. The Iams Company
    5. The National Basketball Association
    6. Snap-On Tools
    7. Virgin Atlantic Airways
    8. EMC Corporation
    9. Harvard Business School
    10. Boston Beer Company
    with respect to successful, unconventional marketing strategies. They then isolated ten principle for "radical marketing". The principles that the Dead exemplified were:
    A) Small marketing dept. B)Face-to-face with customers C) Love/Respect Customers D)Create customer community E)Celebrate uncommon sense F)Be true to the brand

    My point is simply that if the labels and bands are smart and innovative about the new technologies and their business in general they will suceed without getting worked into a lather about P2P and attacking their customer base. (It should be noted that the Grateful Dead aggressively defended their trademark and copyrighted logos amongst the vendors in the parking lots at shows.)


    Here is another hunk of the excellent article from last week's Portland Mercury:

    If they're so concerned with "stealing from the artist," why hasn't
    the RIAA explored more ways to distribute releases online by eliminating
    the middleman and pumping cash directly to the artist?

    Because they ARE the middleman. Doing so would all but eliminate the need
    for a record label. And, since the RIAA is comprised of major record labels--
    aka the music industry, aka people who make money off a musician's product--
    this product would potentially put them out of business.

    Says Spellman, "The entire fabric of the recording industry is undergoing
    a transformation right now. The thing that differentiated the industry from
    artists in the past was that the industry controlled the distribution channel;
    it knew how to get music to people's ears and it owned the means to do it. Now,
    with digital tools from desktop recorders to the World Wide Web, artists have
    the distribution power in their own corner. They are now able to galvanize a
    global audience over time and create successful support networks for their
    own music careers.

    "I believe we are witnessing the decline of the 'music business' and the rise
    of the 'musician business' (to borrow a phrase from John Perry Barlow). We
    may not see a lot of millionaire artists in this new picture, but we'll be
    seeing more and more 'middle class' musicians making a sufficient living,
    while still having full ownership rights to their creations. Today's musicians
    need to think outside the box of the traditional approaches and creatively
    engage with the new possibilities. The power belongs to you, and it's an
    awesome responsibility."

    This was apparent to me at the outset of Napster. I think it will be more difficult for record labels to make megabucks from ultrastars, but it will be easier for all the ultratalented musicians who don't appeal to mass audiences to make comfortable livings. I'm biased towards thinking that this is a good thing, because that's who I like. More and more artists who make their living touring regionally and nationally playing to 300 to 500 dedicated souls a night will be able pay their bills and find themselves buying homes in their early thirties.

    From CBS News Feb. 23, 2003:

    " The band Big Head Todd and the Monsters says file swapping hasn't
    hurt them. It may have even helped. The Colorado band, which survives
    on ticket and T-shirt sales, had a million-selling album in the early
    '90s. But Big Head Todd later split with its record company and
    released the new album "Riviera" on its own label.

    Theoretically, they're losing CD sales.

    But the band says that they never saw the profit from their sales
    when they were with a major record label. Now, because they are
    promoting themselves, they are getting more per-unit earnings.

    The band members admit the big record label helped get them national
    exposure. Now, labels might not give newer bands that chance.

    "Because they're losing revenue, there's less money to build a younger
    band," says Brian of Big Head Todd. "So the label started to tighten
    up and wanting more commercial hits. And that's where it came to be a
    pinch a little bit with us. They want the sure thing. They want you
    to go in with a co-writer and make a song that they know they can put
    on pop radio and sell, you know, a million records."

    Given the economics of an indie bands it's not surprising that Big Head Todd views file sharing as a new form of broadcast like radio rather than a form of theft. When you get greater per unit earnings going it alone P2P becomes your ally.

    What's really at issue in the file sharing debate is not P2P but the MP3. P2P is simply a natural outcome of the MP3, like ripping and burning. The question for artists and labels is whether they make the MP3 technology work for them.

    For small labels and artists not getting national airplay or MTV exposure, posting MP3's on their websites is great advantage in giving fans a way of evaluting whether or not to purchase a CD and then being able to purchase right off the website as a download or as a CD that the label ships without a middleman distributor. In the case of websites for individual bands distribution is handled through a distributor site like Label websites with MP3 and video downloads are going to more thoroughly browsed and will build the brand as fans of one band are able to discover the other bands on the label.

    Fat Possum and Hightone Records are two labels that do this well. Fat Possum does garage band blues like no one else and that really comes across browsing the downloads, you end up wanting every album the label puts out (I'm getting there). Websites allow the artists and labels to build powerful emailing lists. This is a huge tool for bands with small but loyal followings. They can email their fans in a given city to let them know they are coming and turn out an impressive crowd with minimal local print advertising. This represents a huge cost savings over old snail mail for these bands.

    UPDATE: Fat Possum Records has inexplicably removed their MP3 page. Too bad, because it motivated me to the get half their catalogue and I'm working on the other half.

    UPDATE 24 September, 2003 the Christian Science Monitor ran an article last April on how indie labels have been thriving in spite of falling overall record sales. Thanks to Ken Layne for the link.

    The future also belongs to bands that use websites like, and Chuck D's IUMA hosts unsigned bands and allows you search by genre and locale. They do an excellent job of giving each band it's due.

    ABC News July 2000:

    Q: How can artists actually profit from things like Gnutella and Napster?

    Chuck D: Artists can profit more from the Internet, but at the same time
    they shouldn't have delusions of grandeur of creating their art for the
    standard industry price. Artists usually make their art because the
    industry dictates the standards for the amount they should make their art
    for. Therefore, a lot of the artists are in the position of trying to
    recoup what has already been spent on their behalf. And now as far as the
    Internet is concerned, it gives each artist the ability and the advantage
    to control every aspect of [their art].

    Q: So you see the Internet as a way for artists to get out from under
    the thumb of record companies?

    Chuck D: Of course. I think that's a big thumb, and what you see now is
    a third tier of music industry going to crop up, and a lot of people think
    it's a threat, but I think it's a service to the big tier. I think you
    have majors and independents. Now you have Internet, which I think is
    almost akin to high school sports to college and professional. So I think
    there'll be a great big talent pool, but you'll have a lot smarter musicians
    who have a better understanding of their terrain rather than being locked
    outside the musical game.

    Q: So this third tier you refer to is a more open tier?

    Chuck D: A more open tier that doesn't exclude artists from getting to the
    top tier. It just gives the artists a better vision of what they're dealing
    with instead of being the gullible artist that doesn't know [expletive]
    and relies on the major industry to let them know about [expletive].
    So now you have the artist situation who are putting together their own
    teams, who are down with whatever the Internet has to offer. They know how
    to navigate through some of the areas that might be problematic for the major
    situations who think everything is problematic except for the process they
    invented or the process that they've dominated over.
    The bottom line is that the major industries can't host a million artists
    and a million labels. There's not enough room for them. It's not feasible.
    With the Internet it's possible. Digital distribution is now looking at being
    a parallel-sized industry to the offline industry, and the offline industry
    which is run by lawyers and accountants, of course they're going to view it
    as being a parasitic industry. In a way it is. But then so did the train industry
    when they looked at airplanes coming out; they tried to fight tooth and nail to
    keep them out.

    Q: How has file-sharing helped with your own music?

    Chuck D: It's a form to be a new radio. Definitely exposure. People will go up
    and look at Public Enemy and see a lot of songs and by them taking a lot of
    songs then they'll go to the store and being exposed to a lot of different
    things. Might have seen an album but not heard it. It's just led them into
    saying I didn't know this [expletive] was on the album. I kind of dig it. And
    they would go get the hard copy anyway. So for me, it's new radio. Make your
    own radio station.

    Q: Does at any point that sharing ever cross the line of copyright infringement?

    Chuck D: I think the copyright laws that were created in the last century, they're
    definitely going to have to go through a revision period. And what applied last
    century doesn't apply in this century. No. But I think copyright will be reformed
    to mean a whole other thing. I think the Internet might be more like a situation
    where BMI or ASCAP increases the performance situation and almost ignores the

    Q: So does that mean live performance will become a larger revenue stream for
    the artists?

    Chuck D: I'm also talking about performance fee, whether it be a penny or whatever,
    through the process of file-sharing. That might come into the equation, where,
    for example, when you sing with BMI, your record gets played on the radio, you
    have a performance royalty coming your way, as little as it might be, but it's
    something. The areas of exposure for music right now in the traditional realm
    are either financially controlled by corporations which keep the start-up
    entrepreneurs out and the new artists out. There's just no room. And so a new
    equation has to come out as with any technology. It comes in because there's a
    need for it. If there wasn't a need for it, we wouldn't be talking about it. If
    it didn't have the attitude and the excitement of the public, it would be a
    moot point.

    For major labels and artists, I think the future lies with DVD, much as it has for the movie industry. They are going to have to put out DVD's that play on CD players with a CD version of the album, video content, karoake content and a booklet of lyrics, photos and art (and in Britney Spears case:panties). One thing that was lost when we went from vinyl to CD's was engaging and copious album art. As kids, we would pour over this stuff for hours (Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy anyone?). If the industry wants to get kids back, this is one way to do it. In the movie industry DVD sales have far outstripped anything VHS ever did. DVD's really strike people as something worth owning and not just renting. The music industry needs to think long and hard about that.

    In terms of mastering the MP3 technology the future is now, if they would just get their shit together. Chuck D founded over three years ago. Apple just got iTunes up this year. If you've really been bleeding money like you say; why have you been spending money on costly lawsuits in a losing rearguard action that makes you look ridiculous to the very people you want to think that you're cool. And if you had the opportunity to get out the Fred Flintstone bullshit of making CD's and jewel cases, storing and shipping them, why wouldn't you? The monthly subscription at E-Music is what makes the most sense to me (and as soon as I get another nice big hard drive that's what I'll do). If think the iTunes model of paying by song will end up as the standard. I think a dollar a song is a little steep but not out of line. The eMusic and iTunes sites have real advantages over P2P in quality, convenience and organization. Using P2P you don't always have control over the level of compression, and being able to select from a 128 or a 196 version would be a plus. You often get incomplete tracks, mislabelled tracks (I mean does't everyone know who recorded "Brick House"? Apparently not.) Inconsistent labelling of tracks gets to be a huge headache for a compulsive downloader and a huge consumer of time to fix for an anal retentive one.

    The one thing that creases me about the iTunes set up is that indie labels wanted to sell their tracks for less than a dollar and that got vetoed to make it "fair" for everybody. This is just more bullshit from the majors trying to hog everything for themselves. For labels that can't or just don't get their artists living in the pages of US magazine and heavy rotation on MTV selling their tracks at 50 cents a track gives them a way to compete on the iTunes market. (Or if your a rapper and your name happens to be 50 Cent then you got yourself a helluva marketing gimmick.) If market forces prevail and allow some small labels to put out tracks for less than a dollar, it will bring in more traffic to the site and the majors will benefit if they would stop trying to control the technology and master it as well.

    As far as making money from P2P Grokster's Wayne Rosso has recommended a price model similar to that adopted by internet service providers when flat-rate net access became available. He proposed a form of licensing to the RIAA and was hit with a law suit which Grokster and other platforms won.

    Slyck Ciarán: A lot was made in the media about you speech at the
    Financial Times new media conference recently. You used the opportunity
    to attack the recoding industry for not licensing their music to P2P
    companies like yourself. Tell us more about why you think they should
    licence music to Grokster?

    Grokster: It's not so much that they should license to Grokster,
    it's more a call for blanket compulsory licensing of some kind. At
    the moment content licensing negotiations are a one-way street. And
    what has happened is that record companies have used their content
    to slow the growth of ecommerce and the Internet until they can figure
    out how to co-opt the technology. Simply put, they want to own or
    control the technology themselves.

    Again, the major labels need to stop trying to control the technology and master it.

    P2P is copyright infringement and it is the new radio and it isn't going away. It's just such an organic expression of our current technology. As a legal issue it is no different than home taping except in scale and convenience. When I was a kid we taped songs off the radio by holding our cruddy tape recorder next to the speaker of my dad's uncruddy hi fi and yet the record industry thrived. As soon as I had money I started spending it on records because they were better than the tapes I was making. Once the music industry gets a handle on that they will start making money again. They now have four years of lost revenue and legal expenses because they didn't embrace the technology, that was their mistake and it was a big one.

    I'll say it for the third time: the major labels need to stop trying to control the technology and master it because as Chuck D said, "The genie's out of the bottle and the bottle is crushed to a thousand pieces."

    I'll leave the last word the best american rock and roll band ever, bar none, no discussion:



    ive seen alot of people with plenty of guts
    they say make "my music new & loud & rough" give it a beat
    or give it a twang in a dark sweaty club its the same damn thing

    bang bang make the music go bang!
    brilliant shining & nasty
    bang bang make the music go bang!
    let me hear the guitar sound like a train
    bang bang let the music go bang!

    you can't drive around and hear your favorite song
    so you tape it live if you can get inside when it comes along
    i cant understand people who bitch & whine
    lets drink a beer from a paper bag while we got time

    bang bang let the music go bang!
    brilliant shining & nasty nasty
    bang make the music go bang!
    let me hear a guitar sound like a train
    bang bang make the music go bang!
    bang bang make the music go bang!

    PS Apologies to Art Alexakis who really is a good guy. I'm a fan of his radio show Blackjack Radio Sunday nights on 94.7 KNRK 6-8pm. Stop touring and do the damn show man. (what are the economics of that?)

    Wednesday, July 16, 2003

    Letter to Salaam Pax 

    Part of a letter posted on Salaam Pax's blog:

    Subject: A letter from Baghdad
    Sent: Monday, July 07, 2003 10:06 AM

    Dear friends,

    If you wonder why I haven't sent you anything lately; well, I started writing
    a long letter a week ago but while describing the extremely bad situation we
    were in last week (All Baghdad stayed without electricity for more than 3 days
    with very weak water or none in some places, plus a big fuel shortage for generators
    and cars), I was listening to the coalition broadcasting for the Iraqi people. They
    ware talking about all low priority stuff like printing "New passports" for Iraqis,
    Mr. Bremer attending a Symphony for the Iraqi Symphony group, and such stuff, without
    any mentioning of the fact that about 5 million people were living under a temperature
    of 47 degrees and without electricity and water for three days :-/
    You know, I reviewed my "dream list" back then; there was no "New passports" in it.
    It just contained three simple wishes: Electricity, Water, and Security. (This will
    make a nice motto instead of the old famous "Unity, Freedom, and Socialism", I might
    as well start a party of my own with this motto. It will sure make me very popular).
    Are such wishes to much to ask in the new millennium, and when you are under the
    occupation of the greatest power in the world? If you say be patient. Well, apart
    from the last 23 years, remember the ex-regime has fallen for about three months now.

    I know Paul Bremer has an extrordinarily difficult job and he's probably doing the best almost anybody could given the restraints but I can't help but think that the Bush Adminstration should have listened to me and appointed RUDY GUILIANI to the position.


    I have to give props to Teresa Nielson Hayden at Making Light for this post:

    Not a new story, but it's haunted me since it came out last year in Science Magazine online:

    In the Brevia section of the 9 August 2002 issue of Science, Weir et al. report a remarkable observation: The toolmaking behavior of New Caledonian crows. In the experiments, a captive female crow, confronted with a task that required a curved tool (retrieving a food-containing bucket from a vertical pipe), spontaneously bent a piece of straight wire into a hooked shape-and then repeated the behavior in nine out of ten subsequent trials. Though these crows are known to employ tools in the wild using natural materials, this bird had no prior training with the use of pliant materials such as wire-a fact that makes its apparently spontaneous, highly specific problem-solving all the more interesting, and raises intriguing questions about the evolutionary preconditions for complex cognition. The crow's behavior was captured on an unusual video clip. …

    The first time I saw the movie, it gave me goosebumps. The food's in a little metal bucket with a handle, down at the bottom of a glass tube. The crow has only the piece of wire to work with.

    ... So the movie's cool. But of all animals, why a New Caledonian crow? That thing has a brain the size of a fava bean.

    The post is here:
  • making light:tool making crows

  • and the movie is here:
  • VIDEO:The Crow IV:Mindbender

  • speaking of portland's high unemployment 


    PORTLAND, OR-Nicholas Higby, a graphic designer laid off in January, is on his way to mastering unemployment, the 34-year-old reported Monday.

    Higby warned strongly against going to bed too early. "It's depressing to be out at 9 a.m., because you see everyone else being productive," Higby said. "Besides that, morning TV sucks. The Rockford Files starts at noon, so I try to be up, showered, and out on the couch by at least 11:55."

    ... "Thursday is Sports Illustrated Day. Now, back when I had a job, I also used to read Sports Illustrated on Thursdays, but Thursday was never Sports Illustrated Day."

    ...Higby added that it is important to uphold the appearance of productivity. "When I'm out during the day, I carry around some notebooks and papers and take them out whenever possible," he said. "It's no good to be just sitting there on a park bench staring off into the distance. It creeps people out."

    We've had enough Big Government 

    Bring back the Democrats.

    Just when you thought infringing on civil liberties was the Bush Administration's achilles heel on Big Government charges the CATO Institute has published a report on how federal regulation has run amok under Bush.

    $$$ "In President Bush's second year in office, the Federal Register, a chronicle of all regulations proposed and enacted by federal agencies, held an extraordinary 75,606 pages of new rules. That's about 300 pages issued each business day during 2002. Not only is that a new record for the Bush administration, but it's an all-time record for any presidential administration, according to Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. of the Cato Institute.

    ...In 2001, President Bush's first year in office, the Federal Register contained 69,591 pages, 7 percent less than President Clinton's record-setting 2000 edition, which contained 74,528 pages. However, in its second year in Washington, the Bush administration topped Clinton's record by over 1,000 pages.

    ...Crews' findings this year also include:

    1) While Congress passed and the president signed 269 bills into law in 2002, regulatory agencies issued a whopping 4,167 final rules, evidence that unelected federal regulators do a considerable bulk of the lawmaking in the United States.
    2) As of October 2002, there were 4,187 regulations at various stages of implementation; of those, 135 were deemed economically significant, costing a total of at least $13.5 billion.
    3) Economists have shown that regulations cost consumers and businesses $860 billion in 2002. That's 8.2 percent of the U.S. GDP.
    4) Regulatory costs of $860 billion far exceed Canada's entire GDP, and exceed all corporate pretax profits.
    5) The five most active rule-producing agencies (the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency) account for 50 percent of all regulations under consideration.

  • cato caelin:big government republicans

  • This is something Democrats need to sieze on, especially at the State and Local level. Democrats should be championing small business and entrepreneurialism. Clinton and Gore were on the right track with the Reinventing Government initiative, though they accomplished little aside from getting government online. I remember living in Massachusetts when Dukakis revamped the way the DMV was structured, moving the offices into well organized spaces with clear signage. It halved the unpleasantness of renewing your license. Recent trips to DMV's in Oregon and Arizona contrast with Georgia. In Oregon and Arizona upon entering you are met by an expediter who asks you what you are there for, checks to see that you have the documentation and payment you need, hands you the forms you need and directs you to the line you need to be in. In Georgia you are greeted by a mass of people standing 30 deep to get to a series of unlabelled windows. You can stand in line for 45 minutes to ask which line you should be in and what documentation you need.

    In Portland a builder who buys a property and wants to divide it into two lots applies for a partition. This process takes a year. Building the house takes three months. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has added to their duties, which includes price setting for hard liquor, regulating what strippers can and can't do on stage. A pizza parlor owner who got hit with a now infamous $27,000 transportation fee when he moved across the street. When Adidas tried to move into a new headquarters they began renovating an old hospital. They were required to replace large trees with small ones and those they could get in town. City officials said tree codes are "so complex that staff cannot figure them out."

    Elected Democratic officials should be absolutely hawkish on byzantine regulation and piss poor bureaucrats. Especially in a city like Portland that has so much to offer and a stagnant economy and state unemployment at 8.5% the Mayor and city council members should fall on this stuff like a pack of wild dogs.

    Democrats should be able to offer this bargain: You can't pollute, you can't serve alcohol to children, you can't work your employees endless hours without paying overtime, you can't screw your workers out of their pensions. But you don't have to replace large trees with small trees from out of town, you don't have to wait a year to get approval to build within code on your own property, you don't have to wait in the wrong line for forty five minutes at the DMV and strippers can do what ever the hell they want on stage as long as you don't touch them.

    Because ultimately, it's that nonsensical $28,000 fee and the long line and the crazy tree laws that make people ready to accept drilling in the Arctic Reserve and limitations on overtime pay.

    edsall on fundraising 

    Check out this informative report from the A/V club at Washington Post High.

  • VIDEO:fundraising

  • tk throws down 

    Video of Ted Kennedy laying into Bush on the poor intelligence leading up to the invasion and the mishandling of the peace. He is especially eloquent on the need for a UN sanctioned, NATO organized force with copious representation from Muslim countries. I couldn't have said it better myself and since he's a powerful senator and I'm not it's just as well.

    the new yorker on liberia 

    ...By the time Bush demanded that Taylor step aside, the rebels-themselves a ragtag lot of blood-bathed opportunists-had overrun much of the capital, Monrovia, and close to a thousand civilians had been killed in the fighting. About a third of Liberia's three and a half million people had fled their homes, a cholera epidemic had broken out, and crowds were gathering daily in front of the United States Embassy, chanting Bush's name and pleading for American troops to come and save their country. Against this backdrop, Taylor called Bush's bluff, announcing that he would not go unless America intervened, because he refused to abandon his people to his enemies. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan seized the moment and all but ordered Washington to muster a peacekeeping mission, and within days European and African leaders had joined in the chorus.

    A purely humanitarian intervention in Liberia-a country where, Donald Rumsfeld grumbled, America has no vital interests-may sound like the fulfillment of the high moral calling that Bush claimed had inspired him to engage with Africa. In fact, the President has a horror of peacekeeping missions. As the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, affirmed last week, Bush stands by the criteria he outlined for such operations in the 2000 campaign: "The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we are going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well defined."

    ... To rid Liberia of Charles Taylor, and, ideally, to deliver him to stand trial in Sierra Leone, is surely as worthwhile a humanitarian undertaking as the ouster of Saddam Hussein. (And wouldn't it be a welcome change to feel wanted by the people of a country we set out to liberate?) Ultimately, of course, Liberia will require much more than a couple of thousand soldiers on a triage mission to stanch the bleeding-and it is just one small country on a huge continent packed with urgent needs that Bush has vowed to do something about. Meanwhile, he had no real choice but to intervene. To abandon Liberia would be to abandon any claim of concern not only for Africa but, more broadly, for the moral underpinnings of his exercise of power.

    -Philip Gourevitch

    columbia watch 

    The World filed a fairly informative report on Columbia yesterday.

    Columbia is the US's number three foreign policy entanglement. I'll be covering it more regularly.

    President Uribe made a dramatic gesture this week. He is governing Colombia, for three days from a province rebel stonghold nearly 300 miles from the capital, Bogotá to highlight his success in bringing safety and order the country.

    Annan says Ehtio-Eritrea process at critical stage 

    From the Addis Tribune:

    "The Ethiopian-Eritrean peace process continues to be at a critical stage and lasting peace cannot be based on temporary arrangements, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released on June 30.

    In his latest progress report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Mr. Annan says, "in general the parties cooperate well with UNMEE and respect the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone. Their efforts in this connection are highly welcome and are essential to maintaining short-term stability in the region."

    Republicans to Oregon : Stay Obese 

    If the Federal tax cuts weren't enough here's proof at the local level that Republicans truly are purposely plunging this country into a Hobbesian cockfight pit.


    SALEM -- Word that Oregon had received a $2.2 million federal grant to fight obesity and prevent chronic diseases associated with it was cause for celebration at the state Department of Human Services. The money, which would be used to promote healthy eating and physical activity, couldn't be more timely. Oregon leads Western states in problem obesity.

    But the jubilation didn't last long. The grant was rejected by the Legislature, which spurned the offer of easy money in favor of a new, more cautious approach to spending taxes, whatever the source. It's part of a pattern. This year alone, seven federal grants for health programs, worth nearly $15 million, have been rejected by lawmakers. "Many of us don't happen to share the view that federal money is free," said Rep. Randy Miller, R-West Linn, co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. The committee must grant permission for state agencies to accept such grants, and the duty generally falls to the co-chairmen. "A federal dollar has the same source as a dollar that's sent to the Oregon Department of Revenue, and that's from a tax-paying citizen," Miller said.

    ...State health officials are scratching their heads about the rejections, which they say could have given a boost to efforts to improve health conditions among the low-income, minorities and migrant communities, as well as in other areas throughout the state.

    State Epidemiologist Dr. Melvin Kohn said he thought lawmakers would appreciate the extra dollars at a time when they are struggling through one of the WORST BUDGET CRISES IN DECADES.


    whither the civil rights movement 

    The ongoing controversy here in Portland over the Kendra James made wonder about the state of the civil rights movement in 2003. Kendra Jackson was an Black woman who was shot by a police officer on May 5. In the wee hours of the night police pulled over a car in a routine traffic stop. After the driver and a passenger got out of the the car, Kendra James climbed behind the wheel and attempted to drive off. Rookie officer Scott McCollister was half way in the car and had already drawn his gun. When the car started to pull away he shot and killed Kendra James. She had been using cocaine that night and had a history of abuse.

    The incident brings up real issues: inadequate guidelines in Oregon and other states regarding use of deadly force, inadequate training for new officers, the lack of discipline when the officers involved in the incident broke with procedure and met the next day to get their stories straight and not the least of which, the fact that Blacks are pulled over for routine traffic stops disproportionately to the rest of the population and they are accidently or unnecessarily shot by police disproportionately to the rest of the population. This has to make getting a ticket for a broken tail light a particularly unnerving experience.

    Our local civil rights establishment swung into high gear in the aftermath with the requisite vigils, protests and forums.

    At which point a friend of mine complained that it was a shame that civil rights leaders couldn't find anything better to rally people behind than this incident. He felt that the broader community wouldn't feel that "the shooting of a crackhead doing something stupid" as that compelling. There were so many broader issues that effect the standard of Blacks. Policing issues affected a narrow part of the Black community and mostly a not so upstanding segment at that. Publicizing the incident did more to reinforce negative stereotypes of Blacks than to bring about police accountability.

    "It's hot shop organizing", I responded. In union organizing what you would like to address is wages, benefits, safety issues, hours. Those are things that unions are good at addressing. Ask most workers what they want and they'll say, More money, More Vaction, More Health Insurance. But what many new unions are organized around are abusive supervisers and favoritism. Both issues are minefields for a union to navigate but they are the only things that get workers mad enough to do what it takes to win an organizing drive.

    Civil rights leaders were responding to the issues that concern their constituents in a visceral way. This was an issue that would get people in the street and that was their job.

    Then it occured to me that the "Black Community" had bifurcated in an important way. With the rise of a Black middle class that doesn't see involvement in civil rights as particularly relevent to their quality of life, it is harder lead the civil rights movement around issues that could get broad support and engage the political community: access to credit and capital, education, housing, healthcare.

    "And that" I responded, "is why Al Sharpton still matters and a talented guy like Kweisi Mfume has been consigned to the dustbin of history."

    Well, no sooner had I said that than Mr. Mfume appeared in the press along with Julian Bond. Doing their best Al Sharpton impressions.

    When three Democratic presidential candidates skipped out on the recent NAACP convention the president of the organization had this to say, "If you expect us to believe that you could not find 90 minutes to come by, then you have no legitimacy over the next nine months to come into our communities expecting our support, your political capital is the equivalent of Confederate dollars,"

    NAACP chairman Julian Bond had this to say about Republicans: "They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division ... their idea of reparations is to give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon. Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side."

    This disappointing to say the least. I remember being really excited back in 1995 when they took the helm of the NAACP. They were experienced, solid progressives, skilled tacticians and organizers. I new the organization was in a complete morass. I tried to follow their progress. Fairly quickly they disappeared from view. When I moved to Portland just over a year and a half ago, the local NAACP had just been put into trusteeship for extreme incompetence. When I sat down to write this I googled "Kweisi Mfume" and got 11,500 links. Most date back to 1995 and 96 when he had taken the helm. "Julian Bond" did better at 24,500 links. but "Al Sharpton" did best of all with 64,900

    Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    am i crazy or isn't this news? 

    The Pakistan News Service seems to be the only ones who thought this was interesting. This the whole article:

    WASHINGTON, USA: July 15 (PNS) - US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked about NATO's impending takeover of command of international troops in Afghanistan.
    Talking on NBC's Meet the Press programme he said, "What NATO has is a number of countries that decide to do something.". "And they're just agreeing now to take over the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan."
    NATO is due to take authority over international forces in Afghanistan on August 11. This will be the Alliance's first so-called "out-of-area" operation in its 54-year history.

    American Companies Armed Iran For Many Years 

    From Pravda:

    American Companies Armed Iran For Many Years
    07/15/2003 11:13
    US special services discovered that 18 American companies supposedly supplied weapons to the country

    As a result of an investigation of illegal supplies of military technologies to Iran agents of US special services discovered that 18 American companies supposedly supplied weapons to the country. Associated Press reports that through London's company Multicore Ltd., related to the Iranian military, Teheran was supplied with spare parts for the F-14, F-4 and F-5 battle planes, to the S-130 troop-carriers, Hawk anti-aircraft missiles and military radars.

    The information is spread by the Immigration Bureau and the War Crimes Investigation Service. No charges have been brought yet; violations of the act on control over weapons export are being investigated.,2933,91565,00.html

    NewsHour Mania 

    forgive me but I just figgered this resource out

    "The new U.S.-appointed Iraqi governing council held its inaugural meeting Sunday. Ray Suarez discusses the group's significance and the challenges it faces with Adeed Dawisha, a professor of political science at Miami University of Ohio, and Edmund Ghareeb, an adjunct professor in the School of International Service at American University."

    Thoughtful analysis but Ray really falls down in not bringing up the issue of the exile majority.

    aids in brazil 

    The NewsHour has an excellent report on fighting Aids in Brazil:

    Their big breakthrough was that the government went out and figured out how to make generic drugs on their own. And then bargained the big pharmaceutical companies down.

    In this way they can provide cocktails to people who need them.

    more on deficits 

    The NewsHour has an exchange between Joshua Bolton from the Office of Management and Budgets and Rep. John Spratt (Dem. SC) on the budget projections.

    Your temperment and politics will define who you believe, but could I just say that this Bolton character strikes me as a flak catching, lying so and so.
    I might remind you that there is a working link in the left margin - "VIDEO:deficits"

    White House Projects $1.9 Trillion in New Debt Over Next Five Years 

    From the Washington Post:
    "The federal government will pile up $1.9 trillion in new debt over the next five years and will still be running an annual deficit of $226 billion by 2008, long after White House economists assume current war costs have subsided and the economy has recovered, the Bush administration projected today."

    I was going to blow off commenting on this because, well, what the hell can you say about it? But I dragged my ass over to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and I'll offer this:

    "Today the Office of Management and Budget released new figures showing this year's budget deficit growing to $455 billion. That figure is almost $800 billion worse than the projection for fiscal year 2003 that OMB issued in February 2001; at that time, OMB forecast a surplus of $334 billion in 2003. What happened?

    The President has blamed the war and the recession for the turnaround in the nation's fiscal fortunes, ignoring the role of tax cuts. Yesterday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer again suggested the war is the culprit. Congressional Budget Office data show, however, that THE TAX CUTS ENACTED SINCE 2001 WILL COST NEARLY THREE TIMES AS MUCH OVER 2003 AND 2004 AS THE COMBINED COSTS OF THE FIGHTING AND OCCUPATION IN AFGHANINSTAN AND IRAQ, THE COSTS OF RECONSTRUCTION AND RELIEF AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11 TERRORISTS ATTACKS, INCREASED EXPENDITURES FOR HOMELAND SECURITY, AND THE COST OF DEALING WITH TERRORISM ON A WORLDWIDE BASIS. The degree to which the cost of the tax cuts exceeds the cost of the war on terrorism will grow still larger in years after 2004..."

    emphasis added.

    I've got to run out the door. I'll get back to this.

    not once, but twice 


    From the WorldNetDaily:
    In congressional testimony last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld swore repeatedly that he'd just "days" earlier learned that the uranium charge President Bush made against Iraq six months ago was bogus.

    Since then, he's had to correct the record twice, finally admitting he knew the allegation was false as early as March - less than two months after Bush's now-controversial State of the Union speech and just before the Iraq war started...

    Russert: "When Sen. Pryor asked you when did you know that reports about uranium coming out of Africa were bogus, you said, 'Oh, within recent days.'"

    Rumsfeld: "I should have said within recent weeks, meaning when ElBaradei came out" with the revelation that the allegation was baseless."

    Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council on March 7 that documents allegedly showing Iraqi officials shopping two years ago for uranium in Africa were forgeries.

    FOX : Dems on the march!!! 

    Heavens to murgatroid. The Democrats are upset. Outraged even.

    FOX News reports:
    ..."We cannot and should not play fast and loose with our intelligence information," said White House hopeful Sen. Joe Lieberman. "This breaks the basic bond of trust we must have with our leaders in times of war and terrorism."

    "The continued finger-pointing, charge-countercharge, and bureaucratic warfare within the administration do nothing to make this country safer and will simply further erode the confidence of the American public and our allies around the world," said another Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.

    ...In reaction to the retraction, the Democratic National Committee and two liberal groups opposed to the war in Iraq have also produced television ads.

    Win Without War (search) and's (search) ad plays foreboding music while an announcer says: "George Bush told us Iraq was a nuclear threat. He said they were trying to purchase uranium, that they were rebuilding their nuclear facilities. So we went to war. Now there's evidence we were misled and almost everyday Americans are dying in Iraq. We need the truth not a cover-up. Log onto today."

    Neither the ad nor the one produced by the DNC have been televised. Currently, they are Internet ads only. The organizations say they will be up and on television next week and are asking supporters to send in donations to bankroll the ad runs.,2933,91684,00.html

    Exit. Stage left.

    iraq's oil industry 

    John Cassidy in the New Yorker on the prospects of Iraq's oil industry:

    Most of the Iraqis I spoke with were connected to the oil industry. Almost all of them said that the Iraqi government should continue to run the industry, but they also seemed open to the idea of partnerships and joint ventures with foreign firms. You have to understand that the managers of the industry are well educated, experienced, and proud. They believe that they have already demonstrated the capacity to run the industry capably, and most foreign oil experts would agree with that assessment. In the past twenty-five years, the industry has survived three wars and a decade of U.N. sanctions. Despite this history, on the eve of the war, Iraq's oil industry was producing about two and a half million barrels a day.As for the Iraqi people at large, most of them just want a fair shake from the oil revenues.

    During the nineteen-seventies, the Baathists did a pretty good job of using the oil money to develop the economy and to provide the populace with health care and education. (Since) 1980, a lot of the oil money was diverted to military uses. Most people would be happy to see a return to the policies of the seventies, but it's not clear if that will happen.

    ...some people in Washington are pushing for privatization. Earlier this year, a couple of economists from the Heritage Foundation published a paper advocating the splitting up of the Iraqi oil industry, followed by a stock-market flotation, along Russian lines. When I spoke to Philip Carroll (a former head of Royal Dutch/Shell's American operations who is currently running Iraq's oil industry) about this, he knocked down the idea, saying that the Russian model, which led to a small group of oligarchs taking over the entire industry, wasn't one to emulate.

    ...Paul Bremer... has given the conservatives some grounds for encouragement by advocating an aggressive program of privatization (although Bremer didn't specifically mention the oil industry). Conversely, Carroll's statements to me, which I report in the piece, will provide some encouragement to the moderates and the liberals who think that the last thing Iraq needs is a dose of "shock therapy."...when I spoke to Carroll he said categorically that Iraq would not be leaving OPEC in the near future, certainly not before a representative government is formed. As for the long term, he repeated the mantra that this is an issue for the Iraqis to decide. When I pressed him on his personal views, he said that he believed it would be in Iraq's best interest to stay in OPEC.

    ...One of the Iraqis I met said to me, "We need a MacArthur or a Marshall." I think they might need a MacArthur and a Marshall to help them survive the next few years, but even that won't be enough. They also need a George Washington or a Franklin D. Roosevelt; a great Iraqi to emerge and unite the country behind a progressive, forward-looking government in its time of need. But it's just as likely that they will get a Milosevic, a Khomeini, or another Saddam.

    I want to drop this and go to bed but... 

    everyone is on it and I know that I am the only bulwark left standing to defend truth and democracy.

    Glenn Reynolds @ Instapundit has this post:

    THE FAKE NIGER DOCUMENTS WEREN'T BEHIND THE BRITISH REPORT that Saddam was trying to buy uranium there, according to The Telegraph:

    " British officials admitted that the country was Niger but insisted that the intelligence behind it was genuine and had nothing to do with the fake documents. It was convincing and they were sticking with it, the officials said.

    They dismissed a report from a former US diplomat who was sent to Niger to investigate the claims and rejected them. "He seems to have asked a few people if it was true and when they said 'no' he accepted it all," one official said. "We see no reason at all to change our assessment."

    The fake documents were not behind that assessment and were not seen by MI6 until after they were denounced by the IAEA. If MI6 had seen them earlier, it would have immediately advised the Americans that they were fakes. "

    As mentioned here quite some time ago, the French appear to have been involved in the bogus documents. Now why would they have a hand in that?

    He links to this story in the Telegraph which I'm not going to excerpt because I don't know how to begin:

    Please read and return.
    I'll wait.

    OK ready?

    1) How is French intel stopping M16 from doing anything?
    2) How is that the documents that we in the public are exposed to are fakes but the documents that the great and might Oz has are authentic? Coincidence or bullshit? You decide.
    3) How do you dismiss Joe Wilson's reasoning (you can't move 500 tons of yellow cake uranium out from under the nose of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the companies that run the mines and the government of Niger without drawing attention?) out of hand like that?
    4) The forged documents didn't come from the British. Only the British care.

    Monday, July 14, 2003

    doonesbury on sunday 

    I haven't really enjoyed Doonesbury in about a hundred years but this Sunday Mssr. Trudeau really hit the nail on the head. To find out which nail and which head go here:

    When you dance with a tarbaby 

    you end up covered in tar.

    I apologize for harping on this yellow cake stuff but it just tickles the shit out of me to watch the Admin squirm on this. Especially Ari.

    You can't have your yellow cake and eat it too. 

    The current debate on the Bush's State of the Union Address false remarks concerning Iraq's attempt to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger misses an important point that the adminstration is using to it's advantage (trying to anyway). The Admin is trying to downplay the role the false statement played in the speach and in moving our country to war.

    From CNN:

    BLITZER: All right, the key question: How did that get into the president's State of the Union address, arguably the most important speech he gives every year? How did it get in, if that wasn't necessarily meeting the standards that you think should have been met?

    RICE: Wolf, let me just start by saying, it is 16 words, and it has become an enormously overblown issue.
    The president of the United States did not go to war because of the question of whether or not Saddam Hussein sought the uranium in Africa. He took the American people and American forces to war because this was a bloody tyrant, who for 12 years had defied the international community, who had weapons of mass destruction, who had used them in the past, who was threatening his neighbors, and who threatened our efforts to make the Middle East a place in which you would have stability and therefore not people with ideologies of hatred driving airplanes into the World Trade Center. That's why we went to war.

    But what's missing from this debate is the that yellow cake story had been used in the fall to bring congressional Democrats into line to authorize the President to go to war against Iraq at will.

    Here are relevant sections of Seymour Hersh's report in the New Yorker in March (forgive the copious exerpting):

    "Last September 24th, as Congress prepared to vote on the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq, a group of senior intelligence officials, including George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq's weapons capability...

    According to two of those present at the briefing, which was highly classified and took place in the committee's secure hearing room, Tenet declared, as he had done before, that a shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted on its way to Iraq had been meant for the construction of centrifuges that could be used to produce enriched uranium. The suitability of the tubes for that purpose had been disputed, but this time the argument that Iraq had a nuclear program under way was buttressed by a new and striking fact: the C.I.A. had recently received intelligence showing that, between 1999 and 2001, Iraq had attempted to buy five hundred tons of uranium oxide from Niger, one of the world's largest producers. The uranium, known as "yellow cake," can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors; if processed differently, it can also be enriched to make weapons. Five tons can produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a bomb. (When the C.I.A. spokesman William Harlow was asked for comment, he denied that Tenet had briefed the senators on Niger.)

    ...Two days later, Secretary of State Colin Powell, appearing before a closed hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also cited Iraq's attempt to obtain uranium from Niger as evidence of its persistent nuclear ambitions. The testimony from Tenet and Powell helped to mollify the Democrats, and two weeks later the resolution passed overwhelmingly, giving the President a congressional mandate for a military assault on Iraq.

    ... On March 7th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents involving the Niger-Iraq uranium sale were fakes. "The I.A.E.A. has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents . . . are in fact not authentic," ElBaradei said.

    One senior I.A.E.A. official went further. He told me, "These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking."

    ... A former Clinton Administration official told me that London had resorted to, among other things, spreading false information about Iraq. The British propaganda program-part of its Information Operations, or I/Ops-was known to a few senior officials in Washington. "I knew that was going on," the former Clinton Administration official said of the British efforts. "We were getting ready for action in Iraq, and we wanted the Brits to prepare."

    Over the next year, a former American intelligence officer told me, at least one member of the U.N. inspection team who supported the American and British position arranged for dozens of unverified and unverifiable intelligence reports and tips-data known as inactionable intelligence-to be funnelled to MI6 operatives and quietly passed along to newspapers in London and elsewhere. "It was intelligence that was crap, and that we couldn't move on, but the Brits wanted to plant stories in England and around the world," the former officer said. There was a series of clandestine meetings with MI6, at which documents were provided, as well as quiet meetings, usually at safe houses in the Washington area."

    And the proof that knowledge of the bogus nature of the yellow cake story was widespread in the intelligence community and the Admin is abdundant to say the least. We all now by now that Tenet had objected to it three months prior to the State of the Union and that Powell wouldn't use it days later in his address to the UN. Now we have the gentleman that was sent to Niger to investigate this intelligence writing in the NY Times on July 6th:

    Joseph C. Wilson 4th

    "In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake - a form of lightly processed ore - by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.
    It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

    Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.

    ...Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure."

    This needs to be brought up as the Admin continues to run with this "It was just sixteen words." line. The yellow cake story played a critical role in getting us into Iraq.

    It also needs to be put in the context of the fact that we have come up with nothing, nada, zero in our search for WMD's. No one in the media has had the cojones to put the two issues in the same paragraph yet.

    aids echo chamber 

    This from

    "This year, President Bush proposed spending $15 billion over the next five years on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, primarily in Africa. Since then, as this Financial Times op-ed explains, the five-year plan has been authorized by Congress, but no funds have yet been appropriated and signed into law, meaning the $15 billion may not actually be spent.

    Moreover, Bush himself did not request a full year's allotment of funds, asking for only $2 billion for fiscal year 2003, which was significantly less than the $3 billion Congress had authorized to fulfill his plan. Last week, the House of Representatives appropriated just a little over $2 billion, the Washington Post reported, while the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution to spend $3 billion. Clearly, there's reason to doubt whether $15 billion will ever be spent, but this hasn't stopped President Bush from touting his plan as if the funds were a sure thing." ...

    and the press is happy to echo this:

    ..."The president's five- nation trip is aimed at showcasing his administration's Africa agenda," said Ray Suarez of PBS's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer." "That includes a $15 billion program to fight the spread of AIDS." A Reuters report said that "Bush comes armed with a $15 billion, five-year plan to fight the disease in Africa and the Caribbean." The Conservative News Service declared that, "President Bush will be pushing forward his AIDS relief initiative this week during his visit in Africa after setting aside $15 billion over the next five years, primarily in 14 African countries." Perhaps most misleading, though, was an Associated Press article which said, "Bush has won from Congress a plan to spend 15 billion dollars on drugs and prevention programs."

    buenos noches 

    Compay Segundo passed away today.

    He is remembered here:

    In Granma:
    In recent years he was never missing from Cuba's cigar festivals, where his hat was auctioned and where he recalled his days as a cigar roller among humidors and aromatic leaves.

    At one of those fiestas he sang to President Fidel Castro, who took his pulse and joked about his vitality despite his 90-plus years. "Who could have imagined that?" he asked when he found himself at the Vatican, performing his universally known "Chan Chan" before Pope John Paul II.

    He explained his longevity simply: mutton consommé and a drink of rum. When he was asked how long he thought he would live, he recalled that his grandmother died at the age of 115.

    "I'll ask for an extension when I get there," he said.

    And here:

    by PRI's "The World"

    Sunday, July 13, 2003

    chalabi watch 

    From MSNBC

    BAGHDAD, July 13 - Baghdad residents poured cold water on Iraq's new Governing Council on Sunday, saying they would not support a U.S.-backed institution or politicians who lived abroad while they suffered under Saddam Hussein.

    ... ''We cannot back the council. It is backed by America and it won't change anything. America has just made empty promises,'' said Sabah Kathim, who makes about three dollars a day selling ice. "I used to stop reading newspapers so I would not have to read about Saddam. Now I don't want to read about the Americans.''
    ...they want to see democratic elections soon that are not tainted by American influence or the participation of Iraqi outsiders. Many of the Iraqis in the Council were exiles. ''Elections have to happen quickly or else the theft and insecurity will continue in the streets,'' said Ghada Abboud, a seamstress in a middle class neighbourhood in Baghdad. ''We don't want Iraqi leaders who have been living abroad for years who did not see our problems inside Iraq. They have to know how we lived to rule us.''
    ...Kathim Hashim shook his head when asked about the council, which critics say was handpicked by the U.S.-led administration controlling Iraq. ''The American soldiers just drive around and make promises through loudspeakers. They do nothing. Just over there a thief shot and killed someone this morning,'' he said. Hashim and his friends said Iraqis had little respect for Council members like Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress leader convicted for embezzlement in Jordan.
    ''Where was Chalabi and the others?'' he asked. Chalabi, born into a prominent Iraqi business and political family, had been in exile since 1958 until April this year. "

    They should have interviewed some political players and not just "the man on the street". Especially when Iraqis are getting such sketchy information in the street.

    Nevertheless,I really believe that the Bush Administration will rue the day they threw in with Ahmed Chalabi. Putting exiles and expatriates on the council is just so obnoxious. It really shows how little respect the Administration has for this country and how strongly we plan to manhandle it before allowing them "democracy".

    Here comes the rope a dope 

    From the "You've GOT to be kidding" Department:

    From the San Francisco Chronicle

    " The Bush administration said Sunday that the president's statement in the State of the Union address about Iraq seeking uranium was accurate and is supported by other British and U.S. information.

    Nevertheless, said Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, the statement should not have been in the Jan. 20 speech, in which President Bush laid out reasons for military action against Iraq, because "we have a higher standard for presidential speeches" than raw intelligence. "

    After admitting that the yellow cake documents were forgeries, after George Tenent sort of kind of fell on his sword, Condoleeza Rice in an interview with FOX News Sunday had this to say:

    "But the statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that. Not only was the statement accurate, there were statements of this kind in the National Intelligence Estimate," a classified document compiled by U.S. agencies. "The British stand by their statement," Rice said. They have told us that despite the fact that we had apparently some concerns about that report, that they had other sources, and that they stand by the statement." Asked whether she or her colleagues in the administration had seen such additional British evidence, Rice said: "The British have reasons, because of the arrangements that they made, apparently, in receiving those sources, that they cannot share them with us. We have every reason to believe that the British services are quite reliable."

    The Bush Admininstration is getting drawn into a quagmire. And this is it. Good for them.

    Judge Merritt's documents 

    This article appeared in the Tennessean
    at the end of May that hasn't been picked up by nearly anyone and bears examining. Glenn Reynolds linked to it Friday.

    Here is the text from Instapundit:

    "THE SADDAM/OSAMA CONNECTION, DOCUMENTED. INTERESTING ARTICLE BY THE JUDGE I CLERKED FOR, Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, who has been in Iraq on a judicial-assistance mission with the ABA:

    'Through an unusual set of circumstances, I have been given documentary evidence of the names and positions of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, as well as his ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

    I am looking at the document as I write this story from my hotel room overlooking the Tigris River in Baghdad. One of the lawyers with whom I have been working for the past five weeks had come to me and asked me whether a list of the 600 people closest to Saddam Hussein would be of any value now to the Americans. I said, yes, of course. He said that the list contained not only the names of the 55 ''deck of cards'' players who have already been revealed, but also 550 others. When I began questioning him about the list, how he obtained it and what else it showed, he asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden. I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists. He said, ''Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow.''

    So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

    The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.'' The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. . . .

    That is the story of the ''Honor Roll of 600,'' and why I believe that President Bush was right when he alleged that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama and was coordinating activities with him.

    It does not prove that they engaged together in any particular act of terror against the United States. But it seems to me to be strong proof that the two were in contact and conspiring to perform terrorist acts.

    Up until this time, I have been skeptical about these claims. Now I have changed my mind. There is, however, one big problem remaining: They are both still at large and the combined forces of the free world have been unable to find them. Until we find and capture them, they will remain a threat - Saddam with the remnants of his army and supporters in combination with the worldwide terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden.'

    Read the whole thing. Those who know Judge Merritt -- a lifelong Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity -- will know just how significant this is."

    The document was a newspaper published by Uday. Judges Merrits source bought the newspaper at a newsstand at 8am and all copies of the newspaper were confiscated by 10. The newspaper did not publish for the next ten days.

    I have few questions before I assign much importance to this.
    1. Why was this Judge talking about these documents in his dispatch to his home newspaper before having US intelligence thoroughly check the authenticity of the newspaper?
    2. Wouldn't any Mideast government have some sort of liason to "the Osama Bin Laden group"?
    3. If this story has significance, why hasn't it been picked up? Liberal media bias doesn't
    4. Why hasn't the Bush Administration run with this?

    Judge Merrits dispatch is published with an accompanying article which points out that the Weekly Standard had also recently had an article on the list which pointed out a strange passage:

    ' "This is a list of the henchmen of the regime. Our hands will reach them sooner or later. Woe unto them."

    Since the list was published in a newspaper run by Saddam Hussein's son, it was not clear why this passage would have been allowed to appear.

    Officials at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA were asked by Gannett News Service for comment yesterday on the list. Both agencies said they were aware of the list but declined to comment on its status or authenticity. ''There are innumerable lists,'' said one official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who declined to be identified for publication. ''So you have to ask what does it mean to be on this list? It takes time to sort through all this. People give names all over the place." '

    Stephen Hayes writing in the Weekly Standard Friday in response to Glenn Reynolds post makes an interesting point.

    "I stumbled upon this passage doing research for another piece. So I brought the article to the attention of administration officials, who hadn't yet seen it, and asked for comment. Intelligence analysts were perplexed, particularly because of a passage in the text preceding the list. It read: "We publish this list of great men for the sons of our great people to see." And below that: "This is a list of the henchmen of the regime. Our hands will reach them sooner or later. Woe unto them. A list of the leaders of Saddam's regime, as well as their present and previous posts."

    The second description was clearly hostile in tone--"henchmen of the regime" and "woe unto them." Analysts weren't sure what to make of the introduction or the list, but suggested Uday Hussein may have simply republished a list of "henchmen" distributed by an Iraqi opposition group without realizing he was publicly linking his father to Osama bin Laden. "

    We'll have to wait and see if any of this adds up.

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