Online lending has grown considerably over the last decade, how is this being managed?.....If you have required additional money until pay day, you might have considered something like using payday advance services online which are now completed within the same day. A pay day loan can be had online and with no credit suitability check. Everybody at some particular point in their life has come into a sort of finance problem. One thing that may appear captivating to mend different monetary issues is taking out a payday loan. Although this could be something you are considering to assist in getting you out of debt or to pay this month's bills, you may wish to take another look and see why pay day loans could be a problem. First off you have got to understand what a pay day loan is. A pay day loan may go by many names like a pay day advance, money advance, or deferred deposit loans, but in the final analysis they're all the same thing. These are temporary loans that routinely should be satisfied by your next pay check or pay period. Banks will usually need you to put down some sort of security for the loan like a check or pay check. Since it's a "pay day" loan, you have got to give evidence of work to show you do really have a pay day. There aren't any limits to what you want the loan for and you do not have to give banks a reason why you need the loan. There's usually no credit suitability check concerned for this sort of loan. One of the key issues of these loans is their rate of interest. These rates can be unusually high leading you to owe more than what you originally took out. Some banks also put on additional charges and APR, which then when it is time to repay the loan, there is not any way for the borrower to repay it totally. This creates a dangerous cycle for folks attempting to escape debt. Naturally this would possibly not be the case with all banks, but when it comes down to getting fast money remember, nothing is free. If you have got bad credit and think that taking a pay day loan will bump up your score because it's a loan, thing again. When a bank investigates your credit score and sees that you've taken out a money advance or pay day loan, it will not look great.

Having this on your credit score may send a wrong message to banks by pronouncing you already have difficulty paying debts or staying on top of your cash. Naturally since the explanation why they look at credit history and history is to appraise what sort of risk they could be taking on loaning you the cash, you do not want them to think you already have money concerns. These loans can also place a strain on your score because if you do fall prey to the debt cycle, it's going to reflect in your credit history. If those are not convincing enough, then you can search for more reasons which explain why payday loans are not the best choice out there. For folks who are attempting to escape from debt, there are so very many things that can be done rather than getting a payday loan, like taking out a private loan, or working with a finance consultant on debt consolidation. If you would like to raise your credit history and think a loan is the most obvious way to go, then at least go for a regular loan like a home, vehicle, or private loan that have ordinary IRs so that you can build excellent credit. Everybody has been in a sticky financial footing at 1 time or another, but there are better paths to solve the problem than taking out a pay day loan.Blemished credit won't disqualify you from qualifying for a pay day loan. You may use the cash for what ever purpose mandatory and the cash can often be deposited into your current account the same day you apply. All that you need is a current bank account, and a steady income stream and you can get up to one thousand greenbacks or even more deposited straight into your account. A pay day loan is intended to satisfy your short term monetary desires and shouldn't be used as a regular lending source. The costs charged for pay day loans can be higher than a conventional loan from your bank and should be used to clear up brief or emergency fiscal crises. Frequently getting pay day loans can cost a ton of cash if you extended your pay off date many times or if you ceaselessly borrow against your next pay check. If a short term pay day loan is the top choice for you, you may be authorized and have up to 1000 greenbacks or even more deposited into your checking account occasionally as quickly as the same day you apply. Pay day loan IRs change from firm to firm. Some banks offer discount rates for new or returning patrons. After supplying the pay day loan company with the mandatory info, usually your name, address, work and banking info, you may be authorized in little more than sixty minutes and the funds can regularly be in your current account the same day. On occasion you could be needed to fax your last pay check stub and banking statement before approval, but the funds can still be deposited into your checking account extremely swiftly. Subprime credit shouldn't prevent you from making an application for a pay day loan. There will be no creditworthiness check, only the corroboration of the data you supply. Pay day loan firms don't test your credit score or contact your employer, except as important to confirm work. Applying and getting authorized is fast and convenient. Online banks can approve you application swiftly and you will have the money you want as fast as the day you are approved.

NUCLEAR IRAN?....The Los Angeles Times has a long investigative report today saying that "Iran appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb":

No one is certain when Iran might produce its first atomic weapon. Some experts said two or three years; others believe the government has probably not given a final go-ahead. But it is clear that Iran is moving purposefully and rapidly toward acquiring the capability.

Among the findings:

  • A confidential report prepared by the French government in May concluded that Iran is surprisingly close to having enriched uranium or plutonium for a bomb. The French warned other governments to exercise "the most serious vigilance on their exports to Iran and Iranian front companies," according to a copy of the report provided by a foreign intelligence service.

  • ....North Korean military scientists recently were monitored entering Iranian nuclear facilities. They are assisting in the design of a nuclear warhead, according to people inside Iran and foreign intelligence officials. So many North Koreans are working on nuclear and missile projects in Iran that a resort on the Caspian coast is set aside for their exclusive use.

....A nuclear-armed Iran would present the United States with a difficult political and military equation. Iran would be the first avowed enemy of Israel to possess a nuclear bomb and the first nuclear-armed country labeled by the administration as a state sponsor of international terrorism.

I'm not really sure if there's anything new here, but the story brings together a lot of detail in one place. It's worth reading.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 09:30 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (5)

TONY RAISES THE WHITE FLAG....You know, the British sure have a lot more fun with their scandals than we do. Last we heard, the British government was claiming that BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan had wildly exaggerated — maybe even made up — his interview with David Kelly, the one in which Kelly allegedly told him that the government's Iraq dossier had been "sexed up" at the last minute to make it sound better than it really was.

Today, the Independent says that Tony Blair & Co. are having second thoughts about this line of attack:

Downing Street will seek to defend itself over the death of David Kelly by portraying the scientist as a Walter Mitty character who exaggerated his role in the Government's intelligence case against Iraq.

....In what appears to be a change of tactics by the Government, a senior Whitehall source told The Independent that Dr Kelly had misled the Ministry of Defence and the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan [italics mine] over claims that a dossier used to justify war against Saddam Hussein had been "sexed up".

If this is true, it means that Gilligan and the BBC are almost entirely* in the clear. So why take this tack? I figure there are two possibilities:

  • It's actually true. (Yes, I know this is a possibility that normally gets discounted in cases like this, but you never know.)

  • Although it clears the BBC, it also means that Tony Blair is off the hook on the "sexing up" charges. After all, if Kelly was just a delusional nutcase there's really nothing to investigate. Time to move on.

I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between. I think Kelly really did say the things Gilligan quoted him saying, but regardless of that I suspect that Tony Blair has decided there's not much future in pushing this any further. With the Iraq dossier looking dodgier with every passing day that fails to turn up any WMD, a lengthy investigation that keeps this on the front page just can't be good for him. It's time to sue for peace.

*"Almost" entirely because there's still the problem that the BBC lied when they said their source was an intelligence official and was not an employee of the Ministry of Defense. However, I suspect that if everyone concludes that Gilligan told the truth about what Kelly said, the other stuff is small beer.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 08:56 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (5)

VICTORY FOR THE NEOCONS?....It looks like Donald Rumsfeld is a winner:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, have signaled to the White House that they intend to step down even if President Bush is reelected, setting the stage for a substantial reshaping of the administration's national security team that has remained unchanged through the September 2001 terrorist attacks, two wars and numerous other crises.

Armitage recently told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that he and Powell will leave on Jan. 21, 2005, the day after the next presidential inauguration, sources familiar with the conversation said. Powell has indicated to associates that a commitment made to his wife, rather than any dismay at the administration's foreign policy, is a key factor in his desire to limit his tenure to one presidential term.

Everybody who believes this, please raise your hands.

(You know, we just recently heard that Arnold's decision about running for governor will be dictated largely by his wife. Now this. Either women have a lot more political power in America than raw numbers would suggest, or else they make awfully convenient excuses. You make the call.)

Posted by Kevin Drum at 08:08 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (2) | Comments (26)

URL UPDATE....Body and Soul has moved to a new address:

Update your bookmarks.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 05:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (5)

GOVERNING VS. VENTING....The Economist this week trots out a by now familiar criticism of Democratic strategy:

The Democrats' attacks on Mr Bush seem misguided, both in principle and tactically. And it so happens that, if they gave the matter any thought, they would find they had much better grounds than these for criticising Mr Bush.

The Economist's Republican-friendly Lexington columnist, writing about Al From and the decline of the centrist DLC, puts it this way:

Many of Mr From's troops think that the next election is being lost. The conversation in the corridors was all about the continuing Howard Dean insurgency—and about the party's more general drift to the left. Many people speculated that the 2004 election could be a disaster comparable to 1988 or 1972. Given a choice between governing and venting, the Democrats are going to vent.

....The biggest reason for the party's leftward lurch, however, lies with the anti-Bush fury in the rank and file. The party faithful fume that their cowardly leaders in Washington, who supported the Iraq war, have provided an echo, not a choice. In Mr Dean they have finally found a man to express their fury.

I'll confess that I have a hard time knowing where to stand on all this. Democrats have tried mightily over the past year to convince the press and the public that Bush makes a habit of shading the truth and pursuing policies that aren't justified by the facts on the ground, but without much success. So now that they've finally found a subject where the charge resonates, they're supposed to stay quiet just because the war was popular with a large segment of the public? That's reason to be careful, of course, but surely the only way to defeat a popular president is to call both his policies and his judgment into question, even if those policies are popular. Maybe over time they will become somewhat less popular, no?

On the other hand, speaking more generally, Bill Clinton didn't win his elections by large margins, especially when you take Ross Perot's vote sucking into account, and 9/11 has clearly moved the country rightward since then. Common sense tells you that this means anyone more liberal than Clinton is vanishingly unlikely to beat Bush.

So: I think anger is fine right now, because it's aimed mostly at the Democratic base, the only segment of the population that's truly paying attention to the primary race at the moment. And chipping away at George Bush's undeserved reputation for saying what he means and meaning what he says is also fine, even if some of the criticism is trivial. Eventually perhaps the criticisms will build up and sink in.

But later on, when the rest of the country does start paying attention, our candidate is going to need to tone down the anger, which probably doesn't play well with a lot of the voters we need, and project a much more positive, centrist vision.

If Howard Dean can do that tap dance, maybe he can win. If he can't, then Kerry or Edwards are better picks. For now, I'm still waiting and seeing.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 11:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (65)

RECOMMENDED READING....The LA Times has a fascinating feature story today by Barry Siegel about an Orthodox Jewish school in the Fairfax district named Shalhevet:

Shalhevet, which means a self-kindling flame, opened its high school 11 years ago and added a middle school in the fall of 2000; it now has a total enrollment of 370. Right from the start, the struggle to fuse a Kohlbergian ethos with Orthodox Judaism made for constant cacophony. The students and faculty challenged each other all the time, usually with gusto. Democracy, parking lot privileges, off-campus conduct, teachers' manners — everything was ripe for debate.

Only when Israel came up did acrimony replace gusto....

The article traces the career of Xander Maksik, a drama teacher who ended up pushing the normal cacophony a bit too far when he insisted on teaching his seventh grade class Habibi, a novel that includes "rough behavior by Israeli soldiers, and the humiliation of Palestinians." The local community split in half:

There was no avoiding it: To some at Shalhevet, the Palestinians were equivalent to the Nazis. That became clear one day when an otherwise gentle rabbi said, "I hope they kill all the Palestinians." To Sam Gomberg, the analogy was Germany, circa 1938.

"You're being insensitive," he told Maksik now as they sat in Friedman's office. "Would you have students read 'Mein Kampf' at this school?"

Friedman directed the meeting from behind his desk, tilting his high-backed executive chair, inquiring but offering little comment. Maksik sat before him, Gomberg off to the side, Rabbi Gabbai at Friedman's right. All three would later recall the encounter.

Maksik stiffened at Gomberg's question. Yes, he'd assign Hitler's manifesto at this school. "There would be no better place to teach it."

"Well, then," Gomberg said. "Then I really have nothing to say."

It's a long story, but it's worth reading the whole thing. Especially for those of us who aren't Jewish and can't pretend to understand the culture firsthand, it brings to life much of the rawness and bitterness on both sides and does a good job of portraying everyone in the dispute sympathetically. Highly recommended.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:47 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (8)

A DEAN TIDAL WAVE?....OR THE PEAK OF A BUBBLE?....That firebrand Howard Dean is on the covers of both Time and Newsweek this week. Good news, right?

Probably. After all, publicity and name recognition are the name of the game this early in the primary season. And yet....I wonder. It also has the feeling of a bubble peaking, and peaking several months too early. I wonder if Dean will meet the same fate as John Anderson, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, John McCain, and all the other straight talking insurgents over the years who have dazzled the press but then faded later?

Beats me. But August seems awfully early for this kind of thing. The Dean forces better be careful.

POSTSCRIPT: I suppose I'm going to get the usual raft of comments claiming that the only reason I'm saying this is because I detest Howard Dean. Go ahead if you must, but at least keep 'em short, OK?

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (42)

August 02, 2003

A LOOK BACK AT LOOKING FORWARD....A few weeks ago Arts & Letters Daily linked to a reprint of "Miracles You'll See in the Next 50 Years," an article in the February 1950 edition of Popular Mechanics. It was a charming look forward to the technological utopia of today, written in the kind of bubblingly optimistic tone that you just don't see any more — a sad reminder of how dimly even the most optimistic of us view the future compared to that initial generation of postwar romantics.

The article (not available online) contained predictions, of course. Lots of them. So I decided to pull out each of the individual predictions embedded in the text and see how they turned out. The stars of our story are Joe and Jane Dobson, who live in the suburb of Tottenville. Here's the scorecard:


Results as of 2003

It's a crime to pollute the air with smoke and soot.

Maybe in Tottenville, but smoke and soot remain crime free everywhere else.

In cities, highways are double decked. Upper deck is for nonstop traffic, lower deck is "much like our avenues, with brightly illuminated shops."

I think we have one freeway in Los Angeles that's double decked for about four miles. The lower deck, however, is just a freeway. No shops to be seen, brightly illuminated or otherwise

Tottenville is illuminated by "electric suns" on 200 foot towers.

Nope. In fact, I'm not even sure this sounds like a desirable prediction.

Atomic power is not used because it is hopelessly inefficient. It is used only in the cold, sunless north.

Atomic power works fine. France practically runs on the stuff.

The U.S. government began research into solar power in 1949. It is now widely used in America and other sunny, tropical countries.

Solar power has gone nowhere so far. In fact, I think the Bush administration is on the verge of outlawing it.

Atomic powered ocean liners began to run in 1970.

Coincidentally, that's approximately the date when traditional ocean liners, atomically powered or otherwise, ceased to run at all.

Steel is used only for cutting tools and massive machinery, but has otherwise been replaced.

The steel trust isn't what it used to be, but we're still using lots of steel.

Houses are constructed far differently than in 1950, using light metal walls four inches thick with an inch or two of insultating material.

Actually, house construction is disturbingly identical to the way it was done in 1950.

More on housing: all parts are mass produced, cut to size on the spot, and some parts are made of poured plastic. There is no wood, brick, or stone.


The Dobsons' house cost only $5,000 (including furnishings!) and is built to last only 25 years.

Even adjusted for inflation, this is wildly off the mark.

Razors are a thing of the past.

Gillette spends more on razor technology than the Russians spend on securing their nuclear bombs.

No dishwashing machines. Plastic dishes simply dissolve in superheated water.

Wrong on both counts.

Jane cleans the house by just hosing everything off. After all, everything is made of plastic!

I don't know about you, but I don't have a hose in my house.

"Cooking as an art is only a memory."

Finally! A prediction that's pretty close to true, at least as far as the average household is concerned.

Soup and milk are delivered in the form of frozen bricks.

I think there was a dotcom based on this idea....

Everyone has an electronic oven. Jane prepares dinner in 30 minutes.

Microwaves are indeed ubiquitous, and if anything this is probably an overestimate of how long most people spend preparing dinner these days.

Sawdust and wood pulp are converted into food. Rayon underwear is converted into candy.

No to the first, and as to the second — yuck.

Videophones have replaced telephones.

This is possibly the most popular failed prediction of all time. I was originally promised this in the "House of Tomorrow" at Disneyland, but I still don't have one.

Joe and his fellow businessmen hold "television conferences."

Half credit. People aren't "surrounded by half a dozen television screens," but videoconferencing is definitely an up and coming technology.

Jane does her shopping by television. "Department stores obligingly hold up for her inspection bolts of fabric or show her new styles of clothing."

Hmmm, not quite. Still, internet shopping has a passing resemblance to this.

Factories are completely automated. "By holes punched in a roll of paper, every operation necessary to produce a helicopter is indicated."

Well, there is a lot factory automation today, though not quite at this Jetsons-like level. But the holes punched in paper bespeak a delightful ignorance of computers, the one big invention that really has become commonplace by 2003.

The Zworykin-Von Neumann automaton solves thousands of equations per minute to predict the weather.

Thousand of equations per minute is about what my old TI programmable calculator could do, but on the other hand we do have supercomputers that perform weather prediction and even occasionally get it right.

No more storms! Before one has a chance to build up steam, oil is spread on the sea and ignited, causing the storm to dissipate.

This novel idea does not seem to have caught on, although several supertanker captains appear to have been enthusiasts for the first part of this operation.

Bigshots travel in 1000 mph rocket planes. Time to cross Atlantic: 3 hours. Cost: $5,000 from Chicago to Paris.

The Concorde will shut down this year. No rocket planes are in sight. The distance from New York to London continues to be more than 3,000 miles. In any case, if such a flight cost as much as the Dobsons' house, these flights would cost a quarter million bucks each. Even Bill Gates would think twice.

Nobody has yet circumnavigated the moon in a "rocket space ship."

Hell, not only have we landed on the moon, Venus, and Mars, we've circumnavigated the entire solar system and gone beyond it. When last heard from, Pioneer 10 was about 4 billion miles outside the solar sytem.

Cities have grown into regions. It's hard to tell where one city ends and another begins.

Another winner! Here in California, you truly need to have sharp eyes to know when you've crossed a city boundary.

Cars run on denatured alcohol and are used only for journeys of less than 20 miles. The family helicopter is used for other travel.


Commuters get into the city on aerial busses that hold 200 passengers.

That would be nice, but if this had come to pass then why did we also need double decked highways?

Fax has replaced telegrams.

Well, sort of....

Tuberculosis is easily cured.

No it isn't.

Wrinkles and sagging cheeks are a thing of the past. Lifespan is now 85 years.

If this had been a prediction of widespread plastic surgery, it would count as a successful prediction. Sadly, it wasn't. The lifespan prediction isn't too far off the mark, though.

Viral diseases such as the common cold are cured with ease.

Don't I wish.

Cancer is not yet curable.

A correct negative prediction. But why was the author so pessimistic?

Nerve diseases such as Parkinson's are cured by a battery driven apparatus carried in the pocket.


In the end, the microwave oven is really the only 100% correct prediction out of the whole mess, although the author also gets points for weather prediction and suburban sprawl, and perhaps half credit for "television shopping" and factory automation.

What's more remarkable, though, is that the article fails to predict practically all the things that really did happen: computers, the internet, cell phones, satellites, cable TV, the fall of communism, and light beer. So while on its merits it might get a score of, say, 5 out of 100, when you add in the negative failures its score is probably more like -1000 or so.

This is a pretty stunning performance, but in a remarkable act of self-referential meta-prediction, it turns out that the article actually predicts its own failure:

The only obstacles to accurate prophecy are the vested interests, which may retard progress for economic reasons, tradition, conservatism, labor-union policies and legislation.

In other words, it's all the fault of the Democrats and the Republicans. Maybe we should all become libertarians after all.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 04:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (3) | Comments (62)

THAT LIBERAL, LIBERAL MEDIA....Peter J. Wallison is mad at the press and thinks their reporting on Iraq stinks. He provides three examples in an NRO column on Friday:

  • Tim Russert challenged Paul Wolfowitz on Meet the Press about whether he had underestimated the number of troops it would take to pacify Iraq. But shouldn't we be looking forward instead of playing gotcha?

  • The press doggedly insists on telling us how many soldiers have died since May 1st. What's the point of that other than to embarrass the president?

  • The press interpreted Newt Gingrich's temper tantrum at the AEI last April as a proxy fight between Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, even though Gingrich never even mentioned Powell's name! What were they thinking?

Talk about working the refs. Here is Wallison's message: we should never hold administration officials accountable for past statements. We should never tell people how many soldiers have died since the occupation began. We should pretend we have no idea what the backstory was behind Gingrich's speech even though every sentient being in Washington knew perfectly well what it was all about. Broadly speaking, instead of "trivializing" the issues the press ought to spend its time broadcasting earnest think pieces that allow the administration to explain its policies in thoughtful and reverent tones without the distraction of actually being questioned about them.

The subtext here, as it is so often, is that the war in Iraq should be above criticism. The past is the past, and who cares if George Bush exaggerated the case for war a bit here and there? That's mere partisan nitpicking. In fact, opposition treatment of Bush should be so respectful and highminded that, really, we might as well all just join together in a wave of national unity and allow Bush to win reelection by acclamation next November.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Bush administration did such a miserable — and apparently misleading — job of convincing the world that Saddam Hussein was a menace is indeed a proper topic of criticism. Especially since it appears that he is sticking to exactly those same failed policies in postwar Iraq. If we couldn't trust him to give us the straight dope before the war, why should be trust him to give it to us now?

Asking questions of this decade's conservative president that are every bit as tough as the questions it asked of last decade's liberal president isn't a sign of a liberal media that hates George Bush. It's a sign of the media doing its job.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 04:04 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (13)

BLOGGERS ON TV....Charles Kuffner says he is "just some weblogger and not someone that anyone [has] ever heard of," and therefore unqualified to appear on Fox News to ridicule President Bush's monthlong vacation.

Not so, Chuck, not so! In fact, as a blogger you are actually more trendy and more quotable than a mere columnist for The Nation. I say, the next time you get this chance, take them up on it. Remember, at the very least this will give all your friends the chance to watch you on TV and laugh at you. Don't you owe them that?

Posted by Kevin Drum at 03:05 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (4)

LET LIEBERMAN BE LIEBERMAN....I agree with Matt Singer, Matt Yglesias and dKos: despite the rhetoric you sometimes hear from the activist lefty blogosphere, Joe Lieberman is not some fascist Republican sellout. He's more conservative than I'd like, and his preachiness can get grating at times, but when I've looked at both his voting record and his rating by various issues groups, he's clearly a moderate liberal. He's no Howard Dean, but he is a perfectly respectable Democrat, and — since this is easy to forget if you spend a lot of time in the blogosphere — he's also the Democrat with by far the best name recognition of all the candidates.

As Kos says, "Do you really want to turn Lieberman into a Jeffords? Stop with that shit, please. I don't particularly like the guy, but he's not a Republican. He's a solid Democrat." Good advice.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 09:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (2) | Comments (62)

August 01, 2003

MORE ON THE 28 PAGES....The contents of the 28 censored pages continues to leak in dribs and drabs:

The classified part of a Congressional report on the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, says that two Saudi citizens who had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials, according to people who have seen the report.

Saudi intelligence agents?

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:32 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (7)

THE WMD HUNT....Today we get a new theory about the missing WMD. First is from AP:

A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion.

The strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation....

Um, yeah, I guess it did.

According to the aide, by the mid-1990s "it was common knowledge among the leadership" that Iraq had destroyed its chemical stocks and discontinued development of biological and nuclear weapons.

But Saddam remained convinced that an ambiguous stance about the status of Iraq's weapons programs would deter an American attack.

"He repeatedly told me: 'These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong,'" the aide said.

And then, using very similar language, we have the New York Times:

There is a bold and entirely plausible theory that may account for the mystery over Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein, the theory holds, ordered the destruction of his weapon stocks well before the war to deprive the United States of a rationale to attack his regime and to hasten the eventual lifting of the United Nations sanctions. But the Iraqi dictator retained the scientists and technical capacity to resume the production of chemical and biological weapons and eventually develop nuclear arms.

This is obviously the theory of the day, and administration sources managed to get it published in two different mainstream outlets. Apparently we really have given up on finding WMD, and the ground is being prepared for a climbdown.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (3) | Comments (66)

DEAN HEADS TO TEXAS....I have to hand it to Howard Dean: he really knows how to get in George Bush's face. Last week he conducted a special fundraising blitz that raised half a million dollars for a "secret project," and today he revealed what it's for: he's using the money to head straight into the heart of Bush country and air a bunch of TV ads in Texas.

I don't know if this is smart or stupid, but I gotta admit it's audacious. I have my doubts about the guy as a candidate, but he definitely puts on a good show.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 04:38 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (74)

LOCKYER TO DAVIS: DROP DEAD....Boomshock passes along the titillating Golden State news that (Democratic) Attorney General Bill Lockyer has laid down the law to (Democratic) Governor Gray Davis:

"If they do the trashy campaign on Dick Riordan ... I think there are going to be prominent Democrats that will defect and just say, 'We're tired of that puke politics. Don't you dare do it again or we're just going to help pull the plug.'

"There is a growing list of prominent Democrats that, if that's how it evolves, are going to jump ship."

Asked if he'd be one of them, Lockyer, who has also come out against the recall, calling it "unfair to Gray Davis and bad for the state," said: "I don't know."

Let's see now: even with a trashy campaign Davis only barely beat neanderthal moron Bill Simon by about 5% in November. Against Riordan he might very well have lost.

So telling Davis to take the high road is tantamount to telling him to just shut up and lose like a man. That's my take, anyway.

Any other thoughts from my fellow soap opera loving California readers?

Posted by Kevin Drum at 04:20 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (35)

28 PAGES....Matt Yglesias draws our attention to a short article in The New Republic that says the censored 28 pages in the congressional 9/11 report are more explosive than even the most hawkish Saudi bashers think:

The section cites "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers," which most commentators have interpreted to mean Saudi contributions to Al Qaeda-linked charities. But an official who has read the report tells The New Republic that the support described in the report goes well beyond that: It involves connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family. "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities," says this official. "They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government."

....The official who read the 28 pages tells The New Republic, "If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to Al Qaeda, they would have been in good shape." He adds: "If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight."

A single source is only a single source, but even with the appropriate grains of salt this account sounds unfortunately plausible. After all, both Bush and the Saudis must know the first rule of PR, which is that if you say nothing then people will start making up stories even worse than the truth. The truth must be pretty bad if they're willing to risk breaking that rule.

Besides, how long can this stay secret? There are an awful lot of people who have seen the censored section, and all it takes is one person to leak a couple of the most inflammatory pages. Something's gotta give before long.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 03:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (26)

HEALTHCARE IN AMERICA....Here is today's lesson in how the healthcare system in America is broken. Your professor is South Knox Bubba, who illustrates the problem with examples from his very own personal life.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 12:59 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (14)

I'M DEGENERATING....Hmmm, it turns out I've got degenerative joints. One (well, hopefully only one) of the disks in my spine is deteriorating with age, which means my bones are bouncing into each other. Thus the pain.

This is a drag, and I have a feeling tennis may now be a thing of the past. We'll see. I get to do lots of fun back strengthening exercises for a while, and maybe that will improve things.

I realize that walking on two legs seemed like a good idea to some ancestor of ours a few million years ago, but they really weren't thinking things through when they made that decision. After all, you never see a cat with back problems, do you?

Posted by Kevin Drum at 12:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (47)

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING....The picture of Inkblot on the left is an old favorite that I've posted before, but a few weeks ago I managed to snap a matching picture of Jasmine and thought they really deserved to be displayed side by side. I'm not sure why, but they're both really fascinated by the wide angle lens on my camera.

Inkblot is happier this week since the dreaded banana juice has been used up and he is no longer suffering the indignity of having a medicine dropper shoved into his mouth twice a day. As for me, my X-ray a couple of weeks ago uncovered a slipped something or other, so I'm now off to suffer the indignity of physical therapy. In the meantime, Atrios is back from Europe and Eschaton is now all Atrios all the time. Go welcome him back.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:40 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (1) | Comments (30)

NORTH KOREA UPDATE....Some hopeful news on the North Korea front. Apparently the North Koreans have finally given in to U.S. demands that negotiations be multilateral, not bilateral:

North Korea appears to have accepted a plan to engage in multilateral talks over its nuclear weapons programs, clearing the way for the administration to formally provide its solution for ending the crisis, U.S. officials said yesterday.

....The prospect of new talks will require U.S. officials to settle on a strategy for persuading the North Koreans to give up their effort to produce nuclear weapons. The issue has deeply split the administration, with some officials urging an aggressive approach that offers North Korea few incentives to give up its weapons while others are pushing to offer a multilateral guarantee that North Korea, if it agrees to back down, will not face an unprovoked attack.

....One approach under consideration would promise North Korea that all the other nations at the table could jointly provide assurances of nonaggression, as the first stage of a larger discussion on future economic and political relations. North Korea has long demanded that the United States sign a nonaggression pact, but appearing to give in to that demand is opposed by some key members of the administration.

Another proposal, circulating among National Security Council staff members, would call on North Korea to take the first step in terms of declaring what weapon programs it has and then offering to eliminate them.

Some officials believe the administration should also dangle carrots, which could include energy assistance, development aid, participation in international financial institutions, removal of sanctions and normalization of relations. But those incentives would also be tied to specific progress by North Korea on other issues, such as human rights.

This is a positive step, even though multilateral negotiations are almost certain to be slower and more cumbersome than bilateral ones. Any talks are better than no talks.

This is also going to be a real showcase for differences between the administration's hawks and realists. In the end, however, I have to figure that if the realists can cut a halfway decent deal Bush will take it. Letting this crisis linger can only be bad news for him. paper writing

Posted by Kevin Drum at 10:37 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (25)