I have time for a quick check-in. We’re in the midst of electrical work that turned out to be more of a safety issue than a mere upgrade. Renting a 1929 San Francisco house has its charms and its… nailbiters. In any case, power is on and off, and when it’s off, there’s no phone or DSL.

  • Do see this very moving Auschwitz memorial piece by Aharon Appelfeld.
  • I watched Bush’s hastily called press conference Monday. I saw him being surly, impatient, sarcastic, insulting, and irritable. Kathryn Jean Lopez, a conservative observer, apparently saw the same press conference and declared “wow, was he in a good mood. You almost get the impression he enjoys doing these now.” That was a good mood? It must be the thrill he gets from insulting people and making them beg for information. (Did you read the transcript of the whole thing? Did you see how often the president “chuckles”? Substitute “snickers” for “chuckles” and you’ll have a much more realistic picture of the event.)
  • And while we’re entertaining ourselves with word substitutions, check out Michael Berube’s version of the inaugural address.
  • Bill McKibben, at a conference on climate change, discovers the “state of the union” in a disturbing Powerpoint presentation. This is short and worth reading.
  • Douglas Feith has resigned (via Atrios) “for personal and family reasons” which probably include – as Juan Cole points out – a worrisome FBI investigation.
  • Another conservative commentator being paid to promote Bush policies… That’s three, that we know of?
  • Infuriating: why the US media dismissed the Lancet study of 100,000 Iraqi civilian dead. If you have time, link through to the longer Chronicle of Higher Education story.
  • Molly Ivins’ reflections on Bush’s inaugural address:

    …Unfortunately, the rest of the world is skeptical of Bush’s benign intent, mostly because he invaded a country that not only hadn’t done anything to us, but also was no threat to us. (There is a new line on the right that goes, “But everybody in the whole world was saying Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” Actually, everybody wasn’t. Hans Blix and the U.N. inspectors had been unable to find any, even though we claimed we knew exactly where they were and had pictures of them. Quite a few people were beginning to doubt the existence of WMD, and what “everybody in the world” was saying at the time we went to war was, “Give the inspectors more time.” In retrospect, it was quite good advice, wasn’t it?)

    At other points in the speech, one was left wondering, as one so often is, about Bush’s grip on reality. Talking about his “ownership society,” he said, “By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.”

    He’s delusional: He cannot possibly believe his tax cuts are making this country more just and equal — they are making it more unjust and unequal every day, not to mention getting us ever deeper into debt. One does not provide “freedom from want and fear” by privatizing Social Security. We’ve been there, we’ve done this — we tried unregulated capitalism at the end of the 19th century, and it was awful.

    She also nails it on the ridiculous language war the administration is waging on “privatization.” It’s particularly amusing to watch this play out, because the press has been so completely obliging to the administration – carefully refraining from using the words “privatization” or “private accounts” – when Bush himself can’t remember his rule.

  • Of course Rice was confirmed, but some Democrats (and Jim Jeffords) exhibited integrity.
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