Saturday, January 24, 2004

Shorter Tom Friedman


If there were more liberal democracies, there would be more liberal democracies.

Blogs On the Media

You can listen to William of the Wilgoren Watch and Jay Rosen discuss the general "adopt a journalist idea" on On the Media.

Steve Gilliard, who is quite sick, gets a mention too.

That Jodi Wilgoren is one nasty piece of work. Wow.



Meanwhile, a week after President Bush's State of the Union address, his approval rating has fallen to 50 percent from 54 percent in the last Newsweek Poll (1/8-9/04). Yet, a 52-percent majority of registered voters says it would not like to see him re-elected to a second term. Only 44 percent say they would like to see him re-elected, a four-point drop from the last Newsweek Poll. (Of that, 37% strongly want to see him re-elected, and 47% strongly do not).

Will they ever stop calling him "popular?"


David Brooks needs to be a bit more careful with his re-writes.

...note, I don't think this qualifies as plagiarism under any reasonable definition but it's still quite sloppy.

Anatomy of a Goreing

Campaign Desk traces the coverage of Dean's speech.

Rarely is the Question Asked

Does Bush attend church every week? I remember in the early days, when he'd be at Camp David most weekends, they'd make a point of saying he attended church at the private chapel there. But lately? Is it like Reagan all over again, who the media dutifully provided with the aura of a churchgoer but who rarely attended?

Donor Demographics


Afternoon Yawp


Mean Dean to Flightsuit Boy: YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAGH

...and here's Dean's latest campaign ad.

...and here you can listen to Howard Dean teach us the names of the states. (right click and save, then rename to a .mp3 file).

(thanks to azizisbored)

More on WMDs

Following up this Calpundit post, I don't actually believe the administration believed that Iraq had any kind of WMDs which posed a real threat to the US or anyone else. I think they assumed Iraq would have something which could be used to justify that claim - some nasty chemicals, say. But, some nasty chemicals are far less of a "WMD" than our shock-and-awe (ah, remember all the media whore oohing and aahin over those. sick, really.) conventional bombs are.

As one of Kevin's commenters notes, "it was completely obvious the administration did not believe there were WMD as there was no plan to secure them (or anything else for that matter) and insufficient personnel to do so." This is correct. If they truly believed that something existed, and truly cared about the "war on terra," there would have been a bit more concern about such things either being used on then-Viceroy Garner's new digs, or falling into the hands of international terrorist organizations.

And, one final word on the whole "they never said it was imminent!" nonsense. When there is a country which has been explicitly the enemy of the US and one of our major allies for years, and when the Vice President says about the leader of that country "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us," I and every other rational person would conclude that there is indeed an imminent threat. I mean, what the hell kind of weapons of mass destruction are they if they a) exist, and b) are not a threat?

League of Conservation Voters

The idiot Whitfield on CNN just referred to this as a "conservative group."

Pass the bourbon.

The Kerry Strategy

Let me second what Big Media Matt says about Kerry's strategy to portray himself the candidate whose patriotism is unimpeachable. As he says, it may work in the primary but lord help us if he's the candidate and he truly believes that it's actually true.

My rule for this election - no candidate, by virtue of their resume, is immune from any kind of attack. Any campaign which clings to this fantasy is doomed.

With 5 seconds of thought I can think of about a half-dozen ways which Kerry is easily vulnerable along these lines - in some ways, perhaps, even more than the other candidates.

...Just to clarify, I wasn't making an argument that Kerry is therefore "less electable," just trying to get the point across that in this up-is-down world with a pliant RNC/Drudge talking point-repeating SCLM, even a candidate's "strengths" can easily be turned against him. That isn't to say that different candidates don't have genuine strengths, and of course they will and should try and use them, but no one should be fooled into thinking that they've been given an immunity card against anything based on those perceived strengths. A smart Kerry campaign will have already considered how to overturn the various smears I've anticipated, a dumb Kerry campaign will just assume that they can't happen. I'm not saying the Kerry campaign is dumb - this whole post was premised on "IF..."

War Profiteers

Southern Exposure has some interesting stuff about what's going on in Iraq.


Even Kay is out. Anyway, there are many things one could say about this but I'd just like to say that this is yet another indictment of our media.

Let's grant everyone the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Let's suppose the Bush administration truly believed their own rhetoric. Let's suppose they were operating on good intelligence and, though they were a bit selective in their reading, they were true believers. Fine.

But, at the time, there were also plenty of reasonable people running around saying that this whole WMD stuff was nonsense. Remember how they were treated by our media? They were treated like escapees from an insane asylum who needed to up their Thorazine dose. Remember how radical and controversial it was to even suggest such a thing?

How embarassing for them all, if they could feel such emotions.


August J. Pollak suggests some things the candidates can do in order to be deemed presidential by our press corps.

read it while having your Morning Yawp.

Friday, January 23, 2004


skippy reports on a little episode on CNN today where a bunch of journalists sat around perplexed about W's AWOL issue. Apparently none of them had ever bothered to look into the story. It's all so complicated, you, see, and, I mean, my gosh, it wasn't as if this came up when the guy was running for president or anything...


It's All About Me

Howard Fineman gives us a glimpse inside his mind. It really really isn't pretty. In fact, just writing that paragraph should be enough to get him booted out of his job.

Shocking Photo Discovered

Wonkette has found a shocking photo of Howard Dean.

(darn broadband was down all afternoon)

A Yawping Good Time

They're all here. Post your favorites.

Help Bill Press

Over at the DNC blog, Bill Press is asking people to help him write his next book. Don't worry, it isn't a Rich Lowry-type "do my homework for me" request.

Afternoon Yawp

Welcome to the Jungle Baby!

Conspiracy Theories

Jesse makes the point that not all conspiracy theories are created equal.

No Deal for Rusty

Prosecution says they have evidence supporting 10 felony counts. Time for the arrest and perp walk!

Silly Sully

For some reason a hundred thousand people marching with a few unreconstructed Stalinists is bad, but working for an advocate of gay genocide is good. Whatever.

Duel in the Moon-light

One unambiguously gay duo President Bush doesn't have to worry about getting married any time soon is conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan and left-leaning commentator Michelangelo Signorile.

Signorile has denounced Sullivan for writing for the Washington Times, whose owner, cult-leader Sun Myung Moon, makes no secret of his hatred for gays.

The main Moonie has called gays "less than animals," and believes God will purge them from the earth.

Signorile asked in the New York Press: "How on earth could a gay writer take a check from a man who can't wait to see him thrown into an oven?"

But Sullivan has hit back, saying the Washington Times never censors him.

He told us: "Moon's views are horrifying, but ... I champion gay rights and equality in a paper where they are usually unmentionable," adding, "When you're a tiny minority, purism isn't an option."

The Morning Yawp

Start your day off with Howard Dean singing Crazy Train.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Inverse Judo Flip

Dean on Letterman.

Plame Grand Jury

Apparently it exists.


So, whatshername on ABC is grilling Howard and Judy Dean about the fact that Judy isn't attached to Howard on the campaign trail. Aside from all the obvious sillyness of these questions - are the Mrs. Edwards, Kerrys, Liebermans, and Clarks on the permanent campaign? Have they really been that much more visible than Mrs. Dean?

Summary Judgment

The debate is still going on NH, I believe, but Fox has cut. So here's my take - just + , neutral, or minus without commentary.

I'm going to do this two ways. First, my judgments. Second the judgment of the hypothetical mind of the average New Hampshire voter which I claim to know. The latter, of course, is pure speculation. And both depend on the baseline judgments.

My personal judgments - how I thought they did personally, if I were the voter they were trying to convince:

Lieberman - neutral
Kerry - minus
Edwards - plus
Dean - neutral
Sharpton - minus
Kucinich - neutral
Clark - plus

My fake mindreading:

Lieberman - ?
Kerry - minus
Edwards - neutral
Dean - plus
Sharpton - minus
Kucinich - minus
Clark - neutral

Atrios Live!

It looks like I'll be on the radio...

Debate Thread

Nice job so far Fox. Jeebus.

Anyway, I thought about doing a play by pay but perhaps it'd be best if I keep my mouth shut.

...the Pandagon twins are taking care of it... as is the California Kid.
I'll give my final judgment when it's over. This is actually the first one I've watched any significant part of, I think. feed here (thanks to Dom Suzanne).

You know, there really is nothing more disgusting than Brit "I love my dead gay son" Hume getting all indignant about gay rights issues.


Nothing could be more presidential than this.

Cheney Pushes "Inaccurate" Leaked Classified Document

In an interview this month, Vice President Dick Cheney touted a report and leaked classified document that the Administration itself has billed "inaccuarate" as the basis for his Iraq-Al Qaeda claims.

Specifically, when questioned about his tenuous Saddam-Al Qaeda claims, Cheney said "you ought to go look is an article that Stephen Hayes did in the Weekly Standard here a few weeks ago, that goes through and lays out in some detail, based on an assessment that was done by the Department of Defense and forwarded to the Senate Intelligence Committee some weeks ago. That's your best source of information."

Yet, the article and document Cheney is referring reporters to was discredited by the Administration as "inaccurate" weeks ago. Additionally, the Administration criticized the leak saying "Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal." Now, though, Cheney is actively trumpeting the "inaccurate" document as the basis for his unsubstantiated claims.

For the transcript of Cheney's interview where he directs reporters to "inaccurate" and classified material see:

For the Administration's press release calling the article "inaccurate" and condemning the leak see:

(courtesy CAP)

Political Appointees Running things at Justice

This is getting fucking ridiculous:

The Justice Department has formally refused a demand from Texas Democrats to release a lengthy internal memo about a Republican redistricting plan that experts believe could produce a GOP gain of as many as seven House seats in that state later this year, according to documents and officials.

The Democrats' lead attorney, J. Gerald Hebert of Alexandria, responded with an appeal to the Justice Department yesterday, alleging that career attorneys had recommended an objection to the redistricting plan, but were overruled by political appointees. Democrats argue that the Texas map violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it eliminates two districts in which minorities make up a majority of the voters.

"Clearly the Department of Justice is stonewalling this request to avoid the embarrassment that will surely ensue when the memorandum is made public," Hebert wrote in his appeal, which was filed with the department's Office of Information and Privacy. "Unfortunately, the political appointees of the Justice Department appear committed to dismantling the Voting Rights Act. They are hiding this report, because it will make their intentions clear."

Complete contempt for the Civil Rights movement. Bigoted assholed bastard fuckheads.


Poll no longer operative:

When the American Family Association posted an online poll last month asking its constituents their position on gay marriage, it thought it was engaging in a straightforward exercise.

The conservative organization supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, and it planned to forward to Congress the results of the poll, which it expected would support its position, as evidence of Americans' opposition to gay marriage.

But the AFA never counted on the power of the Internet. And once the URL to the poll escaped its intended audience, everything went haywire. As of Jan. 19, 60 percent of respondents -- more than 508,000 voters -- said, "I favor legalization of homosexual marriage." With an additional 7.89 percent -- or 66,732 voters -- replying, "I favor a 'civil union' with the full benefits of marriage except for the name," the AFA's chosen position, "I oppose legalization of homosexual marriage and 'civil unions,'" was being defeated by a 2-1 ratio.

"We're very concerned that the traditional state of marriage is under threat in our country by homosexual activists," said AFA representative Buddy Smith. "It just so happens that homosexual activist groups around the country got a hold of the poll -- it was forwarded to them -- and they decided to have a little fun, and turn their organizations around the country (onto) the poll to try to cause it to represent something other than what we wanted it to. And so far, they succeeded with that."

Of course, no such poll can be said to represent an accurate picture of popular opinion. But, clearly, the AFA had hoped Congress would take the numbers it planned to produce as exactly that kind of evidence.

Now, Smith says, his organization has had to abandon its goal of taking the poll to Capitol Hill.

"We made the decision early on not to do that," Smith admitted, "because of how, as I say, the homosexual activists around the country have done their number on it."

Don't forget plenty of straight activists, too.

Peggy Drew Noonan and the Case of the Missing Papal Quote

Ha Ha Ha.

Someone start paying this woman, soon.

Political Hate Speech

I have no idea what that is, but it sounds like Trent Lott is engaging in it.

Regarding Drudge's Latest Fake Scoop

I doubt you could find a single Democrat who didn't, at one time, toy with some private investment plan as a part of Social Security, myself included. We've fortunately mostly all woken up from that bad dream. But, as with most things, what matters is where Edwards is now on the whole nonsense. If he's your guy, ignore Drudge. he has the details. Still a dumb idea, but nothing to do with what the Bushies are proposing. At the time remember there were genuine concerns about what to do with surplus SS money once the government no longer needed to issue T-Bills for new debt. Haha, remember those silly days?

The Morning Yawp

Just a great way to start the day.

Liar Liar

Kevin Drum wrote the post that I've been meaning to write, which is that if Bush carries through with his stated budget promises, which include the Medicare bill already passed, holding spending to 4% per year, and making the tax cuts "permanent," the only way he can come close to "cutting the deficit in half in 5 years" is if Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros all donate the bulk of their fortunest to the federal government. At best, without AMT reform, the deficit will be cut from $480 to $440 billion dollars.

Kevin's analysis also ignores likely increased Iraq expenditures and various assorted tax giveaways Bush may propose.

Bigger Than the Watergate Break-In

This really is absolutely incredible, and the goddamn media is just sleeping. Imagine if Democrats had done this. Really - just try.

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.

With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics and the US Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120 people to date and seized more than half a dozen computers -- including four Judiciary servers, one server from the office of Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and several desktop hard drives.

But the scope of both the intrusions and the likely disclosures is now known to have been far more extensive than the November incident, staffers and others familiar with the investigation say.

The revelation comes as the battle of judicial nominees is reaching a new level of intensity. Last week, President Bush used his recess power to appoint Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, bypassing a Democratic filibuster that blocked a vote on his nomination for a year because of concerns over his civil rights record.

Democrats now claim their private memos formed the basis for a February 2003 column by conservative pundit Robert Novak that revealed plans pushed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to filibuster certain judicial nominees. Novak is also at the center of an investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA agent whose husband contradicted a Bush administration claim about Iraqi nuclear programs.

Citing "internal Senate sources," Novak's column described closed-door Democratic meetings about how to handle nominees.

Its details and direct quotes from Democrats -- characterizing former nominee Miguel Estrada as a "stealth right-wing zealot" and describing the GOP agenda as an "assembly line" for right-wing nominees -- are contained in talking points and meeting accounts from the Democratic files now known to have been compromised.

Novak declined to confirm or deny whether his column was based on these files.

"They're welcome to think anything they want," he said. "As has been demonstrated, I don't reveal my sources."

Oh, but you do Bob, remember Robert Hanssen?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Jeff Gerth Still Has a Job

Eric Boehlert reminds us of all that Wen Ho Lee crap.

What We're Up Against

You know, I've read a lot of crazy shit in freeperville and elsewhere, but this email to Margaret Cho is truly a work of art.

Get Thee to Sundance

The Hunting of the President movie is finally having its premier.

Losing His Religion

It really is odd watching Lou Dobbs lose his religion. He's flailing around looking for a new one and he's mighty confused.

Seventy-six percent of consumers who look for U.S.-made products say that they have a hard time finding them, and the reason for this is simple: We've given away our manufacturing base through "free" trade. In 1951, the average U.S. trade tariff was approximately 15 percent. By 1979 the average industrial tariff had sunk to 5.7 percent, and now it is just under 3 percent. Most foreign importers enjoy nearly unrestricted access to the U.S. marketplace. As a result, Americans have become the world's greatest customers, with the country accumulating a trade deficit every year since 1976.


Amazingly, last week Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan referred to our record-high trade deficits as "seemingly uneventful." I assume Greenspan has heard of the boiling frog analogy, in which as the temperature rises to near boiling, all is seemingly uneventful for the ill-fated frog. But the Fed chairman evidently has no problem proclaiming the dangers of what he calls "clouds of emerging protectionism," apparently referring to a number of calls by members of Congress for this country to conduct fair trade and balanced trade. Those calls so concerned Greenspan that he said, "The costs of any new protectionist initiatives . . . could significantly erode the flexibility of the global economy."

Joining those members of Congress are Democratic presidential candidates: Reps. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Trade has hardly become a central issue on the campaign trails, up to this point. But I suspect it is about to. America can no longer afford the price of "free" trade.

I'm basically a "free trader," but it's time we stop pretending it's that simple.

Plagiarism in the SOTU

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Detroit News, 10/20/2003

The group's report uncovers dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.

Bush, last night:

Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.

Probably the white house PR gnomes wrote Hoekstra's op-ed for him, too.

(thanks to reader pd)

Not Nit Picklering

USA Today provides context to Bush's speech in a fair way.

Barbaric Yawp

Haha. Max brings us a little poem.

Listen to Dean in all his funky glory.

I agree. Play this at every campaign appearance.

By the Rules

Given the way our immigration system works, it is impossible to be 100% certain that you are indeed following the rules. I've had friends who were literally told two completely opposite things by different immigration officials about what they were supposed to do. I've known people whose US employers also gave them false information about their obligations which could have been catastrophic had the advice been followed. And, these days, any screwup can get you whisked out of the country. Note that this isn't just about the rights of foreigners to not have to deal with Calvinball justice - it's also about citizens' rights to marry whoever the hell they want to.

A German woman married to a Brooklyn schoolteacher had been told that she had all her papers in order when she took a quick trip to show off her infant daughter to her parents in Germany.

But her return home in late December turned surreal and terrifying when Homeland Security officials at Kennedy Airport rejected her travel documents, confiscated her passport, then detained her and the 3-month-old overnight in a room with shackled drug suspects. They let her go only after ordering her to leave the country no later than tomorrow.

After a month of desperate efforts by her American husband, their lawyers and legislators, late yesterday a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department said that the woman, Antje Croton, 36, would be granted a last-minute reprieve. But Mrs. Croton said she had received no written notification. "I'm in a nightmare," she said as she packed yesterday afternoon, having abandoned hope of straightening out the problem. "I feel like I'm in the wrong movie."


Mrs. Croton has lived in Park Slope for five years, and her application for a green card has been pending for nearly two. When her sister urged her to visit Germany, she wanted to take no chances. So in October, she said, she asked immigration officials at 26 Federal Plaza about getting a new travel permit.

According to her account, an immigration official, C. E. Herndandez, insisted that her old permit was still valid, though it had a July expiration date, because it bore a stamp saying "April 2004." Reassured, Mrs. Croton departed on Dec. 9. "I did everything by the rules," Mrs. Croton said.

But on Dec. 22, when she returned to Kennedy Airport at 9 p.m., exhausted after a 10-hour trip alone with her baby daughter, Clara, front-line border security officers barred her way. They said the immigration official had been wrong: the July 2003 expiration, not the April 2004 stamp, applied, and she could not enter the United States.

They interrogated her until 2 a.m., she said, as she wept, tried to nurse her baby and pleaded with officials to call her husband, who was waiting without word in the terminal.

You shall know them...

... by their favorite music.

An Associated Press canvass of the candidates on what album they'd most like to pop into their CD players turns up gospel, opera, hip-hop, country and rock.

The rock fans are Wesley Clark, who likes Journey's "Greatest Hits"; Sen. John Edwards, "The Essential Bruce Springsteen"; and Sen. John Kerry, the Beatles' "Abbey Road."

Howard Dean singled out the music of Grammy-winning hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean. Rep. Dennis Kucinich chose country's Willie Nelson (who has endorsed him), and Al Sharpton favored gospel's Yolanda Adams. Sen. Joe Lieberman's favorite album is "Sueno," by classical Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

Faith Based Bull

Even I could be persuaded (on principle, at least), that government funding for religious social programs, such as drug treatment, could be okay as long as the program participants had a variety of options - both secular and from other religious perspectives - that received roughly equal support. But, here we have a perfect example of a situation where this is not the case:

Most inmates at Iowa's Newton Correctional Facility live three to a cell and have no privacy, even when they use the toilet. But if they agree to immerse themselves in Bible study and "the transforming love of Jesus Christ," according to two lawsuits filed yesterday, they are given keys to their cell doors, private bathrooms, free phone calls -- even access to big-screen TVs.

The lawsuits, filed by the Washington-based advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, challenge the constitutionality of a prison ministry program that President Bush has promoted as a model for his effort to allow religious groups to compete for public funds to provide social services.


InnerChange runs programs that combine Bible study with job training at prisons in Iowa, Texas, Minnesota and Kansas. The lawsuits challenge only the Iowa program. But experts said a ruling against the program could lead to similar challenges in the other states, an appeal to the Supreme Court or both.

To ensure its legal standing to sue, Americans United filed one lawsuit on behalf of Jerry D. Ashburn, 44, who is serving a life sentence for murder, and the second on behalf of families of three other inmates.

According to the suits, about 200 Iowa prisoners pray and memorize Bible verses under the guidance of Christian staff in prison rooms lined with displays of scripture passages. In return, they live in an "honor" unit where they are housed two to a cell, permitted to leave their cells at night and granted many other privileges.

The program is funded, in part, with revenue from phone charges on the general inmate population. Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said, "No state dollars, including telephone monies, are used in the religious component of the program." But the lawsuits contend that it is impossible to separate the religious and secular portions of a program that describes itself as "Christ-centered" 24 hours a day.

The suits also say the privileges given to InnerChange participants amount to incentives to convert to fundamentalist Christianity.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA who generally takes a supportive view of faith-based programs, said that if the courts accept the description of the program in the lawsuits, it is likely to be struck down. Even setting aside the issue of state funding, he said, "the offer of various benefits that are unavailable to others is an indirect form of coercion that is clearly impermissible."

In practice, I don't think conditions can be met such that government intervention in religion in this way isn't more harmful than good. In any case, this situation doesn't even come close to being "okay."

How Low They've Sunk

This story about NBC promising to not run a critical investigation piece of Jackson in exchange for an interview should be unbelievable, but we should stop pretending that this isn't simply the way things work now.


I guess that idea is no longer operable.

Privatizing Social Security

Just imagine when there's trillions more to be looted:

Deep down, Michael O'Hara knew the huge profits at Financial Advisory Consultants Inc. "were just too good to be true."

So when his 70th birthday rolled around in 2000, and he had to start drawing down his individual retirement accounts, he hedged his bets by taking out more money than required by law.

O'Hara, a prosperous insurance agent from Placentia, regarded the $106,000 he had deposited in the 1990s in an FAC investment fund as "Vegas money." And with the fund reporting annual returns of nearly 40%, O'Hara seemed to have hit the jackpot: Late last year, even after he had withdrawn $123,000, his FAC account balance was $700,000.

Then FAC crapped out. Two days before Christmas, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the Lake Forest company and its owner, James P. Lewis Jr., with operating an elaborate, 20-year fraud.

An FBI raid of FAC's office on El Toro Road turned up assets worth a bit more than 1% of the $813.9 million that Lewis' clients supposedly had accumulated. Lewis, known to his family, friends and clients as an investment genius, was nowhere to be found. As of late Friday, he was being sought by the FBI.

But this paragraph is just silly:

Among the cruel twists of the FAC debacle is that so many investors, like O'Hara, were gambling with their retirement funds. Many lost virtually everything. According to SEC filings and attorneys involved in the case, the victims include Lewis' computer technician, who mortgaged his house to invest with FAC, and the mother of Lewis' live-in companion, who handed over her entire $250,000 in retirement savings.

All investment is "gambling with retirement funds." All of it. Some has greater risk, some less, but all of it is gambling. These were to a great degree IRA accounts.

SOTU Gets Nit Pickled By Woodward

You know, this style is just awful. Really horrible. If something's dishonest, call it dishonest. If something requires more context, provide more context. But all lack of context deemed appropriate by the journalist does not imply an intent to deceive. This sort of point/counterpoint style is not the appropriate way to write an analysis piece of this type.

Nagourney on Rose

I'm sitting here watching Adam Nagourney communicate the views of his invisible friends. As we know, the plural of anecdote is data, but poor Adam has only one. Good enough for the NYT!

Journalism in the 21st century - A Boat Load of Crap.

CNN Poll


Tuesday, January 20, 2004


This has to be a joke:

[T]he Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities...

There are days I think they're just laughing at us. Well, most days.

On CNN Tonight

(thanks to ns)

Dear Andrew

Your hero said this tonight:

On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our Nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.



Seriously, I heard Crazy Andy on NPR the other day. He truly believes that if Bush pushes the FMA - which of course he is - that a million strong right wing gays will rise up and change the face of american politics forever. What a weird world he lives in.

Nit Picklering

Big Media Matt comments on the latest journalistic standard for truth-telling by Democrats in The American Prospect.

P.S. I actually have no idea if I devised "Nit Picklering" or if I borrowed it from someone in comments. Feel free to take credit!

SOTU Thread

I won't watch. Doctor's orders. But snark away...

Chivalry and Anger Management

Compare and Contrast:


Q: You've mentioned that you don't give him advice on politics or policy because it's not really where your interest is. Are there any issues that you feel passionate about that you do weigh in on — whether it's the environment or health care or any policy things at all?
Judy: I have my opinions on health care from my point of view, and he probably knows what they are because we talk about them. But it's not really giving advice. So I would say no, I don't really give advice.
Howard: Judy sort of functions as my Person-in-the-Street. The best kind of advice she gives me is, "You look like an idiot on television." She wouldn't say it that way, but, "You didn't do very well on television"' I'll never forget the first time we went to a speech that I was giving on a subject I knew not much about. And on the way home, I said, "Well, how did you think I did?" and she said, "Fair to poor, with the emphasis on poor," which, I had to admit, was probably exactly right.


Things were not always so smooth. For much of her life, Laura Welch was ''so uninterested in politics.'' Even though they lived for a time at different ends of the same apartment complex, she turned down a couple of suggested dates with George W. Bush. Finally, she attended a back-yard barbecue thrown by mutual friends. He made her laugh. He was a great talker. She was a great listener. Both in their 30s, they married three months after their first date. There was no honeymoon. They hit his congressional campaign trail the day after the wedding.

After a few speeches, he asked her - coming up the driveway on the way home from one - how his delivery was going over. Terrible, said the forthright wife. George W. drove his Pontiac Bonneville right into the garage wall.

Greg Mankiw Flashback

There seems to be a neverending parade of economists willing to trash their reputations by carrying water for this administration. Comrade Max brings us a little ditty Mankiw sang back in the dark days of 1998.

No one in Washington seems to worry about budget deficits anymore--no one, that is, except the Congressional Budget Office. Its recent study Long-Term Budgetary Pressures and Policy Options describes the economic future our children and grandchildren are likely to face. The report is written in the CBO's dryasdust style, but for anyone with a tolerance for numbers and an interest in policy, it is as scary as a Stephen King novel. . . .

What does it take to solve the problem? The CBO estimates that the federal government could fix this whole mess by immediately and permanently reducing spending or raising taxes by 8%.

Frightening though that solution is, what's even worse is the probability that no one will act on it. . .

SOTU Speech Over

I guess I missed it.

WASHINGTON Jan. 20 — President Bush, wrapping the themes of his re-election campaign in an upbeat State of the Union address, said Tuesday night that America is still a nation at war and must not "falter and leave our work unfinished."
Bush said he was optimistic about the reviving economy and urged Congress to take steps to make sure the recovery lasts. "We must respond by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy," the president said.


The government has been using Census Data in its little airline data project.

What the fuck.

UPDATE: It appears that they may have used the publicly available Public Use Microsample (PUMS). If so, no foul.

Delegate Count

Lost in much of the Iowa discussion was how many delegates each candidate actually picked up. Kerry picked up 20, Edwards picked up 18, and Dean picked up 8.

Dean's still winning the delegate count, given commitments by super delegates, but those can of course change.

Union Blogging

Welcome the SEIU to the blogosphere.

Trent Lott Then and Now

Courtesy of the Center for American Progress:


"Any appointment of a federal judge during a recess should be opposed."

- Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) opposing the appointment of an African American judge, December 2000


"Judge Pickering's record deems this recess appointment fully appropriate."

- Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), 1/17/04


Caucus and the Dollar

It looks like the currency markets didn't like the results in Iowa.*

*That's a joke by the way, I'm not suggesting there's any connection. Just apeing the business news spin.


Just go read this World O'Crap post.

Hell, Jack Shafer? This is a Rewrite.

Jack Shafer reprimands Howie Kurtz for not emphasizing in his recent story that it was mostly Democrats that journalists were giving money to. But, if I were an editor and I had Jack Shafer's story I'd have made Jack point something else out to his readers.

As Shafer himself notes, Kurtz claims to have found over 100 examples by looking through FEC records. There's no way to know if this is an exhuastive list or not. Then, Howard only lists 28 examples out of 100, so there's no way to know if this is a representative sample of the people he found.

That's the real story - Kurtz and Shafer are hacks. It could be that Kurtz busted more people giving to Democrats than Republicans, and that was clearly what he was trying to imply with his article, but he didn't actually bother to share enough information with us.

...Another interesting point Kurtz could have made is that while he lists plenty of people who gave to the Bradley campaign, there isn't a single person listed who gave money to Gore. Now there's a story!

Howie "Conflict of Interest" Kurtz

Howie never met a conflict of interest he couldn't explain away or ignore.

Monday, January 19, 2004


Lost in the shuffle today was the fact that the flagship "liberal" newspaper chose to honor MLK, jr. day by running an opinion piece defending Ronald "welfare queen" Reagan's record on race.

Ronald Regan, who at the urging of Trent Lott, gave his first campaign speech, emphasizing "states' rights," in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where 3 civil rights workers were murdered in the 60s.

Liberal media my fat white ass.

Congrats to Kerry

Well, I was one of the last to declare the Kerry candidacy DOA, but at some point I did. Silly me.

Initial thoughts (though, ignore my predictions as they're invariably wrong) - it hurts Clark far more than it hurts Dean. But, obviously, this puts the Big Media Matt Dean Inevitability Meme to its strongest test.

... kudos to Gephardt for dropping out. And, hey, kudos to Gephardt for defying the CW of people like me and managing to be a credible candidate.

Pretty Unbelievable

So, the media spent years flagellating themselves for calling Florida 15 minute before the polls closed in the panhandle, and they're now releasing perfectly meaningless poll numbers as the caucuses are actually happening. To the extent that such things could have any effect on the proceedings, they'd be much more likely to have an impact on the caucuses than a normal election.


...Des Moines Register has actual numbers, for which the above also would apply. Again, I don't really have a problem with it, I'm just annoyed by the hypocrisy.

The October Surprise

Orcinus tells us about some interesting things in Kevin Phillips' new book:

Some of you may even recall the story. Its basic outline went like this: In the runup to the 1980 election between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, it became clear that the outcome largely hinged on the release of the 52 Americans who had been held hostage by Iran since November 1979. If Carter was able to obtain their freedom, he was likely to win re-election. If he failed, it was nearly certain Reagan would win. As you may recall, the latter was what happened. The hostages were freed on the day of Reagan's inauguration. Later it emerged that a cadre of Reagan campaign officials -- led by former CIA chief William Casey, who was the campaign manager -- may have actually negotiated with Iran behind the scenes to ensure precisely this outcome. There were even indications they may have been involved in sabotaging the attempted rescue of the hostages.

The story gained real traction in the early 1990s when a former Carter intelligence official named Gary Sick released a book detailing the plot. It was promptly pooh-poohed by articles in Newsweek and The New Republic, and a brief House investigation came up dry. Afterward, anyone who even suggested they thought the scenario had any credibility was dismissed as a loony conspiracy theorist. Even the respected AP reporter Robert Parry found himself a journalistic pariah for his dogged pursuit of the story; you can find the results of much of his work at his marvelous Web site Consortium News.

Phillips not only resurrects the story, he examines the evidence and finds that it is almost certainly substantial, despite the all-too-eager earlier dismissals of its substance. More to the point, he compiles a wealth of subsequent evidence, most of it having emerged since 1992, pointing to his conclusion that "Bill Casey -- a born schemer and true buccaneer -- and his associates probably were involved in machinations akin to those Sick alleged." This evidence includes intelligence material from the French, the Soviet Union, Israel and Iran, as well as material that has been ignored by the House investigators.

All of this ties in with Phillips' theses that the October Surprise was a precursor to Iran-Contra (in fact, he argues, the latter was actually a confirmation that the former had occurred) as well as Iraqgate -- the consequences of which, he ably demonstrates, have come home to roost in the current war in Iraq.

And the grownups are still in charge.

Facts Mean Nothing

It doesn't matter how many times a smear is debunked. The whores will keep repeating it. This performance is unbelievable:

BLITZER: Well, Jim, on the Wesley Clark issue, you know, a four- star supreme allied commander of NATO, how much do you worry about a debate between Wesley Clark and President Bush?

JIM DYKE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Well, the first thing you have to do is win the primary, obviously.

And what we've seen in the last week is sort of a shifting in General Clark's positions. He was for the war. He testified in front of Congress and, in fact, gave very compelling testimony, which this week he suggested we took parts of. So maybe it'd be a good idea if we put the whole transcript of the testimony up. We don't want to misrepresent him.

But I think anybody who reads that would have trouble pulling from that a compelling case against the war.

BLITZER: Has Wesley Clark, Donna, gotten a free ride so far? Have people not scrutinized his words as closely as, shall we say, Howard Dean?


BLITZER: Let me let Carlos weigh in on the General Clark phenomenon.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLIITAL ANALYST: Well, I want to say several things.

One, I think what Jim and the RNC have done is brilliant. I mean, they've...

DYKE: Thank you, Carlos.

WATSON: ... inserted themselves in the Democratic campaign very early. They ran -- or, they didn't run, but the Club for Growth ran an ad here in Iowa which was part of what ultimately stemmed some of Howard Dean's momentum here.

And again, part of the reason why they're weighing in on Wesley Clark and on Howard Dean and on John Kerry is to weaken all of these candidates, because I think the RNC is smart enough to know this is still an evenly divided country, you know, the red states and the blue states. And Jim knows that Wesley Clark would be a formidable competitor. And Karl Rove has said as much.

BLITZER: Go ahead and respond, Jim.

DYKE: I think the reason we weigh in is almost as sort of a fact-check operation. I mean, if Wesley Clark comes out and says he opposed the war from the beginning and there is testimony of him moving in that direction, we think it's worth pointing out. We think it's worth pointing out when candidates take positions that are in direct contrary to fact.

There you are - the SCLM reports lies and praises the liars.


ConWebWatch brings us dozens of Nazi comparisons by the "outraged" right wing press.

Secret White House Press Memo Leaked

Now we know how it's done.

SOTU Donation Game

SK Bubba suggests a replacement for the SOTU drinking game.

The First Step

Economists for Dean take a look at the NYT's public editor's response to critiques about their coverage of Dean. It is a bit of a whitewash, but it's a start.

Entrance Polling

If the goofy-ass networks actually use entrance polling data to predict a winner in Iowa...


There are many lasting legacies of MLK and the civil rights movement generally, but I think there's one which seems to get less attention than the others - the Voting Rights Act. Some parts of it are only as good as the attorney general who is enforcing it, but at the very least it began the process of ending a whole host of measures designed to prevent a sizeable portion of the populations of many states from voting.

1965 was less than 40 years ago, and at that time in much of the country African-Americans could not vote.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Iowa Predictions

1) Bob Graham
2) George Clooney

Well, they can't be any worse than my last predictions...

Ah, Philly, the city for which an empty hole, dug by the Disney Corporation on prime real estate, is a metaphor for so much...

Praise Jeebus for cheap gin.


Argh. If the refs are going to declare open season on QBs, they could at least let both teams know.

One Poll, Many Stories

Here's the lead of CBS's coverage of its CBS/NYT poll:

Poll: Bush's Approval Sinking

Jan. 17, 2004

Overall, most Americans say things in the country are worse now than they were five years ago. Fifty-seven percent say things are worse, while 21% say they're better.

(CBS) After rising in public support following the capture of Saddam Hussein, the President gives his State of the Union message next week with a decidedly less positive audience. His approval rating of 50% matches his lowest approval ratings ever, and the largest number ever – 45% - disapprove.

Here's how even the genocide-advocating cult leader owned Moonie UPI reported it:

Times/CBS poll show Bush ratings down
NEW YORK, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Democratic voters held a 2 point edge over those who would vote for President Bush if the U.S. election were held now, a CBS/New York Times poll said.

The poll published Saturday found that 45 percent of voters said they would vote for a still unspecified Democratic candidate and 43 percent would vote for President Bush.

Late last month, the president held a 49 percent to 40 percent edge. The standing now is similar to what it was in November 2003, before the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Here's how even the liberal New York Times reported it:

Poll Bolsters Bush on Terrorism but Finds Doubts on Economy
President Bush begins his campaign year with Americans voicing strong support for his handling of the war against terrorism, but many doubting his economic and domestic policies, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Fewer than one in five people said their tax burden had been eased by Mr. Bush, who has made tax cuts the centerpiece of his economic program. His latest domestic initiatives, unveiled in the run-up to the State of the Union message on Tuesday, got only a lukewarm response, with 58 percent saying that building a permanent space station on the Moon was not worth the risks and costs.

Moreover, the support Mr. Bush gained after the capture of Saddam Hussein last month has largely dissipated. His overall approval rating now stands at 50 percent, comparable to President Bill Clinton's 47 percent in January 1996. Mr. Bush remains a polarizing figure in a sharply divided country, with 9 in 10 Republicans approving of his performance, and only 1 in 4 of the Democrats.

Despite those vulnerabilities, which the Democratic presidential candidates are busily trying to exploit, Mr. Bush retains a powerful advantage on national security. Sixty-eight percent, including majorities of both Democrats and independents, gave him high marks for the campaign against terrorism, and 68 percent said the Bush administration's policies have made the United States safer from terrorist attacks. Sixty-four percent said they considered him a strong leader.

Extending Copyright to Homonyms

You've got to be kidding.

VICTORIA - A Vancouver Island high school student who does Web site design part-time is locked in a legal battle with one of the biggest companies in the world.

Microsoft Corp. of Seattle, currently valued at $300 billion US, wants Mike Rowe to give up as his Internet domain name. The company claims copyright infringement of its name.

The Hard Number

Over at Kos there's an interesting inside like at what the campaign people are chatting about. The interesting question is whether there really are all these newly registered voters in Iowa. Hmmmm...

My Prediction

Worth the paper it's written on - Colts Patriots and Eagles win.

Mail Down

So, all those internet lottery winner notifications aren't getting through...

Reliable Sources Preview

Here's what Howie will tell us this week:

Is the press doing a good job and are they being fair? No, but it's always this way so that's okay.

This is what Howie tells us every week.

Iowa Results

Tomorrow's a busy day for me, so light posting and no caucus coverage, but you can get the results here in real time apparently.

Blogging and Campaign Coverage

I'm not one who usually talks about blogs in revolutionary terms, but I have to admit that in terms of covering the campaign on-the-ground and actually providing a full picture of what it's like, they're succeeding where mainstream media has always failed. One can really get a pretty interesting narrative, or narratives, about what's going in Iowa from bloggers which I never see anywhere in the press. I don't think this is because a lot of the bloggers are "insiders" - working on the campaigns - I just think they're interested in telling the stories they see. Reporters could do this, but they don't.

The Dean site has set up Bloggerstorm (not all the bloggers are Dean supporters).

There's also the Blogging of the President.

Journalists and Money

Howard Kurtz is either stupid or deliberately deceptive, or both. Kurtz does an article about media people giving to campaigns. The subtext of the article is, of course, that it undercuts their objectivity or at least the perception of objectivity. He then goes on to list a bunch of people and who they gave to. It isn't an exhaustive or complete list, and there's no sense of whether or not it's representative in terms of who the recipients are.

Young Brownshirts of America

We'll be seeing more and more of this in the coming year.

Two political rallies turned into a brawl Saturday night in Des Moines.

A Democratic rally at Drake's Olmstead Center, urged young Iowans to get out and vote. It was targeted toward high school and college students. A group known for not voting. The rally featured comedian Janene Garafalo and classic rock star Joan Jett, but it got a surprise visit from some unwanted guests.

A group of college republicans at their Midwest caucus leadership conference heard about the rally and stormed in.

"There are seven of us who worked really hard at putting this conference together, said Jason Cole of the college republicans. "so, we met, discussed and majority ruled. We went down there."

What they didn't discuss is what to do if things get out of hand. One of the Bush supporters shoved Jett and she pushed back in anger. Ole said that was the decision of one person, and not at all representative of what the conference was trying to do.

I have no idea what the 4th paragraph means. Anyone?

...ahh. It seems they had their own little conference and were upset that the media was ignoring them. Um, guys, it's the weekend before the Iowa caucuses and your guy is running unopposed. Try to improve your timing a bit next time.'s some more from Needlenose.

Human Rights

Billmon gives us a recent presidential history.

Bye Bye Conrad Black

Sacked and sued.