Saturday, June 05, 2004

Open Thread

Chat away.

...what Digby says.

... some contrarian views.

Moon vs. Soros

Gorenfeld has a useful chart. Perhaps Judy Woodruff and CNN correspondent Ed Henry should take a look at it. From Henry's report, in which he recycles York's and Gillespie's smear:

HENRY: Soros also equated the Iraqi prisoner abuse to the 9/11 attacks. Republican party chairman Ed Gillespie blasted Soros for making that connection and made it clear that if Democrats take the billionaire's money, they'll have to answer for his opinions.

Apparently Mr. Henry also hates everything America stands for.

(chart via the Poor Man)

Neal Boortz Meltdown

Air America Radio has posted up the audio clip of Boortz on Franken on their website.

This is Not What This Country Stands For

It's sad that people like Byron York, who appear to hate everything American stands for, are increasingly coming to dominate our discourse.

Unless of course you believe that America stands for orchestrating dishonest smear campaigns against holocaust survivors who have devoted substantial time and money to promoting Democracy, in which case Byron York is your man.

Follow the Bouncing Smear

Leah tracks the anti-Soros campaign from the bowels of the liars at NRO to Ed Gillespie to the mainstream media.


Apparently, Chalabi "single-handedly" brought us into war. According to NPR anyway. What magical powers he must have had.

If only he hadn't used his mind control powers over the government and the media! If only!

Screw you NPR.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Why Does the Pope Hate America?

I think Bill O'Reilly should get to the bottom of that question.


Media Matters takes a look at the attacks on Soros last night on Hannity's show. It's just amazing. A comment by Tony Blankley:

He was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the holocaust.

We all know what Tony means. If some anonymous person had posted something like that on an Indymedia site the entire press corps would demand that Kerry condemn it.

Most of the rest of it is attacking him for being a capitalist and an atheist. Of course, Blankley's boss believes he is the Messiah, but Tony seems to have no troubles with that.

Food Critics

Steve G. thought my earlier swipe about Frank Bruni becoming the Times's food critic was pointing out that he had been demoted. Just to clarify what my point was -- I don't think it's a demotion. I'd love to be the food critic for the Times. I'm sure it's a coveted wonderful gig. Nothing against critics of food or anything else.

The point I was trying to make was that in the world of the Times editors, one can go from being a campaign critic to being a food critic, that a similar set of skills and a similar style is appropriate for both jobs. I find that rather troubling.

The Times's coverage of the campaign in 2000 was abysmal, with Bruni's love letters to Bush balanced by Kit Seelye's lies about Al Gore. 2004 is shaping up to be a repeat.

Fun With Robert Samuelson


The Budget Deficits. Although they don't immediately threaten the economy, their persistence poses long-term dangers. As the government goes deeper into debt, rising interest payments on its borrowings crowd out other government spending. Since 1959, the interest burden has risen from 6 to 14 percent of all federal outlays. Likewise, huge deficits may ultimately depress private investment by raising interest rates and discouraging businesses from borrowing. Lower private investment rates would in turn gradually undermine the prospects for higher living standards.


In my view, it would also be good economics. Bigger government is more likely to burden the private economy. Whatever deficits' economic dangers, they are mostly long term. These include the possibility that government might inflate its way out of debt or that high federal borrowing might depress private investment. The antidote for both is an end to permanent deficits. This need not require self-defeating behavior: trying to cut spending or raise taxes in recessions. Even in the 19th century, government often tolerated deficits (or reduced surpluses) during slumps.

What permanent deficits do is to pay for present spending with future tax increases or spending cuts. We are handcuffing tomorrow's governments with today's debt. The alternative to a constitutional amendment is for the president to lead public opinion toward a new discipline. if Clinton doesn't propose to balance the budget, the obvious question is: why? And the next question is: who, then, will balance the budget? The answer is Chelsea, her friends and our children. It's the wrong answer.

More generally, throughout the 90s Samuelson was completely obsessed with the deficit. Column after column was written about the importance of reducing it (often he didn't bother to even explain why), chastizing the Clinton administration for not being willing to propose budgets which would do it, etc...

It's clear Samuelson only thinks deficits are important when they can be used as an excuse to make Grandma Millie homeless or to criticize presidents when they're Democrats.

Science, Heritage Foundation Style

Recommendations, Talking Points, Facts and Figures.

One of those 3 is empty.

(thanks to It's Full of Wasabi)


Slaughters little Russ.

Margin of Error

A few of you noted in the CBS poll referenced below, the sample size of veterans in the poll is only 170. This means that the margin of error in the poll is +/- 8.6 for a standard 95% level of confidence. For the difference in the poll numbers to be statistically significant they therefore have to differ by about 17 percentage points.

Anyway, I don't think this is the sign of evil bias, just statistical stupidity. This is a standard error made by news organizations reporting on the poll results of subsamples.

...oops, that should be more like +/-7.5 and 15. What I get for trusting an unknown online MOE calculator...

Kerry Over Bush, 49-41

Though you have to read all the way down to the end to discover that.

Designs on the White House

Go vote for your favorite entries!

Sly Felinos has a few examples.


Any publication should really be ashamed of publishing Robert J. Samuelson's tripe. I don't know if he's dishonest or just kinda stupid but his columns on economics really are just bollocks. Delong, Greenstein, and Orszah slice and dice him. Key graf:

Another weakness of the review is that Samuelson appears of two minds on the dangers of deficits. In belittling the Clinton administration's deficit-reduction efforts, he argues that deficits "do not matter nearly as much as the public and many economists believe" and dismisses the reduction in the deficit by 2.5 percent of GDP between 1992 and 1995 as "such a small change." But, in arguing for significant cuts in retirement programs, he warns that "there could easily be circumstances" in which large, persistent deficits could "trigger a financial crisis" and "reduce economic growth." This inconsistency is reflected in his advocacy of Social Security benefit reductions to curb rising costs. The total increase in Social Security expenditures over the next 75 years will amount to 2.5 percent of GDP, the same amount he dismisses elsewhere as a small change.

2.5% reduction over 3 years is "small." A 2.5% increase over 75 years is large enough to "trigger a financial crisis."

Look, anyone who seriously believes or claims to believe that Social Security in its present form is unsustainable or a threat to the economy is a complete tool. There is no Social Security Crisis. Nothing drastic needs to be done to "save" it.

Medicare is a different story. If people want to start talking responsibly about how to contain the growth in Medicare costs I'd be happy to do so. But, as Bush's own budget numbers admit, pushing people onto private plans is more, not less, expensive. So, that's an option which apparently costs more money. Another option favored by idiots is, you know, just drowning the program in the bathtub. Nice idea, but retiring boomers are going to swell the ranks of seniors. While that's part of what is going to increase Medicare costs, it's also what's going to ensure that pretty soon Medicare is going to cover luxury retirement homes for everyone -- retiring boomers are also going to swell the ranks of senior citizen voters.

Hispanic Outreach

Going wonderfully for the GOP.

Everyone talks about how crucial the Latino vote is going to be in November. Both parties are putting out literature and Web pages in Spanish in an effort to communicate better with this huge constituency.

The Republicans have a sign-up page -- called "Abriendo Caminos" or opening paths -- that promises Spanish-speaking folks that President Bush and the GOP will "send you weekly news about the topics that most interest you."

The sign-up page asks the usual stuff -- name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. You are to check which of many listed topics -- immigration, health, Social Security, corporate responsibility, crime prevention and so on -- are of most interest.

Then it asks what you are. There are four options: war veteran or retired military; teacher or educator; senior citizen; or farmer or rancher. That's it. Nothing for lawyers, doctors, engineers or corporate executives to check.

Not even a box for "otro?"

Haha. check it out.

Porn for Democrats

As I said yesterday, one should not trust Capitol Hill Blue, but I thought this article nicely catered to all of our prejudices so it's a fun read if nothing else.

Give a Little

The Pandagon twins provide much free pie every day and they rarely ask for anything. They're having a short fundraiser to help both of them cover annoying moving expenses. Throw them some spare change if you can.

JK Day a Great Success!


Total Donations: 2243
Total Dollars: $187710.28

80 donations for a total of $4648.39!


Blogger Mary Beth Williams got the endorsement of the Portland Press Herald.

Campaign site is here.


Some more decent, but not stellar, jobs news. For some perspective, that's just slightly above the average monthly growth rate throughout the entire Clinton presidency.

Overall, in terms of jobs numbers, the last 3 months have been quite good. If this keeps up through Nov. the job market may actually start "feeling" better.

They Get Letters

The General writes a letter.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Earlier Digby wrote:

Howell Raines is the perfect representative of everything that is wrong with the SCLM. They aren't really liberal and they aren't really conservative. They are shallow, bitchy elitists. Suffice to say, any advice from this guy should be taken as a sign to do the opposite. Compared to pompous ass Howell Raines, John Kerry is Elvis Presley.

One pathology of the elite guardians of our discourse is their tendency to focus on the inane and superficial and then pretend that they're standins for Joe and Jane America. They cover politics like Joan Rivers covering fashion at the Oscars, and then pretend that they're just reflecting the opinion of "the American people." They'll attack candidates (well, Democratic candidates) for not being "serious" about issues and then wonder aloud about the fact that they're boring the people with all those Big Incomprehensible Numbers.

Most of these people are well educated and many are from elite schools. I don't know if they're posing or lazy, but I don't believe they're as illiterate and innumerate as they claim. Ted Koppel, who had no trouble counting down the days we had hostages in Iran, professed during the 2000 election that all those numbers Bush and Gore were throwing around were just soooo confusing. Koppel is one of the nation's premiere journalists and he's been hosting one of journalism's premiere TV shows for 20 years. He can't add up a few numbers? Someone on his staff can't?

A few times I've declared the "age of wonk" is over. Aside from a bit of education, there isn't really much point in really discussing many policy issues in-depth. This administration obviously isn't interested. And, nor is the 4th estate.

They talk hair cuts and sighs, pretending this is what really matters to the Amurcans they have nothing but contempt for. The truth is, policy issues don't matter to them at all. The elite media - the blow-dried pancake makeup wearing ones on the nets and the Pravdas on the Hudson and Potomac - are almost entirely insulated from the economic policies of any administration. Hair cuts and sighs matter to them, the rest of it doesn't. That would be fine if they didn't pretend that people struggling to stay out of bankruptcy gave a shit about this stuff. That people going to court to squeeze out owed child support so they could put food on their families gave a shit about the latest Heatherism of the day.

It's all ceased to matter to them. It isn't cynicism or apathy, it's just disconnect and lack of empathy. It disgusts me when these people pander to "the Heartland" or the "Red States" or to people with "good American values." Most of them only know the comfy suburban America they were reared in, having no understanding or concern for the despair which comes from economic hardship which one finds in spades both in urban and rural America.

And, the worst of these - the Howell Raines and the Margaret Carlsons - perpetuate the myth of their own "liberalism," shitting on everyone who truly can be described as liberal.

Click to listen to the end of this post.

Postcript: The new food critic for the Times? Frank Bruni - the guy who covered the Bush campaign in 2000.

Craptacular Job, Keller!

Massing has another NYRB article.


What a bunch of clowns.

All Your Jobs Are Belong to Bush

Jobs report out tomorrow. I'll just rerun the post I ran last month at this time:

The new jobs report comes out on Friday. Let's hope for good news - I'm not going to wish for bad news to further my personal political agenda - I'm not a supporter of "hope for short term pain to get us long term gain" either on Iraq or the economy. But, what I do want is the truth, about both those things for better or for worse, to be understood by the people in this country.

So, even as we hope for good job news (a soft labor market is of no benefit to me, either) let's prepare for the inevitable spin in which bad numbers are made good and average numbers are made great.

It's a bit premature, but let's just remind ourselves. 140K+ net new jobs or so are necessary just to keep up with the growth in the working age population. And, while a second [now third] month of good numbers will indeed be an encouraging sign, there's almost no chance that the jobs numbers will return to their pre-Bush levels by the election.

There are some discouraging trends. The rise in the adoption of adjustable rate mortgages at a time when interest rates will inevitably rise is cause for concern. Rising long term rates could destroy the housing market. The declining share of output going to labor is also of concern. (Short version - wages are flat, productivity has been going up, therefore all that extra productivity is going to profits). Whether this is just a temporary trend in a weak labor market, or whether it's a sign of structural changes in the economy (decreasing competition due to tech. changes, poor anti-trust enforcement, a rise in crony capitalism, etc...) is unclear.

And, as always, it'll be important to look at the numbers behind the numbers. A booming low wage service sector is nothing to get excited about.

Another Win

In MO:

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that a vote on a proposed gay marriage ban should be placed on the August ballot – handing Democrats a victory that could carry over to political contests this election season.

In a 6-1 decision, the court said Secretary of State Matt Blunt should begin steps immediately for such a vote. Blunt and other Republicans had wanted the issue placed on ballots in November.

"The secretary of state has a duty to take such actions as are necessary, in an expedited manner, to prepare (the amendment) for submission to the people of Missouri at the August 3, 2004, election in accordance with the governor's proclamation," the court said.

Shortly after the ruling, a Blunt spokesman said he would follow the court's wishes.

"We will put it on the August ballot," said Blunt's spokesman, Spence Jackson.

Sometimes I'm glad so many Republicans are dumb as rocks.

Tighten Those Tinfoil Hats


A dentist who claims he met three of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Shreveport one year before the attacks has mysteriously fallen ill and is on life support.

Dr. David Graham was driving back to Shreveport from Houston on Saturday night when he became sick. A friend said Graham began suffering organ failure and medical tests show possible poisoning. He is hospitalized in Houston.

Graham is trying to publish a book that claims meetings with the hijackers and another Middle Eastern man who is a federal fugitive here.

Mike Sledge, a friend of Graham, has a manuscript of Graham's book, "The Graham Report: The true story of three 9-11 hijackers who were reported to the FBI 10 months before 9-11." In it, Graham claims he met the hijackers at a home in Shreveport in September 2000 and thought they were plotting an attack on Barksdale Air Force Base. He said he reported them to the FBI.

Concerts for Kerry

Just the occasional plug. It's a good way to help the cause on a low budget, and you get to go have a night out in the process. A couple events are pricey, but most are very affordable. All ticket sales go to Big John.


I'll have more to say on the final paragraph later, but go pour yourself a drink a slowly savor this post by Digby.



Kevin Drum has a post up about the likely future of oil prices. Short version - they're probably going to go up.

The thing about oil production is that any given moment there's some overall production capacity. Once we hit that level of production, then nothing more can be pumped out. Now, over time new reserves can be discovered, new wells dug, and capacity can be increased. I'll leave it to others to determine just how much extra potential capacity exists, but the point I'm trying to make is that even if a lot of it exists it takes some time to find it and bring it online.

So, what does this mean? Well, to answer that let's have a little Econ 101 lesson. The diagram below represents supply and demand in the oil market.

The downward sloping demand curve reflects the fact that as the price of oil falls, the quantity people wish to buy increases. At least in the short term, the demand for oil is thought to be pretty inelastic - that is, pretty insensitive to changes in the price.

The other curve is the supply curve. The horizontal portion of the curve reflects the fact that over some range, oil companies are basically willing to provide as much as customers want at some minimum price. At some point, however, in order to encourage more production the price must rise. The problem is that this upward sloping segment of the supply cuve is fairly "small." That is, it is only over a fairly narrow range of output that price increases actually encourage more production. After that, we run into capacity limit - the vertical range of the curve. Further price increases are not accompanied by any more oil production.

So, what happens if the demand for oil starts increasing? As, say, China and India start increasing their oil consumption. Well, that demand curve starts shifting to the right and the equilibrium price of oil begins to rise. Higher price, but not higher actual consumption. Oil producers happy, as prices will rise above marginal cost. Big profits result.

What happens? Higher prices will, over the longer run, encourage companies to extract oil from areas which may not have been profitable at lower prices. This is the Dick Cheney vision of oil independence -- if the price gets high enough then oil companies will find their oil in more costly domestic locations, and by producing more oil at home we won't rely on foreign oil imports. Then we may get some outward shift of the supply curve, but we'll still be paying higher prices.

So, in a world where the demand curve is probably going to continue to shift outwards, in the short term it's quite possible oil prices could skyrocket. In the longer term, new capacity may be brought online, but as long as demand is increasing faster than capacity...

Scratch for Big John!

Don't forget, today's the day you grudgingly pull out your wallet and throw another tenner at the cause.

Scroll down to see some discounted big money event possibilities for those on the Left Coast, if you're interested.

Grass Roots Campaigns

Need a summer job? Want to spend it helping Dems? Click here.

I doubt it's a particularly large paycheck, but it does pay.


With Bush consulting with a lawyer it's a good time to consider what possible legal difficulties he could be confronted with. Now, obviously if as Capitol Hill Blue claims (they aren't a trustworthy source, BTW), one of the grand jury witnesses has claimed Bush had prior knowledge of the leak then he would be in seriously deep doodoo.

But, let's assume for now that isn't the case (or, at least that there isn't actually such a witness). If after the fact he knew who did it, then he would be likely be guilty of being an accessory after the fact for actively covering it up, depending on how his public statements, etc... diverge from the facts.

And, even if not guilty of being an accessory, he could still face charges of "misprision of a felony" - of knowing about it and not coming forward.

So, the point is -- if at any time, before or after, the president knew the identity of the leakers then, to quote Michael Kinsley, "Ha. Ha. Ha."

(thanks to this OSP post for some help on this.)

Tenet Resigns

Gore speech victim #1.

Thursday Is John Kerry Day!

You know what to do. And, special this week - if anyone wants to attend a big money fundraising event at a discounted (though still not cheap) rate, here are a couple offers in California:


June 6th, 1:00-3:00 p.m; Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley, CA.
June 6th, 4:30-7:00 p.m.; private home in Hillsborough, CA.
Levels up to $2,000. Atrios Blog special admission - $250. Contribute and then RSVP to


June 23rd; SAN JOSE at Tech Museum Parkside Hall with JOHN KERRY and ENTERTAINMENT ; 6pm
Levels up to $2,000. Atrios Blog special admission for tomorrow’s blog-athon - $500. Contribute and then RSVP to

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 339K new jobless! Lucky Duckies every one!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Time to Vote

In Max's contest.

Turkee for MB

Blogger Mary Beth Williams is running for the legislature in Maine. Even if you can only donate $5 or $10, please do.

Click here for more info and then go to the main site here to donate (right hand side).

And, here's the official campaign website.



President Bush's re-election campaign is trying to recruit supporters from 1,600 religious congregations in Pennsylvania -- a political push that critics said Wednesday could cost churches their tax breaks.

An e-mail from the campaign's Pennsylvania office, obtained by The Associated Press, urges churchgoers to help organize "Friendly Congregations" where supporters can meet regularly to sign up voters and spread the Bush word.

"I'd like to ask if you would like to serve as a coordinator in your place of worship," says the e-mail, adorned with the Bush-Cheney logo, from Luke Bernstein, who runs the state campaign's coalitions operation and is a former staffer to Sen. Rick Santorum, the president's Pennsylvania chairman.

"We plan to undertake activities such as distributing general information/updates or voter registration materials in a place accessible to the congregation," the e-mail says.

The Internal Revenue Service prohibits political campaign activity, for or against any candidate, from taking place at all organizations that receive tax exempt status under a section of the federal tax code -- including most churches and religious groups. Violators could lose their tax breaks and face excise taxes.


Reader r writes in:

George W. Bush last Feburary, on Meet The Press (emphasis added):

Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

President Bush: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

George W. Bush yesterday , Rose Garden press conference:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Chalabi is an Iraqi leader that's fallen out of favor within your administration. I'm wondering if you feel that he provided any false information, or are you particularly --


Q Yes, with Chalabi.

THE PRESIDENT: My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him.

Q I guess I'm asking, do you feel like he misled your administration, in terms of what the expectations were going to be going into Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't remember anybody walking into my office saying, Chalabi says this is the way it's going to be in Iraq.'s Bush with Chalabi on Turkee Day:


President Bush says he had a "good talk" for about 30 minutes November 27 with four members of Iraq's Governing Council at Baghdad International Airport, following his surprise meeting with U.S. troops there.

Briefing the White House press pool accompanying him on Air Force One as he returned to the United States after the two-and-one-half-hour stop in Baghdad, Bush said he and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, met with Jalal Talibani, the current president of the council, Raja Habib Khuzaii, Ahmed Chalabi, and Mowaffak Rubaie.

I Heard You on the Wireless Back in Fifty Two

Majority Report tonight. 3rd hour. Be there or be square.

18 Years Later

In comments, reader Andrew led me to track down this Michael Kinsley column from the December 13, 1986 Times of London.

Washington British political scandals are about lust, the old saw has it, while American political scandals are about greed. This one is about power. Perhaps that's why it is being treated with such high seriousness. Indeed the only irritating aspect of the otherwise delightful collapse of the Reagan administration is the widespread insistence that we must all be poker-faced about it.

The approved attitude is to don the mask of tragedy: oh, woe is us, another failed administration, policymaking in disarray, etc. The Washington Post is second to none in moral dudgeon but nevertheless declares that anyone who finds the spectacle entertaining is 'reprehensible'.

Dear me. Am I really the only one here who is having a great time? Would I like to share the joke with the rest of the class? Or should any right-thinking person succumb to the fever of solemnity? No, upon tortured reflection, I've concluded that the case for glee remains compelling.

First, Washington types live for this kind of episode. The adrenaline is flowing like Perriers. Everyone, Reagan supporters no less than his opponents, is wandering around in a happy buzz induced by those oft-denounced but rarely eschewed twin intoxicants, gossip and speculation.

Secondly, 'disarray' is the essence of farce, and a banana skin tumble is just as funny when it happens to the National Security Council as to the Three Stooges. The arms-for-Iran episode has not lacked for pies in faces, missing trousers, stubbed toes, confused identities, mistaken embraces, role reversals, strange noises and other classic elements of lowbrow comedy. It's only human to laugh.

Thirdly, it's a healthy democratic instinct to enjoy seeing the mighty fall, and no one was acting mightier, especially since the 1984 election, than the Reagan administration. Democrats and liberals, beaten down after six years of Reaganism, have every right to wallow in schadenfreude.

Politics is not just a game, but it is a game. And if people are going to be scolded for cheering whenever their side scores or the other side fumbles, they will quite rightly confine their attention to professional football.

There are subtler pleasures to be had as well. It's delicious that contempt for democracy should have done Reagan in. For six years, democracy has been the biggest frustration of the president's opponents. It seemed to us, the carping critics, that this man was not terribly bright, not terribly thoughtful or well informed, not terribly honest, and in most other ways not up to the most important job in the world. But a large majority of people seemed not to mind. And so a consensus grew that if he lacked conventional mental and moral assets, he had some special magic.

Even Reagan's critics became superstitious about this alleged magic. They became afraid to say, or even to remember, that he's just an old movie actor. They came to believe that to criticize Reagan personally was to cut themselves off from the democratic life-force and condemn their souls to that circle of hell 'inside the Beltway' (Washington's ring road and a common metaphor for political insularity). Like knocking on wood or whistling past the graveyard, superstitious critics would preface any dissent from Reagan's policies with expressions of respect for him personally. One reason the president's political opponents are nervous about chuckling over his present predicament is fear that the magic monster is only asleep and the laughter will reawaken him.

So, democracy used to be Reagan's opponents' problem, but now it's his problem. As his standing plummets in the polls, he waves his magic wand in bewilderment, puzzled that the magic doesn't work. 'This is a Beltway bloodletting,' the told time magazine. What this pathetic remark reveals is that it is Reagan who is now trapped 'inside the Beltway,' isolated in a cocoon of advisers, cut off from the democractic life-force. And in fact the Contra war in Nicaragua has always been an inside-the-Beltway enthusiasm, which is what led to Reagan's difficulties in the first place.

'The Salvadoran guerrillas or the Sandinistis don't have to worry about all this when they deal with the Cubans and the Russians', a Contra leader complained to the New York Times. 'All this' refers to Congress, public opinion, the press, the law, and suchlike impedimenta. The Reagan administration, on whom democracy had lavished its greatest blessings, could not be bothered with democracy's inconveniences either.

So there's no need for gloom. Liberals and others who feared for their own faith in democracy can breath easy. Reagan's come-uppanace is democracy's salvation. It turns out that Lincoln was right: you can't fool all the people al the time after all. Dry those tears and repeat after me: Ha, ha, ha.

Le Flip Flop

Bush lies and says he was never mad at the French.

Plame Game

CBS News: Bush to hire outside counsel in Plame affair...

and, more generally, tonight's CBS News broadcast is shaping up to be a bit of that liberal media we keep hearing about.


...and Josh Marshall provides, from the Nelson Report (thanks Old Hat).

. If it's possible to imagine anything more damaging to DOD [than the Iran/Chalabi revelations], and perhaps also to White House staff, it is the CIA's conclusion that some information Chalabi turned over to Iran was available to only "a handful" of senior U.S. officials. That would be Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, and Cheney's consigleiri, Scooter Libby, our sources helpfully explain.
-- perhaps not entirely by coincidence, the Vice President's office is already on extra orders of TUMS, as it awaits the promised Grand Jury indictments of those responsible for leaking the name of a secret CIA officer to newspaper columnist Bob Novak, allegedly to "punish" the agent's husband, Amb. Joe Wilson, for revealing that President Bush used faulty intelligence about Iraq and Niger in the State of the Union Address two years ago. From our own days as a police and court reporter, we can tell you that Grand Juries often grind exceeding slow, but that if they report, not much gets left out.

Plenty of Atheists in Foxholes

So shut your hole Peggy Noonan.

Not Nearly As Important as Whitewater

So, the VP's office was intimately involved in handing out contracts to Halliburton which should have been handed out competitively.

Move along folks, nothing to see here. War profiteers good.

(link thanks to Holden)

Whose Side is Bush On?

Big Media Matt makes a convincing case that Bush is actually an agent of the Iranian government.

Hoeffel Press Conference

You can watch clips from Joe Hoeffel's press conference on the stupid prescription drug discount card here.

And, you can donate to the campaign here!


Miller is still carrying water for Chalabi. What the hell is with the Times?

Smoke Up Your Nose

Jeff Greenfield just did a report on the Polier/Kerry thing. He concluded the piece by saying that news outlets could learn a lot from the incident, but they probably won't. Indeed. Let's go back to my favorite Jeff Greenfield moment:

Even more damning was a "Nightline" report broadcast that same evening. The segment came very close to branding Hillary Clinton a perjurer. In his introduction, host Ted Koppel spoke pointedly about "the reluctance of the Clinton White House to be as forthcoming with documents as it promised to be." He then turned to correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who posed a rhetorical question: "Hillary Clinton did some legal work for Madison Guaranty at the Rose Law Firm, at a time when her husband was governor of Arkansas. How much work? Not much at all, she has said."

Up came a video clip from Hillary's April 22, 1994, Whitewater press conference. "The young attorney, the young bank officer, did all the work," she said. "It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about." Next the screen filled with handwritten notes taken by White House aide Susan Thomases during the 1992 campaign. "She [Hillary] did all the billing," the notes said. Greenfield quipped that it was no wonder "the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster's office when he killed himself."

What the audience didn't know was that the ABC videotape had been edited so as to create an inaccurate impression. At that press conference, Mrs. Clinton had been asked not how much work she had done for Madison Guaranty, but how her signature came to be on a letter dealing with Madison Guaranty's 1985 proposal to issue preferred stock. ABC News had seamlessly omitted thirty-nine words from her actual answer, as well as the cut, by interposing a cutaway shot of reporters taking notes. The press conference transcript shows that she actually answered as follows: "The young attorney [and] the young bank officer did all the work and the letter was sent. But because I was what we called the billing attorney -- in other words, I had to send the bill to get the payment sent -- my name was put on the bottom of the letter. It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about."

ABC News had taken a video clip out of context, and then accused the first lady of prevaricating about the very material it had removed. Within days, the doctored quotation popped up elsewhere. ABC used the identical clip on its evening news broadcast; so did CNN. The New York Times editorial page used it to scold Mrs. Clinton, as did columnist Maureen Dowd. Her colleague William Safire weighed in with an accusatory column of his own: "When you're a lawyer who needs a cover story to conceal close connections to a crooked client," he began, "you find some kid in your office willing to say he brought in the business and handled the client all by himself." Safire predicted the first lady's imminent indictment.

The producer of that segment? Chris Vlasto.


Note to journalists -- when you're writing a story about advertising on blogs, the story shouldn't be "wow! people set up their own pages on that interweb thingy and some other people pay to put ads there!"

The story, really, is that there are some websites that get sufficient traffic to attract advertisers. Those websites, like many others, reach a targeted demographic. That isn't actually much of a story if you've been awake since 1997.

Information we could use - how do blogad rates compare to advertising elsewhere on the internet on a per-view or per-clickthru rate?

Strange Dreams

Last night I had a dream that I got an 'FYI' email from Byron York of the National Review informing me that according to his sources Don Rumsfeld was the one who told Chalabi about the Iranian codes and that Rumsfeld had been declared an enemy combatant and was currently sitting in a cell in Gitmo.

A Major Victory In the War On Terror

We didn't get Mullah Omar, but we GOT HIS BRICK!

The pistol wielded by Saddam Hussein when he was captured in his spider hole last year isn't the only war relic President Bush is fond of showing visitors to the White House. Recent guests tell us that Bush proudly displays two other iconic items in a study off the Oval Office: a brick from Taliban leader Mohammad Omar's home in Kandahar, and a roughly two-foot-high cross made of steel recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage.


It's really quite incredible that a drunk senior Bush official babbled to Our Man in Iraq Chalabi that we had busted the codes of the Iranians who, last I checked, was a part of the 'Axis of Evil.'

WASHINGTON, June 1 — Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi leader and former ally of the Bush administration, disclosed to an Iranian official that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service, betraying one of Washington's most valuable sources of information about Iran, according to United States intelligence officials.

The general charge that Mr. Chalabi provided Iran with critical American intelligence secrets was widely reported last month after the Bush administration cut off financial aid to Mr. Chalabi's organization, the Iraqi National Congress, and American and Iraqi security forces raided his Baghdad headquarters.

The Bush administration, citing national security concerns, asked The New York Times and other news organizations not to publish details of the case. The Times agreed to hold off publication of some specific information that top intelligence officials said would compromise a vital, continuing intelligence operation. The administration withdrew its request on Tuesday, saying information about the code-breaking was starting to appear in news accounts.

Mr. Chalabi and his aides have said he knew of no secret information related to Iran and therefore could not have communicated any intelligence to Tehran.

American officials said that about six weeks ago, Mr. Chalabi told the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security that the United States was reading the communications traffic of the Iranian spy service, one of the most sophisticated in the Middle East.

According to American officials, the Iranian official in Baghdad, possibly not believing Mr. Chalabi's account, sent a cable to Tehran detailing his conversation with Mr. Chalabi, using the broken code. That encrypted cable, intercepted and read by the United States, tipped off American officials to the fact that Mr. Chalabi had betrayed the code-breaking operation, the American officials said.

American officials reported that in the cable to Tehran, the Iranian official recounted how Mr. Chalabi had said that one of "them" — a reference to an American — had revealed the code-breaking operation, the officials said. The Iranian reported that Mr. Chalabi said the American was drunk.

Actually, what's really quite incredible is that the story on CNN right now is... Ice cream headaches.

What a bunch of clowns our media are.

...okay, CNN's doing the story now.

Called for Herseth

Dunno if this is 100%, but one station has called it for Herseth.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Mainstreaming Bigots

It's quite troubling that outspoken bigots can get prominent play in our nation's newspapers - as long as that bigotry is directed at Arabs/Muslims and homosexuals. From Kos, we have Paul Weyrich saying this:

A leading conservative said Tuesday that President Bush needs to change the subject from Iraq to his stated goal of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages if the Republican wants to win in November.
"If he wishes to be re-elected, then he better be upfront on this issue, because if the election is solely on Iraq, we'll be talking about President Kerry," said Paul M. Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank, and national chairman of an amalgam of conservative organizations known as Coalitions for America.

You should definitely read this post here for the backstory, but here's Paul Weyrich a little while back:

Statement by Paul M. Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation, following his visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. on Friday April 26th, 2002

The visit to the Holocaust Museum was very moving. Once you see what the Jews went through at the time of Nazi Germany, it is so much easier to comprehend why the Jewish people feel they have to fight for their nation the way they do. And it is also more understandable why they are so sensitive to anything they feel is anti-Semitic.

In an unusual irony, the writer Evan Gahr, who once believed I was an anti-Semite, has helped to reconcile me with some in the Jewish community who believed the same of me. They now realize that we are in the vanguard of those who understand the threat that true believing Moslems represent to both Christians and Jews and that all of us who believe in our Judeo-Christian civilization must fight together to preserve it. I am grateful to Mr. Gahr for taking the initiative to enable us to take a special tour of the museum. And I can assure my Jewish friends that I will forever be more sensitive in my own writings to how they think and feel.

I'm so glad the scourge of political correctness has at long last been banished.

Drug Card

The AARP is shocked that no one seems to be interested in Bush's moronic drug discount card.

The Hoeffel campaign has provided a nice graphic which might explain why.

Click here for image. Image too wide for site.

If you like, you could always donate a bit to the campaign...

...and read here to learn about what a sham the whole thing is.

Blogs I Don't Link to Enough

No More Mister Nice Blog.

Sully Watch.

Today in Iraq.


I'm sure there are others, but that'll do for now.

Funny Time Stamps

Blogger keeps messing with the time stamp for some reason so if the posts keep switching their order around I don't think it's actually my fault...

Easy Answers

From the Poor Man.


Spent the day doing the jury duty thing. Narrowly escaped being chosen. Catching up...


Let's hope there's no OJ kinda happening.

Talk amongst yourselves.

...phew, narrow escape.

Bozo Brooks

Josh Marshall has his number.


Go read.

Monday, May 31, 2004

South Dakotans - Vote Tomorrow!

The special election is tomorrow. Make sure to drag your friends to the polls.

...Diedrich is lowering expectations -- practically conceding.

Health Insurance

I think Brad DeLong is correct that Kerry's proposal to effectively offload catastrophic health care coverage onto the government is a good one. I'm more skeptical about its workability in practice - the stakeholders with their snouts in the health care trough are rather powerful. I worry frankly that any non-nuclear health care reform (which would likely fail unless the people had taken to the streets or the rest of big bizness had finally gotten smart) will just get loaded up with more and more pork for the lovers of the free market as it sails through congress.

A rather smart person recently clarified the whole health insurance issue to me -- what we call health insurance in this country has little resemblance to actual insurance, and thinking about it as an insurance problem largely muddies the issue. What we have is a health care delivery industry, with little divide between the providers of health care and the providers of health insurance. It's all one tangled mess, and the incentives are completely skewed across the board.

An exception is catastrophic insurance, which could be more like traditional insurance if it were chiseled off. Perhaps if a clean bill could get through congress Kerry's plan is a good first step. Still, I suspect that it'll just provide another way for the health care industry, one way or another, to suck some more taxpayer dollars.

Some sort of single payer system is inevitable in this country. It's just a matter of when, who pays for it, how it's implemented, and how much the current parasites manage to suck from the system until that time (and after).

Ken Mehlman is Gay

Actually, I have no idea if he is, but could this Washington Blade article use any more rather obvious code to let us know that they think this prominent Bush campaign staffer is gay?

But, Mr. Mehlman, gay or straight, is entitled to as much privacy regarding his sex life as the media has determined all fairly prominent public figures are entitled - about zero. Remember the Kerry rumor?

One reporter had a little girl call up, assuming I wouldn’t hang up on a child. They even made her say, “Can I talk to Alex?” And when I said, “Yes, it’s me,” a reporter jumped on the line. CNN’s Zain Verjee wrote beseeching notes, slipping them under the front gate. It was like a horror movie where the zombies are on the other side of the door and then an arm comes through the window. Stuck with Kerry’s denial, each of the American networks had hired a local fixer to approach me for a big sit-down. “Tell me it’s true and we’re on the next plane to Nairobi!” ABC’s Chris Vlasto e-mailed hopefully. Good Morning America, the Today show, CNN, and 60 Minutes all offered me airtime to tell my story. Editors whom I’d been begging for work were now clamoring for my attention.

Alexandra Polier wasn't anything close to a public figure, and based on nothing the media didn't blink about dragging her into the spotlight. While Mick the Hack thinks it would be wrong to print private information such as someone being (his words) "gay, or twisted" that "would cause them to commit suicide," Hack and ilk gleefully chased this non-story down, absolutely unconcerned about its impact on the parties involved.

Rule of Law

Rude Pundit informs us that Bush is almost certainly violating Washington's Firearm Laws.

Our Dear Judy

It's New York Magazine's turn.

Is there a bigger tool than Bill Keller?

Who Woke the Post?

From Hiatt:

Bush could have responded differently. He could have embraced the heroes such as Spec. Joseph Darby, who sounded the alarm; William J. Kimbro, the Navy dog handler who refused to sic his dogs on prisoners; Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who wrote an honest report. He could have apologized to the people of Iraq, appointed an investigator from outside the chain of command, pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, he opted for a Nixonian strategy of damage containment, and a summer of piecemeal disclosure.

Who pays the price for the president's dishonesty? Soldiers such as Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli and his troops, who, as The Post's Scott Wilson reported last week, are out in Baghdad's slums, fighting insurgents one hour and fixing sewers the next. The prison scandal and the administration's failed response haven't doomed those efforts, but they've lengthened the odds. They've given aid and comfort to the enemy.

You Know...

I'd like to think that bundling over $175K might be worth, oh, two tickets to this...

Just sayin'

Lost in Afghanistan

It didn't take a genius to figure out that this administration didn't have any intention of genuinely following through in Afghanistan. I remember the early days of this blog when even suggesting that things weren't going swimmingly there brought howls of anguish from the Righties, who stopped caring as soon as they were given their shiny new toy -- Iraq.

It's sad really. I like, you know, just about everyone else in the country supported the Afghanistan conflict with little reservation at first, though my skepticism grew rather quickly. The truth is, as with Iraq, too much "liberal cover" was given to that war as with the one in Iraq. Toppling women hating theocrats? Sounds good to this liberal! Let's send a dollar to the Iraqi schoolchildren! Hooray!

It wasn't that demolishing the Taliban and going after terrorists there was a bad idea, but because the "rightness" of the mission was so obvious, and anyone who questioned any aspect of it was quickly necklaced, tough questions about just what the hell we were doing there were never asked.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq there were two missions -- remove terrorist threats and rebuild nations too long under the boot of authoritarian regimes. While the "Taliban" are gone in Afghanistan, most of the country is run by warlords (drug lords). And, large numbers of terrorists were allowed to escape at Tora Bora.

In Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, it seemed at least that we'd committed the funds to rebuild the country. Much "liberal cover" was provided from the Friedman wing by people who couldn't believe the Bush administration, which had screwed up everything else so horribly, would screw up their pet project. The terrorist threat was nonexistent, as were the WMDs, so removing an authoritarian regime and replacing it with something better is the only metric by which success can be judged.

When the history of the Bush administration is written, a key theme will be the fact that the "War President" managed to lose two wars. Not the military - they did their jobs. The president.

Stem Cell Madness

Good article by Kinsley.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

On the Consequences of Hate

Via Unqualified Offerings we have this letter to the editor written in 2000 in response to the "pro-family" haters.

Letter to the Editor
by Sharon Underwood, Sunday, April 30, 2000
from the Valley News (White River Junction, VT/Hanover, NH)

As the mother of a gay son, I've seen firsthand how cruel and misguided people can be.

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people.

I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called "fag" incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn't bear to continue living any longer, that he didn't want to be gay and that he couldn't face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don't know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn't put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it's about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that's not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I'll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for "true Vermonters."

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn't give their lives so that the "homosexual agenda "could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn't the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can't bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about "those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing" asks: "What ever happened to the idea of be better human beings than we are?"

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?


Andrea Mitchell today on Meet the Press:

But I think what's most unhelpful to John Kerry in this regard is Al Gore. The Al Gore speech sets out what is a growing feeling in the Democratic base. We want out. We want quick withdrawal.

There is absolutely nothing in Al Gore's speech which suggests that he's calling for a quick withdrawal. Nothing.

More Crap in the Times

Robert Waldmann discovers some more hooey in its pages.


Smart people there:

Still, the poll of 600 likely registered voters, conducted May 21-24, shows Kerry with a commanding 16 percentage-point lead over Bush in a head-to-head November matchup--54 percent to 38 percent. And even if independent Ralph Nader were to qualify for the Illinois ballot, Kerry maintains a 16 percentage-point lead over Bush--53 percent to 37 percent. Nader receives only 4 percent.

The poll showed 52 percent of Illinois voters now say they have an unfavorable opinion of Bush compared with only 37 percent who look upon him favorably. In addition, 55 percent say they disapprove of the way he is handling the presidency.

While Illinois has trended Democratic and Bush lost the state by a dozen percentage points in the 2000 presidential contest, a similar poll taken just five months ago showed 51 percent of Illinois voters held a favorable attitude toward Bush while 40 percent disapproved. Back then, 49 percent of Illinois voters approved of the job Bush was doing as president while 42 percent did not.


Digby writes about his Judy column so I don't have to. be fair, Left I does highlight one place where Okrent gets it exactly right.

That automatic editor defense, 'We're not confirming what he says, we're just reporting it,' may apply to the statements of people speaking on the record. For anonymous sources, it's worse than no defense. It's a license granted to liars.

The contract between a reporter and an unnamed source - the offer of information in return for anonymity - is properly a binding one. But I believe that a source who turns out to have lied has breached that contract, and can fairly be exposed. The victims of the lie are the paper's readers, and the contract with them supersedes all others.

When an anonymous source with an agenda burns you, then immediately the story should be inverted. It is no longer about whatever the source is feeding you, it is now that the source lied to you. It isn't just about having an obligation to readers, it's recognizing that there is now a real story to tell, such as "Bush Administration Officials Trying to Manipulate Public By Lying to Media."

Until editors and reporters are willing to internalize the basic idea that anonymous sources must be outed when they're caught lying, they should not be used.

Ending Court Ordered Child Support

World O'Crap provides a bit of fun for your Sunday morning.



Vice President Dick Cheney was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press last September when host Tim Russert brought up Halliburton. Citing the company's role in rebuilding Iraq as well as Cheney's prior service as Halliburton's CEO, Russert asked, "Were you involved in any way in the awarding of those contracts?" Cheney's reply: "Of course not, Tim ... And as Vice President, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the [Army] Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the Federal Government."

Cheney's relationship with Halliburton has been nothing but trouble since he left the company in 2000. Both he and the company say they have no ongoing connections. But TIME has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official—whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon—that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the "authority to execute RIO," or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year.

The e-mail says Feith approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH [White House] tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's [Vice President's] office." Three days later, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton the contract, without seeking other bids. TIME located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

But, that Whitewater thing. That was important!