Saturday, November 08, 2003

Dumping the Council?

Jeebus, if they can't even support their hand-picked puppets, who will they support?

Increasingly alarmed by the failure of Iraq's Governing Council to take decisive action, the Bush administration is developing possible alternatives to the council to ensure that the United States can turn over political power at the same time and pace that troops are withdrawn, according to senior U.S. officials here and in Baghdad.

The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future, especially selecting a committee to write a new constitution, the officials added. "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," said a well-placed U.S. official who spoke on the condition anonymity. "They just don't make decisions when they need to."

Rambo No More

From Frank Rich:

But through no fault of Private Lynch's, she may not be the antidote to bad news in November that she was in April. The steady drumbeat of casualties is making it harder for those who pushed her into the limelight at the time of the rescue to control the stories butting against her happy ending. In broadcasting the first reports of "Chinook Down" last Sunday morning, the normally unflappable Bob Schieffer of CBS News raised his voice as he said, "If this is winning, you have to ask the question: How much more of this winning can we stand?" Later that day, on ABC's "World News Tonight," the correspondent John Berman captured a "M*A*S*H" moment when a military medic attending the American wounded looked directly at the camera and said, " `All major combat operations have ceased' " — after which he winked and, with a roll of his eyes, added a sarcastic, "Right!"

The Bush administration tries to shut down pictures as effectively as it has stonewalled Congressional committees and the bipartisan commissions looking into intelligence failures surrounding 9/11. On the day of the Chinook's fall, the president stayed off-camera on his ranch in Crawford, resting up for his next round of fund-raisers, and sent out only a written statement of grief. Reuters reported on Monday that journalists seeking access to Ramstein, the American air base in Germany to which Private Lynch was first taken, had been told that the defense department would not lift its policy prohibiting photographs of flag-draped coffins, even for the Chinook casualties. The president did not go to the funerals of the nine fellow soldiers who died in the same ambush that led to Private Lynch's capture; he hasn't gone to any funerals for soldiers killed in action, The Washington Post reports.

Two weeks ago, after spending the day visiting the wounded at Walter Reed, the same hospital where Private Lynch recuperated upon returning to the United States, Cher, of all people, crystallized the game plan. She called into C-Span to tell of her experience talking with "a boy about 19 or 20 who had lost both his arms" and then asked: "Why are none of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bremer, the president — why aren't they taking pictures with all these guys? Because I don't understand why these guys are so hidden and why there aren't pictures of them."

Dr. Dean

How many times can Adam Nagourney write "Dr. Dean" in this article? It's weird.

The Need to Succeed

Over at Tapped, Nick Confessore highlights this quote by Ken "Have I been right yet?" Pollack which says:

For the longest time, they basically had two options. They had the autocracy offered by their government and they had the Islamic republics offered by the Islamic fundamentalists. And here comes the United States and says, "We've got another idea. We've got another way of doing things, and that's democratically."

The U.S. is trying to do that now in Iraq. We're doing it with 130,000 troops and 100 billion of our own dollars. The rest of the region is watching to see if it succeeds. And if it succeeds, there is the chance that others will start to accept and start to move in that direction. If it fails, every Arab is going to look at it and say, the Americans tried, they tried with $100 billion, and 130,000 troops, and if it can't work in Iraq, there's no way it can work here.

To which Nick responds:

This is reality, like it or not. The United States needs to succeed in Iraq, something I think most Democrats actually do understand, conservative piping to the contrary. We can't go home; we have to figure out a way to make this thing work.

I'm not expert on the Middle East. Yes, that's on odd admission for a punditblogger to make, as it never really stops anyone else. But, I'm *really not* an expert on the Middle East so everything I say should be taken with big grains of salt.

However, I disagree with both premise and conclusion. First, is the premise that if it "succeeds" there is a chance that others will move in that direction. This is a one dimensional view of "success" - successful for whom? If the US "succeeds" in Iraq it won't be a success for the ruling elite, and nor will it be a success for the Islamic fundamentalists. Why the powerful in other countries would voluntarily give up that up simply because one of their neighbors had a different model is beyond me. We're just replaying the domino theory here, and I just don't get it.

The conclusion is that we "need to succeed." At this point, I think we need to not "fail miserably." I'd like that to be a resounding success, with a liberal democracy, complete with gay marriage and all, flourishing in Iraq, but the plutocratic colony we're in the process of establishing to the benefit of our war profiteers isn't exactly moving in that direction. The truth is, as Big Media Matt points out, the Bush administration is in the process of "cutting and running" as much or more as any of the Dem candidates (even Kucinich!) are suggesting. I have a hard time believing that the promises of troop reduction will ever really materialize, but in the end it'll be a war between Rove and the Neocons. Normally I'd put my money on Rove, but I'm not sure in this case.

Maybe it's that I just don't see much difference in the net result of being in it for the short or long haul, aside from the body bag count of our soldiers. Perhaps, but perhaps not, a UN supervised trained international peacekeeping force could have better results, but I've seen no evidence that this crowd had any clue about how to establish the infrastructure and institutions that a modern economy needs to function properly. So, extending our occupation is just extending the inevitable while increasing the cost in lives and money.

Circular Firing Squad

I have to say in my visits to various Democratic news discussion forums I'm pretty disheartened by the degree of "my candidate rules your candidate is a twisted lying evil unelectable loser" rhetoric going on. Look folks, it's a primary, there will and should be some competition between the candidates. To some degree what doesn't kill them will make them stronger, and whoever gets the nomination will hopefully have their message honed by the time the general election rolls around. I'm all for honest criticisms and appraisals of the candidates strategies and statements, but I've seen too many people writing and recycling RNC spin points about the various candidates.

It's part of the reason I've tried to stay out of the primaries lately. I originally intended to try and focus on defending the candidates from unfair press smears, but once the campaign heated up the smears by the press and the RNC and the candidates smearing each other started becoming indistinguishable. I'm all for the candidates going after each other to some degree, but I don't want them to let the media lead them on this one. Live by the Heathers, die by the Heathers.

As for me, I think all the conventional wisdom is roughly wrong at this point, but that doesn't mean I really know what's right. I don't think that the nomination is inevitably going to Dean. I don't think Clark's military experience and Southern origins makes him a strong candidate (though he might be a strong candidate for other reasons). I don't think John Kerry is out of the running, though I do agree that his vote for the Iraq war resolution is the primary reason for his disappointing showing. I don't think that suddenly the economy is no longer an issue - even if my doom and gloom predictions turn out to be incorrect, there's going to be a decent amount of structural and long term unemployment which are going to be serious issues for a lot of people, as well as state finance problems. I think if Edwards could raise enough money, he could probably still be in this thing, though that's a big 'if' of course.

But, in any case, keep your eyes on the prize people. I know that peoples' devotion to a particular candidate is largely a consequence of their belief that their Chosen One is the One True Hero to Vanquish Bush. But, we can't all be right on that score, and anyone who claims to be is just blowing smoke. You might be right, you might be wrong, but far more important than fighting for your particular candidate is fighting to convince the country that Bush has to go. Until the candidate is chosen, too much within-party "partisanship" is damaging.

When the candidate is chosen, it's going to be important to rally behind him (sorry Ambassador Moseley-Braun, but....), with your time, energy, and wallets. Don't lose sight of that.

Dumpster Diving

In comments, midderpidge raised an important point. Is it SOP for Republican staffers to dig through the trash of Democratic Senators and Reps?

What Do They Have to Hide?

Come on media, it's time to start framing the issue this way. Every time the Clintons failed to hand over Chelsea's stool samples to Ken Starr or Dan Burton there was an explosion of "WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?"

Isn't it about time you started to wonder?

Politicizing Everything

For years the Republicans have tried to politicize every aspect of our lives - every single news event (Johnny Walker! Liberal!) - and now suddenly they're outraged about the politicization of... politics.

Liberal Radio

Make sure to check out Johnny Wendell on KFI out of Los Angeles on Sundays from 8-10 ET. KFI is one of those stations with enough power to reach everyone in the greater LA area, and he's the token liberal.


I didn't jump on the "secret offer to stop the war" article, because I thought it was rather silly. Clearly, once war was imminent, Saddam Hussein was willing to saw off his own arm and mail it to Dick Cheney in a barrel of oil if it would have stopped the war. Elton Beard, taking a break from his shorter duties, reminds us of another last minute rejected attempt to stop the war.

This war was inevitable, if not from the moment Bush was elected, from the moment he said "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out." in March of '02.

When you google "fuck Saddam" some pretty creepy things come up....

Leave Arnold Alone!

The General explains.

Light of Reason Going Dark

The transit strike is making Arthur Silber pull the plug for a bit. Given his Randian leanings, charity is out of the question, but if he's provided valuable services that you have stolen from in the past perhaps you can make amends by hitting his tip jar. (half-;) )

Friday, November 07, 2003

So Much for the Marshes

It's almost funny how these guys are so ideologically warped that anything that even sounds like "environmentalism" must be excised immediately.

Prince Charles Gay Rumor

I don't know or care if Prince Charles has ever had any kind of "homosexual encounter," as long as they were consensual. But, given that literally every other detail of the man's personal life has been broadcast freely, I find rather amusing that the media are treating this as if someone had accused him of killing babies. It's big news in Britain right now, even though at the moment libel laws are keeping the "open secret" about what the rumor is from being printed. Here, where libel laws aren't as restrictive, I see absolutely no reason why an American publication would publish anything about this story without informing its readers what was at the heart of it.

Wants to be his mistress's tampon? Print away! Accused of possibly touching another man's winky? The horror!

I read the Times story before they pulled it down. There was nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

....Steve G fills in more details. If I remember correctly, the Times story didn't even mention the accusation that Charles had been covering something up for his supposed lover, though they did mention what he had been accused of.

Soldier Pushed Out


I am writing this in response to a series of letters published by The Item, beginning with my own letter on March 14, 2003 titled "Bush Shows Arrogance Not Leadership." In it, I discussed the relevance of United Nations approval prior to the War in Iraq, as well as the consequences of "going at it alone." Following the printing of my letter, a pair of readers retaliated by attacking my loyalty and ability to "cover their son's back." The more striking of the two had this to say:

"If Sgt. E-5 Ferriol is who he says he is and is in the job he claims he is in, I think about now he will be in front of his commander answering a lot of questions concerning his loyalty, the enlistment oath and above all the oath he took to get the security clearance to be in the job he claims to be in. I would not want a person with his views in a foxhole next to me nor could I rely on intelligence analysis he performed that might get me killed. I took what I think is the correct action, cut the article out of the paper, wrote a cover letter and sent it to the DoD for action."

I would like to take this opportunity to let Mr. Simpson know that I am who I say I am and I was in the job I said I was in. I honorably served my country for eight years in the United States Marine Corps; providing honest intelligence analysis and collecting countless awards and promotions throughout my career. I was also a leader and mentor to scores of young men and women. In those eight years, I sacrificed more of myself for this country than most men and women ever will in their lifetime. But, thanks to the zeal and quick judgment of this individual, I am no longer serving our beloved country. His forecast was correct. Following his letter to DoD, I was brought up on charges of "Disloyal Statements" under Article 134 of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Not because anything I wrote was disloyal, but because of my political views and how they differ from Mr. Simpson and others like him. The unfortunate aspect of this is not my demise, but their inability to understand or accept the opinions of others as different from their own. Nonetheless, I was forced to retain an attorney and undergo weeks of scrutiny before being cleared of the charges. I was, however, never allowed to work in Intelligence again; forced to separate the Marine Corps over threats that I would not be allowed to reenlist. Never mind the fact that there is not one single negative mark on my entire eight years of service (the letter incident was considered "hush-hush" so not even that made it on my record), or the fact that every one of my superiors stood up for me during this time, praising my abilities and loyalty to this country. None of that mattered; only my "liberal beliefs."

....Here's his blog.
Looks like a communist to me. (thanks to G. Beato)

...and his more political website.

Student Life in America

God I'm glad I'm not a high school student.

A drug sweep Wednesday morning at a South Carolina school has some parents and students questioning police tactics.

Surveillance video from Stratford High School in Goose Creek shows 14 officers, some with guns drawn, ordering students to lie the ground as police searched for marijuana. Students who didn't comply with the orders quickly enough were reportedly handcuffed.

Police didn't find any criminals in the armed sweep, but they say search dogs smelled drugs on a dozen backpacks.

The school's principal defended the dramatic sweep.

"We received reports from staff members and students that there was a lot of drug activity," said George McCrackin. "Recently we busted a student for having over 300-plus prescription pills. The volume and the amount of marijuana coming into the school is unacceptable."

...Jeebus, I'm watching the video now. There are like 5 million surveillance cameras in that place. Who can fucking live like that?

Gropenfuhrer Intimidates His Victims

So, Arnold has hired a private investigator to look into whether or not he sexually assaulted anyone. Obiously, the PI is going to investigate the victims, to encourage them to shut their pieholes. Lovely.

Sins of the Uncle

Christian Bauman writes in with an amusing tale:

I spoke at Princeton yesterday, about my book and about the war. While walking across campus for a cup of coffee, a group of us were chatting -- at raised volume -- about the poor state of things in general and the sorry state of the president in particular. I happened to notice a young lady walking alone in front of us, glancing back, looking rather distressed. I finally realized it was Lauren Bush, the niece. I did the only honorable thing I could: started talking even louder.

Eschaton Endorsement

I, Atrios, formally endorse Bobby Jindal for governor of Louisiana based on the fact that he managed to beat Satan.

The Schools

This whole article is creepy.

Al Gore Speaks on November 9

From Move On:

Al Gore Speaks on Freedom and Security
Sunday, November 9, 2:00 pm Eastern
Broadcast: Link TV and possibly C-SPAN

Remember when Gore gave a speech at about this time last year?

Rules for You But Not For Him

Gotta love this New York Times article:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — If Howard Dean joins President Bush in declining taxpayer money in the presidential primaries, the move could upend a system that most candidates have used to finance campaigns for almost 30 years, critics and supporters of the program say.


Should the Democratic candidates opt not to use the public money, next year's presidential election would be the first since the program's debut in 1976 in which candidates from both parties abandoned public financing in the primaries.

It's okay if Republicans do it, but once Democrats do it we're gonna scold them.

For the record, and for our somewhat clueless media, there's nothing inconsistent about being for public financing while refusing to voluntarily put yourself into a straitjacket.


It's interesting how the fatality rate has remained almost constant since the end of "major hostilities," aside from the recent uptick due to the two helicopters being downed.

(Obviously, when people are experiencing horrible deaths it seems a bit callous to look at a graph and go "hmmm.. interesting...")

...You can get the somewhat pointless, but still educational, comparison with Vietnam here.

Keep'Em Coming

We're up to $361 $715 $808 in donations for the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama. Please consider directing some of what you had generously offered to me to those who need it more than I probably ever will.

More information here.

One Party State

This is pretty unbelievable:

The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.


The director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, sent an e-mail titled "congressional questions" to majority and minority staff on the House and Senate Appropriations panels. Expressing "the need to add a bit of structure to the Q&A process," he wrote: "Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee."


It's saying we're not going to allow the opposition party to ask questions about the way we use tax money," said R. Scott Lilly, Democratic staff director for the House committee. "As far as I know, this is without modern precedent."

Norman Ornstein, a congressional specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed. "I have not heard of anything like that happening before," he said. "This is obviously an excuse to avoid providing information about some of the things the Democrats are asking for."


I've been pretty hard on the media's treatment of Jessica Lynch, from the first Steno Sue-penned WaPo story to the subsequent revisions. Some have interpreted that as being hard on her, though I don't know why. As far as I can tell she's behaved admirably and with restraint as our government transformed her into Old Shoe.

The sad thing is, the PR flacks and their press stenographers had a perfect story. Young, pretty, American GI attacked and wounded by evil bad servants of Saddam, and then treated humanely and decently by "the Iraqi people" we had come to liberate from their oppressors.

Instead, they simply made up shit to try and pretend she was Rambo, putting a cloud of dishonesty over her and the whole endeavor - which dishonored both her and everyone who served with her. I'm glad to see she feels comfortable speaking freely:

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.


Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."


Ms. Lynch also disputed statements by Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer, that he saw her captors slap her.

"From the time I woke up in that hospital, no one beat me, no one slapped me, no one, nothing," Ms. Lynch told Diane Sawyer, adding, "I'm so thankful for those people, because that's why I'm alive today."

Decent Employment News

The unemployment rate edged down a notch to 6.0% - mostly flat across all demographic categories. Payrolls are up 126K, which is decent, if not stellar, news, and last month's were revised upwards as well.

Comrade Max has more.

Andy Sullivan Challenge

I'm a bit tired of doing the same research over and over again, but here's Andy:

[Modo says]
If [Bush] gets more explicit, or allows the flag-draped coffins of fallen heroes to be photographed coming home, it will just remind people that the administration said this would be easy, and it's teeth-grindingly hard.[/Modo]

More calumnies follow. Now the question is: can anyone find a statement from any administration official who said that the post-war reconstruction in Iraq would be "easy." Notice she wrote: "said." Not implied or hoped or suggested. Said. So here's a challenge for all my anti-war readers or anyone else to find such a statement.

Andy's redefining the game here, somewhat, by wanting us to find someone who said explicitly that the "post-war reconstruction in iraq would be 'easy'." So, I don't expect to satisfy his particular game of Calvinball, but nonetheless put suggestions in comments.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

All Good People

While I'd like to put it be behind me, given the number of inquiries I've received it's only appropriate that I answer a few lingering questions about my recent legal issues.

First, let me say thank you so much to all of the people - ideological friends and foes - who made numerous offers of financial and legal help.

Second, let me thank my brilliant lawyer, the great Sam Heldman, of the now (hopefully temporarily) defunct Ignatz, who was extraordinarily generous with his time.

Third - a lot of people have wondered what exactly it was I agreed to. I agreed to post the joint statement linked here. Aside from not revealing anything about the negotiations process, which is of course standard, I made no other agreement which would limit my lawful speech.

Fourth - I'd still like to exploit your generosity. I intend to do some fundraising for an organization which provides quality representation for those who need it. For the next six weeks, any donations I receive through this link (or any at all through Paypal), will go to the Equal Justice Intitiative of Alabama. You may also donate to them directly through this address listed here:

Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama
122 Commerce Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

EJI is a tax-exempt organization, so all donations to them are tax deductible. I'm not sure about the legality of that if you send it to me first and I pass it on (tax lawyers? I won't be deducting it, so there won't be double dipping here), so if that's an issue for you please mail them a check directly.

There are people who need legal representation far more than I likely ever will. I appreciate the goodwill that I had received, and I'd frankly like to Pay it Forward (horrible movie, I know). So, please contribute, either through me, or by mailing them directly (please inform me if you do so I can keep a tally)

Let's take the opportunity to do a bit of good.

(oh, and, I'll pass on all donations at the end of the 6-week fundraiser. When the cancelled check comes I'll post an appropriately blacked-out scan of it)

Dirty Tricks, Trippi Style

I have to admit, this is pretty funny - the kind of dirty trick which somehow seems fair:

Everyone tells their own version of how Walter Mondale won the straw poll at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in 1983, but they all go something like this: In early October, a young Mondale aide named Joe Trippi shows up in Des Moines to check on Mondale's Iowa field operation. What he finds there horrifies him. Somehow the Iowa team has allowed the rival campaign of California Senator Alan Cranston to nearly corner the market on tickets to the JJ dinner, an annual affair designed to raise money for the Iowa state Democratic Party. This is, to colossally understate things, a problem. The dinner's traditional straw poll is an important barometer of public opinion in the state that hosts the nation's first caucuses. Mondale is a former vice president from neighboring Minnesota. Not only is he expected to win the straw poll; he is expected to win big. But the way you win is by packing the convention hall full of your own supporters. And the way you do that is by selling them tickets or buying tickets for them....

Trippi is nearly hysterical when he calls Campaign Manager Bob Beckel and Deputy Manager Mike Ford in Washington. "He speaks so fast, it was hard to keep up," Beckel recalls. "I said, 'Joe, What's the bottom line? What do you need?' He said, 'I just need permission to do whatever I need to do.' ... I just said OK." But there isn't a lot Trippi can do. He can try to get the Iowa Democratic Party to sell him more tickets. But there's no way they're going to sell him $275,000 worth, which is what Trippi estimates Cranston has bought. And, even if they would, there's no way he can afford to drop that kind of cash on an off-year event. When it comes down to it, Trippi is going to have to get his hands on tickets that have already been sold. Cranston tickets. Lots of them. And yet, once he accepts that proposition, the solution is almost elegant in its simplicity: What's to stop him from just marching right up to Cranston's people and asking for them?

"We started really early in the day," Trippi remembers, reflecting on how he and an Iowa colleague named Tom Cosgrove solved their JJ problem. "They stopped about three miles out [from] the staging area--the Mondale buses coming from Minnesota or wherever they were coming from." What follows is one of the most ambitious political makeovers in history. A team of Mondale aides, led by Cosgrove, plasters the bus with Cranston paraphernalia--stickers, posters, buttons, everything. Three miles down the road, the bus pulls up to the Cranston tent, where a Mondale/Cranston supporter gets out and tells a real Cranston aide he has 52 people on the bus. The aide looks up at the bus, surely admiring the military-like discipline that has brought a busload of Cranston supporters from "Los Angeles or wherever" out to the middle of Iowa this early in the day, and quietly congratulates himself. He promptly hands over 52 tickets.

And it continues like this, through bus after bus of Mondale supporters: Stop three miles up the highway, lather the bus in Cranston paraphernalia, drive on to the Cranston tent, claim your tickets. And the Cranston campaign just keeps forking them over. Happily. Hell, the more buses that show up, the more impressed the Cranston people are by their own handiwork. Never does it occur to them that these busloads of supporters aren't the genuine article. At least not until the real Cranston buses start showing up. "Twenty buses pull up, and they're out of tickets," Trippi says, still amused at the spectacle almost 20 years later. "More Cranston buses keep pulling up, and they don't have the tickets anymore." Score one for Walter Mondale.

But, what really caught my eye in this article was this:

"This is like in January, and we're sitting there, and we finally realize it's going to take two million Americans each giving us one hundred dollars online" to raise as much money as Bush, Trippi says. "There's only one medium ... that can change things enough that, if two million people tomorrow morning just woke up and thought, here's your one hundred dollars, it could happen in a day." Surely someone somewhere in the White House has had the exact same thought.

Just need two million people to give $100. Can it be that hard? (Note, I mean generally - whoever the candidate is)

C-Section Abortions

Given the specific wording of the "partial abortion" ban, apparently it only forbids abortions in which there is a partial vaginal delivery of the fetus. If the law stays on the books, which fortunately is unlikely, I imagine we can look forward to much less safe C-section abortions taking its place.

Feel the Love

Anti-semitic hate mail to nuns.

Quote of the Day

Long after Dubya is back on his ranch, Americans will be trying to recover from the mess he created.

From those Stalinists at The Economist.

Smart & Lynch

The Inky takes a good look at their TV movies.


Jeff Jacoby phones in an article by lifting Instahack's hilarious comparison between news media coverage in 1946 and news media coverage now. I discussed it here.


Looking Glass notes that Tom Friedman has managed to change his mind 180 degrees yet again.

It must be hard being Tom. His prose drips with his sense of the overwhelming rightness of his words, while at the same time he contradicts himself column after column after column...

Facts Mean Nothing to Chris Matthews

David Corn describes an recent encounter with Ann Coulter on Hardball where, true to form, Ann was making shit up. The show concluded with Matthews saying, "Facts mean nothing to you, Ann." As Corn notes, "If so, why continue to have her on?"

...Demagogue has the transcript.

Things That Make Your Head Explode

I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were talking about the Leviathan energy bill oozing its way through congress. Apparently one of the main sticking points right now is the single direct-to-consumer subsidy - a tax break on hybrid vehicles. It's in the Senate version and not the House. Predictably, the oil industry and automobile manufacturers that don't produce hybrid vehicles are against it.

So, apparently, a compromise is in the works -- to provide a tax break for hybrid vehicles that only improve fuel efficiency a little bit. Those which get too many miles per gallon won't have a tax break.

In other words, the "compromise" would encourage hybrid manufacturers to produce hybrids which get shittier fuel efficiency.

You can't make this stuff up.

The Definitive Wingnut Debate Dictionary

Ethel the Blog has compiled the full set.

The Reagans

Alterman reminds us of the legacy of Ronbo.

Shorter Alan Greenspan

While tax increases are contractionary, spending cuts are not.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 348K new jobless, and to the 5K we missed last week.

This is genuine good news, as opposed to "new which isn't so bad but we'll pretend it's good" that we've had the last few weeks.

But, I stand by my bad Nov-Dec-Jan prediction. Pink slips for Christmas.

Wingnut Debate Dictionary

Reader D writes in:

Hey, Atrios. The "wingnut debating school" thread was hilarious. I compiled the best ones (which was most of `em, actually) in case you want to repost the entire collection. My only criteria were that a) the term had to specifically reference a right-wing person or "institution" and b) the term could not just be the name alone (eg, "to Sullivan" wouldn't cut it). I also confess to "punching up" some of them, such as Acoulteration, Malkinization & Zellots, but I only gave credit to the original authors.

In alphabetical order:

Acoulteration (n.) - The act of adding copious endnotes in an attempt to give the sham appearance that one's writings are scholarly, methodically researched and based in fact. From Coulter, Ann. (Renato)

Audio'reilly (v.) - To adjust the sound level relative to the opponent, either electronically or vocally, to make one's argument appear stronger. From O'Reilly, Bill. (PapaJijo)

Cheney's Razor (n.) - A philosophic rule that the most complex explanation of an unknown phenomenon is probably correct. From Cheney, Dick. (CF)

Cotton Dandy (n.) - One who attributes greatness to his political patrons in the most saccharine, cliched, idealistic prose available, which under even mild scrutiny, fails to have any substance behind it. From Sullivan, Andrew. (Anon.)

Den Beste ex Machina (n.) - The creation of a fake political movement, such as Transnational Progressivism, that has virtually no basis in reality in order to disparage ideological opponents. From Den Beste, Steven. (Jesse Taylor)

Disinglennuousness (n.) - The practice of saying, after the fact, that just because you linked to something outrageous with "THIS IS INTERESTING" or "EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS", you don't necessarily agree with the linked sentiments, their having been exposed as utter pig-bollocks. From Reynolds, Glenn. (Nick Sweeney)

Freepler Shift (n.) - Claiming a source is further in one partisan direction than can reasonably be claimed. From Free Republic. (Lakema/Renato)

Glenndemma (n.) - When the disconnect between what you believe in and reality grows to such a degree that you become confused and either docile or unusually aggressive. Symptoms of Glenndemma include arguing that Bill Clinton and Paul Krugman are responsible for troop deaths (angry reaction) in Iraq, or refusing to discuss any issue relevant to global climate change (docile reaction). Bizarre leaps in logic are usually a certain sign of Glenndemma. Construction: "Reaching a" or "being in a". From Reynolds, Glenn. (RulerOfMyApartmentstania)

Glennuendo (n.) - The act of drawing a darkly ominous inference from an opponent's failure to discuss a political issue. From Reynolds, Glenn. (Vaara)

Grain of Galt (n.) - No matter the topic area, the assertion that you know someone who works in/is deeply involved in it, and therefore you know what you're talking about. From Galt, Jane. (Jesse Taylor)

Malkinization (n.) - Usage of questionable or irrelevant anecdotes in support of a position when statistics disprove the position. Cognates: Malkious, malkiniously. From Malkin, Michelle. (Hesiod)

O'Reillyus Interruptus (v.) - To be cut off from making a really good point or argument by a radio or cable TV talk show host. Usually involves being loudly shouted down, having one's mic cut (if in a studio), or being "potted down" (if calling in to a radio program). Odds of this happening are greatly increased the closer one gets to the truth. From O'Reilly, Bill. (Renato)

Penis Glennvy (n.) - The belief that by linking to Instapundit and his posts, rightwing bloggers can extend their influence and reputation into the
blogosphere. Indeed. From Reynolds, Glenn. (GFW)

Reductio ad Hannitum (n.) - To ask your evil liberal guest something patently ridiculous, then, while they roll their eyes, accuse them of "dodging the question". From Hannity, Sean. (Leo)

Rosh Herring (n.) - A post by a person, supporting himself, but posted under a pseudonym and pretending to be someone else. From Lott, John (aka Mary Rosh). (JH)

Sully (v.) - To pretend people who were clearly speaking metaphorically were speaking literally, and criticize them based on that. Also known as the "War on Metaphor". From Sullivan, Andrew. (Matthew Yglesias/Andrew Northrup)

Tucker Gambit (n.) - Baiting your opponent into a seemingly hypocritical position by using an irrelevant triviality as if it were germane to the topic; usually followed by shock and outrage at opponent's (expected) response. From Carlson, Tucker. (Kherr)

Zellmanella (n.) - Afflication whereby you claim that you are a "life-long Democrat", but now you're disgusted by the party's negativity, and you've fallen for the steely-eyed Dubya. Sufferers are known as "Zellots". From Miller, Zell.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Joe C.

Went to see Conason speak. Bumped into him outside as we were trying to find our way to the venue, so I introduced myself. He gave a short talk, and answered a lot of questions, which were of a higher caliber than one sometimes finds at these things...


Righteous cartoon.

7 Men Smile and Laugh As They Take Control Of Your Uterus

As members of congress look on, President Bush signs the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003 in Washington.

UPDATE: Julius Civitatus has discovered that yahoo airbrushed this photograph. Here is a link to the shocking original.

Cowards on Both Sides

I hadn't realized that the Senate didn't have a recorded vote for the new Iraq appropriation. Wow.

If defeat is an orphan, the U.S. occupation of Iraq, for which the Senate appropriated $87 billion by a voice vote on Monday, should already go down in the loss column.

By rejecting the normal option of a recorded vote, America's senators decided that they did not want to be held individually accountable for our continuing presence in Iraq. That decision speaks far louder than their decision to actually fund our forces there and the Iraqi reconstruction.


And it wasn't Democratic critics who forced a Republican-run Senate to cast an unrecorded vote on the occupation. It was Republicans, who voted for the funding but who lack all confidence in the president's chosen course.

More on the Wingnut Debating School

A lot of people have made some more suggestions for a catalog of tactics. I'll post a few more later, but we should recyle these from a year ago first:

Glennuendo (n.): The act of drawing a darkly ominous inference from an opponent's failure to discuss a political issue.
This technique was pioneered by Glenn Reynolds, and is therefore named in his honor. (from vaara)

Disinglennuousness (n.): the practice of saying, after the fact, that just because you linked to something outrageous with 'THIS IS INTERESTING' or 'EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS', you don't necessarily agree with the linked sentiments, their having been exposed as utter pig-bollocks. (from Nick Sweeney)

ad hankering: (v.) The practice of accusing anyone who disagrees with you of ad hominem attacks, even if what they said had nothing whatsoever to do with an ad hominem.

den Beste ex machina (n.) . The creation of a fake political movement such as Transnational Progressivism that has virtually no basis in reality in order to disparage ideological opponents. (Both from Pandagon).


Grain of Galt (n): The insertion into any argument that you know someone directly relevant to the topic who would verify what she's saying, despite having no other independent evidence whatsoever. (also from Jesse)

Setting the Record Straight


Media coverage of the controversy over CBS' The Reagans miniseries -- and an AIDS-related line in the script -- has largely ignored the reality of the Reagan Administration's record on AIDS. And in light of today's announcement that CBS will not broadcast the miniseries, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has joined prominent AIDS organizations in calling on journalists to expose the right's attempt to obfuscate the history of the Reagan Administration's AIDS policy and undermine current federal AIDS research.

"Media have repeatedly failed to challenge Reagan supporters' revisionism efforts, and they've failed to provide commentary by scientists, historians and AIDS experts who can detail the true history of the Reagan Administration's policy response to HIV and AIDS," said GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry.

Though one line in The Reagans script that has received considerable attention (where Reagan says of AIDS victims, "They that live in sin shall die in sin") is clearly fictionalized, the broader reality it attempts to convey is evident in the history of the federal government's inadequate response to the AIDS crisis under the Reagan Administration.

Reagan did not publicly utter the word "AIDS" during the first six years of his administration (his first public mention of the disease was made to the Third International AIDS Conference on May 31, 1987). The Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily HIV/AIDS Report for June 7, 2001 (see ARTICLES & RESOURCES below) also notes that the San Diego Union Tribune quoted Reagan as telling the conference, "Final judgment is up to God."

In a 2001 speech at the Kaiser Family Foundation's National Symposium on U.S. AIDS Policy, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Reagan's surgeon general, said that due to "intradepartmental politics" he was cut out of all AIDS discussions for the first five years of the Reagan Administration -- and that "because transmission of AIDS was understood primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs, the advisors to the President, [sic] took the stand, they are only getting what they justly deserve." (For a link to the complete text of Koop's speech, see ARTICLES & RESOURCES below.)

Operation G-Sting

Your Patriot Act at work for Operating G-Sting:

Channel 8 Eyewitness News political analyst Jon Ralson learned two local politicians have been included on a list normally reserved for terrorists. The development probably isn't because of suspected terrorist activity. Instead, investigators may be taking advantage of the Patriot Act to strengthen their case in Operation G-Sting.

The Patriot Act was passed shortly after 9-11 to locate terrorists and prevent any future attacks. But Friday, some say the law was abused so that investigators in Operation G-Sting could have a stronger case.

The two local politicians are on the list. The Patriot Act was passed 45 days after the 9-11 attacks. It gives law enforcement more power to tap phones and secretly search homes. The goal was to track down terrorists and keep another 9-11 from happening. It was not intended to be used in a case like Operation G-Sting. But that appears to be what has happened.


This development will have many opponents of the Patriot Act using it as the perfect example of why the law must be modified or repealed. Now, even some law enforcement officials Eyewitness News spoke to who support the act, say this time it was abused.

Disappearing Tripp

CNN has done the honorable thing and disappeared its error-filled Linda Tripp story from its website, without any correction or acknowledgment that I can find.

Rock the Vote

Agenda Bender pokes a little fun at last night's debate, which I didn't see.

Wingnut Debating School

There are 4 tools in the arsenal of wingnut arguing which are really rather hilarious. Let's call them the War on Metaphor, the War on Analogy, Pick the Definition, and the Obsession with Irrelevant Context.

Big Media Matt has been documenting instances of the War on Metaphor, whereby conservatives pretend people who were clearly speaking metaphorically were speaking literally, and criticize them based on that. Andrew Sullivan's been excelling at this one lately.

The War on Analogy, which is one of my favorites, is when conservatives pick apart an analogy by bringing in utterly irrelevent details. For example, if I write "Iraq is, in many ways, like Vietnam," a graduate of the wingnut debating school will respond with "You're wrong! Iraq is in the Middle East!" Or, if one points out to Andrew Sullivan the similarity between Jayson Blair and certain journalistic lapses under his own watch, he could respond with "They're nothing alike! Jayson Blair is lefthanded!" I think Jay Caruso is current champion of this technique.

Pick the Definition works both ways - to cover your ass when you say something stupid and to attack your opponents. Often words mean many things. There are things called dictionaries which list these multiple meanings. So, you can use an alternative definition to claim an opponent meant something other than what is clearly obvious, or you can claim you meant something other than what was clearly obvious (such as Don Strangefeld's musings on the word "slog," which to his credit was admittedly somewhat tongue-in-cheek). This one is so widespread I'm not sure we can pick a winner.

And, finally, we have the Obsession with Irrelevant Context. That's when we get to claim that people were "quoted out of context," when the missing context is completely irrelevant. I'd say Mick the Hack probably wins this one hands down, though self-proclaimed Krugman stalker, and my good friend, Don Luskin is providing some pretty tough competition. Another version of this is the Chewbacca Defense - which is to throw so many irrelevant details into the discussion that is ceases to make any sense.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Street Wins


Keep it Happy, Keep it Snappy...

Steve G has a post about the problems of instituting a contemporary draft. He misses one thing - as the fabulous David E. was discussing on the Michelangelo Signorile Show today, complete with scarily hilarious Vietnam-era draft board story, the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy would be a serious impediment to the implementation of any draft.

Once upon a time, people were more willing to run to Canada or shoot themselves in the foot or develop anal cysts rather than admit to having "homosexual tendencies." That is no longer the case.

... Keep it Gay!

mandatory troll repellent: Yes, I know the Clenis was responsible for DADT.

Conservative Humor

I think Robert George is okay, but this is frightening... Someone in NYC has to go take a look at this.

Republican Riot


An Evening of Stand-up Comedy


Fox News Columnist

Julia Gorin


New York Post Columnist

Robert George
WHAT: Stand-up Comedy with a conservative bent

WHEN: Saturday, November 8th at 5:30 pm (Seating starts at 5:00.)

WHERE: Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret, 343 W. 46th St., between 8th & 9th Aves (All major subways nearby at 42nd St., Times Square: N/R, 1/9, 2/3, E, A and C Trains, plus the Grand Central Shuttle)

HOW MUCH? Cheap! $ 8 cover charge, plus a two-drink minimum (but those shysters accept only CASH)



Bruiser Books, producer


Ah, here's the stunning wit of Julia Gorin:

Buddy was accidentally struck Wednesday afternoon when he darted out in front of a car on a busy two-lane road at the end of the cul-de-sac where the Clinton house stands.

I find myself wondering whether, upon hearing the news about Buddy, Mr. Clinton even remembered that he had a dog. Considering how expendable human life was rumored to be under his watch, what could a canine one count for?

Granted, the dog was mostly under someone else's watch. Still, if you care about the dog, you lay down the law with the caretakers-or with the Secret Service, as the case may be. A dog's babysitters will take their cues from the dog's owner, and will tend to be either as vigilant or as cavalier as the master is. If the master's attitude is lackadaisical, why should theirs be any less so?


What happened to Buddy is precisely what can be expected to happen to a dog when it's meant to be little more than a pawn in its owners' ongoing attempts to impersonate human beings.

However, to give credit where credit is due-at least Bill Clinton didn't entertain photographers and guests by dangling his dog by the ears while it squealed-the way that other great humanitarian, creator of the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, did to his dogs "Him" and "Her."

So Buddy's dead. Socks they gave away. Has anyone seen Chelsea?

Personally, I was surprised the girl made it past the '93 inauguration, having already done her part to fulfill the minimum quota for a family unit so her parents could have a political life. Of course, she was a self-sufficient adolescent by then, not quite as vulnerable as a dependent canine. The only visible, physical manifestations so far of the stress she's endured from playing her role are the chain smoking and the boozing (although she held off on the latter all through college, until her parents were out of the White House). More symptoms will be sure to manifest themselves as the years go on. But notice how, far from the mischievous Bush daughters, this kid was a stellar child; she never made a wrong move. She must have known her life depended on it.

Damn liberals and their incivility.


Slacktivist takes a long hard look at the moral clarity of BoBo "Dude! Where's my reputation?" Brooks.

Phoggy Jogging

Went for a little run around a foggy center city to check out the election activities. Katz clearly had a superior machine in this part of town. People and signs every where. It's nice being in a city on election day - politics seems a bit more alive and relevant than it does out in the burbs.

A Joint Statement from Donald Luskin and Atrios

"We both regret a series of misunderstandings that have resulted in something that neither of us intended. We have discussed our differences, and both of us are confident that such misunderstandings will not occur again in the future. As a result, Mr. Luskin is retracting his demand letter of October 29, 2003. We congratulate each other on having quickly achieved an amicable resolution. We are both glad to have put this behind us."

Big Lies

For locals, Joe Conason will be speaking at the Friends Select school at 17th St & Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, tomorrow (Wed.) at 7pm.


I think Matt Taibbi is the only journalist working here who has a clue about what's going on there.

....Ted Barlow of Crooked Timber recommends his book.

All According to Prediction

As with everything else in this administration, I'm almost always happy to be wrong, but it looks like the much-touted Bush Boom may be the Bush Bust.

NEW YORK (AP) - Job cuts announced by U.S. companies more than doubled in October from the previous month, providing more evidence that the nation's economy is in a period of jobless expansion, according to a report from an outplacement firm.

Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said Tuesday that in October companies announced plans to eliminate 171,874 positions, compared with 76,506 jobs in September. It was the highest monthly level since October 2002, when 176,010 job cuts were announced.

The surge in October ended a streak of five months when job reductions fell below 100,000 per month. The lowest figure during that time was in June, with 59,715 jobs cut.

Hardest-hit was the automotive industry, which announced plans to eliminate 28,363 jobs in October. That was followed by the retail sector, which plans to cut 21,169 positions, and the telecommunications industry, which said it would slash 21,030 jobs.

"While perhaps shocking to some, the October spike follows a trend of heavy year-end downsizing that has occurred since we began tracking job cuts in 1993," said CEO John A. Challenger. "In 2001 and 2002, October was the largest job-cut month in the fourth quarter."

As I've said a few times, jobs flat in Sept. and October (data out Friday), and then the bloodbath begins. Hope I'm wrong.


Eric Alterman sets the record straight about Linda Tripp. Our press sucks. Even I didn't know most of this stuff.

Groundhog Year

Yet another blonde conservative pundette is busted for apparently lying about her age...


It's absolutely impossible for this tiny brain to comprehend how Nethercutt's full quote even slightly changes the meaning of the partial quote that had been reported. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

Identity Politics

This basic scenario is fairly common, but here in Philadelphia it's more obvious than in some places. An African-American incumbent is running against a white opponent who was once a Democrat. The city is overwhelmingly Democratic in its registration (75-17%), but the race will be much closer than that. Blacks will overwhelmingly vote for the incumbent, Street, and whites will overwhelmingly vote for the challenger, Katz.

At first glance, the logical answer is that the white voters are racist. Black voters normally vote for Dems, so it's normal for them to vote for one aside from his race. White voters are more likely to vote for a Dem if s/he's white.

I'm sure stark naked racism plays somewhat of a role here. Philly's race relations - not just black/white, but the whole complex issue - are not and have never been particularly good. For a city of this size and with it's general degree of cosmopolitanism, the locals are pretty resistant to assimilating the latest round of immigrants - Vietnamese, Latino, etc...

But, the truth is it's more complicated than that. Both sides, to some degree, are engaging in identity politics. A good deal of the white voters are not going to pull the lever for Katz because they're racists - they'll do it because they think he'll be a better mayor. They may be right. Some of the black voters are going to vote for Street because they identified with his plight after Ashcroft's boys bugged his office (polls swung in his direction after that).

However, some voters are going to vote for one over the other because they think he'll be a better mayor for them. Black voters, rightly or wrongly, likely tend to perceive that a black mayor would understand and pay more attention to issues that the black community is more likely to face, while white voters perceive things similarly about a white mayor. Some of that is tinged with racism, but some is just a rational (if potentially incorrect) appraisal of the situation.

I'm pretty much a dead dog Democrat these days, but I nonetheless approached Katz with an open mind. I chose to vote for Street for two reasons - the first, and it probably will cost him the election, was the way Katz behaved when the bugging scandal broke. I think if he'd taken the exact opposite position that he did, and acted livid about the FBI messing around during an election, he would have gained votes. He could have stayed above the fray and been statesmanlike, and the story would have still had all the press attention that it did. Bad move.

And, secondly, the centerpiece of Katz's economic plan is a disaster. We have an onerous city wage tax here - which you pay whether you work in the city or not (and pay a reduced rate if you work in the city and live elsewhere). For residents it's 4.46%. The perennial issue is how to have a revenue neutral tax reform which sharply reduces or gets rid of the thing. For the usual reasons it never happens.

Katz proposed reducing it by about 1 percentage point, and then borrowing $750 million over ten years in order to pay for it, while decreasing city spending by 1% per year (not sure if that's actual reductions or over current projected growth). The fantasy is that this will pay for itself as new jobs flow into the city. So, debt service will be covered by the resulting boom caused by the magical tax cut fairies.

It could happen - whether fortuitously or as a direct result of the tax reduction. But, it's a huge gamble. If it doesn't work, it'll put the city in a pretty dire financial situation. Hello, Alabama!


I just did, so go vote if there's an election in your area.

Jon Stewart Beats Them All

His ratings for the 18-49 set exceed those of the cable news nets.

Pollack Returns!


I was also busy over the weekend reading letters from soldiers wounded in what I'm now calling the Iraqi Renaissance. If you watch television or read newspapers and magazines, you might get the wrong idea that we're losing the Renaissance, or at least flailing about without much direction. But take it from my highly-reliable correspondents who file from anonymous email addresses. Our soldiers are not losing their resolve, and thanks to our brilliant strategy of opening schools and then surrounding them with barbed wire, we're winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis everywhere. How can you disagree with the following letter?

Pop Quiz

Who said this?

Well, just as it's important, I think, for a president to know when to commit U.S. forces to combat, it's also important to know when not to commit U.S. forces to combat. I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi'a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba'ath Party? Would be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Shorter David Brooks

Who let Tom Friedman write my column this week?

....but, more seriously, Brooks has just written his "We may have to rape, torture, mutilate, kill, and bomb the village in order to save it" article.

Another high point for American "journalism."

Insert Ominous Music Here

Calif Halts E-Vote Certification:

SACRAMENTO, California -- Uncertified software may have been installed on electronic voting machines used in one California county, according to the secretary of state's office.

Marc Carrel, assistant secretary of state for policy and planning, told attendees Thursday at a panel on voting systems that California was halting the certification process for new voting machines manufactured by Diebold Election Systems.

The reason, Carrel said, was that his office had recently received "disconcerting information" that Diebold may have installed uncertified software on its touch-screen machines used in one county.

He did not say which county was involved. However, secretary of state spokesman Douglas Stone later told Wired News that the county in question is Alameda.

Alameda County, a Democratic stronghold that includes the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, converted to all-electronic voting last year at a cost of more than $12 million. The county used the machines in state elections last year and in last month's gubernatorial recall election. The machines will also be used in tomorrow's municipal election in Alameda.

Of course, if the software is messed up, either deliberately or not, and the vote count is off, there's no way to do a recount! What a system!


Who knew Terri Schiavo's Dad pulled the plug on his own mom?

Setting the Record Straight

From Morris's official biography:

In "Dutch," Reagan's authorized biography, the author, Edmund Morris, writes that Reagan once said of AIDS, "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."

And, now that the RNC has veto power over television programming, it's time to have another beer.


Josh Marshall notes that the White House is scrubbing its transcripts.

I just listened here, and Bush clearly says "see."

One Bad Apple

Okay, I'm tired of the Yes titles. Let's see what our friend Easterbrook is babbling about. In today's entry he waxes orgasmic about the movie Shattered Glass "not just because it presents The New Republic as tremendously important... Shattered Glass depicts everyone around Steve Glass as intensely concerned that journalists act honorably."

I'm no NewRepublicologist, but the fact is that the magazine throughout most of the 90s was a factless joke of a magazine, under the command of Kelly and Sullivan. Any lie about the Clintonites, and any screed which, subtly or not so subtly, lay the world's problems on the feet of welfare or affirmative action or minorities, was seemingly published without scrutiny.

The famous examples, other than Glass, are Ruth Shalit's dubious reporting about "diversity issues" at the Washington Post (shorter version: blacks have it easy), along with her other instances of fabrication and plagiarism. We also witnessed Elizabeth McCaughey shockingly dishonest and inaccurate article on Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Then there was Andrew Sullivan's full issue devoted to the Bell Curve, which, while, to be fair contained articles which largely condemned it, nonetheless helped to legitimize this racist tome (quote from Andy - "The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief.")

And, even now we have my pal Gregg, whose dishonest apologies for a forgivable offense rendered it unforgivable, and his deliberately ignorant defenses of Bush's "Healthy Forest" initiative portray nothing like a man concerned with the truth (it isn't that Easterbrook's description of appropriate fire safety methods is wrong, it's his pretense that Bush's initiative is designed to accomplish anything like that.)

New Language

Josh Marshall is right that those who attack US military targets in Iraq should be called "guerillas" or "insurgents." As he says, it's not about glossing over what they're doing it's about having some precision. Pretty much everything is now called "terrorism" from graffitti to smoking bongs to fake bomb threats.


Dwight Meredith takes a look at the "Democrats are racists" charge.

We Agree

Mark Shields awakens from his usual slumber:

In the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration chose instead to duck Shelton's "Dover test." The scene so familiar to older Americans -- of the military honor guard in white gloves, respectfully accompanying from the aircraft to the waiting loved ones the remains of the fallen warrior in the coffin covered by Old Glory, often with a military band offering an appropriately solemn piece -- was simply banned. George W. Bush's war against Iraq could not flunk the Dover test because there would be no Dover test.


After 241 U.S. servicemen, mostly Marines, were killed in a terrorist attack on their Beirut barracks, Reagan went to Camp Lejeune not simply to console the grieving, though console them he did, but to do what President Bill Clinton would later do so memorably after the deadly attack on the USS Cole and the murder of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Nairobi -- to give voice to the national sense of grief and offer meaning to the ultimate sacrifices made.

Where is the outrage on the part of the press? Are we lapdogs? The administration in full spin control insists that the reality on the ground in Iraq is much more positive than the press reports. Yet the administration denies reality at home -- the reality of the recent heroism of this nation's fallen sons and daughters.

By official government policy,. there is no band to welcome them home. No honor guard to present the folded flag to their widow and orphan, to make certain the family knows that their loss is also their country's loss, that they do not weep alone. It is a cruel and ugly policy that robs the patriot of the glory and public honor he has earned and deserves.

...Harley Sorenson also notes that for some reason the wounded never die.

Let's Pretend

Tbogg tracks down the lyrics to the latest REM song, and sends us to the website/video here. It's pretty good.

Open Your Eyes

Author and occasional military affairs correspondent Christian Bauman writes in:

Just now got to Sunday's NYTimes mag. A few points foryour readers about Rieff's article, from a soldier'sperspective, if you're interested in posting it orpart of it...

First, I know I speak for a lot of veterans (on bothsides of the political fence) when I say I can'texpress enough my bitterness at the irony of thecivilians in this administration blatantly ignoringthe advice and requests from the majority of uniformedofficers. If you recall, officers on the ground inMogadishu were demanding for months that to properly execute their assigned missions they needed more personnel, and more equipment. They were overrided, by Les Aspin. These current civilian chicken hawks -- Wolfie, Rummy, Dick -- jumped all over the Clinton administration's shit for this; and Aspin (rightly) resigned.

Oh the sweet, stupid irony: "[General] Shinseki wasn't the only official who thought there were going to be insufficient troops on the ground to police Iraq in the aftermath of war. The lack of adequate personnel in the military's plan...was pointed out by both senior members of the uniformed military and by seasoned peacekeeping officials in the United Nations secretariat."

Only instead of Rumsfeld et al resigning or being fired, it's the soldiers who told him the truth going into this who are retiring or being forced to retire.

Second, one of the things that drives me nuts is when people write "this isn't like Vietnam! Totally different than Vietnam!"

What they fail to understand is that the comparison to Vietnam has nothing to do with the country or the political situation THERE; the comparison is about HERE. The comparison is about a blind administration, talking itself into something and then unable to control the beast they've birthed, unable (and unwilling) to kill it. Rieff hits this perfectly, toward the end of the article: "In Iraq today, there is a steadily increasing disconnect between what the architects of the occupation think they are accomplishing and how Iraqis on the street evaluate postwar progress."

It doesn't make a bit of difference what WE think is going on in Iraq, or how WE think it is going. All that matters is how and what the Iraqis think. And they think we suck.

One of the reasons they think this, the main point of Rieff's article, is the reaction (or nonreaction) of ground troops to certain events, especially in those crucial days right after we arrived in Baghdad.

To Iraqis, the passive standing-by of the foot soldiers while their city was ransacked (except for the guarding of the Oil Ministry) proved in their minds that Americans were interested in only one thing: oil.

A lot of Americans back home, watching this on TV, were asking similar questions: "Why are the soldiers allowing this to happen?" We faced a similar situation when I was in Haiti: American soldiers seeming to stand idle in the face of blatant human rights violations.

Rieff explains this: "Without a plan, without meticulous rehearsal and orders or, at the very least, guidance from higher up the chain of command, the military is all but paralyzed."

This is very important to understand, and very frustrating for those of us who've been on the ground in the lower ranks during these situations. The administration's complete lack of planning for the postwar period not only screwed Iraqis, it essentially screwed our own soldiers; at the least, it puts them in the uncomfortable and frustrating position of having to watch something they could esily stop. At the worst, it actually puts their lives at risk, as we see happening now.

Rieff interviews a battalion commander, who tried as best as he was able to take care of some things on his own: "...he was forced to make decisions on his own on everything from how to deal with looters to whether to distribute food. When I asked him in Baghdad in September whether he had rehearsed this or, indeed, whether he had recieved any instructions from up the chain of command, he simply smiled and shook his head."

This reminds me of a comment former reporter Sara Chayse said on NPR's Fresh Air a few months ago, when she was talking about Afghanistan. She said something along the lines of how average, civilian Americans don't realize that their foreign policy is often set these days by privates. As a former private, I knew exactly what she was talking about: without a plan, without clear and concise guidance and orders, 19-year-olds with rifles have to make the decisions, and their reaction or lack thereof will dictate how the locals feel about America as a whole. This is exactly what is happening in Iraq right now: our foreign policy and how we are viewed there is not being guided by Washington, as it should be. It is shaped -- some days for the better, some days for the worse -- by soldiers who are simply trying to react and to survive.


You can order his novel, The Ice Beneath You, here.

The Miracle of Life

Congrats to Kos on the arrival of Baby Kos.

Mood for a Day

Over at the National Review, Michael Ledeen gives aid and comfort to the enemy by criticizing the administration's conduct. One wonders why Kathleen Parker's mystery military hunk doesn't ask for him to be "lined up and shot." In any case, Ledeen sort of manages to meander from Iraq to Iran, so much of his criticism is about how we aren't gung ho enough about toppling statues in Tehran, but he starts off okay:

Let's start with a simple, albeit apparently unasked question: Who got fired for permitting Wolfowitz to stay at a hotel in Baghdad, when there was abundant evidence that Iranian-sponsored terrorists had been instructed to target the hotels? When a relative of mine recently asked for advice before making a trip to Baghdad, I had just one strong recommendation: "Never, ever, set foot in a hotel in Baghdad."

Evidently nobody told the deputy secretary of defense.

Placing Paul Wolfowitz in such a place at such a time was a criminal blunder, and everyone who okayed the decision should be fired, along with the people on the ground in Baghdad who seem unable to understand that we are really at war, and that our men need proper protection and intelligence, whether they are in helicopters or in convoys or in hummers. And if my information is correct, the terrorists now have anti-tank weapons, which we may see in action in the near future.

It's long past time — since September 12, 2001 to be precise — for people to be sacked for failure, and the fact that virtually no one has — except for Larry Lindsay (seemingly for insufficient aerobic exercise) and a couple of others dealing with "the economy" or with faith-based initiatives and volunteerism — is the greatest failure of this administration. The bureaucracy has learned that there is no penalty for failure. The only way to change their mindset is to do to them what Reagan did to the air controllers.

Unfortunately, Dubya has embraced the Loyalty Thing that is one of the Bush family's most cherished values. He doesn't turn on his own loyal aides, even (perhaps especially) when they come under attack. But this is no way to wage a war, where the only thing that matters is victory.

The uber-hawks are starting to lose it, methinks. The Neocon Excellent Adventure is falling apart and they're lashing out trying to blame someone.

...the other thing, of course, is that the answer to who put Wolfowitz in a hotel is Wolfowitz. This was his USO tour of smiling happy Iraqi people, and he wasn't going to run away to Kuwait at night.

Fortune Seller

Yay! Fraud legal!

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) is missing provisions the Senate had passed to penalize war profiteers who defraud American taxpayers. House negotiators on the package refused to accept the Senate provisions.

The Senate provision was authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). It was one of the last major sticking points this week as negotiators worked through the compromise appropriations bill. The conferees narrowly defeated the amendment after lengthy debate, with House negotiators offering no substitute and no willingness to compromise, despite repeated offers from Senate conferees to negotiate the language. Republican and Democratic Senate conferees consistently supported the provision, which had been unanimously accepted during Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the bill. Leahy, Feinstein and Durbin are members of the Appropriations Committee and also of the Judiciary Committee (news - web sites), which has jurisdiction over the criminal justice system.

"Congress is about to send billions and billions of dollars to a place where there is no functioning government, under a plan with too little accountability and too few financial controls," said Leahy. "That's a formula for mischief. We need strong disincentives for those who would defraud taxpayers, and removing this protection is another major blot on this bill."


Sunday, November 02, 2003

Man in the Moon

I'm geeky enough to be into the whole manned space exploration thing, but is this really the right time to start committing to such things?


My latest Salon article is up.*

*Just kidding.

The Clap

Yet another newspaper article frames the issue as the Tinkerbell Effect. This NYT article, entitled "As Casualties in Iraq Mount, Will Resolve Falter?" analyzes the question of whether continuing casualties will weaken the "resolve" of the American public. Look, this isn't a mountain climbing expedition where we all need to keep cheerleading each other to the top. This is about this administration lying about the reasons for getting into a screwed up war and lying or being delusional about the costs of their little adventure. If increased body bags make more Americans turn on this policy, it isn't because they lack the steely-eyed resolve of Dear Leader and Chickenblogger Sullivan to send other peoples' kids to their deaths, it's because their cost-benefit analysis changes as new information comes in. Right now the costs are rising and the perceived benefit is shrinking. It isn't about resolve, or moral clarity, or courage, or whatever - it's just a recognition that Operation Inigo Montoya is a fool's errand with no good outcome.

Circus of Heaven

Just now CNN did a report about Gene Robinson. They were interviewing someone - I didn't catch who as I was only half paying attention. It may have been his partner, or a friend, or a colleague, or maybe a gay rights advocate, or simply a supporter. I guess the point is that it was someone "on his side" though I never caught the connection.

Right in the middle of the interview (which wasn't very long), the creepiest thing happened. The anchor said something like "It appears we're getting a lot of criticism for even doing this interview. We're being accused of advocating homosexuality, which we are not doing. We're simply trying to explore this issue."

CNN's switchboard must have lit up like a Christmas tree with angry wingnut callers. Creepy.

Looking Around

Nathan Newman and Allen Brill respond to Bernstein's response to their previous criticisms about his commentaries on the Lochner court.

It Can Happen

Reynolds has a long post up containing an article from a 1946 Saturday Evening Post entitled "How We Botched the German Occupation." Reynolds seems to think this is proof that the media just always gets these things wrong. But, as Big Media Matt notes, Reynolds has gotten it upside down. In 1946, the German occupation was a miserable failure. Germany and much of the rest of Europe were on the brink of total economic and political collapse. It was such a miserable failure that people were criticizing it in major publications. It was such a miserable failure that we changed our policies in response to these criticisms and to the reality we faced. In fact, it wasn't until June of 1947 that the Marshall Plan had its public debut, and until April of 1948 that congress enacted the relevant legislation.

So, message of the day - keep on criticizing policies which aren't working and the people who are responsible for them. Maybe they'll eventually try something that works. Glad you're on our side, now, Glenn.

For further reading about the Plan, I suggest this paper byBrad DeLong and Barry Eichengreen (large pdf).


This is from World Nut Daily, so who knows if they're just making stuff up, but:

"The ideologues started circling around the president," Matthews said, according to The Call. "They saw a man who never read any books, who didn't think too deeply and they gave him something to think about for the first time in his life. This thing called pre-emption, the Bush Doctrine. They put it in his head and said 'Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.'"

Sources tell WND that management at MSNBC are becoming increasingly perturbed at Matthews for his outspoken criticism of Bush.

Yep, that's our liberal media at work.

A Note on Advertising (a break from yes title headlines)

Josh Marshall has a post about his policies on advertising. I'm not quite on the same page as him, but he does raise some of the issues I'm starting to have to think about.

Roughly speaking, I try to keep the news and editorial page department separate from the advertising department. Obviously, they're both me, so that doesn't necessarily work perfectly. But, in practice it means I'll take ads from anything that doesn't appear to be overly offensive or illegal. In terms of ad placement, I make no promises about which ads get put on top/bottom. Sometimes I rotate them randomly, sometimes I do "most recent ad on top" and sometimes I just forget about it and don't pay any attention to it.

I don't make any promises to any advertisers that a paid ad buys you positive coverage. In fact, I hope that I can make a promise to the readers that the ads won't influence my coverage at all. For most ads that isn't relevant, but for some it is. Prospective advertisers should recognize that a wall does exist between the editorial board and the marketing department.

I don't think I need to have a policy of, say, only advertising one candidate at a time as Marshall is suggesting. Nothing stops a newspaper from running two restaurant ads on the same page, and I don't see this as being any different..

Another thing - I probably have more ads than I should which means two thing. First, I'm raising my prices a bit. And, second, I'm going to start capping the number of ads at a certain number, once I figure out what the number should be. Obviously if the number of ads declines, the prices will come back down. Supply and Demand and all that.

....duh, I misread Marshall's point. He's saying he wouldn't let one candidate buy up all the adspace. Nor would I....

...wait, I did read it correctly. One of those days...

....UPDATE: Josh has clarified his policy, and indeed he had just meant to say he wouldn't let one candidate by all the adspace.


The Boulder Daily Camera printed Parker's original article. I can't believe an editor wouldn't have had the sense to snip it.

Miller is not alone, though some are more sanguine when it comes to evaluating the roster of contenders. Here's a note I got recently from a friend and former Delta Force member, who has been observing American politics from the trenches: "These bastards like Clark and Kerry and that incipient ass, Dean, and Gephardt and Kucinich and that absolute mental midget Sharpton, race baiter, should all be lined up and shot."

...and the Whittier Daily News.

....and the Spokesman-Review.

Endless Dream

Via Kos, I see that Wolfowitz of Arabia is exceeding himself. From a discussion at Georgetown:

Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.

What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]

Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him.

It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause]

And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.

So, in Wolfowitz's world you hate America whenever you disagree with Wolfowitz, even if Wolfowitz is disagreeing with official US policy.

...Who could've imagined we would be ruled by people who talked like this? What the hell? Imagine if a top Clinton administration official had told a questioner that he hates America. Imagine the shitstorm which would have deservedly brought forth if political disssent was regularly and constantly equated with lack of patriotism or hating your country. That official would've been out on his/her ass in about 2 days, with every Op-Ed page in the country calling for their removal. And I would have agreed.

Does it Really Happen?

Down the memory hole. Reader AL writes in to inform me that USAID has removed this transcript of a Nightline show from its website, though the link to it can still be found here.

(Off Camera) Well, it's a, I think you'll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that's been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.

No, no. This doesn't even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.

(Off Camera) The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.

This is 1.7 billion.

(Off Camera) All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.

Holding On

Over at Corrente, Leah tells us to send some love over to Senator Graham so that he runs for the Senate again.

His Washington office telephone number is 202-224-3041; his fax # is 202-224-2237.
The address is 524 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Don't call 'till tomorrow, but go ahead and send a fax.

Going for the One

Charles Pierce has a long article in the Globe about some creepy conservative Catholics.

He is talking about a futuristic essay he wrote that rosily describes the aftermath of a "relatively bloodless" civil war that resulted in a Catholic Church purified of all dissent and the religious dismemberment of the United States of America.

"There's two questions there," says the Rev. C. John McCloskey 3d, smiling. He's something of a ringer for Howard Dean -- a comparison he resists, also with a smile -- a little more slender than the presidential candidate, perhaps, but no less fervent. "One is, Do I think it would be better that way? No. Do I think it's possible? Do I think it's possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it's OK to kill women and children or for -- quote -- homosexual couples to exist and be recognized?

"No, I don't think that's possible," he says. "I don't know how it's going to work itself out, but I know it's not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way.


For his part, McCloskey is adamant and unapologetic. "I love the United States of America," he says. "I would hope, rather than violence, if there was to be a difference in the way that people look at the fundamental issues, that they would separate peacefully rather than impose their views on the others. It's not my ideal. I'm just trying to explain it to you. Really, I'm being quite honest and sincere."

The Remembering

13 Dead. Jeebus. NBC News filled with happyfunstories. say at least 15 from the helicopter least 16 today total.