Saturday, January 03, 2004

Nedra, Nit-Pickler Free

An almost favorable Pickler article.

Dean Jewish Wife Watch

Cal Thomas:

Dean's wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering that the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus.

Advocating Genocide

I can't verify this, but I've seen a couple places that Michael Savage has been saying, with respect to giving aid to Iran's earthquake victims, something along the lines of "We are sending these people aid? It's unbelievable to me. We should be sending them smallpox infested blankets."

Is there anything that can get you kicked off talk radio?

A Promise Made is a Promise Kept

Bush was very fond of saying that to Veterans while on the campaign.

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is considering dramatic increases in the fees military retirees pay for prescription drugs, a step that would roll back a benefit extended 33 months ago and risk alienating an important Republican constituency at the dawn of the 2004 campaign season.

Pentagon budget documents indicate that retirees may be asked to pay $10 -- up from $3 -- for each 90-day generic prescription filled by mail through Tricare, the military's health insurance program. Tricare's current $9 co-pay for a three-month supply of each brand-name drug would jump to $20.

The proposal also would impose charges for drugs the retirees now receive free at military hospitals and clinics. There would be a $10 fee for each generic prescription and a $20 charge for brand-name drugs dispensed at those facilities.

A Pentagon spokesman declined Wednesday to comment on the drug plan, calling it "pre-decisional." But word of the proposal was being spread at the speed of light by veterans service organizations, who were urging their thousands of members to send calls and letters of protest to the White House and members of Congress.

Rent Control vs. Building Height Restrictions

For the record I think rent control is generally a very bad thing (one can make a case for much looser regulations which slow the rise of rents moderately , but let's ignore that for the moment). And, the record shows that rent control in New York (about the only place it exists at all) has been abysmal on both efficiency and equity grounds. That is, it was an extraordinarily expensive way to do very little to help people at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

But, Big Media Matt is quite right that in much of the country, including DC and New York, zoning regulations which prevent an increase in building heights have a much bigger impact on the (non)existence of relatively affordable housing. While rent control programs are an expensive way to do not too much for the poor, building height restrictions are an expensive way to do something (generally) for the relatively well off.

One could alleviate this problem while still having some respect for the very real issue of "neighborhood character." Walking around parts of New York a few weeks ago I saw plenty of examples where developers were allowed to build upwards and did so very poorly. Neighborhood character rarely has much to do with the existence or lack of tall buildings per se. They coexist rather nicely in my neighborhood for the most part. It is important to preserve street level access and retail, the original facade, the small "details" which make urban streetscapes interesting. This kind of thing can be done, though sadly it often isn't. For some reason local zoning boards rarely extract such concessions even though they're handing out a fairly valuable prize to developers. There are probably obvious reasons for that.

But, yes, generally - building up is the answer.

One Point per Day

Kerry continues his flameout in NH.

I really don't mean to bash Kerry so much. The reason I do is that I'm a former feeling-rather-let-down supporter.

Wingnut Theology

I'm no theologian, but this one struck me as particularly odd:

Jesus taught that unless you obey God’s Old Testament laws to the letter, you don’t have a fighting chance at getting into heaven.

Everyone should send this classic to Mr. "Darth" Grills at

More Religion

A commenter over at Ailes' place says rather succinctly something I've tried to explain with more words:

This is why some Dems feel like they have to stay distant from religion when they campaign. It's not because they don't have strong faith, it's that no matter what they do, it will never be the right way to hold that faith. They end up looking weak and worse, anti-God when they get sucked into that lose/lose argument.


States' Rights, RIP

Well, we always knew it was a bunch of crap anyway.

Shorter David Brooks


The Republican Party is truly truly horrible, but they are our only hope.

No Mixed Marriages

Yes, keep this up right wing. It's gonna work well. Linked from Townhall:

Howard Dean’s comments place him squarely in the “Jesus of convenience” camp. His wife and children are Jewish. Cool. But I have to wonder: if Howie’s faith in Jesus Christ is so important to him, why didn’t he marry someone with the same faith? Why didn’t he insist on raising his children in that faith? Say it with me, on three: because what faith Howard Dean has in Jesus isn’t central to his life.

(via Ailes)

Look forward to Dean's "Jewish wife and children" being brought up with increasing regularity.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Random Musing on Guns and Crime

Tim Lambert's always your one stop shop for all things John Lott, and for all things guns&crime. And, this may have been something he's addressed one or many times but I don't quite remember and it's been floating around my brain for awhile.

Anyway, John Lott claimed to show that "More Guns=Less Crime." As has been explained elsewhere, even if Lott's results were to be believed, they don't quite show this link anyway...

But, what defenders and attackers of Lott and/or his central thesis have mostly agreed with (at least the intelligent reasonable ones) is the fact that the current state of the literature seems to show that there isn't much of a relationship betwen guns and crime at all. It could be a bit positive, or a bit negative, or statistically insignificant. So, at first pass this admittedly is more of an anti-gun control result. If more guns don't lead to more crime, then there isn't really any compelling state interest in passing gun control measures, so...

What I do know is Lambert and others have pointed out is that there are serious problems with using the county level data used in the analysis. The specific problem is that the data is just bad. It's measured poorly, or contains what is called "measurement error." In other words, when the true underlying number is, say "100," there's a pretty big probability that the recorded data is "20" or "500." It's just noisy.

The thing about noisy data is that what it tends to do when one tries to estimate relationships between variables increase the likelihood that no relationship is found. Noisy data doesn't just reduce the precision of the estimate, it systematically biases the estimated relationship to 0. In other words, the estimate doesn't suggest that there is no relationship with any confidence- it's just a result of your data being crap.

The point is that if that's where the results are coming from, then it's more correct to say that "current research has lacked the appropriate data to adequately address the question" rather than "current research hasn't shown there to be a relationship either way."

Anyway, this may have been covered elsewhere, and it isn't meant to be a serious attack on Lott's, or anyone else's work, just an attack on the "standard interpretation" which seems to be floating around...

Also, I don't care much - guns really aren't my issue either way.

The Year Ahead

From Adam Felber.

Turn it Over

Las Vegas casinos and airlines ordered to turn over all guest/passenger information.


I have to say after more reflection I'm not sure I like the legal tactic outlined below - either on principled or practical grounds. As one commenter pointed out, it is essentially asking someone to give up their right to avoid self-incrimination. On practical grounds it doesn't really do anything - any journalist feeling (wrongly) bound by their duty to keep the source confidential isn't likely to drop a dime on the perp anyway.

Waive It

They should squeal anyway, but this is something:

FBI investigators looking into the criminal leak of a CIA agent’s identity have asked Bush Administration officials including senior political adviser Karl Rove to release reporters from any confidentiality agreements regarding conversations about the agent. If signed, the single-page requests made over the last week would give investigators new ammunition for questioning reporters who have so far, according to those familiar with the case, not disclosed the names of administration officials who divulged that Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson, worked for the CIA.

While irregular, the move is not unprecedented. Various officials were told from the start that such a request might be made. Along with the recusal this week of Attorney General John Ashcroft, this suggests that investigators are ready to enter the next stage of the probe. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been named special prosecutor to oversee the inquiry. The FBI has already extensively re-interviewed some White House officials using emails and phone logs from their search to press for the identity of the leaker. “They are taking this very seriously,” says one close to the case.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, says asking people who are in the universe of possible suspects to sign such a document is unusual, though not unheard of. "From the prosecutors' point of view, it is likely a precursor to subpoenaing journalists to testify before a grand jury, and then asking a judge to hold them in contempt if they refuse to do so," she noted.

A certain occupant of the White House would, if he gave a shit, strongly encourage them to sign.

Latest Poll

These numbers are pretty interesting (yes it's Drudge but I heard it on CNN too).

We have a hypothetical national election much as we have a hypothetical national primary, but both Dean and Lieberman are within the margin of error against Bush.

The other interesting thing is that if you remove Dean from the equation, his support seems to jump evenly (roughly) to the other candidates. I think Amurca hasn't yet gotten the message that this is a Dean/Clark race. Again, that's the mythical national primary and not the state-by-state battle (Actually, congressional district by congressional district battle) that really matters, but still.

Blog Over

Pat Robertson says God told him it would be Bush in a landslide. Oh well, that's it for me then.

Christ Converts to Islam

Just piss everyone off.

Fun with Code

Josh Marshall is teasing us with some not-so-subtle code. Just think about it for a bit... Took me 6 seconds.

Mark Kleiman also has some comments. He's a bit too sympathetic to the Sgt. Schultz defense.

Kerry Konfusion

Kos has the latest NH tracking numbers and some information the latest ad he's running there. It's pretty unbelievable really, after his little speech the other day chastizing Dean for being against the war that Kerry was either for or against depending on which day it is. If the ad is as they describe it's pretty incredible. I tried tracking down an ad transcript but haven't yet managed.

...found the ad. It really is pretty sleazy. "No child growing up in America today should ever have to go to war for oil." What the hell does that mean?

Media Narcissism Watch

Tim Noah wants nominations for his new media narcissism watch.

Got an example of media narcissism? E-mail it, under the subject heading "Narcissism," to Whenever possible, please provide a link to the source.

My friend Maia of Failure is Impossible suggests that we email Tim and nominate his wife, Marjorie Williams, for her recent column in the Post.



It is no solution to say, as some do, that it is a journalist's job to protect the identity of his or her sources and it is the government's job to expose them. This isn't a game. There is no invisible hand to guarantee that the struggle of competing forces will achieve the correct balance. Journalists ought to be concerned about national security, and government officials ought to be concerned about the First Amendment. When these interests conflict, those involved have an obligation to strike the balance for themselves.

The purpose of protecting the identity of leakers is to encourage future leaks. Leaks to journalists, and fear of leaks, can be an important restraint on misbehavior by powerful institutions and people. This serves the public interest. But there is no public interest in leaks that harm national security, or leaks that violate the law, or leaks intended to harm blameless individuals. There is no reason to want more of these kinds of leaks. So there is no reason to protect the identity of such bad-faith leakers.

From a distance, it smells as if the national-security hoop-de-do about the Valerie Plame leak is exaggerated. On the other hand, the personal malevolence and Borgia-like scheming behind the leak is impressive. I am not sure where I would come out on protecting the source of this leak. But it doesn't matter where I would come out because I don't know who the leakers were. Novak and others do know. They should either tell us who or tell us why not.

I don't agree with all of this but at least Kinsley is willing to break from the "protect your sources at all costs for any reason no matter what they tell you or try to tell you" nonsense. Kinsley doesn't know, and neither do I, what the national security impacts of Plame's outing are. Aside from any direct effects - destroying her career, endangering (or perhaps ending) the lives of her contacts, the destruction of existing intelligence operations/networks - there are also of course the indirect effects, not least of which is the chilling effect on anyone working as or willing to work with CIA operatives.

Leaks that violate the law aren't necessarily not in the public interest. A government which stamps classified on absolutely everything can effectively limit any access to information. So, not all classified leaks are created equal and leaks about a secret and rogue government would most definitely be in the public interest.

But, the basic point that Kinsley is making - that the government and the press are doing this silly dance based on false premises is correct. The only reason that the journalists involved aren't talking is because they're protecting their careers. Novak himself previously revealed the identity of the source when it became clear that the source had been involved with damaging national security.

There's a simple way out - one of the cold-called journalists can be an anonymous source to some other journalist. Every one in Washington "knows" who the culprits are (including, I would imagine, Michael Kinsley of Washington State) - they're just protecting the rest of us. It's bullshit.

Tort Reform Nonsense

Dwight Meredith has a bit of fun telling us about some actual facts.

1st Class Bull

Different screening lines for 1st class and coach passengers are just wrong. A 1st class ticket - paid to the airline - should not grant you better treatment by the airport.


NPR had a report about Pittsburgh's finances this morning. Short version - they're f'ed. One can't lay the blame on any particular thing - but one can lay it on two general things - a bunch of borrowing combined with a gradual erosion of the tax base. For years Pittsburgh has been basically exempting any big bizness that shows up from paying any taxes. Combined with the fact that the only commuter tax is only a flat $10, and a huge number of nonprofits don't pay any property taxes, what are they left with? City resident income taxes, residential property taxes, and... onerous small business taxes. So, big bizness is subsidized at the expense of small business. Suburban dwellers, who really do (Even more than many cities) use Pittsburgh city services, are subsidized at the expense of local residents.

Nothing short of a complete tax overhaul will save them.

Plame Update

Josh Marshall takes care of the latest spin and gives a well-deserved smack to the Post's Mike Allen who, for the record, is frequently pretty good.

Allen seems like a pretty good journalist to me, he just seems to me to be someone who can't quite get over the fact that he's surrounded by all these "stars" - and therefore tends to fall for their charms a bit too often.

Market Forces

Sisyphus Shrugged catches the Washington Post editorial board, in the advanced stages of CJD dementia, having a very odd view of "market forces."

not worthy of being fishwrap.

History Lesson

David Neiwert reminds us of the sad corrupt history of Joe Digenova, another proponent of the idiot defense. And, Liberal Oasis reminds us what the Grey Lady was saying about a certain independent prosecutor when he was first appointed.

Thursday, January 01, 2004



Mr. Dean's character will also come under attack. But this, too, will happen to any Democrat. If we've learned anything in this past decade, it's that the right-wing scandal machine will find a way to smear anyone, and that a lot of the media will play along. A year ago, when John Kerry was the presumptive front-runner, he came under assault — I am not making this up — over the supposed price of his haircuts. Sure enough, a CNN host solemnly declared him in "denial mode."

That's not to say that a candidate's qualifications don't matter: it would be nice if Mr. Dean were a decorated war hero. But there's nothing in the polling data suggesting that Mr. Dean is less electable than his Democratic rivals, with the possible exception of General Clark. Mr. Dean's rivals may well believe that he will lose the election if he is nominated. But it's inexcusable when they try to turn that belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let me suggest a couple of ground rules. First, while it's O.K. for a candidate to say he's more electable than his rival, someone who really cares about ousting Mr. Bush shouldn't pre-emptively surrender the cause by claiming that his rival has no chance. Yet Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kerry have done just that. To be fair, Mr. Dean's warning that his ardent supporters might not vote for a "conventional Washington politician" was a bit close to the line, but it appeared to be a careless rather than a vindictive remark.

More important, a Democrat shouldn't say anything that could be construed as a statement that Mr. Bush is preferable to his rival. Yet after Mr. Dean declared that Saddam's capture hadn't made us safer — a statement that seems more justified with each passing day — Mr. Lieberman and, to a lesser extent, Mr. Kerry launched attacks that could, and quite possibly will, be used verbatim in Bush campaign ads. (Mr. Lieberman's remark about Mr. Dean's "spider hole" was completely beyond the pale.)

The irony is that by seeking to undermine the election prospects of a man who may well be their party's nominee, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kerry have reminded us of why their once-promising campaigns imploded. Most Democrats feel, with justification, that we're facing a national crisis — that the right, ruthlessly exploiting 9/11, is making a grab for total political dominance. The party's rank and file want a candidate who is running, as the Dean slogan puts it, to take our country back. This is no time for a candidate who is running just because he thinks he deserves to be president.

Lost in the Mail

Tristero gets to go to all the cool parties. Guess my invitation was lost in the mail yet again.

Toensing to the Rescue!

Ah, the idiot defense:

CRAWFORD, Tex., Jan.1 -- The Justice Department investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity could conclude that administration officials disclosed the woman's name and occupation to the media but still committed no crime because they did not know she was an undercover operative, a legal expert said this week.

"It could be embarrassing but not illegal," said Victoria Toensing, who was chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence when Congress passed the law protecting the identities of undercover agents.

Of course, George W. Bush doesn't seem to agree:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 — President Bush said on Monday that the unauthorized disclosure of an undercover C.I.A. officer's identity was a "very serious matter" and "a criminal action" as the White House announced that at least 500 of its 2,000 employees had responded to a Justice Department demand for documents as part of an investigation into the source of the leak.

The announcement — and Mr. Bush's adamant words — reflected a tougher public approach by the White House to the leak, which has been attributed to senior administration officials. Democrats have criticized the administration for not treating the disclosure of the classified information more forcefully.

Media Quote of the Year, 2003

Name the author and who s/he's referring to.

Fat fucking slags.


One of the strangest lines of attack against Dean has been to go criticize him for daring to run as an outsider. Suddenly, the Democratic leadership which I and everyone else I know have been criticizing for the past couple of years for their rather ineffectual response to the Bush juggernaut have become sensitive sacred cows. Everyone's all a-twitter because Dean dares to criticize "Washington Democrats!" He gets chastised by our media for daring to criticize Bill Clinton (which he didn't really do anyway)! What a bizarro world we've entered.

Look, governors and other local politicians who first enter the national scene always run as "outsiders." They always rail against "Washington politicians." It is true that one difference is that Dean is aiming his attacks more specifically at his own party than at "politicians-in-general."

In any case, I think Blumenthal has a pretty good article in the Guardian explaining what Dean is doing. As he writes:

Since 1968, when Eugene McCarthy shocked President Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, the establishment candidate has been vulnerable to an insurgent. The case for strategic voting has without exception never worked. In 1992, Bill Clinton, under attack for evading the draft during the Vietnam war, was excoriated by his rival, Senator Bob Kerrey: "I'm not questioning (Clinton's) patriotism, but I guarantee Bush will in November," Kerrey warned. "The Republicans will exploit every weakness" and Clinton "will get opened like a soft peanut."

By calling attention to Dean's boldness (or rashness) without any effectual action of their own, Dean's rivals are underscoring his fusion of acceptable political credentials as the only governor in the race who is also the insurgent. They appeal to a mythical establishment to stop him, setting themselves up as the establishment. But the unions are split, with some of the most powerful backing Dean; African Americans have no obvious candidate, with many leaders backing Dean; elected officials are widely diffused, with many behind Dean; Al Gore has endorsed Dean; Jimmy Carter is quietly helpful; and the Democratic national committee is peripheral.

Yet Dean's opponents continue to promote him as the anti-establishment candidate, an image fitting Democratic voters' notion of the primaries: a referendum on their view of political reality. Why trust Bush and the Republicans, the conservative establishment ruling a one-party state?

The intensity among Democrats may appear to result from the debate over Iraq, but its roots go back to impeachment and Florida. Then, after 9/11, Bush betrayed the bipartisan consensus that had supported the Afghanistan war by smearing the congressional Democrats as unpatriotic. With that, in the 2002 midterm elections, he took back the Senate, rendering them impotent. The Democrats' illusion of good faith had disarmed them. They had behaved as though they were dealing with the elder Bush. Iraq, even for most rank and file Democrats who favoured the war to depose Saddam, is understood as an extension of the anti-constitutional strategy of the Republicans' ruthless exercise of power.

The sin of the "Washington Democrats" in the eyes of Democrats isn't simply their fecklessness; it's that they have appeared as appeasers. Whether Dean or another Democrat can win the war is another war. But the first requirement for becoming the wartime leader is to understand that there is a war.

Lieberman has declared that Dean is not in the mould of Clinton in 1992, as though attempting to repeat the past makes a New Democrat born again. But Dean's pragmatic strategy may be another version of that which Clinton adopted after he suffered the loss of the Democratic Congress in 1994. By defining his position apart from the rightwing Republicans and the "Washington Democrats", as he calls them, Dean has reinvented triangulation.

on a semi-related note, Buzzflash provides us with this blast from the '92 past.

The War on Tourism

I've heard many many stories, directly and second-hand, about Americans who are shocked, no SHOCKED, that there are ever any impediments to international travel. How dare they be required to obtain a Visa?!?!

Brazil is responding tit-for-tat to our requirement that their citizens get fingerprinted. This wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that Brazil is a rather large country and one must travel to the US Embassy to get fingerprinted - in advance.


Comrade Max talks about communism.

Happy New Year All

Chat away.

Sadly, the winning powerball ticket sold in Pennsylvania was not, actually, sold to me.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Everyone likes a winner. From casual observation it seems that both Clark's and Dean's fundraising speeded up after achieving their initial goals.

Blogspot Problems

This message is rather pointless as it won't reach the people it needs to reach, but plenty of people are having problems accessing this site and other sites hosted on As it only affects some people, I assume that one of their servers has "forgotten" where to find this site even as others are working fine.


The nice people at Haloscan informed me that the database from my old comments was corrupted and they'd fix it as soon as they get back from vacation. So, we're stuck with the 1000 character limit for a few more days...

Resolution for the New Year

After reading this and this, my blog-related resolution could only be to...

Ignore the moronic brownshirt fuck.

Southern Obsession

I too am tired of this obsession with Democrats and the South. It's a constant media theme, and at least when it comes to presidential politics (not the only thing I realize) it's really just irrelevant. A Democrat can *easily* win without winning a single Southern state.

It took me 5 seconds with an electoral vote calculator to come up with a winning group of states. Roughly from Left to Right - HI, WA, OR, CA, NV, NM, MN, WI, IL, MI, OH, WV, PA, NJ, DE, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME.

Are all those states a lock? Of course not. But, going by 2000 results they're all either a lock or within clear reach. Additional possible winners include - AZ, IA. That's all without the South (WV doesn't count).

Now, looking to the South the realistic possibilities, without doing anything substantially different, are Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and maybe, just maybe Kentucky (well, probably not).

Then of course there's Florida, which I left off because it annoys me so much. My election 2000 prediction was "whoever wins Florida will win." How wrong I was.

Big Media Matt's Insight

In a list of insights he's gained over the past year, he includes this one:

DC media: Incestuous. Congressional staff: Surprisingly uninterested in politics.

The first one we all know but the second one I think would surprise most people. In my not very vast experience with congressional staffers I've found it to be shockingly true.


Is there anything that the Washington Post editorial board feels the Democrats can actually, well, be political about? They're starting to make the WSJ editorial page look reasonable, and that's no mean feat.


I had a long post about what the falling dollar meant but Blogger ate it and I don't feel like rewriting it. But, the short version is that your European vacation just go more expensive, while American exports and tourism just got a lot cheaper. So, it's both good and bad depending - and neither good nor bad per se.

European investors are pretty bummed. Over the past year or so they've seen the value of any dollar-denominated fall substantially. The problem with investing in foreign assets is that you experience not just the underlying risk of the investment, you also experience exchange rate risk.

As for the longer run, negative effects on the US economy of a falling dollar would be more likely to be due to increased uncertainty about the currency and expectations of further falls, rather than the fact that it's fallen as far as it has. Market expectations are really key.

Countries which have pegged their currency to the dollar are also obviously affected.

...Steve Kyle brings up an additional issue, the possible replacement (full or partial) of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. If this happened rather slowly it wouldn't be such a big deal for the economy, though it may negatively affect our geopolitical dominance somewhat more. I seem to remember reading estimates somewhere that if this happened the Euro-zone would get a couple extra GDP points, so presumably roughly the inverse would happened to the US. Not that big of a deal. On the other hand, if this process were to happen rather quickly - and panic about the dollar set in (if the musings of the Yoshidas of the world were feared to be policy) - that could be, as they say, Bad.

Sweet Sweet Hate

The numbers don't lie. There's almost twice as much hate on the Right as on the Left. So, let's put the "hate-filled Left" idea to bed. Get a new storyline, oh honorable pundits.

Adjusted vs. Unadjusted

I've never spent any time looking into how the Labor department goes about calculating their seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers, but Seeing the Forest notes there's a huge gap in both the number, and more importantly the trend, of new unemployment claims.

I can't shed any additional light on what this means.

Pension Time Bomb

The inability of corporations to live up to their pension obligations is Yet Another Reason why we need a social insurance program. Don't give me any crap about "being able to control your own money" - your mutual fund company is just as likely to rip you off. We are talking about 40-60 year time periods here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Hillary Will be Indicted for Vince Foster's Murder

That and more wacky predictions from Safliar. At least he admits last year's predictions were, like everything else he writes, mostly hooey.

Onward to France!

Another manifesto.

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington.

In the battle for the president's ear, the manifesto represents an attempt by hawks to break out of the post-Iraq doldrums and strike back at what they see as a campaign of hostile leaking by their foes in such centres of caution as the State Department or in the military top brass.

Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coincided with the latest broadside from the hawks' enemy number one, Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

The book demands that any talks with North Korea require the complete and immediate abandonment of its nuclear programme.

As North Korea will probably refuse such terms, the book urges a Cuba-style military blockade and overt preparations for war, including the rapid pullback of US forces from the inter-Korean border so that they move out of range of North Korean artillery.

Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.

Bye bye Seoul.

Adopt a Journalist I

Someone has already adopted the New York Times's Jody Wilgoren.

Anyway, I'm not going to organize this but feel free to forward on links. I'll set up a special blogroll section.

...but, to add, ideally whoever does this shouldn't just be doing instant reaction. I'm thinking of archiving all of their work (on your hard drive - copyright and all), and really tracing through and providing context for all their work. This includes talking heads appearances, too.

Bob Novak Follies

Here's one:

According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives. So what is the fuss about, pure Bush-bashing?

And here's another:

The name of the CIA front company was broadcast yesterday by Novak, the syndicated journalist who originally identified Plame. Novak, highlighting Wilson's ties to Democrats, said on CNN that Wilson's "wife, the CIA employee, gave $1,000 to Gore and she listed herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates."

"There is no such firm, I'm convinced," he continued. "CIA people are not supposed to list themselves with fictitious firms if they're under a deep cover -- they're supposed to be real firms, or so I'm told. Sort of adds to the little mystery."

In fact, it appears the firm did exist, at least on paper. The Dun & Bradstreet database of company names lists a firm that is called both Brewster Jennings & Associates and Jennings Brewster & Associates.

Novak also put that one in his column, which newspapers ran.

Special Prosecutor

Ashcroft is appointing one in the Plame case.

Anyway, there's no way the investigators in this case, if they've been trying, don't know who the culprit(s) is/are. If they've questioned all top administration officials then whoever told the press would've told them. Whether they have enough evidence to prove it is another question.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General John Ashcroft will recuse himself from an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA operative, Justice Department sources said Tuesday.

The investigation will be headed by the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, who will report to Ashcroft's new deputy, James Comey, the officials said.

It was not immediately clear why Ashcroft made the decision.

Silly Ashcroft. Doesn't he know this whole thing is, in the words of one esteemed professor of law, "Bogus."

UPDATE: The Special Prosecutor has already issued his report - and the culprit is... Bill Clinton!


Breslin has a good column about Army Times's decision to run photos of all of the fallen.

And the dead are brought back here almost furtively. There are no ceremonies or pictures of caskets at Dover, Del., air base, where the dead are brought. "You don't want to upset the families," George Bush said. That the people might be slightly disturbed already by the death doesn't seem to register.

The wounded are flown into Washington at night. There are 5,000 of them and for a long time you never heard of soldiers who have no arms and legs. Then the singer Cher went into Walter Reed Hospital and came out and gave a report that was so compelling she should walk away with a Pulitzer Prize.

Finally, a couple of television stations and a newspaper here and there began to cover these things. There are miles to go.

For now, Cher, on one day, and the Army Times for the whole year, have served the nation as it should be served.

Here's a transcript of the Cher phone call to C-Span he's referring to.

...and here's the audio.


Steve Gilliard's right. It's time to take the gloves off.

Bob Somerby has documented enough atrocities far more serious than any Jayson Blair transgressions from many many beltway journalists. This coming year we can't let them get away with it.

We spend a lot of time focusing on the pundits, but it's really the journalists under the cover of "objectivity" who turned the '00 campaign coverage into a travesty.

We should have an "adopt a journalist" program. As Steve suggets, people should choose a journalist, follow everything they write, archive all their work, and critique and contextualize it where appropriate.

Top two to watch - Kit Seelye and Ceci Connolly.

Nedra Pickler Style Guide

It appears that the Nedra Pickler School of Journalism is in ascendance:

General Clark, the former supreme allied commander in Europe, received multiple decorations in his 34-year military career. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Mr. Clinton in 2000. The commercial does not mention that just months before that ceremony, Mr. Clinton's administration relieved General Clark of his command.

This is just silly. This article is a critique of the ad, and under the accuracy section it would be fair to point it out for context. But, the implied criticism is that Clark should have put this into the ad, which is just ridiculous.

Look for more Picklerisms from Spite Girl Kit Seelye.

Terrorist Alert

The FBI has issued a warning that anyone seen carrying a book such as this one should be considered a suspect.

Monday, December 29, 2003



Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch, a fit, driven, highly capable Army Ranger, left home in February knowing the risks of combat. Two months later, he came home blind.

A growing number of young men and women are returning from Iraq and trying to resume lives that were interrupted by war and then minced by injury. Sergeant Feldbusch, a moody 24-year-old, is one of them, back in a little town in western Pennsylvania, in a little house overlooking trees and snow-blanketed hills he cannot see.


During the two months Jeremy Feldbusch spent recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, his parents lived at his bedside. Charlene Feldbusch remembers one day seeing a young female soldier crawling past her in the corridor with no legs and her 3-year-old son trailing behind.

Ms. Feldbusch started to cry. But not for the woman.

"Do you know how many times I walked up and down those hallways and saw those people without arms or legs and thought, Why couldn't this be my son? Why his eyes?"


I suppose he can "look" on the bright side - he can always listen to instapundit.


Every now and then a pundit writes something which is so truly awful, so craptacular, so astoundingly horrible that even I can't muster up the righteous anger to write about it. Sure, the idiots over at Townhall and the likes of Krauthammer regularly spew such hateful idiotic crap on a daily basis, but we're used to that. The other day, David Broder defied all standards of decency and wrote such a column. It isn't that I'm a fan of David Broder - far from it. In fact, the "Dean" of the Beltway press corps has proven himself to be a despicable suckup to power for the decade or more I've been aware of his existence -- arrogant and ill-informed, passing off a toned-down version of Sally Quinn inanities as The Sensible Middle. But, nonetheless, this one threw me. Consider these paragraphs:

South Carolina has been struggling with an exodus of jobs. "We're winning the war in Iraq," the mayor says, "but we're losing to China and India." The last thing it needs is social strife that scares away investors and employers.

Luckily, Columbia has a lot going for it. A new convention center and hotel are under way. The university is expanding its research center and is designated as a national center for fuel-cell development. The old warehouse district has been revived and looks like Boston or San Francisco, with its apartments and restaurants.

Into this melange of past controversies and hopeful prospects stepped Essie Mae Washington-Williams. Had she spoken with anger about the hypocrisy of a man who espoused separation of the races but exploited a powerless young black woman sexually, she could have stirred the racial tensions never far below the surface. Instead, she spoke kindly of her father's outreach to her and the financial support he provided.

Ah, yes, those racial tensions. Those angry Negroes, with their simmering tensions never far below the surface. If only they could take Essie Mae as a model and just shut the fuck up.

Argh. I think I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

Anyway, David E. has some more appropriately intemperate remarks.


Bernard Chazelle, a Princeton professor who likely cavorts with his colleague and Mao disciple Paul Krugman, has an interesting essay on Bush foreign policy.


According to one poll about a third of Americans think Bush should be impeached over the Iraq lies. Oddly, that's about the same amount who thought Clinton should be impeached for lying about a stained dress.

Anyway, this is a comment on the media more than anything else. For months and years the media elite were flabbergasted about the fact that a couple lies about a blowjob didn't drive the country quite as insane as it drove all of them. We should be, they assured us and themselves, outraged by this fellatious behavior.

Almost as many people think that being lied to about a war is worthy of outrage. I guess it's a start.

Blast from the Past

So, I received an email earlier from a name which vaguely rang a bell - Evan Gahr. Evan was responding to this post from September, 2002. Quick version - Evan was and is a loyal movement conservative type who had the audacity to (correctly) criticize some comments by theocrat-in-chief Paul Weyrich for being anti-Semitic. He was promptly cast out of good conservative society and strongly chastized by people such as Mona Charen. This google cache of an article by Stanley Crouch pretty much explains it. Alterman also commented here.

In any case, Gahr had come upon the post rather randomly and he had wanted me to post this statement by Paul Weyrich which I had been previously unaware of:

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 also added a link to thist post from the original post in case anyone else happens on it.

No word on whether Mona Charen has changed her mind on things.

Of course, I'm not exactly sure how this is any better... but, there he is - Weyrich in his own words.

Dean Redux

While I roughly agree with Josh Marshall, it should be pointed out that by the standard he uses none of the major candidates have paid the price of admission. Their failure to raise their hands when asked if Dean was "electable," and Kerry's and Lieberman's regular return back to the issue of Dean's "electability" all make the case that people who would support them wouldn't vote for Dean.

As far as I know, Dean is the only one who keeps getting asked this basic question. He has said he wouldn't run as a 3rd party candidate and he has said that he would support the nominee whoever it was. While I wrote yesterday that I didn't like what Dean had said, it's also the case that the other candidates thus far have failed to communicate this basic minimum degree of unity.

It's actually a much more interesting question to ask of the non-frontrunners than the frontrunner. Maybe it's been asked, but I missed it. be clear, it's a stupid Heather gotcha question, but if it's going to be asked...

Comments Back

A few people wrote in to let me know that Haloscan was only not working for me. They apparently deleted my account from their system for some reason. Anyway, the good news is they're back for now. The bad news is that all old comments are at least temporarily unavailable. Oh, and for now, the 1000 character limit has returned...

First They Came For the Farmers...


Wilentz v. Hitchens Part Deux

That's gotta hurt.

... this is good too.

On Their Own

Our soldiers had better not be asked to lift a finger to help these people if they find themselves in any trouble.

American Christian missionaries have declared a "war for souls" in Iraq, telling supporters that the formal end of the US-led occupation next June will close an historic "window of opportunity".

Organising in secrecy, and emphasising their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to "save" Muslims from their "false" religion.

Mission from god: Jon Hanna and Jackie Cone after they visited Iraq
The International Mission Board, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptists, is one of those leading the charge.

John Brady, the IMB's head for the Middle East and North Africa, this month appealed to the 16 million members of his church, the largest Protestant denomination in America.

"Southern Baptists have prayed for years that Iraq would somehow be opened to the gospel," his appeal began. That "open door" for Christians may soon close.

"Southern Baptists must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq," his bulletin added, listing Islamic leaders and "pseudo-Christian" groups also flooding Iraq as his chief rivals.

Comments Down

I assume they'll return.

Devastated by Wild Pres


No Turkee for Ricks

This stuff really is pretty unbelievable:

When George Bush’s Pentagon doesn’t like what a reporter writes, it attempts a preemptive strike.

In the case of Tom Ricks, military reporter for the Washington Post, the Pentagon took the attack right to the heart of the enemy. Defense Department spokesman Larry DiRita first sent a letter of complaint to the Post; then he met with the paper’s top editors to press his points.

Ricks is one of the most senior defense reporters in the country. He covered military affairs for the Wall Street Journal for 17 years and has been doing the same for the Post since 1999. He’s written two books about the military, one about the Marines and a novel about the US intervention in Afghanistan, published four months before the United States sent in troops.

In his more than two decades covering the military, Ricks has developed many sources, from brass to grunts. This, according to the current Pentagon, is a problem.

The Pentagon’s letter of complaint to Post executive editor Leonard Downie had language charging that Ricks casts his net as widely as possible and e-mails many people.

Details of the complaints were hard to come by. One Pentagon official said in private that Ricks did not give enough credence to official, on-the-record comments that ran counter to the angle of his stories.

Somebody should send Ricks a turkee mousepad.

Nerd Pickles

It lacks her byline, but this has to be a Pickler special.

Beef Futures

Anyone know why they limit the amount that beef future prices can fall in a given day? I understand curbs in the stock market due to automatic program trading, but have no idea why they'd restrict beef futures price changes.

Who Would've Thunk It

A church being becoming more tolerant could actually encourage new members to join.

The Worst Places in America

Calpundit brings our attention to Money Magazine's list of Best Places to Live.

I'll spare you my rant about this issue. nice thing about living in the city is one can usually find open WiFi access somewhere. I'm at the Starbucks at (censored) if anyone wishes to come find me.

Brownshirt States of America

Adam Yoshida, who loves to spam me, gives his vision of Utopia.

Not so different from William Lind's.


Dollar still slipping.

The Lieberman Campaign

Could anything more perfectly demonstrate how far up its metaphorical ass its metaphorical head is?

Want to Know About Anthrax?

Don't bother reading this story. It's by Judith Miller.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Dean Endorses Clark

Well, not really, but there's only one other non-conventional Washington Politician running.

If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go?" he said during a meeting with reporters. "I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."


Dean repeatedly has said he would endorse the eventual Democratic nominee and urge his supporters to do the same. But he said there are limits to the practical impact of his endorsement.

"That's not transferable. That's why endorsements are great but they don't guarantee anything," Dean said.

But, joking aside, yellow flag against Dean. The "electability" issue should be off the table, mostly. "I can beat George Bush" is fine. "The other guys can't" is not. This article over-spins what Dean was saying, but I'd prefer something more along the lines of "If I don't get the nomination I'll do anything and everything in my power to put whatever resources I've marshalled behind the candidate who will go head to head against Bush. I plan to devote 2004 for that purpose full time no matter who the nominee is." instead of "I'm worried my fans will take their balls and go home." more comment. There are two things here - one reasonable one not. The idea that Dean supporters, on masse, would stay home on election day in November '04 is either completely false or completely disturbing. In any case, I don't believe it and I'm pretty annoyed that Dean would suggest it. The more I think about it the more annoyed I am. The issue of endorsement transferability is more mild - the obvious point is that the Dean grass roots Campaign Machine isn't necessarily transferable.

The undeniable statement is that any one of these candidate may be more or less likely to inspire any particular voter to go out and vote for them. But, the candidates should at every step encourage their hard core supporters - the ones who are even paying any attention to this nonsense in December '03 - to vote, donate to, and volunteer time to support whoever the nominee is. Any rhetoric which deliberately or not undercuts this idea should be off the table. And, any hard core supporter who wouldn't at least notionally embrace that idea should go to the mirror and start chanting "FOUR MORE YEARS!" for an evening.

In my silly little world, 10 candidates (yes, you too Bob Graham), spend 2004 campaigning, for the winner, with equal fervor as the candidate himself (sorry Ambassador Braun). Yes, I know that's not really going to happen, but the idea of that shouldn't be so ridiculous.

The Coming Year

Right wing columnists have already hit an almost hysterical pitch. This is going to be the nastiest year in media/politics in my conscious lifetime. So, get ready...

And they say we're the hate-filled party...

Spin Recycled

Swopa notes that the AP is getting 5 month old spin.

Comrade Max notes that there isn't much daylight between George Bush and Dennis Kucinich with respect to Iraq - at least if we limit ourselves to the issues which actually get discussed in the media.

All's Fair

Kos has an interesting post on the impact of the ubiquitous cell phone on the Iowa Caucus process.

I see nothing wrong about such strategic maneuvering per se, but I'm not entirely clear on the expected result. Iowa and New Hampshire don't matter nearly as much as they pundits all pretend they do so that they can direct their media operations at 2 states and ignore the rest. It's the next set of states which really seems to matter. A win in Iowa and NH followed by a thrashing the following Tuesday would actually be a signal that it might be time to drop out, while the reverse would clearly be seen as a big "come from behind" win.

...just an additional comment. I don't yet think Dean is inevitable, but with each passing day, for better or for worse, I think that inevitability becomes more likely. I do think some people, myself included, are a bit too quick to jump on every tactic of his opponents as being of the "circular firing squad" variety. Not all criticisms of your rivals or campaign tactics will have the net effect of bringing the whole party down a notch or two. But, the types of criticisms which can have that effect - and since Dean is the perceived frontrunner they are directed at him - are the ones which play into the standard Media Stereotypes about Democrats. Immoral, overly secular, soft on crime, soft on defense, unelectable, gonna raise your taxes, and inconsistent. The last two are a bit of a grey area of course. A candidate can genuinely be inconsistent, which should be fair game, or they can be inconsistent if one is Nit Russerting or Nit Picklering.* I expect Russert and Pickler to do this kind of thing, but not the candidates. Raise your taxes is a grey area too. The truth is every candidate - including George Bush - come '05 or '06 at the latest is going to "raise taxes." The only question is which taxes and who will bear the brunt. With Bush it could be the indirect "Bush tax" - massive increases in state and local taxes following massive Federal spending cuts - but it won't be any smaller. Spending as a percentage of GDP isn't going to fall. So, it's fair to say that your tax plan which, say, preserves the child tax credits of the "Bush tax cuts" is better for "working families" than is Dean's as long as you don't pretend that "Dean will raise taxes" while you won't.

*Nit Russerting being the repeated assault onto an Democratic interview subject of pairs of out of context quotes, combined with calls to resolve the perceived (by Russert) inconsistencies to his satisfcation. Nit Picklering being the writing of news stories admonishing Democratic candidates for daring to not explain their own inconsistencies, as demonstrated by Nedra Pickler by the inclusion of some utterly irrelevant detail.

Centcom Follies

Centcom used to post their casualty reports on the front pages with the rest of their news releases. Then they moved it to a separate page, and put the link to it down at the bottom of the main page. It's actually a form - you can change the number of days back for which you'd like to see reports. Clicking on the casualties link used to bring up the report with a default of "5 days," after which you could change the number and get a different report. Now the link defaults, at least for me, to 1 day.

World O' Limbaugh

World O' Crap tells us what Roy Black should be telling his client.

Bad George Will

Bad Washington Post:

The columnist George F. Will is mistaken that he did not need to reveal, in a March column in which he defended Conrad M. Black's political views on Iraq, that Mr. Black had paid him a $25,000 per diem to attend an advisory group that Mr. Black organized.

When a syndicated journalist writes favorably about a benefactor, that is very much the business of Mr. Will's editors and readers.

The code of ethics of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, the organization of editorial page editors and writers, puts it plainly: "The writer should be constantly alert to conflicts of interest, real or apparent, including those that may arise from financial holdings, secondary employment, holding public office or involvement in political, civic or other organizations. Timely public disclosure can minimize suspicion. Editors should seek to hold syndicates to these standards."


Longboat Key, Fla., Dec. 23, 2003
The writer is former editor of the editorial page of The Des Moines Register and former chairman of the professional standards committee of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

Peeance, Freeance

Here's one I can't explain. Dubyaspeak has this audio clip.

Small Victory, Perhaps

But these people are absolutely insane:

In a press release yesterday, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a government-watchdog group, said that because of pressure from conservative groups, the National Park Service agreed to remove from the tape all scenes depicting gay and abortion rights rallies. "The Park Service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said in the release.

But today that story has changed. "We have been assured that they are redoing the tape, but are not stripping out scenes of gay and lesbian events at the Lincoln Memorial, because to do so would be historically inaccurate," said Winne Stachelberg, political director at the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group. Stachelberg told the Network that National Park Service Chief of Public Affairs, David Barna, made those reassurances to her this morning.

"It certainly sounds as if the park service is getting pressure from right-wing extremists groups to drop images of the gay community and add other images," Stachelberg added.

As part of its update, the National Park Service plans to add scenes including rallies by the Promise Keepers, a fundamentalist Christian men's group, and by pro-life groups to the video.

To do so, however, may not be historically accurate after all. Those rallies did not occur at the Lincoln Memorial or even on the nearby Mall, said Bill Line, a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

Why don't they just have the whole video be of footage from the Crystal Cathedral, if they're going to be showing footage of things which have absolutely nothing to do with the Lincoln Memorial.