Saturday, January 17, 2004

preznit not giv freedmun turkee

I'm sure he'll apologize in his next column.

Class Action

It looks to me that some greedy lawyers should get a suit together:

Northwest Airlines provided information on millions of passengers for a secret U.S. government air security project soon after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, raising fresh concerns among some privacy advocates about the airlines' use of confidential consumer data.

The nation's fourth-largest carrier publicly asserted in September that it "did not provide that type of information to anyone." But Northwest acknowledged Friday it had already turned over three months of reservation data to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center by that point.

Northwest is the second carrier to have been identified as secretly passing travelers' records to the government. The airline industry has publicly said it would not cooperate in development of a new government computer passenger screening program because of concerns the project would infringe on customer privacy. But the participation of two airlines in separate programs underscores the industry's clandestine role in government security initiatives.

Whether or not it was within their legal rights to disclose the information, it seems that a public denial qualifies as fraud.

Super Bowl

OKay, I had this crazy idea to encourage some fundraising - some gentleman's bets between my readers (voluntarily). I'm not quite sure how to implement it, and obviously I'd have no enforcement powers over the whole affair, but my idea went something like this...

We could get people betting for or against one team and the loser has to "pay" with a donation to... ?

The neutral opportunity is the DNC, but perhaps we could do it more broadly than that. We could have people donating X bucks to their favorite candidate, or whatever...

Anyway, just throwing the general idea out there. Suggestions on how to do it welcome and then maybe I'll try and organize it.

Swing Voters and Nonvoters

One of the issues floating around is whether a candidate should try and appeal to swing voters or try to appeal to new or previous nonvoters. See Calpundit and Big Media Matt. Without parsing the particulars of the comments posted there let me just give my thoughts.

First, I think there's a tendency to equate "nonvoters" with the extremes of either party - the sense that the "base" will only come out to vote if they're inspired, otherwise they get petulant and vote for Nader or Buchanan or don't vote at all. I really don't buy this at all. My guess is that if we, under threat of imprisonment, forced people to vote on election day that it would favor Democrats. But, I don't think that this is because nonvoters tend to be "on the left." Given my conversations with people, it's the mushy apolitical middle people which aren't very likely to vote (anecdotal, sure, but I don't think there's any way to really get the true answer to this question). So, getting out the vote isn't just about appealing to the fringes, it's probably more about inspiring the mushy middle not just to make a choice but to actually express it.

As for what this means for which Dem candidate should be nominated - I think all such conversations are silly. The positions of the candidates on the "left/right" spectrum as portrayed by the media have little to do with their actual policy goals. Perception matters, of course, but there are many months to deal with that (every Dem candidate will be a Stalinist by November you can be sure). In the end, it's going to be charisma, organization, and an ability to deal with the media hostility which will matter.

... and read Zizka who inspired this whole discussion.


I'm not one to watch movies over and over again, but for some reason I pop this one in fairly regularly for a bit of background watching.


It's really quite fascinating that Grover "Estate Tax is like the Holocaust" Norquist would be opposed to a reduction in the payroll tax. Given what we think we know about what motivates him, I honestly find it slightly strange. Only slightly, maybe, and maybe only that because I give him too much credit, but I would've thought Grover would've leapt at the opportunity to starve the Social Security beast. Sure, the suggested proposal would repay any losses out of general revenue, but that's just an accounting trick on top of an accounting trip which could easily be removed. But, perhaps Grover's pathological hatred of government is simply outmatched by his desire to help his rich buddies.

Remember, SS taxes are 6.25% of payroll (paid by employee) up to $87,000 of income. Given current marginal tax rates, this means that single filers who make between $68K and $87K are paying a higher marginal tax rate than those making between $143K and $311K. This discounts the employer contribution, the effect of which can't be simply stated but nonetheless effects the employee wage as well.

Not quite as obscene as the Bush I era middle class tax "bubble," but still pretty sad. Factor in all the high income tax shelters...

But, back to Grover. One would like to think that as a true believer his goal would be to decrease government revenue any way possible. I'm almost disappointed in the dude.

In Local News

Yet another anti-gay zealot convicted for sex crimes...

Anyway, just so we're on the same page here I don't consider attempting to have sex with post-pubescent adolescents of either sex to be "child molestation" or "pedophilia" (though of course the legal definition may be depending on the state). A lot of the confusion surrounding the catholic church scandals involved people (often deliberately) conflating the rather different crimes.

But, in any case, it's hard not to conclude that so many of the anti-gay freaks are really trying to suppress their own desires. People who are genuinely straight don't talk about the "temptation" of gay sex acts. A lot of these people have to either be gay or bisexual and have just made their internal battle an external one.


Dear Maureen

I'm sorry Howard Dean left you at the altar like Michael Douglas did. As they say, if you keep doing what you're doing you'll keep getting what you got.




This is the kind of thing which gets the Christian Right and their fellow anti-American agitators upset.

Blah Blah Blah

Nobody. Not me. Not the Dnc, not the DLC, not the RNC, not the Club for Growth, not the KKK, not the corpse of LBJ, not David Brooks, not J. Chait, not the Daily Kos, not the Poor Man, not Mark Kleiman, not Gillespie, not Dickey Cheney, and not anyone else knows "who the democratic candidate the repbulicans most fear" is.

All such speculation is silly. Stop granting the opponents godlike knowledge about the upcoming battle. They're as clueless as the rest of us. They don't have a preferred candidate. Stop interpreting every utterance by Drudge as evidence that Candidate X is the One They Want To Fight. It's silly.

We all have opinions, but as they say...

Friday, January 16, 2004


The Rittenhouse Review has been demonstrating the fact that it possesses a greater degree of creativity than the department of homeland security.

Happy MLK Day

Last year on Martin Luther King's birthday, Bush celebrated by giving a speech in which he flat out lied about the University of Michigan affirmative action program(a bit of timing completely ignored by the press). This year, on the day after (better or worse timing?), he celebrated by installing Charles Pickering onto the bench.

Hubble Killed

Bruce Garrett informs us that the Hubble servicing mission has been canceled.

...I'm a bit of a space geek, but these idiots on NPR right now are enough to turn me off the whole thing. Fantasyland.

Liberal Radio

I'm glad there's an effort to get more liberals on the radio, but I honestly don't like the way they're going about it. They shouldn't, for the most part, be signing Names, they should be signing people with experience in radio. Radio is a unique medium which takes special skills. 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, is a pretty big challenge.

Anyway, here's the latest news:

WNTD-AM (950), a Spanish-language station that is in the process of being sold by Radio Unica Communications to Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, will carry the new talk radio network, under terms of a local marketing agreement announced Tuesday.

Progress Media has an option to buy WNTD once Multicultural Radio Broadcasting officially closes on its deal, sources said.

"It is an extremely significant event for Progress Media to have clearance in the third-largest media market in the country," said Jon Sinton, president of the network. "Combined with other markets we are close to finalizing, Progress Media will have tremendous reach right out of the box."

The network also announced that it has signed comedian and author Al Franken to host a three-hour weekday talk show, and signed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio to host a show about "the inner workings of corporations and how they influence our daily lives."

Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications, will host a talk show about the news media.

Franken, who has established himself as one of the country's leading conservative-bashers, said: "My first priority is to get sued by a right-wing jerk in order to generate interest in my new show, 'The O'Franken Factor.' Our hope is to do drug-free talk radio, although I understand it's never been done.

We need populism, not a "liberal version of NPR." So far, not so good...

News Aggregators

I ran one for awhile, stopped, and now am thinking it'd be good to run one again. Anyone want to recommend one?

Dollar Follies

The Euro is steadily retreating from previous highs. But, this Buttonwood column in the latest Economist is enough to give Adam Yoshida his final psychotic break.

Japan’s foreign-exchange reserves now amount to $674 billion, more than any other country has ever amassed, and far more than could be needed to guard against the sorts of things that forex reserves are traditionally used for, such as having the wherewithal to pay bills in extremis to foreign creditors. No, the Bank of Japan, unlike John Snow, America’s treasury secretary, really does believe in a strong dollar policy and is prepared to put its money where its mouth is. As, indeed, have central banks almost everywhere in Asia, not least China’s. The region’s foreign-exchange reserves now amount to $1.8 trillion, a tidy sum. Together with Japan’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China financed half of America’s current-account deficit last year. But they are buying assets in a currency that is steadily losing its worth as a store of value, which should presumably be set against any possible advantages for their exporters.

This unprecedented situation is neatly described by David Bowers, a strategist at Merrill Lynch, as the “mother of all vendor-financing deals”. In essence, Asian central banks are lending Americans cheap money (via their purchases of Treasury bonds) to buy Asian products. Mercantilism, it is clear, is alive and well. Thus, in one sense, have Asian countries ignored the lessons of their financial crisis in 1997-98, which erupted in large part because they tried to peg their currencies to the dollar to keep exports strong—and damn the long-term consequences.

Those consequences are becoming increasingly clear, starting in China, which has a fixed exchange rate. All those Treasuries it has been buying have to be converted into the yuan, the local currency. This boosts the country’s money supply and causes inflation. Speculation in one form or another, notably in property, is rife—the last thing a country with an already shaky financial system needs.

As goes China, so goes the rest of the region. At what point does a healthy dose of reflation become another bubble? At some point, it will start to dawn on Asian countries that domestic demand and exports to one another are just as important as exporting to America, and they will stop intervening. That will probably mean that their currencies appreciate against the dollar—though that is far from certain.

...I've always been a bit curious about libertarians' (small l) takes on both central banks and currency market interventions...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Captain Oveur

Haha. The best take on Lileks.

[W]henever I read a passage by Lileks it seems like it should be read in the voice of Captain Oveur from the first Airplane (Flying High) movie: "Joey, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?"

Another Assault on Journalism

You'd think eventually the folks at CNN would learn to not report things they pull of Drudge without doing some checking.

On the other hand, who's stopping them...

Latest Polls

It looks like what we're seeing is an "anybody but the frontrunners" movement coming alive. We now have a 4 way race in Iowa.

Torture Lou


Campaign Desk

CJR is doing media crit. on the campaign. Looks pretty good so far.



WASHINGTON - Flush with cash, the Republican National Committee (news - web sites) is ready to spend in elections from statehouses to the White House this year while its Democratic rival is still at its starting point, trying to raise enough to help its presidential nominee compete.

The parties' bankrolls as 2004 began offer a striking look at the effect sweeping new campaign finance restrictions are having on them. The RNC had three times more cash on hand than the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites): $33.1 million, compared with about $10 million for the DNC.

In the presidential race, each committee can spend roughly $16 million in coordination with its nominee, along with the candidates' own fund raising. While the RNC has all it needs for that and more, the DNC has $10 million raised and about $6 million to go.

McAuliffe expects it will be late March before the DNC accumulates that funding. That means the general-election season will be getting under way just as the DNC starts raising money for TV ads, get-out-the-vote drives and other non-presidential-specific spending.


Take Him Out

No surprise here.

Richard Haass, Powell's head of policy planning, resigned when it became clear that Bush demands for Iraqi disarmament were only a pretext for war.

Haass, now head of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls Iraq a war of "choice," not "necessity." He recounts a meeting with NSC director Condoleezza Rice in July 2002, two months before Iraq hit the headlines and three months before Bush went to the U.N. Security Council putatively to seek a resolution on Iraqi disarmament.

As head of State's policy planning, Haass' mission to the NSC was, he says, to discuss "the pros and cons" of escalating toward war with Iraq. Says Haass: "Basically, she (Rice) cut me off and said, 'Save your breath – the president has already decided what he's going to do on this.' "

That was 18 months after O'Neill heard the first Cabinet discussions on Saddam Hussein's removal, in January 2001. Those discussions began eight months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Bush cited as a primary cause for invading Iraq. In October 2002, at the United Nations, Bush cited Iraq's "imminent threat" to America because of its weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

Protesters in Atlanta

From what I've been told, there are people in Atlanta who are refusing to obey police and leave the area so that Bush can go lay a wreath at MLK's crypt without having to actually see anyone.

Apparently, CNN, based in Atlanta, is unable to get a camera there. Odd - they always have cameras at Bush's appearances.

Hitler in the Good Old Days

Ah, memory...

For example, retiring Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho), commenting on one of Clinton's national monument designations, said, "This president is engaging in the largest land grab since the invasion of Poland."

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) went a bit further a couple of weeks ago when Clinton designated Arizona's Ironwood Forest a national monument. "I would draw a parallel to Hitler," Shadegg said. "He eroded the will of the German people to resist evil."

Our favorite is Arkansas Republican Rep. Jay Dickey's recent fundraising letter reminding supporters they can give him $1,000 for the primary and another $1,000 in the general election campaign. He doesn't want anyone to "later . . . say to me that I should have reminded you of the threats," he said.

"Just as people who read Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' and then later were surprised at the evils of the 3rd Reich [sic]," Dickey said, "we have the blueprint for what the White House plans to do: defeat me! This is because I not only dared to vote my conscience on the impeachment issue, but dared to do it after a publicly expressed threat that I would lose the election if I did. Are we going to let an astounding abuse of power go unanswered?"

Clark and the War

Wesley Clark's main problem is that during the runup to and in the early stages of the war in Iraq, he wore many hats. He was a private citizen, a CNN war analyst , a former general, etc... Josh Marshall is right that he's getting unfairly drudged, but on the other hand I think it's a bit much for him to claim to be an "anti-war candidate." Of course, arguably Dean wasn't necessarily as "anti-war" as he now claims either, but he came around to that point, and started saying it loudly, a bit earlier.

It's clear that Clark was pretty dubious about the whole thing from the beginning, and he also said as much many times. On the other hand, he wasn't being particularly vocal about it in a simple way. He didn't say loudly and clearly "we should not go to war at this time," and make his position known.

If you think Clark isn't the kind of guy who would have brought us into Iraq under those circumstances you're right. On the other hand, one can't credit him for standing up and making that crystal clear at the time either. He was a CNN war analyst, and wasn't really able (by his choice) to do so.

I don't think it matters much, really, and the battle to have the best anti-war street cred is sort of silly. Everyone, including myself, had somewhat evolving opinions as new information came in. I wasn't actually in knee-jerk opposition myself, though I came around to that conclusion fairly early. Lots of people thought the war could be the right thing under certain circumstances, and it wasn't clear until the very end precisely what the circumstances of that war would be. Being notionally for it in October and then choosing to be against it in March isn't necessarily a flipflop. Being for the "ideal war" and against the real one is a perfectly fair position.

Dean gets credit for making his position clear and loud relatively early. Whether that's important or not is up to primary voters to decide.

And, hey, if John Kerry wins I'm going to have to retract all the bad things I said about his campaign...

Serbia Flashback

Of course, Bill Schneider never bothered to look at what Bush was saying about Serbia at the time:

ENGTH: 1287 words

In the Presidential Race, Hopefuls Split Over Attacks



Republican Presidential hopefuls are deeply divided over whether the United States should play any role in Serbia, and most accused President Clinton of a misguided foreign policy that led to this country's entanglement there.

In interviews and public statements, about half the contenders said they support the bombing. They are Senator John McCain of Arizona; Elizabeth Dole, the former president of the American Red Cross; Steve Forbes, the publishing magnate, and former Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Those who opposed American involvement are former Vice President Dan Quayle; Representative John R. Kasich of Ohio; Senator Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire; Patrick J. Buchanan, the conservative commentator, and Gary Bauer, the religious conservative.

The early favorite for the Republican nomination, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, was the last contender to stake out a position, and his is the most nuanced. Mr. Bush said American troops deserve full support, but he stopped short of endorsing or condemning the decision for air strikes.

"Now that the President has committed to use force, I hope he will do so decisively and successfully," Mr. Bush said in his statement, adding that "the ultimate question is: will this military action lead to the goal of ending the conflict and bringing peace and stability to the region?"

Mr. Bush and Mrs. Dole, who lead the Republican field in the early polls, were the only contenders who declined to be interviewed to discuss their positions. Mrs. Dole issued only a brief statement, saying the President's action "can be instrumental in forging a peaceful solution to a dangerous, escalating military conflict." Mr. Bush, in addition to his statement, took questions about the matter at a news conference in Texas on Thursday.

While Mr. Bush and Mrs. Dole were careful not to criticize Mr. Clinton, most other Republicans on both sides -- after offering their support for Americans sent into action -- showed no hesitation to fault the Administration.

Governor Bush released a statement only after some candidates criticized him for not being forthcoming. "This is about war and peace and life and death," Mr. Buchanan said of Mr. Bush. "I don't think you can declare a moratorium on discussing matters of this magnitude if you presume to lead the United States of America into the 21st century." Mr. Buchanan said he opposed American involvement because "this is an ugly civil war on the Balkan peninsula where no vital American interests are engaged."

At his news conference, Mr. Bush was vague when asked whether he agreed with Mr. Clinton's rationale for the bombing. "My question is, 'Is it good for America?' " he asked. "And that'll be the question I'll ask should I end up being the President. Right now as Governor, I'm going to go figure out how to get a tax cut through."

Is Bush a hypocrite? No, just a REPUBLICAN.

(switched title to Serbia, which is less ambiguous...)

Fire Bill Schneider

I agree with Jesse Berney. This was a total outrage.

Contact CNN's Washington Bureau at 202-898-7900 and ask when their independent poll analyst is going to apologize for equating Democrats and hypocrites.

...some people seem to think that Schneider's clever rhetorical trick where he says:

SCHNEIDER: President Bush can claim consistency. Does Governor Dean's support for Bosnia and Kosovo, and his opposition to Iraq, make him a hypocrite? No. It makes him a Democrat -- Judy.

somehow gets Schneider off the hook. Look, the whole point of this segment is to demonstrate that the steely-eyed rocket man is consistent because he supports wars regardless of the party of the person in charge, while Dean only supports wars run by Democrats. Of course, such a stance is intrinsically hypocritical - in fact, Dean isn't just a hypocrite, he's a DEMOCRAT, so all Democrats are hypocrites because they put politics above consistency. See?

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congrats to the 343K new jobless, and to the 1K we neglected to include last week.

Not horrible news, but not, as the media would spin it, anything approaching good news either.

Dear Maureen,

I'm sorry that the Michael Douglas thing didn't work out. I know it troubles you that other people manage to have successful happy marriages. Oh well.



Dennis Miller Now and Then

Dennis Miller Now:

"Well, can you blame me? One of the biggest malfeasances of the left right now is the mislabeling of Hitler. Quit saying this guy is Hitler," he said, referring to Mr. Bush. "Hitler is Hitler. That's the quintessential evil in the history of the universe, and we're throwing it around on to win a contest. That's grotesque to me."


Indeed, Miller was especially merciless in bashing Gingrich. Many of his anti-Newt quips compared the House Speaker to Adolf Hitler ? and, by extension, portrayed the GOP Congress as a sinister collection of would-be brownshirts. For example, in his opening monologue on December 23, 1994, Miller joked that Gingrich's forthcoming book would "be available through the Mein Kampf of the Month Club." A few weeks later, he announced the post-election transfer of power on Capitol Hill as follows: "Gingrich and the Republicans took over Congress this week. This is actually Gingrich's second attempt to seize power, the first, of course, being the ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch."

And, for media types who are getting all touchy about Hitler comparisons, may I suggest clicking on this link.

I could spend all day finding bloggers who are all "upset" about Move On, and who have been motivated to call ADL over it, and who regularly use the word "Hitlery."

Rush Limbaugh regularly calls her ""Hitlery."

Neil Boortz regularly calls her "Hitlery.

...The Hamster has a whole bunch of Miller/Nazi quotes.

Poll Rigging?

Seraphiel writes in:

I noticed something interesting about that poll...
I was refreshing the page a few times and noticed that the second response, the one they "wanted," was inreasing abnormally.
So I checked the source code and saw this (html tags fixed with () to make it clearer)
(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="149" class="radio") The world is actually in worse condition, and Saddam should still be in power because the U.S. acted rashly.(br)

(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="148" class="radio") Better off now that the U.S. is upholding U.N. resolutions and holding Saddam accountable for his actions.(br)

(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="150" class="radio") The condition of the world is the same now as it was before the war in Iraq.(br)


Notice here that the first and second answers have their "pollanswer" value in reverse order, 149 and then 148.
So I checked Google's cache (praise be to Google) and found this:
(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="148" class="radio") The world is actually in worse condition, and Saddam should still be in power because the U.S. acted rashly.(br)

(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="149" class="radio") Better off now that the U.S. is upholding U.N. resolutions and holding Saddam accountable for his actions.(br)

(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="150" class="radio") The condition of the world is the same now as it was before the war in Iraq.(br)
They simply switched which item each button votes for, so all the votes for the "wrong" answer end up being for the one they want.
How, er, responsible of our elected representatives.

Here's the poll in question.

UPDATE from seraphiel:

Some updates about this, since I dunno if you were following the thread. I did make an error copying and pasting it, so it ended up showing something much worse than what I actually meant to show. But they went in after that and did what I had accidentally shown:
FWIW, the poll choices have changed again. 148 is now "Same", 149 is now "Better", and 150 is now "worse":
(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="149" class="radio") Better off now that the U.S. is upholding U.N. resolutions and holding Saddam accountable for his actions.
(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="148" class="radio") The condition of the world is the same now as it was before the war in Iraq.
(input type="Radio" name="pollanswer" value="150" class="radio") The world is actually in worse condition, and Saddam should still be in power because the U.S. acted rashly.
Charles | Email | Homepage | 01.15.04 - 8:40 am | #
Seraphiel writes They simply switched which item each button votes for, so all the votes for the "wrong" answer end up being for the one they want.
It's actually more then that. They rigged the answers already given. When I voted last night there were approx 6500 total responses, with 75% of the vote going to "The World is actually in Worse Condition" answer, that's about 4875 votes for that response. This morning, that answer stands at 4% of total responses, of 24843 total responses. 4% of 24843 is about 993 total votes. So last night 4875 people had voted for that and this morning it's only around 993....Hmmm....
SixdegreesofKevin | Email | Homepage | 01.15.04 - 9:14 am | #
Oh for fu(k's sake,
They're really cheating. I posted before telling people to forget it, because it was only the order of the answers that was being changed.
I just looked again, and now 149=better, 148=same, 150=worse.
I'm going back to slashdot and re-submitting (I hope they pick it up).
Magnum | Email | Homepage | 01.15.04 - 9:26 am | #
and the poll results are at zero.... I hope no one tipped off them that Atrios had linked their website!
Dom Suzanne | Email | Homepage | 01.15.04 - 10:32 am | #
You know, it's almost funny.
I woke up this morning and looked at the thread again, and what I had copied and pasted, and I noticed that I had made a mistake in copying the source out. What I had meant to show was just the first stage of fristing: switching the available answers, assumably to make naughty librul macros work for the "right" team instead. But the error I had made copying it made it look a lot worse.
Here's the funny part: since my initial notice of this, one of their web staff went in and did the very thing I had mistakenly shown them doing, even though at the time I sent it to Atrios they hadn't done it yet.
Maybe it wasn't a dyslexia moment I was having last night, but a Miss Cleo moment instead.
Seraphiel | Email | Homepage | 01.15.04 - 10:37 am | #

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Vlasto the Corrupt Producer

Nightline flashback:

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

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

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

The producer of that segment? Yes, Chris Vlasto.

Picture This

It's hard to even imagine a journalist engaging in this kind of behavior:

The heart of Brill's complaint is that the press has failed in its First Amendment responsibility to provide "a check on the abuse of power," specifically the power of the independent counsel. He is dead right about where the press went wrong, but the reasons for this dereliction are more complex than he seems to imagine. He believes certain reporters were simply captured by their best source in the tumult of a competitive breaking story. Yet other motivations are equally important. At the Washington Post, for instance, there is a palpable desire to relive the glorious Watergate experience of deposing a president. At the New York Times, there is an equally powerful impulse to even the old score with the Post, which beat the paper of record badly during Nixon's final days. And at both papers, there exists a feeling of indebtedness to Starr, who helped the Times and the Post escape libel judgments in the not-so-distant past. Insofar as those two newspapers shape coverage of every important story, especially in Washington, their biases are reproduced on television and in other media across the country.

To those few journalists who regard Whitewater and the other "Clinton scandals" with doubt, it was evident long before anyone heard of Monica Lewinsky that Starr enjoyed undue influence at the commanding heights of the news industry. I learned that firsthand in April 1996, after Murray Waas and I published an article in the Nation about Starr's conflicts of interest. Among the most hostile responses was a telephone call from ABC producer Chris Vlasto, who has worked the Clinton scandal beat at the network for several years. After swiftly dismissing our story, Vlasto proceeded to berate me for criticizing Starr, and condescended to inform me that the corrupt liars were in the White House, not the independent counsel's office.

The possibility that Clinton and Starr both might need skeptical interrogation evidently didn't occur to Vlasto, who works closely with ABC White House correspondent Jackie Judd. Two years later, as Brill notes witheringly in "Pressgate," it was Judd who became one of the most eager purveyors of Starr-inspired leaks and anti-Clinton rumors, including the now-legendary "semen-stained dress" fiasco. But to the extent that Judd and her producer were vulnerable to manipulation by Starr, these people were hardly alone. As Howard Kurtz makes clear in his account of the White House press corps in "Spin Cycle," frustration about Clinton's seeming invulnerability to scandal was growing for months and years before it finally exploded in the Lewinsky blowup. So the press's outraged reaction to Brill's challenge is hardly surprising; they were hoping to bring down the president, a goal so evidently noble that any and all means were justified -- including taking dictation from the independent counsel.

Nor is it surprising that many, if not most, journalists are unable to endure the kind of criticism they routinely dish out. Last year, the Washington Post's editors were predictably furious when they learned that Hillary Rodham Clinton had once commissioned an analysis of flaws in the scandal reporting of Susan Schmidt, a Post reporter she felt was biased against the White House. That project was swiftly killed by Press Secretary Mike McCurry because he understood, quite correctly, that to question the fairness of an elite news organization would be "crazy," tantamount to public relations suicide.

Of course, now the press regularly has their fairness questioned by the White House, and they respond as ordered.

And there's this:
Columnist Gene Lyons--who has written widely, for Harpers magazine, the Internet journal Salon, and in book form, exposing the right-wing elements behind Whitewater and the Starr investigation--reveals a link between Starr's office, the Wall Street Journal and ABC television.

Lyons recalls that on April 23, 1998, Susan McDougal appeared before a Little Rock grand jury to answer questions about the Clintons and Whitewater. Her refusal to testify that day forms the basis for the current trial on criminal contempt charges.

That same day an op-ed column appeared in the Wall Street Journal under the headline "When Susan McDougal Almost Talked," written by Chris Vlasto, a producer for ABC News. The column opened with the lead sentence, attributed to Susan McDougal: "I know where all the bodies are buried." In his account, Vlasto claimed that McDougal had insinuated to him in off the record remarks in 1994 that she had dirt on the Clintons.

McDougal has denied ever being alone with Vlasto during a meeting in New York or talking to him about "buried bodies." Her account is backed by two other witnesses. But at her grand jury interrogation last year, Starr's prosecutors presented the Wall Street Journal article--published that very day, through coordination between the independent counsel and the Journal's editorial office--as proof that McDougal was hiding important facts about Whitewater. With jurors watching they placed the article in front of McDougal, drawing attention to the headline. Prosecutors later introduced the op-ed piece as evidence.

Vlasto's personal role raises many questions. It is highly unusual, to say the least, for a network television producer to write an article in a competing medium about what a source allegedly told him in confidence. His column was not Vlasto's only effort, not merely to report on events, but to shape them. According to Jim McDougal, after his Whitewater conviction Vlasto approached him and urged him to cooperate with the special prosecutor. "You don't have to go out this way," Vlasto said. "If you walk in to see Ken Starr, he will greet you with open arms."

In his capacity as an ABC journalist Vlasto produced the reports by correspondent Jackie Judd about the semen-stained dress saved by Monica Lewinsky. Last week Judd and Vlasto were joint recipients of an award from the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in Washington for having the best "scoop" of 1998. The source of this report was undoubtedly Starr's office, which knew of the dress from the testimony and tape recordings supplied by Linda Tripp.


Torture Republicans

Take the poll.


Ah, Chris Vlasto. Not surprised to see his name on a pointless hit piece. More on the life and times of Chris Vlasto when Angel is over...

Obviously if Howard Dean knowingly went up to bat for a spouse abuser, that would be troubling, but of course that didn't happen.

Good for the Goose


SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport Wednesday after making an obscene gesture while being photographed by Brazilian immigration officers, police said.

The pilot, identified as Dale Robin Hirsch, raised his middle finger at police to protest new Brazilian security measures that require U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the South American country.

Brazil implemented the policy on January 1 in retaliation for a similar U.S. program that requires those foreign visitors who need visas to have their fingerprints and pictures taken on arrival in the United States.

"He made an internationally known obscene gesture when he was being photographed by the Federal Police," Federal Police agent Wagner Castilho told Reuters news agency. He said the other crew members were denied entry after refusing to cooperate with security officials.

Will Asian-Americans Ever Stop Being Foreigners?

A big chunk of the email to Margaret Cho refers to her as a foreigner, or a guest in this country, because she's of Asian descent. Obviously this is a representative sample of bigots, not a representative sample of the country (one would hope). But, I do observe that plenty of essentially non-bigoted people do have that basic view of Asian-Americans (East or South). 5th generation Chinese-Americans must get tired of being asked where they're from. I wonder if this will ever change? Despite the massive amounts of racism directed against African-Americans, only on the absolute fringes do you get the sentiment that they "don't belong here," or are otherwise non-American.

Anyway, I think I've posted about this before and I'm obviously not the first one to point this out but I am curious if that perception of foreign-ness will ever go away.

Monkey Mail

Wow. I'm sure glad misogyny, homophobia, and racism aren't a problem in this country anymore.

Leaky Rusty Shells of Mass Destruction

Likely contained no chemicals. Move along, citizens.


Bob Somerby and Josh Marshall are both off to important Washington luncheons. My invitiation lost in the mail, yet again.

SEC Overreach

Continuing the "Brad DeLong reads Ron Suskind so you don't have to" series, we find that Bush believed that the cause of the sluggish economy was "SEC overreach." You know Bush didn't come up with that one on his own, so it would be interesting to find out which little bird whispered that phrase into his ear.

Right Cheek

One wonders what this is about:

President Bush sported heavy makeup on his right cheek Tuesday as he endured the pomp and circumstance of the closing day of the Summit of the Americas, leading some reporters to wonder if his South American critics might have finally gotten physical.

The rest of the article is a rare bit of snarkyness (the answer lies within, as well).

Pop Quiz

Revenue generated from payroll taxes is:

a) Less than 10% of that generated from income taxes.

b) Between 11-50% of that generated from income taxes.

c) Between 51-80% of that generated from income taxes.

d) Between 81 - 110% of that generated from income taxes.

e) Greater than 110% of that generated from income taxes.

Give your gut response. No cheating.

...The Answer is 'D!' About 84%. That does include the employer match.

Wellstone Action

Now's your chance to be a founding member. Not that it means anything, but you'll feel good about it.

Scanning the Numbers

Well, it looks like the primary is back in play again. Everything from a Kerry victory in Iowa to a Clark win in New Hampshire seems possible again. Whether this is destroying Big Media Matt's "Dean is inevitable" belief, or if this is just the moment when, as he wrote, "it is also inevitable that at some point in the not-too-distant future, his nomination will cease to look inevitable. Nevertheless, it will still be inevitable as has been clear for some time," remains to be seen...

Sinful Macedonians

The General has the news about our latest sinful attempts to promote tolerance abroad.

Uncle Alan

The big revelation in Suskind's book is actually that Alan Greenspan publicly supported tax cuts he thought were irresponsible.

Sadly, No

Sadly, No catches the WSJ lying again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


You know... sometimes I react with righteous anger, sometimes with bemused befuddlement, sometimes with a bit of hopeless frustration, and... I swear... sometimes I just want to fucking cry.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle American troops, according to a document found with the former Iraqi leader when he was captured, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

The document appears to be a directive, written after he lost power, from Mr. Hussein to leaders of the Iraqi resistance, counseling caution against getting too close to Islamic jihadists and other foreign Arabs coming into occupied Iraq, according to American officials.

It provides a second piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Mr. Hussein's government and terrorists from Al Qaeda. C.I.A. interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Mr. Hussein.

Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.


The AP's Calvin Woodward continues his assault on journalism.


Leaky ship:

Jan. 13— President Bush ordered the Pentagon to explore the possibility of a ground invasion of Iraq well before the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, an official told ABCNEWS, confirming the account former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill gives in his new book.

The official, who asked not to be identified, was present in the same National Security Council meetings as O'Neill immediately after Bush's inauguration in January and February of 2001.

"The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces," the official told ABCNEWS. "That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force."

The Outsider

I've mentioned this before I think, but there's nothing that's annoyed me more than Carville&Begala's mock horror about the fact that Dean is running as an "outsider" and running "against his own party." Don't they remember the 1992 campaign which they were intimately a part of?

Some reminders:

Copyright 1992 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

March 17, 1992, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final
Mr. Clinton has taken a cue, for instance, from Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, who dropped out of the Presidential race two weeks ago, and increased the number of times he now refers to himself as the candidate who can bring the most change to Washington. At a Texas debate last week, Mr. Clinton even borrowed Mr. Kerrey's most-used phrase to say he is for "fundamental change."

Mr. Clinton's portrayal of himself as an outsider owes a debt as well to former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. of California, who has won the Colorado primary and who could manage a strong finish in Michigan with an outsider's message that rails against the monied and the powerful. Speaking to an audience in Macomb County, Mich., on Thursday, Mr. Clinton picked up that theme.


The Washington Post
March 23, 1992, Monday, Final Edition

Policy and spin marry so happily in the Clinton camp that the campaign can retool its themes as quickly as an Indy pit crew changes tires. When the race began, insiders say, the Clinton staff geared up to run as The New against The Old, figuring their chief opponent might be a familiar figure like New York Gov. Mario Cuomo or House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt. They were also ready to run as The Outsider against The Insider if the opposition banner was carried by, say, Kerrey or Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.

Tsongas was unforeseen, and surged to prominence waving many of the themes the Clinton people had prepared for themselves: the candidate from beyond Washington, offering new ideas for hard times. Snap! Clinton's staff reformulated its campaign as one of The People versus The Fat Cats, Main Street vs. Wall Street. Tso long, Tsongas.


Copyright 1992 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
March 5, 1992, Thursday, Late Edition - Final
Tsongas, he's for the upper class," said Bernie Skall, a retired accountant who heard Mr. Clinton yesterday at the Century Village retirement community in Deerfield Beach, Fla. "I think Mr. Clinton's down to earth. He's for the little guy."

The strategy also borrows from other campaigns. Although Mr. Clinton has long tried to cast himself as a Washington outsider, he was embraced early by most of the Washington Democratic establishment.

Now the outsider rhetoric has returned. And this time it owes more than a little of its edge to former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. of California, who has found some success with his populist outsider's message.

"I'm not the favorite candidate of the Beltway," Mr. Clinton said as he explained away his loss in the Maryland primary on Tuesday, "because I support real change."

Copyright 1992 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.

March 13, 1992, FRIDAY, FIVE STAR Edition

The various charges are helping Clinton paint himself as an outsider. In Carbondale, he talked of the debates unrelated to issues that are ''paralyzing Washington'' and of a need to have less bureaucracy in Washington. Clinton has withstood so much adversity already that some of his supporters think he is becoming invincible. ''His resiliency has impressed people,'' said Kenneth Buzbee, a former senator from Carbondale who is running again for that position. ''Every time a new charge comes up, he bounces with it and buries it.'' Meanwhile, Clinton's advisers are doing their best to convince reporters that Clinton's baggage becomes lighter with every primary victory. People who worry about the general election are ''divorced from reality,'' said consultant Paul Begala, referring to Clinton's successes in Missouri and other states on Tuesday. ''Just because they say he's unelectable doesn't make it so.

Copyright 1992 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe

April 6, 1992, Monday, City Edition
Through the long weeks of competition in New Hampshire, both Clinton and Tsongas billed themselves as "outsider" candidates who shared a desire to change the Democratic Party's attitudes toward economic growth. But a sequence of primaries in states responsive to a working-class message converged this month with the disappearance of Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa from the race, leaving Tsongas as the most formidable obstacle to Clinton.

Tsongas has been proud of his claim to be the "probusiness" candidate in the race. But he set himself up for destruction in this month's primaries nearly a year ago when, in Denver on May 1 - the day after he announced his candidacy - he attacked the Democratic Party for encouraging "corporation-bashing, class warfare and populism." Those are the very tools that are now being used against him.

Clinton's aggressive tactics have smacked of class warfare. He now regularly depicts Tsongas as the representative of what James Carville, one of Clinton's strategists, calls "the elite, Volvo wing of the party." Clinton has also become an exponent of populism, saying that his "people-based economics" are composed of more flesh and blood than Tsongas' proposals for tax incentives for corporations to stimulate jobs.


Bush Rage

Wow, those people sure are angry.[/sarcasm]

Sounds like they're having fun to me.

Spinning Heads

Well, it looks like Bush just undercut all of his lackeys who have been were busy denying that they were planning war in Iraq from the beginning:

Bush admits he targeted Saddam from the start
Comments could boost criticism of president's case for war against Iraq

..."The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear -- like the previous administration, we were for regime change," Bush told a joint news conference in Monterrey, Mexico, with Mexican President Vicente Fox. "And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with (enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq) and so we were fashioning policy along those lines."

(via pandagon)


Limbaugh's lawyer, now:

Yesterday, the ACLU filed a friend-of-the court brief supporting Mr. Limbaugh’s argument that the seizure of his private medical records was illegal, and Limbaugh gratefully accepted the ACLU’s help.

His attorney Roy Black said he and Limbaugh quote “are pleased that the ACLU has filed a motion” and added the seizure was, “also a threat to everyone’s fundamental right to privacy.”

Limbaugh - June 27, 2003:

There is no right to privacy specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

Discussing the Lawrence v. Texas decision.

Say Hello To My Sponsor

Southern Exposure, the magazine of the Progressive South, is my sponsor for the week. Go pay a visit to the Institute for Southern Studies, and take out a subscription to their magazine.

80s All Over Again

Well, private pensions are doing swimmingly. The Pension Benefit Guarantee corporation has a deficit of $10 billion, from a $7 billion surplus in 2001. Companies are still being allowed to underfund their pensions. Taxpayer bailout on the way. More wealth transferred from workers to shareholders.

Let's remember that Social Security, among other things is Retirement Insurance. It's supposed to insure you against the possibility that, for some reason - like, say, your mutual fund gets looted or your private pension fund goes bankrupt - you wake up at age 65 and you're broke.

The Schools! The Schools!

Stoller interviews a journalist working in Iraq. It isn't good.

Shorter Liberal Hawks

From B^3.

And the Poor Man.

Brain Dead Broder

Over at Seeing the Forest, Zizka notes that Dean Broder essentially admits that he's completely bored about politics and policies and is shocked that anyone else isn't, particularly those poor saps in Fly Over Country.

Fair enough Broder - quit your job.

Genocidal Moonie


The Washington (End Of) Times

Drudge and Sullivan give genocidal Moonie a pass.

Michelangelo Signorile

Can you imagine the owners of the New York Times–or the Los Angeles Times or Cleveland’s Plain-Dealer–pining out loud for the mass extinction of an entire group of people? Let’s say they envisioned the incineration of all gays, claiming it was God’s plan and had their words posted on the web.

At the very least, sensation-stalker Matt Drudge would link to the comments immediately, rightly whipping it into a major story. His zeal for fomenting scandals involving liberals would certainly overpower his obsessive fear that people might think he’s gay just for defending gays. (As if the rest of the world still doesn’t know he’s gay, even after David Brock’s "fuck buddies" revelations and Jeanette Walls’ interviews with his former boyfriends.) Drudge’s openly gay compatriot, Andrew Sullivan, would no doubt take up the cause as well, attacking those nasty homophobe publishers on the left, railing on his web site about what hypocrites liberals are.

But if the paper in question is an influential conservative daily–one that pumps up both of these right-wing gasbags regularly, and one that publishes Sullivan’s work–then the rantings and ravings of its demagogic owner don’t seem to matter.

"There will be a purge on God’s orders, and evil will be eliminated like shadows," the Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myong Moon, the owner and primary funder of the money-losing, right-wing Washington Times, said last week. (The comments were posted online by Rev. Moon’s webmaster and picked up by blogger John Gorenfeld.)

"Gays will be eliminated, the 3 Israels will unite. If not then they will be burned. We do not know what kind of world God will bring but this is what happens. It will be greater than the communist purge but at God’s orders."

This is of course much less important than 2 amateur ads which will never run on TV comparing Bush to Hitler.

As always, you can listen to the highly entertaining Michelangelo Signorile show on Siriusoutq from 1-4 PM EST.

Import Prices

Kash over at the Angry Bear notes that despite the tumbling dollar, import prices haven't risen much. It's interesting, though I suppose it isn't too much of a surprise. I would imagine that a big chunk of our import transactions are priced in dollars, so exchange rate changes aren't automatically factored in. One wonders if this would change if the dollar continues to fall.


Harpers Magazine, which for a long time had a minimal web presence, has expanded it a bit. Maybe they should hire a blogger.

It'll Happen to every Candidate

Dean's the frontrunner so they're doing it to him, mostly, but the press is just picking up right where they left off in 2000 with Gore. It's a sad, sorry, pathetic state of affairs.

Salon has two good articles up. One from Eric Boehlert and one from Aaron Kinney.

Here's a perfect example of a subject for which there is zero need for anonymous sources. Any editor with integrity wouldn't allow them into print.

Cheney Exposes Secret Documents to Press

Start the investigation:

Monday, January 12, 2004



People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren't sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.

But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back where they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.

Crass Capitalism

I've put up a new ad strip on the top left for a willing "sponsor." There will only be one ad there. The ads on the right strip will continue to rotate, and I intend to limit them to 8-10 (max).

Dean's Racism Enrages Vermont Blacks


Laura Bush Flashback

Remember this kind of fair and balanced coverage?

There is nothing about Laura Bush that brings to mind that other political wife -- the one whose name draws hisses from the generally well-mannered crowds in Philadelphia and whose candidacy for the U.S. Senate is the object of convention-wide derision.

Just as George W. Bush's campaign strategists take great pains to portray his vision for America as a 180-degree departure from that of Bill Clinton, Laura Bush's public image is a careful response to a widespread distaste (and for many at this week's GOP convention, that's a very polite way of putting it) for Hillary Clinton. And accidentally or not, the GOP has found the perfect antidote to that weariness: Laura Bush.

She is, to put it quite simply, the anti-Hillary. She comes across as bright but unthreatening -- a reluctant but dependable political wife who's dedicated to her husband's campaign simply because she loves him, and not, as she herself is quick to point out, because she's interested in the spotlight. Bush himself loves to remind voters of his wife's appealing reticence. The story of his proposal, and Laura's response, has already become a stump speech chestnut: "I asked her to marry me," he'll tell a cheering crowd, "and she said, 'Yes. But only if you promise me that I'll never have to make a campaign speech.'"

Remember when staying out of politics was the right thing to do for a spouse? A good little woman?

oy. Bite me, eggman.

Monkey Mail

Cokie Roberts's comment re A. Gore and W. Horton is not a lie, gene, you fucking moron. you have an interesting definition of lie -- as do your moronic blog commenters. also, it is well known that bryan stevenson and the eji will lie in their appellate briefs, at hearings, and during oral arguments in order to get their murdering clients off. some of the EJI staff members have also evidenced unusual psycho-sexual attraction toward the murderers they "defend." are you getting all "racially sensitive" now that it's been shown that how-weird dean is a racist?

Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama

Some of you may remember that we recently held a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama. As they don't take online payments, many of you funneled money through may paypal account which I promised to send on. Here's a scan of a thank you card from them, to the Readers of Eschaton, reflecting the $2,750 that I sent them. That includes your donations and some of my money. According to emails, another $400 was sent directly to them for a grand total of $3150. Thanks all!

Excuse the bad quality - was trying to get it down to a decent file size.

...they now do take online donations, so if anyone is interested.

Kicking Ass

Kicking Ass, the DNC blog, has comprehensive O'Neill coverage.

Cokie the Liar

Cokie Roberts continues to lie without conscience. From NPR this morning

"It was Al Gore in primary debates who was the first person to bring up the issue of Willie Horton, that released criminal..."

From the Howler:

In one of 45 Dem debates that year, Candidate Gore challenged Candidate Dukakis to defend a Massachusetts furlough program under which convicts serving life sentences without hope of parole were released on weekend passes. In particular, Gore noted that two furloughed prisoners had committed new murders while on weekend leave. (Willie Horton was not one of these convicts.) The program was almost impossible to defend. But Gore only mentioned the program once, and he never mentioned any prisoner's name; never mentioned any prisoners race; never ran any TV ads on the topic; and never used any visuals. More specifically, he never named Willie Horton, or mentioned his specific crime (Horton committed a brutal rape while on leave).

Contact NPR ombudsman Dvorkin at and suggest that he hire some political commentators who don't repeat years-old long-debunked smears.

(oops - Dvorkin not Dvorak)

Now and Then

Courtesy of the Center for American Progress:

"The Treasury Department has asked for an investigation into how a possibly classified document appeared in a televised interview of ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill."
- CNN, 1/12/04

No investigation was requested after the Providence Journal reported that "Bob Woodward said the president gave reporters 90 minutes, often speaking candidly about classified information. 'Certainly Richard Nixon would not have allowed reporters to question him [about classified information] like that. Bush's father wouldn't allow it. Clinton wouldn't allow it."
- Providence Journal, 4/10/02

Famous Last Words

Paul O'Neill:

I'm an old guy, and I'm rich. And there's nothing they can do to hurt me.


WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury has asked the U.S. inspector general's office to investigate how a possibly classified document appeared on Sunday in a televised interview of ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, a department spokesman said on Monday.

"It's based on the (CBS program) '60 Minutes' segment, and I'll be even more clear -- the document as shown on '60 Minutes' that said 'secret,"' Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols told reporters at a weekly briefing.

Well, that was fast. How long did it take before an investigation into the "bogus" Plame incident began? the book while you still can.

The Long Memory of Brad DeLong

In addition to not being very honest, our press corps has a bit of a memory problem. Brad DeLong reminds them of what they've forgotten:

The most puzzling thing about Andrews's story is that Andrews appears to have no memory at all. A year ago--remember--the administration was having an internal debate over economic policy. And the administration decided to use the concern about employment as fuel to pass a dividend tax cut--not a tax cut that would get lots of money to those likely to spend it and so boost employment, but a tax cut that would enrich the well-off five, ten, twenty years from now.

The thinking inside the administration was (i) we want to tilt the distribution of wealth in favor of the rich this way, (ii) the current worries about unemployment give us an opportunity to do so if we claim that the dividend tax cut is really a jobs program, and (iii) employment will probably recover on its own anyway so we really don't need an actual jobs program.

That was the administration's thinking: pass the dividend tax cut rather than a real stimulus program and bet that job growth would accelerate on its own. It was a risky bet to make. They made it. They now appear to have crapped out.

Why isn't this backstory worth including in the article?

2nd Annual Dubya Quote Quiz

From Mad Kane. See how you do.

Lie Without Shame

Today's Howler reminds us of something that we should be aware of - today's press corps lies without hestiation. Repeatedly. Without regret. And, most importantly, without consequence save promotion.

Not being human herself, Dowd is instinctively troubled by earth tones. “Al Gore sprouted earth tones in 2000,” she robotically typed in yesterday’s piece, “hoping heathery brown sweaters and khakis would warm him up.”

No one has ever really explained the thinking behind the corps’ earth tone obsession. Why exactly did it seem strange to see Gore dressed in “sweaters and khakis?” And why did pundits keep insisting that Naomi Wolf had told Gore he should don them? We’ve told that story in some detail (links below). But Dowd has a connection to the earth tone script that is minor, but well worth recalling.

A bit of background: Wolf’s connection to the Gore campaign was first reported by Time, in a story released on October 31, 1999. The story had been carefully researched—and it didn’t say a word about earth tones! By the way: Like most humans, Gore had been wearing the troubling tones since he began his campaign in March. This is abundantly clear in the published record, as the link below makes abundantly clear.

But so what? The morning after the Time report, Ceci Connolly got busy. In the Post, she cited a conversation with Dick Morris, in which Morris “speculated” (Connolly’s word) that Wolf had told Gore to wear those troubling tones. By that afternoon, the corps was reporting this “speculation” as fact, and worrying hard about its significance. Wolf flatly denied that she had ever given Gore advice about his clothes. No evidence ever contradicted her statement. But so what! Earth tones were now a fact-for-life. Over the course of the next thirteen months, they were endlessly flogged as a troubling fact which revealed troubling parts of Gore’s character. And yes, this really did happen.


Template ate itself, so I had to go to a backup copy which might not contain various blogroll updates, etc...


Just let this nightmare end.

He didn't free the slaves.
He didn't rid the world of Hitler.

He didn't even - like his father - preside over the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

Yet George W. Bush tells New Yorker writer Ken Auletta: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

Technical Difficulties

Minor computer problems which I'm trying to patch up, so light posting for a bit probably...

The War on Tourism Continues

Along with the war on civil liberties.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

1st Class City with a 3rd Class Attitude

I do believe that Philadelphia is one of the top X cities in the country (we can quibble about X). Sure, it has its problems - some more, some less than other urban areas - but overall I think it's a better place to live than many comparable places. I prefer it to Boston. I prefer it to Chicago. Sure, it isn't New York, but what is? Maybe San Francisco has some additional charms, but wow is it expensive.

The Philly economy - both in the city itself and even moreso in the 'burbs - is really a white collar economy. Still, it has a real blue collar attitude. Blue collar with a bit of extra money. This is both good and bad, but one way it manifests itself is in the city's 3rd class attitude.

Places with 1st class attitudes - they know they're the best, they don't bother even worrying about the issue, and know everywhere else sucks.

2nd class attitudes - they desperately cling to the notion that they're the best, and continually prove this wrong by desperately trying to convince everyone of that non-fact.

3rd class attitude - we suck, and we know it.

Philly ain't the best city in the world, but given the cost of living, location, amenities, cultural offerings, etc... it's pretty damn good. Better, as I said, than comparable places like Boston and Chicago. Still, for better or for worse the city of brotherly love isn't exactly filled with an overabundance of self-love. It's a rather insecure place.

So, I have to say, a little ego improvement, no matter what the cause, is a breath of fresh air.



Well, almost. 5 more seconds..


...I can't be the only one who thinks Sudden Death OT in Football is stoooopid.


Adopt a Journalist

There's an idea I put out there in the middle of the holidays. A bunch of people subsequently emailed me, etc..., and I pretty much ignored them. Not because I was being rude but because I was fairly busy and most importantly as I said in the original post I Don't Want To Organize It.

But, look, here's the idea - start a blog, pick a journalist, and follow them. Don't just follow them day to day, but be in depth about it. Archive all of their work, look for inconsistencies across their own writing. It doesn't have to be all nasty criticism. Criticism can be both good and bad - it's important to remember that.

Anyway, some had emailed me about setting up a centralized database/website/etc... I tend to think such a top down approach is a bad idea, at least at first. First we need volunteers - and the best way to do it is just start doing it. Once you've got it going, email me and other bloggers once you have some interesting stuff up. Once people seem to be working it consistently, I'll set up a special section in the blogroll and will encourage others to do the same. If there's duplication of effort - great! Eventually blogs can merge or whatever, it isn't a problem.

As for journalists - mostly what I'm talking about are people covering the '04 campaign, and mostly what I'm talking about are straight journalists and not the pundits. The pundits get plenty of attention - it's fun, but frankly we all overestimate their influence. One lowly scale AP reporter probably has a lot more influence than William Safire.

Jay Rosen of NYU has been following this idea. But, my plea is - Just Do It! I'm happy to support it, but I can't organize it.


What a play.

Librul Radio

Johnny Wendell, KFI's token liberal, will be on from 8-10pm EST this evening. You can listen here. Wendell's worth a listen - lots of attitude, but with smarts and little tinfoil hat territory.

Fox Pre-game

Anyone catch the bust-on-Limbaugh sketch? Was brutal. can watch it through a link on this page.

(link thanks to Shiva)

Interesting Tidbit from Fox

Maybe I just missed it, but did anyone else not know that the now much-maligned Paul O'Neill did in fact sit on the National Security Council so he could actually have a clue about such issues?

WALLACE: Well, Secretary O'Neill also said that during his 23 months in the Bush administration -- we should point out that he sat on the National Security Council -- that he never saw what he calls real evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

What do you make of that? And can't Howard Dean say to people like you, "I told you so"?

LIEBERMAN: No. I mean, what Paul O'Neill says there is what a lot of other people are beginning to conclude, that there was an overstatement by the Bush administration of the weapons-of-mass- destruction part of the argument for going to war against Saddam Hussein.

(thanks to doxie)


So, I had to go read what Pumpkinhead was said about Blogs today and I came across this:

MR. TODD: The actual term itself, by the way, is short for Web log. And, you know, you drop the W and you get the blog. I’ll just describe what Howard Dean’s blog since it’s the one that has the most traction and the most attention. It’s essentially like a digital bulletin board saying, “Hey, look, this is what we’re up to today. This is our message today. These are some of the things we’re doing today.” And then it allows a section to comment about what’s going on during the day. And this is where you find out who the bloggers are. These are these troops of people—Howard Dean, on any given posting, will have 150 to 200 comments per these posting. That means there’s probably about 80 to 100 people at any one time, they’re just chitchatting. It could be that they’re immediately responding to seeing Dean on television or they’re probably blogging right now while they’re watching us talking about them right now. No doubt probably they’re getting mad at us. They’re very anti-media. Reading the Dean blog is like reading Republican message points from years past and they’re anger toward the media. They felt very mad at NBC News and Lisa Myers over the last couple of days over the story, felt like somehow NBC News took his comments out of context. So it is a little...

MR. RUSSERT: Which Lisa Myers did not...

MR. TODD: No, not at all, but it was...

MR. RUSSERT: ...and the Dean campaign will acknowledge that.

MR. TODD: They acknowledge it. They did, but...

So, wait, has the Dean campaign acknowledged that his comments weren't taken out of context? In my world we define taking them out of context as, well, stripping them of context in a way which alters the meaning, which would be different from, you know, like just making stuff up or doctoring the quote. This post at the Dean blog surely makes it seem as if the quotes were taken out of context, or at the very least makes it seem that the Dean campaign believes the quotes were taken out of context.

So, is pumpkinhead just making stuff up?

...and then this Todd person says:

MR. TODD: Well, building off of Ron’s point, you know, this whole growth of the Internet for Dean support, it was exponential in the summer and in the fall, and you know what? It’s really slowed. This week, you know, they throw up these fund-raising goals and they do it as a bat. It’s like the old Red Cross goals where you see the progress as you go. They had the Sweep The Seven. On February 3, 700,000, Sweep The Seven. You know what? It was one of their slowest fund-raising bats we’d seen. They didn’t allow the goal by midnight Friday to even show up. They changed it. You know, they realized something wasn’t working, they changed it to say, “Thank you, Tom Harkin” and they made it to about 800,000.

But the campaign did reach the original 700,000 by the original deadline.

Bill Schneider Flashback

This has to be one of the most obscene news reports I've seen. From 5/5/02:

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, how dependent are Democrats on the African-American vote?

Without black voters, the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections would have been virtually tied,just like the 2000 election. Oh no, more Florida recounts!


(voice-over): What would have happened if no blacks had voted in 2000? Six states would have shifted from Al Gore to George W. Bush: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Oregon. Bush would have won by 187 electoral votes, instead of five. A Florida recount? Not necessary.

Right now, there are 50 Democrats in the Senate. How many would be there without African-American voters? We checked the state exit polls for the 1996, 1998, and 2000 elections. If no blacks had voted, many Southern Democrats would not have made it to the Senate. Both Max Cleland and Zell Miller needed black votes to win in Georgia. So did Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, John Edwards in North Carolina, and Ernest Hollings in South Carolina.

Black votes were also crucial for Jon Corzine in New Jersey, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, and Jean Carnahan in Missouri. Washington state and Nevada don't have many black voters, but they were still crucial to the victories of Harry Reid in Nevada and Maria Cantwell in Washington.

Nebraska and Wisconsin don't have many black voters either, but Ben Nelson would have lost Nebraska without them and Russ Feingold would have lost Wisconsin, too, in both cases by less than half-a- percent. Bottom line? Without the African-American vote, the number of Democrats in the Senate would be reduced from 50 to 37.


SCHNEIDER: A hopeless minority. And Jim Jeffords' defection from the GOP would not have meant a thing -- Judy.

Of course Rush Limbaugh had previously provided us with 'shorter Bill Schneider:'

If you take away the black vote, Bush won by a landslide!


It's fair to say that the CNN/Time poll showing Dean within 5 points of Bush was a bit of an outlier. It's also would be equally fair that the CNN/Gallup poll conducted a mere 3 days later, showing Bush WAAAY AHEAD, was also an outlier. The latest Newsweek poll confirms this. But, listening to Bill Schneider hail the second CNN poll as the Obvious Received Truth and trash the previous one was truly a SCLM moment:

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill. Bill, you talked there at the end about a 22-point spread between President Bush and Howard Dean. Both of us know that it was just a few days ago that the CNN-"TIME" Magazine poll showed Bush just five points ahead of Howard Dean. How do you explain the discrepancy?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we were wondering about that. So we looked at the two polls, and here's what happened. Republicans have closed ranks behind President Bush. In the last poll, the Republican vote was about 12 percent for Howard Dean. Now it's virtually disappeared. Just three percent of Republicans say they would imagine supporting Governor Dean in the election. You know, it may be those terrible things that Howard Dean has been saying about President Bush, or here's another possibility. The last poll was taken over the New Year's holiday. It could just be that, at least among the Republicans, the holiday spirit has worn off.

Jesse says this was more lazy than partisan. No, it's AEI fellow Bill Schneider, so it's partisan.

Media Fashionistas

Oh the horror of getting fashion advice from a man who had a bow-tie surgically implanted in his neck:

Another possibility is that you need rubber shoes and sweaters when you're spending a January in New Hampshire. I have it on good authority that road salt ruins dress shoes.

But there I go, getting too literal, just like those tedious policy wonks who expect candidates and campaign coverage to focus on boring stuff like health care and economic policy.

Back in November, when Clark wore a black mock-turtleneck to the "Rock the Vote" debate and Dennis Kucinich did likewise, news analysts howled with derision. It was like two girls showed up at prom in the same dress.

"And what was up with that silly black turtleneck he was wearing? Please!" cried Joe Klein on CNN.

"Is this a 'Star Trek' convention or a presidential debate? The neo-Spock look? While Wesley Clark looked hip in his Euro-trash mock-turtleneck sweater," sniffed Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country."

"The saddest part of last night's debate was Clark and Kucinich coming in those mock-turtlenecks, trying to look hip," said Tucker Carlson, a man singularly free of the burden of looking hip, on "Crossfire."

Political commentary is getting indistinguishable from an episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

All of which sounds painfully like the 2000 presidential campaign, when, according to an often-debunked and often-rebunked story, Al Gore switched to wearing earth tones for strategic advantage. The earth-tone story was repeated almost as often as the "invented the Internet" story. Both entered the realm of oral lore and political folk-legend and passed beyond truth or falsity.

These days, the media isn't covering the horse race, it's covering the horse blanket.

Email the author at and thank him for the column if you wish.

New Book

You can order Ron Suskind's new book about Bush and Paul O'Neill here.

Mean Dean

This Daily Show segment is the perfect primer on campaign journalism.

Donate to the DNC Day Results

We got 8 single donations totalling $360.
We got 17 sustainer donations totalling $315.

Through the election, the sustainer donations, which are monthly, should up to a total of $3150!

Thanks all. No fundraising begging for a few weeks.

preznit giv tnr turkee

Ailes gets it right.