Saturday, February 14, 2004

Open thread

Here's an open thread for ya'll. Discuss love, antipathy, Janet Jackson's boob - whatever.

Is There any Excuse for This?

the New York Times has a truly heartrending story about the conditions in Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Children, where
"...gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors. The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they arrived.


'The word big is not enough to describe the disaster we are facing,' said Ahmed A. Muhammed, the hospital's assistant manager."

Read it, it should make you sad and mad, and make you wonder just what in the hell is going on that the U.S. can't seem to solve problems like this. And the president promised in the SOTU that he would pull the U.S. out of Iraq by June 30? Can he keep that promise, or perhaps a better question is: Should he?

GA 12

Being on the road and all, I neglected to look into the race for the Georgia 12th in more detail, and in my haste forgot about the fact that the Democratic Primary hasn't actually been held yet, and it isn't an uncontested one.

Right now I'm running ads from both John Barrow and Doug Haines. While just about any Dem candidate will have my support in the general election, I tend not to want to pick sides in any primary race, and in this case I haven't done enough research into either of the candidates to have an opinion about them.

So, take a look and see who you like and if you wish to support one or the other with your money or your time please do! And, may the best man win!

Kos has more on the race.

Party Unity

I hope this article about retribution against Democrats who supported Dean is just a bit of chest-beating and not actually true in a meaningful sense. Winning the presidency is just the first step - implementing an agenda is the second. What we don't need is yet another generation of "Fox News Democrats" who, isolated from the power structure, start sniping back.

It's subscription only, but here's the gist:

Officially, the Kerry campaign pledges to bring the party together and to move past such gloating. But some establishment Democrats, both inside and outside the Kerry campaign, still intend to punish the Dean heretics. And, while well-known politicians, such as Gore, Harkin, and Moseley Braun, may endure the most public abuse, the people who may ultimately suffer explicit retribution for their Dean-boosting are cogs in the Democratic machine--people like Daalder, who toil in think tanks or union leadership or groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). As one former high-ranking Clinton administration official puts it, "Will they work again in this town again? I hope not."

Falllujah Raid

Guerillas overwhelmed a police station in Fallujah, reportedly leaving up to 20m dead, mostly Iraqi policemen. link to CNN story here

According to Hesiod, no Americans appeared during the fight to help. link

The UN special envoy to Iraq departed Friday warning that the country faced a significant chance of civil strife, leaving unresolved the contentious question of holding elections before the June 30 transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. link

So there are two questions here: Can the president keep the promise that he made in the SOTU to withdraw by June 30? And should the president keep the promise he made to withdraw by June 30?

Something Worthy for those of you who are in the Dallas Area

From what little reading of the comments I've been able to do while I am double posting and messing up links, it seems there are more readers of Atrios from the Dallas area than I realized. So I'm going to use my incredible power as guest blogger to talk about something very worthy and important that is happening in Dallas.

Harryette Ehrhardt is a Democrat who has formed a group called Citizens for Equality. The purpose of the organization is to recruit Democrats, in conjunction with the Democratic Party, to serve as Election Judges, poll watchers, poll workers and ballot counting observers for the election in November. Many Dallas precincts are using Diebold touchscreen voting machines, so it is extremely important that Democrats have people in place to try to assure that everyone's vote is counted in this election. I spoke with a member of this group on the phone a short while ago. I'm going to be working for them this November. They still need volunteers, and donations. They are also looking for lawyers who will agree to be on call on election day in case a question arises at a polling place.

The telephone number for Citizens for Equality is 214-821-2511; their web site is

If you live and vote in the Dallas area, please consider volunteering and/or making a contribution.

Authors on Iraq War

I am a dedicated bibliophile, and so I offer this Valentine to other bibliophiles out there. The Guardian asked a number of authors for their thoughts on the war in Iraq. The list is pretty long, and includes Margaret Drabble, Nadine Gordimer, Michael Holroyd and John Le Carre. A tiny taste:

Julian Barnes begins his statement:
We went to war because America had already decided to go to war for - unsurprisingly - American reasons (9/11, Bush family history, oil, military cojones.)

here is the link, enjoy

Shoes for the Deaf

This story from the February 8, Palm Beach Post link here is pretty amazing.

The Bush Administration has decided that people with bad hearing have bad judgment, too, and need special guidance from the federal government.

So the U.S. Department of Education is declaring about 200 television programs inappropriate for closed captioning and denying federal grant requests to make them accessible to the hearing impaired...

Some of the shows that have been declared inappropriate: Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Law & Order, The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, & Scooby Doo.

Apparently, the DOE has appointed a panel of 5 to determine which shows are appropriate, and have some new rules for determining which programs make the cut, but those new rules are a secret. All I can say is they certainly are doing a good job of keeping the secret, because I sure can't find a connection between the examples.

thanks to Silleigh for the story

More Worm Turnings

The Washington Post has an editorial in today's edition (no by-line), in which it excoriates the Bush campaign over its recent attacks on John Kerry on the issue of "special interests."

I'm going to send you over to yasonyacky for the story, because I'm not registered at the WaPo and I don't feel like fooling around and enabling my cookies to get registered. Anyway, yasonyacky has good coverage.

link is here

More Twists than a Pretzel, Harder to Swallow

Ricky Zee has a story up about a retired officer with the Alabama Air National Guard, who is saying that he witnessed President Bush serving his weekend duty in 1972. here

Ricky presents the alternate versions of the Bush reality, and makes a case for why this officer's statement should perhaps be taken with a salty pretzel and a beer or 2 as well. See what you think.

Several readers have mentioned that Billmon has covered this story, too. link

Max Cleland's Revenge

Please say hello to my new sponsor, John Barrow for Congress. Let's help get him elected.

Donate in honor of Ann Coulter.

Private Lives

Hi all. Checking in from my undisclosed location. Thanks to Tena for doing a great job in my absence [which continues until Sunday].

Anyway, just wanted to make one comment while it was sloshing around in my brain. To the extent that the media is touching the Kerry "adultery" issue, they're making implied or explicit comparisons to Clinton.

But, compare this to the treatment by the media of Salon's stories about the Henry Hyde, etc... Then the media got outraged that journalists would dare to invade the "private" lives of public figures. Comparisons with witch hunts and Sexual McCarthyism were frequent. Then, of course, there was clear relevance of the information.

The Kerry story, even if true, has as far as I can tell zero relevance for anything - other than the media declaring that the private lives of Democrats are fair game. The media outlets that haven't yet touched this don't seem to be ignoring it because they would, out of principle, not run the storry. They're ignoring it simply because there's no confirmation. I have no doubt that if this story were "proven" that it would be everywhere.

These issues are always complicated and there are rarely clear lines. But, for the record I think public figures can have little expectation of privacy, and politicians in particular should have little expectation of sexual privacy. That isn't necessarily the way I'd like it to be, but that's the way it is. And, the more people make their personal life and personal morality "public," the less right they have to expect the media to only report the details they want them to. If your personal life is part of the story, then calls for privacy are simply a desire to be able to control the message about your personal life. You can't have it both ways. On the other hand, the media should consider a bit more carefully what their standards are and apply them with a bit more consistency.

Paging Larry Flynt, paging Larry Flynt...

I Want to Hold Your Hand

U.S. Teens Celebrate 'Purity Day'

Here's a short article about your tax dollars at work promoting teen frustration and sexual ignorance.

"Liberty Counsel, which says it works to promote religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the traditional family...said the Day of Purity enabled teenagers to make their voices heard...


U.S. President George W. Bush has massively increased funding and support for the U.S. sexual abstinence movement during his term in office."

thanks to MoniCA link

Several things spring to mind from this short article, but mainly, I think, we should be asking why the government thinks it is ok to spend money on programs like Purity Day. Oh, and expect to get as sick of that word "sanctity" as you already are of terra and "it changed everything," and "WMD."

Happy Valentines Day

I woke up to a rare and, to me, beautiful, Valentines Day present. Ok, quit thinking dirty stuff right now. Dallas woke up to about 3 inches of snow, and it is still falling. I know a lot of you are thinking "This is news?" It is here. I'm just sorry for the kids that it is Saturday and they didn't get to take off from school.

Feel free to comment on all the blizzards you have survived, and what wusses we are in Texas.

Interesting way to report on this

The Dallas Morning News is reporting about the "Internet-fueled rumor" that Kerry has sexual fidelity issues. But what is interesting is that the story isn't about Kerry or the woman in question. It's about the Internet and the media

"As an Internet-fueled rumor about John Kerry gained steam, Mr. Imus wondered aloud: 'Do you think I should ask him?' 'We've chosen not to report it,' CNN's Lou Dobbs told the New York radio host on the air. 'I'm not interested in the story.'

Newxpaper and television reporters once had finite and identifiable competition, most of which played by similar ground rules. Now they're doing battle with untold numbers of bloggers, online sleuths and partisan radio pundits.


'Case in point: On Thursday, the Drudge Report Web site reported that Mr. Kerry had an affair with a young woman. Matt Drudge's story named no sources, did not identify the woman and offered few details.


But within hours, conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were discussing the report on their radio shows.


The entire story is at You have to register. It's a front page story, so you can paste the url into your address bar and that way I don't have to wrestle with blogger to get a working link. There is an interesting inset in the piece about libel and privacy on the internet.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Just a couple of things

I got an email today from Shaw Kenawe, who tells me that she has a friend in Manhattan who is friends with Jimmy Breslin and his family. Shaw forwarded Atrios' post about the Breslin column and some of the comments to her friend. She is going to forward them to Breslin. I think that is pretty cool. Thanks Shaw Kenawe.

And I herewith bestow on all of you an open thread. Have fun, flail away, no rules, just go for it. I'm going to go for a little recreation myself.

Latest internal tracking polls on chandler

Kos has them and I'll put them up too.


Chandler 48
Kerr 39

Among 'Certain Voters':

Chandler 50
Kerr 38

Strength of Support:

Strong Chandler 40 (4 days straight of 40)
Strong Kerr 29 (down from high of 34 4 days ago)

Job Approval:

Chandler 59-30
Kerr 38-39

Bush Orders Release of National Guard Files

A reader has let me know that Reuters is reporting that Bush has ordered the release of the files. The next question is: what shape are they going to be in?

I'm working on the link, thought I'd put the story up while I work.

Try this

I hope this works

Now This is the Way it is Supposed to Be

More than 90 gay and lesbian couples took their wedding vows at San Francisco City Hall this morning - with scores more lined up...


One couple flew in from New York this morning.

The rest of the story is here, and it includes information about the lawsuit that has been filed to stop these weddings

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, my anniversary is Monday, and I can't think of a better present than to know that these people are finally getting to make their commitments in public, as they should. Congratulations, Mazel Tov, and Best Wishes to them all

thanks to dave for the story


From the L.A. Times:

The Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it planned to investigate whether White House officials exaggerated the Iraq threat or pressured analysts to tailor their assessments of Baghdad's weapons programs to bolster the case for war.


The move puts claims made by President bush and other senior officials in his administration squarely in the sights of the committee's investigation.


The White House and Republican leaders in Congress had sought for months to confine the inquiry to the performance of the CIA and other intelligence agencies, and to insulate the administration. But the Senate voted unanimously Thursday to expand the probe after some GOP members appeared ready to break from the Republican position.

the rest of the L.A. Times story is here>

Some Republicans appeared ready to break ranks - this gets more and more interesting. I wonder if anyone in Congress has uttered the "I" word out loud yet.


CNN has the story here


There seems to be an echo floating around the press briefing room at the White House. There are definite similarities between Scott McClellan's answers to some of the gaggle's questions and George Bush's responses to questions about his drug use that were raised during the 1999 campaign. reader yasonyacky provides the comparison here>


Nothing says that the worm has turned more than the spectacle of Helen Thomas back in action, making presidential press secretaries sweat. Josh Marshall has the exchange between Helen and Scottie here, scroll down

Uh Oh!

Our friend and alert reader, wOOt, sent in a picture of John Kerry at an anti-Vietnam war rally. But wait, that isn't Jane Fonda in the picture - who is that man?


Someone asked about stories in Texas, and one that continues to make the rounds is that about Neil Bush and his generous donation of $115,000 to the Houston ISD. There is a string attached - the money is to be used by the school district to purchase educational software from Neil's company, Ignite! Inc. The deal has left at least a couple of people wondering. One is Coletta Sayer, president of the Houston Classroom Teacher's Association, who has said" We are not eager to see this happen. Another is Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, who has said that the deal smacked of "self-dealing."

Mr Bush has issued the following statement:

The benevolence of community support for educational initiatives within our city should be openly entertained as an available catalyst to help our Houston area public schools succeed.

Why does this not comfort me?

link here

I Know How Much You Guys Love Guest Bloggers

Well, Atrios tapped me for this last night, and I'm still finding my way through this end of the blog. I am open to suggestions for stories, but I still haven't figured out where the link button is, so please bear with me, I'm working on it. Let me try to get my wits and wisdoms up and operating, and I'll try to deliver something worth talking about.

Away for the Weekend

I'll be taking off fairly soon and I won't be back until Sunday. During that time, regular comments participant Tena has graciously agreed to dazzle you with her wit and wisdom.

Stifle It

This is lovely:

The U.S. Army sent intelligence agents to investigate a conference about women and Islam at the UT School of Law.

UT law student and organizer Sahar Aziz was shocked at the Army's interest and methods.

"It was not a terrorism related conference. It was very benign ? The reason why we put it together is there had been a lot of debate on campus about these issues due to the burka [face-covering mask worn by Muslim women] in Afghanistan and Iraq," she said.

A few days later, two U.S. Army intelligence agents showed up and wanted a list of all the people who attended the conference.

They approached Jessica Biddle, who helped Aziz get funding for the event.

"[I said] that he was intimidating me and is there a problem? His response was 'no, no problem, we're investigating a couple of people who attended the conference and we need to see the list,'" Biddle said.

The Pathetic New York Times

Taken in by a fake photo.

And on Thursday, a new photograph of the senator and the actress began circulating via e-mail. Unlike the image Mr. Sampley bought, which shows Mr. Kerry seated several rows behind Ms. Fonda, this picture - its origins are unclear - shows them side by side, Ms. Fonda behind a microphone and Mr. Kerry, holding a notebook, to her right.

Next time photos of unclear origins appear, maybe the NYT should check Snopes before running with stories about them.

(thanks to reader sd)
(edited for clarity)


Max updates us on the spending frenzy by small government red-ink republicans.

Consumer Sentiment Plummets


Amendments Beaten Back in Mass.

They'll be back to try again next month.

More Arrests?

This is interesting:

The White House disclosed information in documents Thursday showing that President Bush (news - web sites) had been arrested once for a college prank and was cited for two automobile accidents and two speeding tickets before he enlisted in the National Guard.

The accidents and tickets were disclosed for the first time in response to questions about a portion of Bush's military record that had been blacked out when the file was made public during the 2000 presidential campaign.

The traffic violations are significant in the context of Bush's military career. At the time Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard, the Air Force typically would have had to issue a waiver for an applicant who had multiple arrests or driving violations.

An officer who served at the same time as the president, former Texas Air National Guard pilot Dean Roome, was required by the Air Force to get a waiver for a $25 speeding ticket when he enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1967.

There is no record of an enlistment waiver in Bush's military file.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan showed a small group of reporters a copy of Bush's application to be an officer, with nothing blacked out, after USA TODAY published a picture of the blacked-out document Thursday. The accompanying report said that Guard officials in Texas had been concerned about embarrassing information in Bush's military records before the files were released to the public beginning in 1999, according to two former Guard officials. Bush aides denied there was any effort to suppress any potentially embarrassing information.


Bush's military file contained a second document that also asked for information on any arrests. Portions of that page, his enlistment application, are also blacked out.

Meyer For Congress

Morris Meyer is taking on one of the toxic Texans - Joe Barton. If you like what you see, drop him a nickel, and if you're local sign up to help out.

Small World

A commenter over at Calpundit's place took note of the name below Bush's in his flight suspension document.

James R. Bath


I think for once he's actually earned the description "shrill," and I mean that in a good way.

Thursday, February 12, 2004



Martin and Lyon, founders of the first lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis (D.O.B.), have done and seen a lot in their lifetime pertaining to lesbian rights. After meeting in Seattle while working together in 1950, the two women quickly developed a friendship and began dating in 1953. This year marks their 50th anniversary.

According to Lyon, D.O.B., which was founded in 1955, began as a seed of an idea of one Filippino woman. "She wanted a place where lesbians could come together and dance and not be subject to raids by the police," said Lyon. Lyon and Martin were two of eight founders (four couples) of the organization. "We keep getting the credit because we're two of the only ones who are still around," she said. According to Lyon, the group was originally composed of four middle-class women and four working class women. One of the eight women was Hispanic; another was Filippino. "We were very politically correct," said Lyon.

Looking back, Lyon admits that times were really different then. "We had to be so secretive," she said. "We didn't even know that there were two other lesbian groups out there - one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles." Lyon adds that it was difficult to find out about other groups and to spread the word simply because they had to be so careful.

What began as merely a social group eventually became widely known and politically driven. D.O.B. concerned itself with issues such as lesbian mothers' rights and abolishing discrimination. "We weren't really interested in gay marriage early on," said Lyon. Gay marriage today, however, is quickly becoming a possible reality, specifically in Massachusetts. Lyon said that she never thought she would see such a case in her lifetime, and is hopeful for a positive outcome. "We were all ready for a rally in July," she said, referring to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, a lawsuit seeking gay marriage, that was originally expected this past summer.

Congratulations on their marriage!

The Translation Project

Juan Cole wants to translate important works of American writing into Arabic.



Tea and No Tea

Brad DeLong has a bit of fun with my good friend Don Luskin.

On the Ground in Mass.

Over at BOP a correspondent tells us about the debate in the Mass legislature.

Now, this supposedly polite and proper debate is getting nastier and nastier. State Rep. Marie Parente (D) was droning on and on this afternoon about her background as a foster child and Italian American and how she isn't "anti-color" which I assume means racist in 1930s English. I learned one thing from her, however, apparently the word "Nasty" comes from Thomas Nast's anti-Catholic political cartoons. Speaker Finneran tried to interrupt her to adjourn "briefly" but she talked right through him several times, stating that lawyers briefs were anything but. Then Finneran just turned off her microphone and gaveled the session adjourned to get rid of her.

But the best speech of today so far was Sen. Jarret Barrios (D), who told a personal tale of how his son got sick (104.5 degree fever) once and he couldn't take him to the hospital, because the papers had his partner (he is openly gay) listed as the parent and not him. He spoke eloquently and, in my view persuasively, about how a DOMA [Defense Of Marriage Act] would, in fact preclude any civil marriages.


So, I'm watching ABC's coverage of the AWOL issue and Terry Moran just said that the Dentist document "disproves" Terry MacAuliffe's charge that Bush was AWOL. What the hell? No one ever claimed that Bush never ever ever ever ever showed up for any Guard duty ever. The point is that he missed a medical exam in Texas, was grounded from flying, appears to have missed at least 6 months of duty at some point, left Texas without getting permission, got retroactive permission after he arrived in Alabama, and then potentially didn't show up as promised in Alabama, even if he did get his Teefers checked.

Liberal media my ass.

...Peter Jennings also reported a bunch of crappy poll numbers for the administration, but then made sure we all knew that this was only because the Democrats have been getting lots of positive coverage lately.

Bush Adultery Scandal

You know, if respected Tennesse Law Professor Glenn Reynolds can casually link to the National Enquirer then so can I.

But with less than a year to go to the 2000 election, the first big sexual broadside has been fired at the Bush bandwagon by 35-year-old Tammy Phillips, a partner in a gym in Carrollton, Tex.

As an ENQUIRER team looked into her bombshell claims, we learned that Tammy is a former stripper, who began dancing in clubs when she was only 14. She claims she was introduced to Gov. Bush by her uncle, a prominent Republican, in early December 1997 during a political function at a hotel in Midland, Tex.

"I was wearing a tiny miniskirt -- and it was instant combustion," she told The ENQUIRER.

Tammy alleges that she and Gov. Bush made passionate love that very day before leaving the hotel.

Bush No Show

The Memphis Flyer has a couple of former Alabama Guardsmen stating that Bush never showed up.

MEMPHIS – Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to expect him and were on the lookout for him. He never showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain.

The question of Bush’s presence in 1972 at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, Alabama – or the lack of it – has become an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 63: “I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with.” But, says Mintz, that “somebody” -- better known to the world now as the president of the United States -- never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a FedEx pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.

“And I was looking for him,” repeated Mintz, who said that he assumed that Bush “changed his mind and went somewhere else” to do his substitute drill. It was not “somewhere else,” however, but the 187th Air National Guard Tactical squadron at Dannelly to which the young Texas flyer had requested transfer from his regular Texas unit – the reason being Bush’s wish to work in Alabama on the ultimately unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of family friend Winton "Red" Blount.

Fire Bob Novak

This Murray Waas article is pretty damning. Shorter Murray - Bob's full of shit.

Two government officials have told the FBI that conservative columnist Robert Novak was asked specifically not to publish the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in his now-famous July 14 newspaper column. The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources.

These new accounts, provided by a current and former administration official close to the situation, directly contradict public statements made by Novak. He has downplayed his own knowledge about the potential harm to Plame and ongoing intelligence operations by making that disclosure. He has also claimed in various public statements that intelligence officials falsely led him to believe that Plame was only an analyst, and the only potential consequences of her exposure as a CIA officer would be that she might be inconvenienced in her foreign travels.

The two administration officials questioned by the FBI characterized Novak's statements as untrue and misleading, according to a government official and an attorney official familiar with the FBI interviews.

One of the sources also asserted that the credibility of the administration officials who spoke to the FBI is enhanced by the fact that the officials made their statement to the federal law enforcement authorities. If the officials were found to be lying to the FBI, they could be potentially prosecuted for making false statements to federal investigators.

Bush Discharge Papers

Marty Heldt points out that while we have Bush's discharge papers from TANG, it doesn't seem we have his final discharge papers from ARF, though this FOIA request response letter says they exist.

...if this was the practice back then, the discharge papers could have a damning re-enlistment code.


Well, Drudge has a big boner right now. You can go there yourselves if you want. In any case, yesterday I was going to (but didn't) post that now that Matthew Yglesias has fully backed off his "Howard Dean Inevitable" idea, it was inevitable that the Dean campaign would come back to life.

Anyway, I don't care who Kerry is boinking, frankly, but if this is a) true and b) recent as in "after his decision to run for president" then he ain't too bright.

But, any "respectable" (hah) media outlet that reports this without getting some sources other than Drudge should be ashamed.

...Fox is already running with it. is Boston radio.

I have to admit there are times when I wish I was so all powerful that I could post up anything I wanted to and the rest of the media would report it as gospel.

...Hesiod notes that something similar was pushed in '92. Anyway, this does sound like a very Roveian smear - the trademark little details which don't quite make sense but have a big titillation factor.

The More Important Issue

Revisiting things that the press should have covered 4 years ago is fun, but this really is much more important:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 — It started almost casually last fall, with F.B.I. agents leaving business cards under doors around the White House, politely calling for appointments and even meeting some officials, without any lawyers present, over a few beers at a nearby bar.

But the investigation into who at the White House leaked the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer has become much more intense in the last few weeks. Some administration officials have been summoned for confrontational interviews. Current and former members of the White House's communications and foreign policy teams have hired lawyers. At least a handful of White House aides have had to appear before a federal grand jury.

At the White House, the topic is rarely discussed openly among those who have already been drawn into the investigation and those who think they may be, people who have been questioned in the case said. The result, they said, is an information vacuum that is being filled to some extent by fear of what current or former colleagues may be telling investigators.


So although White House officials have publicly pledged to help investigators, there is some resistance just beneath the surface. Some people who have spoken with investigators say they have refused to sign statements that would waive any promise of confidentiality they received from reporters. The effort to obtain the statements is apparently intended to deprive journalists who wrote about the leak an ability, if questioned or subpoenaed, to cite the need to protect anonymous sources.

Some people questioned in the case say they have also declined to sign agreements that they will not disclose any information about their encounters with investigators.

At a White House that has largely avoided scandal — and one that has been distinguished by remarkable internal cohesion — the escalating investigation has brought unusual personal stress and the uncertainties that afflict anyone caught up in a full-scale criminal inquiry.

Some White House officials, concerned about what the investigation might mean for themselves or their bosses, have been pumping reporters for information about what they know. Others, so far untouched by the investigation, are sighing with relief.

It's interesting. This article pulls the curtain away a little bit - admitting that the information flow between journalists and those they cover is a two way street.

While There's Blood in the Water...

In case there are some journalists hankering to do a bit of investigating. First, you could pursue the story about why Bush obtained a new driver's license number while governor of Texas.

Now why would George Dubya require a Texas driver's license with an entirely new number? It was obtained on March 31, 1995, as was his wife's Laura Welch Bush's. His wife and daughters didn't need new numbers, nor did his famous parents - former president and first lady, George H. and Barbara Pierce Bush - who all would seem to be at as much risk security-wise. And by the way, doesn't Texas require renewal of a driver's license every four years on one's birthday? Did George Dubya have something in his past to hide to cause him to purge the old record and number? This seems especially confusing since his birthday is July 6, 1946, but he obtained his new number on March 31, 1995 as a renewal.

Due to this little anomaly, we thought perhaps we should check to see if this was a common practice for former governors of Texas, but no, they were not listed among the first four numbers previous to Dubya's. Now, in all fairness to Dubya we must ask why he would get a new number and not just assume it was to hide something in his past life. And why would he be given the nine-digit DL number 000000005? His wife's DL number is 005295107.

Second, you could pursue this line, first suggested by the Daily Brew years back:

We know that in 1976 President Select Bush was convicted of DUI (driving under the influence) in Kennebunkport Maine. The Daily Brew has learned from reliable sources that after that conviction, Bush regularly operated his family's King Air (about a 4 million dollar twin turboprop), as a civilian. However, to maintain his FAA license, Bush, like all licensed pilots, would have had to submit his medical exam by a Aviation Medical Examiner at least every 2 years. Persons filling out that exam are REQUIRED by federal law to disclose any DWIs at the time of the pilot's aviation medical examination. Any false or misleading statements on that form are federal offenses. Pilots who have DWIs must have their medical flight clearance revoked for 3 years (and The Daily Brew understands back then it was 5). Then they have to apply for reinstatement, and give reasons why they feel they have recovered from their alcoholism (such as treatment records).

If Bush filed a flight plan between 1978 and 1981, that would constitute prima facie evidence that Bush had a valid pilot's license after 1978. If the FAA issued President Select Bush a medical certificate after 1976, the Daily Brew believes that would constitute prima facie evidence that Bush committed perjury in filling out his medical certificate.

...and, Greg Beato uncovers another timeline discrepancy.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 363K new jobless! Lucky Duckies, every one! Retail sales are down, driven it seems by a sharp decline in durable goods purchases.

Chandler Leads Kerr

Good news:

Democrat Ben Chandler leads Republican Alice Forgy Kerr in Tuesday's special election in the 6th Congressional District, but he still lacks a majority, according to The Courier-Journal's latest Bluegrass Poll.

The race to fill the vacancy created by Republican Ernie Fletcher's election as governor has drawn state and national interest, partly because of Chandler's loss to Fletcher and because it is the first Democrat-Republican race of national impact in 2004.

The telephone survey, taken last Thursday through Monday, showed Chandler with 49.4percent, Kerr with 39.6percent, and 11percent undecided.

The poll, which surveyed 466 self-described likely voters, has an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Thus, Chandler holds a slight lead when accounting for the error margin.

The figures for Chandler and Kerr included voters who initially said they were undecided but were leaning toward a candidate. Without the leaners, Chandler's lead was within the error margin.

But, Kerr is running some nasty ads:

Democrats see it as an opportunity to pick up a seat and cast doubts on Republican prospects this fall, while the GOP — led by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — is fighting to keep the seat vacated by Republican Ernie Fletcher's election as governor.

McConnell's chief of staff is managing Kerr's campaign, two other McConnell staffers are on leave to work in it, and another McConnell aide has shadowed Kerr at some events.

A recent Kerr TV ad featured a bloodhound searching for Chandler's positions on issues such as taxes and Iraq. The ad, titled "They're Back," evoked memories of the ads that McConnell used to oust Democrat Walter "Dee" Huddleston from the Senate in 1984. McConnell said he didn't help create the Kerr ad but saw it before it appeared.

Kerr said when party leaders nominated her Dec. 13 that Bush might visit the district to help her. When her campaign said in late January that he would not, because it would have to pay excessive security costs, Kerr's detractors in both parties said Bush didn't want to start his re-election year by tying himself to a losing campaign.

An extra bonus of winning this one is that it'll be a nice little bitch-slap to Mitch McConnell.

Give'em if you've got'em!

Loss of Flight Status Should've Spurred Probe

Now they're getting to the important bits:

President Bush's August 1972 suspension from flight status in the Texas Air National Guard -- triggered by his failure to take a required annual flight physical -- should have prompted an investigation by his commander, a written acknowledgement by Bush, and perhaps a written report to senior Air Force officials, according to Air Force regulations in effect at the time.

Bush, who was a fighter-interceptor pilot assigned to the Texas Air National Guard, last flew in April 1972 -- just before the missed physical and 30 months before his flight commitment ended. He also did not attend National Guard training for several months that year and was permitted to cut short his military commitment a year later in 1973.


Two retired National Guard generals, in interviews yesterday, said they were surprised that Bush -- or any military pilot -- would forgo a required annual flight physical and take no apparent steps to rectify the problem and return to flying. "There is no excuse for that. Aviators just don't miss their flight physicals," said Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard, in an interview.

Is anyone else starting to think that after being hung out to dry in Iraq, the Guard is striking back?

From Colin Powell's Autobiography


In Secretary of State Colin Powell's autobiography, My American Journey, he says, "I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in the Army Reserve and National Guard units... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country."

...and the general is losing his cool.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general known for his even temperament, paused yesterday during a congressional hearing to berate a Hill staffer for shaking his head as Powell offered a defense of his prewar statements on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The public scolding came after Powell had already endured a number of attacks by Democrats on the administration's Iraq policy during an appearance before the House International Relations Committee. He had just snapped at a member of Congress who had casually declared President Bush "AWOL" from the Vietnam War.

Powell was recalling for the panel his review of the prewar intelligence. "I went and lived at the CIA for about four days to make sure that nothing was," he began, when he paused and glared at a staffer seated behind the members of Congress.

"Are you shaking your head for something, young man, back there?" Powell asked. "Are you part of these proceedings?"

Powell's unusual remarks threatened to derail the hearing. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a 12-year veteran of the House, objected, "Mr. Chairman, I've never heard a witness reprimand a staff person in the middle of a question."

More on Bush in Alabama

From the Farmer.

...and Oliver gets in touch with an evasive Mr. Campenni. Nice try? Sounds like game, set, and match to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

...Even More


A second former Texas Guard official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, was told by a participant that commanders and Bush advisers were particularly worried about mentions in the records of arrests of Bush before he joined the National Guard in 1968, the second official said.

...Yet Another Wrinkle

My head is spinning, and it isn't just the gin.

NEW YORK - (KRT) - George W. Bush left his Texas Air National Guard assignment and moved to Alabama in 1972 even though the Air Force denied his request for a transfer, according to his military records.

In fact, Bush did not even ask for an official transfer until nine days after he moved to Alabama in May 1972.

The Air Force quickly rejected Bush's request, saying the fighter pilot was "ineligible" to move to the Alabama unit Bush wanted - a squadron of postal handlers.

Nevertheless, Bush stayed in Alabama until his Texas commanders finally gave him written authorization five months later to train there.

The controversy over Bush's Vietnam War-era record - and Democratic charges that he was AWOL - has prodded records documenting his service into public scrutiny. While they suggest he complied with the requirements of the time, they also show long absences from duty and that he was suspended from flying.

As the questions about his service continued at the White House for a second day, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan denounced them as "gutter politics."

Bush went to Alabama to work on the Republican senate campaign of Winton (Red) Blount. Mary Marks Curtis of Montgomery, Ala., who worked with Bush and dated him at the time, said that after the election, "he left and came back to Montgomery in late November or early December. He told me that he was coming back to Montgomery because he had to fulfill his Guard duty."

Defense Department payroll records released by the White House show Bush was paid for two days of Guard duty in October and four days in mid-November.

Another aspect of Bush's service that continues to prompt questions is why he missed a physical in 1972 that caused him to be suspended as a pilot.

In 1999, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said Bush missed his physical because he was in Alabama, and there were only a few special doctors who could do physicals.

McClellan would not even let the question be asked Wednesday. When a Daily News reporter tried several times to ask about the missed physical, McClellan said, "I'm not going to engage in gutter politics. I'm going to focus on what we're doing to make the world safer, to make the world a better place."

Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense for personnel and a Navy flier in Vietnam, said a pilot losing his flight status was a serious matter.

"We spent $1 million to train him to fly," Korb said. "You're supposed to be ready to fly if we need you. If you didn't show up for your flight physical, good heavens!"

Now I'm Even More Confused

So, the White House has released records they claim prove that Bush was in Alabama - a dental exam dated January 6, 1973.

A copy of the dental examination done on Jan. 6, 1973, documents the president serving at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement. Bush completed most of his National Guard training in Texas, but in 1972 was allowed to leave and perform his duties in Alabama so he could work on a Senate political campaign.

The White House obtained the dental record, along with other medical records it did not release, from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colo., McClellan said. The record was accompanied by a statement from Dr. Richard J. Tubb, the president's current physician, who stated that he read Bush's records, which covered a period from 1968 to 1973, and concurred with the doctors' assertion that Bush was "fit" for service.

Note for the media - the burning questions are why he didn't take a medical exam the previous August and why he never flew again. I have no idea what this new made up 'was he fit to serve?' question is.

But, in any case, every other timeline of Bush at that time says he returned to Houston the previous November.

Here's one.

Here's another.

The contradictions are starting to grow exponentially...

...according to the Slate timeline he started working for P.U.L.L. in Houston in January, though that could have started after January 6. His ARF records show him earning points - but not where - from Jan. 4-6 and Jan. 8-10. A lingering question is whether his work for Pull was a community service assignment for some infraction [Correction: The issue is whether Bush started working for P.U.L.L. for some reason other than the fact that he drove his car drink into the neighbor's garbage cans.]

Slate also notes the oddness of Bush earning points on Armistice day, the previous Nov. 11, when they claim Guard units never drill.


Someone sent me this letter earlier today and I started reading it and burst out laughing. Hesiod takes the time to explain why it's such bullshit, and Oliver notes that it seems to be making the rounds.

Oh, to be a wingnut. Then I could just make stuff up too. Or, sign my name to stuff Karl Rove prepares for me.

Reality Shmeality

This is pretty amazing:

Criticism from Republicans and Democrats that President Bush gave a shaky performance on Sunday on "Meet the Press" did not stop his re-election campaign from incorporating digitally enhanced excerpts from it into a promotional video that it posted on its Web site on Tuesday.

The campaign said it would remove the video from the site after NBC News complained that it was unfairly using the interview to support the re-election effort. The campaign said that it had violated no laws, but that it decided to take the video off after it realized how angry NBC News was over the use.


NBC News executives said they were particularly alarmed that the excerpt ran with music and carefully chosen pictures of Mr. Bush.... The executives said the words seemed to have been digitally enhanced, to do away with some stammering.

Kerry the Big Homo Lover

As I said in a previous post, it doesn't matter what Kerry says or does regarding the "gay marriage" issue. The Republican noise machine, aided and abetted by the right wing media, will make sure we know that John Kerry is for mandatory homosexual nuptials for all.

Take this AP headline, telling us that "Kerry Signed Letter Backing Gay Marriage." Of course, the article itself says no such thing.

Lately Kerry's been trying to finesse this issue. It's a big mistake - because even if he wanted to there's nothing he can really do. Democrats, particularly liberal democratic presidential candidates from the state of Mass. are big homo lovers - he may as well cut the crap and embrace it.

Bush Lies to the American People

From Meet the Press:

Russert: But you would allow pay stubs, tax records, anything to show that you were serving during that period?

President Bush: Yeah. If we still have them, but I — you know, the records are kept in Colorado, as I understand, and they scoured the records.

And I'm just telling you, I did my duty, and it's politics, you know, to kind of ascribe all kinds of motives to me. But I have been through it before. I'm used to it. What I don't like is when people say serving in the Guard is — is — may not be a true service.

Russert: But you authorize the release of everything to settle this?

President Bush: Yes, absolutely.
We did so in 2000, by the way.

What will we tell the children?

Chandler Gets Big Endorsement

From Kentucky paper.

If you got'em, send a few more nickels to help us win one. The KY6 would be a pickup for Democrats.


It's amazing how little our media talks about The Day That Changed Everything, except of course to point out that it changed everything. This New York Observer article by Gail Sheehy is informative and creepy. A must read. How have our media been so uncurious? It really is shocking.

The RNC Wants your Opinion

Give it to them.

The Daily Scotty

Comment on the press briefing here.

Bad Dollar Day



The Daily AWOL

From the Dallas Morning News:

Retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said Tuesday that in 1997, then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not anything there that will embarrass the governor."

Col. Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he saw Mr. Bush's file and documents from it discarded in a trash can. He said he recognized the documents as retirement point summaries and pay forms.

Bush aides denied any destruction of records in Mr. Bush's personnel file. "The charges are just flat-out not true," said Dan Bartlett, White House communications director.

How Things Change

Joseph Galloway writing for Knight Ridder:

In one recent high-level meeting, Rumsfeld looked at Secretary of State Colin Powell and said, "Jerry (Ambassador Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian in Iraq) works for you, right?"

Powell looked as if he'd been struck by lightning. Bremer and every other U.S. official in Iraq reports directly to Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Rumsfeld demanded and got complete authority over the military, over the civilian authority in charge of rebuilding the country, over the administration's $87 billion Iraq budget, over every line of every contract let. And suddenly he forgot that Bremer works for him?

That same week, Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were summoned to a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss how the U.S. contracting system is working in Iraq.

When Wolfowitz was asked a tough question about the controversies surrounding the U.S. contracting efforts in Iraq, he turned to Armitage and said: "You can answer that one, right, Rich?" Armitage answered by noting that the Department of Defense and the Office of the Secretary of Defense control every American contract let in Iraq, and that the State Department has authority over none of those contracts.

"Iraq is now a contaminated environment and Rumsfeld and his people want out," said one senior administration official. "They can't wait for July 1 when the CPA (Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority) turns into the U.S. Embassy and the whole mess they have made becomes Colin Powell's."

Read the whole thing.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Mark Steyn, Howard Kurtz, the Boston Globe, Instapundit, Sean Hannity. What do they all have in common? They've all propagated one version or another of this (Steyn's version):

A brave man in Vietnam, he returned home to appear before Congress and not merely denounce the war but damn his "band of brothers" as a gang of rapists, torturers and murderers led by officers happy to license them to commit war crimes with impunity.

Here's the full context of Kerry's testimony to a Senate committee about Vietnam:

“I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.”

“They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”

The armchair warriors. Lovely folk.

Read the Damn Amendment

I know our press aren't often allowed to turn on their brains, and when someone tells them that an amendment is a "compromise" and that it doesn't stop legislatures from allowing civil unions they're supposed to write that down, but has anyone read this amendment?

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Now, I'm no fancy lawyer, but to me the "legal incidents thereof" sounds pretty much like "oh, and don't be giving them any of the benefits/rights/protections of marriage either!"

...I think non-lawyer Jesse has the right take.

...a few people seem to be misunderstanding this and I think it's because they're missing a phrase. It says, "Neither this Constitution [federal] or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law." This isn't just about those pesky "activist" judges interpretating some equal protection or other part of their state constitutions to "require" gay marriage as is happening in Mass. This would also block any state laws enacted by the state legislatures from doing similar.

...Jack Balkin, a fancy lawer, explains.

This Is Cute

From the New Yorker:

Vice-President Dick Cheney "has been both an architect and a beneficiary of the increasingly close relationship between the Department of Defense and an √©lite group of private military contractors—a relationship that has allowed companies such as Halliburton to profit enormously," Jane Mayer writes in "Contract Sport," in the 79th Anniversary Issue of The New Yorker. Mayer reveals that in a top-secret document dated February 3, 2001, a high-level official of the National Security Council directed the N.S.C. staff to co√∂perate fully with Cheney's newly formed Energy Task Force as it considered the "melding" of what she calls "two seemingly unrelated areas of policy," which the document describes as a "review of operational policies toward rogue states" and "actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields." Mark Medish, a senior official at the N.S.C. under President Clinton, tells Mayer, "If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans." Halliburton, the energy company that Cheney was the C.E.O. of for five years, has received contracts worth some eleven billion dollars for work in Iraq, Mayer reports.


One businessman with close ties to the Bush Administration tells Mayer, "Anything that has to do with Iraq policy, Cheney's the man to see. He's running it, the way that L.B.J. ran the space program." The businessman offered an example: Jack Kemp, the former congressman and Cabinet official, had Cheney over for dinner last summer, along with two sons of the President of the United Arab Emirates. "It was just social," Kemp says. "We're old friends." Kemp says he is working on two business ventures in Iraq; General Tommy Franks will serve on the advisory board of one of them. While Tom Korologos, a Republican lobbyist who has served as a counsellor to L. Paul Bremer in Iraq, calls talk of political influence over the process "bullshit," the businessman explains the situation this way: "It's like Russia. This is how corruption is done these days. It's not about bribes. You just help your friends to get access. Cheney doesn't call the Defense Department and tell them, 'Pick Halliburton.' It's just having dinner with the right people."

Clark's Out


Tuesday, February 10, 2004


Rodger Payne comes up with plausible source for the forged Niger documents.

Torture Lou!


Briefing Transcript

I think the key thing they got out of Scotty is that he admits that the records don't say anything about where Bush served. We're given two basic facts - 1) Bush recalls serving in Texas and Alabama. 2) The records show when he was paid, and therefore he served. Scotty admits the records don't show where he served, and doesn't even seem to come flat out and say that Bush served in Alabama (unless I missed it). Just that the president recalls.

...and, among other things, Calpundit notes that the Alabama training schedule doesn't match up with his ARF Statement of Points Earned schedul.

quick version so you don't have to squint: The Alabama training schedule shows drill weekends on 7-8 Oct and 4-5 Nov. The ARF form shows Oct 28-29 and Nov 11-14.

Congratulation to the White House Press Corps!

They all earn their Press Behavior Contracts today! No Turkee for them!

Honor and Dignity


Chile's mission to the United Nations was spied on in the run-up to war in Iraq, the former envoy has alleged.
Technicians inspecting the telephones found they had been tampered with, Juan Gabriel Valdes said in an interview.

At the time, Chile was one of several countries seen as undecided on whether to back a proposed resolution sanctioning the use of force in Iraq.

UK media reports at the time alleged the US was monitoring communications from envoys from those countries.

Those reports kindled his suspicions, Mr Valdes said in his interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"We called technicians to see if the Chilean mission's phones at the UN had been tampered with," he said.

"The result was positive. We discovered the great majority of phones had been tampered with."

Mr Valdes is the current ambassador to Argentina.


The fabulous David E. is on right now...

...oops, off now.

9 Days

So, 9 days of pay records prove George fulfilled his annual obligation to the Guard? Even if we accepted that it was proof he showed up, that doesn't sound like the standard commitment.

...article changed. It originally said 9 days between May '72 and May '73, now it says 6 days from May-Dec '72.

Dear Media

Payroll records don't prove attendance. Your colleague, Richard Cohen, along with numerous others, can attest to that.


....Fortunately, the gaggle seems to understand this.


You know, back in my college days I went to see CEA head Greg Mankiw speak. He gave a talk in which he was extolling the virtues of teaching economics. His reasoning was that knowing a bit of economics was necessary to be an informed citizen, and it was necessary to have informed citizens in order to have an electorate which would support reasonable policy decisions. Fair enough. Then he went on to argue that there were a few policy issues - I remember rent control and free trade as being a couple of them (though this was years ago so my memory could be faulty) - that voters would have the "right" opinion about if only they were educated. Okay, more debatable but still fair enough - a little bit of Econ 101 goes a long way on such things. But, then he took the argument to the next level, and argued that voters would have the "right opinion" (and therefore the right vote) on such issues even if supporting them went against their own self-interest. In other words, people would vote to remove Rent Control for aesthetic reasons even if it meant giving up their $400 per month apartment. This is where he transcended free market fundamentalism and moved into free market Talibanism. Few policy changes benefit all citizens - generally there are winners and losers and the strongest claim that can be made is that in principle when policy changes increase the overall level of income/output, then the losers can be compensated by the winners with an appropriate amount of redistribution. These people fall into the trap of perceiving the level of GDP or average income as value-free metrics of the health of the economy. They aren't value free. Saying improvements in GDP are "always good," and voters should always support policies which in theory do so, embraces the idea that, say, this is the case even if it will make life worse for 90% of the population, while improving things for 10% on the basis that the "average" will be higher. It's simply a fetishizing of GDP, and embracing the belief that we all should. It's reducing "the greater good" down to one number.

Anyway, I was reminded of that when reading this:

WASHINGTON - The movement of American factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation, the Bush administration said Monday.

The embrace of foreign "outsourcing," a trend that has contributed to U.S. job losses and become a campaign issue, is contained in the president's annual report to Congress on the health of the U.S. economy.

"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, which prepared the report. "More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."

Look, most economic theory (And most economists) will say that free trade is a rising tide, but no one does or should claim that it's a rising tide which lifts all boats. It doesn't. And, asking people to support policies which go against their own self-interest on the grounds that it's going to increase the value of some economic statistic is ludicrous.

...just wanted to add that it isn't as if I don't think people are capable of supporting policies which go against their own narrow self-interests - either by truly making charitable sacrifices or simply pursuing some notion of "enlightened self-interest" which recognizes an overall personal net benefit from some action of collective choice which, say, raises their taxes. I just reject that the simple metric of per capita GDP, or some abstract notion of "economic efficiency," does or should embody this notion of the "greater good." There's a sense that per capita GDP is a valueless measure of an economy's wellbeing, but it isn't. If policies which lead to higher per capita GDP also have huge distributional consequences, then ignoring those consequences isn't eschewing value judgments - it's simply sticking your head in the sand and pretending the consequences don't exist.

Gibson's Passion

Orcinus has a great post on the whole subject. It's kind of funny, really - Gibson, a Pius X Catholic, is marketing the film to fundamentalist Protestants, about whom Pius X Catholics believe are not on the path to salvation.

More Lies

From the WSJ:

WASHINGTON -- The White House stepped back from a high-profile assertion by President Bush, in his January 2002 State of the Union Address, that U.S. forces had uncovered evidence of a potential attack against an American nuclear facility.

In the speech, Mr. Bush warned of a terrorist threat to the nation, saying that the U.S. had found "diagrams of American nuclear power plants" in Afghanistan.

Coming just months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- and as U.S. forces were on the hunt for al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- the statement was offered as evidence of the depth of antipathy among Islamic extremists, and of "the madness of the destruction they design."

"Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears," Mr. Bush told Congress and the nation in the televised speech. He said "we have found" diagrams of public water facilities, instructions on how to make chemical arms, maps of U.S. cities and descriptions of U.S. landmarks, in addition to the nuclear-plant plans.

Monday night, the White House defended the warnings about Islamic extremist intentions, but said the concerns highlighted by Mr. Bush were based on intelligence developed before and after the Sept. 11 attacks, and that no plant diagrams were actually found in Afghanistan. "There's no additional basis for the language in the speech that we have found," a senior administration official said.

What the hell? This was 2002. This had nothing to do with Iraq. There was no direct reason for this particular lie except to scare the shit out of us all. Jeebus H. Effing Khryst. This makes me madder than all the Iraq bullshit. That bullshit at least had a purpose - to lead us into a horribly pointless war. But, that little tidbit was just to make us frightened of the monsters under our bed and pray that God's appointed Leader, George J.C. Bush, would save us from the evil Terra ists who were going to kill us all!

This type of thing just confirms our most cynical fears - that they were exploiting the hell out of this terrorism stuff from Day 1. Bastards!

And, yes, lying to congress is a crime.

If I Were a Liberal Think Tank...

Or a media watching think tank, I would hire someone to make transcripts of Don Imus's radio show and Mike Barnicle's radio show. On both shows, which I almost never listen to, the Washington Clown Corps, particularly the axis of russert-and-cokie gang, regularly debase themselves. People often email me things they heard on the shows which I can't verify so I don't run with them (unless there are Imus transcripts somewhere that I've missed).

One person said that on Mike Barnicle's radio show, Russert said he couldn't be too hard on Bush because the leaders of Iran and North Korea would be watching and it would be wrong to make Bush look bad by being too tough. You know, the old "it would be wrong to show those tyrannical regimes without a free press what a free press would look like" excuse. Or something.

Anyway, I can't verify this - I'm just throwing it out there as a suggestion to someone with a few bucks. Imus transcripts in particular would be worth weeks and weeks of fun for the Washington Clown Corps.

More on AWOL

Richard Cohen has a nice column which is definitely worth reading.

Also, Josh Marshall has a message for the Washington Press - the only privacy issues relating to Bush's military records are the ones he chooses to have. If he promised to release all the records, then those privacy issues ... should not be issues.

More on Chandler

This came yesterday, but I missed it. According to the Chandler campaign, donations ending in $.18, and therefore marked as coming from readers of this blog, total $7008.48 so far. Thanks all!

[UPDATE: Actually, that was as of February 2nd - I missed the email back then.]

And, more from Roll Call:

Candidates like Ben Chandler, a Democrat competing in Kentucky’s special election to replace Rep. turned Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), are tapping into a new breed of political animal with potentially deep pockets — the Web log reader.

“We’re raising [considerable] money off the blogs,” said Chandler spokesman Jason Sauer. “It’s been really successful. Really beyond anything we’ve expected.”

With an investment of only $2,000, and in less than two weeks, the campaign has raked in between $45,000 and $50,000 in contributions from blog readers, and that number is growing every day, said Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas.

Chandler — a former state auditor and former state attorney general — is facing off against GOP state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr in the Feb. 17 special election for the Lexington-area House seat. But while Kerr has outraised Chandler by several hundred thousand dollars — as of late last week, Kerr had raised about $1.2 million and Chandler was estimating his fundraising total at about $650,000 — Chandler’s campaign says its fundraising pace is picking up and at least part of the surge has come from the Web.

“It has been phenomenal,” Nickolas said. “I get an e-mail every time there’s a contribution — and we know from the e-mail the source is a blog when they come through that avenue. Since the morning of Jan. 29, the FEC [filing] cut-off, I’ve put all those e-mails in a separate file. So far there are 711.”

Regarding the campaign in general, from Stu Rothenberg:

Unless voters in Kentucky’s 6th district suddenly have a change of heart, the Republicans are headed for a rocky Feb. 17 special election in the Lexington-area House district. Former two-term state Attorney General Ben Chandler (D), not state Rep. Alice Forgy Kerr (R), has the advantage in the final days before the election.
But worse than the loss of a single House seat, a Republican defeat would suggest some problems for President Bush and his party.

This isn’t exactly what Republicans expected to happen when the seat became open, following Republican Ernie Fletcher’s election as governor in November.

GOP strategists planned to make the special election a referendum on a popular president and a contrast of ideologies in a conservative district. That way, they figured, they could elect Kerr to Congress even though the district has a Democratic registration advantage and is politically competitive.

But, instead of being an unadulterated asset, the president is proving to be more of a mixed blessing, and Kerr and the Republicans are struggling, at least so far, to convince voters that the race presents a stark choice between a liberal and a conservative.

Let's make Karl Rove cry!

Monday, February 09, 2004

Blogads Success Story

According to Politcal Wire, the Chandler campaign raised $40,000 10 days after an ad buy. I'm guessing they spent less than $2500 (the number is for all their ads, not just the one here). Not a bad return.

If This Were the Clinton Administration...

From what the eggman is telling us, the Plame investigation is hot and heavy. If this were the Clinton administration, we'd have a bevy of bimbos from the barbizon school of former prosecutors on Larry King 5 nights per week giving us the play by play on the real and made up news.

...story here, though it is Susan Schmidt take with a grain of salt.

Weak Dollar Good

Well, this is a big switch from decades of policy.

Washington -- Treasury Secretary John Snow has tacitly but unmistakably abandoned Washington's longstanding support for a strong dollar in favor of a weak dollar that is getting weaker, though he continues to insist there has been no change in policy.

Stripped of the code words and elliptical references to "excessive volatility" in exchange rates, the message that Snow delivered over the weekend to finance ministers from Europe and Japan was that the dollar's plunge against the euro is just fine and that the dollar should now decline more rapidly against Asian currencies as well.

In so doing, the Bush administration has made a calculated economic and political choice. By condoning and even encouraging a cheap dollar, the administration is providing a big push to American exporters by making their products less expensive in foreign markets.

That should encourage more hiring and lower unemployment leading up to the election. The only immediate losers are exporters in Europe and Asia who have to choose between cutting prices and losing market share in the United States.

But the long-term risks are substantial. At some point, a weaker dollar will inevitably lead to higher prices for imported goods -- almost all consumer electronics bought by Americans, most of their clothing, many of their cars and much of the oil that provides the fuel to drive them.

A much bigger risk is that a plunging dollar could contribute to a rise in interest rates, as foreign investors demand fatter risk premiums before agreeing to buy hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Treasury securities to finance America's high levels of indebtedness.

The United States needs to attract $1.5 billion a day in net capital inflows from abroad -- $500 billion a year more than it sends out -- which means that the world is being flooded by American IOUs at levels never seen before. The administration's huge budget deficits could increase that need for foreign capital even more, and higher interest rates would add billions of dollars to those deficits.

Uh, Maine?

We're waiting...

Just Crazy

I didn't have a chance earlier to think carefully about what the hell the Bush administration was actually claiming with their 2004 jobs projections, though I knew it sounded pretty weird to me. Brad DeLong pulls out an envelope and doodles some numbers on the back of it and realizes that the Bush administration is projecting that we will gain 470,000 320,000 jobs per month. Every month in 2004.

I believe after the last tax cut I promised that if they made their jobs projection I would vote for Bush in '04. I make that promise once again with this new round of numbers. Not going to lose sleep over it. That's one crazy-ass prediction. And, it's evidence enough that we should believe nothing that comes out of the political wing of this administration.

...Billmon suggests that it's time to rename the CEA the Council of Economic Whores.

...and Brad realizes how they came up with the number. Pure bullshit.

...Brad made a wee error with the dates/baseline. But, it's still a pretty ludicrous prediction, given the other predictions. And, as he points out, it implies they're predicting 0% productivity growth.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Wow, Crazy Andy is far more shrill than Krugman ever was.

It's all so silly, however. There's nothing we know now, aside from the current state of the Iraq excellent adventure, that we didn't know a year ago.

Yet Another Job Creation Promise

Something else we can hold them to:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy should shed its jobless label this year with the creation of about 2.6 million new positions, the White House forecast on Monday.

If realized, the jobs turnaround could help President Bush (news - web sites)'s re-election prospects. Bush has faced withering fire from Democrats over the lack of new jobs.

In the annual Economic Report of the President, the White House said the number of workers on U.S. non-farm payrolls was likely to rise to an average to 132.7 million this year from a 2003 average it thought would come in at 130.1 million.

According to the latest jobs figures released by the Labor Department (news - web sites) on Friday, which incorporated data revisions, payroll employment averaged just 129.9 million last year.

Last year, the Bush administration was looking for the creation of about 1.7 million jobs. But the economy actually lost 53,000 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs lost since Bush took office to 2.2 million.

This is a more complicated promise - comparing averages rather than totals, but still something to watch...

On Misspent Youth

For the record, on the whole I really don't care what people did when they were 15 years old or 22 or even 30. I don't care who did or didn't go fight in Vietnam. I don't care who did or didn't use legal, unethical, or illegal means to escape service. I really don't. I look forward to the day when our presidential candidates are no longer from the Vietnam generation so we can be done with the whole thing.

But, there are two reasons that Bush's military record are at issue. The first is fairness - Bill Clinton was called a "draft dodger" throughout his entire presidency. That charge, which I don't think Peter Jennings ever called "reckless," is untrue if we're keeping with the legal definition. And, if we're referring to the general idea that "Clinton tried to avoid going to Vietnam," then almost every Republican in congress (and plenty of Democrats) is a "draft dodger."

But, that's a secondary reason. The primary reason is that Bush has made his military service an issue. If in 1999 Bush had gotten up and said "You know what? I was grounded because I refused to take a required physical. Then, I transferred to Alabama and didn't show up much. I'm not proud of it, and eventually I managed to get an honorable discharge, but it wasn't a shining moment in my life," then I'd be fine with the whole thing. I can't speak for other people, but that's my take.

But, he didn't. He claimed to have flown for several years in Texas after his training. A lie. He used his Guard service to claim he learned important life lessons - from his autobiography (thanks to Flitcraft).

I can remember walking up to my F-102 fighter and seeing the mechanics there. I was on the same team as them, and I relied on them to make sure that I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. There was a sense of shared responsibility in that case. The responsibility to get the airplane down. The responsibility to show up and do your job.

He then used his military service to justify the whole Flightsuit Boy Goes to the Aircraft Carrier Day, as his administration did their best to imply that he not only flew the plane but personally landed it (no, they never said so, but they were coy enough to encourage speculation and confusion). So, he made an issue of it - and, the issue is honesty. Simple.

The UnNamed Staffer

Jeff at pornlitics figures out the likely identity of the unnamed staffer involved in the memo theft.

Down Down Down

Holy crap, the latest CNN/Time poll has Bush's approval rating at 42%.

...oddly, polling report has the numbers reversed. Someone should write them.

...or, perhaps Time has it wrong. Someone should figure this out.

Strangest Document Yet

Read carefully this recent response to yet another FOIA request from Martin Heldt.

1, 2, 3...

They sure do count slowly in Maine.

...the WaPo has more results. And, relax Maine citizens, I'm more than happy for you to take your time and get it right.

Thousands of Documents

It's subscription only, but this Roll Call article (where's the rest of the media?) says thousands of confidential documents were stolen from the Democrats' server. The guy who did it is such a true believer, he believes the real scandal is that Democrats actually consult with outside groups. Weird how their brains work. What planet do they live on?

While some Republicans hoped the ouster of Manuel Miranda, Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-Tenn.) top adviser on judicial nominations, could return the focus to charges of Democratic obstruction, Miranda's resignation letter provided the clearest glimpse yet into how the process unfolded.
Refusing to go away quietly, Miranda vowed to "speak freely" about the memos and their contents, which involved liberal interest groups pushing Democrats to block President Bush's judicial nominations. "The ones made public are the least indicting of the ones I came to see," Miranda wrote, following up a complaint he filed Friday with the Ethics Committee charging Judiciary Democrats with "public corruption."
Without explaining his source, Miranda wrote that he recently learned that "perhaps thousands of documents" from Judiciary Democrats were taken from a jointly shared computer by a younger GOP staffer working on the committee, exponentially more than the original 14 that were published on conservative Web sites in mid-November.
The unnamed staffer, who gave up his legislative staff assistant position and left the committee at the end of last year, read only about 5 percent of those documents, a fraction of which Miranda read himself, according to his resignation letter, a copy of which was given to Roll Call. The staffer apparently wanted to write a book one day about the nomination process, using the flood of memos as a source.
Some Senate Republican strategists hoped to move beyond the entire memo issue and get back to fighting the issue of obstruction and filibusters, believing that the memos only illustrated something that conservatives had long known: Democrats work closely with liberal allies on nomination fights. But the memo probe is likely to continue to dominate the focus of the Judiciary Committee's work for weeks to come, with Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle not due to finish his investigation until the end of this month.
Pickle is set to update Senators on the committee about the status of his probe Tuesday, but the format is still unclear, and Democrats are pushing for a separate briefing from Republicans.
Even with Miranda pushed out of his job with Frist, Senate Democrats said they still intend to push for a detailed accounting of the memo accessing and whether criminal or internal ethical breaches occurred. One senior Judiciary Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), said he intends to demand that Pickle examine the flow of where the memos went and whether top White House officials had access to them.
"It will reach beyond the committee," Durbin predicted. "There are many questions that need to be asked."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Occasional Reminder

This has been addressed many many times before, but it's important to note that whatever the truth of Bush's military service, we do know for a fact that he lied about it in his autobiography.

And Bush himself, in his 1999 autobiography, "A Charge to Keep," recounts the thrills of his pilot training, which he completed in June 1970. "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years," the governor wrote.

But both accounts are contradicted by copies of Bush's military records, obtained by the Globe. In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen.


Kevin Drum breaks new ground in the Bush AWOL saga...

The Boob That Destroyed America

So, the FCC chairman who doesn't understand what the "public interest" is thinks a Boob might be enough to invoke the FCC's nuclear option.

SOTU Video

Hey, does anyone out there know where I could find either an .avi or .mpg of the SOTU speech?

...never mind. Finally found what I was looking for. Lots of people commented on this, but if we had a liberal media... A real liberal media, we would have seen this clip 5000 times by now.

Even Peggy Is Unhappy

Bush is no Reagan's foot, that's for sure.

The War on Dissent

Kos has a message from the executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry, explaining their current situation.

What Foreign Policy?

Big Media Matt wonders just what the hell the Bush foreign policy is. There isn't a coherent foreign policy vision, and there never has been. Sure, there were the bumper sticker slogans "with us or against us," and "moral clarity," but one look at the list of nasty dictators in the Coalition of the Willing negated that for those of us with limited tolerance for cognitive dissonance. Then there were the various versions of the doctrine of pre-emption, whether the Neocons' "kick everyone's ass to prove we can," or the Friedmanesque "kick some ass and then plant some roses to prove we can," which as Matt points out are also no longer operative.

Look, this is the reason why I tend to roll my eyes a bit when people on "my side" argue the need for Democrats to come up with a grand foreign policy vision to convince the Amurcan people that we can do what George Bush failed to do and protect us from a major attack, terrorist or otherwise. I agree that it's fairly important that they manage to create the perception, but as with most issues it has everything to do with PR and little to do with actually coming up with something of substance.

Only in this upside world could Bush be considered either a "defense" or "foreign policy" success. 9/11 happened under his watch, and if ever the daily briefings come to light we'll see just how much warning they had. I'm not making tinfoil hat claims about them wanting it to happen, I'm just saying that they had warning. Whether or not they had warnings of enough specificity that they could have done something to stop it I have no idea. But, they totally ignored all of the warnings the Clinton administration gave them. They shelved the Hart-Rudman report and put Big Time Dick in charge of an anti-terrorism task force which did nothing. And, on 9/11, the official response to the unfolding events was, frankly, a complete clusterfuck. I don't know if any official response could have prevented some of the deaths, but it doesn't appear that they even had a chance to try.

Afghanistan got in the way of Iraq, so they quickly dropped that ball and spent hardly anything on the reconstruction we were told was going to happen. We never got Bin Laden. They're now promising that will happen, though what that means I don't want to speculate. Thousands of al Qaeda/Taliban members were allowed to run over the border into Pakistan.

As for the grand Neocon dreams - aside from not having a plan "b" in case the aftermath didn't go well, they also never stopped to consider the consequence of things not going well. If you set out to prove that you can topple any regime you want with minimal military force and quickly replace it with a stable democratic pro-American government, and then you end up failing to do the thing you set out to do - prove you can do it. Sure, we can kick any non-nuclear power's ass without much effort, but so what? Who ever doubted that?

So, Afghanistan didn't achieve much. Iraq's a mess. Our allies hate us and aren't going to be signing on to any ambitious adventures soon. If nothing else that raises the price of doing anything we might need to do. What success?

As for the Democrats - sure they need to convince the world they're "strong on foreign policy." But, don't bother releasing a 300 page manifesto. Come up with the bumper sticker.