Saturday, March 13, 2004

Newcomers Provides Fuel for Bush Money Machine

It's time for better journalism. This article implies that there are lots of new big money bundlers for the Bush campaign. There may be. I have no idea. But, from what I can tell, neither does the journalist. He does have one new bundler for Bush. Is he one of many? Who the hell knows.

Jon Keree raised $10 million online in 10 days. Let's hope he continues to be competitive. The Bush campaign is relying on having a bottomless war chest. This campaign of early attrition could benefit Kerry if his fundraising defies expectations. There are only so many people who are willing to fork over $2000 to the man who has presided over the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover.

Modo and DoDo

Modo borrows from Josh Marshall, and Tom Friedman has been dropping acid again.

Terrorism and Elections

Conventional wisdom, which we'll assume to be true for the moment, tells us that if the people responsible for the horrific bombings in Spain were al Qaedaish or Islamic extremists or something similar, rather than ETA terrorists, that it could cause the defeat of Aznar's party, PP, in the elections tomorrow. The reason being that Iraq was not popular with the Spanish people, and if Aznar directed resources to fighting a non-threat instead of spending time to find real threats, or if the terrorism is a response to their participation in the Iraq war, then he and his party obviously failed in their duty.

On the other hand, I would say that conventional wisdom in this country would be that a major al Qaedaish terrorist attack in this country before our election would be good for the Republicans and Bush. I have no idea if this, or the other, conventional wisdom is true, but the contrast is interesting.

It Was Like I Was On TV!

I said practically these exact words to some folks in DC yesterday, then went back to my hotel and watched Carlos Watson say them to Wolf Blitzer:

WATSON: Democrats have a new secret weapon.

For a long time, you have heard Democrats complain that Republicans have conservative talk radio, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and others have shaped the agenda and gotten people aroused and excited at the base. And finally, in 2004, Democrats have an answer. The answer is what? It's the blogs, the so-called Web logs, where people go online and write information, write commentary, post news stories.

Very interesting study out of George Washington says about 15 to 20 million people are now actively using the Internet and these Web logs in particular, sites like Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo. And what's significant here is that Democrats are using this to shape the agenda, because, remember, lots of Washington reporters read these. They're using these to excite their own base, just like conservative talk show radio does.

We've already seen that they use the Internet to raise money, but also they may turn out voters using this critical weapon.


What Big Media Matt said:

For the record, anyone who think this may be the incident that forces Europeans to get serious about terrorism is a moron.

Most Europeans were plenty serious about terrorism before this happened. So was the Democratic Party. It was George W. Bush who, along with José Maria Aznar, Tony Blair, and Silvio Berlusconi who decided that terrorism was such a serious problem that it should be pretty much ignored except insofar as it was a useful rhetorical prop for the selling of an unrelated war.


Josh Marshall says that Kerry needs to hit Bush on defense and national security now. I basically agree, and I don't think it'll take much to overcome this concern:

Does this take the debate onto more friendly territory for the president? Perhaps.

What Kerry - and the Democrats - need to do is to overturn conventional wisdom by re-framing the debate. September 11th happened on Bush's watch, after his administration completely ignored the threat of terrorism. Right now, We All Know that George Bush showed "great leadership" after 9/11. How do we know that? Well, because the goddamn Democrats keep saying it. Truth? Bush ran and hid and then didn't stop wetting his pants until 3 days later. He then went and bombed a stone age country back to the stone age, and then didn't provide the resources to rebuild it. Thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda members were allowed to escape to Pakistan, defeating much of the purpose of said bombing, and we never found Bin Laden, the stated architect of the 9/11 attack.

We now know that we haven't been devoting the resources to find Bin Laden, because we're now "stepping up" that attempt with Operation Mountain Storm. Why we didn't step up that threat two years ago is obvious - we had to mobilize for Iraq and this gang can't walk and chew gum at the same time (frankly, they can't do them separately either).

So, resources were diverted away from a fighting a gathered threat to a non-threat. We've spent $200 billion fighting this non-threat, much of which went into the pockets of corporations which failed to provide the services they were contracted to do. The immediate aftermath of the Iraq war was bungled, largely due to the utter lack of planning by the "grownups." Suspected WMD sites were looted, civil infrastructure wasn't repaired as the money was diverted to contractors who didn't do it, and civil order was not maintained.

We're spending billions on missile defense, and a measly few million on improving port security. While terrorists may obtain a nuclear weapon, they are unlikely to obtain a reliable intercontinental missile delivery system. Why bother? They just need to float into any port and push the button.

The only great leadership Bush showed after 9/11 is that he miraculously failed to shit his pants while giving a speech post-9/11. Just about everything else has been a total disaster .

Friendly territory for the president? Sure, but only because no one is bothering to point out the obvious. The Bush foreign policy is a miserable failure.

...Kos has more. does the Strib.

Things Come Undone

One of the often ignored (and often maligned) but important parts of our Democracy are our professional civil service employees. Aside from the work they do, they also provide as important of a "check and balance" as anything. Sure, we all learn about the 3 branches of government which check each others' powers, but there are also other important checks on power - in particular the civil service, which is technically part of the executive branch but in large parts supposedly independent of the political process, and the media. When either of these become too politicized, we have problems. As Jack Balkin explains:

And here's the problem. The more political appointees you have displacing the professional class of civil servants, the greater the danger that the policy process will get corrupted by short-term political considerations. If the political appointees play fast and loose with the facts on a regular basis, they will undermine the efficiency of the administrative state in any large and complex democracy. The danger of this is always greater in presidential systems than parliamentary systems, (although it can happen in the latter too!) but it's usually kept more or less in check.

Unfortunately, things seem to have come apart in the current Administration. I don't know whether this is due to the example set by Bush and his most senior political advisors, whether the Administration has ignored career people and paid attention only to information coming from political loyalists, whether a tipping point has been reached with too many political appointees in positions they should not hold, or whether the problem is an accelerating duplication of functions that have effectively shut out career employees from important information gathering and policy implementation decisions. Whatever the reasons, the corruption of the policy making and implementation process seems to be a real problem for this Administration.

The next Administration needs to seriously reconsider the structure of political appointments in government and the flow of information and advice from career officials to political officials. It needs to reduce existing incentives for short-term political considerations to infect policymaking and it needs to reform executive branch institutions to promote the production of accurate information for governmental decisionmaking. If it does not, the consequences for the country could be quite serious. We've already seen how mismanaged information practices have affected environmental policy, health care policy, and even the decision to go to war. If the production of accurate information for use by government officials continues to be corrupted, matters will only get worse.

Hero's Welcome for a Hero

Democrats on Hill give Kerry hero's welcome:

WASHINGTON -- John F. Kerry, for years branded a loner in the Senate, was embraced with a standing ovation yesterday when he returned to the chamber's weekly meeting of Democratic members for the first time since the Massachusetts senator emerged as the party's presumptive presidential nominee.


The unity theme was punctuated later in the day as Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, the last major challenger to drop from the nomination race, introduced Kerry to about 100 of his campaign donors in an effort to solicit their support for his colleague heading into the general election. The North Carolinian -- regarded as a potential running mate -- also held a private, half-hour meeting with Kerry that began with Edwards saying "Hey, brother" to Kerry when they met at the door of Edwards's office in the Capitol.

(via Kelly Kramer)

Can you imagine Dick "other priorities" Cheney doing this?

FLORENCE, Ore. — The eyes still get watery 35 years later, and Jim Rassmann — former Green Beret, retired California cop — doesn't want anybody to see. He turns away or uses his beefy hands to cover up.

But he gets through it, recalling in vivid detail the day, March 13, 1969, when John F. Kerry snatched him out of a muddy brown river in Vietnam and saved him from a watery end.

Thanks, Dad

Thanks for nothing.

David Knight, son of the state senator who was the author of the California ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, defied his father's law and wed his partner of 10 years Tuesday in a quiet ceremony attended by just two friends in San Francisco City Hall.

Atop the grand staircase of City Hall's rotunda, Knight and Joe Lazzaro of Baltimore exchanged rings and were pronounced spouses for life one month after Sen. William "Pete" Knight, R-Palmdale, proclaimed San Francisco's same- sex marriages "nothing more than a sideshow."


Knight, a shy 42-year-old cabinetmaker and former Air Force fighter pilot, broke his long silence on his father's politics in 2000 to denounce Prop. 22 and talk about the pain it caused his family. He had told his father about six years earlier that he is gay.

Why do Republicans hate their children?

New Job for Bush

Let's make him a justice of the peace. Then those gay marriages would keep happening because he wouldn't be able to tell the difference:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush (news - web sites) has marked International Women's Week by paying tribute to women reformers -- but one of those he cited is really a man.

"Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Jahmi. She's a local government official who was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy," the president said in a speech at the White House on Friday.

The only problem was that, by all other accounts, "she" is in fact "he".

"Definitely male," said Alistair Hodgett, spokesman for the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International, whose representatives tried to see Jahmi in prison during a recent visit to Libya.

Friday, March 12, 2004


In the runup to the Iraq war, there were those of us who saw the Bush's rhetoric as being something along the lines of "I've got the secret my pocket! But you can't see it!" All of the explanations for why they couldn't actually tell us where the WMDs were never made any sense, and it was embarassing that our liberal media actually covered for this. And, when they told Blix where the weapons were, and they weren't there, and they blamed Blix...

Well, what can I say. Every journalist involved in this fraud should just kill themselves in shame. But, now we have the Canadian's view:

Ottawa — Canadian officials say they challenged the U.S. to share secret intelligence showing that the Baghdad regime had dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war, but Washington failed to deliver, thus cementing the Chrétien government's resolve to stay out of the conflict.

Washington's refusal to share raw intelligence with its close ally seemed puzzling at the time, one senior official said. But a year later, the reason now seems clear: "They didn't have any evidence."

The Americans were trying hard to draw Canada into the military coalition poised to attack Iraq, or at least win the political support of then-prime-minister Jean Chrétien and the Liberal government.

At least twice President George W. Bush's advisers said they would come to Ottawa "to present the case" for war, says this Ottawa official, who worked with Mr. Chrétien on the Iraq file in the Prime Minister's Office.

"We weren't interested in 'the case.' We were looking for the evidence," the PMO official said, dismissing the U.S. offer as nothing more than a "PowerPoint slide show.",

The Exterminator

Salon has this fascinating look at Tom DeLay and the legal problems he's currently embroiled in. Warning - very scary photograph.

Hastert Says Bush People Crooked, Liars

Well, not quite, but this is quite an interesting exchange between Hastert and reporters. He doesn't actually use the words "crooked" and "liar," but it seems to be a reasonable paraphrase.

Perhaps a Kerry-Hastert ticket? (joke)

The New McCarthy-ites

Ted Rall has an opinion piece over at CommonDreams about censorship. Here's a little of it:

"We tell our kids that America learned from McCarthyism, but a new version of the Red Scare is being born in this new century. Powerbrokers connected to what Hilary Clinton clumsily called 'the vast right-wing conspiracy' -- Bush-Cheney's neoconservative war profiteers, the Christian Right and their media allies at Fox News and Clear Channel Communications -- operate out in the open. Their goal: to crush personalities whose influence and eloquence threatens their plan to recast the United States in their white, heterosexual, pro-business image.

The Right is running scared. Their wars and economic schemes are revealed to be as fraudulent as their fake president, whose poll numbers are plummeting as he turns to face uncharacteristically unified Democrats. Because they have no record worth defending and no ideas anyone will believe, the new McCarthy-ites have only one line of defense left: censoring their opponents. The question this time is, will anyone stand up for free speech?"

I think the answer to the question is "yes." However, that doesn't mean that there isn't a fight ahead, because it is looking as if censorship may be one of the main dirty tricks the Republicans try to use during this campaign. The Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to shut down political ads such as those by MoveOn.

Why do Republicans hate American values?

The war on women

I read about Melissa Ann Rowland in the Dallas paper this morning By now, most of you probably have read or heard that she has been charged with murder for refusing to have a C-section which doctors had told her was the only way to ensure that both of the twins she was pregnant with would survive. One was stillborn. If convicted, Ms. Rowland could be sentenced to five years to life in prison. She is being held at the Salt Lake City jail.

Ever since legislatures started enacting statutes that make it a crime to kill a fetus, events have conspired to get us to this point - a woman didn't want surgery, and is being charged as a murderer for refusing. Think about that for a minute - she didn't want to have surgery. She's charged with a crime.

President Bush addressed the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado Springs today. He said to them: "You're doing God's work with conviction and kindness." What he was talking about was that groups efforts to curtail abortion.

What kind of kindness is it when a woman refuses surgery and is charged with murder?

Consumer Sentiment Down

Shocker. And, of course, below expectations. Are any companies actually doing any hiring? Does anyone out there work for a company who is doing any significant hiring?

Potemkin Crowds


Security people kept reporters from interviewing the workers at U.S.A. until the president was on the way to his next stop.

But when workers were finally interviewed -- these people who made up the bulk of the president's cheering audience in New York -- Bush's performance turned out to be, if anything, even more impressive.

"No speak English," said the first worker, smiling apologetically.

"No speak English," said the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth workers way-laid in the crowd.

But you think the tax cuts should be made permanent, as he says?

"Sorry, no English," said another.

On China

This is just an idle though which occurred to me after a bottle of cava last night, but I don't think I've read it anywhere else. One of the real economists (cough Brad, Max) out there could perhaps set me straight. But, here we go...

Conventional wisdom says that a falling dollar, while raising the price of imports (And tourism), lowers the cost of our export costs and should therefore be good for our exporting industries. On the other hand, when it comes to these things the US is "unique" for a variety of reasons - one of which is the fact that China pegs its currency to the dollar.

I assume that the value of the dollar is largely determined by things other than demand for our exports/our demand for imports - mostly current and future rates of return in our financial markets.

However, a falling dollar also makes Chinese exports cheaper. Therefore, it's quite possible that a falling dollar has little impact on demand for our exports - or even a perversely negative one - as countries import relatively more goods from China...

Why Do Republicans Hate America?

This past weekend, on Fox News Sunday, Mark Racicot had this to say about john Kerry:

RACICOT: He proceeded thereafter to try and decimate the intelligence function of this country. Although he now condemns the intelligence function, he set about in 1996 to decimate it with a $300 million cut per year over five years.

Now we know that Racicot's Republican colleagues voted to cut almost $800 million per year from that same budget. Why do they hate America?

Kerry Proposed Even Smaller Cut Than Republicans Passed

I love the Republicans:

In terms of accuracy, the parry by the president is about half right. Bush is correct that Kerry on Sept. 29, 1995, proposed a five-year, $1.5 billion cut to the intelligence budget. But Bush appears to be wrong when he said the proposed Kerry cut -- about 1 percent of the overall intelligence budget for those years -- would have "gutted" intelligence. In fact, the Republican-led Congress that year approved legislation that resulted in $3.8 billion being cut over five years from the budget of the National Reconnaissance Office -- the same program Kerry said he was targeting.

The $1.5 billion cut Kerry proposed represented about the same amount Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Senate that same day he wanted cut from the intelligence spending bill based on unspent, secret funds that had been accumulated by one intelligence agency "without informing the Pentagon, CIA or Congress." The NRO, which designs, builds and operates spy satellites, had accumulated that amount of excess funds.

John Kerry Day a Success

Much turkee was given. We raised about $13,944. Total raised so far:

Total Donations: 497
Total Dollars: $41911.26

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Mohammed Horton

The Poor Man does the story board for the latest Bush ad.

Keep them on the Defense

The Bush gang is always horrible playing defense. The Kerry gang appears to recognize this:

WASHINGTON - A Nebraska business executive withdrew from consideration to be President Bush (news - web sites)'s point man on manufacturing Thursday after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (news - web sites) raised questions about his stance on shifting U.S. jobs to foreign countries.

The Bush administration said Anthony Raimondo's withdrawal was related to Nebraska political issues and not the flap raised by the Kerry campaign.

But the nomination had appeared in doubt after Kerry's campaign had raised questions of why the Bush administration was picking someone to guide government efforts to halt the hemorrhage of American manufacturing jobs who had laid off 75 of his own workers in 2002 after announcing he was constructing a $3 million plant in China.


I'm never surprised by the mendacity of the Bushies, just their mendacity in areas where they're likely to be found out.

WASHINGTON - The government's top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan.

When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration's own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.

Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who'd vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.

Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was "very upset" when she learned of the higher estimate.

"I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line," Myrick said.

Five months before the November House vote, the government's chief Medicare actuary had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. Two months after Congress approved the new benefit, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten disclosed that he expected it to cost $534 billion.

Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which produced the $551 billion estimate, told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers.

"This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish," Foster wrote in an e-mail to some of his colleagues June 26, just before the first congressional vote on the drug bill. "I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons."

Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the e-mail.

Stupidest Line in Journalism Ever

There's bias, and then there's stupidity, and then there's some pathetic combination which is so unbelievably stupid and bad. From Kit Seelye:

But viewed another way, as a percentage of all 200 million potential voters nationwide, his support looks much smaller. Only 5 percent voted in the 20 Democratic primaries that produced the presumptive nominee; an even smaller percentage, which Mr. Gans did not calculate, voted for Mr. Kerry.

Wow. Kit's so right. Not all people who voted actually voted in the Dem primaries so far. And, unbelievably, not all of those people voted for John Kerry! Wow! Gold star to Kit Seelye for Stupidity in Journalism.

And, to think, I may be unemployed soon while Kit is allowed to piss all over the pages of the NYT on a regular basis.

Big Gay Debate

Matt Stoller is on the inside in Mass.

John Kerry Day Continues!

Thanks to Tena for continuing to fill in during my temporary visit to an undisclosed location. We've exceeded our John Kerry Day goal, but there's nothing wrong with exceeding it even more...

Mohammed Horton

the Bush campaign has a new ad, and you can read about it here. The ad is called "100 Days." It uses the image of a dark skinned man who is obviously thought to be a terrorist. He just can't stop trying to one-up the old man, can he?

thanks to reader littlesky for the link.

California Supreme Court halts same sex marriages

Faux News is reporting that the California Supreme Court declined to address whether the California Constitution would permit gay marriage. For now it has only ruled that they will stop until the court can decide whether the San Francisco mayor had the power to authorize them. The case will be heard in May or June, according to the report.

Constitutional vandalism

I ran across this opinion piece while perusing the stories at the Hamster.

Washington - When President Bush called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same sex weddings, he warned that such a radical step was essential to "prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever."


But Bush also didn't say that this is the seventh amendment he has embraced, reflecting breathtaking contempt for the principles embodied in the work of our Founding Fathers.


Most of the Bush-backed amendments are designed to appease the Republican Party's conservative religious base by imposing that constituency's narrow views on all of us.


Besides the flag burning amendment, Bush also has backed one to require a balanced budget! That's pretty funny.
But call me breathless, I had no idea that he had proposed or backed seven amendments to the constitution. Have we had enough yet?

Bush picks up shovel and actually makes it work

East Meadow, N.Y. - President Bush shoveled dirt Thursday at the somber ground breaking for a new memorial for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an event that has defined his presidency and is the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.


The president made no remarks...But earlier at a factory in another part of Long Island, Bush said the lesson of Sept. 11 is that "we must deal with threats before they fully materialize."

Pat Kiefer, mother of a 25 year old victim of the attack on the World Trade Center said the government should have done more to prevent them.


"No one's been held accountable for anything about 9-11," said Bill Doyle, who lost his 25 year old son, Joseph, at the World Trade Center.


"I have a problem with exploiting death for political gain," (Mr. Doyle) said. I'd have the same problem if Democrats used images of body bags coming back from Iraq in one of their ads."


A couple of things: first of all, Bush just reiterated his pre-emption doctrine in his remarks at the factory. To me, what that means is that those who have said that 4 more years of Bush = 4 more wars, are not apparently all that hyperbolic in saying so. He still thinks that it is the right way to go, despite all that has happened in Iraq. This is very much in character for President Bush - once he's on that train, he will not get off of it no matter what happens during the ride.

The second thing that I think needs to be paid attention to here is Mr. Doyle's statement about exploiting death for political gain. The Democrats need to be sensitive to this issue, and not guilty of the same kind of exploitation the president is guilty of. It will only hurt Big John's campaign, in my opinion, if he and other Democrats do not show a great deal of sensitivity to both the families of the 9/11 victims, and the families of the casualties of the Iraq War. Actually, all the families of the military who have been sent to Iraq need the kind of sensitivity and understanding that someone like Kerry, himself a veteran, is capable of showing them.

link to story is here

No turkee for him

Big John isn't in the apologizing mood and that has all kinds of Republicans getting hot under the collar. The story has some of their comments, such as this one, from Rep. Jack Kingston (R, Ga.) who said Republicans see Big John as "Ted Kennedy on a South Beach Diet."

In case you haven't already read it, here's what Big John said, during a news conference on the Senate side of the Capitol:

"I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks."

About Spain

The Washington Post has a primer on the ETA, the Basque separatist group that is widely believed responsible for the horrific train bombing in Spain. I've seen varying numbers of casualties, from 182 to 190. I also heard minutes ago on BBCs The World, some rumblings about possible Al Qaeda responsibility for the attack.

At any rate, this primer is a good resource if one doesn't know much about Basques or the ETA. This was an unforgivable act of terrorism, no matter who is responsible. But I must tell you that I used to have a Basque friend. Her stories about the persecution that her family had suffered were also unforgivable. She had a drawing in her house of a warrior on a horse. It was actually a coded message that her father had sent to his family after they were able to flee to America, telling them that he was still alive. Teresa was one of the most wonderful, vital women I've ever met. I've lost contact with her - she went back to Spain, the last I heard. I hope she is alright, because that's the problem, isn't it? A terrorist doesn't know who is likely to die when he or she attacks civilians.

That said, the primer should make it clear - the Basques have been fighting for their existence for as long as the Celtic Irish, to whom they are thought to be linguistically related (as well as the Georgians of Russia) have been. It doesn't make this right, but perhaps someone should start listening.

Scare me once, shame on you, etc.

Byron York has an opinon piece over at the, in which he cites polls that purport to show that Democrats just aren't worried enough about terrorism. In fact, he finds it disturbing that in exit polls, 76% of Democrats are more concerned about the economy than they are about terrorism. In contrast, 48% of Republicans have said that terrorism in their greater concern, versus around 46% who have said it is the economy.

Rather than drawing the obvious conclusions one might draw from these statistics - that more Democrats are out of work than Republicans, or that more Republicans than Democrats are apt to let Dear Leader's scary stuff get to them, Byron just decides that Democrats are dangerously slack on terrorism. He also faults Big John for continuing, as he sees it, to approach the problem as one of law enforcement rather than as a war.

I think it's worthwhile to stop a minute and think about that. There seems to be a divide in the country on this issue. On the one hand there are people who are content, as it were, to be both afraid and vengeance-driven in their response to 9/11. Those are both emotional responses. On the other hand are those who see terrorism as one problem - albeit a major one - in a world full of problems. You know which response I think is more reasonable. But one can't help but wonder where the GOP might take the campaign, based on such polling data...

Yum yum

"Im a firm believer in feeding people their own words." - Trent Lott

TruthOut has thoughtfully provided a long and lurid list of words that are just begging to be fed back to the people who said them. Like this gem:

"I don't understand how poor people think." George W. Bush, confiding in the Reverend Jim Willis, New York Times, 08/26/03

There's so much more. Go read, enjoy, and thank Oldwhitelady for the tip.

link here

Stop the Madness!

Jack Balkin tells us what's in the horrible Iraq constitution.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 341K new jobless and the 2K we missed last week! Lucky Duckies every one!

Not horrible news, but still essentially consistent with a stalled labor market.

Happy John Kerry Day!

Kerry says:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., dueled with President Bush over taxes and the economy Wednesday and then, in an offhand comment to factory workers in Chicago, called the Republicans "the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen," triggering an angry denunciation from Bush's campaign.

Today is Thursday, they day I bug you to donate to the Kerry campaign. Our goal is $1,000 every Thursday. We exceeded that goal by quite a bit last week, but that's okay. Giv som turkee to Jon Keree!

170+ Killed in Madrid Train Bombings


Lovely Story

Campaign Money Watch brings us a cute little story about Bush:

On April 24, 2003, President Bush traveled to Timken Company’s Canton plant to promote his tax plan. In a speech to workers, he promised that the tax cut plan “means more money for investments, more money for growth and more money for jobs.”

Numerous studies have refuted that claim, showing that while the President's tax cuts rewarded wealthy Americans with tens of thousands of dollars in tax windfalls, the rest of America actually received relatively little. The average Bush tax cut for the wealthiest one percent of Americans is $938,000, reports Citizens for Tax Justice.

According to Reuters, the Chairman of Timken Company, W.R. Timken, made $2.62 million in 2003, clearly placing him in the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

Two months later, W.R. Timken co-hosted a fundraiser for Bush’s campaign in Akron which raised $600,000, and earned Timken ‘Ranger’ status (for those who raise more than $200,000 for the campaign).

Then, in September last year, Timken Company announced it was laying off 700 workers, adding more pain to one of the jobless recovery's most hardest-hit states.

I believe it was Molly Ivins who pointed out if you want to know what Bush is going to cut next just look for the most recent photo-op. I didn't realize this extended to jobs, too.

Bush is a Liar

Sez Josh Marshall:

But Kerry's critics -- on both the right and the left -- say, well, fine but it was clear in late 2002 that President Bush was going to war no matter what. And those critics have a very good point. I don't think it quite obviates the first argument. And I wrestle with this myself. But it's a very good point.

The problem is that this is an argument the president and really his partisans really just can't make. Because what it amounts to is saying is that Kerry's position doesn't hold up because the president is a liar.

Right? Isn't that the idea?

The president's argument at the time was that he needed to be empowered by the congress to go to the UN with a credible threat of force and a united congress behind him. That was the best way to assure that Iraq would be disarmed and in fact the best way to avoid war.

The resolution was intended to give the president full authority to go to war if the our vital security needs -- namely, resolving the weapons issue -- could not be solved by means short of war.

Kerry's argument is only the president's argument read back to him.

This is all true, though less of a "zinger" than one might think. Everyone on Team Couchpotato Warrior knew that we were going to Iraq no matter what. Everyone knew that Saddam could've sent his severed head in the mail to the White House and we still would have gone to war. This was a lie they endorsed and embraced, unlike ones about blowjobs which threaten civilization as we know it.

Conspiracy Theories

It was one of the oddest "conspiracy theories" - that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, while the American airspace was still closed to most air traffic, the Bush administration allowed a bunch of members of the Bin Laden family and other Saudi royals to fly around the country and then leave. This particular idea was "debunked" by the official propaganda channels by pretending that the claim was that they flew out of the country during the airspace restrictions, instead of just that they flew. It was also stated, amazingly, that every single one of them had been fully interrogated by the FBI in that short time. Finally we get a more complete version of events.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Open thread

Here it is - enjoy yourselves. G'night.

How much did they pay for those rooms?

Washington (AP) "President Bush opened the White House and Camp David to dozens of overnight guests last year, including foreign dignitaries, family friends, and at least nine of his biggest campaign fundraisers, documents show.

In all, Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have invited at least 270 people to stay at the White House, and at least the same number to overnight at the Camp David retreat since moving to Washington in January 2001." link here

Remember when those dastardly Democrats sold the Lincoln Bedroom? IOKIYAR

Brits released from Gitmo are freed

ABC online report is here

Apparently, some are not in very good shape; there are still 4 British citizens imprisoned.

Passionate is reporting in a press release that the DOJ has been petitioned to evaluate Mel Gibson's film, The Passion, for possible violations of the hate crime statutes. Ok, this is really a bit much. However, there is a statement in the release from a Catholic scholar that is, to put it bluntly, very blunt:

"Roman Catholic Biblical Scholar Father Gerald Caron, Professor of Biblical Studies at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, calls Gibson's film 'anti-Jewish, theologically flawed and historically dubious.' "

Of course, we all know that Mel belongs to a sect that has had its differences with the Catholic hierarchy, but I thought the Vatican had given a half-hearted thumbs up to the film.

Disenfranchised Felons

Over at TalkLeft, there is an interesting piece about disenfranchised felons. Thirty seven states allow felons who have served their sentences to vote. That leaves a lot of people disenfranchised, and TalkLeft believes that if they could vote, those people would likely vote Democratic. I've heard this argument before, and while I don't favor allowing felons to vote just because they might vote Democratic, I do think it is unfair that so many people lose their right to vote even though they have completed their sentences. Theoretically, once someone has done their time successfully, they are supposed to be brought back into society; we all know it doesn't quite work that way, and this may be a contributing factor to recidivism, which is a huge problem.

I'm curious what you think - should all the states allow felons who have served their sentences to vote? If not, why not?

PS. - TalkLeft's original post on this subject concerned Martha Stewart; it got noticed by Faux News, and they mentioned TalkLeft on the air.

Udall out, Salazar In

I don't know much about Colorado AG Salazar, but it appears that Udall "took one for the team" rather than force a nasty primary.

I love a good pile-on

Hi - Atrios emailed me that I could post a couple of things in his absence, so here's one thing I found quickly, over at CNN, link here Not only are the Log Cabin Republicans upset with the president, they are spending a lot of money to run ads that are, according to the story, the most critical of a Republican president ever done.

But it gets better - MediaFund is throwing $5.1 million into the pile to air a new ad that "throws everything but the kitchen sink at Bush."

Busy Day

Go read corrente while I'm gone. It'll be just like last summer.

On the Economy

Here's an interesting perspective from Martin Hutchinson in the Moonie UPI:

The optimism before Friday's report was truly startling -- many commentators explained carefully to their readers that actually the consensus estimate for job gains (128,000, according to Thomson FirstCall) was far too conservative, and the real figure would be well over 200,000, signaling the reality of an economy roaring back to life. As Larry Kudlow, chief economist of Bear Stearns wrote in National Review on Thursday: "Before the December and January jobs reports, I took the 'over' in the pre-announcement betting. ... Fearlessly, I'll take the "over" again."

Gee, Larry, let me know where I can get some of this action. For the 40 months that I have been writing this column, Kudlow has consistently taken the "over" on every economic statistic. On employment, he's been right maybe 3 times.

February's employment report was truly dreadful. Instead of the 128,000 job gains predicted by the Wall Street consensus, according to Thomson FirstCall, there were only 21,000 job gains, fewer than the downward 23,000 revision to January's gains. It's clear that we're not going to get the 3.8 million new jobs in 2004 absurdly promised by Bush in January's Economic Report of the President, far from it. But the interesting question (intellectually, if you're not hoping to be one of the 3.8 million) is: why not?

Employment patterns are not following those of a normal economic recovery (even the "jobless recovery" of 1991-93 had created millions of jobs two years after the low point) for one very simple reason: this is far from a normal recovery.

Its abnormality can be shown in a wide variety of ways, one of which is that in the first two months of 2004, the Bank of Japan is reported to have bought over $100 billion of U.S. Treasury bills and bonds, thus single-handedly financing approximately the entire federal budget deficit in those months. This has propped up the U.S. dollar exchange rate against the yen, presumably the Bank of Japan's reason for doing such a wealth-destroying (in yen terms) thing. More important as far as the U.S. economy is concerned, it has enabled long term bond rates to remain artificially depressed, well below where they would normally be given today's level of inflation and demand for money, thus further fueling reckless expansion in the U.S. housing finance sector. Since homeowners who refinance their mortgages frequently buy a Toyota with the "takeout" proceeds, there is I suppose some rationality to this from a "Japan Inc." perspective, but there's no question that it throws a thoroughly non-market-driven monkey wrench into the economy's price signaling mechanisms.

Some further signs. The U.S. corporate sector financing gap in the fourth quarter of 2003 was minus $74.7 billion, slightly lower than the third quarter's minus $78.8 billion -- the first time since 1975 that corporate cash flow has exceeded capital spending for three consecutive quarters. While good news for the corporate sector, this is not a sign of robust economic growth. It is instead a sign that corporate capital investment, having surged to unimagined levels in 1999-2000, is still severely depressed and is not about to return soon.

The dearth of capital spending is remarkable, since companies can benefit from 50 percent bonus depreciation for tax purposes until the end of 2004. It is not surprising, as capacity utilization remains below 75 percent and is showing no sign of fast recovery in spite of ebullient growth in gross domestic product. That's why there aren't any jobs -- in a normal recovery, by this stage, companies are hiring people and planning facilities expansion. Not this time.

Dropping the Bomb

Kos has a post about how the NRCC, the Republican version of the DCCC, just threw $600,000 into the South Dakota June 1 special election race. This should give us a bit of insight into why the party groups - the DNC, the DCCC, the DSCC - are so important. They can provide the element of surprise in any campaign, providing the money for a sudden ad buy.

While giving to candidates is important, it's also important that the party machinery has a war chest that it can deploy where and when it decides.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Daily Show

Man, Gillespie is a buffoon. Catch the repeat if you missed.

Strategic Partnerships

Salon and me, teaming up.

(joke, people)

Owens Out, Udall In

I say +1 in Colorado.

DENVER - Hours after GOP Gov. Bill Owens said he would not run for the Senate, Democratic Rep. Mark Udall jumped into the race.

"I'm in the race. I'm packing my ropes and I'm getting ready to climb the mountain," Udall told The Associated Press Tuesday evening.

The decision by Udall, son of former Rep. Morris "Mo" Udall of Arizona, came after Owens said he had decided against a campaign because his family is more important than national office.


We've all long suspected Friedman of manufacturing his anecdotes and quotes. He always manages to find a cute foreigner who speaks in slightly broken English yet manages to say exactly what Tom Friedman might say, or who tells a wonderfully amusing story filled with mixed metaphors which proves beyond reasonable doubt that Tom Friedman is Right Yet Again.

This isn't proof that Friedman makes stuff up, but it is proof he doesn't care much for the facts.

Insert Snarky Comment Here

From Craigslist:


Reply to:
Date: 2004-03-09, 3:27PM PST

Audience work, one hour tape time, cash pay at end of show. Tapes 3/10, 3/11, and 3/12(1:45pm). Reply to, incude contact number, nationality, and age or age range(submit photo if possible). Thanks Brandon @ SRO

Compensation: $15 FLAT RATE

Getting Serious About Terrorism

The USS Cole was bombed in October of 2000. Obviously, that wasn't on Bush's watch. Bush did, however, let us know how, as president, he would respond to such a thing. He did so on the David Letterman show, on which Dave actually asked some serious questions because , unlike the Heathers, thought there were some serious issues in the year 2000:

"Letterman then asked Bush about the terrorist murder of 17 U.S. sailors [serving aboard the USS Cole] in Yemen. Seriously.

"If I find out who it was, they'd pay a serious price," Bush said of the bombing. "I mean a serious price."

"Now, what does that mean?" Letterman asked, a follow-up Bush doesn't often get when he's asked about such bravado.

"That means they're not going to like what happened to them," Bush said, and the crowd went wild.

"Now are you talking about retaliation or due process of law?" Letterman asked.

"Heh-heh," Bush said. "I'm talking about gettin' the facts and lettin' them know we don't appreciate it and there's a serious consequence ... And I'll decide what that consequence is."

As Hesiod reminds us at the link, we strongly suspected Bin Laden and al Qaeda immediately. We found a direct Bin Laden link before Bush's inauguration. Bush's plan to go after the terrorists? Highlight the space below this text to see what it was.


Purple States

Kerry is totally kicking ass in states which had narrow margins in '00. The sample is too small to make too much of it, but it's still good news.


Previously we had Newsweek's little story about Bush putting fake firefighters in the ad. The article originally read:

Another less-publicized aspect of the ad flap: the use of paid actors including two playing firefighters with fire hats and uniforms in what looks like a fire station. "Where the hell did they get those guys?" cracked Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed John Kerry, when he first saw the ads. (A union spokesman said the shots prompted jokes that the fire hats looked like the plastic hats "from a birthday party.") "There's many reasons not to use real firemen," retorted one Bush media adviser. "Mainly, its cheaper and quicker."

It was subsequently changed, without any notice of correction, to:

Another, less publicized aspect of the ad flap: Everyone but the firefighters were paid actors. The firefighters posing in a firehouse was "stock" film footage of volunteer firefighters -- shot and available for purchase to the general public.

And then, hey, what do you know? The original version has now returned!

Something is rotten in the state of Hackmark.

(thanks to maquis)

Citizens United

Bob Somerby notes some similarities between Bobo Brooksie's column and a Citizens United ad.

Citizens United is David Bossie's baby. In reporting on his activities, the press is somewhat silent about this episode:

WASHINGTON -- A top aide to Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., was ousted Wednesday as Republicans tried to contain the political fallout from the release of taped prison phone conversations involving Clinton friend Webster Hubbell.

Burton also took the unusual step of apologizing to his GOP colleagues for the mishandling of the tapes episode, which infuriated Democrats and sparked a sharp rebuke from President Clinton.

Burton said David Bossie, a top staffer on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, was resigning over his role in releasing an edited version of the tapes, which omitted segments favorable to the White House.

The press is largely silent because they fell for his little edited tapes gambit hook line and sinker. Dilligent little stenographers for the Get Clinton crowd they were.

Whacking the Rats

Remember when the NY Post had its "BUSH KNEW" headline a couple of years back, after it leaked that Bush may have had a wee bit of warning about 9/11 in August? Reader c reminds us of the Bush administration's reaction then. From Newsweek:

It was supposed to be a routine drop-by, little more: A quick strategic review with the president before he awarded a medal to Nancy Reagan in the Capitol Rotunda. But by the time George W. Bush arrived at a private gathering of Republican senators in the Mansfield Room, a vicious political war had erupted on the Hill, ignited by the disclosure that he had been warned last August about the possibility of Al Qaeda hijackings in the United States. A suddenly embattled president felt the need to talk tough--at length--behind closed doors. "No question, when he walked into the room he was shaken," one senator later said.
What followed, according to several sources who were in the room last Thursday afternoon, was a jut-jawed, disjointed discourse with a tinge of diatribe and a crescendo of podium pounding. The president dismissed questions about his administration's counterterrorism actions--or lack of them--before September 11 as mere Democratic partisanship. "I sniff some politics in the air," he scoffed. Then he wandered off to the Middle East, recounting a blunt Oval Office conversation with Ariel Sharon. He said he'd asked the Israeli leader if he really hated Yasir Arafat. Sharon had answered yes, according to the president. "I looked him straight in the eye and said, 'Well, are you going to kill him?' " Sharon said no, to which the president said he'd replied, "That's good."

Bush was just getting warmed up. "Now you guys really got me going," he said. He threatened to block the entire defense bill if it contained money for the controversial and costly Crusader artillery system. "I mean it. I'll veto it," he said tersely, glancing at Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, where Crusader would be built. Bush ended with an attack on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. "He's starving his own people," Bush said, and imprisoning intellectuals in "a Gulag the size of Houston." The president called him a "pygmy" and compared him to "a spoiled child at a dinner table." Stunned senators didn't know quite what to make of the performance. "It was like in church, when the sermon goes on too long and you're not sure what the point is," one told NEWSWEEK. "Nobody dared look at anybody else."

Democrats, trying to sound more sorrowful than angry (let alone delighted) demanded answers. Noting an instantly famous headline (BUSH KNEW) in the normally pro-Bush New York Post, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took to the Senate floor to express her concern. So did party leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt. The rest of the party joined in, conveniently ignoring Clinton-administration failures and the extensive pre-9-11 knowledge of their own members of congressional intelligence committees. "It was the attack of the mattress rats," a top White House aide said bitterly. "They were everywhere."

Soon after Bush's chesty Mansfield Room talk, Team Bush gathered itself, and fought back hard--"whacking the rats," as the aide put it. They dispatched Vice President Dick Cheney to wave the patriotic flag at a political dinner in New York, where he warned critics not to make "incendiary comments" that are "totally unworthy of national leaders in time of war." The Bushies even took the unprecedented step of wheeling out Laura Bush to defend her husband. Traveling in Budapest, Hungary, Mrs. Bush stayed up late to watch a Condi Rice briefing. The next morning the First Lady volunteered to reporters that it was "very sad that people would play upon the victims' families' emotions, or all Americans' emotions."

Worth a thousand Words

Krugman goes for the picture in his column today

And, the closing shot:

Economic forecasting isn't an exact science, but wishful thinking on this scale is unprecedented. Nor can the administration use its all-purpose excuse: all of these forecasts date from after 9/11. What you see in this chart is the signature of a corrupted policy process, in which political propaganda takes the place of professional analysis.

While Max chimes in with:

I was reminded by this report that the Administration projects an unemployment rate of 5.6 for this year. The current rate is 5.6 as well, so if we take this number seriously, the White House foresees no further reduction in the unemployment rate this year. Don't ask me how that is consistent with their other predictions. To answer that I would need some good drugs.

To be fair, it's quite possible that the insane levels of job creation needed to meet their jobs projections would be accompanied by a stampede back into the labor force, similar to what happened towards the end of the Bush I administration.

Bring it On

You know, all the Bush administration seems to have on Kerry is the fact that he proposed cutting some pork out of the Intelligence budget in 1995 - a $1.5 billion cut that our media conveniently keeps "forgetting" was over five years as they take this non-issue and try imbue it with the fake outrage necessary to make it somehow seem important.

You know what, bitches? Bring it on. You really want to start digging into what people were doing about terrorism before September 11? You really want to ask how high a priority it was for the Bush "oops we shelved the Hart-Rudman report" administration? You want to remember just how important Bush's attorney general thought it was?

But in his Sept. 10 submission to the budget office, Mr. Ashcroft did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators.

Mr. Ashcroft proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness.

Last August, before he proposed cutting the program to $44 million from $109 million, Mr. Ashcroft went to Dayton, Ohio, and watched a preparedness exercise and announced grants totaling $1.8 million to Ohio. He said: "All of these domestic preparedness efforts have one overarching goal: to ensure that those of you at the state and local levels build the critical capacity to adequately respond to domestic terrorism. At the Department of Justice, we recognize that the threat of terrorism here at home is a serious and growing challenge for our nation."

Mr. Ashcroft justified the cut to Mr. Daniels by saying that states had been slow to develop the statewide plans needed to qualify for federal money. Congressional critics of the attorney general said the Justice Department was not really interested in the program and did not help states develop the required plans.

In various listings of priorities for his department issued between May 10 and Aug. 9, made available to The New York Times by Congressional officials critical of Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general did not single out counter-terrorism.

For example, in a May 10 letter to department heads, which told them the agenda the new administration was setting, he did not mention terrorism. Instead, Mr. Ashcroft cited seven goals: reducing gun violence and drug trafficking; helping states with anticrime programs; reducing racial discrimination; securing the nation's borders and cutting the immigration backlog; reducing overcrowding and drug use in prisons; securing the rights of victims of crime and strengthening internal financial and computer systems.


Under Mr. Ashcroft's predecessor, Janet Reno, the department's counterterrorism budget increased 13.6 percent in the fiscal year 1999, 7.1 percent in 2000 and 22.7 percent in 2001.

Monday, March 08, 2004


A few have written in asking for some details about Stern's discussion of Bush. Horkulated provides a nice .mp3 of Stern mocking Bush's campaign ads. I'll link to the post - you can download the mp3 file from there.


Wow. Thanks all. So far you've contributed over $25,000 to the Kerry campaign through this site. That only took about 5 days. I'd hoped to raise about $20K by the convention and you've already surpassed that number.

The Cult of Tivo

Thanks to an unbelievably generous reader I am now a member.

Life will never be the same.

A Plastic Turkee in Every Pot

From NBC News tonight:

Halliburton has a multi-billion dollar contract to feed and house the troops in Iraq. But there are problems. A food subcontractor that runs 10 percent of the dining facilities in Iraq claims it hasn't been paid by Halliburton for months, and is threatening to stop serving hot meals.

The company, Event Source, serves 100,000 meals a day in Iraq under a contract with a Halliburton subsidiary. Event Source claims Halliburton owes it $87 million, including payment for President Bush's Thanksgiving dinner with the troops.

"When you get stuck out there for $87 million dollars," explains Event Source Chief Executive Officer Phil Morrell, "it's a question of economics."

In an interview with NBC News, Morrell says he's already laid off employees in the United States and soon will have to feed sandwiches to the troops, instead of hot meals, because his company is running low on money.

Last month, Halliburton was accused of overcharging the government for feeding troops and agreed to forego further payments until the issue is resolved.

Morrell says he believes Halliburton and its other food service contractors did overcharge, billing the government not for meals actually served, but for meals a facility could have served.

I didn't think Lisa Myers could get through an entire report without mentioning Clinton.

Kerry Crushes Bush

52-44 in latest national Gallup/CNN.

Karl! Help!

...Kerry today:

Kerry, who has accused Bush of impeding a federal commission investigating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Monday while campaigning in Florida, ``If the president of the United States can find time to go to a rodeo, he can spend more than one hour before the commission."

Progress in Afghanistan

Happy International Women's Day from Hamid Karzai:

KABUL (CP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Afghan men a trade today in an attempt to convince them to let their women vote in upcoming elections.
"Please, my dear brothers, let your wives and sisters go to the voter registration process," Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women's Day. "Later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go."

Karzai's plea set off a murmur in the crowd of about 500 women and illustrated the fragile grip the democratic process holds in Afghanistan.

And, in related news, Phyllis Schlafly will be on the Michelangelo Signorile show this hour. Listen to the fun here.

On To Zimbabwe!

Wonder what's going on.
Zimbabwean security authorities have impounded a US-registered aircraft that landed at the country's main international airport with military equipment and 64 men aboard suspected to be mercenaries, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi revealed.

"A United States of America-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last (Sunday) night at about 1930 hours (1730 GMT) at Harare International Airport after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," the minister told a news conference.

"The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities," he said Monday.

"Further investigations also revealed that on board the plane was military material."

Eschaton Scoop!

I was searching around the blogads site, and I noticed that you could buy buy ads for the Washington Monthly's new "Political Animal" blog starring Kevin Drum of Calpundit.

Here's the ad pitch:

The Washington Monthly: POLITICAL ANIMAL
Blogger Kevin "Calpundit" Drum is now The Washington Monthly's POLITICAL ANIMAL, bringing his widely read insights to a premier political magazine. Reach Kevin's readers AND The Washington Monthly's Web audience for one low price.


I continue to be amazed by the ability of this guy to pretend he wasn't an active participant in the public campaign to convince Amurca that Saddam was going to kill us all.

Sunday, March 07, 2004


Kerry today:

"Why is this administration stonewalling and resisting the investigation into what happened and why we had the greatest security failure in the history of our country?" Kerry said at a hastily arranged news conference.

"The American people deserve an answer now," Kerry said. "The immediate instinct of the Republicans and this administration was to shut it down."

Bush Ad

So, I just saw one of the Bush ads on TV, the "Safer, Stronger" one. I'd seen it on the internet, but the TV version is a bit easier to digest. According to, the ad says this:

January 2001: The challenge:An economy in recession. A stock market in decline. A dot-com boom….gone bust. Then…A day of tragedy. A test for all Americans.

Today, America is turning the corner. Rising to the challenge. Safer, stronger.

President Bush. Steady Leadership in times of change.

But, frankly, while watching the ad I at first thought it was a parody. Had I not seen the introductory "I'm George Bush and I approve this message" I would have thought it was an opposition ad. All I saw were a bunch of things that went wrong. The subsequent "turning the corner" part almost seemed like a laugh line.

More ads like this, please. can watch the ads online here. I watched that one again. I know I'm not the target audience for these things, but it still just looks really wrong. The "January 2001: The Challenge" part scrolls off too quickly, so if you blink you don't get the message that the ad is trying to convey - all those bad things happened right when poor victim George showed up. It's trying to say Not His Fault, but that doesn't really come across. Then, the "everything's great now!" imagery lasts about 1.5 seconds, and is totally without impact.

Practicing Heterosexual

So, I'm watching this 60 minutes piece on the "gay Episcopal Bishop" Gene Robinson. I think they've referred to him as a "practicing homosexual" about 15 times. I'm not entirely sure what a "practicing homosexual" is, as opposed to a "non-practicing homosexual." I think the phrase is just meant to conjure up nasty images of hot bishop-on-man sex in the minds of viewers. The piece also thought it was almost scandalous that he (shudder) went to a GAY BAR AFTER THE THEATER with his daughter. A gay bar being a place that tends to, you know, attract mostly gay people and into which therefore no right-minded moral person would ever dare enter. As opposed to "normal bars" which, you know, attract primarily straight people for their Bible Groups and for other acts of morality.

Oh that liberal media.

Family Values

What kind of person doesn't attend his brother's wedding?

Neither Jeb nor George went to Neilsie's wedding.

Loaded Gun

Clark on Blitzer:

CLARK: Well, I don't think it's right to use those images that divide the families. But I would say this, Wolf, that if this does become the issue in the campaign, there will be many of us who will point out that this administration did not do everything it could have done prior to 9/11.

We still don't have the results of the 9/11 commission. The White House is still quarreling and quibbling with providing a full disclosure of everything they knew and what they did before 9/11.

And, you know, one of the things I always saw in any large organization is it's not just the people in the middle, it's the people at the top that have to participate in getting a grip on what went wrong.

As Americans, we deserve an answer to what went wrong that enabled Osama bin Laden and the terrorists to come in and conduct the attacks of 9/11. If that does become the issue, I think it's a loaded gun pointed right back at the White House.


...Swopa storyboards an ad for us.

Fake Firefighters

Haha. I hadn't realized that Bush used fake firefighters in his ads. Sure, actors are used all the time in campaign ads but this is obviously a case where they should've gotten actual firefighters to be in the commercials.

Another less-publicized aspect of the ad flap: the use of paid actors including two playing firefighters with fire hats and uniforms in what looks like a fire station. "Where the hell did they get those guys?" cracked Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed John Kerry, when he first saw the ads. (A union spokesman said the shots prompted jokes that the fire hats looked like the plastic hats "from a birthday party.") "There's many reasons not to use real firemen," retorted one Bush media adviser. "Mainly, its cheaper and quicker."

Has He Gone Insane?

Has the entire country gone insane?

Now I'm starting to get a little scared. More than a little scared, actually. First we have this little tidbit about Alan Greenspan recommending that consumers replace their fixed rate mortages with variable rate ones.

Then I look around and discover that quite a few people have been getting variable rate mortgages.

This is really scary. A lot of people have been concerned about a bursting housing bubble happening once interest rates start to rise. Even if that happens it wouldn't necessarily be such a big deal. But, if a large chunk of our population got suckered into getting variable rate mortgages so they could go from buying a house the couldn't afford to buying a house they REALLY REALLY couldn't afford, the impact of an interest rate rise could be, uh, bad.

Here's the deal. Interest rates go up. Your housing price falls. Your mortgage payment goes up substantially. You can no longer afford to make your mortgage payment. And, since the market value of your house is now less than the value of your outstanding loan, you can't just sell and trade down. Default. Foreclosure. Cardboard box.

As long as most consumers have fixed rate loans, the consequences of increased interest rates and a sudden housing price downturn wouldn't necessarily be so great. But, if people are drinking Greenspan's kool-aid...

Hurray for Default!

Good for Argentina for negotiating hard with the IMF over its loans. As I've written before, it's time to stop pretending that countries aren't allowed to default on their loans. Lending to plenty of countries is supposed to be risky, which is why the countries pay a huge risk premium to borrow. Argentina's economic crisis was largely the making of the IMF, who among other things stupidly encouraged them to peg their currency to the dollar maintain their currency peg long after it was clearly unsustainable. That was unsustainable for reasons which have been understood for a long time. Once the inevitable devaluation came, there was no way Argentina could be reasonably expected to pay off their dollar-denominated debt.

Stiff your creditors, I say. And, don't worry, they'll be back to lend you more money in a few years.

...and, no, this isn't an option for the US. The US is not Argentina (yet). US default would completely nuke the international financial markets.

...some people objected to my claim that the IMF encouraged them to peg their currency. That appears to be a correct criticism, though from what I can find out at the moment the currency peg was enacted without IMF protest in the midst of a lot of other neo-liberal reforms which were IMF-encouraged.. The real failure of the IMF was their continued insistence that the peg be maintained, and their foisting of various loans for this purpose onto them. It's important to realize that a lot of the money loaned was simply used to maintain the currency peg. Dollars were loaned to the central bank, which were then simply spent buying pesos that were being traded in for dollars as people awaited the inevitable devaluation/float.