Saturday, June 12, 2004

Bonzo Goes to Bitburg

You’ve got to pick up the pieces c’mon, sort your trash
You better pull yourself back together maybe you’ve got too much cash
Better call, call the law when you gonna turn yourself in? yeah
You’re a politician don’t become one of hitler’s children

Bonzo goes to bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
As I watched it on tv somehow it really bothered me
Drank in all the bars in town for an extended foreign policy
Pick up the pieces

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

Shouldn’t wish you happiness, wish her the very best fifty thousand dollar dress
Shaking hands with your highness see through you like cellophane
You watch the world complain, but you do it anyway who am i, am I to say

Bonzo goes to bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
As I watched it on tv somehow it really bothered me
Drank in all the bars in town for an extended foreign policy
Pick up the pieces

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

If there’s one thing that makes me sick it’s when someone tries to hide behind politics
I wish that time could go by fast somehow they manage to make it last

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

My brain is hanging upside down I need something to slow me down

-The Ramones

"They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."
-RWR, on German SS soldiers buried in Bitburg.

The Values of Dear Leader

The General has updated them.


The Office of Curt Weldon continues to lie to John Gorenfeld. And no major media will pick this story up?

On Wonk

Brad Delong says, regarding policy debate:

No. It has not always been like that. It was not like that in the Clinton administration. It was not like that as far as foreign policy was concerned in the Bush I administration when Brent Scowcroft ran the National Security Council. It was not like that in the Ford administration.

He's right. It has not always been like that. DeLong is talking about within presidential administrations, but I'm more referring to the popular and media discourse about politics. I don't think coverage of policy was always very good. I think the media has been frequently completely wrong in its reporting on policy debates. However, I do remember when there was at least the illusion of debate, at least on PBS and NPR and within the better dailies.

Even the Gingrich Contract With America, as much as a fraud as it was, was about policy.

But during the 2000 election, the press got stupid and declared it all too complicated to understand. Regarding Bush and Gore's budget numbers, which were clear as day for all to see, Ted Koppel remarked on Larry King "You know, honestly, it turns my brains to mush. I can’t pretend for a minute that I’m really able to follow the argument of the debates. Parts of it, yes. Parts of it, I haven’t a clue what they’re talking about." There was outward hostility not only to the notion that candidates would gain supporters by talking policy seriously (a longtime press CW), but outward hostility to the notion that policy mattered at all.

Obviously, after 9/11 there was no meaningful debate. Then came Iraq, about which there came no media debate despite the fact that the one bit of policy the media embraced during the 2000 election was one little piece of foreign policy - "The Powell Doctrine."

Now there is only partisanship. Everything is viewed entirely through that lens. All policy proposals are pandering, and all differences are of appeal not substance.

And, given Republican domination of the government there's no possible way for legislated officials to have meaningful debate unless the press gives them a platform, which they don't. Opposition to Bush foreign policy is unpatriotic, and discussion of domestic policy turns Ted Koppel's brain to mush.

As for within this administration - it's 3 parts ideology, 4 parts rewarding favored corporate interests, and 3 parts "making shit up" to try and justify the first two.

Kerry Boobies!

New, from Woot as always:

Limbaugh on Divorce

March 15, 1993:

LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) During the same 30-year period, a 560 percent increase in violent crime, a 419 percent increase in illegitimate births, a quadrupling in divorce rates, a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes, more than a 200 percent increase in teen-age suicide rate and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores.

You know what we have? We have a behavioral problem. We have a love problem. We have a spiritual problem. We're spending more money than this country ever thought it would have on all these problems, government trying to take care of all these problems. This can be shown--may, in fact, be leading to the--to the deterioration of some of our cultural strengths. There's no question about when people like Marian Wright Edelman say more money, more money, what we ought to say is, You've got enough money. You have plenty enough money. Why don't you let us get involved with teaching values, teaching right and wrong again instead of just throwing money at the problems so you can be in power?' That's...

April 26, 1994:

LIMBAUGH: See, we're all laughing. It was funny. It was supposed to be funny, and the press thinks this stuff is just uncalled for and mean-spirited. And the reason we're showing you all this is--is just to once again illustrate how many in the press corps just cannot take at all what they dish out.

You know, I mean, I have always wanted to do a profile on somebody in the press. Pick your favorite reporter. Who had a--look, Connie Chung--let's do a profile. How many divorces has Connie had? Did she ever do drugs when she was in high school? How many illegitimate children has she ever had? This kind of stuff--the stuff they ask about everybody they cover--the stuff they get--let's find out who these people are. Let's call up and say, You know, we're going to call everybody you've ever worked with. And we're going to get all kinds of information about you. We can't'--they panic. That's what they do every day.

Now we have--we have some other samples of the president--by the way, I don't know if--Connie Chung--she's a nice woman--I just--first name I thought of--I don't know any of that. I'm not suggesting anything by it, so please, it's just--you know, I could have said Sam Donaldson, and how many illegitimate children has he had? I could have said, you know--any--I could have brought up anybody. I don't--I don't mean to associate any of that with any particular person. I really, really don't.

This is called, Don't call our lawyers.' I just--you know, I just grabbed a name out of the top--you know, about myself, you know--I could have said it. So the president then decided that he was going to have some fun with Time magazine, which--Time magazine was pretty tough on him over the course of the campaign, and the first year and a half of his presidency, and here's how he chose to have some fun with Time and himself. Watch this.

September 24, 1993:

So, the basic disagreement, and the--one of the primary reasons for divorce or unhappiness in a relationship, is that a woman who's deriving--she--she wants the husband to think of her first, think of the kids first, think of the house first. Foremost; first, second, third; he's thinking of his career. That's where he gets his self-esteem and if he doesn't think of the career and doing well and climbing the ladder, she's not going to be happy with that either.

August 25, 1994:
[criticizing Arkansas]
LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) And finally, the highest, number one state in divorce rate in 1991.

So we think it was a valid question, President Clinton, and it doesn't matter where you started. It hasn't gotten much better.

July 16, 1996:

[from the childless Limbaugh]
Marriage is simply the way humanity has discovered that it is the best way to build a building block of an orderly society and sustain it. That's all it is. It is also the means by which you produce legitimate offspring. And I--and I've--whatever else Barney and his mate do, they cannot do that. And that's the soul purpose--now look, we're devaluing marriage--a lot of divorce. Got to fix that. There is way, way too much illegitimacy in this country, and it's leading to the crime rate. This business of the gay marriage is nothing more than a money grab, in my opinion, so people can get on the welfare rolls or the benefit rolls, in state offices and other--and other places.

I--I really do not even think marriage is a right. Marriage is a responsibility. It's not a gift that somebody says, Hey, now it's time for you to get married. It's our bestowal to you.' It's--it's a--it's a commitment that you make and it is a responsibility that you accept. And it's--to--to be--to be tossed around in this manner is to devalue it, which is to devalue the fundamental building block of our society. And I think that's what's wrong with this whole process of same-sex marriage. It just simply denies the definition of what the institution is.

August 8, 1996:

[Limbaugh began his correspondence with his soon to be ex wife on Compuserve. She was married at the time.]:
Well, you wonder--you know, when you see the story and you say, Well, this is crazy. Couch potatoes.' But it--they may have a point. Because look at--look at this headline. This is from the New York Post last Friday: My wife's a cyberslut! New Jersey man seeks divorce for computer adultery.' These two people are so lazy, they're having an affair on a computer. So maybe the surgeon general's office has a point here. I mean, i--if people are sitting around--and they are so lazy, ladies and gentlemen, they can't even get off their duffs to go look at each other. They're just typing words. I mean, the most exercise they're getting is finger exercise on a keyboard. So I don't know. Maybe--maybe you should put those warnings on computer screens as well.

Lunacy II

Now this is of the "mental illness" type.

Peace President

Lunacy. From Time:

Indeed, the President is privately telling aides that after leading the nation to war in his first term, he wants to spend his next four years being "a peace President." Officials in the Administration contend he has more credibility as a diplomat now that he has shown a willingness to use force to back his principles. "The reason diplomacy will be effective in a second term is because of the use of the military," says a senior Administration official. Doubters suspect the shift is aimed at coaxing other nations to help rescue his failing Iraq policy — and to present a less warlike face to voters. Bush campaign advisers concede as much. "It may help overseas, yes," says a top Bush campaign adviser, "but if nothing else, it gives us ammunition to push back against Kerry."

I don't mean lunacy in a "mental illness" way, I mean in a completely detached from reality kind of way. The reality is unimportant, only the label and perception that matters. Standard fare in politics, until the candidate and his people are unable to distinguish between the two.

To the Top


The head of the interrogation center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told an Army investigator in February that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners there had been requested by "White House staff," according to an account of his statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist who took control of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center on Sept. 17, 2003, said a superior military intelligence officer told him the requested information concerned "any anti-coalition issues, foreign fighters, and terrorist issues."

The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, asked Jordan whether it concerned "sensitive issues," and Jordan said, "Very sensitive. Yes, sir," according to the account, which was provided by a government official.

The reference by Jordan to a White House link with the military's scandal-plagued intelligence-gathering effort at the prison was not explored further by Taguba, whose primary goal at that time was to assess the scope of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The White House was unable to provide an immediate explanation.

Steve G. on the Texas GOP


The GOP is so rent with ideological battles and bigotry, they have no solutions to real issues. This is like watching Trotskyites and Maoists battle each other over meaning in their self-created fantasy world.

It's true. As a side note, I've declared "the age of wonk" has been over for some time. There's little point in having serious policy debates about anything.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Republican Noise Machine

I'm about 2/3 through the latest book from David Brock. It's quite good. It's a serious book - the prose is straightforward and snark free and the research appears to be solid.

A question for someone like me who pays way too much attention to this stuff is whether I actually learn anything from the book or if it's just recycling a bunch of stuff that's old news to me. The good news is I've learned quite a few things - in particular, it blasts pretty big holes in the myth of the "liberal" Ted Turner and dishes a lot of (un)professional dirt on Frank Luntz.

And, for those who haven't been paying quite as much attention, it's a good read generally. You can buy it here...


Divorce number 3...

I blame gay marriage.

Hoeffel Week Continues!

$875.35 so far. Make Arlen Specter Cry.

Wee Oversight

I don't know if Krugman bumped up against a "thou shalt not criticize the Times" rule, but his criticism here is a bit unfair:

Here's a sample version of the legend: according to a recent article in The Washington Times, Ronald Reagan "crushed inflation along with left-wing Keynesian economics and launched the longest economic expansion in U.S. history." Actually, the 1982-90 economic expansion ranks third, after 1991-2001 and 1961-69 — but even that comparison overstates the degree of real economic success.

Why? Because it ignores the New York Times' own obit:

After the 1981-82 recession, Mr. Reagan presided over the longest economic expansion in history, one that saw the creation of 16 million jobs. By his seventh year in office the stock market was reaching an all-time high. Inflation had dropped and the prime interest rate was down, partly a result of the collapse of oil prices and partly from the policies of the Federal Reserve.


I was looking over some things, prepping for my 15 minutes later, and I realized I'd totally overlooked something from last Sunday. From ABC's roundtable coverage of Reagan:


(Off Camera) Well, it was so interesting. The, as you remember, the sole debate in 1980 was right before the election, and the Carter people were dying for this debate. They thought that, that Carter was going to just whip Ronald Reagan and show that he was dumb and all of these things, and I went the next morning after the debate to a blue collar neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and I could not find a voter for Carter. These were all Democrats, and everyone of them, I got to the point where I thought that there was a conspiracy going on where people were just saying there's a woman with a tape-recorder, you know, tell her the same thing. Every single person told me the same thing, which was, I was a little afraid of Ronald Reagan. He was old. He was a warmonger but I saw him stand there last night for 90 minutes with the president of the United States, and he was great. And it was ...

Think about this. Cokie Robert is discussing Reagan on a roundtable with Sam Donaldson and George Will. George Will, you may remember, had a wee bit of controversy which should have gotten him chucked out of the punditocracy for good. Of course, he's had many such moments.

Six months ago, when Gore campaign adviser Tom Downey received a package containing the Bush campaign material prior to the first debate, he immediately turned it over to the FBI. In sharp contrast, 20 years earlier, top operatives in Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign pored through Jimmy Carter's lengthy briefing book swiped from the White House. Back then, behind the scenes, Will was part of the effort to make the most of the illegally obtained papers.

Will looked at the Carter briefing materials and then helped coach Reagan for a crucial debate with Carter. Promptly after the debate, Will went on "Nightline" to praise Reagan for a "thoroughbred performance." Viewers had no way to know of Will's involvement in prepping Reagan for the debate.

For years, Will was able to cover up the deception. But in mid-1983, the "Debategate" story finally broke, and he took some flak.

At first, Newsweek merely mentioned in passing that Will had been shown the stolen briefing book "and thought nothing of it." A week later, devoting several sentences to the intrigue of its star columnist, the magazine reported that he "saw the Carter materials" and later helped to prepare Reagan "for his confrontation with Carter. Then, in his role as television commentator, Will gave Reagan a favorable review for his performance -- without explaining that he had personally taken part in the event."

During the summer of 1983, various media pillars rumbled with disapproval. As Newsweek observed, "some of Will's fellow journalists have heatedly criticized his partisan role. Jack Nelson, Washington bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, called it 'outrageous.'"

The New Republic declared Will to be "the one person who has been most embarrassed by Debategate" and faulted him for two aspects of his behavior: "Appearing on ABC's 'Nightline' the night of the debate, Mr. Will was one of the commentators who awarded the 'victory' to Mr. Reagan; he posed as a referee without ever making it clear that he had been one of the seconds." In addition, the columnist "knew about the purloined briefing books" but kept the knowledge to himself. "Mr. Will said nothing about this on 'Nightline'; nor did he write about it."

Perhaps a bit taken aback by the uproar, Will devoted a Washington Post column to his own defense. In essence, Time magazine noted, "Will said he was glad he had done what he had done, but would not do it again."

The controversy blew over. And in retrospect, Will's prominence in Debategate probably helped rather than hurt his career. The incident certified that he was a power player at the highest reaches of presidential politics.

Nearly three years after his stealth role in the Carter-Reagan debates came to light, a front-page Los Angeles Times profile called Will "the pre-eminent American political commentator." When the story briefly touched on Debategate and quoted Will, the tone was far from apologetic: "I simply reject the idea that I misled anyone. It wasn't a state secret who I was for."

But George Will knew that those Carter briefing papers were stolen. He made use of them. And he kept mum for as long as he could

So, Cokie's sitting there praising Reagan's debate performance, knowing full well that some of that performance was due to the fact that her colleague, on the same roundtable, had coached Reagan using stolen materials from the Carter campaign. Without mentioning it.



I'll be on the Michelangelo Signorile show in the 4 ET hour chatting about Reagan media coverage. You can listen on Sirius or streaming online here.

God, Does it Ever End?

Russert last night on Larry King:

RUSSERT: One other political point: The Republicans achieved control of the United States Congress for the first time in 70 years, of both houses, under Ronald Reagan.

Look, I'm fine with the Peggy Noonan footworshipping. I'm fine with all the "Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union singlehandedly" nonsense. I'm fine with all of these types of things because they're opinions. Some are silly opinions, and there should be some balance to them, but they are still opinions.

What I'm not fine with is all the factual errors that creep into the coverage by supposedly "unbiased" reporters.

The House and Senate did not both come under Republican rule during Reagan's time.
The Berlin Wall did not come down when Reagan was in office.
Reagan is not the president who left office with the highest approval rating in modern times.
Reagan was not "the most popular president ever."
Reagan did not preside over the longest economic expansion in history.
Reagan did not shrink the size of government.
Reagan did preside over what was at the time the "biggest tax cut in history" but it was almost instantly followed up by the "biggest tax increase in history."
Reagan was not "beloved by all." He was loved by some, liked by some, and hated by some with good reason.

Both Sides

Ronald Reagan was a fairminded man who understood both sides of the Ryan White issue.

Hoeffel Week!

If we can raise $12k in one day for Big John we can raise $7,500 in one week for Joe Hoeffel!

Hillary Clinton is coming to town next Friday. And, the Hoeffel campaign needs to prove that they aren't wasting her time. They're trying to raise $50,000 online over the week, let's help them out!

Here's the blog entry on the subject.

And, here's a handy dandy donation link.



Today many Americans celebrate a ''strong'' leader who, like Woodrow Wilson, never wavers, never apologizes, never admits a mistake, never changes his mind, a leader with a firm ''Christian'' faith in his own righteousness. These Americans are delighted that he ignores the rest of the world and punishes the World Trade Center terrorism in Iraq. Mr. Bush is our kind of guy.

He is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism. They have in common a demagogic appeal to the worst side of a country's heritage in a crisis. Bush is doubtless sincere in his vision of what is best for America. So too was Hitler. The crew around the president -- Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, the ''neo-cons'' like Paul Wolfowitz -- are not as crazy perhaps as Himmler and Goering and Goebbels. Yet like them, they are practitioners of the Big Lie -- weapons of mass destruction, Iraq democracy, only a few ''bad apples.''

Hitler's war was quantitatively different from the Iraq war, but qualitatively both were foolish, self-destructive and criminally unjust. This is a time of great peril in American history because a phony patriotism and an America-worshipping religion threaten the authentic American genius of tolerance and respect for other people.

The ''real'' America is still remembered here in Berlin for the enormous contributions of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin airlift -- America at its best. It is time to return to that generosity and grace.

The strongest criticism that the administration levels at Sen. John Kerry is that he changes his mind. In fact, instead of a president who claims an infallibility that exceeds that of the pope, America would be much better off with a president who, like John F. Kennedy, is honest enough to admit mistakes and secure enough to change his mind.

JK Day Great Success!

Total Donations: 2441
Total Dollars: $203,322.84

Totals from yesterday: 173 donations totalling 12,087.56!



I hate these people.

"We used to do a fact-checking exercise after his press conferences at AP," says Parry, referring to Reagan's tendency to manufacture or wildly misstate facts and figures. "And we got such hostility from David Gergen at the White House, and publishers who didn't like it, that AP backed off and dropped it. That was one of the ways we were not as tough or as skeptical as we should have been." (In that worshipful 1986 Time cover story, Morrow wrote, "Reagan committed so many press-conference fluffs that eventually no one paid that much attention anymore, assuming that that was just the way Reagan was. Who cared? The results seemed to come out all right.") When covering early developments in the Iran-Contra affair for AP, Parry experienced that timidity firsthand. When he went to Newsweek in 1987, "it soon became clear they didn't want to pursue the Iran-Contra story much at all. They didn't want another Watergate -- that's the way it was put. The magazine was owned by the Washington Post, and although people look back on Watergate as a crowning achievement, it was a very unpleasant experience to live through, and [publisher] Katharine Graham didn't want to go through it again. So the feeling at Newsweek was, Let's just take what the White House is telling us, the 'mistakes were made' explanation."

Newsweek wasn't alone. When the Iran-Contra scandal broke (exposed by a Lebanese newspaper, not an American one), newspaper editors and TV anchors around the country -- including CBS's Rather -- cautioned their staffs not to repeat the "excesses" and "mistakes" of the Watergate era, according to a Dec. 5, 1986, article in the New York Times. It was almost as if news executives were demanding passive and restrained reporting. Respected, centrist "NBC Nightly News" commentator John Chancellor seemed to speak for many in the national press corps in early 1987 when, breathing a sigh of relief when it appeared the worst had passed for Reagan on Iran-Contra, he said, "Nobody wants [Reagan] to fail. Nobody wants another Nixon." Although severely damaged by Iran-Contra -- he suffered the most precipitous drop in presidential job approval ratings on record -- Reagan was able to rebound to the point where his reputation, among the press at least, now borders on sainthood.

The iconic conservative may ultimately be remembered as one of the two or three most important U.S. presidents of the 20th century. And, Hertsgaard notes, "he could have accomplished none of this without the help of the American media."

The 4th estate admits it isn't comfortable with its job. Then it's time to find some people who are. It's time to put that whiny useful idiot Dan Rather out to pasture. I'm tired of hearing people who CONTROL THE MEDIA complain about the job they're doing.

You too Booby Woodward. What the hell is with the WaPo running a wire story about "journalist Bob Woodward" which doesn't mention the fact that "journalist Bob Woodward" is actually the Post's Assistant Managing Editor, and according to their own site, "occasionally" is a reporter. In other words, he controls the news.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

David Duke is Making Sense!

From Bérubé on D'Souza:

More generally, no one has noted that Dinesh D'Souza is himself the most visible contradiction of the Right's major premise in the academic culture wars– namely, that campus conservatives are persecuted by liberal faculty and intimidated into silence. For here, after all, is perhaps the most vocal Young Conservative of them all, a founder and editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review who's since gone on to Princeton University, the Reagan Administration, and lucrative fellowships from the Olin Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and now a gig at CNN. He is, in short, a phenomenon. No matter how diligently his critics pore through his work, demonstrating time and again that the stuff doesn't meet a single known standard for intellectual probity, he is still taken seriously– and rewarded richly– by conservative foundations and the (hack, hack) liberal media.

Of course, you could argue that in the age of semi-literate screechers like Coulter, Hannity, and Savage, Dinesh D'Souza looks almost distinguished and donnish by comparison. But that's their plan, folks! They’re trying to lull us into "well, at least he's not as bad as the rest of the lineup," when in fact any reasonably civilized society would have tuned out any one of these creeps long ago.

Please feel free to get in touch with CNN to see what they think about the work of their new "analyst." And feel free to excerpt any of the choice D'Souza excerpts provided here.

Click the link for the rest of the fun.

Open Thread

Chat Away.


Channels the Nooner.

JK Day Continues!

Only about $3K more until we hit $200K and I officially become Kerry's ambassador to Afghanistan!

Congressional Ballot

I hadn't seen this anywhere. The LA Times poll may contain better news than the Times's own story included (51-44 Kerry). In a generic congressional ballot, Democrats are up 54-35.

Moon Over Washington

Just in case you missed it the first time - check out this article about Moon by Gorenfeld.

Identity Politics

For the record, I was and am offended too.

Lucky Denver!

It appears you're now responsible for providing humanitarian assistance to Baghdad. Congrats!
Denver officials say the White House prematurely announced that Denver was adopting Baghdad as a sister city.

City officials and members of the Denver Regional Council of Governments were caught off-guard by a news release announcing the partnership Wednesday.

The White House promised that Denver -- which faces a possible $33 million budget shortfall in 2005 -- will give Baghdad "humanitarian assistance" and "other aid initiatives."

But Denver area officials say no vote was taken on the proposal.

(thanks to Pentiment.)

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 352K new jobless! Lucky Duckies every one.

More on Ads

(and, yes, I know most people reading don't care about this. Feel free to skip this post.)

Steve G. has some more on advertising on blogs. Let me add first that my earlier post on this was limited to the wisdom of candidates spending their advertising dollars on blogs.

But, more generally, from what a few correspondents who know have told me in email, my (and Kos's and Kevin Drum's and Instapundit's) ad rates are still at the low low end of the range. My ad rates bounce around quite a bit (I lower them when the number drops and raise them again when it raises), but currently my most expensive ad goes for $800 for a week (top left premium ad). This site has gotten 717,413 page views in the past week, meaning that the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) is just over a dollar. For a standard ad, which usual goes for about $200/week, that falls to a quarter CPM.

I know little about advertising and won't speculate on the effectiveness of any form of advertising, but from what people have told me that's at the low end and lower than the going rate.

Torture II

Let me also add that there is an important distinction between the question of whether or not torture is a "good" or "bad" thing conceptually and the legality of its implementation and the appropriateness of Justice Department personnel putting out memos explaining the best way for the administration to get away with clearly violating the law. Yglesias illustrates that basic point here, and Eric Muller has more.

...and, as Digby says,

These people who set about legalizing inhumane behavior on behalf of a president on whom they confer absolute power to order it at will are as shallow and evil as the cliché spouting president who demanded it. The slippery slope to totalitarianism started in a conference room where coffee and donuts and microsoft power point presentations on torture and pain were on the agenda one morning.

Abuse and Torture

I'm not a lawyer so I often hesitate before treading into explicitly legal grounds, but there's something which has been bugging me for some time so I'll just throw it out there.

In the recent hearings, Rumsfeld kept trying to make this fine distinction between "abuse" of prisoners and "torture" of prisoners. In much of the commentary about that, it was as if people were interpreting this to be a matter of severity or degree. That is, if you "hurt someone a little bit" we call that "abuse" as opposed "hurting someone a lot" which we call "torture."

But, that really isn't the conceptual or legal distinction between torture and abuse (I'm not sure if "prisoner abuse" has a real legal definition, so this is a bit murky.) The distinction between torture and abuse is one of intent.

If I'm a prison guard and I, for no good reason, beat the crap out of a prisoner then no matter what the severity of the beating I would not be guilty of "torture." If anyone cares and there happens to be video tape and the prisoner's lawyer gets his/her hands on it, I might find myself getting charged with some form of assault.

What would make that beating torture is if I were doing it to elicit information. From my reading of the various statutes, treaties, etc..., even fairly mild forms of "abuse" are considered to be torture, if the purpose of the activity is to elicit information.

There are a couple of reasons we take (or, at least we did until Bushco got in) such a strong legal stand against torture. The first is one people regularly discuss -- the basic Geneva Convention principle which is in place to a great degree to protect our soldiers.

But, aside from that it also gets at the heart of our entire system of justice -- the right against self-incrimination, innocent until proven guilty, no cruel and unusual punishment.

At this point, only morons with limited intellectual capacity bring up the "ticking time bomb" scenario as a justification. In that situation, we'd all do whatever had to be done no matter what the law said and when we saved the planet we'd be pardoned and declared heroes. This isn't what has been going on in Iraq and Gitmo.

Most prisoners in Iraq were innocent of anything and subsequently let go. Some have been on TV talking about it.

Many prisoners in Guantanamo have been let go. I assume they were innocent too, although since they haven't been charged with anything it isn't clear what they were thought to have been guilty of in the first place.

Abusive cops and prison guards are common. And, while the abuses can be as bad or worse as any of the scenes of torture we've seen, there's a key distinction -- the very concept of torture is anathema to our entire system of justice.

Happy John Kerry Day!

You know what to do. A bit under $9K, and we hit $200K total!

Now's the time to donate. It's only about 7 weeks until the convention, at which point Kerry can no longer accept or (I believe) even spend your money.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Writ of Douchebaggery

Daily Show. Ha ha. it here.


I'm not so optimistic. Besides, Bush will just declare the Supremos have no jurisdiction.

June 9 - Justice Department lawyers, fearing a crushing defeat before the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few weeks, are scrambling to develop a conventional criminal case against “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla that would charge him with providing “material support” to Al Qaeda, NEWSWEEK has learned.

The prospective case against Padilla would rely in part on material seized by the FBI in Afghanistan—principally an Al Qaeda “new applicant form” that, authorities said, the former Chicago gang member filled out in July 2000 to enter a terrorist training camp run by Osama bin Laden's organization.

But officials acknowledge that the charges could well be difficult to bring and that none of Padilla’s admissions to interrogators—including an apparent confession that he met with top Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah and agreed to undertake a terror mission—would ever be admissible in court.

Even more significant, administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention—that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological “dirty bomb”—has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used against him in court.


Padilla, for his part, has told interrogators that he never swore an oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda and, after spending time in one of the terror group’s training camps, had second thoughts and wanted to return home. “He says he and his accomplice proposed the dirty-bomb plot only as a way to get out of Pakistan and avoid combat in Afghanistan, yet save face with Abu Zubaydah,” according to the Pentagon report. When he flew back to the United States in May 2002, Padilla has told interrogators he also had “no intention of carrying out the apartment-building operation,” the report states.

I think it's time to recognize the following things.

1) It isn't clear "how bad" Padilla was or would've been.
2) The administration has no real evidence about how bad his ongoing associations were.
3) They had no evidence that he had any specific plans. The confessions he's made since may or may not have any basis in reality.
4) Even if Padilla was "bad," putting him on 24/7 surveillance and using that to track down his connections would have been much more productive from an intelligence standpoint than holding him for 2 years.
5) If they can do it to Padilla, they can do it to you.

Har Dee Har Har

Laughing about AIDS at Reagan-era White House press conferences.

Campaign Finance

Someone asked in comments below, and it seems to be an area where people have some misconceptions, so I figured I'd post about.

As of the moment Kerry accepts the nomination, presumably at the convention, he will no longer be allowed to accept private contributions as he's chosen to accept public money for the general election.

So, yes, if you want to contribute the earlier the better.

After the convention, you can still contribute to the DNC which is allowed to spend some limited amount on Kerry election program related activities, as well as GOTV and other efforts.

The Reagan Legacy

Kos is right - there's one genuine way to honor Reagan and follow the wishes of his wife - support stem cell research. But, Bush won't do that.

Losing the Fight on Terrorism

Ooops. Yet another myth exploded.

Candidate Blogads

I think this Salon story gets it about right. When campaigns contact me about advertising and ask for information to justify the expense I'm usually somewhat discouraging - telling them to not advertise or to buy up ads on a lot of cheaper sites. Or, at least I try to lower their expectations. Sure, the advertising department here loves the money but the activist side doesn't want them wasting it.

That isn't to say candidates shouldn't buy blogads, but they shouldn't buy them expecting to get quick return. Ads should be seen as part of a wider longterm internet outreach strategy. One should see bloggers and blog readers as another contituency which can be appealed and pandered to. Candidates and campaigns which spend time and effort reaching out to that constituency may be able to reap some greater rewards over the course of the campaign. Fundraising for Kerry is going to stop cold at the convention, and people are going to be looking to see where else they can donate to. Having name recognition at that time could be a big help.

But, if candidates are going to judge the ads as they'd probably judge most directly mail money pleas (We spent $X to mail the things out and got $Y dollars in return in the pre-paid envelopes) without doing any further internet outreach then they're probably wasting their money.

Arrest Rumsfeld

LA Times.

WASHINGTON — After American Taliban recruit John Walker Lindh was captured in Afghanistan, the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld instructed military intelligence officers to "take the gloves off" in interrogating him.

The instructions from Rumsfeld's legal counsel in late 2001, contained in previously undisclosed government documents, are the earliest known evidence that the Bush administration was willing to test the limits of how far it could go legally to extract information from suspected terrorists.


The documents, read to The Times by two sources critical of how the government handled the Lindh case, show that after an Army intelligence officer began to question Lindh, a Navy admiral told the intelligence officer that "the secretary of Defense's counsel has authorized him to 'take the gloves off' and ask whatever he wanted."

Lindh was being questioned while he was propped up naked and tied to a stretcher in interrogation sessions that went on for days, according to court papers.


Lindh was recaptured, and over a series of interrogations — at a school at Mazar-i-Sharif, at Camp Rhino in Afghanistan and aboard a Navy ship — he was kept in harsh conditions, stripped and tied to a stretcher, and often held for long periods in a large metal container, the government and defense agreed during his legal battle.

In court hearings and legal papers, his attorneys complained that he was deprived of sleep and food, that his leg wound was not treated, and that for 54 days he was neither allowed legal assistance nor told that his father had retained lawyers on his behalf in San Francisco.


But court documents suggest that Lindh was treated much as the prisoners later were at Abu Ghraib. Along with nudity and the sleep and food deprivation, Lindh was allegedly threatened with death. One soldier said he "was going to hang." Another "Special Forces soldier offered to shoot him."

Shorter Steno Sue

Republicans are pro-torture, and Democrats are against it.

Fair enough.


Asshole in Louisiana is posing as "abortion provider" who then delays appointments past the legal date.

Reagan Revisionists

More hooey in the New York Times.

Moon Over Washington

Gorenfeld on Moon in the Gadflyer.


On the memo:

I cannot exaggerate how pernicious this argument is, and how incompatible it is with a free society. The Constitution does not make the President a King. This memo does.

If anyone in the higher levels of government acted in reliance on this advice, those persons should be impeached. If they authorized torture, it may be that they have committed, and should be tried for, war crimes. And, as we learned at Nuremberg, “I was just following orders” is NOT (and should not be) a defense.

Slumbering Giant Awakens


THE BUSH administration assures the country, and the world, that it is complying with U.S. and international laws banning torture and maltreatment of prisoners. But, breaking with a practice of openness that had lasted for decades, it has classified as secret and refused to disclose the techniques of interrogation it is using on foreign detainees at U.S. prisons at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a matter of grave concern because the use of some of the methods that have been reported in the press is regarded by independent experts as well as some of the Pentagon's legal professionals as illegal. The administration has responded that its civilian lawyers have certified its methods as proper -- but it has refused to disclose, or even provide to Congress, the justifying opinions and memos.

This week, thanks again to an independent press, we have begun to learn the deeply disturbing truth about the legal opinions that the Pentagon and the Justice Department seek to keep secret. According to copies leaked to several newspapers, they lay out a shocking and immoral set of justifications for torture. In a paper prepared last year under the direction of the Defense Department's chief counsel, and first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, the president of the United States was declared empowered to disregard U.S. and international law and order the torture of foreign prisoners. Moreover, interrogators following the president's orders were declared immune from punishment. Torture itself was narrowly redefined, so that techniques that inflict pain and mental suffering could be deemed legal. All this was done as a prelude to the designation of 24 interrogation methods for foreign prisoners -- the same techniques, now in use, that President Bush says are humane but refuses to disclose.

There is no justification, legal or moral, for the judgments made by Mr. Bush's political appointees at the Justice and Defense departments. Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of "national security." For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments -- from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan -- that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism. The news that serving U.S. officials have officially endorsed principles once advanced by Augusto Pinochet brings shame on American democracy -- even if it is true, as the administration maintains, that its theories have not been put into practice. Even on paper, the administration's reasoning will provide a ready excuse for dictators, especially those allied with the Bush administration, to go on torturing and killing detainees.

Perhaps the president's lawyers have no interest in the global impact of their policies -- but they should be concerned about the treatment of American servicemen and civilians in foreign countries. Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures -- which were unclassified -- established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law. Now, imagine that a hostile government were to force an American to take drugs or endure severe mental stress that fell just short of producing irreversible damage; or pain a little milder than that of "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." What if the foreign interrogator of an American "knows that severe pain will result from his actions" but proceeds because causing such pain is not his main objective? What if a foreign leader were to decide that the torture of an American was needed to protect his country's security? Would Americans regard that as legal, or morally acceptable? According to the Bush administration, they should.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

CNN Hires Proud Racist

Dinesh D'Souza, proud bigot.

What's next? "David Duke is making sense!"


Torture Memo

Is That Legal has posted up a big chunk of the WSJ's "torture memo."

A Civics Lesson

Look, the Bush administration should collectively just be thrown into jail. Really. Now, I don't expect that to happen, but I do expect the media to get their heads out of their collective ass and wake up to the fact that things have gone very wrong indeed.

No, It's Simpler Than That

The reason Reagan is remembered as being such a popular president is because for whatever reason any time any media person talks about Reagan they remind us that "he left office with the highest approval rating of any modern president." While this was true at the time, if you only look at the last poll (63%), which included an apparent last minute expression of popular goodwill for an aging retiring president, instead of doing something a bit more reasonable like averaging the final 3 or 6 polls (Reagan - 54,53,54,51,57,64 ), Eisenhower (61,68, 65,58, 59, 59). A 3 poll average would give Reagan 57.3 and Ike 58.66. Or, a 6 poll average would give Reagan 55.5 and Ike 61.66.

Of course, the statement is no longer true, as Bill Clinton left office with the highest approval rating as judged by the final poll (65). His final 6 polls were 58,63,60,66,65,66. A 3 poll average would have given him 65.66 and a 6 poll average would give him 63.

But, more to the point the phrase "he left office with the highest approval rating of any modern president," which appears to have been inserted into the official script of every anchorperson in the country (yet again, Judy Woodruff said it), and which has been said for years, to the casual listener implies something even grander than (the now not even true) "his last poll was the highest ever!" What most people come away thinking is that "Reagan was the most popular president ever!" Now, there's no single way to determine that, but an obvious way would be to take the average, in which he does quite poorly.

People remember Reagan being a popular president because the media have been telling us that for years. It's really quite simple.

Reagan Fan Not Proud to be American


"He made me proud to be an American," said Patricia Fuller, 67, of Thousand Oaks. "We need that again very badly, someone to bring that pride back. I hope there's someone out there."


I wasn't quite old enough to be fully aware of what went on with Iran Contra at the time. But, with hindsight what really has puzzled me is how Ollie North was transformed into a "hero." This was before Fox News, the internet, and the kind of right wing hate radio we have now. So, I never really got where it came from. Now I know - it was Dan Rather's fault. From Alterman:

“The irony of this situation is that the reported reaction of the country to North’s testimony was actually at odds with most Americans’ profound disapproval of both his methods and his aims. The committee’s unwillingness to prosecute North proved less a reaction to the genuine beliefs of the American people than to a phony ‘Potemkin’ pretense of a public reaction created by administration supporters and other conservative movement figures. Most of the media fell for it as well. Time, for instance, reported that “The Boy Scout and patriot had the nation rooting for him,” while Newsweek subtitled its cover story “The ‘Fall Guy’ Becomes a Folk Hero.” Its attendant coverage argued that North “somehow embodied Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper and John Wayne in one bemedaled uniform.” The coverage in both newsweeklies was directly contradicted by published polls at the time, including their own. Time’s own poll showed that 61 percent believed that the term “national hero” did not describe North. According to Newsweek’s polls, 45 percent of respondents believed North was a patriot and a hero, while 48 percent did not. On July 9, 1987 “The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” reported, without evidence, that “ninety-six percent of you back North up, saying you approve of his actions.” The broadcast went on to compare North to Rambo and Dirty Harry. Overall, in four separate polls taken in June and July of 1987, between 68 and 81 percent of Americans questioned disagreed with the appellation “hero” when applied to Oliver North. The labels “villain,” “victim,” “dangerous,” “fanatic,” and “can be bought” proved considerably more popular.”

(from his forthcoming book)

The Right

Iran-Contra was no Watergate or Lewinsky. Turns out the "scandal" was that a few of the president's men ignored Democrat appeasers in the Senate to prevent another Cuba in Central America. The TV showdown with Ollie North made the Democrats look like modern Joe McCarthys, waving around a secret list of known anti-communists.

Odd how trading arms for hostages with a member of the axis of evil is less important than a blowjob or a 20 year land deal over which no Clinton administration official was convicted of anything.

It truly is okay if you're a Republican. Anything goes.

Reagan Revisionists

More hooey from the National Review.

Kerry 49-44 in Latest Gallup


Support Daschle

Jerome Armstrong lets us know why supporting Daschle is pretty damn important.

I know a lot of readers have been unhappy with Daschle as Minority Leader. I think he's done a better job than most people think - behind the scenes at least. Though, I do admit that we're realizing right now why, electorally, Daschle is the wrong man for the job. People in leadership positions need to have relatively safe seats.

However, those are the cards we have right now.

So, go take a peek at his website.

Yes, this is where people say I'm just trying to please my advertisers. Note - I get lots of ads and don't send you over to every one of them. Ads get my attention sometimes, but it was Jerome's post that got my attention this time.

They Get Letters

Check out the emails the Bush/Cheney campaign is sending out.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Great Taxer

I think Krugman's column says it pretty well.

Mary L. Walker - Christian, Republican, Patriot, Torture Attorney.

Wow, just go read this Billmon post.

Repeat After Me

The mystery of how Tom Friedman manages to find people all over the world who sound just like him has been solved. From Pandagon:

Watching Friedman interview people, though, it's clear where it comes from - Friedman himself. The interviews were all in English with largely (if not totally) non-native English speakers. When someone would answer a question, Friedman would rephrase it using an American idiom, say it to them, and wait for them to repeat it back to him. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't, but it strikes me as an apt enough explanation for why people in Friedman's columns seem to be using his words. It's because they are.

I'm not sure how much better this is than theory b - the "just makes shit up" theory.


Here's an excerpt from Wallace Shawn's Diary, published in the Nation in '03. I hadn't seen it then.

Meanwhile, I read my New York Times, and it's all very calm. The people who write there seem to have a need to believe that their government, while sometimes wrong, of course, is not utterly insane, and must at least be trusted to raise the right questions. These writers just can't bear the thought of being completely alienated from the center of their society, their own government. Thus, although they themselves would have considered a "pre-emptive" invasion of Iraq two years ago to be absurd and crazy, they now take the idea seriously and weigh its merits respectfully and worry gravely about the danger posed by Iraq, even though Iraq is in no way more dangerous than it was two years ago, and in every possible way it is less dangerous.

In fact, the dispassionate tone of the "debate" about Iraq in the New York Times and on every television screen seems psychotically remote from the reality of what will happen if war actually occurs. We are talking about raining death down on human beings, about thousands and thousands of howling wounded human beings, dismembered corpses in pools of blood. Is this one of the "lessons of Vietnam" that people have learned--that the immorality of this unspeakable murdering must never be mentioned? That the discussion of murder must never mention murder, and that even the critics of murder must always criticize it because it turns out not to be in our own best interest? Must these critics always say that the murders would come at too high a price for us, would be too expensive, would unbalance the budget, hurt the economy, cause us to stint on domestic priorities; that it would lose us our friends, that it would create new enemies? Can we never say that this butchering of human beings is horrifying and wrong?






(Off Camera) It did. It did. There's still debate. I for one believed that Ronald Reagan didn't know that Oliver North and others may have been diverting money to the Contras, which arguably, George and I have this argument all the time, was against the law, because everyone knew he wanted to help the Contras. He made speech after speech about the freedom fighters in Central America to overthrow the Communist leaning government in Nicaragua but because he was depending on other people to do it. And George, I have maintained that his first term worked so well because he had such good people in place. His second time he moved people. People moved. They wanted to go to this department, that department. It didn't work so well because he didn't have people in the right places.


(Off Camera) You know, Sam, we only have ...


(Off Camera) You know, it wasn't a diversion to the Contras that bothered him, it was arms for hostages, and he kept saying, I know that this happened but I don't really believe it happened. I mean, he had a terrible time wrapping his mind around the idea that the United States had actually done it.


(Off Camera) But this may be destructive for the future. On March 6th, 1987, Howard Baker and others convinced the president that he needed to make a speech to the nation, there was an impeachment, you know that word, thing brewing on Capitol Hill, and he said, something to the effect that although my heart tells me that I didn't do it, the facts are that I did. He, in other words, admitted a mistake.


(Off Camera) Accepted responsibility and survived.


(Off Camera) Accepted not only responsibility but the blame in the sense that he did it.


(Off Camera) He said mistakes were made, however, though. He did use the passive voice.


(Off Camera) Well, maybe I'm rewriting history too much.

Well, why stop now Sam. You've been on a roll for years.

Torture Memo Roundup

Billmon has a lot to say.

Froomkin notes that

As summarized by the WSJ, the crux of the government’s position in this memo is that the executive has full unreviewable power in Guantanamo, not subject to check by the courts (at least absent some congressional action?). That this might be legally possible does not make it legally or morally correct.

Thus, it appears that the memo somewhat undermines the argument that the government made before the Supreme Court, where it argued that Gitmo was outside the jurisdiction of the courts because, being subject to residual Cuban sovereignty albeit US control, it was not part of the US for jurisdictional purposes. It’s not impossible to have different conceptions of ‘domestic’ jurisdiction for the reach of a statute and judicial review — but it’s uncomfortable and IMHO presumptively wrong.

This memo may also strengthen the case, set out by Eric Muller, that Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement knew or (more likely) should have known that he was making a false statement when he said “[i]t’s … the judgment of those involved in this process [of interrogating POW’s and enemy combatants] that the last thing you want to do is torture somebody or try to do something along those lines.”

...Josh Marshall has more.

So the right to set aside law is "inherent in the president". That claim alone should stop everyone in their tracks and prompt a serious consideration of the safety of the American republic under this president. It is the very definition of a constitutional monarchy, let alone a constitutional republic, that the law is superior to the executive, not the other way around. This is the essence of what the rule of law means -- a government of laws, not men, and all that.

Sully Speaks


Republicans who say that these people do not represent the GOP as a whole can prove this by taking them on. But they won't, will they? They never do.

Indeed. And immediately afterwards, Sully chastizes Tony Kushner for daring to say mean things about Dear Leader, who of course has embraced these people.

via Ailes, who has more to say.

And, while I'm slumming at Sullyville I notice he's taken the words of Arthur Schlesinger from 1982, where he's commenting on the economic health of the Soviet Union, and comments "They really thought that the Soviet Union wasn't evil." I have no idea whether Schlesinger thought the Soviet Union was "evil" in 1982, but nor does Sullivan as that kind of judgment isn't present anywhere in the quote.

The person he gets the quote from, Virginia Postrel, is a bit more honest, owning up to the fact that "Few of Reagan's conservative allies thought the Soviet Union was in any danger either." But, Andy hasn't yet come on board with the "Reagan was a visionary" theme -- he thinks we're still on the "Democrats and Leftists are commie symps" theme.

But, the truth is well into the 80s much of the Right in this country spoke admiringly of the Soviet economy, as did the CIA. Many talked of it being "brutally efficient." Capitalism had not yet "won," and so the communist planned economy was derided not on its failure as a system of production, but as an exploitive system in which people were not given the rewards of their own labor, along with its political and cultural repression. If Leftists still believed that a Soviet style planned economy could succeed as an economic system, then they weren't alone.

The Soviet Union could only be the threat they believed it was if it had an economy that could sustain its military budget. Right wingers almost universally scoffed at the notion that the Gorbachev-era reforms were real, mostly seeing them as some sinister to trick to catch us unaware.

Reagan may truly have been one of the few who believed the Soviet economy could be destabilized, even if there's little evidence our expanding and wasteful military spending had much to do with the actual result. But to pretend that "the Left" was out there praising Soviet economic might while the Right was not is just completely dishonest.

Heritage vs. Heritage

When wingnuts collide.

An Elected Dictatorship

This is fun:

To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."

Phil Carter has more.

And, click here to see the new use for the Constitution.

Marshall Plan

For anyone who's in the mood for a bit of long reading, this paper by DeLong and Eichengreen is an excellent overview of the Marshall Plan.

And, after reading it, you'll understand that the clowns in office are utterly unable to implement such a thing.

...shorter DeLong and Eichengreen: The success of the Marshall plan was less a consequence of the direct aid or investment, and more a consequence of its role in establishing successful market based mixed economies and financial stability. The aid helped to provide the conditions which allowed for the establishment a kind of "social contract" which eased conflict between various interest groups in the economy.

They Get Letters

The General writes another letter.

Perhaps Margaret Carlson will make this her outrage of the year?

The General is also selling this incredibly manly bumper sticker, which would be on my car if I owned one.

The Dog Ate His Homework

Josh Marshall gives us the latest on Chalabi's secret UN oil for food scandal evidence.

Short version: All the evidence was destroyed!

Quote of the Day

From Don "The Donald" Rumsfeld:

It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this.

Active Reconstruction

It's really horrible when someone feeds C+ Bush a bit of history. Consider this statement:

Bush: “I think it's fair to say that, you know, that the enemy didn't lay down its arms like we had hoped.”

Brokaw: “And you were not greeted as liberators like Vice President Cheney said that you would be.”

Bush: “Well, I think we've been -- let me just -- I think we've been thanked by the people of Iraq. And I think you'll hear more of that from people like Prime Minister Alawi and the foreign minister, who both have repeatedly, ‘Thank you for what you've done, and by the way, help us.’

“It's not easy work to take a country from tyranny to a free society. And we'd been there a little over a year. And it's-- you might recall if you're looking for parallels in World War II, it took about four years to get an active reconstruction effort going.

"part of the war on terror is not only go after al-Qaida, to go after those who sponsor them, provide them safe haven, and as well as to spread freedom. That's the long-term hope for winning the war, this war that we're now in."

“And in my speech that you referred to, I make-- pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of World War II, there was a-- the Soviet Union exploded a bomb, that China went communist. It was a question of whether or not the Greek government would go communist.

“The reconstruction effort was halting at best. The marshal plan hadn't been started. And I-- my only point is, these are difficult assignments. It was a difficult assignment then. It's a difficult assignment now. And what America must do is understand the consequences of getting it right. And the consequences of getting right is that a free society in the Middle East is going to help change the country, change the countries in the Middle East and make us more secure and the world more peaceful.”

It's quite true. The Marshall Plan didn't start right away. In fact, it wasn't implemented until 3 years after WWII ended.

However, there's an important disction to be made. We've already spent the amount of money we spent on the Marshall plan (in real terms). So, if the Marshall Plan for Iraq hasn't even begun yet, then where the fuck has all the money gone?
[text corrected to say 3 years, not 4. Yes, Marshall had cooked it up earlier but it wasn't until 1948 that anything really started to happen.]

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Metrosexual Gipper

It's nice to see that he's doing his part to promote tolerance, in death. A gay man will be one of his pall bearers.

Throw a Quarter in the Cup

Jesse and Ezra are young. They're smart. Unlike young and not very smart Republicans they aren't being bankrolled by Richard Mellon Scaife. Give them a few bucks to help them with some transition costs they're both facing.

Take the Poll

The American Family Association wants your opinion!

American Taliban

The Texas GOP:

For many delegates at the three-day convention, religion and politics commingle with comfort, purpose and zeal. Delegates on Friday approved a platform that refers to "the myth of the separation of church and state."

"Faith is important to the vast majority of Texans," said Tina Benkiser, a Houston lawyer re-elected Friday as state GOP chairwoman. "And when you have real faith, that is who you are, and obviously what you want is your principles and your ideals to be put in public policy.

"And I think Texans clearly agree because they have put us in stewardship of statewide government at every branch of government," she said.


A plank in a section titled "Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety" proclaims the United States a "Christian nation."

"The party affirms freedom of religion and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives," says a passage added this year.

The rewritten "Celebrating Traditional Marriage" section now calls for legislation making it a felony for anyone to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple or for a "civil official" to perform a wedding ceremony for such couples.

Also new this year is a section declaring that the Ten Commandments "are the basis of our basic freedoms and the cornerstone of our Western legal tradition."

"We therefore oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols."

The platform continues to approach gambling as a moral issue, damning it as "devastating" to families.

Why do they hate America and our Founding Fathers?

I hope the faux philo-Semites out there take note of the fact that declaring America a "Christian Nation" isn't exactly inclusive for Jews.

AP Hooey

From the AP:

Despite the ensuing [Iran-Contra] investigations, he left office in 1989 with the highest popularity rating of any retiring president in the history of modern-day public opinion polls. His populist brand of conservative politics still inspires the Republican Party.

Look, this is literally true (though arguably he was roughly tied with Ike, depending on exactly how one would determine this )if it means "retiring president in the history of modern-day public opinion polls up to that point." However, the history of modern-day public opinion polls now includes 2 more retiring presidents, one of whom [Clinton] clearly has him beat.

So, the AP article is technically true, but nonetheless quite misleading.

And, more generally, Reagan only had strong poll numbers between about '84-'86. The rest of the time his poll numbers were low by historical standards, as the chart posted below with the averages confirms. Professor Pollkatz gives the entire picture, which as I've remarked on before is really quite fascinating.

If you look at Pollkatz's graph, the comparison between Clinton and Reagan is interesting. Clinton stumbed out of the gate and had really low poll numbers when he first entered office, but after that his numbers track the path of Reagan's almost precisely, until late in their terms. When Iran-Contra hit, Reagan's numbers plummet and stay low until a bit of generous nostalgia pumped up the very last (but only the very last) numbers. When Lewinsky hit, Clinton's numbers went up and stayed up all the way to the end.

Forthcoming Movie

Hunting of the President, out soon. Trailer here.

Forthcoming Books

I'm sure Clinton will sell a gazillion copies and keep the rightwingers frothing for months.

CHICAGO (AP) - Tom Clancy, the novelist and political conservative, declared in a recent interview that Ronald Reagan would ``always be my president.'' But for many in the publishing community, which wrapped up its annual convention Sunday, their president remains Bill Clinton.

His keynote speech Thursday at BookExpo America became a celebration both of Clinton the president and of Clinton the author of ``My Life,'' which comes out June 22 with a first printing 1.5 million.

``He got this convention off to a great start and his book will continue the whole phenomenon of political books,'' said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American Booksellers Association.

One can only guess how Clinton would have fared in an election against Reagan, who died Saturday at age 93. But as memoirists it is no contest. While ``Ronald Reagan: An American Life'' was a commercial disappointment, Clinton's ``My Life'' has booksellers so worked up that some have dared invoke the ``H'' word - not Hillary but Harry, Harry Potter.

But, this sounds interesting as well:

Great interest was expressed for Philip Roth's upcoming novel, ``The Plot Against America,'' which imagines the United States under the reign of President Charles Lindbergh.

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

From those crack reporters at NPR (specifically, Neal Conan):

Growing up in the little town America of Dixon, Illinois, during the Great Depression, Ronald Reagan was interested in sports and acting.

Reagan was 18 when the stock market crashed.

(thanks to infoshaman for pointing this out in comments.)

America's Greatest President

Gallup poll, 2003:

Who would have thought it? Some two years after he left office hounded by right-wing detractors and stained by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton now ranks as this nation's third best chief executive, according to a recent CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
Only Abraham Lincoln (chosen by 15%) and John F. Kennedy (13%) finished ahead of Clinton (11%) in the April poll, which asked Americans who was "the greatest" president. George W. Bush managed to tie Clinton for third place.

Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, garnered 10% of the vote, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. Bush's father, the 41st president, was chosen by just 2% of the respondents, tying with Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.

Maximum Approval Rating

Highest recorded by Gallup:

Clinton 71

Reagan 68

Presidential Approval Ratings

Gallup, Average:

Sadly, No

Sorry, Senator, but you're just wrong.

Fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn called Mr. Reagan "one of our greatest presidents." - an assessment shared by more and more historians over the years. "He left the Oval Office as the most popular president in the modern era. Ronald Reagan loved America - and America loved him back."

Not according to Gallup, anyway.

Clinton's final Gallup polls before leaving office:

12/15-17/00 66 32 2

1/05-07/01 65 31 4

1/10-14/01 66 29 5


10/21-24/88 51 38 11

11/11-14/88 57 35 8

12/27-29/88 63 29 8

This graphic from Professor Pollkatz tells the full story.



After pressure from troops who wanted recognition for fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan -- and not just in one all-encompassing "Global War on Terrorism" -- President Bush quietly signed legislation Friday night establishing separate new medals for their service.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes called the "Global War on Terrorism" medal a "purely political" device. (Courtesy of

A week before launching the Iraq invasion in March 2003, Bush established a single "Global War on Terrorism" medal that later proved unpopular in the ranks. But before recessing last month, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation to create Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom medals, giving troops specific recognition for the campaigns in which they served.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), a Vietnam combat vet who was among the bill's original sponsors, called the Global medal a "purely political" device that sought to more closely connect the Iraq war to the fight against al Qaeda. He criticized Bush's decision to sign the law without fanfare: "In Texas we would call it chicken[poop]," he told us yesterday. "We call it thumbing his nose at something he doesn't like."

Manufacturing History

Max catches the Washington Post just making stuff up.

The occasion of a man's death is not the time to pile on him, but nor is it the time to let the mythmakers get away with manufacturing reality.

Reagan was not the most popular president in modern history - that honor goes to Bill Clinton.

Reagan did pass what was, at the time, the largest tax cut in history. That was quickly followed up with what still holds the record for the largest tax increase in history.

The number of nondefense federal employees grew under Reagan, as they did under the first Bush. The number shrunk when Clinton was in office.

The economy under Reagan grew at an average rate of 3.5%, a healthy clip matched by the economy under Bill Clinton. The unemployment rate averaged 7.3%.

We all know what happened to deficits and the federal debt.

I have plenty of my own reasons for disliking the politics of the Reagan administration, but unless the only thing of importance to conservatives is the top marginal tax rate, judged by their own criteria there was not much to cheer about during that time.


From Newsweek:

When George W. Bush makes his D-Day anniversary visit to the Normandy beaches on Sunday, we’re going to hear a lot of well-honed speeches trying to compare the righteous combat forced on us in World War II with the war of choice we’ve entered into in Iraq. But only speechmakers from coddled, comfortable backgrounds who’ve never heard a shot fired in anger, much less seen “dead men by mass production,” would dare use the blood of those who died at Normandy 60 years ago to try to cleanse their conscience of those dying in Iraq today.

The United States entered World War II, as it had entered World War I, to defeat a proven aggressor and bring the war to an end. The Bush administration actually won its righteous war, in Afghanistan after the aggression of September 11, 2001. But that victory came too quickly, it seems, for our leaders to get much satisfaction from it. So they sent our kids to Iraq. And what is the goal there today, now that the reasons we were given at first have proved to be grand delusions? To spread democracy? To extirpate the very idea of terrorism? To work the will of God? Sixty years ago, those who thought they could teach the world how to live the only right way, which was their way, and launched unprovoked wars claiming this was the only thing could do to defend their values—those were the people we called the enemy.

But let’s be clear about the soldiers. Our soldiers. Those men and women in Iraq today are, indeed, just as heroic as those at Normandy. They have been put in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, but that’s not their fault. They are fighting and dying and trying to build something good as soldiers, despite the most foolhardy civilian leadership in the modern history of the United States. Like any G.I. Joe in World War II, they’re making the best of a bad situation.

Max Speak

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