Spencer Blog Archives 10-03





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ONLY THE RNC... 10-31-03

could think that Republicans are owed a"right of review" for historical accuracy of a miniseries on the life of the Reagans.

No matter how fictionalized parts of it are, I suspect it's much more accurate on the whole than that 9/11 fantasy docudrama that was on Showtime a while back.

Oh yeah, new GYWO as well.

[Both links via Atrios]

Update:Here's my last blog post about the Showtime docudrama."DC 9/11: Time of Crisis" aired in September.

Here's just a bit of the review of it from the WaPo (click through for the link):

Simultaneously dull and disgraceful,"DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," a new Showtime movie, uses the tragic attack on America in 2001 as the basis for a reelection campaign movie on behalf of George W. Bush.

The film is an insult to those who perished in the attacks and, really, an insult to America generally, but it's so insanely boring that people aren't likely to become very outraged over it. Written by conservative Republican Lionel Chetwynd, who admits to a bias in Bush's favor, the film -- premiering on Showtime tomorrow night at 8 -- is primitive propaganda that portrays Bush as the noblest hero since Mighty Mouse.

Strangely enough, the RNC didn't say a thing about"historical accuracy" when this propagandistic love letter to W was released. I wonder why?

Posted by Tom at 9:08 p.m. CSTComment

BUSH'S FEMA HELD DAVIS'S APPLICATION FOR AID FOR MONTHS (WHILE IT WORKED TO DEFEAT DAVIS) AND THEN REJECTED CALIFORNIA'S REQUEST ONLY HOURS BEFORE THE FOREST FIRES STARTED 10-31-03

Holy cow.

The Bush administration took six months to evaluate Gov. Gray Davis' emergency request last spring for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas of Southern California.

The request was finally denied Oct. 24, only hours before wildfires roared out of control in what has become the largest fire disaster in California history.

Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs), a leader in the effort to get federal assistance for fire prevention, questioned Thursday why the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not rule sooner.

"FEMA's decision was wrong," Bono said."The timing couldn't have been worse.... We knew this disaster was going to happen with certainty. It was only a matter of when, and we were trying to beat the clock with removing the dead trees."

Can you imagine what we'd be hearing if Clinton's administration had done this? I know we certainly wouldn't be hearing anything like this:

"It's almost classic government," Lewis said in an interview outside the House chamber."When you get below the third level in a bureaucracy, they don't believe it's going to happen until they see a fire rolling.... It's not a Democratic or Republican problem. It's a government problem."
Right. Sure. You bet.

I hope Bush isn't thinking he's got a shot in California next year.

He just lost it.

Posted by Tom at 2:57 p.m. CSTComment

GETTING WARMER 10-31-03

I think Josh is getting warmer on who forged the Niger documents. Sounds like it was the Italian intelligence service to me -- working at the behest of Bush's erstwhile ally Silvio Berlusconi:

The US and UK start a major roll-out on the nuclear claims. But the response is generally disappointing. There’s major push-back from the IAEA and, secretly in the US, from the CIA.

It was precisely at this moment (in the last days of September and the first of October) that the advocates of the Niger story were most in need of some new evidence. And it was precisely at this moment when the new evidence --- at first seemingly incontrovertible --- popped up in Rome.

And the day after the reporter gets the docs the Editor-in-Chief of her magazine instructs her to take them to the American Embassy.

And remember too that it wasn’t publicly known at the time that Niger was the country in question.

BTW, the magazine in question is owned by Berlusconi. The White House needed evidence and -- voila! -- Berlusconi provided it for them.

Is it possible that the White House knew it was fraudulent? Did they request some cooked evidence from Berlusconi?

I don't know of course. I'm just asking what I think are reasonable questions.

You know, the kind of stuff the press stopped doing a couple of years ago.

Posted by Tom at 1:18 p.m. CSTComment

QUITE A TRICK 10-31-03

Paul Krugman tells us that yesterday's GDP growth could be a turning point for the economy -- or not. However, he notes, the growth comes almost entirely from consumer debt. I'm not sure that's so good.

If the growth continues, does it vindicate Bush's policies? Here's Krugman's answer:

To put it more bluntly: it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off.
Indeed.

Posted by Tom at 8:23 a.m. CSTComment

CORRUPT CRONY CAPITALISM... 10-30-03

is apparently alive and well in the Bush administration.

This story is quite eye-opening. Admittedly, we all knew the fix was in regarding the no bid Iraq contracts but this just confirms that it may be even worse than we thought it was, doesn't it?

The untold billions of our tax dollars flowing to Cheney's Halliburton 24-7 is getting increasingly creepy, isn't it?

You'd think that such an obvious example of corruption on the part of the president and vice president would elicit widespread outrage among Americans, wouldn't you?

I guess not. I'm trying to decide if it's simply because we're so cynical these days we expect it or if Americans just don't care that their government is bought and paid for by millions of dollars in campaign donations.

Personally, I think it's one helluva sorry comment on our political system, our media, and the morals of the electorate that this sort of thing is even tolerated.

Posted by Tom at 10:17 p.m. CSTComment

YALE LAW PROFESSOR JACK BALKIN ON... 10-30-03

l'affaire Atrios:

Of course, Luskin could sue Atrios for Atrios's own comments, for example, that Atrios suggested that Luskin was a stalker. But read in context, Atrios' post is (a) not an allegation of actual criminal behavior, and (b) is a protected statement of satire and opinion. He is making fun of Luskin's own comparison of himself as someone who stalks Paul Krugman. Luskin's argument that Atrios has libeled him shouldn't survive a motion for summary judgment. Of course, the real problem is that getting to that point will cost Atrios money to defend himself.

Luskin should be ashamed of himself for having any part in sending this letter. It's a disservice to the blogging community, and inconsistent with respect for freedom of expression.

What's most upsetting is that he is employing a frivolous lawsuit in order to punish someone for exercising their First Amendment rights and that he is piggybacking an abusive subpoena to expose Atrios' identity. So he's not only engaged in frivolous litigation (aren't conservatives against frivolous lawsuits?), but also an abuse of the discovery process (aren't conservatives opposed to the dirty tricks of trial lawyers?). I guess Luskin is only opposed to frivolous lawsuits by other people, and dirty tricks by lawyers who are not representing him.

That's a protected statement of opinion too, by the way.

I wonder if Luskin's going to have any shred of a reputation left when he's done making a fool of himself. It's apparent that he's certainly lost the respect of about every blogger on the planet now.

I just added Balkin's blog to the blogroll too by the way.

Posted by Tom at 12:57 p.m. CSTComment

GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S 1984 10-30-03

If this continues, George W. Bush will be re-elected.

As I've said before, this administration is following Reagan's 1984 strategy. They've been waiting for the economy to cyclically rebound (independently of their economic policies) and plan to use that as the launchpad for re-election.

That strategy, if this recovery holds up, has apparently paid off.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 a.m. CSTComment

THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES 10-30-03

Apparently, the career folks at the FBI are quite serious about the investigation of the Wilson-Plame scandal. The fact the career folks have apparently asked Ashcroft to appoint a special prosecutor or recuse himself sounds like they've found something to me.

The White House wants this to end soon. However, it doesn't sound like it's going to be wrapped up any time soon. As Mark Kleiman puts it:

But I'm not so sure that keeping it in-house will turn out to be any better. The FBI and the Criminal Division have a great deal of face to lose by coming up dry. And if they don't come up dry -- if they identify the sources of the information -- then a failure to prosecute is almost unthinkable. I'm betting that this does"go on into the election year," and that it will be in the news"forever," if"forever" is defined as"through Election Day."

The story quotes Charles Schumer as saying that several of his Republican colleagues told him privately that he was right to be pushing for a special counsel. If true, that's not good news for Bush.

Stay tuned folks. This could still get pretty interesting.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 a.m. CSTComment

WHO IS LUSKIN'S LAWYER? 10-29-03

Well, Luskin's law firm is apparently Hanify & King in Boston. And the guy who signed the threatening letter is on their staff, Jeffery J. Upton. His picture and bio make it clear that he's on the low end of the totem pole there. I suspect none of the folks higher up in the firm wanted anything to do with this.

Isn't it astonishing that Republicans who so frequently decry frivolous lawsuits are usually the first to threaten such lawsuits?

With the sort of beating Luskin is taking on the internet today from folks on both sides of the political spectrum, I'd expect him to back off soon on this.

And, if he doesn't, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if NRO drops him -- and soon.

After all, this is pretty embarrassing for them as well.

Update: When I put this post up, I thought I'd found something new. I didn't realize at the time that Kos had put this information up a few hours earlier. Oh well.

BTW, if you want to learn more about Don Luskin, go read his resume here. Despite all my years of higher education, in no way do I think someone has to go to college to be accomplished and be somebody (Luskin went to Yale for one year and that's it for his higher education). Of course, there is something amusing about someone calling their resume a curriculum vitae when all it's got on it involving any sort of curriculum is a vague reference to making it through a freshman year at Yale.

However, I can't help but mention that his resume certainly indicates that Luskin sure does change jobs a lot -- every couple of years as a matter of fact. I can't help but wonder if he's one of those folks f that lucky class who doesn't really need to work. I mean, heck, he got into George W's alma mater of Yale and about half of the folks who get into Ivy League schools these days get in because of their familial connections. I've met quite a few folks like this in my life.

Furthermore, as someone who often studies folks of this social class in his historical work, I can't help but wonder if Luskin's a member of the same privileged social class as W. He's started a couple of businesses just in the last five years. After the failure of a business, most of us wouldn't have the resources to just start one up right away. That's something folks with independent wealth -- or wealthy backers -- can do. That's the sort of thing W did in the 1980s while Poppy was vice president.

Honestly, it's really none of my business but, since this information is readily available, I couldn't help but say a little about it. I've seen this sort of work history many times in my own research after all.

But this is just idle speculation. I'll stop it now.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 p.m. CSTComment

KRUGMAN'S INTERNET STALKER GOES OFF THE LEGAL DEEP END 10-29-03

To learn more about this go here, here, and here.

Holy cow. What a nimrod!

Surely he's embarrassed about this by now, right?

Posted by Tom at 7:00 p.m. CSTComment

IS W GOING TO CUT AND RUN IN IRAQ? 10-29-03

Atrios and Kevin ask this interesting question today.

Surely not, right?

After all, we claimed we were going to improve life for the average Iraqi.

We certainly haven't done that yet.

Also, if we really cut and run, what's to stop Saddam from returning to power?

Posted by Tom at 12:36 p.m. CSTComment

WHY DOES W LIE ABOUT SUCH INNOCUOUS THINGS... 10-29-03

as who was responsible for the"Mission Accomplished" banner displayed during his embarrassing publicity stunt on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln?

CalPundit wonders aloud about this and so does Josh Marshall.

Folks I think the answer is simple. This president's ego is so large that he won't even admit that it was an obvious mistake back in April to claim that"all of the hard stuff in Iraq is over."

I mean, heck folks, that's the same reason these guys went through the White House website and changed" combat operations" to"major combat operations" a couple of months ago.

These guys can never want to admit they've been wrong -- and, astonishingly enough, they've been wrong about damn-near everything the last three years: the economy, the deficit, the war in Iraq, the threat posed by terrorists hijacking airplanes in 2001, etc.

We're now seeing nearly daily occurrences of the arrogant folks who make up the White House's"alternate reality political spin machine" bumping into the rather rude realities of the universe the rest of us live in.

It's getting a bit surreal, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 11:59 a.m. CSTComment

LYONS:"THE DOCTOR IS IN" 10-29-03

Here's Gene's column for the week!

Gene Lyons
October 29, 2003

The Doctor is In; Pundits Psychoanalyze Clark

Last month, this column predicted that the GOP response to Gen. Wesley Clark's presidential candidacy would be to turn him into the Democratic equivalent of Gen. Jack D. Ripper, the megalomaniacal crackpot in the classic film"Dr. Strangelove." Portraying Clark as mad with ambition appeared to be the only way to deal with his otherwise perfect political resume--first in his class at West Point, Rhodes Scholar, a Purple Heart and Silver Star for valor in Vietnam, NATO Supreme Commander, all that.

Besides, the outlines of the strategy were already visible. It clearly behooves Republicans to take him out now. Clark as the Democratic nominee would make Bush's re-election unlikely. Early profiles by members of what ABCNews.com's The Note calls"The Gang of 500" bristled with anonymous quotes from Pentagon detractors depicting Clark as, in Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's words,"too weird for prime time." Note the TV metaphor. Cohen wondered if"the personal qualities that bothered his [nameless] critics would be intolerable in a president. We like our presidents as we like our morning TV hosts--comfy."

"In an institution filled with ambitious men," wrote Post reporter Lois Romano more recently,"some viewed Clark as over the top, someone who would do or say anything to get ahead-and get his way." Now to a rational mind, accusing a West Point valedictorian, four-star general and presidential candidate of ambition is about as newsworthy as charging a golden retriever with an unseemly zeal for chasing tennis balls.

If the phrase"would do or say anything" sounds familiar, that's because it comes directly out of the GOP playbook. The last Democrat depicted as crazed with ambition was Al Gore, who never figured out how to counter a barrage of false accusations, such as the absurd canard that he claimed he'd"invented the internet," ceaselessly reiterated by Washington pundits taking dictation from the Republican National Committee.

Although unconscious, there's a subtly royalist overtone to such comments. George W. Bush, see, doesn't have to be a striver. No valedictorian he, Bush knows how to play the role of relaxed TV host/president precisely because as a humble, everyday American aristocrat he was born to it. Hence his accomplishments in life needn't make you, the humble voter or journalism major, feel inferior.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, albeit a fine reporter not beloved by the Bush White House, once gave a revealing explanation of the press's visceral antipathy to Gore on CNN's"Reliable Sources." Gore, Milbank said,"has been disliked all along and it was because he gives a sense that he's better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he's better than us--he's probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage."

With Bush currently scolding the press for reporting the ongoing catastrophe in Iraq, Milbank may wish to revise his comments. Nevertheless, the importance of sheer, unadulterated envy in the media's eager acceptance of the whisper campaign against Clark almost can't be overstated. Romano's Washington Post profile depicted his response to anonymous detractors as downright pathological.

"In interviews," she wrote, Clark"displayed the outward calm of a man who cannot bear to convey doubt or failure." [my italics] Actually, he sounded more exasperated to me."How do you think I could have succeeded in the military if every-body didn't like me? It's impossible," he said."Do you realize I was the first person promoted to full colonel in my entire year group of 2,000 officers? I was the only one selected. Do you realize that?...Do you realize I was the only one of my West Point class picked to command a brigade when I was picked?...I was the first person picked for brigadier general. You have to balance this out...A lot of people love me."

Now I doubt that Clark volunteered that some people love him without first being told others hate him. (The ellipses are Romano's.) Nevertheless, the doctor was definitely IN at the Washington Post, not to mention at The New Republic, the allegedly"liberal" magazine where one Adam Kushner opined that Clark's response to anonymous slurs made him appear"self-assured to the point of delusion."

Delusion, mind you, a psychiatric term denoting dogged belief in false ideas. Unless Clark made up the facts, it's a callow, ugly smear. The problem is that nobody but Clark himself can deal with it, and preferably on national TV. During a recent Democratic debate, he referred to a rival general's unspecified slurs on his" character and integrity" as sheer"McCarthyism." But he may need to confront symbolism with symbolism and go all Ollie North on them, treating the whispers as an insult to his patriotism, and standing in front of a flag.

Here we go again folks. The all-knowing cool kid Heathers of the Washington press corps are going to attempt to give Wesley Clark the Al Gore treatment.

Isn't it infuriating that there really are idiots out there who really believe all that claptrap about the"liberal media?"

Posted by Tom at 11:18 a.m. CSTComment

WILSON-PLAME SCANDAL LOSING STEAM 10-29-03

Here's the latest from David Corn on the Wilson-Plame scandal.

Isn't it amazing that what is easily the worst scandal since Watergate is apparently going to run out of steam because the media won't pursue it?

Liberal media my, er, hind foot.

The most interesting part of this scandal is that several members of the media know exactly who the leakers are because they were called by them.

This scandal is one of those interesting moments when you wonder just what a source would have to do for a member of the media to divulge them. These guys have come awfully close to committing treason. They have also imperiled national security and endangered the lives of scores of people.

Yet the media is still protecting them.

That's interesting, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 10:29 a.m. CSTComment

GREAT 10-29-03

“If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You’re dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”
Ladies and Gentleman, the unending wisdom of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 a.m. CSTComment

EVERYONE PLEASE WELCOME... 10-28-03

A Marine's Girl to the blogroll.

She's got a great blog and, heck, if she can get e-mail back from Anderson Cooper well, I've got to have her on the blogroll!

Posted by Tom at 9:01 p.m. CSTComment

KANSAS LOOKS TO JOIN MISSOURI... 10-28-03

in instituting a right-to-carry law. John Lott, academic fraud that he is, is interviewed for this article. I'm also happy to say that this reporter interviewed John Donohue, who actually uses the word"fraud" in the article to describe Lott, for the article as well. (Tim Lambert has more about this here).

You'll recall that my home state of Missouri just instituted a law (although its implementation has been delayed by a judge) despite the fact that it failed in a statewide referendum four years ago. Furthermore, the governor's veto was overridden only because of a very suspicious pass given to a lawmaker who was on active duty for the National Guard. The NRA wanted this one and apparently even the Army itself went out of its way to please them.

But I'm sure the only reason I'm opposed to these laws is because I want criminals to kill people, right Clayton?

Posted by Tom at 1:58 p.m. CSTComment

HESIOD NOTES THAT... 10-28-03

The 9/11 Commission is getting better and more complete cooperation from the Government of Pakistan, than from the Bush administration.
Holy cow. That's pretty amazing, isn't it?

Go read the post for the sorry details.

Posted by Tom at 9:13 a.m. CSTComment

KRUGMAN:"A WILLFUL IGNORANCE" 10-28-03

You know your assignment. Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 a.m. CSTComment

FOLLOW-UPS 10-27-03

I just thought I'd point you to a couple of posts by other bloggers on topics I've posted about.

For more on the Bill Rehnquist Republicans in Kentucky, go here. If Josh is looking into it, there's something there folks. He almost singlehandedly destroyed Republican misinformation efforts claiming voter fraud in South Dakota last year.

Also, for more on the White House's attempt to freely revise history on its website, go here.

You've now been updated.

Posted by Tom at 8:48 p.m. CSTComment

GO READ... 10-27-03

Art Silber. He has a lot of good stuff up today.

More later.

Posted by Tom at 3:52 p.m. CSTComment

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE 10-27-03

Just read it.

It's folks like General Dempsey that are helping to create the quagmire in Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 11:29 a.m. CSTComment

W SAYS 10-27-03

Again, I will repeat myself, that the more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society. They hate freedom. They love terror. They love to try to create fear and chaos. And what we're determined in this administration is not to be intimidated by these killers. As a matter of fact, we're even more determined to work with the Iraqi people to create the conditions of freedom and peace, because it's in our national interest we do so. It's in the interest of long-term peace in the world that we work for a free and secure and peaceful Iraq. A free and secure Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have enormous historical impact.
Progress? What the hell progress would that be? And I'm really tired of hearing about the schools. My understanding is very few schools closed for the war anyway. This litany of"progress" presented by W is yet more administration up-is-downism.

Also, whenever you hear the"they hate freedom" stuff you know W and the boys are scraping the bottom of the rhetorical barrel. That's idiotic"good vs. evil" silliness for people who don't want to take time to think about anything. They want some simple half-reasoned excuse for this mess we've gotten ourselves involved in.

Surely even W can come up with something better than that pap, right?

Posted by Tom at 10:29 a.m. CSTComment

WELCOME TO THE QUAGMIRE 10-27-03

Holy cow. I don't even know what to say.

Contrary to administration spin, I guess things aren't going so well in Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 8:28 a.m. CSTComment

HOLY PUBLIC TRANSPARENCY BATMAN! 10-26-03

Atrios points us to this webpage that explains that the White House has prevented all external web searches of its website that include the term"Iraq."

Now why would you want to do that? It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact you don't want folks to be able to do a google search of the White House website that would reveal exactly how the president and White House lied in the run-up to the war, would it?

Holy cow. This is shameless (and very Nixonian).

So now W and the boys are purposefully hiding information from the American people.

How's that for"restoring honor and dignity" to the White House?

Posted by Tom at 6:03 p.m. CSTComment

FRANK RICH COMMENTS... 10-26-03

on the mess that is Iraq and the Bush administration's disastrous media campaign to convince us all that everything is great in Iraq.

I think Rich gets it just about right:

It's at times like this that we must be grateful that Disney didn't succeed in jettisoning"Nightline" for David Letterman. (The administration is only too happy to send its top brass to Mr. Letterman when it doesn't send them to Oprah — Colin Powell most recently.) If the Oct. 15"Nightline" wasn't an Edward R. Murrow turning point in the coverage of the war on terrorism, it's the closest we've seen to one since 9/11. There will be others, because this administration doesn't realize that trying to control the news is always a loser. Most of the press was as slow to challenge Joe McCarthy, the Robert McNamara Pentagon and the Nixon administration as it has been to challenge the wartime Bush White House. But in America, at least, history always catches up with those who try to falsify it in real time. That's what L.B.J. and Nixon both learned the hard way.
Given today's events, his words have even more weight.

Iraq is a genuine mess folks -- not that you didn't know that and not that I didn't predict it long before the war even took place.

Posted by Tom at 3:57 p.m. CSTComment

REALITY RUDELY INTRUDED... 10-26-03

upon the dream world that the Bushies live in today.

First, the nuclear threat so frequently claimed by the W and the boys in the run-up to the war has been revealed to be a total fraud:

According to records made available to The Washington Post and interviews with arms investigators from the United States, Britain and Australia, it did not require a comprehensive survey to find the central assertions of the Bush administration's prewar nuclear case to be insubstantial or untrue. Although Hussein did not relinquish his nuclear ambitions or technical records, investigators said, it is now clear he had no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology he needed for either.

Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.

Most notably, investigators have judged the aluminum tubes to be"innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead.

In short, they lied to us about the aluminum tubes. Of course, I told you all that back in January, right?

In other dream world news, the administration tries to tell you that things are going well in Iraq, insisting that things are going okay. Well, except for the inconvenient fact that the attacks on U.S. troops are increasing by the day.

How well are things going today in Iraq? Well, not so well. Today, Paul Wolfowitz himself barely escaped a daring attack on U.S. headquarters at the al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad.

Well, at least you've got to give Wolfowitz credit for having the courage to actually stay in Baghdad. Most VIPs don't have such courage and spend the night in Kuwait for, well, rather obvious reasons now.

Posted by Tom at 12:10 p.m. CSTComment

TIRED OF WHITE HOUSE STONEWALLING... 10-25-03

the Republican head of the 9/11 commission, Thomas Kean, is preparing to issue subpoenas to the White House for documents that are still being withheld from the commission.

My goodness. Clinton turned over everything that was ever asked of him and even let Starr's investigators go through Hillary and Chelsea's underwear drawers. This administration won't even turn over documents that could help us to better prevent another 9/11-type attack.

It also is beginning to sound like W knew more than he's been letting on:

Anything that has to do with 9/11, we have to see it — anything. There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered."

While Mr. Kean said he was barred by an agreement with the White House from describing the Oval Office documents at issue in any detail — he said the White House was"quite nervous" about any public hint at their contents — other commission officials said they included the detailed daily intelligence reports that were provided to Mr. Bush in the weeks leading up to Sept. 11. The reports are known within the White House as the Presidential Daily Briefing.

I ask, for the millionth time since I started this blog, what are they hiding?

Posted by Tom at 3:15 p.m. CDTComment

REPUBLICANS REPRISE THE ROLE OF JIM CROW IN KENTUCKY
10-24-03

Holy cow. After all the bad pub they have gotten the last year from Trent Lott and Haley Barbour happily cavorting with unreconstructed southern racists, you'd think Republicans in the South would at least pretend they believed in democracy for everyone these days:

Jefferson County Republicans intend to place Election Day challengers at 59 voting precincts in predominantly black neighborhoods, a move that NAACP leaders yesterday called blatant intimidation.

The GOP election workers, most of whom live outside the targeted precincts in western and central Louisville, Portland and Newburg, will be on hand to challenge voters who they suspect aren't eligible.

Jefferson County GOP Chairman Jack Richardson IV said the precincts were chosen at random or because the Republican Party has had trouble finding registered voters in those areas to serve as election workers. The challengers, who will receive the same training as precinct workers, could fill in if needed.

Richardson said the precincts weren't chosen because of their racial makeup or voting patterns. Using challengers is a"legal, proper and permissible" way to ensure that voters are bona fide, he said.

Of course, this isn't exactly a new idea. You'll recall that William Rehnquist used to think it was great fun to challenge voters with darker skins whom he thought might vote for the wrong person during his misspent youth in Arizona.

I also can't help but be reminded of my current U.S. Senator's unfortunate choice of words on election night in 2000. He lost the governor's race that night to Bob Holden and many Missouri Republicans blamed the loss on the fact that the polls were kept open in St. Louis for a couple of extra hours. (Probably not but that's another story.) The next year, suspiciously, Jim made $100,000 teaching a couple of classes"part-time" at Wash U in St. Louis. I'm sure there was nothing improper in that appointment, huh?

But, anyway, I'll always remember the smile on Talent's face as he gleefully declaring after the polls were ordered closed:"We kept them out of the polls! We've stopped them from voting!"

Nice.

Posted by Tom at 9:42 p.m. CDTComment

TWO GOOD HISTORY-RELATED POSTS 10-24-03

Here and here.

Sorry I didn't blog much today folks. I worked on my tenure and promotion application for several hours and then I came home and raked leaves.

I slogged through the ghosts of teaching evaluations past this afternoon.

Anyone who has worked on a tenure and promotion portfolio will understand exactly what that means.

Posted by Tom at 7:31 p.m. CDTComment

NOW THAT'S A PUTDOWN 10-24-03

James Brolin has won numerous Emmys and Golden Globes; he's had three hit series and 30 feature films, including 'Traffic' and 'Antwone Fisher.' Meanwhile, Michael Reagan, who was born into the Lucky Sperm Club, has parlayed that into nothing but being a second-rate radio personality."
Ouch.

[Link via Nitpicker]

Posted by Tom at 7:24 p.m. CDTComment

WHY THE DIFFERENCE? 10-24-03

You're really going to have to explain to me just why Shoshana Johnson isn't getting the exact same benefits as Jessica Lynch. Now, naive me, I happen to think that soldiers who are wounded in a war deserve to get everything because they've sacrificed for their country -- as have all the folks who are toiling away in the hellhole that is Iraq right now -- whether I agreed with the war or not.

I'm sure some warblogger can explain all of this to me however. How about it, Glenn?

Isn't it amazing that W and the boys promised all of these things to the military during the campaign and have yet to deliver on any of them? I mean, hell, this year all they've done is get hundreds of these poor guys killed and commit them to a endless hellish peacekeeping mission in Iraq. Meanwhile they've been cutting their combat pay and screwing veterans of earlier wars out of their benefits. Whenever the press or the public is safely out of view, W and the boys sure do stick it to our soldiers, huh?

Surely the folks in the military are smart enough to wise up to this, right? I mean, heck folks, if this is what W's support looks like, I'd sure as hell hate to see what his enmity looks like.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 6:55 p.m. CDTComment

ANOTHER LOON NOMINATED TO THE FEDERAL BENCH 10-24-03

Boy, where's does W find these wingnuts?

California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, ran into skeptical questioning Wednesday from Senate Democrats for speeches in which she referred to the New Deal era as"the triumph of our socialist revolution" and disputed whether the Bill of Rights applied to the states.
The New Deal was a"socialist revolution." Yeah, right. Give me a break. Sometimes these loons really do go too far.

Posted by Tom at 3:24 p.m. CDTComment

IN HOOVER'S LEAGUE 10-24-03

Boy, now Krugman really lets W have it today. As usual, in everyone's eyes but those of his internet stalker Donald Luskin, he's got him cold:

Still, Mr. Snow may get lucky, and the job market may pick up. But his prediction was a huge climb-down from administration predictions earlier this year, when the White House insisted that it expected the economy to add more than five million jobs by next November.

And even if Mr. Snow's forecast comes true, that won't vindicate the administration's economic policy. In fact, while private analysts are criticizing Mr. Snow for being overly optimistic, I think the stronger criticism is that he's trying to lower the bar: to define as success a performance that, even if it materializes, should really be considered a dismal failure.

Bear in mind that the payroll employment figure right now is down 2.6 million compared with what it was when George W. Bush took office. So Mr. Snow is predicting that his boss will be the first occupant of the White House since Herbert Hoover to end a term with fewer jobs available than when he started. This is what he calls success?

Bear in mind also that just increasing the number of jobs isn't good enough. If we want to improve the dismal prospects of job seekers — currently, 75 percent of those who lose jobs still haven't found new jobs when their unemployment benefits run out — the number of jobs must grow faster than the number of people who want to work. Indeed, because the working-age population of the United States is steadily growing, the economy must add about 130,000 jobs each month just to prevent the labor market from deteriorating.

...

Mr. Bush's employment policies would truly have been a success if he had left the job market no worse than he found it. In fact, even his own Treasury secretary thinks he'll fall five million or so jobs short of that mark.

I know, I know, the usual suspects will roll out the usual explanations. It is, of course, Bill Clinton's fault. (Just for the record, the average rate of job creation during the whole of the Clinton administration was about 225,000 jobs a month. Mr. Clinton presided over the creation of 11 million jobs during each of his two terms.) Or maybe Osama bin Laden did it.

But surely there must be a statute of limitations on these excuses. By the time of the election, Mr. Bush will have had almost four years to deal with the legacy of the technology bubble, and more than three years to deal with the economic fallout from 9/11.

...

Mr. Bush's handlers have often managed to have small achievements hailed as triumphs by persuading people to set the bar very low. Now his officials are trying to convince the public that if, after several years of dismal performance, they can achieve one year of job creation at a rate below the average rate Bill Clinton achieved over eight years, this will constitute a great economic victory.

My goodness. W really does have nearly as bad a record on job creation as Herbert Hoover. If it weren't for his adept stage managers and a very compliant media, W would already be out of the running for next year's election.

And, while we're on the topic of the job market and the compliant media, do you remember when the Mighty Wurlitzer was telling us that the job market was improving a couple of weeks ago? The big claim was that jobless claims actually fell for a couple of weeks in a row? Do you remember that?

Nope. Didn't happen. After trumpeting it to all the media outlets (who, being the loyal scribes they are, promptly wrote stories about it), this turned out not to be true at all. The jobless figures actually rose during the two weeks in question once the revised figures came in. But have you seen a story on that?

I'm beginning to get very suspicious of this little shell game the administration is playing with the weekly unemployment figures.

I mean, heck folks, they lie about everything else. What's to stop them from lying about this too?

Posted by Tom at 8:45 a.m. CDTComment

HARMONIZING WITH THE MIGHTY WURLITZER 10-23-03

Oh, now here's a shock. The media is misleading Americans about the numbers of killed and wounded in Iraq.

Nothing like a press that is consciously trying to help the administration convince Americans this war isn't a fool's errand.

Of course, you all probably knew that, didn't you?

Posted by Tom at 8:15 p.m. CDTComment

MORE THAN A WHIFF OF DESPERATION 10-23-03

Tim Lambert takes apart Clayton Cramer's latest defense of John Lott. Cramer has taken to using the fullblown"Bellesiles defense" now. You remember that one, don't you? That's the one where you argue that all of the criticism is just politically motivated.

Man, Clayton Cramer has now become what he supposedly despised, hasn't he?

I'm not even sure calling this"ironic" quite covers it.

Update: In response to Tim linking to the post, Cramer has now moved it off the front page of his blog to his archives.

I'm not exactly surprised.

Posted by Tom at 10:56 a.m. CDTComment

INSTAHISTORY 10-23-03

Glenn's flunking U.S. history again.

Of course, I should point out that this certainly isn't the first time nor, sadly, will it be the last.

You'd think some sort of basic knowledge of U.S. history and commitment to historical fact would be necessary for a law professor.

I guess not.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 a.m. CDTComment

LYONS:"BUSH BIZARRO WORLD" 10-23-03

Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week. Since I was out of town yesterday, I didn't get it posted.

Enjoy!

Gene Lyons
October, 22, 2003

Bush Bizarro World

Either Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper has been doping my morning coffee, or we are living in Bizarro World. If you don't recall the old DC comics, Bizarro World was created accidentally by the mad scientist Lex Luthor in a futile quest to clone Superman for evil purposes. Bizarro Superman turned out to have most of the Man of Steel's powers, but none of his intelligence.

Greenish in hue and speaking pidgin English like Tarzan or George W. Bush, he showed up at the Daily Planet and began stalking Lois Lane. Needless to say, the real Superman defeated his rival in aerial combat, although Bizarro World adventures became a continuing theme, a distorted mirror image of the caped crusader's preferred reality of"Truth, Justice and the American Way."

So has Lex Luthor cloned the GOP? The State Department's battling the Pentagon over Iraq, the CIA's at war with the White House over who leaked a covert operative's identity, Rush Limbaugh's a junkie, a steroid-enhanced masher's governor of California, a three-star general's making speeches claiming that God appointed George W. Bush to fight a Holy War against Satan's Islamic allies, and what's the big problem worrying conservative pundits?

Why a scourge of irrational"Bush-haters." Columinists at the New York Times and Washington Post have advanced to the Bizzaro World notion that people who think Bush lies a lot are the equivalent of crackpots who wrote best-selling books and peddled videos portraying Bill Clinton as a drug dealer and serial murderer.

But let's forget the serious stuff and have some fun with sex, drugs, and Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, shall we?

Spare me the crocodile tears about poor Rush Limbaugh, OK? Here's a guy who's become a multi-millionaire celebrity by masquerading as Mr. Personal Responsibility and mocking the weaknesses of others. No sooner had Limbaugh been forced to admit he was addicted to prescription pain-killers--Schedule II narcotics, incidentally, like heroin and cocaine--than his own words got thrown in his face.

The answer to harsh prison terms given African-Americans, Limbaugh argued, wasn't mercy."Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff," he said."The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."

Discussing an NBA player's drug problems on TV, Limbaugh once said that experts be damned,"I don't buy into the disease part of drug abuse. The first time you reach for a substance you are making a choice."

No sooner did Rush get caught in a Federal drug probe, however, than he lapsed into therapy-speak. Suddenly drug addiction wasn't a crime, but a medical problem. Just as compulsive gambling mutated from a moral to a psychological problem after"Book of Virtues" author Bill Bennett needed to have his fingers surgically removed from a slot machine lever."Defining deviancy down," Republicans used to call it.

To me, the last word on Limbaugh was pronounced by Joe Seehausen, executive director of the Libertarian Party."America's drug warriors are shameless hypocrites who believe in one standard of justice for ordinary Americans and another for themselves, their families and their political allies."

Regarding Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger, it was funny watching Bizzaro World pundits who'd waxed apoplectic over Bill Clinton's idiotic dalliance with Monica Lewinsky suddenly unable to distinguish between consensual and forced sex. Conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, however, nailed them:

At best, the evidence indicates that Schwarzenegger has a habit of sexual battery….When Clinton submitted to oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, conservatives thought it was morally repugnant. They also thought it disqualified him from remaining in office…Yet they're happy to have as governor of California someone who, by his own admission, has forced himself on unwilling women. Their new darling is a more aggressive sexual predator than the president they tried to remove from office. Morality? Law? They'll leave it to liberals to fret about such irrelevancies. But if the charges persist and multiply, I predict conservatives will find a way to address Arnold's behavior: They'll blame it on Clinton."

Then there's Gen. Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. In church speeches, Boykin has shown photos he says depict"demonic presences" over Muslim cities. An adept of the"my-God-is-red-hot, your-god-ain't- diddley-squat" school of fundamentalist theology, he boasted of telling a defeated opponent who'd invoked Allah that"my God was a real God and his was an idol."

Since an alleged"Christian-Jewish crusade" against Islam constitutes Osama bin Laden's single best recruiting slogan, you'd think Boykin would be cashiered. But now he says he didn't mean it. In Bush Bizarro World, that's good enough.

Posted by Tom at 8:28 a.m. CDTComment

BUSY DAY FOR ME 10-22-03

I'm going to be incommunicado for a while -- more than likely for the rest of the day. What I'm doing today I may or may not comment on. I haven't decided.

The normal routine will resume tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 8:54 a.m. CDTComment

MORE FROM SEYMOUR HERSH 10-22-03

Here's an interview with Seymour Hersh about his latest article. It's quite interesting. He also recalls another time that the CIA gave in to administration pressure and just wrote it the way they wanted -- not surprisingly it was during the Reagan administration:

One official I talked to reminded me what happened in the mid-nineteen-eighties, when Ronald Reagan was convinced that Cuba was behind everything going on in Central America—that all of the aspiration for freedom in Central America, the unrest there, was the work of Communist outside agitators. The community fought them for a long time, but they eventually gave up, and the analysts began to write it the way they wanted. The fact of the matter is that unless there’s very strong independent leadership on top the analysts will break and fold. In this case, George Tenet simply wasn’t strong enough. He’s a decent man, a kind man, and a perfectly honorable man, but after 9/11 he was in trouble, and the way he held on to his job was by going along and not telling the White House anything they didn’t want to hear.
It's a good interview. Go read the rest of it.

Posted by Tom at 8:51 a.m. CDTComment

RUSH IN"FEMINAZI HELL" 10-22-03

From"psychodynamic role-playing and yoga" to"adventure therapy,""Climbing Wall,""the desert experience" and"equine-assisted therapy" (yes, bonding with horses), Limbaugh may just think he died and went to"feminazi" hell. The website depicts photos of people with a decidedly Berkeley look sitting around on the floor in what seem like consciousness-raising sessions. Picture Rush holding his fellow travelers’ hands and singing Kumbayah. Surely he’ll be reciting a line from the very president he lambasted for years:"I feel your pain." How many on the right would have thought that Bill Clinton would be getting the last chuckle, out there aiding his feminazi wife’s successful political career while their man Rush is wandering the desert reciting New Age mantras?
Go read the rest of it. It's hilarious -- and quite interesting.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:37 a.m. CDTComment

450K SERVED 10-21-03

Thanks folks. A few hours ago I had my 450,000th visitor to the blog. I'm sure this visitor came via a link from Buzzflash, Hesiod or Mark Kleiman. I've also had nearly 634,000 hits as well since I installed my hitcounter in September of 2002.

As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope to give you good reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CDTComment

DEAD AMERICAN SOLDIERS? 10-21-03

What dead American soldiers?

I don't see any dead American soldiers!

What are you talking about?

The whole thing is quite shameful but, given the nature of this administration, not exactly surprising.

And W hasn't gone to a single memorial service since becoming president either.

Impressive.

Posted by Tom at 12:48 p.m. CDTComment

KRUGMAN:"LISTENING TO MAHATHIR" 10-21-03

Krugman's column this morning is pretty good.

Go read it.

Posted by Tom at 8:37 a.m. CDTComment

A CASE OF WILLFUL DECEPTION 10-20-03

Did a former CIA agent forge the Niger documents to expose W and the boys as fraudulent manipulators of intelligence?

This and other explosive questions are raised in the latest bombshell Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker.

And Hersh lays a lot of the blame for the mishandling and manipulation of intelligence directly on Condi:

In early October, David Kay, the former U.N. inspector who is the head of the Administration’s Iraq Survey Group, made his interim report to Congress on the status of the search for Iraq’s W.M.D.s. “We have not yet found stocks of weapons,” Kay reported, “but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war.” In the area of nuclear weapons, Kay said, “Despite evidence of Saddam’s continued ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.” Kay was widely seen as having made the best case possible for President Bush’s prewar claims of an imminent W.M.D. threat. But what he found fell far short of those claims, and the report was regarded as a blow to the Administration. President Bush, however, saw it differently. He told reporters that he felt vindicated by the report, in that it showed that “Saddam Hussein was a threat, a serious danger.”

The President’s response raises the question of what, if anything, the Administration learned from the failure, so far, to find significant quantities of W.M.D.s in Iraq. Any President depends heavily on his staff for the vetting of intelligence and a reasonable summary and analysis of the world’s day-to-day events. The ultimate authority in the White House for such issues lies with the President’s national-security adviser—in this case,Condoleezza Rice. The former White House official told me, “Maybe the Secretary of Defense and his people are short-circuiting the process, and creating a separate channel to the Vice-President. Still, at the end of the day all the policies have to be hashed out in the interagency process, led by the national-security adviser.” What happened instead, he said, “was a real abdication of responsibility by Condi.”

This story exposes this administration's short-circuiting of the intelligence vetting process -- primarily so they could cherry-pick the intelligence information in order to make their fraudulent case for war.

One of the more eye-opening passages is this one:

By early March, 2002, a former White House official told me, it was understood by many in the White House that the President had decided, in his own mind, to go to war. The undeclared decision had a devastating impact on the continuing struggle against terrorism. The Bush Administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.

Chalabi’s defector reports were now flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President’s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals. When INR analysts did get a look at the reports, they were troubled by what they found. “They’d pick apart a report and find out that the source had been wrong before, or had no access to the information provided,” Greg Thielmann told me. “There was considerable skepticism throughout the intelligence community about the reliability of Chalabi’s sources, but the defector reports were coming all the time. Knock one down and another comes along. Meanwhile, the garbage was being shoved straight to the President.”

A routine settled in: the Pentagon’s defector reports, classified “secret,” would be funnelled to newspapers, but subsequent C.I.A. and INR analyses of the reports—invariably scathing but also classified—would remain secret.

“It became a personality issue,” a Pentagon consultant said of the Bush Administration’s handling of intelligence. “My fact is better than your fact. The whole thing is a failure of process. Nobody goes to primary sources.” The intelligence community was in full retreat.

So W and Cheney had convinced themselves that Saddam had WMDs and wouldn't listen to anyone who said anything different. As Josh put it earlier this evening, they clearly had deceived themselves:

At heart this was an issue of people who had something they were just dying to find, just dying to believe in. By cutting themselves off from anybody who was a dissenting voice --- which usually also meant anybody who knew what they were doing --- they managed to isolate themselves with their own credulity and walk their country into a profound embarrassment and a potential disaster.
However, I'd argue that, since W and the boys were receiving these reports from the CIA knocking Chalabi's defectors' intelligence, it seems obvious to me that W and Cheney knew they were using questionable intelligence to make their case. That is what makes this whole mess more than simple incompetence. Therefore, this one breaks the plane and becomes a case of willful deception of the public.

Folks, I can't help but think that in another era (or, more plausibly, if the president simply was a member of the other political party) this would have easily been viewed as an impeachable offense.

Do you agree?

Posted by Tom at 9:27 p.m. CDTComment

THAT'S OKAY TIM 10-20-03

I'd really like to be wrong about this stuff every now and then. I really would.

However, I'd argue that you should never underestimate right wingers' capacity for utter breathtaking hypocrisy. It's one of their most enduring character traits.

And righty bloggers, I'm afraid, are particularly hypocritical. And I'm not just talking about the"gun enthusiasts" orbiting Planet Instahack who are still defending John Lott.

Let me give you one very recent (and not very original) example to make my point. Right wingers, of course, excoriated Clinton for his consensual affair with Lewinsky, claiming it proved he didn't have the integrity to be president.

Predictably, these same folks also spent months during the run-up to the war blasting Hollywood figures for opposing the war and insisting they should just keep their mouths shut regarding politics. Then, without missing a beat, these same folks happily supported Arnold the Gropinator, all the while minimizing his boorish assaultive behavior and blissfully ignoring significant evidence that he'd had several extra-marital affairs.

Therefore, it's really quite hard to take these world class hypocrites very seriously when they try to play the role of the morals police these days.

You can expect these folks to get even more grumpy as the public tide turns against their man W. I expect support for the righty agenda to virtually vanish within the next four or five months -- unless the economy really begins a miraculous turnaround.

As always, of course, we'll see.

Posted by Tom at 7:10 p.m. CDTComment

THE ASTONISHING INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY OF JONAH GOLDBERG 10-20-03

Art Silber takes Jonah Goldbergapart today:

I have to note still again the unbelievably dishonest nature of the argument that"nobody...has made a remotely persuasive case for why it would have been good to keep Saddam in power." Listen up, Goldberg and all you other hawks who believe this crap and haven't learned the basics of thinking: nobody made that"persuasive case" -- because nobody ever tried to. Nobody believed it was good"to keep Saddam in power." Nobody. Got it, you stupid morons? Jesus.

That is not the question, and it was never the question. Talk about shifting the burden of proof. If you want to initiate an invasion, begin a lengthy occupation, lose American lives, and massively distort the American economy for many decades to come, the burden of proof is yours, not mine, and not the burden of anyone else who opposed this war.

Indeed.

Read the rest of it.

Posted by Tom at 1:24 p.m. CDTComment

E-MAIL HOWIE 10-20-03

Howie Kurtz is such a Republican tool. I mean even when he's trying to be even-handed he can't help but slant things Bush's way. Read this article about Bush hatred and you'll see what I mean. He interviews absolutely loopy wingnuts like Laura Ingraham and pretends they're average rational people or something.

In a case of very bad timing, he also mentions the Prescott Bush Nazi factoid but only as evidence of irrational Bush hatred:

York also notes that Sheldon Drobny, who is arranging financing for a liberal talk radio network, has alleged online that the president's grandfather, Prescott Bush, did business with the Third Reich but that"as in any fascist regime, the press is prevented from publishing it."
Let me add my voice to Hesiod's and suggest that readers e-mail Howie and let him know that this isn't some unfounded rumor, it's a fact.

And, by the way, why didn't the media ever really cover this story? I would argue it's irrelevant to W but it at least deserved to be reported.

So much for the liberal media, eh?

Posted by Tom at 11:19 a.m. CDTComment

MORE ON PRESCOTT BUSH'S NAZI CONNECTION 10-20-03

Here's a link to the original (more detailed story) about the Prescott Bush Nazi connection from the New Hampshire Gazette.

Again, I would argue this doesn't have anything to do with W. It does tell you something about his grandfather though, doesn't it? Clearly making money off Nazi Germany didn't bother him much. In fact I would argue it's pretty scandalous that the government paid him $1.5M for the seized assets -- and I'm sure he didn't donate it to charity or anything.

It is interesting that the Bush family and apparently the press have conspired to keep this skeleton in the family closet for so long, isn't it?

[Link via e-mail from Bob Fertik at Democrats.com]

Posted by Tom at 10:23 a.m. CDTComment

CLAYTON CRAMER HAS JUST ABOUT... 10-19-03

used up his credibility with his increasingly frantic defenses of John Lott.

How many times has he desperately misrepresented Tim Lambert in the last couple of weeks?

As Cramer continues to embarrass himself daily, it's becoming harder and harder to believe that this is the same guy who credibly took down Bellesiles's critics a year ago.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

I'm not exactly surprised however. I predicted all of this last January and February if you recall. (To find the Lott posts, just do a"find" search for"Lott.")

If you recall, way back in January I argued there was a simple reason for why the Lott case was so important to them:

As I've said many times, these folks only went after Bellesiles tooth and nail because they disagreed with his thesis and now they believe Lott's flimsy alibi because they agree with his thesis. To admit that's what's going on would essentially destroy the"dishonest libruls supported Bellesiles" morality play that is so important for their particular worldview to work.

They won't dare admit that they're doing the same thing Bellesiles's supporters did because it threatens more than Lott. It calls into question their entire cartoonish view of academia itself.

And they wouldn't dare do that, would they?

Lott's defenders have now proved themselves to be even more sycophantic than Bellesiles's defenders. I'd argue that's not exactly something to be proud of.

However, I must say that it's all unfolding exactly as I expected it would.

Ah, the irony is quite delicious, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 8:41 p.m. CDTComment

WELCOME TO BUSH AND ASHCROFT'S AMERICA... 10-19-03

where freedom of the press and freedom of speech no longer exist.

I really am about to decide that Ashcroft has got a big roll of"U.S. Constitution toilet paper" over at the Justice Department these days.

If right wing extremist Ashcroft had any integrity or honor, I'd say"shame on you" and it might make an impact on him.

However, we all know he doesn't, don't we?

And be sure to read the first story about how they're controlling press access to hospitals in Baghdad. That's why some in the press has been so antagonistic to the"success counteroffensive" by the White House. They know it's all about news management, not improving the reality in Baghdad.

This story also makes a point I made a couple of days ago:

“All the TV wants to cover is some sensational, isolated terrorist attack,” Evans told NEWSWEEK on his flight back to Washington. “I went over expecting to find an environment where people were frightened. But I found a country that was alive with hope and optimism.” Yet reporters who covered the war say that some of the Coalition’s achievements are less impressive than they sound. Paul (Jerry) Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, proudly announced the reopening of Iraq’s schools this month, while White House officials point to the opening of Iraq’s 240 hospitals. In fact, many schools were already open in May, once major combat ended, and no major hospital closed during the war. But that didn’t stop a group of Republican senators from tearing into American reporters covering Iraq earlier this month. “I was not told by the media... that thousands and thousands of Iraqi schoolchildren went back to school,” said Larry Craig of Idaho, who recently toured Iraq. The senator neglected to mention that he slept both nights of his trip in Kuwait, not Iraq.
As I've said, as soon as the administration starts having its VIPs spend the night in Baghdad, that's when we'll know that things are going okay in Iraq.

Until then, they're lying when they say that everything's hunky-dory in Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 1:39 p.m. CDTComment

NOT A GOOD DAY FOR PAUL BREMER 10-19-03

First, Bremer and his so-called experts have ignored an exhaustive study of the potential problems in rebuilding Iraq.

Second, by playing hardball with the international community regarding oversight of Iraqi oil revenues, he has made himself look awfully petty and even a wee bit crooked.

This is willful incompetence folks.

It's only a matter of time before Iraq really does become a quagmire (if it isn't already), isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:15 a.m. CDTComment

WHO DIDN'T KNOW THIS? 10-18-03

I'm with Atrios, I really thought most folks already knew this:

President Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power, government documents show.

Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp., a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen family, according to recently declassified National Archives documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler, whose Nazi party Thyssen believed was preferable to communism. The documents do not show any evidence Bush directly aided that effort. His position with Union Banking never was a political issue for Bush, who was elected to the Senate from Connecticut in 1952.

...

Union Banking was seized by the government in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

I also have to say I'm not sure what in the world this has to do with W.

However, this has been widely known for years, right?

Posted by Tom at 8:16 a.m. CDTComment

THE SWEET SPOT 10-17-03

Here's a link to Krugman's latest column. As usual, it's quite good.

I think Krugman's absolutely right on the proper political strategy for a candidate advocating a repeal of W's tax cuts.

Posted by Tom at 4:04 p.m. CDTComment

A REBUKE FROM BUSH I? 10-17-03

Now this is an interesting column. Did you know that George H.W. Bush just gave his most coveted public service award to Teddy Kennedy?

Gigi Meyer spins this as a public rebuke of W. I don't know about that. However, it's at least an interesting idea, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 4:01 p.m. CDTComment

MORE NATTERING NABOBS OF NEGATIVISM 10-17-03

I'm sure W and the boys would tell us to not pay attention to such minor things as the deaths of four soldiers in a single day.

Things in Iraq are really going quite well, right?

The media I'm sure has filtered out a story about some school reopening today which, in the minds of some Republicans these days, is much more important than the measly deaths of a few soldiers per day.

Hesiod puts it quite well this morning:

Unfortunately, Iraqi guerrillas and U.S. troops are refusing to cooperate with the Bush administration's concerted effort to tell everyone about all the"good" things that are happening in Iraq. If only those unpatriotic, negative soldiers would avoid getting in the way of Iraqi bullets and explosives, things would be hunky dory.

Take these 4 insubordinate military policemen, for example. They violated express orders from Secretary Rumsfeld that they were, under no circumstances, to die in the line of duty...lest they step on the President's message to the homefront.

I understand that as soon as the bodies are flown home and buried by their families, formal Court martial proceedings will ensue.

Boy, W and the boys sure did pick a bad time for a media counteroffensive insisting that things are really quite good in Iraq, didn't they?

Posted by Tom at 9:37 a.m. CDTComment

MORE COMPARISONS TO ORWELL 10-16-03

Billmon points us to this excellent column by James Pinkerton. Here's just a bit:

There's nothing like a war to bring out the inner George Orwell in a government. In ways little and small, Uncle Sam has been morphing into Big Brother - spinning the news, even, apparently, manufacturing news.

Yesterday, the Gannett News Service reported that 11 different U.S. newspapers had unwittingly printed identical five-paragraph letters-to-the- editor from soldiers in Iraq. The letters were full of upbeat puff -"the quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored" - the kind that some PR blitzer might dream up.

None of the soldiers contacted by Gannett for comment said that they had written the letter; it had been handed to them for signature, they said, by Army superiors. Indeed, one soldier said he hadn't even seen the letter before it appeared in his hometown paper.

Somewhere, Orwell's ghost is smiling grimly. In his novel"1984," the British writer imagined a Ministry of Truth that would be responsible for manufacturing news of victories and triumphs. Now, it's no longer fiction; it's your tax dollars at work.

Another Orwellian concept was"doublethink," defined as the ability"to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed." This administration is doublethinking, doubletime, in its effort to justify the Iraq war - and so the inconvenient truth is shipped off to convenient oblivion.

Last Thursday, for example, President George W. Bush declared,"America must not forget the lessons of September 11th . . . We must fight this war until the work is done." Bush seems to be saying that we invaded Iraq because Iraq was involved in 9/11.

But, of course, that's not true, as Bush himself admitted in an off-message moment. The truth is that 9/11 gave the neoconservatives who influence Bush the excuse they needed for"regime change," which they had advocated long before 9/11. Now, after the fact, Bush is asking Americans to make the doublethink leap of faith: The United States was attacked by al-Qaida, so we had to attack Saddam Hussein. Got that?

Now go read the rest of it.

As Billmon notes, Pinkerton is one of the few conservatives who isn't currently parroting the up-is-down party line. It's nice to know that there are a few genuine conservative columnists with integrity these days. Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune is another conservative who deserves a nod for telling the truth in the run-up to the war.

On a related note, not a single conservative left a message on my comment boards yesterday in response to this post.

I thought all of the supposedly committed warmongers stopped reading this blog when the going got tough back in April and May.

I love how righties like Insty insist that only lefty readers do that. Sorry buddy. My experience is that it's the righties who run as fast as their little legs will carry them from contrary opinions -- back to the soothing sounds of Faux News, Rushycontin and the blogs of folks like Glenn.

Posted by Tom at 8:27 p.m. CDTComment

TOUCHY FEELY REPUBLICANISM 10-16-03

"The story of what we've done in the postwar period is remarkable. It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.”
You know, I'll bet those soldiers' families don't feel that way.

Posted by Tom at 3:29 p.m. CDTComment

THE NIXONIAN APPROACH 10-16-03

Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to"stop the leaks" to the media, or else.

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.

Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he"didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

Isn't that hilarious?

However, we should think about this a bit more. Either Bush isn't able to stop the leaking at all (as evidenced by this story) or, hypocritically, he's only talking about"bad leaks." Good leaks are okay -- especially leaks that make him look like he's"taking charge."

Did any of you see Nightline last night? Ted Koppel just really let Dan Bartlett have it. This story has a sentence in it that is reminiscent of the interview last night:

"What's most revealing is the extent of frustration taking hold," said historian Robert Dallek of Boston University, a biographer of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy."It's really reminiscent of Johnson and Vietnam. Members of the Senate... and the media were giving him grief. It sounds like Bush is falling into that pattern. He's blaming the media, much like Johnson did."
Or, as Ted Koppel suggested numerous times last night, like Richard Nixon.

The parallels are quite striking. You now have a president who is so thin-skinned (and, in W's case, incurious) that he doesn't read the newspapers. He therefore gets his news from his aides who are acting, to use a White House term, as his filter. That's why W keeps telling us how great things are in Iraq. The administration's actions in the wake of the Wilson-Plame scandal are quite Nixonian as well.

The fact that Bush has surrounded himself with so many ex-Nixon people is also quite spooky.

This is getting quite interesting, isn't it?

BTW, if things are going so well in Iraq, why doesn't Bush go there? If things are going so well in Iraq why is it that administration VIPs and congressional visitors never spend the night there? (For those of you who don't know, VIP visitors to Iraq these days usually spend the night in Kuwait.)

I think these two things tell you enough about how well things are really going in Iraq, don't they?

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 9:45 a.m. CDTComment

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND MILITARY? 10-16-03

I think it's time for General William Boykin to retire.

You've got to read this stuff to believe it.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 a.m. CDTComment

W WAS APPARENTLY PLANNING FOR WAR WITH IRAQ... 10-16-03

before he became president. And now we know that the Big Dog warned him personally about al-Qaida:

Former President Bill Clinton says he warned President George W. Bush before he left office in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was the biggest security threat the United States faced.

Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the History Channel on Wednesday, Clinton said he discussed security issues with Bush in his"exit interview," a formal and often candid meeting between a sitting president and the president-elect.

"In his campaign, Bush had said he thought the biggest security issue was Iraq and a national missile defence," Clinton said."I told him that in my opinion, the biggest security problem was Osama bin Laden."

The U.S. government has blamed bin Laden's Al Qaeda network for the September 11 attacks.

Ah, the utter incompetence of the Bush administration. Have they ever done anything in a competent manner?

Let me just briefly recap this administration's record of incompetence. They ignored warnings from Clinton officials about al-Qaeda, ignored intelligence during August of 2001 suggesting plane hijackings by terrorists, bungled the war in Afghanistan and bungled the war in Iraq. On top of all this, they have horribly mismanaged the American economy and Federal budget.

Again, is there anything W and the boys have done well?

Posted by Tom at 9:16 a.m. CDTComment

YET AGAIN... 10-15-03

Jay Bookman, who was an early critic of Bush-Cheney-Halliburton, Inc.'s warplans, hits one out of the park today:

The true policy choice is between actions that make things better for the United States and actions that make things worse. If we were to assess the invasion of Iraq on those grounds, the outcome would be something like this:

Saddam had no WMD, no nuclear program and no ties to al-Qaida. So invading Iraq did little or nothing to improve our security. It did, however, come at a cost that may take decades to fully tally.

The invasion has strained our alliances and international standing, making it difficult to draw support against real threats in North Korea and Iran. Our military is overextended. The financial toll is $150 billion and counting; the toll in U.S. lives continues to mount as well.

If the administration truly did expect all that, they are bigger fools than even their harshest critics have claimed.

Indeed.

Heh.

Posted by Tom at 10:11 p.m. CDTComment

LYONS:"NINE CANDIDATES IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE" 10-15-03

Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week!

Gene Lyons
October 15, 2003

Nine Candidates in Search of an Audience

Maybe it’s a good thing a lot more people watched the Yankees-Red Sox melodrama on TV last week than the Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN. Thanks to the miracle of videotape, I managed to see both. Staged in Arizona, the latest production of “Nine Candidates in Search of an Audience” showcased less the candidates’ merits than their party’s traditional inability to discipline itself even with the most crucial presidential election in a generation approaching.

Then over the weekend, I heard a Republican savant on the radio vending the preposterous theory that Wesley Clark had entered the race as a “stalking horse” for Hillary Clinton. Invoking the Hillary Monster has become the GOP’s surest means of extracting cash from Moron-Americans who haven’t already flung it away on RV excursions to Branson, Missouri or yielded to the pleas of faith-healing televangelists. The Democrat party, the fellow claimed, is being run entirely by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

If so, here’s my advice to Chappaqua, N.Y.‘s fun couple: ditch four or five of these jokers at once. Nine candidates isn’t a political contest, it’s a litter. With all nine standing behind podiums in a semi-circle, the CNN exercise resembled less a debate than a game show, with emcee Judy Woodruff preening, posing, interrupting, scolding, and generally acting as if she--as the representative of Washington’s celebrity press corps--were the star, and the candidates hapless contestants to be discarded in favor of next week’s nobodies. On one or two occasions, Woodruff actually turned her back and walked away from a candidate giving an answer that evidently displeased her.

Maybe the experience was good for Clark, who as a four-star general can’t have been patronized to his face very often. But the effect was to render the entire field rather foolish. Already diminished by the necessity of pretending what everybody knows to be false, i.e. that all nine candidates are equally deserving of being taken seriously in the context of a presidential race, the actual contenders risk resembling people who take handmade signs emblazoned with network call letters to the ballpark hoping to appear on TV. Watching Woodruff parade back and forth, I half expected to see Howard Dean or John Kerry whip out cell phones and begin waving maniacally to some pal in a bar who couldn’t get tickets.

More seriously, what Bill Clinton and anybody else who qualifies as a Democratic senior statesman needs to do is persuade the following four candidates to drop the ego trip for the sake of the party: Dennis Kucinich, Carol Mosely-Braun, Al Sharpton and John Edwards. Doing so publicly might become necessary. None has any chance whatsoever to become the nominee. Their participation only distracts attention from the candidates who do, and contributes to the air of solemn fakery that made last week’s CNN extravaganza both tedious and faintly embar-rassing. They should endorse somebody soon and go away. Say what you will about the Republicans: it’s hard to fault their TV production values. You’ll never see a nine candidate GOP debate.

Now me, I’d also tell Joe Lieberman to take a hike. But only a sound drubbing at the polls seems apt to get his attention. Meanwhile, the very real danger the party appears to be sleepwalking into is that with almost all the Democratic primary contests concentrated into a period of fewer than six weeks between late January and early March 2004, the strong possibility exists of a deadlocked convention--the very problem the early primaries were set up to avoid. Facing a well-financed and politically ruthless Republican machine, the Democrats hoped to give their candidate an early running start.

Besides the foreshortened primary schedule, making less efficient the normal winnowing process as candidates like Lieberman and Edwards are forced to face political reality, two additional factors make gridlock likely: an October 10 Gallup poll showing Clark narrowly leading with the support of 21 percent of registered Democrats, Dean with 16 percent, Kerry and Lieberman with 13 percent each, and Gephardt with 8 percent. The results are skewed regionally, with the three New Englanders drawing little support in the South. (Clark leads in all regions.) Secondly, convention delegates are selected proportionally in all fifty states to candidates winning more than 15 percent of the votes.

If the primaries took place simultaneously tomorrow, in short, the likelihood of any candidate securing a majority of the 4318 delegate votes needed to secure the presidential nomination would be small. (Of the total, 798 are “super delegates” appointed by party elders; giving Bill Clinton, interestingly, a bigger role than the average ex-president.) Fixated upon their ritualized starring roles in New Hampshire and Iowa, Washington media savants haven’t grasped how rule changes may have changed the game. But come the July convention, the nation could be in for one hell of a TV show.

Posted by Tom at 3:37 p.m. CDTComment

IRAQ WAR MAKES US ALL LESS SAFE 10-15-03

War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report.

The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the war on terror were"over-confident."

The report, widely considered an authoritative text on the military capabilities of states and militant groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction effort that has followed in Iraq.

Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the country from"ripening into a cause celebre for radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded."Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might require more troops than initially planned.

Yep. That's what I said would happen, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 3:31 p.m. CDTComment

OH YEAH, POWELL LIED 10-15-03

Isn't it astonishing when it takes the media eight months to figure out something that was rather obvious at the time?

If you recall, I've spent a great deal of space on this blog talking about Powell's presentation (most recent blog entries here and here) as the turning point moment in the whole run-up to the war. Americans believed Powell and therefore supported the war. Americans, like the O.J. jury, were looking for an excuse to believe and Powell's presentation gave them that excuse.

However, obviously, the whole presentation was bogus. As I've said before, Powell's presentation may be one of the lowest points in the diplomatic history of the United States. The Secretary of State went before the U.N. and knowingly lied to the international community.

But the worst part is that it really wasn't that hard to figure out that Powell's presentation was bogus all the way back in February. Unfortunately, most Americans couldn't be bothered to fact-check the administration.

I've always wondered how all those conservative readers of mine who sent me gloating e-mails back in February feel about all of this now. I suspect they've stopped reading me by now. I'm sure much of what I say is way too uncomfortable for them. After all, I turned out to be right about damn-near everything I said about the bogus case for war and what the aftermath of the war would be like. And, if you recall, I kept saying"I hope I'm wrong" (and I did) but, unfortunately, I haven't been.

But, hey, if you're still out there guys, why don't you let me know how you feel about this now? How does it feel to find out your party's president and his administration lied to us and led us into a war based on lies?

You guys were all so certain about everything back in February and March -- and then, as the whole thing began to unravel, I stopped hearing from you. Have you all left? Am I preaching to the choir now?

I'm serious. Use the comment boards. I'm quite interested to hear how you're all dealing with this.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:34 a.m. CDTComment

YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR THIS 10-14-03

to believe it. How about the practice of requiring a monthly bribe from an Iraqi company merely to allow them access to the crumbs that fall from the table after the U.S. companies are finished gobbling up the reconstruction dollars?

This is pretty shocking stuff folks. You also ought to hear the belligerent and insensitive way this loudmouthed American businessman talks to this wealthy Iraqi fellow.

I'm not even quite sure what to say about this. I find the whole thing quite offensive.

I found this link over at Talking Points Memo. Josh has got a bunch of good stuff up over there.

It's been a long and tough day at work folks. I just got finished. I'm beat.

Hopefully I'll have more time to blog tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 10:20 p.m. CDTComment

THE UNPRECEDENTED MIDTERM GERRYMANDERING... 10-14-03

in Texas has been completed.

Do Republicans have no shame?

Posted by Tom at 3:39 p.m. CDTComment

BUSY DAY 10-14-03

Go read this.

Posted by Tom at 10:58 a.m. CDTComment

LET ME SECOND... 10-13-03

Josh's book recommendation for Columbus Day.

One of my minor fields on my doctorate was in Latin American history. I worked with Jeff Gould and Peter Guardino at Indiana. I became somewhat fascinated with the Mexican Revolution as well and read many fantastic books on that as well. I spent a whole day in my Foreign Relations class a couple of weeks ago talking about Wilson and the Mexican Revolution.

Anyway, Bernal Diaz's The Conquest of New Spain was one of my favorite books as well. It's a fascinating story of cultural conflict.

Posted by Tom at 9:18 p.m. CDTComment

INTERNET SOCK PUPPET UPDATE 10-13-03

It appears that Michael Bellesiles, apparently desiring to keep up with his fellow disgraced gun researcher John Lott, also seems to have created an internet sock puppet. This internet sock puppet posts here at HNN and his name is"Benny Smith."

Meanwhile, even though his diehard supporters such as Clayton Cramer remain in their damn-near pathological state of denial, Lott's reputation takes another major beating in this article by Chris Mooney in Mother Jones. This article is quite devastating. You should read it.

And while we're at it, you should read the rather lame"it's all too complicated for me" defense of Lott by Cramer here.

I won't even tell you how hilarious it is to hear Cramer call someone like Saul Cornell a"partisan." If that isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I haven't seen one.

And, despite Cramer's rather obnoxious delusions of grandeur, he really isn't the one who brought Bellesiles down. The WMQ article and the independent inquiry by Emory did. It is good that critics of Bellesiles were persistent, I won't deny that. However, ultimately it was the academic inquiries that brought Bellesiles down.

And, despite his rather prominent fits of pique to the contrary on this website, the Bellesiles case ultimately demonstrates that the historical profession can police itself. The same can't be said of certain ideologically-driven think tanks that support certain other prominent gun researchers I'm afraid.

BTW, why doesn't Cramer support an inquiry of Lott? If his hero Lott's data backs up his conclusions, he'll be exonerated, right?

[Links via Ralph Luker and Tim Lambert]

Posted by Tom at 11:03 a.m. CDTComment

A COUPLE OF LINKS 10-13-03

You should read this editorial about Dick Cheney from Joe Klein. Here's the money quote:

Indeed, Cheney has assumed the role that powerful National Security Advisers like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski played in the past. He has been the President's closest foreign-policy confidant. He has not merely coordinated policy, he has conceptualized it. Rumsfeld's outburst obscured the most important question raised by the President's apparent decision to give Condoleezza Rice a more prominent role in Iraq policy: Does this mean that the President is finally turning away from the Vice President?

If so, it certainly is about time. Bush's speech last week was part of an aggressive public relations effort to spread the news that things aren't so bad in Iraq—a sure sign that things aren't so good. The American military has done wonders in restoring order and building civil society in the north and south of the country. But the Sunni triangle festers, and we are one strategically placed truck bomb—or coordinated sequence of bombs—away from disaster. This sort of uncertainty should be a revelation to the Vice President. His worldview is a simple one, bereft of even the neoconservative romance with exporting democracy. He believes that America has the power to create the world it wants—whether that means going it alone in Iraq, putting Ahmed Chalabi in power there or pretending that Yasser Arafat is not the Palestinian leader. These miscalculations have diminished America's military strength, its position in the world and perhaps its national security. Cheney has all the qualities this President admires. Cheney is tough, discreet, secure in his judgments—but he has been wrong too often, and now George W. Bush must decide what he wants to do about that.

You also should take a look at this quite humorous Tom Tomorrow comic. It's quite good.

Posted by Tom at 8:49 a.m. CDTComment

AND A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL 10-12-03

I think I've mentioned before that I went to Mizzou for my master's. (As you probably know, I went to Indiana for my PhD.) I actually sat on the 40 yard line for the infamous"Fifth Down" game against Colorado in 1990.

Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mizzou take Nebraska apart last night. After having that unforgettable heartbreaking loss back in 1997 on that kicked ball, this was especially nice.

And Mizzou could've scored again if they wanted to -- they were getting ten yards a pop against that supposedly number 1 ranked defense in the nation on that last series. I must admit to wanting them to hang 50 on NU. However, they simply decided not to do so. They showed more class in that one decision than Nebraska did in the last two and a half decades' worth of running the score up into the 60s and 70s to pad their high rankings in the polls.

Needless to say, I enjoyed it a great deal.

Posted by Tom at 1:16 p.m. CDTComment

BUT WE DIDN'T MEAN TO! 10-12-03

Can you believe W and the boys are trying this lame line of defense:

Administration sources said they believe that the officials who discussed Plame were not trying to expose her, but were using the information as a tool to try to persuade reporters to ignore Wilson. The officials wanted to convince the reporters that he had benefited from nepotism in being chosen for the mission.
Now, isn't that outrageous? You didn't really mean to expose her? As if dropping this little revelation in the middle of a larger campaign to smear Ambassador Wilson somehow makes it okay? Are you kidding me?

Can you imagine what Republicans would be saying if Clinton administration officials were trying something this flimsy after one of them committed treason by outting an undercover CIA operative? How much of Tom DeLay's slobber would they be mopping up off the floor over at the Faux studios by now do you think?

This new line of defense, I guess, is a modification of the"stupidity defense" trial balloon put out earlier this week by Republican media sycophant Mikey Isikoff.

BTW, as we all expected, the WaPo exposes Isikoff as the great journalistic fraud that he is.

Yep. These two"senior administration officials" called six reporters offering this little detail up. This story wasn't the result of a mistake on some source's fault at all. Of course, if Mikey actually read the WaPo occasionally he'd know that. It's time to quit making stuff up to protect your heroes Mikey.

You should read both the WaPo story and Josh's parsing of it. You also ought to read Billmon's post about it as well. You can then consider youself brought up to speed on the latest developments in this scandal.

Posted by Tom at 12:10 p.m. CDTComment

THE FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY... 10-11-03

of W and the boys is just breathtaking, isn't it?

And the ratio of taxes to the size of the overall economy is at the lowest in 44 years. And, at the same time, the economy still isn't growing very much.

That should put the nail in the coffin of trickle-down supply-side economics, shouldn't it?

Shouldn't it?

Posted by Tom at 4:49 p.m. CDTComment

IN THE COMPANY OF ALDRICH AMES 10-11-03

Boy, how's this for a revelation:

Plame was one of a group of spies that the CIA suspected, but wasn’t sure, might have been compromised by Aldrich Ames. Because of that, she was brought back stateside for her own protection, though she continued to work as a NOC.

So, yes, there were some potential problems with Plame’s cover: not because her status wasn’t a serious matter or a closely guard secret, but because it had quite possibly already been a casualty of Ames’ treason.

In other words, you might say that Plame’s cover has been under attack for more than a decade. Those two ‘senior administration officials’ just finished the job that Rick Ames --- one of the arch-traitors of American history --- started.

Nice company.

So the creeps in the White House have just done one of the things that Aldrich Ames was convicted and sent to jail for the rest of his life for doing.

How's that for an eye opener?

This tells you just how serious this is, doesn't it?

Can W really continue to condone treason?

Surely not, right?

Posted by Tom at 12:58 p.m. CDTComment

WHY A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IS NECESSARY 10-10-03

Here's a good editorial explaining why a special prosecutor is necessary for the Wilson-Plame scandal.

As for this weekend, I'll be doing my three hours of soccer tomorrow and my in-laws are in town visiting.

I'll blog tomorrow at some point. I'm just not sure when.

Posted by Tom at 9:34 p.m. CDTComment

JOSH WAS APPARENTLY RIGHT 10-10-03

It appears that the White House is now trying to argue that Rove, Libby and Abrams didn't do anything wrong because Plame's name wasn't" classified information." This is big folks.

QUESTION: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MCCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

QUESTION: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MCCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

QUESTION: They were not involved in what?

MCCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information.

QUESTION: Did you undertake that of your own volition, or were you instructed to go to these --

MCCLELLAN: I spoke to those individuals myself.

So Josh was right. I think we've found our culprits now. The White House is trying to protect Rove, Libby and Abrams by using this"not classified information" dodge.

This is a bombshell.

Now watch the SCLM bury it.

Posted by Tom at 2:37 p.m. CDTComment

TELLING LIES ABOUT IRAQ AND 9/11 IS A HARD HABIT TO BREAK 10-10-03

Dick Cheney just can't help himself, can he?

The vice president said, “The ultimate nightmare could bring devastation to our country on as scale we have never experienced.”

“Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in a single day of war,” Cheney said.

“Remember what we saw on the morning of 9-11. And knowing the nature of these enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government,” Cheney said. “We must do everything in our power to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.”

My goodness. You'd think they'd have stopped peddling this long ago discredited pap by now, wouldn't you?

Posted by Tom at 2:19 p.m. CDTComment

MORE ON CIVILITY 10-10-03

Krugman's internet stalker, Donald Luskin, makes a fool of himself yet again today. He claims that Atrios is uncivil towards him and whines about it. This from the guy who recently described meeting Krugman as coming"face to face with evil." Holy Cow! What hypocrisy!

Why the NRO pays this ignoramus to spout off about Krugman's columns I'll never know. Apparently my undergraduate minor in economics and a couple of graduate courses in it provide me with enough knowledge in economics to understand Krugman's columns.

The same can't be said for Luskin unfortunately.

Posted by Tom at 2:15 p.m. CDTComment

BOB NOVAK'S NOSE IS GROWING 10-10-03

Josh has got the story here.

Posted by Tom at 10:16 a.m. CDTComment

CIVILITY -- FOR REPUBLICANS ONLY 10-10-03

Paul Krugman takes onDavid Brooks. He says a lot of things that needed to be said.

Read the whole thing but here's the"money quote" for me:

But there's more going on than a simple attempt to impose a double standard. All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used deceptive accounting to ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even the most sober observers now talk starkly about the risk to our solvency. It's impolite to say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

On the foreign policy front, this administration hyped the threat from Iraq, ignoring warnings from military professionals that a prolonged postwar occupation would tie down much of our Army and undermine our military readiness. (Joseph Galloway, co-author of"We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young," says that"we have perhaps the finest Army in history," but that"Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.") It's impolite to say that Mr. Bush has damaged our national security with his military adventurism, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character — his"honor and integrity" — so central to its political strategy. Nor has any previous administration been so determined to portray the president as a hero, going so far as to pose him in line with the heads on Mount Rushmore, or arrange that landing on the aircraft carrier. Surely, then, Mr. Bush's critics have the right to point out that the life story of the man inside the flight suit isn't particularly heroic — that he has never taken a risk or made a sacrifice for the sake of his country, and that his business career is a story of murky deals and insider privilege.

In the months after 9/11, a shocked nation wanted to believe the best of its leader, and Mr. Bush was treated with reverence. But he abused the trust placed in him, pushing a partisan agenda that has left the nation weakened and divided. Yes, I know that's a rude thing to say. But it's also the truth.

In-damn-deed.

Posted by Tom at 10:09 a.m. CDTComment

IS RUMMY ON THE WAY OUT? 10-10-03

Is Rumsfeld finally on the way out? Listen to this passage from a CNN story:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld canceled a news conference Thursday in part to avoid questions about whether the White House recently reduced his role in Iraq's reconstruction, Pentagon and NATO officials said.

The White House said Monday it is creating an Iraq Stabilization Group to be headed by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The group will be responsible for handling the day-to-day administration of Iraq, a task previously handled by the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld was scheduled to brief reporters at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Colorado. He was questioned at Wednesday's NATO press briefing about his relationship with Rice, a memo she circulated establishing the new Iraq Stabilization Group, and whether he was"in the loop."

The defense secretary has"said everything he has to say about it," Pentagon officials said.

Is this sort of treatment a sign that Rumsfeld is finally going to get canned? If so, it's only about two years too late. There has been speculation Rummy was on the way out before 9/11 and that it saved his job.

We'll see.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:17 a.m. CDTComment

RUSH LIMBAUGH UPDATE 10-09-03

It does appear that the Oxycontin abuse led to Rush's deafness. As I said a week ago, that's pathetic.

Art Silber has the update.

BTW, doctors say you really can take 30 Oxycontin a day and still function. It is hard to believe but I'll take their word for it.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 p.m. CDTComment

AMPLIFYING THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE 10-09-03

Josh's column at The Hill yesterday is quite good and makes an excellent point that deserves further, well, amplification.

Josh points out the obvious point that the president could be doing more to out the leakers and that it's reaching theatre of the absurd:

According to late news reports, the Justice Department’s investigation is looking at hundreds of people in the White House and perhaps still more hundreds at the State and Defense departments. White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee marvels that they’re looking at “almost 2,000 people.”

Yet all the available evidence tells us that the range of possible suspects is no more than a couple dozen people. It’s like investigating a robbery by deposing every resident of the city.

Yet the real interesting point is that the President is using the spin that this is about"leaks of classified information" (instead of the illegal and security-endangering outing of a CIA agent by an administration official close in W's inner circle) to continue to frighten folks in the CIA who might speak up about the administration's creative and selective use of intelligence in making the case for war with Iraq:

From the beginning, the White House has pursued a conscious policy of changing the subject from one of blowing Plame’s cover to one of opposition to all “leaks of classified information” — something this White House has been after Congress about for almost two years.

Go back and look at transcripts from the president and his press secretary, Scott McClellan, and you’ll see that that’s always the phrasing they use.

What’s the point of this? On the one hand, it produces sound bites about something general and vague — leaks — rather than something petty and despicable — blowing the cover of one of our own clandestine hunters of weapons of mass destruction for political gain. But there’s much more to it.

People who follow national security and intelligence issues have been waiting for months to see whether disgruntled bureaucrats at the Pentagon, State or the CIA would start going to the press with uncomfortable stories about things the administration did leading up to the war. The White House has been wondering, too.

Some of those leaks might involve classified information. Even if they don’t, they might come close enough to the line to scare off some midlevel bureaucrat with children and a mortgage.

By making the issue any and all leaks of classified information, the White House is sending a message that anyone interested in causing the White House more trouble should be very scared indeed. Bush made the point explicitly Monday, telling reporters that the investigation “will help set a clear signal we expect other leaks to stop as well.”

Again, what do we have here? There were apparently two overlapping motives for outing Plame: to get back at a career civil servant for embarrassing the White House and to warn others off doing anything similar.

Now the investigation into that bad act is being used to amplify the original message.

It all comes down to the same thing. Bush says he wants to find the culprits, but he’s done none of the things he could do to accomplish those ends easily. His priority is beating up on the victims of the White House’s initial bad acts (Wilson and Plame) and using the current investigation to help make sure everyone else keeps quiet.

Creepy, eh? W and the boys are using this investigation to intimidate other intelligence agents into keep their mouths shut. That's twisted, isn't it? This is an investigation into their own malfeasance -- but they're using it to frighten other folks away from telling the truth.

These guys really are a great bunch, huh?

I'm beginning to wonder if our country could honestly survive another four years with these guys in charge.

Posted by Tom at 8:24 p.m. CDTComment

THE STUPIDITY DEFENSE 10-09-03

More on administration shill Michael Isikoff's"stupidity defense" from Mark Kleiman and Arthur Silber.

I have to second what Art says here. You have to be appallingly stupid to think that claiming you're stupid is a good defense. It does make you wonder just how bad things really are for them if they're resorting to this already.

I don't think Isikoff's trial balloon from the administration is going over very well.

Posted by Tom at 12:36 p.m. CDTComment

NOW LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT 10-09-03

Administration officials leaking the identity of a CIA operative, therefore endangering national security and putting several people's lives at risk was a"goof" and just part of hardball politics?

All of this from the same silly dipshit who believed that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was worth creating a constitutional crisis over?

You're kidding, right?

Oh and you've got to read this one folks. This entire article is comprised entirely of pro-administration spin based around a rather major factual error by Isikoff (an excellent catch by Atrios here).

No, Mikey. Novak wasn't the only one called before his column ran -- six different people were. This wasn't an error on the part of the source for the first WaPo article, no matter how much you might like it to be so. It has since been confirmed by multiple media sources -- including the WaPo here.

Nice try though.

Now, why the hell does Isikoff still have a job?

Posted by Tom at 9:43 a.m. CDTComment

IS THE WHITE HOUSE LYING ABOUT LIBBY AND ABRAMS? 10-08-03

I think Josh may be on to something here:

That makes me wonder just how air-tight McClellan’s statement is. What he said was that “They [i.e., Libby and Abrams] were not involved in leaking classified information, nor did they condone it.”

Now presumably Plame’s identity was classified information. But why frame this denial is such a precise, lawyerly and frankly off-point fashion? Why not just say they told no one about Plame’s identity. Or even just, they did not disclose the identity of any agent from the Directorate of Operations?

Good question. Why the peculiar phrasing? Are they getting so desperate that they're telling baldfaced lies hoping this will all go away?

Posted by Tom at 8:49 p.m. CDTComment

A BIT OF VENTING... 10-08-03

from John Scalzi. Sometimes it's good for the soul folks. Here are a few select bits:

First: Californians, boy, did you ever get played, you dumb-ass losers. This was, at its root, one of the most flagrantly un-democratic (small"d") elections in the history of the United States, and you followed the script as if you were giggling, squealing paid extras. The recall was bought and paid for by one guy and orchestrated by a few zealots with an extremely narrow agenda, and both these parties were more than happy to push your emotional buttons to get you to do what they wanted you to do, which was boot the current and conventionally-elected office-holder for a chance to install someone more amenable to their own interests. Florida 2000 paranoids aside, this is the closest thing to a coup we've had in the country, and you swallowed it like it was a tasty treat. It's sickening, really.

...

Admittedly, at this moment conservative Republicans are the people who are apparently the most inclined to piss on the election process, which is a culmination of a couple of decades of incestuous intellectual fermentation resulting in an insensate desire for power at nearly any cost. But in their time, Democrats have been more than happy to pull equally undemocratic tricks for their advantage. This recall election is a kissing cousin to a poll tax: Both ostensibly legal (in their time and place), but both designed to skew and corrupt the election process for a select group over others.

...

So, to wrap things up: If you voted for the recall, you might have thought you were voting to boot Gray Davis out of office. But that's because you're a moron, easily distracted by sparkly lights and shiny objects. You were really voting to let small, inherently undemocratic groups run your state all the time, forever. The fact that you thought you were doing the former when in fact you were doing the latter suggests that you would have been more helpful in the governance of your state by hurling yourself off the Golden Gate Bridge and smacking into the bay below with a nice, bone-powdering swack. In addition to clearing out four million bottom-feeders from an already-overpopulated state, California might still have a government still nominally beholden to voters, instead of through special-interest control by mob rule proxy. Good job.

Go read the rest of it.

[Link via ,CalPundit]

Posted by Tom at 1:30 p.m. CDTComment

SO MUCH FOR THE RECALL BEING A NEW POLITICAL STORY
10-08-03

Voter turnout in California was actually lower than last November. It also was the same old story: Republicans turned out and voted for their guy, Independents voted for the recall and Arnold, and Democrats, as in 2002, just stayed home. No real news here folks.

Therefore, folks, this election means little or nothing about some sort of sea change in politics in California or elsewhere. It's just another low turnout off-year election in a state that one side managed to win by charging up their troops.

So, in short, don't be discouraged. This recall thing meant little or nothing nationally. It demonstrated the anger that Republicans and Independents feel about the situation in California but little else.

And, by the way, according to recent polls independent voters nationwide have the same levels of anger towards George W. Bush right now that they had toward Gray Davis in California.

I also don't share the belief that this whole thing was terrible for Democrats. Now Arnie has to solve California's problems. His first plan is to repeal the car tax which will blow a great big deficit hole in the state's budget that he's going to have to come up with a plan to fill. Early indications are not promising that he'll have any sort of realistic plan.

Arnie also ran for office saying that he wasn't really a Republican, so this doesn't exactly reveal any new support for the Republican agenda. If anything, it shows that Republicans need to moderate their message if they're going to win in California. I also wouldn't look for Arnie to associate with W and the boys anytime soon -- at least if he wants to remain a popular governor.

I still think ultimately that this recall will turn out to have been a mistake -- but we'll have to wait and see on that.

Terry has got an excellent commentary on the recall as well.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 a.m. CDTComment

NOPE 10-08-03

Krugman didn't win the Nobel.

However, my congrats to Robert F. Engle and Clive Granger for winning the Nobel Prize in Economics this year.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 a.m. CDTComment

VALERIE PLAME, THE SPY NEXT DOOR 10-08-03

You really should read this fascinating profile of Valerie Plame.

Plame was not a minor operative:

Her activities during her years overseas remain classified, but she became the creme de la creme of spies: a"noc," an officer with"nonofficial cover." Nocs have cover jobs that have nothing to do with the U.S. government. They work in business, in social clubs, as scientists or secretaries (they are prohibited from posing as journalists), and if detected or arrested by a foreign government, they do not have diplomatic protection and rights. They are on their own. Even their fellow operatives don't know who they are, and only the strongest and smartest are picked for these assignments.
Bob Novak now officially looks like a moron for claiming she was some garden variety analyst. Plame's mother puts it quite succinctly:

We've been very proud of her -- no question," she added. Diane Plame and her husband, who is 83 and a World War II veteran, are"very angry" about the disclosure and fearful for their daughter's safety.

"They spoiled it. They more than spoiled it -- they brought a lot of harm," Diane Plame said, referring to the leakers and to Novak."For people to come out and say this would cause no harm, what kind of IQs do they have?"

And CIA agents are not amused by this betrayal of a career intelligence agent:

The outing has sparked a furor in the intelligence community, with some saying they feel betrayed by their government.

"We feel like the peasants with torches and pitchforks," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who was in Plame's officer training class in 1985-86."The robber barons aren't going to be allowed to get away with this."

All of the Republican excuses on this one are falling apart one by one, aren't they?

No matter what the White House wants, this one isn't going away. And the more I read about this scandal, the more it seems likely that the White House has already told some lies about it already.

The fact that W and the boys have already tried to rule three of the most likely candidates out of it (Rove and Libby are two of them) sounds like a lot of wishful thinking to me.

I suspect it's about to get even more interesting -- especially if the White House keeps up the charade that there's no way for us to find out who the leaker was.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Tom at 9:25 a.m. CDTComment

MY GOODNESS 10-07-03

Explain to me who in their right mind would elect an actor with no political experience, who ran a campaign that had essentially no real ideas behind it, and who looked terrible on several occasions in response to several very serious allegations?

I'm astonished. I'm afraid California is going to get exactly what it deserves. I expect it will be a comedy of errors for months on end in Sacramento. I think this will backfire on Republicans bigtime. Of course, I've been saying that for months.

And, when things seem to be at their darkest, that's when I expect Arnie to screw up and grope somebody in Sacramento.

As always, we'll see.

Posted by Tom at 10:16 p.m. CDTComment

IS PAUL KRUGMAN GOING TO... 10-07-03

win the Nobel Prize for Economics tomorrow?

That would be cool, wouldn't it?

After all, Krugman's NYT column -- no matter how good it is -- is not his day job.

I'm told he's pretty good at that economics stuff too.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 9:45 p.m. CDTComment

I DON'T KNOW FOLKS... 10-07-03

but this sounds like a lie to me. W claims he has no idea who the leaker is. However, how does he know it's a"senior administration official?"

And, if he really doesn't know, I remind you that the only reason he doesn't know is because he refuses to ask them.

Aren't you getting tired of this charade? It's not hundreds or thousands of people folks, the number is under ten yet W refuses to ask them about it.

Why not?

Posted by Tom at 12:57 p.m. CDTComment

HOW NIXONIAN OF YOU, MR. PRESIDENT 10-07-03

This is astonishing:

White House lawyers will review phone logs and other records supplied by presidential aides before turning the documents over to the Justice Department officials conducting the investigation into who leaked a CIA undercover operative's identity, officials said Monday.

The disclosure inspired new Democratic calls for an independent inquiry.

"To allow the White House counsel to review records before the prosecutors would see them is just about unheard of in the way cases are always prosecuted," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on NBC's Today show."And the possibility of mischief, or worse than mischief, is very, very large."

Administration officials said the White House counsel's office may need up to two weeks to organize documents that some 2,000 employees are required to submit by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The documents must also be reviewed for national security or executive privilege concerns and to ensure the filings are responsive to Justice Department requests for information, White House aides said. The department is investigating whether Bush administration officials exposed a CIA operative's identity to reporters and a columnist, Robert Novak.

Yep. It's definitely time for an independent counsel now. This is creepy.

I hope that Gonzales isn't destroying evidence -- but there's really no way to tell, is there?

Don't you love the timing on this? They've waited until everything will be drowned out by the idiocy of the California recall and then announced they're reviewing the documents before handing them over.

And you won't hear a damned thing about it from the media because it's Arnis day.

[Link via Mark Kleiman]

Update:Here's Mark's Plamesville Update for today as well.

BTW, I'm certain this is about Karl Rove now.

Posted by Tom at 9:05 a.m. CDTComment

PLAMESVILLE UPDATE 10-06-03

Mark Kleiman's latest Plamesville Update is here. As usual, the Plamesville Update page is the best place to get up-to-date news on the Wilson-Plame scandal. Here's a juicy passage to entice you to click the link:

Maybe Rove kept this from the President, and from the rest of the senior staff, but there's now no way to say with a straight face that at least one person at the very top of the White House knew about this more than ten weeks before the sudden decision -- after the Justice Department's investigation had forced the matter onto the front page -- to"get to the bottom of this."

Constructing an innocent explanation for that long delay is not going to be an easy task. The President has a Constitutional duty to"take care that the laws be faithfully executed," which presumably includes trying to root out wrongdoing in his immediate official family rather than standing passively by as they cover it up.

His best defense seems to be that his reliance on staff (the people Machiavelli calls"flatterers") for all his information has so cordoned him off from reality that he really didn't know. [*] That might keep him out of jail, but it's not a very good argument for his re-election.

I just added Open Source Politics (the website that houses the Plamesville Update and is becoming a very popular blog in its own right) to the"News Sources" section of my blogroll. I've been meaning to do so since they've had me on their blogroll for a while now.

In other blogroll news, after recovering from my fit of pique, I have returned Daily Kos to its proper place on my blogroll.

I'm still pretty pissed I got dropped from Kos's blogroll without so much as a courtesy e-mail but, what the hell, Kos's blog is just too good to leave off.

To readers who kept writing e-mail to me about this, I apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

Posted by Tom at 9:34 p.m. CDTComment

REMEMBER TEXAS REDISTRICTING? 10-06-03

The comedy hasn't stopped in Texas, even after the Democrats went back to Austin. Even with a majority in both houses of the Texas lege, Republicans still can't agree on a redistricting map for their unprecedented power grab.

Is the Republican Party going to reimburse the state for the multiple special sessions?

At this point I really think they should. I'm sure W's got the cash. Send him a bill.

Posted by Tom at 7:18 p.m. CDTComment

THE REPUBLICAN DISTRACTION MACHINE SHIFTS INTO HIGH GEAR 10-06-03

Ah, Republican obfuscation. Isn't it impressive?

Except that this scandal doesn't have anything to do with Wilson anymore folks. Josh gets it just about right:

We now have the farcical spectacle of the Justice Department initiating a massive investigation --- with the net thrown almost comically wide --- in order to find out what the president could find out in a few hours, tops.

That's the whole story right there.

The president has said he wants to get to the bottom of this. Yet he has done nothing to get to the bottom of it. The only credible explanation is the obvious one: that he doesn't want to get to the bottom of it.

Whether the Justice Department can find the culprits on its own is an interesting legal chess game. But no more.

The president's lieutenants did this. Rather than trying to punish them, he's trying to protect them. The only thing the White House has been aggressive about is attacking the victims of its own bad-acts: Wilson and Plame.

These simple --- and I think indisputable --- facts tell you all you need to know about what's happening here.

Indeed. Of course part of the problem Josh is that there are people in the media who want to be led astray like this. They want, consciously or not, to protect W and the boys.

Furthermore, it's not just that the media is falling for the obfuscation campaign, some of them are willingly and consciously playing the role the White House wants them to play. Folks like Novak, Safire, and Howie are the most obvious administration shills at the present moment.

Posted by Tom at 10:26 a.m. CDTComment

CLAYTON CRAMER, TRUE BELIEVER 10-05-03

Goodness. I was worried that Clayton Cramer would open his yap about the Lott affair and reveal himself to be incapable of seeing the shortcomings of John Lott. Unfortunately, I was exactly right. Cramer so clearly believes that Lott walks on water after all. As is usually the case, Tim Lambert has the story.

Here's Tim's penultimate paragraph:

The shortcomings that Cramer complains about are only shortcomings if the data was used for another task, something that Donohue did not do. Cramer’s post was clearly misleading, using an out-of-context quote to imply that Donohue did something that he did not do. Using Cramer’s reasoning he is now no position to throw stones at, say, Bellesiles.
Go read the whole post to understand how Lambert reaches this conclusion. Of course, it's also possible that Cramer simply didn't understand what Donohue was doing -- but I doubt it. It's a misleading post folks.

Just for your amusement, I'll also share with you an excerpt of an e-mail Cramer sent to Tim Lambert that reveals a great deal:

I don’t know if you actually found Dr. Lott engaged in a lie or not, but I do know that your irrational desire to see victims disarmed and murdered by criminals puts you on my list of people not to bother with anymore.
How's that for a reasoned intellectual response? That's so out there I don't even know where to start. So critics of Lott are irrational and want people to be murdered by criminals, huh?

Holy cow. I don't even know where to start on that one.

I think it's safe to say that Cramer long ago crossed the line between reason and emotion regarding his view of John Lott's situation. Like any true believer, he simply can't believe the truth right in front of him. Like Bellesiles, Cramer's hero is a fraud and he can't accept it.

Most true believers usually can't see the truth about their heroes after all. Sometimes you wonder if Cramer realizes the irony of his being in exactly the same situation that defenders of Bellesiles were in a year or so ago.

I doubt it.

Posted by Tom at 2:21 p.m. CDTComment

THE PARTY OF MORAL BANKRUPTCY 10-05-03

Fifteen women have now come forward to say that Arnie has groped them. I'm detecting a pattern of behavior here, aren't you?

Oh yeah. That's right. This is only a big deal if you're a Democrat. In fact, then unsubstantiated rumors that were never proven are still stated as if they were fact. In this case, you've got 15 women on the record claiming he did this. Anyone noting a bit of hypocrisy here on the part of the GOP? Remember all the unsubstantiated rumors they peddled about Clinton? And now they apparently don't care at all about these numerous stories about Arnold?

All of this is leading to quite a softening in support for the recall apparently. That's not a real big surprise is it? If Arnie wins, it's only a matter of time before he harasses someone as governor. Now that would be embarrassing, wouldn't it? However, I'm inreasingly certain that the same number of Republican lapdogs would defend him in that instance as well.

Also, aren't you getting just a wee bit offended by the GOP's effort to blame the victim? Both Arnie in California and W and Rove in Washington are trying to blame their victims for everything. In W's case, this long ago stopped being about Wilson. It's about your administration's own conduct, Mr. President. I'd suggest, buddy, that you pretend like you give a damn or this really could bring your administration down around your ears.

Furthermore, David Corn's latest column points out that the White House didn't exactly fall all over themselves trying to find the leaker back in July at all. In fact, they continued to try and use it politically. As Atrios put it so succinctly earlier today:

The significance of David Corn's article is that if Rove and the Roverers weren't responsible for the original blowing of Plame's cover, but instead pushed the information onto reporters afterwards... Then the White House's response to hearing about the leak was not to investigate who the responsible party was, but rather to try and use that information to push their agenda. Bush should ask for Rove's head over this one, whether or not he did anything illegal.
I would agree. Rove has now done something unethical regardless of whether he was in on the first leak or not. Anyone want to bet on whether W will do that?

Isn't it amazing how the events of the last few months have proven that the folks in the GOP don't really mean a damn thing that they say? Just to use a few obvious examples, several recent stories prove that the GOP clearly doesn't really care about"family values," national security, making us safer from terrorism, or basic ethics at all. However, they still have the gall to continue to claim that they do.

I'm not even sure that the word"hypocrisy" quite covers what I'm seeing from the GOP lately. I think a phrase like"total moral bankruptcy" is probably closer to the truth.

After all their constant babble about moral certitude, the GOP as a party is obviously ethically and morally adrift. Republicans are becoming quite good at situational ethics these days, aren't they?

And, as is no surprise, the problem really starts at the top.

Posted by Tom at 1:20 p.m. CDTComment

YET AGAIN, IT'S TIME TO GIGGLE AT INSTY 10-04-03

As Roger Ailes (not the bald repulsive one) points out, it's time once again to laugh and point at Insty.

Sometimes he's such a predictable sycophant for W, it becomes quite comic.

Also, as this post proves for the umpteenth time, the only thing that is more predictable than his playing the lapdog for W is his hatred of the French.

Now why is it that people still read that guy?

Isn't it frightening that anytime the media wants to interview a blogger, he ends up speaking for all of us?

Posted by Tom at 8:16 p.m. CDTComment

SOUNDS LIKE THE BROWN SHIRTS TO ME 10-04-03

And this so soon after the story about Arnie's admiration of you-know-who:

The truth is available only on AM talk radio these days, and I think a couple of recruits in Arnold's Army did what they had to do. They spotted protest signs in the crowd and goose-stepped over to take care of business.

Not that they could have known, but the signs were carried by two Catholic nuns in their 60s. According to the nuns, their attackers snatched them away.

The silencing of dissent, coming just a day after Arnold denied reports that he once said he admired Hitler, had the nuns trembling.

"A sign was ripped from my hands," said Jo'Ann DeQuattro, a Holy Name sister whose sign said,"Groping Equals Sexual Harassment."

"I was assaulted physically," said Sister Jo'Ann.

She and Sister France White, of the Holy Child order, were headed for the exits when I saw them. Sister France had taped a sign to herself that said"Grope Free Zone." Sister Jo'Ann had her arm around Sister France to protect her.

Sister France said she gave a"groping" protest sign to a man who held a"Recall Arnold" sign, and watched as he was set upon and had the sign ripped away from him.

"People began fighting with him, and he was escorted out," said Sister France.

As for her own sign getting swiped, Sister France said:

"I believe a woman standing behind me grabbed it. A whole group of people were around us saying, 'Go home' and things like 'Get a life.'"

Sister France still had the"Grope Free Zone" sign taped to her when they decided to leave the rally, so Sister Jo'Ann suggested an exit strategy.

"She was afraid there was going to be more of it, so she said, 'We've gotta get out of here,' and walked behind me, real close behind, so Schwarzenegger followers wouldn't be hitting me as we left."

Impressive, eh?

[Link via Atrios]

These are the sort of folks who are supporting Arnie folks. As Mark Morford put it yesterday:

And Schwarzenegger's bouncing around like a Hummer on meth, inflicting that weird maniacal grin and massive blocklike head all over the unsuspecting media, as pretty much the entire population of even slightly aware and intelligent people in California and in fact all over the nation go, oh holy Christ, please dear God no.
Heh.

Posted by Tom at 4:14 p.m. CDTComment

PILING STUPID ON TOP OF STUPID 10-04-03

Now Bob Novak hasn't just blown Plame's cover he's also named the CIA front company she claimed to work for. Brilliant Bob. Just effing brilliant.

And why'd he do it? Well, so he could try to make the irrelevant argument that the Wilsons are partisan Democrats. This long ago stopped being Wilson, Bob you moron. This is about blowing an agent's cover and endangering national security on WMDs.

Quit trying to change the subject Bob. You're quickly revealing yourself to be the slimeball I thought you were.

Kevin, as usual, has a good point to make on this:

You know, a lot of conservatives are resisting the idea that the Plame affair is for real because it's just so far-fetched. Why would smart people like Karl Rove or Scooter Libby expose a CIA agent over something as trivial as Joe Wilson writing a New York Times op-ed? Especially when doing so didn't really do much to discredit him anyway?

Well, why would anyone feed Robert Novak information about a CIA front company just so that he can make the point on national TV that Valerie Plame is a Democrat? Is it really worth doing that just to add minutely to the Republican meme that this is all a partisan feud rather than a genuine national security matter?

Why indeed. The bottom line, I think, is that these guys just don't care. When it comes to dealing with enemies, they lash out with everything they've got no matter how trivial it is and no matter what collateral damage it might cause. There's just no sense of proportion at all.

I wonder what's going to be next from them?

Also, you really ought to read the Post article above. Isn't it hilarious how this administration pretends this is some enormous investigation that's taking all this time and effort away from governing? They act like it's an onerous task or something. (I guess they have conveniently forgotten the multiple large rooms worth of documents that Ken Starr demanded from Clinton's administration for his investigation of the pseudo scandals, haven't they?)

Contrary to what Republicans say, this is actually pretty simple folks. There are about nine or ten people tops who could be involved and the most likely names (Libby and Rove) are already known. They're all close to the president.

W should just call these folks in one by one and ask them,"did you leak Plame's identity?"

Why not?

After all, doesn't this involve a leak that potentially imperils national security? What's he afraid of?

Posted by Tom at 1:44 p.m. CDTComment

THIS IS EXTREMELY TACKY 10-03-03

Missouri Republican Sen. Kit Bond on Thursday fired his communications director for running a political Web site named for the tail number of a plane that crashed in 2000, killing the state's Democratic governor.

"The actions of a member of my staff in using official computers to make hurtful personal attacks on public servants were totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Bond said in a statement issued Thursday.

The staff member was Ernie Blazar, Bond's communications director the past three years. Bond aide Jason Van Eaton confirmed Thursday that Blazar had been fired.

The Web site had Republican-leaning commentary with links to political news and other Web sites. Blazar, using pseudonyms, apparently ran the site and e-mailed other political Web sites during working hours, and some of it was done on his Senate computer.

The site's title -- N8354N --"is not random," a note on the Web site read."It marks an inflection point in current Missouri politics. On that day, the worm began to turn." Content was removed from the site early Thursday morning.

The website, I'm happy to say, has already been taken down. But here's a google cache of it.

Boy, Republicans sure know how to find the gutter, don't they?

Posted by Tom at 6:59 p.m. CDTComment

TODAY'S UP-IS-DOWN-ISM 10-03-03

W says the war in Iraq was justified because Saddam was a threat to the U.S. according to the Kay report which demonstrates that, well, Saddam was no threat to the United States.

No WMDs -- but he was still somehow a threat to those of us over here. Right.

Here's my favorite part of W's furiously spinning speech:

He added,"Sometimes the American people like the decisions I make, sometimes they don't. But they need to know I make tough decisions, based upon what I think is right, given the intelligence I know, in order to do my job, which is to secure this country and to bring peace."
Translation:"Sometimes you like what we decide to do. Sometimes you don't. However, if you don't, you can just screw off. Hell, I know I'm right even though I haven't read the report I'm now commenting on!"

When W says something like this don't you want to respond like this: Do they have gravity on your planet?

Posted by Tom at 2:09 p.m. CDTComment

WSJ UNKNOWINGLY CUTS ITS OWN THROAT 10-03-03

Here's a good post from Josh:

In any case, getting into this bigger war won't help because it will only show that they pulled these sorts of shenanigans against their own intelligence agency because of the latter's inability to prove a White House hypothesis that turned out to be completely wrong. So rather than crime without context you have crime in the service of ideological zeal and self-deception.

One of the failings of ideologues is their inability to see that everyone else isn't necessarily an ideologue like them. So when the analysts at Langley didn't find evidence to support the White House's brainstorms, the folks at the White House assumed that the analysts were just Saddam-hugging ideologues rather than trained professionals --- albeit with their own very real biases and assumptions --- who were in most cases acting on their own inability to find any evidence to substantiate what the White House was so desperate to prove.

Breaking the law in one thing. But delving deeper is liable to show that the administration took the public's support for a war on terror, pocketed it, and then went to war against its own intelligence agencies and, in some cases, reality.

Go read the rest of it.

Posted by Tom at 12:23 p.m. CDTComment

PLAMESVILLE UPDATE 10-03-03

Mark A.R. Kleiman's Plamesville Update for today is now up.

Today's development is that Plame's job was not minor, in fact it was of the"most clandestine status" a CIA officer can have. That means that burning her really did compromise national security folks. That also means that the earlier"analyst versus operative" story of Bob Novak's is, as they say, no longer operative.

This is a rather major development, as Mark notes:

Cannistraro's revelation also robs the"slime and defend" approach of any logical point, though perhaps not of political effectiveness. As long as the facts about Plame's status was an open question, believing that a serious crime had been committed depended, in part, on believing that Wilson was more or less telling the truth.

But now we know, independently of anything Wilson says, that her identity was a real national-security secret and that two people close to the President revealed that secret. The identities of the criminals remain unknown to us, though not to some of the media organizations covering the story, but the fact of a serious crime committed by important officials can no longer be changed by anything anyone says, true or false, about Joseph Wilson.

This story was never about Wilson, and the attempt to make it a story about Wilson, rather than about high crimes in high places, was always a red herring. Anyone who raises Wilson as an issue now either doesn't understand the situation or is trying to change the subject.

Look for much more of what the White House and Republicans are saying about this scandal to be inoperative in the next few days or weeks.

It's getting good folks. Their lies are now starting to catch up with them and rather quickly. In this case, this little lie was exposed only a couple of days after it was first tried out.

Posted by Tom at 11:09 a.m. CDTComment

THE WHEELS ARE COMING OFF ARNIE'S CAMPAIGN 10-03-03

Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign is just imploding before our very eyes, isn't it? Candy Crowley's report this morning on CNN was quite hilarious. She asked Arnie over and over to explain how it was possible that:

1. Much of what is out there in the media is false.
2. However, you don't remember which parts are true and which parts are false.
3. Yet you have to apologize for being a"bad boy" for that stuff that you can't remember.

As Crowley said at the end of the report,"It's going to be a long four days."

The only question is whether these revelations and his disastrous performances under pressure are enough to derail Arnie at this late point. If this campaign were two or three weeks longer, I think Arnie would fade to third place or so.

One of my colleagues in the department wants Arnie to win. He believes it will be such an amazing embarrassment that it will further doom Republicans nationally next year as idiotic thing after idiotic thing that Arnie says gets national coverage.

I think my colleague may very well may be right.

As always, we'll see.

Posted by Tom at 10:38 a.m. CDTComment

FOR W, POLITICS COMES FIRST 10-03-03

Here's a link to Krugman's latest column. Go read it. (Check the little box if you want to leave this page open.) I'll wait.

Okay, you're back. Now folks I don't even know quite where to start here. Krugman is right in that this is what should have happened eleven weeks ago:

An outraged President Bush immediately demanded the names of those responsible for exposing Ms. Plame. He repeated his father's statement that"those who betray the trust by exposing the names of our sources" are"the most insidious of traitors." There are limits to politics, Mr. Bush declared; Mr. Wilson's decision to go public about his mission had embarrassed him, but that was no excuse for actions that were both felonious and unpatriotic.
But it didn't, did it? I'm sorry but it takes one hell of a sleazeball to ignore this and pretend it doesn't exist and then, when under pressure, to pretend this thing is all about"leaking classified information." No, W, you nimrod, it's not about leaking of classified information although I'm sure that's what the index card by your Fruit Loops yesterday told you to repeat over and over. It's about revealing a CIA agent's name. A CIA agent, I remind you, who was working on stopping the proliferation of WMDs. You know that stuff W and the boys told us was the reason for that little $221B war we're still fighting?

That's probably the worst part of all this. This scandal reveals to you the amoral (or is it immoral?) political nature of this administration. Politics comes before everything -- even patriotism and basic human decency. They don't give a shit if the act was bordering on treason, they'll"slime and defend" until it all goes away. This latest"leaking" spin on their part is the perfect example. As Atrios said a short while ago, the problem in Bush's opinion is not leaking, this White House leaks all the time, it's the leaks he doesn't like that are the problem.

Kevin has suggested that this"leaking spin" is coming right from the top and may be what Ashcroft uses to pretend there are too many candidates so the investigation is therefore impossible. As Kevin put it:

Granted, the conceivable universe of possible leakers may number in the hundreds, but surely we have considerable reason to believe that the actual universe of leakers is limited to about a dozen senior people in the White House? I'm all for making sure that every scrap of evidence is preserved, but I hope this isn't the start of a lame effort to drag this out and then pretend that it just wasn't possible to do an exhaustive investigation.
Folks, there are about 10 people who are candidates for having done this (Scooter Libby is currently the leading candidate). It's really not that hard. Subpoena the phone logs and figure it out.

As far as I'm concerned, you don't even have to tell us exactly who they called (although it probably won't be that hard to find out), but someone should be charged with a crime for this. This is far too serious.

As I've said already, the Wilson-Plame scandal really makes any of the Clinton pseudo-scandals look like a joke.

Let's ponder this -- a extramarital consensual blowjob versus the endangering of national security through compromising the CIA's WMD proliferation program.

Which do you think is more serious?

I'll bet I know the answer.

Posted by Tom at 8:16 a.m. CDTComment

PATHETIC 10-02-03

If Rush lost his hearing (scroll down and read updates 1 and 2) because of drug abuse, that's just pathetic. (I do apologize for the link to Right Wing News but, oh well, they've got the story.) Can you imagine how awful it would be to have done something like that to yourself?

I can't blast away at the man because drug abuse is tragic no matter who it is -- even a insensitive boorish right wing bigot like Rush Limbaugh. I just can't fathom the tragedy of having such a problem that you could do that to yourself.

If this story is true, I think it's time for Rush to check into rehab -- for several months.

Posted by Tom at 9:21 p.m. CDTComment

ZIPPO 10-02-03

That's what David Kay has found in six months with 1400 people searching for WMDs.

Where's the outrage folks? This was sold to us as a certainty. Rumsfeld told us during the war"we know where they are," remember?

We fought a war because of WMDs -- and there are none. People should be extremely pissed off right now.

I find it hilarious that they need more time. What the heck are they going to find that they haven't already? That sounds like"give us some time and we'll gin up or manufacture something," doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 9:14 p.m. CDTComment

NEW GYWO 10-02-03

Here.

(The top panel is quite good, eh?)

Posted by Tom at 1:51 p.m. CDTComment

RUSH'S APPARENT DRUG PROBLEM 10-02-03

Here's a link to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Rush Limbaugh's apparent drug problem and his alleged habit of buying illegal prescription painkillers.

The most damning part of the article is this:

Limbaugh's lawyers, Jerry Fox and Dan Zachary, refused to comment on the accusations.
Uh-oh.

I don't have much more to say about it other than it would explain exactly how he lost all of that weight a few years ago, wouldn't it?

Update: Atrios reports:

It appears that Limbaugh is a part of a drug investigation, but they're targetting the suppliers and not the buyers.

Sure is nice being a rich white illegal drug user.

Yep.

Posted by Tom at 9:20 a.m. CDTComment

CATCHING UP 10-02-03

I've been reading nearly 200 exams over the last week. Therefore, I'm just now catching up on my NYT editorial page reading.

Go read Krugman's latest column from a couple of days ago here. I'll give you the"money quote":

There's a moral here: optimists who expect the administration to get its Iraq policy on track are kidding themselves. Think about it: the cost of the occupation is exploding, and military experts warn that our army is dangerously overcommitted. Yet officials are still allowing Iraqi reconstruction to languish, and the disaffection of the Iraqi public to grow, while they steer choice contracts to their friends. What makes you think they will ever change their ways?
Mighty crooked bunch we've got in the White House, eh? Go read the rest of it.

MoDo's column is pretty good this morning as well. Here's the most hilarious quote:

The men who won the 2000 election by promising to restore honor and integrity to the White House spent yesterday doing a pretty good imitation of O. J. Simpson, looking for the culprit. You could just picture President Bush with his Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, magnifying glass and bloodhound Barney. Silly. The White House knows who did it. All Mr. Bush has to do is roll heads.
Indeed.

Posted by Tom at 8:59 a.m. CDTComment

MY GOODNESS... 10-02-03

the White House may be putting us through this crisis to save Scooter Libby! I meant that as a joke. I honestly didn't realize that might actually be the case.

And, let me tell you folks, I now think that, in addition to Rove, Cheney was involved with this. It's not Rove they're protecting but Cheney. This begins to make more sense now. I've been reading speculation from readers and others that this is about Cheney. I think this development is confirmation that this is certainly plausible. We also may now know who told the political staff about Plame's identity -- it very well may have been Dick Cheney himself.

My goodness. This just became a bigger story and the insane defense of the White House now is, at the very least, more understandable.

It appears they're protecting the Vice President.

Holy Cow.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 a.m. CDTComment

THE HACKS' SPIN ISN'T WORKING... 10-01-03

as evidenced by this poll in which 83% of Americans say this is a serious matter and 69% favor a special counsel.

And W is coming close to losing the trust of people across the political spectrum -- Americans of all political stripes now want a special counsel and believe it is necessary

The view that this is a serious matter transcended party lines. Seventy-two percent of Republicans and 83 percent of independents joined the 90 percent of Democrats who said it was at least somewhat serious.

In addition, 56 percent of Republicans found it likely that White House officials leaked the name, and Republicans, by 52 percent to 42 percent, favored a special counsel.

Americans exhibited little tolerance of the classified leaks and those responsible. If a White House official is the culprit, 91 percent believe that person should be fired and 82 percent believe that person should face criminal charges.

So, therefore, more than 90% of American are in favor of a frog march for whomever is the perpetrator of this vile deed.

I think W and the boys are on the precipice folks. Unless they look like they give a damn about this scandal, they're in enormous trouble. And they're not doing too well in convincing folks they're serious about this.

I mean, heck folks, when your press secretary has to admit you haven't even any asked anyone on your staff about this at all, that certainly looks like someone who doesn't care one damn bit about getting to the truth of the matter. It's W's inability to do such a simple thing that looks the most dishonest at this point.

I think one of these polls ought to ask Americans whether they think Dear MisLeader should ask his staff who it was who blew Plame's cover.

I suspect the overwhelming majority of Americans would answer that question in the affirmative.

Posted by Tom at 7:17 p.m. CDTComment

MORE FROM THE HACKING HACKITY HACKS AT THE NRO 10-01-03

Kevin's got a great post closely analyzing (not fisking of course) the latest pathetic entry in what he calls the"Karl Rove Talking Points Sweepstakes."

Go give it a read. The president's sycophants are now openly lying about the basic points of this whole story hoping to spin their way out of it.

Nice try guys.

(Yes, I borrowed the title of this post from this post over at Atrios. It was too damned good not to steal it.)

Posted by Tom at 3:48 p.m. CDTComment

LYONS:"ADVICE TO BUSH: QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD" 10-01-03

Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week:

Advice to Bush: Quit While You're Ahead

Shortly before 9/11, a worldly-wise philospher on the seacoast of Maine made me a prediction."Remember where you heard it," he said."George W. Bush will never run for a second term. He'll resign the presidency. It's his life story: his father's friends get him a job he doesn't deserve, he screws it up, somebody else takes the blame, he quits, then father's friends buy him a bigger job he doesn't deserve and he does it all over again."

It's true the man has always failed upward. Bush even messed up his cushiest job ever, as Texas Rangers'"owner." In reality, he was like a glorified Wal-Mart greeter, a minority shareholder playing tycoon in the box seats. Even so, he had a role in the worst trade of the 1990s, sending Sammy Sosa to Chicago for the equivalent of $49.95 and a litter of kittens. As a happy Cubs fan, perhaps I should show more gratitude.

The obvious problem with predicting his resignation, however, is that there are no bigger jobs for sale than President of the United States. Bush couldn't quit without admitting abject failure. Unlike Lyndon Baines Johnson, the last Texan in the White House, there's no indication he's got the intestinal fortitude. So I rang up my Down East friend to see if he'd revised the forecast. Returning my call after a hard day of tending his lobster pots, he was even more emphatic.

"Read any newspapers lately?" he asked."He'll cut and run."

I remain dubious. Still, it's good Bush doesn't read newspapers or watch TV news, as he told FoxNews recently, instead relying upon briefings by his trusty aides. The evidence of his failures is all over the front page. Even as the jobless economic recovery continued, consumer confidence dropped and the stock market declined. Poverty levels have risen sharply on Bush's watch; Americans are losing health insurance in record numbers. Polls show near majorities agreeing that Bush is"in over his head."

But it's fallout from Bush's excellent adventure in Iraq that's causing him the most trouble. Months after he swaggered across an aircraft carrier under a banner reading"Mission Accomplished," Americans continue to kill and die there. Meanwhile, the adminstration can't keep its story straight. For months, the White House insisted that a forthcoming report by U.S. arms inspector David Kay would unearth Saddam Hussein's vaunted weapons of mass destruction. Now they say it may never be released.

Australian journalist John Pilger found a videotape of Secretary of State Colin Powell telling diplomats in Cairo in early 2001 that the U.S. had Saddam in a box:"He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction," Powell said."He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

Without explaining how a country powerless to menace Jordan posed a threat to the U.S., Bush and Powell alibied that 9/11 had changed the equation. Except that Bush had recently admitted that"we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with Sept. 11." Made after a blustering performance on"Meet the Press" by Vice President Cheney, the belated confession must have come as news to the reported 69 percent of Americans who'd been encouraged to think Saddam bore personal responsibility. Indeed, Bush's March 18, 2003 letter to Congress justifying war stipulated that Iraq was among"those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

With Americans still reeling from the $87 billion price tag to pay Bush and Cheney's pals at Halliburton and Bechtel to rebuild Iraq, the president's speech at the United Nations was received coldly. Calling people ingrates and cowards, then asking them to risk lives and treasure cleaning up the mess you've made is generally a poor marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, bureaucratic warfare has broken out all over Washington. The House Intelligence Committee rebuked CIA director George Tenet for his agency's role in touting Iraq's non-existent WMDs. The Defense Intelligence Agency faulted the Pentagon's--i.e. Rumsfeld and Cheney's--credulous reliance upon imaginary"intelligence" from defectors affiliated with Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

But the story that has Washington journalists all worked up is what some see as Tenet's revenge: the CIA's insistence upon a criminal investigation to determine which White House operatives fingered Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a spy to columnist Robert Novak. The proverbial"senior administration official" told the Washington Post it was done"purely and simply for revenge" over Wilson's role in exposing the administration's phony claim that Iraq sought to buy African uranium. At least six other journalists were also told.

Which means two things: first, the leak was calculated and deliberate; second, scores of media insiders already know the leaker's identity, and suspect that the scandal may reach very close to the top.

Posted by Tom at 11:59 a.m. CDTComment

NOVAK IS COVERING FOR ROVE 10-01-03

Bob recites quite a collection of misleading Republican talking points in his column today. He even uses that hack May's column for cover. It's pretty pathetic.

So much for Bob's integrity, eh?

I'm with Atrios, it's time for CNN to suspend Novak. He's clearly trying to cover for the White House. Bob is saying things he has to know are false now.

[Link via CalPundit]

Posted by Tom at 8:26 a.m. CDTComment

DAMN 10-01-03

Four killed in Iraq yesterday.

This war certainly is turning out to be a genuine disaster, isn't it?

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 8:05 a.m. CDTComment


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