Saturday, January 31, 2004

"There’s just so much to say about this new bubbling-up of the WMD controversy. And I plan to say a lot of it. But, for the moment, let’s see if there’s any way to get the media and various other members of the capital's elect to avoid another round of self-administered bamboozlement.

"For months we have known with increasing degrees of certainty that there were, contrary to expectations, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Yet the fact that David Kay has now stated this baldly has suddenly put this reality at the center of the national debate in a way it wasn’t only a couple weeks ago.

"He has also said two other things.

"First, he’s said that the CIA was not pressured to reach its erroneous conclusions. Second, he has said that rather than the president owing an explanation or apology to the American people, the CIA owes an explanation or apology to the president.

"As to the first point, how would he know?

"To the best of my knowledge, Kay wasn’t involved in any of the relevant inter-agency processes and he hasn’t investigated this question after the fact. So how would he know? I think the answer is clear: he doesn't.

"The second point is a classic example of that phenomenon we’ve become so familiar with in the Bush years: up-is-downism."

Josh Marshall goes on to explain, deconstructing the spin on WMD intelligence and the White House's sudden urgency to get to the bottom of it.

And the Washington Post is shocked, shocked to learn that there's lobbying going in our nation's capital.

It is a legitimate story -- Kerry's attacking the influence of special interests, even as he pockets their money -- but I'm not sure that one can even begin to compare his record in the Senate with the profound influence a wide range of industries wield in the Bush White House. Nor can you compare the amount of money Kerry's raised with Bush's fundraising, which rivals the GDP of Portugal.

And it's a legitimate "debating point" for Dean. But my, what a difference a month makes.

I say, let the corporate interests throw all the money they can at Kerry; it means they smell a winner.

More Deficit Reduction Program Related Activities.

Friedmand on Budgets of Mass Destruction

Friday, January 30, 2004

"'We'll have to get Cheney the new memo,'" one White House official said after Mr. Cheney's comments. 'As soon as we write it.'"

Of course, "'When you are dealing with secretive regimes that want to deceive, you're never going to be able to be positive' about intelligence, Rice told NBC." Hmmm. That's what a lot of us were saying back when. The administration at the time seemed pretty certain, as you can see from CAP's list of their statements of certainty.

Would this qualify as Deficit Reduction Program-Related Activities?

Also eliminated from the Georgia school curriculum, any mention of "Inherit the Wind."

Next they'll pretend the Civil War didn't happen...wait...they're way ahead of me.

Mark Schmidt's blog was new to me. I think I'll be back regularly, as he effectively dismantles Mickey Maus, who had been drinking the Kerry's a loser meme, then went to Kerry's boring, then he's another regurgitated, welfare-lovin' liberal, now -- the ol' standby -- Kerry's a phony. Mickey, go join Zell Miller and the rest of the faux "Democrats" who seem intent on debasing the party's candidates, please.

Writes Brad DeLong, "I'll stop calling this administration "Orwellian" when they stop using 1984 as an operations manual." Rumsfeld needs a bigger army. Temporarily. Who knew?

Also from Prof. DeLong... well...I'm speechless.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

"Bush's new budget will also estimate this year's budget deficit at about $520 billion, the congressional sources said. That would easily surpass the $375 billion shortfall of last year, the highest deficit ever in dollar terms." Astonishing. And the story -- unbelievably, are there no editors at the Post? -- doesn't even mention if this number includes funds for Iraq and Homeland Uber Alles Security. I'm guessing not.

So what's a fiscally irresponsible president to do? Cut spending to the third world! In fairness, though, President Feel Good's budget is still higher than Clinton's. But then, Clinton was focused on eliminating the deficit. Scrooge.

But this is baffling.

The Times New Hampshire tracking poll is extremely encouraging. Kerry scored a solid victory, winning pretty much every demo, except those petulent kids.

It didn't get much play at the time, but the December edition of the Atlantic Monthly ran an excerpt of Douglas Brinkley's book on Kerry's time in Vietnam, called Tour of Duty. At the time, Kerry seemed to be fading fast, which may have explained its lack of visibility. I didn't even mention it, although I was greatly impressed by Kerry's self-awareness, composure, and ability to articulate what he was seeing, feeling, and thinking during his tour. It's time to revisit.

I admit it. I've been won over by Kerry. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks. But after reading this, I'm no longer wondering about Clark.

"Wesley K. Clark could not keep quiet for long. The meeting with Vice President Cheney on July 16, 2002, had started with casual banter. But the retired four-star general quickly cut off the chitchat, grasping his chair and sliding it next to Cheney's.

"'Mr. Vice President, we know you only have a short time, and we have some very important matters to discuss,' Clark said, according to a person who attended the session. 'So if you don't mind, I'd like to just jump into the meeting.' Cheney nodded, and Clark raced through a 10-minute summation of what Acxiom, a Little Rock firm that collects and sorts detailed consumer data on virtually every American, could do to aid the war on terrorism." C'mon, Amy, come back into the light!

And Dean is losing it. Fast. Al Gore seems to be in charge, which may explain things.

Josh Micah Marshall's star continues to rise. He has an essay in the New Yorker this week on the flaws in Bush and the neocons empire "plans."

"The Bush doctrine, with its tenets of preëmptive war, regime change, and permanent American military primacy, promised a new global order. The best way to think of that order is by analogy with the internal organization of a nation-state. What makes a state a state is its monopoly over the legitimate use of force, which means that citizens don’t have to worry about arming to defend themselves against each other. Instead, they can focus on productive pursuits like raising families, making money, and enjoying their leisure time. In the world of the Bush doctrine, states take the place of citizens. As the President told graduating cadets at West Point in 2002, America intends to keep its 'military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.' In other words, if America has an effective monopoly on the exercise of military force, other countries should be able to set aside the distractions of arming and plotting against each other and put their energies into producing consumer electronics, textiles, tea. What the Bush doctrine calls for—paradoxically, given its proponents—is a form of world government.

"The new order envisaged by the Bush doctrine hasn’t quite worked out as it was meant to. That’s because, from the beginning, the White House has acted on the assumption that bold action would make our allies rally behind us and our enemies cower. Building a consensus with our friends before we acted only encouraged quarrelsomeness. The point wasn’t that dictation was superior to consensus; the point was that it created consensus.

"Again and again, things didn’t turn out that way. In March, 2002, Dick Cheney, in his only trip abroad as Vice-President before last week, toured Middle Eastern capitals to line up support for the war against Iraq. Foreign leaders used the occasion to denounce the planned attack. A week after Cheney’s return, the Saudis and the Kuwaitis were arranging their first rapprochement with Iraq since the Gulf War. In the months preceding the second Gulf War, a year later, the Administration was castigated for bungled diplomacy with its allies. But the real problem was that, though America could do as it liked, its erstwhile allies didn’t necessarily fall in line.

“'Bill Clinton was actually a much more effective imperialist than George W. Bush,' Chalmers Johnson writes darkly. 'During the Clinton administration, the United States employed an indirect approach in imposing its will on other nations.' That 'indirect approach' might more properly be termed a policy of leading by consensus rather than by dictation. But Johnson is right about its superior efficacy. American power is magnified when it is embedded in international institutions, as leftists have lamented. It is also somewhat constrained, as conservatives have lamented. This is precisely the covenant on which American supremacy has been based. The trouble is that hard-line critics of multilateralism focussed on how that power was constrained and missed how it was magnified.

"Conservative ideologues, in calling for an international order in which America would have a statelike monopoly on coercive force, somehow forgot what makes for a successful state. Stable governments rule not by direct coercion but by establishing a shared sense of allegiance. In an old formula, 'domination' gives way to 'hegemony'—brute force gives way to the deeper power of consent. This is why the classic definition of the state speaks of legitimate force. In a constitutional order, government accepts certain checks on its authority, but the result is to deepen that authority, rather than to diminish it. Legitimacy is the ultimate 'force multiplier,' in military argot. And if your aim is to maintain a global order, as opposed to rousting this or that pariah regime, you need all the force multipliers you can get."


Uh oh. The Yankees can't buy a third baseman, and it doesn't look good for finding one in their depleted farm system (great writing, whether you like baseball...or the Yankees...or not). But we can dream, can't we?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Remember when Bush the Unelected entered the White House and all of those nasty lies were floated, saying that the white trash Clintonistas had trashed the place, going so far as to (gasp) steal the "Ws" from all of the computer keyboards (far too much sense of humor to expect from the Clinton administration, sadly)? Thank god, Republicans said, the Adults our back in Our House.

Well, Brad DeLong is bitter, angry, increasing partisan, and SHRILL. Why? Because the so-called adults are really trashing the place. Knowingly, gleefully.

"Why do so many of us who worked so hard on economic policy for the Clinton administration, and who think of ourselves as mostly part of a sane and bipartisan center, find the Bush administration and its Republican congressional lapdogs so... disgusting, loathsome, contemptible? Why are we so bitter?

"After introspection, the answer for me at least as clear. We worked very hard for years to repair the damage that Ronald Reagan and company had done to America's fisc. We strained every nerve and muscle to find politically-possible and popularly-palatable ways to close the deficit, and put us in a position in which we can at least begin to think about the generational long-run problems of financing the retirement of the baby-boom generation and dealing with the rapidly-rising capabilities and costs of medicine. We saw a potential fiscal train wreck far off in the future, and didn't ignore it, didn't shrug our shoulders, didn't assume that it would be someone else's problem, but rolled up our sleeves and set to work.

"Then the Bush people come in. And in two and a half years they trash the place. They trash the place deliberately. They trash the place casually. They trash the place gleefully. They undo our work for no reason at all--just for the hell of it. Reading Suskind's The Price of Loyalty shows just how casual and unthinking it was."

DeLong also asks, what is up with the Washington Post editorial board? Specifically, what to make of this:

"Technological and organizational shifts are driving firms to close jobs down permanently, and laid-off workers are having to look for entirely new work. That takes time. Firms have to create jobs they never had before, which takes longer than re-creating old ones. As a result, the new structural nature of unemployment means that job creation lags in the early stages of a recovery.

"Mr. Bush should not be blamed for this, though his irresponsible fiscal policy harms business confidence and therefore job creation. But the bigger question is whether jobless recoveries are a bad thing. They are, after all, the flip side of good news. There is less cyclical unemployment these days, so recessions are milder; fewer jobs are being created now because fewer jobs were destroyed during the downturn. Moreover, a jobless recovery means, by definition, that each worker is producing more. Higher productivity, in turn, is the best promise possible of higher wages and employment in the future."

Rinse and repeat: "Mr. Bush should not be blamed for this, though his irresponsible fiscal policy harms business confidence and therefore job creation." Whaaa?

Before this editorial, the only major national publication I would have thought would have an editorial wondering if job loss was "a bad thing" would have been the newspaper that first outed those Lucky Duckies.

As we leave the strange sanity of New Hampshire (and Iowa) voters, Timothy Noah wonders about the sanity of the Dem's "Southern Strategy." Tonight, I heard a report on NPR validating Noah's comments. One voter claimed that the Dems can't win without the South and the South won't vote for anyone who doesn't have a bubba accent (listen, if you can, to the change in timbre, if that's the right word, to Edwards' dulcimer tones as he ventures below the Mason-Dixon line).

Breaking news:

"BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- Howard Dean shook up his presidential campaign on Wednesday after absorbing back-to-back defeats, replacing his campaign manager Joe Trippi and bringing in a longtime associate of former Vice President Al Gore to try and stabilize his faltering candidacy, Democratic sources said.

"The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Dean told congressional supporters in a telephone conference call that he was installing Roy Neel as campaign CEO. Dean added that Trippi would remain on the payroll, the source said. But another source said that Trippi had decided to depart the campaign rather than accept the change."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Somberly, poetry that reminds us that the bland "installations" planned for the "9-11 Memorial," simply fail to express...

"Where is the twisted human torso?

Where are the flames? Where is the smoke?

What crossed fingers still dangle below

These calm subterranean spaces?

It continues:

"Placid well-lit puddles of piddling light

Confine the defiant. Monuments,

Intended to mourn, feign empathy and

Experience. Serene Ground Zero.

Is this the scene searched in vain for remains?

Each age has the art that it deserves."

A need to "get over it," to "find closure," to "think positively." It is the weakness of the times we live in. Evidenced (ed., is that really a verb?) by Bush's SOTU, devoid of mention of the dead, and by this column, sent to us by a particularly alert reader. I hadn't even thought about the percentage of deaths caused by friendly fire, or friendly cluster bombs. But it would be better if we didn't concern ourselves with such negative thoughts.

(It's also a great window on Bush's "progressive" immigration policies: "Give us your maids, your gardeners, your cannon fodder...")

Instead, think positive! Great news about the ongoing success in Iraq, via Atrios. Ludicrous, but as it is sucked up by the thoughtful and high-minded conservative press, it will soon be holy writ to more than half the U.S. public.

Chris Suellentrop of Slate can't quite figure out "Kerrymania." I agree; it's more than just his CV, although I think he has the best one of the bunch. But perhaps, just perhaps, voters are reacting to the black & white-ism of the Bush dynasty (and Dean, for that matter), and are looking for something the press has stated firmly has been dead since 9-11-01: nuanced thinking. I mean, what other politician can you imagine saying this?:

"[Of off-shoring jobs] 'The solution is not to sit there and pretend that you can stop every job from going overseas,' he says in Hampton. On the subject of religion, he believes that presidents should 'recognize the diversity of faiths and even of agnosticism and atheism,' and he takes the politically risky stance of admitting to a 'questioning, agnostic stage' after his experience in Vietnam."

Those two statements alone have my vote. And he's accused of pandering. Sheesh.

Speaking of Kerry...CBS, deservedly, takes a lot of shots, but "60 Minutes" last Sunday was a tri-fecta of bad news for Bush.

And of the Bush dynasty, Kevin Phillips, a wild-eyed left-wing wacko and former White House strategist for Nixon, and wrote "The Emerging Republican Majority" years ago, is aghast at the dynastic ambitions of the Bush family. Here's an excerpt.

Peggy Noonan admits that Republicans aren't normal?

"Let me assert something that I cannot prove with a poll but that is based on serious conversations the past few months with Republicans and also normal people..."

Monday, January 26, 2004

Well, it's official. We're screwed. The question I have is, has Republican control of the Exec. and Legis. branches so wacked our future fiscal picture as to be virtually unsolvable? Even Greenspan is fed up, apparently.

Thomas Kean of the 9-11 Commission continues to uninspire and dispirit. "'The take here is that Hamilton and Kean are just a little weak,' says one congressional Democratic aide. 'We're waiting for a formal extension request. But they need to make it. We can't do their work for them.'"

Dick Cheney's attempts to rehabilitate his image just get more and more palpably desperate. He's now quoting a leaked Defense Dept. memo as "the best source of information" on Iraq's WMD and al qaeda ties. And as Wesley Clark points out, claiming that a leaked document is accurate may be illegal.

More on Cheney, and the lovefest he engendered among the left-wing wacko business leaders in Davos, here.

Amy Sullivan is right. Josh Marshall is an excellent blogger, political analyst, and, generally, reporter. But his dispatches show that good bloggers do not necessarily make for good on the ground reporters. I'd much rather have him back in DC writing about New Hampshire then telling us what he's listening to as he drives around the frozen granite state.

I thnk the role of the blog is not to replicate the poor unfortunate hacks who must post a story a day from the campaign bus. The blogger needs to sift through the spin and the silly media events to draw conclusions, or simply raise an arch eyebrow over Dean's yawp.

More from Billmon -- from Davos -- on blogs, of all things.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

"'We must meet the dangers together,' Mr. Cheney said in his 30-minute speech to the gathering, the annual World Economic Forum. 'Cooperation among our governments, and effective international institutions, are even more important than they have been in the past.'

"Mr. Cheney continued, 'Working cooperatively against the dangers of a new era will place demands on us all, and there will be occasional differences, even among allies who have great respect for one another.'"

Whoa, the thin air in Switzerland must have affected Cheney's brain. But the cynical Dutch don't buy it. "'This overture comes during an election year,' said Carel N. Van Der Spek, a Dutch banker. 'The Bush administration wants to draw down its troops in Iraq, and to do that, it needs helps from Europe.'"

Damn you, Dutchman!

Along these lines, Robert Kagan writes today on the failure of the Bush administration to establish legitimacy with its dismissive attitude towards Europe -- and vice versa. Noting a fundamental change in the U.S. philosophy behind its foreign policy, Kagan notes the change in tone with the Bush administration's unabashed self-interest. "'We fight not just for ourselves but for all mankind,' Benjamin Franklin declared of the American Revolution, and whether or not that has always been true, most Americans have always wanted to believe that it is true."

The Bush adminstration has chosen unilateralism at the same time that European politicians have cynically used fear of American power to their own ends, creating a growing schism within the West, at a time when greater cooperation to fight multinational terrorism is needed.

"Americans therefore cannot ignore the unipolar predicament. Perhaps the singular failure of the Bush administration is that it has been too slow to recognize this. Mr. Bush and his advisers came to office guided by the narrow realism that dominated in Republican foreign policy circles during the Clinton years. The Clinton administration, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, wrote in a famous essay in January 2000, had failed to focus on the 'national interest' and instead had addressed itself to 'humanitarian interests' or the interests of 'the international community.' The Bush administration, by contrast, would take a fresh look at all treaties, obligations and alliances and re-evaluate them in terms of America's "national interest.'"

..."This is precisely what even America's closest friends fear: that the United States will wield its unprecedented vast power only for itself. In her essay, Ms. Rice derided "the belief that the United States is exercising power legitimately only when it is doing so on behalf of someone or something else." But for the rest of the world, what other source of legitimacy can there be? When the United States acts in its own interests, Ms. Rice claimed, as would many Americans, it necessarily serves the interests of everyone.

"'To be sure,' she argued, 'there is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect.'

"But could even America's closest friends ever be persuaded that an America always pursuing its self-interest could be relied upon to serve their interests, too, as some kind of 'second-order effect'?

"Both the unipolar predicament and the American character require a much more expansive definition of American interests. The United States can neither appear to be acting only in its self-interest, nor can it in fact act as if its own national interest were all that mattered. Even at times of dire emergency, and perhaps especially at those times, the world's sole superpower needs to demonstrate that it wields its great power on behalf of its principles and all who share them.

"The manner in which the United States conducts itself in Iraq today is especially important in this regard. At stake is not only the future of Iraq and the Middle East more generally, but also the future of America's reputation, its reliability and its legitimacy as a world leader. The United States will be judged, and should be judged, by the care and commitment it takes to secure a democratic peace in Iraq. It will be judged by whether it really advances the cause of liberalism, in Iraq and elsewhere, or whether it merely defends its own interests.

"No one has made this argument more powerfully, and more presciently, than that quintessential realist, Henry A. Kissinger.

"The task in Iraq, Mr. Kissinger argued in an essay, was not just to win the war but to convey 'to the rest of the world that our first pre-emptive war has been imposed by necessity and that we seek the world's interests, not exclusively our own.' America's 'special responsibility, as the most powerful nation in the world,' he said, 'is to work toward an international system that rests on more than military power — indeed, that strives to translate power into cooperation. Any other attitude will gradually isolate and exhaust us.'"

It's impossible not to have fun with Dean's Iowa concession speech, but as Campaign Desk notes, lazy political journalists are using it as a cudgel.

Following the abysmal SOTU from the Taunter in Chief, Atrios asks, when are they going to stop calling him "popular?"


With denials like this, can the A-Rod trade not be imminent?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Dean may be dropping in the polls, but he's rising in the charts. With a bullet. Thanks Atrios.

Amy Sullivan deconstructs the SOTU. "But my absolute favorite quote of the night was this, although it was in the context of gay marriage: 'We cannot allow activist judges to force their arbitrary will on the people.' Anybody else out there thinking about Bush v. Gore (2000)?" Wish I'd thought of that.

Yet even she -- in fact no one on the blogospher or in the traditional media -- seems bothered by the miserable failure's failure to honor the dead in Iraq. 503 American troops dead thus far, and he can't so much as nod in their direction. Disgusting. And disturbing. Is he unaware?

But for those of you pining to live in freedom in our great neighbor to the north, be forewarned.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Some of my favorite bits from last night's stump speach:

"Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working. (Applause.)"

That's right...the hardest working people in the world...because there are fewer and fewer of us working, the lucky ones who get to keep their jobs have to work that much harder.

"Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.) The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)"

"Or else," the president did not say.

"You in the Congress have provided the resources for our defense, and cast the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies have been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats have been skilled and tireless. And the men and women of the American military -- they have taken the hardest duty. We've seen their skill and their courage in armored charges and midnight raids, and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the joy when they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost. I've had the honor of meeting our servicemen and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific to a mess hall in Baghdad."

What about those who've fallen in Iraq? How can he not honor the dead?

"Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."

Let me get this straight. A year ago it was "the smoking gun will be a mushroom cloud." Now it's "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities..."

"From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)"

Whoa, nelly!

"In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. (Applause.) This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years. (Applause.)"

"And watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"

"To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now. (Applause.)"

He still wants to be the Baseball Commissioner!

"To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers young people face -- even when they're difficult to talk about. Each year, about 3 million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases that can harm them, or kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents. In my budget, I propose a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We will double federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases. (Applause.)"

Wouldn't a few bucks for condoms sort of round out this program?

"It's also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions."

Explanation: Unleash the dogs of the Christian right!

I'll let Andy Sullivan parse out the bit about marriage. Watch him squirm. They hate you, Andy. Deal with it.

In an otherwise bland speech, Bush's use of "the other" was chilling. He didn't define or name who opposed his policies, he isolated them: "Skeptics who...", "Some people...", "Some in this chamber...", "The status-quo has defenders..."

Well, tomorrow, Bush travels to Roswell to talk about national security. He does think there's martians out there, after all.

I can't find the photo that ran in the Times print edition this morning, showing Ahmed Chalabi sitting directly behind Laura Bush. I thought that guy's stock had crashed. Haven't they revoked his security clearance yet?

Center for American Progress provides context on last night's claims.

So does USA Today. Via Atrios.

Fighting Doublespeak. After Bush's speech, Josh Marshall's interview with George Soros is refreshing. An excerpt:

"TPM: Let me ask you: I've obviously read your book and seen you interviewed a number of times on this topic. And you have explained your involvement in this election cycle partly by pointing to the importance of this next election as a referendum on the Bush Doctrine. And if the president is turned out of office, it will, this last few years will seem like sort of an aberration--in part, the shock of 9/11, and so on and so forth.

"My question is this, though: Clearly, as we've seen, in a direct military sense, we can overthrow a government like Saddam Hussein's. Again, in a pure military sense, we can occupy it, we can at least in the short-to-medium term fund this occupation. And NATO may be strained, but it hasn't collapsed. And one could say similar things about our alliances in different parts of the world. And the reason I bring up the point about this coming election is that the argument I think that people like yourself have made --- and probably people like myself --- is that the consequences of what we are doing now probably won't be clear in their totality in the next year. They'll be clear five years from now, ten years from now. To the extent that you can, assuming President Bush is re-elected --- what do you see those consequences as being? When do they become tangible? People who are on the hawk side I think would say, yeah, there's a lot of opposition around the world to what we're doing, but, you know, so what?

"SOROS: First, let me say that the consequences are already clear. It's only a question of recognizing it. Just today, the U.S. is turning to the UN to help in legitimizing the creation of an Iraqi government --- that’s today’s news. Which means that under the duress of the coming elections and the need to, let's say, correct the mistakes that we have made in Iraq, that we are now recognizing that we can't do it on our own.

"I've been arguing this all along. It's now being admitted. Now, this administration will never admit that it has made a mistake. But anybody who looks at it can see that they are actually even trying to correct the mistakes that they have made by turning to the UN now.

"So that's the first thing: the fact that their ideology of power and dominance is false. It actually doesn't work. That's number one. Secondly, it's profoundly un-American, because we have, you know, a belief in the equality of opportunities and the very principles of America are not ones of dominance. We don't believe in, you know, we fought the Civil War to abolish slavery. So, secondly, it's really un-American; it's a break with American values.

"And there is another aspect that is coming into sharper focus to me, even since I wrote the book. That is that this administration has no compunction in misleading the people. It has no respect for the truth. This, I think, is a real danger. It is the danger of an Orwellian world. It's not new, because obviously, Orwell wrote about this fifty years ago. But what he wrote in 1984, you know, the Ministry of Truth being the Propaganda Ministry, the use of words meaning the opposite of what they are meant to mean. The Fox News, "Fair and Balanced," the "Clear Skies" Act for permitting pollution, the "Leave No Child Behind" [that] provides no money for the legislation. All these things I think pose a real danger to our democracy if they succeed in misleading the electorate. And there is only one remedy: an intelligent and enlightened electorate that sees through it.

"Now, I find myself in a peculiar position, because having grown up or been exposed to the Nazi regime and the communist regime, I am very sensitive to this kind of propaganda. And the American people, not having been exposed to quite the same extent, seem to be more easily misguided. And that is something that I have been trying to say. And, as a result, I have been accused of calling Bush a Nazi. And that, to me, is itself a demonstration of how this propaganda machine works. That is a real danger, and I think that we really have to somehow become more sensitive to it, and reject it. So, I focused on rejecting the Bush Doctrine. But really behind it is this conviction that we must reject Orwellian Doublespeak."

Finally, while the War on Terror captures our attention, the War on Drugs continues to create failing states in our own backyard.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I can't improve on the word Will Carroll used to link to this post: "Classic." A must-read.

Regardless of the results -- and they were a shock and a thrill -- I don't recall any other election cycle in which so much attention was paid to the Iowa Caucus. I'm not talking about the punditocracy. I'm talking "reg'lar folks." One colleague of mine flew into New York last night and as soon as she walked into her hotel room, turned on the caucus results. Something is afoot in the land if there's this much interest in who won an essentially meaningless caucus.

The Iowa caucus does deliver on it's promise to really vet the candidates. I found myself on what must have been the same Kerry arc over the course of the campaign: Front runner; looks vulnerable; the guy's gonna quit the race; hmm, he may yet have potential; I think I'm going with him.

But the big winner may well be Edwards. I believe two unknowns, Carter and Clinton, came out of nowhere to surprise everyone, not with a win, but a strong second place finish in Iowa. If Kerry and Clark vanquish one another in New Hampshire, and Dean fails to turn things around pretty quickly, Edwards could have the advantage when the campaign goes South.

Clark awaits in New Hampshire. Endorsed by George McGovern.

Fareed Zacharia writes in the Post today on how the lack of legitimacy for the U.S. in Iraq is allowing Grand Ayatollah Sistani to twist Bremer and the CPA around his finger.

"From the start, the Pentagon planners (or non-planners) believed the United States would have no legitimacy problems in Iraq. 'We will be greeted as liberators,' Vice President Cheney famously predicted. When urged after the war to transfer some authority to the United Nations to gain legitimacy, administration officials were dismissive in public and scathing in private. 'We have far more legitimacy than the U.N.,' one senior official told me last June. To discredit the idea of internationalization, Defense Department officials kept insisting that their goal was to transfer power not to the United Nations but to the Iraqis. 'No foreigners can be in charge of [determining how elections will be held],' Paul Wolfowitz said.

"Well, the Iraqis heard these speeches, too. The Iraqi Governing Council, many of whose members have little chance of winning an election, said, 'Transfer power to us now!' The Shiite leaders said, 'Hold elections now!' knowing that they were the only politically organized force in the country. So the administration has decided that the United Nations has legitimacy after all. Along with its allies on the Governing Council, Washington is asking Kofi Annan to give the United Nations' blessings to its plan, explain that elections cannot be held precipitously and get involved in the entire political process. Columnist William Safire, who has long ridiculed the need for a U.N. role, is now sheepishly asking whether Annan could do us a favor, please. The foreigners are being invited in. It may be too little, too late."

Atrios on the Liberal Media. The administration lies. The liberal media parrots those lies and then congratulates the administration for telling them.

"Recuse me?!" Anthony and Dickey sittin'-in-a-tree, er duck blind. These guys no longer care about the appearance of impropriety.

Here's another scorecard for tonight's magic show.


Art Thiel notes that Bud Selig has been damaging baseball for only two years fewer than Pete Rose.

"In Selig's statement regarding the sale, he said in part, '... While I have played no role in the administration of the Brewers, putting my ownership share in trust in 1998, I am convinced and have been for many years that it is in the best interests of the game' to sell.

"Really? If my math is right, that means it took two years less for Selig to realize he was compromising the game than it took Rose.

"On behalf of a grateful America, Mr. Commissioner, I salute you for your rapid response and, in demonstrating you have at least 14 percent more integrity than Rose, we hope you bring the same high standards to the search for weapons of mass destruction in the greater Milwaukee area."

Monday, January 19, 2004

When does it become obvious that we're living in perilous times for the U.S. Constitution? When it takes the military to protect us from the overreach of the Executive branch. Military lawyers file an extraordinary amicus brief on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, reminding the Supremes that we have the potential to create another King George.

"Slight encroachments create new boundaries from which legions of power can seek new territory to capture. It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure ...

We should not break faith with this nation's tradition of keeping military power subservient to civilian authority, a tradition which we believe is firmly embodied in the Constitution. The country has remained true to that faith for almost one hundred seventy years. Perhaps no group in the Nation has been truer than military men themselves."

The amicus does not argue against the president's right to wage war and to conduct the war as he sees fit. What the military lawyers do argue is that this is not World War II. The "War on Terror" is potentially never ending. The Constitution does not countenance open-ended presidential power, nor to try anyone he sees fit, with no civilian review over military tribunals in which the judge, prosecutor, and defending lawyer all work for the president.

And just because the president and his advisors are dim-witted rubes doesn't make it right either. Via TPM, check out this great, great post from CalPundit. It provides amazing insight into the mind of Richard Perle. He has always understood the situation better than the "experts" at the CIA. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

Speaking of rubes. Bringing freedom to Iraq was the reason we're there, right, since WMD was just a ruse the freedom-loving administration used to get the U.S. population to support the war? I guess Iraqi men's freedom to oppress Iraqi women. We're doing a bang-up job.

And remember when we decided we "don't need no stinking UN?" Just kidding. I'm reminded of the dulcimer tones of Neil Young when he croons a kind of anthem for our work in "Phase IV" in Iraq.

Tom Paine has a scorecard to help you stay alert during the Distate of the Union tomorrow night.

Also helping us keep score as we career towards "Decision 2004," the Columbia School of Journalism has opened up a Campaign Desk to monitor the rhetoric.

Back in the day. Ever wonder what it was like to be the Official Presidential Jokemeister, when the guy you work for has just faced impeachment due to a certain dalliance?

Finally, the WSJ reports on IBM's plans to off-shore thousands of programmers and other well paid back office employees.

"Among other things, the documents indicate that for internal IBM accounting purposes, a programmer in China with three to five years experience would cost about $12.50 an hour, including salary and benefits. A person familiar with IBM's internal billing rates says that's less than one-fourth of the $56-an-hour cost of a comparable U.S. employee, which also includes salary and benefits."

Documents show that IBM was acutely aware of the sensitivities involved. Managers were told how to communicate to employees, specifically to avoid transperency regarding the plans and to never use the words "off-shore" and "on shore."

"In the draft script prepared for managers, IBM suggests the workers be told: 'This action is a statement about the rate and pace of change in this demanding industry. ...[sic] It is in no way a comment on the excellent work you have done over the years.' The script also suggests saying: 'For the people whose jobs are affected by this consolidation, I understand this is difficult news.'"

Sorry, subscription required for the WSJ story. But you can hear a story about it on Marketplace, along with an argument that not only will companies likely not save as much as they expect on the deal, they are, in essence, creating new competitors in China.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Grandpa said to cousin Jed
Sittin' on the porch,
"I won't retire
But I might retread."

"Seem like that guy singin' this song
Been doing it for a long time.
Is there anything he knows
That he ain't said?"

--Neil Young, "Falling From Above," Greendale

Will Carroll asks, perhaps if these folks had been Muslims their arrests -- and mysterious stockpile of weapons -- would have been announced with the usual Ashcroft fanfare.

Please, Joe, don't use Drudge as your clipping service. If Clark gets the nomination, his statement will continue to be distorted. Read the full text. It certainly does not indicate he's been inconsistent.

Those fuzzy wimps at the White House now want to go to the UN. They seem to be undercutting the Kucinich campaign. First it was WMD. Then it was about free elections in Iraq. What is it now?

Mark Spittle (what a name, no wonder he's got a gift for satire) unleashes a (very funny) monster -- "Bush in 41.2 Seconds". The GOP is not amused. Or are they?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Maureen Dowd has surely gone beyond the pale. What is the relevance of this? Does the voice of feminism in journalism truly believe that the successful politician must be a male whose coifed blond wife stands alongside gazing adoringly on her man? And I thought her weird obsession with argyle sweaters and earth tones was strange.

Hello? Maureen? Dr. Dean is, well, a doctor. She has patients. She's normal. The horrible pain Maureen's Blahniks are inflicting must be truly affecting her judgment. No wonder she attacks a "granola crunching" Vermont women wearing comfortable shoes.

And consider her positive views on Ms. Clinton's active role in her husband's organization, frankly I'm confused. I think she's pioneered a new form of neurosis.

I thought he'd disappeared. But, based on the cover of this month's Atlantic Monthly, Beavis has apparently assumed the position of Secretary of Defense. I'm searching for a clearer photograph, but in the meantime, go buy the magazine and take a look at the sinister grinning Joker on the cover.

Buy the magazine in any case for the extensive report by James Fallows on the run up to, in the Daily Show's words, Messopotamia. Not a lot new here, but Fallows covers a lot of ground. It's not that the civilians in the Pentagon and the White House didn't know the worst-case scenario's of occupied Iraq. They had copious information. They just ignored it.

"How could the Administration have thought that it was safe to proceed in blithe indifference to the warnings of nearly everyone with operational experience in modern military occupations? Saying that the Administration considered this a truly urgent 'war of necessity' doesn't explain the indifference. Even if it feared that Iraq might give terrorists fearsome weapons at any moment, it could still have thought more carefully about the day after the war. World War II was a war of absolute necessity, and the United States still found time for detailed occupation planning.

"The President must have known that however bright the scenarios, the reality of Iraq eighteen months after the war would affect his re-election. The political risk was enormous and obvious. Administration officials must have believed not only that the war was necessary but also that a successful occupation would not require [Fallow's emphasis] any more forethought than they gave it."

Fallows suggest three reasons for the blindness:

1. Rumsfeld's "panache." He could do no wrong.
2. The "triumphalism of the Administration. "Today's conservatives are more likely to think that any contrary ideas are leftovers from the tired 1960s..."
3. "The third factor is the nature of the President himself. Leadership is always a balance between making large choices and being aware of details. George W. Bush has an obvious preference for large choices. This gave him his chance for greatness after the September 11 attacks. But his lack of curiosity about significant details may be his fatal weakness. When the decisions of the past eighteen months are assessed and judged, the
Administration will be found wanting for its carelessness. Because of warnings it chose to ignore, it squandered American prestige, fortune, and lives."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Slate is running an interesting string of posts by several of the foremost "Liberal Hawks," discussing whether or not their enthusiasm for the long, hard slog has waned. Crazy Chris Hitchens, George Packer, Fareed Zackaria, Paul Berman, Fred Kapaln, Kenneth Pollack and Jacob Weisberg (who'd of thought these would be household names...well, sort of) offer up some of the most reasoned -- and painful -- assessments of the war so far. Today, George Packer describes a situation I've been thinking about a lot as I reassess my own naivete in the run up to war:

"The Iraq war was unfinished business from the 1990s, an extension of arguments about the assertion of American power (see back issues of Commentary and Weekly Standard) and humanitarian war (see back issues of Dissent and the New Republic). Now that Saddam is gone and we're in Iraq, of course we should do everything possible to create conditions for liberalism to take root; and there's a chance that in the very long run those conditions could spread to other Muslim countries now controlled by dictatorships. In this sense, Paul and Tom Friedman are saying much the same thing, in different language. Before the war, I was ready to accept these possibilities as one argument for war, but about this my view has changed: The time I spent in Iraq was an education in the limits of war as an instrument of political transformation and the limits of America as its standard-bearer. Liberal democracy requires participation and consent, and as long as American military power is the prime tool for building it, Muslims around the world are unlikely to change their ideas. We need to decouple America and the promotion of democracy; the Iraq war did the opposite. The fact that tens of millions of Muslims around the world harbor increasingly hateful feelings toward America might not be rational, but it is a serious problem if this is a war for liberalism (as I think it is), though it isn't a reason not to fight worldwide Islamism."

Packer sees it as another cold war...unglamorous, covert...not the "bold stroke" Bush was promised by his neocons. Berman agrees, but wonders if a decades-long struggle against Islamism -- including the occasional death of 3,000 people in an office tower is something we're willing to accept.

And another of Bush's mendacious pillars for waging this war collapses.

Oh, well, we've grown used to the notion that the truth should never impede political goals. Poverty as a healthy alternative.

And Brad DeLong is posting the really good stuff from O'Neill's book. This excerpt says volumes about, well, a whole range of things, including Greenspan's integrity.

And here, a look at Bush's economics team at work. As DeLong notes, one almost feels sorry for the president.


Collusion? What collusion?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"It would be important to pick his moment carefully to make his concern known. It was late on a weeknight. Two lifelong workaholics were still at their posts: Mr. O'Neill and Dick Cheney.

"He marched to Mr. Cheney's office. "Dick, I think we need to talk," Mr. O'Neill said. He reasoned that Mr. Cheney would understand the importance of establishing sound processes to manage the White House and executive branch -- entities that were truly beyond human scale. Mr. O'Neill said that he was concerned that Mr. Lindsey was masquerading as the honest broker and was anything but. Without strongly positioned honest brokers and a rigorous, disinterested vetting of various proposals, Mr. O'Neill said, 'all you've got are kids rolling around on the lawn.'

"The need to really run the traps' on every potential presidential move was more important for this Bush than for his father or Gerald Ford, both of whom had vast experience in the federal government. God knows, Mr. Cheney would understand that as well as anyone."

..."Mr. Cheney welcomed Mr. O'Neill and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan into the foyer of his two-story brick town house, where boxes were packed for the move to the vice president's mansion. It was late in the afternoon of Jan. 14, the Sunday of the final week of the transition. They settled at the kitchen table, three men in ties, blazers, and slacks, CEO casual, making final preparations for the coming era.

"They raced across topics, a kind of review of what had been already decided by the president's closest advisers. The president-elect had said little about foreign affairs during the campaign or since. Domestic issues were all anyone was focused on. The tax cut was the priority, they all agreed. After the close election, Mr. Cheney said, it was important that the new president score a clean victory on taxes. If it went the other way, opponents would feel empowered and all anyone would talk about was how he'd lost the popular vote.

"But Mr. Cheney, speaking often to Mr. Lindsey, had been concerned that the economy was weakening fast -- a central issue both materially and tactically to the tax cut -- and asked both men to give their views.

"Mr. O'Neill gave his 'don't panic' rendition of what the numbers said and then added, 'The best, first stimulus, truth be told, may be monetary policy.' Leave it to the Fed and the power of lower interest rates.

"Two hours passed. Mr. Cheney moved to close the circle. The shape of things to come? Tax cuts, Mr. Cheney said, front and center. A task force on energy, which he would run. And everyone stay in close touch about the condition of the economy. All other matters would move on a slower track. Mr. O'Neill left the meeting with a glimpse of the future: that Mr. Cheney would be the most powerful vice president of modern times"

..."When a president doesn't offer explanations, even to his most senior aides, the problems are many. Mr. Bush often ascribed action to a general 'I went on instinct' rationale, leaving Mr. O'Neill and others in the cabinet to ponder the intangibles that drove the president -- from some sweeping, unspoken notion of how the world works to a one-size-fits-all principle, such as 'I won't negotiate with myself.'"

..."He stopped by Mr. Cheney's office. The fears he had harbored during the transition -- about "kids rolling around on the lawn" -- had been confirmed, he said. 'You can't just move on instinct. You end up making too many mistakes,' Mr. O'Neill told the vice president. 'We need to be better about keeping politics out of the policy process. The political people are there for presentation and execution, not for creation.' As before, Dick nodded. He thanked Paul, as always, 'for his sharp insights.'"

..."After the midterms, though, Mr. O'Neill could sense a change inside the White House, from Messrs. Rove, Lindsey and others. A smugness. No one mentioned to Mr. O'Neill that the proposals were back on the launch pad. They knew better.

"Now Mr. Cheney mentioned them again, how altering the double taxation of dividends would provide some economic stimulus.

"Mr. O'Neill jumped in, arguing sharply that the government 'is moving toward a fiscal crisis' and then pointing out 'what rising deficits will mean to our economic and fiscal soundness.'

"Mr. Cheney cut him off.

"'Reagan proved deficits don't matter,' he said.

"Mr. O'Neill was speechless, hardly believing that Mr. Cheney -- whom he and Mr. Greenspan had known since Dick was a kid -- would say such a thing.

"Mr. Cheney moved to fill the void. 'We won the midterms. This is our due.'

"Mr. O'Neill left Mr. Cheney's office in a state of mild shock. Yes, he knew Mr. Lindsey believed this brazen ideology. And Mr. Rove, and others. But to hear it from the vice president seemed to stop the world turning. The inscrutable Mr. Cheney had finally shown himself.

What a nightmare (sorry, subscription required).


From a recent episode of "The Daily Show:"

"John Kerry: 'You said we can't pre-judge Osama Bin Laden! What were you thinking of?'

"Howard Dean (paraphrased by Jon Stewart): 'Oh, I guess I was thinking that I can say all these crazy things and still beat John Kerry.'"

In the same show, "Special Correspondent" Stephen Kolbert reports that the "Howard Dean is an angry, vein-popping, lunatic" stories are true because the press is reporting that he is, although no one can point to one example of him showing disproportionate rage. As Kolbert explains, "'widely reported' is fact-esque."

Speaking of that -- widely reported -- nabob of negativity, that prickly prophet of pessimism, that doyen of doom...Eric Boehlert on Salon de-bones the media's laziness towards Dean (and Gore in 2000) and its slavish coverage of Bush.

More weird coverage of Dean.

Are gossip columnists our last line of defense against Bush's unabashed hubris?

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

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

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

Thanks to Eschaton for the link.

Rumsfeld, the straight-shooter:

"Reacting to O'Neill's assertion that Bush had begun planning for regime change in Iraq long before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld said that Bush made the decision to go to war in March 2003 'after trying everything else in the world.'"

Apparently, Bush didn't get the memo:

"'Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens. And then all of a sudden September 11 hit.'"

Then, again, what is he talking about?

A war that hasn't made us safer. Not by a long-shot.

Michiko takes out her long knife and skewers the Horse Act of Perle and Frum.

If you were wondering what Halliburton would do once the long, hard slog is over in Iraq. There's always Mars.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

The mortar attack on a military base in Iraq that wounded 34 and killed one strikes me as far more significant than it's been covered. Unlike a roadside bomb, you have to deliver, set up, load, aim, and fire a mortar. In person. And they did this outside of a military base in pretty much the middle of the day (sunset). Shows considerable confidence on the part of the insurgents.

Is it "Lost in Space," or just "The Vision Thing?"

Well, we'd better get busy building colonies on the moon, since the Miserable Failure is intent on destroying the Earth.

1,000 new jobs falls a little short of the prediction.

Meanwhile, back at the resort. From yesterday's Wall Street Journal...

"RESORT HOPPING: Power company chiefs meet at Arizona's Scottsdale Princess with lawmakers and Bush officials, including EPA head Leavitt. At nearby Biltmore, reps from timber, mining and oil industries do the same, at a business group's invitation to help Congress write its To-Do list. Senate Energy Chairman Domenici makes both. Also featured at Biltomore: Interior's Deputy Secretary Griles, under investigation for meeting with former clients."

Two interesting articles on Howard Dean have got me thinking more favorably towards his candidacy. A pretty good case for Dean on The New Republic, and an in-depth profile of the man in The New Yorker. The New Yorker article portrays a far more complex and sympathetic man than he often appears in the media.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Listen to the Terry Gross interview with David Cay Johnson, a New York Times reporter who's written Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich. It will really get you fired up to work on your own taxes and help the rich stay, well, rich.

Mickey Maus, I mean Kaus writes, "This astonishing encyclopedia of libelous myths about 'neoconservatives'--if I can repeat that poorly defined slur--was only published last August. Naturally, it's still floating around the Web. To read it in full, click here."

And that left wing rag, the Financial Times, notes that global warming will lead to "a tenth" of all species becoming extinct [ed. How do you "become" extinct? Wouldn't "extinction" be the opposite of "becoming?"]. But mostly bugs and stuff, so it's ok.

Over at Salon, Sidney Blumenthal holds a wake for Colin Powell. We'll see if Sid is right, but my guess is that Powell, after four years of humiliation, will grin and bear it if...if...'ol five-to-four gets four more years.

Nevertheless, if I were Rove, I'd find the latest Time/CNN poll a bit disturbing. Bush gets 51% to Dean's 46% of "likely" voters. Considering that most of the country isn't paying attention and no votes have been cast in the primaries, that seems pretty significant to me (if I can find a link to the poll results, I'll link to it). Most of the polls I've seen compare Bush to all of the various dems, not a head-to-head Dean vs. Bush. Too close to call.

Disregarding the risks involved, a brave, yet gay and festive, Dick Cheney couldn't resist joining our president for a rousing evening of Christmas caroling.

Thanks to TAPPED for the link -- "The Meatrix". Great site, it has a search engine to provide "Providers" and retail based on your zip.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Yes, I know I'm cynical, but do you really think Bush intends this concept -- for it's not a detailed plan -- to become law?

It plays to the Hispanic community (or so Rove would like to believe) and to the business community, particularly the Wal-Marts of the world. My guess is that the fanfare the administration is blaring now will quickly turn to silence as the bill stalls in Congress...until the presidential debates when Bush will proclaim his brotherhood with day laborers.

Yuck. What a weird story. Condi and the Bushes do jigsaw puzzles? Can you imagine the Nixons doing jigsaws with Henry Kissinger? And how about this example of presidential statesmanship:

"'I can't do it with Schröder,' Mr. Bush told Ms. Rice, according to a senior administration official who witnessed the exchange. Ms. Rice, who had not directly suggested that Mr. Bush meet with Mr. Schröder, rushed to reassure. 'No, no, no, we won't make you do it with Schröder,' she said. But Mr. Bush seemed to know what Ms. Rice had in mind. 'Wait a minute, you'll get me back with Schröder, I know what you're trying to do,' the president said, the official recounted.

"Soon enough, a meeting to begin defrosting relations was set up between Mr. Bush and Mr. Schröder at the session last September of the United Nations General Assembly. `I knew that was going to happen,' Mr. Bush laughingly told Ms. Rice after the meeting was scheduled, the senior administration official said. Ms. Rice gently bantered back, the official said, but then concluded, `Now, look, it's the right time to do it.'"

I wouldn't do it with Schröder, either, but that's another story. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Speaking of our last liberal president, as Nixon would say, "It would be wrong."


Oh, good. Curt Schilling is shaping up to be a real target for Yankee/Sox hatred. He calls himself "Gehrig38?" Where does he get that? And his arguments against Questec vacillate between being just wrong and being petulent, as in, great pitchers should get a bigger strike zone. But a great post by Bambino's Curse, and thanks to Alex Belth for the link.

It is interesting -- both in politics and baseball -- the difference between, and roles of, the filter of traditional media versus the direct contact of the internet media. I had been planning a post on the difference between the reaction of the blogosphere to the Pete Rose story and the reaction of traditional sports writers. I expected that the baseball beat writers would, as usual, fall all over themselves in complaining about the treatment of "Charlie Hustle" (which now has new meaning) who, after all did embody what the FAN wants to see in a BALLPLAYER since, gosh, he RAN TO FIRST BASE ON WALKS (what is the relevance of that?)! Looks like I spoke too soon. Peter Gammons is not a brutal guy. Today, he is. Ouch. Good for him.

On a brighter side -- sort of -- The Futility Infielder on Tug McGraw, who rivals Yogi in his philosophical musings.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

"Neo" = "Jew". Funny, I didn't get that memo. David Brooks argues his usual nonsense, claiming that the idea that there is really no such thing as a group of like-minded neoconservatives influencing white house strategy. It's all just a conspiracy theory. Trouble is, guys like Richard Perle freely use the term, and have been crowing about the very influence the neocons have had in influencing white house policy. Oh, and by the way, Dave, I don't think anyone thought you were all that influential.

Josh Marshall deconstructs this more eloquently than I can.

The Department of Labor offers up "100 Ways to Screw Your Workers."

"'We're not saying anybody should do any of this,' Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank said."

The GOP is shocked, shocked, that posted two commercials out of 1,500 entries in the site's "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest, comparing dear leader to Hitler. Now, I think that's stupid, and the anti-definition league is right to excoriate them for lessening the Holocaust. But how come the Right gets to do it?

Brad DeLong has Krugman's back covered.

The left and the right have something to agree on, what was Arthur Miller thinking in going to Cuba? Naive and clueless.

Speaking of Andrew "Keep My Personal Life Out of This (But That Doesn't Apply To Me)" Sullivan," he wants to know why Brittany can, but he can't.


Ah, baseball. What a winter. Gorden Edes of the Globe did a great bit of reporting on how the A-Rod for Manny trade went awry.

Thanks to Alex Belth for the link.

Congratulations to Paul Moliter and Dennis Eckersley. Finally, the DH and the closer roles (Rollie Fingers notwithstanding) get some respect from the baseball writers.

It figures that this jerk would time his so-called apology to try to overshadow the Hall's announcement.

"'It's an embarrassment for me to have believed the lies of a semi-literate,' [Roger] Kahn [author of Rose's first "autobiography"] said yesterday. 'I thought it was my job to present his case. I felt a little like a criminal lawyer. I didn't ask: Did you do it? I asked: How do you want to plead?'"

Quite a bit of redemption for the baseball blogosphere. Baseball-Prospectus called this one over the summer. In fact, by blowing the whistle, they may have forced Selig to at least demand some contrition. MLB owes Derek Zumsteg and Will Carroll an apology.

Adieu, Tug.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Where were you in 1990? "Driving Miss Daisy" won the academy award with Jessica Tandy taking the award for best actress. Manuel Noriega is forced to listen to bad music. Nelson Mandela is freed. A Bush is burning in the White House. And gold prices were at an all-time high.

Until today. The dollar is falling. I'm not an economist, but this cannot be a good thing.

Nor, it seems to me, can this. Nothing like rival militias to help the security situation in Iraq.

Eric Alterman on the Traub story I commented on yesterday. I'm not sure it matters if the Dem's lack of security credentials are valid or a figment of the press. The reality is that it's still an issue the Dems must deal with. Moaning about the so-called liberal media doesn't help the case.

Speaking of the fair and balanced media...

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Advanced meat recovery. Yumm.

Apparently the Bush administration has grown so arrogant that they no longer feel they need to lie about everything they do.

"Facing a record budget deficit, Bush administration officials say they have drafted an election-year budget that will rein in the growth of domestic spending without alienating politically influential constituencies."

That means, accoring to the Times story, reining in anything that aids the poor, veterans, and the unemployed.

"They said the president's proposed budget for the 2005 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, would control the rising cost of housing vouchers for the poor, require some veterans to pay more for health care, slow the growth in spending on biomedical research and merge or eliminate some job training and employment programs. The moves are intended to trim the programs without damaging any essential services, the administration said."

And still the deficit grows, which the Bush budget director says will reach beyond $450 billion.

The inanity of the administration's domestic "policies" are summed up in the story's last graf:

"The budget also seeks money to train more nurses, to encourage sexual abstinence among teenagers and to recruit 'volunteers in homeland security,' who can respond to emergencies, including terrorist attacks."

One place where the Bush administration is not increasing spending -- in fact, tried to zero the program out until a bipartisan outcry forced them to reluctantly maintain a starved budget for it -- is the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which provides money to help the Russians keep their thousands of nuclear weapons secure. A small nuclear device, or a dirty bomb, set off in Times Square is our most imminent security threat, but the Bush administration is spending only $451 million, or "one-tenth the annual cost of the national missile-defense program."

The issue is raised in James Traub's cover story for the Times Magazine, "Can Any Democrat Win on National Security?"

The article is important as it lays out ways in which Democrats can turn national security to their advantage by following in the tradition of Kennedy and go after Bush's right flank on the issue. "Liberal nationalism" they're calling it, using multinational institutions in our best interest on issues such as the international criminal court and fighting terrorism and its funding. It defines the positions of virtually all of the candidates, with the exception of Dennis the Menace. Even Dean. American power can be excersized in a manner that pays attention to the means, not just the ends, and in a fashion that recognizes our allies' interests while not sacrificing our own. Madeleine Albright's "The indispensible nation."

"The underlying critique offered by Democratic policy experts is that the Bush administration, for all its bluster about how 9/11 'changed everything,' has in fact not adapted to the transformed world into which it has been catapulted and is still chasing after the bad guys of an earlier era. The administration understands war, but not the new kind of multifaceted, globalized war that must be fought against a stateless entity. As Ashton B. Carter, a Defense Department official in the Clinton administration, puts it, 'We've done one thing in one place' -- or two, counting Afghanistan. What about the other things in the other places? What about diplomacy, for example? Do we have some means beyond threats of military action to induce Iran and Syria to stop sponsoring terrorists? Do we have some means of persuading the European allies to toughen judicial processes so that terrorism suspects can't walk away -- a United Nations treaty, for example?"

Unfortunately, Traub notes, the party activists, particularly in Iowa, are driving the party leftward, in the tradition of George McGovern.

"Dean may well be a nationalist liberal, but his audience members -- the activists, the students -- often are not; he is exploiting that deep discomfort with the exercise of power, the skepticism about American legitimacy that Condoleezza Rice was writing about. (A candidate who says, as Dean does, 'We're all just cogs in a big machine someplace,' is not catering to the middle.) This is the cliff that Democratic thinkers fear the party is heading over. As one Senate aide tells me, 'I don't see how a Democrat who is easy to stereotype as soft, even if it's unfair, is going to win.'"

That's why so many of us are grasping at Wesley Clark so feverishly. While I don't think his medals and Vietnam experience gives him immunity from the Rove attack machine (just ask Max Cleland what Team Rove is capable of), he does have the bona fides, unlike the former governor of Vermont.

"Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has a nightmare in which Dean wins the nomination, conditions in Iraq improve modestly and in the course of a debate, President Bush says: 'Go to Iraq and see the mass graves. Have you been, Governor Dean?' In this nightmare, Bush has been, and Dean hasn't. 'Saddam killed 300,000 people. He gassed many of these people. You mean I should have thought there were no chemical weapons in the hands of a guy who impeded our inspectors for 12 years and gassed his own people and the Iranians?' O'Hanlon glumly says that he has resigned himself to the thought that 'the Democratic base is probably going to lose the Democrats the election in 2004.'

"Strong and wrong beats weak and right -- that's the bugbear the Democrats have to contend with. George McGovern may have had it right in 1972, but he won Massachusetts, and Richard Nixon won the other 49 states. McGovern recently said that he is a big fan of Howard Dean, whose campaign reminds him very much of his own. Dean may want to ask him to hold off on the endorsement"


Packers take the lead with 2 minutes to go.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The big news today was the release of British government documents detailing Nixon's threat to "sieze oil fields in the Middle East in response to the OPEC oil embargo in 1973.

I was suprised that this was, in fact, news. Kissinger, his national security advisor, had threated to use force in 1971 in support of Israel and to counter Soviet influence. According to Richard Reeves, in his biography of Nixon, President Nixon, Alone in the White House, the administration eyed the region carefully as the next domino of the Cold War. In September 1970, "[o]n the day the last Americans left Cambodia, the administration's 'senior official,' Henry Kissinger, held a backgrounder at the White House telling reporters that Southeast Asia was no longer the nation's main foreign policy problem. The Middle East was. The rationale for that statement, spread without attribution in newspapers and on television, was direct Soviet involvement in equipping and training the armed forces of the Arab countries surrounding Israel. The American concern, Kissinger said, was no longer the sovereignty and survival of Israel but fear that Moscow was radicalizing Arab governments, particularly those of Egypt and Syria, and might be attempting to establish control over the region's oil producing countries, including American allies Saudi Arabia and Iran. The senior official went so far as to say the goal of United States policy was to 'expel' Soviets from Egypt."

Turns out Kissinger was ahead of himself and Nixon had to "clarify" Kissinger's remark, saying "expel" didn't imply the use of force (so that's where Bush learned the value of changing the definitions of words). But that certainly was the impression his administration wanted to give. Reeve's continues, "'They're testing us' was the line that Nixon and Kissinger invariably used in private in discussing the Soviet Union. The President believed that the leaders of the communist world would continually press at any point where they thought the United States might be vulnerable -- 'soft' was Nixon's word...'Being belligerent is beside the point,' he said during a July meeting about missile systems. 'The Russians, simply and only, understand conviction and strength.'"

And Nixon had always extolled the value of scaring your oppenents by your potential unpredictability in the use of massive force. The so-called "Madman Theory." In '69 he considered dropping a nuclear bomb on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Not unlike the Bush admin's view of the practicality of nuclear weapons.

Krugman's right, of course, the dems shouldn't be scripting Karl Roves's commercials for the general election. But Lieberman's gone unhinged during this campaign and Kerry is watching a lot of money, time, and expectations drifting away to a guy he thinks is an unmitigated disaster. And Dean leaves himself open to attacks with his loose tongue. I mean, how can you not scream when you hear the man saying something like this?

Repeat after me, Howard: "I want bin Laden's head on a stake. Now." Say that over and over, Howard. Let's get the big themes right the first time, without having to go back and "clarify."

And speaking of trials for mass murderers, George Packer, in the New Yorker, explains how Saddam's trial will not bring "closure" to Iraqis. Quite the opposite, as Saddam was Iraq and Iraq Saddam.

Liberal Oasis reminds us that, when it comes to special prosecutors, past results are no guarantee of future performance.

And like a voice in wilderness, E.J. Dionne pays attention to a class of people to whom no one else in the presidential campaign -- Democrat and certainly not Bush -- will.

Meanwhile, Chuck E. Cheese -- a place, mercifully, I've never experienced -- is so unrelentingly painful it's leading to a crime wave in certain parts of the country.


Okay, I don't know where I've been. Will Carroll has an excellent baseball (primarily) blog that I've just been led to (did the Yanks sign Tony Clark? What's up with Vlad?). I say "primarily," because his purview seems pretty wide. For instance, he pointed me to a really wild piece of information -- artificial intelligence constructs that run away
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