The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, October 04, 2003


The Oakland Tribune has retracted its endorsement of Arnold Schwarzenegger in part 2 of the recall election.
GIVEN the accusations of sexual abuse leveled against Arnold Schwarzenegger by six women and his disingenuous admission to such behavior, we strongly reconfirm that our readers vote "no" on the recall, but can no longer recommend they cast their 'if-not-Davis-then' vote for Schwarzenegger.

As stated in our initial recommendation on Sunday, "none of the ... candidates still in the race fit our ideal criteria for governor." Although deeply divided on the second part of the ballot question, the ANG Newspapers editorial board initially recommended voting for Mr. Schwarzenegger because of his perceived leadership ability and blend of moderate social and conservative fiscal stands.

Although allegations of his abusive and disrespectful behavior toward women had surfaced earlier, the latest revelations reported in the Los Angeles Times and Schwarzenegger's convenient, but seemingly insincere admission that "I have behaved badly sometimes," alienates a significant proportion of the state's population, male and female.

It indicates a pattern of recurring abuse and boorish behavior that in different circumstances could have led to assault charges. By no stretch of the imagination can his groping and grabbing on "rowdy movie sets" be dismissed as an isolated incident.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has displayed a pattern of such behavior spanning three decades. Called a "sexual harasser" by one female and a "predator" by others, we can no longer in good conscience recommend him for governor.

The doubt these incidents raise about Mr. Schwarzenegger's character, in our opinion, lowers public confidence in the actor-turned-politician as a candidate for our state's top elected office and compromises his ability to govern if elected.
It remains to really be seen how much of an effect the multitude of recent Arnold revelations will have on the voting public. Nevertheless, its effect has spilled over into the editorial board of one of our state's more prominent news organizations.

The reason most other major CA newspapers haven't retracted Arnold endorsements is, simply, that they didn't support him in the first place. I really can't believe that the Trib did in the first place. An Oakland paper supporting Arnold? Wow. Think about it: Arnold has acted in movies where he portrayed a member of an intelligence organization not unlike the CIA (True Lies, for example). The CIA was virtually single-handedly responsible for the crack epidemic in America, which has profoundly screwed up . . . Oakland.

Anyway, good for the Trib, and no on recall.

I parse Kaus.

Scroll to 6:27 pm, 10/3.
Chum in the Water: Overnight polls show Arnold Schwarzenegger even gaining one or two percentage points since the LAT's grope allegations.
No, that's an overnight poll. Singular.

Not only that, but it comes from that hotspot of impartiality in California, representative of the whole state's political views: San Diego.

And doesn't solve anything.
HAIFA, Israel, Oct. 4 -- At least 19 people were killed today when a suspected Palestinian suicide bomber set off an explosion inside a landmark beachfront restaurant packed with a lunch crowd at the start of a long holiday weekend, according to Israeli police, who said they believe the bomber was a woman.

The bombing at the Maxim restaurant, which is co-owned by Arab and Jewish families, renewed debate among Israeli officials over whether to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and underscored questions about the effectiveness of a fence Israel is building to separate the West Bank and Israel. The northwestern section of the fence east of Haifa has been completed.

"The view you see here is very horrifying," said Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, standing several yards from the gutted restaurant, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea on the edge of this northern Israeli port city. "This restaurant was a microcosm of Haifa society -- Jews, Christians and Arabs worked together in this restaurant for many years. The suicide bomber tried to jeopardize the co-existence we've worked so hard to build up."

The bombing, which injured at least 50 people, was the fourth in Haifa since the Palestinian uprising against Israel began three years ago. Fifteen people died in a bombing at the Matza restaurant in the city 18 months ago, and 32 people were killed in two separate bus attacks, the most recent six months ago.

"The restaurant was full," Col. Danny Kuffler, northern district commander of the Israeli National Police said describing today's attack. "The bomber passed the security guard at the entrance, went inside, turned on the explosive device and all the restaurant exploded."

"It's a very major disaster," he said. "We're still counting bodies. I saw some families that lost two or three people."
What in the world does this accomplish? Every day, I wait for one side in this conflict to be the bigger side and rise above the endless cycle of violence and retaliatory violence. I'm still waiting.

That said, I am highly skeptical of the idea that expelling (or even martyring) Arafat is going to help the situation; I don't think he has much control over many of these acts. Besides, Arafat is, for the most part, a secular nationalist, while Islamic Jihad is, well, not a secular organization. And also, this even should underscore to Israel the fact that their security fence has little to no chance of curbing attacks but is likely to incite even more, especially considering the fence was built hundreds of feet on the Palestinian side of the official border, consituting a devious land-grab.

Nevertheless, when attacks are aimed at centers of cooperation, that makes me really upset. All relevant parties must condemn this.
Drudge links to this story and harps:
CONTROVERSY: Texas A&M Gives Ted Kennedy 'Bush Award for Public Service'; Kennedy recently accused the current President of 'fraud' and 'bribery' in the liberation of Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein...
I have the strangest feeling that the award in question is named after George HERBERT Walker Bush. But maybe that's just me. Especially since College Station is where 41's Prez Library is, and that's who's giving out the award.

Well, perhaps Dubya will someday have a library of his own. One wonders if he'll stock it with any books beyond the level of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Friday, October 03, 2003


GOP strategist K. B. Forbers has some harsh words on Ahhnuld.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has become the poster child for the newest form of trash politics: a political system so corrupt and undemocratic that a compulsive sexual deviant was anointed the de facto nominee by California GOP bosses in a smoke-free backroom.

How much did Schwarzenegger's campaign team know about his egregious sexual behavior? Did they intentionally attempt to conceal this pattern of sexual harassment from voters? Did leaders of the California Republican Party look the other way in their desperation to win back the governorship?

In an era in which a candidate's first order of business is to hire an opposition research specialist to investigate his own past, it's hard to imagine that this was overlooked.

What Schwarzenegger's boosters in the GOP establishment fail to understand is that this is not about an old extramarital affair or someone's sex life from years past. This is worse. This is the story of a guy who rode the elevator, groping a woman on the way up, and who is now about to get off on the top floor: the governor's office.

Simply put, Schwarzenegger is unfit to be governor.

GOP leaders playing trash politics attempted to fool the voters — including many conservatives in their own party — by hiding the candidate's three-decade sickness and now by obscuring the line between his personal sex life and his nonconsensual sexual groping of women.

But he's been exposed. The victims of Schwarzenegger's harassing, if not criminal behavior, had the courage to expose his actions and possibly help save the GOP from making the wrong choice.

For the victims' sake, California voters must now unite and, next Tuesday, vote for anyone but Schwarzenegger.
Keep in mind that Forbes' previous gig was with Bill Simon's campaign. Simon, while he had ethical problems of his own, at least held the belief that breasts are private property.

Not sure what will come of this one, but McClintock has to like it.
"Rush Limbaugh"
"An evil alternate universe"

Looks like it was Tom Jackson who got Limbaugh out.

Gubernatorial candidate H. Ross Tom McClintock doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the replacement election (thank Jeebus), and even if he did, there's virtually no chance that a spending-cuts-alone strategy would fix California's budget situation.

But from the looks of it, McClintock has jumped on the Davis For President bandwagon, if such a thing exists.

On Tom's campaign website, you can send an e-card. Take a look, he won't mind if I post it here, and if he does, I'll tax him:

Now's a good time to state the obvious.

1) Bill lost a general election in 1980 (by a small margin, no less), not a right-wing power grab where 20% could be enough to win.
2) Bill responded by winning the next FIVE elections in Arkansas, and then he went on to win something else twice. Gee, what was that again? Oh, yeah.

Well, at least Tom is still anti-firefighters. Hopefully my berating him wont cause him to drop out. We love you Tom!
a Facts Machine exclusive!

Attention, recall replacement candidates: Here's your chance for some real face time on a network afiliate in a huge market!

On thursday, October 2nd, FOX11 (LA's Fox network afiliate), aired two Simpsons reruns after the completion of the New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins baseball playoff game. The latter of the two episodes was 1999's "Grift of the Magi", in which Springfield Elementary is taken over by a toy company that enlists the students help to design the perfect toy for Christmas, the creepy "Funzo":

BUT... that episode also featured a significant, credited appearance by actor and GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE Gary Coleman.

Because Coleman is running for governor, this appearance, far exceeding four seconds in length, should set off the FCC's equal time rules for candidates. From an August 13 AP article on the matter:
Arnold Schwarzenegger's foray into California's gubernatorial recall election poses a dilemma for broadcasters who might be tempted to show his films during the race: Doing so would allow rival candidates to demand equal time.

For that reason, broadcasters in California will likely not air Schwarzenegger movies such as "Total Recall" and the "Terminator" or a repeat of a "Diff'rent Strokes" episode with Gary Coleman for the next few months.

Cable channels are not covered by the Federal Communications Commission's equal-time provision, which in the past kept reruns of "Death Valley Days" off the air while Ronald Reagan ran for president. A repeat of a "Saturday Night Live" episode featuring Don Novello, aka Father Guido Sarducci, on cable, for instance, would not trigger the provision.

Novello, Schwarzenegger, Coleman and more than 240 other candidates have filed to run in the Oct. 7 election to recall Gov. Gray Davis. The equal-time rule kicks in on Wednesday, when the state is expected to officially certify the list of candidates.

The major networks do not have a Schwarzenegger movie scheduled over the next two months, but local stations can make their own decisions about what to air.
In a post in August (stupid archive isn't working), I warned California network afiliates about this, but did they listen? Oops.

But the equal time rule isn't mandatory. From the AP article:
Equal time is not automatic. Candidates must file a request within seven days, and the provision makes exceptions for appearances on news programs, interview programs such as "Meet the Press," documentaries or spot coverage of news events.
Coleman played himself on the episode, and was prominently credited. Not to mention, he had some memorable lines ("six prawns is hardly a galaxy!") The episode was viewed by an unusually large audience because it followed a playoff baseball game. Despite the fact that he's animated, it's clearly him, and this should be enough to set off the FCC equal time rule.

Time to notify some candidates!

(shh, don't tell them, TFM's motivation is to get more and more fringe candidates on the air, to make this whole recall seem more and more circus-like, thereby turning people off to it)

Hmm, where should I go first? McClintock? Georgy? Michael Jackson? (no, not that one)

(maybe georgy, given her close relationship with Gary, hehe)

By the way, if you live in another area in California, and have spotted the Gary Coleman Simpsons episode (and I think there's actually others too), email TFM, or notify your candidate of choice! That includes Davis, who probably could use the rule even though he's not a replacement candidate.

Thursday, October 02, 2003


Well, to sum up the Arnold-related revelations of the day: "Breasts good, Hitler better".


ABC News has the story:
Yet even as he tried to put out that fire, another broke out.

ABCNEWS obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a verbatim transcript of an interview Schwarzenegger gave in 1975 while making the film Pumping Iron.

Asked who his heroes are, he answered, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."
Okay, we'll see how this plays out.

Saint Ralph Nader, he of the hundreds of thousands invested in the oil/walmart/defense-rich Fidelity Magellan Fund, is pondering a run for president as a Republican in progressive's clothing Green again.
Ralph Nader said Thursday he will wait until the end of the year to decide on another run for the White House. First, he wants to see how the Democrats and Republicans respond to his agenda.

The consumer activist plans to send the parties, in the next few weeks, his blueprint on the need for universal health insurance, a more progressive wage policy and an aggressive crackdown on corporate fraud and abuse.

"The highest priority is to defeat President George W. Bush and his administration, which is running this country into the ground," Nader said at a news conference. (emphasis tfm)
Well, Ralphie, if you really believe that, then you know what to do.

By the way, Ralph, take a look at Howard Dean. He's raised 25 million dollars this year, from hundreds of thousands of individual donors, with the average donation in the double digits. George W Bush has dinner-fundraisers where 500 people pay $2000 each, and he walks out with a million dollars. Now, tell me there's no difference between the parties.

Bustamante dropping out? I have no idea if this would actually happen.

From a California Politics Review piece:
Lt Gov. Cruz Bustamante is “highly likely” to drop out of the race to replace Gov. Gray Davis tomorrow barring a last minute change of mind, according to a Sacramento source close to the lieutenant governor’s campaign.

As panic over a looming Republican capture of the governor’s office has spread from the Davis camp through the ranks of Democrat elected officials and donors, Bustamante has been subjected to enormous pressure to withdraw his candidacy. Top level Democrats believe Bustamante now has no hope of overtaking Arnold Schwarzenegger on the candidate portion of the ballot, and that he is, in fact, sinking so fast he could finish third, behind both Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock.

Many Democrats now believe their only chance of retaining the governor’s office is to defeat the recall. They hope Bustamante’s withdrawal will convince enough of the 27 to 30 percent of registered Democrats now supporting the recall to change their minds once they see no chance of replacing an ousted Davis with another Democrat.
Well, I don't think that Cruz would end up that far down.

As many have pointed out before, Davis has thrived as a campaigner in the past by essentially saying "hey, look at the alternative". If you're a Democrat but you don't particularly like Davis--and there are a lot of those--and you see Bustamante, a prominent state Democrat who's not Davis, and is Hispanic, that's a pretty good alternative. But without a prominent Democrat on the replacement ballot (and after what he almost did to last year's election, Camejo's not going to get a lot of Dem support), Davis looks pretty darn good next to the alternatives, namely a groping 'roiding gangbanger airhead, and a far-right-wing anti-tax anti-choice maniac.

What about Cruz and the Hispanic vote? I don't know. He polls very well with the demographic, naturally. What I wonder is, how many of them would vote for the recall, in the interest of getting a Hispanic governor in California? If Bustamante takes himself off the table, the the result of voting for the recall would be a governor Arnold, with his support for Prop 187 and with Pete Wilson on his campaign staff. Then again, with Cruz telling everybody to vote against the recall wherever he goes, I'm not sure how many of his supporters would actually vote for Davis' ouster.

I'll keep thinking about this. But if Cruz does drop out, that would alter the dynamics of the situation significantly.

The one big positive of Cruz having stayed in the race thus far is that, practically by himself, he's assured the defeat of Prop 54.

(link via political wire)

Now this is a good angle for Gray.
Arnold Schwarzenegger may have charged into a dead-end canyon by vowing to repeal an increase in California's so-called car tax, which just so happens to be a major funding source for police and fire protection in the city.

Almost immediately after Schwarzenegger promised this week to void a three-fold jump in the state's vehicle licensing fee, Democrats rounded up a bevy of police chiefs and firefighters for a news conference to warn that public safety faced a devastating hit should the $4.2 billion in additional fees fail to materialize.

"Public safety can easily eat up three-quarters of a city's general-fund budget," noted Rick TerBorch, chief of police in Arroyo Grande and the president of the California Police Chiefs Association.

"Given the extent that VLF funds local general funds -- 14 (percent to) 40 percent on average -- a cut in the VLF would be devastating."
Sounds like a number of firemen might end up being thrown into Boston Harbor along with the tea of California conservatives, so to speak.

Is it bad that this might get lost in the whole T&Ator hoopla? Actually I kinda like it, it certainly makes Gray look pretty good focusing on this.

No matter what happens, the next 5 days will be mighty ugly.

And from the looks of it, Davis hit the right note in his reaction to the groping story:
"I would just rather leave this matter to the voters of this state. They will digest it. They will decide what importance to attach to it. And they will decide what impact it has on the choices before them next Tuesday.

"I've been saying (that) one thing has become clear over the last several days ... we no longer have 135 choices to make. It's really one choice that's likely to emerge from (ballot) question number 2: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"And that leaves the voters with a clear choice. They can retain Gray Davis as governor or they can elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and his crew from (former Gov.) Pete Wilson to run the governor's office.

"That's the choice they'll have to make. I'm sure they'll make it fairly, to determine who's best qualified to lead this state."
Though you can see how Bustamante is completely forgotten in all of this.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A senior European cardinal said on Thursday Pope John Paul was nearing death -- the latest top churchman to ring alarm bells about the state of the 83-year old pontiff's health.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn made his comments on the same day the pope's private secretary was trying to play down concerns about the pope's evident frailty.

Pope John Paul, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and can no longer walk without help, has appeared weaker than normal in recent public appearances and has struggled to speak at times.

"The whole world is experiencing a pope who is sick, handicapped and dying -- I don't know how close to death he is -- who is approaching the last days and months of his life," Schoenborn told Austrian radio. (full story)
Now I'm no fan of organized religion, certainly not of Catholicism, which is *the* organized religion. But Pope John Paul II has been a pretty good guy over the years, particularly once you adjust for all the no-sex-before-marriage and no-abortion stuff. His interfaith efforts have been thoroughly admirable (his visits to the Orthodox-dominated Greece, and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, among others), and if his days are truly coming to an end, he will be missed.

I consider myself something of a thorn in Mickey Kaus' side, as I apparently helped nominate the Slate blogger as Whore of the Year at MWO. Hehe, how self-aggrandizing I can be, I'm really quite modest. Anyway...

Mickey recently chastised Arianna for offering up four supposedly differing views on the recall through the course of her campaign.

He discussed the "T&Ator" story in this morning's LAT today. Is he prepared, then, two mention Arnold's four different responses to the story . . . in one day!?!?

Well, at least he's showing some form of indignation about this... though pointing out that some Dems have done similar things misses the point by several touchdowns.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


From the LA Times: Arnold Schwarzenegger, breast-groper, ass-grabber, swimsuit-remover, wall-pinner, vagina-smeller, non-consensual lap-dance recipient, and salad tosser.

If only this would actually make a difference in voters' minds. This stuff makes Clinton appear downright Papal.
Bye, Rush!

Wow, that' was fast.

I'm not going to engage my self-described "moderate Democrat" PS 121 professor on his wholly ignorant screed against the late Edward Said right now, as I don't have a full bottle of Tylenol in my immediate vicinity, nor anything to break of moderate value. (though my question is, what kind of "moderat Democrat" links approvingly to the National Review, FrontPage Magazine and the California frickin' Patriot, all in the same paragraph???)

But I will dispense with one little morsel of BS for the time being.

Halfway through his long post, Dr Gordon writes:
Increasingly, Said's grudges and resentments --- not least aimed at the US --- began to unhinge his mind. Last April, he wrote that
"In the US, the hardening of attitudes, the tightening of the grip of demeaning generalization and triumphalist cliché, the dominance of crude power allied with simplistic contempt for dissenters and 'others,' has found a fitting correlative in the looting, pillaging and destruction of Iraq's libraries and museums." See Christopher Hitchens [yes, he even links to Hitch! -tfm]
When you see such wild stuff, you can only rub your eyes and wonder about the sanity of the man saying it. After all, it was Iraqis who looted the libraries and museums of their country last April, not Americans; and for that matter, after all the hullabaloo, it turned out the looting itself was restricted in scope, with about 40 artifacts not found or returned. [emphasis tfm's]
Oh really?

Because right now, I'm looking at a David Filipov article from last wednesday's Boston Globe, about the returning of the "Sumerian Mona Lisa" to the National Museum in Baghdad, and it says this (found through Lexis Nexis, otherwise you're paying $2.95 for the article at the Globe website):
The hauntingly expressive alabaster mask, largely unscathed despite months of being passed around by shady art thieves and smugglers, came home thanks to a joint Iraqi-American operation that led two investigators from New York to its hiding place in a shallow grave at a farm outside Baghdad.

But as Iraqi culture officials expressed relief at the discovery of this important piece of the world's artistic legacy, they acknowledged the daunting task they faced in finding the thousands of precious items still missing. A thriving smuggling market threatens to ensure that many of the pieces will end up in the hands of international traders, a devastating loss as the world-renowned museum struggles to reopen.

In the final days of the war, looters broke into the museum and stole or vandalized thousands of artifacts from the ancient Mesopotamian kingdoms of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon, the first civilizations to develop a written language, codify laws, and study the stars.

The day the US-led forces occupied Baghdad, the museum saw an orgy of art theft reminiscent of a medieval sacking, prompting worldwide criticism of the American military for not stopping the looters. US investigators believe at least some of the thieves had inside information about where the most important pieces were being stored. One Iraqi art smuggler said American soldiers were among his many customers trying to cash in on the sale of the relics.

Five months later, much of the museum is still a battered wreck of deserted galleries, smashed and empty exhibit cases, and cracked marble staircases.

Museum officials and American investigators estimate that more than 10,000 artifacts remain missing, though a worldwide recovery effort has turned up 3,500 pieces. [emphases all mine!]
Whoops! He's a professor, he could have Lexis Nexis'd that baby in a heartbeat. I'm sitting in the library of his own damn school right now, and I did it! He bought the line from the right-wing echo chamber, hook line sinker etc.

With this in mind, I'm quite happy that the TA's are reading the papers and exams.

Professor InstaHack links to this story from the Hindustan Times, saying that Kuwaiti security foiled an attempt by some people to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical and biological warheads from Iraq.

Here is the entire text of that article:
Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Wednesday.

The pro-Government Al-Siyassah, quoting an unnamed security source, said the suspects had been watched by security since they arrived in Kuwait and were arrested "in due time." It did not say when or how the smugglers entered Kuwait or when they were arrested.

The paper said the smugglers might have had accomplices inside Kuwait. It said Interior Minister Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah would hand over the smuggled weapons to an FBI agent at a news conference, but did not say when.

Government officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Iraqi Interior Minister Nouri Al-Badran met on Tuesday with Sheik Nawwaf and discussed cooperation between the two countries in security matters. His visit is the first by an Iraqi interior minister to Kuwait since 1990.
Ah yes, the smugglers, the two countries, the security ministers, the interior ministers. Everything seems accounted for. Except, uh, what became of the weapons? If this were true, wouldn't that have been the thrust of our concern here, particularly of the AP writer on the story?

Only, from the looks of it, the weapons didn't exist. There are precisely two possibilities here:

1) This is a BS story made up in Kuwait. Remember, Kuwait is on our list of "dictatorships we like", and they'd love the chance to kiss our govt's butt, after we kissed theirs by leaving their dictatorship in place after liberating them in 91.
2) There actually was a plot by some smugglers to take weapons out of Iraq into Kuwait... only the smugglers were as clueless about finding the actual weapons as David Kay is. This is the "Put the sarin before the horse" explanation.

Either way, file this story next to the 35 pounds of uranium and the mobile weapons labs.

Awwwww. Poor Rushy-poo.

All I'll say is this: Hey man, it was your choice to step out of the conservative hate-ring and do mainstream sports commentary. That's what you get. And nobody was gonna pounce on you before you said something stupid and racist in your new venue.

And by the way, Rush, if you want a real sports opinion: The Eagles haven't done shit in the last few years to give McNabb anything remotely resembling help on offense, particularly in the receiving corps and the running game. John Elway didn't win a championship until Terrell Davis came along. But I guess it's easier to just be a racist prick.
Fred Kaplan of Slate has some very interesting excerpts from Wesley Clark's new book, Winning Modern Wars, including one that uncovers the beginnings of the post-9/11 PNAC plan:
As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. … He said it with reproach—with disbelief, almost—at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either.
Yikes! And this was while we were still working on Afghanistan . . . which we still haven't got right!

Anyway, read the rest of the excerpts, and you'll really begin to understand why A) so many people have been having wet dreams about a Wesley Clark candidacy, and B) Clark should be on the national ticket somehow anyway. I'd suggest he keeps talking like this.
Marshall posts a 2nd straight day of tough, albeit obvious, questions for Press Secretary McClellan. The latter half of his excerpt tells us all we need to know about George W Bush's seriousness in matters of classified information and national security, let alone FELONIOUS ACTIVITY IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

San Jose Mercury News:
The recall is no solution to the state's budget crisis, no solution for struggling schools, and no solution -- quite the opposite -- for the poisonous partisanship that prevents the Legislature from finding solutions on issues from energy to health care.

The seven months of paid-for signature-gathering, partisan ma- neuvering, legal hair-splitting and political campaigning since then have made the recall look even worse.

Californians should vote ``no'' on the recall.

The recall is wrongheaded even though Gray Davis has been a mediocre governor. The indictment against him is familiar: budget mismanagement, perpetual fundraising, a personality that not only distances him from the voters but also limits his effectiveness with the Legislature.

The indictment fails to mention that Davis has championed major increases in education funding, protection for the environment, and a hard line against crime -- all of which are priorities Californians tell pollsters they endorse.

But even if all of the charges against Davis are true, they don't add up to a case for dumping him mid-term. After all, the federal budget is in trouble, and Republicans are aggressive fundraisers as well.
Los Angeles Times:
If state voters are to throw out a governor less than one year into his term, the replacement should be demonstrably superior. This field of contenders offers no such person. Changing the governor in midstream would not address what really ails California state and local governments; the recall of Davis instead would invite more political chaos and economic uncertainty. Worse, the state and the nation could look forward to more recalls pushed by poor losers who simply didn't want to wait for the end of a four-year term. The vituperative, scorched-earth politics of partisan payback would be never ending.

The recall is a form of misdirected anger at what's wrong with Sacramento. Here's what causes most of California's dysfunction: illogical tax laws and policies; gerrymandering; term limits, which take power from the elected and hand power to the lobbyists; a political system fueled by big business and big union cash; and, yes, ill-considered ballot initiatives and recall elections. As soon as this recall is over, voters finally can collectively concentrate on ridding Sacramento of the real causes of the state's problems. Recall might feel good, but it would cause the worst political hangover California has ever had.
San Francisco Chronicle:
The first and most important question on the Oct. 7 ballot is whether the case has been made that the governor has engaged in malfeasance, impropriety, blatant deception or other misconduct so egregious that his immediate removal has become imperative.

It has not. The imperfections in Gray Davis that have been highlighted in this campaign were known and aired when he defeated Republican Bill Simon one year ago.

The speedy timeline of the recall has not diminished its potential damaging impact on California's future, in which a political neophyte could be chosen to instantly take the reins of a nation-state whose economy is vital to the rest of the world. If anything, it has lowered the standard for electing public officials, since, according to public opinion polls, many voters have embraced the "throw the bums out'' mentality that ignited the recall process this summer...

That chaos has swirled around the recall process from day one shouldn't surprise anyone - since it invites disorder. If Davis is ousted, his successor will have almost no time to set up an appropriate transition team to ease the transfer of power. It could take several weeks to count all the ballots, assuming there aren't the type of election snafus that were the target of numerous lawsuits to delay the recall. And of course, if the recall is successful, it has the potential of being used and abused more often in the future, essentially creating a new growth industry for campaign consultants. Clearly, if an ambitious pol like Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, can change the balance of California's politics for less than $2 million, there are many more potential powerbrokers with deep pockets who might want to take a crack at removing the governor's successor.

The recall has made a freak show of the state's political process at a time when California needs serious, thoughtful and bold leadership. It may be great entertainment - and appears to have raised voter interest in politics, at least for the moment - but it does not solve any of the state's problems.
Sacramento Bee:
But all the things that the recall's supporters hold against him -- the power companies' gouging of consumers in the 2000 electricity crisis, his inability to drive an ideologically divided Legislature to workable budget solutions, his perpetual fund-raising -- are things voters knew about him when they reelected Davis less than a year ago.

And the good things remain the same, too. Davis is still the governor who has sharply boosted school spending. He's the one who pushed and defended, often over the opposition of the teachers unions, an agenda of school reform and accountability that is boosting student achievement around the state. He has supported and signed important progressive legislation protecting HMO patients, borrowers, car buyers, nursing home patients and children that the Republicans vying to replace him would likely have vetoed. On issues involving women's and civil rights, the environment, crime, abortion and health, he has consistently spoken and acted in line with the views of the majority of citizens.

And he has offered (albeit belatedly) hard but specific proposals, including tax increases and spending cuts, for closing the state's budget gap. He should have offered this unpalatable but necessary plan sooner and fought harder to sell it, but none of the other major candidates has come as close to telling Californians that they can't have something for nothing...

We said it before and it's still true: A real political leader knows where he or she wants to go, and has the courage to make the case to voters. Schwarzenegger has bombed his audition. He has given voters little reason to believe he knows the answers to California's problems, let alone to believe that he is the answer.

Having endured this distraction from the real business of governing, we would like to be able to say that California could get stronger leadership out of the recall. We can't. With no chance to trade up, the argument of pragmatism reinforces the argument of principle that a recall driven by partisanship is bad for California.
Modesto Bee (9/28 through lexis-nexis, cant find the link, though you can try too):
We do not see the recall as the way to solve California's problems. And we do not see a replacement candidate deserving this paper's endorsement.

We're not big fans of Davis. We held our nose and endorsed his re-election bid last fall only because, in our view, the alternatives were worse.

The governor is better known for his fund-raising than working with a divided Legislature to achieve budget solutions. He wasn't honest about the severity of the state budget crisis. And he continues to cater to public employee unions and Indian gaming tribes.

But Davis alone cannot be blamed for the mess California is in. Legislators, who were cutting deals in the middle of the night, bear a large part of the responsibility. So do voters, who have approved referendum after referendum in the last 25 years, dictating the use of tax money and therefore tying the hands of legislators.

Davis has good points. He sharply boosted school spending and, over the opposition of the teachers' union, pushed and defended an agenda of school reform and accountability. On issues involving women's and civil rights, the environment, crime, abortion and health, he has consistently spoken and acted in line with the majority of citizens.

The governor has come to recognize the special challenges facing the valley. He has appointed effective Cabinet members, such as Modestan Bill Lyons as secretary of agriculture, and he has given top priority to the University of California at Merced, a project that is crucial to the improvement of education and the economy of the valley.

Remember, too, that we had our chance to give the governor the heave-ho only 11 months ago. Despite Davis' record of mistakes and shortcomings, voters saw strengths and sent him back to Sacramento for another four years.

So here we are, less than a year later, being asked if we want to change our mind, kick Davis out of office and replace him with someone else.

Again, we say no.

Now the LA Times has a new poll out.
A solid majority of likely voters favors removing Gov. Gray Davis from office in the recall election Tuesday, and Arnold Schwarzenegger has surged ahead of his rivals in the race to succeed him, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

By 56% to 42%, likely voters support ousting the Democratic incumbent, a sign that Davis has lost ground in the closing phase of his battle for political survival. Support for Davis has slipped among key parts of his political base — Democrats, women, moderates and liberals among them — since the last Times poll in early September found 50% for the recall and 47% against it.
It now looks as if the 9th Circuit drama from a couple weeks ago hurt Davis in that it stifled his apparent momentum.

The poll seems to confirm the trends hinted at in the Gallup poll that came out a few days prior, namely that support for the recall is holding (though Gallup has it holding in the mid-60s, rather than the mid-50s here).

Also, Arnold has taken the lead over Bustamante, 40-32. Not an insurmountable lead, mind you, but enough for the Davis camp to essentially write off Cruz's chances and frame the remainder of the campaign as Davis vs. Ahhnuld. I sure hope Arnold passing Cruz has something to do with Bustamante's relatively passive campaign style. Because if it has to do with the public thinking Arnold "won" that debate with his scripted nonsense and sexism, then I'm off to Reno.

Arianna's departure from the race seems aimed equally at rallying support around Davis and Cruz, possibly tilting toward Gray. Now if only she could get Camejo to do the same thing. It's easier for Arianna to drop out, because she doesn't have a specific party apparatus behind her pressuring her to stay in, as Camejo's Green Party supporters would. Though I do think that Camejo is on record as saying something to the effect of "I'm against the recall, and I'll understand if you vote for Bustamante". Plus, in the debates, Arianna was much more combative with Cruz than Camejo was.

I'm not sure what to make of the LAT's finding that 7% of Democrats support McClintock.

Going back to Gray vs Arnold . . . I really wonder what the dynamics of this recall election would have been if no prominent Democrat had entered the race. Davis would have been able to focus on Arnold right from the start, and we wouldn't have seen the shaky relationship between Gray and Cruz highlighted for so long. On the other hand, the liberal contingent of voters in the 2nd question would have moved more to Huffington and Camejo, and they might have been more emboldened to attack Davis if they had more support. See, these what-if games are complicated.

Davis is absolutely flooding the airwaves with commercials, chipping away at Arnold however he can. It's anybody's guess how this will pan out next week.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis demanding jobs set cars ablaze and threw stones on Wednesday while local security forces responded with gunfire to disperse protests reflecting frustration at the parlous state of the postwar economy.

Violence erupted at demonstrations in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul on the day occupying authorities in Iraq sought to launch a new era of normality with the start of the first school year since Saddam Hussein's downfall.

In central Baghdad, several dozen protesters looking for work at a U.S.-backed local security force hurled stones at the building. Flames and black smoke poured from a police car and a civilian vehicle while gunfire echoed around the area.

Members of a crowd of several thousand threw stones at an employment office in Mosul. Some chanted support for Saddam.

"I need a salary now -- I've been out of work since the war," said Ayid Khalid, 24, a former builder. (full story)
I guess all we have to do now is sit back, and wait patiently for the WSJ editorial page to tell those Iraqi jobless just how lucky they are.

(link via hesiod)

Let me try this one more time.

IT DOESN'T MATTER what Joe Wilson is or says or does. Nothing can change the fact that two top white house officials committed felonies.

Of course, those thousand dollars Wilson gave to George W Bush in 1999 don't matter either.

(or, "oh god, he's gonna gush about Dean again...")

I thought that it was the best one-on-one appearance he's made in the entire campaign. Dig these highlights:
1) Leno took the first couple minutes to ask Dean a number of biographical questions, allowing Dean to talk more about his experience, both as a child of Republicans (attending the 64 Goldwater convention) and as a doctor. So far, he's made it on taking bold stances and keeping the heat on the Bush administration; he hasn't yet begun to tap into his image as a doctor, which could be his ace in the hole. People trust doctors. Particularly a doctor who chooses someone with big-time national security cred as their running mate, which he would certainly do. My point is that Leno's audience is pretty centrist, and Dean's doctordom is going to play a part in his playing towards the center should he become the Democratic nominee.

2) Though he didn't bring up many political issues, he did get in his "I served as governor through both Bush recessions" line. I think that Dean didn't want to come off as combative and angry on the show, and in that regard he succeeded.

3) He pointed out that one of the Tonight Show staff, "Vicky", gave money to his campaign. A quick perusal of Leno's staff page suggests that this referred to executive producer Debbie Vickers.

4) He's "embarassingly cheap". Just like me! ("that's why I'm a fiscal conservative", says Dean)

5) And most importantly for a show like this, he and Leno had some fun together. While talking about fundraising, Leno introduced a clip of Dean's "unusual" fundraising: Dean was shown standing on a sidewalk, sleeves rolled up, clumsily playing a guitar, next to an open guitar case with signs reading "Will strum for presidency" and "Your change for real change". Ha! Leno followed this up with a clip from a Who concert, with Dean's face superimposed over Pete Townshend.
All in all, an admirable effort. One silly question: Was the guitar thing poking fun at John Kerry's guitar stunt with Moby and the Springsteen cover band last month? I doubt it, as Dean doesn't need to think about Kerry ever again, really.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Make sure you don't miss Dr/Gov Howard Dean on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Hopefully he'll say something about Traitorgate. But it seems he'll also have in excess of $15 million in Q3 money to trumpet. zounds!

Julian Borger of the Guardian says that some in DC are privately saying it was Karl Rove who leaked the Plame name. Now, this is preliminary, and as Kos rightly points out, this could be based partially on Wilson's statement from a while ago. If true, of course, then that opens up a whole mess o' worms:

--Rove gets the ax, most likely
--Rove advises Bush, by phone, until
--Rove is tried and convicted for his crime
--Rove advises Bush, by prison pay-phone, a priveledge he earns at the pen by doing barely-speakable things, until
--Bush pardons Rove

Let the madness resume.
Here's today's Krugman on how the reconstruction of Iraq amounts to little more than a new spoils system.

Yes, this is the end for the Brendan-featuring group music blog known as the Jazz Police.

We changed the name.

Given that there are six of us, we spent a week racking our brains, trying to think of a clever pop-music-related title including the number six. And we decided to look to everyone's favorite left-handed guitarist from Seattle (no, not you, Kurt) . . . Jimi Hendrix.

So henceforth, our music blog shall be known as:
If Six Was Nine
Please adjust links, bookmarks, etc accordingly. As will I on the left side of this blog.

Keep checking back there for all kinds of music info (my latest is a review of A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step), and stay tuned for a stylish masthead featuring half of my head (!), created by blogger/Squelcher Rebecca Brown.

I'm amazed. With 12.5 hours left in the day, it looks like the Dean campaign has a serious shot at reaching their goal of raising five million in ten days. That would put their Q3 fundraising numbers at $15 million. And it's unclear as to how much of the bat money represents non-internet donations and all, so the actual number could be higher, surpassing even $16 mil.

I'm pretty sure those ten dollars of mine had a lot to do with it. (hehe)

Monday, September 29, 2003


Instead of maintaining a seperate sports blog, I'm just gonna lay out my MLB playoff predictions here.
AL Division Series:
Red Sox over A's in 5
Yankees over Twins in 5

NL Division Series:
Giants over Marlins in 3
Cubs over Braves in 4

Red Sox over Yankees in 7

Giants over Cubs in 6

World Series:
Giants over Red Sox in 7
There you have it. And if you're one of those baseball "insiders" picking a Cubs-RedSox series, let me say, I know it's a lovely thought, but keep dreaming. Eighty-plus years of consistency can't be wrong. Go Giants!

Marshall, who's on a roll, finds that Bob Novak has, um, tweaked his story a bit about his source.
To Drudge, Novak, etc:

I really don't see, at all, how Joe Wilson having worked for Clinton and giving money to Kerry has anything to do with the fact that two senior White House officials leaked the name of a CIA operative to a number of journalists, including you, Novakula. And Wilson didn't just work for Clinton, by the way. (link via atrios)

At least two of the top eight are going down over this.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has some exclusive info that Novak is fibbing now by saying that he thought Plame was just an "analyst" and not an "operative". No cigar, guys. Josh also has this line that effectively sums up the attempts on the right to spin the Bushies outta this one:
This mumbo-jumbo is the best they can come up with.

As the lawyers say, when the facts are on your side, bang the facts. When the law's on your side, bang the law. When you've got neither, bang the table.

When you don't even got a table, it would seem, you bang yourself.
Heh. Indeed. Heh.

And if you scroll down Marshall's site, we see some very sensible deductive reasoning applied to Press Secretary McClellan's remark that President Bush "...knows [Rove] wasn't involved". Acutally, just in general, go to his site for updates from now on, cut out the middleman, namely me.

Many in the media are trying to put Dean and Clark into some sort of historical context. It's either "Dean is McGovern, only now we have someone to save the party from him", or "Dean is Eugene McCarthy while Clark is RFK", and so on.

This is just laziness on the media's part, a desire to piggyback whatever's happening on to an old storyline.

Problem for the media, and Bush for that matter, is that 1968 probably didn't have scenes like this:
Thursday's Democratic debate began in downtown Manhattan, several dozen Howard Dean supporters faced off with a slightly smaller crowd of Wesley Clark fans. Standing with their backs to the Pace University auditorium, where the debate was held, the Dean supporters chanted, "We want Dean! We want Dean!"

Across from them, people holding signs saying "The Wes Wing" and "Wes Is Best," shouted, "We want Clark! We want Clark!" The shouts grew louder, each side trying to drown out the other.

Suddenly, one of the demonstrators yelled, "Down with Bush!" Both groups picked it up, amplifying each other -- "DOWN WITH BUSH! DOWN WITH BUSH!" When the police cleared the area for the candidates' arrivals a few moments later, the Clark and Dean contingents were chatting amicably. As they retired to separate downtown bars to watch the debate, members in both crowds could be overheard telling each other, "I'll work for you guys if you win!"
The rest of the article goes on to describe how Dean and Clark are mostly laying off of eachother, for now at least.

Marshall has a transcript of today's White House press briefing, with Scott McClellan trying to fend off the feeding frenzy on Traitorgate.

If you want to seriously damage your liver, you should play the "The Department of Justice is the appropriate agency to look into this matter" Drinking Game!

There's even a Johnny Tightlips moment about midway through:
QUESTION: You spoke specifically -- you spoke to Rove specifically about this matter, correct?

McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: You spoke to Rove specifically about this matter? You asked him whether or not he was the leaker, or --

McCLELLAN: I don't know what the relevance of getting into every private conversation, John -- is, John. I've made it very clear that it's simply not true.

QUESTION: Based on what?

QUESTION: Based on what?

QUESTION: What are you basing -- what are you --

McCLELLAN: Someone asked me if I had spoken with him, and I said, yes.

QUESTION: And you spoke with him about this issue?

QUESTION: Did you ask him, directly?

McCLELLAN: I have spoken with him, yes.

QUESTION: But the President hasn't spoken with him directly about this issue? You have and the President hasn't?

McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Keith.

QUESTION: Well, that was the question.

McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: You spoke directly with Rove about this?

McCLELLAN: I have spoken -- I speak to him all the time, on a lot of things.

"I heard lots of things"

Clinton won California twice, by large margins, when a Republican was Governor. Ahhhhhhhnuld wont help Bush out any. If anything, there could be a silver lining here: A sense of false optimism could cause Bush to waste money and resources in California that he wouldn't have if Gray/Cruz were governor, leaving some more battleground states softened up and ready to be taken by Dean/Clark/whoever...
In light of the Plame scandal, the Horse gives us an interesting flashback: Bush Sets Standards For Administration, 1/20/01.

#11 and #14 are quite fun. And while we're at it, #2 is quite interesting as well.

TFM ex-roomate Josh Braun mentioned something to me about an article on Iraq in this month's Harper's, constructed entirely out of verbatim lies from the Bush aministration.

And here it is.

First two grafs:
Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.

It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.
Go read the whole thing.

If the men and women of Gallup are doing an accurate job, then Gray Davis is toast. It shows support for the recall among likely voters at 63% (55 for registered voters), and has Ahhnuld winning the replacement election with 40%.

After a number of polls from other organizations showed support for the recall slipping to the low 50's, and 50% in the case of the Field Poll, does this new Gallup entry signify a sudden shift back towards increasing support for the recall?

Well, not really.

If you look at the Gallup numbers, they're pretty darn close to what the numbers showed in their previous poll, all the way back on August 13th. In that poll, support for the recall was in the mid-60's, while Arnold was in the mid-30's. Gallup, as far as I've seen, is the only major polling organization to ever put support for the recall above 60%. The Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute have shown numbers in the mid-50's and declining, and the LA Times has shown support to be right at 50%, in a statistical dead-heat with opposition to the recall.

Also, comparing numbers from different polling organizations is nowhere near as important as comparing trends within one specific polling organization's findings. In Gallup's case, support for the recall dropped 1%, reasonably close to the trends found by Field and the LA Times. Also, Arnold's support increased by a few percent, also consistent with Field and LAT.

In short, everybody has the same relative trends, but everybody has different starting points. Conclusion? It's anybody's guess what will happen next tuesday. One thing's for sure, though: I'm gonna be one nervous pervis.

...though I'd note that the Field Poll has proven itself much more accurate on a state level than Gallup, which is a national service...

Sunday, September 28, 2003


How about fifty of them!

The first five:
1. He wouldn't vote for you – or anyone else.

This is how seriously Arnie takes his U.S. citizenship: By skipping nearly half of the elections since 1992, voting records show, he has avoided having to exercise his democratic right to take a stand on such issues as bilingual education, medical marijuana and tax increases for the wealthy. To add insult to injury, he skipped these last two issues (in the 1996 election) because he was promoting Jingle All the Way and Eraser, two of the worst films of that or any other year.

2. He's in way over his head.

This can't be stressed enough, so expect us to revisit it often. There are three basic levels to Arnie's ineptitude: (1) He has never run so much as a town meeting, and now he wants us to put him behind the wheel of the sixth largest economy in the world; (2) he treats his campaign as if he were promoting a movie, continually falling back on his experience as an entertainer in an apparent attempt to compensate for his lack of experience as a statesman; (3) he loves to talk about all of the problems we're facing in this state, but his lack of specific ideas for how to fix them is taking on legendary proportions.

3. He thinks you don't care that he's in way over his head.

"The public doesn't care about facts and figures," said Arnie at a press conference. If there is a God, these words will haunt him throughout the campaign. On Sept. 4, he went so far as to blame the media for his own hollow, sloppy campaign: "You always want to have fast answers," he told journalists in Riverside. "I want to have good answers." Hey, buddy, pencils down! Next time, figure out the answers before you tell people you're ready to be governor of California.

4. He keeps repeating that he's going to 'clean house.'

Never trust any politician who says this. What it really means is: "I know so little about what works and doesn't work in politics that I'm not even going to try to figure it out. Instead, I'm just going to throw everything out, whether it works or not." And what that really means is: "I'm in way over my head" (see reason No. 2). Anyone remember the Republican "revolution" of 1994 – that sure worked out great, didn't it? Little-known fact: the "clean house" school of cowboy politics has its roots in the racist "Know-Nothing" movement of the 1850s. The Know-Nothings got swept into state and legislative offices on a platform of radical right-wing change, then fell out of favor just as quickly when voters discovered they knew ... well, nothing about governing. Now you can do your part to keep anti-government jackasses out of government!

5. His own house isn't as 'clean' as he wants you to think.

Arnie wants everyone to think that his huge personal fortune means he can't be bought, but his financial disclosures reveal that even as a civilian celebrity, he loves them "gifts." He's received thousands of dollars worth of free shirts and sweaters from Armani, cigars worth $250 to $500 each, a fancy humidor from Tupperware (what the hell?) and lots more. Doesn't seem to matter much that he can already afford all this stuff himself. Don't be fooled: movie stars are accustomed to taking expensive gifts from people trying to win their favor – and if Arnie liked the size of the presents in Hollywood, he's gonna love Sacramento.
Read the other, uh, 45. Though regarding #38, no matter what Arnold does, the Dems hold on to California in 2004.

Goodbye, Cosmo.

I played that very part once--well, the young flashback version of him, that is--in Peninsula Civic Light Opera's 1991 production of Singin'.... Here's the program!

Make 'em laugh in the next world, man.

Earlier today, Kevin Drum hypothesized that the Wilson/Plame/"senior administration officials" affair could help Wesley Clark's campaign. His reasoning?
First, this exposes an obviously casual attitude at very high levels of the Bush administration toward military (or at least military-like) secrets. This is going to make Clark look good by comparison. With his background, he's obviously a guy who knows the value of keeping operational secrets.

Second, I think there are plenty of moderate independents and conservatives who are wavering in their support for Bush right now but who have stuck with him because they just don't trust any of the original nine Democratic candidates. The Plame scandal will push them even farther from the Bush camp, and I suspect that many of them will find Clark an acceptable alternative.
Of course, this hits right at the essence of why Clark is running. The General's first two cents:
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said a Justice Department probe would be inadequate.

"This is too much for (Attorney General) John Ashcroft," he said. "It strikes right at the heart of our ability to gather intelligence."
Aside from the obvious, the subtext of his comment is both fair and clear. Clark, a Clintonite, but more importantly a Democrat, is drawing a contrast between this growing scandal and Clinton's "scandals". While this situation is "right at the heart of our ability to gather intelligence", the Lewinsky affair wasn't right at the heart of anything, let alone intelligence gathering abilities, unless when Clinton climaxed that one time, he shouted out "ohh . . . ohhh . . . COVERT OPERATIVE VALERIE PLAME!!!!!". (end scene, hehe)

All I can say about acts of treason for no purpose other than short-term revenge is: What, oh, what do we tell the children?

Also through Calpundit, the nominally conservative Daniel Drezner says:
If it is nevertheless true, however -- an important "if" -- then a Pandora's box gets opened by asking this question: if the White House was willing to commit an overtly illegal act in dealing with such a piddling matter, what lines have they crossed on not-so-piddling matters? In other words, if this turns out to be true, then suddenly do all of the crazy conspiracy theories acquire a thin veneer of surface plausibility?
More than just a willingness to deceive and manipulate intelligence to serve their ends, this affair shows something just as fundamental, that being a contempt for the intelligence-gathering process. Remember the administration's attitude toward Hans Blix and his team when they were inspecting their way through Iraq? It amounted to "this is bullshit, Saddam is not disarming" (Well of course not, he'd have to ARM first! -ed Good point!). When Iraq destroyed its Al Samoud missiles as the inspectors asked, the Bushies crowed "oh, they were always going to do that, they're deceiving us". And so on.

POSTSCRIPT: by the way, Dan Drezner will be happy to know that I have been assigned one of his writings for Political Science 121 (Prof. Gordon), here at SB. I'm reading a lot of conservatives in that class (Fukuyama and Kagan, among others).

I refuse to construct any puns relating to the name of Joe Wilson's outed CIA covert agent wife.

This looks to be a huge story. I remember when it broke back in July, and had been wondering why it didn't get more traction then.

Here's an ABC News story on the current matter, for those of you who've not come up to speed on it. (my mother, for example, hehe)

What it all boils down to is that two "senior administration officials" outed former ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent, leaking the info to conservative commentatoralist Robert Novak, among others, as an apparent act of revenge after Wilson revealed the blatantly forged and shoddy evidence of Bush/Blair's claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa. From Novak's July article:
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. (emphasis mine)
And in doing so, those two officials broke the law. This law, in particular, banning the outing of covert operatives. The reasons for the law are pretty clear, as unmasking agents could damage national security or result in loss of life, not to mention compromise intel operations, and so on, and so forth.

A Washington Post article that also hit the stands in July, same time as Novak's column, referred to the two leakers as "top white house officials". So going by both that classification, and Novak's, we know that this wasn't the fault of some administration basement-dweller; there are only a shade more than a dozen "senior administration officials". So from here on out, this looks like a game of whodunnit. Just the sort of stakeout that blogs were born for. Kevin Drum has his list, whittled down by deduction and likelyhood that such officials could gain knowledge of covert agents:
Dick Cheney — Vice President
Karl Rove — Senior Advisor to the President
Condi Rice — National Security Advisor
Steve Hadley — Deputy National Security Advisor
Andy Card — White House Chief of Staff
Dan Bartlett — Assistant to the President for Communications
John Gordon — Homeland Security Advisor
Scooter Libby — Vice President’s Chief of Staff
Another suspect who could be added to this list is former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer who, coincidentally, officially resigned the day that the leak was made, July 14th.

Remember, it's not just one, it's two of them. What's most interesting about this? It is likely that much of the administration knows exactly who did this. Nevertheless, Condi's "this is a Justice Dept matter" stuff at the press conference this morning is par for the course for an administration that has made stonewalling a cornerstone.

And of course: Imagine how big the shitstorm would be if Clinton had done this...

Speaking of Clinton, let's put this burgeoning scandal in perspective. The Wilson/Plame scandal looks like the reverse of the Clinton scandal template. Back then, the VRWC etc wanted to pin crimes on Bill and Hillary, but the only things lacking were the actual crimes. This is why we had blank-check Ken Starr fishing expeditions, the right wanted a "what" to go with their "who". Flash-forward to the current situation. What we have now is a reversal: We know that a crime has been committed, but all that's left to know is which two senior administration officials were behind it. We have the "what", and now the only question is "who". Obviously, the "what" is the more important part, the "cattle" to the "hat" that is "who", in investigatory matters.

Most of the blogs linked on the left side of this page should have coverage of the situation. I suggest Marshall for starters.