The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Good thing we have a CEO president who knows how to run a business:
A British charity has accused the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq of failing to account for $4bn meant to help rebuild the country.
The charity, Christian Aid, said in a report that the authority had not publicly disclosed its accounts since Saddam Hussein was ousted in April.

The report's authors calculated that the CPA had received at least $5bn in oil revenues and assets seized from Saddam Hussein's government.

However, only $1bn of this could be traced, while the rest had simply vanished into a "financial black hole", said the report.

"For all the talk of freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people before, during and after the war which toppled Saddam Hussein," said the report, "there is no way of knowing how the vast majority of this money has been spent".
As Letterman said, "when you make out the check, remember that there are two L's in 'Halliburton' ".

Gollum Luskin gloated on thursday that video of Paul Krugman's BookTV appearance would not be made available on CSPAN's website, and then he poopoo'd the Krugman archive keeper and his complaints about the matter.

Two days later? CSPAN posted the video for all to see. It's over an hour long, and it's very interesting. And damn, he looks just like my dad.

Did you read your Daily Nexus yesterday?
Man Jerks Off at Women's Center Fair
Suspect Avoids Police After Being Spotted Masturbating
By Jason La - Staff Writer
Friday, October 24, 2003

An unidentified man allegedly spotted masturbating in front of the Women's Center evaded capture Thursday after Women's Center staff members called the Community Service Organization and UC Police Dept. to report him. The same man had reportedly been following a female student involved in the event the center was hosting.

According to Nathalie Han, the Women's Center front desk associate who contacted CSO, the man had been following a female student who was part of a group of students from Hermanas Unidas of UCSB. The group was selling tostadas as part of the 11th Annual National Young Women's Day of Action Feminist Faire, an event encouraging young women to become involved in politics and social issues.

Han said a friend of that female student asked her if she knew the man, and she said she did not know him. Han, a fourth-year political science major, said she saw the unidentified man standing in the crowd before he allegedly started masturbating. She said he looked creepy but was not doing anything wrong.

"Throughout the event, for about 30 minutes, there was this guy standing behind me," Han said.

Han said the female student's friend later informed Han that it looked like the unidentified man was masturbating while leaning against a tree in the lawn directly across from the Women's Center lawn. The man's genitals were not exposed, Han said, but "you could tell [what he was doing] by the look on his face."

"He was pounding it," she said.

Han said Sharon Hoshida, the Women's Center programming director, confronted the man and asked him to leave. The man said he "had an itch" and did not leave, she said.

Han then called CSO for help, and the man fled toward the UCen when CSO and UCPD arrived at the scene, she said. UCPD officers pursued the man but were unable to catch him, Han said. (italics mine . . . oh yeah . . . yeah, baby . . . come to butthead)
Given the vast array of social diseases circulating around Isla Vista, I'm almost tempted to buy the man's "itch" excuse.

In all seriousness, though, this is reprehensible behavior on this fellow's part. It's also a sure sign of the times and of the failure of our university system, that they are unable to cultivate an imagination among student populations, to the extent that students can't just find a deserted bathroom and think about a women's conference or other likewise gatherings.

In general, it is my somewhat-Hobbesian belief that any one individual should have an ultimate say in the amount of genitalia to which they are exposed. Our tree-leaning friend has violated such an idea, and we should all "pound" him over the head with a big, thick . . . social contract, of some sort.

Friday, October 24, 2003


I'm too sleepy for actual serious punditry today. But I wanted to mention that while I enjoyed David Brooks' saturday column on the life and times of edgy photographer Helmut Newton, a sentence in the final graf leapt out at me:
Like Madonna, Britney Spears, Michael Savage or other edge-masters after him, Newton excels in the competition for attention. He toys with images associated with good and evil, repression and liberation. But he doesn't actually have any ideas about such things. He and the edginess phenomenon as a whole remind us that of all the human traits that shape culture and history, the most underappreciated is the power of vacuousness.
Michael Savage as a notable "edge-master"?

Let's see . . . he got a TV show, he made the "edgy" comment that a gay caller should "get aids and die", not to mention "eat a sausage and choke on it". He got his ass FIRED, and has essentially not been heard from since.

Edge-master? Sounds more like a Wile E Coyote cliff take to me.

This is a real edge master:

And so is this:

Have a good night, all.
It's nap time!

But it really looks like Howard Dean has New Hampshire all sewn up.

Former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean has opened a large lead over his closest challenger in New Hampshire according to the newest poll by Zogby International.

Dean earned 40%, compared to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s 17%. None of the other candidates have exceeded single digits in the polling. Retired General Wesley Clark and North Carolina Senator John Edwards are tied for third with 6% each...

Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt received 4%, followed by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman’s 3%. Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, former Illinois Senator Carol Mosley Braun, and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich each received less than one percent.
All polls confirm Dean's big lead right now. His bigger challenge will be in Iowa, where Gephardt is hacking away and they're in a dead heat.

I love that Gary Trudeau's representation of Arnold ("Gropenfuhrer") Schwarzenegger in Doonesbury is a giant hand.
If you're currently taking Political Science 121 at UCSB, and have been suffering through Mike Gordon's asides talking about polls citing how happy Iraqis are that we did what we did, this is worth a read.

I still don't understand how a professor can be a "moderate democrat" while taking cues from AEI.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


It appears that God has spoken regarding Mel Gibson's upcoming vanity/Christ movie The Passion:
The actor who plays Jesus in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ has escaped injury after being struck by lightning during filming.

The incident, in which The Rock and The Count of Monte Cristo star Jim Caviezel did not sustain an injury, is the second bolt to hit the set of the movie in Italy.

The film has drawn complaints from religious leaders. Jewish leaders say it suggests Jews were responsible for Christ's death. Conservative Catholics who have seen the film have called it a powerful rendering of the hours leading up to Christ's Crucifixion.

The crew was on a remote location a few hours from Rome when the storm occurred.

"I'm about a hundred feet away from them," producer Steve McEveety said, "when I glance over and see lightning coming out of Caviezel's ears."

Both Caviezel and his assistant director Michelini were struck. The main bolt hit Caviezel and one of its forks hit Michelini's umbrella.
Keep in mind that nobody was struck by lightning during the filming of Dogma, so that should give you an idea of God's Catholic-interpretation-of-the-gospel of choice.

(link via quaker in a basement, by way of calpundit)

A Buzzflash reader catches Tom Friedman with some, uh, slightly-off casualty numbers.

In short, his column today put the total wounded at about 900. The actual number is more than twice that, 1938 as of yesterday.

Okay, I have one more midterm to study for, and then I can relax. . . maybe.
-eddie izzard

I see Bush got heckled by the leader of the Australian Greens down in Canberra.
"Security in the Asia-Pacific region will always depend on the willingness of nations to take responsibility for their neighborhood, as Australia is doing," Bush told parliament.

Australia has recently sent a peacekeeping force to the Solomon Islands to restore law and order.

But his tagging of Australia as a regional "sheriff" and staunch defense of the Iraq war angered left-leaning Green politicians whose heckling twice stopped the president's speech.

"We are not a sheriff," shouted Greens leader Bob Brown who ignored an order to leave the house.

The heckling did not rattle Bush, who is on his first trip to Australia. The last U.S. president to visit Australia was Bill Clinton in 1996 -- who was also heckled by Brown.

"I love free speech," quipped Bush, to cheers from the house, having been warned he could face politicians' protests.

But following Bush's speech, the parliament voted to suspend Brown and his Greens colleague Kerry Nettle from parliament for 24 hours, which will bar them on Friday when Chinese President Hu Jintao addresses parliament during a three-day state visit.
No comment from Bush on that procedural motion, I'm sure.

He was heckled inside the parliament building by someone else, and this is a shade more problematic:
The 18-year-old son of Mamdouh Habib, one of two Australians held at a U.S. military prison in Cuba for two years without charge after the Afghan invasion, was dragged out, arms pinned behind his back, after yelling: "Hey Bush, what about my Dad?"

Howard did raise the issue of Habib and fellow detainee David Hicks with Bush and was assured they were being properly cared for and would be dealt with according to U.S. rules and regulations. (italics TFM's)
See, this is the problem. There aren't any rules and regulations for our treatment of the Gitmo prisoners detainees combatants whatever-they-are's. Why? Because we're making it up as we go along! Rummy himself has said that we're setting some form of precedent here.

Anyway, I need a salad and a nap.

While Rush Limbaugh hordes prescription drugs, Bill Clinton works to lower the cost of AIDS drugs, increasing access to treatment for people in developing countries.

Marvel at the contrast.
Former President Bill Clinton has secured a deal with four generic-drug companies to provide low-cost AIDS drugs in the developing world, an aide to the former president said Thursday.

The agreement, which was to be announced at a news conference later Thursday, will cut the price of a triple-drug regimen to about 38 cents a day.

The deal, brokered by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, was reported Thursday in The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the Clinton aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The companies involved three Indian companies and one South African firm opened their books to a group of Clinton advisers, who then worked with the companies to cut costs.

Patented versions of the regimen run at least $1.54 per day. Where available, the discounted generic regimen costs 55 cents per day.

The foundation also helped several Caribbean and African nations prepare detailed plans for introducing the drugs. The plans are intended to make the drugs more readily available throughout each nation.

To pay for the drugs, and for improvements in the countries' health systems, Clinton has secured partial funding by lobbying wealthy nations including Ireland and Canada. Ireland has committed $58.3 million over five years, mainly to Mozambique.
Bush says, Clinton does. Remember that $15 billion Bush promised in the SOTU? And how a great deal of that money was actually money that was already being spent for it? And other portions of that money are being whittled down further? There's another contrast to think about.
(if "a hair" means about 150 troops, so far)

Right about now is the two hour anniversary of the beginning of my PS 150 midterm (Politics of the Middle East), which went better than expected.

Today is also the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed 241 of our servicemen.

I am reminded that in the second of the three Bush-Gore debates, then-Governor Bush commented that he disapproved of our involvement in Haiti, yet approved of our intervention in Lebanon.

In fact, Tom Friedman, back when he was worth a damn, actually wrote a column on that precise issue, October 17, 2000:
If there has been a low point for the press following the Bush-Gore campaign, surely it has been the mass rush to judgment that because George W. Bush was able to tick off world hot spots in the last debate, he understands foreign policy enough to be president. In fact, Mr. Bush uttered a stunning howler during that debate. When asked by Jim Lehrer which of the recent U.S. interventions abroad he would approve of, Mr. Bush said he did not approve of Haiti, but he did approve of Lebanon in 1982. Oh, really? Too bad Mr. Lehrer did not have time to ask him: "Governor Bush, what was it about Lebanon that you liked?"

Was it the fact that President Reagan rushed into Lebanon out of guilt over the Sabra and Shatila massacres without any preparation and, as a result, we became another faction in the Lebanese civil war? Was it the fact that we were engaged there in intensive nation-building -- training the whole Lebanese Army -- the very nation-building you opposed in Haiti? Was it the fact that we tried to build our policy in Lebanon around exercising all that military power you want to build up again -- even shelling Syrian troops with the battleship New Jersey -- and all that power proved futile? Was it the fact that 241 U.S. servicemen were killed in their sleep as a result of that futile exercise of power? Was it the fact that your chief foreign policy adviser, George Shultz, was our secretary of state then, who negotiated a May 17, 1983, agreement for Israeli security in South Lebanon -- which was so one-sided in Israel's favor it was never implemented, blew up in our faces and resulted in Syrian domination of Lebanon? What exactly did you like about Lebanon, governor?
Something tells me that Friedman didn't look back at the final graf from that column during the run-up to the Iraq war, because it appears quite prescient:
The devil in this region -- and the solution -- is in the details. Foreign policy problems rarely come packaged in your ideal way. They always come messy, spurred as much by the fecklessness of allies as the mendacity of enemies. And they can be solved only by some combination of military might, detailed, patient diplomacy and, yes, some cautious optimism. When you approach them with superficial cliches, an unwillingness to master details and an over-reliance on military power, you end up with America in Lebanon in 1982 -- one of George W. Bush's preferred foreign policy moments. Scary.
Scary indeed. It's pretty clear that the administration didn't have the slightest clue as to details relating to anything other than the initial military operations in Iraq. It's pretty clear that Bush gave us a boatload of superficial cliches, packaged in deliberate deception. It's pretty clear that Rummy and the boys thought everything would fall into place if we just flexed our military muscles enough.

Well don't worry Tom, looks like Dubya has himself a new preferred foreign policy moment!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Slate's Bill Saletan quite handly dispels the myth of "partial birth" abortion.

And on that note, I have a PS 150 midterm for which I must finish studying...

Splitting one's academic/social life between Berkeley and Santa Barbara provides one with some compelling juxtapositions.

Case in point, today's Wednesday Hump, the mediocre weekely sex column of UCSB's student paper, the Daily Nexus. Our hero, Christina "Huff", tells us about her prepatory ritual for that special, special day, when she plans to --like, omigod-- "go all the way" (oh how risque!) with a fellow to whom she's taken a linking. Here's a portion: (warning, this may or may not be safe for work, depending on your profession)
The shower knows, even before your date does, that you'll be sleeping with him. The reason is simple. Before all your previous dates with the guy, your shower has been witness to a conservative relationship with the razor. Usually, the responsibility of the razor consists of a simple shaving of the armpits. As a matter of fact, not shaving your legs has served as a preventive measure to keep you from sleeping with this guy before you've actually been ready. But not today. On this lucky day, almost everything goes. All that's left is a small landing strip, because after all, though your date's tool may have a big head, it will definitely lack eyes. The feel of a nice, conditioned muff will guide the way.

Dripping wet, and with a new trim, you come out of the shower. For the next hour, hair and makeup reign supreme, requiring undivided attention. After about an hour, you're looking hot, but you still don't have any clothes on. Thank God you've figured out that you really want to wear the red thong; besides, they will look sexy peeking out of the innocent pair of jeans you sacrificed a burrito for. (emphasis TFM)
And all that could come out of my brain was a sentence that began: "Maybe I've been in the Bay Area too long, but..."

Hmm. There are eight University of California campuses. In his well-known (and ignorant) 1993 Foreign Affairs piece "The Clash of Civilizations", Samuel Huntington identifies the eight major civilizations of the world. Coincidence? I'm not sure. Hey, which of the UC's get's the "and possibly Africa" treatment? Santa Cruz? Riverside? By the way, Sam, that's high praise, labeling an entire continent as "possibly" a civilization. They send their thanks. Egads.

I will give the Nexus credit for its charming illustration that went with "Huff"s piece. And okay, I don't know if that really is a pseudonym or not . . . actually I just checked, and it appears to actually be her name. Maybe. Though maybe in some sort of postmodern liberal campus reality, there is nothing more risque and taboo than consensual heterosexual missionary sex after weeks of dating, complete with a thorough makeup and shaving ritual. Frankly, I'm shocked.

UPDATE: And while we're on the subject of university sex columns, the Berkeley blog Beetle Beat goes after this Sex On Tuesday column, claiming that it plays the "all conservatives are stupid because I can find stupid conservatives" card. A quick read of the column itself reveals that this is either a misunderstanding or a strawman on Beetle's part, as Andrea Demaray makes no such statement, merely referring to "BushCo" and "conservative repression-monkeys". It would take a bit of, let's say, creative syllogism to go from there to the claim that all conservatives are "stupid", or in this case, "repression-monkeys".

But let's face it, all repression-monkeys are conservative. (:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - At least 28 soldiers have failed to report for flights back to Iraq after two weeks of leave in the United States or to call ahead with an explanation, US military spokesmen said...

The US Army Human Resources Command has reported that 28 soldiers have not shown up for their flights back to Iraq and have failed to call to give a reason for their absence, according to Joe Burlas, an army spokesman...

A soldier will be carried on the roster as AWOL for 30 days before he or she is classified as a deserter, he added. (full story)
via billmon

It raised me well, and it sure picks its nonfiction books well.
1. Dude, Where's My Country?, Michael Moore
2. Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them, Al Franken
3. Bushwhacked, Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose
4. The Great Unraveling, Paul Krugman
5. Madam Secretary, Madeline Albright
That's quite a top five.

Kos provides a link to information on who voted for and against the ban on a non-existent procedure called "partial-birth abortion".

Some of those other yes votes really bother me, particularly: Robert Byrd, Tom Daschle (is he that afraid of Thune?), Mary Landrieu (what?), Pat Leahy, Blanche Lincoln, and Harry Reid. You guys got sucked in by this "partial birth" language bullshit. Thanks guys.
Tarantino sucks
By the way, one other thing:
I don't like the Jews

I don't have that much to say on the matter of TNR columnist Gregg Easterbrook's vaguely anti-semetic comment and his subsequent apology and firing by ESPN.

But I knew he had a problem years ago!

First, for those out of the loop, here were the offending comments, from the last paragraph of an article that was mostly meant to trash Quentin Tarantino and his new flick Kill Bill:
Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself. (italics TFM's)
Easterbrook, having painted himself into a corner, issued a mealy-mouthed apology, pleading "poor wording", a rationalization that the Anti Defamation League's Abraham Foxman found understandably insufficient.
We expect more from The New Republic. Gregg Easterbrook's mea culpa is insufficient. It's a rationalization. There is no excuse for bringing religion into a discussion about greed and the film industry. Greed is a human frailty. Money is not only colorless, it is faithless.

By injecting religion into his criticism about the film industry – in his identifying Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Michael Eisner of Disney as Jewish – Mr. Easterbrook summons up classic stereotypes that Jews are greedy, money-grubbing and morally deficient. His column feeds into the classic canard of "Jewish control" of Hollywood, a charge that has led to blaming Jews for contributing to the general decline of society through their "control" of popular culture.

Sadly, instead of making a clear apology and a rejection of anti-Semitic stereotypes, Mr. Easterbrook says he "wrote poorly" and was misunderstood. Mr. Easterbrook's remarks reflect either absolute ignorance or total bigotry. We find it hard to fathom that a senior editor at The New Republic could have absolutely no knowledge of the hateful canards about greed and Jewish moneylenders that have contributed to two-thousand years of persecution against the Jewish people.
Anyway, one of the results of Easterbrook's comment was that he was fired by ESPN, which completely removed from its site all traces of his weekly football column "Tuesday Morning Quarterback", or TMQ. Part of me is regretful, because TMQ was, far and away, the best sports column on the planet, and a staple of my tuesday reading in the autumn months. But if you print stupid crap like he did, and then make excuses for it, then I understand ESPN's actions, and will look elsewhere for amusing sports commentary.

Earlier I mentioned that I had proof years ago that Easterbrook had it in for the Jews. Namely, me!

From the 12/18/01 edition of TMQ, back in its Slate days:
Brendan Getzell pointed out that Kurt Warner's walk-away-from-the-line fake on fourth down against the Niners, however clever-looking, should have drawn a flag because as part of the act, the space alien unbuckled his chin strap. They may allow that on your homeworld, but not here, buddy! NFL rules require that chin straps be buckled at the snap; an unbuckled strap is illegal procedure. Getzell further notes that the Niners defenders who turned away from the line just as the trick play began are thus not to blame—seeing Warner unbuckle, they assumed zebras would wave the play dead.
The 49ers went on to lose that game 27-14, though if Garcia's deep ball to a wide open TO, on the game's initial snap, had been on target, perhaps things would have gone di-- sorry, I wandered off.

He uses my last name. And it's a Jewish last name! And then he uses it again -- BY ITSELF!!! As if it were for no other earthly purpose than to tell the entire world about my ethnicity! Obviously, he's a Jew-hating Jew-hater.

I wonder why no one from the media has asked me about this.

* - for those who don't read tmq, Easterbrook often employs haiku to make his points, as do his readers

But Congress has sent the bill outlawing it to Dubya, and he's expected to sign it.

ATTENTION RALPH NADER AND GREENS ACROSS AMERICA: Ralph told you, and us, that there is no substantial difference between the two major political parties in America. Bill Clinton twice vetoed the bill that Bush is about to sign. What would President Gore have done?

And what would Howard Dean do?
"As a physician, I am outraged that the Senate has decided it is qualified to practice medicine. There is no such thing as 'partial birth abortion' in medical literature. But there are times when a doctor is called upon to perform a late term abortion to save a woman's life or protect her from serious injury. Today the Senate took a step toward making it a crime for a doctor to perform such medically necessary procedures.

"This bill will chill the practice of medicine and endanger the lives of countless women. This kind of legislation serves the sole purpose of chipping away women's constitutionally protected reproductive rights and overturning Roe v. Wade."
Put that in your fatty granola bar and smoke it. And while you're at it, fax a copy of his statement to the fellow who held up a Green Party sign behind Dean's announcement speech in Burlington.

In terms of the law Bush is about to sign, this one's going to court. And furthermore, this just shows how well Republicans have mastered the language of political discourse. When they have a policy that is unpopular, they change its name, and poof, it polls better. "Partial-birth abortion" and "death tax" are two of the most egregious examples of this.

Only a week after Dubya said "no more leaking" (a story that was, in fact, leaked), a memo from Rummy to a handful of higher-ups in defense has leaked out, and we see that even they know that, despite all their outward optimism, Iraq and the war on terror are not going as well as they had hoped. From USA Today's summary:
The memo, which diverges sharply from Rumsfeld's mostly positive public comments, offers one of the most candid and sobering assessments to date of how top administration officials view the 2-year-old war on terrorism. It suggests that significant work remains and raises a number of probing questions but few detailed proposals.

"Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" Rumsfeld asks in the Oct. 16 memo, which goes on to cite "mixed results" against al-Qaeda, "reasonable progress" tracking down top Iraqis and "somewhat slower progress" in apprehending Taliban leaders. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'? " he wrote.


Among Rumsfeld's observations in the two-page memo:

• The United States is "just getting started" in fighting the Iraq-based terror group Ansar Al-Islam.

• The war is hugely expensive. "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions."

• Postwar stabilization efforts are very difficult. "It is pretty clear the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."
AP has picked this up, so expect to see Rip Van Rummy questioned about this, we'll be treated to some whining and yelling. No resignation in sight, though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Oh, that right wing smear machine has hit a new low in attacking Howard Dean.
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh gives us a rundown on why administration intel on Iraq was so bad. Listen to this from two sources, one from a CIA official, and the other being Ken Pollack, who supported the ouster of Saddam:
The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic—and potentially just as troublesome. Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, whose book “The Threatening Storm” generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein, told me that what the Bush people did was “dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.

“They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information,” Pollack continued. “They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn’t have the time or the energy to go after the bad information.”

The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. “The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet”—the C.I.A. director—“for not protecting them. I’ve never seen a government like this.”
And what are these processes of "filtering" and "stovepiping"? From the article:
A retired C.I.A. officer described for me some of the questions that would normally arise in vetting: “Does dramatic information turned up by an overseas spy square with his access, or does it exceed his plausible reach? How does the agent behave? Is he on time for meetings?” The vetting process is especially important when one is dealing with foreign-agent reports—sensitive intelligence that can trigger profound policy decisions. In theory, no request for action should be taken directly to higher authorities—a process known as “stovepiping”—without the information on which it is based having been subjected to rigorous scrutiny.
There's plenty to read in the article, get to it.

There is no Saddam/9-11 link, and there are no real Saddam ties to Al Qaeda.

With that in mind, when the National Review's Deroy Murdock tries to compile a list of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, you know that humor is going to ensue.

Take it, David Byrne:

You may ask yourself,
does he mention the guy who got medical care in Baghdad?

and You may ask yourself,
does he bring up the Prague meeting?

and You may ask yourself,
does he neglect to mention that Osama called Saddam not only an "infidel", but a "socialist"?

and You may say to yourself,
"my god, what have I done!"

Thank you, David. Now run along, enjoy your life during (perpetual) wartime.

And we should be thanking people like Murdock and the good folks at the National Review. Why? Because every time they assemble one of these patchwork arguments linking Iraq and Al Qaeda, it begs a comparison to the links between Al Qaeda and both Saudi Arabia (where 15 of the 19 hijackers came from) and Pakistan (where Osama is probably hiding out and currently being protected)


I just found out that a close associate of TFM is taking a class at UCLA, taught by a blogger whom I regularly read, Mark Kleiman.

Unfortunately, the person in question finds Kleiman's lectures to be "dull", and occasionally skips out on the class. Which is interesting, because I find his commentary on his blog to be quite witty and lively. Maybe he could take the 90minute trip up to SB and put Gordon in his place.

Checking in with the Bugger, he's in the middle of a three-part piece on how Iraq is nothing, nothing like Vietnam. Says Gordon in part two, referencing the mounting US casualties in Iraq:
And now, of course, it's a legacy of worries and ultra-sensitivity that feeds into the concern --- voiced repeatedly in the media and by numerous Democratic politicians (and a few Republicans) --- that the public will soon weary of growing American casualties in post-war Iraq, if it already hasn't: witness, it's claimed, the decline in recent public support for the President's policies there. So far, remember, there have been about 380 US casualties since the start of the war to topple Saddam in March and over the six months since its end in early April. Though that amounts to slightly more than a US soldier killed a day --- a trend-rate that dipped noticeably after the war and then continued to dip beginning again in July --- and hence is about one-tenth of the daily casualty rate in Vietnam --- the worry that the public might abandon support for our efforts to transform Iraq can’t be lightly dismissed.
Hmm, "one-tenth of the daily casualty rate in Vietnam". Well, yeah. But we're in the initial 7 months of our military involvement in Iraq. Looking at the Vietnam stats (scroll to bottom), we see that in the first few years of the conflict in earnest (61-65 or 63-65, whatever napalms your jungle), there were around 1,800 US casualties. We're about to hit 400 in seven months (and contrary to Gordon's claim, it's not slowing down). Granted, it's too early to say what historical parallels will most easily be drawn to Iraq in the long run. But through the 'Nam lens, Iraq does look pretty bad. And Gordon would have been better off if he started and finished his piece with "well, one's jungle and the other's desert".

going after Bush...
"When the security of this nation is threatened, Congress and the American people give the president great latitude," he said. "We probably have given this president more flexibility, more latitude, more range, unquestioned, than any president since Franklin Roosevelt -- probably too much. The Congress, in my opinion, really abrogated much of its responsibility."
Of course, this is Chuck Hagel, who is more prone to wandering off the reservation than most of his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill. It would be safe to say, however, that his words are others' thoughts.

Midterm season is reaching its peak here in TFM-land, so posting could be scant through friday.

Monday, October 20, 2003


This WashPost piece on the potential legacy of the Dean campaign gives us some interesting fundraising numbers to look at. Apparently, it's not just that Dean is far outpacing his rivals, but it's who's giving to him:
The nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute last week provided some evidence supporting Rosenberg's view. "What is also different about 2003 is the emergence of a well-financed candidate -- Howard Dean -- who depends on large donors ($1,000 or more) for only 22 percent of individual contributions and gets 54 percent from small donors (less than $200)," the institute found.

In contrast, President Bush, who has raised $83.9 million, collected 85 percent of it in contributions of $1,000 or more and 10 percent in gifts of less than $200. For other major Democratic candidates, the percentages of large and small contributions were: retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, 45 percent to 35 percent; Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), 88 to 1; Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), 78 to 8; Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), 77 to 11; and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), 78 to 6.
In other words, Howard Dean is the only candidate who gets more of his money from very small contributions than from large ones, and he also has the most money outright. (his average donor gives about $78) The proportion of money from small donations could be seen as a gauge for general enthusiasm for a campaign, and only Dean and Clark have respectable numbers there. Of course, that's old news, they're the only two campaigns generating any real enthusiasm at all.

Dean's "people-powered" fundraising has more effects than just quick cash, argues centrist Democrat Simon Rosenberg:
At the same time, Rosenberg argued, Dean has found a means to directly deal with one of the Democratic Party's major liabilities, the perception that it and its candidates are beholden to a collection of liberal "interest groups." In every losing Democratic presidential campaign since 1980, Republicans have portrayed the Democratic nominee as a captive of such interest groups as organized labor, feminists and Hollywood liberals, an image that was reinforced by the large "soft money" contributions that labor and wealthy liberals used to make to the Democratic National Committee before enactment of McCain-Feingold.

Dean is showing how the Democratic Party can become "a party that can transcend our interest groups, and that a candidate can get elected without owing anyone anything," Rosenberg said.
Contrast this point with attacks on Dean from two other centrist Democrats, the DLC's Al From and Bruce Reed, from a few months ago:
From and Reed described Dean as a member of the "McGovern-Mondale wing" of the party, "the wing that lost 49 states in two elections, and transformed Democrats from a strong national party into a much weaker regional one . . . defined by weakness abroad and elitist, interest group liberalism at home."
Dean's fundraising kinda takes the teeth out of the "interest group"-ism attack, especially since Dean seems compelled to stand up to some interest groups as much as he stands up for them.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


...because I really meant monday or tuesday. See you then!

In the meantime, consult the gray portion of the screen for oodles of bloggy (and otherwise-y) goodness.

And there's always something interesting to find over at If Six Was Nine, particularly our groovy new masthead!