The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, December 06, 2003


As I am waaaay too young to have first-hand knowledge of George McGovern's 1972 candidacy, I will let Susan of Suburban Guerilla explain the difference between him and Dean:
I want to point out an obvious difference: People were not so much committed to George McGovern as they were to his anti-war agenda. McGovern, God bless 'im, is one of the least charismatic political figures ever (I performed at one of his campaign rallies; that's how old I am). His voice sort of drones and he sounds like a weenie, frankly. So, despite being a genuine war hero, he had that slightly-womanish thing working against him.

No one is ever going to accuse Howard Dean of that.

Dean connects with an audience. He makes people trust him. It's not really a specific agenda, it's that people trust him to do the right thing.

This is no small thing, damn it. These Beltway types are missing the boat.

The more I hear of the conventional wisdom, the more I believe they're wrong. Just like everyone else, I think it's more important to win this time, and I believe Dean will do so. Short of a national state of emergency and suspended elections, that is.

Good grief, what's this all about??
As the guerrilla war against Iraqi insurgents intensifies, American soldiers have begun wrapping entire villages in barbed wire.

In selective cases, American soldiers are demolishing buildings thought to be used by Iraqi attackers. They have begun imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas, in hopes of pressing the insurgents to turn themselves in.

The Americans embarked on their get-tough strategy in early November, goaded by what proved to be the deadliest month yet for American forces in Iraq, with 81 soldiers killed by hostile fire. The response they chose is beginning to echo the Israeli counterinsurgency campaign in the occupied territories.
Ah, what a wonderful template from which we're working! Okay let's excerpt some more:
In Abu Hishma, encased in a razor-wire fence after repeated attacks on American troops, Iraqi civilians line up to go in and out, filing through an American-guarded checkpoint, each carrying an identification card printed in English only.

"If you have one of these cards, you can come and go," coaxed Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman, the battalion commander whose men oversee the village, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. "If you don't have one of these cards, you can't."

The Iraqis nodded and edged their cars through the line. Over to one side, an Iraqi man named Tariq muttered in anger.

"I see no difference between us and the Palestinians," he said. "We didn't expect anything like this after Saddam fell."
Hearts! Minds!

Now try and find the really revealing word in this graf:
The practice of destroying buildings where Iraqi insurgents are suspected of planning or mounting attacks has been used for decades by Israeli soldiers in Gaza and the West Bank. The Israeli Army has also imprisoned the relatives of suspected terrorists, in the hopes of pressing the suspects to surrender.
If you said "decades", you get the first slice of no-sugar-added Safeway apple pie!

There's lots more, you really should check it out. Something tells me Dexter Filkins wont be having any government turkey anytime soon.
ranting, raving, and one simpsons reference

Today, The Facts Machine announces its full endorsement of Ralph Nader for President.

...of AARP.

It seems that there is something in the air, or at least in the Berkeley blogosphere's air, and that something seems to involve long posts explaining both one's 2000 vote for Nader, and one's desire not to make the same mistake vote for him again in 2004. If you want to read this as a partial response to those entries, sure, but this is inspired more by a phone convo I had last night than anything else.

As a registered (though sometimes disgruntled) Democrat and a proud Gore voter in 2000, I was on to George W Bush before he was selected. The stakes in the election over 3 years ago were much, much higher than many people were led to believe. Hardcore Republicans didn't just want to beat Clinton-Gore, they wanted a complete repudiation of everything they felt Bill and Al stood for. Even if their man, Dubya, won the White House by the slimmest of margins (and he did, by negative five hundred thousand votes), he would serve as a conduit for the right to reverse all things Clinton. And they started right away: They cut funding for family planning programs overseas, walked away from Kyoto, let the mideast peace process atrophy, sped up SDI, begin to roll back abortion, reversed environmental standards for water/air/etc, obliterated the Clinton surpluses with reverse-robinhood tax cuts, and so on, and so on . . . and this was all before 9/11. "Restore honor and integrity to the White House" meant more than just a no-BJ policy; it meant an absolute repudiation. Gore Democrats like myself knew it was coming. We didn't hear the phrase "compassionate conservative", and decide that it meant there wasn't a very measurable difference between the parties, and that so little was at stake in the 2000 election that we could feel free to fuck it up for Gore and the Democrats in New Hampshire and Florida.

Of course, Nader supported the impeachment of Clinton, so maybe this all makes sense somehow. I wonder how many Greens knew that in 2000?

In truth, I agree with most of the other policy stances held by Ralph Nader. But my concern, as a voter, is much more about the chances of my desired policies being accepted to the greatest extent possible, and not about one man's supposed purity. (of course, there is the matter of his stock portfolio, I'm sure Halliburton is way up lately). Mathematically in 2000, let's say I'm someone with Ralph Nader's political views (which is pretty close). If I vote for Gore, I'd get 60-80% of what I want advocated, if not more. If I vote for Bush, I'd get 10-15% of what I want advocated, tops. But if I vote for Nader, who can't win and hasn't polled in double digits anywhere, I'd get either 10-15% because of my vote, or 60-80% in spite of it.

And even if Ralph were elected, did people think that the Republican congress would lay down for him? They'd oppose him with all their might. If they called Gore a "liar", they wouldn't hesitate to red-bait Nader to death. And the media would run with it.

Then there's the unavoidable contradiction of Ralph Nader's rhetoric. He says (or hints, whatever) that there is little difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. Subsequently, in a 2002 interview (in which he explained why he couldn't even support Paul Wellstone), he mentioned the need for America to go through the "cold shower" of a Bush presidency before moving left. So, if the parties are so similar, why would a leader from one party constitute a cold shower while one from the other wouldn't? Does . . . not . . . compute!

If Ralph Nader were serious about changing electoral politics, he would have made the following items be the fundamental planks of his campaign: Instant runoff voting, a federal election holiday, a Diebold paper-trail, and heck, how about proportional representation and a second-ballot system (I'm for all of those things). That way, the road to a multi-party system would not have had to go through Dubya's "compassionate conservatism".

And why run? Remember the old days, the Nader's Raiders days? When Ralph would lobby for something... he'd get it! Ralph, I wear my seatbelt every time I get into my decent American car. Thank you.

However, now we have a fall-down drunk at the wheel (Bush) who is liable, at any time, to fly this country through the windshield. Ralphie's decision to play Green spoiler in 2000 is a reflection of two things: 1) his failure to understand Duverger's Law, and 2) his significant quantity of self-love. No one is accusing Ralph Nader of stealing anything. However, Ralph Nader was the one man on the face of the Earth who, in October and early November 2000, could have saved us from Dubya by dropping out, something that such corporate whores as The Sierra Club and NARAL urged him to do. Well, he didn’t do that, but at least he kept his promise not to campaign in swing states in the final weeks of the 2000 campaign. Right?

With California a solid Gore state in 2000 (he won by 12 percent), certainly I could have voted for Nader without contributing to the downfall of western society. Actually, no, I couldn’t have done that. It’s called Martin Prince Syndrome. Remember when Bart ran for class president against Martin, and prematurely declared victory by shouting “Victory party under the slide!” His supporters failed to remember to vote, while Martin and his best friend won the election, 2-0. Voting for Nader, and advertising my intention to do so, could have been the equivalent of having that victory party: Enough Californians could have voted for Nader because they thought it was “safe” to in this state, that Dubya could’ve come mighty close to stealing those 54 electoral votes. And now we have a Republican governor, and there’s even less margin for error.

So with this in mind, I tried to warn every Green within earshot of the dangers of Dubya. I even did this on a blind date! I left away messages like “Vote for Gore: It’s your uterus”. (if you think they’re gonna stop at late-term, dream on) I even convinced my best friend in the whole world (a Berkeley grad who’s now in Togo with the Peace Corps, a program started by a Democratic president) to vote for Gore. She even left an away message that read “selling my soul to satan” when she went to the local precinct. I later found out that she told other friends she voted for Nader. Hmm.

Lastly, let’s look at Nader’s objectives, stated or not (beyond his “I’m just building my party” stuff). Is he responsible for the Democratic Party moving to the left? And even before asking that question, have the Dems moved at all in either direction? I mean, if you looked at the midterms in 2002, it would seem, based on the Iraq vote certainly, that the Democrats moved to the right, with a big chunk of them sucking up to Bush and his unnecessary, unilateral war. Then, if you look at the time after that, have the Dems moved back to the left again, criticizing Bush strongly on Iraq, the economy, environmental policy, energy policy? and his Medicare bill? (oops) With possible lurches to both the right and the left since the 2000 election, it’s not easy to draw a straight line from Ralph’s candidacy to a leftward Democratic shift. It reminds me of how Republicans claim that Reagan’s early 80’s tax policies set the stage for the Clinton-era economic boom. At best, it’s an unverifiable hypothesis, and at worst, it’s grade-A bullplop.

Also, the candidacies of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich have a lot to do with a perceived leftward movement in the Democratic Party. Again, you can’t draw a straight line from Nader to those guys. Maybe, maybe to Kucinich, but I’d counter that his candidacy has a lot more to do with specific foreign policy choices made by Bush than with anything Nader did.

Speaking of Dennis Kucinich, here’s something I can’t wait to see. Eventually, he will have to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination. He’s a good guy (saw him speak back in May), and I agree with him in many respects. But he is not going to win this time around. So eventually, he’s going to have to make a concession speech. He’ll be around a while, Kerry Lieberman and Gephardt will all probably quit before he does (perhaps everyone but Dean and Clark). Here’s what I want to see: Dennis Kucinich, Democrat, urging his supporters to unite behind the nominee. My sense is that he’ll do that, otherwise he wouldn’t have run as a Democrat. I hope this will sufficiently undercut a Nader candidacy, as many 2000 Nader supporters back the energetic vegan from Ohio.

As for Nader, my suggestion: Get your ass to San Francisco (watch out for pies, of course), and campaign for Matt Gonzalez. Even though he’s running against a Democrat (SF’s mayoral race is technically non-partisan), if Gonzalez wins I will celebrate with you. I want a more diverse party system in America. But nationally, as long as the electoral system is structured the way it is, then the only practical effect of a Nader candidacy – just as it was in 2000 – is to hand victory to George W. Bush.

p.s. Gore + Nader > Bush + Buchanan by about 2-3 percent.

(links via this useful-but-dead mwo link)
Nancy Reagan voiced her opposition Friday to an attempt by Republican lawmakers to put Ronald Reagan's likeness on the dime in place of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"While I can understand the intentions of those seeking to place my husband's face on the dime, I do not support this proposal and I am certain Ronnie would not," the former first lady said in a statement released Friday.

"When our country chooses to honor a great President such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it would be wrong to remove him and replace him with another," she said. "It is my hope that the proposed legislation will be withdrawn." (full story)
I gave you guys a solution last night: promissory notes.
Kevin Drum on the right's attempts to put Saint Ronald on the dime:
I think it would be more appropriate to create a billion dollar bill and put Reagan on that. It's fitting in so many different ways.
Heh. Or better yet, given Reagan's fondness for creating debt, howabout putting his face on federal promissory notes?

Friday, December 05, 2003


Ah, that unified California GOP that everybody's talking about. It's a renaissance!

In fact, they're so darn unified that their congressmen are being challenged in the primaries!

Yep, the certifiably insane Bob Dornan is challenging Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for the GOP nomination in the 46th District.

If I know my Republicans well, something tells me that this picture is gonna make its way into a B1-Bob commercial:

Sorry, been in LA all day! The central purpose of my trip? Dropping off a pair of designer shoes at UCLA. Yep.

Regular posting should resume almost immediately, unless my studying regimen interferes.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


What do the pink flamingos in the front yard of my mother's house, and the Thanksgiving platter proudly held by George W Bush in Baghdad,

...have in common?

Yep, both are merely decorative.
If Republicans aren't scared of a Howard Dean candidacy, why are they running ads against him almost two months before any primary or caucus votes are cast?

I knew I was building to something with my recent spurt of conservative-bashing.

Jesse of Pandagon has compiled his 2nd-annual Most Annoying Conservatives list.

I know that some of my readers are of the "less links, more excerpts!" persuasion, I am thoroughly sympathetic to this concern, but in this case I really ask you to click the above link (which should open a new window, btw).

One of the top 20 slots goes to campus conservatives in general, and you can guess where I posted that.

And okay, I will excerpt one thing, only because I laughed so hard that I probably united the Phelps Hall open computer lab against me:
18. Arnold Schwarzenegger

I'm sorry, but it's like watching Strongbad govern the world's fifth largest economy. It just doesn't make sense.

The last thing I'll say is that the top 4 are well-deserved.

I'm starting to notice that the past week has been "Brendan Fucks Up Various Conservatives" week.

Let's see, since sunday, I've dispatched Luskin, Drudge, Instapundit, Kaus, James Taranto, Instapundit again, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh.

I've been holding back on Andrew Sullivan, possibly the easiest target of all of them. Yesterday morning he weighed in on Dean's Hardball appearance:
THE REAL GAFFE: I'm on the road so forgive me for not elaborating further on Dean's "Soviet Union" gaffe. No, it's not the end of the world. But it's hard to come down hard on the president's linguistic difficulties while ignoring Dean's. But what is serious is that Dean seems to think that we can prevent proliferation by buying the stuff from North Korea, Russia, or whoever. But what's to stop rogue nuke states selling to Iran and to us? Is Dean that naive? And isn't it true that the real source of Iran's nuclear material has recently been Pakistan anyway? My bottom line: I don't care if a presidential candidate commits a gaffe in foreign policy. I do care that his instinct is to buy off enemies, rather than confront them; and that he's not on the ball about where the real threats are coming from. Dean is making me more nervous about his foreign policy ideas, not less. (emphasis TFM's)
Yeah! That would make me very nervous about Howard Dean.

As tempted as I am to take Sully's word for it, I feel compelled to take another look at the Hardball transcript:
MATTHEWS: Joseph Nye heads the Kennedy School. Of course, everybody here knows that. But...

JOSEPH NYE, DEAN, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Governor, let me take you back to foreign policy.
You’ve been critical of President Bush’s going into Iraq over weapons of mass destruction. But there are two countries that are much closer to nuclear weapons than Iraq ever was. And one of them is North Korea and the other is Iran. If you are elected president, how will your policy toward North Korea and Iran differ from the administration’s?

DEAN: Well, first of all, we’ll have bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans.
The idea that the most powerful nation on the face of the world is somehow going to be blackmailed if we don’t agree on the size of the table, which is essentially what the present argument is about, is ludicrous. This president has wasted 15 months, or more, doing nothing about the fact that North Korea is almost certainly a nuclear power, that we can’t tolerate North Korea as a nuclear power. We need to work with the Chinese, the Japanese, the South Koreans.
But we also need to engage in a deal that I think the North Koreans want to make, which is, let them enter the community of nations. In turn - and, in turn, they will disarm, verifiably, and rid themselves of nuclear weapons. They don’t need nuclear weapons. We can make them-make that problem go away if we’ll do certain things, such as, perhaps, sign a nonaggression treaty, if it allows us to fully protect our allies such as South Korea and Japan, and of course, ours. There is a solution to North Korea. We need a president who believes in negotiation and not simply posturing.
I dunno, but it sure sounds to me that by saying Dean wants to "buy stuff from" North Korea, Sully is grossly mischaracterizing what Dean said. In fact, that's being polite; he's simply making shit up. Giving Russia an incentive not to sell stuff to NK is, well, a good idea, and all Sully can do is mischaracterize it as buying stuff from NK. And last I checked, bilateral negotiations, as well as working with neighboring nations, are both good ideas. This is willful deception on Sully's part.

And if Sully has a beef with Pakistan, I'm sure Bush would be very responsive to his concerns, right? Oh, and a LexisNexis search of "Iran, nuclear, Pakistan" reveals a string of articles stating that each side denies working with the other, but hey. Iran wouldn't possibly have considered building nukes as a response to security concerns involving their next-door neighbor Pakistan's possession of said weapons, would they?

Hmm, I have a little extra time, so here's one more Sully entry. Of all his cutesy awards, I think his "Poseur Alert"'s are the dumbest:
POSEUR ALERT: "One of the reasons I live here is that I really feel like New York needs me right now. New York is not the center for American culture and art that it once was because of the forces of conservatism. Giuliani, capitalism - and then there was 9/11. I really believe that if I leave, it will suffer! Maybe that's why I love it here, because I feel wanted." - singer Rufus Wainwright, The Observer, October 12. I love Wainwright's music. Pity he can say idiotic things like this.
Sully, as usual, displays his blind spot when it comes to other people's employment of irony, sarcasm, humor, etc, for all to see. The Observer's Kitty Empire, who wrote the article that included the quote, did happen to pick up on this:
It's a typical Wainwright outburst - full of playful self-regard, erudition, humour and drama. Rather like his music, in fact. He's a compelling songwriter, witty and honest, inspired by his own life. His three albums to date have combined orchestral arrangements and ragtime, topped off with his scuffed-molasses vocals.
I do, however, agree with Sully on one thing: I love Wainwright's music.
talent on deferment from vietnam

I made a pact with one of my housemates last night. We would both get up at 9am and, for the first time in many, many years, listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Well, he got drunk and stayed up late, so it was just me.

I was only able to stomach about 45 minutes of the Vulgar Junkie's tripe (actually, I had a class). He spent most of the time I listened formulating conspiracy theories within the Democratic Party, namely, that there will be an epic power struggle between Dean and the Clintons, should the former Vermont governor secure the nomination.

On my watch, Rush encountered two instances of, let's say, irony, an irony that he either didn't perceive or shamelessly ignored. First, he savaged John Kerry for a speech he made at the Council of Foreign Relations. Gee, I'm thinking here, what foreign policy experience does Kerry have that Rush doesn't? See if you can answer that question without muttering the phrase "glorified hemorrhoid".

The second was beyond ridiculous. He brought up the recent conviction of 3 members of the Rwandan media for their role in the genocide that resulted in the slaughter of 800,000 there. Then, as if by sheer reflex, he compared the conduct of these men -- often they would notify listeners to the precise locations of citizens to be targetted with machetes -- to the "hate-speech" of the Democratic candidates. Gah?!? This coming from a radio host who calls Tom Daschle "el diablo", and calls anti-war protesters "anti-American, anti-capitalist Marxists and communists".

Sorry, big guy, but I wont be back in 21 hours. If you're sad about this, I'm sure you have something around in which you can drown your sorrow.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


From blogger Dave Cullen, this is a good reason why I think Howard Dean should be the Democratic nominee.

When I read this, I found myself thinking about the campaigns of Clark, Edwards, Gephardt, and how they're still bumbling around trying to define their candidate and give him a proper soapbox. Meanwhile Howard's strategy rings of a grand vision for the future of electoral politics in America.

I can't decide on any one thing to excerpt from the linked entry, so you should definitely go check it out. The short version is, Dean essentially took his fundraising strategy and aimed it at Democratic Congressman Leonard Bosewll (D-IA) for a day. Boswell is on Karl Rove's 2004 hit list. Cullen prints an email from a Dean staffer saying that this is a preview of a grander election strategy regarding congressional candidates and others besides Dean himself. Now go read.

I happened to catch the first five minutes of The O'Reilly Factor tonight, before I drove one of my housemates to work. It was good to see Splotchy, after so much time apart.

He used up his entire "Talking Points" to bash the 9th Circuit Court. (Ooh! He said "the San Francisco court!" Great code word there! Nevermind that the Ninth also represents such liberal strongholds as Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Not that O'splotchy would mention that.)

Our hero from the mean streets of Westbury oozed with righteous dismay when he described how the dastardly 9th Circuit shot down the conviction of a drug offender, resulting in the man's release.

Billyboy might want to reserve some of that outrage for a certain Mister Grover Norquist. After all, it was his anti-tax fatwa on Alabama Governor Bob Riley that caused the people of that state to vote down Riley's necessary and Christ-like tax referendum to ensure solvency. Because of the budgetary mess that remains in the land of the Crimson Tide, five thousand prisoners are set to be paroled early because the state can no longer afford to house them. And that could just be the beginning.

If O'Liely got so upset over the release of one person, you can imagine what he'll sound like when five grand get to walk. Oh . . . wait . . . it's in the name of anti-tax demagoguery? Guess you wont be hearing anything from him!

I think I'll write him an email that he wont read. That oughtta show him.

I did this a bunch last year around the Christmas holiday season. And given that we have reached early December once again, I think it's time to reopen shop.

Fortunately, the LA Times has a piece on various kitsch items that should get us off to a roaring start.

Among the highlights:

Dick, the Albino Bowling Action Figure.
Buy him here for 9 bucks.

Bacon air fresheners.
Buy them at for 5 bucks.

And finally,

A McRoskey Airflex couture pet bed.
Find out about them here, expect them to set you back around 350 bucks. Were it not for the price, I actually think this is a good idea.

There's plenty more, including a menorah made entirely from shoes, Swiss Army cologne, and glow-in-the-dark Spam boxers. Again, here's the link. Happy holidays from TFM!

Back on sunday, I said:
Soon, Spain will likely hold a dignified memorial ceremony, with Presidnet Aznar in attendance, to honor the fallen Spanish dignitaries. It will be very similar to how Italy dealt with its tragedy earlier this month. But sadly, it will be very different from how our leaders have addressed the fallen American troops from this war.
And just a couple of days later, it came to pass:

How dare the people of Spain distract the American people from all the good news coming out of Iraq.

Look over there! He's holding a turkey!

We go into the town of Samarra in Iraq, get ambushed, and respond by fucking the insurgents up royal (with conflicting reports as to whether a significant portion of the 54 people we killed were civilians). That'll show 'em.

Only, it hasnt.
A U.S. soldier was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near the tense Iraqi town of Samarra on Tuesday, the U.S. Army said.

A military spokeswoman said a convoy from the U.S. 4th Infantry Division was the target of the attack south of Samarra, where American troops say they killed 54 Iraqis in a bloody street battle at the weekend.
Um, now what?

From the Hardball transcript to which Taranto links:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Dean, could you tell us how your administration will actually get bin Laden?
DEAN: I think this president is conducting the war on terror in exactly the wrong way. About three months ago, ABC News smuggled uranium into Los Angeles, California, from Jakarta, Indonesia, and we didn’t find out about it. That was the purpose, just to see if they could do it. And they did.
We’re spending a lot of money in Iraq. We’re spending money building tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, which are never going to be helpful fighting terrorism. And we’re not spending money on human intelligence and on cyber-intelligence and on cargo inspection and on buying the enriched uranium stocks of the former Soviet Union. If that stuff gets in terrorist hands, we have a major national security problem.
So what we’re going to do is focus on terrorism and not on nation states, unless the nation states merge with the terrorist organization, as they did in Afghanistan. And I supported the action we took in Afghanistan to fight terror.
But, by and large, this president, I don’t believe, has any idea how to fight terror. And I don’t think he is being particularly successful at it either. (emphasis TFM's)
This was earlier in the interview, a few minutes before the supposedly offending portion. So let's suppose, then, that in the Iran response Howard Dean was referring to all the former Soviet republics that could be giving nuclear equipment to Iran. It's a bit unwieldly to keep saying "the former Soviet Union" or "the former Soviet republics" at that frequency. So he said what he said, and we know what he meant. If you have a problem with that, of if you're a conservative pretending to have a problem with that, then you're an idiot trying to play gotcha.

Oh, great.
The Bush administration is proposing that mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants should not be regulated in the same way as some of the most toxic air pollutants, reversing a stance on air pollution control taken by the Clinton administration in 2000.

The change in planned regulations for mercury emissions from power plants is summarized in documents from the Environmental Protection Agency and is the first big policy decision by Michael O. Leavitt, who took over as the agency's administrator last month.

The agency is suggesting that mercury emissions be removed from the most stringent regulations of the Clean Air Act that have been used to limit the most toxic air pollutants. Among those are asbestos, chromium and lead, which have been known to cause cancers and neurological disorders.
Because there is nothing so harmless as . . . mercury. But don't worry, there are market-based solutions for everything, right?

Professor Reynolds reads a Howard Kurtz piece about how Valerie Plame is doing a 2-page photo shoot for Vanity Fair (without showing her face, btw), and based on this, he announces that the Plame scandal is bogus.
Sorry -- if you're really an undercover spy, and really worried about national security, you don't do this sort of thing. Unless, perhaps, you're a self-promoter first, and a spy second. Or your husband is.
Then, he adds an update...
Meanwhile a couple of readers wrote to say that Plame's cover (assuming that there was one) has already been "blown," so what's the problem with doing an Vanity Fair spread. Hmm. It was "blown" in October, too, when she said she couldn't be photographed. (And if the "it's already blown" analysis applies, why the self-dramatizing stuff about how she can't be recognized from these photos?)

Serious people don't do self-promoting spreads in Vanity Fair where important questions of national security are involved. Self-promoters (Wilson is trying to pitch a book, the article reports) do. Not knowing the underlying facts, I have to make my judgment by the behavior of the parties. And judging from that, the scandal is bogus, and Wilson is a self-promoter who can't be trusted. That's my judgment on this matter. Yours, of course, may vary. But if you see Wilson as anything other than a cheesy opportunist, well, then yours really varies.
I'm going to make this very, very simple. Whatever Plame and Wilson are doing right now is completely irrelevant. Valerie Plame doing photo shoots for Vanity Fair don't matter, heck, even if she was doing full-genitalia shots for Hustler it wouldnt matter! Joe Wilson's efforts at book-pitching don't matter, and it wouldn't matter if he was the leftiest left who ever lefted. (he did give money to dubya's 2000 campaign, btw)

The only thing that does matter is that two senior administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative to Bob Novak, thus breaking the law. Nothing Wilson and Plame do, no matter how crazy, can change that fact.

Now, if Bob Novak tells us that he made the whole thing up, and produces pictures of himself making the whole thing up back in July, then, maybe, the Plame scandal could be deemed "bogus".

UPDATE . . . Reynolds: "Bush not serious". Heh.

UPUPDATE . . . O-Dub: I Thought It Was Too Confusing?

Double heh.

James Taranto, the guy who runs the Wall St Journal's daily online column "Best of the Web Today", gets all excited about a little gaffe of Howard Dean's in his appearance on Hardball the other night:
On yesterday's "Hardball," Dean was asked by Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, what he would do about Iran. Here's what he said:
The key, I believe, to Iran, is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran I believe mostly likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union, and it may require us buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
That's four times Dean mentioned the Soviet Union--a country that hasn't existed for almost 12 years.
Okay, James, you got him, he said Soviet Union instead of "the former Soviet Union" or Russia. Congratulations. I wonder what I'd say if Chris Matthews was screaming in my ear for 45 minutes.

Only problem is, Taranto goes beyond his trivial triumph and tries to frame the gaffe historically:
Remember Gerald Ford's famous gaffe? In a 1976 presidential debate, he declared, "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration." Would that it were true--and of course it became true, 13 years later. But that statement may have cost Ford the election, which he narrowly lost to the execrable Jimmy Carter.

Now Howard Dean has committed the same gaffe, only in reverse.
This does not pass muster. Consider if Taranto were standing next to both Ford and Dean, at the time of each person's statement. Right after each says their lil bit, Taranto asks each of them, "What did you mean to say?" Dean would remark that he meant "the former Soviet Union" or Russia. But what the fuck would Ford say? "When I said that the Soviets don't control Eastern Europe, I meant that the Soviets do control Eastern Europe"??? These two comments aren't even in the same ballpark.

James Taranto does today exactly what Don Luskin did last week: Proclaim equivalence based on the use of a particular word, ignoring the profound differences of context. Next!

Yesterday I briefly expressed dismay at the thought of Ralph Nader running in 04, and possibly handing Bush a 2nd term.

But then again, here's Kevin Drum on the subject:
...maybe this is a good thing for the Democrats.

A good thing? Hear me out: can you think of anything more likely to energize the base and turn out Democratic voters than the spectre of Ralph Nader once again handing an election to George Bush? I guess I could, actually, but this would certainly be in the top five.

And given his past remarks it's not like he could credibly endorse a Democratic candidate anyway. So go for it, Ralph. Let your hate consume you and soon you will be a slave to the dark side. We need someone like you to help our fundraising efforts.
Good points. Nevertheless, I still feel like this is asking for trouble. There are enough vain, short-sighted, self-described "progressives" out there who might still be inclined to, you know, fuck it up for the rest of us. Posting flyers in your local co-op house that say "The only practical effect of voting for Nader is..." on them might not be enough for some people.

Yes, Kevin makes important points that the Dems could turn this into a positive. However, on the balance, TFM continues its recommendation of "don't run, you lazy-eyed megalomaniacal egotist".

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Oh dear god no.

Insta-hack tried the other day, now Mickey Kaus plays Dean-gotcha.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Dean where he'd prefer to see Osama bin Laden tried, should he be captured:
DEAN: You know, the truth is it doesn't make a lot of difference to me as long as he is brought to justice. I think that's the critical part of that.

MATTHEWS: How about Saddam Hussein? Should we try him in criminal and execute him...

DEAN: Again, we are allowing the Bosnian war criminals to be tried at The International Court in The Hague. That suits me fine. As long as they're brought to justice and tried, and so far we haven't had to have that discussion because the president has not been able to find either one of them.
Kaus thinks this could be used against Dean in the general election, as Willie Horton was used against Dukakis by Dubya's poppy. Well, Mickey, did you happen to pay attention to the words of just about every public figure in the months after 9/11? Virtually all of them said, in one form or another, that Osama should be "brought to justice". Nice try.

Then Mickey throws in something uh, interesting:
P.S.: Why do I think that if we have to give bin Laden a trial upon capture, we might choose not to capture him at all, but rather leave him at large (and relatively underpublicized) while we try to roll up his organization.
'Does Al Qaeda exist?'

'That, Mickey, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.'
DEAN 68, BUSH 18

Via Calpundit and Oxblog, we see that Gallup has done some polling on what professions are the most trustworthy. Nurses top the list (83%) with doctors close behind (68%). Way down the list, we find business executives (18%), and it bottoms out with car salesmen (7%).

So yeah, that's medical doctors (Dean) in a landslide over business execs (Bush).

Oh wait, you say, Dean was also a state governor (26%). Well, so was Bush. So let's take the averages of the two professions of each candidate and compare:

Dean: (26 + 68)/2 = 47%
Bush: (18 + 26)/2 = 22%

There you have it. Howard Dean is more than twice as trustworthy as George W Bush. Heh.
Tbogg on the Bill Janklow trial:
Even odds that he walks after being found guilty of the misdemeanor charges, speeding and running a stop sign...
From a political standpoint, I hope he walks. That means the right will never, ever be able to bring up Chappaquiddick again.

Scroll down at his site and you'll see he has a great alternate title to the upcoming Cruise epic The Last Samurai: "Dances with Samurai"
Given that yesterday was World AIDS Day, let's refresh ourselves on the president's committment to fighting the disease. Among the highlights:
--The White House’s Director of National AIDS Policy has written to Congress at least three times since the President’s Africa trip to try to stop Congress from providing full funding to global AIDS programs. The President has used distortions and half-truths about Africa to block expanded funding that would benefit all developing countries fighting AIDS.

--While publicly proclaiming his support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tb and Malaria, behind the scenes the Fund’s chairman, Secretary Tommy Thompson, is working to undermine the multilateral initiative. Because of White House pressure, the Global Fund will likely cut its grant-making in half next year. Europe has now far outpaced the US in donations to this innovative and cost-effective funding mechanism.

--The President’s new Global AIDS Coordinator, Randy Tobias, is implementing the Bush plan largely in secret. Important questions about the implementation of abstinence-until-marriage programs and support for groups that disparage condoms remain unaddressed.

--While stating his initiative on AIDS would use the cheapest available medications, the President is negotiating a Central America Free Trade Agreement and a wider Free Trade Agreement of the Americas that will undermine the price competition required to ensure broad access to medications for AIDS and other illnesses. The Bush approach threatens one of the world’s most successful anti-AIDS programs, that of the Brazilian government.
And that's just a sample.

Over at Pandagon, Ezra has a great idea: Replace Daschle with Hillary.
I think Hillary Clinton is the perfect choice. She's a female, but she's strong. She's a liberal from a liberal state (thus she's quite strong from an electoral perspective, her only real threat is Giuliani) but she takes smart stances on various issues. She can raise money like nobody's business and she's inherently controversial...

She has a star power that few can match, so that means her criticisms and moves will be taken seriously by the press. That is a tremendous boon, and it comes directly from her controversial nature. Further, she'll get the Right howling, and that's fine. Let them howl. It gives our people the chance to go on TV and look normal -- laud this great step for women, talk about how brilliant Hillary is (second in her class at Yale Law, Bill was third), get our issues out there, etc. Their virulent hatred of the Clintons didn't work when Bill was on top and it hasn't worked against Hillary, her book did great and her net favrorables have only continued to rise.

We're at our strongest when conservatives are toeing the line of bigotry, and Hillary will bring them to that edge. Moreover, she's smart, savvy, connected, and can use her star power to give our party the press it needs to be effective in opposition.
I love absolutely everything about this idea. The only question is whether Hillary's ascent to such a position in the near future would overshadow the Democratic candidates. Obviously it would not be her intent to do that, but it's the press that would accomplish this. If she does this anytime before, say, February, the right wing and possibly mainstream media would openly ponder if she's using the position to catapult herself above the Dem candidates to the nomination, no matter how nonsensical that sounds.

If the Senate Dems ever get serious about this idea, I think around early autumn, when congress reconvenes, would be a good time to do this, because by then the Dem nominee, be it Dean or whoever else, will be prominent enough that Hillary won't overshadow him/her.

Other than that, it's perfect. Everytime Bush says or does anything, the press will want a reaction from Hillary. And not to mention, the Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress would be women. Not bad.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Via Tom Burka, look who else made a surprise Thanksgiving trip.

Around the blogosphere it is often asked whether Professor/hack Glenn Reynolds actually reads substantial portions of the articles to which he links.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if he even reads the portions he excerpts.
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S PENCHANT FOR SECRECY has apparently found an unlikely admirer:
As investigative reporters and “oppo” researchers flock to Vermont to dig into Howard Dean’s past, they have run into a roadblock. A large chunk of Dean’s records as governor are locked in a remote state warehouse—the result of an aggressive legal strategy designed in part to protect Dean from political attacks.

DEAN—WHO HAS BLASTED the Bush administration for excessive secrecy—candidly acknowledged that politics was a major reason for locking up his own files when he left office last January. He told Vermont Public Radio he was putting a 10-year seal on many of his official papers—four years longer than previous Vermont governors—because of “future political considerations... We didn’t want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time.” (emphasis TFM's)
Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that.
This is, of course, a bullshit story. In his article, Michael Isikoff acknowledges that it's customary for outgoing governors in Vermont to seal official papers for 6 years (10 years minus four). Something tells me that if Dean's plan had been to seal his records for the usual 6, there would still be complaints from his political opponents. But of course, not every outgoing Vermont governor goes on to run for president. If former Vermont governor Richard Snelling, a Republican, planned to run for president after leaving the statehouse, he would have sealed portions of his records longer than the 6 years that he did.

This story actually surfaced back in the summertime, when some Republicans in the Vermont state senate complained. Here's the Dean campaign's statement from late July:
"One should consider the source and draw your own conclusions on motivation," Enright said. "The facts are that Howard Dean followed the precedent set by previous governors. The vast majority of his records have been made public, including all official correspondence, proclamations, declarations, pardons, extraditions, and appointments."
Standard practice, Professor. The Bushies' secrecy about energy, Iraq, not revealing the Plame leaker, stifiling the 9/11 commission, and so on, and so on, is NOT standard practice for a worthy president.

I assume, by the way, that Glenn is going to criticize Governor Schwarzenegger for buying up and destroying all copies of the outtakes from Pumping Iron. *crickets*

Do their daughters have something in common? Check out this tidbit from
Bush's Drinking Daughter Goes 'Pansy'

You know, some research says that those who are the most homophobic are the most likely to actually BE homosexuals. So what does that say about President George Bush? Well, we don't know if the Prez might hiding out with the queers in secret, but we do know his daughter isn't shy about hanging out with them in public. Bush's daughter Barbara was spotted recently having a gay old time at a concert by all-gay punk band Pansy Division. Barbara and friends cozied up in the back room drinking, while out front the band screamed their queer hearts out. The band reportedly dedicated their rabid anti-Bush song, Political Asshole, to the first daughter during the show. Daddy's just got to love that.
Dubya's gonna have a hard time explaining this one to the Falwellites, if true.

Oh, and from the same link, are Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell getting it on? Wow, broken hearts all around!

Colorado Supreme Court finds GOP's mid-decade redistricting plan unconstitutional.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is considering dismantling Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip while simultaneously annexing blocs of West Bank settlements if peace efforts fail, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Sharon adviser Zalman Shoval stopped short of confirming the report, but suggested Israel would keep some areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and leave others, if it were to take unilateral steps in the absence of a peace deal. Sharon is under increasing pressure to end three years of fighting and renew long-stalled talks.

On Friday, Maariv newspaper quoted unidentified officials as saying that Sharon would annex West Bank territories -- such as the large settlement blocs of Gush Etzion or Maale Adumim -- while dismantling some Gaza Strip settlements.

About 50,000 Israelis live in Gush Etzion and Maale Adumim -- two of the largest Jewish settlement areas near Jerusalem.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told the Associated Press that ''we will not accept annexing one centimeter of our land. We will not accept giving something in return for nothing.'' (full story)
Oh that Ariel Sharon is such a diplomatic charmer.
Tbogg catches Drudge in an interesting slip.

Funny, I never thought of Howard Kurtz that way. (just click the link)

Sunday, November 30, 2003


Looks like the Rhodes Scholar employees over at A&F don't understand the concept of how to wear boxers.

We've come to expect this. Drudge links to this recap of Hillary's visit to Iraq with this loaded headline: "Hillary tells troops there are questions about Bush policy"

The implication, to the "I hate Hitlery Klintoon" right, is that Clinton is pulling a Jane Fonda or something, running around Iraq telling our men and women in uniform how fucked up everything they're doing is.

How dare she do that! This is absolutely deplorable. Those fuckin' Clintons have no respect for the military. Heck, that's why her husband completely decimated the military while in office, right?*

Well, just in case, let's look at the actual article:
WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday the United States "must stay the course" in both Afghanistan and Iraq and called for more military personnel to finish the job.

The New York Democrat has spent two event-filled days meeting soldiers, leaders and citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq, and she spoke in a telephone interview from Kuwait.

"We have to exert all of our efforts militarily, but the outcome (in Iraq) is not assured," she said.

Clinton said it is still an open question whether the Bush administration can make the transition in Iraq from a war zone to an independent, representative government. In an interview with the Associated Press, she called for United Nations assistance in the process.

The morale of the troops, she said, "is very high," but she said the military personnel with whom she spoke in meetings and during "two turkey dinners" wanted to know "how the people at home feel about what we are doing."

" "Americans are wholeheartedly proud of what you are doing,' " Clinton said she replied, " "but there are many questions at home about the (Bush) administration's policies.' "
(italics TFM's)
So to recap: The troops were asking Hillary to tell them what public opinion was on the war in Iraq. Was she supposed to lie to them? If they ask, they can handle the truth. Recent polls have shown that more people disapprove of the Iraq operation than approve, so she told the precise truth. And Drudge mischaracterizes her by neglecting to point out that the phrase "there are questions" refers to the American people, who actually do have questions. Oh and by the way, Hillary cheers on the troops, telling them to "stay the course". That was the headline of the article, too.

* - No, of course Bill Clinton didn't decimate the military, but the right wants you to think that. Consult chapters 27 and 28 of Franken if you want to know more.

Damnit, and I was doing so well, too.

I had gone weeks, maybe an entire month without finding myself staring at the words of Gollum Luskin.

But when I saw that Glenn Reynolds linking to Luskin supposedly praising Krugman for getting one right -- what was I doing there, by the way -- I couldn't look away.

Skimming through some of the college dropout's ramblings and rants, I arrived at this post, which attacked a Krugman column I linked to earlier this week, late monday night I think, on the civility, or lack thereof, among many on the right.

Set phasers to stupid:
But my favorite part of today's Krugman tantrum is this line, referring to both of the two "hateful" quotes cited above:
"Again, there's that weasel word 'some.'"
Krugman doesn't like the unaccountability of the assertion that "some say" or "some are now attacking the President." Well, this one is a howler and a half. "Some" is Paul Krugman's own personal favorite weasel word. I just did a search and dozens upon dozens of examples poured out until I felt that weasels ripped my flesh. How about this triple-play some-fest, from his July 18 Times column:
"And just as some people argue that the war was justified even though it was sold on false pretenses, some say that the biggest budget deficit in history is justified even though the administration got us here with cooked numbers. Some point out that Ronald Reagan ran even bigger deficits as a share of G.D.P."
Ahh, but my favorite is this one, from a posting on Krugman's personal website, one of his many in response to my having ratted out his ghastly "divide-by-ten" tax-cut lie:
"There are some people who would accuse me of lying if I said that grass is green, but there's nothing to be done about that."
That "some" is... moi.
Let's go through everything. Masochistic? Yes, but I get paid by the word ($0/word, I know)...

Quickly, the context: It all relates to this column, and specifically, this passage:
More important, the Bush administration — which likes to portray itself as the inheritor of Reagan-like optimism — actually has a Nixonian habit of demonizing its opponents.

For example, here's President Bush on critics of his economic policies: "Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper. It bothers me when people say that." Because he used the word "some," he didn't literally lie — no doubt a careful search will find someone, somewhere, who says the recession should have been deeper. But he clearly intended to suggest that those who disagree with his policies don't care about helping the economy.

And that's nothing compared with the tactics now being used on foreign policy.

The campaign against "political hate speech" originates with the Republican National Committee. But last week the committee unveiled its first ad for the 2004 campaign, and it's as hateful as they come. "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists," it declares.

Again, there's that weasel word "some." No doubt someone doesn't believe that we should attack terrorists. But the serious criticism of the president, as the committee knows very well, is the reverse: that after an initial victory in Afghanistan he shifted his attention — and crucial resources — from fighting terrorism to other projects.
Anyway, this will actually take less time than originally planned...

Lusky does his usual thing, thinking that citing examples of the use of a word without fully considering the context somehow proves a point. Again, to be clear: Donald, just because Paul has used the word "some", it does not mean he used it in the same deceptive and/or vicious context in which Bush and the RNC used it.

Going through the Krugman quote Luskin cites as proof of Paul's double standard: There was polling that supports the first "some", there are economic pundits who fancy themselves as mainstream and take the position articulated in the second "some", and many of them probably also fall under the category of the third "some".

Viewed subjectively, each of the three "some" statements highlighted by Luskin can be viewed as intellectually honest, and do not contain any vicious political agenda in and of themselves.

In none of those three statements was Krugman suggesting that a tiny sliver of public and scholarly opinion be considered substantial by using the word "some". However, that's precisely what Bush did with his quote about how "some" thought his tax cuts kept the deficit from being deeper.

Also, in none of those three statements was Krugman assigning an objectively pro-terrorist viewpoint, possibly possessed by some very fringe elements, to mainstream participants of American political discourse. However, that's precisely what the RNC (and Bush?) did by claiming that "some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists". It was a campaign ad for the 2004 election, so regardless of whether it's appropriate or true, the "some" in the ad was meant to be interpreted as the Democratic candidates.

Do you see the difference, Luskin? Would you like me to draw a picture for you?

That last bit pretty much encapsulates why I shouldn't read Don Luskin. He nitpicks, isolates one little detail so inconsequential that it blinds him from the all-important context which is staring him (and us) right in the face.

Now let's tackle that last bit before we head to bed...

"That 'some' is... moi." . . . First of all, that comes from a piece on Krugman's personal site, and if you're reading that, then you're probably pretty online-politically-savvy and know all about Gollum Luskin, and Krugman knows that. Second of all, what does Luskin call the anti-Krugman operation? The "Krugman Truth Squad". That's squad, which is . . . PLURAL, dipshit! How can "moi" be a "squad"? Get your stories straight, moron. You wouldn't want some crazy STALKER to parse your ass, would you?

Heh. Back on the wagon I go, as I strive to avoid Luskin's "Obsession: The Blog" for as long as I can. Goodnight!

One interesting consequence of the Iraqi insurgency apparent strategy of isolating the US by targeting other foreigners (Italy, Spain, Japan, UN, Red Cross) and Iraqi collaborators is this: The coming-out party of the so-called "flypaper" theory has kinda died down, hasn't it?

It was tacky and cynical enough for the administration to celebrate the deaths of American soldiers as good developments. At least we may be seeing a threshold to the Bushies' arrogance: Telling Americans that the targetting of our allies in Iraq is making us safer wouldn't exactly go over well with the rest of the coalition, let alone the rest of the world, would it? I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised. Not that this means we'll get Bush back at the table in Kyoto or anything...

Soon, Spain will likely hold a dignified memorial ceremony, with Presidnet Aznar in attendance, to honor the fallen Spanish dignitaries. It will be very similar to how Italy dealt with its tragedy earlier this month. But sadly, it will be very different from how our leaders have addressed the fallen American troops from this war.