The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, January 17, 2004


But we sure love their reports.
As the United States scrambles to end a dispute with Shia leaders over plans to elect an interim government in Iraq before July, it has emerged that American commanders are seeking to reach out to tribal leaders by relying on a report devised in 1918 by Britain, the country's then ruler.

Lieutenant-Colonel Alan King, head of the Tribal Affairs Bureau set up by the US-led coalition last month, admitted last week that he had been referring to the pages of the British report to fathom Iraq's network of tribal sheikhs - regardless of the fact that it dates back to the First World War.

The revelation is not likely to improve confidence in the ability of the US to sort out the deepening muddle over how it means to relinquish political power to the Iraqi people by this summer. The plan to create an interim government before a 30 June deadline has been in doubt since objections were raised last week by the powerful Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani. His words set off mass demonstrations against the proposal in southern Iraq on Thursday.
One of the arguments made by opponents of the war, as well as opponents of the Bushies' execution of the war, is that so many of the things that have gone wrong since "mission accomplished" could have been easily predicted before the beginning of the conflict, but either weren't, or werent prepared for. This revelation, that we're using friggin Sykes-Picot-era intelligence, does not inspire me in the least.
Elton at Busy, Busy, Busy has been all over Slate's online dialogue "Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War.

Sorry about the lack of substance today, I have lots of reading on which I must catch up.
My review of Along Came Polly is up at Click here.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who voted fo "centrist" Arnold Schwarzenegger, endorses Howard Dean.
500. How many more...

Friday, January 16, 2004

Margaret Cho strikes back in her BuzzFlash interview.
Almost 99% of the hate mail that I was seeing haven't pointed out anything about what exactly made them mad about what I said. What they pointed out is that I'm a Chink, and I need to go back to the Orient or go back to where I came from, or go back to my country, which is kind of hard because this is my country. I can't really "go back to my country" because I'm already here.
There's much more where that came from.

Hesiod notices that some Republicans (O'Splotchy, for instance) are jumping to Dean's defense now that Iowa is a dead-heat.

The media is running with a "Dean is beleaguered" theme for the moment, and is going after him. Nevermind that Dean has never had a large lead in Iowa to begin with.

Anyway, Hesiod correctly reminds us,
Again, just because the Republicans want to run against Dean...doesn't mean that he can't beat Bush, OK?
Exactly. Here's the thing: At this point it's not that Republicans want Dean as the nominee right now because they think he's the most beatable. They want Dean because he's been viewed as the unstoppable sure-fire nominee for a few months now. During that time, the Republicans in DC and the so-called liberal media have had plenty of opportunities to test, re-calibrate and fine-tune their attacks on Dean, specifically for him. ("pessimistic!" "angry!" "unelectable!" "gaffe-prone!") If, say, John Edwards or Wesley Clark suddenly became the frontrunner, and then the nominee, the Republicans would basically have to start from scratch. It's not that they don't have things with which they think they can attack those candidates. It's that those things take some measure of time to go from RNC fax machines to media-accepted Conventional Wisdom. They'd have to start all over. And besides, suddenly stopping the demonization of Howard Dean in order to demonize Wesley Clark would look, well, pretty transparent to some voters, so it would have to take time.

And oh by the way, so nobody gets too excited, Dean leads in more states than all the other candidates combined times two.

UPDATE: With Kerry taking the lead in Iowa, you just knew he'd have to get Drudged.

Here are the numbers from Zogby's daily tracking poll (1/13-15), with the previous poll results in parentheses (1/12-14):
Kerry 24 (22)
Dean 19 (21)
Gephardt 19 (21)
Edwards 17 (17)
Now I'm surprised by this. It's true that Dean and Gep have been slugging it out against eachother for a while, with both candidates going pretty negative. That may have turned off some Iowa voters, but for them to coalesce around John Kerry seems strange to me. I would have expected Edwards to make the big move instead, especially after the Des Moines Register endorsement.

I'm sticking to my prediction of a small Dean victory, with either Kerry or Gephardt in second. The Jimmy Carter appearance is coming up on sunday, and that could tip the scales in the Doctor's favor.

More good news for John Kerry is this: According to ARG's tracking poll, he seems to be gaining ground in New Hampshire. In the same three-day period that his numbers went up 7 percent in Iowa, they went up 5 percent in the Granite State. He'd still have to leapfrog both Clark and Dean, but that task could be easier if he rides into New Hampshire after winning Iowa.

More fair tidings for Kerry: If he comes back and wins Iowa, he's gonna get positive press treatment as a resilient, "comeback" candidate. Furthermore, it would be a good thing if the Democratic nominee shows that he can come back from adversity. Dean did it by moving from being a fringe, moneyless candidacy to the insurgent frontrunner, so maybe Kerry has it in him too.

No matter what happens, this will be very exciting.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Josh Marshall is all over Drudge's latest slime against a Democratic candidate.

Marshall provides something rather useful, like, you know, the full transcript from which Drudge cherry-picked the lines in question.

At this point, a meager 50% of black candidates for President have wholly endorsed him.
Four days before the Iowa caucuses, Carol Moseley Braun dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, and threw her support behind former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

"I am here today to thank those Iowans who were prepared to stand for me in Monday's caucuses and ask that you stand instead for Howard Dean," Braun said.

Braun was joined during her announcement by Dean and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.
Braun was polling at 1 percent in Iowa, but that, coupled with the Carter "endorsement", could make the difference for Dean, as the race in the first-in-the-nation caucus has become a virtual 4-way tie, with John Kerry holding a surprising 1-point lead.

I don't know how this will end up --frankly, I'm excited-- but if I had to predict, I'd say that Dean edges Kerry, and Gephardt, finishing in a surprising 3rd place, drops out soon after.

For the second quarter in a row, I am taking a class from self-described "moderate Democrat" Michael Gordon. That link takes you to his rather long-winded weblog, "The Buggy Professor". He has an extensive blogroll, totalling exactly zero (used to be one link, to Drezner, but that's it), but that's beside the point.

For a self-described "moderate Democrat", he sure assigns a lot of material your average moderate Democrat wouldn't touch. Highlights of the reading syllabus for "PolSci 129 - The War on Terrorism and its Far-flung Implications:
Colin Powell (2)
Ralph Peters
Victor Davis Hanson (3)
Charles Krauthammer (2)
Christopher Hitchens
David Brooks (2)
American Enterprise Institute
James Woolsey
Douglas Feith (2)
Bernard Lewis (5)
Robert Spencer
3 Frontpage symposiums
Robert Kagan
Bill Kristol
Jeff Jacoby
Fred Barnes
Max Boot
But of course, Gordon goes to every length to create some level of balance to the class. He even has a section devoted to "American and foreign critics" of Bush's foreign policy, including a total of... four short articles. And there are two more problems: 1) Two deal exclusively with Noam Chomsky, and 2) They are written by critics of Chomsky. So by this standard, can I start a class called "the Evolving American Family", including a section in the syllabus called "critics of the liberal family view", where all the readings are critiques of the words of Reverend Fred Phelps?

There are two more extra tasty crispy bonus offenses from Gordon's syllabus that deserve mentioning. In dealing with Iraq, he suggests that his students read Iraq The Model, a righty favorite of blogs from within Iraq, offering only one perspective from inside the country, neverminding that other perspectives might be useful.

The other tasty morsel from Gordon's syllabus is that he wants his students to read . . . a FreeRepublic thread. Apparently Michael Gordon thinks comments like these are useful for gaining a full understanding of the War on Terrorism and its Implications:
To: jalisco555
The only decent "lefts" that I know of are the ones located on the NASCAR tracks.

2 posted on 03/14/2002 5:47:53 AM PST by Howie66


To: Howie66
Joe Frazier used to throw a "wicked" left.

3 posted on 03/14/2002 5:49:47 AM PST by sinclair


To: jalisco555
There can be decent "lefts" if they stay out of the government so they can't keep giving away our money to shiftless welfare bums.

4 posted on 03/14/2002 6:03:40 AM PST by ThinkLikeWaterAndReeds

Also, the unfortunate implication of this is that Gordon, again a self-described "moderate Democrat", spends his evenings sifting through FreeRepublic. Or maybe he googled around for the article posted at the thread, hopefully. But I wouldn't be surprised if the former were true.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Strike 254 for the Bushies on WMD:
Tests by Danish and American experts indicate there is no chemical warfare agent in mortar shells unearthed last week in southern Iraq, but more testing is needed to confirm the findings, the Danish military reported Wednesday.

The preliminary findings cast doubt whether the suspicious shells will become the "smoking gun" proving that Iraq still maintained supplies of banned chemical weapons when the United States and its allies launched the war last March.

The U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group conducted tests on five shells and none of them showed traces of chemical agents, the Danish army said in a statement released in Copenhagen.

"Based on the tests, the experts conclude that none of the shells contain chemical warfare agents," it said, adding that more tests are needed for final confirmation.
Well, I suppose they can check the moon if they want.

She loves him more than he will ever know
He loves her more than he will ever show
-Nirvana, "Swap Meet"

An email advertising this:
Come to the 3rd semesterly ASUC Bookswap!
Buy, sell, and trade with other students and cash in without the middleman!

Tuesday and Wednesday, January 20 & 21
11 am - 3 pm
Sproul Plaza

for more info ...
web: csba's
...made me think of that 1989 Nirvana song from their debut album Bleach which costed less than a thousand dollars to make.

Anyway, go swap those books. Come with Bernard Lewis, and leave with Edward Said!

Thanks, Fox, for giving us this one.

"I'm writing my name in the Sea of Tranquility, ahhhhh, yyyeeeaahh..."

But seriously, folks, what of this Moon/Mars mission? In a word with an apostrophe, c'mon! If, at first glance, this strikes you as anything other than an election ploy to distract Americans from what's happening on, you know, Earth, then you have some thinking to do.

BuzzFlash interviews UCB Prof George Lakoff, discussing how issues are framed in political discourse.
George Lakoff: The first thing to know about language is that it expresses ideas and thoughts. Every word is defined with respect to what cognitive scientists call a frame. A frame is a conceptual structure of a certain form. Let me give you an example. Suppose I say the word "relief." The word "relief" has a conceptual frame associated with it. Here's the frame: In order to give someone relief, there has to be an affliction and an afflicted party -- somebody who's harmed by this affliction -- and a reliever, somebody who gives relief to the afflicted party or takes away the harm or pain. That reliever is a hero. And if someone tries to stop the person giving relief from doing so, they're a bad guy. They're a villain. They want to keep the affliction ongoing. So when you use only one word, "relief," all of that information is called up. That is a simple conceptual frame.

Then there's metaphorical thought. We all think metaphorically. When you add "tax" to "relief" to give you the term "tax relief," it says that taxation is an affliction. That's a new metaphor. Then, using the metaphor, anyone who gets rid of the taxation -- the affliction -- is a hero, and anybody who tries to stop him is a bad guy.

On the first day that Bush came into office, the language completely changed coming out of the White House. The press releases all changed. One of the new expressions that came in was the term "tax relief." It evokes all of these things -- that taxation is an affliction that we have to get rid of, that it's a heroic thing to do, that people who try to prevent this heroic thing are bad guys.

The press releases went out to all the TV stations, all the radio stations, all the newspapers -- and soon the media started using the term "tax relief." That puts a certain frame out there: a conservative frame, not a progressive frame. Soon a lot of people are using the term "tax relief," and, before you know it, Democrats start using the term "tax relief," and shooting themselves in the foot.

That's a nice example of how language can evoke a way of understanding society, the world, economic policy, and so on, with just two words -- very, very simple. This happens all the time.

BuzzFlash: Is the use of the phrase "tax relief" and all it evokes an example of framing an issue, so that cutting taxes is seen as "tax relief"?

George Lakoff: That's right. That is framing an issue. One of the first things I teach about framing is this: I give my students an exercise. I say, "Don't think of an elephant. Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant." And of course, they can't do it. You have to think of an elephant in order to not think of one. The word "elephant" evokes an image and knowledge about that image -- it's a frame. Negating a frame evokes the frame.

So if you go on Fox News -- "fair and balanced" -- two liberals, two conservatives, and one commentator who is asking the questions, and the question is, "Are you in favor of the President's tax relief program or are you against it?" -- it doesn't matter what you say. If you say, "I'm against tax relief," you're still evoking that framing. You're still in their frame, and all that it automatically brings with it: what kinds of policies are good, who is bad, and so on. That's how Fox News works. It frames the issues from a conservative perspective. Once the issue is framed, if you accept the framing, if you accept the language, it's all over.
Lakoff then gives some advice to Howard Dean on how to rhetorically support his position that the entirety of Bush's tax cuts should be rolled back. From the looks of his advice, it appears to be supplemental to the tactics Dean is currently employing, namely the identification of the "Bush tax".

It is an interesting irony that while conservatives lambast us progressives as being the enforcers of politically-correct orthodoxy, Democrats have been consistently bad at framing issues for decades now, frequently resorting to using the language of Republicans, including but certainly not limited to "tax relief".

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


TFM reader Alex Charlow has restored his old web community, "The O House", to its prior grandeur, and then some. it is now located at:
That shouldn't be too hard to remember, right?

Go register for the boards there, where you can debate whether Scotty from StarTrek TOS or Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons would win in a fight.

There will be a link to The O House on the left side of this blog, in the "Friends..." category.
How dare Chuck D use a cuss word! Those liberals are just so diabolically angry!

Actually, I agree with Atrios that from whatever stuff Matt Drudge scraped out ("well, I supported the Dems, but after that whole Margaret Cho thing..."), that they seem to be having fun more than anything else.

That being said, Al Franken's comment nearly knocked me off my chair:
"I'm Al Franken. I'm here to present the funniest ad award. I'm a last-minute substitution, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was supposed to be the presenter, but unfortunately he was murdered."

MoveOn has chosen a winner in their "Bush in 30 Seconds" commercial contest. Here are links through which you can watch the winner: High bandwidth, Low bandwidth. It's simple, striking, and very well done.

Their stated goal for the ad has me excited: To get it played during the Super Bowl. They need $10 million to do that, and they're 75% of the way there.

Naturally, Fox News will throw together a 3-hour-long special edition of Hannity & Colmes with special guest hosts Paris Hilton and Hillary Duff.

[Oh great, now you're going to get hits from people searching for "Paris Hilton and Hillary Duff" -ed. Well, I want to be the blogger for guys with naked-lady mudflaps on their pickup trucks!]

Salon's Eric Boehlert has written a comprehensive piece on Gore-ing of Howard Dean. Some choice bits:
Today, the parallels between the Dean and Gore press coverage are impossible to miss. There's the charge Dean is constantly trying to "reinvent" himself, which Gore was accused of in 2000. That Dean is "angry"; Gore was tagged a "savage campaigner" during the primaries. There's the often nit-picking obsession with the "gaffes" that supposedly bedevil Dean; for Gore the problem was "exaggerations." There's even a tedious debate in the press about whether the New York City apartment Dean grew up in was luxurious, just as pundits went back and forth, in all seriousness, over whether as a boy Gore grew up in a fancy "suite" or just an "apartment" inside Washington's Fairfax Hotel.

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently ridiculed Dean for beginning "a sentence with, 'Us rural people ...' Dean grew up on Park Avenue and in East Hampton. If he's a rural person, I'm the Queen of Sheba." Somebody might want to tell Brooks (or his editor) that Dean has spent half his life living in Vermont, and his wife still practices family medicine in the tiny town of Shelburne (pop: 6,618). Meanwhile, of course, the Andover, Yale and Harvard-educated Bush's claim to a pure Texas pedigree is rarely questioned.
And of course, Tim Russert rears his giant head:
During the hour-long sit-down, Dean faced off against a clearly combative host, Tim Russert, who prepared for the interview, in part, by asking the Bush Treasury Department to produce what the Washington Post called a "highly selective" analysis of the Democratic tax program, including rolling back scheduled tax cuts. Later in the program came a pop-quiz question about how many men and women currently serve in the military. When Dean said he didn't know the exact number and complained it was like asking him "who the ambassador to Rwanda is," Russert shot back: "As commander in chief, you should know that." Dean estimated there were between 1 and 2 million men and women in active duty; according to the Pentagon, there are 1.4 million.

What a sharp contrast to '99, when Russert had a warm, respectful one-on-one with then-candidate Bush. When the host sprang a specific policy question on Bush about how many missiles would still be in place if a new START II nuclear weapons treaty were signed, Bush answered: "I can't remember the exact number." But unlike his session with Dean, Russert dropped the topic without lecturing Bush that "as commander in chief, you should know that."
And there's plenty on the "anger" meme:
In the wake of "Meet the Press," the Washington Post on July 1 reported that a "new contentiousness" was creeping into Dean's press coverage. The paper made that a self-fulfilling prophecy on July 6, uncorking the Page 1 Dean profile that opened with the image of the former governor's bulging veins. In fact, in just two summertime features the Washington Post managed to use the following words to describe Dean: "abrasive," "flinty," "cranky," "arrogant," "disrespectful," "yelling," "hollering," "fiery," "red-faced," "hothead," "testy," "short-fused," "angry," "worked up," and "fired up." And none of those adjectives were used in a complimentary way. In fact the Post, in an Aug. 4 Is-Dean-mean story, took pains to distinguish him from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whom the paper termed "brilliantly cranky."

Soon the rest of the press was lavishing attention on Dean's temper -- researching it, analyzing it, trying to document it. Both Time and Newsweek's August cover stories on Dean dutifully dwelled on the issue of anger. For Republicans the anger angle fit perfectly with the party's plan to attack Dean personally rather than politically. As was true with Gore in 2000, the GOP spin machine is paying less attention to Dean's policy agenda than to his alleged personality defects: "Arrogance" and "anger" are high on that list.

Picking up on the press's handiwork, RNC chairman Ed Gillespie amplified the theme in September, accusing Democratic candidates of using "political hate speech" in their attacks on Bush. Soon the Bush reelection campaign Web site featured an anti-Dean video dubbed, "When Angry Democrats Attack." More recently, a December RNC press release insisted Dean's "Foreign Policy Attack Based on Anger Not Facts." Bush himself sent out a fundraising letter, asking for help fending off "angry attacks" by Democrats. And last week Rush Limbaugh declared Dean to be "mad," "angry" and "fit to be tied."

Lately, it's been hard to tell where GOP spin ends and independent analysis begins. On Dec. 28, the New York Times wrote, "President Bush's campaign has settled on a plan to run against Howard Dean that would portray him as reckless, angry and pessimistic." Two days later a Times headline described Dean as "prickly." On Jan. 3, the paper ran an entire article about Dean's temper.

And yet the anger issue may be fading, perhaps because reporters and pundits haven't actually been able to uncover Dean's temper. As the Times conceded in its obligatory Dean-is-angry article, nobody has seen him explode during this entire campaign. (The Times did manage to detail, secondhand, how years ago as governor, Dean once slammed his fist on a table.) Despite being publicly attacked by his Democratic rivals, by centrists at the Democratic Leadership Council, by Republicans, and by pundits (last month Slate magazine compared Dean to a "suicide bomber"), the candidate has kept his cool throughout.
And the numbers don't back up the "temper thing" either:
More bad news for that beloved press story line: Seventy-six percent of Democrats consider Dean "likable," according to the latest CNN/Time poll. And among the larger pool of respondents, including Republicans and Independents, by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 they consider Dean to be an "optimist," not a "pessimist." (In addition, 40 percent opt for either "moderate" or "conservative" to describe Dean; just 24 percent pick "liberal.") It's the press, egged on by Republican spin and eager to play the role of hardheaded analyst, that has latched onto this notion that Dean is too passionate to be president.
Even if you're not a Dean supporter, Boehlert's piece is very instructive, as is his fittingly similar piece on the media's similar treatment of Al Gore in 2000, from the December 2001 issue of Rolling Stone. If you're a Clark-head or a Gep-aholic, and your guy finds himself the frontrunner, it could (and will) happen to him too.

The Bushies and the RNC are banking on their Gore-2000 media strategy working for them again this November. But will it? Not necessarily, particularly if Dean winds up being the nominee. Howard Dean's campaign, from its grassroots base to its vast internet machine, is much more capable of un-Gore-ing their candidate than that of the 2000 President-elect. Plus, the RNC/media attacks on Dean are peaking at a pretty early point in the campaign cycle, meaning that the Bushies are tipping their hand pretty early (before a single meaningful vote has been cast), and also that the attacks on Dean could be scrapped along with the usual heap of Democratic primary combativeness. And just before I remove my head from Dean's ass for the rest of the day, may I say this: By the time the general election campaign gains a full head of steam, and the general population gets to know the Doctor better, the current media-created incarnation of Howard Dean and the actual Howard Dean people see may bear little resemblance to eachother.

Monday, January 12, 2004

THE POLITICS OF ________ ___________

Josh Marshall sums up the Bushies' response to the Suskind/O'Neill story.
So now the White House has pilloried Paul O’Neill as a sorry doofus and, by all appearances, launched a punitive investigation against him.

How about denying any of his claims or those in Suskind’s book?

Just a thought ...
I wonder what David Brock would say.

Go take Mad Kane's Bush Quote Quiz. (link via atrios)

Jeebus, I had forgotten about "We've had a great weekend here in the Land of the Enchanted."
50% TRUE

Matt Drudge tries his darndest to minimize the impact of Paul O'Neill's revelations by posting some tv ratings:
There's some interesting sleight of hand at work here. In half of the country, 60 Minutes and the Eagles-Packers game were not in direct competition.

Besides, I have a strange hunch that more people watched the NFC Divisional Playoff games than 60 Minutes the same weekend last year too.

Anyway, my condolences to Matt Drudge for his sadness in that he wasn't able to report that O'Neill had checked into a "mental institution" while working with Suskind on the book.
Tom Burka has a transcript of one of those cabinet meetings to which Paul O'Neill was referring when he called the president disengaged and likened him to "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people".

Not a bad set of games, eh?

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, I can see Jeff Garcia throwing a dead-duck interception very similar to the one thrown by Brett Favre on Sunday evening.

Anyway, I didn't change my Divisional Playoff picks because I nailed all 4 Wild Card games so the team lineup didn't change.

This week I went 3 for 4. The Rams did their darnedest to fight their way back into the game on Saturday, but it's all good, especially since I despise them.

Let's make a new round of picks, for the Conference Championship Games (again, home team in CAPS):
Indianapolis 30, NEW ENGLAND 27 . . . I had the Pats winning this game before, but after seeing the way Peyton Manning has played these last couple of games, I'd be a foo' to bet against him. Dungy gets his Super Bowl.

PHILADELPHIA 23, Carolina 20 (overtime) . . . Another cold-weather classic, with McNabb sputtering, falterting, but ultimately redeeming himself in the end.
I'll reserve my Super Bowl pick when the dust settles after the coming weekend's games.

Those darn pinko Army communists.
A scathing new report published by the Army War College broadly criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, accusing it of taking a detour into an "unnecessary" war in Iraq and pursuing an "unrealistic" quest against terrorism that may lead to U.S. wars with states that pose no serious threat.

The report, by Jeffrey Record, a visiting professor at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, warns that as a result of those mistakes, the Army is "near the breaking point."

It recommends, among other things, scaling back the scope of the "global war on terrorism" and instead focusing on the narrower threat posed by the al Qaeda terrorist network.

"[T]he global war on terrorism as currently defined and waged is dangerously indiscriminate and ambitious, and accordingly . . . its parameters should be readjusted," Record writes. Currently, he adds, the anti-terrorism campaign "is strategically unfocused, promises more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security."


Many of Record's arguments, such as the contention that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was deterred and did not present a threat, have been made by critics of the administration. Iraq, he concludes, "was a war-of-choice distraction from the war of necessity against al Qaeda." But it is unusual to have such views published by the War College, the Army's premier academic institution.
RNC chief Ed Gillespie paces around his office looking for a way to counter this report...
Record's core criticism is that the administration is biting off more than it can chew. He likens the scale of U.S. ambitions in the war on terrorism to Adolf Hitler's overreach in World War II. "A cardinal rule of strategy is to keep your enemies to a manageable number," he writes. "The Germans were defeated in two world wars . . . because their strategic ends outran their available means."
Aha! There it is, Ed! They mentioned German imperial overstretch! Obviously they are comparing Bush to Hitler, how dare they! So it's time for Gillespie to hit the cable-news circuit and make a fuss, right? Those angry lefties in the US Armed Forces!

The last paragraph is also interesting:
The essay concludes with several recommendations. Some are fairly noncontroversial, such as increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps, a position that appears to be gathering support in Congress. But he also says the United States should scale back its ambitions in Iraq, and be prepared to settle for a "friendly autocracy" there rather than a genuine democracy.
Hmm, a "friendly autocracy". Kinda like back in, say, the mid-late 1980's, when Iraq was led by . . . Saddam Hussein! We'll start shipping more chemical and biological weapons there, I assume. Of course, the Bushies may have to be prepared to face another possibility in their new toy Iraq: "a bloody civil war".

For now, the Bush policy continues to be " long as shit and fan don't meet until 2005".

These days, presidential candidates announce they are running at least 3, often 800 times in the 2-year period before the general election. And given that I've posted a small handful of times since the New Year was rung in, it is still appropriate for me to launch the 2004 edition of The Facts Machine, right here, and right now.

Welcome back everybody! Make yourselves at home, for regular posting should kick back into action this week, and shall continue deep into the forseeable future.

On the far right of the screen, if you scroll down, you'll find a bits-and-pieces summation of both myself and my occasionally-contributing co-writer and girlfriend Laurie. The short version: I'm an early-twenties Democrat who is finishing up a political science degree at UC Santa Barbara. I'm also an experienced singer-songwriter and have a variety of other talents. Hopefully, thoughtful-but-concise political punditry can be included among them.

I don't have much to say right now, but I caught bits and pieces of the final Democratic prez debate before the Iowa caucus earlier tonight, and I just saw a rerun of the post-debate edition of Hardball. After watching a woman identified as a Republican pollster trumpet on and on about how Bush, through his Medicare bill and the new immigration proposal, is forcing Democrats to reevaluate their positions on their classic issues and focus on other things, I came to a realization that the TV needed to be turned off.

From this brief episode, us Democrats can divine a very important lesson:

Do NOT believe Republican interpretations of disagreements between Democrats.

When Lieberman, Kerry, or Gephardt talk about unusual issues or make seemingly-outlying pledges on other issues, or even discuss traditionally Republican issues on their terms, it has nothing to do with George W Bush. Heck, it may not have much to do with their actual convictions. What it does have to do with, however, is Howard Dean. The other major candidates are simply looking for an opening, any opening, with which they can chip away at the Doctor's perceived frontrunner status. This process has nothing to do with Bush, at least directly.

Case in point: The attacks on Dean for his comment that the capture of Saddam Hussein hadn't made Americans any safer. John Kerry, for example, didn't attack Howard Dean for making this comment because he suddenly believed Bush was doing a good job handling Iraq. Nay, he attacked Dean because he thought he had a political opening, one he thought he could use to catapult himself back into first place in New Hampshire. But alas, he has now sunk into third place in the Granite State, behind the General.

This is why I simply wont support John Kerry for the nomination. With him, and to a lesser extent Gephardt and Lieberman, his attacks are less about principles and substance and more about political opportunism. Frankly, we already have that in the White House.

Anyway, back to Hardball: The point is that the squabbling between the Democratic candidates -- which I still think will be a distant memory long before the party conventions -- is symptomatic of the candidates and their electoral dynamic within the party, and not because of anything Smirk did. Why does Chris Matthews even bother having GOP propagandists do commentary on Dem debates? Oh, wait, this is Matthews we're talking about.

And hey, it's no relief that when the pollster finishes, Matthews says: "Thanks, now over to Newsweek political correspondent Howard Fineman...".

Ah well, good thing nobody watches MSNBC.