The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Billmon gives us a timeline of quotes on those "mobile weapons labs", you know, the ones Colin Powell brought up yesterday.

Aww, that's disappointing.
A publisher has cancelled plans to reissue a racy novel by Lynne Cheney, wife of U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, after she said the book did not represent "her best work."

New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Group (U.S.A.), was going to reprint Sisters, an historical romance published in 1981 that includes brothels, attempted rapes and a lesbian love affair.[...]

Liberals have often mocked Sisters, noting Cheney is a longtime conservative and President George W. Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The novel was the subject of a recent satirical performance at the New York Theatre Workshop, with actors reading such passages as: "Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement."

"In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl."
More excerpts can be found here (yeah,, but it's real). It's too bad Eminem didn't think to stick some of this in the first verse of "Without Me".

On the other hand, Bill O'Reilly was more than happy to witness the paperback reissuing of his magnificent novel Those who Trespass, which includes these classic lines:
"Ashley was now wearing only brief white panties. She had signaled her desire by removing her shirt and skirt, and by leaning back on the couch. She closed her eyes, concentrating on nothing but Shannon's tongue and lips. He gently teased her by licking the areas around her most sensitive erogenous zone. Then he slipped her panties down her legs and, within seconds, his tongue was inside her, moving rapidly."
(I can always count on at least one customer review having that line)

I'm sure most of you know that Those who Trespass probably gained its newfound popularity from its being prominently featured in Al Franken's book. Now wait a minute. O'Reilly, through Fox News, sued Franken about the book's title, knowing full well that doing so would bring significant attention, and sales figures, to Franken's book. The popularity of Franken's book brought O'Reilly's old book back into the spotlight, causing a reissue that made O'Reilly more money. Doesn't this make O'Reilly's suit seem just a tad disingenuous?

Well, to be sure, Bill O'Reilly is looking out for himself.

(lynne cheney link via a Kos diarist)

I saw it linked on Pandagon. I tried my damndest to give the most Krugmanesque answers possible, backing off slightly in one or two places. And yet,
Maureen Dowd

You are Maureen Dowd! You like to give people silly
nicknames and write in really short, non
sequitur paragraphs. You're the most playful of
the columnists and a rock-ribbed liberal, but
are often accused of being too flamboyant and
frivolous. You tend to focus on style over
substance, personality over politics. But your
heart is in the right place. Plus, you are a
total fox.

Which New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
I guess I'll have to mix "Boy King" and "Rip Van Rummy" into my posts more often then.

UPDATE: From World o' Crap, (via atrios) comes an equally entertaining quiz: Which Townhall Columnist Are You?

Remember, as with most tests, there are no right answers. In this case, there really are no right answers. Er, there are right answers, anyway you get the point. But if you want to know, given my affinity for the Simpsons, guess who I got stuck with.

(Though Ann Coulter actually did call my brother a "girly man")
What are Catholic voters ever to do about John Kerry, who supports a woman's right to choose?

What would Catholic voters ever do about George W Bush, who supports the death penalty? And we know what the Pope thought of Bush's rush to war in Iraq.

Maybe I miss the good old days, when the South was the spoiled brat of presidential politics.
If he jumps, have no fear

I love McCain speculation. Now if I were a betting man, I'd say there's very little chance that he would jump over to the Democrats, and even less that he'd be Kerry's running mate. But I didn't say it was a real possibility. All I said was that it's fun!

Kos -- the target of some Grade-A mock outrage from the right lately -- has some thoughts on McCain:
Keep in mind that his voting record would immediately improve if he were to switch parties (party discipline, while not absolute, is still a powerful force. Especially since he still has to raise money as a Republican for his reelection fights). So it may be a bit unfair to hold him against his past record. I'd be more interested in where he would stand in the future on issues like choice and the war in Iraq (which he strongly supported).
Hmm... a guy in Washington who's been strongly anti-choice for a long time... hypothetically runs for nationwide elective office as a Democrat... and suddenly becomes pro-choice! Hey, it could happen!

Now now, my intent is not to take a shot at my boy Dennis. Especially since I'm playing him this quarter. My point is that if a portion of the Democratic party's left flank was willing to support a guy who only recently got religion on a woman's right to choose, after building up a substantial voting record against it, then I wouldn't worry about McCain if he entered Donkey Federation territory and his abortion stance changed for the better.

For a while, at least within my mind, I was pretty gung-ho about the possibility of a Kerry-Edwards ticket, as it would have the potential for 16 years of executive control for the Democrats. I'm now on the fence about that, but given calls from such people as Nancy Pelosi that Kerry pick a running mate by May 1st, I will further articulate my views on whom Kerry should choose soon...

My one-word review of a Kerry-McCain ticket? Spicy!!!

Via Slate's "Today's Papers" feature -- a valuable once-a-day email for anyone who subscribes to it -- there's this report from economist Sung Won Sohn, on the nature of March's encouraging employment numbers.
Technical factors such as the end of the grocery strike and seasonable weather boosted employment in retail and construction. The report was also helped by the significant jump in part-time workers for economic reasons to 4.7 million from 4.4 million. In fact, the increase in part-timers accounted for the vast majority of the increase in employment. The average duration of unemployment has been lengthening, persuading unemployed workers to accept part-time jobs. This in part explains the reason for the decline in the average workweek and no increase in overtime.
Michael Brus of Slate notes that the Post estimates the jobs regained after the end of the UFCW stike to be around 15,000. Unfortunately, that job addition is a one-time-only event, and not really indicative of any economic trends.

Also note that the increase in "part-time workers for economic reasons" -- in other words, "this is all I can find, but I'm probably still screwed" -- was around 300 thousand, about equal to the establishment survey's job numbers on the whole. Yes, of course it's much more complicated than that, I know. But at bare minimum, the part-time numbers must have been a significant part of job growth in March, possibly the difference between a numerically good month and a numerically spinnable month.

My question for the administration is, how can the tax cuts be the tonic that fostered March's job growth if all that happened last month is that some people who were unemployed for a really long time have become desperate for whatever low amounts of money they could make and opted for part-time work? If these vaunted "small businesses" and large ones, for that matter, are only able to hire more workers on a part-time basis, how does that either 1) help those workers or 2) show that the tax cuts are "working"?

Anyway, all that being said, I'm interested to see how the April numbers will end up looking, to see where the trends lead.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Bill Saletan notes that Bush's flip-flopper charges are certainly not just limited to Kerry, but are more or less Bush's M.O. for dealing with anybody who turns on him.

One of the courses I am taking this spring is Political Science 155, known bluntly as "Congress", but in reality it is not a mere survey course, but in fact it will be a full-blown simulation of the House of Representatives, with students portraying legislators of both parties and all major committees, lobbyists, media, and President Bush. Every Wednesday from 3 to 6 there will be congressional sessions, complete with bills, debates, hearings, votes, and so on, though violence is prohibited.

A couple of days ago all PS155 students were given role preference sheets, in which we could request which type of participant we would like to be, as well as our party afiliation and ideology. Lastly, we could request specific legislators we'd like to portray. I ranked a small handful of Dem representatives, and today I got my assignment.

(drum roll please . . . "dtdtdtdtdtdttdtdtdttdtdtdttd...")

I am Dennis Kucinich.

This means I don't have to show up at the sessions, right? Hehe, kidding. (:

He was my third choice, behind Barney Frank and Barbara Lee, neither of whom were assigned to anybody. After perusing the role assignment results, I noticed that every legislator shares the same gender with their corresponding students. Darn. That still doesn't explain why I didn't get Barney, since no other Massachusetts legislators made it into the simulation, while there are at least a halfdozen from California. (there are about 70 students total in the class)

Being Kucinich should be fun, though it will have the added perk that nothing I propose will ever get passed. This is especially true since the simulation is congressionally correct, with a Republican majority which corresponds to the current Congress.

So, anybody want a date?
A couple of anti-RNC Convention links, mentioned by a caller on the Randi Rhodes Show:
Counter, which looks like a protest organization site of the many-numbers-and-shades variety, and

RNC Not, which has a prominent link to a "direct action handbook". Uh oh.
Be on the lookout for conservative pundits and bloggers linking all these organizations to Stalin, Saddam, whoever.

In general, I'm not a big supporter of direct action. I remember once seeing a bumper sticker that said "direct action brings satisfaction". Problem is, that's about all it brings. I remember having some pretty active discussions about this issue a year ago, as the Iraq invasion began. I just imagined Bush and Rove and Cheney watching tv news reports about how a bunch of people my age blocked some intersections in San Francisco, and they'd light up some cigars and pass around the synthahol (for Bush, you know), saying "well ain't that the feather in our cap". Aside from that group of can-do go-getters who were planning to break into Vandenburg AFB and conduct sabotage (for which they might have been shot on sight if they went through with it, and furthermore let me mention that I don't endorse such things for a number of reasons), I don't see how direct action really changed much of anything in the initial days of Operation Inigo Montoya. Also, I'm not sure how a bunch of college students, whose views have been thoroughly stereotyped by mainstream public opinion, are supposed to play in Peoria.

I could go on...

BUT... All that being said, I don't think turning the island of Manhattan into a lawless riot-scene is the worst idea in the world. Just don't kill anybody please. Feel free to break some Starbucks windows, just make sure you find those how-to-deal-with-Clarke memos.

Hey, for once, a decent month:
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 308,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was about unchanged at 5.7 percent.
Again, since it takes just shy of 150k jobs monthly to keep up with population growth, this is reasonably good news. For Bush, who promised 306,000 jobs monthly from his latest round of tax cuts, this is also good news, and we'll be sure to see him trot out there and tell us all about how those glorious tax cuts are working.

Of course, there are some necessary caveats. First of all, this is just one month, and we'll need to see a few consecutive months of likewise job growth for this to be a real turnaround. The administration promised this sort of growth every month as a result of their tax cuts. Second, Bush is gonna have to create even more jobs per month than that for the rest of 2004 in order to have created a single net job in the course of his administration.

More: Note that the unemployment rate stayed about the same. If I had to guess -- and aside from one quarter each of macro and micro, I'm no economist -- then that means that some people who had quit the workforce, and thus had not been counted in previous months as part of the unemployment rate, had re-entered the search for new jobs in March, meaning that despite the new 308k jobs, there were more people to be officially counted as unemployed.

The quandry for Bush is -- and I remember Max talking about this -- is that if the job situation continues to improve in future months, the unemployment could rise significantly, as a great many formerly-disheartened working-age Americans move back into the potential workforce and are counted as unemployed. I'd say that since Bush put a positive spin on the reverse of this trend in previous months -- that the unemployment rate went down when people left the work-force altogether -- he knows that a rising unemployment rate is probably fair game for criticism.

Lastly, Max also notes:
The magic number for March is a gain of 308,000, in and of itself very good news. That's how many jobs were gained according to the "Establishment Survey." By contrast, the counterpart for the less-accurate Household Survey is a loss of 3,000.
In previous months, when the Household Survey was reporting better job numbers than the Establishment Survey, can you guess which set of numbers the Republicans were supporting?

Everything being said, 308,000 new jobs added in March is good news.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Today the UCSB Daily Nexus turned both their print and online editions into parodies of the local city paper, the Santa Barbara News Press, presumably as an April Fools prank.

Here's the joke masthead, which will probably get taken down soon:

Note the burning couch just to the right of the house. Hehe.

Among the highlights within the April Fool's edition:

--Hey, looks like we got A-Rod.

--A repressed version of their weekly sex column, now referred to as "The Thursday Corset", though given the very plain vanilla nature of their usual sex column (heterosexual missionary-position sexual intercourse, wow!), it's hardly a departure. But at least it uses the word "milkshake" without mentioning that damn song.

--A, let's say, somewhat contrarian take on the White Album.

--The definitive letter to the editor on the gay marriage debate.

--This idea would certainly diminish Greek organization particpation here.

--The Midwesterners are coming!

--I knew it was them!
Has Isla Vista's notoriously rowdy and raucous drink-drenched choo-choo train of boozy bedlam derailed, taking with it the infamous and intoxicating cow-catcher that pushed naked people dancing onto the rooftops of this seaside den of collegiate excess?

On Wednesday, local leaders banded together to announce that, swayed by repeated News-Piss editorials, the remaining citizens of the seaside hamlet have signed a formal pledge swearing off alcoholic beverages. Helping the town onto the wagon is the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, which gave all Santa Barbara City College students until sundown to clear out.
Hahaha, you can always tell which parties are SBCC. Just follow the trail of broken glass (from either bottles or car windows) and really bad, really tone-deaf punk music.

And that's about it.

This UPI story from yesterday mentions something that was to be expected, that the Bushies were planning on how to deal with Clarke's allegations before they exploded:
The White House was worried about the damaging testimony of a former counter-terrorism chief to a commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks last week but was trying to let the issue die on its own, according to Pentagon briefing notes found at a Washington coffee shop.

"Stay inside the lines. We don't need to puff this (up). We need (to) be careful as hell about it," the handwritten notes say. "This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line."

The notes were written by Pentagon political appointee Eric Ruff who left them in a Starbucks coffee shop in Dupont Circle, not far from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's home.

The notes are genuine, a Pentagon official said. They were compiled for an early morning briefing for Rumsfeld before the Sunday morning talk shows, during which administration officials cond--
Whoa whoa whoa! Backdafucup! Starbucks!?!?

So some Bushies were at Starbucks... Were they there, perchance, for the fine selection of latte's??? Because I seem to remember...
One explanation for the demise of presidential candidate Howard Dean was a TV ad that popped up during the Iowa caucus fight.

The ad urged Dean to take his “. . . latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs.”

Who created the ad? The Washington-based Club for Growth, headed by Steve Moore. It is supported by wealthy conservatives like CNBC host Lawrence Kudlow and National Review president Dusty Rhodes.
Hmm, so Republicans were slamming a Democrat for drinking lattes. My oh my how times have changed. I generally find that a lot of attacks that arise from the conservative punditry about the methods and actions of liberals tend to be forms of projection. But woe to the Bush administration official who gets caught at the local sushi bar. Or any other bars that Electric Six might have sung about.

Please explain. Now.
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators.

The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job," Mr. McClellan said.
Yeah, right. Fortunately, commission members have the same concern:
The commission and the White House were reacting to public complaints from former aides to Mr. Clinton, who said they had been surprised to learn in recent months that three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of files the former president was ready to offer the commission had been withheld by the Bush administration. The former aides said the files contained highly classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against Al Qaeda.

The commission said it was awaiting a full answer from the White House on why any documents were withheld.

"We need to be satisfied that we have everything we have asked to see," Al Felzenberg, a spokesman for the bipartisan 10-member commission, said. "We have voiced the concern to the White House that not all of the material the Clinton library has made available to us has made its way to the commission."
In other words, "cough cough bullshit cough cough".

The story goes on to note that Clinton counsel Bruce Lindsey has been voicing his concerns about this for a couple of months now.

Sooo... the explanation for this could either be

1) That there's an honest reason for the witholding of the documents relating to what McClellan said, though Lindsey and some commission members state their doubts about that, or

2) This is part of the White House's plan to perpetuate the myth that the Bushies had terrorism on the front burner -- or any burner at all, really -- before 9/11, while the Clinton administration did not.

Hopefully, answers will come shortly. Though I do enjoy how classified material goes back and forth in the eyes of Republicans, from being a sacred trust to being open season, sometimes simultaneously.

I had a long post addressing the rumors that Paul Wolfowitz would replace Paul Bremer as ambassador/viceroy of Iraq, but the computer I was working on ate it.

So here's the short version: Do you remember the last time Wolfy went to Iraq?

If I get motivated enough, and have the necessary time, I'll reconstruct the longer version.

UPDATE: I'll try a brief version of the slightly longer version. Now version this!

The Wolfy rumors only make a shred of sense if the Bushies are taking an inappropriately long-haul, cart-before-horse view of Iraq. Given the three variables of...
1) The stated US goal is to establish a pluralistic, open democracy in Iraq after years of being held together under the iron fist of Saddam

2) The desire of some Iraqis that the US leave, and the actions to that effect conducted by some of those Iraqis, and

3) The belief among a segment of the Iraqis probably larger than just the insurgency that the US and Israel are in kahootz on some level
...why would we appoint as the de facto/(jure) head of Iraq a guy who not only is highly friendly with the Likudniks, but also has the most Jewish name in the administration? (not to be harsh) On the other hand, some people see this as a you-broke-it-you-bought-it situation for Wolfy, who was the source for many of the administration's most bullshit over-optimistic sentiments of the pre-war period. As Juan notes:
He is currently deputy Secretary of Defense, but probably could not have continued into a second Bush term. He is associated with the worst mistakes of Iraq-- concentrating in 2001 on Saddam rather than on al-Qaeda, hyping Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction, insisting that Iraqis would welcome a US occupation with garlands, thinking Iraqi Shiites were "secular" and had no sensitive holy cities in that country, and backing the corrupt financier Ahmad Chalabi and his militia as successors to Saddam and the Baath. He is probably already a liability to Bush in this election. There were earlier rumors that he might step down this spring. Sending him to Baghdad as ambassador would solve a problem for Bush domestically, perhaps.
While that's a cute way of characterizing the motivations at work here if these rumors pan out, it doesn't fully illustrate any political thought process at work.

(of course tomorrow I'm sure all these rumors will be proven false, and we'll have wasted a lot of bandwidth)

Here's my thought. Going back to the cart-before-horse idea, here's the reasoning the Bushies may have in mind with a Wolfowitz-led Iraq: If Iraq pans out and becomes what they hoped it would become (a pluralistic democracy and such), then Iraq's closer association with Israel would -- eventually -- take some heat off of Israel, because a free and prosperous Iraq would be a good thing for Arabs and Muslims.

Trouble is, this is a pipe dream. It's pretty clear, from Fallujah and elsewhere, that some Iraqis are throwing a lot at our forces and people in Iraq to stop that from happening, and having a Likudnik in charge of Iraq would only fan the flames of anger at America moreso. Juan also writes:
But having a Likudnik* run the US embassy in Baghdad would be a complete disaster for US policy in Iraq and in the whole region. It would be proof positive to the insurgents in Iraq that the US intends to reshape the country in accordance with a Zionist agenda and make Iraqis the bitches of Ariel Sharon [Mind you, I think this conspiratorial way of thinking illegitimate, but it is already a theme in Iraqi popular political discourse]. It seems unlikely to me that Wolfowitz could get the cooperation of the Shiite clerics.
As I mentioned before, the last time Wolfowitz was in Iraq, he was almost assassinated. At the very least, doesn't Wolfy have a problem when he comes back to Iraq and says "I'm back, you assholes"?

Furthermore, if and when we retaliate in Fallujah, it is likely that we will use tactics similar to those the Sharon government and previous Israeli governments have used in the West Bank and Gaza. (I can't immediately find the link, but that's what they said they want to do) Would those sorts of actions, combined with Wolfowitz as leader, paint a picture that Iraqis would want to see?

If Wolfowitz does indeed become head of the CPA, this is highly problematic. By comparison, it makes the no-bid Halliburton contracts seem downright subtle.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

A new LA Times poll has Kerry leading Bush 49-46, but there's something else from the connected Ron Brownstein story I'd like to point out:
Most Americans accept Richard Clarke's key criticisms of President Bush's anti-terrorism record, but a majority also thinks that politics influenced the timing of the charges by the former White House aide, a Los Angeles Times poll has found.

Nearly three-fifths of those surveyed echoed the contention by Clarke that Bush placed a higher priority on invading Iraq than combating terrorism. And a smaller majority agreed with the charge by the onetime White House counterterrorism chief that Bush did not focus enough on the terrorist threat before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Yet nearly three-fifths agreed that Clarke's new book on the subject was "politically motivated" and intended to influence the presidential election. And despite the attention Clarke's charges have received, almost three-fifths of Americans said Bush's anti-terrorism and defense policies had made the nation more secure.
First of all, as has been mentioned before, the timing of Clarke's attacks has been determined by two things: 1) the release of his book, which could have hit shelves as early as December if the White House hadn't held on to it for so long to review it, and 2) his public testimony to the 9/11 Commission, whose timing was organized by Bush and not by Clarke.

And the "politically motivated" issue is not a meaningful question. That could mean, "Clarke wants to see a different administration leading counterterrorism efforts next year", and since that's a political means to a national security end, it is technically "politically motivated", so some people who agree with Clarke could see his actions that way.

More from the poll:
Clarke's accusations, not surprisingly, have divided the country largely across partisan lines. In the Times poll, 52% said they agreed with Clarke's charge that "President Bush failed to take the threat of terrorism seriously enough" before the 2001 attacks, while 40% disagreed.

Seven in 10 voters who call themselves Democrats said they agreed with Clarke.


But two-thirds of voters who call themselves Republicans rejected the charge, while only about one-fourth agreed.

"I think President Bush was totally aware of the threat," said Sandra Paul, a retired financial consultant in Wilmington, Del. "I don't know what he was expected to do about it until he had been in office for a while."

By 57% to 37%, those polled agreed with Clarke's contention that "President Bush was more focused on attacking Iraq than dealing with terrorism."

Almost four in five Democrats agreed with the claim, while two-thirds of Republicans disagreed.

In a potentially ominous sign for the White House, most independents agreed with Clarke on both questions. Over three-fifths of independents said Iraq had been a higher priority for Bush than fighting terrorism, while just less than three-fifths said he did not pay enough attention at first to the terrorist threat.

By 42% to 28%, those polled rejected the charge from some Republicans that Clarke was criticizing Bush because he was rejected for a job at the new Department of Homeland Security.

But 58% polled said they thought Clarke's book was politically motivated and was released now to affect the presidential election; 27% disagreed. Republicans endorsed that charge by more than seven to one, while independents seconded it by almost two to one.
A big "arrggghhh" at the end there, see my above paragraph.

Anyway, there's lots more, some positive news for both sides. For example, Bush's approval rating hovers slightly above half (51%), but that's down from the Fall.
President Bush's campaign and the GOP on Wednesday accused the campaign of Democrat John Kerry of illegally coordinating political ads and get-out-the-vote activities with anti-Bush groups and donors including billionaire George Soros.

The Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee said they would file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Kerry and pro-Kerry groups of violating a campaign law that broadly bans the use of "soft money" — corporate, union and unlimited individual donations — to influence federal elections.

In a highly unusual move, the Bush campaign and RNC plan to ask the FEC to dismiss the complaint immediately so they can file a federal lawsuit to block the activities and force the groups to pay for presidential ads and get-out-the-vote drives with limited donations from individuals rather than soft money. Usually complainants pursue FEC action before going to court, but it can take months or even years for the commission to resolve complaints.

The Bush campaign and the GOP say pro-Kerry groups are illegally spending soft money in the presidential race, and that Kerry's campaign is illegally coordinating that spending. The groups have contended they are operating legally.

"They're making a mockery of what the rules are," Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot said.

Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter accused Republicans of political gamesmanship.

"We take the law very seriously. Republicans can't stand the fact the American people want change, so now they are playing politics with the law," Cutter said.

The complaint names two groups, and the Media Fund, that have been running ads in March criticizing Bush in several battleground states. Kerry, too, has been airing ads in key states, but on a much smaller scale.

The GOP cited at least three factors it says prove coordination: links between people involved in some of the soft money groups and the Kerry campaign during the same election cycle; the timing of media buys in the same states and media markets; and TV stations receiving a Media Fund ad on Kerry's economic plan before Kerry publicly released the economic plan.

"I'd call it slanderous nonsense — the typical Republican politics of intimidation," said Media Fund spokesman Jim Jordan, a former Kerry campaign manager who is among those named in the complaint. He said the Media Fund ad on Kerry's economic positions mentioned only what Kerry has been saying publicly for months.

Wes Boyd, president of MoveOn, said in a statement: "We do not coordinate with the Kerry campaign. These charges are baseless and irresponsible." (full story)
Obviously, the GOP thinks that MoveOn and the others are stupid and lack political instincts. That's the only way these moves by the Bush campaign could be on the square.

They assume that MoveOn is stupid to the extent that they need the Kerry campaign to tell them A) which states are the battleground states and should be targeted, and B) when to go after Bush. George Soros and the others know when the most opportune times to run ads against Bush are, they don't need Kerry's help.

Anyway, I file this action right next to the attempts to smear Richard Clarke as working for the Kerry campaign.
Condi Rice during the 2000 campaign, in a piece in Foreign Affairs outlining the Bush national security strategy, here's the lone reference to terrorism:
One thing is clear: the United States must approach regimes like North Korea resolutely and decisively. The Clinton administration has failed here, sometimes threatening to use force and then backing down, as it often has with Iraq. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence -- if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration. Second, we should accelerate efforts to defend against these weapons. This is the most important reason to deploy national and theater missile defenses as soon as possible, to focus attention on U.S. homeland defenses against chemical and biological agents, and to expand intelligence capabilities against terrorism of all kinds.
In other words, the best response for terrorism -- in this case, state-sponsored terrorism, the only type she bothers mentioning -- is SDI.

Months and months pass, and Bush enters office, and Richard Clarke makes the request that there be a Principals meeting on the issue of Al Qaeda and such, you know the story. His "plan", "strategy", whatever, weaves its way through the chain of command, and it affects the thinking of Condoleeza Rice considerably.

So much did it affect her that on September 11th, the day the massive attacks occurred, she was scheduled to give a speech on threats against America... but focusing on missile defense:
On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.

The speech provides telling insight into the administration's thinking on the very day that the United States suffered the most devastating attack since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. The address was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups, according to former U.S. officials who have seen the text.
Obviously, Richard Clarke is a flaming racist.
The speech was postponed in the chaos of the day, part of which Rice spent in a bunker. It mentioned terrorism, but did so in the context used in other Bush administration speeches in early 2001: as one of the dangers from rogue nations, such as Iraq, that might use weapons of terror, rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States.

The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles.

"We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway," according to excerpts of the speech provided to The Washington Post. "[But] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open?"

The text of Rice's Sept. 11 speech, which was never delivered, broadly reflects Bush administration foreign policy pronouncements during the eight months leading to the attacks, according to a review of speeches, news conferences and media appearances. Although the administration did address terrorism, it devoted far more attention to pushing missile defense, a controversial idea both at home and abroad, the review shows.
So obviously, a lot changed in the year between those Rice statements. Oy.

(wapo link via atrios)

Via Suburban Guerrilla (who can't resist the relevant Clinton joke), this story raised my, er, eyebrows.
Sex stimulates the brain and makes people more intelligent, according to a top German researcher.

Werner Habermehl, from the Hamburg Medical Research Institute, says that regular sexual intercourse promotes intelligence.

He said that love making not only excited the body but also the brain and the increased amount of adrenaline and cortisol hormones that are produced stimulates the grey matter, reported magazine Unicum Campus.

"Sex makes you more intelligent in that experiences are collected that can be used later on in areas of life not linked to sex," said Habermehl.

He added that the added injection of endorphins and serotonin that resulted from an orgasm strengthened self-confidence - giving the body a mental as well as physical work out.
And now we all sit back and wait for the requisite Virgin Ben joke.

Of course, the other snarky reasoning behind this study would be that at least in the short term, those who just completed sexual activity have more available brain-power because they aren't thinking about sex for a while afterwards. But of course, Dr Habermehl is suggesting that the effect of regular sex is more long-term.

So boys and girls, that burning sensation you feel... that's newfound intelligence!
I haven't watched South Park in a long, long time, though I always enjoyed it. But tonight at 10 I'll be there. Apparently Kyle (the Jew) goes to see The Passion. Should be interesting.
Brad DeLong and David Corn have questions for Condi. From DeLong:
Q: You have stated that in the summer of 2001 the Bush administration was at "battle stations". When the Clinton administration was at battle stations in the run-up to January 1, 2000, the NSC staff led by Richard Clarke shook the trees by having daily cabinet-level meetings on the terrorist threat, and demanding that cabinet officers probe deeply into their organizations looking for important but unrecognized information. There was no corresponding effort in the summer of 2001, was there?
Follow Up Q: When you say that the Bush administration was at "battle stations" before 911, aren't you misleading people who know what Richard Clarke's idea of "battle stations" is?

Follow Up Q: Do you regret not giving Richard Clarke the authority in the summer of 2001 to do what he wanted to do--to "shake the trees" of the departments in an attempt to uncover information of unrecognized importance?
And of course,
Q: Why does George W. Bush believe that Saddam Hussein played a role in the attacks of September 11, 2001?
Follow Up Q: Did you attempt to disabuse George W. Bush of this belief?

Follow Up Q: Why not?
And the first couple questions from Corn, dealing with the pre-9/11 warnings about bin Laden:
1) In May 2002, the public learned through news reports -- not your administration -- that on Aug. 6, 2001, the president received a President's Daily Briefing (PDB) that made reference to the threat from Osama bin Laden. You told reporters that this PDB was a short and vague "analytic report," not a "warning," and mainly covered routine and historical information on bin Laden, noting that he might be interested in hijacking an airplane to gain the release of one of his operatives. Yet the final report on 9/11 of the House and Senate intelligence committees, which was released last summer, revealed that in August 2001 the intelligence community prepared a report for "senior government officials" that said bin Laden wanted to mount attacks in the United States; that al-Qaida had established a presence in the United States; that bin Laden wanted to hijack aircraft; and that information indicated that his supporters were planning strikes in the United States with explosives. The congressional intelligence committees' report strongly hinted that all this information had been in that Aug. 6 PDB, which your administration refused to let the intelligence committees review. Did you accurately characterize the information about al-Qaida that the president received on Aug. 6, 2001? Did the PDB include the information disclosed by the intelligence committees' report? Why would you not let the intelligence committees see the relevant portions of this PDB? Were you concerned that you, the president or the administration might be harmed politically if the contents of this PDB became public?

2) The congressional intelligence committees also reported that in July 2001 an intelligence report warned, "Based on a review of all-source reporting over the last five months, we believe that UBL [Usama bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." The White House refused to let the intelligence committees say whether this warning was presented to the president or you, though committee sources told reporters it had been. Did you and the president receive this warning? If so, how did you or he respond? Did either of you call for any additional action or information? Was this warning included in the Aug. 6 PDB? And did that PDB prompt you or the president to order the national security community to take specific steps? Why did the White House not want the public to know whether you or Bush had seen this warning?
Listen to Air America Radio.
Time for Bush to tell more jokes.
Apparently Bill O'Reilly has a new gig, writing for the Onion:
Report: Caucasians Will Soon Be A Minority In Their Own Goddamn Country
PIKEVILLE, TN—According to Hormel-plant breakroom sources, if the Puerto Ricans and the Mexicans and the Orientals and the blacks don't stop having all those babies, whites will be a minority in their own goddamn country as early as 2010. "Someone looked at the census figures, and on account of how much faster they're multiplying, it's only a couple years before there's more of them than of us real Americans," foreman Ron Nelson announced Tuesday. "They're already making the kids learn Spanish at the high school." According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 80.7 percent of the current U.S. population is white.
Oh, and speaking of the Onion, this week's What Do You Think, on Clarke, is amusing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Sorry about the slow posting day, things have been pretty hectic as the new quarter gets going here in sunny SB. I could be back tonight...
[edbradley]Thanks for wasting my time, Doctor![/edbradley]

Monday, March 29, 2004

Why is Condi Rice so upset?
Aww, how cute, Bush found a Republican in Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts police officer describes his Democratic senator, John Kerry, as a presidential candidate who likes higher taxes in a radio ad that President Bush's re-election campaign began airing nationwide Monday.

"John Kerry has been my senator for 20 years. Now he's running for president. You might want to know him the way some of us in Massachusetts do," says Jay Moccia, of Hyde Park, Mass.

The ad, Bush's second radio commercial, echoes claims that Vice President Dick Cheney made Monday in a speech and Bush has made in television spots and on the campaign trail. Citing Kerry's lengthy voting record, the Republicans have sought to portray the Democratic lawmaker as a tax-raising liberal.

In the 60-second ad, Moccia claims that Kerry's Senate record shows he has voted for higher taxes 350 times, supported taxing senior citizens' Social Security benefits and opposed giving small businesses tax credits to buy health insurance.
Very cute, Dubya. For exploration into the murky process which yielded the 350 figure -- as well as how it applies to Bush himself-- go here.
(emphasis on "poo")

Another Hitchens column, another batch of nonsense, this time on Iraq, Clarke, al Qaeda and more.
Among those claiming to be vindicated by [Clarke's] testimony are Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, two senior counterterrorism figures from the Clinton National Security Council, whose not-bad book The Age of Sacred Terror, published in 2002, bears re-reading. Among other things, it contains (on Pages 230-233 and 336-338 of the paperback version) an interesting profile of Richard Clarke, who is depicted as an egotistical pain in the ass who had the merit of getting things right. This seems fair: He has been exposed as wildly wrong in saying that Condoleezza Rice had never even heard of al-Qaida?an allegation that almost amounts to the dread charge of "character assassination"?and his operatic bow to the families of the victims is fine unless you think (as don't we all?) that one shouldn't appear to exploit Sept. 11 for partisan purposes.
That's fine, except that Clarke never said Condi Rice hadn't heard of al Qaeda, only that he got that impression from her response when he mentioned the terrorist organization in January of '01. Opinions can't be proven false.

Furthermore, it is entirely possible to believe that a person whose job it was to be the head of counterterrorism for a country can apologize to those affected by a terrorist attack within a country without it being an exploitation of the attack for partisan purposes. Particularly since Clarke is an independent who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats. So at the very least, "partisan" is the wrong word, Chris.

Then we get the "Iraq was behind the Sudanese chemical plant that Clinton bombed" stuff.
how do you explain the conviction, shared by Clarke and Benjamin and Simon, that Iraq was behind Bin Laden's deadly operation in Sudan? The Age of Sacred Terror justifies the Clinton strike on Khartoum on the grounds that "Iraqi weapons-scientists" were linked to Bin Laden's factory and that the suggestive chemical EMPTA, detected at the site, was used only by Iraq to make VX nerve gas. At the time, Clarke defended the bombing in almost the same words, telling the press that he was "sure" that "intelligence existed linking bin Laden to Al Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan." The U.N. arms inspector upon whom all three relied at the time, for corroborating evidence implicating Saddam, was a man who has since become famous: David Kay.
This is a problematic argument for Bush-supporters to make, because they've spent so much breath on how it was merely a pharmaceutical plant that we attacked in '98. Furthermore, in all of Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Powell/etc's attempts to link Saddam to al Qaeda, we didn't hear about this, did we? Given how fast and loose the administration has been with the facts on WMD and al Qaeda links, don't you think they would have jumped on this if they thought there was any merit? I admit, I don't have the referenced book in front of me (and Hitch could be cherry-picking here), but since the greater conclusion out of all of this is that there wasn't much of anything at all going at the pharma plant in Khartoum, so at the end of the day this was another Iraq link that fizzled out. Clarke knows that now, so he's a hell of a lot more reluctant than, say, Wolfowitz, to go for these Mylroie-ian nutbar theories. Nothing here contradicts Clarke's saying to Wolfowitz that there hasn't been Iraqi terrorism directed against the United States since essentially right after the Gulf War.

And the reference to David Kay, who ain't found shiyit, says something.

Of course, in order to make these assertions, Hitch has to disclose the obvious (which he should get some credit for doing):
I should say that I am criticized by name in the Benjamin-Simon book for a series of anti-Clinton articles that I wrote at the time of the Al-Shifa raid. Even if the factory was not an aspirin-producing pharmaceutical plant, there seemed no justification for bombing it without warning and without even notifying Congress, let alone the United Nations. Talk about pre-emptive and unilateral.
After his disclosure, he returns to his regularly scheduled stupidity, already in progress. All together now: A unilarteral cruise missile strike is a lot different from a unilateralist invasion involving hundreds of thousands of American troops. Later:
To listen to Clarke now, you could almost imagine that the invasion of Afghanistan and eviction of the Taliban?the actual first response of the administration to Sept. 11?had not taken place. To listen to Clarke, also, you would suppose that any Iraqi connection to terrorism was sucked straight out of Rumsfeld's or Wolfowitz's thumb.
To actually read Clarke's book now, you'd notice that he references Afghanistan all over the place, and devotes a significant portion of the chapter on that time period to it. Not that the chapter is called "Right War, Wrong War", guess which one he thought was "right"? And again, the administration did not make an argument connecting Iraq and al Qaeda that was within a thousand miles of what Hitchypoo has here (although I would add Chalabi's thumb to that list, but that's another issue). After babbling about a conspiracy theory or two that Clarke hasn't mentioned, he finishes with:
But in my experience, dud theories die only to be replaced by new and even dumber ones. The current reigning favorite is that fighting al-Qaida in Iraq is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida.
Oy. Nobody is saying that, Chris. Al-Qaida's presence in Iraq appears to have come into being after we invaded and threw the country into its post-toppling semi-chaotic state. We have to do our damndest to make sure that Iraq is in good shape when the time comes that we leave. It was invading Iraq in the first place that distracted us from the fight against al-Qaeda. And not only that, we've inspired a whole new multitude of recruits to join al-Qa--- actually screw this, is 4:30 too early for a drink?

First of all, love your work.

Anyway, I noticed that both of you have pursued the same line of attack on Richard Clarke, accusing him of racism because he observed that Condi Rice didn't appear to recognize the term "Al Qaeda" in January of 2001.

I congratulate both of you for reading the first three pages of the "Before and After September 11th" chapter from Clarke's book.

But if I may, I have another passage, from earlier in the book, that may interest you. It's nearer to the end of a chapter, so it's less likely that you've read it.

Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, page 31:
Most Americans had never heard of al Qaeda. Indeed, most senior officials in the administration did not know the term when we briefed them in January 2001. I found a moment without meetings and sat at my computer and began: "Who did this? Why do they hate us? How will we respond? What can you as an American do to help?" It all came out, in a stream of pages. I wrote of al Qaeda's hatred of freedom, of its perversion of a beautiful religion, of the need to avoid religious or ethnic prejudice...
So, Ann and Bob, does this mean that the senior staff of the Bush administration is full of African Americans towards whom Richard is racist?

Anyway, thank you for your time.

Yours in The Passion,


PS (UPDATE): Ann, I also noticed, via Bartcop, that on MSNBC you said:
[Richard Clarke] is, you know, a career chair-warmer who is upset a black woman took his job.
First of all, Richard Clarke was never National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger was. Second, if Clarke truly aspired to be Bush's National Security Adviser, then he probably wouldn't have voted for Gore in the 2000 general election, which he did, not to mention John McCain in the primary.

Sunday, March 28, 2004


I finally got a chance to do some recording today, after nearly 10 months without finishing a project, which is unheard of for me.

I ended up with two completed songs. One is a hard-rock remake of a song I wrote over a year ago, "Where You Are", which I will make available to everybody at some point. (though if you email, it can be available right now)

The other song is a new composition, called "Mika", an ode to my best friend who is on a Peace Corps mission in Togo. Well, at least she was when I wrote the song (since its conception, she chose to return home early for a variety of reasons). You can download the song at the following link (right-click and choose "save target as"):
Brendan Getzell - Mika (4:41, 4.4 mb)
It can also be found by going to my archaic GeoCities homepage. Since I uploaded it there, and I have no other place at the moment to make my songs available for download (since is down), and since I'm a cheapskate, you might encounter a blurb about my data transfer being exhausted. Just give it a little while and try again later, it should work.

The song is kind of a JeffBuckley-meets-DaveMatthews hybrid, filtered through my own loose, melodic, emotional style. It was recorded in my room on Saturday evening, with all sounds made by me. Enjoy!