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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Air America 2 

The O'Franken Factor is ok. Bob Kerrey is on...and it sure sounds like he'll have some tough questions for Condi Rice.
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Air America 

The long-awaiting liberal talk radio launches at 11am Chicago time. It's called Air America. As my bad problems are causing me to work from home (where I can stay in the prone position), I will have a listen, and report back. The O'Franken Factor is the first show.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Electoral Predictions 

Don't have much to say today. But, I've always taken the view, when asked about who I think will win in November, that either Bush will win in a landslide, Bush will win close, Kerry will win close, or Kerry will win in a landslide. I stake my reputation on that coming true.

But, today, for the first time in a long time, I think it is more likely that Bush will win, either in a landslide or close, than Kerry.
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Ouch 

A poor use of the word literally, from the Cincinnati Bengals web site - an article about Art Modell (former owner of the Browns and Ravens):

"Modell literally gave birth to the Bengals 41 years ago when he fired Paul Brown as coach of the Cleveland Browns..."

Wow.

(Post edited to correct error. Post formerly stated that Modell was the owner of the Browns and Bengals.)
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Monday, March 29, 2004

An Exceedingly Random Thought I Had.... 

... tonight while watching The West Wing. With the importance of polls in our modern political system, has anyone ever examined the effects of cell phone use on polling? I assume that when polls are conducted, phone numbers are generated from a telephone directory of some sort. However, I'm not sure such a directory exists for cellular phones. (Does one exist now? That article was from three years ago.) There are many people (me, for example) who have no home phone - only a cell phone.

Is there a certain demographic that would tend to use only a cell phone and have no home phone? Are these people being systematically underrepresented in national polling data?

I have no answers to any of these questions.
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Bush's WMD Jokes 

At the risk of becoming Mickey Kaus (i.e., an alleged Democrat who only attacks Democrats), can I just say: has there ever been a stupider "controversy" than the mini-brouhaha over Bush's jokes about looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction at the White House Correspondants Dinner? I'm not sure.

Anyway, today I heard Kerry make a snide remark about Dick Cheney coming out from his undisclosed location. However, everyone knows that Cheney actually went to an undisclosed location after September 11 - because there had just been a terrorist attack on our country and there was genuine concern that further attacks could be launched against the Executive Branch. Therefore, I assume that Kerry must think that terrorism and possible Presidential assassinations are funny, in fact, he may as well go piss on John F. Kennedy's eternal flame.

Of course, that last paragraph was stupid, but no more stupid and pointless than trying to generate controversy over a few harmless jokes. Can we please, please stop trying to suck anything remotely real and interesting out of our political discourse?
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Reagan and Terrorists 

Ezra at Pandagon makes a good point - why was it OK for Reagan to withdraw troops from Lebanon after a terrorist attack on our troops? Isn't this similar to what happened in Spain - letting a terrorist attack influence your policy decisions?
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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Clinton Let Lewinsky Scandal Influence His Decisions About Al Qaeda 

Or so this piece of the Richard Clarke interview would have us believe...

"But let's talk about the Cole. The Cole was attacked in October of 2000. President Bush was running for office; he never mentioned it. Vice President Gore was running for office; he never mentioned it. The media hardly touched it. What were they focused on? They were focused on the election, and they were focused on the Middle East peace process. I thought it was a mistake...

... the FBI and the CIA refused to say who did it in October of 2000. And the president was, therefore, faced with the problem, 'Can I go ahead and bomb somebody in retaliation for the attack on the Cole when my CIA director and my FBI director won't say who did it?'

Now, this is the same president who, when he bombed Afghanistan, when he bombed al-Qaeda camps, because George Tenet and I and Sandy Berger recommended he do it in order to get bin Laden and the leadership team, where we thought they were going to be meeting, the reaction he faced to that was the so-called wag the dog phenomenon. No one in the media, Tim, no one in the media, no one in the Congress said, 'Oh, that's a great thing that you're retaliating for the attack on the United States,' they said, 'This is all about Monica Lewinsky, and this is all about your political problems.'"

Wow. I have always had a love/hate relationship with every Clinton and this definitely falls into the "hate" category. I guess my reaction to this would be - so what if the media focused on Lewinsky. So what if the election was coming up? If Clinton's decision making vis a vis Osama Bin Laden was in anyway compromised by the blow jobs he received from a 20 year old in the oval office, he probably should have resigned right there.

I wonder if September 11 could have been prevented if Clinton had kept it in his pants and not given the media any reason to believe that military actions abroad were intended to distract from the political mess at home?

P.S. - Of course Bush is just as bad and probably worse.
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Clarke Dissed? 

I don't post on the blog for a week, and apparently during this time the word "dissed" has become part of important national discourse.

I heard this morning as I woke up... I wasn't sure I heard it right. I just checked the Meet the Press transcript, and I heard it right. Tim Russert asked Richard Clarke this:

MR. RUSSERT: And people have questioned your motivation. Were you happy? Did you feel dissed for being passed over?


What in the hell?
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Friday, March 26, 2004

"Greatly Undermined" 

"By invading Iraq, the President has greatly undermined the war on Terror." Richard Clarke, under oath.

Now, via Atrios, an article:
The fact that the Pentagon pulled the fighting force most equipped for hunting down Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan in March 2002 in order to pre- position it for Iraq cannot be denied.

Fifth Group Special Forces were a rare breed in the US military: they spoke Arabic, Pastun and Dari. They had been in Afghanistan for half a year, had developed a network of local sources and alliances, and believed that they were closing in on bin Laden.

Without warning, they were then given the task of tracking down Saddam. "We were going nuts on the ground about that decision," one of them recalls.

"In spite of the fact that it had taken five months to establish trust, suddenly there were two days to hand over to people who spoke no Dari, Pastun or Arabic, and had no rapport."

Along with the redeployment of human assets came a reallocation of sophisticated hardware. The US air force has only two specially-equipped RC135 U spy planes. They had successfully vectored in on al-Qaida leadership radio transmissions and cellphone calls, but they would no longer circle over the mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
As Wesley Clark said, Iraq is a mere sideshow on the war on terror, yet one that seems to be poised to undermine the whole damn thing.
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Rarely is the Question Asked... 

Is our children learning:
A spokesman for the Boston Public Schools told the Globe that his transportation director just found out yesterday about a Bush-Cheney '04 fundraiser that will prevent kids from going to school because of blocked off streets and presidential security. The Globe says: "The president's visit unexpectedly canceled classes for 1,425 children at the Boston Renaissance Charter School, a K-8 institution on Stuart Street a block away from the hotel. The Boston Public Schools system, which provides about 30 buses to transport Renaissance students, said it could not guarantee timely pick-up of students at dismissal time, said Dudley Blodget, chief operating officer of the Renaissance School's foundation. The school also feared that the 300 parents who pick up their children would not be able to reach the school."

"It's a sad situation that you have to close off school because of a fund-raising event," said Roger F. Harris, Renaissance headmaster. Indeed.

But here's what's edging out reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic for those 1,425 students: About 500 people, paying $2,000 a pop, will listen to the president deliver a speech, "but in order to hold down costs there will be no food or entertainment," the Globe reports.
Imagine what Mickey Kaus would be saying if this were Kerry instead of Bush.
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Why Brad DeLong is my hero 

This is why:
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Special Richard Cheney "Opinions About Shape of Earth Differ" Issue)
Paul Krugman said somewhere that if a Bush administration official were to claim that the Earth was flat, the newspaper headlines the next day would read "Opinions About Shape of Earth Differ." Today Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times shows that he was right.

Richard Cheney on Monday came out with a lie--that the NSC Senior Director for Counterterrorism in 2001, Richard Clarke, was "out of the loop" on counterterrorism policy--so big that Condi Rice decides that she simply can't back it up, and contradicts him at her briefing yesterday. After all, whenever the George W. Bush administration has claimed it had its eye on the ball on terrorism before September 11, 2001, it does so by pointing either to the work Clarke was doing in 2001 or to its decision to keep Clarke as point man on counterterrorism at the NSC.

But what is the headline the New York Times runs: "A Dispute: Was an Official 'in the Loop'? It All Depends"--i.e., "Opinions on Shape of Earth Differ." And what is the tone of her article? A simple "she (Rice) said, he (Cheney) said": one-against-one, with no clues as to who is more credible.
A Dispute: Was an Official ’in the Loop’? It All Depends:
It is a strange occurrence in Washington when members of the well-ordered Bush White House publicly disagree with each other, but it happened on Wednesday. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, took exception to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Richard A. Clarke, the administration's former counterterrorism chief, was "out of the loop."

On the contrary, Ms. Rice said, Mr. Clarke was very much involved in the administration's fight against terrorism. "I would not use the word `out of the loop,' " Ms. Rice told reporters in response to a question about whether she considered it a problem that the administration's counterterrorism chief was not deeply involved "in a lot of what was going on," as Mr. Cheney said on Monday in an interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio program. Ms. Rice painted a distinctly different picture of the involvement of Mr. Clarke, who has prompted furious responses since he asserted in a new book and in testimony on Capitol Hill that President Bush did not heed warnings before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism," Ms. Rice said. "All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11."

But she acknowledged that Mr. Clarke did not regularly meet with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence. "Perhaps Dick felt that he had, you know, less — he didn't sit with Powell and Rumsfeld and so forth," Ms. Rice said. "It's just not the way we operate. I did sit with Powell and Rumsfeld and Tenet."
If Bumiller doesn't feel that at this stage she has enough information to (at least privately) conclude that Cheney is either senile or a liar, she needs to get a different job in a different profession. And once she has reached that (private) conclusion, her duty is clear. She needs to include more quotes from different people contradicting Cheney--people like Tenet, Powell, Armitage, Hadley, and other senior administration officials who are already on record praising the work done by Clarke and his centrality to the Bush administration's pre-911 counterterrorism effort. She needs to signal her readers that Cheney is all alone on this: completely off the reservation, making claims that are so false that nobody else will touch them.

So I called Bumiller, and asked her why she had made it into a "she said, he said" article rather than into a Cheney-said-something-so-bizarre-that-nobody-else-will-endorse-it article. Her replies seemed, to put it politely, incoherent. The reasons that she didn't stack five contradictory quotes from five different sources against Cheney--and so make him look like the liar or idiot that he is (as Dana Milbank would probably have done)--appear to be that she "doesn't write opinion," that "the news was Rice contradicting what Cheney had said to Rush Limbaugh," and that she "only had 300 words." My assertion that whether Clarke was out-of-the-loop or was the loop itself is a matter of fact, and that a reporter has a duty to ascertain and to report to her readers such matters of fact, did not meet with a response.

Now, of course, the important thing is that Bumiller is far from being alone: White House journalists go native, lose all sense of context, and pull their punches on administrations regularly, and on this administration much more than most. I at least have known about this problem since 1982, when William Greider published his book The Education of David Stockman and made it crystal clear just how much he had pulled his punches while he was on the daily White House covering beat. It's a structural problem, it's a serious problem, and it makes a substantial part of the morning print news useless.
There you go.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Donald Rumsfeld, Liar 

From the Road to Surfdom, which I mentioned yesterday:
Let me backtrack to that comment by Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday because of an apposite quote pointed out to me by Brad Delong. Rumsfeld said:

"I knew of no intelligence during the six plus months leading up to September 11 that indicated terrorists would hijack commercial airliners, use them as missiles to fly into the Pentagon or the World Trade Centre towers," he said.
But it's not as if the idea of terrorists crashing planes had never been considered. In the section of Clarke's book dealing with their security investigations during the Atlanta Olympics there is this (p.106):
Mindful of Ramzi Yousef's plot to blow up 747s and the images of Pan Am 103, I asked about aircraft. "What if somebody blows up a 747 over the [Atlanta] Olympic Stadium, or even flies one into the stadium?"
The Special Agent in charge of the Atlnta FBI Office was steaming under teh cross-examination from the Washinton know-it-alls. "Sounds like Tom clancy to me, " he sneered. I glared at him. "But if it happens, that's an FAA problem," he answered.

...I turned to Cathal Flynn, the retired Navy SEAL who ran FAA security.

...."Well, Dick, we could ban aircraft from over the Stadium during events by posting a Notice to Airmen," [he] reponded.

'But what if a terrorist hijacks an aircraft and violates that ban?" I asked.

"Then we would call the Air Force...But by then it would be too late," Flynn intoned in his deep baritone.
This is April 1996.
Condi Rice has said the same thing. And why isn't she appearing before the damn commission! This is inexcusable. From today's Progress Report:
RICE STONEWALLS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC: Condoleezza Rice, despite discussing the issue repeatedly on all 5 morning talk shows, refuses to testify publicly before the committee about the Administration's terrorism policy. She claims that presidential advisers can't appear before Congress because of separation-of-powers concerns. But her argument does not withstand scrutiny. First, the 9/11 commission is not a congressional committee, but an independent committee, signed into law by the stroke of the President's pen. But even setting that aside, according to commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a 4/5/02 Congressional Research Service report shows there are "many precedents involving presidential advisers" testifying before congressional committees. The report reveals that Lloyd Cutler, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Berger and even American Progress CEO John Podesta appeared before congressional committees while serving as advisors to Presidents.
Seems like game, set, match to me. And considering she'll talk to anyone and everyone about this, except while under oath....
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The Real Story 


I think the media is having trouble focusing on one of the two main stories coming out of the 9/11 Commission/Richard Clarke book. Maybe, after Clarke's testimony today, this will change. Btw, these hearings are televised--I feel we should be able to leave work to watch. My more mature readers, didn't everyone watch the Watergate hearings?

Anyway, the two most important stories are, I think:

(1) What the WH did NOT do leading up to 9/11 on the domestic/intelligence front. This is fairly easy to figure out from Clarke's book and the CBS interview. He made it clear what he and the Clinton administration did during the summer and fall of '99, in which there was a commensurate spike in "chatter." They manned "battle stations" and had high-level meetings every day or every other day. This focus at the highest levels seems to have led directly to focus at the lower levels, and led to the arrest of the guy with a car full of explosives at the Canadian border near Seattle. Nothing like that happened in summer '01. If it had...who knows? This is not getting enough play in the media.

(2) The obsession with Iraq. This story is getting more attention. But the KEY here is that we came quite close to letting Bin Laden get away with murder. Rummy and Wolfie wanted to go after Iraq immediately after 9/11, and as a direct response to it. That's the whole "good targets" talk. And, frankly, it's insane and shows an unhinged mind. But the media is, I think, dealing with this decently.

But, back to story (1). The Media seem to understand that there are two main types of stories here. One, dealing with what happened up to 9/11, and another, dealing with what happened from 9/12 to the present. The "pre" story they're focusing on is what plans the Clinton and Bush administrations had to take out Bin Laden and whether Bush knew of the specifics about the 9/11 attack. I think this is the wrong focus. From the Times:
He [Rummy] and Mr. Powell said that the government had spent much of 2001 devising a comprehensive policy not just to contain Al Qaeda, but also to destroy it, even, perhaps, by eventually using ground troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned what more the Bush administration could have done. "Even if bin Laden had been captured or killed in the weeks before Sept. 11, no one I know believes it would necessarily have prevented Sept. 11," he said.

President Bush joined in the defense of his administration's performance, telling reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that if "my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on Sept. 11, we would have acted. We have been chasing down Al Qaeda ever since the attacks."

[snip]

[Commissioner] Gorelick's comments came as the commission released a staff report finding that Mr. Rumsfeld did not order the preparation of any new military plans against Al Qaeda or its Taliban sponsors during the seven months between his arrival at the Pentagon and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Now, no one thinks Bush has specific info that he sat on concerning hijacking four planes from Boston and DC and flying them into those specific buildings on that specific day. So that seems like hide-the-ball to me. And, I don't think that anyone seriously doubts that it would have been nigh-impossible to get political support behind a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan prior to 9/11. Certainly Clinton couldn't have done it as a lame duck, and I doubt Bush could have. He was decidedly NOT a "war president" in the spring of '01. But, what is important is whether this administration could have changed focus from Iraq and missile defense in summer '01 towards Al Qaeda as "chatter" spiked. They did not, and if they had...well, again, we'll never know.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tim Dunlop reads Richard Clarke so we don't have to 

Tim Dunlop at the Road to Serfdom has been putting up posts right and left about Clarke's book. The posts are good. Although, it seems his view is that we still do need to read the book ourselves, which is something I was hoping to avoid. Regardless, read his posts.

btw, isn't pretty obvious when I am and when I am not busy at work?
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Klin-Ton!! 

Will Saletan has been pretty tough on Bush lately, and for good reason. Here he is again today:
The same all-or-nothing attitude pervades the Bush team's attack on Clarke's motives. In their world, as Bush has said, you're either with us or against us. They can't fathom why a guy who worked with them for two years would openly rebuke them. He supported Bush! He lunched with Rice! He's a registered Republican! How could he turn on them? He must have been a double agent. "His best buddy is Sen. Kerry's principal foreign policy adviser," McClellan sneered Monday. Never mind that his best buddy, like Clarke, served Bush for two years after working under Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton. To the current Bush team, there's no such thing as criticism from within. If you challenge the president, you're one of the enemy.
[snip]
Some of the resulting mistakes may be inconsequential. Some may cost 3,000 lives. Some may cost 2 million jobs. "If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years … we would not have had the kind of job growth we've had," Cheney bragged three weeks ago. That's the way this administration thinks: We do things differently. But being different doesn't guarantee you a better result—just a different one.
That seems about right to me. DiIulio, O'Neill, Clarke are all out-of-the-loop, even though, in many cases, those guys were the damn loop! Beers, Wilson, Clarke? Partisan Democrats and possibly even Clinton-sympathizers. Tax increases? Clinton tried that; must be wrong. Cabinet-level counter-terrorism official? Clinton had one, must be wrong. Vetoing one single bill? Clinton used the veto power, so it must be wrong. Telling the truth about things besides sex? Ok, you get the point.
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The World Turned Upside Down 

Billmon on the world turned upside down:
Meditating over lunch on Richard Clarke's appearance on 60 Minutes last night, I was really struck by how out-of-kilter this all is, relative to my historical frame of reference.

Clarke's interview, and his book, both go a long way towards demolishing the picture of Bush as the stalwart commander that Bob Woodward painted in his book, Bush at War. Woodward, the outsider turned insider, has been discredited by Clarke, the insider turned outsider.

It's a hell of a circle we've come when a former ace investigative journalist, the scourge of Richard Nixon, is part of the cover up, and a career national security bureaucrat like Richard Clarke is the one blowing the whistle.

Pogo certainly had it right, at least as far as American journalism is concerned: We have met the enemy, and he is us.
Well, Woodward lost all respect in my eyes in May 2000 when he spoke at my college graduation and simply embarrassed himself. And then he wrote Maestro and Bush at War, which are just long press releases. What an ass.
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RSS 

Due to overwhelming popular demand, we have syndicated our site, and the RSS feed is now at the bottom of our sidebar, on the right. Enjoy.
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Almost Good Enough 

Aaron McGruder on Bush's reelection strategy:

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Monday, March 22, 2004

So, tell me something I don't know 

Surprise!!! Dick "Dick" Cheney and Stephen "Yellowcake" Hadley are liars. Brad DeLong has the goods. Concerning Cheney, he's still lying about the phantom threat to Air Force One on 9/11/01. That gets me thinking...aren't you tired of the things Cheney is still lying about? I am. Anyway, Cheney still claims that there was or may have been a threat to Air Force One, while everyone else has disavowed that claim. I'd like to see George Tenet give Cheney another smackdown on this one.

Stephen Hadley, on the other hand, is either a liar or a supreme incompetent. From the Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman:
On the same broadcast, deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said, "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred." In interviews for this story, two people who were present confirmed Clarke's account. They said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was there.
So either Clarke and two other sources are lying, Hadley is lying, or Hadley, the Deputy National Security Advisor, doesn't know a meeting took place that his own boss witnessed. So, liar or incompetent? My guess: a little from Column A, a little from Column B.
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Mr. President: Were you lying then or are you lying now? 

One of the more interesting lines of defense the Administration is taking to rebut the Richard Clarke brouhaha is stated basically thusly: "Of course Saddam wasn't involved in 9/11. We knew that." This defense has taken several forms. One, in a press conference today:
Q Well, so are you saying that while the President doesn't recall that conversation, are you leaving open the possibility that there's these three eyewitnesses that Clarke says, therefore it may have happened?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but let's go even beyond that. One, in the immediate aftermath of an attack like that, you want to explore all possibilities. And that's what this administration did. Of course, you want to do that. But just days later, the President met with his National Security Council; the Director of Central Intelligence informed him that there was no link between the September 11th attacks and Iraq. And at the National Security Council meeting, what happened? There was a map that was unrolled on the table, and it was a map of Afghanistan. And what did the President do? The President directed that we go into Afghanistan, and we go after al Qaeda, and we go after and remove the Taliban from power so that al Qaeda would no longer have a safe harbor from which to plan and plot their attacks on the American people. (emphasis added by G&G)
From Condi Rice in today's WaPo:
Once advised that there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for Sept. 11, the president told his National Security Council on Sept. 17 that Iraq was not on the agenda and that the initial U.S. response to Sept. 11 would be to target al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The White House's "fact-checking" press release says basically the same thing.

This is odd because the whole run-up to Iraq was predicated on the conscious and continuous conflating of Iraq with Al-Qaeda and Saddam with Osama. Remember these gems (via CAP):
"There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04

“The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction.” – President Bush's UN speech, 9/23/03

“Iraq [is] the central front in the war on terror.” – President Bush's UN speech, 9/23/03

“You can't distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam.” – President Bush, 9/25/02

“There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – President Bush, 9/17/03

“There was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03
So, Dr. Rice, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Bush: Were you lying then or are you lying now?

thanks to jk for thematic and other guidance on this post.
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Yeah, Right 

[Hadley staunchly defended the president to Stahl: 'The president heard those warnings. The president met daily with ... George Tenet and his staff. They kept him fully informed and at one point the president became somewhat impatient with us and said, 'I'm tired of swatting flies. Where's my new strategy to eliminate al Qaeda?'']

Although I wasn't there, I state baldly: it never happened.
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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Pictures from the Obama Fundraiser 

Well, I finally uploaded the pictures from our March 1 fundraiser for Barack Obama. Indeed, "The Economist" even covered the fundraiser, in a way. Here's part of the article:
“YOU'RE all 70 years younger than I am!” exclaims Studs Terkel, a 91-year-old writer and Chicago legend, looking wistfully at the crowd gathered round him at Sedgwick's, a yuppie bar on the city's north side. He is introducing Barack Obama, a Democrat running for the Senate. Personal fortunes are being lavishly spent ahead of the Illinois primary on March 16th, but the Obama fundraiser is a low-budget affair, with attendees paying $50 each to rub shoulders with Mr Terkel, eat pizza, and hear Mr Obama say that “ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given an opportunity.”
Of course, I take umbrage at the "low-budget" characterization. Anyway, here are some pictures from the fundraiser, one of me and the candidate, one of another of the hosts and Studs Terkel, and an out-of-focus picture of Obama and Studs addressing the crowd. I do wish I took more pictures.

Anyway, here is me and Barack:

And here is Mike and Studs:

And here is and out-of-focus picture of Studs and Barack:

Btw, I'm amazed I figured out how to do this (post pics that is).
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Friday, March 19, 2004

Richard Clarke 

I was wondering how Richard Clarke was going to promote his new book. Well, he's going on 60 Minutes. Clarke, of course, was in Bush's NSC, along with Rand Beers. Both quit over Iraq (more or less) and promptly went to work for John Kerry. And how his book is coming out, and Beers is a big source, I think. There has been all kinds of talk of "oh, these guys know where the bodies are buried" and all that. So I've been eagerly awaiting this, but at the same time I'm a little skeptical. But, via Kevin Drum, it appears we've found at least one body:
Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq....We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'
Much like the Suskind/O'Neill book, this is basically what we knew, but it has never been confirmed in a way the press can use. Well, here we go. Of course, I hope Brad DeLong will read this book so I don't have to.

Oh, and DeLong is already on the case. Btw, remember how Wesley Clark got in all kinds of shit when he said that people in the Pentagon were talking about Iraq on 9/12? Well, here's our proof (and we did all know it was true anyway, right?).
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Weirdest Panel EVER! 

On Bill Maher tonight: David "Smaxis of Evil" Frum, Eddie Izzard, everyone's favorite British one-man show star, and...Gore Vidal.

wha!!!???!

btw, Gore Vidal is just messing with Frum.
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Yale Football=Big-Time Football 

Eric Johnson (JE '01) just resigned with the 49ers for some real money. Congrats!

Thanks to reader LG in SF (otherwise known as my sister) for the heads-up.
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Jack Ryan want to Cut-and-Run! 

To paraphrase Charles Montgomery Burns, this Jack Ryan may not be the brilliant tactician we thought. Here's his view on Iraq, according to ABC7:
Jack Ryan criticizes Obama over Iraq, vows to oppose more money
March 19, 2004 — Republican Jack Ryan says if his opponent in the U-S Senate race had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be running Iraq.
Democrat Barack Obama opposed the U-S invasion of Iraq. He argued that President Bush had not shown a clear need to attack and should have built international support before launching an invasion.

But Ryan said the world is a safer place now that Hussein is gone. He says Iraq now has a chance to become a democracy.

However, Ryan says he opposes using American money to repair the war damage in Iraq.

Experts say the cost of rebuilding could end up being (b) billions of dollars more than Iraq can provide on its own.

But Ryan says, if elected he will vote against sending more aid to Iraq.
Uh, so he thinks we should totally bomb a country, create a power vacuum, and leave? What a moron. Note to Obama campaign: Issue a press release accusing Ryan of wanting to cut-and-run right now!
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The Gore-ing Begins (or continues) 

Reader jk writes in:
From the NYT: "The image-conscious candidate and his aides prevailed upon reporters and photographers to let him have a first run down the mountain solo, except for two agents and Marvin Nicholson, his omnipresent right-hand man."

What candidate isn't image conscious? Bush wearing a flight-suit wasn't image conscious? Give me a fucking break.
Exactly. As John Stossel would say, Give me a break. I'd bet money the Howler is on this today. This is the article. The reporter is David Halbfinger, whom I not terribly familiar with, although I'm sure I've read him a hundred times.

Oh, and Kerry does look pretty damn good on that snowboard. Wow.
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God Bless Will Saletan 

Over in Slate, Saletan talks about the same ideas Krugman does (see below). And it ends up being the most devastating column Saletan's ever penned. Truly wonderful. I was going to excerpt some, but there's no real key thing to cut-and-paste. Just read it.
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U.S. probes Native Hawaiian 

That's the headline, anyway, on CNN.

(N.B. - The full headline is actually: "U.S. probes Native Hawaiian tuition waivers")

Perhaps we should just change this blog into one that points out funny uses of the word "probe."
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God Bless Paul Krugman 

This is the key graph from his column today:
So there you have it. A country's ruling party leads the nation into a war fought on false pretenses, fails to protect the nation from terrorists and engages in a cover-up when a terrorist attack does occur. But its electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists.
Read the whole thing. We're back to the real culture of fear, we're back to McCarthyist accusations of treason, we're back to "watch what you say," we're back to John Ashcroft's "aid and comfort" land,* and it's just the way the White House likes it!

* Ashcroft really should have gotten fired for that comment, as it shows the contempt with which he views the document he's sworn to uphold.
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More Obama! 

The USA Today gets in the mix today. Basically a rewrite of the other articles. Not much new (then again, I didn't read the whole article, so maybe there's something interesting there). Thanks to reader kt for the link.
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Pledge Drive!! 

Went into the shower this morning, put on NPR, and realized it was pledge drive time. And I was already in the shower, soaking wet, so I was stuck listening to some chump lecture me about how my Morning Edition was going to disappear and a whole parade of horribles would come to pass if I didn't give them money (I'm pretty sure "cats and dogs living together" was mentioned). What a crock, and what a pain in my ass. That means they'll screw up my car talk tomorrow. That means tomorrow I'll stick with Bob Stroud on the Drive, and back to Lynn Bremer on Monday morning (jk, that's for you)
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Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Airline Industry 

So, the New York Times today had two articles on the airline industry today. One on United's bankrupcy, here, and one on the shifting fortunes of American, here. Basically, United has supposed to emerge from Chapter 11 by June 30, but now that's going to pushed back until at least the end of the summer (why do I think Jerry Bremer made this timetable?). Now, United's successful emergence from Ch. 11 seems contingent on the Air Transportation Stabilization Board (ATSB) on approving some exit financing--that is, having the federal government guarantee the loans.

Now, I'm no objectivist, or some lighter version of libertarian, but I do not feel sorry enough for United to think that its loans should be backed by the full faith and credit of the US government. Maybe, after Sept. 11, such emergency financing scheme was needed (although I question even this). But not in 2004. The airline industry is terribly cyclical, especially if fuel costs increase at the same time revenue decreases. So, yeah, since 2001 airlines have lost a lot of money. They also made a lot, a whole lot, from 1996-2000. I didn't see anyone calling for a federal scheme to hold some of the airlines' profits in trust as a rainy day fund. I do not want us to start treating airlines like Japan has treated, well, everyone--bailing out every troubled business. This is corporate welfare at it's worst (well, maybe not as bad as what we give Archer Daniels Midland), and should be stopped.
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"Connecticut Governor Probed" 

That's the link title on CNN.com for this article on John Rowland. I will leave it to the reader to come up with the punchline.
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Odd Headline 

Odd headline on the Fox News web site; apparently, they hate humanity:

Close, but Not Close Enough
100-foot-wide asteroid to have near-miss with Earth today
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Why does John McCain hate America? 

So, John McCain is out defending John Kerry from Dick "Dick" Cheney. Nice. See here. I'm beginning to think Kerry really should court McCain as much as possible. I know McCain doesn't want to be part of a Democratic administration and all that, but, as I've said before, the media worship McCain, and an affiliation with Kerry would pretty much preclude any "Gore-ing" of Kerry. Anyway, good for Senator McCain.
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Jack Ryan, Republican 

The Trib today has an article about Jack Ryan that talks about his sealed divorce records. But as I type, both Tribune reporters and lawyers and members of the Democratic Party are out trying to unseal those records. Now, there could be something in those records that in my mind really would disqualify Mr. Ryan from holding high office, but I think the odds of that are low. There's no reason to believe that the records contain anything concerning spousal or child abuse, which are about the only two issues that would matter to me, divorce-wise.

From what I'm reading and hearing, it seems like, at worst, the records contain allegations of some seriously kinky sexual practices. Really, I don't care about this, but many voters probably would (or at least the state GOP would think enough do to go into a panic). It's also possible that the kinky practices involved Ryan forcing or coercing his ex-wife into sexual situations she did not approve of. This would seem like a real issue, because it would show a deep disrespect for women. I doubt the veracity of these rumors, however. A friend who knows Jeri Ryan (nee Lynn Zimmerman) tells me that she can't imagine Jeri Lynn allowing herself to get into such a situation (although she doesn't doubt Jeri Lynn's ability to claim such things in response to being cheated on). So let's just assume they're not true.

This goes to my bigger point of why I don't want these rumors to be true and why I don't want this to be an issue. This race pits two young, dynamic and charismatic individuals against each other.* And both candidates show at least a modicum of cross-over appeal. This could be a great race to energize the electorate and get people engaged again in politics. Not to mention is should get some national attention.

But, if the race turns into sleazy attack upon sleazy attack, people will just get even more cynical about politics. This race has the ability to do the opposite: both candidates, it seem, actually value service to the community and aren't just in this for themselves.** Jack Ryan, it seems, wants to run on education and has the biography to back that up.

So this post is really just about my wanting this race to be a clean one, as it has the potential to be a transformational race in Illinois politics.

* Jack Ryan doesn't seem so charismatic to me, unless you define charisma as good looks. But his supporters claim he is.
** Again, looking at Jack Ryan's website, his positions seem quite similar to Hastert's and Delay's. But maybe he really is a different kind of republican.

Donate to Barack Obama here.
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Sully 

After a post about the latest outrages (US special counsel proposes removing protection for homosexual workers and Dayton, TN councilman proposes banning homosexuals from town) from the far right, Sully makes an impressive admission:

"I have to say that I have been culpably naive about this administration on this issue. They led me to believe they weren't hostile to gay people, that they would not use anti-gay sentiment to gain votes, that they would not roll back very basic protections for gay federal employees. I was lied to. We were all lied to. But now we know."

Those of us who voted for Nader should agree. We were tricked into thinking this President was a "compassionate conservative" who would govern from the center on social issues. Looking back, I can't figure out why it is that I believed this. As much I dislike John Kerry, I won't be making the same mistake again.
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It's called Bad Parenting 

The Times has an article on TiVo today. Basically more of the same "Tivo changed my life, it can change yours." Now, those of you who know me (ie, all two of you reading this), know that I think this is indeed true. However, the article contains this gem:
One booster is Jim Cambron, a single parent of a high-school teenager. Mr. Cambron had heard of TiVo and liked the idea of a machine that would easily allow him to watch shows at his convenience, so he picked up a unit last December. Not only did it make his TV viewing easier, but it also unexpectedly changed his son's fortunes.

"Before we got the TiVo, my son was getting C's and D's in school because he was staying up late to watch his shows and going to school half-awake," said Mr. Cambron, a television engineer in Kansas City, Mo. Now that the Cambrons can time-shift programs, his son is getting enough sleep and his grades have risen to A's and B's.
Ok, so the parents here put staying up to watch Conan ahead of school. Yeah. Thank God for Tivo.
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Obama articles 

Just want to point your attention to articles on Barack Obama in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

I finally get internet access at home today, so hopefully my posting frequency will increase. I want to talk about two things today: (1) why I hope Jack Ryan's divorce records do not become a story in the Illinois Senate race, and (2) the two articles in the Times today on the airline industry (one on United and one on American). If I were Josh Marshall, that would mean (besides the fact that it would mean that people read this site) that I'll never mention those two subjects again.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Kerry Quote (and work-avoiding rant) 

This quote is making the conservative rounds:

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," - Democratic nominee, John Kerry.

The one problem is that the quote is absolutely accurate - Kerry voted for an earlier version of the bill that repealed some tax cuts to pay for it. Idiot - trying to pay for the things the government does.

On the other hand, voting against the $87 billion after he had voted for the war was such a despicable act of political cowardice that I almost hope Republicans nail him with it. I think this vote, more than anything, is why I don't like John Kerry, and can't get at all enthused about his candidacy at this time. His number one qualification, as far as I'm concerned, is that he is someone other than George W. Bush. I suspect that is how many Democrats view the situation.

On another note, I do enjoy coming across conservatives lines of thought that are genuinely funny (as it is so rare) - and I have decided to officially endorse the notion that jokes about John Kerry referring to his Vietnam service at any time for any reason are funny. Michael Graham at the Corner points us to this exchange, from an interview with the Humane Society:

HUMANE SOCIETY: "Do you have any pets that have made an impact on you personally?"

KERRY: "When I was serving on a swiftboat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called VC..."

I think there is actually some story about how the dog survived an attack of some sort, but that is still damn funny.

Maybe not as funny as something Bush said during the 2000 Campaign, while Clinton was fighting terrorism and developing a plan to kill Osama Bin Laden:

"In June 2000, for example, candidate Bush seemed confused when asked about the Taliban. So the reporter helpfully prompted, 'Repression of women in Afghanistan?' The light dawned. 'Oh, I thought you said, 'Some band.' The Taliban in Afghanistan. Absolutely. Repressive,' replied the president-to-be."

[This is only relevant in terms of the meaningless pissing match that I contributed to above over whether Clinton or Bush did enough to fight terrorism pre 9/11 - as if either of them did close to enough given that FUCKING TERRORISTS FLEW PLANES INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER AND PENTAGON.]
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Dean 

Apparently, the media can't get enough of taking Dean quotes out of context to make it appear that he said something outrageous when in fact he said something obviously true. (Got this via Drudge.)

Basically, what Dean said (on a Kerry campaign conference call) is that the Madrid attack happened because Bush sent troops into Iraq. This is exactly what every conservative critic says - that the Madrid attacks are linked to Iraq. So why is this news?
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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Guest writer 

Reader jk writes:
Today's Press Briefing, proof that it's hard to keep your policy straight when you don't have a policy:

Q How are you going to get unity, strength and resolve if you have large populations in Europe opposed to what the United States has done? And if you get the leadership to shift, as happened in this election in Spain --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's distinguish here, there's the global war on terrorism, and I think in some instances you're referring to some differences on Iraq. What's important to remember is that -- I think that we would disagree with some of the suggestions you made in your question there. I think many of the Iraqi people would disagree, and I think that the coalition in Iraq would disagree.

Then later...

Q Scott, there are some conservatives who believe that there's a real crisis in the transatlantic relationship over the war on terror. You said just a minute ago that there's a difference between supporting the U.S. in the war on terror and Iraq. But you're the one --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said let's make a distinction there. I mean, he was --
Q All right, but you guys don't make that distinction.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's the global war on terrorism --
Q Now, wait a second. The central front in the war on terror is Iraq, according to this President.
MR. McCLELLAN: And countries are contributing in many different ways in the war on terrorism. And you have more than 30 countries participating on the ground in Iraq.

Q But in the central front -- in the central front. Is not the litmus test for Spain, for instance, whether they keep troops on the ground in Iraq as to whether they're going to really cooperate in the war on terror?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, let's not prejudge things. You have a new government coming into power. The President had a very good conversation with the leader of the new government just yesterday. And the President said he looks forward to continuing to work with him in the fight against terrorism.

Now, Iraq is the central front now in the war on terrorism. The terrorists have made that very clear. They realize the stakes are very high there. The stakes are high in the war on terrorism. And advancing freedom and democracy is a key component of winning the war on terrorism. The Middle East is a very dangerous part of the world. And what we are achieving for the Iraqi people will also help bring about more stability in that part of the world. And that helps make the world a safer place and a better place.

But look, we're going to work -- we're going to work with the Spanish government in the fight against terrorism.
Poor, poor Scotty. Thanks, JK.
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Archpundit 

Archpundit, an Illinois and St. Louis blogger, is all over the Illinois races today. Not that there seems to be much to report, but if there is, he'll have it. He's also new to the G&G Blogroll (motto: Guaranteed to get you less than 5 hits).
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More Obama in the Blogosphere* 

Josh Marshall, quoting Charlie Cook:
Republicans might actually get a bit of a break in Illinois. Jack Ryan, an attractive and wealthy former investment banker who was teaching in an inner-city school until recently, is expected to win the GOP primary. The likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Barack Obama, is equally, if not more, impressive, yet does not have the personal fortune Ryan has. Blair Hull, the fabulously wealthy Democrat, was expected to win the nomination until revelations about his messy divorce and cocaine use in the 1980s doomed his chances. National Democrats had counted on this seat to be the best of all possible worlds, an easy pickup by a self-funding candidate. Now it is likely to be very close and will have to be funded through more traditional -- read difficult -- means.
I'd comment if I had more time.

*And Guth, aren't you proud I used the word "blogosphere"?
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Jerry Orbach for County Commissioner 

Yes, apparently Jerry Orbach is running for Commissioner of Cook County. I didn't vote for him, but I probably should have. At least, I think it was Commissioner; it may have been some other lesser office.

I voted for Obama for Senate, Dean for President (would have voted for someone else if there was a real race), and O'Connor for Water Reclamation District something-or-other. Apparently this O'Conner is friends with someone I work with, so I promised to vote for him.

Other than that, I abstained from most other offices, because I didn't know who to vote for. I really need to bring a voter guide into the polls with me next time. And I voted YES on the one ballot issue, some sort of income tax hike for schools. Not sure if I should have, but I did.
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Monday, March 15, 2004

Bush Hatred 

Barbara Bush hatred, that is. Daily Kos is sponsoring a fund raiser to, apparently, teach Barbara Bush a lesson or something.

Democrats - this might work on leftist blogs, but I don't think appealing to an intense dislike for Barbara Bush is going to get us very far. In some ways, though, it might be fun if some scandal leaves Kerry so far behind that he just starts running negative ads against her for fun.

On the other hand, if you hate Barbara Bush and want to teach her a lesson, click on the link and donate money to Kerry or the DNC.
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Finally, an Endorsement that Matters 

Reader jk tells me that Harold Ramis has finally endorsed Obama. I think this will seal it. I mean, the guy wrote Ghostbusters. You can't argue with that.

Also, while the latest poll has Obama up on Hull by 19 points, jk also tells G&G that Mayor Daley has some internals showing it much closer, if not with Hynes in the lead. That seems very odd considering every poll is giving Obama 10-20 points and his lead has increased greatly over the last week. It's troubling, though, if Daley really has numbers that show his machine can and will deliver for Hynes.
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Our President, Using 9/11 For His Own Political Advantage 

Busy today. Ezra at Pandagon recommends that anyone with a blog post this, from a Time magazine article on the campaign.

"Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month."

I might prefer it if, I don't know, employees at the Department of Homeland security were asked to keep their eyes open for terrorists and what not. As Ezra says, this is disgusting.
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Friday, March 12, 2004

More from the Obama File 

From Today's Hotline. Sorry the poll is so hard to read.
IL SEN Dem Primary Matchup
All Men Wom Wht Blk 3/1-3 Fav/Unfav
Obama 36% 33% 39% 26% 58% 22% 46%/ 15%
Hynes 21 24 18 30 2 20 43 / 12
Pappas 15 11 19 12 16 14 29 / 10
Hull 14 19 9 19 3 15 33 / 25
Chico 5 5 5 5 5 5 16 / 7
Skinner 1 1 1 2 - 1 11 / 7
Washington - - - - - - 9 / 5
Undec. 8 7 9 6 16 23

Simply Undefinable
Washington Post's Meyerson writes Obama "all but defies categorization" and would "certainly mark a radical departure for the stodgy Senate." If elected, he would be the Senate's "sole" black member and "just the third" since Reconstruction. But that "scarcely begins to describe the distinctiveness of Obama." His father was Kenyan, his mother "a white girl from Kansas." In the IL Sen., he developed a reputation as an "impassioned progressive who was able to get support on both sides of the aisle." Obama is the "progressives' darling" in the IL SEN race, getting "enthusiastic support from white Lake Shore liberals as well as the African-American community." He's won the endorsements of "virtually" all of IL"s major papers, many of which "note their disagreement with him" on the Iraq war but "hail him as a brilliant public servant." If elected, Obama "would also be the most distinctly American" of the Senate's members (3/12).
Ezra has discovered Obama. Hopefully that will drum up a little interest.
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More from the "Why I Don't Like the GOP" File 

From Tapped:
Kind of reminds me of the time in 2001 when GOP personnel recruited a couple of dozen corporate lobbyists to serve as the audience for a Dennis Hastert speech praising Bush's first income tax. A memo to the lobbyists stated:

[T]he Speaker's office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits. If people want to participate -- AND WE DO NEED BODIES -- they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc. We plan to have hard hats for people to wear. Other groups are providing waiters/waitresses, and other types of workers.
Classic.
The rest of the link is about Bush talking up his economic "record" to workers who were cheering wildly. It turned out that the workers actually didn't speak English and therefore had no idea what the Prez was talking about but knew they were supposed to cheer.
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Your Daily Dose 

Research 2000 IL poll of Dem LVs found Barack Obama with 36% support;
Dan Hynes 21%; Maria Pappas 15% and Blair Hull 14%. A poll of GOP LVs
found Jack Ryan with 36% support; Jim Oberweis 16%; Andrew McKenna 11%
and Steve Rauschenberger 10%

Don't have any internals; any idea how many were polled; any idea of margin of error; any idea of anything.
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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Funniest Thing Ever 

Pandagon linked to this. There is a God.
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Fucking Terrible 

The fucking U.S. Congress, full of fucking cowards who are fucking idiots and who have no fucking idea how to run a fucking country, overwhelmingly passed the fucking "Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004." See fucking article here. (Fucking being used as adjective in this case - it's not an article about fucking.)

Thanks to this act, I suppose I could be fined $500,000 if I read the above on the radio. Among other things, the law "increases maximum fine against a performer from $11,000 to $500,000 and allows the Federal Communications Commission to impose the penalty after the first offense. Under current rules, the FCC must wait for a second offense."

Worst of all, for those who care about freedom of speech and what-not, the bill passed with wide bipartisan support.

How could a so-called open minded liberal justify voting for this? How could a so-called small government conservative justify voting for this? ("The government is only good at a few limited tasks - providing a police force, providing for the common defense, and of course fining individuals a half million dollars if they say something over the airwaves that a random bureaucrat at the FCC fines indecent.") I haven't seen a breakdown of the vote yet - to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised at all if more Republicans voted against it than Democrats.

I hope that this bill will be found unconstitutional. Any clerks out there want to tell me what the chances are? Obviously, the Court has held that Congress can regulate the broadcast industry. Is there some sort of chilling effect here? Won't any speech approaching controversial be stopped if there is a credible risk of an individual being fined $500,000 without any kind of a warning?

Of course, nobody- least of all a Presidential candidate or other politician - will speak up against the bill because it would associate one with offensive figures - Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge or whatever that guy's name is. But that's how attacks on free speech usually work - they are made against unpopular people.

What a bunch of fucking cowards are in the Congress of the United States.
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Infringement? 

Now, I'm no lawyer,** but this strikes me as infringement or mark dilution or something:
ABC News' Jake Tapper talked to comedian and actor Al Franken, whose show, "The O'Franken Factor,'' is one of the cornerstones of Air America's programming. Franken, no stranger to taking on the right wing as the author of the books "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" and "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," said he hopes to do to conservatives what his nemesis, Mr. Limbaugh, does so successfully to liberals.

"'It's like ju-jitsu,' Franken told ABC News. 'You use what they say against them and use it to hold them to scorn and ridicule. So there will be a lot of ridicule.'"
**Actually, I am a lawyer. Oh, and this link is for The Note, so it will expire today, I guess.
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More on Manufacturing Czar 

To follow up on this post below, it seems that maybe this guy isn't going to be named as manufacturing "czar," at least not today. From my hometown paper:
Washington- After a half-year of waiting, the Bush administration appears poised to name its "manufacturing czar," a high-level official who will tend to the nation's struggling factories.

But the nomination of Tony Raimondo, chairman and chief executive officer of Nebraska-based Behlen Manufacturing Co., still might have to wait. Despite a Commerce Department announcement earlier Wednesday that it would name the manufacturing czar today, it appeared later that the administration was struggling to secure key Senate support.

The Commerce Department later said an announcement has been postponed "due to scheduling conflicts." The administration did not release the name of Raimondo, but several other sources did. Raimondo, the son of a Buffalo, N.Y., steelworker, heads an employee-owned company that makes livestock equipment, steel buildings and grain storage systems.
These guys in the WH can't seem to do anything right. Once again, to repeat, Karl Rove is not the genius everyone makes him out to be. He used fear and loathing pretty well for a time, and that's about it. I wonder if they'll have to bring the Velvet Hammer back for the reelection campaign.

And, while outsourcing doesn't get me all hot and bothered, because the job market sucks for other reasons, it should be noted that this Raimondo character has a plant or two in China and only recently (last 2-4 years) outsourced jobs there. Nice choice, Bush! (oh, and this fact goes under the rubric "Some facts are too good to check." But I have heard from a somewhat reliable source that this is true).
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

O'Reilly Meet Blair 

I also saw part of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Jason Blair tonight. My immediate response was to quote the otherwise forgettable movie State and Main: "Well... that just happened."

Andrew Sullivan describes it perfectly:

"So what does Blair do now? What would you do if you wanted the purest, darkest revenge against the newspaper that eventually rejected you? You'd go on Bill O'Reilly and you would describe the New York Times as a den of leftist, ideological conformity in which any dissent from left-liberalism is tantamount to career suicide. You'd confirm the most paranoid critic's view that the NYT is as objective as a MoveOn ad. Watching the spectacle last night had my jaw drop close to the floor."

What isn't captured by this is the unbelievable hilarity of O'Reilly - after Blair has described the Times as the liberal den of horrors that O'Reilly has long imagined - asking the tough follow-ups. "Are you telling me truth here?... You're not just saying what I want to hear are you?... Are you telling me the truth here, Blair?" Yes, no man who routinely filed completely false stories with the most important newspaper in the world could possibly keep lying in the face of this awesome interrogation.

(In the interest of full disclosure: I didn't watch the whole interview because it was making me sick and I didn't quote the part of Andrew Sullivan's post where he indicates that Blair might be right about some of the things he said about the Times: go read it for yourself if so inclined)
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Libya, Part III 

The below talk about Libya just makes me thankful for the fatal blow the Libyan's WMD program took in the mid 1980s, when they lent plutonium to an American scientist only to have him and his wise-cracking side kick use it to build a time machine.

Of course, I'm sure in 2024 plutonium will be available in every corner drug store. But in 2004 it's a very rare substance.

I only pray that in the future we don't become assholes or something.

[If they ever remake that movie in 2005 and Bush is reelected a good scene could take place in 1975 between Marty and Doc.

Doc: OK - who's president in 2005?
Marty: George W. Bush.
Doc: George W. Bush? The coked-up son of the former chairman of the Republican party?
Marty: Doc!
Doc: And I suppose Timothy Leary is secretary of state! So long, future boy...]

For me, this would almost make a Bush reelection worth it.
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Libya, Part II 

Some supporters of the President respond to criticisms that Iraq posed no threat to the United States by citing the moral case for war and the liberation of the Iraqi people. Can someone tell me why Libyans' freedom is so much less important? By giving up his WMD program, has Gadafi purchased the right to continue the human rights abuses detailed here by Amnesty International? (Admittedly, not as bad as Saddam's - but not good either.)

Of course, the United States can't go into every country and stop every human rights violation. That's why it matters whether or not the President told us the truth about the threat posed to us by Iraq - and that's why the response that "even if we did go in on the basis of flawed intelligence we still did a lot of good" is so dishonest.

By the way, I still support the war in Iraq - because, and this is a justification Bush never gave, the human atrocities going on there were partially our fault. Perhaps we were justified in using the Saddam and the Iraqi people as a pawn against the USSR and Iran - but we were obligated to fix the problem. I have no problem with the United States using its military strength in the cause of enforcing international human rights standards, and I have no problem with the evil leaders of the world (I am comfortable using that term, unlike some on the left) knowing that we reserve the right to displace their regime at any time. But this was not the justification that Bush set forth - and as proven by Libya, it is not the basis on which he conducts his foreign policy.
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Libya, Part I 

I was watching 60 Minutes II tonight - and they interviewed the "prime minister" (actually, an economic advisor) and one of Gadafi's sons (one NOT killed as a baby by US bombs and apparently the heir apparent).

Well, you know the typical Republican line? We went to war with Saddam; Gadafi got scared; so he agreed to stopped his WMD program. The media trumpeted it: see here (and note how the spirit of the headline is not backed up by the substance of the story - Gadafi just acknowledges that the war played some role in his decision). Looks like someone forgot to tell these two: both of them said they began reaching out to the US two years ago - because the sanctions imposed on their country were making any WMD program insanely unprofitable.

I haven't studied Libya extensively - and frankly I trusted both these guys about as far as I could throw them. (Even in full US-ass-kissing mode, the son was unable to say that he had forgiven the US for killing his two year old sister.) But right now, wouldn't it be in their interest to make Bush/the U.S. look as good as possible?
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Big Freakin' Deal 

This just came across the wire (isn't that what news-types say?):
BC-BUSH-MANUFACTURING (UPDATE 1)
UPDATE 1-Bush picks Nebraska CEO as manufacturing czar
(Adds more details on Raimondo, Kerry criticism)
By Caren Bohan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President
Bush, battling for votes in states that have suffered hefty
manufacturing job losses, has chosen a Nebraska executive to
fill a newly created post of manufacturing "czar," industry
sources said Wednesday.

Sources said an announcement would be coming soon of Bush's
decision to pick Tony Raimondo, chairman and chief executive
officer of Columbus, Nebraska-based Behlen Manufacturing Co.,
for the job.

Bush promised on Labor Day in September last year to create
the new position. Raimondo's official title would be assistant
secretary of commerce for manufacturing and services. Democrats
had criticized Bush for taking months to fill the post.

Several battleground states in this year's presidential
election, such as Ohio, which Bush visited Wednesday, have
been hard hit by job losses in recent years.

Raimondo also serves on the board of the National
Association of Manufacturers. Behlen makes buildings, grain
bins, silos and other infrastructure for the farm industry.

In a congressional hearing in June 2002, Raimondo testified
about a sensitive issue for the manufacturing industry -- the
value of the dollar.

He complained then that the U.S. currency's strength was
causing great pain to small and mid-sized manufacturing
companies.

"There is a major factor beyond our control that has tilted
the global playing field against us and is causing extremely
serious harm to America's (small and medium-sized
manufacturers) -- and that factor is the overvaluation of the
U.S. dollar," Raimondo said in testimony to the House
Small Business Committee.

The dollar has been on a downtrend recently.

Even before the announcement was official, Bush's rival for
the presidency, Democrat John Kerry, issued a statement through
a campaign spokesman criticizing it.

"After losing 2.5 million manufacturing jobs, George Bush
has finally realized there's a problem," Kerry campaign
spokesman Chad Clanton said in a statement. "It's too little,
too late. Mr. President, putting another bureaucrat in the
Department of Commerce isn't going to get people back to
work."

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland)
REUTERS
My thoughts: This is a sad attempt to avoid being labeled as out of touch. But more importantly, it's an attempt to avoid being called a flip-flopper. Because, as the report says, Bush promised he'd do this in September, and he hasn't done shit until today. I mean, substantively, who cares if there's some undersecretary for manufacturing jobs? There's not much anyone can do without substantially overhauling administration policy (and even that wouldn't do a whole lot for manufacturing jobs, per se.) But, this smacks of desperation. Why today and not last September? Or any day between September and now? Oh, and I wrote this before seeing the Kerry reply.

Oh, and this does not strike me as a big story. One day max, as this person will have no real power and make no real difference, and everyone knows it, including this Tony character.

And, now that I read the whole thing--this is more China-bashing and talking down the dollar, which John Snow tried last fall. I do understand that there some pros to having a weaker dollar. This is really Brad Delong territory--he posted a bunch on this last fall, and the link here goes to one of those posts.. But, basically, this is the wrong way to talk down the dollar, because it signals to everyone that we want a weaker dollar, even if it means that U.S. currency is no longer the currency of choice. And that is very bad from a current account standpoint.
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Well, that's pretty much the point, Einstein 

Ramesh "Ram" Ponnuru at National Review Online writes:
FROM BLOOMBERG.COM [Ramesh Ponnuru]

In Chicago today, Kerry stepped up his criticism of Bush supporters' tactics. Told by a worker to "tell it like it is," Kerry said, "We are going to keep pounding, let me tell you, just beginning to fight here. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've seen. It's scary."

Spokesman David Wade later told reporters traveling with Kerry to Washington that the candidate was referring to "the Republican attack machine'' that ran ads against Arizona Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primary and against Georgia Democrat Max Cleland, who lost his Senate re-election race in 2002.

My comment: The legend of Max Cleland, like that of South Carolina 2000, are for today's Democrats what Willie Horton was for an earlier breed: examples of horrible Republican campaign tactics that no amount of argument will convince them to relinquish.
My comment to his comment: yeah, pretty much. I don't see any reason to relinquish.
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The Golden Touch of Senator John McCain 

We've talked a bit in this space about how the media trots out John McCain as if he's some all-knowing svengali. "But Mr. Senator, John McCain yesterday said that babies suck. Are you here telling us today that John McCain is wrong?!?!"

I think that's silly, and while there are parts of McCain I like, there are parts I dislike (didn't he want to send a division or two of ground troops into Serbia along with many of our "these sound sweet but actually suck" Apaches?). Also, if McCain really were a straight shooter he'd have left the GOP and become an independent (albeit one who would vote with the GOP and most things, as he is a pretty conservative guy).

But I got this McCain quote of political wire.
On Good Morning America, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked if he'd accept an offer to be Kerry's number two: "John Kerry is a close friend of mine... Obviously I would entertain it... But I see no scenario where that would happen."
I'd like to know what's hidden in those ellipses, as I cannot believe that he said he'd entertain such an offer.

1) He seems far too sympathetic to the neocon worldview to join a Kerry administration (although he is not a neocon and understands that just because you say something will be a cakewalk won't make it so).

2) I mean, he's stuck with the GOP so far, so why would he leave now.

3) Finally, I would think he enjoys his "above-the-fray Media-god" status and that would be jeopardized if he took the oh-so-political VP slot.
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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Campaign Finance 

Mark my words, we will all come to regret that stupid campaign finance reform act that was passed a few years ago. See this.

You know, when we were having our pissing match on here about Scalia and Thomas the other day, Goldberg and Guthrie forgot to praise them for their vote against this bill. I do so now.

However, as Goldberg pointed out to me yesterday, it is impossible for anyone to be against this bill because John McCain is for it. (The media generally cite McCain's support of something as proof positive that it is a good idea.)

Also, just so conservatives don't get excited, I support full public financing of all campaigns - and if your opponent spends his or her own money, you get to match it with public funds. OK, I just made that last part up. Also, I support forcing the networks to provide free air time, etc. Also, I support a government program to solve all my problems.

Back to horrendous document review.

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I can die happy 

Finally, a Judge Frank Easterbrook citing in the Blogosphere. Albeit it's not on a real blog and it's by his brother. Well, I have a question for Judge Frank: What was with the B+ in Legal Interpretation? Just because I didn't give him a handjob in my second paper on the Coal Miner's Dilemma problem (or whatever it's called). I say...bullshit. Especially since I did give him the metaphorical handjob with my first paper on public choice.

ok, that's enough of that.
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Blogs 

I put up a link to The Poor Man the other day. The guy or guys or people who run that site probably have never been here, but it's really good, so I suggest you all check it out. He's not prolific, but he writes way better than most.
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Polls 

Your daily dose of polls. I'd really like a tracking poll, but I haven't seen any. Anyone know of one?

A Chicago Tribune/WGN IL SEN poll of Dem LVs showed Barack Obama with 33% support; 19% for Dan Hynes and 16% for Blair Hull. GOP LVs picked Jack Ryan with 32%; 11% for Jim Oberweis and 10% for Andy McKenna Jr.
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Monday, March 08, 2004

Common Idiocy 

Neil Cavuto provided some more Common Sense today on Foxnews. He said this:

"The media sees a 5.6 percent unemployment rate and calls it bad. I see a 94.4 percent employment rate and I see it pretty good."

I was going to comment on this, but rather, I thought I would post four things below, two of which are other quotes from this commentary and two of which I've made up. Try to guess which is which, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

1.) "I hear a good deal about the 1.5 percent of bad priests, but never, not once, anything remotely positive said about the 98.5 percent who are good priests."

2.) "I hear a lot about a few corporate crooks. But I hear nothing about the thousands of publicly listed companies that aren't crooks."

3.) "I hear a lot about millions of people around the world dying of hunger - but never do I hear anything about the bounteous amount of food available in the United States."

4.) "I hear a lot of talk about some African Americans not having their votes counted in the 2000 election - but never do I hear it mentioned by the New York Times that large numbers of minorities, far more than 50%, did have their votes counted."

Answers in the comments...
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Dumbest Headline...EVER 

From Yahoo or Reuters (I don't know if Yahoo puts its own headlines on Reuters stuff or not):

Stocks Fall on Worries Over Stock Prices

They tend to do that, huh?
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Politicizing 9/11, continued 

Below, in the comments, we were debating whether or not the Kerry campaign's attacking Bush for the 9/11 ads constituted "politicizing 9/11" in its own right. We came to some sort of consensus, which was basically that it sort of is, and to that extent, Kerry and his surrogates should not do so. This, however, is the right way to bring 9/11 into the presidential race:
Kerry, who has accused Bush of impeding a federal commission investigating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Monday while campaigning in Florida, ``If the president of the United States can find time to go to a rodeo, he can spend more than one hour before the commission.''
Via Atrios. This is more than a legitimate campaign issue--it's a legitimate moral issue. Keep at it, JFK.
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Rarely is the Question Asked... 

Is our President adding? From TPM:
A calculator is a terrible thing to waste ...

"The labor force typically expands by about 150,000 a month. This has led economists to estimate that payrolls must rise by more than 200,000 a month to reverse the damage in the job market."

Dallas Morning News
January 10th, 2004

"We've added more than 350,000 new jobs over the last six months. The tax relief we passed is working."

George W. Bush
Dallas, Texas
March 8th, 2004

Where's that calculator?
Once again, a purely cut-and-paste post.
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More Polls! 

From Eric Zorn:
WLS-Ch. 7 released a Senate primary poll of "more than 1,000 voters" Sunday night.

GOP top four:

Jack Ryan 45%
Jim Oberweis 13%
Andy McKenna 10%
Steve Rauschenberger 7%
(undecided 21%)

Democratic top 4

Barack Obama 28%
M. Blair Hull 21%
Dan Hynes 17%
Maria Pappas 11%
(undecided 14%)


The good news for Hynes is that he's still clearly within striking distance of Obama; the good news for Obama is that WLS-Ch. 7 is finding him out in front even though though 50 percent of Democrats are not yet familiar with him.

And,as the landslide of editorial-board endorsements suggests, to become familiar with Obama is to have great respect and admiration for him.
A classic cut-and-paste post by me.
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Exploiting 9/11 

Could someone explain to me why it is that when Bush runs an ad with images from 9/11 he is "exploiting" the tragedy, but when Democrats obviously coordinate a political response using families of 9/11 victims they are somehow not exploiting it?

If groups of victims' families were genuinely outraged and organically (if you will) expressed this outrage to the media, good for them. However, if Democrats were behind it - as seems probable - it seems to me they are just exploiting it all over again.
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I am Lost 

I am lost and confused right now... it is a Monday morning, and Slate has yet to tell me what I should think about last night's Sopranos.

UPDATE: I know what to think now.
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Sunday, March 07, 2004

A Note on Journalistic Convention 

Atrios has a nice little post on the not-so-subtle differences in how the media portray gay life vs. straight life:
So, I'm watching this 60 minutes piece on the "gay Episcopal Bishop" Gene Robinson. I think they've referred to him as a "practicing homosexual" about 15 times. I'm not entirely sure what a "practicing homosexual" is, as opposed to a "non-practicing homosexual." I think the phrase is just meant to conjure up nasty images of hot bishop-on-man sex in the minds of viewers. The piece also thought it was almost scandalous that he (shudder) went to a GAY BAR AFTER THE THEATER with his daughter. A gay bar being a place that tends to, you know, attract mostly gay people and into which therefore no right-minded moral person would ever dare enter. As opposed to "normal bars" which, you know, attract primarily straight people for their Bible Groups and for other acts of morality.
That "practicing" idea is quite odd. Obviously, it has to do with the fact that many fundamentalist types (not to mention the Pope) seem to think that it's not a sin to be homosexual, but it is a sin to do homosexual things. To see the media apparently approvingly acknowledge this.... We constantly here how the so-called liberal media may not be truly liberal on economic/fiscal issues, but they definitely are on social issues. I guess not.
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Jack Ryan, Republican for Illinois 

Jack Ryan seems to be officially running on a "Starve the Beast" platform, at least according to his TV ads. Brad DeLong takes down that whole idea here.
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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Bush Ads 

There's been a lot of talk about the Bush/Cheney 04 ads that feature ground zero. You can watch them here. I was telling a friend yesterday that I don't really care too much, but I think that anything that keeps BushCo on the defensive is pretty much cool in my book, even if, as a matter of principle, I don't necessarily agree. Also, I find this as much interest group politics (9/11 widows and firefighters) as anything else. That said, if there's a chance Bush can be kept on the defensive on this, the ridiculous GOP convention in New York might end up the PR disaster is should be.

In any event, I think Ezra, who seemingly has the same "who really cares" reaction I had, is on to something here:
The coordinated response to these ads has been absolutely spectacular. Head on over to Google News and check out the headlines. The number of people who'll see Bush Campaign Defends Use of 9/11 in TV Ads far outnumbers those who'll see the ad, and the direct accusation of politicizing 9/11 is far more effective than the subtle suggestion of leadership on that day. The Kerry Campaign has been employing a scorched earth strategy; whatever Bush does, they attack so hard and so fast and so mercilessly that the Bush Campaign is left in the rubble of their original intentions. Now people are on watch for Bush politicizing 9/11, Kerry just framed the media! It's a level of efficacy I've never seen from Democrats; it's so powerful that Bush has brought Karen Hughes back onboard to help out. But I don't know where they go from here. The Bush Campaign is very good on the offense and their actions have usually shocked opponents into recriminations (how dare you say that!?) or fear (on no! A flight suit!), but they're so completely on the defense here that even their attacks are being turned against them and they seem woefully unable to grab a foothold.
I think he might be wrong on some of this (do more people really read AP than watch commercials? and when DID Karen Hughes come back on board?), but yeah, Kerry is hitting back quickly, and that's exciting to see.

UPDATE: This post really didn't turn out as well as I hoped. I guess it's ok, though, for a lazy, dog-dangling Saturday (not to be confused with that fake Saturday last Wednesday).
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Friday, March 05, 2004

Polls, polls, polls 

A new Chicago Southtown (part of the Sun-Times family, apparently) poll:

HOW CANDIDATES FARED

THE DEMOCRATS:
Barack Obama: 28 percent
M. Blair Hull: 23 percent
Dan Hynes: 22 percent
Maria Pappas: 10 percent
Gery Chico: 3 percent
Joyce Washington: 3 percent
Nancy Skinner: 1 percent
Not sure: 11 percent


THE REPUBLICANS:
Jack Ryan: 44 percent
Jim Oberweis: 18 percent
Andy McKenna: 10 percent
Steve Rauschenberger: 4 percent
Other: 6 percent
Not sure: 18 percent
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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Should be "Man Bites Dog," but Isn't 

On the front page of today's Chicago Tribune is the banner headline "Padilla Gets to Talk to His Lawyers." There's a big picture of Jose Padilla himself next to the headline.

Let's get this straight: THIS SHOULD NOT BE BIG NEWS IN THIS COUNTRY!!! The fact that some guy gets to talk to his lawyer--good god!

On a related note, I'm reminded of what Barack Obama said at our fundraiser on Monday night. He was giving his stump speech and started talking about how, if one Arab-American (of which Padilla is not) is rounded up without due process, we're all a little less free, even if we're not Arab-American. If one family has to choose between putting food on the table and seeking medical care, we're all a bit less well off. He had several others of these, and they struck a nerve, mainly because I've been thinking along these lines for a while now.

For, if one man is shipped off to Syria to be tortured at our government's behest because his uncle may have attended an Al-Queda camp, there is no justice for any of us in this country. Not for me, not for you, not for anyone.
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I wonder what his older brother thinks about it 

Gregg Easterbrook makes a bizarre defense of hard-core porn today. And I mean bizzare in the sense that he's making it at all.
I'll pause briefly to note what many have noted before: Why rail against sex in the movies instead of against violence? Wouldn't it be better that people watch sex than watch--well, you know the rest. Here's the twist that Easterblogg wishes to add. Fly-by-night houses may make disgusting porn that is obscene in the legal sense. But these days mainstream porn studios such as Vivid Video, the number-one producer of porn in the United States, are more responsible in what they present to audiences than the big corporate studios. Vivid Video--originator of "pretty porn," today the most popular form of video pornography because men and women can watch it together--never depicts any form of violent behavior. In Vivid movies all acts are consensual, everyone's having a good time and scenes always begin and end with smiles. Vivid flicks show couples, threesomes and foursomes performing acts you might not have believed possible. But no one is ever depicted as harmed or threatened, and depictions of rape or murder are absolutely out of the question.
Ok, fine, I guess. But you are a successful writer and this is what you choose to write on? I find that odd. But it is part of his old hobby horse "I like sex but not violence" thing. Could any of my sources at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals get me a response from the good judge?
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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Kerry and the deficit 

Brad DeLong writes that Kerry is getting serious with the deficit:
It's a very good sign that Roger Altman is taking the lead on putting together the first draft of the Kerry budget priorities document. Roger Altman is very good people: highly competent, steeped in the issues, allergic to the magic asterisk. Moreover, he has the right values--fear of an inefficient and incentive-incompatible tax system, attachment to fiscal prudence as a way of accelerating economic growth, and an understanding of the good that well-designed government spending can do.
I had never hear of this Altman character, but this is good news. I was beginning to think that Kerry's deficit rhetoric was just that. It was reason #2 I had supported Dean (#1 was his success in VT re: Healthcare). The key now is to make sure the public knows that Bush's deficit talk is "all hat and no cattle" and Kerry's has some substance. Because Bush will do all he can to claim that he's a "deficit hawk."

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Townes Van Zandt 

For all you New York-area readers, there's going to be a tribute concert for Townes Van Zandt's 60th birthday that will benefit the Bowery Homeless Mission this Saturday (via Altercation). Jed, others...you should go. Good cause, great singer-songwriter who died before his time.
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Jerome Lawrence 

I learned today on Mustang Bobby's blog that Jerome Lawrence has died. He was one of the authors of Inherit the Wind - a play we should all read today.

I was in that play in high school, and it has always had an effect on me.

"All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you have moved away - by standing still."
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The Lethally Bravehearted Patriot II: This Time It's Messianic 

Over at David Neiwert's blog, he posts a reader's email that gives, most likely, the definitive view of this movie. Some choice bits:
2) The film is only anti-Semitic if you consider it anti-Semitic to portray Jews as an unruly crowd of evil, hook-nosed Christ killers.

22) When Jesus died on the cross, he proved his divinity by causing a massive earthquake that destroyed the Jewish temple. So, even the unbelieving Jews must know the truth of Jesus. Acting like they don't is just evil. This cannot be interpreted as anti-Semitic under the current definition.

26) The bloopers reel that plays over the credits is really a great piece of work. There was this one scene where Jim fell down when he was supposed to be carrying the cross through the streets, and he just kept tripping over his feet. Falling down again and again. Ha! Oh wait, I think that made it into the final cut.
Most of them (there are 40) are quite good. Not that I really want to pass judgment on the film, as I have not seen it.
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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Funny, in an "our civilization is about to collapse" kind of way 

The Daily Howler incomparably notes that this questions was asked in the last Democratic Debate:

"BUMILLER: Really fast, on a Sunday morning, President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He’s made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America’s side.

Really quick, is God on America’s side?"


All those in Chicago (particularly those who ride the El): wouldn't you say Goldberg and Guthrie is the best blog in town, in a "we got Metromix they got bubkus" kind of way?

I don't know if anything makes me more depressed than reading those ads on the train on the way to work in the morning. Just thought I'd share.

(Also, go read the whole Daily Howler - it's very funny.)
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Constitution Schomnstitution 

According to the Washington Post (as linked to by Andrew Sullivan), the Republicans are planning to schedule controversial Senate votes in order to force Kerry (or Edwards) into unpopular liberal positions.

Among these votes could be the ever popular, and beyond idiotic, flag burning amendment. I guess this is how the Founders envisioned the Constitutional Amendment process - to be used as a political wedge issue in Presidential election years.

As much as I usually enjoy watching Republicans do terrible things that confirms my suspicions of them, I genuinely hope that this is not true.

UPDATE: Actually, Sully's take on this is better than mine (shockingly, since he gets paid to do this):

"Flag-burning, fag-burning. Anything for a few votes. And what's really amazing is how cynically these alleged conservatives use the Constitution itself for their partisan ends. One word: sickening."
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Exit Polls 

Reliable Sources tell G&G that exit polls show John Kerry is at over 50% in every state except Vermont.

Unreliable sources tell G&G that Howard Dean may actually be winning Vermont. I don't even remember where I saw that, so it's definitely unreliable.
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Marge Schott - RIP 

Despite her many flaws, she was the owner of the only Cincinnati team to win a championship in my lifetime. Also, I got her autograph at a game when I was a kid and she seemed nice enough. I really wish she hadn't said all those things or, I really wish she hadn't thought them.

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Good God 

Go check out the atrios post on this Paul Cameron guy. He mentions how it reads like a parody, and he's right. If you ever wanted proof that, yes, many anti-gay bigots are actually self-hating closeted homosexuals who haven't learned how to deal with feelings that, in reality, are perfectly natural (although certainly in the minority), this is as close to hard proof as you'll get. Unbelievable.

Here's what this Paul Cameron guy says:
"Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system," says Cameron. "If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one's own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm." So powerful is the allure of gays, Cameron believes, that if society approves that gay people, more and more heterosexuals will be inexorably drawn into homosexuality. "I'm convinced that lesbians are particularly good seducers," says Cameron. "People in homosexuality are incredibly evangelical," he adds, sounding evangelical himself. "It's pure sexuality. It's almost like pure heroin. It's such a rush. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they'll take enormous risks, do anything." He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. "Marital sex tends toward the boring end," he points out. "Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does" So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior.
wow.

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