Friday, September 26, 2003


I've often thought that Bush would be up shit creek if he were to lose the advice of Karl Rove.


CIA seeks probe of White House
Agency asks Justice to investigate leak of employee’s identity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman’s husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush’s since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned

For those who don't know, it has long bee rumored that Karl Rove was one of the sources for the Robert Novak column that revealed Valerie Plame's role with the CIA (Plame is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, the man behind the revelations of the Niger uranium story). If this is true then Rove may have to separate himself from Bush and Bush would lose the primary force behind his political success.

Would be nice wouldn't it?

Of course, the ball is now in John Ashcroft's court. It will be interesting to see how he handles this hot potato.

Special Prosecutor time?

Clark DIDN'T praise Junior!

MWO just caught the Rovian spin artists by the short-feathers.

As most of you know, Drudge took a dump yesterday with his videotape of Clark praising various Bushies during a Republican event in 2001. He also that "President Bush" was praised by Clark. The quote, as presented by Drudge, was as follows:

"President George Bush had the courage and the vision... and we will always be grateful to President George Bush for that tremendous leadership and statesmanship."

MWO went looking for the transcript (here) and found that the full quote was as follows:

We couldn't quite believe it. I mean Desert Storm was wonderful; we whipped Saddam Hussein and all that sort of thing. But the Cold War was over, the Berlin Wall was down. And President George Bush had the courage and the vision to push our European allies to take the risk to tell the Russians to leave, and to set up the conditions so all of Germany and later many nations of Eastern Europe could become part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, part of the West with us. And we will always be grateful to President George Bush for that tremendous leadership and statesmanship.

In other words, Clark was praising Bush 41, not Bush 43!

MWO also caught Tucker Carlson explicitly saying that Clark was praising Junior. Does Carlson know the truth or is he just passing on the spin?

What a difference a word can make

The Political Wire highlights an important point to keep in mind when discussing Clark's poll numbers:

While Wesley Clark "shines in national polls," an independent SurveyUSA poll and one for Edwards in Iowa, "have him fifth -- behind Edwards, ahead of Lieberman," the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports. "Pollsters note former Gen. Clark leads only in surveys where he is named by his military title."

This makes me wonder how Dean polls when referred to as a Doctor.

(tip of the hat to Dean Independents)

Another Test

Speaking of tests, here's an interesting one for the So Called Liberal Media (SCLM). In the year 2001, two prominent ex-generals made potentially damning public comments that were caught on videotaped (damning more in the context of current events than what was going on at the time they said them). Those videotapes both have come to light in recent days.

The first was Colin Powell, who told reporters in Cairo on Feb. 24th, 2001 that sanctions have worked against Saddam Hussein and "he has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons off mass destruction." (as reported by Australian investigative reporter John Pilger).

The second was Wesley Clark, who told a gathering of Republicans in Arkansas on May 11th, 2001 that he was "... very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice... people I know very well - our president George W. Bush. We need them there." (as reported by Matt Drudge).

The test is this: which of these videotapes will be aired the most by the SCLM?

Having generally given up on watching mainstream news coverage on TV I couldn't answer that question. Maybe those in my audience who still dare to watch it regularly could give us their assessment on whether the SCLM has passed the test.

Test Anxiety

Jack Beatty has a new column up at The Atlantic Online ("A Miserable Failure") that discusses what a re-election of Bush will say about America.

With one phrase Dick Gephardt has defined the issue to be decided next November. Can a "miserable failure" of a president win re-election? Bush's victory would testify to a civic failure more dangerous to the American future than any policies implemented or continued during a second Bush term. A majority would have demonstrated that democratic accountability is finished. That you can fail in everything and still be re-elected president.

The 2004 election isn't just a test of Bush or any of the candidates who will try and dethrone him. It is a test of all Americans and their ability to look beyond the Rove created image to see the real essence of the fraud in the Oval Office.

Will this country pass its mid-term? God I hope so.


I know it's supposed to be Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day. But I just can't get into the spirit of the holiday. I guess I'm just to much of a nice guy.

Atrios is doing a masterful job of it if that's what you want. It's kind of scary how easy it is for him to do it. Makes me wonder...

And those of you who are disappointed can just Shut Up!

(Had to try at least a little bit.)

Google News Democratic Primary Poll for 9/25/2003

  This Week (9/25) Last Week (9/19)
1 Howard Dean 6810 17.9% -3.2 1 7950 21.1%
2 John Kerry 5760 15.1% -0.8 2 6020 16.0%
3 John Edwards 4300 11.3% +0.6 4 4020 10.7%
4 Wesley Clark 4160 10.9% +3.7 7 2710 7.2%
5 Dick Gephardt 4020 10.6% -0.4 3 4140 11.0%
6 Joe Lieberman 3620 9.5% +0.7 6 3330 8.8%
7 Bob Graham 3390 8.9% -0.3 5 3480 9.2%
8 Dennis Kucinich 2620 6.9% +0.0 8 2590 6.9%
9 Al Sharpton 1930 5.1% -0.3 9 2020 5.4%
10 Carol Moseley Braun 1480 3.9% +0.0 10 1460 3.9%

I think it's safe to say that Dean is finally feeling the media pinch of the Clark entry into the campaign. Nearly all of Clark's rise this week was taken out of Dean's share. This is not surprising considering the amount of coverage Clark's candidacy has gotten and his immediate shooting to the top of several national polls. Clark is most certainly the media darling of the moment. So far I think that Clark has hurt the other candidates more than Dean in the traditional polling. But his increasing dominance of the media coverage could eventually eat into Dean's poll numbers as well.

(Note on methodology: While Clark has been the #1 story these last two weeks his share is still little more than half of that as Dean? Why? Because the Google News Poll is a measure of share of all stories returned by the Google News web archive. This archive goes back several weeks. A spike in coverage over a single week is flattened out by the overall volume of stories over the past month. Thus, while Clark has been huge these past two weeks, his overall numbers for the past month still trail Dean's. This will probably change in the next couple of weeks as old Dean spikes fall off the end. I fully expect Clark and Dean to be battling out for #1 before to long).

The rest of the candidates haven't really moved all that much so I don't really have anything to say about them.

The following is a chart of the Google News Media Share over the last few months.

(Methodology: All numbers are taken from the hit counts when searching on the Google News Service for news stories containing each candidate's name. Click on each name to rerun the search. You will get different results as the numbers are constantly changing. I make absolutely no claim that these numbers have any real meaning.)

F- it! F- it! F- it!

Just had to repeat this latest from Digby:

The issue of Clark’s supposed flip-flop on the war is as Josh Marshall says part of the media’s apparent embrace of “simplism as the new integrity.” Clark made the mistake of speaking to political reporters in complex terms instead of bumper sticker slogans, which is akin to accidentally saying the F word in front of a group of 4 year olds --- they don’t understand what you’re saying but you know they’re going to embarrass you by repeating it.

This analogy ranks up their with Gene Lyon's labeling the Washington Press a bunch of Heathers.

Pledge Update

Slacktivist takes The Pledge and adds an interesting spin on it I hadn't considered. Gray Davis won re-election in part because he got the Republicans in California to waste time fighting with each other instead of uniting in their fight against him. The question is not whether Bush(Rove) will try to do the same thing this year with the Democrats but whether the Democrats will bite the apple that Bush(Rove) will offer. There will be two challenges here:

  • The campaigns that are struggling and the supporters of those campaigns will have to resist the temptation to run with dirt supplied to them (above board or through plants) by Bush(Rove) operatives.
  • The campaigns of the front-runners and the supporters of those campaigns will have to resist the temptation to get into a tit-for-tat mode in response to any in the first group who cannot resist the temptation.

The Pledge can help out here because it reminds us to keep the ultimate goal in mind and to not let our partisan desires to see our guy win get in the way of achieving that goal.

Thanks again to the Slacktivist for taking the Pledge and for making this important point.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

David Gergen gets it

David Gergen was on CNBC tonight giving some post-debate analysis. He watched the debate with a classroom full of his students and he talked about the reactions of some of them. What was interesting, Gergen said, was that this crowd of mostly Republican students seemed to like Howard Dean the best. Gergen even quoted one student as wishing that Dean were a Republican so that he could vote for him.

Gergen went on to say that what seemed to appeal to his students was Dean's "steely resolve". They were impressed by the fact that Dean fought back against some of the attacks against him and held his own. They were so used to seeing Democrats wilt under pressure that they were intrigued by the sight of a Democrat who doesn't just roll over.

Gergen was also asked by the host of the show (don't remember his name) whether calls to repeal part or all of Bush's tax cut would appeal to the general public. Gergen made the interesting point that the public at large, outside the Republican party, never really supported the tax cuts to begin with and many people didn't see much benefit from them anyway (a point that Dean has made repeatedly). So he wasn't sure whether advocating the rollback of the tax cuts would really hurt the Democratic nominee, especially if the jobless recovery continues.

Finally, Gergen said something that I and many others have been saying for quite some time: the Democrats, by continuing the pressure on Bush, are making it acceptable to attack the President when just a year ago many people were afraid to do so.

This is what we will need to defeat Bush. We will need to destroy the image in people's mind that Bush is competent and can be trusted. Until that image is shattered it will be very difficult to defeat him. By keeping up the heat on Dubya we are making a difference.

Which just goes to show that "go along to get along" philosophy, with respect to Dubya, was a miserable failure (to steal a line from Dick Gephardt).

Thank you John Kerry

It's rare that I say anything positive about John Kerry but I'd like to thank him for focusing attention on an important issue: the blatant undercurrent of racism in the Republican party ranks. Kerry's campaign sent out an email today with images from actual T-shirts sold and worn at the recent College Republicans National Convention. Click here to see them (warning, extremely offensive content). Click here to read the AP story.

I am not one to say that all Republicans are racist. But it is an open and ugly secret that part of the party's success in recent decades has been built on a deliberate effort to create a comfortable home for bigots. There's an unspoken agreement between the party and these people: as long as they don't do anything to blatant to embarrass the party (see Trent Lott), they are welcome in the tent.

I've believed for years that the Democrats could make a lot of inroads against the Republicans if they would simply call them on this. While the bigots are a significant constituency, but they are dwarfed by the sizable block of conservative suburban whites who want nothing to do with racism. If this issue were to be forced out into the open the GOP would have to choose between the two. But without both of them, they would have a much tougher time holding on to power.

John Kerry is doing precisely this by highlighting the existence of these T-shirts so good job John!

Here is the CNRC and Bush administration response to the matter:

David Joyslin, spokesman for the College Republican National Committee, said his group had nothing to do with the T-shirts, and was unfamiliar with the company that sold them.

"We sold over 50 tables to vendors. We didn't monitor every single product of every single vendor," Joyslin said. "Obviously our organization wouldn't endorse any statements of the sort that I saw on the Internet."

Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel condemned the T-shirts and referred The Associated Press to the college Republicans for further comment.


Gephardt slaps Dean. Dean flattens Gephardt.

I can't watch the debate right now as I am at work, but I am reading the running commentary over at the Dean blog. I understand that Gephardt starting going after Dean by comparing him to New Gingrich. This was Howard's response as transcribed by one of the commentators on the blog:

HD: "That is flat-out false and I am ashamed that you would compare me to Newt Gingrich. Nobody here deserves to be compared with NG."...We need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other."

This reminds me of the 2000 South Carolina debate between McCain and Bush. McCain had just come out with an ad comparing Bush to Clinton. Bush raked McCain over the coals for even daring to suggest that he was anything like that Ol-Debil-Clinton. I knew at that moment that Bush had the nomination sewed up.

Could this be a similar moment for Dean?

Update: The Washington Post has a running transcript of the debate up. Here's the exchange between Gephardt and Dean:

WILLIAMS: [...] A question for Governor Dean: What is your position on raising the retirement age?

DEAN: We shouldn't do it.

You know, Dick Gephardt, earlier in his career considered means testing Social Security and Medicare both, something that I have never considered. I considered raising the Social Security age possibly to 70, possibly to 68.

DEAN: I've rejected that. I think Dick has since rejected means testing Social Security.

What we're trying to do as Democrats is save Social Security and Medicare both. And I think we've succeeded in doing that. In fact, many of the things that I suggested in 1995, which Dick Gephardt has attacked me for, were actually incorporated into the Clinton plan to save Medicare and Social Security, and has resulted in the savings of over $200 billion.

So my view is, we do not need to raise the retirement age above 67. We do not need to means test Social Security or Medicare.

If we need to do anything, we may need to raise the cap on earnings in order to make Social Security solvent.

But Social Security is solvent today, and it will remain solvent if we can turn this economy around, and that's what we're all trying to do here.

WILLIAMS: Congressman Gephardt, we would be remiss.

GEPHARDT: Howard and I just have a basic disagreement. He said in, I think, 1993 that Medicare was the worst federal program ever. He said that it was the worst thing that ever happened.

He also supported, at our darkest hour--when I was leading the fight against Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America, he was shutting the government down--Howard, you were agreeing with the very plan that Newt Gingrich wanted to pass, which was a $270 billion cut in Medicare.

Now, you've been saying for many months that you're the head of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I think you're just winging it.

This is not the view of Democrats, in my view.

This program has been under attack from the Republicans since the beginning. And we need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it, not someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Governor Dean?

DEAN: That is flat-out false, and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.


First of all, I did say that Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully.

I've done more for health insurance, Dick Gephardt, frankly, than you ever have, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people. And I'll stake my record on health insurance against anybody up here.

Of course, we're not going to get rid of Medicare, and you are wrong to insinuate so, but we're going to run it properly because we're going to have somebody that actually is taking care of patients running Medicare and Medicaid in the FDA so we can get the things that we need to get to patients.

To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong, it's not helpful, and we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.

Beware of Drudges bearing steaming piles of Rovian bullshit

I've heard that Drudge is up with a whole mess of shit about Clark. Apparently he has quotes of Clark priasing Condi, Powell, Rumsfeld and Bush and saying "We need them there". I have not investigated this at all other than to confirm that he has some story up, but I would warn people who bite at this bait to keep The Pledge in mind before doing so.

It may well be that there are quotes from Clark out there in which he praised said individuals (praising Powell wouldn't surprise me in the bit). But what might not pass the smell test is the spin Drudge is putting on it.

Keep some important facts in mind:

  • This is coming from Matt Drudge.
  • It was released precisely at the moment when Clark took the stage at his first debate.
  • The Bushies are scared shitless about Clark. They may not be sure whether Dean could beat them, but they know Clark would have an even better chance.

As I have said before, Karl Rove would love nothing better than to get Democrats to turn the guns on their own instead of on Bush. He knows that the constant drumbeat of criticism from Dean, et. al is hurting Bush and he needs to distract our attention. What better way to do it than to sow seeds of doubt about one of our candidates?

Clark hasn't helped matters here with his ambivalent statements about his party affiliation. But that does not mean he is a closet Republican. I think it is clear that Clark does not like what Bush and his people have done to this country and he wants to change things. He may have once given Bush praise when he didn't fully appreciate how bad Dubya was (unfortunately, a lot of other Democrats did the same). But I think Clark gets it now and he is on our side.

Letter from Natalie

I'm in love.

Troubling signs?

Kos this morning brings us his perspective on a report in The American Prospect ("Fan Friction") about grumblings within the Draft Clark movement about some apparent heavy handed treatment by the official Clark campaign organization. I am not going to say that this proves that the Clark campaign is in trouble. But it does suggest a disturbing trend within the campaign that could destroy it from within.

The Dean campaign has been run, almost of necessity, as a bottom-up campaign from the beginning. Joe Trippi simply didn't have the resources to run a national campaign by dictate out of his office in Burlington. It is to Joe's credit that he has allowed a significant measure of control to leave his hands and to let local organizations drive the Dean campaign as much as it has. It is safe to say that Dean would not be where he is today without that approach. It remains to be seen whether that approach will carry him across the finish line next Fall.

The Clark campaign started out in a similar bottom-up approach. But now it is trying to pull a trick even harder than that accomplished by the Dean campaign: meld a top-down approach with a bottom-up approach. The question is whether the more traditional campaign operatives that are signing on to the Clark team can tolerate supporters in the field actually formulating strategies for how to win and then doing it without first getting clearance from the central office.

This is not a question of whether Clark would be a good president or even a good candidate. It is a question of whether his campaign can do right by their man. I hope they can because, despite my being a Dean supporter, I want Clark to run a strong campaign. You see, I know that Clark, on paper, matches up against Bush better than Dean. But that's just the theory. If the practice lives up to the theory then Clark will be the stronger candidate to throw up against Bush next fall.

(Note: The Prospect article names several of its sources as prominent Draft Clark people and Kos has a special perspective on this since he was part of that early movement. Because of this, I don't think The Pledge prohibits me from bringing attention to this story. If there really is a growing problem within the Clark campaign it needs to be corrected now before it really gets out of control.)

Update: I started re-reading the Prospect article and I found myself quickly getting confused by the hodgepodge of names (both people and web sites). So I decided to sit down and diagram the inter-relationships of all the people and organizations listed in the article.

The diagram quickly grew out of control, but from it I think I can conclude a few things: the evidence is strong that the Draft Clark movement did not originate in the grassroots but was instead first developed by friends and associates of Clark who listened to the General's musings about being drafted "like Ike" and decided to make it a reality (whether Clark was actually encouraging them to do this from the beginning or not is unknown). However, as they started laying out the foundation for this pseudo-movement, the real grassroots (i.e., Democratic activists not already associated with Clark) began to take up the call and run with it. The result was that, by the time Clark announced, there were two competing camps: the pseudo-grassroots movement of Clark friends and the real grassroots movements of activists who were not previously connected to the general.

The campaign's growing pains appear to be the natural difficulties that come from trying to merge two groups that were never really on the same page in the first place.

A closer analysis of the article suggests that much of the grumbling might be coming from only a small group of the latter activists. However, prominent amongst them is John Hlinko, the founder of and the holder of the largest list of email volunteers in the campaign. Hlinko has apparently already worked out his differences with the campaign, according to the end of the Prospect article, but it will be interesting to see if this unruly hodgepodge can jell into a focused campaign.

I suspect this article might be making a bigger deal out of these difficulties than is really there. Approach this story with caution as it might be yet another example of the press trying to blow a story out of proportion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

He's not dead yet

I think some people might be prematurely celebrating Bush's fall in the polls. Yes, it is a good thing in that it has finally pierced the media bubble of Bush's alleged invulnerability. But does it mean Dubya is going down for real?

Far from it. For Bush has turned things around before. Or, more specifically, Karl Rove has turned things around for his boy just as people start preparing to dance on his grave (remember New Hampshire?)

Be happy but remain vigilant. This is far from over.

Shut Up! Buy My Book! Shut Up! Buy My Book!

In the spirit of "Talk Like a Pirate Day", Media Whores Online has declared Friday, September 26th to be "Talk Like O'Reilly Day".

Liberal (heh) use of "Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!" is encouraged. A continuous dose of blatant self-promotion will also promote the spirit of the day.

A Republican hail mary?

Via Atrios comes this report from The Hill about the Republican's renewed effort to fix the economy before the 2004 elections.

“We’re going to put a package together and lay out what our economic plan is for the rest of the session,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

Santorum said the package would include, “The energy bill, the highway bill, asbestos reform, class action reform, SBA [Small Business Administration] authorization, a whole laundry list of things.”

So, under the cover of saying they are going to do something about the economy, they are going to repackage all of Bush's pet projects into one bill and simply say that it will fix the problem.

Republicans say the bills in this package could generate more than four million jobs.
When asked about the Republican agenda for the rest of this session, a GOP aide said, “We’re going to do jobs, jobs and jobs. Jobs [are] the No. 1 issue.”

Isn't it interesting that they claim it will create four million jobs? No, the GOP is not worried about the fact that over three million have lost jobs since Bush came to power. They aren't worried about Democrats harping on the fact that Bush is on track to be the first President since Hoover to oversee a net loss in jobs.

Worried? Not one bit!

No Patriot Act in the NBA

Whoa! David Stern, NBA commissioner, gets political:

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Monday that Kobe Bryant should continue to play for the Lakers this season, even as Bryant faces a potential trial for a sexual assault charge in Colorado.

"Absolutely," Stern said. "We don't have a Patriot Act in the NBA. That means that you're innocent until proven guilty. If every time someone was accused and there were allegations, they were required to stop their life, that wouldn't be a good thing. That could be their choice, but they shouldn't be forced to [stop]."

(Props to Steve Smith and Talk Left for publicizing this)

"... because we could"

Via Cursor documents Thomas Friedman's continuing descent into madness:

In a lively "Talk of the Nation" segment, in which Thomas Friedman fielded one critical call after another, he said that "we did Iraq for one simple reason: because we could." (Audio only)

A less measured politician is one who is more likely to make a gaffe

The Dean Defense Force highlights yet another example of the press taking a minor statement by a candidate (this time Dean) and blowing it up all out of proportion. This time it was a mild comment by Dean about Clark's confusing statements last week about the latter's stance on the Iraq war.

Yesterday Dean held a powerful, positive rally in Boston, focused entirely on attacking the Bush record. What did The New York Times report? That he attacked General Clark

In fact, what Dean did was tell reporters what they themselves have been reporting, that Clark’s stand on the Iraq war had been unclear. "He still has to clarify his position," Dean said.

In his own talks with Clark, Dean felt Clark’s position on the war was clear. And, in fact, Clark lately has tried hard to state he is against this war, calling it a “big blunder.” Unfortunately, polls calling Clark a front-runner have caused right-wing hacks to surround him like ravenous wolves – he hasn’t been able to get the word out.

But that is his problem, and Dean’s pointing it out does not make Dean an attack dog. Except to The New York Times. When corporations create phony grassroots campaigns for their private interests, those campaigns are called “Astroturf.” This was an “Astro-Attack.” Let them know you don’t like it.

This is another example of the media's "let's you and him fight" approach. They like to see dustups between the candidates and so, when they see a comment like Dean's, they blow it up to be an all out assault on Clark's character and an attempt to paint Clark as somehow pro-Iraq-war.

It's all about pushing the drama of battles between the candidates. The journalists expect to see it so they leap at any indication that it might be happening.

Was Dean attacking Clark? Was he deliberately trying to sew bad feelings about the General's position?  I doubt it. It's more likely that Dean was simply asked a question about the troubles Clark had and he expressed an honest opinion about it. I felt the same way about it as Dean did. I, like Dean, was shocked to hear the comment. Clark has already done a good job of correcting for his gaffe. He will probably need to do so repeatedly in order to repair the damage caused by his misstep.

Such is the fate of all honest politicians who don't waste a lot of time measuring their words before they open their mouths. Dean has been down this road himself ("evenhanded approach to Israel and Palestine" anyone?). People say they want politicians who are more open in expressing their opinions. But to get this we have to give them the benefit of the doubt when we hear something that sounds bad.

This is why I think The Pledge is so important. Some Clark supporters, on reading this story, will assume that Dean made his comment as part of a calculated effort to call their candidate's character into question. They will pass this story on reflexively (just as I passed on some negative Clark stories before I developed The Pledge). If they were to take The Pledge they could stop this kind of divisive story in its tracks before it damages the Democratic candidate's chances against Bush next Fall.

Dean's comment, while perhaps ill-considered, is nowhere on the same level as the recent attempts by Lieberman, Kerry and Gephardt to deliberately distort Dean's positions (going so far as to promote web sites chockfull of smears against Dean). Those candidates are getting desperate because they know their campaigns are foundering. Is Dean capable of doing the same thing? Perhaps. But let's hold of on criticizing him for this until he actually does.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Bush may someday fulfill his promise

William Rivers Pitt is a treasure:

A moment will come on January 20th, 2005. It will be cold in Washington D.C. A man who is not George W. Bush will raise his hand and swear and oath to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America. The words “So help me God” will be snatched by the wind and carried across seas and mountains to the furthest corner of the planet. When that happens, all of the Earth will be joined together in the deepest and most profound exhalation of relief. When that happens, George W. Bush will have become in his absence what he completely failed to be with his presence: A uniter.

Even our friends are skeptical

Remember while reading this that Musharraf is one of our closest allies in the Muslim world.

Musharraf Criticizes Terror War
Pakistani President Says Muslims Are Feeling Targeted

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 23, 2003; Page A12

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 -- Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said today that the U.S.-led war against terrorism, including the occupation of Iraq, have helped fuel the perception of Muslims that "Islam, as a religion, is being targeted and pilloried."

Project "Manifestly Unfit"

David Neiwert is starting a new online collaborative effort to document the failings of the Bush Presidency.

"Manifestly Unfit: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush"

I thought I'd announce today that I'm beginning a new meta-project that, like "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" before it, will produce a mini-book-sized "Web pamphlet" designed to be a central informational resource for anyone needing facts at their fingertips.

As the title suggests, this project is an attempt to catalog the many disasters that have befallen the United States since George Bush's inauguration in January 2001, as well as to give a thorough assessment of his culpability in them. It will also catalog Bush's biography before the 2000 election and assess it in the light of the "character issue" raised throughout Clinton's presidency by Republicans; and it will compile the facts about Bush's behavior during the 2000 campaign, with an emphasis on the Florida debacle.

Sounds like a very worthwhile project. I look forward to seeing the results.

Clark's opinion of Rush

Clark throws down the gauntlet to Rush (courtesy a report from Democratic Underground)

I said to [Clark]: "You said in Knoxville that we wouldn't be afraid of guys like Limbaugh. They are coming after you." He said: "Limbaugh's full of shit."

Whoa! I wonder how the Big Fat Liar is going to react to that!

Positive signs from the DNC

Kudos to the people behind the DNC's new blog Kicking Ass. They even link to Tom Tomorrow. Didn't know if I would ever see the day that would happen.

And that's the truth! plblblblbth!

(Courtesy stranger at blah3.)

Not Breaking The Pledge

Why I will not support Clark (Click it. It's not what you think it is.)

Update: Fixed link

Ten Fingers

Cat Lewis on Salon's Table Talk, talking about the 10 candidates for the Democratic nomination:

"We are ten fingers, dedicated to beating Bush, with the sound of two hands clapping"


Jimmy Breslin hates America

"George Bush told lies and they died."

Cart Before The Horse

Economic wisdom from George W. Bush (from last nights FOX interview)

BUSH: There's an employment lag that generally accompanies a recovery. The economy gets going and after a while employment catches up.

But this is an unusual marketplace in that…productivity is very high, which means growth has to be higher than productivity in order to add jobs.

Or productivity has got to level off some and growth be robust.

I believe we're going to add jobs, because I believe this economy is strong.

HUME: How soon do you expect that to start happening?

BUSH: Well, you know, I don't know.

You ask these economists, they'll say, on the one hand here and the other hand here.

There's a fundamental cart-before-the-horse going on here. Productivity is the measure of how much is being produced by the economy per worker in that economy. Bush seems to think that productivity drives GDP  and employment when it is simply a measure of the ratio of those two. If productivity levels off then it means either GDP has gone down and/or employment has gone up. So it is employment and GDP that drive productivity, not the other way around.

By focusing on productivity the Bushies can distract attention away from bad employment numbers. And when they are called on those low numbers they can simply spout this kind of goobleygook to suggest that everything will just fine just so long as we can bring productivity down.

The only thing I'm not sure of here is whether Bush really understands that productivity is just a measure of other economic factors, not a prime factor itself, and that he is just pushing this stuff in order to dazzle people or whether he actually thinks it has any relevance to the discussion. I'm not sure which is worse.

Taking The Pledge, Part 5

I want to clarify something about The Pledge that maybe has confused some people. The Pledge is not simply an Anybody-But-Bush pledge (though I won't object if people want to pledge that as well). Nor is it a pledge not to criticize other candidates for the nomination. It is simply a pledge to do the best we can to not become tools of Karl Rove, a man who would like nothing better than to get supporters for the various candidates fighting with each other.

Take The Pledge and pass it on.

Taking the Pledge, Part 4

Paul Ezell takes The Pledge:


I have no blog site, but I am a Dean financial supporter who appreciates the gravity of your pledge and plea to all of us. This is the text of a letter (yes, snail-mail) which I sent to the Clark campaign on the day of his announcement:

Dear Sirs and General Clark,

I am a supporter of Dr. Dean, and I am writing to express the warmest welcome to the campaign.  I am, frankly, thrilled with your decision to enter the race, and I am sure that excellent leaders are never in oversupply.  I hope I can speak for most Dean supporters in saying that if you win the nomination, you can expect as much effort and financial aid from us as we can muster.

I'm sure that General Clark is familiar with this passage from the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides that, mutatis mutandis, applies to the situation leading to the current Iraq war:

"In going to Sicily you are leaving many enemies behind you, and    you apparently want to make new ones there and have them also on your hands . . .. Even if we did conquer the Sicilians, there are so many of them and they live so far off that it would be very difficult to govern them. It is senseless to go against people who, even if conquered, could not be controlled, while failure would leave us much worse off than we were before we made the attempt . . .. The next best thing is to make a demonstration of our power and then, after a short time, go away again. We all know that what is most admired is what is farthest off and least liable to have its reputation put to the test . . .. The right thing is that we should spend our new gains at home and on ourselves instead of on these exiles who are begging for assistance and whose interest it is to tell lies and make us believe them, who have nothing to contribute themselves except speeches, who leave all the danger to others and, if they are successful, will not be properly grateful, while if they fail in any way they will involve their friends in their own ruin."

No one else in the nation has more standing to make this case; 
about what we must face in history's lessons so that we not condemned to repeat them, and demonstrate that clear leadership transcends partisan ideology.

Respectfully, Paul Ezell MD.

I know I meant every word, and that there is no reason to cannibalize each other in the party, just as the Bush team and media whores would have us do. You can reproduce my letter in any way you will. Anyone but Bush in 2004!


Monday, September 22, 2003


The respect issue is, I think, what is at the core of a lot of Dean supporter's grumblings about Clark. We've had to put up with months of bullshit from "experts" about how Dean will never get anywhere followed by these same "experts" expressing surprise at how successful Dean has been up till now (especially considering where he started).

If the Democratic establishment would simply acknowledge that the Dean movement is real, important and, most of all, good for the party then I think it would go a long way towards healing some of those wounds.

Here's my nightmare scenario: Clark wins the nomination. Dean drops out and throws his support behind Clark. We then immediately see stories about the Democratic establishment breathing a sigh of relief because they managed to "dodge the Dean bullet".

Dean supporters, on hearing this, tell the establishment to go fuck themselves. They scatter to the four winds. The most powerful grassroots Democratic organization of the last 20 years is destroyed by the condescending attitudes of a few idiots in the party leadership.

Clark has to spend the first couple of months of the general election season rebuilding the network that these fools destroyed with their thoughtless comments, giving Bush the window he needs to push past Clark and take the Presidency once again.

That is my nightmare. Let's make sure it doesn't happen.

The Moderates Are Revolting!

E.J. Dionne brings us the attack of the Anti-Bush Moderates. This is the closest I have seen one of the mavens of the establishment political press come to understanding what is going on in the Democratic primary race. Dionne correctly points out that the significant thing is not that the left wing of the Democratic party is angry at Bush. The significant thing is that Bush appears to have pissed off the moderates even more.

If the Bushies continue to misunderstand the nature of this rebellion then that is all the better for us. They will continue to attack it as if it is left-wing and they will lose because it is obvious (especially with Clark in the race) that it is anything but.

Bring it on!

Taking the Pledge Part 3

Just so people are clear on this: the purpose of The Pledge is not to inhibit people from criticizing the other guy's candidate. It is just a way of reminding us not to immediately jump on any negative information we hear about the other guys nor presume that supporters of opposing candidates are somehow deficient because they aren't supporting our guy. We need to block any attempt by provocateurs to get supporters of the various candidates fighting against each other. I think The Pledge can help. It's my way of reminding myself, personally, that Clark is not Dean's enemy.

BTW, if you want to be listed as taking The Pledge please email me and I'll add you to a list of pledgers.

Ba-da-bing! Ba-da-boom!

Kevin Drum demonstrates why I love blogging.

Web newbie question

I'm thinking of putting some kind of mechanism for people to affirm their support for The Pledge. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good tool I could use for this?


Today is a good day

So a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows Clark leading Bush (Clark:49, Bush:46) and is only slight ahead of my guy, Howard Dean (Bush:49, Dean:45).

Now, my normal caveat about national polls is that it is way to early to say that they indicate whether one candidate will win or not. Not many people are paying attention to these numbers.


Some of the most important people in this election are paying attention to these numbers right now. Those people are the members of the establishment press. As much as we may deride them for the vacuity, they do have an inordinate influence on the public dialog. Therefore, anything that gets them off their butts and paying attention is a significant thing.

This poll will get them off their butts. No longer can they seriously push the line that Bush is unbeatable. No longer can they act like Bush is wildly popular (well, maybe FOX will try).

This poll will, I predict, bring about a sea-change in Bush coverage. Dubya has already been getting more heat than he is used to from the press because of the constant trickle of bad news from Iraq. This poll may just validates the suspicion that Bush is on shaky ground going into the 2004 election.

The press is nothing if it is not a pack of sharks that loves to go into a feeding frenzy. As much as they may have gloried in Bush's glow after 9/11, they will delight in ripping him apart if he falls.

Don't break out the champagne yet folks. But know that today is a good day.

Take The Pledge Update

I've reworked the pledge I made below into a more general form and put a link to it on the top of my blog.

Take the pledge and pass it on.

"I just met a General named Wesley"

There are many days when I wish I could be this funny.

Taking The Pledge

Joe Conason and Gene Lyons are long-time veterans in the battle with the VRWC. We all owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Which is why I am upset to see some people going after the both of them for their apparent support of Wesley Clark over Howard Dean. (Joe has not pushed Clark as visibly as Gene, but it's not hard to see where his sympathies lie if you read his columns on the matter). I pit of despair grows in my heart each time I see people rip into these two fine gentlemen. They don't deserve. And, what's more, it 

I categorically refuse to get upset at Joe or Gene for their apparent support of Clark over Dean. I refuse to scoff at their reasons for doing so. They have done far to much for the cause to immediately dismiss them as fools for their concerns about Dean.

Let's be clear about something: while I would much prefer a President Dean over a President Clark, the electoral math does indicate that Clark will have an easier time beating Bush than Dean. We would be as foolish to dismiss this concern as those who dismiss the Dean phenomena as a movement of immature amateurs.

We must not lose sight of the fact that the most important task before us is to remove Bush from power. A person does not have to be a fool or star-struck to decide that the risks of a Dean candidacy outweigh the benefits of a Dean presidency.

Having Dean as President would be a great thing.

Having Clark as President would be a good thing.

Having Bush as President is and would be a disastrous thing.

We must not let our partisanship cause us to lose sight of this basic truth. I'm willing to do my part. As such, I am going to stop being so quick to forward negative stuff about Clark until I'm sure it pans out. Up till now I've been far to willing to regurgitate Clark smears simply because his candidacy threatens my guy.

To this I pledge. No more will I be:

  • A tool of those who want to disrupt the Anybody-But-Bush movement.
  • A partisan who would rather bring down the other guy's candidate then find reason to elevate my own.
  • A dupe who will automatically assume that anything negative about the other guy's candidate is more likely to be true than the negative things said about my guy.
  • A fool who loses sight of the ultimate goal: the removal of George W. Bush.

I do solemnly swear to uphold this pledge to the best of my ability. I encourage others to do the same.

Update: I've reworked the pledge into a more general form, saved it off into a separate file and put a link to it on the top of my blog.

Take the pledge and pass it on.

Healing wounds

I recently talked about an incident where I read a comment from a Clark supporter who said, upon Clark's entry into the race, that the "grownups" were finally back in charge. I talked about how this comment seriously teed me off with its implication that Dean supporters were childish in their support for Dean and that they should just leave politics to the "grownups" who knew what they were doing.

I owe that person an apology.

Apparently I completely misunderstood the intent behind his comment. First of all, I misquoted it. He said that Clark was the "grownups" candidate (he used the quotes). He did not say that the grownups were back in charge. Neither did he mean to imply that Dean and his supporters were childish. Apparently his intent was to say that Clark was being treated as the "grownups" candidate. Not that he actually was "the grownups candidate". This is essentially what I have been saying.

Sorry for holding you up as an example of a bad Clark supporter.

It is true that there are a number of people who are pushing Clark precisely because he is the "grownups" candidate. This is an attitude that I have found increasingly insulting. When I read this person's comment I leapt at it as just another example of that attitude.

While I shouldn't have been so quick to jump on that person, this is still an important issue that needs to be discussed. The condescension within the Democratic leadership towards their own rank-n-file is real and isn't going away. It is an attitude that has driven so many people away from the Democratic party. It is inherently destructive and I think will rip the party apart if it isn't stopped.

It is hard not to displace my resentments about these leaders onto the guy that they seem to be grasping at as their last hope for holding onto power. I acknowledge that it is not Clark's fault if some of his supporters are acting like this. I hope Clark supporters will acknowledge that it is not Dean's fault if some of his supporters are so quick to dismiss Clark as a DINO (Democrat In name Only).

For the last six months many of us Dean supporters have had to deal with constant put downs by people who claim to know better about what it takes to win. Yet these same people are constantly caught off guard by the success of the Dean campaign. It's hard not to hold them in contempt when their predictions are so far off base. It's hard not to hold them in contempt when they hold in contempt the one thing that has appeared in the last few years that gives me some hope for the future.

I don't expect them to throw their support behind Dean. But I'd like it if they would at least acknowledge the Dean phenomena as real, important and fundamentally a good thing.

Despite what some of you may think from my recent postings, I have not written of General Clark. But I know that some Dean supporters are starting to do that specifically for the reasons I have talked about. If Clark and the Democrat leadership want the considerable support that is the Dean Army, if Clark should win the nomination, then they would be advised not to needlessly antagonize them with a condescending attitude.

Embrace them and love them for what they are: people who love their country and want to go the extra one hundred miles to save it. Don't laugh at their political inexperience. Revel in it.

That's all I'm asking for.

I got mine, screw you

Like Kos, I'm stealing from Atrios this morning by posting the following item from the Washington Post.

Speaking of contracting out, an administration move to privatize air traffic control at 69 airports has sparked opposition from labor groups, which contend it would compromise safety.

The administration had proposed 71 airports, but House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who supports the effort, got someone to strike the two Alaska airports on the list.

Young, on an Alaska cable TV show a week ago, acknowledged the move generated some heat.

"Of course the criticism of myself," he said, "is that I exempted the state of Alaska." But there were ample reasons for that, he said, ticking off a number of them.

"Lastly," Young said, "my hotel room is on the top floor of the Sheraton, and the airplanes take right off towards my hotel room. Every morning I look out and there's one coming right at me. It's an interesting experience and I want to make sure everything is done right in that field."

Explanation for the dim: Young just said that a privately run airport won't make him feel as safe as a publicly run airport. But he has no problem with letting everyone else in the country suffer from the increased danger that he doesn't want to personally worry about.

Thank you Rep. Young for presenting the clearest example yet of the sheer amoral nature of the modern Republican party: I got mine, screw you.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

What does Wesley Clark want?

Howard Fineman discusses Wesley Clark

After Al Qaeda attacked America, retired Gen. Wes Clark thought the Bush administration would invite him to join its team. After all, he'd been NATO commander, he knew how to build military coalitions and the investment firm he now worked for had strong Bush ties. But when GOP friends inquired, they were told: forget it.

Word was that Karl Rove, the president's political mastermind, had blocked the idea. Clark was furious. Last January, at a conference in Switzerland, he happened to chat with two prominent Republicans, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Marc Holtzman, now president of the University of Denver. "I would have been a Republican," Clark told them, "if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls." Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race--as a Democrat. Messaging NEWSWEEK by BlackBerry, Clark late last week insisted the remark was a "humorous tweak." The two others said it was anything but. "He went into detail about his grievances," Holtzman said. "Clark wasn't joking. We were really shocked."

I'm trying to remain open-minded about the General because I don't want the fact that he is running against my chosen candidate to cloud my judgment. If he is a strong candidate who can beat Bush then I don't want to do anything to harm his chances if he should get the nomination.

However, the emerging story about Clark's ambivalence about being a Democrat is troubling. Stories like this, if they are true, suggest that Clark is more interested in what is best for Clark then what is best for the Democratic party.

They might, at this time, be the same thing. But what if Clark's interest diverges from what is best for the Democrats? What do they do then? If Rove had returned his phone call would Clark now be a firm supporter of the administration line on Iraq? Did Clark decide to run for the Democratic nomination because he thinks the Democrats would be better able to handle today's troubles. Or is he doing it because he saw a power vacuum that he could fill?

One of the standard questions we should ask of any candidate for the Presidency is, "Why do you want the job?" I'm still waiting to hear Clark's answer.

Update: I just re-read the passage above and realized that the sources of the "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls" quote are two Republicans. Just another data point to consider in assessing how serious the comment was. Clark does not deny saying it. He only says it was a joke.