July 2004
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Posted July 29, 2004
Republican hypocrisy surfaces on e-voting

Today's Hypocrisy Alert comes courtesy of Mr_Blog's second-favoritenewspaper, the St. Petersburg Times. It seems the Florida Republican Party hassent a mailer urging their voters to apply for paper absentee ballots,because

The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronicvoting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of arecount... Make sure your vote counts. Order your absentee ballot today. Full story

Terrific! Now that we're all agreed, maybe it will be possible to stoptouchscreen voting systems until there is a higher degree of proof of accuracyand security, and a paper trail. Because when you undermineconfidence in the electoral process, you undermineconfidence in the legitimacy of the republic. It's then a short road topermanent states of emergency, suspension of rights and a fascist state. We're already two-thirds down that road.

Dump e-voting for now; I'd much rather that Ralph Nader be the only thing to queerthe outcome of the Kerry-Bush contest.

On the Web:
Black Box Voting
St. Petersburg Times

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Posted July 28, 2004
Weasels in the Henhouse

Is it just me, or did anyone else fall out of their chair when Al Sharptontook the podium at the Fleet Center? This was the same Al Sharpton whose"campaign" for the Democratic nomination was bankrolled by a Republican dirty-tricks operative. And nowhere he was at the microphone, on the second most important night of this year'sconvention, the night John Edwards was to be formally introduced to mainstreamAmerica. Sharpton should be booted out of the party and forbidden to put a Dafter his name, much less honored with a spot on the convention schedule.

Remember Sharpton in the primaries? His only reason for being there seemed tobe to take shots at Howard Dean (such as pressing inflammatory questions likewhy Dean hadn't appointed more minorities to state jobs in Vermont (duh:3.8%minority)).

The speech Edwards gave, when it finally was his turn, was a good one. My highlights:

  • Theme: "It doesn't have to be that way."
  • "Health care the same as your senators have." Single payer?! Cool.
  • "End tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs."
  • "Keep tax cuts for 98% of Americans."
  • "We have a moral responsibility to lift those families up [out of poverty]."
  • Theme: "Hope is on the way."

    The problem was not in what Edwards said. The problem was that by the time hegot on the dais, it was well past 10pm on the east coast—out of TV primetime. The point of debuting your Clintonian golden boy (and is he ever) on TV isto do it to the biggest possible audience. Waiting until 10:22pm EDT, by myclock, was the wrong move and meant Edwards's speechifying did not reach as manypeople as it might have.

    So what happened? They could have cut some of the speakers immediatelypreceding Edwards; I understood why Governors Ed Rendell, Jennifer Granholm andBill Richardson spoke, but they were expendable. And they didn't do very goodjobs. Rendell went on about hybrid cars and fuel efficiency; Granholm spokeslowly and mentioned cars too; and Bill Richardson's pace was even slower (theguy's oratory style has always put me to sleep anyway). The film of generals andadmirals endorsing Kerry and the speech by Gen. John "New Democrat"Shalikashvili (Watch, clip start @2:58:25) were powerful, I wouldn't have cutthose. Yet the convention organizers didn't appear to make any moves to tighten things up—unless you count the NPR report of the apparent cancellation of a number by John Cougar Mellencamp.

    By my count Sharpton was the biggest reason Edwards started so late.The NPR coverage was invaluable: E.J. Dionne, hardly my favorite talking head,noted that Sharpton had departed extensively from his prepared text. In the endhe exceeded his allotted time by some 18-20 minutes. If they had enforcedSharpton's time and cut the three governors, Edwards could have conceivably hitthe stage at 9:15 EDT.

    Dionne didn't seem to get the full implication of it being Sharpton who put things behind schedule. It was as if Sharpton was still on theRepublican payroll. His mission: bump Edwards out of prime time. Every littlebit hurts; remember, Dubya "won" Florida by only a few hundred votes.

    Speaking of weasels, whosaw former NYC mayor Ed Koch early this afternoon, being paraded like a hostage on Fox News airwaves? It seems Democrat Koch is supporting Bush. The reason: Hetrusts Bush to better handle the war against terror(!). Well if Koch wants tosacrifice the economy, the budget, the environment, civil rights, education,health insurance, international alliances and military readiness, just so Bush can keep playing at being Commander in Chief and ignore his Daily Briefings, well fine. I hopehe and other GOP-symp weasels Zell Miller and Griffin Bell enjoy speaking in tongues at the Republican convention in New York. And I hope Al Sharpton joins them.


    Posted July 26, 2004

    Hi, I'm Ron Sims, and I want to be the next Governor of Washington.

    Bill Gates once said that his dream was for every home to have a computer, allof them running Microsoft products. Today, that dream is nearly a reality. In similar fashion,my dream for our state is for an economy based on transportation—witheveryone riding a light rail train.

    I love trains! I traveI a lot in my job as King County Executive, and I reallyenvy other cities' trains. The long, steel rails. The tunnels. The big multi-cartrainsets, plunging in and out of the tunnels, again... again... and again. There's something about trains... I've been attracted to them since I was, oh, 12 or 13.I don't know why. But I've loved them ever since. Now, I want to be the "ChiefEngineer" of Washington, and I want all of you, my fellow Washingtonianians, tobe the conductors!

    With light rail, a congestion-free future is just around the bend! Never mind that almost every serious study shows that congestion gets worse withlight rail. You'll use it or else you're selfish: a selfish, anti-social,anti-community driver who deserves to sit in traffic jams.Bastards... I see them all the time from the back of my official,deputy-driven county car. Hateful... selfish...

    Just imagine a day where everything about your life revolves around trains! What I'mtalking about is a train-based economy:

       • Plan when you have to leave home to catch aseries of buses to the train station!
       • Chat amiably with complete strangers on the bus, and inthe rain while you wait to transfer to another bus!
       • At the train station, enjoy vending machine lattes as youwait for your train to arrive!
       • Cram yourself onto a train with other people who aren't going where you'regoing!
       • Along the route, you'll stop at stations that aren't your destination!
       • Get off the train at a station that's still many blocks or even miles fromyour real destination. Keep your bus schedule handy!
       • Then do it all in reverse to get home! And be sure you don't stay out late,because the trains won't run late at night—in a train-based economy,everyone is home in bed at a reasonable hour! The nighttime crime rate will plummet!

    Now imagine taking this transit utopia to the next level: What if you worked in "TheIndustry"? Only a few of us would take the train TO work; for most of us, thetrain WOULD be work! Doesn't that sound exciting??? You could help... lay... therails. You could help build traincars. You could take tickets. You could be astation courtesy clerk. Or work in maintenance, or as a transit cop. You could evenbe one of those people who makes unintelligible PA announcements. Watch a French movie like Amelie or Subway and you'll see how much people love working in the stations of "Le Metro." C'mon people: these are real jobs I'm talking about!

    And I'm a friend of business too! Sure, light rail means the streets will becongested. Sure, the congestion means it's more trouble to take delivery ofstock, and for business to make deliveries to customers. So how does a cut inbusiness taxes sound? Or a special tax credit if you don't move to a state withbetter transportation? It's OK, because we'll make up the lost revenue with mystate income tax proposal that doesn't have a chance in hell of happening.

    I might build popular support for an income tax by making it progressive. Orby reducing the sales tax and eliminating the property tax onprimary residences... Nahhhh!!! That would be too logical! I don't want anyone tothink I got to Olympia by throwing money at the taxpayers. I'll just throw money atbig business—learned that from my best bud Greg Nickels, who is an even bigger train fan than me!

    That's why I want to be your next Governor. I'm Ron Sims: remember my campaign slogan—"When Mr. Cognitive Dissonance comesa-knockin', I'm not home." I know, we're working on it.

    Paid for by Trainspotters For Sims, Parsons B. Rinckerhoff, Treasurer.


    Posted July 21, 2004
    Anatomy Of A Leak

    Today, Mr_Blog was going to go with a vicious parody at the expense of King County Executive Ron Sims, but that can keep until another day. Instead, I want to take a look at the strange case of Sandy Berger, National Security Haberdasher.

    The AP broke the story on Monday, July 19. Here are the main points:

    "Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, is the focus of acriminal investigation into whether he improperly removed notes and classifieddocuments from the National Archives during preparations for hearings by thecommission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Berger said he inadvertently took some documents from the archives but was not trying to withhold information from the commission.
    . . .
    Three government officials who have been briefed on the investigation saidBerger had removed handwritten notes and classified documents from a privateroom at the National Archives where he was preparing for his March 24 testimony. The officials declined to be identified because of the sensitivity ofthe investigation.

    Two of the officials said Berger was reportedly seen stuffingsome of the material into his clothing.
    . . .
    'I deeply regret the sloppiness involved but had no intention of withholdingdocuments from the Commission and, to the contrary, to my knowledge everydocument requested by the Commission from the Clinton Administration wasproduced,' Berger said in a statement Monday night. Berger said he returned some classified documents that he found in his office and all of the handwrittennotes he had taken from the secure room. But, he said, he could not locate twoor three copies of the millennium terror report.

    'When I was informed by thearchives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything Ihad except for a few documents that I apparently had accidentally discarded,' hesaid. The archives is believed to have copies of some of the missing documents.
    . . .
    David Gergen, who was an adviser to Clinton and worked with Berger for a time inthe White House, said Tuesday, 'I think it's more innocent than it looks.'
    . . .
    Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, said Tuesday the Bergerinvestigation will not impact the panel's work in any way. The 10-memberbipartisan panel releases its final report on Thursday. 'This is a matterbetween the government and an individual,' he said. 'They were not ourdocuments, and we believe we have access to all the materials we need to see todo our report.'
    . . .
    One of Berger's lawyers, Lanny Breuer, said Berger believed he was looking atcopies of the classified documents, not originals.

    The Archives, which is thenation's repository for presidential papers, is believed to have copies of someof the missing documents.

    Berger was allowed to take handwritten notes. He knewthat taking his own notes out of the secure reading room violated archivesprocedures. But, Breuer said, 'I do not believe he acted illegally at all. Heacted lawfully but admittedly sloppily'."

    Pretty balanced so far: notes and copies of documents; put them in his clothing (pockets?); it was inadvertent; David Gergensays it's no big deal. But that was Monday. By Tuesday, Fox News picked up thestory. Fox took most of the story from the AP wire, but with a difference:

    Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwrittennotes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertentlytook copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.

    "Clothing" has become "jacket, pants and socks." Moreover, it attributes the admission to Berger himself, though it's not in the AP story.The leather portfolio is new information, though. And at least it is still clearin Fox's story that what Berger "knowingly" took were the handwrittennotes—notes he was allowed to make—and that he says removal ofthe copies of classified documents (no originals) was accidental, in theportfolio.

    Later in the day (approximately 9:30 pm PDT), Fox News cousin The New YorkPost adds to the story. Instead of notes and copies of documents in his clothing, Berger is now

    "under criminal investigation for sneaking top-secret documents out of theNational Archives in his pants legs and, possibly, his socks"

    Possibly his socks? Fox reported Berger admitted he put them in his socks—now it's just 'possible'? Why is there doubt?—in the AP story it was "clothing", and Archives staff "witnessed Berger's actionsin the [reading] room." Do you suppose maybe he didn't admit to socks at all? Mention of the leather portfolio is gone too, as are Gergen'sassurances. The handwritten notes are not mentioned until later, citingRepublicans who want to know if Berger "illegally made notes." For the Post, the affairis now "Sockdoc."

    Luckily, John Kerry is not Al Gore. Kerry (Berger has had to bow out as acampaign adviser) has gone public charging a leak, for the purpose of diverting attention from negatives in the final report by the 9/11 Commission—which just so happens to have been previewed today. The White House initially issued denials, saying the White Housedidn't even know about the Berger investigation. But now (1505 PDT) CNN reportsthat Scott McClellan admits some people at the White House did know.

    Time to connect the dots. Go back to the original story: who told the AP about the investigation? TheNational Archives? No, let's dissect the story. The quote is

    "Three government officials who have been briefed on the investigation said [that Archives staff witnessed Berger's actions.]"

    "the officials said Berger was reportedly seen stuffingsome of the material into his clothing."

    It wasn't the Archives, or investigators—it was"officials." Who were the officials? We don't know:

    The officials declined to be identified because of the sensitivity ofthe investigation.

    In other words, they were "informed sources," and it was aleak. Then Fox and the Post juiced it up with pants and socks.

    Wolf Blitzer is on CNN right now (1440 PDT), interviewing Senators Saxby Chambliss (R) and Ron Wyden (D). Wyden maintainedthat Berger's actions were inadvertent and, most importantly, that there was nothreat to national security. Chambliss characterized Berger's explanation as"returned most of them, and the dog ate the rest," as well as "odd and bizarre."While praising Berger's past service (yeah, right), Chambliss raised a popularspecter, Unanswered Questions, to keep the scandal (that's what CNN is callingit now in their screencrawl) going. This is how the sides are forming. Stay tuned.

    Sidebar: White House Tap Dance (5:50 pm). I highly recommend the following report from Democracy Now!, containing audio of Scott McClellan evading questions from Helen Thomas. All she wanted to know was, would Bush follow Tony Blair's example, and take full responsibility for leading the nation to war based on false pretenses? Listen (Realaudio).

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    Posted July 20, 2004
    Pluck the Duck

    I've always read the comics in the newspaper. But in our internet era Iusually check the newspapers online during the week, so I don't see the funnies.Therefore on Sundays I get a Times/P-I delivered so I can get a weekly fix ofDilbert and Doonesbury. The new Opus strip is still inshakedown mode. Sherman's Lagoon also makes me chuckle, I don't know why.

    I skip over most of the strips. Cathy is tiresome; Gas Alley iscrotchety; Family Circus is just plain nauseating. But the one Icurrently find hateful is Mallard Fillmore, scrawled by a Bruce Tinsley.It is, to put it charitably, a conservative strip. It is the kind ofconservative strip that was chosen because the editors no doubt had thefollowing meeting:

    "Say there Gus."
    "G'morning Sam."
    "Gus, the right-wingers have been sending us letters complaining about Doonesbury."
    "Again? What's their beef this time?"
    "The usual: 'it's too liberal; it's biased; the comics page isn't balanced'."
    "But we have B.C."
    "I think Johnny Hart is too moderate for them."
    "OK. So contact King Features and get the most idiotically ultra-right comic they have."
    "You got it, Gus."

    The eponymous character is a green-headed duck who usually spouts some kindof right-wing claptrap. In the July 18 strip, the duck is watching the Tour de France on TV. He is cheering for Americans in the three week race—TylerHamilton, Levi Leipheimer, Bobby Julich and, of course, Lance Armstrong. "Thisyear," thinks the duck, "there's actually a chance that the top three placescould go to Americans!"

    Comics are often written weeks, if not months in advance of publication. Sothe duck's hope for an all-American podium in Paris is not coming to pass.Leipheimer is in the best position for a #2 finish, in 10th place after today'sStage 15. But Julich crashed on Sunday when his handlebars were caught by the sidemirror of a Tour car; he sits in 49th place. And Hamilton abandoned the race onSaturday. (There are also three other Americans in the Tour, two on Postal; I guess George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and Christian Vandevelde haven't captured Tinsley'simagination.)

    But in the strip, the duck's reverie is spoiled not by the race results, butby a TV announcer who says:

    "See?! This is why the rest of the world hates America."

    What the hell??? Is Tinsley one of those neocons with a persecutioncomplex? You know the type: 'Nobody likes America! They hate us... becausethey're jealous! They want all our stuff!'

    I hope Tinsley was actually watching Saturday's Stage 13 won by Armstrong.The day concluded with a 16 km, 7.8% "haute category" climb up to the Plateau deBeille. The custom is for spectators to line the route, running alongside andshouting encouragement to the racers. Hey Tinsley, did you see the throng ofSpaniards, French and Basques cheering Lance? Did you see the happy wackos decked out in American flags and longhorn helmets? Did anyone boohim or the US Postal jersey? They did not, because they don't hate America, orAmericans. They hate Bush. Neo-cons seem to get confused on this regard, as theyequate feelings for Country with feelings for the Leader. That's not the way theUSA is supposed to work. What system of government equates a country with itsleader? Yes, it's fascist dictatorship.

    Perhaps the crowds know what Tinsley appears not to—that cycling is a team sport, the stars don't do it all on their own. And there are no national teams in the Tour. Sponsors are companies. US Postal is just a sponsor of Armstrong's team, his teammatesare Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, and Russian, as well as Americans. Postal is not the 'American team,' anymore than Phonak is American because Hamilton is a member, or CSC is American due to the presence of Julich.

    Has the media even been anti-American? It doesn't appear so, the 2004 Tourhas verged on a love fest for Armstrong. Although the run up to the raceincluded warmed-over allegations about doping and a libel suit by Lance, theEuropean media also featured stories about the improvement in relations betweenhim and the fans, how Armstrong seemed much friendlier and relaxed, and how thepublic has responded in kind. Any pre-race controversy does not seem to havefollowed Armstrong on the race route.

    This year there are no cries of "Dopé", only awe and respect for theTexan, who today beat Ivan Basso to the line to win Stage 15 and retake theyellow jersey—maybe for good. A historic sixth straight victory in Paris is his tolose. It looks like the only dopé around here is Bruce Tinsley and his strange brand of nationalistic self-pity.

    Sidebar: Mork De Ork.AP-Bruno Bade You know who gets it? Robin Williams. Lance's second-best buddy (because Sheryl Crow is the default #1) choppered in to see Stage 15 and rode in the US Postal team car up to the finish line in Villard-de-Lans. "I was there to hand out water, and gels—or as we call it, 'Goo'," Williams said in a hilarious and enthusiastic interview on OLN.

    Williams took note of the international and multilingual effort that is world-class bicycle racing. He joked that in the Postal car the

    "mood was very exciting because it's a 'United Nations' car, there are peoplespeaking Flemish, 'Spanith'... French, which is necessary en France...German, which we must speak occasionally in France, every so often."

    Williams seemed to be saying, It's the Tour de France, but it belongs toeveryone.


    Posted July 16, 2004
    Fun with Excel

    Am I the only one left with the impression that Dubya & Co. are manipulatingterrorism warnings and the DHS color-code system for political gain? Well Idecided to investigate, and came up with the graph below.

    One of my few fond memories of being a University of Washington undergraduatemajoring in Political Science was reading the works of Edward Tufte. Tufte is apolitical economist whose forte is statistics. In one of his books, PoliticalControl of the Economy, Tufte made observations about changes in economicpolicy (Fed changes in the money supply, timing of Social Security COLAs, etc.)and the electoral cycle (Election Days). What was fun was that Tufte seemed tobe saying look, these are just statistics. They don't prove the party inpower manipulates policy for electoral gain—but it sure is amazing how onefollows the other so closely.

    How I did it. Thus inspired, I set out togather data. First, I perused my War AgainstError news chronology, picking out a list of the biggest things I thoughtDubya, Dick et al would want to downplay (Ken Lay indicted) or exploit (Saddamcaptured). These "News" items are the purple symbols on the graph, + for goodnews, dots for neutral or bad news:

    Event: State of Union, 1/30/02
    Budget goes into deficit, 8/27/02
    2002 midterm election, 11/2/02
    Event: State of Union, Jan-03
    Event: Bush declares war, 19-Mar-03
    Joe Wilson: Bush knew Niger claim was wrong well before State of Union, 7/7/03
    Bush order gives Big Oil blanket immunity (E.O. 13303), 8/4/03
    Census reports #Americans in poverty up 1.4 million, 9/3/03
    David Kay: No sign of Iraqi weapons, 9/26/03
    Senators passes $87B Iraq package, 11/4/03
    Saddam captured, 12/14/03
    Gov. Kean calls attack preventable, blame is inside Administration, 12/17/03
    Release of excerpts from Paul O'Neill book, 1/11/04
    Army War College: War on Terror strategy "Fundamentally Unwinnable", 1/13/04
    David Kay admits "We were all wrong" about WMD, 1/29/04
    Misuse of intel first exposed, 3/9/04
    One year anniversary of start of Iraq war, 3/18/04
    Richard Clarke book released, 3/22/04
    Rummy extends soldiers' tours of duty, 4/16/04
    Woodward book released, 4/19/04
    Abu Ghraib abuses disclosed, 4/30/04
    Disclosure: Rumsfeld Okd torture policy, 5/15/04
    Bush hires lawyer for Plame probe; knew about, failed to stop Novak leak, 6/3/04
    9/11 Commission: No evidence of link (final report), 6/16/04
    Bush & Kerry even in polls, 6/21/04
    Fahrenheit 9/11 opens, 6/23/04
    Ken Lay indicted, 7/8/04
    Senate report blames CIA, 7/9/04

    Next, Dubya's approval ratings seemedlike a good (inverse) indicator of Bush desperation. I obtained these data(thanks, USA Today!) and plotted them as the red line (thanks, Excel!). Third, I went to the DHS web page and figured out all the times the officialalert status has been raised. Finally, I Googled several variations of the termbush|ridge|cheney warn terror|threat colorattack to find instances when the Administration made statementswarning of terror threats but didn't raise the color status. The combined listof terror warnings with and without color changes are the blue lines:

    10-Sep-02: Anniversary of 9/11
    Nov-02: Midterm election
    7-Feb-03: "attacks to coincide with Muslim holy days"; "soft targets" including apts and hotels
    17-Mar-03: run-up to invasion
    20-May-03: Events: Saudi & Morocco bombings
    22-Dec-03: Militants determined to "wreak catstrophic destruction" on US targets -Ridge; malls, nuke plants, airports, landmarks mentioned
    26-May-04: "Al Qaeda set to hit US hard"- Ashcroft; 7 suspects named
    8-Jul-04: Ridge, Frist warn of attacks in summer/fall 04 leading up to election

    That was the process, and the order in which the steps were performed. Ididn't cherry-pick news that happened when Bush's ratings were down, or when thewarnings occurred. I leave the cherrypicking to Rumsfeld and Cheney.

    The Graph. As we would expect, the News drivesBush's rating: good news usually sends the red line up (sometimes it's flat orflattish); bad news usually sends it down. What we also find is that the bluelines coincide with downturns or troughs in the red line: when Bush'sapproval level is down or climbing out of a dip, out comes a terror alert!In all but one case, the alert is followed by an upswing in the approval curve.

    Remember, this doesn't prove Bush is manipulating terror warnings for electoral gain—but it sure is amazing how one follows the other so closely.

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    Posted July 12, 2004
    Presidential Attack Ad, Take 6


    "A trial lawyer is running for high national office.
    A man with little experience in elective office.
    A man with no experience in foreign affairs.
    Trials lawyers are sleazy, greedy, unprincipled liberals.
    They sue companies and pocket huge fees, passing the higher costs on tostockholders, customers and all of us in higher insurance premiums.
    We can't afford a trial lawyer.
    America can't afford... Abraham Lincoln."
    I'm John C. Breckinridge, and I approve this ad

    Sidebar: The mostridiculous thing I've heard in the past week is the GOP spinners who, withone side of their mouth, say that John Edwards has no foreign policy experience.Never mind that a duty of the Senate is to approve treaties and advise andconsent on ambassadorial appointments. It's in the Constitution (Article 2)—so it's not surprising the GOP's talking headsaren't familiar with it. Then out of the other side, they claim that Dubya hadsuch experience as of 2000, because Texas shares a border with Mexico.

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    Posted July 10, 2004
    CIA blamed. I'm not fooled, are you?

    So the final version of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on prewar intel has been released, and, as already previewed, the "intelligence community" is the whipping boy. It all seems persuasive, but. . .

    Cast your mind back to the months before the invasion of Iraq. Remember the daily drumbeat of news stories indicating that war was inevitable? Now read just a few of the earlier accounts that reconstruct what happened:

    "between Oct. 7 [2002], when President Bush made a speech laying out the case formilitary action against Hussein, and Jan. 28 [2003], when he gave his State of theUnion address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut ordisproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq."Source

    "[T]he president did not make decisions in a methodical way: there was nofree-flow of ideas or open debate. At cabinet meetings, [Paul O'Neill] says thepresident was 'like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is nodiscernible connection,' forcing top officials to act 'on little more than hunches about what the president might think.'
          '. . .From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime'
    " Source

    "[Tenet] said the agency never described Iraq as 'an imminent threat' in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion" Source

    "Tenet told the committee he personally intervened on several occasions tocorrect public statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney falselyclaiming 'conclusive evidence' of Iraqi efforts to obtain weapons of massdestruction. Tenet revealed he learned just last week that in August 2002,senior aides to Vice President Cheney were presented—without the CIA'sknowledge—false and misleading evidence linking Saddam and al Qaeda byPentagon officials running a separate intelligence unit. The vice presidenttrumpets this evidence today despite repeated warnings about its veracity." Source

    And finally, thanks to O'Neill's book we also know that the plan (or rather PNAC's plan) to invade Iraq existed from the earliest days after Bush took (he sure did!) office.

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    Posted July 9, 2004

    LOOK OUT!!!
    "What? Where?"
    Oh, nothing.
    "Hey, aren't you..."
    Bill Frist of Tennessee: physician and senator. I'm here to serve.
    "You can begin by telling me why you screamed in my ear."
    I guess I got carried away.
    "Yeah, what's up with that?"
    I noticed you might have been about to cross the street-
    "Actually I was just standing here enjoying the sunshine, wonderingwhat I'm going to do this afternoon. Anyway, what were you warning meabout?"
    I thought a car was going to hit you.
    "Gosh! Was a car coming?"
    I can't tell you that.
    "Because I didn't see- you can't tell me?"
    You don't have to worry or anything. Just- LOOK OUT!!!
    "What now?"
    "Would you STOP that???"
    "No problem there-"
    "But there's no car coming."
    "That's very familiar logic. Who told you that?"
    "Look, can you tell me how long I need to be 'watchful'?"
    Until November.
    "You don't have any idea at all, do you?"
    Well... No.
    "You should be ashamed of yourself."
    Sorry. I'm sorry.
    "I think I see what's going on here. Maybe this afternoon I'll see a movie."
    I hear Dodgeball is very good.
    "I was thinking Fahrenheit 9/11."

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    Posted July 6, 2004
    EmPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble

    After an early summer surge, the growth in job creation has slowed. The Department of Labor says only 112,000 new jobs were added last month, wellbelow expectations. The official unemployment rate, which doesn't count thosewho have given up looking for work, remains at 6.5%.

    What this all means is that Bush, down anywhere from 2.2 to 2.5 million in terms of thenumbers of jobs lost during his administration, has managed to add back only 1.5 million since last fall, approximately. The latest subpar results lessen the likelihood of even getting back to 2001 levels.

    Yet Bush's earnest self-delusion continues, and in a way that highlights his inability to verbalize anything remotely self-critical (for example, mangling the "fool me twice" adage, and the bewildering mispronunciations of 'Abu Ghraib'):

    "We're witnessing steady growth, steady growth. And that's important. Wedon't need, uh, boom or bust type growth, we want just steady, consistent growth,so that our fellow citizens will be able to find a job."
    Listen to clip (@ :02:58)

    That's how he said it: with the emphasis on the indefinite article. Not a good job. Not a well-paying job. Not a career. Not even "uh fantahstick jahb", as Gov.Schwarzenpfefferincorporated promised his Californians last year.

    A job. Well thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.Excuse me, but a net job loss of a million, level jobless rate, rampant underemployment and a slowing rate of new job creation is not proof of "steady and consistent growth"—unless he means the growth in his administration's mediocrity.

    Almost lost in the—OK, we'll call it 'hoopla'—over today's selection of TV psychic John Edwards as the Democratic running mate, is news of a Senate report (read it before it's archived) that before the invasion the CIA knew Iraq had abandoned its WMD programs. But they didn't tell Dubya:

    The Central Intelligence Agency was told by relatives of Iraqi scientists beforethe war that Baghdad's programs to develop unconventional weapons had beenabandoned, but the C.I.A. failed to give that information to President Bush,even as he publicly warned of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's illicitweapons, according to government officials.

    I can almost hear Fox News blaring the good news: It wasn't Bush's fault! It was Tenet! Four more years!But wait! Keep reading:

    ...analysts may havemisrepresented information, writing reports that distorted evidence in order tobolster their case that Iraq did have chemical, biological and nuclear programs,according to government officials...

    Doesn't that sound familiar?

    The Senate found, for example, that an Iraqidefector who supposedly provided evidence of the existence of a biologicalweapons program had actually said he did not know of any such program.
    . . .Senior C.I.A. analysts became convinced that [a shipment of aluminum tubes] was strong evidence that Mr. Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program....But other government experts... argued that the tubes seemed designedfor use in conventional military rockets.
    ...the C.I.A. selectively sought to prove its case... C.I.A. disclosed theinitial—and successful—test results to support its assertion that thetubes could be used to help produce nuclear weapons. Only later did the results that showed that the tubes ultimately failed in testing.

    Gasp. CIA lied??? Now why would they do that? Maybe for the samereason that Tenet assured Bush that the case for WMD was a slam dunk. It waswhat the White House wanted to hear. They had already decided to go to war.They had the truth, from people like Clarke and Wilson, but they chose to gowith anything that would make the case for invasion stronger.

    This attempt to put all the blame on CIA is a diversion. We can concludethis, not only because it is being put out by a Republican-controlled Senatecommittee, but also because before the war Bush wasn'trelying solely on CIA for its intel. Cheney and Rumsfeld had created their own intelligence group at the Pentagon to cherry-pick the best pro-invasion data, and they did itprecisely because they thought the information they were getting from theintelligence community wasn't pro-war enough. The conclusions of this "Office ofSpecial Plans" were just as rosy as CIA's, if not more so, staffed as it was bya hand-picked group of hawks; the White House was perfectly happy to snort upthe little packets of phony intel provided by Ahmed Chalabi & Co.

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    Posted July 2, 2004
    Excerpts from Clinton unauthorized bio! A Mr_Blog Exclusive!

    Bill Clinton's book tour is going gangbusters, so it was inevitable that other Bubba-oriented books would be rushed out to capitalize on the public's appetite. First up, a biography penned by Helen Fielding as only she can. Following are excerpts from the closely guarded manuscript, courtesy of our connections at Probability Cottage Press.

    Bill Clintons's Diary
    by Helen Fielding

    My Administration
    I Will:
    Faithfully execute the duties of the office of President; bea better husband and father; build peace in Northern Ireland; snarl traffic inSeattle as many times as possible; party hearty!

    January 20.
    Inaugurations: 1 (awesome!); inaugural balls: 12; Big Macs: 5; Fleetwood Mac songs: innumerable.
    •I took the oath of office today. It was more than I ever imagined. Itwas so moving—the shining faces of the thousands lining PennsylvaniaAvenue, so full of hope, so eager to see what lies ahead— I feel awed bythe responsibility they have placed in me, yet confident that great days are ahead for America.
    •Saw another Saturday Night Live skit where Phil Hartman plays me as a fatjunk food junkie. Hillary told the Secret Service "no more McDonalds." I toldthe boys "she didn't say anything about Taco Time."
    •I didn't want to go to the MTV inaugural ball. Damn network that asked methe 'boxers or brief' question. But George Stephanopolous played the StevieNicks card. "Stevie will be there," he promised. Stevie was great, but ChristineMcVie—WOW! Note to self: No more Fleetwood Mac in thisAdministration. "Don't Stop" 50 zillion times on the campaign trail wasenough for a lifetime.
    •Approved hiring of Linda Tripp (v. v. homely), on recommendation of Pres.Bush. Assigned her to Vince Foster.
    . . .
    November17. Freeways shut down: 1; thrown fish caught: 1; la-tays: 14.
    •APEC ministerial meeting, Seattle. This city fucking LOVES me! Shut down themain freeway for a motorcade anywhere else and you'd be burned in effigy, thenrecalled from office. But Seattlites just smile and scream my name like I'm theBeatles. Then they throw a salmon at you and stick a big coffee in your hand.Although here they call them "la-tays." Shook hands with the CEO of somethingcalled "Starbucks", gave him the chance to donate to the reelection fund. Turnsout Starbucks makes these la-tays in a few coffee shops around town. Joke withhim that he ought to sell franchises, he'd take over the world.
    . . .
    Big Macs: 2 (I'm trying); health care reform commissions: 1; blow jobs: 3 (v. good).
    •That fucking, fucking Paula Jones. The only reason I asked herup to that room was that we were closing on the Whitewater partnership, and Ineeded the papers notarized. "I'm a notary," she piped up from behind theregistration desk. Stupid, stupid, STUPID! Those days are over; now I have JanetReno notarize all my documents.
    . . .
    November 26.
    GOP-controlled branches of government: 1; Omnibus spending bills: 1; Big Macs: 4; blowjobs: 26 (v. v. good).
    •First we lose the House, now Gingrich has shut down the government.Most federal employees aren't at work, even the kid whose job it is to warn mewhenever Hillary leaves the Residence.
    •I have a new intern, Monica. She's great, we've really bonded duringthe shutdown. She taught me how to make dormitory phad thai on a hotplate, justramen, a can of Dinty Moore stew and Tabasco. Embarrassing moment: I spilledsome Dinty Moore on her new blue dress. To apologize, I gave her a black ArmyRangers beret that I bought at the Pentagon gift shop. It goes well with herhair.
    . . .
    January 27.
    balanced budget: 1 (surplus next year); Big Macs: 3; blowjobs: 0.
    •Ken Starr thinks there's something between me and Monica! I'm so sure,she's only like my best friend. And what does this have to do with real estate,anyway? Starr has been coming and going at the White House a lot, Secret Serviceasked me what his code-name should be; I suggested "Cotton Mather."
    . . .
    December20. Bosnian Muslims protected: 947,000; U.S. troops lost: 0; Big Macs: 3; Doritos (bags): 4.
    •The bastards impeached me yesterday. ME! Afterward, Hyde came by todiscuss a tax credit rider, and I invited him to sit on the dais at the Gridirondinner. "And bring your girlfriend," I added, intending it to sound clever. But it came out sounding mean-ish.
    •Chelsea and Monica talked on the phone for over an hour, those twohave really become close, like sisters. They went shopping at Tysons Cornerthis morning—I think I'm getting a Nordstrom tie for Christmas. Chelsea saidMonica is holding up OK, but misses the White House awfully. She wants me tocall, because she has an idea about China and technology transfer.
    •I get the last laugh: today's polling shows my approval ratings are UP.
    . . .
    Apologies to Hillary: 36; Big Macs: 1; champagne (glasses): 2.
    •We're going to Me-xi-co! We'll spend the first day talking to El Presidente about trade and immigration, but after that it's Cozumel, baby!Madeleine Albright knows this cantina where they have 8 oz. tequila shooters andfajitas puerco to die for. I only hope I can drag myself away long enough to trymy luck on a marlin boat.
    •Oh, and the Senate voted to aquit me.
    . . .
    Apologies to Hillary: 46; hot dog eating championships: 1.
    •Camp David. Where did it all go wrong? Maybe we didn't do enough atOslo, maybe the agenda was too ambitious.
    •It got off to a good start. After their wives dropped them off at thebus station, Ehud and Yasser shared the bus ride chatting about hobbies, sportsand the Old Testament.
    •The summit never really hit its stride. I should have known we were infor trouble the very first day when Yasser got into some poison oak. Then hefell and broke his glasses, and got his kaffiyeh tangled in some blackberrybushes.
    •I really thought they would achieve something significant on SportsDay. Nothing builds mutual understanding like being team members in a potatosack race, but that Yasser— he's just not coordinated. And Ehud reallyneeds to work on his sportmanship, you don't taunt someone with "baby, cryingbaby, run home to mommy" and then expect to conduct serious diplomacy. Yassersaid "you'll be singing a different tune after an Intifada," and I said"whatifada?" Ehud just said "oh, something Arab," and demanded that we all gocanoeing.
    •It was something of a relief when I had to leave to go to theconvention. I think Al is going to make an excellent President. He just needs todo what I told him: remember your ideals; ask yourself what Jefferson would havedone; don't pick a right wing schmuck to be your running mate. Wait, what do Ihave to worry about? I mean really—George W. Bush? LMAO.
    . . .
    Summary of my Administration:

    Balanced budget: yes
    Surplus: yes
    Stock market: Through the roof
    Interest rates: reeeeeally low
    Inflation: what's that?
    Irish accord: yes
    Kosovo protected: yes
    Rwanda: Oops
    Interstate 5 shutdown: 1, and how, baby!
    Counseling sessions: 86 (v. good)
    La-tays: 126
    Big Macs: 397
    Blowjobs: 42 (v. v. v. good)

    All in all, a successful 8 years!

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