Friday, July 30, 2004

Berger, end of story

As they say in a military barber shop, Next? (updated link)

"President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger -- who'd been accused of stealing classified material from the National Archives -- has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

The National Archives and the Justice Department have concluded nothing is missing and nothing in the Clinton administration's record was withheld from the 9-11 Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports archives staff have accounted for all classified documents Berger looked at.

Late last year they asked investigators to see if the former national security adviser removed materials during his visits.

Berger's lawyers said his client had inadvertently removed several photocopies of reports, but later returned them."

Now, on with the show!

Update: First link has rotted. Repaired link is to the WSJ via The American Prospect. Maybe that one will hold.

Rove's Blunder

William Saletan on how the administration provided the seeds of its own demise.

"For every conservative voter who's inspired to turn out for Bush because of his unyielding conservatism, there's a liberal voter who's inspired to turn out for Kerry. That's why Kerry has had no trouble uniting his party after the primaries. It's why the FleetCenter exploded tonight at every one of Kerry's applause lines. And it's why Kerry can now move aggressively to the middle without fear of losing the left.

In his determination to unite the right, Bush hasn't just united the left. He has lost the center. "


"One more Bush voter on the right, balanced by one more Kerry voter on the left, plus the tilting of one more voter in the middle toward Kerry, is a net loss for the president. That's the lesson of this administration, this election, and this convention. Kerry doesn't have to write any good lines. He just has to read them."

Kerry's Acceptance

Finally got to watch the speech last night. In my humble but admittedly biased opinion he didn't hit it out of the park...he hit it out of the parking lot and across the tracks!

I especially like the high bar he is setting for the political discourse. He is making it clear that the Party is above Karl Rovian smear tactics.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

What the Democrats Will Have Problems Doing

Brad DeLong points out the tough jobs the democrats have ahead of them. It won't be easy to get them done. However, it would be impossible for the Republicans.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sign of the times

My local newspaper is known for always trying to cozy up to the winning side in the political world, whatever that side happens to be. When Crashcart Cheney visited this desert outpost of a community yesterday I noted that the protest organized by local Democrats garnered almost as many column-inches as the Cheney-Rossi fundraiser. The DNC gets the headline above the fold, of course. My take on what the editors are up to is that they are not supremely confident in a Republican victory in this historically-Republican community. For here, that's a good thing.

Big Dawg Barks

Listening to the DNC speeches last night. It was such a pleasure to see Bill on the stump again. A stirring speech.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Here's a new theory making the rounds about Valerie Plame. She was outed not just to punish Joe Wilson and/or as a shot across the bow to others who had similar stories to tell. She may have been outed to stop her from completing whatever operations she had running at the time. As a WMD expert it could have been some sort of sting involving corporate friends of the vice-president and the sale of WMD related devices and technology to the bad guys. Just a theory, however. Bloggers out there think there is going to be a break in the story soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Expanding Joe Wilson's Testimony

The sequence of events of why Joe said what he said and when he said it dovetails with the recognition by the CIA that not only had Iraq not sought uranium in Niger, it had not sought it anywhere else in Africa as well. Joe learned this and went public about his piece of the story.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

White House Helps Block Extension of Tax Cuts

They would rather have the middle-class cuts expire than sign a bill for cuts that the Demcrats liked.

The right way to cut taxes

As done by the Big Dog of course.

The key to Clinton's success, says Alice Rivlin, a Brookings Institution scholar who served as his director of management and budget, was adhering to the "pay/go" agreement first forged by President George H. W. Bush and a Democratic Congress, whereby tax cuts or entitlement increases had to be funded on a current basis. She says Clinton raised taxes at just the right time — when incomes were starting to rise after years of stagnation — leading to a surge of receipts. The result was the smallest government in terms of its percentage of GDP since Johnson, and the first substantial budget surpluses since Harry S. Truman.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Whoops, wrong country

Iran was an enabler for Al Qaida but they were ignored. By invading Iraq, Bush has shown that real terrorists have little to fear from him.


So let me get this straight. Berger screws up at the Archives last October. The Justice Department starts an investigation shortly thereafter. Eventually someone in the White House gets briefed about it recently. And it's leaked all over. Seems pretty clear who the leakers were.

Why no WMDs

My Bush apologist friend still thinks that WMDs are out there somewhere even though the source of the mobile biological warfare labs data has been completely discredited.

Halliburton's boss from hell

If Halliburton fails to recover from Dick Cheney it may be especially difficult for the White House to recover from him as well. At least he isn't the guy that's really in charge.

"Add in a recent $106 million legal judgment against the company for its involvement in a Kazakh oil deal done during Cheney's stint as CEO, along with the Pentagon's ongoing investigations into Halliburton's overbilling (investigators have recently found that Halliburton spent $11 million to house personnel at the five-star Kuwait Hilton), and it becomes clear that Halliburton may have trouble surviving Dick Cheney."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

About Those "Liberal" Ratings

"Kerry cannot possibly be considered 'the most liberal Democrat in the Senate.'

* He supported a variety of deficit reduction measures in the 1980s, which a majority of Democrats opposed.

* He supported the '100,000 cops' crime bill of 1994, which most liberal Democrats opposed.

* He supported a long series of trade expansion measures throughout the 1980s and 1990s, which most liberal Democrats opposed.

* He supported the 1996 welfare reform legislation, which roughly half of Congressional Democrats opposed.

* And he supported the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement, which many liberal Democrats opposed."

A Flawed Witness

Somersby digests what we can and can't believe about Joe Wilson.

Democrats should be quite upset with their blowhard hero, Joe Wilson. Those “rebuttals” he’s been sending out are largely overblown, misleading junk, like so much of his past year’s work. Sorry, but Wilson’s wife did play some role in his selection for the trip (not that there’s anything wrong with it). And Wilson did keep saying that Cheney must have been briefed, a thundering judgment he now says was wrong. The Committee did judge that most analysts felt his report strengthened the case about Iraq’s pursuit of uranium. And did he make bogus statements to Pincus? We don’t know, and probably never will. In his TV interviews, Blitzer and Zahn were too inept to ask him the relevant questions. For the record, Wilson’s explanations seem mighty shaky compared the account of this matter in the unanimous report.

The Arabian Candidate

The Krug channels Michael Moore for a conspiracy theory that has just as much plausibility as others on the market today.

All infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Who is John Kerry?

Thomas Oliphant knows.

This is a contemplative, serious person -- well-grounded in progressive principles -- who has the good habit of getting interested in new ideas that survive scrutiny. His work habits reveal an iron butt for grunt work, as well as considerable experience in working across party lines. A non-Bush president will have to repair considerable damage abroad and at home, complex tasks that will resist grand fixes and reward the patience and tough negotiating that are Kerry attributes. But a non-Bush president will also have to think and act big and new, and the work Kerry has already done on a range of issues should inspire confidence.

He is a sober yet imaginative person for sobering, dangerous times, but his looks and wealth conceal the steel that got him this far and often cause him to be underestimated. It was a long, strange trip, hardly befitting someone with a first-class education who married money twice.


Kerry has also shrewdly insisted -- from the beginning of his campaign -- on a requirement, as economic policy, that the budget deficit be halved within four years in order to keep the business recovery from hitting a wall of higher interest rates. It is often noted, accurately, that Kerry seeks a return to the basic ideas Bob Rubin followed for Bill Clinton in the ’90s. What the observation misses, however, is the fact that Clinton got all the way through his first campaign in 1992 decrying the economy’s stagnation and advocating stimulus. Kerry, by contrast, has stuck his neck out on fiscal sanity almost from the moment he declared. Kerry is a real Democrat in his commitment to significant new expenditures on priorities like health care, education, energy independence, child care, and additional tax breaks for the middle class and working poor. However, he is also a New Democrat in his belief that the overall context must be anti-deficit for the sake of long-term economic growth.


I think it’s important that the presidency looms on his horizon not as a codicil in some trust fund, a virtual entitlement by virtue of lucky birth. Instead, it looms at the end of a long climb up the ladder from assistant county prosecutor.

John Kerry is a good, tough man. He is curious, grounded after a public and personal life that has not always been pleasant, a fan of ideas whose practical side has usually kept him from policy wonkery, a natural progressive with the added fixation on what works that made FDR and JFK so interesting. I know it is chic to be disdainful, but the modern Democratic neurosis gets in the way of a solid case for affection. Without embarrassment, and after a very long journey, I really like this guy. As one of his top campaign officials, himself a convert since the primaries ended, told me recently, this is pure Merle Haggard. It’s not love, but it’s not bad.

Just like BC04, most of us are finding it difficult to put Kerry in a pigeon-hole. But in this case it's because there is just to much breadth and depth to hang a nice tidy little label on. And that's a good thing.

Battle over Kennewick Man appears over

Tribes have dropped legal action to recover the 9600-year-old Kennewick Man skeleton.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The convoluted Niger affair

Josh Marshall gives us more. But one angle I have yet to see explored is probably too subtle to be real. The mining and shipping of uranium is fairly hard to disguise if anyone happens to be looking. If I had a deal for some uranium that I wanted to keep under cover the smart thing to do would be to create a big diversion and then hide it in plain sight like a purloined letter. And what better diversion could there be than to create a document that lays out exactly what you are going to do but do it is such a way that it's an obvious forgery. When the document is discounted noone is going to be looking your way again.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Even Republicans and Military Members Applaud Fahrenheit 9/11

An assessment of how F 9/11 is playing with the infidels.

"Hollywood Donor" Canard

In the news and in recent talking points the Republicans have been making the noise again about how the Democratic party is so strongly supported by entertainers and the entertainment industry. But when you look at the numbers at the is no story there.

In the TV/Movie industry the giving is $10 mill to $5 mill for the Democrats.
For lawyers it's $73 mill to $35 mill for Democrats.
For labor it's $28 mill to $5 mill for Democrats
Dems ahead by $66 mill

For finance/insurance/real estate it's $107 mill to $70 for Republicans
For health it's $42 mill to $23 mill for Republicans
For construction it's $27 mill to $10 mill for Republicans
For agribusiness it's $20 mill to $8 mill for Republicans
For defense it's $6 mill to $4 mill for Republicans
For energy it's $21 mill to $7 mill for Republicans
For transportation it's $20 mill to $7 mill for Republicans
For misc business it's $64 mill to $36 mill for Republicans
Republicans in these areas ahead by $129 mill

Which nets to $63 mill ahead for the Republicans.

Sure, there's a few big donors in the entertainment industry. But they are more than offset by the big donors in other businesses. The Republicans are doing quite well in the money department and it is disingenuous for them to be whining.

In terms of the top contributors to the presidential campaigns it may seem disconcerting for educational institutions to be listed but the note to the side indicates that these are bundled contributions from individuals associated with the institution rather than from the institution itself.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The case of the missing Bush documents

It comes down to what they don't say. If he has nothing to hide, release the records. What could be in there that is more damning or embarrasing than the coverup has been?

With the exception of IRS records, all of the information needed to determine the truth about the National Guard duty of 1st Lt. Bush is contained on the microfiche in St. Louis and at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver. If the president simply authorized its release to reporters with his signature, as John McCain did with his records in 2000, we could all stop arguing about what's missing and what it all means. But Bush had better hurry with his authorization. There's no telling when someone might begin a project to "salvage" the only remaining microfiche.

Hawking resolves paradox

What a wonderful time to be living! Stephen Hawking will be presenting his findings at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland. He says that information escapes black holes after all. If true, this not only removes a major mystery of physics but also provides additional insight to quantum theory.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

16 words vindicated (maybe)

Joshua Micah Marshall digests the Butler report. Essentially it says the UK has some other source than the forgeries. The source says that the process which started in 1999 with trips to Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo finally resulted in a deal is 2002 with the Congo. Sounds like Joe Wilson was sent to the wrong country. I'm waiting to see if the hypothesized Congo deal was real.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

GE lobbyists mold tax bill

That great sucking sound you here is money (and jobs) headed overseas.

"'The bill is truly amazing,' said Michael J. McIntyre, a tax law professor at Wayne State University and an expert on international corporate tax issues. 'We had an incentive for exports that was illegal and had to be repealed. Now Congress takes the money saved by the repeal and uses it to reduce taxes on the income earned by U.S. companies in foreign countries, thereby making foreign investment more attractive than U.S. investment.'"

Monday, July 12, 2004

Wal-Mart vs. Neiman Marcus

Daniel Gross cites studies that show that Edwards' Two-America schtick is indeed very real.

It's axiomatic that rich people are likely to be more optimistic and confident than those with less money, so the raw differentials aren't that surprising. But in the past few years, the readings for all income groups have generally moved in the same direction. If the economy were undergoing a broad-based expansion, if a rising tide were lifting all boats equally, you might expect that trend to continue. But the views of the rich and poor are moving in opposite directions. The split results—the growing pessimism of the poor and the growing optimism of the rich—suggest the economy's improvement isn't helping everyone. That is bad news for a lot of Americans, but it may be good news for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Can the CIA be saved?

I like Fred Kaplan's take on how to save the CIA.

"The most important condition for good intelligence is a presidency with good leadership."

Hole-in-foot syndrome

By successfully dragging out the process, the Bush administration has succeeded in firing an embarrassing whistleblower in the Park Service. Teresa Chambers refused to disguise the fact of reduced patrols due directly to lack of homeland defense funding and was harassed by her superiors. As Timothy Noah says:

The reductions were potentially embarrassing because the Bush White House doesn't want to admit, even to itself, that it's not putting its money where its mouth is on homeland defense.

Science group warns of political interference

Here's something for the Kerry-Edwards 2005 To-Do List:

"The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a report that the administration's policies could take years to undo and in the meantime the best and the brightest would be frightened away from jobs in the National Institutes of Health and other government institutions.

The union, chaired by Dr. Kurt Gottfried, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Cornell University, said more than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel laureates, had joined the call for 'restoration of scientific integrity in federal policymaking.'"

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Sin of Wages

Steven E. Landsburg does an analysis of who pays for the minimum wage increases. He looks at it in terms of a program to transfer money to the unskilled worker.

the minimum wage places the entire burden on one small group: the employers of low-wage workers and, to some extent, their customers. Suppose you're a small entrepreneur with, say, 10 full-time minimum-wage workers. Then a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage is going to cost you about $10,000 a year. That's no different from a $10,000 tax increase. But the politicians who imposed the burden get to claim they never raised anybody's taxes.

If you want to transfer income to the working poor, there are fairer and more honest ways to do it. The Earned Icome Tax Credit, for example, accomplishes pretty much the same goals as the minimum wage but without concentrating the burden on a tiny minority. For that matter, the EITC also does a better job of helping the people you'd really want to help, as opposed to, say, middle-class teenagers working summer jobs. It's pretty hard to argue that a minimum-wage increase beats an EITC increase by any criterion.

It seems to me that we have to recognize the effects of the labor market as well. We have to expect business to be blindly amoral in its search for increased profits. We have to expect business to strive to keep its costs as low as possible. The unskilled worker is vulnerable in two ways. One, he is not as productive as a skilled worker and represents comparatively little value-added for his employer. And two, the pool of unskilled workers is probably the largest pool of workers to be in. Rather than just raising unskilled wages, it would seem to make more sense to get people out of the unskilled pool. The pool would become smaller which, at some threshold, would begin to drive up mimimum wages. And the employers would get sufficient value-added to offset the higher wages. So if we as a society are going to improve the lot of those at the lowest rungs it is in training and a living income while being trained.

The Tyranny of Design

Harry Gee points out that even scientists are prone to the kind of fallacies that leave openings for Intelligent-Design proponents. It's the diversity of design present in the natural world that points toward an evolutionary source of that design.

Cohen argues that the fallacy in the Intelligent-Design argument about the flagellar motor (or any other system), is that proponents present the motor we see as The Motor, the exemplar, the only one possible, and, what's more the best possible, surely optimized by a Designing Hand. But when Cohen searched the literature, he found that a wide variety of flagellar motors have been described, each arranged in its own way, each its own solution to effective rotary motion in the microworld. There is no such thing as The Motor, no Platonic perfection enforced on bacteria by Divine fiat. Instead we see ad hoc solutions that are not perfect, but idiosyncratic and eclectic – just what you would expect if evolution were working on its own, without a Designer.

In scientific zeal to classify things and make learning easier, the awareness of diversity is suppressed. Science must be more up-front that the classifications are more fuzzy in real life than they are in textbooks.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Gulf War II post-mortem

Fred Kaplan looks at how close we came to a military disaster. Saddam allowed us to assemble our forces in Kuwait without interference. The speed of the movement stretched supply lines almost to the breaking point but not quite. If it had taken two weeks longer it all would have ground to a halt as the needed spare parts gathered dust in a Kuwaiti warehouse. In the air there were some other lessons to be learned.

These two points are remarkable, in two ways. First, here we have a team of Army officers criticizing the attack helicopter—the Army's own weapon of air support—while gushing over the Air Force's weapon. Second, the A-10 scarcely exists anymore. The Air Force, which never wanted to build it in the first place, stopped production in the mid-1980s and would have melted them down to scrap metal had they not performed so well in the 1991 Gulf War.

The latest military budget, just passed by Congress, contains plenty of money for more attack helicopters—none for a resumption of the A-10 or something like it. Here's one place where the lessons learned from Gulf War II could be applied to great effect.

Due Process Comes to Gitmo....Finally

A Swede is turned over to Swedish authorities as the processing begins.

"Since the detention mission started about 2 1/2 years ago, only four detainees have been allowed to meet attorneys and only three have been charged. Several European detainees, including five Britons and a Dane, have been let go and several French inmates are expected to be sent home soon."

It is tragic that the administration thinks the detainment is somehow justified.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Edwards versus Bush

As pointed out by Matthew Yglesias.
"There's no way a guy with 5-plus years experience in the U.S. Senate (some of it on the intelligence committee) can be too inexperienced to be vice president while a guy who spent the exact same amount of time holding the surprisingly powerless job of governor of Texas was ready to be president.

There's another slightly indelicate point to be made here. On the trail, Edwards normally deploys his biography to establish his working-class cred. But the story of how the son of a poor millworker went to college, then to law school, then became a millionaire also indicates that, political experience aside, Edwards is a smart and successful guy. Bush, by contrast, spent his entire pre-political life loafing around, coasting on family connections, and essentially failing at everything he tried to do. Edwards, in other words, is someone equipped to actually learn from experience instead of just racking up points on his resume."

Draft Ehrenreich!

I have to echo Timothy Noah's sentiments that Barbara Ehrenreich deserves a permanent position as a NYT columnist. Here's a sample concerning a previous declaration about some leader named George.

But it is the final sentence of the declaration that deserves the closest study: "And for the support of this Declaration . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Today, those who believe that the war on terror requires the sacrifice of our liberties like to argue that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact." In a sense, however, the Declaration of Independence was precisely that.

By signing Jefferson's text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world's greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn't kidding around with his quip about hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

They signed anyway, thereby stating to the world that there is something worth more than life, and that is liberty. Thanks to their courage, we do not have to risk death to preserve the liberties they bequeathed us. All we have to do is vote.

Interesting Idea for Hydrogen Fuel

One research group has developed a safe method for storing hydrogen that uses glass spheres. The amount of hydrogen released is controlled by light intensity at a specific frequency. A rupture tank full of spheres would not release much hydrogen at all. The spheres are so small that only a powerful direct impact will shatter them. Fling them onto a hard roadway and nothing will happen.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Second Derivative

While the White House was complaining that the CIA wasn't giving them good enough evidence, the CIA was hiding the fact of how flimsy the evidence they had given actually was. This is rich.

A thread for DC

A colleague of mine has many views that counter my own. We have had a number of discussions and they have been interesting but are, of course, undocumented. One of the typical things we end up doing is disagreeing on what the fundamental facts indeed are about the topic of discussion. This often limits how far we can go on the topic of choice. Personally, I'm a person that doesn't debate very well "on my feet" and I prefer to give more thought to my words than one can typically do in a passing convensation. So I'm opening a thread here where DC and I can record our discussion in black and white in the hopes of raising their effectiveness beyond the basic he-said-she-said level. Thread is now open. First on the list is
Thomas Frank: What the Matter with Kansas?
Fahrenheit 9/11

The Granny Hypothesis

New evidence points to the possibility that what gave modern humans their evolutionary edge over other species is the survival of the elderly. They not only provided extra care for the children but their accumulated knowledge and wisdom could be passed down more effectively. The power of culture really began to have some legs.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Free Speech, Bush Style

In America?

"Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president."

So they can now carry you off in handcuffs if the message on your shirt is non-approved? This is begging for a big nasty lawsuit. What are they going to charge them with? Dress-code violation? And don't give me that "protection-of-the-president" crap. If someone wanted to harm the president don't you think that they would cover themselves in BC04 camoflauge?

No FOIA for you, nope, nope.

"The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system."

How dumb do they think the American people are? Don't answer that.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Good for Each, Bad for All

Ernest Partridge has a good article over at the Underground about the key difference between the progressive and regressive elements of our political landscape.

"Every complex game requires a referee, beholden to no 'side' but rather functioning to regulate the activity and enforce the rules, to the advantage all players in general, and none in particular. In the game of commerce, the referee is the government. For history has shown, time and again, that an unregulated free market leads to monopoly. In other words, it contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. The remedy, of course, is anti-trust legislation, which is to say, government. (See my 'The New Alchemy').

'Good for each, bad for all.' 'Bad for each, good for all.' The 'referee function' of democratic government - these are not original ideas. Quite the contrary, throughout the civilized and industrialized world, they are commonplace and virtually axiomatic, like gravity and the multiplication tables.

But not here in the United States. The free-market absolutism plus libertarian anarchism proclaimed here by the right wing and accepted with scant criticism by the corporate media, is regarded abroad as somewhat insane. Unfortunately for us all, most Americans are immersed in this insanity."

Krugman 9/11

Paul reviews Moore. Sharp as usual.
"'Fahrenheit 9/11' is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain, and the ordinary Americans who paid the price. "