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October 31, 2006

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Meanwhile, here in Virginia, the Allen campaign has takent to just beating people up. Which, yeah, Mike Stark can be a bit much, but the video is pretty clear on what happened there. Plus, you gotta love the Allen campaign's press release, whose subhead states:

Democrat Activist Verbally Attacks Allen

Allen Campaign Demands Webb Restrain Out of Control Supporter

Um . . . and James Webb has the power to restrain a guy who runs his own anti-Republican website, unaffiliated with the Webb campaign in any way, because what now?

Yet another reason to vote Democratic: to hasten the day when the heavens roll up as a scroll and the Lord descends in clouds of glory, and we shall behold the new Jerusalem, whose walls are of jasper and whose streets are of gold, and which is lightened by the glory of God, and whose light is the Lamb.

You realize that, as I'm an agnostic, you're giving me a reason to vote Republican?

Andrew: if I weren't an atheist myself, I'd be worried. (Although I have to say that I've always wanted to see the heavens roll up as a scroll, along with the hills skipping like little lambs, and the mountains like rams.)

Oh, and Andrew: guess what the nice man from FedEx brought today?

You had them FedEx'd? Wow, you are eager. I hope you'll post your impressions of them.

Nah, Amazon just does that automatically.

Ah, AmazonPrime?

Re Allen incident:

I think a good gift for the President would be a chocolate revolver. and since he is so busy, you'd probably have to run up to him real quick and give it to him.

Jack Handey

Andrew--
ot, but I must ask, have you seen this?

Jake,

Yes, dutchmarbel actually linked to it a few weeks back. Most amusing. I should have done one myself.

"...Grant just two points BEHIND Sali."

I think I'll remain at my post by the window, in case defenestration is required.

When one legislator threatens to throw another out the window, it's not immediately clear which is the idiot.

Jim Borgman has a cartoon on Schmidt.

So, umm, this is off topic, but I just had a remarkable Halloween experience.

The door bell rings and a large crowd of kids rushes for the door and I notice standing behind them, as I try to save the Almond Joys for my own self, a woman with a real PONY on a tether.

Not a Halloween PONY, you know, two guys in a tattered pony suit pulling both ways, but a living, breathing, little horse, with a saddle, right there in my front yard in the suburbs. Honest.

Off they trotted down the cul-de-sac to the next house.

I think this may be a good omen. An election omen, for all of us whom have sarcastically wishing for a PONY.

a cartoon on Schmidt.

it's a shame she's not more well-known. oh the damage she could do the the Repulican party..

Yes, that's it, Dave. They thought he was trying to shoot him. Brilliant.

And in news sure to warm the depth of hilzoy's heart, the Republicans are pulling their advertising from Crazy Curt Weldon's race.

Unfortunately for me, they are redirecting the money to other districts in the Philly suburbs, so I won't see a reduction in ads.

We'd better get this election over soon before John Cole has a stroke.

He writes, in a post entitled "This Is No Fun":

"In short, it really sucks looking around at the wreckage that is my party and realizing that the only decent thing to do is to pull the plug on them (or help). I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends - but I don't know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don't know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson's for electoral gain is approriate election-year discourse. I don't know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a "terrorist-enabler" than to swing back. I don't know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the admininstration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, presciption drugs, etc., are signs of .. liberal media bias."

My Halloween fear is that we wake up tomorrow and somebody in a scary mask will tell Cole that Democrats will raise his taxes and he will stop mid-sentence in the above paragraph and change his mind back to Republican.

On the other hand, I saw that pony.

Whoa...hold on...Democrats will raise taxes?

That's it! Back to the Pack for me.

Republicans.

Evil, maybe? Flawed, for sure.

Andrew: if we don't, it will be an act of political cowardice. Someone has to get the budget back under control, after the mess that has been made of it. Someone has to be a grownup. I devoutly hope it's us.

Just like in the 90s.

And the first 2/3 of the miniseries sure was good. And yes: Amazon Prime. When they first rolled it out, I thought: Hahahahaha, who orders enough books from Amazon to make that worthwhile?

Pause.

Gulp.

Oh, yeah, right: me.

(Did the math: having a category called 'books' in my money program turns out to come in handy. Who knew?)

hilzoy,

I suppose that splitting the difference between tax hikes and spending cuts is beyond the realm of the possible?

Andrew: In principle, I'd say yes, but in practice, the current administration seems to me not just to have spent us into an enormous hole, but also to have racked up a huge number of things that will have to be payed for. Replacing military equipment we've used up, for one, and doing right by the people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, for another.

Repealing the Bush tax cuts will do a bunch of it, but then you have to figure that the alternative minimum tax will have to be fixed if it's not to eat increasing chunks of the middle class alive. In a fair world, a revenue-neutral package consisting of fixing the AMT (which ought to count as a tax cut, technically) and other increases, so that it works out more fairly than it would if we just left the AMT alone, shouldn't count as a tax hike at all, but it will.

Democrats are not in favor of raising taxes as a general rule, any more than we are in favor of higher grocery bills or rising costs for health care. But in this particular situation, I really think they ought to do it. It will be a real acto of political courage if they do, though, and I suspect they won't do more than roll back the Bush tax cuts on (say) people making over $250,000 a year. That will be a start, but frankly it won't do more than begin to pay the bill Bush has stuck us all with.

Bear in mind as well that the Republicans have been cutting social programs all this time. We can afford to repeal the estate tax, we can afford the bridge to nowhere, we can afford to start two wars without having any clue how to pay for them, but mysteriously we can't afford to pay more for health care for the destitute.

They have been looting the country. Someone, as I said, has to be the grownups. It will be us again (though as I said, I don't think we'll grow all the way up.)

The good news for you, though, is that for the second time in a row, we'll have to put most of the stuff we want on hold while we try to get the country back on a sound fiscal footing. Which means that you have less to fear from us than you might think.

And Andrew: for the record, I think that if the Democrats do raise taxes to bring down the deficit (this caveat meant to explicitly exclude raising taxes for big new spending), everyone should have their backs. They will take a tremendous amount of heat for it. If they do it, they will not be doing it for the sake of their own political advantage; they'll be doing it because it's the right thing.

hilzoy,

I certainly hope that you're right. As you may have noted over at my place, I have various hopes for the Democrats, assuming they win. But I'd by lying if I said they were high hopes.

One thing thats in the bag for the Dems is that they have got control of the media, even WGN radio, which explained on the news that analysis about John Kerry's comments about our soldiers in Iraq was mean, politically motivated attacks against Democrats, yet they didn't provide audio of what Kerry actually said. You know. so that people can make up their minds for themselves.

Hmmph. Vote for Democrats, so that they can finally shut down the press and free speech.

One thing thats in the bag for the Dems is that they have got control of the media,

Awwwww... so adorable...

DaveC, don't worry. Even the BBC is running with the idiotic misrepresentation of the Kerry quote. It's possible this story is even stupider than the Dean scream story.

Bush has once again taken a criticism of him and pretended it was a criticism of the troops, and the media has fallen in line. TBogg wrote about it when Bush used the same hide-behind-the-troops tactic before the 2004 election.

Even the BBC is running with the idiotic misrepresentation of the Kerry quote.

You know, I heard it over the air, raw, without any preceding commentary, and the first thing that came into my head was: what a jackass.

The second thing was something like: but this is just exactly the kind of thing I'd expect Kerry to say, so why get upset about it?

So I filed it in the "unwise comments" bin, and promptly forgot about it.

One thing thats in the bag for the Dems is that they have got control of the media,

Don't stop believin', hold on to that feelin'! Streetlight people, whoa-oh-ooooooooh!

PS: Um, no.

U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria

Exactly how does he think missionaries would effectively “work” in any of those places? In Iran or Syria they would be locked up or escorted to the border if they were really lucky. In Iraq…

And the first 2/3 of the miniseries sure was good.

BSG?

One thing thats in the bag for the Dems is that they have got control of the media,

Yes, all day yesterday on cable news it was a non-stop replay of Sen. Allen's reporters tackling a constituent for asking a question, and nary a peep about Sen Kerry's muffed joke.

And I do love the headline on the Washington Post's story about the Allen incident "Democratic Activist Claims Abuse by Allen's Staffers." And the first paragraph, "A Democratic activist who verbally confronted U.S. Sen. George Allen at a campaign rally in Charlottesville yesterday was shoved, put into a headlock and thrown against a window by three men wearing Allen stickers, according to a widely disseminated video of the incident."

Cause, gosh, the video might have been lying.

Andrew: I don't have high hopes either, but I do think it will take us some time to ramp up to the level of corruption of the present GOP. That requires not just the will to be corrupt, and the relevant machinery (which I don't think we have, having been systematically locked out of lobbying under DeLay), but also the sense of being able to do literally anything and get away with it. I think that even under the worst assumptions about the Democrats, these will take a while to develop. Last time, it took 40 years or so.

Cuts: I imagine we'll fix the prescription drug benefit in ways that will save money, though probably some of that will be spent eliminating the donut hole, which is a good thing. The pure pork doesn't add up to a lot, but it will probably be cut back a lot (not b/c Democrats are necessarily more virtuous, but because, as I said, it takes a while to arrive at a sense of complete impunity.)

One of the many casualties of the Democrats' being mau-maued on national security is that we will probably not be able to tackle defense appropriations. My sense, looking at it from the outside, is that if some imaginary person with a deep commitment to our national defense and no commitment to any specific manufacturer or program were given control of the defense budget, that person would find a lot of spending that was ripe for cutting. But if that imaginary person were a real politician, s/he would have to be able to withstand some pretty serious and sustained accusations that s/he was doing irreparable harm to our national security, and would have to have the confidence to proceed regardless. (One of the many things I liked about Clark was that he would have been better able than most to do this, and presumably knew where some of the bodies were buried.) But the number of Democrats who could or would do this, in the present environment, is minute.

I think there's a bunch of spending that can be cut, and some of it will, but frankly I think that between the unfunded liabilities we've been stuck with and the huge deficits and debt, there are going to have to be tax increases.

My nightmare is that the Democrats will not have the guts to do this. We really, really need to get the deficit under control. But if they do do it, they will be savaged for it. Thus, we need to have their back. Not that I think I can make a big difference, but every little bit helps. I hope.

Cause, gosh, the video might have been lying.

i hear George Soros has quite a sophisticated video production facility in his basement. i'm not saying he made the tape, of course. just saying, he could have. think about it.

My sense, looking at it from the outside, is that if some imaginary person with a deep commitment to our national defense and no commitment to any specific manufacturer or program were given control of the defense budget, that person would find a lot of spending that was ripe for cutting.

i always think of that scene in Dave, when Dave gets into the conference room and starts throwing out spending bills left and right. all the cabinet members are like "no way! he can't do that! [montage] wow, he's a genius!"

hilzoy,

Rest assured, if the Democrats start cutting spending, I'll trumpet their virtues to the heavens. I'm not even picky about what spending they cut, as long as they cut.

I'll trumpet their virtues to the heavens

Wait...I thought you were agnostic. Or, possibly, you're thinking of getting some time on a radio telescope, somewhere?

One thing thats in the bag for [] is that they have got control of the media, even [] radio, which explained on the news that analysis about [] comments about [] was mean, politically motivated attacks against [], yet they didn't provide audio of what []actually said. You know. so that people can make up their minds for themselves.

Hmmph. Vote for [], so that they can finally shut down the press and free speech.

Interesting comment from DaveC: notice what we are left with when specific partisan references are redacted out. Just change the party labels, and what's left is pretty much the standard media-is-biased against-us rant which wouldn't look out of place on dKos or Eschaton: and usually does appear around election time. A victory for bipartisanship?

Slart,

If a political party starts acting in the best interests of the country, I'll become a believer in a New York minute.

And Speaking Of Asylums...

Bizarro/Kafka World has gone all Kerry all the time, replaying the 2004 election. The latest includes this gem "The reason that [Kerry's] comments have set off this firestorm is because just about everyone knows they accurately represent the modern Democrat party"

Hmmph. Vote for Democrats, so that they can finally shut down the press and free speech.

Press freedom... wait, they actually measure that. Let's see how the conservative USA government has influenced that:
2002 - 17th place. That leaves some room for improvement, but that might be the last remnaints of the Clinton admin still having an impact.
2006 - 53d place, together with Croatia, Botswana and Tonga. Gosh, yeah, good thing the democrats didn't have control.

"Republicans. Evil, maybe?"

Well, some believe they're stupid, and some that they're evil.

All this extremism is divisive.
Why can't we all get along, people?

We need a centrist consensus: they're stupid *and* evil.

dutch,

I'm not sure I'd put too much stock in that system of measurement.

The reason that [Kerry's] comments have set off this firestorm is because just about everyone knows they accurately represent the modern Democrat party

and, of course, the name of the post is "the never ending smear".

how can they be so blind to irony ?

how can they be so blind to irony ?

sounds vaguely french?
has more than two syllables?
in Bizarro World it means the opposite?
don't know what metallic elements have to do with anything?
shameless Republican party hacks?

They all use permanent press?

Andrew: I don't use it as an absolute measurement, but I do see it as an indication of how things stand - or fall.
Be aware that they explicitely say that it is NOT a reflection of the quality of the press, just how pressure-free it is (they are?).

The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

Read the justifications, the comments. Again, there is no absolute measurement, but imho it on the whole is a good indication of wether good reporting is easy or not in a country.

Does it help that France has fallen 24 places too :) ?

dutch,

To answer your second question first, I love France. It's a beautiful country and the time I spent there I enjoyed greatly, both in terms of the people and places. My French isn't what it once was, unfortunately, but I hope to get back there sometime in the next few years. So I'm not big on French-bashing, although I'll concede that I do occasionally get a chuckle out of some of the comments.

To your first, I did read the justifications. I'm not dismissing the study because it says what I don't want to hear. I'm dismissing it because the justifications don't add up. What pressure, precisely, have the media been placed under? The only reporters I'm aware to have faced prison terms were the ones involved with the Valerie Plame silliness, which was driven almost entirely by...the media. I am more impressed by their concerns about journalists overseas, but I'm still skeptical that the American press is really less free than some of the nations listed above it.

good reporting should be fair reporting - good is more a quality label. Our press is very free but I'm not often impressed by the quality of their reporting :)

dutch,

Fair is a relative term. Who gets to decide what's 'fair'?

I don't follow all the US media Andrew, but wasn't there something about the NYT publishing things about the telephone tap program and getting a lot of heat for that? There was the bloke who had to resign because he had said (on a closed forum) that journalists were killed in abundance in Iraq (not exactly that, but I have to eat so I don't have time to google). There were quite a few stories about things not being published, or publised later, or just being published in spite of pressure from the government.

Andrew: "the Valerie Plame silliness, which was driven almost entirely by...the media"

??

Personally, I thought that exposing a CIA agent for political reasons was a very big deal. And Armitage or no Armitage, Rove did that.

It seems to me that if someone has decided to work as a CIA operative on non-official cover, then the least our government can do is not blow that cover. That's important, I would have thought, not just for the agent herself, but for the message it sends to other NOCs, who have only the government's word that their covers won't be blown, and people who know them exposed to serious risks, for any reason, let alone a purely political one.

RE: Plame, according to the recent book "Hubris" by Isikoff, the Ex Dir at the time of her outing was furious and personally called her to tell her that the whole building (langley) was behind her and that if there was anything he could do she should let him know.

Hmmm...from what I've seen, it's highly questionable whether Plame was NOC. She may once have been NOC, but I don't think that's been shown to have been the case.

Regardless, Rove's not currently on the hot seat for this. What that means in terms of Rove's culpability, I have no idea. And the way things are going, it looks as if Libby will walk.

To me, if I were Fitzgerald and had anything at all resembling the confidence that you, hilzoy, seem to hold that Rove broke the law, I'd think it would be pretty clear what to do. Fitz hasn't done it. And yes, sure, game not over yet.

Slarti: the law is not my concern. The morality of exposing someone who accepted a dangerous job is, bearing in mind that her exposure compromises people she worked with in the past. We owe them, and we should not expose them for any reason, let alone for pure politics. Especially since, as I said, this can harm our ability to give credible assurances to other people in the future, and it can harm other agents' ability to give credible assurances to the people they get information from.

I thought it was clear that she had been a NOC, and that the only question was whether she was still under cover, and if so in what way. I should add that I think it's the responsibility of anyone who even thinks about disclosing the identity of someone who might be undercover to make sure that that person isn't undercover any more, rather than just exposing them and hoping for the best.

I live in SW Ohio, but not in Jean Schmidt's district. I've heard enough about her antics to think she is quite awful as a representative. Given the acidic rainfall and the Madrid fault, Ohio probably isn't a very good place for a dump, but still, I have to give her courage (if not intelligence) for bringing the topic of nuclear waste up. Her proposal, after all, was just to study the issue. That she has gotten so demagogued is IMO unfair. But then what goes around comes around.

hilzoy,

The furor to 'get someone' was driven by the press. I concur that Plame's outing was inappropriate, but it seems clear that it wasn't criminal. But because the media was eager for scalps, they pushed and Fitzgerald obliged by trying to find the leaker by, surprise, asking the reporters who'd received the leaks. Of course, since it apparently wasn't criminal, he was wrong to do so, but special prosecutors rarely like to conclude that their job doesn't require them to indict somebody.

RE: Plame's status, the same book also notes that while the Agency was horrified what happened to her but they not necessarily concerned for her safety, but extremely concerned on the impact on her contacts, as well as the front company she worked for (this also from the Executive Director at the time, IIRC; also some interesting thoughts in that book on how loyal Tenet was to Bush, beyond a "professional" relationship, apparently).

The furor to 'get someone' was driven by the press.

I don't know, I think the Agency had a fair bit to do with this.

Every impression that I have had of Fitzgerald is of someone who isn't going on a witchhunt, so attributing some sort of 'well, he's a special prosecutor, so he has to indict people' is rather unfair. This is a rather cynical viewing of human nature, and seems imo to be more of a plot device to convince oneself to remain on the right.

lj,

You're free to believe what you wish, although I do find it rather amusing that your attribute it to this silliness: "a plot device to convince oneself to remain on the right" when, if memory serves, there were several special prosecutors during a previous administration who searched far and wide for something to pin on their targets. Or perhaps that slipped your mind?

A lot of it is just human nature. You hire someone to find wrongdoing, they're likely to find it. Ask hilzoy: tell grad students to monitor a class because you think they'll find X, and sure as you're born, they'll find X.

but it seems clear that it wasn't criminal

no, it seems clear that Fitz couldn't prove anything was criminal. people doing things like "obstructing justice" might have had something to do with that.

cleek,

I'll reserve judgement until the final report is released. Nonetheless, I think that the idea the press wasn't baying like wolves for this investigation is ridiculous. The New York Times, in particular, pushed for the investigation right up until they realized their own reporter was caught up in it.

I'll reserve judgement until the final report is released

wait, didn't you just tell us "it seems clear that it wasn't criminal" ?

The New York Times, in particular, pushed for the investigation right up until they realized their own reporter was caught up in it.

not sure what you mean by that... it seems like any company would step lightly around a federal investigation, after it turns out one of it's employees is involved.

No, nothing has slipped my mind. What I find amusing is that you believe that special prosecutors will always get their man, (you might want to google Cisneros + special prosecutor). This seems like a 'pox on both your houses' that is so often comes up when people get uncomfortable with what the side that they feel closest to gets the heat. If you want to claim that Fitzgerald is the same as a random college student because they are both featherless bipeds, that's your lookout, but it seems that you have often complained about precisely this sort of reasoning when it is applied to you.

I should add that I think it's the responsibility of anyone who even thinks about disclosing the identity of someone who might be undercover to make sure that that person isn't undercover any more, rather than just exposing them and hoping for the best.

And even if they aren't, to make doubly sure that no valuable overseas intelligence contacts will be risked or compromised via the exposure.

cleek,

hilzoy pointed out something I hadn't considered, so I changed my position. Surely that is one reason we have these discussions, is it not?

hilzoy pointed out something I hadn't considered, so I changed my position. Surely that is one reason we have these discussions, is it not?

of course. though it happens so infrequently, it's easy to miss.

and since hilzoy hasn't post anything since we've been doing our little sub-thread here, i didn't pick up on the info that changed your mind...

nonetheless... off to eat turkey. it's a T-Giving Preview dinner, at the Cleek's.

"I'll reserve judgement until the final report is released."

There isn't going to be one.

Fitzgerald is a Special Prosecutor, not an Independent Counsel: the rules are different. He actually couldn't release a "final report" even if he wanted to. The only end results he's empowered to come up with are indictments - and he only asked for indictments on charges he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The only way we might learn more details if is they come out during Libby's trial.

cleek: hilzoy was off at the World's Worst Seminar. Now, much to my relief, I am back. I amused the people sitting next to me by drawing an elaborate version of Much's The Scream on the back of the handout.

I amused the people sitting next to me by drawing an elaborate version of Much's The Scream on the back of the handout.

save it!

i collected all the doodles and scribblings i did at my last job, scanned them, arranged them just-so, then went to CafePress and made a mouse pad out of them. now, every time i look at my right hand, i get to relive so many fantastic meetings and presentations...

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