Politics: April 2006 Archives


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I still don't get why so many people are upset at the Katrina response.

Sure, people were uncomfortable for a few days in the Superdome. But what matters most? They were safe and dry, and after a few days, they were taken care of. And in the meantime, thousands of lives were saved by federal, state, and local officials away from the Superdome.

Obviously, the response was not perfect. The Superdome evacuation could have happened sooner, or better management and supply of the facility could have been executed. But I don't see how this merits a condemnation of the entire enterprise.

Further, and more disturbing, I see an effort among most people in and out of government to encourage the government to take steps to, next time, make sure that all the millions of people affected by potential disasters are taken care of by the government. This could not be more wrong-headed.

People must plan to take care of themselves. That's the real lesson of Katrina. People need to have medicines, diapers, bottled water, food, and so on stocked up in case of emergency. This is not an option, this is an obligation to your family, at the very least, and to the rest of society who will be providing those things to you if you didn't plan ahead to provide them to yourself.

Maybe that's why I don't see the response as negatively as so many other people did. I don't see it as the government's obligation to provide these basic needs for several days to people who could have planned ahead to provide them for themselves. Obviously, no matter how you plan, you might end up in a situation where it does no good: maybe you were away from home when the disaster struck, maybe you had no means to transport your provisions when you evacuated, and so on. But that surely does not account for the lack of provisions among the overwhelming majority of people in the Superdome.

It's not that I don't feel sorry for them; I do. It's not that I think we should not have helped them, and helped them sooner; I do. But I don't blame government for them being in that predicament in the first place.



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There has not been one immigration proposal that amounts to amnesty.

If you call any of these plans amnesty, you are wrong.

Amnesty is forgiveness and forgetness of an offense. All the proposals call for penalties for illegal immigrants. Therefore, the plans are not amnesty. This is not complicated.

We don't say jaywalkers get amnesty just because we let them go free after paying their fine. We punished them, and it goes on their record, and it is not amnesty. Same too with all of these immigration proposals.

You may disagree that the punishment is severe enough, but that doesn't mean it is amnesty: as long as there is a penalty, then it is not amnesty. You may also disagree that there should be a path to citizenship, but that concept is orthogonal to whether or not there is amnesty.

If we sent you to jail for 10 years for being here illegally, and then upon being released and paying your debt, allowed you to apply for a Green Card like anyone else, and eventually to become a naturalized citizen, would that be "amnesty"? Of course not, because you paid the price for your crime, and it was a severe one, and upon paying that price, you were allowed to do things anyone else was doing. The concepts of amnesty and a path to citizenship are, again, orthogonal.

Update: Also, I was told today that the McCain-Kennedy "amnesty" plan (which is not an amnesty plan) does not limit the number of "guest workers." That's not true. It limits it to 400,000 annually for H-5A visas, and to who has been already here and working for the H-5B visas. So the limit is ( (illegals here and working) + 400,000 ). slashdot.org

Drumheller Summary

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I just want to sum up the craziness of this 60 Minutes story. I've posted a bit about it today and it's been disjointed and confusing.
  1. Drumheller says Bush should have listened to Tenet in the fall of 2002 when Tenet told Bush that a high-level Iraqi official told us Iraq had no WMD. Drumheller uses this to support his statement that this was failed policy, not intelligence. However, Drumheller and reporter Ed Bradley do not mention the fact that Tenet told Bush in January 2003 that the WMD case was a "slam dunk," and was pushing hard for that case in January and February.
  2. Drumheller says that in the fall of 2002, he was told, "This isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change," even though Bush said it was about regime change in the summer of 2002.
  3. Bradley spends most of the story saying that the intelligence based on forged documents was flawed, which we already knew.
    1. Bradley and Drumheller incorrectly state that the intelligence based on the forged documents made its way into the State of the Union.
    2. Drumheller attempts to explain this by saying, essentially, "yes, Bush and the British claim it was based on separate intelligence, but I don't believe them." He offers no evidence or reason for this, and, indeed, has none.
    3. Bradley does not mention the fact an in-depth investigation with the explicit purpose of showing where the intelligence went wrong -- resulting in the Butler Report -- has backed up the British claim, instead only mentioning in passing that the British still maintain the intelligence is accurate.
  4. Bradley states that on July 8, Scooter Libby did not reveal to reporters that the White House had been warned to not use the Niger uranium claim.
    1. We have no reason to think he could possibly know that, as Libby isn't talking, and there's no evidence Miller said so, and there's been talk that maybe Libby talked to other reporters on that day.
    2. News reports were already coming out on July 9 about these warnings, including some from "senior Bush adminisration officials," so there's no reason to think this is in any way relevant, even if true.
    3. The White House had notified the entire public about these warnings on July 18, rendering the whole point moot anyway.
There are other minor errors in the article, but these are the big ones I found. Am I missing anything? Is anything unclear? I want to interview Ed Bradley. I'd ask him:
  • If Bush should have listened to Tenet in the fall of 2002, should he have ignored Tenet in January 2003?
  • Do you have any evidence at all that the British intelligence is false?
  • Have you read the Butler Report?
    • Have you heard of the Butler Report?
  • Why do you think we should care about what one guy says he "thinks" (conceding he doesn't know) as opposed to what many other people say they know?
    • It's because they are British, isn't it?
  • How do you know Libby didn't tell reporters about the warnings?
    • If he asked the reporters Libby talked to:
      • What, exactly, did they say to support your claim?
      • How do you know he talked to no other reporters?
    • If he meant not on that day specifically, but just in general, in the release of the NIE:
      • Have you read the NIE on Iraq?
      • Really?
      • So how did you miss the last sentence of it?
  • Since we know that the White House did tell everyone that they had been warned about the uranium claims, of what significance is Libby's alleged omission, anyway?

Compare and Contrast

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CBS News, this week: What Scooter Libby didn't tell reporters (on July 8, 2003) is that the White House had been warned before the State of the Union speech not to use the Niger uranium claim.

This appears to be implying that this was a secret of some sort, that this was information reporters should have been told, that the White House was keeping it a secret, despite that we know the fact that the White House was warned was in the NIE excerpts given to reporters on July 18, and as we have no transcripts of any conversations on July 8, we can't know he didn't tell that to Miller or other reporters.

But this isn't new to CBS News, as they noted on July 10, 2003: Senior administration officials tell CBS News the President's mistaken claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was included in his State of the Union address -- despite objections from the CIA.

Ignoring the fact that the White House never said the claim was mistaken, and also that the dash there is out of place, it's worthy of note that if this was such a big deal that Libby didn't tell anyone this information when he "leaked" on July 8 -- as if CBS News could possibly know that he did not -- why is it not worthy of note that someone else from the Bush administration leaked it the next day? Or that the White House itself released that information the following week?

Probably because Ed Bradley is just a terrible reporter. slashdot.org

Ha, Another CBS Lie I Missed

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One day after Wilson's piece appeared, the White House acknowledged the president should not have used the uranium claim. But according to newly released court records, the vice president's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, leaked classified intelligence to reporters a day later in an effort to bolster the uranium story. What Scooter Libby didn't tell reporters is that the White House had been warned before the State of the Union speech not to use the Niger uranium claim.
Hey Ed Bradley, what part of the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious do you not understand?

And of course, we also know Libby did not leak classified intelligence, as it was declassified.

I didn't read the entire 60 Minutes/CBS story about Drumheller that I mentioned in the last entry. Much of the story was about the uranium claim, the forgeries, and the State of the Union. It was directly implied that the State of the Union "16 words" were based on the forgeries:

When the documents arrived in Washington, State Department analysts quickly concluded they were suspect. One analyst wrote in an e-mail: "you'll note that it bears a funky Emb. of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess)."

The Washington Post recently reported that in early January 2003, the National Intelligence Council, which oversees all U.S. intelligence agencies, did a final assessment of the uranium rumor and submitted a report to the White House. Their conclusion: The story was baseless. That might have been the end of the Niger uranium story.

But it wasn't. Just weeks later, the president laid out his reasons for going to war in the State of the Union Address -- and there it was again.
But as astute readers, people who can think, and others who read my journal know, this is false. Ed Bradley shows how clueless he is both there, and here:

"So, let me see if I have it correctly. The United States gets a report that Saddam is trying to buy uranium from Africa. But you and many others in our intelligence community quickly knock it down. And then the uranium story is removed from the speech that the President is to give in Cincinnati. Because the head of the CIA, George Tenet, doesn't believe in it?" Bradley asked.

"Right," Drumheller appeared. [sic]

It then appeared in the State of the Union address as a British report.
Again, false. A lie. What was in the State of the Union was different. Oh, but Drumheller doesn't think they are different:

Drumheller, who oversaw intelligence operations for the CIA in Europe doubts the British had something the U.S. didn't. "No. I don't think they did," he says.
Oh, you don't THINK they did. And you would know better than the Butler Report, which was privy to this intelligence you doesn't think exists, which claims that the British intelligence was both separate from the forgeries, and even predated the forgeries? So now you are saying the British government is lying?

I suppose that is possible, but I need more than "I don't think they did" from someone who wouldn't actually know, in order to believe that.

Incredible. And people think 60 Minutes and CBS are not politically biased? Maybe they are not. Maybe they are just incredibly incompetent, that after more than three years they can still continue to get this story wrong.

Look at all the crazy responses to this article about how Iraq's foreign minister told the U.S., before the invasion, that Iraq had no WMD.

The proper response to this revelation is: Why should Bush have believed this information? And how do we even properly evaluate that question?

Instead, the responses are: Ha! We knew it all along! This is the stuff of legends!

But, it's not. We already knew Bush had conflicting information. This is not news. This does not tell us whether this information had more credibility than the other information Bush had.

So, in 2002, Tenet told Bush the Iraqi foreign minister said Iraq had no WMD. But, in 2003, Tenet told Bush the WMD case was a "slam dunk." What would you have believed, if you were in Bush's shoes? And be honest. I personally did not believe the WMD evidence, so it's not like I am saying there's only one answer, and that Bush offered the right one.

If Bush had gone the other way around, and believed the foreign minister and not Tenet's conclusions, and we did not invade, and later it was found Iraq did have WMD, and used them against Israel or our troops in Saudi Arabia, the slogan today of the Democratic party would be "slam dunk!," implying that Bush ignored warnings from the CIA. And when Tenet resigned after many years of service, the Democrats would be telling us he was forced out because he was right and Bush was wrong.

And you all know that's true, so don't even bother denying it.

I am not trying to pass the buck to Tenet. Bush made the decision to invade, he believed the intelligence, and the intelligence, by most indications, was wrong. That is his responsibility. But to imply from this that Bush lied, that he knew there were no WMD, is nonsense. A clear view of all the facts shows that Bush had doubts, but that he went with what the preponderence of the evidence, and his primary advisors and closest allies, presented to him. slashdot.org

This Is What I'm Saying

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On This Week, John Kerry rewrites history:

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was eloquent and forceful in always talking about how we needed to end this endless declassification that takes place in this city, and it has become a tool to hide the truth from Americans.
No, Senator Moynihan was always talking about how we needed to end this endless classification that takes place.

Maybe Kerry misspoke, and meant "classification." But this is the conundrum the Democrats find themselves in: they have been railing for decades about how too much information is classified, and now they are railing about how releasing some information -- which at the time it was released to the public, they welcomed -- was somehow the wrong thing.

So now Harman is reduced to saying, well, it was wrong to declassify it and release it only to one reporter, because it is unprecedented, even though 10 days later everyone had access; I suppose she means that all reporters, and therefore the entire public, should have access to all declassified information simultaneously. Or maybe the same day? If the same day is OK, why not the same week? If a week is OK, what's wrong with a week and a half? For what temporal values is the action "unprecedented", and therefore not acceptable?

In all of this confusion, it's easy to see why they can't keep their story straight, about whether they are against classification, or declassification. And I don't think the American people are any more clear about it than they are. slashdot.org


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From Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: Congresswoman Harman, let's change subjects. I want to talk to you about leaks, because the CIA dismissed a senior officer this week, apparently reportedly a veteran named Mary McCarthy, for leaking classified information to reporters including material about secret U.S. prisons overseas for terror suspects.

Congresswoman, after it came out that the president had authorized the disclosure, partial disclosure, of the National Intelligence Estimate about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, you had the following to say, and let's put it up on the screen. "The president is revealed as the Leaker in Chief."

Congresswoman, do you really see any comparison between these two actions?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): You bet I do. I don't know this woman, and I do not condone leaks of classified information. However, while leaks are wrong, I think it is totally wrong for our president, in secret, to selectively declassify certain information and empower people in his White House to leak it to favored reporters so that they can discredit political enemies.

That is wrong. That is unprecedented. I've never, ever heard about that happening in another administration, and it's a double standard.

WALLACE: But, Congresswoman Harman, isn't there a big difference? She was breaking the law. He wasn't.

HARMAN: Well, he wasn't breaking the law because the president claims to have power that no one else has. And he should be reminded that the Constitution starts with Article I, not Article II.

The inherent powers of the presidency are not unlimited. He's been ignoring Congress. He's been refusing to brief the full Intelligence Committees on the NSA program. I think that's a violation of law.

Presumably he's doing that because he's afraid we will leak, and yet he and his administration are the ones who leak selectively. And so I am not condoning what this woman allegedly did in the CIA. Of course, I'm not condoning that. But I think having a double standard is absolutely wrong.
It goes on, and on.

First: it is not unprecedented, and you damned well know it. And even if it were, so what? How is it actually wrong, apart from being "unprecedented"?

Second: it is not a double standard. In one, you are legally declassifying out-of-date information about a past action in order to provide support for U.S. policy to the general public, and in the other you are illegally releasing classified information about a future action in order to undermine U.S. policy at home and abroad.

To say these are the same thing is equivocative nonsense.

Third: to bring in the NSA program in this context is to intentionally distort the issue. In the case of declassifying this information, Bush actually did have that legal authority. Period. Bush can declassify that information. End of story.

What Bush did clearly was not wrong, there clearly is no double standard, and there is no question that this authority belongs solely and entirely to the President.

Harman and the Democrats won't let this go, though, because they think they can really convince the voters that Bush did something wrong. That is, the Democrats are putting into action the aphorism about not going broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Also, there's no transcript for this, but pundit Juan Williams on the same show said what the CIA officer did in leaking the Iran information was justifiable. He saw no problem with it. The other pundits, and the host, were, of course, shocked by this, as most of the viewers surely were (said Wallace: "send your cards and letters to Juan Williams, C/O Fox News Sunday ...").

There is no justification for what she did. Even if this is a terrible policy that endangers America, in your view, it's a policy that our elected representatives knew about it, and they can work to bring it to light if it should be brought to light. There's no excuse for undermining the Presidency, the Congress, and the Constitution by releasing it.

We know her real motivation, anyway: she is close friends with many anti-Bush former CIA officers, and a significant contributor to the Democrats. Her reason was obviously political, not merely about policy. slashdot.org

Digg, Slashdot, and Publius

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Digg is a Democracy, Slashdot is a Republic.

The analogy is imperfect, of course: for example, no one elects Slashdot's editors. But it's pretty close. This Federalist article is about controlling "faction:"

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
Madison goes on to say that obviously, you cannot remove liberty or give everyone the same opinion. So therefore you must look into controlling its effects:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
Not that I am foretelling Digg's death, violent or otherwise ...

Then Madison goes on to say how a small group of citizens charged with providing for the rights and interests of everyone is more effective, and scales better, and so on. Madison never claims this is a perfect system, but just that it is far better. I tend to agree. slashdot.org

Reason Why I Dislike Fox News

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I like some of the programs and people on Fox News, especially Brit Hume's Special Report and Fox News Sunday.

But I dislike most of Fox News, and this story is a great example of why.

On The Big Story With John Gibson, they show a poll taken April 18-19, 2006. According to the graphic, the poll asks: "The U.S. should have" either "Right to restrict immigration," or "Open, unrestricted borders."

Of course, the poll finds overwhelmingly for the first option 91 percent to seven percent: it's only extremists in any country who thinks that a country should not have the right to restrict its borders. Frankly, I am surprised it was seven percent who disagreed, and I'll chalk it up to confusion over what "open borders" means in light of the recent immigration debate.

So the question is stupid and useless. We will never have open borders, not in our lifetimes. But then the graphic on the next screen is incredible. It says, "FOX POLL: 91%, U.S. SHOULD RESTRICT IMMIGRATION."

But that's false. Ninety-one percent said the U.S. should have the right to restrict immigration, not that it should do so.

Every news outlet does this sort of sloppy work. For example, I remember way back in 1998 there was a CNN story about a poll they did that claimed Bush and Gore were the frontrunners for the 2000 election. I looked at the actual poll: the very first question asked who you would vote for between Bush and Gore. Gee, you think that might have skewed the results when they later asked "which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Democratic nomination for president?"

That was obviously a really bad poll. But the idea wasn't terrible, and the article about it was accurate (modulo the fact that it did not note that the poll was skewed). Here, however, the whole idea of the Fox poll is wrong-headed, and the reporting about it misrepresents what the poll actually says.

And that happens on Fox News a lot. They'll quote someone saying something they didn't, they'll misrepresent a poll or press release, and so on.

Politics and bias completely aside, I simply dislike Fox News because it is generally poor journalism. slashdot.org

Taxing Churches

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Said Howard Dean in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor: "The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics."

What part of "Congress shall make no law" do you not understand? slashdot.org

Physics of the Jedi Mind Trick

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Democratic strategist Kathy Allen said on local political talk show Up Front, of Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate Aaron Dixon:

You have to be credible. You have to not be an embarrassment. If you're an embarrassment as a Green member, you're not going to get any votes of the Greens.
Can Jedi Mind Tricks work over television? Maybe digital TV, but not analog, as the signal becomes too lossy?

The fact is Greens vote in strong numbers for their candidate whenever the Democratic candidate is simply unpalatable to them. And since Maria Cantwell voted for and supported the war in Iraq, Dixon will likely get a lot of votes in Washington.

Her next sentence, though, was hilarious: The Greens, if anything, won't vote. That's just as bad for Cantwell, of course ... slashdot.org
From Reliable Sources last weekend:

HOWARD KURTZ: There's varying estimates on that, but the president called these reports ... wild speculation, and I'm thinking, OK, so it's OK for President Bush to authorize leaks of classified information about Iraq as he did in 2003, according to Scooter Libby. But it's somehow unfair for other people to leak information about Iran? I mean, it's not like we're...

JONAH GOLDBERG *: Well, there's a huge different standard. The president of the United States is constitutionally empowered as the person charged with being able to declassify...

KURTZ: That's a legal argument. I'm asking about the political question. How can the administration complain about these leaks, when they selectively play this game themselves?

GOLDBERG: I don't understand -- I mean, I really don't understand how you can be confused about it. It seems to me that ...

KURTZ: I'm not confused.

GOLDBERG: ... the president of the United States, he's the one who gets to determine whether or not the people have a right to know something in terms of ...

KURTZ: So it's OK when he does it?

GOLDBERG: I don't... yeah.

KURTZ: And if somebody else in the Pentagon leaks information, it's not OK, because they're not the president. They don't have the legal authority.

GOLDBERG: I think that's -- well, not only the legal authority, it's not their job. It's not a general's job to be leaking classified information to influence public policy. It isn't.

JOHN ARAVOSIS: It's Richard Nixon all over again. As long as the president does it, it's OK. You know, l'etat, c'est moi. We don't want to go too French here, but you know, it's -- what you've got is just that. The president has decided when he wants to leak stuff -- and I would argue that it may be legal for the president to leak things, but good God! Do we really want George Bush being the one deciding what classified information will and won't hurt national security?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. That's why he won an election. That's (inaudible). You want the Supreme Court deciding it?

ARAVOSIS: Sixty-six percent of the American people are not too happy right now with this president, and I don't think we want him deciding personally what ...

GOLDBERG: Oh, so we should have a plebicitory system where...


ARAVOSIS: What we're talking about, Jonah, is right and wrong and not legalities. Legalities is what...

GOLDBERG: But that's absurd!

ARAVOSIS: Legalities is what got Bill Clinton in trouble.
This is so incredibly muddled. Kurtz is trying to say Bush is a hypocrite because, apart from the legalities, it's the same thing. The problem is that Bush was opposed to "leaks" of classified information because it was illegal, because Bush ordered them not to do it without authorization. Bush never ordered himself to not do it, it was not illegal, and he had/gave authorization. They are two completely different things. The only reason the comparison of the two is a "political question" is because people misunderstand what Bush said or meant when he condemned "leaks."

So to answer his question directly: yes, it is OK when Bush does it. Of course it is. Why should anyone have a problem with that? This is one of his powers, like authorizing the use of force: if he told his generals not to authorize the use of force, does that mean Bush himself does not retain the right to do so? Of course not.

Saying this is "Richard Nixon all over again" exposes the author of AmericaBlog.com as a moron. What Nixon did was violate the law and then justify it on the grounds that he was President. You could (though it would be hard to do it convincingly to me) say that Bush's authorization of the NSA wiretapping program is similar to what Nixon did in that regard, but there is no rational way to compare the "leak" of the Iraq NIE to what Nixon did.

Again: there was no "leak of classified information" in what Bush did. He authorized its release, so therefore it was declassified. This is a fact.

And for Aravosis to claim that "the American people" do not want Bush personally deciding what should be declassified is just nonsensical. More people voted for Bush to have that authority than anyone else in history. Sure, some of them have changed their minds since, but even most of them would not propose we have a do-over or impeachment to remove that authority from him.

Further, I propose we poll the U.S. Senate and find out if they would say Bush should not have this authority. Since almost all of them want to be President some day, and to have and use that authority, I doubt even the most leftwing of them would agree.

What Kurtz and Aravosis really want to say here is that it was simply wrong for Bush to release formerly classified information to make a political point. But they both knew almost three years ago that he did precisely that, as we all did, when the headlines in July 2003 read "Bush Authorizes Release of NIE on Iraq." That Bush authorized the release of that information 10 days earlier is irrelevant to the substance of what Bush actually did: that's merely a procedural question, a question of form.

And Goldebrg hits the nail on the head when he says, "It's not a general's job to be leaking classified information to influence public policy." That is precisely what Bush did (modulo the word "leak"), and that is precisely within his power, and it is something every President does. Clinton did it, Bush did it, Reagan did it, Carter did it, and so on down the line.

Reagan, for example, declassified spy plane photos of Soviet activity in the Caribbean. He did it because he wanted to pressure the Soviets, by making the information public. There's nothing wrong with that, and no one complained at the time. Similarly, Joe Wilson was making false claims about the Iraq-seeking-uranium-in-Africa claim, and Bush fought back by making some of the information backing him up public.

This is his right, his authority, and it is normal and nonremarkable. And again, the fact that it is nonremarkable is underscored by the fact that no one complained about it until three years after the fact, even though we knew it happened at the time.

* Note: The transcript on CNN.com says Aravosis said what Goldberg said, in the first quote, beginning with "Well, there's a huge ... ." I watched it on the TiVo and confirmed Goldberg said it, so I fixed it here. slashdot.org

Cheney Visit

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Today I went to lunch with Dick Cheney.

It was a fundraiser for Doug Roulstone, former commander of the USS John C. Stennis, and owner of a business in Snohomish County that employs a few hundred people and makes parts for Boeing. He's running for Congress in Washington's Second District (the Fightin' Second!).

Incumbent Rick Larsen responded to the Cheney visit:

Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Everett means that Doug Roulstone is Washington DC's hand picked candidate with no ties or commitment to the district.
No ties or commitment to the district, apart from longtime residency, a profitable business with a lot of employees, local involvement with the schools ... . Larsen's running scared so he tells an obvious lie about someone in the hopes that people who have never heard of Roulstone or know little about him might be fooled.

Roulstone is not hand-picked, either, by Washington DC or anyone else. It was his idea to run, although when the GOP in DC found out what a great candidate he was for the Second, they rushed to support him.

Roulstone basically made more than what he got all last year in one day, today, so I don't think he minds a little bit of sniping by the Democrats.

Apart from the money, public exposure is what matters most out of an event like this, and all the local newspapers and TV stations covered it. The differences in coverage were interesting.


FOX channel 13 was by far the worst coverage. This was an event for and by Doug Roulstone, and they never mentioned his name. That's the bare minimum. They spent two minutes on the story, and didn't say who he was, what he was running for ... they just showed his picture. Well, it's not like he's running for office and it's their job to inform voters about our potential leaders.

That alone was flabbergasting. The "reporter" also had this gem: "Arm-in-arm with top GOP leaders from Washington state, the welcome mat was a big one for Dick Cheney ... and the crowd ... made it easy for the Vice President to boast about the Bush economic agenda." What, at a campaign fundraiser you expect an unfriendly crowd? What's this "made it easy" nonsense? But she wasn't done yet: "But just outside, dozens of protestors produced a voice united against the Bush administration's agenda in Iraq." Except that the voice was not united, since there were also dozens of pro-Bush demonstrators, which were not shown or mentioned.

The "reporter" also mentioned that Cheney was going to another fundraiser, but did not mention it was for Senate candidate Mike McGavick, and also didn't mention "freshman east side Congressman" Dave Reichert it showed by name, only by that label.


ABC channel 4 coverage was bad, though not as bad as FOX. They got two extreme wackos on either side to express their views (although in fairness, maybe it's a challenge to get non-wacko views from people demonstrating on the street at 10 a.m. on a Monday ... although I was entertained by the NO IRAQ WAR signs that had an N written on top of the Q). But at least they mentioned all the names, although the "reporter" talked about Cheney next going to do a fundraiser for Mike "McGavich." There's only three people running for the U.S. Senate in Washington this year, you'd think a reporter they send out to a political event would actually know the names of them all. I dunno, is that asking too much?

This is also the organization that claimed Reichert was not going to the event because he was trying to distance himself from Cheney, which was untrue. So they are not big on facts, apparently.


NBC channel 5 was not bad. It was shy of inaccuracies and gave all the salient facts and had some quotes from relevant people. They actually showed interview clips with party leaders, local political consultants, and so on. And they showed me, which is perhaps the most important part. OK, you could barely make out my receding hairline in the distance over Robert Mak's right shoulder, but it's more than nothing.

NBC spent probably a bit too much time on the controversies surrounding Cheney and whether his appearance would help or hurt. All of them gave some time to that, but I think NBC just wasted a lot of time telling people what they already know about how Cheney shot his friend and has a low approval rating.


CBS channel 7 was not bad. It was on par with NBC in accuracy and completeness, and didn't have some of the same excesses. slashdot.org

Christians Who Hate Christians

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Sister Joan Chittister is really nasty and hateful toward the "Religious Right." Apart from being nasty, she also has a completely muddled view of history. Check this out:

We have to choose now with whether or not we want religion, that is this thing that binds us together, that is somehow or other genetically wired in us, that, that Aristotle talks about, that all the churches talk about. Or do we want denominationalism. What, what church, what religion do we want? Do we want the religion of the Crusades and the Inquisition and the witch burnings and segregation and slavery and the oppression of women and Puritanism that led to Prohibition, that didn't last because it was somebody's creed imposed on everybody else's creed? Or do we want the religion of the peace movement that Jesus talked about, and the, the labor movement and the civil rights movement.
Except that the people behind slavery were specifically not the "Puritans"/evangelicals/"religious right." The "religious right" were the abolitionists, against slavery. And from the evangelical abolitionist movement rose the women's suffrage movement, too. And, of course, the prohibition movement.

Chittister tries to lump views together -- being pro-slavery/anti-women, and being for prohibition (or for the conditions that led to it) -- that were, in fact, on opposite sides. Charles Finney founded the modern evangelical/"religious right" movement in the 1800s (although at the time, they were basically on the left, of course). Finney's main cause was abolition, and that same movement grew to push other societal reforms, including women's rights and prohibition of alcohol. So were those people evil Puritans or peaceful followers of Christ and supporters of civil rights?

She talks about forcing creeds on people. Slavery was pushing somebody's creed on everybody else's creed. So was segregation, so was oppression of women, so was prohibition. But so was abolition. It just so happens that Chittister likes abolition -- as do we all -- so therefore she doesn't consider it "pushing" anything, but Finney and co. were all about pushing their creed on everyone else: some of it we like, some of it we don't.

History, unfortunately, does not fall into a neat little package as Chittister wants it to, with the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other. slashdot.org

Student Expelled for Gayness

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Long story short: student attends school that includes this in the student handbook:

Any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw from the University of the Cumberlands.
Student reveals he is gay. Student is expelled. Student, and other students at same school, irrationally complain.

It's a private school, you chose to go there knowing full well what the rules were, implicitly (and probably explicitly) agreeing to abide by those rules, and complaining about it just makes you look like aren't even smart enough to go to college in the first place.

The news story I saw on CNN.com neglected to mention the fact that homosexual activity is explicitly forbidden at the university. slashdot.org

List Pausers Update

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I noted previously about TDS and "List Pausers".

In the list was also an email address, which I won't post here. Sucks to be you for not being a list pauser. I sent email to that address, and got this reply:

Dear Chris,
Thanks for your email. Please enjoy this semi-personalized response, and an
autographed picture with a special message just for you.

Attached was this picture.


Merry Minuet: Help Needed

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I've wanted to record The Kingston Trio's "Merry Minuet" for years. But, as you can see, the lyrics are a bit stale:

They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away

They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man
So, I'd like your help for ideas. So far, this is what I've got. Any suggestions for changes? TIA!

They're starving in Africa
They're rioting in Spain
There's hurricanes in New Orleans
And Bangladesh needs rain

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
Algerians hate the French, the French hate the Poles
Croatians hate Serbians, Islamists hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away

They're starving in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man

Wrongful Lawsuit

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Long story short: boy's mother dying, he calls 911. The operator thinks he is playing, and lectures him, and doesn't send help. Boy's mother dies.

Ambulance-chaser Geoffrey Fieger files two lawsuits, one for wrongful death of the mother, one for causing pain and suffering of the boy.

Both are essentially baseless. Emergency services have no obligation to help you. The end. Period. It's a terrible situation, but not an actionable one.

But to claim wrongful death? Fieger's outdone himself. Claiming that lacking to believe a boy asking for help is actually killing someone.

Of course, the real point here is that Fieger is running for Attorney General of Michigan this year, and most people probably don't understand the fact that his wrongful death lawsuit has absolutely no legal basis.

It's very scary to me that Michigan could have an Attorney General who doesn't care about the law. Oh well, I don't live there. slashdot.org

No, It Wasn't Me, But Almost

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I saw this site over the weekend to vote for your favorite design for the Washington state quarter.

The voting was shut down because "robots" were voting multiple times.

No, it wasn't me.

But I did think about it, because I knew other people were doing it, voting for the third design, and I think that's the worst one (I don't like the tribal theme really, plus, as someone else noted, it excludes the noncoastal tribes, and simply doesn't well-represent the whole state), so I was going to vote for the second. I like the first OK too.

Glad they figured out this was silly and pulled it. Unfortunately, the governor (note: I call her the governor!) still insists she will consider the web-based vote in the decision, which is just stupid because it is completely unscientific, even if you do find a reasonable way to exclude robots. slashdot.org

Also on This Week

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EJ Dionne was hyperfocusing yesterday on Bush's "creating an impression" in September and October 2003 that "we don't leak" when, in Dionne's view, we "now know" that Bush was authorizing a leak.

But the fundamental problem with this argument is that in July 2003, a couple months before Bush said that, we already knew that Bush had authorized the release of this exact same information, for the exact same purpose, that we know today.

As PowerLineBlog reported recently, this Knight-Ridder story appeared on July 19, 2003:

Bush releases excerpts of top-secret Iraq report
By Ron Hutcheson

Hoping to quell the controversy over President Bush's use of questionable intelligence to help make the case for war with Iraq, White House officials on Friday released portions of a top-secret report from last year that concluded that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking nuclear weapons.

But that finding in the classified National Intelligence Estimate, prepared for the White House last October, came loaded with reservations that reflected deep divisions in the intelligence community over Iraq's weapons programs and were at odds with the certainty expressed by Bush and his top aides.

The report even quoted intelligence experts at the State Department as describing assertions that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa as "highly dubious." Bush nevertheless repeated the assertion in his State of the Union speech in January while arguing the need for war. Uranium is a key component of nuclear bombs.

Although the report concluded that Iraq was seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, it acknowledged the scarcity of solid information. If the excerpts accurately reflect the full report, Bush reached the decision to go to war by assuming the worst about Iraq's capabilities and Hussein's intentions.

White House officials held a 75-minute briefing Friday on White House contacts with the CIA during the drafting of the speech. A senior administration official, insisting on anonymity, said the CIA approved the wording of Bush's speech without "any flag raised about the underlying intelligence."

The official disputed suggestions that White House officials pressured the CIA to sign off on the speech despite misgivings in the agency. CIA director George Tenet has acknowledged that the intelligence agency should have deleted the assertion.

So the question is: why didn't Dionne complain at the time? Why is it that in July 2003 everyone welcomed this release of information by Bush, released for the obvious purpose of combatting the Wilson story, but now, all of a sudden, it is some sort of a crime or moral offense for him to have done it?

Dionne concludes his mini-tirade with: "What did the President forget, and when did he forget it?" Funny, I was going to ask the same question about Dionne. slashdot.org

Joe Wilson Lies -- Again

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Watching This Week. Joe Wilson is on. He is lying again. He says:

Several months before the State of the Union address [in 2003], the White House and the Senate were advised, "don't use this information, it is baseless." If you then use that information, you are twisting intelligence to support political decisions that have already been made."
Of course, as astute readers of this space know, that information was not used. The "16 words" were based on completely separate information.

And then he goes on to just completely make more things up out of thin air. He adds:

If you're going to say, "get the information out," that basically means declassify the National Intelligence Estimate, not selective pieces of this that support decisions you've made, even though they are not grounded in fact, and that's what Mr. Libby did.
That too is a lie. First, we do not know what Bush said, we only have a paraphrase of hearsay of what Bush said. Second, and more importantly, that paraphrase said precisely the opposite of what Wilson says: that Bush authorized him to "disclose certain information in the NIE," not, as Wilson implies, the whole thing.

And third, far from releasing only information that supported their claims, the released information included several examples of people in the intelligence community arguing against the claims of Tenet and Bush: in the document released to the press on July 18, 2003, under the heading "INR's Alternative View: Iraq's Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes," it reads: "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

Wilson once again proves he is not to be taken seriously, that he has no credibility.

Don't be fooled by the haters ... slashdot.org
Everyone who says Bush did anything wrong over this supposed "leak" simply do not understand what actually happened.

Bush told Cheney to tell Libby to release portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD to Juidth Miller on July 8, 2003. The same information was released to the rest of the press corps on July 18, 2003.

This information was declassified by Bush. No one at the time, or since -- until now -- expressed any belief that this information should not have been declassified, because it was "highly sensitive." This was not a "leak" in the sense of releasing information that should not be released; it was it was only a "leak" in the sense of telling one reporter before you tell everyone else.

There's nothing to see here. Really. Bush is not being hypocritical at all; for that to be the case, he'd have had to at some point said that it was wrong to declassify information, or to disclose declassified information, or to disclose declassified information to a single journalist first, instead of to all journalists at once. He never said any of those things are wrong, and that's all that's happened here.

I can't believe this is still a story, and worse, that pundits on both sides actually think this makes Bush look bad in any way. We already knew this information was declassified in July 2003! We've known that for almost three years! The only new revelation here is that Bush said Libby could tell Miller 10 days before the White House told everyone else, and that's nothing new.

Jeez. Seriously people, get over it. slashdot.org
Um ... why is it "a shocking revelation," in the words of Harry Reid, that Bush (reportedly, accrding to hearsay testimony) authorized the disclosure of a limited amount of classified information to a reporter, in order to rebut a false national security story (namely, that Wilson's trip to Africa proved anything at all in regard to Bush's "16 words")?

The authorized information was not a new story: Bush had already said that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. He simply authorized some release of information from the NIE to back up that claim. There's no indication of any kind that the authorized disclosure compromised anything at all. There's no indication the authorization had anything whatsoever to do with Valerie Wilson's identity.

So even if it is all true, this story is one big "so what?" slashdot.org

All Hail Lux Board

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All hail my Lux board of Washington State.

Lux is like Risk. Networkable etc.

The original version of this map had bonuses broken down accurately by population per state judicial district, which made it so if you just sat on a single county, King County, you got a third of all bonuses. Which made it very unbalanced gameplay, but also a very accurate representation of real-life politics in Washington: if you control Seattle, chances are you will win whatever battle you wish to wage.

But that was a bit too unbalanced for an interesting game, so I made it a bit harder to hold on to King County, while still giving its "continent" a relatively big bonus. use.perl.org

List Pausers

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Rob Corddry on The Daily Show tonight talked about all the people he hates, including blacks, Jews, gays, and so on. He shows a whole list on the screen, very quickly, of other people he hates. If you pause it on the TiVo you can see it includes things like "Lebanese Christians," "Lesbian Christians," "TiVo List Pausers," and "People Who Only Get Their News From The Daily Show".

I agree with the last one, anyway. slashdot.org

CBS News Circling the Drain

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Dan Rather was not the best newsman. He was not terrible, but he was very flawed, prone to serious lapses in journalistic judgment.

Cronkite and Murrow were far better anchors. Rather, by any objective standard, was a significant step down from those journalistic titans.

But ... Katie Couric? She is the News Anchor Barbie compared to Cronkite and Murrow. Nothing more than a pretty face with a string to pull to make her say what you want. I've watched her many times on NBC, on the Today Show and elsewhere, and she is a mental midget.

My favorite example of this was the 2000 elections. It was Tom Brokaw (another giant of the field), Tim Russert (not the brightest bulb, but he mostly knows his stuff, and tries really hard to do a good job), and Katie Couric.

As we all remember, this election lasted late into the evening. Tom and Tim were getting tired, and fumbling a little bit. But Couric was ... useless. One discussion went something like this:

Tom: Tim, walk us through it again, for any new viewers we might have.
Tim: Well Tom, Florida remains the key. As you can see from my whiteboard, whoever wins Florida wins the presidency.
Tom: Katie, do you have anything to add?
Katie: This reminds me of that episode of Friends where Ross and Chandler were arguing over who was going to take the trash out ...

OK, I don't remember what she actually said, and it probably wasn't about Friends. But it was equally inane. And it happened several times. And she would finish, and Tom and Tim would pause at her, skip a beat, and then pretend she wasn't there. It was entirely embarassing.

Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, the late Peter Jennings, and current NBC anchor Stone Phillips all are very good newsmen who do much of their own reporting, write their own questions, think up new questions on the spot, and so on. Brokaw was the managing editor of NBC News, and it's not because he was just a pretty face.

If not for Couric's pretty face -- which we all must admit is not as pretty as it once was -- she would have been stuck getting coffee for Brokaw. And getting the order wrong every time.


Firing Without Cause

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France makes me laugh. I think anyone should be able to be fired without cause. Period.

But then, I live in a free country. slashdot.org

America First

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I don't care what flags you like to fly. If you want to fly a Mexican, Swiss, British, Saudi, or Chinese flag, I'm fine. Fly your flag in the U.S. Whatever.

But when you fly the U.S. flag upside down, below the Mexican flag, in front of a U.S.-financed public school, that many of you are illegally attending: yeah, I take offense. Seriously, just leave.

I know that story is several days old now, but I saw today that some students are now being suspended for bringing American flags to school. The reasoning goes that the flag might be "offensive" to some, so the U.S. and Mexican flags are banned. A flag should not, as one administrator in California said, be used as a rhetorical "weapon."

There's something to be said for that notion. He called such use of the flag "desecration," and I can dig that. But in the United States, if the U.S. flag is offensive to you, then you are the problem. No one should rub it in your face just to tick you off, but they would not be able to if you weren't the problem.

Who would be in the U.S., attending public schools, and be offended by the American flag? Who would consider it a "weapon" against them? Only people who hate the U.S., or want to subjugate the U.S. to Mexico, or are simply not in their right minds. And I don't really care about not offending any of those three groups of people.

I'm very tolerant. Live and let live. Don't hurt anyone else, and do as you please. But a serious line is crossed when you are in my country and want to subjugate my country for yours. My tolerance does not extend toward you wanting to take away my country from me, which is, of course, the real goal of many of the people here: to claim California for Mexico.

Obviously, that's not the goal of everyone. Some immigrants -- most, I hope -- do love America and simply want to become Americans, or at least, respect our country while they are our guests (not that I don't recognize the cognitive dissonance required of them to respect our country while willfully violating our immigration laws). But the people who turned the U.S. flag upside down and under the Mexican flag are not among them. These people do not want to be Americans, nor do they have a minimum of respect for America. And they should therefore leave.

Then there's the ANSWER coalition, which is organizing the economic boycott on May 1: everyone stop working for a day to prove that workers are the backbone of the economy. Or something. They don't want to return California to Mexico, they just want worldwide communism, with open borders between all countries, until no countries are left, only workers.

They tried this boycott already in California. Far from hurting the economy, it only hurt the public schools: L.A. schools lost $5 million because of all the students who didn't attend school that day. So I guess I have no real reason to oppose the boycott, since it's likely doomed to failure.

To the extent the immigration debate is about immigrants becoming Americans, I think most Americans can get behind our immigrants, even if they believe we still need to reduce immigration and secure the borders toward that end, and for security purposes. But the ugly truth is that this is not the whole story. And if by some incredible circumstances the ANSWER boycott is successful, then we will know that far more of our immigrants have ulterior motives than we thought. slashdot.org

Global Warming Evidence

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Isn't it funny how when last year the snowpack in the Cascades was far smaller than normal, many people couldn't blame global warming fast enough, but this year, when the snowpack is much larger than normal, those same people don't count it as counterevidence to the same claim? What's even better is when they say that the increased snowpack is additional evidence of global warming. Pull the other one!

If I were a cynic, I'd say people like Ron Sims were merely political opportuinsts, exploiting the ignorance and gullibility of the public to win points in an election year ... slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from April 2006.

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