Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Veto Proof

F.C.C. Media Rule Blocked in House in a 400-to-21 Vote

WASHINGTON, July 23 — The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation today to block a new rule supported by the Bush administration that would permit the nation’s largest television networks to grow bigger by owning more stations.

The vote, which was 400 to 21, sets the stage for a rare confrontation between the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House, because there is strong support in the Senate for similar measures, which seek to roll back last month’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to raise the limit on the number of television stations a network can own.

I think that a margin this large leaves the White House little room to follow through on its veto threat, however. So it looks like the rules change is dead.

I was also curious to see who the 21 opposers were, so I went to the roll call vote. Not too much exciting in terms of who voted against the bill. There were five Democrats, but no big names. The only big names Republicans voting against were Oxley and Tauzin. Now apparently recovered from his brush with death (in the form of 71-year old fruitcake-yelling Rep. Pete Stark), Rep. Scott MicInnis was also able to vote against the bill.

More interesting than who voted against was this name in the list of representatives who did not vote: Dick Gephardt. I know Gephardt is campaigning and all, but this was a pretty big issue to Democrats, particularly the ones most likely to vote in the primaries.

AB

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Blogs in The Boston Globe

The Globe has a story on political blogs that you might find interesting. Oliver Willis gets a big plug, as does Howard Dean’s blog. Unlike other stories on blogging that I’ve seen in the press, there’s not much to disagree with in this one. The story also raises a question I ask myself sometimes:

But as the mass of online opinion grows, some skeptics question whether every supporter’s passing thought deserves a public platform, or whether the musings of an almost anonymous voter are worth reading. Even among the wired, there is a debate over whether blogs are a new form of discourse or simply an endless feedback loop, a self-enclosed circle of political junkies echoing and challenging one another.

AB

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Rice Watch Day 2

Josh Marshall reports (permalink broken, scroll down to “Interesting insider info”) that today’s Nelson Report says this:

…yesterday, Hadley performed a virtual repeat of Tenet’s highly qualified “taking responsibility” pose by making it clear that if he has to take a fall, then Ms. Rice needs to explain why she didn’t read the memos he gave her.

As one Administration source put it, privately, today: “Between Tenet and Hadley, Condi now has the choice of saying she’s a fool, or a liar…if not both. Bottom line is she failed to protect the President…look at all this lame stuff about him not being a ‘fact checker’. It’s just incredible.”

The underlined part sounds a lot like what I said when I started the Rice Watch. The report also says that “…a source reported talk of trying to replace Tenet with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; replacing Wolfowitz with Hadley…” Yikes.

AB

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Look! Over there! Photographs of Quday and Usay!

Just thought I’d get that over with since you’ll be hearing it a lot over the coming weeks in response to any questions about the conduct of the war, faulty intelligence, how said intelligence got into the SOTU speech, the White House outing a CIA agent, and so forth.

Note: The phrase is from a post by Eschaton’s Lambert.

AB

UPDATE: To wit, check out this NYT headline: “Deaths of Hussein’s Sons Allow Change of Subject“.

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Green Update

Tomasky has a new story in the American Prospect, “Gang Green: The Democrats can cure their Ralph Nader problem by attacking him — immediately and ferociously.” Tomasky writes

First, if it was the intention of Nader voters in New York or Massachusetts (or any state Al Gore was certain to win in 2000) to send a message to the Democrats, that’s an understandable and respectable intention. But as the Christian Coalition model shows, such messages are far more effectively sent inside the party than outside it– the Greens really influence almost nothing in this country, whereas the Christian Coalition, with its power in the GOP, influences almost everything.”

Tomsaky speculates that about half of Nader’s 2.8 million voters in 2000 are beyond redemption, but that the other half–the one that learned that some is better than none–is amenable to reason. What should the Democratic candidates for president do about this? Attack Nader early and often, and in the process, shore up centrist credentials:

Attack Nader right now, and with lupine ferocity. Say he’s a madman for thinking of running again. Blast him especially hard on foreign policy, saying that if it were up to the Greens, America would give no aid to Israel and it would cease to exist, and if it were up to the Greens, America would not have even defended itself against a barbarous attack by going into Afghanistan. Have at him, and hard, from the right. Then nail him from the left on certain social issues, on abortion rights and other things that he’s often pooh-poohed and dismissed as irrelevant. Cause an uproar. Be dramatic. Don’t balance it with praise about what he’s done for consumers. To the contrary, talk about how much he’s damaging consumers today by not caring who’s in charge of the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Communications Commission.

Well, Mr. Tomasky, I’m not running for president and I’m not sure that I can convey “lupine ferocity” in a blog, but I’ll give it a shot.

AB

UPDATE: See this CalPundit post for more.

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Condoleezza Watch Day One

I was tempted to start the watch back on July 6th when I made this post, but I thought it was premature. Now, via Atrios, I see that Rice’s top assistant, Stephen Hadley, is trying to do a George Tenet:

“‘I have failed in that responsibility,’ Hadley said during the off-camera briefing at the White House today. ‘The high standards the president sets for his speech were not met.'”

I don’t think blaming Hadley will work, because if he really has culpability for the questionable uranium and aluminum tube references, then it’s nearly impossible for Condoleezza Rice not to have known how sketchy the claims were. Moreover, Hadley didn’t “fail in a responsibility”, he actively abrogated his responsibilities, according to Josh Marshall who wrote this on July 13th:

…the real question is less whether Tenet’s CIA didn’t push hard enough to keep bogus information out of the president’s speech as why others were pushing so hard to keep it in…Rice’s efforts to work her way out of this tight knot of logic — especially the new revelation that George Tenet personally told her deputy, Stephen Hadley, to keep the uranium canard out of a speech in October — were, to put it mildly, pathetic. The fact that the CIA Director had to intervene personally with the Deputy National Security Advisor [Stephen Hadley} to get the bogus information out of an earlier speech raises the obvious question: just how many times did the Agency have to warn the White House off the bogus uranium claim before they got the message and stopped trying to put it into the president’s mouth?

Hadley’s statement just puts the blame closer to Bush, and directly at Rice’s feet. Can she really say that she knowingly let Bush put faulty intelligence in the SOTU, yet not resign? Also problematic for Rice is that on July 11 she said that no one at her level knew of the CIA’s doubts about the Niger intelligence. For that to be true, it must be the case that her top deputy was not keeping her aprised of intelligence regarding Iraq’s nuclear capabilities–outrageous if true, but more likely preposterous. So the Rice Resignation Watch starts today.

AB

UPDATE: Atrios has more, including then and now statements from Rice.

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Green Joke Update

I have the first submission, and it made me laugh out loud (via blogger Alex Frantz):

Q: How many Greens does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: There’s no important difference between darkness and the so-called light that is created by destructive multinational corporations. The only real answer is to pruduce natural light that doesn’t depend on global capitalism, by burning down the house.

If I get to five, I’ll start an archive. Phrasing in the form of a lightbulb joke is optional.

AB

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Dead Sons

I suppose that the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein constitute good news, particularly insofar as Saddam’s sons were actively encouraging attacks on U.S. soldiers and Iraqi infrastructure. Capturing them might have been better, but it appears that they were determined to go down shooting. It does seem bit odd that they were in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, because of the large number of Christians and Kurds in the city (Mosul is in Northern Iraq, about 60 miles from the Turkish border). Indeed, current reports indicate that a “walk-in” informant that lead them to the sons, but I haven’t yet heard the ethnicity of the informant.

Already on CNN and MSNBC I’ve heard multiple pundits speculate or claim that these deaths are likely to reduce attacks on U.S. soldiers and other forms of resistance. Hopefully, these predictions are right, but it seems rather optimistic. Baghdad is reportedly one of the more problematic cities, and it’s over 200 miles away from Mosul, so it seems unlikely that resistance in Baghdad is reliant upon Uday or Qusay. Tikrit, Saddam’s home town, is also a problematic city, but it’s over 100 miles from where Uday and Qusay were found.

In an even bigger stretch, I caught the tail end of former CIA Directory James Woolsey on MSNBC. Woolsey was arguing that as a result of the deaths of Saddam’s sons, previously intimidated scientists will now come out and tell inspectors where the WMD are. I would think by now that the pro-war crowd would stop saying that WMD are just around the corner, and simply wait and hope quietly.

AB

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Green Jokes (and a small rant)

Back in the day, I remember a wide array of jokes that played on the alleged stupidity of either Aggies or Polish people. I suppose that the times have changed enough that such jokes are no longer fashionable in polite company. But there’s a viable alternative for those of you in need of a group of actual buffoons that you can mock without fear of denigrating any racial, ethnic, gender, or alumni group: The Green Party.

Lest you think I overstate the case, take a look at this press release announcing the Greens’ intention to run a presidential candidate next year. Or witness the formation of this circular firing squad:

Both [Green Party meetings] were closed to the news media. But participants said the discussions came to at least a symbolic close when they were asked to stand in different parts of the room depending on how they felt about the presidential race.

Those who wanted a presidential candidate who would run the strongest possible campaign were asked to stand in one area. Those who wanted someone who would run only in areas where electoral votes would not be pulled from the Democratic presidential candidate stood in another. Those who wanted to skip the race altogether and, instead, support the Democratic candidate stood in yet another.

The unusual exercise was intended to help participants visualize where the highly decentralized and often fractious party stood, literally and figuratively, on the issue.

Guess which zone had the most Greenies? As I recall, there are actually some good things on the Green platform, though I’m too annoyed right now to dig up or cite any. But the “Republicans and Democrats are the same” B.S. that the diehard Greens still spew is now thoroughly discredited–go tell it to, e.g., thousands of dead Iraqis, families of dead American soldiers, or the millions of newly unemployed. Running a candidate in 2004 will only highlight how wrong the Greens are on this point; the terrible results of the candidate they run will only underscore the ineffectiveness of the current Green Party strategy. Yet still, .2%-1% of the vote could swing a tight state and thus the 2004 election, which explains my anger rather than usual amusement with the Greens.

If you know any Greens and you live in a contested state, I encourage you to spend a good chunk of the next 1.5 years tossing them the front page and asking them, “Happy now?”

Back to the issue at hand, making Greens the politically correct butt of jokes, I offer you this from Ted Barlow’s Lightbulb Joke Warehouse (scroll down):

Q: How many Green party voters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Dude, we shouldn’t have to change light bulbs. GE has this secret lab in Costa Rica, and they made a light bulb out of hemp that totally lasts forever.

Add yours in my underused comments.

AB

P.S. Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Prospective presidential nominee Carol Miller of New Mexico (a close Gore-win in 2000) said, “I think Bush and Cheney are probably not going to run [in 2004]. There are very troubling accusations [about Iraq].” She then finished smoking her hemp sandals and proceeded outside to wait for Leon Trotsky, Abbie Hoffman, and St. Francis of Assisi to give her a ride home in their hydrogen-powered solar eco-carriage.

P.P.S. In fairness to some Greens, see RepentantNaderVoter.com (and their Ten Reasons Why Bush is So Bad).

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And Now in Words

For anyone who gets tired of charts, graphs, and excessive numbers, Dwight Meredith uses compelling prose to lay out the current budget deficit situation. Even if you are a chart and numbers kind of person, go read it. And, most of all, if you think everything the government touches is a waste, read Dwight’s post and decide what should go in order to fund Bush’s tax cuts (assuming that the U.S. is unwilling to repudiate its debt, today’s deficits are only deferred tax hikes or spending cuts–at some point, taxes must go up or services down).

If you really want to cut spending, I’ll help you get started: how about increasing the retirement age by one month per year for the next 30 years (to 67.5)?

AB

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