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

Edward Kennedy Wants Money

And I might have given it to him, until I read this in the solicitation: “Recently, Democrats led the successful charge to slash President Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy.”


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On a Roll

Is it just me, or is Dwight Meredith on a roll lately? I can explain the deficit in a clear and perhaps even convincing fashion, if you can stay awake throughout the entire post. Dwight makes it fun to read.

And, while I’m plugging, the non-evil Roger Ailes has a novel idea.

And, via TBogg, see this cartoon.

And, in case you haven’t heard about the blogathon, it starts tomorrow: 24 hours of non-stop posting. Pandagon is blogging for Amnesty International (blogging for Cure Autism Now (reports that “I’ve just been offered a challenge grant from a friend’s business – If I reach the $1000 goal, he’ll add another $500! So pull out your penny jars.” That’s right, by donating even a small amount, you could effectively be donating over $500!


UPDATE: Getting very close now:


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That leaves, as of 11:30 Eastern, “0 days, 9 hours, 3 minutes until Blogathon 2003”.

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DeLay Peace

DeLay is on his way to the Middle East to do what he can to prevent Palestinian statehood–even if the plan is acceptable to the hawkish prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. Why? Apparently God wants him to:

As an evangelical Christian, he [DeLay] is the most prominent member in Washington of the Christian Zionist movement, a formidable bloc of conservative Republicans whose support for Israel is based on biblical interpretations, sometimes putting them to the right of Israeli government. His persistent skepticism about Mr. Bush’s peace initiative indicates that the president may yet have to wrestle with his right flank in pursuing a plan that ultimately calls for a Palestinian state.

DeLay also may have tipped his hand on the real motivation for war in Iraq, parroting the Neo-Con line (though in fairness, the neocons put more emphasis on the shining example of democracy and less on intimidation):

“In the Arab world before 9/11, they thought the United States was a paper tiger,” said Mr. DeLay, who will also make a brief visit to military commanders in Baghdad next week. “We had a president at the time whose retaliation at terrorism was throwing a few bombs in the desert. They laughed at that. And now they see this is real stuff and real power. And they respect power. If the experiment going on in Iraq comes off, it will have a huge, huge impact in the Arab world, showing people who want freedom and self-government and education that they can have it.”

I guess if that doesn’t work, then the next step is slaying the first-born?* I’ve been to DeLay’s district, Sugarland; it’s a nice suburb with nice people on the outskirts of Houston. But seriously, Sugarlanders: what the hell is wrong with you?


*Passover: “Passover thus refers to when the Angel passed over the homes of the Jews during the 10th plague [Slaying of the First Born] so that their first-born children were not killed like those of the Egyptians. After the 10th plague, Ramses II released the Jews again.”

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Bush and Pelosi

As you may recall, the latest expansion of the child tax credit excluded low income families who pay little or no income taxes (although they pay payroll taxes). The Senate tried to extend the credit to all families, but the House blocked it. Bush is giving lip service to the Senate plan, but not pushing House Republicans to do anything. Here’s Bush in the swing-state Pennsylvania trying to explain his deficit:

“We’ve got a deficit, as well, because I’m spending the money necessary to win the war…My attitude is when we put our troops in harm’s way, they deserve the best.”

On Bush’s first point, see this post (and here). On the second point, let’s check in with Nancy Pelosi:

“Mr. President: Be honest. Twelve million children, including 250,000 children of active-duty military families, are not getting these checks. They want to know what you are going to do about it besides pose for pretty pictures. They want you to get the House Republicans to expand the child tax credit now.”

Look for House Republicans to fold on this sometime today. Although I think that if they could swing it, the Republicans would only extend the child tax credits in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states Bush narrowly lost in 2000. I will at least give Bush credit for finally being honest and saying that the economy was “sliding into recession”, rather than “in a recession”, when he took office (not that he was able to stop the slide).


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Uday Qusay Hussein Dead Jokes

Skimming my traffic logs, I see that I’m getting a lot of hits from morbid people searching Google for “Uday Qusay Hussein dead jokes”, even though this site sin’t particularly relevant for that. The problem is that I’ve got jokes about the Green Party (e.g., here), and I have a post about the deaths of Uday and Qusay, so Google thinks that I’m the fifth most relevant hit on the web for such jokes. Nothing’s perfect.

In any event, welcome, accidental visitors. I don’t have any jokes specifically on topic, but to avoid making your visit a complete waste, I offer you these (there are many more here):

  • “No one knows if Saddam is still alive. They keep showing old footage of him on TV saying that it’s live. You know, it’s like the same thing we do with Dick Cheney.” —David Letterman
  • “New rumors that Saddam Hussein is planning to flee to a castle in Libya with 10 billion dollars. Now President Bush doesn’t know whether to nuke him or give him a tax cut.” —Craig Kilborn
  • “Saddam Hussein in his interview with Dan Rather said he would rather die than leave his country in exile. Finally, something we can agree on, he’d rather die and we’d rather kill him.” — Jay Leno


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Rice Watch Day 3

Via Josh Marshall, this from Rice’s top aide Stephen Hadley in a Tuesday, July 22, 2003 White House Q&A:

Question: But as of memo number two, certainly Dr. Rice was aware of the concerns, the CIA —

Hadley: What we know is, again, a copy of the memo comes to the Situation Room, it’s sent to Dr. Rice, it’s sent — and that’s it. You know, I can’t tell you she read it. I can’t even tell you she received it. But in some sense, it doesn’t matter. Memo sent, we’re on notice.

“Memo number two” refers to the second of two memos that the CIA sent to the NSC; each explained that the CIA (and the State Department) didn’t find the Niger allegations credible. This is Dr. Rice back on June 8th, 2003, on Meet the Press:

We did not know at the time–no one knew at the time, in our circles- -maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the Agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.

In last Saturday’s Washington Post, the two Danas (Milbank and Priest) reported that

President Bush and his national security adviser [Condoleezza Rice] did not entirely read the most authoritative prewar assessment of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, including a State Department claim that an allegation Bush would later use in his State of the Union address was “highly dubious,” White House officials said yesterday…

…the document also included a pointed dissent by the State Department, which said the evidence did not “add up to a compelling case” that Iraq was making a comprehensive effort to get nuclear weapons.

…[A senior administration official said,] “They did not read footnotes in a 90-page document,” said the official, referring to the “Annex” that contained the State Department’s dissent.

I’m not quite sure what an annex is, but I’m assuming this means either that the National Intelligence Estimate had endnotes in an “annex”, rather than footnotes. Alternatively, the objections from State (and also the Dept. of Energy) were in an appendix, which does after all start and end with the same letters as “annex”. Now, I can readily accept President Bush taking a briefing on the report rather than reading the entire document–that’s what high level staff are for. But to say that Rice did not read it? Either it’s the height of dereliction of responsibilities, or an outright lie. And neither scenario makes Rice look good. (See also this post).


P.S. Marshall also links me to this great Slate piece by Tim Noah, which has another quote from Hadley: “Condi wants it clearly understood that she feels a personal responsibility for not recognizing the potential problem presented by those 16 words.” Be sure to read all the way to the end.

UPDATE: Skimming Suburban Guerrilla, I found an interesting Clinton quote from his recent appearance with Bob Dole on Larry King:

Well, here’s what happens: every day the president gets a daily brief from the CIA. And then, if it’s some important issue — and believe me, you know, anything having to do with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons became much more important to everybody in the White House after September the 11 — then they probably told the president, certainly Condoleezza Rice.

On balance, Clinton was on Bush’s side on this issue, saying,

But this State of the Union deal, they decided to use the British intelligence. The president said it was British intelligence. Then they said on balance they shouldn’t have done it. You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president.

But the first quote really takes away from the plausibility of Rice’s “bowels” statement (see above).

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There’s some language that reflects rather poorly on FBI Director Freeh (emphasis in original):

…Rule 6(e) restricts the disclosure of information actually revealed in the confidence of the grand jury chamber. This prohibition, however, does not actually reach other information in the possession of law enforcement entities…

…Sadly, however, Rule 6(e) increasingly came to be used simply as an excuse for not sharing information…for years, it was routine FBI and DOJ practice to respond to virtually any Intelligence Community requests for information with the answer that “Rule 6(e)” prevented any response…

…Indeed, by this account, NSC officials met with Attorney General Reno in 1993 about the obstacles this dynamic presented for counterterrorism analysis. “Although the issue was revisited many times over the next four years,” nothing happened: “The FBI balked at the proposal, and [Attorney General] Reno, although she was [FBI Director] Louis Freeh’s boss, could never bring him around.”

This from Republican Senator Richard C. Shelby’s statement on. pp 93-94 of the Additional Views of Members of the Joint Inquiry

You may recall Freeh from memorable episodes such as Wen Ho Lee, Robert Hanssen, Richard Jewel, not catching Eric Rudolph, and his clashes with Janet Reno over whether to appoint another independent council appointed to investigate Democratic fundraising practices in 1996—requests that Reno denied. In the plus column, Freeh’s FBI did quickly identify and then capture Oklahoma City bomber Timoth McVeigh.


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9/11 Report

If you have a lot of time on your hands, the full 950 page report is available here. For a pdf of the summary, click here.


UPDATE: I’ve read the summary now. Some of the findings in the report are fairly disturbing. The report explicitly avoids saying that 9/11 was preventable, but other than that, the words are un-minced:

…On July 10, 2001, an FBI Phoenix field office agent sent an “Electronic Communication” to 4 individuals in the Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) and two people in the Usama Bin Ladin Unit (UBLU) at FBI headquarters, and to two agents on International Terrorism squads in the New York Field Office. In the communication, the agent expressed his concerns, based on his first-hand knowledge, that there was a coordinated effort underway by Bin Ladin to send students to the United States for civil aviation-related training. He noted that there was an “inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest” in this type of training in Arizona and expressed his suspicion that this was an effort to establish a cadre of individuals in civil aviation who would conduct future terrorist activity. The Phoenix EC requested that the FBI headquarters consider implementing four recommendations:

  • accumulate a list of civil aviation university/colleges around the country;
  • establish liaison with these schools
  • discuss the theories contained in the Phoenix EC with the intelligence Community; and
  • consider seeking authority to obtain visa information concerning individuals seeking to attend flight schools.

However, the FBI headquarters personnel did not take the action requested by the Phoenix agent prior to September 11, 2001. The communication generated little or no interest at either FBI Headquarters or the FBI’s New York field office.


…Prior to September 11, the Intelligence Community had information linking Khalid Shaykh Mohammed (KSM), now recognized by the Intelligence Community as the mastermind of the attacks, to Bin Ladin to terrorist plans to use aircraft as weapons, and to terrorist activity in the United States.


…Despite intelligence reporting from 1998 through the summer of 2001 indicating that Usama Bin Ladin’s terrorist network intended to strike inside the United States, the United States government did not undertake a comprehensive effort to implement defensive measures in the United States.

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Must-Watch Daily Show

You should probably be watching the Daily Show anyway, because Jon Stewart is more informative than Larry King any day of the week. In any event, tonight’s Daily Show guest is none other that Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who first outed the SOTU deception and whose wife was apparently outed as a CIA agent in return by the administration.


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