Freedom of the Press
advocates another simple and easy way to solve the Intimigate scandal; arrest Bob Novak and then sweat him until he starts coughing up names.
Much like the Move-On make everyone sign an affadavit strategy, I reject this approach. Reporters are not covered under the 1982 law that forbade the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity and/or cover. It is the actual leaker who is covered by this law. Secondly, while the courts do not recognize a reporter's privilege, there has traditionally been a deferral to reporters who wish to protect their sources unless there is absolutely no other reasonable way to gain that information. Right now, we are relatively sure that at least 6 other reporters know who the leakers are, one of them works for the Washington Post and is leaking like mad to the Post's own writers. We also know that there is at least one senior administration official leaking and a second potential source someplace within the conspiracy. So I think that it is fairly evident that Novak is not too important to the case any more and that he does not provide unique information.
I just do not want to set a precedent that can be used to muzzle reporters who are telling an uncomfortable but legal truth in the future. Keep Novak out of jail but sweat him by attacking his professional credibility as Josh Marshall
is doing here. That is the proper way to make Novak sweat, not throwing him in jail.
Maintaining the Social Safety Net
is reporting that the World Bank believes that the food distribution network in Iraq needs to be kept in place for at least the next three to five years in order to ensure an orderly transition to a market economy. This is the food distribution network that Jerry Bremer
wants to dismantle by January because it is "socialist" and we wise white Americans need to destroy the delusions of those little brown people... sorry, I am slightly bitter right now.
Iraq is a mess right now, and we lucked out during the war that there was not a massive refugee crisis and that the Iraqi government did a decent job of ensuring that there were sufficient civilian food stockpiles distributed throughout the country. However, dismantling this network will be throwing millions into starvation because there are currently not enough jobs or other means available to earn the needed income to pay for food.
As it is, the US could soon be facing a Sunni-Kurdish-Sadrist Shi'ite alliance and spitting on the rest of the population does not seem to be a good idea.
The United States has been trying to push that IGC as a legitimate governing body of Iraq although the US retains veto power over any and all decisions that the IGC makes, so it is nothing more than a rubber stamp/consulting body.
That is how most of the world views the IGC. It also makes for an easy way to say no to the United States.
This view was reinforced this week at the International Islamic Conference held in Mayalasia. The IGC representatives
went begging for more Muslim troops to be peacekeepers and they also said that the US would be in Iraq for a long time and that sovereignity would not be handed over for a significant period of time.
So the IGC is just shilling for the US, at least in the eyes of countries which could choose to help the occupation, but realistically why do they want to get involved in an upopular occupation that has the potential of turning into a civil war?
I believe in human rights and I believe that Amnesty has done wonders for the human rights of millions across the globe. I want human rights to be advanced as often as possible for the concept of human rights instead of state-granted rights helped to bring down the Eastern Bloc and it is effectively, albiet slowly changing Iranian society.
I also believe that the United States should embrace its committment to human rights whenever and wherever we have the ability to do so. That means in the United States, both on Rodeo Drive and in Roxbury, and overseas. I am disgusted that the United States has not done so in Iraq, as it appears that the US is engaging in collective punishment in an attempt to suppress the guerillas by making the cost to the populace of non-cooperation with the US too high. The US has been bulldozing orchids
of farmers who live in villages that continue to shoot at US convoys.
Collective punishment/retribution is illegal under the Geneva Convention to which the US is a signatory. This is also part of a pattern of behavior which constitute probabable war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention. The most notable reported event is a hostage taking
by the 4th Infantry Division.
Come on, this country is better than that... we need to seize and maintain the moral highground if the war on terrorism is to have any hope of success. And that high road includes respecting human rights especially when it is not convienent for us to do so.
Anger versus smarts
takes issue with Matt Stoller's
call for more anger among reasonable liberals. Matt Y. believes that the Dems just need to make smarter tactical decisions and he pulls as his example the 2002 funding decisions to candidates who were wiped out instead of towards winnable states that the Dems lost.
I agree with Matt Y. that smarter decisions need to be made, but Stoller has a very legitimate point that carries more weight in my mind. Democratic candidates have been losing in California and in 2002 for Congress because turnout has not been proportional to the registratrion. As I have outlined in the past, the base is going to be critical, and it is far easier to get an angry base out to vote than a happy base out to vote. So lets get angry, but focus that anger, as Kevin Drum at CalPundit suggests, on the critical tipping point states.
Do cry for US Argentina for the truth is We'll be with you.....
At least that is one conclusion which can be made after reading two different reports that came out in the past week. Atrios
passes along an article from the Washington Post
which reports on a CBO report. The CBO report details how tax collections are at the lowest point since 1959 and the trend is one that has not been seen since the Great Depression, while government spending is growing as a proportion of the economy. The federal government is now spending 20.2% of GDP while only collecting 16.6% of GDP in taxes. This is a trend that is likely to continue as long as Bush is in the White House and Tom “nothing is more important than tax cuts in wartime” DeLay is in House as we will continue to have an endless war on terror, a fiascesque cash cow in Iraq and an unwillingness to be serious.
This unwillingness to take governance seriously could cause this country to have a fiscal meltdown. At least that is according to an article
analyzes. The Economist
is worried about the economic fundamentals of the United States of America and it analyzed the US as if it was a developing market. We barely passed that test where the passing grade is non-high expectation of a financial crisis within twelve months. Talk about setting the bar low and barely being able to jump over it.
These are the concerns that quite a few liberals and conservative critics of the administration have. I applaud the liberals for realizing that social justice is far easier to accomplish when there is economic health in this nation, while I give praise to the few conservatives who have not sold themselves out for power. I do not believe that this country should ever be in a position where we need to be compared to a Third World disaster country in order to come out in a favorable light. However, economically, that could soon be the case.
Going with the Sox
Right now the series is tied 1-1, Pedro is pitching at Fenway, and life is good as I am taking the rest of the day off to enjoy a beautiful day of Indian summer here in Pittsburgh.
This is a bit insider baseballish but in this Washington Post
article that is primarily dealing with Clark's attempt to raise more money in California and tap into the institutional Democratic money sources there is one very juicy line concerning John Edwards.
"From Sept. 17, the day of his announcement, to Sept. 30, Clark raised $3.5 million, substantially more than Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) raised during the three months of the third quarter"
Now this states that the Post knows that Edwards raised less than 3.5 million dollars. The question is what constitutes "substantially" less money than 3.5 million. I would hazard that it would have to be at least 20% less for me to use the term substantial, so being slightly kind to Edwards, the Post may have a source that says Edwards raised just 3 million for 3-Q. Probably less than that.
Can Edwards afford to stay in if he only raised 3 mil? I do not know. The pressure has got to be getting intense on him to produce some positive uptick anywhere besides South Carolina.
A good guess?
Julia over at Why Your Wife Won't Have Sex with You
has a very good theory as to how the White House or at least the National Security Council was able to find out that Valerie Plame was under cover. Julia points out that Mary K. Sturtevant
is the "Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, National Security Council staff"
who had previously been at the "Central Intelligence Agency, where she served in senior positions in the Directorate of Operations, the Directorate of Science and Technology, and as Agency Comptroller."
So this is a good line of speculation as to how the information got to the White House, and it would point the finger looking for the actual leakers at either the NSC or other national security folks. It is an interesting thesis that deserves some more looking into.
There has been quite a discussion going on about civility that was prompted by a David Brooks New York Times column
in which he calls for a return to civility. Quite a bit of the Left would like to return to civility in the public discourse, and would listen to Brooks' call if he himself had not been so uncivil and viscious when Clinton was President. But now that Bush, his guy is in trouble, we must be polite.
, the favorite columnist for the left and the most hated by the right notes that "there's more going on than a simple attempt to impose a double standard. All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years. "
Many bloggers have joined this discussion. Ezra at Not Geniuses
believes that a new era is about to approach. He also discourages the Left from conducting the attacks of personality that the right has made a staple of their rhetoric although he concedes that the right has been extremely effective in gaining and consolidating power using this style of rhetoric.
The normally calm and willing to be convinced of moderation CalPundit
urges only tactical caution in using outrage and emotional arguments, saying that we should remember that our goal is to remove Bush in November, and anything that distracts us from that effort is a waste of our time and energy. He has also hit the ball out of the park this week with these two posts.
argues that it is rather evident that the Republicans are not arguing their positions in good faith (see 2001, 2002, 2003 tax cut rationalizatoins, Iraq war, Homeland Security formation, Healthy Forest, Clear Skies etc.) and that it is proper and fair for liberals to question the public motivations of people who have a history of lying through their teeth and also a respect for Straussian interpretation of texts.
Others are urging full bore, no holds barred attacks even when the evidence is not on our side. This view can be found at Democratic Underground
and a couple of the further left/activist boards. I think that thees guys are wrong because I still want to believe in facts and the fact that the facts support the left.
Frank at in the comments at Not Geniuses notes that this is a prisoner dilemna collective action problem and that the tit for tat strategy is perfectly suited for this type of game.Morat at Skeptical Notion
notes that the conservatives truly are unable to take any effective return fire when the liberals actually call Bullshit on the worst of the right's charges. This is a potential way to break the cycle, beat the right senseless with facts, arguement and verifiable and incisive invesctive.
This is the position that makes the most sense and appeal to me. I would strongly prefer that the political discourse in this country is civil, that people are able to have serious agreements to disagree about serious issues without impugning their parentry, their morality or their honor. I wish that we could treat issues as if we are mature adults. I want policy decisions made on the basis of what will achieve the most public good. However that is not happening. So we need to gain power and that means defeating the politicized practice of slander, rumor and insinuation. Tit-for-tat is an effective strategy, and as a Party the Democrats need to realize that compromise is not fundamentally possible with the Texan wing of the Republican party. As soon as we get a GOP that allows Rockefeller Republicans and other moderates influence and power within their party, then compromise and civility can be restored. Until then, not fighting back will ensure the destruction of the Democratic party.
This post was updated to include the paragraph starting with Brad DeLong as of 5:15 Oct. 10, 2003. I had wanted to use him in the initial draft, but I could not find the passage that I wanted to use but remembered that I had recently read.
Private Police forces
Phil Carter of the Intel Dump
has a good discussion about Fed-Ex being authorized to form its own private police force in order to gain access to better intelligence to protect its aircraft fleet. I agree with Phil that this is generally a good idea as he correctly points out, the vast majority of the critical infrastructure in the United States is owned, used and protected by private corporations. However I have a few concerns about private companies actually having their own police forces.
I know that officers in an authorized and deputized police force have to follow the state laws in the state that they have jurisdiction. However the badge and the enforcement authority that is behind it can be used negatively for such purposes as intimidating unions, covering up for crimes committed by company executives etc.
Phil has faith in the free market to correct those problems by installing the proper incentive systems by enough stakeholders will ensure that no "abuse of this power that could lead to a lawsuit -- or worse yet, a class action suit on behalf of a large injured class" will occur. He also argues that Fed-Ex bases its business on its public image. I can understand the theoretical justification for this viewpoint, as it makes sense. However I am more cynical and slightly less trusting of the idea that we already have perfect and free information flows that would allow for the appropriate corrective and/or warning signals to be sent.
I am suspicious of this private police force and its potential to be abused because of the principal-agent problem. Any agent, including the CEO, does not control the entire company. Instead he works for the principal (shareholders) and other stakeholders. The agent also controls some information flows and has his own interests at heart constrained by doing enough to not get fired. There are too many opportunities for short term gains present for there to be no abuse. And since there are fewer feedback mechanisms, only stock price, bad publicity and potential arrest, then in the public sector police forces (resignations, re-election campaigns, arrest, police work slowdowns, neighborhood groups causing hell, the ACLU) I think that the opportunity to cause mischief, intentional or unintentional is present to a greater degree than Phil Carter believes.
So that leaves us the problem of bringing good intelligence and security procedures to the private sector. Could we develop an effective system of targetted warnings, training for non-deputized security forces so that they know how to deal with sabotage and attacks better, and general private sector intelligence sharing. I would imagine most insurance companies would be willing to make this worthwhile for the clients to foot the bill as it reduces their risk. But what else can we do?
I am interested in Wesley Clark
as both a candidate for President and as an organization. I share Kos's
concern about the process of politics, although I have done 1/1,000,000th of what he has done to implement that vision. I find Wesley Clark interesting as he should be able to destroy Bush and the neo-con job Administration in the November election. I want his campaign to succeed.
However there are apparant structural problems that are starting to show up. Clark has been given a pass by the press in the first debate because he was only running for nine days. However as last night showed, he is being targeted by his rivals for the nomination and he has not done a great job of parrying the attacks and then playing jujitsu to go on the counter-offensive. His organization while strong, is slightly chaotic as his campaign manager Donnie Fowler resigned this week after he faced a massive demotion. His internet supporters are still backing him in very large numbers but a small segment of fairly crucial gatekeepers and nodal organizers are getting disenchanted. More details on how his campaign is organized can be found at the Clark Sphere
which is maintained by a Fowler ally.
The line that caught my attention was this one in which Donnie Fowler spoke to volunteer field coordinators:
""Fuck Little Rock, just keep doing what you are doing." Little Rock is the current campaign headquarters.
This is the difference between the Dean and Clark volunteer/netroots strategy and the part of the process that I am concerned about. Dean and his entire campaign are based on giving the volunteers in the field great power, the ability to initiate actions that they think fit the local circumstances. Sometimes they screw up, as happened last night on the Daily Show. The DC for Dean organizer got flummoxed on TV. But the volunteers have the power to screw up without worrying about getting screamed at. There is definately some command and control as exercised through Meet-Up organizational talking points such as letter writing, Dean Corps, Generation Dean, Visibility Day etc. But it is only exercised through broad patterns and guidelines. The volunteers are not micromanaged. They would not expect to hear their Burlington contact to say "Fuck Burlington, keep on doing what you are doing." They already are doing what they are doing.
It is looking like the Clark people want to run a traditional campaign with their grassroots as a tack-on extra accessory instead of using the grassroots as their way to build a new organization that can do more than just win the White House for the Democrats. This strategy may still work in winning the White House (I have some small doubts as I believe that the entire Democratic base needs to come out in record numbers) but I do not like the process involved.
USA Today on the Creative Class
has a massive cover article on the Creative Class and the young professional attraction movement that is occuring in a variety of larger, older cities that did not do particulary well in the past forty years. I thought it was a very good article and it encompasses the argument for a Creative Class based economic development strategy; we are young, don't consume that many city services, higher income than average, mobile, and very high human capital. The Creative Class as a whole is also the engine of economic growth in this country.
However, it brings out one very good critique and one that I agree with from Katz of the Brookings Institute who says that good cities also rely on the basics: ""Quality of our educational system, quality of life, tax rates, poverty."
I believe that the proper response to this critique is that the Creative Class introduces new economic activity into a region which raises the size of the tax base allowing for lower rates, more income produces more jobs which should lower poverty rates and improve the quality of life. As far as the educational system; I am not sure.
I found this article interesting, and worth a recap here. You should go read it.
Read and enjoy this comic
Everyone outraged about the Plame Affair needs to show this comic to people who may be buying into the President's Kool-Aide. This will produce laughs and realizations of the soft bigotry of low expectations that Bush thrives upon.
(link via CalPundit
Dean on the Daily Show
Dean made his first appearance on the Daily Show with John Stewart last night and I think that he came off reasonably well and human which is the main point of appearing on the show. The set-up was one of the correspondants went to a DC for Dean rally and made an ass out of himself (I greatly respect the patience of the Dean aides who had to deal with him) and also stole a mini-cam from NBC.
The gov was 'ambushed' coming out of the hotel, got to hold the camera, make a joke and look at the correspondant make an ass out of himself. The bit worked, and definately made Dean look human... I think that Dean and the rest of the Dems should be trying to book themselves on the Daily Show at least once a quarter becuase it is a good news program (what is my commentary on that statement... I know) and it reaches perspective liberal voters cheaply.
Two more Americans were killed
yesterday in Baghdad. This is bad news. However the truly bad news is where the attacks took place. The ambush did not occur in the middle class or upper class Sunni areas of the capital where there has been a strong network of guerilla activity.
Instead the attacks took place in Sadr City which is a million person large Shi'ite slum in Baghdad. It is also the main power base for Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. As I have noted earlier, Al-Sadr is the leader of the most militant and anti-occupation group of Shi'ites. However his militia has not been actively operating against Americans. It looks like they may just be beginning operations now.
If you're innocent, don't worry
I hate that line of reasoning which is brought up whenever one of our Constitutional and or common law rights are to be violated by a new law. I hate it when the speaker is on the right, and I especially hate it when the speaker is either a liberal or a liberterian because they should know their ideological belief system better than that.
Right now Move-On
, an organization that I belong to, and have given money to in the past, has an affadavit up on its site asking for people to declare their innocence. Right now it is a public relations stunt, and as such, I approve of it. However, I do not approve of forcing people who actually are suspects of committing a major felony to fundamentally entrap themselves. This is fundamentally the same BS fraud charge that Martha Stewart is being charged with. Alleghegations came up about her behavior, she proclaimed her innocence and now she gets hit with a securities fraud charge for delivering misleading information to her investors. People have the right to not incriminate themselves and proclaim their innocence.
I know that in the orginal version as proposed by Mark Kleiman
that the affadavit is a voluntary affadavit but if the senior administration officials refused to file such an affadavit they would be asked to resign by Bush. It is not a mandatory affadavit in the same way that being asked to take a Breathalyzer is not mandatory. I don't like that law either. Only investigate people when there is reasonable suspician.
I am conflicted though. I want this White House brought down to its knees, and a perjury/obstruction of justice sideshow to the national security endangerment scandal would be a useful adjunct to this process. However, I still want to have a slightly naive faith in the American way... process still matters to me
A good point about executive privilege
The good Roger Ailes
raises the point that the stupidity defense
that is being spun by Michael Isikoff
has a fatal flaw. It presumes that the President is out of the loop.
This has the normal problem of making Bush look incompetent and controlled by his advisors, but that is not the insight that Roger sees. Instead it destroys any claim towards executive privilege that White House Counsel Gonzales can legitimately make and expect to have upheld. If the President does not know about a leak nor was informed of it by his senior advisors, then what can he claim privilege to in order to ensure a free flow of advice to him. The stupidity and out of the loop defense states that Bush received no information from his advisors, therefore executive privilege is moot.
This will only matter if the Justice Department pushes the issue. It has the right to either accept or contest an executive privilege claim. I, along with Billmon
have little faith that the Justice Department will hotly pursue these leads. This is why I would prefer a special prosecutor. Failing that, I would like the Wilsons to file suit soon and seek rapid discovery in order to out the leakers.
Destroying the Reserves (PT.XXI)
South Knox Bubba
has a couple letters from Reserve and National Guard MPs who are complaining about the conditions in Iraq. In one letter, the writer has been mobilized without any downtime for at least ten months as of now, and it expects demobilization to occur no earlier than July, 2004. Another writer writes that his Reserve unit is on the bottom of the supply and respect chain in Iraq and that everyone who can will be getting out.... Just go and read these letters...
I am sorry for harping on this so frequently, but Bush truly is destroying this country's ability to protect itself in the future by decimating the Reserve Component.
I am working right now in an after school program that is designed to help lower income and lower skill girls catch up on their math and science skills. It is also a social program that encourages people to "pay it forward" by engaging in community service. Today we had two different service projects available for the girls to choose; one was to help bag food at a local food pantry and the other was to collect toys and clothes for a local refugee population that is primarily composed of Bosnian and Afgani Muslims.
One of the girls involved in the program said "I vote for the food pantry; I ain't dealing with any crazy murdering lunatic refugees... they love Bin Laden. "
The propaganda campaign has worked well, unfortunately.
My ZIP code is active
I was just perusing Open Secrets
and entered my zip code into the contribution list. I was expecting that my area of Pittsburgh would have had higher than average donations because it is a well organized neighborhood with above median income, but I was not expecting an 8x
greater than normal political contribution rate. I was surprised that the 10 biggest donations were to Republican causes because the ZIP code is part of the infamous People's Republic of the 14th Ward here in Pittsburgh.
I just found this interesting, and I encourage people to check it out.
Oh yeah, if you do a personal search, you find that the Mayor of Pittsburgh and the Governor of Pennyslvania have made no personal contributions to any federal candidates as of Q-2. Interesting
Going on the Offensive Pt. 2
We have the disparate elements that we need among the different candidates that the Democrats are running right now. Dean runs on empowerment and anger. Edwards runs on a moral vision of America. Clark has his New Patriotism which again is an empowerment and moral vision for America. The elements are there, now the Democrats have to go on the offensive.
The core elements of the offensive should be contrasting the Bush vision for America and the Democratic vision for America. It should be a positive comparison. It should take advantage of the fact that the Democratic vision is positive for families and for people just like you, whomever that 'you' is. It should emphasize facts such as this; Clinton and the Democrats
allowed states to have the flexibility to fund maternity and medical leaves while Bush repealed that rule. It should show that we value work as well as wealth.
There should be the serious question of fairness as in; is it fair for someone who is making $300,000 a year to be paying a lower effective marginal tax rate than someone who is making $30,000 a year. Americans love fairness. The offensive should be aimed to create the beginnings of a brand name that the Democratic Party is the party of fairness. People who work hard in the Democratic America will get ahead and be treated well in our society while under the Bush vision, people whose grandfathers worked hard will be ahead while everyone else will be stuck in place.
The Democrats need to make the idea of fairness central to their appeal. Explain why corporate crime is inherently unfair to the average American worker, explain why we believe in multi-lateral foreign policy, so that the world will want to pay their fair share of the costs proportional to their benefits versus the high costs that we are currently bearing in Iraq. Explain the Democratic platform in terms of fairness and contrast that to the Bush administration's unfairness. Do not enter the discussion of right and wrong as that is moral language that the Republicans usually score big on, concentrate on fair and unfair.
This is the offensive that the Democrats need to take. Emphasize a positive and responsible vision for America that treats its citizens fairly and honestly.
Going on the Offensive (Pt.1)
Orginally this was going to be a single post, it got long, so I am splitting it up
at Counterspin is documenting some of the stupidity that the California Democrats are engaging in. They are fighting to keep the car tax in place because they believe that the state needs the revenue. As a policy analyst, I agree with that position, the state of California needs more revenue right now in order to close the budget gap. However, the people of California disagree. They want lots of services without having to pay the needed taxes for them. Fine, the Democrats should allow the car tax to be repealed and then let Arnold propose a budget that is balanced without using new taxes. It can be done, as Governor Granholm of Michigan has shown. However, it will be painful.
The question remains for the Democrats as to how they go on the offensive. Right now I am engaged in a productive discussion with Mays
at Not Geniuses
regarding how the Democrats can win in 2004. My basic contention is that we have been having our asses kicked in a battle of the bases because the Republicans have been better able to motivate their base with what they deem a positive vision
of the world, however skewed it may be. The Democrat message has been a fairly negative and reactive message. It is what they will not do, or will do in opposition to the Republican party.
The majority of the Democrats running for President are guilty of running against Bush and the Republicans instead of running for a vision that they desire to implement and that they believe will improve the quality of life for all Americans. Dean has the largest degree of guilt. He built his campaign on captivating and focusing core Democratic anger on a number of issues, Iraq, taxes, social justice and directed it towards empowerment and ABB feelings. I believe the empowerment angle is critical, as it is a positive vision. However it is not enough.
John Edwards has had a strong positive vision for the United States that he has outlined well. He is casting himself in a quasi-populist, moralist role. The basic thrust is that this Adminstration values wealth and unearned income far more than it values honest hard work, and that is wrong. Hard, honest work is an American tradition and value system that produces what is good for all people. Therefore government is needed to be an honest and neutral broker between capital and work which means government needs to impose effective but minimal regulation to make sure that the economic game in the United States is fair. That is a positive vision that explains core American and Democratic values. Other candidates need to adapt that vision and expound upon it.
Now the question is how do we meld anger and vision into a positive vision statement that will win us the November election. We need anger to motivate the base. The hardest of hardcore political junkies readily believe and agree with the Kissinger via Krugman analysis of the GOP as a revolutionary regime. Kevin Drum, a radicalized moderate, notes this when he posted the 2000 Texas GOP party platform.
It is a radical document. However this is insider baseball to most swing voters. We need to appeal to their morality, to their sense of fairness and to their sense of hope. We need to empower them to feel that they can make a difference in this country. We need a combination of Dean's organization which allows people to be in positions to screw up but because they are allowed to screw up, they take care not to, and Edward's vision.
We need hope, we need anger, we need vision, we need dreams to win in 2004.
Army wants to go to Unit Rotation
The US Army has decided that it wants to go to a unit rotation system according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
The current policy is an individual rotation system where a person is assigned to a unit as an individual and knows that, barring emergencies, he will be there for a fixed amount of time until his next transfer. The current system is good for career and professional development as it allows younger soldiers to get the training that they need to develop. However it does have a slight cost on unit cohesion as you get news guys into the organization every month.
Unit rotation takes a basic unit such as a company, assembles all of the soldiers needed to fill out the organization and then puts that battalion together for three or four years. People can not rotate in or out unless there are casualties. This scheme makes sense from a transportation point of view and for unit cohesion. However the US tried this once in the late 80s and the men hated it because it killed their careers if they missed a particular school they wanted because they could not transfer.
As it is pointed out at Kos
turnout among Democrats was very poor compared to the turnout for Republicans and Indpedents. This is at least the second election in the past two years that the Democrats have gotten their asses handed to them because the smaller Republican base was energized and motivated while the Democratic base stayed home.
I believe that the 2004 election will primarily be a battle of the bases. If that is the case, then the Democrats are in trouble if they do not identify means of engaging the base and giving them a good reason to turn out. The base needs to be respected and the candidate needs to be able to make nods to the base without the press calling him a wild lefty socialist. We also need to change our assumption about the base and how it will come into play. It might be worthwhile to target more money and staff towards cultivating ties with organized groups in order to faciliate their turnout.
I also believe that the ability to turn out the Democratic base in record numbers is one of the critical keys towards electability. Right now Dean has the academics, liberals and gays as supporters, and these three groups are part of the base. Gephardt has a good deal of labor support. Edwards and Clark are running campaigns that assume the base will come along with a winner while Kerry has been trying to grab a chunk of the base but he has been outmaneuvered several times. Finally, Lieberman is running against a good chunk of the base. So I think that we need to rethink what electability means if we assume that next year is a battle of the bases.
Bombing in Baghdad
A car bomb
went off in an Iraqi police station. It killed at least eight police officers. We have not seen a successful car bombing attack since Al-Najaf. Again the bombing was aimed at collaborators to the American occupation. Is this a shift in tactics or a target of opportunity. If it is a shift in tactics, where the Iraqi resistance targets Iraqi collaborators, then US troops are slightly safer in the short term as they are not the prime targets but they are at higher risk long term because their eyes, ears and cultural interpreters on the ground are either dead, fighting for their lives, or scared of working with the US.
Finally, the bombing occurred in a Shia neighborhood. Does that have any additional significance? I do not know.
Red Sox steal Game 1
The Red Sox put together an impressive 5-2 victory against the NY Yankees last night. I was a little surprised at how effective Tim Wakefield was; I guess his knuckleball is either really on or really off with little in between and last night it was really on. Now the Sox have a good chance of winning tonight with Derek Lowe pitching and tomorrow with Pedro Martinez starting. Where will the fourth win come from?
Who hasn't been pissed off?
There are some big problems in Baghdad as there are large Shi'ite protests
occuring in Baghdad. The protests are occuring because the US arrested an iman for storing light weapons in a mosque.
Most likely the protesters are supporters of Al-Sadr, a young Shi'ite firebrand of a cleric. His primary support comes from the slums of Baghdad and he has been calling for active resistance against the American occupation.
So right now we have the Kurds extremely concerned wrt the Turks coming into the country, a large proportion of the Sunni Arab population being at best neutral in regards to the active counter insurgency and now a group of extremely pissed off Shi'ites who are organized and armed. Is the occupation really going that well that we can afford to piss off 70-80% of the country in under a week?
UPDATE 9:50am EST Oct. 9, 2003Juan Cole
confirms that the protesters are supporters of Al-Sadr. GO READ HIM if you want to learn more.
Down Arrow for Clark
This has been a bad week for Clark as his campaign is still trying to jell into a coherent and single-purposed whole. Clark has the difficult task of integrating two Internet organizations, Clinton/Gore political professionals, and his own personal views into a campaign. There would always be some infighting and tensions but quite a few people hoped that Clark would be able to take the excitement, self-direction and energy of his netroots and effectively meld them with a more traditional campaign that would allow for a two front approach to winning the nomination. The hope was that he would take the best of Dean's organizational approach, add Southern military experience and then defeat Bush.
That hope has been getting pounded this week. His campaign manager
resigned because the Netroots were losing out to the insiders. His chief blogger
has written a letter in which he said "It will be clear across the country that the campaign of Wesley Clark is nothing more than the Gore campaign with a better candidate - this will mean that activists, the people who can create a field organization that can win Iowa and New Hampshire, will know that this campaign is nothing more than a media creation."
The American public has seen and knows very little about General Clark. He has no political resume to run on, he has no "Success by Six," program to point to as a means of domestic policy experience, he has no bills upon which his name is attached to. The only thing that people will be familiar with is his campaign and the meta-story that it spins. As Josh Marshall
notes "The thing about campaigns is that they end up telling us something about the candidate. Getting a campaign up to speed in a few weeks is no simple task. If Clark is someone who will make a good president, he'll get this situation in hand."
This is what the American public has to judge Wesley Clark with.
Now can he pull it off?
has a post concerning Sen. Hatch's and Rep. Conyer's attempts to amend the Constitution to allow foriegn born, by naturalized citizens, be eligible for President. Hatch is doing this for Schwartznaegger while Conyers believes that Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan would make a great President.
I disagree with their efforts. The Constitution should only be changed when their is a dired need for change. The current rules exclude a very very small subset of people who would want to be President and the logic behind these rules is to ensure that the President has sole loyalties to the United States and not to a foreign power.
Recall a preview for 2004
There are quite a few reactions in the blogosphere concerning the California recall: some outright negative
, some slightly hopeful
or outright confused.
Well, we have already seen this in 2000 with the Bush administration. We got an illusion of machoism and a media created desire for change from the Clinton administration. We got an outright liar and a probable drunk receiving a free pass from the press while his opponenet was being slimed as a liar for things that he did not say. Gore got it for the Internet, Bustamante got it for MECHA.
We are going to see this entire strategy of flooding the airwaves with wall to wall advertisement with an empty suit mouthing the proper populist buzz words while his advisors consort and conspire to screw those who respond to the populism. Let's be aware of it.
(The populist buzz phrase angle I got from Arianna Huffington, Daily Show, Oct. 7, 2003. I just can not find the link right now)
Arnold as governor. All I can say is good luck to the people of California for going for the glitz and glitter of a twenty five million dollar marketing campaign. I think that he will fail miserably because no one in the Assembly owes him anything, and the Dems have strong majorities.
Failure at the UN
has a good take on the US pulling the UN resolution from the table because most likely it would be voted down. The question remains whether or not Bush went to the UN on the advice of the polls, the advice of his generals, or on the advice of the few adults in the Administration who actually want to do things right. I think that it is critical to identify his reasoning for going to the UN.
If he was going in order to shore up his polls, then he will have failed miserably. The American people are starting to have strong doubts
about George W. Bush's ability to effectively lead in Iraq. This poll was taken before the Kay report, before the general brush aside that the US has given the UN and the continuing casualties. The American people were looking for someone else to pick up the tab and for someone else to do the dying. The donor conference may get a couple of billion dollars and the only troops are 10,000 Turks who have massive targets painted on their backs by most of Iraq.
If he was going to the UN on the advice of the generals he again failed. They are worried, as I have blogged about
, about the effects of long deployments on retention and recruitment. They see a need for more troops, and they realize that the US has no more active duty formations available and the reserves are getting stretched thin. The only sources of new troops are the Iraqization policy and foreign troops. Again, Bush failed.
Now I will not address the adults argument because there are so few in the administration and they have little influence.
is reporting that Clark's campaign manager has resigned from the campaign due to an internal power struggle that he evidently lost with Fabiani and Klain over the role of the Draft Clark people in the campaign.
The Clark campaign has had a couple of weeks of being the new guy on the block and it has received favorable media. Now it will also see some of the process stories which are the bread and butter of campaigns. It received a favorable fundraising process story, now it is getting a negative organization story. The Clark campaign has the difficult task of integrating at least three distinct organizational cultures into a single entity headed by a man who has no national campaign experience. It will be an interesting task.
I recommend that you all head over to Daily Kos
to learn more in the near future.
Logic of WMDs
I blogged earlier today about the opportunity cost of going to war in Iraq, and now Kash at Angry Bear
blogs about the logic of going to war. The Kay report confirms that Iraq was contained by the United Nations' sanctions and inspections teams, and that Colin Powell fundamentally admits this fact. So why did we go to war again? I do not like the 300+ US lives and 225 billion dollar Bush re-election commercial as the production values and script sucks.
The Pennyslvania Senate race is a potential pick-up for the Democrats in 2004. Senator Arlen Specter is a tough candidate to beat, as he has been a consistent winner in Pennsylvania politics for the past two generations. He is widely popular and well-respected throughout the state because he can gain the institutional support of the Republican Party plus his Rockefellar Republican moderation does a good job of pulling swing voters to his tally.
However this year, he is facing a hard right wing challenge in the primary from Patrick Toomey,
a three term congressman from the Allentown region. Toomey is being supported by the Club for Growth and numerous other hard right organizations. The National Review will lend ideological support to Toomey as they have called Specter the ‘worst Republican Senator.’
Specter should be able to beat Toomey in the primary as Arlen currently has 8.6 million dollars
on hand as of the end of Q-2, 2003 (p.2 of report). Toomey only has 1.5 million dollars
on hand as of the end of Q-2, 2003 (p.3) Specter is in pretty good shape fundraising wise, although we will learn more next week when the fundraising is disclosed for the third quarter.
The primary challenge is getting nasty.
Both sides have begun running ads in selected regions across the state. I believe that Specter will win next April, but he will be wounded and he will be far less well-funded than he is right now.
This leads to an opportunity for the Democrats if they can field a strong candidate. This year, they are fielding Rep. Joe Hoeffel, a vetern Congressman from the eastern part of the state. He is not facing any significant primary challenges and he should be able to bring in enough money to remain competitive. He needs to raise some significant funds as he currently only has 300,000 in the bank from Q-2 (p.2 of report). He should be aided in his fundraising by the DSSC
as they have declared Pennsylvania to be a targeted state. If he can run a strong campaign against a damaged Specter, we should see a moderate Democrat balance Santorum out in the Pennsylvania delegation.
Slime and Defend
Via Suburban Guerilla
we have a report that is asking for the Justice Department to investigate and possibly charge Ambassador Wilson with disclosing state secrets. A Republican Congressman wants to flip the tables and distract us from the real crime: at least one, most likely two senior Administration officials blew the cover of a non-official cover secret agent to gain minor political revenge. The story is not about Wilson any more, except for the fact that if he and his wife decide to file a civil suit they can further the leak investigation. The story is about the White House blowing the cover of Valerie Plame.
Opportunity Costs and Iraq
World Net Daily
Forget that Bush lied about the reasons for putting our sons and daughters in harm's way in Iraq; and forget that he sent 140,000 troops there with bull's-eyes on their backs, then dared their attackers to "bring it on."
It was the height of irresponsibility to have done so in the middle of a war on al-Qaida, the real and proven threat to America. Bush diverted those troops and other resources – including intelligence assets, Arabic translators and hundreds of billions of tax dollars – from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border. And now they've regrouped and are as threatening as ever.
That's inexcusable, and Bush supporters with any intellectual honesty and concern for their own families' safety should be mad as hell about it – and that's coming from someone who voted for Bush.
The core of this statement is that the primary liberal anti-war critique, not this war at this time because we have inspections that are working, has been substantiated. The United States is the sole superpower, but our ability to project power thought vast is finite. All serious liberals agreed that Saddam Hussein was an evil man but most concluded that the war on Terror and the War in Iraq were at best tangentially related and that the US military was better used to secure Afganistan, hunt down OBL and the rest of the top cadres of Al-Quaeda and secondly provide a strong gloved fist in order to effectively negoatiate with North Korea. The opportunity cost of going to war in Iraq was too high was a primary argument against doing so. Yet we were called traitors for being right....
I love this country, but it frustrates me at times to have to deal with this crap.
Dollar is crashing
The Canadian dollar
is gaining value against the US dollar as the loonie is now worth $0.75 US. This will start placing some severe pressure on the Canadian raw material export economy as their goods will start getting more expensive for US consumers to purchase. I anticpate higher oil, wheat and timber prices in the next couple of months due to the weaker dollar. I also anticipate a slight increase in tourism to the US side of Niagara Falls as things are getting more expensive on the Canadian side.
Oh yeah, interest rates will, all else being equal, increase as we need to compensate other countries for the weakness in the dollar by providing a higher dollar denominated rate of return. Just what the economy needs.
A test for Legitimacy
As I blogged earlier, the US has been able to persuade the Turkish government to supply 10,000 troops, dependent on receiving the approval of the Turkish Parliament. The price for this troop contigent seemed to be several billion dollars in low interest loans and loan guarantees and a promise that the US would eliminate the PKK, a seperatist Kurdish party/guerilla group that is reforming itself in northern Iraq.
However this plan is hitting a major snag; the Iraqi Interim Governing Council has unaminously voted
against allowing Turkish troops to enter Iraqi territory no matter where the Turks would be garrisoned.
This presents a problem. The IGC is solely an advisory board, all of its actions can be overruled by Vice-Consul Bremer and now Condi Rice. However the US is trying to maintain a shimmer of Iraqization by relying on the IGC to present a friendly face for the occupation. If the US overrules the IGC it illuminates the powerlessness of the local players who have been willing to forgoe armed resistance to the United States in order to seek out a political solution. It will also alienate any other foreign country that may be willing to send troops as long as their is a short roadmap to Iraq becoming sovereign again. However if the US bows down to the IGC, Bush will have to activate several more National Guard brigades in the next two months.
What will Bush pursue; the national interest and activate the National Guard or his political self-interest by bringing the Turks in despite the fact that this may break the uneasy truce called by the Kurds and the Shiites against the US occupation.
Back to Nine
has officially dropped out of the race. I am glad that he is gone as he was sucking up money and shutting down support for other Dems in Florida. He contributed some good ideas and good attacks on Bush, but he was not contributing anything unique to the race. I hope that he holds his Senate Seat next year, although Steve Yellim
at Daily Kos thinks that the Democrats have a strong chance of running a strong candidate even if Graham does not run. I would just prefer the advantages of incumbency instead of a newcomer.
A good Court Ruling
An appeals court
ruled today that the FCC miscategorized the nature of broadband internet connections as a data service while it should have been categorized as a telecommunicaitons service. This is a good ruling for most consumers as it will force the FCC to write new rules that will treat broadband networks as if they are regular telephone networks. This means that the owners of the networks have to open their lines to competive leasing of space. This should mean some combination of improving service and lower prices.
The old rules treated the broadband internet connections like AT&T's long distance lines were treated pre-break-up. A local natural monopoly in the cable system could effectively shut out competition because they could keep the lines closed and use their franchise rights to restrict new lines coming into an area. Now under telecommunication rules, competition can lease space over the pre-exisiting networks and drive down prices.
I like this ruling.
has been disinvited to the future North Korean nuclear weapons talks by North Korea. These multi-lateral talks were viewed as a major diplomatic victory for Bush last summer but now they are going nowhere. There are very few means in which the United States can pressure North Korea to accept Japan back into the talks. The first and most direct is just outright bribery which will not go down well with either the US government or the Japanese government. The second is to reduce any more ties between North Korea and the outside world. This will not be that effective because North Korea has so few ties right now. Finally the military option is fundamentally off the table because the North Koreans have Seoul in their artillery's sights and that is an extremely effective deterrence. The North Koreans only need a couple more months and then they'll be able to test if they want to so I guess that they will delay until Christmas and test right after the New Years.
Baghdad is a mess right now. Soldiers are rioting, the Foriegn Ministry
is being attacked, frequent attacks are occuring against US soldiers, the Shi'ites are demonstrating against US forces. That perfect storm of events that would lead to the culmination of Iraqi nationalism is starting to boil up from the streets. What is going on over there? What are the actors doing?
Pentagon a proliferation threat
According to a GAO
report, the Pentagon has disposed of plenty of duel use materials and machines that could be used to produce biological weapons. The GAO also notes that these materials including centifuges and protective suits are available on the open market.
Another note we should make is that these are the types of materials and duel-use pieces of equipment that Bush is claiming constitutes the Iraqi WMD program, but the question remains that if these goods are so dangerous, why does the Pentagon dispose of old items on the open market.
Why I blog
I blog because I enjoy politics and current events. I also enjoying the opportunity that writing gives to me in that it forces me to slow my mind enough so that I can create order within my thoughts. I blog because I want a political system that respects the grass roots, including the new Creative Class grass roots that Dean has been able to mobilize.
I do not blog because I am convinced that blogging is a world changer. I do not blog because I believe that my little corner of the web will change the political discourse. I blog because I need a hobby and I like to write.
I wrote this post after I read Oliver Willis
and his comments on the incestous amplification of bloggerdom at the Blog-Con this weekend. Blogging should be for fun and for education, not to change the world; or at least not yet :)
Kerry and the Ketchup Fortune
There has been a belief out
there on the web that if need be John Kerry could be a self-financing candidate for President. I can see the attraction for the Democrats to be able to self-finance as the nominee will be facing $200,000,000 in attack ads from Bush between March and July. The basic idea behind the Kerry self-finance scheme is to tap into his wife's family fortune that is estimated to be worth ~$550-$600 million dollars.
. The FEC requires self-financing candidates to control the assets that they use to self-finance before the election season begins. John Kerry’s 2001 Senate disclosure
forms indicates that the vast majority of the assets which are held by his family are in the H. John Heinz III Marital Trust which means that the assets are in Theresa’s name as of 2001. John has only a couple of million dollars (to be found on page 2-6) that are in his name. He can use those assets to self-finance, but he can not tap the Heinz family fortune. It is illegal for Theresa Heinz to help her husband to finance his presidential campaign past a $2,000 donation. Now if Theresa wanted to run, and if she was constitutionally eligible to do so, she could use the family fortune, but not John.
I also would have severe doubts about a suggestion made in Matt Yglesia's comment section that Theresa uses her money in 'issue ads' that do not support or name a candidate. The 2002 Campaign Finance Reform Bill
prohibits coordination of non-candidate expenditures, specifically in Sec. 202 and 214. I believe that there is a prima facie
case that would be made if Theresa Heinz dropped $100,000,000 in issue ads that there would be coordination between her and her husband.
So lets get the facts right as they have been reported in the past
This is why Iraq is not a success
we have a great passage about the normalization of life in Iraq which is the story that the Administration wants us to hear, and then we have this passage:
My cousin and S. made arrangements on how the kids would get to school and back. They agreed that my cousin would walk them to school (which was two blocks away) and wait around to see when school would be out and what sort of security arrangements the administration had made.
This morning, at 8:30, they headed out to the school, the girls dressed in their uniforms, new pencils and deceptive erasers ready for use… my cousin, pistol at his waist, clutching each girl firmly by the hand, reached the school just as other parents and kids were getting there- school normally starts no later than 8 am, but today was an exception.
For little girls to walk two blocks to school you need an armed guard in the capital city. That is why the US has little Iraqi cooperation.
Power ubbes alles
at Skeptical Notion is a little surprised that the Republican Party closed down the Congressional Office for Technology Assessment. COTA used to be a small agency which provided scientific and engineering expertise to Congress that could then be used to formulate policy. It was similar in its independence and role to the Congressional Budget Office.
Morat blames the Heritage Institute and the medieavalists which is a valid critique. However I would also be willing to blame the fact that we are dealing with fundamentalist revolutionaries that came to power with Gingrich in the Class of ’94. They could not accept a 90% victory they needed to completely crush their competition and their opponents instead of win outright. Paul Krugman writes in Brad DeLong’s
favorite essay that the Republicans wanted to defund government sponsored economic research and data collection even thought:
”The irony is that much of this research provides support for Republican free market ideology. But the motivation for cutting the funding is easy enough to understand: If your doctrine depends on a view of the economy that is flatly contradicted by reality, then the fewer facts, the better.”
This is a world view that is independent of the current Bush administration, it is the world view of the movement conservatives. They were the ones who insisted on shutting down the government, they were the ones who insisted on going forward with impeachment even though it cost them the ’98 elections, it is they who are insisting on bankrupting the country. It is not medievalism per se instead it is fanactism. I do not believe that the Republican party as it is currently constituted has any per se against science, as long as that science further increases its power. This relationship towards science is the same relationship that the Republican party has towards free and fair elections, counting ballots, cracking down on corporate cheats, respecting women’s rights, upholding sexual harassment laws and most other issues. If doing so helps to gain more power, they will do what is right, if not, they invent reasons as to why it is not relevant.
Turks are in
is reporting that the Turkish government has approved a motion that it will send to Parliament to allow for the deployment of Turkish troops into Iraq. I am slightly curious as to how the vote will go in Parliament, but I am reasonably sure that it will pass.
I must congratulate the Bush administration for securing foreign troops, although I wonder what the cost will be. If the Turks send 2 brigades, that should allow most of the 101st to redeploy home come March/april with only a brigade or two of Americans needed to supplement the Turks to maintain the current OOB. I am also curious as to what the Kurdish reaction will be as one of the major concessions made by the US to Turkey was a committment to go after the PKK a Kurdish group.
Good news for Me, bad for you
As of this morning I am gainfully employed as a management analyst/community capability builder. So that means that I will have a whole lot less time for blogging during the work day, so my blogging levels will be a whole lot lower.
Clark comes in with a good score
Wesley Clark is claiming that he has been able to raise 3.5 million dollars
for the third quarter. That is an impressive sum and pace for the new candidate, although it appears that his average donation of $167 shows that he is more dependent on medium to large donors than the shallower but wider donor base taht Dean has been able to cultivate.
News my girlfriend would like
is reporting that Australian researchers have conducted limited and effective trials of reversible male hormonal birthcontrol.
If the side effects are less severe than the side effects that most women get from the Pill and if the prices are the same as condoms, then I would definately be willing to switch from my girlfriend being on the pill and us using condoms to just me being on a quarterly shot.
is linking to an OxBlog
analysis of a new poll that asks a very interesting question about the Democrats. Are people supporting the person or the title? This question is primarily relevant for Wesley Clark as a good portion of his supporters have been saying that General Clark provides instant credibility on national defense that Howard Dean or most of the other Democrats can not offer.
However, looking at these polling numbers
we see that Democratic primary voters do not respond well to General Clark, but they respond much better to Wesley Clark. So I believe that the Democratic primary voters do not believe that national security is a critical issue for the nominee to be able to address, at least compared to domestic issues.
I believe that if the economy continues to be stuck in first gear and Iraq continues to be a quagmire which will destroy the US Army reserve system next year then this preference for a domestic focus will be the correct one. However if there is improvement on either front, then Bush will be able to play to his advantages more. So what should we do? I do not know!
Good Polls in Allegheny County
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
is reporting that Dan Onorato has a significant lead over incumbent Republican Jim Roddey for the County Executive race.
Already the campaign is getting fairly nasty as Roddey is trying to paint Onortato as responsible for the City of Pittsburgh's problems. There is some truth to this charge in my opinion as Onorata was on city council during the 90s when they decided to defer problems into the future, however he has not been on the City Council since 1999 so the charge comes off weak and negative.
Now the question is how are the Democrats doing in the suburban districts. Right now they control 9 out of 15 seats on the County Council, they want to gain one more seat to form a veto-proof majority that they had in the first session of the home rule charter.
Get ready for the Draft
is doing his normal wonderful job of posting great examples of reality intersecting with desire concerning Iraq. The NY Times
starts off its report that the US Army believes that it can sustain the occupation in Iraq for as long as it desires. At first this contention is in defiance of what the CBO
reported a couple of weeks ago. However as you read further along, you see the assumption that the Army makes; it will be able to pull three divisions out of Iraq by next September. YEAH RIGHT, that is assuming massive corps level international deployment. By whom?
The other article that Billmon links to is more realistic. The Chicago Tribune
quotes General Sanchez saying "that it will be years before" forces can be drawndown. He is also warning against catastrophic attacks, spectacular attacks and more destruction ambushes by the resistance.
So assuming that the second article is closer to true than the first article we can make a couple of conclusions about our force structure. First the active duty forces are stretched thin. That is common knowledge. Secondly, if you are in a National Guard enhanced seperate brigade that has not been called up, you will be called up by next July. Third, the active and reserve components are too small to indefinately maintain 5 divisions in Iraq while still allowing the US to possess an ability to respond elsewhere in the world and maintain a strategic reserve.
The National Guard is already short recruits while the regular Army is doing okay, although it had to lower recruiting standards to achieve its FY03 goals. Next year the Army and the Guard will be having massive retention issues and probably large recruitment problems as units will rotate back and the veterens look for other alternatives.
So by March of 2005 the National Guard will be hollow and the US Army will be working its way there, destroying the progress and professionalism that took thirty years to build. So the only way to get enough troops into Iraq for a long term occupation is to start drafting. If Bush was concerned about doing Iraq right, the first draftees would be getting called on January 1 so that they would be available to go to Iraq by June 1, 2005.
Novak Pt. 2
Over at Atrios
there is a speculation as to who is setting Novak up to fall on his sword. The speculation is based upon Novak blowing the cover of the CIA front company of Brewster-Jennings & Associates.
All this speculation is good, however the easiest and most probable solution is that Novak did a tiny bit of digging at the FEC or at opensecrets.org and typed in the name of "Valerie Plame" "Valerie Wilson" "Valerie Plame Wilson" and then wrote the story about her. He forgot to follow up and verify the story. I suspect laziness and incompetence more than corruption in this case.
Wilson and Plame looking for Lawyers
of Watergate fame has been a strong critic of this administration. He previously called for Bush's impeachment
for fraud and making false statements to Congress in his State of the Union address. However, he is also an expert on crooked administrations and the way that the law can be applied to crooked administrations.
In a recent Salon article, where it is worth the one-day pass, John Dean advised that Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame initiate a civil action against the Bush administration and the likely leakers for emotional pain and suffering and the economic consquences of Mrs. Wilson's lost future earnings because her career as both an energy analyst and CIA operative has been compromised by their actions.
He says that the Watergate civil suit put a lot of pressure on the career prosecutors at the FBI and the Justice Department to get things right.
Well according to the Agonist
via the New York Post, the Wilson family is seeking out attorneys in order to file the suit against suspected leakers and the accessories after the fact. Hopefully this will put pressure on the Justice Department to do a thorough and deep investigation on this matter.
Former Iraqi soldiers are rioting in both Baghdad
They are pissed that they are not getting paid consistently after the army has been demobilized and the general employment situation.
A couple of days ago, Lt. Gen. Sanchez,
commnader of US and coalition ground forces in Iraq stated that the Iraqi resistance was getting "little bit more lethal, little bit more complex, little bit more sophisticated and in some cases a little bit more tenacious."
A good assumption as to why the resistance is getting more sophisticated and complex are that the quality of training is getting higher when compared to the early attacks in April. Some of that training is from the brutal Darwinian
(I saw this expression at Billmon) process of combat as the dumb attackers have a much higher probability of dying then the smart ones. It also has to do with experience of the resistance, they can see what is working and not working and adapt to that. Finally, as Steve Gilliard
frequently notes, the Iraqi resistance is using pretty standard reasonably complicated infantry tactics that are capable of holding off and repulsing the combined arms attacks of US mechanized infantry. This implies that there are some soldiers already active in the resistance. If the rest of the dissolved Iraqi Army or a good chunk of it decides to actively seek redress of its grievences through violent means, the US is in trouble.
A little more piling on
This is not too important but the hed of the Minnesota Republican Committee is being indicted
for campaign finance violations. Yeah this is minor league stuff compared to what is going on the national and California stage but it is enjoyable to watch. Additionally Bush wants to put Minnesota into the battleground state column next year and a weaker state party makes Minnesota a safer state for the Democrats.
Why we need to properly fund government
All of the states are in a fiscal crisis, although some states like Vermont, have been able to weather the storm far better than Alabama or California because they have more flexibility and better management in place. The past two years have seen some painful cuts and tax increases but the worst effects have been covered by the use of one-time non-recurring revenues and reserves.
However most states are out of these reserves. Taxes need to be raised or services and spending needs to be cut. Those are the two choices states have in balancing their budgets. Tough decisions need to be made. California has decided to engage in a flight of fancy and unseriousness while Alabama has decided that it can ignore its basic needs as it voted against a tax reform and increase package a couple of weeks ago.
is the place to go to check out what a state that decides that all taxes for any reason are evil will look like. Do we really want this country to look like Alabama?
I really can not believe this but John Derbyshire
at the National Review
has a good mini-post concerning strange patterns in seaborne piracy and the potential terror threat against the US and the world economic system.
The traditional pattern for 20th century pirates have been that they operate in straits, restricted waters, and cluttered waters where the major navies of the world do not operate in any great numbers. Their typical M.O. is to capture the ship, loot any valuables, maybe bring smaller ships into port, repaint, redo the superstructure and then sell the ship. However, Derbyshire is linking to an Economist article that is stating that this pattern is changing. Ships are being taken over, and then the pirates leave after several hours, taking very little with them.
I believe that Derbyshire could be on the right track. There are plenty of maritime chokepoints of which canal gates are the most vulnerable and valuable. A 10,000 ton merchie loaded with high explosives would shut traffic through Suez for months. Or the same merchie doing 17 knots straight into an off-shore oil distribution platform near Dharhan could cause an economic and environomental catastrophe while destablizing the Saudi regime by depriving them of their cash flow.
The proper means of suppressing piracy is to have the world's navies deploy lots of light combatants and patrol boats to cover the straits and restricted waters. This is primarily a mission that the US Coast Guard would be good at with only minimal US Navy support.
Shi'ites flexing their muscles
are demanding that they be able to elect their own constitutional convention defying the Bush prescription of 'constitution, elections, sovereignity.' Right now SCIRI, the civilian Shia party which controls the Badr Brigades, is demanding that they elect their own convention. This is part of a Shia strategy of maintaining an uneasy truce with the United States because they realize that if they are allowed to vote, the Shias will dominate the country for the next couple of generations because they are 60% of the population. However ifthe US refuses to allow a vote, the truce is off.
Being Responsible is not popular
outlines his nightmare fiscal scenario; a Democratic victory where the operating assumption is that the country does not care about deficits and therefore goes on a massiev spending binge on social programs without raising taxes.
I do not fear this too much as all of the Dems with the exception of Kucinich have indicated that they will be raising some taxes, repealing parts of the irresponsible Bush tax cuts and otherwise behaving relatively responsibly at least compared to Bush. However this does illustrate the power of institutional building as the Republican goal of shrinking the government through starvation will work. They get to be irresponsible in cutting taxes too far, the Dems take the political heat (see Clinton 1993 budget and the 1994 Republican Revolution) and then the GOP gets back into power again to again be irresponsible.
Shia Kurd Alliance
A little useful nugget was contained in this Washington Post
article. It was mainly concerned with doing a round-up of the news in Iraq including a rally for the 40th day since the assassination in Najaf. The security for the rally was handled by the Badr Brigade, uniformed Iraqi police (approved by the US) and uniformed Kurdish peshmerga.
The Badr brigade and the peshmerga are unofficial militias which shows that the US does not control the situation on the ground as much as one would hope. More significantly the Kurds are there only on the invitation of the Shi'ites. This is an indication of a fairly strong alliance between these two groups.
I also think that the US should see that the Shias will aid the Kurds if and when the Turks arrive in Iraq. I also believe that this is a warning signal against the US cracking down on the Kurdish PKK party in northern Iraq.
(Link via Lunaville
Is the leaker a Terrorist?
UPDATE: 4:55pm EST October 3, 2003
I am retracting this story as the Interesting Times is also retracting this post as the section of the Patriot Act which this post referred to was stripped from the actual law while the Patriot Act was still a bill before Congress. I apologize and take all responsibility for this error. I am not having a good day here.
Chris over at Interesting Times
thinks that a case can be made that whomever leaked Valerie Plame's name is violating at least two laws. The first one is the 1982 law which made leaking the name of a covert operative illegal. However, the second law is the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT act defines terrorism as intimidating or retaliating against the government or people who are working for the government for their government work. Well that looks like the case that this leak was aimed for retaliation.
What is that phrase about a petard now.......
Treating the Troops right
Today we are seeing two examples of how to treat the troops and their effects on morale. The first example is a positive example. Previously the military required that wounded personal who have been evacuated out of the war zone pay back their meal per diem of $8.10.
Now as long as a person is in the hospital, they are allowed to keep the per diem. It is double dipping, but it is minor double dipping for people who have far bigger concerns than trying to scam the government $8.10 a day.
The second is a negative. The Boston Globe
is reporting that soldiers from Massachusetts units were told that the military had no available flights out to either Germany or the United States while they were on leave. Therefore their commander told them to purchase non-refundable commercial tickets. Well their leave and therefore their tickets got cancelled and the soldiers are out 480,000 bucks between them all. Great way to improve morale.
Potential Conservative Talking Point #442
Right now the conservative enablers of the Bush Administration are coming out with new talking points that are seeking to minimize the damage to our intelligence networks and danger to all of America that they have done by leaking the name and cover of Valerie Plame. They have come up with some doozies...
Well I am proposing another point that I think we'll here about in a couple of days
TP 442: The CIA leaked the name and the cover of its own agent in order for her photograph to get into the newspapers.
Let me explain my reasoning here: A couple of weeks ago, the CIA hired actress Jennifer Gardner
to appear in several recruiting videos. This move resulted in a lot of laughter throughout the blogosphere and the land. They knew months in advance that they would have a PR problem so they decided to leak a name to prove that hotties do work at the CIA. Enter Valerie Plame. Evidently Valerie Plame has "Bond-girl looks
See that solves everything... now go agitate for another tax cut
sorry for the throwaway post, I could not help it
The Left Coaster
is reporting that Bob Graham is planning to stay in the race until either Iowa or South Caralina. I am sorry for the post in which I passed along the article in which it said Graham was dropping out.
The tide is turning
is posting the NY Times/CBS poll in which the majority of Americans are said to express distrust of Bush on foreign policy, the economy and the environment. Steve is correct in that we in the blogosphere are information junkies so what is common knowledge here is uncommon knowledge in reality. Matthew Yglesias
makes the same point slight point slightly more eloquently.
What we need is for one of the leading Democrtatic Presidential candidates to start going on the stump with a fairly complicated speech that ties everything together....get people used to thinking that Bush is fundamentally dishonest as evidenced by Clear Skies and Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Tax Cut, and also fundamentally incompetent by looking at the above. Start banging the drum and people will start listening. And it won't hurt that candidate's poll ratings.
Are they crazy?
Congress is considering yet another 500 billion dollars in tax cuts that they want Bush to sign by Christmas. Max Speaks
has some more details on the overall analysis. Basically the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities is banging their head against the wall as they are looking at the long term budget trends and going "Do we want to make Argentina look like a paragon of financial virtue? This proposal will do that."
notes in a link to the New York Times story, that the proposed tax cut creates a massive perverse incentive for companies to relocate their production overseas.
What are they thinking is my only question!
Congratulate Senator Spectar
has gone off the reseveration in an act of both political courage and probable political self-preservation. According to the Left Coaster
, Spectar is calling for Ashcroft to recuse himself from any investigation. The question now goes to whom should replace Ashcroft, and an independent prosecutor is a probable alternative.
I want to congratulate my Senator for this act of courage as he will be facing the full retaliation that Karl Rove can muster. It will be a massive attack, most likely through the funding of the arch conservative primary challenger, Patrick Toomey. I want Arlen Spectar to be able to win the primary election. I also want him to be decisively defeated by a Democrat in the fall, but Republicans need to feel that it is to their advantage to do what is right instead of what Rove wants because the retaliation will not be too effective.
Graham is out
Via the Left Coaster
, Fox News
is reporting the Bob Graham will be dropping out of the Presidential race tomorrow.
I am happy that he is taking an honest look at reality and realizing that he is adding no value to the Democratic field at this time and also that there is no realistic path to which he could win the Democratic nomination. I applaud his courage and willingness to call a lie a lie when Bush uttered his nonsense to get his war. Now I encourage us to support Bob Graham as he begins to defend his Senate seat.
Good envrionmental news
is claiming that it is capable of mass producing cost competitive hyrbid sedans which get at least eighty miles a gallon. Also, a French company
believes that it can make solar cells that are cost competitive with any other form of electrical production.
This is good news for the environment because it will allow us for to meet Kyoto targets without noticing it. It has long been an article of derision among some conservatives that Kyoto and other environmental regulations would kill the economy. These two technological changes, if they pan out as two large companies are willing to bet a significant sum of their own money on them panning out, destroys that argument.
Liberal Validation Day
I have to steal that phrase from Trapper John over at Kos's comments
We are now finding out that the official Kay report is that there are no significant WMDs
, we have the father of Micheal Spann (the CIA agent killed in the prison uprising at Mazar Al Sharif) saying that the act of leaking an agent's cover is "treason"
has a great list of other things to celebrate.
CNBC just had David Gergen on and he is saying that plenty of people in the Reagan admininstration "far better people" quit/resigned over far smaller crimes than these... then he brought up North Korea as a probable crisis that Bush can not handle because he pissed away national unity, the military and international support.... Even the Republicans are feeling safe enough to attack Bush.
These are the things that liberals have been saying for the past six to nine months while we have been called anti-Americans, traitors and defeatists.
My take on the Cattle Call
I will be posting these thoughts over at the Daily Kos Cattle Call
I believe that this week will primarily be determined on the basis of last week’s buzz and momemtum. I do not believe that there will be much new news that will be specifically beneficial or detrimental to any of the ten Democrats who are running for office. Their news and their oxygen is being doubly drowned out by California and the Treason Scandal.
I also believe that if Davis and or Bustamante are able to win this week all of the Democrats will be able to run with the meme that they are strong and getting stronger. A Davis defeat and an Ah-nold victory would be negatively spun, especially as many of the Presidential candidates have campaigned for the ‘No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante’ platform.
Finally, I am tired of the comparisons of Bush’s 50 million dollar Q-3 haul to any of the individual Democrats’ hauls. If you combine the predicted hauls, the Dems will have brought in around 35-38 million dollars, which is not that bad of a showing.
1) Dean --- same ---He will have outraised his closest opponent by 2.5 or 3 to 1. He has a slight down arrow in not being able to meet his orginal fundraising goals but that number is still impressive. He hit his 450,000 e-mail list goal along with 120,000 Meet-Up members. He has the organization and the money to be the last man standing if the Democratic primary gets messy.
2) Clark --- same --- His fundraising will be low but that is only because he has been in the race for two weeks. However he should have enough money to beat at least one of the top five Q-2 fundraisers. He had a damm good interview with Talking Points Memo
where he is displaying some great policy chops and intellect.
3) Gephardt --- down --- Reasonable fundraising levels, however his campaign has taken a pretty good hit in not getting the rapid AFL-CIO
endorsement that he was counting on. He is still having trouble in Iowa according to the latest polls and he is in trouble with the February 2cd states. His path to victory has gotten a whole lot harder than it was three months ago.
4) Edwards --- Big Up --- His fundraising is a worry, although his apparent strategy of getting more face time is paying off as he is moving in the polls in South Carolina.
5) Kerry ---Down --- Fundraising was decent but not great, especially compared to Dean. He was the apparent front runner for a while, but he still has not reacted nimbly enough to recover from the 1-2 punch of Dean, Clark. I like him, I just do not see how he will be able to win the nomination.
6) Lieberman --- Even --- His fundraising is stagnant, especially given that his strategy was to ride his name recognition to Establishment money to dominance. However he is wisely getting in on the pig-pile concerning the Plame Affair. I am having problems seeing a realistic strategy for him to win.
7) Kucinich --- Up --- For a fringe candidate, his fundraising was pretty good (1.5 million dollars for Q-3) he’ll be around for as long as wishes to be around.
8) Graham --- Down --- fundraising is horrendous, no poll recognition anywhere. He is thinking of making a one state stand in Iowa hoping that a respectable showing there however unlikely could give him enough momemtum to get to South Carolina.
9) Mosely Braun/ Sharpton EVEN