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Spencer Blog Archives 10-03

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ONLY THE RNC... 10-31-03

could think that Republicans are owed a"right of review" for historical accuracy of a miniseries on the life of the Reagans.

No matter how fictionalized parts of it are, I suspect it's much more accurate on the whole than that 9/11 fantasy docudrama that was on Showtime a while back.

Oh yeah, new GYWO as well.

[Both links via Atrios]

Update:Here's my last blog post about the Showtime docudrama."DC 9/11: Time of Crisis" aired in September.

Here's just a bit of the review of it from the WaPo (click through for the link):

Simultaneously dull and disgraceful,"DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," a new Showtime movie, uses the tragic attack on America in 2001 as the basis for a reelection campaign movie on behalf of George W. Bush.

The film is an insult to those who perished in the attacks and, really, an insult to America generally, but it's so insanely boring that people aren't likely to become very outraged over it. Written by conservative Republican Lionel Chetwynd, who admits to a bias in Bush's favor, the film -- premiering on Showtime tomorrow night at 8 -- is primitive propaganda that portrays Bush as the noblest hero since Mighty Mouse.

Strangely enough, the RNC didn't say a thing about"historical accuracy" when this propagandistic love letter to W was released. I wonder why?

Posted by Tom at 9:08 p.m. CSTComment


Holy cow.

The Bush administration took six months to evaluate Gov. Gray Davis' emergency request last spring for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas of Southern California.

The request was finally denied Oct. 24, only hours before wildfires roared out of control in what has become the largest fire disaster in California history.

Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs), a leader in the effort to get federal assistance for fire prevention, questioned Thursday why the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not rule sooner.

"FEMA's decision was wrong," Bono said."The timing couldn't have been worse.... We knew this disaster was going to happen with certainty. It was only a matter of when, and we were trying to beat the clock with removing the dead trees."

Can you imagine what we'd be hearing if Clinton's administration had done this? I know we certainly wouldn't be hearing anything like this:

"It's almost classic government," Lewis said in an interview outside the House chamber."When you get below the third level in a bureaucracy, they don't believe it's going to happen until they see a fire rolling.... It's not a Democratic or Republican problem. It's a government problem."
Right. Sure. You bet.

I hope Bush isn't thinking he's got a shot in California next year.

He just lost it.

Posted by Tom at 2:57 p.m. CSTComment


I think Josh is getting warmer on who forged the Niger documents. Sounds like it was the Italian intelligence service to me -- working at the behest of Bush's erstwhile ally Silvio Berlusconi:

The US and UK start a major roll-out on the nuclear claims. But the response is generally disappointing. There’s major push-back from the IAEA and, secretly in the US, from the CIA.

It was precisely at this moment (in the last days of September and the first of October) that the advocates of the Niger story were most in need of some new evidence. And it was precisely at this moment when the new evidence --- at first seemingly incontrovertible --- popped up in Rome.

And the day after the reporter gets the docs the Editor-in-Chief of her magazine instructs her to take them to the American Embassy.

And remember too that it wasn’t publicly known at the time that Niger was the country in question.

BTW, the magazine in question is owned by Berlusconi. The White House needed evidence and -- voila! -- Berlusconi provided it for them.

Is it possible that the White House knew it was fraudulent? Did they request some cooked evidence from Berlusconi?

I don't know of course. I'm just asking what I think are reasonable questions.

You know, the kind of stuff the press stopped doing a couple of years ago.

Posted by Tom at 1:18 p.m. CSTComment

QUITE A TRICK 10-31-03

Paul Krugman tells us that yesterday's GDP growth could be a turning point for the economy -- or not. However, he notes, the growth comes almost entirely from consumer debt. I'm not sure that's so good.

If the growth continues, does it vindicate Bush's policies? Here's Krugman's answer:

To put it more bluntly: it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off.

Posted by Tom at 8:23 a.m. CSTComment


is apparently alive and well in the Bush administration.

This story is quite eye-opening. Admittedly, we all knew the fix was in regarding the no bid Iraq contracts but this just confirms that it may be even worse than we thought it was, doesn't it?

The untold billions of our tax dollars flowing to Cheney's Halliburton 24-7 is getting increasingly creepy, isn't it?

You'd think that such an obvious example of corruption on the part of the president and vice president would elicit widespread outrage among Americans, wouldn't you?

I guess not. I'm trying to decide if it's simply because we're so cynical these days we expect it or if Americans just don't care that their government is bought and paid for by millions of dollars in campaign donations.

Personally, I think it's one helluva sorry comment on our political system, our media, and the morals of the electorate that this sort of thing is even tolerated.

Posted by Tom at 10:17 p.m. CSTComment


l'affaire Atrios:

Of course, Luskin could sue Atrios for Atrios's own comments, for example, that Atrios suggested that Luskin was a stalker. But read in context, Atrios' post is (a) not an allegation of actual criminal behavior, and (b) is a protected statement of satire and opinion. He is making fun of Luskin's own comparison of himself as someone who stalks Paul Krugman. Luskin's argument that Atrios has libeled him shouldn't survive a motion for summary judgment. Of course, the real problem is that getting to that point will cost Atrios money to defend himself.

Luskin should be ashamed of himself for having any part in sending this letter. It's a disservice to the blogging community, and inconsistent with respect for freedom of expression.

What's most upsetting is that he is employing a frivolous lawsuit in order to punish someone for exercising their First Amendment rights and that he is piggybacking an abusive subpoena to expose Atrios' identity. So he's not only engaged in frivolous litigation (aren't conservatives against frivolous lawsuits?), but also an abuse of the discovery process (aren't conservatives opposed to the dirty tricks of trial lawyers?). I guess Luskin is only opposed to frivolous lawsuits by other people, and dirty tricks by lawyers who are not representing him.

That's a protected statement of opinion too, by the way.

I wonder if Luskin's going to have any shred of a reputation left when he's done making a fool of himself. It's apparent that he's certainly lost the respect of about every blogger on the planet now.

I just added Balkin's blog to the blogroll too by the way.

Posted by Tom at 12:57 p.m. CSTComment

GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S 1984 10-30-03

If this continues, George W. Bush will be re-elected.

As I've said before, this administration is following Reagan's 1984 strategy. They've been waiting for the economy to cyclically rebound (independently of their economic policies) and plan to use that as the launchpad for re-election.

That strategy, if this recovery holds up, has apparently paid off.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 a.m. CSTComment


Apparently, the career folks at the FBI are quite serious about the investigation of the Wilson-Plame scandal. The fact the career folks have apparently asked Ashcroft to appoint a special prosecutor or recuse himself sounds like they've found something to me.

The White House wants this to end soon. However, it doesn't sound like it's going to be wrapped up any time soon. As Mark Kleiman puts it:

But I'm not so sure that keeping it in-house will turn out to be any better. The FBI and the Criminal Division have a great deal of face to lose by coming up dry. And if they don't come up dry -- if they identify the sources of the information -- then a failure to prosecute is almost unthinkable. I'm betting that this does"go on into the election year," and that it will be in the news"forever," if"forever" is defined as"through Election Day."

The story quotes Charles Schumer as saying that several of his Republican colleagues told him privately that he was right to be pushing for a special counsel. If true, that's not good news for Bush.

Stay tuned folks. This could still get pretty interesting.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 a.m. CSTComment


Well, Luskin's law firm is apparently Hanify & King in Boston. And the guy who signed the threatening letter is on their staff, Jeffery J. Upton. His picture and bio make it clear that he's on the low end of the totem pole there. I suspect none of the folks higher up in the firm wanted anything to do with this.

Isn't it astonishing that Republicans who so frequently decry frivolous lawsuits are usually the first to threaten such lawsuits?

With the sort of beating Luskin is taking on the internet today from folks on both sides of the political spectrum, I'd expect him to back off soon on this.

And, if he doesn't, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if NRO drops him -- and soon.

After all, this is pretty embarrassing for them as well.

Update: When I put this post up, I thought I'd found something new. I didn't realize at the time that Kos had put this information up a few hours earlier. Oh well.

BTW, if you want to learn more about Don Luskin, go read his resume here. Despite all my years of higher education, in no way do I think someone has to go to college to be accomplished and be somebody (Luskin went to Yale for one year and that's it for his higher education). Of course, there is something amusing about someone calling their resume a curriculum vitae when all it's got on it involving any sort of curriculum is a vague reference to making it through a freshman year at Yale.

However, I can't help but mention that his resume certainly indicates that Luskin sure does change jobs a lot -- every couple of years as a matter of fact. I can't help but wonder if he's one of those folks f that lucky class who doesn't really need to work. I mean, heck, he got into George W's alma mater of Yale and about half of the folks who get into Ivy League schools these days get in because of their familial connections. I've met quite a few folks like this in my life.

Furthermore, as someone who often studies folks of this social class in his historical work, I can't help but wonder if Luskin's a member of the same privileged social class as W. He's started a couple of businesses just in the last five years. After the failure of a business, most of us wouldn't have the resources to just start one up right away. That's something folks with independent wealth -- or wealthy backers -- can do. That's the sort of thing W did in the 1980s while Poppy was vice president.

Honestly, it's really none of my business but, since this information is readily available, I couldn't help but say a little about it. I've seen this sort of work history many times in my own research after all.

But this is just idle speculation. I'll stop it now.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 p.m. CSTComment


To learn more about this go here, here, and here.

Holy cow. What a nimrod!

Surely he's embarrassed about this by now, right?

Posted by Tom at 7:00 p.m. CSTComment


Atrios and Kevin ask this interesting question today.

Surely not, right?

After all, we claimed we were going to improve life for the average Iraqi.

We certainly haven't done that yet.

Also, if we really cut and run, what's to stop Saddam from returning to power?

Posted by Tom at 12:36 p.m. CSTComment


as who was responsible for the"Mission Accomplished" banner displayed during his embarrassing publicity stunt on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln?

CalPundit wonders aloud about this and so does Josh Marshall.

Folks I think the answer is simple. This president's ego is so large that he won't even admit that it was an obvious mistake back in April to claim that"all of the hard stuff in Iraq is over."

I mean, heck folks, that's the same reason these guys went through the White House website and changed" combat operations" to"major combat operations" a couple of months ago.

These guys can never want to admit they've been wrong -- and, astonishingly enough, they've been wrong about damn-near everything the last three years: the economy, the deficit, the war in Iraq, the threat posed by terrorists hijacking airplanes in 2001, etc.

We're now seeing nearly daily occurrences of the arrogant folks who make up the White House's"alternate reality political spin machine" bumping into the rather rude realities of the universe the rest of us live in.

It's getting a bit surreal, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 11:59 a.m. CSTComment


Here's Gene's column for the week!

Gene Lyons
October 29, 2003

The Doctor is In; Pundits Psychoanalyze Clark

Last month, this column predicted that the GOP response to Gen. Wesley Clark's presidential candidacy would be to turn him into the Democratic equivalent of Gen. Jack D. Ripper, the megalomaniacal crackpot in the classic film"Dr. Strangelove." Portraying Clark as mad with ambition appeared to be the only way to deal with his otherwise perfect political resume--first in his class at West Point, Rhodes Scholar, a Purple Heart and Silver Star for valor in Vietnam, NATO Supreme Commander, all that.

Besides, the outlines of the strategy were already visible. It clearly behooves Republicans to take him out now. Clark as the Democratic nominee would make Bush's re-election unlikely. Early profiles by members of what ABCNews.com's The Note calls"The Gang of 500" bristled with anonymous quotes from Pentagon detractors depicting Clark as, in Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's words,"too weird for prime time." Note the TV metaphor. Cohen wondered if"the personal qualities that bothered his [nameless] critics would be intolerable in a president. We like our presidents as we like our morning TV hosts--comfy."

"In an institution filled with ambitious men," wrote Post reporter Lois Romano more recently,"some viewed Clark as over the top, someone who would do or say anything to get ahead-and get his way." Now to a rational mind, accusing a West Point valedictorian, four-star general and presidential candidate of ambition is about as newsworthy as charging a golden retriever with an unseemly zeal for chasing tennis balls.

If the phrase"would do or say anything" sounds familiar, that's because it comes directly out of the GOP playbook. The last Democrat depicted as crazed with ambition was Al Gore, who never figured out how to counter a barrage of false accusations, such as the absurd canard that he claimed he'd"invented the internet," ceaselessly reiterated by Washington pundits taking dictation from the Republican National Committee.

Although unconscious, there's a subtly royalist overtone to such comments. George W. Bush, see, doesn't have to be a striver. No valedictorian he, Bush knows how to play the role of relaxed TV host/president precisely because as a humble, everyday American aristocrat he was born to it. Hence his accomplishments in life needn't make you, the humble voter or journalism major, feel inferior.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, albeit a fine reporter not beloved by the Bush White House, once gave a revealing explanation of the press's visceral antipathy to Gore on CNN's"Reliable Sources." Gore, Milbank said,"has been disliked all along and it was because he gives a sense that he's better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he's better than us--he's probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage."

With Bush currently scolding the press for reporting the ongoing catastrophe in Iraq, Milbank may wish to revise his comments. Nevertheless, the importance of sheer, unadulterated envy in the media's eager acceptance of the whisper campaign against Clark almost can't be overstated. Romano's Washington Post profile depicted his response to anonymous detractors as downright pathological.

"In interviews," she wrote, Clark"displayed the outward calm of a man who cannot bear to convey doubt or failure." [my italics] Actually, he sounded more exasperated to me."How do you think I could have succeeded in the military if every-body didn't like me? It's impossible," he said."Do you realize I was the first person promoted to full colonel in my entire year group of 2,000 officers? I was the only one selected. Do you realize that?...Do you realize I was the only one of my West Point class picked to command a brigade when I was picked?...I was the first person picked for brigadier general. You have to balance this out...A lot of people love me."

Now I doubt that Clark volunteered that some people love him without first being told others hate him. (The ellipses are Romano's.) Nevertheless, the doctor was definitely IN at the Washington Post, not to mention at The New Republic, the allegedly"liberal" magazine where one Adam Kushner opined that Clark's response to anonymous slurs made him appear"self-assured to the point of delusion."

Delusion, mind you, a psychiatric term denoting dogged belief in false ideas. Unless Clark made up the facts, it's a callow, ugly smear. The problem is that nobody but Clark himself can deal with it, and preferably on national TV. During a recent Democratic debate, he referred to a rival general's unspecified slurs on his" character and integrity" as sheer"McCarthyism." But he may need to confront symbolism with symbolism and go all Ollie North on them, treating the whispers as an insult to his patriotism, and standing in front of a flag.

Here we go again folks. The all-knowing cool kid Heathers of the Washington press corps are going to attempt to give Wesley Clark the Al Gore treatment.

Isn't it infuriating that there really are idiots out there who really believe all that claptrap about the"liberal media?"

Posted by Tom at 11:18 a.m. CSTComment


Here's the latest from David Corn on the Wilson-Plame scandal.

Isn't it amazing that what is easily the worst scandal since Watergate is apparently going to run out of steam because the media won't pursue it?

Liberal media my, er, hind foot.

The most interesting part of this scandal is that several members of the media know exactly who the leakers are because they were called by them.

This scandal is one of those interesting moments when you wonder just what a source would have to do for a member of the media to divulge them. These guys have come awfully close to committing treason. They have also imperiled national security and endangered the lives of scores of people.

Yet the media is still protecting them.

That's interesting, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 10:29 a.m. CSTComment

GREAT 10-29-03

“If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You’re dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”
Ladies and Gentleman, the unending wisdom of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 a.m. CSTComment