Saturday, January 31, 2004

Can't make up your mind which candidate to support? This handy quiz matches your preferences with the candidates, including President Bush. If you're a liberal, don't be surprised if you find the software matching you with...Al Sharpton.
AOL Presidential Match Main

Friday, January 30, 2004

It depends what you mean by the word "imminent." Borrowing a playbook from Bill Clinton's sophistry during Monicagate, the Administration is denying that it ever claimed that Iraq posed an "imminent" threat during the run-up to war. Why bother to find out how the Administration got it so wrong about WMD in Iraq when you can deny that you made that the main selling point of the war? The Center for American Progress digs up the quotes that show what the Administration actually claimed and how it ignored evidence that its WMD claims were weak. Center for American Progress - The Progress Report - Page

The dish on Democratic wives. The witty new poison pen of conservative blogging, Charlotte Hays, eviscerates Tina Brown's cattiness in a recent posting. You can link regularly to her and co-conspirator Charlotte Allen's Inkwell blog through mine.
Independent Women's Forum

Is Kerry electable? The New Republic raises doubts in its new cover story, based on opposition research used against him in his Senate race against William Weld. But as Joe E. Lewis memorably said in Some Like it Hot, "Nobody's perfect." (Unfortunately, most of the online edition is only available to subscribers, so I'll be posting excerpts soon from the article or finding a Web link of the article available to all.) In the meantime, you can wallow in Mickey Kaus's diatribes and links about Kerry's weaknesses. Andrew Sullivan, the quirky conservative, argues that the Republicans are gearing up to attack him as a liberal, when they should be focusing on him as a weak, indecisive candidate who flip-flops. It seems, as Kaus and others note, that the press cycle of building up candidates, then destroying them and then building up someone else again is well on its way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Gentlemen, start your media expectations engines:CNN.com - Carville: Kerry needs big win to solidify position - Jan. 27, 2004. Kerry is claiming the come-back kid label: “It's an enormous victory, a huge turnaround,” Kerry told The Associated Press. “We were written off for months and plugged on and showed people the determination we have to defeat President Bush.” Meanwhile, Dean's camp foolishly said earlier in the evening if he finishes less than 10 percentage points away from Kerry Dean wins the expectations game. He ended up trailing Kerry in the double-digits for his second-place finish, but he is still claiming to be the come-back kid of New Hampshire because of his poor showing in Iowa. Will the media buy it? And Edwards, who had been banking on a third-place finish ahead of Clark to have bragging rights for his campaign, is somehow claiming momentum in fouth-place because he is registering so close to Clark. Spinmeisters are busily at work even as the final results are tallied.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The U.S. government knew since mid-1995 there were no WMD. Why hasn't this become bigger news? Why aren't there more follow-up stories on this issue? It's important news that Colin Powell now concedes there may not have been illegal weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It's important news that David Kay has left his post, declaring that the WMD didn't exist when Bush's war started. Kay is right to ask how U.S. intelligence could be so wrong, suggesting in interviews that scientists conned Saddam about non-existent programs. But why did U.S. intelligence officials ignore reliable evidence that the weapons had been destroyed in the early '90s? So it's even even more damning that a veteran CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, has written a little-noticed op-ed piece reporting that U.S. officials had solid information from Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, a defector who oversaw Iraq's weapons program, that Iraq's biological weapons were destroyed in 1991. While drawing on an earlier Washington Post article about the discovery of an authentic Iraqi document confirming that the weapons were in fact destroyed, he adds fresh analysis. McGovern's key points are disturbing:

"But the most damaging revelation came from an internal Iraqi document -- this time, happily, not a forged one -- confirming that a high-level order to destroy all chemical and biological weapons was carried out in the summer of 1991 (there were no nuclear weapons). U.S. officials learned of this in mid-1995 from what intelligence officers would call ''a reliable source with excellent access.'' Everything else he told us has checked out.

"That source was none other than the person in charge of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs: Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel -- the one who gave the order to destroy those weapons. Kamel defected in August 1995.

"Documentary corroboration that Kamel's order was carried out surfaced this month in a handwritten letter obtained by Barton Gelman of The Washington Post. The letter was written by Hossam Amin, director of the Iraqi office overseeing U.N. inspectors, five days after Kamel's defection. It confirms that Iraq had in fact destroyed its entire inventory of biological weapons during the summer of 1991, before U.N. inspectors even knew of their existence.

"Does this mean that Kamel's testimony had been known in Washington and London more than seven years before Bush's address last January, and that during that entire period no evidence had come to light poking holes in the information he provided? Yes."

Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush advisers presumably had access to this information. Key Clinton administration officials also should have known about Kamel's disclosures. So why was there a charade about Iraq's imminent threat and a rush to war?

Some PR pointers for Howard Dean.
Dear Dean Team: Tips on Defusing Your H-Bomb (washingtonpost.com)

Clark was supposed to be the anti-Dean. Then Iowa happened:
Clark Express Is Losing Speed (washingtonpost.com)

Friday, January 23, 2004

Update: It wasn't just the "I Have a Scream" speech that has caused Dean to implode. As The New Republic's Ryan Lizza points out: "There is undoubtedly a strong antiwar streak among Iowa Democrats, but they are not, for the most part, lifestyle liberals.When hordes of kids with dyed hair and multiple piercings descended upon the state to spread Dean's message with Scientology-like evangelism, Kerry began to look real good." And Newsweek's Howard Fineman (with relish, it seems) kicks Dean while he's down -- by pointing to other personality and strategic problems that ruined his campaign. Among them: no sense of humor and endorsements by mainstream, washed-up Democrats that undercut Dean's insurgent image. As a result, the media is now watching for more signs of Dean's fading campaign to fit their new storyline on him.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The scream heard 'round the world. Even if he squeaks by in New Hampshire, Dean's campaign has been mortally wounded by his bizarre screamfest after his Iowa defeat. New tracking polls show his lead shrinking quickly in New Hampshire, with Kerry and Dean in a statistical tie or Kerry surging ahead with 31 percent. So if you haven't heard the scream after he shouted out the states he planned to conquer, you haven't experienced the full impact of his rant. Now on the Web there are parody photos and hip-hop remixes featuring his rant. (Click on the "click it" link and laugh at the music track featuring his strange scream. Or check out this "psycho ward" photo/audio montage.) The New York Post described his scream as sounding like a "Muppet being strangled."
New York Post Online Edition: news

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Fasten your seatbelts, as Bette Davis once said, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Wesley Clark is the new smear target for the media pundits after they helped cut Dean down to size. The new line of attack on Clark: he's an opportunistic flip-flopping Republican lobbyist masquerading as a Democrat. (The anti-Clark opposition is using an April, 2003 op-ed piece in the London Times by Clark to portray him as a supporter of the Bush approach to the war.) For now, the question is how will Wes Clark upstage Kerry as the un-Dean and the Democrats' best choice on national security? Or fight off John Edwards' surge and media boost from Iowa?

But so far, following Kerry's victory, Clark's point man, former Kerry staffer Chris Lehane, has just focused primarily on Kerry's foot-dragging on releasing his tax and other records. Clark's staff has created a "reading room" with an open documents policy. Unfortunately, those same documents are also providing nuggets of damaging information about Clark as an occasional lobbyist with Republican contacts. And Lehane's media soundbites on the documents topic don't make clear why Clark is a stronger candidate than Kerry, nor has he clarified just what he thinks the multi-millionaire Kerry is hiding. So instead of offering a positive message about Clark during this critical period before New Hampshire, he is offering a fuzzy negative message about Kerry that may turn off voters tired of negative sniping. Some perspective from Newsweek's analysts:
MSNBC - Grins and Grenades

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

President Bush's dating and marriage initiative: Just tell yourself "this isn't a parody, it's real life under President Bush." Perhaps if the President spent $1.5 million on helping low-income men get solid jobs, there might be more of the marriages he seeks. In the meantime, I'm eager to see what the "interpersonal skills" seminars sponsored by the feds to promote marriage will be like. HHS bureaucrats teaching come-on lines? Or will the Bush administration be using tax credits for self-improvement tapes, Armani suits and Victoria's Secret lingerie? The future of American marriages hinges on the results.
Bush Plans $1.5 Billion Drive for Promotion of Marriage

Saturday, January 10, 2004

What do neocons really want? While critics of them are being accused of being anti-semites, here's their template for Mideastern domination. It's in the letter to the President from the Project for the New American Century, written after 9/11:
Letter to President Bush on the War on Terrorism

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Howard Dean ends God vs. Science Conflict: After suddenly discovering his deeply held religious faith so he could pander to Southerners, Dean has hit on a scheme to use God to sell gay rights to the rubes. In arguing that God created gays, by citing the strong genetic component, Howard Dean has ended centuries of conflict between religion and science. He then goes on to say that if God created gays, then his Christian faith leads him to support civil unions. I don't know if middle America will buy this rhetorical spin-doctoring, but liberals will soon be trying out those sorts of arguments all the time.

Here's a few others: God created marijuana, so it must be legal to smoke what God intended for us to use. The Rastafarians made that argument, but maybe liberal semi-religious types in America should adopt it as well. And God created a desire to sleep late and stay home to watch TV, so maybe welfare should be broadened so more of us won't have to work. It's God will after all.

I look forward to seeing how the pro-Bush "Red states" and genuinely religious people buy this line.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Safe eating and mad cow disease: Don't trust Bush's agriculture department to take meaningful action to deal promptly enough with the mad cow menace. As Newsweek reports, the food safety system is about 100 years out of date, and the lax regulation has fit in well with the agendas of the Bush administration and corporate agriculture. It's worth noting the concerns of John Stauber, a debunker of false claims by corporations and agribusinesses, who was an early critic of the U.S. meat industry's handling of the mad cow threat. Now his forecasts are coming true, and he's outlined the steps we really need to take to stop its spread. Some of his pointers:

"The feed rules that the United States must adopt can be summarized this way: You might not be a vegetarian, but the animals you eat must be.

"The United States must also institute an immediate testing regime that will test millions of cattle, not the 20,000 tested out of 35 million slaughtered in the past year in the United States. Japan now tests all cattle before consumption, and disease experts recommend this goal for the United States.

"And of course, no sick `downer' cows, barely able to move, should be fed to any human. These are the type of animals most likely to be infected with mad cow and other ailments - although mad cows can also seem completely healthy at the time of slaughter, which is why testing all animals must be the goal.

"Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and the Bush administration, unfortunately, currently have no plans to do the right thing. The U.S. meat industry still believes that the millions of dollars in campaign contributions over the years will continue to forestall the necessary regulations, and that soothing PR assurances will convince the consuming public that this is just some vegetarian fear-mongering conspiracy concocted by the media to sell organic food."

The administration has finally banned the use of sick cows, but has not solved the broader problem of an ill-regulated food supply. Here's Stauber's full story:
US Needs to do Right Thing to Stop Mad Cow Disease

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