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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Call a Spade a Bloody Shovel (1) 

Kristof should stick to writing about humanitarian crises.

Today he tells us that in calling Bush a liar, the left is somehow descending to the "petty and simpleminded" level of the extreme right in the 1990s, when they demonized the Clintons and accused them of Vince Foster's murder. Scolding us like a schoolmarm, Kristof says,
I'm against the "liar" label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding.
Well, responding like a child (since that's how he's addressing me), my initial reaction is to whine, "they started it!"

More seriously, though, pointing to the right's demonization of the Big Dog should teach us a far different lesson than the one Kristof proposes. First, it wasn't just crazy far-right conspiracy theorists who cooked up and spread stuff about Clinton--supposedly mainstream types like Safire joined in the fun as well. Second, their tactics were extraordinarily effective. Demonizing Clinton worked. It got the press to ignore peace and prosperity and spend an inordinate amount of time on scandals, most of which turned out to have no (or very little) basis in reality, and it set the stage for impeaching Clinton over private, consensual sex. The strategic lesson to take from the right-wing here would seem to be that it's a good idea to have an active fringe saying the more outrageous things, since the effect of them will filter through to public opinion and ultimately help more "moderate" or mainstream people on our side achieve their goals.

But there's another problem with drawing parallels between the Foster stuff and calling Bush a liar. Most of the "scandals" of the Clinton era were cooked up out of practically nothing, but Kristof has to tie himself in knots to come up with euphemisms to use in place of "lie." Instead, he says, Bush "stretches the truth," "exaggerates," "carefully avoids the most blatant lies," "boasted that he doesn't normally read newspaper articles, when his wife said he does," "wrongly claimed that he was watching television on the morning of 9/11 as the first airplane hit the World Trade Center" ... Um, Nick? That sounds like lying to me.

We've seen what happens when our side tries to play nice. This is no time for liberals to self-castrate, as Kristof would have us do, by "lov[ing] subtlety and describ[ing] the world in a palette of grays..." Goldwater may have been on the wrong side, but he was on to something when he said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

(1)

Updates:
See Ezra and Julia spank Kristof, too.

And the poor man provides many examples of Bush's lies (via Atrios).

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Too Conventional? 

Via Kos's DemFromCT, the likely prime time convention speakers:
Monday--Bill Clinton
Tuesday--Ted Kennedy
Wednesday--VP Nominee
Thursday--John Kerry
No way to argue with Clinton, the VP, and Kerry. But Ted Kennedy?

Is Karl Rove running the Democratic Convention? Isn't having the Convention in Boston already doing enough to remind people of a wing of the party that isn't likely to carry a lot of electoral votes? I understand that Kennedy has been a key ally of Kerry's (and an accomplished legislator), but the Convention has to be about more than payback and ego.

As of the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup data (March 26-28), Kennedy has a favorable/unfavorable of 42/47. Not quite Nader territory (30/48), but far worse than Kerry (53/36) or Bush (57/41). And we all know about the baggage.

How about a woman, a Latino, or an African American? I haven't seen them speak, but I suspect either Blanche Lincoln or Mary Landrieu would bring a lot to the table. I've seen Barack Obama twice, and I know he would. I'm sure there are many others who would be marvelous for that prime time slot.

By highlighting relative moderates like Schwartznegger, Giuliani, McCain, Pataki, and Bloomberg, Bush/Cheney '04 is using the Convention to make the GOP appear to be something that it's not. I hope that we are not going to make ourselves appear to be something that we're not.

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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 91 

That's the forecast where we're heading. Stone Court will be back Tuesday.

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Private and Public 

Rivka at Respectful of Otters takes issue with Ezra of Pandagon's argument that Jack Ryan's sin is merely hypocrisy, arguing that "Jack Ryan's sex life has bearing on 'how good or bad of a senator he could be' ... because he tried to force a woman to perform sex acts against her will. That's not kinky, it's abusive." She argues that the difference between Ryan's conduct and Bill Clinton's is that Ryan's is that Ryan's was not consensual.

As I read the passage quoted by Rivka, Ryan's conduct was clearly emotionally abusive, but not criminal. As such, while Ryan's conduct to Jeri Ryan may have been worse than Clinton's as to Monica, it is not clear that it was worse than Clinton's as to Hillary, since that was also emotionally abusive.

But I think Rivka, Ezra, and I agree that Clinton was a "good" President (leaving for another post how we evaluate that). So where does that leave us? Where do we draw the line between public morality and private immorality?

My take would be to respect the separate spheres of public and private. In general, the dimensions of the criminal law create a reasonable boundary dividing the two (though as the case against Clinton shows that too can be manipulated). The issues of the day are too important to vote based on a candidate's private morality. If the allegations against Ryan had been made instead against Obama, would any of us vote for Ryan or think he would be the better Senator? Of course not.

The elevation of private morality to a key aspect of evaluating candidates has been a major factor in the right's capture of the so-called liberal media. The media loves it because sex sells. The Republicans love it because both Democrats and Republicans can be creeps -- a tie -- while if voters decide on issues the Dems. will systematically benefit.

So, while Rivka makes a valid point about just how creepy Ryan's conduct was, Ezra is right to resist the erosion of the distinction between public and private. Ryan has suffered for his emotionally abusive behavior -- and the punishment has fit the wrongdoing. He has lost the love and affection of his wife, a woman who aparently is honorable enough to say "that she now considers her ex-husband 'a friend' and has 'no doubt that he will make an excellent senator.'"

As Obama rightly urges, let's focus on the issues.

UPDATE: Ryan reportedly dropping out.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Good News 

When the subway is late, I complain bitterly when three come in the opposite direction. But I don't (can't) notice when mine comes right away and the folks on the other side have to wait.

With so much bad news out there, I want to appreciate a story that is good news in every way.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Mano a Mano 

Liberal Oasis today has an interesting proposal that Kerry should welcome and encourage inclusion in at least one debate of any third-party candidates obtaining ballot access in 40 states. The theory is that this would blunt the Nader problem by focusing more of the media's third-party attention on the other (generally conservative) third party candidates and also appeal to independents by showing a spirit of inclusiveness. While Liberal Oasis is usually very savvy, I disagree with this analysis for the following reasons:
1. A six-person debate is just what Rove wants. Bush can easily skate by on platitudes for one-sixth of a 90-minute debate, but in a one-on-one format he may have to actually deal with some hard and/or follow-up questions. (And, if Kerry were to suggest the format for one debate, Bush would likely say, "Great idea! Lets do it for all of them.")

2. Media coverage of multi-person debates almost inevitably focus on the outlandish -- think Al Sharpton or Mary Carey. The more this election is ahout style rather than substance, the more it favors Republicans, because it encourages voters to think it's OK to vote based on who you'd rather have a beer with.

3. No matter how much exposure they get, the right-wing fringe candidates just won't draw much support from Bush because Bush is the right-wing fringe.

4. To the contrary, the presence of right-wing fringe candidates will facilitate Bush's campaign strategy of pretending to be a moderate.
In short, the debates are the one time Bush cannot hide behind McClelland, Rumsfeld, prepared statements, scripted questions, and the like -- and Kerry should take full advantage of that.

Of course, if (as is likely), Bush publicly stakes out a position insisting that Nader participate, the side benefits LO identifies may be enough to justify Kerry calling Bush's bluff and saying, sure, let's include everyone for one debate. But all in all, I think Kerry has the right idea about debating Bush: "Bring it On!"

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Not One Penny? 

What Nader's running mate had to say when he was the Socialist Worker's Party nominee for President in 1976:
Government: "Our goal are to . . . have a planned economy run democratically. We are opposed to what exists in the Soviet Union."

The economy: Wealth should be redistributed, peacefully if possible, and industry nationalized.

Interest on Government bonds and notes held by persons with income of more than $40,000 a year should be stopped.

"I don't believe we're spending one penny to defend the U.S. We're preparing for new Vietnams."

Jobs: Additional employment could be generated through massive public-works programs and 30-hour workweeks with no cut in pay.
U.S. News & World Report, What the Minor-Party Candidates Stand For, Nov. 1, 1976, at 28 (via Nexis subscription service).

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Nader's Word... 

...isn't worth a bucket of warm spit. Not that I'm surprised, but this story in Salon indicates that he's chosen Peter Camejo as his running mate,
a move sure to boost his chances of winning the Green Party's endorsement this week and its access to ballot lines in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
What was all that stuff about Nader running as an Independent? Was there any point to it? [Apologies to those with weak stomachs for linking to something on his website.] Is this change of course related to the fact that he wasn't having a whole lot of luck getting on ballots on his own?

The whole thing turns ME green.

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Bush Can't Destroy the Evidence 

According to the Washington Post, an army judge has ordered that Sanchez and Metz will be subject to deposition in the cases against the soldiers being tried for the "abuses" at Abu Ghraib, and
Pohl also ordered that the Abu Ghraib prison, where the abuse occurred, be preserved as a crime scene...
Guess Bush won't get to tear it down after all.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

I Want My Fair and Balanced 

We've arrived safely on the East Coast, and as a result, I had a chance to listen to WABC News Radio. I knew WABC was a home of Limbaugh and Hannity, but I must say I was stunned when I heard the announcer say that WABC was "the home of the 2004 Republican National Convention". I was so stunned, I went to WABC's website. Not only does it repeat the statement that "WABC is home of the 2004 Republican National convention", but it also has a link "Looking for volunteers for the Republican National Convention this summer!" (exclamation point WABC's). This is not displayed as a paid ad -- those are in the left column -- but under a news heading.

At least FOX claims to be Fair and Balanced (TM) -- WABC doesn't even pretend.

WABC is a subsidiary of Disney (pdf page 45 of 100) and has a tremendously powerful signal that extend far beyond New York. As you will recall, it was just last month that Disney refused to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11 on the stated rationale that it did not want to insert itself into politics in an election year. That claim was absurd at the time -- as documented by FAIR, Brian Leiter, and numerous others -- but it is doubly absurd now that Disney's leading news radio station is abandoning even the pretense of balance in favor of openly organizing for the Republican party.

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Monday, June 14, 2004

Get Your Motor Runnin' 

Headin' out on the highway.

Mary and Fred will be back on Thursday.

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More on Mixing Not-for-Profits and Politics 

Josh Marshall has an excellent post on Bush's (slightly) veiled request to the Pope to help his election campaign.

Not for nothing, but the exact same rules that Nader is violating prohibit "direct[] or indirect[]" participation in any political campaign (see pdf at 9 of 28). Bush is welcome to the support of individual Catholic clergy, but he cannot legally solicit the support of the Church itself, which is exactly what he was doing by going directly to the Pope.

At least nobody made a big deal out of it when a Democrat was accused of violating the same rule.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Saint's Clay Feet 

I'm not a tax (or election) lawyer, but this stinks. In a well-researched piece, the Washington Post reports that Ralph Nader's political campaign has been subleasing prime Washington real estate from Citizen Works, a non-profit he controls, despite the fact that "[t]ax law explicitly forbids public charities from aiding political campaigns". In fact, the prohibition is very broad. According to the IRS:

“[A]ll section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign”.
Nader poo-poos the whole story, but look at the facts:

-- Nader admits that "it was more convenient to rent from Citizen Works in an 'extremely tight' rental market. 'It can take a month-and-a-half to two months to find the right space with the right air transaction [ventilation system], with the right access to the building, the right location,' he said."

In other words, Nader admits that he received more favorable conditions from Citizen Works than he could get on the open market. How does that not constitute "directly or indirectly participating in his campaign"?
-- The Nader campaign was allowed to pay only partial rent for the first few months of the campaign. They justify this because the campaign was "in an exploratory stage and did not need all the space.... 'We were tiny. We were growing.'"

I have leased commercial space, and I can tell you that no landlord will allow a "tiny" start-up to pay only for what they need. This is a big challenge for a small business -- you must pay for what you hope you will need. There is just no way this passes the laugh test as an arm's length deal.
-- Nader claims his campaign manager, Theresa Amato, assured that the law was followed. "'There's no bigger stickler than Theresa Amato,' Nader said. 'She's an attorney.'"

But according to public filings Amato is the President of Citizen Works. This conflict of interest makes her assurances that the transaction was at arm's length highly dubious.
The uncontested facts are pretty bad for Ralph, and they would likely be worse if he provided the Post the information it sought. I urge that we "Fight Corporate Crime and Abuse: exact personal responsibility from all wrongdoers".

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Torture or Abuse? 

A number of people on our side of things have complained about the Bush administration's (particularly Rumsfeld's) avoidance of the word torture and use instead of the word abuse. Fred raised the following issue in a conversation last night: are the American people (whatever that means--presumably some kind of majority or plurality in a poll) really opposed to torture--at least if presented with the classic "what if you had a terrorist in custody who knew where the ticking bomb was planted" situation? (I know, I'm sick of that scenario being brought up in every discussion of torture, too, but bear with me.) If people actually tend to think that torturing bad guys if it could save good guys is okay (I tend not to think that, myself), or even sometimes okay, then the Bushies might be wrong, at least on the public relations front, in using the word abuse instead of torture.

The word abuse conjures up something very different from torture in terms of the status of the perpetrator and the abused. What descriptors are we used to seeing next to abuse? Child abuse and spousal abuse and sexual abuse and abuse of innocents come to mind. These tend to conjure up a sense of power differences, of people who have power and control exercising them in cruel or sadistic ways against those who are weak and defenseless.

On the minus side for the Bushies, while it often seems that people would rather not know about abuse of various kinds, once that knowledge is forced upon them in the form of pictures, I think the sense of shame and revulsion is particulary strong. The pictures of the naked Iraqi men in the pile don't look like bad guys being tortured to tell us what they know to protect our guys from attack. I don't think people see those pictures and think what happened was justified. So in a sense, using the word abuse says that those abused were powerless and that the treatment of them was unjustified. Calling it torture and then emphasizing the need sometimes to use extreme means when it comes to protecting the American people, or our soldiers, would convey a sense that those tortured were, in fact, "bad guys" and that while it's too bad we have to do these things sometimes, it is justified under the circumstances (again, I'm not saying it is, I'm saying they could make the argument that it is).

On the plus side for the Bushies--and probably why they prefer the term--abuse used with any of the descriptors above also tends to be something people associate with individual bad apples, so it leads thought away from the question, "who ordered or condoned this"? On the other hand, if what has been happening is abuse, with all the associated sense of power disparity and sadism, and it comes out that they did order or condone it, who--in their own world view--orders such things? Only a "monster" would order the abuse of innocents.

While torture carries with it more associations of issues of international law and something that would be ordered from above, it also seems to carry some potential for justification. Abuse may not seem as fraught to them with issues of chain of command and treaty violation, but it has the downside that there's no justification for it.

...Update: Fred says his point last night was something a little different from what I implied above, but I'll let him post about it himself if he wants...

...Update 2: If you google "abuse of innocents", the most common response is stories associated with the Catholic church's sexual abuse of kids by priests scandals. While that confirms the idea of association of the term abuse with the behavior of bad individuals, it also calls to mind that the bishops who condoned and covered up the behavior haven't ended up faring too well, either, in terms of public opinion.

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The Problem with Parliamentary Systems 

is you never know when the election is going to be. Michael Moore was able to create Fahrenheit 9/11 just in time for this year's election, but by the time he finishes his now contemplated movie on Tony Blair, Bush's lapdog should be long gone.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

When Cronies Collide 

Crony capitalism is one thing, but what do you do when you've got the baby Bells on one side but AT&T and MCI on the other? According to tomorrow's Times, Bush has decided to go with the Bells and higher telephone rates:

The administration's announcement followed fierce lobbying and aggressive tactics; each side has raised millions of dollars in campaign contributions for the president and the Republican Party. Before the decision, rivals of the Bells said they had told the administration that if it did not side with them in the dispute they intended to run television advertisements in swing political states accusing the White House of being responsible for higher telephone rates. For their part, the Bell companies pledged not to raise rates before the election in November.
Kind of reminds one of Prince Bandar's promise "to lower gas prices before November to help the president's re-election prospects".

What else are they holding off until after November?

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Best Current Senator 

In the wake of his recent creation of a who's-really-the-good-Catholic-here scorecard, yesterday's hearing in which Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee found Dick Durbin in his usual good form:

DURBIN: Here is a memo by your assistant attorney general, Jay Bybee, quoted in this morning's paper, which defines torture as, quote, "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death."

Another memo which you will not disclose, but has been leaked, and is quoted this morning, talks about seven techniques that the courts have considered torture.

The memo goes on to say, "While we cannot say with certainty that the acts falling short of these seven would not constitute torture, we believe that interrogation techniques would have to be similar to these in their extreme nature and in the type of harm caused to violate law."

Mr. Attorney General, if that isn't a definition of torture, coming straight out of your department, by the people who answer to you, what is it?

And here's the problem we have. You have said that you're not claiming executive privilege; that's for the president to claim. But the law's very clear: you have two options when you say no to this committee: Either the executive claims privilege and refuses to disclose, or you cite a statutory provision whereby Congress has limited its constitutional right to information.

So which is it, Mr. Attorney General? Is it executive privilege, or which statue are you claiming is going to shield you from making this disclosure of these memos at this point?


ASHCROFT: Thank you for your remarks.

First of all, let me agree with you as it relates to the value of the Constitution both at war and at peace. I couldn't agree more heartedly with you that the Constitution is controlling. And I would never suggest that we absent ourselves from a consideration of and adherence to and complete compliance to the Constitution of the United States.

And if there is any way in which I have suggested in my remarks today that we wouldn't do that, I want to take this opportunity to make it very clear that the Constitution of the United States is controlling in every circumstance and is never to be disregarded.

(CROSSTALK)

DURBIN: I respect that.

But under which standard are you denying this committee the memos, either executive privilege or a specific statutory authority created by Congress exempting your constitutional responsibility to disclose? Under which are you refusing to disclose these memos?

ASHCROFT: I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential and that the responsibility to do that is a function of the executive branch and a necessity that is protected by the doctrine of the separation of powers in the Constitution.

And for that reason -- and that is the reason for which I have not delivered to the Congress or the members of the Senate these memos, any memos.

DURBIN: Sir, Attorney General, with all due respect, your personal belief is not a law, and you are not citing a law and you are not claiming executive privilege. And, frankly, that is what contempt of Congress is all about.

You have to give us a specific legal authority which gives you the right to say no or the president has to claim privilege. And you've done neither.

I think this committee has a responsibility to move forward on this.

HATCH: Are these memos classified?

Is this a sidebar conference on something the attorney general has so authoritatively stated his position on?

ASHCROFT: I'll tell you: This is me getting advice which will remain confidential.

HATCH: Well, I know. But the attorney general has been speaking about these memos so authoritatively that you ought to be able to at least say whether they are classified or not.

ASHCROFT: I have answered your questions. The committee has not made a decision to ask for these memos.

DURBIN: No, but the chairman asked you a specific question. Are there memos classified?

ASHCROFT: Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes.
I don't know. I don't...

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect, that is a complete evasion. What you have done is refuse to cite a statutory basis for disclosing these memos, refused to claim executive privilege, and now suggest that some parts of these may be classified.

Mr. Chairman, I hope we take this up very seriously because I think it gets to the heart of our relationship. The attorney general is an occasional guest here, and we're glad to have him.

But I think to come here and basically tell us that we cannot see documents from your department on the basis of which you've said this morning is not fair and not consistent with our Constitution.

So, what is it, Mr. Attorney General ? Executive privilege or contempt of Congress? Your choice.

And by the way, when Barack Obama gets elected, Illinois will have the Best Senate Delegation.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Replacement Killers 

Apparently, the current plans to deify Ronald Reagan include replacing Hamilton on the $10 bill or Jackson on the $20.

These plans seem rather telling. If you had to sum up what those two men symbolize, what would it be? I nominate:

Hamilton -- fiscal responsibility

Jackson -- democracy

And what exactly is it we are being offered in their place?

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Remind me ... 

... what conservative principle this advances?

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Worst President Ever? 

Ronald Reagan's death gives us an occasion to consider the question of Helen Thomas's accusation that Bush is "the worst president ever". I sure say that he is when my kids ask who was the worst president ever, but how do we know?

In many ways, the comparisons with Reagan can be very instructive. On the whole, liberals disagreed with Reagan's stated policies as much as with Bush's. Yet, most of us have a much more nuanced view of Reagan, as compared to our outright anger toward Bush. As G.H.W. Bush said yesterday, "It was wonderful the way that he could take a stand, and do it without bitterness or without creating enmity with other people". The same cannot be said W, as H.W. surely knows.

Part of the difference is hinted at in Kerry's statement -- that he actually established relationships with leaders on the other side. A bigger part of it, as laid out in Joshua Green's excellent (and much cited) Reagan's Liberal Legacy, was that Reagan's decision-making took account of the changing world circumstances that he faced, rather than sticking to preconceived ideological ideas regardless of evidence or changes in circumstances (perhaps Bush's defining characteristic, as best documented by Paul Krugman).

Every president must make some decisions for the purpose of retaining power, regardless of good policy (such as Clinton's signing the welfare reform and Defense of Marriage Acts). Reagan was no exception, but many of his policies were indeed motivated by a genuine desire to advance the interests of the Nation. Even a policy as controversial as supporting the Nicaraguan Contras had a clear link to interests of the Nation in the context of the world situation at the time. (I am not arguing here that the policy was right or wrong or had good or bad consequences, but simply that a reasonable person in the 1980s could have concluded that supporting the Contras would help contain Communism and make the United States safer.)

With Bush, however, every single policy is directed toward the twin goals of retaining and exploting power for himself, his associates, and his coalition. I can only think of one major policy of the Bush Administration that a reasonable, well-informed, non-ideological person would conclude was in the best interests of the Nation, rather than those narrower, and baser, goals -- and that policy, the invasion of Afghanistan, was so stunningly and obviously necessary that I cannot imagine any president of my lifetime having done differently. (And, of course, even the effectiveness of that policy was sold out for Iraq.) Contrast that to Reagan's 1986 tax reform, rapprochement with Gorbachev, appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor, etc.

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Where the Blame Belongs 

On NPR this morning, talking about recent developments with Chalabi, Tenet, etc., Daniel Schorr said it's beginning to look as if Chalabi almost "single-handedly got us into this war". Single-handedly? The SCLM (and this is one of the SCL-est of the SCLM) seems determined not to follow any of the current scandals all the way to the top.

In addition, they seem to have a very peculiar and simple-minded sense of who owes what to whom. The spin around Chalabi is that he has betrayed us and we're shocked--shocked!. The expectation seems to have been that he would act in our interest (I guess we thought we'd bought him with that $40 million). But why? Why would anyone expect that Chalabi ever had anything but his own interests and goals at heart? Both what he wanted and what kind of guy he is have been obvious for a long time. On top of that, he has no sworn duty to the American people. Obviously he was going to try to influence our officials in the direction of the policies he supported. It was those officials' job to take everything he said with a grain of salt, given his obvious biases.

So no, Chalabi didn't "single-handedly" get us into this war. That lets way too many people in the Bush administration, most importantly Bush himself, off the hook.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

JFK Myth? 

Matthew Yglesias argues that "the legend of John Kennedy was created as the 'good Johnson' [getting credit for Johnson's civil rights and poverty achievements] and a shockingly large number of people have even convinced themselves that he had a secret plan to end the war".

I agree that the idea that Kennedy would have done what Johnson did domestically is somewhere between mere speculation and outright myth. However, it is equally speculative to argue that Kennedy would have escalated Vietnam like LBJ did. That case has been made by others better than I can (here is a good place to start), so I will only add that we can't have it both ways: Either (a) Vietnam was an avoidable debacle that was the result of bad decisions made by the President and his senior staff, or (b) Vietnam was a mostly unavoidable debacle that resulted from the reasonable decisions almost any reasonable President would have made under the circumstances, so that we can conclude that even a man as different from Johnson as Kennedy would have acted similarly. I think the evidence, including Kennedy's willingness to ignore military expertise (as in the Cuban Missile Crisis) and his superior sense of popular (vs. inside) politics, suggests that the better choice is "a".

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