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Friday, February 27, 2004

Headline of the day:

Look at this Reuters story: Bush to Limit Interview with 9/11 Panel to an Hour

Excerpt:
The panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States will get one hour to ask President Bush what he knew about events leading up to the suicide airline hijackings, the White House said on Friday.

"They are looking at an hour as you pointed out," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said when asked by a reporter whether he could confirm reports that Bush was limiting the meeting to an hour.
Can you believe it? First of all, it's foolish to stand by a specific time period. It would have been better politics to say something like, "as much time as the president can spare," instead of "one hour". And "one hour"? An easy to belittle amount. People spend more time in line getting a driver's license renewed.

Bush has spent many, many hours fund-raising (and traveling to fund-raisers). And don't forget, Bush has spent lots of time on vacation. Like the month-long one just before 9/11. This is amazingly bad politics.

From a Washington Post story by Mike Allen from August 7, 2001:
CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 6 -- By the time President Bush returns to Washington on Labor Day after the longest presidential vacation in 32 years, he will have spent all or part of 54 days since the inauguration at his parched but beloved ranch. That's almost a quarter of his presidency.

Throw in four days last month at his parents' seaside estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and 38 full or partial days at the presidential retreat at Camp David, and Bush will have spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route.
Okay, it's number-crunching time. Bush was inaugurated on January 21, 2001. Labor day was September 3. The time span was 226 days, or 5424 hours. Take 42% of that, and you have 2278 hours "at vacation spots or en route".

Let's graphically compare Bush's one hour planned for the commission against the time he spent having fun prior to 9/11. Here it is:


TECHNICAL CLARIFICATION: In our initial post, we calculated in haste. We were too favorable to Bush! We figured 42% of the time from inaguration to August 6 (the date of the article) and came up with 1975 hours Bush was "at vacation spots or en route". But Mike Allen was reporting that Bush will have been away 42% of the time by Labor Day of that year, which was September 3. That comes out to 2278 hours .
And we read:
Rather than sitting down with all 10 members of the so-called 9/11 commission, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have only agreed to meet privately with its chairman, Thomas Kean, and the vice chairman, Lee Hamilton.
Does this mean an hour for both Bush and Cheney?

We'll find out.

UPDATE: On the Yahoo message board associated with this story, we encountered the following post:
HE'LL PROBLY SHOW UP IN HIS FLIGHT SUIT
by: cveparts 02/27/04 01:01 pm       Msg: 812 of 1417       30 recommendations

CARRYING HIS PLASTIC TURKEY.WRAPPED IN THE "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" BANNER.
Folks are getting angry.



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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Interesting:

On the Charlie Rose show last night (Wednesday), there was a discussion of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Ght general reaction of the four guests was negative (very negative by David Denby "two hour snuff film" and Christopher Hitchens "fascist"). One of the guests was Jon Meacham of Newsweek, who wrote a recent cover-story Who Killed Jesus?, and he made the following point:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has established a policy for protraying the Passion. It includes the following:

  • Don't have Jewish high priests dressed in black.

  • Don't have the Jews shown as a chanting mob.

  • Don't show Pilate as a passive, sensitive, not-particularly strong ruler
According to Meacham, Gibson violated those advisories. (Yes, we know that Gibson is not part of the established Catholic Church, but it shows what the USCCB thinks should be done.)

NOTE: The official movie review by the USCCB is strangely neutral in tone. Go figure.


ADDENDUM: If you are a fan of John Dominic Crossan (we are), check out his essay on beliefnet.com about the source of Gibson's ideas: The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Who cares?

We took a quick spin around the Internet looking at religious-conservative sites to see what their reaction was to Bush's proposal of a constitutional amendment about marriage. What did they have to say at 8:30 PM EST?
That's a pretty tepid response. Where was the coordination by the White House?


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Would it have helped Herbert Hoover in the 1932 campaign?




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Monday, February 23, 2004

Another rerun:

We posted this last year in April, but since today is bash-Ralph day (TAP, LeftCoaster, Mark Kleiman), we thought we'd pile on.




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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Following in the footsteps?


[Note: Nader didn't really say those words.]


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Nader 2004 trivia:

[PORTION HERE ABOUT NADER'S STATEMENT TAKEN DOWN PENDING RESOLUTION OF CERTAIN FACTS]

Over at the hyper-conservative Free Republic message boards, we read the following comments: (threads: 400+ posts, 30+ posts, 100+ posts)
  • Go Nader!! We love you.
  • Run, Ralph, run!
  • God Speed Ralph Nader!
  • Since he's running as an independent, he may gain more of that vote. FREEPERS who live in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia must get him on the ballot.
  • Oh Yeah! GO RALPH GO!
  • YAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!
  • THERE IS A GOD!!!! WHOOOO HOOOOO!!!
  • Is it possible that Nader is a closet Republican? LOL
  • What a LOSER ! But, THANKS, Ralphie !!
From the Meet the Press transcript, we note the following comments by Nader: (emphasis added)
  • ... the liberal intelligentsia ... agrees with almost all our positions.
  • So I think the liberal intelligentsia has got to ask itself a tough question, Tim. For 25 years they have let their party run away from them.
  • We just can't sit back like The Nation magazine and betray its own traditions, and the liberal intelligentsia, and once again settle for the least worst and watch both parties get worse every four years ...
"liberal intelligentsia" ?

We did a quick Google search (web and news) expecting to see that expression used by the conservative press, but it appears to be (at least for now) distributed evenly across the political spectrum and used most frequently to refer to a political faction in Russia.



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Why he did it:

Ralph Nader decided to run for president in 2004 because not running would have been an admission that he threw the 2000 election to Bush.


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Saturday, February 21, 2004

This is getting pretty lame:

In the president's radio address today, Bush said:
The terrorists know that the emergence of a free Iraq will be a major blow against a worldwide terrorist movement.
Really, now. Iraq was a non-player when it came to terrorism directed against the United States. And a free Iraq will do what? First of all, we have no idea what a free Iraq will look like. Bush seems to imply that a free Iraq will be some sort of liberal democracy like Iceland or New Zealand, but freedom has many faces, and we shouldn't overlook the possibility that Iraq will be "free" to become a theocracy - or something worse. And anyway, since when did the "worldwide terrorists movement" bet the farm on Iraq?


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Friday, February 20, 2004

A repeat of an earlier post:
Nader Hit With Pie During Calif. Event (On or about 13 August 2003)



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Changes:

We read in the New York Times: (excerpts, emphasis added)
In the New Economics: Fast-Food Factories?

The latest edition [of the Economic Report of the President], sent to Congress last week, questions whether fast-food restaurants should continue to be counted as part of the service sector or should be reclassified as manufacturers. No answers were offered.

In a speech to Washington economists Tuesday, N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said that properly classifying such workers was "an important consideration" in setting economic policy.

"When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a 'service' or is it combining inputs to 'manufacture' a product?" the report asks.

"Sometimes, seemingly subtle differences can determine whether an industry is classified as manufacturing. For example, mixing water and concentrate to produce soft drinks is classified as manufacturing. However, if that activity is performed at a snack bar, it is considered a service."

The report notes that the Census Bureau's North American Industry Classification System defines manufacturing as covering enterprises "engaged in the mechanical, physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or components into new products."



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Phobia:

We read this in (another!) Washington Times story: (excerpts, emphasis added)
Evangelicals frustrated by Bush

... right now social conservatives are mad over what many consider the president's failure to strongly condemn illegal homosexual "marriages" being performed in San Francisco ...

Top religious rights activists have been burning up the telephone lines, sharing what one privately called their "apoplexy" over Mr. Bush's failure to act decisively on the issue ...

"... on every front, are worse off on things they care about," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. "The gay rights movement is more powerful, the culture is more decadent, the life of not one baby has been saved, porn is in the living room ..."

[Robert H. Knight director of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America (CWA)] points to Mr. Bush's having "promoted the Ted Kennedy Leave No Child Behind education bill, which expanded an Education Department that social conservatives see as a fully owned subsidiary of the National Education Association, which has grown more stridently left wing in recent years. The NEA has boldly promoted the homosexual agenda for schoolchildren."

Also, Mr. Knight said, Mr. Bush "upped the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts, which has boldly promoted the homosexual agenda for schoolchildren.

Mr. Knight said runaway federal spending under Mr. Bush worries some social conservatives who "fear their children will become slaves to the government someday.
Clearly, George Bush should address the concern of many, that the government is promoting the enslavement of homosexualized schoolchildren who watch porn in the living room.


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Chalabi admits it, why won't the neocons?

Get this, from the Washington Times: (excerpts, epmhasis added)
An Iraqi leader accused of feeding faulty prewar intelligence to Washington said his information about Saddam Hussein's weapons — even if discredited — achieved the aim of persuading the United States to topple the dictator.

Ahmed Chalabi and his London-based exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, for years provided a conduit for Iraqi defectors who were debriefed by U.S. intelligence agents.

During an interview, Mr. Chalabi, by far the most effective anti-Saddam lobbyist in Washington, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled U.S. intelligence.

"We are heroes in error," he said in Baghdad on Wednesday. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful.

"Our objective has been achieved. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
Tell that to the families of the fallen soldiers.


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Thursday, February 19, 2004

President Bush - Man of Action!

From the White House transcript:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I strongly believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. I am troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage. I have watched carefully what's happened in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued even though the law states otherwise. I have consistently stated that if -- I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And obviously these events are influencing my decision.

Q Are you close to a decision?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm watching very carefully. But I'm troubled by what I've seen. People need to be involved with this decision. Marriage ought to be defined by the people, not by the courts. And I'm watching it carefully.
What the hell is he watching carefully? Is there some detail about the marriages that will tip the balance?

Of course, "watching carefully" is something you say when you don't have anything to say - which in Bush's case is anytime his advisors (especially Rove) haven't told him what to think.


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Washington Post ... hire a new fact-checker:

In the news, we read about a statement from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, which is critical of the Bush administration's handling of scientific data. Accompanying the statement is a list of signatories. The Washington Post tells us:
The statement -- whose signatories include 12 Nobel laureates ...
But when we visit weblogger Calpundit, he writes:
The UCS report, which is endorsed by 20 Nobel prize winners ...
So which is it, 20 or 12?

If you check the signatory list, it turns out that Calpundit is right and the Washington Post is wrong. Remember, Calpundit is your source for accurate information.

NOTE: Yeah, the Post story might have been "put to bed" at a point in time when there were only 12 signatories, but a Google news search shows everybody else (except those reprinting the Post) with a count of 20.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

You can't follow the game without a program! (or a diagram):

The blogosphere is currenty chatting about how the Chalabi family and friends have received over $400 million in contracts (Talking Points Memo, TomPaine.com's Iraq blog, Atrios). The initial story was reported in Newsday by Knut Royce. It's worth reading. The story is, however, somewhat complicated, and so we present a diagram that shows key elements of the relationships.



INTERESTED IN MORE? A year ago we made a diagram of Chalabi's previous business (and fraudulent) activities. It's here (once again, our super-duper old hosting service seems to be on the fritz, so you might not see the image - we are working on it, yet again).


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Instapundit misleads his readers:

Instapundit writes:
NOT EVERYONE HAS GIVEN UP on the Kerry infidelity story. Eric Scheie notes that over at the John Edwards campaign blog some of Edwards' supporters are still hoping to give the story legs.
Sounds serious. If it comes from the John Edwards campaign blog, major players in Edward's team are fanning the flames of the infidelity rumor. Or are they?

No, professor Reynolds.

Most of us are familiar with a closed blog - where only authorized users are allowed to post (Kerry has one). But Edwards has a open blog - which is nothing more than a message board. And who posted this entry on John Edwards blog?
Sunday February 15, @06:59AM

The news media, particularly the foreign media, is showing increasing attention to the Kerry Interngate story. The media seems to now be encamped outside of the home of Alexis Polier's parents -- Terrence and Donna Polier -- on Madeline Drive inMalvern, PA.

But so far, I have seen no photographs online of Alexandra Polier's apartment at 3147 Broadway, New York NY 10027 or her hideaway in Belmont, Massachusetts, at 6 Springfield Street.

CAN SOMEONE LIVING NEARBY GET A GOOD DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH OF EACH RESIDENTIAL LOCATION AND FORWARD IT TO SOME OF THE NEWS OUTLETS IN WISCONSIN?? WHEN THE LOCATIONS ARE IDENTIFIED, NEIGHBORS WILL PROBABLY START TURNING UP WITH THEIR OWN STORIES ABOUT KERRY'S COMINGS AND GOINGS!
It was posted by Anonymous. That's how well sourced it is. Anybody could have posted that. David Horowitz. Ann Coulter. A Limbaugh ditto-head. A reader of Instapundit.

What a hack.


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Who the Wall Street Journal editors like:

There is a page with dozens of links to the "Favorite Sites" that the WSJ editorial section likes. Buried down in the page are links to The Onion, Talking Points Memo, and even the Internet Movie Database. But they have a top-tier set of links. Here they are, in the order listed by the WSJ:
Washington Times
National Review
kausfiles.com
overlawyered.com
Jim Romenesko's Media News
SmartMoney.com
Fox News
The Drudge Report
InstaPundit
Congratulations to Mickey Kaus! You made it, man. You're in the same company as Drudge, InstaPundit, and the Washington Times.

Other links on the WSJ page:
andrewsullivan.com
Little Green Footballs
prodeathpenalty.com
And in their "Serious Research" section, we find:
townhall.com
Serious research? Of course. Now all townhall.com columnists have a college degree, thanks to Ben Shapiro's stint at UCLA.



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How much are they paying at the pump?

We read that gasoline prices have jumped by twenty cents over the last month, with a nationwide average of $1.66 for self-serve regular (CNN), and in California people are paying - in some cases - up to $2.30 a gallon. It's expected to get worse: "The Lundberg Survey, an independent market researcher in California, predicted last month that retail gasoline prices will range from $1.71 to $1.96 per gallon by April." Those are nationwide prices, so you can be sure it will be even higher in certain areas. Now, how often have you wondered how much it costs to fill-up one of those SUVs? We did a little research, and here are some selected models, their weight, fuel capacity, and the price for a full fill-up at three different gasoline prices.

Model - all for 2004   Weight Fuel capacity
(gallons)
Fill-up
@ $1.70/g
Fill-up
@ $2.25/g
Fill-up
@ $2.40/g
Sedans            
Toyota Prius (hybrid) 2855 11.9 $ 19.64 $ 26.78 $ 28.56
Toyota Corolla CE (base model) 2568 13.2 $ 21.78 $ 29.70 $ 31.68
Ford TaurusLX Sedan (base model) 3306 18.0 $ 29.70 $ 40.50 $ 43.20
SUVs            
Ford Explorer 4X2 XLS 4.0L (base model) 4302 22.5 $ 37.13 $ 50.63 $ 54.00
Ford Expedition XLT 4x4 5.4L 5671 28.0 $ 46.20 $ 63.00 $ 67.20
Ford Excursion 4x2 XLS 5.4L (base model) 6650 44.0 $ 72.60 $ 99.00 $ 105.60
Lincoln Navigator 4x2 Ultimate 5714 28.0 $ 46.20 $ 63.00 $ 67.20
Cadillac Escalade 2WD 5367 26.0 $ 42.90 $ 58.50 $ 62.40
Cadillac Escalade EXT Sport Utility Truck 5879 30.9 $ 50.99 $ 69.53 $ 74.16
Trucks            
Toyota Truck Tundra 4X4 SR5 Regular Cab V8 4490 26.4 $ 43.56 $ 59.40 $ 63.36
Nissan Truck Titan LE King Cab 4X4 5287 28.0 $ 46.20 $ 63.00 $ 67.20
Other            
HUMMER H1 Wagon 4 Door 7558 42.0 $ 69.30 $ 94.50 $ 100.80
HUMMER H2 Sport Utility 6400 32.0 $ 52.80 $ 72.00 $ 76.80


For further commentary about heavy, gas guzzling SUVs, check out Easterblog (he hates 'em). And on a related note, this New York Times Op-Ed critical of new fuel standards proposed by Bush - written by both (!) the executive director of the Sierra Club and the president of the U.A.W.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

We have a winner - us!

The winners for the 2003 Koufax Awards have been announced. We were nominated for Special Effects, a category that includes animation (something we don't do at the moment), charts, and pictures. Our strength is with diagrams and we are pleased to announce that we won for Special Effects. Since we won on the strength of diagrams, we thought it would be appropriate to create one showing the steps it took to reach this point. Here it is:




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Monday, February 16, 2004

Fuzzy math?

Bush spoke today about jobs at Nuair Manufacturing, located in Tampa Florida. Here's what he said:
... there are thousands of entrepreneurs in America, all over the country, making the same kind of decisions -- 40 workers here, five workers there begin to add up to excitement and new jobs.
It sure adds up. 40 + 5 = 45

America wants to know:
(Photo taken on 9 Feb 2004 at SRC Automotive Plant in Springfield, Missouri.)


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Way under the radar:

Bush announced that the last two members of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction will be Charles M. Vest and Henry S. Rowen. Charles M. Vest has served as President of MIT since 1990.

Who is Henry S. Rowen?

The San Francisco Chronicle has this to report: (emphasis added)
He is a member of the Defense Department's Policy Board, a 28-member panel that urged action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein before the war.

In 1997, he signed a "statement of principles" calling for increased military spending, stronger ties to allies and stronger challenges to hostile regimes. The statement, calling for "military strength and moral clarity" was signed by a conservative who's-who, including William Bennett, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.
So, one member on the committee signed the Project for the New American Century's Statement of Principles, and is a member of the Policy Board - which was headed by Richard Perle.

Talk about Bush having one of his own guys on the investigation.

(Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots clued us to this appointment, but even they missed the Policy Board aspect.)


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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Proof:

White House releases picture taken in December '73 at Dixon's Five and Dime, located in Spring Hill, Alabama.



Note: the image above has been Photoshoped, and is not genuine.

Actually, we're not sure where the picture comes from. We found it in our files with a date of September 2000; it was either e-mailed to us or found on the Internet. In any event, we thought it fit in well with the perception of what the scene was like back then, thirty years ago.


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Thursday, February 12, 2004

White House truth offensive:


White House spokesman Scott McClellan holds up a copy of the
Beaux Tapestry indicating U.S. President George W. Bush
fulfilled his military obligation at the Battle of Hastings.

NOTE: The image above has been Photoshopped.


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A weblog we like:

Our attention has been drawn to the weblog, JUSIPER, which has a detailed examination of Bush's National Guard service: points earned, military procedure, veracity of documents, etc.

The author led George Magazine's investigation into Bush's military record back in 2000. Check it out.


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What's this then?

On Tuesday, the New York Times had a story about the release of Bush's National Guard pay records. Accompanying the story, was a pop-up window that displayed a timeline of Bush's service. But look closely at what's listed for May-July of 1973:



Since when is "works at inner-city poverty programs" a part of National Guard service? Back in 2000, there were rumors that Bush had to do some inner-city work as part of a drug-rehab program. Is that true? Was it related to National Guard service? What's the story?

UPDATE: Calpundit has more on the mysteries of Bush's service record.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

54 years and 1 day apart:



McCarthy speech (PDF) from 9 February 1950. McClellan press briefing for 10 February 2004.

(It sure would have been sweet if it was exactly 54 years apart, but it's still kinda spooky anyway.)


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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Unbelievable:

This is the head and sub-head of today's Los Angeles Times story:
Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas
The loss of work to other countries, while painful in the short term, will enrich the economy eventually, his report to Congress says
Excerpt: (emphasis added)
The movement of American factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation, the Bush administration said Monday.

The embrace of foreign outsourcing, an accelerating trend that has contributed to U.S. job losses in recent years and has become an issue in the 2004 elections, is contained in the president's annual report to Congress on the health of the economy.

"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, which prepared the report. "More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."
and
The report devotes an entire chapter to an issue that has become increasingly troublesome for the administration: the loss of 2.8 million manufacturing jobs since Bush took office, and critics' claims that his trade policies are partly to blame.

His advisors acknowledge that international trade and foreign outsourcing have contributed to the job slump. But the report argues that technological progress and rising productivity — the ability to produce more goods with fewer workers — have played a bigger role than the flight of production to China and other low-wage countries.

Although trade expansion inevitably hurts some domestic workers, the benefits eventually will outweigh the costs as Americans are able to buy cheaper goods and services and as new jobs are created in growing sectors of the economy, the report said.

The president's report endorses the relatively new phenomenon of outsourcing high-end, white-collar work to India and other countries, a trend that has stirred concern within such affected occupations as computer programming and medical diagnostics.

"Maybe we will outsource a few radiologists," Mankiw told reporters. "What does that mean? Well, maybe the next generation of doctors will train fewer radiologists and will train more general practitioners or surgeons…. Maybe we've learned that we don't have a comparative advantage in radiologists."
This story should be reprinted by the Democratic National Committee and distributed to everybody in the nation.

OBSERVATIONS: It's one thing to try to fight job movement or even be indifferent to it. But to support it? Amazing.

So much for getting a good education (e.g. becoming a radiologist).

If this doesn't cause Bush to lose the election, nothing will.


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Torn document:

You've probably already read about it, but the infamous "torn document" appears to be genuinely associated with Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Still, there is much more to be learned about it. Your best place for following the nitty-gritty details are over at Calpundit, who has several posts on the subject. But perhaps it's best to start with the current posting which is here.

Other commentary can be found at the Daily Howler and at Talking Points Memo.


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Now?

The president spoke at a factory in Springfield Missouri about economics and taxes. One thing that caught our eye was this that Bush said: (emphasis added)
We want less regulation. We need an energy plan. We need to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. If you're a business, you need to have reliable sources of energy available. But I don't know if you know this or not, but the tax relief we passed is set to expire, parts of it. And some of it's going to expire next year in 2005. In other words, the child credit is going down in 2005 unless Congress acts. The marriage penalty is going back up in 2005 unless Congress acts. And that's going to be an interesting part of the national dialogue. I believe we need to make the tax cuts permanent.

There are some in Washington and they're going to say, let's not make the tax cuts permanent. That means it's going to raise your taxes. When you hear people say, we're not going to make this permanent, that means tax increase. Now is not the time to raise taxes on the American people. This economy is getting better. We're showing good growth, good strong growth. Yet, some in Washington want to raise your taxes. Make no mistake about it -- let me tell you what's going to happen when they raise them. They're going to say, oh, we've got to raise it so we can pay down the deficit. No. They're going to raise the taxes and increase the size of the federal government, which would be bad for the United States economy.

People have got to understand and listen to the rhetoric carefully. When they say, we're going to repeal Bush's tax cuts, that means they're going to raise your taxes, and that's wrong, and that's bad economics.
Observations:

Less regulation? Is that a winning theme in '04?

As Bush himself says, the tax relief "we passed" is set to expire. And Bush doesn't like that. But it's their legislation. Is Bush saying "we passed" bad tax law. Apparently so.

"Now" is not the time to raise taxes - Bush says. But "now" is 2004, and the tax code is not changing. Next year, maybe. But not "now". (A technical point, but still...)

"[They] are going to repeal ... tax cuts" No. Nobody is repealing anything. It's the law's own sunset provision.

Finally, Bush asserts that those who claim to want to eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt are being untruthful. That's a strong charge, and one that impugns the reputation of the Concord Coalition - among others.


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Monday, February 09, 2004

Two questions:

Tim Russert should have asked George Bush a couple of questions:
  • Why were you, a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, suspended and grounded from flying duty - two years before your service ended?

  • Why didn't you take your scheduled physical in August 1972?


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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Every 90 seconds:

In the Meet the Press interview, Bush used the word "war" 35 times (3 of them in reference to the Vietnam War). Total mentions (Bush+Russert) = 51.

There's a war on, don't you know?

Other words used by Bush:

"peace" = 4
"madman" (i.e. Saddam) = 6


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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Russert interview of Bush - early signs:



We watched a couple of excerpts from Sunday's Meet the Press interview of Bush (taped today for airing tomorrow). Russert appears to be asking real questions, but in a fairly neutral manner. Bush, on the other hand, does not appear impressive. Sure, Bush-lovers will see what they like, but for the rest of us will find George lacking. Bush appeared to have trouble constructing a response (we saw him when he was expected to reel off a list of countries: Libya, Iran, ... ; he named Libya, but then seemed to be grasping for a second instance - when he mentioned the Pakistani nuke-scientist Kahn - which sounded off-key. (Isn't the administration trying to ignore the Pakistani issue?)

It's too early to make a judgement, especially since we don't know the context from which the excerpts were lifted (e.g. what was discussed prior to the excerpt), but the signs are not good for Bush.

We took a gander at a Yahoo message board - related to a news item about Bush's statement that Tenet's job is secure (!) - and there, the comments about the interview were:
Yes, he was sickly/sallow-looking. He might be using the coke again.
He looked as if he was completely off guard the entire time.
He looks like a figure in a wax museum, not looking well.
Stammered and er um ah er ummed so much you know he was fighting for words to say.
Which pretty much agrees with what we saw.

By the way, we checked into the Free Republic message threads about the Russert interview, and many are praying for Bush.

He needs it.

NOTE: The image above has been Photoshopped.


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Friday, February 06, 2004

Missing half the picture:

There has been much discusion lately about the problem with intelligence about WMD - was it simply bad or was it manipulated? But don't forget the following point:
None of this would be an issue if Bush hadn't embraced the doctrine of preemption.
The National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued around September 2002, and has the following in section V: Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons of Mass Destruction (emphasis added)
For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. To support preemptive options, we will:

  • build better, more integrated intelligence capabilities to provide timely, accurate information on threats, wherever they may emerge;
  • coordinate closely with allies to form a common assessment of the most dangerous threats; and
  • continue to transform our military forces to ensure our ability to conduct rapid and precise operations to achieve decisive results.
The purpose of our actions will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.
Couple of quick points: They didn't buikd a better intelligence capability, and the common (world) assessment was that war wasn't justified.

Agree or disagree with preemption, it remains a fact that it's Bush's policy. We happen to think it's a bad policy in general, but even if one favors preemption, you shouldn't adopt it if the intelligence isn't up to the job. Those who defend Bush by saying that "intelligence is murky" - a contestable point - should then explain why they support a policy of preemption that is conjoined with a "murky" process.

NOTE: For fans of the "imminent threat" wordplay, please note that the Bush administration's strategy paper explicitly says: "We must adapt the concept of imminent threat ..." which means that there is the "old" concept of imminent threat ... and a "new" concept of imminent threat - which is the one Bush talked about prior to the war - even if he didn't use those exact words.


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Wow:

From last week's New York Times story about Medicare making it harder to get reimbursed for motorized wheelchairs, we read:
The controversy over payments for power wheelchairs has been growing as the demand for them has increased. In recent years, Medicare reimbursements have nearly tripled, to more than $845 million in 2002 from just over $289 million in 1999, an increase that reflects a rise in the number of Medicare payments for power wheelchairs, to 159,000 in 2002 from 55,000 in 1999.

For the same period, overall Medicare spending rose by 22 percent as the population of Medicare increased by just 1 percent a year.
A 22% increase in four years with a near-steady population? Sounds ominous.


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Thursday, February 05, 2004

A possibility:



For more, see Calpundit, Mark A. R. Kleiman, Phil Carter (Intel Dump), and awolbush.com.

UPDATE: This "reconstructed" document is meant to be satire. Also, the name WYLE was plucked out of the phone book (and has no relation to the Wyle brothers who supported Bush in 2002). The nams Steven is that of a friend of ours. The point of the post was to present an alternate-reality in order to force the issue: How can anybody feel confident the torn document is really a record of Bush's service?

IS THAT YOUR FINAL UPDATE?

You've probably already read about it, but the infamous "torn document" appears to be genuinely associated with Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Still, there is much more to be learned about it. Your best place for following the nitty-gritty details are over at Calpundit, who has several posts on the subject. But perhaps it's best to start with the current posting which is here.

Other commentary can be found at the Daily Howler and at Talking Points Memo.


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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Recycled:

We did this a little over a year ago, but thought we'd throw it up today in light of Kerry being in the news. The assault by Kaus and Sullivan has already started, but is sure to become more intense over time.




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Hot potatoe!

Dig these excerpts from the New York Times story, Bush Urges U.N. to Help Fix Iraqi Clash on Rule: (emphasis added)
  • President Bush pressed Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, on Tuesday to have his aides mediate among quarreling factions in Iraq and forge a consensus behind a plan that would allow the transfer of sovereignty to a government in Baghdad by June 30, administration officials said.

  • Mr. Annan has been given a dozen options for the transfer of sovereignty, the officials said, ranging from holding direct elections before June 30 to overhauling radically the unwieldy caucus system that is supposed to choose a new national assembly by that date.

  • "We are trying to put this issue in Kofi Annan's lap and let him run with it," one official said. "There's still very much the intention to stick with the date of June 30.


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What is to be done?

Weblog Busy, Busy, Busy, has what should be done - by Daschle. Check it out.


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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A milestone:

Today marks the day when our unique visitor count hit half a million.

We thank all our readers for taking the time to visit this weblog over the past 18 months.

UPDATE: Talk about being upstaged! We went over to Atrios, and he's just logged his 10 millionth visitor! We congratulate Atrios for doing so well, and for being a such a valuable resource for us all.


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Impartial?



All kidding aside, we think that if Bush gets away with investigating himself (actually investigating others), it will be a travesty. We are outraged at the mild response from key Democrats (that means you, Daschle) and the press in general. It appears that the public is ahead of the pundits, the politicians, and the press on this issue.


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Administrative update:

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, we have lost every single image file for posts prior to mid-January 2004. This is a problem with our hosting service (not us). We are working to resolve it.


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Get ready for it:

Bush announces "independent", bi-partisan panel to investigate intelligence shortcomings:

Sen. Pat Roberts Rep. Billy Tauzin Hon. James Baker III
Hon. Henry Kissinger Lord Hutton Hon. James Woolsey
Sen. Zell Miller Sen. Patrick Moynihan Susan Estrich



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Monday, February 02, 2004

It's going to take a long time to finish:




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"No WMD" fallout:

Now that pretty much everybody agrees that Iraq doesn't - and didn't - have WMD, the view is that Iraq wasn't a threat the the United States. But don't forget that there's another player out there - al Qaeda - and they were judged to be a big threat because they could aquire WMD from Iraq (at least that's what was said). So if Iraq doesn't have WMD, al Qaeda doesn't either (alfer all, it was only the "evil" Saddam who was capable of such horror; no other state measured up to his standard).

So, al Qaeda isn't such a big threat after all. This has been our position from the beginning. We acknowledge that al Qaeda can still try to hijack planes and pilot them into things as well as leave truck and car bombs around, but that isn't the same thing as a state-power-threat. So maybe we can all settle down a little and be less hysterical (and dispense with the PATRIOT Act and Total Information Awarness, and such).




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Sunday, February 01, 2004

What we are likely to see - eventually:

We listened to Ian Master's Background Briefing radio program today, and one of the guests was Ray McGovern, a twenty-seven year career analyst for the CIA and a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In a discussion on the WMD issue, the focus shifted to what George Tenet knows - and if that knowledge is what's keeping Bush from firing him. McGovern thought it might be the contents of the 6 August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. From what McGovern said - plus some additional Google-related searching (Sunday Herald, Guardian, CNN, more), we think it looked something like this:

6 August 2001

Presidential Daily Briefing

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

  • An attack inside the United States is being planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.
  • The Saudi-born terrorist hopes to 'bring the fight to America' in retaliation for missile strikes on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998.
  • British Intelligence says:
  • That in 1998 al-Qaeda operatives discussed hijacking a plane to negotiate the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (the Muslim cleric imprisoned in America for his part in a plot to blow up the World Trade Centre in 1993).
  • The United States should expect multiple hijacking of aircraft.
  • We know there has been flight training by Muslim students.
  • We believe there are al-Qaeda cells currently in the United States.
You know how the game is played. Even though we have a pretty good idea of the situation, until the actual piece of paper is released, there won't be a scandal.

But it will be released.


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Backdrop:


U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at the Congress of Tomorrow luncheon in Philadelphia on January 31, 2004. President Bush is leaning toward endorsing an independent inquiry into intelligence used to justify an invasion of Iraq , despite his earlier resistance to such a probe, sources said. Bush has faced pressure from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to accept an investigation after former chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay said he did not believe Iraq had any stockpiles of illicit weapons. Evidence of such weapons were the main reason Bush cited for launching the war.


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