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Thursday, December 29, 2005
The Denver Post reports:
More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority.And the Republican response?
Republicans are confident they can maintain their traditional strength among voters focused on the military and veterans' issues, said Carl Forti of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, which recruits Republican candidates across the country.Yes, forget all that pesky heroism and, you know, actual service in the military. These guys don't know how to spend money, and Republicans do.
Shameless, they are.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
In the course of a characteristically excellent essay on the woefulness of modern journalism, Digby quotes this revealing tidbit from Post National Editor Michael Abramowitz:
Obviously the armed services draw from a range of demographic, income and ethnic groups. The Pentagon's own numbers indicate that that the military is drawing disproportionally from rural and southern communities, and from families with slightly lower incomes than the population in general. The numbers also show a close correlation between the unemployment rate and recruiting.Oh really? The inversion of the yield curve this week is widely viewed as an indicator of a slowing economy. And isn't a tight job market and a depressed economy just the prescription for pumping up enlistment rates?
Monday, December 26, 2005
Yellow Dog Democrat Bob Geiger perfectly captured my ambivalence about Hillary Clinton:
The demarcation between Democratic and Republican values has seldom been so clear and it manifests itself in many ways, including the divide over the Iraq war, tax breaks for the rich coupled with massive cuts in social programs, a soaring budget deficit and the culture of corruption and criminal, treasonous conduct on the part of the GOP. I don't recall a time when the need for Democrats to stand up and yell loudly was more apparent than it is now.I will of course campaign for Hillary Clinton if she's the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. She's better than any Republican out there, by miles. But I will also work very hard to help nominate a better Democrat.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Yes, Barron's magazine, owned by the Wall Street Journal, thinks the President and the Attorney General should be investigated and perhaps impeached. The editorial is locked up behind the Wall Street Journal's subscribers-only wall, but I'm sure they won't mind if I reprint it here:
Unwarranted Executive PowerMerry Christmas, happy holidays, and all that!
Friday, December 23, 2005
Josh Marshall asks a good question:
When was the last time there was a major terror alert? They were something like a regular occurence for the eighteen months or so before the 2004 election. And through 2004 the administration pushed the line that al Qaida was aiming to disrupt the elections themselves. But as near I can tell there hasn't been a single one since election day.One would almost think that Al Qaeda was running a political consultancy and doesn't really get busy until an election campaign is in full swing.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The Wall Street Journal lays down the smackdown on the bogus Groseclose-Milyo "media bias" study:
The Wall Street Journal's news coverage is relentlessly neutral. Of that, we are confident.Media Matters has an extended debunking as well.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
FAIR reminds us of their excellent observations on an earlier version of the UCLA study purporting to show liberal media bias:
The report used a peculiar Rube Goldberg–like method to calculate media bias from think tank citations: Taking the Americans for Democratic Action ratings of congressional voting records as its yardstick, it assumed that media outlets have ideologies similar to those of members of Congress who cited the same think tanks that the media outlets did.Heh. Indeed.
Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest:
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.Oh, and Drudge is a lying sack of shit, too.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Donors Underwrite DeLay's Deluxe Lifestyle: "DeLay's various organizations spent at least $1 million over the last six years on hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and corporate jet flights for their boss and his associates."
DeLay is living a lifestyle that matches those of corporate executives like, oh, Ken Lay. I don't think this will go over well with the working folks back in Texas.
The bogus UCLA study that purports to prove the existence of liberal media bias is the new darling of the wingnutosphere. Unfortunately, anyone who knows a little bit about statistics can take the same data and jump to some ironic conclusions.
I plugged the author's raw data into a state-of-the-art spreadsheet and crunched a few of the numbers myself. Surprise! According to the
Here's how I determined that startling fact.
I started with Table I from the original paper (available in PDF format here). This table lists "the 50 most-cited think tanks and policy groups by the media." For each entry, the table conveniently lists the average score of the legislators who cite the group, the number of citations by legislators, and the number of citations by media outlets.
Using that data, it was simple to construct a formula that multiplied the "liberalness" score for each of the 50 groups by the number of times that group was cited by a member of Congress. I then computed the total of all the references and divided by the number of references.
Shockingly, this calculation resulted in an average citation score of 52.3. On the authors' scale, 50.1 is defined as the centrist position, which means that according to their data, the United States Congress is 2.2% more liberal than the American population. By contrast, performing this arithmetic for the media mentions results in a score of 54.7, making the American news media only 2.4% more liberal than Congress as a whole.
I attended UCLA, where I studied political science and statistics. (This was a few years before Professor Groseclose arrived.) Based on the garbage data in the professor's paper, I'm prepared to argue that the conclusion I list here is perfectly consistent with the other ludicrous conclusions in this paper, such as the shocker that Matt Drudge is slightly more liberal than the average American and that Brit Hume really is fair and balanced.
Of course, one could argue that this look at the data proves that the so-called academics who wrote this paper started from a biased point of view, and that their research should be filed under GIGO. The House of Representatives has been controlled by Republicans for more than a decade now, and the Senate was closely divided until 2002, when it tipped strongly to a Republican majority. So any collection of data that starts with the assumption that Congress is more liberal than the average American must, by definition, be highly suspicious.
Why, you might even think that the authors had actually taken large sums of money from right-wing think tanks!
We're obviously doing a fabulous job of training Iraqi forces. This bizarre observation was buried in an AP story about Big Dick's visit to Iraq:
U.S. forces guarded Cheney with weapons at the ready while Iraqi soldiers, who had no weapons, held their arms out as if they were carrying imaginary guns.Now, why wouldn't we want Iraqi soldiers to have weapons in the vicinity of the Veep? Hmmm?
(via J-Walk Blog)
Bush speech, April 20, 2004:
Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.(Via Atrios)
Monday, December 19, 2005
Our media is broken. For years, far-right-wing foundations with large budgets have been funding ostensibly independent academics and pundits to produce work that appears on its face to be legitimate but is actually intended to promote a radical conservative agenda. This dishonest research sneaks into the mainstream media with depressing regularity. (For details, pick up a copy of David Brock's excellent book, The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy.)
Today's example comes courtesy of the normally astute Lost Remote blog, which uncritically reprinted this press release from UCLA's Office of Media Relations. It's one of the slickest pieces of right-wing propaganda to come down the pike in years, as I'll explain shortly:
Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist
While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.Shocking!
Too bad that most news organizations that innocently pick up this story will be unaware of its author's extraordinary biases.
The methodology of the paper is bizarre to say the least. The paper (you can read it for yourself in PDF format here) tries to measure liberal or conservative leanings of a news organization by measuring how many times they quote organizations that are deemed liberal or conservative. To create that correlation, the authors count the number of times an organization is quoted approvingly by members of Congress. They then take the ADA rating ("liberalness") score of those members of Congress, assign those scores to the groups in question, and conclude that the more often a news organization quotes a group the more it must approve of that group.
So, if Ted Kennedy (the most liberal member of the Senate according to the ADA) approvingly cites the NAACP and the New York Times regularly quotes the NAACP, then the New York Times is as liberal as Ted Kennedy.
I could spend hours debunking this flawed technique. But let's not get bogged down in details. This is a classic "guilt by association" technique. Reporters are punished, in this paper, for reporting the ideas and statements of activist organizations, many of which are actually in the news. So let's try the same technique on Professor Groseclose. According to the professor's curriculum vita, he's received the following "honors and fellowships":
Hmmm. Olin Faculty Fellow? That's funded by the (now-defunct) John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
The New York-based John M. Olin Foundation, which grew out of a family manufacturing business (chemical and munitions), funds right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution and Peace. It also gives large sums of money to promote conservative programs in the country's most prestigious colleges and universities. [emphasis added]Lambe fellow? That one's funded by the Koch brothers:
David and Charles Koch own virtually all of Koch Industries, an oil, natural gas, and land management firm and the second largest privately owned company in America. The brothers have a strong interest in libertarian theory; the three family foundations operated by the Kochs (the Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundations) made possible the libertarian Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy ($6.5 million and $4.8 million contributed between 1986 and 1990, respectively).Oh, and the Kochs are behind that outfit at George Mason as well:
[T]he Kochs share with these foundations the conviction that the advancement of their philosophy is contingent upon investment in academia. In addition to their interest in influencing current public policy, they channel funds into fellowships, grants and scholarships to conservative university programs such as the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University to develop future proponents of their cause. Said John Blundell, former president of the institute (which received $2 million from Koch between 1986 and 1990, and is also supported by the Bradley and Olin foundations), the Institute "looks for good young people who are going to become academics and journalists and writers and novelists and clergymen and other dealers in ideas, who have shown some interest in the ideas that interest us." [emphasis added]The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is another far-right group, as can be seen by the fact that Newt Gingrich, Dinesh D'Souza, and Thomas Sowell are prominently affiliated with it.
Professor Groseclose has been accepting grants exclusively from far-right foundations for more than a decade. His work is backed by organizations that are also backing the most extreme-right organizations on his list (the number in parens represents the paper's ADA rating of each group, on a scale of 1 to 100, where lower is more conservative: the Cato Institute (36.3), the Heritage Foundation (20.0), American Enterprise Institute (36.6), the Manhattan Institute (32.0).
Using the same "guilt by association" techniques that the professor uses in his paper, I conclude that he is far from unbiased. In fact, taking the average ADA score of the four groups in the previous paragraphs, which are all supported by the same foundations that have funded the professor in his research, results in a score that ranks the professor as more conservative than any of the news outfits in his rankings. More than the Drudge Report, more than Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, more even than the Washington Times.
Co-author Jeffrey Milyo was a Salvatori fellow for the ultra-right-wing (by their paper's own numbers!) Heritage Foundation. He and Groseclose wrote their first article together in 1996 for the far-right scandal sheet The American Spectator.
Like I said, breathtaking.
Update: I've got more analysis of this bogus research here.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Free Speech: Use It or Lose It
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Polar bears are so cute the Coca-Cola Company adopted them as their spokes-animals. Now comes this literally chilling report from the Wall Street Journal:
It may be the latest evidence of global warming: Polar bears are drowning.Awful.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
This is a new low:
The RNC's new Web video "Retreat and Defeat" starts with a flat-screen TV playing clips from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. John Kerry. As they speak, a white flag waves over their faces while ominous music moans. Dean says the war in Iraq can't be won; Boxer says withdrawal should start after the Iraqi election; and Kerry says U.S. soldiers shouldn't be "terrorizing kids and children, you know, women." Then the camera pans back, and we learn that we've been watching these clips over the shoulder of a U.S. soldier dressed in desert camouflage, his service rifle strapped to his back. Candy canes hang on the wall just above the screen, which flashes the message: "Our soldiers are watching and our enemies are too."Those bastard Democrats. How dare they!
Oh. Wait. Go look at the pictures for yourself.Slate continues:
Here is a frame from the ad and the actual picture of the soldier, taken two years ago. As shown below, the soldier was really watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
The only quibble I have with Slate's piece is the reflexive "Both parties use them" mantra they insert before getting into the details. It's a form of inoculation against charges of bias, but the inadvertent effect is to imply that there are equally bad examples that Democrats have produced and they just happened to pick on this one by Republicans. The faux balancing act feeds the notion that all politics, from both sides of the aisle, consists of lies, distortions, and cynical manipulation of the public.
They inadvertently get to the real point a little later, burying the lead in this graf:
What neither party has done—until now—is inject the idea that the other party is undermining our troops overseas. The RNC is pimping a mute and unnamed soldier not just to defend the Iraq war but to imply that Democrats are white-handkerchief-waving cowards who want the United States to lose.Neither party has done this until now? Sorry, but the Republicans have been playing the "all opposition is treason" card for a long time now. This is another in a long line of examples. The implication that the Democrats have done the same thing, only different, and that this is just a chess game where the Republicans are just taking one little step past their equally sleazy opposition is bullshit.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Norbizness has the transcript of the interview as it occurred in a parallel universe. Sample answer:
People are constantly wondering about the decision-making process and who's up and who's down. No wait, that's Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown. You know, like in the war in Iraq, not everything has gone the way we had hoped. Please don't repeat that.That other universe sounds a bit more enjoyable than the reality we're all forced to share now.
Monday, December 12, 2005
As Atrios so rightly points out, John Harris is a Seventh Degree Black Belt wanker.
But go follow the link anyway and read the comments as Mr. Harris gets totally deconstructed. It's satisfying, in a Buckaroo Banzai kind of way.
And if the Washington Post tries to "balance" Dan Froomkin's column with s a conservative blogger, as the WaPo ombudsman suggests is in the plans, you will hear me screaming all the way from New Mexico.
I just about spewed my eggnog when I read this little bit from the oh-so-reliable Newsmax:
And while Giuliani himself says he won't make a decision till 2007, some of his aides say they're not sure he even wants to enter the race.Bernie Kerik is a fucking crook. The (probably unintentional) implication of this item is that Saint Rudy has so many skeletons in his closet that he would be completely insane to subject himself to the scrutiny of a national campaign. Because they would find out that he's a crook too.
Ezra is right. This bit from The Onion represents the pinnacle of the it's-funny-because-it's-true genre:
More Americans Falling For 'Get Rich Slowly Over A Lifetime Of Hard Work' SchemesOuch.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
If anyone wants to buy me this t-shirt (size L) for the holidays, I won't complain. Lots of other good designs there too.
The text reads:
1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.Sounds about right.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
This is yet another example of why Think Progress is one of the best resources on the Internet:
On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman argued that anyone who questions President Bush’s credibility while the country is at war puts the nation in danger. Lieberman, 12/7/05:No fluff, no ego posts. Just really solid information that you mostly won't find anywhere else. Bookmark this one.It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.But when he was running for President, Lieberman directly questioned Bush’s credibility on the war. In fact, he argued that doing so was an essential part of our democracy. Lieberman, 7/28/03:In our democracy, a president does not rule, he governs. He remains always answerable to us, the people. And right now, the president’s conduct of our foreign policy is giving the country too many reasons to question his leadership. It’s not just about 16 words in a speech, it is about distorting intelligence and diminishing credibility. It’s not about searching for scapegoats; it’s about seeing, as President Kennedy did after the Bay of Pigs, that presidents stand tall when they willingly accept responsibility for mistakes made while they are in charge. [Press Conference with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) Re: War in Iraq, 7/28When he was running for President, Lieberman questioned Bush’s credibility on the war because that’s what he needed to do to get votes. Now, after his campaign flopped, he is attacking people who question Bush’s credibility on the war because that’s what he needs to do to get attention.
Yes, you'll be traveling to visit the family this holiday season (take that, Bill O'Reilly). And when you do, you will no doubt have to put up with Uncle Bubba and your brother-in-law Earl, who are among the dead-enders still supporting the Worst President Ever, George W. Bush. How do you get through to these people, especially after several cups of grog-enhanced eggnog? You could start with Bob Geiger's excellent list of Questions For Those Still Approving of Bush:
1. Do you understand that no tangible, truthful reason has ever been given for the invasion of Iraq and that the 9/11 Commission Report – which is the de facto, official findings of our government – says there was no reason whatsoever for this war?Happy Holidays!
Mike Wallace interviewed by The Boston Globe:
Q. President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?Wingnut inoculation: Wallace also says Dan Rather should have resigned: "When everybody who helps you put together a piece like that gets fired, don't you think it ought to cross your mind?"
Approximately Perfect beat me to the punchline:
We didn't forget Poland
Poland was the heart of the CIA's secret detention network in Europe until recently, an analyst of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch organization was quoted as telling a Polish newspaper.He said "Meh." I say "Feh."
Friday, December 09, 2005
Let us stipulate that Jon Stewart is the best thing that has happened to television news since Edward R. Murrow.
Still. We must observe (and by "we" I mean Mr. and Mrs. Fish) that Jon Stewart's hair has entered a dimension formerly occupied only by fuel cells from cold fusion reactors.
Watch. Tell me you don't see his hair defying gravity in a way that is positively Heinleinian in its unnatural upside-down-ness.
Yes, this observation is shallow and inconsequential. But still. Jon, the hairspray. The stylist. The unnerving lack of gravity.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I didn't realize the Bush administration actually had a plan in Iraq, but apparently this is it:
Step 1: Give speeches.Brilliant.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Via Political Wire:
"I'm a red-state governor, who failed at a couple of businesses, and I liked to party too much in college, and I recently got in a well-publicized bike accident. He's a guy named George who's done nothing more than live off his dad's legacy. Together we wouldn't just get elected president -- together, we already are the president."Heh. Indeed.
Andrew Tobias finds these details in yesterday's news:
The 9/11 Commission, headed by former Republican New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, graded the government’s progress on the 41 recommendations in its initial report – including 5 F’s, 12 D’s, 9 C’s, and 2 incompletes.Lessee now, if my math is correct, that's a GPA of 1.15. Considerably worse than the 2.35 GPA W earned at Yale.
Someone's in serious danger of flunking out.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Thw Worst President Ever cements his legacy:
The U.S. is at great risk for more terrorist attacks because Congress and the White House have failed to enact several strong security measures, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said Sunday.Incompetence is the most likely explanation. As Steve Gilliard noted the other day:
When people say what would happen if there was a second terrorist attack, my reply is simple: we had one on August 30, it destroyed New Orleans, and Bush failed.It really is important to get new leadership. Soon.
(Via Arthur Silber)
Freedom is on the march. The Associated Press reports:
Iraq's former interim prime minister complained Sunday that human rights abuses by some in the new government are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein.The guy doing the complaining is the country's hand-picked candidate for President in the upcoming Iraqi elections. Is there no end to the mess in Iraq? And to make matters worse, Bush doesn't seem to care. According to Seymour Hersh's bone-chilling account in last week's New Yorker, Bush is serenely confident that in 20 years the world will look back on this episode and see how right he was.
"When you live in a fishbowl, everything seems a little distorted... I keep thinking it's Tuesday."
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