eRiposte Focus Issues

I. Bush's lies, deception and misleading statements moral clarity is documented here : Compassiongate. Do check it out.

II. George W. Bush's flip-flops, broken promises, waffling

III. A detailed and exclusive compilation of evidence on:
- Anti-liberal and Anti-Democratic Bias in today's media
- Media's hate for/bias against Al Gore and Bill Clinton
- Use of Right-wing and/or GOP talking points by today's media
Targets: Al Gore, Bill/Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Others

IV. Compassionate Conservatism 101
An eRiposte look at Mr. Bush's philosophy of compassionate conservatism as viewed through the background and "history" of his nominees/appointees. This is a handy chart to compare Bush v. Clinton in some respects. 

7/17/04 <link>
Clintonomics vs. Reaganomics/Bushonomics

Ronald Brownstein (Los Angeles Times) (via Corrente) takes a look at a parts of Clinton's legacy which many so-called conservatives love to ignore:

With the publication of Bill Clinton's memoirs, a chorus of conservatives is reprising the right's familiar charge that his presidency was an eight-year exercise in trivial pursuits.

"Clinton … knew — and accomplished — small things," writes Charles Krauthammer, the neoconservative columnist. Fellow neocon Max Boot says Clinton was "a status quo president" who "presided over a bunch of micro-reforms engineered by" pollster Dick Morris.

Especially around the end of his first term, Clinton certainly pursued his share of small-bore initiatives, like promoting school uniforms. But to portray these as the core of his presidency is to willfully miss the forest for the shrubs.

Clinton modernized the Democratic Party's agenda and restored its attenuated ability to compete for the presidency. His domestic program helped to produce the most widely shared economic boom since the 1960s.

And though Clinton's scorecard on foreign affairs is more mixed, he moved the Democrats away from their post- Vietnam aversion to force, and sharpened the government's focus on terrorism — even if history will likely conclude that he, like Congress, the media and President George W. Bush before Sept. 11, 2001, didn't meet the full measure of the threat.

To conservative critics, the Clinton era was "a time of domesticity, triviality and self-absorption," as Krauthammer wrote last week. Maybe it looked that way from the penthouse. But the Clinton years produced extraordinary gains in the communities that needed help most.

The benefits of the Clinton boom were dispersed far more broadly than the gains under Ronald Reagan, in part because Clinton systematically implemented policies that encouraged and rewarded work for those on the economy's bottom rungs.

Consider the scorecard. During Clinton's two terms, the median income for American families increased by a solid 15% after inflation, according to Census Bureau figures. But it rose even faster for African Americans (33%) and Hispanics (24%) than it did for whites (14%).

The growth was so widely shared that from 1993 through 1999, families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution saw their incomes increase faster than those in the top 5%. By comparison, under President Reagan in the 1980s, those in the top 5% increased their income more than five times faster than the bottom 20%.

Likewise, the poverty rate under Clinton fell 25%, the biggest eight-year decline since the 1960s. It fell even faster for particularly vulnerable groups like blacks, Hispanics and children. Again the contrast with Reagan is striking. During Reagan's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty fell by just 77,000. During Clinton's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty plummeted by 8.1 million. The number of children in poverty fell by 50,000 under Reagan. Under Clinton the number was 4.1 million. That's a ratio of 80 to 1.

Leave aside the question of how much Clinton's drive to eliminate the federal deficit contributed to the economic boom that powered most of these gains. He also developed a comprehensive set of initiatives to spread the benefits of prosperity to more families by demanding and honoring work.

Welfare reform pushed more low-income families into the job market, where they could benefit from the rising tide. Then Clinton made work more rewarding with increases in the minimum wage and the earned-income tax credit, the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (to cover the children of working-poor families), and expanded funding for day care. He eliminated the deficit while cutting taxes for average families.

And while delivering all these benefits for traditionally Democratic constituencies, Clinton extended the party's appeal up the income ladder. By marrying government activism to fiscal discipline and demanding personal responsibility in social policy, he triggered a realignment of socially moderate Northern suburbs toward the Democrats, a change that remains central to his party's hopes in 2004.

Clinton is more vulnerable to second-guessing on foreign policy. Reports by the staff of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks suggest the panel is likely to conclude that Clinton (as well as Bush in early 2001) didn't do enough to meet the emerging threat of Al Qaeda.

In particular, the reports show that Clinton blinked at some of the riskiest military options during the late 1990s, such as arming the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

But the commission reports and the memoir of Richard A. Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief for Clinton and Bush, also make it clear that on almost every front, from diplomacy to homeland security, Washington was doing much more to combat terrorism when Clinton left than it was when he arrived. And at the same time, Clinton was exhaustively pursuing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that might have reshaped America's image in the Arab world.

Those, like Krauthammer, who insist Clinton "ignored" the terrorism threat must themselves ignore all this evidence — and Clinton's report, in his memoir, that he warned Bush after the 2000 election that Al Qaeda would be his top national security challenge.

Clinton's weaknesses often trumped his strengths. His lack of political discipline produced a leftward drift during his first two years that helped the GOP seize Congress in 1994. His lack of personal discipline in the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal contributed to Al Gore's defeat in 2000. But he restored the Democrats' ability to compete for the presidency, advanced domestic policies that tangibly improved life for millions of Americans, and, after initial uncertainty, pursued a foreign policy that affirmed the value of American leadership and international cooperation.

It's reasonable to debate whether elements of this approach were wrongheaded or ineffective or insufficient. But to dismiss it as trivial says more about the critics than about Clinton.

6/29/04 <link>
A brief break into straw-man land
A recent article by Dana Milbank, which I forgot to post earlier.

Making Hay Out of Straw Men
By Dana Milbank
For President Bush, this is the season of the straw man.

It is an ancient debating technique: Caricature your opponent's argument, then knock down the straw man you created. In the 2004 campaign, Bush has been knocking down such phantoms on subjects from Iraq to free trade.

In a speech on May 21 mentioning the importance of integrity in government, business and the military, Bush veered into a challenge to unidentified "people" who practice moral relativism. "It may seem generous and open-minded to say that everybody, on every moral issue, is equally right," Bush said, at Louisiana State University. "But that attitude can also be an excuse for sidestepping life's most important questions."

No doubt. But who's made such arguments? Hannibal Lecter? The White House declined to name names.

On May 19, Bush was asked about a plan by his Democratic opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), to halt shipments that are replenishing emergency petroleum reserves. Bush replied by saying we should not empty the reserves -- something nobody in a responsible position has proposed. "The idea of emptying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would put America in a dangerous position in the war on terror," Bush said. "We're at war."

The president has used a similar technique on the stump, when explaining his decision to go to war in Iraq in light of the subsequent failure to find stockpiles of forbidden weapons. In the typical speech, Bush explains the prewar intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein had such weapons, and then presents in inarguable conclusion: "So I had a choice to make: either trust the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time."

Missing from that equation is the actual choice Bush confronted: support continued U.N. weapons inspections, or go to war.

On May 4, Bush was discussing the war on terrorism, when he said: "Some say, 'Well, this is just a matter of law enforcement and intelligence.' No, that's not what it is." On May 10, he posited: "The natural tendency for people is to say, oh, let's lay down our arms. But you can't negotiate with these people. . . . Therapy won't work."

It is not clear who makes such arguments, however. All but a few lawmakers in both parties support military action against al Qaeda, and Kerry certainly has not proposed opening talks with Osama bin Laden or putting him on the couch.

Bush is obviously not the first politician to paint his opponents' positions in absurd terms. "Honorable people could disagree about the real choice between tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and health care and education for America's families," Kerry has said. "I'm ready for that honest debate."

But Bush has been more active than most in creating phantom opponents: During the 2000 campaign, Bush fought against those who say "it's racist to test" students -- even though his opponent, Al Gore, was saying no such thing.

Recently, though, even some ideological allies have called Bush on his use of straw men. On April 30, for example, Bush was discussing Iraq when he said: "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins . . . are a different color than white can self-govern."

The columnist George Will asked who Bush was talking about, then warned of the "swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters." There are some, including in the State Department, who are skeptical about the ability of the United States to spread democracy in the Arab world, but that is a far less sweeping argument than the one Bush knocked down.

In some cases, Bush's straw men are only slight exaggerations of his opponents' policies. "Some say that the federal government ought to run the health care system. I strongly disagree," he said on April 5. Although mainstream Democrats are not proposing a government-run health care system, they do support considerably more federal involvement than Bush does.

On trade, similarly, Bush has said those who disagree with him are isolationists. "There is a temptation in Washington to say the solution to jobs uncertainty is to isolate America from the world," he said on March 25. "It's called economic isolationism, a sense that says, 'Well, we're too pessimistic, we don't want to compete -- as opposed to opening up markets, let's close markets, starting with our own.' " Some lawmakers do favor more trade restrictions than Bush does, but only a few could be called isolationists. There seems to be no end to the crazy positions the straw men take. Indeed, some have argued in favor of deeper recessions. "Some say, 'Well, maybe the recession should have been deeper,' " Bush said last summer. "That bothers me when people say that. You see, a deeper recession would have meant more families would have been out of work."

Now who could argue with that?

3/10/04 <link> (updated 6/29/04)
The Bush flip-flops, broken promises, waffling
With the Bush campaign, laughably, accusing Senator Kerry of being a flip-flopper, it is only appropriate that we examine Bush's record. So, we did - and we are continuing to do so. So far there are 120 instances of Bush flip-flopping or waffling or breaking a promise (a promise made is a promise (un) kept). Take a look!

1-3-04 <link>
George Bush Jr. and Republicans/GOP = Anti-States-Rights (and we mean *real* states' rights) 
via Buzzflash

Not that this is a big surprise, but Bush is not "States-Rights" President, nor is the Republican party. We suggest you read the whole article by Jim Abrams of AP, but here is a condensed version offered as a sidebar in the story.

At a glance
The Associated Press

Some laws and rules enacted or proposed during the Bush administration that would extend federal authority, sometimes at the expense of states' rights:

-- No Child Left Behind Act. Signed into law by President Bush in 2002, the measure requires schools to test students and show adequate yearly progress in raising achievement levels. Federal intervention increases for schools that receive federal low-income aid but don't improve.

-- Fair Credit Reporting Act. Bush last month signed the bill retaining national credit reporting standards while giving consumers new protections against identity theft. Critics said it would stop states from setting separate tougher rules on how businesses use, share and report data on individual consumers.

-- The Patriot Act. Enacted weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, it expanded government surveillance capabilities, toughened criminal penalties for terrorists and allowed greater sharing of intelligence information. Critics say tools to fight terrorism have been used to infringe on personal rights and usurp state and local crime-fighting activities. One hot issue is Patriot Act authority to seize library reading lists and other personal records.

-- Partial birth abortion. Bush in November signed into law the first federal ban on a type of abortion since the Supreme Court confirmed abortion rights 30 years ago. The ban on what opponents call partial birth abortion parallels similar state laws that have generally been struck down by the courts.

-- Class-action lawsuits. The House passed legislation in 2003 that would shift many class-action liability lawsuits from state courts, where businesses complain that juries are too generous to plaintiffs, to federal courts. Democrats blocked the measure in the Senate last year, but Republicans said they will try again to pass it in 2004.

-- Medical malpractice. Republicans tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation limiting damage awards in medical malpractice suits. Opponents said the measure would protect HMOs and insurance companies and noted that many states have already passed or are considering effective laws to cut down on abusive lawsuits.

-- Internet access tax moratorium. Congress tried, without success, to pass legislation in the final days of the session to permanently ban taxes on Internet access. Lawmakers from both parties expressed concern that state and local governments could lose millions in taxes from phones, music and movies that are migrating to the Internet.

-- Congress is considering legislation that would expand investors' rights and the authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission to subpoena and impose fines on company executives. Sponsors say it puts no limits on state prosecutions of security fraud, but some state officials say it would preclude states from signing settlements with investment banking firms that mandate changes in business practices.

-- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has proposed rules saying the authority of national banks and their affiliates to lend money cannot by hindered by the states. The National Association of Attorneys General has protested, saying it is a pre-emption of state consumer protection laws.

The article gives additional examples:

The National Association of Attorneys General, in a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said the OCC’s proposed rule that might exempt national banks from state consumer protection laws was “a radical restructuring of federal-state relationships in the area of banking.”
Bush also signed a bill that, while increasing protections for people’s financial information, was criticized by consumer groups for pre-empting tougher state privacy laws.
Congress has used federal controls over highway money to compel states to adopt a national standard for drunken driving. The interstate commerce clause also was the basis of a new law restricting private ownership of lions and tigers.
Fourteen states have filed suit to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing new rules allowing coal-burning electric plants to make upgrades without installing more pollution controls.
Republicans also have extended the federal reach in areas important to social conservatives: Bush in 2001 restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and this year signed a bill that for the first time makes it a federal crime to perform a certain type of abortion. Federal officials are also taking legal action against medical marijuana laws in California and Oregon’s assisted suicide law.
Cato’s Boaz said the next big fight will be over GOP attempts to stop state moves to sanction gay marriages. “Some conservatives are saying we need one national policy, but that would be an unprecedented federal intrusion into marriage law that has always been controlled by the states,” he said.

1/2/04 <link>
Neil Bush, China, etc.
This is a topic on which I have not been posting at all, but Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo) thinks something is developing. 

But of course ... more from the Neil Bush Files. This time a quick 800 grand on a sweetheart stock deal. And, yes, there is more to come on the Chen-Neil Bush 'summit' and how it came about.
The People's Republic of China: Strategic Competitor, Strategic Partner, or Family Business Partner? An issue for 2004.
More on this soon too ....

Guess Neil Bush is just "lucky" that his name is not Roger Clinton.

1/2/04 <link>
Happy New Year and welcome to Phase II of Treasongate
Via Atrios (here and here) we learn of a few outrages re: the Valerie Plame expose scandal. Remember? This is the scandal in which the Bush White House treasonously exposed an undercover CIA officer in violation of the law passed by Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr.

Firstly, as Josh Marshall points out (bold text is my emphasis):

Mike Allen, who wrote several of the best articles about the Plame case, has a new article in the Post...
The point of Allen's article is that the perps in the Plame case may not have committed a crime because they may not have known that Plame was undercover. They may only have known she was CIA.
And who's the expert who pushes this angle?
Victoria Toensing
Allen calls Toensing a "legal expert" and "the chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence when Congress passed the law protecting the identities of undercover agents."
But that's a rather incomplete description, now isn't it?
Toensing, of course, is not only a pricey DC defense lawyer. She's also a professional Republican, one tightly connected to the DC GOP power structure, and someone you could find at pretty much any point in the late nineties as an anti-Clinton "legal expert" on every chat show under the sun.
Using Toensing as the legal expert on this question is like bringing Bruce Lindsey in as your commentator to discuss Lewinsky.
Now for the substance of what Toensing said.
Toensing says this may not have been a crime because the perps may not have known Plame was undercover.
But this isn't really a reason why this wasn't a crime. It's more properly termed the logical defense at trial or perhaps in a plea negotiation. It may well be impossible to prove the perps' knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt. But it's very hard to believe, for a number of reasons, they didn't know exactly what she did.
Here's just one of the many reasons why.
Allen writes ...

The July column by Robert D. Novak that touched off the investigation did not specify that Valerie Plame was working undercover, but said she was "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." That raises the possibility that the senior administration officials he quoted did not know Plame's status.

This rather misses the point.
In the intelligence community, the word 'operative' is a term of art. And it means someone who is undercover. It doesn't refer to an analyst. And as I showed in this post from October 9th a review of all of Novak's columns in the Nexis database shows that he always use the term in this way...
And one other point.
Back on October 9th and 10th I told you that Scott McClellan's denials that Rove, Libby and Abrams were the perps wasn't nearly as air-tight as they seemed, that it was basically a non-denial denial. But no one seemed to catch on.
Now they're coming clean
. Again, from Mike Allen's piece in the Post ...

When White House press secretary Scott McClellan was being barraged with questions about the case this fall, he said repeatedly that he knew of no Bush aides who had "leaked classified information." McClellan would not answer questions about the ethics or propriety of encouraging reporters to write about Plame.

"The subject of this investigation is whether someone leaked classified information," McClellan said. Another time, he said, "The issue here is whether or not someone leaked classified information." McClellan left open the possibility that White House aides had discussed Plame with the media. "You all talk about what's in the news, I talk about what's in the news, people always talk about what's in the news," he said.

A senior administration official said Bush's aides did not intend to mount a legalistic defense, but two GOP legal sources who have discussed the case with the White House said the careful, consistent wording of McClellan's statements was no accident.

"If they could have made a broader denial, they would have," said a lawyer who is close to the White House. "But they seem to be confident they didn't step over the legal line."

So let's stop the charade. They're guilty as sin. It's now crystal clear that from the very beginning the folks at the White House have known who did it. And pretty clearly the president didn't see anything wrong with it, or didn't care, because he didn't try to do anything about it.

More on Toensing from David Neiwert:

This defense has a decidedly familiar ring. From the same source: Victoria Toensing, aka the "better half" of the Republican tag team of [Joseph] diGenova and Toensing.
For those keeping score, diGenova was the "independent counsel" appointed to investigate former President George H.W. Bush and Co. for their illegal handling of Bill Clinton's passport files. For some reason, diGenova was conveniently appointed to the investigation just a couple of years before the U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled that the counsels' most important attribute was independence from the administration under investigation.
Here's how diGenova's absurdly partisan dismissal of the charges was reasoned in 1995:
As independent counsel, I have just wrapped up a three-year inquiry into the State Department's search of Bill Clinton's passport file when he was a Presidential candidate. The investigation found no criminality, just political stupidity, in the Bush Administration.
Hey, it worked the first time, didn't it?
Incidentally, as Robert Parry has reported at The Consortium, diGenova's whitewash covered up more than just the passport files affair -- it also papered over the possible enlistment of the Czechoslovakian secret police to dig up dirt on Clinton. Nonetheless:
Despite the phone records and the public declarations by Czech intelligence veterans, diGenova said he "found no evidence linking the publication of the [1992] Czech press stories to either Czechoslovak intelligence or the Bush-Quayle campaign." Similarly, diGenova announced that he found nothing wrong with the Bush administration's search of Clinton's personal passport files or its leaking of the confidential criminal referral about those files a month before the 1992 election.
The report aimed its harshest criticism at State Department Inspector General Sherman Funk for suspecting that a crime had been committed in the first place. DiGenova's report mocked the IG for "a woefully inadequate understanding of the facts."
Stung by the criticism, John Duncan, a senior lawyer in the IG's office, expressed disbelief at diGenova's findings. Duncan protested in writing that he could not understand how diGenova "reached the conclusion that none of the parties involved in the Clinton passport search violated any federal criminal statute. Astoundingly, [diGenova] has also concluded that no senior-level party to the search did anything improper whatever. This conclusion is so ludicrous that simply stating it demonstrates its frailty."
Duncan saw, too, a dangerous precedent that diGenova's see-no-evil report was accepting. "The Independent Counsel has provided his personal absolution to individuals who we found had attempted to use their U.S. Government positions to manipulate the election of a President of the United States," Duncan wrote.
Here's another, more detailed, account of the matter by Parry.
And just for posterity's sake ... Here are some previous posts on this point:
Spinning stupidity
Counterspinning Plame

Not to mention, Liberal Oasis points out what readers may have missed in the description of the Special Counsel that the Bush administration has appointed:

The new special counsel in charge of the PlameGate investigation is US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
What’s the insiders’ take on him, as summed up by the NY Times?
…even Mr. Fitzgerald's former opponents in the courtroom say [he is] dogged, dispassionate and endlessly prepared…
…said George Santangelo, who represented John Gambino, identified by the authorities as a crime family captain, in a case prosecuted by Mr. Fitzgerald. "…If John Ashcroft wanted any favors on this one, he went to the wrong guy. This guy is tough."…
…David N. Kelley, a former colleague of Mr. Fitzgerald…said [he] always seemed to view himself as "an independent prosecutor" of any case he approached — whatever the politics, whatever the players.
Nothing to worry about then, right? The case is in professional, diligent, apolitical hands.
Not so fast.
Go back to August 6, 1994, when the NY Times ("A Prosecutor Overnight") profiled brand new special prosecutor Ken Starr:
Few Democrats or Republicans who have worked with Kenneth W. Starr expressed any doubt today that he would be a fair and thoughtful prosecutor in the Whitewater case…
…A respected Washington insider and several times a contender for a nomination to the Supreme Court under Republican Presidents, Mr. Starr carries a reputation as a soft-spoken, even-tempered professional whose work is marked by thoroughness…
…Supporters of Mr. Starr, and they are many, say the former Solicitor General and Federal appeals court judge will be able to rise above both politics and his own inexperience to cast a balanced eye on a difficult inquiry…
…"He will be extremely thorough," said Alan Slobodin, the president of the legal studies division of the Washington Legal Foundation, a law and public policy group of which Mr. Starr is a member. "But it is not going to be a witch hunt."
Consistently described as judicious, balanced and fair-minded, Mr. Starr won accolades today from those who have worked both with and against him.
"If I was going to be a subject of an investigation, I would rather have him investigate me than almost anyone I can think of," said Arthur B. Spitzer, the legal director of the American Civil Liberty Union's [sic] Washington office.
"I don't have the feeling that he is a fervid prosecutor in the sense that he thinks that anyone accused of something must be guilty."
Though he has won a reputation as concertedly conservative, he wins the kind of praise rarely accorded those of pronounced ideology.
"There's a really small cast of people who have accumulated the kind of credentials he has," said Lincoln Caplan, author of "The 10th Justice,"...a book focusing on the office of Solicitor General.
"Such people prove their reliability to the culture by transcending rank partisanship. He managed to be consistently conservative without being sharp-edged."…
Oops. Just a wee bit off.

You bet!

11/19/03 <link>
Ronald Reagan's liberal legacy
Joshua Green of the Washington Monthly has a very compelling overview of former President Ronald Reagan's liberal legacy and how it is conveniently ignored by most conservative/right-wing frauds commentators. I reproduce major sections of the article here, but it worth reading in full. 

...The last few months have brought an avalanche of Reagan biographies, from John Harmer's Reagan: Man of Principle to Peter Schweizer's Reagan's War to Peter Wallison's Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency. They join such recent fare as William F. Buckley Jr.'s Ronald Reagan: An American Hero, Peggy Noonan's When Character Was King, and Dinesh D'Souza's Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, themselves just a fraction of the 427 listings on Amazon.com, many of them gauzy tributes, each striving to bestow an encomium more noble and gallant than the last. Indeed, what is so striking about these books--besides their sheer number--is their collective determination to exalt Reagan as the heroic embodiment of American conservatism. 
This is no accident. In fact, there is an active campaign to nail into place a canonical version of Reagan's life and career...Many of these hagiographies are written by noted conservative authors (Buckley, Noonan, D'Souza) or former Reagan staffers (Wallison, Martin Anderson, Michael Deaver), under the auspices of conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (Wallison), the Hoover Institution (Anderson and Schweizer), and the Heritage Foundation (Stephen F. Hayward's The Age of Reagan, the first of two volumes)...
One would have to go back to FDR to find a comparable example of a president portrayed in such consistently glowing terms--and the swashbuckling triumphs depicted in these books mythologize Reagan to a degree which exceeds even that. As one might expect, most gloss over or completely avoid mentioning the many embarrassing and outright alarming aspects of his presidency: from consulting astrologers to his fixation with biblical doom to the tortured rationalizations that enabled him to believe that he never traded arms for hostages. But they also do something else. Most of his conservative biographers espouse a Manichaean worldview in which Reagan's constancy in the face of liberal evils is the key to his greatness. But to sustain such an argument requires more than simply touting (and often exaggerating) his achievements, considerable though some of them were. The effort to gild Reagan's legacy also seems to demand that any accomplishment that didn't explicitly advance conservative goals be ex-punged from his record. And so they have been...
...Reagan is, to be sure, one of the most conservative presidents in U.S. history and will certainly be remembered as such. His record on the environment, defense, and economic policy is very much in line with its portrayal. But he entered office as an ideologue who promised a conservative revolution, vowing to slash the size of government, radically scale back entitlements, and deploy the powers of the presidency in pursuit of socially and culturally conservative goals. That he essentially failed in this mission hasn't stopped partisan biographers from pretending otherwise. (Noonan writes of his 1980 campaign pledges: "Done, done, done, done, done, done, and done. Every bit of it.")...
...At the outset of his first term, Reagan's revolution appeared to have unstoppable momentum. His administration passed an historic tax cut based on dramatic cuts in marginal tax rates and began a massive defense buildup. To help compensate for the tax cut, his first budget called for slashing $41.4 billion from 83 federal programs, only the first round in a planned series of cuts. And Reagan himself made known his desire to eliminate the departments of Energy and Education, and to scale back what his first budget director David Stockman called the "closet socialism" of Social Security and Medicaid.
But after his initial victories on tax cuts and defense, the revolution effectively stalled. Deficits started to balloon, the recession soon deepened, his party lost ground in the 1982 midterms, and thereafter Reagan never seriously tried to enact the radical domestic agenda he'd campaigned on. Rather than abolish the departments of Energy and Education, as he had promised to do if elected president, Reagan added a new cabinet-level department--one of the largest federal agencies--the Department of Veterans Affairs...
...Though in speeches Reagan continued to repeat his bold pledge to "get government out of the way of the people," government stayed pretty much where it was.
This hasn't stopped recent contemporary conservative biographers from claiming otherwise. "He said he would cut the budget, and he did," declares Peggy Noonan in When Character Was King. In fact, the budget grew significantly under Reagan. All he managed to do was moderately slow its rate of growth. What's more, the number of workers on the federal payroll rose by 61,000 under Reagan. (By comparison, under Clinton, the number fell by 373,000.)
Reagan also vastly expanded one of the largest federal domestic programs, Social Security. Before becoming president, he had often openly mused, much to the alarm of his politically sensitive staff, about restructuring Social Security to allow individuals to opt out of the system--an antecedent of today's privatization plans. At the start of his administration, with Social Security teetering on the brink of insolvency, Reagan attempted to push through immediate draconian cuts to the program. But the Senate unanimously rebuked his plan, and the GOP lost 26 House seats in the 1982 midterm elections, largely as a result of this overreach.
The following year, Reagan made one of the greatest ideological about-faces in the history of the presidency, agreeing to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security. In almost every way, the bailout flew in the face of conservative ideology. It dramatically increased payroll taxes on employees and employers, brought a whole new class of recipients--new federal workers--into the system, and, for the first time, taxed Social Security benefits, and did so in the most liberal way: only those of upper-income recipients. (As an added affront to conservatives, the tax wasn't indexed to inflation, meaning that more and more people have gradually had to pay it over time.)
By expanding rather than scaling back entitlements, Reagan--and Newt Gingrich after him--demonstrated that conservatives could not and would not launch a frontal assault on Social Security, effectively conceding that these cherished New Deal programs were central features of the American polity...
...It's conservative lore that Reagan the icon cut taxes, while George H.W. Bush the renegade raised them. As Stockman recalls, "No one was authorized to talk about tax increases on Ronald Reagan's watch, no matter what kind of tax, no matter how justified it was." Yet raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly--but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year's reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike--the largest since World War II--was actually "tax reform" that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn't count as raising taxes.)
Faced with looming deficits, Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Despite the fact that such increases were anathema to conservatives--and probably cost Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, reelection--Reagan raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84...
...The historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, though it achieved the supply side goal of lowering individual income tax rates, was a startlingly progressive reform. The plan imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history--an act utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today. Just two years after declaring, "there is no justification" for taxing corporate income, Reagan raised corporate taxes by $120 billion over five years and closed corporate tax loopholes worth about $300 billion over that same period. In addition to broadening the tax base, the plan increased standard deductions and personal exemptions to the point that no family with an income below the poverty line would have to pay federal income tax. Even at the time, conservatives within Reagan's administration were aghast...
...In 1975, the Democratic senator from Louisiana had passed into law the earned income tax credit (EITC), essentially a wage subsidy for the working poor. Long's measure was tiny to begin with and had dwindled to insignificance by the time Reagan agreed to expand it in 1986 as part of the tax reform act. Despite years of opposing social insurance programs, Reagan's support of the EITC gave rise to what has become one of the most effective antipoverty measures the federal government has ever devised--by the late 1990s, the EITC was lifting 4.3 million people out of poverty every year. Reagan's decision to expand it was "the most important anti-poverty measure enacted over the past decade," wrote The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt. The exemption of millions of low-wage earners from income taxes through the EITC and other reforms in 1986 added a significant measure of progressivity to the tax code. As evidence of its popularity with liberals, Clinton dramatically expanded the EITC in 1993...
...the vexing problem for conservatives, then and now, was that Reagan's bellicosity, which they liked, obscured an equally strong belief that nuclear weapons could and should be abolished, a conviction found mainly on the liberal left...But no one shared, or even understood until late in the game, Reagan's desire for total disarmament. "My dream," he later wrote in his memoirs, "became a world free of nuclear weapons."...
...Reagan was similarly helpful in advancing another great liberal cause, one in which his overall record is deeply tarnished: human rights. The idea of pressuring despotic governments to better treat their citizens had long appealed to the left and rankled the right. Like other conservatives, Reagan criticized the Helsinki Accords when Gerald Ford signed them in 1976, and disparaged Jimmy Carter during his 1980 campaign for what he considered a soft refusal to engage with the bitter realities of communism. Reagan's indifference to human rights abuses committed by the United States' erstwhile allies in Central America is an especially ugly stain on his presidency. Yet, as time progressed, there was one place where he did apply the logic of bringing human rights into public policy: the Soviet Union. Through the latter part of his presidency, Reagan spoke forcefully and openly about human rights in speeches and in meetings with Gorbachev, presenting lists of thousands of persecuted Soviet Jews and dissidents, many of whom were ultimately allowed to emigrate. "Human rights became for Reagan the final shame that he could bring to bear on that aspect of the Communist empire," says Sean Wilentz, director of the American Studies program at Princeton University.
Reagan's human rights policy may have been inconsistent and hypocritical. But the very fact that he had one transformed the politics of human rights. With dissidents from Andrei Sakarov to Vaclav Havel testifying to the power of his words in sustaining their movements, it became impossible for conservatives to deny the usefulness of such commitments as a component of American foreign policy. Today, there are almost as many human rights proponents on the right side of the aisle in Congress as on the left....
...When conservatives mythologize the Reagan presidency as the golden era of conservatism, it's not Reagan that they're mythologizing, but conservatism.
The great success of Reagan's 1980 campaign was that it united the disparate strands of the conservative movement: supply-siders, libertarians, religious conservatives, foreign policy hawks, and big business. The fact that Reagan's presidency didn't accomplish anything approaching its seismic promise--the size of government grew, abortion remained legal, and entitlements still abounded--is one that his partisan biographers elide by focusing on what Reagan believed and said rather than on what he actually did....

8/14/03 <link>
The Texas "education" "miracle"
Since one of the factors that propelled George W. Bush forward in the 2000 election was his education policy in Texas, it's appropriate to highlight the "miracle" that was(n't). Michael Winerip lays out some facts in this New York Times piece.
Some snippets (bold text is our emphasis):

ROBERT KIMBALL, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the "Texas miracle." His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet — and this is the miracle — not one dropout to report!
Nor was zero an unusual dropout rate in this school district that both President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have held up as the national showcase for accountability and the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law. Westside High here had 2,308 students and no reported dropouts; Wheatley High 731 students, no dropouts. A dozen of the city's poorest schools reported dropout rates under 1 percent.
Now, Dr. Kimball has witnessed many amazing things in his 58 years. Before he was an educator, he spent 24 years in the Army, fighting in Vietnam, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and touring the world. But never had he seen an urban high school with no dropouts. "Impossible," he said. "Someone will get pregnant, go to jail, get killed." Elsewhere in the nation, urban high schools report dropout rates of 20 percent to 40 percent.
A miracle? "A fantasy land," said Dr. Kimball. "They want the data to look wonderful and exciting. They don't tell you how to do it; they just say, 'Do it.' " In February, with the help of Dr. Kimball, the local television station KHOU broke the news that Sharpstown High had falsified its dropout data. That led to a state audit of 16 Houston schools, which found that of 5,500 teenagers surveyed who had left school, 3,000 should have been counted as dropouts but were not. Last week, the state appointed a monitor to oversee the district's data collection and downgraded 14 audited schools to the state's lowest rating.
Not very miraculous sounding, but here is the intriguing question: How did it get to the point that veteran principals felt they could actually claim zero dropouts? "You need to understand the atmosphere in Houston," Dr. Kimball said. "People are afraid. The superintendent has frequent meetings with principals. Before they go in, the principals are really, really scared. Panicky. They have to make their numbers."
Pressure? Some compare it to working under the old Soviet system of five-year plans.
In January, just before the scandal broke, Abelardo Saavedra, deputy superintendent, unveiled Houston's latest mandates for the new year. "The districtwide student attendance rate will increase from 94.6 percent to 95 percent," he wrote. "The districtwide annual dropout rate will decrease from 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent."
A shortage of resources to track departing students? No "unknowns" allowed? What to do? "Make it up," Dr. Kimball said. "The principals who survive are the yes men."
As for those who fail to make their numbers, it is termination time, one of many innovations championed by Dr. Paige as superintendent here from 1994 to 2001. He got rid of tenure for principals and mandated that they sign one-year contracts that allowed dismissal "without cause" and without a hearing.
On the other hand, for principals who make their numbers, it is bonus time.
Principals can earn a $5,000 bonus, district administrators up to $20,000. At Sharpstown High alone, Dr. Kimball said, $75,000 in bonus money was issued last year, before the fictitious numbers were exposed.
Dr. Paige's spokesman, Dan Langan, referred dropout questions to Houston officials, but said that the secretary was proud of the accountability system he established here, that it got results and that principals freely signed those contracts.
To skeptics like Dr. Kimball, the parallels to No Child Left Behind are depressing. The federal law mandates that every child in America pass reading and math proficiency tests by 2014 — a goal many educators believe is as impossible as zero dropouts.
And like Houston's dropout program, President Bush's education budget has been criticized as an underfinanced mandate, proposing $12 billion this year for Title 1, $6 billion below what the No Child Left Behind law permits. "This isn't about educating children," Dr. Kimball said. "It's about public relations."
If Houston officials were interested in accountability, he said, they would assign him to a high school to monitor the dropout data that he has come to understand so well. Instead, after he blew the whistle on Sharpstown High, he was reassigned, for four months, to sit in a windowless room with no work to do.

6/9/03 <link>
A reminder that most Presidents lie at some time or the other
Don Williams writes in Knox News, thusly: "...
They were shocked! Shocked they had me to know way back in February when I wrote the obvious - that governments lie in order to rally people to war - and so we shouldn't be duped by all the noise coming out of Washington. Some readers let me know how unpatriotic I was to suggest such a thing. Others saw it my way. 
Whatever you think about our unfinished business in Iraq, it's pretty clear our leaders lied by trumpeting faulty or fabricated intelligence to convince the world Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was marching lockstep with al-Qaida.
I don't know why expressing my doubts should have been so disturbing. Governments lie all the time. President Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky. Bush the Elder lied about "No New Taxes."
The Reagan/Bush administrations lied about Iran-Contra. Nixon lied about Watergate and, earlier, his secret plan for peace in Vietnam. Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin, which hastened our tragic foray into Southeast Asia. Kennedy and Eisenhower both lied about the Bay of Pigs, at least before the fact.
Don't be naive, don't be cynical, but do maintain a healthy skepticism. We're a great country, but that doesn't mean our leaders won't lie to us. They're in a tough game, and they want to be top dog, so they tell lies to get what they want. But telling lies to start wars is heinous, and it's up to us in the media, the pulpits, living rooms and chat rooms to point that out..."

6/8/03 <link>
What is happening in the United States today under the Bush administration? Some of our favorite "spokesmen" provide their perspectives and we provide the text of their comments/articles here.

Capitalism's 'Deal' Falls Apart
Michael Kinsley (Washington Post)

The fall of communism 14 years ago was not the end of history, despite Francis Fukuyama's famous prediction. It was, though, pretty much the end of the argument, in most of the world, about the best way to organize society. The answer (despite quibbles over the details and a surprisingly resilient minority preference for theocracy) is democratic capitalism.

But this intellectual victory for the dynamic duo didn't resolve the tension between them. Democracy presumes and enshrines equality. Capitalism not only presumes but requires and produces inequality. How can you have a society based on equality and inequality at the same time? The classic answer is that democracy and capitalism should reign in their own separate "spheres" (philosopher Michael Walzer's term). As citizens, we are all equal. As players in the economy, we enjoy differing rewards depending on our efforts, talents or luck.

But how do you prevent power in one from leaching into the other? In various ways, we try to police the border. Capitalism is protected from democracy, to some extent, by provisions of the Constitution that guard individuals against tyranny of the majority -- for example, by forbidding the government to take your property without due process of law. Protecting democracy from capitalism is the noble intention, at least, of campaign finance laws that get enacted every couple of decades.

Separation of the spheres also depends on an unspoken deal, a nonaggression pact, between democracy's political majority and capitalism's affluent minority. The majority acknowledges that capitalism benefits all of us, even if some benefit a lot more than others. The majority also takes comfort in the belief that everyone has at least a shot at scoring big. The affluent minority, meanwhile, acknowledges that its good fortune is at least in part the luck of the draw. It recognizes that domestic tranquility, protection from foreign enemies and other government functions are worth more to people with more at stake. And it retains a tiny yet prudent fear of what beast might be awakened if the fortunate folks get too greedy about protecting and enlarging their good fortune.

That was the deal. Under George W. Bush, though, the deal is breaking down.

With Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the winners of the economic sphere are ratting on their side of the bargain and colonizing the sphere next door. Campaign contributions are only the crudest way power is transferred from the economic sphere to the political one. In addition, there are well-financed lobbying organizations, including some masquerading as research institutes. There is the inherent complexity and boredom of tax and regulatory issues, which repel people who don't have a major financial stake. There is the social milieu of the president and most members of Congress. They may not all come from the worlds of posh aristocracy or self-satisfied business success (Bush remarkably straddles both), but these are the worlds they are plunged into as they rise to congressional leadership. And, in the back of their minds, these are the worlds they may hope to find a place in when they lay down the weary burdens of power.

The recently enacted tax bill is such a shocking and brazen gift to the wealthy that it is hard to describe in anything short of these cartoon-Marxist terms. After two Bush tax cuts, consider how we now burden people at the bottom and at the top of the economic ladder.

A minimum-wage worker today must pay the FICA payroll tax of 15 percent (if you include the employer's share, as economists agree you should) on the very first dollar she earns. If she has children, she may qualify for an earned income tax credit, but she may not. If she works hard and moves up the income scale, she'll soon be paying another 15 percent in income tax. You might call this "double taxation," but President Bush doesn't.

Our minimum-wage worker most likely falls into one of the unadvertised holes in the Bush something-for-everyone tax cut. There is nothing in it for her. This gap around the minimum wage was supposedly inadvertent, and Republicans on Capitol Hill were eager to correct it. But Republican congressional straw boss Tom DeLay said incredibly that he would allow the alleged correction only as part of yet another big tax cut with more goodies for the serious income brackets.

Now look at the fellow who has a few million or billion. He probably has paid no income tax on most of that pile, because investment profits are taxed only when they are "realized" -- i.e., cashed in. Any investment profits that he hasn't cashed in when he cashes in himself escape the income tax forever. If he can hold on for a few years, under current plans, the estate tax will die before he does. His investment income also is exempt from the 15 percent FICA tax that hits the minimum-wage worker at dollar number one.

And now the tax rate on both dividends and capital gains is capped at 15 percent. This is supposed to alleviate the unfairness of having both a corporate income tax and a tax on the profits individuals earn on their investments in corporations. This is the one Bush does call "double taxation," and he rails against its injustice. In 2002 the total burden of the corporate income tax was barely one-fifth of the burden of payroll taxes, but it apparently strikes a more sensitive group of people.

So under the American tax system, as designed by the Bush administration and congressional Republicans, the most a person of vast wealth is expected to contribute to the commonweal from his or her last dollar of investment profits is the same 15 cents or so that a minimum-wage worker is expected to pay on his or her first dollar. This does not mean that we have a flat tax. We have a tax system of vast complexity, with wildly different tax burdens on different people. But we have a tax system that, on balance, knows who's in charge.

Duped and Betrayed
Paul Krugman (New York Times)

According to The New Republic, Senator Zell Miller — one of a dwindling band of Democrats who still think they can make deals with the Bush administration and its allies — got shafted in the recent tax bill. He supported the bill in part because it contained his personal contribution: a measure requiring chief executives to take personal responsibility for corporate tax declarations. But when the bill emerged from conference, his measure had been stripped out.

Will "moderates" — the people formerly known as "conservatives" — ever learn? Today's "conservatives" — the people formerly known as the "radical right" — don't think of a deal as a deal; they think of it as an opportunity to pull yet another bait and switch.

Let's look at the betrayals involved in this latest tax cut.

Most media attention has focused on the child tax credit that wasn't. As in 2001, the administration softened the profile of a tax cut mainly aimed at the wealthy by including a credit for families with children. But at the last minute, a change in wording deprived 12 million children of some or all of that tax credit. "There are a lot of things that are more important than that," declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. (Maybe he was thinking of the "Hummer deduction," which stayed in the bill: business owners may now deduct up to $100,000 for the cost of a vehicle, as long as it weighs at least 6,000 pounds.)

Less attention has been paid to fine print that reveals the supposed rationale for the dividend tax cut as a smoke screen. The problem, we were told, is that profits are taxed twice: once when they are earned, a second time when they are paid out as dividends. But as any tax expert will tell you, the corporate tax law is full of loopholes; many profitable corporations pay little or no taxes.

The original Bush plan ensured that dividends from such companies would not get a tax break. But those safeguards vanished from the final bill: dividends will get special treatment regardless of how much tax is paid by the company that issues them.

This little change has two big consequences. First, as Glenn Hubbard, the former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and the author of the original plan, delicately puts it, "It's hard to get a lot of progressivity at the top."

Translation: wealthy individuals who get most of their income from dividends and capital gains will often end up paying lower tax rates than ordinary Americans who work for a living.

Second, the tax cut — originally billed as a way to reduce abuses — may well usher in a golden age of tax evasion. We can be sure that lawyers and accountants are already figuring out how to disguise income that should be taxed at a 35 percent rate as dividends that are taxed at only 15 percent. Since there's no need to show that tax was ever paid on profits, tax shelters should be easy to construct.

Of course, the big betrayal was George W. Bush's decision to push this tax cut in the first place. There is no longer any doubt that the man who ran as a moderate in the 2000 election is actually a radical who wants to undo much of the Great Society and the New Deal.

Look at it this way: as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, this latest tax cut reduces federal revenue as a share of G.D.P. to its lowest level since 1959. That is, federal taxes are now back to what they were in an era when Medicare and Medicaid didn't exist, and Social Security was still a minor expense. How can we maintain these programs, which have become essential to scores of millions of Americans, at today's tax rates? We can't.

Grover Norquist, the right-wing ideologue who has become one of the most powerful men in Washington, once declared: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Mr. Bush has made a pretty good start on that plan.

Which brings us back to Senator Miller, and all those politicians and pundits who still imagine that there is room for compromise, that they can find some bipartisan middle ground. Mr. Norquist was recently quoted in The Denver Post with the answer to that: "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."  

Standard Operating Procedure
Paul Krugman (New York Times)

The mystery of Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction has become a lot less mysterious. Recent reports in major British newspapers and three major American news magazines, based on leaks from angry intelligence officials, back up the sources who told my colleague Nicholas Kristof that the Bush administration "grossly manipulated intelligence" about W.M.D.'s.

And anyone who talks about an "intelligence failure" is missing the point. The problem lay not with intelligence professionals, but with the Bush and Blair administrations. They wanted a war, so they demanded reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence.

In Britain, the news media have not been shy about drawing the obvious implications, and the outrage has not been limited to war opponents. The Times of London was ardently pro-war; nonetheless, it ran an analysis under the headline "Lie Another Day." The paper drew parallels between the selling of the war and other misleading claims: "The government is seen as having `spun' the threat from Saddam's weapons just as it spins everything else."

Yet few have made the same argument in this country, even though "spin" is far too mild a word for what the Bush administration does, all the time. Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq war gain credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.

Am I exaggerating? Even as George Bush stunned reporters by declaring that we have "found the weapons of mass destruction," the Republican National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes." That is simply a lie. You've heard about those eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo. In total, 50 million American households — including a majority of those with members over 65 — get nothing; another 20 million receive less than $100 each. And a great majority of those left behind do pay taxes.

And the bald-faced misrepresentation of an elitist tax cut offering little or nothing to most Americans is only the latest in a long string of blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social Security reform to energy and the environment. So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?

It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.

If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we're in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain's participation in the war — writes that "the prime minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks."

It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.

But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a "khaki election" next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.  

George Soros returning to U.S. - and as Calpundit highlights:
"...OPEN SOCIETY....Billionaire George Soros is leaving Russia because there's someplace else that needs his help more:
After 15 years and $1 billion in charity, international financier and philanthropist George Soros bid an emotional farewell to Russia on Thursday, saying it was time to focus his efforts on a nation more in need of help -- America.
"I was led to come to Russia because of my concern for a prospering open society," Soros told students and journalists at the Higher School of Economics, which was created with his funding. "But now I have to concentrate on what goes on in America. The fight for an open society now has to be fought there," he said

5/27/03 <link>
Clinton ranked third best President behind Lincoln and Kennedy, and George W. Bush ties him for 3rd place
(via Skippy)

DeWayne Wickham, who clearly can't hide his love for Clinton, points out that Clinton's rating bounced back. Personally, I don't give any credence to this kind of polling but it is amusing enough that I thought I'd add this tidbit to this page - not to mention how this has happened in spite of the mainstream media's relative worship of the current chief executive. 
"...Bill Clinton now ranks as this nation's third best chief executive, according to a recent CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. Only Abraham Lincoln (chosen by 15%) and John F. Kennedy (13%) finished ahead of Clinton (11%) in the April poll, which asked Americans who was "the greatest" president. George W. Bush managed to tie Clinton for third place. Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, garnered 10% of the vote, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. Bush's father, the 41st president, was chosen by just 2% of the respondents, tying with Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson...the number of people who view Clinton as the best president has more than doubled in the past two years — and why Bush managed only to tie Clinton in this ranking...Clinton was considered the best president by 29% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Only 10% of that group picked Bush..."

5/16/03 <link>
We are on a hiatus, sort of. 
In the meantime, Paul Krugman has something to say

Paths of Glory

The central dogma of American politics right now is that George W. Bush, whatever his other failings, has been an effective leader in the fight against terrorism. But the more you know about the state of the world, the less you believe that dogma. The Iraq war, in particular, did nothing to make America safer — in fact, it did the terrorists a favor.

How is the war on terror going? You know about the Riyadh bombings. But something else happened this week: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank with no discernible anti-Bush animus, declared that Al Qaeda is "more insidious and just as dangerous" as it was before Sept. 11. So much for claims that we had terrorists on the run.

Still, isn't the Bush administration doing its best to fight terrorism? No.

The administration's antiterror campaign makes me think of the way television studios really look. The fancy set usually sits in the middle of a shabby room, full of cardboard and duct tape. Networks take great care with what viewers see on their TV screens; they spend as little as possible on anything off camera.

And so it has been with the campaign against terrorism. Mr. Bush strikes heroic poses on TV, but his administration neglects anything that isn't photogenic.

I've written before about the Bush administration's amazing refusal to pay for even minimal measures to protect the nation against future attacks — measures that would secure ports, chemical plants, nuclear facilities and so on. (But the Department of Homeland Security isn't completely ineffectual: this week it helped Texas Republicans track down their Democratic colleagues, who had staged a walkout.)

The neglect of homeland security is mirrored by the Bush administration's failure to follow through on overseas efforts once the TV-friendly part of the operation has come to an end. The overthrow of the Taliban was a real victory — arguably our only important victory against terrorism. But as soon as Kabul fell, the administration lost interest. Now most of Afghanistan is under the control of warlords, the Karzai government is barely hanging on, and the Taliban are making a comeback.

Senator Bob Graham has made an even stronger charge: that Al Qaeda was "on the ropes" a year ago, but was able to recover because the administration diverted military and intelligence resources to Iraq. As former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he's in a position to know. And before you dismiss him as a partisan Democrat, bear in mind that when he began raising this alarm last fall his Republican colleagues supported him: "He's absolutely right to be concerned," said Senator Richard Shelby, who has seen the same information.

Senator Graham also claims that a classified Congressional report reveals that "the lessons of Sept. 11 are not being applied today," and accuses the administration of a cover-up.

Still, we defeated Saddam. Doesn't that make us safer? Well, no.

Saddam wasn't a threat to America — he had no important links to terrorism, and the main U.S. team searching for weapons of mass destruction has packed up and gone home. Meanwhile, true to form, the Bush team lost focus as soon as the TV coverage slackened off. The first result was an orgy of looting — including looting of nuclear waste dumps that, incredibly, we failed to secure. Dirty bombs, anyone? Now, according to an article in The New Republic, armed Iraqi factions are preparing for civil war.

That leaves us facing exactly the dilemma war skeptics feared. If we leave Iraq quickly it may well turn into a bigger, more dangerous version of Afghanistan. But if we stay for an extended period we risk becoming, as one commentator put it, "an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land" — just the recruiting tool Al Qaeda needs. Who said that? President George H. W. Bush, explaining his decision not to go on to Baghdad back in 1991.

Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, isn't afraid to use the "Q" word, worrying that because of America's failure to follow up, "this wonderful victory we have achieved will turn into a quagmire."

The truth is that the pursuit of televised glory — which led the Bush administration to turn its attention away from Al Qaeda, and to pick a fight with a regime that, however nasty, posed no threat — has made us much less safe than we should be.

3/13/03 <link>
President Bush's scripted Press Conference and (mostly) lapdog media
It has become clear that the President's second formal Press Conference of his entire Presidency has not left too many journalists thrilled. At a time when Bush administration officials like Richard Perle threaten reputed journalists by calling them terrorists and denigrate France as having "aligned itself" with Saddam, a few journalists are speaking out after the "press conference" - not just against the administration, but also the mainstream media and press corps.
Michael Crowley, New York Observer:
But reporters on-site were alternately flabbergasted, flailing and embarrassed by the experience. None seemed to have the legs to get into the game. Mr. Bush ran out the clock on his hour of prime time, using it with the focus of Jimmy Dean selling sausage, snubbing tough reporters while calling on buddies, issuing one-size-fits-all talking points to all comers, giving the answers he wanted to the questions he didn’t. He even openly taunted one correspondent, CNN’s John King, for daring to ask a multi-part question. "I don’t think he was sufficiently challenged," said ABC News White House correspondent Terry Moran. He said Mr. Bush’s hyper-management left the press corps "looking like zombies."...Mr. Bush worked from a podium-pasted pre-determined list of acceptable reporters to call upon. USA Today’s Larry McQuillan, on the White House beat since Jimmy Carter, said Mr. Bush’s homeroom-proctor sheet of preferred questioners managed to insult those didn’t appear on it—and make those who did seem like Karl Rove’s brown-nosers, the camp kids who got the best desserts. "The process in some ways demeaned the reporters who were called on as much as those who weren’t," Mr. McQuillan said. "They completely played us," added a correspondent for a major daily newspaper. "What’s the point of having a press conference if you’re not going to answer questions? It was calculated on so many different levels."...
But to what extent where the reporters themselves to blame? Although some asked reasonably pointed questions, most did with a tone of extreme deference—"Mr. President, sir …. Thank you, sir …. Mr. President, good evening"—that suggested a skittishness, to which they will admit, about being seen as unpatriotic or disrespectful of a commander in chief on the eve of war. Few made any effort to follow up their questions after Mr. Bush’s recitation of arguments that were more speech-like than extemporaneous: Saddam Hussein is a threat to America, Iraq has not disarmed, Sept. 11 must never happen again.
It was a missed opportunity. From the media’s perspective, the purpose of a press conference is to hold a President accountable, to see him work on his feet, to understand his priorities, to give viewers insight into his character, to make a little news, or to allow the President to speak to the people in a responsive and human voice that a formal address doesn’t allow.
That didn’t happen. On Thursday night, Mr. Bush reinforced an image of a scripted man on a tightrope who followed his handlers’ cue cards...
When the time came, reporters were escorted into the East Room in pairs, apparently to ensure they adhered to a careful seating chart. During his appearance, Mr. Bush answered what he wanted, no matter what the questions were, and there were no follow-ups...In fact, the event’s only moment of candor may have come when Mr. Bush admitted during the conference that he was calling on reporters according to his pre-arranged list of names, which his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, later copped to preparing. "This is scripted," Mr. Bush joked. Strangely, many reporters laughed at this remarkable joke, which had the additional benefit of being true...
They then buckled in for a happy hour of snubs. Correspondents there were particularly startled by two. Mr. Bush failed to call on Washington Post White House correspondent Mike Allen in the front row. Given that it was the second straight news conference in which the hometown paper of record—both Mr.Allen and the other Post White House correspondent, Dana Milbank, have particularly irritated the West Wing—was chilled and chopped, it was hard not to see it as punitive.
Mr. Bush also passed over Helen Thomas, the 82-year-old Hearst News writer who has customarily asked the opening question at White House press briefings since John F. Kennedy was President. It is true that Ms. Thomas has become something of a crank in recent years...Nevertheless, plenty of people—including Mr. Donaldson—considered this a particularly gratuitous break with tradition. "If I’m the President and I can’t handle reporters’ questions, I don’t have any business being in the office," he said...
It should also be noted that no one asked Mr. Bush about anything besides Iraq and North Korea—crucial topics both, but a question about the struggling economy might have taken Mr. Bush at least temporarily off-message.
A lack of follow-ups was also problematic. "In that room, one of the things a questioner has to do is create a moment, a confrontation with the President," said Mr. Moran, who got in a question about world opinion—but now regrets not following up more forcefully. "Not to showboat, not to draw attention to yourself, but to bring the President back down to what he is: a citizen President who needs to be engaged in a normal, ordinary conversation about these issues...But it’s not as if a leader on the eve of war can’t risk departing from his script. Just look at how British Prime Minister Tony Blair does it across the Atlantic. At a Downing Street presser in January, Mr. Blair took one blunt question after another, including this killer: What he would say to a mother who has just waved her young son goodbye, knowing he may never return from Iraq? Yet rather than retreat into dogma, the Prime Minister spoke like a real—yet intelligent—person. "I understand, of course, my people think it’s a very remote threat, and it’s far away, and why does it bother us…. Now I simply say to you, it is a matter of time, unless we act and take a stand, before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together. And I regard them as two sides of the same coin." Mr. Blair was so intellectually honest that he even raised the complicating question of North Korea unprompted. Mr. Bush probably would have insulted the reporter..."

Others are also taking the media to task on their general failure to act as an independent fourth estate. Matt Talibi flays the Press in his article in NYPress titled "Cleaning the Pool - The White House Press Corps politely grabs its ankles."  He says, "...After watching George W. Bush’s press conference last Thursday night, I’m more convinced than ever: The entire White House press corps should be herded into a cargo plane, flown to an altitude of 30,000 feet, and pushed out, kicking and screaming, over the North Atlantic...The Bush press conference to me was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism, a final announcement that the press no longer performs anything akin to a real function...Reporters argue that they have no choice. They’ll say they can’t protest or boycott the staged format, because they risk being stripped of their seat in the press pool. For the same reason, they say they can’t write anything too negative. They can’t write, for instance, "President Bush, looking like a demented retard on the eve of war…" That leaves them with the sole option of "working within the system" and, as they like to say, "trying to take our shots when we can." But the White House press corps’ idea of "taking a shot" is David Sanger asking Bush what he thinks of British foreign minister Jack Straw saying that regime change was not necessarily a war goal. And then meekly sitting his ass back down when Bush ignores the question. They can’t write what they think, and can’t ask real questions. What the hell are they doing there? If the answer is "their jobs," it’s about time we started wondering what that means."

Want more? James Goldborough in the San Diego Union-Tribune says, "News media abdicate role in Iraq war". Peter Johnson in USA Today says, "Bush has media walking a fine line". Antonia Zerbisias says in The Toronto Star that "Bush-league script enraging Press". A Washington Post Economics Reporter confesses in a letter to Poynter.org, that "...In the wake of Seymour Hersh's open statements about the way the White House treats the press, I feel compelled to relate a personal story that illustrates how both the White House and the press have allowed manipulation of the printed word in Washington to get out of hand...(read more)". Bruce Morton gingerly steps around the topic of how the U.S. news media allowed the President to make a false case for a Saddam-9/11-Al Qaeda link.  

Jill Nelson on MSNBC/Slate says "Presidential lust: Clinton's was carnal, Bush's is for war". She goes on to say, "...WHATEVER YOU THOUGHT of Bill Clinton, it was nearly impossible not to feel disgusted and saddened by his sexual misadventures. Here was the leader of the free world apparently so obsessed with a twenty-something intern that he couldn’t keep his pants zipped long enough to comprehend the foolishness of his actions. Yet in the end, the scandal factor and efforts to impeach him aside, Clinton’s lust, mean as it was, was his alone. Not so George W. Bush, whose lust for war has, before the first bomb is dropped, already shredded decades-long international alliances and polarized the United Nations, the American people, and nations and citizens across the globe...We are captives of a president who cannot be trusted to tell the truth, as demonstrated by his repeated efforts to link the 9/11 attacks to Iraq. It is a lie that Saddam Hussein has threatened to attack the United States; he had not. It is a lie that this war is not about oil but democracy, when already the spoils of a war that has not yet commenced are being divided up. Is anyone surprised that Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former place of employment, has already received a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to fight possible oil fires in Iraq and is bidding to become lead contractor on rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, the one the coming war will destroy?...In the face of Bush’s lust for war and global hegemony, Clinton’s private lust for sex becomes, if not exactly endearing, laughable. Clinton did not drag the people of the world into the Oval Office and demand that we all collude in his lustful fantasies. Bush, with his seeming determination to use American military might to remove the leadership of any nation he doesn’t approve of, is forcing not only reluctant Americans but the rest of the world to participate in his fantasies of money, ego, and world domination. It’s enough to make you yearn for Clinton, who just wanted a secret piece on the side..."

3/8/03 <link>
Unconvinced on Iraq
President Bush's "press conference" on Thursday night has generally been received negatively in the press. First, let's take a look at some obvious comments that were made.
Here is Maureen Dowd in the New York Times: "...
But the Xanax cowboy made it clear that Saddam is going to pay for 9/11. Even if the fiendish Iraqi dictator was not involved with Al Qaeda, he has supported "Al Qaeda-type organizations," as the president fudged, or "Al Qaeda types" or "a terrorist network like Al Qaeda."...It still confuses many Americans that, in a world full of vicious slimeballs, we're about to bomb one that didn't attack us on 9/11 (like Osama); that isn't intercepting our planes (like North Korea); that isn't financing Al Qaeda (like Saudi Arabia); that isn't home to Osama and his lieutenants (like Pakistan); that isn't a host body for terrorists (like Iran, Lebanon and Syria)....I think the president is genuinely obsessed with protecting Americans and believes that smoking Saddam will reduce the chances of Islamic terrorists' snatching catastrophic weapons. That is why no cost — shattering the U.N., NATO, the European alliance, Tony Blair's career and the U.S. budget — is too high...But citing 9/11 eight times in his news conference was exploitative, given that the administration concedes there is no evidence tying Iraq to the 9/11 plot. By stressing that totem, Mr. Bush tried to alchemize American anger at Al Qaeda into support for smashing Saddam..."
Tom Friedman, the generally hawkish writer in the New York Times had this to say (finally): "...I went to President Bush's White House news conference on Thursday to see how he was wrestling with the momentous issue of Iraq. One line he uttered captured all the things that are troubling me about his approach. It was when he said: "When it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission."
The first thing that bothered me was the phrase, "When it comes to our security . . ." Fact: The invasion of Iraq today is not vital to American security. Saddam Hussein has neither the intention nor the capability to threaten America, and is easily deterrable if he did. 
This is not a war of necessity. That was Afghanistan. Iraq is a war of choice — a legitimate choice to preserve the credibility of the U.N., which Saddam has defied for 12 years, and to destroy his tyranny and replace it with a decent regime that could drive reform in the Arab/Muslim world. That's the real case. The problem that Mr. Bush is having with the legitimate critics of this war stems from his consistent exaggeration on this point. When Mr. Bush takes a war of choice and turns it into a war of necessity, people naturally ask, "Hey, what's going on here? We're being hustled. The real reason must be his father, or oil, or some right-wing ideology."
And that brings us to the second phrase: "We really don't need anybody's permission." Again, for a war of no choice against the 9/11 terrorists in Kabul, we didn't need anyone's permission. But for a war of choice in Iraq, we need the world's permission — because of what it would take to rebuild Iraq.
Mr. Bush talks only about why it's right to dismantle the bad Iraq, not what it will take to rebuild a decent Iraq — a distant land, the size of California, divided like Yugoslavia. I believe we can help build a decent Iraq, but not alone. If we're alone, it will turn into a U.S. occupation and make us the target for everyone's frustration. And alone, Americans will not have the patience, manpower and energy for nation-building, which is not a sprint but a marathon..."
Jonathan Alter writes "Totally Unconvincing" in Newsweek: "
...It’s one thing for France or Russia to veto a Security Council resolution. That has happened before. But Bush seems determined to go ahead even if the U.S. is actually outvoted on the Council. He wants his opponents there to be on the record opposing the war. Why? To rub their faces in it after a big victory on the ground? Smart diplomacy is about preventing other countries from embarrassment, not causing it. Bush’s satisfaction in being the principled loser in the Council is outweighing his long-term interest in repairing relations with our allies. ..The second big problem with the Bush sales job is one of simple logic. Bush was lucky that no reporter asked him about his administration’s most recent budget request for rebuilding Afghanistan—a big fat zero. (Congress added a couple of hundred million). He seems to think we can play 52-card pickup and then simply leave the room. The same logical inconsistency applies to North Korea, which he described as a “regional problem.” Let’s get this straight: Saddam’s potential development of nuclear weapons five or 10 years from now constitutes an imminent threat to the United States, but North Korea’s possession of them five to 10 weeks from now does not? I personally favor taking out Saddam now so that he’s not Kim Jong Il in a few years. But it seems extremely unwise to ignore the threat of North Korea just because we have our heart set on hitting someone else. The president’s deeper logical problem relates to the way he uses the bully pulpit to make an argument. His habit—on display again Thursday night—is to simply assert, assert, assert until the message sinks in. It’s as if war supporters believe that if they repeat the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection enough, people will eventually believe it..."

Regardless of the content, it is interesting that some articles are doing the rounds on the Internet that suggest the possibility that Bush's "press conference" was scripted, with reporters having been told what they can ask. See CalPundit for more on this. Incidentally, Kevin (at CalPundit) and others have finally come around to the camp that believes that a unilateral invasion of Iraq is not the right solution to get Saddam out. We have argued this using all the detailed pros and cons, for some time now. About time guys!

2/25/03 <link>
Dana Milbank on Karl Rove perjury re: tort reform, plus most recent Bush fabrication on the economy
On Rove:
"...In an interview for a book published this week, Rove claimed responsibility for talking Bush into the subject of "tort reform" when he was packaging Bush for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race...
As part of his work for the tobacco company, Rove in 1996 provided advice on a "push poll" to see how best to damage then-Texas Attorney General Dan Morales, who was threatening to sue the tobacco industry. Rove presented a copy of the findings to Bush's office. Rove's claim of responsibility for the tort reform issue is somewhat at odds with a deposition he gave during the tobacco lawsuit. Asked whether he discussed overhauling civil liability law with then-Gov. Bush, he replied: "I can't say that I did. But I can't say that I didn't. I do not recall. I know that tort reform was a significant part of his legislative agenda but it was not my area." Slater and Moore write that while tort reform is standard Republican fare, "Rove wanted that issue elevated because he knew that its most ardent advocates in Texas could provide millions of dollars in campaign contributions needed to unseat [former Texas governor Ann] Richards."..."

On Bush:
The White House has had a difficult time staying "on message" with Bush's proposed $670 billion tax cut. The president's own economists have contradicted his and other aides' assertions that the cut would pay for itself and that deficits do not increase interest rates. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has raised doubts. And now, a survey of private economists has accused Bush of misrepresentation. On Thursday, Bush implied that the private economists who participate in the "Blue Chip" forecast had based their estimates on his tax plan, saying his proposal "makes sense when analyzed by the economists behind the Blue Chip forecasts." The survey's editor, Randell Moore, called the White House to complain that Bush "made it sound as if Blue Chip economic forecasters had endorsed his plan." The economists had assumed only that some generic stimulus would pass..."

And more:
"...When Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar visited the president's ranch Saturday, Bush heaped praise on the Spaniard for his stand against Iraq. He spoke of Aznar's "courage and moral clarity," adding: "I thank you for your friendship."
But Aznar shouldn't let his head swell: Last week, Bush said Turkey has "no better friend" than America. A month earlier, he told Poland's leader "I've got no better friend in Europe." Israel's Ariel Sharon "has got no better friend than the United States," which, in turn, has "no better friend in the world than Great Britain." Even the Philippines has earned "no better friend" status. Two countries notably absent from Bush's current friendship list are France and Germany, both obstacles to his Iraq policy. Has Bush concluded he does not need them? "Au contraire," said press secretary Ari Fleischer..."

Paul Krugman says, "Threats, Promises, Lies"
"...Despite his decline in the polls, Mr. Bush hasn't fully exhausted his reservoir of trust in this country. People still remember the stirring image of the president standing amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm around a fireman's shoulders — and our ever-deferential, protective media haven't said much about the broken promises that followed. But the rest of the world simply doesn't trust Mr. Bush either to honor his promises or to tell the truth..."

2/24/03 <link>
Conservative columnists at WorldNet Daily and National Review, along with mainstream newspapers point out President Bush's connections to terror suspect Sami Al-Arian

In the meantime, Washington Post says "Bush faces increasingly poor image overseas" 

2/23/03 <link>
The compassionate conservative lies used by Mr. Bush for "selling" his tax cut

2/22/03 <link>
David Gergen on Bush: he's "just the opposite" of Reagan (via MWO)
Remember David Gergen - the guy who worked for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton and who now is the Editor-at-large for U.S. News and World Report? Here's a part of what he had to say about Bush Jr. in a CNBC panel discussion on 2/10/03 (bold text is our emphasis).
GOODWIN: Well, I think one of the--one of the things that's different in a sense is that when Johnson put forth his Great Society program, his domestic program, it was at that time a very popular program. And he had huge majorities in the Congress, and so that it passed the civil rights acts, Medicare, you know, Great Society, aid to education. And it was a tragedy for the nation that that extraordinary domestic policy program was cut short by the war. But he at least had a couple of years of success before that happened. The interesting thing with President Bush, it seems to me, is he learned two lessons from his father's defeat. One, as David said earlier, was don't appear that you don't care about domestic politics, but the other was don't alienate your base. And I think since he's been president, he's been much more conservative than anyone imagined when he ran. And I'm not sure the country is where he is at, ideologically, in conservative terms. So even if he puts his attention to the economy, I'm not sure it's where the country wants him to go....
Prof. GERGEN: I--I want to follow up. I think Doris is absolutely right on that second point. And a--and--and it's one of the big surprises, I think, of the--of the Bush presidency. And it--it brings back echoes to me of--of--of the Reagan presidency. It's often said, you know, that George W. Bush is the true son of--of Reagan, the true heir to the Reagan rev--presidency. But, you know, there was a thing about Reagan--Reagan, on domestic policy, tended to talk right, but tended to govern more toward the center. And--and George W. Bush is just the opposite. He--his conversation, his--his dialogue, his language is the language more of the center. But his act--his policies, his actual governance...
GOODWIN: Absolutely.
Prof. GERGEN: ...is far--much farther to the right of Reagan. It's--it--there--there's a radical conservatism that runs through much of the Bush policy, whether it's tax cuts or affirmative action or the environment or education or dismantling The Great Society. It's--I think it's been a major surprise
MATHISEN: Doris, do you agree with that?
GOODWIN: Oh, absolutely, I agree. I mean, I think part of the reason he won the election, to the extent that he did win the election, was that people thought that he was moderate, and most of the country is of moderate persuasions. But the stances he's taken on this tax cut, still insisting on it in the midst of this war when the resources are needed even for the war, much less for the economy and speaking--David's right. He spoke in the--in good terms about the environment in his State of the Union, but the reality was that having some hydrogen car 20 years from now is not going to help as much as putting some--some restrictions on the SUVs that are out there right now....

2/14/03 <link>
Mr. Bush's approval ratings slide
In spite of the media blitz in favor of Colin Powell and the administration, Mr. Bush's ratings which started to go back up, appear to have come back down to pre-9/11 levels. USA Today also reports that (bold text is our emphasis):
"...The number of people who think the economy is in bad shape is at the highest level in a decade in the new CBS-New York Times poll. The poll indicated that six in 10 Americans believe the economy is in bad condition. Only 38% approve of the president's handling of the economy, while 53% disapprove. That's the lowest rating on the economy the president has gotten in this poll during his presidency..."

1/22/03 <link>
Mr. Bush tells us how business can be brought back to the U.S. - from China (or something like that)
An Atrios alert explains this well. As ABC News states:
"...The White House, long known for its catchy, attention-grabbing backdrops,
had designed a gigantic banner made to look like stacked boxes stamped with "MADE IN U.S.A." To television viewers around the country, the banner was indistinguishable from a real wall of boxes made in the good old U.S. of A., which were perfectly lined up on either side of the banner. For an event meant to draw attention to the president's plan to help small businesses hurt by the sagging economy, it appeared to be another hit designed by the White House advance staff, known for their eye-catching "made for TV" backgrounds. The pitch was to deliver the president, concerned about the economy, taking time out of his busy schedule to visit a mom-and-pop company he says would save thousands of dollars under his tax-relief plan. The problem was that the real boxes surrounding the president at the scene of his speech — a small shipping and receiving plant, JS Logistics — should have read: "NOT Made in U.S.A."...Next to the banner and stacked around his podium were hundreds of boxes labeled "Made in China" — and Taiwan and Hong Kong. Someone apparently became aware of the mixed message, for white stickers and brown packing tape were mysteriously taped over the true origin of the real boxes that travel through the trucking and warehouse business daily..."

1/21/03 <link>
How the GOP floods newspapers with form letters expressing support for Mr. Bush
It turns out that the GOP on its GOP Team Leader website has been asking supporters to email form letters to major news media around the country expressing support for President Bush. FailureIsImpossible shows this is nothing new, considering how this was used for the 2000 election.  Atrios has been covering this topic as well. Some examples he has cited recently include the following:

1. President Bush is "taking a courageous stand against Saddam" letters
Bob Hammersley also points this out. See what you get when you type in that phrase in Google.  

2. "When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership" letters
Try this one in Google. Atrios points to the large number of newspapers that published this form letter. The notes on the Inquirer's webpage:
UPDATE See Republican Party blank-emailed newspaper editors -- which includes a screen shot of the template letter used. IF YOU DO A SEARCH on the truly marvellous Google on the phrase Bush "demonstrating genuine leadership", like the Three Bears song goes, you're in for a big surprise. The search engine reveals three pages of results which list letters to the editors of august publications including the Boston Globe, the Star Press, the Suburban Chicago Courier News, and many many more. They all have a similar form, starting: "WHEN IT COMES to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The growth package he has proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the...." Not so surprising. You might think one letter writer has got a bee in his bonnet and has decided to post off his or her thoughts to every paper in the US. Except for one thing. They're all written by different people...We learn that a similar letter has crossed the pond and been published in our very own Financial Times and the Paris based International Herald Tribune. And we also learn the Republican Party can automate letter writing, with this unique spam engine, here. Meanwhile this blog, under the title Dittoheads Write Letters, indicates the same letter was published in even more newspapers..."
Here's a screenshot of this letter in the GOP Team Leader website, posted by Atrios.

Unblinking.com (through CalPundit), is doing detailed research on this. Do check out his list!

How President Bush benefited from Affirmative Action
Michael Kinsley's article is one of several that appeared in the past few days. For more detailed coverage of the anti-Affirmative Action speech and position of Mr. Bush, go to our Civil Rights section

1/14/03 <link>
A Family Affair
Jonathan Turley writes for the Los Angeles Times on the nepotism in the current administration. 

1/13/03 <link>
Dick Cheney - a profile
Joshua Micah Marshall writes: "Dick Cheney is a man of principles. Disastrous principles."

1/6/03 <link>
Compare former President Clinton's approval ratings during his so-called scandals to President Bush's, and see what the media does not want to show you
Thanks to Interesting Times.

1/4/03 <link>
Mr. Bush on budget deficits
In addition to his review of the all-politics, no-policy White House, Jonathan Chait examines the rhetoric and shifting stories regarding budget deficits, from Mr. Bush and his folks. For instance, he says (bold text is our emphasis), "...
Perhaps the hardest part of criticizing the Bush administration's economic logic is simply keeping track of it from week to week. Consider President Bush's view of deficits. His initial position, while peddling his tax cut on the campaign trail and in the first months of his presidency, was that a return to deficits was inconceivable. 'We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens,' he said in March 2001. 'The projections for the surplus in my budget are cautious and conservative.' When, in the late summer and early fall of that year, budget forecasts first showed deficits on the horizon, he dismissed them as 'speculative' and 'guesswork.' When finally forced to acknowledge the inevitability of deficits last spring, he insisted they would be 'small and temporary.' Meanwhile, he'd begun laying the groundwork to shift the blame away from his tax cut and onto such factors as the September 11 attacks, the recession, and big-spending Democrats. But, with the recession and the terrorist attacks now receding into the past and unified control of the government in GOP hands, deficits are still projected to remain a large and permanent feature of the Bush presidency. And so it has become necessary for the administration to retreat to yet another new line of defense: Deficits don't matter. The turnabout is fairly remarkable. Last spring, Bush said, "I'm mindful of what overspending can mean to interest rates or expectations of interest rates." As recently as September, he argued, "For the sake of fiscal sanity, the United States Senate must ... get us to head towards a balanced budget." But, since Republicans took the Senate in November, the White House has begun arguing that it makes no macroeconomic difference whether the budget is balanced or not. The point man for this argument is R. Glenn Hubbard, the chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers...."

1/2/03 <link>
Politics trumps policy at Bush White House
Clearly what DiIulio said wasn't enough, and along with Dana Milbank and others, Jonathan Chait in the New Republic has a more detailed take on what's really going on in the Bush administration and offers some comparisons to the Clinton administration. Here are some snippets (bold text is our emphasis):
"...'There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus,' DiIulio told Suskind. 'What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm.' Lest anybody doubt DiIulio's analysis, a column on National Review Online by Republican economist Bruce Bartlett affirmed it. '[O]ne cannot dispute [DiIulio's] characterization because it clearly is true. Since the beginning of the Bush administration, insiders have complained to me that the policymaking process was not working,' Bartlett wrote. 'This vacuum in terms of policy analysis has tended to be filled by those in the White House who look at issues solely in terms of their political implications.'..."
"...Whereas the Clinton administration was regularly forced to weigh policy demands from competing interests within the Democratic coalition, the Bush administration's presumptive allegiance in virtually every case is to corporate America. It is simply unnecessary for the White House to generate its own policies because that role has been filled by business lobbyists...Indeed, the simple rule for understanding Bush's economic policy is that in virtually every instance, whether tacking right or left, the president sides with whatever interest group has the strongest stake in the issue at hand. The result is an administration whose domestic actions persistently, almost uniformly, fail to uphold the broader public good..."
while it should be noted that the Democratic Party as a whole draws from a variety of economic interests, individual Democratic politicians do not. In the Senate, for instance, New York Democrat Charles Schumer is essentially a tool of the financial industry; Louisiana's John Breaux, the oil and gas industry; Michigan's Carl Levin, the auto industry; and so on. But the diversity of, and lack of agreement between, these interests generally allows a Democratic administration to transcend this sort of parochialism. Conservatives attack the Democrats as beholden to unions and other left-wing special interests. Meanwhile, leftists like Ralph Nader attack it as having sold out its union and liberal allies for the embrace of business. They're both half right: Being beholden to everybody means being beholden to nobody. 
This can be seen in the behavior of the Clinton administration. At the time, the president's dogged pursuit of soft money was seen both by liberals and conservatives as the apex of political sleaze. But, in fact, the breadth of Bill Clinton's fund-raising is precisely what insulated his decision-making from undue influence. In 1993, Clinton infuriated his labor allies, but pleased his business backers, by lobbying for and signing NAFTA. In 1995, he delighted trial lawyers, but angered lobbyists for business (especially in the Democrat-friendly technology industry), by vetoing a GOP-backed bill making it more difficult for investors to sue based on misleading financial reports. As surpluses emerged in the last few years of his term, Clinton stymied both the tax-cutting urges of his business allies and the spending urges of his labor allies by insisting on debt reduction. The point is not that Clinton got every policy decision right but that the discordant nature of his support put him in a position where, on most issues, it was at least possible for him to make a detached judgment on the merits. That is precisely what Bush cannot do...."
"...In fact, if you look at the major economic issues of the Bush presidency, in every instance Bush's position has been identical to that of whichever interest group applied the heaviest political pressure. On behalf of the accounting industry he fought tooth-and-nail against audit reform, until a 99 to zero Senate vote overwhelmed his opposition. (And, after the heat was off, Bush weakened the new auditing oversight board and reneged on his promise to boost the Securities and Exchange Commission's budget.) His energy bill was written in consultation with energy producers and reflected their desires almost perfectly. In signing legislation to overturn workplace ergonomic standards and supporting tougher bankruptcy standards on consumers, he fulfilled longtime corporate demands by using a broad-based corporate coalition. He fought campaign finance reform until opposition grew politically untenable, and even now his appointees to the Federal Election Commission are helping gut it. His telecommunications position preserved the monopoly status of local cable providers. His positions on prescription drugs and a patients' bill of rights were the positions of the drug industry and HMOs, respectively. He supported the oil companies in their quest to drill in Alaska and the auto companies in their disdain for higher fuel-efficiency standards. When, after the September 11 attacks, private airline security firms enlisted a massive lobbying effort to keep their contracts, Bush supported them (until that, too, became politically unsupportable). In none of these cases did organizations representing those affected by these policies--labor, environment, or consumer organizations--receive any meaningful hearing..."

12/27/02 <link> (UPDATED REGULARLY)
Mr. Bush's Compassionate Conservatism : Rhetoric v. Reality
Not surprisingly, the media has continued to underplay the gap between rhetoric and reality that has pervaded the Bush Administration's (and the GOP's) agenda from its inception. As much as conservatives and the media revile Bill Clinton, Mr. Clinton addressed this very topic accurately in a previous speech to the British Labor Party, when he said (see Salon.com), "...I understand now that your Tories are calling themselves 'compassionate conservatives.' (Laughter). I admire a good phrase. (Laughter). I respect as a matter of professional art adroit rhetoric, and I know that all politics is a combination of rhetoric and reality. Here is what I want you to know. The rhetoric is compassionate, the conservative is the reality. (Applause)..."  
Now, occasionally a rare few in the mainstream media in the U.S. seem willing to tell us what is really happening. Here is an example from Dana Milbank in the WP:
"He has always been rhetorically on the right side of the issue," said Harvard University's Robert Putnam, who has been consulted often by Bush aides. "They have not yet done nearly enough in practical terms to match the rhetoric." Putnam said right-wing conservatives trumped compassion-minded aides. "The compassionates win a lot of rhetorical battles," he said, "but when you look where the budget is, it shows hardly a hint of the compassionate." Marvin Olasky, a conservative academic whose writings helped Bush form his views, said the president has expertly used his appearances to stir public compassion, but without victory in Congress. "I give them an 'A' in terms of President Bush's personal effort in setting the message, and an 'F' in terms of legislation at this point," he said, adding that he gives Bush top marks for regulatory changes....Undoubtedly, congressional gridlock has made Bush's job more difficult. Still, the president demonstrated -- on everything from tax cuts to homeland security -- that Congress would bend to his will. And Bush, busy with economic and anti-terrorism policy, did not put much of his compassion agenda at the top of the legislative list..."
Our own compilation of the GOP's race record is here. Here is P.L.A.'s.

On the economic side of compassion, the Star Tribune takes Mr. Bush to task, asking who's really playing class warfare. A similar note from the Chicago Sun-Times. Frank Rich has his own take in "Joe Millionaire for President" in the New York Times. Tim Noah asks if Mr. Bush's faith-based directives amount to subsidizing bigotry.

Penchant for secrecy, among other things
P. L. A. documents in detail some of the evidence showing the secrecy seeking nature of the Bush administration. More recently Adam Clymer has examined this in the New York Times.

P.L.A. also highlights how the WH does not keep its commitments even to Republicans like Sen. McCain. He also asks some pointed questions on other topics. Another recent case of a broken promise is with veterans

In the meantime, David Greenberg tells us about the (not so terribly nice) past of the WH's recent nominees for offices, while the New York Times politely covers another. Here's how another appointee plays for big business - the chief legal counsel for the FDA (a former Pfizer counsel) fights against the FDA and for Pfizer, among others. How refreshing that he can simply continue his old job while being paid for by our taxpayer dollars!

12/1/02 <link>
Ex-Bush-appointee says this WH puts politics above policy consistently
We quote the NY Times article here: "...
John J. DiIulio Jr., a domestic affairs expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was appointed by President Bush to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the second week of the new administration. He quit in August 2001 amid struggles with Congress and Christian conservatives over the direction of the president's plan to give more federal money to religious charities. In an interview with Esquire magazine, Mr. DiIulio said: 'There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."..."

Although, apparently due to criticism from the WH/Ari Fleischer, Mr. DiIulio issued a partial apology. That doesn't take away the fact that his words are so on the record, as shown in this strong letter he wrote to Ron Suskind, featured by Esquire and this op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, that no one in their right mind will believe the apology. We quote, for instance, "...In my view, President Bush is a highly admirable person of enormous personal decency. He is a godly man and a moral leader. He is much, much smarter than some people—including some of his own supporters and advisers—seem to suppose....But the contrast with Clinton is two-sided. As Joe Klein has so strongly captured him, Clinton was "the natural," a leader with a genuine interest in the policy process who encouraged information-rich decision-making. Clinton was the policy-wonk-in-chief. The Clinton administration drowned in policy intellectuals and teemed with knowledgeable people interested in making government work. Every domestic issue drew multiple policy analyses that certainly weighted politics, media messages, legislative strategy, et cetera, but also strongly weighted policy-relevant information, stimulated substantive policy debate, and put a premium on policy knowledge. That is simply not Bush's style. It fits not at all with his personal cum presidential character. The Bush West Wing is very nearly at the other end of this Clinton policy-making continuum. Besides the tax cut, which was cut-and-dried during the campaign, and the education bill, which was really a Ted Kennedy bill, the administration has not done much, either in absolute terms or in comparison to previous administrations at this stage, on domestic policy. There is a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded non-partisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism..." We encourage you to read the full letter.

11/19/02 <link> (Updated 12/8/02 after I reviewed myths about Gore)
Gore on the comeback trail? Good for him.
Looks like the former veep is on book-signing tours and on the interview circuit these days, as he decides whether he will run again in 2004. I absolutely believe he should run and here's some of the reasons why:
1. Personality: As much as I can siphon from his recent positive interviews with Time and the Washington Post Magazine, Mr. Gore appears to be a different man today than he was back in the Fall of 2000. It is clear the loss, and the heartache that followed, has left an indelible impression on him. But the way he seems to have come out of it, with his sense of humor in place (and frequently displayed, especially well in his recent Dave Letterman appearance - according to one of my friends) suggests he has gained in confidence and perspective in the last two years.  
2. Acknowledgement(s) of what he did wrong: It is pleasing to see the honesty in his admissions that he made mistakes that led to the 2000 neck-and-neck finale. For instance, in the WP interview, "
...'I take full responsibility for not being able to get more votes than I did,' he says, with conviction. 'I give full credit to the people who helped me in the campaign . . . I think the people helping me out did a great job, and I'll take the responsibility for not getting enough to put it beyond controversy.' Is that a serenity that has come with time? 'Yes,' he acknowledges, laughing. And early on, did he seek to blame others? Clinton? His own staff? The Supreme Court? He laughs again. 'Winston Churchill said, 'Americans generally do the right thing, after first exhausting all the available alternatives.' I think there was probably a little of that in me, too.'...". From the Time interview: "...But, as he now comprehends, those qualities were not on display in his presidential campaign. It was a frenzy of photo ops and criss-crossing messages, driven by the news cycle and the demands of interest groups. He pandered to South Florida by backing a bill to make Elian Gonzalez a permanent U.S. resident, and he quit talking about the environment when pollsters and consultants told him it could hurt him. Each week seemed to bring a new policy pronouncement, another gimmick to jump-start the campaign, which is why even his evolving wardrobe became a metaphor for a man who had no idea what he stood for. 'I sometimes made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on tactics,' Gore says. 'As I look back on the campaign, I remember too many times when I was in a car or an airplane on the way to a series of events that were symbolic and crafted with a technical objective in mind. I should have been spending much more of that time communicating clearly and directly about the major issues.'...
At the same time, let's not forget that he did not really lose the popular vote. One Supreme Court vote made the difference between receiving severe criticisms for a bad campaign versus accolades for a victory. In the end, I believe the experience in 2000 has made him a better man.
3. "Arrogance": I've never subscribed to the criticism that he lost because of his "arrogance", and a recent review of facts make me more convinced. Reminder: he won the popular vote. Arrogance is a characteristic we can all live without, but when I see the critics who spun that his arrogance cost him votes, I would only remark that if arrogance is a disliked "virtue", people like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, et al. would not exactly be "popular" in conservative-leaning circles. Indeed, at least post 9/11, nothing says more than the 60% approval ratings for President Bush who has made no bones about being proud of his belligerence. That said, I believe arrogance does not befit statesman and visionaries of the nature of Mr. Gore. The more humble he is, the more he communicates his objectives and rationale for his positions in clear terms (understandable to lay people),
the more successful he is likely to be in 2004.
4. The "liar" tag: Nothing was more egregious than the hateful and false media bias (see here) Mr. Gore encountered, in comparison to Mr. Bush, back in 2000. As much as I still find it hard to understand why he was subject to so much hate and bias, Mr. Gore is unlikely to be as disadvantaged on this particular issue this time around thanks to President Bush's various campaign-promise violations, compromising positions, misleading or factually inaccurate statements, and the Harken issue (among other things). If he sticks true to his word in the recent interviews, I expect  Mr. Gore to be more strategic and forceful in disrupting the right-wing and mainstream media obfuscations and lies.
5. His position on the environment: As long as Mr. Gore does not compromise his dedication to protect the environment, I think he can significantly use this issue to his benefit in 2004. For example, although I am pro-choice, I would seriously advice Mr. Gore to use the growing evidence of the deleterious impact of environmental pollution on fetuses (e.g., see the most recent article in Time - I'll have more on this later) to put the pro-life crowd in a tough spot (in terms of their supporting the GOP) and pull independents closer. I believe he should also rally the faith-based community using the recent campaigns by different religious groups asking the nation's business and political leaders to significantly improve environmental laws and protections. Examples include the groups covered in this NYT article, which are linked to the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign to promote environmental responsibility and freedom from Middle-Eastern oil, and the amazing U.S. National Council of Churches.
6. His position on national security and foreign policy: Although some liberals seem to think Mr. Gore is anti-war and many conservatives love labeling him an anti-war appeaser, I think he has the best chance of putting forth a pragmatic national security and foreign policy amongst most of the Democratic Party candidates today. His recent speech did not call for the appeasement of Saddam (see my comments), but rather a greater focus on national security, Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, while using a multilateral force to disarm Saddam under the auspices of the U.N. I happen to believe that merely talking about the need for peace without paying attention to the geopolitical developments around the globe since the end of the Cold War, is a weak foreign policy that will have severe long-term repercussions not just for the U.S. and for human rights. (I have explained this here). What is needed is a multilateralist policy that makes unilateralism an exception rather than the rule, combined with support for empowering the U.N. and the development of democracies in places like Afghanistan. I think Mr. Gore, based on his expansive capability to understand the world and its complexities, is appropriate for the job of President of the U.S.
7. His position on economic policy: Being a thinker and a strong force behind the popularization of the Internet, I think Mr. Gore is again the best person to understand the fact that the long-term strength of the United States rests on stimulating innovation rather than cutting taxes preferentially for the rich. As smart as he is, Mr. Gore seems to be moving towards a repeal of the rich-friendly 2001 tax cuts and passing a revised tax cut focusing on the middle class (per the Time interview). This is clearly the right direction, as long as the lowest income groups also benefit, and as long as he follows through on his vision to ensure that we try to get closer to a balanced budget and that innovation gets top billing - economically, legally, and socially. (Indeed, as I have highlighted in another portion of this website, Democratic Presidents in general are associated with much better economies).

One recent position of Mr. Gore's that I would like to study more carefully is that on the single-payer healthcare policy. While there are alternatives which may become available once legal reform in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector is put in place (much like how energy prices dived once the robber barons of that industry were revealed), it is also true that the insurance industry has been calling for something of this nature, of late.

Spin and other stuff: The most recent CNN/Time poll shows 40% of the country would elect Mr. Gore as President today, compared to 57% who would re-elect President Bush. I think that is remarkable for someone who had virtually disappeared from the political scene for nearly 2 years and who still has numerous people in the Democratic elite who don't particularly like him. (The AP's spin on the poll is, "...just over a third of Americans think there is a Democrat who can defeat President Bush in 2004, and half think there is not...") Clearly, Mr. Gore has his work cut out for him to win back the majority in the DNC who do not support his nomination today,  but I think as his public ratings go up, the DNC ratings will align accordingly. This time around, Mr. Gore should demolish the spin and lies that significantly impacted his success in 2000.

In summary, Mr. Gore should run in 2004. Period.

11/1/02 <link>
More Harken
The Washington Post reports that Bush sold Harken shares shortly after Harken's lawyers cautioned against doing so. Apparently, the SEC closed its "investigation" of Bush and Harken before knowing about this.

10/31/02 <link>
A question of personal integrity 
For a President who campaigned on personal integrity and honesty, Mr. Bush seems to be having a hard time living up to those promises. 
* Washington Post's Dana Milbank (who we recall was scorned once by some Bush critics for writing favorably about Bush - comparing him to his mother), points out euphemistically that Bush likes stretching the truth - pointing out the distortions and sometimes 'incorrect facts' the President has been stating. 
* P.L.A. has a longer list that adds to Mr. Milbank's list, and this one on the shifting Iraq story. One famous line is "trifecta" one (also, courtesy, the WP's Dana Milbank).
 A more detailed one comparing the media's portrayals of Bush v. Gore is here (11/22/02).
* Paul Krugman adds to the list in the New York Times, while Richard Cohen does so in the Washington Post.
* One more from this Washington Post Editorial - on Bush's pushing myths in Colorado regarding the impact to landowners in that state due to the estate tax
* Eleanor Clift in Newsweek, takes Mr. Bush to task for his "crass duplicity". 
* Eric Alterman has a piece in The Nation.
* ABC News points how Mr. Bush was a proponent of something he and GOPers deny today - Social Security Privatization. 
Boy, tough to keep up with this Mr. Bush! Slow down! At this rate we might begin to forget that Al Gore was the "liar".  

10/23/02 <link>
Mr. Bush uses Government (and employees) for extensive GOP campaigning

10/9/02 <link>
Harken, Enron-style
This story was in quite a few media outlets today. Evidently, Harvard University helped President Bush back when he was at Harken, and his fellow Board members at Harken, to move millions in losses to an off-the-books partnership, similar to what Enron did. See reports from the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Reuters, Associated Press, MSNBC, and Harvard Watch.

10/4/02 <link>
Eric Alterman has another take on Gore 
(UPDATE: 12-8-02 - A detailed survey done by us is here)
Again, as shown by others previously, Eric does speak to the persistent, unjust hate and media bias against Gore.

9/11/02 <link>
Jeb Bush appears to enjoy voter disenfranchisement in Florida, this time over Janet Reno's predicament

We quote the Governor: "What is it with Democrats having a hard time voting -- I don't know". Governor, it's no joke. 

9/8/02 <link>
More on *THAT* Dec 2000 election 

Greg Palast's report on the false elimination of tens of thousands of votes in Florida. 

9/7/02 <link>
Revisiting the myths and lies about Gore's so-called lies
(UPDATE: 12-8-02 - A detailed survey done by us is here)
We believe the time is ripe to revisit the baloney and intentional lies propagated by so-called "journalists" in the months leading up to the 2000 presidential election about Gore. We expect to feature more on this subject over the next few months. For now, Robert Parry's year 2000 piece in the Washington Monthly, and in Consortium News, and Phil Agre's piece should be good for starters. Others added since are here and here. Thanks to Brendan Nyhan for the above links.

9/6/02 <link>
A new Algebra

Paul Krugman highlights the Bush administration's math and logic. 

9/3/02 <link>
Some of President Bush's numbers

In the backdrop of President Bush's high approval ratings, the Washington Post is reporting Mark Knoller's numbers on President Bush's vacations days, press conferences and fundraising. We believe it is appropriate to feature here given the administration's various electoral promises including their aim to be business-like (and in our world that means few, if any, vacations) and their sharp criticisms of fund-raising excesses by Democrats such as Clinton and Gore. We quote: "Bush has spent a whopping total of 250 days of his presidency at Camp David (123 days), Kennebunkport (12) and his Texas ranch (115). That means Bush has spent 42 percent of his term so far at one of his three leisure destinations. To date, the president has devoted far more time to golf (15 rounds) than to solo news conferences (six). The numbers also show that Bush, after holding three news conferences in his first four months, has had only three more in the last 15 months -- not counting the 37 Q&A sessions he has had with foreign leaders during his term. Bush has raised $114.8 million this year at 48 GOP events, surpassing Clinton's record of $105 million in 2000 from 203 events. The Bush White House has challenged his tally only once, and Knoller countered with voluminous evidence. 'The judge's decision is final,' he says."

















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