A Little Something to Fight the Poison

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
The Senate Armed Forces Committee wants Rumsfeld to drag his butt up to the Capitol to explain how the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners could have happened. And it's not just Daschle's idea; John Warner (R-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ) are also calling for it.

So long do you thing it will take the warbloggers to claim that McCain exaggerated his POW injuries?
Friday, April 09, 2004
COINCIDENCE? Even in my current state of blog neglect, I couldn't miss the following amazing alignment of numbers. First from the Washington Post:
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
Hey, haven't we seen one of those numbers somewhere else? Oh, right:
"U.S. intelligence services simply knew too little about al Qaeda's plans, [Rice] lamented. And the inability of the FBI and CIA to work together on terrorism had been a chronic problem, left unfixed for years.

"We were there 233 days" before the attacks, she said.
I wonder how many of those days Bush actually spent at work?

Max Weber wrote a famous essay on the ethos of responsibility that the grave obligations of public office require, which he titled, "Politics as a Vocation". The Bush Administration's understanding of responsibility is a lot closer to "Politics as a Vacation."
Friday, March 19, 2004
ONE: Well, count Spanish PM-elect Zapatero as one foreign leader who thinks Kerry has to win this thing. Not that this will help Kerry much (indeed, it might conceivably hurt him), but you'd have to be utterly obtuse if you didn't think that there's many more--including leaders who have felt compelled to join the Coalition of the Willing against the wishes of their own people.

And can I say that the right-wing response to the Spanish people's decision to vote in the Socialists because the Madrid terrorist attacks brought to light anger over what they saw as deception over both the decision to go to war as well as the attacks' investigation--that the general narrative that the Spanish people are "giving in" to the terrorists is the most disgusting and stupid idea I have heard thrown up in the mainstream press in a long time.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
THUMP! is the sound I imagine that the subpoena list for the Plame investigation made when the Federal Grand Jury investigating the matter dropped it on to the public. Here, courtesy of Newsday, is an at least partial list:
Robert Novak, "Crossfire," "Capital Gang" and the Chicago Sun-Times

Knut Royce and Timothy M. Phelps, Newsday

Walter Pincus, Richard Leiby, Mike Allen, Dana Priest and Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post

Matthew Cooper, John Dickerson, Massimo Calabresi, Michael Duffy and James Carney, Time magazine

Evan Thomas, Newsweek

Andrea Mitchell, "Meet the Press," NBC

Chris Matthews, "Hardball," MSNBC

Tim Russert, Campbell Brown, NBC

Nicholas D. Kristof, David E. Sanger and Judith Miller, The New York Times

Greg Hitt and Paul Gigot, The Wall Street Journal

John Solomon, The Associated Press

Jeff Gannon, Talon News

Sunday, February 29, 2004
CHAOS IN PORT-AU-PRINCE: I know all of the big papers have already been reporting it today, but for Franco-enabled folks out there, this report from Le Monde provides an interesting alternative perspective.

For one, it mentions that Canadian special forces have taken control of the airport (the Globe and Mail reported that Canada had sent 3 Hercules aircraft to evacuate nationals from capital, so presumably, we'd need some security on the other end too). Hey, if we go for the radio station too, maybe we can just take the place over and get into the friendly dictator installation business, just like the Americans. Or not.

Seriously, it's interesting that the report indicates that Colin Powell is in "close contact" with both the French and Canadian Foreign Ministers--because Canada is rarely important enough to rate in these sorts of affairs. So when did Canada become such a playa in Haiti? OK, maybe I'm overemphasizing this, as we've always had some interest in helping out there and a couple thousand folks with Canadian citizenship line on the island. But there may also be another answer, especially considering the role France is taking: Iraq has tied up so much of the Bush Admin's foreign affairs time and resources, that it's having a tough time showing initiative in places outside of the Middle East. Hegemony has its limits, too.
Friday, February 27, 2004
FIRST KERRY MEETUP REPORT: I got there a bit late, accidentally going to a venue of the same name first but in the wrong town (oops). When I finally got the correct venue, though, did I ever get a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing a gaggle of my local Clarkie friends there, making up nearly half the remaining crowd! One of them was even sort of running the show--this was only the second Meetup the Kerry people had managed to organize in the area (the first one drew 7 people), and so they didn't really know what they were doing. So our old ex-Clarkie friend, who we hadn't seen in a while, was collecting everyone's names so we could start up an email list. Apparently, the "indigenous" Kerry people had been pretty much outnumbered by new refugees all night, because just before I had gotten there, a bunch of Greens who had wanted to sign on with Kerry had just left.

The indigenous Kerry people there were really friendly, but completely wide-eyed about this whole Meetup deal. I mean, pretty much like the draft movement 8 months ago--they were waiting for people to contact them, and a lot of them sort of assumed we wouldn't have much to do, because "everything is done by party insiders anyway." Wow, did we ever have a lot to share with them!

I think this is going to be neat--it was telling that the last 4 people to leave were all ex-Clarkistas. I'm a bit tired of campaigning, but I'm kind of thinking that if you're an ex-Clarkie (or ex-Deanie) and would consider signing on with Kerry, you could easily take a big leadership role in your local Kerry Meetup, since we have so much more experience. I don’t know if the Kerry staffers are really ready to handle us, but I’m hoping they’re smart enough not to turn down the kind of fundraising and volunteer capacity that Dean and Clark had if offered to them on a silver platter.

Friday, February 20, 2004
CHEAP TALK, CHEAPER NUMBERS: Kos and the highly underrated (the Columbia School of Journalism's election coverage blog) got into a little flap last week over the ethics of blogs publicizing exit polls, with CJR slamming the practice as "irresponsible" and Kos arguing that the concept of journalistic does not apply to blogs. I guess my aspiring moral philospher side pushes me to side with the "moral cowboys" at CJR.

I have two reasons for seriously objecting to the exit polls that Drudge and The National Review have been releasing. The first is the standard objection that exit polls might distort the outcome of elections by discouraging voters who haven't turned out at the polls or otherwise affecting their behavior. Unlike Slate's Jack Shafer, I do think that journalists have a distinct responsibility to the liberal democratic ideals that allow them to exist in the first place. Journalists should realize that it's the "democracy racket" (as Shafer so respectfully puts it) that provides the free press with its raison d'etre, and start acting accordingly. And as political bloggers aim to fill a social role that is at least somewhat similar to that of part-time or amateur journalists, they have a similar ethical responsibility that constrains their activities.

My second objection relates to the specific nature of the exit polls that have been released during this primary season. Although I think that all states should just enact laws banning exit polls completely and that blogs should refrain from publishing them for the above reason, liberal blogs such as Kos and TPM should have been especially reticent to publish the suspect results that Drudge and The Corner have been offering. I note that the Drudged up numbers came with no determinate source (besides some fuzzy reference to "insider media sources"), no sample size, no margin of error, no details on methodology--all in all, no internals of any kind. I don't need to draw on the extensive statistical training I received as a theorist to tell you that those numbers are the statistical equivalent of compost. And to make things worse, when the election is over, the folks who released them don't fill in any of the missing information above; they instead act as though the polls never existed in the first place. And the blogs don't spend any time asking for answers.

In short, not only are these exit poll numbers statistically meaningless, they also come without an ounce of retrospective accountability, which means that Drudge and The Corner--hardly sources with great reputations for accuracy or fairness--could have just made up whatever numbers they wanted, for whatever purposes they chose. I'm not sure if Drudge or the National Review have been up to anything, but given our lack of assurence that they didn't just pull their numbers from the same place they got Troopergate, I don't think liberal blogs should run the risk of being complicit in facilitating whatever shady business they might be up to.