Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I love it. I really love the new Bush Cheney ad ([with editorial comments])

Since 1980, the key secret of negative campaigning has been to throw the stone and hide your hand, to preserve deniability. It's getting harder. In this add Bush-Cheney 04 is trying to hold Kerry responsible for an add posted on which was promptly removed and denounced by However, Someone has placed an absolutley deadly anti Bush add on a site which Bush-Cheney 04 can't link with Kerry Brad DeLong's 11 year old daughter thought it was Democratic hackers. How naive, hackers would have come up with an add which wasn't so obvioulsy deadly to Bush from the very first clip.

Bush-Cheney '04

Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-eyed

The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party
The Coalition of the Wild-eyed

Video Clip of Gore:
"How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison?" (Al Gore, Remarks At New York University, 5/26/04)
([absolutely right and irrefutable. Hell Bush said the same thing. Note Gore is not quoted as saying that "they" are Bush and Cheney. Bush-Cheney 04 assumes that is obvious])

Video Clip of Ad:
[Inaudible chanting, clip from ad]
([The illustration is meant to make it clear that the heading is an example of the "big lie" technique since MoveOn did not make the add, purged it from the site and denounced it])

Video Clip of Dean:
"I want my country back!" (Gov. Howard Dean, Remarks To California Democratic Convention, 3/15/03)

Video Clip of Michael Moore:
"We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons." (Academy Awards, 3/23/03)
([yes of course, but does Moore really need more free publicity given how "Farenheit 9/11" took all of 2 days to break the documentary gross sales record set by "Bowling for Columbine" ?])

Video Clip of Gephardt:
"This president is a miserable failure." (Rep. Gephardt, Democrat Presidential Candidates Debate, Albuquerque, NM, 9/4/03)
([great stuff. I have never agreed with Gephart before]).

Video Clip of Ad:
[Inaudible chanting, clip from ad]
([see above. Guess just one Hitler is a Democrat clip was too subtle. By the way, in case anyone tries to claim that the add was saying that is one of the "Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party" do I have to point out that .org's don't have faces ? The difficulty with grammer proves the authenticity of the add])

Video Clip of Gore:
"He betrayed this country! He played on our fears!" (Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes," 2/9/04; CNBC's "The News On CNBC," 2/9/04([absolutely])

Video Clip of Kerry:
"Today, today, George Bush will lay off your camel, tax your shovel, kick your (bleep) and tell you there is no Promise Land." (Harkin Steak Fry, Indianola, IA, 9/13/03)
([it probably doesn't make a difference, but if you keep up with adds like this Kerry is gonna kick your ASS])

[Drain the color of John Kerry video and freeze it]

This is not a time for pessimism and rage…

[Shot of President Bush in color]
([an illustration of pessimism and rage])
President Bush: It's a time for optimism, steady leadership and progress
([I guess that's why he is trying to convince us to vote for Kerry])

Paid For By Bush-Cheney '04 INC.
Oh man they paid for this. Hey guys I got rent to pay. It would be a much better use of your money.

keep up the good work.

Correctino: "Farenheit 9/11" did not require all of 2 days to break the documentary gross sales record set by "Bowling for Columbine." Saturday and part of Sunday was enough.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Ok so who is an embarassment to whom ?

Brad Delong writes
Ramesh Ponnuru's and David Frum's credibility depreciates when their writings appear under the same masthead as those of Luskin or Nugent. It is a mystery why they don't take a stand--there are, after all, lots of bright conservative straight-shooting economists who would love to write for National Review.

In another post he quotes
David Frum: Between 1993 and 2003, Canada’s total gross domestic product – the value of all Canadian-made goods and Canadian-provided services – rose by two-thirds. [...] Where did that extra production go? That’s the question answered by the second number, 45%. The lion’s share of Canadian economic growth in the 1990s was pocketed by government, especially the federal government. Between 1993 and 2003, federal revenues rose by 45%, or almost $60 billion....

I'd say it is a case of birds of a feather flock together.
I don't often agree with Richard Cheney but if I could tell
10_1480_sPxLpCKYrUKGI2vJVfXwSQ to fuck himself, I should would feel better.
Are we in Iraq because we tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi ?

Michael Isikoff (who has received a couple of knocks from the guys recently) explains.

al-Libi was the first high ranking al Qaeda leader to be captured after 9/11.

Continuing to rely on al-Libi's version, Powell then told how a bin Laden operative seeking help in acquiring poisons and gases had forged a "successful" relationship with Iraqi officials in the late 1990s and that, as recently as December 2000, Iraq had offered "chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates."

However, this rather serious intelligence error seems to have been the result of uhm "aggressive interrogation."
Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear.

So the question is, are we in Iraq because of "aggressive interrogation" of al-Libi. More experienced practitioners could have told us produce massive but unreliable information, which is only useful if it can be confirmed or rejected before you spend your second hundred billion. But of course, the Bush administration wanted to keep what it was doing secret.

One might argue that evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda was irrelevant, since it had nothing to do with Bush's decision to invade Iraq. However, I don't think that one would like to do that, if one were George Bush.

So which is it ? Did we get in a quagmire because we chose to use "aggressive interrogation techniques" or because the President chose to invade for reasons he didn't want to share with the people ?

Monday, June 28, 2004

In an excellent article in the New York Times PHILIP SHENON asserts that the claims of fact in "Fahrenheit 9/11" were very thoroughly checked and that, as far as he could tell from viewing the film, largely accurate. I wouldn't know. I haven't seen the film. I live in Italy and they are still trying to convert 9/11 into centigrade.

However Shenon does repeat an obviously false argument conflating international flights and airplane flights in general (he must not be a foreign affairs correspondent)

Mr. Moore may also be criticized for the way he portrays the evacuation of the extended bin Laden family from the United States after Sept. 11.

while the film clearly suggests that the flights occurred at a time when all air traffic was grounded immediately after the attacks ("Even Ricky Martin couldn't fly," Mr. Moore says over video of the singer wandering in an airport lobby), the Sept. 11 commission said in a report this April that there was "no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace"

The first chartered flights carrying Saudi's after 9/11 definitely did not depart the United States. The first such flights gathered well connected Saudis. As I said I didn't see the film, but Mr Shenon doesn't even assert that Mr Moore claimed that the flights which departed the United states took place at a time when "Even Ricky Martin couldn't fly." I'd say it is clear that Mr Shenon doesn't read blogs (or refuses to quote them) as this distinction has been stressed at length in the blogosphere. It is odd that Mr Moore doesn't note the distinction in his quoted response to Mr Shenon.

I would say a correction is in order the

The article"Michael Moore Is Ready for His Close-Up" By PHILIP SHENON Published: June 20, 2004 incorrectly characterised the fraction of airplane flights originating in the USA which depart the United States. Over the past two decades it has been 12 %"

The number is made up the the NY Times should be able to get some intern to find it. Or maybe

he article"Michael Moore Is Ready for His Close-Up" By PHILIP SHENON Published: June 20, 2004 incorrectly characterised the fraction of charter airplane flights originating in the USA in the two weeks following 9/11/01 which departed the United States. It was less than 40%"

By the way regular readers of this blog (if any) have noticed that, when it comes to spellling i dont do to gud. I just learned that "Fahrenheit" breaks the i before e except after c and when it says ay as in neghbor and weigh rule (unless it is pronounced "fair in hate" which seems appropriate for the film). Previously I had known only of words which appear in one of the two following sentences "neither leisured foreigner seized the weird heights" and "The sheik traded his caffeine for counterfeit protein" Clearly farenheit belongs in the second sentence as in "The sheik who was lampooned in 'Farenheit 9/11' traded his caffeine for counterfeit protein"

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Matther Yglesias is under attack from the forces of

This means that I will post my comments on his site here, since one of them seems
to have fallen into a black hole.

I quote

"The New York Times describes the wide variety of inconveniences that New Yorkers will face during the Republican convention. Then we hear Mayor Bloomber for the defense:

After describing the security measures, the mayor told radio listeners that the Republican convention would benefit the city as a whole, saying that it would generate an estimated $250 million for the local economy and create thousands of jobs. "So this is a good economic deal for the city," the mayor said. "The disruptions will be a little bit annoying, but minimal. There's no reason for businesses to close down."

Now $250 million over a four day period comes out to $62.5 million per day, which averaged out across 8 million people turns out to be less than $7 per person per day. And that's the gross haul. The city will, I assume, be spending a lot of money on police overtime, barricade construction, etc., which will probably bring the average net economic gain down even further. ...
It doesn't look like a very good deal to me."

Also the costs are not just police ovrertime and inconvenience. The conventioneers will demand goods and services in exchange for their $250 Million. People who work in hotels and restaurants will have to work more. $1 in sales is good for sellers but it is not as good as $1 for nothing.

However the point that got my interest is $62.5 M divided by $7 > 8.92 Million > 8 million. Looks like Matt made a boo boo while fighting innumeracy.

Did he do that on purpose just to get this link ?

"Samuel Huntington has gotten tons of play from both The Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We specifically because his theses are wrongheaded, somewhat offensive, and argued for in a rather sloppy manner."

Elisabetta Addis and I call the deliberate attempt to get attention by being outrageously wrong Fukayaming after Francis Fukayama author of "The End of History". It's like the guy had registered history TM. For a year, every time any TNR type journalist commentator wrote about anything happening anywhere s/he would add a comment like "people in slavogria haven't yet read Fukayama so history hasn't ended here just yet."

Now it's hard to top that. In fact, this means that writing is obsolete. No one will be able to write anything useful or interesting again. Try to prove me wrong (and cite me when you do).
The One True Faith -- Voodoo

Voodoo economics that is. Among the rules that Bremer wants to democratically impose on Iraq is one " that cap tax rates at 15 percent". Gerner has a theory that Bremer decided democracy had to wait for the supply side miracle, hence well the mess.

The strength of faith in the miraculous benefits of low marginal tax rates in the absence of evidence is well like the idea that invading Iraq is part of the war on terror.
My Dad Tom Waldmann takes beautiful photographs.

Some are here

For two examples

Who is Luigi Goffredo Verzella ?

Someone (Luigi Goffredo Verzella in person ?) using the usually useful google just came here after searching for Luigi AND Goffredo AND Verzella. This site came out first in the google search. It seems that, according to google, I am the worlds leading expert on Luigi Goffredo Verzella, which is odd, since I don't have the faintest idea who he is.

I understand that semantic searches will replace keyword searches in a decade or three, so I guess Luig Goffredo's fan and I will just have to make due with google.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Why is Jose Padilla so dangerous
That he was denied a trial ?

It has long been clear that he was not such a threat to US national security that the constitution had to be sacrificed to stop him. He is no Jefferson Davis, of course Ashcroft wouldn't consider Jefferson Davis an enemy combatant in spite of the fact that he technically lead a war against the USA.

The problem seems to be that once one decides to ignore the law, it is very hard to stop. This is revealed by the New York Times today
"In the end, administration officials considered Mr. Zubaydah's interrogation an example of the successful use of harsh interrogation techniques.

... he ... was the source of information about Jose Padilla,"

This would tend to make it a bit difficult to put Padilla on trial. First because evidence obtained by torture would be inadmissable, and second, because Padilla's defence team could have learned that the US government was using torture.
Ashcroft et al, with their contempt for the wall between national security and criminal investigations, must have refused absolutely to consider how illegal techniches inevitably propagate when one has to cover up one breach of the law with another.

In this case, the fruit of the poisoned tree was a direct assault on the US constitution.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Why do chickens lay eggs ?
The amateur evolutionary biologist tries to answer.

Asked Kathy age 6. Because they are birds replied Robert. Why don't birds give birth live like humans ? Hmmm good question.

I tried to answer. It has to have something to do with flying. Can you imagine flying when pregnant (especially hard for men to imagine but I doubt many women can imagine it either).

But wait, the egg is as heavy (a little heavier) than the chick which hatches. hmmmm.

Mammals typically give birth to many offspring at once. Lucky ducks lay one egg at a time. I think the advantage of eggs is that they can be phased. Birds have one fully developed egg, another semi developed, a third real small and one about the size of a human egg. That means that they are not weighed down by several fully developed eggs (or fetuses) all in there together. my guess is that no mutant mammal has ever managed to reliably give birth to a mature offspring while not mis-carrying an immature fetus. Bats typically have one or two offspring a season. This is a major evolutionary handicap which they have someohow managed to overcome by developing sonar.

Now even with sonar I couldn't handle one or two kids a year. Oops one or two a year is, by normal animal standards, hardly any.
I use google as a spell checker.

For example I just decided that the game theory solution concept was
Stackelberg equilibrium (9,290 hits) not stackleberg equilibrium (341 hits all from people who don't use Google as a spell checker).

Brad Delong is a big fan of google, but I suspect that this is one use he does not make of it. I recall that back when he had a 5 Mb hard disk, he deleted the spell checker to save space.
Why Hate Clinton ?

First I should say that I can understand Clinton hatred. Hell I've even hated him myself occasionally as when he signed the welfare reform bill or declared he was in favor of 3 strikes and you're out. It's simple, he seemed to have no principles; he was willing to do anything (except keep his pants on) to win elections. Since leaving office, he has worked hard to e.g. convince Thabo Mbeki that HIV causes AIDS and I have the creeping suspicion that he is a basically good person who made moral compromises not a basically empty shell.

The puzzle of the Clinton haters is that they don't hate more presidents.
Kevin Drum notes that Bush did more draft dodging and used more drugs than Clinton, so why don't the Clinton haters mind ? Actually, in the case of W, culture warriors can reasonably be forgiving, since that was before he was born again. Most Clinton haters were too young to have been politically active at the time, but I don't recall conservatives caring much about character when Nixon was president. Finally Carter was and is insuferably good and that didn't stop people from hating him.

My view is that some right wingers can't stand losing. I would say that there is a tendency for righties divide humanity into winners, who are not just successful but praiseworthy, and losers, who are worthless. It is easier for lefties to believe in honorable failure.

I think Clinton haters, hate Clinton for winning. Now I got mad at Bush Bush, Reagan and Nixon for winning. However I think the Clinton haters found him a threat to their sence of worth, because they can't stand to see themselves as losers.
well that's progress. The NYT reports that the Bush administration just offered aid to North Korea provided they phase out their nuclear program. This after 3 years and 5 months of constructively sneering at the Clinton administration for weakly, appeasingly offering aid to North Korea provided they phase out their nuclear program.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Still in the same article I am reminded of my one blogging hit.

"Several detainees who have been released said coercive interrogation methods used at Guantánamo had constituted abuse, charges American officials have denied. Among the allegations are complaints of druggings, invasive body searches, sleep deprivation and other mistreatment."

Does tend to contradict the claim by DOUGLAS JEHL and ANDREA ELLIOTT that "To date, there have been no accusations of serious prisoner abuse in connection with interrogations at Guantánamo.

update: I have finally gotten to the end of the article. It does seem to close abruptly in the middle of a sentence, in fact in the middle of a word "Nearly all of them had trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but investigators said only five had any useful information — and that was about recruitment and lin" Seems even the the Ny Times web page can't handle articles this long.

anyway Kudos to Tim Golden who reported from New York and Washington f and Don Van Natta Jr. who reported from from Guantánamo Bay and to Carlotta Gall, David Rohde, Lizette Alvarez, Clifford Krauss, Raymond Bonner and Jason Horowitz who contributed reporting.
Today in the Times "Last month, a senior Bush administration official told The Times that Mr. Kahtani had provided information to interrogators "about a planned attack and about financial networks to fund terrorist operations." But several other officials disputed that characterization, saying he had not given any new information about plots by Al Qaeda."

For readers who aren't willing to read 7 pages on the web, this excellent article presents strong evidence that torture lite did not work as well as a cup of tea in getting Mr Kahtani to talk.

My interest is to repeat the perennial proposal that anonymous sources who are caught lying be identified. If sources are allowed to lie anonymously, lies can be spread without anyone bearing responsibility. No legitimate purpose is served by assuring sources that they are free to lie. If a source asks to speak off the record and then refuses if the promise is conditional on the absence of multiple sourced refutation, a serious reporter would be glad to have screened out a lie.

I'd say all reputable newspapers should declare it to be a policy that promises of anonymity are conditional on the absence of solid evidence of dishonesty. Also, while they are at it, they should cite other news sources as follows "according to an anonymous source quoted in the Los Angelos Post Enquirer, which allows sources to lie anonymously, ..."
The Electoral vote predictor based on the latest polls (sometimes November 2000)
The Whitewater Development Corporation was founded before the Madison Guaranty S&L.

I can’t believe I just learned that. Did you know that ? Do you care ? I will try to convince you that you should have known and that you should care at least a tiny little bit (probably not enough to waste your time reading this). My ignorance is probably partly explained by the fact that I moved to Italy in 1989 and only began surfing the web compulsively much more recently. However, I am a news junky and thought I knew more about Whitewater than most. I learned about the relative ages of Whitewater and Madison Guaranty from 'The Clinton Wars': An Exchange By Sidney Blumenthal, Reply by Joseph Lelyveld in the New York Review of Books

Blumenthal claims and Lelyveld concedes that the headline to the March 8 1992 NYT story by Jeff Gerth which started the story/scandal "Clintons Joined S&L Operator in an Ozark Real-Estate Venture," is inaccurate, since, at the time of the joining James McDougal was non an S&L operator. Lelyveld concedes the point writing “the fact that the Whitewater deal antedated the founding of Madison Guaranty S&L.” and “The headline confused the time line; the article itself did not.”

The last claim is true, the references to the time line in the article are not confused and were clearly made with great care. However, the article seems to have confused the person who wrote the headling. Its opening sentence was "Bill Clinton and his wife were business partners with the owner of a failing savings and loan association that was subject to state regulation early in his tenure as Governor of Arkansas, records show." which is true (as noted by Lelyveld) and compounds the error in the headline (as noted by Blumenthal and denied without any coherent counter-argument by Lelyveld). Why didn’t Gerth write “Bill Clinton and his wife became business partners of James McDougal, who later founded a savings and loan association that was subject to state regulation early in his tenure as Governor of Arkansas, records show." This is clear and is 35 words in the place of 34 (and if it weren’t for the use of “partner” for you know like Clinton and Lewinsky it would be 34).

I assume that, conceding that a front page headline made a false claim the Times published a correction. Something along the line of “the March 8 headline of a story by Jeff Gerth incorrectly described the business activities of James McDougal at the time the Whitewater Development Corporation was founded. He was a real estate developer.” This is actually a toughy, since the Times refers to Stories by their headline and corrections are not supposed to repeat errors. I am puzzled as to why Lelyveld does not mention the correction. I wouldn’t want to imagine that the Times left uncorrected a substantive error made in large type of the front page.

I don’t write good enough to criticize every sentence everyone writes, but I think that Gerth’s article was deliberately misleading. In fact, I think that Lelyveld is still trying to pull the same trick 12 years later after conceding the point.

The timing is central to the accusations made by Gerth (followed by many many others). Lelyveld writes “The central premise was declared in the first paragraph. It was that the governor was a business partner of a banker ‘subject to state regulation.’” Now, why would such a premise be of any public interest. It is not either Clinton’s fault that they were business partners of a banker subject to state regulation. When they became McDougal’s partners, he wasn’t such a banker. Then he became one. Lelyveld also writes “attempts to make fast money with minimal investment and effort, involving in each case the support of good friends who needed access to state government.” I think this statement is actually false. Lelyveld presents no evidence that McDougal needed access to state government at the time of the Clintons’ attempt, and the omission of any reference to timing can not be accidental.

Now what exactly should the Clintons have done when McDougal decided to found Morgan Guarantee ? They could have demanded that he dissolve Whitewater, but that really would have been an ethical lapse. The dissolution of a partnership whose main asset is real estate is an excellent opportunity to transfer wealth. For example, if they had demanded their original investment back, they would have been saying that their keen ethical senses required them to extort $ 65,000 from him now that he needed access to state government.

Given the timing, unless they are pre-cognitive, the Clintons couldn’t have known that entering the Whitewater partnership could later be seen as an ethical lapse. Perhaps Mr Lelyveld thinks that Hillary Clinton is precognitive. This would explain why he mentions “Mrs. Clinton's spectacular success in speculative cattle futures” which has no other logical connection to Blumenthal’s assertions.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Remember George H. W. Bush's evil twin Skippy ?

You know from Doonesburry. Basically H.W. sure seems to be a decent man and, as president, was much to statesmanlike for his own good. However, when campaigning he turned viscious.

Now his son sure seems not to be a good person and wouldn't recognise a statesman if he grew up with him. However, W. managed to get elected largely because he seemed to be a nice guy.

I think George W Bush's non-evil twin chippy handled the Clinton portrait unveiling. If he keeps W in an undisclosed location for the whole campaign we might be in worse trouble than we are already.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Random Pledge Generator

Ah I wish I could program in JAVA. What we need now, as Kevin Drum explains is a Random Pledge Generator which will enable our kids to pledge allegiance to the flag without violating the first amendment. Excomunicated ex Mormon
Teresa Nielson Hayden creator of the wonderful Random Plot Generator should get on the job.

Here is my feeble low tech effort

I Pledge (affirm) [respect and tolerate the people who pledge] allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands (pledge allegiance to the United States of America and recognise its flag) One nation under God (Allah)[Jehovah]
{Buddha}((Brahman))[[Uhura Mazda]]{{the supreme Being}}}(((only sky))) indivisible with (which should be with) liberty and justice for all.

That should just about do it. Once I met a beatlephobe who I assume was also an atheist. He might object to the quote of John Lennon, but he's English and doesn't have standing.

I personally would require the first bit in square brackets. A pledge that is compelled is, to me, in itself offensive.

Mine would be

I respect and tolerate the people who pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands, one nation under only sky indivisible which should be with liberty and justice for all.

I got no problem with that.

Update: I realise that there are still not enough options. Under sky is for atheist Lennon fans, but what about agnostics ? Also, well, I personally suspect that it is a game not a religion, but, constitutionally, have no authority to refuse to take satanism seriously so the options should be

One nation under God (Allah)[Jehovah]
{Buddha}((Brahman))[[Uhura Mazda]]{{the supreme Being}}}(((only sky)))[[who knows what]]{{{over Satan}}}.
The Iconoclast

I have been trying to find a historical antecedant to George W. Bush. During the recount fiasco, I hoped that, although he was way to the right of his dad, blood would tell. Then I thought he was Reagan without naps ... plus Nixon without the tape recorder. As my post below shows, in my mind he is well past that.

How about Alexander the 1st who left the Army in the grips of the dread Ackhromeyev while in mystical communion with the absolute ? (quoting from memory from "In The Shadow of the Winter Palace")

How about Phillip IV the fair of France ?

Now that the Pope is scared that Bush will create "factions" in the American Catholic Church, my mind turns to Leo the Isaurian.

I will not, will not, compare him to that Austrian guy.
"Bush [told Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state], 'Not all the American bishops are with me' on the cultural issues."

That's an excerpt from the National Catholic Reporter, picked up in a full-length article in The New York Times and by Atrios and Josh Marshall.

I agree with the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State who said
"It is just unprecedented for a president to ask for help from the Vatican to get re-elected, and that is exactly what this is," and with Linda Pieczynski, " crosses the line in this country." and with the Pope who "has warned of "the formation of factions within the church" in the United States."

I wonder if the uniter who is not a divider can manage a schism within the Catholic Church.

I even wonder what to make of the Lorenzo Albacete quote the NYT included for balance "If it is done in a very rude way, then the Vatican will remember and you won't get invited again. But if it is done in a diplomatic way, that is why they go to the Vatican anyway. It is not an act of devotion. It is a political thing." Hmmm.

'Not all the American bishops are with me'.

Is Msg Albacete suggesting that Bush had better rethink exactly Who is the truth and the light, if he wants another invite to the Vatican ? He has shown a bit of confusion on the subject before but nothing like this.

The strangest thing is that this is aweful politics. How many Catholics are there who would accept Kerry's pro abortion rights views so long as Bishops let him take communion and not otherwise ? How many nutcases fear domination by the scarlet lady in Rome ? I'd say Bush stands to lose 3 votes to get 2 (total).
Who would you prefer Reagan or Nixon ?

asked conservatives to tease liberals back in the good old 80's. Right now
I'd take 8 years of Nixon followed by 8 years of Reagan rather than 4 more years of Bush. I'm amazed to appreciate Reagan's intellectual vision and Nixon's integrity.

A uniter not a divider indeed.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Nexus and the Olive Tree

I would have thought that spin stops while votes are being counted (except in Florida in 2000). Given the vague powers of the European parliament, I assume that spinmeisters (masters maitres maestri) will work overtime interpreting the results, but I would have guessed that exit polls and projections were done honestly. It is not clear how one would want to distort them since the final numbers will arrive by tomorrow.

I continued to think this even when Rai (Italian public television) hired prime minister Berlusconi’s favourite polling firm (datamedia) slightly disguised as part of a consortium called Nexus. Representatives of l’Ulivo (the olive tree) the main opposition alliance, objected at the time.

Now I see the outer limits of spin. Yesterday Berlusconi was hammered at the polls. This is no surprise first because he has made clear to Italians what he is and second because he has linked himself to Bush and the invasion of Iraq. However, he and other leaders of Forza Italia (yaay Italy) did not manage to lower expectations far enough and fast enough. The line going in was that anything over 25% would be OK even though the party got almost 30% in the last parliamentary election.

The results from Nexus quickly showed that this wasn’t low enough. They also showed a very clear downward trend so far tonight. I present % vote for Forza Italia, the whole center right coalition and the whole center left coalition in successive predictions.

Forza Italia Center Right Total Center Left Total
Exit Poll 22 % +/ 1.5 % 45.5 +/- 5.5 % 46.5 +/- 5.5 %
First Projection 22.3 % 46.5 % 44.6 %
Second Projection 21.8 % 46.6 % 44.4 %
Third Projection 21.5 % 46.1 % 44.6 %
Fourth Projection 20.7 % 45.4 % 45 %
Fifth Projection 20.5 % 45.3 % 45.6 %
Sixth Projection 20.7 % 44.9 % 45.9 %
Actual vote 20.5 % 44 % 47.4 %
33388 of 65878 precincts reporting

The really weird projections concern two tiny parties representing linguistic minorities, the UV which represents French Speakers in Val d’Aosta and the SVP which represents German speakers in Sud Tirole/Alto Adige. These projections can only be described as Merde/Sheitz, since each party was consistently projected to get 0.0 % of the vote. Clearly the allegedly representative sample of precincts did not include any precincts in Val d’Aosta or the Sud Tirole.
With 33388 of 65878 precincts reporting the SVP had 0.7% of the vote so they can not (even with rounding) fall below 0.3 %. Earlier totals were closer to 1% (they count relatively fast in the Sud Tirole).

Now it seems to me that, in this day and age, there is no need to choose a sample of precincts to make projections. It should be possible to have a data base of vote by precinct from past elections and calculate total votes now divided by votes then for reporting precincts, then to use this factor to project national totals as a multiple of last elections national totals. This won’t work if precinct boundaries change (some might have changed boundaries but I think most don’t). It has the advantage that, since it is automatic, no cheating is possible. It would also avoid offending the Sud Tirolishers

Needless to say center left politicians are irritated (in spite of being pleased about the results). I am irritated too, since a thunder storm interrupted my power supply 9 times while I was posting this and I know that Berlusconi is behind it sometimes (can't wear my tinfoil hat in a thunderstorm you know).

Sunday, June 13, 2004

What are we to make of This ?

It is hard to believe Florida would offer Mr. Hardy $4.5 million for his 160 scrubby acres here in the state's southwestern corner, and perhaps harder to believe that Mr. Hardy, a 68-year-old with prostate cancer and little income, would turn the money down. But both happened recently, and now a showdown is brewing.

The state wants Mr. Hardy's land for a huge replumbing of the Everglades, meant to restore the natural flow of rainwater from Lake Okeechobee south toward the ocean.

I could say this shows devotion to property rights gone mad and the need for emminent domain. This guy is interfeering with what appears to be (in large part) an honest effort to restore a disrupted natural environment. Libertarians obviously should name this guy their vice presidential candidate (hey why libertarians he's way more appealing than Cheney). Idiot populists must side with him against the State which is BIG. Sensible people say ... who cares what sensible people say.

I think that a poor guy who turns down 4.5 million is


This means that I have inverted money worship. For me, the guy can make trouble and hurt the everglades provided that he disrespects money. I hate money worship.

Heeyyyyy why don't we put Him on the $10 bill with his shack on the back replacing the engraving of, among other things, Bandar Bin Sultan's personal money laundry.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Right wing joke googlebombers have edged out the true link for the
Democratic National Convention. Markos tells me to counter google and I will (hey Markos you better not have done this to show off).
Prof. Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago department of economics(via Juan Cole)
argues that local elections in Iraq might have, at least, made the situation less disasterous. He wonders why Bremer (pronounced Bush from now on B.) blocked them.
I had some thoughts on the topic posted when the Sadrist uprising began. The point is that local elections were held in Nassiriya and secular candidates won.
I'm sure that this result which is highly embarrassing to B. means that, if Bush is re-elected, Tobin Bradley's career is over.

I agree with Myerson that it is important to understand why local elections were blocked. I am not as willing as he is to eliminate some possible explanations, in particular

1: Jay Garner's theory that all the reason was to impose pure free market economic policies which would have been opposed by any elected Iraqi official. Juan Cole agrees with Garner. Myerson argues
the suggestion of a free-market motivation seems implausible to me (and I am professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where advocating free markets is a local specialty). Even those who hoped to buy Iraqi public assets for bargain-basement prices should have recognized that, for long-term enforcement of their property rights, these transactions would need more legitimacy than occupation officials alone could provide.

I note that the assumption that people are rational is also a local specialty over there. To be very polit, it seems hard to reconcile CPA policy with the rational utility maximisation model. In particular Bush administration policy seems to me to be consistently based on the logic "get our way by any means necessary, we are so right that if we get our way the outcome will be so wonderful so soon that people who we couldn't convince in rational debate ex ante will see that we were right". B. might have thought that free market economics would lead to an economic miracle by January 2005 which would retroactively legitimate the policy and resulting property claims. Such otpimisim requires complete ignorance of the short term effects of the most successful shock therapies. Hmm "complete ignorance," if the shoe fits wear it.

2. Myerson's view that the aim was to help exile politicians (that is Chalabi). Very plausible. Probably at least part of the explanation.

3. General distrust of democracy and control freaking out. This is a very simple expalanation, and to me, very plausible. B. semi follows Augustine praying "Oh Lord give me democracy in Iraq but not just now".

4. No criticism before the US election. Any democratic process would give a legitimate platform to at least some critics of Bush. Thus it must be delayed until after November 2004. I think this is a very strong complement to 3 and an important factor.

3 and 4 have long convinced me, here with reference to the mercifully short lived pseudo caucus proposal.
In general, I think Myerson's approach "cui bono" relies to much an the assumption of rationality, or, as I wrote in April "is the Bush-Bermer team even dumber than I thought ?"

Friday, June 11, 2004

Michael Bérubé totally destroys all credibility Dinesh D'Souza might ever have had. No one who reads this can pretend to believe that D'Souza has anything to contribute to national debate. He should be in some other line of work.

It seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine such an arrogant, obnoxious jerk succeeding in, say, customer service at Procter and Gamble, but I blame society not him and believe that, in the event he proves to be unemployable, he should get welfare given that I advocate a radical expansion of welfare.

However, I do think that Snoop can help D'Souza with his prose style as in

"[The Civil Rights Movement] sought to undermine white racism through a protest strategy that emphasized the recognition of basic rights for blacks, without considering that racism might be fortified if blacks were unable to exercise their rights effectively and responsibly."

"Most African American scholars simply refuse to acknowledge the pathology of violence in the black underclass, apparently convinced that black criminals as well as their targets are both victims: the real culprit is societal racism. Activists recommend federal jobs programs and recruitment into the private sector. Yet it seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine underclass blacks with their gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, and arsenal of weapons doing nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble or the State Department."

"Most African American scholars simply refuse acknowledge da pathology of violence in da black underclass, apparently convinced that black criminals as well as they targets are both victims: da real culprit is societal racism n' shit. Activists recommend federal jobs programs 'n recruitment into da private sector." Yet that shiznit seems unrealistic, bordering on da surreal, imagine underclass blacks wit they gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, 'n arsenal of weapons doing nine--five jobs at Procter 'n Gamble or da State Department n' shit. "

"Increasingly it appears that it is liberal antiracism that is based on ignorance and fear: ignorance of the true nature of racism, and fear that the racist point of view better explains the world than its liberal counterpart."

"Increasingly that shiznit appears that that shiznit is liberal antiracism that is based on ignorance 'n fear: ignorance of da true nature of racism, 'n fear that da racist point of view better explains da world than its liberal counterpart."

"The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well."

"The American slave wuz treated like property, which is be like, pretty well, know what I'm sayin'? "

Well no Snoop D'Souza I don't, but that is a big improvement over the Dinesh quote above, which I undertand much too well.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

From reader Cthulhu via General J.C. Christian I learned about the Snoop Dogg shizzolator. I must say that I find Snoops version of the Kurd's letter to Bush (see below) much more convincing than the original, but I thought, that's good that's very good but what about shizzolating Fafblog ? Like I mean cool squared.

the result of this passing through (unfortunate figure of speech there) askSnoop is

Ready fight da Germans Giblets," I says Giblets n' shit.
"Oh yo' ass better believe that shiznit," says Giblets, know what I'm sayin'?
"Oh those Germans better get ready fo' Fafnir 'n Giblets," I says, know what I'm sayin'?
"For ol Faf 'n Gibs of da 171st armored balloon division," says Giblets, know what I'm sayin'?
"And a proud balloon brizzle is," I says."
"The Germans won't know brizzle is coming," says Giblets, know what I'm sayin'?
"Unless they look up above da horizon," I says, know what I'm sayin'?
"Which seems unlikely because how often do Germans do that," says Giblets n' shit.
"Once a month coincide wit da full moon, or during matin rituals, I read," I says."
"A strange muthas those Germans," says Giblets n' shit.
"Wait do those Germans has guns?" I says, know what I'm sayin'?
"Holy crap nobody be like anythin 'bout guns!" says Giblets, know what I'm sayin'?
"What are they doing wit guns! They could hurt muthas or even pop izzle balloon!" I says n' shit.
"Run away!" says Giblets 'n we did, know what I'm sayin'? *
Anyway n' shit. Thank yo' ass D-Day 'n everyone in that shiznit, know what I'm sayin'? Especially da Canadians."

*We spent da rest of da war posin as cabaret singers in a French production of "No No Nanette n' shit. " It ran fo' three years terrific reviews!
&pimpa; posted by Snoop Fafnir at 10:17 AM

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Via Juan Cole
Letter from Barzani and Talabani to President Bush

04 June 2004
June 1, 2004

His Excellency President George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:


Iraq is a country of two main nationalities, Arabs and Kurds. It seems reasonable that the Arabs might get one of the top jobs (of their choice) but then the other should go to a Kurd.

We also believe the decision to use sectarian quotas for the top two jobs directly contradicts the Coalition’s repeatedly stated position that democratic Iraq’s government should not be based on ethnic or religious criteria, a position the US wrote into the Transitional Administrative Law.

So ethnic quotas are good and religious quotas are bad ? Aren't you supposed to put a paragraph or two in between two contradictory assertions ?

Sneering aside, I have to say that I agree with Barzani and Talibani and disagree with Sistani on this one. The key issue is that the TAL (interim constitution) says the final constitution will take force after a referendum in which 2/3 no votes in 3 governates constitute a veto (by coincidence there are 3 predominantly Kurdish governates). I think this is perfectly reasonable.

I don't know why Sistani objects. He wrote, in his successful effort to convince the UN security council to not endorce the TAL "This matter contravenes the laws, and most children of the Iraqi people reject it." What laws are above the constitution ? The "laws" must be Sharia, which seems to have aquired equal status with the will of the people. Uh oh.

The Kurds threaten to seceed "If the TAL is abrogated, the Kurdistan Regional Government will have no choice but to refrain from participating in the central government and its institutions, not to take part in the national elections, and to bar representatives of the central Government from Kurdistan." The last clause seems to me to justify a stronger word than Cole's "boycott".

All in all, normal high stakes politics I guess. I'd say that things are going relatively OK in Iraq so far this week.
More on the DOD torture memo

From the New York Times

The report also advised that if an interrogator "has a good faith belief his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture."

The report also said that interrogators could justify breaching laws or treaties by invoking the doctrine of necessity. An interrogator using harmful techniques that cause harm might be inoculated from liability if he "believed at the moment that his act is necessary and designed to avoid greater harm."

This is bizarre the argument is that the mental state of the alleged torturer must be assessed in order to arrive at a verdict. The alleged torturer is the only person who can know this, so, short of a guilty plea, proof beyond reasonable doubt is impossible. Did the defence department lawyers really mean to say that "gee I didn't know that people minded having limbs cut off" should be an decisive legal defence. Just try to prove I knew (without torturing me of course). Or how aobut "I believed at the moment that I had to torture him or the Martians would invade"

To me this is related to the argument made by Ashcroft "Ashcroft refused to provide several of the memorandums, saying they amounted to confidential legal advice given the president". It seems to me that the defence department lawyers lacked the proper state of mind to give legal advice, being either insane or completely contemptuous of the concept of law at the time. Does that mean that their memos are not protected ? By their own logic it should.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The DOD Torture memo in the WSJ

The memo is now available for non WSJ subscribers on the web.

Also non anarchists have probably excerpted all of it in one place or another.

I haven't seen a specific discussion of this passage yet.

Foremost, the lawyers rely on the "commander-in-chief authority," concluding that "without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority" to wage war. Moreover, "any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of unlawful combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president," the lawyers advised.

Here the DOD lawyers argue that the president is unlimited by any law or statute whatsoever, when dealing with "unlawful combatants". I find this terrifying because, the Bush administration has clearly stated that Bush can declare anyone an unlawful combatant and no one can overturn such a decision.

Bush claims to have the authority to do whatever he wants to whomever he wants whenever he wants.

Most commentators have focused on the briefer quote "authority to set aside the laws is 'inherent in the president.'" I had hoped that its meaning might have been distorted by the removal of context. I now understand that the context was "following a declaration that the chosen victim is an unlawful combatant."

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Billmon agrees with Perle !!

That the story about why the US knows that Iran knows that we broke their code is crazy. The story "the Iranian official apparently did not immediately believe Mr. Chalabi, because he sent a cable back to Tehran detailing his conversation with Mr. Chalabi"

Perle said "The whole thing hinges on the idea that the Baghdad station chief of the MOIS commits one of the most amazing trade craft errors I've ever heard of,"

I agree with both of them, it does sound very very odd. However, as Josh Marshall (among others) notes, no one who has access to the facts is willing to defend Chalabi.

There are a number of possible explanations

The Baghdad station chief of the MOIS has a Bush administration level of competence (and hey might be looking for a new job).

The Iranians decided to discredit Chalabi (not clear why they would bother given how friendly he was trying to be and how fast his star was setting already).

The CIA has finally managed some semi competent wickedness agaist the not yet incarcerated (about time).

George Bush's gut suddenly told him that Chalabi was no good (the ungratefulness might have ticked him off) and the case against Chalabi is being investigated with the same open mindedness and care as the WMD intelligence.

My favorite tinfoil hat theory is that the "story" is pure patriotic misinformation and that the US knows for some other reason. It goes like this.
MOIS has more than one code. We broke one code and Chalabi told them. The US learned this from a human source in MOIS. The Baghdad MOIS station chief used another code. To protect the source, the officially leaked US line is that we decoded that message. This also causes them to be worried about unbroken codes gumming up their operation some.

An important aspect of the case is that the leak that Chalabi is suspected would appear to damage US national security as noted by Kleiman, Walter Pincus and Dana Priest and me. Going to at least five news sources with this appears to be carrying bureaucratic infighting to Plame outing like levels.

It would be less extreme if the US had reason to suspect that the Iranians knew we knew they knew we had the code. It is leaked that they checked by talking about Iraqi WMD with the broken code. This is clumsy but makes the broken-ness a pretty open secret.

The second leak would be much less extreme if the leaked explanation for how we found out is a lie.

I don't really believe this last hypothesis but it does answer two questions.
I don't beDrudge them their fun

but I am amazed at the sudden spike of Capital Hill Blue quotes on the left blogosphere. Atrios and Kevin Drum link to the "Bush has become Nixon" story and Mark Kleiman the "Bush shares the Plame blame" story, all carefully pointing out that Capital Hill Blue is as fun and almost as reliable as The Onion.

I'm appalled. I'm trembling with rage so hard that I can barely add Capital Hill Blue to my bookmarks (right under the Onion)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Mysterious ways:

I may have been a bit too dismissive of christianity. General JC Christian explains to me why I should be grateful to Jesus Christ (hint not for Viagra).

But if God is so proProzac why did He have Eliot Spitzer drive a story about how Prozac works great for teenagers off the front page. ?
Then add another story which writes this
"Most drug trials are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. And that, some critics say, can lead to a conflict of interest."
to make even more balance for the proprozac story which notes this
"A government-financed study has found that Prozac helps teenagers overcome depression far better than talk therapy"

Gimme some talk (or type therapy) but I warn you, I might kid about Jesus but I don't want to hear any disrespect either for Prozac or for Eliot Spitzer (who is suing the makers of Paxil not Prozac)

Hey wait the current headline on the front page of is
"Two Studies, Two Results, and a Debate Over a Drug"

Recall Journal of Record Paxil is not Prozac, Prozac is not Paxil. Jeez.

Correction: The above post incorrectly described the number of drugs considered in two studies with two results as reported in the New York Times. The number of such drugs was one, that is, Paxil (which works great according to one study) and Paxil which is a sugar pill (according to the other). RJWaldmann regrets the error.
Mole hunting.

Silly me, I focused on the smallest of small fry Michael Ledeen.
While Joshua Marshall has a coded list of suspects. I'm not afraid of getting sued so I will try to decode it
" known for comparing Chalabi to Mohammed" I should remember that. Wolfowitz or Feith.
"folks at OSD involved in B-teaming the regular intelligence community" OK that's Feith so above should be Wolfowitz.
"very high-level administration figures, particularly if they turn out to hang their hats in the White House complex" good god he's accusing the Vice President.

But some people are not willing to settle for medium fry either.
Matt Yglesias makes a very convincing case that the mole is George W. Bush.

Got to admit it explains a whole lot of puzzling policy choices.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Atrios and Traffic

Sitemeter says total visits 11,653 visits this week 5,879 (almost all referred by atrios). It's official more people have visited this site because Atrios linked than had visited in its previous history.

Weird. My big hit as a blogger was pointing out an error so obvious that no one else bothered to mention it which I found in the obscure New York Times in an article on the obscure topic of US torture. Weird.

Update: off like a light. My name has scrolled down so one would have to get to the archives to see it. Instantly my traffic is down to normal again.
Herseth Will Win

5:18 Rome time, 10:18 Central. 579 precincts reporting Herseth leads 89386 to
84787. Roughly (assuming total votes per precinct constant) Diedrich must win
53.5 % of remaining votes. The last 1941 votes went more than 54% for Herseth so this is very unlikely. I call the race for Herseth.

update: 5:25 Rome time only 11 more precincts reporting now Diedrich must win by 6.68 % of remaining votes and he won 6.67 % of votes in those 11 precincts. I'm not scared. I stand by my call.

update 5:28 Rome time. 604 precincts reporting in last 16 precincts Herseth beats Dietrich by 5.8% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 8% (whew).

update 5:32 Rome time. 618 precincts reporting in last 14 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 21% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 7.2% I'm not scared. I stand by my call.

update 5:37 Rome time. 633 precincts reporting in last 15 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 13.1% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 6.9% I'm getting antsy, but I stand by my call.

update 656 precincts reporting in last 23 precincts Herseth beats Dietrich by 13.7% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 9.8% (whew).

update 671 precincts reporting in last 15 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 15.6% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 9.3% I'm not scared. I stand by my call.

update 688 precincts reporting in last 70 precincts Herseth beats Dietrich by 1.6% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 11.1%. That really really looks unlikely.

update 6:08 Rome time. Now 700 preincts reporting. in the last 12 precincts Herseth wins by 3.2% Diedrich must win remaining votes by 12.85 %. That looks really unlikely.

update 6:22 Rome time 712 precincts reporting in last 12 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 12.2% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 12.6%. That looks very unlikely.

update 6:43 Rome time 725 precincts reporting in last 13 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 14.9% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 13.5%. That looks very unlikely. Recall approximation same number of votes in each precinct.

update 6:51 Rome time 753 precincts reporting in last 28 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 7.9% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 19.3%. That looks very very unlikely.

update 6:54 Rome time 758 precincts reporting in last 5 precincts Dietrich beats Herseth by 6.6% Diedrich needs to win remaining votes by 16.3%. That looks very very unlikely.

Update 7:05 Rome time 765 precincts reporting in the last 7 precincts Herseth beat Dietrich by 46.9 percent. Dietrich must win the remaining votes by 27.9 % That looks impossible, but the proof that precincts are totally different makes me no more certain than I was 11 minutes ago.

update 7:35 AM Rome time. in the past half hour 1 precinct has reported. Give me a break (a long break). I just spent a whole sleepless night following congressional election returns in South Dakota. How the hell am I going to survive November? Anyway I am off to sleep.

Final Update 1:29 PM Rome time 5:29 AM in South Dakota. 796 of 798 precincts reporting. Diedrich has won 4 more of the 16448 votes counted since I went to sleep. Assuming that the number of votes per precinct is constant and ignoring late counted absentee ballots, Diedrich would have to win 274 % of the uncounted votes (that means negative votes for Herseth). To be less surreal , there are two unreportgin precincts. My guess is they will report 657 votes Herseth's lead (which was roughly constant all night) is 2944 votes. congratulations congresswoman Herseth.
Debating Bush Debating a Straw Man.

Dana Milbank accuses Our President of debating straw men, for example when The President said
"Some say, 'Well, maybe the recession should have been deeper. That bothers me when people say that. You see, a deeper recession would have meant more families would have been out of work." It takes one to know one. I mean how Can Mr Milbank accuse President Bush of debating with absurd idiots when he himself is debating with President Bush.

Although you know, I'm not sure Bush did that well against the recession supporters. I mean generally families refer to people who are out of work not families. I mean is our president in favor of child labor ? Or does he assume that work is a family activity, because his dad kept finding people to bail him out when he messed up at whatever job he was supposed to be doing ?

Maybe President Bush should stick to debating Depression supporters.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Plan B might work out for Iraq

But only because the B-team was just over-ruled.
Batting 200. I tend to avoid making predictions, but I couldn't resist trying to guess the Iraqi interim government. I hedged a bit by making 5 guesses for 4 positions. Looks like I get 1 out of 5 Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a vice president. My last chance for a decent batting average was that the B team (Brahimi, Blackwill,Bremer and Bush) was trying to impose as President Adnan Pachachi (main qualification he is a Sunni and he doesn't hate Bush). In its last act the IGC insisted on Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar who is very critical of the occupation.

I think this is very good news, because the interim government has to appear to be independent from the USA to get the support of Iraqis, since the vast majority of Iraqis are very angry at the USA. Also the fact that the IGC which is, at least made up of Iraqis, got its way, might partly mollify Iraqis who are angry over the repeated offences (some inevitable some criminal and stupid) against Iraqi national pride.

Ghazi al-Yawar sue doesn't look pleased (that is he is not crazy).
The Sheik is about my age, so I can take some comfort in the fact that, although I have gotten myself into some bad situations, I've never gotten myself elected president of Iraq.

And what about Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He appeared in an old poll as the most trusted man in Iraq. More recently he came in third making him the man in Iraq with the most support who is actually Iraqi (unlike Sistani) and sane (unlike al Sadr). He gets the vice presidency in a proto parliamentary system in which the prime minister has the real power. If, as cactus Jack Garner said, the US vice presidency is "not worth a bucket of warm s*it" what is the Iraqi interim vice presidency worth ?
Billmon's Whiskey Bar is open again ! I might have missed the re-opening but, I admit, that the temprorary closure drove me to Jack Daniel's for comfort. His memorial day post is beautiful.