I love the feature and the fact that it is not behind an impenetrable subscription wall, but I have a complaint to the WSJ. Their summary is based on the assumption that the incumbent party will keep Senate seats from states which they did not poll, including Montana and Rhode Island. This seems to have fooled TPM reader DK (or at least he doesn't contest the silly calculation that there will be 52 Republican Senators including Burns and a Rhode Islander to be named later.
Conrad Burns is semi nailed in the Abramoff probe, has a habit of insulting fire fighters and generally acting like a jerk and a fool and is behind in the polls. Montana is a likely Dem pickup.
By my calculations the Republicans have 50 including extremely narrow leads in Missouri and Tennessee (and not counting a tie in New Jersey and Lieberman). posted by Robert
permalink and comments4:38 PM
Sunday, September 10, 2006
This is an important article by David Johnston in the NY Times
In it anonymous FBI and CIA affiliates argue about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. Basically the FBI wanted to use standard psychological techniques and the CIA wanted to use torture. The CIA had operational control and torture was used.
I learned various things from this article.
1. Many people are not very afraid of Karl Rove any more. All sources are anonymous but they are clearly numerous and all would be in trouble if they were identified. The executive branch is leaking like a sieve. Deterence due to the Plame outing is not working anymore.
2. Abu Zubaydah is a source of accusations against Jose Padilla. It is possible that he is the only source. The FBI associated source(s) claim he accused Padilla before he was tortured. It is clear that there is some sort of evidence concerning Padilla that is absolutely not admissible in court. No surprise that some (or all) of it came from Abu Zubaydah, but now we know.
3. No one seems to contest the claim (also made by Suskind in "The 1 % Doctrine" that Zubaydah's role in al Qaeda was much over estimated before his capture.
4. Zubaydah was tortured as the word is used by all people who don't work for Bush.
5. The CIA was given the lead role in interrogation with no experience in interrogation. This shows the Bush administrations contempt for experience and expertise yet again.
6. People can't agree about facts which should be obvious now. Basically someone seems to repeat a belief which has been proven false as if it were proven true.
These officials said that he proved a wily adversary. “He was lying, and things were going nowhere,” one official briefed on the matter said of the early interviews. “It was clear that he had information about an imminent attack and time was of the essence.”
Several officials said the belief that Mr. Zubaydah might have possessed critical information about a coming terrorist operation figured significantly in the decision to employ tougher tactics, even though it later became apparent he had no such knowledge.
So is it clear that he did know about an imminent or apparent that he didn't ? The officials who claim it was clear that he did know do not seem to have said what the then imminent attack was or if it was stymied. They certainly don't claim that Zubaydah ever revealed useful information on that imminent attack. It seems to me clear that there was no such imminent attack (we would have heard and heard and heard of it being blocked if it had been and it would have been named by the official if it had taken place).
This official seems to be either stupid or insane. He claims an attack was imminent but doesn't seem to mention if it was blocked or if it occured. I think he doesn't know what "imminent" means, although he might use "was clear" to mean "seemed clear" or "we were 1% sure that".
The claimed benefits of torture are vague and weak "He soon began to provide information on key Al Qaeda operators to help us find and capture those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.” Note the claim is even weaker than Bush's claim that the information did indeed help the US find and capture terrorists. If the information had been key to later captures, it would have been described in more detail (it is no longer critical to keep it secret since it is years old). The claim is consistent with Abu Zubaydah confirming known information, making claims which might or might not be true or giving minor information which might conceivably have been used in some way but was not in fact used to capture anyone. I assume that if there was a stronger claim which was not demonstrably false it would have been made and conclude that no useful information was obtained by torturing Abu Zubaydah.
Notice the importance of the 1% doctrine combined with the ticking time bomb argument. Given the sort of insane idiots who decide to torture, allowing torture in the case of a ticking time bomb means accepting a huge amount of torture as an evil means which does not contribut to any end at all.
"Maybe the end justifies the means, but we live in a world of means" Y.K. LeGuin.
Douglas Jehl who was criticized in my one blogging hit contributed to the story.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "9/10/2006 01:13:00 AM":
One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America. posted by Robert
permalink and comments1:13 AM
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I guess it depends on what the definition of the word "relation" is
Released Friday, the report discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward" al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his associates.
As recently as an Aug. 21 news conference, Bush said people should "imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein" with the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction and "who had relations with Zarqawi."
Also noted with appreciation
said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., a member of the committee. "... to make a giant leap in logic to claim that the Bush administration intentionally misled the nation ...is simply not warranted."
Well I guess you can have "relations" without having a "relationship" (musta been a quickie). Seriously, no one is suggesting that Zarqawi and Saddam engaged in oral sex or anything but still Bush's blatant lie does share a word with the much more important lie, no sorry autoparsing, of Bill Clinton.
Also, to be fair, Bond decided to discuss what could be concluded based on the Senate Intelligence Committee's 2004 report (does he know about the two recent reports ?). They decided not to consider whether the Bush administration mislead the nation. Bond seems to think that they have the authority to ban others from addressing the question using the massive available evidence, such as the new smoking gun, 100% solid proof of deceit presented by Abrams.
The Washington Post has an interesting article on the decision to transfer all prisoners disappeared by the CIA to Guantanamo. The most interesting aspect is not stressed by Dafna Linzer and Glenn Kessler. It is that the Bush administration is full of delusional insane psycho lunatics. Consider
Hamdan "forced our hand," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett, the only administration official who agreed to speak on the record. "We knew there was going to have to be some acknowledgment that they were in our hands."
So Mr Bartlett says that the Supreme Court forced the Bush administration to admit that , for example, Khalid Sheik Mohammad was in their hands. Evidently they had been trying to keep this fact secret by first trumpeting his capture and then responding to all criticisms of their handling of the war on terrorism by exagerating what fraction of al Qaeda leaders were in US custody.
"Some acknowledgement" in the same sense that the ruthless facts forced me to make "some acknowledgement£ that George Bush is not a perfect president.
OK let's review. KSM is captured and their is a publicity blitz. He is not in Guantanamo, he is not in Bagram, he is not even in Abu Ghraib. They won't say where exactly he is, but they are trying to hide the fact that his location is secret. Do they think people will assume that he is in a non-secret prison whose location is a non secret secret ?
Not just a crime and a mistake but a logical paradox.
The White House said that Mr. Rove would consider an interview for this article if it were conducted off the record, with the provision that quotations could be put on the record with White House approval, a condition it said was set for other interviews with Mr. Rove. The New York Times declined.
Which press outlets have agreed to those conditions? -- TPM Reader DK
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told one associate last week that he believes that the climate has begun to turn in a way that will help Republicans preserve their majorities, and GOP officials will spend the coming weeks trying to boost the president's approval ratings and frame the contest
Even before I read DK's post on the NY Times's refusal, I thought that was the absurd anonymous sourcing of the year. Now, assuming that Mr Broder is honest, I assume that he has just identified himself (correctly) as an associate of Karl Rove.
I read Brad's post on how politicians mess things up and yours wondering how to explain to the middle class that it has been given a very raw deal one after the other, and I thought that there is a populist campaign which could lead to a reasonable policy campaign. I have no hope that the Democratic party will campaign in this, but if I were the Democratic party I would propose a simple simple increase in the progressivity of the tax code.
This is a key issue where policy which I sincerely support would be in the direct personal interests of 99 % of American families. Say give every taxpayer $ 1,000 (technospeak a refundable credit of 1,000 for every individual 1040 and 2,000 for married couples filing jointly) and balance it by increasing taxes on people who make more than $200,000. Can it be done without marginal rates so high as to cause a huge increase in tax avoidance related activities ? Sure.
The political point of this is that by specifically promising a dollar sum, the Democrats will get people's attention. Another is that the hows of rage from pundits who make over $200,000 and denounce "class war" will spread the message for free.
Now I think a better policy would be to balance the budget by giving each $1000 and raising taxes on people who make over $150,000, but that's just me.
The reason I think such a one plank platform helps address Brad's concern is that, in policy, a reform bill brief enough to put on a bumper sticker has no rooms for loopholes, earmarks or special breaks for special interests.
In this case the miserable junk which passes for public debate on policy, by which I mean slogans and campaign commercials is a less aweful policy development process than the almost open bribery which passes for legislative deliberation.
Now this won't happen, since it would require Democrats to agree on one big populist policy reform. I say taxes, some would say universal health care (better policy but not such political dynamite). Checklist liberalism TM (rights belong to Mark Schmitt I think) implies laundry list platforms which are bad policy and bad politices.
Still I think that both the bad policy and the bad campaign problems can, in principle, be solved by making a very simple precise policy proposal which also serves as a campaign slogan. The crudeness of debate to which the public is invited is an advantage, since sophisticated policy development really means favors for concentrated interests in exchange for cash.
Hmmm what do you call this bold new idea that involving ordinary people in the actual development of policy leads to better policy
Am I dreaming of making Democrats agree ? Am I dreaming of making politicians make specif proposals ? Am I dreaming of politicians being forced to keep their campaign promises ? Guilty on all counts.
Drum says we should say "The Republicans Owe you $20,000" I think we should say "We Democrats will give you $2,000". That would get their attention. Also Drum is able to fudge by considering an increase in total hours worked per capita an injustice and counting women's relative gain an injustice, I would have to make the numbers add up (of course to his credit he has actually done his calculation).
A huge advantage of the telling the poorest 90% "if you vote for us we will give you $2000 plan", is that it will drive the pundits wild with rage. Strawpundit shrilly screams "that that's worse than demagogery that is bribery". Dream Democrat replies "Strawpundit is an honorable man and I am sure he believes what he says and isn't just saying it because our plan will cost him tens of thousands of dollars given his income." posted by Robert
permalink and comments6:10 AM
Why do a Plurality of Americans consider Republicans " better able than Democrats to keep the nation secure ?
Well I think it's because they say "security" but they mean "standing tall", "being number one" and being the worlds alpha Republic. People don't like to admit that they enjoy kicking other countries around, so they claim it is for security.
here is a Newspeak English dictionary
National Security = Kicking Ass
Crime in the Streets = uppity Blacks
Family values = sexaphobia
Judeo Christian = Christian
Christian = fundamentalist
Southern culture = Jim Crow
Rugged individualist = selfish
Big Goverment = paying taxes
Waste Fraud and abuse = I don't want to cut programs
Maybe Cocooning Is Easy!: Eric Alterman, in a post titled "Extreme Poverty is US," writes (quoting today's NYT poverty numbers story):
Again, moreover, "although the numbers living below the poverty line held steady between 2004 and 2005, there has been a sharp increase in those living in extreme poverty."
That's funny, because if you look at the Census numbers, they show... a jump of... well, zero from 2004 [in extreme poverty].... I contend that "zero" is not a "sharp increase."... Alterman... [is] quoting... NYT reporter Rick Lyman paraphrasing "advocates for the poor"--specifically Robert Greenstein, whose influential outfit (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) specializes in devising esoteric measurements to suggest that good poverty news is really bad poverty news...
But what is the "good poverty news" in the Census Bureau's report? What is the "good poverty news" in this table?
Is it that there are more people in extreme poverty than in any year since 1993? Is it that the proportion of Americans in extreme poverty is greater than in any year since 1997? Is it that the extreme poverty rate is 0.9%--2,336,000 people--higher than in 2000, at the last business cycle peak?
Here's what Lyman reports from Bob Greenstein:
Census Reports Slight Increase in %u201905 Incomes - New York Times: advocates for the poor pointed out that, although the numbers living below the poverty line held steady between 2004 and 2005, there has been a sharp increase in those living in extreme poverty. The average person living in poverty actually earned $3,236 less than the poverty line -- $19,971 for a household of four -- in 2005, the highest such gap ever measured by the Census Bureau, said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group. And 43 percent of the poor earned less than half of the poverty limit, Mr. Greenstein said, again the highest such percentage ever recorded.
"This is further evidence that the nation's economic recovery has had very limited reach, with many low- and medium-income families not sharing in the game," he said...
I think Brad is not nearly harsh enough.
The census BLS etc have a formal definition of "poverty" and of "extreme poverty" but that does not mean that everyone must use those words they way they do. Head count indices are very very crude and using two head counts not just one remains a very crude analysis.
The poverty gap statistic is a very useful addition to the pair poverty head count & extreme poverty head count. It is obviously not an "esoteric measurement" and, while I have great respect for the CBPP, I wouldn't guess that they were the first to come up with this obvious measurement.
I guess Kaus uses "esoteric" to mean "you can't look it up in an official document but actually have to do some arithmetic."
Since, the census does not have a copywrite or trademark on the orginary English words "extreme" and "poverty" anymore than Fox news has a trademark on "Fair" and "balanced", Alterman, Lyman, and Greenstein were not caught in an error. Their claim is perfectly reasonable. Lyman and Greenstein explain what they are saying clearly enough that Kaus's objection can only have been made in bad faith.
By the way there is extensive commentary on the effects of welfare reform based on the poverty rate (search for plumer on the blog). It is easy to get confused using the poverty rate. If the most pessimistic alarmist panicked terrified pants pissing forecaster of the effects of welfare reform (the paptppfewr) had been right, one would not expect an increase in the poverty rate, since AFDC benefits are too low to get a family over the poverty line.
Note that the extreme poverty news does not confirm the panic of the paptppfewr (me). He (I) was full of it, since the extreme poverty rate is the same as it was when welfare reform was introduced. This is a remarkable achievement given the late 90s boom, but things are not as bad as they look What has happened to the poverty gap ? I don't know and I should.
Also look at the 70's. What was St Jimmy doing to hammer the poor ? I think it is obvious that the reason for the huge increase in extreme poverty is the erosion of the real value of AFDC benefits (not indexed to inflation). In fact I would expect more action post 96 on the extremely extreme poverty rate or something, since AFDC was not enough in all states to get families over 50% of the poverty line.
econgeek has left a new comment on your post "9/01/2006 06:28:00 AM":
and why exactly are you posting this here?
The post below was meant as a joke. More exactly it was the punchline to the joke at the end of the post immediately below it (posted just before it). Unfortunately, that post has been sent to the archive so this post is not just a semi debugged gauss program but also a very feeble punchline without a joke.
A Gauss program
n = 1000; tb=20;
sn = 1; se = 1;
z = rndn(n,2); x = z*tg+sn*(rndn(n,1)); y = z*tg*tb+se*(rndn(n,1));
b1 = 0; b2 =200;
n=rows(y); onen2= ones(n+2,1);
z = z|zeros(2,2); x = x|zeros(2,1); y = y|zeros(2,1);
After a full day of debugging Gauss codes, I am deliriating and even think that I have something to say to Keving Drum about, you know, the English language, with regards to effective use thereof and stuff. Also I quote this post in full without permission.
ISLAMOFASCISM....David Weigel quotes Jack Reed on George Bush's newfound infatuation with the ridiculous neologism "Islamofascism":
And again, I think it goes to the point of that their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face.
Preach it, brother. The modern Republican Party has mastered the art of winning elections by beating culture war campaign tropes to death in 30-second ad spots, and they seem to think that you can solve actual real-world problems the same way. Sadly, it isn't true. With any luck, the American public will finally figure that out this year.
Jack Reed eventually got around to putting it perfectly. It is ironic that he and you maintain your just proper and honorable disdain for sloganating in spite of the fact that each of you is a master sloganator. Many have understood this fundamental fault of the Bush administration but Reed is the first to put it perfectly.
On the other hand, he seems to have been caught off balance by the question, to have been backfooted, to have stalled for time. The words "And again, I think it goes to the point of that" are hideous and were clearly uttered because he needed to stall a few seconds (I bet my butt that Reed was speaking to someone not writing or giving a speach). The words "you know" happen to be absolutely accurate and to the point, since many people know about this aspect of the utter incompetence of the Bush administration. However they are a pause to catch breath.
The thing I don't get is why you quoted him so ruthlessly. Why didn't you quote "their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face." or even "their first response is ... come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face." ?
Why did you include the first stumbling words when praising Reed's eloquence ? Does your sense of honesty require you to quote whole sentences when praising the last 2 clauses ?
Actually while I'm nitpicking brilliant prose why did you use the aweful word "tropes" when the correct word is "slogans". Were you unwilling to quote a word used by Reed when parapraising him ? (Effort at wit not typo call it a halfwitto.) I hate hate hate the rule of style that priveledges gack aweful words if necessary to avoid repetition. God damn all thyrants ! God damn Thesaurus Rexxon !
Also why do you say "culture war." That would have something to do with the pelvic issues. Sad to say the Republicans have "campaign tropes" for issues which have nothing to do with genetalia such as War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, PAGO, and various other long Russian novels (ahh to be Russian so I could write a thousand page novel entitled PAGO -- No