Friday, December 26, 2003

It is a sad day for political journalism when the best reporter out there is a Professor of Economics!

Jonathan Chait and Will Saletan ought to print out Krugman’s article, frame it and look at it everytime they put one finger to their keyboards.

It is not as if there are no substantive questions that can be addressed to Dean without commenting on his wardrobe or his ‘barking’ as Miller complains. Just to help Chait out, here are some suggestions:

  • Gov Dean, you have said that you will internationalize the Iraq force so we can start rotating our troops out. What is your plan B if France and Germany and the UN Security Council continue to refuse the request of President Dean?

  • Gov Dean, assuming that you become President but Congress remains Republican, how will you get them to vote for your agenda, especially after you have likened them to cockroaches

  • If you repeal all the Bush tax cuts, will you replace it with a more targeted cut or do you believe that the tax system was quite fair before the Bush cuts?

  • See? It is not so hard, once you get past the wardrobe. Of course, the same can be said of Bush – there is whole slew of ‘stuff to ask’ beyond what he had for Christmas dinner. To wit:

  • Do you really believe there is no difference between ‘intention to acquire weapons’ and ‘actually possessing 10,000 tons of mustard gas’?

  • If we are safer because Saddam Hussein has been captured, why the Orange alert?

  • Pervez Musharraf, an acknowledged dictator is our best friend and so is Islam Karimov, the man who boils his opponents alive. Do you really believe that liberty is a gift from God or, as your actions suggest, it is a gift only to the people of Iraq and Cuba and not Kuwait or Saudi Arabia

  • I could go on, but why bother?

    Wednesday, December 24, 2003

    Ok, this blog is supposed to be about Jonathan Chait, but since he references Saletan, the following post is 'fair game'...

    Will Saletan has finally lost it. . He has jumped the shark. Howard Dean has reduced him to sputtering incoherence. If you happen to see a guy walk by muttering under his breath about Democratic Jihadis with his underpants in a bunch, Congratulations! You have been graced with the presence of Will Saletan.

    I had to read that article, re-read it and then look at the by-line to convince myself that this was indeed written by a so-called Democrat.

    The incoherence starts right up top.

    Washington Democrats in power? You mean, as opposed to Clinton, the last Democrat who held power in Washington?

    Newsflash: Bill Clinton is NOT a Washington Democrat in power. He has no power to veto anything. He has no vote to cast for the odious Medicare ‘reform’ bill. Bill Clinton has no power to alter a word of the No Child’s Behind Left Act.

    I know you guys think that everything that ever happens in Washington happens because Bill or Hillary want it. Saletan is as obsessed with Bill Clinton as the Republicans are.

    Get over it.

    Bill. Clinton. Is. Done.

    Saletan is going on about Clinton in the same way the Republicans are idolizing Reagan. Now that does not mean I hate Clinton or anything. I just don’t care to idolize him as the best thing for the Democrats since John Kennedy.

    You mean, Dick Gephardt, the guy for whose presidential campaign Trippi worked in 1988? The guy who shepherded Clinton's economic plan through the House in 1993 and hasn't held power in Washington since he stepped down as minority leader last year? You mean Joe Lieberman, the presidential candidate who has most fiercely defended and most faithfully extended Clinton's centrist Democratic agenda?

    Yes. The ones who lost the Senate in 2002. The same dudes who stood by George Bush’s side when he was spouting that nonsense about Iraq having WMD and how Saddam Hussein was going to land in Podunk Kentucky and rape our womenfolk and kill our babies?

    We are talking about the geniuses that allowed Bush to pass not one, but two tax cuts aimed at destroying the surplus that Bill Clinton had so assiduously sought to build. Ok, so they did not have the votes to stop it. They did not have the balls to stand on principle and vote no either.

    The same bozos who did not have the courage to spend their political capital to push the White House on the Valerie Plame affair (remember that - you losers?). The brave men who couldn’t bring themselves to hold Cheney’s feet to the fire for his energy ‘policy’ group.

    Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman are quintessential Washington Insiders: they go along to get along.

    Toward that end, Dean rejects nearly every proposition or policy put forward by Bush.

    Good for him. Because as Krugman has meticulously documented, every policy this administration has been putting forward is aimed squarely at one goal: the re-election of Bush, the American public be damned. Otherwise why all the dishonesty? why sunset provisions for tax cuts aimed squarely at the 2004 elections? Why blow the deficit to benefit campaign contributors? Why the no-bid contracts for Halliburton?

    Picture that debate next year: On one side, Bush, the Washington Democrats, support for some tax cuts, relief at Saddam's capture, and the belief that by toppling the Taliban, if not Saddam, we're safer today than we were on 9/11. On the other side, Howard Dean.

    Don’t change the subject. Saddam did very little to make us less safe on 9/11. His capture does nothing to make us safer on 12/14/2003. Saddam was a tin-pot dictator in rich company: Sani Abacha, Idi Amin, Charles Taylor… not the global menace Bush made him out to be.

    ‘Support for some tax cuts’ sounds great, but what justifies building up deficits for those particular tax cuts? We finally get a Democrat who is a fiscal conservative and Saletan calls him a jihadi? Dude, you need help!

    Given a list of 15 reasons to vote for Gore, of which each respondent could choose three, 12 percent of respondents chose "his willingness to stand up to the HMOs, drug and oil companies." Given a list of 16 reasons to vote against Gore, 17 percent chose "his attacks on HMOs, drug and oil companies." For those of you keeping score at home, that's a net loss.

    Ok, so now we know he doesn't know how to read statistics. In the survey respondents were asked to chose any three reasons to either support or reject Al Gore. 12 % and 17 % respectively chose his stance on HMO’s etc. as one reason. All it means is that this was not an important reason to either support or reject Gore. It just wasn’t high on anybody’s priority list.

    Saletan’s (mis)use of statistical methods simply illustrates his complete incompetence in matters analytical.

    He concludes with the following gem:

    I'm sure Dean feels just as good about declaring war on moderate Democrats, tax cuts, military intervention, and the press. And if he keeps it up, he'll be just as killed.

    If , by ‘Moderate Democrats’ Dean means the guys who go along to get along, if by ‘tax cuts’ he means the massive deficit we have willed to our children, if by ‘military intervention’ Dean opposes the pack of outright lies this Administration trotted out for the Iraq war.. more power to him.

    It is time someone stood up to the ‘press’ embodied by frothing at the mouth ‘political analysts’ such as Saletan. Tell them that they are irrelevant and incoherent.

    What can possibly explain the sputtering rage in calling Dean a ‘suicide bomber’, the man who has caused more ordinary Americans to open up their wallets to him than anyone else in the history of this nation ?

    Saletan cannot help make the next President of the United States and it is pissing him off.

    Good. Now he can go jump off the nearest cliff for all we care.

    Tuesday, December 23, 2003

    Jonathan Chait has not picked up the gauntlet I threw down – tell us why Dean is a ‘leftist liberal’. But the prattling continues. There is a new reason why Dean is unelectable - he is too secular

    I used to think that Somerby was sometimes over the top in describing our discourse as too corrupted. Now I think he is understating it.

    We have learned that Jonathan Chait hates Dean because

  • Dean told the truth about Saddam’s capture not making America safer

  • Dean told the truth about the need to repeal all of Bush’s tax cuts and starting over

  • Dean does not fake an overt display of religiosity

  • Dean is ‘bashing’ Clinton, even though the factual evidence suggests the exact opposite

  • Dean was foolish enough to suggest that the Washington Post may not be accurate in reporting Dean’s positions

  • Dean is ‘running to the left’ but Chait has no evidence to offer to support this claim

  • In other words, Dean does not lie and pretend enough!

    I am trying to understand why Jonathan Chait who is obviously intelligent would try and defend such an irrational set of beliefs. Is it because he (and the rest of the establishment press) are not able to influence the nomination process?

    Does the DLC and the Washington Press really hate Dean so much that they are willing to suggest that he is unelectable because he tells the truth too often?

    And yet, the knock on Dean is that he is lying about everything!

    How is that for cognitive dissonance?

    Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity has fallen into the same trap. He is starting to believe the nonsense about Dean being a ‘Liar’. Brendan should carefully read the question posed to Dean in the Debate: 'Gov. Dean, you have stated that President Bush was warned....'. Did Dean state that? Really?

    Housekeeping note: I have deliberately elected to remain completely anonymous – I want to be read on the merits of my arguments and not on any extraneous factor – like the color of my skin. For all anyone knows, I could be a ‘guy driving a pickup truck with the confederate flag on it’. That is the same reason I have no intentions of allowing comments on this blog – there are enough other places to do that.

    PS: On the plus side, this blog was quoted in the Washington Post. On the minus side, the quotation was in Howard ‘I am the biggest media whore’ Kurtz’s article about Joe Trippi.

    I am starting to enjoy this.

    Sunday, December 21, 2003

    Today's edition of the Chait Nonsense, comes up with a couple of old chestnuts and one new one. Alas, the Nonsense index is as high as ever.

    The old chestnut is the attempt to paint Dean as a liar. The media did this very succesfully with Gore - Somerby chronicles these exhaustively. Paul Gigot (of the Wall Street Journal) continues this nonsense even today by blaming Gore for the Willie Horton ad during the 1988 elections.

    This time, Chait calls the Washington Post to his side in calling Dean a liar: any reasonable observer would have to conclude that Dean is lying

    The WaPo article is itself a cheap collection of innueando and exaggerations. For example: Did Dean give a tax break to Enron - implying that he favored Enron over others?

    The record shows that he gave a tax break to energy companies that Enron exploited, among other energy companies. Was he supposed to have foreseen the Enron fraud and denied them and them alone? Governors give tax breaks to industries all the time. You can quarrell with that on principle, But to insinuate that he somehow favored Enron and then call him a liar when he denies it?

    Then there is this nonsense about the parental notification example. Here is the chronology, for those who are not familiar with it.

    - Sometime during his medical practice, Dean encounters a pregnant teenager and believes that she was impregnated by her father
    - He later finds out that 'it was not the father and the situation was more complex than that'
    - He addresses Democrats in anuary this year and tells the story as an example of why he opposes mandatory parental notification law.
    - He expands on it in the Meet the Press interview by saying - 'most of the time when a girl says my parents are going to kill me she is not serious. Sometimes they are not kidding'

    So now people are all over him for having 'witheld' the fact that he 'later learned it was not true'.

    They are deliberately missing Dean's point and playing gotcha. He could have said: 'I later learned that it was not the father who made her pregnant', but that would be completely irrelevant to the point he was making - which is:
    sometimes a doctor has to use his / her judgement to decide whether or not to notify parents, especially in cases of potential incest. Compulsory notification laws can put the child at risk

    He spelled it out in the MTP interview: 'Why can't it be a matter between the girl, the doctor and the family? why does the government have to get involved'?

    See? We get it.

    Damage Control Dean

    Chait is trying to stick Dean with the 'he is always in Damage Control' story. To paraphrase Somerby, the Press is telling the story it likes: Dean has to do a lot of damage control. Is that true?

    Let us try an analogy here:

    'Bush regularly beats his dog with a stick' reports the NYT
    Bush denies it and shows that the dog is healthy and has no marks on it
    'Bush is in Damage Control Mode' opines NYT

    Or how about:

    'Chait has killed small animals for fun'
    Chait denies it.
    'Chait is in damage control mode'

    Here is how it works with Dean:

    'Dean is leaning left' say the corrupted press corps (no evidence, just a statement)
    'Dean is a centrist' say his supporters
    'See, he is doing damage control, denying that he is a liberal leftist' crows Jonathan Chait.

    So, my challenge to Chait:

    Why do you say that Dean is 'too far to the left'? List them, issue-by-issue. Stop trotting out BS because it sounds pleasing. Back up your BS with some real facts.

    Oh, and 'it is obvious he is leaning left' or ' you are too partisan to see the obvious fact he is leaning left' crap is not acceptable. We would like to see a real argument, for a change.

    So howzabout it Jonathan? You want to stand up and actually say why you think Dean is (currently) leaning left?

    the He is right and I hate him for saying it watch:

    On Tax Cuts:

    Dean proposes to repeal the entire Bush tax cut. On the merits of the issue, this is a reasonable stance.

    But again, as in the case of Saddam's capture, Chait wants Dean to lie to the American People: 'I only want to raise taxes for the wealthy', thereby setting himself up for the 'class warfare' accusation.

    Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

    Friday, December 19, 2003

    Having achieved the desired result, I have edited out the shock-value content out of my last post. If you visited us and saw it and it brought a smile to your lips, I am glad. If it caused a frown, I apologize ... I don't like re-arranging anatomy, even metaphorically.

    So, Chait stopped by. Good.

    Any substantive responses to our main point: Why does Chait hate Dean for stating something that Chait himself agrees with - namely: the capture of Saddam did little to make Americans safer?


    But an interesting new anti-Dean meme (I heard a variation of this on Rush today...) - he is trying to be the anti-Clinton.

    Interesting because that is the exact opposite of what Dean has actually said. (I am paraphrasing, but the actual quotes are easy to find)

    'My first job as President would be to send Clinton over to the Middle East, since he was the most effective negotiator'

    'My question to the American people is this: would you be willing to pay the taxes of the Clinton years for the prosperity of the Clinton years? I suspect that the answer will be yes'

    Saletan, Chait et al suffer from the same hubris: It is so because we say it is so. They trot out the theme: Dean is 'bashing' Clinton.

    Is there any evidence to support this thesis?

    Don't be a fool. Sophisticates will see beyond the obvious and discover the subliminal.

    Al Gore endorsed Dean not because Dean and he agreed on the major issue - Iraq War - but because Gore wants to stick a thumb in Clinton's eye. Dean wants to be Anti-Clinton so the 'Clinton hating faction' of the Democratic party will vote for him. The effect of this strategy on the Clinton loving faction (at last count Hillary was beating all Democratic candidates among Democratic voters) is yet to be determined. Ok, got that. Yep, makes perfect sense.

    Rush Limbaugh got into the act today: he was arguing that Democrats are 'Bush haters' because - get this - they really hate Clinton but cannot bring themselves to say so and are 'transferring' their hate to Clinton.

    If this is the kind of stuff Rush has been absorbing in his rehab ....

    Memo to Saletan and Chait: Clinton (Bill) is done. We are over him. We liked his policies, we did not like his inability to keep his pants zipped up.

    we are ready to move on. We like Dean - not because he is anti-Clinton, not because he is far left (or far right, depending on the day of the week) but because he makes sense with the following large themes:

  • Iraq War was a mistake - there was not enough evidence to support a War to remove WMD

  • I would have supported a war if there was a UN resolution that specifically called for force - even if I thought that the evidence was unconvincing

  • The tax-cuts did not really benefit the people - it simply shifted the burden to other forms such as property taxes

  • Most of the Patriot Act is a bad thing for the US

  • Different states should have different levels of gun laws

  • Marriage is left to churches; rights are a matter of government. Thefore civil unions make sense as a matter of Government. Gay Marriage may not as a matter of religion.

  • The reason why Dean is starting to be 'teflon Dean' is that we already get what he stands for. (See above, for my reasons)

    Thursday, December 18, 2003

    Let us start with the diary entry from 12/17/03 (You have to go here and then scroll down…

    Dean is a fool to tell the truth

    Chait's chides Dean for:

    asserting that Americans are no safer because of Saddam Hussein's capture

    Did Dean say that? (after diligently reading Somerby I always check the source)

    Yep. He did.

    Chait agrees with Dean: People living in America, it's true, are not safer he says, and then starts to parse the hell out of it:

    There are, however, many Americans in Iraq who are safer

    Oh, really? who? (Honorary American) Ahmad Chalabi? American soldiers in Iraq? Exactly who was Saddam threatening from inside his hole in the ground?

    And then comes the journalistic hubris of Chait.

    The biggest problem with Dean's Iraq position is that he gives off the vibe that he likes to equivocate about the bad guys rather than recognize them for what they are.

    Translated: I don’t like the guy, so I can slime him by saying ‘he gives off a vibe’, even though he is right.

    Here is what Dean said about Saddam Hussein in that speech:

    Saddam was a brutal dictator who should be brought swiftly to justice for his crimes. . What part of 'brutal dictator' is equivocation? Has Dean ever suggested 'Saddam was bad in many ways, but....'?

    This is Al Gore and ‘earth tones’ and ‘reinventing’ all over again. Chait ought to be ashamed of himself.

    Incredibly, he goes on to quote the WaPo editorial that says And only Mr. Dean made the extraordinary argument that the capture of Saddam Hussein "has not made Americans safer." , a position Chait himself agrees with!

    Chait goes on

    So even if it's narrowly true that Americans are no safer, it sends off a terrible message to the voters.

    If telling the truth sends a ‘terrible’ message, what is Dean supposed to do? Lie?

    Dean is not a team player

    Let us roll the tape:

    Chait, (quoting Dean in the LA Weekly)

    … and if I don't ... these kids are not transferrable. I can't just go out and say, "Okay, so I didn't win the nomination, so go ahead and vote for the Democrats." They're not going to suddenly just go away. That's not gonna happen.

    What Dean actually said: I can’t just go out and say…

    What Chait implies Dean said: I won’t just go out and say…

    Let us try an analogy here:

    I can’t tell my two-year not to scribble on the wall. She is not going to suddenly stop making a mess. That doesn’t mean I want my two-year-old to write on the wall or I won’t tell her not to. (I am waiting for Chait to triumphantly proclaim: Dean thinks of his followers as two-year-olds)

    Dean has consistently said that he would support any of the candidates – even before he became a ‘front runner’. In the LA Weekly interview he made the obvious point that his supporters are not sheep to follow his bidding. He said that his supporters make up their own minds and are not going to behave like lemmings.

    You got a problem with that?

    Then there is this entry from 12/12/03. An incredible piece of trash writing. Let us examine the evidence:

    The main argument against Dean--or, at least, the one that I found persuasive--was not that he was too brash or liberal or small-state to win a Democratic primary. It was that he couldn't possibly win a general election.

    By this logic nobody could ever make an argument about electability. However, what we know about Dean is as close to scientific proof as can possibly be attained in these circumstances that he would make a terrible Democratic nominee.

    ,… and the ultimate snark

    If anybody comes up with a way that doesn't involve suspending all the known laws of politics, please let me know.

    First Chait throws around certainties: couldn’t possibly win … close to scientific proof as can possibly be attained . No evidence, no proofs, just opinions stated as incontrovertible or obvious facts. “The sun rises in the East” and “Dean cannot win” are equally certain, in Chait’s mind.

    Perhaps he will enlighten us by posting all the 'known laws of politics' for us to see.

    Hello Blogosphere (or should that be "Blogtopia?")

    This blog is to Jonathan Chait what Donald Luskin is to Krugman. (Yes, I know that my skin crawls at the reference to Luskin. Thank you for reminding me).

    Chait has chosen to hang his haterd for all to see. Someone needs to debunk the nonsense that is bound to show up on this blog. To paraphrase Chait, 'I have appointed myself'.

    The first posts will show up soon. Stay tuned.

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