October 03, 2003

Slime and Defend

Just great. Just absolutely great. The White House decision to "slime [Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson] and defend [the leakers]" has unanticipated consequences:

Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm (washingtonpost.com): Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm: The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.... The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign. After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA....

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities. "That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.

FEC rules require donors to list their employment. Plame used her married name, Valerie E. Wilson, and listed her employment as an "analyst" with Brewster-Jennings & Associates. The document establishes that Plame has worked undercover within the past five years. The time frame is one of the standards used in making determinations about whether a disclosure is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. It could not be learned yesterday whether other CIA operatives were associated with Brewster-Jennings....

The name of the CIA front company was broadcast yesterday by Novak, the syndicated journalist who originally identified Plame. Novak, highlighting Wilson's ties to Democrats, said on CNN that Wilson's "wife, the CIA employee, gave $1,000 to Gore and she listed herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates. There is no such firm, I'm convinced," he continued. "CIA people are not supposed to list themselves with fictitious firms if they're under a deep cover -- they're supposed to be real firms, or so I'm told. Sort of adds to the little mystery."

In fact, it appears the firm did exist, at least on paper. The Dun & Bradstreet database of company names lists a firm that is called both Brewster Jennings & Associates and Jennings Brewster & Associates....

Did nobody think that this is not the week to encourge Robert Novak to go out and attack Valerie Plame Wilson? That such attacks might have bad consequences? Could nobody at the White House be bothered to tell Novak that things were serious--and that he should shut up before he did more damage? Of course not: that would require a White House staff where somebody is concerned with national security, rather than with just "slime and defend."

Posted by DeLong at October 3, 2003 08:55 PM | TrackBack

Comments

This looks incredibly serious. I think it's time for people to call for two things:

1. CNN should fire Bob Novak

2. Bush better find and turn over the leaker immediately, which I'm sure he could do easily, or else Bush himself should resign.

Posted by: Bobby on October 3, 2003 09:31 PM

You assume that the leaker(s) have more loyalty to George W. Bush or to the nation than to their own career advancement. That may not be true.

That's why George W. Bush needs a special prosecutor: for Ashcroft to fail to find the leaker(s) is very, very bad for George W. Bush indeed...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 3, 2003 09:34 PM

The firm appears not to be in existence, so the direct consequences may not (or may) be serious. On that, let's wait and see.

However, on the issue of Novak's recklessness, there's no doubt. The Act which was violated by the leak only permits journalists to be prosecuted if they exhibit a pattern of practice of exposing agents. With this last bit of idiocy, Novak may well have nominated himself for time in jail.

Posted by: Charles on October 3, 2003 09:34 PM

Clearly John Ashcroft should declare Novak a combatant, throw him into the Guantanimo gulag, interrogate him by all means necessary, get the names of the leakers and try them all by military tribunal.

Yeah, right.

Posted by: Josh Halpern on October 3, 2003 09:50 PM

Limbaugh was a boorish impolitic fool, but Novak has become truly dangerous. I think this requires a massive email/letter campaign to get him fired. And he can scream all day long about some VLWC to can his ass, but he has done this to his own damn self. What a complete idiot. I'm more appalled than I can say.

Posted by: chris on October 3, 2003 10:09 PM

The name "Brewster Jennings" sounded familiar, and, sure enough, it does make sense. That's a name in the family of Oliver B. Jennings, a cofounder of Standard Oil with Rockefeller. Brewster Jennings was a representative of ARAMCO in the late 40s, and the president of a company then called Socony-Vacuum Oil. In 1955, that became Socony Mobil, and in 1966 just Mobil Oil (you might have heard of that one, although it's a bit obscure...). So there really *should* be an oil consulting firm called "Brewster Jenning & Associates", and I doubt the name would have raised an eyebrow within the energy industry...despite the fact that Robert Novak knew nothing of it.

Posted by: Jonathan King on October 3, 2003 10:12 PM

I agree with Josh. Novak is hypocritical and sanctimonious about outing Plame and then again (he was doing Rove's bidding when he first published the story) attacking her on air. He is compromising national security. It has been reported in the New York Times that the Patriot Act is now being used to prosecute drug dealers and illegal aliens (there has to be a better term for some of them). Ashcroft should prosecute Novak. An alternative, one way to shorten and reduce the cost of the leak investigation is to simply subpoena Novak before a grand jury. If he refuses to speak then ask a Judge to order him to speak. If he doesn't speak then ask the Judge to hold him in contempt. If he doesn't speak throw him in jail. When he speaks he goes free. He'll squeal. He'll initially act righteous about the journalistic privilege of protecting his sources. According to Bush I the leak is an act of treason. Treason!!! Surely the journalist shield doesn't stand up to that, especially when, according to Rehnquist's own book that in times of war out goes the Constitution and in comes the crack down on civil rights. Well fed pundits will come to his defense and puff up their chests and prop up their chins on television to proclaim Novak as a political prisoner. (Now there's irony: Novak would be in jail for protecting people who enlisted him to be their assassin for a political hatchet job.) He wouldn't last long. Especially when, as I have read, the college basketball season begins and he misses his beloved Maryland Terrapins in action. He'd talk. He'd sing. He'd negotiate a major book deal. Rob Lowe would play him in the made for television movie. Let's end this charade now. The laws are in place to force him to talk; unless, of course, he takes the 5th because he is in on it. Then he has to get an immunity deal.

An observation: does anyone think that Novak looks like Simon Barsinister from the Underdog Cartoon?

Posted by: Cal on October 3, 2003 10:20 PM

I wonder if Brewster Jennings is hiring, I could use a job.

Posted by: harv on October 3, 2003 10:32 PM

is this possible? What was Novak trying to say? that because her firm didn' t exist it shows she wasn't undercover? How could he be so stupid as to compound the original leak?
This is getting weirder and weirder.

Posted by: Michael R on October 3, 2003 10:54 PM

Ashcroft will not find the real leaker(s). Right now, as we speak, rightwing fanatics are negotiating with Richard Mellon Scaife to take the fall, do the time, and upon release from prison (country club prison, not Gitmo), they become very wealthy. The "investigation" is simply a stall in order to dummy up the evidence which will be selectively released to the press upon announcement of the prearranged guilty pleas.

Posted by: Cal on October 3, 2003 10:54 PM

Michael R -- I think he is trying to discredit Plame and Wilson as Democrats with an axe to grind. The insinuation is that Gore is in on it as some sort of campaign contribution scam. Or that factions of the CIA are using CIA resources as covers for supporting Democrats. Oh, I don't know. It is weirder and weirder . . . but we are dealing with the weird to begin with, so we have to try and think like them to figure it out.

Posted by: Cal on October 3, 2003 11:04 PM

This is serious, a lot is riding for many people. Take for instance, Alberto Gonzales, counsel to the President. He is a Democrat. He is a former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He is assumed to be part of Bush's woo-the-Latino gambit by naming him as an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States (even more insurance if the next election is close). Here he is knowing that he has to look competent, respectful of, and upholding the laws with respect to the President's response to this serious breach of national security and heinous felony masquerading as a dirty political trick. So he cannot look like he is playing games, being an obstructionist, or playing cheap partisan politics (afterall, Poppy has called this treason) or he will be filibustered by the Democrats in the Senate when he is nominated for the Supreme Court. But he also cannot deliver heads (especially Rove's head) on a platter. (This also raising an interesting point: if it is Rove, who in the past helped Ashcroft on his campaigns, who is nailed for this and must go to the big house, will Ashcroft ask the Judge to relax the mandatory guidelines for prison sentences -- no pleas bargaining is the official line from Ashcroft -- and go easy on Rove?) So Gonzales is between a rock and a hard place. He wants to be a Supreme Court Justice, but he also wants to avoid the wraith of the rightwing. How can he do all this and ensure confirmation by the Democrats? His nomination to the Supreme Court is riding on his performance during this scandal now unfolding in Washington.

Posted by: Cal on October 4, 2003 12:02 AM

This latest development just might be the deathblow for the Administration. The Leakers might conceivably be able to get away with exposing the identity of one CIA agent, no matter how important she was -- but exposing an entire CIA front organization as part of a political scheme?

Even if the CIA wasn't already furious with the White House -- and even if they hadn't already carefully leaked to the Post that they already whodunnit, and that they expect the White House to clean itself up or they'll reveal what else they know -- THIS will make them absolutely rabid. And there are a lot of Republicans outside the CIA for which this new development is likely to be the last straw. (All this is true whether or not Novak's new revelation was due to an entirely new leak from the White House Leakers -- as Kevin Drum thinks -- or whether Novak managed to dig up the identity of Valerie Plame's employer by himself.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 4, 2003 02:24 AM

That's "they already know whodunnit". (I keep thinking I've actually physically typed words when I've only thought them. Sigh...)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 4, 2003 02:26 AM

Not to belittle the incredible sleuthing skills of Robert Novak, but...

Over at my website, I have a permalink to the following website, labeled "FEC Spy". It is a website that tracks Federal Election Commission filings - enter a name, see what you get. Kind of fun before going to a dinner party if you want to check out the host or hostess. KIDDING!

Anyway, here is the site:

http://herndon1.sdrdc.com/fecimg/query.html

"Plame, Valerie" draws a blank; "Plame, Wilson" gets a number of hits, including the divine Ms. "E", in Washington.

My point - if I can do this, I have a suspicion that any damn intelligence agency can, and already has. So, this connection should have been made by disciplined pros back in July.

From which it follows, give Novak a break.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on October 4, 2003 06:15 AM

I've often wondered just how Novak has always managed to get away with his reckless smears and dishonesty. I have a sinking feeling that he's going to get away with it again, as 'not technically illegal', but hope springs eternal...

Posted by: Matt on October 4, 2003 07:30 AM

Or the James Bonds could have just hit on her. As everyone's favorite 50 year old high school junior put it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/02/opinion/02DOWD.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fMaureen%20Dowd

" Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson both happened to alight in Washington, their jet-set schedules intersecting, and spotted each other across a cocktail party filled with foreigners.

" 'I saw this striking blonde,' he recalled, still sounding smitten six years later. At first she said she was an energy analyst, but confided sometime around the first kiss that she was in the C.I.A. 'I had a security clearance,' grinned Mr. Wilson, then a political adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Europe."

Some Mata Hari.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 4, 2003 08:04 AM

Does the name Aldrich Ames ring a bell 'round these parts?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein on October 4, 2003 08:27 AM

It's as if Novak is taking his cues from Monty Python. "He's not dead yet", whack that pinata one more time. "He's not dead yet," whack him again. Set aside the national security implications of his actions and wonder, how does a man so willfully reckless have a job (er, a job not on Fox News).

Posted by: Brendan on October 4, 2003 08:49 AM

And, btw, this is incorrect:

" The document establishes that Plame has worked undercover within the past five years. The time frame is one of the standards used in making determinations about whether a disclosure is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act."

That's not what the law says, here is the relevant part:

"(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States "

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 4, 2003 08:55 AM

" Novak is hypocritical and sanctimonious about outing Plame and then again"

Not as bad as Clifford May.

First, he says she wasn't that secret, somebody anonymous told Cliff she worked for the CIA (short after Wilson's op/ed, about the same time Novak was being told).

Then, over in TNR, he says journalists should reveal anonymous sources if they believe a felony is involved.

THEN, he says, based on Maureen Dowd's column, Plame blew her own cover to Wilson before they were married. And he makes a big deal of this.

So I'm waiting for Cliff May, hypocrite, to reveal the name of the person who leaked her CIA role to Cliff May.

Posted by: Jon H on October 4, 2003 09:16 AM

I agree with all of you. It's time to repeal the first amendment. Then you wouldn't have to deal with Paula Jones, let alone Novak. What a joke ! If she was a deep cover agent maybe she should use another address to contribute to Gore. Sheesh.

Posted by: MIke K on October 4, 2003 09:17 AM

I agree with all of you. It's time to repeal the first amendment. Then you wouldn't have to deal with Paula Jones, let alone Novak. What a joke ! If she was a deep cover agent maybe she should use another address to contribute to Gore. Sheesh.

Posted by: MIke K on October 4, 2003 09:18 AM

I agree with all of you. It's time to repeal the first amendment. Then you wouldn't have to deal with Paula Jones, let alone Novak. What a joke ! If she was a deep cover agent maybe she should use another address to contribute to Gore. Sheesh.

Posted by: MIke K on October 4, 2003 09:19 AM

I don't think Novak should go to jail-- I just think his lies and smears ought to have some effect on -his- reputation as a 'commentator'.

Posted by: Matt on October 4, 2003 10:03 AM

Trolly Sully Trolly

Why do radical rightees despise America? Or, why do radical rightees despise any American who is not a radical rightee troll?

Posted by: Ari on October 4, 2003 10:06 AM

I'm surprised I'm not hearing more about Novak's politics here ... he's not exactly a fan of GWB and the operations in Iraq, even if he is conservative. It's not at all clear he is susceptible to White House pressure to shut up. Maybe from other Republican leaders, though, who might feel he's doing damage. But not from the White House.

Posted by: rkb on October 4, 2003 10:08 AM

This looks more bizarre as it develops. Novak is definitely a rightwing Republican dirty-tricks operative (rather than an analyst -- ha! ha!). But he's also a paleoconservative who hates the neocons and opposed the second Iraq war (and maybe the first). Frankly, I have no idea what he's trying to do, but I don't really think that he's working for the White House.

Is Novak in Opus Dei? He used the Opus Dei traitor Hanssen as a source in some of his anti-Clinton smears. (The Chinese double agent Leung also was a source, IIRC, for some of the anti-Clinton smears as well as some Wen Ho Lee stuff).

Despite the paranoid reputation I cultivate, I really don't do much of this kind of connect-the-dots inside-baseball stuff. Mostly I just make a practice of assuming the worst about the Bush Administration -- a practice which has served me well. But between Novak, the paleocons, the CIA, the neocons, Rove, Cheney, and Cheney's man Libby, there's something very fishy and odd going on here.

(G. Gordon Libby-Dole? -- I've had too much coffee).

Posted by: Zizka on October 4, 2003 10:30 AM

All the more reason to compel Novak to testify and name the names. Let's cut to the chase here. Novak names the names, then the FBI can narrow the investigation. It saves time and money and makes for a more efficient government: all goals lauded by Novak and his conservatives buddies. If Navak is the Patriot he claims to be, then shouldn't he? In the foggy recesses of my memory I think I recall hearing Bill Buckley, or someone like him say, E.m. Forrester once said, " 'If I have to choose between a friend and my country, I hope to be brave enough to choose my friend.' That was a really dumb thing to say." (Obviously I'm mangling the quote and the memory.) Then the person went off on a diatribe about how we must expect utmost loyalty to the country, etc. This is part of the conservative ethos. If it is, then Novak should come forward and simply tell the names of his sources. He probably fears being turned into the Elia Kazan of the Washington blowhard set. And if the Bushies are serious about getting to the bottom of this, then Ashcroft himself should haul Navak before a grand jury.

Posted by: Cal on October 4, 2003 10:46 AM

rkb writes: "not exactly a fan of GWB and the operations in Iraq, even if he is conservative. It's not at all clear he is susceptible to White House pressure to shut up. "

Then again, maybe he's trying to curry favor with the regime and make up for being off the talking points on the war, in time for the next campaign season.

That'd be one reason he'd be so compliant.

Posted by: Jon h on October 4, 2003 11:38 AM

"Let's cut to the chase here. Novak names the names, then the FBI can narrow the investigation."

Let's cut to the chase here. The ediotrs of the Washington Post and the New York Times names the names, then the FBI can narrow the investigation.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein on October 4, 2003 11:42 AM

Guys, what's the rush? The longer this goes on, the longer that Bush will be thrown off his agenda and talking points.

Ideally they will refuse to appoint a special prosecuter and Ashcroft will ding around for a few weeks and find nothing.

Then the Wilson's file a civil lawsuit naming names and then subpoena the whole rotton lot of them and haul them all in for depositions. Remember, lying really isn't a choice because too many people already know the identies of the real leakers. Also, remember that the Paula Jones lawsuit already set the precedent for lawsuits against a sitting president. There's no immunity to be had here folks. Especially not for Rove or Libby or Cheney. Not even for Bush. Unlike Bush v. Gore, the Paula Jones case didn't have any "good for one-time only" clause. It is the law of the land. If Clinton can be hauled into civil court for sexual harassment, then anyone in the Bush Administration can be hauled into civil court by the Wilsons.

Presumably some really smart lawyers can set enough perjury traps that they can't wiggle out of so that the ones who were't really part of the original leak can maybe be rounded up on perjury charges. And, if there was any cover-up at all by the Justice Department, you can also catch Ashcroft.

Then you really do appoint a special prosecuter, but it's not so much to deal with the original leak, as with all the lies and cover-ups.

The Republicans know how to play this game well. Let's see if the Democrats can do it as well.

This is not a scandal like Iran Contra where some special assistant working in a basement can shred the evidence. Too many people outside the administration already know what happened. All the Washington Post or NYT needs to do is run a front-page story titled "Cover-Up" in which "unnamed sources" tell what really happened. Reporters don't need to go public to bring the story out. They can just as easily play the leak game as anyone else.

No, the really interesting thing about this scandal is watching it unfold and watching the Bush Administration make all the predictable mistakes due to arrogance and denial.

Posted by: Kent Lind on October 4, 2003 12:43 PM

"What a joke ! If she was a deep cover agent maybe she should use another address to contribute to Gore. Sheesh."

Posted by: MIke K on October 4, 2003 09:17 AM

Well, no. She's got a normal life, and a secret life. In the normal life she does normal things; in the secret life, she does secret things.

Posted by: Barry on October 4, 2003 01:51 PM

That's a great strategy. A wrongful termination suit; intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc. . . . Depositions all around. I just have this nagging desire to see Novak in Gitmo until he spews his guts.

Posted by: Cal on October 4, 2003 01:52 PM

Feed him to the trial lawyers, instead.

Posted by: Barry on October 4, 2003 01:54 PM

Great Americans don't prosecute other Great Americans (or National Treasures, for that matter).

It is reality-check time, though. Fun as it is to watch them play Musical Principles, or I'll-tell-you-what-I-think-of-that-as-soon-as-I-read the-party-labels, nothing is going to come of this.

There is no sign that anything is separating the Republican grassroots from Mr. Bush; and even if they turn loose of Mr. Bush, they won't turn loose of their poisonous beliefs, which are the real problem. America will remain riven, poisoned and paralyzed until something compels the average Republican to introspect. And I cannot begin to imagine what so monstrous or appalling an event would compel that.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on October 4, 2003 02:04 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/06WILS.html?ex=1065412800&en=6c0c6b579f13f47b&ei=5070

What I Didn't Find in Africa
By JOSEPH C. WILSON 4th

Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

For 23 years, from 1976 to 1998, I was a career foreign service officer and ambassador. In 1990, as chargé d'affaires in Baghdad, I was the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein. (I was also a forceful advocate for his removal from Kuwait.) After Iraq, I was President George H. W. Bush's ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe; under President Bill Clinton, I helped direct Africa policy for the National Security Council.

It was my experience in Africa that led me to play a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nonconventional weapons programs. Those news stories about that unnamed former envoy who went to Niger? That's me.

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip. The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government....

Posted by: lise on October 4, 2003 02:32 PM

Fatalities

American soldiers 181
British soldiers 18
Coalition soldiers 3
---
202 Since May 2

American 321
British 53
---
374 Since March 20

Wounded

American soldiers ~1724

Note: American forces have fallen to 130,000
British forces have risen to 11,000

Posted by: lise on October 4, 2003 02:33 PM

Mr. Wilhoit says, "There is no sign that anything is separating the Republican grassroots from Mr. Bush; and even if they turn loose of Mr. Bush, they won't turn loose of their poisonous beliefs, which are the real problem. America will remain riven, poisoned and paralyzed until something compels the average Republican to introspect. And I cannot begin to imagine what so monstrous or appalling an event would compel that."

The Great Depression worked wonders. Studs Terkel has a chapter about how the KKK joined forces with African Americans in a Kentucky coal mining town to demand fair wages, and stayed friends after the crisis had passed.

The grass roots is not as bad as the people who rise to leadership. There are many country club Republicans who are Tories, plain and simple: keep the masses in their places is their goal. They wouldn't condone the exposure of an intelligence agent or the "winning" of elections by actual fraud. And then there are the Limbots, the militias, the David Dukes....


Posted by: Charles on October 4, 2003 02:53 PM

Patrick Sullivan: "And, btw, this is incorrect: 'The document establishes that Plame has worked undercover within the past five years. The time frame is one of the standards used in making determinations about whether a disclosure is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.'

"That's not what the law says, here is the relevant part: '(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States' ".

Uh, Patrick, the CIA -- after two months of mulling it over -- has concluded that there is very strong reason to think someone in the White House committed a criminal act. I think we may reasonably assume that they know about this law, and whether the revelation of Ms. Plame's name has violated it. (And I also think we know you're getting decidedly desperate now, and that you're considerably to the right of the Washington Times and the Weekly Standard on this issue.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 4, 2003 02:57 PM

"...The grass roots is not as bad as the people who rise to leadership...."

O yes they are.

You have the stick by the wrong end. You do not see who are the leaders and who are the followers. It is very simple to figure this out: look who's trimming, look who's afraid of going off message and being dropped. It's NOT the rank and file; it's the leaders.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on October 4, 2003 03:27 PM

Frank Wilhoit has a baisc misconception of the realities of power, here. The people afraid of going off message are not afraid of the rank and file, they are afraid of the money men who finance their shenanigans.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on October 4, 2003 04:19 PM

Bush lied! Bush lied!

Who's more insidious? Bush? Rove? Cheney? Libby?

Who's more terrifying? They all scare me!

Geez . . . this comment section is chock-full of lefty self righteousness and backslapping, it's making me sick. Actually, it's quite entertaining.

Well, enjoy it while you can folks, because you're all going to be even more fired up when Bush (read: Rove) makes his way of this thicket less scuffed up than Billy Boy ever could.

All you've got is one anonymous source in the Washington Post. He's too cowardous to reveal himself. None of the journalists who are involved are stand up enough to reveal the potential law breaker. And these leak investigations always go nowhere. Sorry to disappoint you all, but this story is on its last legs.

Iraq is getting better by the week and by election time next year will be purring along nicely. Same with the economy. Can you all say . . . four more years? And with a bodybuilder as the governor of California.

Bush lied!

Posted by: DJ on October 4, 2003 05:20 PM

Do I have to be a lefty to be upset by the outing of CIA agents and front corporations? I've taken several of those two-axis plitical spectrum tests. My average is +.45 on the left/right axis, -.8 on the vertical axis. I'm one of the most centrist guys I know, and I'm pissed as hell about this matter.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on October 4, 2003 05:34 PM

Novak at Gitmo? Wouldn't North Carolina be better? I think they "disappear" you there forever, or are they still making the rules up as they go along? Plus, in Gitmo, he might convert: Can you imagine Novak as jihadist? It would be like the Austin Powers version of Bin Laden.

Posted by: Gabriel Gonzalez on October 4, 2003 05:50 PM

Steven Rogers has a basic misconception of the realities of power, here.

The money buys some of what the politicians do after they gain office. It doesn't buy them office. To gain office, they need money for advertising, but the content of that advertising is decisive.

What they do in office is not the problem. The problem is the promises and threats that they make to gain office. Those promises and threats are not aimed at the "money men"; they are aimed at the voters.

If a Republican office holder were to do everything the "money men" asked of him, but cross the rank-and-file, there is not enough money in the universe to re-elect him.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on October 4, 2003 06:38 PM

I disagree completely. Money does buy them office. You make a valid point that the content of the advertising is decisive, but that content does not necessarily have to be a truthful reflection of the candidates beliefs and intentions to be effective, now does it?

Money can be overwhelmed by popular outrage, but that takes time to develop. If the Republican rank-and-file - which you apparently have a low opinion of - starts to notice the CIA affair (not that the Democratic rank-and-file appears to be doing any better at the moment) then the Adminstration is in big trouble.

The thing is, the people who frequent this blog and others of similar kind, are political junkies. Not very many people are paying serious attention to this matter as of yet.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on October 4, 2003 07:10 PM

"Novak at Gitmo?"

There have been older inmates at Gitmo...

Posted by: Jon H on October 4, 2003 07:37 PM


Now, it looks like Bush & Co. aren't following the curiously sage advice of pitiful Shrubbot apologist Tony Blankley of WT to get this out honestly and behind them. They are on the offensive against Wilson (imnplying that he deserved it, we suppose, for donating to Democrats and not being an Admin shill), and denigrating the idea that Plame was anything but "well known, at least to anyone inside the beltway" to be a mere analyst, etc. This is the pitch put out by talk radio, Andrew Sullivan, etc. (Oddly, Rush said it really was serious - and used the Times as an example of how honorably consistent conservatives are about wrong doing, etc. Well, maybe he was high at the time....)

I am losing more and more respect for this Administration. Bush has surrounded himself with ruthless people, and is taking the low road. He is breaking his campaign promise to be honorable, more and more now. I'm disappointed, because I was really hoping it would be better. But once Bush took on Rove as a strategist, and the others as advisors, it had to go down hill. Did you hear how the audience clapped in the Wilson clip, when he finished his famous "frog-marched" fancy?

Posted by: Neil Bates on October 4, 2003 08:01 PM

What I don't get is why Novak -- or any of his editors -- don't seem to have learned the slightest bit of contrition about this whole affair.

Right: Novak gets the tip off from someone in the administration that Plame is a CIA agent and writes about it. Then, when people say, "you just exposed a deep-cover agent, endangering our national security," he says, "no, she wasn't really an agent! Just an analyst!" Fair enough, so he tries to cover it up. Then, he tries to build the case that she wasn't, and, in doing so, evidently exposes a CIA front firm without doing any actual fact checking to see whether it was real or not! Novak is an experienced journalist who has historically tried to get his facts straight, unless I'm mistaken, yet evidently, he couldn't check to see whether Brewster Jennings & Associates existed. Why, especially considering how much trouble he seems to be in already?

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 4, 2003 09:46 PM

Mr. Butler said the book proposal had erroneously dropped a few words from a quotation attributed to Mr. Schwarzenegger. According to Mr. Butler's reading of the transcript, Mr. Schwarzenegger followed his comments about Hitler's public speaking by adding, "But I didn't admire him for what he did with it." He did not say, "I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it," as he was quoted in the book proposal and in early editions of The Times.

Mr. Butler said he could not explain the inaccuracy. "I am amazed that something like that escaped me."

Mr. Butler also read other sentences of the transcript, spoken in Mr. Schwarzenegger's then-imperfect English, that related to the subject. "Yes, in Germany they used power and authority but it was used in the wrong way," Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to Mr. Butler. "But it was misused on the power. First, it started having, I mean, getting Germany out of the great recession and having everybody jobs and so on and then it was just misused. And they said, let's take this country, and so on." Mr. Schwarzenegger concluded: "That's bad."

but the lofty ethics bores of American journalism apparently have no problem with opening up their front page for anonymous one-sided accusations of ancient improper advances. In that case, did I mention the time Gray Davis grabbed me by the crotch and whispered in my ear: "Have you ever had a man tax you up the wazoo?" Or, if the issue is the violent grabbing of anonymous women, how about this? "He just went into one of his rants of, `F--- the f---ing f---, f---, f---!' He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me until my teeth rattled. I was so stunned I said, `Good God, Gray! Think what you are doing to me!' And he just could not stop." That's a former staffer of Davis, as reported by Jill Stewart in New Times LA in 1997.

Posted by: FGD on October 4, 2003 11:44 PM

Standard spam. Shows up everywhere. Signatures vary.

Posted by: bad Jim on October 5, 2003 02:43 AM

Standard trolls. The point of radical right trolling is to intimidate and offend.

Posted by: lise on October 5, 2003 08:07 AM


Sunday, October 05, 2003

MODO GETS ONE THING RIGHT: "Feminism died in 1998 when Hillary allowed henchlings and Democrats to demonize Monica as an unbalanced stalker, and when Gloria Steinem defended Mr. Clinton against Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones by saying he had merely made clumsy passes, then accepted rejection, so there was no sexual harassment involved. As to his dallying with an emotionally immature 21-year-old, Ms. Steinem noted, 'Welcome sexual behavior is about as relevant to sexual harassment as borrowing a car is to stealing one.' Surely what's good for the Comeback Kid is good for the Terminator." - from her column today. Sorry, Democratic-party-hacks-pretending-to-be-feminists. (That means you, Pollitt, Steinem and Streisand.) One grope and you're ok. Them's your rules. I stand by the distinctions I made yesterday.

Posted by: a on October 5, 2003 10:21 AM

Oct. 16, 2002, was like any other day on the campaign trail for Gray Davis. His schedule included a live interview with Lou Dobbs' "Moneyline," broadcast from UCLA's Anderson School of Management. Students were invited to question Gov. Davis during the 10-minute segment that centered on the governor's business ethics. According to the UCLA student newspaper, the students were generally disappointed by the governor's roundabout and evasive answers.

But when the cameras stopped rolling, a different Gov. Davis emerged for his college hosts, as UCLA student Jonathan Young told me. Davis was surrounded by several inquisitive students and was talking with one of the professors, Ely Dahan. Professor Dahan asked Davis about an article in The Wall Street Journal submitted by Nobel Economics laureate Vernon Smith, in which Smith blamed California's leadership for the state's storied energy crisis.

"The people at The Wall Street Journal are a bunch of f---ing a--holes," Davis angrily responded. "They don't see the world realistically." Longtime followers of the short-tempered governor might not have been shocked by Davis' caustic remark, but undergraduate and business school students surely were. "I don't think Gov. Davis likes The Wall Street Journal in particular," Professor Dahan understatedly commented.

This latest blow-up is no surprise from the California governor, known throughout Sacramento for his fiery temper. The outwardly ice-cold Davis doesn't work well under pressure and has a history of such outbursts. As early as Jan. 16, 1995, the Los Angeles Times noted that the then-prospective gubernatorial candidate had a "short temper."

New Times Los Angeles columnist Jill Stewart penned an expose about Davis in November 1997 in which she described him as an "office batterer." "Long protected by the news media, the baby-faced Davis has been allowed to move higher and higher in public office despite his history of physical violence, unhinged hysteria, and gross profanity," Stewart wrote. "Davis' hurling of phones and ashtrays at quaking government employees and his incidents of personally shoving and shaking horrified workers 'usually while screaming the f-word with more venom than Nixon,' as one former staffer reminds me, bespeak a man who cannot be trusted with power." (Jill Stewart, "Closet Wacko vs. Mega-fibber," New Times Los Angeles, Nov. 27, 1997)

On April 18, 2001, the Sacramento Bee reported that Davis launched into an obscenity-laced tirade before California Senate Republicans, frustrated at his inability to convince them to buy Southern California Edison's transmission lines. Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Simi Valley) told reporters that Davis "completely lost control of himself." "The f-word was prominent and repeated," stated Sen. Robert Morrow (R-Oceanside). (Emily Bazar and Kevin Yamamura, "Grid Deal Session Spurs Davis Tirade," Sacramento Bee, April 18, 2001)

Davis has become especially testy of late. Perhaps his recent frustration is tied to the fact that despite challenger Bill Simon's political blunders, Davis has not been able to pull away in the race.

In March, Davis went into meltdown during an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I saved this friggin' paper," he ranted. "I kept the lights on in this state. Do you understand that? I kept the lights on! I should at least get a round of applause (but) I don't get squat! People just roundly criticize me. This was worse than being in Vietnam. This was an all-out war against me." (Newsmax.com, "Gray Davis in Newspaper Temper Tantrum," March 21, 2002)

On Sept. 19, Sacramento Bee reporters asked Davis if they could see his appointment schedule. "Why don't you go to bed with me?" Davis snarled. "Why don't you move in with me? You're not going to get it. Forget it." (Dan Smith and Ed Fletcher, "Davis: 'No Apologies' for Fund-raising Style," Sacramento Bee, Sept. 20, 2002)

Before the Oct. 7 debate between Davis and Simon, Davis threw a fit when it was suggested by Simon that Green Party candidate Peter Camejo be included. Davis threatened to cancel the debate unless Camejo was barred from even sitting in the audience. (John Wildermuth, Suzanne Herel, "Simon's Guest List Imperils Debate," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 7, 2002)

After Davis' implosion at the Anderson School of Management, I called his campaign spokesman, Gabriel Sanchez, for comment. Sanchez's initial response was confusion. "I'm kind of at a loss here," he said. "It sounds to me that this was a private conversation." Photographs show several students were standing there, listening to the discussion. After struggling for an answer, Sanchez asked if he could call me back with a more complete response.

Five minutes later, he called back. "To be honest," Sanchez said, "I'd be very careful not to use unverified info. That could be slanderous. You weren't there, I wasn't there, you didn't hear it." The implicit threat to sue was obvious.

Posted by: a on October 5, 2003 10:27 AM

Looney radical right trolls are looney radical right trolls are looney radical right trolls.... Woooooooooooo.

Posted by: lise on October 5, 2003 10:46 AM

This is what we're coming to: each party simply finds an elder star with the highest Q rating they can, write a script for the actor to follow, announce a "team" of distinguished business people (who by the way know everything, like betting the farm on beta or running ATT post split) so that the electorate thinks, okay okay those people will really be running the show, the actor is just our figure head, then only agree to one debate in which all questions and answers are canned -- but with exit polls so that before the "debate" is shown on the air, each side can edit and substitute responses.

Posted by: Cal on October 5, 2003 11:35 AM

Yeah, the "radical right" trolls are here to "intimidate and offend."

Are you lefties of such a weak and delicate constitutions as to be intimidated by a message board post?

Here's some really scary stuff for you: Bush. Cheney. Rove. Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz. Iraq. Lower taxes. Neo con. Military dominance. Cruise missle. Smart bomb. U.S.A.

Are you begging me to stop yet?

Posted by: Dj on October 5, 2003 12:41 PM

Well, I keep thinking about 370 soldiers who have died in Iraq, another 1700 wounded, $160 billion spent, and no WMDs and no threat to America, and then there is the growing strain on American soldiers from the need to occupy Iraq.

Posted by: Ari on October 5, 2003 01:58 PM

Yeah, blogged that and more before, Brad.

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 5, 2003 02:08 PM

Well, I keep thinking about 370 soldiers who have died in Iraq, another 1700 wounded, $160 billion spent, and no WMDs and no threat to America, and then there is the growing strain on American soldiers from the need to occupy Iraq.

Posted by: Ari on October 5, 2003 02:12 PM

Mr. Wilhoit thinks the Republican grassroots is responsible for the extremism one sees in the leadership, and does not think that corporate money buys elections. Mr. Rogers disagrees.

I throw my lot in with Mr. Rogers. The extremism we see is part of an orchestrated and very well-financed campaign to stir anger, fear and division. Where there is a free press, or at least remnants thereof as in Britain or America before the Republican "Revolution", the Tories are generally a minority party. It is only when the smog of propaganda is so thick that two-thirds of Americans wrongly believe that Saddam Hussein or Iraqis were involved in the attacks of 9/11 that the Tory party can become a majority party.

Most Republicans are abysmally informed about issues. They tend to be controlled by emotions, dividing the world into Manichean black and white rather than seeing the subtleties. Many have bought into the false ideology of hyper-individualism, where personal merit and not circumstances determines everything. More than a few are hopelessly narcissistic, seeing the world revolving around them (as in the famous question, "who creates jobs?" or the famous one-line, "tax cuts are just giving people back the money that rightfully belongs to them).

But calculatedly wicked, as in leaking the name of an intelligence operative for political revenge? No. The wickedness comes in the campaigns to call people who disagree "traitors" or to call standard New Deal ideas "socialism". These campaigns find resonance with simple-minded, poorly-informed people who can't tell the difference between Stalin and Clinton or who think that welfare pays $40,000 per year. And those campaigns are funded by far right wing forces, determined to impose an authoritarian state on this nation. Some are theocrats, some are corporate statists, some are outright fascists, but all agree that the American people are incapable of governing themselves.

Posted by: Charles on October 5, 2003 02:23 PM

In the middle of a long quote in a long post by a..we found.
*******************
Dahan asked Davis about an article in The Wall Street Journal submitted by Nobel Economics laureate Vernon Smith, in which Smith blamed California's leadership for the state's storied energy crisis.

"The people at The Wall Street Journal are a bunch of f---ing a--holes," Davis angrily responded. "They don't see the world realistically."
***************************

Say ain't that what Brad DeLong says in the next posting

"Allan Meltzer long ago stopped being careful"

Posted by: Josh Halpern on October 5, 2003 02:48 PM

Charles writes: Most Republicans are abysmally informed about issues. They tend to be controlled by emotions, dividing the world into Manichean black and white rather than seeing the subtleties.

I truly doubt that most Democrats/Greens/Libertarians/whatever are any better. Replace the word "Republicans" with the word "people" in that sentance and I agree completely.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on October 5, 2003 03:49 PM

DJ: "Some are theocrats, some are corporate statists, some are outright fascists, but all agree that the American people are incapable of governing themselves."

Please don't let me get in the way of your preening, but many conservatives want to decentralize government power. As you move to the left of the political spectrum, more statist solutions are favored. Think Adam Smith on the right and Karl Marx on the left. This is political science 101. I'm sure you know this though, since you just finished telling us, it's most Republicans who are simple minded. And, narcissistic.

Posted by: Dj on October 5, 2003 04:19 PM

Dj is confusing the conservative ideal with the conservative reality. The ideal is the concept of limited government applied honestly and consistently, not as a front for powerful interest groups. James Kilpatrick was an exemplar of this, and often Buchanan comes close. (George Will is iffy, but has the honesty to have just asked Bush to apologize and clarify re intelligence distortions.) The reality is all the rot that the prior poster mentioned, done for the sake of the power of some non-governmental institutions and persons, like big corporations, the speculators, and so on. (You know damn well, that the tax cuts: way down on capital gains, dividends, etc.) were literally a donor reward program.)

For all the pratling about freedom, this bait and switch operation wants maximum power for itself at the expense of the public interest, and secretly (note Bush's stonewalling on energy, 9/11, war intelligence, his Republican predecessors, etc.) and has little to do with Jeffersonian democracy and all those nice old sentiments. You should hate it the most, for having been used.

Posted by: Neil Bates on October 5, 2003 06:56 PM

"If she was a deep cover agent maybe she should use another address to contribute to Gore."

I've seen this kind of reasoning before, and it's rather silly. Really, you need to think a bit more about what it means to be undercover. Of course you use your cover when you are asked to give the name of your employer when making a campaign contribution (or buy a car, or take out a mortgage, etc.). That's what a cover is for! And using another employer and address for a contribution to Gore would simply create an anomaly that would weaken the cover.

Posted by: rea on October 6, 2003 08:06 AM

"Please don't let me get in the way of your preening, but many conservatives want to decentralize government power."

Just happened to note this - Oh - you mean decentralize all of our defense and security operations, or just do away with Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid??? Duh.

Posted by: Jenn on October 6, 2003 09:42 AM

Steven Rogers says "I truly doubt that most Democrats/Greens/Libertarians/whatever are any better [informed]. Replace the word "Republicans" with the word "people" in that sentance and I agree completely."

There has been a recent study examining the degree to which people are informed. The full report is at http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/Media_10_02_03_Report.pdf

It shows that FOX viewers are substantially more ignorant than the average.

DJ says, with unnecessary incivility, "Please don't let me get in the way of your preening, but many conservatives want to decentralize government power. As you move to the left of the political spectrum, more statist solutions are favored."

That's incorrect. Communism, basically a form of fascism, failed so completely that only two minor nations still practice it. European democratic socialism is hardly a statist solution. Private enterprise is extremely strong; in some cases, such as Italy, it is so strong as to have resulted in a corporate state with the fairly strong smell of fascism. The bulk of the left, worldwide, is concerned about limiting corporate power. Some want to accomplish that by the means advocated by the Founders of this country, namely by using governmental power as a counterbalance. Some of the left wants a more radical solution, namely the dismantling of corporate power.

No, a majority of the statists of this era are on the right. My concern, though, is not with statists but with fascists. At this point, those are essentially ALL on the right.

DJ adds " I'm sure you know this though, since you just finished telling us, it's most Republicans who are simple minded. And, narcissistic."

Thanks for being such a nice fellow in illustrating my point.

Posted by: Charles on October 6, 2003 11:46 AM

Charles, why don't you tell me how I feel? There is the outside chance that not all Democrats are informed and that not all Republicans are uninformed...

Posted by: Stan on October 6, 2003 02:01 PM

Charles, you are wrong. Most countries on the globe are statist. Of the few exceptions, most have roots in UK colonialism. European Social Democracy is very much a statist enterprise.

Posted by: Stan on October 6, 2003 02:29 PM

I prefer the three-fold distinction made by Solidarinosc: state, economy, and society. It is the first two social "subsystems", which are interlocked through the state budget and taxes, each one trying to off-load its burdens onto the other, that thoroughly dominate the third term, society, which is where the public actually lives.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 6, 2003 04:14 PM
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