Friday, December 12, 2003
Stern Words...from Bob Herbert:
The Dems may indeed sink like the Titanic next year. But I don't think Dr. Dean is the problem — at least, not yet. The problem is the party itself. God and the Republicans have blessed the Democrats with the high ground on one important issue after another, from the war in Iraq to national economic policy to health care to education to the environment.It's all stuff everyone thinks about the Democrats, but the George McClellan analogy is especially apt. At one point, McClellan got so close to Richmond, VA, his army could hear the city's church bells ringing. ("Young Napolean" got within five miles of the Confederate capital in the Seven Days' Battle of early 1862. Circle gets the square!)
I think some of these problems are going to dissipate by the general campaign. For all the bloodied noses, bruised eyes, and talks of non-transferability (first Dean, now Sharpton), the Party will still walk away from the primary with a galvanizing battle cry: Anyone but Bush. The primary campaigns are clearly cornering third base, so an escalation in the rhetoric is to be expected. Still, the Democrats can do without posing for picture-perfect ads for Karl Rove—e.g., 16 arms of the nations' most high-profile Democrats pressed firmly to sides when the question is posed, "Could Dean beat Bush?" (Thanks for that one, Mr. Kopple.) In that situation—you know, on stage, on television, and applying for the same job and what-not—I don't blame them. But after the primaries, that answer—about whomever—should be Of course. And if the Democratic Party has any sense left by that point it will prove it by throwing all sorts of high-profile, highly quotable solidarity bashes. (Mr. McAuliffe—don't mess that up.)
If I sound a little lock-step, well, I think that's one area in which the Democrats could use to learn from the Republican Party. I think that one of the wealths of the Dems is in its diversity of opinions, and I wouldn't trade that for a party of yes-men. The GOP was broad once upon a time, comprised of foreign-policy realists and fiscal hawks and what-have-you, but that range of elements has mostly melded into right and Christian right. We don't want that—but, like conservatives have done well in past elections, liberals must be able to mobilize when it's game time.
Ubiquitous 'get the message out' post for the month.
posted by kriston at 1:01 PM........
Apparently we're all doing this now. No one sent me the memo—I seem to be off that mailing list.
UPDATE: Oookay, now I've figured this out. We're all doing this because we're trying to link the "unelectable" meme to W's resume. That's called a "Google bomb," which you probably already know means that Google will pop up Bush when someone writes "unelectable," as opposed to Dean. See, I suck at the internet, and I'm not just going to see someone do that and figure it out. I need a nudge, an email that says, 'Hey, KC, gotta put up this link, it's a liberal thing. Came down from Atrios.' Well, good—take that, Bush. I'm probably going to be subpoenaed for writing this.
AND ANOTHER THING: While we're on the topic, Matthew Yglesias mentioned a while back that he is now the #1 response from a Google search on "Matthew." Beating out an Apostle is no small feat, but I just want to mention that I have for quite some time now held the capo slot for "Kriston." Those I've defeated include a Singaporian catering service, a ton of Hungarians—for whom Kriston is a popular surname—and a programmer who is likely the only other known American male named Kriston. My more unfortunate friends have yet to best their software-designing doppelgangers...
I want to go back to paper and ink, damnit.
posted by kriston at 11:38 AM........
Good AIMGreat away message from Justin, who's still suffering from that "college" affliction:
burgers and finals. yum and fuck.Don't really miss that feeling at all. Well, except for Casino El Camino's burgers—I'd take an exam right now for a bite of an Amarillo Burger.
I feel kind of retarded writing about away messages, but, well hey fuck you anyway, it's Friday.
posted by kriston at 10:59 AM........
Gouge AwayI don't really have anything to add to this micro-scandal about Halliburton/KBR overcharging the Pentagon for gas in Iraq except to say 1) well, you know, that's what you get when you don't haggle; 2) it's just too funny that gas isn't cheap in Iraq, whose oil was supposed to pay for all reconstruction expenses; and 3) who isn't outraged by gas prices? KBR should know, if you want good gas prices you have to drive out for a ways.
And yes, this is a micro-scandal—not that I'm pleased about the titanic waste of tax dollars. What's objectionable is that the US is in the business of awarding no-bid contracts at all; what will be outright volcanic will be the awarding of billions more in contracts to Halliburton over the heads of the international community and our coalition partners, who are in no position to compete for the bids.
They always nail you with the extra cheese, you know.
posted by kriston at 10:48 AM........
Thursday, December 11, 2003
What I Need Here at G.p Are More High-Ranking Former Executive Appointee Guest BloggersProvocative reading over at Talking Points Memo: A guest blogger, whom Josh Marshall describes as a "former high-level Democratic executive branch appointee," has the following to say about Jim Baker's trip to Old Europe:
Only the naive can think [that Jim Baker's mission] – special part-time job (so conflicts of interest will not need to be disclosed), with plane, staff, and direct report to President – is about renegotiating Iraq’s debt obligations, as if he were restructuring a company’s balance sheet. This company is deep into chapter 7. It loses vast sums of money a day. Its few, severely impaired assets have been spoken for many times over. Its employees are impoverished and barely working. Its political liabilities are burgeoning: indeed it is the principal risk to the parent company’s future. If Iraq could be liquidated, it would be. But instead the proprietors need to abandon it.It's abjectly professional writing and analysis, but trips up majorly—to the point of losing credibility as I see it—near the end:
Elections, in Baker’s experience, are not about fairly casting and counting votes; they are about who gets to rule. If a fair election was an indulgence not appropriate in Florida 2000, certainly Iraqis are not going to be allowed to vote for a freely chosen self-government in 2004. For that matter, we cannot be sure that the United States will have a fair vote count in 2004. You never know what exigencies may arise in a close election. [emphasis added]Conspiracies mongered—all points revoked. All that strong language for naught...
...well, maybe not. The point isn't entirely lost: Take into consideration the fact that 300 of the first 700-man Iraqi battalion just "resigned," which is a Pentagon term for going AWOL. I'm willing to grant a rough start, but five will get you ten that this is the rule rather than the exception as the Pentagon tries to prepare a 40,000-member force by next fall. It's eminently clear that the Bush administration wants out by next year, but it's not obvious in any way how they're going to get out and retain some measure of order in Iraq. It really, really, really won't be Europe cleaning up.
And if the Bush administration leaves knowing they've failed I think they'll have handed the Democrats the election.
posted by kriston at 4:48 PM........
Minority Leader ReportDan over at Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics is running into the usual set of problems with Tom Daschle: While Daschle strikes many people as a liability as Senate Minority Leader, there's no clear-cut resolution about who would be a better fit. The man is facing a tough re-election bid for his seat in South Dakota, which maybe explains some of the shoddier votes he's cast (for the Defense of Marriage Act, for the "partial-birth" abortion ban), his support for the energy bill before it was shelved, and so on. Compromises notwithstanding, Daschle's a lightning rod for liberals who think that the Democrats failed to mount any kind of campaign against a hurried war in Iraq. [Note: I'm more sympathetic on this account than I am on his voting record.]
Dan lists seemingly all of the Democrats and why each wouldn't necessarily do any better than Daschle, proving that there's a real calculus for this consideration, involving number of years served and charisma and so-forth. But John Kerry's name rises above the rest in my mind as a viable suggestion. Maybe it's because I've seen him lots on television lately, but still—while his path to the White House is fading, I think his stock as a Democrat Senator has definitely risen. (Lieberman's, not so much.) I've been impressed with some of the things he's said, and moreover, his seat is safer than Daschle's, and he might be more willing to show a little backbone without having to ask Big Ethanol for permission.
That would be novel.
posted by kriston at 2:34 PM........
Supply and DemandPG makes a salient point about the fundamental problem with immigration law enforcement—that it's directed at stemming supply (border entry) rather than demand (jobs for undocumented workers):
If the Wal-Marts and Tysons weren't hiring, the vast majority of aliens would not have risked death and injury to cross the border to be here; the cost of paying a smuggler would be far greater than the few benefits that accrue to an unemployed immigrant who must hide from the government.I think that a lot of policy knots we argue over could be undone by reframing the question in terms of eliminating demand rather than supply. The McCain-Feingold decision is getting a lot of attention, despite its monumental snooze factor and its 300+ pages of decisions, but critics and supporters are likely to tell you that the act itself simply funnels the funds from politicians' pockets to partisan nonpolitician 527s that spend them for the politician. (It's all inside baseball, but that site makes good sense of it.) While the Supreme Court decision mandates barriers as to which groups can spend on advertising and when—cutting supply—the solution involves cutting out the costs of television airtime so politicians don't need the money in the first place. The absolute best solution would be substituting public funding for private funding in all campaigning, but that's not going to happen, so the next best solution is to subsidize the most expensive campaign elements.
That's me taking PG's point and running with it—she has a lot more in that post on the immigration tip.
posted by kriston at 1:41 PM........
Having Our Cake, Eating It, Denying Anyone Else Any Cake, Then Taking Cake From Them, Plus Eating Pie, Ice Cream, Lemon Tart, Chocolate Fudge...So I remember Bush promising not to get boggled down in any nation-building exercises, but I'm now beginning to see that what he meant was that he wasn't getting tied down by any namby-pamby diplomacy:
President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon excluded those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects.Maybe this is another example of the directionlessness of the Bush White House, but that's almost hard to swallow since the problem is that everyone's ruthlessly pursuing self interest. These guys don't even see that there is another direction—the one that involves compromise to get what you really want over the long run, etc.
Regardless, Matthew Yglesias is just wrong in his opinion that the Pentagon directive is "a method of rewarding our various allies -- notably Japan and the United Kingdom -- who are cooperating with us in Iraq today." I would be impressed if Japan, the UK, and Italy received anything close to $1 billion apiece from the nearly $20 billion purse; the lion's share will go to domestic sweethearts like Halliburton and Bechtel. And the US isn't going to be in a giving mood if Germany, Russia, and France flatly reject our debt-forgiveness proposition. Given that indelicate handling of diplomacy, I'm surprised that Matthew Yglesias has the confidence in the Bush team to grant them a greatly benevolent motive with the Wolfowitz memo. It's not that it doesn't make sense, it's that it does—clearly, the Bush administration doesn't put A and B together before going with C.
C, of course, being to give everyone the finger.
posted by kriston at 8:24 AM........
Science: Its Finest HourThere is, of course, no truth whatsoever to this report, but that's not from want of hope on the part of men everywhere. Were that study correct, well, it would be the greatest contribution that the field of science has contributed to mankind.
At least the best thing since Pasteurization.
posted by kriston at 7:58 AM........
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
The Unreason for the SeasonJust received a curious email, inviting me to take part in "Santarchy," which involves mobs dressing like Santa and raising hell:
During 12 hours last weekend, the Santas hit a half-dozen bars, two strip joints and a sex toys shop. They were chased out of an Internet cafe and accosted by cops. One Santa lost his driver's license and his credit cards while barhopping. Another was punched in the face by an angry man.I'm not much for the flash-mob scene, but the flash-drink, flash-raise-hell, and flash-go-to-strib-clubs-and-entertain-dancers scenes do make the season bright. Still, I swore to myself I wasn't going to end up passed out at the club this xmas....
Anyone got a Santa costume? And, say, $200?
posted by kriston at 6:09 PM........
Unilateralism to the Tune of $18.6 BillionThe international community is rightfully frustrated with the United States' decision to limit opportunities for reconstruction contracts to just those nations that have participated militarily in the reconstruction. That's an important distinction, say, for Canada, which has devoted over $200 million to the US-led effort, but is now blacklisted from the grant.
I am to a degree sympathetic with the US rationale. Since American taxpayer dollars are funding these bids, maybe we ought to reserve the right to lock nations like France out of this lucrative stage. I'd be more permissive of America's pouty attitude if we weren't, simultaneously, so thoroughly in need of international cooperation for successes in the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and the War on Terror. To wit, Brett notes the coalition nations eligible for the bids:
Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan.Though we're all admittedly impressed by Latvia's infrastructure-development firms, I smell a heaping helping of Halliburton contracts.
Realistically, how long will any of these nations be willing or able to continue supplanting Iraq with troops? The US should exhibit some form of diplomacy if we foresee the potential for protracted conflict on the horizon, not to mention that we're trying to massage Russia, France, and Germany into signing their debts owed by Iraq. The global market is a lot bigger than the sandbox that the Bush administration sees it for.
UPDATE: A lively debate on the topic over at Metajournalism. Also, something that Josh Marshall picked up on—some contradictory points from Wolfowitz's directive reveal a confused logic:
5. Every effort must be made to expand international cooperation in Iraq. Since May 2003, Coalition forces other than those from the United States have increased from 14,000 to 23,700. U.S. force levels, accordingly, have decreased by approximately 12,000. Limiting competition for prime contracts will encourage the expansion of international cooperation in Iraq and in future efforts.So the White House not only thinks that it gets to have its cake and eat it too, but that A) taking away cake from the people that have denied us cake will make them want to give us cake, and B) everyone who's already given us cake has been sidin' on us, and will be encouraged to cough up more now. Never really thought of it that way....
The US may yet get its trade war with Europe. Just in time for Christmas.
posted by kriston at 2:33 PM........
They're Only Footnotes, AnywayIt's well known that Britain and the United States do not officially keep tallies of civilians killed in (foreign) wars, so I don't think it's controversial that the US doesn't have an accurate count of Iraqi civilian casualties. But in an awful stroke likely motivated by Bush's political considerations—what else could it be?—the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraq Health Ministry have halted an Iraqi count of Iraqi civilians killed in the war and reconstruction:
The order was relayed by the ministry's director of planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, but the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also wanted the counting to stop, said Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry's statistics department.The report doesn't indicate whether the Health Ministry or the CPA originated the order, but do you think that the Health Ministry has any authority over the CPA? The CPA has an opportunity to clear their name if they didn't issue the order, but the burden of proof is theirs.
Link courtesy of Atrios.
How would this stop-count work? Surely the US doesn't want the Iraqis to cease efforts to determine who the dead are. How this order should be followed is puzzling.
posted by kriston at 1:15 PM........
Nedra Pickler: On the (Democrats') CaseI didn't have to see the debate last night to know this is some shifty reporting. AP writer Nedra Pickler:
Facts got most blurred Tuesday night when the Democrats took on President Bush's record, such as when Sen. John Kerry criticized the administration's environmental policies by telling the story of the Salem, N.H., couple.Right, because, you know, the point Kerry was making is that someone must stop these Denuccios and their abominable hygiene standards. Pickler then goes on to accuse the Democratic candidates—all of them—of lying about the economy by saying it's bad. And after this earth-shaking revelation:
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who studies political rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania, said the debate was filled with hyperbole and exaggeration typical of candidates trying to unseat an incumbent president....well, I think she's proven that we ought to hang the whole lot of them.
While Ms. Pickler's signing her W-2 paperwork with Roger Ailes, I'd like to make the point that in reponse to a question about whether or not George W. Bush misrepresented claims of Iraqi WMDs, Andy Card—the President's chief of staff—said it was "a moot point."
I'm annoyed that I even had to click on this story in the first place.
posted by kriston at 11:06 AM........
Version 2.0Just upgraded the server, so the whole site should be moving a lot faster now. Plus I added "small caps" into the mix.
...Yeah, I didn't upgrade the server. I don't really know what that means.
Not even really sure how I accomplished small caps.
posted by kriston at 10:42 AM........
Don't Ask Don't SellCourtesy of Atrios, from the NYT:
Three retired military officers, two generals and an admiral who have been among the most senior uniformed officers to criticize the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for homosexuals in the military, disclosed on Tuesday that they are gay.I don't think that anyone feels OK with the closet so long as Queer Eye continues to be one of the top-rated shows on television. If America's going to watch gay people entertain at night, might as well learn to live with them during the day.
Incidentally, given all the political attention given to gays as of late, I wish that Wesley Clark could do more with his answer when he's asked about the don't ask/don't tell policy. He's always asked about that, and he always (rightly, I think) says that it's a military concern and they ought to review it and if necessary come up with a better policy. But since gay military figures—generals, even—seem intent on disobeying or ignoring the suggestion, the case for a different solution is evident, and I'd frankly be curious to hear what the General has to say about it.
You never know, he could have them all walk the plank.
posted by kriston at 10:29 AM........
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Not Taking BS from a Guy Named "DBC"David Skinner reviews the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre for the Weekly Standard, and I think that we're in agreement that this novel's trash. Skinner thinks it's trash because it pooh-poohs America. Well, duh. That's what European novelists do, Skinner. The last time a Brit wrote about a topic that wasn't America was back when they all wore powdered wigs and tights. No, not Ziggy Stardust—I mean back when they ruled the world. It's called empire envy.
But I hate DBC Pierre, too, and I haven't even read the book. (I have reason to believe that Skinner hasn't read his copy, either. See, back when a couple of people reviewed Bernard Henri-Levy's Who Killed Daniel Pearl? I noticed that every 'reviewer,' including the Hitch, was quoting entirely from the introduction to the book. I know that because I actually read most of it. I get the impression that someone skimmed over at the WS, too, but mostly because they're conservatives over there.) DBC Pierre, whose initials stand for "Dirty But Clean" and who obviously doesn't remember what he named himself if he thinks he has a right to make fun of anyone, sets the book in Texas and undoubtedly makes us look like assholes. But beyond all that, NPR told me that he "picked up" the Texas accent by watching Jerry Springer. I mean, jeeeeesus. That's garbage.
Look, Europe, if you're reading this—we're quite aware that Texas has put out some A-1 assholes so you can stop inventing them for us. And don't act like before this war stuff you weren't all about Texas, because I know that at least two of your nations bought me drinks just because I hailed from the Lone Star State. What you realized instinctively before Bush—the one who threw everything out of whack, the one who is not, not, not a Texan—was correct: We put out Tom DeLays, but we also put out Tom Landrys, so most of the time we're doing all right. Kind of like how British people are all right so long as they're not smiling. Hey, our basketball teams certainly prove that most of us are a pretty globally inclusive set. And we have the best food on the planet, and if you keep making fun of us, you don't get any.
As for the other part, well, you got what you deserved if you watched that much Jerry Springer.
I still have a TX DL so I think I'm still entitled.
posted by kriston at 6:16 PM........
Dr. Dean and Mr. DeanThere's two Howard Deans: One I like, and one that's Dennis Kucinich in sheep's clothing. The one I like—the one that doesn't bother make me nervous or whatever—is the one I described here. I like Howard Dean when his angry rhetoric good icing for a savvy politician who's aggressively courting the insiders and mobilizing the Democratic Party. Dr. Dean knows how to talk the talk that energizes his base, but at heart advoctates a platform of policies that are more right-leaning than his supporters.
But there's also Mr. Dean—the Dean that the Tough Democrat describes, the one who says of the possibility that Bush was warned about 9/11 by the Saudis that it's an "interesting theory." If it's Mr. Dean that shows up to the general election, he will be annhilated by Karl Rove. I don't think that Dean's base can get much more energized about him, so I think that Dean needs to go about his business ensuring Bush's defeat and leave the conspiracy-mongering to the fringe. It's a bizarre thing to recommend, but maybe Dean ought to keep a tighter lip about some elements of his platform—remember how the other Democratic candidates took him to task when he started talking about enforcing a labor standard for those nations with which the US trades? Mr. Dean at his worst.
Just keep bashing Bush on his bad policies and that will do for now.
posted by kriston at 2:05 PM........
Again, UnbreakableA shocker for sure. I figured that Gore would back Clark, like Mama and Papa Clinton, but you know how these rebellious former VPs can be. &c. offers some notes on what this move says about Gore, who's progressively strayed from the Clinton camp since 2000. It's great news for Dean: Not only is he picking up one of the biggest endorsements the left has to offer, but he's getting a bargain on it—no radical labor platform or ethanol promises. &c. says that Gore's endorsement is bigger in the public eye than it is within the Party, meaning Gore was, for once, a steal:
In fact, that's exactly why it was so savvy for Dean (likely at campaign manager Joe Trippi's suggestion) to start courting Gore as far back as a year ago: To the public, Gore had all the look of an establishment heavyweight; but he'd probably come a lot cheaper than your average establishment heavyweight, since he'd actually been marginalized (or, depending on how you see it, marginalized himself) from the party establishment.Very interesting—Dean's savvy sounds borrowed straight from Chichikov in Dead Souls.
More significant to me than Gore's endorsement, actually, is what I'm beginning to notice in the scope of Dean's radar. E. J. Dionne Jr., from today's WaPo:
Howard Dean's bluntness hasn't failed him yet. His latest coup was word yesterday that Al Gore will endorse him. Dean was characteristically blunt this weekend: "Why can't we talk about jobs, health care and education," Dean said on "Fox News Sunday," "which is what we all have in common, instead of allowing the Republicans to consistently divide us by talking about guns, God, gays, abortion and all this controversial social stuff that we're not going to come to an agreement on?"It's bold enough to try to divert the conservative wedge, but to take on the wedge method itself is—and not sound wonky doing so—is 0some kind of insight, and some kind of gambling. Certainly none of the other candidates are exhibiting those stones.
I'm not changing camps. I still think Wesley Clark is a better candidate and would frankly make for a better president. But I think Howard Dean is unbreakable. There's still a chance for another candidate to show up, but what's significant is that Dean's advances are putting discrete restrictions on the way by which the non-Dean candidate can achieve this. It won't be through unions, through endorsements, or really by contesting Dean at all, but by one candidate taking out all the others and emerging as Dean's contestor of the primaries—which are, if anything, a contest. On that note, Clark did manage, apparently, to out-fundraise Dean this quarter....
Poor Gore. Not the luckiest son of a bitch, eh? Even after winning the popular vote the Party still think he's not worth the time.
posted by kriston at 12:14 PM........
New Frontiers in SpamToday in the junk box:
Here I thought Paris with those midgets was something.
posted by kriston at 11:30 AM........
Monday, December 08, 2003
Getting Something Out of Bush, AnywaySmart people are considering Andy Card's explanation for the steel tariff retraction from a Humean context, which is all well and good, but I'm with Amy Sullivan—did you guys catch what Card actually said?
"When you go there today, and you see some of the mass graves of the dead, where he murdered his own people, you just can't help but think that we are much better off," Card said on CNN's "Late Edition." "So I think it's a moot point. The good news is Saddam is no longer a threat to his own people."That "moot point" would refer to a question about whether or not Bush misled American citizenry with faulty intelligence. Hey, so long as Saddam's intentions were bad, we're satisfied.
My guess is that both Marc and Matthew Yglesias are so fed up with the Bush administration that it's ultimately more productive to take their bullshit—such as when Card says that Bush's decision to eliminate the steel tariff had nothing to do with the European/Japanese threat of a trade war—and at least wax it for a little philosophical debate. I'd like to note that I'm still awaiting some news that will allow me to apply four years of study of post-Renaissance art history. So far all that's come down the pipe was John Ashcroft putting an $8,000 bra on Miss Spirit, and by contemporary critical standards I've concluded that was stupid.
I mean, really, Bush spent 15 minutes in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. He could've at least wise-cracked about Imperial art or something.
posted by kriston at 4:00 PM........
The Bush MethodCourtesy of Noreen, a gem from the "No Child Left Behind" program—schools across the nation have been deemed "failing" because of poor showing by special-ed students:
Across the country this year, thousands of schools were deemed "failing" because of the test performance of special ed students.What's arguably sadder is that this is not an oversight, but programmed into Bush's education policy. Enough to make you cringe:
The government is defending the special education portion of the law, though officials said some changes are in the works that would give more leeway to the most seriously disabled children and their teachers.Sound like the nuanced words of an experienced educator? Blaming learning or mental disabilities on kindergarten teachers? Lordy, give me a break. And listen to a teacher if you want sound policy advice:
[Special education teacher Michelle Harper] said she measures her students' progress not by their performance on standardized tests but by how they are doing on plans tailored to each youngster. For many of them, the realistic goal is not to work at grade level but to gain as much self-sufficiency as possible, she said.That sounds both complex and appropriate—after all, "special education" is not prescriptive but rather designate a distinction to a range of students. A complex program for students, of course, doesn't jibe with Bush's goal in education. I hate to turn such a thorny issue as education into a political weapon, since really, it's hard to imagine what president could cut the muster given the political landscape surrounding our schools. But Bush's policy is so thoroughly not tailored for the needs of our schools, and the mandate so thoroughly unfunded, that NCLB starts to resemble so many of his other policies: Ringing advertisements for his re-election campaign. It's not about Republican or Democrat or even vouchers, but policy pared down to its most politically expedient form.
There's probably a sentence or so that I failed to quote from that article, so there's more to read through the link.
posted by kriston at 3:24 PM........
"Red, Yellow, Orange, and Hot Orange"Newt Gingrich is flopping around like a newt out of, I don't know, mud? Yet he's still flinging it: On yesterday's Meet the Press, Gingrich roared that the Bush administration has "gone off a cliff" with regards to post-war Iraq. (I didn't see MtP but I noticed that on This Week with George Stephanoupaonpouolous, Hillary Clinton was basically in total agreement with Newt, which, if I recall correctly, signals the opening of the Fifth Seal of the Tribulations.)
But back in April Gingrich bellowed a different bluster. At that time he blamed everyone but Bush—specifically Powell and the State Department—for the 'botched diplomacy' leading up to the war and reconstruction efforts. That criticism doesn't fly anymore, since nothing about Iraq went the State's way but a toothless, ex post facto UN resolution. Maybe what Gingrich means to say is that he was previously wrong about his criticisms of State, and that (as Tim Russert notes) this whole operation has been fumbled by Defense. Since he initially declared that the State should be submitted to Congressional review, maybe he'd like to extend that penumbra to Rumsfeld's office?
Or maybe Newt Gingrich just full of shit. As Josh Marshall said of Newt Gingrich back in April:
Ever since that whole elective office gig didn't pan out, Gingrich has been casting around for a new angle. And this would seem to be it. Gingrich's rhetorical palette remains about the same as ever: red, yellow, orange and hot orange.Newt doesn't have a clue, and that's transparently obvious if you read the transcript from his interview. Why won't he just disappear?
And his criticism of Bush is no help to Democrats. There's about 4 people in the US who still care what Gingrich thinks.
posted by kriston at 11:13 AM........
Come Clean Nicky NickMore on the fall-out from Bob Novak's column indicting House Republicans of bribery on the floor. Tough to be a lock-step Republican when you've been telling everyone how badly they treat you. If Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI) is telling the world that no one bribed him, what changed? He wrote in no uncertain terms about Republican misconduct on his House site
The House passed a deeply flawed Medicare prescription drug bill by a vote of 220-215 at 6:00am, November 22. Votes in the House usually last 15 minutes plus a traditional two minute cushion. But because the leadership did not have the votes to prevail, this vote was held open for a record two-hours-and-51-minutes as bribes and special deals were offered to convince members to vote yes.It's not a direct accusation, but it's not exactly light fare for a representative's update. Typically at this time of year, those topics that might run would be, "we just bought a Christmas tree," "our puppy is adorable, just like ethanol" and "Goddamnit if I don't love those troops so much." They save the "in my hands I hold a list" posts for the beginning of the session.
There's a couple of things that might have happened here: Nick Smith lied, in order to, I don't know, smear his own name I guess. Republicans, possibly including House Speaker Hastert, did try to bribe Smith and are now pressuring him to back off. Whichever way, it's another episode of Republicans Behaving Badly and if John Ashcroft didn't have his hands full with the nation's statue-boobs I couldn't imagine a reason why he's not pursuing this.
A couple of links courtesy of Charles Kuffner.
And there's lots of nude boobs out there, folks. The man's on a mission.
posted by kriston at 10:13 AM........
Ten Big Ones for G.pNearly forgot that just recently we witnessed our 10,000th visitor to G.p. Thanks for stopping by.
Even if you were looking for porn or something.
posted by kriston at 9:49 AM........
Putin Sweeps DumaPutin's popular showing in the Duma elections, which saw a landslide victory for United Russia (that would be the pro-Putin party), may have adverse effects for Putin's administration. Putin now has the majority he needs to amend the constitution to allow for a third term after 2008, and that step won't go over well with the Western investment Putin once courted. Considering that he's wiping out independent media and recruiting heavily among former Soviet KGB elements, well, he'd better hope that the global oil market is steadfast for a while. From what I understand oil sales are keeping Russia fiscally solvent.
Gone from the scene for now are the Communist Party (which is sort of a catch-all for dissenting elements—United Russia is a more statist party) and the two pro-Western parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces. A scary reminder of the DLC/DNC/Green divides that do more for the Republican Party than their campaigning does sometimes. What's really eery is that Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an absolute nut—think maybe Lyndon LaRouche here—managed to double the votes his party received in 1999 by running on a platform rooted in nationalist rhetoric.
While I was in Russia I got the distinct impression that a lot of Russians have a JFK-like adoration for Putin.
posted by kriston at 9:47 AM........