Thursday, November 24, 2005


The first rule of politics is don't campaign on repulsive things. A majority of people might favor abortion but usually don't vote with killing babies as a high priority. The Dems associating themselves so strongly with this issue alienates many religious people who would never vote Democratic because of it and then have to vote Republican or abstain. Overturning Roe versus Wade neutralises the issue and most women could still get an abortion anyway.

If most women can still get abortions then that is all the Dems should have to do for that base. No politicial party works for rights for all its members, just a substantial proportion of them. So the Dems don't aim for universal health insurance, universal fredom from hunger, universal freedom from spousal abuse, universal freedom from persecution, etc.

Yet the Dems support these things in large part, and the sad truth is this hard line on all abortion all the time prevents the Dems from achieving their other objectives. The Republicans can point to abortion as a reason why religious people should vote for no health insurance, tax cuts for the rich, reduced welfare, etc.

But the Republican also break the DCORT rule (Don't Campaign On Repulsive Things). Cheney advocates concentration camps and torture as a campaign issue and wonders why people don't like him. Now Bush is standing up for White Phosphorous burning the flesh off people without explaining why old fashioned bullets (which are not as repulsive) can't be used.

The Dems are afraid to reduce the deficit because they have to campaign on the repulsive issue of raising taxes.

the right still doesn't get it

Even after all this time they still don't get it. War has evolved to be more and more humane, unless there is a good reason why being humane is dangerous. In fact the same applies to police work.

White Phosphorous is just another weapon like poison gas, bombs with shrapnel, nuclear bombs, anthrax, smallpox, mines, etc that people all over the world are generally repulsed by. So people generally want to ban weapons that would horrify them is they were standing there. It's one thing to be burning the flesh off people and quite another to shoot them. People naturally tend to imagine this as a horrible death because they imagine the flesh melting off their bones or surviving injured in such a thing. In the same way people are horrified by the idea of them having their lungs destroyed by poison gas or anthrax.

So in war people are against weapons that look bad, and White Phosphorous looks bad. There is also no proven case that it saves huge numbers of soldier's lives so people see nothing to counterbalance the horror.

But the right doesn't get this. In the same way POW camps and jails generally are run in a non horrifying way so people aren't repulsed by what goes one there. So few people sympathise with Cheney's death camps or whatever because they find the idea sickening whether it is done by Saddam, Hitler, or anyone else. The idea is simply horrific.

So unless a clear case can be made for why it is necessary people don't want it. So it's pointless trying to say it's not as bad as Auschwitz, or White Phosphorous is not as awful a death as Anthrax because, irrationally or not, people are disgusted by all of these.

So you don't build a political philosphy on horrifying people.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Slimy tactics

"Why do Democrats get a free pass? Why isn’t anyone else entitled to their opinion? Murtha is obviously pressing the Democrats’ attack on President Bush. His past heroism doesn’t make him right when he engages in partisan politics. Are you so naïve as to think he wasn’t picked to deliver the surrender message because of his past military history? Passing on another marine’s opinion is just as relevant as his and just as fair. Liberals like you won’t be happy until President Bush is impeached. You can’t win an election legally, so you resort to slimy tactics in an effort to win. If it takes losing the war and wasting all those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, it is worth it for you. What do you care? You live a privilege life made possible by our military’s sacrifice. And you show your appreciation by stabbing us in the back."

This email from Andrew Sullivan's blog makes some great points. The Dems lost the election but still won't sit down, shut up and let the Republicans exercise their authority from the voters. Any slimy tactics like excessive filibustering, closing the Senate are just trying to govern after having lost the election.

The Dems need to let the Republicans run everything they were elected to do, because it is a given they will screw everything up anyway. Then the Dems can point to this as what happens when right wing extremists are elected. If the Republican don't screw one or two things up then so much the better.

They are right about Murtha, obviously he was selected for this job. But all soldiers are selected for their job. If the anti war case needs to be made, who better than a veteran?

The fact is Bush and Cheney are just flakes. They knew how to start the war but they never knew how to finish it. Since they didn't know they believed Chalabi and planned on making him the new dictator. Now they have no idea what is going on. No one knows whether the new government is a puppet government that will fall like the Vietnamese one when the troops withdraw. Everyone knows it will likely end up a religious state like Iran, which no one would have started a war to accomplish. Therefore the result is a screw up and the war was a waste of money. The intended result (dictatorship under Chalabi) was poorly thought out and hence also a waste of money.

The only reason for a war like this is to get the oil somehow, and they couldn't even manage that. The US should have squeezed Saddam for oil contracts, left him in power, lifted the sanctions, and had permanent weapons inspectors in the country.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Woodward versus Pincus

I wonder about this quote "I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best New York Times reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell."

Who was this CIA agent and how did he know? Presumably he was aware that Fitzgerald had interviewed the SAO about this and that the SAO had alerted Woodward. So how could the CIA know this unless a CIA man was told by the SAO? Or could he have been one of the CIA agents involved in the story already?

Also examining Woodward's previous stories might give an idea on which Senior Administration Officials had been talking to him in the past. For example was there any indication Cheney ever gave stories to Woodward?

Also why would Woodward say this to Pincus in such an off hand manner (while walking past his desk) instead of discussing it like they were both trying to make a story? Usually if one reporter told another about information like this then they would talk more about making a story, otherwise why mention it at all. So this implies Woodward might have been trying to seed the idea with Pincus but not discuss it. This implies Woodward knew not to get involved in talking about this. So this then implies Woodward was wary about spreading this information.

Also the only reason a journalist like Woodward wouldn't try to make a story about this before Novak is because he knew Plame was covert. No other reason makes sense. Therefore the SAO told Woodward Wilson's wife was in fact covert.

Some more questions on this. Woodward's story about talking to Pincus sounds bogus, but so might Pincus's story.

Consider this scenario. Woodward discusses the story with Pincus. Pincus asks Woodward if Wilson's wife is covert. Woodward says No, maybe, or yes. If no, then Pincus and Woodward may have thought it was irrelvant but that doesn't excuse them from reporting it later when it became relevant.

Say Woodward said maybe. Then Pincus might have said it was too risky to write about, or asked Woodward to ask around or ask his SAO. So Pincus decides not to write about it and later is talked to by Fitzgerald. He says nothing about this assuming his conversation with Woodward will never come out and anyway it doesn't matter if he heard it from another reporter.

Then Woodward starts talking and fingers Pincus. Why? Why does Woodward need Pincus to remember a conversation like this? How does that help Woodward? He can't say he passed on the story to Pincus because he must have noticed the story wasn't published. So his work as a journalist wasn't done by talking to Pincus.

It sounds to me Fitzgerald leaned heavily on him as to who he talked to, and for some reason he couldn't tell Pincus about Fitzgerald. Or more likely he talks to Pincus about Fitzgerald and they concoct this ridiculous way Woodward told Pincus between them. This way Pincus can deny hearing the story which stops him being accused of lying to Fitzgerald. It also stops Woodward having to lie about Pincus and rely on Pincus not to rat him out later.

So now Pincus will be talked to by Fitzgerald, and will rely on not hearing Woodward as to why he lied to Fotzgerald earlier or to protect who else he might have told.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

why the Dems shouldn't filibuster Alito

The Alito Schism

"While voters tend to identify themselves as “pro-choice,” by a 57-34 percent majority, they are far from supporting abortion under any circumstances, and strong majorities are quite willing to support the kinds of procedural restrictions that drive pro-choice purists crazy. For example, even a plurality of Democrats (47-45 percent) says that an abortion should be illegal if its sole purpose is to avoid the economic burden of raising a child. And even Democrats are deeply (a slim 51-43 percent majority) ambivalent about allowing an abortion if its sole reason is that the mother “does not want to have a child.”

Democrats (and the rest of the country) strongly support certain hedges around abortion rights: parental consent for teenagers (68 percent “yes” for Democrats, 71 percent in the country as a whole); parental notification (73 and 78 percent respectively); counseling on the dangers of abortion (78 and 81 percent); notification of the husband (64 and 67 percent); 24-hour waiting period (67 and 71)."

Abortion is not popular, so why not allow a few states to outlaw it or at least curtail it in some way? Clearly it is not a topic Democratic supporters regard as their highest priority. Alito might get rid of Roe versus Wade and perhaps that would be good for everyone. The only thing the Democratic Party seems to know how to stand for is killing babies at any point of the pregnancy.

People need to decide whether to ban abortion on their own moral compass, not because of arcane interpretation of words from the Constitution. If someone needs an abortion they can always move to another state.

Also it is clear that pro choice people either don't care enough to vote Democratic, or they believe the Dems will somehow protect them in the minority. Both these attitudes are bad for the Dems and the abortion debate is pushing politics generally too far to the right. If Alito gets rid of abortion then pro choice people will be more like to vote Democratic, which is what the Dems want anyway. They have no obligation to use every trick in the book from the minority in the Senate to defend the rights of people that didn't even vote for them.

Andrew Sullivan

"I actually side with Glenn on this. I never believed that nukes were the main threat. I was much more concerned with anthrax or smallpox. And I didn't get the impression before the war that nukes were at the heart of the Bush argument. I can see now how people who weren't as keen on taking the battle to the enemy as I was could have seized on the nuke issue as the peg on which to hang the war. But that's their perspective, not mine, and, I suspect, not Bush's. This debate is a draw. The bottom line is that the president was wrong and waged a war on the basis of intelligence that was soon disproven. Leave all the mind-reading out of it. The public is responding to those facts. And the facts are not really in dispute. We screwed up in a massive way in front of the whole world. If the invasion had gone well, we would have put it behind us by now. But it hasn't. The key thing now is to do all we can to get a free Iraq in place. We do owe it to the troops not to pull the rug from under them, which is why, despite all my anger at Bush, I still support him as commander-in-chief, and find the Senate vote yesterday repellent. We have no other commander-in-chief for three years. And we must still win."

An interesting post by Andrew Sullivan on his blog, but I think he misses the point. Many countries have had chemical and biological weapons for decades and no one has ever considered them an extreme threat. America was attacked with planes not Smallpox. There was no precedent for anyone to invade a country in case they might have these weapons.

After 9/11 chemical and biological weapons were made out to be far more dangerous than they really are. Let's not forget World War One was largely fought with chemical weapons.

The true danger from terrorists has always been explosives, of which the planes of 9/11 were a variation. No terrorist in recent times has succeeded with anything but explosives, but these can be gotten anywhere, even made out of fertiliser.

So if there was any threat from Iraq it was simply to go to a country, like the UK recently, and Spain a few years ago, and make bombs. One might argue E bombs were a danger too. The problem is it seemed Iraq was the target so whatever weapons they had were made to sound like the bad ones.

So why would terrorists be trying to get a hold of weapons from Saddam when all they needed to do was make bombs in the country they wanted to attack?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

who won the election anyway?

Just one Minute

"What Lieberman doesn't say is that many Democrats would view such an outcome as an advantage. Their focus on 2002 is a way to further undercut President Bush, and Bush's war, without taking the risk of offering an alternative strategy -- to satisfy their withdraw-now constituents without being accountable for a withdraw-now position.

Many of them understand that dwindling public support could force the United States into a self-defeating position, and that defeat in Iraq would be disastrous for the United States as well as for Mahdi and his countrymen. But the taste of political blood as Bush weakens, combined with their embarrassment at having supported the war in the first place, seems to override that understanding"

There is no alternative strategy to offer. The Dems lost the election are not in charge of anything. Why should they have to offer an alternative strategy? No other opposition party in the world has to justify itself from the back benches like this.

At some point closer to the election the Dems will have to come up with an alternate policy. Bush is just trying to blame the passengers in the car he was driving when they ended up lost. Sure those passengers might have mumbled occasionally about reading the map, or even done some back seat driving. There is no indication though that Bush ever listened to them until the wheels fell off anyway.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Monty Python

An image of the sketch about Liberal Rubbish.