Sunday, July 31, 2005

"When They Knew"

A Time Magazine piece indicates that the administration may have been fully aware of the identity of Former Ambassador Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame.
As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.
"After Pincus," a former intelligence officer says, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" about Wilson's trip and its origins.
As more and more information comes out from those who dealt with the administration and the intelligence regarding the lead-up to the Iraq War, the harder it becomes for the administration and its defenders to brush this incident under the table.

Accusations that these are merely attempts by administration critics to politicize the Iraq intelligence in order to attack the President ignore the fact that questionable on knowingly false information (the infamous 16 words) was used to weave the political argument for the Iraq invasion.

- Murphy

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Conceding the economic ground

Mark Schmitt wrote an article reviewing Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-Penn) new book, It Takes a Family. In it Santorum argues that the family is the core of society and that everything must be done to support it or society is doomed.

The family that Santorum refers to is what he calls the "natural family"; mom, dad and the kids. Other potentially viable variations on this arrangement (single-parent, gay couples) are incompatible with a successful society.

The Senator's opposition to families led by gay couples is unsurprising. Santorum famously stated that gay marriage would eventually lead to human-animal partnerships listed in the New York Times' wedding listings. However, his opposition to families led by single mom's is surprising. His criticism is that children need a father's influence and the large numbers of fatherless families have a negative influence on society. It's a criticism that neglects the fact that not all single-parent families are that way by choice.

Schmitt's review of the book hits on a theme that has become more and more obvious as more people stop to look at the ideas conservatives are trying to sell people on. It's an extension of the liberal ideas encapsulated in the trappings of conservative tough-mindedness.

It doesn't always translate, as Schmitt points out. In order to disguise the fact that many Republican politicians are conceding the inherent popularity of liberal economic programs, they must go a little further in reinforcing their conservative credentials to prove they are not also buying into liberal social ideas. What Schmitt calls,
"a mean-spirited, intolerant liberalism."

As Rick Perstein pointed out in a recent speech, the Republicans are deathly afraid that Democrats will return to their economic populist roots. Perlstein quoted Bill Kristol:
Health care is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative . . . the plan should not be amended; it should be erased. . . . It will revive the reputation of the . . . Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests.

As some Democrats move towards the Republicans on social issues, they miss the fact that the Republicans are moving in their direction on economic issues and while using social issues as cover. Santorum is just one example.

- Murphy

Really representing working people

Over at BTC News, Weldon Berger describes why the recent departure of the SEIU and the Teamsters is not the tragedy AFL-CIO President John Sweeny would like people to believe.

Certainly it reflects the continuing troubles unions face in the United States, family fights are something no one wants to see in the morning papers. However, the split reflects, as Berger points out, the fact that the Unions can stay cozy with politicians, but as SEIU President Andy Stern said, "politicians don't sign up new members: unions do."

- Murphy

A swift kick in the...

Rick Perlstein delivered a speech to some big-time Democrats recently on what the Democrats need to do to put the party back on top. Perlstein writes for the Village Voice and has spent some serious effort studying the Republican party and its history. The Voice printed his speech.

Perlstein's main focus in one the fact that the Republicans have spent decades trying to distract the American voters from the base message upon which the Democratic Party is based.
It's simple. Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: "Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream."

Here's a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers.

Here's Bill Kristol, in a famous 1993 memo I'm sure you're all familiar with: "Health care is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative . . . the plan should not be amended; it should be erased. . . . It will revive the reputation of the . . . Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."
The entire piece is enlightening. It's also something Democratic politicians have been circling around in their rather short-sighted efforts to simply be Republican light. Democrats who do stand up, win.

Oddly enough, Perlstein might have also pointed out that the Republicans have also lost their essential concept of limited government in their efforts to be not-Democrats even as they repackage Democrat ideas in Republican language.

- Murphy

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Judge takes a stand.

The Daily Kos makes an excellent catch regarding the sentencing of the man who was caught trying to cross the U.S./Canada border with materials and plans to detonate a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport. The man, and Algerian, Ahmed Rassan, was sentenced to 22 years.

The most interesting part is the statement of the judge at the conclusion of the trial:
The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is twofold:

First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel. {emphasis switzer's}

The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess.
It is important to remind ourselves that during this entire post-9/11 period, the increased police powers and the questionable methods in dealing with terrorist suspects, the judicial system in this country has reacted not with excitement, but with concern over potential abuses of power.

The objections come not only from groups like the ACLU, but for the military's Judge Advocate General and respected jurists and lawyers. The administration is often operating in grey legal areas. Grey areas may work in the favor of a lawyer or their client, but the legal establishment does not care for grey.

In an institution based heavily on precedence and common, agreed-upon frameworks, ambivalence can pose serious threats. Equal treatment under the law is a Constitutional imperative, ambivalence and irregular rulings undermine that right.

- Murphy

Ba dum bum...

The press releases from City Hall are beginning lean increasingly towards self-parody..
For example, "Rainford Agrees with the newspaper today."

- Murphy

Monday, July 25, 2005

Atheist Summer Camp

ABC News has a report on a summer camp that was set up to cater to the children of atheist, agnostic, or merely secular families.

One issue they address in the television report that isn't in the web version is the hostility directed towards those who are up-front about their lack of adherence to a faith (although atheism could be defined as a theology).

In a country in which a declaration of belief is almost a mandatory requirement to hold any elected position above the level of alderman, the exposure of the growing hostility directed towards those who don't support the intimate commingling of faith and public life is needed.

For a nation founded on a tolerance of different ideas about faith, and a nation whose major religion's dominant theme also revolves around loving your neighbor despite your differences, the growing hostility from those on the Christian right is disturbing.

- Murphy

Armstrong not a true Athlete?

One of the commentators on KSDK's Sports Plus said that he didn't believe that Lance Armstrong was a real athlete, just a good cyclist. He rambled on about one qualification is that you have to be able to do more than sport and that he could probably take Armstrong in a game of one-on-one.

He cited Michael Jordan as an athlete, rightly so, but qualified it by pointing out that Jordan played baseball in addition to basketball. Anyone who remembers Jordan's short-lived baseball career will realize that this gentleman simply doesn't like cyclists.

I am not a cycling fan, but anyone who spends any time watching Armstrong race will see that he is indeed a superb athlete and a world-class competitor. For seven years the best people in his chosen field have been trying to beat him and every time they get close, he finds another gear and takes off. It's like watching Albert Pujols in a clutch situation.

How this gentleman became a sports analyst is beyond me.

If anyone knows his name, please post it in the comments. I only caught the end of the show and they didn't mention the guests names at the closing.

- Murphy

Sunday, July 24, 2005

4th District

The political eye levels its gaze on the 4th Senate District. However, its conclusion is the same as everyone else's, its totally in the air until the all the field shakes out and we know who is in for sure. Even then its going to be a messy, divisive election.

- Murphy

Thursday, July 21, 2005


All material is paraphrased.

On Supreme Court Appointment
Amy White: "[Roberts] is a grand slam"

Alvin Reed: He's a friend of the administration. He has a very short record.

White: A short record is better, that way you don't have Senator Kennedy with days worth of questions; how do you see this issue, how do you see that issue.

Charlie Brennan: I think it's good that people have lots of information.

Martin Dugan: The President of the United States' decision should be respected.

Brennan: It’s not only the President’s country

The Blunt, Pro-Life Split
Bill McClellan: Blunt openly supported stem-cell research during his campaign.

White: Blunt cut a deal with the Pro-Life community that he wouldn’t block anti-stem cell research legislation

McClellan: It's on [the pro-life groups] if they had a secret deal. Blunt did not hide his support for stem-cell research.

Reed: It was business as usual. Blunt was pro-life until it the business interests stepped in. It was a dollar and sense decision. He didn't hide the fact that he was pro-research.

White: Between the business interests and traditional pro-life supporters, business won.

Brennan: The pro-life politicians always pick around the edges, why don't they go big if they are really serious.

Dugan: Roe v. Wade says the state officials can’t make it illegal.

Reed: [If Roe were defeated]There are people who feel strongly enough that they would relocate over this issue. We want the smartest and the brightest. The smartest and the brightest would avoid a state that takes the step to make abortion illegal. Not necessarily for their support of abortion, but because of the intrusiveness of anti-abortion law.

White: You are saying that its not the brightest and the smartest who would look at an ultrasound and decide to keep the child?

On Amy White’s Column on the Lucas Park Homeless
Reed: A few thousand homeless people are not going to derail progress, I don't buy it.

McClellan: The child care center and the homless in Lucas Park have coexisted for years.

Brennan: We need to build a place for the homeless to be taken care of. I;m the only one on this panel advocating for the homeless. Others are arguing to maintain the status quo.

White: The Slay administration is trying to find a way to address the issue. They are working to find a solution.

Teamsters’ Strike
Brennan: St. Louisans don't always root for the little guy. St. Louisans tend to like the establishment.

McClellan & Reed: Many St. Louisans don’t support the Teamsters because the don’t see them as the little guy.

McClellan: This is not about the striking workers wanting more, but keeping what they have. There may be a thousand people lining up for this job, but it is not about finding the lowest level people will work for.

- Murphy

Good soldier Shimkus

Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) continues the Republican cover story that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent. He was on The Charile Brennan Show on KMOX radio this morning talking to Charlie and talking some calls from constituents.

When asked about the Rove controversy Shimkus said that at the heart is whether Plame was a covert agent at the time. Shimkus said that, "no one has said she was."

The CIA obviously took the matter of Plame being identified as an operative serious enough to ask for an investigation. The Justice Department has obviously determined there is enough evidence of a crime that they are willing to jail reporters in order to get their indictment. A State Department memo to Colin Powell and potentially circulated on Air Force One indicated that the information that Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame worked for the CIA was listed as secret.

If that is not enough evidence that she was operating under cover, I don't know what it would take to convince someone.

- Murphy


The Columbia Journalism Review's Echo Chamber has a biting take on the the Tuesday's rumor-mongering about possible Supreme Court nominee, Judge Edith Clement (5th Circuit). I will admit I talked about her myself. My girlfriend and I speculated about her and others, but If someone had pinned me down, however, I would have gone with either Roberts or Judge J. Michael Luttig. It wasn't my original thinking, but I would have put some money on them after reading a profile of Roberts and Luttig in theWashington Post. In the end we agreed to instead go watch baseball over some beer and greek food. Like most people we knew we'd find out in a few hours anyhow so why worry.

The Echo Chamber piece is a dead-on description of the flailing about the major news outlets engage in when they don't have flashy news spoon-fed to them.

Considering the enormous resources any one of these news-gathering organizations have, how can they not pack every minute of the day with well-researched, in-depth stories about the world we live in?

There are undergraduate students who write papers overnight with more meat to them than the limp, incomplete pap that is thrown at the viewers.

There are hundreds if not thousands of journalism students out there who would spend 12 hour days doing the legwork, interviews and research, if they could just get a crack at it. Instead you have the bobbleheads pontificating and speculating about stories they are too lazy to familiarize themselves with.

Many people have little time in the day to spend digging through various newspapers and magazines to get an in-depth grasp of a subject. They often rely on the television news media to get them up to speed. Instead they have this echo chamber bouncing half-thoughts off each other to see which one makes them seem the smartest.

They seem surprised when over 50% of the American people believe that Saddam and Al-Qaeda were in league together after they spent months allowing the administration to make the unchecked allusion (if not the outright assertion) that they collaborated to attack the World Trade Center. They then allow the administration to come out and state, "we never said there was a link," even though they had clearly given that impression to the American people.

If the cable news channels were held to the standards that a good journalism class is held to, they would fail.

Speculation and rumor fuel the cycle with not a research staff in sight. If they would even bring on an expert or two that didn't make their living appearing on television as "expert" they would improve greatly. Everyone knows you get better information from the the beat cop than you do the Chief.

Critics accuse PBS and NPR of being "liberal" news outlets. While I disagree (as do the two, two, conservative ombudsmen brought in to ferret out the "liberal" agenda at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds both PBS and NPR. Their study found no bias, simply excellent reporting) they are entitled to their opinion. However, they do pack hour after hour with excellent reporting that communicates the essential meat of the story to the listener/viewer in a way that is engaging and not condescending ways. They can handle the top news of the day as well as longer, more in-depth pieces that require a more thoughtful examination. PBS and NPR are not without their own problems, and often succumb to the easy spoon fed story, but taken as a whole, it is far and above other major media outlets.

Until the major media start focusing on the news and stop trying to simply get the headline out before the other guys, the public will continue to only get half the story.

- Murphy

London Redux?

The BBC is reporting that minor blasts have caused the evacuation of the London subway. There may also be an incident involving a bus as well. No hospitals are reporting any casualties however.

A BBC correspondent is saying that the incident involved dummy bombs made of blasting caps. Blasting caps can be dangerous, but are not very powerful. They are used to trigger other explosives.

- Murphy

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stealth for whom?

While President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States, John Roberts, is certainly going to receive a lot of attention for his anti-Roe v. Wade writings, it's important to remember that while the social issues can help get supporters out of bed in the morning, it is the business interests that pay the bills.
Roberts no stranger to business cases
Supreme Court pick has won major cases for Toyota, Fox

By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
Last Update: 3:00 PM ET July 20, 2005  

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - In selecting John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, President Bush appears to have found a candidate that will please business interests.

"He has an understanding of the impact of regulation and litigation on businesses," said Glenn Lammi, chief counsel of the legal studies division at the Washington Legal Foundation, a conservative group. "He has a limited-government view of things."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said Roberts is "well respected by the legal and business communities." Still, the Chamber, a powerful business group, will investigate Roberts's background.

- Murphy

Advise and consent

Lindsay Beyerstein, who is sitting in for Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly, is exactly on point when she punctures the essential Republican argument over confirmation hearings; Supreme Court appointee or any other:
The Republicans are trying to convince the public that the president has the right to have his nominees confirmed. That's absolutely ridiculous. Regardless of what you think about the judicial filibuster, the fact remains that every senator is responsible for evaluating and critiquing the nominees (adivsing) and approving only those she deems worthy (consenting). Consent implies the choice between assent and dissent. You can't exercise consent when "consent" is your only option.
The President is not the regent. For all the talk of the importance of the Legislature as the representative of the people, when it comes to Presidential decisions the Republicans are quick to cite some super-status that provides the President with some ultimate right to operate that supersedes the system of checks and balances as created by the founders of the American government.

Extreme circumstances do not have to exist for the people's representatives to speak out against a Presidential decision.

- Murphy

Our Boy Blunt (the senior)

Perhaps the finest quote to come from the former intelligence officers' letter came from Missouri's own Representative Roy Blunt (Mo-7).
House majority whip Roy Blunt (R, Mo), on Face the Nation, July 17, 2005, “It certainly wouldn't be the first time that the CIA might have been overzealous in sort of maintaining the kind of topsecret definition on things longer than they needed to. You know, this was a job that the ambassador's wife had that she went to every day. It was a desk job. I think many people in Washington understood that her employment was at the CIA, and she went to that office every day.”
Rep. Blunt believes that the Central Intelligence Agency might take secrecy too seriously.

What Blunt may be missing here is that an agent who worked at all in the field becomes part of a larger web. Once you start to tease out where different strands lead, you can begin to piece together the entire picture. Sometimes the details aren't even as important as simply knowing the relationship between to pieces of information.

A good investigative reporter or historian could tell you how important seemingly small details can be to fleshing out the entire subject.

The leaker, blinded by a desire to score points, fails to appreciate that while Ms. Plame may not be a critical individual, or in personal danger due to the disclosure, her relationship with others and the false-front operations that she may have interacted with may place other agents or potential operations at risk.

Republican spokespeople may try and spin Blunt's statement to say that he was referring more directly to the fact that the government does in-fact classify enormous amounts of material that doesn't require it for reasons ranging from politics to (more often) inertia. Just ask Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy. Afterood has spent years fighting a lonely and mind-numbingly bureaucratic fight to reduce the unecessary secrecy.

However, Aftergood is after the more prosaic classified material; Congressional Research Service reports and the like. It is unlikely that he, nor anyone who knows even a cursory amount about the intelligence services, would ever argue that naming agents is appropriate policy.

In his book Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Evesdropping, author Patrick Radden Keith describes in detail the difficulty in obtaining some information (e.. names, locations) that had been held secret for decades. The most often stated reason is that the information could still be relevant. Sometimes it is difficult to know what will provide the final piece in someone's puzzle. More often it is better to not take the chance.

The information could have potential political fallout as well. Not all fallout comes in the form of threats of force.

Some classified information ought not to be classified, but there is much that should.

For a Congressman of the United States to go and national television and say that the CIA takes secrecy too seriously in order to provide political cover is beyond belief. The CIA regularly puts men and women in potentially life-threatening situations. More importantly, leaked information may lead to a failure to collect the very information the intelligence community needs.

Rep. Blunt demonstrates just how far the Republican Party and the Bush Administration are willing to go to ensure they can score political points, no matter how petty. No subject is above crass politicization, not even national security.

- Murphy

Former agents denounce Plame leak

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a copy of the letter sent by 11 former intelligence agents to the Democrat and Republican leadership. It's a quick read and is a straightforward denunciation of treating national security and covert status as a trivial matter and using the lives and reputations of agents to score political points.

- Murphy

Monday, July 18, 2005


Expect an ugly tussle for the 4th Missouri Senate District seat. Sen. Pat Dougherty is being term-limited out and there are plenty of willing replacements.

Jeff Smith, Rep. Rachel Storch (64th), Rep. Amber Boykins (60th), Rep. Yaphett S. El-Amin (57th) and Rep. Fred Kratky (65th) are all potential candidates. Several have already filed, but not all.

Progressives are concerned that Smith and Storch could split the vote and allow not-so-progressive Kratky in. There is also concern that Boykins and El-Amin could fracture the African-American vote. The combination of so many potential conflicts leaves the whole mess up in the air until they work it out amongst themselves.

Smith and Storch have reportedly already had a contentious meeting that settled nothing.

Of those two, the feeling may be that progressives would almost prefer Smith over Storch. Nothing against Storch, but with progressives in the Missouri House finding it hard to put together enough people for a softball team, it is important to that progressives maintain a presence. If Storch gives up her seat, there is no guarantee a similarly progressive person would take it over.

Storch must also overcome a promise she made to her constituents that she was not simply looking at the seat as a step on the political ladder. She may be able to argue that she is still serving her constituents, just as a Senator and not a Rep, but some may harbor some doubts about her. Everyone knew that Douherty was out after this term, so if she had been mulling a run for the Senate then she may have a hard time with her constituents. They will undoubtedly make her work for each and every vote.

Boykins and El-Amin may be working on some form of a deal. Until Dougherty was appointed to take over the 4th Senate seat after Rep. Lacy Clay moved up to the U.S. House 1st Congressional District, it was filled by and African-American for many years. Undoubtedly there are leaders in the African-American community who would like to see it return.

This potential squabble coming on the heels of a 10 person primary to succeed Rep. Richard Gephardt in the 3rd Congressional District could potentially leave some longing for the old days of machine politics. Back in the day, the machine decided who, what, when and where.

While it may have kept this type of conflict out of the papers, it also kept out the people and ideas that challenged the status quo.

St. Louis still maintains a machine-style system, but its heyday is long past. A return to such tactics is unwelcome, but so are public intra-party fights.

The resolution of this situation may well demonstrate whether the party members will be able to play well together and work for common cause, or if ambition will rule the day.

- Murphy

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A fine way to spend a day

The Royale is officially open!

Located on Kingshighway one block south of Arsenal.

Kick back and relax with a cold drink, play some washers in the expansive patio or, now that the kitchen is open, grab a bite to eat.

Drop by after 5 p.m.

- Murphy

Update: Fixed the spelling on Royale...that's Royale with an E! Sorry Steve - Murphy

Wider net?

Investigators are looking at Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. His name was tossed around two years ago when the story first cleared the surface as the potential source. Given the prominence the Vice President's office plays in making major decisions, it isn't exactly a surprise.

Cheney's office raised the questions that spurred the CIA to send former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson, to Iraq. Cheney did not order Wilson's trip, but the desire to answer some questions about potential deals between Iraq and Niger led the CIA to send Wilson.

Republicans have tried to provide some political cover for Rove by claiming Rove was trying to warn Time Magazine reporter, Matthew Cooper, away from reporting that Cheney ordered the trip. They claim Wilson said Cheney sent him even though neither Wilson's op-ed nor any of his interviews mention it.

- Murphy

Clutter Buster

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo cuts right through the clutter and nails the central point of the Plame investigation.
There's a point that's probably worth raising with our scofflaw Republican friends. All of their arguments now amount to excuses, like those of a small child caught stealing cookies:

The point is that they're irrelevant. It's the mid-life version of 'He hit me first!' or 'He called me a name!' or other such foolery.

No presidential advisor should ever disclose the identity of a covert agent at the CIA. That doesn't require elaboration.
Read the whole piece, its perfect.

- Murphy

Lost Time....

I'm going to try and make up for some lost time tonight and hit on some topics that have been on my mind these past, postless days.

- Murphy

Friday, July 15, 2005

Talking the talk

Many conservatives laud President Bush as following in the footsteps of great conservatives before him, most notably, Ronald Reagan. Yet evidence continues to crop up that sheds light upon Bush's less than pure conservative policies.

The definition of conservatism has found itself in flux in recent years. Bush's adoption of "compassionate conservatism" and former President Clinton's conservative policy decision have muddied the water. However, one tenet of modern conservatism is the belief that business should be deregulated to allow market forces greater influence over the industry.

To that end, a recent study shows that under Bush's watch the economy has seen regulation grow at a greater rate than it has since the 1970's. Post-Dispatch business columnist, Dave Nicklaus, gives the rundown of the recent study.
The Weidenbaum Center has been tracking regulatory spending since the 1970s ... During that decade, regulatory spending grew nearly 9 percent a year in real terms.

That growth shrank to 2.2 percent in the 1980s before rising to 4.2 percent in the 1990s. Interestingly enough, the biggest regulatory ramp-up during that period happened under Bush's father, from 1989 to 1993. Ronald Reagan cut spending during his first term, and Bill Clinton presided over a relatively modest increase of 3.2 percent a year.

Since 2000, regulatory spending has grown at a 6.5 percent annual rate. To be fair to President Bush, the biggest increase has been in the Department of Homeland Security, which had to respond to a new and unanticipated threat after Sept. 11, 2001. Some people also would say that large budget boosts for the Securities and Exchange Commission were a necessary response to a different kind of threat that became apparent after Enron and WorldCom.
Nicklaus is correct that a great deal of the budget increases in the past 5 years have been in the defense arena, but the Department of Homeland Security doesn't qualify as a regulatory agency the way the FEC does.

While the argument that FEC regulation is not hard to make (the fallout from the criminal accounting practices of numerous companies provides millions of pieces of evidence) the conservative belief is that it should be left to the markets to sort out the problems. It is often argued that the stock collapse of the involved companies demonstrates that the market is working, despite the Econ 101 lesson that asymmetrical information (such as deceptive accounting practices) constitutes a market failure.

While the right will continue to tout Bush as a conservative icon, these and countless other examples demonstrate a willingness to ignore the truth to serve an idea.

- Murphy

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Plame Game

Plame Game

Weighing in on the Plame matter doesn't seem worthwhile given the excellent coverage provided in countless other spots.

One thing needs to be reiterated over and over, however. A member of the White House staff tossed aside national security concerns (supposedly the moral basis of 21st century Republicanism) in the interest of politics.

Republicans will continue to be put forth the argument that master strategist, the boy genius, Karl Rove, didn't know about the covert status, or that he was trying to tell the truth, or that he didn't really use her name, or that Valerie Plame wasn't an undercover operative. All of these are attempts to spin the basic facts of the matter. Yet, as has been mentioned by others, they can not spin a criminal investigation.

If this were merely a political matter, the Rove machine would have steamrolled this a long time ago, but they can't steamroll a Special Prosecutor of the Department of Justice acting on a request from the CIA.

This administration has turned political calculation from an art into an obsession. Nothing is placed above the need to win.

Check out Josh Marshall for some of the most thorough coverage.

Kevin Drum over at The Washington Monthly hits the nail on the head, "Either you're outraged by such a casual attitude toward national security, or you aren't."

- Murphy

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Long time, no post....

Sorry. The computer has been in the shop and I have been caught up with some changes in work.

- Murphy