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Monday | October 13, 2003

"Other" Open Thread: Last night on MT

For everything else.

09:58 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)

"Dem Primary" Open Thread: Last night on MT

Sorry for having two sites going, but like I said, things will be a bit confused over the next two days as the transition gets made.

Use this space to discuss the candidates.

09:57 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)

Sneak peek

For those who can't wait to check out the new Daily Kos:

09:17 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Trackback (0)

MT version of dKos is now obsolete

Greetings. It's been clear for some time that I needed to do something to ensure the continued viability of Daily Kos. The message boards -- the heart and sould of this site -- were becoming unruly. Flame wars were getting out of hand, people were stealing handles from the regulars, and freeper attacks were getting increasingly more difficult to contain.

It was time to evolve.

This version of Daily Kos uses Movable Type, an amazing piece of software. But I needed something that allowed for greater community moderation and control.

So I have rebuilt Daily Kos in Scoop, a heavy-duty content management system. Aesthetically, the site will look mostly the same (I've made some tweaks, hopefully for the better). Functionally, things will be much more different.

  1. User accounts: All posters will have to register an account. This will ensure that no one can steal anyone else's handle, while also enabling powerful community moderation features.

  2. Community Moderation: The community will be able to moderate itself, eliminating trolls via collective action. I've set up safeguards to ensure that Dean supporters or Clark supporters don't try and hijack the threads by collectively banning the other side. It may take some tweaking, but it should work mostly okay.

  3. Mojo: Users who are consistently ranked high by other users will see higher "mojo" ratings. In addition to the prestige of being a highly ranked community member, they will also get extra community moderation powers. It's your community, Scoop will allow you to take responsibility for it.

  4. Story Polls: Scoop allows me to attach an Internet poll to every story I (or a guest poster) writes. Not every story will have a poll, but many will. This feature will help make the site even more interactive. Should be cool.

  5. Customizable Homepage: The new dKos will allow you to customize the homepage. Early customizing will be minimal, but will grow over time. Still, you'll be able to set how many stories you want on the homepage, and whether to sport various features on the columns.

    You will also be to automatically place RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and news sources. In other words, you can have Atrios and Guardian UK headlines automatically displayed on your customized dKos homepage. And bloggers can submit their own RSS feeds for inclusion.

  6. Tradeoffs: There is no perfect solution. The tradeoffs: comments won't pop-up in a new box. I may try to hack the system to make this happen later on, but for now, that handy little feature we're all so used to will no longer be available. Also, Trackback, an MT-only feature, will no longer be available.

    One other thing -- I won't be transferring the content from this site to the new one. I don't think it's possible without major hacking. Instead, I will maintain this "legacy" version of Daily Kos at dailykos.net, mostly for historical purposes. The Scoop dKos will be located at dailykos.com.

Now you may see some weirdness over the next 48 hours as I do some tricky navigation between DNS changes. Don't worry if you don't know what that means. In short, one person may see the new site, one person may see the old one, and yet another may see nothing but an empty page. Image links may suddenly break.

In short, the transition may be clean, or it may be a total clusterfuck. I don't know which, but be prepared for the worst. And expect light posting during the transition.

And finally, there will probably be bugs. So we'll work together and get through this, like we've gotten through every past challenge. I believe strongly the end result will be worth whatever hassle we might endure.

This is going to be really cool.

06:33 PM | Link | Comments (140) | Trackback (0)


From the Associated Press:

11:29 AM | Link | Comments (250) | Trackback (6)

State of the Democratic Race

Just some quick thoughts on the primary race:

He's under attack by every other serious candidate. Dean rode such criticism to the top dog position, and Clark can benefit equally. However, he's got to eliminate the niggling distractions (paid speaking gigs, etc). Individually, those might not be big deals, but you add up enough of them, and negative patterns emerge. Also, the primary electorate is far more informed than the general electorate. Clark has to start providing specifics.

And fact is, Clark is faring poorly in the first seven primary states. There's a real question about Clark's chances if he can't pull off a victory the first month of the election season, despite whatever the national polls might say.

Gephardt must win Iowa. Kerry must win NH. Expect Dean, who is leading in both those states, to get hit by a barrage of ads from both those opponents. Dean has the money to respond, but the collateral damage may bring him down anyway as other candidates stay "above the fray".

Early signs are that Dean will go negative on Clark. I would let Edwards and Lieberman take on Clark (they are more directly affected by Clark's candidacy at this point), but I've never run a national presidential race before. So what do I know?

He needs to win Iowa. Period. As such, he'll probably take what cash he has and go nuclear on Dean. Expect the ads to start running anytime now.

The problem with Gep is that even an Iowa victory leaves him with little else. He survives to fight another day, but he'd be left broke and facing a hostile calendar strong competition in the following states (against candidates with geographical advantages like Clark and Gephardt).

A Gep Iowa victory might resemble McCain's 2000 New Hampshire victory.

Forays into South Carolina have all but ended thanks to his weak poll numbers, Edward's surge, and Clark's entrance in the race. He's back to Plan A -- winning New Hampshire.

However, Dean has solidified his lead in the Granite State. So expect Kerry to spend a significant portion of his sizeable cash hoarde to try and take down Dean. This should go negative, as Kerry will go for broke.

Given his low poll ratings, the rest of the candidates have ignored him thus far. But as he rises, he'll garner new attention. Witness Clark's campaign announcement, timed to steal Edwards' own announcement thunder. Edwards won't be able to stay above the fray much longer.

Edwards has made SC his firewall, but Clark needs SC as well. So does Lieberman. Things will get rough.

Thus Edwards, more so than any other candidate in the race, has an interest in brining down Clark as soon as possible. The others may want to weaken him in expectation that it will be become a Clark and anti-Clark race. But for Edwards, the road to the nominantion runs straight through Clark.

The others
None of the other candidates, Lieberman included, are players in this race. It'll come down to the five above.

09:16 AM | Link | Comments (458) | Trackback (4)

Wrong call, Dennis

Kucinich is now formally a candidate for president.

He is, however, going to run for his House seat as well. That's probably a good call.

08:54 AM | Link | Comments (49) | Trackback (0)

Texas GOP gets its redistricting

Time to call the lawyers. Texas has a new map.

After Sunday night's subdued vote in the Senate, the fight over congressional boundaries now moves to the legal arena. The U.S. Justice Department must review the map to determine whether it dilutes minority voting rights, and Democrats are expected to challenge the map in court. They first hope a court will stop the 2004 election from occurring under the Republican-drawn map.

"The fight is not over, and it will not be over until the court of last resort has its say," said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. "I think, because of its aggressive nature, someone should stop it. If the Department of Justice is doing its job, it will."

08:50 AM | Link | Comments (32) | Trackback (1)

"Iraq is wonderful" offensive uses form letter

Boy, lots of soldiers are mailing their hometown newspapers to let the folks back home know how wonderful Bush's War is going. It's just really weird how ever letter looks exactly the same.

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.

And all the letters are the same.

A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.

The Olympian received two identical letters signed by different hometown soldiers: Spc. Joshua Ackler and Spc. Alex Marois, who is now a sergeant. The paper declined to run either because of a policy not to publish form letters.

As far as "P.R. Offensives" are concerned, this latest from the Bush Administration is about the clumsiest I've ever seen.

But to be fair, it must be tough arguing things are going splendidly when soldiers continue to die, other soldiers kill themselves at alarming rates (14 in the last seven months), Iraq's governing council is not acting like good colonial subjects, refusing to rubberstamp a Turkish troop deployment in Iraq, Baghdad is looking more and more like the West Bank, we're losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraq people, and those collaborating with the occupation are assassinated.

But the best part of all?

President Bush, annoyed by what he considers the "filter" of news reporting, will seek to go around the press on Monday through television outlets that do not routinely cover the White House.
Translation: Bush hates news that isn't "filtered" by his own merry band of "yes men" (and women). So he'll continue on his merry tour, arguing that white is black, up is down, and that he is a "compassionate conservative".

08:35 AM | Link | Comments (59) | Trackback (5)

Rumsfeld May Have Something to Say About a Chinese in Space

By Meteor Blades

If, as expected, China successfully launches its first “taikonaut” for a 14-orbit ride around the planet this coming week, count on a flurry of Op-Eds spouting the Administration line regarding the need for ballistic missile defense and for weaponizing outer space.

Ever since the Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization came out two and a half years ago, it’s been apparent that the U.S. goal under Bush – despite nearly unanimous international opposition – is to move ahead with ensuring that nearby outer space is the next battlefield.

Known also as the 2nd Rumsfeld Commission, the CAUSNSSMO concluded that it is inevitable that weapons will be introduced into space, and that the U.S. must not allow its supremacy there to be challenged.

Aghast critics have said: What’s the threat?

China’s launch of its first human into space will no doubt offer the opportunity to answer that question with one word: Beijing.

In July, the Department of Defense issued its annual The Military Power of the People's Republic of China. The report noted:

"Publicly, China opposes the militarization of space and seeks to prevent the development of US anti-satellites systems and space-based missile defenses. Privately, however, China's leaders view [moves to militarize space] ... as inevitabilities."

Among the report’s findings: China is creating anti-satellite weaponry, building new “heavy-lift” rockets and working on electronic warfare techniques to jam receivers used by Global Positioning System (GPS), a crucial element of the Pentagon’s smart weapons targeting capabilities.

The DoD report also quotes Captain Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute to the effect that a weaker country might defeat one with superior forces by attacking its space-based communications and surveillance systems.

"The mastery of outer space will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat," the DoD quotes Shen as saying.

12:46 AM | Link | Comments (83) | Trackback (1)

OPEN THREAD - Presidential Candidates

Eight men. One woman. Yours to praise or pummel.

12:31 AM | Link | Comments (182) | Trackback (0)

OPEN THREAD - All About Everything Not Related to Presidential Candidates

Baseball. Iraq. The Monday blues. Anything that tweaks your brain.

12:29 AM | Link | Comments (85) | Trackback (0)

Sunday | October 12, 2003

Valerie Plame Affair Not Forgotten

By Meteor Blades

Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo gets it right when he says the Washington Post has been the "first, second and third paper to go to" in the coverage of the Valerie Plame Affair. They’ve been doing excellent work ever since they published their initial story on September 28. However, credit where credit is due: the Post's lightning bolt appeared 36 hours after this one appeared on MSNBC and NBC News.

Whoever gets dibs on scoop rights, the Post certainly deserves kudos for not letting the story die. Today’s piece by Walter Pincus and Mike Allen helps bring into focus what happened during the month before the now-notorious Robert Novak column outing Plame. Fascinating stuff that in some scandals only becomes known years later when historians pry once-reluctant sources out of the woodwork.

Once again, it’s clear that the overriding issue of this whole affair is not the outing of one secret agent, but the Administration’s pattern of activities against anyone who challenged its public assessment of - and rationale for going to war with - Iraq. The target this time was Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson. Others filled that role previously.

There’s good blogging and reader commentary on the subject over at Billmon and Calpundit .

The machinations of the White House spin brigade are noted high up in the Post’s Sunday article:

Administration sources said they believe that the officials who discussed Plame were not trying to expose her, but were using the information as a tool to try to persuade reporters to ignore Wilson. The officials wanted to convince the reporters that he had benefited from nepotism in being chosen for the mission.

The Post presents new information on an aspect about which there has been much speculation - the timing of alleged revelations to six journalists other than Novak.

On July 7, the White House admitted it had been a mistake to include the 16 words about uranium in Bush's State of the Union speech. Four days later, with the controversy dominating the airwaves and drowning out the messages Bush intended to send during his trip in Africa, CIA Director George J. Tenet took public blame for failing to have the sentence removed.

That same week, two top White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to least six Washington journalists, an administration official told The Post for an article published Sept. 28. The source elaborated on the conversations last week, saying that officials brought up Plame as part of their broader case against Wilson.

"It was unsolicited," the source said. "They were pushing back. They used everything they had."

This would indicate that at least some of the other journalists were told about Plame BEFORE Novak’s column was published, not afterward, as some earlier reports have stated.

As each puny posturing of Sean Hannity, National Review Online, the Wall Street Journal and lesser rightwing lights has fallen prey to new disclosures, new posturing has arisen. After previously claiming that Plame might not be an agent, then shifting to claims she was never undercover, then shifting to claims she’s isn’t undercover now, then shifting to claims her exposure didn’t endanger her or any other agents, the shifters' latest effort goes along these lines: We can’t really know what damage might have been caused by her exposure, and neither could whichever high-level Administration official blew her cover; therefore, it was not the big deal partisans are making of it.

Although it contains nothing new, Knight Ridder has a good wrap-up of the potentially widespread damage the Plame revelations may have caused.

As for risks to Plame herself:

In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press this weekend, Wilson said he was increasingly concerned about his wife's security posture.

The U.S. government had not offered any security measures, said Wilson, adding that a leading former CIA official had said his wife "was probably the single highest target of any possible terrorist organization or hostile intelligence service that might want to do damage."

Another theory floating about - that White House officials may be exculpated in this matter because they were allegedly not the original leakers - doesn’t find a believer in former Nixon counsel John Dean :

But even if the White House was not initially involved with the leak, it has exploited it. As a result, it may have opened itself to additional criminal charges under the federal conspiracy statute.

This elegantly simple law has snared countless people working for, or with, the federal government. Suppose a conspiracy is in progress. Even those who come in later, and who share in the purpose of the conspiracy, can become responsible for all that has gone on before they joined. They need not realize they are breaking the law; they need only have joined the conspiracy.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who first brought Wilson’s 2002 trip to Niger into the public arena argues against appointment of a special prosecutor. Too distracting to good governance, he says, concluding that "This scandal leaves everybody stinking" - journalists for not excoriating Novak, Democrats for exaggerating the potential damage and calling for a special prosecutor, the Administration for trying to whitewash a serious breach of security.

Sorry, that dog won’t pant, much less hunt. True, there’s bad odor galore in this affair, but there simply is no aromatic equivalency between what the leakers did and the desire of others to find out who they were and punish them for it.

We would all be deaf by now if this outing had happened when Bill Clinton or any Democrat were in the White House. The rightwing pundits wouldn’t be calling for a special prosecutor, they’d be inciting a lynch mob to swing the "insidious traitors" who compromised America’s security from the sturdiest tree on the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania.

02:51 PM | Link | Comments (77) | Trackback (1)

Will Israel Blast Iran's Nuclear Facilities?

By Meteor Blades

German U-boats have made the front pages this weekend for the first time in nearly 60 years. Israel is said to have outfitted three modern, German-made diesel submarines to fire nuclear-tipped missiles. Although the government never discusses its nuclear capability openly – and punishes journalists who do – the submarines mean Israel now can launch an atomic attack or retaliation from land, air or sea.

Weekend reports in German, American and Israeli media all indicate that the announcement is part of a stepped-up offensive by the United States and Israel against Iran’s alleged efforts to produce nuclear weapons.

Ha’aretz, the left of center Israeli daily, reports :

Heading off Iran’s attempt to attain nuclear capability is one of the Mossad’s main missions, and the foreign media is one of the most important instruments utilized in this effort. Mossad agents supply foreign journalists with information about Iran’s nuclear efforts; such foreign reports, the Mossad expects, support the international campaign to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Sometimes, the foreign media are used to deliver deterrence-oriented messages about Israel’s capabilities and intentions. Sources say one Mossad official was recently commended by his superiors after a leading U.S. newspaper released a report about progress notched in Iran’s nuclear weapons.

That agent must be all smiles today if the stories in Der Spiegel and the Los Angeles Times were his doing.

In conjunction with its report on the conversion of the U-boats, Der Spiegel published a story saying that Israel has developed detailed plans for taking out six Iranian nuclear sites.

The conservative Jerusalem Post reports :

The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported Saturday that Israel has prepared plans for a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to halt Iran’s progress towards attaining nuclear weapons. Der Spiegel reported that a special unit of the Mossad received an order two months ago to prepare a detailed plan to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites. According to the paper, the Mossad’s plan is ready and has been delivered to the Israeli Air Force, which will carry out the strike.

The newspaper said its source is an IAF fighter-bomber pilot, who said the plan to take out Iran’s nuclear sites was “complex, yet manageable.” …

The report went on to say that three of Iran’s nuclear sites were totally unknown to the outside world.

In the most comprehensive of the newspaper stories, the Sunday Los Angeles Times quotes “senior Bush administration and Israeli officials” that Tel Aviv has accomplished what was reported as a potentiality in the Washington Post more than a year ago.

The Times says:

Israel has modified American-supplied cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads on submarines, giving the Middle East’s only nuclear power the ability to launch atomic weapons from land, air and beneath the sea, according to senior Bush administration and Israeli officials. …

While not acknowledging the country’s nuclear capability, Israeli officials have promised they would not “introduce” such weapons to the Middle East. Israeli and U.S. officials said that means Israel would not launch a first strike using the weapons. They argue that other countries have nothing to fear from Israel’s nuclear arms, whereas Israel has everything to fear from its neighbors. Even so, Israel’s nuclear stockpile confers military superiority that translates into a high degree of freedom of action, from bombing a suspected terrorist camp in Syria last week to the destruction of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. ...

Since 1969, Washington has accepted Israel’s status as a nuclear power and not pressured it to sign the nonproliferation treaty. …

Israel’s nuclear program remains shrouded by a policy it calls “nuclear ambiguity.” The phrase means Israel does not acknowledge its nuclear capability and suffer the accompanying political and economic fallout, yet it gains the benefit of deterrence because other nations know the weapons exist.

The timing of the “leaks” underpinning the current stories – backed up by the Ha’aretz story linked above – clearly seems designed to exert pressure on Iran, which has been standing firm against tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It seems to be a U.S.-Israeli message delivered in tandem: Give us a good look inside those facilities or we’ll smash them.

Nobody should doubt that Israel would take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It destroyed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak in 1981. Pre-emptive strikes produce no squeamishness in Tel Aviv. Whether Israel is being “encouraged” in this direction by the United States or moving on its own can be debated endlessly with no resolution.

The question is what the diplomatic and military fallout will be if it does send its jets against Iran. Tehran has warned that Israel would pay a heavy price for such an attack. Many moderate Muslims who saw the Afghan-Taliban attack as justified, the Iraq attack as far less so, likely would see such a move against Iran by Israel – already regarded as a U.S. puppet - as clear evidence that America really is engaged in a crusade not against terrorists but Islam itself.

U.S. nuclear inspectors were allegedly tricked for decades (by a false wall) into believing that no weapons grade materials were being produced at Israel’s Dimona reactor beginning in 1964. Maybe so, but it’s no secret to anyone that the U.S. has turned a blind eye toward Israel’s development of sophisticated nuclear weapons. Moreover, unlike Washington’s attitude toward other countries in the Middle East, and throughout the world, no pressure has been exerted on Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty.

As the Times notes:

"We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France," a senior administration official said. "We don't regard Israel as a threat."

To avoid triggering American economic and military sanctions, U.S. intelligence agencies routinely omit Israel from semiannual reports to Congress identifying countries developing weapons of mass destruction.

However one may feel about Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and Washington’s “toleration” of this, for even moderate Arabs this represents an infuriating double-standard and is viewed as a prime example of an unwillingness to be even-handed.

Again, as the Times reports:

Arab diplomats and U.N. officials said Israel’s steady enhancement of its secret nuclear arsenal, and U.S. silence about it, has increased the desire of Arab states for similar weapons.

Israel argues that it is surrounded by enemies, and that the worst is Iran, which has publicly called for destruction of the Jewish state. Iran cannot, Israelis say, be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons.

It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that nuclear weapons don’t spread any further than they already have. Indeed, it’s in everybody’s interests for governments to work toward the day when every last one of these weapons is dismantled. Only post-apartheid South Africa has been willing to go that far. But that is proof that the genie can be returned to bottle.

As long as Israel has nuclear weapons other nations will argue that they, too, must have them. To get Israel to surrender its nuclear capability will not happen until it is assured that its very existence is no longer at stake.

This makes for a knot of Gordian qualities. It cannot be cut with a pre-emptive swing of the sword. A diplomatic unraveling is necessary.

12:27 AM | Link | Comments (172) | Trackback (4)

OPEN THREAD - Presidential Candidates

Who's your favorite? Who gets your goat?

12:25 AM | Link | Comments (352) | Trackback (0)

OPEN THREAD - Not for the Presidential Candidates

This is the thread for all things not related to the presidential candidates.

12:22 AM | Link | Comments (99) | Trackback (0)

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Poll Watch


and indicate whether Bush's numbers are up or down from the previous poll.

Check out the incomparable Pollkatz charts. And for historical poll numbers for most of the outfits below, you can't beat the Polling Report.

ABC News/WP 9/30
Approve: 54 (-4)
Disapprove: 44 (+4)

Newsweek 9/25-26
Approve: 52 (+1)
Disapprove: 40 (-2)

Fox News 9/23-24
Approve: 50 (-8)
Disapprove: 40 (+7)

Zogby 9/22-24
Positive: 50 (+5)
Negative: 49 (-5)

NBC News/WSJ 9/20-22
Approve: 49 (-7)
Disapprove: 45 (+7)

ARG 9/19-22
Approve: 47 (-7)
Disapprove: 48 (+9)

Gallup 9/19-21
Approve: 50 (-2)
Disapprove: 47 (+4)

Ipsos-Reid/Cook 9/16-18
Approve: 55 (+3)
Disapprove: 43 (-2)

v CBS News 9/15-16
Approve: 52 (-3)
Disapprove: 39 (+2)

Time/CNN 9/3-4
Approve: 52 (-3)
Disapprove: 42 (+2)

Pew Research 7/14-8/5
Approve: 53 (-5)
Disapprove: 37 (+5)

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