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Damn Oh the frustration

Damn! Oh the frustration! Sometimes I just feel like our new president cares about tax cuts a hundred times more than he cares about the important priorities which matter to most Americans.

Hyperbole? Well, not exactly. On Wednesday the Washington Post reported that Bush is calling for an increase of "$1.6 billion, in spending on elementary and secondary education."

$1.6 billion per year more in education for the kids and $1.6 trillion over ten years in tax cuts. Hmmmm ... Guess Karl Rove must have taken the day off the day they came up with that line item.

P.S. Why do I have to spoon feed this stuff to the Dems? Come on, guys!

Alright. Lets be honest

Alright. Let's be honest with ourselves about the real question in the evolving Hugh Rodham pardon flap, the real journalistic contest afoot.

Don't play dumb with me! You know what it is: the contest to see which news organization can come up with the most unsightly picture of Hugh Rodham. I was going with this beaut from MSNBC with Hugh on the golf course with a cigar. But they took it down so now we're on to this one. But it's not over yet. Entries are still pouring in!

Brouhahas like the Marc

Brouhahas like the Marc Rich pardon often become so lavish and baroque that they generate sub-brouhahas that innocent and well-meaning opinion journalists like Talking Points get sucked into.

I'm now in a tete-a-tete with Mickey Kaus over just such a sub-brouhaha about Bill Clinton's NYT Op-Ed piece in which the former President wrote "the case for the pardons was reviewed and advocated not only by my former White House counsel Jack Quinn but also by three distinguished Republican attorneys."

The lawyers in question jumped up to deny Clinton's statement and my friend Mickey, with an assist from the New York Times, accused Clinton of an "astonishing lie." Then I jumped into the fray and whacked Mickey and now Mickey has made his second jump into the fray and whacked me back, charging among other things, that what I said just doesn't hold up and that, in any case, I never got around to talking about two of the lawyers in question - something I'd promised to do.

I don't want to rehearse the whole episode again. So if you're interested you can see what I wrote here and what he wrote here.

So what's my defense? Honestly, I think Mickey is talking around what I said. If you read my original post I think it's rather clear that I left the door open to the possibility that the president's statement may have been in error. ("We'll talk later about the accuracy of the former president's statement. But can repeating an undisputed statement in the public record be an 'astonishing lie'?")

My point from the start was that Mickey and others had committed what the clinicians refer to as a CACOS (Classic Anti-Clinton Over-Statement).

Since the beginning of the Marc Rich pardon saga it's been widely believed and discussed that Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby was an attorney for Rich in the pardon matter until he started working in the White House. With a simple Nexis search I found two clear references to this and another in a copy of the New Yorker which I found in a slightly mangled state under my nightstand.

In his post, Mickey picks apart the New Yorker reference and says it's not as clear as I said it was. But Mickey ignores the other reference I found which is far more clear and direct. That would be when Tom Brokaw said "Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, also once represented Rich and also tried to arrange a pardon for him during that time."

Now perhaps Brokaw got it wrong (though I think he got it exactly right.) But let's go back to what I said. The question here is what's an error and what's an "astonishing lie." Repeating what everyone else also thinks to be true may involve you in a misstatement; and it may be sloppy or unwise. But to call it an "astonishing lie" seems ridiculous to me.

Now Mickey also points out that Clinton said this was one of the reasons for giving the pardon. And he did that before Tom Brokaw said anything. So maybe this is another lie. He's saying that it was a reason for the pardon as opposed to an after-the-fact justification?

But let's look at the facts. Lewis Libby was an attorney of record for Marc Rich in his efforts to get a pardon and remained so until just recently when he entered government service. If Libby is a remotely competent lawyer I assume he reviewed the pardon application and if he's an ethical one I assume he advocated his client's position. Libby's defense seems to be that he did not personally put in a call to Bill Clinton to push for the pardon. But this sounds a bit like what the anti-Clinton folks call 'parsing', doesn't it?

(In short, with regards to Libby, I think there's far more truth in Clinton's statment than Libby's response. And I'm quite comfortable diagnosing Kaus's original post as a CACOS.)

Now, let's go to the stronger part of Mickey's argument: that I never got around to discussing the other two lawyers, Brad Reynolds and Len Garment - which I had promised to do way back when in what now apparently counts as the Pleistocene Age back on February 18th.

This isn't a bad point. I have let four days go by without following up. And from what I know Reynolds and Garment are in a different category from Libby. Though both were intimately involved in constructing the arguments contained in Rich's application for a pardon, neither, it seems, has recently been in Rich's employee. So the accurate statement would have been "these two prominent Republican attorneys devised the argument that convinced me to pardon this scofflaw Marc Rich." Did Jack Quinn tell Clinton they'd been involved more recently? I don't know. (And if I did, I couldn't say anyway.)

Again, some statements are wrong, some are misstatements, some are "astonishing lies." I feel pretty comfortable in how I originally categorized this one, though I'll let you be the judge.

But let's not move off this matter quite so quickly. Len Garment has at least been a pretty stand-up guy about this. He says he didn't have anything to do with the current lobbying for a pardon. But he thinks it was the right thing to do. But what about these other Republican lawyers running for the hills, saying they never heard of this guy Marc Rich? I think Lewis Libby obviously used Ari Fleischer to lie for him. And Brad Reynolds? Well, he's just getting an easy pass from his buds in the press. Big surprise.

P.S. Oh, sorry. I forget to recite the pro-Clinton anti-Marc Rich oath …. I, Josh Marshall, disagree with the Marc Rich pardon but …

P.P.S. So what's deal with Kaus? A good guy? A friend? Totally.

P.P.P.S. Is this just a case when you're being diplomatic on the web because you don't want to make an enemy? No, No way. He rocks and he's been very good to me. A veritable Yoda to my Skywalker.

Hey look Mickey Kaus

Hey, look! Mickey Kaus is taking me on for my earlier whack at him over the Bill Clinton New York Times Op-Ed sub-brouhaha to the Marc Rich pardon brouhaha.

P.S. So are you going to respond? Definitely. But it's late so it'll have to wait till tomorrow.

P.P.S. Hey, this is important! Why can't you give us your response now? Dude! It's 2:30 in the morning! Gimme a break!

Hey Wait a second

Hey! Wait a second! Does Talking Points have to connect all the dots here? Remember that laptop that went missing from the State Department last year?

Maybe Hanssen snagged it!!!

According to this article just posted on MSNBC: "From February 1995 until January, Hanssen was the FBI's senior representative to the State Department's Office of Foreign Missions, where he oversaw an interagency counterintelligence group."

So maybe the problem wasn't Madeleine Albright running a loosey-goosey, slipshod operation. Maybe it was Louis Freeh sending a spy over to help 'oversee' State Department intelligence. Louis, good goin', dude!!!

P.S. Could Hanssen have been connected to that Russian diplomat who got caught working on an eavesdropping device outside State Department headquarters back in '99? Sure. Why not. Put that on the list too.

P.P.S. Do you have any reason to believe, or does it even make sense, that Hanssen could have been involved in either one of these incidents? No idea. But, hey, we're talkin' about Louis Freeh here so we can use his rulebook, no? Let's wait and see what Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb come up with.

Robert Philip Hanssen seems

Robert Philip Hanssen seems so obviously guilty that the only mystery remaining now in this espionage case is who Louis Freeh will find to pin the blame on and how he'll do it.

Washington is filled with people who have mastered the art of 'failing up.' But no one has mastered this art quite as well as Louis Freeh.

As the master profilographer David Plotz explained last Fall, what's most fascinating about Freeh is not that his agency has managed to blow many of the high profile cases it's been involved in over recent years (Waco, Richard Jewel, Wen Ho Lee, etc.). The real intrigue is that he's managed to pass almost all of it off as someone else's fault. Who takes the fall for this screw up? Janet Reno? Bill Clinton? Denise Rich? Bernie Sanders? Who? Think fast! Who?

Top Ten Reasons why

Top Ten Reasons why Hugh Rodham (Hillary's brother) getting $200,000 (now returned) to lobby in favor of pardons and commutations for convicted drug trafficker Carlos Vignali and herbal supplement king Almon Glenn Braswell ain't as bad as it looks.

5. Hugh Rodham won't need those secret payments from Marc Rich anymore.

4. Gives Jack Quinn someone to look down on.

3. Even drug traffickers need a break sometimes.

2. Makes clear Bill ain't the only one with a loser brother.

1. Gets that whole Marc Rich thing outta the headlines.

P.S. Hey, you said Top Ten! What happened to 10 through 6? Hey, it's *&#$%&@ free site. Gimme a break!

P.P.S. So Talking Points, are you still a big fan of Bill Clinton's. Yeah, no doubt. But this one's at least good for a laugh, isn't it? And sometimes, hell, if you can't beat 'em join 'em.

P.P.P.S. Is your face a deeper shade of red right now then it normally is? Absolutely.

Hey Wait a second

Hey! Wait a second! Does Talking Points have to connect all the dots here? Remember that laptop that went missing from the State Department last year?

Maybe Hanssen snagged it!!!

According to this article just posted on MSNBC: "From February 1995 until January, Hanssen was the FBI's senior representative to the State Department's Office of Foreign Missions, where he oversaw an interagency counterintelligence group."

So maybe the problem wasn't Madeleine Albright running a loosey-goosey, slipshod operation. Maybe it was Louis Freeh sending a spy over to help 'oversee' State Department intelligence. Louis, good goin', dude!!!

P.S. Could Hanssen have been connected to that Russian diplomat who got caught working on an eavesdropping device outside State Department headquarters back in '99? Sure. Why not. Put that on the list too.

P.P.S. Do you have any reason to believe, or does it even make sense, that Hanssen could have been involved in either one of these incidents? No idea. But, hey, we're talkin' about Louis Freeh here so we can use his rulebook, no? Let's wait and see what Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb come up with.

Robert Philip Hanssen seems

Robert Philip Hanssen seems so obviously guilty that the only mystery remaining now in this espionage case is who Louis Freeh will find to pin the blame on and how he'll do it.

Washington is filled with people who have mastered the art of 'failing up.' But no one has mastered this art quite as well as Louis Freeh.

As the master profilographer David Plotz explained last Fall, what's most fascinating about Freeh is not that his agency has managed to blow many of the high profile cases it's been involved in over recent years (Waco, Richard Jewel, Wen Ho Lee, etc.). The real intrigue is that he's managed to pass almost all of it off as someone else's fault. Who takes the fall for this screw up? Janet Reno? Bill Clinton? Denise Rich? Bernie Sanders? Who? Think fast! Who?

Hmmmmm ... Looks like

Hmmmmm ... Looks like still more confirmation of the Talking Points doctrine on the quickly diminishing prospects of the Bush tax cut bill. And now it's coming from the New York Times editorial page. It must be true.

The question now is whether anything has really changed at all or whether people just got spun by a good bluff from the Bush communications office. This isn't the first time this has happened. Think back to last November when Karl Rove had his man spend precious time in sure-lose states like California and New Jersey on the eve of what promised to be a squeaker on November 7th.

As I wrote at the time:

Coming into the campaign's final week, Karl Rove, George W.'s oily Svengali sold the governor's campaign on a pet theory of his that went like this: Not having much of a mind of their own, late-deciding voters look to see who's out front in the waning days of a campaign and cast their lots with the winner. Call it a bandwagon effect. The implication is clear: Act like the winner and you'll become the winner, and maybe even a big winner. And that's just what the Bush campaign did for the first week of November. Rove told the traveling press that the governor would win the popular vote by six or seven percentage points, and the electoral college even more comfortably. Bush coasted in and out of states like California and New Jersey, which he hadn't a prayer of winning, and kept a planeload of canny political reporters squinting their eyes and wondering whether Bush's chief strategists were magicians or morons.

They turned out not to be magicians, of course. Bush didn't win big. In fact, he didn't win at all, at least not if you're figuring the popular vote. Rove's bandwagon theory turned out to be just what it looked like: a souped up version of an old-fashioned confidence game. Only the Bush folks had conned themselves.
Something very similar happened after the election when Bush hung out in Austin for the first few days of the Florida stand-off assuming people would just agree he was president-elect if he pretended like he was.

This is the emerging MO.

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