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Monday, June 10

AGAIN, IT'S THE TIMING. Thank God we caught this al Qaeda bomber who had plans to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the U.S. But look closely. Abdullah Al Mujahir was caught on May 8th. That's over a month ago. Why are we finding out about it today?

The GOP keeps accusing Dems of playing politics with the war on terrorism. But the Dems got nothin' on the White House! [posted 11:30 am]

WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Just as Tapped was settling down to pick apart Tom Edsall's Washington Post story on how the new campaign finance law will benefit liberals (based on this Public Citizen report), we found that our fellow blogger Mickey Kaus had already had his way with him. Kaus is right on -- cats and dogs, living together! -- that the conclusions Edsall draws are pretty specious. And let us second Kaus' point that the PAC experience tells us a lot about how conservative ideologues and corporate America will soon swamp the liberals who've so far been dominant in the world of 527's. But there's another point to be made: Even if all the soft money that the national parties collected morphed into 527 committee-type soft money, it would still be drowned in a sea of hard money, particularly in a post-McCain-Feingold world where hard money limits are doubled (yet another provision that favors Republicans). There was three times as much hard money in the 2000 election cycle as soft money, business interests outgave labor by 13 times, and the Republicans far outdistanced the Democrats in collecting it. ($466 million to $275 million.) Edsall -- normally an astute analyst -- has missed the bigger picture. [posted 11:30 am]

WHO ARE THE DEAD? Provocative numbers on the demographics of Israelis and Palestinians killed recently in the Middle East, as cited by The Village Voice. (Courtesy of The Poor Man.) Here are the key paragraphs:

"According to data from Palestinian sources, 55 percent of the Palestinian dead were combatants," said Don Radlauer, an ex-New Yorker, who is building a casualty database at ICT. "And we rated all kids under 13 as non-combatants, even if they were armed when they were killed."

On the Israeli side, statistics show that only 25 percent of the dead were combatants.

The data on the number of women killed is even more telling. Radlauer said the findings "were not what we were expecting."

"Less than 5 percent of all Palestinian casualties to date were female," he said, "while 30 percent of Israeli casualties were women."

"Among the non-combatants killed, and again relying on Palestinian reports, we found that 7 percent were Palestinian women," he said. "In contrast, 37 percent of the Israeli non-combatant dead were women."

Looking at solid numbers, the Palestinians report a total of 66 women killed as of the end of April. In the same period, 135 Israeli women died, all but three non-combatants.

"But if you only look at non-combatants, excluding female suicide bombers and women killed in bomb factory 'work accidents,' etc., the number drops to 40 Palestinian women killed," Radlauer said.

"Do the math—132 Israeli female civilians compared with 40 Palestinian women," he said. "That's more than three Israeli women killed for every one Palestinian."

"Palestinian data on fatalities do not bear out the claim that Israel is attacking a civilian population in their homes," said Radlauer.

Tapped doesn't know anything about the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Israel, which produced the numbers. We'd like to hear back on this from our readers. [posted 11:20 am]

FORGET SOCIALISM. WHAT ABOUT NEPOTISM? Astute commentators have long noted the neoconservative penchant for nepotism. (The upwards failure of John Podhoretz, possibly the worst movie critic in Christendom, being the prime example.) Last week the excellent Rittenhouse Review noted that Midge Decter's latest review essay in Commentary heaps praise on Joshua Muravchik's new book Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. But that's no surprise. Decter is Muravchik's aunt! Like Rittenhouse, we wonder if Commentary editor Neal Kozodoy knew this when he assigned the book. [posted 11:10 am]

AND WE'RE LIVE. As you may have noticed, we at Tapped have been busy little bees this morning, and that includes providing full-length articles. We just posted four items, the first of which is the cover story from the latest issue of The American Prospect, an essay by India-Pakistan expert Sumit Ganguly on the backstory behind the current tension. There's also Robert Kuttner's latest column on the Bush administration's tough guy approach to welfare reform and a piece by Richard Just on dictators who invoke democracy. Finally, in another piece from our magazine, Nick Penniman outs ALEC, the most powerful lobby you've never heard of. Enjoy! [posted 9:55 am]

WE DON'T CAIR. Bravo to CNN's Lou Dobbs for calling the threat we face today by its real name: "Islamism." As Dobbs defines the term, "Islamists" are "extreme, radical Muslims, who are trying to destroy us, our society, our economy, our way of life." This has of course triggered various P.C. reactions, not least of all from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). But even someone who dissents from Dobbs' definition, Arab-American professor Fawaz Gerges, notes that "Islamists are Muslim fundamentalists, whose goal is to replace a secular political regime with a religious one." Granted, Gerges draws the following distinction: He says that not all Islamists use violence to achieve their ends. Nevertheless, those ends are theocratic and totalitarian, and as a free people we should by definition oppose them and define them as a threat. Tapped is happy to call those on the religious right "Christian fundamentalists" or even "Christian theocrats," and we see no difference in the religion-specific use of the term "Islamists." [posted 9:30 am]

ECOUTEZ, DEMOCRATS. Sebastian Mallaby summarizes the case this morning against corporate America: personal greed; accounting flim-flam; and simple cheating (as in the statistical falsification of drug efficacy). Mallaby seems to have the Democrats' 2002 campaign message all worked out: "Companies are fleeing to offshore havens, forcing you to pay more tax. They lobby for useless weapons, farm subsidies and other corporate welfare, so that your tax dollars get wasted. And look at Enron and Adelphia and those pharmaceutical firms: They are wrecking your retirement funds with accounting tricks, jeopardizing your job security by siphoning cash out of your firm and bankrupting your grandma with sky-high drug prices." [posted 9:30 am]

POLITICAL PROFILING. Maybe nothing should surprise us anymore when it comes to political operating in the nation's capitol, but this time Grover Norquist has taken it too far. He's passing out lists to administration higher-ups that describe which lobbyists are Republican enough to get in the door to argue their clients' cases. These blacklists also dictate which lobbyists are Democrats and therefore should be excluded from meetings with the executive branch and leading congressional Republicans. While Tapped has long observed that those who back up their lobbying efforts with campaign contributions get better access, to threaten to deny access to non-Republicans is patently counter to the basic notion that anyone in this country has a right to present their case before the government. [posted 9:30 am]

KOZLOUSY. Everyone is focusing on Tyco chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski's $1 million dollar personal avoidance of New York taxes and his $18 million apartment and $13 million worth of paintings. But the real story is that he moved Tyco "headquarters" to Bermuda and thus avoided $1.6 billion in taxes to the U.S. Treasury over the past three years (this according the Sloan report aired on NPR this morning, no link available unfortunately). The New York Times refers to $400 million in taxes avoided last year alone. That's an outrage. [posted 9:30 am]

SUPERIOR INTELLIGENCE. Humorist Andy Borowitz decodes the real meaning of what went on at the FBI and CIA. [posted 9:30 am]

POT, KETTLE DEPT. Un-effing believable. Ann Coulter, the most jargon-peddling and slanderous of all of the extreme right's pundit commentators, is coming out with a book entitled Slander, accusing liberals of defaming the right. Who wants to bet that her book will stoop much lower than anyone she criticizes ever has? [posted 9:00 am]

FUNDRAISERS IN CHIEF. Most of you probably remember when Republicans derided former President Bill Clinton as our "fundraiser in chief." So, Tapped wants to be the first to bestow the new title on President Bush and Veep Cheney. The Associated Press predicts that all told, that dynamic duo will generate some $90 million for this year's congressional races. [posted 9:00 am]

MURKY SKIES. The administration's announced plans to enlist environmental groups' support for Bush's industry-friendly, voluntary Clear Skies initiative (similar to the one in Texas that failed miserably to improve air quality) is nothing but a PR scam. Pretty much every group we can think of -- see here and here and here and here -- has denounced it. [posted 9:00 am]
[Americans for a Fair Estate Tax. Responsible Wealth is another place to go for all the background information. [posted 8:40 am]

MORE ON HALLIBURTON. In his latest column, Frank Rich hits hard on the Dick Cheney- Halliburton case. Even though Cheney's associates say that he was a hands-off manager and had nothing to do with the company's current troubles, Rich nails him with a quote from Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill: "C.E.O.'s are the ones who know what's going on in their companies ... There's no excuse for them not to know." [posted 8:20 am]

INTELLIGENCE? It sounds like the Sunday talk show participants exposed the obvious inadequacies of President Bush's deck chair-shuffling homeland security scheme -- which Tapped thinks was more about distracting attention from the hearings on September 11th intelligence failures than about solving problems. Earth to Bush: Do the plans touch the FBI or CIA? The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham (D-FL), said, "If the administration takes the stonewall position that every word in their plan is biblical and if you change it you're unpatriotic, I think that will be a very serious error." Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the committee, said that there's more to come: "As this investigation unfolds, you are going to see more and more problems in the intelligence community." Could we, like, maybe, develop a plan to fix them? [posted 8:20 am]
[Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the committee, said that there's more to come: "As this investigation unfolds, you are going to see more and more problems in the intelligence community." Could we, like, maybe, develop a plan to fix them? [posted 8:20 am]

NO WONDER NO ONE WANTS TO RUN FOR OFFICE. Here's more evidence of just how rotten the campaign finance system is (and will continue to be even after the new law kicks in). The current Oregon secretary of state, Bill Bradbury, is grubbing for money like a telemarketer because he's running against an incumbent who's outraising him by at least 5:1. Bradbury follows his script all day long, every day, to prove he's a credible candidate. And indeed, he's getting people to cough up $100 or $200 a pop -- and, wow, has raised nearly $700,000. Meanwhile, waiting at the bank, is incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, who's raised $5.3 million (and counting). [posted 8:20 am]

IT'S OFFICIAL. Over the weekend, the administration admitted that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would have direct say over the development of environmental regulations (this in the immediate case of regulations concerning emissions from diesel-power vehicles and road equipment like bulldozers and tractors). Normally, OMB just reviews the regulations. But with anti-regulatory czar John Graham in charge and already throwing his weight around on health and safety matters, we suppose the administration finally decided to make it official. What was particularly interesting is that the decision to move forward on the regulations comes just a couple of days before the release of a new study linking non-road diesel engines to 8,500 premature deaths a year. [posted 8:00 am]

YANK JEFF AGOOS. Tapped woke up at 2:00 am this morning to watch team USA play South Korea in the World Cup, and so we think we're entitled to some commentary. Particularly the following: USA defender Jeff Agoos has to go, the sooner the better. This is the guy who scored on his own goal in last week's match against Portugal. And in this morning's disappointing 1-1 tie against South Korea, Agoos a) received a yellow card; b) committed a foul inside the box giving South Korea a penalty kick (one that they managed to miss); and c) as if that weren't enough, was beaten by his man in the closing minutes of the game, resulting in South Korea's tying goal on a header. It's pretty obvious to Tapped where the weak link on this USA team is. [posted 8:00 am]

OUR JAWS DROP. Senator Phil Gramm's (R-TX) remarks before the Texan Republican convention were really over the top. Good riddance to this guy. [posted 8:00 am]

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